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The Memorial Tournament round 2

Friday, June 5th, 2009

The course played tougher today and emerging as co-leaders were Jonathon Byrd and Jim Furyk who stand at 7 under par 137. Byrd put forth a really nice effort today shooting a 4 under par 68, while Furyk shot a 2 under par 70. At T3 are Mike Weir and Mark Wilson, Weirsy shot a 3 under par 69 today and Wilson shot a 2 under par 70, they are both 1 shot back at 138, 6 strokes under par. Ryuji Imada and Matt Bettencourt are T5 2 strokes back at 139, shooting 3 and 4 under par respectively today. Ten golfers are T7 to round out the top ten, those being: Steve Marino, Rod Pampling, Ernie Els, Stewart Cink, Chris DeMarco, Matt Kuchar, Charl Schwartzel, Jason Day, Luke Donald and Davis Love III. The T7 contingent are all 3 strokes back at 140.

The cut was set at 4 over par, all those at T71 or better. Some of the players not playing the weekend are Vijay Singh, Carl Pettersson, Jesper Parnevik, Fredrick Jacobson, Mark Calcavecchia, John Mallinger, Padraig Harrington, Danny Lee, J.B. Holmes, Aaron Baddely and Adam Scott. Withdrawing were Sean O’Hair, Billy Andrade and Scott Percy.

Stats are as follows: Scoring average Jonathon Byrd at 68.5, field average is 73.49, Driving Distance led by Dustin Johnson at 314.8 while the field is averaging 285 yards, Driving Accuracy Kevin Na with 92.86% and the field is at 72.54%, Greens in Regulation led by Ernie Els at 77.78% with the field average at 58.81%, Jonathon Byrd also led in Scrambling at 100% while the field average was 50.66%, Putts per Round it was Steve Lowery with 24 and the field average at 28.88.

The toughest hole was a tie between 10 and 18, while the easiest hole was the 7th. I was particularly impressed with the post round interviews of Jim Furyk, Tiger Woods and Mike Weir. Weirsy and Furyk are two guys who rarely beat themselves and tend to be steady Eddy on the golf course. Some might consider that a conservative approach but consistency is what pays off on the golf course. Speaking of consistency TW has hit more fairways in this tournament than he has in awhile, he’s only missed 3 in 36 holes, his problems today was trying to be too aggressive. Shooting a 74 was his highest round since the US Open in 2007, and he is still only 6 strokes out of the lead. His mood was positive when interviewed, the course is playing tough which was the biggest conservation of the day and I believe he will rebound, not saying he will win but you can never count him out either. Nice to see Ernie turn in a fine couple of rounds, he has only been in the top ten twice this year and he played the first two rounds with Tiger which is always going to be a circus with the gallery and the media. Losing the playoff at Colonial hasn’t seemed to bother Steve Marino, a name you don’t hear a lot but if you watch golf it is someone you are aware of has he turns in a pretty steady performance week in and week out.

The Golf Channel is reporting TW’s knee is not 100%, I say quit beating a dead horse. It may never be 100% again let it go.

Sources: and the Golf Channel
Opinions my own

The Memorial Tournament Round 1

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Luke Donald shot an 8 under par 64 to take the lead in the first round of play at Jack’s place. He is T96 in driving distance at 270 yards, 55.6% and T55 in GIR but he is also first in putts per GIR at an impressive 1.3. Four players are T2 with 5 under par 67’s; Jim Furyk, Jason Day, Ted Purdy and Thomas Aiken. Three players are T6 with 4 under par 68’s to their credit; Steve Marino, Stewart Cink and Mark Wilson. There are nine players T9 with 3 under par 69’s; Troy Madison, Johnson Wagner, Kevin Sutherland, Nicholas Thompson, Rod Pampling, Tiger Woods, Mike Weir, Jonathon Byrd and Reinier Saxton.

Key stats Luke Donald in scoring average (64) with the field averaging 73.61 and putts per round (20) with the field average at 28.88, J.B. Holmes in driving distance (338.5) with the field averaging 283.7 yards, Tiger Woods leads in driving accuracy (92.86%) with the rest of the field at an average of 72.5%, Jonathon Byrd has the lead in Greens In Regulation (88.89%) and the field average is at 58.19%, scrambling is led by Troy Matteson with (100%) while the field is averaging 51.72%.

It was unfortunate to see J.B. Holmes alone in 118th position (out of 120) at 10 over par 82, it would take more than a career day to salvage that and stick around for the weekend. If the cut were made today I would place it around T67 which would leave out some big names like JB, Vijay, Padraig Harrington and Sean O’Hair just to name a few struggling. Most of those players still have an opportunity tomorrow, right now T67 is 2 over although that will surely thin out and be closer to even par or 1 under by the end of round 2. Since ties count there are currently 17 players in the top 10, but that won’t be the case by the end of tomorrows round. Tiger was looking good but bogeys on 13 and 18 hurt his score, still he did have 5 birdies and he is the world’s number 1 player. We will have to wait and see if he can put together a bogey free round to make a run at the leader. Right now Luke Donald is in the driver’s seat and it is on his own shoulders if he can hang on to the lead.
Sources: The Golf Channel,
Opinions my own

Memorial Tournament

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Inside the field: the Memorial Tournament

Tiger Woods, Zach Johnson, Steve Stricker, Geoff Ogilvy, Sean O’Hair, Kenny Perry, Nick Watney, Paul Casey, Padraig Harrington, Vijay Singh, Camilo Villegas, Dustin Johnson, Mark Wilson, Y.E. Yang, Brian Gay, Jerry Kelley, Carl Pettersson, Ernie Els, Tom Lehman, Ben Curtis, David Duval, Davis Love III Jim Furyk, Mark Brooks, Mark Calcavecchia, Mike Weir, Shaun Michael, Todd Hamilton, Jose Maria Olazabal, Daniel Chopra, Justin Rose, Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Jason Day, Adam Scott, Martin Kaymer and Ryuji Imada are some of the players who have entered the tournament. Trevor Immelman and Brandt Snedeker were forced to withdraw after the deadline. Phil Mickelson will be back for the US Open kudos to him for putting family first over these past few weeks.

