Turbotodd

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

Archive for the ‘u.s. open’ Category

Big Tennis Meets Big Data

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Major sporting events like the U.S. Open are not only exciting to watch and follow, but are also a living lab for how “big data” can translate into big business. This year, the USTA is using predictive analytics and cloud computing to improve the experience for everyone: fans, tennis players, event organizers and broadcasters. USTA’s Phil Green and IBM’s Rick Singer explain how.

I mentioned in my post yesterday that in 2005, as Hurricane Katrina was blowing into the Gulf Coast, that I was flying up to NYC to cover IBM’s involvement in facilitating technology solutions for the U.S. Open tennis tournament.

Well, here we are seven years later, and that partnership continues. Today, the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) announced a new round of technologies to help fans become immersed in the 2012 U.S. Open action.

This year, IBM is going to apply predictive analytics, cloud computing, and mobile technology expertise to connect tennis fans, wherever they are, to the action on the courts.

IBM has created a unique digital environment that provides U.S. Open spectators, athletes and media uninterrupted access to data, facts, stats and content via their tablets, smartphones, PCs and other devices.

This enhanced, interactive fan experience uses new technologies that thousands of businesses worldwide are embracing to up their game by uncovering insights from big data.

New iPad App: Streaming Matches

New for this year’s tournament is an iPad app that serves accurate streams of match data, access to live video, highlights and in-depth statistical information.

Enhanced social media features will enable fans to communicate with other fans around the world (but be nice!). The iPad app also delivers an insider’s view of who’s gaining the edge on the court and most likely to win — well before the final score tells the story.

This app complements iPhone and Android apps that mobile fans can access to connect to U.S. Open action in real-time from around the world. Off the court, IBM’s analysis of the U.S. Open action will extend to the social media arena by determining the Twitterverse’s favorite male and female players.

IBM is applying advanced analytics software to millions of public tweets generated throughout the tournament to assess which players are the social fans’ favorites. The IBM Social Sentiment Index will analyze buzz around the U.S. Open, providing a better understanding of fan sentiment.

The analysis will also illustrate how analytics technology can identify important, and otherwise non-obvious trends, to help businesses make better decisions about how to connect with customers.

If you’re on site at the Tennis Center, IBM has built the IBM Game Changer Interactive Wall, which extends many of the USOpen.org and mobile app features, providing greater insight into the U.S. Open, both on- and off-court using the power of analytics.

Fans will be able to interact with the wall to access live scores, match analysis and data visualizations from the IBM Social Sentiment Index analysis, as well as information about local weather and its effect on player nutrition and hydration, and more.

Broader Applications Of Analyzing Action On The Courts

Delivering insights into what’s happening on the courts at the U.S. Open requires an ability to capture and analyze each serve, volley and point. The same kind of analytics technologies that

IBM is using to deliver insights to tennis fans, players, coaches, media and sports event organizers are being used to monitor babies in prenatal wards, help police departments prevent crime and enable financial services firms to improve customer service.

“Big Data is impacting so many aspects of sporting events, that it’s no longer a stretch to say that it is changing the way fans watch and enjoy sports,” said Rick Singer, vice president, Sports Sponsorship Marketing for IBM. “Whether on the court or in the board room, Big Data is being leveraged to achieve similar goals, such as keeping operations up and running seamlessly, having accurate data readily available for quick decision making, and improving productivity.”

A Predictive Slam

One of the most insightful features of USOpen.org is IBM’s SlamTracker. Based on predictive analytics technology, it leverages historical and real-time match data to deliver a better understanding of what’s going on during a match.

SlamTracker’s ‘Momentum’ feature maps player momentum throughout a match in real-time, visualizing key turning points such as aces and winning shots, allowing fans to interact with the data to learn more about why a player is winning. In addition, SlamTracker’s ‘Keys to the Match’ feature analyzes seven years of historical Grand Slam data to determine the top three things a player must do in order to perform well in a specific match.

Serving The U.S. Open Web Traffic Appetite

During the two-week tournament, USOpen.org transforms into a massive, data hungry environment that demands unhindered access to accurate and reliable content to serve the demands of millions of tennis fans. Each year, IBM helps the USTA expand its infrastructure to meet these demands and then scale back to support regular operations following the tournament.

This elasticity is made possible by the IBM SmartCloud, which enables the rapid creation and dynamic allocation of resources while offering transparent and real-time access by a multitude of devices, such as smartphones, tablets and televisions.

This cloud environment — powered by IBM servers and storage in three geographically dispersed locations virtualized as one — ensures continuous availability and scalability required to support such a high profile event. The benefits include reduced costs and reliable operations.

You can go here to learn more about how IBM is helping the U.S. Open tap into Big Data to transform the fan experience.

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

Victory…Kind Of

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Well, I’m back from the Watson Bubba team’s participation in the Denton Country Club Member-Guest golf tournament.  My dad was the member, I was the guest.

We fought a valiant fight, especially the first day, whereupon it rained down on us our entire round.

