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Archive for March, 2009

Tiger vs. Jack

March 30th, 2009 1 comment

The world of golf was treated to another dramatic display of eighteenth hole excitement by the worlds best golfer on Sunday. Tiger Woods did it again by dropping a putt in for birdie on the last hole of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It seems that Tiger has done this so often that we all expect it. He is favored in each tournament and it is almost shocking when Tiger does not win.

There is much debate whether Woods or Jack Nicklaus is the most dominant golfer in history. It may appear that Woods is, but Nicklaus still has won more major tournaments and many that saw Nicklaus in his prime are not convinced that Woods is as dominant as Jack was. There is a belief that Tiger does not have the same quality of competition that Nicklaus had to face. Nicklaus had to deal with Palmer, Player, Trevino and Watson. No current golfer appears to be of the stature of those legends. Maybe over the next few years they will distinguish themselves further.

In a study of their major wins, the results may be closer than many think. Tiger won his first major in 1997, The Masters, in his second year on tour. Jack first win was the 1962 US Open. In those twelve years after their first major win their results are surprising close.

From 1962 to 1973 Nicklaus won twelve majors. From 1997 to 2008 Woods won fourteen majors. The total major wins of their competitors was also close.

Woods had six men win multiple majors during those years. Mickelson, Harrington and Singh won three majors each. Goosen, O’Meara and Els had two majors. There were seventeen men that had one major win each.

Nicklaus had five men win multiple majors. Trevino had four, Player and Palmer had three, Jacklin and Boros had two each. There were twenty-one players that won one major.

So, Woods has six players that won fifteen majors. Nicklaus had five players win fourteen majors. There were more single major winners during Nicklaus’s years.

During that same time period, Nicklaus had a total of 52 PGA Tour wins; Woods had a total of 63 PGA wins.

Overall it would appear that the competition may be closer then first thought. Woods has a significant advantage in regular PGA Tour wins but the major win total is relatively close. The quality of the competition that won majors during that time is very close also.

It may be difficult to come to a determination of the more dominant golfer but two things are certain: the debate will continue and Woods will win a few more majors.

Nicklaus 12 Wins 1962-1972 Woods 14 Wins 1997-2008

Trevino 4 Wins                                      Mickelson 3 Wins

Player 3                                             Harrington 3

Palmer 3                                                 Singh 3

Jacklin 2                                                   Goosen 2

Boros 2                                                 O’Meara 2

Els 2

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Tiger Woods and the King All Over Again

March 30th, 2009 No comments

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

Condon/PGA Tour/Getty Images

Condon/PGA Tour/Getty Images

Does it get any more incredible with Tiger Woods? He does it again yesterday with a birdie to win on eighteen. He wasn’t even playing that well. He looked like he was spraying the ball, but he finally found that putter. He was the leader in birdies, putts per round and second in putts per GIR. All he had to do was get it on the green. His habit of sinking putts on eighteen to win at Bay Hill is getting stale. Maybe next year he can eagle it to change things up a little. Tiger looks like he may be ready to reclaim his Masters title, his last win was in 2005. You have to feel for Sean O’ Hair. He’s a great kid but playing with Tiger when he turns it on is a tough on everyone. Let’s hope Phil’s team has him stroking it this week at Houston. Then it’s on to the Masters and a showdown for the ages.

Is there is a person in golf that is more loved than Arnold Palmer? I think not.

I loved Johnny Miller on sixteen asking what the heck Tiger was aiming at with his third shot. All he did was stiff it to three feet. Dan Hicks and Gary Koch had a good point when they were discussing how the players would handle the new groove restrictions next year. They aren’t going to be able to spin it like they were yesterday.

Cheers to Webb Simpson, our PGA rookie, for holing it on seventeen on Saturday. Arnie was watching his fellow Wake Forest man and was thrilled for him.

