2009 U.S. Open

June 15th, 2009

Bethpage State Park – Black Course, Farmingdale, N.Y.

The U.S. Open-the second major of the 2009 season.
About the course:
Original architect A.W. Tillinghast (1936)
Par value is 71
Hosted 2 tour events including 2009
Yardage 7,426 in 2009, in 2002 played 7,214
Grass – Ryegrass (tees, fairways, rough, greens)
Course record 66 Nick Faldo 2002 3rd round
Aces 3, one each on 3, 14 & 17
The most difficult hole in 2002 was the 15th the scoring average was more than a half stroke over par at 4.599. It is now a 389-yard par 4. In 2002 scoring was as follows: 0 eagles, 28 birdies, 188 pars, 185 bogeys, 44 double bogeys, 9 others
The easiest hole was the 14th the scoring average was slightly under par at 2.905. It is a 161-yard par 3 with severe bunkering around the front of the elevated green. In 2002 scoring was as follows: 1 eagle, 99 birdies, 302 pars, 46 bogeys, 6 double bogeys and 0 others

Course origins Bethpage State Park is a mecca for public golf featuring five 18-hole regulation golf courses including the world-renowned Black Course, which was the site of the U.S. Open in 2002 and again will host the U.S. Open in 2009.
Bethpage State Park was developed from an estate owned by the Yoakum family and other properties. The Yoakum family leased their estate to the Lenox Hills Corporation, which subsequently used the property to build the Lenox Hills Country Club. In the early 1930s, the Bethpage Park Authority purchased the Lenox Hills Country Club and other adjacent properties to build what we now know as Bethpage State Park.
Famed golf course architect A.W. Tillinghast was hired to design and oversee construction of three new golf courses (Black, Red and Blue) as well as modify the Lenox Hills Course, which became the Green Course. Due to the increased demand for golf, the Yellow Course designed by Alfred Tull was opened in 1958. Approximately 300,000 rounds are played annually on the five courses at Bethpage, all of which start from the Clubhouse area. —Source: New York State Parks

Tournament history: The U.S. Open began in 1895, has been played every year with the exception of the war years of 1917, 1918, 1942, 1943, 1944, & 1945.

Inside the field: U.S. Open
As you might imagine the best golfers in the world will be competing in the second major of 2009. Trevor Immelman, Robert Karlsson, Dudley Hart and Shingo Katayama have withdrawn from competition. The top ten players in the Official World Golf Ranking, PGA Tour Money List and Fed-Ex Cup point standings are all entered. These include: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Geoff Ogilvy, Henrik Stenson, Kenny Perry, Steve Stricker, Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk, Sean O’Hair, Brian Gay, Nick Watney, and Zach Johnson. Note: only 14 names because most of these players are in each category, i.e. TW is 1 in OWGR, 4 in PGA Tour Money list and 5 in Fed-Ex Cup points. Phil Mickelson 2 in OWGR, 3 in PGA Tour Money list and 7 in Fed-Ex Cup standings. 2009 tournament winners not in the top 10’s but entered in the tournament are Dustin Johnson, Retief Goosen, Angel Cabrera, and Rory Sabbatini. Past winners of the U.S. Open not previously listed but entered in the tournament are Michael Campbell and Ernie Els. Major winners entered in the tournament but not previously listed are Padraig Harrington, Ben Curtis, David Duval, Todd Hamilton, Tom Lehman, Justin Leonard, David Toms and Mike Weir. International Players, listed by country but not previously listed that are entered in the tournament are Argentina’s Andres Romero and Eduardo Romero, Australia’s Steve Allan, Robert Allenby, Stuart Appleby, Matt Jones, James Nitties, Rod Pampling, Adam Scott and Michael Sim, Canada’s Stephen Ames, Andrew Parr, and Nick Taylor, Columbia’s Camilo Villegas, Denmark’s Soren Hansen and Soren Kjedlsen, England’s Richard Bland, David Horsey, Luke Donald, Simon Dyson, Ross Fisher, Simon Khan, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Lee Westwood and Oliver Wilson, France’s Jean-François Lucquin, Raphael Jaceulin, and Thomas Levet, Germany’s Martin Kaymer, India’s Jeev Milkha Singh, Japan’s Shintaro Kai, Ryuji Imada, Azuma Yano, Kaname Yokoo, Korea’s KJ Choi, Charlie Wi, Sang-moon Bae, New Zealand’s Douglas Batty and David Smail, Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy, Philippines Angelo Que, Scotland Martin Laird, South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel, Tim Clark and Andrew McLardy, Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Jose Manuel Lara and Alvaro Quiros, Sweden’s Johan Edfor, Peter Hannson, and Carl Pettersson, Amateurs Tyson Alexander, Clark Klaasen, Ben Martin, Matt Nagy, Vaughn Snyder, Kyle Stanley, Josh Brock, Rickei Fowler, Drew Kittleson, Bronson Burgoon, Cameron Tringale, Drew Weaver and Kyle Peterman. American’s Ryan Moore, James Kamte, JB Holmes, Hunter Mahan, John Merrick, Chris Stroud, Nathan Tyler, Peter Tomasulo, Shawn Stefani, Michael Welch, Kevin Sutherland, Greg Kraft, Ken Duke, Jeff Brehaut, Craig Bowden, Rocco Mediate, Billy Mayfair, Fred Funk, JP Hayes, Ricky Barnes, Brandt Snedeker, Anthony Kim, Lucas Glover, John Mallinger, Courtland Lowe, Charlie Beljam, Trevor Murphy, Kevin Silva, Ryan Blaum and Colby Beckstrum. My apologies if I’ve inadvertently left anyone off the list. The Amateurs and American’s in particular as I was unable to find a specific list for either category.
Tiger Woods has a rare opportunity to not only be defending U.S. Open Champion but he is the only player to have won a U.S. Open at Bethpage Black as well. So not only can he defend his crown but the venue as well. Not sure if that has ever been done before? U.S. Opens are particularly difficult to predict, not that any professional tournament is, but an unknown can always come out of the pack. Who could ever forget the 1913 cinderella story of Francis Ouimet who as an amateur defeated British favorites Harry Vardin and Ted Ray.
Sources: New York State Parks

