Veteran benefits entangled in red tape

December 31st, 2009

Leading Democrats like to hold up the Veterans Benefits Administration as an example of how well government can provide health care. But veterans who deal with the complex federal bureaucracy have invented an unhappy refrain to describe the VBA: “Deny, deny until you die.”

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/dec/31/veteran-benefits-entangled-in-heaping-red-tape/?source=newsletter_must-read-stories-today_more_news_carousel

Millions in VA Bonuses Questioned

August 25th, 2009

“WASHINGTON – Outside the Veterans Affairs Department, severely wounded veterans have faced financial hardship waiting for their first disability payment. Inside, money has been flowing in the form of $24 million in bonuses.”

From:  http://www.military.com/news/article/August-2009/millions-in-va-bonuses-questioned.html

2009 PGA Championship Final Round

August 16th, 2009

Y.E. Yang played his game today and won the 91st PGA Championship. He made history by becoming the first Asian born player to win a major. He made history by defeating Tiger Woods who until today was 14-0 when going into the final round of a major with the lead. You can say Tiger had a bad day, some have questioned his conservative play in rounds 2 & 3, even today although known for patience it seemed more like he was waiting for a mistake from Yang than going for the win in my opinion. Still I think the credit belongs to Yang for the win and not to Tiger for uncharacteristic play. I certainly hope that the 91st PGA Championship is remembered for Yang’s victory and not for Tiger’s loss.

Y.E. Yang shot 2 under par for a tournament total of 8 under par 280 to take 1st, Tiger Woods shot 3 over par for a tournament total of 5 under par 283 for 2nd place, in T3 was Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy at 3 under par 285, alone in 5th place Lucas Glover at 2 under par 286, T6 were Martin Kaymer, Ernie Els, Soren Kjeldsen and Henrik Stenson at 1 under par 287 and rounding out the top ten it was John Merrick, Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Graeme McDowell, Francesco Molinari and Padraig Harrington who all finished T10 at even par 288.

Hole number 12 continued to be the toughest taking 31 doubles and 191 bogeys for the tournament. The biggest movers up the leaderboard were Soren Hanson and Michael Sim who moved up 19 positions today while the biggest movers down the leaderboard were Stewart Cink (41 spots) and Hiroyuki Fujita (30 positions). I’m glad that I missed Paddy’s 8 on the par 3, 8th he finished the day at 6 over par. Phil Mickelson who was lucky just to make the cut finished the tournament in 73rd position at 12 over par 300. Other notables who struggled during the tournament included Angel Cabrera, Jim Furyk, Rory Sabbatini, Jeev M. Singh, Justin Leonard and Sean O’Hair.

Congratulations to Yong-Eon Yang for winning his first major championship. The 37 year old South Korean didn’t begin playing until he was 19 then took a couple years off while serving his country. He didn’t turn pro until 2004 and has played in 7 majors. I expect we will see more of him.

Round 3 PGA Championship

August 15th, 2009

Tiger Woods takes a two stroke lead going into the final round tomorrow. Paddy Harrignton and Y.E. Yang are T2 at 6 under par. Henrik Stenson and Lucas Glover are 4 under par at T4. Ernie Els and Soren Kjeldsen hold down the T6 position at 3 under par. Five players are T8 at 2 under those being; Alvaro Quiros, John Rollins, Martin Kaymer, Ross Fisher and Brendon Jones. That is the top 10 as those at 1 under are T13.

Since Y.E. Yang finished before Paddy he will be playing in the final group with Tiger. They have yet to make an official posting but I believe it will be Harrington and Stenson, Glover and Els, Kjeldsen and Quiros, Rollins and Kaymer then Fisher and Jones.

Richard Sterne had to withdraw with a hand injury bringing the total of withdrawals up to three, along with Paul Casey (ribs) and John Daly (back).

The biggest movers up the leaderboard were Retief Goosen (36 positions) and John Rollins (30 positions) and down the leaderboard were Grant Sturgeon (57 positions) and J.J. Henry (49 positions). The toughest hole has been 12 with 27 doubles and 161 bogeys’.

Tiger’s putter wasn’t as hot today although he nearly had a bogey free round, the one stumble was on 4 but he did birdie 2 and 14 to post a 1 under par 71. The hot hand today was Y.E. Yang who matched Tiger’s opening round 5 under par 67 Yang had 6 birdies and one bogey on the par 3, 13th. Padraig went into 18 with 4 birdies on his card but bogeyed the final hole for a 3 under par 69. Stenson had a good day after opening with a bogey on 1 he put together 5 birdies for a nice round of 68. Tiger has never lost a major with a 54 hole lead but several players are doing well including Yang, Harrington, Stenson and Lucas Glover has been the model of consistency with 71/70/71 if he can put together a low round tomorrow while the rest play at or near par he could walk away the winner. Never know what may happen in the last round. Woods determination has been well documented throughout the years though and his record speaks for itself.

