Thursday, July 28, 2011


Yes, it is the second coming ... of 2011 ... of Tiger Woods. No, I'm not sure anything about Tiger Woods' return is in Revelations, but still, Tiger coming back is big news, right?

Woods announced earlier Thursday afternoon that he'd be back next week at Firestone, blatantly stealing the thunder from Trevor Immelman's impressive 64 at the Greenbrier. He did it via Twitter and his website, and if you're a golf fan, this is only good news.

Why did he pick next week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational? Simple. The guy has won the event seven times at this golf course, and above all that, there is no cut at the tournament, so he will get four full rounds no matter if his golf game likes it or not.

It is worth noting; Tiger has won at Firestone a lot, but last season he shot rounds of 74-72-75-77, the equivalent of Larry Bird going 0-30 in the Boston Garden or Pete Sampras losing in the first round of Wimbledon. Still, Tiger is back and we should all get excited because if nothing else, Tiger sparks big interests in golf.

Who are the big winners? Tiger, Bryon Bell (his new caddie and longtime friend), the WGC and the PGA Championship.

The big losers? Steve Williams, the Greenbrier and especially, especially swing coach Sean Foley, who said earlier this week that Tiger hadn't hit range balls at all, basically telling us that Tiger is doing to Foley what he used to do to Hank Haney.

But Tiger is back, so get a ton of bottled water and canned foods for next Thursday, so you can be fully hydrated before he tees it up. Should be fun, no matter which way he goes.

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Maybe This is Why Tiger Doesn't Tweet A Lot

If there was one golfer that got the most heat of anyone right now, it would have to be Tiger Woods. Some want him to quit the game forever. Others want him to take the rest of the year off. People are mad at him, disappointed, confused, weirded out. It's a strange situation, and just a few minutes on Twitter will show you the obvious outrage.

So lucky for Team Tiger, Woods doesn't spent a lot of time on that social networking outlet. Maybe Rory McIlroy should follow suit.
The Golf Channel's European Tour analyst Jay Townsend, who has played some professional golf in his life, took a shot at Rory's course management on Twitter, saying "McIlroy's course management was shocking." Apparently, Rory wasn't a big fan of that, and this is what he wrote back.

Ehh, come on Rory, you're better than that. Anytime I write anything controversial over at Yahoo!, I get four or five comments about how "I don't know because I never played on the PGA Tour!", and trust me, if I'm comparing you to a Yahoo! commenter, it isn't a compliment.

But I guess that just shows youth and fire. I don't hate that he fired back, I just wish he would have gone about it another way. While I don't love LeBron James that much, I still respect how he handled that ridiculous question during the NBA Playoffs about him shrinking in the fourth quarter. That is how superstars handle critics.

And No, Jean Van de Velde Wasn't Driving ...

That, my friends, is a photo from Carnoustie, where a golf cart (or buggy as those crazy Scots call it) drove directly into the Barry Burn. Of course, Jean Van de Velde made the Barry Burn famous for shedding all his clothes and trying to hit a shot out of it, as he made triple-bogey on the final hole to eventually lose the Open Championship.

I've played Carnoustie, and I have to say; this damn burn eats up so many golf balls, this photo didn't even surprise me. But it is awesome.

Maybe a few less pints over there, R&A peeps.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Note to Tiger Woods: Hang 'Em Up For 2011

Dear Tiger Woods,

I've never met you. Not even once. I've been at events you've played in, and seen crowds swarm around you, but not once have I raised my hand to ask you a question during those lengthy press conferences, and never once have we grown accustomed to each other like you have with some other writers like "Fergy" as you call him.

But I've always appreciated what you did for golf. As Phil Mickelson pointed out earlier this week, you've done more for the game of golf, and the players playing, than anyone ever. You globalized golf. You made people that hated the game care about it. You brought the inner-city youth out to pick up the sticks and learn touch and feel. You showed us that dominance is possible in this game, and you did it in such a short time that we never thought it would stop.

But even for you, life can turn. Things haven't been so easy the last two years. You haven't won a PGA Tour event since September of 2009. Your last major was a year before that. You have struggled with your personal life, swing, game, relationships and decision making. The biggest news we golfing type have had in months was when you randomly abolished Steve Williams from your bag, bringing up even more questions about where you are mentally.

And after all that, you're still the most talked about man in the game. So I beg you, Mr. Woods, don't come back the rest of the year. Take it off. Skip the PGA Championship. Tell Fred Couples you won't be at the Presidents Cup. Forget about Australia and China and all those tournaments you play near the winter. Just get away from it for a while, get better, work on your game harder than ever and be back for 2012. Make this next season YOUR year like you made 2000 after all the swing changes finally came together.

You're better than all this, I know it. You can come out with determination and grit unlike anything we've seen in this game, but you have another thing going for you in the upcoming years that you never had before; you've got a chip on your shoulder now. You can come out playing like Michael Jordan after baseball, when people didn't know what to expect. You can prove to everyone that you aren't washed up, and you still have wins ahead of you. You can trash people like myself that have doubted your chance of taking over Jack Nicklaus' major record.

But more importantly, you can become you again. Right now, this isn't you. You were born to be great. You were born to entertain and wow us. You were born to be more than a man or a golfer; you were born to be a role model for millions and millions of golf fans that have looked up to you ever since you wore that goofy straw hat at TPC Sawgrass and fist-pumped all the way across the 17th green.

Some people have talent, and some don't, but yours goes miles and miles beyond the regular. We want to see it again, we just want you to do it the right way. Don't rust back. Get totally better, and then wait even longer. Make us want you again. It'll sure be more fun than this right now.

A True Golf Fan

Planking Probably Not Worth Death

I think we can all agree that planking should be done, and this video shows just that. This is a video of some guy trying to do some action planking, which makes a ton of sense, obviously.

And, oh yeah, he almost died. So that made it cooler. Who thought it was a good idea to drive the golf cart down some steep hill with a guy on top of it? Brilliant plan, guys. Brilliant. I have a feeling Daniel Tosh will be calling you in a few months.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How These Cute Little Amateurs Are Just Digging Graves

This past weekend, an amateur by the name of Harris English won the Nationwide Tour event, and his buddy and fellow amateur, John Peterson, came in third. It was an incredible feat, but not so unlikely, as we've already had an amateur take down a Nationwide Tour tournament earlier this season.

Doing something like this, on the second biggest stage in golf is incredible, but is worthy of these comments from both English and Peterson?

"The top guys in college, the top 20 or 30 guys, can beat the top 20, 30 guys on the PGA Tour," Peterson said. "Maybe with the exception of two or three guys who are constantly up there, like a Matt Kuchar or Luke Donald, those guys that are always there ... those top 20 college guys will beat those top 20 or 30 PGA Tour guys, if given the opportunity. They just don't have the opportunity."

English agreed. "You look at what happened here, you look at what guys are doing this week in Canada ... at the U.S. Open there are always a couple of amateurs playing well," he said. "On any given week when you give amateurs a shot, they're going to (card some low numbers) because we're ruthless. All college events are very competitive, and you learn how to go out there and win. The college golf system is awesome. You see guys coming out every year ready to compete and showing it off."

I would first like to point Mr. English and Mr. Peterson to my second favorite golf quote ever from the one and only Craig Stadler, who once said this to an All-American boasting about all his wins on the amateur level -- "You see the guy next to you? And the guy next to him? Every one of them, All-Americans. There's an NCAA Champion, a U.S. Amateur champion, a British Open champion -- hell, some of these caddies were All-Americans. So just so you know, nobody here gives a damn if you're an All-American, or if you even to college at all. All anybody here here wants to know ... can you play stick?"

THAT IS EXACTLY MY POINT! Yes, you guys are great, and yes, it seems the college and amateur players have lost that ability to be scared by practically anything (English averaged 327 yards per poke last week in Columbus!), but you still are playing against guys that were as good, if not better, than you in college, and have been doing the pro thing for years. They spend countless hours with the best teachers in the world getting their equipment spec'd by guys that have been tweaking clubs longer than most college players have been alive, and everything they work on is in hopes that they make one more putt a round, or hit one more green a tournament. In college you're playing against the best golfers in the world at that level, and still only about 7 percent of them will ever play in a PGA Tour event.

