Back by popular demand is Stina Sternberg with Randy Smith’s tip on how to add more power to our drives.
by Jeff Skinner
At The Nationwide Tour Championship Daniel Chopra is leading and trying to earn his way back to the PGA Tour, as are all 60 of the players. About a dozen players are assured of earning PGA Tour cards but that leaves about another dozen trying to claw their way into the top 25 on the money list. There are some great stories here. J.J. Kileen is trying to hold on to the money title. Billy Hurley III is a former Annapolis grad and Navy Officer that is on the bubble of earning his PGA Tour Card. And of course there is Erik Compton.
At the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic Jeff Overton steps off the plane, or so it seems and shoots a course record 62 to share the lead with Fredrik Jacobson. Overton only got in the field when David Duval pulled out on Sunday, good for Boom Baby!
The European Tour is still going strong at The Andalucia Masters at Valderrama in Spain. Richie Ramsey is leading but a few of Spain’s countrymen have him in their sights. Last week’s winner, yes winner, Sergio Garcia is threatening the lead as is the Coolest Guy in Golf, Miguel Angel Jimenez.
What do jet setting, millionaire golfers do when the season begins to wind down? They jet off to Shanghai for a little R & R and a chance at two million dollar payday at The IMG sponsored Shanghai Masters. Rory McIlroy leads a field of 30 handpicked golfers where even last place takes home 25 grand. Nice work if you can get it.
If all that isn’t enough for you The Ladies European Tour is playing in China. They may as well just hand Yani Tseng the trophy now and give all the women a break.
Still not enough golf, fire up the DVD player with Caddyshack or Bagger Vance while you knock back a few Dark n Stormies, now that’s a weekend.
by Jeff Skinner
The technological revolution has had a devastating effect on golf. New breakthroughs in club and ball technology have changed the game. It seems that there is some new gadget out there every week that promises to help us with our game. Now, all that new science has been channeled towards a new direction: getting the beer cart when you want it.
Stan Van Meter gives us a new smart phone app “Scan4Beer” that will enable golfers to place an order and summon the beverage cart when you and your partners have run dry. Featured in Golf Digest, the Scan4Beer app allows you to request an order from the beverage cart no matter where you are on the course. You use your smart phone to scan a barcode that is attached to your golf cart and then you order from the menu. The beverage cart receives your order and location and heads your way.
Van Meter, CEO of Scan4Beer says “It’s a win win for everybody. Better food and beverage sales for golf courses, less frustration for golfers, and better tips for the cart girls.”
I play with a few boys that will want this thing ASAP. If it makes for a better day on the golf course I am all for it but I think it made need a complimentary app to go along with this one, Scan4DesiginatedDriver.
by Jeff Skinner
Even though the PGA Tour has played its last “official event” of the season that doesn’t mean there won’t be some exciting golf to follow this weekend. There is the “unofficial” CIMB Asia Pacific Classic in Malaysia where two dozen Americans are teeing it up. The European Tour is still going hard and staying in Spain at The Andalucia Masters featuring the reborn Sergio Garcia, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Graeme McDowell. And IMG is putting on its invitation only Shanghai Masters where Rory McIlroy leads as he tries to win the largest winner’s check in golf, two million dollars.
But if you really want good golf, intensity and drama you needn’t look any further then the Nationwide Tour. The PGA Tour’s training ground closes the season with the Nationwide Tour Championship at Daniel Island. This tournament is part Tour Championship, part Q-School and part coronation with the pressure of a major championship thrown in for good measure.
These men have played all season with the goal of finishing in the top 25 on the money list. The top twenty five money winners get that elusive magic ticket: a PGA Tour Card. Each week we watch the PGA Tour play for a million dollar first place check. Each week these guys check the standings to see if they are in the top 25. Well, this week decides it all.
Needless to say life on the Nationwide Tour is a bit different from the PGA Tour. There are no private planes or million dollar paydays but you can earn a good living. Money leader J.J Killeen has earned over $400,000 but let’s put that in perspective. The 50th spot on the Nationwide Tour Money List netted $112,980. The PGA Tour’s 50th slot earned Ben Crane $1,629,595. Life on the big tour pays off.
