Thursday, June 30, 2011

Kid Knocks Out Two Rare Feats in One Swing

When you're playing match play, like both genders are this week at Bandon Dunes for the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, you'll take any luck possible.

But what about an ace and a double-eagle on the same swing? That happened to UNLV's Derek Ernst, who knocked in his tee shot on the par-4 8th hole at Bandon Trails, the third course built at Bandon Dunes, on Wednesday from 299-yards.

Ryan Ferguson of Golf World has the details ...

"I was thinking there's no way it went over the green," Ernst said. "There were two marshals on the side of the green and one guy ran out and put his hands in the air. That's when I knew it was in."

The double eagle was the first on a par 4 in the APL since the USGA began tracking such stats in 1982. It is just the third double eagle ever recorded at the APL.

Now you might scoff at the fact that this hole didn't play 300-yards, but I've played Bandon Trails, and this just one of the many holes out there that make it my favorite track of all the Bandon golf courses. It might be short, but there are bunkers everywhere, and Ernst actually thought he'd pulled his tee shot into the right bunker before getting a favorable kick. Also, the green has more levels than a Home Depot, so it isn't exactly your typical walk in the park.

But very cool for Ernst during a huge event. His hole-in-albatross gave him a boost and allowed him to win his match in 19 holes. I don't hate him nearly as much as most people that write a "1" down on their scorecard, just because I've made a double-eagle before, and if I'm lucky enough to do that, I'm sure anyone is.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Thoughts On All These Lightning-In-A-Bottle Stories

One of my favorite golf books I've ever read was Tom Coyne's "Paper Tiger." It is a beautiful and brilliant storyline of an above-average golfer taking a year off to pursue every golfer's dream of becoming a professional golfer. If the cover doesn't clue you in to how it went, I'll spoil it for you; not great.

Why I loved that book so much is because so many people think they can become professionals at this sport. Golf, more than anything else, triggers something in men that makes them think they have the goods to play this game at an elite level. Maybe it's the fact that there isn't a genetic barrier limiting the average male from making it. While J.J. Barea was slicing and dicing his way to a NBA Championship, 99.9 percent of the people playing professional basketball are taller and faster than all of us sitting at home watching. And the day I walked next to Brian Dawkins in the tunnel at University of Phoenix Stadium before the 2009 NFC Championship told me that as much as I work at perfecting my own body, those NFL guys are in a completely different world physically than I could ever be.

But golf is different. If I had a dollar for every time a wife sitting next to me on an airplane told me her husband was thinking about joining the Champions Tour when he turned 50, I sure as hell wouldn't be wasting my days writing on this blog for pennies.

So that brings up something I got sent yesterday by a reader/friend of mine. It's a new blog that popped up cleverly named "The Underdog Golf Blog," and it's a story about a 28-year-old guy that can't break 100 but wants to play in the 2014 U.S. Open. If it sounds familiar, that's probably because it is. Dan McLaughlin, a man who has become an online friend of mine and even stopped by as a guest on the Devil Ball podcast with myself and Jay Busbee, is spending hundreds of hours trying to perfect his game and become a professional.

It's just ... this game isn't easy. Not even close. It's probably the hardest sport to be great at in the world. An athletic guy might be able to smoke a running forehand down the line in a tight match because nothing is going through his head when he's doing it. He's just running and trying to hit the ball back and if he can get the racket on that ball with the right amount of force, it doesn't really matter the situation. Now, am I saying tennis is easy? Of course not, watching the Federers and Nadals of the world is one of the most beautiful athletic theater in sports. But in golf, you aren't just battling yourself, or the golf course, or the other players; you're battling the time between shots, and the thoughts that go through your mind.

And you're also trying to beat people that have done this for 10 hours a day, six days a week, since they were 8-years-old. I had beers with a good buddy of mine (A reader here!) on Friday, and we were joking about old men thinking they can make the Champions Tour. He made an excellent point; you, hopeful professional golfer, have a full-time job and play on the weekends. These guys have a full-time job that is playing golf all the time.

I don't mind people's dreams. You have to strive to be something. I still have moments where I think I have the game to play at the next level, even if my talent says otherwise. I had a good buddy write on my sister's Facebook wall, after she posted a picture of us two at the U.S. Open, "your brother shouldn't be covering that event, he should be playing in it," and it's moments like those that give me a little extra push to be better than I am. But I also understand what it takes to get there. You're playing against people that already have an arm, a leg and a short game up on you and you have to not only become equals with them, you have to beat them, and beat them a lot.

I'll just simply say this; dream as big as you want, and I hope guys like Patrick Alcoke and Dan end up making it. I think it would be an incredible story and it would further make golf the best sport in the world. But also do it a little like Tom Coyne did it. Expect brilliance, but don't be disappointed if it doesn't happen. There are a TON of brilliant golfers that have never even sniffed the fairways of a Nationwide Tour event, much less the pinnacle of stages. There are men that break 67 every single time they tee it up, but their games don't travel. There are men in every golf store and pro shop around the world that, at one point or another, have broke 63, and could probably do it again if they went and hit balls for 30 minutes. So just make sure you're approaching all of this with a part of your mind on the history of this game. Tiger Woods didn't get to be where he is because he just was good. He became good. He worked to be great. He spent YEARS on the range and practice greens perfecting the simplest of pitches, and the hardest of flops. He worked tirelessly at hitting his driver in the fairway. He would make putts in his sleep, and I'm talking about his literal sleep.

Becoming great isn't something that you have to work at. It's something that you can only work at. Good luck.

This Is Not a Joke - Tiger Woods to Pimp Japanese Pain Relief Lotion

For the first time since November of 2009, when Tiger Woods hit a fire hydrant and then starting losing sponsorships faster than Phil Mickelson does U.S. Open leads, there will be a new sponsor added to Tiger's list.

The strange part? It isn't Lexus or TaylorMade or Coca-Cola. It's for a Japanese-based pain relief lotion called Antiphlogistic Analgetic Vantelin Kowa series. Try sticking that whole thing on the side of a hat.

"Kowa Company Ltd. is pleased to announce the use of Tiger Woods as the image character of Antiphlogistic Analgetic Vantelin Kowa series," the Nagoya-based company said in a press release.

The TV commercial with Woods will debut nationally in Japan from mid-July.

It sure seems like a strange time for Woods to be the man behind something to help get ride of a pain, since that's exactly why he hasn't been playing golf since the Players Championship in May, and will most likely miss the British Open, his second major in a row, because of knee and Achilles problems.

But I guess when you haven't shaved in ages and are just sitting around waiting to get better, you'll sign any deal possible.

While companies in the United States sure doesn't seem to be tossing the right offers Tiger's way, it seems more likely that this will becoming more of a trend, since he is a global icon and nobody in the U.S. will ever see these on their television during the final round at Firestone.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tiger Woods Tossed All Gillette Products Out Window, Going With the Beard

You all remember that infamous Gillette commercial with Tiger Woods, Derek Jeter and Roger Federer? Well, of course you do, it goes down as one of the biggest "dorks trying to act like cool guys" moments in the history of celebritianism.

I guess since Tiger and Gillette parted ways, he's decided facial hair is in, and smooth sailing is out (I gotta admit, I also agree by that theory, but mostly because shaving sucks).

Tiger spoke at his press conference on Tuesday at his tournament, the AT&T National, and rocked a full beard, the first time I've ever seen him do this. Sure, he's gone goatee, and I even remember him frosting his tips for a National Championship game a few years back (side note: please don't ever frost your tips. Ever. It's the "girl's belly-button ring" of male looks.), but the full beard is a first.

I honestly think he looks a little like a villain, but then again, maybe that's what he's going for. Maybe with all the chatter about Rory McIlroy being the next in line to take over the game, Tiger's decided to look a little darker and go all LeBron on us. If he does that, good for him. Maybe a change of look is in the cards for Mr. Woods.

What are your thoughts on the beard?

