Tiger Undisputed Best Ever…at Firestone.

August 10, 2009

It seems whenever I don’t write a preview and pick Tiger to win, he wins.  So, being a fan of the man, I guess I should only write previews to tournaments he doesn’t participate in.  Or else he may never catch the Golden Bear’s 18 Major milestone.

Tigers Open Championship woes are distant memories now.

Tiger's Open Championship woes are distant memories now.

Tiger showed us yet again, that his better is better than everyone else’s.  He is the only guy on tour that can not be beat if he is playing close to his best.  This was Woods’ 7th victory at Firestone, the most ever by a player at a single course, and really marks his return from injury.  He showed signs of past brilliance in besting Sean O’Hair earlier this season, and at Memorial, but the past few weeks, and especially today’s performance, have really shown the gutty, grinding, dominant Tiger we grew accustomed to.

After his British Open club throwing show people seemed to doubt him, but Woods has since proved there is still a giant discrepancy between the world’s #1 and whoever may be the world’s #2.

This week also marked the return of another Blue Duck favorite in Paddy Harrington, who fell off the face of the earth earlier this season, but (thankfully for Wilson Staff, who live and die by Paddy’s performance, unless Ricky Barnes has another good day) the Irishman came back to form this week.  Harrington was bested as much by a timing official as by Tiger.  And was beaten by the 16th hole, nicknamed “the Monster,” a Monster which Woods slayed with a bomb of an 8 iron from trouble 180 yards away.  Vintage Tiger knocked it inside the leather and tapped in for birdie.  It ended up being a 4 shot swing, and Woods cruised to victory.

I understand the rules, but why be sticklers with the last group on sunday? The officials pulled out their stopwatches as if there was a group of hackers waiting in carts on the sixteenth tee.  Did CBS have to get to 60 minutes?  Does Tim Finchem just like to flex his nuts from time to time?  The timing issues seemed to leave Tiger feeling uneasy and unsatisfied by his victory.  Both players had a blast duking it out for 16 holes and it was a shame it had to end with time being an issue.

Regardless of clocks and all that nonsense, Tiger showed he is the modern king of sport yet again.  And with every victory Woods gets closer to Nicklaus as the all time best.  Tiger’s 70th victory leaves him only three behind Nicklaus (Snead has more I know).  A month ago, a Golf.com article ranked Tiger a close second to Nicklaus all time.  I can’t say that this victory changes that, but looking at the top 20 you will be quick to notice that Tiger is the only modern player on the list.  Knowing that Nicklaus had to deal with 7 of the rest of the top 20 at some point in his career makes his numbers a bit more impressive.  Tiger did compete against Annika once or twice, though.

Youre like a big f***ing bear man.

"You're like a big f***ing bear, man."

As the Golf.com article points out, Bobby Jones said of Jack Nicklaus when he first witnessed him play, “he plays a game with which I am not familiar.”  I think the great amateur would have a similar reaction to Mr. Woods, but he might tell him to stop throwing his clubs.

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Carebear’s British Open Preview/ Predictions

July 15, 2009
Can two guys recreate the Duel in the Sun 32 years later?

Can two guys recreate the Duel in the Sun 32 years later?

The 2009 British Open is being held at Turnberry for the first time since 1994.  15 years ago, Nick Price took down the Claret Jug with a young Jesper Parnevik nipping at his heels.  Turnberry presents the unique challenges that make the British Open a change of pace from other tournaments on the PGA tour schedule.  It gives guys a taste of what many of the European players deal with on a weekly basis, and most of the players are happy to get back to the States when its over.

Weather seems to always be a huge focal point when the tour jumps across the ocean and this year should be no different.  Tiger spoke in depth about the wind after his practice round on Tuesday, and talked about how this is a ball striker’s course.  Looking at past champions, Nick Price, Tom Watson and Greg Norman you would think you may see a big name take the Jug, but there are so many solid strikers teeing off that it is pretty wide open.

So, without further ado,

My Four Horsemen
Tiger Woods

Tiger has become the British Open king in the last few years.  He has won two of the last three Opens he has played in, and has the shotmaking ability and precision with his irons to keep his Trans-Atlantic dominance in full effect.  Throw in the fact that he has already won three tournaments this year and has been driving the ball quite well, and it would be irresponsible not to pick him as a potential winner.

Martin Kaymer

Martin Kaymer is hot right now.  The young German has won the last two tournaments on the European tour and this may be the week that he makes his big splash on the world scene.  19th right now in the World Golf Rankings, Kaymer has got a shot if he keeps his strong play going.

