Woods Out Phil Back at Memorial

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 30, 2006, 4:00 pm
Memorial Tournament officials held their breath as long as they could last Friday. And then they exhaled with a sigh of not relief, but understanding.
Tiger Woods decided to extend his hiatus from competition, meaning there will be nine full weeks between his last tournament, the Masters, and his next possible event, the U.S. Open ' possible being the key word.
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson is trying to become the latest major champion to win the Memorial Tournament.
This marks the first time since hes been eligible that Woods has skipped the Memorial, which is hosted by Jack Nicklaus. He won the tournament three straight times, from 1999-2001, and has only once finished outside the top 5 in the last seven years at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
But while Woods will be taking off more time to grieve the loss of his father, who died from lung cancer on May 3, the Memorial goes on ' and does so with another impressive field.
Seven of the top 10 players in the world are scheduled to compete, including world No. 2 Phil Mickelson.
Mickelson is making his first start since the Wachovia Championship four weeks ago. He withdrew from the EDS Byron Nelson Championship and then opted not to compete in the Bank of America Colonial, both of which had before won.
This event, however, is one that is missing from Leftys winning resume. One reason is that he hasnt played here since 2002. That year, he earned his best-ever finish at the Memorial, tying for ninth. Its his only top-10 finish in seven career starts.
Mickelson may not be able to improve upon that performance this time around, as his mind might not be solely in Dublin, Ohio. Instead, he might be thinking about an event about 600 miles away.
Mickelson has been prepping his game for more than a month in anticipation of winning the U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, NY, which would be his third consecutive major victory.
If there is good news this week for the reigning Masters and PGA champion, its that the Memorial has been very kind over the years to major champions.
The last time Mickelson competed at the Memorial, he wasnt a major winner. Now he is, three times over.
A look back on the Memorial winners list shows that 22 of the 30 past champions currently have a major title to their resume.
Will Mickelson make it 23-for-31? Perhaps. But here are five others, whose chances we like even more.
Fred Couples
Jimin Kang of Aeoul Korea in action during the first round of the McDonald
Fred Couples is trying to avoid another runner-up finish and win his second Memorial title.
If not for Ernie Els brilliance and Bart Bryants amazing recovery skills, Couples would be in search of his third consecutive Memorial title. Instead, hes just trying to win any TOUR event for the first time in over three years. Couples has finished runner-up each of the last two years in this tournament. He looked poised to win a year ago, but a remarkable par save by Bryant on the 72nd hole kept him out of the winners circle. Couples isnt without a victory at Muirfield Village, however, as he won here in 1998. In 17 career starts, he has a total of five top-5 finishes.
Vijay Singh
After two weeks off, Singh returns to action. And judging by his most recent results, he needed the break. Singh, who hasnt won this year, and hasnt had a top-10 since the Masters Tournament. For that matter, in three starts since Augusta, he hasnt cracked the top 35 ' and two of those tournaments were title defenses. Its no guarantee that Singh will return to championship form this week, but he does have a fantastic track record at the Memorial. In a seven-year stretch, from 1997-2003, he finished inside the top-5 on five occasions, beginning that run with a win.
Stewart Cink
After winning the 2004 WGC-NEC Invitational, it looked like Cinks career was ready to take off, and he was ready to live up to his promise. That, however, has thus far been the pinnacle of his success, and Cink hasnt since won. He needs to get something going ' and soon. Cink is currently outside the top 20 on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list. The normally reliable putter has struggled with his broomstick this year, ranking near the 100 mark on TOUR. This is a good opportunity for him to turn things around before the heart of the major season starts. He finished in the top-10 here from 2001-03.
K.J. Choi
As previously stated, major champions have dominated the Memorial winners' list over the years. Two of the last three winners, though, are not major champs, and Choi would like to make it three of four. The South Korean strongman has finished T13-6-T8 over the last three years at Muirfield Village.
Rod Pampling
Pampling has played the Memorial four times and has never finished better than a tie for 49th. So why is he on the list of favorites? Because he has had an incredible amount of success at events this season that have a direct connection to one of golfs legends. He won the Bay Hill Invitational, which is hosted by Arnold Palmer. He tied for eighth at the EDS Byron Nelson Championship. And he finished third at the Bank of America Colonial, where the course is nicknamed Hogans Alley. Should we expect anything less than a strong performance at Jacks event?
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Memorial Tournament
  • Woods Delays Return, Skips Memorial
  • Open Qualifying Series kicks off with Aussie Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 4:24 pm

    The 147th Open is nearly eight months away, but there are still major championship berths on the line this week in Australia.

