Sutton Tiger Leonard and more

By Associated PressMay 21, 2003, 4:00 pm
Hal Sutton believes changes to Europe's Ryder Cup team is only going to make it tougher for the United States to win the back the cup.
''I'm sure it's going to make their team even better,'' Sutton said. ''It's going to be easier to play our tour and still gather points to make their team.''
Instead of taking 10 players from a European money list, Europe will take the top five from the world ranking and the next five available from the money list, along with two captain's picks.
''It might hurt their tour just a little bit,'' said Sutton, noting that players might be persuaded to play more on the PGA Tour. ''But I'm sure it's a positive move for them overall.''
Europe has won the Ryder Cup six of the last nine times.
One of the players Tiger Woods leaned on for guidance in deciding whether to turn professional was the man he now routinely beats -- Ernie Els.
Tom Callahan describes their relationship in his book, ''In Search of Tiger.''
The most meaningful conversation came after the trophy presentation at the 1996 British Open, where Els was runner-up and Woods, 20, was the low amateur.
''I told him 18 was too young for reasons apart from golf,'' Els said in the book. ''I said 19 might be all right and 20 was fine. I tried to let him in on how mentally tiring this level is, traveling so much and playing so many tournaments. And at times, how vicious the game can seem.''
Before Woods left Royal Lytham & St. Annes, Els said to him, ''I don't have to tell you, you're more than good enough to be playing out here.''
Woods, who was long and wild off the tee at the time, turned pro that summer after winning his third straight U.S. Amateur. Els knew what was going to happen, but kept it a secret for more than a month.
As Woods announced at the Greater Milwaukee Open that he was turning pro, Callahan called Els and asked the Big Easy, ''Is he ready?''
There was a long pause.
''That's the dumbest question I've ever been asked,'' Els replied. ''Have you seen him?''
Then, Els had a question for Callahan.
''What are we going to do when he finds the fairway?''
Justin Leonard is the latest player to wear sunglasses on the PGA Tour, but only between shots.
''I've never had any eye problems, but I had them on during a practice round and left them on during the tournament,'' he said. ''Then we were playing in the desert, and walking through the crowd there's a lot of dust. We get to Florida and there's pollen.''
A traditional in every other sense, Leonard doubts he'll reach the stage where he keeps them on over shots and putts. He tried it once on the practice range.
''I hit a couple pretty good, then I would catch one about this far behind the ball,'' he said, holding his fingers 3 inches apart. ''That experiment is over.''
Instead of a tie for a Father's Day gift, those with the financial means -- and that means six figures -- can bid for a round of golf with Tiger Woods.
For the second straight year, the Tiger Woods Foundation is offering a golf outing with the world's No. 1 player through eBay. Bidding begins on June 6 and runs through June 16, the day after the U.S. Open.
The highest bidder gets a round for four with Woods at Isleworth Country Club, his home course outside Orlando, Fla.
Last year, the round of golf went for $425,000 to an anonymous bidder.
The PGA of America lost two of its past presidents in the last week. Don Padgett of Pinehurst, N.C., died Friday at age 78. Padgett was PGA president from 1977-78, a period marked by rapid expansion of the Ryder Cup. Warren Orlick of Birmingham, Mich., president from 1971-72, died Saturday at age 90. ... After 20 events on the PGA Tour, 25 players already have earned at least $1 million. Fourteen of them have not won this year. ... Phil Mickelson is no longer the highest-ranked lefty in golf. Mickelson dropped to No. 6 in the world ranking, one spot behind Masters champion Mike Weir.
Until his tie for 29th in Germany, Tiger Woods had never finished worse than 15th in a non-PGA Tour event.
''I really wish a lot of these players could act like gentlemen for one week. You know, stand up when she enters the room, open the door for her and thank her for being there -- just in case some of them have a daughter every now and then.'' -- CBS Sports analyst David Feherty, on Annika Sorenstam playing Colonial.
Getty Images

After Further Review: Woods wisely keeping things in perspective

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 3:17 am

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

On Tiger Woods' career comeback ...

Tiger Woods seems to be the only one keeping his comeback in the proper perspective. Asked after his tie for fifth at Bay Hill whether he could ever have envisioned his game being in this shape heading into Augusta, he replied: “If you would have given me this opportunity in December and January, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.” He’s healthy. He’s been in contention. He’s had two realistic chances to win. There’s no box unchecked as he heads to the Masters, and no one, especially not Woods, could have seen that coming a few months ago. – Ryan Lavner

On Tiger carrying momentum into API, Masters ...

Expect Jordan Spieth to leave Austin with the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play trophy next week.

After all, Spieth is seemingly the only top-ranked player who has yet to lift some hardware in the early part of 2018. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have all gotten it done, as have Jason Day, Phil Mickelson and most recently Rory McIlroy.

