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Archive for August, 2011

Tiger Woods: “Life is Difficult”

August 31st, 2011 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Tiger Woods is back on the golf course today as he takes some time to play at his good friend Notah Begay’s charity event at the NB3 Challenge. Woods and Begay appeared on this today’s Morning Drive and Woods and for a second Tiger actually sounded sincere and a bit reflective.

Eric Kuselias asked Woods what he would say to himself if he could go back 15 years to a young Tiger as he started his professional career.  “I’d have to say that life is obviously very difficult” and he went on to admit “I’ve made my share of mistakes.”  He turned upbeat after that and said, “It’s been a lot of fun being able to chase your dreams and do something I love to do each and every day.”

I am no psychiatrist but that sounds to me like a man that isn’t happy with himself.  Obviously the last two years have taken a huge toll on Woods.  He has fallen further than anyone can imagine but he rarely admits it.  For the first words out of his mouth to be “life is difficult” well, that speaks volumes as to his state of mind.

Backtrack to summer 2008:  Woods had just won the U.S. Open on a broken leg, was at the top of the sports world and raking in hundreds of millions of dollars.  He was the biggest of the big dogs. I doubt he could have even thought of the words “life is difficult”.  Maybe “the media is difficult” or “growing my goatee is difficult.”  But “life is difficult,” come on.

Maybe Woods is feeling the strain of a life he can’t control.  His swing is gone as is the life he once knew.  Divorce and visitation bring a whole new set of factors into one’s life and Woods isn’t used to dealing with anything he can’t control.  Tiger is right, at times, life is difficult.  But to hear him admit it is strange.  Welcome to the real world Tiger, a world you can’t control.

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Moments from The Deutsche Bank Championship

August 31st, 2011 No comments

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New Era in American Golf

August 31st, 2011 1 comment

by Jeff Skinner

As soon as Dustin Johnson walked of the green after winning The Barclays last week the talk started again.  You know, that talk, the “he’s the best young American” talk.  With Tiger Woods failing to fill his role as the dominating force in golf, we are left with much debate as to who the best young American golfer is.

Johnson is definitely in the discussion but it’s a broad discussion.  He has five PGA Tour wins and he should have a major or two.  Remember he melted down in the final round at The U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.  He was done in by a camouflaged bunker at The PGA and he just finished second at The Open Championship.  A wayward two iron stopped his charge and gave Darren Clarke his unlikely victory.  Johnson is one talented golfer but he is one of a group of young Americans that seem to have supplanted the once dominant Mr. Woods.

Tiger and Phil Mickelson aren’t tallying up the wins like they used to so that opens the door for all the talented young Americans trying to make their mark on tour.  It seems each time an American twentysomething wins we are quick to ordain him as the next big thing.  Well at least we has stopped using the phrase, “the next Tiger” (for many reasons).

Currently in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Rankings there are 21 U.S. players.  Six of them are Tiger’s age, 35 or older:  Stricker, Mickelson, Furyk, Toms Van Pelt and Woods.  Ten of them are 30 or under and five are younger than Tiger but over 30 (31-35).  The twentysomethings make up an impressive group:  Dustin Johnson (27) is ranked 4th and has 5 wins.  Nick Watney (30) is 11th with 4 wins.  Hunter Mahan (29) is 21st with 3 wins.  Webb Simpson (25) is ranked 27th with 1 win.  Rickie Fowler (22) ranked 28th is still winless.  Keegan Bradley (25) is ranked 29th has 2 wins.  Gary Woodland (27) is 37th with one win. Brandt Snedeker (30) 39th has 2 wins.  Bill Haas (29) 44th has 2 wins.  Ryan Moore (28) ranked 46th has 1 win.   That’s an impressive group of players that total 21 wins between them but only Bradley can claim a major win.

The 31-34 year old group is even more impressive:   Matt Kuchar (33) 7th in the ranking has 3 wins.  Bubba Watson (32) 15th has 3 wins.  Zach Johnson (35, 3 months younger than Tiger) is 32nd but leads both groups with 7 wins.  Jason Dufner (34) 42nd has 2 wins.  And Jonathan Byrd (33) 48th has 5 wins.  That’s 20 wins between them but also, just one major:  Johnson’s Masters.

So depending on your definition of young, there looks to be an abundance of young talented Americans.  Each week it falls upon another one of these golfers to step up and prove that they will remain elite golfers.  But we shouldn’t rush to label a particular golfer one thing or another.  It’s easy to call a talented kid the next big thing but it can be a burden as well as a blessing.  When Sean O’Hair won his third tournament in 2009 he was christened the best young American.  It took him two years to win again.