2009 PGA Championship Round 1

August 13th, 2009

It seems as though Tiger Woods and Padraig Harrington have started where they left off after the first round of the 2009 PGA Championship in Chaska, Minn., at Hazeltine National Golf Club. Tiger shot a 5 under par 67, his lowest first round in a major since 2007, and Padraig shot a 4 under par 68. To take 1st and 2nd place respectively. Six players are T3 those being Robert Allenby, Mathew Goggin, Hunter Mahan, Alvaro Quiros, Vijay Singh and David Toms they all shot a 3 under par 69. Rounding out the top ten are eight players at T9 who all shot 2 under par 70, those players are; Paul Goydos, Thongchai Jaidee, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood, Michael Bradley, Gonzalo Fernandez-Costano, Soren Kjeldsen and Ben Crane.

Reports are that officials are surprised at the low scoring, those at even par are T27, those at 2 over are T69, while those at 3 over are T95 and 4 over par are T110. Not that there were no players that had a really bad day, Adam Scott and Steve Scheinter are at 10 over par, Mitch Lowe and Will MacKenzie are at 12 over and Kevin Roman is at 15 over. So the course is hardly a push over, trouble can be found and it can be found quickly. In addition to Paul Casey’s withdrawal this morning, John Daly has withdrawn with back problems, although he finished his round he did not turn in an official score before withdrawing.

Good to see Tiger and Padraig back on top, after officials put them on the clock due to slow play in the final round last week. It really wasn’t of their making as JB Holmes had problems with rulings that backed them up in the first place. Tiger believed and rightly so that the clock hurt Padraigs chances and he was vocal about the officials ruling. Rules are rules but when the final group is penalized when they are really the only two in contention there should be some consideration given in my humble opinion. Although it is only the first round I like that list up there in the top ten, some up and comers as well as some salty dogs. I hope they continue to play well, particularly Hunter Mahan, Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, Paul Goydos and Ben Crane. I believe there is some promising talent and a couple good guys who deserve some credit, again my opinion.

Televised coverage will begin tomorrow at 2pm EDT on TNT, weekend coverage should be pretty sweet for those wanting to watch a lot of golf as TNT will air from 11-2 then CBS will take over from 2-7 Saturday and Sunday. Unfortunately I will miss a portion of the Saturday morning coverage as I will be playing in a charity event for Cancer but I tee off at 8am so I shouldn’t miss much of it.

PGA Championship

August 12th, 2009

The final major of the season, the PGA Championship! Who’s playing? Well the top ten in all three of the major categories, those being the Fed-Ex Cup, PGA Tour money list and the Official World Golf Ranking. Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker and Kenny Perry 1, 2 & 3 on both the Fed-Ex Cup Points and PGA Tour money list, then there is Phil Mickelson and Paul Casey who are 2 & 3 in the OWGR list, Zach Johnson, 4 in Fed-Ex Cup points and 5 on the money list, Sergio Garcia 5 in OWGR, Geoff Ogilivy 6 on Fed-Ex and the money list. Lucas Glover 7th in FE and 8th on the ML, Sean O’Hair 7th on the ML and 9th in FE, Brian Gay 8th in FE and 9th on the ML. Hehnrik Stenson 7th in OWGR, Retief Goosen, 10th in FE and the ML, Stewart Cink 9th on the OWGR and Jim Furyk 10th in OWGR. Wow, some really heavy hitters.  That does make the top ten in each category. Obviously some are in both, and however you feel the need to measure a golfers talent, they are all covered here. Moving down the list 2009 winners Pat Perez, Nick Watney. Dustin Johnson, Mark Wilson, Y.E. Yang, Michael Bradely, Angel Cabrera, Jerry Kelly, Rory Sabbatini, Bo Van Pelt, Nathan Greene, & John Rollins who incidentally won last week in Reno while the bigger names were at the WGC. Past Winners of the PGA Championship Padraig Harrington, Shaun Michael, David Toms, Mark Brooks, Paul Azinger, Vijay Singh, Rich Been, Davis Love III, Steve Elkington, John Daly and Bob Tway. Majors winners, Steve Elkington, Michael Campbell, Shaun Michael, Freddy Couples, Corey Pavin, Tom Lehman, Mike Weir, Trevor Immelman, Ben Curtis, Justin Leonard and Enrie Els. Then there are a host of International Players like Andres Romero, Michael Sim, Aaron Baddely, Adam Scott, Brendan Jones, Mathew Goggin, Robert Allenby, Stuart Appleby, Richard Green, John Senden, Rod Pampling, Stephen Ames, Camilo Villegas, Soren Kjeldsen, Soren Hansen, Anders Hansen, Chris Wood, Mich Dougherty, Ross Fisher, Oliver Wilson, Justin Rose, Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Anthony Wall, Steve Webster, Brian Davis, Lee Westwood, Thomas Levet, Martin Kaymer, Jeev M. Singh, Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell, Fransesco Molinari, Ryo Ishikawa, Ryuji Imada, Shingo Katayama, Hiroyuki Fujita, Charlie Wi, KJ Choi, David Smail, Alistair Forsythe, Colin Montgomerie, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen, Richard Sterne, Tim Clarke, Alvaro Quiros, Gonzalo Fdez-Castano, Miguel A. Jimenez, Peter Hanson, Carl Pettersson, Johan Edfors, Thongchai Jaidee and Prayad Marksaeng

