Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Golf Headlines For 2009.

Anyone and everyone is rehashing the year of golf in 2008. Lists and top ten moments are as affordable as GM stock. You don't have to be Nostradamus to peek into the past. Predictions are where it's at. Average Golfer reveals 2009's biggest headlines, right here, right now.

  • Wie Wins a Tournament - I don't know which one, but a refocused Michelle will win at least one. Too much game not to break in her finally legitimate pro career in proper fashion.
  • Monty Hatches Senior Women's Tour - In full Mrs. Doubtfire regalia, Colin Montgomerie forms a senior women's golf tour announcing, "This is where I've really belonged all along".
  • Daly Makes a Cut - After hightailing it to the European Tour, John Daly will make at least one cut while serving his 6 month PGA suspension for being an idiot. Take it to the bank.
  • Tiger Woods Wins Another Major - Best bet, the Masters or the US Open at Bethpage Black. Expect Woods to come back stronger than Boo Weekly's drawl. Or is that drool?
  • Finchem Elected International Czar of Golf - Or Tsar if you prefer. The current PGA commish has the only tour with sponsors and purses close to 2008 levels. Expect him to further pursue golf in the Olympics, but with the caveat that each country only have one player.
  • Titleist Trumps Callaway With Square Ball - Whouda' thunk? Rather than contest the ruling on the ProV1, Titleist's R&D department develops a smooth sailing square ball that stops better on greens.
  • Azinger Regains Captaincy in Coup - Stating it's "best for the nation", Zinger wrests the Ryder Cup captaincy from Corey Pavin in a bloodless and swift move. No one seems to have a problem with the act, so it stays.
  • Annika Returns - After conceiving and giving birth in a record number of strokes, Annika Sorenstam declares her "family phase" accomplished and returns to the LPGA with a stroller.
  • Weekly Quits Golf - Citing a need for new challenges, Boo Weekly retires from professional golf and forms the WWPST, the World Wide Possum Shooting Tour. He promptly captures their and his first major.
  • Sergio Forms Support Group - Recognizing a need on tour for an outlet for the downtrodden, unfairly screwed, and just generally unlucky, Sergio Garcia heads a traveling support group that meets weekly in a tour sponsored RV.
  • Mickelson Declares Fitness Unhealthy - Longing for a return to his form of yore, Phil Mickelson admits that his foray into fitness was just plain dumb. Phil dismisses 5 trainers and replaces them all with swing coaches.
There you have it. A snoop into the 2009 golf headlines that will be all the buzz in the next year. I know, and you're welcome.

Til' next,

Happiest Average Golfer Wishes For 2009 !

Monday, December 29, 2008

How Did Average Golfer Miss This One?

Lavatory Links

Forgive me for missing this little item before Christmas, although you could always get the jump on next year's shopping. "Potty Putter", brought to you by the folks at Golf'un. I reckon when you consider how much bathroom time is wasted reading game improvement articles, this baby provides some real practice. Let the puns begin......

My favorite part........"For added fun......... The Golfer's Toilet Roll". Sure, let's maximize the fun factor in the old throne room. I wonder how many sheets you have to go through before it repeats itself?

Til' next,

PS - Is it just me or is that Ian Poulter in the ad photo?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

ADT Golf Skills Challenge Fizzles Against N.F.L.

I tried, I really tried to watch some of the 2008 ADT Golf Skills Challenge to see if it stirred any interest at all. Nope. The unfortunate Stupid Season event was thrown up against meaningful, last week of the NFL season games with playoff implications. At 4 PM in my neck of the woods was aired Jets/Dolphins, and Cowboys/Eagles. Watching the Cowboys get trounced was still better than anything the golf thing could put up.

