Hooks Cuts from Doral

By Rich LernerMarch 12, 2009, 4:00 pm
  • Ran into Rory McIlroy in the lobby at Doral. I asked him if he'd played much with countryman Darren Clarke. 'Matter of fact I just played a practice round with him,' he said. 'He took a little money off me. Clarkey's a pretty good player on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.' We knew this kid can hit some shots, but I didn't know he was this good!
  • Robert Karlsson's paired with Tiger the first two days along with Mike Weir. Karlsson played with Tiger Saturday at The U.S. Open. 'Freaky,' explained Karlsson. 'I just knew he was going to make the putt at 13, and at 18 as that putt reached the crest I turned to my caddie and said, 'get ready for the roar because this one's going too.''
  • Last year K.J. Choi told Y.E. Yang that he'd never win in America with his radically strong grip. Choi told Yang that it might continue to work in Asia with slower greens, but that on the PGA Tour you need to hit high, soft long irons into firmer greens. Yang went cold turkey to an orthodox grip in August, moving his right hand about 30% and left hand15% towards a more neutral position. After hitting rock bottom Yang went to Orlando swing coach Brian Mogg and began putting his game back together with the new grip. You know what happened last week.
  • Spent Wednesday with Greg Norman and Chris Evert for a future story. Norman's taken up tennis in the last two years and is already very good, holding his own with the 18-time Grand Slam champion on the other side of the net. When they were finished, I said to Greg, 'Hey you're pretty good and you have a fairly good teacher as well.' With his arm around Chrissy he cracked, 'Not only do I have a great instructor, but I get to sleep with her when the lesson's over!'
  • These numbers just blow me away. Tiger's won 27 percent of the starts in his career. Vijay's won eight percent, Phil nine and if you win five percent for your career you're likely in the Hall of Fame. John Hawkins and I were trying to put perspective to it on Tuesday. 'That's like hitting what in baseball, Hawk, and I'm talking lifetime?' Hawk's unscientific reply, 'I don't know it's close to .500, it's ridiculous.'
  • McIlroy's not only loose, but grounded as well. He told me he's not going to over-reach with sponsors even though he's red hot. 'There'll be plenty of time for all that,' he said. 'Right now I just want to concentrate on golf. I have a house, a car and enough money.'
  • Steve Bann, the Aussie coach who works with KJ and Stuart Appelby, gave Geoff Ogilvy his first lesson when Geoff was 13. Of Ogilvy's famously placid demeanor, Bann explained that Ogilvy's worked hard to quell the rage which used to throw him off. 'I'm not saying it's manufactured, but Geoff knows he has to stay in that calm space with the slow walk or the beast will come out.'
  • Greg and Chris are trying hard to go to Augusta with very reasonable expectations. Making the cut, not making Hollywood fantasy, seems to be the goal for now.
  • Karlsson says he tries not to watch Tiger swing when they're paired. 'It can affect my own rhtyhym and tempo,' he said.
  • Bann believes Ogivly will win four to five majors, believing his game is especially well suited for the Masters. 'Hits high, long irons and is a silky putter, perfect for fast, slopy greens. He grew up at Victoria Golf Club in Australia right across the street from Royal Melbourne, so he's comfortable on greens running 13 on the stimp(meter).'
  • No one's really buying Sergio as number one, though he'll be just that should he win and Tiger finish 27th or worse. That said, Sergio could make a compelling case that he's ready to challenge by beating Tiger in a stretch-run duel similar to the one we saw between Tiger and Phil here in 2005.
  • Karlsson on why Tiger's the best: 'His short game plus his speed and power.' On the second point, Karlsson offered an anecdote from his 2006 singles match at The Ryder Cup against Tiger, won by Tiger. 'He was on the other side of the hole in some deep rough more than 200 yards from the green. I looked up and saw he had a high iron. I told my caddie he must be laying up. And then I saw him take this incredible swing ' hard and fast. He knocked it on. Those are the shots that really only he can play.'

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  • Thompson wins Race, loses tournament after short miss

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 8:52 pm

    The drama went down to the very last hole in the LPGA's final event of 2017. Here's how things ended up at the CME Group Tour Championship, where a surprising miss from Lexi Thompson opened the door for Ariya Jutanugarn to win in dramatic fashion:

    Leaderboard: Ariya Jutanugarn (-15), Lexi Thompson (-14), Jessica Korda (-14), Pernilla Lindberg (-13), Eun-Hee Ji (-13)

    What it means: There were scenarios aplenty entering the final round, with nearly every season-long accolade still hanging in the balance. Thompson appeared set to take them all as she sized up a 2-foot par putt on the final hole - a stroke that looked like it would take her to world No. 1 for the first time. Instead, the putt barely touched the hole and allowed Jutanugarn to rally to victory with birdies on the closing two holes. Thompson still took home $1 million for winning the season-long Race to the CME Globe, as it was a reverse scenario from last year when Jutanugarn won the $1 million but not the final tournament.

    Round of the day: Sei Young Kim made the day's biggest charge, turning in a 6-under 66 to close the week in a share of 11th at 10 under. Kim made eight birdies during the final round, including five over her first eight holes en route to her lowest round of the week while erasing a third-round 75.

    Best of the rest: Jutanugarn seemed like an afterthought as the tournament was winding down, but she kept her hopes alive with an 18-foot birdie on No. 17 and then capitalized on Thompson's mistake with a clutch birdie on the difficult final hole. It capped off a final-round 67 for the Thai who now ends what what has been a tumultuous season with a smile on her face.

    Biggest disappointment: Thompson faced heartbreak after the penalty-shrouded ANA Inspiration, and she again must handle a setback after essentially missing a tap-in with everything on the line. Thompson can enjoy a $1 million consolation prize along with the Vare Trophy, but a tournament win would have clinched Player of the Year honors as well as her first-ever trip to world No. 1. Instead, she now has the entire off-season to think about how things went awry from close range.

    Shot of the day: There were only three birdies on No. 18 during the final round before Jutanugarn laced one down the fairway and hit a deft approach to 15 feet. The subsequent putt found the target and gave her win No. 7 on her young LPGA career.

    Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

    He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

    Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

    Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

    Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

    Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

    "I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

    The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

    Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

    "I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

    McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

    When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

    Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

    Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

    While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

    Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.