 

You can pick your favorites and figure out the young guns versus the grizzled vets on your own, A little about the course, the PGA Championship will be played at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn.

 

The course is a Robert Tent Jones design from 1962, it plays to 7,674 yards and par value will be 72. That is a little odd for a major as opposed to 70 or 71 but not unheard of. The last PGA Tour event was held there in 2002 and at that time the most difficult hole proved to be the par 4, 16th which plays 402 yards, over Hazeltine Lake and additionally must be kept short of the creek on the left side of the fairway. The right rough is a bear and the green angles away and is hard to hold. Hole locations along the right side of the green will bring the lake back into play, so anything can happen. Johnny Miller called it the hardest four-par he ever played. The easiest hole was the par 5 7th which plays  572 yards, it is 29 yards longer than it was in 2002 when it played 543 yards but then most players went for it in two, that strategy can be dicey because of the pond on the left. Players like Zach Johnson and Justin Leonard may lay up and still make birdie, that would be the strategy I would prefer but we will have to see what the big dogs decide. During the 2002 season Hazeltine was the 2nd hardest course of the 57 courses played that year. It is no stranger to championship golf having hosted the having hosted the 1966 U.S. Women’s Open, the 1970 U.S. Open, the 1977 U.S. Women’s Open, the 1983 U.S. Senior Open, the 1991 U.S. Open and the 2002 PGA Championship. For history buffs the PGA Championship has been played annually since 1916 with the exception of 1943 when it was not played due to WWII.

The Open Championship Final Rd

July 19th, 2009

Stewart Cink captured the British Open, or if you prefer the Open Championship in 2009
Was it a well earned victory, yes absolutely, did Tom Watson choke, probably but have your ever done it, have I absolutely. Stewart Cink wins his first major in 2nd place it was Tom Watson both officially scored at 278. At T3 was Chris Wood and Lee Westwood at 279. Luke Donald, Retief Goosen and Mathew Goggin were T5 at 280. The quad of Ernie Els, Soren Hansen, Justin Leonard and Thomas Aiken were T8 with a 281 and that rounded out the top 10.

I knew when he choked with the putt at 18 he was going to lose the playoff, certainly never on the scale of a British Open but I know what it feels like to have a an 8-10 footer on the line and come up short. He had history in his grasp and he was well aware of it, he wanted it, you could see it in his eyes but that was not a gimme putt either, Stewart Cink earned his victory and Tom Watson did the best he could. Congratulations Stewart Cink.

Shout out to John Daly for the 2nd day in a row, finishing the tournament at 4 over with a 284, 2 over on the final day for a T27 finish.

The Open Championship Round 3

July 18th, 2009

Tom Watson’s amazing run continued today, he remains the sole leader after 54 holes of play with a stroke total of 206. It was evident that his bunker play and touch around the greens has diminished little and however unlikely the dream may seem to be, I have to pull for him tomorrow. Tied for second one stroke back at 207 are Mathew Goggin and Ross Fisher. Lee Westwood and Retief Goosen share the T4 spot at 208. At T6 set Jim Furyk and Stewart Cink at 209 and are the last currently under par. At T8 and even par are Bryce Molder and Thongchai Jaidee at 210. There are four players T10 to round out the top ten, Richard S. Johnson, Boo Weekley, Angel Cabrera and Steve Marino all at 1 over par 211.

Marino had a bad day with a triple at 15, 2 doubles, 4 bogeys, 3 birdies and an eagle. The triple at the par 3, 15th was painful to watch but it was good that the officials took the time to determine that the rules were followed and that he be given the chance to exercise all his options. He is still in contention and with a championship on the line he should have been given every opportunity to make the right decision, which I think he did as hitting from there or the two club length drop into the thigh high rough would have been fruitless at best. The delay didn’t seem to bother Watson who had an eighteen minute wait from the time he hit his tee shot until he got to take his 2nd from the bunker.

The Brits have Lee Westwood heavily favored, but in my opinion and with the weather to be just as windy tomorrow I think anyone within five shots has an even chance. I really hope that Mr. Watson can hang on though it will have been 32 years since his victory at Turnberry back in 1977.

Shout out to John Daly who is T14 at 2 over par 212. His problems have been well publicized but he has made tremendous effort to return to the sport and get his life back on track.

