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Bloody Sunday for Americans at Ryder Cup

Posted by Bill Koch on October 3, 2010

I’m not even sure if I want to get up at 4 a.m. to watch the conclusion of what is shaping up to be an American execution at the 2010 Ryder Cup.

This might be my favorite golf competition of them all, ranked above The Masters and the U.S. Open, but not when it goes like it did Saturday. Europe dominated from start to finish and will take a 9.5-6.5 lead into the predawn hours here on the East Coast for the Ryder Cup’s first ever Monday finish.

The Americans were exposed by the Euros’ superior depth on Saturday, as all 12 players from each team were in action in both the four-ball and alternate-shot formats. No matter the rules, the Euros showed no mercy and were able to turn around the 6-4 advantage that the Americans built through the rain-soaked opening two days of play.

Another weather suspension pushed Sunday’s play back into the Welsh evening, but nothing could have stopped the solid play of the hosts and the poor play of their guests from continuing. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, the alleged No. 1 and No. 2 players in the world, respectively, can stand at the head of the goat line for the Americans. Woods suffered the worst Ryder Cup loss of his career when he and Steve Stricker were crushed 6 and 5 by Luke Donald and Lee Westwood and Mickelson has contributed nothing to the proceedings in three days – he’s 0-3 while partnering with young guns Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler. Westwood, meanwhile, has been absolutely brilliant and is now officially The Best Player To Have Never Won A Major, a title that Mickelson held for so long before breaking through at Augusta in 2004.

Yes, I’ll probably be tuned in sometime before the sun comes up this morning to see how this all ends up. This feeling I’m having right now is similar to two other sporting moments in my lifetime, and they both turned out pretty well – the 1999 Ryder Cup at The Country Club in Brookline and the 2004 ALCS when the Boston Red Sox battled the New York Yankees. I was pretty hopeless in both of those circumstances and those were two miracles that ended up going my way. Do I expect the same thing to happen in Wales tomorrow? It doesn’t matter. Like I told my Dad when he ripped me for time-wasting while watching Game 4 in 2004, I just have to see what happen this time.

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Americans off to promising Ryder Cup start

Posted by Bill Koch on October 2, 2010

More early Ryder Cup action equals more bonus coverage from the crew here at Ramble On. As we said yesterday, tape delay isn’t something that we have ever believed in. Since work is going to get in the way a little later today, we’re going to stick in through the end of the four-ball matches that were continued from yesterday’s rain-soaked mess at Celtic Manor and drop some pre-dawn knowledge on all of our East Coast fans. We’re not limiting this to five thoughts – it could end up being seven, nine or 13 – but we promise that no filter will be used at any time.

Lavender sweaters and sweater vests? Who the f%$& do we think we’re going to intimidate wearing lavender sweaters and sweater vests? David Beckham might live in Los Angeles now, but that doesn’t mean that we should allow his metrosexual bulls^%$ to cross the Atlantic Ocean with him. How does that fit into our traditional red, white and blue? Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and Hugo Boss all live in the United States – they couldn’t have taken five minutes apiece and given our guys a little help in the name of patriotism? This boozed-up Euro crowd hardly needed any more motivation to absolutely hammer us.

— Great to hear Johnny Miller and the rest of the NBC crew taking over for the crybabies at ESPN. If we had heard Mike Tirico, Curtis Strange and Paul Azinger tell us that it was raining and that the golf course was wet one more time yesterday we would have sent them to the same jungle where Forrest Gump got monsooned on for four straight months to let them see what real downpours look like. Miller is refreshingly blunt and won’t be afraid to call out the chokers and the phonies on either team.

This 14th hole looks like an absolute bastard to play, and we think it’s going to be a major turning point in several matches this weekend. It’s a merciless, snaking, 485-yard monster of a par-4 that will test even the strongest of wills with forced carries over water off the tee and into the green. The fact that Dustin Johnson rinsed his tee shot while trailing with Phil Mickelson is no shock to us – we’ve been telling you for months that Johnson was gutless under pressure and they were BY FAR the worst-performing of the eight teams that teed it up to open the competition.

— How has Jeff Overton never won on the PGA Tour? He started off with back-to-back birdies that helped he and partner Bubba Watson open up a 2-up lead after 11 holes. Overton’s making putts and looking solid just like he did yesterday.

