Tour Driver Tests Tiger Love
Starting this summer, he'll know for sure.
The PGA Tour plans to experiment with a portable device at the 100th Western Open that will measure the trampoline effect in drivers and determine whether they are fit for play.
'It will be interesting to see what the findings are,' Toms said. 'When an equipment rep comes up to you and says, 'Man, this is really close,' what does that mean? That it's over the limit? A lot of guys have picked up a lot of distance. We'll see.'
The USGA and Royal & Ancient have proposed the portable test, which would take effect at the start of next year.
Unlike the current test, which must be administered at the USGA Research and Test Center and requires the club to be taken apart, the portable test will require only a low-speed strike to the club face by a small weight on a pendulum.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem mentioned the experiment during a players' meeting last week during The Players Championship . None of the players seemed to mind.
'It's important for all of us to be on the same playing field,' Tiger Woods said. 'That's why we should test drivers on the first tee, to make sure everyone is legit.'
The trampoline effect is based primarily on the thin face of drivers. While manufacturers send their new drivers to the USGA for approval, there are no guarantees that every club -- especially those close to the limit -- meet the standard.
'I've had players come up to me and say, 'Do you think some of the stuff we're getting is too hot?'' Davis Love III said. 'They (equipment reps) will hand them to us with a number on them and say, 'This one is close.' And when I hit one that's close, I can't control it.
'There's definitely some that are right on the edge, or over it,' he said. 'It will be nice for a guy to know. I'll be the first one to get in line.'
SPRING EXAMS: Tiger Woods' father says the biggest challenge facing his son's bid for a record third straight Masters might be the weather -- not what it does to the golf course, but how it affects his allergies.
'The weather will affect him differently than the other guys because Tiger is allergic to everything on the golf course,' Earl Woods said. 'He has taken allergy shots as a kid and he has developed a resistance to everything. But when he gets to Georgia in the spring, that pollen gets to him.'
Woods has managed to get by, though. He is 35 under in his last 10 rounds at Augusta, all of which have been under par.
'We have air purifiers that we put in his house, and in his room, so he can sleep properly and so his allergies won't overcome him,' Woods said. 'He does not like to play with medicine in his body.'
TENNIS, ANYONE?: It took awhile, but Mike Cunning showed he made the right decision by giving up tennis for golf. He won his first title in seven years Sunday at the Indian Open in New Delhi on the Asian PGA Tour.
As a teenager, Cunning once toured Europe with a United States junior tennis team.
'I had no wheels, no speed,' the 44-year-old Cunning said. 'So, I traded the tennis rack for a set of golf clubs.'
Among the players he faced in junior tennis was John McEnroe.
'The matches didn't last long,' Cunning said.
SPECIAL PRESENTATION: Davis Love III was not in the mood for a raucous celebration after his first victory of the season.
Love usually stays -- and plays -- at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am with Jim Griggs, who lives on the Monterey Peninsula and is former chairman of the PGA Tour Golf Course Properties board that oversees the Tournament Players Club network.
Griggs didn't play in the pro-am this year, and Love told him before leaving the house Sunday morning that 'I'm going to get you something good today.'
He won at Pebble Beach, then returned home with the trophy only to discover that Griggs had been taken to the hospital with a mild stroke.
'We ended up taking it to the hospital and leaving it for him there,' Love said. 'He was in good shape, good spirits.'
FAVORITE MAJOR: Tell Davis Love III he can win only one more major championship and he is torn between the Masters and the Open.
Not the U.S. Open -- the British Open.
'There's just something about lifting the claret jug and all the history,' he said.
Despite his emotions for the British Open, it is the only major where Love has never seriously contended. His best finish was a tie for seventh at Carnoustie, and he had to shoot a final round in the 60s to get his three top 10s in the Open.
DIVOTS: Padraig Harrington moved up to No. 8 in the Official World Golf Ranking and ahead of Sergio Garcia , the first time the Irishman has been Europe's highest-ranked player. ... Scotty Cameron putters have been used by the winner in all 12 PGA Tour events this year. ... Annika Srenstam brought Nike Golf plenty of exposure by wearing its shiny red slip-ons in the final round of last year's Kraft Nabisco Championship. She announced on the eve of this year's major that she has signed a shoe deal with Callaway Golf, her longtime sponsor.
STAT OF THE WEEK: David Toms has missed the 36-hole cut in his last four PGA Tour events.
FINAL WORD: 'Arnold will be there when he's got wheels on his coffin. They'll be pushing him down the fairway with a little putter coming out.' -- Nick Faldo, on Palmer playing in the Masters at 73 for the 49th time.
