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2008 U.S. Open Predictions

Jun. 12, 2008     By     Comments (0)

Thrash TalkThe 2008 U.S. Open starts today, and the world's best will attempt to tame Torrey Pines en route to major championship glory. The two best golfers in the world, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, both have a great history at this golf course. They have received the most headlines going into the event, and they will be paired together the first two rounds at least.

Tiger and Lefty will be the favorites, but who else has a good shot at winning the second major of the year? Also, who might be a dark-horse pick, and who might disappoint? Sand Trap staff members predict these things and more in this week's article. If you have anything to add, please comment below or discuss it in the forum.

2008 U.S. Open Storylines

Jun. 5, 2008     By     Comments (5)

Thrash TalkThe world's best will head to Torrey Pines (South Course) next week for this year's U.S. Open, and there are numerous storylines worth talking about. Tiger Woods finished second at The Masters a couple months ago and then had knee surgery two days later. He hasn't played a competitive round since, and it will be interesting to see how things go when he tees it up in the season's second major.

Any time a U.S. Open is played, the golf course gets a fair amount of attention as well. Often times the course setup is borderline unfair for the golfers, but how tough will Torrey Pines play? Also, can Phil Mickelson finally recover from his collapse at the 2006 U.S. Open? Can an International win this event for the fifth year in a row? All these topics and more will be covered in this week's Thrash Talk.

2008 Memorial In Photos

Jun. 2, 2008     By     Comments (17)

In addition to the Sergio Garcia images from Tuesday at the 2008 Memorial, I took a fair number of other pictures as well. Below, I've selected 56 random photos. Nearly all have a little commentary, and I invite you to check them out.

Memorial Scoreboard

Mike Weir's team would go on to win the $2000 first-place prize at -10 in the Wednesday pro-am. I believe they split the prize, but I'm not sure if the pro gets his $500 or if the three amateurs each get $667. Either way, the amateurs will stay well below the $750 limit imposed by the USGA.

Is it Still Camilo Time?

May. 22, 2008     By     Comments (5)

Thrash TalkDuring the Florida Swing in early 2006, the majority of golf fans were introduced to Camilo Villegas. Villegas' flashy look and style took the golf world by storm. On top of that, his unique way of reading greens entertained the masses. The young Colombian had the look of a star, and he seemed to have the game to contend immediately.

After a great start to the 2006 PGA Tour season, Villegas struggled as the year progressed. Those struggles continued in the early parts of 2007, with the exception of an occasional strong finish here and there. He found his game the last month of the season and recorded three top-10 finishes in a row to end the season.

This year, it's been a mixed bag once again for Villegas. After quite a few mediocre finishes to start the season, he has a couple top-10 finishes in the past month (including a third-place finish this past weekend at Sugarloaf). With all the inconsistency, is Villegas still a relevant figure in the golf world? Also, does he have what it takes to get things right and become a multiple-time winner on the PGA Tour? Let's take a look.

What Your Clubs Are Saying About You

May. 16, 2008     By     Comments (47)

Trap Five LogoWhen you get paired with a stranger on the first tee, do you ever casually check out the contents of his golf bag to learn a little something about the guy? Sure, it's superficial. And yes, there are always exceptions. But you can often learn something about people by what they choose to put in their golf bags.

There are danger signs that you should be aware of. Slow play and other irritations could foul up that round you've been waiting for.

Titleist AP1 Irons Review

May. 9, 2008     By     Comments (126)

AP1 HeroTo say the buzz about the AP1 and AP2 irons from Titleist is loud is an understatement of quite some size. I cannot recall a product release in the last couple of years that generated the amount of interest, comments, feedback and questions from Sand Trap readers and forum members as these groundbreaking, technology-infused irons from the traditionally traditional Titleist.

Between our announcement of the 2008 lineup, Erik's field test and his AP2 review, we've received well hundreds of comments and questions. Add this to the amount of discussion and buzz in our forum and it's really quite remarkable the excitement these irons have generated.

We're going to focus on the AP1 irons for this review, which Titleist says is for the "skilled and aspiring" golfer. What is an "aspiring golfer"? While I would say all golfers are aspiring to some degree, I think the AP1 are designed for those of us who are in the double-digit handicap range. We show flashes of our golfing potential, but still have an evolving golf swing that could use a little forgiveness while still providing feedback to help us improve. Thus, perhaps we "aspire" a wee bit more than the guy who plays once a month.

Read on to find out this aspiring golfer thinks about these "sure-don't-look-like-Titleists" irons.

The Pornification of Golf

May. 1, 2008     By     Comments (10)

Thrash TalkOne of the most talked about aspects of the last two Masters tournaments has been the effect of the recent, dramatic architectural changes on the nature of the competition. Golf fans, like those of any sport with perhaps the exception of boxing, aren't generally thrilled to see their champion determined in a war of attrition, stumbling over the corpses of their competition and limping across the finish line.

So it is no surprise that with the last two Masters Sundays (and perhaps the last several years' worth of "toonaments") featuring very few birdies and heroic charges among the eventual winners, many have concluded that the Augusta National Golf Club course has been changed for the worse. I'm not sure if there's any merit to that argument, but I do know I'm pretty sick of hearing the whining. So for this week's Thrash Talk, I decided to take a few vital signs on the tournament and today's golf fan.

Titleist Forged AP2 Irons Review

Apr. 25, 2008     By     Comments (186)

Titleist AP2 HeroThere have been few reviews as eagerly anticipated by Sand Trap forum members and readers as this one and our upcoming review of the Titleist AP1s. Our Bag Drop article announcing these clubs has well over 50 comments and my follow-up field test will likely reach 50 before this review is published. In the forum, people are being fitted for, buying, and asking questions about the AP2s and AP1s left and right. Titleist VP of Golf Clubs Chris McGinley feels that this is "the most technically advanced forging ever made" and adds that "demand for this iron is unprecedented in the forged category. Not since the Hogan edge has there been this much buzz and demand for a forged iron."

Titleist, always at or near the top in the "player's irons" category, has in 2008 simultaneously simplified its product lineup and broadened its target market. Though their ZB and ZM models are still available for those who like player's cavity and musclebacks, the AP1 and AP2 are intended to cover pretty much everyone from the PGA Tour golfer to the "aspiring" golfer.

Turning Up My Collar to Honor a Great Champion

Apr. 16, 2008     By     Comments (12)

Thrash TalkAs I read my last Thrash Talk it occured to me that maybe it would be interesting to focus on the historical standing of a player other than Tiger Woods… or Jack Nicklaus, or Arnold Palmer, or Ben Hogan. It is a common theme in all sports to view the retired generations of stars as the gold standard of excellence, their career achievements standing like monuments on the top of a hill. Monuments which remind us of the great moments, ignoring the failures along the way.

Active players, in contrast, have incomplete careers, and generally no monuments. We are far better acquainted with both their successes and their failures, often causing us to rank them below the illusory image of the flawless champ of yesteryear. Certainly this is not true of all players; anyone watching Tiger Woods, or Roger Federer, or Michael Phelps, cannot escape the historical significance of their achievements, even in young, incomplete careers. But what about Tiger's top competition? Could Tiger's domination lead us to perhaps miss something truly great, right under our noses?

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