Greg Norman, on the cusp of becoming eligible for the Champions Tour, has the opportunity to enhance the tour’s popularity. If he plays.
When the Champions Tour first became popular in the 1980s (then known as the Senior Tour), much of the reason for its popularity was due to the fact that “baby-boomers” could watch their childhood idols play tournament golf again. Players such as Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Billy Casper, all great players in the 1960s could now be seen competing and winning once again. It was competitive golf and wonderful nostalgia all rolled into one.
Fast forward to today, and we see that the Champions Tour’s popularity has significantly waned. Players like Palmer and Chi Chi Rodriguez who had been instrumental in the Champions Tour’s initial popularity have long since shortened their playing schedules and are no longer competitive. In recent years, players like Hale Irwin have dominated the tour, and while they have displayed great skill on the links, they have failed to capture a great deal of attention. Let’s face it, while Irwin is a great player, is there anyone who can say they grew up rooting for Hale Irwin?
Continue reading “The Shark Swims Up on 50”
Victorious in 2004, European Ryder Cup Captain Bernhard Langer has withdrawn his name from captaincy in 2006.
Early in November of 2004, the United States chose Tom Lehman as its captain for the 2006 Ryder Cup. The European team has taken a bit longer to choose its leader for the 2006 campaign. Ryder Cup super-star Colin Montgomerie decided he’s not done trouncing American opponents and withdrew his name from consideration. This left three possible choices: Ian Woosnam, Nick Faldo, and Bernhard Langer. Better make that two. Now it appears Langer has decided he’s going to step aside and allow someone else to fill the position. Although Langer removed himself from the captain’s seat, he still has ambitions of being in Ireland saying, “I have every intention of being a playing member of the 2006 European team.” This comes as bittersweet news to American golf fans considering Langer’s 10 Ryder Cup appearances and 21-15-6 cumulative record.
Continue reading “Once is Enough for Langer”
The Phoenix, errr, FBR Open, the PGA Tour’s rowdiest event, kicks off tomorrow. As a wise man once said “You gotta fight for your right to party!”
PGA.com touts tomorrow’s
Phoenix FBR Open as “The Party’s On.” This tour stop, more than any other, is an event unto itself. The raucous crowds sure know how to throw a party, and they do so all across the TPC of Scottsdale’s 18 holes.
The party’s hot spot is undeniably the 162-yard par-3 16th, a bowl-shaped hole in typical stadium course style. 7,000 noisy (and quite often drunk) fans gather round, jeering and booing golfers who don’t go at the pin and hollering for the ones who do.
Fans sing college fight songs, “Happy Birthday,” and “O, Canada” for Mike Weir. They shower the tee with hundreds of beer cups, as Tiger Woods found out at the 1997 event. Tiger hasn’t been back since 2001 when an orange thrown by a fan narrowly missed his head as he putted on the ninth. In 1999, a heckler was removed and later found to be carrying a loaded pistol in his fanny pack.
Continue reading “Phoenix, errr, FBR Open Kicks Off”
Michelle Wie is going to play the Evian Masters in France and may very well play the Women’s British Open if granted a spot.
Michelle Wie. Yeah, you thought we were done talking about her, right? Psych! Wie has accepted an invitation to play in the Evian Masters in France and, because of a new policy in LPGA Tour rules, she’ eligible to play in the Women’s British Open as well. Those starts would bump Wie’s LPGA Tour start tally to eight and would include all four majors.
B.J. Wie confirmed the news late yesterday: that his daughter had received a sponsor’s exemption to the Evian Masters for a second straight year. Golfweek is quoting someone close to the Ladies Golf Union saying that Wie could be offered one of the two spots available to top amateurs for the British Open. LGU chief Andy Salmon said that Wie’s invitation is “being given due consideration” only at this time.
B.J.’s hopes remain high. “We hope to play back-to-back tournaments,” he said. The Evian Masters is played the week before the British Open. The two women’s Opens – US and British – do not acount against the six sponsor’s exemptions a player is allowed to use on the LPGA Tour.
Wie tied for 33rd at last year’s Evian Masters, the only time she missed the top 20 in seven LPGA starts.
Photo Credit: © Unknown.
Justin Leonard, using new Nike equipment, has gone and won a tournament already!
