Friday, April 22, 2005

Nationwide Tour

As I mentioned in my profile, I caddied on the Nationwide Tour in 2002 where I gained an understanding of how good theses guys really are and how difficult it is to get to the PGA Tour and to stay on the Tour. I think this weeks Nationwide Tour Event in Virginia Beach is a perfect example of the Nationwide Tour's strength. There is an argument that if you took away the top 10 to 15 of the European Tour, the Nationwide Tour is better and deeper. Since 2002, I have been a believer of this thought. This week the Nationwide Tour is playing the TPC of Virginia Beach, a course that stretches 7,432 yards. If you look at the scorecard, you will see Par 4 after Par 4 that are 450 yards and longer. This course would rank as the one of the longest on the PGA Tour. The most interesting fact about this weeks tournament is that there are 35 former PGA Tour winners in the field including Wayne Grady, who won a PGA Championship, and Steve Pate, who has won 6 times on Tour and played on two winning US Ryder Cup teams. Some of the other former winners who you may or may not have heard of include:

Curt Byrum - Kenny Knox - Jim McGovern - Jay Delsing - Tom Scherrer - Keith Clearwater - Jay Don Blake - Gary Hallberg - Grant Waite - Garrett Willis

If the Nationwide Tour comes to your town, I recommend going out and watching. If you see the Tour on The Golf Channel, I suggest you watch for a few minutes. Not only will you see these players but you will see the future Tom Lehmans, Chad Campbells and Zach Johnsons. Catch out the action at
Nationwide Leaderboard

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

SBL

Once again, I was on Sports Bloggers Live last night. SBL talked about various sports topics including a wrap-up to the Masters. To catch my segment, tune in at Masters Segment

As I previously mentioned, I expect to be on SBL Mondays before and after the Majors. I recommend listening to Sports Bloggers Live every Monday Night at 7pm.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Augusta Delivers Once Again

As usual there was an unbelievable amount of drama on Sunday at the Masters. This year there was definitely a twist to the story. The golfing world had grown accustom to Tiger chasing down the leader in the 3rd round and then squashing him in the final round. After Tiger shot 65 in the 3rd round, highlighted by 7 straight birdies on 7 thru 13, he had a 3 shot lead going into the final round. It appeared after two holes that it was over. He looked to be on his game with a massive 344 yard drive on #1 and two birdies to start the round. But DiMarco stayed very patient and just played his game, despite what Lanny Wadkins was saying, and put pressure on Tiger by just hanging around. I was quite impressed with DiMarco who clearly outplayed Tiger from tee to green. If he could have converted just a couple more birdies he would have won. The theme of the day was Tiger blasting drives 50 to 60 yards past DiMarco followed by DiMarco hitting 5, 6 and 7 irons stiff. His approach shots on 5, 6, 9, 13, 14 and 15 were amazing. The putter just wasn’t working for him. Tiger did what he had to do to win. I don't think he is back to where he was in 2000 and 2001. He may never get back to that, but he sure looks better. He still is hitting some loose drives and he did give up a 2 shot lead with bogeys on 17 and 18, but of course the only thing anyone is going to talk about is the chip on 16.

Below our my other thoughts for the tournament:

  • The chip on 16 was probably one of the 5 best shots in the history on of the Masters, given it was Sunday, it was impossible and it was Tiger. DLIII hit a similar shot a few years ago, but it didn’t get him a green jacket.
  • 3 of the Big Four where there on Sunday. Not sure what happened to Els, who was my pick for the week. Quietly, Goosen finished 3rd, ahead on most of the Big Four and backed up my pre-tournament prediction.
  • I am surprised that Sergio missed the cut. He was another pre-tournament pick to be there but let me down. I was right on with DLIII and Paddy Harrington
  • Immelman’s ace of 16 on Sunday won me my pool for the third straight year. I needed him and DiMarco to play the last 4 holes -2 to get the victory and that is exactly what they did. Once again, my late round picks dominated my pool.
  • Amateur Ryan Moore is pretty impressive. He is the best amateur since Tiger. He swept the amateur ranks last year with victories at the NCAA Tournament, US Amateur and a few others. Now he has a top 16 at the Masters and an invite to the 2006 Masters. And he’s suppose to go to class at UNLV on Tuesday!

