Shag Bag Blog February

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Welcome to the Shag Bag, where the GolfChannel.com team and Golf Channel talent will regularly file thoughts and opinions from around the world of golf.
 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' The 2009 finals of the WGC-Match Play is starting to look a lot like the 2008 finale.
 
Tiger Woods ran over Stewart Cink last year using a 'four-corners defense,' Cink said.
 
Cink, a hockey guy, was referring to a type of NHL prevent defense. With a 4-up lead through 25 holes, Ogilvy has his best free-throw shooters in the game.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted March 1, 4:05 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Interesting statistical anomaly came up this morning. The loser of the Stewart Cink-Ross Fisher consolation match will be the only player to have lost two matches this week. All of which could lead to a dicey moment with the grandkids someday: Grandpa, what did you do doing the WGC-Accenture Match Play? Tough answer: I lost . . . twice.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted March 1, 1:03 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Sundays all-Whisper Rock final, the Scottsdale, Ariz., club where Geoff Ogilvy and Paul Casey are members, promises to be a must-see event in the posh clubs 19th hole, dubbed The Hang.
 
The two finalist made a scouting trip together up to Dove Mountain earlier this month and can frequently be found on the Whisper Rock practice range when they arent on Tour.
 
Hank Gardner, the clubs director of instruction, said Casey spends more time on the range practicing full swings with coach Peter Kostis, who is also a Whisper Rock member, while Ogilvy can be found most days practicing his short game on the clubs slick greens and tight chipping areas. It seems the short-game work has paid off this week, as the Australian has hit just 60 percent of his greens in regulation.
 
The duo also seem more at home on the desert course, which can be difficult to adjust to because of its elevation.
 
They have a chance to play a lot of desert courses which gives them a little bit of an advantage, Gardner said.
 
The good news for The Hang crew: the WGC-Match Play title is coming home to Whisper Rock either way.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 28, 8:28 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Don't tell the Shag Bag golf isn't a sport and PGA Tour players aren't athletes. It's 80something degrees going on 100 in the hilly desert and it is no coincidence the four semifinalist are some of the circuit's best conditioned players. Still, it's easy to see why so many putts are coming up short. For runners this is called hitting the wall.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 28, 5:35 p.m. ET

 

 
Here's maybe more than you wanted to know about that new putter Stewart Cink has in his bag. (Hey, it's working ' he's in the semifinals of the WGC-Accenture Match Play for the second straight year.) The company brand is 'Yes.' The putter has grooves on its face. It's 46 inches long and the model is called 'Lizzy,' after German women touring pro Elisabeth Esterl. It's a mallet head forged from 303 steel. It's a toe-down balanced model with a half shaft width of offset and a ski pole shaft that has internal weighting. It's available in five different hosels. ... Man, technology is some amazing stuff, ain't it?
 
' Brian Hewitt
Posted Feb. 28, 3:01 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' The all-England semifinal got off to a predictable start, with Paul Casey and Ross Fisher sharing a laugh and extended conversation on the putting green before their match.
 
There promises to be more chitchat for Fisher in his p.m. duel after going the distance with sometimes stoic Justin Leonard in the morning.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 28, 2:46 p.m. ET

 

 
And, yes, there's more on that 'He's Back' sunshine, lollipops and rainbows Nike TV ad featuring Tiger Woods and a cast of many. As Rex wrote the commerical was shot at Colonial Country Club, site of the Crowne Plaza Invitational. Tournament director Peter Ripa points out that the man wearing the plaid jacket and handing the trophy to Stewart Cink is former great Australian golfer Bruce Devlin. Devlin's son, Kel, is the Global Sports Marketing Director for Nike Golf. The image in the framed picture is of Marvin Leonard, the man who founded Colonial.
 
' Brian Hewitt
Posted Feb. 28, 2:39 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Despite the weeks fevered pitch, we managed to slip away for a quick round at The Gallerys South Course, site of the 2007 and 08 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.
 
