Category: Retief Goosen


March 15, 2013

Sergio Garcia must pay more U.S. taxes on endorsements

Posted at 5:13 PM by Coleman McDowell

Sergio

 

 

 

Sergio Garcia will have to pay more U.S. taxes after a judge rejected his argument that 85 percent of his TaylorMade endorsement is royalties for the use of his image, and thus exempt from U.S. taxes, according to Bloomberg.com.

Garcia argued unsuccessfully that 85 percent of his income from an endorsement agreement with TaylorMade Golf Co. stemmed from image-derived royalty payments shielded from U.S. taxation because they flowed through a Swiss business entity and because he’s a resident of Switzerland.

Judge Joseph Goeke in Washington ruled that “the compensation paid by TaylorMade under the endorsement agreement is allocated 65 percent to royalties and 35 percent to personal services.”

Goeke said that the royalty portion of the income was exempt from U.S. taxes under the Swiss Tax Treaty and that all payments for personal services earned in the U.S. are taxable. Garcia’s case centers on a disputed $1.7 million in his taxes in 2003 and 2004.

Even though Garcia will pay more in taxes, the case is a win for professional golfers and a loss for the IRS. According to Bloomberg, the IRS had claimed that all endorsement earnings should be taxed as personal-service income. Garcia's 65 percent royalty/35 percent personal services tax breakdown is a better deal than fellow TaylorMade endorser Retief Goosen received in a similar case decided in 2011. A different judge ruled that Goosen's deal was 50 percent royalty and 50 percent personal services, according to Bloomberg.

Both the Garcia and Goosen cases involved the division of payments between those for made for a golfer’s image and those based on “personal services,” which include factors like how well he plays.

The difference is important because royalty earnings typically are taxed less heavily under tax treaties than personal services income.

Taken together, the two cases send the message that “the bigger name is going to get more favorable tax treatment,” said Tony Nitti, a partner at the accounting firm of WithumSmith & Brown in Aspen, Colorado.

In his ruling, Judge Goeke sounds like a golf fan when he describes Garcia.

“Petitioner is notable for his charismatic and fiery personality which differentiates him from most others who play the ‘gentleman’s game’ for a living,” Goeke wrote in his opinion.

Photo: Sergio Garcia during the first round of the WGC-Cadillac (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

February 10, 2013

They Said It! Left and Right spar over Phil's taxes in Top Quotes of Week

Posted at 10:42 AM by Mike Walker

Keithellison_quote1. “I think it’s fair to ask Phil Mickelson to put in a little bit more money to make sure that we can continue to invest in infrastructure in this country.”

--Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) on tax hikes on the wealthy

 

 

Rush_quote2. “He's almost stuck in California, 'cause now if he does move, they're gonna tar and feather him as an ingrate who's somebody shirking their responsibilities, somebody who's failing to meet their patriotic duty.”

--Rush Limbaugh on why Phil Mickelson retreated from his criticism of tax hikes on the wealthy

Hunter_quote

 

3. “If you start popping shots for guys, they are going to start moving.”

--Hunter Mahan on why the PGA Tour should give stroke penalties to slow players instead of fines

 

 

Westwood_quote4. “We both started playing together. I turned pro at 19 and came on tour and he was still at 12 handicap, so I can't understand the reasons for that.”

--Lee Westwood on playing with his father John in the Pebble pro-am

 

Goosen_quote5. “The long putter does make it easier on the shorter putts to keep the putter better in line a bit easier.”

--Former anchored putter Retief Goosen on why anchoring is an advantage

 

 

Sandylyle_quote

6. "It might just be that he goes through a bit of a hiccup for a few months before he gets back into full flow but the Duval story is not something you should just wipe away and not pay attention to."

--Sandy Lyle on Rory McIlory’s adjustment to new clubs

 

 

Condi_quote7. “I know how to do diplomacy, I'm not so sure about the golf course."'

--Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on playing with pro-am partner Jason Bohn

 

 

Hahn_quote8. “You look over to the right, see the ocean and you think about how cool it would be to be a surfer. And I think the waves are perfect for surfing, and I just want to jump in there...once you just start thinking about that, everything is bound to fall in.”

--James Hahn on keeping his cool atop the leaderboard at Pebble Beach

 

Rocco_quote

 

9. “Most of these guys kicked my butt on the regular tour, and I'm ready to change that.”

--Rocco Mediate on playing in his first Champions Tour event at the Allianz Championship

 

 

Romo_quote

10. He’s got a real bright future. It’s a marathon not a sprint, and he’s going to be one of the good ones.”

--Tony Romo on Pebble Beach pro-am partner Jordan Spieth

 

[Photos: Getty Images]

August 27, 2012

Truth & Rumors: Retief Goosen ends season following back surgery

Posted at 4:46 PM by Mark Dee

Retief Goosen's 2012 season is over, as the two-time U.S. Open Champ is shutting it down following back surgery, according to South Africa's Sport24 News.

Goosen first announced the surgery on Aug. 23 via a statement on his website. According to the man himself, the surgery went well.

Prognosis for a return to golf looks pretty good, too: "I am looking forward to returning to the Tour fully fit," Goosen said in the announcement, "And, in the meantime, I plan to put my feet up, enjoy watching the golf on TV and relish the opportunity to spend more time with Tracy and my children." Not bad.

Goosen last played in the PGA Championship, where he finished tied for 48th. In all, though, 2012 was a solid comeback year for The Goose, whose disappointing 2011 dropped him outside the World's Top 50, and off the Masters tee sheet for the first time since 1999. The South African is currently 23rd on the European Tour's Order of Merit.

So far, well wishes have poured in on Goosen from Twitter, including one from fellow countryman Gary Player, which he tweeted a full two hours before the Sport24 report. The Black Knight is always on point.

April 26, 2011

Truth & Rumors: Tiger not the only great player with putting woes

Posted at 12:15 PM by Mike Walker

The Belfast Herald's Karl McGinty notices that Tiger Woods is not the only PGA Tour mainstay to fall into a rut due to his putting stroke. His entire peer group (briefly known as the Big 5) is having the same problem.

None more so than Ernie Els, 41, who was so deep in the horrors last week at Hilton Head, he tried out an option in practice which a few years back he’d loudly derided as unacceptable — the belly putter.

Singh, 48, continues to wrestle with his putting demons and the weird grip he currently employs might have been recommended by an exorcist.

While Retief Goosen, 43, seems to have halted the decline of his putting powers, the South African is a shadow of the man acknowledged as the world’s hottest performer on fast surfaces following US Open victories at Southern Hills and Shinnecock.

In common with Woods, Els, Singh and Goosen, Phil Mickelson’s feeling pain where it hurts most. Mickelson misses too many short range putts. He ranks a lowly 155th on the US PGA Tour when it comes to holing-out from inside five feet. Els is 183rd in that category, Singh is 141st and Goosen 98th.

Tiger’s putting has gone to pot at the tender age of 35. His Tour statistics are as startling as that three-putt bogey at 12 as he stalled badly on the back nine on the Sunday at The Masters. Woods currently takes an average 1.794 putts per hole, leaving him a lowly 121st on Tour, while his 29.38 per round leave him in 124th.

Ben Crane helps Katrina charity in New Orleans
Ben Crane does more with his free time than make ridiculous YouTube dance videos. Doug Tatum of The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports on how Crane has partnered with his sponsor Zurich to raise money for families still trying to return to their old homes since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Crane, Zurich and the St. Bernard Project came up with the Driving It Home campaign in which Zurich donates $100 for every fairway Crane hits from the Farmers Insurance Open in late January through this week’s Zurich Classic. Farmers is a subsidiary of Zurich, and Crane won their event in 2010. He carries the St. Bernard Project logo on his golf bag.

