Soggy Bay Hill Continues with Howell, Ames in the Lead at -5

The sun came out to play, and so did the PGA Tour players at Bay Hill. They didn’t quite finish the second round, but they had fun trying.

Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Retief GoosenCharles Howell III and Stephen Ames caught a bit of fire on Friday as the rains went away and the sun came out at the Bay Hill Invitational. Among the 30 players able to complete their second rounds, they sat atop the leaderboard after 1½ rounds (or so) of play. Each fired rounds of 71, 68 and sit comfortably at -5.

Vijay Singh, a man on a mission (to regain the #1 spot in the world), struggled once again with his putting after hitting the ball beautifully. “I just didn’t make any putts all day,” said Singh. He didn’t have to putt on the eighth hole, though, sinking a 152-yard 9-iron for an eagle and rounds of 72, 68 to sit at -4.

Mickelson: the Real Monster at Doral

With so many players capable of going low, this weekend’s Ford Championship at Doral promises a good finish.

Ford ChampionshipPhil Mickelson is playing like the world’s number one golfer of late and proved it again today. He fired a 6-under 66 to claim exclusive rights to first place and sits at -14. His six birdies put him two strokes ahead of Billy Andrade. Phil – not the course – is the true monster this week.

On a course that historically has been one of the PGA’s most dramatic, we are seeing some low scores. Just to give you an idea of what these guys are up against, the Blue Monster is a par 72 7,255-yard course. There are 117 sand bunkers and water comes into play on 12 of its 18 holes. The 18th hole was the most difficult hole on the PGA Tour last year. It is a course that attracts the world’s best golfers and has provided some memorable moments since the tournament’s inception in 1962.

Big Guns Mix It Up In Round One At Doral

The Ford Championship at Doral has golf’s very best strutting their stuff for a $5.5 million purse, and golf’s best is at the top of the leaderboard.

Phil Mickelson When the dust settled after the first round at Doral four players were tied for the lead at 64: José Maria Olazabal, Phil Mickelson, Brian Davis, and Marco Dawson. Tiger Woods was tied for fifth, one shot back with Harrison Frazar at 65.

The big guns showed up to play, and play they did. Eleven of the top twelve players in the world are at Doral. The missing man is Ernie Els, and he was busy racing into the lead at the Dubai Desert Classic half a world away.

Chrysler Classic of Tucson Round 3

Leaders change by the day at this year’s Chrysler Classic. There are eight players within 4 strokes of the lead, it’s anyone’s tournament.

kevin_na.jpgYou better keep your eye on Kevin Na. He is the youngest player on the PGA tour but is getting used to feeling the weekend heat, finishing ahead of second round leader Calcavecchia. He finished tied for second at the FBR Open behind Phil Mickelson earlier this month and is showing maturity and poise against some great golfers this season. Na’s 7 under 65 was good enough to tie Geoff Ogilvy for today’s lead.

The PGA Tour is going to benefit greatly from young guns like Na breaking onto the scene and racking up wins early in their career. Look no further than the early years of Tiger’s career to prove what a boost young talent can be to the game of golf.

Chrysler Classic of Tucson Round 2

Calcavecchia’s touch on the putting green puts him one stroke ahead of first round leader Mayfair.

chrysler_classic.gifThe Chrysler Classic in some people’s minds (perhaps mine) plays second fiddle to the Accenture WGC World Match Play. While that may or may not be true the Classic allows some less prominent figures on the PGA tour to strut their stuff as is proved by the occupants of the winner’s circle for the last five years: Carter, Willis, Leggatt, Lickliter and Slocum.

Today’s leader, Mark Calcavecchia, proved today that he can get the job done on the putting green. He two-putted from 65 feet for birdie on the par-5 10th, two-putted again from 30 feet at the second hole (having started on the back nine), drained a 23-footer for birdie at the fifth, and sunk a 37-footer for eagle at the par-5 eighth. With his solid performance on the putting green and lack of bogies Calcavecchia went to 15 under and moved into the lead.

Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Round 2

Phil Mickelson shows determination and heart during and up and down day two.

Phil MickelsonIf Phil Mickelson could set a course record at Spyglass Hill on day one of the Clambake, why not set another record on day two? After setting a 36-hole scoring record at Poppy Hills with a 62, Phil scrambled his way to a 5-under 67 at Poppy Hills. His current total of -15 breaks the previous 36-hole tournament record by two.

If Phil’s highlight reel from today did not include flawless execution, it did include great recoveries. He holed a 30-foot putt for par on the tenth and hit a 7-iron through the trees to the green on the par-5 12th, finishing the hole with a two-putt birdie. His birdie was impressive after hitting a tree off the tee. Phil did what it took to get the job done and sits four strokes ahead of his nearest competitor, Mike Weir.

Give Me Some Space

Leave plenty of space between your body and your hands so that you can swing freely through the hitting area.

Many of us neglect a little known principle of golf and as a result our swing is compromised. Here’s the rule: Leave enough space between you and the ball so that you can swing through without any blockage or encumbrance. Pretty simple. Make sure that your hands aren’t too close to your body at address so that they aren’t bunched up through the hitting area during your swing. A good way to prevent this is to measure yourself at address to make sure that you have room to move. The pros do it and so should you.

“The Sweetest Game” by Cal Brown

A book about “Playing Golf By Your Better Instincts.”

Sweetest GameI was over at Barnes & Noble a couple of months back and, like a true fanatic, was perusing the golf section and I came across a book I had to take home. “The Sweetest Game,” by Cal Brown is a collection of anecdotes that serve to instruct and humor anyone who loves the greatest game.

In his chapter, “Golfers Are Born Losers” Brown quotes the proverb that says: “God gave us music that we might pray without words” and goes on to say, “The Scots gave us golf that we might suffer without guilt.” Everyone who has played golf for any length of time knows what Brown is talking about and that is what makes this book so much fun. It’s golf in the raw – the struggles of the greatest players in history as an example for the weekend hack.

Managing Mental Pressure – 3 Keys

These are three keys to managing mental pressure. Why three? Because any more than that and you’d get bored reading. So, three it is!

You start strong on the first two holes. You par the first, birdie the second and feel like it’s going to be a great outing. After a bogey on three you mutter under your breath at the twosome that is crowding you from behind. And then the jerks behind you start consuming your thoughts. If only those freaks would back off because you’re getting tense. Tense is not why we play golf. We play for fun, for competition, for reasons other than tense.

All of us have experienced something like this on the golf course and under normal circumstances you start to melt under the pressure of having someone climb up your backside on the course. What do you do? How are you going handle it? There’s some things you can do to manage pressure that goes beyond just letting the twosome play through.