I love that they're cocky, and it's awesome to see this type of talent coming out of our universities, but saying you have the talent to compete with professional golfers at the highest level just shows exactly how naive you are and just how much you have to learn. You know the last amateur to win a PGA Tour event? A guy by the name of Phil Mickelson. You know how old he is now? 41, and any college golfer in the world would give their ability to hit the long ball if it meant having 1/20th the career Mr. Mickelson put together.

For more debate on the amateurs thinking they're better than the pros, check out the Teeing Off this week on Devil Ball Golf.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Why Happy Gilmore Might Be One of the Worst Made Movies Ever (And Yet I Still Love It)

I want everyone to understand something; I love “Happy Gilmore.” Love it. I own it on DVD, owned it on VHS, and will tune in whenever it’s on whatever channel still shows it. HBO, Golf Channel, TBS ... I don’t care, I’ll watch. I laugh at least 12 times a viewing, and will never hate on the idea behind the movie.

But as a movie about golf? Terrible. Absolutely horrible. Stunningly error-filled. Like, “if I wrote a story that had that many mistakes I’d be not only fired but shot” bad. And why? Because it literally lips out (golf term joke ... hey-o) on every possible golf scenario in the movie.

So, let us dive right in, shall we?

-- First things first ... 400 yards away on his first tee shot, eh? Fine, that’s fine. But how in the world is the man that far away going to see, and point out, that it was Gilmore and the movers that were hitting balls at them? And if that man could see them, why wouldn’t he go to the house and identify them as the people that broke his window?

-- The Waterbury driving range has a 400-yard range sign. Umm huh.

-- If you win the Waterbury Open, some random golf tournament, you’re automatically on “the pro tour”? Really? And it’s a one-day event? I would pay a LOT of money for a chance to play in a one-day event for an exempt card on the PGA Tour. That would be like the NBA holding a three-point contest, and if you make four in a row, you are automatically a member of the Dallas Mavericks.

-- Please, just PLEASE, look at the crowd listening to Shooter McGavin’s initial speech at the Waterbury Open. It’s a mix of 40-somethings and old women. And this is a qualifier for the pro tour? Gotcha. Not a single under 40-something in the bunch.

-- Chubbs calls “time” after Happy’s initial whiff in the qualifier. That would be a second caddie helping out. That’s illegal. Also, TIMEOUT!

-- He hit it in the pond and somehow moved up the leaderboard after jumping in and getting his ball.

-- On the last hole of the qualifier he not only has his caddie carrying his clubs and Chubbs giving him a read, but he also has a third caddie tending the flag.

-- Shooter’s caddie suggested, on a downhill chip right next to the green to a short-sided pin, that he should use a 5-iron. Shooter fired him, for apparently the best reason ever in the history of player-to-caddie relationship.

-- Shooter had a putt on the final green for the win (again, a one-day tournament), and while his caddie (The one he fired but didn’t leave) was standing behind him doing nothing, another caddie tended the flag.

-- If you look at the scoreboard behind the pro golf tour’s head when he’s trying to get Happy kicked off the tour, the first hole is a 610-yard par-5. Happy drove the green earlier in the day.

-- Happy Gilmore yelled at someone during a fight, “Play it where it lies, motherf**ker!” He had played golf for three days. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have known that rule or how to phrase it.

-- The first the “You suck, ya jackass” guy yelled at Happy he’d be kick out of the tournament. First time.

-- Also, Bob Barker would tell that guy to shut up as well. Like he didn’t hear it, no matter how old he is.

-- Somehow putt-putt makes you a better putter. That would be like saying pop-a-shot would make you a better dribbler.

-- During the tour championship, Happy makes a bogey. The sign behind him that the sign boy is carrying says he’s 2-under. The leaderboard says 4-under. He then makes another bogey to get to 3-under (or 1-under by sign boy). Then, on the next hole, he goes drive-whiff-whiff-whiff-whiff-water. So, he’d be hitting eight at that point, but somehow, after all that, he dropped just one shot, and SOMEHOW, he was at 2-under and dropped to 1-under. So maybe he lost a shot in between holes. Wouldn’t surprise me.

-- So now he’s four back of Shooter, goes to his happy place, punches out on the green, makes some other putt on some hole, makes another putt, and another, and suddenly he’s just two shots better and two back of Shooter.

-- Shooter then tops his shot in the water (best pro in golf, btw), but doesn’t drop a shot, yet Gilmore did, even though he made a long putt.

-- And all of a sudden, they’re tied! And then the president of the tour announces the hole before they tee off on the 18th.

Now, I won’t even address all that “ball on the foot, tower falling on the green, play it where it lies” business. I’m fairly convinced “play it where it lies” is the only golf rule anyone had ever heard of before writing this movie.

So, to clear it up, Happy Gilmore is really entertaining, but not much of a golf movie. I guess that’s fine though, right?

(And yes, if you can't tell, this is what I call a slow news day. Sorry for taking up so much of your time with a movie made when I was in 4th grade.)

Wait, Why is Chubby Chandler Telling the World His Client Was Nearly Broke?

If you haven't seen it by now, check out the Daily Mail's story about Darren Clarke's financial struggles before his win at this month's British Open championship.

Clarke had taken some hits financially, but made nearly $5 million with the win and a sponsor's bonus, and is in a good spot now considering he will be landing more money and fees because of that little Claret Jug he will now be sporting in his trophy case.

The source of all this information? Clarke's manager, Chubby Chandler, the god of golf these days. While Chandler seems like a great guy, and everyone that works with him loves him, isn't it a little strange that a manager would be telling the world about his client's financial situations?

The idea behind a manager is to always make things look good for your clients. Tiger Woods has an agent that has spent countless hours trying to do his best to dig up the same amount of money Tiger was landing before all his personal problems floating to the surface, and there is no chance any word would leak about the current balance of Tiger's checkbook. So while I'm sure Chandler was just highlighting how important a win like this one must have been for Clarke, going around telling everyone that your client, and friend, was nearly at a zero balance can't be good for either party.

It just seemed like a strange person to be reporting such news. But, still, Clarke and Chandler are the winners here, again. The only financial problems Clarke is going to have now is that 2 AM bar tab.

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John Daly Did Something Incredible This Weekend ... He Let His Golf Do the Talking

It's easy to harp on John Daly these days for his pants, or his relationships or his frustration with sponsors who won't give him another chance even though the guy has cried wolf more times than Shakira. But deep down we all love the guy, mostly because he is so insane and unpredictable.

But sometimes ... sometimes ... it's nice to just write about Daly's golf game. So when he was sneaking up the leaderboard over the weekend in Canada, it seemed like an unlikely, but incredible story. John Daly was going to compete for a PGA Tour title and dammit, we were going to root for him.

Of course Daly didn't win. Sean O'Hair did. It was equally as great, but for a moment, it seemed that we might actually see Daly raise a trophy for the first time since 2004. If he wins, it's the story of the year, hands down. Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus could go in a playoff at next month's PGA Championship and it still wouldn't eclipse Daly making good on his golf game once more.

It also showed that whatever crap we talk about the guy, he's still, deep down, a competitive golfer that loves being in the hunt. I noticed on Sunday that his outfit was a little less loud than normal, and maybe that's because for once, he wanted everyone to watch his golf shots and not his golf pants. He was out there yucking it up with the field, and he damn near pulled it off.

In a year of unpredictability, Daly making a comeback fits right in. Welcome back, John. Great to see that touch never left.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Why Steve Williams Should Be Pissed

The dust has settled on all this Tiger Woods-Steve Williams mess, and like that greasy breakfast post hangover, things are starting to make a little more sense now, but I just figured it was worth pointing out that no matter what you think of the situation, Williams has every right to be upset.

