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Hittin’ 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.

Volume Four Hundred Thirty

Apr. 27, 2015     By     Comments (0)

Hittin' the LinksGet your bracket ready. The WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship, the most unique of the WGC events, returns next week.

There's a new format designed to keep the game's best around for more of the tournament. Instead of single-elimination from the start, the event now features a round of pool play with the top points-earner from each of 16 groups advancing to the more familiar bracket.

There will be two notable absences from the star-studded field this year: Phil Mickelson will skip the event for personal reasons and Tiger Woods failed to qualify. Still, the field features the top 64 OWGR players (and alternates) and should be a fun watch with the TPC Harding Park as the backdrop and antagonist.

But before we get too far into next week, let's hit the links.

Volume Four Hundred Twenty Nine

Apr. 20, 2015     By     Comments (0)

Hittin' the LinksSpieth-mania was in full force and hard to miss in the week following young Jordan's victory at the Masters. Among his appearances: the Late Show with David Letterman, the TODAY Show, CNBC Squawk Box, Morning Drive, CBS This Morning, the Dan Patrick Show, ESPN Radio, Mike and Mike in the Morning and too many more to mention.

Somewhat surprisingly, Spieth honored his commitment to the RBC Heritage when he could have justifiably begged off. Very surprisingly he didn't just go through the motions, he was competitive, finishing T-11. It's going to be very interesting to see how Spieth develops over the next few years and to see if the budding Rory-Jordan rivalry can be what we always hoped Tiger-Phil would be.

Let's hit the links.

Volume Four Hundred Twenty Eight

Apr. 13, 2015     By     Comments (0)

Hittin the LinksWe're now three and a half months into 2015, and one major championship into the golf season. Jordan Spieth, runner up a year ago, outlasted charges from major winners Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson, and Rory McIlroy to win his first green jacket (possibly one of many to come).

Spieth was dominant early on, and was able to coast to a record-tying final score of -18. He's the second-youngest Masters winner even, trailing only Tiger's 1997 victory, and he broke or tied just about every record his age didn't disqualify him from.

Woods himself joined in on the low scoring for a few days before Spieth dominance, and Tiger's own shoddy play on Sunday, knocked him out of contention.

We also take a look at great tournaments by Phil and Rory, a new limited edition shoe from Nike, bask in a bit of '90s nostalgia, and check in on old friend Anthony Kim.

Let's hit the links.

Volume Four Hundred Twenty-Seven

Apr. 6, 2015     By     Comments (0)

Hittin' the LinksIn other words, 60 percent of the time this week HTL covers the Masters 100 percent of the time.

It's the most wonderful time of the year for golfers. The Masters heralds the arrival (or in the northerly climes the pending arrival) of golf season, at least for those of us who live north of the subtropics. Even in New England, the snow is melting. Yes, it looks like winter is finally losing its hold, and there may be golf soon, even in Augusta, Maine.

In Georgia, the dogwood and azaleas are blooming, the pines are scenting the breeze, and the grass is that amazing shade of green that can only mean that the calendar is right... Spring is here.

On Sunday, the kids had their day on the grounds of Augusta National as the annual Drive, Chip, and Putt Championship took place on the range and 18th green. Next up at that hallowed course: the main event.

The buildup to the season's first major (real majors aren't subject to name changes from year to year) has been coming to a crescendo this week. When Tiger's plane was spotted at the airport in Augusta last week it led to (even more) rampant conjecture as to whether the world #104 (as of April 5) will play (he will). Mickelson's game finally showed signs of life in the first two rounds at Houston, before a Saturday 75 set him back. McIlroy and Watson will be rested and ready, while Spieth, Holmes, and Walker are riding solid play and recent wins into Augusta. It's gonna be good. Let's hit the links.

Volume Four Hundred Twenty Six

Mar. 31, 2015     By     Comments (1)

Hittin' the LinksLast week was a busy time in golf. Augusta is just around the corner and the LPGA is playing a major this week. A lot of weird stuff and a lot of cool stuff happened.

Here's a guy stealing a set of clubs. If you recognize him, please contact the authorities. A Seattle taxi driver left a customer in the cab while he stopped to hit golf balls. A golf course protest ended when the protester fell out of a tree. Will MacKenzie talked about "carnage" and his days as a safety kayaker on the Gallatin River in Montana. Luke Donald appeared to feel much the same way I do about Disney World. The PGA TOUR took exception to the color of a caddie's shorts. And Ohio is the third best state for golf. It says so right here.

In the extremely small category of stories about Tiger Woods that don't revolve around speculating whether he will or won't play in the Masters, this story about his helping to establish a scholarship honoring Charlie Sifford.

Oh, and Winter is coming. But first Spring and majors season is upon us. So let's hit the links.

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