Inside the course: Muirfield Village Golf Club
Sometimes referred to as “Jack’s Place”
The original architect: Jack Nicklaus and Desmond Muirhead in 1974
Par is 72 and counting this years tournament 34 tour evens have been played at this venue. The course was ranked 5 out of 54 in difficulty for the PGA tour in 2008. It plays to 7,285 yards down from 7,366 in 2008. Grass is Bentgrass, Poa assua (tees), Bentgrass, zoysiagrass (fairways), Bentgrass (greens), Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and fine fescue (rough). The Stimpmeter runs 13ft, there are 73 sand bunkers and 13 water hazards. The course record is 61 by John Huston in the 3rd round of the 1996 tournament. There have been 14 aces recorded in tournament history, 5 on the 4th, 4 on the 12th, 3 on the 16th and 2 on the 8th.

The most difficult hole in 2008 was 17 which was a revamped par 4 and one of Muirfield’s toughest tests. Trees to the right cause a blind approach from that side of the fairway. The rolling green is small and heavily bunkered and is fronted by a deep, rough-filled valley that can threaten the second shot off a short drive. 2008 saw 0 eagles, 34 birdies, 206 pars, 127 bogeys, 1 double or worse.
The easiest hole was 7 an exposed, elevated, bunker-lined, double-dogleg hole, reachable in two by only the longest hitters. A rough-grassed swale sweeps from the right in front of the green. Bunkers guard the front left and right, and rear right of the putting surface, which breaks severely off to the left towards a wooded ravine. Not an easy hole to birdie, but 2008 saw 7 eagles, 130 birdies, 188 pars, 57 bogeys, 8 doubles, 0 worse.

Course origins
Muirfield Village Golf Club was the dream and work of Jack Nicklaus. The land was acquired in 1966, but construction did not begin until July 28, 1972. The golf course is situated on 220 acres, which includes an 11-acre driving range. The course was officially dedicated on Memorial Day — May 27, 1974 — with an exhibition match between Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf. Nicklaus scored a 6-under 66, which stood as the course record until 1979.
The 18-hole layout, selected by Golf Digest as No. 16 among “America’s 100 Greatest Courses,” played at 6,978 yards in its original form, but is 7,265 at present. It had 77 bunkers, now 73, and water can be a hazard on 13 holes. A Columbus Pro-Am on Aug. 11, 1975, was the first event held at Muirfield, and the first Memorial Tournament was played in May 1976. The course has also hosted the 1986 U.S. Junior Amateur, the 1987 Ryder Cup Matches, the USGA’s 1992 United States Amateur Championship, the 1995 Wendy’s Three-Tour Challenge and the 1998 Solheim Cup.
Tournament host Jack Nicklaus was the recipient of the 2005 GCSAA Old Tom Morris Award, GCSAA’s highest honor. Nicklaus received the award at the GCSAA Educational Conference and Inaugural Golf Industry Show in Orlando Feb. 7-12, 2005. –Source: Golf Course Superintendents Assocation of America

Memorial Day

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

By Dorin Matney

I wanted to express what Memorial Day means to me. I think it’s great that people want to celebrate, cookout on the grill and enjoy one another’s company however they see fit. Whether that be supporting the big races this weekend, the Indianapolis 500 or the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, participating in or watching a local or professional golf tournament, spending a day out on the lake or simply staying home and tending the garden. As the saying goes, “whatever trips your trigger.” If it makes you happy, I’m ecstatic.

The observance of a Memorial Day is not uniquely American but did begin for Americans shortly after the War Between the States more commonly referred to as the Civil War. Celebrated by both sides the North and South to honor their fallen heroes, it was on May 30, 1870 General John Alexander Logan gave the following oration delivered on the occasion of decorating Union Soldiers graves at Arlington National Cemetery:
Homage to fallen heroes is not an invention of our days. History beams with examples how various nations in various ages have honored their patriot dead. It was a custom established by the laws of Athens that the obsequies of those who had fallen for their country in battle should be performed in the most public and solemn manner. The bones of the slain were gathered on the plains or mountains, and were brought in solemn procession to the city. There, in tents, they were guarded in state, and received the votive offerings of friends and relatives, such as flowers, weapons, and precious ornaments, which were brought as tributes of affection and evidence of the proper appreciation of their services. … Where such a custom existed, it is not to be marveled at that patriotism and love of country burned in every Grecian breast with a flame which a thousand years of oppression and tyranny were unable to crush out. … Can we be surprised that in such hearts the memory of Thermopylae and Marathon was always fresh? And shall we, the freest of all nations, in our paradise of liberty feel less patriotic fire in our breasts … ? Shall we neglect the graves of those who sacrificed their lives to defend the palladium of our liberty, to perpetuate our national unity, and shield our rights forever? … This Memorial Day, on which we decorate their graves with the tokens of love and affection, is no idle ceremony with us, to pass away an hour; but it brings back to our minds in all their vividness the fearful conflicts of that terrible war in which they fell as victims. … Let us , then, all unite in the solemn feelings of the hour, and tender with our flowers the warmest sympathies of our souls! Let us revive our patriotism and love of country by this act, and strengthen our loyalty by the example of the noble dead around us….