— Steve Stricker is carrying Tiger Woods right now. That ridiculous chip-in on No. 12 makes it three birdies in five holes and puts the momentum squarely with the Americans, who have just taken a 1-up lead. You’ll see that shot on highlight packages throughout the weekend.

— There’s another horrendous mistake from Johnson – a bladed chip shot at No. 15 that a 16-handicapper wouldn’t throw out there at your local country club. Way to scull it across the green and into the bunker, Dustin. My Dad, who plays exactly once a year, thinks you should practice more. Johnson left Mickelson all alone against the birdie putts of Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood, and the Euros moved 2-up with three to play. That pretty much seals an early lead for the hosts in the competition.

— Make that four straight birdies for Overton, and the American rookies have taken a 3-up lead through 12. Overton and Watson look really loose and confident right now – pretty much the opposite of how Mickelson and Johnson look.

— Don’t worry if you miss anything from Kaymer this weekend – you’ll be seeing him doing this Ryder Cup thing for years to come. The sand shot he hit from a greenside bunker at No. 16 to finish off Mickelson and Johnson was a thing of beauty. That’s the sort of steel that won Kaymer the PGA Championship and separates him from the likes of Johnson and the rest of the pretenders.

— Hope the fans in Wales brought their helmets. Tiger just fanned a tee shot so far to the right at No. 15, a driveable par-4, that he missed the first chunk of the 12-deep gallery and hit the spectators atop the hill next to the green. All the talk will turn to Tiger’s swing changes and the work he’s doing with Sean Foley to rationalize and avoid the truth here – Tiger’s a broken man, mentally and physically, and he’s a long way away from being able to win anything outside of a $2 weekend Nassau with Rachel Uchitel.

— Looks like a good night’s sleep did wonders for Rory McIlroy. The kid’s talent is undeniable, which is why we were a bit surprised that he started so poorly on Friday. Right on cue, McIlroy stormed out of the gate with three birdies in five holes on Saturday morning to bring himself and teammate Graeme McDowell all square with Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar heading to the 18th. McIlroy’s curling, left-to-right putt at the par-3 17th was the type of long distance bomb that the Euros always seem to make against the Americans.

— That’s a pretty disgusting number that NBC just threw up on the screen. In the last 33 Ryder Cup matches that have gone to the 18th hole, the Americans have four wins, 12 losses and 17 halves for a grand total of 12.5 out of a possible 33 points. That’s about as pathetic under pressure as you can get.

— Kuchar and McDowell each made routine pars at 18 to ensure each team a half-point. That’s Europe 1.5, USA 0.5 if you’re scoring at home. Considering the way McIlroy heated up when the match was continued this morning, we’ll take it.

— Overton and Watson only needed a par at the 16th to roll past Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington, 3 and 2. That’s a terrific start for the rookies and a bit of a blow to the Euros’ confidence – they expected nothing short of a full point from the team of Donald and Harrington, two salty veterans. We’re all even at 1.5-1.5 with Stricker and Woods on the cusp of an improbable win in their match.

— Dan Hicks is trying to set the stage for Woods to drop in a birdie at 17 to win the match against Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher. He’s babbling on and on about how Woods has been so lethal in the past in these situations, about how Woods was the game’s best pressure putter when he was winning his 14 career majors and about how he almost expected Woods to make this putt based on his history. History, Dan, is in the past. Woods blew his putt through the break and past the right edge to send the match to the 18th hole.

— Tiger continues to make a mess out there, and Steve Williams shifted into Gestapo mode like he always does after Woods pulled his second shot well into the gallery at the par-5 18th. Woods fluffed his third shot, a simple chip down the hill into the green, and Williams had the nerve to be stern with the patrons who were trying to get out of the way while Woods was playing Pong off their legs with his golf ball. Cool it with the attitude, Steve. If your boss didn’t hit it into the people so often your blood pressure would be a lot lower.

— Fisher and Poulter couldn’t find a way to make a birdie at the 18th, handing Stricker and Woods a 2-up victory in their match and pushing the Americans out to a 2.5-1.5 lead. That’s a huge psychological advantage for the USA, one that it built on in 2008 at Valhalla and rode the rest of the way to a huge upset of the Euros. Let’s see what happens the rest of the day and the weekend. Don’t forget to check in here at Ramble On for occasional updates.

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Ramble On’s (American) guide to the 2010 Ryder Cup

Posted by Bill Koch on September 8, 2010

We don’t exactly envy Corey Pavin and the choices he had to make this year for the United States Ryder Cup team.