“I just saw the whole vision, saw how well it’s working, how efficient it is, how lean it is and then you talk to people who get back in their houses and … they just had a need and here comes the St. Bernard Project that says we care about you, we value you and we want to help,” said Crane, 35. “That’s a pretty pure act of love. And it’s inspiring. So it’s something we wanted to be a part of, and we get really excited about.”

Tweet of the Day:

From 2006 U.S. Open champ and Metallica fan Geoff Ogivly:

Geoffogilvy_tweet

January 24, 2011

Truth & Rumors: EA Sports says no nudity in Tiger Woods video game

Posted at 2:13 PM by Mike Walker

EA Sports’ Tiger Woods PGA Tour '11 video game made headlines when the gaming giant revealed the latest version would include Augusta National Golf Club for the first time. Now, however, EA Sports is involved in controversy after a British gamer claimed her avatar in the game went topless. Wired News has the details:

... it appears that videogame giant Electronic Arts may have a similar sort of wrinkle on its hands involving Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11. Jo Eley, who hails from Britain, claims she “spent ages” creating her Tiger Woods custom avatar only to have it suddenly tee off wearing only white pants. (Yup, “she” was topless.)

The Sun has the exclusive story on this, as well as video of the purported avatar in action (large NSFW photos, as you might expect).

EA, for its part, apparently issued a statement to the paper, saying in part: We have extensively investigated and have determined that this situation is not possible through a retail copy of the game. The player model is clearly modified as a result of hacking.

 

Harrington calls Kaymer ‘most formidable player in world’ when leading

Here’s Padraig Harrington on Martin Kaymer, who won the Abu Dhabi Championship by eight shots with a 24-under 264, according to The Glasgow Evening Times:

“He’s probably the most formidable player in the world when he is leading. He seems to intimidate the rest of the field into believing if he gets in front, he’ll win.”

Retief Goosen was impressed too:

"I've never saw anything above 20-under around here. The course, we were lucky, we didn't have any wind really all week, a bit of rain but no real wind. So if the wind blew like it normally blows over here, I'm probably thinking 15 and under would be the winning score. But yeah, he's killing us."

This is starting to sound familiar.

Unclear if the Man from Hope will save Classic

The Bob Hope Classic was buzzing about news that the PGA Tour was in talks with former President Bill Clinton about a partnership with two Clinton-led charities that would involve the Bob Hope Classic. That Clinton would be a boost to the Hope, which is still one of the Tour’s most enjoyable tournaments despite its star-challenged field, is a no-brainer, but The Los Angeles Times' Bill Dwyer advised caution after talking with tournament director John Foster.

Still, bigger-name players and a title sponsor are needed, and Sunday brought yet another wrinkle. The Desert Sun reported that former President Bill Clinton, an avid golfer, may be interested in using his leverage and that of his foundation to get involved in getting a sponsor and players. The details are unclear, and Foster's body language on the topic pointed to caution.

But can you imagine Clinton calling Mickelson to play in the Hope, and Mickelson saying no?

That may be a work in progress, much like the Bob Hope Classic itself.

Stray Shots: Things we saw while insisting the proper spelling is “Jhonny”...

Former USGA president David Fay is joining Golf Digest as a columnist. Personally, I hate it when estimable publications go tabloid to attract readers. (Via The Austin Statesman)

Some teenagers go bonkers after hitting an unlikely shot at a miniature golf course. Surprisingly, they don’t appear to have girlfriends. (Video via The Huffington Post)

Arnold Palmer’s garage has never once seen an automobile. (Via The Orlando Sentinel)

Why Martin Kaymer’s stint at No. 2 might be short-lived. Remember, Tiger is at Torrey Pines this week. (Via Eurosport.com)

Follow Mike Walker on Twitter.

