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Monday, December 13, 2010

The Limerick Summary: 2010 Shark Shootout

Winner: Ian Poulter & Dustin Johnson

Around the wider world of golf: Iben Tinning won the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, her last tournament of her career; Pablo Martin successfully defended his title at the Alfred Dunhill Championship, the first event of the European Tour's 2011 season (confusing, I know); and Aree Song was medalist at the LPGA Q-School. Amateur Jessica Korda (the daughter of tennis player Peter Korda) came in second and announced that she will be turning pro. Also getting her card was Big Break's Sara Brown -- the LPGA better watch out for her!

Photo of Poulter & Johnson from PGATOUR.com
(Photo from PGATOUR.com.)

You could argue -- with justification -- that Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter have been the two best players in the world over the last couple of months. Each has won a tournament of some status (Poulter the UBS Hong Kong Open, McDowell the Chevron World Challenge) and each could have won one or two more, save for a couple of bad shots that came at the worst possible time. So it was no real surprise when the Shark Shootout came down to teams headlined by these two players.

The Shootout itself has become a standout event in the so-called "Silly Season," although that title has become less and less accurate. As less-popular events have been eliminated, leaving events that feature either the top players or respected charities, the Silly Season has almost become a showcase for the various tours. Greg Norman's tournament has been around for so long -- and consistently put on a good show built around the kind of games weekend players most frequently play -- that it has earned respect as a quality tournament.

And this year was a classic example. The final-round scramble resulted in some incredible play, like the nine straight birdies posted by Greg Norman and partner Matt Kuchar.

In case you've never played a scramble, here's how it works: All members of the team hit tee shots and choose the one they think is best, then each player hits their second shot from there. They choose the best of those shots, and play continues that way until the ball is in the hole. The beauty of a scramble is that it allows even a team of unskilled players to post a decent round. I've played four-man scrambles before and really enjoyed them.

But when the pros play a scramble, it's a wonder to behold. Scores in the 50s are common!

Two teams were tied for the lead at the start of the day: Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly, the defending champions, were in the final group with Fred Funk and Kenny Perry. The team of Ian Poulter and Dustin Johnson were one back. But Stricker and Kelly got off to a slow start, and Funk and Perry couldn't get anything going at all... so it didn't take long for them to drop out of the race and leave Ian and Dustin in the lead. After four birdies in the first four holes, they never looked back.

Paired with  Poulter and Johnson, and starting the day two strokes back, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke were chasing the whole way. Poulter and Johnson pulled out to a three-stroke lead, only to have McDowell and Clarke rein them back in. In the end, it was the clutch play of Poulter who kept the team ahead -- hitting the fairways so Johnson could go for the big drives, sticking his iron shots, and sinking pressure putts when necessary. In the end, both teams posted 59s... but it was Poulter's deft touch around the greens that secured his team's win.

Not all the sharks were great whites at Tiburon (which, I suppose you know, is Spanish for shark). In fact, given Ian's remark that he asked Dustin to play because it was useful to have a partner who hit it 350 yards, I guess you could argue they weren't sharks at all. And that will have to serve as the intro to this week's limerick:
The long ball of Johnson went soaring
And the plaid ball of Poulter went scoring.
Once the big dogs were eating,
The field took a beating
And no one could say it was boring.

3 comments:

  1. LOL ! Good one !!

    SO - golf tradition says that you defend your title. With the win, Tinning has a tour card for next year, so does she come back like Ochoa to defend her title ? That hip could be feeling pretty good by then.

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  2. I can't see why not. Even if she didn't have a card, I would think the previous champion could get a sponsor's exemption.

    I guess the real question is whether her hip is bad enough that retiring from her career means she's also retiring from golf. Annika and Lorena distinguish between the two, you know. ;-)

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  3. She didn't say if she was going to go the surgery route or just give it time and a lot of rest. (I assume there won't be any checks into the boards around the house from hubby for a while)

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