Olympic Dreams Are in the Details

By Rex HoggardOctober 9, 2009, 11:19 pm

SAN FRANCISCO – There are those who contend big picture, not minutia, should be our life looper. Details, the modern shaman contends, are for pencil-pushers handicapped by narrow vision.

Yet, as the news that golf had gotten its Olympic gold medal crept its way across the globe the thought occurred – “big picture” just became much more complicated. Paul Azinger said that it was “a zillion little details” that lifted the United States out of its Ryder Cup rut last year at Valhalla. It will be a gazillion details that will decide the game’s fate on the Olympic stage.

Make no mistake, golf’s Olympic walkoff is good for the game globally if not within the confines of the “Lower 48.” Proponents say the 2016 Games will spark interest in “developing golf nations,” which will beget millions of wannabe gold medalist, which will beget economic opportunity to build courses and sell equipment, which will beget global peace . . . or something to that effect.

Tim Finchem
Tim Finchem reacted to the Olympics decision Friday before fourball began at the Presidents Cup. (Getty Images)

Simply put, a gold medal has more street cred in Buenos Aires than a green jacket or a claret jug. It is the psyche of the third-world sporting nation that makes an Olympic opening so important for golf.

“The Olympics transcends just one sport,” said Michael Yim, a player manager with IMG who represents Y.E. Yang and K.J. Choi. “It is a more recognizable event and the general public would relate to it easier.

“Not that a PGA Championship or Masters win isn’t a tremendous accomplishment, but if you were to say K.J. or Y.E. is an Olympic gold medalist, it just resonates a different sound to it.”

The details, however, remain despite, or maybe because of, the fuzzy glow of victory.

Consider the 2016 docket: the Rio Games are scheduled to be played Aug. 5-21. Although the dates are not yet set for the ’16 PGA Championship or Ryder Cup, those events are historically played the second week of August and the second week of September, respectively.

Within an eight-week window, the game’s best will be asked to play the PGA at Baltusrol in New Jersey, the Olympics in Rio, the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National in Minnesota and whatever version of an unkissed FedEx Cup remains after Tiger Woods collects his eighth consecutive. When every event is special, none of them are.

“There will be some movement in the schedule,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. “I looked at several permutations for each of the city dates and we will be able to manage our way through this.”

But then the question is will the public be able to manage potentially seven must-see events in eight weeks?

The chosen format also seems to be a detail that needs adjusting. Although most of the game’s top players agreed the best way to decide a gold medal bout is with 72 holes of stroke play, this week’s matches at Harding Park have shown the value of foursomes action.

Imagine America’s “Dream Team” of Woods and Phil Mickeslon (insert your own joke there) taking on the globe in a double elimination foursomes match, perhaps the purest format for a team event in golf.

One of the biggest concerns the International Olympic Committee had with golf is whether the game’s top players would support the Games. “That issue is put to rest,” Finchem said early Friday.

For 2016 the issue is put to rest, but what of the Games beyond the Tiger era? Golf has always been defined by major championships. No one can recite Jack Nicklaus’ World Cup record, or his Ryder Cup line, but those 18 Grand Slams are the holy grail of golf. Will the Olympics shift that paradigm or will the 2020 Games and beyond suffer the same fate of basketball, which faded in importance after the original “Dream Team” hit gold?

As Finchem was making the media rounds on Friday at Harding Park the sun finally worked its way through that frigid marine layer. The course and the commish took a moment to enjoy the spotlight.

“I’ve always wanted to be in Rio,” Finchem smiled.

Now that he and golf have that coveted ticket to Brazil, the hard work, and the details, remain.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. 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.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.