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Archive for June, 2010

Chip Shots From The Links

June 30th, 2010 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Chip Shots…

Webb Simpson is a good, young second year player on The PGA Tour. His caddy is his childhood friend, William Kane and the two are extremely close and both have a deep faith that they are proud of.  That faith is being put to the test as Kane has been diagnosed with a neurological condition that is sapping his strength and making everyday life a chore.  Jim McCabe profiles the two and their relationship in Golf World.

As John Strege says in Golf Digest, it is always tough to follow the US Open, especially one at Pebble Beach.  But this past week was a good one for golf.  Cristie Kerr set a record while winning The LPGA Championship and The Travelers was the scene of an unlikely playoff.  One of the shortest drivers faced off against one of the longest.  Who’d have thought Corey Pavin would have a chance a cashing the winner’s check while he was scouting for the Ryder Cup?

I am confused about the action The R & A is taking in wiping out the course records at The Old Course.  The current record holder, Curtis Strange (62 in 1987) is also confused and a little disappointed.  First the new tee at the seventeenth and now a new record book?  Those old guys in the R & A must be sipping too many single malts.  Link to Golf.com.

There has been another Annika Sorenstam sighting.  This time it was 40 stories above the East River in Manhattan.  Sorenstam and Briny Baird joined a Veteran, PGA Professional and double amputee, Don Vickery while they hit balls off the roof into a target 150 yards away in the river.  They raised $100,000 for charity and had a good time doing it.  Link to Golf Digest.com.

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Tiger Woods & The Lackluster AT&T National

June 29th, 2010 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

What a difference a year makes.  Last year at The AT&T National Tiger Woods was the official host and played an important part in the entire weeks festivities.  He not only served as host but he went on to win the tournament which at the time was the third win of his six wins in 2009.  All this took place before his life changing fender bender on Thanksgiving weekend.

This year at the AT&T Tiger’s name is only listed as the defending champion and there is no official connection to the tournament other than as a player in the select field of 120 players.  Any official connection ended when AT&T chose to end their sponsorship of Woods after news of his many “transgressions” came to light.  AT&T had been a big sponsor of Woods but removed themselves from the Woods roster which left Tiger’s bank account a little lighter and his golf bag vacant.  Since the crash Woods has put his Tiger Woods Foundation logo on his bag and tried to get his level of play back in championship form but has had little success in finding any level of consistency.

This week may be Tiger’s best chance to win so far this season.  All of his previous five starts have had major championship fields. The Masters, The US Open, The Players, The Memorial and Quail Hollow all had superb fields of players.  The AT&T can’t boast of a field that compares to those tournaments.

Woods and Jim Furyk are the only players from the top ten in the World Golf Rankings in the field.  There is no Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood, Steve Stricker or Ernie Els and all the big name European players have opted out.  The field looks more like The John Deere than it does The Players.

If Woods can put four decent rounds together he may be able to contend at a course few PGA players have seen before.  The Aronimink Golf Club is hosting the AT&T while Congressional is being refurbished for next year’s US Open.  The par 70 course has only two par fives which may put Woods at a disadvantage, Woods has made his living making birdies on par fives.

With Woods returning to his former tournament there has to be a bit of awkwardness in the air.  Woods was recruited by AT&T and The PGA Tour thought they had another top tour stop when Woods was brought on as host.  In the same mold as Arnie’s Bay Hill Championship and Jack’s Memorial, the AT&T was expected to grow in stature.  After all, the best golfer in the world was the host and the Tour was ready to prop up this tournament all it could.  What a difference a year makes.

Tiger’s star has lost its luster and with it the AT&T has lost its main attraction.  This was supposed to be a premier tournament, with all the top players, hosted by one of the best players in the history of the game.  With Tiger’s personal problems affecting his on course play and his image, this tournament is just another week on the tour.  Maybe Tiger will contend this week or even pull off a win.  Maybe one of the young guns will step up and claim their first PGA title.  Or an older veteran will add another win to their career total.  Whatever happens it won’t be a major win, it’s not The Players or The Memorial or Bay Hill or even Quail Hollow.  It’s another weekly tour stop and the luster of what once could have been grand and special has faded, just like it has for Tiger Woods.

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Cristie Kerr Dominates LPGA Championship

June 28th, 2010 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Since the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings stated six years ago no American golfer had held the top spot.  For the past years Cristie Kerr had stated over and over again her goal was to be the best in the world and be the number one women’s golfer.  Kerr has made her dream come true as she dusted the field at the LPGA Championship with an historic 12 stroke victory.

