Notes Ode to La Costa Lehmans Rules

By Associated PressFebruary 21, 2006, 5:00 pm
2005 WGC Accenture Match PlayCARLSBAD, Calif. -- Players weren't always pampered on the PGA Tour.
 
There was a time when they had to buy a bag of range balls, share the cost of rental cars and even pay for their meals before tournaments started to treat them like royalty.
 
That's what made La Costa Resort so special.
 
'This was where you wanted to be,' Davis Love III said. 'They were the first ones who really made it a special week for your family, because it was a great place to stay, they treated the wives great with all the shops and spas, we had courtesy cars. You wanted to start your year at La Costa.'
 
The resort has been part of the PGA Tour landscape since 1969 when it hosted the Tournament of Champions. It later became the Mercedes Championships and stayed until 1999. The tournament moved to Kapalua that year, and La Costa became home to the Accenture Match Play Championship.
 
Now, that's about to end.
 
The Match Play Championship is expected to move to Tucson, Ariz., next year. If La Costa gets another professional tournament, it won't be the PGA Tour.
 
'It's just unfortunate they couldn't work a deal out,' said Tiger Woods, a three-time winner at La Costa. 'It has a lot of sentimental value to me.'
 
Memories for the current crop of players are of rain delays and flooded fairways. The first round was postponed a year ago because the ninth fairway turned into a lake; when the tournament began Thursday, the par-4 ninth was played as a par 3 the first three rounds.
 
As for the pampering, that has become the norm on the PGA Tour.
 
Love said he still will miss La Costa, especially the oil paintings of all past champions that hung on the walls in the lobby leading to the locker room. Love won in 1993 by one shot over Tom Kite.
 
'I think they changed artists the year I won,' he said.
 
LEHMAN RULES
Like it or not, Tiger Woods can sleep in during practice rounds at the Ryder Cup.
 
Woods caused a minor stir at The Belfry in 2002 when he played a practice round for the Ryder Cup at 6:30 a.m. and was finished by the time fans were allowed in the gates.
 
U.S. captain Tom Lehman said that won't be the case at the K Club in Ireland.
 
'We'll practice as a team, without question,' Lehman said last week. 'Whether it's three, foursomes or one twelvesome is yet to be seen. But we will be together. No wiggle room.'
 
Woods played with Mark Calcavecchia that morning, so he wasn't by himself. But Lehman believes fans who pay to see practice rounds deserve to see the best.
 
'Whether we tee off a bit early, or a bit later, we will play it together,' Lehman said. 'We want to make sure that the folks that are spending all of that money to buy tickets, making an effort to get there, do get to see the team play and practice.'
 
That means Phil Mickelson probably won't get any time off. Lefty was ridiculed at Oakland Hills in 2004 when he took Wednesday off from practice, then played an adjacent course Thursday to practice with Woods' golf ball, knowing they would be paired together the first day.
 
As for teeing off with all 12 players?
 
'I'm not kidding about that,' Lehman said. 'We will probably play a twelvesome one day and just have some fun playing alternate shot. Just all tee it up on the first tee together, and away we go.'
 
MAJOR TASK
Colin Montgomerie is aware that a European has not won a major since Paul Lawrie at the 1999 British Open, and he think he knows why.
 
'Tiger takes two of them,' he said. 'So that only leaves two for everyone else.'
 
Woods has won nine of the 25 majors since Lawrie last won at Carnoustie. Vijay Singh, Retief Goosen and Phil Mickelson each have won two majors during that stretch.
 
'If you give one to Phil, Ernie (Els) and Vijay and Retief, that only leaves one, doesn't it?' he said. 'It's tough now, isn't it? If you look at it statistically, that's what should happen. So it's difficult. You've only got one to go with. And it's got to be your day, your time.'
 
FLESCH ON THE MEND
Steve Flesch is coming off his worst year on the PGA Tour, finishing 95th on the money list. Of greater concern was pain in his right shoulder, which he described as a rubber band on the verge of snapping.
 
He tried to let it heal through rest, taking November off. But when he went to a charity event in Florida in December, it wasn't getting any better. The southpaw from Kentucky had an MRI on Dec. 22, and had arthroscopic surgery the next day to treat decompression in his shoulder.
 
'They basically cleaned it out,' Flesch said. 'There was no room for anything to move.'
 
Doctors told him he would be back hitting balls in three weeks, and sure enough, he played in the Bob Hope Classic.
 
The biggest difference?
 
'If I wanted to go out to the range and hit a few drivers, I had to stretch to get it loose,' Flesch said. 'Now I can start hitting right away.'
 
VIVA LAS VEGAS
When the PGA Tour released its 2006 schedule last fall, it listed the Las Vegas Invitational on Oct. 12-15. Without any announcement, it appeared in the media guide as the Bose Championship at Las Vegas.
 
