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2015 Shell Houston Open Photos

GolfWRX is live this week from the Shell Houston Open at the Golf Club of Houston (Tournament course) in Humble, Texas. It’s the last tournament before the Masters, and the last hope for golfers to gain entry into the year’s first major with a win.

The field this week includes Jordan Spieth, who’s currently ranked No. 4 in the Official World Golf Rankings, Sergio Garcia (No. 8), Jimmy Walker (No. 10), who won last week at the Valero Texas Open, Justin Rose (No. 11), Rickie Fowler (No. 12), Martin Kaymer (No. 13), Matt Kuchar (No. 14), Patrick Reed (No. 15) and Phil Mickelson (No. 21).

In last year’s event, Matt Jones made a 46-foot putt for birdie, which got him into a playoff with Kuchar, then chipped in on the first playoff hole to claim his first PGA Tour victory.

Check out our photos from the Shell Houston Open.

2015 Shell Houston Open: Mon. Pt. 1
2015 Shell Houston Open: Mon. Pt. 2
2015 Shell Houston Open: Mon. Pt. 3

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Reconciling Tiger’s Chinese projects with China’s course closures, ban on new courses


Reconciling Tiger’s Chinese projects with China’s course closures, ban on new courses

By John Strege

Last week, we learned that Tiger Woods reportedly will receive $ 16.5 million to re-design two golf courses in Beijing. Today, there is news that Chinese authorities have closed 66 golf courses built in violation of laws that protect arable land and preserve water.


How to reconcile these disparate stories, as well as the fact that it has been illegal to build new courses in China since 2004?

“From the outside, China is very complicated like that,” David Lee, a consultant on golf course development in China, said.

No kidding.

Lee, who also consults with Golf Digest China, explained that the courses with which Woods reportedly will be involved, the first of which is Pacific Links International’s Tian’an Holiday Golf Club, are not new, but will be remodeled. The Tian’an Holiday Golf Club is a 27-hole facility that will become an 18-hole course, Lee said.

Pacific Links International plans to buy a dozen courses in and around Beijing, “so with one membership you can play all these reciprocal golf courses,” Lee said. “With Tiger’s name they think they will be able to sell a lot of memberships.”

Lee also believes that Pacific Links International intends to bring professional events there and that Woods’ fee likely requires his participation.

As for the closing of courses, the Tian’an Holiday Golf Club “wasn’t on the list of courses in trouble,” Lee said. The 66 courses closed were built after the 2004 ban that, Reuters reported, was “imposed to protect China’s shrinking land and water resources in a country home to a fifth of the world’s population but which has just 7 percent of its water.”

“It’s all very, very confusing,” Lee said.

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Le Pin the Best Bet for Wine Investors

Le Pin the Best Bet for Wine Investors

© Château Le Pin

A new report highlights the woeful return on investment for buyers of top Bordeaux wines.
By Adam Lechmere | Posted Monday,

A report into Bordeaux pricing indicates that out of 50 top Bordeaux châteaux, only Le Pin has been consistently worth buying en primeur.

The Liv-ex Bordeaux 2014 price guide reveals that only four châteaux – Angelus, Calon-Ségur, Le Petit Mouton and Le Pin – have shown meaningful positive returns since the 2009 vintage.

Even for those properties, 2013 proved too much. Angelus found 2013 “a difficult sell”, despite showing good returns for investors on all previous vintages. Calon-Ségur was the same; though its prices have remained stable throughout the decade, 2013 generated negative returns. Only Pomerol’s Le Pin, with an average in-bond bottle price of €1583 ($ 1723), has bucked the trend.

The publication pulls together 10-year price statistics on 50 châteaux, including all the first growths and the top right bank and Sauternes properties. The results make shocking reading.

While ex-châteaux release prices increased by 250 per cent between the 2008 and 2010 vintages, secondary market values went up only 53 per cent in the same period. “Customers have lost money for the last five vintages,” the guide noted.

“New release prices have been slow to adjust to changing market reality. With customers sitting on sizable losses, prices will need to be competitive relative to stocks already available, to entice customers back.”

Some of Bordeaux’s biggest names – Cheval Blanc, Lafite, Haut-Brion, Mouton, Margaux, Latour, Cos d’Estournel and some 30 other properties – have left purchasers of their wines hopelessly in the red.

Price of 2009 and 2010 wines slump

Those who bought 2009 Lafite at the merchant release price of €1318 ($ 1435) a bottle saw its value almost halve before they took delivery in 2011. Liv-ex now calculates its price at €679 ($ 739), a drop of 49 per cent on its release price. The retail price has likewise fallen. Wine Searcher’s database shows the retail price at release in 2010 was $ 1544 (excluding sales tax). It peaked in 2011 at $ 2040 and has fallen away to its current average of $ 1275, a fall of 37.5 percent.

Lafite 2010’s value has dropped by 47 per cent, while 2011, ’12 and ’13 have gone down by 16 to 23 per cent, the report said.

The same story is repeated across Bordeaux, with 2009 and 2010 – the highest-priced vintages – faring the worst. Subsequent vintages, too, show losses almost as serious as properties continued to put up prices.

Even when prices go down they are not matched by increased sales. Château Pichon Baron, for example, continues to show negative returns despite dropping in price from €143 ($ 155) in 2010 to €78 ($ 85) in 2011.

Liv-ex compares prices and sales to Robert Parker’s scores, noting that the US critic has had considerable influence, and says his absence this year as he hands Bordeaux over to the UK critic Neal Martin adds to the “considerable challenge” the region faces.

There won’t be a repeat of Parker’s extremely high rating of 2008, which the critic compared to the great 2000 and 2005 vintages, sending prices rocketing.

