So Much for Lorena Slam

By Brian HewittJune 9, 2008, 4:00 pm
Well, so much for a Grand Slam in professional golf this year.
 
Oops, sorry about that, Trevor. Yes the same Trevor Immelman who birdied the last three holes in Memphis Sunday to muscle his way into a playoff eventually won by Justin Leonard, still has a theoretical chance for the calendar slam on the mens side.
 
If he wins the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines next Sunday, please deposit this column in the circular file.
 
Meanwhile, Im feeling a little melancholy for the fact that Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam tied for third'not first'after 72 holes of the McDonalds LPGA at Bulle Rock north of Baltimore Sunday.
 
No disrespect meant to Swedens long-hitting Maria Hjorth and Taiwans 19-year-old Yani Tseng. Theirs was a tense four-hole playoff in which Tseng finally prevailed with a short birdie putt to become the second youngest woman to win an LPGA major. It was also her first win of any kind on the LPGA.
 
Its just that an Ochoa victory would have marked her third straight win in a major and gotten her halfway to the 2008 Grand Slam. The attendant publicity would have resulted in a windfall of media attention for womens golf. Similarly, a Sorenstam triumph would have framed the debate in womens golf for the rest of the season:
 
Ochoa or Sorenstam?
 
Both finished one shot out of the overtime.
 
The lesson Ochoa will learn (we hope) is to never let the Golf Gods hear you say out loud in public that a golf round was easy. Thats the word she used after cruising to a 65 Friday and the 36-hole lead. It was an honest mistake by an honest person.
 
But next time, Lorena, try something like this: Gosh, I felt really comfortable out there today. Golf is never easy. But things were really going my way today.
 
We, the media, probably wont be as happy with couched phraseology. But the Golf Gods are pretty sensitive even when the hubris they hear is unintentional.
 
Ochoa struggled on the weekend, shooting scores of 72 and 71. Nothing I can do now, she said when it was over. I did my best. It wasnt my time.
 
Sorenstam could have joined Hjorth and Tseng in the playoff had she birdied the 72nd hole. If her putting had measured up to her ball-striking at Bulle Rock, she would have won going away.
 
I left a lot of shots out there, she said when it was over. Its a tough time.
 
And its probably her last time in this event. Not long ago Sorenstam announced she will leave the LPGA at the end of the year. Sounds like she isnt coming back.
 
I cant imagine an LPGA leaderboard without Annikas name on it, said LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens Sunday.
 
Nor can most of the rest of us.
 
And More.....
 
Finally, a few observations on the mens side as U.S. Open week approaches:
 
  • I am less skeptical now about the condition of Tiger Woods surgically-repaired left knee. It could turn out to be that the act of walking 72 holes takes more out of him than the act of swinging the club. But the fact that he was walking and playing Sunday at Torrey Pines, reportedly pain-free, was a very good sign.
     
  • I am waiting to hear Adam Scotts version of the report GOLF CHANNEL aired Sunday regarding the condition of the little finger on his right hand. One source, deeply embedded in the Scott camp, told GOLF CHANNEL the finger was broken three weeks ago in an incident that involved a car door slamming. More details, said the source, will have to come from Scott. Scott is still entered to play at Torrey Pines.
     
  • Vijay Singh wilted in the Sunday heat of Memphis early on the back nine and has never played especially well at Torrey Pines South, the site of this weeks national championship. If he comes up big at Torrey Pines, it will be proof-positive that the course is entirely different at the U.S. Open than it is at the Buick Invitational earlier in the year.
     
  • Englishman Luke Donald is on a hot streak that started a few Sundays ago at Wentworth in England. He once lost in a playoff to John Daly at the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines. Of all the non-bombers, Donald and Justin Leonard are at the top of my list for Torrey Pines. No European has won the U.S. Open since Tony Jacklin way back in 1970. The conventional wisdom is that only long hitters have a chance at Torrey Pines. But if the course runs as firm and fast as USGA set-up guy Mike Davis is saying, it could let players like Leonard, Donald and former U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk into the mix.
     
  • Boo Weekley has enough game to win the U.S. Open. And wouldnt that be the story of the year in golf?
     
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    McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

    By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

    The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

    McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

    McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

    ''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

    Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

    ''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

    McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

    ''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

    ''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

    The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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    Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

    By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

    If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

    Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

    If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

    Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

    Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

    I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

    A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

    And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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    Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

    Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

    The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

    Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

    “I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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    Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

    Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

    Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.