Significant others have significant effect on players' games

By Kelly TilghmanFebruary 28, 2012, 7:52 pm

MARANA, Ariz. – While in Arizona covering the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, I spent all day Tuesday chatting with players off-camera and uncovered some fun, interesting stories.

Let’s begin with the finalists. In the last couple years we’ve watched Hunter Mahan grow up. He went from one of golf’s most eligible bachelors to a content married man, landing a dream girl former Dallas Cowboy cheerleader. Before Hunter met Kandi, he was the single guy at the Ryder Cup. His teammates would rib him because he was the only one at the opening ceremony without a significant other. For a laugh, they bought him a doll named ‘Monique’ to accompany him down the aisle.

A shy guy with a quiet sense of humor, wife Kandi brings out the best in Hunter and in turn, Hunter brings out the best in Kandi. A few weeks ago, after Mahan’s trip to compete in the Middle East, Kandi went to Uganda on a charitable mission with Nick Watney’s wife, Amber. They visited an orphanage and worked at a food bank. He said it was a life changing experience for his wife.

Another part of Hunter’s transformation is revealed through his involvement with the Golf Boys. A goofy foursome of PGA Tour-players-turned-singers who recently became an Internet sensation with their ‘Oh Oh Oh’ video, Hunter is the one with two left feet, donning a long fur coat exposing his bare chest. When asked why he wanted to put himself out there like that, he said he wanted to share his “dancing prowess with the world. It’s a Bruce Wayne, Batman thing” he said. The Golf Boys are in the planning stages for their next video titled “Mama Said We Could Be Anything.”

As for Rory McIlroy, he too has a significant other who’s bringing out the best in him. He shares a high profile relationship with tennis world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. Rory told me she has everything to do with his new motivation levels in the gym. He’s gone from a youngster who had cheeks a grandmother would want to pinch, to a chiseled young man who some say can bench press 300 pounds. He told me he out-lifts Caroline but she can still outrun him. Tiger Woods once told me the same thing about Elin when they were married.

Regarding Tiger, Rory said they had a long talk about fitness when they were grouped together in Abu Dhabi. Woods told McIlroy he shouldn’t listen to the critics who say bulking up is bad for your golf swing. He said to look at athletes in other sports. If you want to get ahead and be taken seriously, you have to get the most out of your body. It’s obvious that Rory completely agrees.

Other notes:

Fowler’s Fuzz: If you’re not a fan of Rickie Fowler’s new facial hair, don’t tweet him about it. Rickie told me the Internet bashing about his goatee is only motivating him to keep it longer. The head pro at his new home club of the Medalist nicknamed him “Jack Sparrow” and it’s beginning to stick. At the Northern Trust Open at Riviera a couple of weeks ago, Gary McCord referred to him by that name on the air.


Westwood’s World: Lee Westwood may not be a household name here in the U.S. but he’s a treasure in his native England. Outside of golf he owns 16 racehorses, the most successful one named Hoof It. He’s also recently been honored with an Order of the British Empire by the Queen and lives in a house that’s fit for a king. Westwood told me he owns a 55-acre lot in Nottinghamshire that has six houses on the property including an 18,000-square foot mansion he and his family call home.


GMac’s New Pad: Graeme McDowell is in the final stages of building his new home in Lake Nona. He said it’s an 8,500-square foot spread complete with a “man cave” that features a snooker table and a wet bar with an endless supply of Guinness on tap. It also has a cinema. As a gift, his caddie bought him 20 movies he’s never seen that are considered American classics. Flicks like “The Shining,” “Risky Business” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” are included. Graeme told me he loves suspense thrillers and action films but he’s not afraid to pop in a romantic comedy. That’s well played by the man officially named Northern Ireland’s most eligible bachelor.


Ishikawa’s Fake ID: Twenty-year-old Japanese sensation Ryo Ishikawa told me his favorite thing to do when he’s not playing golf is to play interactive video games. He, like Watney, uses an anonymous name to compete online against total strangers. The next time you’re engaged in an interactive soccer game, you could be competing against Japan’s biggest star.