The Open Championship Round 2

July 17th, 2009

Round 2 is in the books, tied for 1st place it’s Tom Watson and Steve Marino. Both outstanding golfers to be sure, but what an unlikely pair to be leading, the aging veteran and the stand-by who got in when Katayama had to withdrawal due to injury. Good luck gentleman I wish you both luck this weekend. Alone in 3rd place another aging vet Mark Calcavecchia one stroke back at 136. At T4 it is Ross Fisher, Retief Goosen, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Kenichi Kuboya and Vijay Singh all with 137. Rounding out the top ten at T9 are JB Holmes, Mark Kingston, Lee Westwood, Stewart Cink and Mathew Goggin they’re posted scores are at 138.

The lowest 70 scores and ties made the cut at 144. Some of those failing to make the cut were Tiger Woods, Ben Curtis, Mike Weir, Colin Montgomerie, Todd Hamilton, Charley Hoffman, DJ Trahan, Matt Kuchar, Tim Clark, KJ Choi, Anthony Kim, John Sneden, Martin Laird, David Toms, Rory Sabbatini, David Duval, Rod Pampling, Bubba Watson, Stephen Ames, Dustin Johnson, Greg Norman, Geoff Ogilvy, Nick Faldo, Hunter Mahan and Carl Pettersson.

Tiger has only missed the cut in 3 major championship’s, the first has an amateur in the ’96 Masters, the 2nd at the 2006 U.S. Open and now the 3rd at the 2009 British Open or “The Open Championship” as it is now dubbed. Since turning pro he has only missed 5 cuts total in his career.

The shot of the day will have to be the 50 footer on 18 which gave Watson the tie for the lead. Tee times for the top 10 are at 3PM BST Watson and Marino, 2:50 Calcavecchia and Fisher, 2:40 Goosen and Jimenez, 2:30 Kuboya and Singh, 2:20 JB Holmes and Mark Kingston, 2:10 Westood and Cink and at 2:00 Goggin and Kaymer.

The Open Championship Round 1

July 17th, 2009

On Wednesday the talk amongst the players was that if the weather stayed the same would someone finally break 63 in a major. The 63 has been accomplished 23 times but never broken. It wasn’t broken Thursday either but “The Mechanic” Miguel Angel Jimenez shot a 64 to lead round 1. In T2 it was Kenichi Koboya and Tom Watson with a pair of 65’s. In T4 it is Steve Stricker, Camilo Villegas, Stewart Cink, John Sneden and Mathew Goggin with 1st round 66’s. At T9 sets Steve Marino, Retief Goosen, Vijay Singh, Boo Weekely, Jim Furyk, Brandon Grace and Mark Calcavecchia all with 67’s to their credit.

Evidently something about Turnberry appeals to Tom Watson because it was at the same course where Watson and Nicklaus had their famed “Duel in the Sun” back in ’77 when Watson closed with 3rd and 4th rounds scores of 65/65 while Nicklaus posted 65/66. Reportedly Nicklaus called Watson to congratulate him upon completion of his round. It’s nice to legends compete on the global stage but even nicer when they are competitive, I must admit that I hadn’t even considered Mr. Watson to be a contender this year. I did have Sneden, Stricker and Marino on my fantasy team this week but I believe I started Sneden on the bench, I may need to rethink that strategy but I’ll wait until the 2nd round scores are posted to decide.

It was good to see Boo and JB Holmes with good 1st round scores. JB shot a 68 although he didn’t make the top 10 he just barely missed it. Tiger struggled with 4 bogeys and 3 birdies to post a 71.

Scottish like weather is in the forecast with colder temps and big wind. The early tee times today could make a big difference provided they get off to a good start. Three players have won back to Open’s those being Harrington, Watson and Trevino, while it is still early it is unlikely Harrington will get his hat trick and win three in a row he just hasn’t been playing that well this year although his 1st round 69 has him in the running.
Sources: Reuters, PGA Tour and The Golf Channel

AT&T National Final Round

July 5th, 2009

Host Tiger Woods wins the AT&T National with a final round 67 to post a 13 under par 267 for the tournament. In 2nd place was Hunter Mahan who tied the course record today with an 8 under par 62 to finish at 12 under par 268. 3rd place went to Anthony Kim who shot a 1 over par 71 to finish at 9 under par 271. In 4th place was Bryce Molder who shot 2 under par 68 to finish at 8 under par 272. In the T5 spot was Brandt Snedeker and Lucas Glover at 7 under par 273. Rounding out the top ten in T7 was the quad of Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk, Danny Lee and Cameron Beckman who all finished the tournament 6 under par 274.

