Notes Tiger Butchers College Fight Song

By Associated PressSeptember 19, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesSTRAFFAN, Ireland -- The U.S. team room at the Ryder Cup must have looked like rookie orientation in the NFL, especially when captain Tom Lehman asked all his players to sing their college fight song.
 
The scouting report: Tiger Woods needs to stick to golf.
 
'He wasn't good,' Scott Verplank said. 'And he didn't like doing it. I wouldn't recommend he go to a recording studio or anything. Tom got him a little embarrassed, which was good, and everybody had a good laugh.'
 
Lehman was asked the name of the song for Woods, who spent two years at Stanford.
 
'I've never heard it before, and I couldn't recognize it when he was singing it, either,' Lehman said. 'I'm totally lost.'
 
Woods wasn't the only one who took it on the chin.
 
'Some of us, including myself, didn't really know all the words,' said Verplank, an Oklahoma State alum. 'You kind of exposed a few guys. They think they are pretty good fans, and they don't even know the words to the fight song at their school.'
 
It was another example of an American team that appears to be enjoying this Ryder Cup.
 
Jim Furyk recently told Golf World magazine that the Americans look like they are 'constipated' when they're at the Ryder Cup. Lehman has stressed that he wants his team to have more fun.
 
On the practice range Tuesday morning, the Americans huddled together before splitting up into their foursomes. They switched partners after nine holes and Lehman instructed everyone to put $100 in a pot for a skins game. Cink took home most of the money.
 
While on the Palmer Course, the Americans signed plenty of autographs, another change.
 
There is supposed to be a no-autograph policy on the course, but the Europeans violated that at Oakland Hills while trying to earn support from the American gallery, and Lehman said his team would do the same this year.
 
Told about the all the activities by the Americans, Colin Montgomerie was asked what he had been doing.
 
'We've actually been playing golf, believe it or not,' he said with a smile. 'That's why we're here.'
 
TUESDAY PAIRINGS
Lehman says he has had pairings in mind for a few weeks, and it was no surprise that Tiger Woods and Furyk were in the same group with Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco, two successful teams from the Presidents Cup.
 
In other U.S. pairings during the practice round, David Toms played with Chad Campbell, and Scott Verplank was with Brett Wetterich; Zach Johnson and Stewart Cink played with Vaughn Taylor and J.J. Henry.
 
Asked if the public could read anything into the Woods-Furyk and Mickelson-DiMarco pairings, Lehman said, 'I think we all know that there's a good chance those guys will play together.'
 
As for Europe, captain Ian Woosnam put together his two Swedes (Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson) and two Spaniards (Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia); Montgomerie and three Englishman (David Howell, Paul Casey and Luke Donald); and three Irishmen (Padraig Harrington, Paul McGinley and Darren Clarke) with Lee Westwood.
 
'I think you can read a little bit into that,' Woosnam said.
 
TAKING ON TIGER
Word at Oakland Hills two years ago was that Casey had a hunch Woods would be first off in singles, and that the European rookie wanted a crack at him.
 
It was a good story, Casey concedes, but not entirely correct.
 
'Would you volunteer to play Tiger?' Casey said.
 
Casey said he was riding in a cart Saturday afternoon with European captain Bernhard Langer and teammate Clarke when Langer told them he had a few people in mind to send out first in singles, figuring Woods would lead off for the Americans.
 
'And he turned and looked at both of us,' Casey said. 'To which Darren leaned across to me, patted me on the back and said, 'Paul, you'll be fantastic!' It was just typical Clarkey. He was trying to give me confidence and he thought I was up for the task, I guess.'
 
He was wrong. Woods breezed past Casey, winning 3 and 2.
 
'What can you do? Can't refuse either of those two guys,' Casey said of his response to Clarke and Langer.
 
And would he do it again?
 
Casey smiled.
 
'Maybe not the same fashion as that,' he said.
 
EUROPEAN BACKING
The Europeans are getting some respect from where it counts: the pockets of bettors who like the chances of the defending champions.
 
Bookmakers William Hill credited a patriotic surge for the money on Europe, which is a slight favorite in most betting lines.
 
'It now seems certain that Ian Woosnam's team will go into the opening hole of the event as odds-on favorites -- the first time that has been the case,' said William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe.
 