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy: Perfect Swing, Jackass Hair

Rory McIlroy: Perfect Swing, Jackass Hair

I am always going to side with the European players when it comes to the British Open.  Even though before Padraig Europeans haven’t had a huge amount of success at the Open Championship, they are just so much more adapted to the style of play necessary to tackle the courses and the weather in the big tourney.  McIlroy is also an easy choice because he is extremely talented.  He has finished in the mix in many tournaments on both sides of the pond this year, but has yet to really show the golf world what he is capable of.  There is no better stage for the young Irishman to show his ability.

Boo Weekley

Boo has had some injury trouble so far this year, but I love the guy.  He is the type of American player that the Brits really like.  He is a cartoon American, a gun toting, southern accent twanging, camo wearing, American caricature, but he is also a great ball striker who hits it straight and can hit it low.  Boo showed some signs of life at an easy course in Hartford a month ago, and hopefully he will put it together at Turnberry.

Who’s Really Hot Right Now?

Other than Martin Kaymer:  Hunter Mahan.  He finishes top ten every week now.  Not really sure if he can contend on this course, but he has surprised me all year.  If Hunter could put a whole week together, he might have a few wins this year.  Very close to a US Open championship.

Old Guy that could Contend:

Greg Always had his priorities straight:  Hair, bitches and trophies take notes Rory.

Greg Always had his priorities straight: Hair, bitches and trophies. Take notes Rory.

Greg Norman: Throw some money down on Greg.  He won at this course once.  So what it was 23 years ago.  He was leading this event going into the last round last year.  Greg makes enough money off of wine to not feel the pressure of winning anymore, and even more of a reason to favor the 54yr old Aussie, he doesn’t use MacGregor equipment anymore.  He swings actual golf clubs now, but then again, Paddy’s won 2 in a row with Wilson.

2 More Longshots

Robert Rock and as always, Ryuji Imada.  Rock lost in an epic playoff in the Irish Open that was a baby-British Open.  Don’t expect a similar result, but I’d look like a genius if one came.

Best Potential Storyline

There are a few good finishes that could come out here.  Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods facing eachother down on the Isles would be pretty cool.  Rory is everyone’s expected heir apparent, but hasn’t shown it yet.  I’d expect expect him to shake in his footjoys in a showdown against his idol, but maybe we will find out on Sunday.

Sergio losing in 2007 is one of my favorite recent golf memories, but it was only after Padraig put two in the water on 18 to give him a shot to blow it.  This brings in the potential for a 2009 meltdown.  Who will be the victim?  My guess: Lee Westwood?  Paul Casey?  Who knows?  Expect a choke, though.  If Ricky Barnes was playing I’d pick him.  He wears the dumbest hats.

A Warning for the TV Audience
This weekend should be a commentator’s dream come true.  Check out the Results from Turnberry’s last Open.  One David Feherty finished fourth, Nick Faldo finished eighth, and if they decide to bring Peter Jacobsen along, he finished in a tie for twenty-fourth.  Faldo’s actually playing this week, too.  Johnny Miller was rehearsing for his lines in Tin Cup when the tournament took place.

Before becoming the semi-funny guy thats not Mccord, and not as serious as Baker-Finch, David Feherty put up a solid week at Turnberry.

Before becoming the semi-funny guy that's not Mccord, and not as serious as Baker-Finch, David Feherty put up a solid week at Turnberry.

So, on that note I will conclude.  Having Tiger back in the Open Championship returns it to prominence in 2009.  The course that was the site of the famous Duel in the Sun in 1977 should make for a great venue and no doubt, the British crowd will be as boisterous as ever.  If you’re a night owl, you can really take it all in.  Set down in the recliner at 1:30AM thursday morning and start pounding beers.  They only tee off at the first so you got tee times for the next 9 hours.  That means Calcavecchia and his athletic frame will be done with eighteen before you get up for work.  So enjoy another good week of what has been a solid season for golf thus far.

The Turnberry Lighthouse will be the backdrop for another big Major week.

The Turnberry Lighthouse will be the backdrop for another big Major week.


Carebear’s Traveler’s Championship Preview/ Predictions

June 25, 2009
Connecticut has Womens Basketball and this

Connecticut has Women's Basketball and this

I don’t usually do previews of the smaller tournaments on tour.  To this point, I have reserved myself to cover only tournaments that Tiger participated in, and that were of major or near-major status.  I will make an exception, though for the big red umbrella.  Since this tournament takes place in my backyard, and I used Traveler’s employee’s passes to get into the Pro Am on Wednesday, I will do a preview.

First off, I have to say that they actually have a really talented field.  Despite the fact that the biggest name in the game isn’t present, Travelers managed to draw most of the other big guns to the dreary old Hartford area.  Partly because the US Open was very nearby and partly because Travelers and The TPC have done a great job developing the course’s practice facilities in the last few years.

