Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ian Poulter Misses Pro-Am for Wimpiest Reason Ever

This week at the Alstom Open De France in Versailles, the European Tour event, pro golfers are suffering. Lee Westwood had to pull out of the pro-am because of swollen calf muscle. Colin Montgomerie couldn't tee it up because of a calf injury as well. Matteo Manassero injured his wrist when he was hit with a golf ball while practicing and wasn't able to play in the pro-am.

Oh, and Ian Poulter couldn't play in the Wednesday event either. Why? Because of an insect bite. Seriously. You're probably thinking to yourself, "Well, he got bit on the hand, so he couldn't swing the club. That sounds legit."

Yeah, it was on his shin, but said it became infected so he wasn't able to golf. Here is his explanation from the near death experience.

"I was practising at Woburn on Monday and got bitten by a horsefly or something. It was swollen yesterday and when I put my hand in my pocket I felt a big lump on my groin and knew it wasn't right. I went to the doctors, was given antibiotics and decided I was well enough to fly this morning, but that's probably not done it any good.

"An English doctor said I should go and have an intravenous drip but the French one did not think that was the right thing to do and has given me tablets. I'll come up in the morning to see how it is. Hopefully I'll be okay, but walking for five hours is not going to do it any good and nor is the heat."

My favorite part of that entire explanation is the, "Hopefully I'll be okay." YOU GOT AN INSECT STING! IT WASN'T EVEN A BEE OR HORNET OR YELLOW JACKET! Lord.

I guess we can tally this one under "why people think golf isn't a sport and golfers are pansies." I'm hearing next week Ian might miss the pro-am because he cut his right index finger's fingernail too short. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tiger Woods and Steve Williams Don't Hate Each Other After All

A week ago, Tiger Woods was licking his wounds from another major championship that saw someone else head to the 18th green to hoist the trophy while Tiger was forced to answer the "what happened" questions.

During his post-round press conference, Tiger was noticeably upset with caddie Steve Williams, saying he felt that, "Stevie said take dead aim right at it, and in my heart I said 'no'. There was no chance, I have a sand wedge in my hand, and I can't play at that flag." He went on to say he hit the wrong club on 12, and while he wasn't actually blaming Williams, it sure sounded like there was so bad blood between the two.

But, silly us! There isn't anything wrong between those two! They love each other! It is a match made in heaven. Just ask Tiger at his press conference this week at the AT&T.

"There's no tension there, not at all. You guys are reading way too much into it. I was asked what happened out there, and I made three mental mistakes out there, three mistakes I don't normally make. Do Stevie and I make mistakes on the golf course? Of course we do. We're not perfect. We made mistakes at the wrong time. It happens. It is what it is. We're great competitors and we both want to win. I just made a couple mistakes, and hopefully that won't happen this week and we can win an event."

The interesting thing about Tiger and his current "slump" is people are going to find any and all reasons why Woods isn't playing well and dig into that. It's his caddie! It's the family! It's his golf swing!

The moment Tiger pulls off a win, everything in his life will completely flip, and things will probably be pretty normal again. Until then, however, questions will be tossed at Woods that he won't like, and he's just going to have to deal with that.

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My Annual 'Hey Old Guy, I Hate You' Post

It happens more than you think. I'm surfing the Internet, looking for whatever there is to write, and I come upon a story of someone that isn't Shane Bacon making a hole-in-one.

As you probably know if you've ever checked this site, I've never made an ace, mainly because the gods hate me and my family and have cursed us with something disgusting when it comes to tee shots on par-3s. Just this morning I was enjoying an iced coffee when my browser pointed me to this headline - "84-year-old makes fourth hole-in-one." Awesome.

At 84 years old, Warren Gilman has this hole-in-one thing practically down to a science.

The Maine retiree now has four in his golfing career. The latest came last week at Point Sebago in Casco.

Gilman says the thrill never gets old, though he missed seeing the ball go into the hole. He was informed by one of his golfing buddies. Joel Marquis, who was in the same foursome, told the Portland Press Herald that Gilman didn't believe it until he looked in the hole.

Gilman didn't start playing golf until his 30s. Now he plays every Monday through Friday, walking the 18 holes with a cart.

I love that he didn't see it go in. Probably because he's old. At 84, you're lucky you can still see your reflection in a mirror, much less watching a golf ball that is white fly through the sky and onto a green a hundred or so yards away, only to see it disappear into a six-inch hole.

So, (sound the theme music), Warren Gilman, I hate you!!

Sergio Garcia Said He Might Decline Ryder Cup Invite

If there is ever a sign that Sergio Garcia lives in a fantasy world, it is the this. Sergio, who hasn't had a win on the PGA Tour or European Tour since 2008, said he isn't that interested in playing on the Ryder Cup team, meaning he actually thinks someone would pick him to play on the European Ryder Cup team.

Apparently, Sergio hopes that Colin Montgomerie has been in a coma since 2008.

After Garcia missed yet another cut at the BMW Invitational, his manager told The Daily Mail that even if he got invited to play, he might decline the invite because he isn't enjoying golf right now, making him the 10,000,000 straight person to not like playing shitty.

Garcia manager Carlos Rodrigues said: 'He isn't enjoying his golf at all. He has even said that if Colin Montgomerie were willing to offer him a wild card he's not sure he would be of any help to the European team.'

Hey Sergio, there are things you need to worry yourself with, and things you don't. I don't lose sleeper worrying about snipers taking me out, or if Megan Fox is going to give me a VD, or how I'll fare in the Masters next year, because those things aren't realistic worries. Worrying about playing on this Ryder Cup team, especially with the way all these other Europeans are playing, just isn't something that Garcia should be losing sleep over.

Now, about that putting stroke ...

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Justin Rose's Final Round, Explained By One Image

On Friday I wrote about Justin Rose's brilliant play at the Travelers Championship. Snubbed by the USGA after his win at the Memorial, Rose was looking to put back-to-back PGA Tour wins together in between the U.S. Open that he wasn't allowed to attend.

That was, until Sunday, when Rose absolutely fell apart. His five-over 75 tied for second worst score of the entire day on Sunday, and nearly dropped him out of the top-10 even though he was leading the event after 54 holes.

Maybe the pressure finally got to him, or the fact that he actually had to sleep on a lead, but whatever happened, Rose will be feeling this loss for a long, long time. Instead of heading to St. Andrews with hopes of contending in a major as the best playing golfer in the world, Rose will now have that looming 75 hanging over his head.

The above photo says it all. Rose didn't have it on Sunday, and left the door open for a lot of other guys.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Scotland 2.0

(Just a heads up, if you'd like to read my post about Scotland from last year, click right here. Or just Google, "Best Article Ever Written" and it'll be right up near the top.)

