Par 5 The Euros or Tiger

By Randall MellFebruary 8, 2011, 8:34 pm
Setting the week’s agenda with five questions for professional golf at large . . .

Is this the week Tiger Woods turns his momentum around?

You would think the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai would be good for what ails Tiger Woods at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic this week.

But that’s what we thought about Torrey Pines before Woods shot 74-75 on the weekend in his season debut at the Farmers Insurance Open two weeks ago, and that’s what we thought about Firestone Country Club last August before he closed with a 77 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational to finish the tournament 18 over par.

Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood
Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood (Getty Images).
Favorite venues haven’t been enough to revive Woods’ game. At Torrey Pines, he said there’s no such thing as a setback, but that’s what it feels like when he struggles on venues where we’ve seen him dominate.

In Woods’ last five starts at Dubai, here’s his line: W, T-3, W, T-5, T2. He sports a 67.9 scoring average there, and he’s been over par just once in 20 rounds there. His worst score on the course is a 73. The last time Woods played at Emirates, he beat a leaderboard that looks better than ever today. In ’08, he beat Martin Kaymer by a shot, Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen by two and Graeme McDowell by four.

Still, unless conditions have been dramatically altered, European Tour broadcaster Jay Townsend’s expecting a less Tiger friendly setup. The former European Tour player reports the course was set up with “super narrow fairways” and “deep, thick rough” when he played it two weeks ago.

While the Dubai field is strong at the top with four of the top seven in the world rankings playing, it isn’t particularly deep. Overall, just nine of the top 50 in the world are scheduled to play. The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is host to 11 of the top 50 this week, and AT&T no longer ranks among the deepest fields on the PGA Tour.

If Woods can’t muster a run at Emirates, after failing to muster a run at Torrey Pines, doubts about his game are sure to escalate among his fellow tour pros and among media. The larger question is whether they grow in Woods’ head and heart.
Whatever you can do we can do better?

With No. 1 Lee Westwood, No. 2 Kaymer and No. 3 Woods grouped together for the first two rounds of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the European Tour’s managed to trump the PGA Tour yet again.

With news filtering out last week that the PGA Tour is now arranging marquee groupings, the European Tour arranged the year’s best possible threesome, putting 1-2-3 together. The trio goes off at 12:20 p.m. Emirates time (3:20 a.m. ET) for Thursday’s first round and off again at 8 a.m. Friday Emirates time (That’s actually 11 p.m. Thursday ET).

All three have good records there. Kaymer’s three Dubai starts finished like this: T-4, T-4, 2nd. Westwood has finished runner-up twice there, including last year, when he lost in a playoff to Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Will the Europeans keep pushing past Americans on the OWGR?

With Westwood, Kaymer and Woods in Dubai, it marks the first time a European Tour event outside a major championship and World Golf Championship has been host to the top three players in the world since 1994.

Four of the top seven players in the Official World Golf Ranking are teeing it up in Dubai with No. 7 Rory McIlroy in the mix.

McIlroy won this event two years ago.

If the Euros outplay Woods, it emboldens a continent already soaring in rank. At the start of the ’08 season, the top four players in the world rankings were Americans. This week, five of the top seven are Europeans.
Will Dustin Johnson three-peat at Pebble Beach?

In the rich history of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, nobody’s ever won the event three consecutive years.

Last year, Dustin Johnson joined Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Sam Snead, Cary Middlecoff and Mark O’Meara as back-to-back winners of the event.

The resilience Johnson showed coming back to win so quickly after his PGA Championship debacle last year leads you to believe there will be no lingering effects from his Sunday meltdown at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach last summer, when he squandered a chance to win his first major championship. It leads you to believe he’ll be more determined to bounce back and make history this year.
Who’s going to stop Mark Wilson?

With power players dominating at Torrey Pines two events ago, with the changes to the grooves rule appearing to have negligible effect on bomb-and-gouge tactics, it’s good to see Mark Wilson become the first player to chalk up multiple victories this year. He’s using accuracy, strong iron play and a hot putter to dissect courses, instead of overpowering them.

Wilson, winner of the Waste Management Phoenix Open and Sony Open, will be looking for his third victory this season in four starts at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. In eight appearances in the event, he’s never finished better than T-25, but he’s never arrived there this hot, either.

Wilson leaped from No. 234 in the world rankings at year’s start to No. 51 this week. He’s also jumped to No. 7 on the U.S. Presidents Cup standings.

Follow Randall Mell on Twitter @RandallMell
Getty Images

Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.