Articles By Rob Doster

All taxonomy terms: Guan Tianlang, Masters, Golf
Path: /golf/14-guan-tianlang-handles-masters-pressure
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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
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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:
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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:
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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:
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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
All taxonomy terms: Masters, Golf, Overtime, News
Path: /golf/worst-and-weirdest-food-masters-champions-dinner-2013
Body:

It's one of the great traditions of Masters week: the Tuesday night Champions Dinner, where the defending champ gets to pick the menu for everyone. Defending champion Bubba Watson apparently served Caesar salad, grilled chicken, mac & cheese, green beans, cornbread and cake — a bit more down-to-earth than what's listed here. Giving golfers this much latitude can apparently result in some stomach-churning choices. Here's the proof.


Menu: Haggis, mashed potatoes, mashed turnips
Sandy Lyle, 1989

You know what they say about haggis — it looks the same coming out as it does going in. For the uninitiated, this Scottish dish is basically stuff fished out of the trash at the butcher shop: sheep's heart, liver and lungs cooked in the stomach, with a few bits of actual food (onions, oatmeal, spices) thrown in to confuse you. 
 


Menu: Elk, wild boar, Arctic char, Canadian beer
Mike Weir, 2004

Apparently they were fresh out of grizzly bear, so this had to do. Well, at least there was a little liquid bread to wash down all the animal flesh. Hey Mike, how about a salad?

 


Menu: Cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, french fries, milkshakes
Tiger Woods, 1998

At first glance, this sounds fine. But when you have access to great chefs and an unlimited budget, do you really want to reproduce the drive-thru of the Augusta McDonald's?

 


Menu: Seafood tom kah, chicken panang curry, baked sea scallops with garlic sauce, rack of lamb with yellow kari sauce, baked filet Chilean sea bass with three flavor chili sauce, lychee sorbet
Vijay Singh, 2001

Surely this overly pretentious selection was part of some elaborate practical joke perpetrated by Vijay. We’re pretty sure Tiger and Phil hit the Augusta McDonald's drive-thru afterwards.


 
Menu: An Argentine asado, a multicourse barbecue featuring chorizo, blood sausage, short ribs, beef filets and mollejas (sweetbreads)
Angel Cabrera, 2010

Sampling another culture's cuisine can be a mixed bag. This menu is evidence. Short ribs and beef filets sound good, but anything with blood in the title doesn't. And sweetbreads? That's just a tasty-sounding name for the thymus gland of some animal. No. Just, no.
 


Menu: Bobotie (a spiced minced meat pie with an egg topping), sosaties (type of chicken skewer), spinach salad, milk tart and South African wines
Trevor Immelman, 2009

Rule of thumb: If I can't pronounce it, I ain't eating it. The wine sounds good, though.  

Teaser:
<p> Winning golfers select haggis, wild boar and 10 foods we can't pronounce.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 - 07:20
All taxonomy terms: Brandt Snedeker, Golf
Path: /golf/top-20-golfers-2013-majors-no-3-brandt-snedeker
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. 3: Brandt Snedeker

Born: Dec. 8, 1980, Nashville, Tenn. | Career PGA Tour Wins: | 2012 Wins (Worldwide): 2 | 2012 Earnings (PGA Tour): $4,989,739 (3rd) World Ranking: 5

 

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Snedeker was the best putter on the PGA tour in 2012 and as a result won twice, most notably at the Tour Championship, which resulted in him winning the FedExCup. The 2007 Rookie of the Year has improved his spot on the money list every year since 2008 — vaulting from 59th that season to 3rd in 2012. That trend showed no signs of slowing during the 2013 West Coast Swing, where Snedeker posted a win, two seconds and a third. Snedeker has added yardage and improved his ball-striking; in 2012, the Tour Championship was the only event he finished in the top 10 in both fairways and greens in regulation. If that ball-striking carries forward throughout 2013, he could challenge for Player of the Year and be the first FedExCup champion to defend his title successfully. More importantly, he could win his first major. Clearly, he will be one of the biggest newsmakers of the year in golf.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 21
Wins: 0

2012 Performance:
Masters - T19
U.S. Open - DNP
British Open - T3
PGA Championship - Cut

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - T3 (2008)
U.S. Open - T8 (2010)
British Open - T3 (2012)
PGA Championship - T18 (2007)
Top-10 Finishes: 4
Top-25 Finishes: 10
Missed Cuts: 9

—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: Monday, April 8, 2013 - 10:43
Path: /golf/pga-tour-player-survey
Body:

Ever wonder what the members of the world’s golfing elite really think about some of the game’s hot-button issues? Sick of the clichéd answers they sometimes trot out in the effort to not make any waves? You’re in luck.

We took the occasion of the 2012 Tour Championship to pose an anonymous survey to 10 of the PGA Tour’s elite players, making sure to get a mixture from around the world, to find the unvarnished truth. Do guys prefer the company of Tiger or Phil? Is it truly time to ban the anchored putter? What, if anything, intimidates the best in the world?

Below are the answers we received. You’re welcome to try to guess who said what, but be aware that this material is presented in no particular order.


Question: Have you ever been intimidated on a golf course?

Eight of the 10 players we talked to admitted to feeling intimidated at times in their careers, although not all wanted to mention the specific moments. Others were ready to admit that there have been times when their insides were churning.

• “There are times you are out of your comfort zone for sure. The first time you play with Tiger Woods, I’m sure everyone felt intimidated then. I played as an amateur at The Masters and that was also intimidating.”

• “My first time playing with Greg Norman when I was younger was very intimidating. He had an aura around him and having watched him growing up as a golfing hero and then all of a sudden having to show you belonged on the same course as him … That was very intimidating.”

• “Many times. As a kid you build up the stars so much and you can’t help but feel a little intimidated around them in the beginning. I remember as a junior I was pulled out of a clinic by a star player, my grandpa pushed me forward, and having to hit in front of him and a crowd is still one of the most nerve-wracking things I’ve ever done.”

• “The first time I teed it up on the PGA Tour I had plenty of nerves and felt totally intimidated. Thankfully, though, once you get a shot or two away, you calm down.”


Question: If the line is set at eight majors, do you think Rory McIlroy will finish over or under the mark and why?

Rory’s competitors are feeling the love. Six out of 10 guys think the current world No. 2 can become only the sixth player in the history of the game to win more than eight major championships along with Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Walter Hagen, Gary Player and Ben Hogan.

• “He’s got a lot of talent, and he’s such a young guy so he has a lot of majors to play in.”

• “I was talking about this with my caddie recently actually. It’s something many out here talk about. I’ll say over, based on the fact he already has two and he won them both by eight shots.”

• “He’s got two already, and he’s off to a flying start. And seriously, look at him; he’s got boundless talent.”