Day 2 (Friday), Bubba Watson Jr. (Me) was prepared to give a clinic the first six holes, shooting 4-4-4-4-4-4.  But as I joked in the 19th hole later on that day, “golf struck” — as in, golf reality — and it was a roller coaster from there on in.

I shot a nice, well-rounded 88 both day 2 and day 3, and Watson Bubba Sr. (My dad) shot in the low 80s.  It was just enough to give us a piece of the pie, whereupon we took third place.

The most important thing was, my dad and I got to spend some quality time together, and I took the luxury of a few days of not working or blogging, really my first all year.

So let me pick up the ball where I left off, so to speak.

From a sports perspective, it was an almost overwhelming weekend to keep track.

Saturday saw the kickoff of the Euro 2012 Soccer Championship, with host country Poland forced to take a 1-1 draw against Greece after both teams lost key players to red cards. Russia crushed the Czech Republic 4-1, Denmark beat the Netherlands 0-1 in a surprise win, and Germany eked out a 1-0 victory over Portugal, although I was certainly expecting more in the first game from the Germans.

Spain and Italy probably fought one of the hardest matches of the weekend, ending up tied 1-1.  On the agenda today are France v. England and Ukraine (another host country) and Sweden. If you’re a soccer fan, crank up that DVR and get those pizza coupons ready, there’s plenty more to come and it lasts three weeks!

The Belmont Stakes saw its 144th running, but without Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, “I’ll Have Another,” who had to retire from racing Friday afternoon due to a tendon injury.  No Triple Crown winner this year, but boy did Union Rags go from rags to riches in that photo finish a neck ahead of Paynter in the Belmont Stakes Saturday afternoon.

On the ice, NHL’s Los Angeles Kings lost more momentum back in the New Jersey Devils home stadium, and now return to the Staples Center tonight in LA looking to finally close the series they lead 3-2.

On the boards, of course, the Miami Heat return to the NBA Championship two years in a row after deflating the Boston Celtics Saturday night, this time in a matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder, whose league scoring champ Kevin Durant will face off against league MVP LeBron James.

And back on the Links, the FedEx St. Jude’s Classic was being played in Memphis, and Irish golf phenom and U.S. Open defending champion Rory McIlroy was playing beautifully and leading the tournament up until near the very end before Dustin Johnson, who had to dust himself off after being out over two months due to a jet ski injury, made the game look simple and win with a −4 under 66 in the final round.

All this just in time for the 2012 U.S. Open this week at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, which I aspire to blog quite a bit about here over the next week!

Written by turbotodd

June 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Qualifying For The U.S. Open

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I committed previously to providing some insights leading into and during the U.S. Open in the Turbo blog, and I’m going to try and stand by that commitment!

Whether or not you’re a golf fan, it makes no difference — it’s my hope you’ll learn something in either case.

The first thing to know about the U.S. Open is that it holds the promise for entry to any qualified golfer.  The qualification occurs by offering every year, thousands of golfers both pro and amateur alike, with a U.S. Golf Association Handicap Index not exceeding 1.4 — the opportunity to play in the Open.

The Handicap Index is the great and brilliant equalizer in golf, allowing golfers of all “handicaps” the opportunity to compete with one another in tournaments across the country.  The Index takes into account your level of play, then offers you a “handicap” to equalize the competitive landscape when you’re playing someone with, for instance, a much lower handicap.

By way of example, this week at my father’s home course, the Denton Country Club, we’ll be competing in an annual “Member-Guest” tournament (I’m the guest!).  My handicap index is 14.2, which will help his country club match my index to the complexity level (or slope) of their course, and that way, when we get flighted for the tournament, we’ll be playing against players of a similar ability.

In the case of the U.S. Open, it’s much more level, because all the players have to have an index of 1.4 or better, which means they have to be darn near scratch golfers.

That’s just to get in to the qualifier.  In 2012, there were 109 local qualifiers from April 30 to May 17.  Each of those local qualifiers consisted of 18 holes, with a select number of players advancing then to the 36-hole “sectional” qualifiers (again, with the number of available spots determined by the number of players at the local qualifier.)

A very small number of golfers manage to navigate both stages of qualifying to earn a spot in the 156-player U.S. Open.  In 1964, Ken Venturi claimed the championship after competing in both the local and sectional qualifying, and Orville Moody did the same in 1969.  In no other professional tournament can rank amateurs rise to compete with the best of the best and actually walk away with the Championship trophy!

As former USGA Executive Director David B. Fay referred to it, the U.S. Open is “the most democratic championship” in golf.

In the sectional qualifying, which is the final stage before U.S. Open hopefuls get to the championship proper, the USGA offers 13 sectional sites – 11 in the U.S. and two overseas in Japan and England. Generally, about 750 golfers compete at the sectional qualifying level for about half of the 156 available spots in the U.S. Open.

Sectional qualifying is a grueling 36-hole one-day marathon, with only a handful of available spots at each site. The USGA established two “tour” sites in Columbus, Ohio, and Memphis, Tenn., for members of the PGA Tour who either have just competed at The Memorial (Columbus) or are preparing to play the FedEx St. Jude Classic (Memphis).

