The 5 big name golfers representing 5 countries teed off on the 10th at the Raven Golf Club at Lora Bay at 12:30, with $125,000 up for grabs for anyone who could put it in the hole in fewer strokes than the other 4. No one did, so the skins carried forward to the next hole.
The conditions were quite different from yesterday when they played the front nine in a steamy, humid and still 33 degrees which started melting spectators by the 8th hole. Sitting in the media centre about an hour before play, I was looking out at good size trees bent over in the wind. The fescue was flat against the ground. Flags were standing out straight. The sky was dark but the clouds were moving so fast that they only sure thing was that conditions would be different in an hour. Fortunately they improved.
As they stood on the tee box, ready to fire on the back nine, Stephen Ames (Canada), John Daly (USA), Retief Goosen (South Africa), Colin Montgomerie (Scotland) and Geoff Ogilvy (Australia) were hitting into a strong quartering headwind. From the back tees they wanted to draw so the right vector was onside, and the headwind didn’t seem to make a whole lot of difference to the distance – especially for Daly. All five scored birdies on the par 5 hole, and the skins carried forward. A tight contest on the 11th saw them all scoring par 4, and moving on to the 12, another 5-way tie with par 3s.
John Daly broke the chain on the 600-yard par 5 13th. He blasted a rocket off the tee, and then overshot the green with a second shot 5 iron that as it turned out, should have been a 6. For almost all the rest of us, the prospect of hitting a second shot long on a 600 yard hole would be all but orgasmic, but to do it with a 5 iron might not even make it into the dream. Daly’s next shot was spectacular. Coming back up to the green, his classic soft-handed chip lifted the ball onto the surface with just the right speed and direction to roll it right into the cup. For our USA guest, the eagle had landed – and what a spectacular eagle it was on this long par 5. No one came close to Daly’s three, with three pars and a bogey. This clinched the championship for this game since with his two previous skins, plus the accumulated 10 on this hole, JD had netted a total of $220,000, with 5 holes left to play.
Daly didn’t add to his winnings – nor did anyone else until the 18th, when Ogilvy took the hole with a birdie 3 against 4 pars. All found the fairway but Colin Montgomerie whose ball found fairway bunker sand instead. A lovely 9-iron lift from the sand put it safely on the green, but with a challenging distance to putt. All five players were on in 2, but only Geoff Ogilvy was able to drop it in one putt. He looked very pleased – nice way to finish with a win on the last hole – especially when that win was worth $125,000! John Daly looked quite content. Stephen Ames looked relieved that he had made something ($15,000 – which isn’t bad for a couple of days work/play). Retief Goosen and Colin Montgomerie looked like they wished they could play a few more holes.
In the conference room afterward, there were a lot of the standard, mostly rhetorical, questions about how did you like the course, did you enjoy the relaxed format, will you come back to Canada, etc. Colin Montgomerie, Scotland’s golfing star, who was in Canada for the first time, said he would like to return but he wants a cheque next time. He also agreed with the accolades of the other players about the course “but the holes weren’t big enough” he said. He had a couple of such close misses that another half-inch diameter would have snagged him some loot.
Among the five players, who were all comfortable and friendly with the crowds and the media, John Daly stood out as the favourite crowd-pleaser. I must admit that I’ve never really been a fan of John’s – I suppose because of his mercurial mood swings and his antics on and off the course, but I have learned a lot about JD during this event, and have developed a genuine respect for his talent, and his big-hearted generosity which he manages to remain very quite about. Perhaps the reporter was probing for a charitable contribution when he asked JD what he plans to do with his winnings. With a straight face, Daly thoughtfully replied “it will probably go to alimony”.
In the presentation ceremony at the 18th green, John Daly accepted the Telus World Skins trophy graciously for the second year in a row, and Telus announced that they were donating $220,000 to JDRF. I want to take this opportunity to talk a bit about the beneficiary of this year’s Telus Skins event, JDRF, and I hope you can stay with me for another minute or so. Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation is the leading charitable funder and advocate of Type 1 diabetes research worldwide. The mission is to find a cure. Presently, this condition is life limiting and life threatening for more than 200,000 Canadians from the day they are diagnosed for the rest of their lives. There are more than 2 million Canadians living with some form or degree of diabetes. Until a cure is found, the occurrence rate is predicted to grow by 3 to 5 percent per year, and the death toll to diabetes-related causes will continue to increase from its present rate of one every 10 seconds. JDRF needs and appreciates the contribution of events such as the Telus World Skins, and the many volunteers that contribute to its success and it can use the support of each of us as individuals. To learn more, go to www.jdrf.ca or call 877-CURE-533.
Brian MacDonald is a golf correspondent for www.mycollingwood.ca. He owns and operates MacDonald's Golf Scotland which designs and manages custom golf vacations to Scotland, Ireland, “New Scotland” (Nova Scotia) and a dozen other international destinations. Golf Scotland is based in Dundee, Scotland. Brian and his wife Nancy live in Collingwood. For more information about Golf Scotland please visit www.golfscotland.com.