Drum Roll Please

By Brian HewittNovember 17, 2003, 5:00 pm
Are you ready for the first annual 'Oscar Browns?' Not to be confused with the Oscars, the Oscar Browns, as long as I am filling this space, will be a yearly compendium of golf awards. 'Oscar Brown,' for the uninitiated, is golf parlance for 'out of bounds' or 'OB' which are the initials for Oscar Brown.
Without further ado: The 2003 Oscar Browns:
PLAYER OF THE YEAR, MEN: Vijay Singh. Tiger had his chances, most notably at the recent Tour Championship where he scored indifferently. This, by the way, will not sit well with Woods and will make 2004 fascinating because of the pressure Woods will put on himself to return to the level he reached in 2000.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR, WOMEN: Annika Sorenstam. If Sports Illustrated does not name her its Sportsperson of the Year, the magazine's editors should be ashamed of themselves.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR (non gender specific): Sorenstam. This is not to say she is a better player than, say, Woods. Of course she isn't. What it says is she had a better year achieving what she set out to achieve (on golf's big stages) than any other golfer in the world.
PUTT OF THE YEAR: No, not the bloodless winner by Hilary Lunke in the playoff for the U.S. Women's Open. The putt of the year was the 25-footer by Angela Stanford, seconds earlier, that forced Lunke to make her putt. Mike Weir's 7-footer on the 72nd hole at The Masters to force a playoff with Len Mattiace was a close second.
DRIVE OF THE YEAR: Easy. Annika's tee ball on the 10th hole (her first) on Thursday of the Bank of America Colonial. The whole sports world was watching her play against the men. She split the fairway.
IRON OF THE YEAR: Shaun Micheel's 7-iron to two inches on the 72nd hole of the PGA Championship at Oak Hill. So far, this tournament-winning swing also doubles as shot of the century.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR, JUNIOR: Lest we forget, Michelle Wie is still only 14 years old.
BEST STORY OF THE YEAR: Tie between women (Sorenstam, Wie, Whaley, Pak et. al.) playing in men's events and the magical mystery tour of Tom Watson and his brave caddie Bruce Edwards as Edwards fights the good fight against Lou Gehrig's disease.
WORST STORY OF THE YEAR: And, to be sure, there are two sides to it. Marco Dawson's delayed reporting of rules violations that cost Esteban Toledo and Brandel Chamblee dearly. Dawson's fellow pros are still shaking their heads in disbelief. Dawson maintains that a violation is a violation and reporting it late is better than not reporting it at all.
CADDIE OF THE YEAR: Pete Coleman. This veteran looper was the bedrock upon which Lee Westwood mounted his remarkable comeback.
COMEBACK OF THE YEAR: Lee Westwood. (See above).
PUZZLE OF THE YEAR: The continuing saga of former world No. 1 David Duval and his free fall into golf's abyss. It says here Duval will be back. But the mountain he must climb to get there looks a little more like Everest every month.
BEST GRACE UNDER FIRE: The aplomb Thomas Bjorn managed in the moments after he had squandered away the Open Championship in a bunker late Sunday. Bjorn, a Dane whose English intonations and inflections sound eerily like that of Sean Connery, a Scot, was a model of sportsmanship in defeat.
UP AND DOWN OF THE YEAR: Woods' 'sandy' on his 36th hole at Augusta National to make the weekend on the number at the Masters and keep his remarkable string of made cuts alive.
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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x