Monthly Archives: April 2008

Byron Nelson Round 3 Recap

Adam Scott is playing well. His swing looks as Tiger-esque as ever and he seems to be steering the ball around the tight launch corridors of the newly renovated TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas course in Irving, Texas quite well. His three-shot will be enough for him to win today. The course is playing too difficult for anyone to catch Scott.

A few things surprised me about the Tournament:

1) The course was really green.

I had only seen pictures of the course from pre-tournament when the fairways looked to be as hard as the runways at DFW and the was more brown grass than green. The course looks great, and consequently, makes for great TV viewing.

2) The players were bombing it.

The telecast followed Ryan Moore and Adam Scott for most of the afternoon. They were just punishing the golf ball. Guys were reaching a par five with short irons. Fun to watch after what the Masters gave us.

Despite the long bombs, this Championship is turning out to be one of the toughest tests of golf of the year. What used to be thought of as a birdie extravaganza is now playing as tough as a Major. You just don’t see eight under leading at a typical PGA Tour event after 54 holes. 18 maybe, but not 54.

3) Sergio Garcia is in the Hunt?

Sergio shot the second lowest round of the tournament yesterday – a 65 – despite hitting only two of thirteen fairways. It would be nice to see him regain some confidence via results. He’s taken quite beating since his immature actions after losing the 2007 British Open.

With that said, if Sergio is in the hunt at four under, then a heap of other guys are too:

Bart Bryant, Kevin Southerland (no relation to “24″ star Kiefer), Charley Hoffman, and Ryan Moore are all tied at five under.

Sergio Garcia, Dudley Hart, and Jesper Parnevik are at four under.

The best Scott may have to do to win today is shoot one or two under. It’s going to take a great round on a tough final day from one of the other guys to catch up to him.

One Shot to Impress

Imagine that you are in the following situations with only one swing – one shot – a single attempt to impress. What shot do you hit?

Your significant other is watching you hit balls on the range for the first time?

You’re on the first tee with your potential boss. He just duffed it.
Modest 2 iron

Tiger Woods, strolling by casually, is watching. He needs a pro-am partner.
Smooth 6 iron.

You are leading by one at THE PLAYERS Championship teeing off on 18.
Hard driver.

Your golf pro starts hitting balls next to you on the range.
Smooth 7 iron.

Your best ball partner shows up after you talked up your (rusty) game all week at the office.
Hit the putting green!

Phil Mickelson shows up at the practice green next to you and starts hitting flop shots.
A higher flop shot!

You’re having a chipping contest with your dad in the back yard.
Low sand wedge.

It’s interesting to think of when you want to impress, show off skill, or ensure a solid shot. What would you do in these situations? Do you have any good ones of your own?

EDS Byron Nelson Championship’s Many Names

Episode #2 of The Yug Show was filmed yesterday, but due to technical difficulties I wasn’t able to post it. Here are the show notes:

Good morning, golf fans. It’s Wednesday, April 23 and this is the Yug Show with Chris Rogers. The EDS Byron Nelson Championship starts tomorrow. It is the PGA Tour’s eighth longest running event going all the way back to WWII 1944. When Byron Nelson won the inaugural iteration of this event, it was titled the Texas Victory Open. Personally, I would rather win something by that name than the current one. I’m sure the money is better now, though!

Since Nelson’s victory in 1944, the tournament has had the following names:

* Dallas Open
* Dallas Invitational
* Dallas Centennial Open
* Texas International Open
* Dallas Open Invitational
* Byron Nelson Golf Classic — In 1968 the tournament was the first PGA Tour event to be named after a professional golfer.
* GTE Byron Nelson Golf Classic
* GTE Byron Nelson Classic
* Verizon Byron Nelson Classic
* CURRENT: EDS Byron Nelson Championship

I can just imagine the tournament organizers sitting in a room for hours debating whether Open or Invitation should come first in the name. Whether it should be a Classic or a Championship. Classic, of course, has a retro air to it. Championship clearly not retro, but rather more weighty.

After all of this, the current sponsors are upset with their position in the PGA Tour schedule, which isn’t drawing the top players. They’re threatening to withdraw their sponsorship.

So, who will the next sponsor be if EDS bails?

Surely the title will have Byron Nelson in it. But Classic or Championship? Open or Invitational? What about the Byron Nelson Open Invitational Classic Championship?

I’ll preview the actual tournament and players tomorrow morning. Swing hard and putt well.

Lorena Ochoa – A New Tiger?

There has been a lot of discussion recently regarding Lorena Ochoa’s dominance of the LPGA Tour and claims that she is the next Tiger Woods.

