Thank Goodness This Isnt the NBA

By Kraig KannJuly 16, 2004, 4:00 pm
Ive spent the past week preparing for and getting hyped up about the 133rd Open Championship, only to have Shaq and Kobe pounded into my head without so much as a timeout. And all I can think is Man, Im glad I dont have to report on the NBA for a living!
 
Im not saying that professional basketball is void of togetherness, or without the aspect of a team game. Dont be misled; Im also not trying to tell you that golf doesnt have a few individuals in need of some maturity and guidance.
 
Golf, too, has its feuds and break-ups where ego gets in the way of good judgment (Tiger and Butch), golf has its learning curve of maturity too (Sergio), but at the end of the day the athletes are promised not much of anything.
 
Each begins the year at zero. No guarantees of where theyll finish on the PGA Tour money list, or whether fans might vote them into the Tour Championship despite a year where he (named Ernie Els or not) made only two cuts and $82,000. They earn their keep among the top 30, the top 125 and thus they earn their right to go into negotiations with equipment manufacturers about endorsement contracts, or overseas tournaments about appearance fees.
 
At the beginning of the year, Jeff Brehaut has the same opportunity to win the PGA Tour money list as does Tiger Woods. And I love that about professional golf.
 
In that regard golf is pure. Golf is honest. Golf is about sportsmanship. Golf is about hard work and keeping your head down and not turning your nose up. Golf is an individual sport, yes, but youll always find someone to give you a putting tip or a swing thought to work on.
 
This whole Shaq vs. Kobe vs. Lakers soap-opera of league embarrassment has made me lose patience with pampered millionaires and the NBA, which to me, now should stand for Never-ending Big-time Arrogance. You come up with your own.
 
Shaq is a superstar who cant get along with Kobe. Kobe is a superstar who cant get along with Shaq.
 
A few years back Shaq wasnt content enough with 100-plus million and opted out of Orlando for Los Angeles. Kobe wasnt content to be a college student so he opted out of education for the NBA. Now, not only is he unable to work with Shaq, hes also unable to work with Phil Jackson and apparently unable to work without a raise that, no matter how large, still cant buy him out of trouble with the law. Shaq wants no part of a continued relationship with Kobe despite the better-than-average chance at winning oh.. say. five more titles.
 
Dick Vitale, the ESPN college basketball analyst, made the point one night during a game that the difference between the NBA and the college game is that college is all about the name on the front of the jersey and the NBA is all about the name on the back of the jersey. Think about it.
 
The Los Angeles Lakers, seemingly not content with working together toward a common goal, but instead working to see who has the power to stay in L.A. and run the franchise from the court next season.
 
The problem with all this? No matter how much the league tries to deny it, there are owners and teams and coaches ready to be the next to take on the unhappy superstar and pay them what they demand. Make me sick!
 
Im not here to spout the figures, but Kobes due for the leagues maximum contract. So is Shaq. Its guaranteed money and a long-term stage to provide for great role-modeling.
 
Gee, where can I sign up for season tickets so I can get my son a lower-bowl seat to watch a would-be idol?
 
Back to golf - where non-superstar Thomas Levet has the chance to win a million dollars by earning it this week at the Open Championship. Rick Fox, meanwhile, has the chance to sit on the Lakers bench earning about $5 million (Im guessing a bit) with hopes of winning a title.
 
Isnt something a bit backward about that?
 
Golf has its superstars and golf has its rank and file. But not a single player you watch in professional golf would tell the PGA Tour or the European Tour that they wont play next year unless another player is shipped off to another tour. If they did, theyd be told to find another career. This week proves that in other sports, its accepted practice.
 
And not one of those same players would get away with not extending a handshake to a playing competitor after a round of golf. This week is proof that handshakes might take a back seat to locker room fisticuffs.
 
Maybe Im wrong, but Shaq is no Tiger Woods. And Kobe is far from Phil Mickelson. And its my belief that neither mans self-centered attitude nor on-going quest for individual one-upmanship would be appreciated or accepted in professional golf.
 
At least not on my tour it wouldnt.
 
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.

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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 GolfChannel.com 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.