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Martin Kaymer Gets in the Viral Video Fun

Like it or hate it, viral videos do at least one thing for everyone involved; they make us click play every. single. time.

The latest is a group of five videos from PGA Championship winner Martin Kaymer, and they're entertaining and cool, if nothing else.

Also, I heard they were all 100 percent real, and they all took less than four takes. Yep, that's true. Promise.

Rory McIlroy Went to Wimbledon

You know what winning the U.S. Open gets you? Access. Major, major access.

This has been seen in a lot of spots for Rory McIlroy, but none more than his snazzy seats at Wimbledon on Tuesday, where it appears he tried to get his hair just the perfect color wet. Also, he got to spend some time with Andy Murray and John McEnroe.

McEnroe probably spent most of the time telling McIlroy how he could have won at Congressional by 16 shots, not just eight.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Yani Tseng Is The Next Tiger Woods

We're always searching for that next-something. We want the next Tiger Woods or the next Michael Jordan or even the next Peyton Manning. The problem is, it's easy for us to forget about the other gender when making these comparisons.

But Yani Tseng is it. She's the golfer that is taking over as the next dominant figure in the sport. Her win on Sunday at the LPGA Championship, by 10 shots, is exactly what the golf, and the LPGA, needs.

The problem is, most golf fans won't care. They'll say they can't relate to Tseng, a 22-year-old from Taiwan, even though she carries incredible game and an even better smile and the ability to dominate a sport that is usually dominated by someone. We've had Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa and Ai Miyazato, but none did in the majors what Tseng has been able to do.

Yani has played in 15 career majors and won four of them, putting together a better percentage in the four big events (26.7 percent) than Tiger did in his first 17 majors (8.5 winning percentage). And the thing is, she's done it in all fashions. Her first major, the '08 LPGA Championship, Tseng had to do it in a playoff. Her next two were one shot victories, and then came the blitzing of the field last weekend.

We can love Rory McIlroy all we want, and hope the best from Ryo Ishikawa, but if we're looking for a Tiger replacement, I think teh girl in the picture above is going to do just fine.

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What the Hell Is Going On?!?!

I guess golfers have just decided not to practice anymore. "Ahh, the hell with it, who wants to make a music video?"

After four PGA Tour stars came out with a music video that still gives me nightmares (my girlfriend said on Sunday during one of Hunter Mahan's Ping commercials, "I can only picture him in that fur jacket now when I see his face"), the players of the Ladies European Tour came out with a match to it.

The video is below. It is what you'd expect. It only brings up this question -- how easy is it these days to make and produce one of these things? Can you just put out a request on Twitter and have it created by lunchtime?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Australian Golf Tournaments Seem Fun

Most scrambles or corporate tournaments are lengthy, time-sucking rounds that leave you regretting taking up this stupid game. Sure, you have a few chuckles, and maybe a beer or two, but when it's over, you're glad you're back at the office.

That is, unless you live in Australia. If you live in Australia, that corporate golf event might just turn into a trip to Spearmint Rhino.

GUESTS at a corporate golf day say they were were "violated" by two female promotional models when they were "groped on the knackers" and "had (their) faces pushed on to the girls' breasts" at a Darwin golf course last week.

"The girls were walking around opening up their bras and letting anyone see and feel their breasts.
"One of them flashed and then pushed her breasts right up against me."

Another offended source told Confidential: "When guys went to tee off the girls stood behind them and humped them. One girl threaded a frangipani through her nipple ring and said 'take this'. I was extremely uncomfortable.

But it didn't end there. A third source said: "I went to get a beer from the esky and one of the girls jumped into the esky, bent over in my face, passed the beer through her legs and said 'I've got a wedgie ... Oh I gave that to myself'.

Umm, well ... hum. I don't really know what to say here. "I've got a wedgie ... Oh, I gave that to myself"? I'm more insulted by the ridiculously cheesy "joke" than I am that some girl rubbed a perfectly good beer by her obviously not-so-clean female region.

Also, what the hell, Australia? You guys live in a cool place with awesome weather and really pretty people, and you go and throw this in our face (literally, it seems)? If that happened in America, I promise it wouldn't be the golfers that were complaining.

A Little Something For The Ladies

Ladies, if you've ever fantasized about Dustin Johnson knocking on your door one Saturday night dressed in a full German outfit (And honestly, who hasn't?), you're in luck, because that's what we have here.

Johnson, playing the BMW Championship, put all of that on, and well, that's about the end of this story. Is it just me or does that cow look a little too interested?

h/t PGT

Friday, June 24, 2011

A 19-Year-Old Amateur is Leading the Travelers Championship

During the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college, here are the things I remember me doing, in no particular order:

-- Messing up the middle of my sister's wedding because the planner never really explained to us what was going on and I mistakingly took the cue for the unity candle to mean exit, stage left, and did so before my sister, the bride, had to correct me in front of an entire church full of family and friends.

-- Shaving.

-- Perfecting the art of hanging around your hometown for no particular reason with your friends, who also have no reason to be there.

-- Drinking.

Not really the same can be said for Patrick Cantlay, who at age 19, has spent his summer making professional golf his new hobby. Last week at Congressional, Cantlay cruised to a tie for 21st and low amateur honors, and decided to follow that up with two rounds at the Travelers Championship that have him leading by four shots. Oh, and the second round was a 10-under 60. No big deal.

The UCLA product is obviously extremely talented, but is this just a guy catching fire for a couple of weeks or more reason to really believe that youth is now taking over the men's side of things in golf? We've seen what Manassero has done over in Europe, but we haven't really seen an American take charge like this until now.

Can Cantlay win? Probably not. He's 19 and will now be sleeping on the lead with names like Webb Simpson, D.J. Trahan and Bubba Watson chasing him, but if he did, it really would put the youth movement in America on the map.

Oh, and if you have any shaving questions Patrick, just fire 'em my way.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

It Is Literally Raining Everywhere in the World

Now I'm no meteorologist, so don't quote me on this, but I'm pretty sure it's raining in every city in the world this Thursday. Don't believe me? Look at these pictures!

Heck, I even heard from someone that Wimbledon was dealing with weather issues.

Hey rain, lock it up.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How Young is Rory McIlroy? Well, He Still Wears Abercrombie

I remember those Abercrombie & Fitch days. They were back when chin pubs pubes were just a myth, and getting laid was something we'd only heard about from the random "Playboys" we'd steal from our cousins. It was back when the word "prom" meant way more than the word "raise," and a 401k sounded like some sort of track and field event.

But as we continue to praise Rory McIlroy for what he did those four days at Congressional, we sometimes forget that he is still 22.

That's why the above picture cracked me up. The kid may have a golf swing other pros are envious of, and the maturity that trumps most politicians, but he still wears Abercrombie. A young kid, but a kid nonetheless.

Someone Finally Settled the Rory-Tiger Debate; Rory Himself

Thank you, Rory McIlroy. Thank you from the bottom of my mini heart. Thank you for speaking up just a few days after you won a U.S. Open by a landslide. Thank you for taking some time out of your well-earned vacation to say exactly what a lot of us are thinking (or have already said).

You were great at Congressional. Incredible. Historic. Phenomenal. It was a beauty to watch, right down to your two-putt on the 18th green from what looked like Georgetown. It was exactly what golf needed. But it was no Tiger Woods in 2000.

Here is what McIlroy said on the Dan Patrick Show.

“I don’t think it’s as impressive,” McIlroy said. “Tiger was the only person under par that week. The golf course was score-able. What Tiger did at Pebble to win by 15 shots, it was ridiculous.”

Yes, it was ridiculous. The guy played a golf course double-digits under par when nobody else in the field finished under par. That is a feat that will take decades to match, but the thing we all must understand, is that's fine. This doesn't have to be "Tiger at Pebble." This can simply be "Rory at Congressional" and we can be done with it. He played great golf at the age of 22 and won his first major championship just around the time we thought he might. He blew the field out of the water, and on a golf course that, unfortunately, was rained on and played a little easier than expected, McIlroy still won by eight shots.

