Title at Torrey on the line with Tiger missing

By Associated PressFebruary 5, 2009, 5:00 pm
2006 Buick InvitationalSAN DIEGO ' Pat Perez is two weeks removed from his first PGA Tour victory and is competing on a Torrey Pines golf course where he grew up playing as a kid. Someone asked him what his chances were of winning the Buick Invitational.
 
Better than Tigers, he said.
 
Thats one bet he cant lose, for the simple reason that Tiger Woods is nowhere to be found on the public course he has turned into his private kingdom. One of the few guarantees in golf is that you cant win if you dont play.
 
Woods is a six-time winner of the Buick Invitational, and his dominance at Torrey Pines took on a new dimension last summer when he won the U.S. Open with a knee injury so severe that he had season-ending surgery a week later.
 
Phil Mickelson won the Buick Invitational three times, including consecutive years at the turn of the decade. He was informed that he is the only past champion from the last decade who will tee it up this week. Mickelson is no economist, but it didnt take him long to figure out that Woods owns five of those titles, and the other two belong to John Daly (suspended) and Jose Maria Olazabal (still in Europe).
 
I wasnt really reading through the fine print of the program, Mickelson replied.
 
The Buick Invitational gets started Thursday with a field that features Mickelson and double major winner Padraig Harrington as the only players from the top 10 in the world, but a host of others looking to join a half-dozen players who are part of golf trivia.
 
Name the six players who won a tournament where Woods did not defend his title?
 
If history is any indication, it wont be just anybody.
 
Harrington is on that list, having won the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills last summer while Woods was on his couch. Camilo Villegas is the only player to do it twice, winning the BMW Championship and Tour Championship in consecutive weeks during the FedEx Cup playoffs.
 
David Duval was No. 1 in the world when he won the BellSouth Classic in Atlanta in 1999, the year Woods did not show up to defend because the tournament moved from May to a week before the Masters.
 
Anthony Kim won the Wachovia Championship as Woods recovered from the first of his two knee surgeries last year. The other was Vijay Singh, who won the Bridgestone Invitational, where Woods was the three-time defending champion.
 
The lowest-ranked player in that group was Kim at No. 37 before he won at Quail Hollow.
 
Harrington is among those who is in no hurry for Woods to return.
 
I know as little as anybody else, and dont really need to think too much about it, Harrington said. Hell let us know. And Im sure when he does know, hell tell us something different, anyway. I know thats what I would do.
 
Woods is missing the Buick Invitational for the first time since 1997, his first full year on the PGA Tour, when he spent the first few months across the world playing (and winning) the Asian Honda Classic in Thailand.
 
Harrington, meanwhile, is playing it for the first time.
 
He was around last summer for the U.S. Open, where he tied for 36th, but its a wonder the Irishman even recognized the place. He played the pro-am Wednesday on the North course, which seven months ago contained corporate tents, a parking lot, a driving range, a chipping area, a locker room and the media center.
 
When I played the Open, I didnt even realize that the North Course was where it was, Harrington said.
 
For the record, its just north of the South Course.
 
In fact, the first tee on the South and the first tee on the North are right next to each other. But pardon Harrington for not noticing in June, because a massive grandstand covered the North tee.
 
When I teed off yesterday on the South Course, there was someone teeing off on the first tee of the North Course, and I was thinking, What golf course is that? he said. At a U.S. Open, you really dont see the golf course as it is, with so many tented villages around the place and so many spectators. You dont get a flavor for the place, unlike now.
 
And obviously, he said, the North Course in spectacular.
 
There arent nearly as many tents, and even Buick has scaled back its on-course signs and advertising. There wont be as many spectators as there were at the U.S. Open, when Woods beat Rocco Mediate in a Monday playoff, or maybe not as many as the Buick Invitational last year, especially with rain in the forecast through the weekend.
 
The same security detail is in place. Theyll be looking after Mickelson this year.
 
Every time weve walked with Tiger, hes won, one of the officers said Wednesday morning.
 
That might be just the omen Mickelson needs.
 

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  • Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

    In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

    "It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

    “Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

    “That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

    Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

    The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

    Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

    Lexi Thompson:

    Baking time!!

    A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

    David Feherty:

    Jack Nicklaus:

    GC Tiger Tracker:

    Steve Stricker:

    Golf Channel:

    Frank Nobilo:

    Ian Poulter:

    Tyrone Van Aswegen:

    Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

    By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.

    Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan

    By Randall MellNovember 23, 2017, 2:54 pm

    Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.

    Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.

    Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:

    “Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”

    Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.

    “When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”

    Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.

    “Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”

    In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.

    “Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”

    Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.

    “The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”

    Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.

    “Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.

    Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:

    Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:

    LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:

    Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:

    Christina Kim:

    LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:

    LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:

    LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:

    LPGA pro Jennie Lee: