Obama has never before played with Woods, who gave a speech in support of the military during Obama inauguration celebrations in 2009.A passionate golfer, Obama is on a boys' weekend in Florida with friends, staying at a hotel in Port St. Lucie and playing golf at the Floridian, a private course owned by businessman and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane. In addition to playing with Woods, Obama also got a golf lesson from Woods's former swing coach Butch Harmon, and played some holes with Harmon.
According to the Associated Press, Obama played golf on Saturday with Eric Whitaker, a friend from Chicago, and White House trip director Marvin Nicholson, a regular in Obama's foursomes at the golf course at Andrews Joint Air Base in Maryland. Obama also played Saturday with Ron Kirk, the outgoing U.S. trade representative, and Houston businessman Tony Chase.
Obama has embraced golf since becoming president, playing more than 100 rounds since taking office in 2009. He took a break from the game during his re-election campaign, but this Florida vacation might indicate that the president intends to play more in 2013.
Tiger Wood's other ex-swing coach is finally speaking out in regards to Hank Haney's polarizing book, The Big Miss, reports Jeff Neuman of The Wall Street Journal, and Butch Harmon says he was shocked by Haney's decision to include information on Tiger's family.
"I'm very surprised that he would write it," Harmon said this week. "I'd never do that to Tiger or Greg [Norman] or any of the guys I've been with. We get to spend a lot of time with these people, sometimes even more time than their own families. Things are said, or you see different things, and it's just—it is what it is, you just leave it where it belongs. I was really shocked to see him talk about Elin and Tiger's kids and stuff like that, I don't think that had any place in it."
"It almost seems the way he has everything documented in there—too many times and dates and places that you wouldn't come up with from memory—it's like he kept precise notes all along with writing a book in mind."
While Harmon makes it clear that he wouldn't write a book about his former students in Haney-esque fashion, he's still game to analyze Tiger's swing woes.
"For me, and I think we saw this at the Masters, he looks like he's playing 'golf-swing' and not golf. In my opinion, he's very robotic. And you could see that at Augusta with all his practice swings and the double-cross shots when he's trying to fade it and he hooks it. I think everyone thought because he won at Bay Hill that he was back; well, he didn't hit it great at Bay Hill, he hit it OK. And Bay Hill's not a major."
"When I had him, I'm more of a natural-type teacher, I like to keep what you do naturally and just try to improve on it. I like to let you be creative, which he was good at."
"And for me, I think he's lost his nerve putting. I think his nerves are bad, and he's lost his confidence."
So what would Harmon do if he was back coaching the biggest name in golf? In a sense, nothing.
"If he ever asked me what I thought he needed to do, I'd tell him, look, go on the practice tee without anybody—without me, without Sean [Foley, his current coach], without Haney, without a camera, and start hitting golf shots. Hit some high draws, some low draws, high fades, low fades, move the ball up and down, move it around; don't worry about how you do it and go back to feeling it again. Quit playing golf-swing and just hit shots; just say to himself, I'm gonna hit a low fade, and I don't need anybody to tell me how to do it, I'm just gonna feel it. He's Tiger Woods, for God's sake. He doesn't know how to hit a shot?"
Little green jacket
You know what they say: like father, like son. So after Bubba Watson won the Masters this year, it was only a matter of time until son Caleb got in on the action. That's why Bubba had a second green jacket made, just for Caleb.
Caleb even has the same Travis Matthew polo to go along with it. No word yet if he's hitting a pink driver, though.
Na remembers infamous 16
Remember that one time Kevin Na made a 16 on a single hole? Yeah, so does Kevin Na. Luckily, Na has a sense of humor about things. With a camera crew in tow (he is hosting a future episode of "Inside the PGA Tour"), Na returned to the scene of the crime Monday before this year's Valero Texas Open -- with a chainsaw.
That's not all, though. Na replayed the No. 9 hole at TPC San Antonio to see if he could best his 16 from a year ago -- using only a 6-iron. You'll have to wait until Tuesday night on "Inside the PGA Tour" on the Golf Channel to see how he fared (6:30 p.m. Eastern if you're setting your DVR).
