Notes Trying to compare Barack and Eldrick

By Associated PressJanuary 13, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007 Sony OpenHONOLULU ' Parker McLachlin is in his third year on the PGA Tour and he still hasnt even met Tiger Woods, let alone played with him. He has heard stories of young players being overwhelmed, but at least he will have experience to lean on when the time comes.
After all, not too many golfers get to guard president-elect Barack Obama in a pickup basketball game.
McLachlins father was Obamas high school basketball coach at Punahou School in Honolulu, and during a vacation to Oahu over Christmas, Obama got together with some old friends from school. McLachlins father was invited, and asked if his sons could come along.
Next thing he knew, McLachlin was on the court with Obama and had to guard him.
It was his choice, McLachlin said. I think he wanted to have an easy game on defense. He said he wanted to guard the golfer.
McLachlin wasnt always a pushover.
He was trying to back me down, and Im giving him an elbow to the kidney, McLachlin said. And Im sure the Secret Service guys are like, Get your hands off of him. I had to belly up and play a little hard-nosed defense. Looking back on it, Im like, I cant believe I was elbowing him. But thats what youve got to do.
He was asked to compare being on the court with Obama to his first time on Tour being in the presence of Woods, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson, players he had only seen on television.
Thats an interesting question, McLachlin said. I think to me, theres still a little bit more of an air with Tiger just because its what I do and I aspire to be in Tigers shoes. Theres sort of a bit more of an air there, more unattainability.
Then he paused and smiled at what he had just said.
Obviously, the presidency is very unattainable, as well, he said. Maybe its just the way that Barack was. He was very genuine and very interested in what I was doing and everyone else that was there. He made a genuine effort to really connect. That was something that really made you feel at ease with him.
McLachlin said he would watch the inauguration with more interest than most.
Just knowing the fact that my dad has had a part in his upbringing and that hes influenced him in some way, I think, is something pretty special, McLachlin said.

HALL OF FAME: Not only did Kenny Perrys three victories last year earn him a spot on the Ryder Cup team, it got him on the PGA Tour ballot for the World Golf Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame released its ballots to voters Tuesday. Perry and Jay Haas were added to the PGA Tour ballot, while Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland was added to the International ballot.
For players to be on the PGA Tour ballot, they must be at least 40 and a Tour member for at least 10 years, with a minimum of 10 victories or a combination of 20 PGA and Champions Tour victories. Perry now has 12 wins; Haas won twice last year, pushing his combination of wins to 21. Clarke became eligible by turning 40.
Voters include Hall of Fame members, golf writers, historians and golf dignitaries from around the world. The ballots are due March 2, and players require 65 percent of the vote to be elected. (If no one is elected, the player receiving at least 50 percent will get in).
Lanny Wadkins received 52 percent of the vote last year, followed by Doug Ford (35 percent) and Mark OMeara (24 percent). Davis Love III received 19 percent last year but likely will get more votes after picking up his 20th career victory in November.
On the international ballot, Jose Maria Olazabal received 49 percent of the vote last year.

CAREER MONEY EXEMPTIONS: Prize money on the PGA Tour has nearly tripled in the last decade. Now, there might be a new way to measure the financial growth ' the number of players taking a one-time exemption for career money.
Chris DiMarco is among eight players who will keep their card in 2009 from being in the top 25 or the top 50 in career money, the highest number using career money exemptions this decade.
DiMarco (No. 19) and Tom Lehman (No. 18) are the only two players from the top 25 in career money. The others are Jeff Sluman, Brad Faxon, Bob Estes, David Duval, Jeff Maggert and Loren Roberts. Sluman (No. 26) and Roberts (No. 45) arent expected to play most of the time on the Champions Tour, but so taking the exemption was a matter of using it while its available.
Roberts and Sluman both are playing in the Sony Open.
If I dont use it, Ill probably lose it, said Roberts, who plans to play four or five times on the PGA Tour this year.