On the Champions Tour Keith Fergus shot six under over his last seven holes to win at the Cap Cana Championship. That is lights out baby! That Nicklaus course in the Dominican Republic looked like it was dropped right on the edge of the beach. Great scenery and golf right on the ocean, those Champions know how to live.

Karrie Webb shoots a five under 67 to come from behind and win the LPGA tourney in Phoenix. Now we’ll get to see the LPGA for a few weeks, they have the first major of the season this week at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Our LPGA rookie, Stacy Lewis missed the cut.

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Arnold Palmer’s Magic Touch

March 28th, 2009 No comments

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

When the tour comes to Arnie’s place there is never a shortage of great Palmer stories. It seems like every pro and fan has an Arnold Palmer story. Jason Gore is no different. Read how Palmer’s kindness and generosity changed Gore’s life when he stalked Arnold at Latrobe as an eleven year old kid. Gore is playing on a sponsor’s exemption from Arnie and starts the weekend in second place. Looks like Arnie made a good choice and Gore’s life continues to be touched by the King. Check out Jason Gore’s story.

We have been following rookie Webb Simpson all year. After a hot start to the season, he has cooled off a bit. Yesterday he aced the 17th at Arnie’s Bay Hill. Arnie and Simpson are both Wake Forest boys. Maybe some of that Demon Deacon magic is helping Simpson. He made the cut and starts Saturday tied for 27th. Watch Simpson’s ace.

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Arnold Palmer’s Big Break

March 26th, 2009 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

The Arnold Palmer Invitational is a great week of golf. It is played on an excellent course, Bay Hill which is owned by Arnold Palmer. The early rounds are televised by The Golf Channel, which Arnold Palmer started years ago. It has a very good field of golfers, recruited and invited by Arnold Palmer. All this gives us a chance to enjoy something that we can never really get our fill of, and that’s the host Arnold Palmer. He is our golfing treasure. Many golfers have been respected and revered over the years but none has been as loved as Arnie. From the first members of Arnie’s Army in 1959 to the thousands that still ask for an autograph or a handshake today, he is loved like no other. He is as genuine as a man can be and still speaks from his heart no matter the subject.

During Thursday’s telecast on the Golf Channel, Palmer was chatting with Golf Channel hosts Kelly Tilghman and Brandel Chamblee. Chamblee is usually interesting and insightful with his comments and today was no different. He was discussing with Palmer how Arnold and his tournament had a proud history of inviting young and lesser known golfers to play and thereby giving them a break, a chance to compete in a PGA tournament. Chamblee then asked Palmer what his big break was.

Arnie thought for a second, and then said,” I guess winning the 1954 National Amateur was my break. That made me exempt into the pro tour.” How times have changed. The Amatuer Champion was given an exemption into the PGA Tour. That was the last year that exemption was given. Palmer certainly took advantage of that break. Arnold won the U.S. Amateur at the Country Club of Detroit against a field that included some of the best amateurs of the day. Many of them like Billy Joe Patton and Frank Stranahan played well enough to compete with the pros on the tour back then. Shortly after that Palmer officially turned professional and started playing the tour in 1955.

Palmer tells how he drove from tournament to tournament pulling his travel trailer so his wife Winnie and he could save money on hotels. The tour was a different place back then. The touring pros, even the great ones like Hogan, still had club pro jobs so they could earn a decent living.

Palmer played in many tournaments in 1955, earning money in fifteen of them. His first check was for $900 at Panama Golf Course. He finished out of the money plenty of times but still managed to cash checks; $520, $115, $242….not quite the pot of gold, but he was playing golf. That was all he ever wanted to do. His year included a tenth place finish at the Masters for which he won $696. He finally made his own break when he won the prestigious Canadian Open. For that win he pocketed $2400. The win gave him another exemption onto the PGA Tour and the legend of the King began. He could afford to park the trailer.

In 1955 Arnold Palmer earned $8,974 on the PGA Tour. This year Webb Simpson, a rookie and a Wake Forest man like Palmer, has earned $401,894, in seven tournaments. Times certainly have changed on the tour.

