Notes Down Under Aussie Caddie Smackdown

By Associated PressJune 15, 2008, 4:00 pm
2008 U.S. OpenSAN DIEGO -- Stuart Appleby was, uh, down under in a hurry in the third round of the U.S. Open.
 
The leader by one shot after 36 holes at Torrey Pines South Course, the Australian began to fall apart on the 37th hole. By the time he finished his bogey-strewn round of 8-over 79, he was an also-ran at 5-over 218. That was eight shots behind Tiger Woods, who had a 1-under 70 on a painful left knee to take the lead at 3-under 210.
 
The final damage for Appleby: seven bogeys and one double bogey. His only birdie came way, way too late, on the 18th.
 
Teeing off with Rocco Mediate in the final group, Appleby set the tone for his awful afternoon by making bogey from the bunker on the first hole by missing a 5-foot putt.
 
This is the first Open played on a city-owned course, and at the worst possible time Appleby looked like a muni-course player.
 
He four-putted No. 5 for his double bogey. On No. 9, he turned a three-foot birdie chance into a three-putt bogey.
 
After rolling in a 10-foot birdie putt on 18, he raised his arms'yes, he can make one, and yes, it was finally over. He had 34 putts, tied for 68th in the 80-man field.
 
A day earlier on 18, Appleby sank a 45-foot birdie putt to take his first lead in a major since he was one shot ahead of Woods going into the final round of the 2007 Masters.
 
He and Woods played together that day at Augusta. Woods finished second to Zach Johnson while Appleby made a 6 on the first hole, trudged through a cold, windy day and wound up shooting 75 to finish seventh.
 
SURGING SERGIO
Imagine where Sergio Garcia would be if he hadnt made such a mess of his first seven holes at the U.S. Open.
 
The tournament had barely started Thursday and Garcia already was in danger of missing the cut. Two double bogeys put him 6 over before hed even made his first turn.
 
Sergio has been surging ever since, going 3 under on his last 47 holes, including consecutive rounds of 1-under 70 on Friday and Saturday at Torrey Pines South Course.
 
Garcia was tied with Mike Weir, Ernie Els and John Merrick at 3-over 216 going into Sundays final round. That was six shots behind Tiger Woods, who had a 70 on a sore left knee Saturday to take the lead at 3-under 210. A lot of ground to make up, for sure, especially considering Woods has never lost a major from the lead.
 
Recovering from his early mistakes has been nice. Garcia wishes theyd never happened.
 
That definitely wasnt the plan, I can tell you that, said the Spaniard, who just flat-out missed fairways and greens in his first seven holes. But, yeah, you know, when youre comfortable with your game, when you have confidence in your game, you know you can come back.
 
Garcias only bogeys Saturday were on Nos. 6 and 8, sandwiched around the first of three birdies.
 
I would love to be a couple better, just to make sure that I was a little closer, he said. But, you know, every time you shoot under par here you shouldnt be too greedy, I guess. So its not too bad, and thats what I did the last few days. Unfortunately I just had a bad start on Thursday. But Im slowly coming back.
 
Garcia had a nice birdie on the par-5 13th, the hole where Phil Mickelson imploded with a quadruple-bogey 9 and Woods wowed the crowd with an eagle.
 
Garcia hit a strong drive just down the right side of the fairway, a 5-iron that landed short of the pin and ran about 25 feet beyond, then two-putted for birdie.
 
Its getting there, Garcia said. Like I said, I played very nicely yesterday. I felt very, very good yesterday. Today I felt like I hit a lot of good shots, maybe not as many as yesterday, but its not easy. Its a U.S. Open. Thats why its a major. But Im pretty happy and looking forward to hopefully having a good finish tomorrow.
 
THERES ALWAYS NEXT YEAR
San Diego native Phil Mickelson looked like hed just seen a ghost when he walked off Torrey Pines South Course on Saturday, his 5-over 76 having dropped him to 9-over 222.
 
Yeah, his quadruple-bogey 9 on the 13th hole was supernatural, all right, something he hadnt done at city-owned Torrey Pines since he was kid.
 
He had waited six years to play for the national championship on a course he had grown up playing, and now the chance to win it was gone.
 
After cooling down for about 15 minutes, that sly Mickelson grin had partially returned.
 
I think its an exciting Open, Lefty said. Im certainly disappointed that Im not in the mix right now. That was the goal. So Im going to come out tomorrow, enjoy my final round. And Bethpage is one of the best places ever' one of the best memories in the game of golf Ive ever had. I get to go back there next year for the U.S. Open. So Im excited about the chance to try to break through and win my first U.S. Open there.
 
In 2002, Mickelson finished second to Tiger Woods at Bethpage Black, which is owned by the state of New York and became the first truly public course to host an Open. Torrey Pines is the second.
 
CADDIE SMACKDOWN
The USGA decided there was no need to beef up security around the Phil Mickelson-Adam Scott pairing Saturday, one day after Scotts caddie went into the gallery to confront a heckler at the U.S. Open.
 
