Apr
7
2009
By Stephanie Wei under General

Fire Thorn, No. 15 at Augusta National: This par-5 hole is not the toughest hole, but it’s somewhat of a challenge to reach in two shots, especially with the pond that guards the green in front. With a solid drive, most players will go for it. Since they’ll be using either a long iron or a wood, they need to hit a high trajectory shot to keep the ball on the green. Although this hole is an eagle opportunity, an errant approach shot can easily result in a large number.

Here’s an example of where guys like Geoff Ogilvy will have a huge advantage – he’s both accurate and hits the ball up, up and awaaaay!

Apr
7
2009

Winning the Masters is everyone professional golfer’s dream. I can only imagine the elation and emotion at the Green Jacket Ceremony – when the former champion dons the new winner with the iconic jacket. It’s an honor unlike any other.

Yesterday, I mentioned that I’m beyond excited about this week, but at the same time, I’m feeling overwhelmed. Everytime I check my Google Reader, there are a gagillion new posts and articles about the Masters. And guess what? With a few exceptions, they all say the SAME thing; mostly about who’s going to win and how they’re so many interesting story lines. Don’t get me wrong, I completely agree. I love the narratives and choosing players to watch.

Now, I’m going to contradict what I just said and put in my two cents. Like other golf fans, bloggers and writers, I have done my fair share of contemplating who has the best shot at that green jacket.

  • Geoff Ogilvy – His game is made for Augusta. Not only is he an excellent ball-striker, but he hits it high (and straight as an arrow), which will help hold the ball on Augusta’s firm greens. Thus far in 2009, he’s ranked #1 in putting on Tour and #4 in the World. He has played like a major champ all year. Need I say more? Oh, one more thing: he has momentum after placing T-6 at last week’s Shell Houston Open.
  • Tiger Woods – I know, I know. This is such an obvious pick that I’m even annoyed with myself, but you can’t bet against him. He’s won 4 times at Augusta. Not to mention, after his clutch win at Bay Hill two weeks ago, he is oozing with confidence (even more than usual).
  • Fred Couples – Yes, he’s 49 and yes, he bogeyed the last three holes last week to lose his lead (breaking my heart, mind you). His age and mental endurance make him a questionable choice. However, he’s a past Masters champion who knows Augusta inside-out; nothing bothers him out there.  His experience will be advantageous with over 20 appearances at the Masters.  While he was shaky coming down the stretch last Sunday, he still tied for third, which isn’t too shabby the last time I checked. Expect Freddie to have his game face on!
  • Stewart Cink – Okay, I know what you’re all thinking. If you’ve been following my blog, then you’ve probably noticed that I’m a bit obssessed with Cink, particularly his Twitter updates. Well, you can’t blame me – he seems to be genuinely a cool guy. He’s at the Masters and he’s responding to his fans on Twitter! How can you not love him?! He even took a picture of his SHOE and tweeted it! Back to the point, Cink is a “dark horse” candidate, but he has finished in the top 20 over the past 5 years at Augusta, including a third place finish last year. Moreover, he’s played a few extra practice rounds in the past week and taken careful notes about the minor changes made to several of the greens. Cink isn’t ranked in the top 5 or even the top 20 in the world, but those numbers don’t mean everything – I would say that the past two Masters champs, Zach Johnson and Trevor Immelman, were less experienced and established than Cink. On that note, there is a real possibility he’ll be sporting green on Sunday.
  • Kenny Perry – He hasn’t played in the Masters since 2005, but he has 5 top-10 finishes this season on the PGA Tour. He’s ranked 4th in FedEx Standing Points. Most importantly, his game sets up well for Augusta because he hits a draw. He doesn’t even try to hit a fade, which for once works to Perry’s advantage since just about every hole at Augusta is designed for that lovely right-to-left ball flight.

Apr
7
2009
By Stephanie Wei under General

I’m exercising profusely, but it’s very difficult at 73 to build strength […] I stood on the tee last year when I was waiting to play and there was a bit of a hold-up, and I thought, damn it all, most of my friends at 72 are dead and I’m playing at the Masters? Most guys at my age, 73, have not seen their knees, never mind their private parts, for seven years.

