Friday, October 31, 2014

News Grab-Bag: 10/31/2014

Happy Halloween, everyone! What is everyone dressed up as? I'm dressed as a golf blogger who is slowly becoming disheartened with the world. It didn't even involve a chance in clothes!

- Farewell to the old, unsightly tree off the tee box of number six at TPC Sawgress. The tree succumbed to disease and old age and had to be removed. If you ask me, it was about time. The tree was an eyesore, and was only a problem for anyone who mishit their shots high. Normally I am one for obstacles on a golf course, but that tree needed to go.

- Could Gary Player become Tiger Woods' next swing coach? I doubt it, but in a recent interview, Player said Woods could get back to his winning ways if he spent an hour with the Hall of Famer. Player said he wants to pass on some of his knowledge to Woods, and tweak a few minor things with his swing that would ease some of the pressure it puts on Tiger's back. Seeing as Tiger is without a swing coach at the moment and he hasn't won a major since 2008, I would, at the very least, pick up the phone if Player made the call. The worst thing that could happen for Tiger is that he wastes an hour of his time.

- The next Ryder Cup captain appears to be down to two players - Paul Azinger and Fred Couples. The arguments for both are a mile long, and it got even longer with Couples' interview this week. When asked how he would turn things around, Couples suggested adding "fun" to the proceedings. Couples reminisced about his President's Cup victories and said it was helped primarily to the fact that the players were able to play without much pressure on them. Both Couples and Azinger have indicated that they would take the job if they were asked.

- How about that for luck? For the second time in eight days, Danielle Kang scored a hole in one in LPGA competition, and in doing so, won her second car. She will leave Asia (barring another hole in one) with a Buick LaCrosse and an Audi A6. It was also Kang's third hole in one on the season, tying the LPGA record of aces in a season. Kang has never won on the LPGA Tour, but if she ever gets strapped for cash, she now has a fleet of cars she can sell.

- Former PGA President Ted Bishop apologized for his comments, but claimed that the punishment didn't fit the crime. This will be the last time I ever discuss Bishop in a blog post, as I no longer consider him relevant to the world of golf.

- The dream some equipment junkies had of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson one day uniting under a single brand has been tossed out the window. Mickelson signed a new five year deal with Callaway, meaning he is under contract until age 49. A lot of players switch equipment after they turn 50, but considering Lefty is entering his 11th year under contract with Callaway, and they have paid him enough to purchase the entire city of Dover, he is unlikely to leave the company anytime in playing career.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wednesday Preview - CIMB Malaysia Classic

The PGA Tour leaves Sea Island and flies half way across the world to Malaysia for the CIMB Classic. Luckily, for those who played last week, the food will more than make up for the heavy helping of jet leg they'll receive. 

Course: Kaula Lumpur Golf and Country Club, West Course. 6,900 yards, which is a short one, but not devoid of trouble and not a course that can be easily overpowered. This is a different course than the one that hosted the LPGA event a few weeks ago, but it is the same country club. Ball striking and putting will be the key here.

Strength Of Field: B-. This is a preview of the kind of field we will see next week at the WGC event. I may be giving this event a better score than it's worth because it's a far better field then we saw the first three weeks, but I am rather excited about this one.

Extra Tidbits: This is the only non-major/non-WGC event PGA Tour event held outside of North America...Top Asian professional will get the opportunity to play alongside the PGA Tour professionals. The top 10 from the Asian Tour will play, as well as Japanese PGA Tour pros Hideki Matsuyama and Ryo Ishikawa. China's Guan Tainlang gets a sponsor's exemption, as well as two Malaysian pros, Nicholas Feng and Danny Chia...Nicholas Thompson will get a little bit of motivation to win this week - his sister, Lexi, won the event in Malaysia last year on the East Course...David Love III, fresh off of hosting the McGladrey Classic, will tee it up this week. He is the oldest man in the field. Guan Tainlang wasn't born yet when Love won the PGA Championship in 1997.

Fantasy Four:

Ryo Ishikawa - For some reason, I see Ishikawa winning this event. He has burnt me a lot in the past, but this seems like the kind of event Ishikawa could win (limited field, no cut, in Asia). Made the cut and finished inside the top 30 in the first two events this season. Has struggled early in events, but has made his moves on the weekend. 

Hideki Matsuyama - I have played Matsuyama each week he has tee'd it up, and it has worked out this far as he has not finished outside the top 10 this season. If the leaderboard stays somewhere around ten under par, Matsuyama could be sprinting towards the finish. Great ball striker, which sets up perfectly on this course.

Lee Westwood - As much of a sleeper as I'm going to plug in this week. Has had success on this course in the past, and seems to be heading in the right direction, but may no longer be a top tier player. Could finish anywhere on the leaderboard and it would not be much of a surprise. Should feel rejuvenated after a strong Ryder Cup.

Sergio Garcia - One of the best global players out there, as he has won on virtually every continent. Well rested following the Ryder Cup, and is gearing up for the European Tour finals. Top ranked player in the field who, I believe, is in for a monster year. 

Last Weeks Team:
Tony Finau: T14
Adam Hadwin: MDF
Alex Cejka: CUT
Chris Kirk: T4

Wednesday Preview - Fubon LPGA Taiwan

Only four events remain on the LPGA schedule as the players head to Taiwan for the Fubon LPGA Taiwan. It is also the second to last event of the Asian swing.

Course: Miramar Golf Country Club, measuring at a lengthy 6,500 yards. It is the first time this event is being played at this course, but it did host the Swinging Skirt World Ladies Invitational for a number of year, which attracted big fields. Due to the course playing a little longer, general course unfamiliarity, and the chance of bad weather, expect winning scores to be single digits under par.

Strength Of Field: B. Big name players are here, but it is a limited field with 12 TLPGA stars in it, so it's not very deep. Also, Taiwan's Teresa Lu, winner of last year's Mizuno Classic and two time JLPGA winner this season, either didn't get an invite or turned one down, which is surprising. 

Extra Tidbits: This will be the first event played by Inbee Park and Stacy Lewis since Park took the number one spot away from Park last week. Lewis can take it back with a victory, Amazingly, only eight players have ever been number one in the world...Former world number one Ai Miyazato is among the sponsor exemptions for this week. Strangely, she is not playing in the Mizuno Classic in Japan next week, and hasn't done so in a number of years...This is one of the newest stops in the Asian swing, being played for the fourth time. Only the two stops in China have been around for a lesser amount of time.

Fantasy Four:

1) Inbee Park - New world number one is coming off a third place finish at the HanaBank and a second on the KLPGA Tour. She's showing the level of consistency that Stacy Lewis had for most of the season. Has finished inside the top 10 on the LPGA in eight straight tournaments.

2) Lydia Ko - Rebounded from a disappointing event in Korea with a T7 last week. Won the last Swinging Skirt event at this golf course in 2013. She's not as consistent as Park or Lewis, but crops up on a bunch of leaderboards and won twice this season. If the weather picks up and the field starts to bunch, Ko will be the player to watch.

