Is W#1 Martin Kaymer a Teutonic Robot?

I only ask this question because Kaymer has, in fact, been described as Teutonic.  And his on-course demeanor is... well... the word robotic does come to mind.  Some refer to him as The Germanator, which he scoffs at, but I'm guessing it doesn't really bother him.

As he gets ready to face Luke Donald later today for the Accenture Match Play tournament title Martin Kaymer is also being called World No. 1,  though he's quick to clarify that he won't actually feel like the top golfer until the rankings are officially posted on Monday. 

You see? Herr Kaymer's got feelings, so clearly he's not a robot, and as for German stereotypes, well has anyone ever seen W#1 in lederhosen? I think not.  His on-course look is elegant and classic: Hugo Boss,  though he added his own sartorially brilliant touch yesterday when he wore a distinctive scarf known as a Buff, designed by Black Fly Outfitters for... fly fishermen.

The fact is, golf is still considered something of an exclusionary, niche sport in Germany, and until his PGA Championship win Martin Kaymer was arguably more well known outside of his own country then within it.  Though Bernard Langer placed Germany firmly on the golfing map in the 1980s, his ego was not made for the limelight,  and his impact on German sports fans was somewhat muted by the enormous celebrity of tennis player Boris Becker, whose larger-than-life persona and youthful triumphs overshadowed Langer's amazing accomplishments. As such, golf has a huge potential for growth in Germany... which by the way is among six bidding nations for the 2018 Ryder cup... and Kaymer's rapid rise seems perfectly timed to allow Germany to take advantage of that potential.

Martin Kaymer may or may not win this afternoon, but he is W#1, and as more golf fans get to know him, I'm guessing the Teutonic Robot rumors will be put to rest quite quickly.

Golf Girl's Note: I HIGHLY recommend  reading Jason Sobel's  Martin Kaymer is One Cool Customer.  He perfectly captures the non-robotic charm of the soon-to-be-#1.

Photograph: (upper) Fadil Berisha/Rolex  
Photograph: (lower) Scott Halleran/Getty Images North America


Jim Thorpe on Doing Time & Getting Back to Golf

As winter begins to recede and brighter days become more frequent, it's heartening to see Jim Thorpe, smiling, on the cover of the latest issue of GolfWeek magazine.

After almost a year in prison, he spoke with Golf Week's Jeff Rude about what life was like "on the inside"... and how it feels to be out. It's a video interview, Thorpe's first since being released from a Federal Prison Camp in Montgomery, Alabama into a Florida halfway house last month... and it's surprisingly candid.  ~ The affable golfer was pragmatic about his mistakes and reflective about what the future would bring. At 62, he's had a brilliant career. In addition to three PGA Tour wins he's chalked up thirteen victories on the Champions Tour... and he hopes add to that number once his suspension is finished.

The last tournament Jim Thorpe won was the 2007 Charles Schwab Cup. Shortly after that win, I made this video at a highly entertaining event he hosted at Foxwoods Casino. Watching it again I remembered just how graciousness and engaging Jim Thorpe was. He'll be free to play again in April and it looks like the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am will be where he starts... and I'm quite sure he'll receive a warm welcome back.

Golf Girl's Note: It's weird how much things have changed in the three-and-a-half years since this video was made:  In November 2007 Tiger Woods had reached an other-worldly plateau of perfection; as an athlete, a role-model, a multicultural symbol and a global brand. Lorena Ochoa had won 7 times that season, including her first major championship, the Women's British Open, on the Old Course at St. Andrews.  Wages and salaries were still going up and many of us were still happily living beyond our means.  ~ And we were I was proudly documenting it all in these long, corny, over-edited, low-definition videos with crappy sound quality.  Life was sweet back in the day.


