Set It On Vibrate Please

By Brian HewittApril 11, 2008, 4:00 pm
The Comebacker is geeked for The Masters. And he is looking to make next weeks edition an all-Masters related Comebacker.
So save up your best stuff and let it fly starting Monday in the wake of the conclusion of Sundays toonamint.
Meanwhile, we clean up a few comebacking odds and ends here as we anxiously await the denouement of the years first major.
Earl writes:My Grandson slipped his cell phone into a practice round at the Masters and was caught using it and he was asked to leave plus they took his ticket and escorted him off the course. Why not do the same with people with cameras? I chose to go with him so I am well aware of the events.
The Comebacker I believe they do do the same for people with cameras. Let me check with Stevie on this and get back to you.

George writes:I think Jerry Seinfeld expressed displeasure on his hit show Seinfeld without using foul language..Whenever I hit a bad shot or feel the need to use profanity, I just say 'Newman' in a condescending and nasty tone.
The Comebacker Matt Kuchar, back when he was at Georgia Tech, would say, Cornbread when he hit a bad shot. Maybe Tiger could just say, Phil or Vijay or Rory to let off steam.

Steve writes: Just a mini rant here. When a player hits a spectator with his errant shot the player usually walks over and says sorry and tosses them his golf ball. That is totally lame. The classiest thing to do is to copy Greg Norman. I was watching a Canadian Skins game a few years ago when Greg sprayed his tee shot into the gallery. Not only did he go over to apologize, he instructed his caddie to get the guys address so he could send him a golf shirt, hat and a dozen balls. I know this because Greg was miked at the time. Not only was this a total class act it was the right thing to do.
The Comebacker For some reason, a lot of people have felt the need to dump on Norman over the years for slights, real or imagined. Its nice to hear a feel good story about The Shark.

Bob writes:Tiger Woods needs to rise to two levels. Who could question the reality he may very well be the best golfer who ever lived and that's made him an American icon? But with that comes a far greater responsibility, especially as a man of color who has successfully shattered so many race barriers. For Tiger, nothing could be more important than to seal his image as a great champion, and that requires the inclusion of demeanor and character. Golf, in itself, is the athletic definition of frustration and those past champions who have displayed grace, class and sportsmanship are the ones who are now most endeared. Tiger's role in American history has no room for character flaws. And, anything less than perfection, concerning manners and conduct, will be perceived in the harshest manner. It's time for Tiger to realize his quest to be technically perfect needs to be paired with near perfect personal characteristics in order to survive intense media scrutiny. Simply being the world's greatest golfer will not be enough.
The Comebacker We salute Bobs articulation and eloquence. We pick one nit, however: Saying, Tigers role in American history has no room for character flaws. First of all, Tiger hasnt announced his candidacy for President yet. Secondly, there have been plenty of American Presidents with plenty of character flaws.

Hiro writes:Is it just me, or is everyone ignoring the potential here with Lorena Ochoa? When Tiger wins two majors in a row there's the talk of another Tiger Slam and maybe even a sweep in same season. But Lorena Ochoa is silently showing dominance over everyone else (with no one really in contention, or closing the leadership gap). And there's hardly any talk of a 'Tiger' Slam? Is she just too nice and quiet a person for anyone to root her on? Is the LPGA just too boring for anyone to care (imagine if Tiger didn't have the Phils and the Vijays and the Geoffs)? I think if Annika or Paula Creamer were in this same position, things would be a little different. It's sad. Ochoa is about as dominant as anyone else in sports in their league right now and she's being ignored. The saddest thing is I'm personally not too excited by the prospect of a LPGA dominant player either. LPGA was interesting to me because at any time, anyone could win. It's not like watching the PGA (for unknown reason)... where it's the coolest thing to have a Tiger around. Your thoughts on why? Marketing problem with LPGA?
The Comebacker Lorena is not boring to me. If she wins the next womens major, you will see a marketing campaign by the LPGA and a media awareness the likes of which we havent witnessed in womens golf in a long time. Finally this: Dominant players never bother The Comebacker.
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    Top-ranked amateur Niemann one back at LAAC in Chile

    By Nick MentaJanuary 21, 2018, 8:44 pm

    Argentina’s Jaime Lopez Rivarola leads the Latin America Amateur Championship at 5 under par following a round of 3-under 68 Saturday in Chile.

    The former Georgia Bulldog is now 36 holes from a trip to Augusta.

    He is followed on the leaderboard by the three players who competed in the playoff that decided last year’s LAAC in Panama: Joaquin Niemann (-4), Toto Gana (-4), and Alvaro Ortiz (-3).

    Chile’s Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who currently holds conditional status on the Tour and is poised to begin his career as a professional, unless of course he takes the title this week. After a disappointing 74 in Round 1, Niemann was 10 shots better in Round 2, rocketing up the leaderboard with a 7-under 64.

    Niemann’s fellow Chilean and best friend Gana is the defending champion who missed the cut at the Masters last year and is now a freshman at Lynn University. His second-round 70 was a roller coaster, complete with six birdies, three eagles and a double.

    Mexico’s Ortiz, the brother of three-time Tour winner Carlos, was 6 under for the week before three back-nine bogeys dropped him off the pace.

    Two past champions, Matias Dominguez and Paul Chaplet, sit 5 over and 7 over, respectively.

    The winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship earns an invite to this year’s Masters. He is also exempt into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open sectional qualifying, and Open Championship final qualifying.

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    McIlroy gets back on track

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

    There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

    He is well ahead of schedule.

    Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

    “Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

    To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

    And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

    Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

    “I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

    The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

    The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

    But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

    Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

    Everything in his life is lined up.

    Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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    Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

    Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

    There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

    Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

    The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.