The Man of the Matches

By Mercer BaggsOctober 12, 2009, 11:24 am

U.S. Presidents Cup team

THE PRESIDENTS MEN: Before we get to Jordan, we'll start with the actual matches [with a nod to Tim Finchem]: The United States won the Presidents Cup, 19 1/2-14 1/2 at Harding Park. The victory gave the U.S. a 6-1-1 record in the biennial competition, which dates back to 1994. The Americans are a perfect 5-0 on home soil.
Backspin When Great Britain and Ireland were getting beat down every two years in the Ryder Cup, they invited continental Europe to join the battle. Unfortunately for the International team, they have no cavalry to call. Some say the Rest of the World needs to win to legitimize this event. Actually, being competitive would just be nice. Would you be more inclined to care about the Presidents Cup if the U.S. lost every now and again? Unless you live outside the States, the answer is probably no. Because, honestly, do you even really care if the U.S. wins? You just want to be entertained, regardless of who wins – and regular routs aren't fun to watch.

Steve Stricker

MR. PERFECT: Tiger Woods became the third player in Presidents Cup history [Mark O'Meara, 1996; Shigeki Maruyama, 1998] to go 5-0-0. Woods won four team matches with Steve Stricker as his partner and then punished Y.E. Yang for beating him at the PGA Championship, 6 and 5, in the Sunday singles.
Backspin Tiger might not lose any sleep when he plays poorly in a team event, but he still wants to win. That was evident in his reactions down the stretch Saturday evening and in the way he icily dismissed Yang in the singles. You had to feel for Y.E. Remember when Norman begged off a singles match against Woods in 1998 and then lost, 1 up? Maybe this was like a frat boy finally getting to haze someone after enduring it himself.

Phil Mickelson

 MR. ALMOST PERFECT: Tiger Woods wasn't the only U.S. team member to go undefeated. Phil Mickelson, who once went 0-5-0 in the Presidents Cup, tallied a 4-0-1 record. Unlike Woods, who had Steve Stricker has his partner in all four team sessions, Mickelson played with three different teammates over the first three days: Justin Leonard, Anthony Kim and Sean O'Hair.
Backspin Mickelson without a loss? Mickelson the emotional rock for his partners? Phil Mickelson? The same Phil Mickelson who tunes out golf after the August like the NFL? We kind of like this Phil Mickelson.

Michael Jordan

DUDE, I'M MICHAEL JORDAN: Standing at 6'6' and weighing in with six NBA championship titles, basketball legend Michael Jordan nearly overshadowed the entire Presidents Cup competition. Jordan, who was made an 'assistant-assistant' by U.S. captain Fred Couples, played a practice round with the U.S. team Monday, was asked to quit smoking on the course Tuesday, was reportedly asked by the Tour brass to not partake in the opening ceremonies Wednesday, and whizzed around  from group to group in his own golf cart Thursday-Sunday.
Backspin Jordan awed many, angered some and befuddled others. He said his job was to inspire and motivate the U.S. team, but it's not like they really needed inspiration or motivation to win this event. What he ultimately did was take some of the focus off the Americans and add some levity and cohesion to the team room. He may have his detractors, but Corey Pavin might want to measure him for outfits in Wales.
Camilo Villegas and Vijay Singh

UP STREAM WITH A PADDLE: The U.S. team's behind-the-scenes Ping-Pong matches once again made headlines. And as evidenced above, even the International players got in on the action. Tiger Woods, Zach Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Kenny Perry and several others were peppered with questions about who was beating whom and who was the best. The intense table tennis matches have become the highlight of team-room camaraderie during Presidents and Ryder cup matches.
Backspin If the Ping-Pong matches were taped and televised at the same time as the actual Presidents Cup matches, I guarantee you the former would get the higher ratings. Golf is such a guarded sport, regarding the players' private lives, that we want any kind of glimpse we can get into what they do outside the ropes or behind closed doors – even if it's with red, rubber paddles and a yellow ball.

