Notes Three Cheers for Westwood

By Mercer BaggsAugust 31, 2003, 4:00 pm
NORTON, Mass. -- Lee Westwood isnt alone in the celebration of his first victory since 2000.
 
Its fantastic, said Darren Clarke, who has the same manager as Westwood.
 
Westwood captured this weeks BMW International Open in Germany. He won six times on the European Tour in 2000 and usurped Colin Montgomerie at the top of the Order of Merit.
 
But he had only three top-10s in the last three years, and saw his Official World Golf Ranking plummet from fourth to 215th at the start of the week.
 
For what hes been through these past three years, as much work as hes put in ' his head hasnt dropped. He's kept going and kept going. Its fantastic to see him back in the winners circle again, Clarke said.
 
Clarke left a message for Westwood as he was putting out on the final hole. He said he would try and chat with him Sunday evening, and if not, he would see him Wednesday for a pre-scheduled outing.
 
That could be a long day, said Clarke.
 
Clarke won over $1 million in last weeks WGC-NEC Invitational, and is in contention for the $900,000 first-place prize at this week Deutsche Bank Championship.
 
Asked who would be buying the Guinness, Clark said: I dont mind paying.
 
Englishman Justin Rose was also happy to see his countryman find his winning form.
 
We had dinner last night and said, Wouldnt it be great if he could shoot 64 and win, Rose said. Im very happy for him.
 
Said Tiger Woods, who has competed against Westwood on the European Tour and in past Ryder Cups: He was a great player a few years ago; No. 4 in the world. He was right up there. No one ever wants to see another player play poorly like that. Hes worked hard and its good to see.
 
NOT A WEEKEND WARRIOR
 
Vijay Singh has had no problem getting out of the starting blocks of late, but he seems to stumble or stall down the stretch.
 
Singh started the third round of the Deutsche Bank Championship two behind Adam Scott. Scott shot 67 Sunday; Singh 71 Hes now six back.
 
Singh, who won this year in Phoenix and at the Byron Nelson, was tied for the 36-hole lead in the U.S. Open but shot 72-78 over the weekend to tie for 20th.
 
He was two back after 54 holes of the Open Championship, but could only muster a 1-under 70 in the final round and finished tied for second. At the British Open, he was five behind the leaders through two rounds, only to shoot 70 in Round 3 and bottom-out with a 79 on Sunday.
 
Last week, he was one off the 36-hole lead at the WGC-NEC Invitational, but eventually settled for a tie for sixth.
 
BEWARE THE WEARY
 
Jonathan Kaye is a little weary, but is playing the best golf of his brief career.
 
Kaye earned his first PGA Tour victory at the Buick Classic. He also finished second at the NEC.
 
He is now alone in second place at the Deutsche Bank following a third-round 63; three strokes off the lead.
 
Kaye has played six of the last seven weeks, and the one week he didnt compete, he still played his fair share of golf.
 
Kaye was awarded a one-year membership at Westchester Country Club, site of the Buick Classic, and went to enjoy his privileges during his week away from tour.
 
I have some relatives up there that support me and they come out every year and dredge through the mud out there, so I figured it would be a nice thing to do to take them out and play the course, he said.
 
I was there for three days. We played Winged Foot, Glen Arbor and Westchester.
 
FAXON REJUVINATED
 
When Brad Faxon shot 4-over 75 in the first round, he knew that he would miss out on more than just a paycheck should he miss the cut.
 
Faxon, a Rhode Island native, fired a 66 Saturday to finish at 1-under-par 141; just creeping inside the even-par cutline.
 
He returned in Round 3 with a 68 to get to 4 under for the tournament. And though he wont win this week, hes certainly enjoying the experience.
 
I dont get the crowd support like this everywhere I play, said Faxon, who is a local celebrity.
 
This has made me appreciate a little bit ' sometimes, I get so serious and worried about so many things. They want to see good golf and thats the bottom line out there. When I watched Annika (Sorenstam) at Colonial and Suzy Whaley at Hartford, the big smiles they had ' they really enjoyed playing. I have not been enjoying playing as much as I know I can.
 
At least until he returned to New England.
 
I feel very enthused this week with the crowd, he said. They have really helped me to play golf.
 
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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.