From the Rough

Golf without discretion

Archive for August 2009

Did we just witness Liberty National’s only shot at hosting a tour event?

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“It’s like this beautiful birthday cake you bring into the room and slice into pieces, everyone takes a bite and realizes there’s [bleep] inside,”

“If it was a fish, I’d throw it back,”

These were just a couple of my favorite quotes from a couple of tour pros during last week’s FedEx Cup event at Liberty National. While they may sound harsh for a course that’s only three years old; they do make sense. And if there’s one person to blame for the demise of Liberty National’s big mistake at hosting a tour event this early, it’s the PGA Tour.

I had the chance to check the course out and get a first-hand look at one of the most highly talked about golf courses last week. The reason it’s so hot at the moment is due to the obvious tidbits about the course: it’s built on top of a toxic waste dump, and it’s got views of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline.

While those traits are a pretty incredible start for any golf course, there’s one thing I’ve learned over my years of watching and covering the game, and it’s the fact that a course’s scenery should never define a venue. The course ultimately does that.

It’s too bad Liberty National’s track did little to impress many players and media member. Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Jonathan Wall

08/31/2009 at 11:02 pm

Tiger Woods will play in the Barclays at Liberty National

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So I guess it was Westchester County after all! At least that’s what WCC members are probably thinking after he snubbed the Barclays event in Westchester County for the last couple of years in favor of playing in the same event at a new course that happens to be outside the aforementioned county.

Here’s the press release from the tour and the event:

Tiger Woods, the top-ranked player in the 2009 FedExCup standings, has officially committed to play The Barclays, the first event in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, August 25-30 at Liberty National in Jersey City, N.J. Along with Woods, 124 of the current 125 in the FedExCup standings have committed to an event that will showcase the best players on the PGA TOUR and kick-off the four-event PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup. Only Tom Watson is not committed to play.

Woods enters The Barclays with top-10 finishes in 11 of 12 stroke play events in 2009 and leads the PGA TOUR with five victories on the season, looking to win the FedExCup for the second time. Woods recorded his 70th PGA TOUR victory earlier this month at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. Woods, the 2007 FedExCup Champion, missed the 2008 Playoffs after undergoing knee surgery following his victory at the U.S. Open.

This year marks the fifth time Woods has played The Barclays in his career. His best finish, T13, came the last time he played in 2003. The Barclays is one of only three PGA TOUR events in which Woods has made at least three starts yet failed to record a victory (Northern Trust Open – 11 starts, FBR Open – 3 starts).

While it’ll be good to see Tiger at the event, there’s part of me that wonders if he’s only there because of the draw of playing the new Liberty National course, one that’s received some positive and negative remarks about regarding its layout. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Jonathan Wall

08/21/2009 at 3:33 pm

Lucas Glover awaits his Presidents Cup fate

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It’s hard to believe it, but a major champion could find himself on the outside looking in on October 8th, when the United States takes on an International team for the Presidents Cup trophy. That player is of course Lucas Glover, currently ranked 15th in the world with a U.S. Open trophy to his name.

Fred Couples has already made it clear that Hunter Mahan would get one of his two wild card spots, and rightly so. Mahan was a catalyst on the last year’s Ryder Cup squad, as well as being a force on the tour this year. He’s more than earned the spot.

With Mahan in the fold, that leaves one spot for Presidents Cup hopefuls Glover, Brian Gay, Dustin Johnson, and Nick Watney. Now you can make a legitimate case for all of those players, but only one player is really deserving of being on the squad, and that player is Lucas Glover. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Jonathan Wall

08/18/2009 at 9:50 am

Y.E. Yang gives us a blueprint for beating the greatest closer in the sport

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I can still remember a couple years back sitting in front of my television watching Yankees closer Mariano Rivera pitch against the Minnesota Twins in a tight game in the bottom of the eight. Up until that point in the season, Rivera had been perfect in save situations on the year.

So when Delmon Young came to the plate, you almost figured it was a battle Young would end up losing. After all, he was going up against quite possibly the greatest closer in the history of the game. When ‘Enter Sandman’ came blaring over the loudspeaker at Yankee Stadium, you knew it was time to pack up the kids and head for the exit. He was as sure a lock as any pitcher in the game.

