Monday, December 28, 2009

Winter Golf Tips

  • Improve your strength, endurance, and flexibility. Talk to your local personal trainer.
  • Work on your swing in slow motion in front of a mirror making sure your club is in the proper positions.
  • While in your living room, work on fundamentals such as grip, posture, ball position, and alignment.
  • Work on your putting indoors and focus on the fundamentals such as keeping your head and body still, keeping your eyes over the ball, using a pendulum motion, making sure your back stroke and forward stroke are equidistant, making solid contact, and releasing the putter.
  • Work on your pre-shot and pre-putt routine in your living room.
  • Take winter lessons.
  • Brave the cold and play.
  • Find an indoor range and try to hit balls a few times per week.
  • Find a range with heaters or covered tees and hit a few times per week.
  • Purchase a hitting net for your garage or basement.
  • Take a lesson with video analysis.
  • Get your swing speed checked to make sure you are using the proper shafts.
  • Have a club fitting done to make sure you have the right dimensions on your clubs.
  • Make sure you are stocked up with all the equipment you need for the upcoming season.
  • Read golf instructional books or magazines.
  • Watch the golf channel and the pro tournaments to pick up tips.
  • Set specific goals for the upcoming season.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A look back on the major stories of 2009

Tiger Woods - AP / Charlie Riedel

Golf was certainly interesting in 2009 with some great play, great tournaments, several near misses by big name players, and some minor scandal that you probably haven't heard of.

Here is a look back on some of the top moments and tournaments of 2009.


Masters: Angel Cabrera
Kenny Perry had tournament locked up until bogeying the final two holes and losing in a playoff.

U.S. Open: Lucas Glover
Former #1 David Duval came out of nowhere to contend but a triple bogey on the final day cost him.

British: Stewart Cink
Tom Watson, 59, almost became the oldest player to win a major. The five time champion bogeyed the final hole in regulation, and then lost in a playoff.

PGA: YE Yang
Yang held off Tiger Woods and became the first player ever to defeat Woods when he led going into the final round of a major.

  • Tiger came back from knee surgery and an eight month layoff to win seven times worldwide. Woods won the Fed Ex Cup for the second time, won PGA player of the year, the money title, the scoring title, and was named AP athlete of the decade.
  • Phil Mickelson won four times in 2009, defeated Tiger at the HSBC, and finished second in the Fed Ex Cup race despite his wife and mother being diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Rory Mcllroy, Danny Lee, Ryo Ishikawa, and Rickie Fowler all jumped onto the scene as the top young golfers in the world
  • The United States defeated the International team 19 1/2 to 14 1/2 at the Presidents Cup
World Rankings

1 Tiger Woods USA
2 Phil Mickelson USA
3 Steve Stricker USA
4 Lee Westwood England
5 Padraig Harrington Ireland
Complete list

Obviously, the biggest story of the year in golf is the saga of Tiger Woods, which we have all heard more than enough of. Who knows when this will ever calm down and who knows if Tiger will ever be the same on the course if and when he returns.

For those of you of want more Tiger, click here for a variety of articles about his 2009 season, including his tournament play, awards, and the ongoing scandal.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tiger breaks another record

The scandal has lead to another record for Tiger. He was on the cover of the New York Post 19 consecutive days, breaking the record for the 9/11 coverage.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Playboy Hefner weighs in on Tiger

Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy magazine has now spoken up in the wake of Tiger Wood's extra-marital activities.

Hefner spoke with Fox News and had the following comments.

"I don't approve of it. I just was not surprised by it," Hefner said. "The reason that I wasn't surprised is that he’s traveling the world. He's a handsome, young guy and beautiful ladies are throwing themselves at him. You never know the circumstances of a personal relationship or a marriage and how well it worked and I think that the immorality of infidelity is the lie. It isn't really the sex. It's the cheating."

On whether or not athletes such as Woods should stay single?

"It's an individual decision, it works for some people," he responded. “I was married for eight years and was faithful to it the entire time. And, I certainly had plenty of temptations. But, was I happier then? No," he said laughing, "I wasn't."

Hefner, now 83, made the comments while at a book signing with his three girlfriends.

Crazy world we live in for some people:

Hugh Hefner: age 83, three girlfriends about 6 decades younger than him.

Tiger Woods: age 33, married, approximately 16 girlfriends

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Steve Williams calls out ESPN's Reilly

Tiger Wood's long-time caddie Steve Williams has vehemently denied any knowledge of Wood's extra marital activities and infidelity.

"I had no knowledge of what Tiger's indiscretion was," Williams said. "What people fail to realize is I just work for Tiger Woods. I live in New Zealand, I travel to and from New Zealand to caddie for Tiger Woods. Whilst I am a very good friend of his, I don't know what he does off the course.

"When he is not competing, I am back in New Zealand. I have no knowledge of what he is doing. Yes, I talk to him on the phone, ask him how his practice is going, how he is hitting the ball, how his family is, but I don't know what he is doing, just like he doesn't know what I am doing."

