It Takes a Village

By Rex HoggardMarch 13, 2009, 4:00 pm
2007 WGC CA ChampionshipDORAL, Fla. ' There is not cut at the WGC-CA Championship, perhaps the only flaw in the WGC concept, but Cut Line had no shortage of material for its inaugural March Madness edition.
 

MADE CUT
 
  • WGC-CA Championship: Some scoffed when the Doral stop was pulled within the World Golf Championship umbrella, fearing a limited field would harm what had become one of the circuits most exciting stops.
     
    Three years into the WGC experiment at Doral, however, its become clear the buzz is back and that has a lot to do with the fields international tilt. The World Baseball Classic may be the international heavyweight in this area, but never before has the golf village felt so small than at the CA.
     
    Posh, on-site accommodations, a classic ballpark and the Monster Grill ' the tented burger stand adjacent the scoring trailer which is a favorite among players, caddies and the media ' easily make Doral the jewel of the WGC crown.
     
  • Youth: Maybe life after Tiger Woods wont be so bleak, at least if the picture of youth painted by Fridays leaderboard at Doral is any indication.
     
    Anthony Kim, 23, bounded out of the scoring trailer this afternoon, iPod earphones pushed deep in his ears and a smile etched into his face following a second-round 69, looking like the same AK who won twice in 08 and fist-pumped the Valhalla galleries into a frenzy at the Ryder Cup.
     
    Dustin Johnson, who has never met a fast car he didnt like or a par-5 he couldnt reach in two shots, pounded his way to a second-day 66 to move into the hunt for his third Tour title at 24.
     
    Rory McIlroy, the 19-year-old Northern Irishman who attended his first NBA game Wednesday night (Heat vs. Celtics) and became an instant hoops fan, continued to impress with an eclectic card (nine pars, six birdies, two bogeys and an eagle) that backs up his managers assessment, He plays like an Irish Seve (Ballesteros), Chubby Chandler smiled.
     
    Not far to the south, or from a regular spot at Doral, Jason Day, 21, is closing in on his first Tour title, pacing the field at the Puerto Rico Open at 10 under after a 66-68 start.
     
    Dont look now, but Generation Z is closing.
     

    MADE CUT' DID NOT FINISH (MDF)
     
  • Phil Mickelson: Yes, hes in the lead and hes starting to look like the Phil of old, which is exactly why hes atop the MDF list. The new version of the Old Phil, is just as exciting as the 1.0 version, and just as venerable to the untimely meltdown.
     
    And while Mickelson would never pen a Drive it like a champion tome because, Nobody would buy it, he smiled, but watching the short-game show Lefty put on Friday his new putting and chipping DVD is a must-see.
     
    The Thrill chipped in at the seventh hole for birdie on Friday to take the lead, needed just eight putts to cover his final nine holes on Thursday ' the Tours third-lowest total ' and is leading the field with a 1.45 putting average.
     
    Win, lose or wince, the man is an A ticket ride between the ropes.
     
  • Dr. Thomas Rosenberg: The Park City, Utah, surgeon who performed Tiger Woods season-ending knee surgery last June may have stitched together a healthier, more stable left knee but it has been a while since his high-profile patient performed like he did Friday at Doral.
     
    It may be a stretch to saddle Dr. Rosenberg with Woods erratic play which included two sloppy bogeys in a five-hole stretch that landed the world No. 1 some 10 shots out of the lead and tied for 35th in his second stroke-play event in 10 months, but somebody has to take the fall if Woods begins his comeback 0-for-2.
     
    Therefore, Woods play must have something to do with Rosenbergs handiwork. Or, maybe hes just a tad rusty and dialing his game in for Augusta National. You decide.
     

    MISSED CUT
     
  • Congress (c/o Rep. Barney Frank): Its become good sport to scold economically stressed companies for honoring their commitments and trying to improve their business.
     
    Northern Trust ' which received funds from the Department of Treasurys $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program ' became the epicenter of the controversy when it fulfilled its commitment to host the Los Angeles stop and held numerous parties and a concert to entertain clients.
     
    Frank and colleagues demanded Northern Trust repay the money spent to host the event. Lost in the political hyperbole was the fact Northern Trust never requested TARP funds. Besides, if TARP companies cant compete with companies that are allowed to market and entertain, they may not be the best investments.
     
  • Prayad Van de Velde, eh . . . Marksaeng: Forgive the transgression, but the native of Thailand made such a mess of the 18th on Friday the confusion is certainly understandable.
     
    Considering how far Marksaeng has come to earn his place at Doral ' during an extended scrum Friday with gathered scribes he talked about earning $3 per loop as a caddie as a kid, losing his only two matches in a short-lived boxing career and the death of three of his siblings ' his closing miscue will probably not keep him up late Friday.
     
    Perspective can make even the most unsightly triple-bogey look like a Rembrandt.
     

     
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  • Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."

    Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

    Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

    Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

    Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

    With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

    Ko told GolfChannel.com Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

    “It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

    Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

    Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

    "It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."

    Piller pregnant, no timetable for LPGA return

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Gerina Piller, the American Olympian golfer and three-time Solheim Cup veteran, is pregnant and will not be rejoining the LPGA when the 2018 season opens, the New York Times reported following the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller, 32, who is married to PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, is due with the couple’s first child in May, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz reported.

    Piller declined an interview request when GolfChannel.com sought comment going into the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Piller told the New York Times she has no timetable for her return but that she isn’t done with competitive golf.

    “I’m not just giving everything up,” Piller said.

    As parity reigns, LPGA searching for a superstar

    By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 4:00 pm

    Apologies to the LPGA’s golden eras, but women’s golf has never been deeper.

    With the game going global, with the unrelenting wave of Asian talent continuing to slam the tour’s shores, with Thailand and China promising to add to what South Korea is delivering, it’s more difficult than ever to win.

    That’s a beautiful and perplexing thing for the women’s game.

    That’s because it is more difficult than ever to dominate.

    And that’s a magic word in golf.

    There is no more powerful elixir in the sport.

    Domination gets you on the cover of Sports Illustrated, on ESPN SportsCenter, maybe even on NBC Nightly News if the “D” in domination is dynamic enough.

    The women’s best chance of moving their sport to another stratosphere is riding the back of a superstar.

    Or maybe a pair of superstar rivals.


    Photos: 2017 LPGA winners gallery


    A constellation of stars may be great for the devoted regular supporters of the women’s game, but it will take a charismatic superstar to make casual fans care.

    The LPGA needs a Serena Williams.

    Or the reincarnation of Babe Zaharias.

    For those of us who regularly follow the LPGA, this constellation of stars makes for compelling stories, a variety of scripting to feature.

    The reality, however, is that it takes one colossal story told over and over again to burst out of a sports niche.

    The late, great CBS sports director Frank Chirkinian knew what he had sitting in a TV production truck the first time he saw one of his cameras bring a certain young star into focus at the Masters.

    It’s this player coming up over the brow of the hill at the 15th hole to play his second shot,” Chirkinian once told me over lunch at a golf course he owned in South Florida.  “He studies his shot, then flips his cigarette, hitches up his trousers and takes this mighty swipe and knocks the shot on the green. It was my first experience with Arnold Palmer, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’

    “The thing about golf, more than any other sport, it’s always looking for a star. It’s the only sport where people will root against the underdog. They don’t want the stars to lose. They’re OK with some unknown rising up to be the story on Thursday or Friday, but they always want to see the stars win.”

    And they go gaga when it’s one star so radiant that he or she dominates attention.

    “It didn’t matter if Arnold was leading, or where he was, you had to show him,” Chirkinian said. “You never knew when he might do something spectacular.”

    The LPGA is in a healthy place again, with a big upside globally, with so much emerging talent sharing the spotlight.

    Take Sunday at the CME Group Tour Championship.

    The back nine started with Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie making the turn tied for the lead. There is no more powerful pairing to sell in the women’s game today, but there would be no duel. It would have been too far off script as the final chapter to this season.

    Parity was the story this year.

    Sunday in Naples started with 18 players within two shots of the lead.

    Entering that back nine, almost a dozen players were in the mix, including Ariya Jutanugarn.

    The day ended with Jutanugarn beating Thompson with a dramatic birdie-birdie finish after Thompson stunned viewers missing a 2-foot putt for par at the last.

    The day encapsulated the expanding LPGA universe.

    “I’ve never seen such crazy, brilliant golf from these ladies,” said Gary Gilchrist, who coaches Jutanugarn, Lydia Ko and Rolex world No. 1 Shanshan Feng. “It was unbelievable out there. It was just like birdie after birdie after birdie, and the scoreboard went up and down. And that’s why it’s so hard to be No. 1 on this tour. There’s not one person who can peak. It’s all of them at a phenomenal level of golf.”

    If Thompson had made that last 2-footer and gone on to win the CME, she would have become the sixth different world No. 1 this year. Before this year, there had never been more than three different No. 1s in a single LPGA season.

    Parity was the theme from the year’s start.

    There were 15 different winners to open the season, something that hadn’t happened in 26 years. There were five different major championship winners.

    This year’s Rolex Player of the Year Award was presented Sunday to So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. It’s the first time the award has been shared since its inception in 1966.

    Thompson won twice this year, with six second-place finishes, with three of those playoff losses, one of them in a major championship. She was close to putting together a spectacular year. She was close to dominating and maybe becoming the tour’s one true rock star.

    Ultimately, Thompson showed us how hard that is to do now.

    She’s in a constellation we’re all watching, to see if maybe one star breaks out, somebody able to take the game into living rooms it has never been, to a level of popularity it’s never been.

    The game won’t get there with another golden era. It will get there with a golden player.