The Memorial Tournament round 4

June 7th, 2009

Tiger Woods is now a 4 time champion at the Memorial. Shooting a 7 under par 65 for a 4 day total of 276, Woods defeated Jim Furyk by one stroke. Furyk stood alone in 2nd place, shooting a 3 under par 69 for a 277 in the tournament. Jonathon Byrd and Mark Wilson were T3 with 280’s. At T5 it was Matt Kuchar, Davis Love III and Matt Bettencourt with 282’s. Stewart Cink and Ernie Els were T8 with 283’s and to round out the top ten at T10 it was Will MacKenzie, Mike Weir and Geoff Ogilivy at 284.

Key Stats:
Scoring Average Tiger Woods 69, field average 73.42; Driving Distance Dustin Johnson 318 yards, field average 284.6; Driving Accuracy Jim Furyk 89.29%, field average 71.04%; GIR Ernie Els 76.39%, field average 58.89%; Scrambling Jonathon Byrd 77.78%, field average 51.61%; Putts per Round Jose Maria Olazabal 25.5, field average 28.81. The 18th took the honors as the toughest hole yet again, although 14 gave it a run for its money and the 7th played the easiest.

After Tiger’s bogey at 16 there were 4 players T1 at 10 under but that bogey must have lit a fire under him as his 2nd shots at 17 and 18 were nothing short of phenomenal leaving himself with 4 or 5 feet on 17 and on 18 the laser read 14 inches. Furyk was able to birdie 18 to take 2nd alone but the other two were less fortunate down the stretch. Bettencourt had a pretty miserable day shooting a 3 over par 75. He did card 4 birdies, but also had 5 bogeys and a double, in the Nationwide series he was known for being Tiger like once he had a lead but now that he is in the bigs, I can only speculate that the pressure got to him. I believe we will see him at the top of the leader board again and most likely a winner.

Sources: PGA Tour.com, The Golf Channel and CBS Sports

The Memorial Tournament round 3

June 6th, 2009

Matt Bettencourt and Mark Wilson are tied at the top spot after round 3, at 9 under par 207. Bettencourt shot a 4 under par 68, with 8 birdies on his card but he also had 4 bogeys. I’m absolutely not being facetious either, those greens are tough, players are literally running the ball off the green being a yard short. Seriously a yard to chip onto the green and the ball rolls right off the putting surface. Wilson shot a 3 under par 69. Two players are T3 yesterday’s co-leaders Jonathon Byrd and Jim Furyk both shot 1 under par 71 today and are 1 stroke back at 208. In the T5 spot are Geoff Ogilivy and Davis Love III, 2 strokes back at 209. Ogilivy shot up the leader board from T57 to T5 shooting a 9 under par 63. He spent a considerable amount of time on the range after his round yesterday after shooting a 2 over par 74. Lee Trevino is fond of saying that ones performance is measured “in the dirt”, meaning practice, it certainly paid off for Geoff today. Love III shot a 3 under par 69. Rounding out the top ten 4 strokes behind the leaders are Tiger Woods, Michael Letzig, Matt Kuchar and Ernie Els all officially scored as T7.