Professional golfers throughout the world owe Arnold Palmer a thank you. He earned a big break back when he was young and he keeps trying to pass it along to the many golfers he invites to his tournament. It’s one of the ways he keeps giving back to the game and just one of the many reasons we still love the King.

 

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Long Live the King!

March 26th, 2009 No comments

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

Arnold Palmer welcomes the tour to his Bay Hill Club this week. There is a pretty good field and no shortage of great golfers and good stories to watch this week. The King knows how to put on a tournament and the players respect Palmer as much as anyone in golf.

Tiger is back, defending and looking for his sixth win at Bay Hill. After last year’s finish, would we be surprised if he won again?

Nick Watney is having a breakout year and is still hot.

Can Retief Goosen go back to back? If that putter stays hot he’ll be around on Sunday.

David Toms is playing too good to be missing a win this year. He leads the tour in scoring average and all-around. He has three top tens and is ready to take home a trophy.

If Arnie is the King, then Erik Compton is the King of Hearts. You heard the story; Erik is competing in his fourth tour event after his second heart transplant last May. There isn’t a better story in sports.

Our favorite “regular guys” are in the field this week, Rocco Mediate and Paul Goydos. These two will give you more one liners than Leno and Letterman.

Don’t forget the European Tour is in Spain this week. The Coolest Guy in Golf, Miguel Angel Jimenez, is hosting the Open de Andalucia de Golf ’09. Jose Maria Olazabal and Colin Montgomerie are in a good European field.

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Tiger Plays for Arnie, So Does Adam

March 25th, 2009 No comments

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

Can Tiger and Phil Come out and Play…Please?

How does the tour get its marquee players (Tiger and Phil) to participate in more events? The question is still being debated: Should the PGA Tour make the players appear in more or all of its events? Fred Couples thinks it might work in some form. Tom Lehman thinks it would be a real chore to get players to commit. Paul Goydos has no sympathy for a player being asked to play in more tournaments that feature a six million dollar purse. This is a very sensitive and complex issue. How can you force a player into a tournament the week before a major if that player never competes prior to a Major? Maybe the tour should consider rotating the dates of some of the tournaments to put them in a more desirable week on the tour schedule. Tim Finchem is exploring the issue, and he has already asked players to consider playing more events and to be more accessible to fans. He also said,” The problem today is that we have too many good tournaments. We caused our own problem.” Finchem is right. Robert Allenby finished 2008 as the eleventh leading money leader on the PGA Tour. He was the highest ranked player without a win; he played in 28 events, making 27 cuts. Allenby had nine top ten finishes and won $3,606,700. That’s a pretty good paycheck for half a year of work. Can Tiger and Phil Come out and Play…Please? Damon Hack in Golf.com

Arnie Welcomes Tiger and the Boys

The tour moves over to Arnold Palmer’s place at Bay Hill this week. Tiger is back and he would love to repeat as champion. He certainly could not live with himself if he went 0-3 to start this season. Adam Scott is back in the Bay Hill field after a two year absence. The reason he came back; Arnie asked him to. That’s how you get players to play in the tournaments, get a legend to put the squeeze on them. How can anyone say no to the King? Tiger sank a great putt to win last year but there were some other memorable shots at Arnie’s place. Check out this video.



 

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First Sunday in April: The Masters

March 24th, 2009 No comments

First Sunday in April: The Masters, Book Review

Even though there has been plenty of golf played already this year, the real start to the season is right around the corner. Every year the golf season really begins in April with the start of the Masters Tournament. The Masters is the first major tournament of the season and the professionals try to get their games to peak for what many call the best tournament of the year. The Masters has a special atmosphere that surrounds it. It is like no other major. It is loved and revered for its history and traditions and is the most popular golf tournament in the world. Golfing professionals and everyday fans have fallen in love with Augusta National and all it brings to us in that first week of April every year. It is that love affair with the Masters, Augusta and its people that is captured in The First Sunday in April: the Masters.

