Way back last week, when Padraig Harrington was torching Bethpage Black and blowing gingerly on the fading embers of his Ryder Cup chances, a lot of digital ink was spilled dissecting Harrington's sour relationship with European captain Jose Maria Olazabal.
Well, as expected, Olazabal didn't pick Paddy, announcing instead that Nicolas Colsaerts and Ian Poulter will head to Medinah in September.
"The dogs in the street knew I wasn’t getting a pick, so it wasn’t a hard phone call whatsoever," Harrington told Brian Keogh on Monday. “It was a polite phone call from José. I knew the result. Obviously it wasn’t news to me. I was quite comfortable with his two picks. I think they’ll do very well."
Olazabal, speaking at Gleneagles in Scotland after the announcement, said that his phone call to Harrington was the toughest one he had to make, according to The Scotsman. But Olazabal sounded pretty stern in his comments:
“I felt I had to make the phone call to Padraig more than anyone else,” said Olazabal, who also got in touch with David Lynn, Rafael Cabrero-Bello, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Alvaro Quiros after they’d fallen just short as well.
“Padraig is a very good player, but you could also say that about the likes of Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson, other former Ryder Cup players. The fact is that he [Harrington] didn’t perform well enough. He’s a great champion, but Thomas [Bjorn] was also ahead of him on the list.”
The PGA Championship puts Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III in an odd spot. In his head, he's eyeing the play of Ryder Cup hopefuls; on the course, he's beating most of them.
Love shot an even-par 72 in his opening round Thursday. And then, according to Randall Mell of GolfChannel.com, Love went straight from the course to Kiawah Island's Sanctuary hotel, where he had dinner with the top 20 players in the American Ryder Cup standings.
If that was weird for Love, it was probably worse for Kyle Stanley: Good luck making your case to the coach after he just beat you by eight!
Of course, if Thursday was tough on Kyle, it was equally unsettling for Phil Mickelson. Lefty, who has slipped to eighth in the standings -- the last automatic spot -- played with Love and lost by a shot. The pairing led to some unusual first-tee conversation. As Love said:
“We talked about playing together yesterday, so we would get that out of the way,” Love said. “I told Phil not to grind. Phil and I have been playing a long time. There’s not much awkward left for us.
“He is trying to make the team, because he doesn’t want to have to be picked. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to make the cut, or to win, that’s thinking about results. I told him just to go play this tournament and not worry about things.”
The pair also played with Irishman Padraig Harrington. No word if they were rattling any coins in his backswing. Never too early to start: The Ryder Cup is less than 50 days away.
The World Golf Hall of Fame is digging deep to fill out this year’s ballot. According to PGATour.com, the St. Augustine shrine has added a trio of very active golfers to this years ballot:
New to the PGA TOUR ballot are David Duval and Steve Stricker while Padraig Harrington has been added to the International ballot.
The ballots have been delivered to their respective voting bodies, comprised of Hall of Fame members, golf journalists, historians and dignitaries from around the globe. The voting window closes on July 27 and an announcement for the Class of 2013 will be made later this year.
Mickelson Close to Padres Purchase Phil Mickelson's bid to be a partial owner of his hometown San Diego Padres is getting very serious, according to Scott Miller of CBSSports.com. As Miller reports, Mickelson's consortium, which includes area businessman Ron Fowler, and the O'Malley family (who famously moved the Dodgers out west in the 50s) have entered into an "exclusive negotiating window" with Padres owner John Moores:
The final sale price is expected to be in the neighborhood of $800 million, though that includes $200 million of up-front television money from a new local contract the Padres signed with start-up channel Fox Sports San Diego that is worth $1.2 billion over 20 years. Moores figures to exit with that $200 million as part of the sale price.
Mickelson was born in San Diego and grew up in the city through high school. He still lives in the area, making his home in Rancho Santa Fe, in San Diego County.
Djoking Around Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 tennis player in the world, looked like he was aiming for total country club dominance Monday during his first round match on the grass courts of Wimbledon. Djokovic pulled out an iron from his tennis bag before taking the court to beat Juan Carlos Ferraro, according to the AP.
