Archive for February, 2011

Martin Kaymer, More Than Just World Number One

February 28th, 2011 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

The week at  The Accenture Match Play Championship gave us plenty to remember.  While the weather was a bit less than perfect the play on the course was spectacular.  Luke Donald played magnificent golf, never falling behind in any match and fought through the cold and snow and Martin Kaymer to win in America for the first time in five years.

Donald, a PGA Tour veteran, is well known by most golf fans but Martin Kaymer is a relative newcomer to American golf followers. It wasn’t only a big weekend for Donald it wasn’t that bad for second place finisher Kaymer.  With his win over Bubba Watson in round five Kaymer supplanted Lee Westwood as world number one in the Official World Golf Rankings.

It seems that Kaymer’s big moments always happen in the shadow of something else.  Kaymer’s win at The 2010 PGA Championship may have been overlooked by the masses as the PGA will forever be remembered for Dustin Johnson’s debacle in the bunker.  But Kaymer has proven to be a very worthy champion with five worldwide wins in the past year with the most recent at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on the European Tour.

Kaymer has been given the nickname the “Germanator” for the machine-like style of his play but Kaymer is anything but stiff or robotic off the course.  Considered by all of his colleagues as likable and congenial Kaymer has earned a place as “just one of the guys.”  He’s about as nice a professional athlete as you can find and is as accommodating with the press and fans as anyone could imagine.  Bones Mackay is a member at Kaymer’s home club in Scottsdale’s Whisper Rock and has played with him.  Mackay says of Kaymer,” He kind of redefines ‘down to earth.’  He is a regular, regular guy.  He watched me shoot 200 (in an especially tough Whisper Rock tourney) and afterward he had a few beers with us in the clubhouse, just like he was one of the guys.”

Kaymer hasn’t come to grips with his new station as the world’s best golfer.  “I definitely need some time to think about it and let it sink in – the good thing is next week I don’t have a tournament, so maybe then I’ll be able to appreciate what I’ve done. But what I can say for sure is that it’s an incredibly proud moment. Not only for me, but also for my family, for the people who have helped me, and obviously for Germany and also The European Tour. To be only the second German after Bernhard Langer, who was my role model when I was growing up, is a very special feeling.

“Like I say, it probably won’t hit me until Monday, but when the new World Ranking is published I’m definitely going to take a picture with my name at the top. It doesn’t feel real to me at the moment, but maybe when I see it in writing then I’ll start to believe I’m the best golfer in the world. Not many people can say they’re the best player in the world at their sport, so I feel very honored and privileged. It’ll feel extra special if I manage to beat Luke in the final, because then I will really feel that I deserve it.”

Next up for Kaymer is to win another major and The Masters is his is target.  He has placed in the top ten in four of the last five majors but has missed the cut at Augusta in all three tries.  He expects to do better this year.  “My goal is to play the majors better…especially The Masters.”  That may be bad news for Westwood and the rest of the boys that had their eyes set on the world number one ranking.  There’s a new sheriff in town, he’s the Germanator, but he’s just one of the guys.

Link to Jason Sobel’s ESPN article.


World Golf Rankings: Kaymer to Number One, Tiger Falls

February 28th, 2011 1 comment

by Jeff Skinner

Take a look at this week’s Official World Golf Rankings.  New number one Martin Kaymer has bumped Lee Westwood to number two and Luke Donald has jumped to number three while Graeme McDowell sits in fourth place.  Kaymer and McDowell are the two hottest golfers in the world and have been since last summer.  Kaymer’s top spot is well deserved but McDowell’s rating as the fourth best golfer in the world is questionable in my opinion.  He is at least the second best golfer right now and possibly the best.  Falling to the fifth spot is Tiger Woods who had held the top spot for a record 632 weeks before Westwood dethroned him.  Tiger’s troubles continued as he exited the Match Play in the first round.  The last time Woods was lower than third in the rankings was April of 1997.


Luke Donald Beats Kaymer and Snow at Accenture Match Play

February 27th, 2011 No comments

Despite snow on the course and a world number one opponent Luke Donald still played well enough to win the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship.


