Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Las Vegas betting on Tiger Woods to win Chevron Golf Challenge

A few good showings at golf events in Australia and Tiger Woods has become the odds-on favorite to win the Chevron World Challenge this week. Las Vegas odds makers, Golf Channel and even crowdsourcing websites have the former number one golfer in the world in their sights or at single digit odds while GolfOdds.com says, "All other golfers are double digit odds."




Bodog.com confirms Tiger Woods as the 7/1 favorite with Furyk also remaining in single-digit odds...but not by much.


Although the eighteen player field includes Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Nick Watney, Bill Haas & Jason Day, it is Tiger Woods who is the focus of attention on both the Golf Channel website and on their Facebook page. Why? To play on fan emotions? What does Woods have that these other great golfers are lacking?


Would you choose four-time previous winner Tiger Woods to lift the trophy at his own event or one of these great players? 

Webb Simpson - Winner of Wyndham Championship, three second-place finishes this season and second in money leaders on PGA Tour.

Bubba Watson - Winner of Farmers Insurance Open and sixteenth in money leaders this season.

Rickie Fowler - With only one second place finish at the WGC-Bridgestone and four top-tens this season, Fowler is probably not my favorite in this competition but still a solid contender.

Nick Watney - Winner of two events on the 2011 PGA Tour schedule and third place on the list of money leaders, I hope Watney brings his "A" game.

Bill Haas - Unlikely winner of the FedEx Cup Tour Championship, the $10 million dollar winner has a 69.44 GIR and scrambling stat which are both higher than the Tour average, he could finish off the season holding the Tiger cup.

Jason Day - With no wins this season on the PGA Tour, you might think that Day is the weakest link but remember that he took second place at both the 2011 Masters and the 2011 U.S. Open, two of the toughest tests in golf.


Jeff Sherman, the founder of Las Vegas' GolfOdds.com said, "All other golfers are double digit odds. Tiger Woods' recent play also slashed his 2012 Masters odds from 12/1 to 6/1, making him the favorite ahead of Rory McIlroy at 10/1."


Although this event will benefit Tiger Woods' charity, Woods is grateful that he stayed in the top-fifty long enough to be invited! He is now "rebuilding", as he claimed, after both personal and physical injuries. A win at the Chevron, although not a major event, will be a good start to 2012.


Voice your opinion on Twitter @Golf4Beginners and friend on Facebook!


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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Yani Tseng, Karrie Webb, LPGA greats, plan ahead for HSBC Women's Champions

The HSBC Women’s Champions returns to Singapore in February, with LPGA legend Karrie Webb defending the title as the latest name in a roll of honour that is almost unrivalled in recent years. Tim Maitland talks to the stars of the women’s game to work out why the event has only ever been won by the best of the best.


Lorena Ochoa, at her most dominant, finished streets ahead of a returning Annika Sorenstam in 2008. A year later Jiyai Shin lifted the trophy at the start of her “rookie” season (she won three LPGA events as a non-member in 2008, including a Major) as part of a relentless charge that would make her the third number one in the history of the official rankings. In 2010, Ai Miyazato held the same silverware and shortly afterwards held the number one ranking, too. Then came Karrie Webb, who by the age of 25 had already qualified for the World Golf Hall of Fame and who, but for the Rolex Rankings only being introduced in 2006, was a number one in everything but name.


Has any other tournament consistently crowned such worthy champions in this time span? It’s a question that prompts plenty of head scratching.


“Maybe Kraft is one?” ponders current world number one Yani Tseng of Taiwan.


[[posterous-content:pid___1]]Yani Tseng, w/Honda LPGA Thailand trophy


“The British Open?” she asks, cracking up laughing because her main motivation for mentioning it is the fact that she’s won it the past two seasons.


Of the Majors, the Ricoh Women’s British Open might be the nearest comparison to the HSBC Women’s Champions roll of honour, with Yani winning in 2011 and 2010 while Jiyai claimed it in 2008, but 2009 champion Catriona Matthew might be the first to point out that she doesn’t quite belong in the conversation if we’re talking about the greats in the game. The same applies for Stacey Lewis and Brittany Lincicome, winners of the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2011 and 2009 respectively, in between wins for Yani (2010) and Lorena (2008). The LPGA Championship also comes close with Cristie Kerr in 2010 and Yani in 2011 and 2008, but 2009 winner Anna Nordqvist hasn’t yet thrust her name into the highest echelon.


New to Major status next year, the Evian Masters won by Ai, Jiyai and Ai in the past three years comes close, and another of the Asian Spring Swing – the Honda LPGA Thailand – also belong in the conversation, with Yani, Ai and Lorena its most recent champions.


One can talk oneself around in circles debating the argument. The certainty is that in short order the HSBC Women’s Champions has become something special.


“It’s one of the best tournaments we ever play!” is Yani’s take.


“I think the HSBC event is the biggest LPGA event in Asia!” is Jiyai Shin’s verdict.


“It’s great from when we first arrive to when we leave. We get looked after very, very well. We stay in great hotels, there’s great hospitality and we play on a great challenging golf course!” declares Karrie, who has certainly earned the right to talk about greatness.


“We’d like it like that every week,” the Queensland legend adds.


Yani, like Webb, expands on her statement by citing the overall package of the tournament week, rather than purely the golf.


