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.

October 5, 2012

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2014 FIFA WORLD CUP QUALIFYING: Crucial Matches Ahead

By: Tyler Vespa

The United States men’s national soccer team will continue its quest to qualify for the 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP with two matches in the next 12 days. On October 12th, they will travel to North Sound, Antigua to take on an Antigua & Barbuda squad that sits last in Group A with 1 point. Four days later, the Americans will battle Guatemala in Kansas City.

Will the U.S. have Landon Donovan vs. Antigua & Barbuda?

With 2 matches left in the third round of CONCACAF qualifying, the United States sits tied atop Group A with 7 points. Both of these matches are significant considering the fact that Jamaica and Guatemala are also tied for the group lead. Only the top two teams from each group advance to the next round of qualifying.

With execution at a premium, it will be interesting to see who head coach Jurgen Klinsmann calls up for these two matches. In the last qualifying match against Jamaica, he opted for Jose Torres, Graham Zusi, and Danny Williams in place of Jozy Altidore, Kyle Beckerman, and Maurice Edu. If this was still Bob Bradley’s team, Altidore, Beckerman, and Edu are staples for the lineup.

Another important piece is if the U.S. will have the services of Landon Donovan. Donovan missed the last two qualifiers against Jamaica because he was injured. I’m sure with absolutely no room for error, Klinsmann would be relieved to see Donovan on the pitch. Midfielder Michael Bradley echoes the same solace when in the lineup for the Americans. The midfield for the U.S. was average without Bradley against Jamaica.

The Antigua & Barbuda match should be a breeze for the U.S. The Americans defeated them 3-1 on June 8th.  Guatemala will be more of a challenge. The U.S. played them to a 1-1 draw on June 12th in Guatemala City.

June 22, 2012

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U.S. Begins Road To 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP

By: Tyler Vespa

Under the guidance of new head coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team began qualifying for the 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP on June 8 with a 3-1 victory over Antigua & Barbuda, and a 1-1 draw with Guatemala on June 12.

Landon Donovan continues to be one of the stars on the U.S. Men's National Team

Klinsmann, who was born in the little town of Gingen, Germany, was hired as the head coach on July 29, 2011, taking over for Bob Bradley who served as head coach from 2006- 2011.

The Klinsmann era began with much criticism, as the team had four 1-0 defeats to Costa Rica, Belgium, Ecuador and France.

However, this criticism may be another case of “making a mountain out of a molehill” as the U.S. men’s national team has gone 5-1-2, with their only loss this year coming against a 5th-ranked Brazil squad.

In their 3-1 win over Antigua & Barbuda, the U.S. got goals from defender Carlos Bocanegra, midfielder Clint Dempsey, and striker Herculez Gomez.

In their second game of World Cup Qualifying, Clint Dempsey put the U.S. in front 1-0 in the 40th minute with his 27th career international goal. However, Guatemala scored on a free kick from midfielder Marco Papa in the 83rd minute. Although it was just a draw, the U.S. kept their share of the Group A lead in the CONCACAF qualifying region with Jamaica.

On Sept. 7, 2012, the U.S. will continue CONCACAF qualifying when they travel to Kingston with the Group A lead on the line.

May 8, 2012

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Mickelson Deserves Hall Induction

By: Joe Williams

At 41, Phil Mickelson was one of five inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame on Monday. He’s earned it.

Not only because of his four major championships, 40 PGA Tour wins, or the $66 million career earnings. He’s earned it with the way he plays the game and all of the fascinating moments he has given the fans.

Nobody (not even Tiger) adds more intrigue to a leader board than Mickelson because you never know what he will do. Maybe he will birdie five of the last seven holes to win the tournament. Or maybe he will hit his tee shot on the final hole into a hospitality tent and make a double-bogey that costs him the tournament. Either way, it is worth watching.

They call him Phil the Thrill for a reason. He’s regarded by many as having the best short game on tour, in large part to the flop shot he has mastered. His touch and creativity allow him to often, not only attempt, but pull off shots that other players wouldn’t even think of. Here are a few of my favorite Mickelson moments.

1. Of course, the top of the list is the 2004 Masters. In Phil entered the final round tied for the lead and at the end of the day he had a green jacket and was no longer considered the best player without a major championship on his resume. After a back nine where Mickelson made five birdies and was surrounded by players holing out from all over Augusta, he was the last man standing on a day that Jim Nantz called one of the greatest in Masters history. I agree and I think Phil would too.

2. When I heard the Mickelson had an instructional video for your short game, I knew it would be worth watching. What I didn’t know was that he would teach me how to hit the ball straight up and backwards onto the green. It’s an incredibly difficult shot. Even when you know how to do it, I don’t know if anyone but Phil can. If I want to hit one that goes backwards, I’ve got to find a tree to bounce it off of.

3. In 2006, Mickelson arrived at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot looking to win his third straight major, something only Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods have done. He had the lead after 71 holes but committed a colossal mistake on the final hole and finished one shot behind Geoff Ogilvy. I’m not putting this on my list because I’m glad it happened, but it’s another example of the style of play that makes Phil the Thrill so great to watch. Not many guys would have hit driver on that hole. He did. And he paid a steep price for not hitting a good one. This is where we get Phil’s famous “I’m such and idiot” quote.

4. At just 20 and still in college, he won his first PGA Tour event, the Northern Telecom Open, in Tucson as an amateur. It’s a feat that has only been done six times in history and hasn’t been matched since he pulled it off in 1991.

5. When a hailstorm crashes the party as Phil plays the 18th at the 2000 Williams World Challenge, he doesn’t seek shelter like a normal human being would. Instead of trying to putt on a green covered in hail, he pulls out a wedge and chips it in for birdie.

There are my five favorites. I give honorable mention to his PGA Championship win in 2005 and the run he made playing with two drivers in his bag. What are your favorites that I left out?