To top it all off, though, Na left the same shirt he wore on that fateful day in memoriam during the first round of the tournament.
China gets third European Tour event, and Rory will be there
The European Tour announced that they will be hosting a third tournament in China, according to Reuters, and the payoff will be BIG. The BMW Masters, hosted by the Jack Nicklaus-designed Lake Malaren Golf Club in Shanghai, is set to be played at the end of October and will offer a purse of $7 million. One player already marking his calendar? The world No. 1.
"I am already looking forward to teeing off at the tournament," said world number one Rory McIlroy, who won last year's Lake Malaren Shanghai Masters which is now being replaced by the new event.
"The tournament will be one of the very best events in the world. That obviously makes it all the more exciting to defend my title there," added the Northern Irishman in a statement.
Tweet of the Day
@WestwoodLee Good playing pal. They'll be giving you Indonesian citizenship at this rate. Got coach C at Nona with me. #darthvader
To the embarrassment of dozens of men, women and children gathered around the tee-box at the Tanah Merah Country Club, Wie slammed her hybrid club into the ground after watching the shot veer way right. She then screamed out a four-letter expletive.
As she strode off the tee ahead of her playing partners Christina Kim and Singaporean Koh Sock Hwee, barely under her breath Wie muttered ‘f ___ing idiot’.
Following her round, Wie was contrite. She said: “I absolutely apologise for that. It’s unacceptable behaviour. Sometimes it’s just really frustrating and I was at the point where everything kind of boiled up. But you know, obviously I apologise. It was unacceptable.”
Wie finished the tournament 59th in a 60-woman field, shooing 22-over.
Butch Harmon says Tiger Woods doesn't have the yips
ESPN's Rick Reilly talks to putting Daves, Pelz and Stockton, for a State of the Tiger column, but the most telling comment comes from Tiger Woods's former coach Butch Harmon.
I hate to even broach this, but is it possible we're seeing the start of the yips?
"I wouldn't say the yips, no," says Harmon. "But I definitely see nerves. It started at Augusta last year, on the back nine. He had a chance to win and he suddenly started missing short putts. They weren't on line, they didn't touch the hole. It's understandable with everything he's been through off the course. I'm not making excuses for him. He brought that on himself. But his confidence just seems gone on the greens."
It's happened to great players before: Bernhard Langer, Tom Watson, Ben Hogan. They were never the same afterward.
Meet the new boss: Trump to attend WCG-Cadillac Championship at Doral
Trump, an avid golf fan and golfer, will be hob-nobbing with some of the best golfers in the world because the Cadillac Championship begins its field by offering invitations to the top 50 golfers in the world — and seldom do any of them turn down a chance to play in this prestigious event.
One of the reasons for almost-universal acceptance to play at Doral: Money speaks, with the total purse being $8.5 million and the winner getting $1.4 million.
Padraig Harrington to give sponsorship money to cousin injured in accident
Good guy Padraig Harrington has come up with a creative way to raise money for the husband of his wife's cousin, Gerald Byrne, who was left paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident. The Irish Times has the story:
“This is why I never want to complain about golf,” Harrington said in Palm Beach Gardens yesterday, where is playing alongside Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods in this week’s Honda Classic on the US Tour. “Obviously Gerard will need a lot of assistance in his life – a wheelchair-enabled car, renovations to his home and other things – so my current sponsors have agreed to allow me to offer all the branding on my clothing and bag to the highest bidder for three tournaments in March and April.
“If somebody wants to have their branding on the front on my hat or if they want the golf bag or any other place, it’s up for auction for that three-week spell when I am playing the Shell Houston Open, the Masters Tournament and the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head."
If you're interested in contacting Harrington to advertise your new social media company, be prepared to pay.
"We already have a bid of €100,000 ($134,430) for the front of my cap and €50,000 for the space on my chest. I am auctioning all my spots for that period and all my sponsors have agreed to give them up. It’s all for charity.”
