Thanksgiving Turkeys

By George WhiteNovember 27, 2003, 5:00 pm
It seems like a natural thing to do, this being the weekend for ol Tom Turkey to strut. All dressed up and ready for Thanksgiving devouring, we have our own Top Ten Turkeys of this season:
  • Tiger Woods knee injury and subsequent arthroscopic surgery, which deprived us of a Tiger-Ernie Els matchup when Els was at his most potent at the Mercedes Championships. Els won that week ' and the Sony Open the next week ' before going on to win five of his first six around the world this season. Tiger, meanwhile, was obliged to sit and recoup until he won the Buick Invitational in his first action more than a month later.
  • Fuzzy Zoellers disqualification from the Royal Caribbean Classic on the Champions Tour for practicing on the course. Actually, he filmed a television spot there following his first round ' at the request of the events media director! Zoeller agreed to the filming after he was told the tour approved. The media staff approved the sixth tee for the lesson. Zoeller provided only instruction during the lesson, but afterwards the TV cameraman asked Fuzzy to hit a few balls for the segment. Again, Zoeller complied ' but was DQd for his charitable efforts.
  • Little-known Brian Kontaks effort to get into the U.S. Womens Open after Annika Sorenstam was awarded a spot in the PGA Tours Bank of America Colonial. A former Canadian Tour money leader and a non-exempt Nationwide Tour performer this season, Kontak was rebuffed by the USGA, who has a rule that competitors in the Womens Open must be females at birth. I didnt really pursue anything this year, but next year Im definitely going to go through with it, Kontak said. Another turkey for next year, perhaps?
  • The Augusta flap revolving around Hootie Johnson, Martha Burk, the Ku Klux Klan member, the Augusta members and just about everyone but the Boy Scouts. Johnson was wrong in his tyrannical attitude, Burk missed by a mile in her attempt at public relations, the Augusta membership was extremely embarrassed, and the demonstration failed to drum up much support outside of a few Georgians.
  • The sudden onset of bad golf commercials. Titleists Ian MacCallister, the supposed stickler for the rules who dresses in bad plaid; the cart driver who roars up to the clubhouse; the abysmal re-emergence of Sign Boy after a highly successful initial season ' thankfully, Ive forgotten almost all of the really awful ones.
  • Though she apologized publicly afterwards, the ill-fated attempt by Sung Ea Lee to register as a younger player in the Westfield Junior PGA Championship. Lee, a University of Washington freshman at the time, was stripped of the title that she had won. She had written June 9, 1985 as her birthdate on the entry sheet instead of the correct date of June 10, 1984. I made a mistake, and I am very sorry for it, said Lee.
  • The continued imperial attitude of Seve Ballesteros concerning his slow-play indiscretions. It happened first at the Madeira Island Open and wore on throughout the summer. It broke my concentration ' I am the only star here this week who has won a major, he said with a harrumph. His group, incidentally, had finished 27 minutes behind the group in front.
  • The disqualification of Mark Roe and Jesper Parnevik at the British Open for wrongly signing each others scorecards. Because of the DQ, Roe was sent home instead of teeing it up Sunday tied for fourth. Roe had a 67 in the third round and Parnevik an 81, but in one of golfs most outrageous absurdities, they were banished. Do you think they could possibly have been trying to cheat? Stuart Appleby had the best comment: Its a lot like the days when you stole a loaf of bread and it cost you your life, he said.
  • The LPGA rules mean Annika Sorenstam doesnt win the Vare Trophy for lowest per-round scoring average. The LPGA continued to insist on 70 rounds to be eligible for the award, though it now holds only 31 tournaments. Sorenstam played in 16 of them, 60 rounds. Her average score of just over 69 was a full point better than winner Se Ri Paks 70-plus.
  • After 25 years on the European Tour, Sandy Lyle loses his card. How can this be ' a man who has won the British Open and the Masters, who was the best player on the European Tour in the mid-80s? The irony ' at years end he was 41st on the all-time tour money list, only one tantalizing player from the 40th spot and an automatic exemption. Lyle was philosophical in accepting his fate, but still said that, Theres so much money (available) now that the system has become outdated. If it was done on points (for tournament finishes), Id probably be in the top 10.
    Email your thoughts to George White
  • Getty Images

    Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

    SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

    Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

    He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

    Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

    The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

    ''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

    Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

    ''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

    Getty Images

    13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

    Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

    Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

    “An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

    Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

    Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

    Getty Images

    McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

    It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

    Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

    Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    “I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

    Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

    “Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

    This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014. 

    Getty Images

    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."