by Jeff Skinner
Masters Countdown: 13 Days
Phil Mickelson struggled for years to win a major but found the magic at the 2004 Masters. He has since claimed three more majors which include a PGA Championship and two more cherished green jackets.
by Jeff Skinner
1. Few golfers can go from sizzling hot to freezing cold as quickly as Phil Mickelson. With a missed cut at Arnie’s place and The Masters in his sights it’s time for Philly Mick to get warm in Houston. This is a 72 hole practice round for him.
2. Cheers to Jordan Spieth who has earned over $500,000 in only four events to earn a Temporary Special Exemption. That means he has unlimited sponsor’s exemptions and we’ll be seeing a lot more of the youngster this season.
3. It was refreshing to hear Stacy Lewis and Yani Tseng trade compliments when Lewis took Tseng’s number one spot. But the two will be going at it next month when they face off at their first major, The Kraft Nabisco, with the top spot on the line.
4. So Vijay Singh withdraws from The Shell Houston Open but commits to Hilton Head. It’s been two months since he admitted to violating the PGA Tour’s Substance Policy but still no action from Finchem. This just looks bad, really bad.
5. We’ve seen a lot of the newly transplanted Lee Westwood this season. Since moving to the states he’s played more events earlier in his season and has been hanging out with the boys on The Morning Drive. But he might not be pleased with his early results with only one top ten in six events. Last season in his first six starts on the PGA Tour he had four top tens, including a T3 at The Masters.
6. Ernie Els was spotted using a conventional putter at an Asian Tour event this week. The Big Easy says no matter how he plays with it this week he’ll still use the belly putter at The Masters. And it might just be the last time he wields the long one at Augusta.
7. Raise your hand if you had enough of the Tavistock Cup. I have both hands raised. What started as a novel way to see a few pros play as club members has grown into an unbearable display of an insulated world so far removed from the average golfer it is obnoxious. Didn’t watch one second and never will again.
8. Rory McIlroy is back in action this week at Houston and expressed relief at not being world number one, kind of. On not having to be “the most talked about golfer” he said, “It’s a nice thing.” Now that’s not the killer attitude that Nike signed up for. Oh, but they have that in Tiger Woods.
9. It’s not too early to mention the U.S. Open which is going back to Merion Golf Club this year. Merion has one of the richest histories in golf. It has hosted 18 USGA championships including five U.S. Opens. Bobby Jones played in his first national championship there and his last when he clinched his Grand Slam in 1930. Ben Hogan completed his comeback with a win at the 1950 Open there and Lee Trevino beat Jack Nicklaus in an 18 hole playoff at Merion’s 1971 U.S. Open. And that’s just a bit of the history from one of the most storied clubs in America.
10. Year’s ago Ford Motor Company had an ad campaign with Phil Mickelson which featured the tag line”What will Phil do next.” And we’ve been asking that question ever since. Check out this video with Phil flopping a ball over wedge designer, Roger Cleveland’s head. We’ve seen Phil do this with Dave Pelz before and Pelz is much taller than Cleveland but Phil is only a sand wedge away from Cleveland. Now that’s confidence, for both of them.
by Jeff Skinner
Tiger Woods is off to a dominating start in 2013 with three wins in five PGA Tour starts. Woods is once again atop the world rankings and has regained that swagger and confidence he had lost while struggling to find his game.
Woods lead the Tour in a number of critical scoring statistics and his game has peaked just at the right time for his charge at another Masters title. Woods is first on Tour in Strokes Gained Putting, Eagles, Scoring Average, FedExCup Points, Money and of course Victories.
But what makes Woods’ productive season so amazing is that he ranks a lowly 142nd in Driving Accuracy and only 75th in Greens in Regulation. So in short, Tiger can’t find a fairway, only hits two thirds of the greens but gets it in the hole better than anyone else.
I can’t imagine what will happen if he can get his driver under control and start hitting more greens. Oh yes I can…does the year 2000 ring a bell? In 2000 when Tiger played a different game than everyone else on tour and he won nine tournaments, including three majors he ranked 54th in Driving Accuracy and first in Greens in Regulation. (And first in just about every other category.)
The bottom line is that Woods’ game is back to a level he feels can win majors with. And with that game came his attitude.
Check out Doug Ferguson’s breakdown of Tigers 77 PGA Tour wins. It’s an interesting analysis of Tigers’ career and once again proves that Ferguson is one of the hardest working writers in sports.
by Jeff Skinner
With Tiger Woods’ eighth win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational the two are linked in golf history forever. And this video from EA Sports for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 carries their relationship a step further. It’s hysterical.
by Jeff Skinner
Let this be an end to a popular debate that has been front and center in golf recently. Tiger Woods is back and he has the numbers to prove it.
With Woods’ eighth win at The Arnold Palmer Invitational he supplants his pal Rory McIlroy as the number one player in the Official World Golf Rankings. No one has spent more time at number one and the way Woods is playing lately he isn’t about to relinquish his familiar spot as the best golfer in the world.