There are many cities and towns that lay claim to fame as the birthplace of “Memorial Day”, Petersburg, VA, Waterloo, NY, and Boalsburg, PA to name a few. For whatever reason that may be lost to history and scholars can debate it all they want. As for me, perhaps it is the romantic in me but I kind of like the idea that General Logan’s wife observed the ladies of the South decorating the graves of the fallen from the battle of June 9, 1864 and inspired him to write General order #11 for the Grand Army of the Republic. It works for me. What I hope that everyone takes away from this is that Memorial Day is the day we honor our fallen heroes, to include the military, police and fireman who gave the ultimate sacrifice for us so that we may be the freest of nations as stated by General Logan in his eloquent address.

This poem was written by John McCrae in 1915:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place, and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, Felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe,
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Moina Michael wrote the following poem and conceived the idea to wear a red poppy on Memorial Day:
We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

Were I loquacious enough I’d write a poem, unfortunately I’m not. Be that as it may I would ask everyone in their various frivolities over this Memorial Day weekend to take a minute and just thank those that did make the ultimate sacrifice. Because freedom is not free, it comes with a very big price tag.

A Bright Idea

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Bright Automotive based out of Anderson, IN unveiled a vehicle that gets 100 MPG yesterday in Washington DC. That’s 1000 miles per 10 gallons of gasoline.

The vehicle as I understand it is basically a “hybrid hybrid”, it is this kind of innovation that people with means should be investing in. While I largely do not support the government bailing out failed banking and manufacturing companies, I would support efforts to establish a loan to get this company off the ground. It isn’t a solution but it is a start in the right direction.

I suppose that some form of infrastructure would be needed for recharging and that too would help stimulate the economy to some degree.

Nice to see some real thinking for a change. In my opinion. – Dorin

The Masters Final Round 2009

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

Angel Cabrera is the 2009 Masters champion. It was not won without drama, Kenny Perry had a two stroke lead after 16 holes and having gone 23 bogey free holes dropped a shot on 17 and another on 18 to force a three way playoff between himself, Cabrera and Chad Campbell. On the first playoff hole Cabrera was seemingly dead in the water, stymied at the base of a tree, took a shot through the trees just trying to stay right of the hole with the pin placement on the left, ricocheted off a tree into the middle of the fairway. Perry and Campbell were fine but on their second shots Campbell found the bunker and Perry found the rough to the right of the hole. Cabrera’s third hit the green leaving himself a relatively easy putt for par, Perry’s chip was nothing short of phenomenal as he chipped to within about 18 inches for an easy par, but it was Campbell with the difficult bunker shot that went left himself a long par putt which he missed. Perry and Cabrera both made their par putts and headed to the 10th for the second playoff hole. Both players had beautiful drives in the middle of the fairway but Perry’s second shot was well to the left of the hole, leaving him an awkward chip shot, while Cabrera second left him on the green with an easy two putt for par. Kenny’s chip was thin, trapping the ball and running well past the hole, a putt back to the hole still left him some 6 feet for bogey and all Angel had to do was leave his first putt within striking distance which he did wonderfully and tap in for par sealed his 2009 Masters victory.

There was some well played golf today, while the leaders stayed somewhat benign Phil and Tiger made runs from back in the pack, but they were too far behind at the start of the day to make it, to the top. At one point Phil got within one shot of the lead but at the end of the day it would not have mattered, as the leaders got just enough that they would have stayed on top anyway. Angel Cabrera first, Perry and Campbell T2 all at 12 under par, Shingo Katayama alone in 3rd place at 10 under par, Phil Mickelson in 4th at 9 under par, Tiger Woods, Steve Flesch, Steve Stricker and John Merrick T5 at 8 under par, Hunter Mahan, Jim Furyk and Sean O’Hair were T9 at 7 under.

So now we wait, for another year until the next Masters tournament. Congratulations to Angel Cabrera for an outstanding victory and four very solid days of golf on what are arguably the grandest stage and possibly the toughest test of skill and patience in sports.

The Masters Round 3 2009

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

Three rounds down and Masters Sunday is all that remains of the 2009 Masters. The week has went much too fast and it is hard to believe it is almost over for another year.
Kenny Perry and Angel Cabrera are tied atop the leaderboard at 11 under par. In 3rd place sits Chad Campbell at 9 under, Jim Furyk has 4th place at 8 under par and Steve Stricker holds down 5th at 7 under par. Todd Hamilton, Shingo Katayama and Rory Sabbatini are T6 at 6 under. Tim Clark remains at -5 to be alone in the 9th spot and rounding out the top 10 are 9 players at 4 under par including Anthony Kim, Hunter Mahan, Stephen Ames, Nick Watney, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sean O’Hair.

Angel and Kenny are both known for not making mistakes to give up a final round. If anyone is going to overtake them they are going to have to play some phenomenal golf, because it is unlikely they are going to get “help” from the leaders. At 48 years 8 months Kenny Perry would be not only the oldest Masters champion but would have the honor of being the oldest winner of a major in history. It should be interesting to watch that final group. The golf world got the pairing they wanted in Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods albeit earlier in the day than the majority had hoped. At 7 strokes back it is unlikely either will be able to mount a final charge to earn another green jacket. I don’t believe that anyone out of the top five has a real shot at winning this year. I believe the old saying goes something like, never say never? We could see a record setting performance come from back in the pack, but Cabrera and Perry have been very consistent throughout the tournament.