We’ve sifted through the list of available players and found very few options that we think could beat the European team on their home soil at Celtic Manor Resort in Wales. The Euros are loaded with veterans like Lee Westwood and Luke Donald and star-studded rookies like Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer. It’ll take something special for the U.S. to avoid a similar drubbing to the one it received at The K Club in 2006, an 18.5-9.5 skunking that had the Americans running for cover.

Still, we’ll be tuned in and watching. Here’s a breakdown of the American team, Ramble On-style of course, with the four captain’s picks at the bottom of the page. (And yes, You Know Who and his selection are discussed in depth.)

— Phil Mickelson
Which Mickelson will show up in Wales? Will it be the hacker who used the 2004 Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills to make equipment changes and sunk like a stone or the stud who rattled Augusta this season to win his third Green Jacket? Will it be the guy who hits it long, dazzles around the greens and makes a ton of birdies or the slasher who is a nightmare partner in the four-ball and alternate shot formats? That’s the problem. He’s the U.S. team’s most veteran player – this is his eighth Ryder Cup appearance – and we still have no idea what to expect.

— Hunter Mahan
I’ve heard Johnny Miller say at least twice this season that he can’t understand how Mahan doesn’t win more often. This guy’s game is so complete – solid off the tee, good iron player, very steady putter – and somehow he’s still not a superstar. He tied for eighth at The Masters and went downhill from there, missing the cut at the U.S. Open and not cracking the top-35 at either of the season’s final two majors. He doesn’t get us all that hot and bothered.

— Bubba Watson
We’ll come right out and admit that we have a little bit of a man crush on this guy. Watson hits it a country mile and is like a wizard with the golf ball – nothing he hits is straight and we’d probably pay to watch him hit trick shots on the driving range. He’s a juiced up version of Lee Trevino, who was a superb 6-2-2 in singles matches and took home 20 of a possible 30 points in matches he played during his Ryder Cup career. Pairing Watson with Mickelson or Woods seems like a natural fit – they might find in each other the only men who can hit the ball into deep trouble and consistently find a way to get it out.

— Jim Furyk
He’s still one of the most accurate strikers of the golf ball and one of the best pure putters on the planet, but for some reason Furyk goes begging at the Ryder Cup. His 8-13-3 career mark in his previous six appearances stems from not making enough birdies to win in a match play format. Par is good enough to win holes in your average weekend Nassau, but that doesn’t get it done against elite competition. At the very least, let’s hope Furyk has his cell phone charged and at least three wake-up calls scheduled for each morning of play.

— Steve Stricker
Can Stricker extend his usual fall form for one extra month? He never finished out of the top-25 through the first 10 FedEx Cup playoff events, starting in 2008, but his first Ryder Cup appearance ended in disappointment. Stricker was a miserable 0-2-1 while the U.S. was routing Europe at Valhalla.

— Dustin Johnson
This guy has disaster written all over him. He’s a choke artist who flamed out on Sunday at the U.S. Open and was miscast as the victim after grounding his club in a bunker at the PGA Championship this year. Why was Johnson’s tee shot on the 72nd hole 30 yards right to begin with? It’s a question that still hasn’t been asked or answered – everyone wants to hammer Pete Dye and his course design – but we’d like to suggest that the patrons at Celtic Manor have their helmets ready if Johnson gets involved in a match that goes to the final three holes. His golf ball will likely be headed their way.

— Jeff Overton
Forgive us if we’re skeptical about whether or not Overton is up to the challenge. He’ll likely be watching from the sidelines at least once during each of the first two days due to a résumé that lacks any sort of highlights. He finished second this year at three second-tier PGA Tour events (the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the HP Byron Nelson Championship and the Greenbrier Classic) and built up points much like Brett Wetterich did to qualify for the 2006 team. Don’t remember Wetterich? You shouldn’t – he’s played in just 23 PGA Tour events since 2007.

— Matt Kuchar
He’s the one player the U.S. has who is playing well coming into the competition. Kuchar is finally starting to deliver on the promise he showed when he won the 1997 U.S. Amateur, finishing in the top-10 at a pair of majors this year and never outside the top-27. He won The Barclays at the end of August, adding to his tour lead in top-10 finishes this season, and has the game and the nerve to hold his own against Europe’s best.

