Give Trevor His Due Please

By Brian HewittApril 17, 2008, 4:00 pm
As promised, this weeks Comebacker is the exclusive province of last years Masters. Trevor Immelman, who had surgery in December, beat Tiger Woods, who had surgery Tuesday.
Without further ado:
Barb writes: My jaw dropped open when I saw Trevors flex'in one moment he went from a nice South African to a jerk. I could not believe it.
The Comebacker If you are referring to Immelmans immediate reaction after winning the Masters, give the guy a break. It was the defining moment of his career to date. Clearly, it was going to take a while to sink in.
Bill writes: While everybody is shocked that Tiger Woods didn't win the Masters....he still had the lowest 36 hole total for Saturday and Sunday. His 68 Saturday tied the lowest round of the day. His 72 Sunday was only beaten by four or five players(none of which were in the top 10 to start the day)..While a lot of guys seemed to shoot 1 under by making 5 birdies and 4 bogeys, Tiger always seemed to be steady with a lot of pars.
The Comebacker Tiger lost the Masters because he needed 120 putts for 72 holes and he didnt make enough hay on the par 5s.
Blair writes: Second to the last paragraph in your article: He's the only player in the world younger than 30 to win a Major. What did I miss here? Trevor is a fine golfer but I think you are way too high on a golfer yet to break out of mediocrity. He's played eight times since the beginning of the season. Four missed cuts, and nothing better than a 40th until he became the unlikely winner of the Masters. A great golfer doesn't have one great tournament. Great golfers must show a certain degree of consistency. I don't see that from Trevor.
The Comebacker You missed the fact that I didnt put the word currently in front of younger. By the way, its interesting to note that the last three winners on the PGA TOUR are all younger than 30. And finally, of course we cant use the word great to describe Immelman yet. But there are a lot of players close to him in age (Garcia, Scott, Howell et al) that are green with envy right now.
Daniel writes: Congrats to Trevor. He seems like a very nice young man who can inspire the younger generations. His mannerism is outstanding. Someone who doesn't spit into the cup! (I'm sure you know who I was referring to).
The Comebacker That would be Sergio Garcia. Im pretty sure you wont see him spitting in a cup again any time soon. But he might drool the next time he sees Immelman wearing a green jacket.
Matt writes: Trevor Immelman's reaction after winning the Masters was the most indifferent reaction I have ever witnessed! It bothered me that the man just won THE Masters and the only emotion he can muster is to slowly move his forearms shoulder high? Then in the scorer's tent he flashes the camera a thumbs up with half smile? His reaction was more like, 'I just found a great parking space' rather than, 'I won the Masters!'
The Comebacker
Matt, have you ever met Barb?

Ken writes: How do you explain the fact that not one of the many talented Australians in this years Masters was even remotely a factor?
The Comebacker How do you explain the fact that no Australian has ever won The Masters? Hey, Palmer never won a PGA. Snead never won a U.S. Open. Tigers never come from behind on the final day to win a major. These are just a few of the games great mysteries.

Elizabeth writes: This was a horrible Masters. What could have been the most exciting year ever in golf is now just another year.
The Comebacker Ok, so Elizabeth was counting on Woods to win the calendar Grand Slam. Watched any womens golf lately? Lorena Ochoa is three majors away but has a great shot to capture the Slam on the womens side. Dont take your eyes off of her.
David writes: I know I am an old fuddy duddy. I have been watching since Palmer won and gave it away with a double on 18. Almost 50 years. Must be the course, because the golfers are all incredibly good. Horribly boring. Where are the birdies and eagles? The course must be ridiculously hard. The folks that run the tournament had best wise up. Many people will quit watching these guys play in fear and make pars.
The Comebacker First of all, The Comebacker doesnt subtract points for fuddy duddies. And David makes some terrific points. But the reason hes unhappy with the current Masters scoring conditions is precisely the reason I enjoy the U.S. Open. Par is a good score. Patience is a virtue. And the worlds best players are put to the toughest test.
Cheryl writes: I will bet you big time this will be his (Immelmans) last major. You writers always say that about first time winners and it never happens. He shot 75 in the final round. If Woods had posted a 68 or 69, he would have crumbled like a card tower. He does not have the confidence or belief to do it again. I see it as another Michael Campbell. I was not impressed by Trevor as much as I was disappointed by the big time players this week. He does have a good swing though.
The Comebacker He has a very good swing. And thats about all I agree with Cheryl on. Arnold Palmer shot 75 in the final round to win the 1962 Masters and nobody was suggesting he wasnt going to win any more majors.