Greg Norman and Fred Couples

HEY, SKIPPER: Fred Couples captained the United States to victory over Greg Norman's International team. It was the first time either man had been at the helm in a Presidents Cup. Couples participated as a player four times, going 9-5-2. Norman played three times, with a 7-6-1 record.
Backspin Norman could serve as captain again as the teams square off in 2011 in Australia, where the Internationals won their only cup in 1998. Couples, meanwhile, might make for a regular U.S. skipper. He might not be best suited for Ryder Cup formality, but he seemed to be a perfect fit for the Friday casual Presidents Cup.

Adam Scott

NOT EASY TO WATCH: Each captain had one of their wildcard selections impress, while the other pick panned. Hunter Mahan went 2-1-1 for the U.S. side, while U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover went 0-3-1. For the Internationals, 18-year-old rookie Ryo Ishikawa went 3-2-0 with veteran Adam Scott going 1-4-0.
Backspin The American picks were never scrutinized, but the International selections were definitely on the hot seat. Ishikawa validated his spot on the team and showed this may be the first of many Presidents Cup appearances. Scott, on the other hand, not only lost four times, but looked like a beaten man. Not even a little help from a partner could snap Scott out of his funk.

Anthony Kim and Robert Allenby

BIG SHOES TO FILL: After falling to Anthony Kim in the Sunday singles, 5 and 3, Robert Allenby took a swipe at his 24-year-old opponent, calling him the 'current John Daly.' Allenby says friends of his spotted Kim 'come in sideways' at 4 a.m. Sunday morning, less than 6 hours before their tee time. Kim denied the accusations, calling Allenby's statements 'absolutely false.'
Backspin First of all, it doesn't say much for Allenby that he got smoked by a guy whom he believes got snockered the night before. Secondly, why would he make these statement to the press based on hearsay? And finally, even if Kim does have a love of late-night partying, what is it of Allenby's business? We're quite sure Allenby didn't make the above statements because he's concerned about a friend.

Michael Phelps and Tiger Woods

WELCOME TO THE OLYMPICS: Golf was added to the 2016 and 2020 Olympics, the International Olympic Committee announced Friday. The sport last participated in Games in 1904. The format will consist of 72-holes of stroke-play for men and women, with 60 players in each field.
Backspin As Rex Hoggard pointed out, there are still plenty of hurdles to clear to make golf a successful Olympic sport. But one thing people seem to be forgetting is that the Rio de Janeiro games are still seven years away. By then Tiger Woods will be 40; Phil Mickelson 46; Padraig Harrington, who lobbied hard for golf's participation, nearly 45. Who knows what will become of the current crop of players in their 20s and early 30s? The point being: the best players in the world today, on both the men's and women's side, may not be the best players in seven year's time. The re-introduction of golf into the Olympics could be the initial introduction of a lot of fresh faces to the world.
Ross McGowan

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:  England's Ross McGowan won his first European Tour event at the Madrid Masters. ... Christopher Baryla won his first Nationwide Tour event at the Chattanooga Classic. ... Nathan Smith won his second U.S. Mid-Amateur title. ... Martha Stacy Leach won the U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur title.
Backspin McGowan used a Saturday 60 to launch him to victory. ... The Canadian moved from 57th to 20th on the season money list, with the top 25 getting 2010 PGA Tour cards. ... Smith also won in 2003. ... Leach is the sister of three-time U.S. Women's Open champion Hollis Stacy.

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CareerBuilder Challenge: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 1:10 pm

The PGA Tour shifts from Hawaii to Southern California for the second full-field event of the year. Here are the key stats and information for the CareerBuilder Challenge. Click here for full-field tee times.

How to watch (all rounds on Golf Channel):

Thursday, Rd. 1: 3-7PM ET; live stream:

Friday, Rd. 2: 3-7PM ET; live stream:

Saturday, Rd. 3: 3-7PM ET; live stream:

Sunday, Rd. 4: 3-7PM ET; live stream:

Purse: $5.9 million ($1,062,000 to winner)

Courses: PGA West, Stadium Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,113); PGA West, Nicklaus Tournament Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,159); La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,060) NOTE: All three courses will be used for the first three rounds but only the Stadium Course will be used for the final round.

Defending champion: Hudson Swafford (-20) - defeated Adam Hadwin by one stroke to earn his first PGA Tour win.

Notables in the field

Phil Mickelson

* This is his first start of 2018. It's the fourth consecutive year he has made this event the first one on his yearly calendar.

