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Archive for February, 2009

WGC goes on; Old School Opens

February 28th, 2009 No comments

“Hooks and Slices” will bring you our view on whats happening in the golf world.

WGC goes on

What a wild tournament! Tiger’s early exit has not detracted from the quality of golf. The WGC Match Play Championship goes on without Tiger. If anyone cares to watch, there is some great golf going on out there in the desert. Here’s our forecast:

Geoff Ogilvy will put an end to the Celtic Tiger’s run. Rory McIlroy has played wonderfully and he looks like a great young kid, but Ogilvy will win the tournament.

Stewart Cink rides that belly putter past Ernie Els.

Justin Leonard outlasts Ross Fisher.

Sean O’Hair, all 120 pounds of him, beats Paul Casey to make it to the finals.

Geoff Ogilvy is our pick to win it all. Really, anyone of the remaining golfers are capable of getting it done. There is plenty of talent there, too bad only the real golf fans will be watching.

Website for “Old School” fans

If you surf the Web long enough, you find something worth it.  Golfbug.TV has many of the past British Opens on video and plenty of other stuff to keep the golf Junkies happy, check it out.

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Tiger Woods is Human, One More Tiger to Go

February 27th, 2009 No comments

“Hooks and Slices” will bring you our view on whats happening in the golf world.

The unthinkable happened yesterday at the WGC Match Play Championships, Tiger Woods lost. Yes, believe it or not he is human. He actually makes bogeys and even hits balls out of bounds like a mere mortal. Tiger started losing it to the right just when Tim Clark birdied three straight at holes 11-13.

No Trophy This Year

No Trophy This Year

Clark has been bogey free for the tournament, was 6 under for 16 holes and closed out Woods 4-2. Woods has 65 career PGA Tour wins, Clark has zero. Tiger is home with his baby by now and Clark is still playing. Match play is a beautiful thing. Clark gets to slay another tiger tomorrow; Rory McIlroy, the Celtic Tiger. McIlroy, the hottest Irish import since Guinness, birdied eighteen to win over Hunter Mahan. He is playing more like a Tiger than a 19 year old in his first WGC event. There were many exciting matches in round two. Phil Mickelson did his best “Ground Hog Day” imitation when he tried to blow a 4 up with 5 to play lead for the second day in a row. Stewart Cink and Lee Westwood went 23 holes before Cink claimed the victory. The hottest golfer may be Camilo Villegas. He has won with scores of 7-6 in round one and dispatched Mr. Cool, Miguel Angel Jimenez, 5-4 in round 2.

Note to the Golf Channel: At least with Tiger Woods on his couch now, the Golf Channel will be forced to show other golfers. It took close to an hour into their broadcast to even get one shot of the Villegas/Jimenez or the McIlroy/Mahan match. There was too much of the boys in the booth, too much of Tiger preparing to play and no need for old footage of Tiger and Clark playing in an old WGC event. There are golfers on the course playing! Why would we need to see old footage? Even with all their focus on the Woods/Clark pairing, they still missed a tee shot of Woods and showed it with the disclaimer, “This was a little earlier.” My God…a recorded Tiger shot! That is probably the first time that happened since he was on the Mike Douglas Show when he was two years old.

Round three has some compelling match ups, and since I was so good predicting round 2, a pathetic 8 of 16, I’ll try may luck with round three. I’m bound to get one right, I hope.

Luke Donald finished strong and I think he will take down Ernie Els.

Phil Mickelson still has enough magic to get past Stewart Cink. I really think Stewart will win, but I am rooting for Phil to find his game for 18 holes.

Jim Fury, one of the steadiest guys on tour will beat Ross Fisher.

Justin Leonard beats Oliver Wilson, not Owen or Luke, Oliver Wilson that is.

Tim Clark makes it two Tigers in a row when he beats Rory McIlroy. He’ll still be hitting into the greens first and still making plenty of birds.

The eventual WGC winner may come from the Ogilvy/Villegas pairing. Spiderman is playing great and all Ogilvy does is win, quietly. It’s a tossup. I’ll go with Ogilvy. Can Villegas stay that hot much longer?

Sean O’ Hair and Ian Poulter are two players with a world of potential. Poulter wins in a close one.

