Friday, February 29, 2008

Honda Classic – 2nd Round

What a difference a day makes in Florida.

Opening-round leader Luke Donald posts a +4 round of 74, including an ugly quadruple-bogey 8 on the 14th hole. He’s now tied for 12th at 2-under par. The clubhouse leader going into Saturday is Englishman Brian Davis, who was bogey-less on his first 15 holes of play, until a double-bogey 5 on the 7th (started on back nine). Davis carded 3-under 67 for the round.

Scott Hoch and Fred Funk may not be winners this week, but they’ve got it made. Both players are over 50 years of age and play regularly on the Champions Tour, but get to play PGA Tour events as well from time to time. Hoch’s and Funk’s relative youth make them odds-on favorites at Champions Tour events. Moreover, they get to try and wet their beaks in larger purses on the PGA Tour.

Scott Hoch made the cut at 3-over par and will be in for some money. Fred Funk will probably be back on the Champions Tour winning an event real soon.

And finally, The Bear Trap made a clear victim out of Chris Stroud, who put 3 balls into the drink on #15. He ended up carding a quintuple-bogey 8.

For the 15th hole today, there were 18 scores of double-bogey or higher and 16 balls found the water. That's a total of 45 balls finding the drink so far and more errant shots to come.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Shooting The Trap In Palm Beach


This is what I think of when I hear the term "Honda Classic" (see pic).

This week’s Honda Classic at PGA National features the “Bear Trap”. Three Jack Nicklaus-designed card spoilers at hole #s 15, 16 & 17 all have water and are susceptible to wind. Come Sunday, these holes may decide who takes home a $990,000 paycheck.

Don’t count on Jimmy Walker so fast. After opening 5-under thru 13 holes, a double-bogey 6 on the 6th hole (he started on the back nine) dropped him 3 strokes off the lead. The Golf Channel got in on the act with the Good Times theme for Walker during his ascension. You probably could have played the Twilight Zone theme after the 6th. But 3-under puts him in a tie for 4th and in the hunt.

The current ‘hunted’ at 6-under is Northwestern graduate and current Palm Beach Gardens resident Luke Donald, who shot a bogey-less 64 in the opening round.

Boo Weekley fired an Even-par 70 and he’s fighting the flu. To put it into perspective, some people who read (and write) this blog have enough trouble wiping themelves when they have the flu.

The Honda Classic starts up the “Florida Swing” for the PGA Tour, with 4 out of the next 5 events being played in the Sunshine State.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Competition In Other Places


…but the horns, they’re blowing down south.

There’s your Dire Straits moment-of-the-day.

Here’s your chance to get your butt on tour and see how you measure up to other golfers. And for those Caddyshack fans, some would say they measure up to other golfers “by height”.

http://www.thegolfchannel.com/amateurtour/

The Golf Channel’s Amateur Tour calls for golfers of all skill levels to accept the challenge of Tournament-style golf and get a little taste of what it’s like on Tour. The Amateur Tour operates in various regional outlets in the U.S, including two in the Chicagoland area. Initial membership is $200 and you can play in any tournament, anywhere on the Amateur Tour (as long as there is still room in the event.).

I have joined the Tour and, with approval, will hopefully be playing in my first event in Lake Worth, FL in a couple of weeks. Wish me luck!

Another thing they’re big on is the notion of “Ready Golf”, which is something that I try to follow, regardless of whether I’m playing for fun or money.

http://www.gcatchicago.com/ReadyGolf.html

I’ve been trying to find ways in which to blog about slow golfers without coming off like a complete ass. And as I see there is no benign way to approach this subject. All I will say is that anyone that I play golf with should read this and print it out.

I am not saying I’m perfect. I found items on the “Ready Golf” sheet in which I was perfectly guilty. But golf is a 4-hour round… period. 4 ½ hours is barely tolerable, but a 5-hour round is ridiculous.

If you love golf as much as I do, PRINT OUT THIS MANUAL AND READ IT.

I think the game will be more enjoyable for everyone if you do. And when I say "everyone" that goes for those in your group, those ahead and those behind.

