Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The 2009 Masters: The Anticipation Grows

With less than 2 weeks to go before the first major of the year, the 2009 Masters has already started to dominate the newswires, networks and golf websites. Tiger’s win at the 2009 Arnold Palmer Invitational has set the stage for the most anticipated golf tournament of the year.

The Masters already comes with its own brand of excitement. Arguably the hardest ticket to get in sports golfers from around the globe are fixated to their television sets to catch a glimpse of the lush green fairways and colorful azaleas at cover Augusta National Golf Club. But this year is a bit different. There are some very compelling storylines were created by Tiger’s absence in 2008.

With a victory at Augusta National Padrig Harrington is poised to capture his 3rd consecutive major title. Wouldn’t that be one for the record books? If Harrington manages to do that he will have a special note added to his accomplishment, he did it during the Tiger Era. Padrig finished in a tied for 5th in the 2008 Masters and figures to be a factor again this year.

How can you forget about the Phil Mickelson? With 2 wins already under his belt in 2009, the 3-time major winner and 2-time Masters champion has to be considered a frontrunner this year. Phil’s game seems to be coming around despite some inconsistent play at times he has managed to have a stellar year so far. But when you talk about Phil Mickelson sporadic play comes with the territory. I expect Phil to play well and maybe golf fans can get a much anticipated Mickelson/Woods final pairing on Sunday.

The one person that many people are not talking about is former champion Zach Johnson. Zach has had a solid year to say the least. He won the Sony Open in Hawaii, Finished Tied for 6th at the season opening Mercedes Championship and finished tied for 3rd in last weeks Arnold Palmer Invitational. If there is one thing I know, Zach knows to win at Augusta. In 2007 Johnson stared down Tiger Woods, stuck to his game plan and emerged as a Masters Champion. I have feeling Zach Johnson will make some noise at this years Masters Tournament.

Last but not least how can I leave out the defending champion Trevor Immelman? His best finish this year is a tie for 19th at the Transitions Championship. Despite the fact that he hasn’t had a great year so far he is still a factor. Let’s face it, he didn’t have a great year last year and he still won the 2008 Masters. In fact Immelman missed the cut a week before at the Shell Houston Open. So his current play is not a clear indication of what will happen at Augusta. The fact that he is the defending champion and that he has an opportunity to win back to back majors might be the spark he needs to walk away with his second green jacket.

As the 2009 Masters Tournament approaches and the anticipation builds, more and more speculation will surface, but one thing is for sure, this year will be a special one at Augusta National Golf Club

(images courtesy of Getty Images)

"keep it in the short grass"
Edward S. Wanambwa

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tiger is back!! Woods Wins at Bayhill

The legend that is Tiger Woods continues to grow. Woods came to the 72nd hole of the 2009 Arnold Palmer Invitational tied with Sean O’hair at 4-under par. As darkness began to descend on the Bayhill Club and Lodge in Orlando, FL, Woods stood over a 15 foot birdie putt for his first win since returning to the PGA Tour from season ending knee surgery after the 2008 U.S. Open.

Tiger stepped up to his ball and with his steely determination and grit he rolled the putt into the center of the cup and claimed his 6th Arnold Palmer Invitational title and his 66th career PGA Tour win. What makes this win so amazing if how eerily reminiscent it is to his victory in last years Arnold Palmer Invitational when he rolled in a 22 ft 2 inch putt for birdie to defeat Bart Bryant on the 72nd hole.

As I watched the tournament I couldn’t help but think back to the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Club in La Jolla, CA. Tiger made two clutch putts on the 18th hole in the final round and the playoff against Rocco Mediate to claim his 14th Major Title. What is it about Tiger Woods and big putts? Does he just have an innate ability to make the big putts when it counts?

