Spring Semster: Masters Week

School is as busy as ever, but the end is in sight. I am preparing for a team negotiation in Copyright Licensing. My team is representing a website developer who has been contracted by a small toy company. The essence of the project is to negotiate and come to an agreement on the controlling contract.

My final Judicial Opinion Drafting order is due one week from yesterday. I am writing as the Supreme Court of New Hampshire deciding whether the Superior Court erred in affirming a Department of Labor decision to award wages and liquidated damages to a peeved former employee who was denied her previous-year’s bonus when she left her job as an insurance agent with a small family insurance company for a larger insurance company. I’ll spend the weekend doing this, but at least I’ll be mostly done with one of my five classes.

Nothing much else notable regarding school work. Four of five of my classes have take-home finals. Most of my exam weeks will be spent writing documents from home, which should be less stressful than the typical “cram-dump” exam routine.

Barrister’s Ball is this weekend. I didn’t get tickets, and the only ones available are going for 100 to 200% above face value. It would be fun to go, but partaking in law-prom ranks quite low for me.

Putting all of the work in perspective is my anticipation of The Masters broadcast this weekend. This is by far my favorite golf tournament of the year to watch on TV. I’m hoping Tiger Woods makes a run for the green jacket, but that the contest is close. Who do you think will win?

Tiger Returns

Tiger Woods returns to the PGA Tour today and tees off at 2:02p. I have been looking forward to his return for months. The PGA Tour is just not the same without him – either because he draws interest or people just want to be interested in him.

From what I’ve seen and heard on the Golf Chanel and ESPN, it looks like he’s ready. The commentators are professing that they’ll be surprised if Woods doesn’t win. I feel the same way. Last time he took a break to fix the knee, he won… The 2008 U.S. Open! A couple years before that, when he took time to drain the knee, he returned and won at Torrey Pines.

The choice to return in a match play tournament was a wise one. Match play is a different beast than stroke play. Unlike stroke play, match play allows you to have a bad hole and not have to dig your way out of it stroke by stroke. If Tiger is at all inconsistent, he’ll appreciate the chance to throw away a few holes. Further, unlike stroke play, match play is more emotional. Tiger can better scrap out a win against a feisty opponent. Finally, if Woods is ousted early he’ll be disappointed, but no to the degree of a missed cut.

There’s a lot to watch for today at the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship. And when it’s done we’ll still get to look forward to Tiger’s stroke play debut. Bam. Bam. Boom!

My bracket for this tournament.

Lions and Tiger(s) and Wolverines, Oh My!

Forgive the title, I couldn’t resist.

The Lions won. The Tigers won. U of M won (finally). Tiger Woods won (easily), which meant the most exciting thing about the final tournament of the FedEx cup was finding out about the hidden arrow in the FedEx logo. Go ahead, look and see.

The Sylvania 300 was raced (Is that the lingo racing fans?) at the New Hampshire Int’l Speedway, which is fifteen minutes from where I live. The fans that didn’t (couldn’t? Do these things sell out?) get to see the race set up folding chairs on highway overpasses and watched the traffic driving south on I-93. They were watching me drive! I tried to give them a good show – a good clean lane switch. I overtook a Ford Focus in masterly fashion.

O.J. Simpson was arrested on a self-directed “sting-operation.”

The guy who bought Barry Bonds’ 756th home run baseball is asking the public what to do with it at vote756.com. There are three options: (1) send the ball to the hall of fame, (2) iron an asterisk onto the ball and send it to the hall of fame, or (3) banish the ball to outer space.

I don’t care about anything else that happened.

THE PLAYERS Playoff Was Lacking

The 17th hole at the TPC of Sawgrass is the worst golf hole in the world on which to start a sudden death playoff.

It’s not just that there is no room for error. It’s that there is no room for uncontrollable externalities such as wind, rub of the green, or timing.

Paul Goydos hit his ball in the water because a gust of wind caused it to upshoot. On almost any other golf hole in the world, he would have had a chip. Or, if the hole had an area to bail-out, then he could have planned the miss. But, he had no control over this shot.

What if either players ball had ricocheted off pin at 17 and into the water? That’s rub of the green, and there would be nothing they could do about it.

What if some unruly fan – a tipsy man or tired young boy – had screamed during that one critical second of Sergio or Paul’s backswings and ultimately caused via ball-in-water the loss of $600,000 in winnings and a prestigious title?

The 17th at the TPC of Sawgrass offers no solution to these unpredictable and more importantly uncontrollable outcomes. The “sudden” in sudden death playoff means it ends abruptly when one player scores lower than another on a hole. The “death” should come at the hands of the other player’s superior play, not a gust of wind or one of many other externalities.

