The More Things Change: Bill Haas Wins the Humana Challenge

Ryo Ishikawa Has A Birthday… and Earns His 2014 PGA Tour Card

Several years ago he was known as the Bashful Prince, a talented teenage golfer who stormed to the summit of fame in his native Japan and delighted fans everywhere with his sweet, shy smile.

Ryo Ishikawa played his first PGA Tour events in 2009.  Trailed by a constant crowd of Japanese journalists, his abilities impressed many as he lit up the fairways with a whimsical candy-colored wardrobe.

Expectations for the precocious phenom were stratospheric. By the Spring of 2010 more than a few golf scribes were looking for one of golf's alliterative young guns… Rory, Rickie or Ryo… to quickly become that mythical entity known as "the next Tiger".  In retrospect those predictions seem somewhat silly; here we are in waning months of 2013 and Tiger's just captured both the PGA of America's Player of the Year Award and the Vardon Trophy… for the 11th and 9th time, respectively. Even the most committed Tiger detractors seem to accept that we probably won't see "the next Tiger" any time in the forseeable future. Ever.

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The Travelers Championship Means Much More Than Golf to Nutmeggers

The Travelers Championship – A CT Golf Event That Transcends Golf    via TravelersChampionship.com

While the golf is certainly stellar, for Connecticut residents, the Travelers Championship is also synonymous with history, community and charity.

For over fifty years the PGA Tour has come to the Hartford area for this annual event. It brings together sports fans of all stripes for a celebratory week of activities; a week that transcends the game and touches the lives of many. The Travelers Championship is Connecticut’s largest professional sporting event and as the infographic above illustrates, 100% of the proceeds go to local charities.

For 2013, Travelers Championship week will run from Monday, June 17th thru Sunday, June 23, and the field is getting deeper by the day, with commitments coming in yesterday from Rickie Fowler, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Jason Dufner, Fredrik Jacobson and Padraig Harrington.

And… the tournament’s world class Cromwell venue, TPC River Highlands, is right on schedule to receive the PGA Tour stars. We played there yesterday as part of the Travelers Championship media day, and though our team was less than impressive on the fairways and greens, conditions were great, and all the elements that make the Travelers Championship so compelling to watch (the natural amphitheaters, the many greenside bunkers, the spectacular finishing holes ) also make the course fun… and challenging… to play.

Tickets for the Travelers Championship are available on the event website and you can get the latest news leading up to the tournament by following the Travelers Championship on Facebook and Twitter.

@TravelersChamp on Twitter
Travelers Championship on Facebook

Hanging Out With The Strickster: A Google+ Hangout With Steve Stricker

In a couple of hours, we’ll be hanging out with one of the PGA Tour’s most affable and unassuming stars.

Steve Stricker will be taking part in a Google+ Hangout today at 1:45 p.m. ET, chatting live with PGA TOUR fans in a face-to-face video conference from the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola

You can stream the Hangout live on PGATOUR.com or watch the replay immediately after the Hangout on the PGA TOUR’s YouTube page.

 I know it’s last minute, but if you have a question for the Strickster, leave it in the comments below and I’ll try to get to it the Hangout.

Hanging Out With The Strickster: A Google+ Hangout With Steve Stricker

In a couple of hours, we’ll be hanging out with one of the PGA Tour’s most affable and unassuming stars.

Steve Stricker will be taking part in a Google+ Hangout today at 1:45 p.m. ET, chatting live with PGA TOUR fans in a face-to-face video conference from the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola

You can stream the Hangout live on PGATOUR.com or watch the replay immediately after the Hangout on the PGA TOUR’s YouTube page.

 I know it’s last minute, but if you have a question for the Strickster, leave it in the comments below and I’ll try to get to it the Hangout.

Update: Due to some technical difficulties (a faulty mic) I wasn’t able to get into the hangout… but I did pass on your questions. Check out the video below.

