Weekend Preview

lydiakoLPGA TOUR
Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic
Dates: April 23-26
Venue: Lake Merced Golf Club, San Francisco, Calif.

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 6-9 p.m. (Live)
Friday 6-9 p.m. (Live)
Saturday 6-9 p.m. (Live)
Sunday 6-9 p.m. (Live)

Teen phenom and world #1 Lydia Ko is the defending champion this week at the Swinging Skirts Classic in San Francisco, California. Last year Ko edged out current world #3 Stacy Lewis for her third win on the LPGA Tour.

Headlining the field: Lydia Ko, Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis, Hyo Joo Kim, Shanshan Feng, Brittany Lincicome, So Yeon Ryu, Suzann Pettersen, Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson.

dustinjohnsonPGA TOUR
Zurich Classic of New Orleans
Dates: April 23-26
Venue: TPC Louisiana, Avondale, La.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)
Friday 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday 1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 10 p.m.-2:30 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday 1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 10 p.m.-2:30 a.m. (Replay)

Two of the biggest hitters in the game are in action this week at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Dustin Johnson and Jason Day bring their firepower to TPC Louisiana, Avondale. Johnson is one of the hottest players on tour at this point in the season having already made it into the winner’s circle and placed high in several events. Day on the other hand is coming off a Masters Tournament in which he underperformed as compared to the expectations of many, including himself.

Seung-Yul Noh (pronounced “soon you’ll know”) is the defending champion this week, having outpaced Robert Streb and Andrew Svoboda last year by two shots for his forst PGA Tour victory.

Headlining the field: Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Justin Rose, Billy Horschel, Steve Stricker, Rickie Fowler, Keegan Bradley, Erik Compton, Justin Thomas and Jamie Donaldson.

CHAMPIONS TOUR
Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge
Dates: April 24-26
Venue: Buffalo Ridge (Springs Course); Top of the Rock, Ridgedale, Mo.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday Noon-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 1-3 a.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 3:30-6 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 3:30-6 a.m. (Monday replay)

This week marks a great opportunity to watch two of the game’s biggest legends, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus. Player and Nicklaus are paired together as a two-man team in the Legends division of this two-man team tournament..

The Legends division is a 45-hole version of the event while the Champions division is a 54-hole version. The format is better-ball with nine holes each of alternate shot and better-ball.

The team of Fred Funk and Jeff Sluman are the defending champions.

Champions Division Teams: Andy North/Tom Watson, Jeff Sluman/Tom Lehman, Peter Jacobsen/D.A. Weibring, Brad Bryant/Bart Bryant, John Cook/Joey Sindelar, Ben Crenshaw/Jerry Pate, Fred Funk/Eduardo Romero, Sandy Lyle/Ian Woosnam, Lee Janzen/Rocco Mediate, Corey Pavin/Duffy Waldorf, Olin Browne/Steve Pate.
Legends Division Teams: Jack Nicklaus/Gary Player, David Graham/Tony Jacklin, Chi Chi Rodriguez/Bob Murphy, Mike Hill/Lee Trevino.

EUROPEAN TOUR
Volvo China Open
Dates: April 22-26
Venue: Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club, Shanghai, China

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Wednesday 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Live)
Thursday 2:30 a.m.-5:30 a.m. (Live) / 9 a.m.-2 p.m. (Replay)
Friday 12:30-2:30 a.m. (Tape delay) / 2:30-5:30 a.m. (Live) / 9 a.m.-Noon (Replay)
Saturday 6-10 a.m. (Tape delay)
Sunday 6-10 a.m. (Tape delay)

Alexander Levy won the Volvo China Open last year by four strokes and is the defending champion. The victory was Levy’s first on the European Tour.

Headlining the field: Peter Uihlein, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Mikko Ilonen, Tommy Fleetwood, Alexander Levy, Ross Fisher, Alex Noren, Gary Stal, Matteo Manassero and Oliver Wilson.

Weekend Wrap

TPC Four Seasons 18th Green

PGA TOUR
RBC Heritage
Dates: April 16-19
Venue: Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head Island, S.C.

This week on the PGA Tour the biggest story was not the eventual tournament champion. No sir. The new Masters Champion Jordan Spieth was in the field following a whirlwind several days including tours to New York City and appearances on several television shows like David Letterman.

