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2006 U.S. Bank Championship Preview

As most of the big names rest after The Open, players we sometimes don’t get to see get the chance to play some good golf and keep us entertained.

The U.S. Bank Championship LogoWell it will certainly be a change of pace to see a green golf course, huh? After last week’s theatrics, the U.S. Bank Championship has a lot to live up to, but the course has provided excitement in the past and will very likely continue to do so.

Major Problem for the Europeans

After watching the British Open, I’m starting to wonder if the Europeans will ever win another major championship.

Thrash TalkAnother major championship is in the books. Tiger Woods won his 11th major championship and continues to close in on Jack’s all-time record. Woods displayed beautiful ball striking and a wonderful putting touch all week. Hoylake also held up a lot better than I expected, especially after seeing all the low rounds on day one. It’s not my favorite Open course, but it wasn’t quite the pushover the experts predicted it would be.

The win by Tiger Woods didn’t really catch my attention because he has been there and done that on numerous occasions. I did, however, get a little teary-eyed when he talked about winning it for his dad. Aside from Tiger’s performance, the thing that stood out to me most was the fact the Europeans still haven’t won a major championship since the 1999 British Open. That was seven years ago for crying out loud!

Sun Protection for Golfers

The sun’s effect on your body is no joking manner. Your skin and even your eyes are at risk. Here are some products that should be part of your routine and in your bag.

Bag DropAs sports go, golf seems to be one of the more benign. After all, nobody’s throwing a ball 100 miles per hour at you; no 350-pound lineman is trying to dismember you; nobody in the cart next to yours is rubbing paint at 200 miles an hour.

When it comes to the lethal dangers in our game most people think of lightning or cart accidents. But that’s not true. The dangers of prolonged UV exposure from the sun are greater than ever. More than 60,000 people a year are diagnosed with malignant melanoma – the deadly kind of skin cancer. Here are some things you can do to protect yourself.

Tweety Bird at the Open

Sergio Garcia’s all-yellow outfit earned him plenty of nicknames, but “Champion Golfer of the Year” was not one of them.

Sergio Garcia Yellow 2006 OpenI never thought to call Sergio Garcia “Tweety Bird” in my final-round coverage of The Open Championship, but reader Dave Miles wrote to me with one of the best jokes I’ve heard this weekend.

Overheard in the final pairing on the first tee at Hoylake yesterday: “I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat!”

While Sergio continues his search for a power color to rival Tiger’s red (or, lately, his pinks, maroons, wines, and mauves, and scarlets), many in the golf world are asking themselves today “when will Sergio win a major?” He’s only 26, but he’s also played in nearly 33 majors already. When does “it’s only a matter of time” turn into “he sure is taking his time,” and when does that turn into “he’s running out of time?”

Sergio, I tawt I taw a puddy tat too. And, like at Medinah 1999, you were once again his lunch.

Photo Credit: © Getty Images.

Volume Sixty-Eight

A bunch of Open Championship links, Swingvision capture of Ernie Els swing, and much, much more!

Ah, The Open Championship. What a wonderful tournament. As you wind yourself down after that fantastic finish, I’ll give you a little something to keep yourself occupied: this weeks volume of Hittin’ the Links. Like always, I’ve got a good collection of links for you to enjoy. You can thank me later.

P.S. Congratulations, Tiger!

Live Blogging the 2006 British Open

We’re live blogging the final round of the British Open. Almost all eight hours of it!

Tiger Woods13:21 – Tiger Woods taps in for par and is the Champion Golfer of the Year for 2006. His margin of victory? A holed 4-iron from the fairway on the 14th hole Friday: two shots. One month after missing the cut at Winged Foot, Tiger claims a win on a course he’d never even seen a picture of before early July. He cries, hugs Stevie, and and gives Elin a big hug. Earl is not here to see Tiger win a major for the first time in his life.

13:18 – Tirico gives us a lesson on Nicklaus’ 20 vs. 18 majors (counting U.S. Amateurs) and Tiger’s soon-to-be 14 and compares them to the records of Hogan and Jones. Tiger putts to about eight feet. It seems I may have exactly predicted the winner and the score, unless he rolls this one in.

13:16 – They show the engraver, and Tirico says “I swear he started to carve Jean van de Velde’s name in there. There’s a little smudge where Paul Lawrie’s name is. I look at it every time.”

Tiger’s Driving Accuracy

Distance may matter, but when Tiger keeps it in the fairway, he’s impossible to beat.

Swing ThoughtsWhile everyone is ranting and raving about equipment, flogging, and other factors in the distance debate, I saw one of Tiger’s stats tonight on The Golf Channel that I thought was interesting. Here are Tiger’s best tournaments since 1999 with regards to driving accuracy:

Year    Tournament        Accuracy     Result
----    ----------        --------     ------
2000    British Open       91.0%        Won
2006    British Open       83.3%*        ?
1999    Funai Classic      85.7%        Won
2000    Bay Hill           83.9%        Won
2005    British Open       83.9%        Won
2001    Memorial           82.1%        Won
2002    Buick Open         82.1%        Won
*Through three rounds

When Tiger keeps it in the short grass, he’s doing quite well. I’m willing to bet that a good portion of the above tournaments he wasn’t hitting driver much either. Tiger is feasting on Hoylake with his stinger 2-iron off the tee with a plan to stay out of trouble. I’d say that it is working so far.

Thoughts on Hoylake

Hoylake is a bit of an unknown. That doesn’t keep us from trying to figure out what might happen.

The Numbers GameWe get to see a new ‘old’ course on the rotation this year. We’re used to seeing the names St. Andrews, Muirfield, and something with a Royal on the front of it. The 2006 British Open will be contended on another Royal course, but it is known as something else.

Royal Liverpool Golf Club is the official name of the course commonly called “Hoylake.” The British Open was last played there in 1967 and is back after a 39-year absence. There aren’t many numbers out there to research, but there were a few things about Hoylake and the British Open to consider in this week’s The Numbers Game.