• “He hits it really long and consistent. He has the short game. He’s the world No. 1, and I think the odds are he could do much more than eight.”

• “It just has to be over. He’s just 23 and has two already and he got them easily.”

• “He has two really quick, and I see him going to 10 or more.”

• Another thinks he’ll finish on the number, right along with Tom Watson: “Eight seems right on. I think eight is a good number and that’s where he’ll finish. Not a bad career … Can I have that?”

But some say he won’t get to the mark.

• “It’s really hard to win majors, and the competition is getting tougher and tougher. He is young and has two already but so many factors could change — friends, family, babies. … They’re not easy to win.”

• “Under. People forget there are only five guys, and only three in recent times, who have done that in golf. It’s not like it’s easy.”

Question: If you had the choice of a practice round with Tiger or Phil, who do you take and why?

Nothing quite polarizes the players on Tour like a Tiger/Phil question. Most guys are either in one camp or the other, although some are lucky and get on well with both. Our answers here, similarly, are split. Some want to get out with the mostly intense 14-time major champion, while others would like to get out with Lefty and play in his notoriously big-money but good-natured games.

• “Give me Phil, because he likes to gamble, and it gives me a chance to win some money off him and get some good practice under pressure.”

• “It’s got to be Tiger. He’s the guy I watched growing up. I want to watch the greatest player who I’ve ever seen up close and personal as much as possible.”

• “I’d take Tiger. I think I could learn more from him as he has as much creativity as Phil but you could really pick his brain on ball flight and swing and even the mental game.”

• “Phil for sure. Why? Isn’t it obvious? Because I might win some money!”

• “Tiger. He’s fun to watch and because I actually like hanging out with (instructor) Sean Foley.”

• “You really have to ask? Phil, for sure … He’s a lot more fun.”

• “Give me Tiger. I like spending time with both of them, but I’d take Tiger because I’ve had a little bit more time with Phil already. So just to even it out maybe.”

And then there was this answer…
• “Can I have a threesome with both of them? I’ll take that,” one said with a grin.

Question: What if it was a dinner invitation? Would this make things different?

Changing the venue away from the course tipped the ledger squarely in Mickelson’s favor. Only one player chose Tiger outright when it came to the notion of a night out with one or the other.

• “Phil — there would be a higher entertainment value.”

• “Phil. He is more of a people person, and it would no doubt be a more enjoyable night.”

• “Phil. I hear he buys the wine, and that might make for a better night out.”

• “Phil. I know Phil is a more entertaining guy so I’d have to say him.”

• “Phil. More fun night for sure.”

• “Phil. I think he’d pay and Tiger most surely wouldn’t.”

• “Tiger. It would be a toss-up, but I like both of them and like getting to know both of them. I probably know Tiger a little less so I’d take the chance to be with him.”

One refreshingly honest answer:
• “Whoever is buying.”

And then one guy wanted to throw the cat amongst the pigeons.
• “Can I bring both? I think that would be an interesting night. No reporters, though…”

Question: What would you change if you were commissioner for a day?

We certainly got some variety here. Some of the guys are happy to leave well enough alone, while others have multiple ideas they’d like to implement. Here are a select few.

• “I think the commissioner does a good job, but I’d like to see a lot more access for younger guys. Guys coming from Q-School or the Web.com tour need more access to events and more opportunities to keep their cards.”

But then the complete opposite by another:

• “It’s a long list, but I’d change field size. I’d bring them down which also means I’d reduce the number of cards given out each year.”

• “Request changes to the World Ranking system. Young players straight out of college who get 10 invites and play well in their first few events grab a whole lot of points and make early strides up the rankings. I think there needs to be a longer period of time before the numbers count and the ranking kicks in.”

• “I’d allow players to wear shorts and see if the fans had a problem with us wearing them. There might be a few guys who will still want to hide their legs, though!”

• “Everything is pretty good in my eyes. But perhaps I would have kept the chance for people to get on Tour directly from Q-School.”

• “I’d bring in shorts and carts.”

• “Pro-Ams need to have less amateurs. It would benefit them and the golfers as they’d get more time and the practice round would go more smoothly. Two amateurs would be perfect.”

• “It’s got to be the slow play policy. It’s time to penalize players and penalize with strokes.”

Question: If you have to hand off to someone else a 10-foot putt to save your life, who gets the call?

Most of our guys are calling on Tiger Woods to save their lives. The train of thought is that he’d welcome the challenge and has proven to be so clutch time and time again.

• “I’d give it to Tiger Woods. He’s proven to be the best in the crunch.”

• “Tiger. He’s been a proven performer under the gun and has made the most putts that mean something.”

• “Tiger. He’s been there and done it so many times.”

• “Tiger Woods. I think he has proven to be a clutch golfer.”

• “Tiger. He’s made so many for so long and you have to feel odds are in your favor.”

But then a few others turned up, including FedExCup champion Brandt Snedeker — and the question was posed before the Brandt putted lights-out to win the Tour Championship. Someone in this group was a bit prophetic.

• “Sneds. Brandt Snedeker. From 10 feet, he’s the guy. Actually from any feet — he makes them from everywhere.”

Others to get a jersey…

• “Steve Stricker. I think he gives a lot of putts a great chance to go in and hopefully he likes me.”

• “I’d have to say Jack Nicklaus. He’s the greatest golfer the game has seen, so he seems a simple choice.”

• “Rickie Fowler. I believe he’s a good putter, and I’ve watched the pure roll he can put on the ball. And I think he’d live for a moment like that.”

One guy gave the answer you’d expect from a confident, competitive player:
• “I just wouldn’t give it to anyone else. I want to control my own destiny.”


Question: Should anything be done to rein in the golf ball?

Most of the pros are happy with how things are right now, although a few are concerned. Almost all suggest it can’t go any farther — otherwise, the game and its traditional courses could be lost for good.

• “I think its pretty fair for everybody the way it is right now. I think everybody is used to the same technology, and while it’s different from the past, it has advanced the game for many and that’s a good thing.”

• “No, not really. I think it would hurt the game to do so, particularly from a marketing and financial point of view. The game is easier because of the ball, no doubt, but that’s not a bad thing.”

• “No. I don’t think you should shackle technology too much. I certainly don’t want them to go back to an old-style ball.”

• “No. I think they should rein the clubs and not the ball. They certainly shouldn’t do both.”

• “No. I think they’ve capped it, and that’s good. There is no reason to take it backwards. We shouldn’t be afraid of good athletes playing golf.”

• “No. It’s a scenario that can be explored, but I don’t think something needs to be done at the moment. However, in the next 10 years it could become an issue, so it has to be monitored.”

• “Yes. Although I would say right now it’s very playable. The good combination between the greens being firmer and faster and how far the ball is going is playable. But if we get another leap forward because of equipment, we are going to not be able to play courses like Merion (the 2013 U.S. Open venue), and that would be an absolute shame.”