It was no wonder after such a crazy week that Spieth was not able to play well or focus on Thursday, blowing up with a round of 74 and looking like missing the cut was a possibility. The 74 apparently woke Spieth and his pride up, as he scorched the course on Friday with a second round 62. In the end after nearly missing the cut, Spieth ended up in contention but falling short of a two-man playoff between Kevin Kisner and Jim Furyk.

Furyk made birdie on the par-3 17th, the 2nd playoff hole to record a welcome victory. After the win Furyk mentioned he’d forgotten how good it feels to win.

LPGA TOUR
LOTTE Championship
Dates: April 15-18
Venue: Ko Olina Golf Club, Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii

The finish in the LOTTE Championship could go down as the most amazing finish of 2015, sight unseen for the rest of the LPGA Tour season.

It looked like Inbee Park had the victory in the bag when contender Sei Young Kim’s ball found the water on her final hole. But it is never over until it is over.

Kim miraculously chipped-in for par, forcing a playoff with Park. Then it got even crazier.

On the first playoff hole, Kim hit an 8-iron from 154 yards for her approach. The ball flew in the hole for eagle, ending the playoff in two strokes.

CHAMPIONS TOUR
Greater Gwinnett Championship
Dates: April 17-19
Venue: TPC Sugarloaf, Duluth, Ga.

At the end of the 2nd round Saturday at the Greater Gwinnett Championship no competitors realized they’d played their last shots of the tournament.

Heavy rains cut the tournament short, cancelling the final round. The shortened event trophy went to 2nd round leader Olin Browne, his first Champions Tour win in four years.

EUROPEAN TOUR
Shenzhen International
Dates: April 16-19
Venue: Genzon Golf Club (A Course), Shenzhen, China

The inaugural Shenzen International tournament kicked off with some great excitement. At the end of regulation Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Chinese teenager Li Hao-Tong were tied.

Aphibarnrat made the home crowd a little irritated, knocking the local boy out in the playoff.

Weekend Preview

Jordan_SpiethPGA TOUR
RBC Heritage
Dates: April 16-19
Venue: Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-2 a.m. (Replay)
Friday 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-2 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday 1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-3:30 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday 1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 7-11:30 p.m. (Replay)

Typically players who won major championships take the following week or weeks off to rest their bodies and their minds. In uncommon fashion, newly green jacketed Jordan Spieth is not taking the week off following a major victory. Instead Spieth is paying back the RBC Heritage tournament for being good to him early in his career.

Nice gesture.

Naturally the 2015 Masters champion Spieth will be the favorite to win, having just won the Masters and moved up to number two in the world rankings behind Rory McIlory.

RBC Heritage’s 2014 champion Matt Kuchar is in the field. Kuchar narrowly defeated Luke Donald by one stroke at the 2014 event.

Other notables in the field: Patrick Reed, Jim Furyk, Billy Horschel, Ernie Els, Bill Haas, Zach Johnson, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen, and Ian Poulter.

LPGA TOUR
LOTTE Championship
Dates: April 15-18
Venue: Ko Olina Golf Club, Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Wednesday 7-11 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-3 a.m. (Replay)
Thursday 7-11 p.m. (Live) / 2 a.m.-6 a.m. (Friday replay)
Friday 7-11 p.m. (Live) / 4:30-6 a.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday 7-11 p.m. (Live)

The LPGA Tour tees it up in paradise in Oahu, Hawaii at the LOTTE Championship. This event’s schedule is slightly different than a typical LPGA Tour event, airing from Wednesday to Saturday this week.

Michelle Wie is the defending champion, having outlasted Angela Stanford by two shots in the 2014 event. The 2014 LOTTE Championship was Wie’s 3rd LPGA Tour win.

Headlining the field: Inbee Park, Michelle Wie, So Yeon Ryu, Na Yeon Choi, Suzann Pettersen, Shanshan Feng, Brittany Lincicome, Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer and Cheyenne Woods.

CHAMPIONS TOUR
Greater Gwinnett Championship
Dates: April 17-19
Venue: TPC Sugarloaf, Duluth, Ga.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday Noon-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 2-4:30 a.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 3:30-6 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 12:30-3 a.m. (Monday replay)

The over-50 tour is in Duluth, Georgia at the Greater Gwinnet Championship. One of golf’s most interesting personalities is teeing it up this week, Miguel Angel Jimenez. Jimenez is the returning champion, having held off Bernhard Langer. Jimenez’s two shot victory last year was the first of his Champions Tour career.

