Looking Back on the PGA TOUR

By Sports NetworkDecember 22, 2006, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)PHILADELPHIA -- The 2006 season saw big wins on the course, some big losses off the course and the usual dramatic and sometimes strange endings.
 
It was a year when the world's No. 1 player, Tiger Woods, lost his father and missed a cut at a major before rebounding with a stunning stretch of golf that saw him win the final two majors of the year.
 
The season also witnessed several first-time winners as well as some veterans reclaiming their cards in different ways. Jeff Maggert (1999) and Corey Pavin (1996) snapped long winless streaks to secure playing privileges for the next two years, while former major champion and television broadcaster Paul Azinger finished inside the top-125 on the money list to earn his card for next year after using his one-time, top-50 all-time money list exemption.
 
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods won eight times on the PGA TOUR in 2006, including his last six starts.
The season got off to a fairly normal start for Tiger Woods with two wins in his first four starts, but that is not what made him the Player of the Year.
 
After earning those two early wins and being unable to come from behind and win the Masters, Woods' biggest loss would come off the course.
 
He lost his father, Earl, to a long battle with cancer after failing to win the Masters. The younger Woods would not be seen on a golf course again until the U.S. Open, but what followed the most difficult loss he has faced to this point in his life was a stunning display of golf.
 
After grieving the loss of his father, Woods returned to the course at the U.S. Open. Maybe he wasn't ready, maybe this, maybe that. Whatever you want to call it, the result still stands. Woods missed the cut for the first time as a professional in a major.
 
Woods was next seen on a golf course at the Western Open, where he has won three times in his career. The 30-year-old posted three rounds in the 60s, but finished two strokes behind first-time winner Trevor Immelman.
 
From that point forward, the rest of the PGA TOUR was left in the dust. Woods ran off six, count 'em six, straight wins.
 
These tournaments did not have watered-down fields. They included the best of the best.
 
In order: He claimed his third British Open by two strokes over Chris DiMarco (whose mother had passed away the week before the championship); won the Buick Open by three over Jim Furyk; cruised to five-shot win over Shaun Micheel at the PGA Championship; bested Stewart Cink in a playoff for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational title; used a Sunday 63 to take down Vijay Singh by two at the Deutsche Bank Championship; and ran away with a six-shot victory over Adam Scott and Ian Poulter at the WGC-American Express Championship.
 
PHEW!!!
So let's recap. That was six wins that: came by an average of over three shots per title; earned him $7,016,480 (which in and of itself would have put him second on the money list); gave him 12 major championship titles and moved his PGA Tour win total to 54.
 
Oh, by the way, he did win the money title with $9,941,563 and had eight total wins in just 15 starts. Not a bad winning percentage for a golfer.
 
Woods says his win streak came to an end with his first-round loss at the HSBC World Match Play Championship on the European Tour, but his PGA streak is still intact.
 
He is more than halfway to Byron Nelson's record of 11 straight wins and has a stellar record at the season-opening events where he normally plays. Who knows what could happen. I surely wouldn't doubt him in his quest for history.
 
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
The Rookie of the Year race was a tight one between Trevor Immelman and Camilo Villegas. The nod here goes to Immelman, mostly due to his win at the Western Open.
 
The South African missed fewer cuts -- five to Villegas' 11 -- had one more top-five finish, four more top-10s and earned over $2.1 million more than the young Colombian.
 
Immelman got off to a really slow start with five missed cuts in his first nine starts. However, he didn't miss a cut the rest of the year. In his final 15 PGA TOUR starts in '06, Immelman finished outside the top 20 just three times.
 
In May, he collected back-to-back second-place finishes, including a playoff loss to Jim Furyk at the Wachovia Championship. Immelman's best finish in a major came at the U.S. Open, where he tied for 21st.
 
He broke into the winners circle in July at the Western Open, an event dominated recently by Tiger Woods. Immelman closed with a four-under 67 to hold off Mathew Goggin and Woods by two strokes.
 
He ended the season as the only rookie in the field at the Tour Championship. Immelman closed with three straight rounds in the 60s to finish in a tie for fifth and earn $266,000, which gave him over $3.8 million for the season, putting him seventh on the money list.
 
