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Archive for April, 2012

10 Things I Think

April 30th, 2012 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

1.  Cheers to David Duval for making his second cut of the year.  After opening 2012 with seven missed cuts he has changed the momentum with consecutive weekends, it starts with baby steps.

2.  Ben Curtis backs up his win with a tie for thirteenth, nice.

3.  Dan Jenkins is the third sportswriter voted into the World of Hall of Fame.  Jenkins made being a smart ass really cool.

4.   Tiger blows off his press conference for an experiment with social media.  Maybe he should try an experiment with being human for a change.

5.  Stacy Lewis proves that good golfers come in all sizes.  It’s not the size of the dog in the fight.  It’s the size of the fight in the dog, or Arkansas Razorback in this case.

6.  Somebody check to see if Jason Dufner has a pulse please.  An alligator couldn’t rattle him and even Ernie Els thinks he’s emotionless.

7.  Two things about Ernie Els: first he is really close to a win, really close.  Second, it’s a joy to see someone so comfortable in his own skin.

8.   Lexi Thompson is really something.  Her game is amazing and while she was facing the prospect of a playoff she busys herself by signing autographs.  So she’s composed too.

9.   How about a million dollar check for a wedding present?  Dufner is getting married on Saturday and he cashes a $1.15 million dollar check for winning, not bad at all.

10.  Miguel Angel Jimenez finished fifth at the Ballantine’s Championship on Sunday.  The 48 year old is inching up the Ryder Cup points list.

 

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Dufner Outlasts Els in New Orleans

April 29th, 2012 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Jason Dufner finally got that monkey off his back.  In is 164th PGA Tour start he took a Hall of Famer to overtime and out lasted him.  Dufner had a two stroke lead at the start of the final round of the Zurich Classic but saw it disappear as Ernie Els shot a five under 67 to tie Dufner at the end of regulation play.  But it was Dufner that was able to birdie before Els for a change and wound up as the last man standing.

Ernie has been so very open about his desire to win again and his re-dedication to his game has been evident.  In his last six starts he has four top tens and a tie for twelfth.  The Big Easy just missed a win in the Big Easy but today wasn’t Ernie’s day.  Today was a day of vindication for Jason Dufner.

Jason Dufner has been labeled a choker and a hard luck case ever since his meltdown at the 2011 PGA Championship but today was his day, finally.

Dufner shook off his habit of poor Sunday rounds and parred his way to his first PGA Tour win.  Dufner ran off eight straight pars to finish regulation and another on the first playoff hole before a birdie finally found the cup on the second playoff hole.

Dufner had overcome a double crossed tee ball on sixteen that left him in lake a mere yards from an alligator.  Not wanting to tempt the gator he took a drop and then promptly dropped a monster 50 foot putt to save par.  Two more pars kept him tied with Els and The Big Easy and Duff settled it in the playoff.

Ernie missed a six foot putt to win on the first playoff hole and Dufner closed out the battle with his birdie as they played eighteen once again.

”It’s always really tough playing on Sundays whether you’re in lead or middle of pack, and today I was fighting, trying to win event, and I think I showed myself a good bit out there,” Dufner said. ”It was tough. Ernie made a great run at me and it felt like with five or six holes (to go) we were probably going to be battling for the win.

”To get the monkey off of my back, it’s a great feeling.”

Dufner’s expression never changed all day.  It didn’t matter if he was making birdie, grabbing his ball from the gator, holing that bomb on 16 or shaking Ernie’s hand after the win: he showed no emotion at all.  It wasn’t until he hugged his fiancé that a smile, a small one, crossed his lips.  He gets married this Saturday.

It was Dufner’s day, the day the monkey was finally gone and maybe Jason Dufner can finally smile.

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Stacy Lewis Fights to LPGA Win

April 29th, 2012 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Stacy Lewis took a five stroke lead into the final round of the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic and she needed every one of them to earn her second LPGA Tour victory.  Lewis held off a hard charging Lexi Thompson who shot a seven under 65 to finish one stroke back of Lewis.

Lewis got off to a great start with back to back birdies but saw her lead evaporate as Thompson tied her after Lewis bogeyed the fifteenth.  But Lewis birdied the sixteenth to squeak back in the lead by one shot and a pair of closing pars assured her of the win.

Lewis admitted to being a bit off today but still carded a 69 to back up her major championship win at last year’s Kraft Nabisco.  “I feel like I’ve been close ever since then just to winning and people say I haven’t been winning, just kind of knocking on the door,” said Lewis. “It’s nice to get it out of the way.

“I fought. I’m exhausted. I’m glad I didn’t have to play more holes.”