WGC - A Compelling Match and Ryo's Whimsical Ways

I didn't get to see it...  and the outcome wasn't what I was hoping for...  but by all accounts, the Charl Schwartzel/Ryo Ishikawa match was a compelling one.  And though he did not prevail, the Bashful Prince gave us more than a glimpse of the prowess he's known for and provided spectators with ample excitement before Schwartzel claimed the win.  Here's the recap from

The Japanese teen sensation played bogey-free golf for the first 13 holes, posting four birdies during that time. But he could not shake the pesky South African. Ishikawa was just 1 up through 13 before suffering his first bogey of the day at the 14th to square the match. That's when Schwartzel could feel the momentum turning. He took his first lead of the match with an up-and-down for birdie at the short par-4 15th. 

Ishikawa responded with his own birdie at the par-3 16th with a great tee shot that landed inside five feet. But he then bogeyed the 17th when he found the rough with his approach shot. With a chance to win in regulation, though, Schwartzel stumbled at the 18th when he three-putted. On the 20th hole, the par-5 second, Ishikawa hit a wayward tee shot, missed the green with his approach shot and failed to save par with an eight-foot putt. This is Schwartzel's third consecutive first-round victory in as many starts.

What that summation didn't mention were Ryo's trousers.

Tablecloth plaid in pale turquoise, they generated tons of buzz on Twitter, and the showy style statement was proof positive that the Japanese champion is not about to change his sartorially whimsical ways.  And though he'll be missed by many this weekend as Match Play continues without him, we can definitely look forward the possibility of some Ishikawa brilliance at the Masters in a few weeks.
石川遼くんは   心が楽しくなる存在です。
 Thanks, yet again, to Noriko Yamada  for continuous Ryo updates!  

Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images North America


A Changing World & the Golf Courses of Libya


True: I write about golf.  But I've got to admit I'm finding it increasingly difficult to ignore the momentous events taking place in North Africa and the Middle East. Popular uprisings that started in Tunisia, and spread quickly to Egypt, are now inspiring the populations of neighboring lands to reject leaders who had once seemed invulnerable.  An historic geopolitical change... one that'll shape the future for everyone on earth... is underway.

And it sometimes makes writing about Tiger and tournaments and the latest golf fashion trends feel... I don't know... ridiculously inconsequential somewhat trivial?

Yes, but I love writing about golf... it's what I do in this space... and presumably, it's what readers come by for.  So while I'm finding myself intently watching what's happening in the world, I've always got golf on my radar... and I've discovered that the game is present just about everywhere, in some form or fashion.

Right now all eyes are on Libya, where protests are ongoing, violence is escalating and Muammar Gaddafi is clinging to the power he's held for over four decades.

The stakes here are particularly high, as this vast North African nation is one of the world's top oil producers and its beleaguered is ruler one the planet's most unpredictable. 

Despite its rich historical past and extraordinary archaeological sites, tourism is not highly developed in Libya largely due to the capriciousness of its leader.  International hotels are scarce... to non-existent. In fact Marriot, the first global brand to have property in the country,  opened the JW Marriott Hotel Tripoli in the Libyan capitol a mere two weeks ago.  As a result, the country's four golf courses can't exactly count on tourists to fill in those open tee times.

The golfers in Libya are mainly expats. You'll also find Libyans who learned to play while caddying for the oil company executives who introduced golf to the country in the 60s.  ~ In Tripoli they play at the Tripoli Golf Club or the Tajura Golf Club, both 18 holes courses.  There's also a course in the eastern city of Benghazi and one in the oil refinery town of Brega. The courses are all sand and the ex-patriot website qualifies them collectively with ... "as a high level golfer you won't find them very challenging,  but not bad for a good day of distraction."

I was hard pressed to find pictures of any of them. The photo at the top of the page is from The Wrigs in Libya, a blog that chronicles the adventures of a Canadian family living the expat life in Benghazi.  It's part of a post written in August of 2008 and the caption reads:

"This is the 18 hole golf course across from the Al Fadeel hotel.   It's a Par 68 course. We have yet to play but are planning on it. They have recently added another ATCO trailer and repainted the clubhouse as well as done some upgrades to the tee boxes."

From the looks of it the Wrigs never did get to play that desert course...  and their most recent post... from a couple of days ago...  tells of their reluctant departure from Bengazhi.  They're returning to Canada for the time being, in the face of Libya's increasing violence.

