Sunday, December 4, 2011

Tiger Woods Takes Chevron World Challenge - Is He Back?

Biggest question... Woods' game still in the woods?
Tiger Woods bested Zach Johnson with an 18th hole birdie, his second straight, to grab his own Chevron World Challenge title. He finished at -10, one clear of Johnson, who he battled all day in a tight back and forth match. No one else really contended, making this almost a match play scenario. Sunday was calm in contrast to the blasts of Santa Ana winds that colored the first three days. His final round 69 erased a one shot deficit to Johnson at the start of the round. Johnson therefore carded a 71 today. Woods' game is obviously improving. You can tell by his ball striking and trajectory. He's regained some of his legendary control of the ball, but still some questions remain....

1. Is a victory over just 17 other players an indication of Woods return to form? Probably not. With the tiny field I see it as just north of MJ winning a game of HORSE in his driveway. Still, a win's a win and no pro golfer needed one more than Woods.

2. Can he carry the improved shot making into 2012? Only one way to find out. Play the tournaments. It's no coincidence that Woods' improvement is directly related to his increase in playing.

3. Any chinks in the armor? Well of course. Loose shots here and there. 27 putts on Friday, 32 on Saturday. Not the sort of consistency a player of Woods' pedigree looks for, but miles better than his PGA Championship performance.

4. What else will factor in Woods' 2012? Health. Four knee surgeries can't be on anyone's wish list. The rigors of a full, by Woods' standards, season will be the arbiter. One factor he can't account for is age, both his increasing and his prime competition's decreasing.

5. Bottom line? No sane person can argue that Tiger's not in the top two of all time. He's playing better, his self-imposed off the course problems are naturally fading. I see him winning two to three tournaments a year on a schedule of about 18 entries. Figure a major victory thrown in the mix and he'll give Nicklaus' record of 18 a run for it's money. I wouldn't be shocked to see them tied when all is said and done. If you'd have asked me ten years ago, I'd have figured him for 25.

*Average Golfer aside.... How can they call it a "World Challenge" with only 18 players?

Swing hard, they'll make more.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tiger Pulls Smoke and Mirrors Act at Chevron World Challenge (aka Sherwood 18 Open)

I know we're at the "end" of pro golf season. To be fair, the pro golf season never really ends. They crank the 2012 PGA season up again on January 6, 2012. It's omnipresent. This week's fare is the Chevron World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, CA. Still, Tiger's tourney raises a considerable amount of moolah that benefits his foundation and the Tiger Woods Learning Center, both good causes.

Eighteen players will tee it up on Thursday. That's right, eighteen. We have more on Sunday mornings at my muni for a $5.00 blind draw. These boys are divvying up $5 million. Gotta like like your odds if you scored an invite.  The field typically consists of the four current major champions, the next eleven in the Official World Golf Rankings, and sponsor picks. Evidently not everyone got the email. This year's field has Keegan Bradley as a major winner, Bill Haas, the FedUp Cup champion and a heavily American weighted field with 9 of the world's top 25. In the top ten are Steve Stricker (6), Webb Simpson (9), and Nick Watney (10). Woods himself dodged a bullet just to qualify for his own shindig. He crept into the top 50 at 49 at qualifying time, but has slipped to 52nd in the interim. At least he didn't have to use an exemption. Unfortunately, defending champ, Graeme McDowell is playing in the Nedbank Challenge in Sun City, South Africa along with stalwarts Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, and Martin Kaymer. In related news, someone has seen fit to give John Daly a spot in the USB Hong Kong Open. Bring extra balls.

How things change. Twas a time when everyone checked their mailboxes for a Woods' invite. I'm not sure if it's the global aspect of golf or Woods' declining influence that's turned his tourney into a buddy match. Probably some of both. I'll take a peek at the telly because I'm a golf nut. My trigger finger will be on the NFL though. If Woods intends to break his losing streak, this is his best opportunity in two years.

*Average Golfer aside.....  Quite a coup to have the results from the Sherwood 18 rack up World Ranking Points.

Swing hard, then swing harder.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Why The US Won The Presidents Cup.

Outside of the obvious, "We won more matches", "We scored more points",  there's one real forehead slapping reason the US squad won this year's and most year's Presidents Cup competitions. We have better players.

According to the Official World Golf Ranking points system as of 11/18/2011 the average ranking of the 12 US players was 18.5. The Internationals 34.6. The 19th ranked player in the world would typically beat the 35th ranked player over a series of matches.

So sorry Uncle Albert.
Ain't math great?

Go ahead, they'll make more.

2011 Presidents Cup - Post Mortem

Captain Couples, undefeated.
Final score 19-15 in favor of the US squad vs the Internationals in the 2011 Presidents Cup from Melbourne, AU. This was a bit closer in final day singles matches than it appears. Still, the Internationals were faced with an unprecedented task of coming from four points behind on the last day, considering no team has ever overcome a deficit in singles. Four early wins gave the Internationals some false hope. The back loaded US squad prevailed when Cup veterans Furyk, Toms, Woods, and Stricker sealed the deal. Not exactly compelling on the last day, but at least interesting.

Some observations gleaned by this Average Golfer's astute eye....

The Presidents Cup isn't the Ryder Cup by any stretch. Drawing from a global pool the Prez Cup participants don't have the team chemistry of a Euro Ryder team. Language barriers and infrequent contact contribute. History's on the Ryder side as well. The difference in intensity and seriousness is palpable.

Robert Allenby had a tough week. Coming off a missed cut in the previous week's Australian Open, Robert Allenby hoped to validate captain Norman's faith in him and his familiarity with Royal Melbourne by turning in a good performance. Didn't happen. 0-4-0 record made Norman's comments regarding the Tiger Woods captain's pick ring hollow. Allenby putted like he was drunk for two weeks.

Home field advantage wasn't there. Five Aussies made Norman's roster. RM was supposed to be their own private Idaho. Combined 7-14-3 record for the quintet dispelled that notion.

Royal Melbourne was on the edge. Yes. Bath tub slick greens, harder than 10th grade math, coupled with some howling wind, made certain holes ridiculously difficult to play. All in all in one of the most spectacular venues in the world. I just hate to see some of the world's best win or lose a hole in match play on what's essentially luck.

Tiger Woods made a statement here. Yes and no. Yes, his full swing appears to be rounding into form, proven by the return of the patented stinger. Yes, he made putts in the singles round to trounce Aaron Baddeley. No, his 2-3-0 record for the tourney didn't win it for the US.

Jim Furyk was MVP. 5-0-0. Nuff' said. Furyk's missing putting stroke magically reappeared and he became just the 4th player in Cup history to win five matches.

No substitute for experience. Example, Mickelson 3-1-0, Mahan 4-1-0. Having been there means a lot. Much was made of International rookies KT Kim and Ryo Ishikawa having breakout tourneys. Fact is they were a combined 4-4-0. Not embarrassing, but .500 doesn't win Cups.