I'm a lucky kid. Unlike most people that love the game of golf, I've been blessed with a family that, for some reason, loves taking golf vacations. My sister doesn't mind it, my mom enjoys it and my dad is obsessed with it. For a man that doesn't travel much outside of work, a few days on the links in Scotland is his getaway. It's the place that brings out the big smiles.

The last few years I've spent more time in Scotland than most Scots. I worked at St. Andrews for a summer, have been over twice more and was able to swing up when I studied abroad in London. I'm on a first name basis with the lady that runs the Dunvegan. I can spit out holes at Turnberry by memory. I can probably tell you which hotels on the east side of Scotland have air conditioning and which don't. (Note: That is a joke. None do.)

Last week, my family and I again loaded up the sticks and the raincoats for a trip to Men's Paradise.

Right after we landed in Edinburgh, the drive was directly west, towards the home of the first 12 British Opens. Prestwick is a golf course that everyone should play once, just because it takes a normal game of golf, sprinkles some Tabasco on it and serves it deep fried. No other place do you have blind par-3s, tee shots with no clue if the hole goes east or west, and a pretty darn good golf course all wrapped up in one.

To start your golf vacation at Prestwick would be similar to starting your mall experience in Louis Vuitton. "Welcome serious shoppers, you're in for a ride."

Tired, weary and a little sore from the countless hours of travel, the journey began. Ironically enough, when my dad got to the first tee to greet his caddie, my memory started blinking. "I've seen this guy before," I thought. Turns out, he caddied for my father four years ago when we made our way to Prestwick. That's Scotland for you.

After Prestwick (74, not bad to start), we drove down to the Turnberry hotel, site of the 2009 British Open. Our tee time was 9:00 AM the next day, so sleep was essential. The problem is, summers in Scotland is sunlight heavy. You're not getting dark skies until 11:00 PM, so be prepared to have your sleep schedule picked up, bodyslammed and kicked in the teeth.

People always talk about the undulations at Augusta National, and how you don't really get it until you're there. That was something I noticed on the 18th hole at Turnberry. It was simple to say after Tom Watson hit his shot over the green on the 72nd hole that he should have played it short, and avoided any chance of that happening, but being at Turnberry, you see the knob he had to avoid. You can't play that shot short of the green, or you risk getting a nasty kick and finding yourself bunkered, or in high grass.

After Turnberry (71, with an eagle on 17!), we made our way up to Royal Troon.

Now, caddies talk a lot in Scotland, so you have to take most with a grain of salt (or a shaker, depending on the tale), but the east coast guys have always dogged Royal Troon. I never played it, so teeing off that afternoon was exciting. After playing 18 holes there, I can say without a doubt, Troon is my favorite links course in Scotland. The holes are incredible, the layout fantastic and the holes tough but fair. The Postage Stamp (my dad birdied it!) is as interesting a par-3 as there is in golf, and some of the holes coming in can play so tough with a big wind.

Leaving Troon was when our plans died, and we headed to St. Andrews to see what we could find for tee times. While the Old Course was closing on Friday to prepare for the British, we figured we could find some golf around town, and that consisted of Kingsbarns and the Castle Course.

Both are set on the ocean, and both make the word "beautiful" seem like you're talking about gum on your shoe. I've never been to Monterey, but it is hard to believe that place is any more majestic than the courses east of St. Andrews.

All in all, the trip was a success. We had some fun, made some birdies and had some laughs. We have decided that will be the last Scotland trip for a few years, but it is still one of my favorite places on this wonderful Earth.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

$750 Million

That number above is the reported price that Tiger Woods is going to have to pay Elin Nordegren, which is so goddamn insane I can't even muster a joke to soften the blow.

Both Radar and the Chicago Sun-Times are reporting stories that include the $750 million figure (and also the $80 million house in Jupiter, Florida), including other things that Tiger can/can't do.

My favorite of the list is this one:

Elin is demanding Tiger never expose their children to any future female companions ''unless he is married to said person.'' In other words, no Tiger bimbos hanging around those little Woods kids!

Alright, I am one that believes Tiger should take a big hit from this, mainly because I'm the president of Camp Don't Get Married If You're Still Horny For Other Women, but $750 million? How the hell did that figure get cemented?

Along with the "no sluts as the sitter" clause, there are these:

While Tiger and his legal team spent a lot of time crafting elaborate language preventing any future Elin tell-all or media interviews, that was not an issue for the Swedish native. ''She is so private. The last thing she would ever do is revisit this horrible period in her life,'' said a longtime Florida friend.

What has been a big sticking point are custody issues regarding specific time the Woods children will spend outside the United States. Elin is pushing for much more than what Tiger wants.

I'm pretty sure Elin could have a "Tiger must use a kangaroo as a caddie in future major championships" and I still won't be nearly as confused as I am with that monetary figure they came up with.

Kids, sit down for a second and listen to me when I tell you this. If you ever become rich and famous (and I'm sure if you're subjecting yourself to this website, that is very unlikely), don't cheat on your wife, and if you do, don't do it to where she will be totally and incredibly embarrassed.

While I don't agree with the figure that Elin and her team has settled on, you can't blame her for taking it to Tiger. The man has shamed her for the rest of her life, and at least she can leave with a nice parting gift.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tiger and Stevie Don't Like Each Other!

Anyone will agree that when things start to go bad, the easiest thing is to blame over the people. Cue Tiger Woods, who seems to be doing a little of that with longtime caddie Steve Williams.

Williams, who has been around since 1999 with Woods, is always a vocal person on the golf course, but is extremely quiet when it comes to anything critical about Woods (Note: Who would blame him? He's got one of the best jobs in the world). Tiger on the other hand has said some things in the past about Williams, with one of the most critical coming at the Masters a few years back when Tiger was in contention and blamed Stevie for convincing him to hit driver off the third, when he smoked in the woods.

After the final round of the U.S. Open, it appeared Tiger is again a bit upset with the decision making of Williams, namely his second shot into the 10th hole.

"Stevie said take dead aim right at it, and in my heart I said 'no'. There was no chance, I have a sand wedge in my hand, and I can't play at that flag. You land the ball on the green, it will go past the flags."

That wasn't it. Tiger went on to talk about another club decision, and while he didn't call out Williams this time, he did us the royal "we" that was basically, "him."

"I hit the wrong club on 12," he added. "My instincts were telling me to hit a 5, play it to the right, just draw it in there, and we thought 4 would be better, hold it up against the wind and I made just an awful swing."

