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The story that is dominating the PGA season is - will Tiger still be Tiger after the one of the most tumultuous off-seasons in the history of any sport? As Golf tickets hit the market, Tiger Woods has returned to the course after a long lay-off, and is playing to defend his world number one ranking. Additionally, Tiger is still continuing his pursuit to surpass Jack Nicklaus' record of major championship victories. However, for the first time in his career Phil Mickelson is starting to become a real threat to Tiger's world #1 ranking. Currently sitting number two in the world, Mickelson has improved his game and will be challenging Tiger at every major event this year.
The crown of any PGA season are the four majors: The Masters, The U.S. Open, The Open Championship, and the PGA Championship. This year as the battle heats up for the number one ranking, these events are all the more important. The Masters will take place at the pristine Augusta as usual, and the spotlight will fall heavily on this revered venue. Tiger will come in as a favorite as he has dominated the course in the past, but past winners Mickelson and defending champion Angel Carbera will challenge him.
The next major event on the schedule will be the U.S. Open, which will be held at the The Olympic Club Daly City, CA on June 11, 2012, through June 17, 2012. Fans who purchase Golf tickets to this event, will have the chance to see best players in the world play.
Following the U.S. Open, the pros will have to play at one of the greatest links courses in all of Europe, Lytham Green Golf Club Lytham, Lancashire on July 19, 2012, through July 22, 2012. The last major event on the PGA tour schedule is the PGA Championship which is being held at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, Kiawah Island, SC on August 6, 2012, and August 12, 2012. The PGA Championship was last held at Whistling Straits in 2004, and Vijay Singh won that tournament. Singh has struggled recently with his game, and this may be the course for him to regain his form.
If you can't attend the major events, snap up Golf tickets to watch the pros jockey for position in the Fedex Cup competition. A recent addition to the schedule the PGA schedule, the Fedex Cup is a an event that culminates in an exciting four tournament playoff in which the top point getters throughout the PGA season compete for the cup and a top prize of ten million dollars.
National pride is on the line as the U.S. Ryder Cup teams looks to defend its title in the 2012 Ryder Cup. The U.S. Team led by captain Corey Paving will travel to Newport, Wales, to compete against the European team captained by Colin Montgomerie. In recent competitions the Europeans have had the majority success, are looking to regain their supremacy on their turf at Celtic Manor.
Golf Tickets are your first tee for an intriguing PGA season. The addition of The Fedex Cup has made every single week of the PGA season an important event as tour players try to accumulate enough points to compete for ten million dollars prize. Tiger Woods will try to regain his form as he continues his drive towards the all time major victories records. From Scotland to California don't miss a single shot of the PGA Season.
Taking in America's Big Golf Events
The Memorial is over, so the golf pros are long gone. Right?
There's two other times to see the pros tee it up in Columbus, and for my money, they're not to be missed. Sure, The Memorial is the big tournament, the sexy one, one of the top-tier PGA Tour events. But the US Open Sectional Qualifier is a last chance to get into a major; you'll see big names.
The Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational is still the new kid on the block, and it's on the junior tour, but that's one of the things that makes it some great golf to watch.
If you've ever been to The Memorial--I go for the practice rounds, you won't catch me there during the tournament itself--you know what it's like to be jogging along with a thousand other people desperate to catch the faintest glimpse of Tiger, eternally hopeful to be one of the lucky two dozen or so who might get an autograph that day. It's a terrific show, but even during the practice rounds, it's hard to make your way around and take in the golf, especially if you're determined to see the big names. And being The Memorial, you're virtually guaranteed to be somewhere out along the 5th or 13th holes when the lightning warning sounds some time that week.
The day after The Memorial, though, the USGA hosts a qualifier for the US Open. This year it was 36 holes in the rain at Brookside, off SR161, and at The Lakes up by Polaris. I opted for Brookside, and wasn't disappointed.
This wasn't a bunch of amateurs and has-beens hoping for one last shot. This was, thanks to The Memorial the day before, a fairly star-studded affair.
This was watching Tom Lehman and Davis Love III and Jose-Maria Olazabal and Chris DiMarco up close and personal. Galleries measured in the dozens at the most. There were no ropes.
Let me repeat that. There were no ropes. We straggled along behind Love, trying to will each putt into the hole. We slogged through the rain with Olazabal, whose mood and game were, sadly, as gloomy as the weather.
Oh, and the winner and one of the joint runners-up at the US Open this year, Lucas Glover and David Duval? Both came out of the Columbus qualifier. A show like that, and it's free. It's definitely worth taking that Monday off.
The show just coming up (July 27-August 2) is the new kid on the Nationwide Tour block, the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational. It hit the ground running in 2007; their first winner was the first amateur to win on the Nationwide Tour.
And the venue is not to be missed. OSU Scarlet was designed by Alister MacKenzie at about the same time he was putting together a little track in Georgia called Augusta National. It shows, especially around the greens, that he had Georgia on his mind even in central Ohio. The par-3 eighth hole, for example, is sort of an average of the twelfth and sixteenth at Augusta, although not so severely sloped. On Sunday, you better believe they stick the pin out on the bunker-fronted, card-table sized tongue of green that sticks out into the pond. Ouch.
Add in renovation by Jack Nicklaus in 2006, and you have a course that's going to force the players to show what they've really got. Like the Open qualifier, the galleries are small, but it's an actual Tour event so there are ropes. They don't get in the way. There's plenty of room to pick your spot and watch, or follow along with the player of your choice.
Unusually for a Nationwide event, the Children's Hospital Invitational invites the top collegiate players. These are the guys who will make a splash within the next few years, so it's a great opportunity to see the future before it happens.
Most important to remember is that these are the hungry players. Thes are the new blood who want their promotion to the PGA, or the guys who got a taste of the big tour and want to go back. When I went in 2007, scattered among the newcomers were former PGA Tour players like Esteban Toledo and Omar Uresti; among the who's-thats were Ricky Barnes and Chez Reavie.
If you're a player like me, with a handicap measured in scientific notation, what you're going to learn by watching them is not shot-making, but decision-making. Scarlet looks fairly forgiving off the tee--looks are deceiving--but the greens are protected like Fort Knox. Watch to see how the pros approach, especially from up close. Not many of us can bang it three hundred yards off the tee, but a sixty-yard wedge shot is within pretty much everyone's reach.
The mundane details are straightforward. Parking is free, at the OSU lot off Ackerman and 315, and shuttle buses run from an hour before play to an hour after. If you're going for one day, it's ten bucks. A bargain, indered, for a golf fan like me.
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