For the stat lovers: in Scoring Average Matt Bettencourt is at 69 with the field average at 73.41; Driving Distance is led by Dustin Johnson at 319.3, while the field is averaging 284.3; Driving Accuracy Jim Furyk at 88.1%, the field at 72.32%; Greens in Regulation it is Ernie Els at 77.78%, while the field is at 59.43%; Scrambling Jonathon Byrd at 84.62%, the field average is 51.29%; and Putts per round Mark Wilson at 25 with the field average at 28.93. The toughest hole today was 18 and the easiest was 7.

For those who don’t know Matt Bettencourt he was last year’s champion and money leader on the Nationwide tour, that is how he earned his way onto the PGA tour. He is an example of the everyman story, didn’t achieve a lot in junior golf or high school, never got a scholarship to play golf in college, he was selling windows and doors 10 years ago and just worked on his game. He entered and won a bunch of amateur tournaments and a championship, turned pro and grinded it out in the minors and now in his 17th PGA tour appearance is co-leader of the Memorial Tournament at Jack’s place. There is a guy who believed in himself, worked hard and now has the opportunity to earn the biggest paycheck of his career. Kudos and good luck tomorrow, Matt. Don’t let Faldo get to you that was a hell of a shot from a precarious lie. I seriously doubt he could have done it any better.

Sources: PGA Tour.com, The Golf Channel and CBS Sports
Opinions are mine

The Memorial Tournament round 2

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: PGATour.com and the Golf Channel
Opinions my own

The Memorial Tournament Round 1

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, PGATour.com
Opinions my own

Memorial Tournament

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

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.

The Players Championship Final Round

May 10th, 2009

Henrik Stenson wins the 2009 Players Championship in impressive style shooting 12 under par for the tournament. Starting the day T2 at 6 under par Henrik put on an imposing display today shooting a bogey free 6 under par 66 to win his biggest tournament ever. Alone in second place is Ian Poulter at 8 under par, T3 John Mallinger and Kevin Na, T5 Jim Furyk, Brian Davis and Ben Crane at 6 under, Tiger Woods takes the 8th spot at 5 under par, T9 Aaron Baddely, Vijay Singh, Tim Clark, David Toms and Alex Cejka at 4 under par to round out the top 10.

Alex Cejka bogeyed 1, 5, 6, 8, 12 & 13, had a double on 4 and a birdie on 10. His 7 over and Stenson’s 6 under combined for a 13 shot swing. What made Cejka disintegrate? It couldn’t have been pressure from Tiger since TW had 4 bogeys himself albeit tempered with 3 birdies. It makes little difference now, it’s just that not a soul on this planet had ever enjoyed a 5 stroke lead going into the final round at this tournament, then to throw it away, he took it like a man though. I didn’t see him throw any clubs or swear at nobody in particular throughout the day. How about Aaron Baddely and Vijay Singh coming back from T65 and T55 respectively to bring it in at T9, Bads started dead last alone in the first group off the tee this morning.

Final key stats for the tournament are: Scoring average Henrik Stenson at 69, field average was 72.69, Driving distance Bubba Watson 308.5 yards with the field averaging 286.3, Driving accuracy Jeff Klauk too the honor with 80.36% while the field averaged 63.11%, Brian Davis led in GIR with 72.22% and the field average was 61.2%, Scrambling was led by Ian Poulter at 83.87% with the field averaging 53.66% and Putting was led by Luke Donald with 25.75 and the field average was at 28.87. The toughest hole for the tournament was 14 and the easiest was 16.

Congratulations to Henrik Stenson. This is his second PGA Tour victory and the first in his last 27 starts. His first coming at the WGC Accenture Match Play in 2007, while he hasn’t won many he apparently likes the big ones. This round ranked as the fourth lowest final round by a Players Champion. Eclipsing Calvin Peete who also shot a 66 in the final round back in 1985, but Calvin only won by 3 strokes and Henrik won by four. While I didn’t expect Henrik to win this week, I did have him in my foursome in the fantasy league, the rest of my foursome didn’t fair as well. I can only start TW 7 more times and decided to save him this week, guess I should have used him but hindsight is always 20/20. Again congratulations to Mr. Stenson on a very fine performance indeed.

