Archive for February, 2009

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.

WGC: Accenture Match Play Round 3

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Round 3 is in the books, from 64 to 32 to 16 and now the elite eight squares off in the quarter finals. It is tough to pick what story is the story of the day, so many emotional moments, frustration and joy for the players, but how can we ignore 19 year old Rory McIlroy beating Tim Clark 4&3. He was 4 up through 6 and never really gave Clark a chance to catch him, five birdies and bogey free golf for the 15 holes it took to win. Now I was fortunate enough to see Tiger come up and I can’t tell you by watching his swing but the pundits who study these things all seem to agree that Rory’s swing and mechanics are better than Tiger’s at that age. If so golf world look out if this young man stay’s healthy he will surely some day claim title to #1. Not to take anything away from Ross Fisher who trounced Jim Furyk by the same 4&3 margin, he had a bogey at the fifth but still posted 7 birdies in his 15 holes, he appears to want to make a statement and so far he has with his game. Luke Donald who was 1 down going to the 18th tee had to concede his match against Ernie Els after tweaking his wrist on his drive at 17. Took a lot of maturity and courage to concede, healthy he had all the chance in the world to tie on 18 and go into a playoff but to risk further injury to the wrist was too a big a gamble. Mickelson was able to square his match with Cink but Stewart took the 17th and went to 18 1up to which Mickelson was unable to answer. Camilo Villegas tried to make a run on Geoff Ogilvy but never brought his putter today, with Ogilvy winning the match 2&1. Justin Leonard defeated Oliver Wilson in 19 holes, which I believe was the closest match of the day. Ian Poulter started his match with Sean O’Hair 2up but the steady play of O’Hair quickly turned that round and at one point went 3 up, O’Hair ended the match winning 2&1. Paul Casey stayed in control of his match with Peter Hansen to win outright 4&2.

By bracket beginning with the Bobby Jones bracket:
#4 Rory McIlroy defeated #8 Tim Clark
#2 Geoff Ogilvy defeated #3 Camilo Villegas
Saturday McIlroy plays Ogilvy (tee time 7:20 am) the winner will play the winner of the Ben Hogan bracket.

Ben Hogan bracket:
#4 Ernie Els defeated #9 Luke Donald (by concession)
#6 Stewart Cink defeated #2 Phil Mickelson
Saturday Els plays Cink (tee time 7:32 am) the winner will play the winner of the Bobby Jones bracket.

Sam Snead bracket:
#9 Ross Fisher defeated #4 Jim Furyk
#7 Justin Leonard defeated #11 Oliver Wilson
Saturday Fisher plays Leonard (tee time 7:44 am) the winner will play the winner of the Gary Player bracket.

Gary Player bracket:
#12 Sean O’Hair defeated #8 Ian Poulter
#6 Paul Casey defeated #15 Peter Hansen
Saturday O’Hair plays Casey (tee time 7:56 am) the winner will play the winner of the Sam Snead bracket.

Televised coverage for Saturday begins at 10 AM and ends at 2 PM (Golf Channel) and 2-6PM EST on NBC consisting of the four quarter final matches and followed up by two semi final matches. Sunday will have a 36 hole championship match and an 18 hole consolation match, to determine 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Televised coverage for Sunday is scheduled from 10 AM to 1:30 PM (Golf Channel) and 2-6PM EST on NBC. Amateurs tee it up Monday March 2nd but I do not believe any of that will be televised.

Ogilvy is leading the tour in birdies having converted 40% with a scoring average of 68.56 and has hit 79.49% of his greens in regulation this year. I believe he is the best golfer left in the field, however, he hasn’t faced the 19 year old Rory McIlroy who does not have stats compiled on the PGA Tour but he is leading this field in fairways in regulation and is near the top in greens in regulation for the event. It is unfortunate that this match can not decide the championship, were it not for the brackets falling the way they did it may very well have. Els scoring average is 69.5 and his GIR rating is 74.07% while Cink’s scoring average is 70.6 and his GIR rating is an even 70%, I’d like the Georgia Tech alum to take this match, but Ernie is playing better than I’ve seen him play in a long time. Going back to the old putter from the days he was really on form seems to have given him a much needed boost of confidence. Justin Leonard’s scoring average is lower than Els or Cink even though he is ranked higher in the world at 28th, his average is 69.38, Fisher also does not have stats compiled on the PGA Tour on paper it looks like it should be a Leonard victory by world golf rankings but Fisher has defeated lower seeded players the whole way. I hate to jinx an American but I’m going to say Fishers momentum will carry him through this match. Paul Casey has an average score of 71.75 and his greens in regulation are 65.71%, Sean O’Hair although ranked considerably higher in the official world golf rankings than Paul Casey has an average score of 69 even and an impressive GIR rating of 74.44%. I’m going to give the edge to O’Hair on this one. I’m not so sure anyone understands how they determine the “Official World Golf Rankings” some of the players prefer playing on the European or Asian tours and just don’t play enough events in the US to have official PGA Tour stats. Right or wrong I just call them as I see them, McIlroy, Els, Fisher and O’Hair, McIlroy over Els and O’Hair over Fisher, McIlroy and O’Hair for the championship with McIlroy the victor while Els will defeat Fisher for 3rd in the end. That is my prediction anyway, time will tell.

