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Killing the Old Courses

Nov. 30, 2004     By     Comments (1)

With Phil shooting a 59 in Hawaii, is it time to revisit the older courses, or are they destined to end up as quaint, low-scoring footnotes in golf history?

low_scores.jpgLast week at the Grand Slam of Golf, Phil Mickelson shot a thirteen-under 59 in Hawaii. This adds his name to the list of the Under 60 club: Duval, Chip Beck, Al Geiberger, Annika Sorenstam and Phil Mickelson. (As an aside, Shigeki Maruyama shot a 58 in the US Open qualifying rounds in 2000, but neither his 58 nor Phil's 59 will count in the 'official' record books since neither event was an 'official' PGA event. Whatever.)

Regardless of whether Phil's 59 will count, it's an amazing achievement. But, is it the start of a trend where the young players and longer technologies combine to shatter old records and leave old courses hurting from an onslaught of double-digit sub-par rounds?

In other words, is the 'perfect' 18-under round of 54 that far off?

Janzen and Stewart in Father-Son Challenge

Nov. 30, 2004     By     Comments (1)

Lee Janzen and Aaron Stewart will play the Father-Son Challenge together.

Aaron Stewart, the 15-year-old son of the late Payne Stewart, will tee it up with Lee Janzen in the annual Father-Son Challenge for major champions and their sons to be played December 2-5 at ChampionsGate in Orlando, FL. Tournament organizers were more than willing to bend the rules for Janzen.

"It struck me that Aaron would be playing with his dad if Payne were still alive," Janzen said. "I thought he was missing out on something special. So I called my manager about playing with Aaron."

Janzen and Stewart were close friends and Stewart was the runner-up both times Janzen won the U.S. Open.

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Hawaii, Oak Hill On Tap for 2005

Nov. 29, 2004     By     Comments (0)

The LPGA returns to Hawaii with South Korea's help, and the Champions Tour taps Oak Hill again for the SBC Championship.

lpga_champs_combo_logo.jpgIn yet another sign of the increasing importance of the Asian population to the LPGA's popularity, South Korea's SBS (Seoul Broadcasting System) will be sponsoring the LPGA's return to Hawaii in 2005. The LPGA announced that it will hold a $1,000,000 event at Arnold Palmer's course at Turtle Bay resort in February, marking the LPGA's first Hawaiian event in nearly three years.

Meanwhile, the Champions Tour announced that it was planning on keeping the SBC Championship at Oak Hill. Since its move from the Dominion Country Club in 2002, the SBC Championship at Oak Hill has "truly been one of our players' favorite courses", said Rick "Screw 'Em If They Can't Walk" George.

The SBC Championship will be held in October, 2005.

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Creamer Has Options

Nov. 29, 2004     By     Comments (5)

Paula Creamer qualifies for the Futures Tour, and works at earning her LPGA card - decisions, decisions…

paula_creamer.jpgPaula Creamer's world is starting to open up, and she has an important decision to make: turn pro or not.

After ending up tied with Michelle Wie in the US Women's Open earlier in the year, she decided to remain an amateur and keep her options open for Q-School.

Now, she's sharing the medalist honors at the Futures Tour Q-School with soon-to-be pro Brittany Lincicome. Lincicome has already decided to turn pro, but Creamer is still keeping her options open after helping the United States team finish second (and personally finish seventh overall) in the Women's World Amateur Team Championships in October.

Just 18-years-old, Creamer is currently in the LPGA qualifying finals, which start Wednesday. If she doesn't get her LPGA card however, she still has the option of joining the Futures Tour. Saving that, she could always go to college and remain an amateur. Oddly enough, if she remains an amateur she could still compete in the Futures Tour as an amateur, and doesn't necessarily have to turn pro.

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Play in the Now

Nov. 29, 2004     By     Comments (0)

Play in the now means not worrying about your score, the next hole, or a birdie putt while you're on the tee.

BrainThe next ten "Tip of the Day"s are being taken from an article by Dr. Bob Rotella for Golf Digest, titled "Inside the Golfer's Mind." We're paraphrasing, changing the language a little, and condensing his typical three to four paragraphs into one or two. This is tip five of ten: play in the now.

Really, this tip is very much like some of the others available in this same series of articles. Dr. Bob needed ten tips, bydoggit, and he was gonna get 'em, even if meant repeating the same thing five or six times. What useful tidbits can we glean from this rehashing?