Headlining the field: Miguel Angel Jimenez, Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Jesper Parnevik, Mark O’Meara, Corey Pavin, Peter Jacobsen, Jay Haas, Lee Janzen and Andy North.

EUROPEAN TOUR
Shenzhen International
Dates: April 16-19
Venue: Genzon Golf Club (A Course), Shenzhen, China

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 6-10 a.m. (Tape delay)
Friday 6-10 a.m. (Tape delay)
Saturday 6-10 a.m. (Tape delay)
Sunday 6-10 a.m. (Tape delay)

This week’s European Tour event features big hitting Bubba Watson. Watson was not able to successfully defend his 2014 Masters title last week, but is always good for some amazing shots and super-long drives.

This week is the inauguration of the Shenzhen International event.

Headlining the field: Bubba Watson, Peter Uihlein, Alexander Levy, Ross Fisher, Tommy Fleetwood, Peter Hanson, Matteo Manassero, Alex Noren, Gary Stal and Andy Sullivan.

Masters Wrap

Jordan SpiethMasters Tournament
Augusta National Golf Club
Augusta Georgia

What a Masters tournament it was, yet again.  Year after year the Masters is always exciting and this year’s certainly was.  The fact that the tournament is held in the same, amazing place every year certainly is a big factor.  Fans are very familiar with the holes, like 11-12-13 a.k.a. Amen Corner.  The venue, Augusta National Golf Club is designed so well that it produces opportunities for great shots and low scores, but does penalize poor shots or bad strategy.

From the first round the biggest story of the 2015 Masters was the play of 21-year-old Jordan Spieth.  Spieth’s first round was close to an all-time major championship and Masters record.  Standing on the easy par-5 15th tee Spieth was sitting at -8.   A birdie on the easy par-5 and pars the rest of the way would mean Spieth would tie the record lowest score in a major at 63.  The 2nd shot was a miss-club though, and he went over the green and eventually made bogey.  A final birdie on the 18th hole put Spieth back at -8, 64 and three shots ahead of the nearest competitors.

Other great rounds on Thursday included 67’s by Charlie Hoffman, Justin Rose, Jason Day, and Ernie Els.

Tiger Woods was shaking off the rust and had a decent showing with a first round 73.

Jordan Spieth continued the great play in round two with a brilliant round of 66.  The 64-66 scores marked a Masters record for lowest score after 36 holes.  Woods improved in round two with a round of 69, bringing him to red numbers (under par) for the tournament.

Several notable players missed the cut at the end of play Friday including Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer, Billy Horschel, J.B. Holmes, Brand Snedeker, Jim Furyk, and Gary Woodland.

The biggest story of Friday however, was the final Masters round ever for Ben Crenshaw, his 44th appearance.

Saturday’s “moving day” round was very interesting and thrilling.  Woods surged, Spieth struggled at the end of the round, and players like Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose vaulted up the leader board with rounds of 67.

Spieth made a tough double bogey on the 17th which brought the field some hope.  A solid up-and-down for par would seal a four shot lead going into Sunday.  But the couple of missed shots Spieth hit on Saturday, showing nerves, made Sunday’s round more intriguing.

At the end of play Sunday, Spieth had four shots on 2nd place player Justin Rose, and five shots over Phil Mickelson.  McIrlory and Woods finished the 3rd round at -6, some eight shots behind.  Those two were paired together on Sunday.

In the final round Spieth started great, with a solid birdie on the first, but Rose matched and added another on the 2nd to climb within three shots.  That was as close as anyone would come.  There were not Sunday charges from any of the players who had a chance, like Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson, or Charley Hoffman.  The only real charge was by Rory McIlroy who fired a Sunday low round of 66.  But McIlory and Woods were both too far behind to be factors.

In the end Spieth was solid.  No weaknesses and not much of a possibility of giving the field a chance.  Spieth tied or broke several major championship and Masters scoring records, including tying Tiger Woods’s 1997 score of -18.  Had he not missed a meaningless 10 foot par putt on the 18th, that record would be Spieth’s alone.  But that putt didn’t matter.  The 21-year-old led the tournament wire-to-wire and won in stylish, classy fashion.

With the win Spieth will move up to #2 in the world rankings, behind Rory McIlory.  The future of golf is bright with these two new rivals leading the way into golf’s next generation.

Masters Featured Groups & Online Coverage

If you haven’t yet, you should check out the Masters.com online coverage of the Masters Tournament. It is completely amazing.  There are high quality video streams of many of the coolest parts of the course and featured groups.