WGC: Accenture Match Play Round 2

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

After two rounds of play no #1’s are left standing. There are only two #2’s left as we head off to the third round of play tomorrow. It is all relative to one’s opinion but for my money match play is the most exciting in all of golf. No score card, an eagle might win a hole, a birdie or a par, but it is winning holes that count not an accumulation of points on a scorecard.

What the top story of the day is has to be Tim Clark defeating Tiger Woods 4&2. It was not poor play on Tiger’s part, he admittedly hit two poor shots today, an eight iron and a drive but it was the steady play of Tim Clark that won the match. The other #1 to fall was Vijay Singh who fell to Luke Donald after 19 holes. Donald ground it out coming from 2 down, took Vijay to a tie on 18 and went on to win in the first playoff hole. Two of the most exciting matches were Davis Love III and Justin Leonard along with Hunter Mahan and Rory McIlroy whose matches went down to the wire ending in regulation play for 1 up victory’s by Leonard and McIlroy. Phil Mickelson nearly squandered a 4 up lead with 5 to play but pulled out the win 1 up. Ross Fisher only needed 13 holes to defeat Pat Perez 6&5 Perez never really brought his game today. Another blowout was Paul Casey taking Mathew Goggin 6&4. Camillo Villegas soundly defeated Miguel Angel Jimenez 5&4, it was reported that Miguel broke the head of his driver midway through the round. Stewart Cink and Lee Westwood traded the lead from the 11th to the 17th from there they were all square until the 23rd hole, the longest match of the day.

This is what the day looked like by bracket starting with the Bobby Jones bracket:
#8 T Clark defeated #1 T Woods
#4 R McIlroy defeated #12 H Mahan
#2 G Ogilvy defeated #10 S Katayama
#3 C Villegas defeated #6 M Jimenez
Friday it will be Tim Clark vs. Rory McIlroy (11:37am) and Geoff Ogilvy vs. Camillo Villegas (11:50am)

In the Ben Hogan bracket:
#9 L Donald defeated #1 V Singh
#4 E Els defeated #5 S Stricker
#2 P Mickelson defeated #7 Z Johnson
#6 S Cink defeated #3 L Westwood
Friday it will be Luke Donald vs. Ernie Els (10:45am) and Phil Mickelson vs. Stewart Cink (10:58am)

In the San Snead bracket:
#9 R Fisher defeated #16 P Perez
#4 J Furyk defeated #5 M Kaymer
#7 J Leonard defeated #15 D Love III
#11 O Wilson defeated #3 A Kim
Friday it will be Ross Fisher vs. Jim Furyk (11:11am) and Justin Leonard vs. Oliver Wilson (11:24am)

In the Gary Player bracket:
#8 I Poulter defeated #16 C Schwartzel
#12 S O’Hair defeated #13 B Weekley
#15 P Hansen defeated #10 S Ames
#6 P Casey defeated #14 M Goggin
Friday it is Ian Poulter vs. Sean O’Hair (12:03pm) and Peter Hansen vs. Paul Casey (12:15)

Tough to bet against any of these men whose game has brought them to the sweet sixteen, 19 year old Rory McIlroy wanted to play Tiger in the third round yet he will have to play better than he did today to beat Tim Clark. Geoff Ogilvy and Camillo Villegas could be a dog fight the major champion against one who surely will be. Luke Donald who has been playing well this year against the Big Easy, another toss up, Phil Mickelson and Stewart Cink two stalwarts will it come down to Phil getting erratic? My heart would be with Furyk but Fisher is hot. Leonard is saying all the right things, he is going to play his game and let Oliver Wilson play his. The hot headed Ian Poulter against the young Sean O’Hair both of whom we have seen have meltdowns on the course. Paul Casey ranked at #23 in the world against Peter Hansen ranked 58th in the world and the lowest ranked player left in the tournament, Casey has always impressed me maybe it is his time.

