Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Irish hopefuls ready for Grand Slam of Golf

The Grand Slam of Golf brings together the winners of the four majors throughout the year, so that means Northern Ireland have twice as much chance of being able to celebrate a winner than anyone else.

Roll back the months, and Rory McIlroy stunned the golf world by completely dominating the US Open competition, while compatriot Darren Clarke secured an emotional victory when he lifted the British Open title. People who bet on golf will be keeping a close eye on things.

That means the two Northern Irishmen will be up against South African Charl Schwartzel and American Keegan Bradley at the Port Royal Golf Course in Bermuda.

It has been 20 years since a European golfer won the Grand Slam of Golf – it was Ian Woosnam who secured the prestigious title in 1991 – so the two compatriots and friends will be battling to complete a great year for European golf.

With Europe holding the top three positions in the world rankings, Luke Donald at one, Lee Westwood two and McIlroy at three, 2011 has been an incredible year for the continent and having either one of their combatants at the Grand Slam lift the title would be a fitting end. Those placing golf major bets would no doubt agree.

It would also continue Northern Ireland’s resurgence in golfing terms – Graeme McDowell won the US Open in 2010 – so the two are likely to be striving hard as the Grand Slam is very financially rewarding.

Even the fourth-placed finisher after the 36 holes takes home over £125,000, with the winner getting £380,000, so all-in-all it is a lot of money for two days of play. But it would be fitting for a European to lift the title given the story of 2011 so far.

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