Who has three green jackets, a winning smile, and one big thumb? This guy. (Image: debby19/Flickr)

Let’s hop right to it. The 2010 Masters was unforgettable. Here are few thoughts about some of the bigger names:

Phil Mickelson: I like Phil. I’m not as big a Mickelson fan as most golfers, but I generally like him. With the struggles with breast cancer his wife, Amy, has faced in the last year, it was hard not to cheer for Mickelson down the stretch. It seems like just a few years ago when we were wondering if Phil could ever win the big one. On Sunday, he won his third green jacket and fourth major title. If he never does anything else (unlikely), the guy will go down as one of the greatest.

Tiger Woods: I say this in the loosest of terms: Tiger’s game reminded me a bit of anyone who has taken a bit of time off from playing. After a few months off, I’m just as likely to make a birdie as I am a double bogey. Did you see the pop up shots? Wow. After all that, though, he finishes in 4th place. Pretty amazing. I love his post-round answer to the question, “Did you expect to win?”–to which he replied, “Well, I entered the tournament.” It will be interesting to see when Woods plays next and if his extended time off will continue to affect his play. I think he’ll be back for The Players next month.

Fred Couples: What did I tell you? Okay. So I got my facts wrong—Couples is already on the Senior Tour (Thanks Mike). Does anyone really watch the Champions Tour? But watching Freddy play so well out there this week was like a blast from the past. It felt like 1995. If only he could’ve made a few of those short putts, Couples could have been right there at the end.

Lee Westwood: I’ve gone on and on about Lee Westwood on this blog. I love his game. I love his swing. Westwood is in his prime and has to win a major in the next two years or it’s a freaking shame.

Anthony Kim: I think Kim is ready to win a major now. Incredible 65 on Sunday. He definitely has the game, and I think he’s putting everything else together. He’s the kind of player that’s fun to watch.

Next major: U.S. Open on June 17-20 at Pebble Beach. Can Phil go back to back?

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Charles is in the sand much less these days. (Image: simplistic.designs/Flickr)

With a little help from Anthony Kim’s trash talk, Charles Barkley was swinging nicely on tonight’s episode, smacking three drives over 300 yards.

The episode started rough, with Chuck struggling in a charity tournament (The First Tee) in Florida. Pretty embarassing, actually. I felt for the guy. The hitch crept up and wouldn’t go away.

But that was nothing Hank Haney couldn’t fix. After another 1,000 ball day on the range with Tiger’s coach, Barkley was swinging like a pro again. One fluid motion. No hitch. Now that’s how a golf swing should look.

Charles took the course–his nemesis–for a four hole “virtual match” against Anthony Kim. I could see a big difference at this point. The hitch was mostly gone, and Barkley’s shots were much improved. Staggering drives and fairly solid approach shots.

He continues to improve. But both Chuck and Hank admit they thought they would be further along by now. It just goes to show how much help Barkley needed.

The show goes on hiatus until May 11, likely because of the break in filming after Charles was charged with a DUI. It will be interesting to see how much the layoff affects him–assuming he wasn’t playing much while dealing with the alcohol issues.

Hopefully, Hank Haney won’t have to start over. Tune in May 11 to find out.

So Game Under Repair returns from the holiday break. Refreshed, renewed, ready to rock in 2009. I’ve got to admit…a little distracted by other sports over the holidays, mainly the NFL. My Atlanta Falcons made quite a run this year. Tough loss in the playoffs on Saturday, but with Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, and Coach Smith, the future is bright. But that’s neither here nor there.

Amazingly, the 2009 Tour Season begins on Thursday. Rookies and vets alike will tee it up in Hawaii at the Mercedez Benz Championship. What will the year hold?

For starters, the Great One will return at some point this year. El Tigre has yet to mention when he might come back, but I can’t imagine he’ll miss the Masters. If I had to guess, I’d say Tiger will be ready by March. He’ll play at Bay Hill, possibly the Match Play, though that would be  a tough tournament to make a return.

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Methinks Sergio will win that elusive first major in 2009--likely in April. (Image: gallow_chris/Flickr)

Other than that, we’ve got a great 2009 to look forward to. Will Mickelson return to his major form? Will Kim, Villegas, or Garcia pick up that first major? How will Tiger fare after the knee surgery? Will the FedEx Cup be interesting at all this year? Will John Daly make a cut–in Europe? Will Vijay Singh smile? Great stuff.

On a personal note, my game is probably a disaster right now.  Golf-wise, December was a dreadful month here in Nashville. It rained all month. In fact, it’s raining at this moment. So the trend continues in January. I hope to pick up a new hybrid and a three wood before spring. I’m still hoping to qualify for the State Am this year. But I’ve yet to get in the needed 20 rounds to re-establish my handicap.

