Weekend Wrap – FedEx Cup Playoff Round One

TPC Four Seasons 18th Green

PGA Tour
FedEx Cup Playoffs Round One
The Barclays
Ridgewood Country Club, Paramus, NJ

With his fantastic play over the last several weeks Rory McIlory had climbed to #1 in the FedEx Cup points race. But the “playoffs” were designed to be more volatile and exciting, giving just about any player in the field a chance to get hot and win the $10,000,000 first prize. That volatility came into play in round one.

During the final round there were as many as six players who had the lead, or part of it. Hunter Mahan emerged from the pack, firing a calm and collected 65 to clear himself of the pack by two shots. Three tied for 2nd place: Stuart Appleby, Cameron Triangle and Jason Day.

With the win and the 2,500 FedEx Cup points, Mahan overtook McIlory for first place in the FedEx Cup race with a 776 point lead. Mahan collected a check for $1.44 million and a fine trophy, however in the moments following the tournament the trophy was broken. As long as the $1.44 million check clears, I suspect the broken trophy will not be an issue.

Perhaps the most entertaining part of the tournament was when Phil Mickelson found the grandstand on the fifth hole Friday. Tables and chairs were cleared and he played his next shot off of the astroturf in the grandstand. The next day Mickelson made the same mistake again, and once again found the grandstands. Markings on the ground were painted in white saying “Phil was here,” and “…and here too.”

Following Mahan’s win he became an instant point of discussion regarding the upcoming Ryder Cup. WIth the win many feel he should be one of Tom Watson’s captain’s picks. Perhaps those bandwagon jumpers have forgotten Mahan’s performance in the 2010 Ryder Cup, where his poor play at the end of his match secured the win for the european Ryder Cup team.

Canadian Women’s Open
London Hunt GC
London, Ontario Canada

24-year-old So Yeon Ryu claimed the women’s canadian open fired a final round 3-under 69 to finish at 23 under par, breaking the tournament record relative to par by five strokes. She wanted to break the tour record of 27 shots, held by Annika Sorenstam but fell short.

Ryu outpaced fellow South Korean Na Yeon Choi, who finished two shots back and Inbee Park who finished three shots back.

With the victory Ryu will crack into the top ten in the world, likely at the 9th position.

Weekend Wrap

HPBNC_2011_SU_067PGA Tour
Wyndham Championship
Sedgefield Country Club
Greensboro, North Carolina

This time of year on the PGA Tour is huge for the players on the Tour’s “bubble.” The bubble meaning the breakpoint for qualification in the FedEx Cup as well as breaking into the top 125, 150, or top 200. Each level (125,150, 200) has significant meaning for the players in those areas. Top 125 means an unconditional Tour card for the next season. Top 150 means conditional status, top 200 means avoiding having to qualify for the Web.com Tour.

The pressure of this event and the numbers above was too great for many players to overcome. Players like Heath Slocum, Jason Allred, and Brad Fritsch missed the opporunity and will have to compete in the Web.com Tour finals to qualify for the big Tour. Players like Kevin Foley who finished 201 or above, have no guarantee at all and will have to head back to the Web.com Tour Q-School.

One player who shined, while pumping his amazing muscular arms, was Camilo Villegas. Villegas has been quiet since his last win in 2010 at the McGladrey Classic. Villegas started and ended the tournament with rounds of 63, while filling the space between with rounds of 69 and 68 for a one shot victory over Bill Haas.

With the wind Villegas renews many opportunities which present themselves to Tour winners, along with a big check of $954,000 to renew the bank account.

Wegmans LPGA Championship
Pittsford, New York

Inbee park came into the Wegmans as the reigning champion and will retain that status for at least another year until the event is again contested in 2015. That win came after her par putt dropped on the first playoff hole, defeating opponent Brittany Lncicome.

After 38 years in Rochester, the event will be moving to Westchester Country Club in 2015.

Champions Tour
Dick’s Sporting Goods Open
Endicott, New York

Until further notice, mark down Bernhard Langer as the winner of whatever current Champions Tour event is being contested.

Langer rallied from behind to win his fifth Champions Tour event of the year, playing the entire event without making a single bogey. Langer outpaced Mark O’Meara and Woody Austin.

The biggest news of the week was the Friday score of Kevin Sutherland, who despite making bogey on the final hole, carded a Champions Tour record 59.

