Lets Hand Out Some Awards

By Kraig KannApril 16, 2004, 4:00 pm
After a four-day stay at Ft. Bragg for a mini-boot camp (no word if he wore Nikes), Tiger Woods will now focus on trying to catch, gulp, Phil Mickelson. Thats right, Woods doesnt have nearly as much to brag about in 2004.
Phils 2004 totals:
Nine events, two wins, $3.5 million (first on money list), eight top 10s, first in scoring.
Tigers 2004 totals:
Seven events, one win, $1.9 million (sixth on money list), four top 10s, 14th in Scoring.
So, many of you seem to think that the media has gone overboard on Tiger Woods. Heres what I believe. Woods is the PGA Tours best player. Woods is the worlds best player. The World Golf Rankings say Tiger is the top player. BUT, if the ranking is decided only by current status, form, etc., then Woods is hardly the best player right now.
When guys like me are on the air and say, Well be back with more on the Worlds No. 1, this is simply going by the World Golf Rankings and not said with any bias. Period. Dont think any different.
That said, here is my Top 10 based solely on personal opinion as it stands TODAY, given the years events:
1. Phil Mickelson
2. Vijay Singh
3. Ernie Els
4. Davis Love III
5. Padraig Harrington
6. Tiger Woods
7. Stuart Appleby
8. Mike Weir
9. K.J. Choi
10. Chad Campbell
Mickelson is the top money man, hes the most consistent this year and hes won the years first major. To tell you the truth, Id have given Mickelson strong consideration for the top spot even if Els had won.
Hilton Head is upon us which is the 16th event of 48 this season. So lets take it a step further and give out some early season awards:
Player of the Year: Mickelson ' should be the U.S. Open favorite (T4 95)
Rookie of the Year: Zach Johnson ' should reach Tour Championship
Surprise of the Year: John Daly ' I never expected it and hes probably just starting.
Disappointment of Year: Tiger ' this will turn around, but when? This year?
Impact Player of Year: Adam Scott ' a close choice over Z. Johnson
Storyline of Year: Just how close is Woods? Is Phil just warming up?
Next to Break Through: Jerry Kelly ' better than most, easily tougher than most
Feel Good Story of Year: Jay Haas ' 50-something, nothing to it! Just win one!
How about some random thoughts with the first major of the season behind us:
  • Go ahead, label Sergio Garcia as a whiner. But he might have a point about being forgotten of late. The problem is, hes obviously too worried about being forgotten. Still, I dont think there is a media member or golf fan around that doesnt consider him a threat to win a major at any time. Heres the difference, Sergio. Of late youre a threat, but not a favorite.

  • The new best player without a major might just be Chad Campbell. Im not putting pressure on him, just saying hes as good as they come and certainly has the level of talent necessary. Hes too tough to fold the next time he gets in the hunt.
  • Is Kirk Triplett not the most underappreciated player on the PGA Tour? All this guy does is play consistent golf. Hell kill the Champions Tour someday.
  • When Briny Baird wins a PGA Tour event this year, dont say Briny who? Hes really becoming one of the better players on tour. Watch his numbers and track his finishes.
  • Tiger usually is M.I.A. between now and the U.S. Open. Youll see him at the Memorial Tournament, perhaps the EDS Byron Nelson Championship. I just wish hed commit to a few more regular events to work his way out of the jam hes in. Heck, at 14th in scoring on the PGA Tour he could use the low rounds these days!
    And two final thoughts to leave you with:
  • Phil Mickelson would have every right to tell the media to buzz off for about a month. He endured more than his fare share of the wrong kind of spotlight. But, heres what I think: the media figured Phil would have won one (major) a long time ago. We realize he is deserving and just couldnt believe it didnt happen. Liken it to the Buffalo Bills if you want, but it gets magnified even further by the point that its a one-man game. Plus, we can all relate. Im just glad the storys over. Lets move on because as we discussed on the Sprint Post-Game, Lefty has a lot of great things to say other than why he hadnt yet won a major.
  • Lets hope Tiger gets it back quick. This is the best time ever for this sport. Phil at his best, Singh at his best, Els at his best, Love at his best and so many other stars who now want to beat Tiger at his very best. Trust me, its not nearly as rewarding to beat the best when theyre not even close to their best. And if Tiger has designs on being the best ever, he needs to consistently knock off the others while theyre at their highest level.
    Pretty great year already, huh?!
    Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
  • Getty Images

    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

    Getty Images

    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

    Getty Images

    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... 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."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

    Getty Images

    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.