Notes Mr Woods Goes To Washington

By Brian HewittMarch 7, 2007, 5:00 pm
What an interesting day for golf in the nations capital.
 
Among other things, Tiger Woods did not rule out politics in his future. The national media got wind of AT&Ts title role in Tigers new tournament on, yes, an AT&T conference call. And PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem didnt dismiss Tigers foundation partnering again with the TOUR somewhere down the road.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods makes his announcement Tuesday. (WireImage)
The focus now is on the new AT&T National Finchem said, choosing his words carefully. But when I asked him about the possibility of future official Tiger tournaments, Finchem said this: If Tiger Woods calls up in a couple of years, we will answer the phone.
 
The 31-year-old Woods has never been a megalomaniac. He has never grubbed for power. But, increasingly, he doesnt shrink from influence either. But, hey, the guy cant legally run for President until hes 35 anyway. Besides, he said, he has a lot on his plate at the moment.
 
According to Greg McLaughlin, the president of Woods' foundation and the interim tournament director of the AT&T National, Woods got one-on-one audiences Wednesday with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
 
CHANGE IS CONSTANT:
Jack Nicklaus fingerprints (Bear prints?) will be all over PGA National for next years Honda Classic; even more than they were this year as drama dominated Sundays storylines and 5 under got you in a playoff.
 
Nicklaus, tournament director Ken Kennerly told me, has already asked for ShotLink data so he can properly determine the best relationship between tee boxes and fairway bunkers to keep the event tough but fair for 2008.
 
Kennerly also said the Honda Classic is looking to extend the green forward at the 488-yard sixth hole so it is more receptive to second shots. We can also expect a new tee box at the par-3 fifth to make that hole play from 205 to 220 yards.
 
ShotLink is a proprietary PGA TOUR data system in partnership with IBM that provides a mountain of intricate statistical information. The concept that golf course architects might now begin using it regularly to aid in design details is a fascinating one.
 
The design arm of the Nicklaus empire has been in charge of architectural updates at PGA National.
 
Kennerly also said the tournament, which just completed the first year of a six-year contract as the host venue, already is in discussions to extend that agreement. If that happens, dont be surprised if Honda follows suit.
 
RAKE GATE II:
The only consistent complaint heard from the players at PGA National was that the sand was too soft in the bunkers.
 
And it reminded many players of how Nicklaus, in their minds, ambushed them last year at The Memorial, his annual tournament at Muirfield Village in Ohio. Players arrived only to find that Nicklaus had ordered the institution of gap-toothed rakes that left the bunkers in a furrowed condition that created a much more penal situation for golf balls finding the sand.
 
A quick check with sources at Muirfield Village this week resulted in this information: Nicklaus and the TOUR are still in contact over whether he will use the same rakes again this year (May 31-June 3) at The Memorial.
 
A tournament official did tell me, however, that if the same rakes are utilized this time, the players will receive ample advance warning.
 
TIME CRUNCH:
NBC-TV and the Honda Classic got stuck between a rock and a hard place Sunday when the tournament ran out of daylight and was forced to postpone its finish until Monday.
 
One alternative was to push the starting times up for the final round which would have ensured more time for the playoff. The problem with that is, what happens if there is no playoff and the tournament ends at, say, 5:30 when Honda has paid for a 3 to 6 p.m. window?
 
What happens, past history shows, is that a lot of people switch dials when the event ends and the title sponsor (Honda) gets stuck with commercials few people see.
 
Another alternative would have been to begin the playoff on a hole other than the long par-5 18th which, with four players in overtime, took agonizingly long to complete.
 
Maybe, in hindsight, you play the 17th (a par-3) first, a tournament official told me.
 
The other part of the tough spot the Honda Classic found itself in was a unique one. It was the first PGA TOUR event of the year in the East Coast time zone. And it was the last one before daylight savings time kicks in this week. Theoretically, the PODS Championship wont have the same problem this Sunday because it will have an extra hour of daylight.
 
GOOD MAN:
Tournament director Gerald Goodman figures it will have been 17 weeks since the final putt dropped in last Octobers Chrysler Championship at Innisbrook and the first tee shot is struck at the same venue this Thursday for the PODS Championship.
 
Goodman says the last day off his staff received was July 4, 2006. It helps, he says, that he once worked as a football coach. The quick turnaround coupled with the change in title sponsors, he says, make this a tough logistical challenge.
 
Meanwhile, he said recently, You cant imagine how many things Im trying to get printed that say PODS on them.
 
COACH:
Honda Classic winner Mark Wilson now ranks seventh on the PGA TOUR money list and will qualify for his first Masters if he remains in the top 10 for three more weeks.
 
Wilson benefited greatly from a 90-minute session on the range the Tuesday before Honda with swing instructor Jim Suttie.
 
Suttie made an adjustment that enabled Wilson to keep the ball lower in the winds that swirl around PGA National. And he reminded Wilson of a putting drill during which Wilson putts at a bottle, not the hole, on the practice green. The idea behind the drill, Suttie told me, is to get the player to stroke the ball more firmly, especially on Bermuda greens.
 
As for Wilsons future now that he is almost a million dollars richer?
 
He needed to get that money thing off his tail, Suttie said. I predict he will be like one of the boys now and when he shows up itll be like, How much money am I gonna make this week.
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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.