Comebackers Mixed Bag

By Brian HewittNovember 6, 2008, 5:00 pm
This weeks Comebacker is a potpourri. Even a few leftover pet peeves. By the way, how about the opposite of pet peeves? Things you love, or even just like, about golf.
Like the sound of metal spikes crunching on a hard floor. Or the sound the ball makes when it drops in the cup. There are thousands of others. Let me know your favorites.
Meanwhile back to this week. Without further ado:
Mark writes: How much longer will the PGA Tour continue to let John Daly be an embarrassment to himself and the Tour without taking some kind of action?
The Comebacker
Thats a very good question.

Andrew writes: On the latest news about John Daly and the N.C. Hooters incident, one thing that has been missing from the reports I have read ' and perhaps you can shed some light on this ' how is this latest issue Butch Harmon's fault? Has John or his representatives connected those dots yet?
The Comebacker The Comebacker is sensing public opinion, which has been putty in Dalys talented hands for a long time, is starting to turn against him.

Dale writes: Who cares (about the FedEx Cup)? This to me is just another event in the silly season anyways. What prestige is there in winning the FedEx Cup? Fifty years from now will we be talking about how Vijay won the Cup? Not likely. Golf is and will always be the majors.
The Comebacker But 50 years from now the $10 million Vijay won, even if he just invested it in certificates of deposit, will be worth a whole pile of money.

Stanislas writes: I suppose the next American Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams will refuse to go to the White House if invited? Seriously, I would be extremely curious to know the election results among the American players on the PGA Tour and Champions Tour. My guess would be 80-20 for John McCain, maybe even more...given that they will all be concerned by President Obama's tax raise!
The Comebacker Who knows?....Maybe a few of them voted for a third party candidate. (Thats an in joke and you need to have been watching Golf Central to get it. Shame on you if you havent been watching Golf Central.)

Steve writes: I dont know whether this has made the list yet, but my pet peeve is the player who cant stand still for 10 seconds and every time you look at the pin/hole, hes in the background doing his version of the mashed potato. I have the attention span of a gnat, so it doesnt take much to distract me. So I end up over the shot, thinking of different ways I can politely tell him to stand still without appearing to be a twit, instead of concentrating on the shot at hand.
The Comebacker The Mashed Potato? What about The Swim, The Boogaloo, The Monkey, The Jerk and The Philly Dog? Twit, indeed.

Richard writes: Perhaps the motivation for this column was nothing more than to build the number of hits at the Web site. I've wondered if advertising costs are based on number of hits.....Please consider a column about things we like, things in golf that make us smile or feel good.
The Comebacker
Please go back to the first paragraph.

Dennis writes: My favorite announcing team is Julian Tutt and his cohorts on the European Tour. Unfortunately they are the worst abusers of my Pet Peeve, the term unlucky. A shot that's a little too short or long is just that, whether or not it ends up in an awkward position ' it's golf! If someone hits a sprinkler head or course marker that sends their ball into a hazard or out of bounds, that's genuinely unlucky.
The Comebacker
The announcer bashers: Theyre baaacckkkkk!!

Mark writes: My one pet peeve that I have found to be fairly new to the courses where I play is golferbillies spitting sunflower seeds on the greens. It annoys me to have to remove sunflower seeds from my line, plus it can be disgusting as well. I wish these players would head back to the softball diamonds that they have frequented for the past 20 years of their lives and give up golf or carry their spittoon with them.
The Comebacker I have no Comeback for this one. Mark, you write about a game with which I am not familiar.

Bigboy writes: My ultimate pet peeve is the guy who gets out of his giant SUV and carries his Tour Staff bag (big enough for a family of six) to the clubhouse and then heads for the Black Tees, all after parking in a designated handicap spot. I can only hope that this individual shoots the worst 17 holes of his life before breaking an ankle on 18 after stepping into a burrowing animal hole.
The Comebacker
Al Czervik lives!

Craig writes: You need to give your head a shake if you think the players would vote Tiger Comeback Player of the Year (in 2009). How could someone 'come back' after ending the year atop the world golf rankings? A comeback player plays poorly one year and well the next.
The Comebacker
Tell that to Steve Stricker.

