Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
The 2010 PGA season will field 43 events counting the off events during majors and the fall season tournaments following the FedUp Cup. That's really not too bad considering the potential for a sponsor walk out. The majority of the regular tour events have purses in the mid-5 million dollar range, which should keep the Mercedes dealers happy. What remains to be seen is the interest level maintained if Woods doesn't return to the tour for a protracted stretch. I think many sponsors are locked in for 2010 and are nervously awaiting for the recluse to surface and announce his tee tomes for next year. All this adds up to an unsettled start in 2010 for the big business of golf. My prognostication record is woeful, but I'd expect to see Woods at Augusta and be knocked over by the collective sigh of relief. Remember, "Time wounds all heels." In the meantime, with the minor exception of Mickelson, don't rely on "casual" golf fans to fill advertiser's coffers during the Woods void. With typical TV ratings down 50% during a Woodsless tournament, the fact that many remotes are clicked just for the star power, not the golf, is proven. Still, the core demographic of "serious golfers" is an attractive one, just anticipate a shrinkage of the ten or so year gravy train that the pro golf behemoth has enjoyed. After all, why shouldn't they share some of the economic pain that the rest of us have enjoyed? Late in the year I'll have an eye on the Ryder Cup. On the slim chance that Woods is still meditating, the consequences will be worth following. Either way really it should be good theater.
Many have suggested that a Woodless stretch is the opportunity for the Tour to promote it's lesser known stars. Great in theory, tough in practice. I for one doubt I'll use some precious downtime to tune in a Streelman/Thompson duel at the Northern trust Open, regardless of how scintillating. the possible hope is for some recognized stars that haven't been ringing the cash register lately, (see Els, Garcia), to re-surge and prop up the Tour. that is a very large "remains to be seen". No doubt some younger guns, (see Kim, Fowler) will eventually take their place at the head of the class, I just think we're a few years away. Prove me wrong.
The fallout from the "Bivens Bounce" has turned out to be as well as could be expected under the circumstances for the ladies. This was a tour on the verge of collapse. In 2010 they will offer 24 tournaments with 11 being played on foreign soil. I reckon it's a credit to them for the salvage operation. The LPGA is a niche sport within a niche sport. The average golf viewing fan is male. The average male will usually watch men play golf. After a 5+ hour sit down watching a men's event his appetite for golf is satisfied. That's it. That's why virtually no one watches women's golf. The LPGA is wise to embrace a global strategy. That's where the game is growing. Arguing about losing the game to foreigners is like splitting hairs on a gnat's behind. Before long the only thing "American" about women's golf will be the Tour's mailing address and that's not a bad thing. Before you lose all hope however, there is a scenario that would prop up parochial interest. Michelle Wie continuing to win is the Tiger Woods effect for the ladies. Oh sure, a Creamer or Kerr victory helps, but nobody has the star power of Wie. So, you want a comeback of American women's golf? Root for Wie.
Suffice it to say that 2010 will be the LPGA's survival year. Much of their future will be predicated on 2010 results. Network and cable contracts, (Sorry about that Golf Channel), will be decided on the noise they make in 2010. Perhaps they should schedule an annual Solheim Cup. Expect a scaled down LPGA for the foreseeable future and see if Wie can inject some new found excitement and interest.
In the coming days I'll comment on 2010's effect of your personal game.
Friday, December 11, 2009
"After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf. I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person."
Those are the words from Woods' website announcing the stunner. You'd be hard pressed to argue with his reasons given recent events. I'm sure Tim Finchem may need a little Ambien himself to get to sleep after this bit of news. Viewership is known to drop as much as 50% in Tour events when Woods isn't entered. With a dearth of sponsors waiting in the wings and effort required to keep the ones they have, Tour officials must be squirming. I suppose the only "grey" lining in the cloud was Woods' use of the words "indefinite break" rather than "retiring".
So now the "Woods Watch" will begin as already massive speculation about Woods in general will spill over to speculation about his return. With Augusta, Pebble Beach, and St. Andrews on the major schedule in 2K10, scenes of some of his largest victories, Woods ended up with a tough year to take a pit stop. This Average Golfer will find his interest level in men's pro golf squashed some without the world's best player in the field. Imagine if the Yankees decided to sit next year out. Tiger's personal decisions sure have affected a ton of folks, the extent of which remains to be seen. Pro golf tour desperately seeking meal ticket.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Average Golfer will of course continue to chronicle Woods' on-course exploits and follow his chase toward statistical immortality. Everything else has collapsed under a veil of lies. Not trying to be judgmental here, merely adjusting to a changed reality. Though I'd hoped so, Woods is no Palmer or Nicklaus, not even close. It doesn't label him evil, just disappointing. Still, I wish him and his family the best of fortune in salvaging what really matters. Golf be damned.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Will there be ramifications? Oh, probably. Woods' march toward billionairedom could be delayed, but I doubt you'll see him asking for stimulus money any time soon. Sure his marketability may suffer with a public that's more concerned with what Britney Spears had for lunch than what sort of job the President is doing, but that's a reflection of where we are as a society. Will his marriage survive? Who the hell knows? Crap, half of the marriages in this country don't survive, including mine. Will he pass Jack's major total? Sheer time and numbers say yes, but until it happens it hasn't happened. Strife and turmoil in one's private life doesn't typically translate into golf excellence, but he made his bed.... When one strives to attain the seemingly unattainable and embraces the spotlight along the way, embracing as well untold riches, it's not enough to just say you're going to take your ball and go home when the game gets a little nasty. For that he deserves a slap on the trust meter.
