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Hittin’ 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.

Volume Four Hundred Twenty Five

Mar. 24, 2015     By     Comments (0)

Hittin' the LinksIt's a tough year for 54-hole leaders. At Bay Hill, Henrik Stenson joined the dubious ranks of those who failed to convert their Saturday lead into a Sunday victory. At points, he looked invincible, but a late three-putt undid a lot of solid ball striking.

This week, we got our last look before the Masters at world #1 Rory McIlroy and the short game looked shaky, but he still managed a T11 finish. The Irishman will also be the new face of EA Sports PGA TOUR 2015 video game, replacing Tiger Woods who held that role for 15 years.

Also this week, Arnold Palmer's course design company announced its first project in Scotland. The King will build a second course at Castle Stuart. And we also saw not one but two albatrosses over the weekend, which was pretty cool.

Let's hit the links.

Volume Four Hundred Twenty Four

Mar. 16, 2015     By     Comments (0)

Hittin the LinksJordan Spieth, who has managed to kick away a few solid leads over the past few years, finally notched another victory at Innisbrook, toppling the red hot Patrick Reed and a hard-charging Sean O'Hair. It took two insane flop shots on the last two holes of regulation and a bomb of a birdie putt in the playoff, but Spieth did manage to close out the Valspar Championship. Spieth now has a two PGA Tour wins, not too bad for a guy who was in first grade when Sean O'Hair turned professional.

This week we also got a check-in on Tiger Woods by Notah Begay III, we heard Patrick Reed attempt to dig himself out of the weeds, and were all witness to the mashup of rap and golf (R.I.P. to both).

Before I get too excited about the prospect of Rory McIlroy and Tom Brady playing Augusta National together, let's hit the links.

Volume Four Hundred Twenty Three

Mar. 9, 2015     By     Comments (0)

Hittin' the LinksThe Donald likes a tough golf course. That much was clear this week in Miami at Trump National Doral. J.B. Holmes' amazing 62 notwithstanding, the pros were struggling to score and, like last year, taking a few shots at the course setup. In the end, only 11 players broke par for the week.

In addition to all the news from Doral, we also learned a few interesting updates to some of the stories noted in Volume 422 of HTL.

For instance, just hours after losing his lead in last Monday's conclusion to the final round of the Honda Classic, Ian Poulter found some harsh, but cute, criticism at home. In a tweet Monday, he said: "I just got home and my 3-year-old Joshua just said 'bad daddy, you hit it in the trees'; that's funny. No more needed to be said. Sorry son."

And the story about caddies being left in a potentially unsafe tent during a thunderstorm at the Honda Classic got a humorous reprise from Rex Hoggard. After last week's black eye, I suspect the PGA TOUR will make sure that caddies are well taken care of at tournaments for the remainder of this season.

Let's hit the links.

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