O’Malley proves old golfing adage

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It is 17 years since Peter O’Malley produced the greatest finish ever – something Colin Montgomerie will never forget.

It is 17 years since Peter O’Malley produced the greatest finish to any golf tournament anywhere in the world – one that Colin Montgomerie remembers to this day.
Wearing a sweater emblazoned with the flag of his nation, Montgomerie was poised to become the oh-so-proud winner of the Scottish Open at Gleneagles until O’Malley eagled the 14th, birdied the next three and eagled the last.
Europe’s current Ryder Cup captain never wore that jumper again, but if it still exists perhaps it should be presented now to the 44-year-old from New South Wales.
The Aussie they call “POM” because of his initials, has been a member of the European Tour for 21 years, and although he has slumped to a worst-ever 164th on this season’s money list, he still has an award to collect.
For a remarkable fifth time in nine seasons O’Malley is the Tour’s most accurate driver – by a considerable margin.
Sadly, though, it does not say much for the rest of his game this year that, while hitting nearly 80% of all fairways, his only top-10 finish was an eighth place at the Italian Open in May.
Drive for show and putt for dough is an old golfing adage and O’Malley is proof of that. He ranks 173rd out of 192 on the Tour’s Genworth Financial putting statistics.
Only his career earnings of nearly £5million save O’Malley from losing his card – unless, that is, he wins this week’s Australian Masters – yet with the new groove rule coming into effect with the intention of punishing wayward drivers more, perhaps there are further highlights to come.
In his very first tournament, the inaugural Dubai Desert Classic in 1989, the former Australian junior champion lost a play-off to Mark James.
Gleneagles was his first victory, his second came at the 1995 Benson and Hedges International – James was second to him that time – and he came from five behind to pip compatriot Adam Scott in the 2001 English Open.
One other day in a career of well over 400 events stands out. The day seven years ago when he was the 64th and bottom seed and knocked top seed Tiger Woods out of the World Match Play in America.
“No-one really expected me to win, so I didn’t have any pressure on me,” he said.
As for the other Genworth categories, it is no surprise to see Spaniard Alvaro Quiros at the top of the big-hitting league again.
Quiros is set to take that award for the third year in a row, and he is getting longer all the time. In 2007 he won with an average of 308.2 yards, last season it was 309.7 and he is currently at 314.8 – nearly seven yards further than second-placed John Daly.
German Martin Kaymer is the best scrambler and putter at the moment, Robert Karlsson the best bunker player and Sergio Garcia the most accurate with irons.
But when it comes to scoring – what the game is really all about, of course – 20-year-old Rory McIlroy is currently just ahead of Garcia with two events to go.
Here are the tables and the last five winners in each category:
STROKE AVERAGE
1 Rory McIlroy 69.76
2 Sergio Garcia 69.89
3 Martin Kaymer 69.90
4 Paul Casey 69.92
5 Francesco Molinari 69.96
2008 Robert Karlsson 70.08, 2007 Ernie Els 70.10, 2006 Ernie Els 70.02, 2005 Sergio Garcia 69.68, 2004 Ernie Els 69.16
DRIVING ACCURACY (%)
1 Peter O’Malley 79.5
2 Alessandro Tadini 74.6
3 John Bickerton 74.3
4 Francesco Molinari 72.0
5 Peter Lawrie 71.0
2008 Pedro Linhart 76.5, 2007 Peter O’Malley 76.0, 2006 Oliver Whiteley 77.7, 2005 equal Andrew Marshall and Peter O’Malley 71.4,
2004 Andrew Marshall 71.9
DRIVING DISTANCE (yards)
1 Alvaro Quiros
314.8
2 John Daly 307.9
3 Anton Haig 304.1
4 Pelle Edberg 303.3
5 Rory McIlroy
302.4
2008 Alvaro Quiros 309.7, 2007 Alvaro Quiros 308.2, 2006 Christian
Nilsson 314.1, 2005 Angel Cabrera 306.0, 2004 Ricardo Gonzalez 313.6
GREENS IN REGULATION (%)
1 Sergio Garcia 79.5
2 Retief Goosen 78.2
3 Soren Hansen 77.5
= Rory McIlroy 77.5
5 Steven O’Hara 77.4
2008 Steven O’Hara 75.3, 2007 Retief Goosen 77.0, 2006 Titch Moore 75.6, 2005 Ernie Els 76.4, 2004 Ernie Els 76.0
AVERAGE PUTTS
1 Martin Kaymer 28.4
= Thomas Aiken 28.4
3 Michael Lorenzo-Vera 28.5
4 Paul Broadhurst 28.7
= Robert Karlsson 28.7
2008 SSP Chowrasia 27.4, 2007 Thaworn Wiratchant 27.9, 2006 Thaworn Wiratchant 28.0, 2005 Christian Cevaer 27.7, 2004 Christian Cevaer and Rob Rashell 28.3
SAND SAVES (%)
1 Robert Karlsson 75.8
2 Andrew McLardy 73.8
3 Francesco Molinari 69.0
3 David Dixon 69.0
5 Pablo Larrazabal 67.9
2008 James Kingston 77.8, 2007 Richard Sterne 78.7, 2006 Emanuele Canonica 75.9, 2005 Philip Walton 75.0, 2004 Klas Eriksson 75.9
UP AND DOWNS (%)
1 Martin Kaymer 68.7
2 Padraig Harrington 68.5
3 Peter Hanson 64.0
4 Paul Casey 63.2
5 Damien McGrane 62.8
2008 Paul Casey 64.0, 2007 Padraig Harrington 63.6, 2006 Sergio Garcia 66.1, 2005 Padraig Harrington 67.6, 2004 Ernie Els 63.6

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