Hooks and Cuts: Woods No Longer Mr. Popular

By Rich LernerMarch 23, 2011, 11:20 pm
Arnold Palmer InvitationalORLANDO, Fla. – Among athlete endorsers, Tiger Woods' negativity rating is matched only by Michael Vick at 49 percent, according to CNBC’s Darren Rovell. That’s simply hard to reconcile, especially set against the images I saw recently – Tiger’s “better than most” putt at The Players and his mile long Saturday eagle at the ’08 U.S. Open. In both instances, and there were dozens of others, Tiger is hands down the most reliable deliverer of the greatest clutch moments you swore you’d ever seen in your life, and purely from a performance standpoint no amount of praise was too much.

Tiger crushed hyperbole, 7 and 6, and did it with a fist pump and a huge smile.  So thinking about how people felt then about Tiger, it’s absolutely mind boggling to fathom how we got to 49 percent. The awkward appearances on Jimmy Fallon's late night show and 'Morning Drive' don’t seem to be helping.  Winning will. Nothing says “he’s got his act together” quite like a victory, shallow as that sounds. The guy who won five times a year now needs one win, any win to pull away from Michael Vick or whoever the next wayward star turns out to be.

With Woods set to go for win No. 7 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, here are some more nuggets from Bay Hill:

  • Johnny Vegas recently played Augusta National in anticipation of his first Masters appearance next month. “Wow,” he said with that easy smile. “Everywhere I turned I kept saying, ‘wow.'”  Johnny’s hoping for a practice round in two weeks with Ben Crenshaw, who could conduct a clinic for first-timers on how to navigate those magnificent and complicated greens.
  • Rocco Mediate is fighting injury again. This time it’s the left elbow, having discovered small tears in the tendon, sustained, he says, during his rousing Fall Series win in San Jose last year. He’s undergone three platelet rich plasma injections over the last three months and feels better. Asked if the moment of impact is painful when he hits a shot, Rocco replied, “No, because I’m not a digger.”
  • Gary Woodland’s got Jack Nicklaus-like thighs, and like the Bear, he loves basketball. Jack averaged 18 points a game in high school and played industrial league hoops well into his 30s. I went to a Phoenix Suns game with Woodland the week of the Waste Management Phoenix Open and Suns executive Harvey Shank was nice enough to open the practice facility for us. Gary stroked NBA threes with ease, his range and touch impressive. When you see an athlete, you know it immediately. Gary’s an athlete, the kind Tiger said Wednesday that, with greater frequency, is choosing golf over other sports, just as Gary did when he walked away from college basketball at Division II Washburn to play golf at Kansas.
  • Andy Bean, 58, is in the field at Bay Hill. “I told Mr. Palmer that if I didn’t have a Champions Tour event, and I don’t this week, I’d come back,” the friendly big man with the biggest hands in the history of the sport said. Bean won here 30 years ago with scores of 68-62-67-69, beating Tom Watson by seven. How does he think he’ll fare now?  “If I drive it well, I’ll be OK,” he said. “But you better drive it well on this course.”
  • Palmer spoke powerfully Wednesday to the slow play issue: “The more people that watch pros take their time and fiddle and fuss around hitting golf shots, the more we are going to see play slowed in the normal ranks on golf courses around the country. And that is something that is of major importance to the future of the game.”
  • Lee Westwood, not at Bay Hill this week but mindful of what’s ahead, spoke powerfully on Tiger: “There’s an old saying that class is permanent and form is fickle. Tiger’s the classiest player I’ve ever played with and I’d be wise enough to know not to write him off.”
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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...

2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.