The prospect of a new government in Libya... one open to international tourism... has to be extremely tantalizing to course developers. With some of the best preserved archaeological sites in the world, an expansive Mediterranean coastline and an ideal climate, the country would be a perfect place for golf resorts...lots of them... and ambitious architects are no doubt already thinking that if the right kind of government came in, oil-producing Libya could become the next Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

Unfortunately however, the contumelious Colonel Gaddafi seems prepared to resort to extreme violence in his attempts to say in power, and the road to Libya's future as an international golf tourism destination could be long and perilous.  We'll be watching what happens in the coming days and weeks, and hoping for the best.


Putting Better Than Ever. Vijay Singh's Inspiring Week


"I'm feeling good, and I think I've still got it." ~ Vijay Singh

Is there anyone who wouldn't like to see Vijay Singh contending on Sunday's regularly again?   His presence... in any round, of any tournament... adds a dimension that's quite unique.  If you've seen him play live, you probably know what I mean.  A tangible intensity surrounds him... spectators feel it as he approaches the green. It's impressive. 

After a couple of years in which injuries... and reinjuries... have plagued him.  His second place (to Aaron Badley) finish at the Northern Trust Open yesterday seems auspicious.  Singh totaled just 105 putts for the week, and he closed with a two-under-par 69.  He described it as, "the best putting week I've had probably all my career."  

That would seem to bode well for the upcoming season.  
Photo: Golf Girl Media


Automotive Marketing and the Female Golfer

I've recently encountered some interesting facts (trends? tendancies?) concerning the way car companies market... or don't... to women, and in particular to women golfers.  I'll be writing about the topic here a bit later. 

In the meantime however,  I felt compelled to post this photo now due to  it's extreme awesomeness.

Women on Motorcycle with Side Car - © Simon Marcus/Corbis


Golf Distraction - When a Birdie Ruins Your Birdie

So I've grinding away on a non-golf writing assignment today... deadline looming large...  and just got an email from a friend I sometimes play golf with. 

In desperate need of a momentary distraction, I opened it and found the awesome video clip below.  It's part of the trailer from the 3D animated film Alpha and Omega about two endearing young wolves who fall in love. 

The clip features Marcel a golf-obsessed French Canadian Goose and an amazing approach shot that ... does not end well. 

The clip however, was the perfect antidote to my ascending stress level. 

OK, now let me get back to that exciting text book supplement I'm writing. Yay.


Ryo Ishikawa: Back on US Soil... With a New Look?


A subdued pastel shirt, and trousers resembling... like... Dockers?

It's not what we're accustomed to seeing on Ryo Ishikawa... and it begs the question: has "Hanikami Ōji" abandoned the vividly chromatic color pallet he's famous for? 

It hardly seems possible but that's the look he was sporting on Monday at Riviera Country Club when he made his first US appearance of the 2011 season at a practice round with fellow Japanese champion Yuta Ikeda.

Ryo will be playing the Northern Trust Open for the the third time this year and has made some strong style statements here in the past, so it'll be interesting to if this traditional look is actually a new direction for the popular player, or just a one-time walk on the un-wild side.   In either case, the kid's got an army of fans in the US who are looking forward to seeing him play this week

Special thanks to Ryo fan extraordinaire Noriko for sending me the link.


The Love Love Golf Summit - What's Not to Love?


The Love Love Golf Summit takes place in Japan... land of the rising sun really cute golf clothes... and as summits go, it's quite unlike anything we have here in the US.

What we're talking about here is a show/fair/convention that celebrates women's golf fashion at its stylish, multichromatic best.  It's part of the Japan Golf Fair, Asia's largest golf industry event.  As you may know from reading this blog I have a particular passion for Japanese golf fashion.  IMHO, When it comes to color, cut, cuteness and sheer creativity the Japanese win by a mile. Or many miles if you consider the sheer volume of brand and the number of styles they offer each season.