The 17th hole is too extreme for a sudden death playoff. Imagine if the sudden death playoff were to start on the 18th hole, which was basically playing as a par five late Sunday afternoon. There would be a premium on driving it in the fairway, but should one of the players hook the ball into the water, they would still have a chance to make a five with the slight expectation that the other player would have to do well, even from the center for the fairway, to make a par four.

Better yet would be a multiple-hole playoff like we see at the British Open or the PGA Championship. Although this would be a burden for the Tour to adopt on a weekly basis, it would not be asking too much of THE PLAYERS, an almost-major. Three of the four majors have multiple-hole playoffs. Only the Masters is sudden death.

But, really. Even if THE PLAYERS sticks with the sudden death playoff, they need to start on any hole but 17. It’s just not fair to the players, the fans who have to trek back out there, and the television broadcast that has the air of excitement sucked out of it the second player one dunks his ball in the water.

Will there be a change for next year?

Youthful Surge

Take a look at the age of some of this year’s youngest PGA Tour winners:
PLAYER AGE TOURNAMENT WON Sean O’Hair 26 PODS Championship Andres Romero 27 Zurich Classic Trevor Immelman 29 The Masters Adam Scott 28 Byron Nelson Championship Anthony Kim 22 Wachovia Championship Sergio Garcia 28 THE PLAYERS Championship

The PGATour.com website lists Trevor, Kim and Garcia as recent youthful winners and then asks who is next. Once Tiger Woods returns, I think we’ll see a solid second half of the season from him. Tiger isn’t the young-gun on tour anymore. At 32 years old, he’s coming into what is typically considered the prime golfing years. We may be seeing a trend towards younger dominance on the PGA Tour. A player’s mid-20s may be the new mid-30s.

Next Young-Gun to Win?

Hunter Mahan, 26 years old, played well last year, winning once and having a successful showing at the Presidents Cup in Canada. He has made nine of fourteen cuts and finished in the top-ten twice this season. He almost seems too low-key to be a serious contender every week he plays. I’m not sure what to think really.

Colt Knost rocked the Amateur circuit last summer and just got his first win on the Nationwide Tour in last week’s Fort Knox Classic in Arkansas. I think we’ll see him soon on the PGA Tour.

I could always pick myself, but my 20s are flying by. At nearly-27, I’ve only got three full years remaining to get my game in shape for the PGA Tour, qualify, and get that elusive first win.

Oh, one can dream!

THE PLAYERS Champion: Sergio Garcia

Sergio Garcia won THE PLAYERS Championship by paring the first playoff hole against Paul Goydos. Sergio won by playing accurate golf from tee to green and putting better than he has in three years. Confidence is a fickle attribute to acquire, retain, and, if lost, reacquire. This afternoon, Sergio took a major step towards recapturing the confidence of youth we saw when he almost caught Tiger Woods during the 1999 PGA Championship.

After shamelessly plugging his TaylorMade golf ball and driver during his champion’s speech, Sergio graciously thanked Tiger for not playing this year’s THE PLAYERS. (Tiger is out until the Memorial or later because of knee surgery.)

It was unfortunate that Paul Goydos tanked his tee shot on the first hole of the playoff. He played well all week and validated the commentary regarding the fairness of the new TPC of Sawgrass setup. It is truly winnable by all types of playing styles. Goydos was gracious in defeat as well, complimenting Garcia (and Jeff Quinney) on their under-par rounds.

With this title will come added pressure for Sergio. Although he fought off the media scrutiny of his putting and lack of wins with today’s victory, the pressure will be greater in weeks to come. If he can keep his long game in shape and continues to putt well, he definitely has a chance to win a Major. Payback for last years British Open debacle? We’ll see in July.

Kim Wins the Wachovia

With Lorena Ochoa’s streak of four tournament wins being snapped by Paula Creamer this past weekend, we were left with Anthony Kim’s first ever PGA Tour win at the Wachovia Championship. He won in style, finishing Sunday five shots ahead of former British Open champion Ben Curtis. And all at the young age of 22 years, 10 months and 15 days. (List of youngest winners since 1970) Some have said Kim’s performance is Tiger-esque.

More Tiger-esque is his off-course preparation. From what I’ve read, the environment in which he grew up was well balanced. He’s been the subject of tutoring by veteran players that has given him a mature perspective on the intricacies of the PGA Tour. As Brandel Chamblee states, there are pitfalls on the PGA Tour. With success comes money. And with money can come complacency. Tiger Woods has avoided the success-induced slump for many years. It will be interesting to see if Anthony Kim can seize the “next-best” label and run with it.

Interesting to note is that Kim has had the same coach since he was ten-years old. Adam Schriber, Kim’s coach, teaches at Crystal Mountain in Michigan near my home town of Traverse City.

So, Kim, let’s see some more wins and continued success!