Monday, November 28, 2011

Betting Odds: Chevron World Challenge

Tiger Woods has won the Chevron World Challenge four times previously and is once again the betting odds favorite to win this week.

Notable player betting odds:

Tiger Woods: 11-4
Webb Simpson: 9-1
Nick Watney: 11-1
Hunter Mahan: 12-1
Jason Day: 14-1
Steve Stricker: 14-1
Jim Furyk: 14-1
Rickie Fowler: 14-1
Matt Kuchar: 16-1
Keegan Bradley: 18-1

Monty gives golf lessons in war-torn Afghanistan

Colin Montgomerie recently traveled to Kabul to provide golf lessons and equipment to both troops and children. He demonstrated shots on a firing range in Helmand and gave tips to kids who had never picked up a golf club.

"These kids, they were born into war and grew up in war and it's been very difficult," he said, adding he hoped that the Afghans might qualify a golf team for the 2016 Olympics, where golf will be played again. "It is great to promote the game here to encourage the Afghans to have a team there in 2016."

Mohammad Afzal Abdul, the golf pro at Kabul Golf Club, dubbed the most dangerous in the world, hopes Montgomerie will inspire new players in their country that has seen decades of occupation, civil war, Taliban rule, and NATO-led military campaign. 

"Maybe when Afghanistan's security is better, maybe more golfers will come," he said. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Strong field set for Chevron World Challenge

The Chevron World Challenge kicks off Thursday at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California. The tournament is hosted by Tiger Woods and features 18 of the world's best players, including nine members of the winning United States President's Cup team.

Players to watch:
  • Jim Furyk is coming off a perfect 5-0 record at the President's Cup
  • Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland are coming in off their win at the World Cup of Golf
  • PGA Champion Keegan Bradley will be looking to cap off his stellar rookie season with another win
  • Tiger Woods is looking for his first win in over two years

USA wins World Cup of Golf

The United States team of Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland defeated 27 other countries, including favorites Rory McILroy and Graeme McDowell of Ireland, to win the Omega Mission Hills World Cup.

"You think of all the sporting events, and you think of all the teams that become world champions, and in golf there are not that many opportunities to be world champions," Kuchar said. "So to represent the United States of America and become world champions just feels great."

The event featured two days of fourball (best ball) and two days of foursomes (alternate shot), which is the same format used in the Ryder Cup and President's Cup.

The team shot a final round 67 in alternate shot format to win by two strokes over England and Germany, and three shots of ahead of Ireland.

On Saturday we really clicked together and played a great round and when Matt got up-and-down at the last that gave us the momentum into today's final round," Woodland said. "So we came out today to birdie the first two holes and that really got us going."

With it being a Ryder Cup year in 2012, Kuchar and Woodland would be a strong potential pairing for the United States assuming both players make the team. 

The tandem became the first American team to win the cup since Tiger Woods and David Duval did so in 2000.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tiger brings the stinger back to arsenal

When Tiger Woods was running away with tournament after tournament, he tended to rely on a patented shot dubbed the "stinger".

The stinger is typically used when teeing off on par-4 holes, and is used for accuracy and positioning the ball for the approach shot.

He hits it somewhat like a knockdown shot, usually with a 2 or 3-iron with the ball positioned a bit back in the stance and with an abbreviated follow through.

It's an especially helpful shot on major championship venues or courses that tend to be hard and fast.

Woods began using the shot with his "Harmon swing" but was unable to pull it off towards the end of his time with the "Haney swing".

Now progressing with his swing changes into the "Foley swing", the shot was on full display at the President's Cup last week. On almost every par-4, Woods hit a low iron, made his stinger swing, and placed the ball down almost every fairway.

Woods biggest weakness over the years has been accuracy off the tee, especially with the driver. If he's able to continue progressing with his new swing, the "stinger" is going to be a huge weapon for him moving forward.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

Royal Melbourne creates day two carnage at President's Cup

"It's carnage on a golf course like this today,'' said Adam Scott.

"It was not much fun out there probably,'' U.S. captain Fred Couples said. "It was brutal. The golf course did not lend itself to any birdies. These guys played great.''

"This was awesome. It was awesome,'' Mickelson said. "We'll never see something like this in an every-day golf course. We'll never see that. We rarely see it in a major."

"The course gets progressively harder as you play because it dries out and it dries out and it dries out, said Geoff Ogilvy. "It's just unbelievable how short of clubs you have to hit downwind. You catch yourself thinking, there's just no way from 165 yards I can hit sand iron, but it's the only sensible club to hit, because anything more is going to go in the back. It's really hard to get that into your head.''

