Our man on the ground at Royal Waterloo GC takes you behind the scenes of the Telenet Trophy…
One handed wonder
All golfers have their quirks, but perhaps Jason Palmer takes this week’s prize for the quirkiest for his unconventional approach to chipping. The Englishman’s short game was proving troublesome, so his coach suggested taking a one handed approach as a training aid to improve his feel. Suddenly his short game was transformed, and Palmer decided to take the new technique out onto the course with him. Despite the potential problems inherent in one handed chipping, Palmer seems to have mastered the art, and has stuck with it ever since. It makes for an unusual sight out on the course, but as the Leicestershire lad is currently tied for the lead, it’s certainly not doing him any harm.
Eriksson’s a Klas act
Further proof, as if it were needed, of what a funny game golf can be at times came on Friday, when Klas Eriksson lowered his first round score by a full 15 shots to shoot 121 places up the leaderboard. By his own admission, Eriksson “lost his head” after struggling to cope with the windy conditions on the first day, leading to a round of 79. At that point, Eriksson would have been contemplating an early flight home, as he lay some eight shots the wrong side of the projected cut line. But after a re-focusing session on the range with his coach on Friday morning, when he “struck the ball as well as ever”, the Swede promptly went out and set a new course record with a stupendous round of 64 to charge firmly into contention. The head of steam he built up continued into Saturday morning with a birdie-birdie start to move Eriksson to three under par, just three shots shy of the leader. It would be the most unlikely victory of all time should he take the title on Sunday night, but stranger things have happened…
A comic turn from Björn
On Thursday afternoon young Swedish starlet Björn Akesson was whisked off to one of Brussels’ many tourist attractions, the Belgian Centre of Comic Strip Art, to film a segment for the forthcoming Challenge Series. The museum houses one of the largest comic strip collections in the world, with the largest section dedicated to Hergé’s famous creation, Tintin. Given that the baby-faced Swede, who was fifth on the World Amateur Rankings when he joined the pro ranks, looks barely out of his nappies, he was perhaps an appropriate choice!
Ace the highlight for local lad
Pierre Relecom is attached to Royal Waterloo GC, and he used his home advantage to thrilling effect on the opening morning by acing the fourth hole. Unfortunately for Relecom it was the highlight of an otherwise disappointing round of 74, but he will be back tomorrow to try to climb above the cut mark.
Fritsch’s flight of fancy
With only a handful of category 11 members gaining entry to the BMW PGA Championship, some 2010 Challenge Tour and Qualifying School graduates have taken the opportunity to sharpen their competitive edge at Royal Waterloo. One such player is Florian Fritsch, who has made a better-than-average start to his maiden European Tour campaign, with an eighth place finish at the Open de Andalucia and an 11th place finish at the Trophée Hassan II. But perhaps more importantly, he has also gone a long way towards conquering his fear of flying, which had threatened to derail his career. With the help of his girlfriend and caddie, who travels with him everywhere, Fritsch is now a frequent flier, and the man from Munich, who counts former World Number One Martin Kaymer amongst his circle of friends, is hoping that his career now takes off.
Another Hansen in the ranks
There are already two Hansens on The European Tour in Anders and Søren, and another one on the Challenge Tour in Anders Schmidt, but we may soon have to take room for another if Joachim B Hansen enjoys as much success in the professional game as he did in the amateur ranks. Hansen is making his Challenge Tour debut at this week’s Telenet Trophy, after an impressive career which included victories on the ECCO Tour at the Finnish Amateur Championship. Hansen, who was given the award for the best individual player at the Men’s World Amateur Team Championship Finals in Argentina last October, also set a rather impressive course record last year when he signed for a 59 at his home course in Denmark, Hillerød Golf Club. The 20 year old still has some way to go before being mentioned in the same breath as Anders and Søren, who between them have five European Tour titles, but if his career path continues on its current trajectory, we may have unearthed another Danish golfing gem.
Colsaerts comes good in the Nic of time
This week’s event is being played at Royal Waterloo GC, where local boy Nicolas Colsaerts learned to play the game. From a young age Colsaerts – or ‘Nico’ to his friends – was being hailed as a potential star of the future, but at least initially he struggled to live up to the billing. After the penny dropped in 2009, however, Colsaerts took the Challenge Tour by storm, winning twice en route to finishing third in the Rankings behind runaway winner Edoardo Molinari to graduate to The European Tour, where he vowed to stay. And he has been as good as his word, following up a solid season in 2010 with a truly spectacular campaign this term, winning his maiden European Tour title at the Volvo China Open and coming within a whisker of reaching the final at last week’s Volvo World Match Play Championship. The rather fetching yellow jacket he was presented with after his victory in China now takes pride of place in the clubhouse at Royal Waterloo, after the big-hitting and kind-hearted Belgian donated it to the club. This week, the club members will divide their time following the likes of Pierre Relecom and Guillaume Watremez out on the course, and following Nico’s progress at Wentworth on the TVs in the clubhouse.