Butler Cabin, Augusta National (c) Burgh Golfer

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanks Golfing Day

As we all recover from too much TPF (Turkey, Pie and Football) and as the 2010 golf season winds down, let’s reflect on the year and what we are thankful for. Around the Thanksgiving table we usually hear the following phrases as thanks. I’ve decided to have a little fun with those commonly used phrases and translate the meaning for us golfers.

• I am thankful for my health -translation; I am thankful to be healthy enough to play the game.

• I am thankful for the turkey -translation; I am thankful for the occasional birdie.

• I am thankful for friends and family -translation; I am thankful for my regular foursome.

• I am thankful for peace in our land -translation; I am thankful that my wife and I don’t fight about my obsession with golf.

• I am thankful for the clothes on my back -translation; I am thankful Knickers went out of style.

• I am thankful for food and shelter -translation; I am thankful for the 19th hole.

• I am thankful to have a job -translation; I am thankful that I don’t need to make three-footers for a paycheck.

• I am thankful for peace of mind -translation; I am thankful that the game has not driven me crazy.

• I am thankful for my teachers -translation; I am thankful for Golf Professionals who fix all the quirks in my swing.

What are you thankful for this year in golf?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Will Tiger win at Chevron?

I watched the very end of the Australian Masters last week and caught a glimpse of the “Old Tiger”. I have not watched every round Tiger has played this year. However, what I saw in those final few holes told me he will be ready to roar again in 2011. In fact, I would not be surprised if he ends the year with a victory at the Chevron World Challenge in early December.

So, how did I come to this realization? Well, it is my humble opinion that Tiger like every other player has streaks of brilliance that lead to victory. This entire year, except on a few occasions, he had trouble developing any kind of streak. Streaks lead to momentum which leads to victories. Last week was different. He found one of those streaks at the end of his final round.

Tiger closed the final round with a 7 under par 65. Which, by the way, included two eagles and two birdies over the final six holes. That’s the Tiger Woods who people are used to seeing. I believe it’s the Tiger Woods who we will see much more of next season. Tiger in all of his greatness still needs confidence to win just like everyone else. With streaks of golf like he displayed last week, his confidence will grow. As his confidence grows, so will his success. Athletes like Tiger do not forget how to win, as some have suggested. He just needs to remember what it feels like to play well. He needs to find his “spark” on the course.

So, if Tiger raises the trophy in victory in a couple of weeks at Chevron it would not be surprising. For a guy who is known for his dramatics on the golf course, a win at Chevron would have the golf world abuzz going into next season. Everyone will be on the lookout for Tiger again if this happens.

                                  Photographer: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images via Bloomberg

Monday, November 15, 2010

Golfer Nicknames

I thought we would have a little fun this week by taking a look at professional golfers who are known by their nickname or a single name. I certainly do not know them all but will try and list as many as I can. Of course, the list has to start with “The King”, Arnold Palmer.

The King – Arnold Palmer

The Golden Bear- Jack Nicklaus

The Squire- Gene Sarazen

The Hawk- Ben Hogan

Byron – Byron Nelson, a.k.a. Iron Byron was named after Byron Nelson

Slamming Sam – Sam Snead

The Black Knight –Gary Player

Merry Mex- Lee Trevino

Chi Chi – Chi Chi Rodriguez

Champagne Tony- Tony Lema

Tiger – Eldrick Tiger Woods

Boom Boom- Fred Couples

Sir Nick- Nick Faldo (post competition)

Lefty or Phil the Thrill – Phil Mickelson

Desert Fox- Johnny Miller

Paddy- Padraig Harrington

Fuzzy- Fuzzy Zoeller

Gentle Ben – Ben Crenshaw

The Shark – Greg Norman

Radar –Mike Reid

The Big Easy – Ernie Els

The Goose- Retief Goosen

Monty – Colin Montgomerie

El Gato – Angel Cabrera

El Nino – Sergio Garcia

Walrus- Craig Stadler

Rors – Rory McIlroy

Seve- Seve Ballesteros

Bulldog- Corey Pavin

Anika- Anika Sorenstam

Pink Panther- Paula Creamer

Lumpy- Tim Herron

Lorena- Lorena Ochoa

The Mechanic – Miguel Angel Jimenez

Boo – Boo Weekley

Babe- Babe Didrikson Zaharias

Zinger – Paul Azinger

The Big Wiesy – Michelle Wie

Two Gloves- Tommy Gainey

I am sure I have missed many others, please add a comment on any you can think of.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Lee Westwood World Number One

Earlier this week Lee Westwood overtook Tiger Woods as the number one male golfer in the world. It is hard to believe that Westwood beat Mickelson to the top spot. Beginning this summer the watch was on for Lefty to take over the top spot but it just never happened.

Granted the World Rankings are not always the most accurate Barometer of the best player in the world however, it does require some attention. Just like College Footballs BCS Rankings, the World Golf Rankings are based on mathematical calculations that can be flawed.

I wonder if Westwood feels like the best player on the planet. I wonder if he woke up the day following taking the top spot and felt different. Do you think he will practice or prepare any harder? Do you think it will add pressure to win a major which he is yet to do? My wife and I went to the US Open a few years ago at Oakmont. I remember commenting to her that it is a rare opportunity to watch a person that is number one in the world in their career at work. That is the great thing about Professional Golf. You can watch these players’ men and women at work. It is one of the few professions whereby you can watch the best in the business in their “office”.

That raises an interesting question, is he the first player to become number one in the world rankings without winning a major championship? The previous number one’s all one majors; Woods, Faldo, Singh, Norman, Duval, Price, Els. As far as I know he is. Not that winning a major is the ultimate barometer of a player’s ability.  However, it is a good measure and he certainly had his chances the past two years.

Many of the top players in the world are playing this week at the HSBC Championship in Shanghai. Westwood will face Woods, Mickelson, Kaymer and Els. He will get a good feel for what it is like to play under the pressure of being number one. If his start, a six under sixty six is any representation then he will do just fine with that title. However, one great week does not a number one player make. In fact, if any of the top four players in the world wins they will overtake Westwood for the top spot. That would make Westwood’s rein a very short one.

To put it into some perspective let’s take a look at some prior number one performances. Greg Norman spent 281 weeks as the number one player in the world. Tiger Woods spent 281 weeks atop the list in prior to losing the ranking to Westwood. In total Woods has spent 623 weeks in the top spot. Or, pretty much his entire career. Knowing Woods this will only fuel his desire more. I would not be surprised to see him win one of the last three events he is playing in this year.

How long do you think Westwood will stay on top of the world rankings? Do you think he deserves to be number one in the world since he has never won a major championship?

Source; Andrew Redington/Getty Images