Category Archives: Opinion

2015 Season Preview For Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroyRory McIlroy is three-fourths of the way to the career Slam at age 25, with four total Major victories to his trophy case. The Major Championship that has eluded the No.1 player in the world up to this point has been the first of the season.

The green jacket.

What’s a bit ironic is that McIlroy had the opportunity to make the Masters his first Major title in his career back in 2011. He had a big lead through 54 holes and was the leader after each of the first three rounds. Continue reading

Start Of 2014-15 PGA Tour Season Begins With Open

PGA TourThe new era of the PGA Tour will begin it’s second go-around with the quick flip from one season to the next. Just last month, Billy Horschel took the FedEx Cup Championship with two victories in the Playoffs capped off by the win at the Tour Championship in Atlanta.

From there, we had the Ryder Cup that was dominated by Team Europe.

Now, the start of the 2014-15 PGA Tour season is upon us this week, beginning with the Open this Thursday, October 9th. Continue reading

FedEx Cup Playoff Recap, 2014 Ryder Cup Betting Lines + More

2014 Ryder CupPlaying well at the end of the season is the key to winning the FedEx Cup.

Billy Horschel certainly proved that.

You didn’t really hear Horschel’s name much throughout the course of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season. But the former Florida Gator turned it on when he needed to down the home stretch of the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Horschel actually stood in 82nd position following The Barclays, in which he missed the cut. But he eventually made it through to the top-70 at the BMW Championship, winning that and vaulting into the Tour Championship.

Piggybacking off of that momentum, Horschel held off the likes of Rory McIlroy and Jim Furyk down the stretch at the Tour Championship in Atlanta to capture the season’s final event.

Oh, that victory also won him the FedEx Cup Championship and $10 million.

The win caps off a memorable PGA tour season, but there is still one more huge event on the horizon at the end of this month. The 2014 Ryder Cup gets underway the last weekend of September, where the top players from the United States and Europe come together to compete in one of the great sport events in the world.

Taking place at Gleneagles Hotel, betting odds to win the 2014 Ryder Cup have been out for several months. Now that the teams have been announced however, the payouts are beginning to heat up, and more lines have been released.

On the surface, Europe has been set as significant favorite over the United States, going off at -185 on the payout ($1.85 wins $1). A wager on the U.S. has been installed at +175 ($1 wins $1.75).

From there, Bovada has broken betting lines up into different days. Wagers on the Day 1 winner, Foursomes winner, and Fourballs winner have been established, with every payout in favor of Europe.

The only day that has yet to be released is the final day with the singles matches. In the past, the United States has been the favorite here, seen as the team with more talent. But for the first time in several years, Europe is perceived to be the team with better individual talent.

Tiger Woods Says He Is Not Ready For Ryder Cup, Frees Up Tom Watson To Pick

Tiger WoodsRyder Cup Captain Tom Watson has said for the last several months that he is seriously considering picking Tiger Woods as one of his selections.

He won’t be able to anymore.

On Wednesday, Woods officially withdrew his name from consideration by Watson as a Ryder Cup Captain selection for the event which begins at the end of September from Gleneagles Country Club.

It’s not all surprising that Woods made this decision, at the advice of his doctors. It was the right decision, as this will give him plenty of time to recover from his back injury, which he likely reaggravated by coming back too soon. Woods is most recently coming off of a missed cut at the 2014 PGA Championship. Prior to that, he had did not play a factor at the WGC Bridgestone where he was the defending champion, and one good round at the British Open over the course of four days.

With Woods withdrawing from 2014 Ryder Cup consideration, it probably takes a lot of pressure off Watson and makes his job easier. Either way Watson went with it, there was going to be a big story that followed. This now alleviates that potential storyline, and gives the U.S Team and media plenty of time to prepare for the Ryder Cup knowing well in advance Woods will not be a part of the team.

This also means that we might see Watson pick his team earlier than the September 2 deadline. If Woods had remained steadfast in wanting to be picked, Watson would have probably wanted to give him the maximum amount of time to heal and get his game in shape.