DIVOTS: Seven players at the Mercedes-Benz Championship decided not to take the 20-minute flight to Oahu for the Sony Open, including Vijay Singh (knee surgery Wednesday) and Justin Leonard, who traditionally plays the Bob Hope Desert Classic next week, which starts a day early because it is 90 holes. Sean OHair figures to have a hectic summer. His wife, Jackie, is expecting their third child in late June. The Irish Open will be played this year at County Louth Golf Club.

STAT OF THE WEEK: The PGA Tour had 41 players who made more money last year than Arnold Palmer earned in his career.

FINAL WORD: This is the first year I can remember that I dont have to worry about keeping my card.'Paul Azinger, who turns 50 next year and will join the Champions Tour.

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  • 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.

    Love's hip surgery a success; eyes Florida swing return

    By Rex HoggardNovember 22, 2017, 3:31 pm

    Within hours of having hip replacement surgery on Tuesday Davis Love III was back doing what he does best – keeping busy.

    “I’ve been up and walking, cheated in the night and stood up by the bed, but I’m cruising around my room,” he laughed early Wednesday from Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala., where he underwent surgery to replace his left hip. “[Dr. James Flanagan, who performed the surgery] wants me up. They don’t want me sitting for more than an hour.”

    Love, 53, planned to begin more intensive therapy and rehabilitation on Wednesday and is scheduled to be released from the hospital later this afternoon.

    According to Love’s doctors, there were no complications during the surgery and his recovery time is estimated around three to four months.

    Love, who was initially hesitant to have the surgery, said he can start putting almost immediately and should be able to start hitting wedges in a few weeks.

    Dr. Tom Boers – a physical therapist at the Hughston Orthopedic Clinic in Columbus, Ga., who has treated Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman and Brad Faxon – will oversee Love’s recovery and ultimately decide when he’s ready to resume normal golf activity.

    “He understands motion and gait and swing speeds that people really don’t understand. He’s had all of us in there studying us,” Love said. “So we’ll see him in a couple of weeks and slowly get into the swing part of it.”

    Although Love said he plans to temper his expectations for this most recent recovery, his goal is to be ready to play by the Florida swing next March.

    Vegas lists Woods at 20-1 to win a major in 2018

    By Will GrayNovember 22, 2017, 12:53 pm

    He hasn't hit a competitive shot in nearly a year, but that hasn't stopped one Las Vegas outlet from listing Tiger Woods among the favorites to win a major in 2018.

    The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook published betting odds this week on dozens of players to win any of the four majors next year. Leading the pack were Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth at 3/2, with Rory McIlroy next. But not far behind was Woods, who has been sidelined since February because of a back injury but was listed at 20/1.

    Woods will make his much-anticipated return next week at the Hero World Challenge, and next month he will turn 42. Next summer will mark the 10-year anniversary of his last major championship victory, a sudden-death playoff win over Rocco Mediate at the 2008 U.S. Open.

    Here's a look at the odds for several marquee players on winning any of the four biggest events in golf next year:

    3/2: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth

    5/2: Rory McIlroy

    7/2: Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day

    9/2: Justin Rose

    5/1: Brooks Koepka

    15/2: Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey

    10/1: Adam Scott

    12/1: Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Marc Leishman, Thomas Pieters, Patrick Reed

    15/1: Daniel Berger, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Patrick Cantlay, Branden Grace, Kevin Kisner, Alex Noren, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson

    20/1: Tiger Woods, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Tony Finau, Martin Kaymer

    25/1: Ryan Moore, Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson, Lee Westwood, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Chappell, Bryson DeChambeau, Bill Haas, Jason Dufner, Charley Hoffman

    30/1: Pat Perez, Gary Woodland, Bernd Wiesberger, Brian Harman, Padraig Harrington, Emiliano Grillo, Ross Fisher, Si Woo Kim, J.B. Holmes