Archive: April 2010

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April 30, 2010

Truth and Rumors: Tiger's tally, golf lobbies Washington

Posted at 1:07 PM by Alan Bastable

Tiger cards a 121
Tiger Woods shot a sloppy first-round 74 at Quail Hollow, but a far more damming number surfaced yesterday: 121. That’s how many women Woods allegedly confessed to bedding while married to Elin Nordegren, a source told the National Enquirer. (Move over, Ladies of Tiger Woods Wall Calendar -- here come the Ladies of Tiger Woods Playing Cards!) The complete story is in the print edition only, but the NY Daily News has the dish:

Woods handed a four-page list of conquests to his wife while undergoing sex-addiction therapy at a Mississippi clinic, the Enquirer reported.

At the time, Woods was trying to prevent Nordegren from walking out on him—and taking their two kids and a big chunk of his fortune with her.

Divorce, according to the story (and many others), is imminent, which would be just about the only predictable turn in this sad and sordid saga.

Forget Goldman. It's all about 'Golf, man!'
Golf is more than just a game—so says the PGA of America and a slew of other golf associations, country clubs and equipment companies that have banded together under the moniker “We Are Golf” to lobby Washington for a little respect. The Washington Post reports:

Represented by the Podesta Group lobbying powerhouse, We Are Golf kicked off its formation Wednesday with a whirlwind visit to Capitol Hill. PGA chief Joe Steranka and other industry leaders met with several dozen members of Congress, including such avowed golfing proponents as Reps. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Greg Walden (R-Ohio).

With a fancy Web site and a $15,000-a-month lobbying budget, the coalition says it hopes to bring the game up to par with other businesses in the realm of Washington politics, although it is still working on its agenda. Citing industry studies, We Are Golf says the game is a $76 billion industry that directly or indirectly supports 2 million jobs.

"This is the first time our industry has come together like this," Steranka said in an interview after his Capitol Hill meetings. "We're not looking for an unfair advantage; our message is that we want to put golf on a level playing field with other small businesses, because that's what we are."

President Obama could not be reached for comment. He was playing golf.

Why Ochoa might retire as No. 2 
You don’t need to be an LPGA junkie to appreciate the story lines coming out of the Tres Marias Championship—Lorena Ochoa’s last stop before ducking off to The Villages. Ochoa has said she would love to conclude her career as the No. 1 player in the world, but her good friend and World No. 5 Ai Miyazoto—whom Ochoa requested to play with this week—is in position to hijack the fairytale finish after blitzing the course with a first-round 10-under 62, four better than Ochoa.

The rub: a Miyazoto win could bump Ochoa from the top spot. Beth Ann Baldry of Golfweek reports:

LPGA officials will outline all the various scenarios once Round 1 is in the books and they can determine strength of field. World No. 2 Jiyai Shin is playing this week in Japan, so her results will factor into the equation. Suzann Pettersen, No. 4, also has a chance to take over, but she’ll have to play hard the next several days to catch up after a 73.

In typical Ochoa fashion, she's taking it all in stride and enjoying the time with her gal pals. “We never pay attention to how we hit the ball or how many birdies we make,” she said. “It’s more about quality time with your friends.”

Didn't Rory Sabbatini say that once?

Tiger's facial hair 
Tiger’s goatee is back, and according to a Huffington Post poll, the public is torn over whether it’s “handsome” (48 percent) or “hideous” (52 percent). Frankly, I’d like to see Tiger go all NHL and grow out his facial hair until he bags another major. With the way he’s swinging it, he might look like Billy Gibbons before he slips on another green jacket. Any thoughts on the best facial hair the game has ever seen? Gary McCord? Sam Torrance? Fluff McCowan? My vote goes to a true pioneer.

Live Blog: Round 2 at Quail Hollow Championship

Posted at 12:14 PM by Farrell Evans

SI's Farrell Evans live blogged the second round of the Quail Hollow Championship.

Leaderboard | Photos: Round 2 | Course Profile | TV Schedule

6:00 p.m.  See you next week for the Players. Enjoy the golf and have a great weekend.

5:57 p.m. To Reinier: I know that Hank only takes his cues from Tiger and so far Tiger fully believes in him.

