Tiger’s back on top, but where’s the European Challenge coming from?

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A confident, steady Tiger Woods cruised at Bay Hill and reclaimed the No. 1 ranking. But his comeback won’t be complete until he wins that elusive 15th major championship, writes Golf Magazine’s Alan Bastable.

Zebedeerox‘s insight:

It grates me to say it, but Tiger Woods is back.  But why do I feel this way?

For the first time since I’ve been commentating on golf, Tiger’s at the top of the Official World Golf Rankings.

Last time he was there, my wife and I were sat in our appartment in Tenerife watching the miners being lifted out of a collapsed mine in Chile.

Lee Westwood knocked Tiger off the top of golf’s world rankings and the number one spot, despite changing hands a few times, has not lef the UK since.

That was until Monday, when Tiger Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill for the 8th time in his career and hardly broke sweat to do it.

The only other golfers who look capable of reigning in Tiger at the moment are Brandt Snedeker and Justin Rose.

Whilst the media have been concentrating on ‘the comeback’, Brandt and Justin are making their own inroads in the OWGR almost under the radar.

True enough, with his win at Bayhill, Tiger has dumped Snedeker off the top of the Fedex Cup leaderboard as well as usurping Rory McIlroy at the top of the OWGR.

But just look where Snedeker and Rose are.  Snedeker’s holding onto second in the Fedex Cup and has climbed to fifth in the OWGR.

English: in 2007 Esperanto: en la jaro 2007

Tiger Woods back to 2007 form? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Justin Rose is now third in the OWGR, becoming the highest placed English golfer in the world.

I’m not certain, but I suspect with Westwood and Donald’s jaunts as world number one over the past three years, it’s the first time Rose has held that lofty position.

But this is where it grates.  This is where it hurts, being a European golf fan.

Where has the challenge been from McIlroy, Donald and Westwood to stop what’s seemingly an unchallenged domination of golf by arguably the greatest golfer of all time in Woods?

They shared the top three places for so long – and by such a distance – it seems unthinkable that Luke Donald could now be sitting in fourth and Lee Westwood a lowly thirteenth in the OWGR.

Will there be a Major winner from the Eastern Atlantic shores in 2013?  Or will US golf dominate?

Will someone other than Justin from UK Golf show that they’re interested in winning a title this year?  Yes, I’d love to see Justin pick up a major – he’s the most deserving golfer from Europe by a long shot.

But honestly, a Rose by any other name would smell as sweet…

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Super6 Week 24 Predictions and post-cut round-up Abu Dhabi

Oh, the best laid plans of mice and men.  In good faith I promised the rest of our Super 6 predictions in the middle of the week.

With snow, scaffold, workmen and disruption we were no sooner getting the rest of the predictions on for Week 24 than any other week.

At least the delay has presented the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone: the rest of the Super 6 predictions and a round up of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after Round 3.

Let’s start with the predictions of the rest of my Motley Crew (you can find my week 24 predictions, here). Herewith:

How unreal is this? Micky D and Ken remarkably predicted 5 of the six same scores. The only difference was the Liverpool v Norwich game.

Ken predicted 2 – 2, Micky D predicted 2 -1. The shock was not in the fact that Micky D predicted Liverpool to win a game, but the difference in the accumulator odds purely down to that one differing prediction.

Ken’s odds with SKY Bet returned at 383/1 for all six results; Micky D’s was just 87/1. I was amazed. No wonder the missus only gives me 50p e/w to bet at a time.

So there’s our predictions for Week 24 on the Super 6; now, how is Team Ten Tee 20 Vision faring at the National Golf Course in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship?

Rory & Tiger fail to make the cut in Abu Dhabi

I’m guessing there were plenty following the Woods/McIlroy/Kaymer pairing over the first two days. Of the three, only the 3-time winner of this event, Martin Kaymer, progressed.

Surprised? I’m not.

Of the ten golfers who make up the first Ten Tee 20 Vision Fantasy Race to Dubai team of the 2013 European Tour season, only two have failed to make the cut.  And they’re not Rory McIlroy or Tiger Woods.

