2006 Open Championship Preview

It has been a long time since good ol’ Royal Liverpool has played host to a major, will she be up to the test?

The Open Championship LogoWell it happens to be that time again: Open Championship time, that is. Golf’s oldest major championship is back at a course that hasn’t hosted a major since Roberto de Vicenzo won in 1967. I’m very excited for this tournament for a couple reasons: the course is running ridiculously fast and hard, interesting shots we rarely see played will be commonplace, and Tiger will surely be on the prowl.

For these reasons and many more, this week is sure to be exciting.

2006 British Open Predictions

It’s time for the Sand Trap staff members to make their picks for this week’s British Open.

Thrash TalkIt’s time for the 2006 British Open at Royal Liverpool. Tiger Woods missed his first cut in a major championship as a professional at last month’s U.S. Open. You can bet Tiger will be on a mission this week across the pond. The World Number Two, Phil Mickelson, played great at Winged Foot until double bogeying the final hole to lose by one.

It’s no surprise Tiger and Phil are odds-on-favorites this week at Hoylake. However, there are many more golfers capable of winning the British Open. Geoff Ogilvy won the U.S. Open last month and hasn’t played competitively since. How will his time off affect his golf game, and is he capable of winning two majors in a row?

All the burning questions will be answered within the next week, and The Sand Trap staff is here to get all of you in the British Open spirit. We have made our picks, and now it’s showtime. Feel free to comment below or discuss your picks in the forum.

Ping Readying Rapture Irons and Woods

Ping appears to be readying a new line of irons and woods with their recent introduction on the PGA and Champions Tours.

Ping G5 Driver Crown GraphicIt looks like Ping has a new line of irons and woods coming out soon. Dubbed “Rapture,” the clubs were captured in pictures in the bags of Champions Tour players at the Ford Senior Players Championship and popped up last week on Sand Trap partner Golfwrx.com here and here.

The irons were also recently spotted on the PGA Tour, where they first turned up at the Cialis Western Open.

Word is the driver features a first for Ping – a composite head. There will also be a matching line of fairway woods, although it’s not known yet if they too have a composite head. Unfortunately for Ping, they ran into a snag introducing the driver at the Western. Here’s the story…

Sick of Wie Whiners

The Michelle Wie boo-birds come out of the woodwork every time she tees it up, and I’m sick of hearing it.

Michelle WieJoe Ogilvie may have said it best: “She’s better than Tiger was at 16. I played with Tiger, and Tiger wasn’t this good. Everybody is like, ‘Win, win, win.’ She’s 16. Chill out. Once she gets to winning, you’ll get sick of her winning.”

I’m not a raving, ranting Michelle Wie fan. I’d like to see her win a tournament. I’d like to see her learn to crush opponents. I’d like to see her spend some more time competing against her peers.

But don’t put me in the camp of Wie detractors, either, and I’m sick of hearing from those who are.

Hybrid Clubs Continue to Proliferate

Don’t look now, but 1 and 2 irons have gone the way of persimmon heads. And 3 and 4 irons don’t look too safe either. Here’s a quick run down on four of the newest hybrids vying for a spot in your bag.

Bag DropClub manufacturers aren’t shy about jumping on a bandwagon. Witness the recent explosion of 460cc drivers, moveable weights, and high MOI (moment of inertia) putters. But no other recent development in equipment has had such an impact on the makeup of clubs in a bag as have hybrids.

Over the last few years, hybrid woods and irons have gone from crutches for senior hackers like me to standard issue in the bags of many PGA Tour pros. Todd Hamilton wielding his Sonartec hybrid to win the British Open at Royal Troon in 2004 underscored their versatility and acceptance.

What’s interesting is that club manufacturers large and small have had considerable success in pursuing this niche. And more models keep coming. Here’s a look at some of the latest offerings that have caught my eye…

Volume Sixty-Seven

The first link is all you’ll have time for today. You’ll spend hours looking at it.

Another Monday, another Hittin’ the Links. From Tiger’s flawless swing, to a man who “took the 90s off” from golf and returned in high form, to Wie’s heat woes, to the latest MySpace wannabe, this week’s pile of links has it all. Enjoy!

Oh, and if you’ve got links you’d like to see next week, look up my email on our staff page and send me your links.

Golf Talk [Episode 030]

Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, Michelle Wie, and Annika Sorenstam all fell to underdogs last week.

PodcastTrevor Immelman, Allen Doyle, and Brittany Lincicome all knocked off some big names to claim titles the past week (Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, Michelle Wie and Annika Sorenstam). Plus, Tiger vs. Ozzie Guillen, Michelle Wie vs. the heat of the John Deere Classic, Nick Faldo to TGC, Mickelson at Hoylake, Tiger’s loss of intimidation, Natalie Gulbis winning her first tournament (we predict!), and thoughts on metal spikes. Tune in to this episode of Golf Talk for more.

You can subscribe to the RSS feed for our podcasts here or download Episode 030 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.

Padraig Harrington

Coming off a two-win season in 2005 Irishman Padraig Harrington is a steady player. Can he live up to his potential?

ProFilesEasily identified by his Wilson Staff hat, thick Irish accent, and wide putting stance, Padraig Harrington has grabbed his piece of the golf pie. Many of you will remember one of Harrington’s defining moments: the 65-foot eagle putt he holed on the final hole to beat Jim Furyk by a stroke at the 2005 Barclays Classic. It was one of the best moments in 2005 even though Furyk didn’t appreciate it. “There’s no consolation,” Furyk said. “Finishing second really stinks!”

MacGregor MACTEC NVG2 Tour Driver Review

MacGregor’s new MACTEC NVG2 Tour driver is aimed at skilled golfers, but packs plenty of forgiveness.

MacGregor MACTEC NVG2 Tour HeroOne of the most impressive drivers I hit all of last year was the MacGregor MACTEC NVG. I played it for several weeks before writing a positive review of the driver. In short, I found it long, loud, and very straight.

A year later, you can add another adjective to my description of the MACTEC NVG: “discontinued.” That’s right. Thanks to the ever-decreasing length of the product cycle in the golf business, MacGregor launched two new versions of the driver this January. I’ve had the chance to play several rounds with the new MACTEC NVG2 Tour driver, giving me the chance to decide whether to add “improved” to the MACTEC adjective collection.