July 22, 2013
Phil Mickelson wins British Open: The highlight of the sports weekend was arguably Phil Mickelson winning his first British Open for his fifth major championship of his career. Mickelson outlasted Tiger Woods, Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, and a host of others with a final round of 66. Stenson finished three shots back (E) for the tournament to claim second place. Lefty will be remembered by many for his numerous second-place finishes, but with five majors now, his reputation should be changing.
AL wins MLB All-Star Game: Major League Baseball held its annual All-Star Game last Monday and the American League won 3-0. That gives the winner of the AL home field advantage over the National League in the World Series. I’ve tried to wrap my head around the thought process of having the All-Star Game winner give home field advantage to their league, but after many years it still doesn’t make sense to me. The rationale, of course, is that baseball wants to make the game ‘mean something’, but what’s wrong with having an All-Star Game that’s purely a scrimmage? The games in the NBA, NFL, and NHL never feature any significant amount of defense and in the end, that’s okay. The World Series team with the best regular season record should have home field advantage. Period.
Eli > Peyton?: When it comes to quarterbacks Eli and Peyton Manning, the older brother is generally regarded as the better player. But with two Super Bowl wins, Eli is gaining on Peyton according to some … including former running back Tiki Barber. Barber not only says that Eli is catching up to Peyton, but better because of his postseason record. While Peyton is only 9-11 in the playoffs, Eli is 8-3. Eli’s two Super Bowl wins also trump Peyton’s one. Really, it’s a valid point. And while I’m not quite ready to call Eli the better sibling because of Peyton’s amazing career statistically, if Eli continues putting up solid numbers for another 5-7 seasons, it may be difficult to deny his greatness.
Welcome back, Charlotte Hornets: The NBA Board of Governors voted to change the Charlotte Bobcats name back to the Charlotte Hornets last week. When the former franchise bolted for New Orleans, they took the Hornets name with them. However, the team just changed their name to the Pelicans and the name became available. Owner Michael Jordan has been trying to get the name back from years and the name change becomes effective in time for the 2014-15 season after this year.
Alex Rodriguez suffers setback: A-Rod, recovering from hip surgery, was hoping to rejoin the New York Yankees this week after a rehab assignment. That changed, though, when the third baseman suffered a quadriceps strain and Rodriguez is now headed for more rehab. Just how much Rodriguez can help the club is very much in question. He’s seen his power decline steadily and while his 18 home runs and a .272 batting average in 2012 were serviceable, Rodriguez is significantly past his prime. But the Yankees, 20th in the majors in scoring runs this year, are probably a bit anxious to see what he can do to help the club that has been overrun with injuries.
Lakers want to land Lebron and/or Melo in 2014: When Lebron James hits free agency in the summer of 2014, he’ll perhaps be the most sought after free agent in the history of the sport. The Lakers are mum on the situation, but according to reports, count them as among the interested parties. Los Angeles is also said to be targeting Carmelo Anthony and rumor has it that the team wants BOTH. That sounds a bit far-fetched – especially if Kobe Bryant is still lacing them up. One could argue that the Miami Heat have been able to pay three superstars, but Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade have minor egos compared to Bryant. Getting those three to play for big pay cuts is one thing but to get them to play alongside each other is something else entirely. And if James wins his third title in a row next year with the Heat, it’s difficult to imagine he wouldn’t be intrigued at the possibility of four in a row with the same team – something Kobe or even Michael Jordan never did.
NCAA to end deal with EA Sports: Big news dropped in the world of video games when the NCAA decided it will not renew a contract with EA Sports after this year. The primary reason is because of a pending lawsuit against the NCAA by players that claim the games use their likenesses without compensation. And really, it’s hard to dispute that as the players in the games bear, shall we say, striking similarities to the players. Still, if you’re into the games, have no fear. There’s too much money to be made and look for a similar game to find its way onto the market in the future. They may not have players that bear the likenesses of teams’ actual players, but surely there will be more collegiate football and basketball games that are produced.
Kobe items top $400,000 at auction: A few months back, Kobe Bryant and his parents were in a struggle over some of the star’s memorabilia. A settlement was reached with the prospective auction company, Goldin Auctions, for most of the items, but several pieces were not pulled back. Five of Bryant’s items fetched a whopping $400,000+ and leading the way was a championship ring given to Kobe’s dad that brought in $174,000. The whole thing has to be embarrassing for the parents. It’s hard to imagine them being that hard up for cash and auctioning off a ring their son bought for them probably wasn’t something they wanted out into the public.
