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Hittin’ the Links

Volume Three Hundred Seventy-One

Jan. 28, 2014     By     Comments (0)

Hittin' the LinksWell, once again the Mickelson-Woods match up we were promised, fizzled. As in, neither was still playing on Sunday—Mickelson because his back acted up and he withdrew and Tiger because he went nine-over during a seven-hole stretch and missed the secondary cut. [bonus link] Still, Torrey Pines did not disappoint. The top of the leaderboard was packed on Sunday, with the winner in doubt until the very end. The Euro Tour went to triple overtime to choose a winner. And the LPGA event came down to an up and down for birdie on the final hole. All and all, a pretty good week.

Coming up next week, hope you like desert golf, the PGA TOUR will be in Scottsdale for the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and the Euros will tee it up in U.A.E. at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Like the Champions Tour, the LPGA needs about a month to recover from their debut event so we'll pick those two tours up later in February.

But we don't have to wait to hit the links, so let's do it.

Volume Three Hundred Seventy

Jan. 21, 2014     By     Comments (0)

Hittin' the LinksOh that rulebook! Penalty strokes continue to be big stories on the tours, especially when they are assessed to big name players in big time contention. The Abu Dhabi Championship had more than its fair share of high profile penalties and near penalties.

In the U.S., the PGA TOUR arrived on the mainland, and a guy—who was ranked almost 600th in the world last year at this time—shot three 9-under rounds to outdistance the field at the Humana Challenge. Instead of his usual caddie (his wife Justine who is pregnant with the couple's first child), he had his brother-in-law on the bag to fist bump repeatedly at the conclusion of the tournament.

This week is the PGA Merchandise show, the annual golf gearhead geekout in Orlando. Plus, we get to watch Tiger and Phil at Torrey Pines. Mickelson looked in good form at Abu Dhabi. Hopefully, Tiger comes out playing well, too, and we get a good head-to-head matchup. If not, there are another 140+ players to watch, and you'll probably recognize most of their names. If all that fails, there's still those hang gliders to watch. Let's hit the links.

Volume Three Hundred Sixty-Nine

Jan. 14, 2014     By     Comments (0)

Hittin' the LinksHawaiian golf is great for scenery and apparently for competitive juices if the Sony Open was any indication. With an hour of play left, no less than four players were in the hunt.

Next week, the senior circuit takes over on the islands while the PGA TOUR heads stateside for the Humana Challenge in La Quinta, Calif. It's still another week before the LPGA starts the season in the Bahamas. Off the course, the PGA Merchandise show is just a little over a week away.

Can you smell it in the air? The 2014 golf season is just starting to bud. Now we need to come up with a plan to make sure that groundhog doesn't see it's shadow next month. Let's hit the links.

Volume Three Hundred Sixty-Eight

Jan. 7, 2014     By     Comments (1)

Hittin' the LinksWith the "Polar Vortex" chilling half the U.S. with sub-zero weather, what better way to spend an evening than watching the pros knock the little white ball around Kapalua? (By the way, polar vortex sounds way too much like something out of The Day After Tomorrow, don't you think?)

It's 2014, a new year, a new-ish season — the 2013-14 seasons began in October on the PGA TOUR and in November on the European Tour, but the LPGA and Champions Tour both still stick to the calendar. The start of the year is always a time of hope for golfers of all skill levels. The pros can dream of major wins and FedExCup points. The majority of us look forward to breaking 80, or 90, or 100. We fantasize about making birdie on our nemesis hole or reaching that par five in two… and not three putting this time! We resolve to shave a few strokes off our handicap and to win the club championship or our family scramble. It's a time when all things are possible. Heck, the Cubs could still win the World Series this year.

Here's to a happy and prosperous 2014! And for the PGA TOUR, it starts in Hawaii.

Volume Three Hundred Sixty-Seven

Dec. 11, 2013     By     Comments (0)

Hittin' the LinksWith Tiger's Northwestern Mutual World Challenge wrapping up this weekend, most of the top golfers will be heading home this week or next to spend time with friends and family over the holidays.

But there is one more big tour golf event for 2013. This week the European Tour holds the second edition of the Nelson Mandela Championship, which will start a day early and finish Saturday in observance of the state funeral for its namesake. This year's event was briefly in doubt due to the Mr. Mandela's passing, but the organizers decided that it would be more of a tribute for the tournament to go on. The championship will benefit one of Mandela's dreams - to build a world-class children's hospital in South Africa. To that end, all profits from the tournament will go to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust.