— Zach Johnson
Johnson has very quietly put together a decent finish to the 2010 season, tying for third at the PGA Championship and battling back to 15th in the world rankings. He’s one of the few Americans who enjoyed the trip to The K Club in 2006, finishing 1-1-1 in three matches during his rookie appearance. Johnson is the type of steady rock who needs to be paired with another steady rock (Stricker, Mahan, Cink, Furyk) in the alternate shot format. The temptation to tame Mickelson or Watson by pairing them with Johnson is a foolish one. He can’t get it out of the trouble that they find.

— Stewart Cink
Cink is making his fifth straight Ryder Cup appearance, and this selection feels more like a career achievement award. He built up most of his points during the 2009 season, winning The Open Championship in a playoff against Tom Watson and finishing in the top-10 at a pair of World Golf Championship events. Cink has a decent game – he’s plenty long off the tee and a good iron player – but we’re not so sure if he’s got everything clicking right now.

— Rickie Fowler
Pavin picked Fowler based on his 7-1 record in the Walker Cup, the amateur version of this competition, but that doesn’t mean that Fowler is going to make an easy transition to the next level. He has little to no professional experience playing in major championships, World Golf Championships or anything else that’s noteworthy. Fowler is here because Anthony Kim’s game has gone in the tank over the past month, Boo Weekley couldn’t recapture the magic that made him to toast of Valhalla in 2008, J.B. Holmes would need a machete to chop out of the rough that awaits at Celtic Manor and David Duval’s allergies wouldn’t allow him to stare at green grass for that long. As they say on the other side of the pond, Fowler is there just to make up the numbers.

— Tiger Woods
For those of you who have made it this far, congratulations. Here’s your reward – it’s Tiger time.

If we were in charge of the U.S. Ryder Cup team, there is absolutely no way that even the threat of spending the next 100,000,000 years in the fires of hell would have been enough to scare us into picking Tiger for this team. There are so many reasons that we could cite that we could waste even more of your time, but we’ll go with these.

— Tiger was a distraction before everything in his personal life exploded. Players wither in his presence and in front of galleries that explode in size when he’s in their group. His Ryder Cup teammates are going to be asked continuously about his personal life and whether or not that’s hurt his game by a European press corps who isn’t as scared of Tiger as the American writers seem to be. The galleries are going to absolutely pound him every time he hits a poor shot, and the poor sap who happens to be out there with him is going to suffer the consequences as well.

— It’s almost impossible to be Tiger’s partner in either the alternate shot or four-ball format, and that has nothing to do with anything written above. He has no clue where the ball is going these days, making it an exercise in frustration to play alternate shot with him, and it’s always going to be your fault if you lose a four-ball match with the alleged No. 1 player in the world. Nobody is volunteering for that job.

— Tiger’s career mark in the Ryder Cup is rubbish. Even in his five previous appearances, before his left knee blew up and his ex-wife took a 4-iron to the rear windshield of his Escalade, Tiger was a disappointing 10-13-2. That’s not exactly worthy of a captain’s pick. Yes, he’s 3-1-1 in singles matches, but too often those don’t matter on Sunday after he spends Friday and Saturday dropping points in the team matches. Sadly, we see the same scenario playing itself out yet again.

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Rooney the latest athlete to stray

Posted by Bill Koch on September 5, 2010

Add Wayne Rooney – again – to the list of millionaire athletes who cheat on their significant others.

Sensational stories in the Sunday Mirror and the News of the World outed Rooney for his latest escapades while his wife Coleen was pregnant with their son, Kai. Whenever you see the words ‘hotel,’ ‘escort,’ ‘cash’ and ‘pregnant wife’ in the same paragraph, you know there’s about to be some serious drama. Most of you know him for what he does on the soccer pitch while he’s playing for England or Manchester United. Apparently, 90 minutes of action isn’t quite enough to get Rooney through the average week.

We’re not shocked. We’ve told you before that we expect nothing less out of people who have the world in the palms of their hands. This time, though, we have a little different angle to take on situations like this.

Elin Nordegren got it right. Tiger Woods cheats, Nordegren finds out. Nordegren takes the kids and leaves. Nordegren sues for divorce, settles out of court and walks away. No further questions were asked. There weren’t any second chances given, clearly because Nordegren knows that second chances are rarely as good as the first. The damage is already done. That doubt, that broken trust, will always linger somewhere at the front or back of your mind.

Sadly, Nordegren is the exception – and this, ladies, is where you get yourselves in trouble. Rooney had a couple of episodes like this before when he was 18, caught with prostitutes and at seedy massage parlors while he and his future wife were at the beginning of their relationship. She forgave him and went back to him, and by doing that she set the cycle in motion for these current events to happen to her all over again.

I don’t want to speak for my man BDowd or for anyone out there at Ramble On, but I’ll tell you this much – you let me get away with murder and I’m going to do it. I’m not going to respect you if I know there won’t be any consequences. If I ever really cared about you I would never intentionally do anything to hurt you. That includes turning you into an international embarrassment while you’re carrying our unborn son like Rooney just did to his wife. That includes turning you into a punch line by running wild at clubs on South Beach like Ronnie has done to Sammi this entire season on Jersey Shore. That includes carrying on with a collection of skanks like Bill Clinton has done to Hillary throughout their marriage (it’s a business arraignment at this point and has been for two decades, but we use it here because it fits the point we’re trying to make). The list could go on and on, but it’s a Sunday morning and we’re not ready to do research on TMZ at this early hour. Rooney, Ronnie and Clinton weren’t made to pay the price.

Are these women to blame for what’s happened to them in their personal lives? No. We’re not trying to say that. But they’re not exactly helping themselves – or the rest of you – either.

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Furyk feels the PGA’s wrath

Posted by Bill Koch on August 25, 2010

Our man BDowd overslept his alarm this morning and rolled into the office at The Real Job a little later than usual.

Seems like a simple enough statement, doesn’t it? Well, if BDowd was Jim Furyk and our office was a golf course, he’d be fired for the week.

Furyk was disqualified from The Barclays because he showed up late for the Wednesday pro-am. He claimed (lamely) that his cell phone battery died and his alarm never went off, causing him to miss the scheduled 7:30 a.m. shotgun start at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J. Furyk arrived at 7:35 and looked generally disheveled, exactly like you would expect a guy to look after he overslept – no socks, no belt, untied shoes, etc. Tournament officials and the PGA showed the veteran Ryder Cup participant and consistently solid tour professional no mercy and whacked him for the weekend’s FedEx Cup opener, a decision that could prove costly. Furyk entered the PGA’s joke of a season-ending playoff system at No. 3 in the FedEx Cup standings.

You can guess where we’re going with this here at Ramble On – we think it’s ridiculous. Who could blame Furyk for a having a couple of pops at the tournament gala in Manhattan on a Tuesday night, staying in bed a little later than usual and celebrating the fact that he significantly overachieved when he married his lovely wife, Tabitha? Who wouldn’t try to avoid the small talk with the Wall Street thieves who were set to make up the rest of his foursome? It’s not like Furyk was pulling a Tiger Woods and chasing Holly Sampson around all hopped up on Ambien and PEDs.

P.S. – (Sorry to out you my man, but we’re sharing life experiences here at Ramble On. It’s part of what makes us so damn loveable.)

P.P.S. — This was the freakin’ PRO-AM!! We all know how Allen Iverson would feel about oversleeping the pro-am…

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Woods, Nordegren finalize divorce

Posted by Bill Koch on August 24, 2010

Don’t think for a second that we here at Ramble On would miss the fact that Elin Nordegren is now officially back on the market.

It’s just taken us a couple of days to process that Norway’s finest is single again after she and Tiger Woods finalized the terms of their divorce on Monday. We have no doubt that Nordegren is banking quite a chunk of Tiger’s sizeable fortune and that we won’t get to hear much of what she thinks about the entire chain of events that started on Thanksgiving and spiraled from there. Confidentiality agreements usually rule when people are this famous and this much cash is involved.

That’s never stopped us before here at Ramble On from giving our readers what they want. Care to guess what Nordegren was thinking from the time she smashed a golf club through the rear window of that Escalade? Follow along with us here.

Nov. 25, 2009 – The National Enquirer reports that Tiger has been having an affair with Rachel Uchitel. Nordegren is unthreatened and unimpressed – this sort of gossip comes with the territory when you’re married to a rich, famous international superstar.

Nov. 27, 2009 – Tiger cracks up his Escalade while zonked out on Ambien after Nordegren chases him down the driveway of their Florida home brandishing a golf club. No doubt she waited until Tiger cracked a beer and a couple of sleeping pills, ripped through his Blackberry and found text messages from Jaimee Grubbs, another member of the roster of skanks that Tiger was dabbling in on the side.

