Notes Young Tom Morris vs Wie Curveball for Tiger

By Associated PressAugust 1, 2006, 4:00 pm
Young Tom Morris just got a little bit older.
 
That still doesn't change anything for Michelle Wie, the 16-year-old from Hawaii who must win the Women's British Open this week at Royal Lytham & St. Annes if she wants to become golf's youngest major champion. The record belongs to Morris, who was 17 when he captured the first of his four British Open titles in 1868.
 
For years, it was thought Young Tom had been born in St. Andrews on May 10, 1851.
 
'Up until somebody went looking for it, everybody had only found his baptismal certificate, not his actual birth certificate,' said Peter Lewis, who manages the British Golf Museum at St. Andrews.
 
Lewis said a friend who is writing a book on the Morris family located Young Tom's birth certificate at the New Register House in Edinburgh, Scotland. The actual date of birth is April 20, 1851.
 
That means Young Tom was 17 years, five months and three days when he made the first ace in Open history on his way to a two-shot victory over Robert Andrew at Prestwick on Sept. 23, 1868.
 
All it means is that records now can be updated.
 
'It's a good discovery, and a helpful one,' Lewis said Monday. 'But in the great scheme of things, it doesn't change anything dramatically. It tidies stuff up. It's a nice bit of historical completeness.'
 
Young Tom died on Christmas Day in 1875 at age 24.
 
Wie has been a serious threat to win a major the last two years, finishing no worse than a tie for fifth in the last four majors. She will be among the favorites this week at Lytham, her final major championship this year.
 
She turns 17 on Oct. 11, and the next major isn't until the Kraft Nabisco Championship next year, which ends April 1. By then, Wie will be 17 years, five months and 21 days old.
 
CURVEBALL
Tiger Woods probably thought he had heard every question until the second round of the British Open.
 
As the interview ended, a reporter introduced himself as being a tennis writer from Italy. He said Nick Faldo had compared Woods with Bjorn Borg because of the way Woods controlled his emotions.
 
'What do you know about Bjorn Borg? What do you know about tennis?' the reporter asked. 'And what do you know about Italy?'
 
Once the laughter subsided, Woods knocked out the answers one at a time.
 
He's an avid tennis fan and watches all the time. He was flattered by the comparisons with Borg.
 
As for Italy?
 
'I've never been to Italy,' Woods replied diplomatically. 'I've always wanted to do.'
 
IMG agent Mark Steinberg walked over to Woods to escort him to his next interview and quipped, 'Negotiations are now under way for the Italian Open.'
 
THEY'RE WAITING
Hal Sutton turned 48 this year, which did not escape the folks at the Champions Tour.
 
'They sent me a birthday card,' Sutton said, bursting into rich laughter. 'It said, 'We recognize that you will be eligible for this in a few years, and we'd love to see you.' That struck me as funny.'
 
Sutton has played only one tournament this year, missing the cut at Riviera, so it's hard to imagine him getting off his horse, so to speak, to play against the 50-and-older group.
 
But considering his 3-year-old son, Holt, has never seen him play, he might change his mind.
 
'In a few years, he'd be old enough to know what I was doing,' Sutton said. 'From that perspective, I might play a little bit.'
 
STRONG KICK
Too bad every hole is not the last one for Brandt Snedeker.
 
In his last five Nationwide Tour events, Snedeker has gone eagle-birdie-eagle-eagle-eagle in the final hole of regulation. The first eagle got him into a playoff, which he lost. In the third tournament during this amazing stretch, Snedeker made eagle to get into a playoff at the Scholarship America Showdown in Minnesota.
 
Snedeker, the 2003 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion, has moved from No. 93 to No. 7 on the money list and is in good shape to finish in the top 20 and earn his PGA Tour card for next year.
 
END OF A TRADITION
As traditions go at the British Open, this doesn't date as far as the claret jug.
 
Four years ago, press officer Stewart McDougal began asking all Open champions to sign the table used each year in the interview room. It had the names of Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Curtis and Peter Thomson.
 
The most comical moment occurred when Colin Montgomerie came by for his pre-tournament interview a few years back, saw the names on the table and grabbed a pen. McDougal had no choice but to stop him and say, 'Sorry, that's only for champions.'
 
Alas, the table is no more.
 
The company that supplied it went into bankruptcy, and while selling off its assets, put the table for sale on eBay. McDougal said a Glasgow man bought it for about $1,800.
 
The man then called McDougal and offered to provide the table at Royal Liverpool, with a caveat. It was his understanding that McDougal would arrange for more Open champions to autograph the table.
 
And that's where McDougal drew the line.
 
'It wasn't meant for that,' he said.
 
He thought about starting over on the table supplied by the new company, but figured it wasn't worth the trouble.
 
DIVOTS
Jack Nicklaus has signed a deal to build his first golf course in Chile. ... Greg Norman is branching out his business by introducing a luxury brand of Australian beef to the U.S. market. According to a news release, Norman is no stranger to the beef industry as 'he has been ranching most of his life.' And you thought he spent most of that time on the driving range. ... If Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson or Geoff Ogilvy win the PGA Championship, Jim Furyk would be first alternate for the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Hawaii. ... The world ranking will slightly tweak its system, gradually reducing the value of points each week instead of taking off 25 percent every 13 weeks over two years. ... Starting next year, the Curtis Cup will be spread over three days instead of two.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Tom Lehman's two assistant captains won tournaments last week, Corey Pavin at the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee, Loren Roberts at the Senior British Open.
 
FINAL WORD
'Golf isn't like a sitcom, where problems are presented in the first five minutes, then solved in the last five minutes.' -- Olin Browne, whose victory in the Deutsche Bank Championship last year ended a six-year drought on the PGA TOUR.
 
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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 GolfChannel.com 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