What We Learned: Titleholders

By Jason SobelNovember 18, 2012, 11:00 pm

Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from recent tournaments and news developments. This week, our writers weigh in on the never-ending sport that is golf and some impressive weeks from Na Yeon Choi, Michael Campbell and Miguel Angel Jimenez.

I get so bored during golf's offseason. There's just such a lack of anything worthwhile taking place this time of year. Take this past week as an example. Luke Donald won in Japan to pass Tiger Woods as No. 2 in the world. Ho-hum. Oh, and Adam Scott held off Ian Poulter to claim the gold jacket in Australia. Yawn. And Na Yeon Choi, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Henrik Stenson each won titles. Big deal. Second stage of Q-School? Only the most important week of some players' careers. Blayne Barber shakes off his recent DQ to win again on the NGA Tour? Just a terrific story, that's all. Toss in continued underlying subplots such as Rory McIlroy fleeing to Nike and the USGA's expected decision on anchored putters to break the downtime monotony. Well, guess what? These all add up to one definitive conclusion about golf's offseason: It doesn't really exist. – Jason Sobel

Kimchi is apparently like Popeye’s spinach.

For Na Yeon Choi, Korean cabbage cooked by her mother has the same mystical effects.

Choi won the CME Group Titleholders Sunday with her mother making the trip from South Korea. It marked the first time Choi's mother, Jeong Me Song, saw her daughter win outside South Korea. Her mom cooked Galbi, Korean barbecue, on the eve of the final round. She cooked kimchi all week with dinners.

“I had kimchi every day,” Choi said. “Whenever I hit my driver far, my caddie always says, `That’s the kimchi power.’” – Randall Mell

We might be witnessing Michael Campbell’s slow, long-awaited climb back to relevance. The latest example was this week’s UBS Hong Kong Open, where the New Zealander shared the 54-hole lead before finishing joint eighth. This, after a solo third last month in Portugal.

No, this isn’t to suggest that Campbell will top the Order of Merit in 2013. And no, this isn’t to suggest that Campbell will even win another European Tour event. But you can’t help but marvel at the man’s perseverance.

It’s been 2,618 days since his last victory, the 2005 World Match Play. That’s the year he won the U.S. Open, when he was ranked 23rd in the world. Seven years later, at that same event, he was 893rd.  

Campbell has eight European Tour victories, a combined career earnings of more than $15 million. So why continue to battle, to tee it up every week when he went 84 starts without recording a top 10? Maybe it’s pride. Maybe it’s the belief that the winning form is in there, somewhere. Maybe it’s about the money, or the respect. Maybe – probably – it’s because competing is the only thing he knows.

Whatever the reason, seeing Michael Campbell’s name on a leaderboard has never been a more welcome sight. – Ryan Lavner

Rory McIroy and Tiger Woods operate on desire. The difference is, Tiger never turned his off in his prime. When Rory's head and heart are engaged fully, he's a clear-cut No. 1. When they are not, he's a guy with weekends off. Woods never got out of Superman mode. Sometimes McIlroy just wants to be Clark Kent. – Mercer Baggs

In one of the pictures showing Miguel Angel Jimenez hoisting his third UBS Hong Kong Open trophy, he is also wielding a cigar between two fingers of his left hand.

Jimenez’s smile is a mile wide.

Can you blame him?

On Sunday, Jimenez became the oldest winner in European Tour history at 48 years and 318 days, beating back a strong field for one of the more unexpected wins in 2012.

It had been more than two years since Jimenez’s last European Tour victory. Of late, he’d warranted camera time more for his pre-round stretching routine than his golf. On Sunday, El Mecanico reminded the world that he still had a few good swings left.   It was the 19th European Tour victory of his career.

Jimenez will probably fall short of the World Golf Hall of Fame, but the exhibit could do worse than to honor him in some way. I have a suggestion. In one of the rooms place a glass box with an amber lock from his ponytail, a large wine glass and a burnt cigar. – Damon Hack

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Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

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Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.

Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.

Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.