The Players Championship Round 3

May 9th, 2009

Alex Cejka maintains his lead after three rounds of play. Shooting an even par round for a cumulative 11 under for the tournament, Alex enjoys a 5 shot lead heading into the final round Sunday. Six players are T2 at 6 under par, Tiger Woods, Retief Goosen, Jonathon Byrd, Ben Crane, Henrik Stenson and Ian Poulter. Brian Davis, John Mallinger and Kevin Na are all 5 under and round out the top ten at T8. Woody Austin and Kenny Perry shared the best rounds of the day with 68’s each moving from T61 to T11, 4 other players are tied in the 11th spot with Perry and Austin. The course played tougher today despite the favorable weather conditions. Angel Cabrera, Jason Dufner and David Toms each shot 5 over and took a considerable drop down the leaderboard. Charley Hoffman, Jeev M. Singh and Aaron Baddely each shot 4 over. Several players were at 3 over and despite his T2 status Ian Poulter has to be disappointed having lost 3 shots to the leader. The following made the cut but did not finish, after the third round they were over 218, my understanding is that it constitutes a cut after the cut; Robert Karlsson, Hunter Mahan, Martin Laird, Nathan Greene, KJ Choi, Stewart Cink, Bob Estes, Fred Funk, Graeme McDowell, Steve Marino, Dustin Johnson and Rod Pampling.

Key stats for the tournament to date are Alex Cejka leading in scoring average with 68.33 the field average is 72.54, Bubba Watson leads in driving distance at 305.5 with the field average at 285.8, Alex Cejka also leads in driving accuracy at 83.33% the field average is 63.08, Brian Davis leads in GIR at 77.78% while the field is averaging 61,32%, Ian Poulter leads in scrambling at 81.82% and the field average is 54.04%, Charley Hoffman leads in putting with 25.33 putts and the field average is 28.78. The toughest hole remains 14 this year and the easiest has been 16. The island green at 17 has played the easiest it has played in 12 years. I noticed the rough caught several balls near the pylons that were headed for the drink, whether that is thicker or taller than in past years I can’t say, but balls that would have surely been wet in the past couple years were getting caught in the rough.

Since Tiger was the first in at 6 under, he will be paired with Cejka in the final group, they will tee off at 2:25, Goosen and Byrd will tee off at 2:14, Crane and Stenson at 2:03, Poulter and Davis at 1:52, Mallinger and Na at 1:41 and the Perry/Austin group will tee off at 1:30. The 1:30 group could be an interesting one to watch. A lot will be made of the intimidation factor with Tiger being in the final group with Cejka during the telecast. If Tiger is to come back and win this thing, he needs to hit his fairways, if he does that he may in fact pressure Cejka into mistakes. If he doesn’t hit his fairways and Cejka does I’d say Cejka has it in the bag. Don’t get me wrong a 5 shot lead is by no means secure and I was a little disappointed in Alex’s play in that I thought he started laying up way too soon. It was like from 13 on he was just playing it safe or playing not to lose but there is still a day left to play. Tiger came back from 5 shots down to defeat Sean O’Hair just a couple weeks back and he can do it again, but he had help from O’Hair in that win whether or not that was the intimidation factor or not is left up to each of us to decide on our own. Just saying, Alex, make him earn it if he is to win, play your game, keep it in the short grass and aim for the pins, if you do that you can win the biggest game of your career.

The Players Championship Round 2

May 8th, 2009

Alex Cjeka has taken the lead by 2 strokes over his nearest competitor; he sets at 11 under par shooting rounds of 66/67. Ian Poulter is alone in 2nd place at 9 under par with rounds of 67/68. At T3 are Kevin Na, Angel Cabrera, Jason Dufner, John Mallinger, Henrik Stenson and David Toms. Na and Cabrera made significant strides up the leaderboard today shooting 6 and 7 under respectively. Four players round out the top ten at T9, those being Ben Crane, Richard S. Johnson, Tim Petrovic and Jeff Overton.

Key stats are Alex Cejka scoring average 66.5 with the field averaging 72.2, J.B. Holmes driving distance at 305.8 with the field average at 284.9, Michael Allen leads in driving accuracy at 85.71% with the field is averaging 63.83%, Steve Stricker leads in Greens in Regulation with 83.33% while the field average is 63.02%, Ryan Moore in scrambling with 85.71% and the field average a mere 54.3% and lastly Kevin Na led in putting with 24.5 putts and the field averaging 28.81. So far the easiest hole has been 14 while the hardest has been 16.