Just a thought, but if the tournament was played on The Gallerys slick putting surfaces instead of the Ritz-Carlton Golf Clubs slightly sluggish greens theres a good chance Tiger Woods would still be making his way through the Arizona desert.
 
The Souths rugged out-and-back routing, a disadvantage when the layout hosted the Match Play because of the difficulty moving galleries around, makes for a peaceful, secluded round, even with a World Golf Championship in play right next door.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 28, 2:05 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' A new TV spot featuring Justin Leonard and Stewart Cink, among others, is on a regular loop during this weeks WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship telecast. The ad suggests the good times are over now that Tiger Woods has returned to the PGA Tour.
 
The commercial was shot at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, in November and according to sources featured as many laughs off-camera as there were when the on air light was lit. Reaction to the spot has been overwhelmingly positive.
 
E-mails here and there, nice playing, great commercial, Leonard said following his third-round victory Friday. You know, I played nicely, but its an unbelievable commercial.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 28, 11:48 a.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Not that we expect the masses to tune into Shag Bag for all things Rules of Golf related ' that, of course, will be our sister blog, By the Book, which is coming to this space soon ' but a clarification is in order.
 
There was some debate earlier in the week whether a player who was, for example, 3 up with three holes to play could be considered dormie. During a team competition, like the Ryder and Presidents cups, matches can be tied and thus a player could be dormie. But at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship there are no ties, just extra holes until a winner is decided.
 
We asked a long-time rules official, who asked not to be identified, who said a player, according to the Rules of Golf, can be dormie in this format. However, the official did say it was a point of contention among rules officials because, you never know how many holes are remaining, he said.
 
We dont mind the dormie rule, as long we dont use the T word ' ties.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 27, 6:55 p.m. ET

 

 
Luke Donald, who missed a great deal of 2008 due to a wrist injury, reaggravated the same wrist Friday. He told playing competitor Ernie Els, on the 18th tee, that he could no longer continue. Donald was 1 down at the time, but since he said he was conceding the match and not the hole, the official result was Els by concession instead of Els, 2 up.
 
It's a shame, really. Donald played only once last year after withdrawing from the U.S. Open, but was beginning to regain his form, with back-to-back top-10s entering this event.
 
' Mercer Baggs
Posted Feb. 27, 5:01 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Officials threw players a curve ball in Round 3, moving the tee up 102 yards at the par-5 11th, shortening the hole to about 550 yards.
 
Jim Furyk's caddie Fluff Cowan had to pace off the distance for his man Jim Furyk, delaying the match about five minutes.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 27, 3:26 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' This cant sit well with Corey Pavin. The next U.S. Ryder Cup captain has his hands full south of the border at the Mayakoba Golf Classic, where he was tied for seventh early in Round 2, but if he takes a moment to check the proceedings at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship he cant like what he sees.
 
Early in Round 3 at Dove Mountain European Ryder Cup stars in waiting Ross Fisher and Oliver Wilson are both in control of their matches against American stalwarts Jim Furyk and Justin Leonard, respectively.
 
Wilson is all square with Leonard through seven and Fisher is 3 up through eight versus Furyk. Of course, 2010 European skipper Colin Montgomerie is probably riding high.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 27, 2:58 p.m. ET

 

 
Cink makes a 20-footer on nine to go back to 2 up. Bourbon. Double.
 
' Mercer Baggs
Posted Feb. 27, 2:54 p.m. ET

 

 
Phil Mickelson was 3 down through four holes, but is now only 1 down after eight. If I'm a Golf Channel or NBC executive hoping Mickelson's presence will add some extra eyes ' especially in Tiger's absence ' over the weekend, I don't think I'm even going to watch this match. Not without some bourbon.
 