Rory Stories – The Rapid Ascent of the World’s Number One Golfer

Photograph by: Jim Rogash , Getty Images        via leaderpost.com

To ardent golf observers, it sometimes seems that Rory McIlroy’s been around for ages.

We watched his cherubic traits take on the more angular edge of adulthood as his game evolved into something so impressive as to leave us with little doubt we’d be watching an Ulsterman golfer on Sunday afternoons for years to come.

There were, in fact, periods of mental malaise, the most recent of which came earlier this summer with a string of missed cuts, but as the summer waned, McIlroy staged an assertive comeback, winning the 2012 PGA Championship by a record eight shots and displaying an astonishing consistency on the greens. Yesterday it was the Deutsche Bank Championship and a follow-up win that had more than a few golf writers celebrating the dawning of the McIlroy era. Tiger Woods shot a 66 yesterday to finish two strokes back in third while third round leader Louis Oosthuizen settled for second.  Not surprisingly others saw yesterday’s outcome from a slightly different perspective calling it the end of the Tiger era.

Meanwhile for hopeful golf fans the world over, yesterday’s outcome signaled the tantalizing possibility of golf’s next great rivalry.

For now however, I’ll leave you with a few Rory stories from the past …stories I posted during the rapid ascent of Mr. McIlroy.

Rory Mcilroy’s Weekend… Under Monty’s Watchful Eye

Final Note from Dunhill Links: A Stellar Day for Dyson

Dubai Golf – Lee Westwood Wins, Rory McIlroy Reacts

Fan-Friendly Freddie Determined to Defend Travelers Title

Fredrik Jacobsen Greets Fans at Wednesday’s ProAm 

When it comes to golf, consistency is key. Whether you’re talking about set-up, swing or putting technique an enduring routine tends to produce a positive outcome. 
Fredrik Jacobson… aka “the painter hat guy“… took that adage one step further as he grabbed the second round lead today at the 2012 Travelers Championship
A year ago at the same tournament, the affable Swede presented the same 36 hole total (-9) …and went on to capture his first PGA Tour win. Positive outcome indeed. Our Connecticut climate, however, is not being nearly so consistent as Mr. Jacobson.  It’s been sweltering in the nutmeg state for the past several days, and today’s thunders storms have twice caused play to be suspended.  The good news is that those same storms are going to have a cooling effect and are expected to produce some stellar (and much less steamy) weekend weather.

At the Travelers Celebrity ProAm on Wednesday, in the aforementioned heat and humidity, I watched Fredrik Jacobson greet fans and sign autographs in the afternoon sun… with a consistent smile. Fan-friendliness is another area where the soft-spoken Swedish player seems to shine.
A number of players (77) will complete their second rounds tomorrow morning.  Only then will moving day actually begin.  Phil Mickelson is the only player who’s ever successfully defended a win at this event (2002)… over the next couple of days we’ll see if Fredrik Jacobson can keep up the consistency and become the second.

Top 10 recovery shots on PGA Tour: video

The latest in the long line of the PGA Tour Top-10 video series features the best recovery shots of all time.

 

 

Check them out, and have a go at a few of them next weekend.

Orange You Glad Rickie Fowler Is So Inspiring?

Ardent Fowler Fans via Back 9 Network



What’s not to like about this adorable young couple in 
Rickie Fowler inspired prom outfits?  I think they’re pretty awesome. 

Orange You Glad Rickie Fowler Is So Inspiring?

Ardent Fowler Fans via Back 9 Network

What’s not to like about this adorable young couple in 
Rickie Fowler inspired prom outfits?  I think they look pretty awesome.

Rickie Fowler wins first PGA tour event: video highlights

Orange loving fashionistas rejoice as Rickie Fowler wins a three-way playoff to record his first PGA Tour victory.
   

