Jul 182012

With The Open beginning tomorrow, the players have all had the chance to see the new-look Lytham course.  Stretched in length and with more bunkers added, it was always going to be a tough test but with the damp summer we’ve had so far, the thick rough is grabbing all the headlines.

After Tiger’s first practice round, he described it as the toughest he has ever faced, saying “It’s just that you can’t get out of it.  That bottom six inches, in some places is almost unplayable.”   Defending champion, Darren Clarke, said to expect lost balls despite spotters and spectators adding “There’s a really huge premium on accuracy this week.  There’s no chance coming out of this rough at all.”

Other players are looking forward to the challenge: Westwood, who is yet to win a major, believes the course suits him, saying that major championships are “the ultimate test, and every aspect of your game has to be strong.”

With the previous 2 majors of the year going to surprise winners, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson, predicting the winner at The Open is practically impossible.  There are more contenders than ever in this championship but you can be sure that the eventual winner will be playing their ball from the shortest grass, most of the time.

It wouldn’t be right to leave without a quick mention of the man who won two of Lytham’s 11 Open Championships, Seve Ballesteros.  A 19-year-old Seve came second at Lytham in 1976 and three years later, lifted the Claret Jug and was dubbed the “car park champion”. In 1988, he returned to lift the Claret Jug for a third time, his second at Lytham.  Seve will be missed at the Championship but you can be sure that his memories will not be far from the hearts and minds of the golfers and spectators alike.

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Sep 202011
Paul McGinley Celebrates Victory with the Seve Trophy

Paul McGinley Celebrates Victory with the Seve Trophy

Great Britain and Ireland cruised into a 11.5–6.5 lead over Continental Europe, having dominated the opening matches of the Seve Trophy in Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche, France. On the final day, with GB&I only needing to pick up 2.5 points in the singles to retain the trophy and with Lee Westwood racing into an early 3-hole lead in the opening match, it seemed the writing was on the wall for Continental Europe.

However, as the day developed, it turned out not to be the procession many had predicted. Thomas Bjorn squared the match with Westwood after 11 holes, going on to win 2&1, then Continental Europe won the following 4 matches to level the scores at 11.5 apiece.

In an afternoon reminiscent of the amazing turnaround in Brookline by the US Ryder Cup Team of 1999, an unthinkable European victory seemed a distinct possibility.  Finally, a tightly contested halve from Englishman, David Horsey and Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts, halted Continental Europe’s run of victories. Scott Jamieson then provided a critical point to GB&I by beating Pablo Larrazábal, before a crucial birdie on the 18th from Ian Poulter saw him defeat the young Italian, Matteo Manassero. All this meant that Mark Foster’s narrow victory over Raphaël Jacquelin was enough to retain the Seve Trophy for GB&I for the 6th consecutive occasion.

In a day where 7 of the 10 matches were either halved, or won by only one hole, the Seve Trophy once again provided compulsive viewing and a fitting tribute to the late Seve Ballesteros.

European Golf has a lot to thank Seve for: As a player, he inspired young players to take up the game and captured the hearts of millions with his dramatic, high-risk approach to attaining victory. Seve was the talisman for consecutive European Ryder Cup teams, before going on to captain Team Europe to one of it’s most famous victories in 1997 at Valderrama, Spain.

He established the Seve Trophy to allow European golf to be showcased on a global scale and did so much to expand the brand of European Tour Golf globally. Optimal Analysis were fortunate to have a strong relationship with Seve through the Seve Ballesteros Golf Academy and we feel strongly that the European Tour should formally honour Seve by changing their logo to incorporate an image of this much-missed legend of the game.

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May 172011

Optimal were delighted to see the great article in Golf Week by Alistair Tate which discusses the amazing ability of the late Severiano Ballesteros to execute golf shots which most people, even the best players in the world, would not even contemplate. Describing the Spanish legend as an “artist” of the game, the piece explores five of Seve’s greatest and most jaw-dropping shots, each with great quotes from those that were fortunate enough to witness these career-defining moments. In one example, Billy Foster, caddy to current world number one, Lee Westwood, describes how at the 1993 European Masters, following a pushed tee shot into the trees, Seve was able to pull off a 150-yard shot over a wall, through a gap the size of a dinner plate between pine tress, and over a swimming pool. Foster himself states that it is “… the best shot I’ve seen in my life.”

Seve’s amazing talent, combined with his competitive nature and charming persona, saw him occupy a unique place in the hearts of golf fans across the globe. Whilst his passing comes far too soon, he leaves us all with so many great memories and will forever be remembered as a true legend of the game. Below is a video of another famous shot of Seve’s, not quite good enough to make the top 5, demonstrating his amazing improvisation skills and ability to recover from the toughest of scenarios. To read the original Golf Week article by Alistair Tate, please click here.

