Articles By Rob Doster

All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/us-open-television-schedule
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Thursday, June 13 9 a.m.-3 p.m. ESPN First Round
  3-5 p.m. NBC First Round
  5-7 p.m. ESPN First Round (Part II)
  8-11 p.m. ESPN Best of First Round (tape)
Friday, June 14 12-1 a.m. ESPN2 SportsCenter at the U.S. Open
  1-4 a.m. ESPN2 Best of First Round (tape)
  9 a.m.-3 p.m. ESPN Second Round
  3-5 p.m. NBC Second Round
  5-7 p.m. ESPN Second Round (Part II)
  8-11 p.m. ESPN Best of Second Round (tape)
Saturday, June 15 12-1 a.m. ESPN2 SportsCenter at the U.S. Open
  2-5 a.m. ESPN2 Best of Second Round (tape)
  11 a.m.-Noon ESPN SportsCenter at the U.S. Open
  Noon-7:30 p.m. NBC Third Round
Sunday, June 16 12-1 a.m. ESPN2 SportsCenter at the U.S. Open
  2-5 a.m. ESPN2 Best of Third Round (tape)
  11 a.m.-Noon ESPN SportsCenter at the U.S. Open
  Noon-7:30 p.m. NBC Fourth Round
Monday, June 17 12-1 a.m. ESPN2 SportsCenter at the U.S. Open
  1-4 a.m. ESPN2 Best of Fourth Round (tape)
  Noon-2 p.m. ESPN Playoff Round (if necessary)
  2 p.m.-Conclusion NBC

Playoff Round (if necessary)

All Times Eastern

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Post date: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - 11:39
All taxonomy terms: U.S. Open, Golf, News
Path: /golf/us-open-5-storylines
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Here are some of the stories we'll be following when the players tee it up at the Merion Golf Club for the 2013 U.S. Open on Thursday morning:

Is Merion Tough Enough?
In the clubhouse at Merion Golf Club hangs the iconic photo that has found its way into many picture frames across the world: Ben Hogan’s famous 1-iron shot to Merion’s 18th green at the 1950 U.S. Open. The photo is famous for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it captures Hogan on his way to winning the U.S. Open less than two years after nearly being killed in an auto accident that affected the rest of his career. But also notable is the fact that Hogan is using a 1-iron. Nobody uses that club today. And it is quite unlikely that a player today, hitting from the same distance to the pin, would need that much club.

The club near Philadelphia will host the U.S. Open for the fifth time, but the first since 1981. The course was believed to be too short for the world’s best golfers 30 years ago, which leads to the same kind of questions today. And if it is not too short, then how will the United States Golf Association’s Mike Davis go about setting it up to make it a firm enough test?

Graeme McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open champion, had the chance to play at Merion last summer and raved about the venue. He also wondered “just how high are they going to grow the grass, how difficult will the rough be?’’

It's a given that the rough will be brutal, the fairways narrow and the greens as fast and treacherous as possible given the torrential rains that have soaked the area.

In order to get the Open again — it is played on the club’s East Course, about a mile from the West Course, where the players will practice and have locker room facilities — Merion officials had to agree to some changes put forth by the USGA. Of course, lengthening several holes was part of the process. In 1981, when David Graham hit all 18 greens in regulation during the final round, Merion measured less than 6,500 yards.

The USGA feels that those changes were worth it, and that Merion is worth showcasing. “This is a national treasure in the world of golf and to expose it to the world, I feel good about that,” said Davis, who is the USGA’s executive director and also in charge of setting up its championship venues. “If I have a fear, it’s four days of wet conditions, where they are throwing darts, but I feel that way at every Open. If we get firm conditions, this course will be an awesome test.”

Whether it's playing tough or not, Merion should provide plenty of thrills, as tweeted by Rory McIlroy: "What a golf course! Plenty of birdie chances mixed with plenty of potential disaster! Going to be an exciting US Open!"

Dream Threesome
The marquee group for the first two rounds of the U.S. Open at Merion is a doozy: three-time Open champ Tiger Woods, 2011 champ Rory McIlroy and reigning Masters champion Adam Scott. The grouping provides subplots aplenty, not the least of which is the fact that Woods and former caddie Steve Williams, now on Scott’s bag, will be reunited for only the second time since their acrimonious parting. It also marks the first time — but hopefully not the last — that Woods and McIlroy will be paired at a major. The group will tee off on Thursday at 1:14 p.m. Eastern from tee No. 1 and then at 7:44 a.m. on Friday from tee No. 11. We’ll be watching.

Is Rory Ready?
Former World No. 1 Rory McIlroy has been underwhelming in 2013, to say the least. He missed the cut in his only two European Tour appearances this season, and aside from a runner-up at the Valero Texas Open, he hasn't contended in the U.S. either. His ballstriking has been better than you would think; he ranks fourth on Tour in Greens in Regulation. If he can get a few putts to drop and avoid too many trips to the knee-high rough, he'll contend.

What About the 40-Somethings?
At last year's British Open, Ernie Els, then 42, proved that 40 is not a death sentence for golfers, winning his fourth major. Can another 40-something kiss the trophy this week? Merion doesn't require the prodigious length that eliminates some older players before they start, giving hope to the aged this week. Els himself is a candidate to win his third U.S. Open after a respectable T13 at The Masters, although his British Open win is his only victory since 2010 and may have been an outlier. Jim Furyk seemed primed to win his second U.S. Open last year at age 42 before a disappointing final round left him T4. But the guy we're watching this week is Phil Mickelson. This tournament owes something to Lefty, who celebrates his 43rd birthday on Sunday. What a birthday and Father's Day it would be for Mickelson if he got over the hump at a tournament where he's finished second a record five times. His runner-up finish at the FedEx St. Jude could bode well.

Will the Drought Finally End?
It's been a full five years since Tiger Woods' one-legged U.S. Open win. Who knew at the time that it would be his swan song for the foreseeable future. Tiger seems primed to end the drought, winning four tournaments before the end of May for the first time in his career and posting his first win at the Players Championship since 2001. He ranks first on Tour in Adjusted Scoring, All Around and FedExCup points. Once again, he's the undisputed best player in the world. A poor putting performance at the Memorial could have been a red flag, but we think it's a mere blip. We expect him to be the last man standing, this time on two good legs.

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<p> 5 Storylines to Watch at the U.S. Open</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: Wedges, Golf
Path: /golf/golf-equipment-wedges
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• Cleveland 588 RTX wedges
More precise U-Groves that are 16 percent larger and directionally milled on a new Rotex Face create more friction at impact on these new wedges, potentially adding more spin control for players. A sole that is wider near the heel and narrower near the toe improves bunker performance. It comes in a satin Chrome or Black Pearl finish. Website: clevelandgolf.com.
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Post date: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - 10:03
Path: /golf/greatest-golfers-all-time
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Call it a knee-jerk reaction, but Phil Mickelson's stunning sprint to the Claret Jug has caused us to revisit our rankings. Lefty now holds three of the four majors and gets extra credit for his record six runner-ups in the one he doesn't hold, putting him in our all-time top 10, where he nudges out the great Seve Ballesteros, who also won five majors but only two of the four (two Masters and three British Opens).

As with any sport, it's hard if not impossible to compare players across different eras. In golf, it's doubly so, given the game's equipment advances and changing conditions of golf courses over the years.

In compiling this ranking, I used two primary criteria: achievement and impact. Who won important golf tournaments, and who transcended the game while doing so?

Here, then, are the 20 men who have had the greatest careers and most lasting impact on the game of golf. Feel free to tell me where I’m wrong.

 

20. Greg Norman
The star-crossed Norman is better remembered for his spectacular failures than his successes, but we can't overlook his 20 career PGA Tour wins and his 331 weeks spent as the world's No. 1 player in the Official World Golf Rankings. A little better luck and a little more clutch play and he would have seven or eight major wins instead of two (1986 and 1993 British Opens). 

 

19. Cary Middlecoff
Middlecoff set aside a career in dentistry to become one of the greatest players of all time, challenging Ben Hogan and Sam Snead for world supremacy in the late 1940s and 1950s. Won 40 times on the PGA Tour, including three majors.

 

18. Vijay Singh
His career might be tainted on the front end by cheating allegations and on the back end by association with performance-enhancing drugs, but it's hard to deny Vijay a spot in the golf pantheon. He's won 34 times on the PGA Tour, including two PGA Championships and a Masters win.

 

17. Billy Casper
The Big Three — Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player — dominated the golf headlines in the 1960s, but the unassuming Casper was as good as anybody in his era. Casper won 51 PGA Tour events, seventh all time, and earned three majors, including the 1966 U.S. Open, where he denied Palmer a coveted win.

 

16. Ernie Els
With four majors — two U.S. Opens and two British Opens — the Big Easy is a legitimate challenger for the title of second-best player of the Tiger Woods era. His smooth, easy swing is the envy of hackers from here to Johannesburg and has led him to 19 PGA Tour victories.

 

15. Walter Hagen
The flamboyant Hagen was the first ultra-successful touring pro and raised the stature of the lowly pro golfer substantially in an era when amateurs like Bobby Jones ruled the sport. Hagen won 11 professional majors — two U.S. Opens, four British Opens and five PGAs — to set a record that would stand until the 1960s, and he also won five Western Opens during a time when that tournament was essentially a major.

 

14. Nick Faldo
Sir Nick dominated world golf for a time at the expense of chief rival Greg Norman, whom he drubbed in a memorable British Open showdown in 1990 and beat in the 1996 Masters following Norman's epic collapse. Faldo won six majors — three Masters and three British Opens — and earned 30 wins on the European Tour while providing a steadying influence on five Ryder Cup-winning teams.

 

13. Lee Trevino
The Merry Mex got a lot out of an unorthodox, self-taught game, winning 29 PGA Tour events and six majors. Four times, Trevino denied Nicklaus at a major championship, adding to his legend as one of the few players who could stare down the Golden Bear. Trevino also brought an unprecedented level of working-man appeal and humor to the Tour, although, as he said, "I played the tour in 1967 and told jokes and nobody laughed. Then I won the Open the next year, told the same jokes, and everybody laughed like hell."

 

12. Byron Nelson
For a few months in 1945, Byron Nelson played better than anyone ever has. That year, Lord Byron won 11 tournaments in a row, including the PGA Championship. When you consider that Payne Stewart won 11 tournaments in his career and is considered one of the all-time greats, you get a sense of the magnitude of that accomplishment. More than one-fifth of Nelson’s 52 career wins came courtesy of the Streak. And lest we dismiss the accomplishment on the basis of inferior competition, remember that Sam Snead was nearing his prime and a young Ben Hogan was making a name for himself. For one incredible spring and summer, Lord Byron invented and patented The Zone. For the year, Nelson won a staggering 18 events and was named AP Athlete of the Year. For his career, he was the game's greatest gentleman.

 

11. Seve Ballesteros
Maybe we loved him because we could identify with him. We were often hitting out of the woods, from bunkers, from parking lots, just like he was. The difference? Seve Ballesteros would often make a birdie from the woods, or the bunker, or the parking lot, and he’d do it with a style and grace that was impossible not to admire and envy. Almost two decades before Tiger Woods, Ballesteros exploded onto the scene as a precocious 19-year-old, finishing tied for second with the great Jack Nicklaus at the 1976 British Open at Royal Birkdale. Having fashioned his game by hitting rocks on the beaches of Pedrena, Spain, with a homemade 3-iron, Ballesteros was ready to attack any lie, any condition, any circumstance, making him ideally suited for the demanding conditions at Britain’s links courses.

His three British Open titles were triumphs of courage and ingenuity. His 1979 Open title at Royal Lytham and St. Annes was punctuated by a birdie for the ages from the parking lot. His 1984 title at the Old Course at St. Andrews denied Tom Watson his third consecutive Open and fourth in five years. His 1988 title was, in retrospect, the climax of his playing career and featured one of the great final rounds in golf history. His 65 that day included an 11-hole stretch in which Ballesteros made two pars, two bogeys, six birdies and an eagle. It took a chip shot on the final hole that nudged the flagstick to turn back Nick Price. In all, Ballesteros won five majors, adding two Masters titles to his three British Opens, while collecting 65 titles worldwide. His magical short game led him to six European Tour Vardon trophies for low scoring average.

But in assessing Ballesteros’ career, we can’t overlook his larger impact on golf. Seve was more than a great player. He was Europe’s version of Arnold Palmer, putting a sport on his back and selling it to an entire continent. Almost singlehandedly, Seve made the Ryder Cup an event, transforming a low-key, American-dominated series of exhibitions into one of the greatest spectacles in sports. In fact, Seve’s finest hour may have come not with a golf club in hand, but a walkie-talkie. Because of his legacy and influence, the Ryder Cup was held for the first time on mainland Europe in 1997, at Spain’s Valderrama Golf Club. As non-playing captain, Seve was the fire that ignited the European team against a heavily favored American team. Ballesteros, one of the greatest match-play golfers in history, willed his team to an historic win without firing a shot.

The Ballesteros File
• Winner of five major championships (2 Masters, 3 British Opens)
• Winner of 50 European Tour events, six European Tour Vardon Trophies for low scoring average
• Earned 20 Ryder Cup points in 37 career matches

 

10. Phil Mickelson
Tagged from the beginning as the Next Nicklaus, Mickelson has always lived with massive expectations, some of them self-imposed, and Phil's failures are almost as celebrated as his many successes. But there have been plenty of successes — 42 PGA Tour wins (ninth all time) and five majors, including three Masters. He's also recorded a record six runner-up finishes in the U.S. Open, but that only adds to his everyman appeal. His jaw-dropping 66 in the final round of the 2013 British Open on baked, windswept Muirfield joins the ranks of the greatest rounds in major championship history and vaults Phil the Thrill into our top 10. His visit to Pinehurst No. 2 for the 2014 U.S. Open now makes that tournament one of the most eagerly anticipated in history as Phil goes for the career Grand Slam, which would be a remarkable achievement for a guy who suffered through countless crushing disappointments just to win his first.

The Mickelson File

• Winner of five major championships (3 Masters, 1 British Open, 1 PGA Championship)

• One of only 8 players with as many as three Masters wins

• One of only 15 men to hold at least three legs of the career Grand Slam

• Runner-up at the U.S. Open a record six times

• 20 top-3 finishes, 35 top-10 finishes at major championships

• Winner of 42 PGA Tour events, 9th all time

• Inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2012

• Remains last amateur to win on the PGA Tour (1991 Northern Telecom Open)

 

No. 9: Gene Sarazen
It’s a shame, really, that Gene Sarazen is remembered primarily for a single shot, when he meant so much more than that to the game. But what a shot it was. It was his first Masters, 1935. He trailed Craig Wood by three shots on the final day when he came to Augusta’s No. 15, a par-5 that is reachable in two shots. His tee shot left him some 220 yards from the flag. The story goes that as he stood in the 15th fairway, he turned to his caddie, Stovepipe, and said, “Should I play it safe?” “Noooo. Go for it,” was Stovepipe’s response. Knowing he needed to get the ball in the air to carry the small creek guarding the front of the green, Sarazen pulled out his 4-wood and promptly made history, holing his shot for a double eagle that put him in a playoff with Wood, which he won. And Bobby Jones’ little gathering in Augusta was never the same.

Sarazen won his first professional title at the age of 19 and never looked back, winning 37 more times in a career that spanned more than four decades. He became the first member of golf’s modern Career Grand Slam club with his Masters win, which he added to his two U.S. Open titles (1922, 1932), his three PGA Championships (1922, 1923 and 1933) and his 1932 British Open win. After 66 years, only four other players — Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods — have joined that elite group. He even impacted the way the game is played. Sarazen is widely credited with the invention of the sand wedge in the early 1930s.

The Sarazen File
• Winner of seven major titles and a career Grand Slam
• Owner of 38 career PGA titles
• Inventor of the sand wedge
• AP Male Athlete of the Year in 1932
• Won his second U.S. Open (1932) by playing the last 28 holes in an incredible 100 strokes in one of the great performances in golf history
• Struck the Shot Heard Round the World, his 4-wood that nestled in the hole for a double eagle at Augusta National’s No. 15

 

8. Gary Player
Before Seve Ballesteros, before Greg Norman, before Ernie Els, there was Gary Player, golf’s first great international ambassador. Before the diminutive South African packed his wife and kids and a few suitcases and set out on his five-decade international odyssey, golf was primarily dominated by British and American players. Then along came the little man in black. Over a career than began in the mid-1950s, Player has logged more air miles than the Space Shuttle, and he has saved many of his greatest achievements for his trips to the States.