Kudos to Villegas for his stellar season as well. He did have four top-five finishes and earned over $1.7 million. That came one year after he played his way onto the Nationwide Tour after beginning the '05 season with no status.
 
SHOT OF THE YEAR
We're going to split this one into good shot of the year and bad shot(s) of the year.
 
The good, okay great, shot of the year was Tiger Woods' hole-out eagle at the British Open. While successfully defending his title at the Open Championship, Woods needed every stroke he could get as he fended off a strong challenge from Chris DiMarco.
 
Woods approached his ball in the 14th fairway at Royal Liverpool with four- iron in hand. He ripped his second shot to the par-4 on the exact line he was targeting.
 
What Woods wouldn't know, as he was unable to see the green, was how perfectly the ball bounced and rolled right toward the hole. The ball tracked the final 15 feet perfectly and dropped into the hole for eagle.
 
'I never saw it. I didn't see the flag,' admitted Woods. 'Just left of the TV towers was where I was aiming. I was trying to hold it on the wind. I hit it pretty good.'
 
The bad shots go to Phil Mickelson. With the U.S. Open in his grasp, Mickelson lost his drive on the 17th hole into a trash can. Good aim, Phil, but the trash can was nowhere near the middle of the fairway.
 
If that wasn't bad enough, Mickelson's tee shot at the 18th bounced off the tents lining the fairway to the left. He then hit a tree with his second shot, which led to a double-bogey that cost him the title and left Mickelson famously saying, 'I'm such an idiot.'
 
Honorable mention for a good shot goes to Chris Couch. Couch, who turned 33 the day after the event, needed a par on the final hole at the Zurich Classic to win by one stroke over Charles Howell III and Fred Funk.
 
Couch found a greenside bunker at the last and had a tough lie. With water over the green, Couch could only advance the ball a few feet into the rough.
 
Using his cross-handed chipping style, Couch chipped his fourth shot into the hole from 55 feet to secure the win. The shot was impressive enough, but it helped Couch complete a comeback that saw him make the cut on the number then rally for the win. He became just the fourth player in PGA TOUR history to make such a comeback and win.
 
TOURNAMENT OF THE YEAR
The aforementioned collapse by Phil Mickelson at the U.S. Open was not the only bad ending at Winged Foot.
 
Winner Geoff Ogilvy chipped in for par on 17, then was in a sand-filled divot on 18 and was able to save par from that as well, closing with a two-over 72 to finish at plus-5.
 
Mickelson's late mistakes cost him as he closed with a 74 to end one behind the Australian. Colin Montgomerie, already a two-time U.S. Open runner-up, was in the fairway at the last.
 
The Scotsman changed clubs for his approach and came up well short of the green in some thick rough. Montgomerie blasted his chip 40 feet from the hole and, three putts later, he was in the clubhouse at 6 over par. That mistake came after he poured in a long birdie putt at the 17th.
 
Oh, yeah, current world No. 2 Jim Furyk also had a shot at winning the title, which would have been his second U.S. Open title. He pushed a seemingly simple par putt at the last and that bogey cost him a shot at a playoff as he shared second with Monty and Mickelson at plus-six.
 
So after all that, Ogilvy walked off with his first major championship win and third PGA Tour title overall.
 
GOOD YEAR
Despite his tough loss at the U.S. Open, it was a stellar year for Jim Furyk. He began the 2006 as the seventh ranked player in the world, but ends it ranked No. 2 behind only Tiger Woods.
 
Furyk was one of five people on the PGA TOUR with two wins this year, while he also posted the most top-5 finishes (12) and tied for the most top-10s (13). Furyk ended the year second on the money list with $7,213,316.
 
Australian Adam Scott capped a spectacular season with a victory at the TOUR Championship. That was his first victory since the 2004 season. Scott ended the season with $4,978,858 and eight top-5 finishes.
 
Though several others collapsed to give him the U.S. Open title, Geoff Ogilvy also won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship en route to finishing fifth on the money list.
 
BAD YEARS
Okay, so he got off to a good start with four top-10s in his first five starts and won two events, including the Masters, but Phil Mickelson's year ended with a thud. After sharing second at the U.S. Open, he played in just five events with his best finish a share of 16th at the PGA Championship. He closed his season by going 0-4-1 at the Ryder Cup, then announced he wouldn't return until 2007. Hope his four-month vacation was fun.
 
