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Five Stories from Olympic

Jun. 28, 2012     By     Comments (1)

Trap Five LogoAnother major championship is in the books and you know what that means. Another Lee Westwood backdoor top-10, another Tiger Woods weekend mini-meltdown, and another drunk lunatic hauled from the trophy presentation by Mike Davis.

The Lake Course at Olympic Club put up a pretty tough test, producing the highest winning score since Oakmont in 2007. In fact, if you look past Oakmont and Winged Foot (2006), Webb Simpson's +1 would be the highest winning score since Andy North won at Cherry Hills in 1978. After Rory McIlroy took advantage of moisture en route to a -16 last year, firm and fast was the name of the game this year, especially from Thursday through Saturday. A thick layer of fog blanketed the course on Sunday, and though players could stop the ball a bit easier, some of them struggled to actually take advantage of that fact (Tiger Woods being the most obvious example).

Though the three golfers who were really in it late (Simpson, 54-hole leader Jim Furyk, and 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell) aren't the most jovial cast of characters, the last few holes were some of the most exciting of the year. We got to see two golfers play the 18th hole, a hole that doesn't require particularly high stakes to produce good television, needing a birdie. Three shots from 341 yards could have forced a playoff, but in the end Webb Simpson held them both off.

Here are five of the most interesting story-lines form the 2012 U.S. Open.

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Five Pairings for the U.S. Open

Jun. 14, 2012     By     Comments (0)

Trap Five LogoThe 2012 U.S. Open begins right about now, and though I have no say in the makeup of the USGA's official pairings, there are some I'd like to see coming down the stretch on Sunday. Whether it's the old guard of Tiger and Phil, the young guns Rory and Rickie, the veteran Brits Donald and Westwood, the streaking Americans Dufner and Mahan, or the early-season big-tournament winners Watson and Kuchar, this year's Open is full of solid match-ups.

Every player currently in the top 13 in the world has won since last November, many in convincing fashion. Tiger, Dufner, and Mahan have all won twice, while Bubba Watson (The Masters) and Matt Kuchar (The Players) have won the year's two biggest tournaments to date.

The USGA likes to mess with the pairings, and come up with a few each year that are outside the box. Though these aren't as creative as the "guys with hyphens in their names" group or the "group of guys with initials for a first name," the way I see it, there are about ten players from the early season that stand out, and they make up five pretty great pairings.

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Nine Holes With Jason Dufner

Jun. 3, 2012     By     Comments (2)

ProfilesBefore this year, Jason Dufner didn't have much going for him. Sure, he had made over $7.5 million dollars in his career, but he had yet to win a PGA Tour event and he had just 16 top-10 finishes to his name. Prior to 2012, Dufner had missed the cut in over 40 percent of the events he played and his highest placing in the FedExCup was 25th (in 2011). Add to that his major-league choke in last year's PGA and his laughable last name, things weren't looking up for Jason Dufner.

But this year? His only missed cut was his first event, the Sony Open in Hawaii, and he has hardly come close since. A few weeks after a solid T24 at Augusta (his highest finish in the event) where he held the 36-hole lead, Dufner broke through at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans the last week of April, carding -19 and beating Ernie Els in a playoff while also holding off world number one Luke Donald. He's also spending time with the golf team from his alma mater, Auburn University, and quoting Kanye West on Twitter (he's actually an interesting golfer to follow on Twitter). After two wins, Dufner leads the Tour in money earned (already having surpassed his career high), ranked eighth in the world, and I think at one point he might just have cracked a smile. Maybe.

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Adams Idea Black CB3 Irons Review

May. 30, 2012     By     Comments (5)

Adams CB3 Irons 8 ToeAdams Golf doesn't really have much of identity right now. They've stopped airing the "number one hybrid on the Champions Tour" commercials (or maybe I've stopped watching Golf Channel at 2 AM?), and they don't really have a repetitive nomenclature. They're not revered for their huge revenues like Nike or TaylorMade, and they don't have the rich history of Titleist or Mizuno.

I could complain about the naming of Adams' clubs from now until Tiger Woods passes Jack's record, but to dwell on that would be doing to complete disservice to the irons that Adams has been putting out recently. Clubs like the Idea Pro Black MB, the Idea Black CB2, and the Idea MB2 have been laying the groundwork for Adams' venture into the crossover realm of player's clubs and GI clubs. They've entered the world in between, where clubs can be forged from 8620 carbon steel yet still have the offset needed to get the ball into the air.

The name of the game in the category that these clubs reside is simple: you can hit these clubs. Your swing looks worse than that of President Obama? You can hit these. (And if the President is reading this, a lefty set is available.) Hovering around a 10 handicap? You can hit these. Nearing scratch golf? You can hit these golf clubs. Read on to let me convince you.

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Adams Speedline Fast 12 Fairway Wood Review

May. 30, 2012     By     Comments (1)

Adams Fast 12 Wood Hero Sole (2)Short of only the TaylorMade Rocketballz, this year's Adams Fast 12 fairway woods are some of the most hyped in the business. They have feature after feature designed specifically to give golfers the most distance, not only on-center strikes but on off-center hits as well. It remains to be seen if their sale to TaylorMade-Adidas helps or hurts the company, but in recent years Adams has been putting out some of the best woods in golf, and this year seems to be no different.