WGC Accenture Match Play Opening Round

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

The top 64 players in the world teed it up in the opening round Feb 25, 2009. For those not familiar with this event, it is not unlike the NCAA’s March Madness. The top 64 players are broken down into four brackets. The number 1 ranked player in the world faces off against the 64th ranked, #2 against #63, #3 against #62 and #4 against #61 and so on and so forth. Within their brackets it is #1 vs. #16, #2 vs. 15, and #3 vs. #14 and so on and so forth. The brackets are the Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Gary Player.
The one thing I would say is that there is a lot more parity in these brackets than there is in NCAA March Madness, it is not unusual for a 16 seed to knock off a 1. That happened twice in the opening round with Padraig Harrington and Sergio Garcia both falling to number 16 seeds Pat Perez and Charl Schwartzel.

In the Bobby Jones bracket:
#1 Tiger Woods defeated #16 Brendan Jones
#2 Geoff Ogilivy defeated #15 K Sutherland
#3 Camillo Villegas defeated #14 Rod Pampling
#4 Rory McIlroy defeated #13 L Oosthuizen
#12 Hunter Mahan defeated #5 Mike Weir
#6 M Jimenez defeated #11 R Sabbatini
#10 S Katayama defeated #7 T Immelman
#8 Tim Clark defeated #9 Retief Goosen
Today Woods plays Clark, Ogilvy plays Katayama, Villegas plays Jimenez, and McIlroy plays Mahan

In the Ben Hogan Bracket:
#1 Vijay Singh defeated #16 S Kjeldsen
#2 Phil Mickelson defeated #15 Angel Cabrera
#3 Lee Westwood defeated #14 P Marksaeng
#4 Ernie Els defeated #13 S Hansen
#5 Steve Stricker defeated #12 D Johnson
#6 Stewart Cink defeated #11 R Sterne
#7 Zach Johnson defeated #10 G McDowell
#9 Luke Donald defeated #8 Ben Curtis
Today Singh plays Donald, Els plays Stricker, Mickelson plays Z Johnson and Westwood plays Cink

In the Sam Snead bracket:
#16 Pat Perez defeated #1 Padraig Harrington
#15 Davis Love III defeated #2 Heinrik Stenson
#3 Anthony Kim defeated #14 L Wen-Tang
#4 Jim Furyk defeated #13 A Hansen
#5 M Kaymer defeated #12 S Appleby
#11 O Wilson defeated #5 KJ Choi
#7 Justin Leonard defeated #10 Andres Romero
#9 Ross Fisher defeated #8 R Allenby
Today Perez plays Fisher, Furyk plays Kaymer, Love III plays Leonard and Kim plays Wilson

In the Gary Player bracket:
#16 C Schwartzel defeated S Garcia
#15 P Hansen defeated #2 R Karlsson
#14 M Goggin defeated #3 Kenny Perry
#13 Boo Weekley defeated #4 Justin Rose
#12 Sean O’Hair defeated #5 Adam Scott
#6 Paul Casey defeated #11 Aarron Baddeley
#10 S Ames defeated #7 A Quiros
#8 Ian Poulter defeated #9 Jeev Milka Singh
Today Schwartzel plays Poulter, Weekley plays O’Hair, Hansen plays Ames and Goggin plays Casey

There are some really interesting match ups today, Tim Clark is no push over even if he is playing #1 in the world Tiger Woods, I look for the wily veteran Jimenez to give Villegas all he can handle, the battle of the young guns McIlroy and Mahan should be good as well in the Jones bracket. Out of the Hogan bracket all four of those matches should be entertaining. In the Slamming Sammy Snead bracket don’t count out the #16 seed Perez, I look for strong performances from Furyk and Kim while Love III and Leonard will probably be the tightest. Leonard may very well be the best putter on tour especially from distance while Love is deadly accurate when firing at the pin. The Player bracket is too tough to call but for the fun of it I’ll say Poulter, Ames and Casey, O’Hair may have the edge on Boo but Boo tends to rise to a challenge and frankly I hope he pulls it off.

Only A Matter Of Time (Note From Lars)

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Hello Friends:

Been awhile but thought I should write to tell you of an occurrence that was sure to come.  I knew from the first time that I saw her telling him: “Will you turn that TV down!”, that the relationship was on the rocks.

For those who haven’t followed this drama, I’m referring to the couple in the GET SUPER BIONIC HEARING commercials.  Whenever that poor old man would have the TV volume up loud enough to hear it, there was that old bitty yelling at him to turn the volume down.  The primary reason that Lars has so many ex-wives is that he wants the volume up loud enough to hear it without having to wear a Fender sized amplifier on his head.

