Ames Dominates Players Championship

Stephen Ames’ steady 67 definitively claims victory at the TPC of Sawgrass.

Stephen Ames at the TPC of SawgrassStephen Ames managed to avoid a train wrecks all week long, never carding back-to-back bogeys. That’s more than Retief Goosen, Jim Furyk, Camilo Villegas, Henrik Stenson, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia, and Tiger Woods can say. He put on a clinic in the final round, staying steady under pressure and maintaining composure after a double-bogey on the 10th hole. He played with both skill and luck, the latter of which helped him enormously on the 16th hole when his ball took an unnerving bounce but wound up close enough to the pin for him to drain an eagle putt.

Episode 018

We have chokers and people who never choke, an angry listener with bleeding ears asks a question about loud drivers, and The Players Championship.

PodcastGreg Owen choked away a tournament at the 17th with a three-put from 40 inches, Sam Saunders may be the clup champion but he can’t play on the PGA Tour yet, and Fred Funk weighs in on Distance. Also this week, loud drivers, golf’s fifth major, making the 17th hole at the TPC of Sawgrass tougher, and some Tiger news – his dad, his putter, his interclub matches (the Tavistock Cup), and his Ryder Cup preparation. Plus, Tim Finchem gets a new contract. This and a whole lot more in this week’s Golf Talk Podcast.

You can subscribe to the RSS feed for our podcasts here or download Episode 018 as an MP4 file. For those who want to subscribe to us in iTunes, click here.

For this week’s Show Notes – links to articles we discuss in the show and additional information – just read on.

Kathy Whitworth

As golf’s leading woman Kathy Whitworth’s accomplishments are unmatched on the LPGA.

ProFilesIf only the rest of us could pick golf up as fast as Kathy Whitworth did. She won the New Mexico State Amateur in 1957 and 1958, just a few short years after picking up a club for the first time. Her determination and natural ability put her on the fast track to success.

No other golfer, male or female, has more Tour victories than Kathy Whitworth. She set the bar at an amazing 88 victories at the United Virginia Bank Classic in 1985.

TaylorMade r7 425/460 Drivers Review

TaylorMade has been one of the leaders year over year in drivers on tour. This year they have revised their R7 line with the new 425 and 460 models. For current TaylorMade fans, this is a newer, more stylish version of driver that is not only appealing to the eye, but the golf game as well.

Taylormade R7 425 SoleWhen it comes to the tee ball, TaylorMade leads, it does not follow. The 300 series driver was #1 on tour in 2000 and 2001 and TaylorMade followed with the successful r500. More recently the r5 and the r7 quad have been found worldwide in the bags of Tour professionals and amateurs alike.

While it is rare to see a new driver accepted so quickly by tour players, the new r7 425 was in the bag of nine players at the season-opening Mercedes Championship. Even with the new Nike SasQuatch and the highly anticipated rollout of the Titleist 905R, the new r7 still seems to be the talk of the industry.

I’ve been using a Titleist 983K and then a 905S for years, and I’ve come to appreciate the traditional pear-shaped design and playability in the Titleist drivers. I’ve spent a few months with the r7 425 as well as the larger r7 460. For $399 a pop, one would expect a solid club with excellent performance. Read on to find out if that’s what we found.

Masters Numbers

The Masters is right around the corner. Here’s a little warmup for some numbers to watch while you watch.

The Numbers GameIt’s that time of year again. The Masters is right around the corner and it is never too early to start talking about the greatest golf tournament in the world.

This week in The Numbers Game, I’m going to share a few numbers from Augusta National, The Masters, and all that it entails. See if you can guess what these numbers mean: 7,445, 73.97, 74, and 32.13. The first two are easy. The second two may test your brain a little. Read on for the answers…

Oak Tree Country Club, West Middlesex, PA

Oak Tree Country Club is a shotmaker’s course: you’ll be forced to work the ball both directions to navigate this deceptively narrow track.

Oak Tree Country Club, PAOak Tree Country Club is a semi-private course near Sharon, PA. Built in 1967 and designed by Ed Ault, Oak Tree existed until 2005 as a private club. The pressure of maintaining a large, active membership in the modern day forced the club’s hand, but the transition has been smooth, and memberships are still available.

Director of golf Bob Collins invited The Sand Trap to play a round after making sure we were okay with a “tighter, tree-lined course.” After assuring Bob that we valued golf courses of all shapes and sizes and that we weren’t going to blame our poor shots towards those trees on faulty course design, he set up a tee time.

The 2006 Players Championship Preview

As we wait to see which shotmaker will triumph at the TPC at Sawgrass a “Dye-abolical” 17th hole will strike fear into TOUR pros again this year.

Players Championship LogoYesterday, Erik touched on The Players Championship in an article that asks whether this illustrious tournament should be considered golf’s fifth major (it shouldn’t). Regardless of your own opinion, you’re still in for a real treat because the tournament draws many big names who consider this a big tournament.

It all started back in 1974 when Jack Nicklaus won the event, known then as the Tournament Players Championship. He won again in 1976 and 1978. While there has never been a repeat winner of The Players Championship, Jack is one of only four players with multiple wins on the Stadium Course. The course doesn’t have a preferred style of player but it is called by many the “second shot course.”

The Players Championship: Golf’s Fifth Major?

The Players Championship the fifth major? I don’t think so.

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.

A Bright Future

The early part of 2006 has seen the rise of a few young guns on the PGA Tour.

Thrash TalkTiger Woods exploded onto the scene nearly a decade ago and proved early and often that he was a force to be reckoned with on the PGA Tour. A few years later, Sergio Garcia stole the hearts of golf fans worldwide en route to stamping his claim as a young up-and-comer. Adam Scott and Luke Donald soon followed Garcia, quickly placing their names into the hat of “young guns.”

Tiger’s résumé speaks for itself. It’s obvious he is one of, if not, the best young golfer to come along in the history of golf. Garcia, Scott, and Donald have all been very successful on the PGA Tour, and they are all currently ranked in the top 10 in the world. That’s pretty awesome in its own right. While these three haven’t been as successful as Woods, they will still be a huge part of golf’s future.