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Posts Tagged ‘Lee Westwood’

Rory McIlroy Wins 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional

What a U.S. Open Weekend!

Rory McIlroy at 2011 U.S. Open

Rory McIlroy at 2011 U.S. Open

Rory McIlroy wins the U.S. Open,  his first major, in a storm of scoring on a weakened, yet still long Congressional Country Club golf course. As I watched Rory throughout the tournament I was impressed with his poise and patience, not only on the course, but off as well. I can only imagine how many times he has answered the questions regarding his Masters back nine fall a few weeks before. Even Bob Costas’ ill-timed inappropriate question about The Masters during the championship award ceremony did not phase Rory, but who would have blamed him if it did? (Come on Bob, save those questions for the post tournament press conference!) But Rory has grown up in preparation for this moment. He has proven to be gracious in losing, and now gracious in winning. He is delightful to watch.

A Vulnerable U.S. Open Golf Course

The course was vulnerable this week. With the rough down somewhat in anticipation for hard and fast greens and then rains softening the greens during the tournament, the course was ripe for better than normal U.S. Open scoring…and there was better than normal U.S. Open scoring. Not taking anything away from Rory’s performance as he did lap the field, but there were lots of players under par (20 including Rory). Also, an accomplishment of very few in past, he was not the only player to shoot all four rounds under par – he was joined by Robert Garrigus (T3), although Rory did so with all 4 in the 60’s (65/66/68/69). Garrigus shot 70 3 times making a tough clutch par putt on 18 to make it happen.

Who Showed at the U.S. Open & Who Didn’t

Jason Day once again showed brilliance in a major finishing alone in second. We saw some small glimpses of the Sergio of old. Chappel and Garrigus were the lone Americans in the top 10 at 6 under par, T3 along with Y.E. Yang and Lee Westwood. Where was Phil, Luke and Martin?  The amateur Patrick Cantlay (pictured behind Rory), an incoming 19 year old sophomore at UCLA and the world’s number one amateur, did spectacularly carding an even par score for the tournament and taking low amateur honors.  His next amateur competitor was Russell Henley, a Georgia Bulldog, finishing at 4 over par.

U.S. Open Coverage

It was an interesting dynamic to watch the U.S. Open as broadcasts switched from ESPN to NBC then to ESPN again on Thursday and Friday. What a dichotomy of announcers and styles! I also listened to part on Sirius/XM ESPN. NBC televised the Saturday and Sunday rounds and we got our fill of Johnny Miller. I have to say, I would much rather watch and listen to Curtis Strange (he was broadcasting on radio) than Miller. Miller seemed to be manufacturing scenarios to make it more “interesting.” He was a little out of character I think in his incessant praise of McIlroy’s swing. Usually he will find something wrong somewhere.

What was NBC thinking when they edited out “under God” from the American pledge of allegiance in their tribute to American patriotism? Does that strike anyone else as a strange juxtaposition, to edit a pledge in a tribute to patriotism?! Did they think that most people hadn’t said it in so long that no one would remember it and it would just pass? The apology was lame. As if they simply mistakenly edited out the words. There is no doubt in my mind that it was intentional. What arrogance! Whoever made that decision needs to be fired. We just don’t change the words to fit our agendas…

U.S. Open Repercussions?

A thought came to me that maybe this is just the kind of motivation to bring Tiger out of his funk. Sure, he has injury, but motivation is key to recovery. Doubters of this theory would say that surpassing Jack’s major total is enough motivation. Is it? Now, after the personal failures and the inner searching Tiger is obviously undertaking to find his new self? Maybe this surge of 20-something talent will bring out a hungry Tiger. Just a thought.

Thanks Rory for a great U.S. Open showing!  You’re a great Champion.

Official World Golf Rankings

This week Luke Donald lost in a 3-hole playoff to Brandt Snedeker at The Heritage Classic (Harbor Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, SC).  Congratulations Brandt!  Had Luke Donald won, he would have secured the Number 1 Ranking in the world.  But, since he did not win, Lee Westwood secured that position on the merits of the win this weekend at the Indonesian Masters.  Listening to the PGA channel this morning while driving to work, there was a lot of discussion about Westwood’s rise in the rankings and how that could happen.  How is it that Lee Westwood, playing against a much weaker field in Jakarta, Indonesia, can move to the number one spot?  This brings to my mind questions regarding the formula used for figuring out the rankings in general. 

