Oh Rickie Youre So Fine

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 20, 2009, 7:16 pm

Rickie Fowler

CLOTHES MAKE THE MAN: Rickie Fowler, fresh off his perfect performance in the Walker Cup, missed the cut in his professional debut at the Nationwide Tour's Albertsons Boise Open. Fowler shot 73-71 for a 2-over total, five shots removed from the 3-under cut line. Sam Saunders, the grandson of Arnold Palmer, also missed the cut in his first Nationwide Tour event, shooting 71-71.
Backspin Fowler needs another Puma logo, in addition to the ones on his hat, his shirt, his belt buckle, his pants and his shoes. Maybe forearm tattoos [Of course, I'd name my next child Puma, if they paid me enough]. And not to poke fun - OK, to poke fun - but what's up with his hair? Your hair doesn't look like that with a hat on unless you meticulously styled it that way. Wonder if he prefers Fop or if he's a Dapper Dan man.

Na Yeon Choi

CHOI-OUS OCCASION: Na Yeon Choi claimed her first career LPGA title, capturing the limited-field Samsung World Championship by one stroke over Ai Miyazato. Choi became the ninth different Asian-born player to win on the LPGA this season.
Backspin Choi built a seven-stroke lead on the front nine Sunday, but lost it all on the back. Miyazato actually led by one until depositing her second shot into the water on the par-5 18th at Torrey Pines South. She made bogey, while Choi responded with a tournament-winning birdie on the same hole. Meanwhile, Jiyai Shin, the tour's leading money winner who has built a reputation for final-round comebacks, could only muster a 2-over 74 and finished five back in solo third place.

Lorena Ochoa

GETTING CLOSER: Lorena Ochoa tied 2008 champion Paula Creamer for fourth place at the Samsung World Championship. Ochoa had five birdies over her first 10 holes Sunday, but had no birdies, one bogey and one double bogey [on 18] over her final eight holes She remains winless on the LPGA since April.
Backspin Ochoa admitted during the week that personal matters, including her impending marriage to Andrés Conesa Labastida, the CEO of AeroMéxico and 40-year-old father of three, have disrupted her on-course focus. This week's result, however, was her second consecutive top-10, after having gone two months without a finish inside the top 25. There are still six tournaments left on the 2009 LPGA schedule, one of which she will be defending [Navistar LPGA Classic] and one of which she will be hosting [Lorena Ochoa Invitational]. She might not be able to catch Jiyai Shin on the money list or in the Player of the Year standings, but a strong finish in '09 could lead to a rebirth of dominance in 2010.

Donna Orender and Amy Mickelson

GOOD TO SEE YOU: Amy Mickelson returned to the public spotlight this past week when she participated in a LPGA event at Torrey Pines as part of the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit. Amy, who is recovering from breast cancer surgery, was representing the Phil and Amy Mickelson Foundation.
Backspin Amy, as usual, was a wonderful sight, and we can only assume that means her recovery is going well. On other topic, the woman to her right is WNBA president Donna Orender. Was her presence any indication that she may be the next LPGA commissioner? She's purportedly one of the finalists for the job.

Rafael Cabrera-Bello

ZERO TO 60 IN 18 HOLES: Rafael Cabrera-Bello fired an 11-under 60 in the final round to win the Austrian Golf Open by one shot over Benn Barham. Barham had led after each of the first three rounds, and was eight clear of Cabrera-Bello to start Sunday. Cabrera-Bello, however, notched his first European Tour victory by recording 11 birdies and no bogeys. The score matched the lowest round in tour history.
Backspin Normally, Backspin would place the results of the Austrian Golf Open in the 'In Case You Missed It' section. But when a man does was Cabrera-Bello did, he deserves special mention. Plus, there really wasn't much going on in golf this past week so we needed some filler.

Jay Haas

GREATER THAN EVERYONE: Jay Haas, the two-time defending Player of the Year on the Champions Tour, picked up his first win of 2009 at the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn. Haas birdied five of his final six holes for a 7-under 65 and a two-shot triumph over Andy Bean and Russ Cochran.
Backspin The victory was a relief to Haas, who likely won't earn P.O.Y. honors for a third consecutive season, but at least avoided being shut-out in the win column. In case you were wondering, Fred Funk currently leads the Charles Schwab Cup points race and Bernhard Langer tops the money list. Langer has three wins this season, but no major victories. Funk has only one win, but it was the U.S. Senior Open. Then there's Loren Roberts, who has three wins, including a major [Senior British]. In case you were wondering.

Torrey Pines

GIMME MORE: As previously mentioned, this past week's Samsung World Championship was contested at Torrey Pines South. The layout played to a par 72 and measured 6,721 yards. It marked the first time since 1983 that Torrey Pines hosted an LPGA event.
Backspin We know it's easier said than done, but it would be great for the ladies to play some of the game's more recognizable courses. They do it at the Women's British Open, and it would be enjoyable to see that translate Stateside. The players would most certainly enjoy it and the fans would get a kick out of it, too.

A MILLION FOR ONE: Jason Hargett holed a 9-iron from 150 yards to win one million dollars at the Mark Eaton Celebrity Golf Classic. The 35-year-old restaurant manager landed his ball 10 feet past the hole and watched as it rolled back into the cup. Hargett, who was using his brother's clubs, said he almost didn't take part in the event due to a sore wrist.
Backspin This is the way people should react when something amazing happens on a golf course. This is how Lucas Glover should have reacted after he won the U.S. Open, not like he had just been given a flu shot.

Jim Thorpe

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Jim Thorpe pled guilty to two counts of failure to pay income taxes. ... Vinny Giles won the U.S. Senior Amateur. ... Former Secretary of State Condolezza Rice became a member of Shoal Creek. ... Ruth Day, a 64-year-old retiree from England, made two holes-in-one in the same round. ...U.S. club pros routed GB&I in the PGA Cup.
Backspin Thorpe agreed to pay all taxes, interest, and penalties to the Internal Revenue Service for 2002-04, which totals about $1.5 million. ... Giles, 66, won the U.S. Amateur in 1973, making his 37 years the longest span between multiple titles for any USGA champion. ...Shoal Creek was a symbol of racism when it hosted the 1990 PGA Championship. ... Day didn't start playing golf until her mid-50s. ...The Americans won 17 1/2 - 8 1/2 at Loch Lomond.

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.