And one more thing ... can we end this "Congressional was a cake walk" BS? Phil Mickelson broke par once in four rounds, as did the number one player in the world. Big names like Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan, Stewart Cink and Nick Watney failed to make the cut that was set at 4-over. It wasn't exactly as easy as it might have seemed, even if we are continuously told otherwise.

It was still the U.S. Open, and you still have to play some monster golf holes well to win. Rory did that, and while it wasn't Tiger at Pebble, it was still great theater, and he deserves all the credit.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rory McIlroy's Sports Illustrated Cover Puts Him in Rare Air

You have to love the image above of Rory McIlroy, making probably the best swing of his entire week on Sunday, when he nearly made an ace on the par-3 10th.

He joins pretty solid company of similar golf covers, as we see below with Tiger Woods and Ben Hogan. Thanks to the SI people for the images.

Shocker! Rory McIlroy Was Talented as a 9-Year-Old

For more golf fun and games, follow us on Twitter at @shanebacon.

There is a lot to love about this video of Rory McIlroy as a 9-year-old.

-- That he was decked out in Tiger Woods gear, all the way to those hideous, HIDEOUS first shoes Nike came out with back in the late '90s.

-- That he said Darren Clarke was his favorite golfer. TAKE THAT, GRAEME MCDOWELL! (Note: I think at this point in his career, McDowell was stocking groceries in between pints of Guinness).

-- That he was noticeably upset when he didn't hole that first one.

-- The smile after he finally made one. Kid looked happier than on 18 at Congressional.

Also, side note, McIlroy was 9-years-old in 1999?!?!? Man, just thinking about that made my back hurt. And reminded me I need to take my vitamins. Thanks a lot, Rory.

via Devil ball via Sportress of Blogitude

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rory McIlroy's Dad is Pretty Awesome

You had to love all the shots of Rory McIlroy's dad on Sunday at Congressional, walking around the golf course with a big smile on his face as his son was putting the finishing touches on an incredible U.S. Open win.

This is a father that is said to have taken three jobs at a time to help support Rory's golf career when he was a youngster, but great news about his father, Gerry; turns out, the dude loves to gamble ... on his own son!

Yep, according to the Belfast Telegraph (who doesn't read this on a daily basis?), Gerry bet £100 on his son winning the British Open before he turns 25 at 500/1 odds, and with the way Rory is playing, he might just get his £50,000 in the next couple of years.

The bet placed by McIlroy's father, a former barman at Holywood Golf Club, was similar but specifically on him winning the UK's Open Championship before his 25th birthday.

He and friends put £100 each into a kitty and also got odds of 500/1.

Mr McIlroy stands to win £50,000 if his son lifts the famous Claret Jug in.

Awesome. A dude that bets and used to tend bar. I walked right next to Gerry at Congressional for a little on Saturday (and by walked, I mean Rascal'd), and he seems like a legit dude.

Oh, and Gerry ... I need a new bookie. Got any ideas?

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The Fun of a First Major

Thanks to the great people at Lexus (hey, go buy a Lexus ... heck, buy two!) for the entire weekend, we will be at out Congressional posting and tweeting from the U.S. Open. Swing by and check out what we have to offer and follow us on Twitter at @shanebacon.

I don’t think I’d ever say covering my first major championship was “fun.” It was exciting. Thrilling. History-making. Similar to Rick Reilly’s first assignment for Sports Illustrated when he had the 1986 Masters handed to him in a silver platter, getting the brilliance of Rory McIlroy and the history he made at Congressional makes writing easy, but it sure doesn’t make things easy. Things are tough. Majors are tough.

Maybe it’s because all the luminaries are there. The people you want to be are sitting on a computer trying to come up with the same hilarious analogy you are, or suggesting the same punny headline that popped in your head. If Twitter has made us realize anything, it’s there are a ton of funny people out there that will never be discovered, and working a huge tournament like the U.S. Open makes you realize that there is grip of writers all pounding away for paychecks, posting for popularity.

McIlroy made it fun though. The kid is great. His demeanor on the golf course was miles more confident than what he showed at Augusta National just a couple of months ago, and his talent is unquestionable. He made a golf course that his fellow countryman and best buddy said might not yield an under-par winner look like the Bob Hope Classic from the member’s tees, but for some (and according to ratings, those “some” are the hardcore golf fans that love history and don’t care that a certain someone isn’t in the field), it’s beautiful to see someone come into their own.

To me, McIlroy winning that major championship was like a parent watching his troubled kid finally walk across that high school graduation stage. Diploma in hand, a smile that a broken smart phone couldn’t kill, and knowledge that he was able to finally accomplish something, the kid looks out and sees his proud father, tearing up, understanding that pride had a secret compartment that he luckily just found. McIlroy was that golfer. He has made mistakes on the golf course, and failed in historic fashion, but at just 22, you knew he could bounce back because everyone in the game of golf has told us he’s the “next big thing.”

I’ve always been scared to pin people “next” (or neXt as ESPN the Mag used to say), because we never really know. We thought Ty Tryon was next years ago, and we labeled Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose the successor to Tiger when they showed signs in majors at young ages. But to be next, you have to actually complete something, and to me, that’s what Rory did.

He had a goal, he set out to prove it, and he did, in fantastic fashion.

Not a lot of athletes are able to accomplish what Rory did. I can’t help but think back to the most controversial athlete in sports right now, LeBron James, and what he could have proved if the Miami Heat had been able to take down the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals. People wouldn’t have questioned their decision or LeBron’s clutchness anymore. “Greatness courts failure, Romeo,” is a fantastic line from “Tin Cup,” but to do it, you have, in Roy McAvoy parlance, be great. LeBron couldn’t find that gear. McIlroy could.

Much will be said about his play over the next few days. He will be compared to everybody that has ever done anything good in golf. Hogan, Snead, Palmer, Nicklaus, and of course, Woods. We will see columns (as we already have) about Tiger’s run at Nicklaus’ 18 majors, a notion that is as ludicrous as it is ignorant. McIlroy now has as many majors as Michael Campbell and Steve Jones, and is one back of John Daly and Retief Goosen, so predicting his major count is as premature as some of McIlroy’s chin pubs. He will be great, yes, but we have no idea how great. That’s why this is so much fun. It allows us the ability to wonder without predictions. We can guess at his future but we have no idea. Who knows when the next Escalade situation will change the game of golf?

I loved being at Congressional for the buzz and the cheers. I loved seeing fans high five when McIlroy’s shot into the 10th hole on Sunday nearly went in for an ace. I loved seeing fathers with their sons and daughters on their day, soaking in a tournament that people hope to get to once in their life. I loved that CEOs and presidents of companies were enjoying cocktails and nachos and didn’t really care that their Blackberrys were somewhere in their car, buzzing away as the birds chirped around those beautiful 18 holes.

And I didn’t even care that my left foot has been in this frustrating walking boot. Like sometimes gives you adversity in hopes you can overcome it, and giving the fact that my crutches didn’t exactly pave my way to the next hole, I had to find other ways to report and find clips. I sat in the grandstands. I talked to fans. I watched in the Lexus tent with people that have shot their age and fans that couldn’t pick out a 5-iron in a box of Louisville Sluggers. And most of all, I got to experience the U.S. Open with my wonderful sister, who has spent as many times behind a golf ball as I have at world number one, but felt the electricity and watched as much golf as possible.

Her birthday was Friday, and heading out to her first ever professional golf event, you could see that she was just as happy to be there as I was.

I hope I get to go to more majors over the next few years. Check out this event or fly to this course and really see what the crowds are feeling. I loved standing next to the college boys on Saturday that started the “Let’s go, Ro-ry!” chant, only to have the 22-year-old smile sheepishly at the boys his same age as he charted up the 15th fairway, on his way to history.

The chants will continue. We just don’t know when.