But now, for the week that was... HtL links you up with Zach Johnson's shocking win, a first-of-(probably)-many titles by a 16-year-old pro, and much more.

Volume Three Hundred Sixty-Six

Nov. 20, 2013     By     Comments (0)

Hittin' the LinksAnother season ends as the European Tour wrapped up last weekend in the same way that the PGA Tour wound up more than a month ago, with Henrik Stenson winning it all.

That leaves the LPGA as the only tour still in its 2013 season, and their season-ending event is this week's CME Group Titleholders at Tiburon in Naples, Florida. This will be your last chance to see the women play until mid-February.

Even with the seasons over or ending, there will still be golf to watch. The ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf is already under way down under in Melbourne, Australia, with a field that includes Matt Kuchar, Adam Scott, Jason Day, and a number of other names you would recognize. You would be doing well to recognize more than a half dozen of the names on the leaderboard when the European Tour tees off it's 2014 season in South Africa this week. But that's the way it goes in the Silly Season.

As always, HtL is here to point you toward some of the more interesting goings-on in the world of golf. Here's what made the cut this week.

Volume Three Hundred Sixty-Five

Nov. 12, 2013     By     Comments (0)

Hittin' the LinksWelcome to another episode of Hitting the Links, our weekly look at, well, the week in golf.

We are really getting down to the last few weeks of any "serious" golf now on the major tours. Even though the PGA TOUR is technically a few events into it's 2013-2014 season and the European Tour will hold it's season-ending event this week, make no mistake - there's still a lot of "silly" in the season, as our seventh "hole" below illustrates.

Volume Three Hundred Sixty-Four

Nov. 4, 2013     By     Comments (1)

Hittin' the LinksWhen last we met, the CIMB Classic was unresolved and headed to a Monday playoff. In case you missed it, Ryan Moore beat Gary Woodland on the first playoff hole to take the title.

If you did miss it, that's understandable. Depending on how you count them, there are between three and five "major" tours (PGA TOUR, European Tour, LPGA, Champions Tour, and Web.com Tour) and a number of slightly lesser tours. On any given week, several of them, if not all of them, hold events, vying for our attention.

Next week, for example, the LPGA Tour heads to Japan for the Mizuno Classic at the Kintetsu Kashikojima Country Club in Shima-Shi, Mie. The PGA Tour will make a stop at Sea Island, GA, for the McGladrey Classic. Having just concluded their season, the Champions Tour is on hiatus until Q-School opens Nov. 19 (yes, the Champions Tour still has a qualifying school). The big event of the weekend, however, will be the penultimate tournament of the 2013 European Tour season, the Turkish Airlines Open, where those in the running for the Race to Dubai hope to improve their positions in the standings while Tiger Woods and others just hope to make away with a whole bunch of euros.

I guess what I'm trying to say, is that there is a lot going on, even in the last couple months of 2013. The Woods-Chamblee fiasco is into its third week, another "cheater" has been identified, and one more tour has wrapped up its season. Here are those stories and more in HtL.

Volume Three Hundred Sixty-Three

Oct. 28, 2013     By     Comments (2)

Hittin' the LinksWhen you are a major outlet reporter, with a major outlet following, and a major outlet paycheck, perhaps when you call the biggest-figure-in-the-game a cheater you should be prepared to stand by your words… for at least a week or two.

Just days after calling golf's brightest star a cheater, Brandel Chamblee has retracted his statement. Essentially saying, "That's not what I meant." BS. Chamblee is supposedly a professional. Maybe it's just me but for Brandel to equate Tiger's 2013 rules infractions/controversies to his own admitted cheating in grade school, and then pretend that he didn't mean to compare the two, is laughable. Anyone in his position, even a former golf pro, should know enough, or have people in place, to correct such a gaff before it gets to publication. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, that didn't happen.

I think Chamblee's accusations would have made an interesting discussion through the winter. I really don't think Tiger was purposely cheating, but I do think that his lack of attention this year to the rules that he's known his entire career does make you wonder what's up. Is his swing distracting him? Is it Lindsey? What exactly is going on in one of the most celebrated, and inscrutable, brains in golf?

Decide what you will about Tiger. Here is that story and several other interesting tidbits from the week that was.

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