Except for a baffling missed cut in Hawaii last week Lewis has had a great season with five top ten finishes in eight tournaments.

Lewis and Thompson are two of the American players that should give the LPGA a boost in the ratings.  Lewis has a great back story as she fought off her spine issues as a youth to go on be an All-American at Arkansas and then to a major winner.  Thompson is the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history and at seventeen has skills and a maturity that will keep her at the top of worldwide golf.

These two could be going at it for a long time.

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Tiger Woods To Become Fan Friendly…Sort Of

April 29th, 2012 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Tiger Woods has announced that he will forego his pre-tournament press conference prior to this week’s Well Fargo Championship.  Normally Woods is asked to meet with the press before most tournaments but he has elected to try something different this week.

Instead of fielding questions from the accredited media he’ll be answering questions from his fans.  The plan is to take questions submitted on Twitter and Facebook and answer them in a video posted on his website.  Tiger’s agent, Mark Steinberg said, “We’ve been thinking about this for a couple of months now.   We wanted to have a little bit more direct interaction with fans, and they’ve been very good to him over the years. We’re probably a little bit behind with social media and this is a way to do that.”

“It’s just a chance to have him interact more with fans” he said.

That’s an admirable thing, wanting to interact with fans, but do they really expect anyone to see it that way.  First, we have to understand that Woods is always asked for pre-tournament press conferences and for the most part he accommodates.  But he certainly has been repaid for that over the years with the special treatment the PGA Tour and the individual tournaments gave him.

But Steinberg’s declaration that it’s a chance for Woods to interact with fans rings hollow.  Woods has ample opportunity to interact at every tournament and chooses not to.  He blasts by waiting fans daily, never even acknowledging them.  And now he wants to interact?  Yes, interact with answers to selective tweets and posts…that’s not interaction, that’s a commercial.

So Tiger gets heat for his club kicking at The Masters, Sean Foley rants that the press is too hard on Tiger and now Steiny says Tiger wants to interact with the fans.  Yea right…and I’m a scratch golfer.

Woods and Steinberg just don’t get it.  If Tiger really wanted more interaction with fans all he needs to do is stop and sign a few autographs and shake a few hands (see Arnold Palmer and Phil Mickelson).  This is a good idea, Woods using social media, and if he had added this initiative in addition to his usual press conference he would have been hailed for taking action for his fans.  But no, Team Tiger has shot themselves in the foot.

If Steinberg had added this plan this week and then opted out of a pre-tournament press conference a few weeks from now there would be less fallout.  Spin Doctor Steinberg missed it on this one.

This isn’t about more fan interaction.  It’s all about payback to the media, the media that wasn’t kind to Woods when he fell from grace.  But this is the same media that had finally stopped asking non-golf questions.  Does Steinberg understand that Hank Haney isn’t a member of the press that sits there and tries to earn a living by getting bits and scraps from Tigers non-answers?   The spin doctor missed it here.  And Woods’ tenuous relationship with the press will suffer once again.  Maybe that’s just what he wants.

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Saturday Swing Tip: Butch Harmon, Finish Your Swing

April 28th, 2012 No comments

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Zurich Classic Round 1 Recap

April 27th, 2012 No comments

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The Sea Was Angry That Day My Friends…

April 26th, 2012 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

John Daly continues to get by on the kindness of strangers.  Daly was given a sponsor’s exemption into the Zurich Classic of New Orleans when Boo Weekly withdrew.  What a waste. They should have given that exemption to exiled Saints coach Sean Payton, I here he has nothing to do for a year.

We may get to see the name Ballesteros back on a leaderboard once again.  Seve’s son Javier will play on the Spanish Peugeot Tour but hasn’t yet declared as a professional.

Some big names are teeing it up at the European Tour’s Ballantine’s Championship in South Korea.   Adam Scott, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Y.E. Yang, Darren Clarke and Miguel Angel Jimenez are in the field.  MAJ was last seen mixing some cocktails and giving the youngsters advice on how to be able to party and still compete with the best.  Miguel says, “Of course it’s also pretty well known that I like cigars and wine but I feel you have to enjoy yourself in this life. But also, you have to work.  Everybody knows about the wine and the cigars but nobody saw me this morning at 7.30am in the gym, running.”

The LPGA moves to Alabama this week and I’m not the only one that thinks that the best golfer in the world doesn’t play on the men’s tour.