As something of an inside joke with a sponsor, Djokovic pulled a kid's golf club out of his racket bag and put it on the sideline when he arrived to face 2003 French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero at the grass-court Grand Slam's main stadium. Then, after a bit of a slow and nervous beginning that included an early break, Djokovic righted himself and beat Ferrero 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 to reach the second round at the All England Club.
"It was a little funny thing," said Djokovic, whose racket maker gave him a bag that has posts to make it stand like a golf bag. "Being creative, that's all. But fans corrected me right away. They said, 'This is not a golf course.' I said, 'OK.'"
Well, it’s not primarily a golf course. But I’ve often dreamed of popping a wedge off the grass at All England’s Centre Court. In the first round, at least. By the end of the fortnight, the courts look like greens only Mike Davis could love.
Here’s a quick video of Djok’s joke, via YouTube.
According to Emily Kay at SB Nation, the faithful were not amused. Perhaps golf’s No. 1 Luke Donald will even the score with one of those stringed-flyswatters at Royal Lytham next month. At this point, he’d try just about anything to win a major.
Irish Sells Out How excited is Northern Ireland to get this week’s Irish Open? Pumped to capacity, according to the UKPA:
This week's Irish Open at Royal Portrush will be the first sell-out the European Tour has ever had for a regular event.
It is the first time the tournament has been held in Northern Ireland since 1953 and local heroes Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell are all taking part along with USPGA champion Keegan Bradley and three-major winner Padraig Harrington.
"We are preparing for a crowd around the 100,000 mark for the week," championship director Antonia Beggs said.
Bravo. And the way Northern Irish golfers have played the past couple years, there are plenty of reasons for excitement. And if one of their own takes home the trophy? Well, I don’t know what might happen, but I suspect I’d like to be there to find out.
Tweet of the Day: Oh, the Emerald Isle...
You know the weather getsbad here wenit's 50 blowing 20 sprinkling and the people keep saying"hope the weather holds out like this all week"
Woods, 36, is listed as the 10-1 favorite for the season’s third major, according to the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino’s sports book. While Woods hasn’t won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open, he remains popular with bettors. Woods last week had “by far the most money on him,” according to Jeff Sherman, LVH’s assistant sports book manager.
“Betting support for Tiger helped contribute to his favoritism for the British Open,” Sherman said in an e-mail.
Not far behind are Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, both coming in at 12-1, and No. 1-ranked Luke Donald, at 20-1. More notable odds for Royal Lytham: Phil Mickelson Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Rickie Fowler, Jason Dufner, Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington are all coming in at 30-1. Some of those seem wiser than others.
Simpson to skip British? Webb Simpson, who came in at 40-1, might skip the British Open to be with his wife, Dowd, who is expecting the couple’s second child next month, according to The Daily Telegraph.
The 26-year-old American, whose closing 68 in San Francisco made it an incredible nine first-time winners in a row in the majors, has a decision to make on Royal Lytham.
Golf's next major starts four weeks on Thursday and Simpson's wife, Dowd, is expecting their second child in six weeks.
"Officially I don't know yet," he said after beating compatriot Michael Thompson and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell by a shot at the Olympic Club.
"The next eight weeks are going to be up in the air. We're going to see what we can do."
His wife gave a more revealing answer, however.
"I don't think he is going to play the British Open just in case I go into labour," she told reporters. "It would make Webb too nervous to hop over the pond and then have to try to get back."
So make of that what you will. (And send him a postcard from Lancanshire.)
Rivalry Game Medinah County Club hosted two dedicated rivals Monday in a pressure-packed match play duel. And unlike the Ryder Cup, which the club will host in September, both sides had the same definition of football.
