April 15, 2014

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Breaking Down Bubba Watson’s Win At The Masters

By: Joe Williams

The 2014 Masters began with 98 players in the field. One by one they dropped out of contention until there was one man left on Sunday afternoon. Bubba Watson won his second green jacket in the last three years. In case you missed it, here’s how golf’s first Major of the year went down:

April 1: This is no April Fools joke…Tiger Woods announces that he had surgery on his back and will not play in the Masters. 97 players left.

April 6: Just four days before the Masters begins, Matt Jones wins the Shell Houston Open to take last spot in field. He’s just happy to be in the field. 96 players left.

April 9: The day before the Masters begins, Ryan Moore wins the Par 3 contest. Nobody ever wins both. 95 players left.

Ian Poulter

Ian Poulter made it into the final 15, but couldn't hang on to beat Bubba Watson.

Round 1
1st hole: Brendon de Jonge makes a double-bogey on his first hole ever played at Augusta. Matthew Fitzpatrick, Keegan Bradley and Derek Ernst also walked off the first hole of the tournament at +2. That’s not how you want to start a major. 91 players left.

Front nine: Luke Donald takes an eight on the par-4 ninth hole for a front-nine 43. Graham DeLaet and Craig Stadler fired 42s. 88 players left.

Back nine: Jason Dufner started with nine straight pars but was derailed with a double-bogey at the tenth. He followed that up with three bogeys and a nine on the second side to shoot an 80. Chang-woo Lee, Hideki Matsuyama, Jordan Niebrugge, Ben Crenshaw and Branden Grace all failed to break 80. 82 players left.

Round 2
1st hole:
Graeme McDowell makes a double-bogey. Not the way to start your round. 81 players left.

Front nine: Mark Leishman makes a double-bogey on the 9th hole, dropping five shots in the last six holes. He would go from leading the tournament to missing the cut. Michael McCoy, Peter Hanson, Boo Weekley, Garrick Porteous, Trevor Immelman, Matteo Manassero, Patrick Reed, Ian Woosnam also played poorly on the first nine. 72 players left.

Phil Mickelson makes a triple-bogey at the 12th hole. 71 left.

Rory McIlroy’s second shot on the 13th hit a sprinkler and went well past the green, leading to a bogey on a hole that he desperately needed a birdie to climb back in the mix. This isn’t the kind of luck that major winners get. 70 players left.

Back nine: Tom Watson shoots +9 on the back nine. Tim Clark, Matt Every, Scott Stallings, Y.E. Yang, Roberto Castro, Angel Cabrera, David Lynn, Mark O’Meara, John Huh, Dustin Johnson, Ken Duke, Harris English, D.A. Points, Zach Johnson, Charl Schwartzel, Ernie Els, Sang-Moon Bae and Victor Dubuisson also struggle. 51 players left.

Sergio Garcia and Webb Simpson both finish bogey-bogey to miss the cut by a shot. 49 players left heading into the weekend.

Round 3
1st hole: Nick Watney, Francesco Molinari, and Oliver Goss make double-bogeys. Not what they had in mind for “moving day.” 46 players left.

Front Nine
Brandt Snedeker drops to +2 after a five-putt, quadruple bogey on the 4th hole. Joost Luiten, Darren Clarke, Jose Maria Olazabal, Sandy Lyle, Billy Horschel, Thongchai Jaidee, Martin Kaymer, Thorbjorn Olesen, Hunter Mahan, Vijay Singh, Larry Mize, K.J. Choi, Mike Weir, Stewart Cink, and Henrik Stenson all struggle on the front side. 30 players left.

Back nine: Stephen Gallacher, Lucas Glover, Steven Bowditch, Bill Haas, Jamie Donaldson, Louis Oosthuizen and Bernhard Langer fail to get into contention with one round left to play. 23 players left.

Final round
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano makes bogey on the 1st hole. 22 players left.

Adam Scott bogeys the 2nd and 3rd holes, Steve Stricker makes double-bogey on the 3rd and Russell Henley makes bogey on the 3rd. 19 players left.

Kevin Streelman bogeys holes 3 and 4. Jason Day makes bogey on 4 and Kris Kirk takes a double-bogey the 4th. 16 players left.

Jimmy Walker cards a bogey on the 7th. 15 players left.

