'Angry' Poulter in search of a needed turnaround

By Doug FergusonNovember 11, 2014, 10:01 pm

SHANGHAI - Ian Poulter temporarily stopped a slide that had him pointed in a direction he has not been in nearly a decade.

He has not been out of the top 50 in the world since Sept. 10, 2006.

Poulter lost ground on the leaders with a 72-71 weekend in the HSBC Champions, though it still was good enough to tie for sixth. That allowed him to move up four spots in the world ranking to No. 40 going into the Turkish Airlines Open this week.

Even so, it was only his third top-10 finish of the year. He tied for fifth in the China Open and tied for sixth in the St. Jude Classic. And while his chip-in on the 15th hole in the Ryder Cup was the turning point in earning a halve with Rory McIlroy in fourballs, it was his first Ryder Cup without winning a match (0-1-2).

And, yes, he's aware of all this.

''I've had three injuries this year and I'm angry,'' Poulter said last week. ''I'm angry at the position I've put myself in. I'm annoyed that I wasn't able to take the time off I needed playing two schedules.''

The upside is that he is happy with his switch to Titleist clubs, he feels fit and he is ''fresh in the mind.''

Poulter made news for reasons he wasn't expecting when he published his book, ''No Limits,'' and excerpts led to former PGA of America President Ted Bishop referring to him as a ''Lil Girl'' for his candid comments about Nick Faldo and Tom Watson. Bishop wound up losing his job.

''The book wasn't a distraction,'' Poulter said. ''It was just an unfortunate circumstance, which was stressful.''

Poulter plans to do a formal launch in London after the European Tour season ends in Dubai. But there won't be much of an offseason. Depending on how he fares the next two weeks, Poulter said he might start his season in Hawaii at the Sony Open, which he hasn't played in 10 years.


MEDAL OF FREEDOM: Charlie Sifford spent a lifetime breaking color barriers in golf. His next stop is a place he never would have imagined. Sifford is going to the White House to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom

The first black member of the PGA Tour was among 19 people chosen to receive the highest honor granted to U.S. civilians. Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus are the only other golfers so honored. The ceremony is Nov. 24.

Sifford, 92, broke through the Caucasian-only clause on the PGA, which was rescinded in 1961 when he became the first black on tour. Sifford won twice on the PGA Tour. He also won the 1975 Senior PGA Championship.

Tiger Woods congratulated him with a tweet Monday night that said, ''You're the grandpa I never had. Your past sacrifices allow me to play golf today. I'm so happy for you Charlie.''

Sifford became the first black inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004. He said during his induction that he only had five goals in golf - to become a PGA member, win a PGA event, playing in the U.S. Open, play in the Masters and get inducted into the Hall of Fame. He never made it to the Masters, which did not start inviting PGA Tour winners until a few years after his victories in the 1967 Greater Hartford Open and 1969 Los Angeles Open.

President Barack Obama saluted the President Medal of Freedom honorees as citizens who have made ''extraordinary contributions to our country and the world.''


ISLAND MAN: Justin Rose of England has returned to living under the realm of Queen Elizabeth II.

Only the weather is a lot nicer.

Rose has moved his family from Florida to the Bahamas, where he has owned property at Albany the last few years. They moved right after the British Open and have made that their permanent residence. At least for now.

''We're having a great time,'' Rose said. ''We had a place there for two or three years, and obviously over time we developed a lot of friendships. With the facilities they've created for us, I have the opportunity to practice and be the best player I want to be and spend time with my family. There are a few more natural hobbies than I had in Orlando, fun things to do to get away from golf. I thought it would be good to have a nice, healthy place to be and spend time with the kids.''

His oldest child, Leo, has already started kindergarten.

How long this lasts is still to be determined. Rose said he has not sold his home at Lake Nona until he is certain this is the right move.

''We've taken a leap of faith, but we're not all in. We're kind of hedging,'' he said.

Rose said travel is not an issue. He flies private about 80 percent of the time, and there are enough direct flights out of the Bahamas to the right cities to make travel easy.

And he won't have to travel far to play in the Hero World Challenge that Tiger Woods hosts. Woods also has a place in Albany, and his December tournament is expected to move there in 2015.

''Are you kidding? It's right on my door step,'' Rose said. ''Sign me up now.''


