Quotes of the Week

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 9, 2012, 5:11 pm

'I think things have changed, and he's clearly not the golfer that he was. But I still think Tiger's the best player that there is. Now, he's not No. 1 right now, but I still think he's the best player. But having said that, he's not the player that he was when he was winning 45 percent of his tournaments.' – Hank Haney, on his former student, Tiger Woods.

'I don’t want to pour cold water on it, but I don’t think it should be in the Olympic Games. I still think of Olympics as track and field and not golf, to be honest with you. We have our most important championships (the four majors). You have golf in the Olympics, you have diluted the importance, in a sense, of the four major championships.' – Tom Watson, on golf's return to the Olympics in 2016.

'People may hear the recording and think I yelled at those guys every day. Coaches know that sometimes the guys need a hug, and sometimes they need to hear the hard truth about their performance.' – Huntingdon College golf coach Matt Mahanic, a month after being fired for his profanity-laced rant to players.

'Oh boy. This is a tough topic for me because I have to be careful of what I say.'Keegan Bradley, at a junior clinic prior to the Franklin Templeton Shootout. Bradley was responding to juniors' questions on the proposed ban on anchored putting.

'Matt was a good friend of mine, (or) so I thought. He said some things that offended me, and I approached him to clarify it and clear the air, and he pretty much laughed in my face.' – Grant Buchanan, who is James Nitties' caddie, on Matt Kelly, who is Marc Leishman's caddie. The two got into a fight, while their players were warming up for the first round of the Australian Open. They punched each other and wrestled around on the ground in front of both players and spectators.

'We’re judged on wins ultimately, and this year has been a great year.'Rory McIlroy, after being named PGA Tour Player of the Year.

'People are always like, 'You're taking a shot at him.' I'm not taking a shot at him. But it's just the way it is. Everybody can see it. But you know what? You don't even have to see it. It's like what Bill Parcells always said: 'You are what your record says you are.'' – Haney, again, on Woods.

'I was there, and he (Kelly) didn't do anything. He stood there, copped what he got and didn't do anything apart from that. I was proud of him, to be honest.' – Leishman, on the fight between Kelly and Buchanan.

'That’s not a stroke, but it makes it easier to play. My son Michael, with a conventional putting stroke, he couldn’t make it from 2 feet, but he went to a belly putter, and he makes everything. The game is fun for him now, so there lies the danger. Do we take the ability for people to have fun away?' – Watson, again, on being torn on the anchored-putting ban.

'The more putts I make with this putter, the crazier it’s going to make people. I hope that this is going to be a huge issue because I hope I’m going to be making as many putts as possible.' – Bradley, again, on continuing to use his anchored putter because the proposed ban won't take effect until 2016.

'Until I invent a better way to putt for myself, I’ll stick to the broomstick.' Adam Scott, who will also continue to use the anchored putter.

'I’m kind of fed up with all this ‘mashed potatoes’ and all this rubbish that the crowd is kind of enjoying shouting right now. Keegan had a guy out there who was – after every shot he was 'Yabba Dabba Do-ing,' and it was just stupid. It’s not a lot of fun, and it’s kind of becoming a little bit of a cool thing to do for the spectators. It kind of gives them their two or three seconds of fame. But it gets a little frustrating for everyone.' Graeme McDowell, on fan behavior during the World Challenge.

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Stock Watch: Spieth searching for putting form

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:50 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Patton Kizzire (+8%): By today’s accelerated standards, he’s a late bloomer, having reached the Tour at age 29. Well, he seems right at home now, with two wins in his last four starts.

Rory (+7%): Coming off the longest break of his career, McIlroy should have no excuses this year. He’s healthy. Focused. Motivated. It’s go time.

Chris Paisley (+5%): The best part about his breakthrough European Tour title that netted him $192,000? With his wife, Keri, on the bag, he doesn’t have to cut 10 percent to his caddie – she gets the whole thing.

Brooke Henderson (+3%): A seventh-place finish at the Diamond Resorts Invitational doesn’t sound like much for a five-time winner, but this came against the men – on a cold, wet, windy, 6,700-yard track. She might be the most fun player to watch on the LPGA. 