Finally, I have to devote a second to Lanny Wadkins. Lanny was a hell of a player but he is one crappy announcer. He repeated second guessed and dogged DiMarco on Sunday. First, he though DiMarco was arguing with an official on 8 but in reality he was asking for a new driver since the head on his came loose. Then he questioned his club selection on 10. He hit 3wd and had 235 left. He loved Tiger’s decision. Lanny failed to mention that the hole turns right to left and DiMarco plays the ball the other direction and he had a driver in his bag that clearly wasn’t his first choice. Result of the hole, DiMarco Par, Tiger Bogey. Then on 15 DiMarco did not go for the green from 219. He had a hanging lie and wasn’t comfortable with the shot. Plus he had hit everything close all day, so he laid up and still made birdie to halve the hole with Tiger. DiMarco played his game, he hit fairway after fairway and green after green. The result was a 68 on Sunday at Augusta while playing with Tiger. That’s something that no one else has done. I commend DiMarco for playing his game and for playing it so well. That is 2 straight playoff loses in Majors for him. He is now Top 10 in the world and clearly a favorite to be in the mix at the US Open.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Sports Bloggers Live

On Tuesday Night, Putts from the Rough was featured on Sports Bloggers Live as they spent a few minutes on their weekly show discussing the Masters. The plan is I will be on the Monday before and after every Major this year. If you want to listen to the golf segment, this will take you directly to that portion of the show. Masters Segment

If you want to check out the entire show, go to Sports Bloggers Live. You can hear their show live every Monday Night at 7pm through the website

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Masters Pool

For the past 20 years or so, friends of mine from the local golf course have done a Masters Pool. Two years ago I was finally invited to join the pool and have been quite successful in drafting a team. In 2003, I had a late 1st round pick and chose Mike Weir. Last year I had the 3rd pick and took Phil. Any pool where you have the champion usually results in you contending for 1st place. The rules of the pool are pretty simple:
- Maximum of 12 teams with each team drafting 6 players
- Standard snake draft format (1st pick in round 1 gets last pick in round 2)
- After every team drafts 6 players, the remaining players are bid on
- Prizes for low daily team (4 scores), daily low individual and for champion
(A player must make the cut for a 1st or 2nd round score to count)
- Side action with other teams is encouraged

Basically what happens is after the top 72 players are drafted you are left with the former champions over 55 years old, the amateurs and the ‘is Austin Eaton related to Mark Eaton of the Utah Jazz’ type guys. But you must have 4 players make the cut so the bidding gets kinda high for Ben Crenshaw, Sandy Lyle and even Gary Player.

This year pretty much everyone agreed you need a top four pick to have a chance. I drew #9 which spells trouble especially since I won the last two years and everyone wants some side action with me. Here is how my team unfolded:

Round 1 (#9) – Sergio Garcia – This was a no-brainer with the Big Four gone as well as Goosen, Toms, Weir and Olazabal. I would normally like Harrington but with his father dying back home, I don’t think he will be 100% there. Plus, on Monday I pick Garcia as a player to make some noise. He did fire a 66 on Sunday last year.
Round 2 (#16) – Chris DiMarco – I was eyeing Darren Clarke but he went the pick before. DiMarco has played well before at the Masters. It seems that the claw putting grip has held up for him on the glass the call greens.
Round 3 (#33) – Jim Furyk – This was a steal this late in the 3rd Round. He hasn’t quite regained his form after this surgery over a year ago, but he has won a major and he can flat out roll it.
Round 4 (#40) – Ian Poulter – He is another guy that I said you might hear from this week. For those who don’t know him, he’s from England, he has played on a Ryder Cup and he has some funky outfits and hair.
Round 5 (#57) – Chris Riley – He is probably the best player than no one talks about. He consistently finished in the top 30 on the money list and has played well in majors. He’s not a contender but his is a cut maker.
Round 6 (#64) – Trevor Immelman – I wanted Graeme McDowell here but he went two picks earlier. At this point it’s a total guess. Trevor has won a World Cup plus my boy DT caddied from him a few years back in the US Junior Am. It was either him or Ben Curtis (who has made 1 cut this year and about $9,000).

After that, it was all bidding. I jumped on Ryan Palmer as my 7th guy. Not sure why but you have to have more than six players. I don’t expect to have the champion this year but I think I got good picks later with Furyk and Riley. I just need at least 4 to make the cut to have a chance. Man, I pray none of these guys wins the Par 3 contest on Wednesday

BellSouth

Congrats to Phil for getting his 3rd win of the year. He now has played in 8 tournaments, winning $3.65M so far. That’s was happens when you get 3 W’s, 1 2nd and two other top 12s. He is clearly playing awesome right now and in my mind is probably is a slight favorite over Tiger, Vijay and Ernie. I am a little nervous that the Monday night finish might have an impact on Phil this week, but on the other hand, he’s playing so well that it might make zippy difference.

