Notes Tiger vs Vijay Match Looming at Presidents Cup
That's what could make the Presidents Cup so appealing.
Instead of a blind draw, Sunday singles matches work like a draft, with the captains taking turns putting their players in the lineup. A good show usually takes precedence over strategy, which leads to compelling matches. Nick Price was No. 1 in the world in 1994 when he played the best American, Fred Couples. Woods faced Greg Norman in 1998 at Royal Melbourne in Australia, and he played Ernie Els two years ago at Fancourt in South Africa.
Now that the matches are back in America, Sept. 22-25 at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in northern Virginia, it would seem logical for the captains to put Woods and Singh together.
``I don't know what the players want to do,'' U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus said. ``We discussed it down there (South Africa) that Ernie wanted to play Tiger, and Tiger wanted to play Ernie. We thought it was the right thing for that venue. We'll have to wait and see.''
There already is one vote for a Woods-Singh match.
``I'd love to have it,'' Woods said. ``That would be fun. I've never been one to back off a challenge. I think he would want to play me.''
They were the featured match at RTJ in 2000, the year Singh won the Masters and Woods won the other three majors. Making that match even more memorable was that Singh's caddie, Paul Tesori, playfully wrote ``Tiger Who?'' on his cap. Woods took it personally.
Both players refused to concede 2-foot putts, and Woods won, 2 and 1.
Tesori is back on the bag for Singh, prompting Woods to say, ``Maybe I should write 'Tiger Who?' on my cap.''
Nicklaus says he usually lets the players decide whom they want to play, although that wasn't the case in Australia, where the International team won handily.
The natural fit was Woods-Norman, but Nicklaus said the Shark wanted no part of Woods that year. Norman had only been playing one month after missing most of the year with shoulder surgery, and International captain Peter Thomson tried to honor the request.
``Tiger told me, 'I want Greg if you can get him,''' Nicklaus said. ``Thomson said, 'Greg asked me to stay away from him, and I said, 'Well, you do the best you can to keep him away, and I'll do the best I can to get him.' That's what my guy asked me to do.''
Woods outlasted Norman, 1 up, although the International team had already won the cup.
Arjun Atwal signed for a 74 in the final round of the Memorial when he was asked about an overseas event he played in March, which was otherwise insignificant except for one detail.
Atwal and Thongchai Jaidee played with Colin Montgomerie during the first two rounds of the Indonesian Open, where Monty failed to mark his ball during a rain delay, then replaced it the next morning in a better position.
Montgomerie conceded it was a bad drop when he review videotape some six weeks after the tournament, donating his prize money to tsunami relief. Some believe he should have been disqualified. Ultimately, his fourth-place finish at the Indonesian Open enabled him to qualify for the U.S. Open by a fraction of a world ranking point.
What exactly happened?
``It was Friday, and he was struggling to make the cut,'' Atwal said. ``The two of us hit it on the green. His ball was not in a bunker, but in the (grass) face of a bunker. His stance was almost in the sand, but in the grass, and he was falling backward when he got over it.
``He stood up there, fell backward once, then saw lightning. They hadn't blown the horn yet, and he just walked off. He was like, 'Forget this, I'm not going to hit this shot.'''
When play resumed the next morning, Monty's ball was gone, and he called over Atwal and Jaidee as he tried to sort out where his ball was in the rough.
``He was like, 'You think right about here?' And we're like, 'Yeah, sure.' I mean, what am I going to say, or Thongchai, to Colin?'' Atwal said. ``I have no idea whether he improved it or not, because I didn't check his original lie. Guys don't look at other guys' lies. We marked our ball, and by the time we turned around, he had left.''
Atwal, in his second year on the PGA Tour, said he would be surprised if Montgomerie purposely improved his lie.
``He knows the cameras are always on him, and people are always watching,'' Atwal said.
Sean O'Hair turned pro a year before he got out of high school, and much has been made of his father's influence on a career that nearly crashed.
Still, the kid always had the ability.
Thumbing through the record books, one can find O'Hair, 16, winning the Junior PGA Championship in 1998 at Palm Beach Gardens, closing with a 67 for a one-shot victory over Nathan Fritz. Also in the field that year were a pair of future U.S. Amateur champions (Bubba Dickerson tied for seventh, Ricky Barnes tied for 14th), and a U.S. Public Links Amateur champion (Brandt Snedeker finished 18th).
``I was the second-ranked junior in the country at one point,'' O'Hair said. ``But my junior career was very short. I stopped playing when I was 16, and just started playing mid-amateur events and qualifiers for the Nike Tour. I still had two more years left.''
The Royal & Ancient accepted a record 2,499 entries for the British Open, to be played July 14-17 at St. Andrews. The previous record was 2,481 in 2000, the last time the Open was played at St. Andrews. ... Mike ``Fluff'' Cowan, the caddie for Tiger Woods when he won the Masters by 12 shots and for Jim Furyk when he won the U.S. Open, will be among five people inducted Sept. 9 into the Maine Golf Hall of Fame. ... Two-time U.S. Open champion Andy North has received a special exemption to the U.S. Senior Open.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Christina Kim is the ironwoman on the LPGA Tour, the only player to have competed in all 12 tournaments this year.
``When I retire, I'm not going to say the trees were bigger when I used to play.'' -- Brad Faxon, on past generations complaining how much tougher they had it in their era.
Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas
Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.
Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.
Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.
McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.
Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?
Memo to the golf gods:
If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?
Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?
It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.
With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.
It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.
We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.
We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.
Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.
Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line. Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.
We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors.
In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.
While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.
Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.
Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.
Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.
While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.
Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.
So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?
McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever
With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.
The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.
Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.
"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."
McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.
But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.
"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."
What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire
Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.
Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft
Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft
Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft
Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x