And yes... I'm looking for an argument today, you slow-playing, deliberate douchebag .

Monday, February 25, 2008

Dominating In The Desert



Was it even a contest?

Looking at the scorecard, pondering over what I watched yesterday, the answer is a definite ‘NO’.

Tiger Woods won his 3rd WGC Match Play Championship and his 3rd consecutive WGC event. The victim this time around was Stewart Cink, a fine golfer in his own right, but somehow could not muster enough mojo on the 2nd 18-holes (final round is 36 holes) to overcome Tiger’s strong 5-up lead.

Woods defeated Cink 8 & 7, a landslide victory in Match Play and is now 31-6 (wins-losses) in match play at the Accenture.

He surpassed Arnold Palmer and stands 1 victory short of tying Ben Hogan (64) for 3rd on the all-time list. Woods’ 63 victories in 218 events make him a winner in 29% of the events he enters.

About every 3rd or 4th golf event in which he starts, he wins it.

The numbers don’t lie. That is dominant.

And it’s safe to say that there may never be as prolific a winner in golf for the next 100 years as Tiger Woods.

Make that the next 200 years.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Elite 8 at WGC

Highlights from Friday

The field is now down to eight players at the WGC Accenture Match Play event, with Tiger Woods as the last remaining #1 seed. Extra holes (20) were needed for Woods to defend off Aussie sensation Aaron Baddeley.

His Elite 8 match will come against K.J. Choi, who jumped out to an early 3-up lead over Paul Casey thru 3 holes and never surrendered the lead. Choi defeated Casey, 2-up.

The carriage turned back into a pumpkin for the low-seeded Cinderellas: Colin Montgomerie (#15), Rod Pampling (#15) and Jonathan Byrd (#16). Their opponents, respectively, Angel Cabrera, Stewart Cink and Henrik Stenson all advance, with the Swedish returning-champion Stenson making a legitimate case for a repeat.

Justin Leonard is riding that wave with a 3 & 2 victory over Stuart Appleby. As the lowest seed remaining (#13), the former Texas Longhorn is playing the ‘underdog’ part well. His poor start made for a seemingly frustrating season on the tour, one that saw his rankings slip. But 2008 has galvanized Leonard and his positive outing here can only move him up the rankings and propel him to a tee time at Augusta.

How much fun was Match Play this week? Ask Steve Stricker. At 5-down thru 13 holes and seemingly on the brink of elimination, Stricker birdies the par-3 14th and jokingly fist pumps his small victory. The crowd at The Gallery loved it and Stricker smiled all the way the next tee, almost knowing that his match would soon be over. It was and Cabrera closed the door on the former Fighting Illini standout, 4 & 3.


And Twice on Saturdays…

Two rounds of golf are in store at the Gallery today, which will ultimately leave 2 finalists for tomorrow’s Championship match.

What makes today interesting is that players don’t ultimately know how many holes they’ll end up playing over the course of the day, which could affect their performance tomorrow.

For example, Tiger Woods could beat both of his opponents 3 &2 and have to play only 32 total holes en route to the finals. Or he plays a total of 41 holes (21 on his first match, 20 on his second). Who knows how long the matches go.

Like that time at Pumpkin Ridge in 1996, where Tiger won the USGA Amateur for the 3rd time in a row. A 36-hole match play tournament which Tiger won in 38 holes, in comeback fashion.

All right. I’m trying to sneak a little subliminal scouting in on you, as I believe Woods succeeds in both scenarios. He'll beat you easy or do it the hard way. As usual, he's still the man to beat.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sweet 16 in Tucson

Monty in Full Swing.

Colin Montgomerie’s 1-up victory over Charles Howell III propelled him into the round of 16 Wednesday at the WGC Match Play Championships outside of Tucson, AZ.

His 5-7 overall record coming into the event wasn’t much to hang his hat upon. But the impressive Ryder Cup resume, 20-9-7 (wins-losses-draws), makes the 44 year-old Scot a force to reckon with in the Snead Bracket. A confident Montgomerie shared his thoughts on the tournament format after his victory.