• “Yes, it is at that point. They need to do something with the driver also, because every year it’s going two or three more yards, and it is becoming an issue on courses.”

• “If they ban the long putter, which it seems they will, they should also make further changes to equipment, which could include the ball.”

Question: So what about the long putter? Ban it?

This is a polarizing issue in golf. Some guys are adamant it should be banned. Others are adamant it should be allowed. And some are just happy to sit on the fence. Note: We asked the question prior to the announcement from the USGA and the R&A that they would entertain banning the anchored putter as early as 2016.

• “I think it’s fine. I don’t think they have proven that there is a huge advantage statistically for guys who use it, so I have no problem with it. It’s just a different way for guys to do things.”

• “Let them use it. I’m fine with it. If a player needed to use it to stay on Tour, I think most would.”

• “I’m yet to find a good reason for them to ban it. The arguments so far aren’t really valid.”

But then….

• “I don’t like it. I don’t think it’s true to the original ideals of golf. I’ve used one before but just don’t think it’s right. I’d be glad to see it gone.”

• “I’m against it just because I’ve always worked so hard on my own short game without going there, and I think that’s how golf is supposed to be. I’d like to see everyone else struggle and work harder like I’ve always had to.”

• “I think it’s cheating and should be banned. It goes against the spirit and rules of golf.”

• “Anchoring has to go. Just because stats don’t say long putter users are better doesn’t make it right.”

• “I think it should be outlawed. I want guys to have to hold a putter in their hands when they have a five-footer to win, to feel those nerves, not to anchor it to their body to take that away.”

And the fence-sitters…

• “I’ve tried it, it still is something you still have to learn so I don’t really care one way or the other. I don’t need to use it so it doesn’t really affect me.”

• “I don’t really care. But I know there are more out there that don’t want it. I think if it is banned there will be guys who will be gone from the Tour, some really good guys. But banning anchoring is probably fair.”

Question: How important is the FedExCup to you, and is it good for golf?

To a man, everyone loves the concept of the FedExCup. It has modernized the sport of golf and given fans something to keep track of at the end of the season, just like football, baseball, hockey, basketball or any other major sport.

• “It’s great and a huge bonus for us as golfers. The playoffs especially are four events with great fields and great purses, and if you are lucky enough to win it all it’s a huge payoff.”

• “It’s really given the Tour a lot of credibility. It’s given the players more to play for all season and towards the end of the year and the fans something to be excited about and talk about.”

• “It’s such a good concept. TV Ratings is the big measure in the sport, and if you look at this Tour compared to the others around the world, this Tour is by and away the only really successful one. Others are struggling to get good sponsorship, but FedEx has been incredible in that perspective. The fans have really bought into the concept, and you just have to look at the leaderboards in the playoffs to see how great the golf has been. People are watching in primetime all over the world. Internationally it’s huge.”

• “It’s great for the game. It makes it easy for the average fan to follow, and non-golf fans can follow it also. It creates excitement for them. Obviously, as a golfer, FedEx has given us a crack at some great bonuses, so it’s hard to fault it.”

• “I think it really helps in forcing players to be more consistent.”

• “I love the concept. It makes the season interesting and it gives everyone a chance to have a big year.”

• “It’s a great thing to drive ratings and separate the best golfers of the year.”

• “It makes the year more interesting, there is no question about that. It pulls in the big names at the end as well. Before this, the back end of the year wasn’t the drawing card it is now.”

Question: Is the FedExCup format the way you want it? If not, what changes would you like to see?

Most guys feel the balance of the current concept is pretty good and are happy. But there have been some minor suggestions.

• “I would like to see a break between the first two and the last two playoff events ideally.”

• “I think they have it right. I think there is just enough movement in the playoffs to give guys a chance and still be rewarded for a good year.”

• “It could never be a perfect system, but it’s pretty good. If you’ve had a really good year you are still pretty protected when it comes to making the Tour Championship, and I think that’s important. But guys have a chance to salvage a season if they play well in the playoffs. That’s a pretty good balance. Everyone has an opportunity.”

• “I’d maybe just change the amount of movement in the first playoff event. There seems to be a lot at the Barclays. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s getting close to it.”

• “I think the scenarios it throws up are great. It promotes discussion. No system will be perfect, but this one is pretty good.”

Only one player was more forthright for change…

• “It’s not reflective enough of the whole season. I don’t think a second place in the first playoff when you’re 125th should get you through to the Tour Championship. You should be asked to do more. But otherwise I like it. I think it’s great all 30 are mathematically able to win in the Tour Championship.”

Question: What is the hardest major to win? Why?

This question came with a variety of answers, all valid in their own right.

There were votes for the Open Championship:
• “I think for Americans the hardest to win is no doubt the Open Championship. We’re not used to the style of golf and conditions get pretty severe over there.”

• “The Open Championship. It is different conditions and the draw is critical. You can be out of it because of the weather.”

• “Probably the Open Championship. I think of all four it’s the most open to all competitors, so that makes it harder to win. Tom Watson almost won it at 60 years old, so it shows plenty of guys in the field have a chance. It goes deep.”

For some it was The Masters…

• “I’ll say The Masters because no one from my country has ever won it. The weight of that history makes it tough.”

• “The Masters. It’s the type of tournament where there is such a fine line. At the U.S. Open you just hang around, the Open Championship the draw plays a big part, and the PGA is kind of like a regular event, But The Masters always has the cream rise to the top, so you’re battling big names.”

The U.S. Open has its fans…

• “By far the hardest test is the U.S. Open. It’s the toughest week.”

• “The U.S. Open. There are mistakes to be made everywhere and very few opportunities to get shots back.”

One guy gives a shout-out to the PGA.

• “US PGA Championship. I think 100 guys turn up there that can win it, and it’s not really like that at The Masters, or the Opens. It is the widest-open of all the majors and therefore the hardest.”

And then there were two pretty clever answers….

• “Your first one.”

• “They are all very hard to win, but the simple answer would be the one you want the most.”


Question: You’ve told us what you think is hardest, but what major do you value the most? If we could hand you one right now, what do you take?

The tradition of The Masters and the Green Jacket wins out here. Both Opens have their fans, but the dream of returning to Magnolia Lane in a green jacket is one many golfers want.

• “The Masters. The tradition. The prestige. The mystique. It would just be brilliant to win.”

• “I’d take a Green Jacket. Everyone dreams about wearing one in this sport.”

• “The Masters. The tradition and to be part of that club would be nice.”

• “The Masters. Where I grew up The Masters is king. It is golf Mecca.”

• “The Masters. If I won it I’d be the first from my country to do so and that would be great.”

Others value national championships.

