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Hittin’ 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.

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.

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