Tweet of the Day
@si_golfknew there would be different opinions on my writing The book but the memories of the 6 yrs I coached Tiger aren't his exclusively
Yet another Tiger Woods Sunday meltdown has pundits, fans, and players alike wondering if the former No. 1 will ever get his mojo back. His Sean Foley swing looks pretty solid these days, but his inability to get the job done on Sunday raises questions about the direction Tiger is moving. Lee Trevino, who has never been afraid to voice his opinion, thinks the answer to Woods's woes is pretty simple -- go back to Butch Harmon.
"I would call a Realtor in Henderson, Nevada, and I'd find out where Butch lived and I'd buy the house next door," said Trevino, appearing on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Galloway & Company on Monday afternoon. "I'd go over and ring the doorbell and say, 'Hi, neighbor,' and get back with Butch. That's exactly what I would do."
As everyone knows, Butch Harmon and Tiger worked together from his amateur days until 2002, during which time Eldrick bagged eight majors while completely dominating the game of golf. And as everyone also knows, Harmon currently coaches Phil Mickelson, who has beat up on Tiger in recent years, including last Sunday. Harmon has tightened Phil's swing in a -- no pun intended -- major way. According to Trevino, winner of six majors during his career, it's time for the two former friends to "bury the hatchet," and get back together.
"I'm sure there's bad blood there, at least that's what I've heard," Trevino said. "I haven't talked to Butch in years, so I don't know how he feels with Tiger and I don't know if Tiger is too proud to ask for the help and if he asked for help if Butch would give it to him. But I think they speak to each other when they see each other at tournaments. If they do that, I don't see why two grown people can't sit down. He's all messed up right now."
Donald, Westwood, McIlroy and Kaymer are top seeds in Match Play event
The qualifying period for the WGC-Accenture Match Play is now over and the field is pretty well set. No's 1-4 in the world, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer will grab the top seeds in each of the four brackets, while Ernie Els, who was on the outside looking in at 65th in the world, has just managed to slip into the tournament via Phil Mickelson's decision to skip the event. Other big names who were not so lucky include Ryan Moore at 67th, Robert Allenby at 68th, and Charles Howell III at 70th.
Rafael Cabrera-Bello, who just won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic by holding off Westwood, moved up to 60th in the world from 119th to earn his first bid in the prestigious event. Nicolas Colsaerts also played well this past weekend and managed to grab the final 64th spot, knocking Ernie Els temporarily out of the field. Other notables who qualified for the Tucson event include Kevin Na at 62nd, Matteo Manassero at 61st, Jim Furyk at 59th, and Tiger-slayer Robert Rock at 58th.
Butch Harmon criticized his former student Tiger Woods for hiring caddie Joe LaCava away from Dustin Johnson. Harmon, who is now Johnson's swing coach and had recommended that Johnson hire LaCava, said Woods should have asked Johnson's permission to speak with LaCava about the job, which has been vacant since Woods fired his longtime caddie Steve Williams in July. On Sunday, Harmon told Sky Sports he was "shocked" by the move.
"The thing that bothered me the most was T.W. not calling Dustin and asking if he could talk to Joe. That's the way it's done. I'm a little disappointed with the way Tiger handled it. But I'm not surprised."
But Tiger’s camp has a different version of the story, stating that LaCava reached out to them. LaCava corroborated this story on Woods's website.
“I contacted Tiger and Mark [Steinberg] because this is a unique opportunity to be part of something very special. Tiger and I have been friends for a very long time, and I know what he can do. I want to thank Dustin for the opportunity to work with him, and I wish him nothing but the best.”
This comes as no surprise to those close to LaCava, who was apparently telling friends at last month's US PGA Championship in Atlanta he had quickly become disillusioned with life on the fairways with Johnson. The caddie is a well-rounded individual, an old-school type who found it hard to come to terms with his young employer's free-wheeling style on and off the course. In short, they were a bad match.