Amen Corner

One stream to watch is Amen Corner.  There’s a dedicated camera crew and announcers for the most famous 3-hole stretch in golf.  That would be holes 11-13 or also known as Amen Corner.  Some of the most exciting golf in the tournament happens on these holes and it can be fun to watch the groups come through.

Hole 11 is the tough 505 yard par-4 where the downhill approach can be eaten up by the water left of the green.  Hole 12 is the famous short par-3 which gives the players fits.  Hole 13 is the reachable par-5 where eagle is a possibility.

Practice Range

For those Tiger Woods fans, or fans of other tour players, who are so into their player that they’ll even watch them hit range balls, the practice range is for you.

Holes 15-16

Hole 15 is the easiest hoe on the course.  This par-5 is usually a source of excitement, where birdies and even eagles can change the complexion of the tournament.

Hole 16 at Augusta National. Photo courtesy of HookedOnGolfBlog.com

Hole 16 at Augusta National. Photo courtesy of HookedOnGolfBlog.com

Hole 16 (above) is the beautiful par-3 with water left.  The green is severely sloped right to left.  This is the location of the famous Tiger Woods chip-in in 2005.

Featured Groups

There are two video streams of featured groups.  Each stream covers the round of the featured group practically the entire round.  One of yesterday’s groups included Tiger Woods, so his fans could watch him, even before the TV broadcast came on.

Other Features

There are other features as well, like wrap-ups and video stories of the day’s action.

Masters TV and Online Coverage Including Par-3 Contest

If you missed it, check out the Frogger Masters Preview we posted a few days ago.

As you settle in this week for the Masters you can refer to the information below to know when, where, how to view various Masters coverage locations and times.

Hole 16 at Augusta National. Photo courtesy of HookedOnGolfBlog.com

Hole 16 at Augusta National. Photo courtesy of HookedOnGolfBlog.com

Online Coverage

AMEN CORNER: 10:45AM – 6:00PMEDT
MASTERS – ON THE RANGE: 11:05AM – 1:00PMEDT
HOLES. 15 AND 16: 11:45AM – 7:00PMEDT
FEATURED GROUP 11: 2:00PM – 7:30PMEDT
FEATURED GROUP 21: 2:00PM – 7:30PMEDT
MASTERS IN-DEPTH: 3:00PM – 7:30PMEDT

mp3

Par 3 Contest

Wednesday Par-3 Contest on ESPN

Live TV coverage of the Par 3 Contest from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM EDT on Wed, April 8, 2015.  Tiger Woods will be playing in the event.

ESPN Tournament Coverage

Live TV coverage of Tournament play from 3:00 PM to 7:30 PM EDT on Thurs, April 9 & Fri, April 10, 2015.

CBS Coverage

Live TV coverage of Tournament play from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT on Sat, April 11 and from 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM Sun, April 12, 2015.

CBS Sports Network

Live TV coverage of the Masters driving range show, Masters on the Range, starting Mon, April 6 at 12:00 PM and continuing through Tournament week.

Weekend Wrap

LPGA TOUR
ANA Inspiration
Dates: April 2-5
Venue: Mission Hills Country Club (Dinah Shore Tournament Course), Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Last week in the weekend preview we mentioned the historic implications involved with Lydia Ko, the 17-year-old phenom.  She had the chance to tie and/or break Annika Sorenstam’s consecutive rounds under par record, which was 29.

Ko’s first round was under par, and gave her a tie.  But amazingly, she was not able to break par for the 2nd round.  She ends up tying Sorenstam and will have to start up again.  No doubt she has the talent to break the record, but time will tell.

At the end of regulation, two players were tied for the lead in the LPGA’s first major of 2015:  Brittany Lincicome and Stacy Lewis.  What ensued in the playoff was fantastic.  Both players made par on the par-5 18th so they headed back to play it again.  Once again, pars.   On the 3rd playoff hole Lincicome once again made a par-5 but this time Lewis carded a bogey.

Hard to fathom that two LPGA professionals could play the par-5 18th three times and neither would card a birdie.

J.B. HolmesPGA TOUR
Shell Houston Open
Dates: April 2-5
Venue: Golf Club of Houston (Tournament Course), Humble, Texas

How important is driving accuracy on the PGA Tour?

Not very, apparently.

Big-hitting B.J. Holmes claimed victory at the Shell Houston Open after defeating Texan Jordan Spieth and Johnson Wagner in a playoff.

