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  • In Defense of Christina Kim's Rebel Rousing

    25 Aug 2009

    By Ryan Ballengee

    Photo: Rob Hayashida

    In case you haven't noticed, there has been quite a bit of reaction in the press and in the blogosphere about the kind of celebrating and showboating that the Americans did during the Solheim Cup. While some it centered around the incessant Hustle butt bumping (Is this the 70s?!  Do the Mackarena for crying out loud!), a lot of it was focused on Christina Kim's celebrating.

    Check out the thoughts from John Huggan, Mark Reason, Fanhouse (on a separate note: please, Greg Couch, just stop), Golf Digest's Local Knowledge, Stephanie Wei, the SI Golf Group, and the banter at Geoff Shackelford's joint for a taste of what others are saying.

    Here's my thought on it. Not to rip off of Rich Lerner, but golf needs more people like Christina Kim. She is like the female Tommy Bolt for this generation. Kim is engaging, has a potty mouth, and tells some awesome stories. My round caddying for her in a pro-am in like '03 was one of the best experiences that I have ever had playing golf.  It is difficult not to like someone that charismatic as a playing partner or watching.

    It's not like she or any other American pulled a Terrell Owens after each holed putt. No Sharpie ball signings. No signing of the television cameras. No snow angels on the green after dropping a bomb for birdie.

    Kim didn't ride her driver down the fairway like Boo Weekley did at last year's Ryder Cup--a tribute to Happy Gilmore that I loved. She did a lot of fist pumps, shouted to the crowd to get them going, and danced a lot. Isn't that the kind of thing that critics say is missing from the game?

    So many modern professional golfers are stiffs on the course, resigned to show as little outward emotion as possible because they think it may miff their mojo. Mojo is psychological. Crowd pleasing is part of entertainment. And in case you haven't been reading the headlines about the LPGA Tour on your local business page, the LPGA Tour is in need of some serious entertainers that can both play golf and play up a crowd. Christina Kim can do that.

    I am fairly certain that Kim's style brought out some of the best of Michelle Wie. For as much as the angle about Wie's parents being banned from clubhouses and team meetings is overblown, Christina Kim's influence on Michelle is clearly positive. It helped her become more expressive and appreciative of the nationalistic adulation going on around her. If this event turns out to be the springboard for Wie's personal career--as I suggest great caution about predicting that--then no one will remember the kind of influence that Kim and Wie's other compatriots had on her lifting an enormous burden off of her shoulders. 3-0-1. And some of that came because of the positive emotion coming out of her friend.

    Should any player be jacked up when 6 down in a match? Probably not, but a comeback has to start somewhere. Tiger jumped around several US Amateur venues when he made his match play comebacks during his six year run in the US Junior and US Amateur events. Fist pumps, shouting, cheering to pump himself up.  And we laud him as such a competitor even if the fist pumps are seemingly equally balanced out with f-bombs. If it is ok for him to do it, it's ok for Christina Kim to do it.

    Kim reminds me a lot of JJ Redick. In my time at Maryland, I booed that guy more than anyone I have ever booed. 17,000 of my fellow Maryland students and I chanted "F*%$ you, JJ!" at him several times when he made the trip to College Park. We hated that guy. Why? Because he was so smug and he knew he was good. But, even worse, we hate (and still hate) him because he was damn good. Christina is damn good. She went 3-1-0. It's not like she didn't back up the celebrations by losing. She won.

    And to the victor goes the spoils.

  • Monday Morning Quarterback

    24 Aug 2009

    By Peter Kessler

    If Michelle Wie was the best player on the planet what would that mean for women's golf?

    Michelle has had a good yet winless year. She has made all 13 cuts with some strong finishes. With her career changing performance in the Solheim Cup she will win this year, five times next year including a major and be the Player of the Year.

    Michelle learned how to close, how to handle momentum shifts and make five footers down the stretch.

    I submit that there have never been consecutive shots that left eagle putts of two and four feet as the ones hit by Helen Alfedsson and Michelle in the singles of the Solheim Cup.

    Really nice not to see Michelle's overbearing parents at the Solheim. She seemed happy and carefree as opposed to stressed and unhappy.

    Michelle's last two shots to the par five final hole were spectacular. A 355 yard drive and a 200 yard five iron to seal the win were Tigeresque.

    Michelle hasn't won anything, and I mean anything since 2003!!

    Christina Kim was perfectly appropriate in her handling of the Solheim circus. It's a festival and she provided the much needed personality and fireworks.

    Cross Ryan Moore off the list of best player to never win on the PGA TOUR.

    Sergio is oh for 44 in the majors, lost 2 Fed Ex playoff tourneys last year,hasn't won in 15 months and he still can't putt. And he looks like an old 29.

  • How Can You Not Love Ryan Moore?

    23 Aug 2009

    By Shane Bacon

    Photo: Streeter Lecka, Getty Images

    It didn't happen because Ryan Moore took it upon himself to win the Wyndham Championship on Sunday. Nope, that wasn't the reasoning. This was something that some people have, and some people don't. It's being cool. It's being chill. It's being one of those guys people would enjoy having around.

