European Tour Season Begins in Taiwan
'This is my first trip to Taiwan and I was expecting it to be warmer. I didn't bring any sweaters with me,' he said. Apparently he didn't expect chilly weather, though it is now the third week of November.
Harrington is hoping to get a jump-start in his quest to become Europe's No. 1 player as another European Tour begins. The Irishman finished runner-up for the second straight year to South African Retief Goosen in Europe when the season ended two weeks ago.
The tournament, the first in the 2003 season, actually is played more than a month before the 2002 year ends. Asia's richest tournament outside of Japan, it is also the third last leg on the Asian PGA-run Davidoff Tour.
'I've had a solid year and I'm happy that I've played nicely and feel I can improve majors, said Harrington. I learned a lot of good stuff and played pretty solid in all the majors.
'I featured in the skins game in Singapore on Sunday and finished second again, as usual (behind Goosen). My game is not quite there, I just need to do a bit of things but it'll be OK.
Harrington, who has won five times in Europe and a string of runner-up outings, displayed his major credentials by finishing tied for fifth in the Masters and British Open, tied for eighth in the U.S. Open and tied for 11th at the PGA Championship this year.
He played on Europe's winning side against the United States in the Ryder Cup in September, then went on to claim his first title of the year at the Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland the following week.
'I was in contention at some stage in the first three majors and I was happy with that form. It's very promising,' he said.
His main challenge at the BMW Asian Open could come from Thai standout Thongchai Jaidee, who finished second behind Colin Montgomerie at last week's TCL Classic in China after a stirring back-nine duel.
Other big names in Taiwan include defending champion Jarmo Sandelin, former Masters winners Jose Maria Olazabal and Ian Woosnam, Paul McGinley, who holed the winning putt in the Ryder Cup, Europe's captain Sam Torrance and American John Daly.
A weary Thongchai, who has played regularly in Japan this year, is ready to soldier on in his bid to regain his Davidoff Tour money tiyle. The former paratrooper earned widespread praise from Montgomerie, who rated Thongchai as 'the best Asian player that I've played with.'
'I'm a bit tired after a hectic season, but finishing second behind Colin Montgomerie has given me a boost and the chance to finish the year as No. 1 in Asia again. It's good to be back for the BMW Asian Open as I finished joint second here last year.
'While my aim is to win the Order of Merit (money title), it could so easily change as this week's purse is the biggest one on our tour,' said Thongchai, who will be playing in his 37th event of the year this week.
Thongchai, who will play the first two rounds with Olazabal and Daly, leads the merit battle with a haul of $183,014, with previous pacesetter Arjun Atwal of India in second place, who has won $177,674. But with a first prize check of $250,050 this week, the scenario could change dramatically after the BMW Asian Open.
Atwal, who won the European Tour-sanctioned Caltex Singapore Masters in February, is hoping to regain some form. 'I've been struggling of late, so the important thing for me is to play some decent golf here. I'll aim to keep things easy and just hit fairways and greens and make some putts,' said the Indian star.
Defending champion Sandelin, who came to Asia at the end of last year to 'make some Christmas shopping money', is hoping to get the perfect wedding gift as he will marry long-time sweetheart Linda in Stockholm next month.
'It's good to come back as the defending champion. I've not won back-to-back titles in my career, so maybe history will be made here this week. I'm getting married next month and it'll be nice to have some money for the wedding this time!' said the Swede.
'After winning the BMW Asian Open last year, I played very well for next few months. But after that, I changed my swing. I've started analysing my golf swing with a digital camera and then inputting the data into a swing analysis program this year. It's slowly coming together and I played well in my last event two weeks ago, so it is a nice time to find some form as I defend my title this week,' said Sandelin.
Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball
Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.
In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.
"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’
Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.
“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.
“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’
Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.
The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving
Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.
The major championships I'm certainly proud of, but Barbara, the kids and my grandkids are the best things to ever happen to me. From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving! pic.twitter.com/wkma1Q9LlK— Jack Nicklaus (@jacknicklaus) November 23, 2017
GC Tiger Tracker:
Mixing Thanksgiving and waiting for a week from today. pic.twitter.com/u9m9WxQNYx— GC Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) November 23, 2017
Happy thanksgiving to everyone! Hope you have a wonderful day with family and friends. #Thankful— Steve Stricker (@stevestricker) November 23, 2017
Was reading about Thanksgiving. Originally they ate waterfowl, venison, ham, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, and squash. Seems a bit tastier than Turkey!— Frank Nobilo (@FrankNobiloGC) November 23, 2017
Literally food for thought.
