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"No matter how hard we make this golf course, these guys just keep ripping it up," that was the verdict from Ken Kosak Abu Dhabi Golf Club's general manager after 12 players shot 66 or better on day one.
The simple fact is, these boys rarely, if ever hit the kind of bad shots that you and I would recognise. I spent most of yesterday observing the action out on the course and in that time I must have seen around 50 birdies and only two truly bad shots.
The first belonged to Paul Casey. After pushing his drive on the 8th he made the schoolboy error (these are not my words but those of GM’s Top 25 Coaches) in following a poor shot with a bad decision. With his ball lying in dense shrubbery (I’m sure there’s a word for where he was but I’m no horticulturalist), he decided to have a crack at the green some 200 yards away. The ball travelled 30 yards right of target into even denser shrubbery and was never seen again. In the end he missed a short putt for bogey and walked off with a 7 on a hole that he would have expected to birdie. To be fair, he wasn’t helped by the commentator Julian Tutt talking just as he was about to hit the putt. Julian would do well to give Casey a wide birth for a few weeks!
The second bad shot came from GM’s very own playing editor David Howell. Having just birdied the par 3 7th, he hooked his tee shot on 8. Unlike Casey, he limited the damage, relying on his awesome short game to make par.
I guess all this illustrates a simple reality of the European Tour. In good weather, playing on a course that’s in superb condition, there is very little you can do to stop them going low. I for one don’t mind that and as long as one of the high profile names comes out on top, I doubt Ken will either.
In his current role, Neil is responsible for testing drivers and golf balls. Having been a part of the Golf Monthly team for over 15 years and playing off a handicap of 3, he has the experience to compare performance between models, brands and generations. For 2022 he thinks the main trend in drivers is: "In a word, consistency. Whilst all the brands are talking about ball speed (and the new drivers are certainly long), my biggest finding has been how much more consistent the ball flights are. Mishits don't seem to be causing the same level of drop-off or increase in the spin numbers. This means that more shots seem to be flying the way you want them to!" As far as golf balls are concerned the biggest development is in the, "three piece, non-Tour, urethane-covered section. For regular golfers, these models offer superb performance at both ends of the bag without denting your wallet quite as much as the premium Tour-played options."
Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he is now the brand's Digital Editor and covers everything from Tour player interviews to gear reviews. In his time at Golf Monthly, he has covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points.
Neil is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSi2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons (4-9): Mizuno JPX 919 Forged Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 46˚, 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X
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