PGA Tour Pros Bring Driving Range Music Differences To Twitter

Brendan Steele

                                                                 Brendan Steele

Golf is widely regarded as a quiet sport, fixed on concentration and silence. On the PGA Tour, that apparently doesn’t allow for much audible Drake music on the driving range.

Last week at the Travelers Championship, Will Wilcox was listening to music while practicing on the range, and it was apparently too loud for Brendan Steele.

According to a source close to Wilcox, the 29-year-old golfer was notified when he arrived at the Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia this week. It led Wilcox to Twitter, where he pardoned Steele with the hashtag #whatisthismiddleschool, before accusing him of taking a “tattle tale approach.”

  Will Wilcox ? @willwilcoxgolf

@Brendan_Steele hey dog sorry for upsetting u with that Drake on the range last week

___________________________________________________________________

no dog. It’s the act accordingly

____________________________________________________________________

Will Wilcox ?@willwilcoxgolf   couldve asked me to turn it off an wouldve done so happily

Wilcox tees off at 9 a.m. ET Thursday.
courtesy of Sean Zak (golf.com)

Report: Phil Mickelson linked with illegal $3 million gambling scheme

phil1A report from ESPN’s Outside the Lines on Monday has linked golfer Phil Mickelson with a nearly $3 million sports-betting scheme with an “illegal gambling operation” based outside the United States. The report, which is based on court documents and various sources, notes that Mickelson has not been charged for his alleged involvement, but adds the man who reportedly handled his money pled guilty last week.

According to the article:

A 56-year-old former sports gambling handicapper, acting as a conduit for an offshore gambling operation, pleaded guilty last week to laundering approximately $2.75 million of money that two sources told Outside the Lines belonged to Mickelson.

Gregory Silveira of La Quinta reached an agreement with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to three counts of money laundering of funds from an unnamed “gambling client” of his between February 2010 and February 2013. Sources familiar with the case said Mickelson, who was not named in court documents, is the unnamed “gambling client.” Silveira is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 5 before U.S. District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips and faces up to 60 years in prison, though the sentence will likely be far shorter.

courtesy of Luke Kerr-Dineen (U.S.A. Today Sports)

Cheyenne Woods: Stop Comparing Me to Tiger

cheyenne woodsCheyenne Woods is best known as Tiger Woods’ niece, but the 24-year-old LPGA Tour pro hints at her displeasure with that in a piece published today on Derek Jeter’s Players Tribune.

In an essay titled “What’s in a Name?” the 24-year-old seeks to distance herself from her famous uncle, to whom she is routinely compared.

“How often are you asked personal questions about your uncle?” she writes. “Once a month? Once a year? Never? For me, it happens almost every day. But that’s just kind of how it works when you’re a professional golfer and your uncle happens to be Tiger Woods.”

Cheyenne is the second member of the Woods family to contribute to Jeter’s athlete-centered site. Tiger took issue with a satirical magazine story by legendary journalist Dan Jenkins last year.

Cheyenne earned her LPGA Tour card before this season and has banked $25,431 through 11 events. She’s tied for 39th after the first round of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at the Pinnacle Country Club and is 267th in the Rolex World Rankings.

That exposure has led to more attention, which, naturally, has led to more questions about her famous uncle. Her Players Tribune piece doesn’t explicitly tell writers to stop asking about Tiger — but consider them warned. It seems more designed to distance herself from him and establish what some might call her own brand.

“I’ve had many interactions with reporters where the only topic of conversation was my uncle,” she writes. “This is hardly surprising because, in the golf world, the main question on everyone’s mind is always, ‘Who is the next Tiger Woods?’ — just ask Rory or Jordan Spieth. With me having the name and being related to him, it’s very easy [sic] figure, Well, maybe she’ll dominate the women’s game like Tiger dominated the men’s game when he was her age.”

As Cheyenne hints, that’s a nearly impossible standard to match. Tiger, at 24, had already won three U.S. Amateur championships and two majors.

“Of course, I realize that regardless of what I accomplish in my career, there are probably going to be plenty of people who always consider me ‘Tiger’s niece,’ she writes. “I’m very proud to be related to my uncle, but it’s not what defines me as a golfer or a person. Yes, my last name is Woods — but you can call me Cheyenne.”

courtesy of Matt Newman (golf.com)

LPGA hopeful Brooke Henderson, 17, granted Symetra membership

brooke-henderson-lpga-symetra_t780

Brooke Henderson finally got LPGA commissioner Mike Whan to accept her petition, only it wasn’t for the LPGA. Henderson, 17, became the third-youngest winner on the Symetra Tour June 21 at the Four Winds Invitational. She petitioned to join the tour immediately and will compete in the next two Symetra stops leading up to the U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club.

Henderson had competed twice on the Symetra Tour in 2015, finishing first at Four Winds and tied for second with older sister Brittany at the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic in March. Money from those two events won’t count toward the official money list. The top 10 players on the Symetra money list at season’s end earn their 2016 LPGA cards.

