Posts tagged Masters
“Contrived” isn’t a word the honchos in Ponte Vedra Beach like to hear thrown around too often as it pertains to their beloved PGA Tour schedule. Yet, the fact of the matter is that the West Coast Swing of the PGA Tour is way too manufactured.
Three of the first four tournaments on the West Coast seem to pander to the lowest common denominator (which is a not-so-nice way of saying fringe fans) that otherwise couldn’t care less about golf in January and February.
Who could blame them, really?
The NFL Playoffs are just getting interesting and college and NBA basketball are both starting to hit their grooves with eyes towards the postseason.
Meanwhile, the PGA Tour has the Humana Challenge, the Farmers Insurance Open, the Waste Management Phoenix Open and culminates with this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Standing on their own, these tournaments have their merits, but combined they seem forced. The celebrity presence of the Humana (previously the Bob Hope) coupled with the frat-party atmosphere of the WaMPO and culminated with a glorified golf outing that is the AT&T, these made-for-TV type tournaments would seem more suitable as Silly Season events, rather than the lead up to one of the most popular golf tournaments of the year, the Masters.
While there is something to be said for trying to steal eyes from the Big Four major sporting leagues, the Tour seems to go above and beyond at the risk of alienating their core demographic of golf fans.
Each week we hear the players uttering the same song and dance, ‘The (insert tournament name) is nice for a week, but I don’t think (contrived characteristic of said tournament) would be good every week on Tour.’ Unfortunately, that ‘once a week’ ideology lasts an entire month, which as a result, turns players off from competing in many of the events.
There’s a reason Tiger Woods only plays the Farmers, the most unimpaired of the West Coast events, and it’s not only because he likes the course. He played Phoenix up until 2001, when someone threw an orange(!?) on the green as he was putting. Woods holds grudges, as you may have heard, and hasn’t been back since. He likes Pebble Beach, clearly, so much so that he made an attempt to play it again last year. But the schmoozing that goes along with the Pro-Am side of the event and the fact that Mickelson dusted him last year should lead us to believe he won’t be back on the Monterey Peninsula until the US Open returns in 2019.
Speaking of, the Pro-Am that makes the event so “special” is also the curse that can make golf fans shrivel. Pro-Ams happen every week on Tour and the players avoid it like the plague if they can. Parlay those feelings into three full days of six-hour rounds, watching some putz slap it around while the pros try to earn their living and you have TV magic, right?
If people want to see some guy slap the ball all over the yard while smoking a stogie and holding up play, there are golf courses across the world that would be pleased to have their business.
For every housewife that tunes in to see Josh Duhamel duff a shot and then shine that million-dollar smile that snatched up Fergie (ashamed that I know that), five other guys flip over to see who’s winning the basketball game.
The best news about this week is that it’s the last leg of the West Coast Contravision. Next week at Riviera, the multiple courses are out of play, the pro-am is on Wednesday and the true professionals will be on display all weekend without Bill Murray in hunting gear.
From there it’s on the Match Play where you can practically smell the azaleas.
Welcome to Weekend Re-Tee where we take a look back at the weekend that was in the world of golf.
As the rest of the golf world seemingly took a week off following the first major championship of the season, the rest of the world got a better grasp of who Bubba Watson is.
And as fans took a breather, we were reminded that there aren’t any off weeks in the world of professional golf. Louis Oosthuizen and Carl Pettersson both raised trophies (or slipped into plaid jackets) at their wins at the Maybank Malaysian Open and RBC Heritage, respectively.
That’s not all, either. Even as Luke Donald picked up the sticks as the top-ranked player in the world last week, he would not hold onto that top spot come Monday.
Oosthuizen bounces back
Last week, Bubba Watson was the winner of the Masters tournament in a number of ways (fans, money, sponsors, a jacket), but Louis Oosthuizen proved that his win at the 2010 British Open wasn’t just a flash in the pan with his play at the National.
Lauded over during the last two rounds at Augusta for his near-perfect swing and steady demeanor, Oosthuizen showed that he has the game to win multiple majors.
Sure, every time anyone wins a major, you’re sure to get people coming out of the woodwork saying that this is “just the first of many majors for (fill in the blank),” but Oosthuizen has shown that when he wants to, he can be one of the best players in the world.
The only downside to that is the fact that even his swing coach doesn’t see Oosty as the type of guy to go out and contend every week. He’s more of a homebody a la Byron Nelson who wants to play for a few years and then retire back to his family.
In Sports Illustrated’s Masters game story, Alan Shipnuck compared the South African with a certain lad from Northern Ireland:
With apologies to McIlroy, Oosthuizen may have the sweetest swing in the game. “Unfortunately, he doesn’t have Rory’s desire,” says Oosthuizen’s swing coach, Pete Cowen. “If Louis wanted it a little more, he could easily be the best player in the game.”
However, Oosthuizen is obviously enjoy a good run of form as he carried his solid play in Georgia 30 hours across the globe to Kuala Lumpur where he won the Maybank Malaysian Open by three shots over Stephen Gallacher.