The Streaks

Lorena Ochoa has won four tournaments in a row on the LPGA Tour. Just this past weekend, she shot four rounds in the sixties for a nineteen under total of 296 at the Ginn Open. That was good enough for a three-shot win. She’s also finished second, first, first in her last three Major championships.

Tiger Woods’ win at the 2008 Arnold Palmer Invitational was his sixth worldwide win in a row, however these wins did not come in consecutive weeks. In fact, only his end of 2007 wins in the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship were back-to-back. Further, Tiger’s Major finished for the past year have been second, second, twelfth, first, second.

Time Will Tell

There is no doubt that Lorena is red hot right now and has had more recent success than Tiger, but only time will tell if she truly is the next Tiger Woods or Annika Sorenstam.

What would make Ochoa an instant household name is success on the PGA Tour. No matter how you slice it, the PGA Tour is the dominant grounds of professional golf competition. Michelle Wie’s attempts to make a PGA Tour cut are evidence of this. When Ochoa tees it up in a PGA Tour event, makes a cut, and wins we can start calling her the next Tiger Woods. Until then, she’s the next Annika.

Boo Wins Verizon Heritage

In case you haven’t seen, heard or read, Boo Weekley won the Verizon Heritage by three shots. The final leaderboard showed Boo at -15 with Anthony Kim and Aaron Baddeley tied for second at -12. There was no one close to Boo on Sunday, and despite being put on the clock for slow play on the 10th hole, he won the winners share of $990,000 and 4500 FedEX Cup points.

More entertaining than yesterday’s final round are the headlines titling the win. So far, I’ve seen:

* Boo Boo (link)
* Back-to-Back Boo (link)
* Boo Week
* Boo Knows Hilton Head (link)
* True Boo (link)

Boo’s Huntin’ For A Win

“Thomas Brent “Boo” Weekley … is a fat guy who plays on the PGA Tour.” (Wikipedia) How eloquent.

Boo is stepping into the role from which John Daly has so ungraciously exited – that of the blue collar golfer who is more NASCAR fan and full-time sportsman (the fishing and hunting kind) than elitist golfer. The golf course is just a job that keeps him away from his family and fishing rod.

There’s no doubt he is an exceptional player. He has played in the last four Majors and made the cut in every one. He won the Verizon Heritage last year after chipping in twice in a row, and is looking at a repeat victory this year. Boo is leading by three going into the final round of the this years Verizon Heritage. With only one bogey in his last 40 holes and rounds of 64 and 65, his chances to successfully defend look solid.

Tiger Woods Succumbs to the Utah Blade

Not really. But he did have arthroscopic knee surgery.

My only question is, would he have had the surgery if he won the Masters?

The knee has been bothering him since the middle of last year. Obviously he didn’t want to have it during the month he took off leading up to the Masters. Why not during his longest break from competitive golf?

Was he worried about his performance in the unofficial Tiger Woods Challenge?

Could he not get an appointment until this week?

Masters’ Leftovers

Masters’ Leftovers

John Feinstein lets us know that “Golf Will Survive without a Major from Woods.”

Trevor Immelman does the Top 10 on The Late Show with David Letterman:

Geoff Shackelford excerpts from Golf World and The Times highlighting that the general consensus is that Augusta National “has become all about playing defensively and minimizing damage.”

My two cents — The Masters is boring now. There’s no movement. There are far too few opportunities on the back nine to perpetuate the foregone fact and now legend that “it all comes down to the back nine on Sunday at the Masters.”

Jay Coffin brags of his round at Augusta National on Monday after the Masters.

Patricia of Golf Girl’s Diary shares Brandt Snedeker’s snicker’s cocktail.

Golf Digest’s Bill Fields wraps up pretty much everything else having to do with this years’ Masters.

Geoff Shackelford excerpts Steve Elling’s “There’s more scoring in soccer.”

Seems like if the Masters wants to remain the April darling that it always was, something needs to change — fast. It’s nice to see the little guys win every so often, but not every year at the Masters. And certainly not without a heroic battle on the back nine of Augusta National.

THE PLAYERS is the Next Major

Some will have you believe that the next scheduled Major for the 2008 PGA Tour season is the U.S. Opon at Torrey Pines in San Diego, California. It’s not.

THE PLAYERS Championship is the perennial “fifth-major.” I’m using this post to make it official, as it clearly should be.

The Purse — It has the largest purse of the season at $9,000,000 with $1,700,000 going to the winner. The field is stronger than in any other tournament all year.

The Field — It has the strongest and purest field. The Masters is notorious for it’s small field. Qualifiers and unwilling travelers dilute the fields at the U.S. and British Opens. Same for the PGA Championship with PGA teaching pros taking up spots.