5:55 p.m.  Traci, I think Billy Mayfair is going to surprise us and hang in there. But I like Jim Furyk to steal the show by Sunday afternoon.  He's played the best this year out of everyone on this jam-packed leader board. Of course we can't forget about Phil, who might just run away with it.  Have a good weekend.

5:53 p.m. Tiger is talking. Says he played ok on the front nine. "It is what it is. Whatever it is it wasn't enough," when asked by Steve Sands was it rust or just bad play.  

Continue reading "Live Blog: Round 2 at Quail Hollow Championship" »

Alan Shipnuck Mailbag: Wild driving from Phil and Tiger, headline mystery solved and more

Posted at 11:29 AM by Alan Shipnuck

Why can't Tiger or Phil hit the ball straight? And do either of them have a chance at the U.S. Open if they can't hit at least 50% of the fairways? — Robert Anderson

This first question is so simple, and yet so profound. Why, indeed, do two such extravagantly talented players often drive it so crooked? Some of it is physics – they're big, strong lads with long swing arcs who generate as much clubhead speed as anyone in golf, so even small flaws lead to foul balls. There is also their shared aggression. Phil and Tiger both like to attack golf courses, generally swinging driver whenever possible. This magnifies their misses. Then there is the psychological aspect that hitting every green and fairway would be tedious for such celebrated escape artists. I once played at Torrey Pines with a guy who competed against Mickelson in amateur golf, and he recalled a long-ago round in which the young Phil bet his caddie on every hole how much he could spin his ball back on every green. He was hitting trick shots in the middle of a tournament round, just to stave off boredom. I guess these savants need the challenge of playing out of the trees.

As for the Open, I teed it up at Pebble Beach last weekend, not because I wanted to but because the readers have a right to know. The rough was very playable. Open doctor Mike Davis recently stated that he wanted more of a risk/reward setup, with shorter rough tempting players to try dicey recoveries rather than just hack out sideways. So if the penalty for missing fairways is reduced, this obviously helps Phil and, especially, Tiger.

Philinfullcover_0419_large I have to ask, was there a problem with the Sports Illustrated Masters cover with a headline that said 'PHIL IN FULL'? Am I missing something? Two customer service reps at SI are clueless, a dozen of my friends (and counting) can't tell me what the hell that means... Did someone forget to complete the title? — Bill Flynn

I'm impressed you actually called customer service on this, but their knowledge of the magazine ends with address changes. Do you know the term "A man in full"? Means, basically, a guy at the height of his powers.

Or maybe the headline was just a reference to Phil's Krispy Kreme drive-by.

What does it actually cost to be a title sponsor for a PGA tournament? — Robert Neibert

Used to be $7-8 million, depending on the purse, but I've heard from a few sources that the Tour is willing to cut some deals these days. Commish Tim Finchem has made it very clear that he won't let purses drop on his watch, but the Tour will pick up the tab on other tournament expenses, reducing the overall cost to a corporate sponsor. But it's still a big chunk of cheddar. Hilton Head is currently dying for a sponsor. The Robert Neibert Invitational has a nice ring to it, no?

What courses do the pros wish they could play (for fun, not a tourney)? Bandon, PV? — anonymous, via Twitter

A lot of guys have dropped by Pine Valley through the years, coming or going to the many tournaments on the Eastern seaboard. They love it, just as the rest of us do. Bandon has had fewer drop-ins because of its remote location. Pros will play a course if it's nearby, but they rarely make a special road trip. Probably the most popular non-tournament course is Cypress Point. On the Wednesday before the Clambake, it's always jam-packed with Tour players. Adam Scott has called it his favorite course in the world, and discerning golfing gentlemen including Mickelson and Brad Faxon always rave about it.

In the Tour Confidential discussion about Lorena Ochoa's successor at number one, I noticed there was no mention of Ai Miyazato. Do you not see her as being in the same league as "Shelly" et al? Now that she finally found her confidence on the LPGA Tour, I think she's going to dominate like she did in Japan. — Jim Steele

Good call, James, for having written this even before Ai dropped a little 62 on the competition in Mexico. There's no question she has a terrific all-around game and the killer instinct needed to close out tournaments. I think Ai is often overlooked because she hits the ball shorter than other top players, although she and Jiyai Shin are comparable in length. Power is always an advantage but I'm partial to shotmaking and grit, and Miyazato has plenty of both.

