Jeez Tiger Tiger Tiger

By Mercer BaggsMarch 2, 2009, 5:00 pm

 
HELLO! GOODBYE!: Tiger Woods' much anticipated return to action, following an eight-month hiatus due to knee surgery, was short lived. After winning his first-round match against Brendan Jones, 3 and 2, in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, he lost to Tim Clark, 4 and 2, in Round 2.
 
Backspin Woods wouldn't let on as to when he would play again, but you have to figure he'll play Doral and Bay Hill, before heading to Augusta. Even with only a small sampling, based on his early Match Play exit, it's a pretty good bet that he'll win one of those three events ' if not two ... or three of them.
 


 
OH, HEAVEN: Running blogs describing his every move. Clocks counting down his first-round match. Hundreds of media members right on his tail. Promotional ads running ad nauseum. Tiger. Tiger. Tiger. It was long awaited for some. It was pure overkill for others.
 
Backspin A lot of people joked that Golf Channel and other media outlets might as well have been comparing Tiger's return to the second coming of Jesus. The big difference is: J.C.'s not going to announce his return in a press release.
 


 
THE MASTER: Geoff Ogilvy won the WGC-Match Play for the second time in four years, narrowly escaping each of the first two rounds in extra holes and then routing good friend and neighbor Paul Casey , 4 and 3, in the 36-hole final.
 
Backspin Ogilvy is the match play master. But how will he fare at the Masters? With the season's first major on the horizon, Ogilvy would love nothing more than to become the first Aussie to win the green jacket. For the record, he's officially played Augusta National three times, with his best finish a tie for 16th in his debut.
 

 
YOU'RE GOOD ... JUST NOT AS GOOD AS ME: Lorena Ochoa, competing for the first time on the LPGA in 2009, won the Honda LPGA Thailand. The women's world No. 1 rallied past Paula Creamer to get her 25th career tour title.
 
Backspin The best part about Ochoa's victory was in the press conference afterward, she was asked if she believed that she was mentally tougher than her peers. 'Yes,' she answered. It's one thing to be the best; it's another to know you're the best. Ochoa knows it, we know it, and the rest of the LPGA knows it.
 


 
ALL BUT AUGUSTA: Mark Wilson earned his second career PGA Tour title by winning the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico, an opposite-field event. Wilson held off a handful of players seeking to, like him, add a secondary title to their resume, as well as a number of players looking for their first Tour win.
 
Backspin What Wilson didn't get was an automatic invite to the Masters, which does not recognize opposite-field victories. The top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking the week prior to the season's first major will get a ticket to Augusta. Unfortunately, Wilson's win only moved him to 150th in the world.
 

 
WITH YOU ALMOST ALL THE WAY: Greg Norman suggested that players on the PGA Tour take a pay cut and have tournament purses lowered. 'It seems like on the PGA Tour the players are still playing for a million dollars first week,' he said, 'like theyre recession-proof.'
 
Backspin Someone making over $1 million for winning a golf tournament is sublime. I have no problem with Norman's opinion ' as long as that opinion doesn't carry over to golf writers.
 


 
HAIR TODAY ...: Back to the Match Play: While Casey was runner-up to Ogilvy, Rory McIlroy likely had the second best week of anyone in the 64-man field. The 19-year-old was taken out by Ogilvy in the quarterfinals, but managed to win three matches along the way, as well as the American crowd.
 
Backspin McIlroy won just a few weeks ago on the European Tour and will compete in the Masters in April. He initially made a name for himself by tying for 42nd in the 2007 Open Championship. Expectations are higher than his 'fro right now.
 


 
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Thongchai Jaidee won the European Tour's Indonesian Open. ...The Charlotte event on the PGA Tour will now be known as the Quail Hollow Championship instead of the Wachovia Championship. ... Alistair Presnell won the Nationwide Tour's Moonah Classic.
 
Backspin It was Jaidee's first win in four years on the European circuit. ... Wachovia, the Stanford Financial fraud, Northern Trust's frivolous spending during the L.A. tournament. We'd feel sorry for for Commissioner Finchem ' if he didn't make roughly $5 million a year. ... Presnell may have had the best story of the week, saying if he didn't earn enough money over a four-tournament stretch (with this being No. 2), he'd have to return to the air conditioning industry. He's now fully exempt on the Nationwide Tour for 2009 and in good shape for the PGA Tour in 2010.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage 'WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
  • Full Coverage 'Mayakoba Golf Classic
  • Complete News Headlines
  • 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.

    RISING

    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.


    FALLING

    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.


    WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1956-57

    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.


    EUROPE'S BIG 5

    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.


    WITHIN A CALENDAR YEAR, 1969-70

    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.