* For the second year in a row he will serve as the tournament's official ambassador.

* He has won this event twice - in 2002 and 2004.

* This will be his 97th worldwide start since his most recent win, The Open in 2013.

Jon Rahm

* Ranked No. 3 in the world, he finished runner-up in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

* In 37 worldwide starts as a pro, he has 14 top-5 finishes.

* Last year he finished T-34 in this event.

Adam Hadwin

* Last year in the third round, he shot 59 at La Quinta Country Club. It was the ninth - and still most recent - sub-60 round on Tour.

* In his only start of 2018, the Canadian finished 32nd in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Brian Harman

* Only player on the PGA Tour with five top-10 finishes this season.

* Ranks fifth in greens in regulation this season.

* Finished third in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T-4 in the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Brandt Snedeker

* Making only his third worldwide start since last June at the Travelers Championship. He has been recovering from a chest injury.

* This is his first start since he withdrew from the Indonesian Masters in December because of heat exhaustion.

* Hasn't played in this event since missing the cut in 2015.

Patrick Reed

* Earned his first career victory in this event in 2014, shooting three consecutive rounds of 63.

* This is his first start of 2018.

* Last season finished seventh in strokes gained: putting, the best ranking of his career.

(Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.) 

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Teenager Im wins season opener

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 10:23 pm

South Korea's Sungjae Im cruised to a four-shot victory at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, becoming just the second teenager to win an event on the Tour.

Im started the final day of the season-opening event in a share of the lead but still with six holes left in his third round. He was one shot behind Carlos Ortiz when the final round began, but moved ahead of the former Player of the Year thanks to a 7-under 65 in rainy and windy conditions. Im's 13-under total left him four clear of Ortiz and five shots ahead of a quartet of players in third.

Still more than two months shy of his 20th birthday, Im joins Jason Day as the only two teens to win on the developmental circuit. Day was 19 years, 7 months and 26 days old when he captured the 2007 Legend Financial Group Classic.

Recent PGA Tour winners Si Woo Kim and Patrick Cantlay and former NCAA champ Aaron Wise all won their first Tour event at age 20.

Other notable finishes in the event included Max Homa (T-7), Erik Compton (T-13), Curtis Luck (T-13) and Lee McCoy (T-13). The Tour will remain in the Bahamas for another week, with opening round of The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic set to begin Sunday.

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Mickelson grouped with Z. Johnson at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 8:28 pm

He's not the highest-ranked player in this week's field, but Phil Mickelson will likely draw the biggest crowd at the CareerBuilder Challenge as he makes his first start of 2018. Here are a few early-round, marquee groupings to watch as players battle the three-course rotation in the Californian desert (all times ET):

12:10 p.m. Thursday, 11:40 a.m. Friday, 1:20 p.m. Saturday: Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson

Mickelson is making his fourth straight trip to Palm Springs, having cracked the top 25 each of the last three times. In addition to their respective amateur partners, he'll play the first three rounds alongside a fellow Masters champ in Johnson, who tied for 14th last week in Hawaii and finished third in this event in 2014.

11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson

At No. 3 in the world, Rahm is the highest-ranked player teeing it up this week and the Spaniard returns to an event where he finished T-34 last year in his tournament debut. He'll play the first two rounds alongside Watson, who is looking to bounce back from a difficult 2016-17 season and failed to crack the top 50 in two starts in the fall.

11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker

Reed made the first big splash of his career at this event in 2014, shooting three straight rounds of 63 en route to his maiden victory. He'll be joined by Snedeker, whose bid for a Masters bid via the top 50 of the world rankings came up short last month and who hasn't played this event since a missed cut in 2015.

1:10 p.m. Thursday, 12:40 p.m. Friday, 12:10 p.m. Saturday: Patton Kizzire, Bill Haas

Kizzire heads east after a whirlwind Sunday ended with his second win of the season in a six-hole playoff over James Hahn in Honolulu. He'll play alongside Haas, who won this event in both 2010 and 2015 to go with a runner-up finish in 2011 and remains the tournament's all-time leading money winner.

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Mackay still a caddie at heart, even with a microphone

By Doug FergusonJanuary 16, 2018, 7:34 pm

HONOLULU – All it took was one week back on the bag to remind Jim ''Bones'' Mackay what he always loved about being a caddie.