Dec. 2, 2009 – Tiger makes an apology on his website for some unnamed ‘transgressions.’ It’s full damage control now.

Dec. 2009 – Women begin coming forward by the hundreds insisting that they slept with Tiger, a shameful list that includes pornstars, escorts, IHOP waitresses, MILFs, GILFs, teenager neighbors…the list still goes on. Nordegren is long gone by this point but thinking on some level, ‘None of them are as hot as me. It’s cool. I win.’

Feb. 19, 2010 – Tiger emerges from hiding on his yacht, Privacy, to deliver a statement at a self-arranged press conference that comes off about as badly as you would imagine for a guy who basically says, ‘I was married to one of the most beautiful women in the world and pissed it all away by cheating with a shameful list that includes pornstars, escorts, IHOP waitresses, MILFs, GILFs, teenager neighbors…the list still goes on.’

April 8, 2010 – Tiger returns to golf at The Masters and finishes fourth, walking down Magnolia Lane all alone and getting on his G4 as fast as he can to avoid the press. Phil Mickelson wins the tournament, hugs his cancer-stricken wife, kisses his three kids, fires a shoutout to his cancer-stricken mother and basically melts the heart of everyone not named Tiger Woods. Nordegren watches the scene from some unknown location where all smokeshows hide and nods knowingly, fully aware of the contrast between the two men and how shockingly clear it has now become.

Aug. 23, 2010 – Tiger and Nordegren finalize the terms of their divorce. Tiger attempts to move on with his shattered life. Nordegren plots her revenge by planning to marry someone who could buy and sell Tiger, make her the queen of a country somewhere and be a better father to her kids than a PED-using, Ambien-abusing, whore-indulging mess that can’t find the fairway off the tee anymore.

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Sorting through the drama at the PGA Championship

Posted by Bill Koch on August 16, 2010

So many storylines came out of the final round at the PGA Championship that we could spend the next week trying to recap the proceedings. We’ll focus on a few of them here for our Ramble On audience and devote a little more time in the upcoming days to our thoughts on the United States Ryder Cup team. What we know for sure is that nobody will be talking about the eventual winner, Martin Kaymer, and we’ll be sure to give him some love during our recap.

— Bubba Watson is getting off cheap today. The ruling that knocked Dustin Johnson out of the playoff dominated Monday’s headlines, but Watson’s choke job in the three-hole showdown against Kaymer made us think of Jean Van de Velde and his 1999 meltdown during the Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Watson and Kaymer were even going to the final hole on Sunday and both hit poor tee shots into the right rough. Kaymer’s ball drew a horrible lie in the gnarly grass, making it impossible for him to reach the green in two. Watson’s ball was sitting up a bit, but his odds might have been 1-in-25 of carrying the small inlet and deep bunkers that front the 18th green from 230-plus yards away under that sort of pressure. Playing first, he made the foolish decision to swing for the green, predictably left his ball almost 40 yards short in the water, and his chances of winning the tournament were pretty much gone.

— Yes, Johnson got screwed on some level. There’s no chance that we thought his ball was in a bunker when he grounded his club and hit his second shot toward the 18th green on Sunday. There was no reason for Johnson to believe that the gallery would be standing in a bunker.

But let’s stop and think for a minute – Johnson had a one-shot lead going to the 72nd hole of the tournament. Knowing that he shot 82 in the final round of the U.S. Open earlier this year to blow a three-shot cushion, can we safely say that this guy stains ‘em under pressure? Who plays such outstanding golf through the first 71 holes and then fans a tee shot far enough to the right that the gallery should have been wearing helmets? Who misses the seven-foot putt on the final green that (as far as he knew at the time) would have won the tournament by making a timid stroke and pushing it to the right? Johnson does. He’s looking like another fragile mental case that the Euros are going to eat for breakfast like beans on toast.

— Teddy Scott sure did pick the wrong week to take a vacation. Scott is Watson’s regular caddie, but he was home during the PGA Championship with his wife and their newborn son. You’d have to guess that Scott was watching on television like the rest of us were when his boss put one club back in the bag and pulled another one for his second shot into the final hole – the difference is likely that Scott was a bit more horrified about what was going to happen next. Would Watson have made such a decision with Scott and not Mark Carens, the usual caddie for Brookline’s own James Driscoll and Scott’s stand-in for the week, on the bag? Let’s hope that Scott is back in action for October’s Ryder Cup, because Watson won’t be able to afford making such boneheaded decisions in what was essentially a match play format against the best that Europe has to offer.