¿Que, Señor? I dain’t pick ’em for my team, amigo.

One word – pressure.  McIlroy’s under £80M pounds worth to prove to Nike he’s worth the investment.  Tiger Woods wants desperately to be Official Golf World Ranking’s top dog, again.  Both blew it.  Tiger missing the cut by 3 shots, McIlroy by 6.

Factor in that Rory’s got to get used to his new Nike golf clubs and that he and Tiger were head-to-head in every tee box, you didn’t have to be Nostradamus to foresee their failure.

Martin Kaymer progressing to the weekend golf action, however, was a banker.  Confident, on a roll, thrice winner at the National Course in Abu Dhabi – the German making the cut was a dead cert.

The two golfers who’ve let our side down the first week of the Fantasy Race to Dubai are Ireland’s Paul McGinley and Italy’s Franceso Molinari.  Both missed the weekend action by carding rounds of 149 after the first two rounds, the cut being 144.

Our team’s best chance of glory going into the fourth and final day in Abu Dhabi is, of course, Justin Rose.  Doesn’t he always get off to a blinder?  He sits two shots clear at the top of the Leaderboard on -12 for the first three days, brandishing the UK Golf flag, heralding the 2013 challenge.

The Leaderboard with the all remaining eight golfers from the Ten Tee 20 Vision team is as follows:

FRTD - Week 1 R3 - Ten Tee 20 Vision

Race To Dubai – Week 1 R3 – Ten Tee 20 Vision

Fantasy Race to Dubai tees off in Abu Dhabi tomorrow

Tell you what, I nearly said ‘kicks off’, then.  Hang on.  Switch modes…zure-wep…golf-mode assimilation complete.

Good evening my little tee-totallers!  It is the eve of the first golf tournament in the 2013 Race to Dubai.  That’s right, luv-a-ducks, tomorrow we’re off to sunnier climes to follow the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

Continuing where we left off last season, I’ll be posting my weekly team.  Change of name, this year.  Out goes Zebedeerox Teetotallers (because I think that describe you, dear readership, way better).  Instead, we have Ten Tee 20 Vision.

Week 1 - Race to Dubai team

Ten Tee 20 Vision – Week 1

Nike investment repayment begins in Abu Dhabi

No doubt Rory McIlroy will want to start paying Nike back some of that £80M sponsorship deal signed earlier this week.  Can you believe that?  He truly is among sport’s elite, now.  And at 23.  Wow!

What better way has Rory of proving his worth than in the pairing he’s been drawn with for the first two days in the U.A.E. – you couldn’t make it up.

Joining McIlroy on the first tee of what promises to be a spectacular golf season are none other than Tiger Woods and Martin Kaymer.  And, yes, you’d be forgiven for thinking Woods is the main challenger to the OWGR number one.  Think on.

Deutsch: Martin Kaymer

Martin Kaymer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Martin Kaymer, Rory’s Ryder Cup fellow team member (and indeed the golfer who sank the winning putt and the Yanks in one fell swoop on an amazing last day in Medinah last autumn) has won the Abu Dhabi Championship no less than thrice already.

The last time was in 2011, when he pipped a then 21-year old McIlroy to the title.  Rory finished runner-up again last year, behind Robert Rock, and is hoping his new Nike golf clubs will take him one step further this year.

Rory McIlroy looking to “go one better” in U.A.E.

In an interview with the European Tour earlier this week, Rory underlines exactly why Martin Kaymer may well be the main threat again, this year:

It’s a place I have done well. I think one problem for me the last few years has been Martin Kaymer.
He’s played really well around here and won it a couple of times – three times I think – and I always came up second best.
It would be nice to go one better this week and obviously that’s what I’m aiming for.”

And he’s in the best company in the world to do just that.  Last year, he partnered Tiger Woods not just for the first two, but first three rounds here at the National Golf Course in Abu Dhabi.

