Mike Besa, a.k.a. MGB of Pinoygolfer.com fame invited me to appear on his segment, Golf Talk with Mike Besa, in the show A Round of Golf.  This is what it looked like:



Frankie Minoza

What’s up with Frankie nowadays?

As many of us know, Frankie is now in the US Seniors Tour.  Having missed out on trying to qualify last year due to problems with his applications he finally was able to get his documents together and joined the Senior Tour qualifying school.  Showing his true form, he played with distinction and wound up 2nd to Kieth Clearwater.  People were so excited to see how Frankie would do in this next phase of his career and expectation were quite high.  In the review of the rookie class of the Seniors Tour at the PGATour website, Frankie was viewed as a sleeper who could come from nowhere and be an instant star.

This evaluation really had  basis.  Aside from his 2nd place showing in the qualifying, he did play very well in the European Seniors Tour as a non-member.  In the 4 events he played in he was 2nd 3 times (twice to Boonchu Ruangkit).  In those three events he had the chance to win, but faltered in the end.  All told, his Senior Tour earnings in Europe in 2010 amounted to almost 120,000 Euros.  No small change.  Add to this fact his illustrious career spanning several decades, leading to 7 wins in Japan and countless others in Asia.  With his rich pedigree no wonder big things are expected from him.

Alas, though, his stint in the Senior Tour as of now has been less than stellar.  He has earned $7,323.00 in 3 events and is 89th in the money list.  His best showing is a T52 at The Ace Group Classic.  Frankie though has exhibited glimpses of what he can do.  He had a credible 71 in the first round of the Allianz Championship which made people take notice.  I suppose he just needs to get more acclimated then he will show the Frankie we all know and love.

Good luck Frankie in your exploits in the US.  We know you can do so much more.  Keep the faith.

History Made

History was made last weekend yet few really appreciated it. On the PGA front Jonathan Byrd won thee JT Shriners with a hole in one in the 4th playoff hole. This marks the first time in PGA tour history that a playoff was decided by a hole in one. Talk about lighting striking and just in the nick of time too. Darkness was creeping into the Las Vegas course when Byrd, Cameron Percy and defending champion Martin Laird decided to play one more hole. If a winner is still not decided they would have gone back the next day. After Byrd survived an almost disaster in the 3rd playoff hole, where his ball almost took a bath in the creek in front of the green, draining the ensuing 7 foot putt just to survive, he stepped up to the tee hardly seeing where his target was. With one mighty swing with his 6 iron, his ball soared through the air and landed 10 feet below the hole. It then proceeded to roll up true into the cup for the ace. How dark was it? Byrd did not even know the ball went in. He had to ask so many times before he believed it. Thus ended yet another exciting fall series event, with as much drama as the eagle fest served up by Rocco Mediate the previous week.

On the European front Matteo Mannasero also made history by being the youngest tour winner at 17 years and 188 days to beat out the record held by Danny Lee, who was then 18 and 213 days. Playing with the poise of a champion (British Amateur Champ), he played the back 9 impeccably recording a final score of 15 under to win by 3. Erstwhile leader Gary Boyd collapsed in holes 15 to 17 where he recorded a score of 4 over to end up at 11 under, tied for 4th. With the win, Mannasero is now in the same conversation as fellow young guns aiming to stamp their class as the future of golf. So who will be the star of the future? Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Ryo Ishikawa, Noh Seung Yul or Matteo Mannasero? The future of golf is indeed bright.

The Ulsterman Delivers

(From thebounce.co.za)

Bathing in sunlight that had been missing over the last three days, Graeme McDowell looked over his 15 foot putt on 16 with trepidation.  He had been up by three holes with 7 holes to go and his lead had been sliced to just one.  Moreso, with the halved match of Eduardo Molinari against the fast charging Rickie Fowler, Graeme’s match was for all the marbles, the return of the Ryder Cup to the continent.