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    Tiger's checklist: How he can contend at Augusta

    By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 8:31 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Augusta is already on the minds of most players here at the Honda Classic, and that includes the only one in the field with four green jackets.

    Yes, Tiger Woods has been talking about the Masters ever since he started this latest comeback at Torrey Pines. These three months are all about trying to build momentum for the year’s first major.

    Woods hasn’t revealed his schedule past this week, but his options are limited. He’s a good bet to play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he has won eight times, but adding another start would be a departure from the norm. He’s not eligible for the two World Golf Championship events, in Mexico and Austin, and he has never played the Valspar Championship or the Houston Open.

    So there’s a greater sense of urgency this week at PGA National, which is realistically one of his final tune-ups.

    How will Woods know if he’s ready to contend at Augusta? Here’s his pre-Masters checklist:

    1. Stay healthy

    So far, so good, as Woods tries to resume a normal playing schedule following four back surgeries since 2014. Though he vowed to learn from his past mistakes and not push himself, it was a promising sign that Woods felt strong enough to sign up for the Honda, the second of back-to-back starts on separate coasts.

    Another reason for optimism on the health front: The soreness that Woods felt after his season opener at Torrey Pines wasn’t related to his surgically repaired back. No, what ached most were his feet – he wasn’t used to walking 72 holes on hilly terrain.

    Woods is stiffer than normal, but that’s to be expected. His back is fused.

    2. Figure out his driver

    Augusta National is more forgiving off the tee than most major courses, putting more of a premium on approach shots and recoveries.

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    That’s good news for Woods, who has yet to find a reliable tee shot. Clearly, he is most comfortable playing a fade and wants to take the left side of the course out of play, but in competition he’s been plagued by a two-way miss.

    In two starts this year, Woods has hit only 36 percent of the fairways, no matter if he was using driver, fairway wood or long iron.

    Unfortunately, Woods is unlikely to gain any significant insight into his driver play this week. PGA National’s Champion Course isn’t overly long, but there is water on 15 of the 18 holes. As a result, he said he likely will hit driver only four times a round, maybe five, and otherwise rely on his 3-wood and 2-iron. 

    Said Rory McIlroy: “Being conservative off the tee is something that you have to do here to play well.”

    That won’t be the case at Augusta.

    3. Clean up his iron play

    As wayward as Woods has been off the tee, his iron play hasn’t impressed, either.

    At Riviera, he hit only 16 greens in regulation – his fewest in a Tour event as a professional. Of course, Woods’ chances of hitting the green are reduced when he’s playing from the thick rough, sand and trees, but he also misfired on six of the eight par 3s.

    Even when Woods does find the green, he’s not close enough to the hole. Had he played enough rounds to qualify, his proximity to the hole (39 feet, 7 inches) would rank 161st on Tour.

    That won’t be good enough at Augusta, where distance control and precision are paramount.

    Perhaps that’s why Justin Thomas said last week what many of us were thinking: “I would say he’s a pretty good ways away.”

    4. Get into contention somewhere

    As much as he would have liked to pick off a win on the West Coast, Woods said that it’s not a prerequisite to have a chance at the Masters. He cited 2010, when he tied for fourth despite taking four months off after the fallout from his scandal.

    In reality, though, there hasn’t been an out-of-nowhere Masters champion since Charl Schwartzel in 2011. Since then, every player who eventually donned the green jacket either already had a win that year or at least a top-3 finish worldwide.

    “I would like to play well,” Woods said. “I would like to win golf tournaments leading into it. The years I’ve won there, I’ve played really well early.”

    Indeed, he had at least one win in all of the years he went on to win the Masters (1997, 2000, ’01, ’05). Throw in the fact that Woods is nearly five years removed from his last Tour title, and it’s reasonable to believe that he at least needs to get himself into contention before he can seriously entertain winning another major.

    And so that’s why he’s here at the Honda, trying to find his game with seven weeks to go. 

    “It’s tournament reps,” he said, “and I need tournament reps.”

    Add that to the rest of his pre-Masters checklist.