“It’s a good one. They’re all the best players in the world challenging that week. It’s always very tough to win that tournament. You have to play so well to be among the great players, which is fun. It doesn’t matter what your score is; it’s always very enjoyable in Singapore, the hospitality there. And you know I love Singapore; I have so many good friends there. I always look forward to going back. I have so much fun and have so many good friends come,” says Tseng, last year’s double Major champion, seven-time winner and Player of the Year on the LPGA with 11 total wins worldwide.


Jiyai meanwhile backs up her description of the event being Asia’s best with the following explanation: “All the events are very important, but it feels like a really big tournament.  It’s a beautiful course and a nice city. The tournament is early in the season, and when you win it feels like a good start and it gives you confidence at the beginning of the season, too.”


Roll of Honour


The first sign that something unusual was happening in Singapore was, perhaps, when Ai Miyazato declared eight months after her 2010 win that it was “an honour” to have added her name to a list of winners that had only two others on it. At the time she was speaking as the reigning world number one.


Karrie Webb is the youngest member of an exclusive club of five other legends to have won the LPGA’s Career Grand Slam of Majors, joining Louise Suggs (1957), Mickey Wright (1962), Pat Bradley (1986), Juli Inkster (1999) and Annika Sorenstam (2003). Yet the Aussie is unswerving when asked whether joining the HSBC Women’s Champions roll of honour registered with her.


“Definitely!” says the Aussie.


“It’s a quality field there. Anytime you win with that sort of field – you can win an event another time of the year and not every one of those players is there – when you win with that quality of field: I held off Yani at the end and since then she has completely dominated the tour. She’s done it for two years, really, but I take a lot of pride in that.”


What’s interesting is it’s hard to put a tag on the Singapore winners, beyond the fact that they have all been at the very top of the women’s game. As Jiyai Shin explains, it doesn’t seem to be the style of the player, more just the ability to play at a world-class level for four demanding days.


“Ai and me, we’re a pretty similar game type. Karrie plays quite safely and Lorena plays aggressively, so we’re all a little different. The LPGA Tour has a lot of long hitters and the course is pretty long, but you need consistency. It’s got really narrow fairways, lots of bunkers, pretty tough greens: it’s a good course for consistent players,” Shin says of the highly regarded Tanah Merah Country Club’s Garden Golf Course.


[[posterous-content:pid___0]]credit: Tanah Merah Garden Golf Course

The runners-up over the years also defy a stereotype as golfers, but do have a common trait. Chie Arimura, who fought Webb all the way last year, is described by caddies on the Japan tour as mentally tougher than any other player out there. Cristie Kerr, runner-up to Ai in 2010, happily calls herself as “a scrapper, a mudder and a grinder”. Annika needs no introduction, while Katherine Hull, pipped by Shin in 2009, thrives in a battle.


“I agree, they’re tough players,” says Shin.


“They’re all good players. They all hit good iron shots and have good control over their second shots. They really focus only on their own game.”


What’s Luck Got to Do with It?


While the tournament doesn’t seem to favour any particular aspect of the game – despite the length of Tanah Merah, it certainly can’t be described as a long hitter’s haven – there is a consensus that it does bring out the best from the best.


“I think so. You have to have good skill and a good mentality to win the tournament. You can’t be lucky and win that tournament; you have to play good for four whole days,” says Tseng.


Her statement, that there will never be a lucky winner, is greeted with all-round agreement.


“That’s true. The golf course is difficult enough; it’s like a Major tournament,” Miyazato concurs.


“I agree. If you miss a shot, your next shot is a tough shot,” says Shin.


“We play great golf courses around the world, but on some holes you can miss a shot and it’ll come back and you can escape. When you miss a shot a Tanah Merah you lose a shot, so we have to hit good shots all the time. For me, it’s fun!”


England’s Karen Stupples, who won the 2004 Women’s British Open at Sunningdale by starting her final round with an eagle and albatross in successive holes, is another to wholly back Yani’s point of view.


“That’s absolutely right. It’s about quality shots. You can’t get away with having a lucky bounce and banking it onto the green, because if you miss the green the chances are it’s going to bounce into some trouble. Kicking off a mound and bouncing onto the green doesn’t happen there. She’s right. You’ve got to hit good drives, good shots and you’ve got to golf your ball; that’s the bottom line,” declares the 38-year-old from Kent.


Further proof to support the argument comes from the fact that every winner of the HSBC Women’s Champions has had multiple wins in the season of their Singapore triumph. Karrie doubled up in her next outing to take the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. In 2010, Ai had four other LPGA wins and a domestic Major at the Japan Women’s Open. Jiyai claimed two other titles and the Rolex Rookie of the Year award as well as a win on the Japan LPGA, while Lorena went wild in 2008, winning seven events in total, including a Major at the Kraft Nabisco Championship during a spell of four wins in four successive weeks.


Not a Game of Perfect


That’s not to say all the winners have played perfectly. Jiyai Shin was one over par after two rounds in 2009 when she headed to the range and found a fix: it worked. The next morning she started her third round with almost no-one watching her, but by the time she had completed back-to-back rounds off 66 she had everyone’s undivided attention.


Karrie Webb’s win was based on one part of her game working brilliantly and that perhaps helped her believe in the rest.


