Turbotodd

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

Posts Tagged ‘tiger woods

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

The Tiger Roars Again

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The first round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake was a doozy.

Tiger and Rory paired together…well, it’s something special to watch. Reminds me of those transcendent rounds with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus playing together.

Two of the best golfers in the world bringing out the best in one another, which mostly they did, and in the game of golf.  Pure magic.

Tiger finished at four under, his putting improving but also hitting some gorgeous drives and approach shots.

Rory? Well, it’s his first time at East Lake, so now that he’s had a few runs around the course, watch out. He puts a few more closer to the pin and turns that putter on, and though he may not intimidate Tiger, he’ll certainly catch his attention.

Rory’s been the strong weekend finisher this year, and the real question about Tiger is can he take that momentum from Thursday into today and the weekend?

Phil Mickelson…well, I called it.  Can he keep it on the fairway? Mostly not. His drives were all over the place. And STILL he was able to recuperate from hill and dale and still pull off a round of one under 69.

Just imagine what he could do hitting fairways once in a while!

Justin Rose was a surprise leader, but not that big a surprise. Scott Piercy, for me, was out of nowhere.

You’ve also got the likes of Steve Striker, Hunter Mahan, Adam Scott, Brant Snedeker and Zach Johnson also hovering there around two under, and there’s still a lot of golf to be played.

Today’s notable tee times: Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson, 12:45 EST.  Tiger Woods and Justin Rose, 2:05 PM EST. Jim Furyk and Bubba Watson, 1:05 PM EST. And Ernie Els, Lee Westwood, 11:55 AM EST.

Written by turbotodd

September 21, 2012 at 5:12 pm

The Turbo TOUR Championship Preview

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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!

Written by turbotodd

September 19, 2012 at 5:14 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

The Rory McIlroy-Fest

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(Photo by J.D. Cuban, for Golf Digest.) These are the clubs that new PGA Championship champion, Rory McIlroy, had in his bag as of three years ago, according to Golf Digest. With his new victory, he can probably afford quite an upgrade, and this just in time for the Ryder Cup in Medinah, where he’s clearly destined by European captain Jose Marie Olazabal to play a central role on the European squad.

The PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, South Carolina, ended with a non-climactic finish yesterday afternoon.

I was playing some golf of my own up in north Texas with my father, so I got to watch the final round of the PGA once I returned home to Austin.

And when I watch the final round of a major, I can tell you I typically watch the whole round, start to finish, which is at least four hours.

I also had to place myself in a news blackout starting around 3 PM CST.

Driving south back to Austin, I realized the radio news might give the winner away, so I turned Puccini’s “Tosca” on my iPhone and listened to it while navigating the slow southbound traffic.

Once home I warmed up the DVR and settled in, and I quickly realized the last round was about to become another Rory McIlroy-fest. If you saw what he did in the U.S. Open at Congressional last summer, you realize all Rory needs is a little winding up in those high performance gears before he starts golfing like a phenom, and that’s what happened yesterday afternoon on Kiawah Island.

Yes, Carl Petterson, and Adam Scott, and even Tiger Woods, weren’t completely out of the mix after finishing the third round and moving on to the fourth and final round in the late morning.

But Rory was like a fine BMW sedan whose upper end just needs a little punch of the gas to speed up and settle in to the highway, leaving everyone else in its dust.

Also, it wasn’t just one part of his game that was making the difference, as is often the case with a championship caliber player.

Rory’s drives were threading the waves of the Ocean Course, his mid-irons were mostly finding their targets with great precision, and when they weren’t that close, his putter was picking up the slack.

He simply looked like Tiger Woods in his hey day — and as we saw at Congressional, when he gets wound up like that, he simply can’t be stopped and is playing a whole different level of golf than we mere mortals.

For all those who’ve been watching the Olympics in London these past two weeks, and marveling at the performances of all the great athletes…well, that’s kind of how many of we golf fans feel when we watch Rory (or any great player) turning it on in a round like that.

By the way, Rory broke yet another record, one that belonged to Jack Nicklaus: The largest margin of victory in a PGA Championship (his was seven, and McIlroy’s yesterday was 8, at 13 under).

In the PGATour.com’s wrap-up, Tiger Woods summed up McIlroy’s potential as a player like this: “When he gets going, it’s pretty impressive to watch.”

Uh, yeah, ya think?  But I guess coming from the former world number one, those are still potent words.

So, congratulations, Rory.  You were a tour de force in a major once again, and if you play anywhere that well in the Ryder Cup, the U.S. has that much less of a chance in taking back the Cup.

Regardless, Medinah’s going to be some seriously compelling, but nerve-wracking golf.

Written by turbotodd

August 13, 2012 at 4:15 pm

One Missed Putt

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If you go back and read the media coverage prior to this past week’s 2012 Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St. Anne’s in Lancashire, U.K., very few sports writers were talking about Ernie Els.