The U.S. team will be facing an uphill challenge regardless of whether Woods would have been on the team. In fact, they might be better off, but still will be the underdogs against the European squad.

Europe happens to have the last three Major winners in Rory McIlroy (twice), and Martin Kaymer. They also have Sergio Garcia, who has been playing very well over the last six months in contending for Major Championships.

To be fair though, Europe has been perceived to be underdogs over the last decade or so in each Ryder Cup, and have contended very well, dominating the U.S. squad on the whole. And let’s not forget the the U.S. has guys like Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, and more. These players are all well prepared to take on the hostile environment that they will face.

The Ryder Cup remains one of the premiere in sports, and should be chock-full of intensity and pressure.

It’s Time To Start Talking About Rory And Jack, Not Tiger And Jack

Rory McIlroyRory McIlroy is the third player in history to win three majors by the age of 25. The other two are Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

While the majority of focus on Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 Majors has centered around if Woods can break it or not, perhaps we should start taking a look at McIlroy.

At just 25 years old, McIlroy is one Major win from the career slam if he were to win the Masters. His next opportunity to close out all four Major woulds be in April. But his next opportunity to win a Major will be in a couple of weeks for the PGA Championship. McIlroy captured the 2011 PGA Championship by a whopping eight shots.

The win at the 2014 Open Championship has shifted the way that McIlroy is being thought of, and more importantly the way that he thinks of himself. It’s been no secret over the course of the last 18 months that McIlroy has struggled with his game. It was just over a year ago that he walked off the course in the middle of the Nissan Open. It is a move that he regrets, but has learned from.

It hasn’t been a fast process, but McIlroy looks like he is well on his way back to the top of the golf world. He is now the No.2 ranked player in the world, and has Adam Scott in his sights to chase down No.1 and reclaim that top spot once more.

He will get the chance to do that at the 2014 PGA Championship, and there is no doubt that he will come in confident.

What is he wins?

That would give McIlroy four Major victories, still 14 behind Nicklaus. But if McIlroy is somehow able to get a couple more Major over the next two of three years, that would legitimately put him in the conversation of becoming the all-time leader.

McIlroy has the talent to win every Major that he enters. But what’s more important, is that he is one of only a handful of players that can win a Major Championship when he isn’t playing his best. Only Woods, and a couple others out there can make that claim.

McIlroy appears to have turned a corner, and if he is able to seize the moment and turn it on over the next few years, we could be looking at a player that has the opportunity to become golf’s next superstar.

And with golf trending down in popularity, that is exactly what the sport needs right now.

What Can We Expect From Tiger Woods At The 2014 British Open?

Tiger WoodsTiger Woods returned to the PGA Tour a few weeks ago at the Quicken Loans National at Congressional Country Club, a tournament that benefits Woods’ foundation. He admitted that had it not, he would have not played in the tournament.

The goal since the surgery has been the British Open.

But with Woods missing the cut at Congressional, it certainly raises questions about what kind of form he will be in when it comes time to tee it up at the Open Championship next week. The good news is that this is a golf course that Woods has won on, capturing the 2006 British Open.

The bad news, or rather the uncertainty of it all is what game Woods will bring with him overseas to Hoylake. It’s a good thing that he was able to get competitive rounds in, but can we realistically expect woods to be in the mix on Sunday?

The likely answer is no.

Look, we are the first ones to praise Woods on his accomplishments, but that is the player that he was. The player that he is now is a wildcard. We simply do not know what to expect and he has shown no signs of finding top form heading into the third Major Championship of the season. And lest we forget this is actually the first for Woods since the 2013 PGA Championship.

Woods missed the Masters and the U.S. Open in the same season for the first time in his career. This layoff is a bit different than those he has suffered in the past, simply based on the fact that he is 38 years old. Father time is bearing down on the number of legitimate chances Woods will have at moving beyond 14 Majors, a number that he has been stuck on since June of 2008. That is more than six years since Woods has won a Major.

To put that into perspective, Barack Obama wasn’t even in the White House at that point, he was merely in the process of running for his first term.

Unfortunately, we really didn’t get the chance to see Woods much because he only played 36 holes at Congressional. It would have been nice to see him make the weekend and show signs of coming back.