ESPN's Colin Cowherd made a point that Tiger put Steve and his family in another tax bracket with all the money he gave him, but I feel like that's a little unfair to the art of the caddie. Williams is one of the best in the world. He's caddied for Peter Thomson (Ed. Note: So have I! Well, for one round at St. Andrews, but still.), Greg Norman and Raymond Floyd before taking the strap of Mr. Woods' bag. He is world renowned for his ability to read his player, handle certain situations, and shake off the nerves that accompany a golfer and his companion. It might not seem like a hard job, but being a caddie is some of the toughest work I've ever encountered. It's grueling on the body (remember, you're carrying that bag for nearly six days a week, not just the four days of tournament play), and you have to be completely comfortable with yourself and your player to totally execute properly. One mistake and you might get blamed, but both you and the golfer have to understand that you'll make the occasional bad call just like they'll hit the occasional bad golf shot. Nobody is perfect, but Williams was damn near it.

I think that one of the biggest problems with TIger Woods is his inability to comprehend loyalty. It's like he's always thinking people are feeding off him, even when they aren't. Tiger took it as a dig that Williams would loop for Adam Scott, even when he gave him the okay, and that just isn't the case. Even with all the money Stevie has made working with Tiger, the bills keep coming even when the checks aren't.

I've always respected Steve Williams. He kept his mouth shut on everything, and considering the close group Tiger keeps, that's pretty hard to come by. He never slandered his name during the entire Escaladegate, and he stood by his boss when every female east of the Mississippi came out and said they'd seen all of Mr. Woods.

A lot of caddies wouldn't have done that. They would have seen the easy payout by coming forward and giving exclusive interviews, and done that. Most humans aren't loyal. We live in a world where the moment you hear something secretive, you're thinking of who will be the first you want to tell, and for Tiger to find someone as genuinely supportive as Williams for 12 or so years is rare air.

I understand that Williams is upset by what transpired. While it might not have been totally surprising, it did seem a little lame the way Tiger went about it. Wait until the year ends and give a proper goodbye. Give Stevie a shot when you're actually 100 percent, because for a while, you two were unstoppable. But most of all, treating your friend with disrespect is one of the worst traits a human can have.

I feel bad for Tiger. I just don't understand where he's heading, and what he wants. It wouldn't surprise me if he didn't know either.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Did the British Open Lack Some Tiger?

Earlier this week, before all the Tiger Woods-Steve Williams crap hit the wall, myself and good buddy Ryan Wilson (a Tiger fan by his own admission) batted around the idea that the Open Championship might have been missing a little something, and that something could have been He Who Shall Not Be Named. Here is the convo, and after, go read some of Wilson's work over at CBS. It's good stuff.

Bacon: This week marked one of the most surprising, but fan-favorite wins in the last few years. A 42-year-old "regular joe" of a man, Darren Clarke, won the British Open in fairly spectacular fashion, holding off a young stud (Dustin Johnson), the biggest active name in golf (Phil Mickelson) and a kid that most hope is going to be America's answer to Rory McIlroy (Rickie Fowler). I think it was a great week for golf, and even noted that if someone lost in all of this, it's Tiger Woods, because it showed we don't necessarily need him for great drama. You're a huge Tiger guy ... am I completely off with this?

Wilson: I watched every minute of the British Open, from start to finish, and while I loved that Clarke won, I couldn't help thinking that there wasn't that one must-see player. McIlroy was that guy to start the week but he got outplayed in "his" weather by Rickie Fowler. And after a slow start, Dustin Johnson played some incredible golf right up until he drop-kicked his second shot on No. 14 out of bounds on Sunday. I felt like I'd seen that movie before. I don't say that to pile on DJ (I wanted him to win) but to point out that, for all intents and purposes, the tournament was over for him at that moment.

I never felt that way with Tiger, even though he had a knack for bogeying big holes on Sunday (and yet he always managed to stay within striking distance of the lead -- weird). Of course, we've been conditioned to believe that no deficit is insurmountable when Tiger's laser-focused on the job at hand. The problem is that Tiger's come-from-behind record is pretty horrible, and new Tiger is nowhere near the elite golfer old Tiger was. And you know what? Maybe I need to accept that it might be that way for a long time. I'll still watch golf and root for guys like Clarke, but it won't be nearly as exciting.

Bacon: First, can we all agree on what that Johnson shot was? Was it a drop-kick? A shank? Just a bad swing? Whatever it was, when you're laying up on a par-5 and that lay-up ends out of bounds, you probably need to find some head doctor, and stat.

Second, how strange is it that most media people (and fans of Tiger) are still scared to say his career could be done? I know I do it at times. We sit here and act like there still might be some fight left in him (And even now, I'm programmed to want to type, "and there still could be"), but what if there isn't? Trust me, we've seen careers derail faster than this (Swoosh II, David Duval, is one of them).

I'm sure with Tiger in the hunt at Royal St. George's, interest would have spiked, but I'm still forced to believe that the game has seemed to pass him by, and the drama at the British, after that dominant effort at Congressional by Mr. Perfect Weather, were two of the greatest majors since Woods was adding to his legacy.

Wilson: I have no earthly idea what Johnson was doing from the middle of the 14th fairway. And I don't know how he could have hit a worse shot. I joked that he would've been better off hitting a knockdown driver off the deck there after he striped his drive on the 15th. The thing is, I don't think he's a head case. Unlike old Phil or Sergio, DJ doesn't look dazed and confused after he shoots himself out of a tournament. In fact, it's hard to tell by looking at him whether he just aced a par 3 or blasted a ball so far out of bounds that they still haven't found it.

As for Tiger, I wonder if it's less about wondering if his run really is over, and more about what that means for golf going forward. Every few years the media identify the next crop of young golfers to unseat Woods and, well, we're still waiting. Remember Charles Howell III and David Gossett? Sergio came close in 1999 but imploded at the British in recent years. Guys like Rory and Rickie are great for the sport, but either too young or not consistent enough from week to week to be anywhere near the draw Tiger is. (By the way, why is Rory publicly bellyaching about the conditions at Royal St. George's? Never mind he's Irish, but that's something Jack or Tiger would never, ever do. That's "How to be a champion 101" stuff.)

Sorta related: I actually felt bad for Ernie Els at the British. He was paired with Rory and Rickie and we got to see firsthand what the changing of the guard looks like. I never thought I'd see the day where Els wouldn't be able to hang with anyone, much less two upstarts. But he looked out of sorts the first two rounds before, mercifully, he missed the cut.

So what does this mean going forward? No idea. I love DJ's game 99 percent of the time, and Fowler could be even better than McIlroy before it's all said and done. But we may have to readjust our expectations if Tiger really is on the downside of a phenomenal run.

Bacon: I agree with everything you said, so I might as well ask you one final question -- it isn't good for golf when different people win all these majors, and nobody is dominating, right? Or is it fun to watch the changing of the guard every six weeks?

Wilson: I think people like rivalries, contrived or otherwise. People love to hate the Steelers, the Lakers, the Yankees, and Duke because they perennially contend for championships. No one feels that way about, say, Butler. They've been to the last two NCAA title games, and lost twice to the big-time programs. It's not a perfect analogy, but I think it works for the Graeme McDowells and Louis Oosthuizens of the golf world. Yeah, it's a swell story that they won a major, but on the other hand, those victories aren't doing anything to grow the sport. That's not their fault, it's just the reality of what Tiger vs. the field have done for golf over the last 15 years or so.

(Tiger hasn't had one rival, but at various points he's gone up against David Duval, Els, Phil, Vijay and even Darren Clarke for a while there earlier this century. And it all made for compelling television. Clarke vs. Johnson was a nice story, but I guarantee you people didn't change their plans to make sure they caught that head-to-head matchup.)

Ideally, somebody would be able to fill the void left by Tiger, even if only partially. Instead, I'm guessing we see what you describe as "changing of the guard every six weeks." It's not right or wrong, it's just the current state of the game.

Steve Williams Not So Happy About the Breakup

Breakups can be hard. One person is unhappy. The other is pissed. One still has that ugly t-shirt they used to sleep in and doesn't know when to give it back.

But in this case, with Steve Williams and Tiger Woods calling it quits on their caddie/player relationship, it seems amicable. Well, until the next day.

Williams told Television New Zealand, "You could say I've wasted the last two years of my life.I've stuck with Tiger and been incredibly loyal. I'm not disappointed I've been fired - that's part of the job - but the timing is extraordinary."

I mean, can you blame the guy? Williams is pissed, as most are when relationships come to an end, and he never seemed to be the guy to hold back. Is it strange timing? Absolutely. Does it seem like something that was eventually going to happen? Absolutely.