Barry writes: You know the only way for Phil to become No. 1 was for Tiger to stop playing and by osmosis Phil is now No. 1 by default, not a manly way to get there.
The Comebacker Actually, last time I checked, Tiger was still No. 1. And for that matter, Phil is closer to No. 3 (watch out for Sergio) than he is to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings.

Maury writes: I remember reading a quote from Amy Alcott years ago in that she tried to paint beautiful pictures with her golf clubs, referring to how she wanted to play golf. Certainly no one has ever painted as compelling, magical and beautiful pictures with his clubs as Seve. I join in the chorus in wishing him a speedy recovery.
The Comebacker For now, Ballesteros delicate condition continues to improve. We can all only hope that progress continues.

Chip writes: Whether from the tee, the rough, the fairway, the bunker or the parking lot, Seve routinely made shot after shot that left the gallery, as well as his playing partners, with slack jaws. The most creative man to ever play the game. I pray that he can play this shot that faces him now with just as much grace and character as he has always exhibited. Thanks for the memories.
The Comebacker At the risk of sounding like an old-timer, how is it that there arent any young players with Ballesteros creative gifts? Maybe they just dont come around every generation.

Marvin writes: Boo is more than an embarrassment to the PGA, he should have been sit down for his actions on the first tee (at Valhalla). He is the poorest sport I have ever seen.
The Comebacker Hey, get over it. Boo is Boo. The horse gallop thing was good theater. The Ryder Cup needs to have more players having fun.

Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
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Copycat: Honda's 17th teeters on edge of good taste

By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 12:37 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – The Honda Classic won’t pack as many fans around its party hole this week as the Phoenix Open does, but there is something more intensely intimate about PGA National’s stadium setup.

Players feel like the spectators in the bleachers at the tee box at Honda’s 17th hole are right on top of them.

“If the wind’s wrong at the 17th tee, you can get a vodka cranberry splashed on you,” Graeme McDowell cracked. “They are that close.”

Plus, the 17th at the Champion Course is a more difficult shot than the one players face at Scottsdale's 16th.

It’s a 162-yard tee shot at the Phoenix Open with no water in sight.

It’s a 190-yard tee shot at the Honda Classic, to a small, kidney-shaped green, with water guarding the front and right side of the green and a bunker strategically pinched into the back-center. Plus, it’s a shot that typically must be played through South Florida’s brisk winter winds.

“I’ve hit 3- and 4-irons in there,” McDowell said. “It’s a proper golf hole.”

It’s a shot that can decide who wins late on a Sunday, with hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line.

Factor in the intensely intimate nature of that hole, with fans partaking in libations at the Gosling Bear Trap pavilion behind the 17th tee and the Cobra Puma Village behind the 17th green, and the degree of difficulty there makes it one of the most difficult par 3s on the PGA Tour. It ranked as the 21st most difficult par 3 on the PGA Tour last year with a 3.20 scoring average. Scottsdale's 16th ranked 160th at 2.98.

That’s a fairly large reason why pros teeing it up at the Honda Classic don’t want to see the Phoenix-like lunacy spill over here the way it threatened to last year.

That possibility concerns players increasingly agitated by the growing unruliness at tour events outside Phoenix. Rory McIlroy said the craziness that followed his pairing with Tiger Woods in Los Angeles last week left him wanting a “couple Advil.” Justin Thomas, also in that grouping, said it “got a little out of hand.”

Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos

So players will be on alert arriving at the Honda Classic’s 17th hole this week.

A year ago, Billy Horschel complained to PGA Tour officials about the heckling Sergio Garcia and other players received there.

Horschel told last year that he worried the Honda Classic might lose some of its appeal to players if unruly fan behavior grew worse at the party hole, but he said beefed up security helped on the weekend. Horschel is back this year, and so is Garcia, good signs for Honda as it walks the fine line between promoting a good party and a good golf tournament.