Jason Day had a tough week too. It sure seemed like he was nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. The wind wreaked havoc with his high ball flight and sent him all over the property. Day's a better player than he showed, but better learn to hit the ball lower when needed.

Norman's suggestions worth a look. In a post-round interview Greg Norman suggested that in the interest of a more competitive tournament the captains should be allowed four picks with eight qualifiers. Makes some sense given the vast pool the International team has to draw from. He also postulated that the home team have the ability to counter with their picks in the pairings rather than the defending team as it is now. Again, worth consideration. Seemingly small changes might have some impact. As it's been, this Cup is a mismatch every two years.

To sum, interesting, not history making. Face it, between the Ryder and the Prez Cup the US squad plays in one of these every year. We should win. I was about to suggest a biennial US v. The World event until I remembered the tarring we took in the last Ryder.

*Swing extra hard, they'll make more.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mid-Way Through 2011 Presidents Cup - If It Was a Fight, They'd Stop It.

The US squad routed the Internationals in Saturday, (Friday here), foursome matches by a 4 -1 margin to take a commanding 11 - 6 overall lead in the 2011 Presidents Cup, held at Royal Melbourne, Melbourne, AU. Despite having five Aussies on their team and home course advantage, the Intl's are being thoroughly outclassed by an obviously more talented US team.   Even if the US only wins just two of the afternoon fourball contests, they'd only need 4 1/2 points out of twelve possible in the Sunday singles. Based on OWGR and money lists the Internationals were in over their heads before the first ball was in the air. The team matches were their hope since the US typically dominates singles.

The Watson/Simpson and Mickelson/Furyk pairings have decimated the opposition and remained undefeated after the morning rounds. So complete is the rout that even Tiger won his match with Dustin Johnson as sidekick. It may prove to be an announcer's nightmare to try to maintain viewer interest in such a lopsided affair.

Conditions at Royal Melbourne are 180 deg. from yesterday. Overnight and continual rain, coupled with dropping temperatures has reformed the scorched earth appearance from yesterday. Balls are actually holding on approach shots and putts, for the most part, seem to be staying on the greens.

Perhaps these biennial contests should evolve into a US against The World setup. One could argue against based on last year's Ryder Cup result, and that's a point well taken. Still, this permutation hasn't been very compelling from a competition standpoint. Nevertheless, Royal Melbourne has been a delight and proof that golf courses don't have to be 8,000 yards to challenge the world's best.

*Keep watching, something might happen.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Woods/Scott Pairing Highlights 1st Day of Presidents Cup

No problems here.
Get it out of the way. Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker will face Adam Scott and KJ Choi in the first round of foursomes matches in the 2011 Presidents Cup. Much ado about nothing this Average Golfer says as the firestorm created by caddy Williams' comments last week have largely died out, save perhaps for the Brit and Aussie tabloid rags. Let's examine the pairings on their own merit...

Woods/Stricker v Scott/Choi - Hard to argue with the US combo's success in the past. Should be a US win.

Watson/Simpson v Ishikawa/Els - Interesting International squad pairing of young and old. Els may be the determining factor with his experience. Watson the birdie maker here. Should be close, Pick - Draw.

Haas/Watney v Ogilvy/Schwartzel - Watney's tough as nails, but so are both International players. Rookie Simpson should decide. International win.

D. Johnson/Kuchar v Baddeley/Day - Go with the hottest sticks, which would be the International squad.

Mickelson/Furyk v Goosen/Allenby - Allenby forgot how to putt and Goosen's not having a career year. Phil's not a great team player and Furyk hasn't been his best. US win, but close.

Mahan/Toms v KT Kim/YE Yang - Toss up in my opinion. Mahan might be the difference. He's probably the best player here. Kim could surprise. Internationals in a mild upset.

By my reckoning Day 1 should end Internationals 3.5 - US 2.5.

*Bet early and often.

Monday, November 14, 2011

2011 Presidents Cup - Odds and Expert Picks

Psychological duel or match fixing? You make the call.

The biennial contest is upon us. Commonly regarded as the weak sister of the Ryder Cup, this Presidents Cup, held at venerable Royal Melburne, (pronounced Mel-buhn) promises to be  a spirited competition, with a little more emphasis on competition as opposed to the exhibition it's been in the past. That's perhaps because International captain Greg Norman is known for his fiery spirit. The fact that this is the venue the Internationals last prevailed on, as well as being Norman's home course, as well as his being the losing captain two years ago, makes this personal. Norman and US captain Fred Couples have sparred in the media during the run up on subjects including the saneness of each other captain's picks for their respective squads. Throw in the verbal gaffe by ex-Woods caddy Steve Williams and we should at least have a little passion displayed over the week. 

Ladbrokes' betting house lists the odds for both teams at even money for a win, with a 10/1 pay for a tie. Here's the odds of some top players on landing the top scorer spot.....


Tiger Woods - 6/1
Nick Watney 8/1
Webb Simpson - 8/1
Phil Mickelson - 8/1
Dustin Johnson - 8/1
Matt Kuchar - 9/1
Steve Stricker - 9/1


Jason Day - 5/1
Adam Scott - 6/1
Geoff Ogilvy - 7/1
Charl Schwartzel - 7/1
KJ Choi - 8/1

This Average Golfer expects a close match to be decided by Sunday singles matches. The pairings will tell all, but unfortunately in hindsight that the best captain's choices are revealed. Expect a Woods/Stricker, Mickelson/Watney show for the US. Players for Captain Couples to hide might include Simpson, due to lack of experience, or David Toms and Jim Furyk since neither are having career years.

On the International side look for Aussie pairings. Some combination of Day, Scott, Ogilvy, Baddeley, or Allenby. Allenby will need the boost coming off poor play at last weeks Australian Open. Captain Norman may try to hide Retief Goosen or Ernie Els based on recent play. Korean KT Kim will be an unknown. Expect him paired with countryman KJ Choi. If Choi's hot, like he can be, this could be a crucial duo.

As close as I think this event will be, I predict an International victory, largely due to the large Aussie contingent making for a strong home course advantage. I see a 17 1/2 - 16 1/2 winning margin.



Wednesday, November 16 9 p.m.-2 a.m. (GOLF / live coverage)

Thursday, November 17 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (GOLF / tape-delayed)

7:30 p.m.-2 a.m. (GOLF / live coverage)

Friday, November 18 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (GOLF / tape-delayed)

3 p.m.-2 a.m. (GOLF / live coverage)

Saturday, November 19 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (NBC / tape-delayed)

6:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (GOLF / live coverage)

Sunday, November 20 12-6 p.m. (NBC / tape-delayed)
*Remember, bet early and often.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tiger Woods Pours Water on Williams Fire At Australian Open Presser

In his press conference before the beginning of the Australian Open Tiger Woods said he'd recently met in person with ex-caddy Steve Williams, whose fresh, racially tinged comments had taken over golf coverage of late. Woods referenced the comments as "hurtful", but clearly stated that he felt Williams was "no racist".  That alone should finally put to rest, or at least return commentary back to golf action. If Woods was angry he hid it well, although usually there's not much deep insight to be gleaned from a Woods question and answer session. Still, this Average Golfer thought he was sincere and I'd expect no fireworks in the small chance that Woods and Adam Scott find themselves in the same group this week.

