Quotes of the Year
'The rookie mistake of the century. -- Will MacKenzie, after inadvertantly giving out his room number during an interview with the GOLF CHANNEL. He eventually had to turn off his phone to get it to stop ringing.
'Anybody that says 43 is old can go to hell. -- Vijay Singh, jokingly telling the crowd at the trophy presentation at the Mercedes-Benz Championship. Singh passed Sam Snead as the all-time leader in victories in PGA TOUR history after the age of 40.
'I'm happy with the way I played. I do try to win every decade, so I've accomplished that. -- Paul Goydos, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, after notching his first win since the 1996 Bay Hill Invitational.
I wasn't done grieving, nowhere near it. Similarly, I should have taken a break from golf after the Ryder Cup, because my heart wasn't really in it after that. -- Darren Clarke, on the recovery process after losing his wife, Heather, to cancer last year.
'I wanted to be his child. If I was a child I wouldn't play golf anymore, I'd be sitting in a boat somewhere spending all dad's money. I've been trying to get him to adopt me for the last five years, but he wouldn't do it. -- John Daly, when asked his thoughts on Tiger becoming a father.
'Keep improving, because I am going to do the same. -- Tiger Woods, giving his advice to the rest of the golf world.
Everything just goes back to Boo, which is where it should end, really, on Boo. It started on Boo and it should really end on Boo. -- Colin Montgomerie, joking with the press, about how a Q&A session somehow kept coming back to Boo Weekley.
'It's nice when you get him shaking his head, because usually he's got us shaking our heads. -- Chris DiMarco, after he and partner Henrik Stenson, thumped Tiger Woods and teammate John Cook at the Tavistock Cup.
I'm sure she's proud of me. -- Morgan Pressel, tearfully speaking of her mother who passed away four years ago from breast cancer, after becoming the youngest female player to ever win a major at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Even I've never heard of me! -- Zach Johnson, parodying himself during the Top-10 segment on the Late Show with David Letterman after his Masters victory.
I'm not sure if I qualify or not, but they're letting me in now, so the hell with everybody else! -- Hubert Green, to a roomful of laughing reporters at the press conference announcing his entry into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
'I couldn't take it much more. -- Annika Sorenstam, on a back injury that forced her to withdraw from the Ginn Open. Doctors discovered a ruptured disk and a bulging disk.
'It's ridiculous. Someone should have been shot I think. I mean, five hours and 45 minutes, that's insanity. -- Laura Davies, not mincing words about the pace of play during the third round at the Ginn Open.
'You ain't gonna see a redneck surfing! -- Boo Weekley, joking with GOLF CHANNEL reporter Steve Sands, after being told his victory earned him a trip to the Mercedes-Benz Championship on Maui, an island known as much for surfing as it is golfing.
'Byron (Nelson) knocked that last putt in for me. I couldn't see the hole, I couldn't see the ball, I didn't know what was happening. -- Scott Verplank, explaining his emotions to GOLF CHANNEL reporter Mike Ritz after his win at the Byron Nelson Championship.
Today is one of the most special days in my life. It's really special because I am at home and I am able to celebrate the news with the people in my country. This is a huge accomplishment for me. -- Lorena Ochoa, playing in the Corona Championship in her native Mexico, on her rise to the No. 1 ranking in the world.
'If I remember the quote correctly, he said he likes the new Tiger. I figure I've won nine of 12 (PGA TOUR events), and I've won three times this year -- the same amount he's won in his career. So, I like the new Tiger, as well. -- Tiger Woods, playfully responding to Rory Sabbatini's comments on how he thinks Woods is as beatable as ever.
'Hey, Rory. Still think Tiger's beatable? --Steve Banky, a spectator at Firestone, to Rory Sabbatini as Rory walked to the 10th tee already down four shots to the world's No. 1. Sabbatini then had officials remove Banky from the premises.
'I had to give it a slap across the face. I had no choice. -- Joakim Haeggman, recounting an incident that happened in the first round of the European Tour event in Spain, where he claims he was attacked by a goose in the fairway.
'Unfortunately, I got kicked in the teeth. -- Sean O'Hair, on his attempt to fire at the flagstick at the dangerous par-3 17th at Sawgrass.
'It was wacky. Ridiculous. -- Ernie Els, on his third round at Wentworth in which his scorecard showed two eagles, four birdies, a triple bogey, a double bogey and three bogeys. And that from a man who owns a home off the 16th fairway and has insider knowledge of the course as he was the one who oversaw the redesign.