  1. Don't let play dictate your attitude. Go with the flow when it's going well, but control yourself when you're playing poorly.
  2. "I came to the 16th thinking 'this is a birdie hole'" is an example of getting ahead of yourself. Hit your tee shot first, then your approach, and then worry about making a putt.
  3. Hit it and find it. Repeat as necessary.
  4. Improving your mind game can instantly take 5-10 strokes off of your average score.
  5. Don't keep a running tally of your score. It makes you think of things outside of the "now," the "present," and "the next shot."

When you run out of holes, you run out of holes. Hit it and find it. When Dr. Bob runs out of ideas, well, he copies other ones, but that's ok. Tomorrow's tip is different. Kinda. Okay, barely.

Golf is Awesome

Nov. 28, 2004     By     Comments (2)

Golf is an awesome game.

If golf did not exist, and I were to cut a 4¼" hole in the ground, give you some metal sticks and a small ball, put you 400 yards from that hole, and tell you that a decent "player" of this new sport would expect to get the ball in the hole in about four strokes, you'd surely laugh.

Sometimes, I struggle to fathom "golf." I play to less than a 9 handicap. I break 80 fairly regularly on a course sloped at 135 or so. In fact, I am disappointed if I don't break 80. 80 strokes to bash a little ball with metal sticks over four miles, holing it 18 times along the way.

A long home run might travel 450 feet. That's a 7-iron for many people, and good players expect to hit their "home run" 7-irons to within three to four bleacher seats of the hole. I stand in awe sometimes, not of my own ability, but of mankind's. Of a beginner's ability to get their first par, of Tom Kite's ability to get up and down from nearly anywhere inside of 100 yards, and from Daly's or Woods' or Kuehne's ability to blast a ball. 300+ yards. On the fly.

With a metal stick.

Five’s for Freddy

Nov. 28, 2004     By     Comments (4)

Fred Couples wins his record-setting fifth Skins title after four playoff holes with Tiger Woods.

fred_couples_skins_game.jpgHow many holes do you have to win to end up as the Skins Game Champion?

For Fred Couples in this year's Skins Game, the answer was two. After watching his fellow competitors carry over seven skins from Saturday's first nine, Freddy opened Sunday's Skins match with eight skins on the 10th hole. Tiger made an attempt and briefly took the lead, winning five skins worth $310,000. Then, Tiger and Fred made it interesting by playing an additional four holes and dragging a $340,000 collection of skins along with them.

Tiger left his tee shot very, very wet on the final playoff hole, then watched as Couples put his tee shot center green. Couples had three putts for the win, but needed only two from thirty-odd feet.

Adam Scott was shut out Sunday after winning two skins and $50,000 on Saturday, while Annika Sorenstam was winless. Couples won his fifth Skins Game and with the victory, became the winningest player in the history of the event.

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The Past is the Past

Nov. 28, 2004     By     Comments (0)

The past is the past: worry about the next shot. It's the only one that matters.

BrainThe next ten "Tip of the Day"s are being taken from an article by Dr. Bob Rotella for Golf Digest, titled "Inside the Golfer's Mind." We're paraphrasing, changing the language a little, and condensing his typical three to four paragraphs into one or two. This is tip four of ten: the past is the past.

The instant your club makes contact with the ball, the shot is in the past. You can't change the physics of your ball flying through the air or your ball rolling on the green (not legally, anyway). The shot has already happened. The result you can't affect. The next shot you can. Getting angry over a missed putt, a fat 7-iron, or a sprayed drive means that you're not playing in the present and focusing on the next shot.

Remaining competitive does not mean getting angry with yourself - it means making up for mistakes with great shots. The next shots after your misses. You've probably made par from the junk before. Do it again. Worrying about the shot that put you into the junk won't help get the ball in the hole. The past is the past: worry about the next shot. It's the only one that matters.

Sorenstam Saves the (Skins) Day (1)

Nov. 27, 2004     By     Comments (3)

Newcomer Adam Scott won two quick skins to kick things off in the Skins Game, but neither he, Sorenstam, Tiger Woods nor Fred Couples could break through in the other seven holes. With all those Saturday skins still alive, a rich Sunday is on tap.

Tiger AnnikaAnnika Sorenstam is Tiger Woods' new hero. After holing a short birdie putt on the ninth hole of the 2004 Skins game, Tiger expressed his admiration for Annika by giving her a (Golden?) bear hug.

It didn't hurt that her birdie kept $250,000 in play in this, the twenty-second playing of the Skins game.

With Scott already in the hole for a birdie, Woods' six-footer for bird lipped out, leaving the weight $250,000 squarely on sorenstam's shoulders. "I should've made things a little bit easier for Annika on the last hole, but kind of blew that one," said Woods, "but I had my chances today to get a couple skins and just couldn't do it."

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