Monsters ball at 90th PGA - COPIED

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 13, 2008, 4:00 pm
In Backspin, GolfChannel.com takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf ' with a spin.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
ST. PADDYS DAY: Padraig Harrington won the PGA Championship, his second consecutive major championship, and now has claimed three of the past six majors. The Irishman didnt win this one going away like he did the Open Championship last month at Birkdale, as he made three huge clutch putts on the final three holes ' 16 for par; 17 for birdie; and 18 for par ' to defeat Ben Curtis and Sergio Garcia by two shots.
 
Backspin When Tiger Woods went on the DL after the U.S. Open, critics said it was time for someone else to step up and take advantage of the situation. Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia were the names thrown around most often as the ones expected to produce the goods. Never once did we hear Padraig Harringtons name in that conversation. Now, two months after the U.S. Open, Harrington has established himself as the worlds second-best player and has as many major championships as Mickelson.
 

ANOTHER CLOSE CALL: Sergio Garcia was the victim of another major championship. The Spaniard has 14 top-10 finishes in majors but hasnt collected a victory, meaning hell continue to carry the label of BPNTWAMC ' Best Player Never To Win A Major Championship. He led by one in the middle of the 16th fairway and lost by two.
 
Backspin El Nino will win one of these things eventually but it aint going to get any easier. Harrington is plucking off majors at a Tiger Woods-like clip and, um, well, Tiger Woods will be back for the Masters in April to continue to pluck off majors at a Tiger Woods-like clip. If the guy made putts in majors like he does in the Ryder Cup, hed have won more majors than Harrington and likely would have stolen two from the Irishman.
 

CURSE OF THE LIONS: Ben Curtis tied for second place with Garcia at Oakland Hills. The Ohio native led midway through the final round but lost a chance to validate his shocking victory in the 2003 British Open as he bogeyed two of the final four holes for a 71. He did, however, move up to No. 7 in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings to qualify for the team next month at Valhalla.
 
Backspin What do you expect when you wear Detroit Lions paraphernalia all week? The Lions havent had a winning season since they were 9-7 in 2000. Wearing the Lions colors endeared Curtis to the galleries but it didnt do much for his karma. Tip for Curtis: Next time if you want to have your cake and eat it too, it may be better to go with Detroit Pistons gear.
 

SCARY STUFF: Living up to its nickname as 'The Monster,' Oakland Hills played very difficult as the winning score was 3 under, the highest winning score in relation to par at the PGA since 1987 when Larry Nelson won at 1 under.
 
BackspinThe Monster must have given the players nightmares all week, as hard greens and fairways, and impossibly thick rough made for an extremely difficult test of golf. It was one that many of the competitors did not appreciate, as Robert Allenby called the challenging setup, 'Crap.' Maybe we should send Mr. Allenby a thesaurus?
 

DIDN'T SEE THIS COMING...OR DID WE?: Kenny Perry withdrew from Oakland Hills after shooting an opening round 79 due to an eye injury he suffered while removing a contact lens just two days prior. The Kentuckian, who had made the cut in 16 of his last 17 PGA Championships, was playing in his first major of the year.
 
Backspin Putting aside Perry's peculiar decision to play in Milwaukee rather than Birkdale, it would be tragic if a scratched cornea were to keep the 48-year-old from playing in the Ryder Cup Matches. It left the Kentucky native with just one round of golf played in majors in the 2008 season. Very, very weird.
 

GLORY'S LAST CUT:There were many casualties of Oakland Hills as multiple big names failed to qualify for the weekend. Adam Scotts, Lee Westwoods and K.J. Choi's quests for their first major were cut short, while major champions Zach Johnson, Trevor Immelman and Vijay Singh also had the weekend off.
 
Backspin Fresh off a victory at Firestone, Singh's putting woes continued as the Fijian four-putted his final hole on Friday to miss the cut. Westwood made sure to let the PGA of America know what he felt about the golf course before heading home early after carding 77-78. The Englishman ripped the layout saying that the organizers 'are sucking the fun out of the major championships.' Thanks Lee, but weren't not sure majors championships were ever supposed to be 'fun.'
 

ANOTHER GOODBYE: The Ginn Tribute Hosted by Annika ended its two-year run as an LPGA event, citing lack of sponsorship as the main reason for canceling the tournament
 
Backspin Annika's event had the LPGA's third highest pay out at $2.6 million, but with its namesake calling it a career the major draw was gone. And while we're talking about Sorenstam, the Swede tied for sixth place on the LET's Scandinavian TPC, playing for the final time in her home country.
 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Duke star Amanda Blumenherst won the U.S. Womens Amateur on Sunday, beating NCAA champion Azahara Munoz, 2 and 1, in the 36-hole final at Eugene Country Club...Scott Piercy won this week on the Nationwide Tour with for his first career victory on the circuit...Eric Manning shot a second-round 88 at Oakland Hills to take the honor of highest round shot at the 90th PGA Championship.
 
