Who and What in American Golf
ITEM: Tim Petrovic wins the Zurich Classic of New Orleans Sunday.
ITEM: Tim Petrovic is the first American to become a first-time winner on the PGA Tour in 2005.
ITEM: Tim Petrovic is 38 years old.
ITEM: There is only one American under the age of 30 currently ranked among the world's top 35 players.
ITEM: That player is Tiger Woods.
ITEM: Woods will be 30 in December.
ITEM: There are only two other Americans--Charles Howell and Zach Johnson--under the age of 30 and ranked in the top 50. Johnson will be 30 on his next birthday.
Before anybody pushes a panic button here it should be noted that there is a general paucity of players in their 20s from all countries in the world's top 50. Maybe that, too, is hinting at a trend. There is Luke Donald and Paul Casey and Ian Poulter and Tim Clark and Graeme McDowell and, of course, Adam Scott and Sergio Garcia.
Players these days keep winning into their 40s--Vijay Singh being the most notable example--and there is less room for the young guns to unholster their talents. But it is impossible in this country not to wonder why the Tiger Woods phenomenon hasn't unleashed a whole generation of American prodigies behind him. Lord knows, the talent pool in our country is big enough and deep enough.
Lucas Glover has two top 10s in the last two weeks. Hunter Mahan and D.J. Trahan have rhyming last names and a world of potential. Bill Haas has stalled, at least momentarily. And Ryan Moore, perhaps the best young American golfer, is still an amateur. Jonathan Byrd, 28, has won twice on Tour but hasn't done much yet this year. Ben Crane, yet another 29-year-old American, has won once. Same for Ryan Palmer and Vaughn Taylor. Ben Curtis had one magical week. Arron Oberholser and J.J. Henry are already 30. Joe Ogilvie is 31. John Rollins, another one-time American winner, is 30 next month.
So what are we to conclude here? Did Tiger scare all the other American boys into other sports? Did Tiger inspire more American girls (Michelle Wie, Morgan Pressel, Paula Creamer, just to name three) than he did American boys?
If you are a fan of the American Ryder Cup team, you want answers to these questions. Wie aspires to play on the PGA Tour one day and I admire the fact that she doesn't limit her goals. But with due respect to the Wie family, we shouldn't be counting on her to change the fact that the Americans have won just one of the last five of these things.
This stuff goes in cycles, the golf sages tell us. Look at the young Englishmen at the moment. Besides Donald, Casey and Poulter there is Justin Rose and David Howell and Nick Daugherty. South Africa has Trevor Immelman and Clark. The Aussies have Scott, Aaron Baddeley and a young man named Steven Bowditch, from whom you will be hearing plenty.
It is not yet time to become fully impatient in the United States with regard to all of this. But that faint sound you hear right now is the drumming of fingertips on the tabletops of doubt by a lot of American critics.
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Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play
ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.
Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.
As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.
Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.
This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.
The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.
Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain
PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.
She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.
“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.
Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.
“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”
She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.
“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”
Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.
“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.
She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.
“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”
Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.
While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.
“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”
Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead
PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.
In fact, she named her “Mona.”
For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.
While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.
And that has her excited about this year.
Well, that and having a healthy back again.
“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”
Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”
Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.
She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”
Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.
Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders
PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.
Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.
Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.
Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.