Of more interest may be the inclusion of upcoming President's Cup captains Fred Couples and Greg Norman. Norman of late has been particularly loquacious with comments of the wisdom of Couples picking Woods for the US squad and his opinions on the Steve Williams mess. I'd have to give Couples the nod this week though in a head to head match on the golf course.

I've been quick to criticize Woods in the past when I felt he deserved it, but I'll be equally quick to say I think he took the high road, whatever his motivations, in the Williams matter and helped bring focus back to the tournament.

Swing extra hard, they'll make more.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Golf and NBA Seasons Over.

This past weekend golf made it's unofficial exit from it's so-called season with the final event at the Disney-plex. Luke Donald captured it with a stirring Sunday 64. One would have thought that the win had locked up Player of the Year honors for Donald, but not so freakin' fast. The PGA Tour has decided to postpone POY balloting until after the WGC-HSBC Champions tourney, Nov. 3-6, in Shanghai, China. The prize money won't count as official money, but a win will count as a win. Makes Mr. Donald wonder what a guy has to do to win an award. FedUp Cup, Fall Finish, China this or that, let's just keep playing until the guy we want wins. We're not crying for Luke. He's done rather well for himself. It's the governing bodies that are blowing the legitimacy of their "organizations" out their tailpipes. Regardless, with the World Series and NFL action only wives, girlfriends and families were tuning in.

The golf nuts probably caught what they thought was a faux pas in the title pronouncing golf season over. The PGA Tour website lists the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic Malaysia, the aforementioned WGC-HSBC, and the President's Cup as left on the schedule. What, no Shark Shootout, or Tiger's Limited Field Event That Nobody  Wants To Play Anymore? With the exception of some minor rooting interest in the Prez Cup I'll see you in January in Maui. Pro golf never really ends anymore if you like to fly.

One death notice that's not premature is the NBA season. At least I hope that's the case. I can't think of a more inane professional sport that's lost it's appeal with the public. I used to be an avid NBA fan. Never on top of my list, but always in contention. A meaningless regular season where all but Scooter Store devotees make the playoffs did it for me. Basketball in June doesn't settle well with this Average Golfer. The trashing of the traveling rule to accommodate His Airness didn't help, nor did the doing away of what used to be called "palming the ball". Yeah, sure, I'm dating myself, but those fundamental changes altered the game into a contest of run and dunk. If you're a 6'10' Usain Bolt you've mastered the sport. I favor keeping 10' rims, but making the court larger. Kinda like Canadian football.  On the money issue I side with the players. If some moron owner is willing to pay a player ten times what they're worth, should they be expected take less? The owners are grabbing back control and the only recourse the players have is to withhold their services. Y'all come back in 2012 or 13 with a new found appreciation for each other and a bigger court. I still won't watch.

Swing hard, they'll make more.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

10 Average Golfer MUSTS.

I reckon I'm the definition of an average golfer. I'm as capable of shooting 102 as 80. I've never broken 80, although I have a number of 81s to my credit. The average player shoots around 100. Whether they'd admit to that or not is a subject for another article. I will submit to you though, scores notwithstanding, that I've played enough rounds to have at least figured out what the necessary ingredients are to banish those 100s forever and find your way on the fast track to a single digit handicap. I subscribe to the theory that "Those who can, do. Those who can't, educate." Here's ten good ones that I've gleaned...

1. Develop a better short game. - Fact, most strokes in any golfer's scores occur within 100 yards of the flag. Most of those are around the green. Become a better chipper, pitcher, and putter and watch your score melt. This is the fastest way to better scoring and requires little physical effort, which is why it's my #1.

2. Fix your posture, set-up, and grip. - These are the only things you can do as well as Tiger Woods, or Rory McIlroy, or whoever your golf idol may be. Quit thinking about 'em and start doing them better. At least then you'll look like a golfer until you start the club moving.

3. Get a pre-shot routine. - Why think when you don't have to? Develop and use use a routine until it's 2nd nature. That's one less thing to think about and you'll start your shot the same way every time. Drop your shorts, twirl three times, and cluck like a chicken. I don't care. It's better than what you're not doing now. Just don't make yours too slow and you won't find my Titleist between your legs when you're finally ready to pull the trigger.

4. Relax, relax, then relax some more. - Tension is the killer of 100-shooters' golf swings. The hinging and release necessary to smash a golf ball doesn't occur with stiff arms, wrists, and hands. A certain amount of tension is needed for consistency though. Think somewhere between 2 beers and a full Valium.

5. Get your clubs fit for you. - If you play once every other month, skip to #6 and don't be in the foursome in front of mine. Otherwise, if you really want to get better, you need clubs that fit you and you only. Doubt me? Try a day in 32 underwear Mr. 38.

6. Hit down on the golf ball. - Yes, hitting down makes the ball go up. Counter-intuitive? Of course, so is getting married. I've seen too many 100-shooters scoop, lift, and skull golf balls all over the property. What I haven't seen see is any of them shoot 74.

7. Square the clubface at impact. - Crooked face at the moment of truth makes the ball go in any one of 359 other directions. Take mini practice swings and focus on having the face of the club pass through the ball at 90 degrees. That would be at a right angle, or toward your target, assuming you're aimed correctly, which may be a huge assumption. See #2 and add "Aim properly".

8. Finish your swing. - Hey, you started it, might as well finish it. Belt buckle or beer gut, or belly ring for the ladies, facing target. Weight on left foot, right on toe. Reverse for lefties Einstein. Keep in mind that if you can't finish properly you seriously messed up something that came before. If so, see #2 again.

9. Balance. - If you're not balanced you'll know it. Strive to maintain your balance from the time you get out of your car until you're safely back at home. Then you can revert back to your usual unbalanced self.

10. Manage the course. - This sounds complicated, but all it means is don't try to hit shots you know you ain't got. The 200 yard forced water carry isn't happening Cupcake, so get out the 9 iron. Buy a lotto ticket. Better odds.

If you noticed, I didn't attempt to instruct you on any of the golden precepts. That's because I'm not an instructor and these pearls are as much for my benefit as yours.  There's a crapload of golf instruction everywhere and plenty of qualified instructors just dying for your call. Find one.

Relax, they'll make more.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Solheim and FedUp Cup Post Mortems


Before you roast Rosie Jones for playing Cristie Kerr in the first four matches of the 2011 Solheim Cup with a bad wrist consider... I'd guess Cristie said she was ready to play, period. Secondly, would the US squad be in the position they were in going into Sunday singles had Kerr sat? Who knows, doesn't matter. If Michelle Wie had won her match and others contributed, they could have won regardless. The Euros outplayed them on the day that usually counts and that's a wrap. The theory that the Euros should have have called Kerr's singles match a draw in the spirit of fair play is bunk. Michael Vick got hurt on Sunday and I wasn't expecting the Giants to give back any points. Congrats to the Euros and their win will make the next match all the more compelling.


