Notes Kim Loves Belt Buckles and OU Football

By Associated PressJuly 6, 2008, 4:00 pm
AT&T NationalBETHESDA, Md. -- There were all sorts of fun things to learn about Anthony Kim after he won the AT&T National. Whats with the new flashy belt buckle? And whats the real story behind his decision to attend the University of Oklahoma?
The belt buckle was unmistakable. Already known for wearing garish belt attire adorned with his initials, Kim donned a buckle featuring what appeared to be a diamonds embedded into the letters AK as he played Sundays round at Congressional.
It weighs a lot. It costs at lot, Kim said. Im glad I wore it today. I needed a big day.
Kim said the buckle arrived Wednesday from a clothing company that has him scheduled for a photo shoot on Monday. He wasnt even sure if the sparkling things were diamonds.
It looks like diamonds, and they are pretty upscale, Kim said. So I would be very surprised if it isnt.
As for his Oklahoma drill, Kim said he planned to go to a school closer to his California home and accepted a visit to OU just to get tickets to a football game.
But the Sooners atmosphere at kickoff won him over.
It started pouring rain, Kim said. And I thought everyone was going to leave because thats what I was used to back home. And everyone decided that they were going to take off their shirts and stay. There were people going wild, and I just loved the atmosphere. Thats why I chose OU, because of OU football.
Sure enough, that very, very long par 4 played key role in deciding the AT&T National.
The final groups made a hash of the 518-yard sixth hole in Sundays final round. The hole plays as a par 5 for members, but the PGA Tour decided to make it the third longest par 4 the pros have faced so far this year.
In the next-to-last group, Nick OHearn landed in the front bunker and made bogey. Tim Herron made the green in 2, but he was about 70 feet from the pin and 3-putted for bogey. Jeff Overton had to lay up after putting his drive in the left rough, but he saved par with a tough 20-foot uphill putt.
In the final group, Steve Stricker put his drive to the right and had to lay up. Tommy Armour III drove left and laid up. Tom Pernice Jr. put his approach in the water that hugs the front right of the green.
Stricker and Armour made bogey; Pernice got a double bogey. The results moved Kim'who was two groups ahead'into a three-way tie for the lead, on his way to victory.
Kim, by the way, played the hole well, putting his approach within 17 feet. But he missed the putt and parred the hole.
Perhaps the best moment of mock humor came when Cliff Kresge drove his tee shot into some unseemly left rough, about 10 yards off the fairway. He walked toward his ball and saw three marshals surrounding it.
Must have been a dandy, Kresge said, if it took three of you to find it.
Fredrik Jacobson barely missed qualifying for the British Open last Monday. He didnt realize he would get a second chance at the AT&T National.
Jacobson grabbed one of the final spots available for Royal Birkdale in two weeks with his second-place finish Sunday, shooting 65 to finish two strokes behind Kim.
I didnt know that there was one spot (available) this week, Jacobson said. I played 37 holes in the qualifier, ended up in the playoff and just missed out. Ive actually been pretty tired all week after that one.
Another fatigued qualifier is Rocco Mediate, who finished tied for 18th while attracting some of the weekends largest galleries from fans impressed by his runner-up performance at the U.S. Open.
The last two weeks, theres no way I would have performed like that without (the fans), Mediate said immediately after his closing round of 66. I was on fumes, and I cant wait for this week off. Hopefully Ill be going to Britain.
He will, but the various qualifying scenarios are so complex that he wasnt sure at the time. Dean Wilson, who finished tied for third at the AT&T and did not qualify for the British, gave up trying to figure it all out.
Theres just so many things to keep track of, Wilson said. It was funny yesterday, I was playing with Freddie Couples and he was asking me if I was in the PGA Championship, and I said I dont even know. I dont know where I stand on the Ryder Cup list.
Hunter Mahans group was safely on the eighth green, all within 15 feet of the cup, and they were marking their ball when a fourth ball appeared out of nowhere.
It landed on the back of the green, caught the slope and slid by the right side of the cup as the gallery, and the gallery cheered the closer the ball got to the hole, not realizing there already were three balls on the putting surface.
Mahan, Jacobson and Robert Allenby were startled, looking back toward the fairway to see who hit the shot. They soon realized it came from the opposite direction, a snap-hook off the fifth tee by Robert Garrigus.
I might have hit a tree, Allenby said when Garrigus arrived on the wrong green.
No, he replied, I hooked it that bad.
By rule, Garrigus had to take free relief from off the putting surface. John Wood, the caddie for Mahan, had another suggestion.
Just putt out, skip the next four holes and join us, Wood said.
Trent Cryers usual assignment is giving tours of the Pentagon. On Sunday, the Army specialist was in full uniform on the first tee at Congressional Country Club, announcing the groups for the final round of the AT&T National.
Its quite an experience, Cryer said. It gets me out of the building.
In keeping with the tournaments military theme, personnel from all branches of the U.S. armed forces served as first tee and 10th tee announcers each day.
Cryer had the perfect voice for the job, bellowing out each name with plenty of volume and just the right dramatic cadence. He said he didnt ask for autographs or souvenirs from the golfers; a firm handshake was enough.
By the way, does Cryer himself play golf?
I hack at it, he said.
Attendance was already down from last year without Tiger Woods in the field, and Sundays rushed schedule made things worse. With thunderstorms in the afternoon forecast, the leaders teed off at 10 a.m. instead of the usual 2 p.m., making for thin galleries and vendors desperate for business.
Programs were sold for $1 instead of $5. A women at a lemonade stand between the ninth and 10th holes practically pleaded for customers.
There were 29,867 spectators, down from the 37,211 who came to the final round a year ago. Attendance for all four days was down 24 percent from last year.
Peter Lonard matched the course record with a 63 Sunday, becoming the second player in three days to achieve the mark.
Tom Pernice Jr. shot a 63 during the second round on Friday. Both Lonard and Pernice equaled the score posted by Matt Gogel in 2005, when the Booz Allen Classic was played at Congressional.
How much easier was the Blue Course this year? In 2007, not a single player posted four rounds in the 60s. This year, four players did: Kim, Armour, Allenby and Patrick Sheehan.
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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.”