“I embrace any good sporting atmosphere as long as it stays respectful,” Ian Poulter said. “At times, the line has been crossed out here on Tour. People just need to be sensible. I am not cool with being abused.

“Whenever you mix alcohol with a group of fans all day, then Dutch courage kicks in at some stage.”

Bottom line, Poulter likes the extra excitement fans can create, not the insults some can hurl.

“I am all up for loud crowds,” he said. “A bit of jeering and fun is great, but just keep it respectful. It’s a shame it goes over the line sometimes. It needs to be managed.”

Honda Classic executive director Ken Kennerly oversees that tough job. In 12 years leading the event, he has built the tournament into something special. The attendance has boomed from an estimated 65,000 his first year at the helm to more than 200,000 last year.

With Tiger Woods committed to play this year, Kennerly is hopeful the tournament sets an attendance record. The arrival of Woods, however, heightens the challenges.

Woods is going off with the late pairings on Friday, meaning he will arrive at Honda’s party hole late in the day, when the party’s fully percolating.

Kennerly is expecting 17,000 fans to pack that stadium-like atmosphere on the event’s busiest days.

Kennerly is also expecting the best from South Florida fans.

“We have a zero tolerance policy,” Kennerly said. “We have more police officers there, security and more marshals.

“We don’t want to be nasty and throw people out, but we want them to be respectful to players. We also want it to continue to be a fun place for people to hang out, because we aren’t getting 200,000 people here just to watch golf.”

Kennerly said unruly fans will be ejected.

“But we think people will be respectful, and I expect when Tiger and the superstars come through there, they aren’t going to have an issue,” Kennerly said.

McDowell believes Kennerly has the right balance working, and he expects to see that again this week.

“They’ve really taken this event up a couple notches the last five or 10 years with the job they’ve done, especially with what they’ve done at the 16th and 17th holes,” McDowell said. “I’ve been here a lot, and I don’t think it’s gotten to the Phoenix level yet.”

The real test of that may come Friday when Woods makes his way through there at the end of the day.

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Door officially open for Woods to be playing vice captain

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 20, 2018, 11:50 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Thirteen months ago, when Jim Furyk was named the 2018 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, one of the biggest questions was what would happen if Furyk were to play his way onto his own team.

It wasn’t that unrealistic. 

At the time, Furyk was 46 and coming off a season in which he tied for second at the U.S. Open and shot 58 in a PGA Tour event. If anything, accepting the Ryder Cup captaincy seemed premature.

And now?

Now, he’s slowly recovering from shoulder surgery that knocked him out of action for six months. He’s ranked 230th in the world. He’s planning to play an 18-event schedule, on past champion status, mostly to be visible and available to prospective team members.

A playing captain? Furyk chuckled at the thought.

“Wow,” he said here at PGA of America headquarters, “that would be crazy-difficult.”

That’s important to remember when assessing Tiger Woods’ chances of becoming a playing vice captain.

On Tuesday, Woods was named an assistant for the matches at Le Golf National, signing up for months of group texts and a week in which he'd sport an earpiece, scribble potential pairings on a sheet of paper and fetch anything Team USA needs.

It’s become an increasingly familiar role for Woods, except this appointment isn’t anything like his vice captaincy at Hazeltine in 2016 or last year’s Presidents Cup.

Unlike the past few years, when his competitive future was in doubt because of debilitating back pain, there’s at least a chance now that Woods can qualify for the team on his own, or deserve consideration as a captain’s pick. 

There’s a long way to go, of course. He’s 104th in the points standings. He’s made only two official starts since August 2015. His driving needs a lot of work. He hasn’t threatened serious contention, and he might not for a while. But, again: Come September, it’s possible.

And so here was Woods’ taped message Tuesday: “My goal is to make the team, but whatever happens over the course of this season, I will continue to do whatever I can to help us keep the cup.”

That follows what Woods told reporters last week at Riviera, when he expressed a desire to be a playing vice captain.

“Why can’t I have both?” he said. “I like both.”

Furyk, eventually, will have five assistants in Paris, and he could have waited to see how Woods fared this year before assigning him an official role.

He opted against that. Woods is too valuable of an asset.