Optimal Analysis use our eAcademy software to power the Seve Ballesteros Golf Academy, an online teaching platform that allows you to upload your swing for professional analysis, access a wide range of tuition resources and interact with fellow golfers across the globe. To visit the Seve Ballesteros Golf Academy, please click here.

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May 132011

The golfing world was thrown into a state of mourning this week with the passing of one of golf’s most gifted and charismatic players, Seve Ballesteros, following a long battle with brain cancer.

Ballesteros, who claimed 87 titles over his career, won the Open in 1979, 1984 and 1988 and became the first European to win the Augusta Masters in 1980, aged just 23, before repeating the achievement in 1983.

The Ballesteros name has become synonymous with the wave of European success in the Ryder Cup over the last few decades. Seve enjoyed a hugely impressive Ryder Cup career as both player and captain – playing in eight Ryder Cups and winning 22½ points from 37 matches before captaining Europe to victory over the United States at Valderrama in 1997.

For many though it was his flamboyant style and win at all costs nature that made Seve so special. He will be remembered fondly by several generations and did as much as anyone to bring golf to new audiences across the globe, particularly by raising the profile of the European Tour in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.

Seve, who was diagnosed with brain cancer in late 2008, recently formed the Seve Ballesteros Foundation to raise funds for important research into the treatment and management of this awful disease, as well as supporting young golfers from under-privileged backgrounds.

Following the tragic announcement of Seve’s death last Saturday, there has been an unprecedented level of tributes to the great man, not only from within the game of golf, but from all walks of life. 18 time major winner, Jack Nicklaus, led the way saying:

“Golf has lost a great champion and a great friend…I have always had wonderful respect for Seve’s ability, how he played the game, and the flair he brought to the sport. It was his creativity, his imagination and his desire to compete that made him so popular not only in Europe but throughout American galleries too. Seve’s enthusiasm was just unmatched by anybody I think that ever played the game.”

Victorious Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie heaped more praise on Seve, adding:

“Very few people are called legends in this world and Seve was one of them. Never before in our lifetime have we seen such a talent swing a golf club…It was an honour to play under him as our captain in the Ryder Cup and an honour to play with him.”

Fellow Spaniard and world number one tennis player, Rafael Nadal, also paid tribute to one of his childhood idols:

“What he did in sport is unbelievable. He is irreplaceable… as a person and an athlete and was an example for all of us.

“He was an example for the whole of society, for all the athletes, all the kids…He was one of the best golfers of all time and one of the best athletes this country has produced. He was a pioneer.”

Optimal Analysis have been honoured to be involved with Seve Ballesteros through the Seve Ballesteros Golf Academy. We would like to pass on our sincerest condolences to his family and take this opportunity to thank the man himself for the priceless memories and inspiration he provided. Below is a fitting video tribute to Seve and we hope you take time to enjoy these great memories.



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Apr 112011

South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel yesterday kept his nerve on a dramatic final day to emerge as the 2011 Masters champion and claim his first major title. The 26-year-old fired a closing round 66, including birdies on the last four holes, to reach 14 under par and hold off the challenge of Australian duo Jason Day and Adam Scott by two shots at Augusta.

In one of the closest finishes to a major championship in recent memory the final day proved an absorbing affair. At different points anyone of 8 players looked in contention to claim the famous green jacket, however it was the unflappable youngster from Johannesburg who kept his cool and sealed his victory in spectacular style with a long birdie putt on 18.

Another week of high drama in Georgia provided much excitement and many new memories, however it was also a time for reflection as the golfing world celebrated and paid tribute to golfing icon, Seve Ballesteros. Turning 54 on Masters Saturday, the two times champion was unable to attend this year’s tournament as he continues his recovery from surgery for a brain tumour.

A crowd favourite, renowned for his risk taking and attacking nature, Seve’s popularity remains high with both players and fans alike. Phil Mickelson already selected a Spanish themed menu for the traditional Champion’s dinner in his honour and other professionals were quick to pass on good wishes to the flamboyant European great. Before his third round, Rory McIlroy tweeted: “Happy birthday Seve. You are in everyone’s thoughts at Augusta this week.” and fellow Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal told the press: “I called to say ‘Happy Birthday,’ and to pass along all of the good wishes from the rest of the champions,” An amazing collection of some of Seve’s finest moments can be seen in the video below.

Opitmal Analysis use our eAcademy software to power the Seve Ballesteros Golf Academy, an online teaching platform that allows you to upload your swing for professional analysis, access a wide range of tuition resources and interact with fellow golfers across the globe. The Optimal eAcademy creates teaching instructors their own online presence, fully customised and branded to your specifications, allowing remote communication with students pre and post lesson via their own secure online locker.

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