Rick Reilly, ESPN writer, recently wrote an article stating that Woods needs to fire everyone around him, including caddie Williams, because he had to of known Woods was having affairs.

“I am a straight-up sort of person," Williams said. I tell it like it is. Last year, at the same particular point of time, is when I had the confrontation with Phil Mickleson. I didn’t lie about it. I called the guy a prick. I never said I didn’t call him a prick. I never denied one word of what I said. I had no knowledge of what Tiger’s indiscretion was. And for Rick Reilly to turn around and say that I am a liar and there is no way I couldn’t know – and that I should be fired – that is sensational journalism at its height right there. I am an honest person. I had no knowledge of what was going on with Tiger. If I did, I would say I did.”

Williams has been on the bag for 13 out of his 14 major championships and has stated that Woods would be the last player that he will ever caddie for.

I tend to believe Williams. He doesn't seem like a guy that would lie.

Although I did think the same thing about Tiger, so who knows?

More Tiger cartoons

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

2009 PGA Tour: What could have been

There were a lot of great moments throughout the 2009 season, and there were even more what if and what could have been moments.

  • Kenny Perry could have won the Masters had he not bogeyed the final two holes in regulation.
  • Phil Mickelson could have won the Masters and could have had one of the most famous final rounds in history after shooting 30 on the front nine. His double bogey on 12 cost him that shot.
  • Mickelson could have won the U.S. Open in heroic style with his wife going through cancer.
  • David Duval could have comeback from nowhere to win the U.S. Open. An unfortunate plugged lie that led to a triple bogey early in his final round really hurt his chances.
  • Tom Watson, 59 years old, could have been the oldest player ever to win the British Open before a heartbreaking bogey on the final hole sent him to a playoff against Stewart Cink.
  • Tiger Woods was in contention at both the Masters and U.S. Open. Poor ball striking at the Masters and terrible putting at the U.S. Open killed his chances.
  • Tiger Woods could have won the PGA Championship for the 5th time before being stunned by Y.E. Yang. This was the first time Tiger ever lost a major with the lead going into the final round.
Looking back on it, the major winners very well could have been something like this.

Masters: Phil Mickelson
U.S. Open: David Duval
British Open: Tom Watson
PGA: Tiger Woods

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Nothing Major

I recently received the book Nothing Major from Bob Cayne, who has been involved with golf for over six decades.

Bob has been the General Chairman of the World Championship of Women's golf, organized and promoted PGA Senior Tour events and the Women's Western Amateur Championship, co-hosted the weekly radio show "Talking Golf" and served as marketing consultant to several golf industry clients.

He has compiled a great deal of humorous and interesting stories about himself, his friends, and the many famous PGA and LPGA Professionals he met along the way. The book is a quick read and provides a lot of old school golf stories that were nice to learn.

Here are a few of the radio spots he used to promote his show.

"This is Chi Chi Rodriguez. Every Saturday morning I tune into my radio with "Talking Golf" with George Sweda and Bob Cayne. Then I go out and hit golf balls until the show is over.

This is Raymond Floyd. I used to think the worst thing I could hear was "You've missed the cut." Then I heard "Talking Golf" with George Sweda and Bob Cayne.

Order your copy today at Nothing Major.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Big winners of the week

Wie gets first LPGA victory in Mexico.

Tiger wins the gold jacket in Australia.

Wie photo - AP / Miguel Tovar
Woods photo - AP / Rob Griffith

Thursday, November 12, 2009

In non related Tiger news......

Anthony Kim won a million bucks at the Kiwi Challenge in New Zealand by beating Sean O'Hair in a playoff. Hunter Mahan placed third and Camillo Villegas fourth in the tournament for players under 30.

The final round of the Fall series kicks off Thursday at Disney giving the players one final shot to secure their card for next year. David Duval is right on the bubble, and unfortunately shot 76 in the first round which jeopardizes his chances immensely. Definitely amazing that he was so close to winning the U.S. Open this year and still might not secure his card for next year.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

This round goes to Mickelson

It wasn't the showdown that everyone was hoping for, but it was interesting to say the least. Both Mickelson and Tiger made some serious miscues in the final round of the HSBC World Golf Championship in Shanghai that they don't normally make.

Phil missed a few short putts, had a really bad 3-putt, was wayward with the driver for most of the the day, and even whiffed a flop shot. He did make a great par save on 16 and a nice birdie on 17 to seal the tournament. He finished with a final round 69 and ended up at 17 under.

Tiger missed several short putts, had a really bad 3-putt as well, yanked an iron into the water, hit a fairway bunker shot with a plugged lie about five feet, and chunked a flop shot into a bunker. He was four over through seven but was able to make five birdies from there to finish with an even par round of 72, good enough for 6th place at 12 under.

The nerves must have gotten to them all. In one five minute stretch, Els dumped his 5 wood into the middle of the lake on 18. On hole 16, Watney hit a very poor chip from the rough, Mickelson whiffed his flop, and Woods chunked his flop into a bunker. Amazing to see the top players in the world all hit poor shots like that in a row.

