Notes Brett Meet Tiger Caddie Gate

By Associated PressAugust 22, 2006, 4:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)AKRON, Ohio -- Brett Wetterich will be on the plane Sunday night to Ireland with the rest of the Ryder Cup team, but first he has to take care of some business.
 
Like meeting Tiger Woods for the first time.

And perhaps getting some pointers on match play.
 
None of the Americans on this team are more unknown than Wetterich, who might be the first player to go from Q-school to making the Ryder Cup team in the same year.
 
'Thank God for the new points system,' he said Tuesday at the Bridgestone Invitational. 'I didn't have many points last year. I had a great year, and it worked out good for me.'
 
Know this about Wetterich -- he can hit it a mile and make birdies.
 
Wetterich is fourth on the PGA Tour in driving distance at 308.2 yards, and has decent accuracy for such power. Perhaps more importantly, he is third in making birdies, which should come in handy at The K Club.
 
The new points system emphasized this year's performance, and Wetterich earned his spot. He was fourth in New Orleans, won the Byron Nelson Championship and tied for second at Memorial.
 
He was 10th in the standings going to the PGA Championship, but two quadruple bogeys knocked him from the top of the leaderboard to a 76 in the first round, and he missed the cut. Wetterich spent Sunday watching the final round, paying close attention to Tim Herron, Steve Stricker and Davis Love III, the only players who had a remote chance of catching him.
 
'I was a little nervous,' he said. 'But there's nothing you can do. I played bad and I didn't do my part, so it wasn't up to me what was going to happen.'
 
Wetterich says he has never met Woods, the No. 1 player in the world, although he has passed by him in the locker room. It was surprising that he never played match play, even in the U.S. Junior Amateur or U.S. Amateur.
 
'Nope,' he said. 'I never qualified for match play. But I think I'll be good at it. I'll have some bad holes, but I usually make my share of birdies.'
 
Told that American teammate Vaughn Taylor also has not experienced match play, Wetterich smiled.
 
'I like Vaughn,' he said.
 
CADDIEGATE
Michelle Wie fired her caddie despite have a chance to win three LPGA majors on the 18th hole.
 
Perhaps more surprising is Lorena Ochoa dumping her caddie while leading the LPGA Tour money list.
 
Golfweek magazine reported that Ochoa fired Lance Bennett after the Mexican star finished second to Sorenstam in Sweden. Ochoa now is No. 2 on the money list, a mere $1,017 behind Karrie Webb.
 
'I'm disappointed it ended the way it did because of all the success we've shared this year,' Bennett told the magazine. 'This is the last thing I ever believed would have happened. But hey, she has to do what she feels is best for her.'
 
CONFIDENCE BOOST
Scott Verplank became the first captain's pick to have never played in a Ryder Cup in 2001. Two weeks later, he won the Canadian Open at Royal Montreal.
 
Stewart Cink was a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup in 2004, then won the next week at Firestone.
 
Is it merely a coincidence?
 
'No,' Verplank said. 'It's such an honor, and it's such a huge vote of confidence to be picked by a guy who's running the team. There's a lot of choices, and to be singled out ... that's a pretty ringing endorsement.'
 
WELCOME BACK
Corey Pavin was last at Firestone in 1996 after winning the Colonial.
 
He returned this week having won the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee, and so much has changed. It's now called the Bridgestone Invitational, a World Golf Championship event worth $7.5 million that pays $1.3 million to the winner and $30,250 for last place.
 
Pavin earned $60,900 when he finished ninth 10 years ago.
 
And then there's the course, one of the longest on tour 10 years ago at 7,149 yards. Now it measures 7,360 yards.
 
'They've taken a wealth of trees out of the golf course and they've added some length,' Pavin said. 'I'm not sure when they did that. It could have been eight years ago. It's as good as I can remember this course ever being.'
 
MAJOR PERFORMANCE
No one finished in the top 10 at all four majors this year. In fact, there were only 10 players who even made the cut in all four majors.
 
Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk were the only Americans to cash a check in every Grand Slam event. Tiger Woods won two majors and tied for third at the Masters, but he missed the cut at the U.S. Open.
 
The other eight players to make every cut in a major were U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, Jose Maria Olazabal, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Mike Weir, Robert Allenby, Adam Scott, Luke Donald and Ernie Els.
 
COMPUTER GAMES
The PGA Tour allows a computer to crank out the pairings each week, but it sure didn't look very random at the International. With two events remaining to qualify for the Ryder Cup team, 10 of the top 20 players in the standings were either paired together or with captain Tom Lehman.
 
Phil Mickelson played with Lucas Glover and Davis Love III; J.J. Henry was in the same group as David Toms. John Rollins, 11th in the standings, somehow wound up with Lehman.
 
The PGA Tour tournament director that week, Slugger White, says it was truly a coincidence.
 
'The computer doesn't know the difference between the Ryder Cup and a coffee cup,' White said Tuesday. 'It was untouched by human hands, I promise you.'
 
DIVOTS
Nine players on the U.S. Ryder Cup team once played on the Nationwide Tour, the exceptions being Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Scott Verplank ... The Byron Nelson Championship raised $6.33 million for charity, the fifth time that The Salesmanship Club Charitable Golf of Dallas (which runs the tournament) has crossed the $6 million mark. ... Comedian George Lopez will be celebrity host of the Bob Hope Classic. ... Woods' victory at Medinah gave him five this year on the PGA Tour, the seventh time he has won at least five. Sam Snead holds the record with eight years of at least five victories.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
In winning his last three tournaments, Tiger Woods ranked No. 1 in driving accuracy at the British Open, driving distance at the Buick Open and greens in regulation at the PGA Championship.
 
FINAL WORD
'He's done so much winning and he's won so many different ways, there isn't any situation that catches him off guard.' -- Hank Haney, the swing coach for Tiger Woods.

Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


FALLING

J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

"The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

BORN IN 1912

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.


BORN IN 1949

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.


BORN IN 1955

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1956-57

Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


EUROPE'S BIG 5

Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1969-70

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.


BORN IN 1980

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.