'I just feel that there's a little bit of lack of respect and class just to kind of leave a tournament like that and then come out and practice here. -- Ginn Tribute host Annika Sorenstam, saying that she felt Michelle Wie owed her an apology for pulling out of the event due to injury and then immediately going to the McDonalds LPGA to practice.
'I don't really feel like I have to apologize for anything. -- Wie, saying that she wasnt sorry for any of her actions at Annika's event.
'To be honest, I felt very nervous. -- Maria Kostina, who became the first Russian to play in the U.S. Women's Open.
'Any press is good press ' unless its real bad. -- Will MacKenzie, talking about how he receives more attention for his lifestyle off the course than his play on it.
'There was a sign out there that said, 'No dogs or women allowed. Hopefully, they'll take it out for the week. -- Annika Sorenstam, referencing a sign she saw posted at St. Andrews when she last played there as an amateur. The Old Course hosted this years Womens British Open and women were allowed to enter the R&A clubhouse.
'Charles should give up. -- Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice, on the state of his buddy Charles Barkley's golf game.
'I'm fine with photographers on the course. It's the other players that I feel that was brought in for. The likes of Retief Goosen, and people like that, the people that really get upset over these type of things. -- Monty again, sarcastically answering a question about improvements in dealing with on-course noise.
'It must be liberating having no secrets. -- Paul Azinger, referring to John Daly and his much-publicized life of troubles.
'Here is more of a social club, of a drinking man's club, the average layman's club really. -- Aussie Graeme Courts , caddie for Loren Roberts, on Carnoustie's membership.
'I know for a fact that some golfers are doing it. -- Gary Player, on the eve of the Open Championship, talking about steroids in the game of golf.
'Yeah. I kind of put my foot in my mouth there, didn't I? But I didn't know. If you don't know, you don't know. I hated what I said, especially with him just saying what he said a couple days before, that he don't get no respect. And then I say something like that. It's like wham! Here's a slap to your head. -- Boo Weekley, on the story of how he asked 1999 Open Champion Paul Lawrie the question, 'How'd you get in? You qualify?'
'For me, this is the most special round of golf I ever played. -- Lorena Ochoa, following her win at St. Andrews, the first major title of her career.
'I was really, really looking forward to the guy on the first tee announcing 'The Open Champion' and he didn't do it. He just said: 'Padraig Harrington, Ireland'. I was gutted! I was looking forward to it for the last 24 hours. -- Padraig Harrington, on what happened on his first introduction at an event since becoming the Open champion.
'I'm really relieved. -- Mike Weir, in an obvious understatement, following his selection to the Presidents Cup that was played in his native country of Canada.
'Fat boys like me can get through the heat. Every time I worked out I threw up and I thought to myself that you can get drunk and throw up, so it's just not for me. -- John Daly, on his thoughts of possibly incorporating a workout program.
'I'm the first. -- Ben Curtis, on his tee shot to open the new PGA TOUR playoffs.
'M and O are pretty close together. -- Arron Oberholser, referring to the fact that he and Phil Mickelson's lockers are very close together in the locker room, on why he didn't care to elaborate on Mickleson's decision to skip the BMW Championship.
'I'm going with Phil Mickelson and Jacques Cousteau. -- Jack Nicklaus, in announcing his foursomes pairings for Saturday morning at the Presdients Cup, following Woody Austin's now imfamous dip into the water.
Marco. Polo. -- The Canadian gallery, alternating the chants of those two words to Woody as he strode down the fairways.
'It's funny. For years he was known as the guy who banged his head against his putter. And now he's the guy who banged his head against the water. -- Retief Goosen, with his take on Woody.
'We're never happy. We're golfers. -- Jason Gore, stating that no professional player -- not even Tiger Woods -- is completely satisfied with what he or she has accomplished.
'I got bullied into being here by a 12-year-old, a 10-year-old and a 3-year-old. -- Scott Verplank, on the big reason he played at the season-ending event at Disney World.
Everybody would like to perform better and play less, like Tiger. Unfortunately, not all of us can. -- J.P. Hayes, on his need to play in almost all of the Fall Series events in an effort to secure his PGA TOUR card for the 2008 season.
It's not life or death, but it's a hell of a big deal. -- Kevin Stadler, who moved inside the top 125 on the PGA TOUR money list thanks to his finish at Disney.
I never heard the guy complete a sentence in the 20 years I knew the guy. And now his voice activation system has switched on and you can't turn it off. -- Paul Azinger, with his thoughts on former broadcast partner Nick Faldo.
'I've learned after 11 years to let Tiger speak for himself. -- PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem when asked about the possibility Tiger Woods ever joining the European Tour with the new bonus money and $10 million dollar season-ending event in Dubai.
