Notes Owen Rebounds Sabbatinis Wife Mocks Faldo

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2006, 5:00 pm
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Greg Owen had a pair of 3-foot putts on his final two holes Friday. He stood over both of them and thought the same thing.
 
'Oh, not again,' he said.
 
Owen's three-putt from the same distance on the 17th hole cost him a victory at Bay Hill last week and an invitation to the Masters.
 
Not surprisingly, the heartbreaking loss stuck with him for a while. He went to bed at 11 p.m. that night, woke up an hour later, took a walk, slept a couple of hours, got up for good at 4:30 a.m. and then decided to wash his car at daybreak.
 
He has rebounded nicely, though, at The Players Championship.
 
Owen overcame a double bogey on the first hole and shot a 4-under 68 in the second round Friday, leaving him 5 under for the tournament and three shots behind leader Jim Furyk.
 
Owen made both 3-footers Friday -- a good sign his flop at Bay Hill may have been a fluke.
 
'It still pops back, but I'm proud of myself to play well this week because it was tough last week,' he said. 'I knew I was playing well and I was hoping to keep up the same form, but you still wake up and you think of the worst things that happened.'
 
The memories may have been even more prevalent on the two finishing holes at the TPC at Sawgrass. He hit his tee shot inside 4 feet on the treacherous island green at No. 17 and calmly sank the putt. He made an even shorter par putt on the 18th.
 
He figured the crowds surrounding both popular holes were feeling just as anxious as he was standing over the putts.
 
'Settle down, knock it in the middle,' he told himself. 'And I hit two good shots.'
 
The Englishman was tied for seventh heading into the weekend. He needs to finish in the top 20 to have a chance at getting into the top 50 in the world rankings and earning a spot in the Masters.
 
He would have secured a spot last week with a victory. Whether he makes it now could depend on a few more 3-footers.
 
'I'm not trying to think about it,' he said. 'I mean, it's gone. I'm going to miss short putts. Everyone is going to miss short putts. I'm hopefully going to make more short ones and not even worry about the short ones.
 
'There will be times out there when the pressure gets going that I'm going to miss putts. I've done it plenty times before.'
 
KEEP UP!:
After watching her husband warned twice for slow play in the opening round, Amy Sabbatini created a T-shirt with the words' 'KEEP UP!' adhered to the front and wore it during the second round Friday.
 
It was a message for 'all the turtles out there,' she said.
 
But it was mostly directed at Rory Sabbatini's playing partner, Nick Faldo, notoriously one of the most deliberate players on tour.
 
'I'm tired of the PGA TOUR saying slow play has always been a problem and it's always going to be a problem,' she said. 'That's a B.S. excuse.'
 
Amy Sabbatini has pulled a similar stunt before. Two years ago, she wore a T-shirt displaying the words 'Stoopid Amerikan' at the World Cup in Spain after Paul Casey's anti-American comments following the Ryder Cup.
 
Rory Sabbatini supported her recent statement.
 
'There are some players who could certainly use some help with their pace of play,' said Sabbatini, who became so fed up with the slow play of Ben Crane at the Booz Allen Classic last year that he finished playing the 17th hole before Crane even reached the green.
 
The PGA TOUR implemented a new rule this year that allowed officials to start placing individuals on the clock instead of groups.
 
But Sabbatini, who missed the cut along with Faldo, said he believes the rule won't be enforced.
 
'If you put a sign on the highway saying there's a cop around the corner, it doesn't do a lot to slow down speeding,' he said.
 
As for Faldo, he said he didn't notice the wording on Amy's black T-shirt until the last couple of holes. Even then, he said he thought it had something to do with sexual dysfunction.
 
'It is very embarrassing for them to bring their sexual problems to the golf course,' Faldo quipped. 'Poor fellow, he has enough problems as it is without her announcing to the world.'
 
Faldo said Sabbatini 'lost his head' while complaining to officials after being warned and then placed on the clock Thursday.
 
'I just don't know what his problem is,' Faldo said.
 
FATHER-DAUGHTER:
Already irritated by a double bogey-bogey start to his second round, Brad Faxon had a tricky wedge into the par-4 12th. He had his club in hand, the shot in mind and was well into his routine when he was distracted by a voice from the gallery.
 
'Dad!'
 
Faxon turned and saw his 14-year-old daughter, Emily.
 
'Can I have some sunscreen,' she said.
 
Faxon got back over the shot, hit to 12 feet and made the birdie to turn around his game. And he sent the sunscreen to Emily through a marshal.
 
It was a wild day for Faxon, who made only one par in his first 12 holes -- three bogeys, a double bogey and seven birdies. He wound up with a 69 and was only three shots out of the lead.
 
PAIR OF ACES:
Jesper Parnevik and Justin Leonard each aced No. 13 in the second round Friday.
 
Parnevik's hole-in-one proved to be more helpful, though. He shot even par in each round and barely made the cut. Leonard missed the mark by one stroke.
 
Parnevik's ace was his second on the PGA TOUR and first since the 2002 BellSouth Classic. He used a 7-iron from 192 yards away.
 
Leonard used a 5-iron for his third career hole-in-one. He also had aces at the Memorial in 2000 and the Buick Open in 1996.
 
The holes-in-one were the 24th and 25th in Players history. Leonard's was the first since Jose Maria Olazabal also aced No. 13 in the second round in 2004.
 
DIVOTS:
Tiger Woods brought his 161-foot yacht, Privacy, to Ponte Vedra Beach where he is staying with his wife and caddie Steve Williams' fiance and 6-month-old boy. The only other time Woods took his yacht to a tournament was last month at Doral, where he was victorious. ... Adam Scott was scheduled to get a haircut Friday afternoon and get rid of the curly locks that hang below his hat. 'I'm pretty much ready to trim them,' he said after shooting 5-under 67 and moving into a tie for second place. 'Don't be surprised if I come out with shorter hair sometime soon here.' ... There were 16 birdies, 16 bogeys, eight double bogeys and three 'others' at the famed island green Friday.
 
Related Links:
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  • Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And 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.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

    Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

    Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

    Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

    Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

    With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

    Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

    “It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

    Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

    Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

    "It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."

    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 GolfChannel.com 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.