The facts were all clear.  He had to win the match in order for Europe to edge out the Americans 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 and take back the cup that was taken from them in Valhalla 2 years ago.  In Valhalla he had been a bright spot in the European side taking home 2 1/2 points out of a possible 4, winning twice and halving one match.  But in spite of that the Europeans lost 16 1/22 to 11 1/2.  Since that time, Graeme transitioned from being a reliable and solid tour player to a major winner (2010 US Open at Pebble Beach) and a vital cog in the European campaign.  He teamed up with fellow Irishman Rory MacIlroy (the GMac-Wee Mac team) and together earned 1 1/2 points for the Europeans.  His steely play over the past three days convinced captain Colin Montgomery that Graeme has enough nerve to handle the pressure of being the last group out.  He noted that if Graeme could handle the pressure of winning a major, he can handle being the anchor of the European side.  Montgomery in fact said, “Graeme McDowell was put there for a good reason.”  That is a show of absolute faith on a player.

With the fate of the European team resting squarely on his Shoulder, Graeme surveyed his putt, settled his nerves (as much as he could under the circumstances) and struck the ball.  The ball traveled with the speed of snail towards the hole, trickling end over end over the length of 15 feet.  This ball could very well decide the Ryder Cup and everybody watched it with bated breath.  It is hard to believe that the drama of that moment would not have been set were it not for the dramas that unfolded over the previous three days.

The biggest news of the 2010 Ryder Cup when it started was the weather. Rainfall equivalent to the 60% of the expected rainfall for the month fell on Celtic Manor during that first day.  The greens saw more squeegees than putts and players had to endure a 7 hour delay before they could go back to the course.  This led organizers to take an unprecedented course of action in the hope that a Sunday finish could still be had.  The second round saw 6 foursomes rather than the usual 4.  The third round would also be 6 matches, of which 2 are foursomes while the other 4 are four-balls.  This means that all 12 players in each side will see action averting the possibility of players being rested, thus taking away some of the strategizing. This of course meant that all the players had a stake in the victory or defeat of their team.  Nobody can be a slacker, everyone had to go out and compete.

Over those last 2 rounds compelling matches stories abound.  Tiger and Stricker continued their brilliant play from the first round and won their second to continue with their winning partnership that started from the President’s cup.  But then on the third round, they got completely hammered 6&5 by the Westwood / Donald team.  Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson proved to be unsuccessful whether together or with other teammates as neither won even half a point entering the final round.  The European side saw the emergence of the Irish combination of GMac and Wee Mac as well as the brilliance of Luke Donald who continued to stamp his class in the Ryder Cup.  And of course there was Lee Westwood who had not taken up his clubs for weeks following a serious calf injury that made him miss the PGA Championship, who showed everyone not only a new svelte figure but a renewed vigor in his game. The biggest news heading into the final round though was the domination of Team Europe in the 3rd round.  Of the 6 possible points, Europe won 5 1/2.  In fact the half point was even stolen by the Europeans as the Molinari brothers tied up the pair of Cink and Kuchar.  With this performance, Team Europe ended the day 9 1/2 to 6 1/2 needing 5 points in the singles to annex the cup.

The singles though have not been kind to Europe.  Of the last 15 stagings of the Ryder cup before this one, the US won 10 singles sessions to Europe’s 5.  If the Ryder Cup was just an all singles affair, the US would be running away with the cup practically every time.  In Brookline in 1999, Team Europe had been up 10 to 6 entering the last day.  But the ever confident Ben Crenshaw who was captain then, waived his finger at the press and said that they should not underestimate the heart of the US team.  True enough, Team USA, bouyed by the chants of the US crowd fought back and grabbed the cup from Team Europe capped off by the brilliant long distance cup from Justin Leonard to win over Jose Maria Olazabal.  Given this as history, a US comeback is still possible, the ballgame is not over.