I guess Williams shouldn't be surprised by any of this. Tiger has turned into one of those guys that you can never predict, and here is another decision to change in his life.

I'd be frustrated if I was Stevie. Shocked? Not at all.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tiger Woods 'Fluffs' Steve Williams

There aren't many match made in heaven situations on the golf course. Phil Mickelson and Bones is one. Ai Miyazato and Mick Seaborn is another. And for a long time, Tiger Woods and Steve Williams seemed like they'd be together forever.

But after all the Escalade stuff happened, and Tiger stopped winning golf tournaments, the relationship sure waned. That isn't to say that Williams wasn't doing his job (in my opinion he's one of the best loopers ever), but like relationships and jobs, sometimes you just need to change it up, and Woods announced that officially on Wednesday.

On Tiger's website, he said that he and Williams wouldn't be working together anymore, writing on the wall for those that follow golf at all (Stevie and Adam Scott have been working together during Tiger's time away due to injury).

While the caddie-player relationship often gets overlooked, it really should be said that this is one of the most successful duo in the history of golf. Stevie and Tiger won 13 majors together over a span of 12 years, and while Tiger tends to keep to himself on big issues and controversy, Williams was great at picking up the slack when situations needed to be resolved (I'm sure certain photographers would agree with me).

Maybe the best memory of the two was at the 2000 PGA Championship, when Tiger was forced into a playoff by the scrappy Bob May, and on the first playoff hole, Tiger rolled in a lengthy birdie putt, chasing after it with his finger pointing at the hole, while Williams ran after him, nearly beating him to the cup, arm raised and voice whooping. There will be lasting memories of these two, like that '06 British Open win, but the follow up to the hole was always one of my favorites.

No word yet on a replacement, but for now we should just remember these two for what they were; a match made in golf-love heaven. But sometimes, great things must end.

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Rory Two Steps Away From Burning Irish Flags

This past weekend, U.S. Open champion (never knew that would be foreshadowing) Rory McIlroy mentioned that he wasn't a fan of golf tournaments that could be decided by weather, although he had grown up in Northern Ireland, where the weather makes Seattle people less depressed.

That was a tough thing to swallow. This? Even tougher.

McIlroy tweeted a picture of himself, Graeme McDowell and newly crowned Darren Clarke sucking back a few pints of Guinness in what appears to be some sort of celebration for the champion golfer of the year. That was fine. I like when they don't hold back with photos of themselves enjoying the finer things in life, and you'd be hard pressed to find a day I wouldn't turn down a cold pint of the black stuff, but that picture came with a message. A very disturbing message. One that makes you wonder if this curly-haired kid is really from where he says he is.

THE FIRST PINT OF GUINNESS?! What in the world is going on with this guy?

A month ago he was on top of the world. He won his first major, became an icon for the new age golfer, and was touring just about every venue possible. Now he's dissing UK weather, breaking up with hometown girlfriends, and reminding us that it takes a fellow Northern Irishman winning the biggest tournament in the world to allow him to try his island's most famous concoction?!

I don't really know what to say, but is it bad that a cold Guinness sounds great right about now? Hopefully I can finish it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It Appears Len Goodman is Golf's Nostradamus

I don't know much about Len Goodman, but it appears he's a Dancing With the Stars judge across the pond, and used to be a pretty big deal on the ballroom dance floor (how did I not know this guy?!).

But he was asked on the BBC before the Open Championship started about who he liked to win, and well, just take a wild guess who he picked. The fun starts at the 1:07 mark, and just click the image to watch the video.

I guess I know who I'm listening to for the PGA Championship. Geez.

via Shack

The Parallels Between Tiger's Augusta Run and Phil's British Run

It's interesting to think that this year, two of the biggest names in golf had a chance at come-from-behind majors. That is, Tiger Woods at the 2011 Masters and Phil at last week's British. But how close were they to being identical? Let's take a look.

The first picture will be Tiger's scorecard from that Sunday at Augusta. Look at what he did. Tiger started the day seven shots back of Rory McIlroy (Phil started five shots back of Darren Clarke, meaning both were trailing a Nothern Irishman before the day kicked off).

Look at that scorecard.

Now, look at Phil's scorecard from Sunday at Royal St. George's. Looks pretty similar, doesn't it?

Here are some of the facts ...

- They both shot five-under on the front nine.
- They both made birdies on the par-3 6th holes.
- The crescendo of their play came on a par-5, that had them both rolling putts for eagle that were highlighted by huge fist pumps and tied for the lead in the championships.

Now, it gets even more interesting. Both had short putts missed (Tiger on 12 at Augusta, Phil on 11 at St. George's) that killed their momentum, but for both of them, the real momentum shift came on the 13th hole for both. If you remember, Tiger failed to make birdie on the par-5 at the Masters for the first time in two years, while Mickelson's bogey unraveled his round.

Final tally for both golfers? Tiger finished four shots back of eventual champion Charl Schwartzel, while Phil finished three back of Clarke. Tiger ended with a 67, while Phil ended with a 68.

While it's no Lincoln-Kennedy, it is strange how alike those rounds looked, and how they came on the same day.

Someone Finally Fixed Charles Barkley's Golf Swing ...

... and guess who it was?! Hank Haney!!! (Well, not really, but he Tweeted the link).

Video evidence is below.

When Making a Hole-In-One is Really a Birdie

Back in my high school days, my dad and I made the drive up north to Arkansas, to play in a scramble with his best friend and their son, now a head pro at a golf course in Clinton's old stomping ground. It was a great foursome, and our main goal was fun, not first place. As the wind picked up, and the clouds started turning dark, we knew the tournament would get called any second, but we had a par-3 to play and play it we did. Everyone hit, and when it was my turn, I struck a 9-iron that looked destined for my wall. The ball landed, started rolling towards the pin and disappeared, "A hole-in-one!," we all thought. The group behind us congratulated us. We wrote down "1" on the scorecard. That was, until we rolled up to the green and realized it had slide past the hole, and down a hidden hill, no more than 18 inches behind the cup. Err, that's a two, not a one, and we shamefully carded it as such.

That story sucked. This story makes mine look like a two-putt for the Masters.

Connor Klein, playing in the first round of the 64th U.S. Junior Amateur at Gold Mountain Golf Club, knocked his tee shot in the cup from 170-yards out for a hole-in-one on the par-3 5th hole, but guess what, he had to write down a two? Why? Because that was the hole Connor and his group got busted for slow play. One shot penalty. Nice two. Yikes.

Via Kitsap News ...

Klein's threesome, which included Alex Church of Timonium, Md., and Andrew Bonner of Ripon, Calif., was warned for slow play. The players were clocked again at the fifth hole and they were all docked a stroke.

The three players appealed to USGA officials. Klein turned out to be the only player penalized, so his score of one became a two.

"It's a birdie," said the USGA's David Staebler, director of the Junior Amateur tournament, shrugging his shoulders.

Oh man. This story makes the old Doc Graves story (a friend of mine, btw, and a man that still stands by that decision so many years later) look like petty larceny.

My biggest problem with this story? As much as it pains me so so so much that this kid lost his ace because of slow play, as we say in golf parlance, "that is the rules." Sure, they might suck at times, and ruin a kid's day (or career), but we all know the rules on slow play, we all know that you get warned, and we all know that you then get put on the clock. If this kid continued to be this slow, it really is, sadly, his fault.

But boy oh boy, to lose an ace in a USGA event because of something like this? I wish he was 21 so I could buy him a beer. Connor has a Twitter account, but hasn't updated it since July 4. I'm surprised last night didn't force him to go pounding out curse words on the social site, but the better for him.

(Also, hats off to Klein ... kid made birdie on the next hole after finding out about this. I like that bounce-back. Instead of taking your frustration out on the officials, take it out on the course. A very important lesson to be learned there.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Darren Clarke Continues to Be More Likeable

Let's be honest ... if you or I were to somehow win the British Open, the first thing we'd do was drink anything from Shiner Bock to vinegar out of that Claret Jug. Taking down some alcohol out of that thing must be one of the career milestones of a golfer, and nothing can taste as good as that first drip of liquid flowing out of the most famous trophy in golf.

