Thursday, April 29

2010 Quail Hollow Championship TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2010 QUAIL HOLLOW CHAMPIONSHIP is underway at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina. Bo Van Pelt is the current leader at 7 under.

Purse: $6.4 million
Winner’s share: $1.152 million
Defending champion: Sean O’Hair

Inside the field
Inside the course
Tee times
Tournament overview
Full tournament news
Quail Hollow Championship Web site

2010 Quail Hollow Championship Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

Twelve hours of TV coverage are on tap for the 2010 Quail Hollow Championship.

Thu, 4/29:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Fri, 4/30:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Sat, 5/1:
CBS 3p - 6p ET

Sun, 5/2:
CBS 3p - 6p ET

PGA Tour radio coverage

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, April 28

Krispy Kreme: Breakfast of Masters Champions





















I WALK BY THE Krispy Kreme doughnuts. They’re at my local Food Lion on a display in the center of the dairy aisle. I see them, I want them, I pass them. Back in my corporate days, we used to call them fat pills. I can’t eat doughnuts now, not if I want to maintain my figure and cholesterol. (I had a glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut last Saturday.)

Today Phil Mickelson mentioned his post-Masters Krispy Kreme doughnut run. Apparently he did it for the kids, being the doting family man and all. I would do the same thing. Because I also love my kids.

“The three-time Masters champion says he doesn’t eat a lot of carbohydrates or sugars during the tournament,” reported the AP, “which was only a problem because his kids wanted doughnuts. So he made a deal that he would take them to Krispy Kreme on Monday after the Masters.”

And about that green sport coat he was wearing in the drive-thru?

“It was a little chilly, so I threw on a jacket,” Phil said.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Daniel Y. Go/Flickr)

Tuesday, April 27

Stuff I Dug Up on Jason Bohn

I DIDN’T WATCH THE Zurich Classic. I did read about it online and checked the scores, but I never flipped on CBS. (I could tell you more about the Lakers-Thunder series.) Still, like other golf fans, I wonder about the Jason Bohns of the PGA Tour. When they shoot 18 under and win a Valero Texas Open or a Zurich Classic, I ask the same basic question: Who is this guy?

Of course, I’ve heard of Jason Bohn (this wasn’t his first PGA Tour win—he won the 2005 B.C. Open). I’ve seen Bohn’s name on leaderboards and noticed the “Bohn Identity” wordplays on golf sites. (Hey, Mat Damon. Want to play another golfer?) But I honestly couldn’t tell you three things about Bohn. Until now, of course. Please follow along because I spent at least 10 minutes looking up this stuff.

Bohn just turned 37 and worked his way through the minors to get to the PGA Tour. He won twice on the Canadian Tour and once on the Nationwide Tour at the Chattanooga Classic. Here’s something that caught my attention. Bohn won the Canadian Tour’s 2001 Bayer Championship by shooting a 58 in the final round. Double wow. In 2008, he finished third at the Wachovia Championship (bodes well for this week). Last year Bohn was in a three-way playoff at the Wyndham Championship won by Ryan Moore.

Jason (I think we’re on a first-name basis now) lives in Georgia and his special interests are music and camping. He attended the University of Alabama where he majored in finance. His wife’s name is Tewana and they have two boys, Connor and Cameron. Now that I know him so well, I’m going to say it: I think Jason will win again on tour. And if he and Tewana have another child, I’m going with Cherylin if it’s a girl and Carter if it’s a boy.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Keith Allison/Flickr)

Monday, April 26

9 Things Lorena Ochoa Will Miss About Tournament Golf

IN HER FRIDAY PRESS conference on the topic of her retirement, Lorena Ochoa was asked what she would miss the most about tournament golf. I’ve turned her answer into a list:

1. The whole package.
2. Good times and bad times. (“I think I have no bad memories.”)
3. My friends, the players.
4. Seeing them [the players] at the golf course.
5. Watching them hit balls at the range.
6. Everything all set up (the bleachers, perfect greens).
7. Practicing on a Monday or Tuesday when the course is quiet in the afternoon.
8. So many things.
9. My suitcase.

From reading the transcript, though, Lorena left zero doubt that she is entirely comfortable with leaving the game in her prime as the world No. 1 female golfer.

“I always say when you’re a professional athlete, there is a day when you start, and there’s always going to be a day when you finish,” Lorena said, “and this is the perfect time for me. I’m very relaxed in a way, that this has gone the way I want it to with my beliefs and my reasons.”

Lorena’s happy day is a sad day for golf and golf fans. Brian Hewitt at Global Golf Post wrote, “She was ours to enjoy, as a competitor and a person, during her eight years on the biggest stage in women’s golf. Now her family and friends are getting her back.” Here’s the digital magazine’s “Adios” cover of Lorena with teary eyes.