Listen, the caddie is there to do a ton of things, but at the end of the day, it is the golfer's decision and his execution that makes up a golf shot. If you are sitting there coming up with reasons why the decisions weren't spot-on, you probably aren't totally accepting the fact that you golf swing isn't there.

is it just me, or is Tiger Woods starting to act like one of those actresses that are impossible to work with?

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Paul Casey Might be Trying Out for Vegas Showgirl

The above photo is of our main man Paul Casey at the BMW Championships this week, and I'm not exactly sure what's he doing. Stretching? Trying to touch his knee to his nose? Trying to explain to others what is wrong with his Three Lions?

Just to let everyone know, one of my favorite things in the world is scouring the Internet world for random pictures of golfers, and maybe you don't enjoy them, but I sure enjoy finding them.

A report from Scotland is coming soon. Until then, keep screaming at the American midfielders to stay the f onsides!

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Graeme McDowell Will Now Call All His Friends to Gloat

If you've ever checked this website, you've seen the jokes about Graeme McDowell and his constant cell phone usage on the golf course (earlier this week, after I posted this picture, I noticed him warming up before a round talking on his cell phone while he hit some irons shots one handed ... he's obsessed!).

I guess after winning the U.S. Open on Sunday against a star-studded leaderboard, he can call/text/sext anyone and everyone he wants whenever he wants.

McDowell's final round 74 wasn't as impressive as it was survived, something a lot of the other guys in the hunt couldn't seem to do on a nasty day at Pebble Beach. Tiger Woods shot 75 when he needed something low. Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els came in at 73. Third-round leader Dustin Johnson shot a colossal 82.

The only competition McDowell faced all afternoon was from little known Gregory Havret, a Frenchman that was paired with Tiger on Sunday.

What we learned about Pebble Beach is that without a flawless Tiger tearing it up, par is a great score. This is the second time the U.S. Open has been at Pebble Beach in this century, and only one man has ever broke par on it. It's a bear, and it took absolutely no prisoners in round four.

Congrats to Graeme. This marks the fourth time in 12 major championships that someone from the Irish isles was able to take home the big enchilada. Maybe Rory McIlroy can add to that list in a few weeks at St. Andrews? Stay tuned.

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Dustin Johnson Is Another Victim of the US Open Collapse

It happens all the time. A name finds his way to the top of the U.S. Open leaderboard, and we are all thinking the same thing; "No way this guy takes home the trophy."

Jason Gore did it to us. So did Aaron Baddeley. The problem was, with Dustin Johnson, that didn't seem to be the consensus. Everyone thought he might have a shot at this championship because he had such a large lead heading into Sunday (three) and had so much success on Pebble Beach before (two wins in the last two AT&Ts).

The problem is, we sometimes forget that yes, this is the U.S. Open, and when guys haven't been there before it is a whole different beast.

On Sunday, Johnson started with a nice par on the first hole. Sadly for Dustin, that was the only time in his opening few holes that someone will use the word "nice" with his round. A sloppy triple-bogey on the second hole (honestly, all triples are sloppy) was followed up by a double-bogey on the third, and then a short par putt missed on the fourth that dropped him six shots in four holes.

Dustin, meet nerves.

It was a moment that had everyone grabbing their sides, wondering what exactly just happened to the leader. He isn't going to win, and he showed once again that when the pressure mounts, no lead is actually safe.

(The only good thing? It lead to this epic Tweet from Scott Walker, who now jumps up my list as second favorite person at The Golf Channel, behind the person that accidentally trips over the cord that plays their station on the air.)

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Tiger Woods Finally Returns to Golf


Finally, we saw Tiger Woods hit the shot we've waited on him to hit at the moment we expected him to hit it, on the stage that was built just for him. The 18th hole, a trick shot in hand, around a tree, away from the water, between a bunker.

Tiger's second shot into 18 was one of the best we've seen from him this season, reminiscent of the second shot he hit last season on the 18th hole at Harding Park during the Presidents Cup in terms of reaction, but nothing close to perfect in terms of execution.

We've waiting on Tiger to do something like he did on the back nine at Pebble Beach on Saturday for a while, but that doesn't mean it still wasn't surprising when he did it. A huge birdie on the 16th that brought about a fist pump circa 2001, followed by a curling putt on 17 that nobody makes, and then the two-putt birdie on 18 that was seemingly disappointing considering the incredible shot he pulled off around the tree.

His 66 brought him well within sight of his buddy and leader Dustin Johnson, who has played exceptionally well this week, but it gives us a chance to once again see if the name "Tiger Woods" brings the rest of the field to their collective knees.

On Saturday I wrote that Phil Mickelson was a changed man, but it seemed that the changes are coming with Woods, who didn't have any problems on his back nine, creating roars the likes we haven't seen since his Augusta days.

Before this week I didn't think Tiger had a shot at taking home this championship. After Saturday, I don't see how he won't.

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Can Someone Tell Phil To Stop This

You all know the above photo. It's one of the most famous golf photos on the Internet. Phil Mickelson, bent over, gut hanging, with a marshall making a face like he'd just Lundberg's Phil to death.

Now, when putts aren't going in, what do you do? Do you throw your head back or hit the face of your putter like the rest of us, or do you bend over, hoping that a poor marshall in the background will once again become an Internet sensation?

Phil did this, below, on Friday on his way to an incredible 66 (I wrote about his round right here), but come on Lefty, lock this move up. No need to give us the ass-out shot. We've seen it before, and we. don't. want.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Phil Mickelson Turns 40, So is He Still the Favorite?

Be honest. When you're 40, things just don't work the same as they did when you were 25. The knees start to ache, the back requires nightly Aleve and your focus is more on rounding out your career than defining it.

That is, unless you're a professional golfer. The older you get these days, the better chance it seems you have at winning the big golf tournament.

Kenny Perry nearly stole the 2009 Masters at the ripe age of 48. Tom Watson had an incredible chance to win the '09 British Open at the remarkable age of 59.

The problem is, both almost pulled off the feat, but couldn't, and as Phil Mickelson celebrated his 40th birthday on Wednesday at Cypress Point, the question is worth asking; how many more of these things can Lefty actually compete in?

As my colleague Jay Busbee points out, Watson and Arnold Palmer never picked up a major championship after they turned 35 and 34, respectively, and Jack Nicklaus won only that heroic '86 Masters after rolling past the big 4-0. While it seems Phil is playing as good as ever, the clock is ticking on his career and it seems he will only have a few more legitimate shots at winning this championship that continually seems to elude him.

Is he the favorite this week at Pebble Beach? You're damn right he is, and arguably the only favorite save you Dustin Johnson. If he doesn't pick up this U.S. Open, are there very many more he could win? That is the question that time will have a lot to say about.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Graeme McDowell is Back With the Cell Phones

Earlier this year, at the CA Championship, I posted this picture of Graeme McDowell going through his two cell phones during a practice round.