In the disappointment category is Anthony Kim who shot 10 over par today to end at 11 over for his two rounds of this tournament, astoundingly last years Masters Champion Trevor Immelman matched that feet and his Players Championship run is also over this year. Some of the other players missing the cut include: Rory Sabbatini, Rory McIlroy, Freddy Couples, Y.E. Yang, J.B. Holmes, Sean O’Hair, Charlie Wi, Lucas Glover, Vaughn Taylor, Ross Fisher, Davis Love III, Stuart Appleby, D.J. Trahan, Charles Howell III, Will MacKenzie, Adam Scott and Jerry Kelly. I was somewhat surprised the cut remained at even par. That leaves 83 players with 23 of them tied in 61st position. The tour has made efforts to keep the cut as close to 70 players as possible. They have in the past not let some of the players who technically make the cut play on Saturday and Sunday. Be interesting to see what they do with it.

For the Tiger Woods fans he is setting 7 strokes back at 4 under par T22 and for the Phil Mickelson fans he is T61 at even par 11 strokes off the pace. Some of the players who have been struggling of late that made the cut include Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia, Jeev M. Singh, KJ Choi and Stewart Cink. It would not be unheard of to make up 11 strokes in two days, but it sure is a long row to hoe.

The Players Championship Round 1

May 8th, 2009

Ben Crane leads the way shooting a 65, just two shots off the course record. Alex Cjeka, John Mallinger and Richard S. Johnson are T2 with rounds of 66. Nine players are T5 to round out the top 10, those being Camilo Villegas, Brad Adamonis, Ian Poulter, David Toms, Retief Goosen, Scott Verplank, Jonathon Byrd, Jason Dufner and Bubba Watson. Tiger Woods is 1 under with a 71 and Phil Mickelson is 1 over with a 73. The projected cut after round 1 is even par.

The talk amongst the players is to expect to see more low scores today as the winds are supposed to be minimal again. Even with the favorable weather conditions 89 balls found their way into water hazards on day 1. Ben Crane led the way in scoring average and putting (65 with 22 putts), Bubba Watson in driving distance (318), Jason Bohn in driving accuracy (92.86%), Martin Laird in GIR (88.89%) and John Mallinger in scrambling (an impressive 100%). There were 57 players under par and 17 players are T58 at even par.

The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass

May 7th, 2009

The stadium course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL would be the third leg of my dream golf excursion, one and two being Augusta and St. Andrews. Some think it should be the fifth major, I won’t go that far myself being somewhat of a tradionalist I like the status quo just the way it is, thank you very much. The fact that it really stands alone makes it unique, the players want to be there, it is their tournament although many are on record as not particularly liking the course and I believe it is because the course outshines the stars.

The course is a Pete Dye design, originally in 1979 and re-designed in 2006. In its current configuration it plays 7,215 yards. The course was ranked 6th in difficulty in 2008 on the PGA Tour. There are 93 sand bunkers, 24 water hazards and the greens run 12 on the stimpmeter. Tees and fairways are 419 bermudgrass, the rough is bermudagrass and the greens are mini-verde bermudagrass. There have been 24 aces recorded 10 at 13, 6 at 17, 5 at 8, and 3 at 3. The course record is 63 shared by Freddy Couples in the 3rd round of 1992 and Greg Norman in the 1st round of 1994. In last years tournament the easiest hole was the 16th a short par 5 that enjoyed 5 eagles, 188 birdies, 195 pars, 35 bogeys, and 4 doubles. The hardest was the 18th a wicked dogleg where accuracy is paramount. It saw 0 eagles, 31 birdies, 202 pars, 146 bogeys, 40 doubles and 8 triples or worse. The most famed hole is the 17th the signature hole at Sawgrass that has had 312 balls dropped into the water around the island green in the past five year’s, it is a wedge for most of the professionals and only plays 137 yards

Televised coverage provided by the Golf Channel Thursday and Friday 9-7 and on NBC Saturday and Sunday from 2-7.

Quail Hollow Championship Final Round 2009

May 3rd, 2009

It wasn’t Zach Jonson who started the day with the lead, nor was it Tiger Woods who CBS had billed has the biggest threat to Johnson at the beginning of their telecast. But lack of excitement was no problem at Quail Hollow today. At one point 5 players shared the lead, it was a hard charging Sean O’Hair who walked away victorious today 11 under par for the tournament. After a bogey on 2 O’Hair settled down putting together 6 birdies and headed to 17 at 13 under par, bogeys on 17 and 18 wasn’t enough to drop him from the lead and he held on for his second win of the season and vaulted into 3rd place in Fed-Ex cup points. Bubba Watson and Lucas Glover were T2 at 10 under. Tiger Woods was alone in 4th who despite overcoming a couple bad drives on the front and pulling back to even par, never got his putter going today. Rounding out the top 10 at T5 were Phil Mickelson, Jonathan Byrd, Tim Petrovic, Ted Purdy, Ian Poulter and Jason Dufner. Mickelson put together a fine round of 67 today but that wasn’t enough to overcome his poor showing on Saturday. Zach Johnson was 4 over par at 76 today, a triple on 2 hurt him badly followed by a bogey on 3 after which he seemed to calm down and had back to back birdies on 4 and 5 but two more bogeys down the stretch, ending up in a 7 way tie for 11th.