' Mercer Baggs
Posted Feb. 27, 2:46 p.m. ET

 

 
As I wrestle to come to terms with the tragedy that transpired in the desert yesterday and figure out how I will cope with the Tiger-less weekend that looms, I am consoled by only three things: Sunshine and Lollipops and Rainbows. Yep. If not for the new Nike ad, called the 'Good Life,' playing inside my TV set, I'd be ACL-deep in a bottle of whiskey and my own tears.
 
Hyperbole aside, though, had that Lesley Gore song come on the 'ol XM, say, last week, I would have immediately turned it to something less obnoxious, like Disney Radio. But now that I've been exposed to the addictive little diddy within that fun Tiger Woods commercial with other Nike golfers (including a hilarious and succinct performance by Carl Pettersson at the end), I just cannot stop singing it. In the car, in the shower, at church... And every single time I hum it, it makes me giggle and think of golf. I guess that Ivan Pavlov fellow was onto something. Maybe the term here is Pavlov's Tiger?
 
' Dena Davis
Posted Feb. 27, 2:10 p.m. ET

 

 
We dont have a Tiger countdown clock anymore, but we're only 15 minutes away from Tim Clark vs. Rory McIlroy. Whoo-Hoo! No offense to Clark, but it would have been great fun to watch Tiger face off with the 19-year-old Northern Irishman (Irishyoungman?). Now I just hope McIlroy plays in a headband to accent his afro.
 
' Mercer Baggs
Posted Feb. 27, 1:22 p.m. ET

 

 
Rex must feel like Burgess Meredith in the famous 'Twilight Zone' episode, 'Time Enough at Last.' Except instead of being alone with library of books, he has some world class players to watch ' if not by himself, at least without all the golf media posers.
 
' Mercer Baggs
Posted Feb. 27, 12:26 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' We don't want to say the air was sucked out of the WGC-Match Play Championship when Tiger Woods went down in Round 2, but we showed up at the press center on Friday morning to a half empty ' or half full depending on your outlook ' parking lot.
 
We'll miss 'you know who,' but Phil, Ernie, Camilo and Co. are not bad consolation prizes.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 27, 10:57 a.m. ET

 


 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Tiger Woods met reporters for a post-round interview near the Dove Mountain clubhouse shortly after his 4-and-2 defeat to Tim Clark.
 
He was asked ad nauseam about his knee and asked his thoughts on the week and the return. Then Woods was asked, Where do you go from here.
 
The witty response: Go to the airport.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 26, 7:14 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Hilarious moment in the Tim Clark press conference.
 
He was asked if he thought that Tiger Woods game was all the way back to form, or if he thought that Woods still has some work to do.
 
I would hate to comment on that, Clark said. I dont want to get him angry for next time I play him. So I'm going to leave that one alone.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 26, 6:10 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Tim Clark had the perfect game plan against Tiger Woods.
 
The South African is meeting with the press right now and said that his strategy was to not try too hard. Sounds crazy, but it makes perfect sense. Clark thinks that when people play against Woods that they try to hard, and thus, usually arent too successful.
 
Worked well, and now Clark is moving on.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 26, 6:08 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Travel agents' phones must be ringing off the hook now as the media members here try to find out how much the next flight home will cost.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 26, 5:51 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' It's over. The return is over.
 
Tiger just couldn't handle the pressure Clark put on him down the stretch. The scrappy grinder takes out the world's No. 1, 4-and-2.
 
Tiger missed the last six greens and said he hit the ball wonderfully. Ok then.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 26, 5:45 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Hate to re-blog the obvious, but give kudos to Tour types for setting up the 15th hole as a drivable par 4.
 
Talk about theater, Tiger Woods is 2 down, goes after the green with his driver and sails his tee shot out of bounds. Woods reloads and muscles his third shot to 15 feet. Win or lose, that's good television.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 26, 5:29 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' I was writing a blog entry on how the gallery here at Dove Mountain is too subdued and needs to cheer more for good shots.
 
When Clark hit his approach on No. 12 there was little fanfare. When Clark hit a great approach on the 14th to 30 feet from a nasty spot in the rough, little noise.
 