That group has had extra security the whole time as it is, said Dan Hoban, the USGAs director of security. We have 50,000 people and we just had two drunks that got out of control. As far as were concerned, its over.
 
It might not be over for caddie Tony Navarro, who could face disciplinary action for leaving the field of play and striking a fan.
 
On the final hole of play for the threesome of Tiger Woods, Mickelson and Scott on Friday, two fans, a father and a son, were arrested by San Diego police for investigation of public intoxication. Thomas W. Campbell, 62, of Upland, Calif., and Thomas J. Campbell, 37, of Apple Valley, Calif., spent the night in detox, Hoban said.
 
After hearing a fan verbally abuse him and his golfer, Scotts caddie went under the ropes that separate the fans from the field of play on the ninth hole and head-butted the younger Campbell, according to witnesses. The two wrestled to the ground and Mickelsons caddie, Jim Mackay, went through the ropes to assist Navarro and summon police.
 
The Campbells were handcuffed and taken away, and the 7-year-old son of the younger Campbell was placed in the care of an aunt, Hoban said.
 
BIG BOAT
America, the 139-foot replica of the schooner that gave the Americas Cup its name, was sailing on the Pacific Ocean just off Torrey Pines on Saturday, flying a giant American flag from its mainmast. Operated by businessman Troy Sears, America is berthed at a downtown marina on San Diego Bay.
 
The U.S. Open is the first major played in San Diego. The city has previously been host to three Super Bowls, the Americas Cup three times, two World Series and one Final Four.
 
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    Tiger's checklist: How he can contend at Augusta

    By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 8:31 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Augusta is already on the minds of most players here at the Honda Classic, and that includes the only one in the field with four green jackets.

    Yes, Tiger Woods has been talking about the Masters ever since he started this latest comeback at Torrey Pines. These three months are all about trying to build momentum for the year’s first major.

    Woods hasn’t revealed his schedule past this week, but his options are limited. He’s a good bet to play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he has won eight times, but adding another start would be a departure from the norm. He’s not eligible for the two World Golf Championship events, in Mexico and Austin, and he has never played the Valspar Championship or the Houston Open.

    So there’s a greater sense of urgency this week at PGA National, which is realistically one of his final tune-ups.

    How will Woods know if he’s ready to contend at Augusta? Here’s his pre-Masters checklist:

    1. Stay healthy

    So far, so good, as Woods tries to resume a normal playing schedule following four back surgeries since 2014. Though he vowed to learn from his past mistakes and not push himself, it was a promising sign that Woods felt strong enough to sign up for the Honda, the second of back-to-back starts on separate coasts.

    Another reason for optimism on the health front: The soreness that Woods felt after his season opener at Torrey Pines wasn’t related to his surgically repaired back. No, what ached most were his feet – he wasn’t used to walking 72 holes on hilly terrain.

    Woods is stiffer than normal, but that’s to be expected. His back is fused.

    2. Figure out his driver

    Augusta National is more forgiving off the tee than most major courses, putting more of a premium on approach shots and recoveries.


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    That’s good news for Woods, who has yet to find a reliable tee shot. Clearly, he is most comfortable playing a fade and wants to take the left side of the course out of play, but in competition he’s been plagued by a two-way miss.

    In two starts this year, Woods has hit only 36 percent of the fairways, no matter if he was using driver, fairway wood or long iron.

    Unfortunately, Woods is unlikely to gain any significant insight into his driver play this week. PGA National’s Champion Course isn’t overly long, but there is water on 15 of the 18 holes. As a result, he said he likely will hit driver only four times a round, maybe five, and otherwise rely on his 3-wood and 2-iron. 

    Said Rory McIlroy: “Being conservative off the tee is something that you have to do here to play well.”

    That won’t be the case at Augusta.

    3. Clean up his iron play

    As wayward as Woods has been off the tee, his iron play hasn’t impressed, either.

    At Riviera, he hit only 16 greens in regulation – his fewest in a Tour event as a professional. Of course, Woods’ chances of hitting the green are reduced when he’s playing from the thick rough, sand and trees, but he also misfired on six of the eight par 3s.

    Even when Woods does find the green, he’s not close enough to the hole. Had he played enough rounds to qualify, his proximity to the hole (39 feet, 7 inches) would rank 161st on Tour.

    That won’t be good enough at Augusta, where distance control and precision are paramount.

    Perhaps that’s why Justin Thomas said last week what many of us were thinking: “I would say he’s a pretty good ways away.”

    4. Get into contention somewhere

    As much as he would have liked to pick off a win on the West Coast, Woods said that it’s not a prerequisite to have a chance at the Masters. He cited 2010, when he tied for fourth despite taking four months off after the fallout from his scandal.

    In reality, though, there hasn’t been an out-of-nowhere Masters champion since Charl Schwartzel in 2011. Since then, every player who eventually donned the green jacket either already had a win that year or at least a top-3 finish worldwide.

