Things We Wont See or Hear

By Rex HoggardMarch 17, 2010, 11:33 pm

The line will be delivered in the dulcet tones of a southern aristocrat and announce an end to the beginning, “Fore please, Tiger Woods now driving.”

It is the quintessential Masters sendoff and will break a competitive silence that has left the once foregone conclusion of Jack Nicklaus’ Grand Slam take in question and the game preoccupied for all the wrong reasons.

Before then, there is a lot of ground to cover, and, as has been the central theme throughout this sordid saga, there are more questions than answers. Among them, how will the galleries, fellow players and media react to Woods’ return? Given his five-month, self-imposed competitive hiatus, what will be the state of his game? Has the air of invincibility that at one time seemed worth a shot a side been diminished?

There are a few certainties, however. Among the things we won’t see or hear at Augusta National:

-Tiger Woods paired with, well . . . anybody in the annual Par 3 Contest. This may be a new, improved Tiger, but that exhibition does little for a man who keeps time with major championships.

-A stay in the Crow’s Nest. The dorm atop the stately clubhouse would be as good a place as any to avoid the inevitable scrutiny, but the room, which sleeps five, may be a little sparse for the multi-millionaire.

-“Next question.” Either from Woods or whichever member runs his press conference. Expect him to talk, but those waiting for full disclosure should get used to disappointment. It’s simply not in his DNA.

-A line of potential playing partners for Rounds 1 and 2. Of course, there is no shortage of players who will do it, but not many who really want to. Golf Channel colleague Charlie Rymer suggested officials pair two former champions, say, long-time friend Mark O’Meara and Fred Couples, with Woods because whoever is on the first tee with him is every bit the ceremonial golfer that Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus will be.

-Extra Pinkertons for autograph sessions. Although it was out of character to the extreme to announce three weeks before the tournament that he will play the Masters, don’t expect a complete makeover. He could likely do more good with a Sharpie in his hand than a putter, but don’t count on it.

-Elin Woods sighting. The best news that came from Tuesday’s announcement is an indication that things on the home front have stabilized, but that doesn’t mean Elin will be front and center at Augusta National. If last month’s press event at TPC Sawgrass was any indication, the missus plans to stay out of the spotlight.

-Extra media credentials. Media gate passes for the year’s first major arrived via e-mail more than a week ago which means that shop is closed. Anything short of a resurrection of O.B. Keeler, the longtime former Atlanta sports writer and Bobby Jones confident, will be greeted with a polite, but firm, no.

-Second or third strikes. There are no mulligans on the first tee at Augusta National, nor will there be any for the galleries. Tolerance of inappropriate behavior is low during the best of years, but next month things will be Draconian by comparison.

-Q&As during the Champions Dinner. Forget who gets paired with Woods for the first two rounds, the guys that get seated next to him during the traditional feast are in for a long night. “So, Tiger. How ya been?”

There is also the question of what’s next? On Tuesday PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said he expects Woods to play a normal schedule the rest of the way, which would suggest his next start would be the Quail Hollow Championship in May.

We were talking with Quail Hollow tournament director Kym Houghman during last week’s WGC-CA Championship when Woods’ manager Mark Steinberg walked up and asked for a moment in private with Houghman. A circumstantial encounter to be sure, but interesting nonetheless.

Following Quail Hollow is the Players Championship, Memorial and U.S. Open, all events Woods would likely play under normal circumstances and events that would struggle to maintain the level of control the world No. 1 will enjoy at Augusta National.

All of which means Augusta National will only be a temporary reprieve for Woods. A place where only the golf will likely matter, where the words, “Fore please, Tiger Woods now driving” will not be met with a smattering of snickers. A place where he can finally return to what he does best.

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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.

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Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:26 am

PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.

With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.

After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.

“I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”

It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.

Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.

“It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”

Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.

“Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”

Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).

Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.

“It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”

Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.

“This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”

Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.