The Golf Channel spent about an hour with two time champion Ben Crenshaw yesterday that was really enjoyable. He provided some tales and cleared up a couple myths surrounding his Masers victories. They let him take us through the pin placements on Saturday prior to the tournament coverage provided by CBS. The Sunday pin placements should be interesting this year, as they have used some of the traditional Sunday pin placements throughout the tournament, mixing them in everyday. I wonder if Billy Payne and the committee have some surprises in store for us this year. In my opinion Mr. Payne has done a wonderful job since replacing Hootie. Eight of the eighteen greens have been rebuilt with hydronic systems that regulate turf heating and cooling. Three were completed last summer and those they have left are 2, 7, 8, 10, 11 and 14 through 18. Augusta does not release official stimp meter readings for their greens, estimations are that they run at 12 or a little better. That is fast, most amateurs probably find 8 to be a pretty fast green at there local courses. Mr. Crenshaw mentioned just how fast these greens are and if you have paid attention you’ve most likely noticed just how easy they have been hitting their putts. Slow and steady will win this race today, looking over some of the scorecards this morning I noticed that very few players have even two sub 70 rounds this year and if I’m not mistaken only Angel Cabrera has put together three sub up 70 rounds. Keep it in the fairway and don’t get too greedy, that is what the co-leaders need to do. The rest of the field needs to take some chances and challenge the greens on the reachable par 5’s if they are going to have a chance at winning.

The Masters Round 2 2009

Friday, April 10th, 2009

Kenny Perry putting together rounds of 68/67 is T1 with Chad Campbell at 9 under atop the leaderboard at Augusta. Alone in 3rd place sets Angel Cabrera at 8 under par with Todd Hamilton holding onto the 4th position at 6 under par and Tim Clark is by himself in 5th position at 5 under. Five players are T6 with impressive rounds coming from Anthony Kim shooting a 65 today, Rory Sabbatini and Sergio Garcia with a pair of 67’s, Kim moved up 69 positions on the leaderboard while Rory and Sergio moved up 45 positions. Shingo Katayama and Jim Furyk hold down the other two positions at T6, they both shot over par and fell down the board. Eight players are T11 at 3 under par including Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Hunter Mahan, Nick Watney, Henrick Stenson, Stephen Ames, Geoff Ogilvy and Vijay Singh. There are nine players 7 shots back at 2 under par, Tiger Woods, Camilo Villegas, Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood, Dustin Johnson, Sandy Lyle, Aaron Baddely, Graeme McDowell and John Merrick. Baddely and Merrick fell 13 positions, Harrington and McDowell fell 5 positions, the rest of the players at T19 moved up the board Villegas moved up 32 positions, Lyle and Johnson moved up 20, Tiger and Westwood up 2 both by just shooting par today. Five players are T28 at 1 under, Rocco Mediate, Ken Duke, Larry Mize, Miguel Angel Jiminez and Mike Weir. Nine players made the cut at even par and an additional nine players at 1 over. Exactly 50 players made the cut.

Some of those who did not make the cut are past champions Zach Johnson, Bernhard Langer, Fuzzy Zoeller and Gary Player. It was the last Masters for Player and Zoeller who both received a very deserved welcome walking up to the 18th green, the emotion was overwhelming and I don’t mind saying it brought a tear to my eye both times. Stewart Cink, Greg Norman, Robert Karlson, Pat Perez, Ben Crenshaw and two of the three teenagers Danny Lee and Ryo Ishikawa also did not make the field. You had to feel for Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng who shot a 69 on Thursday only to follow it up with an 84 and end up 9 over par at 153.

Such is the game, 96 players came in and 50 remain. Only two players have ever won the Maters being outside the top five after 36 holes. That doesn’t bode well for Tiger and Phil or the Paddy slam. I’ll certainly be watching those players but right now I have got to pull for 48 year old Kenny Perry. He isn’t in my foursome in the fantasy golf league this week. After I finish this I have to go in and bench Zach Johnson and Robert Karlson but I have good prospects in their designated replacements Tim Clark and Rocco Mediate. I’d say any player within 7 shots of the lead has a real chance to win but in order for that to happen, the leaders are going to have to stumble and I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.

Augusta National Golf Club

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

The original architects were Bobby Jones and Alistair MacKenzie. Augusta opened in 1934 and played to 6,700 yards. From it’s inception the course was meant to be modified over the years, in 1938 it was lengthened to 6,800 yards, in 1942 another 100 yards were added to make it 6,900 yards, in 1952 6,950 yards, in 1956 6,965 yards and again in 1957 another 15 yards was added to make it 6,980 yards in length. It wasn’t lengthened again until 1974 when it was changed to 7,020 yards, in 1976 it was 7,030 yards, in 1978 it played to 7,040 yards, then in 1981 the course was shortened to 6,905 yards, in 1994 6,925 yards, in 1999 6,985 yards, in 2002 it went to 7,270 yards, in 2003 7,290 yards, then in 2006 7,445 yards and now in 2009 7,435 yards. I find it interesting that for all that has been and is said about the course length, over the years it has really been the short game that wins The Masters. Case in point, in 2007 Zach Johnson never went for a single par 5 in 2, but rather chose to lay up and subsequently that was where he got the majority of his birdies. Last years winner Trevor Immelman, followed a similar path to victory. Tiger’s winning of the green jacket can be attributed more to his chipping and putting than any other aspect of his game and I suspect that it will be course management that again decides this year’s eventual winner.

