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Thursday, January 26, 2012

An Abu Dubious Start

I stayed up late tonight (Wednesday) to watch some of the Abu Dhabi HSBC.

The tournament is getting off to a slow start. I really expected some fireworks, given all the firepower in the field and the simple fact that this is desert golf with near perfect weather.

Instead, with a number of the big names already halfway through their rounds -- Kaymer and Westwood haven't teed off yet -- Gareth Maybin (who?), Michael Hoey (2-time winner last year), Anders Hansen, and Rory McIlroy lead at -3, with a group tied at -2. K.J. Choi and Luke Donald are in that group. Tiger and Jason Day are in another group at -1.

I understand that the course groundskeepers tried to toughen up the course this year because the scoring has been so low in the past. Thus far it looks like they've succeeded.

Given that no one is blistering the course, Tiger's -1 is obviously good. He looks a bit frustrated to me -- not quite happy with his execution -- although the same could be said of Rory. (I don't know if Luke ever looks rusty, even though he hasn't played for 5 weeks. That swing of his always looks the same, even when it isn't working well... and that's not a problem for him so far.) Overall, Tiger looks to be hitting the ball pretty well.

All of these players look a bit rusty to me. Of course, for most of the big names, this is their first competitive round in a few weeks, so I probably shouldn't be surprised. Still, last year's play (and, surprisingly, the first three weeks this year) have me expecting better golf from the top players.

How ironic. Tiger and Phil were basically "off" during 2011, and the other players convinced me I should expect more than I did before. Despite what I would call a lackluster round, I guess 2012 is off to a good start after all.


  1. Belated Happy New Year, Mike. Just to clue you in - Gareth Maybin is another Northern Irish golfer who's home club is not too far across the lough from a certain No.3 in the world's home club. Perhaps the N.I. major champion mantle will pass on to him this year?

    Here's some trick shot footage to whet your appetite:

  2. Thanks, JB. That's some pretty good trick shooting there!

    They didn't really show much of Maybin on the telecast when I was watching. They only flipped over to show him putting. He certainly putted well. But I checked his stats at the European Tour site and that's a real strength of his game, so I shouldn't be surprised at that.

    Maybin started off in the early groups when it was pretty cold. He shot par on 10-18 (his first 9) and then went crazy after it warmed up. It'll be interesting to see how he does today, when he goes off in the afternoon wave.

  3. What with the bit of masking tape on Rory's orange bracelet? And Tiger has a knotted bit of white twine around his wrist. Whats up with that?

  4. Tiger's is a Buddhist bracelet he's been wearing since he went through counseling -- it's something symbolic, but I forget exactly what he said it meant.

    Rory is sponsored by Trion:Z, which makes those ion bracelets that are supposed to make you play better. I don't know if the masking tape is significant, though. Maybe the bracelet's been irritating his skin?

  5. I'm not sure about the masking tape and don't quote me on this but generally when sportspersons on this side of the Atlantic cover up logos they are usually re-negotiating or choosing to not give away free endorsements for the particular product. You see it most often with the English Premier League's underpaid (joking) soccer players - they black out the logos on their boots.

  6. Thanks for the info, JB. I enjoy watching the EPL when ESPN shows it -- which is much more frequently now -- but I'm still learning the game. (I'm extremely pleased that I can usually identify when a player is off-sides now.) But I hadn't heard about that practice of "blacking out." You're probably right though. With Rory's growing popularity (and his photo prominently featured on Trion:Z's site) that would certainly make sense.