New Talent and New Challenge

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What a pleasure it was to watch the final three days of the Open de France Alstom in the hosts chair and witness the arrival of Pablo Larrazabal. A week earlier the production team and I had expected an easy Sunday of sitting back and enjoying Martin Kaymer cruise to victory as he led by six going into the final round. But the 23-year-old German kept us on our toes all morning, eventually winning in a playoff over Anders Hansen.
 
No such problems for Larrazabal. He was a joy to watch and his demeanor was Seve-esque ' wearing his emotions on his sleeve, putting like a genius and going after every shot as if it were his last. I found it marvelous to watch, a breath of fresh-air. The celebrations were fitting as his fellow countrymen from the European Tour tossed him in the lake. If you held your breath for a second when they let go of him, so did I; some of those lake arent very deep and it would be devastating for a player to get hurt, something to consider as the celebrations get more and more boisterous.
 
Thats for another discussion, though; Larrazabal is the talking point and so he should be. The French Open was just his 17th European Tour start in this his rookie season. He has plenty of time to develop as a player and its hardly as if hes been steadily building a career. He did represent Spain at boys and youth levels, but didnt grab any large piece of amateur silverware like his brother Alejandro, who won The Amateur Championship in 2002.
 
Pablo featured a handful of times on the Challenge Tou,r having done a stint on the family fish-farm, then went to Q-school and qualified for the main tour. Coming into the Open de France his best finish was T15, not bad for a rookie but hardly a warning sign of what was to come at Le Golf National ' which, by the way, is a terrific course and should be considered as a potential Ryder Cup venue. Well watch young Pablo ' hes 25 but looks 17 ' with eager eyes over the rest of the season and see whether he can delight us once again with that wonderful form in the coming few months.
 

Taylor to Return This Week:
On January 9, 2008, Ladies European Tour professional Kirsty Taylor was due to return from Spain having played a pro-am with some fellow LET professionals. The day would change her life. Taylor suffered a mystery fit. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor and nine days later was having surgery. Further procedures followed as did six weeks of radiotherapy.
 
The recovery process has been tough. Taylor has still not received the all-clear yet, and is unable to drive. Recently though, shes been able to cycle to the her local course, Minchinhampton, trying bravely to resume a normal course of action. That includes teeing it up at the Oxfordshire English Ladies Open this week. Its more of a test to see where I am fitness wise and concentration wise; to enjoy the week and see everybody, she says.
 
Hubby Alistair will be on the bag; hell also act as chauffeur on the hour-and-15-minute drive from home. If I get tired and get a headache Alistair will encourage me to come in as it will be daft to carry on.
 
Kirsty will undergo further tests in August to see how shes progressing. If things go well then she hopes to make an appearance at the S4/C Wales Ladies Championship of Europe where she was champion in 2005.
 

Around Europe:
The European Tour visits a new venue for the European Open this week, The London Club, which is not in London at all but south east of the capital in the county of Kent, nicknamed the Garden of England. Colin Montgomerie defends.
 
The Challenge Tour is in France at the AGF-Allianz EurOpen de Lyon. Seve Benson is now leading the standings.
 
The European Seniors Tour heads east to Russia for the Russian Seniors Open at the Pestovo Golf and Yacht Club. Ian Woosnam, Sam Torrance and Jim Colbert are in the field; however, no Russian players are entered.
 
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