Archive for the ‘Golf’ Category

openingThe final major championship of the 2013 golf season, the 95th PGA Championship, is set to kick off from historic Oak Hill Country Club this week, and there are plenty of storylines and intrigue heading into the tournament.

Below is a combination of historical information about the event, as well as what we can expect to see this week at Oak Hill in the Fanatico A-Z Guide To The PGA Championship.

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U.S. Open - Round OneEarlier this summer, a great many golf fans became acquainted with the seemingly miraculous story of Mackenzie Hughes. The introduction was almost as fortuitous as the culmination of circumstances that led the young Canadian to an entry at the U.S. Open in his first year as a professional.

The underdog may not have triumphed on the course at the Merion Golf Club in mid-June, but Hughes gave us something for which we could have little difficulty cheering: an upstart long-shot whose sense of awe at his own proximity to golf’s superstars was something that we might possess if we were to ever warm up for a practice round beside Tiger Woods.

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142nd Open Championship - Final RoundThis wasn’t supposed to happen.

Yes, Phil Mickelson was installed as the second favourite behind Tiger Woods coming into Open Championship week, but that was mostly because of a win the week prior against a lesser quality field in Scotland at Castle Stuart, a course that several players, Graeme McDowell most notably, decided to avoid as they declared it not being good preparation for the Open.

Golf has always been a game about comfort, whether we’re talking about a swing, apparel or a course. Every player has favourite and least favourite venues. Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, Steve Stricker loves TPC Deere Run and Mickelson hates links golf. In 19 previous Opens, Mickelson had finished inside the top-10 only twice, an astonishingly low number considering his vast skill set, and it’s something he’s well aware of too, noting that he’s just never seemed to figure it all out.

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142nd Open Championship - PreviewsThe third major championship of the golf season kicks off Thursday morning, as the R&A hosts the Open Championship from Muirfield in Scotland. It’s the 142nd playing the Open, dating back to 1860 when Willie Park Sr. was victorious at Prestwick.

Below is a combination of event and course history, as well as what we can expect to see this week at Muirfield in the Fanatico A-Z Guide To The Open Championship.

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Justin Rose Wins The U.S. Open

U.S. Open - Round FourComing into Sunday at the 113th U.S. Open, the story was all about Phil Mickelson and his pursuit of his national championship. With five runner-up finishes, the most in the history of the event, Mickelson had some unfinished business with this tournament and the USGA. As is the case usually on U.S. Open Sunday, the winner would be crowned on Father’s Day, and with Mickelson seen as the ideal family man and loving father, the golf media worked itself into quite the lather leading into the final round. Did I mention that Sunday was also his 43rd birthday? You couldn’t write this stuff. The problem is, nobody told Justin Rose that he wasn’t supposed to win.

Even for the most ardent of golf fans, Rose has been a bit of an enigma. He first appeared on the national stage as an amateur in the 1998 Open Championship, where he ended up tied for fourth place at 17 years old. He turned pro the next day but struggled with his game, going winless until the 2002 Dunhill Championship. His father Ken, who had been fighting cancer, passed away soon after that victory. A few more wins and inconsistencies followed until Rose hired Sean Foley at the end of the 2009 season, leading to victories at huge PGA Tour events like the Memorial, AT&T, BMW and WGC-Cadillac, but the major championship still eluded him.

Highs and lows are common on the golf course, even for the professionals, but it’s magnified at the U.S. Open, where the USGA does it’s very best to manipulate the course in a way that protects par, as if the best players in the world breaking it would cause some kind of cataclysmic event. The list of players who missed the cut on Friday was littered with some of the game’s best, including twelve major champions. Another nine major winners who made the cut never threatened the leaders on the weekend.

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U.S. Open - Round OneHere is a hypothetical situation: There are two teams, A and B, preparing to meet in a best-of-seven playoff series for a sport’s championship. Team A is highly favored to win. Team B is not. For which team would you root?

In 1991, two researchers from Bowling Green State University posed this scenario to more than a hundred college students. Eighty-one percent chose the underdog.

Sports offer us a constant conflict of expectations from which stories are allowed to play out. The devoted sports fan follows statistics, measures performance and allows herself or himself to feel the emotions associated with winning and losing. This is all done as a means of enhancing the competitions we watch to the point of a narrative. This is the attraction. We are drawn to narratives, and the most appealing narratives include the unlikely.

However, in works of fiction there is a certain point to which the boundaries of believability can extend. Typically, these restrictions do not exist in sports, although this distinction has recently been put to the test by a 22-year-old golfer from Dundas, Ontario, named Mackenzie Hughes.

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U.S. Open Preview DayThis week, all of the attention in the golf world will be focused on Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania for the 113th playing of the U.S. Open. Typically known as the toughest test in golf, the U.S. Open will challenge the players to be at their very best, as the USGA will be doing whatever they can to ensure that their reputation is upheld.

As for Merion, it’s the first time since 1981 that it will host the U.S. Open, so it’s a chance for a whole new generation of golf fans to see one of the world’s most iconic designs. The Fanatico A-Z Guide To The U.S. Open takes a look at what we can expect this week at Merion, as well as some of the historic value and moments that the event and course have provided us with over the past 117 years.

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