Nick Price and Greg Norman share the honor of holding the course record of 63, first by Price in 1986 and tied by Norman in 1996. Price’s coming in the 3rd round and Norman’s in the 1st round. There have been eight aces recorded at the Masters tournament, 6 of them coming at 16, one at 4 and one at 6. The most difficult hole is the 505 yard, par 4, 11th which requires a 300 yard drive in order to crest the hill. There are some 3 dozen trees guarding the right side of the fairway and makes it very tight, a pond guards the green on the left and a bunker on the back right. The safe play is to lay up short and to the right. The easiest hole is the 15th, a par 5 that plays 530 yards. A mature cluster of pine trees on the right side of the fairway makes a straight tee shot critical here. The green can be reached in 2 provided the good shot off the tee, but again a pond guards the green on the front and a bunker to the right. It was Gene Sarazan’s famous double eagle with a 4 wood that put the Masters on the map in 1935 at this hole.

Our weakened economy has had an effect on this year’s tournament. AP press releases have indicated scalpers 4 day ticket prices that fetched as much as $3,500 last year are going for $1,350 this year. Party homes that corporate sponsors rented out for 25 grand are now going for 16. Chef Karl Kwoka was quoted as saying that he only has 1 company to prepare for this year and that he will lose somewhere in the neighborhood of $70,000 this year compared to what he earned at last years tournament. President of Augusta rental agency Corporate Quarters, Diane Starr stated she normally rents out 400 properties and this year that number has dwindled to 300. The Augusta Convention and Tourist Bureau estimates that the tournament normally brings in $100 million to the local economy but they will fall far short of that this year. I was unable to find out how short those estimates are for this year but I suspect at the end of the tournament they will still find themselves with a cash infusion into their local economy in the 75 mil range. Not too shabby for a single golf tournament.

The Masters – Facts and Trivia

Monday, April 6th, 2009

It is finally upon us, in my opinion the most anticipated golf tournament of the year. The Masters, the hallowed ground of Augusta National, I thought it would be appropriate to start the week off with a few facts and a little trivia about the course and history of the first major of the year, something we just simply call – The Masters.

This will be the 73rd Masters tournament. April 9-12, 2009 at the Augusta National Golf Club, course length is 7,435 yards, par is 72, 36 out and 36 in. Television coverage will be provided by ESPN Thursday-Friday, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and by CBS Sports Saturday, 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, 2:30 to 7 p.m. The field is comprised of 96 players, 5 of whom are amateurs. Defending champion is Trevor Immelman.
Ten years ago: Jose Maria Olazabal held off Greg Norman on the back nine to win his second Masters.
Twenty-five years ago: Ben Crenshaw holed a 60-foot putt on the 10th hole and went on to his first of two Masters Titles.
Fifty years ago: Art Wall became the only Masters champion to start the final round out of the top 10.

Tiger Woods, who last won a green jacket in 2005, has never gone more than three years without winning the Masters since he won his first green jacket in 1997.
This year’s field has three teenagers – 17-year-old Ryo Ishikawa, 18-year-old Danny Lee and 19-year-old Rory McIlroy. provides one hour of coverage each day before the telecast. That includes live video of Amen Corner starting at 10:45 a.m. Thursday and Friday, 12:45 p.m. on Saturday, 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, live video of the 15th and 16th holes starting at 11 a.m. Thursday and Friday, and 1 p.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday.

Fun numbers
Gary Player earned $313,162 making 51 appearances while Mark Hensby earned $304,500 in just two appearances.
$500—Room rate for the Augusta Marriott Hotel & Suites the Monday of the Masters.
$179—Room rate for the Augusta Marriott Hotel & Suites the Monday after the Masters.
$200—Cost of a Masters ticket for all four rounds.
$36—Ticket price for the practice round on Monday or Tuesday.

Jack Nicklaus has played 163 rounds and made 506 career birdies at the Masters.
0-Bunkers found on the 14th hole.
1-Number of years it took Fuzzy Zoeller to win the Masters.
$1.50—Cost of a pimiento cheese sandwich.
2-Gene Sarazen’s score on the par-5 15th hole in the 1935 Masters.
3-Bridges at Augusta National.
4-Tom Weiskopf’s runner-up finishes at the Masters.
5-Largest first-round lead, by Craig Wood in 1941.
6-Green jackets won by Jack Nicklaus
$6.25—Cost of a Masters club sandwich, beer and potato chips.
7-Consecutive birdies made by Tiger Woods in 2005 and Steve Pate in 1999.
8-Largest final-round comeback to win the Masters, by Jack Burke Jr. in 1956.
9-Jack Nicklaus’ margin of victory over Arnold Palmer and Gary Player in 1965.
10-Cabins at Augusta National where members can stay.
11-Players who have made an ace on the 16th hole.
12-Tiger Woods’ margin of victory in 1997.
13-The score taken by Tom Weiskopf on the par-3 12th hole in the 1980 Masters.
21-Age of Tiger Woods when he won his first Masters.
40-Tiger Woods’ first nine holes as a professional.
42-Fewest players in the field, in 1938 and 1942.
109-Most players in the field, in 1962.
61-Number of Magnolia trees on the road that leads to the Augusta National clubhouse.
1,600-Azaleas on the 13th hole.
72-Lowest score ever shot by Bobby Jones in the Masters.
63-Lowest 18-hole score, by Nick Price and Greg Norman
97-Gene Sarazen’s age when he hit the ceremonial first tee shot for the last time.
70-Age of Charles Coody when he made a hole-in-one in the Par 3 Contest.
270-Lowest 72-hole score, by Tiger Woods in 1997.
235-Yards to the 15th hole when Gene Sarazen made double eagle in 1935 with a 4-wood.
Arnold Palmer competed in 50 Masters Tournaments.
Jack Nicklaus won his final Maters tournament at the age of 46.

