The usual and unusual suspects

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 1, 2008, 4:00 pm
Comebacker duties have once again been taken over by the Golf Guy, as Brian Hewitt has the week off ' tanning in Jamaica or saving dolphins in China or something.
Without further ado:
Raymond writes: I'm not sure which of you is the more pathetic loser. Her (Michelle Wie) for failing to understand the purpose of the scoring tent or you (Brian Hewitt) for pampering her and claiming the LPGA should have prevented the incident. True, the LPGA was wrong in not identifying the problem and should have DQd her prior to round three. But, all said and done let's put the fault squarely on the shoulders of the person responsible, Michelle! The scoring tent is not a stupid rule. The scoring tent is not old school. The scoring tent has a distinct purpose, that is, it is the first opportunity for the golfer to 'see and validate' their score. Period! You view your 'official score card,' make corrections if necessary, AND SIGN THE CARD!
The Comebacker
Heres the thing, Ray. Can I call you Ray? OK, then: making a player enter a scorers area to check and verify the numbers on his/her card is legit. Telling them that they are disqualified because they walked out of said area without penning their signature is D-U-M-B. How did them leaving and coming back affect anything? Its not like this is a test and a player can leave the area, get the proper answers and then come back and change their card. Golf is full of antiquated rules that need to be updated. This one falls in that category.


Jim writes: 1. I think that the American team will do a lot better than the pundits think in the Ryder Cup. 2. Why is Mike Weir not shown in the standings for the FedExCup? 3. A few years ago, during a Wednesday show at the Dublin course, (Padraig) Harrington was asked to give a demonstration by Jack (Nicklaus) as to his touch with the shorter clubs. He used a 7-iron to demonstrate the various shots he could use with the one club. He said that this was the first club he was given and he used it on the tees, fairways and bunkers. He hit it long, low, high, hooked and faded the ball. He said he missed the creative ways to play a course now that the emphasis was on distance. I agree with him and am fed up with the long drive and then a choice of four wedges into a rather large green. It was interesting to see how many of the regular PGA TOUR players handled the conditions at 'The Open' this year. The creativeness of the player came to the fore; surprise of surprises when Harrington won going away. 4. What has happened to Vijay Singh? He did not play for three weeks before 'The Open' and I assumed that he was getting ready in England. He never made the cut. The poor Canadian Open was last week. Singh, who has won it at the expense of Weir, was always a show. This year he failed to come, why? 5. I can solve Michelle Wie's problem. Someone should kidnap her father for at least ten years.
The Comebacker
1.) An American team filled with Hooters Tour players couldnt fare worse than the last collection of All Stars. 2.) Its because hes Canadian and FedEx doesnt deliver up there. No, actually hes 35th in the standings. 3.) If the tournaments really wanted to make their events more challenging all they have to do is raise the rough one inch. Make it a penalty to miss the fairway. Creativity and planning is instantly brought back into the game. 4.) Vijay is 45 years old and completely confused with his swing. Why wasnt he in Canada? He probably needed a break with the WGC event this week and the PGA next week. 5.) In his absence someone else would probably get in her ear and fill her head with bad advice.


Ken writes: Want to compliment you (Brian Hewitt) on the proper term for what I humbly submit is THE major of all majors ... I wish you would give a tutorial to the majority of your GC colleagues who insist on calling it the British Open. Case in point: watching Golf Central and listening to VC (Vince Cellini?) & BL (Who the hell is BL? Bruce Lee?) using the wrong term repeatedly in the broadcast. It is universally known as The Open except the vast majority of U.S. based writers & TV announcers. Please Brian, pass on your 'wisdom' to the others & give THE OPEN the respect it deserves!!!!
The Comebacker
We at GOLF CHANNEL are supposed to refer to the Open Championship as such. And so we do, for the most part. However I cant speak for Hewitt, but the U.S. Open is referred to the U.S. Open because it is played exclusively in the United States. When The Open is actually contested outside of the United Kingdom Ill consistently refer to it as something other than the British Open.


Roy writes: Look for Brandt Snedeker to contend (this) week at Bridgestone and ,yes, you heard it here the PGA. He is focused like his good friend Kenny Perry to win and make the Ryder Cup team. A few missed cuts have gotten his attention and time is short. By the way, Kenny is looking smarter and smarter to skip the Opens. Unlike many Tour pros, he knows what he can and cannot do at this stage in his career.
The Comebacker
Snedeker shot 2-under 68 in the first round of the WGC-Bridgestone. Will he win the PGA? Golf Guy says no, but if he does we will give Roy major props in the subsequent Comebacker. As for Perry, count Golf Guy as among the group of people who feel Perry can play whenever and wherever he likes but theres no way Golf Guy would have ever skipped a major championship. Ever.

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    Top-ranked amateur Niemann one back at LAAC in Chile

    By Nick MentaJanuary 21, 2018, 8:44 pm

    Argentina’s Jaime Lopez Rivarola leads the Latin America Amateur Championship at 5 under par following a round of 3-under 68 Saturday in Chile.

    The former Georgia Bulldog is now 36 holes from a trip to Augusta.

    He is followed on the leaderboard by the three players who competed in the playoff that decided last year’s LAAC in Panama: Joaquin Niemann (-4), Toto Gana (-4), and Alvaro Ortiz (-3).

    Chile’s Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who currently holds conditional status on the Tour and is poised to begin his career as a professional, unless of course he takes the title this week. After a disappointing 74 in Round 1, Niemann was 10 shots better in Round 2, rocketing up the leaderboard with a 7-under 64.

    Niemann’s fellow Chilean and best friend Gana is the defending champion who missed the cut at the Masters last year and is now a freshman at Lynn University. His second-round 70 was a roller coaster, complete with six birdies, three eagles and a double.

    Mexico’s Ortiz, the brother of three-time Tour winner Carlos, was 6 under for the week before three back-nine bogeys dropped him off the pace.

    Two past champions, Matias Dominguez and Paul Chaplet, sit 5 over and 7 over, respectively.

    The winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship earns an invite to this year’s Masters. He is also exempt into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open sectional qualifying, and Open Championship final qualifying.

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    McIlroy gets back on track

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 21, 2018, 3:10 pm

    There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:

    He is well ahead of schedule.

    Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.

    “Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”

    To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”

    And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out. 

    Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.

    “I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”

    The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.

    The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)

    But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.

    Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.

    Everything in his life is lined up.

    Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.

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    Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 2:20 pm

    Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.

    Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.

    There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.

    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open

    Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.

    The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.

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    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.