With features such as second-generation Velocity Slot Technology (which includes a slot within a slot), Speed Coat design of the shaft, and Speedline aerodynamic design, Adams is not short on innovation. Adams is calling the Fast 12 fairways woods their "longest and most forgiving" yet, and are even claiming that Kenny Perry gained 35 yards. They say that the improved slot enhances launch conditions for more carry and greater distance.

This is a lot of hype for a company that has made it's marketing staple over the last decade "number one hybrid of the Champions Tour." Read on to see if they can back it up.

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Butch Harmon About Golf DVD Review

May. 18, 2012     By     Comments (6)

Butch Harmon About Golf CoverButch Harmon is one of the biggest names in golf. He has been Golf Digest's top-ranked golf coach every year since 2003, and he is the mastermind behind Tiger's early career swing. He has coached some of the biggest names in golf, including Greg Norman, Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Adam Scott, and Natalie Gulbis.

You may know Butch from his many media appearances, his 2006 book, The Pro, his PGA Tour win (the Broome County Open in 1971), or his monthly column for Golf Digest. The son of 1948 Masters winner Claude Harmon, Butch teaches amateurs and professionals primarily out of Las Vegas, Nevada, and has been in golf for over 40 years.

Butch is back, and this time with an all-inclusive DVD, Butch Harmon About Golf. The two-disc set of instruction contain about four hours of golf, with 57 chapters including the full swing, the mental game, and fitness. It even includes interviews and conversations with some of Butch's most famous pupils. Is it worth the $80 USD plus $10 shipping and handling? Read on to find out.

Why Bubba Won’t Win Another Major

May. 2, 2012     By     Comments (10)

Trap Five LogoFor the seventh major championship in a row, the victor of this year's Masters was a first-time major winner. Not since Phil Mickelson in 2010 has someone won their second major, and by my count that is the longest such streak ever. With Tiger Woods perpetually on the mend and endlessly ineffective, and Phil Mickelson often too headstrong for his own good, Bubba Watson is another in the line of new entries to the major winner's circle.

Bubba, as a sold player but not of Hall-of-Fame caliber, faces stiff competition. Never before has there been so many players that match his level of play.

In addition to the state-of-the-sport challenges Bubba faces, his game has some glaring holes. While it would be a disservice to say Bubba was handed the Masters, he didn't exactly steal it away until that famed shot from the tress (and even that was only a par). Bubba has missed the cut in about a third of the events he has played over his career, and while his relatively homegrown swing might make him a nice poster-child for the anti-instructor movement, it could prove to be his ultimate undoing.

I have nothing against Bubba personally (he seems like a good guy and I did a ProFiles article about him last year), and watching his go-for-broke play is very entertaining, but I don't see him winning another major championship.

Read on to find out why.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 Review

Apr. 14, 2012     By     Comments (3)

tiger_woods_13_cover.jpgAs I do nearly every year, I was quick to pony up a good deal of cash for the new Tiger Woods PGA Tour video game. Like with most good video games I've been engrossed with it since the day I bought it, but that doesn't mean I love the game.

There are good things. For instance, the online country club feature is awesome, and we here at The Sand Trap have set up country clubs for Xbox 360 and PS3 to take advantage of that. But there is a plethora of shortcomings, not only in this game but in the series overall, and there simply has not been enough of an effort to overcome those. Numerous decisions clearly illustrate that EA Sports values the form over function when it comes to this game, and that comes at a detriment to the gameplay.

This year's edition is available for $60 for PS3 and Xbox 360, and there is a Collector's Edition for $70 also sold for both systems. We've already arrived to the first downside of Tiger 13, which is that last year's game was also available for Wii, Windows, Mac OS X, and iOS. Kinect and Move are supported, but I have neither so I won't be commenting on them. Read on to see if the price was worth it.

The Five Most Important Stories Going into Augusta

Apr. 4, 2012     By     Comments (2)

Trap Five LogoAs the first major of the year, The Masters is the year's earliest test of the state of golf. A birdie-fest win at the tournament-formerly-known-as-the Bob Hope is one thing, but playing well at Augusta is another story entirely, and this year has been loaded full of weighty stories. Luke Donald began the year at the top spot in the world, but a resurgent Rory McIlroy quickly stole that away. Despite the young Ulsterman's finishes of second, first, and third on the PGA Tour early on, Donald was able to take back the number one ranking with a victory at Innisbrook.

Equally impressive has been the play of numerous Americans, veterans and young-guns. Steve Stricker started off the year with a win at Kapalua, and he was followed by a crop of young players including Brandt Snedeker, Kyle Stanley, John Huh, and Hunter Mahan.

Phil Mickelson also picked up an early-season win at Pebble, and most recently Tiger Woods returned to the winner's circle, triumphing at Bay Hill for the seventh time. He'll have to put aside all of he talk about hank Haney's tell-all is he wants to win his fifth green jacket.

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