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Volume Four Hundred Thirty-Nine

Jun. 29, 2015     By     Comments (0)

Hittin' the LinksDid anyone else find it ironic that the U.S. Senior Open, played in a state in the midst of a serious drought was played on a course that was green and relatively lush, while the U.S. Open in the rainy Pacific Northwest was 50 shades of brown? Go figure.

Speaking of the U.S. Open, there's still plenty to talk about. Did the USGA just go for a cash grab at the expense of the championship? Was the course a disgrace or is it a challenging American links?

Let's hit the links.

Volume Four Hundred Thirty-Eight

Jun. 22, 2015     By     Comments (0)

Hittin' the LinksFor a championship that had so much hand wringing over the course and relative unknowns turning up on the leaderboard, the 2015 U.S. Open gave us an exciting and, in the end, shocking finish.

Dustin Johnson's three-putt par on the final hole to come up a shot short of a playoff was a gut punch for his fans, and you hate to see it end that way, but it's hard to complain about the final leaderboard. Aside from a few surprises (Branden Grace and Cameron Smith), most of the names in final contention were ones you would expect to see. We saw charges from deep in the field by big names (Scott and McIlroy), and a 13-shot resurrection after an abysmal first round by a past major champion (Oosthuizen T2 -4). Adam Scott, in fact, was just one shot off the all-time low round at a U.S. Open, shooting 64 for a T4 finish (seems that having Stevie back on the bag agrees with him).

At just 21 (how many times did we hear that this weekend?), Jordan Spieth is the youngest U.S. Open winner since Bobby Jones. He has won two straight majors. And he will be going for the third leg of the Grand Slam at St. Andrews next month. It didn't come all that easily, though. Spieth had a three-shot lead standing on the 17th tee before hitting his worse shot of the week and making double-bogey. He rebounded with a birdie on the par-five 18th. When Dustin Johnson, playing in the group behind Spieth, failed to convert a 12-footer for eagle to win, and then a four-footer for birdie to win, Spieth was handed the Championship.

The second biggest winner of the week may have been Jason Day, whose gutsy performance while battling vertigo and looking like he might collapse at any time earned him a lot of new fans. What a week! Let's hit the links.

Volume Three Hundred Thirty-Seven

Jun. 15, 2015     By     Comments (0)

Hittin' the LinksIt's U.S. Open week! Can we just fast forward to Thursday?

As always, there are a lot of questions to be answered in the U.S. Open. Is the course too difficult? Too quirky? Can Rory rebound from several poor showings following his win in Charlotte? Will Phil finally get his U.S. Open and the career grand slam? Can Tiger find the fairway? Can DJ overpower Chambers Bay? Will a dark horse from the field surprise everyone? Or is this going to be a year for the ages for young Jordan Spieth?

In the meantime, there were not one but two majors this past weekend. The women played one at historic Westchester, while the old guys vied at Belmont. And it was a week for front runners to pull away. Let's hit the links.

Volume Four Hundred Thirty-Six

Jun. 8, 2015     By     Comments (0)

Hittin' the LinksMaybe we should all be traveling to Scandinavia for our golf vacations. They seem to play some awfully good golf there. In fact, it was a Scandinavian Slam this week on the major tours. Two Swedes and a Norwegian claimed titles on the PGA TOUR, European Tour, and LPGA Tour, respectively. Skål!

The struggles of the #175 (and falling) golfer in world continue. I followed Tiger Woods for his last five holes at Muirfield Village, and I was far from alone. Even shooting over par and dead last of those who made the cut, Tiger still moves the needle. Several thousand were walking with Woods, at a brisk pace, as the five-time Memorial winner played his final round of the 2015 tournament alone and in just over three hours.

Final U.S. Open qualifying tees off Monday morning. Major #2 of the year is getting close. Let's hit the links.