Regardless, it was still an exiting tournament to watch. Mickelson ends his 2009 season on a high note with his fourth win. Tiger will be taking his game to the Australian Masters starting on Thursday in Melbourne.

It's almost a certainty that these two will be going head to head a lot in 2010.

2009 HSBC World Golf Championship - Full photo galleries and recap

AP Photos / Andy Wong

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Golf in Spain

Spain is an ideal golfing destination due to the excellent weather and geographic diversity. There are a number of fantastic courses throughout the country and more continue to be developed as the popularity of golf grows there. Golf in Spain offers a tremendous variety including courses set under the 9000 foot Pyrenees as well as the consistent good weather of the southern coasts and islands.

One of the top golfing resorts to visit in Spain is the La Manga Las Lomas Village. It has been voted European golfing resort of the year many times, strongly in part to three top notch championship courses it consists of. The resort features the South, North, and West courses with the South being the premiere layout. The par 73 was redesigned by Arnold Palmer in the early 90s and frequently hosts prestigious regional and national events.

La Manga also features a golf academy which runs regular competitions that guests can enter. Once the golf is finished, the resort also has a casino for the gamblers and a nearby beach. It doesn't get much better than golf, gambling, and soaking up rays at the beach.

Read about the different golfing regions in Spain.

Friday, October 23, 2009 Open

Cool shot of Tom Lehman at the Open in Scottsdale, Arizona. (AP / Matt York)

Day One update and slideshow from the Open
Day Two update and slideshow from the Open

Friday, October 9, 2009

Day two pairings and tee times at the Presidents Cup

Ryo Ishikawa (AP Marcio Sanchez)

Friday tee times

Four-ball matches (best ball)

1:55 p.m. ET – Mickelson-Leonard (US) vs. Goosen-Scott

2:07 p.m. ET – Furyk-Kim (US) vs. Els-Weir

2:19 p.m. ET – Perry-O'Hair (US) vs. Ishikawa-Yang

2:31 p.m. ET – Glover-Cink (US) vs. Singh-Clark

2:43 p.m. ET – Johnson-Mahan (US) vs. Allenby-Villegas

2:55 p.m. ET – Woods-Stricker (US) vs. Ogilvy-Cabrera

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Day One Pairings

(AP / Eric Risberg)

Tiger looks ready to play and ready to stop answering questions.

Day One Pairings:


Anthony Kim / Phil Mickelson (USA) vs. Mike Weir / Tim Clark (International)


Hunter Mahan / Sean O'Hair (USA) vs. Adam Scott / Ernie Els (International)


Lucas Glover / Stewart Cink (USA) vs. Vijay Singh / Robert Allenby (International)


Kenny Perry / Zach Johnson (USA) vs. Angel Cabrera / Camilo Villegas (International)


Tiger Woods / Steve Stricker (USA) vs. Geoff Ogilvy / Ryo Ishikawa (International)


Jim Furyk / Justin Leonard (USA) vs. Y.E. Yang / Retief Goosen (International)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Questions abound at the Presidents Cup

There are many questions and great story lines for this years Presidents Cup.

Which captain style will work out better?
Laid back Fred Couples or more highly energized Greg Norman.

How will Adam Scott play?
He's had one of his worst years ever, he's been in the spotlight more for surfing and starlets, and was the most controversial selection on either team.

How will Ryo Ishikawa play?
At 18, he's the youngest to ever play in a Presidents Cup.

Will Michael Jordan help the U.S. team?
Jordan was named assistant captain, but so far has been getting more headlines for smoking too many cigars on the course.

Will Vijay look yippy with the putter?
How will the greens hold up after being damaged?

Will there be any controversial pairings or strategies?
Who will be the U.S. team ping pong champion?
Will Tiger smack Phil across the face with a ping pong paddle?
Will there be a blow out or will it come down to the singles matches Sunday?

How many players will Johnny Miller grill during the weekend?

AP Photo Credits
Norman and Couples - Jeff Chiu
Ryo Ishikawa - Eric Risberg
Adam Scott - Marcio Sanchez
Michael Jordan - Marcio Sanchez

Friday, October 2, 2009

Golf travel in South America

The 2016 Olympics are a long way off, but now that we know they will be held in Rio de Janeiro, it will be interesting to find out what course they'll be playing on.

Supposedly the top two courses in Rio are:

Gavea Golf and Country Club

Itanhanga Golf Club

As far as South America goes, the top golf destination is Argentina. Golf was introduced there around the turn of the century by the British. Not only are there several quality locations to play, there is the constant festivals, food, wine, and amazing night life. This amazingly diverse and often beautiful landscape features beaches and vast expanses of natural forests and mountains.

The top two golf locations in Argentina are The Jockey Club and San Andres Golf Club. The Jockey club features both the red and blue courses. Both courses opened in 1935 and were designed by Alistair Mackenzie, who designed many famous courses throughout his life.

