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PGA Tour: The Road To Kapalua: Notes from the Ballwasher

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Post by kwinigolfer Tue 06 Jan 2015, 3:33 am

1).Happy New Year, and welcome back to nine solid months of the PGA Tour. Thrills and spills of Tour action, but who'll be thrilling and who'll be spilling?

2).Despite four notable absentees (McIlroy, Rose, Scott and Kaymer), 34 of the 2013/2014 season's Champions tee it up on Friday (FRIDAY! The tournament wraps up on Monday) at Kapalua, on lovely Maui, a pretty good turnout considering that many erstwhile champions have seen fit to give the event a very cold shoulder. Only 30 played last year, and only ten of those will be back for more:
Hyundai Tournament Of Champions winner Zach Johnson, plus Streelman, Horschel, Kuchar, Moore, Kirk, Reed, Bae, Walker and Henley.

A year ago we'd've been expecting at least some of last season's qualifiers such as Mickelson and Woods, McDowell, Simpson, Snedeker and Spieth, Dufner and Dustin, Haas and Harris English, to be back for more, but a year's a long time in golf, as in everything else, and injuries and loss of form take their toll.

3).No Europeans will be playing, and only Geoff Ogilvy joins Zach Johnson as a past Champion. Ogilvy continues to be one of golf's great enigmas, US Open Champion, three-time WGC Champ and twice winner here . . . . but very little else. Bags of talent but seems to go walkabout way too often. Perhaps Billy Horschel is somewhat similar, blowing cold most of last season before getting red hot during the Play Offs. Wouldn't be surprised to see either win this week.

4).The news these past few weeks has been pretty second-rate. Scott hires Mike Kerr as his new caddie, Tiger has a new coach, Mrs Top Five has a seizure in her rubadubdub, Bae might have to enter the South Korean military, Bubba has a new baby, Phil's lost weight (however temporary), Dustin's playing lights out and Rory might have a new woman. Time to crank it up boys, and perhaps this lot will make headlines in 2015:

5).Early fancies for Majors:
Masters: Rory: Wish father to the thought?
US Open: Phil: Well, why not? Hardly anyone else will have seen Chambers Bay - Perhaps we'll see Steven Gerrard win the Cup on his 35th birthday, and Mickelson finally take the US Open during the week of his 45th.
The Open: Stenson exploded out of a rough stretch of form in 2010 to finish fourth. Maybe it's his turn? (But wouldn't be surprised to see Shane Lowry contend.)
PGA: Whistling Straits owes Dustin, and Dustin owes his ability a Major. Both will be overdue when August comes around.

6).First-time winners?
Brooks Koepka! Rookie of the Year if he's eligible.
Tringale and Chris Stroud have been close enough times to take a step forward, Kevin Chappell too if he can get his head sorted out. I'd put Russell Knox as the European most likely to.
Canadians have been more prominent recently and DeLaet and David Hearn have been close. But I like Adam Hadwin who's proven his resilience and kept bulldogging forward these past few years.
Of the college frat boys, Hudson Swafford had a disappointing first year on Tour but rebounded to retrieve his card and will enjoy a strong season, while Justin Thomas will be a popular choice to be this year's Jordan Spieth.
Kevin Kisner may not win, but he'll continue to edge closer, Morgan Hoffmann too.

7).What to make of Mister Woods? GolfWorld has a cover story this week of Tiger and his "Chipping Yips" with plenty of short-game gurus lamenting the set-up seen at his Hero worship Challenge. Difficult to believe for him, but most Major courses demand an expert chipping game and the last thing Tiger needs is problems with another Achilles Heel. If he really struggles, and he'd probably consider a major-less season with one win a struggle, how will he handle that? 39 years old, an old 39, and chipping like Allenby, Clark or Mahan.

8).As Messrs Colsaerts, Hanson, Lynn and Olesen depart the Tour stage, what to make of other European Tour invaders? I can see Donaldson, Dubuisson and Molinari doing well enough to keep their cards, but they'll depend on the WGC's and Majors to do it - if Molinari can't qualify for them, perhaps he'll be chasing the dream a year too late. While Saffer Sterne has got himself off to a horrible start, is bottom-surfing the web.com "reshuffle" category, and his year may be done before it's got started.

