Immelman Hopes to Keep Grand Slam Alive

By Associated PressJune 12, 2008, 4:00 pm
2008 U.S. OpenSAN DIEGO -- Not long ago, the question wasnt so much if Tiger Woods could win the Grand Slam as whether he could win every tournament he entered this year.
 
With the U.S. Open beginning Thursday, though, the thought of Woods going undefeated has been left behind.
 
And the only player with a chance at the Grand Slam?
 
Thats Trevor Immelman.
 
So while Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott, the top three players in golf, tee off in a rare glamour threesome at Torrey Pines, Immelman will be in a much quieter pairing later in the day: himself, Zach Johnson and Mike Weir'the last three players to win the Masters not named Woods or Mickelson.
 
A fantastic pairing, Immelman said of the Woods-Mickelson-Scott threesome. Ill probably be watching some of it before I tee off. But theres a whole host of players that have a great chance on this course.
 
Immelman is one of them. Not only does he have the confidence of Augusta behind him, he also has the memory of winning one of his first big tournaments, the U.S. Amateur Public Links, right here at Torrey Pines in 1998.
 
If only the Torrey Pines of 10 years ago was the same that the players will see this week.
 
Make no mistake, this is a seriously difficult golf course, Immelman said. But its fairly set up, from what Ive seen the last couple of days.
 
It is long'at 7,643 yards, the longest course in major championship history.
 
But the USGA has given itself some flexibility, too, having placed multiple tee boxes on a number of holes to add options if the wind is blowing or the rough gets out of control or the greens become too much.
 
Or all three.
 
USGA officials are at least talking like theyre trying to change this year.
 
We wanted to keep it the hardest championship in golf, said Mike Davis, the senior director of rules and competition. But we wanted to introduce risk and reward, and widen the scoring opportunities. Youll have a chance to make birdies, but if you dont execute the shot, you can make bogeys or worse. We just want to get them thinking more.
 
To improve chances for a fantastic finish, the likes of which have been missing from U.S. Opens of the recent past, Davis persuaded his USGA compatriots not to turn the 18th hole into a long par-4.
 
Instead, it remains a par-5, reachable at 573 yards, but with a pond guarding the left half of the green and no grass to hold balls that land in front and spin backward.
 
Someone in desperation mode come Sunday might try to go for that green.
 
It really makes you think, Immelman said. Youve got to decide if youre going to for it or lay up. If you hit it over the back and get a bad lie, you can chip it in the water easily. Its going to be a fantastic finishing hole.
 
Not his fault, but the final round of Immelmans Masters victory was completely devoid of drama.
 
He took a two-shot lead into the last day, expanded it to as much as six, and even though he hit his tee shot into the water on the par-3 16th, he averted disaster there, then finished with a pair of safe pars to beat Woods by three.
 
After that, life changed for Immelman, and he says he just tried to go with the flow.
 
If Im going to be brutally honest with you, Id say the reason is that two or three weeks after, I think youre trying to convince everybody else that youre fine, Immelman said. But I never for one second said that. I mean, I was absolutely smoked afterward.
 
As it turned out, Woods was, too. A nagging problem with his knee became too much to handle, so he shut it down and had surgery to clean out cartilage. Suddenly, the player who extended his streak to six straight victories worldwide at the start of the season and was at least a decent bet to win all four majors wasnt playing at all.
 
The U.S. Open will mark his first competitive round since Sunday at the Masters. The last time he took that kind of break was two years ago, also at the U.S. Open. In the aftermath of his fathers death, he missed the cut in a major for the first and only time.
 
I just dont see how its going to have a negative effect on him, Mickelson said of the Woods injury.
 
Despite the injury, Woods was listed as a 5-2 favorite. Mickelson was next at 7-1. Well down the list was Immelman, at 33-1, even though hes coming off a second-place finish last week at the St. Jude Championship, where he lost in a playoff to Justin Leonard.
 
A longshot indeed. But hes been in this spot before.
 
The thing you take with you is that youve done it before, Immelman said. Thats always comforting, to know youve won on the biggest stage.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Open
  • Getty Images

    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

    Getty Images

    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

    Getty Images

    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

    Getty Images

    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.