But much to the players delight, this is not Bethpage.  For much of the day Wednesday, the weather was Bethpage-esque, though.  As heavy rain fell throughout the 6,800 yd layout to the point where when Sergio got to the 17th tee, he joked to the surrounding audience, “It’s sunny in Spain today.”  Yes, I said 6,800 yds.  This is not a monster.  It is a straightforward layout with a few holes down the stretch that could make for an exciting finish, but you do not have to be Alvaro Quiros or Bubba Watson(they hit the ball 8 miles each) to take down the Travelers.

With that in mind, here are my contenders:

My Four Horsemen: 

Brian Gay:

Though I feel bad for his caddie for having to take the constant snickering from the crowd as they walk by and see the back of his smock, I don’t feel bad because he’s making ten percent.   Thats about $274 grand this year.  Not too shabby.  But honestly, Brian Gay is playing remarkably well this season even though he is sixth to last in driving distance on tour.  His length was evident in missing the cut at the 7,426 yd US Open course last week, but The River Highlands does not present the same obstacles.  Look for him to be close to the top.

Zach Johnson:

I pick Zach in almost every tournament, but in the same regard as Gay, Johnson is accurate and purposeful with each shot.  He also missed the cut last week, and played pretty poorly at Muirfield as well, but look for him to bounce back in Cromwell.

Hunter Mahan:

Create a caption

 

This guy can hit it long, but he also won the Travelers in 2007.  The 27yr old Californian has been in the mix a lot this year with three top 10’s including two in majors and one last week.  He was robbed on Sunday at Bethpage when he hit the pin on the par-4  16th, and his ball ended up off the green.  The ball would have ended up close, and a birdie would have put Mahan at 3 under.  Instead he bogeyed, and was put out of contention.

He hits greens at a stellar rate, and the greens at the Travelers are a bit on the small side.  Mahan should be a factor by week’s end.

Corey Pavin:

Circa 1995

Circa 1995

Now.  He better not shave during the Ryder Cup.

Now. He better not shave during the Ryder Cup.

 

If the Ryder Cup Captain is gonna win anywhere this year, it is here.  He is last on the tour in driving distance, and is hitting greens less than half the time, but I’m rooting for him because he looks sort of like Billy Bob Thornton.  One year off the senior circuit, it would be nice to see Corey beat up on some young guns.

It would also be nice to see: Anthony Kim win a tournament.  Kim has struggled a bit this year, but showed signs of life last week at the Open.  He seemed to be in good spirits at the Pro Am, and has apparently lost 4 inches off his waist (if you see the guy in person, you realize, him losing 4 inches off his waist means he’s now shopping for slacks at Gap Kids.), but he would outdrive me by thirty yards so I will shut up.

With the course’s proximity to two of the largest casinos in the world, though, I think Kim’s chances are slim.  If I see him out I will buy him a beer.  If I see Sergio out I will gloat about the terrible US soccer team beating his Spaniards in a hideous game (yesterday’s news, sorry.)

My Final Thought:

This is hard for me to say, but at the Pro Am today the players were accessible as ever.  It was a Wednesday in rainy Cromwell, CT so needless to say, few were at the 17th tee to see Sergio tee off at 9:30am, but he treated everyone well, signed autographs until all were pleased, and he didn’t bitch once in the few minutes I was within earshot of him.  Though, I still will never root for the guy, maybe he’s not as big a douchebag as I thought, but he probably is.

My Bold Prediction:

Justin Rose will win it because he was the only golfer I didn’t have to say, “Hey man, nice drive” to, for him to say hello.  Other than Boo’s caddie, who chewed more tabacco than Lenny Dykstra in a hitting slump.

Hes Gotta Win Eventually

He's Gotta Win Eventually

I do have a good feeling about Ryuji Imada as well.


Sorry Phil, Duval was a Better Story

June 23, 2009

Another US Open ended Monday with the expected result for Phil Mickelson.  NBC, ESPN, and Golf Channel commentators alike praised him for his fifth career runner-up finish in the biggest tournament in golf’s calendar year.  I just wonder how long it is going to take everyone to realize that Phil is a massive choker.

I almost feel as if I am breaking some rule by writing negative things about the guy right now.  I commend Phil for his play in the tournament.  He said all the right things this week, and did not let what must be a very stressful and scary situation in his home life affect his game.