When players finish a Saturday or Sunday with the same scores, why wouldn't the PGA consider picking matchups people really want to see instead of the random "first in, last out" method? Especially a sport that is scrapping for ratings. A good example was Saturday at the Masters where Woods and Mickelson could have been paired. — Joe, New Hampshire

This has always bugged me, too. I'd like to see some discretion used to provide the theatre we all crave. The only problem I see could come with the leaders' final round pairing. Being in the last group—or not—can confer certain competitive advantages. If you start shifting around guys for TV purposes there can be the perception that some players are being given favorable treatment. But I agree that's a small price to pay for some boffo twosomes.

April 29, 2010

Phil Mickelson named one of Time Magazine's Most Influential People

Posted at 1:20 PM by Ryan Reiterman

The accolades keep piling up for Phil Mickelson after his Masters victory earlier this month. In the latest issue of Time, Mickelson is named one of the World's Most Influential People. The list is broken down into several categories -- Leaders, Heroes, Artists, Thinkers -- with Mickelson landing in the "Heroes" category. Bill Clinton, Serena Williams and Ben Stiller also made the list.

The man with twice as many green jackets as Mickelson, Jack Nicklaus, wrote a glowing tribute to Lefty. Here's some of what the Golden Bear had to say:

We have all celebrated Phil's victories and cried with him over the struggles faced by his wife Amy and his mother. Family has always been my priority, and their presence outside the ropes has underlined every win. After he won this year's Masters, I imagine that slipping into a third green jacket would not have meant nearly as much to Phil had he not first slipped into the embrace of his family.

Parker McLachlin's 12 on par 5 ties worst hole of 2010 PGA Tour season

Posted at 11:24 AM by Cameron Morfit

Parker McLachlin made a seven-over-par 12 on the par-5 seventh hole at Quail Hollow Thursday morning, tying the worst score of the 2010 PGA Tour season. 

McLachlin, the 2008 Legends Reno-Tahoe Open champion, matched Michael Campbell's 12 on the sixth hole at Bay Hill earlier this year. John Daly's 18 in 1988, also on the sixth hole at Bay Hill, is the highest single-hole score on record with the PGA Tour.

The seventh hole at Quail Hollow measures 532 yards and is bordered by water right of the fairway. After shooting a 49 on the front nine Thursday, McLachlin bounced back with a birdie to start his back nine.

Truth & Rumors: Stop waiting for Tiger Woods to be heckled

Posted at 11:22 AM by Mike Walker

Add Jeff Stein of The LA Times to the list of people who sound disappointed that Tiger Woods hasn't been heckled since his return to competitive golf last month. Reporting on Woods's pro-am round at the Quail Hollow Championship in Charlotte on Wednesday, Stein notes the presence of six police officers on the first hole--with pistols and handcuffs, he adds--and says Woods got a "subdued" response from fans at his 7:30 a.m tee time.

The Quail Hollow Championship is the first "public" tournament of Woods' comeback from the sex scandal that turned his life into tabloid fodder. Though all went smoothly during his run to a fourth-place finish at the Masters, it seems the PGA Tour and tournament officials aren't taking any risks with a public given far easier access to tickets.

"We're not going to be scared to take somebody off the property," tournament director Kym Hougham had said one day earlier, later adding that he expected any untoward comments would be met with warnings and not ejections.

Quail Hollow patrons offered little cause for concern Wednesday, though the response from those who followed Woods' 7:30 a.m. group seemed rather subdued even by pro-am standards. Scattered cheers mixed in with the applause that greeted his introduction, good shots were acknowledged politely.

