Players Hoopla Wont Affect Play

By Mercer BaggsApril 3, 2003, 5:00 pm
Players like to speak of a singular mentality. The ability to focus on one shot at a time. Extract distraction.
 
Its a clich, but players love clichs. Theyre easy, compact, less thoughtful answers ' and theyre mostly truthful.
 
Ask a player about his round and hell give you mundane facts. Ask him something more personal and youll get anything from sincerity to sarcasm. Ask him about anything involving controversy and you wont get much of an answer at all.
 
No comment.
 
Those are two words Davis Love III expects to utter on more than one occasion next week in Augusta, Ga.
 
Ill talk to anybody to tell you how good Im playing or how I feel and let that be that, Love said after winning The Players Championship. Im going to play golf and Im not going to do anything else.
 
Love is talking, of course, about the peripheral distractions in wait at The Masters.
 
Of the host of players who had the good fortune to make it into the interview room at Sawgrass, few were spared at least one question about outside influences at Augusta National Golf Club.
 
And most agreed that they would not be influenced because it is on the outside.
 
The golf course is so well surrounded by ropes and fences, said Mike Weir, and the protests will be outside the ropes and the gates. I dont think it will affect the tournament at all.
 
Perhaps not on the outcome, but it has already had a major impact on the event and its surroundings.
 
The dispute over whether or not Augusta National should admit females as club members has affected everything from the local economy to national exposure.
 
Its been nearly 10 months since Dr. Martha Burk, chair of the National Council of Womens Organizations, sent Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson a letter requesting the club to include its first female member.
 
Since then, weve witnessed a demonstrative reply, the dropping of sponsors, subjective polls supporting both sides, televised debates, a surplus of publicity seekers and judicial decisions.
 
I think its tarnished it this year, Tiger Woods said about the negative light under which the tournament has been placed. I think eventually it will go away and it will be resolved and Augusta and the Masters will be what it is.
 
Tiger even joked that the best way onto club grounds would be to parachute in. Youve just got to sky dive in there, he said with a smile.
 
Under normal circumstances the Masters would go into hibernation after the presentation of the green jacket, occasionally popping its head out of the ground to announce course changes.
 
The seasons first major wouldnt make steam until the PGA Tour hit Florida. And by this point, there would be two major story lines: Tiger trying for an unprecedented third straight victory; past champions age limit rescinded.
 
It would be about golf and little more. But the scenery, the stories, the serenity ' all have been upset by one terse two-page response from Johnson.
 
Its not just about a golf tournament anymore, said Woods. It used to be the first major of the year and everyone looked forward to that. Now its not that anymore.
 
It would be great if it would all go away and we could just play a golf tournament again, but thats not the reality of it.
 
What should be expected is exceeded by the unknown. Who will protest, how many will picket, and will it change a thing are all to be determined.
 
But there are two givens.
 
One, players believe it will not affect play: I don't think it will be different from a player's point of view. When we get inside the gates and when we're playing and competing in our first major championship of 2003, the field will be the same as it always has been, said Phil Mickelson.
 
Said 1992 champion Fred Couples: They will still have 50,000 people out there screaming and yelling and having fun.
 
And two, they dont want to talk about it: I dont feel like my opinion, one way or the other, means a whole lot, said Jay Haas, who will be competing in his 19th Masters Tournament.
 
Its understandable that players dont want to speak out on the subject. Theyre not controversial types; controversy harms the image, which, in turn, hinders endorsement deals. And theyre not only leery, theyre weary of the subject; theyve been asked to state their opinions ad nauseam.
 
In a poll conducted by Sports Illustrated, 49 percent of the players asked said that Augusta National should open its membership to a female. Twenty-three percent said no, while 28 percent said its up to them, not me.
 
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has supported that 28-percentile, stating the tournament, like all of the four major championships, is not run by the tour.
 
Its not really something I want to get into again, said last years Masters runner-up Retief Goosen when prompted last week.
 
I really dont have a comment, said six-time Masters champion Jack Nicklaus, who is also a club member.
 
As Love said, no comment will be two of the most expressed words in the media center and under the old oak tree behind the clubhouse next week.
 
You dont want to try and avoid either place, but you want to try and play well enough to change the subject, he said.
 
Related Links:
  • 2003 Masters Tournament Mini-Site
  • Tournament Coverage
  • The Augusta National Membership Debate: A Chronology
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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.