This much is true.......... After a warm up event or two, or three, Tiger Woods, barring injury, will make his way to Augusta in the spring of 2010 to continue his pursuit and practice his craft. I'll watch and so will you. Anything that happens between now and then is irrelevant in the golf world in the opinion of this Average Golfer.
Monday, November 30, 2009
"Due to injuries sustained in a one-car accident last week, Tiger Woods will be unable to play in the 2009 Chevron World Challenge."
"I am extremely disappointed that I will not be at my tournament this week," Woods said. "I am certain it will be an outstanding event and I'm very sorry that I can't be there."
Rather generic, non-enlightening, borderline lawyer speak indicating that Woods is no nearer to discussing his Thanksgiving Day Escalade episode with anyone other than Mrs. Woods. Certainly well within his right to do so, but time will tell if his relentless pursuit of privacy will tarnish the "Woods brand". It's definitely not going to keep the tabs and bloggers at bay, but then again, what would have?
Friday, November 27, 2009
It appears that the early reports of Woods being seriously injured were exaggerated. It's now said that the 33 year old suffered facial cuts in the incident with his 2009 Cadillac SUV. A statement from Health Central Hospital read he was, "admitted, treated, and released today in good condition."
Bystanders also reported that after hitting the hydrant and the tree Woods' third shot was a gorgeous approach onto his neighbor's "lawn/green" where he then easily converted a five footer for par. That left his scorecard unblemished in everyone's mind except perhaps for Mrs. Woods who was said to be dismayed by his 2:25 AM tee time. The DNF was Woods' first for the 2009 season.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Even a young Tiger Woods didn't have the expectations heaped on him that Wie's seen since her pre-teen days. Dubious career decisions, horribly timed injuries, and parents perceived as mettlesome have only acted as roadblocks in her predicted rise. Her 3-0-1 record in this year's Solheim Cup was a huge confidence boost that only proves the adage that golf can be a mental struggle. Her acceptance by her Cup teammates may have been the bell that went off in her head and convinced her she belonged in their club. Regardless, she showed today that she is all everyone wanted or expected her to be. Her youthful exuberance displayed after she sunk the winning putt was genuine and worth the price of admission to witness. She showed she still has a lot of kid in her in the post round interviews, seemingly struck by lightning. Don't confuse her childlike responses with an intellectual void though. No one gets into Stanford by accident, especially when they've abandoned their amateur status and can't play on the golf team.
Time will tell if this was Michelle's breakthrough moment and is a harbinger of things to come. She possesses a game of strength that no other woman pro has. On the difficult 220 yard par three 17th today most of the players had hit between a hybrid club for Yani Tseng, a long hitter, up to and including 3 woods. Michelle's club of choice on the hole this week was 4 or 5 iron. That my friends is a serious power difference. Couple that with renewed short game focus and dose of confidence and you might have glimpsed the future of women's golf. Better late than never.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Average Golfer Equipment Review
First, the Precision Putting Trainer came in a well designed tidy package and was easy to install on my Scotty Cameron Newport. Clip on, clip off, no marks left on "Ole Reliable". I would predict that it would adapt to any putter that's legal. The company claims it assists you in 8 key areas that affect the putting stroke. Let's examine them and see how the Precision Putting Trainer stacked up.......
Eye Alignment - The trainer is set up like a rifle sight with the cross hairs appearing over your club head and the ball. Red lines appear on the sides of the device when your eyes are directly over the ball. It works and helps if you're of the theory that your eyes should be directly over the ball at address.
Stroke Smoothness - There's a hanging alignment blade attached to the aiming device. It's sort of a level to gauge whether your stroke remains smooth throughout. It works. In fact I found it to be the most helpful of the trainer's multiple uses.
Level Club Head - Again, another take on the cross hair theory. It works if that's how you want your putter soled.
Straight Through Stroke - This is a suggestion to use the trainer's alignment bar to follow a line on the putting surface in order to groove a repeatable stroke. This works, but is similar to the common string drill and doesn't take into consideration the putting theory where the putter travels on an arc like a regular golf swing. It's for straight back and straight through advocates only.
Steady Wrists - I had trouble understanding the idea behind this. I would expect most players could tell if they maintained steady wrists during a putting stroke anyway.
Target Alignment - The 90 deg. cross hairs are very helpful in seeing your intended line before making the stroke.
Steady Head - This goes back to the two red lines that appear when your head/eyes are centered over the ball. If you can complete a stroke while maintaining sight of the red lines, your head was steady. It works.
Sweet Spot Contact - Many golfers don't realize the importance of striking the ball on the sweet spot. Again, the alignment bar on the trainer is visible and if you see it dissect the middle of the ball through the swing, it must be the sweet spot. This works as advertised.
The enclosed set up guide and manual is useless. The website however, www.puttingTechnologies.com, is packed with great graphics and video that enhance the trainer and are in many ways a decent putting lesson in their own right. Ditch the manual and head straight to the website. The trainer itself is very helpful as an alignment aid and assisting in making a smooth stroke, both major keys in sinking more putts. Some of the claims were redundant, but that doesn't take away from the basics of the device. It's a solid practice aid that's easy to carry and use and will translate to fewer putts in your future rounds. It earns Average Golfer recommended.
