Teeing Off in Mid-Summer - COPIED

By Kraig KannJuly 24, 2007, 4:00 pm
The heat of the summer can at times make you dizzy ' at least in Florida. Throw in the fact that were in the midst of major championship madness and the mind is spinning with thoughts about golfs current state.
 
So rather than focus on just a single topic this week, Im teeing off with my thoughts on several things ' golf related. And, as always, I welcome your thoughts so fire right back.
 
  • Michelle Wies not in the John Deere Classic this week. Shes also declined an opportunity to play the in the HSBC Womens World Match Play. Good for her. At this point it is absolutely the wisest decision. Shes simply not good enough to justify her appearance with the men. And I hope she makes the same call when the Evian Masters comes calling. Some have said she should bypass the Ricoh Womens British. I disagree there. Play the big ones stay away from the ones offering the big appearance money. Lets work on building the resume and re-building the reputation ' not the bank account.
     
  • Tiger Woods is the obvious choice to win at Carnoustie. And while I started the year thinking Carnoustie and Southern Hills (PGA Championship) didnt fit as well as Augusta and Oakmont, I now believe were more likely to see a repeat of 2006 with a motivated Tiger winning both the Open Championship and another PGA.
     
  • I read the list of favorites for the Open Championship this week in the Orlando Sentinel. While Woods was at the top, Ernie Els was second. Id love to see it, but how in the world can you give him that distinction right now? Hed probably argue the same. But I could think of at least five names before Ernie (Furyk, Mickelson, Singh, Scott, Casey ' and Id even through South Africans Immelman and Sabbatini ahead of him at this stage). Els has always been one of my favorites just not my betting favorite right now.
     
  • Tadd Fujikawa turns pro before his junior year in High School. You remember Tadd from this years Sony Open in Hawaii. Another youngster goes pro. And it makes me nervous. Sixteen years old is plenty old enough to drive a car, but hardly mature enough to deal with life as a touring professional. What in the world has happened to the idea of going to college, playing golf, and simply growing up?
     
  • Im struggling with the FedExCup points standings. Dont get me wrong ' Im looking forward to the playoffs. But the Top 10 in FedExCup points mirrors the money list almost to the letter. The top three names are the same on both (though Singh and Mickelson switch places in the 2 and 3 spot depending upon which list you look at.) Steve Stricker and John Rollins are the only names different in each list of the top 10 names. The PGA TOUR has de-emphasized the money list in favor of the points. But as we all know, money talks louder than points and the point of the FedExCup wont be driven home until the playoffs. Its still wait and see for me.
     
  • John Daly spent time with Rich Lerner recently talking about marriage, partying and playing golf. The best thing for John would be to stick to his pre-season pledge of practicing harder than ever in the effort to win tournaments. The skill is still there, now he needs to prove that the will still exists. If not, then please dont tease us with your presence.
     
  • I predicted a big comeback year for Annika Sorenstam. At this point I dont see it happening. Big bogey for me although I never predicted the herniated disc trouble that has set her so far back. The question for the rest of 2007 ' will she win any tournament this year?
     
  • Twenty-plus Korean born players made the cut at the U.S. Womens Open. Twenty-plus Americans made the cut at the U.S. Womens Open. Great news for golf overseas. Not great news for America. That said, things dont look too, too bad for the United States at the upcoming Solheim Cup on foreign soil. Annexing Mexico for the week wouldnt be a bad idea but given the play by Christie Kerr, Brittany Lincicome and Morgan Pressel, I think (on paper) that the U.S. looks to be in better shape given Europes list of Trish Johnson, Laura Davies, Becky Brewerton, Sophie Giquel, Bettina Hauert, Linda Wessberg and Rebbecca Hudson.

  • A few players on the PGA TOUR would like to see the Nationwide Tour take on a bigger role in golf. One PGA TOUR winner floated the idea that the final seven events fall under the Nationwide Tour umbrella to raise the perception of that tour. Dont know if that works too well, but Jay Williamsons near win at the Travelers Championship and Brian Batemans win at the Buick (he was at Q-School last fall) is proof that the line between the two PGA TOUR sanctioned tours is very, very fine.
     
  • My colleague Vince Cellini has parted ways with the GOLF CHANNEL. Im not breaking news here as it was reported this week in the trade magazines. Hate to see it happen ' but in this business it can definitely happen. A mutual decision on both sides, Vince is/was an anchor in the truest sense. One of my best friends in 12 plus years at TGC, hell be just fine but I miss him already.
     
    As always, I welcome your thoughts. And if you have the secret to hitting more fairways, let me know ' Im all ears.
     
    Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
  • Getty Images

    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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    Getty Images

    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

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    Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

    What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

    Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    “I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

    McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

    He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

    Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

    “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

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    Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

    Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

    Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

    Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

    Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

    Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.