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February 18, 2011

Truth & Rumors: John Cook has 'vintage' Tiger sighting

Posted at 12:40 PM by Alan Bastable | Categories: Dustin Johnson, Jim Gray, Tiger Woods, Truth & Rumors

Spend 10 minutes at a Champions Tour event and you can learn more about Tiger Woods than you would during 10 weeks on the PGA Tour. That was the case yesterday at the senior circuit’s ACE Group Classic in Naples, Fla., where Tiger whisperers John Cook and Mark O’Meara freely waxed about all things Woods. Greg Hardwig of the Naples News has the scoop, beginning with Cook's firsthand take on Tiger's swing changes:

 “As of Monday [at Isleworth], it clicked, it finally clicked to him on what exactly, where the face of the club needs to be at certain points, which really sounded to me like kind of old school Butch, but with a better face angle on his backswing, which means, wow, that's something really good. He was really feeling something special on Tuesday, and it was really—just to stop and watch and see the excitement he had on his face, and the flight of the golf ball as to what he was explaining to me what was going on in San Diego and Dubai. He said this is—it's way better and way different. And this only happened on Monday, and Tuesday, he was just feeling it even more."

When Hank Haney, Tiger's former swing coach, heard this, he tweeted: "…John Cook said it all clicked for Tiger on Monday with his swing. I remember when that happened with me, he should win next week."

O’Meara, who played with Tiger in Dubai last week, was less giddy, but still optimistic:

"Do I think he's all the way back yet? No, nobody makes changes like that in their swing. Certainly, the off-course stuff. that takes a big toll on a human being, even as tough as Tiger Woods is. We've all been through tough, difficult times in our personal lives. Now that he's got that squared away, I think he just needs to go out and play. I reckon he'll have a good year this year. Will he win a zillion tournaments? No, but [he's making] little building blocks.”

Cook added:

"He wants to play well so badly that he's become one of us. He never had to struggle like that. He's 35 or 36 now and things happen. He wants it so bad, now he needs to get it onto the golf course and trust it and relax and just go play, because what I saw on Tuesday was vintage. Vintage."

Question is, when will the rest of us see it?

Gray removed from Riviera
Golf Channel’s Jim Gray has done it again, making news instead of reporting it. (Seriously, Jim? Again?) During Thursday’s first round at Riviera, Gray hunted down Dustin Johnson—mid round—to find out how the golfer missed his tee time. Gray caught up with D.J. after the 13th hole, and ESPN’s Bob Harig has the details from there:

Gray asked Johnson what happened and why he was late, drawing the ire of the caddies in the group, including [Bobby] Brown [Johnson's caddie], because the query came during the playing of a round. Brown later got into an argument with Gray outside the scoring area.

It was at Whistling Straits that Gray became embroiled in a highly publicized dust-up with U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin (who is two shots off the lead here) on the eve of the PGA—the one we'll never know whether Johnson would have won had he not suffered that penalty on the final hole.

In response to the conflict, the network announced in a statement today that it has removed Gray from covering the Northern Trust Open:

"Our aim is to provide the best possible golf coverage for our viewers. Anything else is a disservice. In order not to provide further distraction, we've decided to remove Jim from this particular assignment," Golf Channel spokesman Dan Higgins said.

Previously, Gray was involved in a verbal confrontation with Corey Pavin, in which he and the U.S. Ryder Cup captain argued about Gray's reporting that Tiger Woods would be a wild card selection.

According to Higgins, Gray's future with Golf Channel is an internal matter and will be addressed at the appropriate time.

Gray was unavailable for comment. Maybe he's preparing for next week’s Golf Channel exclusive, “Gray on Gray: Jim Gray Interviews Himself.”

G-Mac returns to alma mater, talks beer
If Graeme McDowell wasn’t a big man on campus during his days at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, he is today. McDowell returned to his alma mater this week to reunite with his old coach and tee it up with some current UAB golfers, and it quickly became apparent to G-Mac that he’s no longer just some college golfer with a funny accent, reports Steve Irvine of The Birmingham News:

"I can't come to my old college … without causing a little bit of a stir anymore," he said. "It's great to be back here but I definitely can't slip under the radar the way I used to."

McDowell told the players one of the perks of winning on Tour is getting to "have a cold beer and celebrate with my family or caddie or someone."

Then again, he quickly added, the post-tournament routine is not that much different when he doesn't win the event.

"I think, 'If I really blow this thing then I'll also have a cold beer,' " McDowell said with a laugh.

Sound advice, though it’s a safe bet a bunch of college golfers had already figured that out on their own.

Tweet of the day, after a long night of Jagermeister and Red Bulls...

Images-2_bigger  @McIlroyRory: Jägerbombs 1 Rory 0

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