USS Port Royal Update

Monday, March 9th, 2009

From The Honolulu Star Bulletin:

The Navy said it will cost at least $40 million to repair the Port Royal’s hull, propellers, drive shaft, sonar dome and other parts of the $1 billion warship, taking it out of commission for several months.

The amount does not include $18 million already spent on the guided-missile cruiser.

Story here

WGC: Accenture Match Play Round 5

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Two left standing, sort of, two more left to battle it out for 3rd place, Australian Geoff Ogilvy dispatched American Stewart Cink 4 & 2, although a tight match most of the day the momentum went Ogilvy’s way on the par 5 13th with Cink missing his birdie putt and Ogilvy sinking his, then on the drivable par 4 15th both players drove the green Cink missed for eagle while Ogilvy made his leaving him 3 up with 3 to play, then went on to win on the 16th. On the other hand the other match was just nasty all day, neither player performed particularly well but the battle of the Englishmen went to Paul Casey 2 & 1.

#2 Ogilvy defeated #6 Cink
#6 Casey defeated #9 Fisher

Geoff Ogilvy plays Paul Casey in the 36 hole championship event Sunday
Stewart Cink plays Ross Fisher in the 18 hole consolation match for 3rd place

If one wonders how big a deal it is, the difference between 2nd and 3rd is one quarter of a million dollars, that’s right $250,000.00 not to mention the points for the Official World Golf Rankings.

The Championship match tees off at 7:20AM
The Consolation match tees off at 11:45AM

The Golf Channel will broadcast the first 18 holes from 10-1:30 then NBC will pick up the coverage from 2-6

Although the NBC analyst Johnny Miller and the Golf Channel both wanted to hype the fact that Ogilvy and Casey are friends who coincidently live up I-10 in the Scottsdale area and had visited the course the week prior to the event, I don’t see that as a big deal they earned their respective places in the event. Any other player, regardless of where they live could have just as easily done the same. After all it was a business trip the mileage and the luncheon are tax deductable. At the end of the day match play is all about beating your opponent, whether that be by capitalizing on his mistakes or just flat out “out-golfing” him, and that is what these players did to reach the finals. My predictions now stand thus; Ogilvy for the win, Casey runner-up, Cink for third and Fisher for fourth. One thing is evident after watching the Casey/Fisher match, both of those guy’s better bring a better game than did during this last round if they want to contend.

WGC: Accenture Match Play Round 4

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Wow what a turn of events. The quarter finals are over and it is now down to the semi finals this afternoon. Normally they have a brief respite in order to get a bite to eat in between rounds. After round 4 only 1 of my picks is left standing, Ogivly dispatched the young Rory McIlroy to advance 2 & 1. Stewart Cink put away the Big Easy Ernie Els 2 & 1 as well Ernie seemed a little off today. Paul Casey easily dismissed Sean O’Hair 4 & 3, not to take away from Casey’s win because a win is a win but it has been reported Sean O’Hair battled not only Paul Casey today but a case of food poisoning as well. Lastly Ross Fisher continued his unlikely run but had all he could handle in lion heart Justin Leonard winning 2 and 1 on the 17th. That leaves #2 seeded Geoff Ogilvy to play #6 seed Stewart Cink and #6 seed Paul Casey to face off against #9 seed Ross Fisher this afternoon.

Bobby Jones bracket:
#2 Geoff Ogilvy defeated #4 Rory McIlroy
Ogilvy faces off against Hogan bracket winner Cink

Ben Hogan bracket:
#6 Stewart Cink defeated #4 Ernie Els
Cink faces off against Jones bracket winner Ogilvy

Sam Snead bracket:
#9 Ross Fisher defeated #7 Justin Leonard
Fisher faces off against Player bracket winner Casey

Gary Player bracket:
#6 Paul Casey defeated #12 Sean O’Hair
Casey faces off against Snead bracket winner Fisher.

The winners will advance to the championship match while the losers will battle it out for 3rd tomorrow. The winners will have a 36 hole contest while the losers play 18.

With only 1 of my picks still standing I have to think Ogilvy has the edge to take it all but Cink is a very strong player in match play competition. I would think whoever wins their match this afternoon has to be the favorite for tomorrow. Fisher has had an unbelievable run but I believe it is going to come to an end against Paul Casey.

Short Sea Command Tour

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

The USS Port Royal (CG 73) has run aground near the port of Honolulu. Story here. Captain John Carroll took command of Port Royal in October 2008. If he hasn’t already been relieved of command he will be soon. There has been a conspicuous absence of official news from the Navy, and that is unfortunate.  Information gleaned from the news reporting indicate the sonar dome has been punctured, and based on the video and still pictures there will be significant damage to the hull.

Given that Port Royal had just completed a shipyard availability, and was conducting sea trials when she ran aground. She will now have to spend a lot of time in dry dock to repair the damage.  She will, thusly, be unavailable to perform until all repairs are complete and a whole new round of sea trials are completed.

Most Admirals don’t like that kind of thing.

Not to mention that this is a huge embarrassment for the Navy.