Well, Lars isn’t alone, it turns out.  You see the old man got tired of the nagging and sent her packing.  Nowadays she’s taken up with the UPSIDE DOWN TOMATO PLANTER fellow.

God knows how long she’ll last there.  How long will it be before she’s dissatisfied with the ripeness of his tomatoes?

Friends, take it from ol’ Lars, if  you want long term happiness you need to remember two important things:

1.  Sometimes we like the volume up.

b.  Tomato plants need to grow right side up.

Until next time,

Lars

Northern Trust Open Final Round

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

None of the contenders really went low today and that four under par 54 hole lead was enough to hold off the field and secure the victory for Phil Mickelson. Starting off with another eagle it looked like Phil was going to take command early, but bogeys on 2, 3, 7, 12 & 14 looked like the end as Stricker, Sabbatini, Couples and Romero were hot on his heals. But birdies at 16 and 17 propelled Mickelson into the lead to hold them off with a one over par 72. Alone in 2nd was Steve Stricker who shot a respectable 4 under par 67 for a 270, a trio were T3 including Andres Romero, Fred Couples and KJ Choi at 271. Four players were T6 at 272 including JB Holmes, Mark Calcavecchia, Rory Sabbatini and Luke Donald. Rounding out the top 10 was Brendon de Jonge, Dustin Johnson and Scott McCarron all tied for the tenth spot.

It was good to see Lefty come out of the slump, although it was surprising that the lead held up. Wind was not really a factor even though it was slightly overcast today. Stricker almost avenged his loss at the Bob Hope classic, while it was enjoyable to see Freddy Couples have a good round as well. Sabbatini’s double on 16 really took him out of contention. JB Holmes had a good tournament for a needed change and Bubba Watson finishing T17 leading the field with an average driving distance of 315.1 yards. Both these players who have been up and comers the past couple seasons hadn’t shown much this year.

Congratulations Phil Mickelson on your first victory of the year with a respectable scoring average of 67.25, well done.

Northern Trust Open Round 3

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

They were going low today at Riviera Country Club; none were going as low as Phil Mickelson who shot a 9 under par 62 to take a four shot lead after 54 holes. Calc and JB Holmes shot very nice 64’s for a 7 under day, while Freddy Couples and Andres Romero shot 65 for 6 under apiece. The leaderboard is Phil Mickelson alone on top at -16 for 197, Andres Romero sole possession of 2nd at -12 for 201, four players are T3 including Freddy Couples, KJ Choi, Scott McCarron and Rory Sabbatini all at -11 for a 202, T7 at -10 for a 203 are Mark Calcavecchia, Steve Stricker and Dustin Johnson, Rounding out the top 10 at T10 are JB Holmes and Luke Donald at -9 for a 204.

It is a packed leaderboard after Lefty’s four shot lead. Moving on down the leaderboard it is 205, 206, 207, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, 213, 214, 215 and 216 where sits Ryan Moore who shot a very dismal 6 over today and is now 3 over for the tournament.

Props to Rocco Mediate, who after coming off the same knee surgery as Vijay Singh is T32 at a 5 under par 208, Rocco did not push his return after experiencing some pain and finding some infection he took an extra week getting it treated, smart play to come back and be in the game versus missing cuts and setting on the sidelines. Tommy Armour III shot a 1 over par 72 today, all of it coming from a poor chip shot on the par 4 8th where he carded a snowman, taking his hacks 4 times with basically the same chip shot as it kept rolling back on him, but he never gave up on it and with the quad on 8 he pushed on to score birdies on 13, 14 & 17, that’s a golfer there, not a prima donna jet setter.

63, 72, 62 was the 72 the one bad day for Phil? Will the four shot lead stand up tomorrow? I don’t believe it will on its own accord, my prediction is that he needs to shoot at least a 67 tomorrow to stay on top. Even that may not be good enough with the weather conditions we have had so far that course record 61 could be in jeopardy. Couples, Romero and Calc are all hot. McCarron, Choi, Sabbatini and Stricker have all been steady. It is a four day tournament so it all comes down to who wants it tomorrow.

Northern Trust Open round 2

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

It was the UCLA Bruin Scott McCarron who walked away with the honors as the leader at the half shooting a 3 under par 68 to come into the clubhouse with a two shot lead at 10 under par. Tommy Armour III and Steve Stricker are T2 at 8 under par shooting a 67 and 66 respectively, six players are T4 including Geoff Ogilvy, Pat Perez, KJ Choi, Rory Sabbatini, Luke Donald and Phil Mickelson all at 7 under with a cumulative score of 135.

