Category: Tom Watson


January 16, 2012

Our favorite golf stories from 2011 Sportswriter of the Year Joe Posnanski

Posted at 5:46 PM by Golf.com

Congratulations to Sports Illustrated senior writer and Golf Magazine columnist Joe Posnanski, who was named the 2011 Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. Here are a few of our favorite Posnanski golf stories from his time at SI. If you like what you see here, you can find more great Posnanski stories on his blog Curiously Long Posts, in the Sports Illustrated archive, or in his 2001 book The Good Stuff: Columns About the Magic of Sports, available on Amazon.com for $24.95.

The Two Lives of Tom Watson (May 29, 2011)

I think Watson’s career is singular because unlike any of the other great golfers, Watson’s life is really divided in two. There was the young and wild Watson who hit the ball all over the place and won with one of the great short games in golf history. And there is the older Watson, whose ball-striking is so magnificent that men half his age salivate, but who has been held back by 5-foot putts that stubbornly go their own way.

If the game of the old and young Watson had ever met, they would not recognize each other.

If the old Watson and the young Watson had ever shared a season, they might have won the Grand Slam.

All Eyes Are Smiling (June 27, 2011)

Super Bowls ... World Series ... NBA Finals ... we tend to root for our own. But every now and again, golf gives us a chance to all root together. That's part of the charm of the game. It happened in 1986, when a legend named Jack Nicklaus, years beyond his prime, summoned a series of magical shots on Sunday and won the Masters. It happened in '91, when a chain-smoking ninth alternate from Dardanelle, Ark., named John Daly won the PGA Championship by hitting balls so hard you could almost hear them screaming. It happened in 1997, when a prodigy named Tiger Woods blew away the field at the Masters and for the first time made golf look cool, really cool, not only to those who play but also to those who are just drawn to cool things.

It happened again at Congressional, on a windless weekend, on a soft course, when the U.S. Open was won from beginning to end by another golf prodigy, this one from Northern Ireland.

The Best Never to Win a Major (April 9, 2011)

1. Colin Montgomerie

In making this list, there are many players — Adam Scott, Bruce Lietzke, Paul Casey, Darren Clarke, Doug Sanders, several others — who could have made the Top 10. But nobody else is even close to No. 1. Montgomerie led the Order of Merit eight times. Eight. He finished second at five major championships. He finished as one of the 10 best players in the world every year from 1994 to 2000, topping out, poetically, at No. 2.

There seemed something doomed about Monty, something difficult to capture. There are certain people in sports who just seem to have the Charlie Brown cloud over their heads, and Montgomerie had that.

--

This story was produced for Golf Magazine's weekly Front9 app. To keep up with the latest golf news, get great tips from the Top 100 Teachers in America, and weekly Rules Guy columns, download the Front9 app at the Apple iTunes store. A lifetime subscription is $2.99.

November 07, 2011

VIDEO GALLERY: Watch the best shots of 2011

Posted at 1:48 PM by Golf.com

We know you remember Bill Haas’s $11 million up-and-down from the water, but what about Bubba Watson’s driver off the deck at Kapalua, or Steve Stricker’s ridiculous fairway bunker shot at the John Deere? Watch the year’s best shots and then tell us which was the greatest of them all. 

1. Bill Haas up and down from water at Tour Championship:

2. Rory McIlroy holes out for eagle in second round of U.S. Open.

3. Rory McIlroy hits tee shot on No. 10 to within a foot on Sunday at U.S. Open.

Watch at official U.S. Open site here.

4. Bubba Watson hits driver off deck from a downhill lie in first round at Kapalua to reach 663-yard par-5 18th hole in two:

5. Charl Schwartzel chips in for birdie on No. 1 on Masters Sunday.

6. Charl Schwartzel holes out from the fourth fairway for eagle on Masters Sunday.

Watch at official Masters site here.

7. Phil Mickelson asks caddie Bones Mackay to tend pin for 70-yard wedge shot on 72nd hole at Torrey Pines:

8. Keegan Bradley’s birdie putt on 17 on Sunday at PGA Championship.

Watch at official PGA site here.

9. D.A. Points holes out on 14 in final round at AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am:

10. Hunter Mahan from water on 17 in first round of Tour Championship, keeps pants clean

11. Steve Stricker from fairway bunker on 72nd hole at John Deere and birdie putt for win

12. Tiger hits his approach to 10 feet on the eighth hole Sunday at Augusta and makes the eagle putt

Watch at official Masters site here.