Way to go Bill! Young Haas seems like a nice enough fellow. I have no evidence to the contrary to suggest there might have been a more deserving winner. $11,400.000 is a nice haul. That and the associated exemptions should serve Bill well for a long time to come. The cynic in me sees the FedUp Cup as a pure money grab. I don't see anyone that played at East lake this past weekend having to contact Social Services in the near future. Only by hedge fund manager's standards do they fall short. Nice work if you can get it.  The flip side says though that meaningless golf would have been played otherwise had there been no Cup. Let the meaningless golf begin now then. Not meaningless though if you're a pro struggling to keep his card and explaining to the wife and your backers that you really can play this confounding game.

Haas threw a monkey wrench into Fred Couples' final President's Cup selection though, making the Haas/Bradley decision a tougher one. I reckon the best out would be if Steve Stricker decides his own shoulder problem, coupled with hunting season, takes him out of the mix allowing Bradley and Haas to notch their passports with an Australian stamp. That way only Brandt Snedeker is pissed. It will bee nice though to see all of Tiger Woods' caddies, Fluff, Williams, and the newly appointed Joe LaCava share a locker room.

Swing hard, look right....

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sunday Singles to Decide Solheim Cup - John Daly and R.E.M.

The US squad staged a furious rally in afternoon fourball matches, (That's best ball to us Yanks), and tied the 2011 Solheim Cup at 8 points per side. Sunday singles will decide the whole shootin' match. The US holds a prohibitive 69-42-13 overall record in singles play. As far as this Average Golfer can tell, the key match-ups should be Wie/Pettersen, with an under-performing Wie facing a Euro juggernaut, Davies/Inkster, with a combined age of 98 and never having met head to head in Cup play, and perhaps Kerr/Stupples. It's not that Kerr shouldn't beat Stupples, she should. Stupples has played like the Big Breaker, rather than Ryann O'Toole. It's that Rosie Jones placed Kerr in the last match of the day, where her tenacity may be wasted. See the full line-up here.

Hey John Daly! "Get in the taxi." 

I used to like John Daly. Hell, I used to like Wild Turkey too. Daly's latest display of ignorance on someone else's dime is just confirmation of what should be inevitable. Hey Big John, like R.E.M., the taxi's been out front for quite some time.   

Break some shoelaces, they'll make more...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Solheim Time

Once every two years the ladies duke it out for intercontinental supremacy in their golf world. Solheim time at Killeen Castle, Ireland, 9/23 - 9/25. 12 on 12, US vs. Europe for the Solheim Cup, courtesy of Karsten Solheim, PING founder, who developed the idea and hatched it in 1990. The US has won 8 of the 11 events held, but this year's match up appears to be relatively even with the added advantage for the Euros of being on home turf. It's truly a must see if you're even half a golf fan. The intensity and will to win displayed by both squads makes the men's President's Cup seem like thumb wrestling.

An indication of the worldwide spread of golf, men's and women's, presents a little conundrum in all international team events, but really strikes a chord in the Solheim Cup. You see, 5 of the top 10 ladies in the Rolex World Rankings are Asian, of course led by World #1 Yani Tseng.  Obviously this wasn't the case in 1990, but it sure is now. I think the women should lead their male counterparts and alter future Solheim matches to reflect this global shift and have an all inclusive set of matches. The LPGA sure could use a boost with it's number of annual tourneys nearly sliced in half. After all, what good is 1st place when the best team(s) didn't compete. Regardless, for this year make the Cup a priority on your TV. You won't regret it.

Average Golfer will update results later in the week and provide insightful and hilarious commentary as is expected.

Don't sweat it, they'll make more.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How To Win Your Next Scramble

First let me qualify the following by admitting that winning a golf scramble is a crapshoot. Sandbagged handicaps are the main culprit and the subject of another article. Still, there a few things that can be done to increase your odds of taking home the trophy, most likely a beer logo-ed golf bag and a sleeve of RockFlites. I'm working under the Average Golfer's scramble scenario, meaning a team handicap at 36 to 40+. So, kill the TV and pay attention. I'm only going to say this once.

Putting Wins Scrambles. Most scramble teams get it around pretty good from tee to green. Most make their putts from inside 6 or so feet. The difference between a -8 and -12 final score is the seven to sixteen footers that the winners drain. Pros don't make half of these. Your team needs to make most of them. The 50 ft. snakes are pure luck, even with four whacks at it. Save that for the only skin, which is the only real money in a scramble anyway. Make sure your team has at least two very good putters and have them putt last, unless of course anyone putting ahead of them is so bad that you don't want their putt witnessed.

Take Short Game Over Long Game. Similar to putting  strategy in scrambles, short shots are mucho importanto. Even at 40+ your team should be on nearly every green in regulation or just off. An eagle chip-in shaves strokes in a hurry. In a word, just be sure every team member is adequate in the short game. Four decent chances from just off the green is all you want here.

Women And Seniors Welcome. A woman or a senior that can tattoo the ball from their respective tees is invaluable. Nuff' said. (If they can chip or putt make them the captain).

Yes, Having A Hitting Order Helps. Differing theories abound on this one. Does Dr. Pressure hit 1st to ease the vise? Should the best putter go 1st to show the line to the remaining three? Hard to say. The dynamics of four golfers with divergent personalities and styles is tough to pigeon hole. I would assume that all members of the group are well acquainted, friends even. Therefore, y'all are probably familiar with each other's tendencies and habits. My solution is to pick a captain and have him/her make all relevant decisions, i.e. hitting order. People like to know their roles in a group. Give 'em one.   

Get Those Mandatory Drives Out Of The Way. Sure his/her drive was 40 yards shorter than everyone else's, but, if you can advance it, play it. Nothing kills a good scramble score than having to use the 25 handicapper's drives on the last two holes. Exception, par fives, where length matters. 

The Tour's Not Calling. In my town one could play in a scramble of some type virtually every day of the week. Often it's the only tournament setting that the weekend warrior will find himself in. Resist the urge to take yourself or the event too seriously. I've got that part handled by remembering that the last scramble my team placed in I took home a new golf towel and got to see my name misspelled in the local paper. I limit my scramble tourneys to charities I favor or events that have been particularly fun in the past.

Now I realize I've just scratched the surface here. Please add your scramble tips and perhaps we'll have a definitive guide.....

Don't sweat it, they'll make more.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Those Guys Have All the Fun - Inside The World Of ESPN: Average Golfer Book Review

I'm know I'm a little late to the party, since most reviews of the "New" ESPN book came out in late May. Think of this as the 2nd wave, pre-paperback review. Although at a hefty 748 pages, this baby won't slide comfortably into a back pocket even without the hard cover.