July 18, 2010

Afternoon rounds should be breeze for leaders

Posted at 6:52 AM by Mike Walker

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — If way, way back guys like Phil Mickelson (2-under) and Tiger Woods (3-under) were hoping for the weather to help them catch leaders Louis Oosthuizen (15-under) and Paul Casey (11-under), they're going to have to come up with another plan.

The forecast for Sunday at St. Andrews is cloudy in the morning with a "freshening breeze." The afternoon will be mostly dry, becoming brighter with winds gently dying down, and the temperature could rise to 68 degrees, almost beach weather here. So if the pack chasing Oosthuizen will have to catch him with their play — Old Man Wind is sitting this one out.

"Obviously I will try everything to get up there, try to get off to a fast start with a few birdies the first five, six holes to put them under pressure," said Martin Kaymer, seven shots back at 8-under. "But we will see. I can only do my very best tomorrow and take care of my own game."

Of course Oosthuizen, the little-know South African could make things easier if he collapses like Dustin Johnson did at the U.S. Open last month at Pebble Beach. (Johnson blew a three-shot lead after 54 holes in just three hole en route to a 11-over round of 82.) However, Oosthuizen's countryman Retief Goosen doesn't think that's likely.

"Louis has actually been playing some really good golf this year," Goosen said. "He's probably had a chance to win four or five European Tour events this year and he just failed in that last round or somebody else shot a great round."

The key for Oosthuizen is how he plays the first six holes, Goosen said. If he can stay at even par, then he'll have a chance for birdies on 7 and 9. Goosen doesn't think Oosthuizen will be easy to catch.

"I think Paul [Casey] is playing well," Goosen said of Oosthuizen's nearest pursuer. "He's probably still going to have to shoot maybe somewhere around par or something under par to win."

June 09, 2010

Truth and Rumors: Tiger's appearance fee, Goosen's HOF chances and sweet tweets

Posted at 11:27 AM by Steve Beslow

Pay the man
Tiger Woods is set to defend his title at the Australian Masters, the last tournament he won before his scandal hit the public eye last year. It won't surprise you to hear that getting Tiger to the outback requires paying him an enormous appearance fee. What might surprise you is who ends up footing that bill (from Thomas Hunter at The Sydney Morning Herald).

Tiger Woods is coming back to Melbourne for this year’s Australian Masters but Victorian taxpayers, who are covering part of his appearance fee, will never know how much they’re paying for the privilege, says Victorian Tourism Minister Tim Holding. Mr Holding said revealing the figure would give interstate governments and other locations the chance to match or exceed the bid and lure the star from Victoria. "[Tiger's fee] won’t be made public," he told Radio 3AW. ‘‘We work very hard to secure these events and we don’t want to bid the price up by disclosing the exact amounts.’’ It is understood Woods commands a $3 million appearance fee. It was widely reported the Victorian government paid $1.5 million of the golfer’s fee last year, despite Mr Holding saying today the exact amount would not be made public. The tournament prize money last year was $270,000.

If this sounds like the height of absurdity, it's possible that Tiger's appearance fee is a better investment than it sounds:

He said the expense was ‘‘infinitesimal’’ compared to the economic benefit which flowed the Woods’ appearance, with audited figures showing his performance at last year’s Australian Masters earned the state $34 million, exceeding forecasts by more $15 million.

I'm no golf purist, but I find the idea of appearance fees to be about the most ridiculous premise of all time. While golf can be fun to watch, I like to think of professional golfers as athletes, not entertainers (with a few notable exceptions). I'd rather see the money that goes to appearance fees actually show up in the purse, so that it needs to be earned with a win (or at least a solid showing) rather than with a wave of the cap.