Karrie Webb Takes LPGA’s HSBC Women’s Champions

February 27th, 2011 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Karrie Webb called on her years of experience to make a back nine charge and take down third round leader Arimura Chie for the victory at The LPGA’s HSBC Women’s Champion’s in Singapore.   A string of four straight birdies put Webb to thirteen under par and gave the 36 year old Hall of Famer her 37th career LPGA win.

Yani Tseng opened with five birdies on her front nine in an attempt to win her fifth straight tournament.  But she fell short in her quest to rule 2011 even though her 67 was the low round of the day.

Webb added another win to her illustrious 15 year career that includes the career grand slam, seven majors, three LPGA money list titles, three Vare Trophies and two Rolex Player of the year awards.

Webb talked about being patient and calling on her experience. “It was a very up and down day. I started off a little slowly and managed my game pretty well and then obviously Yani made a great run on the front nine, but then bogeyed 10.
So I was getting a little frustrated, I had gotten three shots behind. But you know, there was still a lot of golf left and I think my patience paid off, because I put a great swing on a 4 iron on the next and Chie bogeyed. And so I was back to one shot behind. So just like that, I felt really back in the tournament and rolled off another three birdies. So you know, I still knew that losing 14, it wasn’t over and that I had a lot of golf left.”

Webb hopes this early season win sets the tone for 2001.  “For me, personally, to win this event, to win this early in the year, I really hope it sets things up for a great run. You know, I think I handled my emotions very well this week, and you know, even through the lean ball striking period that I had, probably every day I had a couple of holes where I didn’t hit it very well but I managed to stay calm, got up and down more often than not which is good and then I made my birdies when I could.”


Saturday Swing Tip: Bubba Watson Wants to Have Fun

February 26th, 2011 No comments

Today’s tip is from longballer Bubba Watson.  It isn’t about  swing thoughts or set up or anything technical.  It’s about relaxing and having fun on the golf course.  Bubba says,”I don’t want to have a job. I just want to have fun and play golf for a living.”  Like he says in his Twitter videos,” You’re welcome.”


Baddeley Does His Best to Pick Up the Pace

February 22nd, 2011 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

After watching Aaron Baddeley win Sunday’s Northern Trust Open I have to say he’s the type of golfer I’d like to play a round of golf with.  He plays fast.  Get me around the course in under four hours and I am as happy as Phil in a Five Guys.  Have that round drag on toward five hours and I am ready to shoot myself and the foursome ahead of me.

Unfortunately for Badds, he was teamed up with Kevin Na who plays about as fast grass grows.  Na would take forever to lineup his putt and then take a lifetime to putt it.  But he’s not the only one.  J.B. Holmes was timed taking two minutes and fifteen seconds to putt.  All this adds up to the famous five and a quarter hour round that the PGA Tour has become known for.  For decades the players have grown progressively slower and now a five hour round is a common as Nick Faldo’s rambling.  It’s killing the game and it’s killing the telecasts.  But this is a problem we have heard rumblings about before.  Some say there is no easy way to improve the pace of play.  But some action by the tour would be nice and it’s time they penalized someone.  Maybe missing a cut or worse yet, finishing second by a stroke due to a slow play penalty would wake the slowpokes up.

Complaints about slow play aren’t new; they have been around for years.  It’s the pace that has changed.  At the 1950 U.S. Open the players were advised to pick up the pace of play. Joe Dey was the executive director of the USGA at the time and he handed out a notice to the player to “be observant, reach your decision quickly and execute your shots with promptness and dispatch.”  Dey, who became the first commissioner of the PGA Tour was upset that the last groups were making their way around the course in four and a quarter hours.  It would be a welcome miracle to see the golfers of today speed it up and shave some time off their pace.  A four hour round is a good thing.


Baddeley Rules Old Guys

February 21st, 2011 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

The stage was set at Riviera Country Club for a classic battle of old versus young at The Northern Trust Open.  Fred Couples and Vijay Singh were poised to take down final round leader Aaron Baddeley.  Baddeley was looking for his first win in four years and stayed the course long enough to hold off old guys Singh and Couples and win for the third time on the PGA Tour.

Fred Couples teased the crowd early on as he birdied the first three holes to take the lead in the tournament.  Couples and his 51 year old back had the fans in lather as he threatened to become the oldest PGA Tour winner in thirty five years.  But unfortunately Freddy’s biggest asset turned into his main liability as a few wayward drives kept him from holding his lead.  His closing 73 left him five back of Baddeley, still not a bad week for a guy that spends most of his time playing golf with the senior citizens.

