Another Controversial Trip Home for Norman
Yes and yes, if you believe Bruce Devlin. No and no, if you believe Greg Norman.
Devlin, an Aussie with considerable tournament wins himself, has caused a firestorm in the golfing world of Australia by criticizing Norman for not participating in the Australian Open last week. Devlin called Norman an 'ungrateful individual' for missing the 100th anniversary of the Open and said, 'You'd think he'd have the decency to come out and celebrate something special.'
After last weeks Thanksgiving holiday, Norman now is in Australia this week to play the Australian PGA. When he arrived Down Under, he was immediately inundated by media members for his reaction to Devlins comments. Norman was stunned by the remarks.
Now, Devlin has always seemed like a polite and personable guy. But consider that Norman has lived in the U.S. since 1983, a period of 21 years. Before that, he played fulltime on the European Tour since 1977. So he has not been a fulltime resident of Australia for 27 years.
Nonetheless, he has played the Aussie Open 23 times, teeing it up the first time as an 18-year-old amateur in 1973. I believe I have supported the event as well as anybody else on the Australian circuit or any professional,' Norman said. And that seems pretty impressive, considering he would have had to make the trip halfway around the world to Australia the majority of those 23 times.
Of course, this was the centennial of the Open. And that meant a little something special. But contrast this with the fact that it was the Thanksgiving holidays in the States. Daughter Morgan-Leigh was home from college for one of the few times in the school year. Ditto son Gregory. What would you have done?
'Ask the general public and I think the consensus would be spending time with your family is more important than going out there playing golf,' said Norman.
Hes right. There are only four years that Morgan-Leigh will be in college, but this happens to be one of them. His choice was simple ' be a husband and stay at home for the holidays with your family, or be a golfer and go to the centennial anniversary of the Australian Open.
Norman chose his family.
'It's my life. My children are in college and the only time they come home is for long weekends like Thanksgiving,' he said.
Now, Norman has had a row several times with the homeland over skipping this or that tournament. Actually, he bypassed the Australian Open the first time back in 1992 because it was Thanksgiving week.
I had committed to my family that I would spend Thanksgiving with them, he told Golf Digest in 92. I had never spent Thanksgiving with them, and the kids are old enough now (Morgan-Leigh was 10 then, Gregory was seven) that they know what Thanksgiving is all about
I just figured I need to spend time with my family Im going to spend time with my American family.
So this criticism handed down by Devlin isnt new. Norman has discovered how difficult it is when, 1, you live in the United States; 2, you are the most famous golfer in your home country of Australia; and 3, there is a days flight time and half a world between them.
Hes also learned how difficult it is to juggle his multiple business projects, the American holiday schedule, and the Australian golf schedule.
He gets a lot of appearance money to play in Australia, and if thats your criticism of him, you certainly have a valid point. But he says that appearance money in not the issue in this particular Aussie Open controversy.
'Someone mentioned to me that I was offered $400,000 to play last week,' he said. 'There was no discussion about appearance money last week and I've played in this country without it before.'
And he says he has forked out big chunks of his own money to keep certain Australian events afloat. 'I have underwritten tournaments in this country to the tune of $1 million when things were going down the toilet, he said.
This is what happens, though, when you are the sporting idol of a country. Sometimes you just don't know where the next attack is coming from.
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Watch: Tiger birdies 3 of 4, then goes OB
Starting Sunday five off the lead, Tiger Woods teed off in his final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a laced 2-iron and a par at No. 1.
Woods hit the green at the par-3 second but left himself a 50-foot birdie putt and a 6-footer to save par, which he walked in.
Walking in the par putt at No. 2. pic.twitter.com/zuSGZmVL3z— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 18, 2018
A two-putt 4 at the par-5 fourth gave Woods his first birdie of the day and moved him to 8 under for the week. Apparently energized, Tiger pulled driver at the short par-4 fifth and unleashed this violent swing.
A pitch from the thick rough hit a sprinkler head and stopped on the apron, leading to this birdie try, which fortunately hit the pin but unfortunately didn't fall.
Looking to pick up another stroke - or two - at the par-5 sixth, Woods took his drive 317 yards over the water and hit this second shot from 227 yards to 13 feet, leading to another two-putt birdie when his eagle try burned the right edge.
Tiger gets it to 9-under.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 18, 2018
He's 4 shots back. pic.twitter.com/cAZtM14SlJ
Returning to his trusty 2-iron, Tiger found the fairway at the par-4 eighth and then threw this dart from 176 yards to 6 feet and rolled in his third birdie putt of the day to move to 10 under.
His momentum was slowed by his first bogey of the day at No. 9, the product of an errant drive and its ensuing complications. As a result, Woods made the turn 2 under on his round, 9 under for the week, and still five off the lead, like when he started the day.
Drive on 9 is approximately 824 yards off-line right. Approximately.— Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) March 18, 2018
Slides by. Bogey. That’s deflating. Turns at -9 and needs to go lights-out coming home to have any chance.— Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) March 18, 2018
But Woods wouldn't wait long to make up for his mistake, immediately responding with another flagged iron and another birdie at No. 10.
He continued his assault on Bay Hill's par-5s at the 12th, getting up and down from the sand for a birdie-4 that moved him to 11 under par, just two off the lead.
And with this roll at 13 giving him his third birdie in four holes, the charge was officially on, with Woods just one back.
Just when it looked like Woods was primed for a late run at his 80th PGA Tour victory, Woods stepped to the tee at the par-5 16th, where he had missed wide right three days in a row, and sniped his drive out of bounds into a backyard miles left.
Uh oh. This is left...— Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) March 18, 2018
Tiger picked the absolute worst time to stop going right on 16. Mercy.— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) March 18, 2018
He made 4 on his second ball for a bogey-6 to drop back to 11 under, three behind.
Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational
Tiger Woods will start Sunday five off the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. How will he follow up last week's runner-up? We're tracking him at Bay Hill.
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McIlroy: Time for Tour to limit alcohol sales on course
ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy suggested Saturday that the PGA Tour might need to consider curbing alcohol sales to stop some of the abusive fan behavior that has become more prevalent at events.
McIlroy said that a fan repeatedly yelled his wife’s name (Erica) during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
“I was going to go over and have a chat with him,” McIlroy said. “I think it’s gotten a little much, to be honest. I think they need to limit the alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something, because every week it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more.
“I know that people want to come and enjoy themselves, and I’m all for that, but sometimes when the comments get personal and people get a little bit rowdy, it can get a little much.”
This isn’t the first time that McIlroy has voiced concerns about fan behavior on Tour. Last month at Riviera, he said the rowdy spectators probably cost Tiger Woods a half-shot a round, and after two days in his featured group he had a splitting headache.
A week later, at the Honda Classic, Justin Thomas had a fan removed late in the final round.
McIlroy believes the issue is part of a larger problem, as more events try to replicate the success of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which has one of the liveliest atmospheres on Tour.
“It’s great for that tournament, it’s great for us, but golf is different than a football game, and there’s etiquette involved and you don’t want people to be put off from bringing their kids when people are shouting stuff out,” he said. “You want people to enjoy themselves, have a good day.”
As for a solution, well, McIlroy isn’t quite sure.
“It used to be you bring beers onto the course or buy beers, but not liquor,” he said. “And now it seems like everyone’s walking around with a cocktail. I don’t know whether (the solution) is to go back to letting people walking around with beers in their hands. That’s fine, but I don’t know.”
Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders
PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.
She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.
Her confidence is high.
“Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”
Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.
Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.
“One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”
Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.
“I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”
Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.
“I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”
That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.