The Chicago Bears routed their NFC North rival Green Bay Packers on Medinah No. 3, winning the inaugural Rivalry Cup, 10-2, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette. The participants seemed more interested in the course than the contest:
“It was an unbelievable experience to be able to play Medinah’s No. 3 Course today, especially in advance of the 2012 Ryder Cup,” said [Bears kicker Robbie] Gould, who maintains a 2 handicap. “The Ryder Cup is really the Super Bowl of golf, and I can tell you that both teams were pretty intense today. It was a real competition out there, but we had a lot of fun at the same time. I know that both the Bears and Packers will be pulling for Team USA in September.”
The Bears played well in all phases of the game, but were anchored by a strong performance from their special teams, which only confirms that punters and kickers don’t do much in practice.
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
The 2016 Rio Olympics are still more than four years away, but Rory McIlroy has already discussed his dilemma of choosing which nation to represent at the Games -- Ireland or Great Britain. McIlroy's countryman Padraig Harrington is the latest to weigh in, and the three-time major-winner says the most pro-Irish thing McIlroy can do is to play for Great Britain. Here's Harrington's rationale, according to the Irish Times.
"I'm fascinated with all this conversation about who we declare for," the Dubliner told Setanta Sports in a new program called The Cut Line, to be aired at 10 p.m. on Saturday evening.
"If Rory and Graeme declare for Great Britain, it means we get two more Irish guys into it - as in myself and Darren Clarke get to play. You see the system works if you're in the top fifteen, you can have more than two from the country.
"So, if somebody wants Rory to be as Irish as he can be, he better declare for GB and we get two more guys in. When it comes down to it, it will be a complete no brainer because nobody is losing out, you're actually just gaining a couple of more spots for Irish guys."
An Olympic gold, he says, could be a "career-defining" moment, that "will have relevance in time".
Is Harrington's opinion patriotic or self-serving? And is there any guarantee that in four years he and Clarke would be the two best Irishmen after McIlroy and McDowell? Let us hear it in the comments section below.
It's Never Too Early... ...to start talking Masters. This week Golfodds.com released its odds on the Masters. Looks like some insiders believe that Tiger is back. Here are the favorites, according to the site.
Odds to Win 2012 Masters:
Tiger Woods 9/2 Rory McIlroy 8/1 Phil Mickelson 15/1 Lee Westwood 20/1 Luke Donald 20/1 Adam Scott 25/1 Jason Day 30/1 Dustin Johnson 30/1 Nick Watney 40/1 Rickie Fowler 40/1 Martin Kaymer 40/1 Charl Schwartzel 40/1 Sergio Garcia 30/1 Matt Kuchar 40/1 Hunter Mahan 40/1 Steve Stricker 40/1 Anthony Kim 40/1 Webb Simpson 40/1 Bubba Watson 50/1 Justin Rose 60/1 Geoff Ogilvy 60/1 K.J. Choi 50/1 Graeme McDowell 60/1 Padraig Harrington 80/1 Retief Goosen 80/1 Paul Casey 50/1 Ian Poulter 60/1 Jim Furyk 60/1 Zach Johnson 80/1 Keegan Bradley 60/1 Angel Cabrera 100/1 Y.E. Yang 80/1 Gary Woodland 80/1 Ryo Ishikawa 100/1 Ryan Moore 100/1 Ernie Els 80/1 Brandt Snedeker 60/1 Bill Haas 80/1 Bo Van Pelt 80/1 Field (All Others) 15/1
Where would you place your money? Our favorite picks off this board are McIlroy, Watney and Choi.
Hallway Golf Video of the Day NBC released a new video of Samuel L. Jackson's appearance on Jimmy Fallon, where the two celebs clash in a round of "Hallway Golf." (Fallon is actually a big golf fan, in case you missed it on Golf.com.)
Tiger Woods has a few favorite groups -- he emerged from his 2010 scandals to see a Nickelback show and Van Halen once headlined his Tiger Jam fund-raising concert, but when he needed a wedding band, he called his pals Hootie and the Blowfish.
Padraig Harrington: Eminem
Harrington is a big fan of the Detroit rapper, whom he called a "genius." No question, the three-time major win relates to this lyric: “You only get one shot so don’t miss your chance to blow, opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo.”
