Turbotodd

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

Archive for the ‘rory mcilroy’ Category

British Rocketballz

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Golf fans everywhere, be forewarned: I went and bought myself one of those TaylorMade Rocketballz drivers over the weekend, and everything those pro golfers say in the TV ads are true, so long as you don’t swing TOO hard.

I was on the 18th tee of one of our local courses here in Austin, Riverside (where renowned golf teacher Harvey Penick once lived and taught), and hit the ball a good 280 yards straight down the middle, and this from the back tees.  Much farther than I had ever hit the ball even from the middle tees, and so straight and long that it earned some serious “Ooohs” from the 20-something flatbellies I had been joined up with.

Never mind the rest of my game’s still a muddling mess…the point is, the Rocketballz driver lets you hit it like the pros, at least once in a while, and allows you to live your Walter Mitty-ish golf fantasies out on your local public course.

Of course, the pros this weekend we were focused on were Steve Stricker, among others, whom many of us were hoping would become only the fourth golfer in history to win the same tournament four years in a row.

But Zach Johnson, another midwestern favorite who hails from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, had other ideas, taking the trophy away from Troy Matteson, who led wire to wire but lost in a playoff on the second time the two played the 18th hole.

Two shots we won’t soon forget: Matteson’s 59′ foot putt on 17 to make eagle to tie Johnson and get in the playoff, and Johnson’s brilliant sand shot from the “Stricker” sandtrap on 18, a shot that landed about two feet from the hole and pretty much cinched Johnson’s victory.

And THIS time, I remembered to add extra time to the broadcast schedule on my DVR so I could actually watch the playoff. What a concept!

To me, there’s nothing like watching a golf playoff, especially when it’s mano a mano like that.

It’s nervewracking, it’s compelling, it’s, sometimes, yes, even spellbinding.

So, major kudos to Zach Johnson, as this makes for his second win this year (he also took the honors at the Ft. Worth-held Colonial back in May) and sends him roaring back up the FedEx points list.

Now, most all golf attention turns to Royal Lythan & St. Annes in Lancashire, UK, for the third PGA major of the year, the 2012 British Open.

As PGA Tour.Com pointed out this AM, first-time major winners have won nine straight at the Open Championship, so consider the field wide open.

Tiger Woods has certainly been on a streak, but there’s lots of hungry Irish lads like Padraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy, and Graeme McDowell who’d like a sip from that Claret Jug as well.

Harrington’s won the Open twice, Woods’ three times, Els’ once…McDowell and McIlroy, uh, never.

David Duval, who last won an Open at Royal Lytham in 2001, will also be making a return visit.

The action starts early in the A.M. EST Thursday, so get those VCRs and DVRs tuned and ready to go.

I have a distinct feeling this is going to be a seriously compelling, and competitive, week of golf.

The Distance Between Your Ears

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If you’re an avid golf fan, you’re probably experiencing a combination of elation and depression this particular Monday, following the dramatic finish of the 2012 U.S. Open held at the Olympic Club Lakes Course in San Francisco these past four days.

First, let me send out my hearty congratulations to first time major victor and 2012 U.S. Open Champion, Webb Simpson.

Though Webb has certainly had a strong showing these past couple of years on the PGA, his was not a name widely circulated as being a likely victor for this year’s championship.

And though he wasn’t widely featured on the telecast coverage through the first three days of the tournament, he slowly crawled his way up the leader board and yesterday cemented his +1 victory over fellow golfers, Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell.

McDowell, who won his first U.S. Open at Pebble Beach two years ago, held fast to the bitter end, but his final putt wandered just a little too much to the left to earn a playoff with Simpson.

And Furyk, the grinder’s grinder, played steady and firm until that wayward hooked drive on hole 16 at Olympic, also sending his second U.S. Open Championship hopes into the rough along with his uncooperative Srixon ball.

But boy, what drama. If Shakespeare had the occasion to write about golf, he would have gotten at least a sonnet or two out of these past four days of play.