All that nonsense towards the end of last season about rivalry between the two was all in the minds of the media.  Although, I can see a lot closer battle between Woods and McIlroy this season.

The winners are, of course, the golf fans.  With Westwood, Rose, Poulter and Donald waiting in the wings with the English challenge the Race to Dubai, if not the OWGR, is going to be closer than ever.

You’d be silly not to put money on either Woods or McIlroy finishing on top of the pile, though.  The Northern Irishman is way out in front points-wise; Tiger clawed a huge number back towards the latter half of 2012 to leapfrog Westwood then Donald to finish in number 2 spot in the official world golf rankings.

Woods & McIlroy Nike Golf Advert reflects mutual respect

And I know they didn’t film the new Nike Advert together, but you don’t need Rory to emphasise the respect he and Woods have for each other.  If you’ve not seen the McIlroy/Woods/Nike Golf advert yet, here it is:

Coverage of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship begins in the wee hours of Thursday morning on SKY Sports 1/HD at 3:30am (GMT).  Woods, McIlroy and Kaymer tee off at 7:40am (GMT).

Friday, we hop over to SKY Sports 2/HD and begin at 6:00am.  Saturday and Sunday we’re on SKY Sports 3/HD, coverage starting at 9:00am and 8:00am respectively.

Over to you:

  • Can Martin Kaymer win this event an astounding fourth time, or will one of his paired duo stop him?
  • Who’s your tip for the Race to Dubai and/or OWGR top spot for 2013?
  • And, £80M – is anyone worth that much in investment for their endorsement, really?

About the author
Jason Darrell is UK National Media Manager for global TV network, FeckTV.com [UK]. The role includes writing the news in seven topics as well as spreading the word via , Twitter, facebook and Pinterest amongst other social media (links to all through G+ profile/about).
A keen SEO copywriter, Jason has recently attained Google AuthorRank and is currently freelancing on oDesk, DoNanza and People Per Hour as a content SEO specialist, first-line manager and copywriter extraordinaire.

It’s time to face facts: Tiger’s best days are behind him

I remember, ooh, fifteen years ago – no, my maths is dodgy – twenty-five years ago (oh, how I wish my maths oops, sorry: math – keep forgetting where I am – was right first time), my dad had brought me up to follow West Bromwich Albion football club. For those outside the UK, they’re a soccer team whose home ground, The Hawthorns, is just outside Birmingham, inside the borders of The Black Country, and they used to have one of the best soccer teams in the UK.

When I was fifteen, local rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers, arguably with a more successful past but, at the time, had only just been saved from liquidation and were in the lowest professional English football league, Division Four (now Npower League Two, after the Premiership, the Championship and League One). There were only two stands open in their ground, Molineux, actually in operation, the other two being classed as fire hazards following the Bradford City disaster a couple of years earlier.

English: Wolves, Football League Champions. Mo...

Wolves, Football League Champions.
Molineux, May ’09 (Wikipedia)

As there were only between 6,000-8,000 fans attending the home games at Molineux (a far cry from the 61,315 record in the club’s hay-day), there was still adequate space in those two remaining stands, The South Bank (terrace) and the John Ireland (seated) stands. It was at this point in Wolves previously illustrious history that one of my scooter-riding buddies asked if I wanted to go watch The Wolves one Saturday afternoon after we’d stripped his PX125 down and put it back together again.

Now the golf bit…

…whenever I read The Bleacher Report and how they report on Tiger Woods, I always, always think of that first game at Molineux in late ’87 and what I witnessed as a then impartial spectator from my vantage point, high up on the terraces of The South Bank.

WP Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy, “Tiger, over here!”
(photo credit: Wikipedia)

First, let’s have a look at a Bleacher Report article that turned up in my RSS feed, today, concentrating on the head-to-head the golfing world is waiting for both at Medinah and in the FedEx play-offs: Tiger Woods vs Rory McIlroy.

No harm there – every blogger that is even partially interested in golf has seen the Greg Norman comments about how he believes Woods’ is intimidated by the Ulsterman, how the torch was passed from the The Great Bear himself to Woods and now it’s his turn to pass on the ‘face of the game’ accolade to Rory. And we’ve reported on it accordingly.

