Our man at Pinx Golf Club on Jeju Island brings you all of the action from behind the scenes at the Ballantine’s Championship.
No-one mention the V word!
There’s one major topic of conversation among the players, caddies and officials here this week and for once it’s not something on the golf course. The Icelandic volcano (sorry folks, you can’t even read a golf site without it being mentioned, right?) is causing a few concerns for everyone here. Sadly a few of the players who were due to fly out from Europe have had to withdraw, including Miguel Angel Jiménez. Even tournament director David Williams was left stranded back in the UK as the ash cloud loomed large over northern Europe. Thankfully most of the field and officials only had to negotiate the short hop from China and last week’s Volvo China Open, while Ernie Els and Anthony Kim traversed the globe the ‘other way round’ to reach us. With signs the eruption is now abating, fears are settling but it’s been interesting to hear some of the travel stories filtering back. Some Tour staff who tried to get home from China were told their flights were cancelled and it could be May before they could get a seat on another plane. Others managed to board to Frankfurt on Tuesday and take a train across Europe. In an increasingly global golf world, the volcano is probably about as popular as a double bogey!
Quite a collection of talent
It’s becoming something of a tradition at the Ballantine’s Championship to sit some of the leading players down in a room and hear their thoughts on golf and life on Tour. This year saw your correspondent put some questions to Ernie Els, Anthony Kim, Henrik Stenson and Graeme McDowell. Topics of conversation ranged from the challenges of being a player in the global era, golf in the Olympics and some of the new talent emerging from their individual countries. They also talked about their greatest shots but weren’t so forthcoming about their worst. Graeme McDowell said: “We have also spent a lot of money on sports psychologists to help us forget them...Ballantine's is also pretty good for helping you forget these things!”
How to charm the media
It’s not that often that we see Anthony Kim here on The European Tour but the American is certainly doing his best to make friends out here in Korea this week. Anthony, of course, is a Californian but his parents are Korean and left for America in their early 20s. He therefore has something of a bond with the Korean people. In his pre-tournament press conference the 24 year old asked to end by saying something in their native tongue. He received a rapturous round of applause after declaring: “There's something that I really want to say. As a child, my mother and father taught me a lot of Korean. Living in the States has made it difficult for me to keep up my Korean. So I plan to hire a teacher and learn Korean again, and so when I have another interview in the future, I will try to do it in Korean.” Our translator tells me his Korean was word perfect so keep up the good work Anthony!