They messed with the format this year by pairing players with caddies. Well, sort of. Fred Couples and his long time looper Joe LaCava. Greg Norman and his progeny Gregory. (I had hoped Norman would choose Chris Evert). Peter Jacobsen and the infamous Fluff Cowan. Rocco Mediate and his usual, Matthew Achatz. I can't even begin to explain that the caddies had caddies. Trust me, they did. To give you an idea how contrived this spectacle was, keep in mind that Achatz won three of the four "challenges" to position he and Mediate in the final.

In the half hour or so of coverage I watched it seemed like the kind of thing my buddies and I do after a round when there's still a score to settle. Chipping, putting, trouble shot, and approach shot contests are a steady theme in our golf. Fun to do, but observing it is like watching dust settle. The only major difference is that we play for dollars or better yet, beers. They play for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Hey, it is the same. Pocket change for us, pocket change for them.

I must give this atrocity the little bit of credit it deserves though. In the final "approach shot" challenge, from about 110 yards, to decide it all, the younger Norman stuck his shot to one inch. Mediate had five shots to better it, meaning hole it. His final attempt landed a little long and backed up slowly to catch a piece of the cup. It just as easily could have holed for an incredible win. I'm getting excited just recalling it.

Waiting for Jan. 9, 2009. 2009 PGA Tour schedule.

*Oops, almost forget, Normans won.

Til' next,

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas From Average Golfer

“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."

Luke 2:11

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Average Golfer Season Officially Over.

Try as I might, I couldn't extend the golf season much past this in these brutal climes. I suppose being just 20 miles south of the Canadian border had something to do with it. Strangely there have been years when we played in December. The "just right" arrangement of the planets has yielded some 50+ degree temperatures in the past. Not this year. Highs in the single digits have mothballed my clubs for the next 3-4 months. I can't complain though. I spoke to my youngest son, who lives in Bozeman, MT. He had three times as much snow and it was -29 F. That's proverbial brass bra cold.

Lift, Shovel, and Place Rules In Effect Until Further Notice !

Chipping with foam balls doesn't quite have the same allure. Of course it will seem a tad more attractive in March when winter starts to wane. Then the unexpected/predictable April snow dump will discourage us for a few weeks until...........Viola! Spring rises again.

Throw another log on the fire and find the spare pair of long johns.

Til' next,

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Vijay Singh Takes Tiger's Tourney

Vijay Singh stood alone, as the contenders imploded on the back nine, to take the Chevron World Challenge, hosted by, but minus Tiger Woods. Singh sniffed the 1.35 million dollar winner's check and shot a smooth 67 to finish at -11. Anthony Kim had the lead after birdieing the 13th hole, but two double bogeys down the stretch did him in. A similar fate befell Jim Furyk, who bogeyed three of his last five and threw in a double on 18 for good measure. Steve Stricker birdied two of his last three, but Vijay answered with an 18th hole birdie to seal the deal. That capped a back nine 32 for Singh and earned him the moolah.

That's a wrap on the 2008 season and begins the Tiger watch for 2009 to see which tournament he chooses to make his return in after season ending knee surgery. My guess would be Arnie's event in March at Bay Hill, but I certainly don't profess to know anything. I don't care how you feel about Woods, there's no denying it's not the same tour without him. His absence however has created a stage for some young guns, i.e. Kim, Mahan, Villegas, etc., to realize more of their potential. The tour could use them to challenge Woods after his comeback and add some viewers. That storyline will be fascinating and should play out rather quickly. Don't expect Woods to surface until he's confident he can win the event that heralds his return.

It's been an uneven PGA Tour year highlighted by Woods' spectacular US Open win and his winning four of the six events he entered. Padraig Harrington's two major championships and well deserved Player of the Year honors stand out as classic performances. Still, when all the trophies and accolades have been handed out, Vijay Singh went home with the most cash.

Til' next,

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tiger's Tourney - Chevron World Challenge

I guess it's commentary on the current financial climate that Tiger's tournament sponsor went from a mass retailer, Target, to an oil company, Chevron. Thank goodness for Chevron though. Through their auspices sixteen pros get to compete in a silly season event for 1.35 million dollars, (5.75 million total purse). And Woods isn't playing! Woods did reveal today at a press conference that he's been hitting short irons and expects his repaired knee to be better than ever. The sixteen chosen for this year's field better enjoy Woods' hiatus.

