Turbotodd

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

Posts Tagged ‘ryder cup

Europe Keeps The Cup

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The memory of former Ryder Cup captain and player, Seve Ballasteros, was never further than the flap of the Euro teams’ golf bag in this weekend’s “Miracle at Medinah,” when the Euro team came back after a 10-6 trouncing by the U.S. on Friday and Saturday to retain their title and the Ryder Cup. Both sides celebrated Ballasteros’ life and contributions to golf throughout the entire week, highlighting the critical role the Spanish golfer, who succumbed to brain cancer last year, played in breathing new life into the once-every-two-year event and in making it “must-see” golf television.

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.

Written by turbotodd

October 1, 2012 at 4:38 pm

PGA’s New Champion: Brandt Snedeker

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Tennessean Brandt Snedeker holds both the 2012 PGA TOUR Championship trophy, along with the 2012 FedExCup, after he held off the world’s best golfers the past four days at the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia. Snedeker’s personal triumph comes just a week before he represents the U.S. in the Ryder Cup at Medinah in Chicago. Snedeker made 61 out of 62 putts inside 10 feet for the week, demonstrating once again he’s got one of the PGA Tour’s hottest putters.

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.

Written by turbotodd

September 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm

BMW Tees Up A New Winner

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Okay, golf fans, how about that BMW Championship and the continuing race to the PGA Tour’s new great prize, the FedEx Cup??

When the Tour first introduced the points-based playoffs in 2007, there was a lot of hemming and hawing. Who needs it, what about the majors, etc.

Well, here were are five short years later, and PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem and his team are laughing all the way to the 19th hole.

Just look at the top of the leaderboard over this past weekend’s BMW Championship, the final stop before the denouement that will occur next week at the Tour Championship: Rory McIlroy (the winner of the last two playoff events), Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Lee Westwood, Adam Scott…I could go on.

But the point is this: The best golfers in the world were playing Pete Dye’s Crooked Stick and chasing that Cup!

As for the play itself, it was of the highest caliber. Lee Westwood’s irons were magnificent, Rory McIlroy’s drives were massive, and yes, had Tiger been putting like the Tiger of old, he likely would have surpassed McIlroy and taken the BMW.

But the drama was real and the stakes were high, and if the performances were any indication of the coming Ryder Cup competition in Medinah, well, hold on to your driver, boys and girls, this is going to be one nerve-wracking Ryder Cup.

Going into Eastlake in Atlanta for the Tour Championship, the top 5 are as follows: Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Nick Watney, Phil Mickelson, and Brandt Snedeker.

If any one of those top five win in Atlanta, they win the FedExCup AND a $10 million bonus.

My money’s on Rory, but this is the FedExCup, and I wouldn’t rule out any of those top 5 walking away with the big check.

As for my own game, I’m about three weeks post-golf school, my newly-discovered under-rib muscle has mostly heeled, and I’m hitting the ball straighter and more accurately than ever.

Yesterday, I scored 82 on a local course here in Austin, and that was with a couple of nasty double bogeys I incurred with some sloppy sand and short chip shots.  Last weekend, I shot a career-low round of 79 on a links course in some heavy wind, so my shot-making and course management skills are improving, as is my consistency.

I think the real test will come after another couple of months, and though I won’t be playing with the likes of Rory and Tiger anytime soon, I’m enjoying the game more than ever!

Written by turbotodd

September 10, 2012 at 4:15 pm

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

Golfing For Gold

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To my fellow lovers of the links: All this London Olympics fervor has been slowly sinking in, and as I watched Jim Furyk hand Keegan Bradley the keys to the WGC-Bridgestone kingdom on the 18th green this past Sunday, it reached a fever pitch: Golf is coming back to the Olympics.

A brief bit of history is in order: The last time golf was featured in a Summer Olympic Games, Henry Ford’s Model T had not yet come off a production line.

Yes, it’s been that long.  1904, in fact.

Canada’s George Lyon was the last Olympian male to take a gold medal in golf.

When golf returns to the Summer Olympics in 2016 in Rio after a 112 year hiatus, it will be a much welcomed return for golf fans around the globe.