“I do prefer playing one individual than I do playing 155 others. It’s easier,” Montgomerie said, “I don’t give holes away. I play a game that doesn’t give much away.”

Montgomerie, a #15 seed, faces Stewart Cink in the next round.


Sweet Sudden Death???

The Thursday matchups gave us some sudden death matches, as extra holes were needed to decide who would move on to the Sweet 16.

If you need ice water for blood, look no further than Steve Stricker, who sank a 50-footer on the 20th hole of the match to secure a victory. Stricker and Tiger Woods are the only two top-seeded players left, after Ernie Els bowed out in the first round to Jonathan Byrd (6 & 5) and Phil Mickelson fell to Stuart Appleby (2 & 1) on Thursday.

The matchup of K.J. Choi vs. Ian Poulter proved that the putter is the difference maker. Choi missed a 4-foot putt to halve the hole on #15, and a 25-foot putt made by Poulter on the 18th hole, sent the match into extra holes. Unfortunately for Poulter, his 5-foot miss on the first extra hole allowed Choi to advance to the next round, and send Poulter off to the showers.

Other extra hole finishes: Woody Austin def. Adam Scott (19), Henrik Stenson def. Trevor Immelman (25).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Go ahead and pick up your ball...

I’ve always felt that the PGA should consider adding another Major championship and this week’s WGC/Accenture Match Play event seems like the perfect fit.

64 professional golfers from around the world will converge on The Gallery (a tough desert & rocky terrain course with tons of bunkers.) to stake their claim as the best Match player in the world.

Just a re-hash on “Match Play”… Two players battle each other over 18 holes or as many needed to decide the “match”. Fewest strokes on the hole win the hole. Most holes won wins the “match”. A player’s opponent can concede putts if they feel necessary. That’s pretty much it.

I’ve included a link to a bracket for those that are interested or need a “warm-up” bracket to fill out before March Madness comes around.

http://i.cdn.turner.com/pgatour/docs/accenture-match-play.pdf

So… who’s your guy?

For those that want to crown Tiger Woods as the winner of the event, go ahead. You’d have a pretty good pick. In 31 matches, Woods is 25-6, which includes victories in 2003 and 2004.

Phil Mickelson comes in hot after his victory at Riviera (Northern Trust Open) last Sunday, but is only 12-8 overall in the WGC Match Play Event and his best finish at this event was 5th place in 2004.

David Toms has an impressive record in this event, 22-7 in 29 matches, with a victory in 2005 and a runner-up in 2003 (Tiger Woods). Count on Toms to at least make it to the Sweet 16.

Last year’s champion, Henrik Stenson is a #4 seed and is in the Hogan bracket with #1 seed, Ernie Els. Els best finish at WGC Match Play was 4th place in 2001, the only time he’s advanced past the 2nd round in this event. Which makes me think that perhaps the seed #s should be switched around (seed #s are based on player’s World Golf Ranking).

But a low seed # doesn’t necessarily translate into victory. 3 of the last 7 winners of this event had seeds higher than #13: Steve Stricker (2001), Kevin Sutherland (2002) & Geoff Ogilvy (2006).

I’ll throw a dart in the dark and take Camilo “Spiderman” Villegas to take it all. He’ll be playing in his first WGC Match Play event and last time I checked, the Arizona desert is home to lots of spiders.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Masters Debate (say that 10 times fast)

Who says I can’t think about a golf tournament that starts 6 weeks from now. It’s not like I’m playing at Augusta National where the fairways are narrower than a one-way street in Paris and the greens are so slick, it’s like putting in your bathtub.

Thank heavens above, I don’t have that worry.

You can probably count on every last golf prognosticator to declare Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson as the favorite going into the Masters (April 10th-13th) and there’s always a litter of past champions who can pull the proverbial rabbit out of their hat, just ask Jack Nicklaus and Ben Crenshaw.

But here are three names (with current 2008 rankings & Current Masters Status) for you to remember in the coming days before the golf world and Martha Burke converge on Bobby Jones’ dreamy little course in Georgia.