Henderson shot 72-65-69 at Blackthorn Golf Club in South Bend, Ind., for a 10-under 206 total. She finished three shots ahead of Selanee Henderson, no relation.

“It’s amazing to win and I’m so thankful that I got the sponsor’s exemption this week so I’d be able to play with my older sister,” said Henderson. Brittany Henderson is currently 26th on the money list.

Soon after Brooke Henderson tied for fifth at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, she traveled to her native Smiths Falls, Ontario, to compete in a Canadian Women’s Tour event on her home course.

“There were a ton of people,” said Brooke. “We had bigger crowds the last two days than I’ve had at some LPGA tour events.”

Brooke finished second in the two-day event, three strokes behind the LPGA’s Rebecca Lee-Bentham. From there she traveled to South Bend, Ind., for the Symetra event, her second pro event in one week.

“I’ve been busy,” Brooke said, “but I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

In seven starts on the LPGA, Brooke has amassed $317,470 in unofficial earnings. That would place her 20th on the money list. She needs to finish the equivalent of top 40 on the LPGA money list at season’s end to avoid Q-School (unless she wins, of course).

Big purses at the remaining three majors would certainly help, as well as the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open (Aug. 20-23). Henderson is in the U.S. Women’s Open based on her top-10 finish in 2014. She’s expected to receive an invite into the Ricoh Women’s British Open and would play her way into the Evian Championship should she climb into the top 40 of the Rolex Rankings. She’s currently 49th.

Brooke competed three weeks in a row on the LPGA before winning on Sunday in South Bend. Add in the Canadian Tour event and two more Symetra starts and the Women’s Open will be her eighth start in seven weeks.

Should Henderson win twice more on the Symetra Tour, she would be promoted to play on LPGA out of category 13 (for unofficial money).

Henderon’s agent, Kevin Hopkins of IMG, said her schedule will be somewhat fluid after the Women’s Open, with LPGA Monday qualifiers mixed in with Symetra starts.

Henderson has a goal in mind, and she’s well aware that she has limited time to make it happen. Last year, Hee Young Park finished 40th on the money list with $447,658. There’s still work to be done.

“I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else,” said Henderson of her hectic life. “I’m sort of living the dream.”

courtesy of Beth Ann Nichols (Golfweek.com)

 

Greg Norman to Gary Player: ‘Happy to Take a Lie Detector Test’

Greg Norman

Greg Norman

Gary Player wants Greg Norman to take a lie detector test to get his true thoughts on Chambers Bay as a U.S. Open venue, and Norman has agreed.

The controversial design drew criticism from players the entire week, specifically the conditioning of the greens. On Friday’s Fox Sports telecast, Norman, lead analyst for Fox who was covering its first U.S. Open, offered praise of the venue.

“That’s a great sight there,” Norman said. “That’s what it’s all about, this links-style golf. If you get bored looking down, you just have to look out at Puget Sound and you’re going to go, ‘Ah, that’s why I’m out here.'”

The following morning, Player appeared on Golf Channel and offered a monologue on Chambers Bay that ended with Player jokingly offering a challenge to Norman and his colleagues.

“This has been the most unpleasant golf tournament I have ever seen in my life,” Player said before the third round of the Open. “It’s actually a tragedy. It would be a wonderful thing if we could take the announcers and give them a lie detector to see if they are telling the truth on televsion. I’d love to see that.”

Five days later, Norman responded. If Fox Sports wants to telecast Norman taking a lie detector, we’ll watch.

courtesy of Coleman McDowell (golf.com)

Jordan Spieth Has 1% Chance of Winning Grand Slam, says FiveThirtyEight.com

jordan-spieth-grand-slam-bigelow

Now that Jordan Spieth has the first two majors of the year securely in his hands, the Grand Slam watch is in full effect.

Spieth is off to a record-breaking start to 2015, and his career. The still 21-year-old became the second-youngest Masters champion ever with his win in April, one which also saw him tie Tiger Woods for the all-time scoring record at Augusta (-18). By claiming the trophy last week at Chambers Bay, Spieth became the youngest U.S. Open champion since the great Bobby Jones in 1923.

But can he double down and win the final two majors of the year as well? The people at fivethirtyeight.com crunched the numbers and determined that his chances are low…really low. One percent to be exact.

While statistics are not always reliable, especially in an unpredictable and variable-filled game like golf, it does underscore just how monumental of a task winning all four majors in a row is. If Spieth were to accomplish the feat, he would become the very first player to win a professional, calendar-year Grand Slam.

courtesy of Kevin Cunningham (golf.com)

 

Four Ways Chambers Bay Can Get Another U.S. Open

us-open-chambers bay

Sad reality: if Cameron Smith wins the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay this column is moot. Etch Jordan Spieth’s name on the trophy, send a new golfing superstar headed to St. Andrews with a Grand Slam on his mind and highlight a finish for the ages. Voila! Legendary U.S. Open venue.

After a week of so many ups and downs, does Chambers Bay have a major championship life going forward? You bet.

But the place needs to address a few big ticket issues. And there is time. The USGA is committed or close to committing to U.S. Open venues through 2023, with likely trips to more classics in 2024-25.