Pace-of-play woes at Solheim Cup While this year’s Solheim Cup might go down as the most exciting edition of the biennial event, very few people wanted it to go on any longer. The prescribed pace of play was an extremely generous 5 hours and 20 minutes. On Day One alone, three out of four afternoon matches exceeded that timeframe. John Huggan of Golf Digest Woman has the details:
“It wasn't pretty but it was definitely ponderous. A huge factor in the slowness being the much-criticized need of so many players to have their caddies line them up for both full shots and putts. It is surely time for that time-consuming and often-pointless practice to be outlawed.”
Obama and Clinton tee it up President Obama and former President Bill Clinton played golf at Joint Base Andrews golf course in Maryland on Saturday. According to USA Today's David Jackson, Obama said that he and Clinton discussed various strategies for creating jobs as they played.
During a speech last night to the Congressional Black Caucus, Obama said he and Clinton talked about creating jobs, as well as Republican opposition to higher taxes on the wealthy to finance a new jobs plan.
"They say it kills jobs -- oh, that's going to kill jobs," Obama said. "We're not proposing anything other than returning to the tax rates for the wealthiest Americans that existed under Bill Clinton."
"I played golf with Bill Clinton today," Obama said. "I was asking him, how did that go? Well, it turns out we had a lot of jobs. The well-to-do, they did even better. So did the middle class. We lifted millions out of poverty.
The Kraft Nabisco champion’s jump into the water at Mission Hills’ Dinah Shore course is one of the great traditions in sports, but it took an unhappy turn Sunday when Stacy Lewis mother was injured during the leap, according to The Desert Sun newspaper.
Then came the victory leap into Poppie's Pond, where Lewis was joined by her parents, Dale and Carol, her younger sister Janet and her caddie, Travis Wilson.
One problem. Carol Lewis injured her leg sometime during the leap and watery celebration.
LPGA officials confirmed that Stacy's mother was taken to Eisenhower Medical Center for evaluation. Stacy Lewis showed concern for the injury in her post-round press conference.
“I'm not really sure. I haven't been able to check on her yet, but I guess she hurt her leg, so hopefully she's OK,” Stacy said.
Butch Harmon says Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood unlikely to win Masters
Harmon told The Irish Times: “Rory hits the ball from right to left, so that’s the good news,” suggesting that McIlroy’s draw shape off the tee will benefit him on several holes, “but I’m not sure his short game is of the quality of some of the other players.”
Harmon, coach of reigning champion Phil Mickelson and the man who helped four-time winner Tiger Woods shape his game to the particular challenges of the Augusta National course, said the same flaw is undermining McIlroy’s Ryder Cup team-mate Lee Westwood in his attempts to land his first major championship.
“Lee struggles around the greens – although he was leading going into the final round last year – because his short game lacks imagination.
“To win at Augusta you have to have enormous creativity and imagination.
So who does Harmon like this week? Dustin Johnson, Nick Watney and of course his prize pupil Mickelson.
Mickelson masters product placement on eve of Masters week
This week is a great example of why I believe in 2004 signing with Callaway was the best decision I ever made for my career. Because when I had a bit of an issue, the head of R & D flew out, and because I've been experimenting with a couple drivers, he wanted to make sure I had the right ones. Brought the backups. I drove it great all week. It's a great example of why I feel that was the best decision I've ever made for my career, and I went on to win this week. And so I'm just very appreciative to the commitment they've made to me and that I get to be with them.
Mickelson went on to say that his financial situation improved dramatically after opening a checking account at Barclays Bank, that he never felt more rested than after sleeping on the comfortable beds at the Crowne Royal Hotel, and that KMPG accountants are the reason he was finally able to pass Tiger Woods in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Piazza, Clemens don’t re-hash 2000 World Series at golf tournament
Clemens was paired with Ken Griffey Jr., and the two of them put up a good fight, but were no match for Wayne Gretzky and Drew Brees. Gretzky puffed on a series of cigars throughout the day. Clemens kept his sticks in an orange Texas Longhorns bag and changed shirts after nine holes.