PGA Championship Weekend Wrap

TPC Four Seasons 18th Green

PGA Championship
Valhalla Golf Club
Louisville, Kentucky

The golf season’s final professional major was anything but disappointing this year. The leaderboard was full of the biggest names in the business, all of whom were trading punches like heavyweight fighters. Nobody seemed to want to go down.

Rory McIlory came into the event as the newly crowned #1 golfer in the world an fress off of two consecutive victories in the Open Championship and the WGC Bridgestone Invitational. McIlroy started out where he left off at the Bridgestone, with a first round 65 and one shot off the lead. McIlory’s impressive ball striking kept him at or near the lead until the final round, where he brought in a one stroke advantage.

Most thought McIlroy would cruise to victory, but he made it interesting with some stagnant play and and two early bogeys on the 3rd and 6th holes. Soon he found himself two strokes behind the very hot playing Rickie Fowler and surging Phil Mickelson. 2103 FedEx Cup champion Henrik Stenson also tied for the lead late into the final round.

On the par-5 10th hole McIlory had to play a little more aggressively to make up the deficit. From 285 yards McIlory missed his shot and watched in disappointment. But the ball ran hard and right up the hill and released to a mere seven feet from the hole. He would make the putt for eagle, erasing the two early bogeys in one stroke.

Late bogeys would hurt Mickelson and Fowler’s chances, combined with two additional birdies for McIlory on holes 13 and 17. As darkness ascended due to play starting late because of early rain, McIlory brought a two shot lead into the final par-5 18th hole. Making par, even in darkness, was easy for McIlory, who drained a 14 inch par putt to capture his 2nd PGA Championship and 4th major championship at the age of 25.

Only two players have reached four major championships quicker than Rory McIlory: Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus.

Rare air.  Bright future.

PGA Championship Preview

The 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla begins today.  Viewing options are posted below.  Interesting stories to follow this week include most of the big names in golf.

Tiger Woods arrived late yesterday for a nine hole practice round and is in the field, despite withdrawing from last week’s Bridgestone Invitational due to back injury.

Rory McIlory brings his new #1 ranking into the season’s last major championship, and is the hottest golfer on the planet right now.

Having moved up to a world ranking of #3 due to great play this season, many pundits are predicting that Sergio Garcia will break through and capture his first career major championship.

Dustin Johnson is out of the competition following a withdrawal from the game of golf due to “personal issues.” Most golf publications have written that this is a self imposed suspension due to testing positive for drug use.

The tournament committee has brought back the PGA Championship “long drive” competition which Jack Nicklaus won 50 years ago with a 341 yard drive.  This year’s winner was Louis Oosthuizen with a drive one yard shorter than Jack’s was 50 years ago.  Bubba Watson did not participate in the long drive competition.

2014 PGA Championship TV Schedule

Thursday, Aug 07 TNT 1:00 PM - 7:00 PM ET
Friday, Aug 08 TNT 1:00 PM - 7:00 PM ET
Saturday, Aug 09 TNT 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM ET
Saturday, Aug 09 CBS 2:00 PM - 7:00 PM ET
Sunday, Aug 10 TNT 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM ET
Sunday, Aug 10 CBS 2:00 PM - 7:00 PM ET

From DirecTV

DIRECTV’s bonus coverage of major golf events concludes this year with the PGA Championship Experience, featuring professional golf’s last major, unfolding at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky. Aug. 7-10.

Teaming up with TNT and CBS, DIRECTV will offer golf action on its exclusive four-screen Mix Channel, and alongside, access to an interactive menu of apps for an instant view of player stats, bios, scorecards and tee times.

The PGA Championship Experience Mix Channel (701) includes: the main TNT/CBS broadcast (702); Featured Group One (703); Featured Group Two (704) and Featured Hole(705). Any four channels on the Mix can be tuned to full-screen. The live coverage schedule is: 1 p.m. to 7p.m. EDT Thursday and Friday on TNT; On Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. EDT on TNT and 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on CBS; and on Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. EDT on TNT, and 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. EDT on CBS.

Viewers who want more in-depth information on players and pairings can select the red button on their remote to bring up the following list of interactive features alongside the broadcast video: Player Scorecard offers key bioinfo, player headshots, scores and stats; Player Bio provides player biographies and their scorecards, and fans can add a player to their favorites list; Pairings and Tee Times displays all groups and tee times for the current round.