Backspin Blumenherst, a three-time NCAA Player of the Year and runner-up at this event in 2007, had to rally for the win as she found herself 1-down after the morning 18 and still a hole behind through 27... Piercy drained a 20-footer for birdie on the 17th hole to seal the deal. 'To make that at that time you cant ask for anything more, Piercy said...Manning, the Cortland Country Club head pro in Syracuse, N.Y., fired a sublime no birdie, two triple bogey, three double bogey, six bogey round on Friday.
 

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage -- PGA Championship
  • Full Coverage -- U.S. Women's Amateur
  • Full Coverage -- Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open
  • More Headlines
  • Getty Images

    Tiger's checklist: How he can contend at Augusta

    By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 8:31 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Augusta is already on the minds of most players here at the Honda Classic, and that includes the only one in the field with four green jackets.

    Yes, Tiger Woods has been talking about the Masters ever since he started this latest comeback at Torrey Pines. These three months are all about trying to build momentum for the year’s first major.

    Woods hasn’t revealed his schedule past this week, but his options are limited. He’s a good bet to play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he has won eight times, but adding another start would be a departure from the norm. He’s not eligible for the two World Golf Championship events, in Mexico and Austin, and he has never played the Valspar Championship or the Houston Open.

    So there’s a greater sense of urgency this week at PGA National, which is realistically one of his final tune-ups.

    How will Woods know if he’s ready to contend at Augusta? Here’s his pre-Masters checklist:

    1. Stay healthy

    So far, so good, as Woods tries to resume a normal playing schedule following four back surgeries since 2014. Though he vowed to learn from his past mistakes and not push himself, it was a promising sign that Woods felt strong enough to sign up for the Honda, the second of back-to-back starts on separate coasts.

    Another reason for optimism on the health front: The soreness that Woods felt after his season opener at Torrey Pines wasn’t related to his surgically repaired back. No, what ached most were his feet – he wasn’t used to walking 72 holes on hilly terrain.

    Woods is stiffer than normal, but that’s to be expected. His back is fused.

    2. Figure out his driver

    Augusta National is more forgiving off the tee than most major courses, putting more of a premium on approach shots and recoveries.


    Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


    That’s good news for Woods, who has yet to find a reliable tee shot. Clearly, he is most comfortable playing a fade and wants to take the left side of the course out of play, but in competition he’s been plagued by a two-way miss.

    In two starts this year, Woods has hit only 36 percent of the fairways, no matter if he was using driver, fairway wood or long iron.

    Unfortunately, Woods is unlikely to gain any significant insight into his driver play this week. PGA National’s Champion Course isn’t overly long, but there is water on 15 of the 18 holes. As a result, he said he likely will hit driver only four times a round, maybe five, and otherwise rely on his 3-wood and 2-iron. 

    Said Rory McIlroy: “Being conservative off the tee is something that you have to do here to play well.”

    That won’t be the case at Augusta.

    3. Clean up his iron play

    As wayward as Woods has been off the tee, his iron play hasn’t impressed, either.

    At Riviera, he hit only 16 greens in regulation – his fewest in a Tour event as a professional. Of course, Woods’ chances of hitting the green are reduced when he’s playing from the thick rough, sand and trees, but he also misfired on six of the eight par 3s.

    Even when Woods does find the green, he’s not close enough to the hole. Had he played enough rounds to qualify, his proximity to the hole (39 feet, 7 inches) would rank 161st on Tour.

    That won’t be good enough at Augusta, where distance control and precision are paramount.

    Perhaps that’s why Justin Thomas said last week what many of us were thinking: “I would say he’s a pretty good ways away.”

    4. Get into contention somewhere

    As much as he would have liked to pick off a win on the West Coast, Woods said that it’s not a prerequisite to have a chance at the Masters. He cited 2010, when he tied for fourth despite taking four months off after the fallout from his scandal.

    In reality, though, there hasn’t been an out-of-nowhere Masters champion since Charl Schwartzel in 2011. Since then, every player who eventually donned the green jacket either already had a win that year or at least a top-3 finish worldwide.

    “I would like to play well,” Woods said. “I would like to win golf tournaments leading into it. The years I’ve won there, I’ve played really well early.”

    Indeed, he had at least one win in all of the years he went on to win the Masters (1997, 2000, ’01, ’05). Throw in the fact that Woods is nearly five years removed from his last Tour title, and it’s reasonable to believe that he at least needs to get himself into contention before he can seriously entertain winning another major.