13. Luke Donald’s 30-foot putt for birdie on 15 Sunday at Disney for sixth-straight birdie.

14. Adam Scott sticks his approach on 18 Sunday at Bridgestone to 5 feet to make birdie

15. Tom Watson’s ace on 6 in second round of British Open

Watch at official Open Championship site here.

This gallery debuted in Golf Magazine's weekly Front9 app. To keep up with the latest golf news, get great tips from the Top 100 Teachers in America, and weekly Rules Guy columns, download the Front9 app at the Apple iTunes store. Lifetime subscription is $2.99.

August 09, 2011

Truth & Rumors: Stevie Williams done talking about Tiger

Posted at 2:10 PM by Mike Walker

As they say in New Zealand, there’s no use locking the barn door after the sheep are stolen, but Steve Williams is finished talking about Tiger Woods, according to Fox News’ Robert Lusitech.

“I said what I said but I’m not going to say any more about Tiger,” he said.

Williams also said that his post-round comments Sunday following new boss Adam Scott’s win at the Bridgestone Invitational were “a bit over the top.” After Scott’s win, Williams told CBS Sports’ David Feherty that it was “the best win he ever had,” despite having caddied for 13 of Woods’s 14 majors, and also for Greg Norman and Raymond Floyd.

“Looking back on it, I was a bit over the top,” he told FOXSports.com from Atlanta, where he and Scott were preparing for this week’s PGA Championship. “I had a lot of anger in me about what happened (with Woods) and it all came out.”

Say goodbye to Holywood: Rory-mania helps drive McIlroy from Northern Ireland
One of the reason’s Rory McIlroy has decided to join the PGA Tour in 2012 is that he’s lost his privacy at home in the Belfast suburb of Holywood since winning the U.S. Open and becoming a global sports superstar, according to The Independent (UK) newspaper.

"It is part of the reason, yes," said the 22-year-old. "I have had security guards at my house every night since I won the US Open patrolling around the area. It is something that I just had to put in place I'm afraid. There have been people driving up the driveway and stuff which isn't very nice. It's tough but it is just the world we live in unfortunately. If you're in the position we're in you're so public."

Life has changed for McIlroy since he won the US Open in record style. If his profile was raised dramatically in America then in his homeland the roof blew off. Where once Holywood, the Belfast suburb he has lived in all his life, had been his sanctuary, now it became a goldfish bowl. No escape, little privacy.

"It's definitely a lot tougher than it was three months ago," said McIlroy. "There are moments when you think, 'what's happening here, what's going on?' But this is always what I wanted to do. When you grow up and dream of being a professional golfer and dream of winning majors, all you really think about is the golf and playing in front of great crowds on unbelievable courses, winning trophies. You never think about the other side of it and that is the side that takes a bit of getting used to. It is also something that you don't really expect."

Tom Watson’s driving range advice: Warm up with a 3-iron
The South Bend (Ind.) Tribune’s Jack Walkden caught up with Tom Watson
at a First Tee charity event in Benton Harbor, Mich., on Monday, where Watson offered advice on warming up and handling pressure. Watson showed the huge crowd how to warm up. He stretches and then swings with a 3-iron.

"If you hit it great on the first swing, life is good," Watson said. "If you hit it lousy, it doesn't mess with your head because the 3-iron is the toughest club to hit. That's my warped sense of thinking."

He showed fans how to swing, though he said you can play well and have a poor swing.

"Adam Scott has a great golf swing," Watson said. "However, Lee Trevino had the best control of a golf ball that I've ever played with. He could make a ball do whatever he wanted it to do and he had terrible mechanics. It shows that you don't have to have a perfect swing, but it helps.”

Watson showed how to hit a draw, how to hook and slice. But most importantly, Watson explained how he handles pressure.

"I learned from Byron Nelson," Watson said. "He said when he was under pressure, he always wanted to get the round over with. So when he was under pressure, he had to slow his pace down. He had to walk slower because when you're nervous you always want to go fast.

"You will also see me yawning sometimes during a tournament. I yawn when I'm under pressure to fill my lungs with air. That helps me get my rhythm back."