As luck would have it, I've got a couple of readers who'll be attending The Love Love Golf Summit this weekend and they've promised to fill me in on what's new and awesome.  I in turn, will expound on their discoveries here and I've no doubt we'll all be impressed.

The 45th Japan Golf Fair 2011- Feb. 18-20 
The Love Love Golf Summit - 2011 Spring - Feb. 19-20


Promising Woods-Garcia Pairing Ends in Mutual Meltdown

 Going into the final round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, anything seemed possible.

Golf fans pondered potential outcomes and social networks buzzed with hopeful speculation... on one pairing in particular.  

Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia have a shared history. Theirs is a rivalry that began at the PGA Championship in 1999 and, though it never quite played the way golf fans would have wished,  certainly made the sport more compelling during the first decade of this century. 

As we all know, the past couple of years haven't been kind to either of these men: injuries and personal issues have plagued both... to the extent that when their final round pairing was announced yesterday, many saw the possibility of a come-back battle between the beleaguered champions.  In my mind I naively took the narrative even further, imagining a brilliant duel in the desert sun, possibly ending in a playoff.  And no matter which of the two won,  a resurgence of the Woods-Garcia rivalry would ensue, and the 2011 season would be a series of thrilling, fourth round face-offs.

Ultimately, my little fantasy was just that: a fairytale that went awry when both players flamed out in the final round. contributor Paul Manhoney who followed the pairing at Emirates Golf Club, described a joyless round where certain elements of the old rivalry may have actually played a part in the day's disappointing results from Tiger and Sergio.

However, there definitely was a silver lining,  a rather big silver lining, and it came in the form of 6ft. 3in. Alvaro Quiros.  The quixotic Señor Quiros kept excitement at peak levels as he battled with Denmark's Anders Hansen, losing and regaining the lead more than once, while he wove together a nerve-racking round featuring an eagle, an ace and a triple bogey.  Fans on Twitter were clearly energized by the volatile contest.  A number of spectators on the scene were tweeting the action as it happened, which was great for those of us who couldn't watch it live.

In the end it was a great tournament and judging from the Twitter buzz, it generated a lot of interest in the UAE as a golf destination.  What ever one thinks of Tiger or Sergio I'm quite sure most golf fans would like to see them winning again.  In the meantime, the Dubai Desert Classic has a charismatic champion in Alvaro Quiros.


The Top 10 Sexiest Men in Golf... As Per Me

Sexiness is subjective... no doubt about it... and that's what inspired me to create this post.

You see, earlier this week I happened upon a Top 10 Sexiest list by funny and talented Jen McAutry, posting at ChicagoNow's Staying on Course blog. and while her selection included some of the most... universally lusted after admired players,  I quickly realized that they weren't... for the most part... the guys I'd choose.

Jen listed her criteria as: Looks, Success, Coolness, Looks, Charm, Body... and Looks.  And the thing is, those are my criteria too... well... sort of.  Actually, I guess it depends on how you define those qualities.  In any case Jen presents some very compelling arguments for her picks.  Adam Scott for example, is described as "not just the sexiest man in golf pants but the SEXIEST MAN IN OR OUT OF ANY PANTS'... and I know a great many ladies (and at least a few gentlemen) who wouldn't argue with that. 

Now my list might be a bit less conventional... but hey: "les goûts et les couleurs, ça ne se discute pas"... in other words, "different strokes for different folks".  On that happy note, here's my selection:

(click -> to advance the slides)

1.Tiger Woods - Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images Europe
2. Sergio Garcia - Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images Europe
3.Angel Cabrera - Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America
4.Rickie Fowler - Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
5.Vijay Singh - Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images North America
6. John Daly - Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images Europe
7.Ryo Ishikawa - Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images North America
8.Tim Clark - Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images North America
9. Alvaro Quiros - Photo by Ross Kinnaird_Getty Images Europe
10. Martin Kaymer - Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship -Photo by Scott Halleran_Getty Images Europe


Water Rides, Turtle Rehab & Golf - Rory McIlroy in Dubai

Back in February of 2009, Rory McIlroy had his first European Tour win at the tender age of 19.  He was instantly ordained The New Sensation, impressing everyone with his gutsy game and candid, casual style.  The win came at the Dubai Desert Classic and earned him a multitude of fans, in middle east and around the world.