Throw in the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods, and with two more weeks until the Masters there seem to be more azalea-laden storylines than ever before.

A Spieth victory in Austin would certainly add fuel to that fire, but even if he comes up short the 2015 champ will certainly be a focus of attention in a few short weeks when the golf world descends upon Magnolia Lane with no shortage of players able to point to a recent victory as proof that they’re in prime position to don a green jacket. – Will Gray

Getty Images

Davies not giving up on win, HOF after close call

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 3:06 am

PHOENIX – Laura Davies knows the odds are long now, but she won’t let go of that dream of making the LPGA Hall of Fame.

At 54, she was emboldened by her weekend run at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup. She tied for second, five shots behind Inbee Park.

“The more I get up there, I might have a chance of winning again,” Davies said. “I'm not saying I will ever win, but today was close. Maybe one day I can go closer.”

Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, but she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in 2001. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Over her career, she has won 20 LPGA titles, four of them major championships. She was the tour’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996. She probably would have locked up Hall of Fame status if she hadn’t been so loyal to the Ladies European Tour, where she won 45 titles.

Though Davies didn’t win Sunday in Phoenix, there was more than consolation in her run into contention.

“Now people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

Getty Images

Davies impresses, but there's no catching Park

By Randall MellMarch 19, 2018, 2:40 am

PHOENIX – Inbee Park won the tournament.

Laura Davies won the day.

It was a fitting script for the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Sunday, where nostalgia stirs the desert air in such a special way.

Two of the game’s all-time best, LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies, put on a show with the tour’s three living founders applauding them in the end.

Park and Davies made an event all about honoring the tour’s past while investing in its future something to savor in the moment. Founders Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Marlene Hagge Vossler cheered them both.

For Park, there was meaningful affirmation in her 18th LPGA title.

In seven months away from the LPGA, healing up a bad back, Park confessed she wondered if she should retire. This was just her second start back. She won feeling no lingering effects from her injury.

“I was trying to figure out if I was still good enough to win,” Park said of her long break back home in South Korea. “This proved to me I can win and play some pain-free golf.”

At 54, Davies kept peeling away the years Sunday, one sweet swing after another. She did so after shaking some serious nerves hitting her first tee shot.

“It’s about as nervous as I’ve ever felt,” Davies said. “I swear I nearly shanked it.”

Davies has won 45 Ladies European Tour events and 20 LPGA titles, but she was almost 17 years removed from her last LPGA title. Still, she reached back to those times when she used to rule the game and chipped in for eagle at the second hole to steady herself.

“It calmed me down, and I really enjoyed the day,” Davies said.

With birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, Davies pulled from three shots down at day’s start to within one of Park, sending a buzz through all the fans who came out to root for the popular Englishwoman.

“People were loving it,” said Tanya Paterson, Davies’ caddie. “We kept hearing, `Laura, we love you.’ It was special for Laura, showing she can still compete.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Davies relished giving all the young players today, who never saw how dominant she once was, some flashes from her great past.

“Yesterday, after I had that 63, a lot of the younger girls came up and said, `Oh, great playing today,”’ Davies said. “It was nice, I suppose, to have that. I still am a decent player, and I actually used to be really good at it. Maybe that did give them a glimpse into what it used to be like.”

She also relished showing certain fans something.

“Now, people might stop asking me when I'm going to retire,” she said.

Davies was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996, when she won two of her four major championships. She was emboldened by the way she stood up to Sunday pressure again.

In the end, though, there was no catching Park, who continues to amaze with her ability to win coming back from long breaks after injuries.

Park, 29, comes back yet again looking like the player who reigned at world No. 1 for 92 weeks, won three consecutive major championships in 2013 and won the Olympic gold medal two years ago.

“The reason that I am competing and playing is because I want to win and because I want to contend in golf tournaments,” Park said.

After Davies and Marina Alex mounted runs to move within one shot, Park pulled away, closing ferociously. She made four birdies in a row starting at the 12th and won by five shots. Her famed putting stroke heated up, reminding today’s players how nobody can demoralize a field more with a flat stick.

“I just felt like nothing has dropped on the front nine,” Park said. “I was just thinking to myself, `They have to drop at some point.’ And they just started dropping, dropping, dropping.”

Yet again, Park showed her ability to win after long breaks.

In Rio de Janeiro two years ago, Park the Olympic gold medal in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year, in just her second start upon returning.

“I'm really happy to have a win early in the season,” Park said. “That just takes so much pressure off me.”

And puts it on the rest of the tour if she takes her best form to the year’s first major at the ANA Inspiration in two weeks.



Getty Images

Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:20 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.

The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?

“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.

After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.

“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”