You'd think during major championship week, Graeme would leave the cells at home.

NAY, says Graeme. NAY! The above photo was Graeme at Pebble Beach, ON HIS CELL PHONE!

This website ... where hard hitting news comes to the forefront.

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My Top Ten Guys to Watch at Pebble Beach

This week is the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, one of the great golf venues in the world hosting one of the best golf tournaments in the world. Everyone is going to be picking golfers to watch, and since I'm not that creative, I'm doing it too!

Here are my top ten golfers to keep an eye on at Pebble

1.) Lee Westwood: He won last week on the PGA Tour for the first time since 1998, and has been in contention at the last three majors, and two of the last three U.S. Opens. Along with that, he had a top-five finish the last time Pebble Beach hosted this event, and his hair has looked incredible lately. He is my favorite to win, and the guy that I'd bet on if I had any money (blogging rules!).

2.) Phil Mickelson: What, you don't expect Lefty to be in the mix at a major championship? I'm going to go out on a limb and say he finishes second at the U.S. Open this year.

3.) Dustin Johnson: The last two years, Johnson has left Pebble Beach with the Pro-Am trophy, and he hits it far enough to make the changes on No. 9 and 10 obsolete. Also, during his press conference yesterday, a girl friend of mine asked, "Is he high? I think he's high." You have to love a guy that girls think looks high.

4.) Zach Johnson: Don't sleep on the other Johnson! Zach has a win and a top-12 in his last three events, and can putt with the best of 'em. If he hadn' already won a Masters, I'd say the U.S. Open is an event that sets up great for his game.

5.) Camilo Villegas: Already a solid year under his belt, Villegas played well at the St. Jude and has finished in the top-10 at the U.S. Open before. Also, his abs!

6.) Steve Stricker: Here is a decent combination for a U.S. Open sleeper: never misses fairways + never misses putts.

7.) Tiger Woods: I heard a story about him playing well at this event a few years back, and I'm fairly certain he likes Pebble Beach. Maybe if Steve Williams will toss his driver in the ocean before round one, Tiger might have a chance.

8.) Ricky Barnes: He's played Pebble a lot, and tends to bring his best game when the field is the toughest.

9.) Robert Allenby: He continues to have a great year, plus since 2002, Allenby has bounced back the next year at a U.S. Open after having a crappy finish the year before, (Since '01 (DNP), he's gone t-12, t-39, t-7, CUT, t-16, CUT, t-18, CUT) so he is due to have another good one in 2010.

10.) Padraig Harrington: I just want him to win so I get to hear him talk some more.

Alrighty, who is your pick!?

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Monday, June 14, 2010

My Quest to Find Love Again

On Tuesday morning I will be making the trip that any golfer with a pulse would die for. It involves boarding a plane, golf clubs in tow, and heading across the pond to the home of golf. I'm going to Scotland to tee it up at some of the most famous golf courses in the world with my dad, gearing up for a British Open qualifier that will take place the following week.

It is the trip of a lifetime, but more than that to me. It's an opportunity to fall back in love with a game that I've started to dislike. I will be embarking on a trip to reinvent my golfing soul, something I never thought I'd lose, and I'm expecting ... no, hoping ... that this feeling goes away.

See, the last year or so has been a weird one for me. Like most people in their mid-20s, I've been dealing with a ton of changes, some serious and some not so serious. The problem is, my golf game has suffered like never before, and although the scores don't necessarily show it (I can still find a number around par after I finish up the 18th), it isn't the same. It's like those lulls in a relationship when just nothing seems to be working for you or the significant other, and you go to bed at night hoping that the next day will bring you a little hope.

I've spent the last year hating the game I love to play, and was blessed to be pretty decent at it. My friends can't comprehend the pain I feel on the golf course, struggling to hit the shots I want. They think I'm whining when I hit it 20-feet or so from 110 yards because to them it is a decent shot, but the hard part is understanding where I'm coming from (on the contrary, I get why they think I'm annoying ... most would love to be able to do that on a consistent basis and I hate being the guy that is yelling all over the course at "bad" shots).

I'm going to take this trip with absolutely no worries. I don't want to think about my score or my shot or my negativity. I want to stand on every tee with hope that my shot will turn out how I envisioned it, and if it doesn't, try and find it and hit it again. This game can be frustrated on every level, and I am trying to be more positive with it. Starting on Tuesday, my new journey begins.

I don't really know why I'm writing this for the masses. Maybe it's an opportunity for me to actually say what I want to say about golf, and how I'm really hoping to be able to have fun playing it again. I am sick of walking to my car with my head down, and my wedges shuttering at some of the shots I made them hit. I don't want to be that guy that bitches about every shot. I want to go out and leave happy and fulfilled, because I think the pain I feel on the golf course is starting to seep out in other parts of my life.

It's just a game to most, but to me it's my livelihood. While I know I'll never win the Masters, I do consider myself a respectable golfer that will always be able to perform on the links. I'm hoping the next seven days will give me an opportunity to pick up my golf clubs, begin the journey on the outward nine, and just smile a little.

It might be a good walk spoiled to some, but to me it is my first love, and I hope we can rekindle it on our little vacation. (That means you have to be sweet too, golf.)

U.S. Open Betting Odds

Here are the odds (courtesy of Bodog) for winning the U.S. Open this week at Pebble Beach. I bolded the ones I actually would put money on, if I gambled.