Vijay Singh has found the game that has put him fourteenth on the all time career list with 34 PGA tour wins.  Singh said this was the best putting week of his career as he used only 105 putts for the week.  But his final round 69 left him two strokes short of Baddeley.

Baddeley said he felt the heat early after Couples came out of the gate with three birds. “Well, I thought Freddie was going to be tough today because definitely winning is a skill, and Freddie has been winning quite often recently. When he got off to a good start, I was like, Freddie looks like he’s going to have one of those days where he’s going to play great.

I was still just trying to focus on my game and just try to do what I needed to do. I wasn’t really trying to I was still right there, I was still only one back. It wasn’t like I was three back. For me it was just trying to keep doing what I was doing.  Well, everybody was yelling out “Freddie, Freddie, Freddie.” I knew he was going to be the fan favorite, and I mean, no reason why he shouldn’t be. He’s been such a great player over the years, and I mean, the fans just love him.”

The past two years have been tough for Baddeley.  He could only manage four top tens in 49 tournaments he now has two and a win in just five tournaments.  He’s gone back to his old coach and the changes he has made have finally paid off.  He’ll get to take his game back to The Master and he’s very excited about that.  “Yeah, definitely pumped. I feel like my game is a lot different now. These last few weeks is really working a lot on shot shaping, and around there you really need to shape your golf ball, hit fades and draws and highs and lows, so I’m excited to get back there. I really enjoy playing Augusta. I enjoy the golf course so much, so that’s what I’m really looking forward to that.”


Couples & Singh Put Pressure on the Kids

February 20th, 2011 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Somebody check the water supply at Riviera Country Club. I think it’s feeding from the Fountain of Youth.  Fred Couples and Vijay Singh must have taken an extra long drink from the nourishing waters of Ponce de Leon’s dream. Couples is one back and Singh trails leader Aaron Baddeley by two as they are threatening to show the kids on tour that The Grayhairs can still get it done.

Fred is on a brief hiatus from The Champions Tour and Vijay is only two years removed from being able to join Freddy on the senior circuit but these guys are playing like they are in their prime.  

When Baddeley and Kevin Na, who is in second place, tee off today they’ll have two senior citizens with impressive resumes breathing down their necks.  Vijay has 34 career PGA wins and three majors.  Fred has 15 PGA Tour wins, 4 Champion Tour wins and a Green Jacket.  Baddeley has two wins, his last in 2007 and Kevin Na is still looking for his first win in 191 tries.  Think they’ll feel a little pressure?

This is more than a battle of the old dudes versus the young guns.  Freddy is looking to add a third Riviera title to his trophy case and Vijay, who has gotten better each week is ready for his first win since 2008.

Freddy and Vijay know how to close out a win.  But will Freddy’s back hold up well enough for him to give the crowd what it wants?  Or will Vijay find his way back to the winner’s circle for another win in his forties?

Baddeley and Na have the lead on the two old timers but Couples and Singh have all the experience you could want.  Young studs or old dudes, it should be a great finish.



Saturday Morning Golf Tip

February 19th, 2011 No comments

With the PGA Tour playing at Hogan’s Alley how about a tip from the man himself, Ben Hogan.


Freddy’s Cool, but No Twitter for Him

February 18th, 2011 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

So 51 year old Fred Couples can still get it around Riviera.  Laid back Freddy shoots 68-66 to take a two stroke lead on the field with some golfers still not able to finish due to darkness.  Fred knows Riviera, he’s won here twice before and it would be just like him to show those younsters that a part-time PGA Tour player with more salt then pepper in his hair can still get the ball in the whole.

Fred Couples makes walking look cool, heck he looks cool standing still.  Like the saying goes,”Men want to be him and women want to be with him.”  Nothing bothers Freddy.  He’s good a some things and not too good at others.  He knows his limitations and one of them is social media.  “Twittering… I don’t know what that is” he said as he explained his lack of social media skills.  Come on Freddy, join the Facebook/Twitter generation.  There has to be millions of us that need to know what sweater your wearing or how many Advil you took to loosen up that cranky back.