Monday, May 31, 2010

The Memorial: Can Tiger defend?

At the 2009 Memorial Tournament, Tiger Woods was firing on all cylinders on his way to winning the championship.

He shot a final round 65 which included birdies at the 17th and 18th holes to win by one shot.

"I don't even know how to describe it", said Michael Letzig, Woods playing partner on Sunday. "It was the best golf I'd ever seen."

The win gave him his fourth title at the Memorial and 67th career victory. One aspect of his game that really stood out that week was his driving, as he only missed five fairways the entire week.

Fast forward to 2010. Woods comes into this year's tournament with a lot of uncertainty. In his last two events, he missed the cut at Quail Hollow and withdrew from the Players Championship with a neck injury.

For his standards, his game has been a disaster and he's been unable to keep the ball in play. He's been very wild off the tee, missing both left and right. His short game, both chipping and putting, have been a little off, and his mental game is not nearly as sharp as it has been in the past.

This will be the first tournament Woods has played since parting ways with long-time swing coach Hank Haney in early May.

Either way, this will be a very interesting week for Woods and for the golf world to watch. On Wednesday, Woods will play in a skins game, which he also won last year, with Nicklaus, Mickelson, Mcllroy, and six other top players.

This will be a huge week for Woods for several reasons. First, to see if his game has improved at all from his past two outings, to see how his neck injury will react, to see if he can defend the title, and most importantly to gauge his game for the upcoming U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

AP photo / Chris O'Meara

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pavin needs "brain scan"

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin recently stated that Tiger Woods would not automatically make the 2010 team.

"I'm not going to treat Tiger any different than any other player," Pavin told Reuters. "He's certainly not going to be an automatic pick."

Hmmmm. Interesting strategy.

"He's just going to be treated like everyone else. I'd love to have him on the team but I want him to be playing well."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Golf in Arizona

Arizona golf is one of the top destinations in America for a golf vacation. It features many championship courses that can be played in the arid desert plains and at foothills of the mountain ranges, providing you with both great golf and excellent views.

Top hot spots providing great courses, resorts, and nightlife include Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tucson.

Phoenix golf features the Adobe course, one of the oldest in the state. Nick Faldo, golf's favorite sir, has designed a course at the Wildfire Golf Club. The Raven Course at South Mountain features over 5000 pine trees, making it a very different course than you'd expect in the desert.

Scottsdale golf features some of the top rated courses in the United States including Pinnacle, Grayhawk, Boulders, as well as Troon North Golf Club's Monument.

The 18-hole Monument at Troon is a semi-private golf course that opened in 1990. Designed by Jay Morrish and Tom Weiskopf, Monument at Troon North Golf Club measures 7028 yards from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 147 and a 73.3 USGA rating. The course features 4 sets of tees for different skill levels.

Tucson golf features several courses designed by famous golfers and architects. Jack Nicklaus designed the course at La Paloma, Arnold Palmer at Starr Pass, and Tom Fazio at Ventana Canyon.

There is no doubt Arizona would be a great spot for a golf vacation with the variety of courses to choose from as well as the scenery.

Obviously, the weather is top notch for a golf trip because it's almost always sunny and rarely rains. I've never personally played in Arizona but I have played in Vegas which has a similar climate. If you play in mid-summer, I'd recommend teeing it up in the morning or the evening because it can get insanely hot at the desert courses.

All Golf travel:

Golf at Pebble Beach
Golf in Vegas
Golf in Scotland
Golf in Panama
Golf in Sicily
Golf in England
Golf in South America
Golf in Spain
Golf in Spain 2
Golf in Portugal

Monday, May 17, 2010

Straight down the Middle

I recently received a copy of STRAIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE from author Josh Karp.

In his new book, Karp tells the story of his journey to improve his golf game, as well as his overall life, through meetings with various experts in zen, meditation, and mental training.

Karp traveled around the United States as well as Scotland to meet with a wide range of people, including golf instructors, a sensei, a rabbi, and an assortment of different zen and meditation experts to find out the keys to gaining inner peace.

Along the way he experiences many ups and downs with his golf game while playing with an array of different characters. He chronicles it all in an amusing way, and describes in detail the new methods and techniques he's been taught, although at times he can't believe he's going through with it (such as massaging a dude).

This is an entertaining book for golfers, especially someone looking for ways to improve their mental game. Karp has put himself through one big experiment in order to find the best ways to lower his score and relax while playing.

This book won't provide you any boring swing tips. All in all, it will give you an interesting story of a golfer searching for his highest playing potential by improving his mental game.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Genius of the week

This genius gets tasered for being drunk, belligerent, and heckling players at The Players Championship.

The neck the latest obstacle to Wood's success

"Setting up over the ball is fine, but once I start making the motion, it's downhill from there," Woods said.

If anyone out there has ever had a bad neck or back, you know it's impossible to swing properly and the pain is terrible.

The upcoming MRI will most likely dictate what Woods does with the rest of the year.

If the injury turns out to be something very serious, he'll most likely have to shut it down all year.