Well, it's a pro-am. Good shots will be acknowledged politely. Golf is a spectator sport for people who think baseball is too fast-paced. It's not like Ben Roethlisberger getting the business from Cleveland fans this fall. If you're waiting for Woods to get a hostile reception on a golf course, it's never going to happen, except maybe in Wales for the Ryder Cup, where you have teams and rooting interests. (I suspect Woods will get heckled in Wales with more humor than nastiness.) In truth, those police in Charlotte are unnecessary because the galleries will police themselves. If a guy is giving Woods a hard time, other fans will tell him to shut up.

The other thing I don't get is why everybody is referring to this as Woods' first "public" tournament. The Quail Hollow Championship sells tickets, reviews press-credential requests and is contested on a private golf course. That's not any more public than the Masters.

If you can't beat 'em, bribe 'em
The golf industry, still smarting from being shut off from federal stimulus funds, formed a lobbying group (We Are Golf) to represent the game's interests in Washington, D.C. The group made its first visit to Capital Hill on Wednesday, according to The Washington Post.

Industry leaders say Congress too often treats the sport as a marginal luxury item rather than a major engine of economic growth, and wrongly tags the mostly middle-class sport as a pastime of the idle rich. Golf courses are also regular targets of environmentalists, the industry says. The business has not had a major lobbying presence in Washington in recent years.

The PGA reported no lobbying at all in 2009, although the PGA Tour -- representing the profitable professional golfing events -- spent about $400,000. The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America spent $60,000, and the World Golf Foundation spent nothing in 2009, according to disclosure reports.

The We Are Golf group will have a $15,000-a-month lobbying budget, according to The Post.

They don't know Jack
The Royal and Ancient is still waiting to hear if three-time Open champion Jack Nicklaus will participate in celebrations to mark the tournament's 150th anniversary at St. Andrews this summer. Nicklaus rankled some Scotsmen with his comments at the Masters that he'd only make the trip if his sponsor, the Royal Bank of Scotland asked him to. Euen Mclean of The Scottish Daily Record has the details.

Open legend Jack Nicklaus has still not confirmed whether he will come to St Andrews this summer after shocking his fans with mercenary comments about the prestigious Champions Challenge event. The Golden Bear is one of only two past Claret Jug winners still to respond to the Royal and Ancient's invitation to take part in the four hole event intended to celebrate the 150th anniversary of The Open. Greg Norman has delayed to see if he is fit enough after undergoing shoulder surgery, but Nicklaus' silence is a worry for organizers, who saw him as a star attraction.

Live Blog: Round 1 at Quail Hollow Championship

Posted at 11:02 AM by Ryan Reiterman's Ryan Reiterman live blogged the first round of the Quail Hollow Championship.

Leaderboard | Photos: Round 1 | Course Profile | TV Schedule

6:02 p.m. Perry makes a nice par save on No. 9, his 18th, for a 6-under 66, one shot behind Bo Van Pelt. That's all for today. Thanks for following along, and tune in tomorrow as SI's Farrell Evans will be here to blog Tiger's second round.

6 p.m. Phil's chip shot fails to get near the hole and rolls to the front of the green. His par putt doesn't fall, and Mickelson finishes bogey-bogey to shoot a 2-under 70. Not all bad considering he's battling a stomach bug, but unfortunately for Phil, he has an early tee time Friday morning.

THRILL ALERT! From the trees on 18, Phil blasts his second shot short of the green. In the group ahead, Villegas makes par to finish at 5 under.

5:47 p.m. Perry's tee shot on No. 9 flies through a bunker and into the rough. Phil's drive on 18 flies way left into the woods.

Continue reading "Live Blog: Round 1 at Quail Hollow Championship" »

April 28, 2010

Truth & Rumors: Kim hangs tough, the Road Hole expands and Sabbatini complains

Posted at 12:21 PM by Steve Beslow

Kim toughs it out
It's no secret that Anthony Kim's been in pain over the last few weeks with a detached ligament in his left thumb that will eventually require surgery. It's also no secret that he's playing some fantastic golf, including a win at the Shell Houston Open and a T3 at the Masters. Kim will tee off again this week at Quail Hollow, but Hank Gola of the New York Daily News tells us the story behind Kim's eventual surgery and rehab.

"The doctor told me when the pain gets too hard to deal with, that's when I should do it. But as of now, he said it can't get any worse, so I guess that's a good thing. I'm just going to keep playing until I can't anymore."