“It was one of those events where my short game was probably the best weeks I’ve had, especially in the last five or six years. My ball striking I wouldn’t say was my best, but under the gun, even when it was a little erratic, I hit some great shots and trusted myself. I hadn’t won on the LPGA for a couple of years and I think I always felt I had to be at my best to win; I took away from that week that I didn’t have to be 110 per cent to win. I just need to find a way to get it in the hole,” she says, echoing what Karen Stupples means when she uses the phrase “golf your ball”.


In contrast, Ai Miyazato killed the course with consistency in 2010, carding three 69s in her four rounds.


“I’d won the first event in Thailand, so I felt good about my game at that time. I just tried to make simple plays; trying to hit the fairway and trying to hit the greens. That golf course is always in good shape, but the greens are really difficult. You need to make sure you know where you’re going to hit your second shot. You need to be really smart on the golf course. I played really well. My putting was really good all week. I always remember the 16th, the short par four: I made eagle hitting driver to a back pin, getting on the front and making the putt. I played really good the whole week, really solid,” Ai said.


The Japanese star has little doubt as to the stand-out winning performance of the four.


“Lorena shot 17 under or something?” she asks.


It was actually 20 under par.


“That’s ridiculous!” she declares.


“I think shooting 10 under par on that golf course is really good. I played with her when she won the tournament and she was playing totally different golf. It looked so easy. Annika finished second, but Lorena was so solid and Annika couldn’t touch her!” Ai adds.


That win becomes even more impressive when one considers the context. Lorena had risen to number one in April 2007 when Annika was struggling with ruptured and bulging discs in her neck. By the start of 2008 Annika had announced her return to fitness and not just verbally; she won the SBS Open in Hawaii and 10 days later, with Lorena opening her season in Singapore, it was on! Annika beat the rest of the field, but was a massive 11 shots behind Lorena’s winning total.


A Chess Match


So what is it about Tanah Merah’s Garden Course that tests the best in women’s golf? It starts with the fiendish mind of Phil Jacobs and his 2004 redesign. The end result is a course where the current world number one says you have to think several shots ahead and there is hardly a shot out there that allows you to relax.


“Maybe for tap-in putts! All the other shots you have to think in a different way and you have to think about what your strategy is, because it might cost you when you get to your second shot or third shot. You’re always thinking ahead about what you’re going to do. It’s a really fun course to play,” says Yani.


“You play all the 14 clubs in your bag. Even though you’re using all 14 clubs, you still have to hit a lot of different shots. There are different winds; all the challenges make you think and make you think you’re enjoying the tournament and having fun with the challenges of the course. It doesn’t feel stressful. You have to have the challenge and some stress, but that’s why it’s so much fun.”


For Karen Stupples, one of the things that stands out is the number of times you find yourself with nowhere to make a ‘good’ mistake.


“There are some holes you play and you think ‘where is the out?’ and there is no out. Typically a golf hole has an out – one side or another that is favourable to a miss. There are some holes where there is nowhere to miss it. That’s a bit brutal! It’s like the 17th at Sawgrass; there’s no get out! There’s a tiny little bridge, but that’s it. You’ve got to bring it!” says the Englishwoman.


“There are some holes that are incredibly challenging, like 10. Last year, 1 and 10 were incredibly tough holes. You’re going in there with four irons; there are not too many courses that we go into with four irons with elevated greens and bunkers or water.”


For Jiyai, the enjoyment comes from the way Tanah Merah tests everything you’ve got.


“It’s a really strong course for the women: long distance, tight golf course, firm greens. So we need really good ball control with every club. We need the whole skills. It’s pretty tough because the greens are mostly elevated above the fairway, so if you miss, the ball is going a long way,” she explains, adding that her duel with Katherine Hull in the final round three years ago shows how slim the margin is for error.


“Katherine and me, she made only one mistake, but it made a big difference. She played good and could have made a lower score, but if you make one mistake it can lose you a lot of strokes, easily. You have to focus each and every shot. Number 18 is pretty tough. If you lead by one shot, you can easily lose one or two there. You have to really focus. It’s easy to make bogey or double-bogey. So nobody knows before the finish.”


Sheer Willpower


All those factors demand a level of resolve that Na Yeon Choi, currently the highest rated Korean in the official rankings, believes plays into the hands of the women at the top of the global game.


“We have to have really good course management on that course. The top players never give up and always do their best until the last hole on Sunday, and the top players get better results because of that,” adds the winner of the 2010 LPGA Official Money List.


In a nutshell, it’s a course that demands you get into the designer’s head and understand the questions he’s posing. In Phil Jacobs own words, he does everything from test the golfer’s self-discipline to “constantly have that question in a player’s mind: ‘If I’m going to miss it, where should I miss it?’” And in the case of the hardest holes, he tests their game to breaking point.


“It asks you to miss in the right places and to be aggressive when you can be, and I think I did a good job of that,” says Webb of last year’s victory.


“When I missed greens, I missed in places where I could get up and down. With my putting that week, I didn’t give myself 12 or 13 unbelievably great birdie opportunities each day. I gave myself six or seven and probably made five of them. I just took advantage of the opportunities I had. It was just about getting the ball in the hole.”


Webb reckons that all the factors – a great course, a great field enjoying their entire week at the time of year, when everyone is raring to go – is what has combined to produce the almost unparalleled list of victors… that with the more unusual challenge of the holes that run along the side of Changi Airport.