– Embrace The Region. A vibrant sports town supported the event with exuberance. SeaTacians are not to blame for the lack of grandstand seating throughout the course or that the fake dunes were too fake to be used as stadium mounds. Bulldoze the multiple unnecessary “hummocks” blocking-views and commit to building more grandstands.

– Get There In More Style. Nearly all concerns about commuting to the course did not become an issue other than understandable complaints about the shuttle ride length. For all the talk of trains, figure out the how to deliver 5000 fans each day. And remind everyone that Seattle/Tacoma proved great hosts cities that welcomed visitors with open arms.

Related: The winners and losers from Chambers Bay

– Tweak The Course. Yes, the fescue burned and the course is absurdly extreme in places, but Chambers Bay also rewarded a nice mix of players with just enough reward for the driver to produce a satisfying championship. The weather was superb and the setting other-worldly. But the design has issues. Turn the eighth hole and upper ninth tee areas into a par-3 course below the clubhouse, place a new par-4 8th and 9th on the lower area occupied by corporate tents. Come tournament time, play the first and eighteenth as par-5s in the championship. Then remind everyone of that epic finish and sit tight, because Chambers Bay will be remembered even more fondly in two years when the U.S. Open heads to the severe, remote and massive Erin Hills.

– Solve The Grass Issue. With most of the turf having burned up during the Open, the fescues may not be able to handle the heat and strain of a U.S. Open. Poa Annua isn’t the answer either. How about some bent in the greens mix to help prevent the understandable player complaints? The USGA has a Green Section and no shortage of cash, maybe they can handle this part.

courtesy of Geoff Shackelford (golfdigest.com)

This disjointed U.S. Open has found a unifying figure in Jason Day

jason-day-saturday-560-thumb-560x346-158604

This has been a silent U.S. Open. No more. Now this is Jason Day’s Open. For three days, with galleries spread thin over Chambers Bay’s massive layout, the world’s best golfers have worked in library quiet. Not now. Not after Jason Day made a 6-foot putt at the 18th Saturday.

From the thousands in the bleachers, there came a waterfall’s roar, thunderous and rolling and promising to never end. Those fans knew what they had seen. They had seen a wonder. Jason Day may win this Open tomorrow.

The day before, Day collapsed along the 18th fairway, rose and finished the round before being helped from the course, all but carried to the players’ locker room before leaving the grounds for medical treatment. For years he has dealt with episodes of disorienting vertigo that leave him weak and ill. The question Saturday was not so much how well he would play but whether he would play at all. Yet there he was, on the 18th green Saturday, with that little putt for his third birdie in four holes.

At four-under par for the tournament, Day goes to the Father’s Day round sharing the Open lead with Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, and Brendan Grace.

Did I call it a wonder? Yes, and his mentor/caddie, Colin Swatton, said it better: “It was up there with Tiger Woods playing with a broken leg at the U.S. Open,” which, you may remember, happened in 2008, the last time Woods won a major championship.

So, please, pardon me if I confess to bias, for tomorrow I will root that Jason Day, alone, survives the inevitable train wrecks that turn Open Sundays into such guilty pleasures. We do so love to see the gods brought low with the shaking horrors that strike us every time out. And this Open certainly was on its way to becoming an Open to love. Men four-putted. Gravity allowed balls to roll into deep, dark abysses. There was weeping, gnashing of teeth, and discombobulation. Good heavens, as if to portend a hellish Sunday, smoke rose Saturday from beyond the Lone Fir, suggesting either 1) a Tacoma factory fire, or 2) Ben Martin, a morning contender, setting fire to his worldly goods after committing both a triple bogey and a quadruple on his soul-killing way to an afternoon 86.

But then came Jason Day. He had walked Chambers Bay’s hills. He had walked in the heat of a cloudless day. He was three shots out of the lead at the first tee, and if you watched him there, you wondered if he could perform even the simplest act of professional golf — tee it up. Because vertigo is associated with inner ear problems, Day moved his head slowly and carefully, as if a normal descent to put a peg in the ground would set off the waves of dizziness and nausea that have struck him before.

After 14 holes, he was one-over-par for the day and no longer a name mentioned with the leaders Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, and Brendan Grace.

At the par-3 15th, with a tee in one hand and a club in the other, he bent from the waist — and paused, leaning on the club. He seemed to shake his head that time, as if to re-direct whatever demons danced in his head.

“He didn’t talk much all day,” his playing partner, Kevin Kisner, said, “and that’s not like him at all. I told him if he needed help, let me know. After the seventh hole, he said he was sorry about not talking but he felt terrible. He never said anything more after that.”

At the 15th, playing at 246 yards, he put his tee shot 15 feet away. Made the putt. Made another for birdie at the par-3 17th before coming to the 18th. As Day came off the 18th, he stopped briefly to talk to a reporter. “I didn’t feel that great coming out early,” he said, “and then I felt like — I felt pretty groggy on the front nine just from the drugs that I had in my system, then kind of flushed that out on the back nine.”