This book is actually a collection stories, magazine articles, essays and newspaper accounts of the Masters and the characters involved with it. It has pieces from many of the most highly regarded golf writers; Herbert Warren Wind, Dan Jenkins and John Feinstein, Dave Anderson and Rick Reilly. It includes excerpts from books of many of the greatest players; Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Byron Nelson and Lee Trevino.

The writers, players and fans are all united in their affection for the Masters. The course and the tournament, the atmosphere and traditions are all acknowledged as factors that make this event so loved and cherished.

The subjects in the book are interesting and varied. It is separated into seven categories: Traditions, Personalities, The Course, Background, Caddies, Moments and Controversies. Some players give first person accounts of their first or favorite Masters. The men who put the tournament on are exposed in a few pieces. These are the members. They are some of the most powerful and influential men in the world. This is their tournament. They run it as they see fit and do not take advice or suggestions from anyone. This was one of the more intriguing sections of the book.

Augusta National was founded by Bobby Jones, but it was run by his partner Cliff Roberts. Roberts was called by a member as “our dedicated bastard.” He was feared by members and players alike and had all the characteristics of a slave owning Nazi. Bobby Jones is the mythical figure that we all think of when it comes to the Masters Tournament, but it was Roberts that built it and shaped it over the years.

The chapters that cover the inside of the tournament were extremely interesting. Ken Venturi and his account of the Arnold Palmer controversy were fascinating. The old Masters caddies had insights only caddies could have. The pain and heartache that the twelfth hole has caused over the years seems impossible for such a beautiful par three. Tiger Woods and his world changing victory, and Phil Mickelson’s emotional account of his first Masters win were touching and emotional.

This book has many pieces written by skilled writers who revere this tournament as much as all the players and fans do. It gives you a history and background of the tournament, accounts of many of the most exciting tournaments and intimate views of the characters that make the Masters the most popular tournament in the world.

First Sunday in April: The Masters

Introduction by Brad Faxon

Foreword by Don Wade

Sterling Publishing

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Goose, Hurst and the Pyramids

March 22nd, 2009 1 comment

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

Retief Goosen was able to hold on at the end of the Transitions Championships and avoid a playoff with second place finishers Charles Howell III and Brett Quigley. See story. Goosen has gone back to his old putter and he surely needed it to sink his par putt on eighteen since he blew his first putt 5 feet past.  Goosen had to have another laser procedure on his eyes and is still having some issues with them but he saw these greens well enough to capture his first win on the PGA Tour since the 2005 International.  If he can keep it up he will have a great chance to contend at the Masters next month. See interview.

One of the great things about golf is all the history that surrounds the game and many of the courses we play it on.  Gerald Eskenazi has found a course with a little bit of history surrounding it.  For $15 you get 18 holes and 4000 years of history.  Now that’s a deal.  Check it out.

So with no television coverage of the LPGA MasterCard Classic in Mexico I was trying to follow it on the web and expected to see Lorena put this one away after she took the lead on Saturday.  Well, surprise, surprise. Lorena and Yani Tseng had to settle for a tie for second and watched Pat Hurst shoot four under and sneak in and beat them both by a stroke.  It was Hurst’s sixth career win and put her career earnings to $6,372,298.  Not bad for someone who calls herself a mom first and a golfer second.  You got to love her.

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Tiger, Phil, Furyk and More

March 20th, 2009 No comments

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

It appears that the U.S. isn’t the only country screaming about how our tax dollars are being spent. The folks down under are questioning the use of $1.5 million of taxpayers’ money to lure Tiger Woods to Australia. Woods will be paid a $3 million appearance fee to play in the Australian Masters in November and many Australians are not thrilled about it. It may seem like a misuse of funds but wait until those mates get a view of that fist pump when he eagles eighteen! Check it out.