• “It would be the U.S. Open. It’s the national championship, and a lot of my early memories of golf revolve around great U.S. Open moments.

• “The U.S. Open. A national title and a real hard test of golf. You have to play amazing to get it.”

• “The Open Championship. It is the Holy Grail of golf in my eyes. I enjoy playing The Masters the most, but to win the Open Championship would be the ultimate.”

And then…

• “I don’t rank things, just give me any of them. A major is a major.”

• “I’ll take all four thanks. What? Is that too greedy?”


Question: What is your typical pre-tournament round practice routine?

You can get a real sense of a personality here. Some guys are very particular; others, more laid-back. But they all know the importance of a good warm-up.

• “I get in the gym two hours ahead and do 30 minutes of work. Then I eat really quickly before heading to the range to hit wedges, 9-iron, 7-iron, 5-iron and then hybrid through driver. I just try to get the body loose.”

• “I have 45 minutes of warm-up time where I always hit 36 balls and then I always putt before heading to the tee.”

• “I start with putting, then the range and go from wedges to the driver, and then back to the putting green before heading to the first tee.”

• “I try to make it similar each time. Nothing special. But I always have a cup of tea on the way to the golf course, though.”

• “I hit balls for about 30 minutes, chip for 20 minutes, putt for about 10 minutes and then hit the first tee.”

• “I do the same things each time, but not necessarily the same order. It depends on the facility.”

• “Hit a few balls, 45 minutes to an hour of warm-up. We have some routines, some might think they’re quirky, but it’s just keeping things normal. Everyone out here could be considered quirky.”

• “It’s very regimented and typical. I need an hour to warm up. Light stretching, putt for 10 minutes, hit balls for 30 minutes and then back to putting before I head out.”

• “It varies for me. Depends how good you are playing. I seem to be doing much less time hitting balls and more time putting these days. There was probably a time where I had more superstitious stuff, but I’ve tried to take that away so I’m not a basket case.”

Question: What’s your favorite golf movie, and why?

Did you really think it would be anything other than “Caddyshack”? A few others get a vote, but Bill Murray and the boys continue to be the benchmark. Remember — a donut with no hole is a Danish.

• “‘Caddyshack.’ There is a lot that relates to us as golfers in it. Bill Murray and Rodney Dangerfield are brilliant, and it has some great one-liners that a lot of guys are always quoting on Tour.”

• “‘Caddyshack.’ There are so many one-liners that people are still quoting this many years later so that’s the sign of a great movie.”

• “‘Caddyshack’ for sure. It’s a classic, and it has the great one-liners I love to rattle off.”

But then…

• “I’m not a ‘Caddyshack’ guy like most out here. I like ‘Happy Gilmore.’ That was pretty funny. I am also waiting for the day a pretty girl asks me to sign her chest!”

• “‘Happy Gilmore.’ It’s just a fun twist on golf and I like that.”

• “‘Tin Cup.’ It’s more of an actual movie then the others.”

Compiled by Ben Everill

Teaser:
<p> PGA Tour Golfers Talk Anonymously About Tiger, Phil and More</p>
Post date: Friday, April 5, 2013 - 15:09
All taxonomy terms: Luke Donald, Golf
Path: /golf/top-20-golfers-2013-majors-no-4-luke-donald
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. 4: Luke Donald

Born: Dec. 7, 1977, Hemel Hempstead, England | Career PGA Tour Wins: 5 (7 on European Tour)  | 2012 Wins (Worldwide): 2 | 2012 Earnings (PGA Tour): $3,512,024 (14th) World Ranking: 4

 

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Donald is a paradox. In 2010 he led the world money list. In the last two years, he has won six times, and in 2011 he took the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking and became the first person to lead both the European and PGA tour money lists in the same year. For most of 2012, he battled Rory McIlroy for the top spot in the world. And yet, no player ever to ascend to the number 1 spot on the globe has ever had less success in the majors. Through 2012 he has played in 38 of the game’s biggest events, and only twice has he gotten closer than five shots to the winning score, and never closer than two shots. Buoyed by a shockingly consistent wedge and putter, he is hampered somewhat by an inconsistent tee to green game and is at a disadvantage when it comes to the power-oriented setups of most Tour courses. At 35, though, he still has plenty of time and game for a big one to fall his way.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 38
Wins: 0

2012 Performance:
Masters - T32
U.S. Open - Cut
British Open - T5
PGA Championship - T32

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - T3 (2005)
U.S. Open - T12 (2006)
British Open - T5 (2009, 2012)
PGA Championship - T3 (2006)
Top-10 Finishes: 7
Top-25 Finishes: 13
Missed Cuts: 12

—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: Friday, April 5, 2013 - 10:38
All taxonomy terms: College Football, College Basketball, NBA
Path: /college-basketball/athlons-essential-11-links-day-april-1
Body:

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for April 5.

• The "Evil Dead" remake opens today. Those who weren't planning to see it might want to check out this slideshow of one of the stars, Jessica Lucas. It might change your mind. That's her in the photo, by the way.

• Final Four weekend is finally here. Check out Athlon's previews of the semifinal matchups here and here.

• Note to this weekend's Final Four teams: They can't take away what you've accomplished. Well, then again, maybe they can. Here are the most infamous vacated wins teams in NCAA history.

• Looking to lose some money this weekend? A quick and dirty guide to casino games.

• God in a Goldfish cracker? You be the judge.

• Legendary film critic Roger Ebert died yesterday. Here's a collection of his reviews of some legendary sports films. He loved "Raging Bull"; hated "Kazaam." Okay, so some are no-brainers.

• Slam dunk contests have gotten kinda tired, but Doug Anderson's winning dunk in the College Slam Dunk contest was pretty sweet.

The Auburn synthetic pot report is only a day old, but there are already holes.

• After Brittney Griner Instagramed this photoshopped photo of her dunking on Brandon Knight, I want Cubes to draft her just so they can both be humiliated.

This Lithuanian under-18 hockey player does not like to lose. He may not get another opportunity after this display.

• Just when you thought you couldn't root for Kevin Ware any harder, he goes on Letterman and kills. Ware for President.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]


April 4

• Anybody watching Splash, the celebrity diving show? Reminder: It features Katherine Webb, as you can see in the photo.

• According to somebody who tracks these things, there were only 21 pitches in MLB last year that failed to even reach 60 mph. Last night, Paul Maholm uncorked one of these speed-limit-observing eephus balls to strike out Chase Utley.

If you click on this link and giggle, it's time to grow up. (Full disclosure: I giggled.)

• Tired of adults grabbing baseballs away from kids in the stands? Click and enjoy. Sometimes justice does prevail.

• Need a little help getting pumped for the Final Four? Bookmark this GIF.

• Long-form piece of the day: The twilight of Don King.