So what was Darren Clarke's first beverage out of Sir Claret? Nothing.

This is all according to the Belfast Telegraph (my favorite Belfast news source!), who said Clarke hasn't tossed anything back from the Jug because it just doesn't seem right.

“There’s been nothing in it overnight at all,” he explained. “I’m a little bit of a traditionalist. I love the thought of whatever being in the trophy but I’m a bit of 2-iron as opposed to rescue-that-sort-of-guy.

“I feel a bit funny about putting stuff in the Claret Jug that shouldn’t be in there, so I’m a bit more reserved as to what I should do,” added Clarke.

First things first ... I love the "2-iron as opposed to rescue-that-sort-of-guy," line. For years I prided myself on always being that 2-iron guy, up until I hit one of those TaylorMade r11 rescue clubs and realized how easy it was to pump something down the fairway without nearly breaking a knuckle.

I love Clarke's outlook and the way he approaches just about everything. The guy seems about as cool as they come, and it's nice to see one of those guys come out on top.

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Apparently Rory McIlroy Went to the Bubba Watson School Last Week

You all know Rory Mcilroy. Young, bright star. Winner of the U.S. Open. Favorite heading into Royal St. George's. Grew up playing links golf in Northern Ireland, where the wind blows and the rain soaks and bounces decide more results than grooves.

He is the poster boy for links golf these days, opening with a 63 a year ago at the Open Championship at the home of golf, St. Andrews, before getting beaten up by weather on Friday and finishing a few shots back of Louis Oosthuizen.

McIlroy played himself into positon this week, but couldn't do much over the weekend, eventually finishing tied for 25th. The reason? Because, it appears, nobody else was playing in the same weather he was. Those jerks!

This is what Rory said after his round on Sunday.

"I'm not a fan of golf tournaments that the outcome is predicted so much by the weather. It's not my sort of golf," he said.

Not your sort of golf?! Not your sort of golf?!? Would this be like Tiger Woods complaining about how far the new guys hit it? Padraig Harrington getting mad the bar only serves Guiness? Boo Weekley correcting someone's diction?!

No. No no no no no. You can have a bad week. Be disappointed about the way you played. Hate the golf course. All of those things, but a person from the UK can't talk about how wind and rain makes golf tougher. You need to lock that up, McIlroy. We like you. Don't make us change our minds.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Darren Clarke Wins a Deserving Open Championship

There are not many times that a sporting event can fulfill all of our wants and needs. Most of the time we're left wanting more, or wishing for a different outcome. I remember a year ago writing about the British Open that Louis Oosthuzien won and thinking just how I was going to make that interesting.

This one was different. Darren Clarke, a man just about every sports fan respects and admires, got himself into contention for this Open championship on Friday with a second round 68, and maintained it throughout the weekend, putting together a ball-striking clinic at Royal St. George's while rain and wind seemed to knock everyone else out of the way.

It's really tough to write about a guy like Clarke without thinking about all the personal stuff he's battled. Sure, we all go through things from time to time, but this was a public moment we watched when he teed it up at the K Club after his wife passed away from breast cancer, and for a guy that seems to always smile and enjoy life, you can't help but stand and applaud his incredible effort these four days in Sandwich.

Clarke doesn't play the prettiest golf. He isn't the best driver of the ball or an incredible iron-player. He's just a golfer that gets it done. One day he putted fantastically. The next he couldn't miss a green. Finally, he seemed to get the luck of the Irish, even if golf's recent luck was Northern Irish.

I loved watching this British Open, and Clarke was one of the main reasons. I've never met the guy in my life, and probably won't, but I feel like we have a lot in common for some reason. He seems like a guy I'd enjoy, and it's hard not to root for those type of people.

I think these types of wins really show why golf is so special. We all loved Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald before the week began. We rooted for Dustin Johnson and cheered for the Phil Mickelson rush on the front nine. It makes the game interesting.

But deep down, we all wanted Darren to win. It was a story like Tom Watson two years ago, except this time, Clarke gave himself the cushion he needed to bogey the last.

I must say, seeing him accept the Claret Jug was the highlight of 2011 for me. I hope it was the same for you.

More to come on this week tomorrow ...

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The Legend of Anthony Kim's Man-Mullet

There are times when things need to be discussed that have nothing to do with GIR percentage or stroke average. Anthony Kim's haircut is one of those times.

The dude's do is one of the things I'll remember from this British Open, so we might as well post some photos of his mighty mullet as he tees off with Phil Mickelson.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Final Round Full of Potential

People don't wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning to watch a bunch of golfers they don't care about. That's not what makes the British Open fun. What gets the alarm clocks going is 61-year-old past champions being the low man on the golf course, and a kid dressed in all white rain gear going lower than anyone else.

Sunday will give us all that, plus more. We have Lefty, Dustin, Rickie and Darren. So who to root for? Which is the best storyline?

Personally (and I know my dad is going to hate this), I'm rooting for Darren Clarke. The 42-year-old Northern Irishman (Ed. Note: What the hell are they putting in the Guinness up there? I'm half-expecting McIlroy's dad to contend in the next major.) is just all class, and no bull, and I love everything about him. I love the way he smiles on the golf course, and the fact that he said after the round that winning this would be a "lifetime dream." I like that him and Lucas Glover looked like they were, *gulp*, having fun on the golf course on Saturday. I love that he is just a man, and a man that doesn't try to be something else. Golfers are who they are, and although I don't mind going to the gym and think people should do whatever they want, it's nice to see a guy not mold into the Tiger cookie cutter.

And if isn't Darren, it can gladly be Dustin Johnson. The 27-year-old American posted a 68 on Saturday, and will be in the final group for the third time in his last five majors. He's due for a win, and maybe he can shake off this cold and past memories and just go out and do what seems to be natural to him.

But Rickie Fowler is there as well. He played some beautiful golf during some of the toughest conditions of the day, and is right there three shots back. If he wins, it would be our mate to the European's check of young studs.

I just love the whole leaderboard. I love Glover's mentality, enjoy Miguel Angel Jimenez's grace, appreciate the fighting effort of Phil Mickelson. I'd cheer for Anthony Kim, applaud Thomas Bjorn, and smile for Davis Love III.

It's going to be an exciting finish. Don't forget to set that alarm.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Third Round Tee Times are Going to be Great

Here are the tee times for Saturday at the Open, with highlights and commentary for the good ones.

1 – 08:55 – Matthew MILLAR -- Haha, dude has to play by himself! What a loser!!
2 – 09:05 – Paul LAWRIE – Gregory BOURDY
3 – 09:15 – Paul CASEY – KJ CHOI -- Aren't Casey and Choi basically the exact same player? From that mold of guys that wouldn't surprise you if they won a major, but also wouldn't surprise you if they missed the cut? It seems like a lot of guys are in that group these days, and yes, I'm looking at you Luke Donald.
4 – 09:25 – Ryan MOORE – Gary WOODLAND
5 – 09:35 – Simon KHAN – Gregory HAVRET
6 – 09:45 – Floris DE VRIES – Fredrik ANDERSSON HED
7 – 09:55 – Henrik STENSON – Edoardo MOLINARI
8 – 10:05 – Peter UIHLEIN – Bill HAAS
9 – 10:20 – Bo VAN PELT – Jung-Gon HWANG
10 – 10:30 – Ricky BARNES – Tom WATSON -- One dude was on the beach in California on Tuesday, while the closest the other has been to a beach in probably the last 30 years is the 12th tee at St. Andrews.
11 – 10:40 – Louis OOSTHUIZEN – Jim FURYK
12 – 10:50 – Justin ROSE – Trevor IMMELMAN
13 – 11:00 – Joost LUITEN – Mark WILSON
14 – 11:10 – Kenneth FERRIE – Harrison FRAZAR
15 – 11:20 – Richard McEVOY – Seung-Yul NOH -- If I was Richard's caddie, I'd just keep making "Tin Cup" jokes to Noh, because you know that dude has never seen the movie.
16 – 11:35 – Stewart CINK – Stephen GALLACHER
17 – 11:45 – Gary BOYD – Robert ALLENBY
18 – 11:55 – Bubba WATSON – Jason DAY -- Two very reserved, humble golfers. Nice to see them getting paired together so they can plot their way around the course not the least bit aggressively.
19 – 12:05 – Charles HOWELL III – Rory SABBATINI
20 – 12:15 – Richard GREEN – Raphael JACQUELIN
21 – 12:25 – Spencer LEVIN – Sergio GARCIA
22 – 12:35 – Rickie FOWLER – Rory McILROY -- Lord, I think Fowler spends more time with McIlroy than Holly Sweeney does.
23 – 12:50 – Yuta IKEDA – Simon DYSON
24 – 13:00 – Fredrik JACOBSON – Robert ROCK
25 – 13:10 – Webb SIMPSON – Steve STRICKER -- Two of my favorites on tour.
26 – 13:20 – Zach JOHNSON – YE YANG
27 – 13:30 – Anthony KIM – Kyle STANLEY
28 – 13:40 – Ryan PALMER – Jeff OVERTON
29 – 13:50 – Tom LEWIS – Phil MICKELSON
30 – 14:05 – Adam SCOTT – Anders HANSEN
31 – 14:15 – Dustin JOHNSON – George COETZEE -- I guarantee Johnson will mispronounce this dude's name all day long.
32 – 14:25 – Tom LEHMAN – Davis LOVE III -- Maybe they can talk about how much they miss "Golden Girls" being on the air?
33 – 14:35 – Charl SCHWARTZEL – Pablo LARRAZABAL
34 – 14:45 – Miguel Angel JIMENEZ – Thomas BJORN
35 – 14:55 – Martin KAYMER – Chad CAMPBELL
36 – 15:05 – Lucas GLOVER – Darren CLARKE

