Notes Jacks Lesson Lorena Punished

By Associated PressMay 20, 2008, 4:00 pm
It didnt take long for Ryuji Imada to realize some of the perks from winning the AT&T Classic outside Atlanta, chief among them a return trip to Georgia next April for the Masters.
Little did he know that his victory also sewed up a spot in the U.S. Open and the British Open.
This is a big week for a dozen or so players who are not already exempt from qualifying for golfs two oldest championships. The U.S. Open and British Open will take the top 50 in the world ranking after this week, and some exemptions are available through money lists.
Imada is at No. 49, but hell get his free pass to both Opens through the money list.
The top 10 on the PGA TOUR money list through Colonial are exempt to the U.S. Open, and Imada is a lock at No. 4. The British Open takes the top three players not already exempt among the top 20 on the money list through Colonial. Imada is mathematically assured of that spot, too, because most of the players around him on the money list will easily make it off the world ranking.
Two guys with the most to gain at Colonial are Jeff Quinney and Bart Bryant.
Quinney is at No. 52 in the world and No. 14 in the money list, so good play will take care of either one. Hell need to finish in the top 10 to have any chance of being exempt for the U.S. Open.
Bryant is No. 51 in the world and No. 19 on the money list, and his better chance is to crack the top 50 in the world ranking. He likely will need to finish in the top 15. Others on the bubble through the world ranking include Nick OHern (No. 55), John Senden (No. 57) and Chad Campbell (No. 58).
The U.S. Open also takes the top 10 from the Order of Merit on the European Tour, and that could turn out to be an interesting battle. Damien McGrane is holding down the 10th spot by $1,669 over Oliver Wilson.
As for the British Open, the top three players on the U.S. money list not already exempt are Imada, Quinney and Bryant, with Sean OHair about $25,000 behind Bryant. All of them are at Colonial this week.

Muirfield Village has been host of the Memorial near the end of May every year since 1976. After the tournament was over, it once became somewhat of a laboratory where four-time champion Jack Nicklaus prepared for the U.S. Open.
Nicklaus recalled how he would practice out of thick rough and on firm greens to get ready for conditions that players saw only once a year. He also talked about how he worked on his driving.
I used to go back to Muirfield and stand on the 14th tee, the ladies tee, and try to drive the ball on the green, Nicklaus said. Its about a 14- or 15-yard fairway coming into the green with water on the right. And I practiced that all the time. Its a little left-to-right tee shot. It prepared me for the U.S. Open.
A few players now try to drive the 14th green from the championship tees, such as Bubba Watson, but Nicklaus said he had no intention of moving the tees forward for the Memorial.
Theyll drive it, anyway, he said. Oddly enough, Ive made three 2s in competition'a pro-am with Gerald Ford and two other events.
By driving the green?
No, I holed out from the fairway, Nicklaus said.

PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem headed for London this week, stopping along the way to pick up USGA executive director David Fay and LPGA Tour commissioner Carolyn Bivens.
They were to join R&A chief executive Peter Dawson and European Tour chief George OGrady at a meeting with the International Olympic Committee, the first step toward bringing golf back to the Olympics.
It was not a formal meeting, but no less important to show the IOC a unified front in golfs desire to be part of the games.
This will be a protracted process, Fay said. But this is an important first step.
A decision is not expected until next fall.

Ben Crane had to withdraw from the AT&T Classic before it began, an insignificant development except that it could affect the travel plans and bank account of Ryuji Imada later this summer.
Crane was at No. 99 in the world ranking last week, meaning his presence was worth two points toward the strength of field. When he did not start the tournament, that dropped the AT&T Classic to 113 points. That number is meaningful because tournaments must have a field strength of at least 115 points for its winner to be eligible for the $8 million Bridgestone Invitational.
The World Golf Championship also takes the top 50 in the world ranking, and Imada moved up to No. 49 with his victory on the TPC Sugarloaf. He can qualify for his first trip to Firestone if he stays in the top 50 through July.
Meantime, Richard Finch won the Irish Open by two shots over Felipe Aguilar of Chile and earned a spot at Firestone, as the European Tour event had a stronger field, according to the world ranking. Finch moved up 84 places to No. 134 in the world.

Lorena Ochoa earned $300,000 for her sixth victory of the year at the Sybase Classic, which should help her pay a $25,000 fine for skipping the Corning Classic this week.
The LPGA Tour has a 1-in-4 rule, meaning players must compete in every full-field event on the schedule at least once every four years. Ochoa has not played Corning since 2004, when she tied for 19th.
The Mexican star felt she had no choice. She is defending champion at eight tournaments this year, the LPGA Tour added another tournament in Mexico and Corning is right before a buildup into the majors.

Augusta National is giving $3.4 million to charities this year, and the clubs employees had a small role deciding where some of the donations were directed.
Under a new program, each employee was allowed to designate $1,000 to the charity of their choice as part of the $1.25 million Augusta National donated to The Community Foundation for the CSRA.
Our employees are an integral part of this organization and they are committed to this community, Masters chairman Billy Payne said. This new initiative recognizes their hard work and dedication, and Im certain the money will be donated wisely.

Lorena Ochoa, Annika Sorenstam and Paula Creamer have combined to win 11 of 12 tournaments on the LPGA Tour this year. The exception was Louise Friberg, who won the MasterCard Classic in Mexico.

I have lived the life I always wanted to, working for a newspaper I always wanted to, going to lovely places around the world, populated in the main by people I would have chosen to be with. Surely, no journalist could ask for more.'Dai Davies, former golf correspondent of The Guardian, who died Monday.

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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.”