• If you grew up in the '80s, you probably loved WWE. If so, you'll love this classic pro wrestling slideshow.

Three SEC quarterback battles that will extend into the fall.

• Another day, another scandal: Auburn allegedly did all kinds of bad stuff while winning the national title.

Tiger Woods is on the cover of SI for the 21st time. But he's still not talking.

One CarGo robbed another of a home run last night.

• Falling down, back to the basket: Danilo Gallinari had the Jazz right where he wanted them.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]


April 3

• The Golf Channel's Holly Sonders wants you to get fit and will appear on the cover of Golf Digest's upcoming fitness issue. Holly, you have our attention.

• News Yu can use: Rangers ace Yu Darvish came up one out short of a perfect game, leaving headline writers and Twitter comedians to try to outdo each other with puns. USA Today gathered some of them up

• After that explosive video showing him abusing his players, Rutgers coach Mike Rice is out the door. Moral of the story: If you're going to be a bullying jackass, at least be a successful one.

Meanwhile, on the other coast, there's a ref scandal. Good times for college sports.

Jay-Z decided he didn't have enough to do, so he started a sports rep agency. First client: Robinson Cano.

• Bob Costas quoting Ludacris? Bob Costas quoting Ludacris.

• I doubt this will make David Stern's Christmas letter: A former NBA player was indicted yesterday for murder and gang activity.

• In happier NBA news, Nate the Great scoffs at your silly double-teams.

• An SEC market report entering this year's NFL Draft: the risers and fallers.

Evan Longoria threw a guy out from his butt yesterday.

• Bubba Watson is living the life. He has a green jacket, and now he has a hovercart.

• Chivalry is dead, and this guy might be, too, after ducking out of the way of a home run ball and allowing his girlfriend to take it in the face.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]


April 2

• Yes, it's April 2, but it's not too late to note that March was a good month for fans of the ladies. Here are the women who wowed in March, including MLS' Houston Dynamos girls.

• For a day, anyway, the Mets rule the Big Apple. Of course, I wouldn't bet the house on either New York team.

• Bryce Harper hit two home runs, but to me, A.J. Burnett's rosin bag explosion was the highlight of Opening Day.

How this year's Final Four teams were built.

• What's next for Kevin Ware? Time Magazine has details.

• April Fools Day joke, or real Mississippi State recruiting letter? You decide.

POTUS follows the Marshall Henderson example: If you miss, just keep jacking.

This announcer attempts to say 'get your peanuts' but instead blurts out a well-known part of the male anatomy. No thanks - I'll stick with the popcorn and Cracker Jack.

This is good news - I hope it's me they're talking about.

Five SEC players who will go from no-names to household names during 2013.

• When rookie hazing and April Fools Day collide, you get Dion Waiters' car consumed with popcorn.

• This insane alley-oop had its origins when both players were still outside the arc.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]


April 1

• The SEC was shut out of the Final Four, along with their comely cheerleading squads. SEC fans will have to settle for this hoops cheerleader slideshow.

• The Final Four is set, much like Kevin Ware's horribly mangled leg. I won't inflict the horrific video of his injury on my readers; instead, here's Ware holding the Regional Championship plaque post-surgery. And here's SI's Luke Winn on Ware and the injury aftermath.

Observations from a regional final weekend that was at times thrilling, at times stomach-turning and at times dreadfully boring.

• Despite today's date, everything you read here is true. But if you're jonesing for some April Fools Day humor, here are some epic April 1 pranks over the years. And here's a clever prank that the Canadiens played on a overly excited rookie.

• Yes, baseball was played last night, but today is the real Opening Day, meaning that Mets pitcher Jon Niese's wife will be observing an unusual tradition.

• Athlon offers up the 10 greatest baseball-themed ad campaigns in history.

The New Yorker sticks a dagger in the hearts of Yankees fans with their latest cover.

• These guys should be glad they don't work in the real world: 20 athletes who would be fired if they had regular jobs.

• Boy, California cops are cracking down on those helmet laws. Even if you have an oversized head that no helmet could fit.

• In this year of the airballed free throw, Andre Drummond of the Pistons outdid himself. Watch and enjoy.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

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 5, 2013 - 09:27
All taxonomy terms: Louis Oosthuizen, Golf
Path: /golf/top-20-golfers-2013-majors-no-5-louis-oosthuizen
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. 5: Louis Oosthuizen

Born: Oct. 19, 1982, Mossel Bay, South Africa | Career PGA Tour Wins: 1 (6 on European Tour)  | 2012 Wins (Worldwide): 2 | 2012 Earnings (PGA Tour): $3,460,995 (15th) World Ranking: 6

 

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Oosthuizen could be the surprise of 2013; he has all the talent to win multiple times and become a multiple major champion, something he very nearly did in 2012 before losing a playoff to Bubba Watson at the Masters. Possessing what many call the best swing in golf, he (like Rory McIlroy) has effortless power and has shown an ability to win by wide margins, most notably in the Open Championship where he won in 2010 by seven shots, and also at an event in Africa where he won by 14. If he stays motivated, this will be Louis’ year.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 18
Wins: 1

2012 Performance:
Masters - 2
U.S. Open - Cut
British Open - T19
PGA Championship - T21

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - 2 (2012)
U.S. Open - T9 (2011)
British Open - 1 (2010)
PGA Championship - T21 (2012)
Top-10 Finishes: 3
Top-25 Finishes: 5
Missed Cuts: 11

—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: Thursday, April 4, 2013 - 10:40
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/10-amazing-masters-records
Body:

Consider this the appetizer before next week's main course. We scoured The Masters record book and found these amazing numbers:

10 The record for consecutive under-par rounds at The Masters belongs to Tiger Woods, who shot 10 consecutive rounds under par from the third round in 2000 through the final round in 2002. Not surprisingly, he won the green jacket in 2001 and 2002, after finishing fifth in 2000. Tiger's scoring average for those 10 rounds was 68.5.

25 Phil Mickelson holds the record for most birdies in a single Masters, with 25 in 2001. Lefty finished -13 that year, three shots behind winner Tiger Woods, who was able to muster only 23 birdies for the week.

37 Among many Masters records held by Jack Nicklaus is his astounding 37 cuts made at Augusta. That's especially remarkable when you consider that Tiger Woods has only been alive 37 years. Between 1960 and 2000, Jack played in 40 Masters, missing the cut twice (in 1967 and 1994) and withdrawing in 1983. Among Nicklaus' other Masters records: He won a record six Masters, was runner-up a record four times, and he finished in the top 5 a record 15 times, in the top 10 22 times, and in the top 25 29 times.

23 Gary Player and Fred Couples share the record with 23 consecutive made cuts at The Masters. Player didn't miss a cut between 1959 and 1982 (he didn't compete in 1973 due to illness). During that span, he won three times and finished in the top 10 15 times. Couples' streak ran from 1983 to 2008, although he didn't play in 1987 or 1994.