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Tiger Woods Predicted This McIlroy Thing, Ya Know

Digging through some archives, I found this little nugget from all the way back in March of 2009, and I thought I'd share it. This is Tiger Woods speaking on Rory McIlroy.

Here goes ...

"There's no doubt," Woods said. "But hopefully it's not while I'm around," he added, laughing. "Certainly he has the talent. We can all see it. The way he hits the ball, the way he putts, the way he can chip, and get up-and-down. He has the composure and all the components to be the best player in the world. It's just a matter of time and experience and then gaining that experience in big events. That just takes time and, I mean, geez, he's only 19. Just give him some time and I'm sure he'll be there."

I hate to tell Tiger this, but it seems McIlroy is there during your time, and sadly, you are not.

Still, cool to see him say this more than two years ago, and now with it rolling out, getting to watch what others say about him now.

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Henrik Stenson Did Not Like That Shot

A word of advice -- if you're going to snap a golf club, don't hurt yourself! Just don't. Toss it against your bag, throw it in the woods, or just simply drop it into the lake, but if you snap it, and it cuts your finger, you're an idiot.

*Ding ding ding*

Oh, that's Henrik Stenson music.

At least the dude cut his finger, and not something else, which could easily happen as must as he strips down on the golf course.


Thanks to the great people at Lexus (hey, go buy a Lexus ... heck, buy two!) for the entire weekend, we will be at out Congressional posting and tweeting from the U.S. Open. Swing by and check out what we have to offer and follow us on Twitter at @shanebacon.

BETHESDA, Md. -- At no point on Sunday did you think this tournament was in question. None. From the first tee, when Rory McIlroy smashed his three-wood well past the driver of Y.E. Yang, only to find it in the middle of the divot. His approach shot that spun just short of the hole, and the inevitable birdie putt that dropped that showed he wasn't letting off the gas until this thing was well in the bag, McIlroy was champion here on Friday, but had to finish it off on Sunday and did so in complete style.

I think my favorite mini-story of the success of McIlroy just one major after his collapse at Augusta National was his tee shot on the 10th hole on Sunday, that same swing hole that caused him to fall apart at the Masters. There, he snapped his driver nearly out of play, into a section of the famous golf course that most fans had never seen before on television. Here, he hit a tee shot that nearly went in for an ace (I was right there to watch it), and had the crowd understanding that this man didn't understand the words "play it safe."

It's fun when someone does what McIlroy did in sports. We got to see a glimpse of this with Dirk Dirk Nowitzki in the NBA playoffs, and Tim Thomas in net for the Bruins, but what Rory did made little sense. He turned what was, and is, an exceptional U.S. Open venue into a virtual pitch and putt, and showed that all the hype is warranted, and his future is as exciting as his constant club-twirl.

I wll have more on my experience at the U.S. Open later today, and throughout the rest of the week, but as one observer of Rory's, I have to say, damn this kid is good.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Quick 'Happy Father's Day' To My Pops

I just wanted to send out a quick message and say Happy Father's Day to my dad. If it wasn't for my father, I would have never got into this game. I played baseball and football and basketball, and loved them all. I saw his passion for this game of golf but I could never see myself getting that into it. I was more into being active and thought golf was reserved for those that couldn't hit a curveball or bury a three.

When I first starting playing, my dad say some talent in me. He wanted me to be great. He pushed me and pushed me some more and made me try harder than I ever would have without him around.

I loved playing well because I was trying to prove that I was as good as he thought I was.

These days, my favorite rounds are with my pops. It doesn't happen as much as I wish it would, but when I get 18 holes out with him, I'm excited for weeks. It isn't really as much about the golf, but as busy as my dad is with work, and as much as he hates sitting around and just chatting about things, the golf course is a perfect place for us to spend a few hours just being us.

So to Monte, and all the dads out there, Happy Father's Day. You guys mean a lot more to us than we sometimes give off, and life is way better with you around, pushing us, praising us, and just making our lives better each day.

We love y'all.

NBC Avoids The Man Upstairs in Pledge of Allegiance

What's a major championship without some controversy? No, it's not BunkerGate, but maybe we can call it PledgeO'AllegianceGate?

During NBC's introduction of their Sunday U.S. Open coverage, they had little kids reading the American pledge, but they left out the "under God" part. What is this, Rwanda?!?!

No comment coming yet, but if you want to see a lot of people pissed off on Father's Day, check out this Google search of reactions on Twitter. Not even Sean O'Hair's dad gets so pissed during this holiday.

More to come of this, I'M SURE, but for now, yell "Under God" at anyone you see so it makes up for their omission. Here's hoping someone at Fox News blames Obama playing golf yesterday for this.

What Would a Collapse Mean for McIlroy?

Thanks to the great people at Lexus (hey, go buy a Lexus ... heck, buy two!) for the entire weekend, we will be at out Congressional posting and tweeting from the U.S. Open. Swing by and check out what we have to offer and follow us on Twitter at @shanebacon.

BETHESDA, Md. -- Everyone that has ever watched major championship golf, or seen Rory McIlroy swing a golf club thinks the 22-year-old is a lock to win the U.S. Open this Sunday at Congressional. All week he's been playing slow pitch while everyone else has been trying to hit a Josh Beckett fastball, and McIlroy is now 18 holes away from his first major with an eight shot lead.

I hope he wins. You hope he wins. Everyone besides his ex-girlfriends are probably rooting for the boy wonder right now.

But ... what if he doesn't? What if he collapsed for the second major in a row just outside Washington D.C. and didn't pull it off? What would happen then?

I hate to say things are career-threatening, because you just never know how people will respond, but I think the best analogy for situations like this is when rookies make it to the Super Bowl. Sure, they are all fired up to get there, and probably enjoy the madness of the weeks heading up to it more than someone that has been in the league for 10 years or so, but when the game begins, they're out to play football. Win or lose, a young guy making the big game during his first year probably thinks he will be there a dozen more times. It's how they think about these things because they've yet to be proven otherwise. So far, they're one-for-one.

Right now, McIlroy has been absolutely dominant in the majors. He's shared the lead in the last four majors at one point over the 72 holes, and while this one is a lot different than Augusta two months ago, it's still much of the same. He's still holding a mighty lead after playing some beautiful golf for 54 holes, and just like the Masters, he's been forced to sleep on this lead every night.

I think if McIlroy lost this Sunday, it would take him a long time before he could get himself going in a major again. He'd head to the British Open and anytime he got in contention, or heaven forbid leading, these feelings would creep back in. His drive off the 10th at the Masters. Whatever moment caused his train to wreck at Congressional.

McIlroy is supposed to win multiple major championships. He was born to. That's his destiny. And I really hope he wins today because that will make the youth movement on the PGA Tour actually start moving. Someone was eventually going to breakthrough, and there is no better player to do so than Rory.

But if he lost ... if he couldn't pull this out, we'd really have something to worry about. For Rory's sake, let's just hope this post is just words in a few hours, and not something to look back on as prophecy.

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Saturday, June 18, 2011


This picture was found, thankfully, by Washington Post's Barry Svrluga from 1997, the last time the U.S. Open was at Congressional, and it's amazing.

Sadly, it seems the Post left out "Will get beat by a guy named Yang."

Friday, June 17, 2011


Thanks to the great people at Lexus (hey, go buy a Lexus ... heck, buy two!) for the entire weekend, we will be at out Congressional posting and tweeting from the U.S. Open. Swing by and check out what we have to offer and follow us on Twitter at @shanebacon.

Folks, give me a second ... just one. Hold on.


Okay, whew. That felt better. It has been two delayed flights, a lost courtesy driver, a 3 AM arrival at the airport, three wrong turns to Congressional and crutching for about a mile to get to where I have internet access at the wonderful U.S. Open, but I'm here.

(Honestly, traveling is overrated. I've got an idea for travel in the future; just knock me out until we get there. I don't care how bad it hurts. I'm fine with it.)

My first reactions about Congressional is the fairways look as nice as most greens I've putted on, and everyone here seems pretty excited to be watching one of the best examples of golf we've ever seen in this tournament.