My age demographic pegs me as being hugely sports aware at the dawn of ESPN in 1978 and my reader's demos tell me the same about you. This book chronicles the growth of the sports media monstrosity from it's germination as an idea born from Bill Rasmussen and his son Scott in 1978 until present day. The elder Rasmussen had been the communications manager for the Hartford Whalers, so after being fired by them, anything was a step up, even a then ridiculous idea for a dedicated sports network originating in the Bristol, CT megaplex.

The book is laid out in a series of interview snippets with all the main players through the saga, including all of your favorites, Berman, Kornheiser, Tirico, Patrick, Roberts, Gammons, and the insufferably obnoxious, but legendarily clever Olbermann. Authors James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales manage to pull most of the huge volume of material together in a decipherable fashion and the provided "between quotes" commentary enlightens, fills in, and connects the dialogue. I found the book's only minor negative to be that it bogs down in spots, especially when multiple quotes on the same topics are listed. Some of the "inside baseball" references to the financing and structural makeup of the behemoth that is ESPN can be sleep inducing, but tolerable in a book that leaves virtually no stone unturned in the dissection of such a large animal. All in all a worthy read, a book you'll take a break from due to  sheer weight, but pick back up quickly to resume where you left off.

Since it's essentially a book of quotes, I won't repeat them here and deprive you the opportunity to find the gems within the 748 pages. Be assured though, the lowdown is covered on the hot topics including Limbaugh on Donovan McNabb, Kornheiser's round peg, square hole fit on MNF, Erin Andrew's stalker woes, and Olbermann's serial leaving and returning schtick. Not much is out of bounds here and that lends the book credibility. Not in tell-all style necessarily as much as truth serum. An Average Golfer highly recommended.

Available at Amazon    Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN

* Review copy provided to Average Golfer by the publisher.

'LinkConnector Validation'

Friday, August 12, 2011

Now We Have Golf Gladiators

Been thinkin'. Always dangerous. After the ad nauseum replays of Rory McIlroy's ill advised attempt to uproot a tree and the subsequent painful result, it seems that golfers can now be categorized with linebackers in the "no pain, no gain" pantheon. Truthfully, it gained traction with Woods' 2008 US Open triumph on the now famous broken leg. Now I'm no doctor, but my brother is, and a classic broken leg in my understanding wouldn't be capable of supporting one's body in a vertical position, much less allow for the torque of an accompanying golf swing. There lies the the difference between a "break" and a "crack". Let's not forget as well that young McIlroy's shot was terribly ill advised, even without the presence of an evil root. A punch back to the fairway for an unobstructed third shot, on merely the third hole of a major championship, was in order. Chalk that miscue up to the exuberance of youth. That I can understand. Please though, don't confuse golfers with linebackers.

Swing hard and don't worry, they'll make more.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tiger Woods, Like the Rest of Us Now.

Tiger Woods had four birdies and three double bogeys in his round of +7, 77 today at the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club, Highlands, in Duluth, Georgia. Hell, I did something similar last weekend. In my round of 91 at my local muni I carded three birdies and the same three double bogeys. I threw in a triple for fun, but that's to be expected from a weekend hacker with fourteen fewer majors than Woods. I'd safely figure that Woods' handicap at my course would be +10. That prevents me from asking him to join our 4-man scramble squad because his vanity handicap seriously screws up the numbers and our chances to win golf bags with beer logos filled with Top Flite XLs. Next year's lookin' good Tiger if your index continues it's steady climb.

We're not typically Woods lovers or bashers here at Average Golfer. We strive to be objective and attempt to limit the conversation to golf and golf exploits and foibles. Last week Woods pronounced himself to be healthy and strong, though ring rust seemed inevitable. A prep week was in order and Woods finished mid-pack. Today, three birdies in his first five holes had folks thinking of 2001. Doubles on 15 and 18 had them thinking Nationwide Tour. 10 over in his last 13 left tied him with John Daly in a twisted sort of irony. 11 of the 20 club pros in the field beat Woods, as well they should have.

I have a better chance at making the cut this week than Eldrick. If I were him I'd shelve it after Saturday and start prepping for next year's Masters. He'll be watching the "playoffs" from home regardless. Just proves that it's tough to play golf at any level without a clear head and lots of reps. Nice to see the game doesn't discriminate when it doles out it's inevitable cruelty.

Swing hard, look up,

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Open Championship 2011 - Odds and Expert Picks

3rd in line of the year's list of majors, The Open Championship will be contested this week at Royal St. George's in Sandwich. It has the distinction of being the first course to hold The Open Championship outside of Scotland. Think of it as sort of a parking lot painted green with thick rough and nasty wind. That should give some idea as to the sort of play required to leave Sunday with the Claret Jug. Let's examine the field and offer perspective on the favorite's chances. Current odds courtesy of Ladbrokes.

Rory McIlroy, 8:1 - Riding, and justly so, on the merits of his US Open victory. Not sure he can hit it low enough if the wind rears. Still, could win.

Lee Westwood, 12:1 - Note that only three players are listed at less than 25:1. That says the tourney is a crapshoot. Westwood's overdue for a major and can handle the conditions. Should win.

Luke Donald, 12:1 - Rightly offered based on his year thus far. Could win, but I see Westwood ahead of him. Easy top ten one would expect.

Martin Kaymer, 25:1 - After becoming World #1 game went south. Experienced enough on links courses to make a decent showing, but won't win.

Graeme McDowell, 33:1 - Lackluster year with tough rounds. Home cooking should help. Possible, not likely.

Nick Watney, 33:1 - Big adjustment from stateside courses. May impress, won't win.

Steve Stricker, 33:1 - Probably best American chance with control game and coming off Deere win. Possible, but would be huge upset.

Sergio Garcia, 33:1 - Odds seem too high with his game rounding into form and familiarity with links. I'll take him at these prices.

Phil Mickelson, 40:1 - Doesn't play well over here due to aerial game. No reason to expect otherwise this time.

Matt Kuchar, 40:1 - Won't win, but steady play may result in top ten.

Charl Schwartzel, 40:1 - Long odds for a major champ. Wouldn't surprise me with top finish. I won't go so far as to pick him to win though.

Jason Day, 40:1 - Never know. International experience. Second in first two majors. Long shot. Possible.

Padraig Harrington, 40:1 - Would be the pick based on experience. Schizophrenic game of late is a concern. Take a flier at 40:1.

KJ Choi, 40:1 - Not my first choice, or even my third. Still, always surprises. Remote possibility.

Dark horses at 50:1+....... Rose, 50:1, Goosen, 50:1, Poulter, 66:1, Manassero, 66:1, Oosthuizen, 100:1, Quiros, 100:1, Ogilvy, 125:1, Jimenez, 150:1, and longest of shots, but undervalued Tom Watson at 500:1.

Average Golfer Picks for The Open Championship 2011...

1. Westwood
2. Garcia
3. Goosen

There you have 'em. Gratis.

Bet early and often.

