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.

June 11, 2013

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Players To Watch at the U.S. Open

By: Joe Williams

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 Mickelson
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.

Sergio Garcia makes our list of players to watch during the U.S. Open.

Tiger Woods
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.

Webb Simpson
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.

Adam Scott
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.

Rory McIlroy
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.

Matt Kuchar
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 30, 2013

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The 2013 Memorial Tournament

By: Tyler Vespa

It has been 3 weeks since Tiger Woods posted his 4th victory of the season at the Players Championship. During his two-week rest we had another first-time winner in South Korea’s Sang Moon Bae, and 2008 US Ryder Cup fan favorite Boo Weekley, who earned his 3rd career PGA Tour victory at the Crowne Plaza Invitational with a 1 shot victory over Matt Kuchar. It was Weekley’s first win in 5 years. Well played Boo, hope to see you in another Ryder Cup soon.

Can 2011 winner Steve Stricker win another Memorial Tournament?

Atop the world rankings almost nothing has changed. Tiger and Rory McIlroy are still 1 and 2. Adam Scott and Justin Rose are still # 3 and # 4. However, last week on the European Tour was a bit of a shock, as 3 of the top 7 players in the world missed the cut at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. Those 3 players were Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, and Graeme McDowell.

The 9th ranked player in the world Matt Kuchar climbed into 3rd place in the FedEx Cup behind Tiger Woods and Brandt Snedeker after his runner-up finish at the Crowne Plaza last week.

With that here are the 5 players who will contend for the trophy on Sunday afternoon:

  1. Tiger Woods: 4 wins in 7 starts in 13’, Defending champion, 5-time winner of this event. 3 other top 5’s at Muirfield Village.
  2. Matt Kuchar: Runner-up at Memorial in 2011, T8 in 2010, T5 in 2009, and T10 in 2008. Runner-up last week at Crowne Plaza.
  3. Justin Rose: 2010 Memorial Champ, 4 other top 15’s in this event. 4th ranked player in the world, was also runner-up here in 2008.
  4. Lee Westwood: T8 at the Players in his last start in the US and a T9 last week at Wentworth. He’s in that form that left him one shot out of a playoff in the 2008 U.S. Open.
  5. Ernie Els: 2004 Memorial Champ, 5 top 15’s in 7 starts in 13’. 10 top 15’s at the Memorial. Solid T6 last week at Wentworth.

I like Justin Rose to take home the hardware on Sunday. I would love to see him and Tiger in a playoff, but I think Rose beats him by a shot.

April 16, 2013

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Scott Outlasts Field At Augusta

By: Joe Williams

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.

Sergio Garcia started off hot, but couldn't hold on through Sunday.

Monday

Darren Clarke withdrew because of a hamstring injury. 93 players remain in contention.

Wednesday

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.

Thursday

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.

Friday

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.

Saturday

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.

Sunday

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.

Jason Day eagles No. 2, making it a three-way tie for the lead at -8. Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, Sergio Garcia and Steve Stricker are all too far back. 9 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.