Fan Factor — Besides having a huge purse and top-notch field, the TPC Sawgrass is the single most exciting tournament to watch either live or on TV. The course is designed for spectators. And the par-three 17th hole with the island green followed by the 18th with water up the left is an impressive finishing stretch. There is risk-reward around every dogleg on the TPC Sawgrass.

What does this mean? Tiger Woods has another major, which puts him at 14. More importantly this adds three to Jack Nicklaus’ total of 18. He’s got 21 now. Get a move on Tiger. Numerous other golfers now have a major. Congratulations, guys!

The U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship have nothing on THE PLAYERS — except maybe that they’re official majors. I’m changing that, though. By Yugflog standards, there are five majors now.

Post-Masters Blues

The only things left from the 2008 Masters are a few highlights and some half-hearted coverage on the golf channel.

The final round was plain and simple. The leader backed up and no one wanted it badly enough to make up the difference. Brandt Snedeker’s disappointment was made too clear by his weeping during the news conference. He couldn’t explain his emotions, and many won’t understand. But I would imagine the pressure of leading or being near the lead was increasingly suppressed. Smiles on the course in the face of good and bad breaks come at a cost.

Trevor Immelman played as well as he needed to. If he hadn’t hit the ball in the water on the par 3 16th hole, I would have been able to stand by his win and say that it’s what was supposed to happen. However, that’s not the case. Instead of him winning the Masters, everyone else lost it. Snedeker, Flesch, Casey, and Woods could have walked away with the tournament. All but Woods backed up with miserable rounds on Sunday.

You win some, you’re handed some. There’s no doubt that Immelman worked hard to fulfill his dream of winning the Masters. It’s a fact that someone had to walk away the winner on Sunday. But, as a viewer, fan and participant in the game of golf, I was hoping for more… excitement… tenacity… drama.

Masters 2008 Final Round Liveblog

Liveblogging the final round of the 2008 Masters from my living room. Can Immelman hold on to win his first major? Can Tiger charge? Will Phil implode further? These questions and more will be answers. Stay tuned!

11:03 — OK, I’m going to get breakfast. Will resume when more players are on the course.

11:00 — Heath Slocum and K.J. Choi have completed their first hole. K.J. was one of my favorites this week, but I think we’ve learned that the course is too long for him.

10:58 — The weather forecast for Augusta, GA is high of 67* and windy.

10:56 — Sandy Lyle birdies hole two to get back to nine over par.

10:45 — Sandy Lyle is the only player on the course. He bogeys number one.

The Masters Round Four Preview

Early Bird

Round four begins at 10:35am when 1988 Masters champion Sandy Lyle tees off by himself. With no one in his way, he should be able to finish before the leaders tee off at 2:25pm. Despite finishing last, it would be nice to get the final round out of the way early and kick your feet up to watch the part of the tournament that actually matters. I wonder if he’ll watch.

Phil Fades

Phil Mickelson, who had been dubbed the “true leader” after the second round, decided he didn’t want to win after about fifteen holes today when he missed a four-foot birdie on 15 and double bogeyed 16. Look for more of the same from him tomorrow as he pushes to make up ground early.

Youth Challenges

Youth has led the tournament for three rounds now. Can it hold up on Sunday?

That Trevor Immelman and Brandt Snedeker are paired together again will only be a positive if they are both playing well. If one of them tightens up under the final-round pressure, then the other is going to be dragged down. Their post-round interviews were impressive. Neither player admitted to being bothered by the pressure of leading the Masters.

We’ll see if their play tomorrow is as smooth as their talk.

Woods’ Chances

Tiger Woods has to blitz the front nine, dominate Amen Corner and catch a few lucky breaks on the closing holes to have chance. Even then, Immelman is going to have to back up for Tiger to have a chance. The lowest round this week was a 67 shot by Steve Flesch on Friday. The lowest final round ever shot at the Masters is 64. Shooting that would put Tiger at -13. If he gets there, he wins. Anything short of that and say goodbye to the Grand Slam for 2008.

Why Tiger Woods Has No Chance

If anyone other than Tiger Woods was six shots behind with one round to play, they would not be considered to be in contention. However, when it comes to Tiger, six shots might as well be one shot according to the mainstream media. Why? Because in-contention Tiger means better ratings and more reads. It does not mean he has a chance to win.

What doesn’t align with the media hype is that Tiger has never come from behind at the Masters to win. Tiger’s 54-hole lead in the years he has won the Masters:

2005 – Three shots ahead of Chris DiMarco
2002 – Tied with Retief Goosen
2000 – One shot ahead of Phil Mickelson
1997 – Nine shots ahead of Constantino Rocca

It’s clear that Tiger wins when he’s even or ahead, but even when presented with the chance to catch the leaders from only one or two shots back, he has not capitalized.