All week we have been hearing how Bubba Watson is a journalist’s dream.  He always comes up with some interesting quote so the press can get a good story.  But Jeff Rude has a different take, as he always does, and thinks that Bubba may have an issue or two with the boys in “the media.”  Rude says, “Yet there was something a bit concerning about his news conference in The Big Easy. Watson went out of his way a few times, sometimes playfully, to poke ‘the media.’ One sensed an undercurrent of distrust or dislike.”  The headline could have read, “Freshly minted media darling bites the hand that helps feed.”

You can’t make this stuff up, or maybe you can.  At least the writers on Seinfeld did years ago when they wrote the hysterically funny episode about George Costanza impersonating a marine biologist as he tries to rescue a beached whale.  It is a classic episode and simply one of the funniest scenes ever.  It turns out there may have been some basis for a whale/golf ball encounter.  A dead gray whale was found on the beach in Washington and a golf ball was found in its stomach, along with other assorted garbage.  The golf ball wasn’t related to the whales’ death but that immediately brought to mind the Seinfeld episode.  You never know where that ball is going to wind up.  “Is that a Titleist?”
Check it out at the 4:30 mark.

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Bubba Watson: The Dangers of An American Folk Hero

April 25th, 2012 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Bubba Watson is back on the course for the first time since his amazing Masters victory at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.  Watson has captured the imagination of legions of fans that revel in his down home, average Joe, Bubba from Baghdad persona.

He seemed relaxed and candid during his pre-tournament press conference.  He admitted to finally changing the diapers of his new son Caleb and he thinks that his popularity is based on the fact that he has a homemade swing and loves playing golf just like all his fans.  But he is anything but an average golfer.  His appeal is off the charts and the recently crowned “New American Folk Hero” has to be careful not to follow the path of some past folk heroes.

Bubba and one of the PGA Tour good old boys who wore the crown as a folk hero actually went to the same high school.  Boo Weekly went to Milton High School as did Bubba (and PGA winner Heath Slocum.)   Watson and Weekly grew up in the same part of the Florida pan handle and both can be called straight shooting, red necks that enjoy laughing at themselves as much as they do playing golf.

Boo Weekly was Bubba Watson five years ago, minus the green jacket.  Weekly had won the Verizon Heritage in back to back seasons and provided the press with quote after quote of ‘Booisms’.  He was just a good ‘ol boy who was playing golf until he could retire so he would be able to go fishing all day.  He his remembered for his famous move at the 2008 Ryder Cup where he rode his driver off the tee like a bucking bronco to the cheers of the American fans.  Boo was a hero, a folk hero.  But fame is fleeting and so was Boo’s golf game.

That wild ride at the Ryder Cup was Weekly’s last moment in the sun as he has managed only five top ten finishes since 2009.  Being a bit different and making some memorable quotes may make you popular on tour but winning sets you apart.  As Weekly’s game deteriorated his popularity faded.

Watson also has some similarities to the granddaddy of all folk heroes in golf, John Daly.  Daly has an unequalled resume for any folk hero: The ‘91 PGA Championship, The ’95 Open Championship, five PGA tour wins and a “Grip it and Rip It” style that became his calling card.  Daly won the PGA as an alternate and took the golf world by storm with his hard playing and harder partying lifestyle.  Fans loved him and he rode the wave as American Folk Hero for a long time but his no rules, self destructive lifestyle cost him a chance at a much more productive career.  Daly is relegated to an afterthought and has burned so many bridges it’s a miracle he has anywhere left to play.  Daly was at the top of the golf world but he has one win in the last seventeen years and is now more sideshow than golfer.

Bubba Watson is at the top of the golf world right now and from all appearances he is relishing the ride.  But such a rarified status is a fragile thing.  Being in the spotlight can be a difficult task and Bubba is on record as saying he isn’t comfortable with it but so far he has embraced his new role.  He needs to realize that being tabbed “The New American Folk Hero” can be just as dangerous as it is exciting.

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Going Old School in New Orleans

April 25th, 2012 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Bubba Watson and the boys return to New Orleans this week as America’s most popular good old boy defends his 2011 title.  Some PGA professionals were rockin’ it old school for at the Zurich Classic for a few holes.  Keegan Bradley, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell, Ben Crane and Camilo Villegas all dressed in circa 1912 attire during the ForeKids Foundation 3 hole Charity Shoot Out.  Complete with hickory shafts the nattily attired pros certainly looked like they would fit right in next to Harry Vardon and Walter Hagen.  There’s no truth to the rumor that TaylorMade will be introducing a white, 460cc, hickory shafted driver, at least right now anyway.

Click here for a neat slideshow of the “Old School” pros in action.

 

 

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Memorable Moments: Zurich Classic of New Orleans

April 25th, 2012 No comments

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