I am sure the replays of Tigers winning putt on the 18th green can be seen over and over again on every major television and cable outlet, but in my opinion the most crucial putt Tiger made yesterday was a 15 foot par putt for at the 15th hole that kept him in the hunt for the title. Time and time again Tiger has proven that he is one of the greatest par putters in the games history. I was also impressed by his third shot into the par 4 16th hole. After hitting an errant drive into the deep rough, Tiger punched out and left himself 101 yards from the hole. He took a wedge and hit an amazing shot to within 2 feet of the cup and again made a great par putt. The winning putts and shots make for great theatre and memories, but it’s the up and downs and big par and even bogey putts that get lost in
the shuffle.

Tiger Woods continues to cement his name into the folklore of modern sports. Woods has reached a pantheon of greatness that very few athletes have ever attained. Names like Jordan, Gretzky and Armstrong come to mind when I think of athletes that have transcended their sports to become iconic figures in the hearts and minds of sports fans everywhere.

As the first Major of the year approaches in less than 2 weeks, all eyes will on Tiger Woods and Augusta National Golf Club. Now that we know that the knee is fine and that Tigers game has returned to form, will we witness Tiger win his 5th green Jacket and his 15th major at the 2009 Masters? Well, only time will tell and I will be there to tell you all about it.

(images courtesy of Getty)

"keep it in the short grass"

Edward S. Wanambwa
Golfwiz Blog

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Golf Wiz Blog: On The Links

Here Goes:

Sean O'Hair

As I watched the post round coverage of the 2009 Arnold Palmer Invitational, I started to hear the word "choked" in reference to Sean O'Hair's performance in the final round. The usual golf pundits were suggesting that Sean choked and that Tiger Woods didn't really Win the tournament. I couldn't disagree more. Sean O'Hair had a great tournament and showed that he is one of the top players on tour. A two time winner on the PGA Tour and the 28th ranked player in the world is pretty good in my opinion. The simple fact is that there might be a " Tiger Factor" on Sundays coming down the stretch and maybe Sean pressed a little yesterday when he saw that Tiger was making a run. But he is no different for all the other players that have flinched when they saw Tiger in the rear view mirror.

As for yesterday, both Tiger and Sean made key mistakes. Sean's 2nd shot in the water at the 16th hole and Tigers tee shot that plugged in the bunker on the 17th hole proved that they were in duel all the way down the to the end. Tiger did not run away with this tournament by any means and Sean O'Hair played very well. The bottom line is Tiger made the putts he had to make. Great tournament Sean, you came up short but keep up the good play and it will pay off.

Michelle Wie:

What else can happen to this poor girl. The William Morris Agency dropped her as a client after her overbearing and misguided " Team Wie" tried to work a side deal without WMA's knowledge. It's bad enough she is trying to learn how to win on the golf course and she still has to deal with all these off course issues. Michelle Wie is a very talented golfer. She has all the shots and all the skills needed to be a winner on the LPGA Tour. She just needs to play and have the off the course circus take a hike.

Golfers and White Pants:

Can anyone tell me where I can find some white golf pants ? I have noticed the increase in professional golfers wearing white pants. I know its the trend but it scares me as well. I mean what if you are your local club and big ole bubba strolls out to the first tee with his tighty whiteys on ! I mean wow could you imagine having to follow that group all day !

I like to be as fashionable as everyone else but lets keep it real golfers haven't always been trendsetters when it comes to fashion. Even Tiger Woods who looks like he stepped off a page of GQ magazine everytime he plays, came on tour wearing clothes that looked like they belonged to his older brother.

His shirts were 2 sizes too big and color schemes were a bit bland. But look at him now. He looks like a Greek God in his finely taliored Tiger apparrel. His shirts are still that same size, but his biceps have grown 3 sizes so the shirts fit.

Please think about your playing partners and the general public before you don your super tight, ultra white golf slacks. Lets keep it a family game !