DIRECTV’s Mix Channel, interactive coverage includes all four of professional golf’s major tournaments along with select PGA tournaments this year. For more information visit: http://www.directv.com/sports/golf

Weekend Wrap

TPC Four Seasons 18th Green

PGA Tour
WGC Bridgestone Invitational
Firestone CC
Akron, OH

One of the hottest golfers in the world (with respect to his playing) is Sergio Garcia. Garcia has been threatening and placing extremely high on leaderboards all season. The hottest round of the weekend at the World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invittational was penned by Garcia, a 61 in the 2nd round.

Garcia took the lead into Sunday and would be guaranteed a win with a solid final round. One problem. The only golfer in the world on a hotter streak than garcia was in the field as well. That golfer would be Rory McIlory.

Paired in the final grouping for Sunday’s final round, Garcia and McIlory produced a classic shootout. It became clear early in the front nine that the player with the bigger gun was McIlory, who carded five birdies in his first six holes. McIlory would take the lead with a few lead ties through the middle of the round. Toward the final few holes, McIlory’s firepower was too much for Garcia or the rest of the field. His final round 66 vaulted him past Garcia for his 2nd win in as many starts.

So much for Open Championship hangover.

With the win McIlory overtook Adam Scott as the #1 ranked golfer in the world and will be the prohibitive favorite coming into this week’s PGA Championship. Current odds are 5/1 for McIlory.

Champions Tour
3M Championship
TPC Twin Cities
Blaine, MN

TPC Twin Cities was brought to its knees this past weekend by the PGA Tour’s 50 and over crowd. Five players would reach 20-under-par or beyond. The winning figure coming in at a scorching 23-under-par.

The hottest player on the Champions Tour is German Bernhard Langer right now. Langer started out the 3M Championship continuing his trend with a fantastic round of 8-under 64. Several 64’s and a 63 by Marco Dawson.

Two 63’s would be carded on Saturday’s 2nd round, one by John Cook and one by eventual winner Kenny Perry. Perry’s three rounds of 65-63-65 were enough to hold off the hot Langer by one shot, a total of -23.
Random Champions Tour stat of the week: The leader in driving distance for the week at TPC Twin cities was Marco Dawson at 296.8.

Weekend Wrap

TPC Four Seasons 18th Green

International Crown
Caves Valley Golf Club
Mills, Maryland

The new International Cup for the ladies is a Ryder Cup flavored event pitting international teams against each other. Points are scored in match play matches at two points for a win and one for a tie. The event is the first of its kind, a biennial competition featuring four-player teams from eight countries: USA, Spain, Sweden, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Australia.

The winner of the inaugural event was team Spain with a total of 15 points. Sweden came in a distant second place with 11 points. The USA team came in 3rd from last with only six points.

Champions Tour
Senior Open
Royal Porthcawl, Wales

German Bernhard Langer’s golf game is like a finely crafted German vehicle. His game is high performance, consistent, stylish, and can be downright explosive.

Langer brought that German golf engineering to the Senior British Open at Royal Porthcawl and lapped the field like the competitors were driving 1975 Ford Pintos.

Langer’s final margin of victory was 13 shots, the 2nd place finisher being Colin Montgomerie. That 13 shots is a new Champions Tour record, breaking the old margin of victory record of 12 strokes which was held by Hale Irwin from the Senior PGA Championship in 1997.

PGA Tour
Canadian Open
Royal Montreal Golf Club
Montreal, Canada

Jim Furyk looked to take his 3rd Canadian Open title as he came into the final round holding a three shot lead. As scoring was low, Furyk knew he couldn’t stand pat and that he would have to shoot 3-4 under par to secure the victory.

He didn’t.

South African Tim Clark came on strong in the final round, making birdie on five of the last eight holes. Clark’s back nine 30 and final round total of 65 overtook Furyk and secured a one shot victory.

Weekend Wrap – Open Championship

royalbirkdaleOpen Championship
Royal Liverpool
Hoylake, England

What a fantastic weekend of golf at Hoylake, also known as Royal Liverpool. Hoylake was the scene of the famous 2006 Open win for Tiger Woods.

Woods was one of the many stories coming into the event. Would he be as ready to compete as he said, following a return from back surgery? When asked by the media about his chances before the tournament he said he was there to win. But realistically, making the cut was a more reasonable goal. Woods did make the cut on the number, by making birdie on the final hole Friday.

By the end of Friday though, Woods was 12 shots behind the leader and would never be a threat the rest of the weekend.

Rory McIlory started the tournament with a fantastic 6-under round of 66 to lead the tournament after the first round. One of the most difficult things to do in golf is follow up a low round with another, but that is just what he did. A 2nd round 66 put McIlory at 12-under and firmly in command of the tournament.

