Saturday, June 30

Ochoa, Sorenstam and Pressel Earn ESPY Nominations

From LPGA.com:

Rolex Rankings world number one Lorena Ochoa led a trio of three LPGA players who earned ESPY nominations on Monday, garnering nominations in the categories of Best Female Athlete, Best International Female Athlete and Best Golfer. Annika Sorenstam, a two-time Best Female Athlete ESPY honoree, joins Ochoa in the hunt for the Best International Female Athlete honor, while Morgan Pressel's win at the Kraft Nabisco Championship put her in the race for Best Breakthrough Athlete.

The ESPYS will be televised on ESPN Sunday, July 15, at 9 p.m. ET.

You can vote here.

The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, June 28

U.S. Women's Open: Is Annika Sorenstam a Factor?

Coming back from a serious injury with only two tournaments under her belt, Annika Sorenstam would appear to be a part of the supporting cast at this week's U.S. Women's Open as emerging LPGA stars such as Lorena Ochoa, Suzann Pettersen and Morgan Pressel attract increasing interest.

But a Reuters article stated, “Sorenstam cannot be overlooked. She is the defending champion and if she can capture the coveted trophy, she will join Mickey Wright and Betsy Rawls as four-time winners.”

I tend to agree. Experience is a huge factor in majors, especially in the Open. It would be unwise to dismiss Sorenstam. After all, she owns three U.S. Women's Open titles and has won a total of 10 majors. In fact, just a year ago people were questioning Annika's abilities when she snatched the Open trophy from Pat Hurst, Michelle Wie and others.

(Of course, she wasn't returning from an injury at the time.)

Currently there is a weather delay, but Sorenstam is off to a good start: 1 under after five holes. Veterans Juli Inkster and Laura Davies are also at 1 under and still out on the course.

Angela Park is the clubhouse leader with a 68. Lorena Ochoa, Cristie Kerr, Morgan Pressel and Brittany Lincicome have all completed their first round at even-par 71.

The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, June 26

Win a Set of PING G5 Golf Clubs

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Good luck. If I don't win, I hope you do.

The Armchair Golfer

Sunday, June 24

Lorena Ochoa Rallies to Win Wegmans

It looked all too familiar. Lose a lead. Get in a playoff.

But there was a new ending, thankfully, for Lorena Ochoa, who halted a winless record in playoffs by beating 19-year-old In-Kyung Kim on the second hole of sudden death at the Wegmans LPGA.

It was Ochoa’s second win in three years at the event, and extended her year’s winnings to more than $1.5 million. Lorena pulled out the victory by overcoming a three-shot deficit over the last two holes of regulation play. Then, at last, came her playoff breakthrough.

“This is really a good turning point winning a playoff,” Ochoa told the Associated Press. As for the upcoming U.S. Women's Open, she said, “I like my chances for next week.”

The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, June 21

Golfless in Hilton Head

(Photo: PlatinumGolf.com)

“Gee, they sure have a lot of golf courses here,” I said, as we drove on to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, this evening.

(I knew that.)

But golf isn’t going to happen on this trip. I didn’t bring my clubs. Well, actually I did bring my putter, golf shoes, two sleeves of golf balls and my golf glove on the chance I’d play with my friend in St. Petersburg. In that case, I would have borrowed or rented clubs. No big deal.

Frankly, when you go on vacation with a wife, two daughters and their personal effects it can be difficult to find room for golf clubs. I’m not complaining, although I would have liked to play one round.

Hilton Head was a spontaneous decision as we headed home today for the Blue Ridge Mountains. Tomorrow we might spend the day on the island, or we’ll head straight for the mountains.

Either way, I’ll try not to drool too much as we pass the nearby fairways and golf resorts.

The Armchair Golfer

Monday, June 18

Watching the U.S. Open in St. Petersburg

I missed Tiger Woods' stellar 69 on Saturday. Too bad. I was driving from the Florida Panhandle to St. Petersburg, a 400-plus mile trek along I-10 and I-75.

However, I didn’t miss anything important on Sunday from 2:30 p.m. until the trophy presentation. I watched the final round with my friend Aly while our wives and kids spent the afternoon at the swimming pool.

“Why are the announcers wearing dark suits and ties?” Aly said. “They’re not dressed like golfers.”

I was so consumed by the golf that I hadn’t noticed.

“Because dark suits are what people wear to funerals,” I joked.

Indeed, the final round at Oakmont was like a funeral procession. Each player’s hopes died a slow (or fast), painful death. (Except for an Angel.) As is always the case at the U.S. Open, it was agonizing to watch. And, at the same time, riveting.

I really thought Tiger Woods would win. I’m not at all surprised that Jim Furyk came close (again). And I loved the way Angel Cabrera just went out and took it. He was the best yesterday and a joy to watch.

The Armchair Golfer

More final thoughts on the U.S. Open at: Down the Middle

Thursday, June 14

Why Tiger Woods Will Win the U.S. Open

(BBC Sport Photo)

Tiger Woods shot a 71 in today's opening round of the U.S. Open at Oakmont. It's a good start for Tiger. He did a pretty decent job of hitting fairways and greens. And Tiger had 30 putts, not exactly burning up the greens but respectable.