For only a moment, though: “But then it kind of came back — the vertigo came back a little bit on the 13th tee box, and then I felt nauseous all day. I started shaking on the 16th tee box and then just tried to get it in, really. Just wanted to get it in.”

He had been there before, only the vertigo wasn’t as bad: “Last year I didn’t play the round after I had vertigo and this one was worse. I think the goal was just go through today and see how it goes.”

“Three birdies in the last four holes,” Kinser said. “He played unbelievable. Leading the tournament. Great. Now he can win it.”

Hope so.

courtesy of Dave Kindred (golfdigest.com)

Sergio Garcia wants everyone to know how bad Chambers Bay’s greens are

blog-sergio-garcia-greens-thThroughout his career, we’ve seen Sergio Garcia complain about everything from getting bad breaks to Augusta National. Yes, he’s actually whined about playing Augusta National.

So it should come as little surprise that Garcia has already found something wrong with Chambers Bay: its putting surfaces. Following an opening 70 at the U.S. Open, the Spaniard took to Twitter and didn’t hold back:

______________________________________________________________________

Sergio Garcia

@TheSergioGarcia

Happy with my Even par round today although it could’ve been a bit better by the way I played but this greens are as bad as the look on TV. I think a championship of the caliber of @usopengolf deserves better quality green surfaces that we have this week but maybe I’m wrong! If my problem is saying what everyone thinks but they don’t have the guts to say it, then I’m guilty of that for sure.

_______________________________________________________________________

As you can imagine, the reactions on Twitter were not favorable. “Win a major, then whine about it,” one person wrote. “Cry harder you baby,” said someone else. And our personal favorite, “Send the wambulance.”

Garcia will play in the afternoon Friday when the greens should be even bumpier. To be exact, his tee time is 2:17 p.m. local in case somebody is coordinating that wambulance.

courtesy of Alex Myers (golfdigest.com)

 

Navigating Chambers Bay in practice a real headache

18th hole Chambers Bay

18th hole Chambers Bay

Figures this would happen at the first U.S. Open held in a state where marijuana use is legal. Practice rounds came to a grinding halt Wednesday because of slow play. Golfers don’t even know which tee to use. They’re wandering around in a daze, as if lost in space.

It’s going to be that kind of U.S. Open. The kind that tests a player’s patience and mental acuity. This is, after all, the national championship. That means you have to be physically perfect and mentally razor sharp. Or else you don’t have a chance.

That makes practice rounds at Chambers Bay unlike those at any other U.S. Open. That’s because the layout is on such a vast scale, with enormous variety and potential for wild differences in course setup from day to day. As Tiger Woods said in reference to the setup choices available to U.S. Golf Association executive director Mike Davis, “none of the players know what Mike is going to do on the different winds and the different days.”

Consider:

Par on the first and 18th holes will shift, depending on wind and whim, with one of them always playing as a par 4 and the other always as a par 5. Small wonder that players in practice rounds are hitting their drive on the 598-yard par-5 hole, then walking up and hitting another drive from the 496-yard par-4 tee. On the 18th hole, running exactly in the opposite direction and partially sharing a fairway, they hit their finishing drive on the 604-yard par-5 18th hole, then walk up and play another drive from the 525-yard par-4 tee. Sound confusing? Just do what Rory McIlroy does.

“I like that they’re going to flip it each day,” he said, “so it retains a par 9 for the two holes.”

That’s nothing compared to the choice on the par-3 ninth hole, where two alternate tees are at right angles from one another, 250 yards apart. Good luck practicing on that one in one round. In fact, no one has tried. From the top tee, 224 yards from the center of the green, the tee shot parachutes 100 feet down to the ground. From the bottom tee, way to the right and 217 yards from the green, the shot plays 20 feet uphill. Phil Mickelson reports having hit “5- to 6-iron” from the high tee and a 5-wood from the lower one. There’s a good hole location front left that can’t be held from the high tee because of excessive slope on that side, but that works well from the low tee. And a back right spot that’s ideal from the high tee that cannot possibly be held when approached from the low tee.

Forget about divulging setup intent before the opening bell. Davis is a firm believer in keeping players on their toes and making them work hard in practice, not just physically. Davis said that players are being tested on “how they think on their feet; how their caddies think.”

That means reading the ground game and going with what the landforms allow. There will be times when the only way to hit it close will be to loft an iron crisply, with perfect spin and hope it doesn’t bounce too far on these extremely firm greens. There will be other times – due to wind, approach angle or hole location – when the only way to get it close will be to pick a spot 70 or 80 feet to the side and bank an approach shot in that runs out toward the hole.

Davis warned players of the complexity of the place and advised them to arrive early for practice rounds. Those who played here a few weeks ago played a course that was slower greener and thus less reactive than the nearly bone-dry one they are playing this week.

All of this means players will have to pay close attention to hole locations, teeing ground and the elements around the exact point at which they must land the ball. Turns out it’s going to be a severe mental test this week.