OCHOA'S TIME: Perhaps one of the few good things that came out of the World Hall of Fame revamping its process is that it clears a path for Lorena Ochoa.

The Mexican star stunned the golf world in April 2010 when she announced her retirement at age 28. Ochoa had more than the required 27 points to qualify for the Hall of Fame, but she was lacking the minimum 10 years on the LPGA Tour. Ochoa walked away from golf after eight years.

Now that's no longer necessary.

Under the new criteria, female candidates must be at least 40 years old at the start of the year she is elected or at least five years removed from the game.

LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan said in an email that Ochoa will be eligible for the 2017 class.

Then it would be up to a subcommittee to nominate her, and for 12 of the 16 people on the selection committee to vote for her.


DIVOTS: Rickie Fowler, who has been a member at Medalist, recently joined the Bear's Club, both in Jupiter, Florida. ''Just to be able to play both places,'' he said. ''There are good games at both places. The Bear's Club has a little better practice facilities.''... Aberdeen Asset Management and the Scottish government have agreed to extend their sponsorship and support of the Scottish Open through 2020. It is being held next year at Gullane. ... Daric Ashford has been appointed president of Nike Golf, replacing Cindy Davis. Daric has been at Nike for 21 years, most recently as vice president and general manager of Jordan Brand for North America. ... John Daly will host a six-part series on SiriusXM PGA Tour radio this December called, ''Hit It Hard with John Daly.''


STAT OF THE WEEK: Tim Clark has had at least one runner-up finish every season since 2004.


FINAL WORD: ''No. Me? Are you kidding? No. That is not happening. Because ... that's not happening. It would not be good.'' - Ian Poulter, on whether he would ever agree to wear a microphone on the golf course.

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Garcia 2 back in weather-delayed Singapore Open

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 3:06 pm

SINGAPORE - Danthai Boonma and Chapchai Nirat built a two-stroke lead over a chasing pack that includes Sergio Garcia and Ryo Ishikawa midway through the third round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open on Saturday.

The Thai golfers were locked together at 9 under when play was suspended at the Sentosa Golf Club for the third day in a row because of lightning strikes in the area.

Masters champion Garcia and former teen prodigy Ishikawa were among seven players leading the chase at 7 under on a heavily congested leaderboard.

Garcia, one of 78 players who returned to the course just after dawn to complete their second rounds, was on the 10th hole of his third round when the warning siren was sounded to abruptly end play for the day.

''Let's see if we can finish the round, that will be nice,'' he said. ''But I think if I can play 4-under I should have a chance.''

The Spanish golfer credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his first major championship title at Augusta National because of the stifling humidity of southeast Asia and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament.


Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore in 2017, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the subsequent week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later. He is feeling confident of his chances of success this weekend.

''I felt like I hit the ball OK,'' Garcia said. ''My putting and all went great but my speed hasn't been great on this green so let's see if I can be a little more aggressive on the rounds this weekend.''

Ishikawa moved into a share of the lead at the halfway stage after firing a second round of 5-under 66 that featured eight birdies. He birdied the first two holes of his third round to grab the outright lead but slipped back with a double-bogey at the tricky third hole for the third day in a row. He dropped another shot at the par-5 sixth when he drove into a fairway bunker.

''It was a short night but I had a good sleep and just putted well,'' Ishikawa said. The ''greens are a little quicker than yesterday but I still figured (out) that speed.

Ishikawa was thrust into the spotlight more than a decade ago. In 2007, he became the youngest player to win on any of the major tours in the world. He was a 15-year-old amateur when he won the Munsingwear Open KSB Cup.

He turned pro at 16, first played in the Masters when he was 17 and the Presidents Cup when he was 18. He shot 58 in the final round to win The Crowns in Japan when he was 19.

Now 26, Ishikawa has struggled with injuries and form in recent years. He lost his PGA Tour card and hasn't played in any of the majors since 2015. He has won 15 times as a professional, but has never won outside his homeland of Japan.

Chapchai was able to sleep in and put his feet up on Saturday morning after he completed his second round on Friday.

He bogeyed the third but reeled off three birdies in his next four holes to reach 9-under with the back nine still to play.

Danthai was tied for 12th at the halfway stage but charged into a share of the lead with seven birdies in the first 15 holes of his penultimate round.

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McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.


Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, five shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.