Holmes carded a final round 64 which included a front nine 29.  That 29 started off with five consecutive birdies.

Why mention the importance of driving accuracy?  Holmes is dead last on the PGA Tour in driving accuracy.

Spieth’s second place finish the week before the Masters makes him an even more favorite to win.  His odds are the only single digit odds to win the Masters other than Rory McIlory.

Weekend Preview

lydiakoLPGA TOUR
ANA Inspiration
Dates: April 2-5
Venue: Mission Hills Country Club (Dinah Shore Tournament Course), Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday Noon-3 p.m., 6-9 p.m. (Live) / 1-4 a.m. (Friday replay)
Friday Noon-3 p.m., 6-9 p.m. (Live) / 1-4 a.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday 5-9 p.m. (Live) / 1-5 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday 5-9 p.m. (Live) / 1-5 a.m. (Monday replay)

This could be a historic week on the LPGA Tour. 17-year-old Lydia Ko can break a couple of records.

First, Ko could claim here first major championship title. As well as she has been playing this season she is the prohibitive favorite to do so.

Second, Ko will be attempting to break Annika Sorenstam’s record for most rounds under par in a row on the LPGA Tour. Sorenstam’s record is 29 while Ko is currently sitting on round number 28.

Lexi Thompson is this week’s defending champion.

Headlining the field: Lydia Ko, Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis, Hyo Joo Kim, Shanshan Feng, So Yeon Ryu, Suzann Pettersen, Michelle Wie, Lexi Thompson, Cristie Kerr and Amy Yang.

Jordan_SpiethPGA TOUR
Shell Houston Open
Dates: April 2-5
Venue: Golf Club of Houston (Tournament Course), Humble, Texas

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)
Friday 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday 1-3 p.m. (Live) / 10 p.m.-1 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday 1-3 p.m. (Live) / 10 p.m.-1 a.m. (Replay)

Tournament Airtimes on NBC (Eastern):
Saturday 3-6 p.m. (Live)
Sunday 3-6 p.m. (Live)

It is Shell Houston Open week. For many that means the first heavy week of Masters discussion. The Shell Houston Open is the final tournament before the Masters, and presents the last opportunity for players who have not received their Masters invitation to get one.

36 players in this week’s field are in the Masters, using this tournament as a warmup for Augusta next week.

Matt Jones is the defending champion.

Headlining the field: Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed, Martin Kaymer, Matt Kuchar, Lee Westwood, Bill Haas and Matt Jones.

Drive, Chip & Putt Championship National Finals
Date: April 5
Venue: Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Ga.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Sunday 8-9 a.m. (Live, Pre-Game)
9 a.m.-1 p.m. (Live, Tournament Coverage)

Tournament Field: 80 boys and girls ranging from ages 7-15 years old are in the field, courtesy of local and regional qualifiers throughout the United States and Canada. The boys and girls will compete in separate divisions in four age groups: 7-9, 10-11, 12-13 and 14-15.

Masters Preview

The first major championship in golf is nearly here, the 2015 Masters Tournament.  It is the tournament most looked forward to by golfers without a doubt, marking the coming of spring and the golf season.  For many of us who have dealt with long, cold winters, it is the first truly green grass we see and gets us excited for the coming season.

Hole 16 at Augusta National. Photo courtesy of HookedOnGolfBlog.com

Hole 16 at Augusta National. Photo courtesy of HookedOnGolfBlog.com

The Course

Augusta National Golf Club is the home of the Masters Tournament.  The course was the dream of Bobby Jones and designed by Alister MacKenzie with the help of Jones. Par for the course is 72 with a total yardage of 7,435. While normal golf courses may occupy 180 acres of land, Augusta National sprawls out on 360 acres. The unofficial course rating is 78.1 and unofficial slope is 137. There are no “official” ratings for this course.

The course record of 63 is held by two players, Nick Price (1986) and Greg Norman (1996).

Par-3 6th hole - Photo courtesy of HookedOnGolfBlog.com

Playerf fixing ball marks on the par-3 6th hole – Photo courtesy of HookedOnGolfBlog.com

The golf course features extreme elevation changes, most which are not easily seen on television. The greens at Augusta are mostly small, severely sloped, and run extremely fast during the tournament. It is said that green speeds during the Masters run at around a 14 on the stimpmeter, but once again no “official” data is provided to the public. 14, for those who don’t know the rating system, is frighteningly fast.