I have been contemplating this for awhile, since Tiger dropped from the top spot.  Face it, while he was on top, no one cared how they figured out the numbers – it was readily apparent that he was number one.  Now it is not so clear who the top figure is, but apparently it’s Lee Westwood according to the Official World Golf Rankings.   Also, all of a sudden a bunch of European players have risen to the fore, how has that happened? 

tigerSo, how do they figure out where a golfer falls in the rankings?  First, check out this website of the Official World Golf Rankings as find out: http://www.officialworldgolfranking.com/about_us/default.sps?iType=425

It lays out the numerical values of wins (and placings) of certain tournaments around the world associated with certain Tours.  Majors are afforded the largest and so on.  But, are the numerical values correct?  If you play a lot of second and third tier events around the world, plus place well in few PGA events, and place well in perhaps a Major or two there’s a good chance you can do well and place yourself fairly high in the world rankings.  Remember my question above about the numbers of European players rising to the fore?  Is the European Tour as strong or deep week in and week out as the PGA Tour?  I don’t think so.  It would seem to be in the interests of a European Tour player to stay on that tour and garner points in the rankings “more easily.”  Why?  Well, take a look at this excerpt from Wikipedia:

“A professional golfer’s ranking is of considerable significance to his career. For example, a ranking in the World Top 50 explicitly grants automatic entry to three of the four majors and three of the four current World Golf Championships; see table below. Starting in 2012, a ranking in the top 70 will grant automatic entry to the Tournament of Hope, a fifth WGC event to be launched that year.[7] Also, ranking points are the sole criterion for selection for the International Team in the Presidents Cup and one of the qualification criteria for the European Ryder Cup team. The rankings are also used to help select the field for various other tournaments.

Tournament Automatic entries
The Masters Top 50
U.S. Open Top 50 through 2011
Top 60 from 2012[8]
The Open Championship Top 50
PGA Championship (Top 100)see note
WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship Top 64 (sole criterion)
WGC-CA Championship Top 50
WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Top 50
WGC-HSBC Champions Top 25
Tournament of Hope (from 2012) Top 7

Note: The PGA Championship does not have an official automatic entry based on the Official World Golf Ranking but has invited those in the top 100 for the last several years. It makes note of its strong field by referencing the number of top 100 ranked golfers entered in its press releases. [1] [2]

The rankings are well known to those who follow men’s professional golf and feature prominently in media coverage of the sport. When Vijay Singh temporarily ended Tiger Woods’ record run as world number 1 in 2004 it was one of the most reported golf stories of the year.”

The formula is there for examination for anyone who cares to go through the “gozintas.”  Listening to Nick Faldo, he has suggested that Majors be given even greater weight than they have now.  If that were true, I would imagine that Martin Kaymer would probably still be number one.  I wouldn’t venture a guess where the shuffling would occur below that, but I am sure it would.  I personally believe the Majors should be given more weight, Faldo’s comments are on target.  Granted he is a multiple Major winner whose number one status was a topic of discussion back in his day:

“On a few occasions the ranking system has caused discussion about whether it has produced the ‘right’ World Number One. This usually occurs when the number one ranked player has not won a major championship during the ranking period, while a rival has won more than one – notably at the end of 1990, when Nick Faldo remained ranked just behind Greg Norman despite winning three majors in two years. On that occasion, as detailed in Mark McCormack’s “World of Professional Golf 1991” annual, it was also the case (but less immediately apparent) that Norman had won 14 events during the ranking period to Faldo’s 10, and when the two had competed in the same tournament, had finished ahead of his rival 19 times to 11. In April 1991, a quirk in the way the rankings treated results from previous years meant that Ian Woosnam, who had never won a major, took the number one spot from Faldo on the eve of the latter’s attempt to win the Masters for a third year in succession; as if justifying the ranking system, Woosnam – and not Faldo – won the tournament.”  Wikipedia

So, there may be some personal issues involved with his commentary, but I still think he is right.

