Butler Cabin, Augusta National (c) Burgh Golfer

Saturday, April 23, 2011

8th R. Jay Sigel Amateur Match Play Championship

The competitive golf season is going to begin early this year. I stopped by our club last month prior to the Doral trip to get a few things and ran into our Head Pro. He informed me that I had been invited to play in the PA State Match Play Championship. I was shocked to say the least and inquired about the event and field. He then dropped the bomb on me saying it was a field consisting of the top fifteen amateurs in the state and me. Me, I said, why me? He said because we are the host site this year for the event and you are the reigning Club Champion. At this point I was a bit shocked and joked, hey; at least it is match play, right?

To top it off the spring this year has not been very cooperative for golf, cold and wet. So, with only a few rounds under the belt and no real practice or short game prep we shall see how it goes. With only nine days until the event I will only get in three rounds of practice at most so I will need to make it pay off. Thankfully, I have this coming Monday off for the holiday and it is going to be warm so I will be able to get some reps in.

The event is named after Jay Sigel one of the greatest amateur golfers in the state’s history. Jay won many USGA events, played on Walker Cups and went on to a successful Champions Tour career.

I have a list of reminders that I follow when I play match pay events to help keep me focused. So, we shall see if that helps against some of the best amateurs around.

Wish me luck I am going to need it.  Either way it will be a great experience and a lot of fun!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

2011 Masters - Rory McIlroy tied for the lead

The first round of The Masters Golf Tournament is in the books and what a day it has been. I watched an unusual amount of Pre-Masters coverage this week and there were plenty of storylines. Mickelson, Woods, Nicklaus got a lot of the headlines. One guy who did not get a lot of attention was Rory McIlroy. Of course, why should he? Although he is a young, talented, exciting player, he has only been to The Masters twice before today. The analysts told us several times this week that the past winners averaged six Masters Tournaments before putting on the Green Jacket. Since this is McIlroy’s third trip it would be unusual to see him win for sure. Of course, another young player won his third time around at Augusta, you may have heard of him – Tiger Woods.

So, will the young lad continue his good play? Will he make a run at winning the 2011 Masters Tournament? Will he wilt under the pressure or hang in there until the back nine on Sunday?

I have no doubt Rory has the talent to win any golf tournament he enters. He has the length, hits the ball way up in the air, and can move the ball on command. He also knows how to make a lot of birdies down the stretch as he proved last year in winning in Charlotte.

However, Augusta National is not your average golf course or tour stop. I know we will see a lot of changes to the course over the next three days as the weather heats up and the Superintendent makes changes to the course layout. Even though he has played many practice rounds and has charted the greens, the one thing he cannot prepare for are the conditions. Has McIlroy ever played the course firm and fast? Has he ever played the course at its full length?

If I were a betting man I would say Rory will play a fairly conservative round tomorrow and will likely shoot a couple under par. From there he will be at or near the lead going into the weekend. That is when we will find out what kind of player he has become. At some point he will face a tough stretch of holes or run into to some problems with his game. How he handles those moments will go a long way in determining his end result this week. He is young and relatively inexperienced at Augusta National. In the two previous years that he has played The Masters, I do not think he has seen the course play firm and fast.

Last December in my post titled 2010 Professional Golf Year in Review; Transition, I stated that Rory would dominate the sport within five years. If he does go on to win this year’s Masters that prediction will certainly be fast tracked. Finally, if he does win, I wonder if he’ll be as excited on the 18th green as he looks in the picture below. He just might.

Do you think Rory will hold on to win?

                                                               Source; Robert Beck/SI

Friday, April 1, 2011

2011 Masters Golf Championship - Predictions

Spring is right around the corner and we golfers are looking forward to it. For most people the sign of spring includes; longer days, the grass turning green or flowers blooming. Not for me, the sign of spring is the Masters commercials on CBS and the Golf Channel. Kind of strange, but once you see the images of Augusta and hear Jim Nantz say “The Masters” you know that golf season is nearby.

This time last year a group of us had the opportunity to go the Monday practice round at the Masters. We wrapped our spring golf trip around the event, if you recall we played Pinehurst and TPC Piper Glen. Needless to say, it was a dream come true as a golf fan to walk the hallowed grounds of Augusta National. Two things struck me throughout the day while we were there. First, how much grass there is on the property. I know I know it is a golf course so there should be a lot of grass. That is not what I am referring to, there is grass everywhere even outside of the course. This is no ordinary grass, it feels different to walk on it and it certainly looks different. You cannot find a weed, dead spot, brown spot or any blemish anywhere on the site. I could not believe it, the place is meticulously kept. The second thing that struck me was how nice everyone was. I was kind of expecting the staff and members to be a little stuck up. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, as our day concluded we went to the practice tee to watch a few pros work on their game. The tournament director walked by, stopped and spoke to us for awhile. He could not have been nicer or more welcoming.

Now let’s get on to the predictions for this year’s Masters Golf Tournament. I believe it will be exciting as it always is because of all the young guns playing well right now. As always Tiger, Phil and Angel will be in the mix. However, I am predicting this year’s winner to be Dustin Johnson. My prediction is based upon a few factors. First, Dustin has been close in majors a few times now and is used to the Championship setting. He has felt the pressure, understands the expectations and realizes he needs to be patient. Second, he is VERY long, which is always a big factor in producing the winner at Augusta National. Finally, he has great touch for a big dude and we all know the importance of that at Augusta.

Others I see playing well are Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood and Bubba Watson. Some of the young guns to watch are Hunter Mahan, Rory McIlroy, Ricky Barnes, Rickie Fowler and Ryan Moore.

Who do you like to win this year’s Masters? Please post a comment with any predictions you would like to share?