Down to brass tacks. Let's see who's playing for the pile of loot and comment on their chances. The boys are at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, CA. Here's the list......

Vijay Singh - Guy who took the 10 million dollar FedExCup has to be a favorite. Bigger the pot, better he plays.

Anthony Kim - Young gun. Won't win. Already in vacation mode.

Camilo Villegas - Young, ripped gun. Tuned up last week with Shark. Can win.

Jim Furyk - Mr. Steady. If he found lost putter, can win.

Steve Stricker - Mercy pick. Not the player of 2007. Won't win.

K.J. Choi - If he treats this as beginning of '09 season he'd have a chance.

Kenny Perry - Tore apart Shark field. Carried Hoch. Should win.

Justin Leonard - Depends if he's been hitting balls. Might win.

Mike Weir - Depends which Weir we get. Probably won't win.

Luke Donald - Repaired wrist. 1st effort since. Won't win.

Stephen Ames - Sneaks up in big events, could very well win.

Ben Curtis - If he's awake, has a chance, albeit slim.

Fred Couples - Buddy pick. Like to see it. Won't happen.

Hunter Mahan - Have no idea. May or may not have stayed sharp.

Boo Weekly - Can win almost any time. Just needs to do it more. Why not now?

Paul Casey - Tough competitor. Better than he appears. Could win.

Average Golfer Picks

1. Perry
2. Singh

Read 'em and weep. Not too late to change yours!

Til' next,

Monday, December 15, 2008

Farväl Annika.

It's arguable that Annika Sorenstam is the best woman golfer of all time given the time she played in and the level of international competition. What's certain is that as great a golfer she is, she's an even better person.

Her career came to an "end" yesterday at the Dubai Ladies Masters on the Ladies European Tour, fittingly the organization she started her career with. Her 1 under 71 gave her 7th place in the event she'd won twice previously. The golf gods deemed it necessary that she birdie her final hole. She acknowledged the crowd, then hugged her long time looper Terry McNamara. “I have had many farewells since I announced my decision some five months back, but this one was special,” Sorenstam said.

Her career achievements are a longer read than War and Peace. 10 major championships, 59 LPGA victories, 16 additional international wins, a 59 in an LPGA event, and member of the Hall of Fame. All of this in a few short years since her pro debut in 1994. Surely her numbers would have only increased should she not have "retired". After all, she won three times this year and is among the top players in almost every statistical category. At age 38 she definitely has great years left as Julie Inkster and Vijay Singh have proven.

The tease is her not actually using the word retirement. Her desire to start a family and tend to her business interests is understandable. Let's assume she and fiance Mike McGee are off to a fast start and the little girl/boy arrives about a year from now. Allow a year to get the new one off to a great start and we could be seeing the reemergence of Annika in the spring of 2011. Just in time to remind the likes of Wie, Tseng, Creamer, Lewis, and Shin who is the rightful throne holder. Musings? Certainly, but possible. If not, relish the memories this great lady has given us over the years.

Til' next,

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Seve Ballesteros Leaves Madrid Hospital

In what has to be some of the best news of the 2008 golf year, golf icon Seve Ballesteros was released from LaPaz hospital in Madrid yesterday after undergoing extensive surgery for a malignant brain tumor. Balllesteros , in a statement posted on his website said of his neurosurgeons, “Thanks to them I will be able to play the mulligan of my life, which I expect to enjoy at my best.”He additionally thanked the hospital staff and well-wishers that responded to his plight 66 days ago.

Ballesteros was stricken on Oct. 6 with a fainting spell at Madrid's international airport. Subsequently he's endured four individual operations to remove the tumor and relieve swelling around his brain. An arduous 6 1/2 hour surgery was performed on Oct. 24 to remove the insidious infiltrator. Ballesteros added, “Occasionally I was a rebel patient and therefore I ask them to forgive me and thank everyone for all the cares received.”