50 Arnold Palmer holds a record that will likely never be equaled, playing in 50 consecutive Masters from 1955 to 2004. Thankfully, the King is still a fixture in April at Augusta, hitting a ceremonial tee shot along with fellow legends Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

66 That's the record score for a "Senior" player (age 50 or above). Fred Couples shot a 66 at age 50 in 2010's first round; and Ben Hogan, long past his prime at age 54, shot a 66 in the third round in 1967, going on to finish tied for 10th in his final Masters appearace.

66 The lowest score by an amateur was a 66 by Ken Venturi, in 1956's first round. Venturi actually held a four-shot lead entering the final round and was in prime position to become the only amateur winner in the event's history, until a windswept final-round 80 left him one shot behind Jack Burke.

-12 The lowest total by a first-time Masters competitor was a 12-under 276 in 2011 by Jason Day, who finished tied for second, two shots behind Charl Schwartzel.

6 The largest lead lost after three rounds is Greg Norman's 1996 collapse from a six-stroke lead to a five-stroke loss to Nick Faldo following a final-round 78. Coming off the eighth green on that Masters Sunday, Norman was only 1-over par for the day and still held a three-shot lead over Faldo. But three bogeys and two double-bogeys down the stretch doomed Norman to the most painful failure of his star-crossed career.

0 Fred Couples won the 1992 Masters, but here's an interesting distinction for Boom-Boom: He's the only player to have never missed a Masters cut in the 20th Century. Couples first played in the tournament in 1983 and didn't miss a Masters weekend until 2008.

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 - 15:14
All taxonomy terms: Keegan Bradley, Golf
Path: /golf/top-20-golfers-2013-majors-no-6-keegan-bradley
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. 6: Keegan Bradley

Born: June 7, 1986, Woodstock, Vt. | Career PGA Tour Wins: | 2012 Wins (Worldwide): 1 | 2012 Earnings (PGA Tour): $3,910,658 (10th) World Ranking: 11

 

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Bradley was statistically the best player on the tour in 2012, leading the All Around category. In the process, he added a WGC win to the PGA Championship he won in his rookie year. At 26 years old he has shown a tendency to elevate his performance in the game’s biggest events, whether it’s a major, a WGC event or last year’s Ryder Cup, where he looked like a teacher without colleagues on the US team.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 5
Wins: 1

2012 Performance:
Masters - T27
U.S. Open - T68
British Open - T34
PGA Championship - T3

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - T27 (2012)
U.S. Open - T68 (2012)
British Open - T34 (2012)
PGA Championship - 1 (2011)
Top-10 Finishes: 2
Top-25 Finishes: 2
Missed Cuts: 0

—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 3, 2013 - 10:55
All taxonomy terms: Justin Rose, Golf
Path: /golf/top-20-golfers-2013-majors-no-7-justin-rose
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. 7: Justin Rose

Born: July 30, 1980, Johannesburg, South Africa | Career PGA Tour Wins: 4 (5 on European Tour)   | 2012 Wins (Worldwide): 2 | 2012 Earnings (PGA Tour): $4,290,930 (7th) World Ranking: 3

 

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Rose led both the European and PGA tours in greens in regulation in 2012 and finished the year with his highest-ever world ranking at No. 4. He had his biggest win at the WGC Cadillac, his best finish in a major with a 3rd at the PGA Championship, beat Phil Mickelson in Ryder Cup singles with clutch putts on the last three holes and beat both Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood en route to winning in Turkey at the end of the year. His confidence appears to have caught up with his abilities, which means Justin has a chance to be the best in the world.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 35
Wins: 0

2012 Performance:
Masters - T8
U.S. Open - T21
British Open - Cut
PGA Championship - T3

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - T5 (2007)
U.S. Open - T5 (2003)
British Open - T4 (1998)
PGA Championship - T3 (2012)
Top-10 Finishes: 7
Top-25 Finishes: 16
Missed Cuts: 13

—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 2, 2013 - 10:50
All taxonomy terms: Phil Mickelson, Golf
Path: /golf/top-20-golfers-2013-majors-no-8-phil-mickelson
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. 8: Phil Mickelson

Born: June 16, 1970, San Diego, Calif. | Career PGA Tour Wins: 41  | 2012 Wins (Worldwide): 1 | 2012 Earnings (PGA Tour): $4,203,821 (8th) World Ranking: 10

 

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Lefty has won in every year but two since 1993, and even though he doesn’t have the length that he used to, he still has more ability to produce magic than all but a few players in the world. His best bet to win is at Augusta National, where he has three wins and nine top 5s since 1999, including a third-place finish there last year. At 42, he doesn’t have many great years left, but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if he won another major before he was done.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 81
Wins: 4

2012 Performance:
Masters - T3
U.S. Open - T65
British Open - Cut
PGA Championship - T36

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - 1 (2004, 2006, 2010)
U.S. Open - 2/T2 (1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009)
British Open - T2 (2011)
PGA Championship - 1 (2005)
Top-10 Finishes: 33
Top-25 Finishes: 45
Missed Cuts: 8

—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: Monday, April 1, 2013 - 10:36
All taxonomy terms: Webb Simpson, Golf
Path: /golf/top-20-golfers-2013-majors-no-9-webb-simpson
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. 9: Webb Simpson

Born: Aug. 8, 1985, Raleigh, N.C. | Career PGA Tour Wins: 3  | 2012 Wins (Worldwide): 1 | 2012 Earnings (PGA Tour): $3,436,758 (17th) World Ranking: 19

 

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Simpson hits so many great iron shots from 50-175 yards that he consistently puts himself in scoring position, and at 27 years old he has many great years ahead of him. Look for 2013 to be a continuation of his last two years on Tour, when he finished 2nd and 17th on the money list, respectively, and in 2012 won the U.S. Open in just his fifth major championship start.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 6
Wins: 1

2012 Performance:
Masters - T44
U.S. Open - 1
British Open - DNP
PGA Championship - Cut

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - T44 (2012)
U.S. Open - 1 (2012)
British Open - T16 (2011)
PGA Championship - Cut (2011, 2012)
Top-10 Finishes: 1
Top-25 Finishes: 3
Missed Cuts: 2

—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: Friday, March 29, 2013 - 11:03
All taxonomy terms: College Football, College Basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB
Path: /college-football/athlons-essential-11-links-day-march-25
Body:

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for March 29.

• They're about to start playing games that count in MLB. These lovely WAGs will be watching, including David Wright's fiancee, Molly Beers (pictured). 

A roundup from last night, which saw another No. 1 seed go down to defeat.

• Noted white man Doug Gottlieb planted his foot in his mouth last night, but Sir Charles has his back.

