Tuesday, November 3, 2009

This Week in Golf

PGA Tour - The WGC-HSBC Champions tournament will be played this week in Shanghai, China. Fifteen of the top twenty on the world rankings list will be competing for a $7 million purse. This event has been billed as the tournament of the off-season. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are in the spotlight at Sheshan International Golf Club. Both have played the event previously, and Mickelson is a past champion. However, this is the strongest field ever gathered in Asia, and many in the golfing world are hoping this competition grows the game in the world's most populous continent. Already, we are seeing the effects of golf's popularity in Asia with Y.E. Yang winning the PGA Championship and Byeong-Hun An becoming the youngest US Amateur champion in history this year. Women's golf has been overtaken by young players from South Korea over the past decade, but the Asian men are just starting to win bigger championships on US soil more recently. Yang, who won the HSBC in 2006, will be playing in China this week as well. Along with defending champion Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington, Ryo Ishikawa, the Japanese cowboy Shingo Katayama, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Ernie Els, and Paul Casey. Mickelson had a strong top ten finish last week in Singapore, but my pick to win is Woods. How can you pick someone other than Tiger? My sleeper this week is the young American champion, Steve Marino. He seems to play his best on the big stages, but if he holds off many of the world's top golfers, it will set up an extremely anti-climatic drama that no one really wants to see. If Tiger and Phil are in the field, those are the only two acceptable champions, especially in a situation like this one. The Chinese get very few opportunities to see major world stars of any kind on their home turf (outside of the 2008 Olympics), and nothing would be better for the game of golf than a win by one of the top two. The Golf Channel will once again be the place to watch.

Hall of Fame - Four new inductees into the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Florida raised the total membership to 130. Major champions Lanny Wadkins, Christy O'Connor, and Jose Maria Olazabal joined the hallowed hall along with statesman, President Dwight Eisenhower. While this class does not contain the star power of other outstanding inductee classes, these men are deserving golfers. Lanny may not have been a hall of fame broadcaster (or even a good one by any stretch of the imagination), but he did win 21 PGA Tour tournaments in his career along with the 1977 PGA Championship and the 1970 US Amateur. In an era when Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Johnny Miller, and Lee Trevino were gobbling up many of the titles, Lanny managed to pull out more victories than Hale Irwin, Greg Norman, Tom Kite, Curtis Strange, Ben Crenshaw, or Fred Couples. He was a solid and accurate ball-striker with many friends. Jose Maria won two green jackets in his career, and he helped popularize the game in his native Spain. His mentor and good friend, Seve Ballesteros introduced Olazabal by video at the ceremonies on Monday evening. Seve, a definite hall of famer in his own right, continues to battle brain cancer, but was honored to support his fellow countryman. O'Connor is a relative unknown among American golfers these days, but in Ireland he is a golfing legend. O'Connor played in 10 consecutive Ryder Cups during the 1950's-1970's. He was also one of the first golfers along with Sam Snead to continue winning professional events into his 50's before there was a senior tour. Most of Christy's golf was played in Europe. Lastly, Ike was a great ambassador for the game of golf. His popularity as general and president aided in the growth of golf during the 1950's. Eisenhower was a member of Augusta National, and he had a practice green installed on the White House lawn so he could practice his short game. Arnold Palmer, a good friend of the president's, accepted the honor for the late leader.

2010 Schedule - Next year's PGA Tour schedule was released earlier today. None of the changes are surprising or extremely influential in regard to the top players' schedules. The Greenbriar Classic is the only new event on the list, and I am excited to see this course. I have seen many photos and video clips of the picturesque mountain setting in West Virginia, but the last professional men's tournament played on the track was the '79 Ryder Cup. So, I am anxious to watch this event that took the place of the Buick Open. The US Bank Championship in Milwaukee was the other tournament that lost its sponsor. Therefore, the Reno-Tahoe Open receives a promotion to the week prior to the British Open, and the former Fall Series event of the Turning Stone Championship will move into Reno's previous slot opposite Firestone. Most everything else stays put. A few tournament sites have changed, but nothing of particular interest. The majors will be fun this year, though. The US Open returns to Pebble Beach. The Open Championship will once again be played at St. Andrews in Scotland, and the PGA Championship will be in nearby Wisconsin at Kohler's Whistling Straits. All three are coastal settings that offer fantastic and beautiful views along with challenging winds.


  1. Doesn’t the off-season mean that there shouldn’t be any major golf???? I’m so confused! Perhaps if you responded to my suggestions and posted a summary of how all the golf leagues and seasons correspond I wouldn’t be so frustrated with this never-ending season. Still, nice work! I’m actually starting to read these posts with a bit of anticipation. Maybe if you had a post calling out Vijay Singh for being a small-minded sexist I would really start to anticipate these each week.

  2. I think I would like my gravestone to read "He was a solid and accurate ball-striker with many friends"
    It just sounds nice.


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