This year should be a good one. Look for more Chip Shots columns, though probably not weekly since the season is cranking back up. If I establish a new schedule, I’ll let you know. Also, look for a customized design to the site sometime this year. I’m going to hire a graphic designer to put a little more of a golf touch to my blog. Nothing too fancy, but something a little more unique than the current WordPress template.

Well that’ll do it for the first post of 2009. Sorry for the hiatus. But golf is almost back. So expect more soon.

Welcome to Chip Shots, eighth edition. After a week off, we’re as passionate as ever about the marriage of golf and grammar into one unified column (please note sarcasm). To check out past editions of Chips Shots, click here.

Now, on to the fun.

Anthony Kim Disqualified

Two weeks ago, Anthony Kim—one of the stars of the Ryder Cup—was disqualified for a rules violation at the HSBC Champions in China.

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Image: tbd7182/Flickr

According to Kim, he tapped his driver on a sprinkler head while walking down the fairway.

“I wasn’t angry or anything, just walking down the fairway,” Kim said. “The toe hit the sprinkler, hit the top of the sprinkler, and I looked at it and it looked a little bit different. But I wasn’t sure and I put it in my bag.”

Kim proceeded to use the driver on the next hole, poking his tee shot out of bounds only 150 yards away. Kim struck a provisional shot poorly and carded a triple bogey 8 on the hole. Obviously, the altered club didn’t help much.

But here’s where the golf rules get strange. Kim was disqualified for playing with an altered club—rule 4-3b.

The rule states: If, during a stipulated round, a player’s club is damaged other than in the normal course of play rendering it non-conforming or changing its playing characteristics, the club must not subsequently be used or replaced during the round.

So if Kim would have bagged the club and stopped using it, he would have been fine. But since he used the driver on the following hole, he had to disqualify himself after discussing the situation with a rules official.

It’s too bad common sense can’t prevail. Sure, the rules are the rules. But it’s obvious this rule was created so a player wouldn’t get an advantage from altering a club. Kim was at an obvious disadvantage after tweaking his driver—how often does he make triple bogeys?

So there you have it. Next time you slam that driver against a tree or throw your putter against the cart, put that baby in the bag and leave it there. I’m sure you fellow Country Clubbers would love to DQ you from the Club Championship.

Who or That?

Last month, I discussed the ever-controversial which versus that issue. Don’t we all hate that one. Along the same lines, I present to you two more commonly misunderstood words: who and that.

Here’s a test. Fill in the blank:

Tiger Woods is a guy _______ never quits on the golf course.

Would you use who or that in the preceding sentence? If your answer is who, then you are correct, sir!

Remember, use who for a person and that for an object. One of the most common mistakes I see is when writers replace who with that. In other words, Tiger Woods is a guy that never quits on the golf course. Not right.

Rarely, if ever, will you see the reverse mistake. For example, Augusta National is a golf course who must be played in the spring. Huh? That one is a little more obvious.

But many people write that when they mean to say who. Use who when you are talking about a person and that when you are talking about an object.

Simple enough.

As always, send your hate mail to robert.bruce@gameunderrepair.com. I’ll be glad to respond if your hate email is free from typos, comma splices, and run-on sentences. Until next time…

I’ve never been to a Ryder Cup. I had the opportunity to go this year, thanks to my friend Bryant (aka Boogie, one of Game Under Repair’s most consistent readers and commenters. We appreciate that.), but, because of prior commitments in Atlanta, I was unable to make the trip up the road to Louisville.

I’ve been to countless SEC football games in my life, and dozens of Atlanta Falcons games back when the Georgia Dome was packed out and Michael Vick was the superstar of the NFL. And I’m telling you, just watching the Ryder Cup on television reminds me of those football games. It’s unbelievable.

Keep in mind that Valhalla hosted 40,000 people over the weekend. And while that may not seem like many compared to a major college football game, when you get 20,000 people lining one fairway and green, then it is LOUD.

And the crazy thing about the Ryder Cup is–instead of 40,000 spread out across the course, as is the case in a major Tour stop, you have them all packed around four groups on four holes, or about eight holes or so during the Sunday matches. We’re talking twenty to thirty deep in some places.

I found this clip on YouTube that really gives me an idea of what it’s like to be there. This is raw video of Anthony Kim’s putt to defeat Sergio Garcia.  Funniest part of the Ryder Cup, Kim was so into the moment that he forgot he won the match and started to walk to the next tee.

But, really, listen to how loud that crowd is. This is really golf at its best. There’s no sporting event quite like the Ryder Cup. None.