Forgive my sentimentality and pass the Kleenex. I’ll get through this … I hope.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Keith Allison/Flickr)

Saturday, April 24

Final Report on My Puerto Rico Golf Trip


Eileen Earley (Ogilvy), Chi Chi Rodriguez and yours truly at a reception
at the Gran Melia Golf Resort (photo courtesy of Rob Hayashida)


IT HAS BEEN ABOUT a month since I traveled to Puerto Rico for the Puerto Rico Open as a member of a press tour hosted by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company. Golf travel and destinations are not my normal beat, but I was grateful for the opportunity to slip away for a PGA Tour event in the Caribbean, especially after such a long stretch of cold, snow and ice in the Mid Atlantic. As a huge bonus, my wife came along while our two school-age daughters stayed with friends, a rare weeklong getaway.

We stayed at the Gran Melia Golf Resort Puerto Rico in Rio Grande, which is just a John Daly 5-iron from the Trump International Golf Club where the tournament was played. I read some reviews on Trip Advisor before we left and was a bit concerned due to comments about the service and food. However, I thought the service was consistently good and at times excellent. For the most part, the staff was genuinely friendly. There are five restaurants on the property, a combination of cuisine options in casual or more formal settings. My favorite was Pasion−I dined there two nights in a row. I tried mofongo, a native dish featuring mashed plantains, and ordered the fresh grouper on my second visit. I also consumed massive quantities of decadent chocolate desserts on both evenings. Life was good. And very fattening.

The property has nearly 500 suites and a handful of villas, including the presidential villa where I believe The Donald was staying (he was on hand for tournament festivities), although it was hush-hush with the resort staff. The suites are spread out and connected by a large loop of sidewalks. Unless you really enjoy walking (I did), getting around is by golf cart. (The staff is always driving the loop and eager to pick up people as they drift out of their suites.) Our suite was large and comfortable. My only problem in the room was wireless reception, which was spotty.

The resort is on the ocean and has a beach area that I was told will be overhauled with new sand. We didn’t swim in the gigantic lagoon-style pool because the water was a little chilly. I liked seeing the iguanas everywhere. They seem to be as common on the island as squirrels are in the States. Some are larger than cats. Really. Other resort amenities include a casino, small store, bars and live entertainment.

Tours and Stuff

While I did my golf thing, which included press conferences, presentations, the tournament and various tours of local golf courses such as Rio Mar, my wife took tours to Old San Juan and the nearby El Yunque rainforest. My one regret was not getting to Old San Juan. Maybe next time.

Don’t leave San Juan on a Sunday unless you have no other choice. Apparently, all the cruise ships return and tourists flood the airport to fly home. I’ve never seen a more crowded airport in my life. It was overwhelming, and some of my fellow stand-in-liners were not dealing well with travel adversity. But my wife and I made are flights.

I also should mention that I enjoyed the company of Eileen Earley (Ogilvy), Marta (Puerto Rico tourism rep), Rob Hayashida (Sandbox8), Stacy and Barry Solomon (Golf for Beginners), Steve Ellis (The Golfer), Art Stricklin (Sports Illustrated) and Tony Korologos (The Golf Space and Hooked on Golf Blog).

It was my first trip to Puerto Rico and I’d definitely go back. Maybe I’ll be there next year for the 2011 Puerto Rico Open.

−The Armchair Golfer

Read more about my Puerto Rico trip:
Gusty Breezes and Missed Putts at the Puerto Rico Open
Skip Kendall Is the Early Leader in Puerto Rico
How to Blow Dry Trump International with a Helicopter
It’s Raining Cats, Dogs and Iguanas at the Puerto Rico Open
Opening Media Conference and More Chi Chi Rodriguez
Chi Chi Rodriguez: Puerto Rico’s Golf Ambassador

Friday, April 23

Puetz Golf Range & Pro Shop































I USED TO HIT balls here. Mats. Crowded on weekends. About a 15-minute drive from the house. Now it’s 2,800 miles away. George Puetz was good enough to qualify for and play in the 1955 U.S. Open. I imagine Puetz also played in other events. His family owned the range and store. That’s all I know.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Curtis Perry/Flickr)

Thursday, April 22

2010 Zurich Classic TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2010 ZURICH CLASSIC is underway at TPC Louisiana in Avondale, Louisiana. Jason Bohn is the current leader at 7 under.

Purse: $6.2 million
Winner’s share: $1.116 million
Defending champion: Jerry Kelly

Inside the field
Inside the course
Tee times
Interviews
Tournament overview
Full tournament news
Zurich Classic Web site

2010 Zurich Classic Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

Twelve hours of TV coverage are on tap for the 2010 Zurich Classic.