In 2005, the USGA established two international qualifiers; one in Japan (Japan, Asia and Australasian tours) and another in England (European Tour). In its first year, Michael Campbell of New Zealand not only qualified in England, but went on to claim the U.S. Open title at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina!

So, that’s the story behind the story for U.S. Open qualifying.  It truly is the Everyman golfer’s championship, and is one of the reasons we regular “Joes” get so excited, as even “we” have a chance to win the Open!

In a future post, I’ll share some history behind the U.S. Open.

Written by turbotodd

June 4, 2012 at 9:08 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

Even Giants Stumble

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I watched most all the men’s semi-finals at the U.S. Open on Saturday, and I have a feeling that the match between five-time Open champion Roger Federer and Serbian Novak Djokovic will go down as one for the record books.

When I first moved to New York City at the ripe old age of 18, I went to see an afternoon of tennis live in Flushing Meadows, and that year the men’s final included Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe.  McEnroe took the championship 6-3 6-4 6-1.

I watched that year’s final on a small TV in my basement apartment in Woodside, Queens.

This year I was able to catch the semis in HD on a 55″ Sony Bravia, and of course, also follow the action throughout the tournament on the IBM-sponsored U.S. Open Web site.

I definitely prefer the HD big screen.

But I really had no inkling that Roger Federer was going to do anything but walk away the winner yesterday.  After Rafael Nadal made short work of Mikhail Youzhny 6-2, 6-3, 6-4, I, too, was looking forward to (finally!) a Federer/Nadal U.S. Open final.

But it wasn’t to be.

Without question, the turning point in the match came 4-3 in the fifth set, and Federer had Djokovic down 15-40. But Djokovic refused to go down without a fight, and point after point he answered Federer’s screaming serves and avoided falling even further behind.

From there on in, it was a nailbiter, and though we didn’t get our Federer/Nadal final, I’m looking forward to the men’s finals even more considering it’s Nadal’s first time in the final match (Djokovic lost to Federer in the final in 2007, 7–6(4), 7–6(2), 6–4).

Alas, the rain kept the match from occurring during its scheduled 4 PM E.S.T. start this (Sunday) afternoon, so tune in tomorrow (or set your DVR) for 4 PM.  It should be a good one.  I’m sure Djokovic was thankful for the extra day’s recovery time.

Finally, congrats also go out to Kim Clijsters for winning her second women’s U.S. Open in a row, who defeated Vera Zvonareva 6-2, 6-1 last night.

Written by turbotodd

September 13, 2010 at 12:27 am

Visualizing the U.S. Open

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If it’s late August, it’s time for some serious tennis.

Yes, it’s already that time again.  The U.S. Open tennis tournament kicks off this evening out at Flushing Meadows in Queens, NY.

What do you need to know about the tournament this year, particularly if you wish to follow the action closely, if remotely?

For over 19 years, IBM has worked with the U.S. Open to bring a better tournament to millions of tennis fans worldwide.

One of the best examples of this partnership is USOpen.org.

Built and hosted by IBM, the official tournament site offers real-time scores direct from the court for every single match.

You can also find updated statistics and video highlights of the day’s action, talk with other fans, and follow the U.S. Open Twitter feed.

During the 2009 U.S. Open, the site attracted over 13.5 million fans.

You can also download the U.S. Open iPhone app.

Download the U.S. Open iPhone mobile app to follow this year's U.S Open tennis action from wherever you might be.

The U.S. Open mobile app features:
  • LIVE Scores and completed match results during the Open.
  • Latest News updates from on and off the court throughout the tournament.
  • “Around Me” Find the nearest live matches, concessions, or the next train home with this augmented reality feature, Presented by IBM
  • USOpen.org Radio – American Express special feature – LIVE streaming radio and play-by-play Open coverage featuring Ask the Booth—a live, interactive Q&A with match commentators.
  • On Demand Video, Around the Grounds and American Express insider player profiles and more.
  • Tweets from the US Open official Twitter coverage, as well as featured players.
  • Visiting the Open featuring maps of the grounds, onsite American Express Cardmember benefits and other great spectator info.

Visualizing the Point

But if you’ve ever sat out at Flushing Meadows and watched any of the world class tennis that’s played there, you know there’s actually a whole lot of data being generated there: Every serve, every volley, every point, every match is filled with a voluminous amount of data — the challenge is keeping up with it all.

This year, IBM has partnered with the U.S. Tennis Association to try in the form of its PointStream solution, which will pull intelligence from the huge amounts of data around scores and match statistics, then demonstrate that information in real-time.

U.S. Open PointStream, powered by IBM, will help tennis fans better follow the action online through real-time data visualization of key statistics, including service speeds, rally counts, double faults, break points...all the key metrics in tennis.

PointStream will show aces, serve speeds, winners, and all other key data of a match visualized in real-time, allowing online fans to get that much closer to the action to matches in progress.

Closer, but not too close.

Written by turbotodd

August 30, 2010 at 1:06 pm

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