Tweet of the Day

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July 18, 2011

Truth & Rumors: Clarke parties hearty with claret jug

Posted at 11:25 AM by Mike Walker

We all knew this was coming. When the European Tour’s leading bon vivant wins the major championship he wants the most, he’s going to throw a great party.

Here’s a report from Clarke’s manager Chubby Chandler from after 1 a.m. Sandwich, England, time:

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Clarke_party

The party continued straight through until morning, according to the European Tour’s web site. Here's the post-celebration report from a bleary-eyed Clarke posing with the claret jug Monday morning:

"I probably won't get any sleep until tomorrow at some stage. Have to enjoy it when you can.

"I had quite a few pints and quite a few glasses of red wine and it all continued until about 30 minutes ago.

"It's been a very good night."

Nothing, though, had been poured into the trophy.

"I'm a little bit of a traditionalist. I feel a bit funny about putting stuff in the Claret Jug that shouldn't be in there. "There's nothing in it as yet. That may not be the case as the week goes by!"

We’ll give Rory McIlroy the final word.

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Tom Watson visited D-Day sites before playing British Open  

Before traveling to Royal St. George’s in Sandwich for the British Open, Tom Watson made an emotional visit to the World War II battlefields and graveyards of Normandy in northern France. Watson talked about the experience after his round on Sunday.

TOM WATSON: I visited the British military grave site at Ranville first and then I went on to Sword Beach, which was the eastern flank, and then we overnighted in Caen, and then the next day we went to the U.S. cemetery and Pointe du Hoc and Omaha Beach. It was very emotional.

Q. You've been here, seen it, done it. There must be few things that can move you, but that must have been...

TOM WATSON: Oh, there are a lot of things that can move me. There are a lot of things. That certainly is -- you know, that particular turning point in World War II certainly was a -- it was a feat extraordinaire.

Q. Describe your emotions around a place like that.

TOM WATSON: Well, the visuals there are -- I wanted to see, first of all, Pointe du Hoc. It was man against man and gun against gun. Talk about a disadvantage. It was like me playing Phil Mickelson on this golf course. The Rangers, the Second Battalion Rangers, had to go up 115 feet in the air, straight up, and the Germans were up there shooting at them. And they managed to do it. Omaha Beach was a disaster in a lot of different ways. The weather forecast was not exactly right, and the seas were really, really big, and they lost a lot of men before they even got to shore. They couldn't get to shore. To see the cemetery there and the 9,000-plus marble crosses is a striking reminder of what the human condition can do. I was very emotional, very emotional seeing that.

Jack Wagner takes down Tony Romo in celeb tournament

Darren Clarke’s win at the British Open was drama-free after Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson flamed out on the back nine, but that wasn’t the case for soap star and celebrity golf stick Jack Wagner, who had to shake a charging Tony Romo down the stretch at the American Century Championship in Reno, Nev., according to Dan Hinxman of The Reno Gazette-Journal.

By the time the two reached the par-3 17th, Wagner's lead was down to two. He sank a 10-footer for birdie right after Romo missed his 12-foot birdie try, and then both players hit their second shot on 18 into Lake Laimbeer. Romo needed to make about a 30-footer to force Wagner to get up and down in three shots, but he missed and Wagner claimed his second ACC title in five years.

It put the finishing touches on a day of quality golf, with Wagner shooting a three-under 69 and Romo shooting a 66. Wagner finished with 80 points, the second-highest total in the tournament's modified Stableford scoring history (since 2003).

Good thing it didn't go to a playoff. Cowboys fans know how that would end.

When is Tiger Woods returning to the PGA Tour?

In case you missed it, Tiger Woods is planning to play Stanford bud Notah Begay’s charity tournament on Aug. 31 in Upstate New York. However, the CEO of the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia said that rumors of a Tiger return at the Greenbrier Classic on July 28 are just that, according to Dave Morrison of The (Beckley, W. Va.) Register-Herald.

“There is absolutely nothing to the Tiger rumor, absolutely nothing,” Justice said, without even being asked. “That means I have heard nothing (from Woods’ camp),” Justice said. “Surely to goodness, I would have been the first to know that. It would be great news, and we would love to have Tiger. But as far as Tiger committing, there is nothing to it.”