Remember, they'll make more.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Looking For The Next Tiger Woods? Found Her.

To be considered a golf prodigy you have to win tournaments at the highest level and do so at a relatively young age. Rory McIlroy pushed his way into the conversation with his third win and first major at last week's US Open. Rory's 22 years old. At 24, Tiger Woods captured his fourth major victory. Annika Sorenstam, with 10 career majors on her trophy shelf, garnered her fourth major at 31. So, to win your fourth major at 22, you'd be considered the quickest starter of all and on a beeline to the Hall of Fame. Welcome Yani Tseng. Tseng trounced the field at the Wegman's LPGA Championship with a -19 final score, fully 10 shots ahead of  runner-up Morgan Pressel. Suzann Pettersen, Paula Creamer, and defending champion Cristie Kerr were locked in a tie for 3rd at -8. Tseng led the tournament wire-to-wire, but saved her best for last with a final round 66 that obliterated any challengers by the turn. It was then a nine hole race for 2nd place. Full Field Final Scores

The US Women's Open will be contested soon, July 7-10, at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, CO. At 7,047 yards, par 71, it will be the longest course in the event's history. Expect the long-hitting Tseng to be the odds on favorite here. The women complete their majors on July 28-31 at Carnoustie for the Ricoh Women's British Open. Guess who defends? Yup, Yani Tseng. It wouldn't be out of the question for her to end her summer with six major trophies under her belt or in her trophy case, such as it were. She's so far ahead of the field, and so young, that it's tough to estimate the kinds of records she may set. In the meantime, enjoy the show.

Remember... They make more.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

2011 US Open Finale - Rorified Air.

To put things in perspective, Jason Day finished the 2011 US Open at -8, with a total of 276, the third lowest in Open history. Rory McIlroy pasted him by 8 strokes. If this had been a fight, they'd have stopped it after the the second round. McIlroy vanquished the ghosts of Augusta and destroyed the field on his way to his 1st major victory in the 2011 US Open at Congressional Country Club. Be assured it won't be his last. He compiled 12 US Open scoring records in addition to snagging the trophy, not the least of which was a -16, 268 final total that rendered all previous Open records irrelevant. At 22 years young, and with a seemingly great head on his shoulders, I'd expect him to still be hoisting trophies long after I've stopped playing.Final Full Field Scores

Who in their right mind could have predicted that the only Americans to finish this year's Open in the top ten would be Robert Garrigus and Kevin Chappell. Before you yell Aberration!, keep in mind that international players have captured the last five majors, 75% of which are held in the good ole' USA. The Schwartzels, McIlroys, and Oosthuizens are clearly better than the Mahans, Kuchars, and Johnsons. A shift in golf supremacy has occurred. The fabric of the game is international now. Mickelson, Stricker, and Woods are aging or injured and their wake has been filled by Euros, South Africans, and Germans. These things tend to work in cycles, so expect shifts in dominance to happen. Regardless, it appears American pros are satisfied with big money for 3rd place, while our international counterparts are interested in winning, knowing that the rewards will be there. Just my opinion.

Although a blow-out, the 2011 US Open was compelling viewing. We got to observe first hand a special young man with special talent enter the conversation of great players. I'd love to know what odds you could have gotten two years ago on the next two winners of the US Open being from Northern Ireland.

Swing hard, look up.

Monday, June 13, 2011

2011 U.S. Open - Odds and Expert Picks

The 2011 version of the strictest test in golf, The US Open, will be contested at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, MD. As per usual we here at Average Golfer will list the betting favorites, comment on their chances, and throw a few picks out there to enhance your wagering prospects. The Robert Trent Jones design, last renovated in 2006 by Rees Jones, will play up to 7,574 yds. and par 71. That makes it the 2nd longest Open in history after Torrey Pines.

Without further ado, here's our synopsis....

Phil Mickelson, 14:1 - After so many Open close calls, Phil's the obvious sentimental choice. His game's been a bit shaky this year and I see him possibly contending on Sunday, but doubt he'll win it.

Lee Westwood, 14:1 - Co-favorite. Been world #1 recently. Rock steady putter needed to win an Open. Not his forte. Don't see it.

Luke Donald, 14:1 - Co-co-favorite. World #1. Has the tools, especially around and on the greens. Rain would hurt with his lack of length on this behemoth. Possible.

Rory McIlroy, 20:1 - If he's in it on Sunday we'll get to see if he's shaken off Masters debacle. Can make birdies in bunches. Possible for him to win if his major championship memory is short.

Dustin Johnson, 25:1 - Long enough. Needs to show a maturity he hasn't shown in previous majors. LaCava on the bag should help. Possible, not likely. 

Nick Watney, 25:1 - Great all around game. Showed gravitas of late on bigger stages. Could win.  

Hunter Mahan, 25:1 - All the tools. Would have to elevate to this stage. Certain aloofness that seems to hold him back. Not this time.   

Matt Kuchar, 25:1 - Guaranteed top ten whenever he tees it up. Like him a lot this week.

Steve Stricker, 25:1 - Perhaps tour's best clutch putter. Game's peaking at the right time. Accurate with great course management. My pick for this year's champ.

Martin Kaymer, 33:1 - Disappeared after becoming world #1. Not sure he desires to be the best. Rather passive demeanor. Maybe next year.

KJ Choi, 33:1 - Loves it here with good reason. Playing very well of late. Can handle slick Open greens. Could win. 

Justin Rose, 50:1 - Seems like long odds on great player. Laser-like iron game. Would tale a lot, but could win.

Graeme McDowell, 50:1 - Uncharacteristic blow-up holes and rounds have cost him this year. Defending champ would require an epiphany and return to last year's game. Too much to ask I'm afraid.

Bubba Watson, 50:1 - Another where odds seem out of whack with performance. Definitely can handle the length. Shown he knows how to win with two this year.Good value bet.

Jim Furyk, 50:1 - Tough to ever count him out, but hasn't been the Furyk of old. Will struggle with length. Won't win.

Jason Day, 50:1 - Nice talent. Hot and cold. Cold too often to win here on this stage.

David Toms, 50:1 - Two months ago I'd have say "No way". Looks like the Toms of old. Distance shortage here won't help. Won't win.


1. Steve Stricker
2. KJ Choi
3. Nick Watney

Dark Horse..... Sergio Garcia

Keep in mind, as a US Open, the field is stuffed with great players. Odds are only estimates by bookies to even out the betting to guard against a catastrophic loss when a ton of money is placed on the winner. As an indication of such, here's some players with a decent shot to win whose odds are 66:1+....... Scott, Schwartzel, Goosen, Ogilvy, Casey, Fowler, Baddeley, Els, Quiros, Garcia, and Yang. Strength of field is what makes this a true championship.

*As per usual, Average Golfer is not responsible for any betting losses and this column is not intended to be a testimonial for any one golfer. Additionally, Average Golfer would expect any winners using this column to profit from said picks to forward a reasonable cut of their winnings. 20% is considered customary. Odds provided by Ladbrokes.

