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.

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.

August 24, 2012

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Tiger Woods: Scotty Cameron or Bust

By: Tyler Vespa

3 wins and 6 top-10s would be a career year for any other PGA golfer. Not Tiger Woods. Some of Tiger’s putting struggles may be a result of Tiger revamping his swing, however, I believe it has everything to do with the putter itself.

It has now been 2 years since Tiger first started experimenting with a Nike Method putter at the 2010 British Open at St. Andrews, and the results have yielded no under par rounds on a weekend in a major in 2012.

Some of these stats are mind-blowing considering the fact that Tiger is one of the best putters to ever play the game, let alone his clutch factor.

Here are some of Tiger’s putting stats on tour in 2012:

Putting from 10-15 feet: 134th

Putting from 15-20 feet: 182nd

Putting from 15-25 feet: 82nd

Putting from inside 5 feet: 40th

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Here are some of Tiger’s putting stats on tour from 2006:

Putting from 10-15 feet: 46th

Putting from 15-20 feet: 6th

Putting from 15-25 feet: 8th

Putting from inside 5 feet: 28th

Although these are not all of Tiger’s putting stats, these 4 categories are clearly where Tiger used to be untouchable. I referenced 2006 because that year he won 2 majors, and was still 100% loyal to his Scotty Cameron Newport putter. Although Tiger has had a resurgent 2012, his problems on weekends in majors in 2012 were a clear example of his putting woes.

Additionally, these 4 categories cover most of the putts a pro will hit in a round of golf. Bottom line, he’s not scoring as consistently with the Nike Method putter. He’s hitting it just as close on his approach then he ever has, he’s 6th in proximity to hole in 2012, while he was 1st in 2006, meaning his ball striking is not the issue.

Tiger Woods’ future success in major championships depends on putting the Scotty Cameron putter back in the bag.

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.

June 29, 2012

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AT&T National: Tiger Woods heads strong field

By: Tyler Vespa

With the top 3 players in the world either resting or playing overseas, the highest ranked golfer in this year’s field at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland is Tiger Woods, who is ranked 4th in the world. The next highest is American Hunter Mahan at 10th in the world.

Camilo Villegas is in the field this weekend, but didn't make our Top 5 most likely players to win the AT&T National.

That being said, we won’t have to worry about anyone blitzing the field like Rory McIlroy did at last year’s U.S. Open that was also hosted at Congressional, because McIlroy chose not to enter. Along with the field avoiding McIlroy, mother nature is going to rear its head with temperatures reaching nearly 100 degrees, which means the course is going to play firm and fast. Last summer, the event was plagued by rain and played extremely soft for a U.S. Open. This seesaw effect should produce a bunched leaderboard, where it’s going to be anybody’s week.

If I had a crystal ball, here’s how I see this tournament playing out. To start with, I’m going to pencil in a top 5 finish for Tiger Woods. Two wins, along with a positive showing at Olympic are good enough for me. He’s back.  Outside of Tiger, I would keep an eye on a guy like Dustin Johnson mainly because of his length, but also because of his fitness. So fit him in the top 5 as well. Next, it’s going to be an old veteran, who has always had one of the strongest commitment’s to work ethic; that in two words is Vijay Singh.

So, there are 3 of your top 5. For the final 2, I’m going to go by the book. That means Hunter Mahan fits the bill. He is 3rd in the current FedEx Cup standings with 2 wins and 3 top 10’s in 14 starts. Finally, I really like how Jim Furyk is playing right now, he had a share of the 36 hole lead 2 weeks ago at Olympic Club, and in 3 previous starts at this event he was T3 in 2007, T3 in 2008, and T7 in 2009, all of which were hosted at Congressional.

From there we have Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, Vijay Singh, Hunter Mahan, and Jim Furyk. Any one of those 5 could walk off with the trophy come Sunday afternoon. My dark horse for the course is the young Australian Jason Day. The world number 21 has 5 top 25 finishes, and 2 top 10 finishes on tour in 2012, and also was the man who finished runner-up to Rory McIlroy at last year’s U.S. Open at Congressional.