Archive for the ‘PGA’ Category
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.
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.
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??
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.
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.
Well, the 2012 Ryder Cup is only 1 day and 11 hours away, as of this writing, and the first tee-time couldn’t come quickly enough.
After such a stellar 2012 golf season for the PGA Tour, and golf more broadly around the world, the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah in Chicago will be a fitting climax to the golf year, especially considering the caliber of players lined up on both the American and European sides.
I, like all golf fans, would love to see Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy paired against one another in the Sunday’s singles matches, but I, like everyone, including the captains, will have to just wait and see how the tournament plays out Friday and Saturday in the fourballs and foursomes.
As mentioned in a prior post, the Americans will be led by veteran Ryder Cuppers Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Tiger Woods, and Jim Furyk.
Newcomers to watch will include 2012 FedExCup winner Brandt Snedeker, as well as Webb Simpson and Jason Dufner.
On the European side, Rory McIlroy will be the defacto team leader because of his world number one ranking, but experience on the European side will fall to stalwarts like Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, and of course, Sergio Garcia.
As for pairings, we’re still eagerly awaiting those, but based on early readings, we can expect to see Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker playing together through the weekend, along with Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell.
Phil Mickelson is expected to take newcomer Keegan Bradley under his wings, and Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia are also likely pairings at some point.
In terms of projections, the Europeans certainly seem to have an advantage, having garnered more points than the Americans the last few Cups, and certainly coming into Medinah holding the Cup they won at Celtic Manor in 2010.
Then again, these are teams with players very fairly matched, and the top players in the world at that. I think it will come down to that side whose players can keep their nerves at bay, and still have nerve enough to go at the long par 3s at Medinah when circumstances warrant.
That, and the putting. Always the putting.
As for the renowned 15th hole at Medinah #3, which has been shortened to a 391-yard par four, we’ll see whether or not Bubba Watson can contain himself and not attempt to drive the green in his matches.
Phil Mickelson commented to Golf Week he thought it was an easy birdie lay-up hole, and one can see in a close match with one team behind why it would be awfully enticing to just go for it!
Well, it was a wild and wooly weekend at the PGA TOUR Championship at East Lake in Atlanta, Georgia, and also the culmination of the 2012 U.S. PGA golf season with the awarding of the FedExCup.
In the end, it was Brandt Snedeker’s opportunity to seize the moment, and seize it he did.
Starting with Jim Furyk’s 17th hole meltdown on Saturday with a drive into the water left, the field slowly but surely began to peel away like an onion, leaving Snedeker on the victor’s podium with his amazingly consistent putting stroke and nearly as consistent driving accuracy. (By way of proof, Snedeker made 61 out of 62 putts from inside ten feet!)
The long hitters ended up being eaten away by East Lake, with players like Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, and even to some degree Tiger Woods, unable to match the needed pinpoint accuracy to stay on East Lake’s tight fairways and greens.
Snedeker also demonstrated an emotional maturity beyond his years, playing the last round like it was just another day on the links, and his double-bogey at six that included a watery tee shot?…well, that was just a minor setback (As he would later learn, both Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy also found their way to agua on number six in the final round).
By the time he reached 17, Snedeker’s confidence seemed quite assured, and the chip-in from the off the green just solidified that confidence.
Even a missed tee shot into the back left grandstand on the final hole didn’t shake him up — he just laughed it off, chipped on to the green, and two putted for bogey to walk away with both the TOUR Championship and the FedExCup, and a payout of over $11 million.
Is Snedeker’s victory a prelude to the U.S.’ likely opportunity to reclaim the Ryder Cup from the Europeans next week in Medinah?
Not so fast. Rory McIlroy still continues to pace the golf world, and is backed by some other exemplary European players, including Justin Rose, who stayed close on Snedeker’s heels yesterday, and Sergio Garcia, a Ryder Cup veteran. Europe also has Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell, both of whom seem to wallow in Ryder Cup pressure, while the American side has a number of Ryder Cup newbies (including Snedeker).
I’m not about to try and call this one in advance. I’ll just say it’s generally expected to be very close, and I’ll be watching every minute before my pro golf withdrawal and depression sets in.
As for the entirety of the 2012 PGA season, it’s likely to prove to be one that golf fans won’t soon forget.
The first round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake was a doozy.
Tiger and Rory paired together…well, it’s something special to watch. Reminds me of those transcendent rounds with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus playing together.
Two of the best golfers in the world bringing out the best in one another, which mostly they did, and in the game of golf. Pure magic.
Tiger finished at four under, his putting improving but also hitting some gorgeous drives and approach shots.
Rory? Well, it’s his first time at East Lake, so now that he’s had a few runs around the course, watch out. He puts a few more closer to the pin and turns that putter on, and though he may not intimidate Tiger, he’ll certainly catch his attention.
Rory’s been the strong weekend finisher this year, and the real question about Tiger is can he take that momentum from Thursday into today and the weekend?
Phil Mickelson…well, I called it. Can he keep it on the fairway? Mostly not. His drives were all over the place. And STILL he was able to recuperate from hill and dale and still pull off a round of one under 69.
Just imagine what he could do hitting fairways once in a while!
Justin Rose was a surprise leader, but not that big a surprise. Scott Piercy, for me, was out of nowhere.
You’ve also got the likes of Steve Striker, Hunter Mahan, Adam Scott, Brant Snedeker and Zach Johnson also hovering there around two under, and there’s still a lot of golf to be played.
Today’s notable tee times: Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson, 12:45 EST. Tiger Woods and Justin Rose, 2:05 PM EST. Jim Furyk and Bubba Watson, 1:05 PM EST. And Ernie Els, Lee Westwood, 11:55 AM EST.