Birdies, Blunders Create Year’s Best Tourney: PGA 2010

On a course that’s hard to love, the players put on a show that even a German robot champion couldn’t ruin. Dustin’s debacle only added to the spectacle at Whistling Straits.

Thrash TalkYou won’t hear me saying the PGA is the forgotten major ever again, not after the 2010 rendition served up the most exciting tournament of the season. From the breaking news before play even began to the statement made by a crop of young soon-to-be superstars, there was so much to love even before you add in the biggest rules blunder of our generation.

A sensational course setup that encouraged risk-reward golf proved that a links-style design that looks about as authentic as a Disney World jungle can still provide the stage for exciting, compelling, nail-biting golf.

Whistling Straits and the PGA of America put on such a memorable tournament, even the bland as white bread champion couldn’t spoil the week.

Staff Predictions: PGA Championship 2010

Golf-crazed Wisconsin and Whistling Straits host this week’s PGA Championship, with plenty of story lines, most notably the struggles of the world’s top two players.

Thrash TalkWoe is Tiger, he’s coming off his worst tournament as a professional, he’s barely going to qualify for the FedEx Cup, and he’ll likely need to be a Ryder Cup captain’s pick. He’s struggling so badly, even the bookmakers have dropped him to double digit odds to win (12-1).

Woe is Phil, he’s had a summer full of chances to take over as the world’s number one golfer, yet balky play and a bout of psoriatic arthritis have kept him in his comfortable spot of second banana. He’s got a major on his 2010 resume, but that’s really the only highlight of his season.

With the game’s elite struggling (including world number three Lee Westwood, who withdrew with a leg injury), is now the time Steve Stricker steps to the forefront, in his home state to boot? Will it be one of the upstarts such as Rory McIlroy, Ryo Ishikawa or Ricky Fowler?

Manufactured Drama: The Tour’s Unhealthy Obsession With “Going Low”

Without Tiger Woods in the mix, the PGA Tour needs to generate some excitement and get golf into the headlines. Cue the birdies.

Thrash TalkGoing low is all the rage, as the magic number has been achieved or threatened near weekly this summer. It was fun at first, but now it’s obscene. There’s no question the spate of birdie binges is a result of a concerted effort to inject life into the low-level Tour stops. We all know how good these guys are. How about a bit of a test tossed into their 18-hole afternoons?

As with all sports, golf’s all about the drama. When the world’s best are dueling down the stretch, that’s exciting. When they’re facing the challenge of battling themselves, holding a big lead or charging from behind, there’s a story to be told, a reason to root. But when the game is lacking any compelling story lines, what’s left? Who can make 10 birdie putts vs. who can make 11 birdie putts? It’s fake, it’s a fraud, it’s manufactured drama.

Staying Cool In The Summer Heat

It’s HOT across the majority of the country, but don’t let that keep you away from the course. Though the record-breaking heat may seem overbearing, we’ve got some tips on apparel and accessories to help you beat the heat – and hopefully your playing partners!

Bag DropIn case you haven’t heard the news, it’s friggin’ hot outside! With a few exceptions, this summer has been really brutal for everyone, no matter where you live. The heat index has been so high here in south Louisiana, I’m ready to catch the next plane back to California, just to enjoy the same weather I did during the U.S. Open. Unless that’s a feasible option for you, you’re probably suffering through the oppressive beatings the sun/high temperatures/high humidity every time you step foot on the golf course. Though I can’t help you to outfit your golf cart with full blown air conditioning comparable to that of an refrigerated trailer, I may be able to give you a few tips on some equipment and apparel that might make it a little more manageable.

With This Sad Crew Chasing, Tiger’s Safe at the Top

If anyone in the Top 5 had even a sliver of killer instinct, Woods would be long gone as king of the rankings.

Thrash TalkDoes anyone want to be number one in the world? It certainly doesn’t seem that way. Not the way Tiger Woods has been downing mediocre pills this season, leaving the door wide open. Not the way Phil Mickelson has been squandering one opportunity after another to take over the top spot. Lee Westwood is playing the best golf in the world, but his wins come when the rest of the field collapses.

The title of “Number One in the World” has been so elusive for so long that it would be like England declaring they’re holding a contest to replace the Queen. Would anyone be prepared to step in? The same is happening right now, as Tiger has obviously abdicated his throne. Sadly, no one wants to take over.

Staff Predictions: 2010 British Open

Tiger Woods says his fantasy major lineup would be St. Andrew’s four times. Will the legendary links be the site where his mojo returns?

Thrash TalkSt. Andrew’s is as classic a major venue as you’ll find, and provides a familiar scene for Tiger Woods. He’s won here twice, and the wide open design may be perfect for his wild ways off the tee. On the other hand, he’ll also have to stare down the British media, which make American tabloids look as inflammatory as the New York Times.

As for world number two, can Phil Mickelson finally solve his links blues at the birthplace of golf? And just who will emerge with the claret jug?

Filming Your Golf Swing

Technology is a wonderful thing, and with all due respect to Vijay Singh, it can help you quite a bit.

Casio FH25Vijay Singh was once famously quoted for saying that he doesn’t look at his swing on video because he’d be tempted to make it look pretty rather than focusing on building a swing that works. This quote is often used by people trying to justify why they won’t record their swing or buy a camera.

Unfortunately, Vijay’s quote was taken out of context, misunderstood, or was simply untrue. Singh has used high-speed cameras to record his swing for years and maintains a large library of his videos. While practicing, he often has his caddie or others record his swing, and will stop to look at things and make adjustments.

I think that what Vijay Singh was trying to say is that he values function over form. That’s fine – and something virtually every good golfer has in common. And while it’s true that form follows function in the golf swing, the opposite is also true: function follows form. A high-speed video camera is a useful, valid tool in improving both the form and function of your swing.

Five Burning Questions for the U.S. Open (That Don’t Revolve Around Tiger Woods)

What are your non-Tiger questions? See if they stack up to ours.

Trap Five LogoWith the conclusion of sectional qualifying last Monday (and Tuesday in some places), the field for this week’s U.S. Open is set. While 156 of the world’s best and/or luckiest players in the world will converge at Pebble Beach, you can be sure that most of the world’s media will be focused on just one of them.

Still the world’s number one player, plagued this year by turmoil on and off the golf course, and a decade removed from arguably the most dominant tournament performance in golf history (at this very tournament and venue),Tiger Woods will be the big story throughout the championship. There is a very good chance that Tiger’s presence will overshadow everything else about the Open. Before things get that bad here at the Sand Trap, here are five of the big questions that should be on any golf fan’s mind heading into Pebble Beach.

2010 U.S. Open Staff Predictions

Will this year’s champ be a big name like Tiger or Phil? Who’s that one guy you’d never imagine on the first page? Can Pebble Beach’s greens (and its ocean views) steal the show? Our writers weigh in.

Thrash TalkIt’s been a long time since Tiger Woods entered anything where he’s not the outright favorite to win. But with all his off-course trouble and a lack of recent success, the oddsmakers have installed Woods’ chief rival, Phil Mickelson as co-favorite.

How will #1 and #2 fare this week as the U.S. Open returns to scenic Pebble Beach?