Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘PGA’ Category

A Better Tiger Roars

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Holy moly macaroni, Batman!

You look away for the weekend and the next thing you know the last season of "Game of Thrones" has begin and Tiger Woods has won his fifth green jacket.

And this despite the fact that for a couple of hours yesterday morning millions around the globe couldn’t share their thrill and Tiger’s renaissance at Augusta National via Facebook because, well, for the third time in recent memory Facebook was busy making a triple bogey of its own.

If you’re not a golf fan, there’s no way to really explain how extraordinary the last few days were. If you play the game or love the game as I do, even more so.

I saw an article over the weekend that suggested the average handicapper of 15 (I’ve recently been playing to around a 10) would probably score around 95-100 at Augusta National, and that’s from the member’s tees.

The greens there are the stuff of nightmares, rolling almost as fast as an icy black diamond at Alta. It’s hard to hold an iron shot in the right place, much less a long downhill putt for birdie.

But, of course, most of these guys make it look easy (and none so more than Tiger). Certainly all the rain Augusta had made the greens more receptive he past few days, which is why we saw more and lower scores than usual, particularly on "moving day" (Saturday).

But that also made this year’s tournament so special, because the field was wide open. We saw early leads from the like of relative newcomers like Bryson DeChambeau and Corey Connors, and veterans like Francesco Molinari whose steely and consistent Italian nerves suggested he might be well on his way to his first green jacket.

And he was. He came into Sunday’s early round at 13 under, and Tiger at 11 under. They scrapped all the way until 12, the infamous par 3 where so many have faded under its magnolia klieg lights. Both Molinari and Tony Finau belted their tee shots into the water, probably one part mis-clubbing, one part misreading of the wind, and one part greed (they both wanted some of the far right pin action).

Tiger, ever the Augusta National expert and student of the game, knew better. He flopped what seemed to be a 1,000 foot shot into the air and dropped it into the middle of the green, knowing he could safely play for par while Molinari and Finau scrambled for bogey at best.

It turned out they both scored double bogey, giving Tiger the momentum he needed to move on to 13, tied for the lead, and prepared to become the Tiger of old, the one with the killer instinct, the one who, on 16, hit a gorgeous iron shot that rolled just below and right of the hole to take the lead at 14 under and never look back.

It had been 22 years since his breathtaking first victory at the ripe old age of 21. That was a Masters where he changed not only the game, but the actual golf course (Augusta National felt compelled to "Tiger proof" the course after that rout, making it longer and tougher than ever).

And yes, a lot has happened between now and then, to the world, to Tiger Woods. But that which doesn’t kill us…not only makes us stronger, but typically makes us better people.

I think that’s been the case with Tiger Woods. In 2005, I doubt there were many other golfers standing around waiting to congratulate Tiger as he came back into the clubhouse to sign his scorecard.

This year, I couldn’t count all his fellow players who were there to congratulate him on winning his fifth green jacket.To watch that moment, where he was recognized by his fellow players, many of whom would go on to play the game because of the inspiration he provided — that, to me, demonstrated the metamorphosis Woods had undergone.

He was once again a great golfer, yes, but through all his trials and tribulations had also become a better human being. And that was probably his biggest victory, on and off the course.

Written by turbotodd

April 15, 2019 at 9:52 am

Tiger’s Triumph

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For golf fans everywhere, it was quite the past several days to witness the triumphant return of Tiger Woods to the top of the leaderboard at this year’s final PGA event, the Tour Championship.

Woods ended up beating Billy Horschel by two strokes with a final round one over par. However, he was 11 under for the tournament and his play on Saturday, especially the front nine, where he scored six birdies in nine holes, was nothing short of spectacular. 

This from a golfer who a year ago self-admittedly didn’t have a swing and wasn’t sure if he’d return to professional golf. Judging from the army of fans following him down the 18th fairway at East Lake, they were glad to see him back.

Now, it’s on to this weekend’s Ryder Cup at Le Golf National just outside Paris. Will the Americans be able to win two in a row? And will Tiger’s contributions in Paris measure up to his singular achievement this weekend?

We’ll find out this Friday!

Written by turbotodd

September 24, 2018 at 9:32 am

Posted in 2018, golf, PGA, pga tour

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The Masters Moments

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We’re less than 24 hours away from the most eagerly anticipated Masters golf tournament in recent years.

My journey there last year to see it all live and in person was the opportunity of a lifetime, and a memory I’ll cherish forever.

For a rabid golf fan, it’s the planet around which all other competitions orbit.

But you don’t have to go there in person to appreciate the drama and the beauty of Augusta National.