*The Precision Putting Trainer was supplied to Average Golfer for evaluation purposes. This had no bearing on my review evidenced by the fact that I've since given it away to a terrible putter so it can accomplish the most good.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Woods carried a one stroke advantage over Phil beginning yesterday's round, but Mickelson made short work of the deficit. His 67, including a back nine 33, gave him the two shot cushion at -14 over Woods and American Nick Watney. Ryan Moore remains within sniffing distance at -11. Woods' third round 70 was marred by a rather pedestrian back nine 36, reinforced by many players finding out that birdies were in short supply. In birdieing 3 of his last 5 holes Mickelson was the only player in the top 18 to break 70. Lee Westwood carded a stellar 65 to come in at -10 and place himself back in the conversation.
Dream pairings don't often match the build up, but if this one does it may set the tone for a very interesting 2010 season. A Mickelson victory over Woods in a head to head match up would be frosting on his 2009 cake and shoot him into 2010 with a confidence injection. It would come on the heels of his TOUR Championship victory in Atlanta and indicate Phil's back in good form after a personally tumultuous 2009 marred by his wife Amy's and his mother's cancer diagnosis. This will make the 25th time Woods and Mickelson have gone "mano y mano" in the final round of a tournament and the 1st time since 2005 at Doral. In the 24 previous meetings Woods has posted the better score in 12, Mickelson in 8, and 4 have ended in ties.
May the best man win.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
The PGA Tour however needs to do a bit of rearranging to make this must-play tour stop. You see, the Tour doesn't count this week's purse in their year long money earnings list. If they expect this to play as it's US based WGC brethren, they need to make the winnings count toward the top 125 list and validate the event. I would imagine this will happen in the not too distant future, but still find it hard to believe they didn't accomplish it when they granted WGC status.
No one need look any further than this tournament being held in Shanghai to witness the future of growth in golf. The economy has dragged the game down in the US and other traditional capitalist societies. Look East to find the cash stockpiles and fresh population bases to propel the game forward. Better get used to setting the Tivo for time zones heretofore undiscovered. The next Tiger Woods may well speak Mandarin, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
By: Stan Utley
With Matthew Rudy
An Average Golfer Book Review
We all know the guy, or perhaps you're the guy, that blasts it by everyone in the foursome, is on or around most greens in regulation, but can't score. The idea is to put the ball in the cup in as few shots as possible, isn't it? Truth be told we could all use some help in that department and Stan Utley's aim is to help us in that quest. Stan's techniques must be sound since he's developed himself quite an impressive following in the professional ranks. His stable of clients include Sergio Garcia, Jay Haas, Rocco Mediate, and Paul McGinley. No lightweights there.
Stan breaks the short game down in his recent book to what he terms "basic" shots, the shots you'll typically need in the vast majority of situations involving the short game. His "basic pitch shot" is the first he teaches and with good reason, it's most likely used the most. He painstakingly details grip, posture, and technique so a sound understanding of his theories is easy to grasp and picture. In similar fashion he follows with the "basic bunker shot" and "basic lag putt". Good photos and explanation make a quick read of what many times in golf instructionals could be mistaken as a sleep aid. Stan continues with three shots that confound many amateurs and pile on strokes. He simplifies the 30 - 50 yard pitch, the shot from the rough near the hole, and the dreaded long bunker shot. Any improvement on those three is an instant stroke shaver for must of us. Stan draws interesting comparisons between a bunker shot and shots around the greens with the point being that decent fundamentals on the important types of short game shots will give us an answer for almost any predicament. He explains well his desire to let size of your pivot and speed of your turn determine distance in the short game. That provides consistency of results, something we all crave.
Stan lends some particular insider knowledge as to how he approaches teaching a top flight pro as well. I found some irony in that the pros suffer from very much the same swing maladies as us mortals, just on a higher starting plane. A large chapter is devoted to putting strategy including reading green slope and grass grain. The book delves into club set selection and make up as well. Mr. Utley didn't really leave many stones unturned.
The book has a "feel" aspect to it as opposed to many golf guides that are rather technical and seemingly impossible to incorporate into your own game. This book leaves you with the idea that you've just gained some kind of inside advantage that will pay quick dividends in your next round. Stan wisely informs us that we can have a much improved short game without starting over and ditching the swing we've had since day one. I call that practical knowledge, the most useful kind. One caveat remains though that's true of any golf instructional. Stan provides the wisdom, we have to provide the time and effort. Remember that next time you pull your driver on the practice range.
The Art Of Scoring is recommended by Average Golfer.
The Art Of Scoring, By: Stan Utley, with Matthew Rudy, Gotham Books, Available on Amazon.com.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Prominent names that need to make a significant move to keep their cards include Tim Herron at 134, Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin at 142, Tom Pernice Jr. at 144, and Tom Lehman at 147, although Lehman's played some Champion's Tour events this year. Rocco Mediate at 151 needs a push. Jason Gore and Masters champion Trevor Immelman are at 153 and 154 respectively. Billy Mayfair, a fixture on tour for a long time, is right behind them at 156. Probably needing at least a win in the last three weeks would include Shaun Micheel, 177, Shigeki Maruyama, 178, and Steve Elkington, 183. Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey is most likely relegated to the Nationwide Tour at 201. John Daly sits at 215, which is higher than Len Mattiace and Brad Faxon at 226 and 227. Current Full Money List.