If the injury is manageable, I have to imagine he'll at least play the year's three remaining majors and then shut it down if there's still a problem. It will take something very serious to keep him away from Pebble, St. Andrews, and Whistling Straights.

1 for 205

Congratulations to Tim Clark for earning his first PGA Tour win in 205 tries. Shooting 66/67 on the weekend, he earned 1.71 million for the victory.

Considered the "5th major", the Players features the deepest field all year and Clark came through.

"I did all I could there," said Clark. "That's as good as I could have played."

Friday, May 7, 2010

Miller provides opinion on Tiger's swing and coach

Never short on words, NBC golf analyst Johnny Miller spoke out Wednesday and said Tiger Woods should change his swing and quit working with coach Hank Haney.

"It might be a little harsh, but I really believe he needs to, every night, watch the U.S. Open in the year 2000 at Pebble and just copy that swing and forget the Haney stuff," Miller said. "I mean, that was the best golf anybody has ever played in history."

"That's something he can copy, the tempo, the position at the top of the backswing, the follow-through position. "

"He needs a new, fresh, either teacher or just go back to what is natural to his game. What he is working on now, I believe is, no disrespect for Hank Haney, but it is not working. And sometimes when it is not working, sometimes you have to get off the fork in the road and get back to what brung you there and what won all these championships for him."

Miller does make a good point that Tiger did play the best golf in history when he won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach by 15 strokes in 2000, when he was coached by Butch Harmon.

However, it's a little early to blame everything on Hank Haney and his teaching methods. Tiger has won six major championships while under the eye of Haney.

After missing the cut last year at the British Open, Woods went 1st, 1st, 2nd, T2nd, T11th, 1st, and 2nd in consecutive tournaments. He then went 5-0 during the Presidents Cup, finished 6th at HSBC in China, and won the Australian Masters.

He then went through the scandal, returned after 144 days, and finished fourth in the Masters.

Woods then misses one cut and Miller rants about him needing to get rid of Haney.

After hearing the comments made by Miller, Haney responded to the golf channel.

“The facts are what they are. I didn’t start in 2001. I started in 2004. In the last 2½ years, Tiger has won 44% of his tournaments and finished Top 3 in 61%. In the 2½ years before I started working with him, he won 24% and finished Top 3 in 43%.”

Woods got off to a decent start Thursday at The Players Championship, shooting an opening round 70, four shots off the lead.

It would be nice to see him win this week, and then dedicate the win to Johnny Miller in his post-round interview.

Woods photo - AP / Wilfredo Lee

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Can Lefty overtake Tiger for #1?

With a win this week at The Players Championship, Mickelson can take over the number one spot in the world provided Tiger finishes out of the top five.

Obviously, coming off a win at the Masters, and a runner-up finish at Quail Hollow, which he would have won had Rory Mcllroy not gone ballistic with a 62, he's playing extremely well. He also won the Players in 2007. All signs point to him having a strong week, especially with the number one ranking on the line.

As for Tiger, his full swing is in shambles and it will be very interesting to see what type of game he brings to the table this week. If ever there were a time for Woods to have such immense troubles with his game, it's obviously now.

Although he's the greatest to ever play, anyone that deals with the biggest sex scandal ever, mistresses coming out of the woodwork left and right, divorce, family problems, paparazzi, helicopters, airplanes stringing messages, hecklers, and every television show, article, or blog post grilling him, it has to be a little hard to focus.

We'll see what happens this week. Should be interesting.

Mickelson photo - AP / Gerry Broome

Monday, May 3, 2010

58 and 62 = Ridiculous

Lets start with Rory Mcllroy. At age 20, he's been called the next Tiger but hasn't been playing great as of late....until Saturday at Quail Hollow. After making the cut on the number at plus one, he shot 16 under on the weekend to win by four shots over Masters champion Phil Mickelson.

He shot 66 / 62 on the weekend with a final round back nine of 30 which included six straight threes to end the round. He made a sick eagle at 15, stuck a seven iron from the fairway bunker to five feet on 16 to make birdie, and then nearly made a 50 footer on the very difficult par-3 17th. At 18, to top it all off, he drained a 40 footer (picture above) to finish in style.

Supposedly, Mcllroy as been working with Bob Rotella on the mental game and how to close out tournaments. I'd say it worked. I'd say I might actually have to read one of Rotella's books and see what the keys are.

It will be interesting to see how he does this week at the Players.

Ryo Ishikawa, age 18, and another next Tiger, shot a 58 to set a record for lowest score on a major tour. He made 12 birdies and no bogeys to win The Crowns in Japan.

He broke the previous Japan Tour record of 59 held by Masahiro Kuramoto. As for the PGA Tour, David Duval, Chip Beck, and Al Geiberger have each shot 59. Annika Soremstam holds the LPGA record with a 59 while Shigeki Maruyama shot a 13 under par 58 in the 2000 U.S. Open qualifier.

It's not quite yet the changing of the guard in professional golf, but with Mcllroy, Ishikawa, AK, and Fowler playing well, the time is getting closer.

We'll see how long it takes Tiger to get his act together again and fend off these guys.

Mcllroy photo / AP - Gerry Broome
Ishikawa photo / AP - Kyodo News