January 17, 2013 - 12:16pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Tiger Woods
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Tiger Woods moments before topping a tee shot in Abu Dhabi.

Chances are you were sleeping last night when Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods teed it up in the first round of the 2013 HSBC Golf Championship in Abu Dhabi -- nine hours ahead for those of you in the eastern time zone.

The golf from the top-2 players in the world wasn't magnificent by any means. McIlroy, in his first competitive round with his new Nike equipment, turned in a disappointing 3-over 73, while the world No. 2 Woods shot an even-par 72.

However, if you thought there's no way you could possibly relate to arguably the best golfer of all time in Woods, think again.

Playing the first hole -- his 10th of the day -- Woods flat-out topped his tee shot. We've all been there, right?

Alistair Tait of Golfweek actually witnessed the shot in person. Here's what he wrote about the un-Tiger-like tee shot:

Woods hit a drive that would have embarrassed many high-handicappers. He hit an inch behind the ball and watched as it fell short of the fairway. The ball traveled only about 150 yards. Woods' fairway metal approach still came up 20 yards short, and he failed to get up-and-down for par.

"My whole game plan was to hit 3-iron or 5-wood on that hole," Woods said. "I changed my game plan and wasn't committed to the shot. I didn't want to hit it. I was really fighting over that tee shot and should have backed off it."

Kudos to Geoff Shackelford who has video of the Tiger blunder. Click here to see it.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.

January 17, 2013 - 11:13am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Mark Wilson
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Mark Wilson is the defending champion of the Humana Challenge.

Jessica Isner, a featured columnsist for BleacherReport.com, put together a nice primer to get you prepared for the start of the Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation, which starts today in La Quinta, Calif.

Isner offers up some players to watch, highlights some notable tee times and predicts the winner.

Check out Isner's round up here.

January 15, 2013 - 10:05am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Tiger Woods
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When it comes to, "most intimidating golfers to be paired with," Tiger Woods seems like a natural for the list.

People who enjoy golf are often asked, "Who would make up your dream foursome?"

Among that foursome, you're bound to find at least one well-known, or even legendary professional golfer. But, if you take a closer look, you might just see that a particular, high-profile professional might actually be the last person you want to be paired with.

Why?

Easy. It's the intimidation factor.

Mike Dudurich, a featured columnist for BleacherReport.com, takes a look at 10 of the most intimidating players to be paired with in golf history. It's a pretty cool list and Dudurich even provides a reason for what makes each of these entries so intimidating.

Of course, if any of them are in your dream foursome, chances are they'd be a little nicer. Perhaps flattered, but all the while knowing they don't have to worry about your game. They're going to crush you anyway!

Here's how Dudurich begins the list:

Intimidation can manifest itself in a number of ways, whether it’s a look or an action or an attitude.

Because of that, a list of the most intimidating golfers to be paired with might contain quite a variety of names.The intimidation of Tiger Woods is not necessarily the same sort that Hale Irwin used to have.

Click here to check out the list.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.

January 14, 2013 - 10:34am
Posted by:
John Kim
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Nike Golf
Courtesy Nike Golf
Nike brings back the old Michael Jordan - Larry Bird theme to announce Rory joining Tiger.

It was golf's worst kept secret but today it's official - Rory McIlroy has signed with Nike Golf.  And to herald the partnership, Nike has unveiled one of the coolest golf ads we've seen in a long time.  

You can see it here.

 

January 14, 2013 - 8:36am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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John Daly
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John Daly's booming drives used to make him a novelty on the PGA Tour. Now, however, smashing drives are the norm.

Ben Alberstadt, a featured columnist on BleacherReport.com, has an interesting piece that focuses in on why it is that the distance the golf ball travels is ruining golf.

Alberstadt writes:

Although many believe that the 2004 USGA decision regarding driver head size and maximum COR quashed the issue of increasing driving distance on the PGA Tour, this is not the case. Further, the "distance plateau" -- that is, the fact that the driving distance of the top players on tour has only increased marginally from that point until the present—is a red herring.

