Archive for the ‘rory mcilroy’ Category
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.
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.
I haven’t written about golf in upwards of a week, so as we approach the start of the TOUR Championship (sponsored by my favorite soft drink of all time, Coca-Cola) at Atlanta East Lake, I thought I’d share my thoughts in advance of the first tee time.
The first thing I’ll say is Rory McIlroy. The guy’s just been a golf phenom this year, and yes, he’s had his ups and downs. But he’s had more ups than downs of late, taking the last two tournaments and breaking from the field for the PGA Championship at Kiawah.
Can he win three PGA Tour victories in a row? If all facets of his game are on when he tees it up tomorrow, absolutely. But if Uninvincible Rory doesn’t show up, it breaks the field wide open.
To wit, enter Tiger Woods. He comes into Eastlake ranked # 2 behind Rory, but if Tiger can turn his putter back on, and stay consistent with the rest of his game, there’s no reason he couldn’t walk away from this golf feast with another FedExCup.
Tiger and Rory play together in tomorrow’s round.
Beyond that, we can’t forget Phil Mickelson.
He, too, was struggling with his putting this year, but the claw grip seems to be mostly working for him on the comeback. If anything, Phil will have to have some discipline off the tees and not always be consumed with distance. East Lake is lined with tall pretty trees that you never want to see your golf ball get behind, so accuracy counts. That includes for you, too, Phil.
But I’m also keeping my eye on Brent Snedeker. Never mind, the guy hits the ball faster than any golfer on tour. “No Yips Snedeker,” he should be called.
I want to take his putting and bottle it up and sell it at public courses everywhere, and with East Lake’s smooth Bermuda greens, and his cavalier hybrid play, Snedeker can not only attack the pins — he can sink the putts where he gets close.
If Snedeker gets an early lead, he’s going to have to buckle down and not allow bad course management (or fear) get in his way.
And then there’s also the looming South African, Louis Oosthuizen. Louis still has one of the most beautiful swings in golf, and his calm demeanor will be an advantage with the stakes being so high.
He’s had three top fives in his last five starts, so it’s not unimaginable for his consistent play to sneak up the leaderboard to win the TOUR Championship.
Of course, that’s just five of an excellent field of 30 pro golfers from around the world who will be playing in the TOUR Championship at East Lake — playing to win, and rehearsing for what I consider to be the real main event, next week’s Ryder Cup!
Boy, I need a vacation to recover from my vacation.
As I mentioned in the next to the last post, I tried to not spend too much time thinking about work while I was on vacation and trying to improve my golf game.
The best laid intentions and all that.
No, I did fine on not worrying too much about work (although I have a hard time not reading the news, being a news and blog junkie), but on the golf front, I guess there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing.”
After the three days of golf school, my dad and I had five days (and, therefore, rounds) of golf lined up, but what I didn’t count on was going on the injured reserve list.
Whenever you learn a whole new A) grip B) swing C) stance for your golf game, you also discover new muscles you didn’t know you had, and for me, I found one under my chest plate.
My dad and I played Tuesday through Saturday at various courses within an hour’s drive of Austin, and I even broke a new 9-hole record, shooting a 37 on the front nine of a local track here in Austin (back nine was a 44, for a total of 81).
So, golf school definitely had some positive impact, despite the injury, but by Saturday, I was barely able to turn back a swing for a drive, so I played a little more recreationally and a little less competitively.
But, my dad and I were able to catch most all of The Barclay’s on DVR replay, the first tournament in the “playoffs” for the 2012 PGA FedEX Cup Championship, and because it was played at Bethpage Black, the site of the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens, it was an extra special tournament to watch.
Not to forget the grueling 7,300+ yards, a course distance that gives us mere mortal golfers nightmares of 3-woods and hybrid clubs for days, never mind the short hitting pros.
No, it was the A.W. Tillinghast greens and beaches of sand that were this year’s Barclay’s stars, and ultimately it was Nick Watney who stole the show, playing consistently, and consistently in the fairways, and putting like a true genius.
Tiger Woods went low for a day or two before dropping back into the pack, and Sergio Garcia, despite not being seemingly able to find a steady caddy, hung near the top and/or the lead through the weekend, before giving Watney just enough distance for him to take the Barclays.
It was like watching the U.S. Open all over again. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than watching the pros struggling to play a really difficult course — it reminds me that they, too, are subject to the vagaries and frustrations of the game.
Next stop in the FedEx Cup is the DeutscheBank, being played this holiday weekend at TPC Boston in Norton, Mass.
All you Bostonian amigos of mine, feel free to send me a plane ticket and a course pass — I could stand a long weekend on another golf course — just so long as I don’t have to swing a club myself just yet!
Of course, all this drama is really just a big build-up for individual players to the ultimate 2012 golf denouement, which is the ultimate team golfing event, the Ryder Cup, being held September 25-30 at Medinah, just outside Chicago.
Team Europe’s captain, Jose Maria Olazabal, announced his squad earlier today, and quite frankly, I’m tempted to root for Europe.
The team includes Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia (that pick was a no brainer, the way Sergio’s been playing), Peter Hanson, Martin Kaymer, Paul Lawrie, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, and Nicolas Colsaerts.
It is a team, in short, that is a frickin’ golf powerhouse, with a solid balance between players who have been playing lights out golf of late, and veterans of the pressure cooker that is the Ryder Cup.
American captain David Love III will announce his captain’s picks next Tuesday.