Despite being ranked in the top-10 in the world all year, Retief Goosen was unable to collect a PGA TOUR win and posted just five top-5 finishes in 18 starts. He ended second at the Players Championship and tied for third at the Masters, but finished just 18th on the money list.
 
Another player ranked in the top-10 in the world all year who went winless was Ernie Els. He posted just two top-5s, including a third-place finish at the British Open. However, Els finished only 28th on the money list and slid to seventh in the world rankings.
 
It is hard to pick on a guy who made a stunning admission, but it came well after the fact. Steven Bowditch told reporters during PGA TOUR Q-School that he had battled depression throughout the season. That helps explain his missing the cut 13 times, being disqualified four times, withdrawing from three events and making just two cuts all season. Here's hoping he recovers soon and plays well in '07 as he'll be on the PGA TOUR for five events through the minor medical extension.
 
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    Teenager Im wins Web.com season opener

    By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 10:23 pm

    South Korea's Sungjae Im cruised to a four-shot victory at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, becoming just the second teenager to win an event on the Web.com Tour.

    Im started the final day of the season-opening event in a share of the lead but still with six holes left in his third round. He was one shot behind Carlos Ortiz when the final round began, but moved ahead of the former Web.com Player of the Year thanks to a 7-under 65 in rainy and windy conditions. Im's 13-under total left him four clear of Ortiz and five shots ahead of a quartet of players in third.

    Still more than two months shy of his 20th birthday, Im joins Jason Day as the only two teens to win on the developmental circuit. Day was 19 years, 7 months and 26 days old when he captured the 2007 Legend Financial Group Classic.

    Recent PGA Tour winners Si Woo Kim and Patrick Cantlay and former NCAA champ Aaron Wise all won their first Web.com Tour event at age 20.

    Other notable finishes in the event included Max Homa (T-7), Erik Compton (T-13), Curtis Luck (T-13) and Lee McCoy (T-13). The Web.com Tour will remain in the Bahamas for another week, with opening round of The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic set to begin Sunday.

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    Mickelson grouped with Z. Johnson at CareerBuilder

    By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 8:28 pm

    He's not the highest-ranked player in this week's field, but Phil Mickelson will likely draw the biggest crowd at the CareerBuilder Challenge as he makes his first start of 2018. Here are a few early-round, marquee groupings to watch as players battle the three-course rotation in the Californian desert (all times ET):

    12:10 p.m. Thursday, 11:40 a.m. Friday, 1:20 p.m. Saturday: Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson

    Mickelson is making his fourth straight trip to Palm Springs, having cracked the top 25 each of the last three times. In addition to their respective amateur partners, he'll play the first three rounds alongside a fellow Masters champ in Johnson, who tied for 14th last week in Hawaii and finished third in this event in 2014.


    11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson

    At No. 3 in the world, Rahm is the highest-ranked player teeing it up this week and the Spaniard returns to an event where he finished T-34 last year in his tournament debut. He'll play the first two rounds alongside Watson, who is looking to bounce back from a difficult 2016-17 season and failed to crack the top 50 in two starts in the fall.


    11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker

    Reed made the first big splash of his career at this event in 2014, shooting three straight rounds of 63 en route to his maiden victory. He'll be joined by Snedeker, whose bid for a Masters bid via the top 50 of the world rankings came up short last month and who hasn't played this event since a missed cut in 2015.


    1:10 p.m. Thursday, 12:40 p.m. Friday, 12:10 p.m. Saturday: Patton Kizzire, Bill Haas

    Kizzire heads east after a whirlwind Sunday ended with his second win of the season in a six-hole playoff over James Hahn in Honolulu. He'll play alongside Haas, who won this event in both 2010 and 2015 to go with a runner-up finish in 2011 and remains the tournament's all-time leading money winner.

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    Mackay still a caddie at heart, even with a microphone

    By Doug FergusonJanuary 16, 2018, 7:34 pm

    HONOLULU – All it took was one week back on the bag to remind Jim ''Bones'' Mackay what he always loved about being a caddie.

    It just wasn't enough for this to be the ultimate mic drop.

    Mackay traded in his TV microphone at the Sony Open for the 40-pound bag belonging to Justin Thomas.