Bet early and often,

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

2011 U.S. Open - Early Odds and Sharp Opinion

June, for a while there I wasn't sure we were going to make it this far. From snow here in May to doomsday predictions, June seemed like the longest of long shots. Regardless, here we are and the 2011 version of the US Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, MD will apparently occur. The venerable British betting house Ladbrokes has an early line. The odds quoted here were as of this morning. I curiously noted however that the US Open board is temporarily down on Ladbrokes site. Perhaps due to the recent withdrawal of said Tiger Woods, who evidently needs more time in the shop before he re-emerges on a golf course. No mind though, we have enough early info to form some strident opinions.   

As of this morning Woods was traded at 14:1. Odds are 1,000:1 that he undergoes a miracle cure and persuades the USGA to re-enter him.    

Phil Mickelson at 12:1 seems to me to be a bit of a sucker bet given his recent play and the need to locate Congressional's stingy fairways from the tee box.

Luke Donald shares lowest odds with Phil at 12:1. Sounds good to me. Donald can dissect a course and that may be the required procedure here.     

Donald's fellow Brit Lee Westwood is listed at 14:1. His putter coupled with Open bathtub greens may spell less than 1st.  

Rory McIlroy's offered at 16:1. His play certainly warrants it and there's only one way to tell if his Masters' scab has healed. Would be interesting to see the lad in the mix on Sunday. 

Dustin Johnson and Martin Kaymer at 25:1.  Wasn't it not that long ago that Kaymer was the World #1? Did it not suit him? Johnson can win any time he tees it up. Hopefully Joe LaCava can show him how to put the stupid decision pills back in the bottle.

It's not often you see the defending champ at 33:1, but that's where Graeme McDowell rests. A statement on the recent condition of his game methinks. Hope he does well. He seems like a genuinely good dude.

Matt Kuchar and Steve Stricker 25:1 Nick Watney 33:1. These beg to be opportunities to make money. Kuchar's an automatic top ten everywhere. Stricker's a pin-seeking, putt-making machine and Watney's tasted victory with a swing that's the sweetest this side of Elkington. Bet 'em all hard.

David Toms at 40:1 may be a wish, but WTH? 

See above for Geoff Ogilvy. Former champ at 40:1.

Feeling risky? Here's a trio at 50:1 that could fatten your wallet. Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, and Sergio Garcia. Oh, BTW, Furyk's won one of these.   

Where does the time go? picks....  Former champs Retief Goosen, 66:1 and Ernie Els, 80:1.   

Extreme value picks.....  Stewart Cink and Jeff Overton at 125:1. Davis Love III and two time winner this year, Mark Wilson, at 200:1.

We'll update as the Open approaches and post Average Golfer's final expert picks on June 13. 

Swing hard, look up,


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Rory McIlroy, Chris (Remember Me?) Riley Share Early Lead at Memorial

Last we heard of Chris Riley, in a familiar sense, was when he was too fatigued to appear for his afternoon matches in the 2004 Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills. 7 years later, a sparkling 66 at Jack's place left him locked with budding superstar Rory McIlroy after the 1st round of The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in Dublin, OH. Negotiating a tough course with a major-like feel in only 25 putts will do that for you. McIlroy followed the same prescription, needing 25 putts on the way to his 66. Chris DiMarco, another blast from the past, held up 2nd with Josh Teater, both recording 67s, -5. 9 players followed with 68s in a group including Rickie Fowler, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, and Rocco Mediate. Fowler's "Sybil-like" round featured 5 bogeys, 7 birdies, and an eagle. Just 4 pars on his card. Notables included Phil Mickelson with a rather pedestrian 72, Fred Couples' 79 that may be injury related, and Kenny Perry's 80, a sign that his tremendous streak in his late 40s has vanished. 1st Round Full Field Scores

Players love The Memorial Tournament. The constant buzz is that it's the best treatment they receive on tour and the golf course condition is second to none. I know they can't play them all, but Kaymer, Westwood, and McDowell would have been well served by being here. After all, it's Jack.

Swing hard, look up,

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Watson Snags Senior PGA Championship

A number of weeks ago I reviewed Tom Watson's new book, The Timeless Swing. Little did I realize then how prophetic it would turn out to be. The 61 year old Watson defeated David Eger on the 1st playoff hole to capture the 82nd Senior PGA Championship at Valhalla. Eger fashioned a superb 67 to Watson's final round 70 to close a 3 stroke deficit at the start of the final round and force the extra hole. They both finished regulation play at -10. Truth is, both missed relatively easy putts on the 72nd hole that if either one had dropped, the playoff would have been unnecessary. It seems no one is immune to major championship pressure.Eger found a fairway bunker with his tee shot, while Watson split the fairway. Advantage Watson. Eger was forced to lay up and Watson's 2nd shot on the par five nestled in a greenside sand trap. Watson calmly played out to about three feet for a birdie and the win. When asked about the winning putt he responded, "Why dawdle. I didn't take much time with the putt. I took one practice stroke and figured, 'Let's get this over with"'.      

Kiyoshi Murota battled back problems stemming from the 3rd round to capture solo 3rd at -9. Hale Irwin, at 65, almost 66 years young, threatened throughout the event. His tough final round 73 placed him in 4th alone at -8. Full Field Final Scores

Watson has indeed proved that a solid, repeatable golf swing can be enjoyed for life. It would be hard not consider him a contender at this year's Open Championship. I'm not Watson's age, but I'm a lot closer to it than Rickie's or Rory's. Guess I'll keep playing.

Swing hard, look up,

Friday, May 27, 2011

Resurgent Sergio Shares Halfway Lead at HP Byron Nelson Championship

Infected fingernail be damned, Sergio Garcia posted a 2nd consecutive 66 to tie Ryan Palmer for the lead after the 2nd round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship. No slight on the Spaniard regarding the injury. Something inflamed under a fingernail would hurt like hell. Gripping a golf club would be one of the worst things you could throw at it. I'm positive I couldn't endure it at half his swing speed. Garcia's return to form had much to do with his putting success. 27 and 28 putts through two rounds are a marked improvement. His confidence from 10 feet in was in direct contrast to the distaste he's shown for those in the recent past. Tee to green, no one's questioned Sergio's ability. Like many, it's the flat iron that's determined his fate. Known as a bit of a brooder, I detected a slight attitude shift in Sergio's play. I saw him smile during today's round. Step in right direction.

Palmer's 65, 67 for a -8 total were remarkable in their own right. He and Garcia were three clear of Tim Petrovic at -5 and four in front of Nick Watney, Joe Ogilvie, Chad Collins, and Scott Piercy. Amateur and high school senior Jordan Spieth was at -3 and impressed all for the second year in a row. Spieth's dilemma for tomorrow is that his latish tee time is in direct conflict with his high school graduation. Something tells me he'll be collecting the sheepskin in absentia. Can't blame him. Final 2nd Round Scores

The weekend in Lord Byron's event should be compelling. If it continues to rain here in Biblical proportions I'll be watching. You should as well.

