Saturday, January 29, 2011

Great Weekend for Golf

What a spectacular weekend to kickoff the 2011 professional golf season. Believe it or not this is actually the fourth week of the PGA Tour season, and the competition thus far has been extremely entertaining. From Jonathan Byrd edging out Graeme McDowell to get into a playoff where he defeated Robert Garrigus to Mark Wilson's 36-hole Sunday marathon victory in Hawaii to big Venezuelan Jhonattan Vegas's playoff win over defending champ Bill Haas in the California desert, many sports fans have missed out on some exciting finishes the past few weekends in golf. The European Tour has produced some fireworks too in this young year. Last week, now world number two (number one in my book) Martin Kaymer lapped a field that included Rory McIlroy, Retief Goosen, Lee Westwood, Phil Mickelson, Padraig Harrington, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell, the Molinari brothers, and Charl Schwartzel in Abu Dhabi. All of this thrilling golf went under the radar of most sports fans because Tiger Woods had not ventured onto any of the tracks the pros played. However, Tiger is playing in California this week, and the sports world is now watching.

The Farmers Insurance Open is hosted at Torrey Pines, the site of Woods's 2008 U.S. Open triumph. Tiger has won an unprecedented eight titles at Torry Pines, and he has put himself in position to win a ninth this weekend. Bill Haas currently holds the 36-hole lead at eleven under par, but a whole slew of big name contenders is right behind him. A more mature Anthony Kim is the closest competitor to Haas at nine under, but three back of the leader sit Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan, John Daly, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, and Ben Crane. At six under par, CBS will be highlighting Tiger Woods, Jhonny Vegas, and Dustin Johnson. Five strokes back with 36 holes to play is easy ground to cover for Woods. Sports fans and true golf fans alike are anxiously awaiting the outcome of golf's first big week. The scenery from the southern California coast has already been breathtaking during the early rounds. If you do not watch for the incredible golf, you have to check out the amazing views of the cliffs holding up the golf course diving into the Pacific.

The European Tour also has more excitement lined up for golf fans around the globe. Colin Montgomerie is showing off one of his designs in the oil-rich Middle Eastern island nation of Bahrain. With only one round to play, Paul Casey is tied for the lead at sixteen under par with both Molinari brothers, Darren Clarke, Matteo Manessero, and Miguel Angel Jimenez all in striking distance. The Volvo Golf Champions was being billed as Sergio Garcia's first start of 2011. He started off with an impressive 67 on Thursday, but his third round of 73 has put El NiƱo nine strokes back heading into Sunday. The Golf Channel will have delayed morning coverage of this event.

The final big event of the weekend has yet to start actually. The Champions Skins Game will be played out in Maui on Saturday and Sunday. The defending champs for this team event are none other than Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson. The duo is teaming up again this weekend, and anyone who has not seen the great Golden Bear play before better be watching Golf Channel because Jack very rarely plays anymore. Arnold Palmer is easier to catch on the course than Nicklaus. As the greatest player of all time, Jack is a joy to see and learn about. Going up against this formidable pairing are the teams of Fuzzy Zoeller-Ben Crenshaw, Nick Price-Fred Couples, and Bernhard Langer-Mark O'Meara. The players are miked and are a blast to watch play and interact with each other.

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