Buick Invitational 3rd Round

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

It’s John Rollins securely in the lead after 3 rounds of play. Many golfers believe that certain courses fit their eye better than others. John Rollins seems to have found one of his in the South Course at La Jolla, Ca’s Torrey Pines. From sun to rain back to sun to heavy rain and back to sun again it didn’t matter to Mr. Rollins. Shooting a 70 for 2 under par and a 3 stroke lead it is now his tournament to lose. He has led to begin the final round 3 times but failed to shoot under par twice. A dubious trend but one that should leave him little doubt should be broken Sunday. Camilo Vilegas is in sole possession of 2nd place shooting a 2 over par 74 today leaving himself 4 shots back, while Nick Watney is in 3rd alone at -7, 5 strokes behind the leader. Luke Donald and Paul Goydos are 6 strokes back at -6. Charley Hoffman had an interesting day, beginning with a triple bogey 7 on the 1st, a birdie on 3, a nice eagle on 6, another bogey on 12 during which his ball got stuck in a tree and was unplayable and ending with a bogey on 18. Still after all that he was only 2 over at 74, but that leaves him T6 with Lucas Glover and Charles Warren 7 strokes back. Phil Mickelson failed to produce yet again and is in a logjam at T20 which is 1 under par and 11 strokes behind the leader.

Hat’s off to Jason Gore, who does not have unconditional status on tour this year, playing with back spasms and after having been asked twice if he needed a doctor finally accepted a lidocaine patch and finished his round. He has to finish tomorrow to get a check and I believe he will gut it out. He needs to finish in the top 125 on the money list to gain unconditional status for next year.

Keep an eye on Charley Hoffman who has been quietly collecting Fed-ex Cup points and currently stands in 6th place. He should make a considerable gain this week with Johnson, Perry and Ogilvy all not playing.

Uneventful Day at the Buick Invitational?

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

Unless your name was John Rollins, round 2 proved to be a day of “just hold on”. Playing on the South Course John Rollins shot 7 birdies, an eagle and only 1 bogey for an 8 under par 64, Camilo Vilegas after a bogey on the 1st shot a 2 under par 70 to hold onto the lead by one stroke. Davis Love III carded 6 bogeys to drop from contention with a 77, while fellow contender Aaron Baddely shot a 76 including a nasty double on 14. Phil Mickelson had a roller coaster ride with 4 bogeys and 4 birdies but did make the cut which was set at +2.

Notables missing the cut included: Tom Lehman, Bob Tway, Rory Sabbatini, Brad Faxon, Briny Baird, Corey Pavin, Charlie Wi and John Merrick. Merrick was listed by several sports writers as a contender at La Jolla but failed to produce.

The tournament is far from over at this point, but it looks like it may come down to Camilo Vilegas and John Rollins unless someone digs deep to come from behind.

Gunner’s Mate Is A Right Arm Rate

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

Very old man, in American service when Asiatic Squadron was still in sail, told about firing ceremonial salutes aboard a man-o-war in those days.

Suppose a ship fired 13 guns. Gunner’s Mate would first tear piece of paper into 13 bits. He would take his post amidships with batteries on either hand, guns loaded and crew in readiness.

He would drop one of the 13 pieces of paper to the deck and say in singsong voice “If I were a gunner I wouldn’t hear starboard battery fire.” Sentence was to give correct interval between shots and repeated after each until salute completed and the 13th piece of paper dropped.

Many cases of gunners getting mixed up on number of shots fired before Gunner’s Mate thought of keeping track of them by paper.

Double Trouble

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

Well, we’re not going to create a separate category for tennis. Ever. But, we do need to give a nod to The Sisters of Swing, Venus and Serena.

These Gals Are Good

Tip For Filing New VA Benefits Claim

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Maybe you have heard or read about new investigations that revealed that thousands of critical claims documents have been shredded at VA offices all over the country.

What I rarely see mentioned by the VA or VSOs is an online tool that will provide an electronic “paper trail” of submitted claims.

For filing your claim for VA benefits go to:

After you have filed your claim electronically you will have a confirmation number and you can print out your filed application.

This guarantees that you have proof that you filed in case your claim has an “accident” involving a shredder.

Good luck, and if you want send me a note if I can help.

Brazil (Or: A Series Of Unfortunate Events)

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Ron Paul, on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), said: “Any nation willing to ask its men and women to risk their lives serving overseas must also be willing to take care of them when they come home. Veterans deserve dignified care, and we can’t provide that with a VA that is run like the Postal Service or the IRS.” Ron Paul gets it. He is a Veteran, doctor, and humanitarian. But probably most relevant to this discussion is his knowledge of our Federal Government. When he says that the VA is on par with the USPS and IRS that is significant.

Allow us to illustrate. We present a story of fictional Navy Veteran Lars Harfagre (any resemblance to a person living or dead is purely intentional). Lars spent thirteen years in the USN and had Wartime Service in Lebanon, Arabian Gulf, and Somalia.

While watching the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather (he didn’t have cable) one evening he learned that Veterans returning from service in the “Gulf War Theater” were experiencing significant health problems. As he listened to the list of symptoms being rattled off he had an “O shit” moment. He was personally experiencing many of the symptoms that he had just heard listed.

Flash forward to Saturday, December 6th, 2008. Lars is sitting quietly in his room, drooling a little onto his stained pajama top, watching ESPNHD. The only channel that he can watch without crying or throwing something. He is interrupted by Bubba’s Mail Call. He gets a letter from the VA Pension Management Center Milwaukee and assumes, incorrectly, that it is the annual announcement of the new pension rates. What he finds in the envelope is something that will take his figurative breath away.