Using an unprecedented commitment to physical fitness (for golf, anyway) and an unmatched work ethic, Player has fashioned a remarkable career that has seen him win well over 150 tournaments worldwide, including nine major championships. He is one of only five players to own all four of golf’s modern majors, and one of only four players — Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Nick Faldo are the others — to have won the Masters and the British Open three times apiece.

Augusta was the scene of his greatest win. It was 1978, and Player hadn’t won a major championship in four years. His career seemed to be in decline, and he found himself seven shots out of the lead heading into the final round of the Masters. The 42-year-old Player proceeded to catch fire. Playing well ahead of the leaders, Player blistered Augusta National with a final-round 64, then waited as the leaders faltered down the stretch, giving him his third green jacket. His 64 remains the greatest final-round Masters performance in history, matched in drama only by Nicklaus’ sixth Masters title eight years later.

The Player File
• One of five players — Jack Nicklaus, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods are the others — to own a career Grand Slam.
• One of four players — Nicklaus, Woods and Nick Faldo are the others — to have won the Masters and British Open three times each.
• Recorded wins on the PGA or Senior Tours in a record five decades — the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.

 

7. Tom Watson
Watson won eight majors and dominated golf’s oldest tournament, the British Open, like no one else, winning five times in a nine-year span and coming close to a historic sixth win in 2009 at age 59. Like Trevino, he won four memorable duels with Jack Nicklaus in major championships, including the 1977 British Open, the greatest head-to-head duel in golf history. Watson and Nicklaus so distanced themselves from the rest of the field on that baked, windswept surface that Hubert Green, who finished third, remarked, “I won the tournament I was playing. I don’t know what tournament they were playing.” For the weekend, Nicklaus shot 65-66 — and lost. Watson’s 65-65 gave him his second British Open title.

In 2009, Watson was the beloved elder statesman at the British Open at Turnberry, the sentimental choice of an emotional and appreciative crowd that very nearly willed him to the most improbable win in the history of golf’s most storied tournament. But instead of Nicklaus accompanying him down the 18th fairway, he had four days of fatigue, crushing pressure and the hopes of a watching world weighing him down. Standing over the eight-foot par putt that would have provided an improbable capper to his Hall of Fame career, his 59-year-old nerves finally betrayed him. “It would have been a hell of a story, wouldn't it? It would have been a hell of a story,” he said. “It wasn’t to be. And yes, it’s a great disappointment. It tears at your gut, as it always has torn at my gut. It’s not easy to take."

But Watson's triumphs far outnumber his disappointments. His Augusta exploits are overshadowed by his dominance at the British Open, but between 1975 and 1988, no one was better at The Masters — two wins, three runner-ups and 12 top-10 finishes. He outdueled Nicklaus at the 1982 U.S. Open on the strength of one of the greatest shots in golf history — his chip-in on the 71st hole that led to a two-shot win, perhaps the most satisfying of his 39 career wins.

The Watson file
• 39 career PGA Tour wins, including eight major championships
• 5 British Open wins, trailing only Harry Vardon
• 6-time PGA Tour Player of the Year
• Made at least one cut per year from 1971–2007, a streak of 37 years.

 

6. Bobby Jones
In the Golden Age of sports, nobody shone brighter than Bobby Jones. Not Babe Ruth, not Red Grange, not Jack Dempsey. From 1923-30, a nation that was truly embracing sports on an epic scale watched in awe as Jones won everything in sight. Then, having no more worlds to conquer, he walked away from competitive golf, at age 28. No sports legend accomplished more in a shorter period of time, and no sports legend walked away at such a young age.

A golf prodigy at age 14, Jones really didn’t find his game until the ripe old age of 20, when he began his remarkable run. He took the 1923 U.S. Open in an 18-hole playoff, then ripped off another 12 majors before calling it a career. His record of 13 major championships would stand for 40 years, before a youngster named Nicklaus came along.

Obviously, Jones’ crowning achievement came in 1930 with his unprecedented and so far unduplicated Grand Slam. That year, Jones, bore the incredible weight of expectations. Fans and media fully expected him to sweep the majors, which at the time included the U.S. and British Opens and the U.S. and British Amateurs. His run to the Slam almost ended before it began, as Jones sweated out three one-up matches in the British Amateur. He won the British Open by two strokes, then took the U.S. Open by a similarly slim margin.

Only one leg was left, and it was the easiest. Jones waltzed to the U.S. Amateur Championship amid a contingent of Marine bodyguards, and the Slam was his. Less than two months later, Jones retired from competitive golf, his legend secure.

But his contributions to the game didn’t end. A few years later, he organized a gathering of friends that came to be known as the Masters. Jones was a fixture at Augusta each spring, but his golf was confined to the friendly kind. The Georgia Tech and Harvard graduate instead practiced law in Atlanta.

His later years were unkind. He suffered from syringomyelia, a painful and crippling disease that confined him to a wheelchair and finally ended his life on Dec. 18, 1971. The legendary golf writer Herbert Warren Wind eulogized him this way: “As a young man, he was able to stand up to just about the best that life can offer, which is not easy, and later he stood up with equal grace to just about the worst.”

The Jones file
• Winner of the 1930 Grand Slam — the U.S. and British Opens and U.S. and British Amateurs
• Played in 31 majors, won 13 and finished in the top 10 27 times
• Founder of Augusta National Golf Club and The Masters

 

5. Ben Hogan

Brooding, temperamental, focused — Ben Hogan was not a charismatic figure who rallied the masses to follow the game a la Arnold Palmer. Instead, he was all about golf shots. The Hawk remains the greatest shotmaker golf has ever produced. Rather than relying on today’s technologically advanced equipment, Hogan used an uncanny ability to control the flight of his ball to win nine majors — and a greater percentage of majors entered than even Jack Nicklaus. To  Hogan, “the Hawk,” “Bantam Ben,” who was 5’7”, 140 pounds when he was at the peak of his game, striking a ball well was more important than scoring.

Hogan’s life was one struggle after another. The early years, when Hogan couldn’t control the hook. The later years, when he battled back from a terrible 1949 auto crash that nearly killed him. But he never gave in or gave out until suffering a major stroke after his mind and his body had been ravaged by Alzheimer’s and colon cancer.

Others played a golf course; Hogan studied it. He didn’t write down yardages. He interpreted them. “I have to feel a shot,” he said. He squinted from under that familiar white hat, surveyed the land, reached into a bag held by a caddy usually afraid to utter a word and then made that flat, repetitive swing.

He is one of five players to win all of the Grand Slam events. In 1953, he became the first to win as many as three majors in one year, the Masters and both Opens. He didn’t enter the PGA that year, fearing his legs weren’t up to the challenge. The ’53 British Open at Carnoustie, the only British Open he entered, would be his last major.

Hogan’s last tournament was the 1971 Houston Champions International. Playing poorly, bothered by a sprained knee, 58-year-old Ben Hogan walked off the course during the first round and never played again. “I liked to win,” Hogan said, “but more than anything I loved to play the way I wanted to play.”

The Hogan File
• Winner of 64 PGA Tour events, including 9 majors
• One of five players to possess a modern career Grand Slam
• Only player to win Masters, U.S. Open and British Open in same year
• Also a towering figure in equipment manufacturing and golf instruction

 

4. Arnold Palmer

There have been better players with prettier swings. But there has never been a more important golfer than the King, Arnold Palmer. He quadrupled purses, brought golf away from the country clubs and into our living rooms, and assembled an Army of devoted followers. He won — and lost — with more flair than any other athlete.

From 1958 to 1968, Palmer reigned amid the azaleas and pines of Augusta National, where Arnie’s Army first mustered. With the lone exception of 1963, he was in contention at every Masters during that epic stretch, winning four times, finishing second twice, third once and fourth twice.

Although he made his reputation at The Masters — and made the tournament what it is today — it was the 1960 U.S. Open that truly captured the King at the peak of his powers. The leaderboard on that final day included a chubby 20-year-old amateur named Jack Nicklaus. It included a legend — the Hawk, Ben Hogan. The third member of this historic trio lit a cigarette, stalked to the tee of the 318-yard, par-4 first hole at Cherry Hills and drove the green on his way to a historic final-round 65, erasing a seven-stroke deficit for the greatest comeback in Open history.

The Palmer File
• 60 PGA Tour wins
• 7 Major Championships
• 4-time PGA Tour money champ
• 1st PGA Tour millionaire
• 15 consecutive years with at least one victory

 

3. Sam Snead
If winning is the standard for determining excellence, there is no greater player in golf history than Sam Snead. Using a smooth, syrupy swing that looked as natural and effortless as breathing, Slammin’ Sammy won more golf tournaments than any other player — a staggering total of 81 PGA Tour titles, and anywhere from 135 to 165 victories worldwide, depending on whom you ask. He posted wins in four different decades, from the 1936 West Virginia Closed Pro to the 1965 Greater Greensboro Open (his eighth title in that event), when he was 52 years old.

Snead won three Masters, including a 1954 playoff triumph over friend and rival Ben Hogan. He won three PGA Championships and a British Open.

There is one hole in the Slammer’s résumé that prevents him from staking a legitimate claim to being the greatest player in history. Somehow, Snead never won the one tournament that seemingly should have been his by birthright. He never won a U.S. Open. But his near-tragic failures at the Open do not diminish his accomplishments.

His swing was such an efficient device that it served him well into his golden years and remains the gold standard for golf swings. In 1979, he offered golf fans one final glimpse of his greatness, as he became the first player to score below his age, shooting 67 and 66 in the Quad Cities Open at the age of 67. By then, and for the rest of his life, Snead was a beloved ambassador and advocate for the game.

The Snead File
• A record 82 PGA Tour wins, spanning 1936 to 1965
• Seven major championships, including three Masters and three PGA Championships
• Oldest player to win, make a cut and shoot his age in PGA Tour history
• Posted top 10s in majors in five different decades

 

2. Jack Nicklaus

Nicklaus brought out greatness in his opponents — Palmer, Player, Watson, Trevino. But more importantly, he made golf a greater game through his physical skill and strength, his mental toughness, his sustained level of excellence and his genius for strategically dismantling golf courses around the world.

You know the litany of accomplishments. 18 major championships, more than Hogan and Palmer combined. A mind-boggling 37 top twos in majors.

And lest we think the Tour of the 21st Century outshines the Tour in Jack’s prime, consider this: Nicklaus fought many of the game’s greatest at their very peak and beat them all. And when he didn’t beat them, he coaxed their very best out of them.

As if to prove the point, at age 46, Nicklaus was able to muster enough of his old-time wizardry to outduel names like Ballesteros, Kite, Norman — all of them at the peak of their powers — to win his sixth Masters in 1986 in one of the greatest sports moments of all time.

In his golden years, the Golden Bear has continued to shape the game with his prolific golf course design company. 

The Nicklaus File
• Winner of 73 PGA Tour events, including a record 18 major championships
• Winner of a record six Masters
• Finished in top 5 in majors a record 56 times, in the top 10 a record 73 times
• Posted lowest scoring average on Tour eight times
• Won PGA Tour money title eight times
• Won at least two PGA Tour events in 17 consecutive seasons (1962-78)

 

1. Tiger Woods

In April 1997, Woods began a trajectory that led him directly to the top of this list. He so dominated the most storied and tradition-steeped tournament in golf that the sport was changed forever. We all remember the Masters-record 18-under par total that Woods shot in his first Masters as a pro. We remember his incredible 12-shot margin of victory. (Runner-up Tom Kite’s 282 total would have been good enough to win 17 previous Masters, but it only got him within 12 shots of Tiger.) We remember the way his mammoth drives turned the par-5s into pitch-and-putts. What many people don’t remember about the 1997 Masters is how badly Tiger started the tournament. On the front nine on Thursday, Woods went out in 40, leaving him 4-over par. That, apparently, is when the stars aligned and the golf gods smiled. Over the next 63 holes, Woods swept through Augusta National like a tornado, toying with the course and demoralizing the greatest players in the world. 

Tiger’s runaway, far from putting a crimp into the television ratings, instead gave golf its greatest ratings winner to date. In 1996, before Woods turned pro, the ratings were 9.2 on Sunday. In 1997, when Woods won, the number jumped to 14.1.

The rest, as they say, is history — 14 major championships, 78 PGA Tour wins, the lowest career scoring average in PGA Tour history, 10 Player of the Year awards, and, yes, scandal and disgrace. But the impact and the level of achievement are undeniable and unprecedented. Quite simply, at his best, Woods has played the game better than it's ever been played. And when he's done, he'll hold every meaningful record the game has to offer.

The Woods File
• 78 PGA Tour wins, second all-time to Sam Snead
• 14 major championships, second all-time to Jack Nicklaus
• Only player ever to win four consecutive majors
• Lowest scoring average in PGA Tour history
• Scoring average of 67.79 in 2000 the lowest single-season average in Tour history
• Has won a record 27.2 percent of his career PGA Tour starts
• PGA Tour Player of the Year a record 10 times

Teaser:
<p> Athlon Counts Down the Best in the Game's History</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - 11:05
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/golf-equipment-2013-must-haves
Body:

Struggling with what to buy Dad this Father's Day? If he's a golfer who loves new toys, gadgets and gizmos, you have plenty of options. Anything that promises to improve his game — or make his life simpler on the course — is worth exploring. Fashion — with the advent of fitness in the Tiger Woods era — has become an important aspect of golf as well. The bright colors worn by Ian Poulter, Rickie Fowler and John Daly pop on the TV screen and have inspired a legion of sartorial followers. If Dad can’t play like the pros, at least he can dress like them.

Here’s a look at some choice selections for Father's Day 2013:

• Cleveland 588 RTX wedges
More precise U-Groves that are 16 percent larger and directionally milled on a new Rotex Face create more friction at impact on these new wedges, potentially adding more spin control for players. A sole that is wider near the heel and narrower near the toe improves bunker performance. It comes in a satin Chrome or Black Pearl finish. Website: clevelandgolf.com.
 

• Mizuno JPX-825 Irons
Mizuno calls these irons "the longest and most forgiving irons in the company’s history." That should get your attention. Mizuno’s distance-generating JPX technologies of Hot Metal and MAX COR create an ultra-thin face that delivers extra distance. In the 4- through 7-irons, the MAX COR ultra-pocket cavity design and a multi-thickness face result in solid feel, highest allowable ball speeds, and maximum forgiveness with an easy, high launch. The 8-iron through wedge utilize a Mid COR through a Deep Pocket Cavity Design that delivers greater precision and distance. Lastly, the Solid Power Design in the gap wedge provides enhanced solid feel and maximum control.
Website: www.mizunousa.com/golf

• Rocketbladez irons
The “Speed Pocket,” a small slot in the sole of the Rocketbladez iron, flexes and rebounds at impact, an action that promotes faster ball speed, a higher launch angle and more powerful ball flight. TaylorMade studies indicate that 68 percent of iron shots by amateurs are miss-hits below the center of the clubface. The Speed Pocket — used in the 3- through 7-irons — will help the distance and trajectory on those shots. Website: taylormadegolf.com.

 

• Adams Golf Idea Super S Hybrid
Bought by TaylorMade-adidas Golf last year, Adams Golf continues to churn out quality clubs for all skill levels. The newest line, called Super S, was designed to be easy to hit. The Cut-Thru sole slot on the hybrid is thinner, deeper and longer, designed to increase ball speeds for greater distance. Website: www.adamsgolf.com.

 

• Catalina Golf Bag
This traditional golf cart bag remains a favorite among the TaylorMade golf line. The crush-resistant construction provides durability, all while weighing just 6.5 pounds. It’s got all the pockets needed for tees and balls, but the best feature might be the hidden cooler that holds six 12-ounce cans. Website: www.Taylormadegolf.com.

 

• AMP CELL Driver
Put a little pizzazz in your golf bag with this new driver by COBRA golf. The driver looks good — it comes in silver, blue, red or orange — and performs great. Golfers can set six different lofts/trajectories with its MyFly technology. Website: www.cobragolf.com.

 

• Pearl Putter
The craze of adjustable drivers has finally trickled down to the putter. The lie of this putter by Pearl ProSports Inc. out of New York can be adjusted so that its head aligns parallel to the ground. This patented feature promotes more accurate putting. More good news: It is legal according to United States Golf Association standards. Website: www.pearlprosports.com.

 

 

 

• Bridgestone Golf
All three e-Series golf balls (e5, e6 and e7) have experienced an aerodynamic upgrade in 2013, utilizing a new 326-seamless dual dimple pattern. Dimples that are six percent larger and cover 2.5 percent more surface area on the ball reduce drag and increase lift to maximize distance. The three-piece Surlyn cover construction of the e6 — available in white, yellow and orange — reduces sidespin for more accuracy. Website: www.bridgestonegolf.com.