Tiger Woods -- 7/1
Phil Mickelson -- 7/1
Lee Westwood -- 10/1
Rory McIlroy -- 28/1
Padraig Harrington -- 28/1
Jim Furyk -- 28/1
Ernie Els -- 30/1
Steve Stricker -- 33/1
Luke Donald -- 33/1
Retief Goosen -- 33/1
Dustin Johnson -- 33/1
Matt Kuchar -- 40/1
Camilo Villegas -- 40/1
Paul Casey -- 40/1
Ben Crane -- 40/1
Zach Johnson -- 50/1
Hunter Mahan -- 50/1
Geoff Ogilvy -- 50/1
Adam Scott -- 50/1
K.J. Choi -- 50/1
Stewart Cink -- 50/1
Tim Clark -- 50/1
Graeme McDowell -- 50/1
Bo Van Pelt -- 66/1
Robert Allenby -- 66/1
Sean O'Hair -- 66/1
Kenny Perry -- 66/1
Scott Verplank --66/1
Nick Watney -- 66/1
Stephen Ames -- 66/1
Robert Karlsson -- 66/1
Ryan Moore -- 66/1
Ian Poulter -- 66/1
Vijay Singh -- 66/1
David Toms -- 66/1
Martin Kaymer -- 66/1
Steve Marino -- 80/1
Francesco Molinari -- 80/1
Heath Slocum -- 80/1
Y-E Yang -- 80/1
Angel Cabrera -- 80/1
Ricky Barnes -- 100/1
Sergio Garcia -- 100/1
Brian Gay -- 100/1
Lucas Glover -- 100/1
Peter Hanson -- 100/1
Edoardo Molinari -- 100/1
Kevin Na -- 100/1
Charl Schwartzel -- 100/1
Brandt Snedeker -- 100/1
Henrik Stenson -- 100/1
Mike Weir -- 100/1
Miguel Angel Jimenez -- 100/1
Rory Sabbatini -- 100/1
Rhys Davies -- 100/1
Justin Leonard -- 100/1
Ross Fisher -- 100/1
Jerry Kelly -- 125/1
Davis Love III -- 125/1
John Senden -- 125/1
Jason Dufner -- 125/1
Thongchai Jaidee -- 125/1
Alvaro Quiros -- 125/1
John Rollins -- 125/1
Michael Sim -- 125/1
Aaron Baddeley -- 125/1
Ben Curtis -- 150/1
Brian Davis -- 150/1
Hiroyuki Fujita -- 150/1
Soren Hansen -- 150/1
Soren Kjeldsen -- 150/1
Marc Leishman -- 150/1
Gareth Maybin -- 150/1
Stuart Appleby -- 150/1
Arjun Atwal -- 200/1
Alex Cejka -- 200/1
Brendon De Jonge -- 200/1
Simon Dyson -- 200/1
Bob Estes -- 200/1
Ryo Ishikawa -- 200/1
Tom Lehman -- 200/1
Shaun Micheel -- 200/1
Oliver Wilson -- 200/1
J.J. Henry -- 200/1
Trevor Immelman -- 200/1
Tom Watson -- 200/1
Paul Goydos -- 200/1
Simon Khan -- 200/1
Seung-yul Noh -- 200/1
Louis Oosthuizen -- 200/1
Chris Stroud -- 200/1
Charles Warren -- 200/1
David Duval -- 200/1
Harrison Frazar -- 250/1
Yuta Ikeda -- 250/1
Kent Jones -- 250/1
Derek Lamely -- 250/1
James Morrison -- 250/1
John Mallinger -- 250/1
Ross Mcgowan -- 250/1
Azuma Yano -- 250/1
Rocco Mediate -- 250/1
The Field ( Any Other Golfer) -- 25/1

Okay, I don't know who Yuta Ikeda is, I just liked his name so I think that justifies a good bet. Also, is someone really going to drop coin on Louis Oosthuizen to win the U.S. Open? I'd rather put my money on Tony Romo.

If you take my advice and lose money, that is your fault for being dumb enough to listen to something I said.

What Should We Expect From Tiger Woods?

This week is the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, an event at a venue that was all but flipped over and done again by Tiger Woods in 2000. He owned the golf course, his golf swing, the field and the tournament. He finished 12-under par, 15 shots clear of poor Ernie Els, who always seemed to play better than everyone else in the field besides Tiger in those days.

This week, we get Tiger 2.0 at Pebble, but the expectations are different. This is a man that hasn't been in control of his golf swing since the first three rounds of last season's PGA Championship, and doesn't look to be anywhere close to U.S. Open championship form.

So what should we think when Tiger steps foot on those famed links this Thursday?

I for one still think he could win. Just like Kobe Bryant seems to be doing for the Lakers, Tiger must keep his team afloat, and the only way he is going to do that is by playing well at a major and allowing us all to forget the last year. That raises another question, however. Will we ever see Tiger in that 2000 Pebble form? The percentages say no, since it might have been the best overall performance in the history of golf, capping anything Jack or Arnie or Bobby ever did. But can we expect domination from Tiger? That is where things get fishy.

See, all Tiger's life golf has made a ton of sense, and he's won consistently throughout his 34 years on this planet. Now, he actually has to think about stuff like making cuts and breaking par and keeping his head up so people don't discuss his bad behavior.

This week will tell us a lot about what the state of Tiger's life is in. He isn't just playing for a trophy, he's playing for peace of mind.

So what will be the outcome on Sunday on that majestic 18th green? I think Tiger will be in contention, just because he is supposed to be in contention here.

The golf world needs a little Woods dominance again. Hopefully the man that has always come through decides to do it once more. A win here, and everything will be forgiven, at least by us.


It is U.S. Open week (woohoo!), but we can't move on and chat about the upcoming week without talking about the infamous Garrigus Gaffe.

Choke. Yikes. Argh. Boom.

It was as bad as it gets in the choke department, and his reaction after that tee shot on 18 was very "Mickelson at Winged Foot" -esque.

If you haven't seen it, here is the video. I feel terrible for the guy.

(Also, not to brag, but I picked Lee Westwood before the week began as one of my five favorites. I have never in my life picked a guy to play well and he actually play well, so I figured it was time for me to brag. I'm bragging. I apologize.)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Shut Up Ian Poulter

When it comes to golfers I've met and disliked, Ian Poulter is at the top of the list. I never really care when athletes blow off reporters (I actually tend to expect it), but when they go out of their way to be a dick, it's saying something.

So when I saw the quotes Ian said about the upcoming USA-England World Cup match I wasn't surprised. He's a bit of a condescending boob, and the comments came off like that.

Here is what he said on Twitter.

sorry to disagree but you guys havent got a chance against england, its like england vs usa in basketball, sorry but its the truth

Well, no shit Ian. Most Americans realize that the chance we beat you guys in your best sport is very, very slim but it doesn't mean we can't get excited about the prospect of it happening. We have hope in a sport we usually don't have hope in, and for once in a world sporting event, the Americans aren't the favorites. We get to feel like all the other countries feel during the Winter or Summer Olympics; a bit unsure, but feisty.

Also, your soccer-basketball analogy could never work. Look at the list of English "stars" in the NBA. Ben Gordon is the only one anyone reading this has probably ever heard of, and even he was coming off the bench on a team like the Bulls. How bad is basketball in the UK? I studied abroad at a place called the University of Westminster, and I would have played on their university basketball team if not for a class I had when the games were played. Try doing that on a college soccer team over in the States.

So yes, we all understand in the back of our heads that we will probably lose to England, just like most of thought there was a slim shot we'd beat Canada in the Olympic hockey finals, but don't yell at us about rooting for our team and hoping for the best.

It actually makes you look quite American.