I'll be updating as the week goes on, but just thought I'd toss this out early.

And while we're here, Rory at Congressional through 36 or Tiger at Pebble through 36? Go!

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

And Your Lasting U.S. Open Pre-Tournament Image ...

... which includes Adam Scott and Steve Williams, the longtime caddie of Tiger Woods who will be watching this event from the same place you will be watching it from, his couch.

It really is crazy to see Williams with another golfer. The idea has brought up a lot of questions, but for now, Stevie and Scotty will be trying to win a major without Tiger around.

And also? That's the last time I'll mention Tiger this week in the sense of absence. Maybe I'll compare something to him, or bring up his name for example purposes only, but he is not a part of this event, and I'll stay away from him and stick to the golf that's being played. These guys in the tournament deserve it.

Sleep well, folks. Golf coverage for days starts tomorrow.

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The Beauty of a Major Championship

I must admit something; there are few things in life I love more than the Masters. Like a lot of golf fans, it is the best week of the year for me, seven days of tradition, goosebumps and a color green that someone only pops when shown from those rolling Augusta National fairways and greens.

The Masters is a lot like the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament; you're so excited you can barely sleep before it kicks off, and when it finally wraps up, the rest of the games just don't carry the same excitement. I feel like the Masters is like waiting your whole life to sleep with that one special lady, and then deciding 45 minutes before your wedding to knock it out in the coat closet while the guests are still arriving. It's over, you still have so much more to look forward to, but the best part can never be revisited.

When the Masters ends, I get a little down. It takes a couple of weeks to think about golf the way you think about it those first three months of the season, but it eventually gets there. You have some random golf drugs to keep your feigning; the Players, the Memorial and even Quail Hollow. You enjoy the tradition behind the Colonial and Byron Nelson and for some reason the St. Jude is always more interesting than it should be.

But right around this time, with the second major of the year set to kick off in mere hours, those same feelings start kicking in. It's not as traditional (I wasn't alive to see Arnold Palmer drive the first hole at Cherry Hills in 1960 and have just heard (from the man himself) about that 63 at Oakmont in '73), but it does make golf interesting again.

And for some reason, this tournament feels different. In a good way. I wrote earlier this week about what we should feel about a major without that Tiger Woods character, because like it or not, he has changed the way we look at majors (remember when winning two was a huge deal? Now if you don't win two in one season people scoff it off like you're Steve Jones). Tiger is major championship golf, and without him, the golf tournament is completely wide open. And that's a good thing. A very good thing.

Maybe some people aren't going to care as much because the Swooshed one isn't stalking over putts, but it gives this tournament a feel much like my initial analogy did at this year's March Madness; nobody had any f-ing idea who was going to win, and that was the beauty of it.

I love the majors. They're as exciting a sporting event, and for one time a year, the tour players feel what we feel. They're beaten up, they're embarrassed, and one lucky guy gets to walk away a champion even if it felt like he'd been 12 rounds with Pacquiao.

Tiger, we'll miss ya, but it isn't going to ruin our week. Now which Cinderella is ready to shock the world?

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U.S. Open Betting Odds, and Picks

As always, we bring you the U.S. Open odds for the 2011 U.S. Open, and my favorite picks in bold. Check 'em and enjoy them, and tell me who you like if you had to put your money on it.

Lee Westwood 11/1
Luke Donald 12/1
Phil Mickelson 14/1
Rory McIlroy 16/1
Martin Kaymer 25/1
Steve Stricker 25/1
Hunter Mahan 25/1
Matt Kuchar 25/1
Nick Watney 25/1
Dustin Johnson 25/1
K.J. Choi 28/1
Jason Day 40/1
Bubba Watson 40/1
Graeme McDowell 45/1
Retief Goosen 50/1
David Toms 50/1
Jim Furyk 50/1
Adam Scott 50/1
Padraig Harrington 50/1
Robert Karlsson 50/1
Ian Poulter 50/1
Charl Schwartzel 50/1
Brandt Snedeker 50/1
Paul Casey 66/1
Geoff Ogilvy 66/1
Matteo Manassero 66/1
Sergio Garcia 66/1
Justin Rose 66/1
Aaron Baddeley 66/1
Rickie Fowler 66/1
Lucas Glover 66/1
Francesco Molinari 66/1
Ernie Els 66/1
Angel Cabrera 66/1
Zach Johnson 66/1
Jonathan Byrd 80/1
Stewart Cink 80/1
Bill Haas 80/1
Ryan Moore 80/1
Alvaro Quiros 80/1
Gary Woodland 80/1
Camilo Villegas 80/1
Rory Sabbatini 100/1
Y-E Yang 100/1
Martin Laird 100/1
Webb Simpson 100/1
Robert Allenby 100/1
Anthony Kim 100/1
Louis Oosthuizen 125/1
Ryan Palmer 125/1
Edoardo Molinari 125/1
Ben Crane 125/1
Bo Van Pelt 125/1
Peter Hanson 125/1
Miguel Angel Jimenez 125/1
Jeff Overton 125/1
Trevor Immelman 125/1
Mark Wilson 125/1
Charley Hoffman 150/1
Davis Love III 150/1
Alexander Noren 150/1
Kevin Na 150/1
Seung-yul Noh 150/1
Chad Campbell 150/1
Johan Edfors 175/1
Brandt Jobe 175/1
D-A Points 175/1
Ryo Ishikawa 175/1
Anders Hansen 175/1
Shane Lowry 175/1
Kevin Streelman 175/1
Marc Leishman 175/1
Gregory Havret 175/1
Greg Chalmers 175/1
Nicolas Colsaerts 175/1
Chez Reavie 175/1
Harrison Frazar 200/1
Kyung-Tae Kim 200/1
Henrik Stenson 200/1
Stephen Gallacher 200/1
Robert Rock 200/1
Tim Petrovic 200/1
Kevin Chappell 400/1
Scott Piercy 400/1
Thomas Levet 400/1
David Howell 400/1
Maarten Lafeber 400/1
Briny Baird 400/1
Hiroyuki Fujita 400/1
Marc Turnesa 500/1
Kirk Triplett 500/1
Michael Putnam 500/1
Sam Saunders 500/1
Sunghoon Kang 500/1
Todd Hamilton 500/1
Justin Hicks 500/1
Fred Funk 500/1
Scott Hend 500/1
Michael Campbell 500/1
Do-Hoon Kim 500/1
Kenichi Kuboya 500/1
Chris WIlliams 750/1
Jon Mills 750/1
Bubba Dickerson 750/1
Peter Uihlein 750/1
Marcel Siem 750/1
Scott Pinckney 1000/1
Christopher Deforest 1000/1
Steven Irwin 1000/1
Brett Patterson 1000/1
Matthew Edwards 1000/1
Michael Barbosa 1000/1
Adam Long 1000/1
David May 1000/1
Will Wilcox 1000/1
Chris Wilson 1000/1
Michael Smith 1000/1
Geoffrey Sisk 1000/1
Matthew Richardson 1000/1
Alexandre Rocha 1000/1
Joey Lamielle 1000/1
Andreas Harto 1000/1
Jesse Hutchins 1000/1
Elliot Gealy 1000/1
Wes Heffernan 1000/1
Andres Gonzales 1000/1
Russell Henley 1000/1
Adam Hadwin 1000/1
David Chung 1000/1
Robert Dinwiddie 1000/1
Brad Benjamin 1000/1
Scott Barr 1000/1
Brian Locke 1500/1
Michael Tobiason Jr. 1500/1
Beau Hossler 1500/1
Ty Tryon 1500/1
Cheng-Tsung Pan 1500/1
Christo Greyling 1500/1
John Ellis 1500/1
Bennet Blakeman 1500/1

No Words.

I would have posted this "music video" of Ben Crane, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson and Hunter Mahan on Tuesday, but it took me until now to pick myself out of the pool or piss and blood I must have passed out into after viewing.