The course requires a great deal of accuracy of the tee and features sculpted and contoured greens that challenge any golfer. Angel Cabrera, current Masters champion, won the Argentina Open in 2001 at the red course.

San Andres is the oldest club in Argentina, was founded in 1892, and was named in honor of St. Andrews, the home of golf.

The course was designed by one of the early pioneers in golf design, Mungo Park. The par 72 course is 6772 yards, short by modern day standards, but features a difficult test of golf. This course is where golf in Argentina began and is a must play for anyone traveling to the country.

With golf officially becoming an Olympic sport, South America has now been thrust into the limelight for the event. It will be interesting to see how much bigger the game grows and how many new golf travel destinations come available throughout the continent.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Around the golf world

Tiger Woods is the first billion dollar athlete. Wow! That was fast and he's only 33. It will be crazy to see how wealthy he will be when it's all said and done.

Former NFL great Jerry Rice is trying to turn pro and will be playing in a Nationwide event in 2010. I believe he won Dancing with Stars. Why not become a pro golfer as well?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sean O'Hair leads after Round 1 at Tour Championship

(AP Photo / Dave Martin)

Sean O'Hair shot 66 today to take a one stroke lead over Tiger, Padraig, and Cink. Obviously, with only 30 top players in the field, it will be a great tournament, but the early leaderboard is looking very intriguing heading into round two.

Full leaderboard

Round 1 Slideshow

Round 2 tee times

Mickelson seeks advice after snowman

Phil Mickelson had a tough time on the 14th hole today on his way to a three over par 73.

Approach shot into bunker.
Bunker shot over green.
Pitch shot over green back into original bunker.
Bunker shot left in bunker.
Bunker shot on green.

All in all, it equals an 8, otherwise known as the dreaded Snowman. Devastating for any golfer, especially one playing for 11.35 million.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fed Ex Point System Whacked Out

Although this year's point system has added a lot of drama and brought more players into the mix, it will surely be changed again.

Here is an excerpt from a article explaining a few scenarios involving Tiger which really show the system is not quite right.

Tiger Woods was jolted at the start of the playoffs to learn he could win all three playoff events, finish second at the Tour Championship and still not win the FedEx Cup.

Wednesday brought another scenario that only made him smile.

Given his five victories before the playoffs began, and a system of cumulative points until the Tour Championship, Woods could have skipped all three playoff events and still been the No. 3 seed at East Lake.

Then, all he would have had to do is win the Tour Championship.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was asked if he was aware that Woods could have stayed home the last month.

``No, and I'm glad he didn't,'' Finchem said. ``Tiger is pretty adept at this. Tiger's view was his best chance of winning was to play them all, and make sure he was the No. 1 seed. I think the No. 1 seed has an advantage this week. Tiger usually plays to have an advantage.''

Woods is not likely to ever miss the Deutsche Bank Championship, which benefits his foundation. He has a long history with the Western Golf Association, which runs the BMW Championship at Cog Hill, where Woods has won five times.

Even so, the idea that having a big regular season allows him to miss a playoff event raises questions about whether he'll be at The Barclays next year.

Definitely needs to be fixed for next year.

The Tour Championship tee times and pairings

(AP Photo / Michael Dwyer)

Come Sunday, someone is going to be 10 million dollars richer. Sorry ladies, it's not going to be the author of this blog. Most likely, it will be the guy above.

At least there will be some drama as all 30 players have a mathematical chance to win, although, odds are someone in the top five will take it down.

Tee times and pairings

Fed Ex standings

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Kerr to line up own shots - What a story!

In huge golf news, it's being reported that Kristie Kerr, the #5 LPGA player in the world, will now line up her own shots without the help of her caddy.

This is one of the most ridiculous aspects of golf anyway, and hopefully they make an official rule against allowing caddies to stand behind the player and help line them up.

These are world class players. Are they really not able to line themselves up? From 220 yards away, does a caddy say move 1 centimeter to your right and you will be perfect.

Nothing at all against Kerr and I'm glad she made this decision. Hopefully other players will follow her lead or this will be banned for good because it is absurd.

Nicklaus and Saunders at Q - School

Two very interesting names will attempt to make it to the PGA tour through Q - School this year.

Gary Nicklaus, the son of Jack, is now 40 years old and looking to make it back after losing his card in 2002. He has played in 100 tour events and has gone through Q - school several times.

Sam Saunders, the grandson of Arnold Palmer, has decided to leave Clemson a year early and attempt to make the tour.

Pre-qualifying events begin September 22-25 at The Golf Club of Dallas.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Million dollar hole in one video

Utah golfer Jason Hargett drained a nine iron on this 150 yard hole to win a million bucks at the Mark Eaton Golf Classic.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Back on Top

Tiger put on a sick performance at the BMW Championship, reminiscent of his dominating 2000 season. He was accurate off the tee, his irons were all over the pins, and his putter finally got hot. This was the best he's played all year, and his performance may have answered some of the critics questioning whether or not the "old Tiger" will ever be back. Tiger won the tournament at 19 under par by eights shots which included a course record 62 on Saturday.