Thu, 4/22:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Fri, 4/23:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Sat, 4/24:
CBS 3p - 6p ET

Sun, 4/25:
CBS 3p - 6p ET

PGA Tour radio coverage

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, April 21

Welcome Back, Ken Green



Images: Keith Allison is in Savannah and snapped several photos of Ken Green during practice on Wednesday.

KEN GREEN HAS BEEN RESOLUTE about returning to golf. This will be the week. On Friday Green will be the first amputee to compete in a Champions Tour event when he tees it up at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf in Savannah, Georgia.

The man has been through hell. Last June a right-front tire on Green’s RV blew out on a Mississippi interstate highway. Green and passengers tumbled down an embankment and struck a large oak tree, killing everyone except Green—his brother, his girl friend and his dog, a German Shepard that Green once rescued from an alligator attack in Florida. Not long after the former PGA Tour player lost his right leg below the knee and was fitted with a prosthetic limb. Green vowed that he would return to golf one day.

Then tragedy struck again in January when Green’s 21-year-old son was found dead in a dorm room at Southern Methodist University. An autopsy later revealed that a combination of alcohol and prescription drugs was the cause of death.

“It’s been a journey,” Ken said today at PGATour.com. “Sometimes that’s what the Big Guy does. I can honestly tell you without the faith that I have now, I don’t know if I could have handled everything that’s come my way.”

Green, who will team with Mike Reid, added he will feel “absolutely petrified” about hitting that first tee shot. Who knows where it will go or how he’ll play. He’ll care because he’s still a pro and he still remembers how to play even if his body, minus one good leg, has forgotten. But others will just be glad to see him out there. Ken Green is back.

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, April 20

Reaction to Lorena Ochoa Retirement



LORENA OCHOA IS RETIRING from golf. The world No. 1 women’s player who snatched the top spot from Annika Sorenstam in 2007 and has held it for 157 weeks is just 28. Lorena has 27 LPGA Tour wins, including two majors. A press conference is scheduled for Friday during which Ochoa is expected to explain her reasons in more detail, which apparently center around her recent marriage and new family life.

Reaction

Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam (via her blog): “I must admit that I was surprised, but not shocked, when I heard the news yesterday that Lorena is going to retire. She has always said she would play for maybe 10 years and then leave the game to start a family. She just got married and obviously feels that she is ready for that next chapter in her life.”

Hall of Famer and TV analyst Judy Rankin (via AP): “I’m just crushed. We won’t get to see her play golf. Mostly, we won’t get to see her.”

Hall of Famer Amy Alcott (via LA Times and Golf.com): “To lose one of its great stars and great entertainers, that’s difficult. She’s been a great role model for young girls, and that’s what I admire the most about Lorena.”

Me: “Sniffle, sniffle, sniffle.”

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Pablo Lancaster-Jones/Flickr)

Monday, April 19

Furyk Wins Plaid, Davis Wins Praise

2010 Verizon Heritage Recap
Winner: Jim Furyk
Score: 13 under, 271 (67, 68, 67, 69)
Quote: “I think my confidence level is obviously very high.”
Fact: Ranks 4th all time in career PGA Tour earnings.
Thought: Are the recent and soon-to-be 40-year-olds (Els, Mickelson, Furyk) taking over?

I SPENT PART OF SUNDAY afternoon (and evening since I watched the replay on Golf Channel because I didn’t see the last few holes) wondering about two things: 1) Is Jim Furyk going to win again so soon? 2) Who the heck is Brian Davis?

Let’s start with the latter. After the CBS crew explained that Davis had finished second on the PGA Tour three times, I felt as if I should know something about the Englishman. But it didn’t rattle anything loose in my brain. Turns out he finished 43rd on the PGA Tour money list in 2009 and has won twice on the European Tour. Maybe I should have noticed. It’s a reminder that there are a bunch of Brian Davises, top 100 players who are good enough to win on tour at any moment. One good week can change everything.

Furyk is a prime example. He ended a three-year win drought a month ago at the Transitions Championship, and now he has another. Home of the Verizon Heritage, Harbour Town Golf Links is old-school golf, not a long track by any means (under 7,000 yards, actually) but narrow, breezy, sandy and watery, perfect for the boring, down-the-middle, short-knocking style of golf Furyk plays. I’m impressed, not just because Furyk won again so soon but because he did it the week after missing the cut at the Masters with ugly rounds of 80 and 76. Talk about shaking it off. Just throw the clubs in the trunk and head to the next event. Tomorrow is always a new day. Furyk demonstrated perhaps the most important attribute in golf: a short memory.