I know I don’t get a vote, but for my money, you have to seriously consider Brant Snedeker, who went 7 under and took second at the Barclay’s with his brilliant putting, and Jim Furyk, who brings some much needed adult seasoning, despite his chokes at the U.S. Open and the WGA.
Otherwise, the core stable of Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, and Phil Mickelson is also a formidable force, although it’d be great if Mickelson could try and keep his drives in Medinah somewhere close to the fairways, and get his putter rejiggered to boot.
I’d say Steve Stricker, Hunter Mahan, and/or Bill Haas will be the likely other two captain’s picks, but Love has another weekend to watch their play before making his final choice.
I hope and pray he picks well!
Well, I sat down to watch on Turbo fast-forward DVR replay the first round of the PGA Championship yesterday evening, but not before first doing the same for the U.S. women’s gold medal soccer match at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
You girls made us proud, but my hat also goes off to the team from Japan. Even though the U.S. won 2-1, the Japan team never gave up and played their hearts out to the bitter end. Great soccer match all the way around.
Now, back to the Ocean course at Kiawah Island.
First, remember there are no “bunkers” this week filled with sand on the Ocean Course. Instead, the PGA explains they are “sandy areas” being played “through the green.” Oh heavens, how confusing.
They’re not bunkers. But, they’re filled with sand. However, they’re “through the green” (whatever that means!), so unlike ANY other sandy area, or bunker, on the golf course, in these, you’re not in a hazard, and therefore you can remove impediments, ground your club when taking a practice swing, and even when addressing the ball.
So, in other words, everything you ever learned about the rules of golf over the past forty years, just give yourself a homebrewed lobotomy and throw all that out the window this week at the PGA Championship, and go have yourself a field day mucking it up in the “sandy areas,” you won’t be needing any rules officials in the bunkers…err, sandy areas.
And Phil “The Thrill” Mickelson found plenty of those sandy areas. In fact, I was wondering why Phil didn’t just drop an umbrella and a few Coronas and throw a “sandy area” celebration party, he ended up in them so much yesterday.
But despite his all-over-the-course play, he still ended up only 1 over.
Other mentionables: Rory McIlroy, back to form and 5 under, one back from first round leader Carl Pettersson (in at 6 under).
Dutch golfer Joost Luiten, who gave up ski jumping for golf while a wee lad, came roaring into South Carolina on his way to a possible 62 (no one’s ever scored a 62 in a major). But after going 8 under after 14 holes, he went on a bogey fest (sound familiar, Mr. Scott?) and had to settle for 4 under for the round.
Another big surprise was John Daly, who arrived in at 4 under and is in the hunt. Go Big John!!
As for the course, it was giving away some scores yesterday, as the wind wasn’t blowing much. I’m thinking that won’t hold through the entire tournament, and the pin placements will inevitably get more challenging through the weekend.
As for Mickelson’s Ryder Cup bid, RC captain Davis Love III played in Mickelson’s group of ex PGA Champs yesterday, so whether or not he makes him a captain’s pick for Medinah really depends on your perception of Mickelson’s performance (and to be fair, yesterday was only one day).
Despite driving the ball all over the place, and hitting some rare bad chips, an argument could be made that Mickelson was pulling himself out of some pretty bad situations, and mostly making lemonade out of his lemons.
On the other hand, one could say, why end up in all those bad situations to start with???
As of last week, Mickelson was sitting on the last spot, #8, before Love starts making captain’s picks.
So, I did a little investigating to see what decides the Ryder Cup picks for the U.S. team specifically, and here’s what I found:
- Prize money earned in the 2011 major championships (Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship): One point is awarded for every $1,000 earned; all U.S. players making the cut will earn points.
- Prize money earned in 2012 “Official” events from Jan. 1 through Aug. 12: One point is awarded for every $1,000 earned, excluding the major championships, events played opposite major championships and events played opposite World Golf Championships; all U.S. players making the cut will earn points.
- Prize money earned for the 2012 major championships: (Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, and the PGA Championship). Two points are awarded for every $1,000 earned; all U.S. players making the cut will earn points.
- Prize money earned in 2012 events played opposite the major championships and opposite World Golf Championship events between Jan. 1 and the PGA Championship, Aug. 12 – one-half point will be awarded for every $1,000 earned; all U.S. players making the cut will earn points.
Here’s the last cut at the top 8:
- Tiger Woods
- Jason Dufner
- Bubba Watson
- Keegan Bradley
- Webb Simpson
- Zach Johnson
- Matt Kuchar
- Phil Mickelson
Hunter Mahan and Steve Stricker are right on Mickelson’s heels, so Phil needs to step it up a notch in Friday’s round!
But, looking at that list, and assuming Simpson loses his post-having-a-baby cobwebs after winning the U.S. Open…well, that’s certainly the start of a Ryder Cup team that I could live with!
The Open Championship is off and underway at Royal Lytham and St. Anne’s golf course in the U.K., and there were some low scores already coming in about the time I was up and about this A.M.
Apparently, the wind died out overnight, so as long as one kept the ball in the fairway and out of the lethal pot bunkers, there were lots of scoring opportunities in this first round.
For example, Adam Scott, who came very close to carding an Open record (that would have been a 62), but found trouble on 18 and had to settle for six under.
1999 Open winner and Scotsman Paul Lawrie was tied at press time with last week’s John Deere victor, Zach Johnson, at five under, and Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell was four under with one hole to play.
Tiger Woods had a respectable round, and was three under through sixteen holes.
But there were plenty of great golfers yet to tee off, including Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, and a host of others.
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