    It was his first time caddying since he split with Phil Mickelson six months ago. Mackay was only a temporary replacement at Waialae for Jimmy Johnson, a good friend and Thomas' regular caddie who has a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that will keep him in a walking boot for the next month.

    ''The toughest thing about not caddying is missing the competition, not having a dog in the fight,'' Mackay said before the final round. ''There's nothing more rewarding as a caddie, in general terms, when you say, 'I don't like 6-iron, I like 7,' and being right. I miss that part of it.''

    The reward now?

    ''Not stumbling over my words,'' he said. ''And being better than I was the previous week.''

    He has done remarkably well since he started his new job at the British Open last summer, except for that time he momentarily forgot his role. Parts of that famous caddie adage – ''Show up, keep up, shut up'' – apparently can apply to golf analysts on the ground.

    During the early hours of the telecast, before Johnny Miller came on, Justin Leonard was in the booth.

    ''It's my job to report on what I see. It's not my job to ask questions,'' Mackay said. ''I forgot that for a minute.''

    Leonard was part of a booth discussion on how a comfortable pairing can help players trying to win a major. That prompted Mackay to ask Leonard if he found it helpful at the 1997 British Open when he was trying to win his first major and was paired with Fred Couples in the final round at Royal Troon.

    ''What I didn't know is we were going to commercial in six seconds,'' Mackay said. ''I would have no way of knowing that, but I completely hung Justin out to dry. He's now got four seconds to answer my long-winded question.''

    During the commercial break, the next voice Mackay heard belonged to Tommy Roy, the executive golf producer at NBC.

    ''Bones, don't ever do that again.''

    It was Roy who recognized the value experienced caddies could bring to a telecast. That's why he invited Mackay and John Wood, the caddie for Matt Kuchar, into the control room at the 2015 Houston Open so they could see how it all worked and how uncomfortable it can be to hear directions coming through an earpiece.

    Both worked as on-course reporters at Sea Island that fall.

    And when Mickelson and Mackay parted ways after 25 years, Roy scooped up the longtime caddie for TV.

    It's common for players to move into broadcasting. Far more unusual is for a caddie to be part of the mix. Mackay loves his new job. Mostly, he loves how it has helped elevate his profession after so many years of caddies being looked upon more unfavorably than they are now.

    ''I want to be a caddie that's doing TV,'' he said. ''That's what I hope to come across as. The guys think this is good for caddies. And if it's good for caddies, that makes me happy. Because I'm a caddie. I'll always be a caddie.''

    Not next week at Torrey Pines, where Mickelson won three times. Not a week later in Phoenix, where Mackay lives. Both events belong to CBS.

    And not the Masters.

    He hasn't missed Augusta since 1994, when Mickelson broke his leg skiing that winter.

    ''That killed me,'' he said, ''but not nearly as much as it's going to kill me this year. I'll wake up on Thursday of the Masters and I'll be really grumpy. I'll probably avoid television at all costs until the 10th tee Sunday. And I'll watch. But it will be, within reason, the hardest day of my life.''

    There are too many memories, dating to when he was in the gallery right of the 11th green in 1987 when Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman. He caddied for Mize for two years, and then Scott Simpson in 1992, and Mickelson the rest of the way. He was on the bag for Lefty's three green jackets.

    Mackay still doesn't talk much about what led them to part ways, except to say that a player-caddie relationship runs its course.

    ''If you lose that positive dynamic, there's no point in continuing,'' he said. ''It can be gone in six months or a year or five years. In our case, it took 25 years.''

    He says a dozen or so players called when they split up, and the phone call most intriguing was from Roy at NBC.

    ''I thought I'd caddie until I dropped,'' Mackay said.

    He never imagined getting yardages and lining up putts for anyone except the golfer whose bag he was carrying. Now it's for an audience that measures in the millions. Mackay doesn't look at it as a second career. And he won't rule out caddying again.

    ''It will always be tempting,'' he said. ''I'll always consider myself a caddie. Right now, I'm very lucky and grateful to have the job I do.''

    Except for that first week in April.

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    The Social: The end was nigh, then it wasn't

    By Jason CrookJanuary 16, 2018, 7:00 pm

    The star power at the Sony Open may have been overshadowed by a missile scare, but there were plenty of other social media stories that kept the golf world on its toes this week, including some insight on Tiger Woods from a round with President Obama and some failed trick shots.