Haas named the 1990s gem “Walking in Memphis” by Mark Cohn as his favorite song in an interview with Golf Magazine. Of course, when Haas sings along he adds his own lyric: “Walking in Memphis, with $10 million in my hand, walking in Memphis, but do I really feel the way I feel?”
It really is up to them," Harrington said. "Caddies have changed hands for many reasons. Some very fickle, some very serious. "It's always much more to do with the player and the caddie and things going on. Unless you're involved you don't know what's happening."
But Harrington said he hoped Williams, who has apologised to Woods over the incident, was able to smooth over relations which have been rocky since their split this year.
"Hopefully for such a long relationship that they had together it would be nice if they could find some common ground," said Harrington. "You can't give up 13 years of your life. It was a great 13 years for both of them."
Nick Faldo pitches multiple designers for Rio Olympic golf course
The biggest names in golf are competing for the chance to design the new Olympic course for golf’s inclusion in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero. However, Nick Faldo, a noteworty course designer in his own right, has proposed the course be a collaboration between all those top designers, according to The Orlando Sentinel.
How about 18 holes, 18 designers –- all major champions?
“I think it would be the one-off of all one-offs,” said Nick Faldo, winner of six major titles and the man who hatched the idea.
Certainly it would make a splash. Golf, which disappeared from the Olympic program after the 1904 Games in St. Louis, has the chance to commemmorate its return with a venue celebrating the game’s modern era.
“We’ve got a lot of global major winners, those who have retired and have their own design business,” Faldo said. “Make it like a mini-Hall of Fame. The important thing is to leave a legacy.”
Tiger chills out with Liz Hurley in Australia
Tiger Woods isn’t on vacation this week in Australia, but he’s been keeping a pretty busy social and business schedule as he prepares for this week’s Australian Open in Syney, according to The Australian newspaper.
He has spent recent days criss-crossing the country, playing golf with James Packer, helping out high rollers and catching up with old friend Shane Warne and his new partner, Liz Hurley.
But yesterday it was back to business for Tiger Woods. The world No 58 -- yes, the game's greatest player has fallen that far in the past two years -- stepped up his preparations for this week's Australian Open by playing a casual four holes at The Lakes in Sydney.
It's been a decidedly low-key lead-up for the 14-time major winner. Woods played two invitational events in Perth and Melbourne, where he was a guest of the Burswood and Crown casinos. In Melbourne, he attended the opening of Warne's new bar and renewed acquaintances with the former Australian leg spinner.
There was a lot of bellyaching last week surrounding the PGA Championship. The lack of big names, a controversial setup and a whole lot of commercials got golf fans riled up at the season's final major.
Besides, in this ever-changing world, the PGA of America -- like its counterparts elsewhere, in so many ways a dying organization -- has no business running such an important event. Sweater salesmen should stick to what they do best and leave big-time golf to those who have at least a clue about the running of an elite professional tournament. Think about it. Never before in the history of the game has the gap between "golf professional" and "professional golfer" been so vast. And it's only going to get bigger.
Here's just one example of how the PGA of America is out of its depth. The television coverage here at the Atlanta Athletic Club has fallen far short of what we should be able to expect from such a supposedly important championship. In almost complete contrast to the four minutes of commercials per hour limit imposed by those charged with running the Masters at Augusta National, the telecast was a dog's breakfast at which most discerning canines would turn up their snouts.
Facts are facts -- it has, flat out, been the most consistently entertaining of the four majors over that span, rolling out ridiculously complicated plotlines and a series of Sundays embroidered with stress and strife.
Sometimes, and we're guilty at times, too, it's a pity that folks are rarely at a loss for words on Twitter or in sports chat rooms. Punt the PGA?
Starting in 1999, it has hands-down been the grandest of the Slams.
So what say you? Should the PGA be demoted, or is it just fine the way it is? Let us know in the comments section below.
Appleby goes long Add Stuart Appleby to the list of players to test a long putter, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. Appleby is trying out a belly putter this week at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C., as he hopes to join Keegan Bradley, Adam Scott and Webb Simpson as players who've all had recent success with a longer wand.