It just wasn't enough for this to be the ultimate mic drop.

Mackay traded in his TV microphone at the Sony Open for the 40-pound bag belonging to Justin Thomas.

It was his first time caddying since he split with Phil Mickelson six months ago. Mackay was only a temporary replacement at Waialae for Jimmy Johnson, a good friend and Thomas' regular caddie who has a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that will keep him in a walking boot for the next month.

''The toughest thing about not caddying is missing the competition, not having a dog in the fight,'' Mackay said before the final round. ''There's nothing more rewarding as a caddie, in general terms, when you say, 'I don't like 6-iron, I like 7,' and being right. I miss that part of it.''

The reward now?

''Not stumbling over my words,'' he said. ''And being better than I was the previous week.''

He has done remarkably well since he started his new job at the British Open last summer, except for that time he momentarily forgot his role. Parts of that famous caddie adage – ''Show up, keep up, shut up'' – apparently can apply to golf analysts on the ground.

During the early hours of the telecast, before Johnny Miller came on, Justin Leonard was in the booth.

''It's my job to report on what I see. It's not my job to ask questions,'' Mackay said. ''I forgot that for a minute.''

Leonard was part of a booth discussion on how a comfortable pairing can help players trying to win a major. That prompted Mackay to ask Leonard if he found it helpful at the 1997 British Open when he was trying to win his first major and was paired with Fred Couples in the final round at Royal Troon.

''What I didn't know is we were going to commercial in six seconds,'' Mackay said. ''I would have no way of knowing that, but I completely hung Justin out to dry. He's now got four seconds to answer my long-winded question.''

During the commercial break, the next voice Mackay heard belonged to Tommy Roy, the executive golf producer at NBC.

''Bones, don't ever do that again.''

It was Roy who recognized the value experienced caddies could bring to a telecast. That's why he invited Mackay and John Wood, the caddie for Matt Kuchar, into the control room at the 2015 Houston Open so they could see how it all worked and how uncomfortable it can be to hear directions coming through an earpiece.

Both worked as on-course reporters at Sea Island that fall.

And when Mickelson and Mackay parted ways after 25 years, Roy scooped up the longtime caddie for TV.

It's common for players to move into broadcasting. Far more unusual is for a caddie to be part of the mix. Mackay loves his new job. Mostly, he loves how it has helped elevate his profession after so many years of caddies being looked upon more unfavorably than they are now.

''I want to be a caddie that's doing TV,'' he said. ''That's what I hope to come across as. The guys think this is good for caddies. And if it's good for caddies, that makes me happy. Because I'm a caddie. I'll always be a caddie.''

Not next week at Torrey Pines, where Mickelson won three times. Not a week later in Phoenix, where Mackay lives. Both events belong to CBS.

And not the Masters.

He hasn't missed Augusta since 1994, when Mickelson broke his leg skiing that winter.

''That killed me,'' he said, ''but not nearly as much as it's going to kill me this year. I'll wake up on Thursday of the Masters and I'll be really grumpy. I'll probably avoid television at all costs until the 10th tee Sunday. And I'll watch. But it will be, within reason, the hardest day of my life.''

There are too many memories, dating to when he was in the gallery right of the 11th green in 1987 when Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman. He caddied for Mize for two years, and then Scott Simpson in 1992, and Mickelson the rest of the way. He was on the bag for Lefty's three green jackets.

Mackay still doesn't talk much about what led them to part ways, except to say that a player-caddie relationship runs its course.

''If you lose that positive dynamic, there's no point in continuing,'' he said. ''It can be gone in six months or a year or five years. In our case, it took 25 years.''

He says a dozen or so players called when they split up, and the phone call most intriguing was from Roy at NBC.

''I thought I'd caddie until I dropped,'' Mackay said.

He never imagined getting yardages and lining up putts for anyone except the golfer whose bag he was carrying. Now it's for an audience that measures in the millions. Mackay doesn't look at it as a second career. And he won't rule out caddying again.

''It will always be tempting,'' he said. ''I'll always consider myself a caddie. Right now, I'm very lucky and grateful to have the job I do.''

Except for that first week in April.