— Kaymer’s a damn good player and a name to watch for years to come. All the 25-year-old German did to capture his first major on Sunday was roll in a 12-foot slider on the 72nd hole to get into a playoff and erase a one-shot deficit against Watson in the three-hole aggregate format. Kaymer’s birdie at the brutal 235-yard 17th in extra holes was pure guts. His ability to hold his composure despite a poor drive on the final hole and limit his damage to a bogey was something that Watson could learn from, and perhaps we should have seen this coming – Kaymer was in contention late into Sunday at Pebble Beach and has a very solid all-around game. That sort of discipline turns good tour players into major winners, as Kaymer discovered on Sunday.

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Getting off on the right foot

Posted by bdowd625 on August 15, 2010

I’ve been pretty busy this weekend, so I haven’t had much time to dedicate to the blog. Don’t think for a second, though, that Aston Villa’s 3-0 victory over West Ham on Saturday went unnoticed. Do I know how to pick ’em or do I know how to pick ’em? Caretaker manager Kevin MacDonald, who urged the Villa fans to cheer for their team even if things started out poorly, didn’t have to worry about such things. Stewart Downing’s early goal got the ball rolling, and West Ham was helpless the rest of the way. So far, I couldn’t be happier with my selection.

In other news, did everyone see how Dustin Johnson was eliminated from the PGA Championship tonight? It doesn’t get much worse than that as a competitor. I don’t care if the PGA explained the rules 150 times – I completely understand how Johnson got confused. The fans were STANDING ON THE “BUNKER” for God’s sake. Rules are rules – I get that. But man that was tough to watch.

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Masterful Mickelson rules at Augusta

Posted by Bill Koch on April 12, 2010

Phil Mickelson

Sunday was just one more example of how far apart Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are in their personal and professional lives.

Phil thrived in the fourth round of The Masters while Tiger wilted. Phil stepped off the back of the 18th green at picturesque Augusta National to embrace his beautiful wife, Amy, and their three kids while Tiger stalked to the clubhouse alone. Phil slipped into his third green jacket while Tiger disappeared down Magnolia Lane, back into his sorry, self-imposed exile.

It was ultimately Mickelson, not Woods, who enjoyed a sort of revival on familiar soil this weekend by capturing the 2010 Masters and the fourth major championship of his career. So much has been made of the fact that Mickelson won this tournament for his wife and his mother, Mary, both of whom are stricken with breast cancer. We here at Ramble On would also like to congratulate Mickelson on his victory and the composure that he showed in dealing with his own grief, but we also want to point out something that we feel like most people have missed – namely, that Phil loves the fact that Tiger is suffering right now.

Just think back to when Tiger was winning all of those major championships at the turn of the decade. He displaced Mickelson, a guy who won a PGA tournament as a 21-year-old amateur in 1991, as the new prodigy. Questions dogged Mickelson about his lack of fitness compared to Woods’ chiseled physique, his seemingly lazy practice habits compared to the long hours that Tiger spent on the driving range and the incredible risks that he took on the course compared to Woods’ steely resolve and unshakable desire to win every event he entered.

Mickelson probably could have won a lot more tournaments over the past 20 years if he pulled a 3-wood instead of a driver out of his bag every once in a while, laid up out of the trees instead of trying some misguided hero shot and just hit fairways and greens. That’s not his personality. Mickelson said once that golf would be boring for him if he just played it straight, and it makes perfect sense. It’s not like any virtuoso in any walk of life to do things the easy way, and Mickelson’s talent certainly can’t be taught.

As far as we knew six months ago, Tiger was a loyal husband and great father as well. The true Mickelson will be hidden to a degree behind closed doors like any other celebrity. What we see between the ropes is the same go-for-broke guy who has the balls to try that ridiculous shot from the pine trees on the 13th hole on Sunday. His 16-under total of 272 was the best since Tiger set the tournament record of 270 in 2001, and both men did so with the same swing coach – Butch Harmon, the architect of Tiger’s early success. Add one more tweak to Tiger’s moon-sized ego, the final indignity during Mickelson’s masterful weekend.

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