So, did the Las Vegas event get a new title sponsor?
 
Not yet.
 
Turns out the deal with Bose fell through after the book went to the printer, although Las Vegas is still safe.
 
'We're in some negotiations now and getting things moved around,' tournament chairman Charlie Baron said. 'We'll have a title sponsor squared away in a week or so.'
 
DIVOTS
Kapalua announced in January that it will continue to host the season-opening event for the next four to six years. The title sponsor will stay the same, too, as Mercedes renewed its deal through 2010. ... Ian Poulter went to the Scotty Cameron studio over the weekend to sort out his putting, and watched video of Tiger Woods' stroke in slow motion -- 250 frames per second. 'It's no wonder why Tiger Woods is the best putter in the world,' he said. 'When you see his putter in slow motion, it's perfect.' ... David Duval already has seven rounds in the 60s this year, compared with four rounds in the 60s all of last year. His scoring average (70.54) is an improvement of more than five shots per round.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Five of the top 20 players in the world ranking are in their 20s, although none is an American -- Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Luke Donald, Rory Sabbatini and Henrik Stenson.
 
FINAL WORD
'If I play, there will be 10,000 people there. If Tiger Woods plays, there will be 100,000.' -- Stephen Ames of Trinidad & Tobago on whether he will play in the World Cup in Barbados.
 
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  • Day finishes strong, leads Aussie Open by one

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 25, 2017, 6:12 am

    Jason Day birdied three of his final five holes to take a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand in Sydney:

    Leaderboard: Day (-10), Lucas Herbert (-9), Jonas Blixt (-7), Matt Jones (-7), Cameron Smith (-6), Rhein Gibson (-5), Anthony Quayle (-5)

    What it means: Day has a great shot at his first victory – in his final start – in 2017. It’s been a frustrating campaign for Day, who has dropped to 12th in the Official World Golf Ranking. A win this week, in his native Open, would be a huge boost as he embarks on the 2018 season.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: Day’s 2-under 69 wasn’t the lowest of the day, but it was the most important. Day parred his first 13 holes before birdies on Nos. 14 and 15. He bogeyed the 17th, but finished with a birdie at the par-5 18th for the outright lead.

    Best of the rest: Blixt’s 66 put him in position to win. Meanwhile, Japanese amateur Takumi Kanaya shot the low round of the day, a 6-under 65, to reach 4 under for the tournament.

    Biggest disappointment: No one really blew it on Saturday, but Jordan Spieth was unable to make a move. His 1-under 70 has him eight shots off the lead. Herbert managed an even-par 71 but he had a two-stroke lead until an errant tee shot at the par-3 11th. Speaking of which …

    Shot of the day: Not every Shot of the Day is a great shot. Herbert made a long birdie putt on the eighth and was two clear of the field through 10 holes. But he hit his tee shot long at the 11th and was not able to find it. He had to re-tee, made double bogey and lost his advantage. He’s now chasing a major champion in the final round.

    Spieth stalls on Moving Day at Australian Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 25, 2017, 4:30 am

    Moving Day? Not so much for Jordan Spieth in Round 3 of the Emirates Australian Open.

    Spieth, the defending champion and also a winner in 2014, continued to struggle with his putter, shooting 1-under 70 on Saturday at the Australian Golf Club in Sydney.

    “I was leaving them short yesterday and today it was kind of misreading, over-reading. I missed a lot of putts on the high side – playing wind or more break,” he said. “I just really haven’t found a nice marriage between line and speed to get the ball rolling.”


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    The world No. 2 started the day eight off the pace and was unable to make a charge. He had three birdies and two bogeys, including a 4 at the par-5 finishing hole.

    Spieth praised his ball-striking in the wind-swept conditions, but lamented his putting, which has hampered him throughout the week.

    “Ball-striking’s been fantastic. Just gotta get the putts to go,” he said.

    Spieth, who is scheduled to compete in next week’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, is still holding out hope for a third title in four years at this event. He fired a brilliant 63 in very windy conditions to prevail in ’14.

    “Tomorrow is forecasted as even windier than today so you can still make up a lot of ground,” he said. “A few years ago I shot a final round that was a nice comeback and anything like that tomorrow can still even be enough to possibly get the job done.”

    South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

    By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

    South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

    Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

    Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

    Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

    So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

    Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

    The fourball results:

    LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

    LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

    LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

    KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

    LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

    LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

    NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.

     

    Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

    By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

    In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

    Made Cut

    The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

    Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

    “I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

    Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

    Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

    This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

    Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

    Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

    The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

    Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

    Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

    The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

    First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

    “You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

    A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

    “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,” Uihlein wrote.

    For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

    Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

    “I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

    Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

    “Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

    Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

    Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


    Missed Cut

    Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

    Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

    “That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

    Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

    While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.