But it was exactly Ernie Els, the one-time British Open Champion and 42 year-old grinder who walked away with the Claret jug yesterday after surreptitiously ousting Australia’s Adam Scott who had led much of the tournament, and was, in fact, leading yesterday through the 17th hole, before collapsing with a missed par putt on the 18th hole in front of thousands of golf fans in attendance and millions more in the TV and Internet audience.

What made the collapse even more painful was that Els and Scott are good friends, and for Scott, this would have been his first major victory.

Despite the outcome, the 2012 Open Championship made for dramatic sports television, especially if you’re a golf fan.

Though other notables, including Tiger Woods, world #1 Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, and a handful of others seemed like they might have a chance to head up higher on the leaderboard at times, it was Scott who seemed destined for victory, playing strategically, cautiously, and most importantly in golf, consistently –that is, all the way up to the 15th hole at Royal Lytham.

But then, as is the case with the game of golf, fate, the winds, and perhaps even some nerves, got in Scott’s way, and with a long birdie putt on 18, Els earned his way to his second Claret jug.

One couldn’t help but have empathy for Scott — he seemed calm and collected throughout the tournament, and no doubt played steady, eddy golf. But the closing holes of a major are key, and just a couple of minor slip-ups — overshooting the green on 17, and driving into one of Royal Lytham’s lethal pot bunkers on 18 — sealed his fate.

As for Tiger Woods, it seemed going into Sunday he might have a chance to overcome Scott early in the day. Throughout the tournament, Woods had only pulled out his driver once, instead opting for smart and more strategic placement of his drives using irons to avoid Lytham’s 205 bunkers. But in the end, that strategy shortened Tiger’s distance off the tees, and lengthened his approaches, making it especially difficult to get close to the already-hard-to-reach pins on Sunday.

And Ernie Els, well certainly his iron play kept him in the running, but it was his putter that won the day. His 12-foot putt on 18 to draw Scott one shot closer to him will be recorded in perpetuity on the great Open Championship highlight reels.

Unfortunately, so will Adam Scott’s missed 7 footer that, had he made it, would at least have given one more opportunity to close the deal in a playoff with Els.

With three majors down, and one to go (next month’s PGA Championship will be held at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, South Carolina), this has proven to be a year of dramatic golf and even more dramatic majors.

It’s also likely going to be the year that golf’s key governing authorities, the USGA and the Royal and Ancient in the U.K., are going to face increased pressure to finally contend with what many call golf’s “steroid,” the belly putter, which players like Els, Scott, Matt Kuchar, and so many others have begun using that allows them to “anchor” the putter in their chests or bellies, and which many think is an unfair advantage.

Me, I’m just hoping for one last and final major in the form of the PGA Championship that is even half as dramatic as the British and U.S. Opens have been, all of which will have been the consummate set up for this September’s Ryder Cup matches in Medina!

Written by turbotodd

July 23, 2012 at 4:30 pm

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.

Tiger Woods And La Roja

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Happy Monday.

For those of you in the northeast who endured those crazy storms, especially in and around the D.C. area, you have my utmost sympathies, particularly with the oppressive heat moving in as so many people were without power.

Someone who discovered some new power over the weekend was Tiger Woods, who won his own tournament, the AT&T Congressional, as he sidled by Bo Van Pelt in a tight finish cemented on the 18th and final hole.

Woods explained to folks in his post-round press conference, “I remember there was a time when people were saying I could never win again. That was, I think, what, six months ago?”

In the period since, Woods has won three times in his last seven starts, and with Sunday’s victory, passed Jack Nicklaus with 74 PGA Tour victories.

Sam Snead’s 82 career victories looms off in the distance as a next milestone.

In sporting news that most Americans were probably not conscious of unless they accidentally slipped into the ESPN channel zone, Spain (better known in Spanish parts as “La Roja,” the “Red”) routed Italy in the Euro 2012 Championship, 4-0.

La Roja’s David Silva had a brilliant header in the 14′, and Jordia Alba then took a brilliant through-ball from Xavi to go 2-0 at 41′ to make it 2-0 before the first half ended.

For much of the second half, Italy played a man down due to injury, leaving them woefully exposed and a victim to two more goals by the hungry La Roja soccer beast.

Though I’m not sure it would have mattered had Italy 11 players the full game.

Spain’s triangular passing and relentless ball movement, particularly down in Italy’s corner of the field, was just overwhelming, and it’s not for nothing pundits are raising the question whether or not this Spanish national team is the “best ever.”

Considering they’ve won three major championships in a row — the Euro in 2008 and 2012, and the World Cup in 2010 — it’s certainly a point worthy of discussion.

As for me, I’m not going to lie, I was rooting for Espana the entire tournament, so I was elated to see them win at the beautiful game once again, and congratulate all my amigos in Spain who I know appreciate all the good news they can muster at the moment!

Fear not, futbol fans, if you’re worried about going into soccer withdrawal, help from the five rings are on their way when the first Olympic Match between Great Britain and New Zealand kicks off on July 25th at the London Olympic Games, and the English Premiere League premieres Saturday, August 18th with the Wigan Athletics and the Chelsea “Blues” (minus Didier Drogba!)

Written by turbotodd

July 2, 2012 at 2:38 pm

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

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