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The FedExCup: Failure from the Start?

Jul. 1, 2006     By     Comments (12)

FedExCupAs I write this, a ticker at informs me that I have but 184 days, 1 hour, 22 minutes, and four seconds until the start of the 2007 PGA Tour season and, by implication, the beginning of a "New Era" in golf - the FedExCup.

Earlier this week, Tim Finchem laid out the rules, points distributions, and the other mundane details of what will certainly become the most mundane "playoff" system in all of modern sport. It is, after all, the only playoff system in which nobody is eliminated and which accepts participants who won't even be in the league the following season.

The announcement has stirred the pot of discussion, and though everyone from John Hawkins to us here at The Sand Trap has an opinion, I've yet to see one supporting the plan.

Carolyn Bivens, Courageously Running LPGA Into the Ground

Jun. 22, 2006     By     Comments (13)

Carolyn BivensCarolyn Vesper Bivens has been at the helm of the LPGA Tour for less than one year, and I am hopeful that she won't last long enough to blow out the candles on a second anniversary cake.

Bivens' task was perhaps one of the easiest facing any sports commissioner to date: sell the LPGA Tour to the sponsors, the media, and the fans. She's failed miserably on all accounts.

Her failure comes at a time when the LPGA Tour might not be easier to sell. Annika Sorenstam still dominates, but youthful, energetic, and attractive gals named Paula Creamer, Lorena Ochoa, Morgan Pressel, Michelle Wie, Cristie Kerr, Natalie Gulbis, and Christina Kim have suddenly come about. Se Ri Pak and Karrie Webb have even returned to form this year, taking the first two majors of the year.

Promise Meets Reality: Michelle Wie Fails in Open Bid

Jun. 6, 2006     By     Comments (5)

In what is sure to go down as one of the most over-reported, over-hyped, and over-analyzed golf events of the year, Michelle Wie faltered over the back nine of her second round at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, NJ to finish five shots out of a playoff for a spot in the upcoming U.S. Open at Winged Foot.

That, of course, is the big story. But I had a chance to witness her attempt, watch some of my friends try to qualify, and came away with a different angle on the day.

Michelle Wie Sectional Wide

On Furrows, Whining, and Winning

Jun. 2, 2006     By     Comments (5)

There's no whining in golf. Unless, of course, you're a PGA Tour pro at this week's Memorial Tournament. This week, some (most?) pros are busy whining about the furrowed bunkers. They're "unfair." Players "weren't warned." They introduce "luck" to the game. And on and on…

Muirfield Village Range Rake
The golfers at this week's Memorial Tournament will play under the same conditions, so what's the beef?

The Mythical ‘Ball Boost’

Apr. 21, 2006     By     Comments (9)

Fred Funk, one of the shorter hitters on the PGA Tour (which, at 49 years of age and 5'8", is not altogether shocking), is feeling left out these days. He believes that the modern golf ball gives players who swing 115 or 120 MPH a "boost." More specifically, as he said in a recent interview, "You just get this huge gain hitting the ball a certain speed."

Unfortunately, despite what Fred and others believe, the facts on this issue have recently been made quite clear. The USGA, on April 11, dispelled some commonly held beliefs in an article called "Myths About Golf Equipment and Performance." The first myth was "Golfers with faster swing speeds get disproportionately greater distance benefits from new golf balls that have been introduced after 2000."

Two Drivers for Everyone! Uhhh, No.

Apr. 11, 2006     By     Comments (7)

Two Drivers Edwin Watts EmailPhil Mickelson won a few events with two drivers in his bag. Since winning the Masters on Sunday, I've received no less than four or five emails from Edwin Watts, TGW, and other online golf retail stores urging me to buy a second driver.

Do these retail outlets think golfers are that stupid? Are golfers really that stupid?

UPS to Unveil ‘Damaged Contents’ Zone

Apr. 1, 2006     By     Comments (1)

Package delivery company FedEx, title sponsor of next year's "FedExCup" on the PGA Tour, has gotten an early jump on things this year with the "FedEx Reliability Zone." If you've watched televised golf this year, you've no doubt seen the "FERZ." Displayed on par 4s and 5s, the FERZ is a purple shaded area about 270 yards to 310 yards from the tee and spanning the entire width of the fairway. Roughly the size of smaller states such as Vermont, announcers use the FERZ as a means of displaying just how important it is to find the fairway. Oftentimes, the purple haze is used to illustrate stats such as these:

Location            Scoring Average
From Inside Zone        3.87
From Outside Zone       4.12

Fedex Reliability Zone

The Players Championship: Golf’s Fifth Major?

Mar. 21, 2006     By     Comments (7)

Players Championship LogoThe Players Championship will be played later this week for likely the last time in the calendar month of March. As usual, "The Players" will draw a top field and be contested on a famous, testing course. But The Players is richer than that, and for years, the debate has raged: "is it golf's fifth major?" The answer, unfortunately, is quite simple: NO.

The U.S. Open, PGA Championship, and British Open all began no later than 1916 with the oldest, "The Open," dating back to 1860. The Players began in 1974 (or, for the more cynical, 1988). Even the Masters - which was instituted by a guy that won all four of golf's then-major championships - came into existence more than two generations prior to The Players Championship.

Why Camilo Villegas Is The Man

Mar. 11, 2006     By     Comments (51)

Camilo VillegasRecently there's been a ton of buzz surrounding PGA Tour Rookie Camilo Villegas and I believe all of it is deserved. With two T2's in his first six tour events, Camilo has shown that he's got the game to compete with the big boys. I started watching Camilo play golf about two years ago, when he put himself in contention week in and week out, never to seal the deal. In the following few paragraphs I'm going to outline why I so firmly believe that Villegas will make a big mark on tour.

Stellar College Career
Camilo attended The University of Florida and was the only freshman to be named as an All-American in the 2001 season, he would go on to win the honor the rest of his college career. That same freshman year he set a course record with a 64 at the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club in Richmond, Virginia. The University of Florida consistently produces excellent PGA tour golfers, such as Dudley Hart and, more notably, Chris DiMarco.

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