    Ryan Moore has that. Sure, the guy is one of the most decorated amateur golfers we've ever seen, but his success on the PGA Tour hasn't been what he wanted it to be. It took him five years to card a victory, that happened on Sunday when he birdied the third playoff hole to take down Kevin Stadler. It's just, Moore is the kind of guy you'd invite over for a beer, or a steak or text a funny joke because he'd probably reply with something equally entertaining.

    Moore had sponsor deals with companies, but felt that didn't suit him very well, so he dropped them. Millions of bucks he left on the table to be more like himself and less like everyone else. He buys his own clothes. He uses a bag that looks like it came directly from the set of "Caddyshack." He has a little bit of a gut that looks more weekend golfer than PGA Tour winner. He doesn't care.

    He is just a guy, and a guy that is damn good at golf. His win just cemented exactly what he told me earlier this year when I talked to him about his sponsor issues -- "Good golf takes cares of itself."

    Moore played some fantastic golf on Sunday, and is now in the elite PGA Tour winner's circle. Expect many more to come, and each one will be just as cool as the first.

  • ADT Million Dollar Challenge

    22 Aug 2009

    From today through September 30, play the ADT Million Dollar Challenge for your chance to win a trip to the Breakers Resort in Florida to compete in the 2009 ADT Golf Skills Challenge, where you will have one chance to hit a 120-yard short iron shot for $1 million if the shot results in a hole-in-one! Anyone can play the game, but only residents of the continental U.S. who are 21 and over are eligible for the sweepstakes drawing.

    Check out our TV ad spot running on NBC this weekend!

  • What the Solheim Cup Means for the US and Michelle Wie

    21 Aug 2009

    By Stephanie Wei

    Photo: Wei Under Par

    There are great expectations for Team USA at the Solheim Cup this week. And there are even greater ones for Michelle Wie. Once again, she’s in the spotlight. But for the first time, her personality and her game are being showcased positively.

    Over the years, it was all about the hype — a girl who had phenomenal golf abilities and wanted to play with the big boys. Then, when she didn’t live up to them, backlash ensued and she was scrutinized for the special treatment she received, the withdrawals and disqualifications, and the behavior of her parents. Unfortunately, much of the criticism was misplaced. After all, she was —and still is — only a kid.

    That’s in the past, so let’s keep it there.

    Now, she’s earned her way on the Tour and even as a captain’s pick on the Solheim Cup team. Her teammates have had the opportunity to get to know the real Michelle — the one who is funny, talented, sweet and quirky. They’ve been singing her praises.

    In yesterday’s press conference Cristie Kerr said:

    [Michelle’s] an amazing golfer, but what people don’t realize is she’s still just a teenager, you know, and we’re getting to know her as a person. And you know, what people don’t know about her is that she’s got quite the fashion edge. She makes her own clothing. You know, she designs clothing. She does a lot of interesting things.

    It sounds like she’s also embraced the camaraderie that goes along with being a team member. And, she has continually voiced her appreciation to Captain Beth Daniel for choosing her. So you see, Michelle isn’t the “spoiled and ungrateful” individual that many painted her to be. She’s just a normal teenager who happens to be an incredibly talented golfer.

    Michelle is in a wonderful position to make her mark. She’s enjoying the experience of being part of a team — something that’s greater than what her career so far has seemingly represented (or how it’s, in my opinion, unfairly been perceived by the public). Could this week be the beginning of her insurgence as the stronghold of the LPGA?

    The Solheim Cup couldn’t have come at a better time — the US ladies and Michelle have their chance to play their way to positive headlines. Without a doubt, it would be a huge win for the team and women’s golf. Here’s to new beginnings.

    USA, USA, USA!

  • The Last Heartbreak Major

    20 Aug 2009

    By Peter Kessler

    Over the last 49 holes Yang was 13 under and Tiger was 1 under.
    Yang's best previous major finish wad 30th in the 2007 Masters.
    Tiger beat Yang in the previous 21 events in which they both played with Tiger winning nine of those,
    Yang has played in fewer majors than Tiger has won.
    Tiger made more bogeys in the final round than all three previous rounds combined.
    On Sunday's back nine Tiger shot 37 and Yang 34.
    This was Tiger's first come from ahead loss.
    Tiger lost to YE Yang.
    Think about that.

  • Tier Adjustments & Career Earnings Fix

    19 Aug 2009

    Hi everyone, we performed a routine system maintenance last night, and along with that we made the following changes:

    Tier Adjustments

    Based on your feedback, we tuned the tier score range parameters to make it more challenging to move up tiers. This change does not apply retroactively, so you will not move down a tier even if your score range does not fall within the new parameters.

    Bug Fix

    If you received 100 credits for being in the pro tier during last week's product update, your career earnings stat should no longer display an extra $100. It should display an extra $1 ($1 = 100 credits).