He's now regained the lead in the Fed Ex Cup playoffs which will conclude at The Tour Championship in Atlanta in two weeks.

Fed Ex Cup Standings

Photo credit (Nam Huh /AP)

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Tiger Woods of Basketball

Before Tiger, Michael Jordan was far and away the most spectacular and clutch athlete on the planet. In honor of him being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame tonight, here is a video of a few of his top dunks.

Happy Birthday Arnold!

(One of the coolest golf photos ever featuring Arnold Palmer and Ben Hogan puffing away)

Arnold Palmer just turned 80 and is still promoting golf as much as ever. There have been a lot of articles written recently describing what a great influence he has been throughout the years.

Check out this Arnie section for a look back on his career highlights and stories.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Continue on with the club throwing theme

Top 100 teacher Charlie King presents how to throw your club.

Courtesy of Armchair Golf Blog.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Tiger tosses club

Look closely at the 3 second mark and you'll see the club go flying. The messed up part is that his caddy had to go after it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fight Cancer with Golf

A.J. Ali does a lot of work throughout the country by putting on various golf events for charities. Check out on the tee with AJ Ali to see how you can help fight cancer.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tiger wins Notah Begay Challenge

At the Notah Begay III Foundation Challenge, a skins game played for charity, Tiger Woods was the winner over Camilo Villegas, Mike Weir, and host Notah Begay. Woods won holes 15-17, and a total of $230,000.00 to overtake Villegas (200,000.00), Begay ($70,000.00) and Weir, who was shut out.

Begay, who is the only full-blooded Native American to play on the PGA Tour, started the foundation in 2005. It uses both golf and soccer to promote physical fitness and wellness among Native American youth, who are plagued by obesity and diabetes.

Woods and Begay were college roommates at Stanford, and Tiger was able to add another trophy to his collection by winning a piece of Pueblo Indian black pottery. Begay added a check of $750,000 for his foundation and was glad to have his friend attend the event.

“To have Tiger be a part of this is just a tremendous asset for the foundation and the event,” Begay said. “I think he enjoyed himself. He beat us, but I think we’ve kind of grown accustomed to that.”

Tiger, playing in the Barclays starting this Thursday, and who rarely plays in these type of events anymore, seemed more than happy to help his friend's foundation. “Today was incredible, to come here and bring awareness to what Notah is trying to do. It’s great to see what he’s doing, to put his heart, soul, and passion into something like this and bring this many people together to help them understand and educate the public. I’m just so proud of him as a friend. We’ve been through a lot together.”

photo by Kevin Rivoli /AP

Friday, August 21, 2009

Caddy for a cure

The caddy for a cure program allows for anyone to bid for the chance to become a caddy for a PGA touring professional. This program not only provides the opportunity to caddy for a pro during a practice round or pro-am, it more importantly helps raise money for charity.

Caddy for a cure directly supports the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund and the Wounded Warrior project, among others. Donations are also made to the PGA TOUR player’s charity of choice and to local charities picked by the PGA TOUR host sites. About 80 professional players have participated in the Caddy For A Cure program over the past six years, including Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples, Padraig Hamilton, Jim Furyk, Boo Weekley, Anthony Kim, Stewart Cink, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia, Zach Johnson, Davis Love III, Adam Scott, Vijay Singh and Camilo Villegas.

Currently, they are promoting the I'm tired of bogeys bracelet, which costs $10, and which $5 will go directly to the Caddy for a cure charities. This bracelet is one of many different types of "I'm tired of" bracelets that support many worldwide causes.

The “I’m Tired of” campaign was launched less than a year ago by brother and sister team, Dan Hoffman and Carrie Pollare, to fight against the world’s issues that we are all tired of, like animal cruelty, BSL (breed-specific legislation), discrimination, world hunger, global warming, cancer, diabetes and so many more. The fashionable bracelets are made from recycled tires and metals, creating a fun play on the word, tired, and cost just $10, so anyone can afford them. Then half the sale ($5) from each one is donated to charities the company is aligned with that support each cause.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tattoo Golf

Check out this unique new brand of golf attire and accessories at Tattoo Golf.

Ace Magnetics

Check out Ace Magnetics if you are interested in magnetic bracelets, rings, necklaces, and copper accessories. These are especially popular with many senior tour players, including Arnold Palmer.

Golf Essentials for Women

I recently met the owner of Golf Essentials for Women, Donna Craig. Her site has a variety of golf clothing and accessories for women. I won't begin to pretend that I know anything about women's clothing so you will have to check it out for yourself. You can also check out her blog here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Yang Wins!

That is certainly a headline no one would have expected at the beginning of the week as YE Yang was able to hold off Tiger Woods and win the 91st PGA Championship. I'm certainly shocked as is the rest of the golfing world because this is the first time Tiger has lost a major championship after holding the 54 hole lead.