“I think with the quality of the field, you’re bound to get a good winner and it’s the start of the year, so it’s whoever is ready to go straight out of the blocks. It’s whoever is ready mentally to overcome those things and to overcome not making that birdie on the first day, and the heat and the wind and the planes, and all of that,” she explains


Stupples, however, feels the final preparations for the tournament – the speeding up of the greens, the growing in of the rough and the other adjustments made to take something a weekend warrior can survive, and morph it into a monster – play a big part, together with the fact that the most successful players make more minor adjustments during the winter break.


“They set it up particularly well. It’s a tough, quality golf course, particularly that early in the season. You’ve got to be ready to play and typically you’ll find that the quality players will always be ready to go. That’s what you’re finding there,” she explains.


“They’re ready for it. They’ve had a very good season the year before, so they’re coming off good finishes, so the confidence is already pretty high. They’ve done a little bit of maintenance work over the winter, but they haven’t had to do swing overhauls or any of that crap. They’re ready to go. They’re primed. All they have to do is go and play a quality golf course, which is what it is. You have to hit good shot after good shot after good shot, make good putt after good putt. That’s what the course does for you and that’s why you get the winners you do there.”


Digging the Vibe


Another of the factors seems to be the feeling of the whole week. To understand that, one has to remember just how many weeks of the year these players spend on the road and, especially for the internationals, how much time they’re away from their real homes. It’s also worth bearing in mind just how hard women golfers have had to fight over the years to establish their tour and to be taken seriously in a sport where, in certain parts of the world, to this day women golfers aren’t always welcomed.


So when Singaporeans throw open their arms and the red carpet is both literally and metaphorically rolled out, it’s universally appreciated.


“I love the tournament atmosphere, too. It’s very special for everything. Very organized and the people are very nice. Because the tournament atmosphere is so good, that’s why everyone is playing so good,” says Ai, referring as much to what is available away from the golf course as to what they get on it.


“The hotel is really nice and you can go shopping or do whatever you like. That’s really special as well. That tournament is almost too good!” she exclaims.


“It is a terrific event. Every which way, it’s top class!” says Stupples, who appreciates some of the “home” comforts all the more having gambled her house, furniture and car to move to the States in a bid to make it on the LPGA at the start of her career.


“I love Singapore! I feel very comfortable in Singapore. With my British background, how could you not feel comfortable in Singapore? The sockets are UK sockets. There’s a kettle in the room and you can make a cup of tea… even if the weather is a little warmer. You’ve got Raffles just across the road and Marks & Spencers! It feels very comfortable. I love Marks & Spencers! I’m old now, what can I say?”


The answer to Stupples rhetorical question is ‘lots’. We leave her as she enters into a charming monologue about all the reasons why she would be the perfect person for the British retailer to sponsor.


Who’s Next?


If you start asking who is most likely to be the next to add their name to the prestigious list, one shouldn’t overlook the chances of the event producing its first back-to-back champion. Karrie Webb has an unusually strong record going back as the title-holder, despite the fact that conventional wisdom suggests it is one of the harder things to do in golf.


“I’ve always enjoyed it. I obviously played the best there last year. I always feel it gives me an advantage: it gives me good vibes going into the event. I enjoy it,” says Webb, whose CV backs her up.


Among the Aussie’s multitude of triumphs are repeat wins at the US Women’s Open title in 2000 and 2001, as well as The Office Depot tournament in Florida, Washington State’s Safeco Classic and at two very differently named editions of an event at Murrells Inlet in South Carolina.  At the Australian Ladies Masters in her native Queensland, she monopolized the trophy from 1998 to 2001, and more recently won the MFS Women’s Australian Open title in 2007 and 2008.


Given that an HSBC Women’s Champions victory has more often than not been the early signal as to who the year’s dominant player will be, Na Yeon Choi might be a contender after a year of constant English lessons. The difference it has made to this engaging, but previously shy and nervous 24-year-old is heart-warming. With her multiple wins in 2009 and 2010 and the fact that last year she was close to Yani’s levels in making the top 10 in over half of her events in 2011, the more outgoing Na Yeon could be set for a career year, simply because her new-found language skills have made her life less stressful. 


“I wasn’t scared, but I think I was uncomfortable. If I was walking through the clubhouse and someone was smiling at me, I would worry about what they were about to say to me. I didn’t have the confidence with my English and that was why I seemed uncomfortable with maybe the LPGA players and with all the fans. I’m a lot more comfortable with American people or with Asian people who are speaking English. I have fans on facebook from Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand; I like it! It’s made me a better player I think, a more confident player!” she reveals.


The most logical choice, however, is the most confident player of all: Yani Tseng.


Third behind Webb and Arimura last year, Yani has turned into a winning machine. She now understands that to add the HSBC Women’s Champions to her rapidly increasing list of titles she has to find a balance between the self-styled “Birdie Machine” approach that helped her become the youngest player ever, male or female, to win five Majors and being more selective about when she attacks.


“Being more patient is better, playing smart. Some of the holes are sometimes really hard to make birdie. You can still be aggressive, but sometimes you have to play smart, too,” she says.


“I’m getting closer and closer. I was pretty close last year! I played well and did my best. Everyone wants to win, but it’s not like I’m playing bad. This year I have a chance, because I know the course better, better than the last four years. I know how the strategy is on the golf course and how to play on the golf course. I’m looking forward to playing this year, because it’s a fun course and it’s a very good challenge.”