Kim's doctor is also telling him he'll have to miss between two and three months, including rehab, so he's trying to figure out just when that break should occur. He's No. 3 on the PGA Tour money list and No. 10 in the world. He knows he's not going to be able to make it through the end of the season.

"I don't think I'm going to take that chance because I want to play in the Ryder Cup. ...That's a huge goal of mine," he said. "It was probably one of the greatest moments I've ever had (in 2008). I want to be healthy for that. I just want to time that right.

"But at the same time, I want to play in all the majors, too, so in golf, there's not really a good time to take time off."

I know it's going to sound sappy, but it makes me feel warm and fuzzy hearing Kim talk so emphatically about playing in the Ryder Cup. Ever since Robert Allenby called out the young Californian's fondness for celebration and referred to him as America's "loosest cannon" at the 2009 President's Cup, Kim has been a man on a mission: to prove that he not only loves golf, but that he loves competing for his country. Consider me convinced, and consider Allenby lucky he won't be playing for team Europe. 

The long(er) and winding Road Hole
Late last year, the Royal and Ancient began coyly suggesting that they would be making some key alterations to the links at St. Andrews in preparation for the British Open. They later confirmed that the most noteworthy modification would be a lengthening of the Old Course's famous "Road Hole." Ryan Ballaengee on the Waggle Room blog takes us through the changes:

As we first told you last October, the R&A had been plotting a forty yard extension of the hole by creating a new teeing ground across the hole's actual road namesake. At a press briefing today at St. Andrew's, Royal & Ancient chief Peter Dawson officially unveiled the new Road Hole at the Old Course.

The new tee, across the road, has been created in an effort to (a) force more players to hit driver off of the tee and (b) require a longer iron shot into the green, thus trying to make the deep pot bunker guarding the green and the actual road behind it more likely to come into play.

Dawson described the diminishing challenge by saying, "We don't see many players on the road these days, and that's because of the distance control they can achieve and the accuracy with these shorter iron clubs. What we're trying to do here is restore the hole to its previous challenge where the players are having to hit into the green with a much longer iron club than they have been in recent times."

The R&A can talk all they want about forcing "more players" to take certain shots, but this is the most clear example of Tiger-proofing since Augusta National hulked-up in 2001. That being said, it's hard to blame the Brits for trying to keep the Tiger at bay. He's won the last two Open Championships that were held at the Old Course, destroying golf's greatest natural treasure to the tune of -19 in 2000 and -14 in 2005.

Wie's opportunity
In what has become a rare optimistic take on the LPGA after Lorena Ochoa's surprise retirement last week, Jim Brighters of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer claims that there are good things to come for the ladies' Tour and for its most enigmatic star.

Just a few years after Annika Sorenstam walked away from the game, Lorena Ochoa followed suit.

When Sorenstam retired, she left the tour in the very capable hands of Ochoa. The Mexican star was already ranked No. 1 in the world, so Sorenstam's departure, while huge, was not catastrophic for the Tour.

But Ochoa will be gone by Sunday night, which means welcome to the Jiyai Shin era. OK, not really. Shin will assume the No. 1 ranking, but this tour now belongs to one person: Michelle Wie.

Remember a few years back when Wie was just using the LPGA Tour as a warm-up for the PGA Tour? She had won only one USGA amateur event, and only once threatened to make a cut on the PGA Tour, but oh yes, Wie was going to play with the big boys.

Now Wie owns the LPGA Tour, and will do it with just one tour victory.

This actually isn't that far from my reaction to the news in last week's roundup, that Ochoa's retirement is a huge opportunity for Michelle Wie. But Brighters takes a leap that I'm not willing to take...that Wie is actually ready to step into this spotlight. While she seemed to really turn a corner at last year's Solheim Cup, it's impossible to ignore Wie's inability to really come to terms with her past mistakes, something that became abundantly clear with the selective amnesia she showed when asked about pulling out of Annika's tournament in 2007 and the mixed signals about her wrist injury over the years. Frankly, I think she's grown up a ton in a very short period of time, and there's no denying that she has the chance to really do something special. But it seems like when Brighters looks at Wie, he sees a young Phil Mickelson...for the moment, I still see a young Sergio Garcia.