Props to Bob Estes shooting a 6 under par 65, Steve Stricker and KJ Choi who shot 66, as well as Rory Sabbatini and Tommy Armour III for fine rounds of 67. What is it with the Golf Channel analysts who all want to take a shot at Mr. Armour? Just because he hangs with the rich and famous in LA doesn’t make him the bad boy of golf. He turned pro in 1981 and has hung around this long, last year he had 5 top 10 finishes and finished in the money 16 out of only 25 starts. Back to back rounds of 67 in any tournament on the PGA Tour are not too shabby. So he parties with the jet set in LA, it isn’t like he gives the Tour a black eye like John Daly, give him a break.

Speaking of breaks, Phil Mickelson may be 3 shots back now, but he had at least 3 putts that fell short by inches. None of the analyst thought he was going to be able to make that cut through the trees on his 2nd at the 2nd and he just cut it a little too much. Had it hit the green that would have been 2 strokes right there. An eagle, a birdie and 4 bogeys and so he shot 1 over on the day, again it was only one round and he made the cut setting 3 back with two days to play. Now we can see if he can step up when it counts, he is playing with his old equipment from last year having given up on the new stuff and it seems to suit him. I almost wish I had put him on my fantasy team this week.

The cut was set at -1 and like always several good players missed it, Zach Johnson for one got as many bad breaks as Phil, he went into the clubhouse at even par and will not play Saturday and Sunday, Padraig Harrington, Vijay Singh, Steve Elkington, Vaughn Taylor, Bill Haas and Trevor Immelman also missed the cut. Speculation was that Padraig Harrington was refining his game for the Masters at Augusta in April, so far in 2009 his best finish has been T24 and he has now missed two cuts in a row. If he wants to continue his streak in Major tournaments, he might want to think about some practice. Contending at that level means breaking 70 consistently and so far he hasn’t brought it. Back to back majors are quite an achievement but these guys just can’t afford to set on their laurels, Tiger stayed on top so long because he gets out there and practices. Lee Trevino who like Arnold did not have one of the greatest swings in golf always says it’s all in the dirt, meaning practice, practice and more practice.

Northern Trust Open at Riviera CC Round 1

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

I had no intention to provide a round by round account of this tournament; until two things happened; first Phil Mickelson went into the clubhouse at 63 shooting 8 under par and leading the tournament by one stroke. Not to take anything away from Lefty but I will add this caveat, it has only been one round. In sole possession of 2nd place is Scott McCarron at 7 under. There are six players T3 at 5 under par, Dean Wilson, Jim Furyk, Dustin Johnson, Luke Donald, Andres Romero and John Merrick. Some of the big names not at the top of the leaderboard are Vijay Singh at even par, Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington at one over par.

And second Tiger Watch has ended; he will be playing next week in the WGC Accenture Match Play. If the field does not change by Friday’s deadline, Woods will tee it up against #64 Brendan Jones. Whether or not he defends his title isn’t predictable in my opinion. Choosing to come back into a match play event is near genius though, one bad hole or a couple errant shots isn’t going to ruin your day or your chances at winning. Its mano e mano and being down by 1 at 18 means you still have a chance to tie and go into a playoff. If any players drop out prior to the deadline they just start with #65 and move players up until the field is full.

Northern Trust Open at Riviera CC

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

The golf course at Riviera Country Club was first designed by Captain George C. Thomas in 1926. Ted Tryba holds the course record shooting a 61 there in 1999. The course was redesigned by Tom Fazio in 2008. Par is 71 and it plays to 7,298 yards, has 60 sand bunkers and no water hazards. Ranked 13th in difficulty in 2008 and the defending champion is Phil Mickelson. There have been 29 aces recorded at the Northern Trust Open with 13 of them coming at the 6th, 8 at the 16th, 5 at the 14th and 3 at the 4th. In 2008 the hardest hole was the par 3 fourth, while it only plays 236 yards players could use anything from a 3 iron to a 3 wood depending on the wind. The easiest was the par 5 first which plays 503 yards from an elevated tee box.

We will be treated by the presence of 3, 4 & 5 again, Harrington, Singh and Mickelson, as well as #8 Geoff Ogilvy and #10 Kenny Perry. Zach Johnson, Nick Watney, Dustin Johnson, Pat Perez, Charley Hoffman, Mike Weir and Kevin Na will be in the field. Past winners not previously mentioned Rory Sabbatini, Robert Allenby, Ernie Els, Cory Pavin, Mark Calcavecchia, Charles Howell III, Kirk Triplett, Billy Mayfair and Freddy Couples. Jeev M. Singh from India will be playing, he is a man to keep your eye on he has been dominant in European and Asian play the past couple years. Several Major tournament winners are playing, those not already mentioned include; Retief Goosen, Angel Cabrera, David Duval, Rich Beem, Jim Furyk, Todd Hamilton, Steve Elkington, Mark Brooks, Tom Lehman, Trevor Immelman, Ben Curtis, Justin Leonard and Paul Azinger. Garcia, Kim and Villegas are all committed to playing in Australia and won’t be in the field. Despite that this is probably the strongest field we’ve seen so far this year.

AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Final Round Canceled

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Without firing a shot Sunday or Monday Dustin Johnson was declared the winner. Following an AP report and a check of the PGA Tour’s home page confirmed it. The course was unsalvageable and play was canceled. Canada’s Mike Weir took honors alone in 2nd place and South Africa’s Retief Goosen was alone in 3rd. That was a big win for Dustin Johnson; it moved him into WGC Accenture Match Play because it put him ranked 45 in the World Golf Rankings, makes him the only player besides Anthony Kim under the age of 25 to have 2 tour victories and qualifies him for the first two majors of the season. Yes, Dustin Johnson will play the hallowed grounds of Augusta National and has a shot to become a Masters Champion. On the other side of that coin it had to be a blow to DJ Trahan who was T6 but if he had been able to play and earn a 5th place finish alone or a T4 would have been ranked 64 or better and been able to play in the WGC match play, as it stands with an official finish of T6 he is ranked 66 and will not be able to play in the event.

Congratulations to Mr. Johnson and to Mr. Trahan, I feel your pain brother.

AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Rounds

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

The real story on day one was not that 3 of the top 5 players in the World Golf Rankings were in the field. And certainly not to take anything away from Robert Garrigus or Dustin Johnson for impressive rounds of 65 at 7 under par, the real story is that Pebble is playing easier than Spyglass Hill or Poppy Hills and that hasn’t happened since 1983. With Garrigus and Johnson T1 it was Rich Beem, Charley Hoffman and Vaughn Taylor all at 6 under par T3. As for those 3 players that are top 5 in WGR, Lefty and Singh are at even par 72, while Harrington is at a 2 over 74. Logjams at T6 and T13 with several players at 5 under and 4 under which should start spreading out Friday.

Day two saw wily veteran Retief Goosen with a 3 shot lead at the halfway point. Although he turned pro in 1990 this was his first start ever at this tournament, a sweet eagle on the 2nd hole a par 5 but the real shot of the day was when he left himself some 20 yards short of the green on the par 3 fifth, only to hole out his chip shot for birdie when he was staring at a certain bogey. Goosen came into the club house with a round of 64 at 8 under par; I believe that belly putter he switched to last week at the Buick Open is already paying off. At the halfway point he is 2 shots ahead of Dustin Johnson, and 4 shots ahead of Robert Garrigus, Charley Hoffman, Mark Calcavecchia and Mike Weir. Phil Mickelson shot a 1 under par 71, Vijay Singh shot a dismal 3 over par 75 his knee is holding up but he may not have been ready to return so soon, Padraig Harrington shot a 1 over par 73 today. So at he halfway the world’s number 3 shot a 74-73 for a 3 over par 147, number 4 shot a 72-75 for a 3 over par 147 and number 5 shot a 72-71 for a 1 under par 143. Comparatively our leader at 12 under par is at 132, it would appear their presence isn’t shaking up anybody. Retief is currently ranked 42nd in the official world golf rankings, if I’m not mistaken his best rank was in 2005 when he was number 4 in the world.

Day three’s televised coverage primarily centered on amateurs; while on the pro side of the tournament the leaderboard started shaking itself out. Dustin Johnson continued the steady play that has kept him near the top of the leaderboard for 3 days with a 5 under par 67 to retake the lead from Retief Goosen. Goosen’s 2 over par 74 dropped him to 5 shots back going into the final round Sunday, where he will start the day in sole possession of 3rd place. Mike Weir will be 4 strokes back alone in 2nd place. T4 will be Mark Calcavecchia and Bob Estes 6 strokes back at 207. Bob Estes matched the leader with a 5 under par day to put him into position. If young Dustin Johnson can keep it together Sunday any player in the field who wants to catch him is going to need a career day. The world’s number 3 and 4, Padraig Harrington and Vijay Singh both missed the cut while number 5, Phil Mickelson, birdied on the 18th to just make the cut at 2 under par. On the Pro-Am side teams need a combined score of -16 to make the cut, currently that includes 28 teams but the PGA officials will pare that down to 25 teams by trimming the fat from the pro side of the team. Not sure what sort of formula that includes, but in a nutshell three teams will be cut who relied on their pro to make the cut. It is unfortunate that some of the better amateurs get cut by virtue of having a low handicap and thus do not get as many strokes, but the handicap system was installed to allow those players who are not as competitive to be so.
Day four high winds toppled a 40 foot tall Monterey Pine into the fairway on the 3rd hole, winds and rain continued so the PGA terminated the Pro-Am portion prior to televised coverage. After televised coverage began it became evident that there would be no golf today. The pros are scheduled to complete the fourth and final round Monday, weather permitting.

AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-AM

Monday, February 9th, 2009

The TOUR heads north to Pebble Beach, Calif., this week for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, where Vijay Singh will make his post-knee-surgery return.

Inside the courses
Pebble Beach Golf Links

The original architecture was by Jack Neville and Douglas Grant in 1919
It was redesigned by Ed Conner and Jack Nicklaus in 1991 and a new fifth hole was designed by Jack Nicklaus in 1988. Incidentally that redesign is the most expensive hole in golf with a price tag of $3 Million.
Par is 72 and the course plays to 6,816 yards and was ranked 21 in difficulty on tour in 2008.
Grass is perennial ryegrass (tees, fairways, rough) and Poa Annua (rough)
There are 111 Sand Bunkers and the ocean borders 9 holes as water hazard.
Course Record 62 shared by Tom Kite and David Duval
Aces 14, 6 on the 7th, 3 on 12, 3 on 5, and 2 on 17
Most difficult hole in 2008 was the 8th playing 418 yards par 4 (0 eagles, 15 birdies)
Easiest hole in 2008 was the par 5, 6th playing 513 yards (2 eagles, 130 birdies)

Poppy Hills Golf Course
Robert Trent Jones, Jr. design 1986
Par 72
Ranked 19 in difficulty (out of 54) in 2008
Plays to 6,833 yards
Grass Poa annua (tees, fairways, greens); Perennial ryegrass (tees, fairways, rough); Creeping bentgrass (fairways)
75 Sand Bunkers 2 water hazards
Course record 62 by Matt Gogel
Aces 4 one each on 6, 11, 15, & 17
Most difficult hole par 4 5th 426 yards (0 eagles, 14 birdies)
Easiest the par 5 18th plays 500 yards (10 eagles, 75 birdies)

Spyglass Hill Golf Course
Course architect Robert Trent Jones, Sr. 1966
62 Sand Bunkers 4 Water hazards
Par 72
12th in difficulty
Plays 6,953 yards
Course record 62 shared by Phil Mickelson and Luke Donald
Aces 7, 1 on 12, 2 on 3, 2 on 5, 2 on 15
Most difficult hole par 3 197 yard 5th (0 eagles, 11 birdies)
Easiest par 4 325 yard 17th (2 eagles, 56 birdies)

Inside the field
Fed-ex Cup and Top money winners for 2009 include Nick Watney, Kenny Perry, Pat Perez, Charley Hoffman, David Toms and Kevin Na. Official World Golf rankings Padraig Harrington 3rd, Vijay Singh, 4th, and Phil Mickelson 5th. Past Winners not previously mentioned are Steve Lowry and Davis Love III. Majors winners not previously mentioned include Retief Goosen, Lee Janzen, David Duval, Rich Beem, Jim Furyk, Mike Weir, Todd Hamilton, Steve Elkington, Mark Brooks, Mark Calcavechia, Fred Couples, Corey Pavin and Tom Lehman. The international contingents who have not been mentioned include Jason Day, Brian Davis, Shigeki Maruyama, Charlie Wi, KJ Choi, Tim Clark, Carl Petersson, Fredrick Jacobson, Daniel Chopra, Jesper Parnevik, and Brendon de Jonge. Other players in the field include JB Holmes, Webb Simpson, DJ Trahan, Charles Howell III, Kevin Stadler, Kevin Sutherland, Omar Uresti, Billy Andrade, Bobby Clampett and Tommy Armour III.

Several that haven’t been listed, it is a big field, and that doesn’t include the amateurs. The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is one of, it not the biggest fields of the year. They definitely need all three courses. Practice began today, with additional practice sessions Tuesday and Wednesday. The celebrity 3M challenge will be held Wednesday. The Pro-Am begins Thursday the 12th at 8 am on all 3 courses and will continue on the same schedule Friday and Saturday. Sunday only those who make the cut and the top amateur teams will compete and that will all take place at Pebble Beach.

