Masters Week!

Former Champion Ben Crenshaw playing in his last Masters!

Former Champion Ben Crenshaw playing in his last Masters!

It is finally here! The news is going crazy, the hype is growing, and the pundits are pontificating. For all golfing fans, the Masters Week is the start of so many things. For those of us living in the Great White North, it means golf season is about to start. For all those others who live in warmer climates, it is an opportunity to enjoy more golf.

The news is full of stories about who is going to win, who is going to exceed expectations, and who is going to struggle! I have already announce my picks for this year, but one topic I have avoided and just cannot anymore.

Yup, you guess it: The Role of Past Masters Champions!

Why would players be given a lifetime exemption for winning the Masters? If you think of the names on the list, only about 7 of the 19 have a chance to win again. Of those, few would be rated as any kind of favorite! Why let these aging players, some were superstars in their day, take a position from a young player who would benefit more from the experience of Amen Corner? Before we go any further here are the past winners playing this year:

  1. Cabrera, Angel
  2. Couples, Fred
  3. Crenshaw, Ben
  4. Immelman, Trevor
  5. Johnson, Zach
  6. Langer, Bernhard
  7. Lyle, Sandy
  8. Mickelson, Phil
  9. Mize, Larry
  10. O’Meara, Mark
  11. Olazabal, Jose Maria
  12. Schwartzel, Charl
  13. Scott, Adam
  14. Singh, Vijay
  15. Watson, Bubba
  16. Watson, Tom
  17. Weir, Mike
  18. Woods, Tiger
  19. Woosnam, Ian

After you have given it some thought, what have you come up with? Why let these aging players into the most elusive tournament in the world? Well, let me tell you.

Because they make the game better! These classy gentlemen, although most are past their prime, educate and mentor the younger superstars of today. They add that “savior faire” to an already awesome golf tournament. Some of these great players, like Ben Crenshaw and Tom Watson, are like that favorite uncle we like to periodically visit just talk about life.

These past champions help keep the rich and historic aspects of the Masters alive. They bring their own flair to the event which helps the fans connect to all the players. They become that underdog, who older players like myself can relate to, the fan favorite and unknown that all golfing fans secretly love to follow!

Ben Crenshaw indicated this will be his last year of competing in the Masters. As all the champions will eventually find out, there is a time to take a bow and exit stage left. Ben Crenshaw is demonstrating yet another lesson to the younger players that eventually everything comes to an end. Crenshaw played with class and leaves with class – Thanks for all the great memories.

As this week unfolds, take time to remember the past champions for they bring more to the game than just golf! As they tee it up on Thursday, listen to how loud the crowd cheers when their name is announce! As we watch them tee it up, there is still a small glimmer of hope and the thought that on any given day, anyone can make history!

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links.

2014 Ryder Cup – Wrap Up

Congratulations to the European Ryder Cup team for winning this year’s premier golfing event 16.5 to 11.5. As predicted, the underdog US Team could not overcome the consistent play of the Europeans. The last day of the Ryder Cup is by far the most exciting. The singles matches are as much a chess game as it is a golfing match. The slightest error can have cascading effects on the outcome. However, heading into the final day down 4 points, the US team could not rise to the challenge of defeating a stronger team.

Earlier, I predicted that the European team would win. My choices were made through analysis and research. I generally vote for any team Phil Mickelson is on, but this time the cards were stacked against that choice. As it turned out, my prediction was correct. This morning, just for fun, I made predictions on the singles matches. Here is how I made out:

Jordan Spieth 2 and 1 – Graeme McDowell won.
Henrick Stenson 1 up – Patrick Reed won.
Rickie Fowler 3 and 2 – Rory McIlroy won.
Justin Rose 2 and 1 – Havled
Phil Mickelson 1 up – Phil Mickelson won.
Martin Kaymer 3 and 2 – Martin Kaymer won.
Matt Kuchar 2 and 1 – Matt Kuchar won.
Sergio Garcia 1 up – Sergio Garcia won.
Ian Poulter 1 up – Halved
Keegan Bradley 1 up – Jamie Donaldson won.
Jimmy Walker 2 and 1 – Jimmy Walker won.
Victor Dubuisson 4 and 3 – Halved.

So my total was 5 matches correct, 4 wrong and 3 a push. Well just over 50 percent is not a bad track record considering the variables for selecting a winner are….well….astronomical. Picking winners in golf does pose great challenges for most golfing pundits and regardless of the results, it is fun to do.

Many people are talking about the strategy employed by the US Team. Additionally, reports about Phil Mickelson and Tom Watson having a disagreement,is making headlines.The only thing I can say is that you win and lose as a team. Finger pointing, or at least the perception of finger pointing, is not productive and as such I have no further comment on that matter.

Through my readings, I have found some great articles I would like to share. They talk about gifs, wrap-ups, and in-depth articles about the Ryder Cup. They are quite interesting and are worth the read.