Getting back to Davis, we now know something else about him. He called a penalty on himself on the first playoff hole, certainly a laudable thing to do. Davis suspected a loose impediment moved in the hazard on his back swing and immediately called over the PGA Tour’s Slugger White after the ball came to a stop on the far side of the green. When the situation was finally sorted out, Davis was assessed a two-stroke penalty and Furyk was the new owner of a plaid sport coat.

The self-called penalty seems to be the bigger story in the tournament’s aftermath, and I get that, sort of, since it came at such a highly visible, climactic moment. But wasn’t Davis just doing what most golfers would do under the circumstances? I hope so. And do there really need to be so many lofty commentaries about the integrity and honor of golf? We know this.

I like the quote I saw at ESPN Golf about Bobby Jones, who called a penalty on himself during a playoff in the 1925 U.S. Amateur. When he was praised afterwards, Jones said, “You may as well praise a man for not robbing a bank.”

So I say well played and well called, Brian Davis. And I say the same to you if you’ve ever called a penalty on yourself on the golf course, even if it didn’t cost you the club championship.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Keith Allison/Flickr)

Friday, April 16

Colin Montgomerie and the Birds



























Bird #1: Isn’t that Colin Montgomerie?

Bird #4: Colin who?

Bird #2: Colin Montgomerie, you Dodo!

Bird #4: Hey, watch it.

Bird #3: That’s him.

Bird #1: Remember when Monty said the belly putter ought to be outlawed?

Bird #2: Oh, yeah. Now he’d putt with a rake if it helped him make more putts.

Bird #4: So would I.

Bird #2: Please.

Bird #3: What’s he waiting for?

Bird #1: The Ryder Cup. And to turn 50, I think.

Bird #4: Can we go follow Ernie now?

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: camflan/Flickr)

Thursday, April 15

2010 Verizon Heritage TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2010 VERIZON HERITAGE is underway at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. K.J. Choi is the first-round leader at 7 under.

Purse: $5.7 million
Winner’s share: $1.026 million
Defending champion: Brian Gay

Inside the field
Inside the course
Tee times
Tournament overview
Full tournament news

2010 Verizon Heritage Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

Twelve hours of TV coverage are on tap for the 2010 Verizon Heritage.

Thu, 4/15:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Fri, 4/16:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Sat, 4/17:
CBS 3p - 6p ET

Sun, 4/18:
CBS 3p - 6p ET

PGA Tour radio coverage

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, April 14

Seve Ballesteros Backs Spain’s Bid for 2018 Ryder Cup

SEVE BALLESTEROS PLAYED ON eight European Ryder Cup teams and was captain of another squad in 1997. Even though I rooted against him (national allegiance), there’s zero doubt that he was a spectacular match-play competitor, amassing a Ryder Cup record of 20-12-5. Only three European players have won more Ryder Cup points: Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie.

(Photo: Seve Ballesteros, center, with nicely dressed people associated with Spain’s Ryder Cup bid.)

Now as Spain’s official bid patron, Ballesteros is once again exerting his influence in the Ryder Cup arena. His homeland hopes to lure the prestigious event to Madrid for the 2018 matches.

“Being a part of this bid is a huge honor for me,” Seve said at a March launch event in Madrid. “I believe Madrid is more than able to organize this magnificent event. I have great memories of the 1997 Ryder Cup in Valderrama and I hope we all see this great competition in Spain in 2018.”

At the event, Ballesteros also unveiled the official Ryder Cup Madrid 2018 logo, which depicts the sport of golf combined with the colors of the Community of Madrid. The campaign tagline is “Todos Juntos, All Together.”

In addition to Spain, other candidates for hosting the 2018 Ryder Cup are France, Germany, Holland, Portugal and Sweden.

Ryder Cup Notes

• In terms of turnover (events that change venues), the Ryder Cup is the world’s third-largest sporting event behind the World Cup and Olympics.

• The Ryder Cup is the largest international golf tournament.

• The 2018 matches will be the 42nd event in more than eight decades of competition.

• The 2006 Ryder Cup pumped 240 million euros into the Irish economy.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Brought to you by YourGolfTravel.com and ARMCHAIR GOLF STORE.)

Tuesday, April 13

‘Golf Girl’s Little Tartan Book’ by Patricia Hannigan

WHEN I HEAR GOLF GIRL, I think of Patricia Hannigan who has been blogging under that moniker since the beginning of blog time. Well, almost. I’ve been at this a while myself, but Patricia had already hit her stride when I was just starting out. She is smart, fun, savvy, opinionated, enthusiastic and abundantly stylish. Patricia also has a refreshing sensibility about the game of golf—and ways to experience it.