Then Tiger holed out from the bunker five minutes later and the place came unglued.
 
Still, as cool as it was, a Masters birdie roar has topped just about anything I've heard here all week
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 26, 5:15 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' The air didn't go out of the sub-prime market this fast. Tiger Woods faded two holes behind Tim Clark early into the back nine and the Arizona masses went silent. Even after Woods hammered a drive at the 13th, the sixth man was hushed.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 26, 4:52 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Tiger Woods' chip at the 11th hole raced 35 feet past for a sloppy bogey but one suspects it was a lack of knowledge more so than a wanting touch that cost the world No. 1.
 
During his quiet recovery from knee surgery Woods said he focused on his short game and around the greens he's been solid this week.
 
It's the speed of the greens that has thrown him, however. Because the putting surfaces have so many humps and swales officials have had to keep the speed at a managable pace. For a player who prepared for the Match Play on the slick Isleworth putting surfaces it has been an adjustment.
 
'They are the slowest I've ever seen on Tour,' Woods said Wednesday.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 26, 4:40 p.m. ET

 

 
Have to hand it to Clark, he's a little bulldog. In fact, he's getting a little love from the gallery with occassional cheers for 'Timmy.'
 
Clark builds upon his momentum with a laser to 6 feet on 12 then Tiger hit what may have been the worst shot he's hit all week. It certainly was in the top 3.
 
Clark converted for birdie 3 and is 2 up. Its getting interesting.
 
Tiger was at least one full club short of the green and about 50 feet right of the pin, leaving himself with a nasty pitch shot.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 26, 4:45 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Woods and Clark were downright chatty as they walked from the 10th tee to the fairway. You don't usually see much of that with Tiger in a match play event, especially in a match as hotly contested as this one. Brendan Jones said Wednesday that Tiger only spoke to him when Jones initiated the conversation.
 
After two approach shots, however, there wasn't any chatter as they walked toward the green to get down to business.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 26, 4:15 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' So much has been made of Tim Clark's distance disadvantage against Tiger Woods but the rolling Dove Mountain layout seems to have neutralized some of Woods' power.
Through nine holes Clark has outdriven Woods four times.
 
It must be noted Woods hit just two drivers on the front nine, at the second and fifth holes.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 26, 4:01 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' The eighth hole was big for Tiger yesterday (Wednesday) when he got up and down for birdie against Brendan Jones.
 
It was big again today because he got up and down for a birdie. But this time it was only for a halve.
 
Seriously. Clark's short game is so good. How has this guy not won a tour event?
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 26, 3:49 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' A Tiger Woods with momentum heading into a long par 5? Yikes.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 26, 3:34 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Tim Clark scrambled for par and took the lead at the sixth hole. It's the first time since early in his round-four match last year against K.J. Choi that Woods has trailed.
 
It didn't last long. Woods made things right in the golf universe with a 9-foot birdie at the next hole. In baseball terms, this is a pitchers' duel.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 26, 3:32 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' I was standing directly behind the tee box and both Clark and Woods hit lasers that appeared heading straight for the pin. Both players loved their shots at impact but both were disappointed in the result.
 
Clark hit the green and bounced over the back, Woods found a nasty fried egg in the large front bunker.
 
Clark got up and down and Woods didn't. Yeah, Tiger's shortgame is great but Clark's isn't exactly chopped liver. The scrappy South African came to play and he isn't going anywhere soon.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 26, 3:16 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' The tee is back for the second consecutive day on the par 4 fourth hole and Tiger found the bunker in the middle of the fairway. Tim Clark took advantage for the moment by hitting his approach close but couldn't capitalize on the birdie.
 
Tiger warned us Tuesday that his short game was better than ever and his up and down from a tricky spot certainly supports his claim.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 26, 2:55 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Tiger Woods wins the second hole, reaching the par 5 in two shots, which prompted some interesting commentary.
 