Paul Casey romped in round two and seems ready to keep it going. He beats Peter Hanson to make it to the final four.

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Tiger Wins and Phil Hangs On

February 26th, 2009 No comments

“Hooks and Slices” will bring you our view on whats happening in the golf world.

Yesterday’s first round of the WGC Match Play saw Tiger play well enough to advance, but some rust kept him from closing out Brendon Jones earlier. Number one seeds Padraig Harrington and Sergio Garcia failed to advance. Harrington has struggled all season and Sergio bogeyed the last three holes to choke it away. Here are our predictions for the second round.

Phil “The Thrill” Mickelson will beat “Praise the Lord” Zach Johnson and Phil won’t see a fairway all day. He does it with magic, I swear.

The New and Improved Lee Westwood will knock off Bald is Beautiful Cink.

Davis Love III continues his resurgence, but he has to knock off his good buddy Justin Leonard.

AK shows no signs of jet lag and out plays Oliver Wilson. Is he that guy that was hanging with Kate Hudson before Adam Scott had her on the beach?

The ever consistent Geoff Ogilvy knocks Shingo’s hat off.

The Coolest Guy in Golf, Miguel Angel Jimenez, shows Spiderman what real cool is. Camilo can watch and learn this time.

Stephen Ames, from Trinidad & Tobago via Canada, sends Hanson, Peter, not the boy band, home early.

Paul Casey looks too relaxed to lose. So it’s goodbye to Matthew Goggin, Who?

Luke Donald catches Vijay while he is still rehabilitating. It takes longer to heal when we get older Vijay.

Ernie Els finally made it past the first round. It’s too bad Steve Stricker will end his run.

Hot as heck Pat Perez keeps it going against Ross Fisher.

Jim Furyk takes his loopy swing and beats Martin Kaymer with it.

Tiger shakes off some more rust and out lasts Tim Clark in extra holes. Clark has enough game to push Tiger, but heck, this is Tiger Woods.

The Celtic Tiger, Rory McIlroy, keeps living the dream and knocks out Ryder Cupper Hunter Mahan, setting up a battle of Tigers.

The very dapper, Ian Poulter out duels the not so dapper Charl Schwartzel.

Boo Weekly rides the bull all over Sean O’Hair. Can somebody give O’Hair a cheeseburger, please?

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Tiger Woods is not the Coolest Guy in Golf

February 23rd, 2009 4 comments

We Talk to the Coolest Guy in Golf

The game of golf is a very international game. The top ten players in the World Rankings represent seven different countries. This week at the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship those players and more from all over the globe will meet to decide the match play champion. Tiger Woods is the defending champion and this will mark his return to the tour from his eight month layoff. Last we saw Woods he was battling one of the true characters of the tour, Rocco Mediate. It was an epic battle and Rocco matched Woods’s tenacity and courage with his wit and self deprecating humor. That is one of the intriguing facets of this game; you never know when one of the “characters” will pop up on the leader board and add some color to the tournament. Despite the complaint that so many golfers look and act the same, there are plenty of colorful, interesting and lively characters that roam the fairways sharing their unique and sometime offbeat personalities.

Most of the headlines and stories in golf surround the top players. There is never a shortage of stories on Tiger or Phil or Sergio, but that does not mean they are the best or most interesting stories. Tiger may be the best golfer in the world and I would not argue that he is a great story most of the time. In the measure of the “coolest” golfer, Woods may be the choice of most fans. After all, he is the best golfer, rich beyond comprehension, powerful enough to have his own Gatorade and has a swimsuit model for a wife. That’s a pretty cool life. Unfortunately you can’t buy “cool”. Cool is born. Cool is in the genes. Tiger is pretty cool but it was an acquired cool. My choice for coolest golfer isn’t Tiger, or Camilo, or AK or even Tommy Armour III. It is Miguel Angel Jiménez, the coolest guy in golf.

If you have a chance to see Miguel on the course, you’ll see a man that is self-assured and focused, happy and at ease, and so comfortable with himself that he exudes confidence and composure, but most of all cool. Miguel struts along the course with a bold stride and elegance that tells you he is his own man. He is well known for his trademark ponytail and is easily identified by his profile. He is no flat belly, but rather his physique shows the accumulation of a life well lived. As he walks from shot to shot, shoulders back, head high, he is no longer a golfer, he looks more like a toreador entering the ring.

