Notes Tiger favors tradition of shaking hands

By Associated PressJune 5, 2009, 4:00 pm
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DUBLIN, Ohio ' Tiger Woods isnt likely to storm off the 18th green on Sunday if he doesnt win the Memorial Tournament.
Woods was asked earlier this week whether athletes should shake hands after a competition. Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James was criticized when he did not shake hands with Orlando Magic players after losing in Game 7 of the NBAs Eastern Conference Finals.
Woods, who attended some of the games in his hometown of Orlando, is a huge sports fan. He tried to put the controversy in historical perspective.
Well, if you look at it, not everyone shakes hands after every game, he said. Football, a lot of guys just walk off the field. A lot of sports, they walk off the court or field. Hockey, they line up. Its tradition. And its part of our sport, the tradition of taking the hat off and shaking hands.
The history of our game is about sportsmanship. We call penalties on ourselves. I dont see anybody in the NFL saying, Im sorry. I held the guy. Give me 10 yards. That doesnt happen.
But I think that what separates our sport from other sports is just the traditions of the sportsmanship, when you doff your cap and shake someones hand and look them in the eyes and say, Well done.
Woods said he was rooting for the favorite team of his youth (the Los Angeles Lakers) over the Magic in the NBA Finals.
I live in Orlando and root for the Magic, but Im from L.A., he said. I grew up watching Magic (Johnson), Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) and (James) Worthy and Byron (Scott) and all those teams. Before that, (Bob) McAdoo and (Norm) Nixon, you name it. Its hard, but Im from L.A.

CAMILO COMEBACK: After ending his first round with back-to-back bogeys, it got even worse for Camilo Villegas. He started Friday bogey-triple bogey-bogey-bogey. Instead of trying to get into contention, he was trying to make the cut.
But the Colombian produced quite the comeback, making eagle at No. 15, chipping in for par on the 18th, and finishing his round with three birdies over the final four holes for a 72.
Even better was his attitude.
You know, these things can be good for you, he said. I wouldnt want it to happen. But you never know when youre going to have to deal with that in a U.S. Open or a major.
Villegas inquired about the cut line after his birdie on the 16th hole put him at 2 over. He was told it might be around 3-over par, and he finished par-birdie for good measure.
Manny Villegas is the caddy for his brother this week. Manny is playing on the smaller circuits and is trying to qualify on Mondays for Nationwide events.
MAKE PUTT OR ELS: Ernie Els is tied for seventh at the Memorial Tournament after shooting his second consecutive 70. Hes playing well enough to be way ahead of everybody.
Here are the numbers through 36 holes: 59 total putts, 21 of 28 fairways hit, 28 of 36 greens hit in regulation.
A closer look at his second round shows he could easily have gone much, much lower. He missed three birdie putts of less than 8 feet, failed to make six that were inside 13 feet and also missed a 4-foot par putt.
The longest putt he made Friday was 9 feet, and it was a par save at the 17th.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:Chris DiMarco, on his putting style, after a 67 that left him at 140: Ive always felt like Im more of a speed putter rather than a banger-inner.

TREE ON THREE:Brian Davis made quintuple-bogey nine at the 401-yard, par-4 third hole.
He was even through 11 holes when he reached the No. 4 tee, but his drive hit a tree left of the fairway and dropped down. He punched the ball across to the other side of a small creek that borders the hole, then elected to play toward the No. 4 tee rather than go back toward his own fairway. His next shot flew into the back bunker and from there he blasted out to the green and three-putted.
Davis ended up with a 77 and missed the cut.

FOR THE DEFENSE: A lot of players said that with the wind blowing and the sun shining on already fast greens, they find themselves trying to avoid major catastrophes on the greens at Muirfield Village.
Youre actually playing defensive a little bit, said Mark Wilson, whose 70 left him tied for third. You want to make it, but if you take the speed where you want to make (the putt), here that putt could probably go 12 feet past the hole.
DiMarco said where your ball is on the green is paramount.
Youd rather have a 10-footer from down low than a 4- or 5-footer above the hole, he said.
Ryuji Imada, who shot 69 and is at 139, said its important to be careful on approach shots.
If you put the ball on the wrong tier, youre definitely looking at a three-putt, he said. Youve got to get yourself in the right spot, the right tier, to actually have a shot at birdies, let alone two-putting.

DIVOTS: Sean OHair withdrew after an opening 76, citing a left forearm injury sustained last week in Colonial. Jerry Kelly, wincing on every swing and stretching his aching back between shots, had another 72. Woods struggled Friday with a 2-over 74 ' his highest score since shooting 74 in the second round of the 2007 British Open at Carnoustie. Matt Bettencourt, twice a winner on the Nationwide Tour, birdied four of his first eight holes in a 69 in his 17th career PGA Tour start.
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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 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 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.