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Posted via email from stacysolomon's posterous

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tiger Woods back on endorsement track after Australia visit

Australia was very good to Tiger Woods this year. From a third place finish in the Australian Open to helping Team USA with his decisive win at the Presidents Cup, Woods' game has begun to get back on track. Woods may have started off with a whimper during the first and second rounds of the Presidents Cup but he ended off putting with laser accuracy.

Woods admitted that his recovery is part of a process, "It's just a matter of putting it together over a longer period of time."


With the wins also go the spoils of war. Woods, playing and acting more like the Tiger of old, is snaring new endorsement deals. Both Rolex and Fuse Science Inc. have signed agreements with Woods. It has even been acknowledged by Tiger that he owns a stake in the nutrition company. You may remember that Tiger Woods lost many of his sponsorship deals from Tag Heuer to General Motors (Buick) but Nike Golf and EA Sports (among a few) have held on, execs keeping their fingers crossed that Woods will rebound and soar towards breaking Nicklaus' golf record of wins.

Tiger Woods current Official Sponsors.

Although Woods still has a long fairway to walk in order to return to the top-fifty, he is finally starting to see his live in a more positive way. Now openly talking about his injuries and the internal (emotional) setbacks that have sidelined him for more than two years, Tiger seems ready to move forward into the next stage of his life and career.

The next stage in Tiger Woods' career starts with the 2012 golf season. It was announced that, after six wins at Torrey Pines, Woods will open the season at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. Too bad the tournament director had to learn of Tiger's decision via television. And the question still remains, should the PGA Tour offer appearance fees?

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tiger Woods splits with Stricker after humiliating defeat to Adam Scott

Tiger_Woods_Steve_StrickerTeam USA lost it's only match in first round Presidents Cup action as the Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker pairing were decimated at the hands of Adam Scott and Steve Williams (sorry, I meant to say KJ Choi).

Twelve holes after an obligatory handshake at the first tee Woods commented, "They got off to a quick start, and we just couldn’t keep up."

The tally for Scott/Choi was four birdies, three holes won with par closing out the match when Choi rolled in a 7-foot birdie putt on the 12th hole (7 and 6).

Although in past Presidents Cup action considered a dynamic duo, Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker will split up and form new teams. Woods will be paired with heavy hitter Dustin Johnson and Stricker will connect with Matt Kuchar in order to bring about some magic in second round fourball action of the Presidents Cup.

Even though Adam Scott and KJ Choi made a great A-Team, they too will be split and paired with other International Team members. Adam Scott will be paired with KT Kim while Choi is partnering with Geoff Ogilvy, possibly to give hope to other International players.

Too much pressure for Tiger Woods after shaking the hand of Steve Williams and looking into the eyes of Scott, once predicted to be the NEW Tiger Woods?  Or could it be Stricker was just rusty after shoulder injuries? Alternate shot puts the onus on both players so a different format will bring out the best (or worst) to come.

As a side note: The team of Phil Mickelson/Jim Furyk won but you knew that as Tiger Woods' team was the only one defeated at the hands of the Internationals.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Greg Norman hopes Adam Scott gives Tiger Woods a Presidents Cup thrashing

A face-off between Tiger Woods and Adam Scott at the Presidents Cup tourney in Royal Melbourne GC would certainly make great "must see TV" but is Greg Norman using the Aussie to unload his own sour grapes?


The Aussies (?...ha) are "sick and tired of losing," said Norman, whose International team hasn't won the Cup since 1998. Furthermore, Greg Norman was "dethroned" by Tiger Woods in the 1990's to become top-golfer in the world. This isn't just a case of "my yacht is bigger than your yacht," this is personal.

"Tiger and Greg don't speak," said a source who knows both men. "There's a lot of animosity between them."

Greg Norman has turned The Presidents Cup into a battle between Australia (not necessarily the "International Team") and the USA. Doing so, however, has had it's ramifications, with Couples now comparing Aussie golfers to Woods.

After Tiger Woods was slammed by Norman, Couples retorted with a comparative dig at Melbourne golfer Robert Allenby.

"Robert Allenby is his (captain's) pick, and Aaron Baddeley, and they're Australians and I think they're great picks,"claimed Couples. "But I think I can sit here and say Robert Allenby hasn't won a tournament in ten years.''

Other Aussies have jumped on the "trash-talking Tiger" bandwagon but members of Team Norman such as Geoff Ogilvy seem spurred on by Greg Norman's personal vengeance against the former world's number-one golfer.

Geoff Ogilvy, for example, does not agree with Team USA Captain Fred Couples' pick, "I'm not going to stand up and say Tiger is a horrible pick, but I'm going to say it's very disappointing that Keegan Bradley doesn't get to play."

Placing Adam Scott against Tiger Woods is also a personal slam against the former world's number one as Scott's caddie, Steve Williams, has said a few bitter words recently about his former boss.

That being said, an Adam Scott - Tiger Woods match would make for sensational end-of-season golf TV and both teams know it, as the Presidents Cup has never been as monumental as the Ryder Cup.

When Norman asked Scott if he had a problem going up against the former world's number one, Adam said, "Not at all. I'll play him and win a point for you."

Presidents Cup action begins Wednesday November 16th. Check your listings and voice your opinions about Tiger Woods on Twitter @Golf4Beginners and on Facebook.