Europe isn't much of a favorite, though. The betting line barely favors the Europeans at 10-11 odds, while the Americans are 11-10 underdogs.
 
To show how close oddsmakers think things will be, a tie is only a 9-1 pick.
 
CHIPS AHOY
Lehman started getting a little worried himself when he noticed airport workers warily eyeing the massive amount of luggage the American team brought overseas.
 
With good reason -- he had something to do with the added weight.
 
Lehman, who lives in Arizona, loves tortilla chips and salsa. He also knows from past experience that, while the Irish make a great stew, you can't find good chips and salsa in Ireland.
 
'So rather than try to find it, we decided we're going to bring our own corn tortillas, and you can make your own chips and salsa,' Lehman said.
 
Lehman's wife, Melissa, ordered several large bags of the tortillas and Lehman packed them into his golf travel bag. Trouble was, when he tried to move it, he couldn't get it off the ground. Lehman said his golf bag must have weighed 500 pounds loaded down with the tortillas. He won't have that problem on the way home.
 
'A one-way trip, absolutely, because we're going to eat those babies,' he said.
 
DIVOTS
Lehman will get to play his own team competition this year. Lehman will join Johnson and Cink on the PGA Tour team at the Wendy's Three-Tour Challenge, to be held Nov. 14 in Las Vegas. The silly season event matches three-player teams from the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour and Champions Tour. ... The forecast for Wednesday's practice round was 100 percent of rain and wind up to 30 mph. ... Ryder Cup officials issued a list of the players' wives or partners who have joined them at The K Club. Sergio Garcia is with Morgan Leigh Norman, the daughter of Greg Norman. They have been dating about two months.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Lehman is higher in the world ranking (No. 39) than four of his Ryder Cup players.
 
FINAL WORD
'If he played five matches here like he plays in 95 percent of the major championships, he's going to win four or five points. Judging by how we've done here recently, that would be a nice boost.' -- Scott Verplank on Tiger Woods.
 
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    After Further Review: Haas crash strikes a chord

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 19, 2018, 2:39 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.


    On the horrifying car crash involving Bill Haas ...

    I spent a lot of time this week thinking about Bill Haas. He was the passenger in a car crash that killed a member of his host family. That man, 71-year-old Mark Gibello, was a successful businessman in Pacific Palisades, Calif., and a new friend.

    Haas escaped without any major injuries, but he withdrew from the Genesis Open to return home to Greenville, S.C. When he’ll return to the Tour is anyone’s guess. It could be a while, as he grapples with the many emotions after surviving that horrifying crash – seriously, check out the photos – while the man next to him did not.

    The entire Haas clan is some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Wish them the best in their recovery. – Ryan Lavner


    On TIger Woods' missed cut at the Genesis Open ...

    After missing the cut at the Genesis Open by more than a few car lengths, Tiger Woods appeared to take his early exit in stride. Perhaps that in and of itself is a form of progress.

    Years ago, a second-round 76 with a tattered back-nine scorecard would have elicited a wide range of emotions. But none of them would have been particularly tempered, or optimistic, looking ahead to his next start. At age 42, though, Woods has finally ceded that a win-or-bust mentality is no longer helpful or productive.

    The road back from his latest surgery will be a winding one, mixed with both ups and downs. His return at Torrey Pines qualified as the former, while his trunk slam at Riviera certainly served as the latter. There will surely be more of both in the coming weeks and months, and Woods’ ability to stomach the rough patches could prove pivotal for his long-term prognosis. - Will Gray


    On the debate over increased driving distance on the PGA Tour ...

    The drumbeat is only going to get louder as the game’s best get longer. On Sunday, Bubba Watson pounded his way to his 10th PGA Tour title at the Genesis Open and the average driving distance continues to climb.

    Lost in the debate over driving distances and potential fixes, none of which seem to be simple, is a beacon of sanity, Riviera Country Club’s par-4 10th hole. The 10th played just over 300 yards for the week and yet yielded almost as many bogeys (86) as birdies (87) with a 4.053 stroke average.

    That ranks the 10th as the 94th toughest par 4 on Tour this season, ahead of behemoths like the 480-yard first at Waialae and 549-yard 17th at Kapalua. Maybe the game doesn’t need new rules that limit how far the golf ball goes, maybe it just needs better-designed golf holes. - Rex Hoggard


    On the depth of LPGA talent coming out of South Korea ...

