Notes Miller not ruling out Tiger this week

By Doug FergusonMay 12, 2011, 2:41 am
The Players ChampionshipPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – This time, Johnny Miller came to Tiger Woods’ defense.

At least he tried.

Miller, the two-time major champion and NBC Sports analyst who has been critical of Woods over the years, said on a conference call Wednesday that he wouldn’t rule Woods out at The Players Championship because of his iron play.

His comments followed more blistering comments from the Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee.

“I’m going to take the positive spin here,” Miller said. “I really believe that if he has a good first round and plays a little bit like did at the British Open and sort of deals down and hits a long of stingers and just gets the ball in play … he hasn’t lost his iron game. Nobody gives him that credit. He still is a good iron player. It’s just that other things aren’t working out quite as well.”

Woods has not finished better than eighth at the TPC Sawgrass since winning here 10 years ago.

“The bottom line is that he could be a factor,” Miller said. “Of all the places … this is the unlikely one, but this course is unpredictable, so you never know.”

Chamblee said there was a “really good chance” Woods will be gone before Sunday. Woods is playing for the first time since the Masters, skipping last week because of a minor injury to his left knee and Achilles’.

“It’s very likely that he’s going to re-injure himself playing this course and maybe just hobble out here,” Chamblee said. “It’s kind of sad. We watched Tiger age so rapidly before our eyes and maybe right before our eyes we’ll watch Tiger Woods play where he’s literally shuffling off the course.”

CLARK TO PLAY: Defending champion Tim Clark noticed enough of an improvement in his left elbow to start hitting balls over the weekend, and he plans to compete in The Players Championship.

Clark was runner-up at the Sony Open in January, but upon returning home, noticed a problem in his elbow. The only tournament he has played since then was the Masters, where he missed the cut. 

“I’m just really excited to be here,” Clark said. “I feel like I’m going to be able to play, which two weeks ago I wasn’t sure if that would be the case. So just really happy to be able to play.”

Clark estimated his strength at no more than 80 percent, still a big improvement from recent weeks. He still feels a twinge in the elbow, although he feels good enough to play.

Exactly what caused the injury remains a mystery.

“I don’t think we’re ever going to pinpoint what happened,” he said. “Looking back at the tournament at Sony, I really didn’t play very well, particularly off the tee. I was hitting low, duck hooks off the tee, and I just couldn’t figure it out. I think something was already going on, although I didn’t feel the pain.”

CADDIE CONTEST: Anthony Knight won the “Closest to the Hole” contest among caddies Wednesday on the 17th hole. 

Knight, who works for Aaron Baddeley, hit a 9-iron from 130 yards to just inside 10 feet.

Their were plenty of laughs, a little pressure, balls that went everywhere and a day filled with entertainment. That included Steve Williams, the caddie for Tiger Woods. 

Williams took a 7-iron and hit a towering draw, as his boss sat on a bench and said, “Bite! Bite! Bite!”

It did, landing on the back of the green, then spinning viciously back down the slope and off the front of the green into the water. Williams, in mock anger, tossed the club some 20 yards off the tee, a few yards from the edge of the water.

“That almost went in the water,” Woods said. Then after a pause, he added with a laugh, “Wouldn’t be the first time.”

That reference was to the 2006 Ryder Cup, when Williams stooped to dip a towel in the water at The K Club, lost his balance and saw a 9-iron fall into the pond. Woods won his match without it.

WOODLAND’S WEAPON: Gary Woodland is among those at The Players Championship for the first time, and it didn’t take him long to realize his awesome length isn’t a big advantage.

He only plans to hit driver on three holes.

Even so, the Innisbrook winner made an equipment change he thinks will help. Woodland had Titleist make him a strong 3-wood, which he plans to use on most other tees. This one has a 12.5-degree loft, compared with the 15-degree loft on his regular 3-wood.

The difference is about 20 yards. Woodland said the range is 280 yards up to 300 yards.

It’s a big week for Woodland, who is No. 48 in the world and No. 8 on the PGA Tour money list. He needs to be in the top 50 in the world ranking or the top 10 in PGA Tour money after the Colonial next week to be exempt for the U.S. Open.

FEAR THE BEARD: Lucas Glover began growing a beard in the offseason with too much time on his hand, and it has become quite a topic. Earlier this year, Justin Rose took a picture of him and posted it on Twitter, adding, “Winning the U.S. Open. So easy even a caveman can do it.”

Glover brought even more attention to it by winning the Wells Fargo Championship last week, his first title since the 2009 U.S. Open.

He says he has received positive comments in person, not so much from his friends. How long it will stay remains to be seen. Despite stifling temperatures this week, Glover says it hasn’t been too itchy.

And he doesn’t need his friends telling him how it looks.

“I get scared in the mirror every morning,” he said. “That’s enough.”

PECKING ORDER: Lee Westwood, the No. 1 player in the world who is not at the TPC Sawgrass this week, once referred to The Players Championship as about the eighth-most important event in golf, behind the majors and World Golf Championships.

It’s understandable, as Westwood is not a PGA Tour member.

Geoff Ogilvy believes that would be the case for several international players who don’t belong to the PGA Tour, although he thinks it would be hard to find a tournament that ranks higher than The Players at No. 5 (behind four majors).

If there were, Ogilvy would pick the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone.

“Akron is the only tournament in the world that maybe has an argument of being more historic and more important than this one,” he said. “Everybody won it who’s supposed to win it. And it was a world championship before the World Golf Championships.”

FINAL WORD: “Nobody owns this course.” – NBC Sports analyst Johnny Miller.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.