Of Tiger Tolkien and Sam Alexis
Until that time, everybody will have to wait and wonder at the significance of the first name, Sam, and the middle name, Alexis.
Meanwhile, strictly by coincidence we assume because there was no mention of Woods in the story, The Wall Street Journal ran a long piece in its Friday editions with the headline The Baby-Name Business.
Among other things, the WSJ reported there have been 80 baby-name books published in just the last three years. More than 100 web sites exist for the purpose of helping parents name their children.
There are even baby-name consultants who charge up to $350 for a package that can include three half-hour phone calls. In Sweden and Denmark the government reserves the right to reject baby-names officials think might subject the child to ridicule. Names turned down by Big Brother in Sweden include Veranda, Ikea and Metallica. Babynamesworld.com, according to WSJ, draws up to 600,000 visitors a day.
No way of knowing at the moment if Tiger and Elin consulted anybody outside of family and friends before settling on Sam Alexis. The only safe assumption is, if they did, they were advised not to name the baby Phil.
Who knew baby-naming was a cottage industry of such size and volume? And who, for that matter, knew people were paying such close attention to the selection of the name of the first born child of the No. 1 golfer in the world?
The following is the text from an E-mail I received from a woman named Stephanie Simmons, who claims to have an insight into why Sam and why Alexis. Part of me wants to dismiss her theory out of hand. Part of me was fascinated reading her E-mail. And part of me was convinced I had to share her message with the other loyal readers of this column. There are, after all, a large majority of readers who cant ever get enough Tiger Woods in this space.
The E-Mail from Ms. Simmons:
You are probably sick of hearing from me about now, but I wanted to share this theory on the name of Tigers baby, and I actually got the idea from Tiger himself.
On Thursdays press conference (at Oakmont), I heard Tiger say something that was oddly worded. The question involved golf and making the cut, and Tiger said something to the effect that its only golf and not the end of all things. That immediately caught my ear. No, not because Tiger was saying to the world of rabid golfers that there was something much more important than golf, but it was the expression. I was watching the conference with my mother, a retired school teacher, and my daughter, the recently graduated junior golfer. I thought to myself it was odd that he said that, and my mother commented, Tiger must be an avid reader. I said, You caught that, too?! Tiger must be a Tolkien fan.
Specifically, The Lord of the Rings. The end of all things is what Frodo says to his gardener and dear friend after the destruction of The Ring on Mount Doom, when it appears that the two will not escape the erupting volcano. Sitting on a fractured piece of rock, surrounded by creeping lava and noxious fumes, the two Hobbits discuss briefly the Shire they left behind and fought to save, and who they would have married had they survived the trek. Frodo, gasping for air, turns to his friend, Sam, and says, Im glad to be with you Samwise Gamgee, here at the end of all things. Its a famous line, made more famous by the recent films. Many people dont know that director Peter Jackson almost cast the role of Sam as female, rather than the male Harfoot Hobbit. When I heard him say that, I said aloud.the babys name is Sam!!! My mother immediately agreed. My daughter chimed in that it would be weird if he said that by accident or coincidence.
Now, I thought for sure that meant Baby Woods was a boy, not a girl.but here she is!!!! J. R. R. Tolkien was once asked who the greatest hero of the tales was in his opinion. He answered that there were many: Frodo, Faramir, Gandalf, Aragorn, Eowyn.but by far the most humble, noble of heart was Sam. I agree.
I am not the only person who noticed this comment. On Saturday at a concession stand, near the practice range, I overheard two men talking about it. I took my daughter over to see Tiger practicing (he was about to come out in about five minutes) and the men were there again, still talking about it. One asked aloud why he thought Tiger mentioned that line. Several people started discussing why they thought he mentioned it. The general consensus was that he was doing some introspection before the birth of his child. My daughter and I just nodded..
..Alexis is a strong, victorious name as well. If history (Alexander and Alexandria) and Tolkien literature have been the inspiration, he wouldnt be the first to name his child after a Tolkien character. Sam is a great name, boy or girl. But note, her name is not Samantha.it is Sam. Sam is the noblest of heroes. Good name.
So there you have it. Sure, its got a little Twilight Zone feel to it. But remember, Johnny Miller recently talked about a woman at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont who insisted, every day, that he was going to win the championship. He didnt know the woman and he didnt know why she had singled him out. But he did win.
So if any of this is true, Oakmont appears to be something of a spawning ground for golf mythology.
For my part, I am not ready to make the leap that the name of the Woods baby is derived from Tolkiens lore. For that matter, I dont know Tolkien from Tolstoy when it comes to literature recall.
Heres what I do know:
First, The Wall Street Journal thinks enough of baby-naming to devote enough space in its pages for a full-blown feature. And second, if it does come to pass that Tiger and Elin reveal a connection between Sam Alexis and Tolkiens writings, I will not be surprised.
Or maybe well learn they just decided they were going to name their first child after Sam Snead.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
Rahm (62) takes early lead at CareerBuilder
The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:
Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)
What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.
Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.
Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.
Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.
Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.
Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.
"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."
Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.
Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.
"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.
Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.
Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.
Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.
The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.
Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta
Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.
The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.
It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.
"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."
Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.
Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.
"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."