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Maybe God is also a golf nut…

July 16 2012 at 02:05pm
By Grant Winter

Big-hitting Bubba Watson, who uses his twitter account to share his faith, won the Masters.

Give Tiger Woods his due: After a couple of seasons in the wilderness he is making a determined comeback with three splendid victories on the PGA Tour in America this year.

But, taking a look at the bigger picture – the Majors and the big tournaments – it is golf’s “God Squad” who are dominating the game in 2012. Big-hitting Bubba Watson, who uses his twitter account to share his faith, won the Masters; Webb Simpson – who studied religion at university and is a devout Christian – took the honours at the US Open, while Matt Kuchar, a member of the PGA Tour’s Bible study group, notched the most important victory of his career in the Players Championship, which is regarded as golf’s unofficial “fifth Major”.

Now, of the Majors, only this week’s British Open at Royal Lytham and the US PGA at Kiawah Island from August 9-12 remain. And if the saints go marchin’ in again, the squad will have completed a glory-hallelujah, holy rollin’ “God Slam”.

Born-again Hennie Otto won the SA Open last summer while fellow South Africans Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion, and Louis Oosthuizen, runner-up to Bubba at Augusta this year and winner of the Open at St Andrews in 2010, are also men of faith. And the same goes for Zach Johnson and Ricky Fowler, both winners on the PGA Tour this year, and putting genius Steve Stricker, who on Sunday was chasing his fourth win in four years in the John Deere Classic.

And then there’s little church-going Jbe Kruger, who captured the Avantha Masters – an event co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours, in February and will be heading for Lytham this week alongside 13 other South Africans.

All this reminds me of the story that famous comedian, Bob Hope, told of a game he had with equally famous evangelist Billy Graham (who like Hope was a golf nut): “I cheat and Billy prays,” Hope said. “But he cheats in his own pious way. I mean, with the help he gets how would you like to play 18 holes and have it raining on just you? I once sank a 35-foot putt against him, turned around and my caddie had turned into a pillar of salt. I almost beat him once. I only had to sink a three-foot putt. It was right on line before a flash of lightning struck and the hole sealed up!”

Making his debut in this year’s Open is 26-year-old South African Andrew Georgiou, who plays out of Erinvale in Somerset West, is a graduate from Columbus State University and who writes articles for Christian magazines when he’s not playing golf.

Now in his fourth year in the paid ranks, Georgiou has had a pretty good 2012 Sunshine Tour season, with over R260000 in earnings and his best finishes being beaten in a play-off (by Bryce Easton) for the title in the the Sun City Challenge, and placing third in the Lombard Insurance Classic.

He is also the player on the 2012 Sunshine Tour most strokes under par (68 under for 37 rounds), and with the second most birdies (162, five less than Desvonde Botes who leads).

Georgiou earned the right to tee it up at Lytham by finishing inside the top three – alongside Grant Venstra and Adilson da Silva – in International Final Qualifying at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington in February.

Now he is about to participate in the biggest tournament of his career. “I am very excited and working hard to give of my best. I certainly want to make the cut and if that happens my goal will be the top 10,” says the pumped up golfer who has posted pictures of his first practice round on the treacherous Lytham links on his website.

As a little-known debutant on the international stage, the bookies don’t give him much chance this. On the other hand, doesn’t the Lord work in mysterious ways? Come to think of it, maybe Bubba Watson’s miracle shot from the trees in the Masters to beat Oosthuizen in sudden-death play wasn’t entirely all his own doing? Maybe God is also a golf nut … – The Star


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