That makes Chambers Bay no arbitrary toss up. Out here, the head wins.

courtesy of Bradley S. Klein (Golfweek.com)

 

McIlroy points to unique atmosphere of Chambers Bay as motivator

Rory Mcllroy

                        Rory Mcllroy

Chambers Bay is some 2,700 miles from Augusta, Ga., but to Rory McIlroy it feels like another galaxy.

“Much quieter. There was so much hype, so much attention,” McIlroy said. “Compared to Augusta, this feels so much different.”

That’s because unlike the Masters two months ago, McIlroy won’t tee it up at the 115th U.S. Open this week with a chance to win the career Grand Slam. This U.S. Open business is old stuff; he already owns one. Thing is, if he has designs on adding a second one, McIlroy will have to go about things differently than the first time around.

Back in 2011, McIlroy overwhelmed everyone at a water-logged pin cushion called Congressional Country Club, the place so saturated that the kid from Northern Ireland zeroed in at flagsticks all week. He led by six at the halfway point, by eight at 54 holes, and cruised to a record 16-under 268 to win by eight.

Four years later, soft and soggy has been replaced by firm and fast, a change of complexion that McIlroy said suits him. But it’s here in the story that McIlroy tosses some contradictions into the mix, because though he calls Chambers Bay “a pure links golf course,” in the next breath he offers that players would be well-served to hit it far, hit it high to attack elevated greens and realize “you don’t have to run the ball on the ground.”

Akin to saying it’s pure American football, but you don’t have to tackle.

Closer to the truth is this: Chambers Bay feels like a links but will not play like a links, because as McIlroy said, the ball needs to be played in the air because of the many elevated greens. And as one astute observer reminded, “they didn’t move millions of yards of dirt to build St. Andrews,” another reminder that we need to get away from calling Chambers Bay a links.

It’s not.

No offense, young Rory, but to give him his due, let’s focus on two things.

One, the last time we brought one of these big shows to a pure links, McIlroy dominated the field to win the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool last summer.

Two, the last time we played one of these majors at a venue that felt like a links but didn’t play like a links, McIlroy overwhelmed the field to win the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course.

In other words, put aside all the course descriptions and all the various parameters and keep it simple. McIlroy is the best player in the world and feels deserving of that distinction. “I’ve won more majors than anyone else in (the last few years), and I want to go out every week and try to back that up and show that,” he said.

Forget that he missed the cut in each of his last two starts: the Irish Open and BMW PGA Championship. “I think that’s just the way I’m going to be,” he said.

Focus instead on his impressive wins at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship and Wells Fargo Championship. “I’d rather in a six-tournament period have three wins and three missed-cuts than six top 10s. Volatility on golf is actually a good thing.”

As if to prove his point, McIlroy has missed the cut twice, won and been middle of the pack two other times in the last five U.S. Opens. Pure volatility, which makes this week at a question mark of a golf course even more interesting when it comes to McIlroy.

courtesy of Jim McCabe (Golfweek.com)

Six reasons why Tiger Woods will never win another Major

Tiger_Woods

Simply put, Tiger Woods revolutionized the game of golf. He was like no one the game had ever seen, and the masses flocked to watch him play- no, change- the game of golf.

Woods was on television playing golf as a toddler, became the first man ever to win the US Junior amateur multiple times, won the US amateur at a younger age than anyone previously, and stormed onto the PGA Tour in a cyclone.

Woods’ fist-pumping, energetic, aggressive style sent PGA Tour veterans cowering in the corner, and Woods told the world he was here to stay right off the bat with a record-shattering 12-stroke victory in the 1997 Masters.

Woods, then 21, came onto the pro circuit and absolutely embarrassed the field in golf’s most prestigious tournament. Almost immediately thereafter, Augusta National, the host course, began making drastic changes in an effort to “Tiger-proof” the golf course, so such a beatdown wouldn’t happen again.

Spoiler alert: it did. Woods has won there three times since.

And did I mention that Woods is black? In a game where rich white men historically trotted around the course with blacks allowed only to caddie, Woods rocked their world by not only making it on tour, but by owning it.

That same course that implemented structural changes to prevent Tiger from winning didn’t allow black members until 1990, just six years before Tiger made it on tour. It refused women until 2012.

There will never be another player like Tiger Woods. He was so different, so revolutionary, so dominant, so intense; he’s a once-in-a-lifetime player that the world has never seen before and may never see again. Personally, there will never be another player that I idolize more or root for harder. No golfer in my lifetime has ever captured audiences more thoroughly than Eldrick Woods, and for me, none ever will.

Which is why it hurts me so much to realize that it’s all over.

Tiger Woods will not win another major championship. He’s won 14 of them, and ten years ago, it wasn’t a question of if, but rather when, Tiger would break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors.

Too much has changed, too much has gone down for Tiger to be the player and the man he once was, and there are six specific reasons why.

1. Age

This one is obvious: Tiger isn’t getting any younger. Now 38 years old, he’s entering the end of his prime as a golfer. Can he be competitive for several more years? Of course. Jack won at Augusta when he was 46, and Phil Mickelson continues to play at a high level into his 40s.