If you’ve made the rounds in the golf blogosphere, you’ve surely run across her popular blog, Golf Girl’s Diary, but I’m writing to mention her new book, Golf Girl’s Little Tartan Book: How to Be True to Your Sex and Get the Most from Your Game, published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang and now available at major bookstores. I haven’t read it, nor do I own a copy (yet), but if you like Patricia’s blog I’m pretty certain you’ll enjoy this attractive little hardcover (under $14 at Amazon).

“It’s basically about attitude and empowerment,” Patricia commented at One-Eyed Golfer, a blog by Vince Spence, “and largely directed at the demographic that represents the biggest untapped market for the golf industry: the women (all ages) who are intrigued but intimidated by the game, who’ve thought about playing but decided they might not be welcome, or who’ve played a bit and encountered resistance.”

Ladies, check it out. Men, tell the ladies (or, ahem, gift idea), but if you run across a copy it wouldn’t be a bad idea to pick it up. It’s always smart to collect some good information on that demographic.

−The Armchair Golfer

Monday, April 12

13 Things We Still Know After the Masters


The shot.

1. Augusta National produces the most excitement in golf. The risk-reward holes and resulting roars keep people tuning in to the Masters year after year to see who will win the Green Jacket. Often it’s in doubt until the 72nd hole.

2. Phil is going for it.
That shot (above) off the pine straw through the trees over the water on 13? A Phil special. Bones was against it. Butch was against it. Millions of fans were probably trying to talk some sense to Phil through their TVs. “Lay up, Phil. Just lay up.” Phil’s NOT laying up. The 207-yard 6-iron was a gutsy and brilliant play that turned things in his favor.

3. Tiger will contend no matter what.
Five months off, bailing-wire swing, Buddha bracelet—it does not matter. Tiger will find a way to be in contention, especially at Augusta. No one scores better on an off day than Tiger.

4. Lee Westwood is ready to win his first major. Unfortunately, for Lee, still ready.

5. Jack has more Green Jackets. Arnie has more fans.
The dynamic duo of ceremonial starters, Arnie is still the beloved. Jack is the respected one. During the eight years from 1958 to 1966, Arnie and Jack won six Masters.

6. Some old-guy champion is going to climb onto the leaderboard. Tom Watson and Fred Couples, for example. Before them, Ben Crenshaw and Jack Nicklaus.

7. Billy Payne and Masters brass will say and do what they want. Leave it to Payne to make harsh comments about Tiger that others have thought but been reluctant to say. Don’t like it? Too bad. The Masters men speak their minds and run their club and golf tournament as they see fit.

8. The patrons will behave themselves. Or they will have their passes rescinded. Don’t even think about heckling Tiger or another player. You are in “church.”

9. CBS will use Masters vocabulary and reverent tones. At times their Masters-restrained commentary will sound just plain goofy.

10. Bobby Jones will be quoted ad nauseam. Bobby Jones this. Bobby Jones that. The five-and-a-half inch course quote will appear everywhere. I’ll be guilty of it.

11. Augusta is the Fountain of Youth for Fred Couples. Freddie will make the cut (he almost always does) and shoot a good score or two. He might even trick you, me and most of the golf world into thinking he can win it again.

12. Tiger is not a gracious loser. If he fails to win, he will not dress up and put lipstick on his bitter disappointment. He hates it, pure and simple. He will not smile. He will not congratulate the winner. It’s not in his DNA—or part of his therapy.

13. John Daly will be at the Masters.
Outside the gates on Washington Road.

−The Armchair Golfer

Sunday, April 11

The Roars of Augusta




























THE MASTERS IS THE only major championship played at the same golf course every year. The tournament founded by Robert Tyre Jones Jr. has been on the calendar every year since 1934, except for a three-year interruption during World War II. The world’s greatest golfers have competed in Bob Jones’ invitational, and since 1949 they have dreamt of slipping into the Green Jacket.

There’s something to be said for Masters tradition, even with its many odd expressions, styles and hues. Tradition can be an easy target and fun to chide, but in the end most people who call themselves golf fans love Masters tradition.

Why? Why do so many watch this tournament and dream of a golf pilgrimage to Augusta National Golf Club?

For its beauty and pageantry, sure, like the Kentucky Derby, the “Run for the Roses.” But I think it’s mostly because Augusta National is the game’s ultimate echo chamber. No golf course or tournament produces more anticipation, more excitement and more roars than Augusta National and the Masters.

Golf fans know the course. We know where there will be birdies and maybe eagles, and where there can be bogeys or worse. We know each of the final nine holes from years of watching the waning hours and deciding shots of the championship. We know where the pin placements will be on Sunday. We even know how many of the putts will break.