Robert’s Rock: Currently ranked 57th in the world, Abu Dhabi surprise champion Robert Rock is still fighting to climb into the world’s top 50 and qualify for the Masters. He’s never played Augusta National. Growing up in England, Robert told me he’s recorded and watched every Masters tournament since 1988. It’s a dream for him to get there but he said “it almost seems like a tournament I’m destined to watch on TV.” He’s going to play the WGC-Cadillac Championship to try to improve his world rank, then assess from there.


The Most Interesting Man in the World: Before Miguel Angel Jimenez’ first-round match against fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia, I asked him to compare the two. He said “Sergio and I are like a Euro coin: Two faces, different. Same value.” He added that the 32-year-old Garcia is entering his prime golfing years and he feels certain that he can still win a major.

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Watch: Tiger's Sunday birdies at the Honda

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 25, 2018, 6:40 pm

One day after he left a barrage of birdie opportunities out on the golf course, Tiger Woods worked his way into red figures early on Sunday.

Seven off the pace to start the day, Woods found the first fairway, hit the first green and rolled in a 20-footer for his firist birdie of the day.

After narrowly missing a 10-footer for what would have been another circle at the par-5 third, Woods came right back at the fourth, flying an approach from 148 yards to 9 feet and finishing the job.

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New-look Korda wins after serious jaw surgery

By Will GrayFebruary 25, 2018, 6:31 pm

If the pictures of Jessica Korda from the Honda LPGA Thailand cause you to do a double-take, you're not alone.

Korda's world-class talent was on full display this week in Asia, where she won by four shots, but so too was her new-look face. The 24-year-old underwent serious jaw surgery in December, a final attempt to address a significant overbite that led to ailments ranging from facial cramping to headaches to sleep apnea.

The procedure was intense. Doctors first broke her nose, then broke her jaw in five different places - three on the top, and two on the bottom. She now has 27 screws in her face, and the physical result still requires some adjustment for a woman who now has five career LPGA wins.

"I look at pictures of myself and I don't feel like I look like that person," Korda told Golfweek. "I don't know who that is. And then I look at pictures of my old self and that doesn't look like me either."


Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand


The Dec. 7 surgery left Korda unable to eat, with her mother reportedly feeding her through a syringe for "weeks." Korda's facial structure before the surgery was such that she was only using 20 percent of her teeth when chewing food.

But despite returning to practice only six weeks ago and still dealing with lingering numbness in her face, Korda promptly dusted a world-class field in her first start back. She shot 25 under for the week, highlighted by a second-round 62, leaving the likes of Lexi Thompson and Ariya Jutanugarn in her wake.

After a difficult winter, Korda's look may have changed but her game clearly remains unaffected.

"Coming in after surgery, I didn't know what to expect," Korda told reporters. "Obviously when I look at myself, I still don't feel like I look like myself yet. That will come. I'm just very, very happy. All the hard work I was putting in in the off-season when I could has paid off rather quickly."

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 25, 2018, 4:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


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Hahn jabs USGA over possible ball rollback

By Will GrayFebruary 25, 2018, 4:43 pm

As debate continues to heat up over possible sweeping changes to the golf ball amid distance concerns, PGA Tour pro James Hahn chimed in to question the merits of a potential rollback.

The ball and distance debate gained traction earlier this week when Jack Nicklaus offered that the ball should be rolled back to the approximate distances achieved in 1995, and he put blame for the current situation squarely at the feet of Titleist. That drew a response from former Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein, who put the onus back on the governing bodies.

It's an issue that will likely be discussed for months to come, but Hahn took to Twitter to throw a jab toward the USGA and play devil's advocate on some key arguments related to a possible rollback:

Hahn, who has two career PGA Tour wins and lost in a playoff last month at the Sony Open, ranks 55th on Tour this season in driving distance with an average of 301.2 yards off the tee.