Final Takes for July 7 2003
High expectations can be a double-edged sword. Lofty goals can motivate a player to fantastic achievements, but they can also be a crushing burden. How many careers wilted under the label the next Nicklaus?
Weve talked about Tigers so-called slump already in this show, but might our expectations of him be too high? Golf is hard. No one has their A-game all the time. We shouldnt let Tigers record fool us into believing he should play every year as well or better than 2000. He may be able to, but he wont. Thats the beauty of this game. PLEASE, lets wait until he misses a few cuts, goes a couple of years without a major or a season without a win before we bring up the S-word again.
That brings me to Michelle Wie; the big Wiesy. Like any youngster whos recently joined the teenage ranks, her hopes are unrealistically grand. She wants to dominate the LPGA and PGA Tours. She may be the future of womens golf. She may play in a PGA Tour event, maybe even the Masters, but it wont happen this year, or next. Shes made history this summer - celebrate that. Let her be a 13-year-old. Let her game grow into her body, let her make mistakes and learn from them before we burden her with expectations she cant possibly fill, yet.
I dont know about you, but that flap this week at the US Womens Open between Danielle Ammacapane and Michelle Wie and complaints of a fathers less than perfect caddying reminded me of the U.S. Open five years ago.
That was when amateur Matt Kuchar had his father Peter on the bag at the Olympic Club, and by Sunday there was more than one PGA Tour player on the property who wanted to toss a cheering, high-fiving, way-too-high-profile Peter Kuchar into San Francisco Bay.
Should Ammacapane have given some slack to Wie and her father B.J.? Certainly. There will come a time when Michelle Wies presence on the LPGA Tour just might do its purses what Tiger Woods did for the PGA Tours.
But thats not the issue.
The point is that fathers have no business caddieing for their kids in major championships. Thats not a knock against Peter Kuchar or B.J. Wie. Theyre just trying to help their kid as much as possible and sharing the experience.
But its just reality. Its impossible for any father to separate himself sufficiently in such an emotional environment.
Granted, B.J. Wie is a low-key guy and not prone to high-fives, but lets put fathers back under the ropes where they can lose control and nobody cares, and put the caddie bibs on the professionals.
With 14 teenagers in the field at the U.S. Womens Open, I feared it would be all about Justin Timberlake and Linkin Park. But thanks to a certain 43-year-old fireball, there was a place for the likes of The Pretenders and Tom Petty.
Juli Inkster showed those up-and-comers a thing or two, playing with focus, determination and an unwavering enthusiasm that many athletes see fade over time, or worse yet, see turn into a jaded indifference.
Inkster is proof a woman can have it all - family (the older of her two daughters is 13, or what we like to call phenom age in golf) and career - without compromising either
Is it easy? No. Even Annika says she doesnt think shes ready to pull off that balancing act, because in our multi-task world, golf remains a non-multi task sport.
So I hope the teen troupe playing Pumpkin Ridge over the weekend noted more than simply how to play a U.S. Open set-up. I hope they learned some life lessons from Juli Inkster.
The race is a long one - and for all you superstars in waiting, a word of advice: see that image way down at the end of the road? Thats no finish line - thats Inkster.
Shes where youre going; shes already there.
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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.
Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.
Rahm (62) fires career low round
The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:
Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)
What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.
Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.
Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.
Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.
Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.
Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.
"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."
Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.
Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.
"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.
Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.
Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.
Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.
The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.