Miguel caddied as a youth and started playing golf at fifteen, later than most professionals. He is one of seven brothers, turned pro in 1982 and has spent most of his career on the European Tour. He has fifteen career victories and was number four on the European Order of Merit in 1998,’99,’04 and 2008. He enjoys fine wine and fast cars. Miguel is nicknamed the “Mechanic”, but he is more at home behind the wheel of his Ferrari.

Jiménez has played well enough throughout his career to play on three Ryder Cups. He was the oldest member of the European team at the Ryder Cup last year and is looked up to as a true gentlemen and sportsmen by his teammates. He is recognized by his fellow golfers as a man of fierce competitive drive, but at the same time one who displays respect and class at all times.

The Jiménez mystique is well known in the golfing world. He enjoys the finer things; good cigars, great wine, superior food, fast cars and good friends. He denies that he is the coolest, but that is what makes him even cooler; his ambivalence towards any attempt to label him. He is a world class golfer, a husband and father, a unique individual and a true character. He is the coolest guy in golf.

Links Life Golf was fortunate enough to have Miguel answer some questions for us. He does not think he’s cool, but we have to disagree.

Links Life Golf: What are your goals for 2009?

Miguel: My goals are both on and off the golf course and the priority has to be to stay happy and healthy all the time. Certainly I am not getting any younger, so if I am able to continue to win tournaments in 2009 and to compete at the highest level, then that is all I can ask for. I have been involved with tournament promotion in the past couple of years, in particular the Open de Andalucia on the European Tour, so another goal is to continue to put something back into the game of golf that has given me such a great life.

LLG: You were on winning Ryder Cups in 1999 and 2004. What are your feelings on the 2008 cup?

Miguel: I was fortunate to be on the winning Ryder Cup team in 2004, and also the losing team in 1999 and more recently in 2008. Of course it’s always great to be on the successful side, but either way it’s a fantastic event to be a part of, and 2008 in Louisville was no different.

LLG: You always conduct yourself with such class and sportsmanship. Do you feel that this is part of the tradition of golf?

Miguel: Thank you for those nice comments. Yes, I really do feel that to be a true professional sportsman it is paramount to show respect to both your fellow competitors and to the crowd who have come to watch you play. I grew up in the belief that golf should be a gentleman’s game, so I always try to uphold those traditions.

LLG: Has the sportsmanship been taken out of the Ryder Cup?

Miguel: The Ryder Cup will always be a very passionate and competitive event and everyone shows their emotions in different ways. But what’s great about it is that at the end of the week, players from both teams can stand and have a beer together and celebrate a great experience. From my point of view, I played my singles match at Valhalla against Jim Furyk who sealed the Cup for the USA, and he was a true gentleman, as he always is, throughout our match.

LLG: You look so relaxed when you play. How do you do it?

Miguel: I try to remain as relaxed as possible both on and off the golf course. That is just my character, and perhaps the cigar before I tee off helps a little too.

LLG: How are you able to compete with players half your age?

Miguel: So far in my career I have been very fortunate that I have not suffered much with injury. I do go to a gym regularly but probably not with the same intensity as the younger guys do, however my body has always been very flexible and I believe in a good stretching regimen before hitting any balls. I also make sure I have plenty of good Spanish olive oil in my diet which is great for maintaining healthy bones and joints.

LLG: Do you think the Open Championship is your best chance for a major victory?

Miguel: I would be absolutely delighted with any victory in a Major, and The Open Championship would be special, particularly with its great history. Actually I have pretty good record over the years round Augusta at The Masters so who knows, maybe that could be the one?

LLG: Any chance you will be playing more in the United States?

Miguel: My next three tournaments are in the USA. I am playing the WGC Accenture Match Play, followed by the Honda Classic and the WGC-CA Championship in Florida. Apart from the Majors, I am undecided what else I may play (in the) USA, but my focus will continue to remain on the European Tour.

LLG: If the US lifted the ban on Cuban cigars, would that help get you to the states more frequently?

Miguel: No, no, it’s nothing to do with cigars! It is simply that my home Tour is the European Tour and my home is Spain, and I like to travel back home each week after a tournament to spend time relaxing with my family and friends.