Two years later the affable player from Northern Ireland has firmly established himself as one of the game's most promising young guns, having now won on on the PGA Tour,  and made his way into the top ten in the world rankings.  A few months ago he represented Europe in the Ryder Cup.  And he's had quite a few Jagerbombs a bit of well-documented fun along the way... which I think is one of the things that make him so appealing.  The youthful Ulsterman seems to have a remarkable ability to enjoy his downtime.

Right now, he's back in Dubai... scene of his breakthrough win... getting ready to take to the fairways of Emirates Golf Club later this week, taking on the world's best golfers in the 22nd Dubai Desert Classic.   But...true to form... young Rory is finding time to fit some non-golf awesomeness into his schedule:  A couple of days ago he fed sharks at the Dubai Aquarium and helped out with their Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project.  Later on... in keeping with the aquatic theme... he hit the funnels and slides at Wild Wadi Water Park.

No question about it, the kid knows how to get the most out of life... on and off the golf course.  Go Rory!

Photos by David Cannon/Getty Images Europe


Angry Birds: At The Super Bowl & On Your Golf Clubs

A perfect social media storm... and the winning birdie.  That's what  Etsy commerçant, Kimberly Glendora is dealing with right now, metaphorically speaking.

With "a big imagination and lots of yarn" Kimberly creates wonderfully, whimsical knitted items: dolls, decor, hats and scarves... and the most awesome golf club covers.  She does vintage pom pom and tassel covers made to order in the colors of your choice and they're great.

However, it's the birds that are causing the buzz... the multi-chromatic flock of ill-tempered avians, who star in the addictive, puzzle game "Angry Birds"

Not long ago "Madame Wonder Thread"... as Kimberly is sometimes known... has created a set of 6 headcovers based on the endearing Angry Birds.
Oh... and for your driver she did  a green pig.  Yes of course, a green pig.  You see, in the game, evil green pigs try to steal the bird's eggs and the whole point is to kill as many of the pernicious porkers as possible, thereby retrieving the eggs.  Got that?  OK.

The thing is, the game... and its captivating characters... have become enormously popular.  And their popularity is bound to grow with the upcoming release of the Angry Birds' movie, "Rio"

The 20th Century Fox film was promoted a couple of hours ago in a Super Bowl ad that featured hidden level clues... an embedded code for an unlockable level in the game! And judging from the thousands of #angrybirds tweets that spilled forth from all over the world, at that moment... quite a few tweeps suddenly forgot all about Super Bowl XLV.


Rugged Ryo Returns - 米国に石川遼を返します

Did you ever think you'd see Ryo Ishikawa in a lumberjack shirt?

Neither did I, but that's just what he was wearing yesterday, layered under a black puffer vest.  The scene was  Narita Airport  and Ryo was enroute to the USA... where he'll be playing in a number of events leading up to The Masters.

The PGA Tour season actually started a few weeks ago, but as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't begin to feel like spring until the whimsical Mr. Ishikaw arrives on our shores with his awesome talent in tow... and an army of Japanese paparazzi following along.

Though the precocious Japanese mega-star hasn't yet turned twenty, it seems like I've be writing about him for years.   When it comes to golf apparel, Ryo style is all about exuberant color.  His outfits and his equipment is Yonex, and he's partial to pink ... and blue, green, red, yellow, orange, etc... and he wears them all well.  I look forward to the multi-chromatic display that'll begin when he hits the fairways of Rivera Country Club in a couple of weeks at the Northern Trust Open.

If you're a fan of the Bashful Prince, you're probably still a bit incredulous about his rugged, wintery logger-look and dark monochromatic layering.  Here's a video clip from yesterday's press conference for a closer look.  Ryo's been quoted as saying he's determined to show people "show people what a Japanese golfer can do in the Masters"  to that end he's been working with a personal trainer ... and it looks like he's bulked up a bit.