The pressure cooker involved in keeping your card is probably greater than closing a tournament. It ensures your working papers for another year. That twist makes the Fall Season worth watching even with the marquee names absent. Human interest stories all over the course. Every shot counts and all the other cliches apply. Click away from football for a bit. It may turn out to be high drama.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Allenby said Sunday night. “Friends of mine were out and watched him come in sideways.”
This just in Robert.....Maybe you should! These lame remarks were attributed to Allenby after getting beaten like a rented mule by Anthony Kim in last weekend's Presidents Cup singles match. US captain Fred Couples was quoted as saying that Kim had been in every night of the matches. Kim himself denied being in the place or condition so vividly described by Allenby. Only begs the question.....How did Allenby know Kim was in at 4 AM if he wasn't up at 4 AM himself? Ah, the ole' reliable conjecture and heresay.
Granted, Mr. Kim has a bit of a reputation as a partier, but is that so surprising with him being a millionaire in his 20s? Earth to Allenby, if I just got ass waxed by a hungover guy working on just a few hours sleep, I think I'd keep it to myself.
Dr. John Daly's Miracle Cure
From the "You can't make this up" grab bag comes John Daly's announcement that he's suddenly available to play golf despite recently pronouncing he'd shut it down for the year. “My recovery from stem cell surgery has been closely monitored by my doctor and I have been cleared to begin playing competitively in two weeks,” Daly said in a statement.
Daly stated he'll play in the Viking Classic stateside and follow in December in the Australian Open and Australian PGA. This Average Golfer is betting that the return of Big John is more fiduciary than medical. Prove me wrong big fella.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
For golf fans it was a pleasant enough weekend. Ten hours of NBC coverage and Johnny Miller was a perfect foil for the domination of the NFL and the MLB playoffs. At least one had an alternative. I'm sure it was a little tough in the booth trying to maintain viewer interest for so long in an event that wasn't all that competitive. Four days of Presidents Cup vs three days of Ryder Cup is either a boon or bust for broadcasters. Four days however, is certainly enough rounds to determine the better squad.
Perhaps it's time to consider combining both events into a US vs The World competition. That would eradicate any discussion about the US playing a diluted field. The tough sell for that idea would be old Sam Ryder turning over in his grave with the break in tradition. Discussion worthy though in this Average Golfer's opinion.
All in all a nice event to watch. Tim Clark's birdie barrage was a thing of beauty. It just proved that you don't have to be long to score. It also proved that being deadly from 150
yards in is killer and having a hot putter doesn't hurt the cause. The only hint of controversy was Camilo Villegas forcing Hunter Mahan to make a 2 footer in the middle of Hunter's 2 and 1 win. The best display of sportsmanship was Vijay's concession of a 7 foot birdie putt to Lucas Glover to halve the match. It prevented Glover from being shut out on points for the week. Classy.
I reckon this signals the end of the professional golf season with all due respects to the pros struggling for their jobs in last 3 Fall Season tournaments. It's been a rather unusual 2009 with unexpected major champs and a financial upheaval in the pro game that still hasn't shaken out. 2010 should be interesting at the very least. In the meantime, stayed tuned here for for your golf fix. Between seasons Average Golfer will just have to dig deeper.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I'm aware of the huge federal budget deficits that my grandchildren, (or perhaps their children), will be paying off on my behalf. I despise tax cheats, swindlers, and con men. I applaud legitimate efforts from my government to level the playing field and convince me that my tax dollars are well spent. Color me stupid, but I don't think the paltry amount I obtain by publishing this humble blog is going to put a dent in the mountain of red ink.
The FTC on Monday said that "Violating the rules, which take effect on Dec. 1, could bring fines up to $11,000 per violation. Bloggers or advertisers also could face injunctions and be ordered to reimburse consumers for financial losses stemming from inappropriate product reviews." Does that mean if I review a driver, Joe Six-Pack buys it based on my opinion, loses the the $2 Nassau first time out, I owe him six bucks?
This Average Golfer has written a precious few reviews, some on books, one for a documentary film by an obscure filmmaker, and a golf tool. Yes, I received the DVD, books, and tool gratis, complements of the publishers, distributors, etc. Most of the items I gave away hoping to enhance the golf life of acquaintances or playing buddies. You know, share the wealth and good fortune. By the way, through various advertising sources shown on these pages I've received the sum total of less than $139.00 since Jan. 08 when I started this little money maker. I tell you this in the interest of full disclosure.
The dollars involved obviously aren't what's got me steamed here. It's the idea that I'm liable for my opinion. Are we to assume that the average consumer can't tell this difference between an honest little blog site and the tsunami advertising and shill sites of the world? The FTC believes so. They think you're all morons. Opinion is not to be confused with slander or liable. We have a right to an opinion, and last I knew free speech was still on the table. Perhaps it's me that's naive.
The fallout here is that Average Golfer will have to be more discriminating in choosing his words and requests for reviews. I do this for fun, no more or less. The last thing I expected was an intrusion into my basic rights and freedom to form and express an opinion. Those New Hampshire license plates are looking better and better.
**Free Obama administration and FTC tip........How about going after the unpaid back taxes of your recent appointees?
Thursday, October 1, 2009
I did a quick inventory during my last round of golf to see what was in my pockets. Extra ball, ball mark repair tool, tees, and coins for markers. No cigar holder, even though I partake on occasion, no grip saver, I compromise with a tee for that, and certainly no shotgun opener. If I had the DIV PRO along for the ride, I'd have been covered.