Justin Leonard (PGA – 9th, World – 52nd ) CMS: On The Bubble.

He’s charged hard out of the gate with three top-10 finishes so far this year, including a runner-up at the Bob Hope. This is a marked improvement over 2007, where he missed the cut in his first 6 events. He was able to salvage a good year with a victory at the Valero Texas Open last October. Leonard needs to improve his World Ranking to #50 or better if he’s going to qualify for the Masters, but a good start this year has certainly put the 1997 British Open champion in the driver’s seat to a tee time at Augusta.


K.J. Choi (PGA – 3rd, World – 8th) CMS: Exemption for 2008 Masters.

The South Korea native has made serious waves on the Tour recently. Riding into 2008 with 2 victories from the previous year, Choi handily won the Sony Open in Hawai’i for his 3rd tour victory in his last 15 events. He has no Major victories, but he has made 3 out of 4 cuts in Major events, with one top-10 finish to his credit.


Stuart Appleby (PGA-14th, World – 28th) CMS: Exemption for 2008 Masters.

Like Justin Leonard, he got off to a positive start, with 3 top-10 finished in his first 3 events this season (his only 3 so far). His well-balanced golf game has made him riches on the PGA Tour, but it hasn’t translated into any Major championships. He had his best finish (7th) at Augusta last year since missing the cut in 2002. Sure he was the leader going into Sunday, but conditions were so atrocious that the green jacket may as well have been a hot potato amongst everyone on that leaderboard. The bottom is that he’s due and perhaps he can use last year’s collapse at Augusta as a rallying cry.

Friday, February 15, 2008

They Don't Get It

Above every last B.S. piece of rhetoric from Congress that we've heard this past Wednesday, the following was not on the docket.


For all of the players who came through the farm systems of MLB teams and took it upon themselves to play by the rules and NOT use steroids, HGH, or any other league-banned substance, there was always a guy like Clemens, Pettitte or some other player who used a PED to get an illegal edge.

People like Roger Clemens (I'm pretty convinced he used), Andy Pettitte (admitted HGH use) and those players who used PEDs during their baseball careers most likely cost honest, decent players a shot at the bigs... and ultimately, their jobs; simply because the honest player wouldn't put a hazaradous substance into their body.

The players association, the owners and the league turned a blind eye this problem for far too long. And ultimately, with the release of the Mitchell Report the ethics of this problem came to light.

Which is... What does it say about us (players, owners, league) when we have ultimately rewarded 'dirty' players (players who have used PEDs) with roster spots and guaranteed money over those who decided to play by the rules and not use PEDs.

I believe it is this ethical issue that Congress isn't looking at, and shame on all of those gas bags in Washington for wasting all of our time like this.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

2008… Year Of The Pothole?

Those who have driven through the extremes of heavy snowfall, wet icy roads and at often times, ruthless Chicago winter still have one enemy out there, regardless of rain, sleet, snow or shine.

The potholes around the city and the Chicagoland area have seemingly multiplied like rabbits. And since I’m no Science guy, here’s a link as to how potholes form and become potentially larger. Such as the pothole on the Edens Expressway between Willow and Dundee Roads, which has claimed damage on 8 cars already. Don’t worry, though. It’s been filled.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pothole.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-edens-pothole_webfeb14,0,4479776.story

There’s that old Chicago joke about our ‘two’ seasons… Winter and Construction. And there’s still a handful of potholes on Chicago’s highways, as well as countless others on side streets and major thoroughfares, all begging to be filled.

Perhaps we get to add a third season into the joke. Pothole season? Maybe city road workers get to go pothole hunting fitted in Elmer Fudd-like winter caps and galoshes and fill the holes that have plagued the rubbery likes of Goodyear, Bridgestone and Perelli.

You’ve heard of Daley’s ‘Graffiti Blasters’, why not the “Hole Fillers” (innuendoes aside)?

What say you?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Take Me Back, Tina!

I couldn’t remember the last time I watched the Grammys. For me, the awards they’ve bestowed upon countless artists, from one-hit wonders to lasting legends, has seemed trite.