9).Keegan Bradley, Els, Webb Simpson and Brendan Steele have all experimented in tournament play with a regulation putting stroke. Mixed success so far, Ernie the most reconciled to conventional stroke. For better or worse.
While Clark, Pettersson, Scott, and even Langer among others have apparently not changed yet. They have just nine months remaining to fill their boots before it's anchors aweigh. It'll be strange to see the PGA Tour and Champions Tour go in to their 2015/2016 season with exempt members who are only exempt courtesy of outlawed play.

10).At least until they reach the Top 50 all-time money winners, as Sergio (9th), Donald (14th), Rose (18th), McIlroy (33rd), Harrington (37th) and Pettersson (42nd) have done, the Europeans' tenure on the PGA Tour is precarious.
One "rookie" European finished his first PGA Tour season a couple of years ago securing his card for the following year and looked forward, "There's nothing that I've seen on the tour this year that makes me think I can't compete on a long-term basis."
Yes, well, an injury took him out in 2013 and he failed to fulfil the demands of his Major Medical Extension. Expect to hear him on the radio this year. Commentating. Who remembers whose Tour epitaph that was??!!

Guys like Freddie Jac, Westwood, Poulter, Casey, Laird - none of whom have any exemption beyond this year - at least have the safety net of "Past Champion" status, plus marketability for sponsors invitations, but Colsaerts and the others never earned that.
And nor have Brian Davis or Gonzo, not to mention Padraig ("I'm Irish. I don't know where I sit. Or maybe I do.") Harrington who eschewed his one-time career earnings exemption for 2015 but will surely need a miracle to stay on Tour without using it for next season.  

Meanwhile, let's sit back and enjoy Kapalua's spectacular setting (maybe JAS has taken a detour?), full of promise for the brand new year of golf.
Boo ya.


Last edited by kwinigolfer on Mon 12 Jan 2015, 2:45 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by ralphjohn69 Tue 06 Jan 2015, 8:57 am

"One "rookie" European finished his first PGA Tour season a couple of years ago securing his card for the following year and looked forward, "There's nothing that I've seen on the tour this year that makes me think I can't compete on a long-term basis."
Yes, well, an injury took him out in 2013 and he failed to fulfil the demands of his Major Medical Extension. Expect to hear him on the radio this year. Commentating. Who remembers whose Tour epitaph that was??!!"

Does his surname make him sound like he should be a member of the god-squad, although he probably isn't?? Cool

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Post by kwinigolfer Tue 06 Jan 2015, 11:03 am

Ah, Yes! But he DID attend a Southern University so one never knows!

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Post by robopz Tue 06 Jan 2015, 2:14 pm

kwinigolfer wrote:
6).First-time winners?
Brooks Koepka! Rookie of the Year if he's eligible.
Great write-up as usual Kwini... but as per Rob Bolton: Koepka was a finalist for Rookie of the Year in 2013-14. Hadley won it, of course. Victor Dubuisson was the third finalist.

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Post by raycastleunited Tue 06 Jan 2015, 2:20 pm

Great stuff Kwini, kicking off 2015 with a great article. And Happy New Year as well!

Kapalua really is one of my favourite tournaments of the year. It certainly ranks as the most spectacular golf course I've ever played, and there's something tantalising about watching golf on a tropical island while curled up on the sofa in cold, dark and wet England.

No Europeans is a shame. I can understand why... it's a hell of a trek from Europe to Hawaii, especially with Abu Dhabi round the corner. But then again, isn't Kaymer based in Arizona?

As for the majors, I think Jordan Speith might step up this year. Would also like to see Rickieee step up, last year he made the transition from tango man brand advert to serious contender.

And Tiger? His short game over his career has been superb, just too good to disappear. Am sure his chipping yips is just a blip, although we can expect that once his excellent short game returns so will his wayward driving. If he stays fit, expect him to do very well at St Andrews.