The International Golf Federation (IGF), which is the governing body overseeing golf’s return to the Olympics, proposed a 72-hole stroke play tournament for both the men and womens’ events in 2016, with a 3-hole playoff in the event of a tie.

Eligibility for the tournament would be determined by IGF rankings, with the top 15 players being eligible regardless of country, and then the next 45 players representing countries that didn’t already have two representatives.

And if you’re curious as to the designer, and designer, for the Rio Olympics course, check out this article on 48 year-old golf architect Gil Hanse, a “traditionalist” course designer known for his work at TPC Boston and Castle Stuart in Inverness, Scotland.

***

As to the FedExCup Standings thus far, after Bridgestone, Tiger Woods is still in the lead.  The next several behind him include Zach Johnson, Jason Dufner, Hunter Mahan, and Bubba Watson, all of whom are pretty much neck in neck.  Bradley jumped up to 7th place after his victory.

This week’s PGA Championship at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, has some big stakes — and I don’t just mean the PGA Championship trophy.

The Ryder Cup is just around the corner in Medinah, and U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III will not only be playing the PGA — he’ll be scouting his captain’s picks.

PGATour.Com has Phil Mickelson “on the bubble,” and explains players like Zach Johnson, Steve Stricker, and Hunter Mahan will be right on his tail.

The PGA Championship is the season’s last official major, but with the Ryder Cup looming ahead, there’s still plenty of great golf to be enjoyed before football season takes over (and baseball winds into the playoffs).

***

Turbo recently invested in a TaylorMade “Rocketballz” driver to fill out his golf bag, and based on his experiences thus far, swears that everything they’re saying in the TV commercials thus far is true!

As for my own game, I have to admit, the Taylor Made Rocketballz driver I recently bought has been a godsend.

I played a course in Frisco, Texas, this past weekend that required some serious needle threading off the tee box. Normally, I would be paranoid about such tight drives, and would panic hit them left, right…everywhere but center.

But with a minor swing adjustment where I keep my elbows closer to my body through my swing, I hit 13 out of 14 fairways this weekend (Note: I didn’t have to use my driver on the par 3s, thankfully 🙂 ), with most going straight and long…I’d say an average of 15-25 yards longer than normal.

Straight and long, the most beautiful phrase in golf.

However, I’ve plateaued in my mid-iron game, and could also use some help around the greens, so I’ve decided to take a golf school vacation.

I’ve been thinking about it for years, but it’s time to commit. The Academy of Golf Dynamics is located right here in Austin, and despite the 100+ heat, I’m hopeful the three-day course will help me work out those few kinks that are really keeping me from consistently lowering my score.

Their Web literature indicates that most players who follow their guidance and do the follow-up work achieve a 25% reduction in their handicap.  I spoke with one of the instructors there on the phone, and he explained the summer workshops don’t quite fill up as much as the spring, so if I’m willing to beat the Texas heat, I’ll get more than my fair share of personal instruction.

I’m certainly going to give it a try.  Golf is something you can never master, but it IS certainly something you can always improve upon. And for those of you who play consistently, you know that improving and hitting those masterful shots you always knew you could hit in your mind is what keeps you coming back for more.

So, I’ll be sure to take some notes in case any of you out there are considering such an investment and let you know how it goes.

Right after the three days of the workshop, my 70 year-old, 10 handicap father (I’m a 13), is coming in to town and we’re going to take a week straight and play some of the best courses in and around Austin to see if my investment in the workshop will have paid off!

Moving forward, I’m also going to try and more consistently use an iPhone app (“Golfshot GPS”) to track my play so that I can better understand precisely where and how I’m losing the most strokes.

Business analytics on the golf course?  Hey, whatever it takes.

Written by turbotodd

August 7, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Showdown At The Ryder Cup

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What a weekend at the Ryder Cup.

If you’re a golf fan, you certainly couldn’t complain about the action in Newport, Wales this weekend.

This year’s Ryder Cup brought all the drama, heartbreak, and yes, even sportsmanship that one comes to expect from the gentleman’s game, in one of the most celebrated golfing events around the globe.

If anything, the weather in Wales was the bogey for this year’s tournament, but what did they expect from Wales weather in October?

