What Im Really Thinking
As it currently stands, Ive received more than 600 comments (some much longer and more in depth than others) regarding last weeks Tiger Take.
You can choose to believe me or not, but the reaction is overwhelmingly in support of Woods and strongly against those who choose to find any reason to dismiss this mans ability and responsibility to the game which he has dominated (until now) for the past seven or so years.
Again, Ill give you a sampling of YOUR responses in the coming weeks. But ' and this is important for you Take Tiger to Task' folks ' the most dominant thread from those who responded is that of his on-course behavior.
Many said I didnt fully address that one. My reason was simple. I didnt want to spew my take on everything as much as I wanted to solicit your take on Woods as a whole. It worked!
Still, you want it? You got it. I admire Woods on the course as much as any player on any tour. His aggressive style is infectious. His competitive nature is unparalleled. HOWEVER, his tendency to toss clubs with the art of an Olympic javelin thrower is, not only embarrassing, but also uncalled for. Imagine Michael Jordan missing a critical shot down the stretch and when the timeout is called, heaving the ball towards the ref. Imagine Sammy Sosa striking out in the seventh with men on and chucking his bat back toward the batboy. And then with runners in scoring position in the ninth, Sammy does it yet again. You get my point.
Tiger Woods is, like it or not, a symbol of excellence in the game. He is a model for those who desire to be the best. He is the player who represents the PGA Tour and professional golf above all others. He didnt ask for it, mind you, but it has come his way.
You all seem to think he doesnt get fined. Many of you think Woods escapes the wrath of the PGA Tour. Well, you are wrong. Woods is fined just like any other player. His poor use of language while on television is a bad habit - really bad. He should know better, and I actually believe he does. But, THIS is the time he needs to show a bit of class, more than any other. People expect you to act professional when things are going well. They dont know what to expect when things are going poorly. So, time to shape up. Its time to respect the game and its fans now more than ever before. It will come back tenfold when things turn around.
There. Theres my take on his on-course behavior. And Ill share many more reactions in the coming articles. Again, my mailbag is stuffed so please be patient.
I have some other thoughts to share:
1. Really getting excited about the U.S. Open. I was there at Shinnecock in 1995 when Corey Pavin won. Its a great track. Normally, the U.S. Open is my least favorite of the major championships to watch for four days because theres not enough excitement. Its more about disappointment. Watching players struggle for pars is great. But there arent enough great moments between Thursday and Saturday to get me hyped for Sunday like I should. Its just different. I feel like Im waiting for the leader to make a critical double bogey instead of a miraculous birdie. Just doesnt seem right to me.
2. Really beginning to think that Phil Mickelson might win two majors this year. He has to be the favorite for the U.S. Open. Not saying hell win it, but you have to believe hes got at least as good a shot as anyone. I cant say Ive thought that before.
3. Really beginning to wonder if Woods might be in for 2-of-3 missed cuts at this
years remaining majors. You know the commercial where he says, Oh, so this is what the rough looks like.? Well, these days hes very well aware of what the rough looks like. Shinnecock wont stand for a less-than-capable Woods; Royal Troon is tight, as well. And Whistling Straits is hardly forgiving. Rescues from the fescue could be the theme for Tiger.
4. Really beginning to believe that if Woods does find it soon and get back to his
winning ways, hell have more fans than ever before and more respect, too, for fighting through his struggles on his own time and maintaining a level of contention that NO ONE ELSE could maintain.
5. Really beginning to tire of the public outcry that the media sucks up to Tiger
like nobodys business. Maybe some think that the media is afraid that they wont land that big interview or something. But remember, hes not exactly offering up sit-down interviews at rapid rates! Ill speak for myself and my colleagues only and you can call me out if you want, but I believe that Tigers faults are pointed out every single time theyre warranted. At the same time, his talents and successes are pointed out, too. Face it folks, the biggest names get the most attention in any sport. Ali, Jordan, Reggie Jackson, Williams sisters etc, are scrutinized for every move they make. And last I checked, Hollywood doesnt roll out the red carpet for the B movie actors the same way they do the megastars. The paparazzi doesnt chase with the same furor either.
6. Really beginning to think the Korean influence on the LPGA Tour is amazing. And with the great golf were seeing because of it, Im quite certain that the American women are feeling their collective grip on the tours spotlight getting looser by the week.
7. Really confused by Michelle Wies choice to head for France and the Evian
Masters during the same summer week that the USGAs U.S. Junior Girls Championship is taking place at Mira Vista Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. Tiger dominated at the USGA Junior level. Hes turned out all right. Is there a feeling that if Wie doesnt show, she avoids a possible no-win situation? Win and shes expected to. Lose and shes talked about more than the girl who beats her.
8. Sticking with Wie ' really an eye-opener that a former PGA Tour professional told me that Wie could seriously make a run at a U.S. Mens Public Links Championship. If she gets into the match-play portion of the event, she begins each match with a 2-up advantage simply because of intimidation, he said. The men will be overanxious, fearing that theyd be the one to lose against Michelle. By the way, the winner goes to the Masters.
9. Really wondering whats up with Greg Norman? DQd again? Thats embarrassing for a man who really needs something positive to happen ON the golf course these days.
10. Really pinching myself over the opportunity that I got this week to caddie for Steve Flesch in the pro-am at the Bank of America Colonial. Caddies on tour tried to scare the bag right off my shoulder, but Id have none of it. You have no idea (probably) how great it is to just hear the sound made by that ball screaming off the clubface of a PGA Tour winner. The bags not as heavy as I thought; walking 18 holes is really good exercise; wasnt anywhere near as sore as I thought Id be; and Id do it again if asked. Fans in the gallery were great! Best line of the day came from one of our amateur players who asked me, So, Kraig, how long have you been on Steves bag?
Heres hoping your golf game is geared up for the summer ahead. Thanks for the comments. Ill empty the mailbag and share some of them next week.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open
When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.
Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.
Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.
While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.
Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.
Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai
Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.
Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.
"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."
But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.
With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.
Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.
The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.
"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."
Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME
NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.
A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.
In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.
“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”
Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.
“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.
Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.
“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”
How does she feel?
“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”
Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.
New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title
NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.
Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.
She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.
“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”
Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.
Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.
Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.
Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.
“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.
Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.
“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”