FASHION

• Loudmouth Golf
Founded in 2000, Loudmouth has time-warped the outrageous 1970s fashions into today’s world. John Daly helped put the brand on the map, but the company offers more than just Daly’s wild colors and patterns. For the more conservative types, there are stylish Loudmouth outfits that will look great on anyone. Then again, most golfers wearing Loudmouth want to stand out from the crowd, not blend in. Website: www.loudmouthgolf.com.

• TRUE Linkswear
Ryan Moore, always the snappy dresser, wears the sensei for its mix of comfort and fashion. TRUE Linkswear, founded just two years ago, created the first golf shoe built on a barefoot platform with the thinnest sole in the game. They’re so comfortable they feel more like slippers and look more like casual tennis shoes than traditional golf shoes. Expanded offerings in 2013 ensure this upstart a place in a market dominated by Footjoy and other major manufacturers. Website: www.truelinkswear.com.

• AHEAD
Acquired by Sweden-based New Wave Group AB in the summer of 2011, this versatile brand is best known for its logoed hats and visors. It is the leading supplier of headwear to the United States Golf Association and PGA of America, and has relationships with Annika Sorenstam, Luke Donald, Retief Goosen, Jim Furyk, Sean O’Hair and Brittany Lincicome. Men will enjoy the classic look of the polos and the splash of color contrast in its growing PGA Authentic line. Women can accessorize to the max with the Kate Lord Collection. The 2013 fall line adds new colors, like thistle and oasis blue, and new thermal pieces with rich hues.Website: www.aheadweb.com.

• Oakley RadarLock Pitch sunglasses
The RadarLock Pitch, a durable carbon-fiber sports performance frame, features two lenses. The G30 Iridium lens is called the “golf lens” for its ability to improve contrast and depth perception and reduce glare, all great for reading greens. SwitchLock technology makes changing lenses fast and hassle-free. Oakley recently signed Zach Johnson and Bubba Watson to endorsement contracts. Website: www.oakley.com.

• Nexbelt X-Factor Golf Belt
Nexbelt designs “The Belt With No Holes” thanks to PreciseFit, an innovative ratcheting system that allows for ¼” adjustments. With no holes, Nexbelt gives off a fashionable, streamlined appearance. There’s even a hidden ball marker under the buckle just a flip away. The company has introduced three new styles in 2013 to complement their colorful existing lineup of men’s and women’s belts. Website: www.nexbelt.com.

 

GROW THE GAME GEAR

• Hello Kitty Golf
Want your daughter to get bitten by the golf bug? New pink golf gear from Hello Kitty Golf just might nudge her in the right direction. Junior sets with a golf bag come in separate sizes for ages 3-5 (three clubs), ages 6-8 (five clubs) and ages 9-12 (six clubs). A full women’s set and accessories such as golf balls, divot tools, towels and head covers are also available. Website: www.sanrio.com/hello-kitty-golf.

• SNAG Golf
SNAG, which stands for Starting New at Golf, uses oversized clubs and color-coded teaching aids to inspire children and beginners to take up the game without all the confusing technical talk of the golf swing. Troon Golf, which operates courses around the world, uses SNAG in a successful learning program at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz. The new Jack Nicklaus Learning Leagues, powered by SNAG, will be introduced at select local park and recreation facilities around the country this year for players ages 5-12. Individual kits of clubs and training tools, sold in different sizes by age, are perfect for any little player. Website: www.snaggolf.com.

TRAVEL GEAR

• The Last Bag by Club Glove
This durable road warrior, preferred by most PGA Tour players, can take clubs wherever they dare to travel, from Ireland to New Zealand and back. The water-resistant nylon cover comes in 17 different colors and with a limited lifetime warranty. There are two exterior pockets for golf shoes and durable zippers, handles and wheels. The bag can also connect to other ClubGlove luggage, making transportation to and from the airport easier. Website: www.clubglove.com.

 

• Stiff Arm
Even the clubs of PGA Tour players aren’t immune to the hazards of airline travel. Lee Janzen had his clubs trashed either by airline staff or the airport ground crew in 2011. Protect your clubs with the Stiff Arm by Club Glove, a fully adjustable three-piece crutch that fits in all travel bags. The nylon plastic head will take the beating while protecting even the longest club in your bag (presumably the driver). It’s a smart $30 investment. Website: www.clubglove.com.

BAD WEATHER GEAR

• Sunice Albany Jacket
This versatile rain jacket comes from the Hurricane Collection of Sunice, a Canadian company known for excellent outerwear. It is 25 percent lighter with 25 percent more stretch than other jackets in its category. Gore-Tex, a high performance fabric, will keep the water out, while the warmth stays in. Lockdown waterproof zippers keep the iPod storage chest pocket dry. Website: www.sunice.com

 

• Pro Gold Golf Umbrella
GustBuster calls this product the only “UN-Flippable, UN-Flappable, UN-Leakable” umbrella in the world. Wind-release vents in the nylon fabric can withstand winds of more than 55 miles-per-hour, and the frame, made of carbonized steel and aluminum, won’t collapse. The fabric is backed by a lifetime repair or replacement warranty. It will blow away in a storm before it will break. Website: www.Gustbuster.com.

COOL APPs

• My Pro To Go
Need a quick swing fix on the road? This new app brings the highly trained and experienced teaching pros of GolfTEC right to your fingertips. Golfers who capture a front and side view of their swing with their smartphone can send the videos to the app or the website to receive a video swing lesson and drills from a certified GolfTEC coach. A single private lesson costs $39, with savings for a series of lessons. Colorado-based GolfTEC, founded in 1995, has grown to more than 140 improvement centers around the United States, Canada and Japan. Website: www.myprotogo.com, www.golftec.com

• GolfLogix
GolfLogix, the first company to introduce handheld GPS to the golf industry, offers a free app that provides accurate distances on nearly 30,000 golf courses worldwide. It features yardage-book quality imagery and aerial flyovers. For $20 a year, players can track every shot to learn club distances and shot trends. Website: www.Golflogix.com.

Teaser:
<p> When thinking about what to buy Dad this Father's Day, consider these clubs and fashions. You can't buy Dad a game, but at least you can make him look like a player.</p>
Post date: Monday, June 10, 2013 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Golf
Path: /golf/us-open-last-time
Body:

On the eve of the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club, we've compiled some statistical tidbits:

Last foreign winner: 
Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland, 2011 

Last to defend title successfully: 
Curtis Strange, 1989 

Last to win three consecutive U.S. Opens: 
Willie Anderson, 1903-05 

Last winner to win the U.S. Open on first attempt: 
Francis Ouimet, 1913 

Last winner to win the U.S. Open on second attempt: 
Jerry Pate, T18 in first in 1975, winner in 1976 

Last amateur to win U.S. Open: 
John Goodman, 1933 

Last start-to-finish winner (no ties): 
Rory McIlroy, 2011 

Last winner to win money title in same year: 
Tiger Woods, 2008 

Last winner to birdie the 72nd hole: 
Tiger Woods, 2008 

Last winner to birdie the 72nd hole to force a playoff: 
Tiger Woods, 2008 

Last winner to birdie the 72nd hole to win by one stroke: 
a-Robert T. Jones Jr., 1926 

Last winner to birdie the 72nd hole to win by two strokes: 
Lee Janzen, 1993 

Last to win without a round in the 60s: 
Geoff Ogilvy, Australia, 2006 

Last to win with all rounds in the 60s: 
Rory McIlroy, 2011 

Last to win with a round in the 80s: 
80, John McDermott, in playoff, 1911 

Last to win with a round of 77: 
Sam Parks Jr., in first round, 1935 

Last to win with a round of 76: 
Angel Cabrera, in third round, 2007 

Last to win with a round of 75: 
Payne Stewart, in playoff, 1991 

Last to win after being in sectional qualifying: 
Lucas Glover, 2009 

Last to win after being in local and sectional qualifying: 
Orville Moody, 1969 

Last winner between age 20-29: 
Webb Simpson, 26, 2012

Last winner between age 30-39: 
Graeme McDowell, 30, 2010 

Last winner over age 40: 
Payne Stewart, 42, 1999 (sixth-oldest in history) 

Last winner who received a special exemption: 
Hale Irwin, 1990 

Last defending champion to miss the cut: 
Rory McIlroy, 2012

Last to win without a sub-par round: 
Geoff Ogilvy, 2006 

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Monday, June 10, 2013 - 08:45
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/10-amazing-stats-memorial
Body:

On Saturday at the Memorial, Tiger Woods got an unwelcome taste of what golf feels like out here in the real world. Woods limped to an outward 44, his highest 9-hole score as a professional, on his way to a shocking third-round 79. After failing to break 70 in any of the four rounds, the World's No. 1 player finished at 8-over, 20 strokes behind winner Matt Kuchar. World No. 2 Rory McIlroy wasn't much better, carding a first-round 78 on his way to a 6-over finish. While the world's top two players were hacking up Jack Nicklaus' gorgeous Muirfield Village layout like the Three Stooges, Kuchar was his usual steady, unflappable self, finishing at 12-under after a final-round 68 and holding off Kevin Chappell for a two-shot win that vaults him past Brandt Snedeker into second place on the FedExCup points list and puts him on the short list of U.S. Open favorites.

Here are 10 amazing stats from a tough weekend in Ohio.

44 Woods opening-9 44 on Saturday included a bogey, two doubles and a triple.

35 Kuchar leads the PGA Tour with 35 top-10 finishes since the start of the 2012 season.

10-1 On Sunday, the toughest hole was the par-3 12th, as it yielded only three birdies but forced 30 bogeys or higher, a ratio of 10-1.

20 Woods' final deficit of 20 strokes was his largest in a full-field event as a professional. He was 30 shots in arrears at the WGC Bridgestone (a limited field, no-cut event) in 2010.

71 Woods, who entered the Memorial ranked first in Strokes Gained, Putting, ranked 71st of 73 players in the category for the tournament.

2 Shockingly, Woods had two three-putts from inside five feet.

5th Woods finished fifth in driving accuracy for the weekend but still finished 20 strokes behind Kuchar, an indication of a rough week of ballstriking (he missed at least five greens each day) and putting (he needed 119 putts for the week).

+1.256 The average round this weekend was 73.256, or 1.256 over par, making Muirfield the third-toughest course on Tour so far this year, behind Augusta National and PGA National (Honda Classic).

2 Kuchar becomes only the second multiple winner on Tour this year, joining Woods, who has four wins. Seventeen players have a single win in what has been a true spread-the-wealth kind of year so far.

96.43 Ryan Moore hit a stunning 96.43 percent of his fairways off the tee for the tournament on his way to a T13 finish.

Teaser:
<p> 10 Amazing Stats from the Memorial Tournament</p>
Post date: Monday, June 3, 2013 - 11:16
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Twitter, College Football
Path: /50Twitter
Body:

College football is well-represented in the Twitterverse by people who know the game intimately and aren't afraid to tell you about it. We took a look at the lengthy list of CFB-oriented Twitter accounts and whittled them down to 50 that are definitely worth a follow. These tweeting all-stars are sure to entertain, educate and occasionally enrage. Let us know your favorites (and anyone we missed).

 

@BFeldmanCBS
Bruce Feldman is a prolific and informative tweeter with a history of breaking news via the medium (and occasionally jumping the gun, but that's part of Twitter's charm). Definitely worth a follow.

 

@sImandel
Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel describes himself as a "Writer, author, lover, humanitarian and college football writer for SI.com." We can only vouch for the college football part. Guy's a fountain of information and opinion, although he doesn't always seem to welcome criticism very cheerfully. Of course, who does?

 

@Andy_Staples
Mandel's SI colleague is a college football savant and part-time foodie who's also equal parts funny and astute.

 

@Mengus22
Mark Ennis is legendary around the Athlon offices for how prolifically he tweets. Chances are he's weighed in about 15 times on Louisville football, Dwyane Wade's fashion choices and Andrew Wiggins by the time you get to work in the morning. Given that level of output, they can't all be gems — but many of them are.

 

@McMurphyESPN
Brett McMurphy was a good get for the Worldwide Leader, and as he was with CBS Sports, he's a prolific breaker of news via Twitter.

 

@CFTalk
CollegeFootballTalk.com is precisely what it's advertised to be: an ongoing conversation about the sport we love. Its tweeting home is equally engaging.

 

@SDS
Saturday Down South self-bills as the "largest website covering @SECFootball." Don't know about largest, but it's one of the best. Their Twitter feed is typically just a shortcut to the website, but well worth a follow.

 

@ralphDrussoAP
You might associate the Associated Press with relics of a different time, but AP college football writer Ralph Russo's Twitter feed, delivered in Brooklyn-ese, is anything but stale.

 

@BryanDFischer
Bryan Fischer is among Athlon's go-to sources for Pac-12 news, as well as generally amusing observations. He's not quite at a Mengus-level output, but he's close.

 

@EyeOnCFB
The Eye sees all. CBSSports.com's college football feed draws on the expert opinions and inside sources of some of the best in the business.

 

@SiriusXMCollege
We're partial to Sirius XM College Sports Nation because our own Braden Gall is a frequent contributor. That doesn't mean they're not a quality follow. Their Twitter feed is a handy entry point to their on-air content.

 

@KegsnEggs
Adam Kramer bills himself as "Founder and gatekeeper of Kegs ‘n Eggs. Lead College Football Writer for Bleacher Report. Advocate of FAT GUY TOUCHDOWNS, and Las Vegas tomfoolery." I have nothing to add to that, except to recommend a follow.

 

@ACCSports
Someday, maybe soon, ACC football will be relevant, and when that day comes, Jim Young is poised to rule. He's your ACC source on all things football and basketball.

 

@dennisdoddcbs
CBS' national college football writer Dennis Dodd can be infuriating, but he's never not interesting.

 

@JFowlerCBS
Dodd's CBS colleague is a solid reporter and equally solid Tweeter.

 

@ClayTravisBGID
Love him or hate him, you can't deny that Travis entertains and inflames with his SEC-centric observations. Prepare to get angry, although Travis' affection for those he lampoons takes some of the edge off. Good news: He seems to have overcome his obsession with butt-chugging.

 

@YahooForde  
The Forde Yard Dash is an in-season must read.

 

@CoachHand
Herb Hand, Vandy's exceptional (and exceptionally nice) o-line coach, beats the drum on Twitter for Vandy, Nashville and the SEC while offering words of wisdom for everyday living. Not your usual coach-speak.

 

 

@MrSEC
With a name like that, you better deliver the goods. And he does, covering the league's 14 teams from every angle — coaching, recruiting and on-the-field performance. Lots of useful links, too.

 

@AschoffESPN
The worldwide leader doesn't disappoint with its SEC coverage thanks to lead bloggers Chris Low and Edward Aschoff, who scour the corners of the interwebs for nuggets of SEC wisdom and share them with hungry SEC fans everywhere. In addition to @ESPN_SEC, which is links central for fans of the nation's best conference, Aschoff maintains his own Twitter account with tidbits like this.

 

@ESPN_Big12
Continuing with our mothership theme, David Ubben handles all things Big 12 for ESPN.

 

@espn_bigeast
There's no more Big East (it's now the American Athletic), so watch for the Twitter handle to change.

 

@SethEmerson
Seth's hunkered down in Athens ready to bring you any relevant Dawg news he uncovers. Mark Richt may have lost control, but Seth hasn't.

 

@CecilHurt
Cecil's been covering Bama since the Bear's last season. I'd say that makes him a suitable go-to guy for all things Tide-related.

 

@AthlonSteven
All of us here at Athlon Sports — @AthlonMitch, @BradenGall, @DavidFox615, @AthlonDoster — are worth following, but Steven Lassan's our resident college football prodigy. Ask him anything — the backup quarterback situation at UL Lafayette, for example — and he can tell you everything you need to know.

 

@finebaum
The mere mention of his name provokes outrage in some quarters. Paul Finebaum has been stirring the pot in the Yellowhammer State for three decades now and has taken his talents to Twitter, although he spends a lot of Tweets quoting what others have to say. For the Finebaum haters, that's just as well.

 

@wesrucker247
World-wide Wes' specialty is Tennessee Vols football at govols247.com, but he has plenty to say about everything that's remotely relevant in SEC football on his Twitter feed. Also, he uses his avatar to keep us apprised of his beard status (currently positive).

 

@MrCFB
Referring to yourself as Mr. College Football may seem a little self-aggrandizing, but after years in the SEC trenches, Tony Barnhart's earned the right to pat himself on the back.

 

@BianchiWrites
Part columnist, part professional internet troll, Orlando's Mike Bianchi is an equal opportunity offender where Florida and Florida State are concerned. That makes him worth following, although he does spend a lot of time plugging his radio gig.