Oh, and "Hero Worship Challenge", very good indeed Laugh OK

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Post by robopz Tue 06 Jan 2015, 2:23 pm

Interesting note from the PGA Tour on Kuchar: Since missing the cut at the 2010 PLAYERS Championship, Kuchar has made 78 of 81 cuts on the PGA TOUR and has more top-10 finishes than any other player on the PGA TOUR over that period. Since the start of the 2010 season, Kuchar has 48 top-10 finishes.  

Sounds absolutely Jim Furyk-ish to me...

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Post by McLaren Tue 06 Jan 2015, 2:39 pm

Kwini

Didn't Speith win the John Deere?
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Post by kwinigolfer Tue 06 Jan 2015, 2:50 pm

Thanks chaps.

Ray,
Most spectacular I've played too, incredible views even if one's golf game goes awol. Wouldn't want to walk it though!

Mac, Yes he did, fluked a sand shot to tie David Hearn and Zach Johnson, won the play-off. And your point is?

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Post by McLaren Tue 06 Jan 2015, 2:56 pm

I thought you listed him in with those not able to play?
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Post by kwinigolfer Tue 06 Jan 2015, 3:21 pm

Spieth won the JDC in 2013. This tournament is restricted to golfers who won in 2014, so Spieth is ineligible.

robo,
Incredible consistency for Kuchar and must be odds on another top ten this week.
But that would only get him within 103 career top tens of Furyk! And Furyk's next top 25 finish will be his 300th!!

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Post by kwinigolfer Tue 06 Jan 2015, 6:34 pm

Golf Digest in with their latest Top 100 Greatest US Golf Courses.
Top Ten:
Augusta
Pine Valley
Cypress Point
Shinnecock
Merion
Oakmont
Pebble Beach
National Golf Links
Winged Foot
Fishers Island

A New York bias there?

And: I noticed somewhere recently that Merion is undergoing some rework? Can't imagine they'd do that unless they were on a promise from the USGA. Anyone (Shotrock?) know anything about that?

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Post by McLaren Tue 06 Jan 2015, 8:01 pm

My memory must be playing up, I though he won it in 2014. So spieth won no PGA tour events in 2014? That sucks.
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Post by GPB Tue 06 Jan 2015, 8:09 pm

The Tournament of Champions is far my favorite tournament on the PGATour.  Not keen on limited fields.

But the Plantation Course is one of my favorite courses to watch on the PGATour.

I think it would be a blast to play.

Definitely jonesing for some live golf...too bad it doesn't start until Friday.  Surprised that they didn't move it back to Thur-Sun because the Nat'l Championship Football game is this Monday.

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Post by navyblueshorts Tue 06 Jan 2015, 8:44 pm

kwinigolfer wrote:Golf Digest in with their latest Top 100 Greatest US Golf Courses.
Top Ten:
Augusta
Pine Valley
Cypress Point
Shinnecock
Merion
Oakmont
Pebble Beach
National Golf Links
Winged Foot
Fishers Island

A New York bias there?

And: I noticed somewhere recently that Merion is undergoing some rework? Can't imagine they'd do that unless they were on a promise from the USGA. Anyone (Shotrock?) know anything about that?
Seriously? Augusta at the top?? Nah. Good spectacle for TV but not as good a pure course as a number of others in that list; not for me anyway.
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Post by navyblueshorts Tue 06 Jan 2015, 8:45 pm

Great article as usual Kwini. Thanks.
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Post by pedro Tue 06 Jan 2015, 8:58 pm

Cheers kwin! Happy new year. Great write-up.

Agree navy, apart from a few holes, Augusta seems pretty bland.

Looking forward to Whistling Straits. Thought it was a great course last time they played it - and produced a great spectacle as well.

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Post by GPB Tue 06 Jan 2015, 9:30 pm

robopz wrote:Interesting note from the PGA Tour on Kuchar: Since missing the cut at the 2010 PLAYERS Championship, Kuchar has made 78 of 81 cuts on the PGA TOUR and has more top-10 finishes than any other player on the PGA TOUR over that period. Since the start of the 2010 season, Kuchar has 48 top-10 finishes.  

