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.

April 9, 2013

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2013 Masters Preview

By: Tyler Vespa

With golf’s first major of the season beginning on Thursday, the world of golf is again owned by Tiger Woods. His third victory of the season at the Arnold Palmer Invitational saw him take over the #1 ranking from Rory McIlroy. Since then, McIlory has been struggling, save for a strong performance this past week at the Valero Texas Open where McIlroy finished with a sizzling 66 the saw him finish alone in 2nd, 2 shots behind winner Martin Laird of Scotland.

Could Ian Poulter take home the green jacket at this year's Masters?

Tiger is the only multiple winner on tour so far in 2013. Only 4 players currently ranked in the top 10 in the world have won on tour in 2013; Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker, and Matt Kuchar.

Since his win at Pebble Beach in early February, 5th-ranked Brandt Snedeker has been battling a rib injury, which sidelined him for over a month. He has since returned from injury, but missed two consecutive cuts at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Shell Houston Open.

With that, here are 7 players who could take home the green jacket come Sunday:

Tiger Woods- 3 wins on tour in 5 starts in 13’, 4- time Masters champion. Enough said.

Phil Mickelson-  1 win on tour in 13’, 3- time Masters champion. Only 1 finish outside the top 10 at Augusta since 1999, that came in 2007.

Lee Westwood- T3 at Augusta in 2012, 2nd in 2010, T11 in 2011, and T11 in 2008.

Justin Rose- 3 top 10’s in 4 starts on tour in 13’. T8 at Augusta in 2012, T11 in 2011, and T5 in 2007.

K.J. Choi- T8 at Augusta in 2011, T4 in 2010 and 3rd in 2004. Solo 6th last week in Texas.

Adam Scott- T8 at Augusta in 2012, and T2 in 2011.

Ian Poulter- 7th at Augusta in 2012, T10 in 2010, and T13 in 2007. 2 top 10’s in 4 starts on tour in 13’.

Tiger is ready to continue his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus. He will make 3 bogeys all week and win this fifth green jacket by 2 shots.

February 19, 2013

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WGC- Accenture Match Play Championship: February Madness

By: Tyler Vespa

The top 64 players in the world of golf will do battle in the only match play event of the season on the PGA Tour; it’s the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

Can Steve Stricker become the third player to win this event multiple times?

The tournament format is set up into 4 brackets; The Sam Snead Bracket, The Gary Player Bracket, The Ben Hogan Bracket and The Bobby Jones Bracket. Each bracket contains 16 golfers. That means the top seed in each bracket plays the 16 seed in each bracket. The world’s number one player, Rory McIlroy will play the 64th player in the world and so forth. In other words, this is golf’s version of the NCAA Tournament. Every swing matters because it’s single elimination.

Coming in to play on February 20th at the Golf Club at Dove Mountain, McIlroy will have now been number one in the world for the last 7 months. He regained the top spot with his victory at the 2012 PGA Championship in Kiawah Island. The Northern Irishmen hasn’t teed it up since missing the cut earlier this year in Abu Dhabi.

The world number two, Tiger Woods also missed the cut in Abu Dhabi to start his year. However, he came back with a win a week later in his PGA Tour debut at Torrey Pines.

With the bracket not finalized, I’m a bit hesitant to deliver my predictions. I’ve filled out a bracket for this event for nearly 10 years, and each year it has been increasingly difficult.

So, I’m going to attempt to do it by process of elimination. Here it goes.

  1. The only man to win this event in back to back years is Tiger Woods. Goodbye Hunter Mahan.
  2. Only two men have won this event multiple times; Tiger Woods and Geoff Ogilvy. So sorry Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson, David Toms and Steve Stricker.
  3. A player outside the top 20 in the world has won only once since 2003.
  4. World Number 4 Brandt Snedeker is out with a rib injury. World Number 10 Phil Mickelson is skipping the event.
  5. An American, an Australian, a Swede, an Englishmen and a Northern Irishmen are the only countries to have had a winner.
  6. Since the course was changed from La Costa Resort and Spa in California to the Golf Club at Dover Mountain (as its now called) in 2007 the United States and England are the only countries to have had multiple winners.
  7. Again, since the course made that change, there’s never been an American against an Englishmen in the final match.
  8. Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson are the only Americans left who have already posted a win in 2013.
  9. Final: Tiger Woods 3&2 over Dustin Johnson

Well that was interesting. I guess a little madness goes a long way. With the win, Tiger Woods will have come a long way to dethrone McIlroy as world number 1.

January 15, 2013

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What I Will Remember About 2012 – Part 2

By: Joe Williams

Every year we see things we never thought we would and things we never want to see again. We see everything from the incredible to the inspiring to the sad and hilarious. Here’s what I will remember about 2012.

To read part one, click here.

July 23 – Penn State became the first school to receive NCAA sanctions because of criminal matters that did not directly deal with breaking NCAA rules. The penalties included a $60 million fine, a four-year ban on postseason play, a reduction of scholarships for the next four years and the vacating of all victories from 1998-2011.

July 31 – Michael Phelps won his 19th Olympic medal, making him the most decorated Olympian ever.

July 31 – The Fierce Five, the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, won gold at the London Olympic Games.

August 2 – Gabby Douglas became the first African-American woman to win the individual all-around competition.

August 5 – Andy Murray bounces back from losing to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final to beat Federer and win the gold medal in front of his home country. He broke through again a month later, winning his first major title at the U.S. Open.

Miguel Cabrera winning baseball's Triple Crown is one of the biggest stories of 2012.

August 9 – Usain Bolt made his claim as the greatest sprinter ever by becoming the first man ever to defend his golds in both the 100m and 200m races.