A few other notes from the BellSouth -

Nice finishes for Lucas Glover, Frank Lickliter and Olazabal. Glover and Lickliter both dumped balls in the water on 18 to miss the playoff. I’ll cut Glover some slack since he has never been in contention on Tour before but Lickliter needed a birdie for the win or a par for a playoff but instead he yanked is second shot into the lake (and it wasn’t even close). As for Ollie, he missed two short putts that would have won the tournament. Not what you want to see going into Augusta.

I do want to give some props to my boy Tag Ridings. He struggled on the front nine but shot 30 on the back to finish T5 and pick up a cool $161,875. That moves Tag from 151 on the money list to 83 ($241,270). Tag is a guy that I know from my days of caddying on the Nationwide Tour. He's a really solid dude. A couple interesting things about Tag –
- He won the 2002 Midland Odessa Tournament when he holed a wedge for an eagle in the playoff.
- He shot 64 in the last round of the Chrysler Championship last year to finish T11 and to finish 125 on the money list, earning his Tour card for 2005. Can you say clutch?
- Earlier this year at the Bob Hope, he shot 3 under on the back nine of the third round with 2 pars, 4 bogeys, 2 eagles and a double eagle.

There are a few other guys on Tour this year that I know from my looping days. I will periodically provide updates on them throughout the season.

Monday, April 04, 2005

The Field

Obviously, if I was going to make a prediction as to who is going to be wear the green jacket on Sunday it would have to come from the Big Four. This is probably the only major I would say that I expect one of them to win because of the lack of depth to the Masters field, the fact that all four are playing well and 3 of the 4 have won the Masters with Ernie not having broken through yet, but having 3 majors of his own. The Masters is usually the most dramatic major of the year mainly because the leaderboard is so bunched entering the back nine on Sunday and so much can and has happened on 11, 12, 13, 15 and 18. I don’t expect this year will be any different.

Put them on the Board
Tiger – 3 green jackets, 8 majors, and starting to play like the old Tiger
Vijay – 1 green jacket and on a serious roll the last 18 months
Phil – Defending champ and playing better than ever
Ernie – Has been tearing up the International scene this year and due for a green jacket

Will make some noise come Sunday
Goosen – A couple more wins in the US and the Big Four becomes Five. Remember he has more majors than Phil. He putts too well not to be in contention.
Garcia – Not a big fan of his game or swing, but he should be on the board
Toms – Not a long hitter but one of the best ball strikers on Tour.
Ollie – Playing well at BellSouth and has two green jackets.

Could surprise some folks (but could be MC Hammers)
Ian Poulter – Trying to be the next Faldo, but with personality. His hairstyle looks like one of those nasty lies you see at the US Open.
Zach Johnson – In his first Masters he makes the cut and is within a couple shots entering Sunday.
Tim Clark – South African has shown signs of being able to hang with the big boys
Graeme McDowell – My sleeper pick. He’s a serious sleeper and serious Irish.
Ryan Moore – Best Amateur in the world. Has torn up every major amateur tournament over the past two years. Will like turn pro after US Open. Could be this years Kuchar or Wittenberg

MC Hammer (MC as in Missed Cut)
Paddy Harrington – His father is very ill back home. Not going to pull a Crenshaw like performance even though I’d love to listen to his post victory press conference just to see if I can understand what the hell he is saying.
Kenny Perry – Playing well but struggles on Augusta’s greens.
Fred Funk – Maxed out at the TPC. I’d love for him to compete but is too drained.
DLIII – Everyone loves his game but I think he’s going to play like Judge Smails

I’ll be back tomorrow with an update on how my Masters Draft went with a complete break down of my roster. I have won the pool the last two years which included picking the champion.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Augusta

It's that time of year again, March Madness is almost over, the weather is turning warmer, the grass is starting to show a hint of green, the new clubs are on order and all the talk in the golf world is about the Big Four and the Masters. Golf fans often debate which major is the best but for me there is no question its the Masters. Its the only major played on the same course which happens to be perfection, it is the first of the year, it never has a fluke winner, their is always an amazing ending on sunday evening and its aired damn near commercial free. Granted is it the weakness field of all the majors but it never fails to deliver on the weekend. I look forward to this year because their is not clear cut favorite. The Big Four have all won this year and seem to be playing well. It was disappointing that none of them made a run at the Players, but I still see all of them in contention at Augusta. No predictions here just yet, but they will follow soon enough.