Sounds absolutely Jim Furyk-ish to me...


I bet Kuchar makes the cut this week.

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Post by kwinigolfer Tue 06 Jan 2015, 9:58 pm

Not all cuts are created equal are they??!!

Jay Haas has the career record for "cuts made" with 592, but the guy with most cuts on Tour under the age of 50 has 472 and his name may surprise you! Whilst Davis Love is still plodding along and, at his recent rate, could overhaul Haas in about five or six years - he has 535.

Of those under 50 and still aspiring to be active on Tour, five have passed the 400 mark. Who do you think they are? (All are over 40.)


For European interest, these are the only Euros with 200 cuts or more:
Parnevik: 267 (he turns 50 in March so perhaps that is his lot)
Pettersson: 245
Garcia: 238
Donald: 211
Rose: 200

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Post by GPB Tue 06 Jan 2015, 10:19 pm

Going for low hanging fruit.

Furyk and Phil Mickelson and Els

I would guess that Justin Leonard and David Toms would be there too.

and maybe the Aussies, Appleby and Allenby.

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Post by kwinigolfer Tue 06 Jan 2015, 10:25 pm

Let's tick the boxes:
Furyk: 436
Phil: 424
Leonard: 418



Ernie: 329
Toms: 390
Allenby: 315
Appleby: 344

Good start but work to do to get the two highest!!

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Post by GPB Tue 06 Jan 2015, 10:40 pm

Bob Estes

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Post by kwinigolfer Tue 06 Jan 2015, 10:44 pm

One to go!
Estes has 442, 30 adrift from #1 (named after a mostly salubrious area of London)!!

Estes has one of the more subterranean excellent Tour careers - a top rank journeyman for more than 25 years!


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Post by GPB Tue 06 Jan 2015, 10:48 pm

kwinigolfer wrote:30 adrift from #1 (named after a mostly salubrious area of London)



Fred Funk?   Very Happy

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Post by navyblueshorts Wed 07 Jan 2015, 8:31 am

Billy Mayfair??
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Post by super_realist Wed 07 Jan 2015, 9:33 am

navyblueshorts wrote:Billy Mayfair??

I was thinking Kenny Kensington or Cecil Chelsea myself.

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Post by raycastleunited Wed 07 Jan 2015, 9:59 am

Laugh
Don't you mean Chad Chelsea?

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Post by super_realist Wed 07 Jan 2015, 10:09 am

raycastleunited wrote: Laugh
Don't you mean Chad Chelsea?

Barry Park Lane?

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Post by McLaren Wed 07 Jan 2015, 10:21 am

Regarding point 6) first time winners. What chance does poulter have of winning his first regular PGAT event this year?
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Post by kwinigolfer Wed 07 Jan 2015, 11:25 am

Sorry nbs, Just got up!

Billy Mayfair it is!!

Yup, Much more central than Henley or Langley.
Mayfair: 472
Estes: 442
Furyk: 436
Phil: 424
Leonard: 418

. . . . followed by Toms, Cink and Jerry Kelly.

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Post by NedB-H Wed 07 Jan 2015, 1:48 pm

I have always seen Geoff Ogilvy as a a "meh" kind of golfer, good player and probably a nice bloke but nothing to get excited about for the average fan. But the interview with him on the PGA Tour site at the moment is fantastic.

http://www.pgatour.com/news/2015/01/06/geoff-ogilvy-q-and-a.html

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Post by kwinigolfer Wed 07 Jan 2015, 1:59 pm

Agree Ned, He's a top-class writer as well.

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Post by GPB Wed 07 Jan 2015, 3:53 pm

Ogilvy is very articulate.

But I didn't like the way he mailed it in at the Tour Championship last year.

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Post by kwinigolfer Wed 07 Jan 2015, 5:46 pm

Re: Woods possibly playing in Phoenix.
Not clear from reports published so far if that would be instead of, or as well as, San Diego . . . . . .