3) Michelle Wie - Returned to action with a T5 and T3 in her last two starts. Longer course should play into her strategy. Putting seems much improved than where it was following the US Open. The stock is rising quickly.

4) Suzann Pettersen - Winner of this event the last two seasons, but this is a completely different layout. Will likely want to turn the page on this season, but familiar surroundings may be what she needs to get a kick start.

(SLEEPER) Na Yeon Choi - It's her birthday this week, so she may be a bit distracted. Had a terrible HanaBank Championship, and is wildly inconsistent, but showed flashes of her former brilliance during the first couple of Asian swing events. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Pace And Streb Notch First Victories

- I want to take nothing away from Lee-Anne Pace, who was able to play beautiful golf throughout all the starting and stopping this week, but it is hard to judge a winner based on an event that got shortened to 54 holes over the course of five days. We don't know how Pace would have handled a final round of 18 holes with someone chasing her. Still, Pace doesn't have to apologize to anyone, and played the best in the conditions that every player had to deal with, and was able to pick up her first LPGA victory. Pace won nine times on the Ladies European Tour, all within the last four years, and at age 33, she is the second oldest winner on Tour this season. After seeing so many players in their teens and twenties playing so well, it is odd to actually see a late bloomer on the LPGA Tour.

- It feels like Michelle Wie hasn't missed a beat. Two weeks in a row, she is part of the conversation coming down the stretch on Sunday, all after taking several weeks off to heal her injured finger. Prior to her injury, Wie looked like she was struggling, so perhaps the time off was exactly what Wie needed to recharge the batteries, so to speak.

- While the rest of the woman's golf world was watching the acting in China, a very compelling event in Korea was taking place, The KB Financial Championship came down to teenage sensation Hyo Joo Kim and Inbee Park. Kim, who has won every virtually every tournament she has entered this year, walked away with the victory, leaving Park in second place. A consolation prize, however, is that Park got to wake up this morning as the new Rolex Number One, overtaking Stacy Lewis while Lewis was on vacation. The two will tee it up this week.

- Another week, another 20-something picking up their first win on the PGA Tour, though Robert Streb's victory was not nearly as surprising a Ben Martin's. Streb, who two years ago barely finished outside the FedEx Cup playoffs, had a solid season last year, and translated that into his first win last week at the McGladrey Classic. Streb won on the college level, on mini tours, on the Tour, and now on the PGA Tour, so he is no stranger to victories. Streb's first major championship will be the Masters in April, which will take place a two months after his wife gives birth to their first child. Talk about a good year.

- Brendon de Jonge will have to wait a little longer for his first PGA Tour victory. De Jonge has come dangerously close on several occasions, and his great final round would have been enough had it not for the final round 63 that Streb shot. De Jonge had a bit of a rough season last year, so it's good to see him back in contention, but he needs to win soon.

- Will MacKenzie had his chance to complete his comeback and win his third PGA Tour title, but he just wasn't able to get anything going in the final round. I am really rooting for MacKenzie, who is (shockingly) 40 years old to win another tournament, especially considering the ups and downs that he has had to deal with. This week was a good start.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ted Bishop Calls Ian Poulter "Little Girl"

Earlier today, while praising Sir Nick Faldo and his Faldo Series to build the game of golf on the youth level, PGA of America president Ted Bishop called Ian Poulter a "Lil Girl". The tweet at since been deleted, but this is the internet and everything can be saved for prosperity. You can see the tweet here.

It doesn't stop there. In a Facebook post (which has also been deleted) was talking about Poulter's criticism of Faldo and American Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson. Bishop brought up Faldo and Watson's majors and Ryder Cup successes, and said of Poulter's criticism "Really? Sounds like a little school girl squealing during during recess. C'MON MAN!"

Bishop was instantly bashed for his comments, and rightfully so. Not only are these comments sexist, but they come from the head of a governing body in the sport of golf. The PGA of America is not only a rule making board, but they operate the PGA Championship, the final of the four majors. To have the head of a governing body and a major bashing a player for his comments towards another player is a huge conflict of interest. I have made no secret that I admire both Tom Watson and Nick Faldo, and there have been times when Poulter's brash, unapologetic comments rub me the wrong way, but there is no excuse for this.

Do I imagine Bishop's comments or feelings towards Poulter to affect him in any way professionally? Of course not, but it is a terrible look. Not only has the head of the PGA of America made it publicly known that he doesn't like a player that competes in his major championship, but he used the terms "little girl" and "school girl" in a derogatory way the year before they PGA takes over a major on the LPGA Tour.

Ted Bishop is stepping down as the president of the PGA next month, so this story will likely go away as the PGA enters a new era with a new president. The first thing the PGA has to do is separate themselves from Bishop's comments. The news of these comments have already spread through the media, and now "PGA" is being linked with terms like "disrespectful" and "sexist". The incoming leadership can not sit back and hope this story goes away.

Also, can we quit acting like everyone who does something good for the game of golf is above criticism? Let's look at the events that got us to this point. During the Ryder Cup, on national television, Nick Faldo called Ian Poulter's team mate Sergio Garcia "useless" in response to a question about his performance at the 2008 Ryder Cup, in which Faldo was the captain of the European squad and where the Europeans suffered their only less this millennium. In response, Poulter blasted back and said that players no longer respect Faldo like they used to. So now Ted Bishop has to chime in? On a verbal feud that, by all accounts, Faldo started in the first place? Faldo has done a lot to make the game global by encouraging youth all over the world to take up the game. Faldo was a tremendous player that paved the way for European domination of golf in the 80's and 90's. Faldo can also be opinionated and brash, just like Poulter can be, and he said something he probably shouldn't have about a current European player. You can defend the things Faldo has done while also not throwing yourself into the middle of a fight that you were not asked to take part in.

One last thing. I am aware that the use of the term "little girl" and trying to emasculate someone is still considered proper trash talk, and that, by being offended, I'm going to get labeled as a thin-skinned feminist, but honestly, let's just stop with that nonsense. It's 2014, not 1955, and we should be better than to using feminine terms as insults. It makes you look old, out of touch, and quite frankly, it makes you seem unintelligent.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wednesday Preview - McGladrey Classic

The PGA Tour heads to the East Coast for the first time in the 2014-2015 season.

Course: Sea Island Resort, measuring at just over 7,000 yards. It's one of the shortest courses in the PGA Tour rotation. This course is pretty easy when the wind is calm, and incredibly difficult when the wind is blowing, so it will all depend on the weather. If the weather is perfect, expect another birdie fest.

Strength Of Field: D. I could fake excitement about the first two events of the season, but this one I am going to sleepwalk through. Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson are the stars, and would be an even bigger draw if either were playing well entering the event. Last week's winner Ben Martin is also in the field.

Extra Tidbits: Several members of the PGA Tour are members at Sea Island, but Chris Kirk, last years winner, is the only one to have ever won this tournament. Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson, the biggest names in the field, hope to continue that trend...Davis Love III is the tournament host and will play this event for the fourth straight year. The 50 year old Love missed the cut at the Open in a warm up to this Tour graduate and Japan Tour winner Sung-Joon Park will be playing in his first PGA Tour event of his rookie season. Park is coming off a T16 at the Japan Open...this event is the last full points event in the United States in 2014, so those who do not wish to travel to Asia will either have to make their points here or wait until the season picks up in January...Every McGladery Classic played since its inception has been won by a shot or less.