Who is number one is not really that important to me.  I think what needs to be taken care of is the possibility of players “playing the system” to garner the much rewarded top 50- 70 spot in order to get automatic invite to the most prestigious tournaments.  How come Westwood wasn’t at Harbor Town this week?  If he were truly number one, you’d think he’d want to play against the best in the world week to week.  It seems he may have gamed the system a bit, don’t you think?

World No. 1

In a story today by the Associated Press out of St. Andrews, Scotland it is reported that Lee Westwood will likely repace Tiger Woods at the number one spot at the end of the month.  That is, if Tiger stays with his game plan of not playing until the HSBC Champions event on November 4-7.  Westwood will not be playing until November either because of a right ankle injury. 

Tiger has been number one for more than 5 years, since the week before the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.  The shift at the beginning of Nov will be 279 weeks at number one.

Westwood suffered a calf injury during the French Open the first week in July causing swelling issues in his right ankle.  He has tried to fight through it but has withdrawn from a couple of events since.  Seems now, since Tiger doesn’t intend to play that he will cruise into the first spot without playing himself.

The HSBC Champions could shift number one again depending upon performance  by Tiger, Westwood, or Mickelson.

Masters Review

This year’s Masters was a “masters-piece!”  Aside from (and also because of) all the Tiger focus and distractions pre-tournament, it proved to be an event to remember.  The Tiger saga was interesting as we watched his tournament unfold, each day like a four-step program of reintroduction into the competitive world of PGA golf – surprise, elation, reality, and struggle.  He finished fourth and he was disappointed, and if not for a very sloppy three-putt from six feet on the 14th hole during the final day he would have tied for third.  Only he could be that disappointed after the layoff he had.  If only I could struggle so mightily and still shoot 3 under par…but he’s Tiger. 

Lee Westwood has finished in the top 3 of the last 3 majors.  He’ll win The British Open if he wins a major this year – so much for my predictions to date, but there it is.  The big surprise for me was the surge of Anthony Kim in the final round, the failures of my South Africa contingent to place, and Harrington and Furyk missing the cut so badly.  Freddie and Mr. Watson should be a surprised, but somehow they don’t feel that way. And we have, yet again, another possible Seve from Europe…the young  Italian 16 year old Benissimo Matteo.  Can he live up to the billing?  Obviously, only time will tell.  This youngster is about to turn pro so we’ll hear a lot more about him in the coming months, I hope.

Phil was masterful, and did it his way which made it all the more satisfying to watch.  No laying up for him!  When asked about the shot off the straw through the trees on 13 during the last round he shrugged and said, “It was only a 6 iron.”  Hmmmmm….

Comment on Tiger’s language.  I was watching the tournament when I thought I heard him drop the “F-Bomb” as clear as day after hitting an apparently abhorrent shot from the tee on the par 3 sixth hole…hit the green by the way.  Jim Nantz jumped all over it, as he should have.  Except, it really wasn’t the “F-Bomb,” it was another word that sounded like it.  In an ESPN replay, I heard it more clearly and he said, “Tiger Woods, you SUCK.”  SUCK accentuated louder than the other words, which is why it sounded like *UCK.  I really don’t consider telling yourself out loud that you suck as profanity.  Other than this instance, I don’t recall hearing any ‘profanity’ from him.  I do recall, however, hearing him say aloud Tigeeeer, in his best valley girl imitation.  That seemed a bit odd, but probably came out that way as a result of trying to control his words.  What is interesting is that previous to all his controversy, that “…you SUCK” event would probably have wafted by like a near silent popcorn fart, no one mention it and it will quickly go away.    We’ve seen the genteel segues occur before in tournaments when Tiger has cut loose an expletive because his ball didn’t do exactly as he desired.  But he has since lost his luster and now is seemingly free game.  In fact, we are poised to target the small lapses from his promised good behavior on the course.  Interesting.