NICE FOURSOME: Christy O'Connor Sr., Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jose Maria Olazabal and Lanny Wadkins were inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame last Monday. Eisenhower, whose love of the game helped dramatically increase golf participation during his presidency, became the first U.S. President to become a member of the Hall of Fame.
There are a lot of intriguing names on the PGA Tour and International ballots who are still waiting for the requisite number of votes, but none more so than Colin Montgomerie. Monty has 31 European Tour wins, eight Order of Merit crowns [including seven in a row] and a 20-9-7 career Ryder Cup record. Yet he never won a major or a PGA Tour event. With the open-door policy that the WGHF seems to have, Montgomerie will one day be enshrined. But he wouldn't get my vote. In today's game, in which money and modernization have made cross-continental travel much, much easier, you can't be a Hall of Fame member when fellow countryman Martin Laird has as many major championships as you and one more Tour title.
AAAAYYYYY!: Phil Mickelson won the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, China by one shot over Ernie Els. Mickelson started the final round with a two-stroke advantage over Tiger Woods and finished five shots clear of the world's No. 1.
Mickelson, who usually hibernates after the PGA Championship, has now won the Tour Championship and this event. Considering the year he and his family have had [wife and mother diagnosed with breast cancer], these have to be two of his most fulfilling non-major victories. We likely won't see him in action again until the Buick Invitational in February, 2010. We hope it is a positive next three months for the Mickelson clan.
UNFORGIVING FINISH: Woods finished the HSBC Champions in a tie for sixth, five back of Mickelson. Woods started the final round trailing Mickelson by two but could only muster an even-par 72. He missed a 4-foot birdie on the second hole, a 10-footer for birdie on the third, and then knocked his tee shot into the water on No. 4 en route to a double bogey.
Woods is like Eastwood. Clint was a total badass for years and then he started making movies with orangutans. Woods is in his orangutan phase. He's still a tough guy; he's just not intimidating right now. Eastwood became a badass again and so will Woods. It's just a matter of time before William Munny shows up on a golf course.
EVERYWHERE THE SIGNS: Along with a world-class field, Woods had to battle incessant camera clicks and phone rings during the HSBC Champions. One man, described as 'beer-soaked' was escorted off the course Saturday after he wouldn't stop screaming 'Tiger!' Another spectator was 'manhandled' by security – according to the Associated Press – after a camera clicked on Woods' tee shot at the seventh Sunday.
Here's what should happen: people should be allowed to bring cameras and cell phones to events for photos or in case an emergency arises. They should be allowed to take snap-shots when players are walking or waiting. But if a phone rings or a camera clicks during a shot, the offender should be severely punished. Like having to interview Vijay Singh.
ALMOST PERFECT: Ernie Els finished runner-up at the HSBC Champions, shooting a course record-tying 9-under 63 in the final round. Els was seven shots back of Mickelson and manged to grab a one-stroke lead at the par-5 18th. He then 'duffed' a 5-wood into the greenside pond and made bogey.
Els said he was pleased with his performance, but dropping balls into the drink while in contention has become an all-too-familiar ending for the South African. Being an Els fan must be like watching 'Old Yeller' over and over again, each time thinking the dog isn't going to get shot.
THE UNUSUAL SUSPECT: The PGA Tour announced last Monday that it was suspending Doug Barron for one year due to a violation of their Anti-Doping policy. Neither the Tour nor Barron would state what the infraction was. Barron, who is the first person to run afoul of the policy, played in only four tournaments on the Nationwide Tour and one event on the PGA Tour in 2009, failing to make a cut.
The Tour is Skull and Bones secretive when it comes to players breaking rules. They won't even let the public know when a player has been fined for using foul language. But this isn't a minor infraction. The people who watch this game, support this game and pay money to attend this game deserve to know this kind of major information.
SHARK BITES OPEN: Greg Norman withdrew from the Australian Open, which takes place the first week of December. Norman cited a slower-than-expected recover from his shoulder surgery. The loss hit tournament organizers hard due to the fact that Tiger Woods' Chevron World Challenge and the Nedbank Challenge will be contested at the same time.
Twenty-eight of the top 32 players in the world are scheduled to compete in either Tiger's event or the Nedbank, including Australian Open defending champion Tim Clark and Aussie Robert Allenby [both Nedbank]. The Open does have Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott and John Daly, but even this late in the year it will have a difficult time getting publicity in the shadows of two limited and lucrative events.
NOT-SO BLUE BAE-YOU: Bo Bae Song captured the Mizuno Classic in Shima, Japan for her first LPGA victory. The 23-year-old South Korean overcame a bout of nerves to finish three shots clear of Lorena Ochoa, Brittany Lang and Hee Young Park. Song is the eighth different South Korean winner on tour this season.
Half of the 26 events played thus far in 2009 have been won by Asian-born players. Americans, on the other hand, have claimed four titles by four different women [Angela Stanford, Pat Hurst, Cristie Kerr and Brittany Lincicome]. Two events remain on the calendar. Jiyai Shin still tops the money list and the Player of the Year rankings. She is, by the way, from South Korea.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Ryan Moore signed a deal with Scratch Golf to not only use their clubs but become a part owner of the company. ... Paul Casey pulled out of the HSBC Champions Sunday on the fourth hole due to aggravating a previous rib injury. ... Stuart Appleby decided to compete in his homeland's Australian Masters instead of the Children's Miracle Network Classic near his Isleworth home in Florida.
Moore has been purposely logo-free recently and he continues to do things his own way. ... That should all but end any chance Casey had of winning the Race to Dubai bonus pool. ... Appleby will lose full exempt status on the PGA Tour for the first time since his rookie year.