In Support of Compton

By Brian HewittNovember 21, 2008, 5:00 pm
The Comebacker begins this edition with a sampling of the heavy dose of Erik Compton e-mails. Compton, in case youve been ice-fishing outside of Reykjavik, last Saturday missed advancing to Q-Schools final stage by one agonizing shot.
 
He has had two heart transplants but, at the moment, has no status on the PGA or Nationwide Tours. He isnt even sure if he will be able to find health insurance for all of 2008. And the medical bills are mounting, not to mention that his wife is pregnant with their first child.
 
So, without further ado:
 
Ray writes: Our hearts are clenching for him. Is there nothing that we can do to help some kind of fund? He needs his medicine, and his health insurance, both for himself and his pregnant wife. We are praying. But is there anything else we can do?
 
The Comebacker
Keep praying. And maybe a benefactor will get word of Comptons plight. Its interesting to note that there is concern that Tour players might not get courtesy cars at every stop next year while Erik Compton might not get the anti-rejection heart meds he needs to keep himself alive.
 

Lynn writes: Someone needs to get out there and help him. Give him exemptions to play and somehow help pay his insurance. I would watch someone like him over all of the egos that are out there now. There are enough players out there making a lot of money and instead of spending it on big houses and cars they can help one of (their) fellow players.
 
The Comebacker
There is no shortage of worthwhile causes in the world, especially in this economy. But if the Tour players want to take care of one of their own kind, they could do worse than starting with Compton.
 

Terry writes: As we each go through our own life challenges, and Erik Compton's makes most of ours seem like small potatoes, there are two quotes on my office wall that help guide me. The first is a card with the following quote: A bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn. Erik Compton has made the turn in a big way. I trust he will win at every stage of life; he has already qualified. The second quote is the classic from Sir Winston Churchill: Never, Never, Never give up. Erik Compton is a winner no matter what criteria you are using; he just happens to be one stoke short on this opportunity.
 
The Comebacker
Of all the stories The Comebacker rooted for this year, Compton was at the top of the list.
 

Dave writes: It should be no surprise to anyone about the withdrawal of the (courtesy) cars. This is the first of more to come. Nobody and I do mean nobody in the paying audience of the golf tournament wants to hear one peep of complaint from the players. I would hope that many of the Tour players are at times a bit embarrassed by the treatment they get. If they aren't, then shame on them. Many perks I'm sure are way over the top. The once revered Wachovia Championship appears to be headed for something closer to the John Deere Classic after 2010 when the contract is up. Snap back to reality boys ' it will not and should not be the same. It's time to start worrying about the health of the (T)our and WAY less about each player. If the prize money is there, then the players should play. If they don't play or complain about the perks, then as a player, be prepared to duck! And while they're at it, maybe they could take a few pointers from what the LPGA is doing to improve their (t)our. The objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.
 
The Comebacker
There will be a reckoning in 2009. The only question is how big it will be. But, meanwhile, the biggest adjustment will be made by the big stars under the age of 30. Those are the guys who have never known it any other way: Courtesy cars; on-site dry cleaning etc. etc. Dave is right. Nobody is going to want to hear a peep.
 

Roger writes: Phil, It was great to see you in Singapore last week at the Barclays Singapore Open. I suspect you were well treated, and didnt hear any idiots shouting in the hole. Im sure you will agree that the courses too are as good as others anywhere in the USA or Europe. So whats my point? Why was it only you here representing the USA? Ok, so I know you are sponsored by Barclays, but surely some of your friends on the PGA Tour must be at least a little bit intrigued by what its like over here? Why dont you ask a few of your fellow PGA Tour stars to join you next time you come, or even suggest they make their own way here? We watch the PGA Tour on the Golf Channel, and enjoy the golf, but we never get to see you live in action, and you never get to see the other side of the world, which in all probability is where the future of the game lies. Or is it all just about the money?
 
The Comebacker
Roger, I still dont get your point. How is it Phil Mickelsons fault that other golfers didnt play in Singapore? And, sorry pal, but the golf courses in Asia are not as good as others anywhere in the USA or Europe.
 

Gerry writes: The sweetest sound I remember, if regretfully gone forever, was the sound of a squarely struck persimmon driver on a wound balata ball. That was true feedback. The oversized, high MOI titanium tennis rackets we play with today make the same annoying metallic bplink (and produce consistent results) regardless of where on the face contact is made.
 
The Comebacker
How do I pronounce bplink?
 

Emmitt writes: In terms of Tiger not playing much in Texas, I was always of the opinion that the PGA Tour insists these guys play a 'regular' tour event at least once in five years (see LPGA). With the situation with the economy on a roller-coaster ride, which will not slow down for awhile and will reverberate throughout the world of sport, including golf, studs like Tiger, Phil, Sergio and Anthony Kim should be asked (forced) to support some of the lesser-known tournaments which may not survive this latest crash.
 
The Comebacker
This mandatory rotation rule is an idea whose time may come very soon on the PGA Tour.
 

Charles writes: My pet peeve is the guys who will grab the flagstick and stand next to the hole while you are trying to make a 2-3-foot putt. It invariably causes the player putting to hurry the putt. The guys I play with are now all well trained and I have quit being nice and told them to move. Along the same line some players will stand back but still within your vision circle and then will begin to move towards the hole when you begin your back swing. Thanks for letting me vent and I feel better already.
 
The Comebacker
Comebacker loves those pet peeves.
 

Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt

Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


FALLING

J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

"The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

"Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

BORN IN 1912

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.


BORN IN 1949

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.


BORN IN 1955

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1956-57

Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


EUROPE'S BIG 5

Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1969-70

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.


BORN IN 1980

Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.