Picking Tiger Picking on Tiger

By Dena DavisMarch 19, 2008, 4:00 pm
Editor's note: As a part of the creative braintrust in the GOLF CHANNEL news department, Dena Davis thrives on uncovering compelling stories in golf for our shows, and finding unique, fresh ways to give viewers their golf news. These are her weekly thoughts, some random musings, and even a few programming notes. And she would like you to remember: It's all said in good fun.
 
You Know I Dont Speak Spanish!:
Well, nows as good of time as any to clear this up, as People magazines 2006 Hottest Bachelor is back in our lives this week in prominent fashion. Yes, as our dreamy, dapper-dressed Colombian golfer returns to the sight of his coming-out party in 06, its paramount we address the pronunciation of his name right here and ahora, so as to avoid all of those unnecessary disgruntled emails akin to those weve received over the past few years. (You know who you are!)
 
Ca-ME-lo Be-JAY-gahs. Say it with us. Camilo Villegas. Just as our British friend Tom Abbott says the English word toe-Mah-toe differently than Americans, there are varying dialects and pronunciations also within the Spanish language. (We know you know this.)
 
But in case you dont know this, we (Rich Lerner) DID ask the four-time All-America from University of Florida at the beginning of his rookie year at the 2006 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. And he clearly explained how to say his name to us on-camera. We even aired it on Golf Central. And weve been saying it that way ever since. Wont you say it with us?
 
Oh, Louise, Louise, oh, oh:
Louise Friberg. You know her, you love her! Wait. No, you probably dont. She had only played in three LPGA events before last weekend. Shoot, we all did double and triple-takes (and then squints) at the giant leaderboard in the newsroom on Sunday... when she came from TEN strokes back (only Mickey Wright and Annika have done that!) to capture the MasterCard Classic in Mexico. The Swede (she does have a victory in 2005 on the Swedish Tour) had posted opening rounds of 72 and 73. But on that day, she made an eagle, six birdies and a bogey and carded a Bosque Real course record 65 - the best score by three strokes in the final round, leaving everyone in her wake. 'I guess Sundays are my day,' Friberg said. 'A lot of times I've played good in the last round and I did today. Well, one things for certain. She picked the right sport.
 
Out of Africa. Again:
In my first entry here I jested about unattainable 3-year plans, making light of Ernie Els goals to overtake Tiger in the world rankings. In all actuality, Ive always been a huge fan of the South African, which is probably why I give him a hard time. But I will not be giving golfchannel.com reader Ronald Mutebi a difficult time about his FIVE-year plan. No, Mr. Utebi, a Uganda native now residing in Chicago, is an avid golfer (plays to a 10 handicap) who has rather noble, admirable aspirations of which I believe he can achieve. He certainly seems to have the passion.
 
You see, his dream is to introduce the underprivileged youth in his homeland to our dear game. He wrote in to me after I mentioned Ugandas celebration of 100 years of golf last week. While his country does enjoy a century-long history of the game, not all inhabitants have been able to really enjoy it. Growing up in a lower middle class family there, Mr. Utebi was not afforded the opportunity to play, as it was (and is) a game strictly for the wealthy and elite. Instead, he played soccer as a child like most Ugandan kids. It wasnt until he suffered a knee injury while living in the United States as an adult that he grabbed a set of clubs, rather than a soccer ball. Now, after living in the U.S. for almost nine years, he is outlining designs to open up a youth golf school and a practice range in the capital of Uganda where he is a member of the main golf course, Kampala GC. Mr. Utebi is quickly becoming my favorite Ugandan golfer.
 
When His Chip Comes In?:
To borrow from (the love of my life) Stephen Colbert, in today's 'Better Know a WGC-CA Competitor' segment, meet the fightin' S.S.P. Chowrasia! He's the 29-year-old son of an Indian greenskeeper. He picked up the game at the age of 10 at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club where his father worked. S.S.P. (Shiv Shankar Prasad. Say that three times fast!) is a self-taught golfer who recently claimed the biggest prize of his career when he defeated an elite field (which included Els) to win the EMAAR-MGF Indian Masters, a co-sanctioned event by the Asian Tour and European Tour. You can call him Chowrasia, or you can go with his nickname: 'Chipputtsia', given to him because of his exceptional short game. Speaking of short, aren't nicknames traditionally supposed to save time and breath? Oh well. Here's wishing that our friend Shiv Shankar Prasad 'Chipputtsia' Chowrasia's Stateside ship will come in this weekend!
 