Most of all, we know there will be roars—birdie roars and eagle roars, Saturday roars and Sunday roars. Who will produce the roars on this final day of the Masters? Who will don the Green Jacket?

Today is a day to be thankful for tradition.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: gomattolson/Flickr)

Friday, April 9

Of Poulter, Pin Placements and Pairings

WHAT LOOKS GOOD WITH a Green Jacket? That’s a question that was posed to Ian Poulter after he finished his second round at the Masters. “Anything,” he said. Poulter shot 68 and is tied for the 36-hole lead at 8 under with fellow countryman Lee Westwood who had a 69.

Poulter could do it. So could Westwood. But even though they’re battle tested and formidable Ryder Cuppers, neither of the Brits has won a major, much less a Green Jacket. There’s nothing they would like more. They’re halfway home, but the tougher half starts on Saturday and the owners of six Green Jackets—Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson—are in close pursuit. Woods is apparently rust-proof and Phil hearts Augusta.

The group of five golfers two strokes behind Poulter and Westwood at 6 under are: K.J. Choi (71), Woods (70), Anthony Kim (70), Ricky Barnes (70) and Mickelson (71). Y.E. Yang (72) is at 5 under. First-round leader Fred Couples and Tom Watson, who both struggled on Friday, are five off the lead at 3 under.

The weekend weather is supposed to be lovely, so the men who pull the levers at the Masters and Augusta National will have maximum control of the course setup. The course will play more difficult on Saturday—firmer and faster with harder-to-get-to pin placements. The greens will be slicker and not hold as well. It should make for a typical Masters moving day. There will be few scores in the 60s. (There were only three scores in the 60s today. Poulter’s 68 was Friday’s best.)

When Phil nearly slam dunked his long birdie putt on the 18th green, CBS’s Jim Nantz mentioned that Phil would have been paired with Tiger had the putt dropped. I think it works out better for Tiger. He doesn’t need fan-favorite Phil as a distraction, although it would have been great for fan interest and TV ratings. Instead, Tiger will make his third consecutive trip around Augusta with Choi, which strikes me as a comfortable pairing for both golfers. The Poulter-Westwood pairing is also fortuitous. The two are friends and that’s bound to help as the pressure builds. I expect one or both of the Englishmen to still be at or near the top of the leaderboard on Saturday night.

Whether or not you picked someone to win before the tournament started, who do you like now?

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: John Trainor/Flickr)

Thursday, April 8

Between Champions Tour Events, Couples Leads Invitational Called The Masters

I JUST WATCHED FRED Couples shoot his best round at Augusta National Golf Club, a six-under par 66. Couples is leading a small-field invitational tournament known as the Masters at the age of 50. You know what? If Fred keeps playing the way he’s playing, if he keeps his back loose and swing fluid, if he can manage to putt decently, he can be as good as Tom Watson when he turns 60.

I know, I know. That’s a high standard—and 10 years is a long time—but it’s at least possible, something to strive for.

It’s no coincidence that super 60-year-old Watson was at the top of the Masters leaderboard with a 67 until that sockless, sneaker-wearing Couples came along and birdied four of the last seven holes. That’s the kind of hyper-competitive golf they play on the Champions Tour. And, I’m telling you, this Couples kid is a real up-and-comer.

After Watson won the first two Champions Tour events of the season, the first one teaming with Jack Nicklaus, Couples won three of the next four. Couples and Watson are taking a break from the Champions circuit this week. And the Masters, a quaint little tournament where the spectators are called “patrons” and they give the winner a green sport coat (comes with a free wooden hanger and year-round storage), seems to be the perfect event for the boys to keep their games sharp until they tee it up in Savannah and Biloxi.

Actually, the small field has some name players. Besides Couples and Watson, others playing in the event include Sandy Lyle, Bernhard Langer, Mark O’Meara, Larry Mize, Ben Crenshaw, Craig Stadler and Ian Woosnam. There are also a bunch of really, really young kids (under 50 and some even under 40 and 30) and a few amateurs as well. Again, it’s an invitational and they do everything a certain way, but no one seems to mind too much.

Couples, Watson, Langer, Lyle and the others are enjoying the scenery (it’s a former nursery and everything is blooming), keeping their games tuned up and, well, just staying in the moment. They’ll try not to look too far ahead. The Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic and Regions Charity Classic will have to wait. These men are professionals, after all.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Keith Allison/Flickr)

Wednesday, April 7

2010 Masters TV Schedule and Tournament Notes































HELLO, FRIENDS, AND WELCOME to the 2010 Masters. This is Jim Nan ... er, sorry. I guess I got carried away. It’s Masters week, golf fans! Magnolia Lane, azaleas, Amen Corner, pimento cheese sandwiches and Chuck Norris-style security.