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Photo of the Day

I know absolutely nothing about who these kids are or what they're doing at the Open, but I do know that they love them some golfers, especially Bubba, Phil and Poulter.

That is your photo of the day, folks, and a reminder; if you have kids, make sure they wear cool shit like this and not some dopey shirt that says "Dad is my best bud."

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Miguel Angel Jimenez Auditions for Dancing With the Stars

On Friday, the great Dan Jenkins tweeted, "Miguel Angel Jimenez has a warm-up routine that would get a stripper arrested." It was funny by itself, but then we get the following video that the BBC showed of Jimenez warming up and you start to realized what prompted it.

I mean, wow. Just wow. Was that the Cupid Shuffle paired with the Hokey Pokey? Whatever it was, I want to try it ... with a cigar in my mouth.

Video: Tom Watson Adds Another Open Memory

That is 61-year-old Tom Watson's tee shot on the 6th hole at Royal St. George's. It is, without a doubt, one of the better shots and coolest reactions you'll ever see from a guy that is probably the best links golfer this country has ever seen.

Watson's ace was the second of the week, as Dustin Johnson was able to knock one in on Thursday.

For all your British Open updates, check us out on Twitter at @shanebacon.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Recapping the First Day of the Open

It was a fun, albeit strange, opening day at the Open Championship in Sandwich. Only two pre-tournament contenders found themselves in the top-18 on the opening day (Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer), and the leaderboard looked like if those ladies that always win March Madness pools had picked it. But the cool thing about the first day leaders is how many great stories there are. Here are a few of them ...

Thomas Bjorn, 5-under 65 -- One of the leaders after the first day was about as expected as a baby on that "Sixteen and Pregnant" show, considering this was the golf course that doomed him in the last time the Open was hosted here. Bjorn made a double-bogey on the 16th in 2003, and a bogey on 17 before a par on 18 left him a shot back of Ben Curtis, but on Thursday, he birdied 16 and made par on 17 on his way to a tidy 65 to put him as the top professional in the event. Why do I say "top professional"? Well ...

Tom Lewis, 5-under 65 -- A 20-year-old amateur kid with miles of bravado was paired with his namesake, Tom Watson, and didn't do a lot except post the lowest score in the history of the British Open. My favorite quote about Lewis (picture above) comes courtesy of James Corrigan's interview with him that posted the day before the event - ""I'm going to turn pro the day after the Walker Cup in September," he said. "Unless I win here." Lewis wasn't joking." Well then.

Darren Clarke, 2-under 68 -- Any story with Clarke playing well is a good one, because he's one of the most liked guys in the game, and it still seems to ache when you think about his wife, Heather, who passed away from breast cancer in 2006.

Ricky Barnes, 2-under 68 -- Probably the coolest story of the entire tournament is that of this fellow Wildcat, who said he was on a beach in California on Tuesday before finding out he was first alternate and deciding to fly 10 hours to England to see if he could get in the tournament. How did he get in? Nicolas Colsaerts out of Belgium got in a freak accident on a scooter while in the town of Sandwich, and couldn't make a golf swing, so Barnes found out Thursday morning he was in, and made the best of it.

And what about Lucas Glover? Well, he's in the hunt.

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Thursday's Fashion Glance at the Open Championship

People like to dress different. That's what we're going to examine each day here at DTCC. These are the best (And worst) looks at the Royal St. George's over the first round (and I will not touch on the hoodie by Ryan Moore again, but you can look at it right here).

I continue to love what Travis Mathews is putting out there, and none looks better than the simple looks like what Bubba Watson is wearing on Thursday. The French might hate him, but fashion gurus sure can't.

Probably the most talked about outfit of the day was Phil Mickelson's pants. My favorite comment was by Joe Ogilvie on Twitter.

The best comment on Rickie Fowler's Puma jacket came from the great Peter Allis, who said it, "appears he's been attacked by sea gulls."

I loved Padraig Harrington's cap, but that still didn't stop people from making the joke, "He probably won three majors wearing something else so decided to change."

I loved Lee Westwoods outfit. I loved the gang of Waldos more though.

I still think Graeme McDowell is the best dressed player in golf, and his simply addition of color to this ensemble proves my theory once again.

Come on, Martin. Happy Gilmore would kiss her where she asked.

Tom Watson is so Tom Watson, and his outfit on Thursday proved it. Dude is one of the few that can pull this look off.

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Video: Dustin Johnson Makes Ace at British Open

Here is the video of Dustin Johnson's ace on the 16th hole at the British Open on Thursday. He was 3-over standing on the 14th tee and went birdie-birdie-ace-birdie-bogey to finish even par. He did all this while I went to get a coffee ... wearing my Dustin Johnson hat.

You can send me the royalties for that ace, Dustin.

Yes Folks, That's a Hoodie at the British Open

I'm all for singularity, and standing out amongst your peers (hell, I got a bowtie in the mail yesterday). But the one thing I love about the Open Championship is the subtle outfits that even the loudest of players will sport. It's like Wimbledon in that sense; go insane all you want, but when you get to where the Claret Jug is resting, you go simple and classy.

Not I, said Ryan Moore. Dude is rocking a hoodie ("I call hoodies hoodles") on Thursday at Royal St. George's. That's a picture of it above!

Call me crazy, but I don't know if they'd let you on the course if you weren't a participant in this event. Old Tom Morris is probably just shaking his head right now.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Miguel Angel Jimenez Is Still the Coolest

I will let this picture ease you into the night, and get you excited for Thursday and the British Open.

I wrote why I think it's the best major of the year over at Yahoo!, so check that out, and be ready for Thursday by following me on Twitter as I'll be updating all week.


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Sergio Garcia Playing Better, Still Goofy

I'm starting to change my opinion on Sergio Garcia. When he hit the scene in '99, I liked him. Then he started whining and waggling and my love faded. But now I'm back, because I love a good career bounce-back story.

But no matter what, Sergio will forever be a goofy, goofy fellow, as we see above.

That said, would there be a bigger story out of Royal St. George's than this man winning the Open Championship? I don't think so.

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Here Are the Fives Guys That Will Win the British Open

We can sit here and try to pick a winner all day long for the Open Championship, starting, interestingly enough, in just a few hours. But that's impossible. Nobody really knows who will win. But I do think I can narrow it down to five guys, and then let those sticks battle it out for four days.

So here are the five names I think have the best shot at winning the Open Championship, in no particular order.

Graeme McDowell -- If it wasn't for a nine last week on the back nine during the Scottish Open, this guy might be my favorite to win it, but stuff like that can really rattle your emotions. That said, McDowell is gutsy, and plays well when the conditions aren't favorable, and that seems to be the word coming out of Sandwich. Windy, nasty, gross, you name it, Graeme can handle it.

