IF YOU’VE READ Tobias J. Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim’s excellent book Scorecasting: The hidden influences behind how sports are played and games are won, you’ll know that the notion of home advantage is very much a reality sport.
The fact that Indian golfer SSP Chowrasia’s second European Tour victory was also his second on Indian soil adds weight to that reality.
Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia, to give him his full name, added the Avantha Masters in Dehli to his CV this weekend, having opened his account at the at 2008 Indian Masters.
The win, as well as making him €300,000 richer, guarantees him entry to every event on the European Tour until the end of the 2013. Happy days for a man who began this season as a Challenge Tour player without full European Tour membership.
Spare a thought for Englishman Robert Coles though. A par on the par five 18th hole on Sunday would have got him into a playoff, a birdie would have won him the tournament outright.
Beside the green after two shots is generally a good place to be on par five if you need to make a birdie. Not for Coles though. He thinned his chip 20 feet past the hole, then knocked the putt eight feet too far, back the other side.
The subsequent eight footer, as you may have predicted, didn’t even threaten the hole and Chowrasia breathed a sigh of relief.
Coles had a number of chances over the final holes, but will ultimately rue the fact that he didn’t manage to make a single birdie on the back nine on Sunday. At least he will have one good memory from the tournament; his eagle on the seventh hole on Sunday was pretty sweet:
Winning golf tournaments is all about the back nine on Sunday. You can put yourself in contention after 83 holes as many times as you want, but if you don’t make birdies over the final nine, you’ll never win.
In Aaron Baddeley’s case, he needed birdies to cancel out the double bogey he made on the twelfth hole at Riviera Country Club and thankfully for him, he made two of them.
The 29 year-old Australian took home the Northern Trust Open on Sunday night, his first victory on the PGA Tour since February 2007.
The story of the tournament, however, was undoubtedly the performance of Fred “Boom Boom” Couples. As well as still being very much a fan-favourite, the former World Number One still has one of the smoothest swings on the planet. Check out the commentators drooling over it in this video:
That swing and few nice putts to boot saw him with the lead at the half way stage. The crowd got behind him and expectation rose, but unfortunately his chronic back trouble got the better of him.
Remember those golf shoes he wore last year at the US Masters?
He’s clearly tried his best to get rid of it but the condition is in fact so bad, that he barely spends any time on the range before playing a round. He hits a few shots with the driver (the longest club in the bag so he can stay as upright as possible) and away he goes to the first tee.
Nevertheless, he got off to a blistering start on Sunday, making three birdies in his opening three holes, but his back let him down on the seventh. He hit a tee shot into deep rough and had to hack out.
From then on, he admitted: “I just didn’t feel the same. I didn’t really hurt myself, but I never hit a shot, and I just got it around. I mean, I couldn’t hit an iron. I hit a few good drives, but I was afraid to hit the ground.”
With that, his chances faded.
Let’s not forget about Baddeley all the same. So much was expected of the Australian when he won his home Open as an 18-year-old amateur , but he became a slave to swing changes at an important point in his career (is it just me or did a certain Irish Major winner suddenly pop into your head as well?).
Baddeley saw the light, however, and reacquainted himself with his old coach Dale Lynch with whom it has taken two years to get to a point where he can win tournaments. And he did so with consistent, good golf:
Worthy mention also for Vijay Singh who had his best finish in over two years, just three weeks after falling out of the top 100 in the World Rankings for the first time since 1990.
- Playing at home is most definitely an advantage in golf.
- Fred Couple’s swing is still as smooth as satin.
- You need to make birdies on the back nine on Sunday to win tournaments.
- Aaron Baddeley seems to have overcome major swing difficulties. Expect him to climb back up the World Rankings this year.
- One of the big tournaments of the year, the WGC Accenture Matchplay Championship gets underway later this week. Ian Poulter defends.