Simpson's win continues first-timer trend

By Jason SobelJune 18, 2012, 5:12 am

SAN FRANCISCO – Good news for the roughly 6,884,909,953 people around the world who have never won a major championship golf tournament: Your time is coming.

These trophies used to be the exclusive property of singular-named superstars. From Bobby to Ben. Arnie to Seve. Jack to Tiger. It took a major pedigree to win a major title back in the day – and by “back in the day,” we’re talking all the way back in 2008.

Perhaps the greatest reason for those erstwhile prosperous 1 percenters is that winning begot more winning. The way it worked was that once a player broke through and collected his first, it meant he had developed the mettle to prevail again and again and again. The result was fewer major champions, each claiming a bigger piece of the major championship pie.

Ah, the good ol’ days.

Well, we live in a new era, golf fans. An era in which the last 15 majors have been won by 15 different golfers. That number dates back to Padraig Harrington’s win at the 2008 PGA Championship, extends to Webb Simpson’s victory at this U.S. Open, and includes a veritable cornucopia of eclectic winners, from Hall of Fame inductees to top-10 stars to second-tier talents to one-hit wonders.

This isn’t a competitive environment anymore. It’s a deli line.

Actually, based on the sheer volume of players who have come through the major championship turnstile lately, it more closely resembles a line at the DMV, with customers impatiently waiting their turn as the line backs up out the front door.

Simpson was the latest to hear his number called, stepping to the window and picking up his trophy and oversize check at The Olympic Club. To hear him analyze it, though, even he didn’t know he was ready to win a big one.

“If I was honest with you, I believed in myself I could win a major,” he said after beating Graeme McDowell and Michael Thompson by a stroke, “but maybe not so soon.”

While Simpson’s victory may leave certain veterans without a major depressed over their misfortune, it should actually serve the opposite purpose, instead buoying their confidence that next time may be the chance for which they’ve been waiting.

Apparently, the world’s best without a major are without one not because of any lack of talent or intestinal fortitude or good luck. Maybe they are without a major for the sole reason that it simply hasn’t happened yet. Their number hasn’t been called.

Yes, this means you, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald and Steve Stricker and Dustin Johnson. All players who have come so close and yet have failed to puff that victory cigar.

It’s an intriguing phenomenon – and one which left the most recent recipients grateful for their good fortune.

“Thank you, Vijay, Phil and Tiger,” said Paul Tesori, caddie for Simpson who claimed his 16th career win, but first major on Sunday. “Is that right? Is that who’s stolen all of them in the last however many years? I think it’s a great time in golf, to be honest with you. Obviously, Tiger is back to playing great golf. He’s going to win more majors. But it’s fun to have all these different guys, because you know every time you tee it up that you’ve got a chance to win the golf tournament. It’s a great feeling.”

There used to be a prevailing feeling that a list of contenders at any major would run maybe 20-30 players deep. Sure, there were certain occasions to refute that notion, but the majority of these tournaments would be claimed by the game’s upper echelon of elite talent.

That isn’t the case today. Simply put, the list of contenders mirrors the entry list for any given event. Which is to say, anybody can win.

Consider this strange confluence of events at the U.S. Open: Fourteen-time major champion Tiger Woods finished 17 places behind John Peterson, who doesn’t own status on any major tour; meanwhile, four-time major champion Phil Mickelson trailed low amateur Jordan Spieth by 44 spots on the leaderboard.

“One of my thoughts on the back nine was, ‘I don't know how Tiger has won 14 of these things, because the pressure,’” Simpson confided. “I couldn't feel my legs most of the back nine. It grew my respect for Tiger all the more. But I think the prime age 10, 15 years ago was mid 30s. Now it's moving closer to the mid 20s or late 20s. There's so many young guys.

“If I see Keegan Bradley win a major, I respect his game a ton, but I feel like, Keegan Bradley won one, I want to go win one. All these guys that won before me, I thought, ‘I played with these guys all my life. I want to win a tournament.’ They're great players, but I want to do what they're doing. Everybody is so competitive in this world that we just kind of feed off of each other.”

The truth is, they are. In fact, it’s becoming a feeding frenzy at these major championships, with every player even hungrier for a victory, because, well, everyone else is doing it.

It should send a positive message to those who have yet to break through that barrier: Your time is coming. In today’s era, everyone gets a chance to have their number called.

South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

The fourball results:

LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.

 

Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET

An Instagram user known as hwalks posted photos to her account that included images of Tiger Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson Friday at Trump National, as well as video of Woods' swing.


Here are some other social media posts that have surfaced:


Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.



Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''