Honestly, it is pretty amusing, and I can't believe they'd spend time doing it, so I guess I'll list my favorite moments from the video:

1.) Hunter Mahan's incredible tan lines
2.) Whatever the hell Mahan was wearing (didn't realize it was him until about 20 seconds in)
3.) Bubba Watson's chest hair
4.) The fact that everyone was dressed as ridiculous as possible except Fowler, who I could put a cool $200 on him actually owning that outfit before the video shoot.

So yes, watch it, enjoy it, watch it again, and then erase it as quickly from your mind as possible.

If these four don't go "Oh, ohh, ohhhhhhh" after each birdie this week at Congressional, I'm going to be super disappointed.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Five Best U.S. Open Venues

This week's U.S. Open will be played at beautiful Congressional Country Club. The course has been toughened and tightened, and while it is a wonderful track, does it make our top-five list for best U.S. Open venues? Read on ...

5.) Olympic Club -- This gem set in wonderful San Francisco isn't the longest of the tracks, but it makes people play different types of golf shots, and ends on arguably the smallest green west of the Postage Stamp. It hasn't hosted the USGA's crown jewel since 1998 (hello Lee Janzen), but will next year, and it will sure be fantastic.

4.) Bethpage Black -- A late addition to the U.S. Open rotation, the public course in New York is everything you want in a tough test of golf, and that's exactly why it makes this event so great. The battle between David Duval and Lucas Glover two years ago was great, and from start to finish you realized why this will be a mainstay for years to come with this event.

3.) Winged Foot Golf Club -- Oh, what a brut! Winged Foot ain't easy, but that's what this is all about. People will remember the '06 disaster on the 18th for years to come, but what made that so great was Geoff Ogilvy made a par on 18 while everyone else was making double-bogey, and that is what you need with a golf club for this event.

2.) Pinehurst, No. 2 -- Slick greens that promote precise iron shots and deft chipping, Pinehurst is old-school U.S. Open, but still lovely, and can produce some incredible drama (think Payne vs. Phil).

1.) Pebble Beach Golf Links -- If the world had a contest and every country had to submit one golf course in hopes of winning, I'm fairly certain we'd push Pebble Beach out and be very confident we'd take down the rest of the world with the prettiest track. Also, it can be a beast, as we saw last year, and there is nothing better than a pretty girl with a little bit of a tough side to her.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Is It Still 'Major' Without Tiger Woods?

Listen, I don't want to talk about this guy just as much as you probably don't want to read about him, but can we really avoid the fact that the best golfer of our generation isn't going to be at the U.S. Open for the first time since 1993? No, of course we can't. We must talk about this major championship and the fact that for the third time in the last 12 majors, Tiger will not be announced on the first tee come Thursday.

We must also look at the fact that when Tiger isn't in the field, golf still suffers. It does. I wish it wouldn't. I wish regular golf fans still cared about Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer, that they thought watching Dustin Johnson hit a drive was as cool as I think it is, but they won't. That'll never end until there really is the next one that takes this game by storm and gets even the people in Iceland talking about some guy with an incredible golf swing and irreplaceable presence is standing behind a Titleist and everyone stops.

But the question I want to bring up is, does a major championship with Tiger still feel major, or is there just something missing about it?

I'll say this, I want to say no, but it's really hard not to. Did you watch the Players Championship? It was drab, and I love golf. I hate when tournaments don't have Tiger in them, because it gets people (*points at self*) questioning the legitimacy of a championship. Just think when Padraig Harrington won all those majors when Tiger was hurt and returning. Sure, he has three majors, but they always felt a little less special than when guys like Phil Mickelson claimed their first Masters. That's probably not fair, but it's fact.

I love when Tiger is there because it gives lovers and haters a place to stand. People can root for him to implode or root for him to win, and there is no in between. Tiger is good for golf whether you like him or not, and him not being at this national championship is tough for the game.

The more Tiger continues to slip, the more that won't matter as much, but for now, people are still waiting, hoping for a comeback, and this is just another tournament that won't happen at. And for golf, that's a really ugly bogey.

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The Top-10 Storylines Heading into the U.S. Open

There are always a ton of stuff that happens at the most open of the Opens, but this year seems especially filled with crazy subplots. Here are the best stories of the week so you can prepare for Thursday and all the action that comes with America's championship.

10.) Ty Tryon's Return to the Big Stage -- If you haven't read the story Steve Elling's story on Ty Tryon and Christo Greyling, who both qualified for this week's major championship, you need to ... like, right now. It's a great piece, and involves everything from family troubles to medical lawsuits. It also reminds us just how big of a deal Tryon was when he burst on the scene back at the age of 17. (How much of a big deal was he? I had him on my first ever fantasy golf team as my C player. Strange but true.)

Tryon is the type of name that could really peak interest if he had a good week, but even if he doesn't, it's the beauty of this tournament. A guy that once was the quintessential young gun, years before anyone had ever heard the names Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy or Matteo Manassero, is now bad for another shot at the biggest tournament in the United States. Gotta love those types of stories.

9.) Can Someone Like Padraig Harrington or Sergio Garcia Come Back to Life? -- Let us not forget, the last time Tiger Woods dipped out of majors for injury, Padraig and Sergio both started playing majors like they were a mini tour event, with Harrington winning three and Garcia finishing right behind him in two.

Garcia has had some ups and downs lately, and this tournament will never be his favorite since putting is his Achilles (sorry, Tiger), but for two of the best playing golfers in the world three years ago, it has been a strange road of late, and it would be nice to see both back in form, especially at a venue like Congressional.

8.) A Stranger's Tournament? -- For all the Tiger Woods', Retief Goosens and Payne Stewarts that have won this event, we've had our fair share of Steve Jones' and Michael Campbells. But is this really a tournament that anyone can win?

It hasn't exactly seemed like it of late, but when a golf course plays so difficultly, like TPC Sawgrass seems to during the Players, it could knock out an entire group if they have a tough tee time with bad conditions.

I feel like this tournament is one that could just as easily be won by names like Jason Dufner or Robert Rock if they're playing well, because like we saw with Lucas Glover at Bethpage, when the course is super tough, everyone struggles, not just the people you're expecting to struggle.

7.) Is Luke Major-Ready? -- He's the number one player in the world, and he has two big wins this year, but if there is one thing that has haunted Luke Donald's career so far, it's his mediocre showing in majors. That said, he did have one of his best finishes ever at this year's Masters, but he needed a chip-in on the 72nd hole to land that (either showing he can rise to the moment or is extremely, extremely lucky at the perfect time).

It seems the U.S. Open is the worst chance for Donald to end his major drought, and as good as he's playing heading into this, I just don't see him taking this one down. I'm sure a lot of people will be forking over dollars on this guy, but I just don't see it.

6.) Will Over-Par Win? -- Graeme McDowell guaranteed nobody would break par this year, and now reports are saying the greens could run a 14.5 on the Stimp (14.5!!). So yes, I think we could easily have our first over-par winning score since '07, and I think all those USGA dudes will be smiling and smiling if it happens.

5.) Is It Finally A Youngsters Time at this Championship? -- Ahh, the age-old question that everyone wants to know; when are the young dudes going to start wining majors? As we saw with McIlroy at Augusta, probably the best chance for one of the young dudes to cash in at one of these, it ain't easy, and it sure ain't easy when you're sleeping on the lead for three straight nights.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - the best shot for one of the young studs at a major is to be three or four back heading into Sunday, go all Ben Curtis on the field, and hope someone Mickelson's the 18th. Boom, there's your championship, and boom, nobody will remember how you won it two years from now.

4.) Will the Europeans Really Start Taking Over? -- Colin Montgomerie said earlier this week he thinks this is when the Europeans really start dominating majors. It might seem too easy to say yes, since five of the last 15 major winners have been European, and the top-three players in the world are all Euros, but I'd have to say, if there was ever a time for those guys to take over, it has to be now. They have so many names that are playing great golf, and don't seem to be intimidated in the slightest by American golf (hell, most live here), so if Euros sweep the rest of the majors this year, don't let Colin say I told ya so.

