Sunday, July 19, 2009

Watson Sunk by Cink

Steady Stewart Cink made a clutch birdie on the 72nd hole of the Open Championship and then benefited from Tom Watson’s troubles in the four-hold playoff to win the claret jug. Watson’s potential Cinderella story ended twice – first when he bogeyed the final hole in regulation play by missing an eight-foot putt that put him in a tie with Cink and then when he double bogeyed the third playoff hole after he hit his drive left into the alfalfa and was unable to chop it out to fairway. But it was a heroic effort by Watson, who was seeking his sixth British Open victory and ninth major title overall. Meanwhile, Royal and Ancient officials were keeping sharp objects away from Lee Westwood, who three-putted the final hole to miss joining Cink and Watson in the playoff by one shot.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Ray Barr Jr.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Watson Storms Scotland

What is it about the Open Championship that brings out the best in the graybeards? Last year, former champion Greg Norman, then 53, held the third round lead. This year, five-time champion Tom Watson, 59, finds himself at the top of the leader board after three rounds at Turnberry. If that isn’t enough to stir memories, Turnberry was the site of Watson’s victory over Jack Nicklaus in the famous “Duel in the Sun” in 1977. Wow. If Watson can somehow manage to hold off the kids, he would become the oldest major champion since Julius Boros, who was 48 when he won the 1968 PGA Championship. Here’s hoping that Watson can bring home another claret jug.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Phil Rodgers.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ji Wins; Bivens Ousted

This was not a good week for LPGA. First, the players staged a palace coup and ousted Commissioner Carolyn Bivens. Second, a Korean, Eun Hee Ji, won the U.S. Women’s Open. The two events may not be related but they underscored what is wrong with women’s golf. During her tenure as LPGA Commissioner, Bivens saw the tour lose a number of events and sponsors. The future of the LPGA is shaky at best and the new commissioner will have a very tough go of it. Bivens recognized that one problem the tour faces is the predominance of Korean players on the leaderboard week after week. Her solution was to require all players to learn English, an idea designed in theory to help the fans connect with the heavily foreign contingent on the tour. But it was viewed as heavy handed and backfired. As for the U.S. Women’s Open, all credit goes to Ji who holed a birdie putt on the 72nd hole to win the tournament. American Christie Kerr collapsed in the final round punctuated by a horrible three-putt. Trust me, none of Mr. Fairway’s male friends are going to tune into see a bunch of Korean automatons win LPGA tournaments.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Nancy Scranton.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

More From the AT&T

I love to watch Jim Furyk with his funky swing. He certainly is one of the best players on the PGA Tour. But watching him putt is unbearable. At last week’s AT&T National, I saw Furyk on several greens and to say he is methodical is an understatement. He has this routine where, after looking at the line and making some practice strokes, he addresses the putt and just when you think he is ready to go, he backs away and lines everything up all over again. Godalmighty, Jim, step up and hit it. No wonder the pros get hammered for slow play.

The best shot I saw last week came on the 10th hole, a 210-yard par three over water. With the pin cut on the right rear of a very undulating green, Anthony Kim hit his ball about pin high, a good 50 feet left of the hole. From where he was, Kim would have had to putt up a hill very close to the edge of the green to get the ball close to the hole. So Kim took out either his sand wedge or lob wedge and hit a little pitch shot off the green, over the mound near the fringe and down to the hole where it checked and stopped a foot away. Tap in par. My buddy and I looked at each and agreed the kid can play.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Scott Simpson.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Tiger Wins Again

Tiger Woods won his tournament Sunday, outlasting Hunter Mahan and defending champion Anthony Kim who faltered down the stretch. (Mrs. Fairway thought Tiger winning his own event was a conflict of interest.) Tiger’s victory at the AT&T National Presented by Tiger Woods (as the CBS promos said), makes it a hat trick this year for victories in tournaments hosted by golf greats. Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill and The Memorial, hosted by Jack Nicklaus. Woods made crucial putts when he need them and watched as Kim, his fellow competitor in the final group, missed twice from inside 10 feet. No question that Woods will be the favorite heading into the British Open at Turnberry in two weeks. Mr. Fairway had the pleasure of attending the Thursday round and saw Tiger hole a 50-foot putt for birdie on the second hole. Stay tuned for more tournament notes.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Bob Lohr.