Notes Star Starting Over Tigers Drug Issue

By Associated PressJuly 1, 2008, 4:00 pm
AT&T NationalBETHESDA, Md. -- Stacy Lewis got her professional career off to an amazing start.
 
Now she gets to start over.
 
In a policy that no longer makes sense, Lewis will not get credit for her tie for third in the U.S. Womens Open as she tries to earn enough money to get her LPGA Tour card without going to Q-school.
 
The only thing that could have helped me was to win, Lewis said at Interlachen, where she had a one-shot lead going into the final round and closed with a 78 to finish five shots behind Inbee Park.
 
Lewis earned $162,487, which would have been enough to finish the year equal to 80th on the LPGA Tour money list. She is playing in the Northwest Arkansas Championship this week, one of a maximum six events she can play to earn enough money.
 
She also will play the Jamie Farr Classic next week, and on Tuesday received a sponsors exemption to the LPGA Kapalua Classic on Maui. Her agent, Jeff Chilcoat of Sterling Sports Management, said he is working on three other tournaments.
 
I think it should be revisited, he said of the policy. And frankly, Id love to have it revisited retroactively. But I dont anticipate it being changed for her.
 
Starting in 2003, the LPGA expanded the maximum number of sponsor exemptions for non-members from four to six tournaments, and counted only domestic tournaments with at least 75 players in the field toward the money list. The U.S. Womens Open didnt count, because it is not co-sponsored by the LPGA.
 
The policy favors rank-and-file LPGA members, noting that non-members who want to earn a card without going to Q-school should have to compete in fields comprised almost entirely of LPGA members.
 
The fear was that someone could have one big week at the richest event in womens golf and get a card, for prize money at the Womens Open used to dwarf everything else. While the Womens Open purse of $3.1 million remains the largest, there are a dozen other LPGA events with at least $2 million in prize money.
 
Lewis doesnt fit the profile of a fluke.
 
She has a trophy from the Northwest Arkansas Championship, where she shot 65 last year before the tournament was washed out by rain and erased from the records. She tied for fifth in the Kraft Nabisco Championship last year as a junior at Arkansas, where she later won an NCAA title.
 
Now, she can only hope three more tournaments have room for her to compete.
 
TIGERS TEST RUN
Tiger Woods is still a candidate for drug testing, even though he will not be competing the rest of the year. But he already knows what to expect, having gone through private testing.
 
Ive done it twice, actually, Woods said.
 
Why did he require two tests?
 
Woods didnt say when the tests were conducted, but both came back negative. After the first test was clean, he said he changed the brand of amino acid as part of his nutrition program, and wanted to make sure the change didnt alter the results. He said the second test came back negative, too.
 
GRAND STAGE
Jessica Korda found herself in quite the arena Sunday at Interlachen, where the 15-year-old had the low round of the final round at 4-under 69 and tied for 19th. Later that afternoon, she stood along the ropes with her younger sister to watch the last group.
 
She has seen big crowds at a Grand Slam event before.
 
Korda was 5 when her father, Petr Korda, beat Marcel Rios to win the 1998 Australian Open in tennis.
 
I just remember I was coloring when he came into the stands and got us, she said.
 
Petr Korda was her caddie last week, and could not have been more proud. He tried his three children in tennis, but Jessica liked golf.
 
She never wanted to play tennis. She never wanted to sweat, he said. And that was good, because she would not have to carry the name. Now she can set her own goals.
 
And what was it like going from center court to being a caddie?
 
My stage is over, Korda said. Im very happy to be supporting her now.
 
CADDIE CHANGES
Steve Stricker showed up at Congressional with a new caddie, saying longtime friend Tom Mitchell decided to take a break to spend more time with his young family. Stricker picked up Jimmie Johnson, who previously worked for Nick Price and most recently was on the bag for Charles Howell III.
 
Johnson, however, is still auditioning. Stricker said he might try a couple of other caddies the rest of the year, and he already knows one who will work for him at the PGA Championship'his wife, Nicki.
 
She was his caddie when he won the Kemper Open for his first PGA Tour victory in 1996, and continued to work for him until they had their first child in 1998.
 
Shes fired up and excited to do it again, and Im excited to have her out here, Stricker said.
 
Meanwhile, Ernie Els has fired J.P. Fitzgerald and has gone back to Ricci Roberts, the caddie who worked for him when he won all three of his majors. This is at least the third time Roberts has been rejoined the South African.
 
Weve obviously got a long and successful track record together'one of the best in the business, in fact, Els said. Hopefully, there are many more wins to come.
 
CONGRESSIONAL FUTURE
The board of directors at Congressional Country Club has recommended a three-year contract to host the AT&T National starting in 2012, with an option for three more years that will take it to 2017, The Washington Post reported.
 
It still requires approval from the full membership, but tournament host Tiger Woods liked the development.
 
I want our golf tournament to be there for perpetuity, Woods said. It is an unbelievable golf course, and in our nations capitol, on our nations birthday. The stars couldnt get aligned even more than what it is. Hopefully, we can keep it there.
 
DIVOTS
Stacy Lewis signed an endorsement contract Tuesday with Mizuno, the only American woman paid to play its clubs. Lorena Ochoa has joined Golf Digest as a playing editor, a deal that includes her contributions to Golf Digest and Golf For Women magazines. She will provide instruction and feature content. Hazeltine will be stretched to over 7,700 yards when the PGA Championship returns there next year. Among the holes that have lengthened are No. 12, which can play as long as 545 yards as a par 4.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Seven of Kenny Perrys 11 victories have come at three tournaments'three times at the Memorial, twice each at the Buick Open and Colonial.
 
FINAL WORD
Youre up against an absolute freak and thats tough. But at the same time, hes making us so much money its a joke. We can only be thankful for the way hes played the game.'Robert Allenby on playing in the Tiger Woods era.
 

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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.”