Swing hard, look up,

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Toms Blinks, KJ Choi Takes Players Championship

David Toms picked the worst possible time for his first miss inside of 5 feet this week. His 3 1/2 foot miscue on the 1st playoff hole gave KJ Choi the 2011 Players Championship trophy. About an hour earlier, Paul Goydos was in the clubhouse at -11, Choi had laid up on the par five 16th. Toms elected to go for it from 240 with a hybrid yanked from his bag. He found water and the accompanying bogey, while Choi made par. All tied. On the first go around on 17 Choi birdied from 10 feet to Toms par, giving him a one stroke advantage into the tough 18th, where only three birdies had been carded all day. Toms' best drive of the day found what was probably the only fairway divot, but he hit a spectacular shot to about 20 feet and dead-centered the putt to force the playoff after Choi's up and down par. His aforementioned miss on 17 closed the deal for Choi. Both players had finished 31 holes for the day after a rain delayed Saturday. They had logged about 12 hours of course time. Graeme McDowell, the third round leader by 1, grabbed an anchor and plummeted 32 spots on the board after an unfortunate 79. Final Full Field Scores

I'm of the strong opinion that TPC Sawgrass is a tricked up mini-putt course and a crapshoot for determining winners. The tour leading 1.7 million dollar purse and lavish exemptions for the winner is certainly a factor in attracting what's always a strong field. I just hate to see players penalized for good shots. Happens a lot here. Still, it can be tolerated once a year and has the reputation for supplying drama. I just don't see it as the 10th major, much less the 5th.

It was great to see a rejuvenated David Toms and KJ, a couple of 40 year olds, duke it out on Sunday. Nice going KJ. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Swing hard, look up,

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

4all Presents 2011 Line of Women's Golf, Tennis, Fitness Apparel

Here at Average Golfer we never expected our first clothing review to be of women's apparel. How in the world did the folks at 4all find out about my propensity to wear women's clothes? Doesn't matter. 4all is a female owned company headed by Joanne Cloak, founder and CEO. Their foray into the crowded sports apparel business is built on the advantage of being designed by women athletes for women athletes. Sounds like a winning formula.

Tested Garment
Since 4all graciously offered a merchandise sample to back up their claims, I had to find a volunteer reviewer. I recruited a woman friend who's a part-time golfer, full-time runner and workout fiend. She's also extremely discriminating in the clothing department. It seemed to a good combination for putting a 4all garment through it's paces. She chose a V-Neck Contrast Tank Top as pictured here. It's in the tennis section of the catalog, but migrates well to almost any activity. After a week long session, long on the workout, and short on the golf, due to never ending snow, the results were in. At first she commented on the great fit, something not always guaranteed with catalog shopping. Second was the comfort level, affording a full range of motion, whether running or working through a cardio session. Clothes that bind can ruin a session. Clothes that are too loose can distract. The 4all top, in her words, was "Just meant to be worn". The third criteria was moisture handling capability. Today's synthetic fabrics leave no reason to feel wet or clammy during a workout. 4all's Dry Jersey fabric met all expectations in the moisture-wicking and breathability departments. In short, all the bases covered, an excellent all around athletic top and a great value for the money.

Check out 4all if you're considering smart, high-performance, and attractive women's gear. You really must visit their catalog site to understand the large range of styles and offerings. Chances are if they don't have it, you don't need it. Tell 'em Average Golfer sent ya'.

* Merchandise for review was supplied to Average Golfer by 4all.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Jim Furyk Partners With Children's Miracle Network, Announces Miracle Birdies

Beginning with this week's tournament, The Heritage in Hilton Head, SC, 2010 PGA Tour Player of the Year Jim Furyk debuts his partnership with Children's Miracle Network. The network is a charity that raises funds for over 170 children's hospitals in North America. Miracle Birdies is a new program where individuals, groups, and sponsors can pledge money every time Furyk makes a birdie during his play in 2011. Importantly, donations are are localized so the money ends up in the person's local hospital.

I must admit I have a parochial interest in this program. My brother John Brancato is a pediatric emergency physician at Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford, CT, a Children's Miracle Network facility. His husband, Thomas Richardson, is Senior Director of Strategic Planning & Development at the hospital. Here's what they and Martha Schall, President of the hospital's Foundation, had to say about being a part of Children's Miracle Network;  

"Children's Miracle Network Hospitals support touches every corner of Connecticut Children's Medical Center.  Those gifts make possible investments in state-of-the-art technology, groundbreaking research and development of new clinical programs that provide care of the highest quality in the most effective and efficient ways possible.

Children's Miracle Network donors number in the thousands every year.  Every donor makes a difference, and we hope every donor remembers we are here for their families and their friends' families, so that every child in our region who has the chance to receive the special care that comes from doctors and nurses who only treat children, and have the comfort of an environment specially designed for children and their families."
There's no better way to invest in our future than through our children, our most precious resource. The golf community has a validated history for charity, so I ask you to consider this cause, as Furyk has, and add to that legacy. 
Here's where you can enroll... Miracle Birdies

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Schwartzel Birdies Last 4 Holes, Takes 2011 Masters

They say the Masters doesn't really start until the back nine on Sunday. At one point on the back nine today there were 5 golfers tied for the lead and a slew more within sniffin' distance.  26 year old Charl Schwartzel put and end to the madness by birdieing the last four holes for a two shot win over Aussies Jason Day and Adam Scott. He finished with a 66 to leave him at -14 for the tourney. Tiger Woods and Geoff Ogilvy carded 67s to place them in the conversation, but four shots shy of Schwartzel and tied with Luke Donald.

Third round leader Rory McIlroy succumbed to the moment with a disastrous back nine 43, falling to T14, ten strokes back. I was going to say he came apart like a $30.00 suit, but remembered he's just 21. I'll take him in all the majors for say, the next 20 years. Too much talent not to. I was particularly taken with McIlroy's classy post-round interview. It must have been difficult under the immediate circumstances. It stood out in complete contrast to Woods' terse, "get me the hell out of here", comments. Woods' front nine 31 had the crowd going his way, but he strangely shot just even par on the birdie-laden back nine. He was leader in the clubhouse, but only for the briefest of tenures. A balky putter did most of the damage highlighted by a 3 foot miss for eagle on 15 that effectively sealed his fate. Adam Scott's chances were jettisoned by an errant 17th hole tee shot. He salvaged par, but Schwartzel's subsequent birdie on the same hole gave him the lead for good. Day and Scott threatened to be the first Australian winner of the Masters. Instead, Schwartzel, South African, won on the 50th anniversary of Gary Player's victory that made him the first foreign champion. Final Full Field Scores

All in all it was a compelling dogfight with any of eight or so players with a chance to win on the back nine. It really wasn't sealed until Schwartzel's bird on the 71st hole of the event. Great way to ring in the golf/major season. Can't wait for the US Open.

Swing hard, look up,