Posted via email from stacysolomon's posterous

Friday, November 11, 2011

Hawaii retiree, Humanitarian, LPGA veteran named PGA First Lady of Golf

Mary Bea Porter
Mary Bea Porter with Alexis Thompson
at 2008 Junior PGA Championship
Mary Bea Porter-King of Kapaa, Hawaii, a celebrated four-sport collegiate athlete, LPGA Tour veteran, a pioneer in junior golf within her state, and one of the country’s most respected Rules officials, has been named the recipient of the 2011 PGA First Lady of Golf Award.

Porter-King, 61, will be honored at The PGA of America Awards, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012, during the 59th PGA Merchandise Show at the Orange County Convention Center’s Chapin Theater in Orlando, Fla.

Born in Everett, Wash., and raised in Costa Mesa, Calif., Porter-King began playing golf at age 7, mentored by LPGA co-founder Betty Hicks. Porter-King paved her way in junior golf by conducting a golf clinic at age 8 with Hall of Famer Patty Berg. She went on to become a four-sport star athlete at Arizona State University before devoting her career to golf. She was a co-founder of the Hawaii State Junior Golf Association in 1998; and served from 2001-06 as a member of the USGA Executive Committee and from 2006-09, as an Independent Director on The PGA America Board of Directors. As a member of the PGA Rules Committee, Porter-King has officiated for nearly two decades at golf’s premier events, including all of the game’s men’s and women’s major championships.

“Mary Bea Porter-King’s remarkable career of service to our game is on display within her home state in a junior golf program that has produced countless success stories, and is a model for how our industry may improve the future of so many young people,” said PGA of America President Allen Wronowski. “Mary Bea also has served golf at the highest levels, a record that includes an unwavering commitment to the integrity of our sport as a premier Rules official. It is with great honor that we may now refer to her as our next PGA First Lady of Golf.”

Porter-King served on the USGA Girls’ Junior Committee from 1994-2000, and since 2001, she has been a member of the U.S. Junior Championship Committee. In 1998, she co-founded the Hawaii State Junior Golf Association, which annually engages more than 500 juniors from elementary to high school age. The program has produced hundreds of collegiate golfers, with several program graduates including current LPGA standouts - Michelle Wie and Kimberly Kim.

“I am very humbled by this honor; first to be honored by The PGA of America, an organization I have revered all my life, and secondly, it is so special to have my name listed with all of the previous honorees, women of whom I have so much respect,” said Porter-King. “I love this game and have spoken for many years to encourage all of us, The PGA, LPGA, and USGA, to combine efforts to develop the next core golfers.

“All of us, who love the game, need to do everything we can to make sure all future generations who are given the gift of golf understand, play by, and protect the core values of the game while maintaining its integrity. It is so important we all work together to develop the next core golfer to ensure that the future of the game is in good hands. Who will fill the next shoes in our sport? It is up to all of us.”

Porter-King was inducted in 2001 into the Arizona State University Sports Hall of Fame in four sports. Competing from 1968-73 in the pre-Title IX era, she excelled in volleyball, softball, golf, and basketball. Before graduating in 1973, Porter-King was a starting second baseman for the 1971 ASU College Softball World Series Championship team, and earned 1972 All-American honors in golf, and was a member of the school’s 1970, ’71 NAIA Women’s Golf Championship teams.

Porter-King began her professional golf career in 1973, earning LPGA Tour Qualifying School medalist honors. She captured the Golf Inns of America Classic in 1975. She left the Tour from 1983-85, and returned in 1986 and competed until her retirement in 1998.

She is a past president of the Kauai Junior Golf Association, and in 2004 was inducted into the Hawaii Golf Hall of Fame. Traveling more than 100,000 miles a year, Porter-King has officiated at 14 U.S. Women's Opens, 10 U.S. Men's Opens, 10 U.S. Senior Opens, five Masters, four PGA Championships, and one Open Championship.

Porter-King earned universal praise for a courageous act on March 16, 1988, during a qualifying round for the former LPGA Standard Register Turquoise Classic in Phoenix, Ariz. Having hooked a second shot badly on the 13th hole of Moon Valley Country Club, Porter-King approached the fence to look for her ball and saw a family in peril. Jonathan Smucker, then a 3-year-old from Ronks, Pa., had fallen into a swimming pool and was lying lifeless. Porter-King was helped over the fence by her caddie, administered CPR, awaited arrival of paramedics, resulting in saving the life of the child.

For her action, she was later that year the first recipient of the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association Mary Bea Porter Humanitarian Award, honoring a heroic or humanitarian act that enhances human life. The same Association presented Porter-King this year with its MGWA Distinguished Service Award.

Porter-King and her husband, Charlie, live in Kapaa, Hawaii. The couple has a son, Joseph, 29, of Santa Barbara, Calif.; and a daughter, Sherry, 39, married to Mike Niethammer, with three sons, Charlie, 7, Will, 4, and Max, 2, of Oahu, Hawaii.

The PGA First Lady of Golf Award, inaugurated in 1998, is presented to a woman who has made significant contributions to the promotion of the game of golf.

PGA First Lady of Golf Recipients
1998 Barbara Nicklaus
1999 Judy Rankin
2000 No recipient
2001 Judy Bell
2002 Nancy Lopez
2003 Renee Powell
2004 Alice Dye
2005 Carol Semple Thompson
2006 Kathy Whitworth
2007 Peggy Kirk Bell
2008 Carol Mann
2009 Donna Caponi-Byrnes
2010 No recipient
2011 Mary Bea Porter-King

photo credit: PGA

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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Can Yoga help you become more empowered in golf?

