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.


Woods & Mickelson Looking to The Masters

The two most popular golfers in the world today are Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and it just so happens they are two of the favorites in golf betting lines to win The Masters. Mickelson is off to a hot start this season as he already has a win on the PGA Tour while Woods is playing better than he has in a long time. Could we get another Tiger-Phil duel in The Masters?

Earlier this month it was Mickelson beating Woods at Pebble Beach in a final round that got great ratings on CBS television. It was the best ratings for a final round of any non-major golf tournament since 2008. When Woods and Mickelson are both in contention to win a tournament, viewers are drawn to the drama. It could be that we get more excitement from the two of them in The Masters.

Tiger and Phil have combined to win 7 of the last 15 Masters. One of the two is almost always in contention to win the biggest prize in golf. Tiger is still trying to recover the great form he had a few years ago while Phil has already proven this year he has what it takes to win golf’s first major. Mickelson has now beaten Woods the last five times they have been paired together in the final round of a golf tournament. Woods still has won a lot more majors than Mickelson but recently it is Phil who is playing better and who has showed he can win. Mickelson has actually relished playing with Woods as he has won three of the last five tournaments he has been paired with Tiger in the final round. “Although I feel like he brings out the best in me, it’s only been the past five years,” Mickelson said. “Before, I got spanked pretty good. Let’s not forget the big picture here. I’ve been beat up.” Mickelson has won four majors in his career while Woods has won 14 majors.

Looking at the golf betting lines we find that Tiger is the favorite to win The Masters followed by Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson. Those three players are well clear of all of the other golfers in the field. The current World Golf rankings definitely don’t reflect the odds as world #1 Luke Donald is not considered a favorite nor is world #3 Lee Westwood. McIlroy is ranked #2 in the world so his place as a favorite is no surprise but the two golfers getting the most attention are Woods and Mickelson and neither is ranked in the top five in the world.


New OWGR List Indicates New Era of Golf

Americans are shut completely out of the top four in the golf rankings and there are just three Yanks in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking. With the era of Tiger Woods ruling the charts with an iron fist or nine iron that is, it is important to recognize the new breed from Europe that is here to stay.

Luke Donald and Lee Westwood of England are ranked one and two respectively on the Official World Golf Ranking. The Englishmen are separated by less than 3 points with Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland third, Martin Kaymer of Germany fourth, and then Americans Steve Stricker and Webb Simpson fifth and sixth. Adam Scott of Australia is seventh, Dustin Johnson of American is ninth, with South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel of South Africa ninth and Jason Day of Australia tenth.

Donald was the PGA Tour money title winner as he had two wins and 14 top ten finishes in 2011 with over $6.6 million in winnings. His biggest win last year was the World Golf Championships – Accenture Match Play Championship.

Westwood has primarily concentrated on the European Tour but will have his busiest PGA Tour schedule ever in 2012. Westwood has just two2 PGA Tour wins with 27 top ten finishes out of 146 events played.

Rory McIlroy has emerged as one of the most popular European players on the PGA Tour in America. He was the winner of the U.S. Open last year and made the cut in 7 out of 10 events on the PGA Tour last year.

Martin Kaymer caught the attention of the PGA Tour last year with his win in the World Golf Championships – HSBC Champions. Kaymer made the cut in 8 out of 10 PGA Tour events last year. Kaymer was also dominant on the European Tour and is considered to be one of the most promising players of the future.

Stricker is the one American that commands respect as being a world class player. He has 12 career wins and he finished 2nd in the FedExCup rankings last year.


Tiger’s Fall Symbolizes America’s Decline as Well

America is in decline in many ways from its economy to its culture and self-confidence but also on the golf course. Tiger Woods symbolized American greatness and glory both on and off the course, or so the image portrayed, but his fall is emblematic of the current state of golf which is being dominated by European players. Beyond that, the European Tour is quietly becoming more important and of a higher quality than the PGA Tour in the States.

The Official World Golf Ranking has England’s Luke Donald as the number one player. Donald won two PGA Tour events this year at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic and the World Golf Championships Accenture Match Play Championship. He earned over $6.6 million this year on the PGA Tour.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Island is the number two player on the Official World Golf Rankings. McIlroy has become one of the most popular players on the PGA Tour and is a big hit with American fans. He won the US Open this year and competed in just ten PGA Tour events as he focuses primarily on the European Tour.

Lee Westwood of England is 3rd on The Official World Golf Ranking despite winning just one PGA Tour event over the past 5 years. Westwood tied for 3rd in the US Open for his best finish on the PGA Tour in 2011. Westwood dominates the European Tour and this is what makes his ranking so high.

Germany’s own Martin Kaymer is ranked 4th on the Official World Golf Ranking and like the players ahead of him, he concentrates primarily on the European Tour. Kaymer did win the 2011 World Golf Championships HSBC Champions event.

The best American is Steve Stricker, who ranks 5th on the Official World Golf Ranking and was the winner of two PGA events this year with The Memorial and the John Deere Classic. Stricker has yet to be a winner vs. the golf odds at a major tournament.

As for Tiger, he has fallen all the way down to 50th on the Official World Golf Ranking after reigning atop the board for many years. Woods last won a tournament in 2009 and finished a humiliating 132nd on the PGA Tour last year. Tiger’s career has been in a shambles with physical injuries and the mental strain of his wrecked marriage and personal life that tarnished his carefully cultivated image. Many wonder if he will ever be the same again.

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