    All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

    By now you've undoubtedly heard about the false alarm in Hawaii on Saturday, where just about everyone, including most Sony Open participants, woke up to an emergency cell phone alert that there was a ballistic missile heading toward the islands.

    Hawaiian emergency management officials eventually admitted the original message was mistakenly sent out, but before they did, people (understandably) freaked out.

    As the situation unfolded, some Tour pros took to social media to express their confusion and to let the Twittersphere know how they planned on riding out this threat:

    While I would've been in that bathtub under the mattress with John Peterson, his wife, baby and in-laws (wait, how big is this tub?), here's how Justin Thomas reacted to the threat of impending doom:

    Yeah, you heard that right.

    “I was like ‘there’s nothing I can do,'” Thomas said. ”I sat on my couch and opened up the sliding door and watched TV and listened to music. I was like, if it’s my time, it’s my time.”

    Hmmm ... can we just go ahead and award him all the 2018 majors right now? Because if Thomas is staring down death in mid-January, you gotta like the kid's chances on the back nine Sunday at Augusta and beyond.

    Before the Hawaiian Missile Crisis of 2018, things were going about as well as they could at Waialae Country Club, starting with the Wednesday pro-am.

    Jordan Spieth might have been the third-biggest star in his own group, after getting paired with superstar singer/songwriter/actor Nick Jonas and model/actress Kelly Rohrbach.

    You'd be hard-pressed to find a more photogenic group out on the course, and the "Baywatch" star has a gorgeous swing as well, which makes sense, considering she was a former collegiate golfer at Georgetown.

    As impressive as that group was, they were somehow outshined by an amateur in another group, former NFL coach June Jones.

    Jones, who now coaches the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, played his round in bare feet and putted with his 5-iron, a remedy he came up with to battle the yips.

    Former NFL and current CFL coach June Jones: A master of 5-iron putting?

    A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

    Considering he made back-to-back birdies at one point during the day, it's safe to say he's won that battle.

    With Tiger Woods' return to the PGA Tour about a week away, that sound you hear is the hype train motoring full speed down the tracks.

    First, his ex-girlfriend Lindsey Vonn told Sports Illustrated that she hopes this comeback works out for him.

    “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way," the Olympic skiier said. "I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

    Vonn also mentioned she thinks Woods is very stubborn and that he didn't listen to her enough. That really shouldn't shock anyone who watched him win the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg. Don't think there were a lot of people in his ear telling him that was a great idea at the time.

    We also have this report from Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte, stating that the 14-time major champ recently played a round with former president Barack Obama at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., where he received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.

    The Farmers Insurance Open is sure to be must-see TV, but until then, I'm here for all of the rampant speculation and guesses as to how things will go. The more takes the better. Make them extra spicy, please and thanks.

    These poor New Orleans Saints fans. Guess the only thing you can do is throw your 65-inch TV off the balcony and get 'em next year.

    Here's two more just for good measure.

    Farts ... will they ever not be funny?

    Perhaps someday, but that day was not early last week, when Tommy Fleetwood let one rip on his European teammates during EurAsia Cup team photos.

    Fleetwood went 3-0-0 in the event, helping Europe to a victory over Asia, perhaps by distracting his opponents with the aid of his secret weapon.

    Also, how about the diabolical question, "Did you get that?"

    Yeah Tommy, we all got that.

    Ahhh ... golf trick shot videos. You were fun while you lasted.

    But now we’ve officially come to the point in their existence where an unsuccessful attempt is much more entertaining than a properly executed shot, and right on cue, a couple of pros delivered some epic fails.

    We start with Sony Open runner-up James Hahn’s preparation for the event, where for some reason he thought he needed to practice a running, jumping, Happy Gilmore-esque shot from the lip of a bunker. It didn’t exactly work out.

    Not to be outdone, Ladies European Tour pro Carly Booth attempted the juggling-drive-it-out-of-midair shot made famous by the Bryan Bros, and from the looks of things she might have caught it a little close to the hosel.

    PSA to trick-shot artists everywhere: For the sake of the viewing public, if you feel a miss coming on, please make sure the camera is rolling.

    Seriously, though, who cares? Definitely not these guys and gals, who took the time to comment, "who cares?" They definitely do not care.