Lessons from the West Coast Swing

By Associated PressFebruary 27, 2007, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)MARANA, Ariz. -- Two months into the eason, Tiger Woods has played only seven rounds on the PGA TOUR.
The West Coast Swing usually doesn't set any trends, and it is hard to find any this year. There were nine tournaments and nine winners, the third time in the last four years that has happened. Ages of the winners ranged from 25 (Aaron Baddeley) to 50 (Fred Funk). Woods won for the 12th straight season, while Paul Goydos won for the first time in 12 years.
From the shores of Hawaii to the high desert of Arizona, there were some topics worth one last visit before the PGA TOUR heads across the country on the Florida Swing.
Tiger Time:
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods extended his PGA TOUR winning streak to seven with his Buick Invit. win. (WireImage)
Woods' three tee times at the Accenture Match Play Championship began at 12:02 p.m., noon and noon. Live television coverage those three days also began at noon.
What a coincidence.
Television can't get enough of Woods, because he hasn't been around that much. The two tournaments were the fewest he has played on the West Coast Swing since his first full season in 1997, but the bigger question is whether this trend continues. He skipped Riviera for the second time in his career, and the Mercedes-Benz Championship for the second year in a row.
Pebble Beach has not been part of his schedule since 2002, although that might change with the 2010 U.S. Open approaching.
The best guess is that Woods will play 16 or 17 times on the PGA TOUR this year. That depends on when his first child is born (expected early July) and if he starts the FedExCup finale in New York or waits until the second 'playoff' event outside Boston.
Whether he should play more is an endless debate. At this point in his career, Jack Nicklaus was playing 18 times on the PGA TOUR and trying to peak for the majors.
Singh's Song:
Despite winning the season-opener at Kapalua, questions remain whether Vijay Singh's best days are behind him.
He has played seven out of eight weeks on the West Coast with only one other finish in the top 10 -- he closed with a 64 to tie for seventh. Singh nearly missed the cut in Honolulu and San Diego, and he was beaten in the second round of Match Play.
Singh is No. 9 in the world ranking, and barring a turnaround, could be out of the top 10 for the first time in 10 years.
Best Back-To-Back Stops in Golf:
One complaint often heard from players is that the PGA TOUR doesn't always go to the best course in town. Lips are zipped for two weeks in February.
Are there better back-to-back courses on any tour than Pebble Beach and Riviera? Also worthy of consideration is St. Andrews and Wentworth in September on the European Tour.
Life Without Tiger:
There were seven examples of that during the West Coast Swing, and it became a hot topic when Jack Vickers closed up shop at his International tournament outside Denver because he couldn't get Woods.
But the Nissan Open was the best example of what the PGA TOUR would look like had Woods chosen another line of work. Riviera had 11 of the top 13 players in the world ranking, minus Woods and Henrik Stenson.
The Sunday leaderboard featured Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Charles Howell III, Padraig Harrington, Jim Furyk and Sergio Garcia. Mickelson bogeyed the 18th hole to slip into a playoff, which Howell won on the third extra hole.
The overnight rating was 3.4, which was up from 2.6 the previous year when Woods withdrew on the weekend with the flu. The course and weather was magnificent. The story lines were plentiful.
There would been a bigger buzz and higher ratings had Woods been part of the mix. Without him, it was still good stuff.
Life With Lefty:
Say this for Phil Mickelson -- he makes it hard to ignore him.
One week he was practically flawless in winning Pebble Beach, the next week he bogeyed the 18th hole at Riviera and lost in a playoff. Mickelson wound up playing six consecutive weeks on the West Coast with mixed success, and plenty of speculation.
Similar to Woods, the real measure for him will be in the majors.
The first test is not for another six weeks at the Masters, where the winner gets a green jacket, a silver trophy of the Augusta National clubhouse, and a lifetime exemption.
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  • Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

    Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

    By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

    Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

    Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

    Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

    “Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

    Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

    “When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

    Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

    “Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

    In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

    “Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

    Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

    “The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

    Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

    “Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

    Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

    Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

    LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

    Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

    Christina Kim:

    LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

    LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

    LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

    LPGA pro Jennie Lee: