The Ryder Cup mess for the US

Phil Mickelson took some heat after publicly calling out Tom Watson for his strategy following another Ryder Cup debacle. For many of us who weren’t following closely, Mickelson came across as being pretty obnoxious.

But then word got out on how Tom Watson had actually behaved, and how poorly he led his team. Watson has always had a sterling reputation, but he came across very badly with how he treated his team. It was amazing to see opinions on this matter shift so quickly, and Watson ended up issuing a statement where he essentially apologized for his behavior.

The upshot is that Mickelson’s criticisms are now being taken very seriously, and the entire process of picking Ryder Cup captains is being evaluated. And that’s a good thing. The performance of team USA has been pretty lame, and it’s time to have a more logical and professional process. Let’s hope that then leads to better play and some wins.

Odds to win The Masters

Here are the odds to win the Masters title this year:

Adam Scott 10/1
Rory McIlroy 10/1
Phil Mickelson 12/1
Jason Day 14/1
Matt Kuchar 18/1
Sergio Garcia 20/1
Dustin Johnson 22/1
Bubba Watson 25/1
Henrik Stenson 25/1
Zach Johnson 28/1

I’m surprised Sergio made it that high as he’s always a lock to choke in big tournaments, but he still has talent.

The Masters won’t be the same without Tiger Woods this year, but let’s hope for a great tournament.

Putting key to Phil Mickelson victory at British Open

The importance of putting was driven home again at the 2013 British Open, as Phil Mickelson was on fire and Tiger Woods continued to struggle with his putter. For Mickelson, this victory gave him his first British Open championship and his fifth major. Mickelson may not be the most consistent golfer of his generation, but he’s certainly dominant at times when his game comes together. He birdied four of the last six holes for his come-from-behind victory as Lee Westwood faded as some predicted.

Meanwhile, Woods is naturally being scrutinized from every possible angle. Many writers are focusing on the fact that Woods has never come from behind on Sunday to win a major championship, but that hardly seems like the most important factor. No, his putter has been letting him down, and that’s keeping him from winning the big ones. When Woods was piling up wins, he was one of the best putters in history. And while he’s facing inuries and some of the same struggles golfers face as they get older, his biggest problem seems to be with his putter. He’s still good, but good is a long way from great.

This only highlights the mental aspect of the game, and we all know that Tiger has had more than his share of distractions. One that comes to mind is the drama with his old caddy Steve Williams. The two shook hands after the conclusion of the Open Championship on Sunday at Muirfield after Tiger was paired up with Adam Scott, and it looked like the beginning of the end of a silly feud, but you have to wonder if the unflappable Woods was flapped around a bit having to play with them on Sunday. We’ll never know of course, but we’re well beyond the point where a Woods victory was assumed by the handicappers setting the golf odds for majors.

Tiger has to deal with an adversary in Mickelson who refuses to fade away. Phil still can’t get over the hump at the US Open, but it’s tough to count him out these days, and he’s pushing himself into the conversation regarding golf’s all-time greats. There’s also a slew of younger golfers in the game who aren’t the least bit intimidated by Woods, who hasn’t won a major in five years!

So it’s great for golf that Tiger is in the mix, but the landscape has certainly changed.

Tiger turbocharges interest in the US Open

There’s nothing like Tiger Woods to get golf fans and the casual sports fan interested in major golf tournaments. Sure, Phil Mickelson gets a lot of attention, like his recent stunt where he quit the Memorial tournament after one lousy round because he was hung over. And you have Bubba Watson, who’s good ‘ol boy approach to the game has earned him a legion of fans, particularly in the South. But Tiger’s dramatic win at the Memorial has vaulted him back to the top of the heap again. Golf betting has been a lot less interesting with Tiger in his slump, so plenty of fans probably spent more time betting other sports or hanging out on Party Poker Television. But with Tiger back it’s safe to speculate that the sportsbooks will be getting plenty of action for the US Open.

With the US Open around the corner, the buzz is starting to get out of control as the experts start handicapping Tiger’s chances. You even have news stories about what Tiger might be wearing at the US Open! Then the news came out that Tiger would be in a group with Phil Michelson and Bubba Watson at the US Open and naturally that fueled even more interest. The powers that be in golf don’t want to waste this renewed interest and want to milk Tiger’s resurgence for all it’s worth.

But Tiger still hasn’t won a major in a long time. The Memorial is a very prestigious tournament since it’s hosted by Jack Nicklaus on his home course and is considered to be an unofficial major by many. But it’s still not the US Open, and Tiger needs to demonstrate that he can rise to the occasion again on the biggest stage. He has certainly changed his game, as he’s used his driver much less in order to improve his accuracy, but that also takes away a huge advantage he had over the field in the past. If a big hitter like Watson gets hot at the open, then Tiger will have an uphill battle.

For all of us golf fans, this will be very fun to watch!

Can Phil do it?

Phil Mickelson was on fire yesterday, and today he has a chance to win his fourth green jacket at The Masters, tying Tiger Woods. Should be a great day at Augusta National!

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