What we have now isn’t one dominant golfer.  We watched Tiger win at a mind-boggling clip for a long time.  What had become the norm was really an anomaly.  Today’s tour, with many players in contention each week is the norm.  Yes, Nicklaus dominated in his day so did Palmer, Hogan and many of the greats but not to the extent of Woods.  Tiger’s fall has changed the face of the PGA Tour.

It’s a different tour now.  The field is full of dozens of young golfers that have a great chance to win each week.  We don’t need to label each winner as anything yet.  We now have a group of the “best young Americans.”  They’ll win more and more often and soon enough they’ll figure out how to claim a few majors or two.  This is a new era in American Golf.

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Tiger to Tee It Up at The Frys.com Open

August 30th, 2011 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Tiger Woods announced that he’ll break his habit of passing on The PGA Tour’s Fall Series and he’ll make a very rare appearance in the U.S. in October at The Fry’s.com OpenWoods gives various reasons on his website, “I always enjoy competing in my home state, and this tournament fits my schedule perfectly,” Woods said. “I’m looking forward to seeing some old friends.”  He goes on to say, “John Fry and his company have supported the tour, and I’ve heard good things about the event and the golf course. One of my goals this year was to participate in a tournament I hadn’t played before, and now, I will.”

Like anything Woods says on his website, or to the media for that matter, it is difficult to accept any statement at face value.  I am sure he enjoys playing in his home state, when it’s Pebble Beach or Torrey Pines.  John Fry and his company certainly have supported the tour.  They lay out millions to sponsor this event.  Oh, and one of Tiger’s goals was to play somewhere he hadn’t visited before, that’s news for sure.  They are all valid reasons to play, then why don’t I believe any of them.

My skepticism must come from years of listening to Team Tiger trying to spin everything their way.  We never get the sensation that Tiger is sincere and everything he says and does has ulterior motives.  Woods lost his genuineness long ago and anytime I see these press releases I can’t help myself from thinking two things:  Do they really expect us to believe that Tiger is writing this?  And what does this really mean?

Smarter and more connected men than I feel the same way.  John Feinstein says, “There’s more than meets the eye” and Jason Sobel thinks that Fred Couples was given this info by Tiger long ago and his “request” that Tiger play more before The Presidents Cup was a contrived bit of theater.  They both are probably right.

I do give Tiger credit for making the effort though, whatever the real reason.  He needs to play and any event is more interesting with Tiger in the field.  The Fry’s will get a boost with Woods there as will the television numbers.  Maybe we’ll get to see a glimpse of that new and hopefully improved swing he has been working on for what seems like forever.  But next time he decides to play a “new tournament” just send in your commitment and let the tournament announce it.  That way we won’t waste time trying to decipher all that “Tiger speak.”

 

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Love It…Hate It

August 29th, 2011 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Love It/Hate It from the weekend.

Loved the US Amateur and the way those kids played. There were some amazing matches.

Hated that there could be only one winner.

Loved seeing the American women perform so well at The Canadian Women’s Open.

Hated The Golf Channel for not switching to it live even though they could have.

Loved the fact that NBC was covering the final match at the US Amateur.

Hated that I couldn’t see it because here in New York the local affiliate insisted on covering that damn hurricane.

Loved the look of Erin Hills.  That hard, fast links style of golf is captivating.

Hated only seeing a little bit of it when The Golf Channel finally switched to it towards the end on Sunday.

Loved The PGA Tour for doing the right thing and getting out of New Jersey before Irene really let loose.

Hated watching it on Saturday tape delay.  Cover it Live!

Loved listening to Roger Maltbie and his “everyman” style.

Hate having to listen to the pompous Jimmy Roberts.

Loved Mark Calcavecchia finally winning on The Champions Tour.

Hated that it took him 31 tries to do it.  Calc is one of the good guys.

Loved the fact that there was so much golf this weekend:  PGA, Euro Tour, LPGA, US Am, Seniors & Nationwide.

Hated that the coverage was pathetic.  With the Barclays cut short and starting early on Saturday, CBS didn’t cover it live when they could have.  With the LPGA teeing off early on Sunday and The Barclays done, The Golf Channel could have elected to go live with the Canadian Women’s Open.  But we were stuck with tape delay.

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Kelly Kraft Takes Down Patrick Cantlay for US Amateur Championship

August 29th, 2011 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Patrick Cantlay had been living the summer of his dreams.  Heck, he was having a summer that few golfers, old or young, amateur or professional ever have.  The 19 year old has had a busy few months:  Top Amateur in the country, Jack Nicklaus College Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, low amateur at The U.S. Open and The Canadian Open, shot a 60 at The Travelers and of course was low amateur at the AT&T National.  But his luck ran out on Sunday.

