Ride Boo Ride

By Brian HewittOctober 10, 2008, 4:00 pm
The Comebacker is feeling a little snarky today. So look out below.
Without further ado:
Alex writes Sad, I was hoping (Paul) Azinger's Ryder Cup regret would be telling the crowd to cheer for Europe's missed putts or controlling Boo's tacky behaviour.
The Comebacker This is in response to a column in which Azinger said his lone regret at Valhalla was not being on the tee box at the Friday afternoon fourball match in which Boo Weekley and J.B. Holmes both hit drives in the water, allowing the Euros to escape with a halved match. Me thinks Alex is a Euro. The tip-off? Notice the way he spells behavior.

R.W. writes That guy (Boo Weekley) is the worst thing to happen on the PGA Tour. He is an embarrassment to the history and tradition of this great sport.
The Comebacker
Wrong. If there were more Boo Weekleys on golfs landscape, the history and tradition of this great sport would richer and more colorful for it. Ride, Boo, ride.

Norman writes It's a shame to see the talents of John Daly not being used to the fullest. His talent is obvious; the demons too much to overcome, I guess. John, I wish you well! Please get it together, man!
The Comebacker
Almost all of us wish John Daly would get it together, man. But it looks, more and more, like we might be waiting a long time.

Warren writes Every time they have a tournament somebody will win it. I haven't seen the type of long term consistent play that makes me believe that the landscape of PGA (Tour) golf will change next year ' assuming that Tiger Woods returns at 75 percent of his previous performance level or more.
The Comebacker
Love your first sentence, bro. You have a tenacious grasp of the obvious.

Thomas writes I think you should stay out of politics, but if you dont you should at least be balanced. Everyone talks about (Sarah) Palins inexperience but no one mentions the top of the Democrat ticket being a man with LESS experience than she has. He was in the Senate for TWO years, but somehow he is okay and she is not? Shame on you!
The Comebacker
Have you heard of the great new golf course ' Bridge To Nowhere CC? It is, as you might imagine, not very linksy.

Dianne writes I do hope you are wrong about Tigers maybe not playing until the U.S. Open, but I do also worry that what if he comes back too soon and does more damage which would mean he would be out longer or, God forbid, he would do serious damage that could be career ending? I am a HUGE Tiger fan and miss him terribly, but I hope in the end he will do what is best for him and his career. But it sure feels like he has been gone forever. Oh, and those young guns had better keep watching their backs because when he does come back ' the game will be on!!!
The Comebacker
Tigers return will be terrific, yes, on that point we can all agree. But it will only be terrific if it doesnt turn out to be too soon.

Vernon writes While watching Michelle Wie suffer over the past two years, I have noticed that much of her problems occur on her drives. Last year, she had the excuse of having broken wrists; this year she still was having problems finding the fairways on her drives. Since David Leadbetter is supposed to be such a good swing instructor, why can't he straighten out her drives? I am sure he is getting enough compensation. What is he doing to earn it? I would appreciate knowing if you know or can find out.
The Comebacker
Leadbetter has earned the right to look at Michelles problem from the other direction: Imagine how far off line her drives would be if she did NOT have Leadbetter around to correct her problems.

Micheal writes We are excited to send this e-mail to you for promoting our newest mirror finish, surf vacuum flask. This flask not only has (a) magic attractive nice design, but also (is) made (with) best quality material, highest grade technology. It was originally developed for Korean market.
The Comebacker
Hmmmm, a flask I think Im going to have to pass this concept on to my good friend, the Golf Guy.

Vernon writes It has been a pleasure to watch more golf since Tiger Woods is not there. You do not keep seeing replay after replay of his swing and gushing of the announcers. Now, we get to see other good players perform. Maybe Woods should just stay home and count his money. He has a new (child) coming and he could just babysit.
The Comebacker
If Woods stays home, Im writing to Secretary Paulson asking for some of that $700 billion bailout money.

Edward writes What in the world was Lee Westwood thinking when he told Kelly Tilghman that the crowd 'abused' him? I refereed youth soccer for 15 years, and if there is one thing as certain as death and taxes it is that, once the crowd knows you hear them, they will ramp up the volume exponentially. Lee needs to find a good ear transplant surgeon immediately and replace his rabbit ears with tin ears. Otherwise, he risks becoming the next Colin Montgomerie. It will be interesting to see what happens next time he plays in the U.S.
The Comebacker

Garry writes There can be no doubts at all about Danny Lee's phenomenal talent. I have no idea as to whether he arrived at his decision to remain amateur for the time being on his own, but I suspect his mother may have had something to do with it. If so, she is to be congratulated! Keep the financial predators away for at least a year and let us see whether the lad has it in him to become a latter day Bobby Jones. Golf needs a breath of fresh Corinthian air!
The Comebacker
And, as Ricardo Montalban might add, some fine Corinthian leather, too.

Tod writes Just a thought, but how in the world does Camilo (Villegas) win two playoff tournaments including the ultimate Tour Championship and not win the FedEx Cup? I did some quick math and despite missing the cut in the first, he won over $200,000 more than Vijay in the four playoff events. The system theyre using is definitely flawed.
The Comebacker
Ya think?

Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
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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.”