    And so that’s why he’s here at the Honda, trying to find his game with seven weeks to go. 

    “It’s tournament reps,” he said, “and I need tournament reps.”

    Add that to the rest of his pre-Masters checklist.

    Getty Images

    Players winner to get 3-year exemption into PGA

    By Rex HoggardFebruary 21, 2018, 8:01 pm

    Although The Players isn’t golf’s fifth major, it received a boost in that direction this week.

    The PGA of America has adjusted its criteria for eligibility into the PGA Championship, extending an exemption for the winner of The Players to three years.

    According to an official with the PGA of America, the association felt the winner of The Players deserved more than a single-year exemption, which had been the case, and the move is consistent with how the PGA Tour’s annual flagship event is treated by the other majors.

    Winners of The Players were already exempt for three years into the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship.

    The change will begin with this year’s PGA Championship.

    Getty Images

    Thomas: Playing in front of Tiger even more chaotic

    By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:52 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas may be going from the frying pan to the fire of Tiger Woods’ pairings.

    Translation: He’s going from being grouped with Woods last week in the first two rounds at the Genesis Open to being grouped directly in front of Woods this week at the Honda Classic.

    “Which might be even worse than playing with him,” Thomas said Wednesday.

    Typically, the pairing in front of Woods deals with a lot of gallery movement, with fans racing ahead to get in position to see Woods’ next shot.

    Thomas was quoted after two rounds with Tiger at Riviera saying fans “got a little out of hand,” and saying it’s disappointing some golf fans today think it’s “so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we’re trying to hit shots.”

    With 200,000 fans expected this week at the Honda Classic, and with the Goslings Bear Trap pavilion setting a party mood at the 16th green and 17th tee, that portion of the course figures to be quite lively at PGA National.


    Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


    Thomas was asked about that.

    “I touched on this a little bit last week,” Thomas said. “I think it got blown out of proportion, was just taken out of context, and worded differently than how I said it or meant it.

    “I love the fans. The fans are what I hope to have a lot of, what all of us hope to have a lot of. We want them cheering us on. But it's those certain fans that are choosing to yell at the wrong times, or just saying stuff that's completely inappropriate.”

    Thomas said it’s more than ill-timed shouts. It’s the nature of some things being said.

    “It's one thing if it's just you and I talking, but when you're around kids, when you're around women, when you're around families, or just around people in general, some of the stuff they are saying to us is just extremely inappropriate,” he said. “There’s really no place for it anywhere, especially on a golf course.

    “I feel like golf is pretty well known as a classy sport, not that other sports aren't, but it has that reputation.”

    Thomas said the nature of the 17th hole at PGA National’s Champion Course makes it a more difficult tee shot than the raucous 16th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Typically, players like to hear fans get into the action before or after they hit shots. Ill-timed bluster, however, makes a shot like the one at Honda’s 17th even tougher.

    “That hole is hard enough,” Thomas said. “I don't need someone yelling in my ear on my backswing that I'm going to hit it in the water, to make it any harder. I hope it gets better, just for the sake of the game. That's not helping anything. That's not helping grow the game.”

    Those who follow golf know an ill-timed shout in a player’s backswing is different than anything a fan says at a football, basketball or baseball game. An ill-timed comment in a backswing has a greater effect on the outcome of a competition.

    “Just in terms of how much money we're playing for, how many points we're playing for ... this is our jobs out here, and you hate to somehow see something that a fan does, or something that they yell, influence something that affects [a player’s] job,” Thomas said.

    Getty Images

    Rory: Phil said RC task force just copied Europe

    By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:21 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two weeks ago, Rory McIlroy quizzed Phil Mickelson about what the Americans got out of the U.S. Ryder Cup task force’s overhaul.

    McIlroy and Mickelson were paired together at Pebble Beach.

    “Basically, all they are doing is copying what the Europeans have done,” McIlroy said.  “That's what he said.”

    The Europeans claimed their sixth of seven Ryder Cups with their victory at Gleneagles in 2014. That brought about a sea change in the way the United States approached the Ryder Cup. Mickelson called out the tactics in Gleneagles of captain Tom Watson, who was outmaneuvered by European captain Paul McGinley.


    Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


    The Americans defeated Europe at Hazeltine two years ago with that new European model.

    “He said the first thing they did in that task force was Phil played a video, a 12-minute video of Paul McGinley to all of them,” McIlroy said. “So, they are copying what we do, and it's working for them. It's more cohesive, and the team and the core of that team are more in control of what they are doing, instead of the PGA of America recruiting and someone telling them what to do.”