'This is awesome. I would like to dedicate this win to the Grateful Dead, as they have inspired me all the way. -- 'Dead Head' Bryan Saltus, after winning the inaugural Cambodian Open. Saltus has reportedly attended 153 Grateful Dead concerts.
'You see kids specialize in golf. I think that is idiotic. To play all the sports is great. I played everything. Golf to me was just another sport until I was about 19. When I won the National Amateur at 19, I finally said, 'Hmm, I must be a little better than I think I am.' It was just a game -- still is a game. -- Jack Nicklaus, speaking about the state of the game during a visit to the World Golf Hall of Fame.
I was gutted. But let's keep things in proportion, this is sport. It's not like anyone died out there. -- Ernie Els, on his Web site, following his collapse on the 72nd hole of the Alfred Dunhill Championship.
I'm in shock. -- England's John Bickerton, his response after Els' collapse.
I came here to get my card, but it's not life or death. I have things in perspective. -- Todd Demsey, after a 10-year absence and two operations to remove a brain tumor the size of a golf ball, finally making it back to the PGA TOUR through Q-school.
Quotes of the Week Archive
Tiger's checklist: How he can contend at Augusta
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Augusta is already on the minds of most players here at the Honda Classic, and that includes the only one in the field with four green jackets.
Yes, Tiger Woods has been talking about the Masters ever since he started this latest comeback at Torrey Pines. These three months are all about trying to build momentum for the year’s first major.
Woods hasn’t revealed his schedule past this week, but his options are limited. He’s a good bet to play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he has won eight times, but adding another start would be a departure from the norm. He’s not eligible for the two World Golf Championship events, in Mexico and Austin, and he has never played the Valspar Championship or the Houston Open.
So there’s a greater sense of urgency this week at PGA National, which is realistically one of his final tune-ups.
How will Woods know if he’s ready to contend at Augusta? Here’s his pre-Masters checklist:
1. Stay healthy
So far, so good, as Woods tries to resume a normal playing schedule following four back surgeries since 2014. Though he vowed to learn from his past mistakes and not push himself, it was a promising sign that Woods felt strong enough to sign up for the Honda, the second of back-to-back starts on separate coasts.
Another reason for optimism on the health front: The soreness that Woods felt after his season opener at Torrey Pines wasn’t related to his surgically repaired back. No, what ached most were his feet – he wasn’t used to walking 72 holes on hilly terrain.
Woods is stiffer than normal, but that’s to be expected. His back is fused.
2. Figure out his driver
Augusta National is more forgiving off the tee than most major courses, putting more of a premium on approach shots and recoveries.
That’s good news for Woods, who has yet to find a reliable tee shot. Clearly, he is most comfortable playing a fade and wants to take the left side of the course out of play, but in competition he’s been plagued by a two-way miss.
In two starts this year, Woods has hit only 36 percent of the fairways, no matter if he was using driver, fairway wood or long iron.
Unfortunately, Woods is unlikely to gain any significant insight into his driver play this week. PGA National’s Champion Course isn’t overly long, but there is water on 15 of the 18 holes. As a result, he said he likely will hit driver only four times a round, maybe five, and otherwise rely on his 3-wood and 2-iron.
Said Rory McIlroy: “Being conservative off the tee is something that you have to do here to play well.”
That won’t be the case at Augusta.
3. Clean up his iron play
As wayward as Woods has been off the tee, his iron play hasn’t impressed, either.
At Riviera, he hit only 16 greens in regulation – his fewest in a Tour event as a professional. Of course, Woods’ chances of hitting the green are reduced when he’s playing from the thick rough, sand and trees, but he also misfired on six of the eight par 3s.
Even when Woods does find the green, he’s not close enough to the hole. Had he played enough rounds to qualify, his proximity to the hole (39 feet, 7 inches) would rank 161st on Tour.
That won’t be good enough at Augusta, where distance control and precision are paramount.
Perhaps that’s why Justin Thomas said last week what many of us were thinking: “I would say he’s a pretty good ways away.”
4. Get into contention somewhere
As much as he would have liked to pick off a win on the West Coast, Woods said that it’s not a prerequisite to have a chance at the Masters. He cited 2010, when he tied for fourth despite taking four months off after the fallout from his scandal.
In reality, though, there hasn’t been an out-of-nowhere Masters champion since Charl Schwartzel in 2011. Since then, every player who eventually donned the green jacket either already had a win that year or at least a top-3 finish worldwide.
“I would like to play well,” Woods said. “I would like to win golf tournaments leading into it. The years I’ve won there, I’ve played really well early.”