Florida linebacker arrested … for barking at dog: No, seriously – this is a thing. Florida linebacker Antonio Morrison was arrested last week for barking at a dog that was in a police car on a street. Morrison, for his part, claims the dog barked first. Well, okay. Look, Morrison barking at a dog is odd, but stranger still, is that the police felt the need to arrest him. Really, we’re arresting people for barking at animals? That’s not over the top at all. Morrison was also suspended by head coach Will Muschamp for two games but the player’s arrest in June for punching a nightclub bouncer probably had something to do with that decision.
June 13, 2013
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”.
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.
June 11, 2013
The field for our golf national championship has been narrowed down from thousands in qualifying to some 150 players. If you are like me you don’t have time to follow them all so here are the players I’m going to be following when the U.S. Open begins on Thursday:
Phil has suffered my Open heartbreak than maybe anyone in history with his five runner-up finishes. He comes in with three straight rounds in the 60s and a second place finish last week in Memphis. Did you see his approach at 18? He nearly holed it which would have tied the lead. Pulling off a pressure shot like that is the perfect way to build momentum for a major championship.
He’s got four wins already and is back to No. 1 in the world. How will he bounce back from his round of 79 at the Memorial? He’s had a while to think about it and I believe it will be a little added incentive for him to play well this week. It’s now been a full five years since he won a major. The streak has to end sooner or later right? You’ve got to like his chances when the course won’t require much from the driver.
He’s the defending champ. Defending champs rarely contend at the U.S. Open. But he’s got a lot of experience at this course. Will that be an advantage that guides him to contention on Sunday? Maybe. But only four players in the last 100 years have won back-to-back so winning seems like a long shot.
He’s playing with Tiger Woods in the first two rounds and he’s using Tiger’s old caddie. That’s reason enough to keep your eye on Scott. But he’s the current Masters champion and is the only guy in the field with a shot at the grand slam. He should be full of confidence and hasn’t missed a cut this year.
He’ll be the third man in the group with Woods and Scott. He’s had a disappointing season so far and missed the cut last year but he’s got the talent to beat the best in the world by eight shots as we’ve seen him do twice. He may have to duel with Tiger for four straight days to get it done this week.
If it wasn’t for Woods, he’d be leading the money list and the FedEx Cup Points list. He’s coming off a big win at Muirfield Village and he’s put himself on the short list of best players in the world. He has more top 10s than anyone over the last three years and two wins in 2013. All he needs now is a major championship.
Here’s a few more guys that could be worth watching.
Tim Clark – He hits it straight and is a great iron player.
Graeme McDowell – Leads the tour in driving accuracy and has won the U.S. Open before.
Steve Stricker – Unbelievable putter and short iron player and still looking for that first major.
Sergio Garcia – The rivalry with Tiger just won’t go away.
Lee Westwood – He’s running out of chances to finally win a major.
May 8, 2013
Coming into the 40th edition of what some call golf’s “5th major”, there have been two golfers on tour in 2013 that have separated themselves from the field. One of them is not a surprise; it’s Tiger Woods. The other put his name on the front page with his victory at the Masters. Adam Scott became the first Australian to win the green jacket. Since then, the tour had two first time winners in Billy Horschel and David Ernst, and Graeme McDowell, whose world class play was again realized with his win at Harbor Town. With the wind howling, McDowell did what he did at the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, outlasted everybody.
Each year, the Players Championship along with maybe only the U.S. Open is an event where the course is the victor almost every year. The TPC Sawgrass (Stadium Course) is home of the famous island hole, the par 3 17th hole, and yes it’s definitely “Better Than Most”. At just 137 yards, which for a pro is almost always a birdie opportunity, the hole has played to a scoring average of 3.14 since 2003. In case you aren’t convinced, Phil Mickelson has hit 7 balls in the water on the hole since 2003. 11% of the shots hit here since 2003 have found the water. Bob Tway holds the record for most balls in the water since 2003 with 9.
The worst part, your round is not over. You still have to play # 18. The hole is a 447-yard Par 4 dogleg left around a lake. Since 2003, it has ranked as the toughest hole at Sawgrass with a scoring average of 4.34. I liken it to a “horseshoe”, with water in the middle. The problem is the horseshoe is the PGA Tour’s version of Lombard Street.
With that, here are 5 guys who could hold the crystal on Sunday:
April 16, 2013
One mistake can dash your hopes of winning a major championship. The margin for error is smaller at Augusta than anywhere and sometimes the man that claims the green jacket is the one that avoids the major mistake. So in case you missed it, here’s how Adam Scott ended up winning the Masters on Sunday.
