Bunker Shots Tiger Woods and the Big Easy

By Randall MellSeptember 1, 2009, 12:00 pm
The FedEx Cup playoffs move to the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston, where the Francis Ouimet Museum is located. Ouimet, of course, ignited the popularity of golf in the United States with his upset of British champions Harry Vardon and Ted Ray at the 1913 U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. We set the storylines for the week ahead with the help of Ouimet and friends.
Tiger aims to improve his mood
“The difficult thing about golf is reaching the peak and then trying to stay there.” – Ouimet from his book, “A Game of Golf.'
If you adhered to one of Jack Nicklaus’ theories, you might have crossed Tiger Woods off your list of first-round FedEx Cup playoff contenders.
Watching Woods’ body language at The Barclays, you couldn’t help wondering if his attitude made a difference in the outcome.
Nicklaus used to say that when he heard players complaining about a golf course, he would eliminate them in his mind as potential challengers. Woods never complained publicly about Liberty National, and Nicklaus is far too smart to have ever crossed a player like Woods off a list of possible winners, but the principle Nicklaus believed in might have been in play last weekend.
Woods’ dislike for Liberty National came through comments relayed to media by a pro-am partner, who said Woods speculated that Tom Kite must have designed the course before he got his eyes fixed. It was a clever line, but maybe too clever. Woods’ discomfort on the course also came through in his edgy demeanor. Woods managed to nearly win the event anyway, but you still wonder if his disdain for the course proved to be a one-stroke handicap, the margin of his defeat.
Woods will be back in his comfort zone at the Deutsche Bank Championship. He may still be simmering over what happened at The Barclays, but simmering comfortably at TPC Boston.
Woods is back on a course that promises to improve his mood as much as his putting stroke. In five starts at TPC Boston, Woods has one victory and two ties for second. He won in ’06, finished second to Vijay Singh in ’04 and second to Phil Mickelson in ’07.
Wood’s scoring average is 68.15 in 20 rounds at TPC Boston.
Woods isn’t the only big name in a comfort zone in Boston. Vijay Singh didn’t get off to a very good start in defense of his FedEx Cup title, shooting a pair of 75s and missing the cut at The Barclays, but he’s even more at ease at TPC Boston than Woods is. Singh won there last year and also won there in ’04. His scoring average is better than Woods there at 67.75 over 20 rounds.
Mickelson has played just two events at TPC Boston, outdueling Woods in ’07 and tying for 73rd last year. His scoring average at TPC Boston is 68.42.
Els, Harrington find their form
“Do not reflect on the possibility of defeat; you become too anxious and lose your freedom of style.” – From Vardon’s “The Complete Golfer,” a book Ouimet committed to memory.
An Ernie Els rebound makes these FedEx Cup playoffs better. So does a Padraig Harrington bounce back.
Now if Els can keep his final rounds as clean as his bogey-free 66 Sunday at The Barclays, and Harrington can continue to avoid skulling chip shots into water hazards the way he did at the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship, this could be an entertaining playoff run.
Els jumped 36 spots to 11th in FedEx Cup points and Harrington 52 spots to 14th. In his last six starts, Els has finished T-8 or better four times.
Harrington’s given himself a chance to win on Sunday in his last three PGA Tour starts, tying for second in two of them.
The Playoffs’ Bubble Boys
“Great golfers frequently disagree on certain principles, and that is perhaps one of the main reasons we keep everlastingly at it, grasping each new thought with the hope that perhaps we can solve the mystery.” – Ouimet in his book “A Game of Golf.”
Adam Scott was the biggest name knocked out of the FedEx Cup playoffs last week. Sergio Garcia is looking at a similar fate if he doesn’t perform at the Deutsche Bank Championship this week.
The field for the FedEx Cup playoffs was trimmed from 125 at The Barclays to 100 this week. It will be cut to 70 for the BMW Championship outside Chicago next week.
Garcia is 71st in FedEx Cup points.
Garcia isn’t the only big name outside the top 70 in points. A year after winning the FedEx Cup, Singh is danger of not advancing to the final two playoff events. He’s 78th in points. Bubba Watson is 72nd and Justin Rose 80th.
Daniel Chopra and Briny Baird are bubble boys.
Chopra started The Barclays 100th on the FedEx Cup points list and advanced by holding onto that 100th spot.
Briny Baird opens the week 70th in points.
Presidents Cup captains poised to pick
“To think, when we ought to play, is madness.” – Ted Ray, who liked to play fast, from the book “The Greatest Game Ever Played.”
Presidents Cup captains Greg Norman and Fred Couples will each make their two discretionary picks to fill out their rosters the day after the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Couples’ picks aren’t hard to figure on the American side, but Norman’s are anybody’s guess with some of his top choices struggling.
Norman sounds like he wants to pick Rory Sabbatini, who got bounced out of an automatic selection when Y.E. Yang won the PGA Championship. Sabbatini didn’t inspire Norman by missing the cut at The Barclays last weekend, but Sabbatini wasn’t alone with Stephen Ames and K.J. Choi also missing the cut there. Matthew Goggin, another potential pick, withdrew from The Barclays with back problems. Shingo Katayama didn’t help himself missing the cut at the PGA Championship.
Adam Scott and Trevor Immelman are the biggest names available, but Scott’s game is in a dreadful way and Immelman’s struggling to recover from a nagging wrist injury.
Jeev Milkha Singh’s case looks stronger than ever after his tie for 17th at the Wyndham Championship. He’ll be trying to make a last impression at the Omega European Masters this week.
Also in the mix is Japanese sensation Ryo Ishikawa, who has won twice this year on the Japan Golf Tour and was not unimpressive tying for 56th at the PGA Championship.
None of these picks is as certain as Couples’ choices.
Couples already guaranteed GolfChannel.com that he would select Hunter Mahan with one of his picks and that U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover was the favorite for the other.
Mahan hasn’t done anything to blow that since Couples made the pronouncement at the PGA Championship. Mahan tied for 16th at the PGA Championship and tied for 20th at The Barclays.
Though Glover missed the cut at The Barclays, he looks secure. He finished fifth at the PGA Championship and tied for 24th at the Wyndham Championship.
The only other players with glimmers of hope are Brian Gay and David Toms. Gay missed the cut at the PGA Championship, skipped the Wyndham Championship with a sore back and tied for 12th at The Barclays. Toms hasn’t finished among the top 20 in his last three starts.
LPGA looking for an umbrella
“Within a decade of [Ouimet’s] victory, the number of American [golf] participants grew from 350,000 to more than 2,000,000. The number of courses tripled, and with municipal courses being built, people of all economic levels began playing.” – From the afterword in Ouimet’s “A Game of Golf.”
The LPGA moves to the CN Canadian Women’s Open this week with news that the tour is shopping for an umbrella sponsor.
According to the Sports Business Journal, the tour is shopping naming rights for the “highest profile and most exclusive sponsorship platform ever offered on the LPGA Tour.” The sponsorship would cover “ownership of the entire LPGA season” or a smaller number of events through a season-long competition that either awards a bonus prize or ends with a championship tournament sponsored by the same company. The magazine reported the tournament would be modeled after the event formerly known as the ADT Championship, which featured a season-long playoff race ending with a championship featuring the biggest payday in women’s golf, a $1 million first-place check. The LPGA wants the new event to be played at the start of the season.
The LPGA is seeking a three-year contract worth $3.5 million annually with a two-year option for the umbrella deal with sponsorship of the accompanying championship costing another $3.5 million a year for five years. Related Links:
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