Tiger’s only bogey came at 11, a hole he struggled with the entire tournament but he made a lengthy birdie putt at 16 that sealed the victory. Hunter Mahan may have started the day at T16 but he is the only player to finish every round sub 70, it wasn’t good enough for the win but in a game where consistency pays off at 69/69/68/62 he has a lot to be proud of. Kim held his poise and even though he finished the day at 1 over, a final round 71 with 2 birdies, 3 bogeys and 13 pars is pretty respectable when paired with Tiger Woods. Although Bryce Molder shot even par 70 in rounds 2 and 3 he never fell out of the top ten with his 1st round 64 and final round 68, not bad for a man who has made 6 cuts out of 11 attempts the entire year in the big league but out of those 6 cuts has 5 top 25’s to go with it, and has clawed his way up to 64th in Fed-Ex cup points and in my opinion earned a place on the PGA Tour.

Key stats for the tournament are as follow:
Scoring Average – Tiger Woods at 66.75, field average was 70.91
Driving Distance – Robert Garrigus 317.6, yards field average was 295.1
Driving Accuracy – Martin Laird 87.5%, field average was 64.49%
Greens in Regulation – Charles Warren 79.17%, field average was 65.32%
Scrambling – Ryan Moore 81.48 %, field average was 52.88%
Putts per Round – Jim Furyk 27.25 with the field average at 29.9
11 played the toughest and 16 the easiest.
The winners final stat averages were T1 in eagles with 1, T3 in birdies with 18, T22 in pars with 47, 75th in bogeys with 5, T26 in double bogeys with 1, T7 in driving accuracy at 73.2%, 4th in driving distance at 312.4, T13 in putts per round with 28.5, T3 in putts per GIR with 1.673, T3 in GIR at 76.4% and T33 in sand saves at 50%.
Too bad they don’t carry a stat on longest drive, and I don’t know that his was the longest drive but Hunter Mahan hit a drive 356 yards on the long par 4 at the 6th in round 3 that was pretty sweet. His final average on driving distance was 3rd at 312.6 yards.

The next tournament will be the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Il July 09-12, followed by the British Open Championship (The Open as it is dubbed now) which will be played at Turnberry, Scotland this year and the US Bank Championship in Milwaukee both July 16-19.

Congratulations to Tiger Woods who accomplished his goal to be a “greedy host” and win his own tournament.
Sources: PGATour.com, The Golf Channel & CBS Sports
Opinions: Mine

AT&T National Round 3

July 4th, 2009

Well those who were wanting to see the Tiger Woods/Anthony Kim pairing for a Sunday showdown got their wish. T1 after 3 rounds of play with scoring averages of 66.67 at 10 under par, Kim shot a 2 under par 68 today while Woods was even par at 70. At T3 are Michael Allen and Cameron Beckman who are 1 back at 9 under par. Jim Furyk and Rod Pampling are 8 under par in the T5 spot, alone in 7th place sits Lucas Glover at 7 under and rounding out the top ten in T8 are Ryuji Imada, Cliff Kresge, Ryan Moore, Danny Lee and Bryce Molder all at 6 under par.

Stats: Anthony Kim/Tiger Woods Scoring Average 66.67, Driving Distance Davis Love III at 317.8, Driving Accuracy Martin Laird 92.86%, Greens in Regulation Charles Warren 81.48%, Scrambling Ryan Moore at 90% and Putts per Round Mark Wilson at 26. 11 is still playing the toughest and 16 the easiest.

Tiger should feel pretty good walking away with a share of the lead after the up and down day he had. A double bogey, 2 bogeys, 2 birdies and an eagle, the double came at 11 a hole which appears to have him stumped with a bogey in round 1 and 2 and the double in round 3. Kim had two bogeys and four birdies to gain the two strokes to tie. I wonder if the cockiness of youth can keep the intimidation factor at bay. I recommend swaggering onto the course tomorrow in a red Nike shirt and black slacks; they do share the Nike sponsorship although I’m sure Tiger has the better deal.

Sunday pairings and tee times for the top ten:
Woods/Kim 2:20
Allen/Beckman 2:10
Furyk/Pampling 2:00
Glover/Imada 1:50
Kresge/Moore 1:40
Lee/Molder 1:30

Sources: PGATour.com. The Golf Channel, CBS Sports
Opinions: Mine

AT&T National Round 2

July 3rd, 2009

Tiger Woods took the lead at the turn this morning and remains the leader in the clubhouse at 10 under par for the tournament, his effort today was a 4under par 66. In 2nd place is Rod Pampling who shot a 6 under par 64 to make his two day total 9 under par. Alone in 3rd place is Anthony Kim who shot even par 70 today and is still at 8 under for the tournament and also alone in 4th stands Jim Furyk whose 3 under par 67 leaves him at 7 under par after two rounds of play. At T5 is the trio of Bryce Molder, D.A. Points and Daniel Chopra whose 2 day effort leave them at a 6 under par 134. Five players are T8 to round out the top ten, those being Stuart Appleby, Lucas Glover, Danny Lee, Ryan Moore and Cameron Beckman for a two day total of 135 at 5 under par.