DIV PRO is the Swiss Army knife of golf tools. It combines the required base divot tool with a magnetic ball marker, a groove cleaner, a cigar holder, a grip saver, and the aforementioned can opener in a clean one-piece tool that's cleverly designed and intuitive to use. The intuitive part is important to guys like me that rip things out of the package and expect them to perform like old friends, sans instructions.
I compared DIV PRO to my trusty Scotty Cameron repair tool during my last round. The Cameron's been in my pocket for the last fours years, so we're on close terms. As a repair tool the DIV PRO's tines are noticeably longer, in fact long enough to start a garden. That's where the comparison ends as fixing ball marks is about all the Cameron was designed to accomplish. No cigar support, club clearance around wet greens, ball mark, and certainly no ultimate function, shotgunning beers. Decided advantages, DIV PRO. About the only gain the Cameron had was size and weight. With it's myriad uses the DIV PRO was heftier than the Cameron and was about 3/4" longer. I like to be balanced over the ball and I'm distracted by many things, not the least being ballast in my pockets. DIV PRO's multi-functions though eliminated my need for markers and a dedicated cigar holder. Economy of design won out and I found that the extra ball in my left pocket and the DIV PRO in my right struck the perfect balance. I'll have to blame my swing problems on something else.
DIV PRO's a great idea and simple design on items every golfer already uses. It qualifies as highly recommended by this Average Golfer. Check it out here at NoJoke.com.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
THE TOUR Championship and the FedUp Cup finale. $10,000,000 to the Cup winner with an additional $1,350,000 for the tournament winner. Not chicken feed.The top five in the dizzying rating system can clinch the Cup with a win. The others need a confluence of events that would stagger Stephen Hawking.
We're here to pick the winner and offer stunning commentary on the favorite's chances. No more, no less. So, with our usual assistance from betting house Ladbrokes, may the games begin.....
Tiger Woods, Even - By all rights should win. Stupefying odds difference between him and the field. Still, as goes the putter.....
Jim Furyk, 14:1 - No wins this year, just solid play. 6 top 10s at East Lake. Laser irons. Could win.
Padraig Harrington, 14:1 - Swing changes kicked in. If he avoids 8s and worse, could win.
Steve Stricker, 16:1 - Should be rested. Kinda gassed at last. Hot putter? Could win.
Zach Johnson, 20:1 - Has course record 60. Great iron player. Could win.
Phil Mickelson, 20:1 - Who knows? Can't get a read on his game after a very tough year off the course. Could, probably won't.
Retief Goosen, 25:1 - Sneaks up on you. Easy to forget about. Hot putter = could win.
Sean O'Hair, 25:1 - Has the game. Implodes at worst times. Won't win.
Hunter Mahan, 33:1 - Average Golfer's been on him all year. Hasn't come through. Might here.
Dustin Johnson, 40:1 - Bomber with game. May surprise. Take him as a dark horse.
Ernie Els, 40:1 - Better of late. Still no killer instinct. Might win if others fall off. Won't snatch it.
Geoff Ogilvy, 40:1 - Underperformed all year. No reason to think that'll change here. Won't win.
Luke Donald, 40:1 - Nope, not here. Take him in my scramble though!
Scott Verplank, 40:1 - Remarkable putter. 2nd in last event. Longest of shots. Like him though.
Notes on Others......
Stewart Cink at 66:1 is a nice bet. Heath Slocum at 100:1 is in the top five FedUp Cup standings, which means a win nabs him the 10 million. US Open champ Lucas Glover is a bewildering 66:1. Masters winner Angel Cabrera is posting at 50:1. Not exactly much respect for this year's major winners. Full 30 player field.
The Atlanta area has endured torrential rains of late with the outlook of more of the same. East Lake switched to Bermuda greens which should drain better than bent grass. Officials were predicting a 12 on the Stimpmeter, regardless of the recent water. Expect pin seeking to be rewarded and the best iron players of the week to be right there at the end. The course will play at 7,154 yards, par 72.
Average Golfer's Picks
Dark Horse. Just one in a 30 man field. Cink.
Bet early and often.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Finally, a resolution to the the seemingly endless pursuit of a mythical championship and a kazillion more dollars for the lucky pro golfer that survives THE TOUR Championship at East Lake. He'll get to lug the trophy home and plant it on his big screen next to his bowling hardware. Bragging rights will have subsided at that point as he'll only have 29 other losers to chirp at. Soon the FedEx Cup will have it's victor and we can resume normal pursuits, like the NFL and Ice Road Truckers.
This Average Golfer is certainly not the sharpest tool in the drawer, but I did survive college calculus. Try as I might though, I can't get a grasp on the bewildering points system that the FedEx uses to crown it's millionaire of the year. The points are reset for the last event with 2500 for Woods as the #1 seed and 210 for John Senden as the #30. Based on the logic as I understand it, for Senden to get the cup he'd have to win with all the other participants finishing in reverse order. The top five, Tiger, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, and Heath Slocum can all win the crown with a victory. I would assume that your prospects are on the severe decline from there. Got me so far? Good, cause my hair hurts.