For now, his progress is being made away from the spotlight and on the practice tee. You can bet that Woods has this one marked on his calendar as a chance to get No.15.

What bodes well for Woods is that when he won in 2006, he hit just one driver off the tee. Certainly you can expect somewhat of a different setup, but if Woods keeps it in the fairway, he can avoid going off the tee with a driver.

This could give him the opportunity he needs.

Pinehurst No.2 Will Present Entirely New Challenge At 2014 U.S. Open

2014 U.S. OpenEach Major Championship has something unique to offer players and fans. The Masters has the tradition, the British Open has the links-style test, and the PGA Championship is exclusive to professionals in addition to the course layout being notoriously long.

And then there is the U.S. Open.

The second Major Championship of the year is upon us this week, as the United States Golf Association gets set to put on the 2014 U.S. Open from Pinehurst No.2. The U.S. Open is widely perceived to be the toughest test that players face all season long. The goal for the USGA is to have the winner set at even par. Compared to other events (even Major Championships) on the PGA Tour, having a winner finish at or above even par is quite the task these days. But the USGA has become the forefront authority for course layouts and pin locations designed to test every fiber of a player’s nerves and skill.

Pinehurst No.2 is hosting the U.S. Open for the third time in 15 years, but looks nothing like any of the previous two. The course will also host the U.S. Women’s Open next week on the LPGA Schedule, marking the first time the same venue will hold the championships in the same year.

A complete overhaul to the course layout means that players will be playing a different U.S. Open at Pinehurst than before. For one, there is no rough. That has been replaced by sand-like conditions outside of the fairways. They aren’t quite bunkers, but it isn’t quite rough. Whatever it is, players will most certainly be penalized if they stray from the fairway.

The problem is that there are a lot of Par 4 with the yardage starting with a ‘5’, and a par 5 starting with a ‘6’. That means that the golf course will be playing extremely long and players might be forced to hit driver on some of the holes if they hope to hit the greens in regulation.

While that might tend to favor the long hitters, it won’t if they can’t put it in the fairway. U.S. Opens place a premium on hitting fairways, and this might be the epitome of that sentiment.

But Pinehurst No.2 doesn’t let up after the tee shot. In fact, the course is most well-known for the turtleback greens that make it very difficult to hold. The greens have faded to the background because of the new look, but make no mistake this is where the tournament will be won.

Phil Mickelson said earlier this week that he believes he has a great chance based on his short game alone. With the greens difficult to hold, it will place an emphasis on creativity around the greens and saving pars.

Don’t be surprised if the winning score this week is above par. Players might have a tough time adjusting to the new layout with weird lies sure to happen in the sand.

Will Jordan Spieth Win A Major In 2014?

Jordan SpiethThose in the golf arena knew who Jordan Spieth was before the 2014 Masters.

Now, the rest of the world does.

Spieth, who finished runner-up to Bubba Watson a few days ago, will be a headliner in whatever tournament he plays in for about the next year at least. And if he continues to have more success, he could be the next big thing in golf in America.

At the start of the front-nine on Sunday, it looked like Spieth could be the one wearing the green jacket at the end of the day. But a four-shot swing in two holes to close out the front nine shut the door on that.

Still, Spieth gained a lot of followers on Sunday. He is only 20 years old, has a win on the PGA Tour at 19 years old, and played in the Presidents Cup last year. Going forward for the marquee events like the PLAYERS Championship, U.S. Open, and the other two Majors, Spieth will be a favorite to win.

The biggest question will be how Spieth responds to the disappointment of losing the Masters. He won’t get much time to dwell on it, as he teed it up this week in South Carolina at the RBC Heritage. Spieth is paired with 2014 Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson, matching the Youngest player and oldest player in the field.

Spieth has all the makings of being a superstar. He doesn’t hit the ball very far, but he is polished. Of course, any player on tour could look like a short hitter compared to teeing off with Bubba Watson. There were times where Spieth was 50-70 yards behind the now two-time Masters Champion.

