Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Has ‘Bubba golf’ got the legs for world domination?

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Inspired by Bubba Watson’s brilliance, beautifully encapsulated in that wedge from the pine needles on Augusta’s feared 10th hole en route to winning the Masters on Sunday, I took to the range for a good old clout of the golf ball rather than worrying about a textbook swing.

Ugly noise. Ball darts off right. Left-handed kid receiving a lesson two bays away, who when asked who his favourite player was replies “Bubba Watson”, hits it better with the same club (7 iron).

Try again. Legs and body sway violently. My wrists, better suited for short game artistry (well, escaping from behind trees and the like), bend like rubber while my head is about as stationary as a last-day Masters crowd galloping up the side of the fairway to glimpse a view of the winning putt.

The result of my second shot, or the next 168 balls I hit, is irrelevant. The point is that the unorthodox genius of Watson is unrivalled in the world of golf. Long may it continue.

Woods wins at last but is Tiger “back” this time round?

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“That was a huge win for Tiger Woods today. Our game just got a whole lot more interesting,” scribed world number 11 Dustin Johnson on Twitter on Sunday after his fellow American dominated the field at Bay Hill to clinch the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

This theme is already being discussed just hours after former world number one Woods won his first PGA Tour event since September 2009 after a much publicised fall from grace towards the end of that year and at the beginning of 2010.

from Tom Pilcher:

Two money list titles or a major? Opinion divided over Donald’s 2011

A quick glimpse at the statistics of Luke Donald’s season and you can’t fail to be impressed, though despite a record-breaking 2011 the world number one still has his doubters.

So, those statistics. 25 tournaments entered, two money list titles (he became the first person to win both the PGA Tour and European Tour order of merit honours in the same season), four victories, 19 top 10s (including wins), and three top 20s. Crucially however, no major title.

Atwal success fuels India’s major ambitions

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Arjun Atwal’s PGA Tour triumph shone as a beacon on an otherwise dark Sunday for Indian sports, fuelling the world’s second most populous country’s hopes of celebrating a maiden major victory in the not too distant future, writes Amlan Chakraborty.

The Florida-based 37-year-old is often world number one Tiger Woods’ practice partner and keeping such company helped him become the first Indian to win a PGA Tour title with his one-stroke victory at the Wyndham Championship on Sunday

Memorial offers pointers to Pebble Beach contenders

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Tiger makes eagle on way to Memorial triumph

This week’s Memorial tournament, an elite PGA Tour event in its own right hosted by golfing great Jack Nicklaus, is sure to offer several pointers toward the likely contenders at this month’s U.S. Open.

Many of the game’s leading players are making their final appearances on the circuit before switching focus to the second major of the year, which takes place at majestic Pebble Beach from June 17-20.

Even Tiger gets the “loss aversion” blues

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tiger1Even the best golfers — yes, you Tiger Woods – systematically miss the opportunity to score a “birdie” (when a golfer sinks a ball one stroke below par, or what is expected) out of fear of having a “bogey” (or taking one stroke more than par), according to a study by two University of Pennsylvania professors.

However, playing it safe has its own costs in golf and business, Devin Pope and Maurice Schweitzer, professors of economics and psychology at the Wharton School, said in their paper entitled “Is Tiger Woods Loss Averse? Persistent Bias in the Face of Experience, Competition, and High Stakes.”

Why do golf fans cheer tap-ins? And when is a fine not a fine?

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tigerA few thoughts from two weeks following the PGA Tour:

Just wondering why people clap like mad every time a golfer taps in a two-inch putt?  Are these the same people who break out in applause when a plane lands? Aren’t both these things suppose to happen?
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Best thing I heard on the golf course this week: “Instead of reading the greens you have to read the currents out there,” joked former U.S. Masters champion Mike Weir at the rain-hit Canadian Open.

Second best I heard on the golf course this week: “Let’s go watch someone who wants to play.” — A disgruntled spectator to a friend at the Buick Open after watching Rocco Mediate miss twice from three-feet at the par four 12th at Warwick.
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You have to love a tournament like the Buick Open where the trophy looks like a hood ornament.
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Best joke I heard: England midfielder David Beckham was fined $1,000 by Major League Soccer for confronting unhappy fans following his return to the LA Galaxy during AC Milan. That works out to 1/250,000th of Beckham’s reported five-year $250 million deal that brought him to the United States to spread the soccer gospel.

At last, timing looks right for Tiger

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tigerThe timing of Tiger Woods’s return to the PGA Tour following knee surgery has posed the biggest question mark in golf this year and maybe, just maybe, the answer will be delivered on Friday.

By 1700 ET (2200 GMT) on Friday, players have to commit to next week’s WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona where Woods is the defending champion.

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