Teeing Off in Mid-Summer

By Kraig KannJuly 12, 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
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    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “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.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

    Tweet of the week:

    It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

    The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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    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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    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.”