Gary Player, on his final appearance at the Masters

Apr
7
2009
By Stephanie Wei under General

Speaking of the Masters, here are my favorite write-ups/blog posts from Monday:

Apr
6
2009
By Stephanie Wei under General

Stewart Cink shows-off his Masters’ swag-bag kicks via Twitter. OMG! I WANT! How do I get a pair???

Apr
6
2009
By Stephanie Wei under General

Yep, it’s that time of the year and I’m beyond giddy. For golf fans, the Masters is like the Holy Grail of the sport. Raise your hand if it’s your favorite PGA Tour event or major championship? I imagine that the response would be an overwhelming “yes.” Why? That’s easy. The Masters is the absolute essence of golf. There’s the history, the traditions, the Green Jacket, the narratives, the aura, and the theatrics of navigating the challenging layout of the course.

For those lucky enough to step through the gates into Augusta National, there’s just something in the air – it’s a dreamlike experience; it’s an amazing ambience; it’s a magical feeling – simply, it’s a tradition like no other.

The Masters has been scrutinized for its “old-school” ways, but what makes it so extraordinary is that the history and traditions have been maintained (as much as possible). Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts, the founders of the tournament, left a legacy for future generations to carry on. Of course, some traditions have been modified as time has passed, but the dramatic ampitheater that they meant to create for the game is still very much alive.

Mr. Jones once said, “[Golf] is nevertheless a game of considerable passion, either of the explosive type, or that which burns inwardly and sears the soul.” Whether or not he was speaking about the Masters, he couldn’t have captured the underlying spirit and beauty of the tournament any better.

Apr
6
2009
By Stephanie Wei under General

Trend Alert: LPGA Players Gear Up With Personalized Belt Buckles

If you haven’t noticed yet, the Ladies on Tour are sporting some stylish outfits these days. The new “IT” item is personalized belt buckles made by 59 Belts. The buckles are a growing fashion statement by pros, which bring “quality, fashion, and function” to the golf course. Tres chic!

And who is behind this hip accessory? Trevor Derrhiem is president of 59 Belts and his design partner is none other than Hwanhee Lee, a former junior golf superstar and now a player on the DURAMED Futures Tour. The trend-setting duo create the personalized buckles for the players or work with them to customize a style that suits their liking.

Some of the big names rocking these in vogue belts include Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa (her logo pictured above), Paula Creamer, Suzann Pettersen, Se Ri Pak, Vicky Hurst, Jiyai Shin, Meaghan Francella, Jimin Kang and Jill McGill.

When I came across this item, I immediately thought of Anthony Kim’s eye-catching Elevée studded “AK” belt buckle. I would normally agree with those that find it rather obnoxious (including Tiger Woods). The Swarwoski crystals are a tad over the top. But, for some reason, AK pulls it off; it must be his fun-loving, charming personality. With that said, I’m a fan of both AK and his lavish glittery belt.

But, I digress. Which company came up with the custom belts first? Elevee or 59 Belts? I tried to dig this up, but couldn’t come to a definite conclusion. Either way, it doesn’t matter. They are both unique in their own right and appear to have different principles on design.

Apr
6
2009
By Stephanie Wei under General

This is a slideshow of Camilo Villegas at various tournaments getting down his signature “Spiderman” pose when he reads the green before putting. You have to watch it! It’s an absolutely awesome video, especially with the Spiderman soundtrack playing in the background!

Apr
5
2009
By Stephanie Wei under General

Paul Casey embraces his caddy after winning the Shell Houston Open in a thrilling sudden death play-off with J.B. Holmes. Congrats!

Subsequent to securing his first PGA Tour victory, Casey said, “This is fantastic. I can’t believe we’ve got bagpipes playing. I love the Masters. I feel it’s my best opportunity at a major. The golf course sets up very, very well for me. Winning this week isn’t a jinx like winning a par 3 contest. Phil Mickelson has won the week before and gone on to win Augusta. Sandy Lyle has done it as well. It’d be nice to be another Brit to do that.”

Casey definitely has momentum going into the first major of the year, the Masters, BUT what about the pressure he’s facing now? Can he handle it?