These are the same Grammys that awarded Best Heavy Metal Band to Jethro Tull and Ian Anderson’s edgy flute in 1989. In 1960, the Grammy for Album Of The Year went to Bob Newhart and his comedy release, “The Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart.” He beat out Frank Sinatra’s “Nice ‘n Easy.”

But in all honesty, the highlight for me was watching the one and only Tina Turner, and all 69 beautiful years of her, rocking out to “Proud Mary” with Beyonce Knowles.

Surprising to say, Turner’s performance took me back to a time when I was a younger spud on the couch, circa 1988 watching Closet Classics on MTV (or was it that VH1 Classic Rock show with Peter Noone?) and the video for “Proud Mary" came on with Ike & Tina Turner’s R&B Revue in glorious polyester-vision.

It looked something like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54XRNQ2C2x0

Mind you, the only version of “Proud Mary” that I was familiar with at the time was the version recorded by Creedence Clearwater Revival, which chugs along at a medium pace.

But the Ike & Tina version makes your blood race. It starts slow like a horse trot out of town. But then, almost with a kick to the belly to the horse, “Proud Mary” races to a gallop: the horns chime in, Tina and Turner-ettes give into a wild shimmy shake and Ike strums away on true & hard on his guitar.

At 14, I was completely mesmerized. My brother, Andy, certainly was too, as we both cheered on the revue, as if it were 1972 and we were watching it live for the first time.

I got out of my seat and started doing the swim, chug-a-lugging with my arms, screaming, “BIG WHEELS KEEP ON TURNING! PROUD MARY KEEP ON BURNING!” It was one of those moments for a bored, sloppy Jewish kid to show off his impersonation skills once again.

Oh, and Tina Turner made a slight impression on me, too.

The point is that it wouldn’t matter if it was 1972, 1988 or 2008. Tina Turner still looks and sounds great for being a shade under 70 and her performance last night at the Grammys put a smile on my face.

I only hope she can do the same when she’s 90 and I’m 53.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Bohemian Rhap-'zaa-dee

Pizza Metro
1707 W. Division St.
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 278-1753/(773) 278-1765
http://www.pizzametro.com

The Roman-style rectangular pizza pies at Pizza Metro make a strong case for best pizza in Wicker Park/Ukrainian Village. The crust bakes to a perfect consistency of crunchy outside/chewy inside, with a thickness that is too thick for thin crust, and too thin for deep dish, thus making a happy medium.

Traditional Italian-American dishes fill out the appetizer, salad & sandwich portion of the menu. With fresh desserts and barista-ed coffee drinks for afters.

Sure, they deliver, but its small quarters and cozy makes it the perfect spot for a cheap date or flying solo. Small tables and counter seating make Pizza Metro more bohemian than your average pizza parlor. Don’t be afraid to go in and dine while reading the newspaper. It’s friendly, quiet and the food is worth the price.

Adorned with scarves and crests of European soccer clubs on the walls and with the heat of the oven fogging up the windows, Pizza Metro is a true pizza ‘joint’.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Fat Fought The Law...

Remember this old joke?

‘What has four eyes but still can’t see? Mississippi.’

Perhaps this one would be more appropriate… ‘What has more rolls than all of the bakeries in Mississippi? Mississippians.’

http://www.nrn.com/breakingNews.aspx?id=350296&menu_id=1368

As our nation’s leader in obesity and inactivity, The Magnolia State has decided to take matters into their own hands. Two members of Mississippi’s State legislature have proposed a bill, which would allow health inspectors to revoke restaurant licenses from any establishment that repeatedly feed obese patrons.

The Obesity Action Coalition, albeit physically slow and short of breath, raced to condemn the proposed measure as discriminatory, and is currently pressing the Mississippi House to withdraw the bill.

Even if the Bill comes before the house, which it most likely wont, how would restaurant owners go about protecting their establishments from persecution by the ‘Fat Squad’? How would the State government enforce this law?

Eureka! A contest!

POST YOUR COMMENT BELOW AND TELL ME:

HOW WOULD RESTAURANT OWNERS IN MISSISSIPPI REGULATE OBESE PEOPLE FROM PATRONIZING THEIR RESTAURANT?