Now, back to the Molineux, circa 1987. For ninety minutes, I stood in a crowd that was so biased (totally unintentionally; it was just the fans’ passion for the club that took over their emotions), they called and heckled every decision against them by the ref. Even the opponent’s goal, which was scored right in front of us and was obviously good got called into question. And the one incident that really sticks in my mind: a Wolves defender lost control of the ball and, although he tried desperately to keep it in play, it must have rolled two yards out, over the line. When the linesman flagged and the ref gave the throw-in, the entire South Bank erupted with abject hatred and genuine disbelief, even though the ball had so obviously rolled out of play. As not (yet*) one of that partisan crowd, it was quite intimidating.

About turn again, back to today and The Bleacher Report article. Whilst the guys concede that the former number one is second best to McIlroy (they’d be hard pushed not to) they bemoan the fact that “it seems all anybody wants to talk about is Rory McIlroy.”

A view of Tiger Woods as he walks off the 8th ...

Tiger, looking over his shoulder
(photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bleacher Guys – what do you expect? Pot, kettle, black spring to mind.

Tiger’s had his day in the sun, and boy, was it the summer solstice of them all, or what? The same as Wolves had their day in the late fifties, winning what is now the Premiership back-to-back in the ’57-58 & ’58-59 seasons and then the FA Cup in ’59-’60, a time when the Wolves back four was the England back-four, the first time that had ever happened.

Celtic/Wolves Tattoo, circa 1989

*My Celtic/Wolves
Tattoo, circa 1989

Tiger’s had three great wins this season, defeating the OWGR top three and coming from nowhere to occupy second place in the world rankings. Wolves have just come to the end of three monumental campaigns in the top flight of English football, picking up wins against record-holding champions Man Utd, conquerors of Europe, Chelsea, local rivals West Brom and added many other famous (and unlikely) scalps along the way – but for both Tiger and the men in Old Gold and Black, those days are something for the fans to celebrate singularly when they come around and not a sign of things to come; they are not the norm and although successes will surely happen, neither entities will ever truly emulate their Glory Days of yore.

So when The Bleacher Report accepts that Tiger is no longer the best in the world, accepts that, for all their doubt earlier in the season, Rory McIlroy has become the successor to Tiger’s throne, perhaps they can stop revelling in the past and offer praise where praise is due, instead of underpinning every article with this lingering incredulity that their hero came, saw and conquered, but won’t quite accept that the empire has fallen.

A cut above at 2012 US PGA Championship

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I have to admit, I expected to be beginning today’s short article expressing my woes that Luke Donald, current OWGR number one, was on a flight home after his pre-cut score of +6 ruled him out of competing for the second half of this year’s US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.

At one stage last night, it was T65 up to +4 and that was it. Justin Rose had scraped through on that score, Lee Westwood was a half way around bang on that score and Luke was out of contention posting 150 for the first two days.

How shocked was I to find this morning, then, that the bar had dropped to +6 so that Luke had got through by the skin on his Srixon but a second round 77 by Westwood on top of a first round 75 saw him finish this Major +8 and two shots off the mark.

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Zeb’s Tee Totallers – US PGA Championship 2012

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Only a very brief post, today, as we build up to the US PGA tomorrow.

Here’s my ten golfers from the European Tour who I’m picking to do well in South Carolina this upcoming weekend.

Who do you think’s going to win?

Anything you want to get off your chest about the PGA, European Tour or golf in general? Submit your article, guidelines on site, at http://golfdrive.tumblr.com/submit

Will Luke, Justin or Lee break that Major duck?  We seem to ask it ahead of every major, but this time, I have a strong feeling the 94th US PGA Championship will be heading over to Blighty.

Justin Rose at 35/1 to win it outright has just got to be tempting, or 3/1 for a top ten finish  – that latter’s like being given a license to print money! Odds as of paddypower, 8/8/12, 14:15

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