MASTERS NEED TO KNOW

Purse: A lot
Winner’s share: A bundle, but they’re really playing for the Green Jacket
Defending champion: Angel Cabrera

Inside the field
Inside Augusta National
Augusta National aerial map
Tee times
2010 Masters statistics
Past Masters winners
Tournament news
Masters TV
Masters video
Photo gallery

2010 Masters Leaderboard

ARMCHAIR GOLF Masters Vault

Assorted past stories and content from yours truly.

Errie Ball: Last Man Standing from First Masters
Q&A: Walker Inman Jr.: First Augusta Native to Play in Masters
Masters Food: A Tradition Unlike Any Other
Q&A: SI’s Jim Gorant on the Masters
Tiger Woods Will Still Win the Grand Slam This Year
Trevor Immelman’s Idol

TV SCHEDULE

Between Golf Channel, ESPN and CBS, roughly a gazillion hours of TV coverage are set for the 2010 Masters. Just make sure your TV is on and you’re bound to catch it. (Without many commercials on the weekend, I might add.)

Thu, 4/8
ESPN 4 - 7:30 PM ET / 8 - 11 PM ET

Fri, 4/9
ESPN 4 - 7:30 PM ET / 8 - 11 PM ET

Sat, 4/10
CBS 3:30 - 7 PM ET

Sun, 4/11
CBS 2 - 7 PM ET

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Keith Allison/Flickr)

Tuesday, April 6

Els on Masters Readiness: ‘Whole Package Is There’

ANYONE ELSE READY TO fit Ernie Els for a Green Jacket? He’s a popular pick this week after two impressive wins in Florida. When I first heard that Ernie had made a caddie change (from Ricci Roberts to Dan Quinn), I thought it was an April Fools’ joke. Then I learned more and it made sense.

I asked PGA Tour caddie Mark Huber what he thought about the change. “These guys have been off again on again throughout Ernie’s career,” Mark said in an email. “This was an arrangement agreed upon before the year and if I know Ricci he’s more than satisfied with the schedule. Augusta is the toughest walking major course and he would probably want to work Pebble and St. Andrews instead. Ricci will probably be at Augusta, but enjoying the nightlife instead of trudging the fairways.”

Ernie said in his weekly diary that Ricci and Dan are happy about it and so is he. “I've been to Augusta so many times that I don’t think anybody can tell me anything more about this golf course than I already know.”

The Big Easy also said he rolled down Magnolia Lane with more confidence and game.

“I honestly can’t wait to tee it up. This year I’m going in with a fair bit more confidence and momentum than I have had for a while. You know, I think the whole package is there. My mindset is a lot better. I’m hitting the ball well and the key thing is my short game and putting are both a lot sharper than they have been for a couple of years. Obviously that is the key ingredient to success at Augusta. You’ve got to chip and putt really well to compete here. I’m looking forward to it.”

This will be Ernie’s 17th start at the Masters, and there have been many Aprils that I thought he might break through. But he never has. It’s unfortunate, because I’ve always thought his game was tailor made for the place. Did you know Ernie hasn’t made a cut at Augusta since 2006?

Maybe this will be his year. Fingers crossed.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: scotchollie/Flickr)

Monday, April 5

Yani Tseng Smiles Her Way to Second Major

2010 Kraft Nabisco Championship Recap
Winner: Yani Tseng
Score: 13 under, 275 (69, 71, 67, 68)
Quote: “Stay focused. That’s what I wanted to do, and keep smiling.”
Fact: Favorite club is 8-iron.
Thought: Has tool set to be a dominant player.

ALL PLAYERS LOOK GOOD when they’re winning a golf tournament, because they’re obviously playing well during that particular week. The golf ball is generally going where the players want it to, and a considerable number of putts are usually falling into the cup. That was certainly the case for Yani Tseng at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the year’s first major on the LPGA Tour. Tseng fired 135 on the weekend to nip Suzann Pettersen by a shot. It’s the third win and second major title for the 21-year-old Taiwanese player. In her rookie season she won the 2008 LPGA Championship in a playoff with Maria Hjorth.

Tseng, however, strikes many onlookers as more than a good player who can put together an occasional win. She has talent galore and a bag full of shots. With experience and the right mental approach, she could win a lot more LPGA tournaments and several majors before she’s through. Evidently, she recently had a lengthy chat with a Hall of Famer that was quite helpful.

“I really want to thank Annika Sorenstam,” Yani said Sunday after taking the winner’s traditional jump into the pond beside the 18th green, “because she came to my house and we sit down and talk about two hours, and she helped me a lot about my game, about the mentals, and she told me go step by step.”