Fantasy Four:

Tony Finau - I'm a believer. While he won't be able to bomb this course like he did last week, he has showed me in his two starts that he is someone who is ready to contend right away. Finau has been wanting to be on this stage for several years, and now that he's here, he is taking advantage of every opportunity he has.

Adam Hadwin - I was always a believer in Hadwin, who comes in off the heels of a terrific final round in Vegas. Course familiarity hasn't been a concern for the rookies so far this season, and they head to Sea Island, which is an easy course to adjust to. Hadwin has too much game to not be a part of the conversation.

Alex Cejka - Sleeper pick. I have a feeling Cejka is going to be the kind of guy who flips between missing cuts and notching top 25s, but he showed be enough last week to give him a chance here. The 43 year old is coming off one of his best seasons ever on the Tour, and now seems to have renewed energy. He is still searching for his first PGA Tour victory, and his time may be running out, so he needs to make the best of these opportunities.

Chris Kirk - The defending champion is coming off a good playoff run where he won the Deutsche Bank Championship and finished T4 at the Tour Championship. In fact, Kirk's season last year was a monster one - he had more top 10's (5) then he did missed cuts (2). Starts this season at the site of his second PGA Tour victory, so he should be feeling pretty comfortable. Will be on quite a few lists for the Presidents Cup team the closer we get to that event.

Last Weeks Team:
Hideki Matsuyama: T10
Kevin Na: WD
Stuart Appleby: MDF
Ryo Ishikawa: T28

Wednesday Preview - Blue Bay LPGA

For the first time ever, the LPGA is putting on a second event in China, this time in Hainan Island. This is the fourth of six events held in Asia.

Course: Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Course, which could play at a monster 6,800 yards. This course has yet to be seen by the LPGA players, so the final score is hard to predict. I would guess that we will be looking at mid-teens under par, but that is based on nothing except the performances in the previous Asian events.

Strength Of Field: D. The weakest field of any of the Asian swing events. No Inbee, no Stacy, no So Yeon Ryu - this is the perfect event for someone a little further down the Rolex Rankings to make up some ground.

Extra Tidbits: Stacy Lewis is taking another week off. Inbee Park is playing on the KLPGA Tour this week. The two are virtually tied atop the Rolex Rankings, so Inbee could move past Lewis this week based on her results...The Hainan Province is an island off the course of mainland China situated in the South China Sea. While the rest of China struggles to build golf courses, Hainan has a robust golf industry. Hainan is also home to the far more famous resort Mission Hills...The oldest winner on the LPGA this year by a substantial margin is Karrie Webb at the age of 39. Behind her is Mo Martin at 31. Surprisingly, the third oldest winner this season is Stacy Lewis at age 29. Six times this season, a tournament has been won by someone age 20 or younger.

Fantasy Four:

Mirim Lee - Following her victory in China three weeks ago, she hasn't finished outside the top 20 in the other two events in Asia. Returning to the country where she won her second LPGA title should be a confidence booster for Lee. Is currently 8th in driving distance.

Lydia Ko - Top ranked player in the field, though has cooled down a bit after a stretch of terrific golf. This is the first week in quite a while where Lydia can not take over the number one spot with a victory, so that could alleviate some pressure. Both rookies won't have to worry about a lack of course knowledge, as the entire field is seeing the course for the first time.

Shanshan Feng - Was very disappointing in her title defense in Beijing, but turned right around and won in Malyasia the next week. Is the second highest ranked player in the field, and as long as she doesn't put too much pressure on herself to win, she should be a part of the conversation.

Brittany Lincicome - A long course should play into Lincicome's game. Is coming off a playoff loss in Korea, and also has four top 10's in five starts. At this stage in her career, she should have no trouble rebounding from disappointment. 

(SLEEPER) Yanhong Pan - The current leader in the Order Of Merit on the Chinese LPGA Tour, and finished just outside the top 10 the last time the LPGA staged an event in China. Last week we saw a KLPGA star break out and win, so Pan may be looking to accomplish the same goal. Is also a big hitter so the course will be a good set up for her game. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Want To Read More About Your Favorite Player? Donate To The Kids!

Anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with golf, but it is not my only passion. Another one of my passions is video games, and this Saturday, I will be participating in a 24 hour video game marathon to help raise money for Extra Life, a charity associated with the Children's Miracle Network.

I will be playing for St. Vincent Children's Hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania, and I need as much help as I can get. You can click here to find out more information, and to donate.

So, what does that mean for the golf obsessed? Well, I'm glad you asked, person who didn't actually ask that question! While we all might like to watch golf and read about golf, there are still golfers that catch our eye. Golfers that we root for on a weekly basis. I know I have my biases, and I'm sure you all do, too.

So, here is how I can help you. If you donate $20 or more, I will write an in depth blog post about your favorite golfer - their early years, their families, their careers, and what they are projected to accomplish going forward. This can be a PGA, LPGA, retired, or foreign or minor tour golfer. Whoever you choose, I will write as detailed of a report as I possibly can on that golfer. 

Thank you to everyone in advanced. Even if you can't donate the $20, even so much as sharing the link to my page would go a long way towards making this a successful event. I appreciate all the support I can get.

Sunday In Seoul - Best Of The Year?

- Was the KEB-HanaBank Championship the best tournament of the year? There are a lot of great LPGA events to choose from, but this would certainly make the top five. Several lead changes, top players in contention, back nine charges - this tournament had it all.

- Not only are the Koreans retaking the Tour by winning tournaments, but they are also getting younger. Kyu Jung Baek is only 19 years old and a rookie on the KLPGA Tour. She's also won three times on that Tour, including a major. Baek knows how to win, and she will be an international presence in tournaments in the future. That being said, don't expect her to accept the LPGA membership that goes with her victory. She'll make it to the LPGA at some point in her career, and she'll be a winner on that Tour as well, but she's going to want to spend another year or two in Korea.

- Speaking of teenage icons on the KLPGA Tour, Hyo Joo Kim notched a top 10 this week. Kim said prior to the start of the tournament that she would accept membership on the LPGA Tour next year, but it sounds like she's going to split time between the LPGA and KLPGA Tours. One of her closest friends is Kyu Jung Baek, so perhaps Baek will follow the same route as Kim and golf part time on the LPGA Tour next season. I guess we will find out next year. What can't be disputed right now is that Kim is a superstar, and when she joins the LPGA, a lot of golfers are going to be getting headaches.

- Is Baek didn't play so well down the stretch, we would be talking about In Gee Chun and how she was able to win against the top players in the world. Still, this has to be a huge boost for one of the best players on the KLPGA Tour. As far as I can tell, this is the first time in this tournament's history where the KLPGA stars finished in the top two. All around, it was a great day for the home crowd, and the KLPGA Tour, who got some great exposure this weekend.