“Unlike 2008, there will be no Robert Parker…to save the day. Price, perhaps more than ever, will be a key to success in this year’s campaign.”

Finally, Liv-ex says, there is some cause for optimism, mainly based on the fact that “a tentative recovery in sentiment, prices and volumes is underway … the 2014 vintage is showing early promise [and] the weak Euro against both the pound and the dollar will help buyers in Bordeaux’s core markets.”

The 2014 en primeur trade tasting week officially started on Sunday.

The wines of Chablis are often described as mineral

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By AFP Posted Sunday, 22-Mar-2015

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Imperial College London Business School and University of Cambridge qualify for Left Bank Bordeaux Cup final

Left Bank Bordeaux Cup, LBBC, Bordeaux

  • 2015-03-30T16:30:00+01:00 Monday 30 March 2015
  • by Ellie Douglas

The penultimate qualifier round for this year’s Left Bank Bordeaux Cup took place in London, with both Imperial College London Business School and University of Cambridge succeeding in going through to the final.

The jury of the competition; the teams from University of Cambridge and ICLBS
It was the first time Imperial College London Business School  (ICLBS) had participated in the competition, which this year took place in the Connaught Hotel in London on March 28th. Organised by the Commanderie du Bontemps for Medoc, Graves, Sauternes and Barsac, and sponsored by Decanter, the competition is now in its 14th year and had entries from 16 French teams, 13 US teams, 18 Asian teams and 7 European teams.
Contestants answered a range of theory-based multiple choice questions, such as “How many Classified Growths are there in the Moulis appellation?” or “Who wrote ‘I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best’?” They then participated in a blind tasting.
The ICLBS and Cambridge teams fought off stiff competition from other top UK universities, including London School of Economics, University of Oxford and University of St Andrews, as well Denmark’s Copenhagen Business School and HEC Lausanne from Switzerland.
Representing the University of Cambridge were students Lucy Yang, Nick Cooper and Mateausz Zelazny, and for ICLBS Horace Yu, Ranald Lai and Leon Lee. Once the winners were decided, contestants and guests enjoyed a sit down dinner, with wines including Chateau Grand Puy Ducasse 2004 and Chateau Gruaud Larose 2003.
The qualifying finalists from the first three rounds are UCLA Anderson and MIT Sloan (New York round), HK Baptist University (Hong Kong round) and Sichuan International Studies University (Shanghai Round), and the last round will be held in Paris on April 16th, before the final which will be held at Chateau Lafite Rothschild on Friday June 12th.
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  • UCLA Anderson and MIT Sloan qualify for Left Bank Bordeaux Cup final

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The Reality of Minerality

The wines of Chablis are often described as mineral

© Mick Rock/Cephas | The wines of Chablis are often described as mineral

New research suggests that minerality in wine is not a figment of the imagination.
By Rebecca Gibb | Posted Tuesday,

Wine tasting notes are peppered with the ambiguous term minerality, but does it exist? And, if it does exist, what does it mean and where does it come from? Can you smell it, or is it purely a taste sensation?

In a bid to close the black hole of knowledge relating to minerality, sensory scientists in New Zealand and France have collaborated on a project to understand better what the concept of minerality means in Sauvignon Blanc wines, and “to investigate cultural differences in the perception of minerality” between the two wine-producing countries.

The results suggest that the concept is very real: despite being 12,000 miles apart, the participants in the French and Kiwi panels shared a similar notion of minerality. Lead author Dr Wendy Parr told Wine Searcher: “Overall, it was remarkable – we were quite amazed by the similarities the data showed between participants.” The study noted that this was all the more remarkable due to the “differences in wine cultures of France and New Zealand in attitudes towards wine and in current wine-production styles of Sauvignon Blanc wine”.

Inevitably there were differences between individuals’ perception of minerality, which supported the findings of a 2013 study of minerality in Burgundy Chardonnay. Parr explained: “Mineral is a character that’s so nebulous, you’re going to get differences between people.” Nevertheless, the notion of minerality appears to be a shared concept across the seas.

The researchers main finding was that a lack of perceived flavor was associated with the perception of minerality. But what exactly does that mean? Parr explained: “If there’s nothing much else in the wine, people resort to calling it mineral by a process of elimination. If you can’t get much flavor out of a wine, you might be more likely to produce the descriptor mineral.” Conversely, the more intense the fruit, the less mineral wines were judged.

Dr Wendy Parr

There have been suggestions that minerality is solely a taste sensation, but the findings indicate that you can smell minerality as well as taste it. The panelists evaluated the wines by smell alone, by taste alone (wearing a nose clip), and by smelling and tasting and, in all three cases, the wine professionals perceived a mineral character.

While there is anecdotal evidence that reductive aromas and high acidity can contribute to the perception of minerality, the study failed to find any evidence to back this up. On sulfides, Parr noted that a number of New Zealand wine professionals have suggested that they have picked up reductive notes in wines sealed with screwcaps that they believe other people are judging as mineral. “But we haven’t found any clear link between reduction and perceived minerality at all.”

When it comes to acidity and pH, there have been studies that found a set of participants associated acidity with minerality but again the link has not been clear. Parr and her team are now extending their work to investigate if there are any relationships between the pH and the TA (titratable acidity) of a wine and the perception of minerality. There is also ongoing research on the presence of compounds such as calcium and their relationship to minerality.

We’re still not sure what minerality is. “It’s not going to be solved,” said Parr, “it’s not black and white, but this paper has gone a long way to demonstrate the concept is real and that it’s shared across diverse cultures.”

Want to know more? You can access the study here.


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