What was billed as a Tiger vs. Rickie Fowler showdown turned out to be a relative walk in the park for Woods. Fowler took too long to find a birdie and then self-destructed with two balls in the water at sixteen and fell into a tie for third. Justin Rose who finished second, made a small run but he essentially lost his chance with a 39 on his Saturday back nine.
This win is Tiger’s 77th win on the PGA Tour and he trails all-time leader Sam Snead by five wins. With some luck he might just pass Slammin Sammy before this season is over.
Woods claimed his third win in 2013 and his sixth in twelve months and right now there is no golfer playing as good as Woods. He has three wins in five starts on tour and if he keeps winning at that pace he could win ten tournaments this season.
There is still one thing missing on his “Comeback Resume” and that’s a major championship. He last won a major at the 2008 U.S. Open but is heading into The Masters playing his best golf in five years. In two weeks he’ll be looking to slip on his fifth green jacket and finally put every question about “his comeback” to rest.
by Jeff Skinner
The new golf season has brought forth another crop of new clubs with promises of “longer and straighter shots.” And isn’t that what we all want…a few more straight yards with every club. Nike Golf has become one of the big players in golf as it has the two best and biggest players under contract.
Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods both play and wear Nike and to think that Nike didn’t even start to make their own clubs until 2002 after starting their golf division in 1998.
This year’s big splash by Nike is their VRS Covert line, the first cavity back line of drivers, fairways and hybrids. Rory carries the VRs Covert and Nike would love all of us to try it.
The Golf Galaxy chain of stores is one of the retailers that in partnership with Nike is promoting the VRS Coverts.
The new VRS Covert is packed with new technology: High speed cavity back technology for longer and straighter shots. The FlexLoft adjustability system allows you to independently choose your loft and face angle to fit your swing and maximize your distance. The NexCor Face Technology produces faster, longer shots across a wider area of the face.
It’s a fun experience that gives you some real insight into their technology. The Nike rep first spends a few minutes with you taking down some info including your e-mail address so they can send you all your data after you demo the clubs.
So you start off by swinging a driver and the Nike Rep records your data: launch angel, ball speed, spin rate and carry. After a few solid hits (all which felt really good) he makes some adjustments. For most golfers it’s an increase in loft that does the trick. For me he raised the loft and closed the face a bit and it worked.
There it was…a few more yards and straighter ones at that.
I will say this; the whole VRS Covert Line was impressive. After waiting a bit to have my chance in the simulator and hitting the driver we tested out the fairways and the hybrids and I thought both were very solid and long hitting clubs.
The Nike Rep was very well informed on the VRS Covert line and more than helpful when it came to adjustments and recommendations. And I got a two pack of Nike 20XI balls. Now that’s a deal that can’t be beat.
Head out and demo these clubs and you won’t be disappointed.
On a side note, the Golf Galaxy stores have to be the most complete and well stocked golf retailer going. If they don’t have it you don’t need it. Click here for the Golf Galaxy Stores.
by Jeff Skinner
Masters Countdown: 16 days
Every golf fan knows that The Masters Champion walks off with a smart looking green jacket but that’s not all he gets. Of course he cashes a big check and garners more press than any single winner in golf but there is plenty more swag to be handed out and not just for the champion.
The members at Augusta National are a very generous group and choose to award players with significant amounts of hardware to commemorate their achievements at The Masters. Here’s a snapshot of the gifts the green coats give the players.
The permanent Masters Trophy, which depicts the Clubhouse, was introduced in 1961. It was made in England and consists of over 900 separate pieces of silver. The trophy rests on a pedestal, and bands of silver provide space to engrave the name of the winner and runner-up. In 1993, a Sterling replica of the permanent Masters trophy was first awarded to the champion, along with the Gold Medal.
The Champion receives: His name engraved on permanent Masters Trophy which remains at Club. He also wins a Sterling Replica of Masters Trophy, a Gold Medal featuring a view of the Founders Circle in front of the Clubhouse. And of course the Green Jacket.
The Runner Up receives: His name engraved on permanent Masters Trophy which remains at Club, a silver tray called the Silver Salver and a silver medal. Since 1951, the runner-up also receives a 1.7 ounce silver medallion showing the Clubhouse from the Founders Circle off Magnolia Lane. It is the same size as the winner’s gold medallion.
The Low Amateur and Low Amateur Runner Up also get some hardware with the Low Am walking off with a Silver Cup and the Runner Up receiving a silver medal.
And many players go home with plenty of cherished Augusta Crystal. The player with the day’s low score receives a crystal vase and any hole in one gets a crystal bowl. An eagle at Augusta National will get you a pair of crystal goblets. And if a player does his best Gene Sarazan imitation and cards an elusive double eagle he be leaving Augusta with a very large crystal bowl and one heck of a memory.
By Jeff Skinner
Yes, this is why we say the pros on the PGA Tour play a different game than us. With his ball semi-submerged at the 17th hole at Bay Hill, Nicholas Thompson passed on the ball retriever and got down, dirty and wet. He hits the shot of the week…heck maybe the season and goes on to par the hole. That’s why we play the game to try and make a shot like this.