- You have to wonder what is going on inside Brittany Lincicome's head when she's standing over a short putt or walking up the 18th fairway. Twice this season, Lincicome had issues on the final hole that cost her an opportunity to win. Will she ever win again? You have to think she will get those issues worked out and hoist a trophy once again. Remember, So Yeon Ryu had similar issues for a year and a half until finally breaking through once again. Lincicome's time is coming.

- We were so close to witnessing a storybook week for Inbee Park. One more birdie would have put her into the sudden death playoff and, more importantly, would have secured the number one spot in the Rolex Rankings all on her wedding week. Still, it was a good week for someone who could have been excused if she was a little distracted. It will be interesting to see Park and Stacy Lewis back in action in two weeks. Right now, it would seem like Park is playing with far more confidence then Lewis, but these things can easily change.

- I would say this was a successful return from injury for Michelle Wie. Not only did she complete four rounds, but two weekend rounds of 67 got her in contention on Sunday. Wie could have been rusty. She could have finished in the middle of the field and accepted it as a good week, but Wie had her eyes set on winning. She appears to be completely fine now, which means she's going to make a final push towards the end of the season.

- It's hard to write about Ben Martin without sounding cliche. He's a young talent that saw success on the amateur level but struggled initially on the PGA Tour, but now he's finally reached those expectations and is a winner on the PGA Tour. Martin nearly gave this tournament away (or, better yet, Kevin Streelman nearly stole another one thanks to an unbelievable final round), so I don't know what to predict when it comes to Ben Martin's career. Perhaps all he needed was that first trophy to eliminate some of the nerves and get him prepared for this level. We won't have to wait long, as Martin is expected to play a few times before we get to Hawaii.

- Two men have finished in the top 10 in both opening tournaments this season - Hideki Matsuyama and Brooks Koepka. This isn't much of a surprise. Koepka is expected to do big things now that he has a full time membership on Tour. He has proven himself on the international level time and time again, and people are looking for him to break out. Matsuyama is a top 10 player in the world, in my eyes, and has the kind of game that can lead him to contend and possibly win in majors. Both did exactly what they were supposed to do to start the season. For Koepka, he is hoping that this strong start will lead to a strong performance in the final Race to Dubai events on the European Tour.

- I was already a believer in Adam Hadwin, who had a monster final round, but now I think I'm a believer in Carlos Ortiz. I had no idea what to expect from Ortiz, who won three times last season on the Tour but also struggled down the stretch. He seems to feel comfortable on this level, and has gotten better each tournament and each round he's played. I still think Hadwin will win Rookie of the Year, but Ortiz could have a really good year and even challenge him. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

2015 Hall Of Fame Class Announced

The first class under the new Hall Of Fame guidelines was announced this week, as Mark O'Meara, Laura Davies, David Graham, and A.W. Tillinghast were names as the newest Hall Of Fame Class.

A.W. Tillinghast played golf in the early 1900's, but is remembered most as a great golf architect that was responsible for some of the most iconic golf courses in America. Among the long list of courses that Tillinghast designed are Cedar Crest Park, Bethpage, Baltusrol, and Winged Foot, which hosted a combined five major championships. Tillinghast was also known as the first golf reporter, a master photographer (You can buy prints of his photos on his web site), and was the founder of the PGA of America.

David Graham was the winner of the 1979 PGA Championship and 1981 US Open. The Australian won 25 times world wide, including eight times on the PGA Tour. He was the captain for the International Team during the first President's Cup in 1994. He was elected to the Australia Sport Hall of Fame in 1990.

Mark O'Meara won 16 times on the PGA Tour and had one of the most incredible seasons of the 90's when he won the 1998 Masters and Open Championship. He also won three times on the European Tour, and won the 1979 Amateur Championship. O'Meara spent nearly 200 weeks in the top 10 in the world rankings between 1989 and 2000. He also represented the United States in the World Cup of Golf with his buddy Tiger Woods, which the duo won. In total, O'Meara won 34 times worldwide throughout the course of his career.

Dame Laura Davies may be the most overdue member of the Hall, winning an astonishing 84 times throughout the course of her career. She won a record 45 times on the Ladies European Tour, as well as 20 titles on the LPGA Tour. Davies made history in 2004 by being the first woman to compete in a European Tour event. Davies won four major titles, but also won the Ladies' British Open and the Evian Masters before they became majors on the LPGA Tour. Davies' last victory came in 2010, but nearly turned back the clock at this year's Women's British Open, when she finished 8th. Davies represented Team Europe in the Solheim Cup a record 12 times, most recently in 2011 when Team Europe defeated Team USA in a huge upset. Davies will one day captain the Solheim Cup team, and speculation is that it may happen next year. Her 25 total points won in Solheim Cup competition is the record.

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on the eve of the Open Championship next year in St. Andrews. Congratulations to all four!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wednesday Preview - KEB HanaBank Championship

For several members of the LPGA, this week is almost like a major. That is because this week is the LPGA's annual stop in South Korea, home to 8 of the top 20 golfers in the Rolex Rankings. This has typically been the tournament to showcase the next batch of Korean superstars who will likely make the jump to the LPGA and make a few commentators mispronounce their name.

Course: Sky 72 Golf Club. There is trouble to be had on a few of the holes on this course, but for the most part, it is all systems go for the players. Still, despite the general lack of trouble off the tee, it has been precision golfers that have done the best in this event.

Strength Of Field: B. No Stacy Lewis or Karrie Webb, but Hyo Joo Kim is playing her first LPGA event since the Evian, and major champions Michelle Wie and Mo Martin return to action. Still, limited field events rarely garner an A ranking, so this is as good of a field as you'll see in Asia.

Extra Tidbits: With Stacy Lewis taking a break, both Inbee Park and Lydia Ko have the opportunity to take over the number one spot on the Rolex Rankings. Park can get there with share of third place or better, provided Ko doesn't win. If Ko wins, then it will depend on Park's position at the end of the tournament. There are some complicated math formulas involved, but the short of it is this - win, and become number one...Hyo Joo Kim announced this week that she will take up LPGA membership next season following her victory at the Evian Championship. There was speculation that she may follow in the footsteps of Teresa Lu, who won last season but did not take up membership. Kim also announced that she will play in the CME Group Tour Championship at the end of the season...KLPGA pro Ha-Na Jang also announced her intention to play on the LPGA next season, as she will play in the finals of Q-School. Jang would be the top pro on the KLPGA had Hyo Joo Kim not won every trophy she looked at this season...Want to feel old? This is the 10 year anniversary of Grace Park's final LPGA victory, which was the at the CJ Nine Bridges, which is what this event used to be called.

Fantasy Four:

NOTE: This week, since the event is held in Korea, I decided to go with all Koreans for my Fantasy Four. That's not to say I wouldn't have done so anyway, given the way they've been playing, but I feel as if it is only fitting.

Inbee Park - A lot of people are discounting her because she got married on Monday. What those people don't realize is that Inbee doesn't exist on the same universal plane as the rest of us do. She's almost immortal. Her wedding may actually help her in some strange way. Besides, the fact that she could win and take over the Rolex Rankings in her home country after getting married that week is too good of a storyline. 