 

@BarrettSallee
Bleacher Report's lead SEC college football writer is a fountain of information on his home site and a premium pot-stirrer on Twitter, weighing in with uncensored opinions on all things SEC. Plenty of useful links, too.

 

@DuckFootball
Rob Moseley covers Oregon football for the Eugene Register-Guard, and he tweets pithy observations from the front lines of the Great Northwest's offensive juggernaut. Also not afraid of lively interactions with fellow tweeters.

 

@UCLACoachMora
Jim Mora has wasted no time jockeying for attention in ADHD-afflicted Southern California. He hasn't really extended his pot-stirring to Twitter yet, but there's always hope.

 

@InsideUSC
Scott Wolf is a staff writer for the LA Daily News, meaning he has a front-row seat for the ongoing circus that is the Lane Kiffin era in LA.

 

@cfosterlatimes
Chris Foster is the LA Times' UCLA beat writer and dispenses nuggets from Bruin-land. As you would expect from a school with 11 national titles, he leans basketball in his tweet count.

 

@steakNstiffarms
Football, food and female hotness. What more is there to the Internet? Elika Sadeghi covers all three on her Twitter feed, with a Big Ten emphasis. To follow her is to love her.

 

ESPN_BigTen
Since 2008, Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett have been regaling Big Ten fans with news, notes and links for the mothership.

 

@JimComparoni
Jim's the publisher of SPARTAN Magazine and is a one-stop shop for all things Gang Green-related. Especially good for in-game tweets that give you a feel for the action.

 

@TeddyGreenstein
Teddy has one of the best self-descriptions on Twitter: "lover, fighter, Chicago Trib sportswriter." Kind of says it all, although he focuses on the sports part on his Twitter feed, in bareknuckles fashion.

 

@Sean_Callahan
The publisher of HuskerOnline.com, Sean (Don't Call Me Bill) Callahan has seen the Nebraska program suffer through some uncharacteristic struggles the last several years. But unlike the team, Sean's coverage is consistently solid.

 

@BTNTomDienhart
Tom Dienhart is the senior writer for btn.com, the website for the Big Ten Network. Whenever there's football to be played, he's got it covered.

 

@11W
Eleven Warriors is your source for all things Scarlet and Grey. It's the largest free Ohio State sports source on the internet, and they've extended their footprint to Twitter in a big way.

 

@smartfootball
If you prefer a more cerebral take on the game, this feed's for you. Editor Chris Brown's also a Grantland contributor if you're not into the whole brevity thing.

 

@John_Infante
Guy knows the NCAA inside and out so you don't have to. For that, we should all be grateful.

 

@HeismanPundit
His self-descriptor says it all: CBSSports.com writer/Heisman voter breaking down the politics of the most prestigious award in sports, plus hard-hitting college football commentary & analysis. What more do you want?

 

@PaulMyerberg
USA Today contributor Myerberg's feed is all college football, all the time.

 

@GeorgeSchroeder
Another USA Today scribe, Schroeder freely dispenses observations on a variety of topics, not just college football. He's moving away from Oregon, though, so no more Springfield police log.

 

@DanRubenstein
Okay, so the SB Nation talking torso only occasionally touches on college football, but dude's funny.

 

 

@BlairKerkhoff
If you prefer your college football with a midwestern, heartland flavor, it doesn't get any more heartland than the KC Star's Blair Kerkhoff.

 

@edsbs
It's more of a general college site, but I couldn't let this Twitter rundown lapse without mentioning the guys over at Every Day Should Be Saturday, who freely share a love of college football with a slightly skewed, always amusing perspective.

@celebrityhottub
Another member of the "Every Day Should Be Saturday" empire, sir broosk regales with absurdist observations, never failing to bring the funny on college football and anything else that springs to mind.

 

Teaser:
<p> These tweeting 50 will keep you entertained, educated and occasionally enraged</p>
Post date: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 14:20
All taxonomy terms: Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Golf
Path: /golf/tiger-vs-jack-tale-tape
Body:

Through last month's Masters, the 37-year-old Tiger Woods has 14 wins in 63 major championship starts as a professional; through the 1977 Masters, the 37-year-old Nicklaus had 14 wins in 61 major championship starts as a professional.

That's some amazing career symmetry right there, but it seems appropriate, given that Tiger came out of the gate with Nicklaus' major championship record as his ultimate target.

For a long time, Woods was well ahead of Nicklaus' career pace, but a drought that is nearing five years in duration has put a serious dent in Tiger's major aspirations. Of course, Nicklaus won his last major at age 46, giving Woods nine more years of viability on the major championship scene, a reasonable assumption considering the similarity of their career trajectories.

Here are the final four majors of Nicklaus' career, all of which came at age 38 and beyond:
1978 British Open (age 38)
1980 U.S. Open (age 40)
1980 PGA Championship (age 40)
1986 Masters (age 46)

Woods turns 46 in December 2021. Between now and then, there will be 36 major championships contested; Woods needs to win five of them to reach his career Holy Grail of 19 major championships.

Of course, Tiger has already moved well past Nicklaus into second on the Tour's all-time wins ledger. Tiger trails only Sam Snead, who won 82 times over a 30-year span; Woods has crammed his 78 wins into 17-plus stellar, occasionally storm-tossed seasons on Tour.

Jack thinks he'll do it. "I still think he'll break my record," Nicklaus said during the Honda Classic. "Tiger's talent, at 37 ... it's not that old. I won four after that. They were spread out. It wasn't that difficult. I don't think for Tiger to get four or five more — or six or seven — is that big a stretch.
"But that said, he has still got to do it. He hasn't won one in five years. He had better get with it if he's going to."

So let's look at the two legends — Tiger today, and Nicklaus at a similar point in his career.
Bottom line from the data presented here: Tiger's building the better overall career, but Jack remains the greatest performer in major championship history. That's the carrot that Tiger is still chasing, and he has time to get there.

 

                                                                                  Tiger Woods            Jack Nicklaus
Tournaments won (through 300 starts)                77                                 54
Tournament winning % (300 starts)                   26.0                              18.0
Majors won (first 63 starts)                                 14                                 14
Major winning %                                                      22.2                              22.2
Major top 5s                                                               31                                 41
Major top 10s                                                             37                                 48
Longest streak of top-5 in majors                        6                                   7
Longest streak of top-10 in majors                      8                                  13
Lowest scoring avg.                                          8 times                         8 times
Money leader                                                    9 times                         8 times

Teaser:
<p> A Comparison of Woods and Nicklaus through 300 starts</p>
Post date: Monday, May 13, 2013 - 11:18
All taxonomy terms: Sergio Garcia, Tiger Woods, Golf
Path: /golf/10-amazing-stats-players-championship
Body:

Some Twitter comedian observed that Tiger Woods apparently retained ownership of Sergio Garcia in his pre-nup with Elin. That's harsh, but this much remains clear: Even after his perceived struggles of the last few major-less seasons, Tiger is far more prepared for the big moment than Garcia.

Fourteen years after their memorable duel at the 1999 PGA Championship, their respective careers have taken wildly divergent paths. After yesterday's win at The Players Championship, Woods now has 78 career PGA Tour wins. Sergio has had his moments — eight Tour wins, 10 Euro wins, various Ryder Cup heroics — but did anyone really think that Sergio would survive the 17-18 gauntlet yesterday? The golf gods simple weren't going to allow it, especially after Garcia's Saturday whining about Tiger distracting him.

The amazing numbers from the weekend's festivities:

4 With the win, Tiger Woods is only four wins behind all-time PGA Tour wins leader Sam Snead, who won his final Tour event at age 52. Tiger is 37. I think he has time to get there.

13 Garcia required 13 shots to navigate the final two holes at TPC Sawgrass, following up his quad at 17 with a double-bogey 6 at 18, where he rinsed another ball.

12 The win was Woods' fourth of the 2013 season, marking the 12th season of his career with four wins or more. Think about that: For most players, four wins denotes a career-making year. Tiger's had 12 of them.

53-4 Woods ran his career record to 53-4 when holding at least a share of the 54-hole lead. He's the Mariano Rivera of golfers; give him the lead, and it's Enter Sandman.

300 Woods won the 300th start of his career. He also won the 100th and 200th starts of his career. Tiger apparently likes round numbers.

26 Tiger has now won 26 percent of his career PGA Tour starts. More than a quarter of the time he's teed it up, he's won. For reference, after his 300th start, Jack Nicklaus had 54 wins, a winning percentage of .180.

+13 The day was not without drama, thanks largely to Woods' double bogey at 14. For his career, Woods is 13-over par on that hole.

10 TPC Sawgrass has historically not been terribly friendly to Tiger. This year marked the first time in 10 years that Woods completed four par-or-better rounds in one Players.

4 Woods has his fourth victory, and it's only May 13. It's the earliest in a season that Woods has ever earned his fourth win.

3.25 Yesterday, the infamous par-3 17th claimed its share of victims. Players navigated the 137-yard hole in an average of 3.25 strokes on Sunday, the highest of the week. On Thursday, the average was 3.08; on Friday, 2.97; and on Saturday, 3.03. Of course, Sergio's 7 at the hole skews the Sunday average slightly.

Teaser:
<p> Tiger Woods Wins, Sergio Gags, and All Is Well on Tour</p>
Post date: Monday, May 13, 2013 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, NFL, NBA
Path: /college-football/athlons-essential-11-links-day-may-6
Body:

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for May 10.

• Leading off today's Essential 11: They're triplets, former South Alabama cheerleaders, now bikini models. You're welcome. 

Turns out the Heat fan who enthusiastically gave Joakim Noah the finger has an interesting back story.

• Maxim put out its Hot 100 list. It's kind of a strange ranking. No. 1 (Miley Cyrus) is highly debatable. No. 69 (Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend) doesn't even exist.

• They rule the SEC West. So how does Alabama's 2013 schedule compare to Texas A&M's? Bad news: They're both easy.

• Speaking of Alabama, Nick Saban doesn't have time for Bob Stoops' anti-SEC blathering. He's too busy dominating.

• Speaking of Texas A&M, they're planning to make Kyle Field pants-wettingly loud.

• I'm old, so a list of the greatest old athletes is a must-link.

• Earlier in the week, Steeler Ryan Clark said that Tom Brady "sees ghosts" under pressure. Apparently Clark woke up with a horse head in his bed, because now he says that Brady is "the greatest living American."

• Frivolous lawsuit of the day: Dr. Phil is suing Deadspin for spoiling part 2 of his interview with the Manti Te'o hoaxer. If spoilers are a sue-able offense, they'll have to shut down the internet.

That Thunder dancer accused by a blogger of being chunky could remain silent no longer.

• Is this Japanese kid the next Usain Bolt? That's kooky talk, but 10.01 is impressive for a 17-year-old.

 

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com


May 9

Angels pitcher CJ Wilson has reportedly snagged himself some weapons-grade WAG, supermodel Lisalla Montenegro. Nothing eases the sting of a crappy start like getting engaged to a supermodel. I assume.

A Blues fan supports the team in a unique way. I would prefer face-painting.

This Miami Heat fan tells Joakim Noah that her team is No. 1.

• Don't know if they planned it, but this digital Tim Duncan photobomb is tremendous.

• Everything's coming up Pitino. Now he's reeled in a huge marlin.

• There's an art to flopping. These 20 floppers haven't mastered it.

• Who says Michael Bay is a lousy director? It was his idea to put Megan Fox on a trampoline. That's genius at work.

Vijay Singh vs. the PGA Tour: Who ya got?

• I make fun of women's basketball as much as the next jerk, but this is some pretty sick shooting.

The umps botched a home-run call in last night's Indians-A's game. All this needed was George Brett going nuts and threatening the ump with bodily harm.

Coming out of spring practice, the SEC's top two teams are in the West.

• Today's video features a Peyton Manning-directed pie in the face on live TV.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com


May 8

• They make those annoying stoppages in play a little more enjoyable: Coed presents the dancers of the NBA Conference semifinals.

• Lots of people love "Bull Durham." I'm not one of them, but if you are, you might be interested to learn 10 things you probably didn't know about the movie, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

So Tiger Woods got hammered at the Met Gala after-party at New York's Boom Boom Room and embarrassed his new girlfriend Lindsey Vonn. She's probably embarrassed that her new arm candy can't hold his liquor. The photos of a leering, bleary-eyed Tiger are priceless. 

A stupid NFL rule will prohibit the Bears' top pick, Kyle Long, from participating in OTAs. Apparently the NFL's been taking notes from the NCAA.

• The league that gave us Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson and Marcus Lattimore has more to offer this season at the running back position.

• Sports has its own version of one-hit wonders: athletes who are defined by one play. Hey, one is better than none. Just ask the Macarena guys.

• A waterskiing baby? A waterskiing baby.

• One of Jalen Rose's keys to playoff success: Make sure your wife and your girlfriends don't cross paths.

A fan blew off some steam at a snooker match.

• This is always a fun genre: First-pitch fails, this one courtesy of some international pop star I've never heard of.

• Marcell Ozuna lost a fly ball in the lights. Fortunately for him, it landed several rows into the outfield bleachers.

• Kevin Durant should be outlawed. No one should be able to do things like this.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com


May 7

• Looks like Carrie Underwood (pictured) is replacing Faith Hill as the voice of the Sunday Night Football intro. Makes sense.

Last night, basketball, hockey and baseball happened. Guess I shouldn't have watched Real Housewives with the wife.

• A couple weeks after asking everyone to honor their privacy, Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn hit the red carpet last night.

Five former SEC players are already impressing their new bosses in rookie camp.

One NFL scout calls Johnny Manziel a "marginal pro." He probably said the same thing about Russell Wilson.

A generous fan put on a show for the refs at the Red Wings game last night.

• Wow. Looks like TBS is horning in on future Final Four coverage.

20 game endings that made you say, WTF just happened?

One of Joel Hanrahan's offerings last night was juuust a bit outside.

Forbes released its list of Most Influential Athletes. No. 1 is currently unemployed. Good news, everybody — you don't need a job to be influential.

Today's lesson: Know your urine donor.

• It was 24 years ago today. The legend of Michael Jordan took a quantum leap with The Shot, when he proved that, unlike Craig Ehlo, the laws of gravity didn't apply to him.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com


May 6

FHM's list of the sexiest women in the world included several athletes, WAGs and sports announcers. Fortunately, Kate Upton once dated Justin Verlander, so she continually pops up on lists like this one.

• Here's something nice and depressing for a Monday morning: 20 athletes who made boatloads of cash while doing nothing.

• This is some sort of weird cannibalistic imagery: A dog dressed as a hot dog, eating a hot dog.

Jaguars fans have gone straight to the top in their efforts to get Tim Tebow on their team. In related news, if only Mike Ditka still coached a team, Tebow would have a job today.

• It's a Brave New World out there: The SEC Network has ushered in a new era of college sports.

• Talk about big shoes to fill: The top 20 SEC draft picks, and who has to replace them.

• This stuff has been around awhile, but it's still funny: Legendary outdoorsman Bill Dance's blooper reel.

A 39-year-old grandma tried out for the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. She made it to the final cuts.

• Gregg Popovich compared Steph Curry to Michael Jordan. Curry wondered about Pop's sobriety level.

• It wasn't quite Hendrix at Woodstock, but Metallica performed the national anthem before a Giants game.

• Today's video is for all you fans who watch NASCAR just for the wrecks. Kurt Busch got airborne this weekend.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

Teaser:
<p> Rounding up the web's best sports links so you don't have to.</p>
Post date: Friday, May 10, 2013 - 10:42
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/10-athletes-turned-musicians
Body:

Many superstar athletes have been bitten by the musical bug and have created successful second acts for themselves on stage. Others should have just ignored the urge to sing, or at least practiced in front of a mirror (we're looking at you, Carl Lewis).

We'll start with some of the best and throw in a few of the worst for giggles.

Mike Reid
Reid's two All-Pro seasons as a Bengals defensive tackle (1972-73) weren't enough to get him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but his songwriting prowess, primarily in the country genre, was enough to get him in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Here's his No. 1 hit from 1990, "Walk on Faith."

 

Wayman Tisdale
The late Wayman Tisdale had a solid 12-year NBA career during which he averaged 15 points and six rebounds per game. He was also an exceptionally accomplished musician. Tisdale, who got his musical start playing bass guitar at his dad's church, ultimately mastered the instrument and recorded eight jazz albums prior to his tragic death in 2009. One of those albums, "Face to Face," reached No. 1 on the Billboard contemporary jazz chart.

 

Bernie Williams
Williams was a key part of the Yankees dynasty of the late 1990s-early 2000s, but even then, he had one eye on Latin-flavored music. The smooth-swinging center fielder specializes in smooth jazz guitar in his post-baseball life.