There are plenty of Nationwide players that are already certain of earning their card. But the $180,000 winner’s check means that any of the 60 players can jump up the money list and earn their card. All 60 of these men have a chance to achieve their dream of playing on the PGA Tour and it will all be decided over these four rounds.
The thrills and heartbreak that takes place during this tournament is as emotional as any major championship. Making the top 25 is a life changing event for these fortunate few as they achieve their dream of playing in the big leagues. The closing ceremony sees the top 25 handed their 2012 PGA Tour Cards. It’s one of the most emotional moments of the season and certainly worth watching.
by Jeff Skinner
The last tournament of the PGA Tour season had all you could want and more. There were players vying for spots in the top 125 on the money list to secure their cards for next year. There was the chase to get into the top 30 which meant a trip to the majors next season and of course everyone wanted to win the last title of the year.
On top of that, everything had fallen into place for a mano y mano battle between Luke Donald and Webb Simpson for the money title. As it worked out, Luke and Webb played together all four days and Donald made an historic charge to claim the win and the championship. With his win it appeared that Donald had a step up on Simpson for the Player of The Year Award. It was an amazing ending to a great season for Donald, Simpson and the PGA Tour. Or was it?
In a surprise move the PGA Tour decided to delay sending out the ballots for POY until after the WGC HSBC Champions to be played in two weeks. Wait a minute. Isn’t that changing the rules after the game is over? Now, the Tour decides it wants to include the WGC which isn’t a real tour event? While the winner of the WGC-HSBC gets a two year exemption onto the PGA Tour the money isn’t considered official earnings.
A check of the PGA Tour schedule shows this event as a “Featured Event” along with this week’s CIMB Asia Pacific Classic in Malaysia and The Presidents Cup. So, they are not Regular Season events, Playoff events or Fall Series tournaments but The PGA Tour wants the players to consider the results in their voting for Player of the Year.
Luke Donald let his feelings on this change be known on Tuesday’s Morning Drive and even though he is always a perfect gentlemen his displeasure was obvious. “Sketchy” he called the decision by the Tour to change the rules and he’s absolutely right. It is just plain wrong for the Tour to do this now. A move like this can’t help but be construed as a slap at Donald and maybe just a bit jingoistic. Remember last year when winless Rickie Fowler took Rookie of the Year honors from Rory McIlroy who had a PGA Tour victory? This couldn’t be the Tour’s way of trying to stack the deck for an American to win the award could it?
The Tour brass should be ashamed of themselves. They may not have meant to but this is an insult to Donald who has been the epitome of what a Tour member should be. Donald has been a member for 10 years and a poster boy for the Tour. He has never been anything but a gentleman and always been a class act. He is right to be upset with the PGA Tour and they should learn a lesson from this. Even a kid knows you can’t change the rules after the game is played.
by Jeff Skinner
A picture is worth a thousand words, so they say. Check out GolfWeek’s gallery of Yani Tseng’s victory in her home country of Taiwan. It was an amazing week for the young, talented Tseng. The world’s most successful golfer of 2011 had the time of her life while winning in front of her family. She notched her tenth win of the year and did it in front of her 93 year old grandmother. It doesn’t get much sweeter than that.
by Jeff Skinner
The ballots for PGA Tour Player of The Year go out this week to the players and this should be a fairly easy task. All they should do is check the box next to Luke Donald. It’s as simple as that. Donald is the Player of the Year and if he doesn’t win the title there should be a recount and the PGA Tour players should be beaten with a five iron.
For those that think Donald is undeserving all they need do is check Donald’s significant accomplishments this season. But first let’s look at his competition.
The only American to win a major this year was Keegan Bradley. He, like Donald has two wins on tour but he played in 28 tournaments and only managed four top tens. Any time you win a major you’ve had a great season especially if you’re a rookie. And that is where Bradley will collect his post season hardware, with the Rookie of The Year. (Masters winner Charl Schwartzel is technically a rookie but we all know he is far from a true one.)