Many thanks once again to my awesome friend Noriko for keeping me posted on Ryo's whereabouts.


Pick Your 2011 Top 30 - LPGA Prognostication Derby


The season starts in a couple of weeks... February 17th to be exact, in Chonburi, Thailand at the Honda LPGA Thailand... so now's the time to prognosticate.

The challenge is overseen by Mostly Harmless and Hound Dog LPGA, two of the best blogs on the planet when it comes to the women's professional golf.

You simply pick a pre-season top 30, and rank them by your take on each player's odds of winning Player of the Year in 2011.

With the depth of talent on the LPGA Tour these days, I think we can be pretty sure POY will be a fight to the finish in 2011 like it was in 2010 when Yani Tseng, Ai Miyazato, Na Yeon Choi, Christie Kerr and Jiyai Shin all had a chance to win up till their final event.

All the details can be found right here at Mostly Harmless. And for a bit of inspiration, see below.


Egyptian Spring - Democracy, History, Freedom & Golf

Back in the waning years of the 20th century... long before I ever played golf...  I spent three months in Cairo, living in a suite at what was then called The Nile Hilton.

I had just gotten married and my new husband was in charge of "developing and emerging markets" at an international cosmetics company,  so I tend to remember Egypt as a kind of prolonged honeymoon.  The exoticism of the teaming city was amplified by the by the exciting strangeness I felt during the first weeks of weeks of marriage, as I adjusted to the quixotic idea that I was actually someone's wife.

The hotel was a powder blue, mid-century modern landmark just off Tahrir Square, right in the center of the city.  Our three room suite had a balcony with a stunning view of the Nile where we had croissants and pain aux raisins each morning and watched men in white robes prepare the sails on their ancient-looking feluccas.  My husband would then leave for work, venturing forth into the cacophonous gridlock that's as much a part of modern Cairo as the mighty river running through the city's center.

I spent most of my mornings by the swimming pool devouring Graham Greene novels.  There I'd meet eclectic travelers from all over the world, many of whom wouldn't have been at all out-of-place in the stories I was reading.

In the late afternoon, I'd often head next door to the extraordinary Cairo Museum.  That's when the crowds tended to lightened, leaving me to wander among the ancient sarcophagi and massive sculptures.  I spent hours perusing the breathtaking, solid gold treasures of Tutankhamen.  Not surprisingly, I quickly fell in love with Pharaonic history and Nubian art.

Almost every evening there would be social events or parties, often at the homes of the local people my husband had gotten to know as he worked to set up his operation, and this was the most interesting and inspiring thing about my stay in Egypt, because the Egyptian people are uniquely friendly and hospitable, they're often artistic, almost always funny and... remarkably patient.

Our Cairo honeymoon was 15 plus years ago (well before the age of instant global communication) in 1995.  Back then, Americans were just discovering email and most of the world knew nothing of the internet. It would be over a decade before anyone would write on a  Facebook wall, make a YouTube video or tweet on Twitter.

As the years have passed, we've shared snippets of our lives;  first it was via occasional cards and letters, then more frequently through email, and now it's almost daily, on Facebook and Twitter.  We've congratulated them on their promotions, marriages and new babies.  We've watched them wait patiently for much needed government reforms, unable to advocate for them, and unable to protest against abject corruption without fear of reprisal.  Then, a week ago, quite unexpectedly,  these patient people, people often characterized as passive, collectively took to the streets... and the social networks... to change their political system.

That's what's happening as we watch, and as chaotic and perilous as it seems right now, for virtually everyone we've spoken to these last days in Cairo... it's what has to happen.  what writer and political activist Alaa al-Aswany calls "the Egyptian Spring" a season that'll pave the way for transition, allow the people to choose their president and representatives in an open, honest elections and begin putting into place the democracy they've wanted for so long.  Once that happens we'll be able to help the new democracy by visiting their awesome museums and gorgeous golf courses.  I'm looking forward to that.