Just listening to Margarit Brigham's calming voice asking this fast-paced businesswoman to take a few minutes and breathe calmed me almost immediately. I inhaled/exhaled and allowed my mind to center wondering if this simple exercise will help lead me on the path to a more consistent golf game.


Brigham, a.k.a. "Golf Goddess", dedicates herself to instructing women on connecting with the higher self through Yoga. In this week's BlogTalkRadio Show, "Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Golf", Margarit discusses how Yoga can be the connecting link to Joy in both the game of golf and the game of life.


Yoga is not only meant to improve flexibility, there are definite cerebral advantages to connecting with our higher self. Just as discipline is needed for Yoga, it is also a necessity in golf. Centering the mind to learn how to be more in the moment will help women to act, not react. If we can connect mind and body, Margarit says, we can meet more challenges without despair, more easily control negative emotions and become self-empowered.


"Golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half inch course;
the space between your ears."
- Bobby Jones


Professional golfers like Juli Inkster, Brad Faxon, Gary Player and Stewart Cink practice yoga to stay "in the zone". As father Earl Woods reminds Tiger Woods in his book, Training a Tiger: A Father's Guide to Raising a Winner in Golf and Life, "If you don't clutter your conscious mind with endless pointers and tips, you make it easier for your subconscious instincts to guide you." (see Yoga Journal).


Learning a few yoga stretches (done properly) will most certainly help the physical aspect of your golf game: your alignment, posture range of motion and stamina will improve. Listening to Margarit Brigham's Golf Goddess internet radio show and reading her book, "How to Become a Golf Goddess" should help you to improve the deeper connection within yourself to be able to play beyond par.




About Margarit Brigham:

Margaret (Peggy) Brigham is a NCCP Level 1 Coach and a certified yoga teacher who has been developing Yoga for Golf™ since 1997. Yoga for Golf has been taught as a weekly course, workshop and seminars, before corporate tournaments and in combination with golf pro's during clinics.


Post Golf Yoga questions to Margarit Brigham @GolfGoddess on Twitter


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Monday, November 07, 2011

Martin Kaymer, newest golf hero?

Martin Kaymer ended the run of first-time winners lifting the sport’s top trophies and lifted himself above the crowd when he won the WGC-HSBC Champions. Shooting a record low winning round for the World Golf Championships, the German’s nine birdies in his last nine holes propelled him over a leader board packed with recent WGC and Major winners and past overnight leader Fredrik Jacobson to a nine-under-par 63 final round and a three-shot victory. Tim Maitland reports.
“To shoot 63 in a final round is always great, but on a golf course like this and in a World Golf Championships is obviously special. The way I played was different. It was really special," recalled Kaymer.

"I can’t remember a day when I played golf like this. My putting was outstanding," said 26-year-old Kaymer, who, having won the 2010 PGA Championship becomes the first of golf’s new breed to follow up his first big breakthrough win with another top-level victory.

Kaymer’s late charge lifted him above a leader board that seemed to have most of the contenders to the crown of being the game’s next dominant player. Reigning US Open champion Rory McIlroy and Masters champion Charl Schwartzel finished tied for fourth along with Paul Casey while 2010 US Open winner Graeme McDowell came third.

“If Martin Kaymer had not skipped the last couple of holes, we might all have had a chance,” joked the Northern Irishman, who got to see some of Kaymer’s fireworks from the group behind.

“He's an unbelievable frontrunner; when he gets a sniff of a win ‑‑ he's pretty prolific and very clinical when it comes to finishing.  Hats off to him!  He's a classy player and he was impossible to catch out there.”

Casey, marking a return to form after a season plagued by a toe problem, had initially threatened to be the one making a winning charge making five birdies. He was slowed by the return of a swing fault caused by the injury but had the best seat in the house playing in the winner’s group.

“He didn't flinch.  It was very good stuff from him. [I had a] front row seat for Martin Kaymer, watching, that because that was a brilliant performance.”

In the long-term, perhaps just as impressive was the achievement of relatively unknown local player Zhang Xinjun beating the previous record for the highest finish by a Chinese player at the HSBC Champions. A professional for only a year, the 24-year old from the Terracotta Warrior city of Xian tied for thirteenth alongside Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter thanks largely to an eight-under-par third round. The previous best finishes were 24th by Liang Wenchong in 2008 and 25th for Zhang Lianwei three years earlier.

“He played very solid golf,” declared Kaymer of the former security guard. 

“He's a long hitter.  His putting is brilliant, so I can see him playing well in the future.  I had never heard of him before, but you've got to watch out, there are more players coming from Asia and he's probably one of the better ones!” he added.

For Kaymer, his victory shone a different light on a year that started with a stunning victory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in January. The German said the pressure of becoming world number one in February – and not swing changes to prepare for a challenge at Augusta – was responsible for a relative slump, but that completing a sponsor’s double has turned an okay season into a good one.

“I started off with my HSBC win in Abu Dhabi and I’ve finished my year by winning the tournament in Shanghai. I obviously really like the HSBC tournaments!”

With the end of Tiger Woods' reign, golf has truly entered a brave new world!