Volume Four Hundred Thirty-Five

Jun. 1, 2015     By     Comments (0)

Hittin' the LinksRain featured prominently in two of three tournaments this weekend (and the Memorial doesn't start until Thursday). The Byron Nelson was nearly a washout, but some solid work by the grounds crew got (most) of the course into playing condition. In Northern Ireland, the weather does a great imitation of Scottish weather, with cold rain blowing sideways across the links.

Speaking of raining on someone's parade, the Golf Channel just can't be nice to Monty. During an interview following Colin Montgomery's 2nd-straight victory at the Senior PGA Championship, the Golf Channel put up a graphic noting his 31 European Tour wins, with "No majors" in parentheses.

All in all, it was a strange (and wet) week. Let's hit the links.

Volume Four Hundred Thirty-Four

May. 25, 2015     By     Comments (0)

Hittin' the LinksThere was so much rain at the first of the back-to-back Dallas-Ft. Worth area events that the PGA TOUR instituted preferred lies through the green. Players were able to lift, clean, and place the ball everywhere but hazards. Naturally scores went low. John Huh tied the second-lowest back nine in tournament history with a 29. Jason Bohn did the same on the front. These guys are really good when they get to tee up every shot.

Across the pond, the European Tour's top event was bereft of the game's top player on the weekend. A week after he looked unbeatable at Quail Hollow, Rory McIlroy couldn't find the fairway (or the green or his putter) and failed to make the cut. When his timing is off with the driver, McIlroy doesn't have a plan B to go to.

In French Lick, Indiana, they held a Senior PGA Championship and a U.S. Open broke out (for the first three days anyway). Precision was the name of the game, and, this just in, Colin Montgomerie is a great iron player.

Let's hit the links.

Volume Four Hundred Thirty-Three

May. 18, 2015     By     Comments (0)

Hittin' the LinksThis just in... Rory McIlroy is good.

In fact, when Rory McIlroy is on (as he was during a course-record setting third round at Quail Hollow), he does a pretty good Tiger Woods circa 2000 imitation. He is playing a different game than the rest of the field. Luckily for the other players, unlike how Woods used to do McIlroy does not win with his B-game (at least not yet).

It would be great to have a real rivalry, like Palmer-Nicklaus-Player, but for that to happen the rivals need to be at relatively the same level. Jordan Speith's Masters win and Rickie Fowler taking the Players were both impressive wins. And those guys are among the elite on TOUR. But if McIlroy played every week like he played this one, everybody else would be playing for second, a distant one.

Let's hit the links.

Volume Four Hundred Thirty-Two

May. 11, 2015     By     Comments (0)

Hittin' the LinksWhat a finish! Even without the three-hole aggregate score playoff and one hole of sudden death, the last few hours of the Players Championship was easily the most entertaining golf of the last several years.

It featured a charge from deep in the pack, some near-miss specialists trying for redemption, and rookies defying the odds. No less than seven players had very good chances of getting to 12-under to get into the playoff, or even of reaching 13-under, which could have been good enough for the win in regulation.

Let's hit the links.

Volume Four Hundred Thirty-One

May. 5, 2015     By     Comments (0)

Hittin' the LinksI love match play. The way that each hole is a new life in the competition. How it's the basically the only scenario in golf when you are competing head to head with another person rather than solely against the course and the elements.

But TV and match play is a tough fit. Here's the thing, during the early rounds it's difficult to follow the match ups closely because the network is flipping between groups. We want to see the action but it detracts from the viewers ability to stay current with the status in each match and hence the drama. Once the bracket gets narrowed down, we get a final that is god-awful to watch when one player gets up by more than two holes. I'm not sure what the solution is, other than a multi-cast so that you could follow any group you wanted. But that is not going to happen, at least not on network television.

Golf could use a new way to showcase match play (and stroke play for that matter). But the PGA TOUR is trying to stick to (and protect) traditional media, so adamantly that they just suspended the media credentials of a journalist for using social media to "broadcast" a practice round. At a time when golf is contracting in this country, it seems somewhat short sighted to censor an innovative journalist so harshly over her coverage of (again) a practice round.

That's it for the op-ed portion. Let's hit the links.

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