First, there was Tiger Woods’ return to rare form on day one and two, only to see him fade away into the pack with his early six over par on the first several holes yesterday.

Then there was this year’s Cinderella story, committed University of Texas (the new NCAA men’s golf champions, after a forty-year drought) golf aspiree and 17-year-old wunderkind, Beau Hossler, whose grace-under-pressure and whimsical but lethally accurate iron play left everyone wanting more. Standing ovations abounded for “the kid” by the crowds at Olympic, a kid from whom we will certainly hear a lot more and (I hope), soon.

But for my money, the real victor of this year’s U.S. Open was the Olympic Club course, and, of course, the fans.

Olympic played like a great U.S. Open course should — it seemingly brought the best players in the world to their knees, and forced them to play smart and steady golf in order to arrive on top.

That’s the kind of golf Webb Simpson (and a few others) played, and it’s the kind of golf that keeps golf fans coming back for more.

And, after Rory McIlroy’s pummeling of Congressional at last year’s U.S. Open, it was time for the U.S.G.A. to return to the essence of what makes a great U.S. Open — the matching of the best players in the world with the most challenging, but fair, golf course and playing conditions imaginable.

This year, they delivered in spades, and so did Webb Simpson.

Congrats to them both — it was a victory well deserved!

Written by turbotodd

June 18, 2012 at 8:12 pm

The Olympic Hurt

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If you watched any of the first day’s play of the 2012 U.S. Open Championship, you know that the Olympic Club Lake Course has not been kind to the world’s best golfers.

And that’s just the way I like it.

From Tiger Woods to world #1 Luke Donald to last year’s U.S. Open champion, Rory McIlroy, virtually every player is struggling with the razor trimmed greens and tight fairways at Olympic.

It’s always fun to watch the seasoned pros get humbled on a golf course: Landing the ball, holding the ball, putting the ball…stopping the ball.

In fact, Olympic played at over 700 over par yesterday, 400 something in just the first 6 holes, which all the pundits had warned about.

Currently, Michael Thompson leads the field at four under, and Tiger Wood is tied for second at one under.  But there’s still plenty of golf to be played.

Who I’m keeping my eye on for day two: Tiger, no question.  But also former U.S. Open champions GraemeMcDowell, currently at two under for the tournament after 9 holes today, and Jim Furyk, who’s even after 7.

David Toms is also tied at −1, and yesterday’s Jason Bohn is still settled in at even.

I’ll also be keeping an eye on Hunter Mahan (+1 for the tournament, −1 for the day), and Ian Poulter (+1).

Angel Cabrera is only +3, as is Ernie Els and Matt Kuchar, so there’s lots of opportunity left to climb their way back and make the weekend.

As for Tiger Woods’ play yesterday, you could tell he was back in the zone.  He played the course, not the other players, and played some gorgeous iron approaches that demonstrated not only his technical prowess, but his savvy at how the greens were accepting (or not) approach shots.

If he plays like that again today, Woods could easily be leading into the weekend.

Regardless, it’s going to be fun to watch.

If you’re an avid fan, be sure to check out some of the useful features of the U.S. Open Web site for “golf’s toughest test.”  The live video is carrying coverage today of the Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, and Graeme McDowell threesome, and the “PlayerTracker” allows you to follow and review the play of individual players or groups by hole.  I’m just learning my way around that particular course, but thus far, it’s extremely cool.

Finally, don’t forget to keep your eye on the amateur players.  California’s 17-year-old Beau Hossler is even for the tournament, and Arizona’s Alberto Sanchez is only four over for the tournament.

It’s going to be one heck of a weekend of championship golf.

Written by turbotodd

June 15, 2012 at 5:14 pm

The Virtual U.S. Open: Open For Olympic

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The United States Golf Association (USGA) today launched the redesigned official website of the 112th U.S. Open Championship. Offering exceptional functionality and new features that will entertain, inform and engage fans, usopen.com will present the best online coverage of golf’s toughest test, which will be played at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, June 14–17.

The setting: The Olympic Club in San Francisco.

