Articles By Rob Doster

All taxonomy terms: Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Golf
Path: /golf/tiger-vs-jack-tale-tape

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

The amazing numbers from the weekend's festivities:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

May 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

• A waterskiing baby? A waterskiing baby.

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

A fan blew off some steam at a snooker match.

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

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

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

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

May 7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today's lesson: Know your urine donor.

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

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

May 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

May 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 1

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

Warriors-Nuggets is getting testy, and interesting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 30

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to San Diego, Manti Te'o.

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

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

Cheer up, Tim Tebow. Somebody wants you.

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

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

April 29

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

April 25

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 24

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 23

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

April 22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 17

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

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

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

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

The best fictional sports performances ever captured on celluloid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 16

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

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

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

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

Things you think are true, but aren't.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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April 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• This is how we do soccer hooliganism over here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

April 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

<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

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?

“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.



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.

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

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.

<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

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


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

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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.

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

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.

<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

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.

<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

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.

<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

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.  

<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

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.

<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

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 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

<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

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.

<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

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]

<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

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.

<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

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.

<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

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.

<p> Athlon Counts Down the 20 Golfers to Watch for Majors Season</p>
Post date: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 - 10:55