For a while, I thought Amy’s situation may actually help Mickelson in this tournament.  That may sound naive and emotionally unattached to the situation, but think about it for a second.  Towards the end of the final round Phil was playing against a lot of amateurs when it came to major championship pressure.  Tiger was lingering, but failed to make a big charge.  David Duval is a different golfer than he was when he dealt with his major pressure, and Retief Goosen took himself out of contention before the turn.

Phil has not only dealt with Major Championship pressure before, but honestly, he has bigger issues than golf pressure right now.  These guys are all seizing up worrying about making a putt and Phil is worried about someone across the country.  Maybe it worked against him, but a lot of athletes can thrive when their mind is off the task at hand.

From a Disney standpoint, though, David Duval was the big story.  Duval winning wouldn’t have been as big a deal in the media as Phil, (because they all have crushes on him for some reason) but it would have been a much bigger story in the grand scheme of golf.  Duval was ranked somewhere in the high 800’s before the tournament and among the worst on the tour in driving accuracy and GIR.  These are not the makings of a US Open champ.

But David took his new confidence and new athletic physique to Farmingdale knowing he had a shot.  If Duval doesn’t get stuck under the lip of a bunker on the par 3, 3rd hole there is a good chance he wins the Open.  If he bogeyed that hole he would have finished tied for first.  He also caught other bad breaks, but as he said, “everybody did.”  Whether or not Duval is back is yet to be seen, but it was nice to see a guy who fell off the face of the earth back in contention.  Even if he is wearing a XXL instead of his former medium.

The Phil story is intriguing.  His wife is sick with breast cancer.  She is doing okay, but there is such an unknown future when it comes to cancer.  Did we catch it early enough?  If we get rid of it will it come back?, and any light shined on cancer in the public eye is important because it is such an epidemic these days.  Cancer really affects everybody.  So I really do commend Phil for playing and just bringing attention to it.  The Pga does more charity work than any other sport, and hopefully cancer research benefits from the Mickelson’s situation.  Does this make me want to root for Phil, though?  A little more than usual, but not really.

David Duval’s story is inspiring.  This is a man who also knows the perils of cancer.  David lost his brother to Leukemia when they were teenagers.  A bone marrow transplant from David to his brother failed.  He gained success through college and early amateur years and rose all the way to number one in the world before losing his ability to make cuts.  Duval came alive with a 67 out of the gate this week, though.  He hit fairways, he has the same great putting stroke, and his formerly aloof behavior with crowds was seemingly gone.  This was a new golfer, a new body, a new man.

You were almost waiting for the trainwreck to happen everytime Duval got close to the top on Monday.  After the bad bunker break most thought he was out of the hunt, but in a charge that was in line with his “never quit” message for the week Duval almost pulled it off.

Don’t get me wrong.  I give Phil a ton of credit even for coming out and playing, but his second place finish at an Open is expected, and it is overshadowing a performance that should not be overlooked.  Duval fought against golf demons to fight back to the top of a Major leaderboard, Phil was fighting against something else.  I am much more impressed by a runner up finish from the world’s 882nd ranked player than from the world’s number 2.


Players Preview

May 7, 2009

Because my Masters preview article was dead on, I feel it necessary to write one for the next big tournament on the PGA tour.  So without further ado, here’s my Players Championship Preview.

This is a sick field, and should make for a good tourney. In the past few years the Players has been a ball strikers course, and winners have been near the top in GIR for the week.  Winners have also been accurate off the tee, but Sergio Garcia proved last year that you can win here even if you putt like a blind man getting a blowjob.

My Four Horsemen

Tiger Woods:
I can’t not pick him.  He can’t hit his driver and his long irons haven’t been working of late, but he is still better than everyone out there.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pull a Roy “Tin Cup” McAvoy and just bring a seven-iron this week.  He would still make the cut, and scare Phil’s ever shrinking tits on sunday.

Camilo Villegas:

Always seems to find a way to flex

Always seems to find a way to flex

My favorite Colombian since… well, he’s my favorite Colombian, and he draws the right kind of fans to the game.  Seriously though, he is a ball striker and leads the PGA in Greens in Regulation hit this season.  Driving accuracy has been an issue, but he’s getting it on the dance floor.

Sean O’Hair:
He is another ball striker, and coming off a win last week, no one is hitting the ball better.  They mentioned the fact that he didn’t hit a putt over 10ft about 45 times during the final hour of coverage last sunday, but he didn’t have to hit a putt over ten feet because he was pure.  He seems like a huge tool, and he choked hard at Bay Hill and blamed cool weather.  We could see a replay of the choking at 17 here if he’s in the hunt sunday.

Stud

Boo = Stud

Boo Weekley:
I just love Boo, and Boo is due.

