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Ewen Murray applauds Charley Hull's victory and previews Investec Cup

Ewen Murray - Ewen Murray Posted 18th March 2014 view comments

Congratulations to Woburn's Charley Hull on her maiden victory last week in Morocco at the tender age of 17!

A final round of 62 was a spectacular way to reach that landmark; stylish, classy and flamboyant.

We had a glimpse of her talent at last year's Solheim Cup and I'm sure all of those close to Charley are thrilled at her meteoric rise in the professional game.

Hull: landed maiden victory in Morocco

Hull: landed maiden victory in Morocco

This win will surely be the first of many.

Meanwhile, in Tampa, it was good to see how tough the Copperhead course was set up for the latest event on the PGA Tour.

The emphasis was on accuracy for a change and for John Senden, the seven-year-plus wait for win number two would have been well worth it.

John has continually been high up in most statistical categories down the years and at 42 years of age, he could be on the verge of a "Jimenez" career, where the best form comes later on in life.

The PGA National has 'The Bear Trap' and 'The Snakepit' is at Copperhead... but The Lost City has the real thing - a Crocodile Pond.

Ewen Murray
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Luke Donald showed a welcome return to the player we know he is and his confidence will have been given a boost with his consistent week.

Survive

This week the Tour moves to the grounds of Arnold Palmer's Kingdom for the annual Bay Hill Invitational, one of the great events of the year.

Arnold purchased this estate with a consortium back in 1976 and since then many improvements have been made. The Bay Hill Club and Lodge is now one of the most revered venues on Tour with a finish that will test the very best.

The 16th has been a par four and a par five in its life, 17 is a fabulous par three with danger everywhere and only the strongest heart will survive the par four 18th.

Down the years there have been some top class champions and I suspect, come Sunday, another one will be crowned.

It's a week which edges the game's elite a little closer to the Masters and adds to the build-up of the year's first major.

Incentive

I will be taking a trip down to the Republic of South Africa this week for the Sunshine Tour's end-of-season Investec Championship.

It is their equivalent of the PGA Tour's Fed-Ex Cup and the European Tour's inaugural final four events which ended in Dubai last November.

Thirty players make up the field and, with South Africa's major involvement in world golf today, there is a great incentive for those thirty players to win on Sunday.

The winner can look forward to entry into the Nedbank Golf Challenge and by winning what is their order of merit, the door opens to one or two of the World Golf Championships events.

The first two rounds are played over a private and exclusive course close to Sun City and the final thirty six holes are played at the Lost City course at Sun City which is adjacent to the one you will be more familiar with, the Gary Player Country Club.

Crocodiles

When the course opened, an American guest hit his ball into the pit and climbed down to retrieve it. He finished his round and was asked by the assistant pro what he thought of the course.

He replied: "It was great fun, a good test of golf, superb views and whoever dreamed up the crocodile pit was a genius. Those crocodiles looked real!"

The assistant pro said, "Sir, they are real!"

Legend has it, after two days in intensive care, he was declared well enough to return to the States!

Gary also designed this one and some if its views are of African Savannah, bushveld and game country - and all of it built on an extinct volcano.

During the last few weeks, the PGA Tour has had "The Bear Trap" at PGA National and last week "The Snakepit" at Copperhead. These are names dreamed up by some promoters, but The Lost City has the real thing.

Its first par three on the back nine has a "Crocodile Pond". From an elevated tee, the shot is played to the green below where short and left of it the crocodiles roam in a pit that they are enclosed in.

Privilege

My co-commentators this week are two lifelong friends.

Dale Hayes was the European number one back in 1975 and the other was the 1966 French Open Champion! Denis Hutchinson was 83 years young earlier this week and it will be a privilege to sit next to him in the booth.

While we are doing what's called a world feed, ie broadcasting to several countries around the globe, Rob Lee and his guest will be in the London studio.

Even if you're not a golfing enthusiast, you will enjoy the vistas around the Pilanesberg National Park where Africa's "big five" roam.

My next column will be just a few days ahead of the Masters at Augusta National and together we will have a look at this year's contenders.

Send in your choices and we shall preview their chances of winning the coveted green jacket.

The rains of December and January are now firmly behind us and, with the courses drying out, enjoy your time on the fairways where you play.

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