"Just trying to hit the greens, that was s heck of an accomplishment," Woods said. "Wedges weren't holding, balls were oscillating on the greens, you've got to play the wind on putts. It was a tough day."

"I've played the course many, many times," said Ernie Els.  "And this is probably the fastest."

"On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give it an 11 today,” Norman said about the conditions.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

United States in good position after day one at President's Cup

After day one, the United States leads 4-2 and the captains have made their selections for day two matches. 

Gentlemen, we'll just get some quick comments on how things went for each of you. Captain Couples, we'll have you go first and then Greg, and then some questions about today and tomorrow's pairings.

FRED COUPLES: Well, obviously, point wise, we are more excited than we were an hour and a half before the day ended. But that's happened before, and our guys fought hard. Like Greg, we had one easy match and we had two semi lopsided matches. But really, the end of the day, it was Billy Haas and Nick Watney getting a half a point from Schwartzel and Ogilvy. It was an unbelievable match. And then as you saw at the end, Dustin Johnson made a very nice putt to get a half a point. You know, 3 1/2 2 1/2 is great. Obviously 4 2, we are excited about that. 

GREG NORMAN: At the opposite end of the spectrum, we are disappointed in the 2 4 result. My guys felt like they let a few matches slip away, no question about it. But they all understand, it's the game of golf. It does happen. Their heads are really held high. They are not worried about the next three days going forward. They are actually looking forward to it. They all feel like they are playing extremely good golf. They know the weather conditions are going to change a little bit; at adaptation to the golf course and the conditions coming forth over the next three days are going to be different than what it was today. You know, we didn't get the job done at the end of the day. It's unfortunate for us we are behind, but we believe we can no doubt catch up and probably catch up in our belief tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Custom fit clubs for Wounded Warriors

Golfsmith, the largest golf retailer in the United States, has recently spearheaded a donation campaign along side the Wounded Warriors project. This has helped to get injured veterans fitted with custom golf clubs so they can get back out on the course and improve their games.

Tiger skipping Torrey Pines to play in Abu Dhabi

Tiger Woods has signed on to play the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in the Middle East January 26-29. He will join the top two ranked players in the world, Luke Donald and Rory McILroy. How about pairing those three together?

"I've always enjoyed playing in HSBC events around the world, so I have been interested in including the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in my schedule for some time."

The field will also feature other tops stars including Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Charl Schwartzel, Jason Day, and K.J. Choi. 

"The giants of golf are coming to Abu Dhabi," said Faisal Al Sheikh, events manager, ADTA. "Traditionally, we have prioritized depth of field at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, and that has not changed for our seventh year. It is safe to say we are amassing the finest field to ever contest a Middle East tournament."  

Woods will be out of his usual stop during that time frame, the PGA event at Torry Pines, a course he has won on eight times previously. 

President's Cup going to South Korea in 2015

K.J Choi
The President's Cup will be held in South Korea for the first time starting in 2015. It has not yet been determined which course will host the biennial event featuring the United States vs. the Internationals.

"The growth of the game in Asia is well documented, and the fact that we have three South Korean players on the International Presidents Cup team this year illustrates the strength of golf in that country, which is only going to get stronger in the next four years," said Tim Finchem, PGA Tour commissioner.

K.J. Choi, K.T. Kim, and Y.E. Yang are the three Asian members on the current International team. "A lot of my peers, a lot of younger generation Korean golfers, are also eyeing to increase their world rankings, get better and hopefully have a few more Koreans on the International team by 2015," Kim said.

"With the Presidents Cup coming into Korea and with a lot of Asian players growing up, it's going to be another endeavor for the younger generation to build upon what we opened up."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

President's Cup opening foursomes matches all set

The opening foursomes matches are set to go. Fortunately, Tiger Woods and Adam Scott will be playing against each other so hopefully this ridiculous story will go away after the match.

1. Bubba Watson / Webb Simpson vs. Ernie Els / Ryo Ishikawa

2. Bill Haas / Nick Watney vs. Charl Schwartzel / Geoff Ogilvy

3. Dustin Johnson / Matt Kuchar vs. Jason Day / Aaron Baddely

4. Phil Mickelson / Jim Furyk vs. Robert Allenby / Retief Goosen

5. David Toms / Hunter Mahan vs. K.T. Kim / Y.E. Yang

6. Tiger Woods / Steve Stricker vs. Adam Scott / K.J Choi

Players discuss Royal Melbourne

Q. Tiger, can you talk a little about the golf course and how you like it?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's a different routing than what we played in '98. Even though they got new grass on the fairways, it's still playing fairly week. The greens are very quick. Probably more firm than they are quick. And there's definitely a lot of run-out on the greens, and we have to be paying attention to that quite a bit this week.

