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‘Dawgs on Tour: They’re All Over the Place

This is one of those unique weeks in professional golf - two events on the US tour going on at the same time. And neither one is in the United States.

First we have the World Golf Championship - Mexico Championship, commonly referred to as the WGC - Mexico Championship. WGC events are about 15 years old now, and were purpose-built to attract the best players in the world at something other than just the 4 majors. And I mean the world. There are several other events that get either the biggest names in the US (like Memorial, Players Championship, etc.), or the biggest names in Europe (BMW Championship), but the WGC invites from all over.

This particular one was moved from Miami (a little blowback from it being held at Doral/Trump National) to Mexico, and seems to be doing well here. Its being played on the outskirts of Mexico City, and at elevations around 7.600 feet. Club de Golf Chapultepec is pretty well regarded, has it’s technical aspects, but surprisingly short. At around 7,300 yards, it actually plays to closer to 6,700 yards because at elevation the golf ball travels farther. So most players will be scrambling this week trying to dial in how far each of their irons flies, and getting adjusted to new distances.

Tiger Woods is playing at this course for the first time, as is Bryson DeChambeau. Matt Kuchar returns to Mexico since having some bad press about how he tips his caddy. Phil Mickelson is the defending champion, and just a couple of weeks removed from his win at Pebble Beach. Kevin Kisner and Bubba Watson are the former Bulldogs who qualified (top 50 in the world, top 30 in FedEx not in top 50 world, top 20 European Tour otherwise not qualified, and a few from the Asian tours). 70 total golfers, so no cut after 36 holes. It’s an elite field, and you can make up ground on the weekend even if you don’t start out hot.

Opposite this event is a true PGA Tour stop, but one that is fairly young. The Puerto Rico Open has about 132 golfers (less than the 144 or 156 in a normal event), and is a PGA Tournament for those who didn’t qualify for the WGC event. Sure enough it’s held in Puerto Rico. And you may have noticed that Bulldogs have been doing well there in recent weeks.

Joey Garber and Sepp Straka (both PGA Tour rookies) are a couple of the Georgia grads playing. They will be joined by Brendon Todd (trying to work his way back to full-time status) and Chris Kirk. They are playing the Coco Beach Golf & Country Club. I’ve been to Cocoa Beach quite a few times, but not this one. The one I went to involved dragging a keg on a dolly through hot sand trying to catch a Space Shuttle launch (you can see Canaveral from the beach) and in no condition to either drag something nor see clearly. I digress.

This tournament will have a cut, and it’s total purse is $3,000,000. That pales in comparison to the $10,250,000 purse in Mexico. So if you’ve played well in recent years, you made a lot of money and qualified for big events like the WGC. Which puts you in position to compete against a small field, no 36 hole cut, and guaranteed money on a grand scale. If you’re struggling, you face a bigger field, fewer amenities, and will continue to struggle with smaller prize money at the Puerto Rico Open. See how that works, boys and girls? I will say that most of the guys playing in Puerto Rico would change their life with a win.

There are a few other things to watch out for. First, the players can wear shorts any day other than tournament days (Thursday-Sunday). So they are getting their tan on Monday-Wednesday... I’m sure there will be clips of this during the TV broadcast. Second, there is a debate about slow play. The Tour can hand out penalty shots for being “out of position” aka playing slow. But they don’t. And last Sunday was a slog fest, albeit in tough conditions, but one of the slowest players on the Tour drove fans nuts with his... well, his slow play. So that will be discussed.

If you want to catch some of this hoopla and prefer your golf a little more Mexican, you can check it out thusly:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-7 p.m. ET; live stream:

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-7 p.m. ET; live stream:

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, Noon-2:30 p.m. ET; NBC, 2:30-6 p.m. ET; live stream:

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, Noon-1:30 p.m. ET; NBC, 1:30-6 p.m. ET; live stream:

If you like your golf on a US territory, flip over to Golf Channel from Thursday to Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET, Saturday from 2:30 to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

So plenty of golf to choose from, and 6 Bulldogs in total to root for. Enjoy your prime TV-in-the-background programming for your weekend nap. And as always...


