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Tiger vs. Jack

Jul. 21, 2014     By     Comments (14)

Thrash TalkTrying to parse out the respective greatness of golf’s two winningest major champions is probably the sport’s biggest unsolved mystery.

Jack’s supporters, largely those who lived through his career, tend to look at the one big marker that Nicklaus certainly beats Woods in: major championship wins, as currently defined. 18 remains a larger number than 14, after all. They also point out the Hall of Fame-level competition that Jack had to face throughout his career, including Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, and Tom Watson.

And Tiger’s supporters, generally younger, look to most other stats. Tiger leads Jack in PGA Tour wins, worldwide wins, Vardon Trophies, money titles, and many more. There’s also a very pervasive argument that Tiger’s competition, despite not having the dozen big names of Jack’s day, was far deeper, and presented a more of a weekly challenge where 100 different players were skilled enough to win rather than 20.

It’s an argument that often gets emotional and irrational, but if we want a real answer, we’re going to have to break it down.

2014 British Open Staff Preview

Jul. 16, 2014     By     Comments (1)

Thrash TalkRoyal Liverpool is the site of the 2014 British Open. Last time we were there, Tiger navigated his way to a win only hitting his driver once. When it comes to the British Open, the weather conditions dictate how the course will play and the rumor is the course is not as dry and the rough is up, so Tiger will likely not be able to it the same way he did last time. Speaking of Tiger there are numerous question marks about how he will play this year considering it is only his second event back from his back surgery.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson come to Royal Liverpool following one of his worst starts ever. His only top ten was at Abu Dhabi early in the season, but with Phil being Phil we can never know what to expect. There are numerous exciting story lines surrounding the event so with that lets see what the staff expects for the event.

Michelle Wie, Back From Golfing Exile

Jun. 30, 2014     By     Comments (0)

Thrash TalkHer performance was not quite as masterful as Martin Kaymer's but it was extremely skillful nonetheless. She was dominating throughout. Yes, Michelle Wie finally won her first of hopefully many majors, and did so at famed Pinehurst No. 2. It has not been what one might call an easy journey for someone many of us thought would have five or six majors in her trophy case by now, but it's now been a successful one.

When Wie burst onto the scene what seems like fifteen years ago, she looked for all the world that she was going to dominate women's golf. She had distance - according to many reports she could hit it farther than many of the men she was playing with. (As a side note, I think much of that was nonsense created by the press.) She could play.

After many years of trying, then turning pro way too soon, and a college career that was not spent on the college golf team, I for one thought she had lost her passion for the game and may fade away into golf oblivion. The early part of her career is the perfect outline for how to destroy a young golfer's career. Her parents are to blame for this mismanagement.

Then, the early part of this year she has been the hottest golfer on the planet. A second-place finish at the season's first major (to fellow phenom Lexi Thompson), then a win in front of her hometown fans in Hawaii, and now the Women's U.S. Open trophy.

2014 United States Open Staff Preview

Jun. 11, 2014     By     Comments (6)

Thrash TalkThe U.S. Open is my favorite major to watch. With the exception of the disaster of a few years ago at Congressional, it is the best major to watch. I like watching every minute of the tournament. There is nothing better than the back nine on Sunday at the Masters, but the rest of the holes, while great to watch, don't have the potential for disaster that you'll find on every U.S. Open hole. Triple bogey lurks everywhere.

For 2014, the USGA has spiced it up by having the women play the course the week after the men play. This will be the first time in history this will occur. It is a bold move and only after both events are over will we know if it was a wise decision. Bringing the U.S. Open back to Pinehurst brings back memories of the win by Payne Stewart and the tragic events that followed. There are many headlines to watch during the event.

Until recently, 2014 has been such a strange year for winners on the PGA Tour. Golf fans have had to learn about a number of golfers who we have not heard of before, or made appearances after appearing to be lost like Martin Kaymer. The 2014 Open looks to be tons of fun, so let's see what the staff expects from the event.

Is Augusta National a Left-Hander’s Paradise?