 

Johnny Mathis
The legendary crooner was also an accomplished track athlete and was even asked to try out for the 1956 Olympic Team in the high jump, but instead went to New York to keep an appointment to pursue a recording contract. Chances are, we would have heard his smooth tenor eventually even if he had gone to Melbourne.

 

Justin McBride
McBride is a veteran professional bullrider and two-time PBR world champion (2005, 2007). He's turned his attention to music, and I'll give you one guess what genre he's pursuing.

 

Julio Iglesias
Not my taste, but there's no denying Iglesias' international superstardom. Not many people know that he was a budding soccer star when an auto accident laid him up for an extended period. Depressed, he turned to music to pass the time. The rest is easy-listening history.

 

Cassius Clay
Even before changing his name, Muhammad Ali was laying claim to the title of The Greatest. He even recorded a mostly spoken-word album in the early 1960s called "I Am the Greatest." That doesn't make him a musician, but hey — it's an album, and there's music playing, and he's Muhammad Ali. He makes the list. Here is his rendition of "Stand by Me."

 

Shaquille O'Neal
The Big Aristotle tried his hand at rap. I'm not a connoisseur of the genre, so I'll leave any quality judgments to others. He did sell a lot of albums. Here he is freestyling about his former friend and teammate Kobe Bryant. I think there were some hard feelings.

 

Oscar de la Hoya
The boxing champ put out an album that — astonishingly, if this clip is any indication — was nominated for a Grammy Award.

 

John McEnroe
Tennis' bad boy wielded a rock-and-roll axe for The Johnny Smyth Band back in the 1990s, and he's retained his chops through the years. And when you're John McEnroe, you get invited on stage to jam with The Pretenders.

 

Now, just for fun, a couple less successful forays into the music scene.

Deion Sanders
Prime Time recorded a poorly received eponymous funk album in the early 1990s. There's a reason it was poorly received; it was poorly recorded. Enjoy.

 

Carl Lewis
The granddaddy of all failed musical moments from athletes. Lewis butchers our National Anthem, giving us the version written by Francis Scott "Off" Key (to quote Charlie Steiner). Steiner's reaction might be the best part of this clip.

Teaser:
<p> Some famous jocks have tried music, with varying degrees of success</p>
Post date: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 - 14:10
All taxonomy terms: College Football, NBA, MLB
Path: /college-football/athlons-essential-11-links-day-april-29
Body:

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for May 3.

What colleges produce the smartest, sexiest graduates? Harvard gave us Rashida Jones (pictured), so it's on the list.

• Tomorrow, people in comically oversized hats will gather to watch horses run. Here's a rundown of memorable Derby fashion statements. Speaking of the Derby, this article takes issue with calling it the greatest two minutes in sports.

A toddler with his pants at his ankles wandered through the background of the Houston Rockets postgame show. Given that this is the NBA. the kid could be anyone's, but my money's on Calvin Murphy.

Hockey player Lars Eller lay on the ice last night in a pool of his own blood. How was your night?

• Bizarre story of the day: The mother of an Alabama basketball player was arrested for kidnapping a six-year-old.

• For people my age, this is simultaneously interesting and depressing: Catching up with the greatest pro wrestlers of the '80s and '90s.

• Did you know that Texas A&M's Kyle Field will soon be the SEC's biggest stadium? You invite the new kid in and they think they own the place. Here's a list of all the SEC stadiums and their seating capacities.

Is Clay Buchholz a cheater? Buchholz says no; the Blue Jays broadcaster says yes.

The Angels game was delayed on account of bees. That's not the kind of buzz those fans came for, amirite?

• This one's for a niche audience, but here are the 15 Greatest Sports Moments from FX's hilarious spy spoof Archer.

• Golden State's Steph Curry has emerged as a superstar in these playoffs. Here are 12 minutes of Curry brilliance condensed into a one-minute video.

 

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com


May 2

• It's NBA playoff season. SI has a dandy slideshow of dancers and cheerleaders from every playoff team.

• This is cool: Dream matchups brought to you via GIFs. I think the Babe was surprised by the movement on Yu's fastball.

Jay Bruce lashed out at his Twitter haters. His first mistake is paying attention to his Twitter haters.

A kid with cancer had a dream come true when he played in a soccer match against the Portland Timbers. In related news, there are too many kids with cancer.

In the case of Deion Sanders Jr., the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. He has Versace sheets on his dorm room bed, because of course he does.

• Les Miles has a dilemma: His star running back apparently can't stop living the thug life.

• Golfers aren't often considered cool. Steve Rushin may make you reconsider, at least in a few cases.

Who says there aren't any jobs to be had?

Here are the 10 best things about the month of May.

Awesome pictures of athletes with giant fish. Some of these guys are going to need a bigger boat.

The Sharks announcers got annoyed with Vancouver's Green Men fans, calling them "40-year-old virgins," among other things. Charlie Kelly does not approve.

• The Pirates lineup, SNL style. Somebody snarkier than me might say that the last time the Pirates were good, SNL was actually funny.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com


May 1

• One person who was surprised when she heard Jason Collins was gay? Carolyn Moos (pictured), his ex-fiancee.

Warriors-Nuggets is getting testy, and interesting.

• This is always interesting: How were this year's first-round picks ranked as recruits? Two of the top 5 had no star rating at all.

Adrian Peterson: By the way, this 2,500 yard thing? I'm serious about that.

Feel better, Bryce Harper. At least you didn't do a Canseco and let the ball bounce off your head for a homer.

100 photos of athletes as fresh-faced rookies, before the money and the trappings of fame corrupted them.

• Apparently, deer antler spray is A-OK with the PGA. Vijay Singh got cleared to play, then promptly withdrew.

The interesting, though complicated, backstory of the Tiger Woods ruling at The Masters.

• I'm no hockey expert, but shouldn't goaltenders stay kinda close to the goal? Like this guy, who cost his team a playoff game.

• Speaking of hockey, according to this broadcaster, the Blackhawks had a tremendous season in more ways than one.

Tommy Lasorda is about as impressed with PSY as I am.

• Danica Patrick tried some shots from center ice at the Blackhawks game. One went well, the other three not so much. Now we've found two sports Danica sucks at. I kid, I kid.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com


April 30

• I'm late to this little dust-up, but a female blogger got in hot water for suggesting that this Oklahoma City Thunder dancer was too fat. What say you, Essential Links readers?

• Jason Collins came out in SI this week. Yawn. I'm more interested in the fact that he was high school teammates with actor Jason Segal.

Here's some news you can really use: Pizza prevents cancer.

• Fans in Oakland got a two-for-one — a 19-inning marathon that ended in a walk-off and a pie in the face.

Move over, Grantland Rice. This is the greatest lead ever written: "Henry Gribbohm says he lost his life savings, $2,600, on a carnival game and all he has to show for it is a stuffed banana with dreadlocks."

Josh Hamilton has transformed the simple autograph into a new social medium.

Welcome to San Diego, Manti Te'o.

• For Draftniks, it's never too early to think about next year. Here are some SEC prospects for 2014. Athlon chimes in with its top 75 for next year's draft.

• Insult to injury: Tennessee's Tyler Bray declared, went undrafted, and didn't even make this year's all-undrafted team.

Cheer up, Tim Tebow. Somebody wants you.

• Sometimes, the posterizer gets posterized. Last night, Carlos Delfino victimized Kevin Durant.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com


April 29

• April is almost in the books, and the folks at Coed were kind enough to assemble the sports ladies who wowed us this month. Like the USC Song Girls (pictured).

Michael Jordan got married this weekend to longtime GF Yvette Prieto. The guest list was pretty impressive: Tiger Woods, Scottie Pippen, Patrick Ewing, Toni Kukoc, Usher, Spike Lee. I don't think Juanita was there, though.

The Jets have waived Tim Tebow. I still think Jacksonville makes the most sense for Tebow. That, or Canada. Or The Bachelor. Here's a collection of amusing Tebow tweets in the wake of the announcement.

Rays reporter Kelly Nash took the most amazing selfie of all time (if it's real, which I'm still not convinced it is).

Nats pitcher Henry Rodriguez had some, ahem, control problems yesterday.

• Many athletes turn to the silver screen when their competing days are over. Some are not very successful at the transition. The worst athletes-turned-actors of all time.

• Staggering stat of the day: 25 percent of this year's NFL Draft picks were from the SEC. It's almost unfair at this point.

Smokin' Jay Cutler played along with the meme, with the help of his baby mama.

• Dwight Howard's had a rough season in LA. The low point: Getting called out on Twitter by Magic.

J.J. Watt charged the mound in a celebrity softball game benefiting his own charity. He was just goofin' around. I think.

• Got two minutes? Watch this cartpath-aided 500-yard drive by Louis Oosthuizen.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

Teaser:
<p> Rounding up the web's best sports links so you don't have to.</p>
Post date: Friday, May 3, 2013 - 10:52
All taxonomy terms: College Football, College Basketball, NFL
Path: /college-football/athlons-essential-11-links-day-april-22
Body:

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for April 26.

• The new Rock/Marky Mark vehicle "Pain and Gain" opens today. There's no pain involved in this slideshow of actress/model Mindy Robinson, who's in the movie too.

• Fat guys ruled the night at the NFL Draft. Here's the breakdown from Grantland. Meanwhile, Athlon professor Braden Gall offers his grades for each pick.

The NFL Draft party for Syracuse tackle Justin Pugh got real when he got the call from the Giants.

• Andy Reid dressed down for his first draft with the Chiefs, and nothing stands out in a room full of people like an obese man in a Hawaiian shirt.

• Are you happy now, Pro Football Weekly? Geno Smith sat undrafted in the Green Room for all to see. Note to future prospects: Don't show up unless you know you're going to be drafted.

• Mr. Irrelevant's name won't be called until tomorrow, but he'll join a proud fraternity. Here are the last 10 and what they're doing now.

• As promised, Rick Pitino got a tattoo to commemorate Louisville's national title. And it's kind of a doozy.

SEC titans Saban, Miles and Spurrier weigh in about future scheduling.

A three-legged alligator crossing a fairway added a little local flavor to the Zurich Classic.

• Humor is subjective, but this countdown of the 50 funniest actors of all time is pretty good. One quibble: They leave out Rodney Dangerfield. No respect.

• I run hot and cold on Frank Caliendo, but I gotta admit, he's got Mel Kiper down pretty good.

 

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com


April 25

• It's Christmas morning for Draft addicts. Here are some great moments in Draft WAG history, including the time we were introduced to Ryan Tannehill's wife (pictured).

• To celebrate Draft Day, here's a vintage photo of Jets fans preparing to be royally pissed by their team's draft pick.

Mandatory offers up its NFL Draft matrix — best- and worst-case scenarios for prospects. And, if you're not worried about liver damage, here's an NFL Draft drinking game that's sure to result in dangerous levels of intoxication. Prepare to call in sick tomorrow.

• If any first-round prospects are reading this — and I know you are — here's a handy guide to bro-hugging Roger Goodell. We're here to help.

• One last word of warning to NFL GMs: Avoid over-drafting the workout warriors.

Apparently, Mel Kiper is some sort of ageless monster. Given the widow's peak, I'm thinking vampire.

• I don't know if this helps Mark Richt, or hurts him: Georgia has had the SEC's most NFL Draft picks over the last 10 years.

A lackluster Hawks-Pacers series is slightly redeemed by monster dunks. Slightly.

• Masters champ Adam Scott wisely shot down the Bachelor rumors. Here are 20 more athletes who would make terrible Bachelors.

Boston Magazine used its cover to fashion a cool tribute to the bombing victims.

• Gareth Maybin is a golfer you've never heard of. He's also possibly the greatest trick shot artist out there.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com


April 24

Lindsey Vonn's parents apparently approve of Tiger Woods. Apparently, they don't follow golf, or the news. Of course, this provides us an excuse to link to Ms. Vonn's fine work for Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue.

• The Draft is like porn for NFL fans. But that doesn't mean there aren't cringe-inducing moments, like when Roger Goodell lurches toward giant men to hug them awkwardly. Here's a rundown of the most awkward NFL Draft moments.

Add the Jaguars' hilariously sad Draft war room to the awkward list.

The best part of this Harrison Barnes dunk is the reaction from his teammates on the bench.

• In other playoff action, JR Smith beat the first quarter buzzer with a 35-footer, and then he celebrated with a classic Pete Townsend windmill.

The college football playoff has a name: the College Football Playoff. Catchy. Wonder how many committees it took to come up with it. The first championship game, not surprisingly, will be held in Jerry Jones' palace in Arlington on Jan. 12, 2015.

• You'll never guess who leads the SEC in turnover margin over the last five years. Alabama, you say? Okay, maybe that wasn't that hard. The SEC's tale of the tape in turnovers from Saturday Down South.

• The power of images: ESPN succeeded in transforming JaMarcus Russell from a punchline to a guy you actually want to root for.

• Just when you think there's no hope for humanity, you read this: A guy is ending his college track career early to donate bone marrow to a person he's never met.

• Manny's gonna be Manny, no matter what language they're cheering in.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com


April 23

• When sports figures procreate, the results can sometimes be pleasing to the eye. Here's a slideshow of sports star spawn, including Alex Schlereth, daughter of NFL player Mark (pictured).

• It's NBA playoff season, meaning it's time for Chris Paul to do the spectacular and make it look routine.

• With the NBA regular season behind us, SI presents The Floppies: the 10 most egregious flops, collapses and dives of the season.

• Impending NFL Draft pick D.J. Fluker tweeted that he took money from agents while at Alabama. Naturally, Fluker's current agent claimed hacking. The tweet's been scrubbed, but it lives on at Deadspin.

• People. They're the worst. Here are 21 supremely annoying fan behaviors at sporting events. Of course, on the flip side, some fans are cool. I said some. And then there are fans who are just desperate, like the overweight Jets fan in the jersey who'll show up at the Draft just to boo his team's pick.

• Old and busted: Never spend a high draft pick on a guard. The new hotness: Guards are sexy picks — four could go in the first round.

Will Farrell and Jack Black are making a movie about a 23-year-long game of tag. Based on a true story. Color me slightly intrigued.

• How do you motivate a team that's won three titles in four years? Nick Saban will find a way.

• Doing some job hunting this year? Here's a list of the best and worst jobs for 2013. No. 1 on the list is Actuary. I don't know what an actuary does, but sounds exciting.

• Gotta love Green Man, even if Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson doesn't.

 

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com


April 22

• The new Tom Cruise vehicle "Oblivion" opened over the weekend. If Tom doesn't do it for you, maybe his co-star, former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko, will. That's her in the photo.

• If you've ever had a bad first day at a new job, watch this clip and feel better about yourself (strong content warning): A North Dakota weekend anchor opened his first day on the job by cursing into a live microphone. He tweeted his shame and remorse, but he was suspended.

Jermichael Finley's baby mama napalmed him on Twitter over unpaid child support. I'm glad I'm not Jermichael Finley today.

• More celebrities behaving badly: A-lister Reese Witherspoon was arrested over the weekend for objecting to her agent husband's drunk driving arrest. She actually played the "Do you know who I am" card with the cops. In her defense, her mug shot does display a degree of remorse. Not to be outdone, Al Michaels was also popped for alleged DUI over the weekend. And Raven Rolando McClain was arrested in his hometown of Decatur, Ala., for the third time in two years. Hey Rolando: I think the cops in Decatur are onto you.

Seven SEC spring games, seven observations from Saturday Down South. At Auburn, they rolled the oaks at Toomer's Corner one last time. At Tennessee, they dressed in their Saturday best.

This is very good news. The headline says it all.

• Another spring game, another kid with cancer gets the thrill of a lifetime. We can't get enough of this kind of stuff, especially after the events of the last week.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

Teaser:
<p> Rounding up the web's best sports links so you don't have to.</p>
Post date: Friday, April 26, 2013 - 10:28
All taxonomy terms: College Football, NFL, NBA
Path: /college-football/athlons-essential-11-links-day-april-15
Body:

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for April 19.

• I think we can all agree that this one of the craziest, suckiest weeks in recent memory. I also think we could all use a slideshow of Michael Bay's sexiest leading ladies, like Scarlett Johansen (pictured), as a diversion.

One guy witnessed both of this week's tragedies and lived to tell about it. I just know that I'm not following this guy on his next excursion.

Some dude from Peoria is suing Derrick Rose for missing the season, claiming that as a Bulls fan, he suffered mental breakdowns and emotional distress due to Rose's absence. I can believe the mental breakdown part.

We now know who trashed their hotel room at the NFL Combine, leaving urine, feces and garbage in their wake. Guys, not to go all HR stickler on you, but this is not the way to impress future employers.

• Butt, meet couch: The top 10 video games still to come in 2013.

An interesting take on the college sports pay-for-play issue.

• Hot girls riding mechanical bulls? Hot girls riding mechanical bulls.

• Clown sale, bro: Bryce Harper is bummed that the Nats sold his Opening Day jersey without asking.

I link to this story about Derek Jeter only because I think the photoshop work is hilarious. 

Judging from this interview, the Ryan Lochte reality show will provide ample unintentional comedy gold.

• Will Notre Dame's new TV deal slow realignment? MrSEC sure doesn't think so

Jose Canseco did a Reddit Ask Me Anything. The results were predictably tremendous.

• Today's video: the best old-school throwdowns of this NBA season.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com


April 18

• As we bid farewell to Katherine Webb, her 15 minutes quite possibly up, here's a gallery of her greatest Splash moments.

Giants teammates shared a special dugout moment last night. Dude, you got me - my mouth was open.

10 world records that should stand forever, simply because, who would want to try to break them?

This Auburn fan paid tribute to Toomer's Corner in the most SEC way possible.

• Ever wonder what your favorite athlete would look like toothless? Click here and find out. Warning: Some of these are funny, but others are pure nightmare fuel.

• Tired of post-football tragedy stories? How about this - Myron Rolle is leaving football for medical school.

Masters champ Adam Scott will not be on The Bachelor. Turns out he has a girlfriend named Marie. Sorry, ladies.

This old guy got nailed right in the mobile device by a foul ball at a softball game. But his face was spared.

Phil Jackson is apparently itching to make a comeback. Something tells me he won't have trouble finding work.

• A California high schooler went all Johnny Vander Meer on his opponents, tossing back-to-back no-no's.

• Walk it off, Coach. Butch Jones stalked four miles during a recent Tennessee spring practice.

• America comes together in the wake of tragedy. Fans of the Bruins and Sabres drowned out the national anthem singer with their own spirited, patriotic rendition.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com


April 17

Katherine Webb has been forced to withdraw from that celebrity diving show due to injury. That news offers the excuse to run a photo of Ms. Webb. I'm just glad that Louie Anderson survived his experience on the show.

• The great Pat Summerall died yesterday. Here's an interesting account of how one kick launched him on a trajectory toward becoming a legend.

• Attention, degenerate gamblers: Yes, there are NFL Draft prop bets.

• Looking for proof that this NFL Draft lacks star power? ESPN The Mag put Honey Badger, he of the 10-plus failed drug tests, on the cover of its Draft issue.

The best fictional sports performances ever captured on celluloid.

What to watch for at Alabama's spring game this Saturday. My prediction: Boring, efficient and injury-free.

My colleagues at Athlon identify the 25 best sports-related ad campaigns of all time. I haven't looked yet, but "This is SportsCenter" had better be No. 1.

• Redemption for Shoelace: After one of the worst first pitches of all time, Denard Robinson did much better with his second chance.

• Remember the 7-year-old cancer patient who ran for the touchdown at the Nebraska spring game? He's got his own football card now.

Adam Scott is Masters champ. Adam Scott is also the dude from Parks and Rec. Confused?

• Random photo of the day: Here's a picture of Shaq holding Bubba Watson.

• The NBA: Where athletes and celebrities collide. Here, Billy Crystal approves of Jamal Crawford's ridiculous assist.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com


April 16

• Seems a little disrespectful to have fun on the Internet this morning. But I think we could all use a little diversion. So here we go. Sunday Night Football needs a new songstress, since Faith Hill (pictured) announced her retirement from the gig via Twitter. For continuity's sake, Carrie Underwood makes a lot of sense as a replacement.

Ben Revere made a spectacular diving catch. Through the magic of the GIF, you can watch it over and over.

The Chicago Tribune paid an appropriate tribute to Boston this morning.

• MLB food porn: The best new ballpark food of 2013.

Things you think are true, but aren't.

• This is just so insane, it might work: The Bachelor franchise wants Masters champion Adam Scott. Only if he brings Stevie Williams as his wingman.

• Vin Scully is a priceless living artifact of another age. Here he is telling the story of his job interview with Branch Rickey.

• Are you an SEC hater who would love for an upstart to end the league's stranglehold on the national title? These three teams offer you hope.

Lumpy Rutherford died, and another piece of my childhood died with him.

Greg Norman was too nervous to watch The Masters. Back in the day, he was apparently too nervous to play it, too.

• Porn for baseball nerds: The Hall of Fame has a copy of the Cubs' scouting report on Ernie Banks.

• This fan may repel women with his goofy giant novelty glove, but he can snag a baseball.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com


April 15

• Eligible bachelor Adam Scott won a golf tournament yesterday. He used to date tennis player Ana Ivanovic (pictured). Here's a slideshow to remind Adam of what he's missing, but I doubt he cares much right about now.

Ladies and gentlemen, your Masters champion. The only downside to Adam Scott's win: Steve Williams got to share it with him.

• Think the Aussies wanted this Green Jacket? Check out this photo of Adam Scott after his big 72nd hole birdie, and notice what countryman Marc Leishman's doing in the background.

A roundup of Twitter reactions to the action at Augusta. Aaron Rodgers summed it up: "Wow. I love golf."

• Golf Digest gives us a rundown of things that were overheard in The Masters galleries. My favorite: "I'm drinking beer and watching the best golfers in the world. Every day after this one automatically sucks."

• No matter who wins The Masters, Augusta National is the real star of the show. Here's photographic proof.

• Adam Scott moves up, Kobe goes down: Grantland's roundup of an eventful weekend in sports.

• "42" opened strong over the weekend. Here are 42 classic images of Jackie Robinson from the Sporting News archives.

• The '90s were a glorious time for the NBA. It was Michael Jordan's heyday after all. But he wasn't the only attraction. Here are the 30 greatest NBA players of the '90s.

Five SEC spring games, five observations from Saturday Down South.

• This is how we do soccer hooliganism over here.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

Teaser:
<p> Rounding up the web's best sports links so you don't have to.</p>
Post date: Friday, April 19, 2013 - 09:00
Path: /golf/adam-scott-wins-masters
Body:

CBS broadcast Ian Baker-Finch summed it up for his elated countrymen: From Down Under to the top of the world.

Adam Scott has his long-awaited first major, and Australia has its long-awaited first Masters, all on the strength of an anchored putter that for much of Masters Sunday had been nothing but dead weight for Scott.

"To make a couple of putts to win The Masters is just an amazing feeling," Scott said in Butler Cabin.

Somewhere, Greg Norman, the star-crossed, tragic figure who let multiple Masters slip away, has to be smiling.

"Part of this belongs to him," Scott said of Norman.

After a weekend dominated by Tiger Woods' unlucky break and unluckier two-stroke penalty on Friday — a turn of events that unleashed a furious social media reaction and threatened to consume golf's greatest tournament in controversy — the Aussies and the Argentine took control on another dramatic Masters Sunday. And after some stumbling and bumbling in the driving rain, we were treated to an electric five-minute stretch at the 72nd hole and a tense, dramatic playoff that totally redeemed the final round, and player who hadn't made anything all day made two hero putts for the ages.

Scott, the author of one of golf's epic collapses at the 2012 British Open, had appeared to find sweet redemption with an electrifying birdie putt on the 72nd hole that unleashed another awkward celebration involving caddie Steve Williams (reminiscent of the Urkel-esque high-five that Williams and Woods shared at the 2005 Masters).

But Cabrera, trailing by one, answered with one of the greatest, clutchest shots in major championship history, a ripped iron approach to three feet that led to the tying birdie.

In Sudden Death, the players matched pars at 18, and after the trip back to No. 10, they matched perfect drives and clutch approach shots. But after Cabrera's putt narrowly missed dropping in the back door, Scott calmly drove home his winning putt, to the considerable relief of an entire nation — not to mention sportswriters who were facing deadlines and worried that darkness might extend this tournament to Monday.

Cabrera came into the 2013 Masters ranked No. 299 in the world — sandwiched between Arnond Vongvanij and Doug McGuigan. But the ungainly, unflappable Argentinian almost grabbed a third major championship, this one even more unlikely than the first two. He remains the only multiple winner whose only PGA Tour wins are major championships

Tiger's Travails
Woods' two-shot penalty following what was judged to be an illegal drop was the talk of much of the weekend. And even after the penalty, Woods entered the final round within four shots of the leaders and one dazzling round away from a fifth green jacket. But a front-nine 37 prevented any sort of momentum, and an inward 33 wasn't nearly enough. "I played well," said the 14-time major champion. "Unforunately I didn't make enough putts and I missed a few shots here and there. I thought if I shot 65 I would have won it outright and it turns out that might have been the number."

Woods' failure to get within two of the leaders prevented a lingering controversy — although some continue to maintain that Tiger should have withdrawn to honor the spirit of golf sportsmanship.

More Masters Heartbreak for Sneds
Third-round co-leader Brandt Snedeker never found his rhythm on Sunday, posting another disappointing Masters finish five years after his final-round meltdown cost him the 2008 green jacket. A crushing 3-putt at No. 10 and a wet ball at 13 ended Snedeker's chances and left lingering questions about his major mettle.

Cinderella Boy
A chubby-cheeked 14-year-old found his way into Butler Cabin as the low amateur and one of the great stories of this Masters. Guan Tianlang dazzled the galleries with his composure and talent and most notably his putter — he didn't three-putt a single green all week. And a slow play penalty on Friday didn't rattle him or detract from his magical performance. "It's not easy to play here, to make the cut and be low amateur," he said. "I think I did a pretty good job this week and can't believe it's over."

Divots
• Rory McIlroy came in feeling confident. He left feeling frustrated. "That's what this golf course is, it's frustrating," he said. "I know I've played good enough golf here to win it at times, it's just a matter of stringing it all together in one week."

• Another pre-tournament favorite, Phil Mickelson, played miserably — his word, not mine. "I just had an off year," Mickelson said. "I don't know what to tell you. I played poorly. ... This is my favorite place to be, my favorite tournament, and one I look forward to the day after it ends. And to perform like this is disappointing. I'm disappointed in myself because I expect a lot more of myself, out of my game and so forth this week."

• Cabrera was bidding to become the first grandfather to win a major, but he wasn't the only seasoned citizen to perform well. 50-somethings Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer both made spirited runs, only to be betrayed by aging bodies and faulty putters.

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Sunday, April 14, 2013 - 20:03
All taxonomy terms: NFL, NBA, MLB, Golf
Path: /college-football/athlons-essential-11-links-day
Body:

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for April 12.

• Sergio Garcia was your first-round co-leader at The Masters after shooting a bogey-free 66. Probably won't hold up, but in Sergio's honor, here's a picture of one of his ex-girlfriends, tennis player Martina Hingis.

A kid who has probably never shaved shot a 73 at The Masters yesterday and birdied No. 18. Sports makes me feel inadequate sometimes.

Scandal brewing at Augusta National: They've changed the pimento cheese recipe.

• Baseball vied for its share of headlines last night with a Dodgers-Padres brawl that resulted in a fractured Zack Greinke collarbone. To hear the great Vin Scully call the brawl, click here. The confrontation even extended into the parking lot after the game.

• Sometimes blue-chippers just don't pan out. But these SEC 5-star recruits are ready to emerge.

• Reality TV is often the last stop for has-been athletes on their road to oblivion. Here are the most cringe-inducing reality show athletes of all time.

Chadwick Boseman talks about playing the great Jackie Robinson in the movie "42," which opens today.

Did you know that Kobe Bryant tried to launch a rap career? Me neither.

Charging the opposing dugout wielding a bat is no way to prove to the Cubs that you're worth your $30 million contract.

Metta World Peace made a comment that was bizarre even by Metta World Peace standards.

• The Lions have signed YouTube kicking sensation Havard Rugland to a contract. Judging from his video, he's got a shot. Guy's phenomenal.

 

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com


April 11

• Hello, friends: The Masters is underway. I'm expecting big things from Dustin Johnson at Augusta this week. Which could mean an 18th hole greenside shot of Dustin's girlfriend Paulina Gretzky late Sunday afternoon. Which would have Bobby Jones spinning in his grave.

• Alternately, should Tiger Woods win, we'll get a glimpse of his current companion, skier Lindsey Vonn, already decked out in her Augusta finery.

Let's enjoy this little tradition as long as we can.

• Augusta is all about tradition, but there is something a little different about The Masters this year.

• Today's history lesson: Grantland looks back at GQ's piece on Tiger Woods from April 1997.

• It's no Bubba Watson hovercraft, but Michael Jordan has a tricked-out golf cart.

Kobe's line last night: 47 points, eight rebounds, five assists, four blocks, and three steals. How was your night? For the hard-core Kobe lovers, here's video of every one of those 47 points.

• Getting you ready on the outside chance they're our future overlords: 10 bizarre facts about North Korea.

• Also not sports-related: The New York Post-iest headline ever ran today.

The Manning boys have a little fun with ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

• Either a nod to Cubs lore, or some sort of bizarre satanic ritual: Someone delivered a goat's head to Wrigley Field.

• Let's hope this isn't an omen for Rory McIlroy, but his girlfriend/par-3 caddie Caroline Wozniacki proved that she should stick to tennis yesterday.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com


April 10

• Somehow, some way, rich professional golfers are able to score some attractive companionship. Coed presents the WAGs of the 2013 Masters, including Kandi Mahan, wife of Hunter and former Cowboys cheerleaders (pictured).

One golfer, Rory McIlroy, is putting his WAG to work. Caroline Wozniacki will be caddying for him at the Par 3 contest today.

This collection of golf trick shot videos includes a nifty Masters tradition: skimming the ball across the pond at 16 during practice. Vijay Singh managed to hole one using this unusual method.

• It's a slow sports day, so I'll throw a little Seinfeld your way: the best Seinfeld character nicknames. Vegetable Lasagna for the win.

The UConn women won their eighth national championship last night, routing Louisville. But you know that eight isn't enough for Geno Auriemma; it only ties him with Pat Summitt.

The case for South Carolina QB Connor Shaw, the SEC's most underrated player.

Last night, LeBron got caught in midair with nothing to do. So he bounced it off the backboard for a self-assist. That's why he's King James.

• In case you missed it: Papa John himself really enjoyed Louisville's win the other night.

• Pay college football players? Bob Stoops says they're already getting plenty.

Russell Westbrook threw down last night. My favorite part of the clip is Kevin Durant's expression. He knows a good tomahawk when he sees one.

Jermaine O'Neal was apparently too tired to play an overtime period, so he just goaltended a potential game-winner.

• Today's video provides ammo to those who say that Denard Robinson is a runner, not a thrower.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com


April 9

• As we close the books on the NCAA Tournament, we present Coed Magazine's roundup of the sexy superfans of this year's championship game.

• A lackluster tournament was redeemed by a classic title game. With the dust and confetti settling, Athlon picks the winners — and the losers — of this year's NCAA Tournament.

• A couple of great moments from last night captured in GIF form, courtesy of Deadspin: Rick Pitino thinking he's being shot at immediately after the game; and the best block we've seen this year (that was called a foul).

• That abysmal foul call wasn't the only thing that tainted what was a great game. John Beilein made a colossal coaching blunder late in the final minute of action.

• They can't all be Shining Moments. The best GIFs, photos and sundry stupidity from the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

Four-fifths of the Fab Five watched the game together. Wonder if Chris Webber was screaming timeout reminders to John Beilein.

• This seems dumb, NCAA edition (Vol. 516): Louisville's men's team is not allowed to go watch the women try to win the title tonight. That would be an extra benefit, dontcha know.

• Ever stop to wonder why college football even exists? A fascinating history lesson from Saturday Down South.

• Tonight's the Masters Champions Dinner. We're betting that Bubba Watson picks a better menu than some of these stomach-churning choices over the years.

• Bad officiating is not limited to college basketball. A baseball game ended late last night with one of the worst strike three calls you'll ever see.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com


April 8

• We bid a fond farewell to college basketball with this slideshow of the lovely ladies of March Madness. Until next year...

College basketball crowns its champion tonight. Neither Michigan nor Louisville has won the national title since before any of tonight's participants were born. In a few hours, that changes.

• Because I support the troops, I fully support this woman, in her full dress uniform, hilariously mocking Jim Boeheim

• Speaking of Boeheim, he and reporter Greg Doyel got into it at the postgame presser. They later made up, but this is what happens when curmudgeons collide.

• Last night, Blake Griffin took a breakway, went in for the finger roll, then decided at the last second, what the heck, I'll dunk it.

• Head coaches get the glory, but some of college football's most essential work is done by the assistants. Here are the 10 best assistant coach hires in the SEC this offseason.