There were some who wondered if Rickie Fowler had what it takes to win a PGA Tour event, while others just wondered when. Today was a win for those who like to wear orange*, when Rickie Fowler beat Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points^ to win the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow. 
It was an impressive finish which saw Fowler stick his approach shot to 4-feet and make the birdie at the first playoff hole. Do we have a new young rivalry, namely McIlroy v Fowler? Quite possibly. with this sort of form, I’d expect them to be facing off against each at some point during the Ryder Cup later this year. 
* Orange is the school colours of his former college, Oklahoma State University. There had to be a reason, why else would you wear those colours from top to bottom? The Dutch excluded.
^ DA stands for Darren Andrew.

 

Rickie Fowler wins first PGA tour event: video highlights

Orange loving fashionistas rejoice as Rickie Fowler wins a three-way playoff to record his first PGA Tour victory.
   

There were some who wondered if Rickie Fowler had what it takes to win a PGA Tour event, while others just wondered when. Today was a win for those who like to wear orange*, when Rickie Fowler beat Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points^ to win the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow. 
It was an impressive finish which saw Fowler stick his approach shot to 4-feet and make the birdie at the first playoff hole. Do we have a new young rivalry, namely McIlroy v Fowler? Quite possibly. with this sort of form, I’d expect them to be facing off against each at some point during the Ryder Cup later this year. 
* Orange is the school colours of his former college, Oklahoma State University. There had to be a reason, why else would you wear those colours from top to bottom? The Dutch excluded.
^ DA stands for Darren Andrew.

 

The 2012 Travelers Championship – A Lot to Look Forward To

Red umbrellas were everywhere yesterday at TPC River Highlands. It was media day for the 2012 Travelers Championship and a light rain fell on the hills and valleys of central Connecticut, making the insurance company’s iconic logo particularly apropos.

The tournament’s defending champion Frederick Jacobson spoke about winning his first PGA Tour title almost a year ago and surmised that the event’s timing… just after US Open week… makes it more relaxing than most. Among today’s top golf stars, Bubba Watson and Hunter Mahan … world number four and five, respectively… have also captured their maiden PGA Tour wins at TPC River Highlands.

The tournament, which this year turns 60, is all about giving back.  With 100 percent of net proceeds going charity, Connecticut’s biggest sporting event has donated over to $30 million thus far. Tournament director Nathan Grube spoke about this focus… and about the entertainment experience a visit to the Travelers Championship provides, not only for golf fans, but also for those not familiar with the game.  That’s something I’ve definitely noticed over the past several years as more and more non-traditional golf activities… for children and adults… have been incorporated into the event.

The course at TPC River Highlands is laid out over a bucolic slice of undulating Connecticut countryside and features what two time winner Stuart Cink called “four of the most exciting finishing holes in the world”.  Playing there yesterday afternoon… even in the chill gray mist of spring… I could feel the excitement of the many Sunday’s I’ve spent at the fan-friendly venue during the championship. (A steady supply of coffee… laced with ample quantities of Baily’s… added requisite warmth).

An awesome field of players has already committed, including… for the first time… GGD favorite Ryo Ishikawa.  I’d been hearing rumors from my friends in Japan, and was happy to have them confirmed in Cromwell yesterday.  We’ll be writing more about the 2012 Travelers Championship in the weeks to come.  In the mean time keep up-to-date on the latest news, get ticket info and peruse photos and videos of past tournaments at travelerschampionship.com

Valero Texas Open: Historic Tournament, Awesome Photo Op

Last month we wrote about the quintessentially Texan Valero Open and it’s impending 90th birthday celebration. Well, the tournament/celebration is now underway. 

Matt Every’s history-making, course-record was a highlight of round one… which certainly gives him reason to celebrate… along with the stellar weather, awesome ancilary activities and ultra-enthusiastic fans, ensure that the excitement will continue through the upcoming weekend.

One of the thing I love most about golf is its unique history, so I’m really enjoying the VTO throwback photos.  They feature, modern day folk… presumably volunteers staffers and fans… posing in old-time golf apparel with golden age golf equipment. The full gallery is on the Valero Texas Open Facebook page as are other timely updates from the San Antonio tournament, and I reccomend you check it out.

If you love golf and can’t make to the Lone Star State, it’s the next best thing to being there.

