This Week in Golf – May 16th, 2011

Posted by Robert on May 16

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Old Guys Rule

The Players Championship turned into a chess match between grizzly veterans, Paul Goydos (46), KJ Choi (40), and David Toms (44), a departure from what we’ve seen this year where the young guns have been showcasing their fire power.

But the TPC stadium course in Ponte Verde Beach, Florida (with the trademark 17th island green) was not about to be man-handled.  She was a stubborn old mule that would need to be cleverly coerced, not overpowered.

And David Toms did just that for 68 holes until he came to par 5, 16th.  If Augusta has “Amen Corner,” then the treacherous last three holes of the Players should be called “The Devil’s Corner.” With the pressure mounting and Choi nipping at his heels, Toms made a very uncharacteristic decision to go for the tempting green in two with his hybrid, and this was after Choi had already fired his drive left into the trees.   Toms’ approach found a watery grave while (as if giving a tribute to the late Seve Ballesteros) Choi played a crafty shot – bouncing a low 9-iron  punch under a tree, that skidded along the fringe, before banking right with the slope like a fighter jet turning towards it target.  Choi missed the birdie putt, but a palpable momentum shift had clearly taken place.

Fined Tuned Athletes

As the leaders took the daunting walk to the 17th tee, Goydos, the leader in the clubhouse was asked if the long day affected him because due to rain players had to finish the 3rd round early Sunday morning.  The always playful Goydos joked, “I am a well conditioned athlete.”  Then he predicted that one of the leaders would make birdie on 17.  That player would be Choi who played a daring shot that flew straight at the pin to 6 feet while Toms, leaking oil managed to get lucky and catch the fringe and save par.

Toms Still Has It

With David’s 13 year old boy looking on from the gallery, being one down on 18, the hardest hole on the course may’ve been the best thing that could’ve happened to the major champion who was looking for his first win in five years.  Toms swing became aggressive again and after his laser drive came to rest in a sand filled divot, he hit one of the best shots of his life – the ball sailed pin high to 15 feet and Toms splashed in the birdie like it was a free throw - to force a playoff.

Unfortunately the battle would end abruptly on the 1st playoff hole, 17,  when after both players stepped up and hit solid shots onto the green – Toms yipped a routine 3 and a half footer and Choi came away with the biggest victory of his career.  Choi embraced Toms after the victory and then broke down in tears as he walked off of the island green.  Toms, the ultimate sportsman and gentleman graciously gave an interview and spoke of how pleased he was with his overall play and especially with coming to the plate on the 18th and delivering in the clutch.  Good job men!

Scaredy Cat

Tiger Woods exited stage right after his first nine holes on Thursday withdrawing after shooting 42.  The worse he played the more he limped on that bad leg and this led people to speculate that Tiger’s injured ego (not his hurt knee and Achilles) was the reason behind his quick departure.  Tiger has never liked the TPC Sawgrass and this is the same guy who won the US OPEN hobbling on a knee with multiple fractures.

The Luck of the Irish

There was a chance for an Irish sweep this week when Darren Clarke won over on the European Tour at the Iberdrola Open in Spain and US Open winner Graham McDowell started Sunday at the Players with the lead.  No luck for the Irish this time as McDowell came unglued firing a 79 on Sunday.

Next Up: We have some great golf coming up this week.  The big boys are in Fort Worth, TX for the Crowne Plaza Invitational at the Colonial Club.  Zach Johnson dominated last year.  The kiddies of the Nationwide tour are playing with celebrities in a four-day better ball competition.  A few of the celebrities include Wayne Gretzky, Greg Kinnear and Joe Pesci.  The ladies are playing in the Sybase Match Play Championship in Gladstone, NJ.  And the Geezers are off this week soaking their tired feet this weekend.

Until next week, hit it, find it, and then smack it again.



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