Jordan Speith holes sand on the 4th hole to go -7. Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and Gary Woodland are all at +1 and eight shots behind. 11 players left.

Jordan Speith birdies the 7th hole to go -8. At -1, John Senden is too far back. So is Jim Furyk, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Kevin Stadler. 7 players left.

Fred Couples knocks his second shot into the water on 11 and makes a double-bogey. 6 players left.

Rickie Fowler is out after back-to-back bogeys to start the back nine. 5 players left.

Thomas Bjorn makes a bogey on 14. He’s -2 and five shots back. 4 players left.

Matt Kuchar fails to birdie 15 or 16 and trails by four with two holes to go. 3 players left.

Jonas Blixt fails to birdie 17. He trails by three with one to play. 2 players left.

Jordan Speith fails to birdie 17 and Bubba Watson sinks his par putt to take a three shot lead to the final hole. It’s safe to say that Watson has another green jacket at this point. 1 player left to claim the Masters.

April 8, 2014

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8 Players To Watch At The Masters

By: Joe Williams

Finally, Masters week is here. Golf fans have been waiting for about eight months since the last major tournament finished. Sadly, there is no Tiger Woods in the field this week, but there are still some interesting storylines to watch. Here’s eight players that have a great shot at putting on a green jacket on Sunday afternoon.

Sergio Garcia

Can Sergio Garcia win his first major and take home the green jacket?

Adam Scott
He’s playing as well as anybody right now. He is the defending champion. In his last three Masters tournaments, he finished second, eighth and first. If he can finish third or better, he’ll pass Tiger Woods and become the new No. 1 player in the world.

Jason Day
He hasn’t played since winning the Match Play Championship six weeks ago because of a thumb injury. But this dude always seems to play well in the majors. A win will make him the No. 1 player in the world.

Phil Mickelson
He has to be at the top of this list. He almost always plays well at Augusta (14 top 10 finishes in 21 appearances) and did not play well last year. He’ll be looking to get that taste of of his mouth. Did I mention he already has three Masters titles? They all came in even years too.

Henrik Stenson
Here’s another guy that can take over the No. 1 spot in the world rankings this week. He’ll have to win or finish second to get it done though. He’s off to a slow start after an incredible finish last season.

Rory McIlroy
When he is on his game, he laps the field at major championships. (See the U.S. Open (2011) and PGA Championship (2012)). He nearly won the Masters in 2011 and has been playing well so far in 2014.

Sergio Garcia
Will Sergio ever win a major? Two years ago, he said he isn’t good enough. But he’s played well at Augusta. He won the Qatar Masters in February and keeps finishing in the top 20 every time he tees it up. He’ll do it again this week. But can he finish in the top one?

Matt Kuchar
He nearly won in 2012 and was in contention heading into 2013’s final round. He’s due to win a big one. The question for Kuchar is going to be how will he bounce-back after knocking it in the water and then losing in a playoff last week in Houston?

Fred Couples
It seems like every year there is a 50+ player that puts together a couple great rounds and contends at Augusta. Nobody is more likely to do that than Couples. He went 20+ years without missing a Masters cut. He’s been playing well on the Champions Tour. And he’s already got one green jacket. Couples in contention on Sunday would be a huge draw.

October 25, 2013

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Tiger Woods Vs. Rory McIlroy: The Sequel

By: Tyler Vespa

In the inaugural event last year, “The Duel at Jinsha Lake”, Rory McIlroy shot a 67 to edge Tiger Woods by one stroke in Zhengzhou, China.

Last year, Rory was number 1 in the world well Woods was number 2. This year, Tiger Woods is world number 1 again by a large margin. McIlroy has dropped all the way down to world number 6 after a rough 2013.

Neither player won a major in 2013. Tiger Woods has now gone 5 years without winning a major. In 16 events on tour in 2013, McIlroy had 1 runner-up and 5 top 10’s. Woods had 5 wins in 2013 and probably should have won at Augusta if not for an unlucky break.

The sequel to this world-class showdown, “The Match at Mission Hills” should be just as riveting, as both players haven’t seen the competitive landscape in a while. The golf will take place on October 28th at the Blackstone Course at Mission Hills in Haikou, China.

McIlroy hasn’t played since the BMW Championship and Woods not since the Tour Championship.

For me, this is a case of “what have you done for me lately?” Rory has really struggled ever since he signed with Nike. Personally, I hope he figures things out. But in the mean time, I’m taking Tiger by 4 strokes at Mission Hills.

