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
Teenager Im wins Web.com season opener
South Korea's Sungjae Im cruised to a four-shot victory at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, becoming just the second teenager to win an event on the Web.com Tour.
Im started the final day of the season-opening event in a share of the lead but still with six holes left in his third round. He was one shot behind Carlos Ortiz when the final round began, but moved ahead of the former Web.com Player of the Year thanks to a 7-under 65 in rainy and windy conditions. Im's 13-under total left him four clear of Ortiz and five shots ahead of a quartet of players in third.
Still more than two months shy of his 20th birthday, Im joins Jason Day as the only two teens to win on the developmental circuit. Day was 19 years, 7 months and 26 days old when he captured the 2007 Legend Financial Group Classic.
Recent PGA Tour winners Si Woo Kim and Patrick Cantlay and former NCAA champ Aaron Wise all won their first Web.com Tour event at age 20.
Other notable finishes in the event included Max Homa (T-7), Erik Compton (T-13), Curtis Luck (T-13) and Lee McCoy (T-13). The Web.com Tour will remain in the Bahamas for another week, with opening round of The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic set to begin Sunday.
Mickelson grouped with Z. Johnson at CareerBuilder
He's not the highest-ranked player in this week's field, but Phil Mickelson will likely draw the biggest crowd at the CareerBuilder Challenge as he makes his first start of 2018. Here are a few early-round, marquee groupings to watch as players battle the three-course rotation in the Californian desert (all times ET):
12:10 p.m. Thursday, 11:40 a.m. Friday, 1:20 p.m. Saturday: Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson
Mickelson is making his fourth straight trip to Palm Springs, having cracked the top 25 each of the last three times. In addition to their respective amateur partners, he'll play the first three rounds alongside a fellow Masters champ in Johnson, who tied for 14th last week in Hawaii and finished third in this event in 2014.
11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson
At No. 3 in the world, Rahm is the highest-ranked player teeing it up this week and the Spaniard returns to an event where he finished T-34 last year in his tournament debut. He'll play the first two rounds alongside Watson, who is looking to bounce back from a difficult 2016-17 season and failed to crack the top 50 in two starts in the fall.
11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker
Reed made the first big splash of his career at this event in 2014, shooting three straight rounds of 63 en route to his maiden victory. He'll be joined by Snedeker, whose bid for a Masters bid via the top 50 of the world rankings came up short last month and who hasn't played this event since a missed cut in 2015.
1:10 p.m. Thursday, 12:40 p.m. Friday, 12:10 p.m. Saturday: Patton Kizzire, Bill Haas
Kizzire heads east after a whirlwind Sunday ended with his second win of the season in a six-hole playoff over James Hahn in Honolulu. He'll play alongside Haas, who won this event in both 2010 and 2015 to go with a runner-up finish in 2011 and remains the tournament's all-time leading money winner.
Mackay still a caddie at heart, even with a microphone
HONOLULU – All it took was one week back on the bag to remind Jim ''Bones'' Mackay what he always loved about being a caddie.
It just wasn't enough for this to be the ultimate mic drop.
Mackay traded in his TV microphone at the Sony Open for the 40-pound bag belonging to Justin Thomas.
It was his first time caddying since he split with Phil Mickelson six months ago. Mackay was only a temporary replacement at Waialae for Jimmy Johnson, a good friend and Thomas' regular caddie who has a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that will keep him in a walking boot for the next month.
''The toughest thing about not caddying is missing the competition, not having a dog in the fight,'' Mackay said before the final round. ''There's nothing more rewarding as a caddie, in general terms, when you say, 'I don't like 6-iron, I like 7,' and being right. I miss that part of it.''
The reward now?
''Not stumbling over my words,'' he said. ''And being better than I was the previous week.''
He has done remarkably well since he started his new job at the British Open last summer, except for that time he momentarily forgot his role. Parts of that famous caddie adage – ''Show up, keep up, shut up'' – apparently can apply to golf analysts on the ground.
During the early hours of the telecast, before Johnny Miller came on, Justin Leonard was in the booth.