Sean O’Hair was 7th in driving distance at 312.6 yards, T3 in GIR with an even 75% and 31st in putting at 1.778, his scoring average 69.25 the rest of the field averaged 72.42. Bubba Watson led in driving distance falling off some but still averaging 331.6 with the field average at 299.8, he also led the field in greens in regulation at 76.39% while the field average was 64.61%. Will MacKenzie led in driving accuracy at 69.64% with the field average at 46.14%. Lucas Glover led in scrambling at 82.76% with the field averaging 53.94% and he also led in putting with 26.75 and the rest of field at 29.75.

With the pin set back 17 was playing 225 yards today, most of the players seemed to be opting for 4 and 5 irons and bailing to the right but that left them with a near impossible chip to get over the hill and then with the green slanted toward the water it got very fast leaving them a long up hill putt, that is what caused most of the bogeys there today. PGA Tour still listed 18th as the toughest hole but 17 nearly took that dubious honor today.

Congratulations to young Mr. Sean O’Hair on a very fine performance today.

Quail Hollow Championship Round 3 2009

May 2nd, 2009

With just 4 players left on the course play was suspended due to the approaching storm in Charlotte. The PGA Tour has to play it safe whenever lightning is in the area and at approximately 5:50 PM they blew the horn to suspend play. Johnson and McNeil have pegs in the ground on 18 while Goosen and Watson finished on 17 but have yet to tee off on 18. The lead stands thus at this point, Zach Johnson leading at 11 under par, George McNeil in 2nd at 10 under, Lucas Glover and Tiger Woods are T3 at 9 under, Brendon DeJonge, Sean O’Hair, Retief Goosen and Bubba Watson T5 at 8 under, Y.E. Yang, David Toms, Ross Fisher, Davis Love III and Jason Dufner are T9 at 7 under par.

McNeil has 135 yards with his 3rd having caught his shot fat coming out of the bunker on 18, however even if he bogeys he will still play in the last group with Johnson, if he doubles the last group would most likely be Zach Johnson and Tiger Woods, generally on ties the tour goes by first in first out for pairings. Of course it is possible that Bubba or Retief will birdie 18 in which case one of them would be in the last group if McNeil gets the double. I think he will be fine, probably choke up on a pitching wedge to leave him a little bit below the hole and make his par when play resumes. I suspect the pairings will be Johnson/McNeil, Woods/Glover, Goosen/Watson, and DeJonge/O’Hair.

The lead did change hands a few times throughout the day, starting out with Watson/Goosen, but Woods, McNeil and Zach Johsnon all head the lead alone at times while at one point there was a four way tie at the top with McNeil, Johnson, Woods and Glover all at 10 under. Woods bogeyed 17 and 18 getting bit by the green mile yet again today. Young Danny Lee in only his 2nd tournament as a professional was 5 under on his round, 9 under for the tournament going into 17 but a nasty double bogey on 17 and a bogey on 18 dropped him to 6 under for the tournament standing at T14, pretty good showing regardless in my opinion. It was disappointing for Phil Mickelson and Jeff Maggert today as they dropped from T7 to T30 both shooting rounds of 3 over par 75 today. Very unlike Phil with a wedge in his hand from the bunker at 10, to not get out once but twice then running his putt past the hole and having to settle for a double bogey 7.

Zach Johnson stats are not official until the end of the round, currently Lucas Glover is shown as the leader in scoring average with a 69, once Zach finishes his round that will change unless of course he has a meltdown, stranger things have happened on the PGA Tour, however he is averaging 293.5 yards off the tee (61st), 73.6% greens in regulation (T4) and 1.69 putting (3rd). Bubba Watson continues to lead in driving distance at 337.2 while the field is averaging 299.9. Will MacKenzie leads in driving accuracy at 73.81% with the field at 46.77%. Jason Dufner leads in GIR with 75.93% hit while the field average is 64.43%. Lucas Glover leads in scrambling at 83.36% the field average is at 53.85% and Kent Jones leads in putting needing only 26 putts while the field average is 29.79. The toughest and easiest holes remain 18 and 15 respectively; a change from last year as 17 was the toughest. I believe that 18 has been the hardest hole all weekend.

With the storms in the area and the darkened skies I would take a guess that unless play can resume by 7 PM they will just wait until tomorrow, weather permitting. The rain is still over the metro Charlotte area on radar, tomorrow’s forecast is for scattered thunderstorms.