Tyrone Van Aswegen:
Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017
Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.
Tributes pour in for legendary caddie Sheridan
Tributes are pouring in as golf celebrates the life of Greg Sheridan after receiving news of his passing.
Sheridan, a long-time LPGA caddie who worked for some of the game’s all-time greats, including Kathy Whitworth and Beth Daniel, died Wednesday in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., at 63. He was diagnosed in July 2016 with brain and lung cancer.
Sheridan worked the last dozen years or so with Natalie Gulbis, who expressed her grief in an Instagram post on Wednesday:
“Greg…I miss you so much already and it hasn’t even been a day. 15+ seasons traveling the world you carried me & my bag through the highs and lows of golf and life. You were so much more than my teammate on the course…Thank you.”
Sheridan was on Whitworth’s bag for the last of her LPGA-record 88 titles.
“When I first came on tour, I would try to find out how many times Greg won,” Gulbis told Golfweek. “It’s a crazy number, like 50.”
Matthew Galloway, a caddie and friend to Sheridan, summed up Sheridan’s impressive reach after caddying with him one year at the LPGA Founders Cup, where the game’s pioneers are honored.
“Best Greg story,” Galloway tweeted on Thanksgiving morning, “coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes, `Yep, caddied for her, her and her.’ Legend.”
Best Greg story: coming up 18 at PHX all the founders were in their chairs. Greg goes “Yep, caddied for her, her, her and her” Legend— Matthew Galloway (@matthewgalloway) November 23, 2017
In a first-person column for Golf Magazine last year, Gulbis focused on Sheridan while writing about the special bond between players and caddies. She wrote that she won the “looper lottery” when she first hired Sheridan in ’04.
“Greg and I have traveled the world, and today he is like family,” Gulbis wrote. “Sometimes, he’s a psychologist. Last year, my mom got sick and it was a distraction, but he was great. When I used to have boyfriend issues and breakup issues, he was my confidant. In a world where caddies sometimes spill secrets, Greg has kept a respectful silence, and I can’t thank him enough for that. He’s an extension of me.”
Four months after Gulbis wrote the column, Sheridan was diagnosed with cancer.
“The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time tour caddie, Greg Sheridan,” the LPGA tweeted. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP.”
The LPGA family is saddened to hear of the loss of long-time Tour caddie, Greg Sheridan. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and players he walked with down the fairways. #RIP pic.twitter.com/QKy0YdK249— LPGA (@LPGA) November 22, 2017
Dean Herden was among the legion of caddies saddened by the news.
“Greg was a great guy who I respected a lot and taught me some great things over the years,” Herden texted to GolfChannel.com.
Here are some of heartfelt messages that are rolling across Twitter:
Retired LPGA great Annika Sorenstam:
Sad to hear the passning of Greg Sheridan. This photo brings back many memories. Always respected his caddy skills and devotion to womens golf. @natalie_gulbis @LPGA #RIPGreg pic.twitter.com/lHU3Ixz9Vk— Annika Sorenstam (@ANNIKA59) November 23, 2017
LPGA commissioner Mike Whan in a retweet of Gulbis:
Golf Channel reporter and former tour player Jerry Foltz:
Professional caddies are often overlooked and underrated. But they're just as often the unsung MVP of a player's success. We just lost a great one. RIP Greg Sheridan. He was the 1st to welcome me to my LPGA assignment years ago. He will be missed eternally.— Jerry Foltz (@JerryFoltzGC) November 22, 2017
Rest with the Angels now, Greg Sheridan. ❤️— Christina Kim (@TheChristinaKim) November 22, 2017
LPGA caddie Shaun Clews:
RIP Greg Sheridan. One of the most successful and great caddies of World Golf, period.— Shaun Clews (@shaunclews1973) November 22, 2017
LPGA caddie Jonny Scott:
Sad to here that long time tour caddy Greg Sheridan has passed away! RIP Greg, you will be missed. — Jonny Scott (@stixy76) November 22, 2017
LPGA caddie Kevin Casas:
The world is a sadder place today without our buddy Greg Sheridan, a caddy and a friend for lifetimes...Godspeed buddy— Kevin Casas (@TheKevinCasas) November 23, 2017
LPGA pro Jennie Lee:
So sad to hear the news of long time LPGA caddie Greg Sheridan. I️ remember sitting next to him on the plane from Walmart to the US Open one year and he gave me the best words of wisdom on player/caddie chemistry. He will be missed greatly. Thinking of you @natalie_gulbis ❤️— Jennie Lee (@JennieLeeGolf) November 23, 2017