• Sports movies provide fertile ground for debate. Here's a list of the 50 worst sports movies of all time. Hey, I liked The Waterboy. But I'll let them have Rocky V.

• This weekend, Ohio State mascot Brutus Buckeye got absolutely de-cleated in highly amusing fashion. He needed to have that giant head of his on a swivel.

• It's Masters Week, y'all. Take a pre-Masters tour of Augusta National.

Brandon Crawford's Giants World Series ring looks especially giant on the hand of his baby daughter.

• Prepare your eyes for some salty discharge: This weekend, a 7-year-old cancer patient ran for a touchdown at Nebraska's spring game.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

Teaser:
<p> The best sports links from the NFL, college football and basketball, MLB, the NBA, NASCAR and the world of entertainment.</p>
Post date: Friday, April 12, 2013 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: Guan Tianlang, Masters, Golf
Path: /golf/14-guan-tianlang-handles-masters-pressure
Body:

Using a self-taught short game, Chinese teen Guan Tianlang opens The Masters with a 73.

Since Bubba Watson hit that incredible shot around the pine trees during a playoff to win the 2012 Masters, the club has made some interesting history. It admitted its first two women members, Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore, ending a sometimes-spirited debate. And in November, a different kind of history occurred when Guan Tianlang won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Thailand by a single stroke when he holed a 5-footer for par on the last hole using a belly putter, qualifying for The Masters.

On Thursday, Guan used that same belly putter to curl in a birdie putt on 18 for a more-than-respectable opening-round 73, 1-over par, beating defending champion Bubba Watson, among other older, more established competitors.

Guan is 14. And he is the youngest player ever to compete in The Masters, taking the distinction from Italy’s Matteo Manassero, who was 16 when he traveled up Magnolia Lane in 2010.

“I’m really proud of myself,’’ Guan said when he had qualified for The Masters. “I think it really helps Chinese golf. They will train even harder. I’m very happy about it.’’

Despite China’s immensity and population base, there are few top-level golfers from the country — yet. Most observers feel it is just a matter of time before the Official World Golf Rankings are dotted with Chinese players. Guan's success is bound to help.

Slowly but surely the Chinese view on the game is changing. And with golf being part of the Olympics starting in 2016, there will be a push to develop players. The dangling carrot of a Masters invite can only help them push to succeed.

“There remains, we believe, an untapped opportunity in Asia and other parts of the world, where amateur golf has its greatest growth potential," Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said at the time of the tournament’s unveiling more than three years ago.

Over the ensuing years, Payne has become more aggressive in his desire to “grow the game.’’ Along with the Asia-Pacific Amateur, there has been considerable assistance, millions of dollars, donated to junior programs. Payne began an initiative whereby children under 16 would be admitted to the Masters for free with an adult.

All of that, of course, caused Payne angst when it came to the women’s membership issue. He was criticized for talking about growing the game while holding back on admitting women to his very private club. Deep down, however, the feeling has always been that Payne wanted to see women members at Augusta National, too.

Now that is no longer an issue, and it makes you pause to wonder what Bobby Jones would think of all this.

The founder of the club was a great amateur himself, retiring from the game in 1930 after completing what was then the Grand Slam by winning the U.S and British Open and Amateur titles.

He might very well have an affection for Guan, having tried to qualify for his first U.S. Amateur at age 14 in 1916 and finishing second at age 17 in 1919. Jones would go on to win the U.S. Open and British Open a combined seven times. Because he played his entire career as an amateur, the tradition was established to make a place in the field for those who have yet to turn professional, a number that is now at six players.

Certainly Guan will get plenty of attention. For someone so young, his English is impressive, his game even more so. He is no stranger to the big stage, becoming the youngest winner of the China Amateur Open in 2011. He also played in the 2012 Volvo China Open, making him the youngest to ever compete in a European Tour event, although he missed the cut.

In July 2011, Guan ran away to an 11-stroke win in the 11-12 division of the Junior World Golf Championships in San Diego.

That is a long way from Augusta National, in both prestige and distance. But it is one amazing journey, and if Guan makes the cut, it will be more amazing still.

Teaser:
<p> At 14, Guan Tianlang Handles Masters Pressure</p>
Post date: Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 18:09
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/condoleezza-rice-changes-augusta
Body:

When the announcement came last summer that Augusta National had admitted its first two female members — Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore — some popped champagne corks, while others grumbled into their whiskey about the venerable club’s caving to political pressure. After more than a decade of protesting, stonewalling, name-calling and wrangling, America’s most famous course — with apologies to Merion, Winged Foot, Pebble Beach and many others — would have women who are actual members walking its manicured Bermuda grass fairways, rather than spouses of made men.

For many, it was the merciful end to a long debate.

“Tell Martha Burk it’s time to go home,” said former PGA Tour member and current ESPN analyst Paul Azinger.

For others, the battle still raged.

“It ain’t over,” said Burk, former chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, who began the fight to get women members on the Augusta rolls in 2002.

Augusta’s move may have quieted things a bit, but it won’t send Burk and others on her side in search of other fights. Rice and Moore are two high-profile, extremely worthy candidates for admission to the club, but adding two women to an institution with roughly 300 male members isn’t going to get it done, at least for supporters of women’s rights. But while the story isn’t over, it isn’t the same tale that was told a decade — and more — ago. Augusta is no longer a stodgy bastion of chauvinism, and not just because Rice and Moore have joined up. Though not quite as progressive as, say, the ACLU, Augusta National’s membership is more 21st century corporate leaders than antediluvian sexists. And those men realize that excluding women from anything is bad business.

The club isn’t afraid of a fight, though. Some speculate, with good reason, that Augusta National would have opened its doors to women earlier, had Burk not begun protesting the all-male policy in 2002. Once that started, Augusta National almost had to hold out. Former chairman Hootie Johnson’s comment that the club wouldn’t admit women “at the point of a bayonet” reflected that attitude. “They didn’t have to cave,” Azinger says.

Well, Augusta National probably did have to “cave.” If it didn’t host The Masters, the most esteemed golfing event on the planet, whether it had women members wouldn’t have been an issue, since there are still some clubs (prestigious Pine Valley among them) that remain all-male. Women — along with many men — would have still wanted to join the club, but there wouldn’t have been the same attention given to their quest.

Because the club makes 10 figures annually from the tournament, and because the PGA Tour mandates now that any course that stages a sanctioned event must have a membership that is not just comprised of white men, Augusta National’s makeup became a target.

“The fact that the club is part of a massive event is the reason it was protested,” Azinger says. “It became political.”

For Burk and many others, this isn’t about golf, especially since Moore doesn’t play too often. (Rice has said she’s about a 14 handicap and is also a member at San Francisco Golf Club and Shoal Creek, among others.) This is more about power. Or, rather, the access to it. A look at the membership list at Augusta confirms that. Big hitters like Warren Buffett, T. Boone Pickens and Bill Gates are among the Augusta National lineup. It doesn’t matter whether they can drive the ball 300 yards or are barely qualified to play the windmill hole at a mini-golf course.

When they sit down to have a drink and chat, big things can happen. Granting women access to those conversations is at the heart of the fight. As women are kept out of high-level, though casual, discussions at clubs like Augusta, so too are they omitted from big dealings on the corporate level.

“When you have a roster of Fortune 500 execs engaging in a mass exclusion, it sends the message to the business community that it’s okay to do that,” Burk says.

The Augusta National stance had been that its private status allowed it to choose anyone it wanted as members. From its founding in 1933, until 1990, those chosen were male and white. In ’90, after the firestorm that enveloped Alabama’s Shoal Creek Golf Club regarding its white-only membership, Augusta admitted African-American members. Twenty-two years later, the club’s trademark green jacket was tailored to fit women.

“Augusta had to be pistol-whipped behind closed doors to let African-Americans be admitted,” Burk says. “This smacks of the same thing.”

When Burk and her compatriots began hammering at Augusta in ’02, then-chairman Johnson — a close friend of Moore’s and a fellow University of South Carolina graduate — said that if organizations like the Girl Scouts, Junior League, Boy Scouts and various fraternities and sororities could have single-sex memberships, Augusta could also. The difference was that Augusta National hosts The Masters every April, and the Tri-Delts don’t. That’s what gave those fighting the exclusion of women ammunition. The Masters is (arguably) a public event, and the club that hosts it was acting as “a de facto public accommodation,” according to Burk, referring to the term used in the Civil Rights Act that prevents discrimination in any establishment open to the public.

Trouble is, the state of Georgia doesn’t have a public accommodation statute. So, when a number of law firms approached Burk and the NCWO about taking the fight to the courtrooms, they found some roadblocks. Big roadblocks.

“When (the firms) got a little into it, they saw some barriers that were not insurmountable, but were very difficult,” Burk says. Since the legal path was rocky, the only way left was through protest, raised voices and as much political pressure as the NCWO and its allies could muster.

“It became a political issue,” Azinger says. “It’s a misnomer that women weren’t allowed there. That’s not the case. Women played there every day.”

Don’t get Azinger wrong. He’s delighted that Rice and Moore have been admitted. “I think it’s great,” he says. And he has company.

“I am extremely pleased to see the decision by Augusta National,” said three-time Masters champion Gary Player via e-mail. “For a club representing the pinnacle of the golfing world, Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore are excellent choices to become the first female members and will no doubt do the appointment great justice. Of course, this is a historic change and echoes the importance of women in golf. I can only hope that this will continue to grow female participation in golf throughout the world.”

* * *

The decision to admit Rice and Moore is viewed by some as less a heroic than an inevitable act. Although The Masters lost TV sponsors for two years after 2002, corporate involvement has grown back, and now big timers like IBM and AT&T can be found on the tourney’s web site. But as women gain influence (some say too slowly) in the political and business arenas, staging a prestigious public event like The Masters at a club that refused admission to women was almost impossible. Chairman Billy Payne and Johnson agreed that Moore and Rice would be appropriate as the first women admitted. Although Augusta National’s membership process is extremely secretive, and often candidates don’t even know they are being considered, Payne took the unusual step of announcing their admission.

“This is a joyous occasion as we enthusiastically welcome Secretary Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as members of Augusta National Golf Club,” read the beginning of his statement released last August. (Payne would not comment for this article.)

Payne continued to describe the “deliberate” consideration given each candidate for membership and the “extended period of time” over which any application is considered. That happens at most clubs. There were reports that Rice and Moore were first considered five years ago. Talk about deliberate.

Now that two women are in, can we expect a flood of females in green jackets dining in the Grill Room and sitting on the stately clubhouse’s porch, sipping cool drinks and making deals?
Maybe.

“It’s important for the dinosaurs to die off,” Donna Lopiano says. “You then hope the next generation does better.”

Lopiano is the president of Connecticut-based Sports Management Resources, which helps colleges and universities with athletics-related issues, including Title IX compliance. When it comes to gender equity in college sports, it’s hard to find someone with more experience, knowledge or battle scars.

She wasn’t in the middle of the Augusta skirmish, but she knows the value of the two women’s admission. She also understands that Rice and Moore constitute a good start — and little else.

“Was it inevitable Augusta would succumb to pressure?” she asks. “Yes. Is it enough? No. But you have to start somewhere. It’s the same thing with people of color.”

To comprehend fully the Augusta situation, people have to understand the country club ethos. All over America, there are clubs that practice exclusionary tactics. Some are segregated — gently — according to religion. Many have no, or precious few, African-American members. And many don’t admit many women members. Wives of members can play golf and have the run of the clubhouse — though not the men’s grill. But they aren’t on the membership rolls. Part of that is due to the fact that more men play golf than women. But that’s changing. When Rice and Moore were announced as members at Augusta National, PGA chief Tim Finchem noted that “women represent one of the fastest growing segments in both playing and watching the game of golf” and that their admission “sends a positive and inclusive message.” Just like many other things in society, the country club world is changing.

That the club’s members were all white and male for decades was hardly a shock, given the fact that many other clubs in the country had that distinction. Augusta National’s leadership felt that was its prerogative as a private institution. And in fact, many men who wanted in were stonewalled completely or made to endure a purgatorial waiting period. Gates’ public craving of a green jacket left even him on the outside for a while. To many members, the furor over admitting women was not about sexism; it was about being able to gather with friends to play golf, enjoy a meal and celebrate tradition. Now that women have been admitted, be they two or 200 in number, it’s unlikely that many of the older male members will be inviting females to join their foursomes on the course or share a drink with them after 18 holes, but the younger crowd (and we’re talking people in their 50s here, not 20s) will likely shrug it off as further evidence of progress.

“It was much ado about nothing,” Azinger says. “There still remain a few freedoms in this land. You can still have a private club. The fact that (Augusta) admitted women is fantastic. The timing was right.

“It was never an all-men’s club. Women have always been allowed to play golf there. There were just no single women members at the club.”

Now, there are two. And while it might make things a little awkward at this year’s Members’ Weekend, when 300 or so men and two women converge on Augusta National, it’s unlikely there will be any trouble in coming years. There probably won’t be an annual admission of women, although since Augusta National keeps its membership practices quiet, we won’t know for sure. But there will be more to come. Expect IBM CEO Ginni Rometty to get a call at some point, even though she doesn’t care much for the game, simply because one of the benefits of reaching her lofty perch is an Augusta National invite. Adding Carol Semple Thompson, perhaps the most decorated U.S. women’s amateur golfer, would be a strong move. This is the 21st century, after all, and though the pace may not suit Burk and others, the world is changing.

As for The Masters, don’t expect Rice and Moore’s inclusion to matter very much at all. Players will be asked about it. Some will respond positively. Others, like the 90 percent who anonymously told Golf Magazine in 2011 that they didn’t care too much that Augusta National didn’t admit women, will be non-committal. It didn’t hurt the cause that 2012 Masters champ Bubba Watson told the publication in ’11: “Yeah, I care, and you can quote me on that.” And when Tiger Woods was asked about the move, he was enthusiastic and called it “important to golf.” For the most part, life will go on as usual. Players will rise and fall on the leaderboard, and the TV types will still treat the tournament as if it were High Mass.

Burk, on the other hand, will keep pushing.

“When they finally (admitted women), they did it after 10 years of resistance,” she says. “They haven’t done all that much. It was a small step, a very small step. What happens in the future is more important than one token gesture.”

But you have to start somewhere.

 

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, GOLFER

Listen to Condoleezza Rice talk about her game, and she sounds just like any other golfer. Says she’s good off the tee and pretty strong on the greens. It’s that last 150 yards that give her trouble. If she could just handle those better…

Rice does practice her craft, although she has only been at the game for about seven years. In addition to her newly minted Augusta National membership, she belongs to four other clubs.

During an interview last August, she said her handicap was “down to a 14,” while other reports have her at a 16. That doesn’t matter. What does is that she’s a fine athlete who was once a competitive figure skater and an excellent tennis player.
But while her tennis game is receding, her golf game is improving, especially now that she has more time to play since leaving her position as Secretary of State after George W. Bush’s presidential tenure ended.

“She’s a terrific player,” former PGA Tour member and current ESPN analyst Paul Azinger says. “She’s an athlete.”

In a 2011 interview with Golf Digest, Rice spoke of her desire to work on the game, saying she doesn’t do anything just as a diversion and that the “best part of golf is that unlike my tennis game, I can actually get better.”

She now has one heckuva place to pursue that improvement.

—by Michael Bradley

This article appeared in the 2013 edition of Athlon Sports' Golf Annual. Order your copy here.
 

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 16:02
Path: /golf/5-greatest-shots-masters-history
Body:

We don’t have footage of Gene Sarazen’s famous double eagle from 1935, but on Masters Sunday 2012, we saw something just as good and just as rare — Louis Oosthuizen's double eagle, the first at the par-5 second hole in Masters history. Later, Bubba Watson joined our countdown with his stunning recovery shot from the pine straw in the playoff. Here are our choices for the seven greatest shots in Masters history.

7. Louis Oosthuizen, 2012
Before Sunday, there had been 19,809 rounds at The Masters, but this was a first: a double eagle at No. 2. Had Oostie gone on to win, his shot would rank No. 1; as it is, he'll have to settle for second in The Masters and seventh on our list.

6. Sandy Lyle, 1988
Lyle had a front-row seat for Jack Nicklaus' charge to the 1986 Masters title. Two years later, he made history of his own with an incredible bunker shot on the 72nd hole, using the slope of the green to set up a clinching birdie. This is great execution for a Tuesday practice round; under Masters pressure, it's one of history's greatest shots.

5. Bubba Watson, 2012
After a day that included a double eagle and two holes in one, Bubba's shot at 10 will be the one they'll still be talking about at the 2050 Champions Dinner.