Tiger’s round today may have been a glimpse of hope in an otherwise shadowy recent past at Augusta. It was his first round under 70, and his second under par in two years of competition. To find his last round in the sixties, you would have to look back as far as the third round of 2005 when he posted a flawless 65. Unfortunately for Tiger and the mainstream media, hope does not guarantee a miracle, and that’s what it will take for Woods to overcome a six-shot deficit on Sunday at the Masters.

Tiger said it best on Thursday:

You don’t really shoot low rounds here anymore.

Why Golf is the Best of All Games

In a letter written to Owen Fiss by philosopher John Rawls about a conversation he had with Harry Kalven, Rawls highlights six reasons why baseball is the best of all games. Here are the reasons offered and why golf may just be a better game.

First: “The rules of the game are in equilibrium.”

This is a difficult point to dispute in favor of golf because of the increased distance and performance provided by high tech golf equipment. Whereas in baseball, a wooden bat and leather ball are standard year-to-year and decade-to-decade. The advancement of golf equipment is out-pacing many of the courses (for professionals).

Second: “The game does not give unusual preference or advantage to special physical types.”

With the steroid controversy looming over Major League Baseball, there seems to be some concern that “bigger IS better.” Power is becoming a dominating factor in both baseball and golf, however, for golf pure power is less of an advantage than in baseball. Power in golf is only one element of moving the ball from point A to point B. Directional control is equally important, and much harder to master.

Thus, the game of golf gives less of an advantage to special physical types, although it does favor power.

Third: “The game uses all parts of the body.”

I’ve heard people all my life tell me that golf is not a sport. People have their reasons for saying this, including that there isn’t enough movement, no physical contact, and rarely do golfers break a sweat unless the temperature is high.

Golf is the most athletic of games. The ability to strike a golf ball solidly is almost as or as difficult as hitting a baseball thrown by a pitcher at 90 MPH. Only when the golf swing is viewed in slow motion do you realize just how involved every part of the body is. Look at a professional players’ impact position. It’s very athletic looking.

Fourth: “All plays of the game are open to view.”

Baseball is a clear winner in this category. No matter if you are watching golf on TV or live in person, you will not see every shot on the course or even every shot of a single player.

The suspense in golf is built shot by shot over four days until the Sunday roars weigh heavy on the players walking the course. Nothing is in view, and that is part of the excitement.

Fifth: “Baseball is the only game where scoring is not done with the ball, and this has the remarkable effect of concentrating the excitement of plays at different points of the field at the same time.”

Every player’s ball has the potential to change the outcome of the tournament. Unlike basketball or football, the focus isn’t on a single ball. Like baseball, there are multiple points of focus that may or may not be simultaneously altering the outcome of the competition.

Sixth: “There is the factor of time, the use of which is a central part of any game. Baseball shares with tennis the idea that time never runs out, as it does in basketball and football and soccer.”

Like baseball, there is no factor of time in golf. In certain golf formats, E.g., matchplay, time can be a strategic tool. In both baseball and golf the viewer and players know what marks the end, but don’t necessarily know when it will come. The advantage of the lack of time is that more focus is placed on the actual play than on working against time.

Two great games.

The Masters Round Two

The Cut

The cut came a three over par, which leaves a lot of big players out of weekend play. Ernie Els’ coaching switch from David Leadbetter to Butch Harmon wasn’t enough to keep Ernie in contention this week. Sergio Garcia continues to search for his competitive spirit and once-superb shot-making abilities. Both missed the cut by one shot.

Freddie Couples has made the cut every one of the 23 years he’s played the Masters. That streak came to an end today when he, too, missed by one. He will share the cuts made streak with Gary Player, who broke records of his own this week.

As previously mentioned, Gary Player set the record for most consecutive Masters played in at 51. One more than Arnold Palmer, who opted for the honorary starter position this year.

My prediction for the player to break the 23 consecutive cuts made streak is Tiger Woods. He’s at 11 and counting. Though he never plays well the first two days at Augusta, he doesn’t shoot himself out of the tournament, either. If and when Tiger breaks this record, he’ll be 44 years old.

Almost Moving Day

Saturday is usually moving day, but there were quite a few solid scores today. Leader Trevor Immelmen posted another four under par 68. Other low rounds include Steve Flesch shooting the low round of the tournament, a five under 67. Others posting second rounds of 68 include Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker, and Mike Weir.

Saturday is Moving Day

Tiger Woods has the most to lose on Saturday. He’s at one under par for the tournament and seven back of the leaders. He needs to get off to an early start and finish within three or four of the leaders. The largest 36-hole comeback was Jackie Burk from eight back in 1956.

If Woods can’t make the charge, my money is on Mickelson come Sunday.

I’m looking forward to the extended coverage tomorrow and Sunday. Who do you think will win?