Q. It looks like on paper the American Team is a little longer, the course is not very long out there, there's a lot of drivable par 4s, but is that an advantage for you guys?
PHIL MICKELSON: The par 4s may be reachable but they are really not drivable.
It's more important to set up your approach shot, get the correct angle, given that the ball won't stop as quickly, angles are much more important this week, much like a British Open where you want to have the ability to land the ball 30, 40, 50 feet short and let it release back to the hole.So getting the ball actually on the surface of holes that are reachable is not really feasible or probable I would say out here. Creating better angles and shorter shots here is probably more important than trying to get it on.

Q. What do you think about the course so far?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, it's a great course. Kind of reminds me of a British Open style course, but also reminds me of Metropolitan when we were back here in 2002. So it has a great look to it. The course is in great shape. It's nice to be here. Can't say anything negative about the course. It's very nice. It's very fair. I imagine when the wind, if the wind were to get up and blow, it's going to be very difficult too. It's tough to get the balls close to the pin. It's really firm. The greens are really firm, so it's tough to judge it on the greens. Overall, it's in great shape and it's a great layout.

Q. I saw one hole out there on the 10th and the Americans came through and they were all on the high side of the hole and the Internationals came through and they were under the hole. As the local are you telling the boys to leave the ball under the hole? Is that a fair observation?
ADAM SCOTT: Well, you can try and leave it under the hole out here. It's not that easy on a lot of them. It's very, very firm and the fact is, you're just not going to be able to play them under the hole all week. You can get punished for trying to be too cute and leaving it under the hole. Sometimes you're just going to have to hit your shot and accept that you're going to have a fast putt. There is certainly a lot to take in on this golf course, and you get to play it for two days, and you there's a chance that some of our team, with a little more experience here, have a little better understanding of how to get it around the golf course.

Q. How much pride do you and your fellow Aussies and everyone in this country take in this golf course?
GEOFF OGILVY: Yeah, that's a good question. I think it's a very -- there is a lot of pride in this golf course. It's clearly our best course. It's probably clearly our best course. It's got probably as rich a history in professional golf tournaments as any golf course in the world, really, outside of Augusta and St. Andrews. It's had golf tournaments for as long as I can remember, and they were happening a long time before I can remember. All the greats have played here. I mean, the golf course is going to be a really big part of the story this week, and I think it should be. Alister MacKenzie was here, and it's a stunning place. I hope player is going around today on their first hit or yesterday going, wow, I wish we could play this sort of course more often. I think it's pretty special.

Q. Is the course too different for that to be what to do now, or was that experience what you expect here?
ERNIE ELS: No, it's great. I know for a fact that winning on a serpent course when it's as tough as this golf course it's always nice to have a little bit of experience on it. So I think our team, if we have any advantage, it's the fact that a lot of our players have played this golf course, and a lot of the guys have won here and done well, so we know how to play it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Captains provide quick notes on each of their players

United States captain Fred Couples provides quick quotes on each of his players such as:

On Bubba Watson: "Hits it 100 miles which I always like. Great putter. Someone you can pair up with a lot of guys. A great player."

International captain Greg Norman provides quick quotes on each of his players such as:

On Geoff Ogilvy: "Probably one of the toughest head to head guys you'll ever go up against."

Mickelson: Tiger comeback "inevitable"

Phil Mickelson had some good things to say about the impending and inevitable comeback of Tiger Woods.

"I've played with him a couple times throughout the year, watched him hit it, and you can tell his swing speed has come back."

"So I don't know when it will all click and he'll be back to his normal self but I feel like it's inevitable that he will get back there because he keeps getting better and better.

Norman: "Cut out an American's heart"

International team captain Norman is getting fired up for the President's Cup. He wants his players to set friendship aside for the week and be prepared "to cut out an American rival's heart and present it to him on the 18th hole." Sounds like Braveheart to me.

"I believe that in an individual sport, when you walked on to the first tee or into the arena, everybody was your enemy," Norman said. "I learned very early on that friendships are great. But it is hard to keep a close friendship if you are both in the top five in the world."