    The Open Qualifying Series kicks off this week, a global stretch of 15 event across 10 different countries that will be responsible for filling 46 spots in next year's field at Carnoustie. The Emirates Australian Open is the first event in the series, and the top three players among the top 10 who are not otherwise exempt will punch their tickets to Scotland.

    In addition to tournament qualifying opportunities, the R&A will also conduct four final qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland on July 3, where three spots will be available at each site.

    Here's a look at the full roster of tournaments where Open berths will be awarded:

    Emirates Australian Open (Nov. 23-26): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Joburg Open (Dec. 7-10): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    SMBC Singapore Open (Jan. 18-21): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Mizuno Open (May 24-27): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    HNA Open de France (June 28-July 1): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The National (June 28-July 1): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 12 and ties

    Dubai Duty Free Irish Open (July 5-8): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    The Greenbrier Classic (July 5-8): Top four players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open (July 12-15): Top three players (not otherwise exempt) among top 10 and ties

    John Deere Classic (July 12-15): Top player (not otherwise exempt) among top five and ties

    Stock Watch: Lexi, Justin rose or fall this week?

    By Ryan LavnerNovember 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

    Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.


    Jon Rahm (+9%): Just imagine how good he’ll be in the next few years, when he isn’t playing all of these courses for the first time. With no weaknesses in his game, he’s poised for an even bigger 2018.

    Austin Cook (+7%): From Monday qualifiers to Q-School to close calls on the Web.com, it hasn’t been an easy road to the big leagues. Well, he would have fooled us, because it looked awfully easy as the rookie cruised to a win in just his 14th Tour start.

    Ariya (+6%): Her physical tools are as impressive as any on the LPGA, and if she can shore up her mental game – she crumbled upon reaching world No. 1 – then she’ll become the world-beater we always believed she could be.  

    Tommy Fleetwood (+4%): He ran out of gas in Dubai, but no one played better on the European Tour this year than Fleetwood, Europe’s new No. 1, who has risen from 99th to 18th in the world.   

    Lexi (+1%): She has one million reasons to be pleased with her performance this year … but golf fans are more likely to remember the six runners-up and two careless mistakes (sloppy marking at the ANA and then a yippy 2-footer in the season finale) that cost her a truly spectacular season.


    J-Rose (-1%): Another high finish in Dubai, but his back-nine 38, after surging into the lead, was shocking. It cost him not just the tournament title, but also the season-long race.  

    Hideki (-2%): After getting blown out at the Dunlop Phoenix, he made headlines by saying there’s a “huge gap” between he and winner Brooks Koepka. Maybe something was lost in translation, but Matsuyama being too hard on himself has been a familiar storyline the second half of the year. For his sake, here’s hoping he loosens up.

    Golf-ball showdown (-3%): Recent comments by big-name stars and Mike Davis’ latest salvo about the need for a reduced-flight ball could set up a nasty battle between golf’s governing bodies and manufacturers.

    DL3 (-4%): Boy, the 53-year-old is getting a little too good at rehab – in recent years, he has overcome a neck fusion, foot injury, broken collarbone and displaced thumb. Up next is hip-replacement surgery.

    LPGA Player of the Year (-5%): Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu tied for the LPGA’s biggest prize, with 162 points. How is there not a tiebreaker in place, whether it’s scoring average or best major performance? Talk about a buzzkill.

    Titleist's Uihlein fires back at Davis over distance

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 21, 2017, 12:59 am

    Consider Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein unmoved by Mike Davis' comments about the evolution of the golf ball – and unhappy.

    In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the outlet which first published Davis' comments on Sunday, Uihlein took aim at the idea that golf ball distance gains are hurting the sport by providing an additional financial burden to courses.

    "Is there any evidence to support this canard … the trickle-down cost argument?” he wrote (via Golf.com). “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

    Pointing the blame elsewhere, Uihlein criticized the choices and motivations of modern architects.

    "The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

    The Titleist CEO even went as far as to suggest that Tiger Woods' recent comments that "we need to do something about the golf ball" were motivated by the business interersts of Woods' ball sponsor, Bridgestone.

    "Given Bridgestone’s very small worldwide market share and paltry presence in professional golf, it would seem logical they would have a commercial motive making the case for a reduced distance golf ball," he added.