‘Dawgs Go Low In Final Round To Capture First

Courtesy of

Both golf teams at the University of Georgia have competed on the island of Puerto Rico in the last couple of weeks. And a few alumni golfers will be traveling there this week for a PGA Tour stop. Considering the historical success of Georgia golfers, you know there had to be some good news coming out of Puerto Rico sooner or later.

Sure enough, that news came Tuesday, as the Men’s Golf team tied for first place in the Puerto Rico Classic.

Fourteen teams competed in the three-round team format, and Georgia started off strong. Firing a 6 under par 282 in Sunday’s first round (5 players compete for each team with the 4 best scores counting), UGA was just 2 strokes off the lead held by NC State. Junior Trevor Phillips led the team and closed strong with 4 birdies on his last 6 holes to card a 68.

Phillips’ younger brother Trent took his turn Monday, scoring a 3 under par 69 and giving the team a 286 total. This tied NC State on the day, but left them behind hard charging Georgia Tech.

But the Bulldogs were not going to let Tech walk home with the hardware by themselves. Junior Spencer Ralston got in on the action, recording his own 69 on Tuesday. And with all 4 scores under par, Georgia tallied a 280 total to erase the deficit and tie Georgia Tech for the team title.

Georgia Coach Chris Haack now has 61 team titles, the last being in 2016. And now his teams have captured a victory in 19 of his 23 seasons leading the ‘Dawgs.

So come on home, Bulldogs, you’ve earned your rest. Ring a bell when you get back. And as always...


Gym Dogs to host Kentucky

The University of Georgia Women’s Gymnastics team will host the #13th ranked Kentucky Wildcats Friday night at Stegeman Coliseum. This is the team’s annual “Pink Meet”, and is being promoted as “Flip For A Cause” to support Breast Cancer awareness.

Kentucky and UGA are both 2-2 in conference this season, so the winner looks to gain the edge in conference record. Kentucky and Georgia are two of the handful of teams having eclipsed the 197 mark in a meet.

The Wildcats rank 12th in Vault compared to the Bulldogs 3rd, but do have a 14 ranking in Bars whereas the Gym Dogs are 18th. But that is the only deficit, as Georgia has a 5 ranking on Beam (!!!) and UK is 20th. Floor is #9 vs #15 with the advantage to the Athenians.

So on paper, Georgia is favored. Count in the Steg factor, plus the expected large turnout, and UGA should capture a valuable conference win. In this uneducated fan’s opinion, I’d like to see some more consistency on Bars. We were a bit shaky on Beam last week, but unlike the last couple of seasons, our Beam performance has been very solid in 2019.

Another item of note: Rachel Baumann was named the SEC Freshmen of the Week for her peformance last week at Mizzou. Baumann captured the event title on Beam scoring a 9.900 leading all ‘Dawgs. She also posted a 9.850 on floor, contributing to the Gym Dogs 1st SEC road win this season. (Side note: her sister is a sophomore on the Florida Gator Gymnastic team. I’m sure she’s a lovely young lady, but I Hate Florida).

The meet will be broadcast on the SEC Network at 6:45 pm ET. The early starting time is probably to accommodate the other big SEC battle - #2 Florida visiting #9 Alabama, which is also broadcast on SEC Network at 8:30 ET.

And as always...


‘Dawgs on Tour: Redneck Riviera Edition

Tournament: Genesis Open, February 14-17, 2019

Course: Riviera Country Club, 7,322 yards, par 71 (Los Angeles)

Purse: $7,400,000

Defending Champion: Gerry Lester Watson, Jr. You might know him by his nickname. Bubba was hanging around for the first couple of days, then hit the nearby Staples Center where he played in the NBA Celebrity All-Star basketball game (not great), then promptly posted scores of 65-69 on the weekend to come from behind and capture his 3rd victory in this tournament on this course.