LLG: Was this your dream as a kid? Golf, travel, fast cars?

Miguel: Yes, as a teenager I started working at a local golf club as a caddie and when I had a chance I would hit some balls myself. I practiced so much, hoping that one day I could become a professional golfer. Once I gained my Tour card I never had to go back to the Tour School and thankfully things just got better from then on … and the cars got faster and faster! Golf has given me so much and I am very grateful to have achieved so many of my dreams.

LLG: How does it feel to be the coolest guy on tour?

Miguel: Am I the coolest guy on Tour? I am sure some of the young guys must be much cooler than I am!

Thanks to Miguel for his time and a special thanks to Sarah Phillips at MMI Worldwide for making this interview happen.

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Phil Mickelson Wins and Tiger Awaits

February 23rd, 2009 No comments

The Phil Mickelson Butch Harmon experiment has finally worked. Phil Mickelson was able to shoot two amazingly low rounds and then hung on through the final round to repeat as Northern Trust Open champion. Mickelson has not played well so far this season, but he has been convinced that he was close. He finally found enough of his game to hold off Steve Stricker.

After Phil’s second round he called his coach, Butch Harmon, to tell him he sensed something wrong with his swing. Butch flew in and the two of them worked out Phil’s flaws as Phil warmed up before the third round. Whatever Butch told Phil, it worked. He shot a 62 with seven birdies and one eagle, an amazing result after a quick lesson on the range. The timing could not be better. Now it is time to put that game to work and hunt down Tiger Woods.

If Phil has truly found his game he needs to step forward and reclaim his place in the world of golf. He has slipped in the rankings and his last major victory was the 2006 Masters. Tiger Woods has won four majors in that timeframe. Phil’s widow for major victories may be closing. Woods has not had one consistent opponent challenge him during his career. Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and lately Padraig Harrington have all had a period during which they challenged Tiger, but none has had the staying power to be the contender to Woods. Phil is in danger of squandering opportunities to win major tournaments and that is how players like Phil and Tiger measure their success. These guys are the major players in golf and they are both back. We have to hope that there are some head to head battles in the future.

Arnold Palmer won is last major in 1964 at the Masters. He was shut out by a younger Jack Nicklaus and other players like Lee Trevino and Gary Player. Mickelson is in a similar situation. Woods is a favorite in every major. Now, another wave of younger players appears ready to contend for every major championship. Sergio Garcia, Camilo Villegas and Geoff Ogilvy have joined Els, Harrington and Singh as players capable of winning majors and thereby shutting Phil out.

The landscape of golf today is dominated by Tiger Woods. In his day, Jack Nicklaus dominated also, but he had a handful of great players that consistently contended and won major championships. We have been waiting for Phil to be Trevino to Tiger’s Nicklaus. We have longed for a head to head battle reminiscent of Nicklaus and Watson’s “Duel in the Son” in the 1977 British Open. Lately, we have seen many players rise up and win one major and then not win or contend in any other. If Phil has actually found his new Butch Harmon swing, now he needs to put it to use and be the player that faces off against Tiger every time they tee it up. Phil has a chance here to steal the game and the headlines from Tiger and propel himself into the company of legends like Player, Palmer, Watson and Trevino. All those players played second fiddle to Nicklaus on many days, but all of them were able to beat Jack head to head and secure multiple majors. Phil can not waste another opportunity to win a major. To watch Phil and Tiger battle it out face to face in the majors this year would be amazing. It would be great for golf and even better for Phil. If Phil wins a couple more majors with him and Tiger dueling each other his legacy will be more then just a great player who played in the “Tiger Era”.

He will solidify is place in golf history as one of the all time greats. Now, is the time Phil. It is simple; beat Tiger and become a golfing legend.

Note to Phil Mickelson and his tailor. We all understand how Tiger Woods has changed the way golfers prepare themselves. Woods has made everyone else aware of the advantages of being physically fit. Most golfers have increased their work out routines. It is not unusual to see many slimmed down or pumped up players on the course. Phil is one of the guys who aggressively changed his work out routine and drastically changed his body. He is fitter and stronger and obviously in better shape then he was two years ago. However, it looks like Phil has the sleeves on his golf shirts tailored to try and showcase his biceps. The sleeves look taken in and fit tightly around Phil’s arms and look horrible. Some one in Phil’s camp needs to tell him to give it up. We can see you are in better shape. There is no need to alter the sleeves on your shirts. It cheapens the way Phil looks. Forget trying to look like the Hulk, leave the shirts alone. Phil needs to just play golf, win majors and enjoy his wonderful life.