The dates: June 14-17, 2012

The event: The 112th United States Golf Association (USGA) Open Championship, better known as, simply, “The U.S. Open.”

Today, the USGA launched the redesigned official website of the 112th U.S. Open Championship, and offers exceptional functionality and new features that will entertain, inform, and engage fans, and present the best online coverage of golf’s toughest test.

This year, the new usopen.com is powered by IBM’s cloud computing technology and will include a number of key features, including live-streaming video, live scoring, an interactive “PlayTracker,” along with access to Web and mobile applications that bring fans closer to the U.S. Open than ever before, wherever and whenever they want.

Also this year, the Virtual U.S. Open will allow fans to experience each hole at The Olympic Club just like the world’s best golfers.

Complete coverage of U.S. Open sectional qualifying, expanded social-media capabilities and enhanced near-time photo viewing are among the upgrades for 2012.

The official 2012 U.S. Open mobile application for Android and iPhone devices will be available for download on June 4.

Like usopen.com, the app’s tablet-friendly design will provide access to live HD video streaming, news, photos, real-time scoring and Twitter feeds.

Following is a debrief of some of this year’s new usopen.com features:

  • Sectional Qualifying Coverage: Scoring, photos and stories from the 11 U.S. Open sectional qualifying sites in the United States, all of which will be held on June 4th.
  • PicStream Photos: Watch all the action unfold from the 2012 U.S. Open through this near-time photo experience. Some of the best photographers in the industry will be transmitting vivid images directly from the fairways and greens of The Olympic Club.
  • PlayTracker Presented by IBM: An interactive leader board with graphic, dynamic representation of groups on the overall course map. Users can look up statistics, access scoring and trending information, and compare a player’s current stats to their previous rounds or to other players.
  • Enhanced Course Profile: Videos of The Olympic Club’s Lake Course that feature hole descriptions.
  • HD Live Streaming: Users can watch live streams of marquee groups during the first and second rounds on Thursday and Friday. Streaming-video coverage of select holes will also be available on Saturday and Sunday. In addition to watching video on usopen.com, fans can listen to the action via live ESPN Radio streaming.
  • Social Media: A page on usopen.com will be devoted to live updates of aggregated tweets from @USGA and @usopengolf, as well as players and broadcasters. In addition, fans will be invited to connect with each other by using the #usopengolf hashtag and by sharing their U.S. Open experiences, comments and photos at Facebook.com/usopengolf.
  • Virtual U.S. Open: Fans can play the challenging holes at The Olympic Club just as the best players in the world will. Developed in association with World Golf Tour, the Virtual U.S. Open will allow users to experience golf’s toughest test. Players who make the cut will qualify for a chance to win airfare, lodging and tickets to the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.
  • U.S. Open Mobile Application: Starting June 1, fans on the go can access live video, photos, real-time scoring and tweets on Android, iPhone and tablet devices. In addition, they can stream radio and utilize social media to interact with ESPN Radio analysts.

“We set out to create a multi-functional, easy-to-use website that will provide the outstanding digital experience that fans of the U.S. Open have come to expect,” said Sarah Hirshland, senior managing director, business affairs for the USGA. “With superb photography and video, compelling articles and enhanced interactivity, usopen.com extends beyond the desktop to bring the championship experience to the user.”

“We’re collaborating with the USGA to connect fans to the U.S. Open, no matter where they are located,” said Rick Singer, vice president of Client Executive Marketing for IBM, the official Information Technology partner of the USGA. “Our goal is to help golf fans feel like they’re on the course and part of the action in every round – from the first tee shot to the last putt on the 18th hole.”

About the USGA

The USGA conducts the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open, as well as 10 national amateur championships, two state team championships and international matches. Together with The R&A, the USGA governs the game worldwide, jointly administering the Rules of Golf, Rules of Amateur Status, Equipment Standards and World Amateur Golf Rankings. The USGA’s working jurisdiction comprises the United States, its territories and Mexico.

