Notes Kelly defends decision Tigers Pro-ams

By Doug FergusonMay 5, 2009, 4:00 pm
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The PlayersPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. ' Jerry Kelly considers the British Open his favorite major championship of the year.
And he has no plans to play this year.
Kelly has been urging sponsors and fans to do everything they can to save the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee, his hometown tournament. U.S. Bank has said it would not renew as title sponsor this year at Milwaukee, which is held the same week as the British Open.
Then Kelly realized he wouldnt be doing his part without playing.
I had my British Open entry, Kelly said, and I got a sick feeling in my stomach and Id miss Milwaukee and it would be the last one. And it better not to be the last one. How can I call out all these people without backing it up myself?
Kelly has not played in Milwaukee the last two years because he was eligible for the British Open. In the meantime, he criticized Fred Funk and Kenny Perry in recent years for not playing the British when they were eligible.
European Tour member Alastair Forsyth criticized Kelly last week for skipping golfs oldest championship.
Kelly wasnt sure who Forsyth was, nor did he care what anyone thought.
Its all about Milwaukee. Its all about securing a title sponsor for Milwaukee, he said. Its what got me into golf.

THE PERFECT SPONSOR: Tim Herron did well to secure a corporate endorsement deal in these economic times. It runs through the 2010 season, and its significant enough that he wears the corporate logo on his chest.
Besides, few corporate deals are such a good fit.
Herron, affectionately known on tour as Lumpy, is wearing M&Ms on his chest. One can argue that given the right color shirt, Herron might actually look like an M&M (peanut variety).
I think they knew I was their type, he said with a laugh.
But he said this deal also comes with a charity component. He is working on an arrangement in which parent company Mars would match Herrons contribution for every birdie he makes to Target House in Memphis, Tenn., which provides lodging for parents of sick children.
SLUMPING SINGH: The first goal for the FedEx Cup champion is to qualify for the playoffs.
Vijay Singh is off to his worst start ever and is No. 132 in the FedEx Cup standings entering The Players Championship. When he missed the cut last week at the Quail Hollow Championship, it marked the 11th consecutive tournament that he failed to finish in the top 10, his longest drought since joining the PGA Tour in 1993.
In fact, the 46-year-old Fijian has finished in the top half of any field only once this year, when he made it to the second round of the Accenture Match Play Championship. He has missed four cuts in nine tournaments, and his best results in stroke play were a tie for 27th at Kapalua (against a field of 33 winners) and a tie for 30th at the Masters (where 50 players made the cut).
Singh injured his knee and had surgery to repair the meniscus after the season-opener in Hawaii, and there is some speculation that he tried to return too soon.
Whatever the case, the numbers are startling. In 24 rounds, he has shot in the 60s only twice, and he has made only one putt longer than 20 feet all year.

TIGERS PRO-AMS: Tiger Woods isnt spending much time with amateurs this year.
His Wednesday round last week with Peyton Manning and Quail Hollow Club president Johnny Harris was only his second pro-am this year. There arent many more on his plate the remainder of the season.
There is no pro-am at the majors, the World Golf Championships or The Players Championship. The Memorial next month has done away with its pro-am in favor of a skins game involving only PGA Tour players.
The only pro-ams he likely will play the rest of the year are at his own tournament, the AT&T National, and two of the playoff events for the FedEx Cup.

TEACHERS HALL: Former Masters champion Claude Harmon Sr. and longtime Texas teaching pro Harvey Penick were among eight people inducted Tuesday into the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame at the PGA Village in south Florida.
Harmon was the patriarch of arguably the most famous family of teachers in golf. His sons ' Butch, Craig, Billy and the late Dick Harmon ' all went on to become renowned teaching pros.
Penicks long list of famous pupils included Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite.
The other inductees were: former PGA president Brian Whitcomb; former UCLA coach Eddie Merrins; former PGA rules committee Don Essig III of Indianapolis; former PGA professionals of the year Jim Manthis of Coon Rapids, Minn., and Brent Krause of Montgomery, Ala.; and Harry Cotton Berrier of Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

DIVOTS: The Players Championship has five players who are No. 300 or lower in the world ranking ' Brad Adamonis (300), Martin Laird (319), Eric Axley (384), Fred Funk (658) and D.A. Weibring (no ranking), who qualified by winning the Senior Players Championship.
FINAL WORD: If Tiger never existed, Phil would be Tiger. Phils got as much horsepower in his car; its just that the lug nuts arent always tightened down enough. ' NBC Sports analyst Johnny Miller.

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  • Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

    Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

    Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

    Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

    With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

    Ko told Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

    “It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

    Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

    Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

    Piller declined an interview request when sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

    “I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

    As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

    Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

    With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

    That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

    That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

    And that’s a magic word in golf.

    There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

    Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

    The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

    Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.

    Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery

    A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

    The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

    Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

    For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

    The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

    The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

    It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

    “The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

    And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

    “It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

    The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

    Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

    Parity was the story this year.

    Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

    Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

    The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

    The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

    “I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

    If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

    Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

    There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

    This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

    Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

    She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

    The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.

    Love's hip surgery a success; eyes Florida swing return

    By Rex HoggardNovember 22, 2017, 3:31 pm

    Within hours of having hip replacement surgery on Tuesday Davis Love III was back doing what he does best – keeping busy.

    “I’ve been up and walking, cheated in the night and stood up by the bed, but I’m cruising around my room,” he laughed early Wednesday from Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala., where he underwent surgery to replace his left hip. “[Dr. James Flanagan, who performed the surgery] wants me up. They don’t want me sitting for more than an hour.”

    Love, 53, planned to begin more intensive therapy and rehabilitation on Wednesday and is scheduled to be released from the hospital later this afternoon.

    According to Love’s doctors, there were no complications during the surgery and his recovery time is estimated around three to four months.

    Love, who was initially hesitant to have the surgery, said he can start putting almost immediately and should be able to start hitting wedges in a few weeks.

    Dr. Tom Boers – a physical therapist at the Hughston Orthopedic Clinic in Columbus, Ga., who has treated Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman and Brad Faxon – will oversee Love’s recovery and ultimately decide when he’s ready to resume normal golf activity.

    “He understands motion and gait and swing speeds that people really don’t understand. He’s had all of us in there studying us,” Love said. “So we’ll see him in a couple of weeks and slowly get into the swing part of it.”

    Although Love said he plans to temper his expectations for this most recent recovery, his goal is to be ready to play by the Florida swing next March.