Davis the Ace but Just Dont Forget No 1
Now, the question rages: who is second best? Weve gone through a roller-coaster of opinions this year already, and we havent even reached the first major.
Davis Love III is the flavor of the day now. He was terribly impressive Sunday in winning The Players Championship. Fred Couples said Love played either, A) the best round Freddie had ever seen, or B) the best round Freddie had seen Love play ' I couldnt tell which. But thats OK ' Love played magnificently all four rounds in winning a very difficult championship.
But before there was Davis, there was Ernie Els. You remember, dont you? He won the first two events, won a third in Australia, and lost a playoff in Malaysia in his next start. By the time he got back to America, though, his great early start was forgotten. Now hes hit a punching bag the wrong way at his London home and is out of commission.
Vijay Singh was next, but he pulled a rib muscle, missed six weeks, and he, too, seems forgotten.
Up stepped Mike Weir to win a couple of times and everybody started thinking ' Is he the one? But Weir faded to the back to be replaced by ' Tiger?
Scott Hoch and Justin Leonard filled in briefly while Tiger was taking vacations. They both were quite impressive. Hoch hurt his wrist, though, and stepped aside, who gave way to Leonard, who gave way again to Tiger. Suddenly everyone started thinking clearly again ' Tiger was the one who was gone for awhile while he rehabbed his knee, but sanity prevailed and everyone was able to see the big picture in a little clearer light.
So now its Davis ' again. Davis is a few days shy of his 39th birthday and has spent the last few years battling one ailment or another. He had a terrible back problem. And his neck gave him fits. But this year both cleared up, and what do you know ' this guy can really smoke it! He looks like he might be the genuine article.
So Love is the new No. 2 but wait a minute! What about Padraig Harrington! What about Jay Haas! What about the young guys ' Adam Scott, Aaron Baddeley, what about Chad Campbell? Dont forget Stewart Cink, Nick Price, David Toms or Robert Allenby!
Wait ' Sergio Garcia is changing his swing and will be back in a matter of a few months! Retief Goosen is just a little worn out and will recover that old magic as soon as he recuperates. And Phil Mickelson ' he had some family business to attend to, but hes back this week.
Hey, some of the fellas, guys like Fred Couples, Brad Faxon, Jim Furyk and Corey Pavin are beginning to stir a little. Have you forgotten them? And youngsters like Charles Howell III, Luke Donald and Matt Kuchar ' surely before the year is up, we will hear from those guys!
Er - Chris DiMarco, did I mention him yet? By the way, Jerry Kelly, Rocco Mediate, Frank Lickliter ' Frank Lickliter won at Tucson! Cant forget him.
Its difficult to believe that when last year ended, Rich Beem was the name on everyones lips. By the way, when was the last time Mark Brooks, John Daly, David Duval, Lee Janzen or Tom Lehman contended? Couldnt they just as easily pull a Davis Love and get right back in this thing? How about Greg Norman ' yeah, how about Norman, even with a trick back? And Jose Maria Olazabel, Bernhard Langer, Jesper Parnevik, maybe Hal Sutton? How about Nick Faldo and Mark OMeara?
Thats about 50 guys to consider. Its so easy to forget. So many great players, so little an imagination. Week by week, month by month, the present nom de jour is rushed over and another one is inserted in his place.
Sure, Davis Love was very impressive. Give all the praise accorded him. But just remember to keep these underlying truths in your mind at all times: Number 1, there are a lot of guys who are going to be the second-best player before the year is over; and No. 2, there isnt a hint of doubt who is No. 1 - Tiger Woods.
The mature gents are climbing back into the ring, reduxing past glories all over the place. Love is the latest ' wasnt he the one to beat some time ago? He was ' but times change, and situations change. Now its Davis. Forgotten is some guy who only a month or so ago looked unbeatable. Now ' hes beatable. Tiger must be smiling at us.
If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it
NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.
She says she always gets nervous starting a round.
You don’t believe it, though.
She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .
Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .
Or disarming ticking bombs . . .
“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.
Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.
Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.
Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.
At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.
She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.
She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.
And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.
There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.
Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.
It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.
Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.
Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.
“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”
About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.
Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.
“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”
David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.
“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”
Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.
Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . .
“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.
Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.
“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”
Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.
“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.
Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.
National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.
The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.
Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.
These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:
Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.
This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.
“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”
Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.
In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.
If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.
“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”
Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.
Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.
''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''
The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.
The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.
''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''
Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.
''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''
First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).
Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.
''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.
''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''