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    Players winner to get 3-year exemption into PGA

    By Rex HoggardFebruary 21, 2018, 8:01 pm

    Although The Players isn’t golf’s fifth major, it received a boost in that direction this week.

    The PGA of America has adjusted its criteria for eligibility into the PGA Championship, extending an exemption for the winner of The Players to three years.

    According to an official with the PGA of America, the association felt the winner of The Players deserved more than a single-year exemption, which had been the case, and the move is consistent with how the PGA Tour’s annual flagship event is treated by the other majors.

    Winners of The Players were already exempt for three years into the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship.

    The change will begin with this year’s PGA Championship.

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    Thomas: Playing in front of Tiger even more chaotic

    By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:52 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas may be going from the frying pan to the fire of Tiger Woods’ pairings.

    Translation: He’s going from being grouped with Woods last week in the first two rounds at the Genesis Open to being grouped directly in front of Woods this week at the Honda Classic.

    “Which might be even worse than playing with him,” Thomas said Wednesday.

    Typically, the pairing in front of Woods deals with a lot of gallery movement, with fans racing ahead to get in position to see Woods’ next shot.

    Thomas was quoted after two rounds with Tiger at Riviera saying fans “got a little out of hand,” and saying it’s disappointing some golf fans today think it’s “so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we’re trying to hit shots.”

    With 200,000 fans expected this week at the Honda Classic, and with the Goslings Bear Trap pavilion setting a party mood at the 16th green and 17th tee, that portion of the course figures to be quite lively at PGA National.

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    Thomas was asked about that.

    “I touched on this a little bit last week,” Thomas said. “I think it got blown out of proportion, was just taken out of context, and worded differently than how I said it or meant it.

    “I love the fans. The fans are what I hope to have a lot of, what all of us hope to have a lot of. We want them cheering us on. But it's those certain fans that are choosing to yell at the wrong times, or just saying stuff that's completely inappropriate.”

    Thomas said it’s more than ill-timed shouts. It’s the nature of some things being said.

    “It's one thing if it's just you and I talking, but when you're around kids, when you're around women, when you're around families, or just around people in general, some of the stuff they are saying to us is just extremely inappropriate,” he said. “There’s really no place for it anywhere, especially on a golf course.

    “I feel like golf is pretty well known as a classy sport, not that other sports aren't, but it has that reputation.”

    Thomas said the nature of the 17th hole at PGA National’s Champion Course makes it a more difficult tee shot than the raucous 16th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Typically, players like to hear fans get into the action before or after they hit shots. Ill-timed bluster, however, makes a shot like the one at Honda’s 17th even tougher.

    “That hole is hard enough,” Thomas said. “I don't need someone yelling in my ear on my backswing that I'm going to hit it in the water, to make it any harder. I hope it gets better, just for the sake of the game. That's not helping anything. That's not helping grow the game.”

    Those who follow golf know an ill-timed shout in a player’s backswing is different than anything a fan says at a football, basketball or baseball game. An ill-timed comment in a backswing has a greater effect on the outcome of a competition.

    “Just in terms of how much money we're playing for, how many points we're playing for ... this is our jobs out here, and you hate to somehow see something that a fan does, or something that they yell, influence something that affects [a player’s] job,” Thomas said.

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    Rory: Phil said RC task force just copied Europe

    By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:21 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two weeks ago, Rory McIlroy quizzed Phil Mickelson about what the Americans got out of the U.S. Ryder Cup task force’s overhaul.

    McIlroy and Mickelson were paired together at Pebble Beach.

    “Basically, all they are doing is copying what the Europeans have done,” McIlroy said.  “That's what he said.”

    The Europeans claimed their sixth of seven Ryder Cups with their victory at Gleneagles in 2014. That brought about a sea change in the way the United States approached the Ryder Cup. Mickelson called out the tactics in Gleneagles of captain Tom Watson, who was outmaneuvered by European captain Paul McGinley.

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    The Americans defeated Europe at Hazeltine two years ago with that new European model.

    “He said the first thing they did in that task force was Phil played a video, a 12-minute video of Paul McGinley to all of them,” McIlroy said. “So, they are copying what we do, and it's working for them. It's more cohesive, and the team and the core of that team are more in control of what they are doing, instead of the PGA of America recruiting and someone telling them what to do.”