Norman has said he plans to be more assertive as captain this year and won't hesitate to put Adam Scott in a match vs. Tiger Woods despite the recent caddie controversy. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

President's Cup Breakdown

  • The United States team vs. The International team
  • 2011 Event will be held in Royal Melbourne, Australia
  • Event held every two years beginning in 1994 (except for changes due to 9/11)
  • The United States has won six times
  • The Internationals have won once (last time event was held in Royal Melbourne)
  • The event ended in a tie in 2003 in South Africa
  • Match play event 
  • Doubles matches played Thursday, Friday, Saturday in foursomes and fourball
  • Singles matches played Sunday
  • Each match worth one point

Royal Melbourne Golf Club
(Melbourne, Australia)

United States Fred Couples
Australia Greg Norman
Harding Park Golf Club
(San Francisco, California)
United States 19½ 14½ International United States Fred Couples
Australia Greg Norman
Royal Montreal Golf Club
(L'Île-Bizard, Quebec, Canada)
United States 19½ 14½ International United States Jack Nicklaus
South Africa Gary Player
Robert Trent Jones Golf Club
(Gainesville, Virginia)
United States 18½ 15½ International United States Jack Nicklaus
South Africa Gary Player
Fancourt Hotel and Country Club Estate
(George, Western Cape, South Africa)
Tied 17 17 Tied United States Jack Nicklaus
South Africa Gary Player
Robert Trent Jones Golf Club
(Gainesville, Virginia)
United States 21½ 10½ International United States Ken Venturi
Australia Peter Thomson
Royal Melbourne Golf Club
(Melbourne, Australia)
International 20½ 11½ United States United States Jack Nicklaus
Australia Peter Thomson
Robert Trent Jones Golf Club
(Gainesville, Virginia)
United States 16½ 15½ International United States Arnold Palmer
Australia Peter Thomson
Robert Trent Jones Golf Club
(Gainesville, Virginia)
United States 20 12 International United States Hale Irwin
Australia David Graham

There have been three perfect performances in President Cup history:
Mark O' Meara 5-0 (1996)
Shigeki Maruyama 5-0 (1998)
Tiger Woods 5-0 (2009)

Woods on the upswing with third place finish in Australia

Tiger Woods lipped out four birdie putts during round one. He shot a third round 75 in which he didn't make a single putt. On Sunday, he hit two poor drives which led to bogeys on holes he would typically birdie. And he still finished in third place, two shots behind winner Greg Chalmers.

"Two holes on the back nine today, and I putted awful yesterday, or I would have been right there," Woods said after his last round.

It wasn't the result he was looking for, but there were a lot of positive signs that Woods is on his way back despite what of his many critics have been saying.

With three out of four rounds in the 60s, his iron play, short game, and putting looking great with the exception of the third round. The big problem was the wild driver, costing him bogeys because he was so far out of position. If he can get the driver under control, look out.

Anyway you look at it, this tournament was a step in the right direction and his comeback appears inevitable.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tiger Woods tops leaderboard after second round 67 at Australian Open

Tiger Woods made five birdies on his opening nine holes and finished with a 5-under 67 to reach the top of the leaderboard at the Australian Open. His game appears sharp, his swing back on rhythm, and his short game seems to be rounding into old form. Woods is looking to win his first tournament since the 2009 Australian Masters and he's off to a great start.

Mickelson going into Golf Hall of Fame

Phil Mickelson will be the next member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.

He's won 39 career tournaments including three Masters and one PGA Championship. Mickelson is playing in the Singapore Open this week and the President's Cup in Australia next week.  

Q. Besides all the achievements and this landmark, as well, becoming a Hall of Famer, if you could give us a bit of perspective, what it means for a professional golfer to be part of this elite company, and also, does it make you feel old?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, the great thing about golf is that we're able to play for a lifetime. We're able to compete for a lifetime. What the PGA Tour has done, and much thanks to Commissioner Finchem by creating such a strong Champions Tour, it allows players to compete well into their 60s. So golf has become kind of a lifelong career, where other sports it's not. Other sports it's more of a finite timeline. So I guess it might be a little unique or a little bit different. I don't want to say that I feel old because I don't feel it. I feel like I've got a lot of great golf ahead of me, and I feel terrific and have been playing well. The scores didn't reflect it today, but it's close, and I just feel like I can take that knowledge from the last 20 years and apply it to my game and hopefully continue to add to the accomplishments that have already gotten me into the Hall.

Q. I'm curious, you're in the Hall of Fame now, but what's left? What important goals do you still want to accomplish before you retire?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I still want to win a number of golf tournaments. I'd like to get to that magical number of 50 that only a few guys have gotten to as far as total tournaments, but also I think that finally getting a U.S. Open would mean a lot to me as well as a British Open, which would complete the career slam. I came very close last year at Royal St. George's to getting that British. I've had five seconds in the U.S. Open; I've been very close. And I'm going to try to take that knowledge I've gained over the years that have led to those good performances and see if I can get over the hump and win those. I think that would be two special monumental feats for me to accomplish.