Hyo Joo Kim - Won on the KLPGA Tour last week, which I could say almost every week. Her first event since winning the Evian Championship. It's weird to think a major winner will be a rookie on the LPGA Tour next year, but you might as well hand her the trophy now, because she has just as much talent and just as much ability to win early and often as Lydia Ko.

So Yeon Ryu - Top 10 last week. Played solidly all week, but needed to make a few more birdies if she wanted a legitimate chance at winning. Still rebounded from her disappointing event in China, and heads into her home country with renewed confidence. 

JiYai Shin - Gave up her LPGA membership at the start of the season to focus on the JLPGA, and then promptly won four times on that Tour. The former Rolex number one doesn't have to worry about a learning curve - after all, she's won eleven times on the LPGA Tour, including two majors. Should feel right at home on the big stage in front of a home crowd.

(SLEEPER) Se Ri PakAt the beginning of the year I predicted that Se Ri Pak would win this tournament. She has been dealing with injuries for the last couple of months, so that is starting to seem unlikely, but if anyone can rebound from what was essentially a lost season and win in front of a home crowd full of ravenous fans, it would be Pak. She did play on the KLPGA Tour a couple weeks ago, so she should have some of the rust knocked off before playing on Friday. 

Wednesday Preview - Shiners Hospital For Children Open

The group of party people known as PGA golfers head to Las Vegas for the Shiners Hospital For Children Open. This is the second of three events before the PGA Tour heads to Asia, so those who don't wish to dig out their passport for a two week stint need to make their money now.

Course: TPC Summerlin, a 7,200 yard scenic route through the desert. There are a lot of birdies to be had, and while bombers have typically been rewarded on this course, you don't necessarily need to be the longest hitter to win. The premium is on the approach shots.

Strength Of Field: D. If you need big names in order to captivate you, wait until the Asian swing. This will be a yawner for you. Hardcore golf fans will keep an eye out for some of the "second tier" superstars and big names in the making.

Extra Tidbits: All eyes will be on defending FedEx Cup champion Billy Horschel, who begins his season this week. Horchel's last three tournaments were a runner up finish, followed by two victories...Remember Bob May? The former PGA Tour pro who took Tiger Woods to the limit at the 2000 PGA Championship is back, receiving a sponsor exemption into this tournament. May hasn't had status on any Tour since 2010...The Monday qualifiers this week are Wes Homan, Kevin Tway, Wes Roach, and Mark Baldwin...Jimmy Walker doesn't take any breaks. After playing in the Tour Championship and the Ryder Cup, Walker has played the first two events of the 2014-2015 season.

Fantasy Four:

Hideki Matsuyama - The PGA Tour Fantasy game allows you to pick one player ten times throughout the course of the season, and I expect to burn through about half of those on Matsuyama by the time the Tour leaves Hawaii. He's in for a monster year, and his T3 last week showed he has the kind of game to compete anywhere. He's arguably the best player in the field, so there's no reason to sit him.

Kevin Na - TPC Summerlin was the site of his only PGA Tour victory. Residence of Las Vegas. Rebounded from an injury two years ago to make it all the way to the Tour Championship last year. Every sign points to Na winning again, and soon, so this could be the perfect place for him to get his season going.

Stuart Appleby - Sleeper pick. Won this tournament back when it was the Las Vegas Invitational. Was in contention last week until a lousy weekend sent him plummeting down the leaderboard. Sneaky player that is often forgot about. Coming off one of his best years in a long time. 

Ryo Ishikawa - I may be setting myself up here for a disappointment. Ishikawa finished T2 last year, and is coming off a top 25 last week. He could win this tournament just as easily as he could miss the cut, and no one would be surprised by either outcome. If Ishikawa can start well, expect him to be in contention on the weekend. 

Last Weeks Team: 
Hideki Matsuyama: T3
Brooks Koepka: T8
Adam Hadwin: T53
Jimmy Walker: 63

Monday, October 13, 2014

Shanshan Sizzles In Malaysia

- The winner of the Sime Darby was going to have to go under par on Sunday to win, but no one could have predicted just how low. Shanshan Feng's final round 63 is among the most clutch rounds we have seen this season. She shot a 30 on the back nine, including an eagle on the 16th hole that completely slammed the door shut. With this victory, Feng will move to 5th on the Rolex Rankings, above players like Lexi Thompson, So Yeon Ryu, and Karrie Webb. She always seems to be somewhat forgotten about, but this is her fourth win in three seasons, and now has her eyes on the Rolex Rankings.

- Coming down the stretch on Sunday, you can tell which players have won before and which are still seeking their first victory. Shanshan Feng looked cool and calm, draining birdies like it was the easiest thing in the world. Pornanong Phatlum looked stiff. Even with a large lead heading into Sunday, she still needed to shoot a round somewhere in the mid-60's, and she couldn't do it. It's a rough loss for somebody who deserves a victory as much as anyone, but hopefully being out-dueled down the stretch will give Phatlum something to work towards, and she'll bounce back.

- Who had the best week this week? It was probably Inbee Park. While she was at home preparing for her wedding, two players had an opportunity to either jump Inbee or completely end her chances of winning Player of the Year. The first was Stacy Lewis, who jumped out to the lead on Thursday with a 65, but struggled the rest of the week and ended up T21. With Lewis struggling and Park not playing, Lydia Ko had the chance to jump them both and take over as Rolex Number One, but was unable to do so following weekend rounds of 70-70. Now, the newly wed Park will head into the HanaBank Championship with an opportunity to close the gap on Lewis.

- For only the second time in seven weeks, a Korean was unable to win on the LPGA Tour, but Sang-Moon Bae gave them a reason to celebrate on Sunday. After Bae's brilliant first three rounds at the Open, Bae held on to win on Sunday for his second PGA Tour victory. This gives Bae his second victory in two years (three seasons), and it makes me wonder if Bae is ready to break out and become the next great Asian superstar. At 28 and a whole lot of experience behind him, I wouldn't bet against it. Of course, he will have to battle it out with Hideki Matsuyama, who struggled early in the final round but rebounded to finish T3.

- Sang-Moon Bae is now your FedEx Cup leader! What a weird sentence to type. No disrespect to Bae, but I doubt we're going to have another season where the winner of the first event holds on to the FedEx Cup lead until late in the season. It is important to note, however, that Bae was the last man into the Playoffs last year, jumping from 126 to 124 after the final tournament of the regular season, and his victory this week almost assures him a return trip. So, while these early events may not mean much to the viewers, it means a lot to some of the players who were clawing at the Playoffs last year.

- It was good to see Steven Bowditch finish in second place. Bowditch was one of the unlikely winners last year when the PGA Tour experienced a run where the big name players were unable to capture victories. Bowditch struggled from that point on, so to see him come out of the gate this year with a big week almost validates him. Though, I'm sure, Bowditch will be looking for more than just some top finishes. He wants to win again.