Fun Fact: This is the only tournament that Tiger Woods has failed to win having played at least 4 times. He has two runner-up finishes, and this was the site of his first competition against PGA Tour pros (I’m old enough to have seen it when it happened). Plus, he grew up less than an hour away. The only way to explain this anomaly is that he has just had incredible success everywhere else.

How to Watch: Thursday-Friday, 2-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 1-2:45 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (CBS). Sunday, 1-2:45 p.m. (GC), 3-6:30 p.m. (CBS).

Dawgs in the Field: 2. Bubba Watson, Harris English. My normally reliable source isn’t updated at the moment, so I was scouring the interwebs thinking “Only 2 Bulldogs? We’ve had 6-10 Bulldogs entered in every tourney the last month - this can’t be right!” But looking back at last year’s post of this tournament, sure enough, only Bubba and Harris seem to like LA.

Edit: Turns out my doubts were well-placed. 6 Bulldogs are entered. In addition to English and Watson, Keith Mitchell, Brian Harman, Russell Henley, and Hudson Swafford are also putting peg to ground today.

So now you know Bubba Watson, PGA Tour pro and Georgia Bulldog, won this tournament last year. After having won it in 2014 and 2016. Here’s how I called it just prior to the final round last year:

I like his chances Sunday, but his recent history doesn’t support this.

Shows what I know. But my, what a difference a year makes.

This time last year, Bubba was coming off a bad 2017 campaign (by his standards). His world golf ranking had fallen to #117, having been as high as #2 in 2014. Thanks to this win, and a couple of others last year (and over $5.7 million in earnings), Bubba is now #16 in the world.

This time last year, Tiger Woods was in the 800’s in world golf rankings. He only won a single tournament last season (Tour Championship), but did make 16 of 18 cuts, cashed over $5.4 million himself, and is now #13 in the world.

This time last year, Harris English was #223 in the world. The year before that he was #86. He’s now #336. Get it together, Vazquez English.

The field will include 20 of the top 30 in the world, with most of the big names playing. Names like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, and even Fred Couples - making his 35th appearance.

The course is an old-school classic. The rough is usually very thick and very penal. It is not heavily wooded (except along the property borders on a few holes), but the tree placement is perfectly vindictive. It isn’t particularly long, but it has enough length, plus rough, plus trees, plus poa annua greens which can be bumpy this time of year. So it will show it’s teeth to plenty of the world’s best.

The 10th hole happens to be one of my favorites in golf. It is a short par 4, driveable when you consider the distance of 315 yards. But the green is diabolically skinny, and bunkering on 3 sides protects it well. It usually plays on average over par.

Likewise #6 is a 200 yard par 3 with a big green, but the green also has a sand trap in the middle of it. So if your tee shot is on the correct side, par is not a problem. If you have a trap between your ball and the cup, well, you might get your thinking cap on.

And #18 might be my favorite finishing hole on the PGA Tour. 475 yards, all uphill, dogleg left to right, with a huge slope on the left (where your ball can hang up in the rough, forcing an awkward stance and almost guaranteeing not hitting the green), sloping away on the right (trees certainly blocking your approach shot), and a green sitting up on high, just below the magnificent clubhouse.

Georgia baseball gets underway, there should still be some energy in the fanbase in basketball thanks to recent events, the Gym Dogs continue to show out every week, and I’m sure there are other things to occupy your free time. But if you like golf, this is a tournament you have to add to your rotation. Enjoy, and as always...


Bulldogs Teeing Off in Spring Golf Season

We take a break from our normal pro ‘Dawgs on Tour coverage to bring you an update on how the current crop of undergraduates are matriculating through the NCAA golf world.

The Georgia Women’s Golf team now has two 2019 tournaments under it’s belt. At the end of January, the Bulldogs traveled west to Phoenix and a 1 day, 18 hole event at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club. The writing was on the wall for Coach Brewer’s squad to do well, and they finished the day in 2nd place, just 3 shots behind winner Arizona State (#14 nationally). Freshman Jo-Hua Hung led the Georgia team by carding a 2 under par 70 in her first collegiate action. A January enrollee, Hung was highly sought-after and she proved her mettle early.