Oddly, last year's top four cuppers, Vijay, Camilo Villegas, Sergio, and Anthony Kim will have front row seats on their couches for this year's finale. Shoot, they can come over to my house and share my davenport. I'd do that for them. Truth is, I'll check out the action. If it's compelling, I'll watch. If not, I'll take a nap or three. The idea behind the FedEx was to maintain some golf interest past Labor Day and provide some incentive for the best players to prolong their seasons. In that respect it's worked with Woods playing more consecutive weeks than one ever could have expected. After the majors though, my interest wanes as the temperatures drop. I'll spend my last weekends before snow and furnace tune ups trying to squeeze in a round during limited daylight. What will you do? Let me know.
*Average Golfer Aside.........The winner of THE TOUR Championship gets $1.35 million dollars. Nice parlay if he takes the cup as well.
Friday, September 11, 2009
It's Time To Take Your Shot
Golf is revealed to be secondary in The Back Nine. The introduction of his wife, father, and stepfather into the character list uncovers the crux of the story. I'm instantly jealous of his understanding spouse and am convinced that if mine had been half as understanding, I'd still be married. Mr. Fitzgerald's recovery of his relationship with his natural father, a colorful, spontaneous man, in contrast to his more stoic, grounded stepfather are the points in which the film grows legs and are the real ponderables. You see, The Back Nine is a dissertation on relationships and life with golf as the backdrop. We draw the analogy between Fitzgerald's journey and our own and in this respect the film succeeds. It relates.
I enjoyed The Back Nine, albeit not quite in the way I expected. Perhaps that was Fitzgerald's intent or maybe the natural conclusion to his chronicle. I am certain that the fact he did what many of us wish to was a large part of the appeal. Vicarious living is still living of sorts, right? Regardless, it was an easy 90 minutes or so that I'm glad I took the time to view. So should you.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Jason Dufner was hitting balls on the range, prepping for the possible playoff. Scott Verplank was scoreboard gazing. Steve Stricker was birdieing the 72nd hole to win the Deutsche Bank Championship, the 2nd leg of the contrived FedEx Cup. Locked with Dufner and Verplank at -16 going into the par five 18th, Stricker calmly got up and down from a lie in the rough just left of the flag. The 18th played as the easiest hole on the course today, more like a long par four. Still, Stricker had to card the bird and card the bird he did. That leap- frogged him past Tiger Woods into first place in the FedEx Cup standings going into next week's BMW Championship at Cog Hill. Woods shot the round of the day with a 63, but was still five behind Stricker. Just proves the adage that you can't win the tournament on the first day, but you can lose it. Woods' failure to go low on days one and two, while others were piling up red numbers like Michael Moore at a $10 buffet, was his downfall. Don't feel too sorry for him however if he fails in this cup quest. He still has an extra bazillion or three and should survive. Angel Cabrera, Padraig Harrington, and Dustin Johnson finished tied for third at -15. Final Full Field Scores.
Stricker has "Big Mo" on his side and is more than earning the moniker of Mr. September. Nobody's hotter going into week three, with Steve having won three of his last nine events and coming in second last week. He's played well at Cog Hill with a win and a 3rd on his resume. Woods likes the layout as well and it will be fun to see if he can dismount the roller coaster that's been his scorecard of late and notch a win. This Average Golfer is of the opinion that Woods' game is just fine, it's the others that are getting better.
The bottom side of the field saw Vijay Singh, FedEx Cup defender, fall out of the chase, ending the week in 78th place. The top 70 advanced. Unlucky #71 was tagged on Sergio Garcia. Expect to see Sergio on TV earlier in the morning in Euro events. I'd chalk up Vijay's year to a knee rehab and Sergio's to a bad attitude. Remember Sergio, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean the whole world's not out to get you". On the upside, Verplank's 2nd place may have cemented him a spot on Freddy's President's Cup squad. Verplank can flat out putt, verified by his closing four birdies today, and putters are huge in a team event.
It's short wait until Cog Hill with the Monday finish, so polish up the leather recliner and keep the beer cold. In the meantime, enjoy the sterling weather (here anyway), and get out and lose some balls!
Friday, September 4, 2009
Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk rendered par virtually a suggestion in the first round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston. They led they way with -8, 63s, trailed by a bevy of low scores. The second event of the "FedEx Cup Runneth Over" cemented Stricker's rep as a playoff monster and Furyk's as a dart thrower. Benign conditions allowed tons of players to go low, but Furyk's 18 of 18 greens in regulation stood as a clinic. Stricker has beaten Tiger Woods in his last three rounds in which they've played together including today's eight stroke pasting. Make it safe to assume that Woods' intimidation factor is dive bombing, at least from Stricker's vantage point.
Trailing in second stood the likes of Angel Cabrera, Retief Goosen, Matt Kuchar, Justin Leonard, and Scott Verplank, all at -6, two back. 16 others were spread between -4 and -5 creating a logjam of red numbers. Woods' -1, 70 and Phil Mickelson's even 71 were terrible rounds on a go low day. Both superstars couldn't buy a putt, although Stricker and Furyk's answer to that problem would have been "Hit it closer". There's no reason to believe the scoring fest won't continue with perfect conditions forecast through Labor Day. Course officials will have to get stupid with pin positions to slow the tidal wave of birdies. First Round Full Field Scores.
Woods is practicing the deadly habit of late of spotting the field a half dozen strokes going into the weekend. The best players in the world will take the spot without even a thank you. Mickelson's game is just lost. Too many coaches and opinions cause a brain freeze. This Average Golfer is acutely aware of the bad stuff that occurs when one thinks on the golf course. Act smart, play stupid.