Tiger will shoot 4 under par, and Rory will shoot even par.

August 13, 2013

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Tiger Woods: The Last Time?

By: Tyler Vespa

With his T-40 finish this week at the PGA, Tiger Woods has now gone 5 full seasons without a major. This particular drought is the longest of his nearly unmatched career.

However, not much has changed other than that. He is still number 1 in the world by a wide margin. He has won 5 times this year, and leads the FedEx Cup standings, which would normally guarantee him another player of the year crown, save for the man in 2nd in those standings, Phil Mickelson. Phil’s year would better Tiger’s simply based upon his win at Muirfield.

And for all those convinced he will never surpass Jack’s record of 18 professional major titles, you need only look ahead to 2014. The major venues for next year have been set in stone for a while now. We’ll begin in April as we always do with the Masters at Augusta National where Tiger’s collected 4 of his 14 major titles.

A few months later Pinehurst No. 2 will host the U.S. Open. The last time the U.S. Open was played there in 2005, Tiger finished runner-up to New Zealander Michael Campbell, who has slipped all the way down to 306th in the world. Need I say more.

A month later, the British Open will be held at Royal Liverpool, Hoylake. The last time it was hosted there in 2006, Tiger shot 18-under par, 270 to beat fellow American Chris DiMarco by two shots. In case you forgot, Tiger used one driver off the tee all week.

One year from now, the PGA Championship will be staged at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville. The last time the PGA was held there was in 2000. Yeah, 2000. Wasn’t that? Yeah. “The Tiger Slam”. Tiger beat Bob May in a playoff to win his third major of the season.

That’s ironic. Tiger may not win the “Grand Slam” in 2014, but if he doesn’t, I “fully” expect him to be within a few strokes of doing so. No pun intended.

June 13, 2013

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2013 U.S. OPEN PREVIEW: Your Grandfather’s Open

By: Tyler Vespa

The winner finishes with even par or worse. The rough as high as 3 ½ inches high just a few feet off the fairway.  Tough, right? Now take away the flags on top of the pins and turn them into red woven baskets. Impossible? Well? No. Probably not, but how will you judge wind direction? Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania has a mission: To bring back the “old school” U.S. Open. Between the rough and keeping the woven baskets on top of the pins, Merion will succeed as “golf’s toughest test”.

Will Ian Poulter contend for the 113th U.S. Open?

The 113th edition of this great championship will see many of the game’s most talented players laying up on par 4’s out of the rough. That’s the U.S. Open. Sure, you’ll make some birdies, but how do you turn a double bogey or triple bogey into a bogey, and how do you turn a double bogey or bogey into a great par save?

Some call it grit, some call it grind, but whatever you choose to call it may not matter without will. So, along with asking yourself “what will you do”? you must also have the will to get the job done against all odds.

Now let’s talk about the contenders. Honestly, I’d love to see an amateur win this championship in my lifetime, but Merion just isn’t “open” enough. The beauty of this year’s field is the “long-bomber” versus the short and accurate. Either type of player could hold the trophy come Father’s Day.

With that here are my top 6 players who have the best chance to win the second major of the season:

1. Tiger Woods- 4 wins in 13’, 3-time U.S. Open champion, last in 2008.

2. Phil Mickelson- 1 win in 13’ (Phoenix Open) Shot 67, 65, 67, to finish T2 this past weekend in Memphis.

3. Matt Kuchar- 2 wins in 13’ (The Memorial) (WGC Match Play) T8 at the Masters, 4 other top 10’s, 14 for 14 on cuts made this year.

4. Sergio Garcia- Worst finish this year was a T17 at the Match Play, which means almost nothing. Sergio Garcia has played solid golf every week. Could this be the week it all comes together?

5. Graeme McDowell- 2010 U.S. Open champion. Runner-up last year at Olympic Club. He definitely has the grit to do it again.

6. Nicolas Colsaerts- Look out for “The Muscles from Brussels”. He was T4 last year at Olympic after 3 rounds before fading with a 6-over 76.

One of these 6 players will outlast the field to win America’s National Championship. I would love to see Phil Mickelson win his first U.S. Open. He’s had so many close calls and heartbreaks at this championship. That ends this week; He’s still good enough to win this tournament.