- Will Retief Goosen ever win again? I think that, not only will he win again, but he will do so this year. Goosen had a great 2013-2014 season, where he met the terms of his medical exemption and made the Playoffs, and he picks up where he left off, tying for third with Ryder Cupper Hunter Mahan, Martin Laird, and Bryce Molder. It was a big week for all of those players, but none more so than Goosen, who isn't the major winner we saw ten years ago, but looks to be coming back into some kind of form. I would love to see Goosen win a tournament before the Masters so he can play at Augusta once again.

- While the LPGA pros were battling in Malaysia, Hyo Joo Kim outdueled Ha Neul Kim to win her fifth worldwide tournament, and fourth KLPGA event this season. A few writers wondered if Kim was in for a letdown following her victory at the Evian Championship, but she picked up right where she left off, and now has all but secured that tour's money list and Player Of The Year awards. She's also now inside the top 10 in the Rolex Rankings, and heads into the HanaBank this week for a chance to win her second LPGA title. Oh, and she's 19.

- Ian Woosnam won the Dutch Senior Open this week on the European Senior Tour. I'm not usually one to write about the European Senior Tour, but Woosnam's victory is significant because it is his first victory anywhere since 2011, and it appears as if a few lessons from a swing coach has given him a new bout of confidence. Following his win, Woosnam said "Look out Rory. He may have to start thinking about me again once we get to next year's Masters." While I seriously doubt Woosnam can win another green jacket at age 54, he did come close to making the cut last year, so perhaps Woosnam can turn back the clock and play on Sunday at Augusta.  

Saturday, October 11, 2014

News Grab-Bag: 10/11/2014

- Congratulations to Inbee Park, who is set to marry her fiance Gi Hyub Nam on Monday. She released a few pre-wedding photos on Twitter, most notably this one which features Park and two of her bridesmaids, So Yeon Ryu and Na Yeon Choi. Park took this week off in order to plan for her wedding, but is expected to play in the Hana Bank Championship, along with Ryu and Choi. Congratulations, Inbee!

- Congratulations Carlos Ortiz for winning the Tour Player Of The Year Award. Ortiz became the 10th player in Tour history to win three times in a season and earn a battlefield promotion to the PGA Tour. Since his last victory came late in the season, Ortiz decided to push back membership to this year, and will be exempt from the reshuffle all season. Ortiz began his rookie season this week by making the cut at the Open.

- We are two weeks from the Ryder Cup, and yet the fallout continues from the US's blow out loss to Europe. First, Lee Westwood came out this week and said he was disappointed in how the United States handled their loss. Westwood said that, despite some of the issues players had with Captain Nick Faldo following their loss in 2008, everyone remained silent and did not air their dirty laundry to the public. Westwood said that the fallout will only help the European side, because they will remember how the United States handles these losses going forward. Secondly, the PGA of America announced that it will create a task force to overhaul the entire Ryder Cup system, from how they select captains to how the captain's picks and qualifiers are made. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are among the names on that task force. Unless those two are going to start making putts in a Ryder Cup competition, however, I don't see how much difference this makes. Finally, Hunter Mahan spoke prior to the Open and said that the fallout from the Ryder Cup will lead to a positive change for Team USA going forward. I understand that Mahan has to look at this with rose colored glasses, but I have heard this before from several losses in the past. I will believe it when I see it.

- Jarrod Lyle's comeback is off to a great start, as he not only Monday qualified for the Open, but then turned around and made the cut. Lyle will be one of the biggest stories of the season, and I'm ok with writing good things about him all year.

- Happy 25th birthday to Michelle Wie, who is set to return from her thumb injury next week in South Korea. Wie still has a slim chance to win the Player Of The Year Award, but she would need a massive five week stretch for that to happen.

- Hall Of Famer Se Ri Pak was on the cover of Golf Digest Korea this week. Pak revealed that she has no desire to retire, and that fellow Hall of Famer Karrie Webb's two victories and near miss at the Evian this season gave her extra motivation to compete. Pak has been hampered with injuries the last couple of seasons, and it appears as if she's going to take it easy for the rest of the year, playing primarily in Korea. Pak did finish in third place at the Kraft Nabisco Championship earlier this year.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wednesday Preview - Open

Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the 2014-2015 PGA Tour Season! I know it was a long off season for everyone, but we can finally, after all this time, return to golf with the Open!

...yes, I know it's ridiculous.

Course: Silverado Resort & Spa, 7,200 yards. This course played host to a PGA Tour event back in the 70's, but it hasn't been seen at that level since, so every player will be seeing it for the first time. The course is supposed to play well to bombers and ball strikers. Wayward shots will not be penalized that much, and there won't be a huge premium on putting. Expect scores in the upper teens.

Strength Of Field: D. Go ahead and take a nap until we get to WGC event in China. Matt Kuchar and Hideki Matsuyama are the big hitters. Patrick Reed withdrew early in the week.

Extra Tidbits: Johnny Miller joins the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer as host of a PGA Tour event. One of his invites was his son, former PGA Tour pro Andy Miller...38 out of possible 50 graduates of the Tour are playing this week, including 16 rookies who begin their season...Jarrod Lyle's comeback from leukemia begins this week as he Monday qualified for the event. Lyle hasn't played on the PGA Tour since his diagnosis in 2012, but did play well in his rehab stints in Australia at the end of 2012 and on the Tour last year. Also Monday qualifying were Matthew Goggin, T.J. Vogel, and recent Tour graduate Eric Axley...Last year, Jimmy Walker won the Open for his first PGA Tour title. He parlayed that into two more victories that season, the lead in the FedEx Cup for a majority of the season, and a spot on the US Ryder Cup team.

Fantasy Four:

Hideki Matsuyama - One of the top ranked pros in the field, made it all the way to the Tour Championship last year, and should be well rested as all the American and European pros played the Ryder Cup. He finished T3 here last year, albeit on a different course, but he showed last year that he has the skills to perform anywhere at during any week. 

Brooks Koepka - Full fledged PGA Tour pro will be looking to get off to a great start, such as he did last year when he finished T3. Finished in the top 10 last week on the European Tour. He is playing in end-of-season mode, since he is still competing on the European Tour, so he should be able to bring that intensity over. All eyes will be on him this season.

Adam Hadwin - Sleeper pick. Finished in first place in the combined regular and post season money lists for the Tour. Has some experience playing in PGA Tour events, so he's not coming in completely blind, but he is still classified as a rookie. This could be the first of many big weeks for the future superstar.

Jimmy Walker - I'm getting sucked into this one, as all the experts are predicting Walker to be a part of the conversation at the end. While I think Walker is a great player, very rarely do things go as expected. Still, Walker is coming off a strong Ryder Cup performance and will be feeling comfortable returning to a tournament where he won his first tournament. I don't have him as my winner, but he will have a strong defense. 

Note: I'm not going to be doing full fledged 2015 PGA Tour predictions until January, since I don't think these early events really effect much at the end of the season. So, prior to the Tournament of Champions, I will give my predictions for FedEx Cup Champion, as well as for all four majors and the Players Championship; however, a common point of conversation is who will lead the FedEx Cup at the end of 2014. Players will have six tournaments to rack up as many points as possible. Seeing as he's playing well and will likely play in at least three of the six, I suspect Hideki Matsuyama to be leading the race by year's end. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tuesday Preview - Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia

Personal Note: I will be busy tomorrow until later in the afternoon, and the first group will likely have tee'd off by then, so that is why I decided to push this back to Tuesday. In my defense, it IS Wednesday in Malaysia.