''It's my job to report on what I see. It's not my job to ask questions,'' Mackay said. ''I forgot that for a minute.''
Leonard was part of a booth discussion on how a comfortable pairing can help players trying to win a major. That prompted Mackay to ask Leonard if he found it helpful at the 1997 British Open when he was trying to win his first major and was paired with Fred Couples in the final round at Royal Troon.
''What I didn't know is we were going to commercial in six seconds,'' Mackay said. ''I would have no way of knowing that, but I completely hung Justin out to dry. He's now got four seconds to answer my long-winded question.''
During the commercial break, the next voice Mackay heard belonged to Tommy Roy, the executive golf producer at NBC.
''Bones, don't ever do that again.''
It was Roy who recognized the value experienced caddies could bring to a telecast. That's why he invited Mackay and John Wood, the caddie for Matt Kuchar, into the control room at the 2015 Houston Open so they could see how it all worked and how uncomfortable it can be to hear directions coming through an earpiece.
Both worked as on-course reporters at Sea Island that fall.
And when Mickelson and Mackay parted ways after 25 years, Roy scooped up the longtime caddie for TV.
It's common for players to move into broadcasting. Far more unusual is for a caddie to be part of the mix. Mackay loves his new job. Mostly, he loves how it has helped elevate his profession after so many years of caddies being looked upon more unfavorably than they are now.
''I want to be a caddie that's doing TV,'' he said. ''That's what I hope to come across as. The guys think this is good for caddies. And if it's good for caddies, that makes me happy. Because I'm a caddie. I'll always be a caddie.''
Not next week at Torrey Pines, where Mickelson won three times. Not a week later in Phoenix, where Mackay lives. Both events belong to CBS.
And not the Masters.
He hasn't missed Augusta since 1994, when Mickelson broke his leg skiing that winter.
''That killed me,'' he said, ''but not nearly as much as it's going to kill me this year. I'll wake up on Thursday of the Masters and I'll be really grumpy. I'll probably avoid television at all costs until the 10th tee Sunday. And I'll watch. But it will be, within reason, the hardest day of my life.''
There are too many memories, dating to when he was in the gallery right of the 11th green in 1987 when Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman. He caddied for Mize for two years, and then Scott Simpson in 1992, and Mickelson the rest of the way. He was on the bag for Lefty's three green jackets.
Mackay still doesn't talk much about what led them to part ways, except to say that a player-caddie relationship runs its course.
''If you lose that positive dynamic, there's no point in continuing,'' he said. ''It can be gone in six months or a year or five years. In our case, it took 25 years.''
He says a dozen or so players called when they split up, and the phone call most intriguing was from Roy at NBC.
''I thought I'd caddie until I dropped,'' Mackay said.
He never imagined getting yardages and lining up putts for anyone except the golfer whose bag he was carrying. Now it's for an audience that measures in the millions. Mackay doesn't look at it as a second career. And he won't rule out caddying again.
''It will always be tempting,'' he said. ''I'll always consider myself a caddie. Right now, I'm very lucky and grateful to have the job I do.''
Except for that first week in April.
The Social: The end was nigh, then it wasn't
The star power at the Sony Open may have been overshadowed by a missile scare, but there were plenty of other social media stories that kept the golf world on its toes this week, including some insight on Tiger Woods from a round with President Obama and some failed trick shots.
All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.
By now you've undoubtedly heard about the false alarm in Hawaii on Saturday, where just about everyone, including most Sony Open participants, woke up to an emergency cell phone alert that there was a ballistic missile heading toward the islands.
Hawaiian emergency management officials eventually admitted the original message was mistakenly sent out, but before they did, people (understandably) freaked out.