Ballot Buster
Ernie Els and Retief Goosen are the newest qualifiers on the World Golf Hall of Fame ballot, and it's no surprise that the talk around the golf writers' water cooler today is about the worthiness of the new candidates. As with any subjective vote, the biggest question is whether to focus on your gut or your stat sheet. Jim Brighters from TSN has chosen the former:

...When I look at the ballot, a name jumps at me, and that should be enough. I know enough about the careers to know basic win totals and major championships. The resume is there already, and if I'm not familiar with it, then I haven't been doing my job and am not qualified to vote.

With that being said, Els is a Hall of Famer, no doubt. He won two U.S. Opens in a relatively short period of time and fairly early in his career. Els won the third major and a different one, the 2002 British Open Championship. 

Els has been an elite golfer for the better part of 15 years. He was No. 1 in the world for a period of time, and perhaps more importantly, there was a good chunk of time where he was the clear No. 2 to Tiger Woods.

Mark my words, that will be just as important as being No. 1.

That's the difference between Els and Goosen. Truthfully, not being the second-best player isn't a benchmark as to whether you get in the Hall of Fame. Goosen was a great player for the middle part of the 2000s and that's admirable.

He doesn't have the longevity of Els. When the two were in their primes, Els was a world-class player who could be the best. Was Goosen? Hard to say he wasn't since he won two U.S. Opens, and truthfully, two of the hardest U.S. Opens any eyes have witnessed.

But Goosen never struck me as someone who should be favored in every major he teed it up in. Again, no formula for me, but my gut says no for Goosen.

I should start by saying that I agree with every point Brighters makes here about Els. He was dominant before Tiger, and he was as competitive as any human being could be after Tiger, which is about all we can ask. 

That being said, I think Brighters is far too hard on Retief Goosen. Yes, Goosen's PGA Tour win totals aren't as gaudy as some other players', but it's the World Golf Hall of Fame, not the PGA Tour Hall of Fame. Goose has won 9 times on the Sunshine Tour, 4 times on the Asian Tour and 14 times (tied for 15th all time) on the European Tour, earning the Euro Order of Merit twice. Those wins make his steady play on the PGA Tour all the more impressive, and his two U.S. Open wins are more than enough to put him over the top of HOF qualifications in my opinion. I will credit Brighters for one more thing, he's consistent: if I had to compare Goosen to another Hall of Famer, I'd probably pick 2004 inductee Tom Kite...who Brighters doesn't think belongs either.

Sweet Tweets
In what I hope will become consistent fodder for the Truth and Rumors blog, PGA Tour golfers have been seriously upping their Twitter game lately. While Stewart Cink is still my personal favorite, he actually made the most waves this week not as a Tweeter, but as a Tweetie (that's a word, right?). Zach Johnson Tweeted this now famous photo of Cink in a compromising position a couple days ago, and it's become an internet sensation. In lieu of yet another "ball" pun, I think Wilbon and Kornheiser summed up the situation perfectly on PTI last night: "The swing thought here is definitely 'thin it to win it'...you don't want to hit it fat."

In less dangerous Twitter news, Bubba Watson made sure to share his first ever hole-in-one during a US Open qualifier this week with all of his fans and followers. It's not news in and of itself, but it's pretty hilarious how excited the oft-exuberant Watson is about his ace. When you've only got 140 characters to work with and you spend 11 of them on exclamation points, you know you're pretty fired up. Who knows what might happen if he actually wins a tournament this year.

June 02, 2010

Truth and Rumors: Jack says it's not U.S. Tour anymore, Harrington refracts and Golfsmith has another giveaway

Posted at 10:59 AM by Steve Beslow

Jack's back at it
As I noted last week, Jack Nicklaus has been anything but shy lately about discussing how the PGA Tour handles (and should handle) its business. At yesterday's press conference for his Memorial Tournament, Jack was asked about requiring players to compete in a certain amount of tournaments. Nicklaus was pretty clear about his feelings on the subject (transcript courtesy of ASAP sports):

...What is happening on the Tour today is you have got your four major championships. You have got your world championships. You have got your other significant events. By the time you get done with it, and it's not a U.S. Tour anymore. This is World Tour, whether you think it is or not. The players from around the world, if they're going to come here -- let's say they're required to play 12 events here. That is a lot of events for them to play. They have got to go home and support their own Tour. So that is a lot of golf for these guys. So you start designating them to play more, it really becomes a difficult situation.

