Notes OHairs Friend Comparisons to Jordan

By Associated PressAugust 20, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 PGA ChampionshipMEDINAH, Ill -- Sean O'Hair grabbed a 3-iron at the 13th tee, took a few swings and didn't feel right. So his caddie suggested a 5-wood.
O'Hair missed a hole-in-one by about an inch, the ball settling on the edge of the cup 241 yards away. His 68 Sunday put him in a tie for 12th at the PGA Championship, his best finish yet at a major.
'He's playing better,' said caddie Steve Lucas, who also doubles as O'Hair's father-in-law. 'He's not making the mistakes that young players make. He's not having the 76-67 rounds. It's getting so much better. He's infinitely better as a player now than he was six months ago.'
And Lucas can take some of the credit.
O'Hair is estranged from his own father after a rough childhood in which his father drove him to become a professional golfer. But he found a father figure in Lucas and credits him with helping him find success last season, when he was the rookie of the year.
But Lucas gave up the bag earlier this season. Both say there was no animosity. Lucas said he was worn out and needed a break from the tour so he could focus on his insurance business.
O'Hair tried two different caddies, but it wasn't the same. He missed eight cuts and had only four top-25 finishes. Lucas started caddying for his son-in-law again two weeks ago at the Buick Open, and it was like old times.
O'Hair tied for fourth, shooting 19-under.
'The other caddies were fine. They just didn't know my game. They didn't know my personality,' O'Hair said. 'We know what works. We're doing a little better job managing the relationship.
'We're around each other so much, so you have to really manage it and make sure you don't get on each other's nerves. We have always worked well on the golf course together, and it's just improving through experience.'
The way Tiger Woods dominated this weekend, it was no surprise Michael Jordan's name came up during his news conference.
Nor is it shocking that they're friends.
'It was neat to have him, when I came out on tour, befriend me and pull me under his wing and say, 'This is the way life is going to be out here if you achieve the things you want to achieve. These are the things you're going to have to deal with,'' Woods said.
The two occasionally play golf together, and Woods recently got a look at Jordan playing his own game. Jordan was with his son at a basketball tournament in Florida, and he and Woods stepped onto the court.
'M.J. is still M.J.,' he said. 'He's only (on) about five or 10 minutes now. But the shots he can hit, the fadeaways, the technique, the release, it's just different.'
Jim Furyk already earned a trip to Hawaii by winning the Wachovia Championship.
Now he gets another trip to paradise.
Furyk was first alternate for the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, an exhibition of the four major champions of the year that will be held Nov. 21-22 at Poipu Bay. The spot was vacant when Tiger Woods won the PGA Championship on Sunday, giving him two majors. He also won the British Open, while Phil Mickelson won the Masters and Geoff Ogilvy won the U.S. Open.
The alternate goes to a former major champion who did the best in the majors this year.
Furyk, who tied for second at the U.S. Open and was fourth at the British Open, had 270.33 points to beat out Ernie Els (239) and Mike Weir (219.16).
Dean Wilson's first chance to play at the World Golf Championship was interrupted by the Sept. 11 attacks.
Five years later, he gets another chance.
Wilson qualified last week by beating Tom Lehman in sudden death at The International -- his first PGA Tour victory. So instead of going to the Reno-Tahoe Open, he'll head to Firestone in Akron, Ohio.
'I was very excited to play in that event and get a feel for it,' Wilson said, referring to the 2001 event, then called the American Express Championship in St. Louis. 'I played a couple practice rounds. Then, 9/11 happened.'
This year?
'I'm still excited,' Wilson said. 'I've played a lot more tournaments. I've got more experience. I've played more majors. Maybe it won't be as huge of an excitement for me. It may be more commonplace, just go out and play the tournament.'
Wilson's mother, Grace, was scheduled to watch him play in Reno. Instead, she'll make the trip from Hawaii to Akron.
There will be no casinos, but that won't be a problem for her.
'She's a huge golf fan,' Wilson said. 'She loves to come out and walk every hole and watch me practice. She's the one who got me started in golf.'
Even after shooting a 76, Billy Mayfair walked off the course with a smile.
He finished the tournament at 1-under -- not bad considering everything he has gone through. He had cancer surgery just over two weeks ago, and his mother suffered a stroke and heart attack last week.
'It's been a heck of a last couple of weeks,' Mayfair said. 'My mom's doing good. I talked to her (Saturday) night. She's up and around. She probably doesn't know where she's at, but who does know where we're at? She's doing much better.'
Having Tiger Woods in the hunt never hurts the TV ratings.
CBS Sports reported a 4.9 overnight rating with a 12 share for the third round Saturday, up from a 4.4 overnight rating an 11 share in the third round last year at Baltusrol.
The rating is the percentage of all homes with TVs, whether or not they are in use. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.
It was the highest rating at the PGA Championship for the third round since 2002 at Hazeltine.
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  • 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