Notes: Fighting Irish win TV battle; Saturday BMW times moved up

By Associated PressSeptember 17, 2011, 12:26 am

LEMONT, Ill. – Add pro golfers to the list of folks annoyed with Notre Dame these days.

NBC Sports wants the third round of the BMW Championship to be finished before the 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff for Notre Dame’s game against Michigan State, so tee times Saturday will be about three hours earlier than they were for the first two rounds. The first group will tee off at 8:25 a.m., with the leaders going off at 10:15 a.m.

“Thanks Notre Dame for my 7.35am tee time. I knew there was a reason why I didn’t like you!” Luke Donald, the world’s No. 1 player, said Friday on Twitter.

The conflict is nothing new, however.

NBC has broadcast Notre Dame home games since 1991 and also has the rights to the final three FedEx Cup playoff events – all of which occur after the start of the college football season. Saturday tee times were pushed up at last year’s BMW, and again at The Tour Championship.

“A bunch of kids ruling the show? What’s going on?” co-leader Justin Rose said when asked about it Friday.

“You know, that’s one of the amazing things I find about this country, really, is how big college sports are and how big the college system is,” said Rose, who is from England. “It’s something I’ve never experienced, but it’s fascinating to see how big these games are and the attendance it gets and the TV ratings.”

This will be the only week tee times are moved this year. Notre Dame was on the road last week, and plays at Pittsburgh next weekend.

NO COMPLAINTS: Whether he makes it to next weekend’s Tour Championship or not, Brandt Jobe has no complaints about his year.

Not after how the last few years have gone.

Jobe broke a bone in his left wrist in 2003 and again the next year, and still can’t feel his pinky finger as a result. He cut off the tips of his fingers while sweeping out his garage in 2006, and lost his PGA Tour card in 2009. He spent last year playing the Nationwide Tour before earning his way back onto the PGA circuit by tying for sixth at qualifying school.

“I had some opportunities to make this a great year, but I’m playing in the third leg of the playoffs,” Jobe said Friday at the BMW Championship. “I remember where I was and think, `It could be a lot worse. I could not be here.”’

Not only is Jobe still in the hunt for a spot at East Lake, he tied Brendon De Jonge for low round of the day Friday with a bogey-free 64. Jobe is at 3 under for the tournament.

“Yesterday it seemed like I wasn’t ever prepared for what I was doing,” said Jobe, who shot a 4-over 75 on Thursday. “I didn’t hit it bad, but I didn’t hit it good. I put myself in a lot of places where I didn’t recover and then I didn’t putt well.”

That’s been his problem for much of the second half of the season. Jobe had three top-10 finishes through June, including a tie for second at The Memorial that matched his career-best finish.

Since then, however, he’s cracked the top 25 only once and has missed two cuts.

“I haven’t managed my game well,” Jobe said.

But he worked on a few things at the range Thursday night, and everything fell in place Friday. He was playing so well, in fact, he had a shot at the course record of 62 after back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15. But he played his final three holes at even par, just missing a birdie at 18 when his sand shot rolled about a foot past the cup.

“Everything went well today,” Jobe said. “Just a very nice, solid round of golf.”

BRRR!: Bill Haas is expecting a word from his sponsors.

Haas was so unprepared for the chilly temperatures at the BMW Championships – the high Friday was just 59 degrees – he had to go buy sweaters. The off-the-rack wear may be keeping him warm, but it’s doing nothing for his sponsors.

“I’m actually wearing sweaters that don’t have any logos on them,” Haas said. “I did not pack accordingly. I was not expecting this. My sponsor is probably not too happy with me.”

CUT!: Steve Stricker’s withdrawal ends what had been the longest streak of cuts made on the PGA Tour at 40.

Though there is no actual cut at the BMW Championship, the streak ends because Stricker will not finish in the money at Cog Hill. He’s already qualified for next weekend’s Tour Championship and plans to play.

Masters champion Charl Schwartzel now owns the longest streak of cuts made with 18.

DIVOTS: Brandt Jobe (64) and Robert Allenby (67) were the only players to not make a bogey Friday.

Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

Piller declined an interview request when sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

“I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

And that’s a magic word in golf.

There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.

Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery

A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

“The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

“It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

Parity was the story this year.

Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

“I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.

Love's hip surgery a success; eyes Florida swing return

By Rex HoggardNovember 22, 2017, 3:31 pm

Within hours of having hip replacement surgery on Tuesday Davis Love III was back doing what he does best – keeping busy.

“I’ve been up and walking, cheated in the night and stood up by the bed, but I’m cruising around my room,” he laughed early Wednesday from Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala., where he underwent surgery to replace his left hip. “[Dr. James Flanagan, who performed the surgery] wants me up. They don’t want me sitting for more than an hour.”

Love, 53, planned to begin more intensive therapy and rehabilitation on Wednesday and is scheduled to be released from the hospital later this afternoon.

According to Love’s doctors, there were no complications during the surgery and his recovery time is estimated around three to four months.

Love, who was initially hesitant to have the surgery, said he can start putting almost immediately and should be able to start hitting wedges in a few weeks.

Dr. Tom Boers – a physical therapist at the Hughston Orthopedic Clinic in Columbus, Ga., who has treated Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman and Brad Faxon – will oversee Love’s recovery and ultimately decide when he’s ready to resume normal golf activity.

“He understands motion and gait and swing speeds that people really don’t understand. He’s had all of us in there studying us,” Love said. “So we’ll see him in a couple of weeks and slowly get into the swing part of it.”

Although Love said he plans to temper his expectations for this most recent recovery, his goal is to be ready to play by the Florida swing next March.

Vegas lists Woods at 20-1 to win a major in 2018

By Will GrayNovember 22, 2017, 12:53 pm

He hasn't hit a competitive shot in nearly a year, but that hasn't stopped one Las Vegas outlet from listing Tiger Woods among the favorites to win a major in 2018.

The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook published betting odds this week on dozens of players to win any of the four majors next year. Leading the pack were Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth at 3/2, with Rory McIlroy next. But not far behind was Woods, who has been sidelined since February because of a back injury but was listed at 20/1.

Woods will make his much-anticipated return next week at the Hero World Challenge, and next month he will turn 42. Next summer will mark the 10-year anniversary of his last major championship victory, a sudden-death playoff win over Rocco Mediate at the 2008 U.S. Open.

Here's a look at the odds for several marquee players on winning any of the four biggest events in golf next year:

3/2: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth

5/2: Rory McIlroy

7/2: Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day

9/2: Justin Rose

5/1: Brooks Koepka

15/2: Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey

10/1: Adam Scott

12/1: Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Marc Leishman, Thomas Pieters, Patrick Reed

15/1: Daniel Berger, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Patrick Cantlay, Branden Grace, Kevin Kisner, Alex Noren, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson

20/1: Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Tony Finau, Martin Kaymer

25/1: Ryan Moore, Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson, Lee Westwood, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Chappell, Bryson DeChambeau, Bill Haas, Jason Dufner, Charley Hoffman

30/1: Pat Perez, Gary Woodland, Bernd Wiesberger, Brian Harman, Padraig Harrington, Emiliano Grillo, Ross Fisher, Si Woo Kim, J.B. Holmes