The Ryder Cup. European Glory at Gleneagles. By Pete Robbins

2014 Ryder Cup GIFs – Part Five. By Adam Sarson

Ryder Cup Day 3 Recap: Europe wins 16.5-11.5 at Gleneagles. theScore.com

Wei Under Par -The Ryder Cup. By Stephanie Wei

The 2014 Ryder Cup is in the books. The media hype, the golfing frenzy, and the tale of David and Goliath is over. The best player from each team was Justin Rose (Europe) and Patrick Reed (US). They approached the game differently, but in their own way showed that competing at this pinnacle event is challenging, rewarding and most of all fun. Because if it isn’t fun, what is the point!

I am a grateful golfer! See you all at Hazeltine in 2016!

Congratulations to the 2014 Ryder Cup Champions – Europe!

 

2014 Ryder Cup – Day 1

rydercup2014-There should be no surprise that the European Ryder Cup team is leading the US Ryder Cup Team by 2 points. After a shaky start, the Europeans rallied and scored 3.5 points in the afternoon session of Day 1. With 8 matches complete, it is time for the pundits to start second guessing the Captains and offer unsolicited advice on how to improve the team’s standing during play on Day 2. I however, do not see the value in second guessing the team Captains, but see the value in being grateful for the great golf on Day 1.

My approach might be a little altruistic, but I would not be ‘The Grateful Golfer’ if I used the US Team Captain, Tom Watson, as a punching bag. I would suggest that his game plan was solid and if not for a couple bounces here and there the score would be tied. Continuing on my positive approach to the play on Day 1, here is what I would like to share:

  • Rickie Fowler’s approach on the 16th hole in the afternoon was the shot of the day!
  • Sergio Garcia’s chip in from the sand in the morning and his stellar play in the afternoon!
  • Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed walked the walk!
  • Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose are looking like the team to beat!
  • The Scottish crowd was awesome! They truly understand the game of golf!

Here are some other fantastic highlights of today’s matches!

The Ryder Cup is a fantastic event. Each team understands the value of never quitting, never giving up, and grinding out a half point that could be the difference between winning and losing. The only prediction I have is that tomorrow’s play will be more of the same! Great moments, more highlights, and fantastic sportsmanship! Each of these professionals is a true gentleman whose desire to win their match is only eclipsed by their desire to win as a team!

I am a grateful golfer! I can hardly wait until tomorrow!

 

2014 Ryder Cup – The Real Story

In a few short hours, the 2014 Ryder Cup will be underway. The golfing world is waiting with much anticipation to see if the European team is as strong as everyone suggests. It is difficult to cut through the minutia to follow the real stories, so I thought I would share the thoughts of a few people I follow:

Who do you think are the real game changers for this year’s Ryder Cup?

Who is the better team Captain – Tom Watson or Paul McGinley?

Looks pretty event to me! What do you think?

Is this an exciting match up or what?

I could go on and on. However, I think you get the point! The 2014 Ryder Cup is about to start and we are ready! All I have left to say about that is:

GO EUROPE GO!

I am a grateful golfer! Time to get in front of the TV!

 

PGA Championship and The Ryder Cup

Ryder Cup ImageThe second round of the PGA Championship is in the books. As expected, Rory McIlroy is leading the field by two. He played very well in the extremely wet conditions and is poised to win his second Major of the year.

Also as predicted, Tiger Woods struggled and missed the cut. Brian Penn at All About Golf talks about the end of an era and provides a great view of what most of us are thinking. It is unfortunate, but I am not entirely sure he will not make another come back.

Tom Watson Ryder CupA more interesting issue regarding the PGA Championship is its importance to USA Ryder Cup Captain, Tom Watson. Playing in this weekend’s Major, he has his eye on all the players who have made the team and those on the bubble. With three Captain’s picks left, players such as Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Keegan Bradley, Brendon Todd and Ryan Moore seem to be the leading candidates. Play at the PGA Championship will have a tremendous impact on his final decision.

Complicating Watson’s life is the turmoil faced by the 2014 USA Ryder Cup Team. Dustin Johnson cannot play due to his personal challenges. He was in 6th place before he announced that he was finished playing professional golf for the rest of 2014. Matt Kuchar and defending PGA Champion, Jason Dufner, have both withdrawn from the PGA Championship because of health issues. Considered leaders on the USA Ryder Cup team, their loss would further stress Tom Watson. If neither are healthy enough to play in the Ryder Cup in September, Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley would make the team….then what?

The players Watson would have to choose from are steady, focused, young and hungry to make their mark in Ryder Cup history. Unfortunately, players like Ryan Moore, Brendan Todd, Harris English, Webb Simpson and Chris Kirk are all considered young journeyman players who are just now starting to play well enough to win. With 12 wins between all 5 players, they are not considered seasoned professionals ready for the pressure of the Ryder Cup matches. Or are they?

Maybe, Captain Watson needs to throw convention out the window and go with some young blood. It is a risk, but considering the Europeans have won 7 out of the last 10 Ryder Cups, a change might be in order! They have played well enough to at least be in the running, it may be time to give them a chance! And Tom Watson, that wily veteran who has slayed the greatest names in golf, might just be crazy enough to lead these young players to victory!

After the PGA Championship, Watson will have some difficult decisions to make. I believe Mickelson is a shoe-in, but the rest….who can say? Regardless, come 23 September at the Gleneagles Resort in Perthshire, Scotland, the underdog USA Ryder Cup team will battle the European Team for golfing supremacy!

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!