And the Rocket never threw anything at Mike Piazza. The two old rivals occasionally mingled at the tees on the Shadow Creek golf resort, as play was bottlenecked by the modest pace of Julius Erving, one hole ahead of them, paired with John Smoltz.
"It's way behind us," Clemens said, when asked about the notorious bat-throwing incident from the 2000 Subway Series.
Tiger Woods will tee it up this week at Doral in search of his first professional victory since the 2009 Australian Masters. His game has been erratic (to put it mildly) since his April 2010 return from a sex scandal, and it's impossible to watch Woods today without wondering if he'll ever regain his old form. But would Woods ever return to Butch Harmon, who worked with Woods for eight years before Tiger fired him in 2002? Golf World's Jaime Diaz speculates ... and says we shouldn't hold our breath.
There are many reasons that probably will never happen, but the biggest is not Woods' pride. As good as his swing performed from 1999 to 2002, it wasn't perfect. Harmon's fix for Woods' most persistent flaw -- getting "stuck" by having his hips outrace his arms on the downswing -- was to slow his hips down. It worked: Woods' control off the tee was never better and he was plenty long.
But fast hips are an essential gift employed by the great ball-strikers, and Woods was not satisfied with having to suppress his athleticism. He wanted a swing that allowed him to move his body as fast as he wanted without a loss of control. Woods went to Hank Haney with the expectation that putting his club on a better plane would do just that. But as well as Woods played with Haney, he never truly conquered getting stuck.
Under Sean Foley, Tiger is attacking the problem with new information. Although his results haven't been consistent, he believes the quality of his good shots are better than ever. But what's becoming increasingly apparent is that Woods' problems are more mental than mechanical.
Bear Trap shows its teeth
The 15th, 16th and 17th holes at PGA National, otherwise known as the Bear Trap, derailed many pros last week at the Honda Classic. How bad was the carnage? The Orlando Sentinel's Jeff Shain tweeted this report:
* 60 balls in the water at No.15 * 25 at No.16 * 65 at No.17
As the full-time caddie for Zach Johnson, Damon Green's day job involves calming his pro's nerves in tense situations. But on Sunday at the Coors Light Open, Green was playing his own ball as a competitor and got a taste of final-round pressure.
Holding a one-shot lead in Sunday's final round of the 49th annual Coors Light Open at Fort Myers Country Club, Green snap-hooked his drive on the par-5 18th hole into the canal and settled for bogey, losing by a shot.
"Just hit it. That's what [Johnson would have] been telling me to do," said Green, 50, long known as one of the best players among PGA Tour caddies. "It's just a bad swing at the wrong time."
Green, who finished 17th in Champions Tour qualifying last fall to earn conditional status, won a pair of pro-am events this winter. But Sunday's final round was his first in about 15 years with a gallery - even if only a fraction of tour crowds.
"This is good to be out playing in front of people. I really hadn't done it since 1996," Green said. "I handled it pretty good. I would have liked to have finished her off. That was kind of frustrating."
Tweet of the Day
Ian Poulter went to a doctor for an allergy test. Naturally, he tweeted his diagnosis.
@IanJamesPoulter: So funny I'm allergic to every type of grass apart from 1 quality effort that. And All trees apart from 3. Chuffed to pieces
Tiger Woods, who recently lost the No. 1 ranking he held for more than five years after a winless 2010, said in an interview with the BBC that he’s gone through slumps before and he hopes to start winning soon once his new swing changes take hold.
"I'm rebuilding my game, making a number of different swing changes. I've done this before. I had lean years with [former coach] Butch Harmon. I won the Masters in '97, changed my swing - then went from the middle of '97 to the middle of '99 with only one win.
"It's a matter of staying the course, believing in what I'm doing and eventually when it kicks in hopefully I'll win some tournaments."
Woods also said that winning more major championships than Jack Nicklaus is still his goal. Woods has 14 major championships, while Nicklaus won a record 18.
"It's a career. It took Jack over 20 years and I haven't been playing that long," he reasoned. "No-one has done better than Jack with 18... at the end of the day, hopefully I'll have more than 18 major championships.
