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Posts Tagged ‘zach johnson

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.


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Okay, golf fans, if you watched the Tournament Players Championship this weekend, you know you hardly have reason to complain.

All around nice guy and professional golfer, Matt Kuchar, follows a shot during his victory at this weekend’s Tournament Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponta Vedra Beach, Florida.

Other than Kevin Na’s “yips,” which seemed to bother co-playing partner Zach Johnson during Saturday’s third round more than it did anyone else, weren’t quite enough to keep Na from leading as they walked into the final round yesterday.

But it was Matt Kuchar (everyone on the course just yells at him, “Kooch!”) who walked away with his biggest ever title on Mother’s Day, a sweet birdie putt on the 16th at Sawgrass all but cementing his victory.

Scotland’s Martin Laird and the ever fashionable Ricky Fowler, who finally won his own first PGA Tour victory just last week at the Wells Fargo Championship, were hot on Kuchar’s heels, but they’d fallen too far away by the time they reached 16, 17, and 18, the winding hat trick of a finish at Sawgrass that includes the infamous 17 “island” green.

Zach Johnson had been on a bit of a tear of his own, starting the round at 7 under and only four behind Kuchar, eagling the par-5 second and getting to 11 under with a birdie on the par-5 16th — no Master’s par 5 layups for Johnson at Sawgrass!

But Kuchar refused to fall back to the pack.

In terms of drama, there was plenty of it, but most of that drama came from other players.

As Kuchar approached 17, the victory clearly in view, I could only pray, “Kooch, don’t slop another one in the water!” which so many others had done during the week. But no, he put it safely in the middle of the island green and two-putted for his par.

On 18, he hit a nice solid drive in the middle of the fairway (remembering there’s water all along the left side of the hole) and talked sports with his caddie as they walked up towards the green.

No biggie, Kooch seemed to be saying, but it was a biggie indeed, and elevates the well-liked Kuchar into a whole new class of the game.

Which is perfect, because it’s just in time for the coming U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.  If there’s not been enough drama for you this year on the PGA Tour, I hope and expect June 14-17 at the Olympic Club to be about as much drama as a golf fan can stand.

More on that in future posts…but for now, let’s celebrate Matt Kuchar’s well-deserved and long overdue “big win” — the 33 year-old “kid’s” been at since he won the U.S. Amateur in 1998, and finally he can say he belongs in the big leagues.

And it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy!

Written by turbotodd

May 14, 2012 at 3:24 pm

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