August 9 – Hope Solo, Alex Morgan and the U.S. women’s soccer team won Olympic gold after a controversial semifinal against Canada and then getting revenge against Japan in the final after the shootout that ended the Women’s World Cup in 2011.

August 10 – The “Dwightmare” finally came to an end when Dwight Howard was traded from the Orlando Magic to the Los Angeles Lakers after months and months of indecision about where he wanted to play and who he wanted to play with.

August 12 – Rory McIlroy wins the PGA Championship. He would follow that with two more wins heading into the Tour Championship and cement himself as the top player in the game.

August 15 – Felix Hernandez threw a perfect game against the Rays and the Mariners won 1-0.

September 7 – In the midst of a pennant race and against his wishes, the Washington Nationals shut down their superstar pitcher Stephan Strasburg after 159 1/3 innings. The Nationals would go on to win the NL East and then lose in the NLDS in five games to the St. Louis Cardinals.

September 15 – The NHL labor dispute officially becomes a lockout.

September 24 – The Replacement refs fiasco came to a head on the final play of the Green Bay/Seattle Monday Night Football game. When the officials turned what sure looked to be an interception and a Green Bay win into a touchdown and a Seattle win, the NFL had no choice to settle the dispute with the regular officials.

September 30 – Team U.S.A. chokes the Ryder Cup away, blowing a 10-6 lead on the final day at Medinah. Justin Rose and Ian Poulter led the charge for Europe while Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk dropped critical 1-Up matches. The comeback almost didn’t happen when Rory McIlroy looked at his tee time in Eastern Time instead of Central time and needed a police escort to arrive at the course with just 10 minutes to spare.

October 3 – Miguel Cabrera goes 0-2 in the Detroit Tigers’ 1-0 win over Kansas City in the regular season finale but still manages to be the first player in 45 years to win the Triple Crown, finishing the season with a .330 average, 44 home runs and 139 RBI. He would be name the American League MVP.

October 10 – New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi pulls Alex Rodriguez in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the ALDS. Raul Ibanez took A-Rod’s place and homered to send the game to extra innings. Ibanez did it again in the 12th inning, giving the Yankees the win.

October 13 – Notre Dame comes up with a goal-line stand, stopping Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor on fourth-and-goal and then survives a controversial replay review to beat Stanford 20-13 in overtime to remain undefeated.

October 13 – The St. Louis Cardinals scored four runs in the ninth inning to stun the Washington Nationals and advance to the NLCS.

October 15 – Trailing 24-0 at halftime in San Diego and staring a 2-4 record in the face, the Denver Broncos score 35 unanswered second-half points to beat the Chargers 35-24 and improve to 3-3. They would not lose again in the regular season and finish with the best record in the AFC.

October 25 – Pablo Sandoval hit three home runs in Game 1 of the World Series on his way to earning the World Series MVP award.

October 28 – The San Francisco Giants completed an improbable run to a second World Series win in two years and did it after trailing 2-0 in a best-of-5 series against Cincinnati and then falling behind 3-1 to St. Louis in the NLCS

November 10 – Texas A&M upsets No. 1 Alabama 29-24, led by its redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel. It was a springboard for Manziel as he led the Aggies to an 11-2 record in their first season in the SEC, a win in the Cotton Bowl and became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.

November 17 – Undefeated Kansas State and Oregon both go down and lose their shot to play for the BCS National Championship. Baylor beat the Wildcats 52-24 and Stanford knocked off the Ducks 17-14 in overtime.

November 21 – Jack Taylor, guard at Grinnell College (Division III), scored an NCAA-record 138 points against Faith Baptist Bible College.

November 22 – Two words…Butt Fumble.

December 1 – Georgia came up five yards short of scoring the game-winning touchdown against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. Alabama hung on for a 32-28 win and a spot in the BCS National Championship Game.

December 8 – Appalachian State’s Brian Okam quickly became known for the worst free throw ever after a video of his miss went viral.

December 16 – Tom Brady leads the Patriots on a furious rally after falling behind 31-3 against the 49ers. After the game was tied at 34, San Francisco retook the lead and won 41-34.

December 30 – Adrian Peterson runs for 199 yards against the Green Bay Packers after already eclipsing 200 yards twice this season, but he came up a mere nine yards short of the single-season rushing record.

November 27, 2012

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Five Who Could Win The World Challenge

By: Tyler Vespa

With the end of each golf season comes the World Challenge. Since 2000, Tiger Woods and the Tiger Woods Foundation have hosted and organized the event. The event began awarding world-ranking points in 2009. Luke Donald just overtook Tiger to become No. 2 in the world with his win a week ago in Japan. Donald won the Dunlop Phoenix Tournament by 5 shots. It was Donald’s first win since May, when he won the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Golf Club in his native England.

Will Ian Poulter win the World Challenge?

Hopefully that is enough incentive for Tiger, who has an opening to regain the No. 2 spot in the world with a victory. With no Donald playing this week in California, I give you 5 players who can win this Sunday at Sherwood Country Club:

1. Tiger Woods- 5-time winner of this event, 4 runner-ups.

2. Graeme McDowell- 1 win and 1 runner-up two of the past three years.

3. Zach Johnson- 2 runner-ups in this event, lost to Tiger in 2011.

4. Jim Furyk- 1 victory at Sherwood Country Club in 2009. No worse than 11th in past 5 appearances.

5. Ian Poulter- Poulter won the WGC-HSBC Champions event in China on November 4th.

I will expect déjà vu at Sherwood Country Club in the 2012 edition. Tiger Woods and Graeme McDowell will go down to the wire, just like in 2010. This time, Tiger Woods will prevail with a birdie on the final hole and win the event back-to-back for the first time since he accomplished the same feat in 2006 and 2007.