(Also, if you haven't had a chance to check out Ian Poulter's swing sequence in the latest Golf Digest, please take a moment and look if you can find the magazine. Even gay horse jockeys are embarrassed by his outfit.)

John Daly is Doing Well

Here are two fun stories about John Daly that are sure to make him sound less insane and way more normal.

First, news is out that he is suing a children's charity for $100 million because of some injury he suffered at the Honda Classic. Here, this explains it.

Some digging by the Palm Beach Post has revealed that Big John filed a $100 million lawsuit against various defendants for an injury he suffered at the Honda three years ago. Among the defendants: the PGA National Resort, the tournament’s venue; the PGA Tour; and the Children’s Healthcare Charity, a local non-profit funded almost entirely with Honda Classic profits.

Daly filed two years ago after a woman taking pictures jumped in front of him in mid-swing. Daly claimed in the paperwork he aborted the movement because he feared killing the woman but felt his rib cage pop out. The paperwork reads that Daly and other players unsuccessfully tried three times before the incident to have security kick the unidentified woman off the course.

Daly blamed the injury’s recurrence for his withdrawal from several tournaments this year. He even twittered about retirement.

First, who jumps in front of a guy that hits the golf ball forever to take a photo? You can't just wait until he's done? Second, don't sue a charity. That's stupid.

Third, as you see above, Daly plans to make his first start on the Nationwide Tour next week since 1991. That can never be a good sign for the state of his golf game.

What does this tell us? No matter the age, Daly will always give us fodder to focus our down weeks on.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Chatting With Tom Watson

My editor over at Yahoo! had promised me an interview with Tom Watson, and while I obviously was excited at the opportunity (Watson has always been one of my favorites, mainly because my dad was obsessed for a while), I figured it wasn't going to happen so soon before the U.S. Open.

That was, until this morning, when I was rolling into the grocery store at 6:30 to snag some essentials. My editor's number popped up, he let me know that Watson would be calling momentarily, and I drove as fast home as humanly possible (sorry, construction dude I almost hit with the SLOW sign).

The first thing Tom asked me when the phone rang was how I was doing, and where I was from, and the interview went from there. I'll let you read the whole thing over at Yahoo!, but just wanted to share the link here.

While I'm not really that confident in Watson competing next week at Pebble Beach, I do think he has a great shot in a month at St. Andrews. The British is his oyster, and after last year it seems only fitting he'd be in contention at the home of golf.

Some Famous People Played in that US Open Challenge

The first year Golf Digest decided to pick a random person to play the U.S. Open venue with U.S. Open-like conditions, and see what they'd shoot, it seemed like a fun idea. "Could a regular Joe even compete in those tough conditions?," we wondered.

Now, three years later (I think?), the Golf Digest U.S. Open Challenge has faded to just another gimmicky event that few people in the golf world seem to care about. We've exchanged Michael Jordan, arguably the most famous golfing athlete of our generation, with Wayne Gretzky, an icon in his own right but still not to MJ's level. They swapped Justin Timberlake for Mark Walhberg ("say hello to your mother for me") and we got Drew Brees in place of Matt Lauer.

No matter, neither of these guys could handle the conditions of Pebble Beach, to say the least. Brees, a recorded 3-handicap, shot 102. The Great One came in with exactly 100, and Wahlberg, a man that once said he wanted to try out professional golf, shot 97.

Maybe this quote sums up the thought of an entire group of millionaires out trying to do what the pro golfers do.

Hey, listen, I love the game and for me it is a game, it will always be a game and I'll always enjoy it. But if I had to do it for a living, I'd slit my wrists," Wahlberg said.

I'm sure the challenge will continue for years to come, but maybe they could add a wrinkle or something to it to spice it up? Maybe have these famous guys actually compete for something, even if the money went to charity. At least something to possibly silence the laughs on the back nine and force the players to actually have something on the line, much like the guys will next week at Pebble.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Curious Case of Justin Rose and the USGA

You may find it strange that Justin Rose, winner of last week's Memorial, will not be in the field at the U.S. Open. He won't. He failed to qualify on Monday so arguably the hottest golfer in the world right now (obviously debatable) will not be playing in the upcoming major championship.

Why is this a big deal? Because it shows that while the U.S. Open, an event opened to anyone, including Roy McAvoy, has a cool way of getting in, it still is a system with flaws.

Here, in lengthy order, are the full exemptions into the field.

Winners of the U.S. Open Championship the last 10 years (2000-2009)

Winner and runner-up of the 2009 U.S. Amateur Championship (must be an amateur)

Winners of the Masters Tournament the last five years (2006-2010)

Winners of the British Open Championship the last five years (2005-2009)

Winners of the PGA of America Championship the last five years (2005-2009)

Winners of the 2010 Players Championship the last three years (2008-2010)

Winner of the 2009 U.S. Senior Open Championship

15 lowest scorers and anyone tying for 15th place at the 2009 U.S. Open Championship

Top 30 money leaders from the 2009 final official PGA Tour money list

Those qualifying for the season-ending 2009 Tour Championship

Top 15 money leaders from the 2009 final official PGA European Tour money list

Top 10 money leaders from the 2010 official PGA Tour money list, through May 24 (must have filed an entry by April 28)

Any multiple winner of PGA co-sponsored events whose victories are considered official from June 21, 2009, through June 13, 2010

Top five money leaders from the 2010 official PGA European Tour money list, through May 24

Top two money leaders from the 2009 final official Japan Golf Tour money list, provided they are within the top 75 point leaders of the World Ranking at the end of the year

Top two money leaders from the 2009 final official PGA Tour of Australia money list, provided they are within the top 75 point leaders of the World Ranking at the end of the year

Top 50 point leaders from the current World Ranking, as of May 24

Any player whom the USGA selects for an exemption on the basis of his playing record (must have filed an entry by April 28)

Now, you can toss out most of those because Rose hasn't won anything big ever. He isn't a winner or runner-up in the top seven events, he was cut last year at Bethpage (although he did finish 10th in 2008), he isn't locked in on the money lists of either tours and he sure isn't a top-two on the Japan Tour money list.

No, the problem is, Justin Rose played too well, too late. Yep, before last week, Rose was ranked 66th in the world, and you need to be in the top-50 to get a spot in the Open. Problem is, they have a deadline, and that was May 24, well before the completion of the Memorial. If Rose had won, say, the Shell Houston Open, this wouldn't be an issue. But, because of his win at Jack's tournament, Rose jumped all the way up to 33rd in the world, well above the cutoff for entry into Pebble Beach.

With all the money these guys make, and the ease of plane and hotel reservations for someone ranked top-50 in the world, this rule needs to be changed, and fast. There is no reason someone should be left out because of a deadline nearly a month before tournament time.