As the situation unfolded, some Tour pros took to social media to express their confusion and to let the Twittersphere know how they planned on riding out this threat:
This is unreal,hiding in kitchen beachside missile attack from North Korea. Alarm went out all over Hawaii, and it’s no test...— Jesper Parnevik (@JesperParnevik) January 13, 2018
In a basement under hotel. Barely any service. Can you send confirmed message over radio or tv https://t.co/qHLeQSecnd— JJ Spaun (@JJSpaun) January 13, 2018
Under mattresses in the bathtub with my wife, baby and in laws. Please lord let this bomb threat not be real.— John Peterson (@JohnPetersonFW) January 13, 2018
While I would've been in that bathtub under the mattress with John Peterson, his wife, baby and in-laws (wait, how big is this tub?), here's how Justin Thomas reacted to the threat of impending doom:
Yeah, you heard that right.
“I was like ‘there’s nothing I can do,'” Thomas said. ”I sat on my couch and opened up the sliding door and watched TV and listened to music. I was like, if it’s my time, it’s my time.”
Hmmm ... can we just go ahead and award him all the 2018 majors right now? Because if Thomas is staring down death in mid-January, you gotta like the kid's chances on the back nine Sunday at Augusta and beyond.
Before the Hawaiian Missile Crisis of 2018, things were going about as well as they could at Waialae Country Club, starting with the Wednesday pro-am.
Jordan Spieth might have been the third-biggest star in his own group, after getting paired with superstar singer/songwriter/actor Nick Jonas and model/actress Kelly Rohrbach.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a more photogenic group out on the course, and the "Baywatch" star has a gorgeous swing as well, which makes sense, considering she was a former collegiate golfer at Georgetown.
As impressive as that group was, they were somehow outshined by an amateur in another group, former NFL coach June Jones.
Jones, who now coaches the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, played his round in bare feet and putted with his 5-iron, a remedy he came up with to battle the yips.
Considering he made back-to-back birdies at one point during the day, it's safe to say he's won that battle.
With Tiger Woods' return to the PGA Tour about a week away, that sound you hear is the hype train motoring full speed down the tracks.
First, his ex-girlfriend Lindsey Vonn told Sports Illustrated that she hopes this comeback works out for him.
“I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way," the Olympic skiier said. "I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”
Vonn also mentioned she thinks Woods is very stubborn and that he didn't listen to her enough. That really shouldn't shock anyone who watched him win the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg. Don't think there were a lot of people in his ear telling him that was a great idea at the time.
We also have this report from Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte, stating that the 14-time major champ recently played a round with former president Barack Obama at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., where he received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.
The Farmers Insurance Open is sure to be must-see TV, but until then, I'm here for all of the rampant speculation and guesses as to how things will go. The more takes the better. Make them extra spicy, please and thanks.
These poor New Orleans Saints fans. Guess the only thing you can do is throw your 65-inch TV off the balcony and get 'em next year.
Here's two more just for good measure.
Focus on a different face every time and this 15 second clip turns into 10 minutes of pure entertainment pic.twitter.com/JJeVV5eaVh— Laces Out (@LacesOutShow) January 15, 2018
Farts ... will they ever not be funny?
Perhaps someday, but that day was not early last week, when Tommy Fleetwood let one rip on his European teammates during EurAsia Cup team photos.
Fleetwood went 3-0-0 in the event, helping Europe to a victory over Asia, perhaps by distracting his opponents with the aid of his secret weapon.
Also, how about the diabolical question, "Did you get that?"
Yeah Tommy, we all got that.
Ahhh ... golf trick shot videos. You were fun while you lasted.
But now we’ve officially come to the point in their existence where an unsuccessful attempt is much more entertaining than a properly executed shot, and right on cue, a couple of pros delivered some epic fails.
We start with Sony Open runner-up James Hahn’s preparation for the event, where for some reason he thought he needed to practice a running, jumping, Happy Gilmore-esque shot from the lip of a bunker. It didn’t exactly work out.
Not to be outdone, Ladies European Tour pro Carly Booth attempted the juggling-drive-it-out-of-midair shot made famous by the Bryan Bros, and from the looks of things she might have caught it a little close to the hosel.
PSA to trick-shot artists everywhere: For the sake of the viewing public, if you feel a miss coming on, please make sure the camera is rolling.
Seriously, though, who cares? Definitely not these guys and gals, who took the time to comment, "who cares?" They definitely do not care.