The cut was set at 2 over par 142 and includes all those players at T63 or better. Some players who failed to make the cut are: Bill Haas, Paul Azinger, Charles Howell III, Vaughn Taylor, Charlie Wi, John Mallinger, Jason Day, Pat Perez, KJ Choi, Freddy Funk, Jason Gore, Billy Mayfair and Kevin Na.

In the stat department the leader Tiger Woods leads in Scoring Average with a 65, is 2nd in Driving Distance at 316, 3rd in Putts per GIR at 1.607, and is T7 in Greens in Regulation at 77.8. Charley Hoffman leads the way in Driving Distance at 316.8 yards, Martin Laird in Driving Accuracy at 96.43%, Davis Love III led in Greens in Regulation with 86.11%, Boo Weekley leads in Scrambling at 88.89% and Mark Wilson leads in Putts per Round with a 25.5 average the past two days. The hardest hole continues to be 11 (TW has bogeyed it both days) and the easiest is still 16.

Saturday pairings and tee times for the top 10 are: 1:50PM Tiger Woods/Rod Pampling, 1:40PM Anthony Kim/Jim Furyk, 1:30PM Bryce Molder/D.A. Points, 1:20PM Daniel Chopra/Stuart Appleby and 1:10PM Lucas Glover/Danny Lee.

A lot of the talk has been the Tiger Woods/Anthony Kim matchup but we will have to wait and see if that pans out for Sunday now. Still a lot of golf to be played and we have seen that it is possible to go low at Congressional, Scott McCarron and Steve Marino both shot 5 under par 65’s today and put themselves back into the thick of it after posting 1st round scores that had some wondering if they would make the cut. So anyone out of that top 10 or within maybe 8 shots of the lead can still win this thing. Televised coverage moves from the Golf Channel to CBS Saturday beginning at 3PM.

Whether they end up in the final group Sunday or not it would be interesting to see TW/AK paired together Sunday. I’d like to see how Kim handles the pressure since turning his game around. But maybe that’s just me.
Sources: PGATour.com, The Golf Channel, Reuters
Opinions: Mine

AT&T National Round 1

July 2nd, 2009

Anthony Kim shot a course record 62 at Congressional CC, to take the first round lead. Three players are two strokes back at 6 under par 64, those being D.A. Points, Bryce Molder and Tiger Woods in the T2 spot. Standing alone in 5th position is Steve Elkington who is at 5 under par 65. At T6 are Daniel Chopra, Jim Furyk and Stuart Appleby with 4 under par 66. To round out the top ten are five players at T9 all with 3 under par 67’s to their credit, those players are Justin Rose, Boo Weekley, Michael Allen, Rod Pampling and Y.E. Yang.

Bubba Watson withdrew and some players struggling are Will MacKenzie, Brett Quigley, KJ Choi who won the inaugural event in 2007, John Merrick, Jason Day, Jason Gore and Vaughn Taylor.

AK’s stats were pretty impressive as one might imagine with a course record, he is driving the ball 298 yards, T1 in Greens in Regulation at 94.4% and 4th in putting with 1.529 putts per GIR, he also leads in Scrambling with 100% and of course 1st in scoring average with a 62. Steve Lowery led the field in Driving Distance with a very long 321.5 yards, Scott McFarron hit every fairway for a Driving Accuracy of 100%, Jim Furyk leads the way in putting with 24 putts for his round today. The toughest hole proved to be 11 and the easiest was the 16th.

Vaughn Taylor while he may not have had a stellar day scoring wise did have the shot of the day with a sweet chip for birdie at 18. That video can be seen at pgatour.com as well as replays of Anthony Kim and Tiger Woods. Pity they were not playing together but they very well could be Saturday. AK played in the morning while Woods played in the afternoon. Friday Woods group that includes Lucas Glover and Charley Hoffman tees off on the 10th at 8:12 while Kim’s group that includes Jim Furyk and Davis Love III tees off on 1 at 12:50.

It is good to see Kim playing well he hasn’t had a tour win in a year and is the defending champion for the tournament. With the exception of the Ryder Cup he has been more down than up since. Perhaps it is the exuberance of youth? He definitely however has found something about Congressional in Bethesda, MD., that suits his eye. Woods who is the tournament host has never won his own tournament, but remember that he didn’t play last year because of the knee surgery if he has his mind set on winning he will be very hard to stop and in my opinion Kim will have to keep that youthful exuberance tempered if he wants to repeat. Should be interesting to watch.
Sources: PGATour.com, The Golf Channel
Opinions as always are mine and mine alone.