IBM has partnered with The Masters for 20+ years on the technology used to bring the tournament into a digital experience, and each year the capabilities just get more fascinating.

This year, fans will once again be able to follow the action both on the www.masters.com web site as well as via the Masters Tournament app.

What to look out for this year:

  • LIVE simulcast of broadcast coverage Thursday through Sunday
  • Additional live video streams, including of tournament play at Amen Corner and Featured Groups
  • Masters on the Range — watch the warmups!
  • A “Spoiler Free” mode that will allow you to turn off score-related notifications
  • Shot Tracking Feature — A way to follow each shot on the course, following any player and view every shot, in real time. But don’t let your boss see (unless they’re a golf fan!)

IBM is also putting Watson back to work at The Masters, this time with a “My Moments” capability that uses Watson’s AI magic to create a personalized highlight reel.

This new feature can help you catch up on the great shots of the tournament that you might have missed from your favorite players, as well as the most important shots of the day.

How will it work?  IBM’s AI assistant will “watch” all live-stream video, then parse out clips by recognizing the start and end of a player’s shot.

It will identify the player, the hole they’re playing, and then determine how highlight-worthy the shot is by examining three key vectors: The audio track of the crowd, player gestures (fist pumps, hands in the air, facial emotions, etc.), and a transcription of the broadcast commentary (which Watson will then analyze to highlight emotive keywords).

All this will help the Masters digital team move faster and get the best clips to the global golf audience as quickly as possible.

I have a hunch it’s going to be a Masters for the ages…don’t miss a moment of it (or, at least, the key moments)!

You can download the iOS version of The Masters app here and the Android version here.

Written by turbotodd

April 4, 2018 at 12:23 pm

Posted in 2018, golf, PGA, pga tour

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Brackets And Blades

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I haven’t done my brackets yet because I only started paying attention to NCAA men’s basketball oh, say, about five minutes ago.

I was too busy watching Kevin Streelman win his first PGA Tour event ever down in Tampa Bay.

My favorite Bubba golfer, Boo Weekley, had trounced into the clubhouse with a record 63 (that is, in a final round at Copperhead), and had to sit around and wait a couple of hours to see if Streelman could “streel” his resolve and hang on to the lead (when Boo could have gone fishing the rest of the afternoon…Gotta love those Southern boys!).

Well, hold on Streelman did, shooting a total of ten under and striking a brilliant and bold 5-iron draw shot on the par 3 13th some 200 yards, planting it just past the pin and nailing the birdie that took him to 9 under.

It was a long road for Streelman to take his first PGA win: some 400,000+ miles on American highways long.

Streelman went through three cars driving around the country “dead broke” as he chased his golf dream — yesterday, it all paid off, and couldn’t have happened to a nicer, more deserving guy. Here’s to many more, Kevin.

As for my own golf game, I’ve decided to keep my Ben Hogan 1988 “redline” blades in the bag…well, mostly.

Yesterday, down in Wimberley, I shot an atrocious 50 on the front nine, which I’ll blame mostly on some exceptionally bad chipping (not to mention undulating sloped greens).

However, on the back nine, my iron play came alive and it struck me why so many Tour players continue to play with bladed irons.

Assuming you can find the center of the club with the ball, and actually strike the thing, the ball flight is nothing short of gorgeous with blades, and I’m finding the additional height is very helpful in cruising over certain tall objects, namely trees, in search of the green stuff.

Don’t let anyone tell you amateurs don’t have the chops to play with blades!  It just takes a lot of work and perseverance, but it can also be very well worth the effort.

I hit several greens in regulation on the back nine by hosting some smooth, high-arc shots with a slight draw, planting them nicely a couple of times in birdie territory, but otherwise still getting close or on the greens.

Now, I’ve just got to go teach myself how to chip again.

So here’s now what’s in my bag: TaylorMade Rocketballz driver (adjusted at 9.5 degrees), a TaylorMade RBZ 3-wood, an old TaylorMade 5-wood, a Nike hybrid (I forget the loft, but I hit it around 200-220 yards), 5-6-7-8-9 Ben Hogan “Redline” blades, 3-4 Mizuno MP-25 irons and PW, Mizuno 56-degree wedge, a Vokey 60 degree wedge, and an Odyssey White Hot “Rossie” putter.

My handicap index is now a flat 12, but I am bound and determined to get into single digits over the next couple of years.

Back to the NCAA brackets: Despite Austin’s hosting the second round South play, there aren’t any Texas teams in the mix, so I’m going this year with my other all time favorite, Duke.

