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

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 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