McIlory’s lead varied, but for the most part was 4-6 shots for the bulk of the tournament, blowing up to seven at one point. Sergio Garcia put some pressure on McIlory during the final round, but McIlroy’s lead was too be for anyone to overcome.

McIlory’s ball striking and putting were quite impressive, leading to a wire-to-wire win.

With the win McIlory has moved to #2 in the world golf rankings. More importantly, he captured the Claret Jug and the 3rd leg of the four major championships. He’s one Masters win away from achieving the rare “grand slam,” owning all four major championships.

Ways to Watch the British Open

royalbirkdaleIf you are a night owl and love golf, this week is for you.  It is Open Championship week at Royal Birkdale.  Some know the Open Championship as the British Open.  If you’re not an night owl, your DVR technology is your friend.

Phil Mickelson is the defending champion, having won an unexpected Open Championship last year, along with the Scottish Open in 2013.

There are several ways to watch the broadcasts from across the pond.  ESPN is the carrier here in the USA, with coverage starting at 4:00 a.m Eastern Time Thursday and Friday, 7 a.m. Saturday and 6 a.m. Sunday.  See below.

JULY 17 First Round 4 a.m. – 3 p.m. — ESPN
JULY 18 Second Round 4 a.m. – 3 p.m. — ESPN
JULY 19 Third Round 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. — ESPN
JULY 20 Final Round 6 a.m. – 3 p.m. — ESPN

Live hole by hole coverage is also available on “Watch ESPN,” which is a subscription service for browsers or mobile devices.  Depending on your current television subscription package, you may be able to watch for free.  The Watch ESPN app is covering every shot of Tiger Woods through the entire 2014 Open Championship.

The Open website, at TheOpen.com, has all sorts of information, leaderboards, and even a live radio broadcast of the tournament as well.

Weekend Wrap

royalbirkdalePGA Tour
John Deere Classic
TPC Deere Run
Silvis, Illinois

This season on the PGA Tour has been very interesting in terms of how even the fields have been. There have been numerous first-time winners, a breakneck pace. Once again, the Tour produced a first-timer, this week at the John Deere.

This week’s first-time winner is the 27-year-old Brian Harman. Harman’s first victory came by holding off the very hot playing Zach Johnson. Harman’s final round 5-under 66 was enough to edge the veteran Johnson.

With the win many doors are opened up for the 27-year-old, not the least of which is the door to the bank with a winner’s check of $846,000. In addition to the cash Harman claimed the last exemption into this week’s British Open as well as invites to the Masters and the Tournament of Champions.

A good week.

European Tour
Scottish Open
Aberdeen, Scotland

Who is the hottest player on the planet right now? One might argue that distinction belongs to Justin Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open champion. Rose claimed a victory last week at the Quicken Loans National at congressional. This week Rose displayed his links golf skills for a Scottish crowd, claiming the Scottish Open.

Last year’s Scottish Open winner was Phill Mickelson, who then carried that momentum into the British Open, claiming his first Claret Jug. Can Rose carry that same momentum? If so, he would have won his third event in as many weeks.

Women’s British Open
Royal Birkdale
Southport, England

Those watching the final round of the Women’s British Open were treated to an incredible golf shot on the last hole. Mo Martin was 240 out with a 3-wood in her hand at Royal Birkdale.  The shot was so pure and so on-line that hit ended up hitting the flagstick and nearly dropping for a double eagle.

“An absolutely perfect 3-wood.  When it was in the air, I said, `Sit.’ And then I said, `Stop.’ And then when it was going toward the hole, I said, `OK, I don’t have anything more to say to that ball.’ I actually heard it hit the pin. It’s definitely one to remember.” ~Mo Martin

The ball settled to six feet, where Martin would drain the eagle put, securing a one-shot victory for her first major win.

Phil Mickelson’s Short Game on Display at Scottish Open

How fun is this?  We all know how great Phil Mickelson’s short game is and now we get to see a little comparison between him and many PGA Tour and European Tour players at the Scottish Open.  Check the video below, the Mickelson challenge.  In the video tour pros like Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlory hit flop shots over a cardboard cutout of Mickelson.

Keep in mind that the ground they are hitting off of is very hard.  Most amateur golfers from the USA could blade these shots because of the bounce of the golf club.

There are some other great Phil short game happenings this week already.  During a practice round Mickelson hit a flop shot over his own head, backwards.  He also made par off of a road.

If you get the chance, watch some of the Scottish Open this weekend.  It is quite entertaining.