The Bulldogs just finished the Lady Puerto Rico Classic, a 14 team event held Sunday through Tuesday in San Juan. And 8th place finish was respectable, finishing behind top 10 teams such as Kent State and Arkansas, plus #14 Northwestern. None of the Lady Bulldogs were able to go low, and the team shot 299-293-298 over the 3 days (par each day was 288). Two freshmen did finish in the top 20; Harmie Constantino tied in 9th place, and Jenny Bae tied for 18th.

The #35 ranked Bulldog team is back in Athens, and has a couple of weeks to practice before heading out to Seal Beach, CA in 2 weeks. The Gold Rush is a multi-team tournament hosted by Long Beach State, and is held February 25-26.

And just when the unincorporated territorians of Puerto Rico thought they were rid of Georgia golfers, the Men’s Golf team arrives on the island this Sunday for the Puerto Rico Classic. One might think of this as the “brother” tournament of the Lady Puerto Rico Classic mentioned above. Also a 14 team event, the #21 ranked Bulldogs will face some familiar and not so familiar foes in their first 2019 outing. Clemson (#12), Oklahoma (#13 - no word on if their top player will choose to enter the NFL draft), and good ol’ little brother Georgia Tech. Seven teams in the field rank lower than 50th, so we probably should finish ahead of Maryland, UNC-G, and Purdue.

The North Avenuers are historically a very strong golf team, and are currently ranked #4 in the country. Former GT players you might have heard of include David Duval (won the British Open and surpassed Tiger to be #1 in the world), Stewart Cink (also British Open champion), Larry Mize (who robbed Greg Norman in the ‘87 Masters and of which I will never forgive), Matt Kuchar, Tripp Isenhour, and plenty of others. Oh, and some hacker named Bobby Jones.

Forgive my side trip, it’s been a long winter.

Hopefully that gets you up to speed on golf from the Classic City. If you currently reside in an area that is above 50 degrees Fahrenheit and are able to play golf regularly, count your blessings. And you should be reading this only if your playing partner is in the clubhouse getting you a Diablo Sandwich and a Dr. Pepper from the nice lady.

And as always...


Gym Dogs Look To Tame Tigers

The Gym Dogs took care of business last Friday, putting up a season-high 197.475 in their first SEC win care of the Arkansas gymnastics team. There were accolades aplenty from the match, with Sydney Snead scoring a 39.600 in the All-Around (her career best) and season-highs in bars (9.8), beam (9.925), and floor (9.925).

Junior Sabrina Vega caught some of that spotlight too, with a 9.9 on vault (season-high) and 9.925 on beam (season and meet high). Obviously it was a team effort to eclipse the 197 mark (2nd time this season), and included stand-out performances by Rachel Dickson on floor, and freshman Mikayla Magee on beam and floor.

If the Gym Dogs want to notch a 2nd conference win, they will have to continue their recent trend. But this time is against the 13th ranked Missouri Tigers, and on the road in CoMo. I don’t know the full line-up, but here’s what you can usually expect:

Senior Sydney Snead will compete in all four disciplines. She currently boasts a season average of 39.354 in the All-Around.
Junior Rachel Dickson also competes in the All-Around with an average of 39.012, and she stands out in the uneven bars (2nd best on team) and floor.
Fellow Junior standout Sabrina Vega averages over a 9.850 on beam and vault, and her 9.904 average on floor backs up her incredible routines there.
Sophomores Marissa Oakley and Emily Schild are usually on the bars.
Freshman Alexa Al-Hameed has been a mainstay on bars, and fellow first year Rachel Baumann has competed every week on beam. Rachael Lukacs is living up to billing on both vault and floor.

The meet is broadcast on the SEC+ Network (check your local listings) and starts at 7:00 pm CT (8:00 in Athens). Georgia lost it’s last SEC road test at Auburn last month, so they have a second chance to beat the Tigers away from home (albeit nicer Tigers). Sure enough they will go to Baton Rouge to face LSU later in the season. All 3 Tigers, all 3 on the road. But for now... Just. Beat. Missouri. And as always...


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