In my opinion, Tiger lost because he got too conservative after the second round in which he had built a four stroke lead. He began aiming every iron at the middle of the green, even with wedges, and was content in making pars and moving along. The rest of the field was playing aggressively and there were many low scores in round three. It is easy to second guess Tiger after the fact, and I think he knows what he is doing, however, had he tried for a few more birdies on Saturday, he could have put the tournament completely away. This is the first time his conservative play has caught up with him and we shall see if he changes his strategy in future majors.

Either way, we have to give YE Yang his due, as he played steady down the stretch, and didn't fold to the "Tiger pressure" like most players. He had the great chip in for eagle at fourteen, and the ridiculous shot at eighteen to put the tournament away. This is a huge win for him and Korean golf.

Photo by Fred Vuich / SI

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Interview with Billy Kratzert and John Brywa

This week I had the chance to submit a few questions about the PGA tournament to Billy Kratzert, TNT golf analyst, and John Brywa, managing editor for

Here is the transcript:

Q: What were the top stories from Media Day?

John: Tiger Woods’ press conference is always a popular event here. That was basically the highlight of today’s conferences.

Q: How do you think this tournament is looking compared to some of the other majors this year in terms of hype, buzz, and attitude going in?

John: The one thing I’ve noticed is that it is absolutely incredible the number of people who are here – the fans who have been to the first few practice rounds. Actually, I was just out there a few seconds ago. We’re lucky, the driving range is right behind the media center so you can walk out of the media center and see the backs of the players on the driving range. It’s incredible – the number of people here. I know the fan interest here in Minnesota has always been great, but I think this is surpassing even what the tournament organizers expected. They are expecting huge crowds each day of the tournament.

As far as the players, this is the last major of the year and the tagline is “Glory’s last shot.” This is their last shot for 2009 to play well and hopefully capture a major. The excitement is here and you can really feel it. It’s going to be really interesting to see this thing unfold over the next couple of days.

Billy: The event is certainly going to be well-attended. It’s already been well-received by the people here in Minnesota. The last time they had a major championship was seven years ago and they’ve had a couple of U.S. Open championships. When you don’t go back to the same spot every year, you get the energy from the people coming out to the course. When you go to Augusta or the Open Championship or this tournament, everyone knows it and expects it. It gets people talking and that’s what we need right now.

Q: How is Hazeltine looking this week and can you give us a general description of the course and conditions?

Billy: Well it’s unusually hot right now and the golf course is not as bouncy and as fiery as you would think it would be. It is a long golf course, the longest in PGA Championship history, over 7,600 yards. They have the longest par-3 in PGA Championship history. With all that said, it is a big golf course. But a lot of the yardage, is in the par-5’s. They essentially become par-3’s because everyone’s laying up then they become a 50-80 yard par-3. In setting up the course, there’s a few different options especially on the par-5 7th, the tee box can be moved up a little bit. Give the guys a chance to go for that par-5 in two. And then the 14th hole, the par-4, it can be moved up and be a drivable par-4. There are a lot of doglegs here, for the longer hitter, one would think so but don’t be surprised if a guy like Jim Furyk or Steve Stricker shine this week.

Q: Can you talk about the course in general – the greens, roughs, and which holes will be critical?

Billy: The greens are running as quick as they can, given the undulations in the greens. A lot of the greens have mounding and many of them are turtle back greens, where it filters off each way. As far as the rough is concerned, it was topped off Sunday afternoon after a huge amount of rain. I don’t think they’re going to touch it again. In my opinion, the rough isn’t all that penal right now. It’s very playable. I think there is ample room off the tee. I don’t think that driving the ball extremely straight is going to be a huge factor. Which plays into a Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson or a Geoff Ogilvy.

The course is in great shape. You look at the holes that will make a huge impact or the exciting holes. The 16th hole is always exciting. That’s where Payne Stewart made the putt on Scott Simpson, and the last time we where here in 2002 the rains were so heavy they had to move the tee way down on the 16th hole just so it was playable. The 18th hole becomes very challenging as it’s been increased by almost 20 yards. The 15th hole is now a par 5 and 650 yards. The 13th is a par 3 and it plays just under 250 and the 3rd hole is a par 5 and it’s 633. There are three par 5 holes over 600 yards.

John: The 16th is a great hole. I was fortunate enough to play the course on media day back in June and then back here in July to ride along on the course with Rich Beem for a feature we were doing. The 16th hole is an amazingly beautiful hole and could be considered the signature hole here at Hazeltine. If you do not hit a perfect drive, you’re going to make a big number there. It’s a really tough hole, but if you hit a good drive you have a chance. The second shot with the water all around it and the marsh makes it a very challenging hole.

All of the par 3 holes are going to be deep. They are so long and difficult, so you’ve got to be able to hit it long, and not only long, but high. The par 3 holes are going to be very critical to this Championship. I don’t see the par 5 holes being as critical, because for 99% of the field they are going to be 3 shot holes. It’s a matter of hitting your drive in the fairway, getting a good second shot that sets up your third shot that allows you to go right in the pit. The 18th is a wonderful closing hole and it’s uphill. For shorter hitters, that might be a 3 shot hole. They might even play it that way because it is so long. It’ll be really interesting to see how this course is played out this week!