'Guys like Tim Clark playing Tiger Woods on a par 5 almost seems unfair,' said John Maginnes on XM Radio.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 26, 2:40 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' A plane was the only noise as Tiger Woods putted out on the first hole. The plane was pulling a banner that read, 'Welcome back Tiger.'
 
I'm guessing Hallmark doesn't have a card for this occasion.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 26, 2:25 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Tiger Woods starts Day 2 of the new ACL era like he did Day 1 ' hitting fairway wood from the first tee.
 
For the second consecutive day Woods hit the right side of the fairway, 15 yards behind Tim Clark. For one of the shorter hitters on Tour, it was a victory to hit second from the fairway.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 26, 2:13 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Seems everyone ' short of perhaps only Brendan Jones and Tim Clark ' is happy to welcome Tiger Woods back to the PGA Tour.
 
About an hour before Woods second-round match with Clark, the world No. 1 was settling into a spot on the Dove Mountain practice range near Jim Furyk and his caddie Fluff Cowan. Woods first looper when he turned pro, who was let go in the late 1990s, greeted Tiger. The two traded a joke and laugh before Woods got to work with his wedges.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 26, 1:10 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' On Day 1 there were 31 matches that not many people watched and now here on Day 2 there are 15 matches that arent likely to gain much attention.
 
Following right behind the marquee matchup between Tiger Woods and Tim Clark (at 2:02 p.m. ET) will be youngsters Rory McIlroy and Hunter Mahan. Using a little fun with numbers: The combined ages of McIlroy (19) and Mahan (26) is less than Vijay Singh, who turned 46 Sunday, and won his first match Wednesday, 2 and 1, over Soren Kjeldsen.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 26, 11:25 a.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' The Davis Love III-Justin Leonard second-round match at 11:55 a.m. ET should be of interest to the avid golf historian.
 
Love and Leonard teamed together against Colin Montgomerie and Paul Lawrie for a Saturday afternoon fourball match at the 1999 Ryder Cup at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass. That they teamed wasnt of great significance, but the result was. Love and Leonard halved the match, which was the only points the U.S. earned in the entire afternoon session before heading into Sunday singles in a huge deficit.
 
The rest is history. The Americans won 8 of 12 possible points on Sunday to capture the Ryder Cup for the first time since 1993.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 26, 9:40 a.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Brendan Jones said he was more nervous in his Monday interview with the press than he was Wednesday on the first tee in his match against Tiger Woods.
 
Then, after he hit his first tee shot, he went from excited to angry.
 
As I walked off the first hole I heard one of the media there say another nine holes to go for a 10-and-8 (victory), Jones said. Then (Tiger) eagles the second and I thought, well, maybe hes right.
 
It annoyed me a little bit, but I quickly got over that. Once I halved the third hole, I thought, well, theres no 10-and-8 now.'
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 25, 8:14 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Tiger Woods said Tuesday that the greens here at the Ritz Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain were difficult to figure out.
 
Following Wednesdays 3-and-2 victory over Brendan Jones, Woods expanded on that statement saying that hes never played in a Tour event with greens that slow. But he followed by saying that hes also never played in a Tour event with greens with as much undulation as these.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 25, 6:40 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Being the best player of your generation, or perhaps ever, is like riding a bike, I suppose. After Tiger Woods finished off scrappy Brendan Jones, he said that getting off to a quick start, birdie-eagle, was key, but it was better than he expected.
 
'If felt like nothing had changed,' Woods said. 'I thought I'd be more nervous on the first tee.'
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 25, 6:36 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' The putter went in the air two holes earlier, but the victory wasn't official for another hole.
 
Brendan Jones sailed his drive right at the 15th and his short week at Dove Mountain was over.
 
For Woods, his 3-and-2 victory proved that one major surgery and eight months of professional hibernation did little to dull his competitive edge ' or his game.
 
Turns out the world No. 1 is better with two good ACLs.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 25, 6:13 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Good golf course setup. Officials moved the tee forward at the 15th to encourage aggressive play. Woods two putts for birdie and Jones rolls in an 8-foot eagle putt to extend the match.
 