While it's hard to argue with Jack's response, I can't help but feel a little disappointed in it. As is often pointed out (even by Jack earlier in his response), golfers are independent contractors. They don't have contracts with teams or owners, and they are responsible for themselves. At the same time, the PGA Tour (like nearly every other business) is struggling right now, and it seems like common sense that the more that players contribute to (read: play in) less prestigious tournaments, the more likely those events are to stay up and running through the tough economy. As entitled as Nicklaus is to his opinion, it's also important to remember that he's got a bit of a skewed perspective on this issue: the top players actually show up to his tournament.

TMI?
Needless to say, the PGA Tour is in an era of unsurpassed physical fitness. The Tiger revolution has spurred even the most laid back Tour pros to try Yoga, resistance training and any assortment of high energy diets. As Karl MacGinty of Ireland's The Independent reports, 3-time Major winner Padraig Harrington is taking things just a bit further to get out of his current slump, including using a device known as a refractometer.

Every day, Harrington will use a hand-held refractometer to determine if he is properly hydrated. He simply places a drop of urine on the prism and forwards the results to his health and fitness specialist Dr Liam Hennessy for analysis.

On the 15 to 20 weeks per year that Dr Hennessy travels with the Irishman to tournaments, the medic himself will conduct daily blood, urine and stress testing on Harrington to ensure he is in peak physical condition, especially going into that crunch time at tournaments -- Sunday afternoon.

Until recently, the fitness director at the IRFU, Dr Hennessy, played a key role in the success of Irish rugby entering the professional era, helping to develop the speed and mobility of our players at a time when others opted for brute strength.

Yet his work on Harrington's physiology is just one facet of the Dubliner's 24/7 devotion to the pursuit of further success at the Majors. If it is within reason (and, of course, the rules) he is willing to give anything a try.

I highly recommend reading the rest of that article, as MacGinty also goes into some of the other (and more conventional) methods that Harrington is using to get himself back to top form. But let's not kid ourselves, the real news here is that Harrington has his urine checked every day for optimal hydration levels. Listen, I know these guys are professional athletes and that they want their bodies performing at the highest possible levels, but...really? If John Daly can win two majors with more Diet Coke than water in his bloodstream, I think we can assume that there's a lot more to winning golf tournaments than peak fitness. What surprises me most about this story is that I always think of Harrington as an old-school player. In fact, we chose Harrington to test some 50-year-old equipment for our 50th Anniversary Issue for that exact reason. Is this sort of reliance on fitness technology playing it smart or just plain desperation? Only the leaderboards will tell us that.

Giving it all away
Apparently Golfsmith's Phil Mickelson Master's giveaway was a smashing success, because they're doing it again. From the Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch:

Just months after Phil Mickelson's Masters win resulted in Golfsmith giving away a $1 million in golf clubs, the nation's largest specialty golf retailer, hopes to have a repeat performance with another million dollar golf club giveaway.

Golfsmith is teaming up with TaylorMade and a trio of golfers, two-time U.S. Open Champion Retief Goosen, Sergio Garcia and Sean O'Hair with a new national promotion tied to the U.S. Open Golf Championship.

"Pick a Pro and Win" gives customers an opportunity to win new TaylorMade drivers, free of charge, if Garcia, Goosen or O'Hair, is victorious at Pebble Beach. Now through June 16 golfers who purchase one of three new TaylorMade drivers -- the R9 Super Tri, Burner SuperFast or the R9 460 driver -- at any Golfsmith store across the country will have the purchase price of their TaylorMade driver fully refunded by Golfsmith if the player they choose -- Garcia, Goosen or O'Hair -- wins the U.S. Open. Like the Phil Mickelson promotion, Golfsmith has purchased an insurance policy to cover the promotion.