Turrrrrble Tiger:
So, Woods stinks. I dont know what all the fuss is about the man. He cant dance. He cant sing. He CANNOT hoop (Barkley said so). Hes an awkward high-fiver. He cant play a musical instrument. He cant speak Spanish (Camilo said so). He cant perform open-heart surgery (Dr. Gil Morgan said so?). He probably has no game on the dart board (which is key). When you stop and think about it, the dude really has limited skills. Trust me. Friends of mine who have hung out with him tell me these things. (Editors note: this may or may not be credible). All I know is, I can draw and paint circles around him. I can also strum a mean Take Me Home Country Roads on the guitar. Top that, Tiger! Oh, and Id like to see him blog on this Web site THREE WEEKS IN A ROW. Now, thats a streak.
 
The Iron Is Not Unkind!:
Okay, I promise I wont be so intertwined with college basketball hoop-twine every week. But until all those nets are cut down court to course: my sports madness knows no boundaries. Surely you can understand, given this time of year. So, marching on, here are my picks for this week at Doral and The Dance:
 
WINNER:
  • That guy who stinks. (See above). Five in a row. Hes a machine. Its so utterly ridiculous, I am looking for things he CANT do, because nothing else can be said about what he CAN do unless he does it again which he will. (Cripes! Im gonna need a better thesaurus.)
     
  • Michael Beasley (I don't care what anyone says, he's the best player in college basketball. Yeah, Tyler Hansborough is great ' blah, blah, blah. But Psycho-T's got a cadre of talent around him, which makes him look better. Although, he does looks pretty silly whilst running down the court in his fist-pumping crazed celebratory high-steppin'.)
     
  • UCLA (Well, I cant very well pick Kansas! Theyve burned me and my brackets too many times in years past. The Jayhawks cannot be trusted, kids.)
     
    SLEEPER:
  • Martin Kaymer. (The 2007 European Tour ROY won his very first event in his very first start of 2008 -- the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, and then followed up that performance with a second-place finish to Tiger Woods at the Dubai Desert Classic. This 23-year old German golfer is poised to break out this weekend in an international field.
  • Purdue. (The Boilermakers should go deep with their guards.)
     
    CINDERELLA:
  • Richard Sterne. (The South African will finish in the top 10 this weekend and well all learn how to say his last name. Stir-knee.)
  • Davidson (Theyll defeat the Cinderella of yesteryear -- Gonzaga!)
     
    AVOID AT ALL COSTS:
  • Anyone bearing a surname resembling Hansen/Hanson, bro. (Soren, Anders, and Peter, respectively, have never played at Doral or in this particular tournament, nor do they have impressive WGC records.)
  • Bear Stearns stock
  • George Mason (its not 2006 anymore, people!)
     
    UPSET SPECIAL(S):
  • Sergio controlling his saliva. (The bottom of the cup at the 13th hole beckons. Can he resist lubricating it this year at Doral? We think he can.)
     
  • St. Mary's taking down The U - Miami. (If the 10th-seeded Gaels can set and keep a fast-paced tempo and spread the floor, theyll edge the seventh-seeded Canes.)
     
    HOME COOKIN FAVORITE(S):
  • Camilo Villegas. (Theres a muy grande community of Colombians in South Florida and theyll be out in full-force. Remember how Camilo fed off of that fan frenzy in 06 at the Ford Championship, finishing one stroke behind Tiger for second place? Repeaten, por favor.)
     
  • South Alabama. (At first glance, this up-and-coming mid-major doesnt seem to have much of a chance against the uber mid-major Butler. But considering the game is in BIRMINGHAM, we love the Jag's chances. Also, SoBam has the best player in their conference in their dynamic guard, the 6'4' 200 lb Demetric Bennett, who teams with two other guards to create a fierce backcourt. Giddy-up, Jags.)
     
    NEAT-O NEWCOMER TO WATCH (aka this years Prom Meesawat -- The Dolphin was a fun feel-good story in 2007. However, he sunk to a final T68.):
  • Chapchai Nirat. (His compatriots call him 'King Kong' due to his heavy hitting off the tee. The 24-year-old Thai who turned pro at age 15, recently won the 2007 TLC Classic, which is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour. That's something to beat your chest about!)
     
  • American University (I'm pretty sure this is the school Eddie Murphy said he attended in 'Coming to America'. That alone, is neat enough for me to watch the Patriot League Champs play...even if it's against Tennesee, they'll give the Vols their all.)
     
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


    CME Group Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship


    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''