T and A: The Perfect “10”

Annika Sorenstam gives Tiger Woods a run for his money during practice rounds.

Annika and TigerLet’s suppose you’re the number-one golfer in the world and you need a playing partner. Who would you call? Why not dial the top female golfer in the world.

Tiger and Annika have become golfing buddies while not on tour and regularly play practice rounds together. They even throw in a friendly wager even though more often than not Tiger wins. “We always have to have something riding on it,” Sorenstam said. “I think the bets, that’s what keeps him motivated to beat me.”

Gary Player: Officially Senile

Gary Player thinks that there are three kinds of golf: amateur golf, pro golf, and tournament golf. Huh?

He’s back. I’m telling you these former golfing gods just can’t let it go. He said it back in May and in an article earlier this week, Gary Player states again that governing bodies need to pull back modern clubs and balls and that they are making a mockery of the sport. “What they have to do, and it’s unanimous among the pros that play golf and understand the game, is they have to cut the ball back.”


Twisted Pressel

Morgan Pressel turns eighteen soon and wants to join the Ladies Professional Tour ASAP. Is this the best move for her?

morgan_pressel.jpgNow you see her, now you don’t. So goes the story at the U.S. Women’s Junior Amateur championship where Morgan Pressel thought she was a shoo-in to win this week but lost in second-round match-play action.

Colombia’s Juliana Murcia Ortiz, another 17-year-old and a virtual unknown on the professional women’s circuit, now moves on to the semi-finals. Morgan goes home crying again.

The question for Pressel is whether or not competing at the junior amateur level after a second place finish at the US Women’s Open was a good idea?

The Big 24?

Tiger Woods is out – once again – to a greater than four-point advantage in the Official World Golf Ranking. Time to expand: The Big 24 is now all the rage!

The Big Five? They don’t exist. It was a myth. It expanded in March or April or so to include Retief (remember “The Big Four?”), but it should have shrunk to “The Terrific Two” or “The Winning One” as Phil Mickelson has faltered, Ernie can’t win anything with a top-50 player in the field, and Retief falls apart whenever his calendar says “Sunday.” Vijay Singh hasn’t holed a putt for a month or two now.

The Distance Debate: Which Side are They On?

The distance debate is all about two things: the golf ball alone or all of technology. Some like things the way they are.

The distance debate has split the golf world in two. Some want to blame everything on the golf ball. Others want to blame “technology” in general. Some are fine with things the way they are.

The motivations are many. Former players may not like seeing the stature of their records diminished. Architects don’t like building longer courses because they cost more. And your average weekend duffer loves hitting the ball 270 yards when they really catch one (which, naturally, they rarely do).

This list doesn’t aim to look into all of the reasons behind someone’s choice of a side, but merely to list the side they’re on based on public comments and current events. The list will start out smaller and grow as we build upon it, oftentimes linking to our own stories here at The Sand Trap as “proof” of a person’s association.

Norman, Nicklaus, and Watson on the Ball

Greg Norman, Jack Nicklaus, and Tom Watson think that the golf ball goes too far, and they’re not shy about telling people either.

They may not be “on the ball” in terms of playing well, but that doesn’t stop them from talking about “the ball.” Specifically, the golf ball and how far it flies these days.

Greg Norman
In the latest edition of T&L Golf, Greg Norman authors an article called “A Ball Just for the Best?” In short, Norman proposes bifurcation – having different rules for different classes of players. A shorter ball for pros and the ball we all enjoy today for the rest of us:

In my opinion, the game of golf should have two standards for balls: One for professionals and another for amateurs. Sure, there would be some gray areas (which ball would top amateurs, including college players, use?), but the powers that be could sort out those questions.

The devil is in the details, and Greg Norman is far too saintly to tackle those. Greg, whose career is best summarized by a “c” word that rhymes with “poker” has added another title to his repertoire: blathering talking head, complete with unsubstantiated assertions like “The distance that pros hit the ball now is affecting the long-term vitality of the game.” Or try this on for size: “And lengthening and toughening courses is adding to the expense and time required to play the game.” Proof of either statement? Nowhere to be found.

The Longest Yard

David Lloyd has something interesting to say about the distance we hit the golf ball these days. Or so he says…

David Lloyd sets us up for some insight in his GolfWeek.com article “Seeing Both Points.” You see, he played the 8,548-yard Jade Dragon Snow Mountain course in Li Jiang, China. The course sits 10,200 feet above sea level and balls fly 20% further. The title promises to provide a fair analysis of the distance debate in golf.

Unfortunately, Lloyd misses both of his points rather spectacularly. He quotes U.S. Open winner Michael Campbell as saying “(Callaway’s) new FT-3 really made a difference for me in the U.S. Open. I was driving it miles and still hitting a ton of fairways. It was a big part of my win.” I assume that Lloyd feels Campbell’s quote is a great example of increasing distance on the PGA Tour, because Campbell’s statement is nearly devoid of actual fact.

Rocking the Cradle: How Young is Too Young?

Current LPGA Commissioner Ty Votaw insists that there be an age limit to becoming a member of the Tour.

LPGAThese Girls Rock!” is a new campaign designed to inject excitement into the LPGA Tour. The LPGA website places blurbs in the upper-right-hand corner of the main page which read “Natalie Gulbis qualified for an LPGA Tournament at 14 years old” and “Annika shoots a 59.” That’s all well and good but the public really seemed to take notice when the under-eighteen set took to the fairways.

From seventeen-year old Morgan Pressel who kicked and screamed her way through eighteen holes to tie for second place at the Open to the flushed face of fifteen-year old Michelle Wie double-bogeying her way through the final round audiences caught a glimpse into the future of the Tour. Frankly, I want to see more!

U.S. Open Boring? NBC Sports Contributor Dan O’Neill Thinks So

Dan O’Neill is devoid of all emotion when it comes to players having difficulty at the 105th U.S. Open.

Dan O'Neill of NBCSportsI was jumping around the MSNBC site looking to see if the Jessica Simpson vs. Lindsay Lohan catfight had turned deadly but instead I stumbled across commentary by a gentlemen named Dan O’Neill. O’Neill is a columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and contributes to NBCSports.com. He is horrible at creating analogies, but he is good at annoying me.

The first article of which I had the honor to read by this guy, whom has not been excited since the 1999 U.S. Open or possibly since he was born, was entitled “Goosen (yawn) to win 2nd straight Open”. How can you put the word yawn and Goosen in the same sentence after Goosen (along with Peter Jacobsen) had the only sub-70 scores in the third round? Although Retief struggled on Sunday, he still doesn’t deserve a “yawn”.