But with that said, the list of current 40+ players winning regularly is very, very short, if it exists at all.

2. Health

This is closely tied to age, and is much more detrimental to Tiger’s ability. While age is just a number, a bad back is anything but, and that is what ails Woods right now. The knee seems to be fine, but now the back is giving Tiger fits. This type of injury can linger, and derail anyone’s career.

3. Confidence

Did Tiger Woods have the best golf swing when he arrived on tour? Maybe. Did he have the best mental game? Without a shadow of a doubt.

Woods’ advantage was between his ears, as well as between the ears of his competitors. In the early 2000s, when Tiger was plowing through the world’s best players with ease, everyone in the field believed it was Tiger Woods’ championship to win. He had a killer instinct and a will to win that was unparalleled, making him a terrifying competitor with ferocious intensity.

Now, he lacks that same confidence. I’m not sure anyone believes Tiger can win on a weekly basis anymore, and his own failures have allowed doubt to creep in. No golfer can win unless he believes he can.

4. Putting

When Tiger was at his best, he never missed clutch putts. Every putt that had to go in did just that, and at one point he had a streak of something like 1,000 straight putts made inside three feet.

That was before he changed putters. I can’t fault Woods for doing so- the money thrown at him for going to the Nike Method he now uses must have been ridiculous. But since switching from the Scotty Cameron putter he won 13 majors with, he hasn’t won another.

I think the Indian, and not the arrow, is at fault here, but the switch had to rattle Tiger’s confidence even further.

5. New swing

First of all, I think that Tiger’s swing is just as good now as it was when he was winning. However, it isn’t his swing.

Tiger grew up on tour taking wild lashes at the ball, playing a draw on nearly every shot. Now, he’s toned it down for more control, opting for a fade instead.

I like his new swing- it’s more fundamentally sound and will produce more consistently- for most players. But this is Tiger Woods we’re talking about- I’m not sure firing Butch Harmon and switching to Sean Foley as his swing coach was the best move for him.

6. Strength of competition

The PGA Tour has evolved since Tiger got on tour- a great example of this is the purse size, or earnings for players who make the cut in a tournament. Tiger’s first major win- the 1997 Masters- had a purse of $2.7 million, with $486,000 going to the champion.

In 2013, Adam Scott made just shy of $1.5 million for winning, with the total purse being $8 million.

Now, not all of this can be attributed to Woods, but he’s certainly had a hand in popularizing the game throughout the last 20 years. His own doing may be his undoing- as popularity and money have increased, so has his competition. The players are better, parity is at an all-time high, and anyone can win on any given week making it harder for Tiger to do so.

Tiger Woods hasn’t won a major since 2008, when he topped Rocco Mediate and the rest of the US Open field on one leg, limping around Torrey Pines in a stoic manner, determined to get it done at all costs.

Since that day, we haven’t seen that same Tiger- only glimpses of what he once was.

There have been so many moments in Tiger’s career that have left is in shock and awe, that gave us no option but to rise to our feet in amazement. From the ace at 16 in the Arizona desert to the gutty US Open win at Torrey, and everything in between (a certain Augusta chip-in comes to mind), Tiger has been nothing short of unbelievable.

Until he prowls down the 18th fairway, wearing red, tied for the lead once again, I’ll be left with no more than memories of what it was once like to watch the man they call Tiger.

courtesy of Scott Peceny (isportsweb.com)

 

Can a New Reality Show Bring Speed Golf Into the Mainstream?

Crum, the 2014 Speed golf champion, shot a 73 at Bandon Dunes in 44 minutes

Crum, the 2014 Speed golf champion, shot a 73 at Bandon Dunes in 44 minutes

Eri Crum is not a big reality show guy, but he will watch Altered Course Montego Bay, Golf Channel’s zany new offering that premieres on June 15. In the show, eight two-man teams will race against the clock as they take on obstacle-filled holes that measure more than 700 yards. Teams will be judged by the number of strokes and the time it takes them to complete each hole, and they will be winnowed down weekly as they chase the $100,000 first prize.

In other words: speed golf.

Crum, 39, a father of two and a chiropractor who lives in Boise, Idaho, knows a little bit about that aspect of the game. At the 2013 Speedgolf World Championship in Bandon, Ore., the former Stanford golfer shot 73 at Bandon Dunes — in 44 minutes. Take a moment to let that marinate. Also consider that Crum carries just five clubs (driver, 6-iron, 9-iron, sand wedge, putter) so he isn’t weighed down.

Although that round remains a record, Crum’s 80 at Old Macdonald dropped him into second place in the ’13 contest behind Rob Hogan of Northern Ireland. Last fall the order was reversed. Crum shot 76 in 46 minutes at breezy Bandon to win the championship after results of the first round at Old Mac were wiped out due to gale-force winds. (Crum shot 95; no one broke 88.)

“I hope it brings some good attention to speed golf,” Crum says of Altered Course, which will feature among its diverse cast the founder of Speed Golf Iceland, plus Army veterans, exercise freaks and aspiring Ninjas.