We all know that when Tiger starts well the rest of the tournament (especially if it's a major) can go his way.

However, something else reminded me of why Tiger will win the U.S. Open. I just saw John Feinstein interviewed on Charlie Rose. Feinstein was talking about his new book, Tales from Q School.

Rose asked Feinstein what separated the first-tier PGA Tour players from everyone else. One thing Feinstein mentioned was putting. Then Feinstein cited this statistic: Tiger Woods attempted 485 putts within 5 feet of the hole on the PGA Tour in 2005. Tiger made all of them. ALL OF THEM.

(Ponder that for a moment.)

If Tiger does a reasonable job of controlling his golf ball from tee to green this week, putting will make the difference. Tiger will make those nerve-wracking par putts. While others will be wishing them into the hole, Tiger will be willing them into the hole.

If you watched any of the coverage today, you know there will be a bundle of putts in the throw-up range. The one who makes the most putts wins.

The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, June 13

Where to Play Golf Near Destin

A loyal reader of this blog offered me some timely tips about where to play golf while I'm vacationing near Destin, Florida. Bob is lucky enough to live nearby and knows the local golf scene.

This from Bob:

"I don't know if you'll be playing golf while you're here, but if you do, may I suggest that you give FWB (Fort Walton Beach) Municipal a try. It is by far one of the best-kept public courses that I've ever seen.

"How they do it with all the play they get is beyond me, but it would be a bargain at twice the price. Kelly Plantation is another super layout, although about three times as expensive as FWB."

Thanks, Bob!

The Armchair Golfer

U.S. Open coverage on Oakmont's treacherous greens today at: Down the Middle

Monday, June 11

743 Miles from Home

(Photo: destin-resort.com)

The Gulf of Mexico is emerald green and calm. It's the middle of the day and we're taking a break from the pool and beach. Vacation near Destin on the Florida Panhandle. My mind has already turned to mush.

I just read that Adam Scott blew to a 75 in the final round at Memphis. Not good, unless you're Woody Austin, who smoked the field with a 62. Congrats to Suzann Pettersen for her win at the McDonald's LPGA Championship. Redemption is sweet.

I am supposed to make my U.S. Open picks and send them to Mulligan Stu by tomorrow. I doubt that it will happen. I haven't done any serious analysis. Not that it would help.

The Armchair Golfer

Friday, June 8

20 Great Shots from the 2006 U.S. Open

Great shots as in photographs. They bring back memories of last year's U.S. Open drama -- and tragedy, if you're Phil Mickelson.

Viewing the photos reminded me of the super cast at Winged Foot. Phil Mickelson. Jim Furyk. Ian Poulter. Geoff Ogilvy. Tiger Woods. Colin Montgomerie. David Duval. Kenneth Ferrie. (Remember him? The guy with the Superman belt buckle.) Vijay Singh. Camilo Villegas.

Check them out: 20 great shots

Who's ready for Oakmont?

The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, June 6

Are the Golf Gods Smiling on Me?

Yesterday two strangely coincidental golf things happened:

1. My 2008 Masters Tournament Practice Rounds Ticket Application arrived in the mail.

2. My 2008 Ryder Cup Ticket Application was sent to me via email.

(Both are random drawings.)

Look, I'm not superstitious. But maybe this means something. Maybe next year will be my year for the Masters or the Ryder Cup. Or both.

I could tell you how to apply, but that might hurt my chances. No, I'm not like that. To apply for tickets (practice rounds only for the Masters), go to Masters tickets or Ryder Cup tickets.

The Masters deadline is July 15, so don't dawdle. You have until the end of September to apply for Ryder Cup tickets.

The Armchair Golfer

Today at MVN's Down the Middle: Jack Fleck Wields Hot Putter

Monday, June 4

Lorena Ochoa Stumbles Down the Stretch

“It ain't over until it's over,” Yogi Berra famously said.

I was reminded of this Yogiism again yesterday as I turned off the Ginn Tribute late in the final round. Lorena Ochoa, the world's No. 1 lady golfer, was cruising to another victory with three holes to play.

I had watched my Sunday afternoon quota of golf and headed into the kitchen to rustle up some dinner for the kiddos.

Later, I was shocked to learn Nicole Castrale won in a one-hole playoff.

Lorena bogeyed two of the last three holes and then hit her drive in a marsh on the playoff hole. Her record is 0-4 in playoffs. She must be smarting from giving one away.

“I need to learn to win in the tough ones. For sure I need to improve my playoff percentages,” she told the Associated Press.

Friday, June 1

Oops! Armchair Golf Misquotes Bill Gates

“We are not even close to finishing the basic dream of what golf can be.”
(not said by) Bill Gates

Note:
Bill Gates works part-time for Microsoft.

This misquote brought to you by The Armchair Golfer.
Getting it wrong for the love of the game.