OR

HOW WOULD THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI ENFORCE THIS ‘OBESITY’ LAW?

Dammit, now I need a prize.

The best answer given (as determined by me and panel of like-minded individuals) will receive an 18-ball back of Dunlop TI golf balls… FREE (I’ll even pay shipping, if necessary).

If you don’t like golf balls, I’ll take you out for pizza and beer.

But don’t tell anyone in Mississippi.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Watch The Winds At Pebble


The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am uses 3 courses in rotation from Thursday to Saturday (Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill & Poppy Hill). After play concludes on Saturday, the field gets ‘cut’ down to 60 players. Play resumes on Sunday, with Pebble Beach as the course for the championship.

These poor Tour Professionals. They have to go from a frigid Scottsdale desert to a windy No-Cal coastline. But such is winter golf on the PGA Tour and every last pro has to play in it.

However, this week looks fairly pleasant, at least for Pebble Beach. Latest forecasts call for favorable conditions throughout the event, temps in the mid-60s with winds around 5-8 miles per hour.

Club selection is still important on two notable par-3s at Pebble, holes #7 and #17. #7 is only 106 yards from the box, but if the wind should gust, you’re going to see a lot of Pros go back into their bag for a club change. The 178-yard 17th is a deceptive hole and the grandstands can hinder what the wind is actually doing. Any ball down the left side runs the risk of being ocean bound.

HAIRCUT OF THE YEAR!!!

Now that's some creativity!!!

I can't look at it without laughing.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The 'Relentless Pursuit' is overrated

If you were somewhere deep in the rainforests of Brazil and couldn’t get anywhere near a television last night, then you’re excused.

But you missed one hell of a game and arguably the greatest upset in professional sports over the last 50 years. Eli Manning and the New York Giants defeated the well-favored New England Patriots, 17-14 in the NFL Championship (how’s that for not using “Super Bowl” in a sentence?) and thwarted every last Chowder-head’s hopes for an undefeated season.

Not that the Pats looked horrible, so much as they just looked tired, banged up and old. Their number was up. And instead of being that Cinderella that beat a high-octane offense St. Louis Rams squad in SB 36, they were on the receiving end.

The 1972 Miami Dolphins were still able to pop the corks on their champagne and stay on their egocentric mountaintop of undefeated-dom. Even though I still believe that there are a number of teams throughout NFL history that were better, but that’s another argument for another time.

My bottom line is this:

As far as I’m concerned, the 2007 New England Patriots can take this entire season to their grave. Why? You may ask.

In the greater scheme of things, nobody will remember those good-old heart-felt back-stories. I've never cared about how old Junior Seau is, or if Tedy Bruschi had a stroke or no matter how many women are twanging Tom Brady’s wire. Nobody is going to care if that they went 16-0 in the regular season or how many records they set on Offense.

In the pursuit of perfection, it seems to me that they forgot how vulnerable they really were.

Perfection is just a state of mind, but being the BEST is proven on the field.

Perfection dwindles, but Upsets last forever.

The Pats really blew THIS one. The relentless pursuit of perfection left them gassed.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

I WANT THE MONKEYS BACK!!!

For every last football fan and degenerate gambler, it doesn’t get any better than this Sunday’s match between the Giants & Patriots in Glendale, AZ. For everyone else, there are advertisements to watch.

And more often than not, they suck.

http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2008/news/0801/gallery.super_bowl/index.html
http://www.chicagotribune.com/video/?slug=chi-superbowlcommericals-wn

However, careerbuilder.com had the ‘Office Monkeys’. And that was always good for a laugh.

Believe me, when ABC first broadcast “Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp” in 1970, they were way ahead of its time (http://www.70slivekidvid.com/lancelot.htm).

Actors like Clint Eastwood, Tony Danza & Ronald Reagan made their careers and damn good money working side by side with chimps and orangutans. Were they wrong?

How many times have you visited the Primate cage at the zoo and not laughed?

Monkeys are money when it comes to funny.

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