The five time major champion is one of, if not the most, charismatic golfer of the modern game. His style and panache were unmatched during his playing days, perhaps none more so than his playing a shot from the parking lot on the 16th hole during the 1979 British open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. Seve had a car moved to execute his 2nd shot which landed 15 feet from the pin. Naturally he sunk the putt for birdie and carried on to win his 1st of three Open Championships.

Ballesteros also renewed the rivalry what had been an American avalanche in the Ryder Cup. He was influential in including continental Europe in the proceedings and beat the US in 1985 to start off a European string of dominance in the event.

Seve officially retired from competitive golf in 2007 due to lingering back problems.

Best wishes for a speedy and full recovery to a man that's impacted the sport of golf as few have.

Til' next,

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Stacy Lewis Captures LPGA Q-School Marathon

Stacy Lewis, one of the favorites going in, proved her status by firing a 69 in the 5th and final round of LPGA Q-School to garner medalist honors. Making the tour was a foregone conclusion, but Lewis persisted. She stated yesterday that her goal was to win and she achieved. Lewis finished at -18, three shots clear of Amy Yang at -15. Anna Grzebien ended her week with a strong -7, 65 to wrap up 3rd place. A threesome landed at T4, -13. They were Sophie Giquel, Beth Bader, and Shiho Oyama, the Japanese rising star that flirted with the lead for most of the event. Michelle Wie carded a somewhat disappointing +2, 74, but easily earned her 2009 card, finishing at -12 in a tie with Lisa Strom. Wie earning her card is a boon to the LPGA. Attendance and TV ratings should instantly rise, an effect the LPGA dearly needs. Her full impact however depends entirely on how much she chooses to play. Full field scores, Round 5.

Playoff for Final 2 Spots.

Naturally 90 holes wasn't enough golf to identify the twenty players that would earn full exempt staus for 2009. Chella Choi, Allison Hanna-Williams, Nari Kim, and Leah Wigger trudged back to the 9th hole tee for a three hole, aggregate score playoff. Choi's birdie on 9 gave her the cushion needed to capture her card. The remaining three played the 10th hole in sudden death format. Wigger canned her 10 foot uphill birdie putt to claim the 20th and final spot.

Pay attention to these ladies. They're the future of the LPGA. They have the daunting challenge of reviving an injured tour in difficult times. Should be interesting.

Til' next,

Saturday, December 6, 2008

LPGA Q-School Set for Photo Finish

Stacy Lewis, whose 3rd place finish at this year's US Women's Open should have gained her eligibility on next year's tour, is earning it the old fashioned way. Lewis' -5, 67 gave her a one stroke lead over Michelle Wie, -4, 68 at LPGA Q-School today. Lewis landed at -15 overall going into tomorrow's 5th round. Wie was at -14, Amy Yang, -5 today, was at -13. Shiho Oyama was another back at -12, and yesterday's leader Mollie Fankhauser, +1 today, -11 overall slipped to a tie with Charlotte Mayorkas. All of these women, barring something catastrophic, will earn full playing privileges for 2009. I'd love to see a down to the wire shootout for medalist honors.

The real tension for tomorrow is the women that will be fighting for the coveted 20th spot, ensuring their playing rights. At the end of today's play I counted 19 women between -6 and -3 overall. They're all surrounding the 20th spot like piranha on a T-bone. Truth be told, there's probably 30 women with a shot at the prize. High drama contained in 18 holes indeed. It's a real shame this event isn't televised somewhere. Knowing my luck, bowling will be. Real time scoring will have to do I suppose.

Til' tomorrow,

Full field scores after Round 4.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Changes Atop LPGA Q-School Leaderboard.