Kerr’s fourteenth LPGA win and second major title ranks up there with the most dominating victories in professional golf.  He twelve stroke margin of victory broke the previous tournament record and it is the biggest margin in a major since Louise Suggs won the 1949 US Women’s Open by fourteen shots.  Her win calls to mind Tiger’s 15 stroke win at the 2000 US Open.  Kerr was that dominant as she shared a piece of the lead after the first round and then held the lead by herself for the rest of the tournament.

Kerr’s game was in top form all week as she carded only four bogeys while holing 23 birdies.  This is the type of performance that Kerr demands of herself.  In the past few years she has taken measures to improve her game physically and mentally.  She always speaks in terms of process goals and trying to control her on course emotions.  She was successful all week and played such good golf that Sunday was more of a coronation than a battle for the win.

When Lorena Ochoa retired the number one slot in the world was claimed by Jiyai Shin and then after four wins this season, Ai Miyazato was able to make it to the top.  Her reign lasted only one week as Kerr’s win gives her the title as the world’s number one women’s golfer and one of her most cherished career goals.

Kerr is by far the most successful American golfer on the tour today.  While Michelle Wie may get the headlines and television ratings, it is Cristie Kerr that has been the best American golfer on the course.  The LPGA has been dominated by foreign players in recent years and it is Kerr that has done the best to keep some trophies here in the states.  In the past 30 LPGA events, Americans have won only four of them with Kerr winning three.  In the past fourteen major championships, Americans have won only four and this win gives Kerr two of those wins.

The fans may love Michele Wie but it is Kerr that is the standard bearer for American Women’s golf.  Kerr’s performance was more dominating than any seen on the course recently and her determination to stay on top will keep her and American golf in good form on the LPGA.  Afterward an emotional Kerr said this was an almost perfect performance.

“I’m a pretty emotional person, and to be able to kind of harness that in a way, and channel it to playing well is amazing,” Kerr said. “I didn’t limit myself. I wanted to see how far I could take it. And I took it pretty far. … I don’t think I could’ve played better.”

Kerr realizes that attaining the number one spot isn’t an end, but just a beginning.

“It means a tremendous amount.  It’s something that I’ve wanted my whole life, I worked for my whole life.  But I said earlier in the week it’s great to be No. 1, but I just got there.  To be No. 1 I feel in my heart you really have to keep proving it.  So I got a lot of work ahead of me.”

Link to Cristie Kerr’s interview.

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Bubba Watson Wins the Travelers Championship

June 28th, 2010 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Sometimes this game is a lot like life; you never know what’s going to happen next.  That was the case at The Travelers Championship yesterday when the Justin Rose fell apart and Bubba Watson came from six strokes back to win his first ever professional golf tournament.

Rose had led by three at the start of the final round and had played marvelous golf all week.  Three bogeys over the first ten holes on Sunday let the field back into the hunt.  When Rose pulled his driver into the water on the drivable 15th hole his day was done and he went from first to a tie for ninth as he ballooned to a 75 for the final round.

Watson, playing an up and down back nine which included five birdies, one bogey and a double bogey needed a birdie on the eighteenth to get in the playoff.  He got it and the longest hitter on tour proceeded to a playoff with the shortest hitter, Cory Pavin and one of the nicest, Scott Verplanck.

Pavin passed up the Champions Tour this week to get an up close look at his picks for the Ryder Cup and nearly walked away with a victory.  You never know what can happen in this game.  As it was, Pavin got a real good look at Bubba’s first win on the PGA Tour.

After Pavin dropped out on the first playoff hole, Watson needed a three foot putt on the second playoff hole to win.  After the putt dropped, Watson felt the relief and joy of his first win and the tears flowed as he couldn’t control his emotions.  It has been a difficult year for Watson off the course and this win finally gets the tour’s longest driver into the win column.

“I’m a very emotional guy,” he said. “I cry all the time. When I go to church on Sunday, I cry at church. I couldn’t get the ‘Yes’ out of ‘I do’ at my wedding. The pastor said, ‘You got to say it. You can’t just nod. You can’t nod.’

“Everybody has issues. My family had some issues. My dad is battling cancer. My wife last year thought she had a tumor in her brain. We got lucky with that one, and now, we’re battling with my dad. It’s emotional.”

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Kerr Ready for Number One

June 27th, 2010 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Cristie Kerr is set to win her second career major championship at the LPGA Championship.  Kerr has fashioned an eight stroke lead over her nearest competitors and if she fails to win it will be the one of the greatest collapses in major championship history.

Kerr has had mixed results when holding a 54 hole lead as she has won eight of the fifteen times she lead after leading in the third round.  An eight stroke lead may be insurmountable but Kerr knows she still has work to do.  “I can sit here and say, ‘Give me the trophy now.’ But it’s not going to happen,” Kerr said after shooting a 69 Saturday. “I’ve got one more round of golf to play.”