I for one am a tad underwhelmed by the invented spectacle of the FedEx Cup. I consider the majors to be the pinnacle events. Still, it's compelling golf with great fields before football season gets in full swing. Better than the best players shutting it down after the PGA. Find time between the beer and the burgers and you just might catch something special.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
The setting is The Barclays, the 1st event of the pseudo- PGA playoffs, pushed to status by an outlandish FedEx Cup payoff. Heath Slocum is faced with a twenty footer on the final hole of the tournament for the win. Tiger Woods, on the same green moments earlier, has a seven footer for an almost assured spot in a playoff. Who's your money on? If you're being honest in your answer, you'd be wrong. Slocum laced his putt, Woods yanked his outside the cup giving Slocum the win and vaulting him from 124th to 3rd in the Fedex Cup standings. Heretofore unheralded Heath shot a final round 67 to best a host of all-stars at -8. That illustrious group of first losers included Woods, Padraig Harrington, Steve Stricker, and Ernie Els. Woods and Stricker maintained their first and second place status in the four event playoff. Third round leaders Paul Goydos and Steve Marino fell off the planet in the final round. They seemed to feed off each other's miscues. Pity, as Goydos would have been a great interview as the winner. Still, it was a potential career changing win for Slocum, a light hitting journeyman who may have just discovered he has more potential in the game than just earning seven figures by making cuts. Slocum was also noted as being one of the few players not dismissing the Liberty National course as a dog track. In fact he noted that it was his new favorite course and would consider the $500,000.00 membership fee if asked to join their elite clique. Final Full Field Scores.
The FedEx Cup field, now winnowed from 125 to 100, advances to the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston. Tiger, Phil, and Vijay are previous winners and there's no reason to expect they won't contend. The Monday Labor Day finish is unique and is a nice extension to the weekend in this Average Golfer's opinion. Follow along as the "dash for cash" continues.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
In a singles Sunday that was closer than the final 16-12 victory inferred, the US maintained their dominance on home soil and retained the 2009 Solheim Cup. Three early victories by Paula Creamer, Angela Stanford and break-out girl Michelle Wie gave the appearance of a potential rout, but European tenacity left the outcome in doubt until near the end. After the US posted the three early victories the Europeans led in six matches, more than enough to capture the cup. A three birdie string by legend Julie Inskster in her match with Gwladys Nocera reversed what looked like a certain Euro victory and may have turned the momentum tide for the US. Laura Davies gave away what appeared to be certain victory against Brittany Lang by losing the final two holes. Morgan Pressel's 3 and 2 win over Anna Nordqvist was the official cup clincher. Final singles results.
Wie's victory over Helen Alfresson may have the longest ramifications. Michelle showed fight and guile over the always tough and experienced Helen after giving back an early three hole advantage. Rather than fold she continued to hit impressive shots and make pressure putts. Her prodigious power and talent may have been finally unleashed on a world stage devoid of her parents. She seemed extremely happy and relaxed with other players for the first time ever and they with her. Her 3-0-1 record as a rookie made her the Woman of the Match in this Average Golfer's book. Paula Creamer beat Suzann Pettersen 3 and 2 despite being outdriven by an average of two clubs on nearly every hole. Her reputation as the women's game's best iron player was on display. Creamer hit her approaches first and close, placing pressure that Pettersen couldn't shake off. Suzann was off all week and didn't really display her status as the Euro's top player. Christina Kim's match with impressive Tania Elosegui was perhaps the day's most entertaining. They battled back and forth and were locked in a tie for a good share of the match. Elosegui's mimic of Kim's celebratory finger twirl served to reinforce the tenacity of these matches. Late missteps bt Elosegui gave Kim a 2-up win. As much as I like Kim I thought perhaps her antics were just a little over the top today and that they grew a bit tiresome. The heavily partisan crowd was extremely loud, but never in bad taste as far as I could tell.
I'm sure the LPGA would love to bottle the interest level and feel of this event for the regular tour. The problem is it can't be done. A team competition with territory based partisanship can't exist in the independent contractor world of a professional golf tour. The tour needs to embrace the South Korean wave and find a way for fans to identify with the rank and file players. As good as Creamer, Stanford, Wie and the rest of the American contingent is they aren't any better than their Asian sisters and are surpassed by sheer numbers of talented players. An American winner won't crowned every week. The LPGA is wise to seek out Asian ties and sponsors as that's exactly where the game is going and growing. Xenophobes won't save the tour. A better economy and global outlook might. And maybe the new Michelle Wie.
Top flight golf, exciting final day matches, and a rooting interest made this a great day on the couch for this Average Golfer. Hope y'all enjoyed as well. See you in Ireland.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Average Golfer's rare foray into women's golf is highlighted this week by the 2009 Solheim Cup being played at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, IL. The venue sounds like a spot to pick some apples after a hearty pancake breakfast. The matches shape up to be noticeably in favor of the US squad. Never discount the intricacies of match play however when all you need to do is win the hole. Disaster holes mean only that, one hole. I'd bet Padraig would have preferred match play in the last two weeks.