  • USA v Europe in This Week's Solheim Cup

    18 Aug 2009

    The Solheim Cup, founded in 1990 by the company behind Ping, kicks off this week in Sugar Grove, IL. This biennial, trans-Atlantic team match-play competition between U.S.-born players from the LPGA Tour and European players from the LET, is a highly anticipated event after three quiet weeks for the LPGA. Here are team USA's Christina Kim and Michelle Wie having a relaxed moment after practice:

    Photo: Christina Kim

  • Winner Profile - sabbath270: What's in His Bag?

    17 Aug 2009

    Congratulations to sabbath270, who placed first in the Pro tier in the July People v. The Pros Open. What’s in his bag?

    • TaylorMade R9 TP 9.5° Driver
    • Ping G10 Pro 3 Fairway Wood
    • Ping G10 Pro Iron Set (Steel)
    • Ping Tour W Pro 54° Wedge
    • Ping Tour W Pro 60° Wedge
    • Ping Tour W 60° Wedge
    • TaylorMade Spider Putter
  • Yang Joins The Pantheon of Sporting Upsets & Changes Golf Forever

    16 Aug 2009

    By Ryan Ballengee

    Down goes Frazier.  18-1.  The '69 New York Mets.  The miracle on ice at Lake Placid.  Hell freezing at Hazeltine.

    This is not Ed Fiori at the Quad Cities.  Rocco at Torrey certainly falls short.  Not even Rich Beem, on the same course seven years prior, can touch the significance of this PGA Championship.

    YE Yang joined the pantheon of all-time great sporting upsets on Sunday by managing to shoot 70 in the final round of the PGA Championship to best Tiger Woods by three strokes.  He became the first man to unseat Woods when the world number one held a share of the 54 hole lead in a major championship.

    With the accomplishment, Yang officially gives Asia a seat at the United Nations of golf champions.  Asia was the only continent with more people living on it than penguins that had not produced a major champion.  Every other continent had done it already.  Even if you discount South African champions as not really ethnic Africans, they count.  South America can thank Angel Cabrera for getting them on the board - interestingly enough by also beating Woods at the 2007 US Open at Oakmont.  Now, Yang will be a hero for the rest of his life for what he won on Sunday.

    Golf is exploding in mainland Asia, finally catching up to the golf bug that Japan caught decades prior.  China is reporting that participation in golf is growing by nearly 50 percent per year.  Courses are being constructed all over the continent.  The Champions Tour is hosting its first tournament in South Korea next year.

    By virtue of his win, Yang intensified all of that momentum and enthusiasm for the game by tenfold.  Yang will be to Asia what Tiger Woods was to a generation of young people in the United States.  He is a champion to emulate.  He was the man who stood up to the best in the world, beat him, and smiled at the camera while doing it.  It was fun and endearing, while simultaneously courageous and clutch.  Yang is a tremendous ambassador and representation of what Asian golf is and can be.

    In the week that the International Golf Federation announced that the IOC is recommending golf to be included into the 2016 Olympics, Yang is proof positive of the power of the event.  Despite flaws in the proposed Olympic golf tournament format and qualifying criteria, this victory gives credence to the possibilities of the sport in the Olympic games.  It no longer takes an imagination to conjure a defeat of this kind of magnitude.  It happened on Sunday.

    Not only does the Yang victory help perception of golf in the Olympics, but it also helps the perception of Asian professional golf.  The Asian Tour has been steadily growing in recent years, but largely due to a symbiotic relationship with the European Tour.  Co-sanctioning of events has boosted the profile of Asian Tour events by bringing in higher ranked players with paid appearances to mow down the best that Asia has to offer.

    Though the talent level has been growing in Asia with names like Jeev Milkha Singh, Prayad Marksaeng, and Thongchai Jaidee, there had not been a validation of that growth.  Yang represents that and confirms that Asian professional golf is a legitimate threat in major championships.  They can no longer be ignored or patronized with invites to participate.

    The Masters invited Ryo Ishikawa to compete in the tournament this year because of his youth, clear talent, and - most importantly - the potential benefit to their brand if Japan's emerging superstar could pan out at Augusta National.  Now, with Yang as a confirmed major victor, that kind of transparent business-based invite is unnecessary.  In time, Ishikawa will certainly hoist a major trophy of his own, but until then, golf's major championships have a legitimate and proven champion from Asia.

    The elevation of this victory is not intended to diminish what players like Se Ri Pak, Eun Hee Ji, and Ji Yai Shin - among many others - have accomplished in women's golf and on the LPGA Tour.  Those victories were and are very significant in fueling the growing enthusiasm for the game in Asia.  Now, though, those female champions have a male counterpart.  Their counterpart took down the greatest golfer still playing.

    And the victory was not a squeaker.  It was decisive.  A three shot win is a practical blowout in a major championship.  Yang was not conservative in his approach.  He went for broke, with nothing to lose.  He really had nothing to lose.  Perhaps, though, it dawned on him somewhere on that back nine how much he could gain for himself and the sport were he to do what was previously considered impossible.  Yang even birdied the final hole to serve as an exclamation point of the win.

    The exclamation point was not just for this tournament, though.  His final putt will be an enduring image in golf history - and an incredible thorn in the side of the career of Tiger Woods.

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