In other Tiger news, Woods texted his pal Darren Clarke some final-round advice before, but Clarke declined to say what it was. (Via The Associated Press). Also, Palm Beach Realtor Jeff Lichtenstein does the math and figures that – in addition to his mortgage -- Tiger has about $5.4 million in monthly taxes and expenses on his Jupiter Island, Fla., mansion. No wonder he might come back soon! 

Sports Photo of the Year

If the average picture is worth a thousand words, this one posted on Twitter by Brian Keogh of IrishGolfDesk is worth 10,000.

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July 17, 2011

On the range, players fight the wind and prepare for tough Sunday conditions

Posted at 8:05 AM by David Dusek

OpenFlag_350x250 SANDWICH, England – With flags crackling and divots rolling across the practice area like tumbleweeds, Y.E. Yang pelted one 6-iron after another. Instead of rising majestically, each shot seemed to be pressed down and to the right by a giant invisible hand that kept them short of the 150-yard marker.
 
The forecast calls for 35-mile-per-hour gusts today, and the winds on the range felt at least that strong this afternoon as players prepared for what promised to be another challenging day at the 2011 Open Championship.
 
Thirty feet to Yang's right, Tom Watson, a five-time Open winner, was hitting a series of shots with his driver. Low and piercing, it was clear that Watson was trying to keep the ball below the gusts.
 
If the wind and the pending challenge were weighing on Watson's mind, he didn't show it. Stopping his warm up, he called to a nearby BBC cameraman, "Hey, I've got question for you? How do you keep that camera lens from getting so wet?" The two men then chatted for about five minutes before Watson went back to work.
 
After hitting a series of 15-yard chip shots into the wind and then with the wind, Watson left to a loud ovation.
 
The only player whose shots seemed to defy the left-to-right gale was Adam Scott. One after another, his wedge and short-iron shots sailed into the air and held their line, going straight at his targets. But the Australian's spell was broken once he started hitting his longer irons, which peeled to the right like everyone else's.
 
"Rebel weather," he said to Chad Campbell, who like Scott played college golf at UNLV. "It's a rebel day."\

(Photo by Andrew Reddington/Getty Images)

July 15, 2011

Tom Watson thrills Open fans again with ace on No. 6

Posted at 6:21 AM by Golf.com


Tom-watson-ace-friday-2011open_372x248 Tom Watson, 61, a five-time British Open champ and fan favorite in the U.K., gave the crowd something to cheer about today with a hole-in-one on the par-3, 178-yard sixth hole.

The shot took one hop before landing in the hole. Watson celebrated by high-fiving his playing partner, the British amateur Tom Lewis. As he walked to the green, according to the Associated Press, he said, "Wish I could have seen it go in."

The ace moved Watson from two over to even par and may have fans remembering his run at the 2009 British Open at Turnberry, where he lost in a playoff to Stewart Cink. Watson won the Open in '75, '77, '80, '82 and '83.

Watson's was the second ace of the tournament. Dustin Johnson made one Thursday on the par-3, 163-yard 16th.

Photo: Jon Super/AP

July 12, 2011

Truth & Rumors: Lawyer says Tiger never received illegal drugs from Galea

Posted at 12:11 PM by Jeff Ritter

Last week Anthony Galea, the Canadian doctor who treated Tiger Woods after Woods's 2008 knee surgery, pleaded guilty to bringing unapproved drugs into the U.S. As part of the plea deal, Galea may provide authorities with a list of his clients, many of whom were athletes, and the methods and substances he used to treat them. Naturally, this touched off speculation as to how Woods's name could eventually surface. But the New York Daily News reached a lawyer representing Galea's ex-assistant, who stated that Woods never received performance-enhancing drugs from Galea.

An attorney for the chief witness in the Anthony Galea case said that one of the controversial Toronto physician's most famous clients, Tiger Woods, never received performance-enhancing drugs while a patient of Galea.

Rod Personius, who represents Galea's former assistant Mary Anne Catalano, told the Daily News Monday in an email, "I tell you categorically that Tiger did NOT receive either banned or performance enhancing drugs when treating with Dr. Galea."

St. George's set up for old-timers?
It's been two years since Tom Watson, then 59, made a historic run at the Open Championship (if not for one bad bounce on his approach to the 72nd green, he probably would have won the thing). This week Watson is once again in the field, and he told Reuters that the layout at Sandwich could favor some of the older players in the field -- including himself.