Justin Leonard may have just switched to Nike, but it didn’t hold him back at all as he won his second event, the 2005 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, with the new sticks:
Driver Nike Ignite (410cc) 9.5°
3, 4 Wood Nike Ignite T-60
Irons (3-PW) Nike Forged Blade
Wedges (SW, LW) Nike Forged 54°, 58°
Putter Scotty Cameron Newport
Ball Nike One Black
There was speculation that Leonard, one of the better wedge players on tour, hadn’t yet switched to Nike wedges, but that’s not true. People may have confused Leonard with Phil Mickelson, the new Callaway poster boy, who still plays with his Vokeys. How such confusion could occur is beyond me. After all, Leonard doesn’t even need a training bra! At any rate, it looks like that equipment change wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
Photo Credit: © Nike.
Is the new standard of well manicured golf courses in America killing American golf?
It all began quite innocently in 1956 with the televising of The Masters tournament held at Augusta National. Just one look at the pristine fairways and perfectly manicured rough and Americans across the country demanded the same attention to detail from their local municipals. This day marked the end of American dominance in the sport of golf. Recent history proves how dead American golf is. Look at the World Golf Rankings, 13 of the top 25 come from countries other than the United States. The European teams have held The Ryder Cup six of the past nine years. College golf teams are recruiting players from all over the world because of their abilities. Why the shift in power? It’s not due to a lack of effort: go to any course and you’ll see tons of youngsters trying to emulate Tiger woods. If fingers should point, then blame should lie squarely on American golf courses.
Continue reading “How Good is too Good?”
Ernie Els says that Tiger won’t dominate as he did before. Why? Equipment, confidence, and fitness.
Ernie Els, quoted in The Scotsman Evening News as saying Tiger Woods, who won eight majors between 1997 and 2002, will not be able to dominate as he did before.
Everybody has become better players and technology has brought everybody closer together. He’s had a very good start (to the year), but I can’t see him being dominant again. The guys out there are a lot more confident and they’ve stepped up their games. No one is hitting it 30 or 40 yards past everybody else.
Els added that “at the moment, he is playing better, and more confident. But other guys will be right there.” Other guys weren’t there when Woods overcame the flu to win at the Buick Invitational, and only two players bested Tiger in his only other event of the season, the Mercedes Championship.
Els also said that “technology has changed the game – 12 or 15 years ago, before titanium drivers and new golf balls, it was a different game.” Some quick math reveals that neither 2002 nor 1997 were even 12 years ago, but that’s beside the point, we suppose.
Els could simply be expressing confidence in his own game, or the games (and fitness routines, and equipment) of others. Golf fans are in for a treat regardless.
The relationship of Tiger Woods and his caddy, Steve Williams, could soon become strained.
Steve Williams, caddie to Tiger Woods, recently made the news due to a crash while racing a saloon car (video of such races can be found on Williams’ personal website). Said Williams, “There was a massive amount of blood… I was looking down at my hand and saw bone… It’s a pretty damaged hand. I’m going to have to make some sort of adjustment. I might have to have a little assistance from Tiger.”
Obviously, we should be glad that Williams wasn’t injured more significantly, and we wish him a speedy recovery. However, one has to wonder how much longer Woods will employ Williams, given his tendency for making headlines. If you recall, Williams has had several well-publicized run-ins with on-course photographers. Additionally, Woods has shown little tolerance in the past for similar behavior, separating ties with former caddy Fluff Cowan and former swing coach Butch Harmon when their respective persona became too large for Tiger’s liking.
In June, at the height of the flap over Williams run-in with photographers, Woods stated that Williams, “probably went too far.” It will be interesting to see how long Woods is willing tolerate his caddy’s antics.
Photo Credit: © Lucy Nicholson/Reuters.
Your sand wedge may not always be the best club to get out of a greenside bunker.
You’ve pushed your approach shot and now you’re in a dreaded greenside bunker. To make matters worse, the sand is wet and firm. There are so many options: do you open the blade or close the blade, hit closer to the ball or further away?
Instead of automatically reaching for your 56° sand wedge, try your pitching wedge. The key to playing from wet or very firm sand is picking the ball as cleanly as possible. Think shallow swing and little divot.
Continue reading “Firm Sand? Pitch Your Way Out”