Dan Jenkins Still Taking Chances
'Slim and None' also happens to be the title of Jenkins' newest book which, you can find on the shelves at the Barnes and Noble on Commerce Street here where they're playing the Bank of America Colonial this week. Actually Jenkins' book is on sale everywhere and it's another must read if you're a Bobby Joe Grooves fan or a Billy Clyde Puckett fan or a Big Ed Bookman fan or any of the other semi-fictional characters in Jenkins' previous nine novels.
This time Jenkins is following aging PGA Tour sort-of-star Grooves and his latest love interest, Gwen Pritchard, and a lot of other semi-protagonists with cartoonish names through a season of majors.
We start at Augusta, which Grooves, calls 'The Magnolia Joint'; we move on to the U.S. Open at Pinehurst; the Open Championship at Carnoustie and the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills. Without giving away the ending, I can tell you Grooves faces trials by fire on and off the golf course including an on-course face-off with a 15-year girl who has been given a special exemption by the USGA to play at Pinehurst. Hmmm.
Grooves, whose appetite for chicken fried steak with cream gravy and biscuits, is almost as voracious as his hunger for the outrageously politically incorrect, is a little more world-wise in Slim and None. And Jenkins, through Grooves, is ever the equal opportunity offender and lampooner of almost anything and everything that is conventional in golf and life. A few samples:
Describing Gwen: '....she was your basic tri-state crime-spree gorgeous. Make you try to eat corn through a chain-link fence.'
Describing Cheryl, one of his multiple ex-wives: 'Now I was sure that if she ever hooked onto a damage-proof wealthy gentleman who owned a yacht and knew where Sag Harbor was, she'd fall deeply in love overnight and truly believe she'd won the ball game.'
On conquering one of the big ones: 'But win yourself a major and you're an overnight sophisticated genius celebrity. You're capable of curing diseases, finding homes for orphan babies, improving the economy and solving all the problems of the Middle East.'
On the length off the tee of Gwen's son Scott, playing the Tour at age 19: 'I don't cook chili that long......Rock bands don't ride limos that long.'
On Atlanta: '.....used to be a great city, but that was before it turned into the South's largest parking lot. It was only great now if you favored traffic and concrete.'
On Florida: '.....home of the door-to-door reptile.'
On West Texas: '......where an oil pump passes for a shade tree and plate lunches are bigger than footballs.'
On the South in general: '.....In Virginia they spend years trying to figure out if they're related to the Queen of England....Alabama hasn't come back from Bear Bryant's funeral yet.....the whole Mississippi is turning into another Vegas.'
On British coffee: '....tastes like a combination of stewed dirt and melted wrought iron.'
And so on. And so forth.
Has Jenkins made you mad yet? Has he made you laugh? Has he done both?
Sneaking around the edges of all the one-liners is a plot that will make you want to turn the pages and find out whether or not Bobby Joe gets his groove back by the end of the book.
And, by the way, Jenkins is sneaky long his own self at getting in nuggets about tournament history and famous course design.
At the end of the long day, I recommend this book to anybody who takes their golf more seriously than their life, or something like that. It tastes a whole lot better than British coffee.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain
PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.
She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.
“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.
Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.
“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”
She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.
“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”
Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.
“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.
She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.
“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”
Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.
While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.
“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”
Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead
PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.
In fact, she named her “Mona.”
For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.
While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.
And that has her excited about this year.
Well, that and having a healthy back again.
“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”
Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”
Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.
She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”
Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.
Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders
PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.
Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.
Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.
Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.
Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC
PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.
With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.
After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.
“I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”
It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.
Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.
“It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”
Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.
Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.
“Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”
Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).
Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.
“It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”
Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.
“This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”
Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.