Crum continues: “I hope there’s more sport and less drama, which doesn’t usually happen in reality-type shows, but we’ll see.”

A teammate of Tiger Woods at Stanford (both were freshmen in 1994), Crum is used to golf as sport, not sideshow. He turned pro in 1998, entered the PGA Tour qualifying tournament, and was looking good after firing rounds of 73-71-72 just outside Reno. Alas, he blew up with “a 78 or 79” in the final round to miss advancing to the second stage. He played the Teardrop Tour, but reality soon set in: He was no Tiger Woods.

“I went back to school,” Crum says, “got a real job, turned my focus to family and work. But I always kept my passion for golf.”

One day he got a phone call from his father. It was April 2013, and for some reason CBS, on the verge of airing the Masters, showed a tape of the Speedgolf World Championship the previous fall. “My dad said, ‘You ought to look into this,’” Crum recalls. “He said, ‘This is perfect for you.’”

Crum grew up playing golf and hockey in Aspen, Colo., where his athleticism endeared him to then Stanford men’s golf coach Wally Goodwin. (Crum also would play club hockey for the Cardinal.) After moving to Idaho he kept in shape by running 15 to 20 miles a week, biking, playing hockey and chasing around after his daughters, now 7 and 3. He qualified for the Boston Marathon and ran it in three hours.

Sure enough Crum took to speedgolf, which as a mixture of endurance and marksmanship is a bit like biathlon. He entered his first event, in Portland in August 2013, and dominated his age group before shooting his stunning 73 at the World Championship at Bandon that fall.

The funny thing is, he’s better when he rushes. Last summer Crum shot an 83 in a regular (not timed) tournament at his club in Boise. A friend says, and Crum agrees, that speed golf helps him play better by forcing him to think less.

Crum will again be one of the favorites this fall, along with Hogan, who has been developing a new one-handed putting style and has built a lighter, better bag. Competitors — there were 35 last year — will be sent off as singles every six minutes and monitored by one volunteer on the fairway and one on the green. Once again, Crum will travel light.

“Every club adds weight, and you feel it in your bicep,” he says. “It even matters how many balls you take. There are nuances. When you’re running, you sweat, so you wear these rain gloves on both hands that don’t lose their stick. Well, you find out real quickly that if you’re wearing these gloves it’s hard to get the tee out of your pocket, so I carry a tee in my mouth, or behind my ears. There’s a track star who does this, he took silver in the Olympics in 2008, and he developed a headband with a tee holder.”

Crum would like the sport to up its visibility but at press time Golf Channel had no plans to televise the 2015 Speedgolf World Championship. In theory, Altered Course could give executives enough of a taste of speed golf to change their mind. But in reality, as in reality TV, the sport may continue to be left behind.

courtesy of Cameron Morfit (golf.com)

The Golf Blog: Is Tiger Woods “David Duval” done?

woodsAfter repeatedly defending Tiger Woods during his current 7-year major drought, we give up. He just shot his worst round in tournament play, 85–yes, 85 and finished dead last at a venue he’s owned and won at 5 times (the Memorial, Jack Nicklaus’s tourney). For the first time his career, Tiger played alone in the first group on Sunday given his last place standing.

Now on his 4th swing coach (Chris Como) and 4th major swing of his professional career, Tiger has become a shell of his former self. His driver is his nemesis, and the dreaded chipping yips that he overcame at the Masters appear to be back. Nothing in his game seems reliable.

On the Golf Channel, Notah Begay defended his friend Tiger and asked for patience of several more months to judge Tiger’s swing changes. But Tiger’s been working with Como for 8 months already. The results just have not materialized. At times, Tiger looks completely lost.

Others have correctly likened Tiger’s dramatic fall from the top golfer in the world to Seve Ballesteros’s career. Seve had to give up tournament competition because he couldn’t hit his driver straight. We’re also reminded of the more recent example of David Duval, who flamed out after winning his only major, succumbing to injuries and then the inability to recapture his swing.

Perhaps it’s only fitting that Tiger shot his worst round at Jack’s tournament. It was probably the final nail in the coffin in Tiger’s quest to beat Jack’s record of 18 majors. R.I.P.

courtesy of the golf blog

Lee Janzen, 50, and Cole Hammer, 15, among the U.S. Open qualifiers

RIO GRANDE, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 05:  Lee Janzen plays his shot from the 13th tee during round one of the Puerto Rico Open presented by Banco Popular at Trump International Golf Club on March 5, 2015 in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images)

RIO GRANDE, PUERTO RICO – MARCH 05: Lee Janzen plays his shot from the 13th tee during round one of the Puerto Rico Open presented by Banco Popular at Trump International Golf Club on March 5, 2015 in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images)

Two multiple winners of the U.S. Open qualified for next week’s Open at Chambers Bay outside Tacoma, Wash., as did a 15-year-old from Texas and the grandson of a legend.

Two-time Open champions Lee Janzen, who now is playing on the Champions Tour, and South African Retief Goosen qualified in Purchase, N.Y., and Memphis, respectively. Janzen, 50, was the medalist in his qualifier.

