Jay Townsend is in South Africa this week for the Volvo Golf Champions on the European Tour. 23-year-old Branden Grace is a client of ISM and he won the Joburg Open last week. He is not ready to say that Grace will join other South Africans like Schwartzel and Oosthuizen who are able to both contend and win on the world stage. Grace struggled a bit on the back nine in the final round before he ultimately won the Joburg Open so he may need a little more time.
Ernie Els gets a lot of TV time and when he watches him, Jay gets the sense that Ernie does not have as much passion for the game as he used to have. From the perspective of his golf game, putting is clearly Els’ weakness and if he is able to get better at putting, his finishes and his game will improve as well.
Darren Clarke needs to refocus on what he wants to do with his golf game in 2012 following a year where he won the one event that he wanted to win more than any other in the world. Major Championship winners always experience a hangover of some sort and Darren is no different but if he going to come out of it and win again, Darren will have to refocus his goals.
Charl Schwartzel missed the cut as the 2-time Defending Champion of the Joburg Open and Jay thinks that last week was an aberration and not a preview of things to come in 2012. Schwartzel plays a very grueling schedule that involves a lot of travelling and his position as the unquestioned headliner last week made an already busy week that much more hectic. He is not worried about Schwartzel at all.
He thinks that both Matteo Manassero and Tom Lewis are amazing young players who each have something very special. It is ultimately a toss-up between which one will have the better 2012. Lewis is a longer hitter and has a more versatile game than Manassero which may give Lewis more opportunities to win overall but he thinks that Manassero will take advantage of the opportunities he gets and will win events. However, Manassero is limited by being a short hitter.
Thomas Bjorn had an amazing 2011 season and what made it even more amazing was that he played so well right after almost ending his career. Jay doubts that Bjorn will have a similar year in 2012 simply because 2011 was so amazing and while Bjorn may not be playing on the European Ryder Cup team, he would not be surprised to see Bjorn as part of the team in another capacity.