 

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All Tiger, All Weekend

February 21st, 2009 No comments

Welcome to Tiger 24/7, at least til Monday!

As if you didn’t know, Tiger is back! On every sports outlet it’s all Tiger all the time now. Who are we to think any differently. Here are some of Tiger’s best moments on and off the course. This should satisfy our Tiger appetite.

Check out our Tiger and Jack article.

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Tiger, Here’s the Top Ten List!

February 19th, 2009 No comments

“Hooks and Slices” will bring you our view on whats happening in the golf world.

It looks like Mr. Woods is getting closer and closer to being back out on tour. He’s got a future LPGA player and a future PGA player at home that he can train to take over the “family business.” The business has changed a little since you been gone Tiger. While you were away changing diapers the boys on the tour were busy trying to grab a title or two before you came back. Here is how the World Rankings look as you get ready to reclaim your share of the golf market.

Note to Tiger Woods: While you were out…

  1. Tiger Woods: Must have been some lead, no tournaments since June and still in first place.
  2. Sergio Garcia: Sergio may have found his putter. He won at the Players, seconds at the PGA, Barclays and Tour Championship. On the Euro Tour he has a win and two top tens. He still looks hot, but we know what happens when the two of you play together; he melts and you win.
  3. Padraig Harrington: Padraig may have been the most impressive player in your absence. He won back to back Majors; The PGA and the Open. That gave him three of the last six majors. He finished strong last year and has a tie for fifth on the Euro Tour this year. He may be your biggest challenger this year.
  4. Vijay Singh: Vijay is coming back from knee surgery and his stroke average is a shot and a half over last year’s average. I’m sure that doesn’t concern him, because he is confident he’ll play better now that he is healthy. He is only the defending FedEx Cup Champion. To say he finished last year strong is an understatement. He won the Barclays and the Deutsche Bank Championship and had clinched the Cup before the Tour Championship.
  5. Phil Mickelson: Phil may be in trouble. He is having trouble finding his swing and fairways. He has been changing equipment, his swing and has not found the right combination yet. In 2008 his best finishes in his last nine official outings were ties for third and fourth. This season his best finish is a tie for 42nd at the Buick and he missed the cut at the FBR, his old stomping grounds. Phil and Butch need to find it soon.
  6. Henrik Stenson: One of two Swedes in the top ten, yes, that’s correct, two Swedes in the top ten. Stenson has a second and third in five Euro Tour events.
  7. Robert Karlsson: One of two Swedes in the top ten, yes, that’s correct, two Swedes in the top ten. Karlsson is the 2008 European Tour Order of Merit winner.
  8. Geoff Ogilvy: Probably the quietest major champion in recent memory. All he does in sneak in a win here and there. Won the Mercedes to open the season.
  9. Camilo Villegas: He’s a hot player, not only on the course, but with the media and fans. He stepped up in 2008 and won the BMW and the Tour Championship. His last five events in 2008 went, T3,1,1,T3,T5. He has made two of three cuts this year with a tie for third at the Mercedes. He may challenge you for the biggest following by photographers.
  10. Kenny Perry: Yes, Kenny Perry. Perry set some goals last year and he was even shocked with his results. He won three official events and one unofficial event. He has picked up where he left off by winning the FBR this year and making cuts in all four of his tournaments. That’s not bad for a guy that will turn 49 this year.

Other Players of Note:

Anthony Kim: Kim is currently eleventh in the world. He has been channeling Gary Player as an ambassador of golf. Kim is playing all over the world and is a member of both the PGA and the European PGA tours. In addition to the U.S. he has played in Malaysia, Korea, China and Australia. He won at the Wachovia and the AT&T in 2008, and became a hero of the Ryder Cup when he crushed Sergio in singles. You know him, he’s the kid that thought you “won ten majors.”

Rory McIlroy: McIlroy is the darling of the Euro Tour and has just won at Dubai. He is nineteen and is the youngest player in the top twenty. He is currently number sixteen. He has been compared to Tiger Woods by your close friend, Mark O’Meara.

