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Blog - A slice of the action...from China

Heikki Kovalainen gears up for the Pro-Am at the Volvo China Open (Richard Castprak/Sportpix International)  (EuropeanTour)
Heikki Kovalainen gears up for the Pro-Am at the Volvo China Open (Richard Castprak/Sportpix International) (EuropeanTour)

No fisticuffs please!
One of the star attractions here this week at the Volvo China Open is undoubtedly the pairing of Ryder Cup Captains Colin Montgomerie and Corey Pavin together for the first two rounds. It is the first time the pair have been on the course together since the played a Friendly Match over The Twenty Ten Course at The Celtic Manor Resort last October to mark the Year To Go celebrations ahead of The Ryder Cup. While both Monty and Corey will be eager to score a point by finishing ahead of the other one at Suzhou Jinji Lake Golf Club this week, it is clear to see the underlying friendship between the two. The pair spent most of their pre-tournament press conference sharing jokes and they admit they are inseparable at the moment.  There was a nice moment at the start of the conference when Corey played on this. With Monty already in place behind his microphone, Corey walked straight up to him and introduced himself: “Corey Pavin, nice to meet you!”. There was certainly a glint in both players’ eyes when asked about their pairing for the first two rounds. Corey perhaps summed up their relationship when he said: “It’ll be fun and we’ll have a few things to talk about and discuss. We’ve always enjoyed each other’s company out on the golf course and I don’t think there will be any fisticuffs out there or anything like that!” Let’s hope not guys!

How’s your driving?
Driving is an important part of golf - as we all know, often from our own personal misery from the tee – and one player in the Pro-Am here knew a little more than your average amateur about that subject. Formula One Driver Heikki Kovalainen (pictured above) joined his fellow Finn and big mate Mikko Ilonen in their team for the Pro-Am competition. The pair becomes friends when they were in the Finnish Army together ten years ago and have kept in touch. Heikki is in town for the Chinese Grand Prix which takes place in Shanghai this weekend. As one of the world’s leading drivers, Heikki is no slouch on the course either. A 16 handicapper, he managed two eagles in his round before the Pro-Am had to be abandoned due to torrential rain in Suzhou. Heikki obviously had his wet tyres on for the occasion.

Straight out of Augusta
One of the geographical challenges of this week’s event is the journey for the players who have flown straight over from the Masters Tournament. Oliver Wilson and Henrik Stenson emerged on Monday and Tuesday respectively both looking slightly jetlagged while YE Yang, who finished a credible eighth at Augusta National, spoke of a 30 hour journey to get here. Let’s hope they can make it all worthwhile with a good display on the course this week.

Embracing family life
What do defending champion Scott Strange and Swedish Ryder Cup player Henrik Stenson have in common? Well, both players are celebrating recent new arrivals to their families. Scott welcomed his first child Meghan into the world in January while Henrik’s second child, Karl, was born in March. While Henrik’s son was his second child – although he admits to forgetting what the sleepless nights were like first time round - Scott is new to fatherhood and as such has been adjusting to his new status off the course. Having only played twice on The European Tour this year due to spending time with his family, Scott believes he has become a more settled person as a result of becoming a Dad. He said: “It gives a new lease on life – it’s refreshing. The household is very calm and happy place to be. It’s tough to come away and play but I do want to be here this week.  I’m still going to play golf but when I leave the course it will stay at the course.”

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