Q: How have the players been assessing the golf course so far?

John: Right now, the number one thing that everyone is talking about is the length. At 7,764 yards, it is the longest course in Major Championship history. The rough isn’t too bad, not as bad as it was at Oakland Hills last year, but still it is very penal and if you don’t drive the ball in the fairway on some of these holes, particularly the par 5 and long par 4 holes, you’re going to struggle to make par. Both the length and position of the course are fantastic. The players have been raving about that. But, the length of some of the holes has caught everyone’s attention. You’ve got a couple of par 5s over 600 yards, you’ve got three par 3 holes over 200 yards – one 248 and another 231 – so those are going to be especially challenging for these guys.

Q: What is your prediction for the winning score this week?

Billy: I think you’re looking at a score of 9 to 12. It all depends on the wind, which there isn’t much of right now. It’s very hot and humid, so the ball is going quite a long ways. The golf course has a lot of bunkers on it. I think there are 109 bunkers on this course. All of the rain on Saturday night actually washed out all the bunkers here so Jim Mickel, the greens superintendent here, did a great job getting the bunkers in place and the course ready to play for this championship.

John: The conditions are going to be perfect – the weather is going to be perfect for at least the first three days. There is a chance for some rain on Sunday and late afternoon showers on Friday and Saturday. Still, I think if you get a player who is playing great and hitting fairways, they can make some scores up here. I’m going to say 9 under par wins it.

Q: Other than Tiger, who are the top names on your radar for winning this week?

John: Obviously, number one, especially given his performances over the last two weeks, is Tiger Woods. It’s kind of like it’s Tiger Woods and everybody else. Some more big names that others are talking about – Vijay [Singh], Padraig Harrington, as we saw in his performance last week at Bridgestone, seems to have gotten his form back at the right time. He played really, really well except for the 16th hole last week and he has the experience with the three majors that he’s won. He’s always a possibility. And, the usual suspects like Jim Furyk. Those are my three guys, right there.

Billy: Jim Furyk or Steve Stricker or I would also look at Lee Westwood. His name keeps coming to mind. He’s never won a major championship, but he has the game. Look at the way he played the Open Championship. He’s out of the playoff by a shot and he bogeyed on the last 4 holes. Yes, had a birdie in there on the 71st hole, a par 5, but he should have a major championship on his resume already. He’s one guy we should take a good, hard look at. Or, maybe it’s a young guy - a [Camilo] Villegas, Sean O’Hair, or Anthony Kim.

Q: Do you think there will be a potential "dark horse" at the Championship this year? If so, who do you think it will be?

John: I can see it happening. Who that might be, well, that’s why they are called dark horses because no one knows who it’s going to be, but I’ve got a feeling about a couple. I think Brian Gay has played great this year with a couple of wins. It’ll be interesting to see how he does. A couple other names that are in my head, for no real particular reason, are Charles Howell III if he can drive it up the fairway I think has a good chance. I also like Paul Casey and I like Matt Kuchar for some reason. I don’t know why, but his name is sticking in my head.

Q: At 7,674 yards, Hazeltine is brutally long. In your opinion, do the short drivers with otherwise excellent games have a chance, or are they just too handicapped by the distance this week?

Billy: A lot of people think the longer player has the advantage. But given the fact that of the par 5 holes where a player like [Tiger] Woods or [Phil] Mickelson should capitalize, only one that is reachable – the 7th hole. The other three are not reachable so the long hitters are not going to have any more advantage on those. When you’re looking at a guy hitting with a 7-iron or a 5-iron, a Tim Clark or Brian Gay or Jim Furyk might be as affective with a 5-iron as the longer hitters are with a 7-iron. I’m not discounting the length of the course, but I’m not placing the shorter hitters off to the side.

Q: How do you assess Rich Beem's chances?

Billy: Where he fits into the equation is this is where he won his first and only championship, I think that plays a big part. I think he gets an energy and confidence boost once he steps on the property. What are his chances? I’d say they are very slim [laughs] especially given the fact that Tiger Woods and other highly-ranked guys are playing well at the same time. To win here again, it will take a bigger strike of lightening than what happened the first time.

Q: Billy, do you have any advice for handling first-tee nerves (and nerves in general)?

Billy: Everyone handles it differently. A lot of these sports psychologists today say athletes handle nerves with a routine. They tend to block out the fact that there’s extra people on the tee watching them tee off, and focus on their routines. The more that you can go to your routine, and just hit the shot you normally hit, the better off you will be. I think people get in trouble when they think, “Well, I just hope I can put it out there.” Think of your plan – if you want to hit a hook or a draw, and try to get the shot. If you hit it, fine, and if you don’t, it’s not a big deal. Never try to do anything from a negative to get a positive.

Q: Billy, if you were still playing, what would your game plan be this week?

