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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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Nine Holes With the Back Nine at Augusta National

Apr. 4, 2012     By     Comments (0)

ProfilesAugusta National has a solid front nine, but it's the back nine where the course really shines. Every hole can easily lead to a bogey but each one is also birdie-able, as Charl Schwartzel and others showed us last year. Because of this, going into the back nine on Sunday everyone within shouting distance of the lead is still in the tournament.

Last year we saw Tiger destroy the front nine, then shoot a disappointing 36 on the back nine. Conversely, Charl was just two under on the front nine but he laid siege to the last four holes of the back nine, and pulled out the tournament.

A complete about-face from their earlier deadlines, Augusta National has opened up recently. No, they haven't changed their membership policy, but Augusta National now offers the most comprehensive online streaming infrastructure in golf. Augusta has also added more early-round coverage, and the addition of the course to the Tiger Woods PGA Tour video game has given us unprecedented access to one of the most interesting courses in golf.

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Five New Features from Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13

Apr. 4, 2012     By     Comments (1)

Trap Five LogoFor the past few months, EA Sports has been slowly rolling out its list of new features for this year's edition of Tiger Woods PGA Tour. Starting with the fan voting that put Ricky Fowler on the cover of the U.S. version and Rory McIlroy on the international version, it has been a busy year for the developers.

After adapting the game to the Nintendo Wii and, more recently, the Playstation Move, this year EA is bringing the game to the Xbox 360 Kinect, which requires no controller at all and relies on cameras to track your body's movement. Also new this year are Tiger Legacy, which lets you play as Tiger Woods as a kid, online country clubs, Total Swing Control, as well as a crop of new players and courses.

With EA Sports' recent release of the newest edition of Tiger Woods PGA Tour, here are five of the most important new features you can expect to see in Tiger Woods PGA Tour Tour 13.

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My “Other” Favorite Golfers

Mar. 10, 2012     By     Comments (16)

Trap Five LogoEverybody has a few golfers out there that they just like for seemingly no reason. It could be because they won in your hometown, they are sponsored by your favorite brand, or because even the dress in a strange way. Much like picking favorite sports team, picking a favorite golfer doesn't have to be rational. In fact, a friend of mine from northern New Jersey is a die-hard Miami Dolphins fan. Why? Because as a kid he liked their team colors.

With parity becoming more and more prevalent in sports, stories like that (or at least the golf version, say, Ian Poulter's love of pink) are becoming more popular. Tiger and Phil haven't done as much as we were accustomed to over last few years, and their poor play has paved the way for many new faces to get time on T.V. Thanks to the PGA Tour's lenient rules that allow past greats to hang around, older guys have been able to stay on the radar.

Nine Holes With the History of Golf Part Two: The King, The Bear, and The Tiger

Feb. 28, 2012     By     Comments (0)

ProfilesOne of the best things about the game of golf is the vast history. Golf has had transcendent athletes almost constantly over the last 150 years, and as I attempted to categorize them all I found myself writing, and writing, and writing. (I tried to do this with baseball, and all I got down was "Yankees, then… more Yankees, and a little more Yankees. And then the Red Sox won. And then the Yankees…") In classifying the history of golf, these last 50 years are where it got tough, as I had to figure out what do do with Jack Nickluas. Jack had legitimate rivals in Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson at completely different ends of his own expansive career. I ultimately decided to combine Nicklaus and Watson, and give Palmer his own era. I'm sure they won't mind.

Anyway, without further ado, we are back again this week with the most recent eras in golf, starting with The King and ending with El Tigre.

Nine Holes With the History of Golf Part One: Pre-Palmer

Feb. 14, 2012     By     Comments (4)

ProfilesUnlike sports like baseball or football, golf's eras have been primarily defined and dominated by a key one or two players. While baseball is divided into eras based on the differences of the game (Dead and Lively Ball Eras, Integration Era, Free Agency Era, Steroid Era) and football and basketball are mostly defined by mergers, golf's era are most easily divided by the dominant player, and these great players actually cut up the history of golf up quite well. Because 150 years of golf is tough to cut down, today we'll look at everything before Arnold Palmer, right up to and including the Nelson/Hogan/Snead Era.

From the ancient history of the early Open Championship days, to the relative parity of the 1980s and early 1990s, to the modern Tiger Woods era, golf is just begging to be split up and defined. So let's do it.

Five PGA Tour Rookies to Watch For in 2012

Feb. 3, 2012     By     Comments (1)

Trap Five LogoAt the beginning of the season last year, I was trying (just as I am now) to write a column documenting the various rookies on the PGA Tour. And while there were a few nice stories, there simply just wasn't enough to fill out a whole article. Fast forward to the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club, when Tour rookie Keegan Bradley was in the mix, and I began lamenting not writing the column. Bradley would to be the main fixture of the article, because while he didn't start with the highest of expectations, I knew more about him than most people, since we went to the same high school. (For the record, the other names I had written down were Jamie Lovemark, Justin Hicks, Kevin Chappell, Nate Smith, and Michael Thompson).

Unfortunately, there was simply not enough there, and a year of lamenting that fact has led me to this. Luckily, 2012 has provided us with a few more big names (a full list can be found here), as well as some nice stories, so without further ado, here are five Tour rookies likely to make a splash in 2012.

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Tiger Woods in 2012: What Now?

Jan. 22, 2012     By     Comments (0)

Thrash TalkThere are two parts to me, the golf fan. The first part is the one that smirked when Zach Johnson's putt was left the entire way on the last hole at Sherwood, the part of me that jumped out of my desk chair and pumped my fist when Tiger's putt went in. That's the part of me that live chatted 2011's Masters, begging Tiger's eagle put on the 15th at the Masters to go in. The part of me that watched the entire Monday playoff in the 2008 U.S. Open, watched his chip on 16th at the 2005 Masters roll and roll and roll… and then fall. That's the part of me that hazily remembers the 1997 Masters. I call that part of me "Optimist." Otherwise known as "Irrational."

The other part, "Realist," lives in a post-2009-Thanksgiving world. A world in which Tiger Woods destroyed himself. He's not Ben Hogan and a bus didn't nearly crush him late one night. He messed up. Post-2009 me, still a fan of Tiger's on-course achievements, has felt stupid for two years for not moving on.

What am I supposed to do? Every time I think he's done, he gives me the eighth hole at the Masters. Every time I think he's back he gives me the PGA. Then he looks wholly average at the Frys.com, and event he could have dominated just two years ago. Now this. He wins an 18-man event, his own event, and I'm supposed to think he's ready for 2012? He's ready to challenge Nicklaus? He's ready to tell Rory and Rickie "Eh, not yet guys?" I don't think so.

Five Things I’m Thankful for from 2011

Jan. 22, 2012     By     Comments (0)

Trap Five LogoFellow golfers, it's that time again. No, Lee Westwood hasn't choked away another major; it's the beginning of a new year. Time to hunker down under five feet of snow, wistfully stare at the golf clubs in your basement sitting on top of the treadmill collecting dust, and game plan for next year. You're going to be a 10 handicap by June, and make it to the single-digit by August. That new driver you just got yourself for Christmas doesn't look quite as nice, as you read the Golf Digest Equipment issue, but it's a new year and you're going to hit the ball longer than ever. A 48-inch driver shaft is all you've been missing. Accuracy be damned!

All kidding aside, this is supposed to be a happy time of year full of new beginnings and fresh starts, and I have plenty of things to be thankful for, in golf, in life, and this is as good a time as any to put them into writing. Join me in helping send off 2011, will you?

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