So when Young sent a Rivera pitch over the fences for a three-run homer, I recall almost spitting out my dinner at the one thing you don’t see very often with a pitcher of Rivera’s caliber: blowing a chance to closeout the game. You don’t see that happen very often. And by all accounts, it takes a very special player to get one over on one of the greatest closers in the game.

In golf, Tiger Woods is the closest thing to a perfect closer. He is to the game of golf what Rivera is to the closer position in baseball. Once he gets a lead, you might as well chalk it up as a win before the last putt.

At least that was the case until Sunday afternoon, when a South Korean named Y.E. Yang turned the golf world on its head with a performance that should have other players on high alert. The quiet South Korean may have found a chink in Tiger’s armor. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Jonathan Wall

08/17/2009 at 7:18 pm

Tiger adds his name to the greatest major championship runner-up list of all-time

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When the 2009 season began way back in January on the lush fairways of the Hawaiian Islands, nobody, and I mean nobody, expected we’d have a list of major champions that didn’t include the name Tiger Woods.

The last time Tiger went major-less was way back in 2004, when Phil Mickelson won his first major championship at The Masters, and the golfing world for a split second believed Lefty had the game to overtake Woods in the World Golf Rankings.

Well that never happened. What did happen was Tiger reeled off at least one major championship over the next four years. So when the tour arrived at Augusta in April, it only seemed right to pick Tiger as the prohibitive favorite — even though he was just returning from knee surgery.

Fast forward past The Masters, the U.S. Open, a blustery British Open and the PGA Championship, and what do you have? A season without Tiger’s name on a single major championship trophy, and a group of major winners, only one of which is currently in the top 10 in the World Golf Rankings. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Jonathan Wall

08/17/2009 at 3:57 pm

Tiger Woods really wants his name on the Wanamaker Trophy this week

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Tiger Woods took his first step towards winning his 15th major championship with a nearly-perfect round of golf on Thursday. His five-under 67 put him at the top of the leaderboard with close to half the field still out on the course. Regardless, it looks like it could be a long week for the rest of the field.

Here’s why: Tiger’s golf hole is about the size of a manhole cover at the moment. Last week at the WGC-Bridgestone, Tiger managed to make 64 or 65 putts inside 10 feet. Yep, 98.5 percent of his putts inside money range. He followed that performance up by knocking in some pretty deep putts today, while also sprinkling in a occasional 15-footer for good measure.

Anyone with even the slightest knowledge of the game knows you drive for show and putt for dough. And if Tiger keeps his putting hot the rest of the week, I promise you there will be no one left in his sights come Sunday. Say all you want about this week being special; after today’s round by Mr. Woods, it looks like we could be in for a route of epic proportions.

Boring or not, I think we’d all watch Tiger scorch the field on Sunday if he was five or six shots ahead with nine to play.

Written by Jonathan Wall

08/13/2009 at 8:14 pm

The media is still holding a grudge against Stewart Cink for his British Open victory

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Being a full-fledged member of the golfing media, I can tell you first-hand that we (the media) sometimes hold grudges against certain players we dislike. For whatever reason, I think most of those grudges are due to a player rubbing us the wrong way, skipping an interview, or giving us worthless quotes.

Sure, we’re all meant to be unbiased observers, but I can tell you almost everyone out here secretly roots for a player on tour each week. Tom Watson is a tour favorite to some, so you can probably the way certain members of the media felt when Stewart Cink beat Watson in the British Open playoff.

More specifically, some were ticked because Cink ruined their feel-good story. I can understand their frustration in writing about Cink for their weekly or daily publication, but at some point you have to get over the fact that Watson was beat by a guy who went 2-under in a four hole playoff.

It’s not like both played like dogs and Cink won by the skin of his teeth. So why in the world after nearly a month a members of the media still grilling Cink for his reported restroom stop prior to the start of the playoff? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Jonathan Wall

08/12/2009 at 9:27 pm