Jim Furyk has the lead in the Transitions Championship on the difficult Innisbrook course. Furyk took some extra time off at the start of this season. He said he felt he had played too much golf and needed a break. Furyk is a real competitor and when his putter is working there are few better. He is coming into form at the right time and should be one of the contenders at the Masters. Check it out.

The PGA Tour stop in Memphis has been renamed to the St. Jude Classic. It dropped the “Stanford” name due to the federal investigation of its main sponsor; Stanford Financial. I know it will never happen but I would love to see all the corporate names removed from the tournaments. I know they pay big bucks and the PGA Tour could not live without them but a guy can dream. Can’t he? Check it out.

Callaway Golf has signed a new deal with Perry Ellis for a new clothing line. That’s great. Now, the first thing they need to do is to get Phil Mickelson to a tailor and fix those sleeves of his that he has altered. They look too cheap Phil. Check it out.

Everyone is feeling the financial pinch this year and golf clubs, public and private, are no different. I doubt that Winged Foot or Shinnecock Hills is having a sale on memberships but plenty of clubs are trying new ways to survive. Check it out.

Who says that kids today spend too much time texting and gaming? Michael Young from Arizona is making a real difference in his community. He is putting on his charity tournament for the fourth year and he is only 15! Send your resume to Tim Finchem; the tour could use your help Mike. Check it out.

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Tiger Will Go Down Under

March 19th, 2009 1 comment

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

It was announced yesterday that Tiger Woods will play in the Australian Masters in Melbourne this year. That will be huge for the tournament which is held form November 12-15. Woods rarely plays in the PGA’s Fall series which will be playing The Children’s Miracle Network Classic that same week.

There has been much discussion lately concerning the PGA Tour and its inability to get all the players to appear at all the tour’s events. All the discussion can be translated into the question each tournament director asks; “How do we get Tiger Woods to play in our tournament?” The European Tour, The Australian Tour, The Asian Tour and all the other World Tours have known the answer for years. You pay him. Woods will receive a cool 3 million for playing in the Australian Masters and that’s guaranteed. If he happens to play well, he’ll earn some more cash also, but nowhere near his appearance fee. The entire purse for the tournament is $1,500,000. The winner will take home $270,000. That’s pocket change for Woods.

Roos are jumping for joy

Roos are jumping for joy

I have no problem with Woods flying to the other side of the world to play for three million. I mean if he was to play in the U.S. PGA Tour event that week the winners share is only $846,000. Let’s see; 3 million guaranteed and a long trip on my private plane or a chance to win less than 1 million and a 20 minute drive to the course. I’ll take the 3 mil and check out some kangaroos and the Great Barrier Reef while I’m down there. Tiger loves to scuba, so this is kind of like a paid vacation for him, a really well paid vacation.

I am sure that there will be plenty of discussion about Tiger’s choice to play in Australia but I have no issues with it. He plays when and where he wants. Tim Finchem and the Tournament Directors have been trying to figure a way to keep their tournaments from losing revenue in these difficult financial times. There have been calls to try and force all the players to make appearances at all regular tour events over a period of three or four years. This will be difficult to legislate. I doubt many of the players would accept a rule that forces them to play anywhere they do not want to. Finchem has earned the reputation of giving Woods anything he wants. Woods already has his own tournament, The Chevron World Challenge and he hosts The A.T. &T. National in July. Finchem lured Tiger to the National with a July 4th date and ties to the military which Tiger has an affinity for. Unfortunately, Finchem does not have enough tricks to get Tiger to spend more time playing more PGA Tour events. The PGA Tour does not pay appearance fees. Finchem needs to work other angles to ensure the tour keeps its current sponsors and to find replacements for those they have lost. He just can’t use Woods as the end all enticement for every tournament.

If you want a guarantee that Tiger will play in your tournament the answer is simple: call it a major or pay him major bucks. It’s a free country and Woods believes in our system of free enterprise and any other one that will pay him the big dollars. A guy has to earn a living, doesn’t he?

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