And fought back the US team did.  Early on Europe led in 8 of the first 9 matches.  But then slowly and surely the resilience of the US boys came through.  Steve Stricker led the charge and humbled Lee Westwood.  Tiger found his form and shot 7 under over his 15 holes to plaster Francesco Molinari.  Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson found their form and won easily over Peter Hanson and Martin Kaymer.  Ross Fisher who was expected to bring home a point lost to rookie Jeff Overton.  Zach Johnson then waylaid the off form Padraig Harrington.  On the European side, Luke Donald held on to win against Jim Furyk after the latter’s uncharacteristic mistake on 18 where he failed to get on the green from a little over 100 yards.  Rory McIlroy squeezed out a half with Stewart Cink in a very close and exciting seesaw affair.  The only dominant performance were by Ian Poulter over Matt Kuchar and Miguel Angel Jimenez (who may have played his last Ryder Cup) over Bubba Watson. And then there was Rickie Fowler.  He had  not been playing well.  By the end of 15 he was down by 3 and Eduardo Molinari was dormie.  Molinari in fact could have won in 15 had he not missed an eagle putt on the drivable par 4.  Then Fowler woke up.  He proceeded to birdie the last 3 holes to  tie up Molinari to halve the match.  All told, the teams were then tied at 13 1/2, leaving all the drama and the cup’s fate on the the last match of Graeme McDowell and Hunter Mahan.

All this weighed down on Grame McDowell when he gingerly struck that putt on 16.  If he made it, he’d be 2 up with 2 to play securing at least half a point.  But that would not be enough as he needed a full point to win.  But making the putt would relieve some pressure shift the burden to Mahan who would be forced to win the next two holes for the US to retain the cup (in a tied match, the defending champion keeps the cup).  And so he stared at the ball as it made its way to the cup.  The ball hit the inside right of the hole and could have lipped out but then decided to go in as the crowd roared earth-shakingly.  McDowell pumped his fist and breathed a big sigh of relief.

17 proved a little anticlimactic.  Graeme was on the fringe after a shaky tee shot that could have gone to the bunker.  Mahan fell way short of the green after a fat 6 iron.  Mahan had a chip which, under the circumstances he had to hole.  Feeling the pressure perhaps he flubbed his shot and he did not even make the green.  A very amateur mistake.  Grame then putted to within 3 feet of the hole.  Mahan needed to putt his ball in and secure a par if only to put pressure on Graeme.  He missed conceded the hole to his opponent and the 2010 Ryder Cup is over. Before long the 17th green was engulfed in a sea of humanity as every tom dick and o’connell rushed in to join in the celebration.  McDowell was being hailed as the champion who brought the cup back.  He showed a steely resolve and determination to win.  He later confessed that he was hoping the cup would be secured earlier in the day and that his match would not matter.  But when given the task of winning he delivered in prime fashion.

(From Reuters)

Congratulations to Team Europe.  This Ryder Cup is yours.  To the US Team, congratulations too on a gallant fight back.  See you all in 2 years at Medinah.

Three Peat

Around the middle of this year I decided to reinvent this blog to touch upon not just golf but other sports that interests me as well.  If there is any sport that gets me going as much as golf does it would definitely be basketball.  Being one of 5 brothers, where 2 became players in the UAAP juniors, the ability to play and appreciate basketball is a must in our household.  Truthfully then I can say that I have been a fan since time immemorial.

In my mind therefore I knew that my first non-golf blog would and could only be about basketball.  In the realm of basketball only two teams gets my heart pumping and soul jiving, the Boston Celtics and the Ateneo Blue Eagles.  When the Celtics were flirting with banner 18 in June I was already lining up what I was going to write to commemorate their win.  But alas they fell 6 minutes short.

It was therefore with great interest that I followed the UAAP campaign of my beloved Blue Eagles.  Due to a tight schedule, this is one year (over the last decade perhaps) where I failed to watch even one UAAP game live.  In spite of that I made sure to watch all the Blue Eagles games even on replay.  When my Blue Eagles disposed of Adamson in the final four and set up a showdown with the first seed FEU, I again entertained the thought that now I can finally write on basketball.  As game 1 unfolded, I was shocked at the ease with which Ateneo ran roughshod over the mighty Tamaraws. Sure, I believed Ateneo can win the championship (even if FEU swept them during the eliminations) but not in my wildest dreams did I see my boys win by 23, 72-49.  Many claimed that this games had the fingerprint of the gambling lords and that FEU tanked the game.  Regardless though the reason why FEU lost I knew they would come back hard in game 2.  I knew it would be a war.