May. 21, 2014     By     Comments (3)

Thrash TalkIt is long rumored that Ben Hogan had a secret that made him such a great golfer. Arguments have raged on for years what it was. Most people now agree his secret was really just hard work.

I too have found a secret. My secret is how to win the Masters.

You think I am crazy right? I'm not. I have figured it out. If you want to win at Augusta you need to be a really long-hitting left-handed golfer. Sure, it is not easy to become that, but if you do your odds for winning shift overwhelmingly in your favor. Consider the last few winners at Augusta: the majority of them are lefties. Mostly Phil and Bubba, but we can throw a Mike Weir in there also.

Is 2014 the Year of Mr. Nobody?

Apr. 24, 2014     By     Comments (2)

Thrash TalkIf you are a steady golf fan you surely share my opinion that 2014 is off to a slow start. We're already at the end of April, and most of the tournaments have been won by guys we've hardly heard about prior. Sure, Bubba won the Masters again, but outside of him and Jason Day winning the Match Play, I am relatively unfamiliar with any of the other winners.

Matt Jones in Houston, yup, never heard much about him before. Jimmy Walker with two wins in 2014, I mean I have heard of him before, but I can't say I really know much about him. Russell Henley, I watched him play on the Web.com tour, and it is great to see someone like him carry on that success to the PGA Tour but I really don't know much about him. Same with Steven Bowditch. Kevin Stadler, without his famous Dad I am not sure I would know much about him as well. The PGA Tour is being taken over by unknowns, a parade of Mr. Nobody.

The Analytics Revolution is Coming

Apr. 10, 2014     By     Comments (2)

Thrash TalkIn February, nerds, statisticians, sports fans, and nerd-statistician-sports fans gathered in Boston, Massachusetts for the MIT Sloan Sports Analystics Conference. Since its establishment in 2006 by Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey, the conference has grown to feature athletes, media members, and statisticians from across the sports landscape.

Sean Foley, swing instructor to Tiger Woods, has been a vocal leader when it comes to the marriage of science and golf. He spoke at the conference alongside golf statistician Mark Broadie. One of the most outspoken adopters of TrackMan, an advanced launch monitor that uses Doppler radar to track ball flight and impact characteristics, Foley also coaches Justin Rose and Hunter Mahan, and is so busy that he recently had to turn away Luke Donald.

Analytics have revolutionized the way fans watch, talk about, and consume baseball and basketball, and now that's finally coming to golf. Let's dive in.

2014 Masters Preview and Staff Predictions

Apr. 9, 2014     By     Comments (2)

Thrash TalkHello Friends, it is time for the 2014 Masters. The start to 2014 has left many of The Sand Trap staff confused about who to pick as a winner at Augusta. In a typical year, most of the staff goes with Tiger, but after the recent announcement that he will not play, many of us are left looking elsewhere for a winner. I think this makes the 2014 a complete toss up. There is no dominant player in the game now who you can point too and say they are guaranteed to be there on Sunday afternoon.

The 2013 winner Adam Scott looked very strong at Bay Hill until the final round where he let Matt Every slip past him. Rory had one slip away in 2014 at the Honda, which was positive to see him playing well again, but bad in the sense that he still hasn't found his way into the winners circle other than in Australia. This makes our job as predictors tough, because we need to dig through the stats to find that special player that will have the magic at this seasons first major.

With that lets look and see how the staff predicts this years event:

Tiger is Not Using Performance Enhancing Drugs… I Think

Mar. 13, 2014     By     Comments (11)

Thrash TalkWhile sitting in the grill room of my golf club during the final round of the WGC in Doral, the conversation sparked up again.

It has not been discussed near as much as in the past, but on occasion - especially when Tiger withdraws or plays poorly because of an injury - people start whispering about it.

This time the gentlemen said that in his opinion ever since the PGA Tour put their drug-testing policy in place Tiger has been injured more frequently than in the past. His insinuation was that Tiger was in the past taking performance enhancing drugs and now that the testing policy was in place he was beginning to show wear as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens did in the later part of their careers.

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