“I was a little surprised to win here after that,” Oosthuizen said. “I thought I would be a lot more tired. My golf was a bit up and down in the morning at the end of the third round, but I settled down and played well later.”
Oosthuizen is up to No. 12 in the world.
Pettersson wins at Harbour Town
In its traditional week-after-the-Masters spot on the PGA Tour schedule, the Heritage, which nearly didn’t happen this year due to its lack of presenting sponsor before RBC signed on, proved once again to be a solid tournament with a pretty decent field.
However, by the time the weekend rolled around, two players near the top of the leaderboard were getting as much press for their body types as they were for their good play.
Carl Pettersson and Colt Knost were just going about their business around Harbour Town, but it seemed as if everyone was infatuated with two of the heavier players on Tour were doing so well, especially in the Tiger Woods age when working out and fitness is at a premium among Tour pros.
Pettersson has already tried to go skinny in 2009 when he dropped 30 pounds. Instead of better fitness improving his game, it made it worse, something we’ve also seen happen with John Daly.
Pettersson missed 12 cuts in 29 starts during that 2009 season and decided that he should get back to his podgy playing weight.
“It took a while to get the swing back,” Pettersson said. “Just the last like six months I felt comfortable again.”
While Knost didn’t have the success over the weekend he would have hoped during his first tournament in contention on the PGA Tour, he did card a top-5.
Pettersson, on the other hand, was the class of the field, widening his lead to five strokes with 10 holes to play. He would go on to win by that same margin with Zach Johnson finishing as his closest competitor
With his fourth PGA Tour title, Pettersson moved up to 35th in the world.
McIlroy back atop world rankings
Rory McIlroy had a pretty solid week off in Copenhagen watching his tennis-star girlfriend, Caroline Wozniacki lose in the finals of the e-Boks Open.
While that probably wasn’t the result “Wozzilroy” was looking for, McIlroy was able to regain the top spot in the World Golf Rankings thanks to a change in his divsor.
Previous top-ranked player, Luke Donald, needed to finish in the top eight at Harbour Town to have enough points to hold onto the position, but with McIlroy inactive, his divisor dropped from 50 to 49, making his average points increase.
McIlroy will be back in action in two weeks at the Wells Fargo Championship.
Woods was vague with the PGA Tour media officials as he left Doral, telling Chris Reimer, the PGA Tour Communications Manager, “Tell them it’s my leg.” [Which leg?] “It’s my left leg.”
Of course, we know now thanks to Woods’ Twitter page that it was his left Achilles that was bothering him and his doctor diagnosed him with a mild strain of said tendon.
It would appear as if Woods withdrew as a precautionary measure to ensure that he would be able to play in the Masters, the year’s first major, in three weeks in East Georgia. He was given the go-ahead from his doctor that he could resume hitting balls later in the week and that he would be hopeful for next week’s Bay Hill Invitational (as well as the Tavistock Cup, which takes place on Monday and Tuesday).
Now, there is no reason to rehash Tiger’s injury timeline, other people have done that ad nauseum. What’s most important to understand is something that we probably won’t know for a few months or even years.
As with everything circling around Eldrick, there is a cloud of doubt or unknowing curiosity.
After his one-legged US Open victory in the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines, we came to find out that Woods had ruptured his Achilles while rehabbing his knee, something, we were told, carries a direct correlation with his rehab.
The only problem with that was, Woods and Co. didn’t let us know that he had suffered that rather significant injury until the 2010 Masters.
More than likely, Woods decided to drop that bomb at that time because it would give the media something other than his “transgressions” to talk about beings that it was his first tournament post-hydrant.
What is really concerning is the not knowing. Woods showed his latest, and arguably, closest return to form last week at the Honda Classic, highlighted by his final-round 62 on Sunday that put brought him just short of Rory McIlroy.
Now, a week and a half later, we sit scratching our heads, wondering, prognosticating and generally, guessing what Woods’ latest WD means.
He has withdrawn three times in the last three years (2010 Players, 2011 Players and 2012 Cadillac Championship) and each time was shrouded with confusion.
Woods’ people released a statement on TigerWoods.com that read in part, “He had tightness in the left Achilles warming up and it got progressively worse as the round went on.”
Then Woods’ explanation:
“After hitting my tee shot on 12, I felt it was necessary to withdraw,” Woods said. “In the past, I would have continued to play, but this time I decided to do what I thought was necessary.”
Optomists will say that Woods WD’d in favor of keeping himself healthy for the long run. That he played three weeks in a row and it’s not uncommon to feel a little worn down. That for the best chance at the Masters, he should take every precaution.
The only down side is that others point out the how the injury bug has firmly inserted itself into Tiger’s game. And despite being 36, it’s an “old 36” with “a lot of mileage on that body.”
So, what do we know for sure? In short: nothing, and Woods will likely keep it that way. If it was a mild strain, we likely won’t hear any more about it, but if it’s something worse, then we may find out that, too.
Except it might not be for a few years.