Our favorite betting site, Ladbrokes, has installed the USA squad as a 1.22:1 favorite. The European contingent lays at 5:1, or you can attain 12:1 odds on the match ending in a tie. The USA carries a 7-3 match record into this event having never lost on home soil. Led by the likes of Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer, veteran Julie Inkster and rookie Michelle Wie, the US team has no one ranked lower than 51st in the world. The Euros feature Laura Davies, who has played in every Solheim Cup, Suzann Pettersen, Sophie Gustafson, Women's British Open winner Catriona Matthew, and Helen Alfredsson, returning to play after serving as captain. Full teams listing.
Unlike it's male counterpart of late, this one seems to lack the controversy that can drive interest and excitement. The most controversy that exists is still within the US team from two years ago when the highly charged Dottie Pepper, a US Solheim legend, in her capacity as golf commentator, referred to the US team as "Chokin', freakin' dogs" during a low point in the '07 matches. Ms Pepper unfortunately forgot the axiom that any microphone within range should be considered an open microphone. Perhaps some tension will develop on the course with spirited play. It would serve to pique my interest level to see a little personal competitiveness. "Nice shot, nice shot, pick it up" is a recipe for an early nap. Davies and Alfredsson can spark the Euros while Creamer and Christina Kim are more than capable of the same for the US.
Team match play often comes down to pairings, the Woods/Mickleson pairing in the Ryder Cup being a prime example of the negative buddy system. I see a Wie/Creamer or Wie/Kim as being a lightning rod for some action. For a greater analysis of the players and potential pairing you must read The Constructivist's article at Mostly Harmless. This scion of women's golf has forgotten more about the LPGA and LET than I know.
It may be almost time to rethink the relevancy of the USA/Europe match up as the world's #1 player is Mexican and the dominant country is South Korea. Regardless, there's some tradition sewn into these matches and that discussion can be back- burnered for a bit. Let's hope for some good weather, compelling matches and enjoy the fact that professional athletes are playing for their respective countries, not for mind numbing purses with even second place prizes that create instant tax problems. Enjoy.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Make no mistake, Y.E.Yang flat out beat Tiger Woods to capture the 91st PGA Championship at Hazeltine ending Woods 14 major tournament winning streak when holding the 54 hole lead. Yang's final round 70 earned him a three shot win after Woods' 75 put the streak in it's final resting place. Y.E. finished the tourney at -8. I suppose it was inevitable. After all, Jack Nicklaus finished 2nd a record 19 times in majors. Granted, Woods' 33 whacks with the flat stick in the final round didn't help his cause, but it was Yang who chipped in for eagle on the drivable par four 14th and it was Yang who stuck it to eight feet from 207 yards on 18 to set up just the third birdie of the day on the closing hole and seal the deal. Those were shots we've come to expect Woods to pull off under major championship pressure. Yang simply out-Tigered Tiger. Full Field Final Scores.
Consider the fact that Yang didn't begin playing golf until he was 19 years old and then donated 18 months to the Korean army. That's spotting the field a lifetime of experience. His breakthrough win was earlier this year at the Honda Classic. In the short time since then he's demonstrated he's a quick learner. Expect the 37 year old to set off an explosion in Asian golf, a fete accomplished for the women's game by Se Ri Pak. Asia's already building courses like crazy and Yang's triumph is just the catalyst needed to propel the game from the ground up. Golf is truly an international sport with Y.E. Yang's victory the latest exclamation point.
The final men's major of the year is really the curtain drop for the 2009 men's professional season. Everything else is just an encore with us holding the lighters in the dark. Average Golfer will still pay attention of course, especially this week's Solheim Cup being of interest, but the influence of international players dents some venerable events. The Ryder Cup and the Solheim Cup may have to revisit their protocol with so many top players coming from outside Europe and the US. The contrived Fedex Cup hasn't gotten much of my interest other than it being a ridiculous pay day. Your opinions?
Finally..............Congrats to Y.E. Yang!
Friday, August 14, 2009
A four stroke lead at the mid point of a major for Tiger Woods is almost too much to rally from. Woods shot a -2, 70 today and put the clubs away carrying a four stroke advantage over a host of challengers at the 91st PGA Championship. Only a sloppy chip and errant ten footer by Woods on the 18th hole kept it from being five. Padraig Harrington did his best to remain within sniffing distance, but backpedaled 3 strokes to land at -3 for the tourney so far. He was grouped with Ross Fisher with a stellar 68, Lucas Glover, Brendan Jones, and two-time PGA Champion Vijay Singh. Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood held up the Brit contingent at -2. Full field scores.
Big names sent packing by missing the +4 cut include Stuart Appleby, Sergio Garcia, 78 today, Davis Love III, Justin Rose, Bubba Watson, Nick Watney, Steve Stricker, and Adam Scott after a dreadful 82, 79. Rumor says that Scott has jettisoned Butch Harmon as his coach after watching his career sink. Perhaps Butchie will call JD.
What's up next is for the one or more of the chasers to step up tomorrow, fire at pins, and hope to go low in an effort to chase down Woods. From what I've seen of Hazeltine so far it doesn't appear to be the type of layout where Woods would post any huge numbers and retreat back to the masses. Relatively open, plenty long and drying out play to Woods strong suits, length and the world's best short game for the inevitable missed greens on enormous holes, especially the par fours. The poa greens that Woods putts better than anyone are just frosting. He's swinging well and I wouldn't count on that changing in the next two days. So who has the moxy and game to back it up to narrow the deficit? Tune in, tomorrow should reveal most of the remaining cards in this deck. I expect Sunday will be a barn burner or a coronation. Saturday's the key in this one.