If Ai Miyazato finishes worse than second place, she is tied for 24th   now, and Kerr hangs on to win she will achieve her goal of being the number one female golfer in the world.  An American has never held the top spot in the Rolex Rankings since they began in 2006. 

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Cristie Kerr & Justin Rose Pull Away

June 26th, 2010 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Cristie Kerr is on a mission.  She wants to be the world’s number one golfer and the quickest way to accomplish that is to win another major championship.  She is well on her way as she shot a 6 under 66 to take a five stroke lead at the LPGA Championship in Rochester, New York.

It is no secret that Kerr covets the number one slot in The Rolex Rankings and is determined to do whatever it takes to earn it.  Another major championship victory to go with her win at The State Farm Classic two weeks ago would help her move toward her goal.  The 2007 US Open Champion has been close to another major win before.  She has four top ten finishes in the last five majors.  A win by Kerr this week would certainly move her up in the rankings but more importantly it would continue her momentum as the LPGA swings into the heart of their season.

Link to Cristie Kerr’s interview.

Justin Rose looks to be well rested since he didn’t have to deal with the stress of competing at The US Open.  Rose followed his opening round 64 with a blistering 8 under 62 at The Travelers Championship on Friday that left him with a four stroke lead.  Rose is looking to back up his win at The Memorial with a win here.

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4 Way Tie at the Travelers

June 25th, 2010 No comments

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Major Change, The LPGA Championship

June 24th, 2010 1 comment

by Jeff Skinner

The major season continues today as the LPGA tees it up at their second major of the season, The LPGA Championship.  Locust Hill Country has hosted the LPGA for the past 33 years but this is the first time the tournament has been designated a major.  Corporate sponsor, Wegmans, came to the aid of the LPGA and signed up for major status when McDonald’s bailed on sponsoring the LPGA Championship.

It should be an easy transition for the LPGA; after all, The LPGA Championship was started in 1955 and is second only to the US Women’s Open as the longest running tournament on tour.  Wegmans long, successful history with the LPGA and a classic golf course make this a natural setting for a major championship.

It does present an odd situation for the “defending champions.”  Anna Nordqvist won last year’s LPGA Championship and Jiyai Shin won last year’s Wegmans, so we have two defending champions, sort of.  Both golfers will be in the elite field of golfers with Shin making her first appearance since her appendectomy a little over two weeks ago.  Shin hopes to compete with the world’s best and defend her Wegmans title and if she can her doctors should share the trophy with her.

Speaking of the world’s best, the new number one golfer in the world, Ai Miyazato is looking to add to her collection of four LPGA titles already this season.  Her run is the type of streak that Annika and Lorena would go on in their prime.  Miyazato plays a finesse game that is well suited the narrow fairways and doglegs of Locust Hill.

We don’t have to go far to look for Miyazato’s competition, all of the top golfers in the world are in the field.  Suzann Pettersen has played excellent golf this year but has not been able to close out a win.  She still gets angry and emotional over poor shots and she’ll need to control her emotions this week in order to win.

If the Americans are to challenge for the LPGA Championship trophy, Cristie Kerr is their best bet.  She’s number five in the world and already has a win this season.  Michelle Wie may be the popular pick but while she does have three top tens this year, her past two tournaments were a T46 and a T52.  The tour gets a boost this week as the very popular Paula Creamer tees it up in her second tournament since thumb surgery.  She’s healthy and ready to chase down her first major.

With the PGA Tour in a post major week at the Travelers, The LPGA may be able to get some headlines if they have an exciting weekend with some familiar name on the leaderboard.

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Lookalikes at Pebble Beach

June 23rd, 2010 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

It was an absolutely awesome US Open.  Any Open at Pebble Beach is truly special.  With all those great, diabolical holes perched on that gorgeous slice of ocean-side landscape, even if the golf is less than stellar the views are spectacular enough to keep you awestruck.

I was disappointed that one of my favorite golfers wasn’t able to make the cut.  The Coolest Guy in Golf, Miguel Angel Jimenez missed the cut at Pebble Beach this year but Miguel always finds a silver lining in every situation.

He was able to spend a few days with his good friend and lookalike, The Most Interesting Man in the World.  Stay thirsty my friends.


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Tom Watson’s Last Walk at The US Open

June 22nd, 2010 No comments

By Jeff Skinner

I said all week that watching Tom Watson play at Pebble Beach was one of the special joys from the 2010 US Open.  I hope this wasn’t his last walk up eighteen at an Open.  He can win the Senior US Open this year and that would get him into next year’s Open at Congressional.  Come on Tom, give us another wild ride!

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