    “I would like to play well,” Woods said. “I would like to win golf tournaments leading into it. The years I’ve won there, I’ve played really well early.”

    Indeed, he had at least one win in all of the years he went on to win the Masters (1997, 2000, ’01, ’05). Throw in the fact that Woods is nearly five years removed from his last Tour title, and it’s reasonable to believe that he at least needs to get himself into contention before he can seriously entertain winning another major.

    And so that’s why he’s here at the Honda, trying to find his game with seven weeks to go. 

    “It’s tournament reps,” he said, “and I need tournament reps.”

    Add that to the rest of his pre-Masters checklist.

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    Players winner to get 3-year exemption into PGA

    By Rex HoggardFebruary 21, 2018, 8:01 pm

    Although The Players isn’t golf’s fifth major, it received a boost in that direction this week.

    The PGA of America has adjusted its criteria for eligibility into the PGA Championship, extending an exemption for the winner of The Players to three years.

    According to an official with the PGA of America, the association felt the winner of The Players deserved more than a single-year exemption, which had been the case, and the move is consistent with how the PGA Tour’s annual flagship event is treated by the other majors.

    Winners of The Players were already exempt for three years into the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship.

    The change will begin with this year’s PGA Championship.

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    Thomas: Playing in front of Tiger even more chaotic

    By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:52 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas may be going from the frying pan to the fire of Tiger Woods’ pairings.

    Translation: He’s going from being grouped with Woods last week in the first two rounds at the Genesis Open to being grouped directly in front of Woods this week at the Honda Classic.

    “Which might be even worse than playing with him,” Thomas said Wednesday.

    Typically, the pairing in front of Woods deals with a lot of gallery movement, with fans racing ahead to get in position to see Woods’ next shot.

    Thomas was quoted after two rounds with Tiger at Riviera saying fans “got a little out of hand,” and saying it’s disappointing some golf fans today think it’s “so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we’re trying to hit shots.”

    With 200,000 fans expected this week at the Honda Classic, and with the Goslings Bear Trap pavilion setting a party mood at the 16th green and 17th tee, that portion of the course figures to be quite lively at PGA National.


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    Thomas was asked about that.

    “I touched on this a little bit last week,” Thomas said. “I think it got blown out of proportion, was just taken out of context, and worded differently than how I said it or meant it.

    “I love the fans. The fans are what I hope to have a lot of, what all of us hope to have a lot of. We want them cheering us on. But it's those certain fans that are choosing to yell at the wrong times, or just saying stuff that's completely inappropriate.”

    Thomas said it’s more than ill-timed shouts. It’s the nature of some things being said.

    “It's one thing if it's just you and I talking, but when you're around kids, when you're around women, when you're around families, or just around people in general, some of the stuff they are saying to us is just extremely inappropriate,” he said. “There’s really no place for it anywhere, especially on a golf course.

    “I feel like golf is pretty well known as a classy sport, not that other sports aren't, but it has that reputation.”

    Thomas said the nature of the 17th hole at PGA National’s Champion Course makes it a more difficult tee shot than the raucous 16th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Typically, players like to hear fans get into the action before or after they hit shots. Ill-timed bluster, however, makes a shot like the one at Honda’s 17th even tougher.

    “That hole is hard enough,” Thomas said. “I don't need someone yelling in my ear on my backswing that I'm going to hit it in the water, to make it any harder. I hope it gets better, just for the sake of the game. That's not helping anything. That's not helping grow the game.”

    Those who follow golf know an ill-timed shout in a player’s backswing is different than anything a fan says at a football, basketball or baseball game. An ill-timed comment in a backswing has a greater effect on the outcome of a competition.

    “Just in terms of how much money we're playing for, how many points we're playing for ... this is our jobs out here, and you hate to somehow see something that a fan does, or something that they yell, influence something that affects [a player’s] job,” Thomas said.

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    Rory: Phil said RC task force just copied Europe

    By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:21 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two weeks ago, Rory McIlroy quizzed Phil Mickelson about what the Americans got out of the U.S. Ryder Cup task force’s overhaul.

    McIlroy and Mickelson were paired together at Pebble Beach.

    “Basically, all they are doing is copying what the Europeans have done,” McIlroy said.  “That's what he said.”

    The Europeans claimed their sixth of seven Ryder Cups with their victory at Gleneagles in 2014. That brought about a sea change in the way the United States approached the Ryder Cup. Mickelson called out the tactics in Gleneagles of captain Tom Watson, who was outmaneuvered by European captain Paul McGinley.


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    The Americans defeated Europe at Hazeltine two years ago with that new European model.

    “He said the first thing they did in that task force was Phil played a video, a 12-minute video of Paul McGinley to all of them,” McIlroy said. “So, they are copying what we do, and it's working for them. It's more cohesive, and the team and the core of that team are more in control of what they are doing, instead of the PGA of America recruiting and someone telling them what to do.”