Padraig Harrington's laser-eye surgery commericial banned as 'misleading' The UK's Advertising Standards Authority has banned a laser-eye surgery television commercial featuring Padraig Harrington, according to The Guardian newspaper (UK), on the grounds that it was misleading consumers.
Optical Express ran a TV campaign and accompanying brochure promoting the benefits of its laser eye surgery featuring the Irish golfer.
In the ad he says: "People often ask me: how can I improve my game? I tell them the secret is to stay focused. And of course it's important to have great vision. I need to be able to look down the line, focusing clearly on the target. My advice? Visit Optical Express … It could help your game too."
The brochure featured a further endorsement and testimonial by Harrington.
The Advertising Standards Authority had previously upheld 23 of 25 complaints made against the campaign by rival laser eye surgery firm Ultralase and banned the ad on the grounds that it was misleading.
Two of the complaints challenged that the ad campaign indicated Harrington had undergone laser eye surgery, when Ultralase claimed he had not undergone surgery with Optical Express.
Golf Carts in Manhattan? It's one thing to live in a gated community and take a golf cart to your local club, but could golf carts actually survive a commute in Manhattan? Time.com's Josh Sanburn recently took a street-legal golf cart for a test drive among New York's buses and out-of-control taxi cabs.
Tiger Woods’ former coach Hank Haney didn’t hold his tongue in an interview with The Scotman’s John Huggan. Haney doesn’t think an American will win the British Open, he’s got some questions about Tiger’s return, and he’s not that impressed by Rory McIlroy’s win at last month’s U.S. Open.
"Tiger isn't the best player right now," says Haney, ever the pragmatist. "Not right this minute. He isn't even a player at the moment. And whether he will be again is up for debate. There are questions to be answered. Can his body stand up to the practice he is going to have to do? That's doubtful at best. In the last three years and a bit, he has missed maybe 15 months of playing time.
"Somehow, he is going to have to get into a condition that allows him to play and practise a lot in order to get his game back. And I mean a lot, not a couple of weeks or three or four events; he's got to play a lot of golf. Can his body do that? We'll see.
He is a great young talent, but everything went his way at Congressional. It looked a lot like any other PGA Tour event so I'm not sure what was so special about it. The rough wasn't that deep and the greens were really soft. That's not a great combination, especially for the US Open. I don't rate Rory's performance -- good as it was -- with Tiger winning by 15 at Pebble Beach in 2000. There's no comparison, as Rory said himself."
Pippa Middleton, the breakout star of April’s royal wedding between her sister Kate Middleton and Prince William, has joined a golf club, according to The Telegraph UK.
Mandrake hears that Pippa, 27, who is courting the former England cricketer Alex Loudon, has joined the golf club at Bradfield College, a boarding school a few miles away from the Middleton family’s home in Berkshire.
“It’s the talk of the club,” gushes one member, somewhat breathlessly. A member of staff at Bradfield College Golf Club confirms that the Middletons have been spotted on the greens. However, Nick Barton, the club secretary, declines to celebrate his glamorous recruit.
We’re guessing Pippa will have a lot of volunteer coaches on the range.
Harrington says McIlroy has nothing to fear but fear itself
"Kids coming into the game are usually fearless; they have no scars, no mental damage," Harrington said. "They fire at pins where there's water, there's no anxiety. Usually those players are not -- I won't use the word 'bright', because it's not to do with intelligence - but usually they don't think anything through. They just go about their business.
"But when the can of worms opens, all of a sudden that playing with freedom, the naivety, the ease of their game, is gone. Suddenly there are complications. Look at careers that have gone completely off the wall. There was no fear, then all of a sudden there is fear.
"Rory is still young. He's had a few hard lessons that will help him get there. I think Rory's at a saturation point: you can throw more pressure on him but he's already at the point where more pressure doesn't show up. He has got unbelievable focus. But can he have, long-term, no fear?
There’s a reason Padraig Harrington’s considered one of the best interviews in golf.