Mixed Bag of Random Thoughts

By Brian HewittMay 11, 2005, 4:00 pm
If anybody had asked me, I would have told them that:

  • It's nice to see Jim Furyk back in the mix. He is a top 10 machine when he is healthy. And he has five of them already this year. Furyk also has moved into 19th place on the Presidents Cup point standings. That's good news for the U.S. team.

  • I can't remember when the last time was that I saw somebody using a pay phone.

  • Wayne Levi is the Jim Furyk of the Champions Tour. In eight starts this year Levi has seven top 7s and a top 14. That is outrageously consistent.

  • Another player who is quietly making a mark this season is Natalie Gulbis. Her T3 at Kingsmill last week was her best finish ever on the LPGA. She ranks eighth in putting; eighth on the money list and 20th in driving distance. Her instructor, Butch Harmon, told me recently he is expecting 'big things' from her this year. The last hurdle she must clear before winning: A nagging tendency to let one or two bad holes ruin a round or a tournament.

  • Ten years from now our children and grandchildren will be mocking us for having to wait for our computers to 'boot up.' Think about it for a second. A television switches on right away. Why not a computer?

  • Quail Hollow, the current home of the Wachovia Championship, will host a major one day. But it won't happen, I am told, until the club's current contract with the PGA Tour and Wachovia expires after the 2010 event. Best bet for Quail Hollow is a PGA Championship or a Ryder Cup. Don't expect the U.S. Open to go there mostly because Pinehurst is so close to Charlotte and the USGA considers Pinehurst one of its showstopper venues.

  • Symmetry is a beautiful thing. The top four players in the world have all won three times this year. Ernie Els has yet, however, to win in the United States. Don't be surprised if that ends this week.

  • Conspiracy of Fools, a detailed account of the Enron collapse by a New York Times reporter, is scarier than anything Stephen King has ever authored.

  • Tiger Woods will think twice before he tries to move a fence again.

  • The bad joke going around is that the only more inconsistent driver than Tiger Woods is his caddie, part-time auto racer Steve Williams. Williams may not be terribly lucky on the track or user-friendly to fans and media but he is tougher than nine miles of detour and he is all business on the golf course.

  • Harmon and Johnny Miller are both picking Retief Goosen to successfully defend his U.S. Open title next month. Hard to argue but I just can't get it out of my mind how well Phil Mickelson chipped and putted around those green complexes at the '99 U.S. Open.

  • My pick for Pinehurst: Woods.

  • Whatever happened to 'The Sopranos'?
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    Golf's Olympic format, qualifying process remain the same

    By Rex HoggardMarch 19, 2018, 6:25 pm

    AUSTIN, Texas – Potential Olympic golfers for the 2020 Games in Tokyo were informed on Monday that the qualification process for both the men’s and women’s competitions will remain unchanged.

    According to a memo sent to PGA Tour players, the qualification process begins on July 1, 2018, and will end on June 22, 2020, for the men, with the top 59 players from the Olympic Golf Rankings, which is drawn from the Official World Golf Ranking, earning a spot in Tokyo (the host country is assured a spot in the 60-player field). The women’s qualification process begins on July 8, 2018, and ends on June 29, 2020.

    The format, 72-holes of individual stroke play, for the ’20 Games will also remain unchanged.

    The ’20 Olympics will be held July 24 through Aug. 9, and the men’s competition will be played the week before the women’s event at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

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    Webb granted special exemption for U.S. Women's Open

    By Will GrayMarch 19, 2018, 6:22 pm

    Karrie Webb's streak of consecutive appearances at the U.S. Women's Open will continue this summer.

    The USGA announced Monday that the 43-year-old Aussie has been granted a special exemption into this year's event, held May 31-June 3 at Shoal Creek in Alabama. Webb, a winner in both 2000 and 2001, has qualified for the event on merit every year since 2011 when her 10-year exemption for her second victory ended.

    "As a past champion, I'm very grateful and excited to accept the USGA's special exemption into this year's U.S. Women's Open," Webb said in a release. "I have always loved competing in the U.S. Women's Open and being tested on some of the best courses in the country."

    Webb has played in the tournament every year since 1996, the longest such active streak, meaning that this summer will mark her 23rd consecutive appearance. She has made the U.S. Women's Open cut each of the last 10 years, never finishing outside the top 50 in that span.

    Webb's exemption is the first handed out by the USGA since 2016, when Se Ri Pak received an invite to play at CordeValle. Prior to that the two most recent special exemptions went to Juli Inkster (2013) and Laura Davies (2009). The highest finish by a woman playing on a special exemption came in 1994, when Amy Alcott finished sixth.

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    Notah: Driver is Tiger's No. 1 pre-Masters concern

    By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 19, 2018, 5:49 pm

    Tiger Woods mounted a Sunday charge at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, sending shockwaves through Bay Hill when it looked as though he might finally claim PGA Tour victory No. 80.

    But the charge came to an end at the par-5 16th, where Woods had missed wide-right three days in a row before going OB-left on Sunday en route to bogey.

    Woods’ API performance featured just a handful of drivers each day, as firm and fast conditions allowed him to make frequent use of a 2-iron off the tee.

    That strategy led to a second top-5 finish in as many weeks, but if Woods wants to win again, if he wants claim another major, he is going to sort out his issues with the big stick.

    A guest Monday morning on the Dan Patrick Show, Golf Channel’s Notah Begay believes the driver will be a focus for Woods in his pre-Masters preparation.

    “Project No. 1 over the next two weeks is going to be the driver. … Any time he has to turn a shot right to left with trouble on the left, he struggles a little bit,” Begay said.

    “Off the sixth tee, off the ninth tee, there was some errant shots. And then we saw the really horrible tee shot yesterday at 16. He talked about in the post-round comments. He just didn’t commit to a shot, and the worst thing that a professional athlete can do to themselves to compromise performance is not commit.

    “And so he made a terrible swing, and that’s the miss that is really difficult for him to recover from, because the majority of his misses are out to the right. So, when you eliminate one half of the golf course, you can really make your way around … a lot easier. When you have a two-way miss going, which sometimes creeps into his driver, it really makes it difficult to take out some of the trouble that you’re looking at when you’re standing on the tee box.

    “So he has to focus in on trying to find some way to navigate Augusta National with the driver, because it’s a course that’s going to force you to hit driver.”

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    McIlroy trails only Woods in Masters betting odds

    By Will GrayMarch 19, 2018, 5:47 pm

    After rallying for victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rory McIlroy is once again among the betting favorites for the upcoming Masters.

    McIlroy was available at 16/1 at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook last week, listed behind six other players. But after his three-shot win at Bay Hill, his odds were trimmed to 10/1, leaving him behind only betting favorite Tiger Woods.

    Next month will mark McIlroy's fourth opportunity to close out the final leg of the career Grand Slam by slipping into a green jacket. Here's a look at the current betting odds, with the first round only 17 days away:

    8/1: Tiger Woods

    10/1: Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas

    14/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose

    16/1: Jason Day, Jon Rahm

    18/1: Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson

    25/1: Paul Casey, Bubba Watson

    30/1: Sergio Garcia, Tommy Fleetwood, Hideki Matsuyama

    40/1: Henrik Stenson, Marc Leishman

    50/1: Alex Noren

    60/1: Matt Kuchar, Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott, Tyrrell Hatton, Thomas Pieters

    80/1: Branden Grace, Brian Harman, Tony Finau, Charley Hoffman, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Cantlay

    100/1: Zach Johnson, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Webb Simpson, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Charl Schwartzel, Daniel Berger, Kevin Kisner