Hot Topics and Wishful Thinking

By Kraig KannJuly 2, 2004, 4:00 pm
Folks, Im instructed to tell you what I see and inform you on what I hear. Sprinkle in a little bit of opinion and we might just have something worth discussing.
And so, here I am, after a weeks vacation, in suburban Chicago at the Cialis Western Open stuck wondering about so many things that my golf mind is actually spinning!
Topic - Tiger and Butch
Butch told The Golf Channel on the Sprint Post Game last Sunday that he and Tiger did in fact talk in the days after the United States Open. Then Tiger answered a TGC driven line of questioning on the topic and told the assembled media here on Wednesday in Chicago that he, in fact, was the one who called Butch to clear the air.
Ive always wondered why we care/cared so much but I think Ive figured it out.
Theory: Since Tiger launched his campaign toward professional success and worldwide stardom, all we seemed to hear about from Woods was what he and Butchie were working on. It was talked about at every press conference. It was talked about at every major.
Butchie and I are making some adjustments, Woods would say. Butchie and I worked on this, Butchie and I worked on that.
And while we listened, we also believed. We believed that if Woods trusted his swing to Harmon then, he was also trusting a good bit of his future too. And if I remember correctly, not many thought Woods would fail. Thus, we also came to believe that Butch Harmon was as good as they came, when it came to keeping the best of the best on the right path, so to speak.
And now, we feel the need to reunite them. To get things back the way they were. To solve the crime thats taken away our dominant star.

Topic ' Tiger and Steve Williams
On his website Tiger admitted that Steve may have gone a bit overboard.
In that same Wednesday news conference Woods again said Williams was a bit out of bounds and told us that discussions had taken place with the PGA Tour about future security involving cameras and the like.
Woods made it clear that the PGA Tour does a fine job of policing things, and at the same time reminded us that the Williams Camera Heist took place on USGA property under the USGAs watch.
And now, Williams, in an interview with the Associated Press, admits that kicking over a news photographers camera was not his best move, but defends his actions in taking a camera away from another photographer while standing on the tee.
Ive wondered why fans and media have seemed so passionate about this over the lasts few weeks.
Theory: Many realize full well that golf as a sport has reached all time highs in popularity. Crowds are greater in number than ever before.
And if the paid assembled crowds at baseball, basketball and football and even tennis are allowed to make noise, boo athletes, and feel safe in doing so, why should golf be so radically different? Did Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa drop their bats in disgust while flash bulbs went off by the hundreds before and during and after each swing in hopes that the record home run swing would be captured for all to see? No. Did somebody come to either sluggers rescue to make sure those cameras were in proper order? No.
Spectators, for the most part, do not want to see those they pay to watch, entertain by taking shots at other paying customers. And many feel that if Williams, whose next smile toward a gallery member might just be his first, chooses to act the way he does, his on-course life will only get more difficult. Agreed?
Another note, on the 18th green of Tigers first round Thursday at Cog Hill, Williams was not wearing his caddy bib. The other two caddies were. Williams, by the way, sports corporate logos on his shirts. Im left wondering if the incident I witnessed was just coincidence.
Wishful Thinking
All that said, I keep wondering about the rest of the year. I have no genie, I have no bottle and as you know by now, I have absolutely no ability for magic. But maybe you can find your way into agreement with some of these wishes for the rest of the 2004 golf calendar:
* I wish, above all other things, that Tiger Woods will once again find his magic. Love him or not, hes a better thrill ride when hes on his so-called A game.
And who wouldnt want Mickelson, Els, Singh and others to earn their biggest triumphs with Woods alongside instead of finishing a few hours in front.
* I wish that Tigers stuntman, I mean front man, I mean caddie Steve Williams would spend more time counting clubs and adding yardages instead of subtracting cameras and bouncing members of the gallery. Hes giving caddies a bad name. Period. Get to know the gallery a little bit. Remember Fluff?
* I wish the United States Golf Association would find a way to keep a weeks worth of U.S. Open discussion targeted on the competition instead of its playing surface. Each year the course garners far too much attention for all the wrong reasons. Its slowly diminishing my enthusiasm for our national championship, and who knows what theyre writing overseas!
* I wish David Duval the best this summer. I hope Shinnecock did something to re-fuel his fire. And he now knows, hes got plenty more work ahead.
* I wish I knew what happened to Matt Kuchar. Hes gone from weekend winner to weekend traveler real quick. And hes got company in the form of David Gossett. Both are true examples for the college stars to emulate so I hope theyre back to winning form soon.
* I wish Europes best players would start doing more than just showing up at majors and instead start winning. Like it or not, it makes for better Ryder Cup fire. And as you know, they have little trouble in beating up on the U.S. in that competition.
* I wish it wasnt so that Dottie Pepper called it a career. Shes been great for the game, and has the drive and desire to go along with the terrific talent.
Injuries can be a tough thing. Maybe a few weeks rest and a few good tournaments (she says shell play a few more this year) might make her reconsider. If not, then I wish shed come to work for TGC!
* I wish for more of Cristie Kerr. Not so much that Im a Kerr fan, but I love it when some of Americas best play to their potential. Now, if Kerr could grab a tow rope to pull up the likes of Laura Diaz, Beth Bauer, Natalie Gulbis and others.
* I wish for a whole lot more of Annika. Just think if Annika called it quits and started a family. The LPGA loses its top draw and more than a few ratings points. How long would sponsors continue to pony up? How much pressure would find its way to Hawaii for Michelle Wie to come up to the big leagues to save the day? Just asking.
* I wish more people would wake up to the strength of the Nationwide Tour. If youre one of those who likes taking your son or daughter out to a minor league baseball game for the ability to catch a better seat and a less expensive experience, go out and watch Jimmy Walker or D.A. Points. Both are PGA Tour bound, and you can actually see them play a round of golf!
* I wish for Steve In the Flesch to continue his superb play. A top 10 at the U.S. Open earned him more Ryder Cup points, and wouldnt it be sweet for him to play for Hal Sutton?
I know, I know. Im biased.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

Getty Images

Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.