The Valero Texas Open on Facebook and Twitter

Valero Texas Open: Historic Tournament, Awesome Photo Op

Last month we wrote about the quintessentially Texan Valero Open and its impending 90th birthday celebration. Well, the tournament/celebration is now underway.

Matt Every’s history-making, course-record was a highlight of round one… which certainly gives him reason to celebrate… along with the stellar weather, awesome ancilary activities and ultra-enthusiastic fans, ensure that the excitement will continue through the upcoming weekend.

One of the things I love most about golf is its unique history, so I’m really enjoying the VTO throwback photos.  They feature, modern day folk… presumably volunteers, staffers and fans… posing in old-time golf apparel with golden age golf equipment. The full gallery is on the Valero Texas Open Facebook page as are other timely updates from the San Antonio tournament, and I reccomend you check it out.

If you love golf and can’t make to the Lone Star State, it’s the next best thing to being there.

The Valero Texas Open on Facebook and Twitter

Top 10 all-time longest hitters on the PGA Tour: video

Who has changed the game of golf by hitting the ball a long way?

In celebration of Bubba Watson’s US Masters victory, and for those looking for a little bit of Yin to go with the Yang that was my article on “Ditching the Longest Drive” last week, here is a video courtesy of the PGA Tour, showing the Top 10 all-time long hitters in the history of the PGA TOUR.

Golf Takes the Cake – When a TX Tournament Turns 90

With Tiger back on track and Yani on fire, golf fans have a lot to be excited about as the major season gets underway  …and it looks like the sweetness will extend well beyond the fairways and greens this year, thanks a stellar golf sponsors.

Coming up in mid-April is the unapologetically Texan Valero Texas Open which celebrates its 90th birthday in 2012!  Yes folks, that’s Nine-Oh, which clearly calls for a cake, and to that end the tournament has partnered with Pioneer® Brands

The oldest family-owned business in Texas… and the oldest continuously operated family-owned milling company in the United States… Pioneer® Brands produces a wide variety of baking and seasoning mixes, and for the Valero Texas Open they’ll be hosting a Celebrity Cake-Off

Yesterday in a press conference the details were announced : six local celebrity pastry chefs will partner with six pastry students from St. Philips College Culinary School to create a Valero Open birthday cake. The cake must incorporate various elements of the tournament’s identity, including its three pillars: music, food and military appreciation. Among myriad awesome prizes, the team with the winning cake will earn a $10,000 donation to the charity of their choice. The remaining team’s chosen charities will receive donations ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.

Food Network Star, Duff Goldman will head a panel of celebrity judges, and will also contribute his own version of the VTO birthday cake which will be unveiled following the Cake-Off event on Saturday in the lower lobby of the JW Marriott Resort.

Purchase advance tickets to the Valero Texas Open online at www.valerotexasopen.org or at at participating Valero Corner Store locations. Admission into the Pioneer® Brand Celebrity Cake-Off is free with purchase of Good Any One Day tickets to the tournament.

The event sounds like an awesome way to engage golf fans, their friends and families… and a delicious and creative compliment to the venerable Valero Texas Open.

The Valero Texas Open on Facebook and Twitter

Golf Takes the Cake – When a TX Tournament Turns 90

photo: Pinterest/Aundrea Ambeliotis/Mediterra Bakehouse

With Tiger back on track and Yani on fire, golf fans have a lot to be excited about as the major season gets underway  …and it looks like the sweetness will extend well beyond the fairways and greens this year, thanks to a stellar golf sponsor.

Coming up in mid-April is the unapologetically Texan Valero Texas Open which celebrates its 90th birthday in 2012!  Yes folks, that’s Nine-Oh, which clearly calls for a cake, and to that end the tournament has partnered with Pioneer® Brands.

The oldest family-owned business in Texas… and the oldest continuously operated family-owned milling company in the United States… Pioneer® Brands produces a wide variety of baking and seasoning mixes, and for the Valero Texas Open they’ll be hosting a Celebrity Cake-Off.