Mollie Fankhauser solved the difficult Legends course today at LPGA Q-School with an impressive 66 that gave her the lead after three rounds. The 2007 LPGA Tour rookie made a strong bid to snag her 2009 tour card. Her -12 finish after today's round gave the Ohioan a one stroke advantage. There was minor movement at the top of the leader board. Shiho Oyama's -1 left her at -11 and in sole possession of 2nd place. Michelle Wie and Stacy Lewis followed in a tie for 3rd at -10, Wie posting an even par 72 and Lewis a -1, 71. Within sniffing distance were Amy Yang, -2, -8 and Charlotte Mayorkas, also at -8 after a brilliant 66 today. All of the aforementioned rounds were posted on the narrower, more treacherous Legends course. Go figure.

Big Moves

I suppose in a five round tourney both Friday and Saturday could be considered moving day. Big movers today included Leah Wigger's -6 that moved her from T58 to T10. Sarah Kemp, a blistering 65 on the Champions course that moved her from T88 to T20. Beth Bader's -3 that elevated her from T30 to T15 and especially Alison Walsh's sparkling 64 on Champions that rocketed her to T31 from T115.

Saturday, Round 4, Moving Day #2. Fascinating.

Til' next,

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wiesy Game.

Having Michelle Wie win the LPGA's Q-school tournament would the best Christmas present LPGA Supreme Leader Bivens could ask possibly expect. Michelle skipping her spring semester at Stanford would be the second best. Today Michelle did her best to grant Bivens the former.

Wie stroked a sensational -7, 65 to share the second round lead with 1st round leader Shiho Oyama, 64, 70. Nipping at heir heels was Stacy Lewis, whose quiet 66 today left her one back at 135. Wie played the Champions course, considered to be easier due to expansive fairways. Wie pulled her driver with regularity versus yesterday en route to a 11 of 14 fairways, 13 of 18 greens, and 24 putt round that echoed the Michelle we've hoped to see. She birdied four of her last five holes for a strong finish that should lead well into round three. Her prodigious talent was full on display for the 1st time in a while. Wie's new found approach of not speaking with the media until after the final round is still in effect.

Wie is certainly not unchallenged this week. Playing the more difficult Legends course, Oyama scored an excellent -2, 70 that coupled with yesterday's gem gave Wie company at the top. Also on the Legends course, Stacy Lewis provided the round of the day, an impressive 66. These three seem to be pulling away from the field leaving lots of interesting action in the middle as these women battle for 2009 LPGA playing privileges. Tomorrow will significantly narrow player's options heading into the weekend. Be there!

Til' next,

Full 2nd round results.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

LPGA Q School - Oyama Leads, Wie on Way With 69.

90 grueling holes for 20 coveted spots is the MO for LPGA Q School at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, FL. It's a personified pressure cooker as women golfers try to attain life long dreams or keep an existing dream going. The down side of 90 holes is the endurance required. The upside is you could have an iffy round and still survive. One iffy round, not two.

Shiho Oyama and Mika Miyazato, an amateur, started their rounds on fire with front side 31s. Oyama took the first 18 hole lead with a scorching 64. Miyazato was two behind in solo second with a 66. Both of their rounds were carded on the statistically easier Champions course, one of two being used in the event. Mollie Fankhauser and Amy Yang shared joint 3rd with 67s. Jeehae Lee held 4th place alone with a 68 and Audra Burks, Stacy Lewis and Michelle Wie split 6th place with 69s, Wie's coming on the narrower, more difficult Legends course. Full 1st round scores.

The 1st round can't win you one of these things, but it can lose it for you. LPGA veterans Vicki Goetze-Ackerman and A.J. Eathorne found this out with 1st day +4, 76s. Naree Song struggled to a 75 and Patricia Meunier-Lebouc trod perilous ground with an opening 74.

The first three rounds figure to be positioning for the last two days on the weekend. Think of it as a horse race with five turns. Stay tuned. Pure excitement and butterflies in the stomach are hallmarks of Q School.

Til' next,