Weekend Review

By Brian HewittFebruary 3, 2003, 5:00 pm
  • If anybody had asked me, I would have told them that:
     
  • Phil Mickelson was within his rights at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic when he asked out of the 'celebrity' rotation. But it was a wrong-headed decision.
     
    In Mickelson's defense, he let tournament officials know weeks in advance that, even though he was the defending champion, he didn't want to be part of the glitz. Conventional wisdom among the players says playing with the celebrities the first four days of this 90-hole event will cost three to four strokes because of all the distractions.
     
  • But Mickelson was the first defending champion since 1977 to play outside the spotlight. And it is hard to figure how a player who was so wildly popular at the U.S. Open last summer would want to risk a public relations blemish. But that's what this has become for him now.
     
    Again in Mickelson's defense: He signs more autographs than almost anybody on Tour and he is one of the best clubhouse tippers in professional golf. He cares about people. It's his judgment on issues like the Hope controversy that sometimes let him down.
     
    Mickelson tied for sixth. The player who replaced him in the celebrity draw, Joey Sindelar finished 16th. The difference in their 90-hole stroke totals? Three shots.
     
  • If Annika Sorenstam decides to play in the B.C. Open opposite the British Open in mid-July, it will be a bigger 'story' in the sporting media than Ernie Els' title defense at Royal St. George's.
     
    This is a stunning fact. But watch how many daily newspaper sports editors assign their golf writers to cover Annika in New York instead of the men across the pond. You might be surprised.
     
  • The most interesting golf course, in my opinion, for Annika to play against the men would be Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth. Colonial plays shorter than its listed 7,080 yards. As recently as 1996 short-hitting Corey Pavin won there. Would Ben Hogan, whose statue dominates the club's grounds, turn over in his grave at the prospect of Annika in the field? Maybe. Remember, Hogan is the same guy who refused to have a guest room included when he built a house near at nearby Shady Oaks because he didn't want to have to entertain out of town guests.
     
  • For Mike Weir, a Canadian, this is about as good as its gets. First he birdies the last three holes to beat Jay Haas and win the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic by two shots Sunday for his first Tour win in more than a year. Then he moves on to the Monterey Peninsula for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am where his partner will be countryman Wayne Gretzky, a hockey legend and boyhood idol.
     
  • Greg Norman has played his last Masters. At 47 this somehow doesn't seem right. But he needed to finish in the top 16 last year to get invited back. He shot 75 on Sunday for a share of 36th place when he needed 69 to get in the top 16.
     
    Norman's is probably THE sympathetic figure in the tournament's storied history. But Masters chairman Hootie Johnson isn't finding much sympathy in his heart for anybody these days. Johnson is a progressive at heart. He's just having a bad year.
     
  • Sources say Jack Nicklaus, 63, hasn't decided whether he will play at Augusta. But if his debut at the weekends inaugural Champions Tour event in Hawaii is any indication, the Bear will be at the Masters in April. It will likely be his third-to-last appearance at the tournament because of new eligibility guidelines engineered by Johnson.
     
    Come to think of it, Jack may bow out after next year, thereby having the satisfaction of leaving the tournament on his own terms. A Masters without six-time champion Nicklaus doesn't sound right either.
     
  • It got my attention when baseball player Ken Griffey Jr., in a televised interview from the Hope last week, said Tiger Woods' recovery from knee surgery was going slower than expected. Hmmmm. Griffey is one of Woods' close Orlando pals.
  • Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

    Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

    Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

    Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

    SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

    Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

    ''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

    But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

    In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

    ''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

    Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

    The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

    ''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

    NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

    Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."