4. Jack Nicklaus, 1986
Jack’s near hole-in-one on 16 during his final-round 65 was only one of many magic moments that day — but it was pretty epic. As a bonus, this video includes his birdie putt on 17 (the putt that ultimately clinched his win) and his tap-in on 18, as well as commentary from the man himself.


3. Phil Mickelson, 2010
Mickelson’s 6-iron second shot to four feet on the par-5 13th was the kind of hero shot that only he and Tiger Woods would even attempt.



2. Larry Mize, 1987
Playing a few miles from his home, the quiet, unassuming Mize hit the shot of his life, or anyone else’s for that matter, holing an impossible 140-foot pitch shot on the second playoff hole to deny Greg Norman a green jacket.



1. Tiger Woods, 2005
It's a scenario apparently drawn up in the Nike marketing offices — the ball hanging tantalizingly on the edge of the cup, the Nike logo momentarily freeze-framed on our television screens before the ball tumbles into the cup, unleashing an awkward golfer high-five between Tiger and caddie Steve Williams that detracts only slightly from the moment. To answer your question, Verne Lundquist — no, in our lives, we’ve never seen anything like it.

Teaser:
<p> 7 Epic Moments from Golf's Greatest Tournament</p>
Post date: Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/2013-masters-tv-schedule
Body:

Cue the piano music — it's time for A Tradition Unlike Any Other. Here's the schedule for Masters television coverage.

MASTERS TV COVERAGE
Thursday — ESPN 3-7:30 p.m. & 8-11 p.m. (re-air) 
CBS — 11:30-11:45 p.m. (highlights)

Friday — ESPN 3-7:30 p.m & 8-11 p.m. (re-air)
CBS — 11:30-11:45 (highlights) 

Saturday — CBS 3-7 p.m. 

Sunday — CBS 2-7 p.m. 

ALL TIMES EASTERN

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 17:57
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/10-greatest-masters-champions
Body:

The Masters is the world's greatest golf tournament, so it's not surprising that it has produced an elite list of champions. We've identified the 10 greatest, who collectively possess 32 Green Jackets and have provided countless classic moments.

1. Jack Nicklaus
Wins - 6
Runner-ups - 4
Top 5 - 15
Top 10 - 22
Notes:
Nobody owns Augusta like Jack. His six wins spanned 23 years of stunning brilliance. In the decade of the 1970s, he never finished lower than 8th. As if to put an exclamation point on his unparalleled career amid the Georgia pines, Jack made one final run in 1998 at age 58, finishing sixth and beating the defending champion, 22-year-old Tiger Woods. Here's a record that may never be broken: Nicklaus made an astounding 37 cuts at Augusta; for reference, Woods has been alive only 37 years.

2. Arnold Palmer
Wins - 4
Runner-ups - 2
Top 5 - 9
Top 10 - 12
Notes:
Arnie came along at the perfect time, the dawn of golf's TV age, and he galvanized an army of fans with his domination at Augusta. Between 1957 and 1967, Palmer won four times and finished in the top 10 every year. He eclipses the No. 3 player on this list only because he made The Masters what it is today.

3. Tiger Woods
Wins - 4
Runner-ups - 2
Top 5 - 10
Top 10 - 12
Notes:
Woods' 12-shot demolition of the field at the 1997 Masters was one of golf's signature moments and ushered in the Tiger era in golf. His epic chip-in in 2005 was another classic moment, although entering 2013, that remains his last green jacket to date. Tiger is the all-time scoring average leader at The Masters for players with 50 or more career rounds.

4. Phil Mickelson
Wins - 3
Runner-ups - 0
Top 5 - 10
Top 10 - 14
Notes:
Lefty's record at Augusta rivals Tiger's. His 2004 breakthrough was perhaps the most eagerly awaited major championship win in history. Phil still has a shot to move up this list given that he's finished out of the top 5 only three times since 2001 and always seems rejuvenated by the trip up Magnolia Lane.

5. Gary Player
Wins - 3
Runner-ups - 2
Top 5 - 8
Top 10 - 15
Notes:
Player made his Masters bones in the 1960s as part of golf's Big Three with Nicklaus and Palmer, but he had some of his greatest Augusta moments in the 1970s, winning in 1974 and charging from seven strokes back in the final round in 1978, shooting 64 to win at age 42.

6. Sam Snead
Wins - 3
Runner-ups - 2
Top 5 - 9
Top 10 - 15
Notes:
Slammin' Sammy enjoyed some of his greatest successes at Augusta, winning three Masters in a six-year span, including a playoff win over rival and defending champion Ben Hogan in 1954.

7. Ben Hogan
Wins - 2
Runner-ups - 4
Top 5 - 9
Top 10 - 17
Notes:
The great Hogan set a Masters record during his Triple Crown season of 1953 with a 14-under total (it would be broken by Jack Nicklaus in 1965), part of an unparalleled run of golf in which he won six majors in eight appearances. In 1967, at age 56, he shot a 66 and finished 10th. His 17 Masters top 10s are second only to Nicklaus' 22.

8. Tom Watson
Wins - 2
Runner-ups - 3
Top 5 - 9
Top 10 - 15
Notes:
Watson's Augusta exploits are overshadowed by his dominance at the British Open, but between 1975 and 1988, no one was better at The Masters — two wins, three runner-ups and 12 top-10 finishes.

9. Jimmy Demaret
Wins - 3
Runner-ups - 0
Top 5 - 6
Top 10 - 8
Notes:
One of golf's most colorful showmen, Demaret was the first three-time Masters winner and parlayed his quick wit and flamboyant wardrobe into an appearance on "I Love Lucy."

10. Byron Nelson
Wins - 2
Runner-ups - 2
Top 5 - 7
Top 10 - 14
Notes:
Lord Byron's love for The Masters was epitomized by the fact that he kept playing at Augusta even after retiring from competitive golf to run his ranch. He probably would have won one or two more Green Jackets had the tournament been held during World War II.

Honorable Mention
• Nick Faldo - A three-time Masters winner, Faldo gets penalized for benefiting from three meltdowns in his three Masters wins — Scott Hoch, who missed a two-foot putt in their playoff in 1989; Ray Floyd, who made a late bogey to fall into a playoff with Faldo and then hit into the water at 11 in Sudden Death; and most notoriously, Greg Norman, who squandered a six-shot lead over Faldo with a final-round 78. Plus, Faldo's three wins were his only Masters top 10s.

• Seve Ballesteros - The late, great Ballesteros won twice and finished second twice. He also had the decency to step aside and allow Nicklaus to charge to his sixth Green Jacket in 1986.

• Horton Smith - The event's first two-time winner, Smith won Green Jackets in 1934 (the tournament's first year) and 1936.

• Ben Crenshaw - Crenshaw's Masters win in 1994, shortly after the death of longtime mentor Harvey Penick, provided one of the most emotional moments in golf history. Crenshaw, a two-time winner, finished in the top 10 11 times.

• Jose Maria Olazabal - Less heralded than his countryman Seve Ballesteros, Olazabal was every bit Seve's equal at Augusta, winning in 1994 and 1999 and finishing the top 10 six other times.

• Bernhard Langer - Langer had his greatest major success at The Masters, winning twice and posting eight top 10s.

• Fred Couples - Couples made 23 consecutive Masters cuts between 1983 and 2008, although he didn't play in 1987 or 1994. He's the only Masters competitor not to miss a cut at Augusta in the 20th Century. He won the tournament in 1992.

• Gene Sarazen - His "Shot Heard Round the World" — a double eagle at 15 during the 1935 Masters — put the tournament on the map and helped establish its major bona fides. It also allowed Sarazen to claim a modern career Grand Slam, the first in history.

• Raymond Floyd - Floyd won the 1976 Masters by a dominating eight strokes, matching Nicklaus' record 17-under total (which would be broken by Woods in 1997). Floyd finished second at Augusta three times, including a crushingly disappointing playoff loss to Nick Faldo in 1990, and had 11 top-10 finishes.
 

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 13:59
All taxonomy terms: Rory McIlroy, Golf
Path: /golf/top-20-golfers-2013-majors-no-1-rory-mcilroy
Body:

They’re the cream of the major championship crop, circa 2013 — the Athlon Major Championship Dream Team. Leading up to The Masters, we'll be unveiling Athlon Sports’ 20 players to watch for majors season, with commentary on each from the Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee.

No. 1: Rory McIlroy

Born: May 4, 1989, Holywood, Northern Ireland | Career PGA Tour Wins: 6 (5 on European Tour)  | 2012 Wins (Worldwide): 5 | 2012 Earnings (PGA Tour): $8,047,952 (1st) World Ranking: 2

 

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Rory McIlroy’s length and high ball flight are enough to separate him from the pack, but it’s his further ability to work shots comfortably left to right or right to left and his overall sense and feel for the game that make him destined to be one of the greatest players of all time. He is not without weaknesses — both off of the tee, where he misses in both directions, or on the greens, where he didn’t rank in the top 20 in a single putting stat for 2012. But those weaknesses are overcome by his ability to self-correct. Taught by a former player in Michael Bannon, Rory possesses a swing that is unfettered with complexities and is distinguished by a freedom of movement and rhythm that is as good as the game has ever seen. His talent appears to be matched by a maturity and perspective that will make him one of the most marketable athletes in the world for years to come.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 17
Wins: 2

2012 Performance:
Masters - T40
U.S. Open - Cut
British Open - T60
PGA Championship - 1

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - T15 (2011)
U.S. Open - 1 (2011)
British Open - T3 (2010)
PGA Championship - 1 (2012)
Top-10 Finishes: 6
Top-25 Finishes: 9
Missed Cuts: 3

—Brandel Chamblee is lead analyst for the Golf Channel. Be sure to follow him @ChambleeBrandel on Twitter.


Athlon's 2013 Golf annual provides in-depth previews of this year's four majors, including the top 20 players to watch this season. One of these elite players, reigning FedExCup champion Brandt Snedeker, also takes you tee to green with full-swing instruction and short game essentials. BUY IT NOW.

Teaser:
<p> Athlon Counts Down the 20 Golfers to Watch for Majors Season</p>
Post date: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 10:57
Path: /golf/masters-glance
Body:

MastersThe Masters at a Glance
Augusta National Golf Club • Augusta, Ga.
April 11-14 • Defending Champion: Bubba Watson

Brandel Chamblee's Take
The Masters Tournament is the only major played on the same course year after year. It is also the hardest major to get into, and as a result it has the smallest field of any of the game’s four biggest events. Given the small field, it stands to reason, however, that the Masters is also the easiest major to win multiple times, and the numbers back this up, as 16 men have won 45 of the 76 Masters Tournaments since the event’s inception in 1934. Perhaps it’s this familiarity, both with the course and its contestants that make this the most watched event in all of golf. Regardless of our reasons, we watch, ravenously, year after year, and the masterpiece design never disappoints.

One of those 16 men to have won multiple Masters is Tiger Woods, and he arrives in Augusta in 2013 trying to win his 15th major for the fifth year in a row. After witnessing a young Woods in the mid-1990s, no less a pair of authorities than Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer predicted at least 11 wins in this event for Tiger. Woods and Rory McIlroy will get the lion's share of attention, but both of them have a tendency to miss left, and Augusta National brutalizes shots missed left (remember Rory among the cabins at No. 10 in 2011?).

In my opinion, we should look for a new winner this year — perhaps Louis Oosthuizen, who came so close in 2012, or Keegan Bradley or Justin Rose.

Masters Notebook
• Bubba Watson won The Masters in dramatic fashion last year, and crafted a shot for the ages in the process on the first playoff hole — a 154-yard wedge shot that he hooked out of the trees lining the 10th hole and onto the green to make par and win over Louis Oosthuizen. Watson won despite needing 120 putts over the four rounds, tied for 37th in the field. Bubba was fourth in driving distance at 290 yards and tied for fourth in greens in regulation, hitting 53 of 72 greens. He was tied for third with 19 birdies, and he minimized other mistakes.

• Patrick Cantlay was low amateur of the 2012 Masters despite a wild final round that saw him make two eagles, five birdies, six pars, three bogeys, one double bogey and a quadruple bogey. That added up to par-72 and helped him squeak past Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama for the low amateur title.

• Tiger Woods will look to rebound from his worst Masters performance as a pro. In his 16th appearance, after having been a constant contender for most of the past decade, Woods was inexplicably a non-factor. The four-time champion tied for 40th — along with another pre-tournament favorite, Rory McIlroy. Woods' worst previous finish as a pro at Augusta was a tie for 22nd in 2004.

• After making a double-eagle at the second hole during the final round of The Masters, Louis Oosthuizen inexplicably tossed the ball to a fan in the gallery. The man, Wayne Mitchell, ended up giving the ball to Augusta National, which in turn tried to return it to Oosthuizen — who gave it back to the club. Oosthuizen’s albatross was the first ever made at Augusta’s par-5 second hole.

• There have now been four double eagles in Masters history, one at each of the par-5s. The first, of course, came in 1935, Gene Sarazen’s “Shot Heard Round the World." It came at the 15th during the final round and helped him get into a playoff with Craig Wood, which he won. Bruce Devlin had a 2 at the eighth in 1967, and Jeff Maggert holed a 3-iron second shot at the 13th in 1994.

• At age 52, Fred Couples became the oldest second-round leader in Masters history, eclipsing Lee Trevino, who was 49 in 1989.

• Phil Mickelson, bidding for a fourth green jacket, had two triple-bogeys during the tournament — and missed a playoff by two strokes. His first triple came during the opening round courtesy of a lost ball on the par-4 10th hole. And the second came Sunday at the fourth, when his tee shot hit a grandstand, ended up among the trees, and he twice tried to play shots right handed. Imagine if Mickelson had simply been able to minimize the damage on both those holes.

• The 75 by Tiger Woods in the second round was his highest second round in a major since the 2006 U.S. Open, shortly after the death of his father Earl, when he went 76-76 to miss the cut. It was only the third time in 66 competitive rounds at Augusta National that Woods did not birdie a par-5 hole.

• After blowing the 2011 Masters with a final-round 80, Rory McIlroy again put himself in position last year through two rounds — only to stumble with a third-round 77. He added 76 in the final round to tie for 40th.

• Robert Garrigus tied a dubious record in his Masters debut by making a 7 on the first hole. That matched the highest opening-hole score by a first-time competitor. Bill Ogden did the same thing at the 1954 tournament. “Well, I guess that’s kind of cool, actually," Garrigus said afterward. He ended up shooting 77-75 to miss the cut.

Teaser:
<p> Golf’s Sistine Chapel annually gives us the most-watched tournament of the year.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 09:48
All taxonomy terms: Tiger Woods, Golf
Path: /golf/top-20-golfers-2013-majors-no-2-tiger-woods
Body:

They’re the cream of the major championship crop, circa 2013 — the Athlon Major Championship Dream Team. Leading up to The Masters, we'll be unveiling Athlon Sports’ 20 players to watch for majors season, with commentary on each from the Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee.

No. 2: Tiger Woods

Born: Dec. 30, 1975, Cypress, Calif. | Career PGA Tour Wins: 77  | 2012 Wins (Worldwide): 3 | 2012 Earnings (PGA Tour): $6,133,158 (2nd) World Ranking: 1

 

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Tiger is still a threat to win every week, as he's shown with his three wins so far in 2013. And as he showed last year at the Memorial, when he pitched in on the 70th hole from behind the green en route to winning, he is still capable of producing mind-blowing magic. He is learning how to play a more conservative, less explosive and less versatile game, but that game was still good enough for three wins in 2012, and only Rory McIlroy was better. Still, he was plagued by inconsistencies on the weekend in the majors and with his short irons all year. The race for him to fully incorporate all the swing changes he and Sean Foley continue to work on before time runs out provide a sense of urgency to every round. That, combined with his quest to overtake Rory in the world rankings and win another major, makes it seem as if no one plays under more pressure than Tiger.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 66
Wins: 14

2012 Performance:
Masters - T40
U.S. Open - T21
British Open - T3
PGA Championship - T11

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - 1 (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005)
U.S. Open - 1 (2000, 2002, 2008)
British Open - 1 (2000, 2005, 2006)
PGA Championship - 1 (1999, 2000, 2006, 2007)
Top-10 Finishes: 36
Top-25 Finishes: 52
Missed Cuts: 4

—Brandel Chamblee is lead analyst for the Golf Channel. Be sure to follow him @ChambleeBrandel on Twitter.


Athlon's 2013 Golf annual provides in-depth previews of this year's four majors, including the top 20 players to watch this season. One of these elite players, reigning FedExCup champion Brandt Snedeker, also takes you tee to green with full-swing instruction and short game essentials. BUY IT NOW.

Teaser:
<p> Athlon Counts Down the 20 Golfers to Watch for Majors Season</p>
Post date: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 - 10:52

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