After a wacky and wild tournament in China, the LPGA heads to Malaysia for the Sime Darby LPGA. I don't believe there are no rocks surrounding the green at this golf course, so don't expect that to be a storyline this week.

Course: Kaula Lumpur Golf & Country Club, a par 71 that measures 6,200 yards. Last year, Lexi Thompson went nuts on this course and walked away with almost every scoring record. Generally, this course plays a little more difficult than that, but the winning score should still be in the mid teens.

Strength Of Field: B. Inbee Park is sitting this tournament out because she's getting married, and Michelle Wie is still out with her injury, but the rest of the top 10 is playing this week. It is, however, another limited field event, so there isn't a lot of depth.

Extra Tidbits: With Park getting married, Stacy Lewis has another opportunity to slam the door on the Player Of The Year race. Lewis has two top 10's in four appearances at this tournament...Kaula Lumpur is no stranger to hosting professional tournaments. Other than the four LPGA events, they have also hosted two European Tour events, as well as last years CIMB Classic on the PGA Tour...Last year, Lexi Thompson shot a second round 63 on her way to a four shot victory and the tournament scoring record for her second LPGA title. Prior to Thompson's victory, every edition of this tournament was won by Koreans.

Fantasy Four:

So Yeon Ryu - I don't know why I feel strongly about Ryu's chances this week, but I have this sinking suspicion that she is going to walk away with this tournament. Did not play particularly well last week, but Ryu hadn't played since her disqualification at the Evian, so I will give her a pass. 

Stacy Lewis - A win will all but seal the Player of the Year award for Lewis. Of her eleven victories, only one came in Asia, so she isn't really the world beater in Asia as she is in the United States. Still, she will be part of the conversation as she always is.

Na Yeon Choi - Has a win and a second place finish at this event, so if course familiarity translates to success, then expect Choi to contend. NYC hasn't had a great year, but she did finish 5th at the Evian and notched a top 25 last week, so she is at least trending in the right direction.

Lydia Ko - Has won tournaments in New Zealand and Taiwan, so she is likely feeling comfortable this week, especially after spending a few weeks at home. Might have some extra motivation after seeing fellow rookie Mirim Lee win last week. I think Ko will be in for a big Asian swing, and it will start by a big week this week.

(SLEEPER) Azahara Munoz - Won last week on the LET Tour for her first victory since she won the same tournament last year. Munoz's season started great during the first Asian swing. Either Munoz is trending up and will start becoming the competitor we all think she will, or her inconsistency will continue to haunt her. This could be the week we figure it out.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

Five Tour Graduates That Can Excel This Season

We are on the eve of the first tournament of the 2014-2015 season (yeah, seriously), which means we are are about to see the graduates of the Tour, some for the first time and some who have been on Tour for a few years. There are 50 graduates, so it would be impossible for me to predict how each of them would fare next season. If you are interested in that sort of thing, Rob Bolton did a break down of every full member of the PGA Tour. For me, I would like to highlight five players from the Tour that I think will make an impact immediately.

1) Adam Hadwin - My pick for Rookie Of The Year next season. Hadwin has played a few times on the PGA Tour, most notably a third place finish at the 2011 Canadian Open. He played a couple of season on the Tour, but absolutely exploded this season and walked away as the top qualifier from the playoffs. He will have no trouble getting into tournaments as he will be immune from the reshuffle list. He's the rookie that may have the least amount of adjustment to make.

2) Jason Gore - At 40, he may not get another opportunity, so he will need to make the most out of this season. Notched 7 top 10s last season, including a third place finish at the Tour Finals. He will have familiarity with some of the courses he will play this season, which gives him a leg up on some of his fellow graduates. I don't expect him to have a huge, break out season, but could very easily make the playoffs.

3) Richard Sterne - Good pro on the European Tour who made the President's Cup last season, but success on foreign tours don't always translate into success on the PGA Tour. Regardless, his has played in every major and the World Golf Championship events, so he knows how to deal with pressure. The question will be how many events he decides to play in.

4) Steve Wheatcroft - Has been bouncing back and forth between the PGA and Tours for the better part of 8 years, so most won't have a lot of confidence in him retaining his card this season. He did, however, win in Boise last season. His consistency is a concern, but he should be able to get into quite a few tournaments, especially early in the season, so we should know out the gate if he's going to be able to get anything going.

5) Sung-Joon Park - Going off the board for this one. The 28 year old from Korea has played a few years in Japan to decent success, and played on the Tour last year, where he got nothing going until the playoffs. He has a lot of talent, but the results haven't really been there yet. I think, however, that he can sneak in a few great finishes to jump start his PGA Tour career. He will also be a rookie next season, and it may be a weaker rookie class this year, so Park might be a part of the conversation.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

More Final Round Madness In Beijing

- I wonder if Stacy Lewis will ever play the Reignwood Classic again. A year after being beaten by the most incredibly/lucky shot of the 2013 season, Lewis has a chance entering the final round to lock up the Player Of The Year and the CME Globe races. Instead, she struggles late, and not only does she not win, but she finishes behind her closest competitor Inbee Park to open the door for a late season charge. Beijing has not agreed with Lewis in the last two seasons, and it may be wise for her, moving forward, to spend an extra week in the US before entering the Asian Swing.

- What Mirim Lee managed to do in the toughest conditions of the week was nothing short of superstar quality. As players around her struggled, Lee fired a final round 69, which was the third best round of the day. Since the Women's British Open, Lee has three top 10's with two victories and no missed cuts. Entering this season, you probably didn't think or Mirim Lee as one of the best Koreans on the LPGA Tour, but she is tied with Inbee for the most victories this season, and her Rolex Ranking has skyrocketed up to 29th. One victory could be a fluke. Two is a trend.

- Koreans have now won six of the last seven tournaments on the LPGA Tour. I wonder if golf writers are still going to be discussing how great of a season this was if Koreans continue to dominate.

- Don't look now, but Lydia Ko no longer has the Rookie Of The Year award locked up. While it is highly unlikely, Mirim Lee still has an opportunity to overtake Ko for the award. All Mirim will have to do is win a couple more tournaments and hope Ko doesn't have any top 10's between now and the end of the season. Again, highly unlikely, but it is great to see that there is another rookie playing well after Ko grabbed a stranglehold on the award. We may be looking back on 2014 as one of the best rookie classes in a very long time.

- How has Caroline Hedwall never won an LPGA Tour event? It seems baffling to me that last year's Solheim Cup hero is still looking for her maiden victory on Tour. She played well this week, and looked poised to finally enter the winner's circle, but tough conditions coupled with Mirim's stellar final round prevented that from happening.

- I mentioned that Mirim Lee's 69 was the third best score on Sunday. The best? That would be Mi Hyang Lee's 67 to vault her from 23rd into a tie for sixth. Lee won the LET's New Zealand Open back in February, but has had minimal success on Tour thus far. She's been playing on Tour since 2012, but her only two top 10's have occurred this season. Other than that, I know nothing about Lee other than she's a Symetra Tour product and she's sponsored by Volvik. Apparently you can't Wikipedia your way out of everything.