Shame on the USGA for having outdated rules. Or shame on Rose for deciding to show up too late. No matter, the U.S. Open will be without a guy that has two top-10s in his last five starts in U.S. Opens.

Tiger Woods Went to PR Camp, Decides to Play in Irish Charity Pro-Am

There are a few things Tiger Woods could do to help his image (stop screaming all the time, be nicer to people, not sleep with strippers, stop wearing the 12-year-old red on Sundays), but one of the main things is to start doing things for other people in what could only be considered a public relations ploy. (Ed. Note: I understand he has a charity, yada yada yada, but the point of this is to make it seem like he wants to help out people other that the kids that eventually benefit him.)

That will begin on July 5, when Tiger has announced he will play in a charity pro-am in Ireland at Adare Manor. The charity in question is one put together by Irish businessman and racehorse owner J.P. McManus, and Tiger said his goal is to help the start-up charity get some footing.

Woods said in a statement released by organizers that because of his own foundation he understands "the importance and necessity of raising funds to help deserving individuals."

Listen, don't kid yourselves, this is all to help the image of Tiger, but it's smart. Why wouldn't he go out and do stuff like this more often? The whole idea is to make people actually like Tiger the Man, not just Tiger the Golfer, and if he wants that, he's going to have to bust his butt as hard on charity work than he does on his golf swing (avoiding obvious "he can't be working that hard on it right now" joke).

Tiger is a smart guy, and surely this is stuff he gets, but either his schedule hasn't allowed it, or he just hasn't seen the benefits of doing such work long-term. Hopefully this Ireland visit is just the start of such actions so we can all be made to believe that Mr. Woods is a changed man. Isn't that all we really care about anyway?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Why Hello, Ladies

As you've probably heard, Colin Montgomerie is the latest golfer to be called out for cheating on his wife, and has since apologized to both his wife and his family. It was supposedly with his neighbor, which basically means with some of the Tiger rumors, if you live next to a famous golfer, you best not birth a female.

That didn't stop Monty from shooting a 62 in British Open qualifying, meaning we will see Mr. Montgomerie for the 21st straight time in the Open. The closest Colin has come to claiming the Claret? 2005, when he finished second to Tiger Woods at, where else, St. Andrews.

After his round, Monty made that face at a camera, which either means "come here, baby" or "someone get me a Q-tip, stat!"

Getty Images

A Quick Message About Next Week

So, next week is U.S. Open week, and I'll be covering it ... from Scotland.

Yes, I know that might sound strange, but I'm heading over to the best country in the world besides ours to try to qualify for the British Open. I know that might sound strange as well ("There is qualifying for it here, idiot!"), but I made a vow years back that whenever the British was held at St. Andrews, the course I was fortunate enough to caddie at for a summer, I'd drag my sticks across the pond and go the way of the locals.

My qualifying course is the same as 2005, when I shot a nice little 75 with six birdies (consistent!). It is very American-y, so to prepare I'll be spending most of my days (while you people are sleeping) practicing at some of the best golf courses in the entire world. My plan is Turnberry, Troon, Prestwick and then the east coast, while most of my evenings will be spent slouched over in a pub watching the U.S. Open and writing/tweeting/pinting.

So, no worries, content will still flow, but I wanted to give you a heads up in case you were worried. Which I'm sure you weren't.

Okay, back to real news, like Ty Tryon making it into the U.S. Open field. Cool dude, and I'm happy for him.

(And yes, that is a photo of me tucking in my shirt at St. Andrews. I figured it was better than one of me with my stupid smile.)

Completely Understanding the Tony Romo Experiment

You may or may not know this, but Tony Romo is a football player. A pretty dang good one, actually. He is the starting quarterback (the toughest position in the game, mind you) for the Dallas Cowboys, the most popular football team in the world. So, it wouldn't be crazy to say that Romo has the most looked on jobs in the National Football League. That whole world is his job.

On Monday in Houston, Romo took a minute away from check-downs and cornerbacks to attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open, arguably the toughest golf tournament in the world. He didn't make it. "Failed," as some people in Philadelphia are sure to say. That is, if you really don't have a good grasp of this golf game. For Tony Romo, his play on Monday was as impressive as anything he has ever done on the football field.

"How is that possible," you ask? I understand that he withdrew after the second round was pushed back to Tuesday, because he had optional Cowboys practice and either wanted to make sure he was there in Dallas or didn't want to get all the criticism he'd land for picking golf over football (you have to remember, he had a chance to Monday qualify for the Byron Nelson a couple of weeks back but had more OTAs, so pulled out of that event as wel).

What is impressive is how well Romo can play under these types of conditions. In local qualifying, the tournament within the qualifying tournament, Tony withstood other great players in a playoff to make it to the sectional qualifying on Monday. There were 36 golfers and only two plane tickets to Pebble Beach, and after 18 holes, Romo was very much a factor. He had shot a one-under 71 after making a jitter-induced triple-bogey on his 5th hole. He had only one bad hole the entire first round, and went in as just one of 12 golfers to finish under par after the first leg.

A 71 might not impress you, since you see those numbers tossed around PGA Tour events like grass clippings, but this man doesn't play professional golf. Hell, he doesn't even play much competitive golf except in his offseason. He was going up against major championship winners, PGA Tour veterans and excellent mini tour and amateur competition.

You have to take your hat off to Romo for his attempt, and success. Most people don't understand the difficulty of trying to make it to the a U.S. Open through this route, and Romo was within sight of doing so.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Yep, Phil Mickelson Is Still Crazy, Part 2

You're standing on a cart path, trying to figure out the best place to play a shot from 250 yards. At what point does, "you know, on the cart path makes the most sense" cross your mind? Never? Ever?

Phil Mickelson was the 15th at the Memorial on Sunday, and was in desperate need of a birdie. He had hit his drive in a creek so an up and down with a fairway wood was his only chance.

What did he do? He tried to draw the damn thing off concrete. I have no words. Just watch this looney tune.

I truly believe that most of the time, Phil cares about his golf game, but much like LeBron James, sometimes the drama overcomes sense and sensibility. Do me a favor, if you have an extra three-wood lying around your apartment.

Go try to make a hook golf swing with it on your parking lot. Oh, and then go to the doctor for your obligatory wrist injury.

You're a crazy cat, Philly. (Oh, and in case you were wondering, he made double-bogey here.)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Yep, Phil Mickelson Is Still Crazy

You have to love Phil Mickelson for how his mind works at times. This is a guy that once tried to play a U.S. Open without a driver, and has put two drivers in at times to move the ball left or right (Somewhere, Bobby Jones is rolling in his grave). He gives his caddie one veto a year on a golf shot, and that's it. Even back in his amateur days, Phil would give match play opponents long par putts when Phil had a birdie putt just to screw with the guy.