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Haney and Barkley; Ryo and Rory

February 18th, 2009 No comments

Haney to Fix Barkley’s Swing

Hank Haney coaches the best player in the world. Now he is taking on what Tiger has called, possibly the worst swing in the world. In a new Golf Channel series Barkley is tutored by Haney. It may be the challenge of his coaching career. Barkley used to be a good player that shot under 80. Somewhere along the way his swing evolved into a herky-jerky hack that looks like he has been Tasered in mid-swing. Barkley’s swing has been the target jokes and imitation from Tiger to Letterman. He is now focused on regaining his swing and getting back at his old golf partners, Tiger and Michael Jordan. Haney is struck by barkley’s effort,”I’ve never had a student give the kind of effort he’s giving, except for Tiger.” This looks like it could be an entertaining show. Haney has showed us that he is a good coach, but an even better guy, and Barkley is not afraid to make fun of himself and always has a great line or two. Check out a Golf Channel preview.

Japan’s Great Hope

Japan’s latest export to the U.S. is a seventeen year old phenom, Ryo Ishikawa. He may not help our economy but his presence is making the Northern Trust Open interesting. Japanese press are flocking to Riveria Country Club to follow his U.S. debut. If they can give a sponsors exemption to Ryo, why not give one to Rory McIlroy. After all, Rory is a winner, sixteenth in the world and did ask for an exemption but was denied. The two of them playing together would have been terrific. The Northern Trust people missed a great opportunity there. Read more.

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Tiger vs Tiger; Jack Nicklaus Plays Again

February 17th, 2009 No comments

Celtic Tiger versus Tiger Woods

Who is the best teenage golfer today? Those who saw the LPGA SBS Open might say that Michele Wie is. Wie had the lead but faltered down the stretch, but still played well in her first tournament as a card carrying LPGA member. The best teenage golfer has to be the shaggy haired, Irish phenom Rory McIlroy. He has already won on the European Tour and is currently ranked sixteenth in the World Rankings.

McIlroy is being compared to a young Tiger Woods by someone who really knows, Tiger’s close friend and playing partner Mark O’Meara. The Irish Press have started calling him the “Celtic Tiger.” That’s all fine with McIlroy. He’s a big Tiger fan and may even play some practice rounds at the Masters with Woods if O’Meara can broker that deal.

Fortunately, we will not have to wait that long to see McIlroy play here in the U.S. He is playing in next week’s World Golf Championships. With all the golf insiders speculating that Woods will return then, this could be a showdown between Tiger and the Celtic Tiger. Believe it or not Woods is having to face kids that had his poster on their walls and idolized him as they grew up. Yes, Rory McIlroy all grown up at nineteen and ready to take on the best players in the world. Let’s hope O’Meara is right and we see the start of a rivalry with Woods as the old man and Rory as the new Tiger, Celtic Tiger that is.

Jack Nicklaus Plays Again

Some things never change. When Jack Nicklaus plays golf he draws a crowd. He could tee it up at the South Pole on Super Bowl Sunday in the middle of a blizzard and he would have an audience and I don’t mean the penguins. I’d pay to see Jack play until he’s a hundred. Jack played in charity tournament the other day with Player, Watson, Trevino, and Floyd. That’s a bunch of heavy hitters. This current generation of golfers has a long way to go to compare to that group of Hall of Famers. Jack rarely plays in public any longer because he can’t play like the Nicklaus of old. That’s all right Jack. When we see you play we still see the greatest golfer of all time, no matter what you shoot. Read the story.

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Pebble Beach Cut Short; Wie Falls to Stanford

February 15th, 2009 No comments

PGA Tour: The final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am was cancelled today. Strong winds and heavy rain knocked down trees and made the course unsafe for play. Dustin Johnson, who had a four shot lead, was declared the winner. Read more.

LPGA Tour: Michelle Wie contended in the final round of the LPGA’s SBS Open but Angela Stanford had three straight birdies on the backside to pull away from her and the rest of the field. Read more.

Links Life Golf Rookie Watch:

Stacy Lewis finished played well but faded in the last round to finish tied for 20th. Results.

Webb Simpson missed his first cut of the season at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Stats.

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