We now have to go back to April 1997. Lars has been learning about what is being referred to as “Gulf War Syndrome”. He has had a Gulf War Registry Exam at the VA and has been counseled by the Missouri Veterans Commission (MVC) to submit a claim to the VA for service-connected disability benefits because new laws were enacted to provide benefits to Gulf War Veterans with so-called Gulf War Syndrome. Having lineage that runs through Lake Wobegon, Lars was above-average in the ability to use new-fangled World Wide internets to learn about stuff normally relegated to CSPAN. So he looked up the applicable laws and filed his claim in accord with.

When Harfagre filed that claim he listed several symptoms and stated that he believed those symptoms, combined, represented Gulf War Syndrome and he should be granted benefits on the presumption afforded him by law. Going on twelve years later, he now knows that it’s not the law that is important; Rather, it is how the VA interprets the law that is important. VA, contrary to the law, chose to separate the symptoms into several different issues and then began denying them one-by-one.

Stunned and discombobulated, Lars sought help from the MVC, as they were the designated representative on the claim; However, now that the claim transmogrified from something simple to something complex, the MVC expressed regret that there was nothing they could do because they chose to help people with simple claims, low-hanging fruit, that would easily increase the total dollar amount of claims they brought into the state. That way they could claim to really be helping Veterans because they were the representative on a Gazillion dollars worth of claims. Lars learned that this practice is not the sole providence of the MVC. Turns out that a whole lot of groups that purport to be fighting for the Veteran are actually just taking credit for work that they didn’t spend much efforting on.

Lars hired a lawyer in May of 2007 to take over as the representative on his now numerous claims. On August 12th, 2008, the lawyer sent a fax to the Nashville VA Regional Office (that’s where part of the claim was). The fax consisted of a cover sheet and a letter and stated that the original documents and other evidence would be sent by mail. The letter was very clear in what it was referring to. The Nashville VA stamped both faxed documents as “Received” on August 12th.

The news of the past couple of months has been chock full of stories about critical claims documents found in shredder bins at several VA offices all over the country. One could speculate that numerous Veterans have died waiting for benefits that, because their claim was shredded, were never “officially” applied for. It is perfectly reasonable to wonder how many Veterans of the Korean War who are not capable of self-advocacy, and trusted in the system, are being denied benefits that they are entitled to because a VA employee thought it acceptable to shred the claim instead of working it. But I digress.

So, on December 6th, Lars received a letter from the Milwaukee Pension Management Center. In addition to the letter there were three other pieces of paper included. Two of the pieces of paper in the envelope were the cover sheet and letter that the lawyer faxed to the Nashville VA Regional Office. That’s right, the Nashville VA sent, in the mail, two pieces of paper that were supposed to be added to the file that was in Nashville, to Milwaukee. Both pieces of paper were stamped “Received” by the Milwaukee VA on August 27th, 2008.

On August 12th, 2008 his lawyer faxed two pieces of paper to the Nashville VA. At some point after that an employee of the Nashville VA decided that the fax should have gone to Milwaukee. Despite the fact that it was clearly stated in the letter from the lawyer that it was related to an issue that Nashville was responsible for. The Milwaukee VA received the two pieces of paper on August 27th, 2008. Between August 27th and December 2nd, the day that the cover letter from Milwaukee is dated, the two pieces of paper made their way around Milwaukee. For over three months the two pieces of paper worked their way around Milwaukee until a VA employee decided that Lars was the person that should have the papers. Because, as the cover letter states, he does not have any claims pending.

Harfagre is confused about the statement that there are no claims pending. There are numerous claims pending and he is now wondering if the VA shredded all of his claims documents too.

Harfagre tells us that over the course of the nearly twelve years that he has been fighting the VA he has had other Veterans medical records placed in his claim file, and that decisions on his claims were the result of someone else’s information erroneously applied to his claims. Also, he has received other Veterans medical records and appointment information commingled with mail sent to him.

Lars has requested help numerous times from his elected representatives but they routinely tell him the same thing. That is they cannot “make” the VA adhere to the law. All they can do is request information from the VA on the Veteran’s behalf and then pass anything they receive to the Veteran. He has also requested help from the VFW but they have also hesitated to advocate because of the complexity of the case. Even the private lawyer Harfagre hired is struggling to manage the whole case.

And if all of that isn’t enough, he tells us that he has been charged copays for medication that should be copay exempt. He has recently been successful in getting the VA to stop charging the copays but he has been unsuccessful in getting a refund of the several hundred dollars of payments made in error. He states that employees in the business office are unaware of the VA policy that exempts Gulf War Veterans from being charged copays for medications prescribed for symptoms that may be related to Gulf War Illnesses. The VA pharmacy manual clearly states that these medications should not be charged a copay.

When asked what he attributes this myriad dysfunction to, he states: “Transparency, accountability, and training”. He feels that unless VA employees from the Secretary down to the new hire are held accountable, and that all VA employees and representatives who work on claims are thoroughly and properly trained, nothing will change. As far as transparency, Harfagre said that is a huge obstacle to real reform in the VA. He states that instead of transparency, we currently have the VA using their Public Affairs people trying to prevent bad press, and if they do get bad press those Public Affairs people will lie in an attempt to shift blame. What the VA needs, he says, is a Michael Tucker. He is the Army General that went into Walter Reed and said the bureaucracy stops now. He squared away Walter Reed and someone like him needs to go into the VA and say “enough”. When asked about the prospective new VA Secretary, Eric Shinseki, Lars said that his lineage also runs through Missouri and that Shinseki would have to “Show Me”.

And that other piece of paper in the envelope from Milwaukee was a form for Lars to make his “X” on and it has to be witnessed by two people.