The USGA is a global leader in the development and support of sustainable golf course management practices. It serves as a primary steward for the game’s history and funds an ongoing “For the Good of the Game” charitable giving program. Additionally, the USGA’s Course Rating and Handicap systems are used on six continents in more than 50 countries.

For more information about the USGA or to follow all the action at this year’s 112th U.S. Open Championship online, visit www.usga.org.

For golf fans like myself, I couldn’t ask for a better way to follow this year’s U.S. Open action!

Written by turbotodd

May 30, 2012 at 8:04 pm

The Masters Day One — The Wrap

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Day one of the 2012 Masters was about what you might have expected, if filled with a few surprises.

Augusta National may have been the “star” today — she was playing very tough, despite the soft greens, and the winds (and, later in the day, light rain) and heavy air, made for some long play.

I can’t remember the number of players who were short (in Rae’s Creek) or right on 13, and only the longest hitters were consistently hitting greens in regulation.

If you take a look at the final leaderboard for the first round, it is, not surprisingly, a “who’s who” of men’s professional golf.  As far as the top of the leaderboard, well, it was Henrik Stenson’s to own at 6 under until a snowman (a quadruple bogey 8) on the closing hole dropped him back to −1 (he’d also bogeyed 16 to take him to 5 under).

Lee Westwood came in “under the radar,” as the announcers kept telling us, shooting a sweet 5 under, his last birdie coming at the 17th.

South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen came alive in a birdie run on the last five holes to land at 4 under, along with Sweden’s Peter Hanson.

Then, there was a six-way tie for third, including that most interesting man in the world, Spaniard Miguel Anjel Jimenez.

Beyond that, it was your typical PGA log jam, with former Master’s winner Zach Johnson at 2 under, followed by fellow Augusta green jacket owner Vijay Singh, and 2010 FedEx champion Jim Furyk.

Even Steve Stricker’s in the running at 1 under.

That’s where you also found Irishman and favorite Rory McIlroy, while Tiger came in at even par and Phil Mickelson arrived at 2 over, after a disheartening bogey on 18.

Tomorrow is another day, but if today’s play was any indication, round two should be filled with plenty more drama before we see who survives the cut and moves into the weekend and “moving day” on Saturday.

Written by turbotodd

April 6, 2012 at 1:16 am

Day One At The Masters

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Today’s the best day of the year!  Happy Master’s, everybody!

The Master's leaderboard on the Masters.com Website during this morning's opening round in Augusta.

I’ve had the TV blasting from the moment I woke up this morning, and I’ve minimized my conference call schedule to make sure I can pay appropriate attention to day one of the 2012 Masters’ tournament from Augusta, Georgia.

As of this writing, Martin Kaymer has jumped out to −2 after 9, while Henrik Stenson is −2 but through 3.   The course seems to be playing difficult so far, with very few red numbers thus far.

Tiger Woods just played #1 and is at even par.

The big question overnight was whether Augusta would allow for lift, clean and place (where the golfer can pick up their ball and clean off any mud, grass, etc.), but apparently it wasn’t necessary, despite the 14 inches of rain the course saw overnight on Tuesday.

Now, to your viewing options: This year, I’m keeping tuned into the Masters iPad application that IBM helped build for the tournament.  It includes a nice top-shelf interface that includes a leaderboard, livestreaming video from both featured groups and Amen Corner, and a news stream that keeps you in touch with the latest from the round.  It’s a VERY nice one stop Master’s shop.

I’m also tuning into the Golf Channel for ongoing commentary for highlights, and soon, I’ll be tuning into the AT&T U-Verse Master’s coverage, which will allow me to custom follow one of two featured groups, Amen Corner, and/or 15/16.  Nice job, AT&T!  You should promote that more!

And of course, on Masters.com, you can find everything you need to know about the tournament, including all the pairings, results, and live video coverage of Amen Corner, 15/16, and of course, pictures from today’s round.

You can also follow the hashtag #masters on Twitter, but be forewarned — it’s trending like #egypt during the Arab spring, and this is only day one!

Written by turbotodd

April 5, 2012 at 3:34 pm

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