“I want him on-board right now,” Furyk said.

Arnold Palmer was the last to serve as both player and captain for a Ryder Cup – in 1963. Nothing about the Ryder Cup bears any resemblance to those matches, other than there’s still a winner and a loser. There is more responsibility now. More planning. More strategy. More pressure.

For the past two team competitions, the Americans have split into four-man pods that practiced together under the supervision of one of the assistants. That assistant then relayed any pertinent information to the captain, who made the final decision.

The assistants are relied upon even more once the matches begin. Furyk will need to be on the first tee for at least the first hour of the matches, welcoming all of the participants and doing interviews for the event’s many TV partners, and he needs an assistant with each of the matches out on the course. They’re the captain’s eyes and ears.

Furyk would need to weigh whether Woods’ potential impact as a vice captain – by all accounts he’s the best Xs-and-Os specialist – is worth more than the few points he could earn on the course. Could he adequately handle both tasks? Would dividing his attention actually be detrimental to the team?

“That would be a bridge we cross when we got there,” Furyk said.

If Woods plays well enough, then it’s hard to imagine him being left off the roster, even with all of the attendant challenges of the dual role.

“It’s possible,” Furyk said, “but whether that’s the best thing for the team, we’ll see.”

It’s only February, and this comeback is still new. As Furyk himself knows, a lot can change over the course of a year.

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Furyk tabs Woods, Stricker as Ryder Cup vice captains

By Will GrayFebruary 20, 2018, 9:02 pm

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk has added Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker to his stable of vice captains to aid in his quest to win on foreign soil for the first time in 25 years.

Furyk made the announcement Tuesday in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., site of this week's Honda Classic. He had previously named Davis Love III as his first vice captain, with a fourth expected to be named before the biennial matches kick off in France this September.

The addition of Woods and Stricker means that the team room will have a familiar feel from two years ago, when Love was the U.S. captain and Furyk, Woods, Stricker and Tom Lehman served as assistants.

This will be the third time as vice captain for Stricker, who last year guided the U.S. to victory as Presidents Cup captain. After compiling a 3-7-1 individual record as a Ryder Cup player from 2008-12, Stricker served as an assistant to Tom Watson at Gleneagles in 2014 before donning an earpiece two years ago on Love's squad at Hazeltine.

"This is a great honor for me, and I am once again thrilled to be a vice captain,” Stricker said in a statement. “We plan to keep the momentum and the spirit of Hazeltine alive and channel it to our advantage in Paris."

Woods will make his second appearance as a vice captain, having served in 2016 and also on Stricker's Presidents Cup team last year. Woods played on seven Ryder Cup teams from 1997-2012, and last week at the Genesis Open he told reporters he would be open to a dual role as both an assistant and a playing member this fall.

"I am thrilled to once again serve as a Ryder Cup vice captain and I thank Jim for his confidence, friendship and support," Woods said in a statement. "My goal is to make the team, but whatever happens over the course of this season, I will continue to do what I can to help us keep the cup."

The Ryder Cup will be held Sept. 28-30 at Le Golf National in Paris. The U.S. has not won in Europe since 1993 at The Belfry in England.

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Watch: Guy wins $75K boat, $25K cash with 120-foot putt

By Grill Room TeamFebruary 20, 2018, 8:15 pm

Making a 120-foot putt in front of a crowd of screaming people would be an award in and of itself for most golfers out there, but one lucky Minnesota man recently got a little something extra for his effort.

The Minnesota Golf Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center has held a $100,000 putting contest for 28 years, and on Sunday, Paul Shadle, a 49-year-old pilot from Rosemount, Minnesota, became the first person ever to sink the putt, winning a pontoon boat valued at $75,000 and $25,000 cash in the process.

But that's not the whole story. Shadle, who describes himself as a "weekend golfer," made separate 100-foot and 50-foot putts to qualify for an attempt at the $100K grand prize – in case you were wondering how it's possible no one had ever made the putt before.

"Closed my eyes and hoped for the best," Shadle said of the attempt(s).

Hard to argue with the result.