Quail Hollow Championship Round 2 2009

May 1st, 2009

Bubba Watson and Retief Goosen share the lead after round at 8 under par. Tiger woods was 9 under going into the final three holes but bogeys on 16 and 18 left him at even par for the day, 1 shot back at 7 under. Zach Johnson, Jim Furyk and George McNeil share the T3 spot with Woods. Zach Johnson and Jim Furyk were both on fire today, Johnson toying with a course record shooting 8 under par heading into the final three holes but bogeys on 16, 17 and 18 brought down to 5 under on the day, Furyk had 6 birdies and an eagle but bogeyed 2 and 17 for 6 under on his round. Furyk may have moved up farthest on the leaderboard as he moved from T43 to T3. Rounding out the top ten were Camilo Villegas, Phil Mickelson, Jason Dufner and Jeff Maggert all 2 shots back at 6 under for the championship. Villegas moved up from T43 to T7 the rest of that group tied for 7th dropped slightly down the leaderboard. The next bunch drop out of the top 10 at T11 with Steve Marino, Lucas Glover, AK, Robert Karlsson, Davis Love III and Ted Purdy all 3 shots back at 5 under for the championship. Marino and Glover dropped down the leaderboard with the other 4 players all moving up from T20 to the tied 11th spot.

Bubba Watson stats were impressive in that he not only led the field in driving distance at 337.5 yards but also led the field in GIR, hitting 80.6% of his greens in regulation and he led the field in scoring average at 68. His putting is at 1.69 where he stands alone at 16th. The rest of the field is averaging 72.47 in scoring, 298.8 off the tee and 64.73% greens in regulation. Martin Kaymer led the field in scrambling at 91.67% with the rest of the field averaging 53.73% and Bo Van Pelt leads in putting at 25.5 with the field averaging 29.86. Scoring wise the toughest hole today was the 18th while the easiest was the 15th.

Some of the players missing the cut were Stewart Cink, Ben Crane, Johnson Wagner, Nick O’Hern, Woody Austin, Kirk Triplett, Angel Cabrera, Rory Sabbatini, Chris DeMarco, Padraig Harrington, Ryuji Imada, Steve Elkington, KJ Choi, Aaron Baddely, David Duval, Vaughn Taylor, Sergio Garcia, Vijay Singh, Jason Gore, Jeev M Singh and Stuart Appleby.

Pairings for the top 10 Saturday are Watson and Goosen at 1:50, Johnson and McNeil at 1:40, Woods and Furyk at 1:30, Villegas and Mickelson at 1:20, with Dufner and Maggert at 1:10.

It is a tight leaderboard so it should be an interesting moving day Saturday. I’m still pulling for a Tiger/Phil showdown on Sunday.

Quail Hollow Championship Round 1 2009

April 30th, 2009

Tiger Woods shot a bogey free 7 under par 65 to take a two shot lead over Phil Mickelson, Robert Allenby, Jason Dufner and Steve Marino all at 5 under par 67.
The scorecards of Mickelson and Allenby were bogey free as well, Phil with 3 birdies and an eagle (on 7) and Allenby with 5 birdies, Marino had one bogey with 6 birdies to his credit while Jason Dufner had 3 bogeys but did make 8 birdies. At T6 and 4 under par are Jeff Maggert, Retief Goosen, Hunter Mahan and Lucas Glover. Ten players are tied for tenth at 3 under par, those include; Bo Van Pelt, Nick O’Hern, Steve Flesch, Jeff Klauk, Charles Warren, Sean O’Hair, Mark Calcavecchia, Bill Haas, George McNeil and Cliff Kresge.

Woods driving average is 297.5 and is T78 in driving distance, his Putts per GIR 1.571 where he is T7 and his Greens in Regulation 77.8% where he is T18, being the leader he is leading the field in scoring with a 65, field average is 72.18, he is also leading the field in scrambling an impressive 100% with the field average being 54.36%. Bubba Watson leads the field in driving distance at 337.5 (no surprise there) the field average is 298.2. David Mathis leads the field in driving accuracy at 85.71% the field average is 47.15%. Kevin Streelman leads the field in GIR at 88.89% with the field averaging 68.34% hitting their greens in regulation. Steve Flesch leads in putting with 25 while the field is averaging 30.35. The old adage drive for show and putt for dough is as true in the pro ranks as it is for your weekend scrambles.

Several players need to turn it up a notch if they are to make the cut after today’s performance. Padraig Harrington, Steve Elkington, Adam Scott, Trevor Immelman, Justin Rose, JB Holmes, Kirk Triplett, Jason Gore, DJ Trahan, Vijay Singh, Jeev M Singh, David Duvall, and Ryuji Imada all are in need of an under par round tomorrow if they want to play over the weekend.

The shot of the day had to belong to Phil Mickelson with his chip at 7 for eagle, I can’t fathom how he gets the spin to put the brakes on with those low trajectory chip shots he pulls out of his bag on a routine basis. Any faster and it would have careened off the pin and any slower and it would have come up short. Guess that is why he can sell his short game secrets videos for $49.95 on PGATour.com.

Will the stars continue to shine tomorrow? I would expect an exciting round of golf Friday. Saturday and Sunday for that matter, since the golf world didn’t get the Le Tigre/Lefty showdown at the Masters (well we did get the mini version, but not for whole enchilada) it could be coming this weekend for all the marbles.

Quail Hollow Club 2009

April 27th, 2009

The PGA Tour heads to Charlotte, North Carolina for the Quail Hollow Championship. Televised coverage will be on the Golf Channel Thursday and Friday and on CBS Saturday and Sunday.

Original architect: Pete Dye (2003)
Par is 72
Ranked 32 out of 54 in difficulty
Plays to 7,341 yards (reduced from 7,520)
Grass is TifSport bermudagrass (tees, fairways, greens, rough)
71 Sand bunkers, 5 Water hazards and greens run 11 on the stimpmeter
Course record is 64 shared by Kirk Triplett (2004), Bo Van Pelt (2006) and Rory Sabbatini (2007)
One ace has been recorded in tournament history at the 6th hole by Jay Williamson in 2008
The most difficult hole is the par 3, 217 yard 17th. In 2008 it saw zero eagles, 31 birdies, 260 pars, 146 bogeys, 18 doubles and 14 at triple or worse. This is Quail Hollows signature hole, nearly an island that does forces players to carry the ball 200 yards to clear the water. The shot will also need to be faded to settle the ball on a precariously perched, back-to-front and right-to-left sloping green.
The easiest hole is the par 5, 566 yard 15th. In 2008 it saw 7 eagles, 203 birdies, 234 pars, 72 bogeys, 3 doubles and zero triples or worse. Water hazards to the right and left of the fairway where accuracy and caution is the order of the day. Most of the professionals will have little trouble on this hole.

Some of the biggest names in golf will be playing this week including; Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Geoff Ogilvy, Padraig Harrington, Vijay Singh, Camilo Villegas, Nick Watney, Zach Johnson, Brian Gay, Sean O’Hair, Retief Goosen, Pat Perez, Angel Cabrera, Dustin Johnson, Jerry Kelly, Steve Elkington, Trevor Immelman, Ben Curtis, David Duvall, Rich Beem, Jim Furyk, David Toms, Davis Love III, Todd Hamilton, Mark Calcavecchia, Justin Rose, Jeev M. Singh, Ryuji Imada, Y.E. Chang, KJ Choi, Rory Sabbatini and Robert Karlsson are just a some of the players. Four late withdrawals after the deadline for various reasons; Brandt Snedeker, Alex Cejka, Dudley Hart and Arjun Atwal if you were looking for any of those four players you maybe disappointed. This is normally a fun tournament to watch. The 17th hole in particular has the players can go from hero to zero in one swing of the club. At 217 yards the players need a club with enough loft and the fade to hold the green. I would need a four iron just to get there and that would definitely run right through the green and end up in the drink.

A Bright Idea

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

VA says 3 positive HIV tests from follow-ups

April 18th, 2009

From Army Times:

Three patients exposed to contaminated medical equipment at Veterans Affairs hospitals have tested positive for HIV, the agency said Friday.

Initial tests show one patient each from VA medical facilities in Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Augusta, Ga.; and Miami has the virus that causes AIDS, according to a VA statement.

Veterans deserve better from VA (Equipment should have been sterilized)

April 17th, 2009

From The Leaf Chronicle:

What’s been going on regarding safety procedures at Veterans Affairs Department medical facilities in Tennessee, Georgia and Florida?

A failure to properly maintain hospital equipment has led veterans to be exposed to HIV and other potentially fatal diseases. The VA, in fact, has warned more than 10,000 veterans to get blood tests.  VA sites in the three states cleaned but failed to properly sterilize equipment between patient treatments.  In Tennessee, at Murfreesboro’s Alvin C. York VA hospital, the VA blamed most of the problems on unclear or incomplete instructions from the colonoscopy scope’s manufacturer, Olympus American Inc. That company said in a statement that it is helping the VA address problems with “inadvertently neglecting to appropriately reprocess a specific auxiliary water tube.”