Monday, August 9, 2010

This Week in Golf

Front Nine

Hole #1 – Hunter Mahan come roaring to the front of the pack last weekend to take the WGC Bridgestone Invitational by two strokes over Ryan Palmer. He shot 64 on Sunday and 66 on Saturday at Firestone Country Club to shoot twelve under par for the week. Many big names including Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson were near the top of the leaderboard heading into the final round. However, no one could keep pace with Hunter’s outstanding putting.

Hole #2 – Tiger Woods set his some personal records at Firestone. He nearly shot his worst ever score at Firestone everyday of the week. He went 74-72-75-77 to finish lower than any other American in the eighty man field that did not have a cut. He looked emotionless and very unTiger-like.

Hole #3 – Phil was tied for the lead for a time on Saturday. He could have usurped Woods as the world number one last week. However, he shot six over par on the front during Sunday’s 78, and he fell T46 by the end.

Hole #4 – Ernie made a similar move shooting 76 in the final round. He finished at one under par.

Hole #5 – Bill Lunde became a first-time PGA Tour winner at the Turning Stone Championship. His seventeen under par total at the resort in New York earned him a trip to Whistling Straits as he beat J.J. Henry by one.

Hole #6 – David Frost shot light out Sunday to lap the field at TPC Twin Cities. This year’s 3M Championship winner shot 61 in the final round to beat Mark Calcavecchia by five to take his first Champions Tour trophy.

Hole #7 – Lee Westwood withdrew Friday night from the Bridgestone and this week’s PGA Championship with a swollen ankle that has been bothering him for some time now. Rest is the only therapy, and he will take about six weeks off to hopefully recover before the Ryder Cup.

Hole #8 – Anthony Kim’s comeback was not as successful as he hoped. He shot sixteen over par. He expected to struggle coming back on such a difficult track, but he wants to earn an automatic spot on the Ryder Cup team.

Hole #9 – Monty is thinking about taking 53-year-old Bernhard Langer as one of his three captain’s picks for the European Ryder Cup team. Langer won back-to-back senior majors last month, and he has led the Champions Tour money list the last three seasons. Some say the experienced Ryder Cup veteran and former victorious captain is playing better than he ever has.

Back Nine

Hole #10 – The PGA Championship returns to Whistling Straits along the shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin. The first major championship to be held at this unique and breathtaking venue was the 2004 PGA won by Vijay Singh. The course sits on the bumpy sand dunes that border the lake to the east. Thousands of natural-looking bunkers creep their way up and down both sides of every tight fairway. Very few trees root in this shifty soil, so steep drop-offs and sharp mounds along with lots of sand protect the players from shooting low here by providing plenty of awkward lies for those who venture off course. The greens are large and swirly, and the wind off the water can play a huge factor as well. Accuracy is key at Herb Kohler’s dream come true. It is not a short course at over 7,500 yards, but one does not need to be a bomber of the golf ball in order to score well. Justin Leonard led most of Sunday in the 2004 edition.

Hole #11 – The world’s number three player, Lee Westwood, will not be playing the PGA because of a swollen ankle.

Hole #12 – Sergio Garcia will play Whistling Straits. However, he announced that he will take two months off from the game following glory’s last shot. He figures he will not make the European Ryder Cup team, and he is not enjoying golf anymore. He hopes time off will make him miss the game. However, he is missing the lucrative PGA Tour Playoffs.

Hole #13 – Tiger Woods is in the field, but many doubt his appearance will yield much fruit this week. After his most lackluster tournament to date, he seems to need to take a break along with Sergio. However, the Tour and his sponsors would never allow from that to happen.

Hole #14 – Many analysts are predicting Tiger will not play his way onto the Ryder Cup team. Therefore, Captain Corey Pavin will be forced to pick him. I would pick him if I were captain. Two months is enough time for him to turn his game around, but many people are speculating Woods has no real desire to go to Wales for the team event that he never has seemed to enjoy nearly as much as his individual successes. Some are predicting Tiger will fake an injury to get Pavin and himself off the hook. If Pavin does not pick Woods, the PGA of America and NBC will not be happy.

Hole #15 – The finishing stretch of holes at Whistling Straits is a knockout, both in difficulty of play and looks along the water. The 15th and 18th holes are par 4’s reaching over 500 yards apiece. The 16th is a long, extremely narrow par 5 that is no birdie hole. 17 plays over 220 yards with the wind howling off the lake. And the 18th does not allow players to drive the ball any farther than about 250 yards off the tee. None of the greens are give-me’s either. Vijay did not make a birdie on Sunday, yet he came from behind to win in a three-way playoff featuring Leonard and Chris DiMarco.

Hole #16 – Since anyone can win at Whistling Straits, look for a crowded leaderboard, hopefully chalk full of big names. In 2004, Singh, Leonard, DiMarco, Chris Riley, Ernie Els, and Phil Mickelson were all in contention to the end.

Hole #17 – PGA Club Professional Champion and U of I golf coach Mike Small will be hack around the course this week with the big boys. They’ll be cheering for him in Champaign and Danville.

Hole #18 – Jim Nantz, Nick Faldo, Peter Oosterhois, David Feherty, Gary McCord, Ian Baker-Finch, and Peter Kostis will be bringing the action from Wisconsin to us this week on CBS. Vern Lundquist and Bill MaCatee also join the team for the PGA.

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