94 players qualified for the Masters.
Darren Clarke withdrew because of a hamstring injury. 93 players remain in contention.
Ted Potter Jr. defeats Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar to win the Par 3 Contest. Nobody has ever won the Par 3 and the Masters in the same year. 92 players remain in contention.
Nathan Smith makes the first bogey of the tournament and drops into last place.91 players remain in contention.
Craig Stadler makes an 8 on No. 10. and falls to +6.
Robert Garrigus makes a triple-bogey on No. 12 and falls to +6.
Other players who posted high numbers in the first round: Alan Dunbar, Ben Crenshaw, Ian Woosnam, Hiroyuki Fujita, Thaworn Wiratchant, Tom Watson, Michael Weaver, Branden Grace, Nick Watney, Padraig Harrington, Thorbjorn Olesen. 78 players remain in contention.
With the cut looming, several players played themselves out of contention: Louis Oosthuizen, John Merrick, Ben Curtis, Mike Weir, Nicolas Colsaerts, Ian Poulter, T.J. Vogel, Russell Henley, Kevin Streelman, Francesco Molinari, Steven Fox, and Hunter Mahan. 66 players remain in contention.
Mark O’Meara makes a triple-bogey on No. 18 to miss the cut. 65 players remain in contention.
Jason Day makes birdie on 16 to take the lead at -6 and move the cut line to +4. Jamie Donaldson, Martin Laird, George Coetzee, Matteo Manassero, Y.E. Yang, Larry Mize, Webb Simpson and Graeme McDowell are out.57 players remain in contention.
Tiger Woods receives a controversial two-shot penalty after the rules committee reviewed him taking an illegal drop and signing an incorrect scorecard in the second round. The No. 1 player in the world lost his momentum and dropped to -1, five shots off the lead. Many of the analysts and golfing greats called for Woods to disqualify himself from the tournament. Woods played on, but couldn’t overcome everything going against him. 56 players remain in contention.
Saturday is known as moving day and for some players, who barely made the cut, there was a lot of moving to do and some couldn’t get it going on the first nine. Tianlang Guan, Ryo Ishikawa, Keegan Bradley, Peter Hanson, Sandy Lyle, Carl Pettersson, John Peterson, Michael Thompson, Ryan Moore, Trevor Immelman, Kevin Na, Vijay Singh, Richard Sterne, D.A. Points, Henrik Stenson, 41 players remain in contention.
Others waited for the second nine to fall apart. The 11th hole was especially brutal and claimed big-name players Phil Mickelson (double-bogey), Rory McIlroy (triple-bogey) and Bubba Watson (double-bogey). Thomas Bjorn, Scott Piercy, Lucas Glover, Martin Kaymer, Paul Lawrie, David Lynn, Jose Maria Olazabal, Brian Gay, David Toms, Stewart Cink, John Huh, Ernie Els, Luke Donald, K.J. Choi, Fredrik Jacobson, Bill Haas, Dustin Johnson, John Senden and Charl Schwartzel were all unable to get into position going into the final round. 19 players remain in contention.
Fred Couples makes a bogey and Jason Dufner makes a double-bogey on No. 1. 17 players remain in contention.
Rickie Fowler makes a double-bogey on No. 3. 16 players remain in contention.
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano makes a double-bogey on No. 4. 15 players remain in contention.
Justin Rose makes a bogey on No. 5. 14 players remain in contention.
Bo Van Pelt makes a double-bogey on No. 7. 13 players remain in contention.
Tim Clark makes a double-bogey on No. 5. 8 players remain in contention.
Angel Cabrera makes a birdie on No. 7, while Bernhard Langer bogeys No. 10. Langer and Matt Kuchar are both seven shots off the lead. 6 players remain in contention.
Lee Westwood makes a bogey on No. 13 and is six shots behind. 5 players remain in contention.
Brandt Snedeker puts it in the water on No. 13. 4 players remain in contention.
Mark Leishman hits it in the water on No. 15 and Jason Day makes a birdie. Leishman is now three shots behind. 3 players remain in contention.
Adam Scott birdies No. 18 to finish at -9. Angel Cabrera is in the 18th fairway at -8 and Jason Day is finished at -7. Day is eliminated. 2 players remain in contention.
Angel Cabrera birdies No. 18 to force a playoff with Adam Scott.
Cabrera and Scott both make par on the first playoff hole.
Adam Scott sinks a birdie putt on the second playoff hole after Cabrera’s putt just misses the cup.
Cabrera is eliminated and Adam Scott is your Masters champion.