Big day. Even played the same tees as all those youngsters,” Janzen Tweeted.

Cole Hammer, 15, who just completed his freshman year in high school, was second in the Dallas qualifier.

Sam Saunders, a PGA Tour rookie and the grandson of Arnold Palmer, earned his second U.S. Open start. Saunders missed the cut in the 2011 Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.

Meanwhile, Fred Couples and Davis Love III both withdrew from their qualifiers. And David Lingmerth, who won the Memorial on Sunday, failed to qualify for the Open on Monday, as did University of Oregon golf coach Casey Martin.

Other notable qualifiers:

  • Luke Donald finished second in the Jupiter, Fla., qualifier, with friend Michael Jordan in his gallery.
  • Amateur Bryson Dechambeau of SMU, who won the NCAA championship, qualified in Columbus, Ohio, in a field that included many PGA Tour players. Besides talent, Dechambeau is known for playing irons that are all an identical length, 37 1/2 inches.
  • Andres Romero holed an eagle chip on his last hole to qualify on the number in Memphis.
  • Beau Hossler, 20, a University of Texas junior-to-be who finished T-29 in the U.S. Open as a 17-year-old in 2012, tied for second in the Newport Beach, Calif., qualifier. Hossler held the outright lead midway through the second round in the ’12 Open at the Olympic Club.

courtesy of John Strege (golfdigest.com)

 

Like it or not? PGA Tour players and golf reviewers critique Chambers Bay prior to 2015 U.S. Open

Chambers Bay Par 3

It’s a yearly tradition: The United States Golf Association and Executive Director Mike Davis getting firmly into the psyches of the world’s best golfers. With 2015 U.S. Open host ChaIt’s a yearly tradition: The United States Golf Association and Executive Director Mike Davis getting firmly into the psyches of the world’s best golfers. With 2015 U.S. Open host Chambers Bay, the USGA voodoo appears to be well ahead of schedule.

It’s a novel, if not experimental concept for the U.S. Open, normally staged on Golden Era designs that are exclusive country clubs. With Chambers Bay, opened in 2007, the massive property that was formerly a sand and gravel quarry will draw record attendance. The course setup can change wildly day to day at the hands of the tournament committee thanks to long, ribbon tees and enormous putting surfaces.

Also unique in 2015, virtually no player will have the benefit of knowing the Robert Trent Jones Jr. design very well. The only other event it has hosted is the 2010 U.S. Amateur (2015 Masters champion Jordan Spieth shot a second-day 83 and missed qualifying for match play). The USGA then took that feedback to continue to develop the ideal test for the main event in 2015.

Davis said he believes players should take it upon themselves to visit the course many times prior to the event.

“I would contend that there is no way a player will have success here at Chambers Bay unless he really studies the golf course and learns it,” Davis said at U.S. Open media day. “The idea of coming in and playing two practice rounds and just walking it and using your yardage book, that person is done, will not win the U.S. Open.”

Some tour players like 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson have scoffed at the notion they have all sorts of free time to go out of their way to study the course. Others have been less than enthused with what they’ve seen. Henrik Stenson called it a “tricked-up links course.” Ryan Palmer had the most flamboyant comments following his visit.

“(Davis’) idea of tee boxes on down hills, up hills and side hills is ridiculous,” Palmer told USA Today’s Steve DiMeglio. “That’s not golf. I don’t care what anybody says. It will get a lot of bad press from the players. It is a joke. I don’t understand it. I just don’t know why they would do it.”

Chambers Bay rated by the daily-fee golfer

Whether or not the tour pros love the venue, regular golfers can revel in the fact Chambers Bay is the latest addition to the USGA’s shift toward publicly accessible U.S. Open venues. But the caveat is that the course has been under a watchful eye of the USGA and constantly tweaked and renovated ever since opening. Temporary greens and other operational interruptions, due in part because Chambers is wall-to-wall fescue grass, which can be tougher to manage than bent grass in the Pacific Northwest, have been a common occurrence, which some golfers haven’t been too happy about after plunking down $150-$200 or more for a round.

On Golf Advisor, Chambers Bay has had 14 reviews since summer 2013. (I played the course back in 2009 as part of a jaunt from Harding Park to Bandon Dunes to Chambers Bay.)

The most negative review on Golf Advisor came in June 2014 from golfer theonlybfc. He felt like a second-class citizen due to nets protecting parts of the fairways and four temp greens and awarded the experience one star.

“The greens were in worse shape than any muni course I have ever played,” he wrote. “Caddy said that we would be seeing seven different green speeds throughout the day, and he was right.”

Perhaps due to a full summer of added grow-in, reviews for the remainder of 2014 were very positive, with little mention of condition issues. Golf Advisor’s own Mike Bailey awarded the experience five stars. Golfer JLandenburg was a staunch defender of Chambers:

“This course is an incredible opportunity to learn a new kind of golf,” the single-digit handicapper wrote. “But many here are simply too closed minded to get it.”

courtesy of Brandon Tucker (golfadvisor.com)