Muscling In on Golf

By Associated PressApril 9, 2008, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Hang around long enough under the big oak tree that shades the clubhouse lawn and chances are good youll hear old-timers reminiscing about the days when every blade of grass was mowed, everyone except Gary Player and Arnold Palmer had a belly, and lighting up Augusta National meant pulling out a carton of Winstons, not shooting a low score.
As hard as it might be to imagine now, there apparently was a time when players shaped their shots instead of their abs, and the idea of performance enhancement was cutting back the number of whiskey sours the night before.
Bulging muscles under a green jacket? About as much chance of finding that as a black golfer on the first tee.
Phil Mickelson would have fit in with the old school crowd. Give him a few Krispy Kremes and a good piece of persimmon and he might have had a bridge on the back nine named after him by now.
Until this Masters, that is. A new Phil showed up at Augusta National this week towing less subcutaneous fat than usual and pronouncing himself in great shape to win his third green jacket.
Ive worked out, yeah, Mickelson said, puffing his chest out and pulling his belly in just a bit. Worked out a little bit.
Miguel Angel Jimenez apparently didnt get the memo. He stood on the ninth tee Wednesday with a gut hanging out in front of him, puffing away on a fat cigar he discarded only long enough to hit his tee shot.
The Spaniard might have been a throwback to another era, assuming, that is, that players of another era wore earrings and had ponytails tied behind their hats.
They didnt, but most didnt look much like athletes, either. Player may have prided himself on doing hundreds of push-ups, but there were 10 guys shaped like Julius Boros for every one who looked like he might have tossed the old medicine ball around in the gym.
Thats not to say they didnt try. Billy Casper went on to win a Masters after he turned to buffalo meat to lose excess pounds, and Jack Nicklaus made a miraculous transformation from Fat Jack to the Golden Bear about the time he started collecting green jackets by the handful.
Which brings us to Tiger Woods, where every conversation about golf seems to end up these days. With good reason. He comes into this Masters as such a prohibitive favorite that bookies are taking even money bets on him against the entire field.
Unlike Casper, Woods never had a problem with weight, but his body seems to have undergone a metamorphosis of another kind in recent years. Once as thin as a 1-iron, his upper body now ripples with muscles Mickelson could only dream about, and his Popeye arms threaten to split open his short sleeves with every swing.
In his early years as a pro, Woods wore shirts so baggy that Charles Howell III once said he could make four outfits out of them. These days he looks as if each specially selected Nike original either started life two sizes too small or was accidentally put in the hot water wash.
If Woods was playing for the San Francisco Giants, the only logical conclusion would be that hes juiced. The U.S. Attorneys office would have long ago called him before a grand jury and tried to get him to not only confess, but rat out Mickelson as his supplier at the same time.
Such is the suspicion of our times, where even gentlemen golfers dont get a break. Woods doesnt help himself when he plays coy about his extensive workout program, but no one seriously thinks he is using anything stronger than his new Gatorade drink. Woods himself is one of the few players who have been publicly supportive of the tours effort to implement drug testing.
As for Augusta National, well, thats another issue. Theres little doubt the course is on steroids, from the telltale second cut of rough to the supersized par-4s that played so tough last year no one managed to break par over four rounds.
The changes made to the famed course were merely a response to the arms race in golf that escalated in recent years as clubs got bigger, balls flew straighter, and players got bulkier. Golf has become a power game, and theres no better example of that than at the Masters, where players now just take aim and blast the ball rather than work it around the course as in the past.
Put the top players in the game together today and they look more like middle linebackers than golfers. Mickelson, Woods, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and Padraig Harrington make Nicklaus in his prime look more like the Golden Cub.
None, though, are cut anything like Woods, who looks like he cant wait to get home to flex in front of the mirror. His transformation from a gangly and' lets face it, geeky'young player into the muscle-bound physical specimen he is today is just as startling as the way he has emerged as the greatest ever to play the game.
His late father, Earl, predicted as much in 2001 when he said that Woods would get exponentially better as he grew physically more mature. At the time, Woods was coming off the so-called Tiger Slam of four straight major championships and the statement seemed outlandish.
Not so anymore. Woods tees off Thursday in search of his fifth Masters win and with the very real possibility he could become the first since Bobby Jones to win the Grand Slam.
Hes always intimidated other players with his game.
Now he does it with his physique, too.
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    Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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    Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

    Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

    Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

    “I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

    “The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

    Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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    Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

    Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

    ''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

    It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    ''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

    Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

    ''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

    After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

    ''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

    He's making his first start in the event.

    ''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

    Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

    ''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

    Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

    ''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

    The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

    ''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

    Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

    ''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

    Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

    Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

    John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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    Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

    By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

    Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

    He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

    How rare is his missing the cut there?

    The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

    The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

    Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

    Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.