If you want to use some high tech for your own bracket picks, WPTV.com out of West Palm Beach has a list of several smartphone and tablet apps you can use to make your picks.

Written by turbotodd

March 18, 2013 at 2:05 pm

It’s Snowing In Tucson

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Okay, golf fans, the Accenture Match Play tournament has finally moved from being one big snowball fight in the parking lot to an actual competitive golf tournament.

I had turned on the TV late yesterday afternoon to check in on the supposed first day’s play that I had recorded on the DVR, only to discover that play was slowed to a halt by a snowstorm…in Tucson. In the desert.

I’m not making this up.

For you golf novices, match play in golf is very different than the traditional stroke play you see on your typical weekend golf tournament.

In match play, think about how the 64 brackets in the NCAA basketball tournament break down, and you’ve got the gist of it.

For the Accenture, sixty four players are grouped into four super brackets, and in each, one player faces off another player in the first round.

Whoever wins the most holes out of the 18, wins that match and, like in college basketball, moves on to the next round.

It’s also an entirely different kind of golf strategy. When your opponent makes a mistake, you work to seize on that mistake by not screwing up yourself, so each match can be akin to watching a dance — the only question is, who will step on who’s golf shoes?

In the finishing of round one that just got underway mid-afternoon Tucson time, there have been a few surprises.

South African Charles Schwartzel, a favorite going in, lost 1 up to rookie Russell Henley.

Spaniard Sergio Garcia almost gave away a commanding lead to Thai golfer Thongchai Jaidee (who, by the way, saw his first snow ever yesterday…also in Tucson!), and they battled it out into extra holes until Garcia took the match 1 up.

Our favorite European Ryder Cup nemesis, evil-eyed Ian Poulter, stepped away from his Twitter account long enough to take out Stephen Gallacher 2-1.

But the matches much of the golf world are holding their breath for are those featuring Tiger Woods v. Charles Howell III, and world ranked number one, Rory McIlroy, matched against fellow Irishman Shane Lowry.

The big question on my mind: Has McIlroy adjusted yet to those new $90 million Nike golf clubs? Rumor was going into the tournament, he had already switched back to his faithful Scotty Cameron putter, but then I’d read Nike had added some weights to his custom “Method” putter so he’d switched back to all Nike, all the time.

Switching clubs is not always a seamless transition, as I recently discovered, and I don’t depend on my clubs to make a living. McIlroy’s first three holes today would suggest they’re good enough (he was 1 up after 3 last I checked).

Tiger…well, Tiger’s just been on, and he probably also just beat the leader of the free world by a good 20 strokes last weekend (President Obama), so his confidence is probably high.

Could it all come down to Woods v. McIlroy in the championship match on Sunday (or, Monday, assuming the snow delay pushes out the finish)?

Methinks the golfing gods won’t be THAT generous to we fans, but I’m certainly willing to send that energy into the universe to try and make it so. CBS will never have seen golf ratings so high so early in a golf season.

Written by turbotodd

February 21, 2013 at 10:21 pm

Golf Gate

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Listen up, I’m not going to get all bent out of shape over what we’re apparently now referring to as “Golfgate.”

The background: President Obama hopped a plane (actually, Air Force One, but “hopping a plane” makes it sound a lot more casual, which is what I think he was intending, a casual weekend where he could chill out away from the limelight) down to Florida for a long weekend of golf while Michelle and the kids went out west to go skiing.

The President’s team kept the press away from what was essentially a private golf course, and hence were unable to take any pictures of his swing the entire weekend.

Then, out of nowhere, Golf Channel correspondent Tim Rosaforte Tweets the following: “The President is arriving at The Floridian range. Awaiting is Tiger Woods and club owner Jim Crane. Historic day in golf. Their first round.”

Tiger Woods was in the house, and he was going to play golf with President Obama!

I’m sure the rest of the world yawned, but in the world of golf, this was a pretty big deal.

Looking at the tick tock, this was 7:52 AM EST.

By the time the evening news rolled around, the media were trying to make it a big deal that they hadn’t been invited to the Tiger/Obama foursome, missing the point that that would have turned the foursome into an eightysome, which can be quite disturbing on the golf course.

And still most of the rest of the country yawned.

But in the golf world, we wanted more details.  Lots of them.  Rosaforte, get your — out on that golf course and tell us what’s going on!

What kind of clubs does the president play with? Did Tiger give any tips to the Prez to improve his game?  If so, what???  Did he treat the rules with some casualness, as apparently did President Clinton, or did he play it straight and take no mulligans or without kicking any balls out of the rough?

This is the leader of the free world, man, we want to know what his game is like, how he swings the club, how accurate he is on the approach!