Donald’s strongest competition will come from Webb Simpson who also has two wins this season. He was also close on a few occasions as he lost in two playoffs and had 12 top tens. He threatened to win the FedEx Cup and the money title. In fact, he finished second on the money list, second in top ten finishes and second in scoring average. That’s an amazing year but he was second to Luke Donald in all those categories. I could rest my case here but there’s more.
Luke Donald had two wins on the PGA Tour and 14 top tens, in only 19 starts. That means he finished in the top ten in a remarkable 74% of his starts. In addition to leading the Tour in top tens, money, strokes gained putting, final round scoring and 3 putt avoidance he also won the Vardon Trophy. The Vardon Trophy is given to the player with the lowest scoring average and this year it was Donald with his 68.86.
Seven players have won two events on the PGA Tour this season but no player had had the season that Luke Donald has. He has spent more weeks at World Number One than any player this year and his play on the PGA Tour certainly has been representative of that. Donald seemed to be in contention each and every time he played.
Donald’s season ending win at Disney showed how strong he felt about the PGA Tour’s Money Title and his finish there should have sewn up another piece of hardware for his trophy case, Player of The Year.
by Jeff Skinner
Wow! What an absolutely amazing finish to the PGA Tour season. Luke Donald was up against it, big time. At the start of the week he trailed Webb Simpson in the PGA Tour Money Race, a race he wanted to win badly. The World Number One came into this tournament knowing he probably had to win the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic to move ahead of Simpson. In an astonishing display of grit and skill he did just that.
Donald started the day five strokes off the lead and two behind his chief rival Simpson. At the turn he was still four shots from the lead but that is where Donald showed why he is the top rated golfer in the world. At the tenth hole he started a string of birdies that would vault him into the lead and leave the rest of the field wondering what just happened.
Donald sank every putt he looked at as he made birdie on the next six holes. On the fourteenth he sank an 18 foot putt that put him in the lead. On 15 it was a spectacular 45 footer that gave him a two stroke lead and left his competitors looking for the number of the bus that just hit them.
As the putt on fifteen fell the normally reserved Donald let out a yell along with a fist pump as he knew the tournament was now his for the taking. Pars on the last three holes gave him a stunning 30 on the back nine for a total of eight under 64. With all that was on the line this has to be one of the most clutch rounds of the year on the PGA Tour.
Donald had to wait for Justin Leonard to finish before he could start celebrating but when Leonard couldn’t manage any closing birdies the win was Donald’s as was what he really came here for, the money title.
“I told you guys on Wednesday that the goal was to win. Nothing was really going to be good enough other than that,” Donald said. “I think this is probably one of the most satisfying wins of my career just because of that.”
“It’s just knowing that I had to do it, and being able to do it … it’s very, very special.”
This was an unusual week for the PGA Tour. Sure, each week we hear players say they want to win but this week was different. Both Donald and Simpson wanted the money title. They knew they would have to go through each other to get it and changed their schedules to do it. It’s difficult enough to win on the PGA Tour but to win when you have to is almost impossible. Both players deserve credit not only for their play and the way they present themselves but for putting their neck on the line and stepping up to test themselves against each other. The PGA Tour couldn’t have had a more fitting finish.
by Jeff Skinner
The Year of Yani continues. Yani Tseng notched another victory and this time it was extra special. Tseng won the LPGA Taiwan Championship in her home country to bring her total to ten worldwide victories for the year.
Tseng went into the final round with a two stroke lead and pulled away from the pack with a bogey free 66 to give her a five stroke margin over second place finishers Amy Yang and Azahara Munoz.
2011 has been an amazing tear for Tseng. Included in her ten wins are seven LPGA Tour victories, two majors (LPGA Championship, Women’s British Open) and she also claimed her second consecutive LPGA Player of the Year Award.
It’d hard to be humble when you are this good but Tseng manages it. There isn’t a more humble or likable player on the LPGA Tour.