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Looking Ahead to 2004  
It was neither the start to the New Year I anticipated or wanted - having to spend most of January 1 re-arranging flights to Hawaii for Darren Clarke’s entourage after our travel agents somehow managed to get them wrong. Welcome back to the real world Chubby, I thought to myself as my ear was glued to the telephone for much too large a chunk of the day. Hopefully there will be better days, particularly at the Majors and in September when I am convinced we will have ISM’s biggest representation at the Ryder Cup. We had two carrying our flag in 1997 and three in both 1999 and 2002.   It is far within the realms of possibility that we will have four if not more this year.

Paul Casey, Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke are among the favourites to head Europe’s cause against America while I feel David Howell has a very good chance of being among Bernhard Langer’s men.    Paul McGinley and Andrew Coltart have both played in the matches and could well again while Mark Foster and Graeme McDowell have the potential.

Young South Africans Charl Schwartzel and Richard Sterne will be eyeing their first European Tour victories after impressing last season while compatriot Louis Oosthuizen will be trying to build on the last card he gained at the Qualifying School. Louis gets a head start on most of the others because his South African order of merit position allows him the chance to play the first two events in his homeland. The progress of Richard, who had never had a lesson in in his life until spending three days with David Leadbetter recently, will be very interesting to track.  I know that Lead was impressed and he knows a few things about the swing.

The way Ben Mason earned his playing privileges showed how good he is under pressure and we look forward to him developing while David Dixon’s No.15 card from QS will allow him to progress.   The appointment of Adam Griffin as his fitness trainer will benefit and I detect a serious change in attitude here.  A big future lies ahead if he continues to go the right way.

Graeme McDowell took a little time to come to terms with Tour golf after his win in Sweden, but he has a team in place now and I expect big things from this very personable young man.

Mark’s taste of life in America at the Amex and US Tour school has convinced him that he needs to progress technically and to that end he will accompany his close friend Lee Westwood for six days coaching with David Leadbetter this week.

So 2004 promises to be our biggest and best season to date.   We set high standards for ourselves, but we are more than capable of meeting them. Follow us for the ride by clicking on to golfism.net and all our associated sites for regular updates and progress reports on all our stars.

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