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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Bradley, Poulter, Mahan to Attempt $300K Hole-In-One at WGC-HSBC Champions

During the WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai this week, Keegan Bradley, Ian Poulter, and Hunter Mahan will be given the opportunity to ace the 17th golf hole at Sheshan Int'l golf course. If they succeed, performance tech innovator Power Balance will donate $300K to a charity of their choice and one lucky fan will be awarded $30K! 

All three golfers have been at the top of their game recently. Ian Poulter took home the trophy at the Volvo World Match Play Championship in Spain in May, Hunter Mahan finished second at the Fedex Cup in September and Keegan Bradley won the PGA Championship in August more recently capturing the PGA Grand Slam of Golf on October 20.


“This is a fun, interactive way to give back to our golfing communities,” said Josh Rodarmel, co-founder of Power Balance. “Golfers have consistently given us great feedback about our products and continue to comprise an important segment of our business.”

If you believe that a hole-in-one will be an easy ace, even for great golfers like Mahan, Bradley and Poulter, think again. According to HSBCGolf.com, "Two holes, 16 and 17, play around and over the (rock) quarry, giving the golfer both an awe inspiring view while requiring great golf shots. These two holes will not only be the signature holes of Shanghai Sheshan Golf Club, but also of the whole
Shanghai region."


17th hole at Sheshan Golf Club




Power Balance technology products are worn by a community of millions of everyday people and hundreds of professional athletes – from Drew Brees to Derrick Rose, Matt Kemp to all three golfers participating in this challenge.


The online sweepstakes began last week with promotional giveaways and more on the Power Balance website, Facebook and Twitter. 


Fans can enter the sweepstakes at http://www.powerbalance.com/holeinonechallenge. The winner will be chosen from online entries into the sweepstakes; no purchase is required to enter the contest. Florida and New York are not eligible for this sweepstakes. 


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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Baby Comes First As Luke Donald Ducks WGC-HSBC Shanghai Sortie

World number one golfer Luke Donald has reluctantly cancelled his trip to next week’s WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai to be with his wife for the birth of their second child. Tim Maitland reports.
The Englishman, who is trying to become the first player in history to win the money lists on both sides of the Atlantic, had been hoping that the daughter they are expecting would conveniently arrive this week.
 Donald, who had his bags packed and was ready to go, finally conceded on Friday that family had to take precedence over the US$7 million event in China and his quest to get into the record books.
“It’s important for my wife and it’s important for me to make sure that I’m around to support her. It’s no coincidence that the birth of our first daughter inspired me to some really great golf. Family does put a lot of things into perspective; my job is very important but the family out-trumps everything,” said the 33-year-old Englishman in a phone interview from his home in the Chicago suburbs.
Professionally, Donald has every reason to want to be in Shanghai for the WGC-HSBC Champions. With five weeks left on the European Tour schedule he leads the Race to Dubai by over 1.3 million Euros from Rory McIlroy. He also has previous form at the Sheshan International Golf Club. He finished third, albeit by ten and nine shots, behind Italy’s Francesco Molinari and fellow Englishman Lee Westwood whose ‘Duel on the Bund’ head-to-head battle earned comparisons with the legendary ‘Duel in the Sun’ Open Championship in 1977.
“It speaks volumes for the tournament. I got to witness it as the third man in that group. I was a few shots back – I didn’t have my best golf – but it was nice to see the quality of the golf down the stretch from both players; it was a fitting end to a great event,” Donald said, despite admitting to being what the English would call a ‘gooseberry’.
“I actually was feeling a bit ‘third wheel’. To finish third was actually a pretty good accomplishment. I was struggling with my game big time and I was using every bit of energy and strength just to give myself a chance to get into that final group. I didn’t have control of the golf ball. I was a little bit frustrated with my own game but it was still nice to see how it should have been done!” he explained.
“It’s a world-class golf course – a long course – and it’s produced some great winners. That’s the biggest bonus about the tournament: the winners have been world-class players. Francesco last year, how well he played down the stretch fending off Lee Westwood… that’s always a mark of a good tournament when it produces good winners,” he said, referring to a roll of honour that includes Phil Mickelson twice, Sergio Garcia and Asia’s first male Major champion ‘YE’ Yang Yong-Eun.
Donald added that the recent controversy over the last-minute decision to delay mailing out the ballots for the PGA Tour Player of the Year voting had nothing to do with his choice to stay by his wife’s side. Donald won the Children’s Miracle Network Classic at Disneyworld to claim the PGA Tour’s money list, but described holding off posting the voting slips to the players until after Shanghai, because a WGC win for a PGA Tour player might impact the outcome, as ‘sketchy’.
“I have no problem with them including the HSBC Champions, they should! It was just the timing of it. The thing that disappointed me is that the schedule has been the same all year. I feel bad for the Asian golf fans that they didn’t see that. It’s something that should have been known at the beginning of the year, not the day after Disney.  The goalposts moved. It’s like running a marathon for 26 miles, crossing the finish line and then they say ‘actually we’re going to make it 27 miles’. It’s just the timing of it. It’s an important event; to have a WGC outside the US and such a big event in Asia. I’ve supported it the last few years when I’ve been eligible. I would be there if it wasn’t for the baby,” he said, adding that headlines describing him as ‘angered’ or ‘upset’ were wide of the mark.

Editor's note: Mid-November is the due date as stated in Luke Donald's official diary. Baby comes first! Best of luck to the  family.