Matt Kuchar -- I just feel like this guy is eventually going to bring his "A" game to a major, and what better time then now, after his putter change to that "under the armpit" format he's using? I like this guy a lot, and think he fits the mold of a major champion, so hopefully if an American can do it, it's this guy.

Y.E. Yang -- He took down Tiger when he was at his prime, now let's see him take down McIlroy after a major win.

Scott Jamieson -- Sure, you probably haven't heard of this guy, but the man went birdie-birdie on his final two holes at the Scottish Open to make it into the field at Royal St. George's. On top of that, he has two third place finishes in his last three events on the European Tour, so you know he's riding a wave of confidence before the week. Also, how boring are lists like this if I name five guys you've heard of?

Luke Donald -- Fine, this is my pick. He's coming off a win, he's due to win a major, and he's good. Like, really, really good. I like Luke.

But what about Lee Westwood? Check out his chances right here.

Now your picks?

An Impressive Rory McIlroy

There are times when I watch Rory McIlroy and have to remind myself that this kid, this would-be college student, is just 22-years-old. One of those times came on Tuesday, when McIlroy (finally!) arrived at Royal St. George's to the parade of cheers and questions and expectations and new life.

You see, before Congressional, McIlroy was famous. Now, the kid is famous in every sense of the word, and instead of deflated expectations, he has renewed, Tiger-esque expectations. The funny part? He welcomes those things. He likes them. He wants to be asked to save the world with a wedge and a divot tool. He enjoys the hype.

His press conference on Tuesday was different. His look was different. He had a pungency of arrogance about himself that the top athletes in the world need to take that next step, and while some might see that next step being his U.S. Open win, I see it as something more. I see it as multiple majors in the same season, and finally ending the conversation on who is really the best in the world (rankings be damned, by the way ... Rory wins another major in the next year, and he's the best in the world no matter what a computer says).

Do I think McIlroy is going to take home the Claret Jug this week? No, not really. He has taken a lot of time off from golf after the U.S. Open and it'll be a little bit of a different game out there this time around. But would it surprise me? Absolutely not. This is the kid that believes in himself more than anyone else believes in him, and that's what a next generation superstar needs to take that title from Tiger, who took it from Jack, who took it from Arnold.

Honestly, it's just easy to like the kid. He seems to do things the right way, and hopefully that continues to be the case. The worry always is how certain young celebrities will handle the idea of being so much larger than life, but Rory sure acts the part.

Thursday and Friday will tell us a lot about where his head is, though. I know I'm as excited to watch an individual play a major as I've been since those old Tiger days. Never thought I'd say that about someone from Northern Ireland.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Was Ben Curtis' win in 2003 Event a Fluke?

Here are some quick facts about the last time the Open Championship was played at Royal St. George's:

-- Ben Curtis won the event with rounds of 72-72-70-69.
-- Ben Curtis became the first man since Francis Ouimet at the 1913 U.S. Open to bag a major championship trophy in his first ever appearance in one of the big four events.
-- Ben Curtis was ranked 396th in the world, and his move to 35th after the win marked the highest move in the history of the rankings.
-- Nobody in the world had heard of Ben Curtis outside of his family and Kent State teammates before Sunday at the '03 Open.

But Curtis did what nobody else could do. He held it together for 72 holes on a tough-as-an-English-filet style golf course, and made a huge putt on the 18th green that I remember remarking to my dad that rolling that putt in could make things very interesting (and sure, he needed a Thomas Bjorn meltdown to do it, but name me a golfer, and I'll find you an example of him melting down in a major or something doing it so they could win).

And I'm sure after his win you figured you'd never see his face again, and nobody in the world would have doubted that. It was a great story for those that love this sport, and it showed once again that golf is such a different test because the Charlotte Bobcats aren't going to win the NBA Championship next season no matter what aliens came down and stole our best players, but in golf, a guy like Curtis can win the biggest tournament in the world as a complete unknown.

But Curtis isn't some hack, and he isn't some one-hit wonder. There have been a lot less talented people to win majors, and by that, I mean Michael Campbell (sorry buddy). There have been names that have won tournaments and never won another event (Shaun Micheel is a good example of this).

Curtis isn't those guys. He's won two other tournaments since that British, he's finished second at another major championship, and he's made a Ryder Cup team. He might not be the perfect example of a major champion, but he sure isn't some hack that we should write off. Too many times we are all searching for the next great champion and it's easy to forget about the fun ones, like Curtis. A kid that comes into an event that he probably didn't even expect to win flying home (in coach I'm assuming) with the Claret Jug held tightly in his arms because he handled the conditions the best and he was the champion over everyone else.

I like those stories. They're different and unique to this game. Just remember when you're watching the British this week that Curtis stalked these links eight years ago a champion, and a well-deserving one at that.

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2011 British Open Odds (And Picks)

So the 2011 British Open odds are nearly finalized, and they're below, courtesy of Bodog. As always, the bets I like are in bold.

Rory McIlroy 13/2
Luke Donald 11/1
Lee Westwood 11/1
Martin Kaymer 22/1
Sergio Garcia 28/1
Steve Stricker 28/1

Graeme McDowell 28/1
Jason Day 33/1
Nick Watney 33/1
K.J. Choi 33/1
Padraig Harrington 40/1
Phil Mickelson 40/1
Retief Goosen 40/1
Matt Kuchar 40/1
Charl Schwartzel 40/1
Dustin Johnson 40/1
Justin Rose 40/1
Angel Cabrera 50/1
Adam Scott 50/1
Paul Casey 50/1
Ernie Els 50/1
Ian Poulter 50/1
Henrik Stenson 66/1
Ross Fisher 66/1
Robert Karlsson 66/1
Hunter Mahan 66/1
Matteo Manassero 66/1
Fredrik Jacobson 66/1
Rickie Fowler 66/1
Peter Hanson 66/1
Francesco Molinari 66/1
Louis Oosthuizen 66/1
Y-E Yang 66/1
Stewart Cink 80/1
Jim Furyk 80/1
Bubba Watson 80/1
Zach Johnson 80/1
Geoff Ogilvy 80/1
Alvaro Quiros 80/1
Robert Rock 100/1
Bo Van Pelt 100/1
Jeff Overton 100/1
Robert Allenby 100/1
Martin Laird 100/1
Edoardo Molinari 100/1
Brandt Snedeker 100/1
Simon Dyson 100/1
Charles Howell III 100/1
Brian Davis 125/1
Chad Campbell 125/1
Ryan Moore 125/1
Aaron Baddeley 125/1
Chad Campbell 125/1
Darren Clarke 150/1
Nicolas Colsaerts 150/1
Ben Curtis 150/1
Bill Haas 150/1
Anders Hansen 150/1
Trevor Immelman 150/1
Ryo Ishikawa 150/1
Paul Lawrie 150/1
Steve Marino 150/1
Webb Simpson 150/1
Thomas Aiken 150/1
Davis Love III 150/1
Jonathan Byrd 150/1
Ben Crane 150/1
J.B. Holmes 150/1
Miguel Jimenez 150/1
Anthony Kim 150/1
Alexander Noren 150/1
Sean O’Hair 150/1
Ryan Palmer 150/1
Camilo Villegas 150/1
Mark Wilson 175/1
Gary Woodland 175/1
Gregory Bourdy 175/1
George Coetzee 175/1
Rhys Davies 175/1
Lucas Glover 175/1
Richard Green 175/1
Pablo Larrazabal 175/1
Spencer Levin 175/1
Tom Lewis 200/1
Thorbjorn Olesen 200/1
Rory Sabbatini 200/1
Scott Jamieson 200/1
Fredrik A. Hed 200/1

Jason Dufner 200/1
Gregory Havret 200/1
Charley Hoffman 200/1
Raphael Jacquelin 200/1
KT Kim 200/1
Joost Luiten 200/1
Justin Leonard 200/1
Peter Whiteford 200/1
Danny Willett 200/1
Alejandro Canizares 250/1
Harrison Frazar 250/1
Stephen Gallacher 250/1
Robert Garrigus 250/1
Thongchai Jaidee 250/1
Seung-yul Noh 250/1
Kevin Na 250/1
Kevin Streelman 250/1
Kyle Stanley 250/1
Simon Khan 250/1
Graeme Storm 250/1
Gary Boyd 300/1
Markus Brier 300/1
Nathan Green 300/1
Todd Hamilton 300/1
Tetsuji Hiratsuka 300/1
Yuta Ikeda 300/1
Jerry Kelly 300/1
Tom Lehman 300/1
Tom Watson 300/1
Mark Calcavecchia 300/1
John Daly 300/1
David Duval 300/1
Kenneth Ferrie 400/1
Hiroyuki Fujita 400/1
Bernhard Langer 400/1
SM Bae 400/1
Kurt Barnes 500/1
Bob Estes 500/1
Hiroo Kawai 500/1
Brad Kennedy 500/1
Prayad Marksaeng 500/1
Richard Mcevoy 500/1
Bryden Macpherson 500/1
Francis McGuirk 500/1

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Hank Haney Hates America

Just a day after Americans had their most America day since July 4 (thanks soccer ladies!), Hank Haney decided to tarnish the red, white and blue.