Billy: I would really concentrate on distance control and, by that, I am referring to the par 5 holes that you can’t reach. Also, the par 3s that are over 200 yards. The 8th hole and 17th hole, they are in the 175, 180 range. Because the rough isn’t that penalizing from what I’ve seen, a lot of it would be distance control. The more times you can put it flag high or just underneath the hole, you’ll benefit from it.

Q: What about Ernie Els? He played well last weekend, was 8th at the Open, but hasn't done much else this year. Do you think he will win another major?

John: I think he can because at 40-years-old he’s hitting that point where it’s now or never. He’s getting up there, I still think he has the game. I think he’s got to overcome his putter, which is what has let him down. Particularly at the Open, he missed a couple of short putts that could have turned the tide for him. Whether he does it here or not remains to be seen. Personally, I would love to see him do it because I like Ernie a lot.

Billy: If Ernie Els was in contention early, I’m not sure if he could sustain it. He really hasn’t done anything as of late, and he’s gone through the swing change. I just don’t think that all of sudden Ernie is going to be able to turn it around. There’s a lot going on with Ernie and I don’t think his golf game is there right now. I’d give him a slim chance this week.

Q: What do you think of the chances of young players like Camilo Villegas and Rory McIlroy?

John: I think it’s only a matter of time before Villegas wins a major championship. He’s got loads and loads of talent, great charisma, and the fans love him. Where he can do it and on what type of course? I’m going to say Augusta National. I can really see him doing something at Augusta National. It’s a little more forgiving for swashbuckling players like he is. So that’s my pick – Augusta National.

As for Rory, I can see that happening very soon. Rory is an unbelievable talent for his age. He won a European event when he was 19-years-old. He seems un-phased coming out on this stage, which is totally different than anything young players have ever been exposed to before. Where could I see him winning? I think the best place, where he would have the most experience and where his game would be made for, would be the Open Championship. I like him at Augusta, too. I don’t know why. Here at Hazeltine – it’s possible. We’ll see. He definitely has the length. He’s one of the longest players on the tour, so it’s a matter of how all the breaks fall into place, which is true for ever player. You have to get the break to win any major championship.

Billy: Both are good players. Villegas has played well on several occasions this year. He’s young. I saw him at the championship this year, along with [Ryo] Ishikawa, I thought they both showed their rookie sides of it. They saw their mistakes and didn’t take advantage. I felt that they were playing by the seat of the pants. But, McIlroy is the real deal. He’s going to be a good player for some time. Fundamentally, mechanically, when it comes to the golf swing – he’s as good as it gets. He drives it relatively straight and long. He’s a nice young man. I think he’s a great putter, even at a young age. He’s so young that I would say early in his career, he’s off to a start we anticipated when we first saw him a couple of weeks. He has the length this week. To win a PGA championship, people need the breaks. That’s the unknown right now – who’s going to get the breaks.

Q: Phil Mickelson has had an interesting year both on and off the course. Last week, his play was up and down - is he ready for this last major?

John: A lot of folks here are actually picking him to win. He played so great at the U.S. Open. It was such an emotional return for him there, and of course he is going to have the same emotion here. I saw him warming up on the range, and the crowds were unbelievable – the support for him and how appreciative fans are to see him here. I think it’s all going to come down to what kind of start he gets off to this weekend. If he gets off to a strong start, he could be there. If not, I think with of all the emotion of what he’s going through could make it tough for him to come back. I think a good start is critical for his chances this week.

Q: John, what are your top goals for during the tournament this week?

John: Obviously, our goal, as it is for every tournament and major we do, is to provide the best coverage of the tournament that we can. We have a stable of world-class writers that will be providing daily stories and updates on

We are also really excited about some of the new features added this year. We have updated our design, and users will find when they log on to the site, our main story section now includes up to five stories in one slot. We now have the ability to play video right there on the homepage, which is very exciting for us. It’s going to be exciting for readers to stay on the homepage and play video right there. Our player operates exclusive videos that no one else will have, which is very important to us.

On top of video coverage, we have our PGA Championship Live, which is exclusive, streaming coverage of the tournament. We will have the simulcast streaming of TNT’s broadcast available right on our site. We also have our Marquee Group Following where we’ll be following one group in the morning and one in the afternoon. We will be following Tiger’s group with Rich Beem and Padraig Harrington both Thursday and Friday. One new feature we’ve added is a poll where we are asking users to tell us which other group they want us to cover with our Marquee Coverage, so we’ve got a choice between a few other threesomes so users can go onto our site and cast their vote. The group the fans vote for is the one we will be covering.

Then we’ve got coverage of the par 3 holes. We also have four different windows of coverage that will be on-demand, instructional and have other features from our video coverage. We’re really excited about everything we’re offering this week. I think our users are going to find a new experience and it’s going to be one unlike that they’ve found for coverage of any other major championship.

Special thanks to Matt at The 20th Hole, Neil at Armchair Golf Blog, Gayle at Golf Gal, and Gregg at Lefty Links for submitting questions for Billy and John to answer.