CareerBuilder Challenge: Tee times, TV schedule, stats
The PGA Tour shifts from Hawaii to Southern California for the second full-field event of the year. Here are the key stats and information for the CareerBuilder Challenge. Click here for full-field tee times.
How to watch (all rounds on Golf Channel):
Thursday, Rd. 1: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Friday, Rd. 2: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Saturday, Rd. 3: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Sunday, Rd. 4: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream
Purse: $5.9 million ($1,062,000 to winner)
Courses: PGA West, Stadium Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,113); PGA West, Nicklaus Tournament Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,159); La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,060) NOTE: All three courses will be used for the first three rounds but only the Stadium Course will be used for the final round.
Defending champion: Hudson Swafford (-20) - defeated Adam Hadwin by one stroke to earn his first PGA Tour win.
Notables in the field
* This is his first start of 2018. It's the fourth consecutive year he has made this event the first one on his yearly calendar.
* For the second year in a row he will serve as the tournament's official ambassador.
* He has won this event twice - in 2002 and 2004.
* This will be his 97th worldwide start since his most recent win, The Open in 2013.
* Ranked No. 3 in the world, he finished runner-up in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
* In 37 worldwide starts as a pro, he has 14 top-5 finishes.
* Last year he finished T-34 in this event.
* Last year in the third round, he shot 59 at La Quinta Country Club. It was the ninth - and still most recent - sub-60 round on Tour.
* In his only start of 2018, the Canadian finished 32nd in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
* Only player on the PGA Tour with five top-10 finishes this season.
* Ranks fifth in greens in regulation this season.
* Finished third in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T-4 in the Sony Open in Hawaii.
* Making only his third worldwide start since last June at the Travelers Championship. He has been recovering from a chest injury.
* This is his first start since he withdrew from the Indonesian Masters in December because of heat exhaustion.
* Hasn't played in this event since missing the cut in 2015.
* Earned his first career victory in this event in 2014, shooting three consecutive rounds of 63.
* This is his first start of 2018.
* Last season finished seventh in strokes gained: putting, the best ranking of his career.
(Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.)
Teenager Im wins Web.com season opener
South Korea's Sungjae Im cruised to a four-shot victory at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, becoming just the second teenager to win an event on the Web.com Tour.
Im started the final day of the season-opening event in a share of the lead but still with six holes left in his third round. He was one shot behind Carlos Ortiz when the final round began, but moved ahead of the former Web.com Player of the Year thanks to a 7-under 65 in rainy and windy conditions. Im's 13-under total left him four clear of Ortiz and five shots ahead of a quartet of players in third.
Still more than two months shy of his 20th birthday, Im joins Jason Day as the only two teens to win on the developmental circuit. Day was 19 years, 7 months and 26 days old when he captured the 2007 Legend Financial Group Classic.
Recent PGA Tour winners Si Woo Kim and Patrick Cantlay and former NCAA champ Aaron Wise all won their first Web.com Tour event at age 20.
Other notable finishes in the event included Max Homa (T-7), Erik Compton (T-13), Curtis Luck (T-13) and Lee McCoy (T-13). The Web.com Tour will remain in the Bahamas for another week, with opening round of The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic set to begin Sunday.
Mickelson grouped with Z. Johnson at CareerBuilder
He's not the highest-ranked player in this week's field, but Phil Mickelson will likely draw the biggest crowd at the CareerBuilder Challenge as he makes his first start of 2018. Here are a few early-round, marquee groupings to watch as players battle the three-course rotation in the Californian desert (all times ET):
12:10 p.m. Thursday, 11:40 a.m. Friday, 1:20 p.m. Saturday: Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson
Mickelson is making his fourth straight trip to Palm Springs, having cracked the top 25 each of the last three times. In addition to their respective amateur partners, he'll play the first three rounds alongside a fellow Masters champ in Johnson, who tied for 14th last week in Hawaii and finished third in this event in 2014.
11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson
At No. 3 in the world, Rahm is the highest-ranked player teeing it up this week and the Spaniard returns to an event where he finished T-34 last year in his tournament debut. He'll play the first two rounds alongside Watson, who is looking to bounce back from a difficult 2016-17 season and failed to crack the top 50 in two starts in the fall.
11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker
Reed made the first big splash of his career at this event in 2014, shooting three straight rounds of 63 en route to his maiden victory. He'll be joined by Snedeker, whose bid for a Masters bid via the top 50 of the world rankings came up short last month and who hasn't played this event since a missed cut in 2015.