"I don't see why it's not feasible for a 50-something to win this week," Watson, 61, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

"Links courses are great equalizers. You don't have to pound the ball or hit the ball particularly long although they have added length to many of the holes here."

Watson conceded that some of the holes at the extended 7,211-yard, par-70 layout would prove particularly difficult for him to negotiate.

"There are two 240-yard par-threes at the third and 11th where length is definitely an advantage," he said while attending a MasterCard presentation at Royal St George's.

"But I am here to contend, without a doubt. I may have some problems with those two par-threes but if I'm playing well I can compete on this course.

The oldest player to win a British Open was, appropriately enough, Old Tom Morris, who was 46 when he won the claret jug in 1867.

Stray Shots:

* Excellent feature in The New York Times on how Rory McIlroy is transcending religious and cultural boundaries in Northern Ireland and Britain.

* ESPN's Bob Harig examines why players hate Royal St. George's.

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August 05, 2010

Truth & Rumors: Akron-Canton is double-booked this weekend

Posted at 10:25 AM by Gary Van Sickle

You'd think it would be pretty easy to find a hotel room in Akron, Ohio. It's the rubber capital of the nation, not the tourist capital.

But since the Bridgestone Invitational was moved to the week before the PGA Championship, a scheduling switch to accommodate the FedEx Cup playoffs, the tournament overlaps with the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony in nearby Canton. (Yet another example of the intersection of golf and the NFL.) Hotel rooms are scarce and, when available, expensive. Hoteliers aren't happy with the situation; what used to be two weeks of brisk business has now merged into one.

Even though the PGA Tour was the latecomer to this date, Commissioner Tim Finchem said there isn't much he can do about it, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.

"This date works perfectly for getting every top player here," he said Wednesday after speaking at an Akron Roundtable Luncheon. "That's not so easy. This is the perfect week for the international players because they're coming in to play next week (in the PGA Championship). Our difficulties are more serious than the NFL's, but I can't speak for (NFL Commissioner) Roger Goodell.

"We wouldn't mind moving it, but we want to do what's in the best interest of the tournament. That has broader implications than what's happening here. It's a global event. It's a prize event for our television partners and one of the reasons is because of the field."

The Bridgestone used to work just fine when it was held the week after the PGA Championship, but positioning it there now before the four-week playoff run would create a whole new scheduling problem for players. As the Beacon Journal noted, however, the event does come with a nice perk. The first prize for this limited-field event is $1.53 million, larger than any of golf's four major championships.

Tiger Woods fuels Ryder Cup speculation
If you're wondering whether Tiger Woods will play in the Ryder Cup, or if he'd be a wild-card pick if he doesn't make the team on points, you'll have to keep wondering. Woods wouldn't offer any information or opinions Wednesday despite persistent questioning, and subsequent criticism, from Steve Elling of CBSSports.com:

Too many times to mention over the years, Tiger Woods has bemoaned the notion that many speculative stories have been authored about him with little basis in fact. Wonder why that is? Offered the opportunity to put an increasingly hot-button issue to rest on Wednesday, he waffled and only contributed to the speculation that he might not play in the upcoming Ryder Cup matches in Wales.

I asked him three direct questions about making the U.S. team as an invitee and not as an automatic selection. For your amusement and illumination, here's the verbatim exchange:

Q. There's been a lot of speculation on the Ryder Cup. We're two weeks out from locking up the top eight. If you were asked to go as a captain's pick, are you all in?

Woods: "I'm planning on playing my way into the team."

Q. If it doesn't happen….

Woods: "I'm planning on playing my way into the team."

Q. That's still kind of an equivocation.

Woods: "I'm planning on playing my way into the team."

Elling finished his column by blaming Woods for the speculation that surrounds him.

Woods drew laughs with his stubbornness, but with a simple answer, he could have cleared up the discussion and ended the questions. Let the conjecture continue. He rekindled the speculative bonfire himself.

Watson dines on award
The late comedian Red Buttons relied on his "Never got a dinner" routine when he used to appear on the old celebrity roasts. Well, Tom Watson got a dinner when he was honored as this year's Ambassador of Golf, awarded by the Northern Ohio Golf Charities. Watson has been very involved in fundraising for ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease, ever since it claimed the life of his long-time caddie, Bruce Edwards. Watson has also made several trips to entertain U.S. troops in the Middle East.

You know you've made it when you finally get a dinner -- and a painting. The Firestone clubhouse features paintings of previous award-winners, and Watson was impressed with the company he's now keeping, according to the Beacon Journal.

"Everybody from Bob Hope to Bing Crosby to Jack Nicklaus to Barbara Nicklaus to Pete Dye, Deane Beman, there's just a variety," Watson said. "It's the people that comprise the whole fabric of the game and to be included in that is a great honor."

Watson capped off his special night with a special dessert.

Said Watson: "I saw the old waitress and I said, 'Do you still have that butterscotch pie?' And she said, 'It's not butterscotch, it's crunchy cream.' I said, 'It sure is butterscotch to me.' She came to me 15 minutes later and said, We're making you one."

July 07, 2010

Truth and Rumors: Watson understands Tiger's struggles, Phil is/isn't eyeing #1 and Michelle Wie brushes up on her Greek

Posted at 11:36 AM by Steve Beslow

Watson gets in Tiger's head...again
As well as Tom Watson has played in the past year, it's not surprising that his name is mentioned so often with Tiger Woods'. What is surprising is why. Watson has not been shy about criticizing Tiger since news of his various affairs leaked out, and if some people (read: every person who's been anywhere near the two of them) can be believed, Woods' feelings towards Watson range somewhere between icy and homicidal. So it's no shock that Reuters reporter Tom Pilcher would ask Watson about Tiger's recent struggles, and it's even less shocking that Watson would say exactly what he thinks:

Tom Watson says it is only natural that Tiger Woods's fall from grace is so visibly affecting his game.

"His life is a lot more complicated now. He doesn't hear that absolute silence when he's playing, and he mentioned when he's playing his best he hears nothing," the American eight-times major winner told a news conference on Wednesday.

"I'm sure there are things going on in his mind that make it very difficult for him."

World number one Woods confessed to a string of extra-marital affairs earlier this year.

His preparations for the British Open next week at St. Andrews, where he won the Claret Jug in 2000 and 2005, have come under scrutiny, with the American flying home to be with his children instead of having his usual prolonged stay in Europe.

Watson said Woods's busy flying schedule was not a problem ahead of the year's third major.

"I used to come over five or six days early, simply because I wanted to get the time change. That was the first thing. I don't think what he is doing is risky," Watson said at Sunningdale Golf Club where he was launching his instructional DVD on golf.

"That kid was so much better than the rest when he came out and he evolved into a golf swing that really worked for him. He has some difficulties with the golf swing now,"

In all fairness, these comments are pretty tame and don't really claim to give too much insight into Tiger's mindset, but I'm just surprised that, after all the headlines he's caused, Watson is still willing to guess what's going on in Woods' head. As an elder statesman, Old Tom clearly has more leeway with both the media and other Tour players in terms of speaking out of turn, but there's got to be a breaking point for Tiger, and a couple of jabs from Woods might be all it takes for people to remember the odd circumstances around Watson's own marital disharmony.

Phil Mickelson doesn't care about being #1, is a bad liar
Lefty has had several opportunities this season to wrest control of the top spot in golf away from Tiger Woods, but so far he hasn't been able to take advantage. With Tiger spending time with his kids in Florida, Phil's got another chance this week at the Scottish Open, but he tells the BBC's Clive Lindsay that being #1 is not really on his mind.

Phil Mickelson is concentrating on winning the Scottish Open rather than the prospect of taking over from Tiger Woods as world number one. "It would be cool, but it's not something I'm thinking about," said the American, who can leapfrog Woods with a second place finish at Loch Lomond.

"I'm just trying to get my game sharp. It would be cool more because I've come so close to winning this tournament and it would mean a lot to me to break through and finally win."

Asked what his thoughts would be if he did become number one to end 250 weeks in second spot, Mickelson said: "I have a good answer for that, but let's not talk hypotheticals and I will tell you on Sunday if it happens."

Mickelson goes on to talk about links golf and how much he'd like to win at St. Andrews, but Phil's shot at the top of the rankings takes top billing for me. There's plenty of reason to believe that this is as bad as Tiger will ever struggle with his game, so it stands to reason that this is the best chance the southpaw is ever going to have to be the number one player in the world. Phil can hem and haw about not caring, but, while he has many great qualities, modesty is not one of them (as his nickname might suggest).