With the major victory, Tseng moved up to second in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. Jiyai Shin dropped to third. Lorena Ochoa has held the top spot for 155 consecutive weeks, but with the likes of Tseng, Shin and others elevating their games, I wonder how long it will be before Ochoa is knocked off her pedestal.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, April 3

Tom on Tour: Monty Gives Away Same Golf Ball Twice

The media fly. Tom drives. The media sleep in hotels. Tom sleeps in his car. The media sit in the media center. Tom walks the course. It’s the PGA Tour, seen and written differently. Following is an excerpt from Tom’s e-book on the 2010 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

By Tom Collins
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


AFTER COLIN MONTGOMERIE, AKA “Monty,” tapped in for his bogey, we were all treated to a nice long wait on the 12th tee. I have no idea why—perhaps all of the players were trying to hit the par-5 in two. The group in front of us hadn’t even teed off yet. Monty walked over to a volunteer and asked if he could sit down in one of their chairs. When he sat down—after making a painful sound—he let out a deep sigh.

“You know, I always wanted to be a marshal.”

The volunteer with the “Quiet” sign just looked at him, as if to say, “Yeah right.”

But Monty sounded nostalgic, like that really was his lifelong wish. A ball fell out of Monty’s pocket, which prompted the young guy next to me to spring into action.

“Monty, you lost a ball.”

“No I didn’t, I just made a bogey.”

“No…out of your pocket.”

“Oh, so I have. Here you are.”

Monty tossed the guy the ball, and then continued to stare at the pond.

I looked over the man’s shoulder, and saw that Monty was playing Pro V1x’s. Perhaps he wasn’t playing Balata balls along with a lot of the other players because he wasn’t exactly the longest on tour. Another man next to us with a beer in his hand—who must’ve been a friend—started chuckling.

“Well, you just got a ball from Colin Montgomerie. Now you can check that off your bucket list. That ball can go right alongside your hole-in-one ball at home.”

“Actually, I don’t even want it. Do you think it would be rude of me to throw this in the water?”

Now I know Monty’s gotten some bad press over the years, but a ball from a player is a ball from a player. I jumped in, if only to change the subject.

“Did you hear Monty say he always wanted to be a marshal?”

“Yeah. What a dickhead comment. That volunteer should’ve beaten him over the head with that ‘Quiet’ sign.”

Monty had sounded sincere, but then again, how ridiculous would that be to have Colin Montgomerie drive up to you on a cart and bark in your face to speed up play? Then he’d REALLY be a jerk. Moments later, Monty stood up to get his driver. Monty asked the caddie for another ball, and the caddie asked where the hell his first ball went.

“Oh, I gave it to that lad over there, in one of my more generous moments.”

The guy who had been the recipient of this generosity—in a jerky move of his own—motioned to Monty.

“Here, you can have it back.” He tossed it to Monty.

“No, please take it. I get them for nothing.” Monty threw it back.

Tom Collins is a former caddie who is following the PGA Tour in 2010. Learn more about his original e-books at TheReluctantJamBoy.com.

Friday, April 2

2010 Shell Houston Open TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2010 SHELL HOUSTON OPEN is in progress at Redstone Golf Club Tournament Course in Humble, Texas. At the moment, the leader is Bryce Molder at 9 under. Molder shot a 66 on Friday. There’s still a long way to go.

Purse: $5.8 million
Winner’s share: $1.026 million
Defending champion: Paul Casey

Inside the field
Inside the course
Tee times
Full tournament news
The live report
Photo gallery

2010 Shell Houston Open Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

Ten hours of weekend TV coverage are on tap for the 2010 Shell Houston Open.

Fri, 4/2:
GOLF 4p - 7p ET

Sat, 4/3:
NBC 1p - 5p ET

Sun, 4/4:
NBC 3p - 6p ET

PGA Tour radio coverage

−The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, April 1

2010 Kraft Nabisco Classic TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2010 KRAFT NABISCO CLASSIC, the first LPGA major of 2010, is underway at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California. Suzann Pettersen is the first-round leader at 5 under.

Purse: $2 million
Defending champion: Brittany Lincicome

Final field
Pairings
Tournament interviews
Complete tournament info

2010 Kraft Nabisco Classic Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

Nine hours of TV coverage are on tap for the 2010 Kraft Nabisco Classic.

Thurs, Apr 01
ESPN2 5:00-7:00 PM ET

Fri, Apr 02
ESPN2 5:00-7:00 PM ET

Sat, Apr 03
ESPN2 7:00-9:00 PM ET

Sun, Apr 04
CBS 3:00-6:00 PM ET

−The Armchair Golfer