The Golf Stars Are Aligning

By Brian HewittFebruary 10, 2003, 5:00 pm
This is, I think, going to be good. Very good. The tumblers are clicking into place. The stars are aligning. And collective mojos of the best players in the world are on collision course.
Davis Love III birdies six of eight holes during a victorious stretch of the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. It is a statement. And it says, 'Remember me?'
Some had forgotten. And part of that was Love's fault. He hadn't won in two years. He will turn 40 next year. But he remains in the top 10 of the world rankings. And the 4-iron he punched into the par-5 18th green on Sunday served as a reminder.
Nobody has forgotten Tiger Woods. But the massive media machine that always manages to crank up whenever he enters a tournament will be working overtime this week at the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines. It will be Woods' first event since knee surgery late last year. And the scrutiny will be intense.
Last week, playing with his father, Tiger Woods reportedly shot a 66. Earl Woods carded a 70. This tells us two things: Tiger Woods still knows how to get the ball in the hole and, if Earl Woods shot 70, they probably weren't playing the TPC at Sawgrass.
Tiger Woods will downplay how much his 2003 debut means. But don't think he hasn't been watching Ernie Els nearly run the table here and abroad so far this season. Don't think he didn't see Vijay Singh look better than ever while cruising to victory at the Phoenix Open. Don't think he doesn't know the younger ones are coming up behind him faster than ever. The latest hot names are South African Trevor Immelman and England's Paul Casey, who won a modified Stableford in Australia Sunday against a strong field.
This is going to be good just chasing down the vibes between Woods and Phil Mickelson. Mickelson, too, will be in the field at Torrey Pines this week where he ended Woods' six-tournament winning streak in 2000.
Mickelson is many things to many people. He is a massive talent. He is loose cannon. He is an underachiever in the majors. He is a great guy. He is a foolish risk-taker on the course. He is the tour's most fan-friendly player off of it. It all depends on what you want to believe about Phil.
I believe Mickelson didn't want everybody to take him as seriously as they did recently when Golf Magazine circulated an interview in which Mickelson suggested Woods' Nike equipment was 'inferior.' Bob Wood, who runs Nike Golf, took him quite seriously.
Meanwhile on Sunday at Pebble, Beach Mickelson shot 45-35--80. Which Phil Mickelson will show up at Torrey Pines? The one who has won this event two of the last three years? Or the one whose most recent round was 10 shots worse than Earl Woods' most recent round?
The most delicious possibility of all, of course, would be a Thursday-Friday pairing at the Buick Invitational that placed Woods and Mickelson in the same group.
I double-checked with tour official Ben Nelson Sunday and he reminded me the only way that can happen is if the computer spits out their names together. No devious local tournament promoter should be able to toy with this in an effort to pump up the volume and the gate.
It's almost too bad. Wouldn't we all like to see it as soon as possible? Wouldn't we all like to read the tour's 'Shotlink' printouts of how far they hit it on every hole?
Mickelson may have broken an unwritten rule when he dissed an equipment company. But he is good for the buzz of the game. And that buzz will become a din at Augusta in early April when Mickelson and Woods and Els and Singh show up inside the gates while a lot of politically-motivated people park their agendas on the outside.
Golf never bores me. But certain times in the continuum of the game are more interesting than others. This is one of the latter.

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey six on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

Ko told Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

“It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

"It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."