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A Ryder Cup 2012 Preview: Just Go For It!

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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!

Written by turbotodd

September 27, 2012 at 1:04 am

The Captain’s Picks

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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!

Written by turbotodd

August 27, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Those Are Called “Sandy Areas”

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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.

Got it.

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:

  1. Tiger Woods
  2. Jason Dufner
  3. Bubba Watson
  4. Keegan Bradley
  5. Webb Simpson
  6. Zach Johnson
  7. Matt Kuchar
  8. 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!

Written by turbotodd

August 10, 2012 at 5:05 pm

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