As Karen Crouse of the New York Times explains, although the top players on tour have been constant with an average of about 315 yards off the tee, the averages of the moderately-long hitters on tour have increased substantially: "In 1997, the 50th-ranked player averaged 272.3 yards. By 2002, the distance had risen to 285.0. In 2012, it was 294.7."

This points to a fundamental shift in the way the game is played at the professional level: the bomb-and-gouge player (typified by John Daly) is becoming the rule, rather than the exception.

Shotmaking, on life support for the past 20 years, is now surely dead and the tour has become a pitch-and-putt exhibition of booming drives and high-lofted approach shots.
 
To read all of Alberstadt's interesting piece, click here.

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.

January 13, 2013 - 11:46pm
Posted by:
John Holmes
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Colin Montgomerie, Thomas Bjorn, Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley
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Colin Montgomerie (l), Paul McGinley (r) and Darren Clarke (second r) all likely will be discussed as potential 2014 Ryder Cup captains by the European Tour Tournament Committee, which is chaired by Thomas Bjorn (second l).

The European Tour’s powerful Tournament Committee meets Tuesday evening at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, and could select the 2014 European Ryder Cup captain at that get-together. With that possibility looming, the world of European golf was overflowing with Ryder Cup chatter.

It’s not clear how much input that Rory McIlroy has, but he capped off the weekend by voicing his opinion in favor of Paul McGinley.

"Ryder Cup captaincy should be a 1-time thing," the Northern Irishman said on Twitter. "Everybody deserving gets their chance and moves on. Would love to play under Paul McGinley in '14."

That makes it clear that McIlroy doesn’t support two of the names floating about – victorious 2010 Captain Colin Montgomerie and victorious 2012 Captain Jose Maria Olazabal.

Olazabal, for his part, shot down his own trial balloon as soon as it was floated.

"I would never do it again," Olazabal said in Durban, South Africa, where he was competing in the Volvo Golf Champions. "First of all it's a lot of energy and time, a huge demand and the pressure is quite big. It's a different pressure, not one we are used to out there playing on the course. The media scrutinize everything you say and every possibility.

"On top of that, I've done it and it couldn't have been any better," he added, as he noted that there are enough good candidates in the pipeline so that no captain should serve more than once. "Even if it was held in Spain again somewhere down the line I, wouldn't do it."

Montogmerie, however, said he would serve again if asked, and his name seemed to rise to the top of the possibilities list, just ahead of McGinley and Darren Clarke.

"I am excited and honored and very flattered really that my name's been put in the frame," said Montgomerie, who also played in the Volvo Golf Champions.

"I've always said that we need the best man for the job, whoever that is," he added. "And if we're going for the best man for the job, then that doesn't say you shouldn't do it again."

For what it's worth, Montgomerie didn't campaign for the 2010 job, and was somewhat of a surprise choice because his name was brought up so late in the selection process. At the time the prevailing opinion was that he would get the 2014 job we're talking about now because the Ryder Cup will be played at Gleneagles in his native Scotland.

Clarke himself recently raised the possibility of a second go-round for Montgomerie while also essentially taking himself out of contention for 2014.

"As much as I would dearly love to be captain, this may not be my time," he said. "I won one of the biggest prizes in golf by winning The Open and I am exempt for another three years (in the States).

"If I was given the opportunity to do the captaincy, I'd effectively be throwing two of those years away," he added. "I'm still wrestling with it. It's a tough one for me, but to be honest with you I want to play golf."

For the last year or so, Clarke has been favored to serve as captain for the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, and that seems more of a possibility now. There is also the possibility that Europe could go ahead and name its 2014 and 2016 captains at the same time – Ian Woosnam (2006) Nick Faldo (2008) were named at the same time back in 2005.

About the only voice not heard this weekend was McGinley's, and it seems like he and Monty now stand as the top two options. Making things even more interesting is that both Monty and McGinley are on the Tournament Committee, so they'll have front-row seats for whatever goes down.