Thursday, June 18, 2009

Woods, Mickelson pairing at U.S. Open? Kodak golf shots worth $1 million, casting drill

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What do Tiger Woods, Padraig Harrington and Angel Cabrera all have in common? Aside from major victories in 2008, all three will be grouped together during the first two rounds of the 109th U.S. Open.

This was a smart pairing by tournament officials as each has a story to tell.

Tiger Woods is not only the defending champion (holding off Rocco Mediate and a bum knee) but also held on to victory (and a score of par) in 2002 at Bethpage with Phil Mickelson on his tail. With fourteen majors under his belt, a fresh win at the Memorial and a great family behind him "I couldn’t be happier than where I am right now", Woods is ready to tackle Jack Nicklaus' record.

"It's five to pass him, four to tie him," Woods said. "I'm healthy enough where I think I can give it a go."

Harrington is one of the odds favorites this year (+2500 for a payout potential of US$2500 on every US$100 bet at SBG Global.) Paddy should be as he has won the past two British Open Championships as well as last year's PGA Championship. Sure, Padraig may be a bit stale coming out of the gate (his best finish this year on the PGA Tour is a tie for 11th) for but make no mistake; when the chips are down, Harrington goes into champion mode.

Cabrera has made five cuts this year on the PGA Tour but his crowning achievement for 2009 has to be victory at the Masters. Going for an Angel-slam, Cabrera should think back to his 2007 US Open win (his first in the U.S.) where he bombed drives and putted with aplomb in spite of hitting only five fairways in the final round to beat Woods and Furyk.

Where does Phil Mickelson fit into the U.S. Open fervor? Paired with golfers equally qualified to get the job done (Goosen and Els) he has taken second place in the Open four times, with three of those battles taking place at Bethpage. Always a bridesmaid? This could be the year for FIGJAM's vindication on the Black Course.

Will any of the golfers read the warning before stepping out onto the first tee? Will being a "highly skilled golfer" be enough this week to escape the treacherous conditions at Bethpage? Tiger Woods' belief that the Black is "as big as they come" and a course where "you have to hit the ball well all week." will certainly come in handy.

Tweeting from the golf course is not permitted however there should be plenty of fist pumps.

Bethpage Black warning

Golf for Beginners also discusses the odds of the only male contestant remaining on the Big Break and offers a golf drill from Rick Smith for those who fish better than they golf. We also wonder if Chris DiMarco can hold on to his lead at the $1 million Kodak Challenge?

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