Bloodshot eyes and a final Olympic push

By Doug FergusonOctober 7, 2009, 5:29 am
Presidents Cup

PGA champion Y.E. Yang arrived at the Presidents Cup with a bloodshot right eye. Not streaked with pink, but rather a dark red blot toward the inside corner.

He said it was a blood vein that popped and that it was nothing serious.

Yang also knows how it happened. Attribute it to the price of celebrity from being the guy who took down Tiger Woods.

“Since the PGA Championship, it’s been a tiresome two months,” Yang said. “I’m not saying it was unpleasant – it was very enjoyable – but it was a long, long schedule and I was out of my routine. And that’s why I got a little stressed out. One of my veins popped.”

Yang said it burst about five days ago, and it would take about two weeks to heal.

“It’s getting to where it’s the grossest right now,” he said. “But it will be better.”

As for the biggest change to his routine, Yang would start with Harding Park. He would not have made the International team for the Presidents Cup without winning the PGA Championship; it moved him to No. 9 in the standings in the final week of qualifying.

More changes are ahead.

Yang figures he will be playing more tournaments because of his victory, which translates to longer seasons.

As for the stress?

There is a chance he could get a rematch with Woods because captains can manipulate the pairings. The final day is singles, and putting Woods and Yang together might carry the most appeal.

Yang joked at Hazeltine that he doesn’t want to play Woods again. If it comes to that, he at least has experience.

“I will try to play with a similar strategy, to try to play my own game and I won’t try to force anything,” Yang said. “It’s going to be tough, but I’ll try to keep my calm.”

VILLEGAS EXPERIENCE: Camilo Villegas is making his Presidents Cup debut. He has not played on a team since he was in Florida, and it was inspiring to return to his hotel room and see the uniforms in place.

Just don’t get the idea the Colombian lacks experience in this format.

Being at the Presidents Cup reminds him of his junior days when he played in the South American Championship. He said each country had five players and they played different nations at once – foursomes one day, fourballs another day, followed by singles.

“You could play two matches at the same time,” he said. “So I would be playing Argentina and Brazil one day. It was my favorite event, and I’m very excited to be back doing something similar.

“I love it, man. I love this format,” he said. “I’m just excited to be part of this team.”

YANG AND THE BRUINS: Y.E. Yang spent two days playing The Institute, a hidden gem south of San Jose owned by John Fry and his brothers of Fry’s Electronics. They plan to move the Fry’ Open there when the time is right, and they have been inviting PGA Tour players over the last few years to take a look.

Yang was on his way to the course Sunday when he reached into his bag and realized he only had one ball. Staying at the Corde Valle Resort, he went to the pro shop only to discover it didn’t have Taylor Made golf balls. Yang didn’t feel it would be right, even in a private setting, to play something other than what he endorses.

Just his luck, the UCLA golf team was on the course.

Resort workers went to the team and asked if they could use a couple of golf balls. They collected six – all with the UCLA logo – and Yang was set.

Consider him a Bruins fans now. And he certainly caught on to the school spirit. Also playing The Institute that day was Jamie Lovemark, who won an NCAA title playing for Southern Cal.

Yang tossed him one of the balls and smiled. Lovemark tossed it back.

NORMAN’S SCHEDULE: It’s not easy for Greg Norman to handle all his captain’s duties with his right arm in a sling, courtesy of surgery last week on his shoulder. Sure, he could have waited. Then again, he was looking at the bigger picture.

The Shark wants to be ready for his limited winter schedule, which includes the Australian Open the first week of December, followed by the Shark Shootout.

Norman is the host, and he plans to have U.S. captain Fred Couples as his partner.

“We had a good agreement, Freddie and I, so I’m working my way back for the Australian Open and the Shootout,” Norman said. “That’s my schedule. That’s my goal. There’s a lot of rehab to take place between now and then, but I’m pretty confident that I’ll be back hitting balls 10 days before then.”

FINAL OLYMPIC PUSH: Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington and Michelle Wie are going to Copenhagen this week to help golf make its final push to get into the Olympics.

Harrington, Wie, Suzann Pettersen of Norway and 16-year-old British Amateur champion Matteo Manassero of Italy will join golf’s Olympic executive in making the final presentation.

PGA Tour vice president Ty Votaw, who has led golf’s bid along with Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson, said it was important to show that golfers from all parts of the world, both professional and amateur, want golf in the Olympics.

In the most recent presentation in June, Votaw and Dawson were joined by Annika Sorenstam and Colin Montgomerie.

The IOC executive board recommended that golf and rugby sevens be added to the Olympic program in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, which was selected as the host city last week. The full vote on adding sports will be Friday.

DIVOTS: Camilo Villegas had a 2-inch scab below his right elbow, a scratch that was healing, and another wound that could not be shown. With a wistful smile, he confessed: During a trip home to Colombia, while riding his bike, the front tire blew out and Villegas tumbled over the handle bars. … Steve Stricker prepared to hit a 4-iron to the 10th hole, telling Tiger Woods he would hit a high draw and hold it against the wind. After pulling off the shot, Woods excitedly said, “That’s why you’re double comeback-player-of-the year.”

STAT OF THE WEEK: Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh are the only players to have competed in every Presidents Cup. Each has won only one singles match.

FINAL WORD: “When Tiger plays well and the other guy doesn’t, it’s really hard to beat two guys, no matter who they are.” – Fred Couples on Tiger Woods’ team record in the Presidents Cup (10-9-1).

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.