Celebrities in the field include; Chris Berman, Michael Bolton, Carson Daly, Andy Garcia, Kenny G, Thomas Gibson, Ken Griffey, Jr., Kevin James, Greg Kinear, Huey Lewis, George Lopez, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Bill Murray, Chris O’Donnell, Ray Romano, Lynn Swan, Justin Timberlake, Clay Walker and Luke Wilson. Some of them actually have game, Michael Bolton, Andy Garcia, Thomas Gibson and Bill Murray. Bill Murray actually qualified and played on the Senior Circuit once last year. This is usually a fun tournament that provides a lot of entertainment and provides for charitable causes.

Let’s Get Something Straight Here

Monday, February 9th, 2009

The MSM is all atwitter this morning over Robert Plant. His collaboration with Alison Krauss, Raising Sand (Produced by T Bone Burnett), won five Grammy awards, that’s right, FIVE.

If it were not for Alison Krauss and T Bone Burnett a similar collaboration, say with Robert Plant, Britney Spears, and will.i.am, would have sold three albums and not even been nominated for a Grammy.

Raising Sand won five Grammys despite Plant. T Bone Burnett also produced the soundtrack album for “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, which, o by the way, prominently features, guess who, Alison Krauss. Just a reminder, that album won FIVE Grammys too.

Alison Krauss has already won 18,000 Grammys and she’s only twelve years old.

One song that she was nominated for, but did not win a Grammy, is “Simple Love”. Here’s that:

Nick Watney Wins Buick Invitational

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

It just wasn’t meant to be for John Rollins this weekend, but it was for Nick Watney. With a 4 under par 68 Nick Watney secured a spot at the Master’s in April. It was really the 2 stroke swing on the par 3 16th that made the difference. The birdie on 18 secured it though. An exciting finish for the last group as Camilo Villegas had the chance for an eagle missing by perhaps an inch and having to settle for birdie and an even round of 72, Rollins setting about 12 feet from the cup needed the birdie putt to drop to secure a playoff that wasn’t meant to be, with Watney having an uphill 3 footer for birdie and the outright win. The leaderboard was Watney 1st, Rollins 2nd, Villegas and Glover T3 and Matt Jones 5th (shooting a very impressive 64), Mathew Goggins 6th and four players at T7 that included fan favorites Charley Hoffman, Bubba Watson, Ben Crane and Luke Donald.

Several players had good rounds today, those included; Matt Jones with his 64, Hunter Mahan 66, Bubba Watson’s 67, Nick Watney, Lucas Glover, Padraig Harrington, and Tag Ridings with 68’s, Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey, Ted Purdy, Dustin Johnson and Ryuji Imada all sub 70 at 69.

When is Phil Mickelson going to make a move? Today’s round included 5 bogeys and 2 birdies to card a 3 over par 75. He is scheduled for next weeks AT&T Classic at Pebble Beach, wouldn’t hurt none to go up a day early and get some practice, has a two time winner of the event I’m sure the course would welcome him.

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.

We Haven’t Forgotten (Note From Lars)

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

Greetings Friends:

Well, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the new VA secretary, Eric Shinseki, but given that he has kept all of the old VA bureaucrats in charge, it doesn’t look like we can expect much “change”.

To my mind, one of the most offensive retentions is that of Michael Kussman as under secretary for health.  This guy is one of the most callous characters I’ve ever seen.

For those of you that haven’t seen it, here’s an email Kussman sent about Veterans suicides:

—– Original Message —–
From: Kussman, Michael J, M.n.
To: Katz, Ira R.; Zeiss, Antonette
Cc: Cross, Gerald M.; Van Diepen, Louise R; O’Grady, Laura (VHACO)
Sent: Sat Dec 15 10:26:382007
Subject: Suicides
Folks,
In the Clips this morning. our friend Chris Adams in the McLatchy Papers alleges that 18 veterans kill themselves every day and this is
confirmed by the VA’s own statistics. Is that true? Sounds awful but if one is considering 24 million veterans.
Michael J. Kussman, MD, MS, MACP
Brigadier General, United States Army, Retired
Under Secretary For Health
Veterans Health Administration
Department of Veterans Affairs
Washington, DC, 20420

“Sounds awful but if one is considering 24 million veterans.”

Well, gee, there’s so damn many Veterans, 24 million, what’s the big deal about 18 a day?

Hey!  This is good for the gubmint!  If only we could figure out how to get 180 to commit suicide each day!

How about 1800?  Wouldn’t that be great!?

Wouldn’t be long before we could get rid of the whole bunch!

Unless of course you’re a retired General.  Like Eric Shinseki and Michael Kussman.  Those are “keepers”.

The only solace that I get is in the knowledge that Shinseki and Kussman will have to meet their maker come judgment day.   And I’m convinced it ain’t gonna be pretty for these two and their ilk.

Ut Prosim

Lars