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Jun 19, 2014 | 08:45 AM

Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Any athlete would be proud to represent his country in the Olympics, But what if you had two countries to choose from? That was the question facing Rory McIlroy ever since golf was announced as an event in the 2016 Olympics. The sixth-ranked golfer in the world was born and raised in Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom. As an amateur he competed under the auspices of all-Ireland teams, which includes the Republic of Ireland. To understand the political and religious differences between the two countries might take longer than the 777 days left until the opening ceremonies in Brazil. But as a citizen of both countries (as is anyone born on the island of Ireland according to Irish law) he was eligible to play for either, and his choice yesterday to play for Ireland is being received well according to reaction on Twitter. “It was a decision I had put off because I didn’t want to upset or offend anyone in any way,” he said. “I have always been very proud to wear an Irish T-shirt or an Irish uniform.” The timing of McIlroy’s announcement — just two days after Northern Ireland’s Royal Portrush was confirmed as a future Open Championship venue —certainly helped tone down the potential vitriol from those dismayed by his choice.

 

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Jun 18, 2014 | 12:08 PM

Sea Change

One of the best golf resorts in the country just got even better. Located just north of Jacksonville on St. Simons Island, Ga., Sea Island Resort has spruced things up recently by upgrading its Golf Performance Center and opening a new Inn. With land usually set aside for golf holes, the range at Sea Island has always had the best views of any practice area in the U.S. It’s also had perhaps the best collection of instructors, led by Todd Anderson, whose stable of tour pros includes Brandt Snedeker, Billy Horschel, and Nick Watney. But with the new indoor putting lab, five covered hitting bays, and an expanded, state-of-the-art golf fitness area, the physical facilities now match the top-notch views and teaching. Guests of the improved learning center also now have another option when it comes to booking a room, too. With 85 guest rooms averaging 400 square feet, The Inn offers a more casual, mid-priced accommodation than The Cloister, the main hotel, or the The Lodge, but still reflects the signature Addison Mizner Mediterranean design seen throughout Sea Island and offers access to all the resort has to offer, including the three great courses.

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Jun 17, 2014 | 12:56 PM

Major Momentum

Martin Kaymer’s U.S. Open victory adds luster to the metrics of the European Ryder Cup Team where the top nine players under their qualifying points system now account for four major championships—two from Kaymer and two from Rory McIlroy—the same as the current top nine on the points list for the American squad (two from Bubba Watson, one from Jim Furyk, and one from Jason Dufner). Team Europe now has four players among the top ten in the World Golf Rankings—Henrik Stenson (2), McIlroy (6), Sergio Garcia (8), and Justin Rose (10) vs. only three for Team USA: Watson (3), Matt Kuchar (5), and Jordan Spieth (9). But the pendulum shifts when you look at the bench strength. The nine guys on Team Europe, have an average World Golf Ranking of 19th; on the American side, the average is 14th. We’re still three months away, but it’s shaping up to be as great a show as ever.

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Jun 16, 2014 | 06:36 AM

Vietnam: Land Of Links

Every year about this time, American golfers rediscover an interest in links golf, that by-the-sea, with-the-wind, hit-different-shots kind of golf most of us see only during the British Open broadcast. Scotland, Ireland, and England are famous for their links courses, where historians believe the game began. But another country is taking pains to build links courses also open to the public—Vietnam. And its aspirations took a big jump with the recent opening of The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip on the south-central coast, about two hours southeast of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). It was designed by Greg Norman, who compares the land to what he had at Doonbeg in Ireland. “I firmly believe that Vietnam will become another links golf destination as more courses like The Bluffs are developed along the country’s coastline,” says Norman, who also designed the links-like Danang Golf Club in 2010. Pat Reilly, former president of the PGA of America, recently played The Bluffs and said it’s “Greg Norman’s best work. The use of the dunes and ocean is spectacular. When the clubhouse and driving range are completed, The Bluffs will be an experience that is the envy of all Asia."

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