3.) The Interest Level for Fans -- With Tiger Woods out of the U.S. Open for the first time since 1993 (we will get to that in a second), and a golf course that requires a ton of safe plays and not a lot of risks, is the U.S. Open a fun golf tournament for fans?

Some love it (like my buddy Dan Levy), but others can't stand it, saying they'd rather see professionals play a golf course to perfection and not see them struggle to make pars for four straight days.

It'll be tough to get fans into this tournament before it starts, because it's at a nondescript golf course (seriously, name me one hole at Congressional that you know really well), and it doesn't have the biggest draw in the game with Tiger Woods watching from his couch.

That said, action trumps predictions, and if a lot of names get into a fight over the weekend, people will come crawling back to see what's happening.

2.) Filling the Void That is Tiger Woods -- Someone is going to need to do this, and fast. A Dustin Johnson or Bubba Watson type that overpowers a golf course and wins a big event, getting everyone in sports buzzing about what happened over the weekend.

One of my favorite games to play with the game of golf is to think, "What storylines would get the "PTI" boys leading off with the U.S. Open on Monday?"

Here are the ones I think would:

-- Mickelson winning the Open by five shots
-- Mickelson winning the Open with a birdie on the 72nd hole
-- McIlroy exercising the demons to his first major win after that Masters collapse
-- A big playoff with some of the biggest names in sports

To me, that's it, so any of those would be great, because without Tiger around, it's tough to get the recreational golf fan excited about Thursday.

1.) Can Phil Finally Finish First? -- Hey, speaking of Phil ...

Yes, he is the story since Tiger is out, and at this tournament, that seems just about right. It's strange to think just how well Mickelson has played over his years at this tournament, because this is the tournament that seems like it would never fit his golf game. He doesn't drive the ball straight, he takes too many chances, he hates playing safe, and he'd rather boom it 330 than hit a 4-iron in the middle of the fairway.

But for some reason (his touch, perhaps?), Mickelson has been able to contend at multiple U.S. Opens, but never able to close. For some reason, it feels like this week could be the week for Lefty. Why? Because he is flying under the radar as much as he possibly can.

Nobody is expecting much from him since he hasn't played very good golf this year, and as we saw in 2010 at Augusta National, when Lefty heads into a major without much expectations, he turns it on.

I think Phil has two majors left in him, and I think one of them is at this tournament. He is never going to win a British, he isn't going to win two U.S. Opens, but he could snag one, and maybe this week, he will steal the show.

I guarantee the executives behind the scenes are hoping I'm right.

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It's U.S. Open Week!!!

Yep, that's right, it's Congressional, and starting Thursday, DTCC will be at the golf course, giving you updates, etc., from the golf course! Well, kinda from the golf course. Maybe more from my crutches that will be making the trip with me.

But still, major championship info all week!

The best way to get updates, etc., is to follow me on Twitter, as I'll be knocking out stuff over there just as much as posts, and quicker.

Major championship time! Woohoo!

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Why is Tiger Woods' Caddie Taking Another Job?

When you're the caddie for the highest paid athlete in the world, and you get paid a million bucks for a silly little Valvoline emblem on your arm, it seems strange that you'd step out of that role just because your golfer isn't playing.

But I think Steve Williams caddying for Adam Scott next week at the U.S. Open says a lot more about Williams than it does about his relationship with Tiger Woods, or the inevitable end of that.

See, everybody has something. If it isn't an extreme passion for golf, it might be basketball, or stocks, or business. We all get our highs from one thing or the other, and that's what we love. Jay Leno gets his from being on air and cars (and stealing people's television shows). Tiger gets his from golf and boating (and, well, you know). And it appears Williams gets his thrills from racing and caddying.

He's one of the best caddies in the world, and he knows that, so why wouldn't he be willing to help out a younger player with miles of talent that has never claimed a major, especially if he knows Tiger could be out for a while? While I'm sure Tiger pays Williams a salary and not the standard percentage that most loopers get, it probably gets boring sitting around waiting for the bat phone to ring.

So we shouldn't look that much into this. I don't think it means they're splitting up or the world is ending between Tiger and another famous relationship. I just think it simply means that Williams wants a job, and Tiger doesn't mind.

Now if Scott somehow won next week at Congressional? Well, that sure would stir this pot now, wouldn't it?

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Stubhub Spokesman's Tiger Quote Activated My 'No S*&t' Alarm

Are you ready for the best quote of the week? One that makes you wonder how certain people have job titles like "Stubhub spokesperson"?

Well, here goes. Glenn Lehrman is the guy that does all the talking for Stubhub, the popular ticket website, and he spoke with Bloomberg about the fact that tickets have dropped from $500 to $400 at the U.S. Open since Tiger Woods announced he wasn't going to be playing at Congressional this year.

This was the winner of all winning quotes ever.

"Missing Tiger is a big deal," Stubhub spokeman Glenn Lehrman told Bloomberg. "He's a huge draw, not only for tickets, but also for television ratings."

YA DON'T SAY?!?!! Tiger is a big deal in golf???? Man, looks like I owe my buddy $20. I always thought it was Bubba Dickerson that brought all the boys to the yard! *hands over wallet*

Yes, it's true - tickets are down because Tiger isn't in the field. I would have written this post earlier but it took me a while to get up from falling out of my chair.

Kevin Na Is Not Impressed, Sergio!

You're really trying to be cool, aren't you Sergio Garcia? Trying to get into that Kevin Na land? What, are you jealous that he was named the slowest golfer in the game and not you? That really riding you?

Because when Kevin Na tanks, he tanks. Dude doesn't just make a number, he makes THE number.

And what, you're sitting there thinking you can match him? So you go and make an 11 on a par-5? Don't you know that Na's 16 was on a par-4? Hell, your score still has a name!

I'm disappointed in you, Garcia. This is no way to get yourself back into the spotlight. Second place is the first loser, remember?

An 11 ... ha! Call me when you're still punching out on your eleventh shot. Then we can talk.

h/t to Mr. Wall

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Oh Hunter, Hunter, Hunter ...

I get the new approach to the PGA Tour. I understand that we need young, hip dudes to bro our way into the post-Tiger generation. I'm all for making things cooler and hipper, and I think at times it totally works. (For example, I don't always agree with the outfits Rickie Fowler wears, but I get it ... he's doing it to create a trademark, much the same way Tiger did with the red shirts on Sundays.)

But there are times that it just doesn't work. Like this week, when the New York Times came out with a profile on Byron-skipper Hunter Mahan, and the last paragraph has had a ton of people tweeting "SMH."

A lyric from the song “I Have Not Begun” by his favorite band, Linkin Park, could apply to the message: “You can think that I’m finished. I have not begun; Follow me. I got styles. You can copy one.”

Ahh, did you miss that? I'll paste it again, but this time with the important information in bold.

A lyric from the song “I Have Not Begun” by his favorite band, Linkin Park, could apply to the message: “You can think that I’m finished. I have not begun; Follow me. I got styles. You can copy one.”

As Deadspin shrewdly joked, "Murray Chass shudders and shakes his fist. Kids these days," but it really does show that golfers are full circle creatures. Wear whatever you want to look cool, try to be more original than the next guy, but when you're so out of touch with what is hip in this world that you're telling one of the most respectable publications in existence that Linkin Park is your favorite band, you are exactly that guy Happy Gilmore made fun of as he stood in the parking lot before his first ever competitive round.

"If I wore pants like that I'd have to kick my own ass."

Sure, it might not be the pants you're wearing, Hunter, but I bet after a line like that, Happy would gladly yank your shirt over your head and send you into the nearest pond.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tiger Woods Is Out at the U.S. Open

As some came to expect, Tiger Woods announced on Tuesday that he will not be at Congressional, meaning for the first time since 1994, Tiger will not be arriving to the first tee at the U.S. Open.