- I know everyone thought that the low Chinese player this week was going to be Yanhong Pan. Defending champion Shanshan Feng had a disappointing week, finishing T49, and promising rookie Xi Yu Lin didn't fare much better, finishing T41. To be fair, Pan's good performance doesn't completely come out of thin air. She is the leader of the Chinese LPGA Order Of Merit by a rather large margin, and won twice on that tour this season. Still, for Feng, who has won three times on the biggest tour including a major, it has to be disappointing to at least not be the low Chinese golfer.

- There are comebacks, and then there is what Oliver Wilson pulled off this week. Wilson, who had nine runner-up finishes on the European Tour and was on Europe's Ryder Cup team in 2008, had to rely on a sponsor's exemption to enter this week's Alfred Dunhill Links tournament, one of the biggest events on the schedule (and, personally, my favorite). Wilson had dropped to 792nd in the world, but he held off some ferocious charges by some of the biggest names on the European Tour to win his first ever victory. Good on ya, Mr. Wilson!

- Hangover from the Ryder Cup was the only thing that prevented Rory McIlroy from seizing the Dunhill Links, as he was absolutely on fire for the final three rounds of the tournament. It would have been an amazing story to see Rory, fresh off of helping Europe win the Ryder Cup, charge in and take the Dunhill Links the same week he was named PGA Tour Player Of The Year, but Oliver Wilson's victory made for a much better story. Besides, I'm sure this Rory guy has a win or two left in him.

- Brooks Koepka has his PGA Tour card for the 2014-2015 season, so I wonder if he's going to play at all on the European Tour next year. Regardless, he finished with a top 10 this week, and will now play in the Open next week, which is where he finished T3 last season. His confidence has to be through the roof. I'm calling it now - Brooks Koepka will be a winner on the PGA Tour this coming season.

- Congratulations to Teresa Lu who continues to have a great revitalization of her career by winning the Japan Women's Open, one of the most prestigious events on the JLPGA Tour. Lu famously turned down membership to the LPGA after winning the Mizuno Classic last year, and it appears to have been the right move, as this is Lu's second win of the season, though her biggest victory by far. We will see Lu defend her title in a few weeks.

Friday, October 3, 2014

News Grab-Bag: 10/3/2014

- Congratulations to Jack Nicklaus who was awarded Honorary Lifetime Membership on the European Tour this week. Nicklaus was praised by European Tour chief George O'Grady for his work in establishing the Ryder Cup was a prestigious event. It is said that Nicklaus was the one who helped changed the Ryder Cup to the format it is today by suggesting that there should be a Team Europe instead of just the British Isles, so if you want to blame anyone for Team USA's loss last week, blame Nicklaus.

- After being let go by Adam Scott, caddie Stevie Williams said that he was "90% certain" that his caddying days are over...though, he left the door open for a possible reunion with Tiger Woods. Williams has stated that he only wants to work part time, and that he is not really entertaining offers right now as it's only been two weeks since he and Scott parted ways, but when asked about Woods, Williams said that he is someone he would consider. Personally, I highly doubt Woods is picking up the phone and calling Williams anytime soon.

- Count Padraig Harrington out of the running for the next European Ryder Cup captain. Harrington withdrew his name from consideration for the 2016 matches, but has stated that he would like to captain the team in the future. By the end of the year, Team Europe will announce their next captain, which appears to be down to Darren Clarke and Miguel Angel Jimenez.

- To nobody's surprise, Rory McIlroy was named PGA Tour Player Of The Year this week. Chesson Hadley, who was the only rookie to win on Tour last year, walked away with the Rookie Of The Year honors.

- Cadillac has been named the sponsor for next year's WGC Match Play tournament. This gives Cadillac two World Golf Championship sponsorships. The event will be held for the first time at Harding Park in San Francisco, and will be moved from it's traditional spot in February to the last weekend in April.

- Stacy Lewis is launching the "Birdies 4 Founders Film" contest, where every birdie Lewis makes will result in a $100 donation to The Founders, a documentary about the 13 women who founded the LPGA back in 1950. Karrie Webb, Jane Park, Jenny Lidback, and Rosie Jones all made substantial donations towards the film. Lewis' challenge runs through the end of the year, and has already accumulated $1,300. You can track the challenge and donate on your home on the film's web site.

- CNN wrote a piece on Michelle Wie and her...uh...interesting art work. Her art pieces are actually done incredibly well, but also show a deep, dark side to Michelle Wie that do don't see in her normally. Hey, we all have to let our inner anguish out somehow, right? I do so by writing poorly written golf blog posts and crying into an empty wallet.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wednesday Preview - Reignwood LPGA Classic

The LPGA enters the final stretch of the 2014 season as the players head to China for the first of six events in Asia. This is the second year for the Reignwood LPGA Classic, and if it's anything like last year, it should be filled with drama.

Course: Reignwood Pine Valley Golf Club, measuring at a little over 6,500 yards. Expect low scored. Like, insanely low. 18 players finished at ten under or better last year. 

Strength Of Field: C-. The field is headlined by Stacy Lewis and Inbee Park, but there are quite a few notable players missing, such as Lydia Ko, Michelle Wie, and Lexi Thompson. It's also a limited field event that is filled with players from the China LPGA Tour. 

Extra Tidbits: Last year, this event was won by hometown hero Shanshan Feng who took the lead on the final hole from Stacy Lewis after hitting her second shot off the rocks and within a few feet for an eagle...This event will be the first of six events by majors golf tours that take place in China. The LPGA will return later this month for the Blue Bay LPGA Classic.

Fantasy Four:

Shanshan Feng - Why not? Won last year and is having a really good year, so I have no reason to think she can't repeat. The crowd is going to be very loud and very biased, and whoever gets paired with her will be in for a long afternoon. 

Inbee Park - If she is to catch Lewis for the Player Of The Year crown, she will have to start making her move here. Lewis will likely not be helped by the bad memories of what she experienced here last year, so Park needs a big week in order to put added pressure on her. Whenever Park needs to make a statement, she tends to deliver. 

So Yeon Ryu - Was disqualified in her last start at the Evian, so she's likely to be a little hot under the collar. Still only two tournaments removed from her first victory in two years. All the Asian players should be playing with extra motivation throughout the course of this stretch, and as long as Ryu plays well on Sunday, which has been her bugaboo, then she will be part of the conversation. 

Suzann Pettersen - Six top ten finishes in her last seven starts, and is entering the time of year where she is historically at her best. She has won six times in Asia in her career, and has won ten times with a score of ten under or better. Pettersen will likely make this feature throughout the course of the Asian swing.

(SLEEPER) Xi Yu Lin - Chinese golfer that should have a legion of fans this week. Missed the cut at the Evian, but finished T9 in Portland the tournament before. That came at the end of a five week stretch of made cuts. Lin has improved as the season has gone alone, so her homecoming this week could make for a great week for the teenager.