The old story about Keegan Bradley not yet having unpacked his suitcase from Medinah is making the rounds again.
Haven't yet see any Q&A as to whether he's unpacked his suitcase from Gleneagles - more likely thrown it out the window.

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Post by GPB Wed 07 Jan 2015, 5:52 pm

If Keegan is ever going to open that Medinah suitcase, it better be outdoors and on a breezy day and he is upwind.

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Post by kwinigolfer Wed 07 Jan 2015, 9:17 pm

So . . . . looking increasingly as if Woods is hoping to rise from the ashes in Phoenix, but still no confirmation that he'll definitely be in San Diego, certainly nothing on his website.

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Post by pedro Wed 07 Jan 2015, 11:16 pm

GPB wrote:If Keegan is ever going to open that Medinah suitcase, it better be outdoors and on a breezy day and he is upwind.
I'll be another Boston Time Capsule -- to be opened in 200 years when they figure out how to play like a team.

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Post by Shotrock Thu 08 Jan 2015, 1:30 pm

Great write up Kwin, per usual. Some very interesting things this year to watch for on the Big Tour:

- How and when the long putters begin to transition?
- Rory the obvious favorite for the Masters, but what will his form be like going in? (Mid year form or errant driver?) 
- Tiger ... boy if anyone is running out of excuses, it's him.
- Also, I'll need to resurrect my bet (with Mysti I think?) regarding the chances of the "chosen" Englishmen winning a major this year: Rose (good as anyone), Donald (will need to see some significant change in form) Westwood (same as Donald).

Kwin - Merion is/has indeed undergone some rework. It's to bring the course back to pre-US Open status, and return some 8 acres of fairways they lost to toughen up the course. If I could only play one course the rest of my life it would probably be Merion.

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Post by kwinigolfer Thu 08 Jan 2015, 2:00 pm

Happy New Year Shotrock,

Does that mean the USGA has told Merion: "Thanks, We had a wonderful test of golf there in 2013 but the course and location are just too confined for repeating such an extravaganza."? Or words to that effect?
Everything I know about Philadelphia says that it deserves a big golf tournament, whether a regular Tour stop, or once-a-decade Major venue. Be a shame if the excitement from Aronomink and Merion is not sustained.

(Of all the courses I've played I think I'd choose Seven Oaks for the one course I had to play for the rest of my life. Just love the challenge and bucolic setting.)

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Post by Shotrock Thu 08 Jan 2015, 2:34 pm

Pretty much Kwin ... although the conversation was likely along the lines of "We think Merion is a wonderful course, but not hard enough for our National Championship, so please lengthen holes where possible, narrow the fairways to ribbon status, and make the rough nearly unplayable."

All of which was done, but made the course simply too difficult for us mortal golfers. Hence the recovery effort!

Aronimink is a natural for a major (both the course and surrounding area plenty sufficient) but the club passed on a regular tour event a few years back.

Love Seven Oaks for all the reasons you mention.

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PGA Tour: The Road To Kapalua: Notes from the Ballwasher Empty Re: PGA Tour: The Road To Kapalua: Notes from the Ballwasher

Post by kwinigolfer Thu 08 Jan 2015, 6:32 pm

Interesting insight on Merion, Thanks.

Lots of discussion about owgr subsidy of non "big Tour" events, but at least it's good to see most of the higher ranked contestants in the SA Open up among the leaders, incl Els & Charl.
And Andy Sullivan - is he going to be good? Really good??

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Post by NedB-H Thu 08 Jan 2015, 7:29 pm

Wonder if Kwini has read Iain Carter's preview of 2015 yet? Eager to see the response to his summary of Peter Dawson's tenure:

"Despite his conservative demeanour, Dawson has been a radical leader with... a tenure of progressive modernisation."

Given his successor is apparently a Mr. Slumbers, is he taking the urine?

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PGA Tour: The Road To Kapalua: Notes from the Ballwasher Empty Re: PGA Tour: The Road To Kapalua: Notes from the Ballwasher

Post by kwinigolfer Thu 08 Jan 2015, 8:02 pm

!!!!
I DID read that Ned; not his best work, but his bar is pretty low!
Carter never provides any insights, does he? Very seldom writes anything one didn't already know, just puts an establishment spin on stuff that Joey Blow in prep school would come up with and makes the headlines bigger.

