A Wie Little Tweak to the Rolex Women’s World Rankings

Michelle Wie will likely drop from second to seventh due to a tweak to the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

Michelle WieThe Rolex Women’s World Rankings (or “The Rolex Rankings”) were unveiled in February to the amusement of many – Michelle Wie was ranked third (and quickly moved up to second) ahead of four-time winner Paula Creamer, consistent performer Natalie Gulbis, multiple winner Lorena Ochoa, and others.

Since then, Michelle has finished in the top five in every LPGA event she’s played in 2006, including all three women’s majors played so far. Many feel this validates her spot below Annika Sorenstam in the rankings.

But that all changed yesterday when the Rolex Rankings announced a tweak to the system that will likely drop the 16-year-old phenom from second to seventh. The new rankings will be unveiled after this week’s Women’s British Open.

Steroid Testing in Golf

Is it time to start testing for steroids in golf?

Thrash TalkThe Major League Baseball trade deadline has been dominating the ESPN headlines the past couple weeks. In the past, trade deadline week was one of my favorite times of the year. I was an avid baseball fan like so many other Americans. Oh how the times have changed! Nowadays, the only thing that comes to mind when talking about the MLB is the use of steroids.

The media has completely blown steroid use in Major League Baseball out of the water, possibly for good reason. There will always be the “steroid era” in baseball, but hopefully things will get back to normal with the new testing program. I certainly have better things to watch on television now.

Golf Talk ‘Moving’ Special Edition

We’re putting together a special podcast, and we want you to be involved.

Site NewsStarting this week, the Golf Talk Podcast will be moving to Monday/Tuesday recording sessions with publication on Wednesdays. To make up for the short week (from earlier today until Monday or Tuesday), we’re going to put together another “Special Edition” podcast with your help.

To get in this Special Edition podcast, you simply have to record yourself talking about a golf-related subject and send the file to us by Tuesday, August 1. Record in the highest quality you can (16 bit, 44.1 kHz, AIFF or WAV preferred) and send your podcast to podcast@thesandtrap.com. We’ll cobble together the best of what’s submitted and roll it together into our special edition.

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.

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.

Drop In Distance

There has been a drop in distance off the tee this year and now we only have eleven golfers averaging more than 300 yards per drive.

The Numbers GameLast year, one of The Sand Trap‘s favorite golf course architects had a regular update his site about the number of players averaging over 300 yards on the PGA Tour. This year, he’s spared us from such updates. I didn’t really understood why until I took a closer look.

There were 26 players last year averaging over 300 yards per drive. This year, it has dropped to eleven. This week in The Numbers Game I’ll look not only at the longer players, but the rest of the tour to see if the drop in distance is spread out and how it affects another stat.

The FedExCup: Failure from the Start?

The 2007 FedExCup details are now known, and all they’ve done is firm my belief that it will be a massive failure.

FedExCupAs I write this, a ticker at pgatour.com/fedexcup informs me that I have but 184 days, 1 hour, 22 minutes, and four seconds until the start of the 2007 PGA Tour season and, by implication, the beginning of a “New Era” in golf – the FedExCup.

Earlier this week, Tim Finchem laid out the rules, points distributions, and the other mundane details of what will certainly become the most mundane “playoff” system in all of modern sport. It is, after all, the only playoff system in which nobody is eliminated and which accepts participants who won’t even be in the league the following season.

The announcement has stirred the pot of discussion, and though everyone from John Hawkins to us here at The Sand Trap has an opinion, I’ve yet to see one supporting the plan.

Carolyn Bivens, Courageously Running LPGA Into the Ground

Carolyn Bivens is making a mess of the LPGA Tour, and unless she changes her attitude or someone wises up and cans her, the LPGA Tour may be headed for some bad, bad times.

Carolyn BivensCarolyn Vesper Bivens has been at the helm of the LPGA Tour for less than one year, and I am hopeful that she won’t last long enough to blow out the candles on a second anniversary cake.

Bivens’ task was perhaps one of the easiest facing any sports commissioner to date: sell the LPGA Tour to the sponsors, the media, and the fans. She’s failed miserably on all accounts.

Her failure comes at a time when the LPGA Tour might not be easier to sell. Annika Sorenstam still dominates, but youthful, energetic, and attractive gals named Paula Creamer, Lorena Ochoa, Morgan Pressel, Michelle Wie, Cristie Kerr, Natalie Gulbis, and Christina Kim have suddenly come about. Se Ri Pak and Karrie Webb have even returned to form this year, taking the first two majors of the year.