Game 2 opened as I thought.  FEU was out of the gate like wild horses.  Outscoring Ateneo 22 to 13 by the end of the first 10 minutes, FEU flexed its heretofore unfurled muscles and showed all and sundry that they were out to take the game.  Not getting intimidated by the Tamaraw bravado, the Blue Eagles stuck to their game plan of imposing a suffocating defense while pushing the ball aggressively on offense.  This allowed the boys in blue to outscore FEU 17-9 in the quarter leaving them just a point shy at the half.

During the third, FEU again raced off to a significant lead.  But this time Ateneo wasted no time to stop the Tamaraw rampage.  Through the barreling offense of Ryan Buenafe, the timely sniping of Nico Salva and the poise and confidence of the rest of the Blue Eagles Ateneo ended the quarter up 52 to 50.  In the fourth, there were no quarters given nor taken as both teams went for the win with all their might.  FEU mached Ateneo’s efforts and intensified their defense as well, causing Ateneo to turn the ball over 5 times in the quarter, where it had none over the first 3 quarters.  Cameroonian Pipo Noundou gave FEU its last taste of the lead 57-56 when Ryan Buenafe took over.  Scoring 9 of the last 11 points of Ateneo Ryan spit at the eye of naysayers when he lined up and drilled a 3 pointer with 22 seconds left to give Ateneo a 64-59 lead.  This dagger through the heart slayed the mighty Tamaraws and claimed for Ateneo its first ever three-peat, having won the UAAP crown the last 2 years.  He ended the game with 23 points, 6 rebounds an assist and a steal to clinch the finals MVP plum too (which netted him a gift check worth P30,000 from PS Bank, not bad).

Led by Ryan, this championship was a total team effort.  Salva, Emman Monfort and Kirk Long displayed game long brilliance.  Erik Salamat, Frank Golla and Justin Chua were solid.  Bacon Austria and the rest of the bench squad contributed as well.  As Erik said, everyone in this team is an MVP.  With a very strong sense of team play, he is absolutely correct.

This game was intense, wild, dramatic, poetic and ultimately, for me, satisfying.  A fitting event to usher in my new efforts to expand my sports writing.  Thank you to the Blue Eagles.  Fly high.

In a Rut

I am absolutely hating my game nowadays.

I few weeks ago, I was enjoying the game immensely. I was scoring well and my ball striking was really going great. I loved hitting the ball and seeing it go where I wanted it to go. My short game was reliable and really helps me save those pars and bogeys. Even better I was avoiding those huge numbers that used to plague my game a lot.

After that brief period of nirvana I suddenly could not hit the side of the barn with a sandwedge. I could not understand what is happening. Suddenly i was hitting the ball fat, my driver was duck hooking or slicing, my wedges were not crisp, my putting went south. Worse yet, I could not save my card from huge scores resulting in horrific numbers. I am now thinking of going to a pro to have this checked. Sufficie it to say, I am in a deep rut and I want to get out of it. Is it a swing problem? Is it an equipment problem? Is it a mental problem? Is it a physical problem? Who knows at this point. All I know is that I want to get out of it and now.

In the meantime, tournaments are in the horizon and I do not want to embarrass myself. I implore the golf diety, show me the signs, grant me the secrets, just give me back my game. Thanks.

15th GDAP Golf Expo

The 15th GDAP Golf Expo is this weekend. Time to salivate over the latest gear and wish for more discounts on a bit more dated items. It is also time to budget properly and not go crazy.

in any event, the big sale is this weekend and I can’t wait to go.

Also, other golfing brands will be on sale at the Megatent in Ortigas also this weekend, like Titleist and Footjoy. So that would be my detour before going home.

See you guys during the sale.