Dawson's an idiot, sitting in his ivory fiefdom, dragged reluctantly along by the culture of the real world.
Just hope Mr.Slumbers wakes up and sees that Dawson's tenure has seen the R&A slip behind the rest of World golf.

Regardless, a big opportunity for European golf now with Dawson and O'Grady both exiting the stage

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Post by navyblueshorts Fri 09 Jan 2015, 9:51 am

kwinigolfer wrote:!!!!
I DID read that Ned; not his best work, but his bar is pretty low!
Carter never provides any insights, does he? Very seldom writes anything one didn't already know, just puts an establishment spin on stuff that Joey Blow in prep school would come up with and makes the headlines bigger.

Dawson's an idiot, sitting in his ivory fiefdom, dragged reluctantly along by the culture of the real world.
Just hope Mr.Slumbers wakes up and sees that Dawson's tenure has seen the R&A slip behind the rest of World golf.

Regardless, a big opportunity for European golf now with Dawson and O'Grady both exiting the stage
Somewhat suspiciously, his columns often include things that you've posted about in the last few days as well Kwini...
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Post by kwinigolfer Fri 09 Jan 2015, 12:22 pm

Too true, nbs. Iain leads a sheltered life.

In any contest for the pro golfer with the most eccentric career record, Pablo Martin and his three wins has to be right up there.
And he's up with the SA Open leaders after 36 holes, all from his lofty owgr position of #1548. Not bad for some one who annually flunks two Q-Schools and can scarcely make a cut anywhere in the world.

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Post by kwinigolfer Fri 09 Jan 2015, 1:20 pm

Has Els just gone bogey, triple, triple?
Weird scoring today with Jbe Kruger going 66 - 80.
Whatever next!

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Post by beninho Fri 09 Jan 2015, 2:29 pm

Just seen a headline, stating that the R&A may not be renewing with the Beeb for the Open. I know not everyone loves the BBC coverage, but to get 4 full days on free to air TV, can only be good for the game of Golf, I know when i was a kid, my interest was initially raised watching it on Tv, my first memory was Bernhard missing at Kiawah Island in the Ryder Cup, though it took me a few years more to get more into golf.

I would say bad idea if they sell out to Sky.

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Post by kwinigolfer Fri 09 Jan 2015, 3:09 pm

Just about everyone sells out to the highest bidder in the end, sad but true.
I reckon The Masters has it about right - a very narrow range of advertisers with just four (I think) one-minute commercial breaks every hour. Trouble is, CBS promotion material seems to fall outside the guidelines.
But there must be a model that can work for everyone without having the quality being eroded by commercial greed. Mustn't there?

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Post by kwinigolfer Fri 09 Jan 2015, 3:26 pm

Seems Woods is committing to Phoenix AND San Diego.

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Post by incontinentia Fri 09 Jan 2015, 3:41 pm

beninho wrote:Just seen a headline, stating that the R&A may not be renewing with the Beeb for the Open. I know not everyone loves the BBC coverage, but to get 4 full days on free to air TV, can only be good for the game of Golf, I know when i was a kid, my interest was initially raised watching it on Tv, my first memory was Bernhard missing at Kiawah Island in the Ryder Cup, though it took me a few years more to get more into golf.

I would say bad idea if they sell out to Sky.
Hope that doesn't happen, the BBC coverage is very good as well as being free and available in HD and having much less ads than sky.
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Post by GPB Fri 09 Jan 2015, 3:43 pm

kwinigolfer wrote:Trouble is, CBS promotion material seems to fall outside the guidelines.

Thankfully, the PKKMSVC has Masters week off.

Yep, Tiger playing WMO and Farmers.  Will he earn enough OWGR points to qualify for the Cadillac.  He needs at least 20, probably 23 points.  One solo third or Two Top 6 finishes should be enough.


Spoiler:

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