Mickelson even admits he already has "a good answer" for how he'll feel if he earns the top spot, so clearly it's on his mind no matter how much he insists otherwise. Unfortunately for Phil, we're already past the midpoint of the PGA season, so even if he goes the rest of the year as the No. 1 player, Tiger's already locked up his 13th straight Mark H. McCormack Award.

At least we know she's not pledging "Eye Phelta Thi"
A funny moment out at the U.S. Women's Open yesterday, when Michelle Wie was asked (by what has to be the most smarmy moderator in history) whether or not she was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Stanford. Wie's reply suggests that she is not a member, and likely never will be:

MODERATOR: Welcome to the 2010 US Open Women's Open Championship, by the way. Our first guess this morning is Michelle Wie. I was thinking about it, and when Michelle won the LPGA tournament that she won earlier in the year, I was thinking I believe you were the only college student to ever win a tournament in the LPGA Tour. That's another little feather in your cap. Just tell us a little bit. You won a tournament now. You're still in college. Are you a Phi Beta Kappa yet?

MICHELLE WIE: No sorority for me yet, but it's been fun. It's been a lot of fun. You know, it's great, but I want to do better this year, and I just want to keep doing better and better. College is fun; it's a lot of hard work. It all pays off in the end.

I wish this transcript came with video, because there's nothing a room full of reporters enjoys more than an international star looking foolish (or, in this case, just a little ditsy). In Wie's defense, she's got plenty of other stuff to worry about and isn't necessarily plugged into the most academic cliques on campus (although I hear Brook Lopez's hairstyle was inspired by Albert Einstein), and it's not like PBK is the most visible group on campus. I'll admit that I didn't know what Phi Beta Kappa was until my senior year of college, when my girlfriend was suddenly invited to join. What I could never figure out is why they always met at 11 PM on Saturday night.

June 18, 2010

Truth and Rumors: Re-evaluating Tiger's greatness

Posted at 11:28 AM by Alan Bastable

A Tiger with whom we are not familiar
In light of Tiger's dour demeanor Thursday, Thomas Boswell at the Washington Post is questioning whether the big guy still has the chutzpah to win 19 majors. Boswell was particularly alarmed by Tiger's admission that he was simply "plugging along" at Pebble ...

..."Plugging along" is an adequate strategy in majors. But it's not what you expect from Woods at either of the classic courses [Pebble and St. Andrews] where he has owned everything but the fishing rights. If he goes O-fer the '10 majors, with a zilch at his other favorite track—Augusta National—already in the books this year, then don't we have to reevaluate everything?

Jack's record? If Woods can't win here or at St. Andrews next month, who says he'll ever pass Nicklaus at all? This month, even the Olden Bear himself, professing faith that Woods will prevail and win at one of these two sites, has stressed their importance in the trajectory of Woods's career.

This time Watson comes up at short at 17
Gwenn Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle
trailed Tom Watson and his youthful playing partners Ryo Ishikawa and Rory McIlroy. The round included a bittersweet moment at the par-3 17th, where need we remind you Watson holed out a chip on his way to Open glory back in '82…

The emotional highlight of the day came, as expected, at 17. The mixed-generation threesome had another long wait, and Watson strolled 100 yards up from the tee and stood there for several minutes, half watching the group in front, but mostly looking around, at the sky, the gallery, the sea. At one point, he did a stretching exercise and pantomimed some swings.

Photographers, massed at the tee box, moved out toward Watson and started snapping like mad. From behind, he looked like royalty surveying his kingdom.

But on Thursday, No. 17 rendered its sovereign a commoner. He dropped his tee shot into a bunker on the left side of the green, not too far from where he made the stunning chip shot out of the rough to secure his last U.S. Open crown 28 years ago.

Trying to Move On
Karen Crouse of The New York Times caught up with Ty Tryon, the Danny Pintauro of golf. Tryon, who bagged his Tour card at 17 but hasn't done much since, played his way to Pebble through sectional qualifying. He shot 74 Thursday then reflected on his fall from grace.

"If I'm honest with myself, I definitely did sabotage myself in some ways," Tryon said. "It's like I really didn't embrace my path. I had a little trouble just being comfortable with the image that I had. I was a good kid, but I wasn't perfect. It created a strange dynamic."

He added, "I think I was just probably a little bit too good and too immature and maybe too hard-headed."





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