Fashionable Pick

By Rex HoggardJuly 14, 2009, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship TURNBERRY, Scotland ' The man Tiger Woods jokingly refers to as No. 2 received a less-than-world-beater welcome when he arrived late Sunday to Turnberry.
I turned up at 10 (p.m.) and had a little look at the 18th green, Ian Poulter smiled. Security guards came out, What are you doing? So that was my first look and then I got escorted off in a wagon.
Poulter was joking, of course. The mans wardrobe has made him almost immediately recognizable particularly on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. What may be different about this Open Championship, Poulters eighth, is that the Englishmans play over the past 12 months has made him much more than simply a fashion favorite.
Enter the 2009 Play With Poulter Sweepstakes
Beginning at last years Open Championship, Poulters golf instead of his garb has started to share equal billing. How far Poulter has climbed on the world stage was perhaps best demonstrated earlier this year at The Players.
Poulter has never lacked for confidence, but at TPC Sawgrass that confidence reached a new level.
At TPC I felt like I had the game for the biggest tournaments, Poulter said in an interview with I certainly believe that I have the game to win by how Ive played over the last six months.
It was 12 months ago at Royal Birkdale where he began to take the form of the worlds No. 2. Poulter began the blustery final round six shots behind Greg Norman, birdied three of his last 10 holes and finished runner-up, four behind Padraig Harrington, for his best finish in a major.
Before Birkdale, Poulter was a non-story at the games biggest events, posting just a single top-10 finish in his previous 22 Grand Slam starts.
The confidence born from Birkdale lasted through Septembers Ryder Cup. Europe may have lost Samuel Ryders chalice, but it wasnt because of a lack of effort from Poulter. The captains pick was a workhorse for Nick Faldo, playing all five matches, the only European to do that, and earning four points, by far the losing sides top performance.
In many ways his Valhalla showing was gratifying, particularly because of the media-driven criticism leveled on Faldo before the matches for picking Poulter.
To come out the leading points earner at the Ryder Cup was huge for me because I was being told I didnt deserve my spot, Poulter said. I wanted to play as good as I could and I was just proud to go out there under those conditions and perform.
Poulters solid play continued in 2009. Hes missed just two of 11 cuts on the PGA Tour, including his runner-up at Sawgrass and a tie for 18th at last months U.S. Open. He also was third two weeks ago at the French Open to climb into the top 20 in the world ranking for the first time.
Interestingly, it is limited expectations that may make him a player to watch at Turnberry. Although hes never limited his potential at any event hes ever played, on Tuesday he dismissed his status as a growing favorite.
Ive often gone out with too many expectations and its not worked, Poulter said. Im not going out there having the mindset on Thursday morning I have to win, I have to win, I have to win. Im going out there to play a round of golf.
Thats unassuming ground for a player who was quoted in a magazine article last year as saying, When I play to my potential I just feel there will only be me and Tiger Woods. There's no one else I rate that highly.
Thats not to say Poulter has toned down his refreshingly honest assessments of his game or the state of the game.
At last months U.S. Open Poulter chided the U.S. Golf Associations decision not to use lift, clean and place rules at Bethpage as a schoolboy error.
Nor is Poulter inclined to tone down his wardrobe. Normally cryptic about his lineup for Open Championship week, Poulter offered a vague preview of what to expect from him on Thursday: Ill have a red, white and blue cashmere Cardigan with a Union Jack for Thursday.
As for what to expect from his game, his record would suggest hes closer to that No. 2 ranking than anyone ever envisioned.
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    Ortiz takes Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x