    The South Korean pipeline to the LPGA shows no signs of drying up any time soon. Jin Young Ko, 22, won her LPGA debut as a tour member Sunday at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, and Hyejin Choi, 18, nearly won the right to claim LPGA membership there. The former world No. 1 amateur who just turned pro finished second playing on a sponsor exemption. Sung Hyun Park, who shared Rolex Player of the Year honors with So Yeon Ryu last year, is set to make her 2018 debut this week at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And Inbee Park is set to make her return to the LPGA in two weeks at the HSBC Women’s World Championship after missing most of last year due to injury. The LPGA continues to go through South Korea no matter where this tour goes. - Randall Mell

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    Nature calls: Hole-out rescues Bubba's bladder

    By Rex HoggardFebruary 19, 2018, 2:20 am

    LOS ANGELES – Clinging to a one-stroke lead, Bubba Watson had just teed off on the 14th hole at Riviera Country Club and was searching for a bathroom.

    “I asked Cameron [Smith], ‘where's the bathroom?’ He said, ‘On the next tee there's one. Give yourself a couple more shots, then you can go to the bathroom,’” Watson recalled. “I said, ‘So now I'm just going to hole it and go to the bathroom.’”

    By the time Watson got to his shot, which had found the bunker left of the green, his caddie Ted Scott had a similar comment.


    Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

    Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos


    “When he went down to hit it I said, ‘You know you haven’t holed one in a long time,’” Scott said.

    Watson’s shot landed just short of the hole, bounced once and crashed into the flagstick before dropping into the hole for an unlikely birdie and a two-stroke lead that he would not relinquish on his way to his third victory at the Genesis Open and his 10th PGA Tour title.

    “I looked at Teddy [Scott] and said, ‘You called it.’ Then Cameron [who was paired with Watson] came over and said I called it. I’d forgotten he and I had talked about it,” Watson said.

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    Bubba Golf takes long road back to winner's circle

    By Rex HoggardFebruary 19, 2018, 1:55 am

    LOS ANGELES – Bubba’s back.

    It’s been just two years since he hoisted a trophy on the PGA Tour, but with a mind that moves as fast as Bubba Watson’s, it must have felt like an eternity.

    Since his last victory, which was also a shootout at Riviera Country Club in 2016, Watson was passed over for a captain’s pick at the 2016 Ryder Cup, endured a mystery illness, lost his confidence, his desire and the better part of 40 pounds.

    He admits that along that ride he considered retirement and wondered if his best days were behind him.

    “I was close [to retirement]. My wife was not close,” he conceded. “My wife basically told me to quit whining and play golf. She's a lot tougher than I am.”

    What else could he do? With apologies to his University of Georgia education and a growing portfolio of small businesses, Watson was made to be on the golf course, particularly a golf course like Riviera, which is the canvas that brings out Bubba’s best.

    In a game that can too often become a monotonous parade of fairways and greens, Watson is a freewheeling iconoclast who thrives on adversity. Where others only see straight lines and one-dimensional options, Bubba embraces the unconventional and the untried.

    For a player who sometimes refers to himself in the third person, it was a perfectly Bubba moment midway through his final round on Sunday at the Genesis Open. Having stumbled out of the 54-hole lead with bogeys at Nos. 3 and 6, Watson pulled his 2-iron tee shot wildly right at the seventh because, “[his playing partners] both went left.”

    From an impossible lie in thick rough with his golf ball 2 feet above his feet, Watson’s often-fragile focus zeroed in for one of the week’s most entertaining shots, which landed about 70 feet from the hole and led to a two-putt par.


    Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

    Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos


    “His feel for that kind of stuff, you can’t go to the range and practice that. You can’t,” said Watson’s caddie Ted Scott. “Put a ball 2 feet above your feet and then have to hold the face open and then to swing that easy. That’s why I have the best seat in the house. That’s the essence of Bubba golf.”

    There were plenty of highlight moments on Sunday for Watson. There were crucial putts at Nos. 11 (birdie), 12 (par) and 13 (par) to break free of what was becoming an increasingly fluid leaderboard, and his chip-in birdie from a greenside bunker at the 14th hole extended his lead to two strokes.