1:10 p.m. Thursday, 12:40 p.m. Friday, 12:10 p.m. Saturday: Patton Kizzire, Bill Haas
Kizzire heads east after a whirlwind Sunday ended with his second win of the season in a six-hole playoff over James Hahn in Honolulu. He'll play alongside Haas, who won this event in both 2010 and 2015 to go with a runner-up finish in 2011 and remains the tournament's all-time leading money winner.
Mackay still a caddie at heart, even with a microphone
HONOLULU – All it took was one week back on the bag to remind Jim ''Bones'' Mackay what he always loved about being a caddie.
It just wasn't enough for this to be the ultimate mic drop.
Mackay traded in his TV microphone at the Sony Open for the 40-pound bag belonging to Justin Thomas.
It was his first time caddying since he split with Phil Mickelson six months ago. Mackay was only a temporary replacement at Waialae for Jimmy Johnson, a good friend and Thomas' regular caddie who has a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that will keep him in a walking boot for the next month.
''The toughest thing about not caddying is missing the competition, not having a dog in the fight,'' Mackay said before the final round. ''There's nothing more rewarding as a caddie, in general terms, when you say, 'I don't like 6-iron, I like 7,' and being right. I miss that part of it.''
The reward now?
''Not stumbling over my words,'' he said. ''And being better than I was the previous week.''
He has done remarkably well since he started his new job at the British Open last summer, except for that time he momentarily forgot his role. Parts of that famous caddie adage – ''Show up, keep up, shut up'' – apparently can apply to golf analysts on the ground.
During the early hours of the telecast, before Johnny Miller came on, Justin Leonard was in the booth.
''It's my job to report on what I see. It's not my job to ask questions,'' Mackay said. ''I forgot that for a minute.''
Leonard was part of a booth discussion on how a comfortable pairing can help players trying to win a major. That prompted Mackay to ask Leonard if he found it helpful at the 1997 British Open when he was trying to win his first major and was paired with Fred Couples in the final round at Royal Troon.
''What I didn't know is we were going to commercial in six seconds,'' Mackay said. ''I would have no way of knowing that, but I completely hung Justin out to dry. He's now got four seconds to answer my long-winded question.''
During the commercial break, the next voice Mackay heard belonged to Tommy Roy, the executive golf producer at NBC.
''Bones, don't ever do that again.''
It was Roy who recognized the value experienced caddies could bring to a telecast. That's why he invited Mackay and John Wood, the caddie for Matt Kuchar, into the control room at the 2015 Houston Open so they could see how it all worked and how uncomfortable it can be to hear directions coming through an earpiece.
Both worked as on-course reporters at Sea Island that fall.
And when Mickelson and Mackay parted ways after 25 years, Roy scooped up the longtime caddie for TV.
It's common for players to move into broadcasting. Far more unusual is for a caddie to be part of the mix. Mackay loves his new job. Mostly, he loves how it has helped elevate his profession after so many years of caddies being looked upon more unfavorably than they are now.
''I want to be a caddie that's doing TV,'' he said. ''That's what I hope to come across as. The guys think this is good for caddies. And if it's good for caddies, that makes me happy. Because I'm a caddie. I'll always be a caddie.''
Not next week at Torrey Pines, where Mickelson won three times. Not a week later in Phoenix, where Mackay lives. Both events belong to CBS.
And not the Masters.
He hasn't missed Augusta since 1994, when Mickelson broke his leg skiing that winter.
''That killed me,'' he said, ''but not nearly as much as it's going to kill me this year. I'll wake up on Thursday of the Masters and I'll be really grumpy. I'll probably avoid television at all costs until the 10th tee Sunday. And I'll watch. But it will be, within reason, the hardest day of my life.''
There are too many memories, dating to when he was in the gallery right of the 11th green in 1987 when Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman. He caddied for Mize for two years, and then Scott Simpson in 1992, and Mickelson the rest of the way. He was on the bag for Lefty's three green jackets.
Mackay still doesn't talk much about what led them to part ways, except to say that a player-caddie relationship runs its course.
''If you lose that positive dynamic, there's no point in continuing,'' he said. ''It can be gone in six months or a year or five years. In our case, it took 25 years.''
He says a dozen or so players called when they split up, and the phone call most intriguing was from Roy at NBC.
''I thought I'd caddie until I dropped,'' Mackay said.
He never imagined getting yardages and lining up putts for anyone except the golfer whose bag he was carrying. Now it's for an audience that measures in the millions. Mackay doesn't look at it as a second career. And he won't rule out caddying again.
''It will always be tempting,'' he said. ''I'll always consider myself a caddie. Right now, I'm very lucky and grateful to have the job I do.''
Except for that first week in April.