• Step aside, Tebowing and Kaepernicking. Now we've got Dufnering. And it's tremendous. Here are three of the Duf-man's buds showing us how it's done. Note the half-pack of Skoal in the lower lip.

• A by-product of the rise of the read option in the NFL: Guys like Vince Young and Pat White are getting a second look.

• Big Ten and Pac-12 fans might wonder how anything SEC football-related could be underrated, but here you go: The SEC's All-Underrated Team for this spring.

• Lane Kiffin, report to the principal's office: Pac-12 coaches on the hot seat.

• Yesterday's incoherent tweet was a joke, but now that Phil Jackson is on Twitter, let's hope for a continuing stream of zingers like these.

• Jerry Buss continues to burnish his reputation as a ladies' man even in death. There's news that he left a Bentley and a condo in Hawaii to a 20-something girlfriend.

• An announcer accidentally referred to a part of the male anatomy. Uncontrollable giggling ensued. If that's your idea of entertainment, enjoy today's video.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]


March 28

• The Tournament's second weekend is upon us. To celebrate, Coed presents the Cheerleaders of the Sweet 16.

• Florida Gulf Coast is only the latest in a long history of NCAA Tournament Cinderellas. Here's a rundown from Mandatory.

• All good things must end, and the Bulls, minus three starters, ended the second-longest winning streak in NBA history. After the game, some dumb fan tried to grab a souvenir from an angry LeBron, who was in no mood to suffer fools, possibly because he's tired of the hack-a-Bron strategy that opponents are using.

• SEC East, beware: Georgia has an x-factor for the upcoming college football season.

The latest from USC (okay, Spurrier, we'll call them the other USC), including video of Matt Barkley's reaction to his Pro Day performance.

• After 2013, baseball snobs won't have Tim McCarver to kick around anymore.

• Today in signs and wonders: A Reds fan created a "miracle pancake" with the Cincinnati logo, then offered it on eBay.

Phil Jackson joined Twitter yesterday. His avatar is badass, but apparently it's tough to type with all those rings.

• Pot, meet kettle: Rick Reilly asked Aaron Craft about being annoying.

• Today's video: One last moment of anti-Heat schadenfreude, courtesy of some dude named Jimmy Butler.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]


March 27

• The Big 12 didn't have a very good hoops season. Only one team from the league, perennial power Kansas, is still alive. But that doesn't mean the league's cheerleaders aren't among the elite. Here's a sample.

I pity the fool who doesn't love this clip of Mr. T scoring from center ice.

The last time the Heat lost, the Harlem Shake video had not been released. Those were glorious times.

• Dirk Nowitzki vowed in late January not to shave until the Mavs reached .500. He's working on an epic beard. Deadspin brings you its evolution.

• Once upon a time, Mark Cuban was sleeping on a floor with six other guys in a three-bedroom apartment. What he and other wildly successful people were up to at age 25.

• The U-Dub is an intriguing team to ponder for the 2013 college football season. Here's the news from Seattle from ace Pac-12 bloggers Ted Miller and Kevin Gemmell.

Randall Cunningham, who was years ahead of his time, turns 50 today, and he looks every bit of it. And I suddenly feel very, very old.

Dubya was on hand last night to watch Brittney Griner score 33 points, six of them on three dunks. Well, not dunks like you and I think of them, but dunks nonetheless.

The Phillie Phanatic tried to make out with the local Fox traffic reporter. When you see her, you'll understand why.

Phil Mickelson hits an amazing flop shot over a guy standing right in front of him. That guy is more trusting than I am.

• It may seem paranoid for coaches to close spring practices to the media, but they have their reasons.

• Blake Griffin hit what would have been the season's best buzzer beater. Unfortunately, he cheated and it didn't count.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]


March 26

• Today's celebrity gossip: "Nashville" actress Hayden Panettiere is once again dating meathead boxer Wladimir Klitschko, if their PDA at Sunday's Heat-Bobcats game is any indication. That's them, being photobombed by Rory McIlroy. Now back to our regular programming.

• Along with the shining moments, March Madness brings with it some crushing disappointments. Here are 10 of the biggest so far.

LeBron James celebrated the Heat's 27th consecutive win with an amazingly dorky videobomb. It's good to be the King.

• Attention Pac-12 fans: If your team's out of the tournament (or even if it's not), there's plenty of football news going on. Kevin Gemmell has it covered.

• They'll rearrange your face, then tell you you're still ugly: The best MMA trash-talkers.

• It's spring break time for many students. Of course, there are some athletes for whom spring break is a constant state of mind.

• Each fall in the SEC brings an amazing influx of new football talent. Here are the 25 newcomers to watch.

• Arizona pitcher Daniel Hudson didn't like his new baseball card. And no wonder: The photo they used was from his season-ending injury.

A tennis player was stung by a wasp in an indelicate place. She did not enjoy the experience.

• The Red Sox are having trouble selling tickets. The solution: Cheap beer!

Nike has an interesting take on Tiger Woods' return to the top. Wonder if Elin agrees with the sentiment?

• Today's video amazingly combines elements of hockey, hoops and drinking into one amusing package.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]


March 25

• Step aside, Katherine Webb: It's Amanda Marcum's time. The wife of Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield is ready for her close-up. That's her in the photo, in case you were wondering.

• Ms. Marcum aside, they're the story of the tournament, and the sports story of the year so far: Florida Gulf Coast is in the Sweet 16. Dunk City's coming, baby. Even the mascot's a playa.

• FGCU's a great hoops story, but you want a human interest angle? They've got that covered, too.

• Shane Larkin is Miami's best player, but Julian Gamble is college basketball's best photobomber, and it's not close. Another Hurricane superlative: Jim Larranaga busted out the best postgame coach dance of all time, and nominations are now closed.

• Here's some crack for hoops junkies: 16 amazing stats from the Tournament's first weekend. Also: An assortment of first-weekend superlatives.

• Baseball royalty: Mets PR director Jay Horwitz is the King of the Butt-Dialers.

• Here's an opinion that's sure to generate discussion: AJ McCarron will go down as Bama's greatest quarterback ever. Remember, this is the school that produced Joe Namath.

• Sergio Garcia made his reputation as a 19-year-old hitting a closed-eyes shot from the base of a tree at the PGA Championship. Yesterday, he topped himself: Sergio hit a shot out of a tree. I've had to hit it out of the trees plenty of times, but not like this.