What did he do on Friday at the Memorial that caused a stir? He decided to go for the par-4 14th, not a crazy move for a guy that bombs it as long as anyone on tour. Why did he? Because he missed the 13th fairway. Yep.

Here goes.

“I have never gone an entire round hitting every fairway,” Mickelson said, “and I hit every fairway through 11, 12 holes.
“When I missed it on 13, I thought I’d hit driver on 14 because it didn’t matter. If I had hit that fairway on 13, I would have hit iron on 14.

“I know it sounds crazy, but that’s the way I was thinking.”

You've heard the term over-thinking, right? Well, this is it at its absolute best. The guy is mentally keeping track of how many fairways he had hit on the day, and if he had somehow found the 13th, he would have laid up on the 14th just to keep his fairway streak alive.

How can you not love someone this insane?

Scott Halleran, Getty Images

Friday, June 4, 2010

Okay, So This is Pretty Solid

I'll admit something, and I'm actually quite proud of it; I haven't owned a gaming device since the Nintendo 64. I've played the Wii a total of two times, both at my ex-girlfriends house, and that was at least a year and change ago. Video games never have interested me that much (I'd rather be outside, doing man things! Chest bump!).

That said, some of the EA Sports promotions for the new Tiger Woods game are awesome. This one, including Rickie Fowler, especially made me chuckle. Curling!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Memorial Skins Game Looked Fun

These two pictures are from Wednesday's Memorial Skins Game. The top one is of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, and looks like someone took it with their alien camera.

The second is Phil Mickelson looking as creepy as ever. Tiger and Phil were the big winners of the skins game, but honestly, you're probably the biggest winner because you get to view both these photos. Pat yourself on the back, friend.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Padraig Harrington Tests His Pee ... Daily

Yep. That headline isn't some sort of joke. Padraig Harrington, winner of three major championships and best accent on tour, has decided to take his physical fitness to a completely different level. Paddy is now testing his urine every morning with a thing called a refractometer.

What the hell is a refractometer? Well, basically it is a device that you place a droplet of your urine on, and then submit that back to a lab. Padraig is doing that every morning to check and make sure his is properly hydrated, or something.

Honestly, I'm not a doctor (shocker!), so here is what the report says.

Every day, Harrington will use a hand-held refractometer to determine if he is properly hydrated. He simply places a drop of urine on the prism and forwards the results to his health and fitness specialist Dr Liam Hennessy for analysis.

On the 15 to 20 weeks per year that Dr Hennessy travels with the Irishman to tournaments, the medic himself will conduct daily blood, urine and stress testing on Harrington to ensure he is in peak physical condition, especially going into that crunch time at tournaments -- Sunday afternoon.

I know that as an athlete you want any edge possible, but sending droplets of your piss to a doctor thousands of miles away to make sure you have enough water in your system seems a bit much. This is coming from a guy that won three majors when he wasn't submitting pee samples to anyone, and has struggled in clutch situations the last year and a half (I blame his pee).

The good news? At least he isn't going Moises Alou on us all and washing his hands with the remaining pee. I'm sure at some point a golfer will do this and quote "better feel" to the urine cleansing.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Another Reason Why the AJGA Might be the Best Run Golf Organization in the World

If you haven't had a chance to read Damon Hack's column on the AJGA, get with the program. Hack focused his column on the Thunderbird, an event in Arizona that hosts many of the best junior golfers in the world. It is one of the AJGA "majors," and is as important a win as something like the U.S. Amateur.

The column gives a pretty good illustration to those that don't know much about the American Junior Golf Association, the PGA Tour of junior golf.

See, if you are a decent junior golf, the AJGA are four letters that are more important than As, Bs, Cs or Ds on a report card. Just to get in events is nearly impossible, and once you do, you better make some waves. The towels from events are strung over any junior golfer's golf clubs, and hats are shirts are worn like prizes.

The events are always as polished as anything you'd see on the PGA Tour, and playing in a final round has the pressures of mini tour golfers trying to make a check.

I was lucky enough to get an invite back in my day to my first AJGA event in Abilene, Texas. I was one of the fortunate (read: lucky as hell) ones that played well enough in my first event to get some invites into other events throughout the rest of my high school career, and being able to show yourself on that type of stage is really the only way you'll ever be exposed to high school coaches.

This was probably my favorite line from the Hack piece, and it shows just what is going on with our young golfers these days.

"It's the number one thing in my life right now — I'd probably put it ahead of school," says Anthony Paolucci, 17, from Del Mar, Calif., who led after each of the first two rounds with scores of 66 and 69. (Editor's note: Paolucci closed with a 69 to win the event by three shots.) "After school, I go practice. I work out three or four times a week. I have a physical therapist for deep-tissue massaging, and I have a chiropractor. You don't want to have an injury when you're 22, as much as we practice these days. I have a whole team working."

Go over to and read it. I think you'll enjoy hearing how intense junior golf really is these days.

A Year Ago at the Memorial

In 2009, Tiger Woods was still golf's shining star, a man returning from a knee injury but once again on top of the game. Nothing showed this more than the Memorial Skins Game, that included Tiger, Kenny Perry, Stewart Cink and host Jack Nicklaus.

The above video shows it all, but I figured it would be worth transcribing exactly what happened. Tiger needed to make a clutch 15-footer to save par on the 18th hole, and of course rolled it in only to have Kenny laugh and exclaim, "You always make it." This was true. Up until that point, Tiger had never really missed a putt of any importance. That would all change later in the year, at the PGA Championship, when Woods missed a huge par save on the 17th hole to give Y.E. Yang a huge cushion heading into the 18th hole, which he would birdie and bump Tiger from his "never losing a 54-hole lead in a major" pedestal.

But, back to the skins game. The result of his par putt forced a chip off between the players. Tiger stood over his ball in rainy conditions, scooped at his wedge shot and waiting as Jack let him know that the shot looked good. It was good. Good enough to drop in the cup, and lead to that "f*** I'm good, and I know it" grin and laugh we've seen too many times from Tiger.

This year is obviously different. Tiger is limping in, figuratively and emotionally, and who knows how the man that has won this event four times (including 2009) will fare. For the first time in Tiger's career, the pick on how he will finish extends past "well, top-5 or a win." He might miss the cut. He might withdraw. He might win.

We don't know. The good thing is, we have the Internet, and it gives us video like the one above, of the better days for Tiger and for us. Things seemed simpler then. Hopefully we can get back to that point sooner than later.