New European Ryder Cuppers (+2%): In something of a Ryder Cup dress rehearsal, newcomers Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton each went undefeated in leading Europe to a come-from-behind victory at the EurAsia Cup. The competition come September will be, um, a bit stiffer.



FALLING

Jordan’s putting (-1%): You can sense his frustration in interviews, and why not? In two starts he leads the Tour in greens in regulation … and ranks 201st (!) in putting. Here’s guessing he doesn’t finish the year there.

Brian Harman’s 2018 Sundays (-2%): The diminutive left-hander now has five consecutive top-10s, and he’s rocketing up the Ryder Cup standings, but you can’t help but wonder how much better the start to his year might have been. In the final pairing each of the past two weeks, he’s a combined 1 under in those rounds and wasn’t much of a factor.

Tom Hoge (-3%): Leading by one and on the brink of a life-changing victory – he hadn’t been able to keep his card each of the past three years – Hoge made an absolute mess of the 16th, taking double bogey despite having just 156 yards for his approach. At least now he’s on track to make the playoffs for the first time.

Predicting James Hahn’s form (-4%): OK, we give up: He’d gone 17 events without a top-15 before his win at Riviera; 12 before his win at Quail Hollow; and seven before he lost on the sixth playoff hole at Waialae. The margins between mediocre play and winning apparently are THAT small.

Barnrat (-5%): Coming in hot with four consecutive top-10s, and one of only two team members ranked inside the top 50 in the world, Kiradech Aphibarnrat didn’t show up at the EurAsia Cup, going 0-3 for the week. In hindsight, the Asian team had no chance without his contributions. 

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Langer not playing to pass Irwin, but he just might

By Tim RosaforteJanuary 16, 2018, 1:40 pm

Bernhard Langer goes back out on tour this week to chase down more than Hale Irwin’s PGA Tour Champions record of 45 career victories. His chase is against himself.

“I’m not playing to beat Hale Irwin’s record,” Langer told me before heading to Hawaii to defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. “I play golf to play the best I can, to be a good role model, and to enjoy a few more years that are left.”

Langer turned 60 on Aug. 27 and was presented a massage chair by his family as a birthday gift. Instead of reclining (which he does to watch golf and football), he won three more times to close out a seven-win campaign that included three major championships. A year prior, coming off a four-victory season, Langer told me after winning his fourth Charles Schwab Cup that surpassing Irwin’s record was possible but not probable. With 36 career victories and 11 in his last two years, he has changed his tone to making up the nine-tournament difference as “probable.”

“If I could continue a few more years on that ratio, I could get close or pass him,” Langer told me from his home in Boca Raton, Fla. “It will get harder. I’m 60 now. It’s a big challenge but I don’t shy away from challenges.”


Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)


Langer spent his off-season playing the PNC Father/Son, taking his family on a ski vacation at Big Sky in Yellowstone, Montana, and to New York for New Year’s. He ranks himself as a scratch skier, having skied since he was four years old in Germany. The risk of injury is worth it, considering how much he loves “the scenery, the gravity and the speed.”

Since returning from New York, Langer has immersed himself into preparing for the 2018 season. Swing coach Willy Hoffman, who he has worked with since his boyhood days as an as assistant pro in Germany, flew to Florida for their 43rd year of training.

“He’s a straight shooter,” Hoffman told me. “He says, 'Willy, every hour is an hour off my life and we have 24 hours every day.'"

As for Irwin, they have maintained a respectful relationship that goes back to their deciding singles match in the 1991 Ryder Cup. Last year they were brought back to Kiawah Island for a corporate appearance where they reminisced and shared the thought that nobody should ever have to bear what Langer went through, missing a 6-footer on the 18th green. That was 27 years ago. Both are in the Hall of Fame.

"I enjoy hanging out with Hale," Langer says.

Langer’s chase of Irwin’s record is not going to change their legacies. As Hoffman pointed out, “Yes, (Bernhard) is a rich man compared to his younger days. He had no money, no nothing. But today you don’t feel a difference when you talk to him. He’s always on the ground.”

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McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 1:18 pm

The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.

McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.

“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, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.” 

And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.

“I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. 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.” 

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Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 16, 2018, 12:44 pm

No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.

Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.

With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.

“This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”

Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.