"keep it in the short grass"

Edward S. Wanambwa
Golfwiz Blog
images courtesy of Getty Images, Robert Beck/SI and Adidas

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Virginia Is For Golfers

Virginia’s Eastern shore is arguably the best vacation destination in the mid-Atlantic that no on knows about. This picturesque and historic region is a must visit destination for any one who wants rest, relaxation and

Nestled between the beautiful shorelines of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean; Cape Charles is the heart and soul of the Eastern Shore. Founded in 1884 Cape Charles served as major railway and ferry port providing access to Norfolk, VA. Capes Charles is a quaint and scenic town that offers fine dining, luxurious accommodations and great golf courses.

Bay Creek resort located on the southern most tip of Virginia’s eastern shore. Featuring two-world class golf course Bay Creek has some of the most challenging and beautiful golf holes in the country. Holes 2,3 and 4 on the Palmer course are located along the bay and it’s hard to worry about your score when you are greeted with breathtaking seaside views.

The Arnold Palmer Signature Course, a par-72 course measuring 7,244 yards from the back has been recognized as one of magazine's Top Ten You Can Play. This dynamic layout offers players with a layout with large receptive greens that require precise shots from sloping and undulating fairways. Accuracy from the tee is critical on the Palmer course.
The Jack Nicklaus course Par 72 measuring 7417 from the back tees is a stunning design that challenges a player’s shot making ability. Wide fairways make for generous landing areas, but the challenging greens on the Nicklaus course and over 100 bunkers make for an exciting round of golf.

Bay Creek adds a special flair for both history and nature. Under the guidance and direction of developer and founder of Dickie Foster, visitors at Bay Creek enjoy a great round of golf surrounded by over 40,000 blooming roses on both the Palmer and Nicklaus courses. Bay Creek has established it self and one of the nations top golf and vacation destinations and a visit to Virginia’s Eastern Shore is incomplete with a playing a golf at Bay Creek Resort and Club.

Located in Virginia Beach is Bay Creek’s sister coursing The Signature at West Neck. An Arnold Palmer design that consistently ranks as one of the top courses on the east coast. This 7010-yard layout is a shining example of Arnold Palmers design philosophy.

“We wanted to design a course where the average golfer can come out and spend a day with his family and have a good time enjoying the game of golf. Sure, we want to make it difficult enough where good players will be challenged, but our main focus is on the average golfer. We’re also careful to preserve the natural beauty of the place. We don’t look at it as taking away from the environment, but more like giving something back.” Says Palmer. The Signature Course at West neck is a masterpiece of golf course design and a must play for any trip to Virginia.

Located in Williamsburg, is Kingsmill Resort and Spa. This Anheuser-Busch Companies owned property is nestled along the banks of the James River and offers 3 championship golf courses. The Plantation Course, The Woods Course and the world famous River Course make Kingsmill an excellent and rewarding golf destination.
The Arnold palmer designed Plantation Course offers large greens, spacious fairways and beautiful backdrops of the James River. The 6,432-yard, par-72 course requires good drives and accurate iron shots. Water comes into play on 8 holes and the thickly wooded fairways and high rough place a premium on accuracy.
The Tom Clark designed Woods course is a 6,659-yard layout that offers a mixture of challenging holes that make for an exciting and enjoyable golfing experience. Rated as one of America’s top golf destinations this course is sure bet if you like a fair but challenging layout.

The signature cours
e at Kingsmill Resort and Spa is the River Course. For the past 22 years, this magnificent course has played host of the LPGA The Michelob Championship. The breathtaking layout meanders along the banks of the James River and was recently voted the # 6 golf course in Virginia. After playing a round at the river course visitors are sure to want to play again. It’s a golfers dream.

Virginia might be better known for it’s rich history and beautiful landscapes. But Virginia has also established itself and premier golf destination. Virginia’s motto is the Virginia is for lovers, but after playing golf at these fantastic golf courses, I would venture to say that Virginia is for golfers too.

"Keep it in the short grass"
Edward S. Wanambwa
Golfwiz Blog