Kelly Kraft was able to do what no one else could do at The U.S. Amateur, he beat Patrick Cantlay.  In an up and down 36 hole final Kraft hung tough to claim a 2 up win over the summer sensation.  Kraft was four up during the first 18 holes but Cantlay battled back to just two down at the start of the final 18.

From there Kraft did his best to hold off Cantlay but Kraft lost his lead when Cantlay went 1 up at the 10th hole.  Cantlay had the lead as late as the 14th hole but bogeys at 15 and 16 dropped him to one down and Kraft closed the door after that.

Kraft, 22, is from Denton Texas and attends SMU.  He has used up all his college eligibility so he is contemplating his decision to turn professional.  He has earned trips to Augusta, The Open Championship and next year’s U.S. Open, all if he remains an amateur.  But one thing is for sure, he’ll be teaming up with Cantlay and the best amateurs in the country at The Walker Cup in Scotland.

He was told that he made the team immediately after his win while he was still on the green at Erin Hills. “(USA Team Captain) Jim Holtgrieve walked up to me on the green and told me, ‘See ya in Scotland.’ And I was like, ‘Wow.’ I didn’t know what to say. I just won the tournament and then they told me this. I about had a heart attack.”

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Lincicome Wins as Americans Dominate The CN Canadian Women’s Open

August 28th, 2011 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

In brisk winds and heavy rain Brittany Lincicome persevered long enough to win the CN Canadian Women’s Open and claim her second win of the season.  Lincicome started one stroke back of the leaders but her two under par was enough to get her to -13, one stroke clear as the leaders faltered.

Michelle Wie, Tiffany Joh and Ai Miyazato started the final round tied for the lead but Joh was four over for the day and Miyazato finished at five over for the final round.  Defending champion, Wie had a chance and was tied with Lincicome for awhile but after a bogey at sixteen dropped her one off the pace she could manage no better than par on the final two holes.

Stacy Lewis made a bold charge when she went three under par for her first three holes and managed to shoot the low round of the day at five under par.  That put her in the clubhouse at -12 with Lincicome on the course with five holes left.

Lincicome wasn’t about to let her game slip despite the difficult conditions and she parred her way in to collect her fifth career win.

Solheim Cup Captain Rosie Jones has to be thrilled with the final leaderboard: Lincicome, Lewis and Wie (T2) and Cristie Kerr and Angela Stanford (T4), all Solheim Cup Team members.

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Hurricane Irene Plays Through

August 28th, 2011 No comments

This was the scene at Casperkill Golf Club in Poughkeepsie, New York on Sunday afternoon. Hurricane Irene had her way with the Robert Trent Jones layout. What looks like a lake in these pictures is normally a stream that is usually eight to tens yards wide. The downpour caused the stream to overrun its banks and was 60 yards wide on some areas of the course.

3rd Hole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11th Hole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7th Hole

 

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Saturday Swing Tip: Use Your Body to Chip

August 27th, 2011 No comments

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Couples Selects Tiger Woods Too Early

August 26th, 2011 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Fred Couples decided he had enough of the questions surrounding Tiger Woods and his selection to the Presidents Cup team.  Yesterday he announced that Woods would be on the team and he told Tiger so.

“I’ve told him that he’s going to be on the team.  There is no reason for me to wait till Sept. 26 to pick Tiger. He’s the best player in the world forever.”

Hmmm, best player in the world forever?  I’ll take issue with that statement another day but today Fred has to know he made a mistake.  His mistake isn’t in picking Tiger, although that certainly is up for heated debate, his mistake is in selecting him now.

The planned date for announcing The Presidents Cup Team is September 26th and a dozen players are doing their best to climb up the ranks and impress their captain.  What good can come of him breaking protocol and naming Woods now? None, absolutely none.

Does The PGA Tour and NBC Television need ten weeks to pump up ads for the Cup, six weeks isn’t enough?  Did Fred feel pressure from outside sources?  Of course he did, but why announce it now?  He should have kept his selections to himself and announced the two of them after The BMW as planned. (Keegan Bradley has to be the other.)  Fred will be taking two kinds of heat for this: choosing an undeserving Woods on the one hand and announcing his selection early.

Couples has done a disservice to The Presidents Cup, to his captaincy, to all the PGA Tour players vying for a spot and yes, even to Tiger Woods.  Freddy may exude coolness and confidence on the course but he blew it here.

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