    Acushnet Holdings, Titleist's parent company, announced in September that Uihlein would be stepping down as the company's CEO at the end of this year but that he will remain on the company's board of directors.

    Class of 2011: The groups before The Group

    By Mercer BaggsNovember 20, 2017, 9:00 pm

    We’ve been grouping things since the beginning, as in The Beginning, when God said this is heaven and this is earth, and you’re fish and you’re fowl.

    God probably wasn’t concerned with marketing strategies at the time and how #beastsoftheearth would look with a hashtag, but humans have evolved into such thinking (or not evolved, depending on your thinking).

    We now have all manner of items lumped into the cute, the catchy and the kitschy. Anything that will capture our attention before the next thing quickly wrests said attention away.

    Modern focus, in a group sense in the golf world, is on the Class of 2011. This isn’t an arbitrary assembly of players based on world ranking or current form. It’s not a Big Pick A Number.

    There’s an actual tie that binds as it takes a specific distinction to be part of the club. It’s a group of 20-somethings who graduated from high school in the aforementioned year, many who have a PGA Tour card, a handful of who have PGA Tour wins, and a couple of who have major titles.

    It’s a deep and talented collective, one for which our knowledge should continue to expand as resumes grow.

    Do any “classes” in golf history compare? Well, it’s not like we’ve long been lumping successful players together based on when they completed their primary education. But there are other notable groups of players, based primarily on birthdate, relative competition and accomplishment.

    Here’s a few on both the men’s and women’s side:

    BORN IN 1912

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Feb. 4, 1912 Byron Nelson 52 5
    May 27, 1912 Sam Snead 82 7
    Aug. 13, 1912 Ben Hogan 64 9

    Born six months within one another. Only a threesome, but a Hall of Fame trio that combined for 198 PGA Tour wins and 21 majors.

    BORN IN 1949

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 4, 1949 Tom Watson 39 8
    Dec. 5, 1949 Lanny Wadkins 21 1
    Dec. 9, 1949 Tom Kite 19 1

    Only 96 days separate these three Hall of Fame players. Extend the reach into March of 1950 and you'll get two-time U.S. Open winner Andy North.

    BORN IN 1955

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 30, 1955 Curtis Strange 17 2
    Jan. 30, 1955 Payne Stewart 11 3
    Feb. 10, 1955 Greg Norman 20 2

    Another trio of Hall of Fame players. Strange and Stewart were born on the same day with Norman 11 days later. Fellow PGA Tour winners born in 1955: Scott Simpson, Scott Hoch and Loren Roberts.


    Birthdate Player LPGA wins Major wins
    Feb. 22, 1956 Amy Alcott 29 5
    Oct. 14, 1956 Beth Daniel 33 1
    Oct. 27, 1956 Patty Sheehan 35 6
    Jan. 6, 1957 Nancy Lopez 48 3

    A little arbitrary here, but go with it. Four Hall of Famers on the women's side, all born within one year of each other. That's an average (!) career of 36 tour wins and nearly four majors.


    Birthdate Player Euro (PGA Tour) wins Major wins
    April 9, 1957 Seve Ballesteros 50 (9) 5
    July 18, 1957 Nick Faldo 30 (9) 6
    Aug. 27, 1957 Bernhard Langer 42 (3) 2
    Feb. 9, 1958 Sandy Lyle 18 (6) 2
    March 2, 1958 Ian Woosnam 29 (2) 1

    The best 'class' of players Europe has to offer. Five born within a year of one another. Five Hall of Fame members. Five who transformed and globalized European golf.


    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Sept. 12, 1969 Angel Cabrera 3 2
    Oct. 17, 1969 Ernie Els 19 4
    May 12, 1970 Jim Furyk 17 1
    May 12, 1970 Mike Weir 8 1
    June 16, 1970 Phil Mickelson 42 5

    Not a tight-knit group, but a little more global bonding in accordance to the PGA Tour's increased international reach. Add in worldwide wins – in excess of 200 combined – and this group is even more impressive.

    BORN IN 1980

    Birthdate Player PGA Tour wins Major wins
    Jan. 9, 1980 Sergio Garcia 10 1
    July 16, 1980 Adam Scott 13 1
    July 30, 1980 Justin Rose 8 1

    Could be three future Hall of Fame members here.

    Editor's note: Golf Channel's editorial research unit contributed.