Okay, so maybe that's a bit much. He didn't burn a flag or anything, but he did say what a lot of people are thinking to The Scotsman. He said he doesn't think an American has a chance at Royal St. George's.

"I will be totally surprised if an American wins the Open this week," Haney said. "I expect one of the top European players to win at Sandwich.

"In the past, when Americans did win the Open it was invariably because we simply had better players. But that isn't the case any more. Now, the Europeans have more talent. So it will be a pretty large upset if an American does win this week. I mean, what do we have, six players in the top 15?"

Okay, so, yeah, I think Haney has a point. The American contingent heading to the Open is weaker than it's ever been, but I'll say this; who the heck knows who is going to win this thing? Remember the last time it was there an American named Ben Curtis walked away with the Claret Jug, so it isn't exactly like people from the United States should jump on the next British Airways flight back home.

The thing is, these days nobody knows who is going to win. Sure, Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy have won two of the last four majors, but so has Louis Oosthuzien and Charl Schwartzel, and you would have had a better chance at spelling both those last names correctly on your first try than picking either of them to win.

So, yeah, the Americans are definitely weaker, but it isn't like they couldn't win. We'll just have to wait and see.

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Your First Round British Open Tee Times

Here are the British Open tee times for Thursday, converted to Eastern time for all you crazy folks.

1:30 a.m. Jerry KELLY; Nathan GREEN; Danny WILLETT
1:41 a.m. Thongchai JAIDEE; Mark CALCAVECCHIA; Graeme STORM
1:52 a.m. Gregory HAVRET; Charley HOFFMAN; Markus BRIER
2:03 a.m. Todd HAMILTON; Simon KHAN; Prayad MARKSAENG
2:14 a.m. Rhys DAVIES; Fredrik JACOBSON; Mark O'MEARA
2:25 a.m. Vijay SINGH; Simon DYSON; Gary WOODLAND
2:36 a.m. KT KIM; Ryan MOORE; Alvaro QUIROS
2:47 a.m. Bo VAN PELT; KJ CHOI; Martin LAIRD
2:58 a.m. Stephen GALLACHER; Bill HAAS; Hiroyuki FUJITA
3:09 a.m. Geoff OGILVY; Peter UIHLEIN; Miguel Angel JIMENEZ
3:20 a.m. Francesco MOLINARI; Tetsuji HIRATSUKA; Stewart CINK
3:31 a.m. Nick WATNEY; Matteo MANASSERO; Angel CABRERA
3:42 a.m. Yuta IKEDA; Ian POULTER; Dustin JOHNSON
3:58 a.m. Ben CURTIS; Paul CASEY; Aaron BADDELEY
4:09 a.m. Ernie ELS; Rory McILROY; Rickie FOWLER
4:20 a.m. Luke DONALD; Ryo ISHIKAWA; Sergio GARCIA
4:31 a.m. Retief GOOSEN; Hunter MAHAN; Anders HANSEN
4:42 a.m. Brian DAVIS; Camilo VILLEGAS; David DUVAL
4:53 a.m. John DALY; Ross FISHER; Peter HANSON
5:04 a.m. Gregory BOURDY; Jason DUFNER; Craig HINTON
5:15 a.m. Alexander NOREN; Paul LAWRIE; Kevin NA
5:26 a.m. Sean O'HAIR; Seung-Yul NOH; Thorbjorn OLESEN
5:37 a.m. Simon EDWARDS; Bob ESTES; Richard McEVOY
5:48 a.m. Francis McGUIRK; Matthew MILLAR; Kevin STREELMAN
5:59 a.m. Mark LASKEY; Thomas SHADBOLT; Rick KULACZ
6:10 a.m. Simon LILLY; Chris TIDLAND; Neil SCHIETEKAT
6:31 a.m. Peter WHITEFORD; Spencer LEVIN; Thomas AIKEN
6:42 a.m. Prom MEESAWAT; Martin MARITZ; Harrison FRAZAR
6:53 a.m. Chad CAMPBELL; Kenneth FERRIE; Scott JAMIESON
7:04 a.m. Raphael JACQUELIN; Mark WILSON; Kyle STANLEY
7:15 a.m. Steve MARINO; Richard GREEN; Pablo LARRAZABAL
7:26 a.m. Rory SABBATINI; Sandy LYLE; Anthony KIM
7:37 a.m. Edoardo MOLINARI; Charles HOWELL III; Joost LUITEN
7:48 a.m. Brandt SNEDEKER; Lucas BJERREGAARD; Trevor IMMELMAN
7:59 a.m. Darren CLARKE; Jonathan BYRD; YE YANG
8:10 a.m. Lucas GLOVER; Hiroo KAWAI; Robert KARLSSON
8:21 a.m. Bryden MACPHERSON; Matt KUCHAR; Padraig HARRINGTON
8:32 a.m. Zach JOHNSON; Adam SCOTT; Justin ROSE
8:43 a.m. Graeme McDOWELL; Jason DAY; Bubba WATSON
8:59 a.m. Jim FURYK; Bernhard LANGER; Tadahiro TAKAYAMA
9:21 a.m. Louis OOSTHUIZEN; Martin KAYMER; Phil MICKELSON
9:32 a.m. Henrik STENSON; Tom LEWIS; Tom WATSON
9:43 a.m. Robert ALLENBY; Davis LOVE III; Fredrik ANDERSSON HED
9:54 a.m. Nicolas COLSAERTS; JB HOLMES; SM BAE
10:05 a.m. Webb SIMPSON; Robert ROCK; Alejandro CANIZARES
10:16 a.m. Kurt BARNES; Justin LEONARD; Jeff OVERTON
10:27 a.m. Lee CORFIELD; Ben CRANE; Floris DE VRIES
10:38 a.m. Ryan PALMER; Tom LEHMAN; Adam WOOTTON
10:49 a.m. Jung-Gon HWANG; Gary BOYD; Robert GARRIGUS
11:00 a.m. George COETZEE; Andy SMITH; Brad KENNEDY
11:11 a.m. Jason KNUTZON; Andrew JOHNSTON; Chih-Bing LAM

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Tiger, The Golf Channel, And The Strangeness of the No-Interview

Late Sunday evening, when I was putting the finishing touches on my post over at Yahoo! about the Tiger Woods announcement set for Monday morning, I got an e-mail from an editor. He simply asked, "Isn't this a bit strange?"

Yes. Of course. Absolutely. But that's the life of Tiger these days. Come out with some strange announcement the week of a major championship you're not even playing in, and then cancel it the next day and act like we media folks are the crazy ones.

What really happened here? Nobody knows for sure. The interview itself seemed strange, because the only BIG news Tiger would be announcing is the fact that he's taking the rest of the year off, and that seems like a Twitter/ type of thing anyway. But maybe it was something bigger. Maybe it was something that his camp called off.

Nobody will ever know. Tiger's camp stays more locked up than a nun's bedroom, and if he decides to shut up on something, it is shut up on, but the whole thing just seemed weird.

But, let's get back to real golf now, shall we? It's British Open week for heaven's sake.

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