And Spieth finishing second isn’t the only big story as far as how they respond. There is plenty on Bubba Watson. The last time he won the Masters he went into a virtual slump. He finally won again two months ago in California, his first since the Masters win in 2012. Watson admitted that he is more prepared to play other tournaments as a Masters winner, and we can look forward to him contending in the Majors.

Don’t be surprised to see Spieth and Watson in contention for the U.S. Open, British Open, and the PGA Championship.

If Spieth performs well, he can help golf fans through the absence of Tiger Woods, whose return to golf following back surgery is still to be determined.

Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews Wants Vote To Allow Female Members

Royal & AncientGentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden.

That’s one of the acronyms that’s been attached to golf in times when the issue of men and women have come into play over the past.

First is was Augusta National, which received plenty of attention for not allowing women members. Then they admitted Condoleezza Rice as the first female member ever.

Now, the R&A (Royal & Ancient), the governing body of golf in Europe has asked for a potential vote in September to allow female members.

St. Andrews, where the R&A is based, is considered the home of golf and has a very historic significant within the game. This vote could be huge in terms of growing the games for women over in Europe and as well as elsewhere around the world. The current members of the R&A are being asked to support the proposition set forward by it.

While it seems rather crazy that in this day and age people are still not admitted based on gender, the fact of the matter is that golf clubs around the world still have a strict policy. Even in the United States, there are golf clubs that do not permit women on the grounds of the club. Augusta received a lot of attention because the golf course is home to the Masters. But there arem any where PGA Tour events are not held that invoke the same policy of male membership only.

If golf wants to continue to move forward, decisions like the one made the R&A are very important. You would think that governing bodies want to make the game as accessible as possible to all. Of course, there are other issues affecting golf that is hindering its growth. Such issues include the length of a round and how much it costs to play the game.

Golf remains a very expensive sport to play, which automatically limits those that will have the capability to play.

And let’s not forget that the game is extremely difficult to play as it is. Adding things like this would tend to decrease those numbers.

The R&A has certainly made the right decision to move this to a vote and try to open up the membership base. This could be the start of something great, and come July at the British Open there should be plenty of support for it.

Tiger Woods Missing Arnold Palmer Is A Good Sign For His Appearance At The Masters

Tiger WoodsThe news that Tiger Woods withdrew from the 2014 Arnold Palmer Invitational shouldn’t be particularly concerning for fans of the No.1 ranked golfer in the world.

Woods has won the Arnold Palmer Invitational eight times in his career, and with a ninth would break the all-time record for most wins at a single event by any player in history. Woods loves playing at Bay Hill, probably almost as much as he loves playing at Augusta.

That love for playing in the Masters could be the underlying theme here. With the 2014 Masters less than a month away, Woods and his team probably knew that the only way his back has a chance of being 100 percent for the first Major Championship of the year was to take an extended break and focus on resting.

Woods probably needed some tough convincing to withdraw this week on the advice of his doctors and surrounding cast. If anything, Woods has been stubborn and hard-headed in the past when it comes to injuries. He has routinely played at less than 100 percent and has probably missed more time because of it.

The fact that Woods is 48 and his window of consistently contending for Majors is dwindling likely played a factor here. Woods is not a fast healer like he might have been 10 years ago. The fact is that his body is quite a bit different. While Woods remains in fantastic shape, he is approaching 40 and the body reacts to events differently.

While we might not get a chance to see Woods in action at Bay Hill this week, we all would much rather see him 100 percent at the Masters the second week in April.

Woods remains at 14 Major Championship victories, with the last coming in 2008 at the U.S. Open. If Woods does not win the Masters, it will be a full six years since that U.S. Open victory that Woods will have last won a Major Championship. That seems almost impossible considering how he has been in contention over these last six years, only to fail to produce.

The way that the slate of Majors sets up in 2014 though is very appealing for him. Woods has Major wins on three of the four courses, with the only one he hasn’t won on being Pinehurst for the U.S. Open. In 2005, the last time that U.S. Open was held at Pinehurst, Woods finished second to Michael Campbell.

At the very least, Woods has to be confident that he has had plenty of success on the Major Championship venues for this season.