December 14, 2012

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What Advantage Tom Watson brings as 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain

By: Tyler Vespa

On Thursday evening, 63-year-old Tom Watson became the next captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team. The next Ryder Cup will be contested on September 26th-28th, 2014 at Gleneagles in Scotland.

This decision went against the grain for the PGA of America. David Toms was thought to be a lock and fit the blueprint the PGA looks for, age of 45-50, past Ryder Cup experience, and a major champion.

Bottom line, the victory at Valhalla in 2008 wasn’t enough. Neither were the losses by a single point in 2010 at Celtic Manor and 2012 at Medinah, after a historic meltdown on the final day. Something had to change.

Steve Stricker was a part of the 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup Team that lost in 2012.

With that I give you 5 reasons the selection of Tom Watson gives the U.S. an advantage in Scotland:

  1. He captained the last win on foreign soil in 1993 at the Belfry.
  2. He is a 5-time British Open Champion. 4 of those victories came in Scotland.
  3. He will have the respect of all his team members. He almost won the 2009 British Open again at Turnberry, but lost in a playoff to Stewart Cink.
  4. Won 3 Ryder Cups as member of Team USA (1977, 1981, 1983)
  5. Boasts a 10-4-1 record in Ryder Cup play. That winning percentage trails only one American; Arnold Palmer was 22-8-2.

The game of golf is built around an unmatchable sense of tradition. However, this was nothing short of “elementary” for the PGA of America. Europe has won 7 of the last 9 Ryder Cups played. Close and competitive doesn’t create results. Watson will accept nothing short of victory. With over 365 days until we arrive at Gleneagles, the face of American golf is in good hands.

July 17, 2012

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Players To Watch At The British Open

By: Joe Williams

Once again, it’s PGA major championship time. This week is the British Open which means die-hard golf fans will have to get up in the middle of the night if they want to watch the action live. I’m already tired just thinking about it. In case I forget to set my alarm or just keep hitting the snooze button, here are the guys I am interested in this week. Somebody keep me posted.

Could Ian Poulter win his first Major at the British Open?

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Ernie Els

Getting back to the winners circle has been a struggle for “The Big Easy.” Els hasn’t won since the 2010 South African Open. But he has been putting himself in contention lately and he finished in a tie for third the last time the Open Championship was held at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. The conditions are expected to be similar to 2002 when Els won at Muirfield and this is a course that bodes well for the biggest stars with seven of the nine winners being, like Els, a member of the hall of fame.

Tiger Woods

Tiger is always the guy to watch. He’s the betting favorite, but we don’t know which Tiger will show up. He leads the tour in wins this year with three and is at the top of the money list and FedEx Cup points list, but he hasn’t been “Tiger” in the majors and he missed the cut in his last start at the Greenbriar Classic.

Phil Mickelson

Speaking of guys who missed the cut at the Greenbriar…Lefty hasn’t played well since the beginning of the year. But he did throw down a 64 and 65 last week at the Scottish Open so maybe he’s rounding back into form. Phil doesn’t have many good finishes at the British Open, but he did tie for second last year at Royal St. George’s.  Maybe he has this style of play figured out.

Darren Clarke

He’s the defending champion. He tied for third here in 2001. But he hasn’t played well this year in just five starts. His best finish is a tie for 33rd.

Rory McIlroy

He was the No. 1 ranked player in the world earlier this year but has struggled since; missing the cut four times in his last six starts. But he’s still the new star in golf and has the game to win anytime he tees it up. He does have a major championship on his resume which isn’t a good sign if you go by the results of recent majors with the last 15 all being won by different players.

Zach Johnson

He won the John Deere Classic last week so he will have momentum on his side. But it will be an awfully quick turnaround to go across the Atlantic and adjust to the time change, weather and style of play on the other side of the pond. A win would put him at the top of the money list, FedEx Cup points list and give him a shot at player of the year.

July 12, 2011

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British Open Preview

By: Joe Williams

It’s British Open week, which means you’ll need a 4 a.m. wake-up call if you don’t want to miss any of the action. In most of the world, this is the biggest tournament of the year. It is probably even truer this year with European players holding the top four spots in the world rankings and all the major championships. This tournament is historically the most wide-open of the majors so you never know who will win, but here are a few things to keep in mind.

He’s back

No, not Tiger. Rory McIlroy will tee it up for the first time since his dominating performance at the U.S. Open last month. His Tiger-esque victory at Congressional has the golf world crowning him as the next Tiger Woods. If not for an awful Sunday at Augusta, he could be halfway to a Rory-Slam.

No Tiger

Speaking of Tiger, we don’t know when Woods will return. We know it won’t be this week. He announced on his website that he will not play, but made no mention of when he expected to return. He hasn’t played in months so even if his body has healed, his game may not be ready by next month’s PGA Championship.

Not playing

Several other names you may recognize will not be in the field this week. Frenchman, Thomas Levet earned himself a spot in the Open Championship by winning the French Open. He was injured when he jumped into a lake to celebrate his win and will not play. Vijay Singh and David Toms have also had to withdraw because of injuries. Colin Montgomery failed to qualify for the first time since 1989.

The course

Royal St Georges is not easy. Open Championship winners have finished under par at Royal St Georges just three times. It will play as a par 70 at over 7200 yards from the back tees, a bit longer than 2003 when Ben Curtis won with a total score of 283. Then again, 10 years earlier, Greg Norman won with four rounds in the 60s. Many players have ranked it at the bottom of the courses in the British Open rotation. As always, the weather will factor mightily into how the course plays.

If not Rory, then who

McIlroy is the favorite, but who else could be holding the Claret Jug on Sunday? Phil Mickelson is always one to watch despite his poor record in the British Open. He has just one career top 10 finish. Luke Donald is the No. 1 ranked player in the world and looking for his first major championship win. Lee Westwood has five top-three finishes in the last seven majors. Is this his time? Jason Day finished second at the Masters and the U.S. Open. He’d like to improve by one spot this week.

My pick

Once in a while someone comes from out of nowhere to win this championship, so what about Sergio Garcia? Here’s a guy who has been out of the spotlight for a while and has been playing well.