• Instant classic: Tiger, Arnie and Trevino go Ninja for EA Sports.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

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, March 29, 2013 - 10:26
All taxonomy terms: Lee Westwood, Golf
Path: /golf/top-20-golfers-2013-majors-no-10-lee-westwood
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. 10: Lee Westwood

Born: April 24, 1973, Worksop, U.K. | Career PGA Tour Wins: 2 (22 on European Tour  | 2012 Wins (Worldwide): 2 | 2012 Earnings (PGA Tour): $3,016,569 (24th) World Ranking: 13

 

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Westwood will turn 40 years old in April of 2013, and the only thing missing from his substantial resume in golf is a major win. Perhaps like his friend Darren Clarke, who waited until he was in his fourth decade to finally win a major, Lee will find shades of gray to his liking. The odds do not favor him, however, as only three of the last 56 majors have been won by men in their 40s. Lee has decided to move to the United States; one suspects that the move is a last hard push at the only thing the game has denied him. If the comfort of living here improves his short game — he ranked dead last in 2012 — he might join Vijay Singh and make his 40s his best years.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 59
Wins: 0

2012 Performance:
Masters - T2
U.S. Open - T10
British Open - T45
PGA Championship - Cut

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - 2 (2010)
U.S. Open - 3rd/T3 (2008, 2011)
British Open - 2 (2012)
PGA Championship - T3 (2009)
Top-10 Finishes: 14
Top-25 Finishes: 24
Missed Cuts: 16

—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: Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 11:21
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/top-20-golfers-2013-majors-no-11-adam-scott
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. 11: Adam Scott

Born: July 16, 1980, Adelaide, Australia | Career PGA Tour Wins: 8 (8 on European Tour  | 2012 Wins (Worldwide): 1 | 2012 Earnings (PGA Tour): $2,899,557 (25th) World Ranking: 7

 

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Scott has long had one of the most beautiful swings in the game, but for most of his career there was a sense he was underachieving, particularly in the majors, where prior to 2011 he had played 39 times and managed only four top 10s. In early 2011, however, he switched to the anchored putter, and he has finished in the top ten four times in the eight majors since, twice finishing second. He's still not a great putter but has the ability to drive the ball longer and straighter than anyone in golf.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 47
Wins: 0

2012 Performance:
Masters - T8
U.S. Open - T15
British Open - 2
PGA Championship - T11

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - T2 (2011)
U.S. Open - T15 (2012)
British Open - 2 (2012)
PGA Championship - T3 (2006)
Top-10 Finishes: 8
Top-25 Finishes: 19
Missed Cuts: 15

—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, March 27, 2013 - 11:18
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/top-20-golfers-2013-majors-no-12-jason-dufner
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. 12: Jason Dufner

Born: March 24, 1977, Cleveland, Ohio | Career PGA Tour Wins: | 2012 Wins (Worldwide): 2 | 2012 Earnings (PGA Tour): $4,869,304 (4th) World Ranking: 18

 

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Dufner made the fewest bogeys per round on the PGA tour in 2012 and at the end of the year had the longest made cut streak at 21 events. He has become one of the most consistent players in the world through the bag, and his all-around rank of third is evidence that he doesn’t have any weaknesses. At almost 36, he is a late bloomer, but the promise he showed in 2011 was fulfilled in 2012, and he shows no signs of slowing down.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 15
Wins: 0

2012 Performance:
Masters - T24
U.S. Open - T4
British Open - T31
PGA Championship - T27

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - T24 (2012)
U.S. Open - T4 (2012)
British Open - T31 (2012)
PGA Championship - 2 (2011)
Top-10 Finishes: 3
Top-25 Finishes: 4
Missed Cuts: 5

—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, March 26, 2013 - 12:02
All taxonomy terms: Tiger Woods, Golf
Path: /golf/11-amazing-stats-tiger-woods-win-bay-hill
Body:

Yep, Tiger Woods is back. In fact, he's just had one of the better days of a career that's had more shining moments than a decade's worth of NCAA Tournaments. Here's a rundown of Tiger's weekend, by the numbers. And I think we can officially retire that stupid question (Is he back?) once and for all.

8 Tiger's win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational was his eighth in the event, tying Sam Snead's record for the most wins in a single event (Snead won at Greensboro eight times). Snead was 52 when he won his eighth Greensboro; Tiger is 37.

1 Woods returns to the No. 1 slot in the Official World Golf Ranking, passing Rory McIlroy and assuming the top spot for the first time since Oct. 30, 2010.

624 This week marks the 624th week of his career that Woods has spent as the No. 1 golfer in the world. That's 12 years. Four-time major winner Ernie Els has spent 19 weeks at No. 1. Phil Mickelson, zero.

6 The win is Woods' sixth in his last 19 stroke-play events.

43 Tiger has gone into Sunday with an outright lead 45 times, and he's won 43 of those tournaments, including this one. If he's had at least a share of the third-round lead, he's now 52-for-56.

+3.89 Tiger led the field at Bay Hill with +3.89 Strokes Gained Putting Per Round. His previous career best for a single tournament was +2.34. If he's putting that well at Augusta, it's over before it starts.

77 Woods has 77 wins at the age of 37 years, two months, 24 days. Sam Snead, whose 82 career wins Woods is chasing, earned his 77th win at the age of 45 years, three months, 10 days.

27 Tiger has now won 27 percent (77 of 284) of his starts on the PGA Tour.

7 Tiger's eight wins at Bay Hill are more than former World No. 1 players Lee Westwood and Tom Lehman have for their PGA Tour careers combined (seven). Throw in Colin Montgomerie, who was shut out on the PGA Tour, and it still holds. (h/t Paul Azinger)

2009 Woods has now won back-to-back starts for the first time since 2009  (Buick Open, Bridgestone Invitational).

18 Entering The Masters, Woods' major drought now stands at 18 consecutive majors (four which Woods did not enter). That drought is in mortal danger.

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Monday, March 25, 2013 - 14:31
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/top-20-golfers-2013-majors-no-13-bubba-watson
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. 13: Bubba Watson

Born: Nov. 5, 1978, Bagdad, Fla. | Career PGA Tour Wins: | 2012 Wins (Worldwide): 1 | 2012 Earnings (PGA Tour): $4,644,997 (5th) World Ranking: 13

 

Brandel Chamblee's Take

Bubba hit the shot of the year and perhaps of the millennium in 2012 in the playoff at The Masters, proving that his shotmaking abilities, combined with his length off of the tee, make him a threat every time he tees it up. Still, he is unpredictable because he struggles with his wedge and putter. But because of his talents with every other club, he only needs to be average around and on the greens.

Major Championship Résumé
Starts: 20
Wins: 1

2012 Performance:
Masters - Won
U.S. Open - Cut
British Open - T23
PGA Championship - T11

Best Career Finishes: 
Masters - 1 (2012)
U.S. Open - T5 (2007)
British Open - T23 (2012)
PGA Championship - 2 (2010)
Top-10 Finishes: 3
Top-25 Finishes: 7
Missed Cuts: 7

—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: Monday, March 25, 2013 - 11:04

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