"I'm only 34 -- Ben Hogan didn't start winning his [majors] until after my age - all nine of them - so I'm looking forward to it."
Woods admitted it had been a "tough 12 months" following revelations about his private life but stated: "I'm in a much, much better place.
"I'm much happier, much more balanced. I've gone through a lot and thank God I did, because I needed to put my life back into an order and a balance.
"It was rough going, but boy I'm glad I'm at the spot I'm at now. It feels good."
Golf-ranking guy defends No. 1 system after Butch Harmon criticism
The Official World Golf Rankings have replaced Lisa Pavin’s Ryder Cup fashion choices as the most-criticized subject in the game since Lee Westwood replaced Tiger Woods as No. 1 despite hardly playing since August. Butch Harmon weighed in Monday, saying the “system sucked” and that PGA Championship winner Martin Kaymer should be No. 1. In an interview with Reuters European Tour statistics expert Ian Barker defended the ranking system, which uses the previous two years of results to rank players.
"What Butch is effectively saying is that the rankings should be done over a shorter period. "If we just prepared it on the points won so far this year Woods would not be in the top 50 and Martin Kaymer would be comfortably the world number one," Barker, the European Tour's director of information services, told Reuters.
How Lee Westwood got in No. 1 shape
We always thought Lee Westwood trained like one of those boxers who switches to light beer before a big fight, but James Corrigan of The Independent (UK) talks to the fitness guru behind Westwood’s remarkable run to the top spot.
The Englishman's fitness coach is also seeing his stock rise still further as the reports continue to emerge of the expert with the power to rebuild the multi-million dollar man.
Except labeling Steve McGregor a mere "fitness coach" is a bit like calling Ross Brawn "a mechanic". As Westwood himself points out, what McGregor preaches has "a lot more to do with science than sweat". Since his moment of self-realization on a range four years ago – "I looked at Tiger, Ernie, Phil and Retief and said 'I am way too heavy'," – Westwood has been transformed, shedding almost three stones and seven inches off his waist. The scientist judges it in different terms.
"In the four years we've been working together he's probably lost more than 50 per cent in body fat, which is a big mass," McGregor told The Independent yesterday.
Stray Shots: Stuff we saw while thinking that Shanghai probably has lots of great spots for a young professional golfer and his posse to have fun...
If you’re keeping score at home, Jiyai Shin has taken over the No. 1 ranking from Cristie Kerr after finishing fourth at LPGA Hana Bank Championship in South Korea. Kerr had held the spot for one week after taking it from Ai Miyazato in a preview of what’s coming on the men’s tour. (Via UPI)
Will Wears, Arnold Palmer’s grandson, is competing in the Pennsylvania state golf high school playoffs. Wears is a sophomore at Greater Latrobe High School. (Via The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).
The PGA Tour has taken over operations of San Francisco’s storied Harding Park municipal golf course, and city and Tour officials are expected to announce the course’s new name on Wednesday: THC Harding Park TPC Harding Park. (Via The San Francisco Chronicle)
SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Moments after the golfers left the practice green this morning, Sean Foley, the man many people assume will become Tiger Woods's next swing coach, walked behind Butch Harmon, Woods's coach for eight years.
"Hey Hollywood!" Harmon called out to Foley, who turned around and smiled under the low brim of his visor.
Foley walked over to Harman and said, "Man, I've got a good one for ya." The two men then lowered their voices and had a five-minute discussion.
They never raised their voices above a whisper, but at one point Harmon put his arm around Foley's shoulder. Harmon is not only in the very unique position to advise Foley on what coaching Tiger Woods is like, but also about effectively coaching several top players at once. His stable includes Phil Mickelson, Nick Watney, Stewart Cink and Dustin Johnson. Foley is currently coaching Sean O'Hair, Hunter Mahan, Justin Rose and Stephen Ames.
As Foley walked toward the clubhouse, Harmon called out to him, "Hey, how about a match with my four versus your four ... and we get to do the announcing. HA!"