Members Only
Last, but assuredly not least, the always-awesome Stephanie Wei of "Wei Under Par" has tons of great info from last night's Player's Only meeting at Quail Hollow. An excerpt won't do it justice (just read the whole thing), but my favorite tidbit involves Rory Sabbatini. Rory was up to his trademark complaining, but this time it wasn't just about slow play (his personal crusade). Sabbatini also took golf commentators to task for being too dull, saying something along the lines of, “When I want to take a nap, I turn on the Golf Channel.” I'll tell you what I like about Sabbatini, he's no hypocrite: he plays fast, and he's never boring.

April 27, 2010

Alan Shipnuck Mailbag: Ask a question now!

Posted at 4:34 PM by

Magazine deadlines interfered with Alan Shipnuck's Mailbag last week, but he's all set to answer your questions this Friday. Leave your questions in the comments section below, and he will post his sort-of-weekly mailbag on Friday afternoon.

Follow Alan Shipnuck on Twitter

Truth & Rumors: Apple says no to Tiger cartoon app on iPhone

Posted at 1:30 PM by Michael Chwasky

Deadspin reports that cartoonist Daryl Cagle's Tiger Woods editorial cartoons app was rejected by Apple because it ridicules a public figure. In light of the plethora of Woods' sex-scandal-related press coverage over the past six months, the fact that anyone would shy away from Tiger-driven exposure might raise some eyebrows. But according a letter from Apple, the app, which is designed to collate recent editorial cartoons about the four-time Masters winner, violates iPhone license agreements:

"Thank you for submitting Tiger Woods Cartoons to the App Store. We've reviewed Tiger Woods Cartoons and determined that we cannot post this version of your iPhone application to the App Store because it contains content that ridicules public figures and is in violation of Section 3.3.17 from the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement which states:

"Applications may be rejected if they contain content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, sounds, etc.) that in Apple's reasonable judgement may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory."

My take: Regardless of Section 3.3.17, Apple is trying to take the high road on a lowbrow subject. Though normally I'd agree with the strategy, in this case I'd rather see the app approved. If it weren't for "ridiculing" public figures, there wouldn't be any late night TV.

Watson's Secrets Revealed
According to Jerry Potter of USA Today, five-time British Open Champion Tom Watson focuses on the fundamentals in his new two-disc DVD set, released through his website, Evidently the 60-year-old pro does let viewers in on one actual "secret," but the videos mostly focus on the basics, which he credits for his own success:

"When Ben Hogan wrote his book," Watson said Monday, "it was a small book. He basically said, 'This is how you do it. You have to start with the fundamentals.'"

Watson credits Hogan's Five Lessons, which was originally published more than 50 years ago in Sports Illustrated, for helping to shape his swing, which has held up for almost that long. The DVD set was produced by seven-time Emmy Award winner Terry Jastrow, who produced and directed ABC's golf coverage from '74-'95.

"I spent three days in Kansas City getting his thoughts on the golf swing," Jastrow said. "He had clear ideas about what he wanted to say."

My take: There's a ton of crappy golf gizmos, DVDs, and books for sale these days. This is one that you might actually want to buy.

British Open Security Not An Issue reports that British Open officials are not planning to increase security measures for Tiger Woods at St. Andrews this summer. This was not the case recently at The Masters, where tournament organizers supposedly supplied security personnel with photos of some of Tiger's gal pals. Though Tiger has not yet applied to compete in this year's 150th Anniversary Edition of the British Open, officials are prepared for his presence and evidently aren't overly concerned about the possibility of any dangerous or embarrassing incidents:

"We always act on police advice," Peter Dawson, chief executive officer of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, said, "Once the situation is reviewed, I would very much doubt there would be mug shots in people's hands."

"The Masters had the problem of not knowing what to expect, if the Open Championship would have been Tiger's first event back, we'd be scratching our heads. We're very pleased not to be the guinea pigs."

My take: Regardless of what Peter Dawson says, nobody's touching Tiger at St. Andrews unless he wants to be touched

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