Drivable par 4s, a recipe for excitement.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 25, 6:02 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' For the second time today the inevitable has been delayed. Woods and Jones caught the group ahead of them, Robert Allenby and Ross Fisher, at the 15th.
 
During the wait Woods found a shady spot and unlaced his shoes. Jones paced nervously. We wonder if he battled the urge to call his travel agent. Four down with four holes to play, not even a salmon can swim up that stream.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 25, 5:43 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Get ready boys and girls. This thing about to be over.
 
With Tiger in the fairway and Jones well right it'd be a stretch to think this match will make it to the 15th.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 25, 5:22 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Just behind the day's top card was the anonymous group of Tim Clark and Retief Goosen. One half-imagines that as the two grind away in the desert, they have to be wondering, to what end?
 
The winner of the all-South African will face Tiger Woods on Day 2 if the script holds. Some victories are less exciting than others.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 25, 5:12 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Fun fact of the day: Brendan Jones now has more free drops (Nos. 11, 12) than he has birdies (No. 2).
 
That can't ever be good.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 25, 5:00 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' A touching scene when Stevie Williams and a photographer had a special moment on the 11th fairway. (Williams and camera owners have a long nasty history, in case you've been in hiding with J.D. Salinger for a decade.)
 
After Tiger hit his second shot from the right fairway bunker on the 11th, Williams got the closest photographer's attention and politely asked him if he'd throw him the rake from the other side of the bunker.
 
The photog obliged and Williams said, 'Thanks mate.'
 
How sweet.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 25, 4:41 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Statistical certainties in life and golf:
 
-No one has ever won a major championship using a long putter.
-No one has ever cleaned up in Vegas holding on 17.
-No one has ever won a major championship without a driver in his bag, including Phil Mickelson.
-And no one wielding a long putter has evoked fear in Tiger Woods.
 
Brendan Jones has missed too many 5-footers to think he can take down a legend.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 25, 4:39 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' The ebb and flow of match play was evident on the 10th when Tiger hit a fairway wood off the tee for the seventh time. It's clear from that strategy that he is easing back into his comfort zone.
 
While this may work against Brendan Jones, it may not work once Tiger faces some of the heavier hitters.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 25, 4:28 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Brendan Jones is starting to look more and more like Nick O'Hern on every hole. Although he remains 2 down at the turn, the longer he hangs around, the longer he has to drop a bomb on the world No. 1.
 
Our records department is checking into it, but rumor is Jones' mother's maiden name is O'Brien. Woods' kryptonite is Aussie journeymen with Irish surnames.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 25, 4:19 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' I was about to write about how boring this match was becoming...
 
The gallery was subdued and both Woods and Jones hadn't exactly been playing great. Then, with Jones in with 5 on the par 5 eighth, Tiger made birdie from six feet to ramp up the energy of the locals.
 
The Main Attraction is now 2 up and has the match well under control. Although we are still waiting for that first 'Tiger Moment.'
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 25, 3:58 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' The leader in the clubhouse for 'understatement of the day' goes to swing coach Hank Haney who is trailing his most famous pupil from the other side of the ropes.
 
Asked what he thought of his man's comeback Haney smiled, 'He looks good.'
 
No offense, but the Red Sox starting rotation looks good. After eight months off, Woods looks great.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 25, 3:40 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' The Aussie missed his best opportunity to win a hole. One down would have looked a whole lot better than 2 down.
 
Still, Jones is scrappy and starting to settle down and hit some better shots. The key par save on No. 5 and the great tee shot on the par 3 sixth have proved that he has some game.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 25, 3:28 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Fifth hole and Tiger Woods fails to find his first fairway. Biggest difference between Tuesday Woods and Wednesday Woods? The intensity.
 