The course features many landmark spots, often named after golfers or past presidents.  Some include the Hogan Bridge,  Sarizan Bridge, Ike’s Pond, Eisenhower Tree.

Perhaps the most famous landmark on the course is “Amen Corner,” the stretch of holes 11-13.

The Atmosphere

The Masters and its huge crowds provide an amazingly vibrant golf atmosphere. The layout of the course is great for spectators and the “roars” heard from crowds echo throughout the entire course.  A great shot on the par-3 16th and the subsequent crowd roar, can easily be heard clear up to the first tee.

Interesting Stats

The record for most wins at the Masters Tournament goes to Jack Nicklaus, with six. Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods have won the event four times.  Several players have won the tournament three times, including Nick Faldo and Phil Mickelson.

Hole 13 - Par-5 - Photo coursesy of HookedOnGolfBlog.com

Hole 13 – Par-5 – Photo coursesy of HookedOnGolfBlog.com

Returning champion Bubba Watson has won the tournament two times.  Other two-time winners include Ben Crenshaw, Ben Hogan, and Seve Ballesteros.

Players To Watch

Rory McIlory comes into the Masters as the favorite to win.  The Masters is the only major championship McIlory has not won and doing so would give him the “career grand slam.”  Long hitting left-handed players do well at Augusta, making Bubba Watson a favorite to win again, along with Phil Mickelson.  Mickelson has not had a great 2015 season, but always seems to gear his game up for the Masters.

Other favorites for the Masters include 21-year-old Jordan Spieth, who has yet to win a major.  Big-hitter Jason Day has been at the top or near the top of the leader board for several years and should be a favorite.  Adam Scott always plays well at the Masters, and does have one victory in 2013.  Dustin Johnson is back from a leave of absence and has the length and skills to contend at Augusta, if his mental strength is up to the task.

At press time Tiger Woods was still undecided as a competitor at the 2015 Masters.

UPDATE: Tiger Woods officially announced participation in the Masters Tournament, as well as the par-3 contest.

 

Weekend Wrap

Jimmy_WalkerPGA TOUR
Valero Texas Open
Dates: March 26-29
Venue: TPC San Antonio (AT&T Oaks Course), San Antonio, Texas

Quick quiz:  Who is the hottest player (translation: most wins) on the PGA Tour over the past two seasons?  Rory McIlory?  No.  Phil Mickelson? No.  Dustin Johnson?  No.  Tiger Woods? Definitely not.

The answer is last week’s winner of the Valero Texas Open, Jimmy Walker.  Walker beat fellow Texan, 21-year-old Jordan Spieth by four shots to claim the Valero Texas Open.  The tournament was contested in some very difficult conditions, especially the wind.  It is, after all, Texas.

This event marks the second win for Walker this year, the first being the Sony Open in Hawaii.  Walker won the Sony by a massive NINE shots.  Combined, Walker’s two victories in calendar 2015 are by 13 strokes, an average of 6.5.   Walker has collected the winner’s check five times over the last two seasons.

LPGA TOUR
Kia Classic
Dates: March 26-29
Venue: Park Hyatt Aviara Golf Club, Carlsbad, Calif.

It had been nearly two years since Cristie Kerr won on the LPGA Tour before the 2015 Kia Classic. Kerr relied on a fantastic final round, which included a string of four birdies on the final nine holes, to seal the deal. Kerr finished with a final round 7-under 65 to leave the nearest competitors, Lydia Ko and Mirim Lee, in the rear view mirror.

For Kerr the 2015 Kia Classic victory marks her 17th win on the LPGA Tour and her first since 2013.

CHAMPIONS TOUR
Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic presented by C Spire
Dates: March 27-29
Venue: Fallen Oak Golf Club, Biloxi, Miss.

An odd rules violation nearly cost Robert Frost a victory on the Champions Tour. When marking his ball on the 17th hole in the final round, Frost dropped his ball. The ball landed on his coin which was marking his position, causing it to move. For that Frost suffered a one-stroke penalty.

That opened the door for Tom Lehman, who could could have force a playoff had he made a four-foot birdie putt on his final hole.

Lehman failed to convert the birdie giving Frost a one-shot win.

EUROPEAN TOUR
Trophee Hassan II
Dates: March 26-29
Venue: Golf du Palais Royal, Agadir, Morocco

Despite a bogey and triple-bogey sequence of holes in the final round, Scotsman Richie Ramsay claimed a one shot victory at the Trophee Hassan II in Agadir, Morocco.