AT&T National

July 2nd, 2009

While not a star studded event I’ve been looking forward to this tournament. Played at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda MD, this is what the field looks like:
Top tens
Fed-Ex Cup: Tiger Woods, Sean O’Hair, Lucas Glover and Nick Watney
PGA Tour Money list: Same as above
Official World Golf Rankings: TW, Paul Casey, Vijay Singh and Jim Furyk

2009 Winners not previously mentioned: Pat Perez, Mark Wilson and Y.E. Yang

Majors Winners not previously mentioned: Lee Janzen, Todd Hamilton, Davis Love III, Mike Weir, Steve Elkington, Freddy Couples, Corey Pavin, Paul Azinger and Rich Beem

International Players (not inclusive and not mentioned previously): Stuart Appleby, Nick O’Hern, Mathew Goggin, Rod Pampling, Aaron Baddely, Robert Allenby, Peter Lonard, John Sneden, Nathan Green, Jason Day, James Nitties, Matt Hill, Justin Rose, Brian Davis, Greg Owen, Alex Cejka, KJ Choi, Charlie Wi, Danny Lee, Martin Laird, Daniel Chopra, Frederick Jacobsen and Richard S Johnson

Young Guns (not previously mentioned): Webb Simpson, Anthony Kim, Chris Stroud, Kevin Na, Brandt Snedeker, Ricky Barnes, Steve Marino, Nicholas Thompson, Johnson Wagner, Ryan Moore, Troy Matteson, Jeff Overton, John Mallinger, Aron Price, Michael Letzig, Chez Reavie, Hunter Mahan, John Merrick, Charles Howell III, Bill Haas, Billy Horschel and Matt Hill

Grizzled Vets (not previously mentioned): Cliff Kresge, Jeff Maggert, Chris DiMarco, Billy Mayfair, Bart Bryant, Steve Flesch, Rocco Mediate, Tim Petrovick, Steve Lowery, Scott McCarron, Bob Estes, Tom Pernice Jr, Michael Allen, Paul Goydos, Olin Browne, Greg Kraft and Freddy Funk

Congressional Country Club – Bethesda, Md
Original architect: Devereut Emmet (1924)
Course redesign: Rees Jones (1984)
Par: 70
Has hosted 3 tour events (Including 2009)
Ranked 27th out of 54 for difficulty
Yardage: 7,255
Grass: Bentgrass (tees, fairways, greens); Kentucky Bluegrass, Bermudagrass, perennial ryegrass, fescue (rough); Poa annua (greens)
Stimpmeter: 12 ft
102 Sand Bunkers and 5 water hazards
Course Record 63 held by Tom Pernice Jr. 2008, 2nd round and Peter Lonard 2008 4th round
2 aces Corey Pavin on the 10th in 2008 and Kevin Stadler on the 13th in 2007
Most Difficult is the 11th a converted par 5, has an elevated tee that overlooks a tight landing area that slopes from left to right. Bunkers frame the right hand side. Any 2nd shot has to be accurate to negotiate the connect water hazard on the right and bunkers on the left. 2008: 0 eagles, 27 birdies, 250 pars, 83 bogeys, 23 double bogeys and 5 others.
Easiest hole is the 16th but few players will reach it in 2 as the drive must be hit into the face of a hill. The 2nd requires avoiding the bunkers on the right, on the approach as well as a huge bunker on the left and trees on the right. 2008: 3 eagles, 128 birdies, 239 pars, 17 bogeys, 1 double bogey and 0 others.
Source: PGATour.com

Course origins: Congressional Country Club was established in 1924. A group of legislators met in 1921 and decided the best way to break down the barrier between them and the country was through the formation of a country club and to invite, as co-members, professional businessmen from around the country. Today, the club membership is more family oriented. Some of the original founding members include Calvin Coolidge, Warren Harding, Woodrow Wilson, William H. Taft, Harvey S. Firestone, William C. Carnegie, William Randolph Hearst and Walter P. Chrysler.

The club has quite a history with tournament golf, playing host to the 1964 U.S. Open, 1976 PGA Championship, Kemper Open from 1980-1986, 1995 U.S. Senior Open and the 1997 U.S. Open. Congressional will also host the 2009 U.S. Amateur and the 2011 U.S. Open. —Source: Golf Course Superintendents Association of America

US Open Final Round

June 22nd, 2009

Well the 109th US Open is finally in the books. Congratulations to Lucas Glover whose final round 3 over par 73 was good enough for a total of 276 and a 2 stroke win. At T2 it was Phil Mickelson, David Duval and Ricky Barnes all at 278. Phil made a run and was in contention for a playoff but bogeys at 15 and 17 ruined his day. Still a valiant effort considering all the stress he has been under these past few weeks. Ross Fisher was alone in 5th place with a score of 279. In the T6 spot was Tiger Woods, Soren Hansen and Hunter Mahan all at even par 280. Henrik Stensen took the 9th spot with a 281. And rounding out the top ten at T10 it was Rory McIlroy, Matt Bettencourt, Sergio Garcia, Ryan Moore, Stephen Ames and Mike Weir at 282.