Yesterday in a press conference the details were announced : six local celebrity pastry chefs will partner with six pastry students from St. Philips College Culinary School to create a Valero Open birthday cake. The cake must incorporate various elements of the tournament’s identity, including its three pillars: music, food and military appreciation. Among myriad awesome prizes, the team with the winning cake will earn a $10,000 donation to the charity of their choice. The remaining team’s chosen charities will receive donations ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.

Food Network Star, Duff Goldman will head a panel of celebrity judges, and will also contribute his own version of the VTO birthday cake which will be unveiled following the Cake-Off event on Saturday in the lower lobby of the JW Marriott Resort.

Purchase advance tickets to the Valero Texas Open online at www.valerotexasopen.org or at at participating Valero Corner Store locations. Admission into the Pioneer® Brand Celebrity Cake-Off is free with purchase of Good Any One Day tickets to the tournament.

The event sounds like an awesome way to engage golf fans, their friends and families… and a delicious and creative compliment to the venerable Valero Texas Open.

The Valero Texas Open on Facebook and Twitter

Donald returns to world number one

Rory McIlroy’s reign as world number one was short lived as Luke Donald won the Transitions Championship this morning, and assumed his throne once again.
Rory McIlroy takes a week off and look what happens.

Luke Donald won the Transitions Championship this morning which was enough to leap over Rory McIlroy and become golf’s world number one golfer, again. 

Donald won the tournament in dramatic fashion, winning a four-man playoff which included Sang-Moon Bae, Jim Furyk and Robert Garrigus.
It took him just one playoff hole to re-assume his role as number one in the world. The four golfers went back to the 18th hole after finishing on 13-under par with only Garrigus having birdied the hole all week. All four players hit the green in regulation during the playoff hole but only Donald made the birdie putt. Donald fired his ball into about 6-feet with his approach shot and he made the winning putt look easy.
The side story of the morning concerned Ernie Els. Els has not yet qualified for the US Masters and a win at the Transititons Championship would all but assure Els a spot in the field.

He had played the opening 16 holes in 6-under par and was a shot ahead of the field despite missing a short birdie putt on the 16th. He then proceeded to bogey the final two holes, including a short putt for par on the last which excluded him from the playoff.

We then saw one of the worst post-round interview’s of all time when a Golf Channel reporter had the nerve to ask Els if he felt confident over short putts. 
If we were ever going to see a golfer puch a reporter, it was then. Ernie, despite steam coming out his ears, was restrained. He’s a better man than most of us.

Donald returns to world number one

Rory McIlroy’s reign as world number one was short lived as Luke Donald won the Transitions Championship this morning, and assumed his throne once again.
Rory McIlroy takes a week off and look what happens.

Luke Donald won the Transitions Championship this morning which was enough to leap over Rory McIlroy and become golf’s world number one golfer, again. 

Donald won the tournament in dramatic fashion, winning a four-man playoff which included Sang-Moon Bae, Jim Furyk and Robert Garrigus.
It took him just one playoff hole to re-assume his role as number one in the world. The four golfers went back to the 18th hole after finishing on 13-under par with only Garrigus having birdied the hole all week. All four players hit the green in regulation during the playoff hole but only Donald made the birdie putt. Donald fired his ball into about 6-feet with his approach shot and he made the winning putt look easy.
The side story of the morning concerned Ernie Els. Els has not yet qualified for the US Masters and a win at the Transititons Championship would all but assure Els a spot in the field.

He had played the opening 16 holes in 6-under par and was a shot ahead of the field despite missing a short birdie putt on the 16th. He then proceeded to bogey the final two holes, including a short putt for par on the last which excluded him from the playoff.

We then saw one of the worst post-round interview’s of all time when a Golf Channel reporter had the nerve to ask Els if he felt confident over short putts. 
If we were ever going to see a golfer puch a reporter, it was then. Ernie, despite steam coming out his ears, was restrained. He’s a better man than most of us.