Indeed, he had at least one win in all of the years he went on to win the Masters (1997, 2000, ’01, ’05). Throw in the fact that Woods is nearly five years removed from his last Tour title, and it’s reasonable to believe that he at least needs to get himself into contention before he can seriously entertain winning another major.
And so that’s why he’s here at the Honda, trying to find his game with seven weeks to go.
“It’s tournament reps,” he said, “and I need tournament reps.”
Add that to the rest of his pre-Masters checklist.
Players winner to get 3-year exemption into PGA
Although The Players isn’t golf’s fifth major, it received a boost in that direction this week.
The PGA of America has adjusted its criteria for eligibility into the PGA Championship, extending an exemption for the winner of The Players to three years.
According to an official with the PGA of America, the association felt the winner of The Players deserved more than a single-year exemption, which had been the case, and the move is consistent with how the PGA Tour’s annual flagship event is treated by the other majors.
Winners of The Players were already exempt for three years into the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship.
The change will begin with this year’s PGA Championship.
Thomas: Playing in front of Tiger even more chaotic
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas may be going from the frying pan to the fire of Tiger Woods’ pairings.
Translation: He’s going from being grouped with Woods last week in the first two rounds at the Genesis Open to being grouped directly in front of Woods this week at the Honda Classic.
“Which might be even worse than playing with him,” Thomas said Wednesday.
Typically, the pairing in front of Woods deals with a lot of gallery movement, with fans racing ahead to get in position to see Woods’ next shot.
Thomas was quoted after two rounds with Tiger at Riviera saying fans “got a little out of hand,” and saying it’s disappointing some golf fans today think it’s “so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we’re trying to hit shots.”
With 200,000 fans expected this week at the Honda Classic, and with the Goslings Bear Trap pavilion setting a party mood at the 16th green and 17th tee, that portion of the course figures to be quite lively at PGA National.
Thomas was asked about that.
“I touched on this a little bit last week,” Thomas said. “I think it got blown out of proportion, was just taken out of context, and worded differently than how I said it or meant it.
“I love the fans. The fans are what I hope to have a lot of, what all of us hope to have a lot of. We want them cheering us on. But it's those certain fans that are choosing to yell at the wrong times, or just saying stuff that's completely inappropriate.”
Thomas said it’s more than ill-timed shouts. It’s the nature of some things being said.
“It's one thing if it's just you and I talking, but when you're around kids, when you're around women, when you're around families, or just around people in general, some of the stuff they are saying to us is just extremely inappropriate,” he said. “There’s really no place for it anywhere, especially on a golf course.
“I feel like golf is pretty well known as a classy sport, not that other sports aren't, but it has that reputation.”
Thomas said the nature of the 17th hole at PGA National’s Champion Course makes it a more difficult tee shot than the raucous 16th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Typically, players like to hear fans get into the action before or after they hit shots. Ill-timed bluster, however, makes a shot like the one at Honda’s 17th even tougher.
“That hole is hard enough,” Thomas said. “I don't need someone yelling in my ear on my backswing that I'm going to hit it in the water, to make it any harder. I hope it gets better, just for the sake of the game. That's not helping anything. That's not helping grow the game.”
Those who follow golf know an ill-timed shout in a player’s backswing is different than anything a fan says at a football, basketball or baseball game. An ill-timed comment in a backswing has a greater effect on the outcome of a competition.
“Just in terms of how much money we're playing for, how many points we're playing for ... this is our jobs out here, and you hate to somehow see something that a fan does, or something that they yell, influence something that affects [a player’s] job,” Thomas said.
Rory: Phil said RC task force just copied Europe
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two weeks ago, Rory McIlroy quizzed Phil Mickelson about what the Americans got out of the U.S. Ryder Cup task force’s overhaul.
McIlroy and Mickelson were paired together at Pebble Beach.
“Basically, all they are doing is copying what the Europeans have done,” McIlroy said. “That's what he said.”
The Europeans claimed their sixth of seven Ryder Cups with their victory at Gleneagles in 2014. That brought about a sea change in the way the United States approached the Ryder Cup. Mickelson called out the tactics in Gleneagles of captain Tom Watson, who was outmaneuvered by European captain Paul McGinley.
The Americans defeated Europe at Hazeltine two years ago with that new European model.
“He said the first thing they did in that task force was Phil played a video, a 12-minute video of Paul McGinley to all of them,” McIlroy said. “So, they are copying what we do, and it's working for them. It's more cohesive, and the team and the core of that team are more in control of what they are doing, instead of the PGA of America recruiting and someone telling them what to do.”