Talk about a no-lose situation. The free press alone was well worth whatever insurance premiums Golfsmith has paid on these promotions in the past. Those premiums must be pretty steep though, as Golfsmith keeps making this giveaway more and more likely. The first time they ran the promotion in 2009, customers had to pin their hopes on perennial major disappointment Garcia. After the goodwill provided by Lefty's Masters victory, Golfsmith had the sense to make the goal more attainable, adding Goosen and O'Hair into the mix. Expect a slight spike in TaylorMade sales over the next few weeks, and a bunch of white-knuckled spectators at your clubhouse bar come the Open. Still, as my colleague Mike Walker told me, "If they really wanted to get people excited, they'd just give away the million dollars."

September 06, 2009

Goosen: Might need seven under Monday to win

Posted at 6:40 PM by Dick Friedman

With a stellar, back-nine 33 on Sunday, Retief Goosen put himself in the final group for the Labor Day final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston. His card showed a three-under 68. But Goosen, who is tied for first with Steve Stricker at 13-under, thinks a replica of today's score won't be good enough to win.

"There's got to be, what, 20 players within four shots," he said. (Actually, there are 16.) "I think it's going to be a low round tomorrow if conditions are similar to today. Somebody is going to have to shoot like six under or seven under, probably, to win." Noting that today was the windiest of the tournament's first three days, Goosen said, "If there's no wind out there tomorrow, then you're going to need to shoot a low one to have a chance."

Goosen may very well be the guy to shoot a low one. He has excelled in all phases this week, particularly off the tee. He ranks 10th in driving distance for the week at 305.8 yards, and hit 13 of 14 fairways Sunday. "I was on the driving range here Monday hitting balls for three hours," Goosen said. Result: "I've been driving it nicely this week. The last couple of times I've played here, I've played terrible, so it's nice to play well around this golf course. I like it. It's a good course. The greens are hard and fast, so that's the way I like to putt, see them roll on the greens, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

It helps that one guy Goosen almost certainly doesn't have to worry about on Monday is Tiger Woods, who is nine shots back. "Well, the players are happy that he's not up top of the leader board," Goosen said with a laugh, then added,  "The sponsors are unhappy that he's not on top of the leader board."

March 21, 2009

What to Watch for: Steve Stricker, Nick Watney, Charles Howell III, Ryo Ishikawa

Posted at 8:07 AM by Damon Hack

Steve Stricker has seen the game of golf from all sides, including its underbelly. He has played well enough to win tournaments and poorly enough to nearly walk away from the game. Despite a bucketful of heartbreak in recent weeks - a collapse at the Bob Hope and a closing bogey to lose Riviera - he finds himself atop a leader board again, sharing a perch with Nick Watney. It's going to be fun to watch those two go head-to-head in Saturday's final pairing. Watney, who shared the final group with Phil Mickelson at Doral, is fast becoming a regular on the big stage. Get to know him. You'll be seeing him at the Presidents Cup.

One shot back is Charles Howell III, who normally would be gearing up for the Masters at this time of year but is currently not exempt. That would change with a victory. Once tabbed as the leader of generation next, Howell hasn't won a tournament in more than two years. His world ranking has slipped to 143rd. I'll be watching to see if this son of an Augusta, Ga., doctor can play his way into the Masters field for the eighth straight year.

FInally, I'll be keeping up with 17-year-old Ryo Ishikawa, who made the cut with a shot to spare, and Jim Furyk, who made the cut with no shots to spare after following his sterling 65 with a what-in-the-heck-happened 78. Furyk was fighting his swing and his putting stroke on a course where imprecision means trouble. The course is speeding up and mimicking a U.S. Open, so don't overlook Retief Goosen (U.S. Open champ in '01 and '04) who is one shot back.





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