Tiger kept his lips sealed until yesterday when, I guess, he’d already arrived out west for the Accenture Match Play Championship. During an interview, he finally gave it up: The President, he said, has a good short game (chipping and putting), and that if he kept it up (after he left the Presidency) he’d be “a pretty good stick.”

Whoa…well, a good short game, that’s always a good thing, of course.  I aspire to a better short game myself, and many of we amateurs do.

But Tiger left out sooo much one can’t help but be distracted by the absence of any commentary about the President’s driving off the tee or his play from the fairways.

Is he long off the tee? Is he a complete disaster with some crazy left hook? What??! And what about his irons? Mid-irons can tell you a lot about one’s game? Both about their ball flight and tolerance for risk, never mind their course management skills.   Course management equals strategy equals possible insight into what he might do about Iran’s nuclear situation!

And what about the pace of play?  Does he time himself racing around the course like the former Presidents Bush, playing as if on deadline (which I could never understand…isn’t it kind of the point in playing golf to take your time and relax???), or did he play at a pace such that he might get threatened by Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem for hovering too long over his putts??

Nothing.

I suspect Tiger may be holding out more of the details because someday, after finishing the chase after Nicklaus’ record for the most majors, he is going to write a book about his experience playing golf with “Mr. President.”

I guess we’ll just have to hurry up and wait — kind of like the White House press corps.

Written by turbotodd

February 20, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Europe Keeps The Cup

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The memory of former Ryder Cup captain and player, Seve Ballasteros, was never further than the flap of the Euro teams’ golf bag in this weekend’s “Miracle at Medinah,” when the Euro team came back after a 10-6 trouncing by the U.S. on Friday and Saturday to retain their title and the Ryder Cup. Both sides celebrated Ballasteros’ life and contributions to golf throughout the entire week, highlighting the critical role the Spanish golfer, who succumbed to brain cancer last year, played in breathing new life into the once-every-two-year event and in making it “must-see” golf television.

For true golf fans, this past weekend’s Ryder Cup delivered on its promise as the most exciting event in golf, and maybe in all sports.

I wrote in this blog on Thursday that the Europeans had the advantage going into this year’s tournament, and boy did they prove it.

After a weak start by the Americans on Friday morning, the U.S. team turned the tide on Friday afternoon in the fourballs, with Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson coming to life.

After Saturday’s rounds, both foursomes and fourballs, the U.S. went into Sunday’s singles matches leading 10-6 — that meant they only needed to garner 4 1/2 points  on Sunday to take the Cup back from the Euros.

It wasn’t meant to be.

Euro captain Jose Marie Olafabal had other things in mind, including a similar 1999 comeback by the U.S. in Brookline when he was a player on that year’s Ryder Cup team.

Hovering over the entire event was the spirit and memory of great Spanish golfer Seve Ballasteros, who tragically succumbed to brain cancer last year.

Ballastero’s image was imprinted on each Euro player’s golf bag, and the spirit of Seve’s commitment and championing of the Ryder Cup as a great golf event was pervasive on all sides.

Ultimate, I believe it was that spirit that was channeled through and displayed by Olafabal’s European players.

Ian Poulter on Saturday afternoon eked out a single point in a close match played with Rory McIlroy against Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson, demonstrating nerves of steel in his play and especially his putting.

Yesterday, Poulter was at it again, beating U.S. Open Champion Webb Simpson 2 Up in a heated singles match.

Justin Rose demonstrated sheer brilliance on the last three holes yesterday, sinking one unbelievable putt after another, matching Phil Mickelson’s also exemplary play stroke for stroke.

Rose had mentioned in interviews this week that Seve Ballasteros had been a calming influence on him earlier in his career, assuaging him after he’d missed the cuts in a long run of tournaments several years back.

And Martin Kaymer’s six-footer to seal the entire deal was made with a calm and cool demeanor that was German to its core, and perhaps finally reversed the pain of a missed similar putt by Bernhard Langer in 1991’s Ryder Cup, one that would have retained the cup for Europe that year, the so-called “War By The Shore.”

No matter which side you were rooting for, this was definitely one for the ages, and my congratulations to the Euros on their holding on to the Cup — they earned it, and then some.

I watched every moment of the tournament that was aired on TV — some 26 hours worth — and it was nerve rattling sport from the first tee shot to the last putt.

You can refer to it as “Poulter-Geist” or “The Miracle at Medinah” or some other clever moniker.

I’m just going to remember it as another great and dramatic Ryder Cup, and bite my lip while I wait a long two years for the next one.

Written by turbotodd

October 1, 2012 at 4:38 pm

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