My Longshot
DJ Trahan:
Second in the PGA in GIR, and hitting fairways 68% of the time.  14 top-10’s in his career and 2 wins.  If he doesn’t fold on the intimidating 17th he’s got a shot.

And watch out for Ryuji Imada.  Still got a good feeling about him.


Don’t be Surprised if:

Sergio does it again:
I would never pick him because I hate him, but Sergio’s game is built for this course, and in Sergio’s mind, he won a major last year here.  No one has ever repeated in the Players, and I hope to god this little prick isn’t the first, but we shall see.  There is one thing to be sure of, if he doesn’t win, it wasn’t his fault.

Kenny Perry repeats his Master’s performance:
I think Kenny is hoping for a nice tenth place finish.  He would get his nice paycheck without the last pairing pressure.  The thought of Perry on the 17th tee looking across the vast 120yds of water at that bullshit little green with a lead on Sunday makes the old man reach for his Flomax.  I love the guy, and would love to see him ace one there, but my Nostradamus-like instincts tell me otherwise.

We Witness The KJ Choi Show:
Yeah, that’s right.  I said it.

Who Won’t Make the Cut?:
Paddy’s been struggling of late, but I think he will stay in the mix.  I’m gonna go with Bubba Watson.  He has the game, but I just don’t think he can play well two weeks in a row.  He will probably win the tourney now.

Best Finish Scenario:
Tiger and Kenny tied going into 17 on Sunday.  Kenny sticks it close and Tiger aces it.  Kenny birdies 18, Tiger pars, and Tiger beats him in a playoff.  Everyone goes home happy, and we get a lot of video of Kenny’s daughter in the crowd.

Still got game, but does he have the balls?

Still got game, but does he have the balls?

In Closing, this is a tournament that favors great players.   Players have no choice but to feel the pressure.  The guys with Major Championship experience under their belt have a huge advantage.  The TPC at Sawgrass always makes for a great Sunday, though.  So grab a 6 pack, switch on CBS, and rot on the couch, you deserve it.

Can i possibly be wronger (is that a word?) than I was last time?  We shall see.


Sergio Whines About Augusta

April 13, 2009

Here at Blue Duck Sports, we try to give credit where credit is due. Earlier this week, in his preview of the Masters, Carebear had some bold predictions for the outcome of the tournament, and some choice words for Sergio Garcia. And while most of his predictions were not correct, his estimation of the Spaniard was dead on.

Here is what Carebear said earlier this week:

We all know Sergio is a little bitch, but he also is a bad putter.  He strikes the ball great, but has no confidence on the greens.  That is not a good thing at Augusta.  177th on tour in putts per round doesn’t translate well here.  He is also a mental midget (pc? mental little person), and has tendencies to carry bad shots through rounds.

These words were telling, as Sergio responded by shooting -4 in the first two rounds of the tournament and followed it up by hitting +3 and +2 on his final 2 days in tournament. So that would go to prove that Carebear was correct in saying the “has tendencies to carry bad shots through rounds”.

But, most importantly, Carebear’s estimation that Garcia “is a little bitch” was proven correct by the Spaniard after the final round. In honor of my esteemed colleague, I bring to you Sergio Garcia’s complaints about the recently completed Masters:

  • “I don’t like it”
  • “I don’t think it’s fair”
  • “It’s too tricky”
  • “Even when it’s dry, you still get mud balls in the fairway”
  • “It’s too much of a guessing game”

When asked what he thinks Augusta National should do to fix the course, he replied:

  • “I don’t care. They can do whatever they want to. It’s not my problem. I just come here and play and then go home.”

Here’s the video showing his tantrum about one of the most heralded golf courses in the world:

So to Carebear, congratulations. You were dead-on in your assessment of Sergio Garcia’s game and his character. He indeed is a “little bitch” and doesn’t have the mental toughness to hang with the big boys.

And to Sergio, I offer you this advice: If you are going to complain about a world-renowned golf course, please offer a single suggestion as to how to improve it for your highness. How can you piss and moan about Augusta National and then have no response when asked how you would improve it? Man up!

Special thanks to our man, Paddy Harrington, for following up the cry-baby’s comments by praising how fantastic the course was. And then, Harrington added the icing on the cake by saying, “I like it when it’s difficult, but obviously it wasn’t difficult this week. It was as easy as it’s ever going to be.”

So to Mr. “I-just-come-here-and-play-and-then-go-home”, Sergio please, take your binky and go home. This is the big time, if you can’t hang, get out now!


El Pato Azul Congratulates El Pato

April 12, 2009
The sweet swingin big Argentinian earned a big green jacket

The BlueDuck congratulates the big Argentinian duck on his Masters victory in an absolute chokefest today.  Angel, light one up, you deserve it.