Is Parity Better for the PGA Tour
The headline in our local paper read: Top Trio Prepare to do Battle. Obviously the article focuses on this weeks Bay Hill Invitational and the fact that No. 1 Tiger Woods, No. 2 Vijay Singh and No. 3 Ernie Els are all teeing it up this week. As you may know, there are scenarios whereby each of the top 3 could end the week as the No. 1 ranked player.
And the way each has been playing, youd have a hard time betting against any of them laying an egg at Arnies place.
Throw in No. 4 Phil Mickelson (whos not playing) and the race for the top of the World Golf Ranking is as hot as the weather here in mid-August. Each man has a legitimate argument for the title as worlds best player ' right now.
The one thing that caught my attention in the article was a quote by Chad Campbell ' the defending champion ' who ran away with the title last year and is certainly no mans sand-filled divot to step on.
Its tremendous for golf that its that competitive up top, said Campbell. I just wish I was a part of it.
Interesting huh? A part of it. A part of it. A part of it.
Arnold Palmer himself chimed in by saying, This is the kind of thing you want to see more and more of.
Is The King right? Do we love the Top 3 of 4 players in the world getting in each others way every week for the tours given title?
Heres the list of winners this year:
Stuart Appleby, Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods, Justin Leonard, Phil Mickelson, Phil Mickelson, David Toms, Geoff Ogilvy, Tiger Woods & Padraig Harrington.
Each man, aside from Ogilvy who won in Tucson opposite the WGC Accenture Match Play which went to Toms, has been a fixture this year among the Top 20 in the World Golf Ranking.
So whats happened to the trend of 18 first time winners we saw just a few years ago? Where are the titles available to guys like Vaughn Taylor and Bart Bryant? Heck, what about the poor stars like Jerry Kelly and Charles Howell III?
OK, take it a step higher. Where do superstars like Love and Garcia and Weir fit in anymore if Woods, Singh, Els and Mickelson are playing? Lately they dont.
Whats happened to parity?
Take nothing away from Stuart Appleby and Justin Leonard and David Toms and Padraig Harrington. Each man is more than capable (Toms did it a few weeks ago) of winning the biggest of tournaments. But the PGA Tour today seems reserved for four men.
Arent all these guys good?
Its not just media hype surrounding the Big 4. Its galleries. Its television ratings. Its trophies. And its rounds of 59 and 61. And its 337 yard drives on par 5s and 387 yard drives to the green on par 4s that make guys like Jim Furyk seem like your buddy playing in the A Flight of his Club Championship.
My question is: Do we miss the chance each week where everyone seems to have a chance? A week when parity stands out on the PGA Tour and a look down the leaderboard at the end of Sunday finds Tiger, Singh, Els and Mickelson no better than a T11?
Or is a win by Darren Clarke simply not any good unless he beats Tiger and Ernie?
Is parity good only if were talking about a level of consistency among the Big 4?
From where I sit, this has been the best start to a PGA Tour season in the 10 years Ive been at The Golf Channel. The run for No. 1 is as good as it could be.
My confusion in all of this, I guess, is about assessing the depth of field. Is parity what we want and demand in golf at the highest level?
Should we hope for a tour where any of the fully exempt 125 could win on any given week ' or a tour where we continue to see golfs Big 4 battle it out at the expense of airtime and publicity and promotion for guys like Chad Campbell.
Arnie, himself, said this run of dominance by the best of the bet is the kind of thing you want to see more and more of.
And I think I agree. But how much more and for how long?
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain
PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.
She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.
“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.
Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.
“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”
She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.
“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”
Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.
“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.
She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.
“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”
Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.
While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.
“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”
Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead
PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.
In fact, she named her “Mona.”
For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.
While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.
And that has her excited about this year.
Well, that and having a healthy back again.
“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”
Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”
Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.
She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”
Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.
Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders
PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.
Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.
Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.
Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.
Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC
PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.
With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.
After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.
“I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”
It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.
Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.
“It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”
Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.
Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.
“Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”
Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).
Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.
“It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”
Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.
“This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”
Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.