    “It was just a bunker shot, no big deal,” smiled Watson, who closed with a 69 for a two-stroke victory over Kevin Na and Tony Finau.

    A player that can often appear handcuffed by the most straightforward of shots was at his best at Riviera, withstanding numerous challenges to win the Genesis Open for his 10th PGA Tour title.

    That he did so on a frenzied afternoon that featured four different players moving into, however briefly, at last a share of the lead, Watson never appeared rattled. But, of course, we all know that wasn’t the case.

    Watson can become famously uncomfortable on the course and isn’t exactly known for his ability to ignore distractions. But Riviera, where he’s now won three times, is akin to competitive Ritalin for Watson.

    “[Watson] feels very comfortable moving the ball, turning it a lot. That allows him to get to a lot of the tucked pins,” said Phil Mickelson, who finished tied for sixth after moving to within one stroke of the lead early in round. “A lot of guys don't feel comfortable doing that and they end up accepting a 15 to 30 footer in the center of the green. He ends up making a lot more birdies than a lot of guys.”

    It’s the soul of what Scott calls Bubba Golf, which is in simplest terms the most creative form of the game.

    Watson can’t explain exactly what Bubba Golf is, but there was a telling moment earlier this week when Aaron Baddeley offered Watson an impromptu putting lesson, which Bubba said was the worst putting lesson he’d ever gotten.

    “He goes, ‘how do you hit a fade?’ I said, ‘I aim it right and think fade.’ How do you hit a draw? I aim it left and think draw,” Watson said. “He said, ‘how do you putt?’ I said, ‘I don't know.’ He said, ‘well, aim it to the right when it breaks to the left, aim it to the left when it breaks to the right,’ exactly how you imagine your golf ball in the fairway or off the tee, however you imagine it, imagine it that way.”

    It’s certain that there’s more going on internally, but when he’s playing his best the sum total of Watson’s game can be simply explained – see ball, hit ball. Anything more complicated than that and he runs the risk of losing what makes him so unique and – when the stars align and a course like Riviera or Augusta National, where he’s won twice, asks the right questions – virtually unbeatable.

    That’s a long way from the depths of 2017, when he failed to advance past the second playoff event and dropped outside the top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking. But then, Watson has covered a lot of ground in his career on his way to 10 Tour victories.

    “I never thought I could get there,” he said. “Nobody thought that Bubba Watson from Bagdad, Fla., would ever get to 10 wins, let's be honest. Without lessons, head case, hooking the ball, slicing the ball, can't putt, you know? Somehow we're here making fun of it.”

    Somehow, through all the adversity and distractions, he found a way to be Bubba again.

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    Spieth: 'I feel great about the state of my game'

    By Will GrayFebruary 19, 2018, 1:43 am

    LOS ANGELES – Jordan Spieth is starting to feel confident again with the putter, which is probably a bad sign for the rest of the PGA Tour.

    Spieth struggled on the greens two weeks ago at TPC Scottsdale, but he began to right the ship at Pebble Beach and cracked the top 10 this week at the Genesis Open. Perhaps more important than his final spot on the leaderboard was his standing in the strokes gained putting category – 12th among the field at Riviera Country Club, including a 24-putt performance in the third round.

    Spieth closed out the week with a 4-under 67 to finish in a tie for ninth, five shots behind Bubba Watson. But after the round he spoke like a man whose preparation for the season’s first major is once again right on track.


    Full-field scores from the Genesis Open

    Genesis Open: Articles, photos and videos


    “I was kind of, you know, skiing uphill with my putting after Phoenix and the beginning of Pebble week, and really just for a little while now through the new year,” Spieth said. “I just made some tremendous progress. I putted extremely well this week, which is awesome. I feel great about the state of my game going forward, feel like I’m in a great place at this time of the year as we’re starting to head into major season.”

    Spieth will take a break next week, and where he next tees it up remains uncertain. He still has not announced a decision about playing or skipping the WGC-Mexico Championship, and he will have until 5 p.m. ET Friday to make a final decision on the no-cut event.

    Whether or not he flies down to Mexico City, Spieth’s optimism has officially returned after a brief hiccup on the West Coast swing.

    “For where I was starting out Phoenix to where I am and how I feel about my game going forward the rest of the year, there was a lot of progress made,” he said. “Now I’ve just got to figure out what the best schedule is for myself as we head into the Masters.”