After rain delayed and compressed, and even altered, the tournament schedule, for the first time ever the Ryder Cup bled over into a Monday morning, altering business productivity across Europe and the U.S., and probably parts beyond.

What I didn’t expect was that the Cup would come down to a 13 1/2-13 1/2 point tie between Europe and the U.S.A., with this year’s U.S. Open victor, Ireland’s Graham McDowell, and Dallas’ own Hunter McMahan, playing the final two holes for the match.

After the Saturday foursome and fourball matches, it looked as though the Europeans had taken the U.S. out to the woodshed, but never underestimate the Americans in singles play.  Tiger, Phil, Zach, and several other U.S. players stepped up after some weak team play yesterday, but on the 17th hole, it was too little too late, as Hunter Mahan flubbed his chip up to the green and, after missing the long putt for par, conceded the hole to the Europeans.

Congratulations to Europe — they took back the Ryder Cup.

Despite the outcome, I was glued to the TV all weekend and will remember a menagerie of key moments from the 2010 Ryder Cup: Jeff Overton’s enthusiasm and crazy chip in yesterday from a dizzying backspin….Stewart Cink’s laser-like putting….Tiger and Phil’s singles come back after mediocre team play….Luke Donald’s gorgeous iron shots…Miguel Angel Jimenez’s finally winning his first single’s match in a Ryder Cup….Euro vice captain Sergio Garcia’s enthusiasm providing moral support, not playing, to his teammates….”Captain” Colin Montgomerie’s smile walking amidst the crowd off the course in victory.

Through the rain and all, it was a thrill ride, and I can’t wait for the 2012 Ryder Cup and a chance for the U.S. to bring the cup back home.

In the meanwhile, congrats to all my friends across Europe, and their fans around the globe, for a very close but much deserved Ryder Cup 2010 win.

Written by turbotodd

October 4, 2010 at 2:32 pm

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No Tweeting On The Greens, Please

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Anybody watch Ken Burn’s follow-up to his seminal documentary, “Baseball,” last evening on PBS?

Entitled “The Tenth Inning,” I just happened to be channel surfing my 157 channels with nothing else on so I tuned in.

And is often the case with Ken Burns’ work, I couldn’t tune out — I watched the first of two parts glued to my seat, particularly with the deep background on folks like Barry Bonds, and especially the section covering the Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa home-run-a-thon in the summer of 1998, when both broke Roger Maris’ single season home run record of 61, set in the 1961 season and a record that stood for 37 years.

I also wallowed in the recap of the powerful late 1990s Yankees (I’m one of the 10 percent who love the Yanks).

But Burns didn’t pull any punches in this follow-up, highlighting the huge damage that Major League Baseball’s ostrich play on performance-enhancing drugs has done to the game, not to mention the 1994 player’s strike, from which the league is arguably still recovering (and the damage from which the Sosa/McGwire home-run-a-thon Burns argues also helped assuage).

Rest assured, I’ll be tuning into part two this evening.

But of course, what I’m really psyching myself up for is this weekend’s Ryder Cup.

After Jim Furyk’s nail-biting twofer win of The Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup last weekend, I’m totally stoked for the final golfing denouement of 2010.

However, I won’t anytime soon be a fan of the Twitter ban that Ryder Cup captains Colin Montgomerie and Corey Pavin have imposed on their respective Europe and U.S. player rosters.

For golf fans, and the golfers themselves, the Ryder Cup (which is only played every two years) is one of the most enthralling and nerve-wracking golf tournaments in the world.

Considering the sport of golf has seen its amateur ranks dwindling in membership by over ten percent the past few years, it seems to me the sport and its players should become more transparent, not less.

Though I don’t necessarily want to burden any of the players with Tweets live from the course, it could serve the game well to allow the players to Tweet after hours as the drama of the players’ intense days wind down.

Instead, a code of golfing Omerta silence has been imposed, and we fans will just have to guess what the players are thinking as they sweat out their three days in Newcastle.

That’s okay.  I’m sure the worldwide golf audience will be sure to help fill the Twittering void.

Written by turbotodd

September 29, 2010 at 4:01 pm

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