J.B. Holmes was the Driving Distance leader at a 4 day average of 303.5 yards. Francesco Molinari led the field in Driving Accuracy with a 4 day average of 85.71%. Ross Fisher led in Greens In Regulation with a 4 day average of 76.39%. In Sand Saves France’s Thomas Levet was 100%, but he only found the sand twice, I felt the more impressive stat was Ross Fisher who found the sand 9 times and saved it 8 for a 4 day total of 88.89%. Course the idea is not to find the sand at all so people can argue over that one at the local watering hole. Birdie leader was David Duval with 19, followed closely by Phil Mickelson and Hunter Mahan with 17. There were 8 eagles scored this year, one each by Ricky Barnes, Phil Mickelson, Ross Fisher, Vijay Singh, Kevin Sutherland, Gary Woodland, Gonzalo Fernando-Castano and Simon Dyson.

US Open Round 3

June 22nd, 2009

At the end of round 3 Ricky Barnes held onto to a 1 shot lead over Lucas Glover. At one point he was 11 under par but he had a rather up and down rough round and ended with a bogey at 18.

All things considered it was a relatively quiet day, more about players having a bad day than anyone player standing out as having a good day. Phil shot a 1 under par to put himself into position and Tiger shot a 2 under par to move up a little.

Round 4 started as soon as possible after round 3 was completed and the weather forecast has called for the rain to diminish for the Monday finish. As of this writing some of the players have finished round 4 and the leaders have made the turn. Ricky Barnes is having a rough day today so far but he still has a lot of golf left so he could yet turn it back around. Lucas Glover is the current leader; Phil has moved into T2 with Mahan and Barnes and is 2 shots back. Tiger has moved into the T7 slot but only has a couple holes left to play.

US Open Round 2

June 20th, 2009

Congratulations to Ricky Barnes who has the lowest 36 hole score on record for the 109 years of the US Open. Some are now calling the course a pushover, I would beg differ and believe that Mr. Barnes has earned his place in history, he is there in the books now regardless. He shot 67/65 for a 132.

Alone in 2nd place is Lucas Glover 1 shot back shooting 69/64 for a 133, and also alone in 3rd is Mike Weir shooting 64/70 for a 134. The trio of Peter Hansen, David Duval and Azuma Yana are T4 with 137’s to their credit. Five players are T7 to round out the top 10; those are Lee Westwood, Todd Hamilton, Ross Fisher, Sean O’Hair and Nick Taylor who are all at 138.

Phil Mickelson is at even par T12, Tiger Woods is T34 at +3; the cut fell at +4 and includes exactly 60 players. Normally it is the low 60 and ties and anyone within 10 shots of the lead, but due to Ricky Barnes tremendous play it just turned out that exactly 60 players made the cut. Some of the big names left out are Padraig Harrington, Ernie Els, David Toms, Matt Kuchar, Miguel Angel Jiminez, Boo Weekley, Nick Watney and Zach Johnson. Freddy Funk who nearly withdrew from this year’s competition due to pain in his surgically repaired right knee birdied the final hole to make the cut on the number.

Tournament officials seem to be doing everything in their power to end the tournament on Sunday with a 7:30 start and all but 21 have players have at least started the 3rd round. They will be playing from the front nine and the back nine at the same time. So if the weather cooperates they should be able to finish.

Stat leaders who survived the cut: Driving Distance Angel Cabrera and Andres Romero are tied at exactly 300 yards, 5 players are at 100% in Driving Accuracy those being Molinari, Mahan, Choi, Mayfair & Mclardy, and 6 players are at 100% in GIR those being Stricker, Goosen, Mahan, Holmes, Cabrera and Mayfair. Of course those are incomplete as some players haven’t started their 3rd round and Choi for instance has only played 1 hole in the 3rd but he is officially listed at 100% in driving accuracy.

Sources: USOpen.com, NBC Sports, The Golf Channel

Play Suspended at US Open

June 18th, 2009

After 3 hours and 15 minutes play was suspended at the 109th US Open. 78 players made it onto the course, none made it past 11 holes.

On an already soaked course, with steady rains and torrents of water running through the fairways it became apparent to USGA officials the course was unplayable. Play will resume Friday weather permitting.

VA inspections show continued exam flaws

June 16th, 2009

From The Washington Times:

“Fewer than half of Veterans Affairs centers given a surprise inspection last month had proper training and guidelines in place for common endoscopic procedures such as colonoscopies – even after the agency learned that mistakes may have exposed thousands of veterans to HIV and other diseases.”

“The random inspections were conducted May 13-14 at 42 VA medical centers across the country. They found that 43 percent of the centers have standard operating procedures in place and have properly trained their staffs for using endoscopic equipment.”