Is it a big deal? Sure, of course it's a big deal. Tiger and major championships go hand and hand. These are the events that were made for Woods, and he was the player made for these tournaments. He works his entire schedule around the Masters and the U.S. Open, hoping to be in contention on Sunday so he can add to his legacy.

It's funny when you think about his legacy. I wrote a lengthy piece over at Yahoo! about what we will remember about Woods, but for a minute, just think about this; how long did we all believe Tiger would be back? I bet it was up until this Players Championship. I bet for most golf fans, we never really believed that Tiger was done for good. He was too dominant for too long to think that something like an injury, or a divorce, would derail him and we'd never see the Tiger we had grown up on.

Tiger missing the U.S. Open is injury related. He has to do it because he isn't 100 percent healthy, and for Tiger, he must be 100 percent to have any chance at competing in any tournament, not just a major championship. Everyone has become too good for Tiger to just show up and win like he used to, and his game is too shaky now to bring home a trophy at 80 percent.

It's crazy to think that this will be the three year mark since Tiger last won a major, but what's crazier is what most would answer if you asked them this question; is it more likely that Tiger wins zero majors for the rest of his career, or five, the number needed to pass Jack? To me, it's a lay-up. No chance Tiger catches that daunting 18. He won't be ready for this U.S. Open, and he surely won't be ready for the British or even the PGA Championship. That means the next time we see him competitive at a major, he will be 36, with a nagging history of injuries.

On top of that, Tiger now has the doubt, that nasty thing that most golfers are born with but it never seemed to enter Tiger's brain. We all doubt ourselves on the golf course, but he never did.

He does now, and his decision to not play the U.S. Open isn't surprising, but the way his career has tanked sure is. It's hard to believe that the best golfer of this generation might never be the same.

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All the U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying Results

There were 11 sites playing golf on Monday for spots into Congressional, and Ryan Ballengee over at the wonderful Pro Golf Talk had this list of qualifiers. So check it out, after the jump, and check out his site, because it's good stuff.

Vero Beach, Fla. – Quail Valley GC
56 players for 3 spots

1. Joey Lamielle

From 3-for-2 playoff:
2. Michael Barbosa
3. Sam Saunders

Notables to not qualify: NBC Sports’ Gary Koch

Monday, June 6, 2011

Vijay Singh Teaches Us All Who He Really Is

I have no soapbox here. I don't stand on things yelling certainties about golfers or people. To be honest, I don't really care about who some of these golfers are, or what they do when the ball isn't in the air. I don't really know what type of professional I'd be if given the chance to putt a little better or hit my driver a little straighter.

But the one thing I know is no matter what, golf is a game you must respect if you truly want to appreciate it. I spent the night with some friends who were talking about a playing partner this week that considered himself an 8-handicap, but never once counted a shot he hit out of bounds. That, my friends, isn't an 8-handicap, that is someone that "plays" golf, but doesn't enjoy it.

And so here we are with Vijay Singh, the 48-year-old Fijian who has won more times on the PGA Tour than Lee Trevino and Gary Player, and has more major victories than Ben Crenshaw and Greg Norman. Vijay reinvented his golf game the older he got, and actually proved that no matter how bad you putt, if you hit the ball perfectly for 18 holes, you can score.

I remember my dad telling me a story of a gentleman he used to play with back in his day that seemed to never miss a shot. He told me that this guy would have six five-footers for birdie a round, and make three. He'd hit all the par-5s in two, and he'd shoot five-under just about every round. He told me that if this guy could putt, he would have been out there with the legends, surveying Augusta National like an EA Sports game consultant.

I feel that way about Vijay. This is a man that once was last in the field in fairways hit at a British Open and first in that same field in greens in regulation.

But when we talk about Vijay, we must talk about the other side of Vijay. The dark side. The side that let his caddie wear a "Tiger Who?" hat during the Presidents Cup, and a guy that scolded Annika Sorenstam for attempting to qualify for a PGA Tour event. This was a man that seemed to spend his entire career doing whatever he could to be disliked; a modern day Rory Sabbatini.

And now we have the story of Singh deciding not to show up on Monday for U.S. Open qualifying. No call, no withdrawal, no nothing. Singh just decided not to show, like a woman deciding all together not to even bother with the window jump from her dressing room before the wedding and staying home in the first place.

There is nothing right about what Singh did. Nothing. It's an act of complete and utter disrespect. "To whom," you might ask? To the USGA and their crown jewel, the U.S. Open. To the committee that decided a year ago to give Singh a special exemption into the tournament to keep his streak of major championship starts in tact. To everyone that has ever cheered for Singh, and most importantly, to any golfer that has ever wished to play a stage like this, but never had the chance.

Singh is disrespecting it all, and without even picking up the phone. This brings up a story I once heard about Singh at Augusta National, but never felt the need to share until now. Once, during the week of the Masters, Singh was practicing in the short game area on the other side of Magnolia Lane from the driving range, and decided to start hitting full shots over the road into the full range. One Augusta member came over and politely asked him to stop. Singh told him he would, but kept doing it. A second member showed up and asked him again to stop doing this, because it could cause a safety issue with drivers on the road. He again said he'd quit, but didn't. That brought then-chairman Hootie Johnson out, in a golf cart, to Singh's location. Johnson kindly, in his southern twang, asked Singh if he planned on playing in the invitational tournament this week. Singh, shocked, answered "Of course" to the chairman's request, with Johnson quickly replying, "Well, it is an invitational." Singh quickly stopped hitting shots across the road.

I never felt like that story had a place until now. It makes total sense now, as Singh didn't even have the respect to tell the USGA he wouldn't be showing up to his tee time. It's a shame that a Hall of Famer would have such disrespect for the game of golf, and the people that run it.

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Steve Stricker, and the Beauty of 44

I'll be honest - I have no idea what 44 must feel like. To me, being 44 is like being a freshman in college and hearing from graduates how fast the time flies by at university, only to roll your eyes and get back to the third Keystone Light. Being 44 is a number I can't fathom because I'm 27 and still have many broken feet to go before I reach that mark.

But it is men like Steve Stricker that make 44 look cool. A PGA Tour star that is now ranked fourth in the world after his impressive win at the Memorial, Stricker does everything (everything!) with class. He is the reason professional golfers still get a great rap despite the travails of Tiger Woods or the random drug test losers.

It hasn't always been easy for Stricker. This is a guy that now has ten PGA Tour wins, but seven of them have come since he turned 40. He was barely a golfer in the early part of this millenium, but the older he got, the better he understand his game. He figured out his driver. He worked on his fantastic putting stroke. He learned how to outsmart most of the field, and he did so with that steely look that speaks more about his personality than it does about his grit.

Asked on Sunday if he nows feels like a superstar in the game, Stricker answered as you'd expect:

No. No, I don't. I guess that's why I dodged that question over there when they asked about it. I've been up to No. 2 in the world, and I just go about my own business. I don't look at myself any differently. I don't -- I just go out and play, you know, and I try to play well. And I'm on a great run these last five or six years, and I just want to continue it.

It's interesting what this game will give you. For all the stories of the game taking away talent (read Duval, David and Daly, John), there are plenty of guys that found their games in their later years. Stricker might be the best example presently, but you can point towards Kenny Perry and Vijay Singh as men that started to play great golfer the older they got, when the idea of playing a golf course changed.

We can try to buy the longest driver or the hottest ball, but when you think about the best way to improve you golf game, it comes down to the greens and the putts and missing it in the right spot. To be good at golf, for the most part, you have to be smart about it. That's why every professional has a caddie to help them decide on the best route to take, because it really is a two-brain game.

Stricker seems to be one of the best at this. It's what makes him tick, and what puts him on a short list as the next American major championship winner. Sure, he is six years away from the Champions Tour, but sometimes that number doesn't matter. As long as you can make the same swing all the time, and be confident with every six-footer, you have a chance.

Remember; we are two years removed from a 59-year-old almost winning the British Open.

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