Today his swing looks powerful and aggressive. That's bad news if your an Aussie journeyman armed with a slingshot.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 25, 3:15 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' The tee at the par 4 fourth is set way back today, meaning there is no chance of getting near the green.
 
Jones hit his tee shot well right and scrambled to make an impressive par save. Woods made a 3- footer to halve the hole.
 
If there is such a thing as a positive for Jones this may be it. Maybe. In reality, though, there is nothing positive about being 2 down to Eldrick after four holes.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 25, 3:01 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Arizona fans don't have that New York edge but they can be a tough crowd. Among some of the notable comments:
 
- 'Hey Stevie, Phil said hello.'
- 'Way to hang in there Brendan!' (He's 2 down through two holes).
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 25, 2:47 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Yeah it's early but this thing could get out of control early. Tiger is steady, Jones is not.
 
In fact, Jones' caddie is a little uneasy, as well. Through two holes he's yelled at the gallery to settle down before his man hits. Sure that's his job but it pays not to have rabbit ears when playing against Tiger.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 25, 2:40 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' See blog entry below about Tiger being 2 up.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 25, 2:37 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' A fellow member of the media standing beside me just got attacked by a jumping cactus. He was near it off the second fairway when it jumped out and stuck him in the arm and leg. He received assistance in getting them pulled out of his limbs, but not by yours truly, and then continued on.
 
Who says reporters aren't tough?
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 25, 2:35 p.m. ET

 

 
Let me give you the view from the Golf Channel newsroom when Tiger teed off: A moment of silence ' an implication that one of the more wagering-minded on the staff made money on Tigers initial back-off and restart of the pre-swing routine. Then impact, and a whole bunch of yelling until the ball came to rest in the fairway.
 
' Adam Barr
Posted Feb. 25, 2:31 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Momentum is always key. Tiger's first birdie in eight months echoes around Dove Mountain and rattles Brendan Jones, if not the entire field.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 25, 2:23 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' It was a tad tardy, but a classic moment came a couple seconds after Tiger hit his first tee shot. A jolly, boisterous 300-plus pound man stood up and announced 'You're back Tiger!' Laughs were heard all around.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 25, 2:16 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Destiny was delayed. Because the Stewart Cink-Richard Sterne match went extra holes, the day's marquee match was eight minutes late.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 25, 2:10 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' How big is this anticipation? So big, that the PGA Tour, in Augusta-like fashion, ordered in a crew to build a big platform on the first tee to hold all the photographers. Yup, the crew was here until late in the evening building something that will be used for 10 minutes a day as long as Tiger is around.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 25, 2:07 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Anthony Kim became the week's first winner on Wednesday, and he needed the rest. Kim flew from Perth, Australia to Tucson, Ariz., on Sunday. That's 15 time zones and 2,700 miles.
 
'I'm lost,' Kim said. 'I've had about eight hours of sleep the last two days.'
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 25, 1:21 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Seriously, Tiger Woods basically is already 2 up in his match against Brendan Jones, isnt he? Neither has made their way to the practice range yet at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain but youd have to think that a healthy Tiger Woods (5-1 odds to win the event) is going to destroy a man who hasnt had a PGA Tour card in two years.
 
Crazy?
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 25, 12:53 p.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Same tournament, different day, different excitement.
 
The excitement Wednesday at the WGC-Match Play is huge, yet way different than Tuesday. Since Tiger Woods hasnt walked on the practice range yet, the atmosphere is probably best described as anticipation rather than excitement.
 
Tuesday morning was more surreal, with more than 100 media members on the range in the dark awaiting the weeks main attraction. On the excitement meter, that still measures as tops for the week.
 
But Woods hasnt made it to the first tee yet today. He mentioned Tuesday that hell be nervous before his match with Brendan Jones. Couple that with a frenzied gallery and the excitement level will reach new heights.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 25, 12:49 p.m. ET

 

 
On the social media site Twitter, the 'Town of Marana' has posted a 'BLOWOUT Alert!' tweet about Tiger's return ' along with a number of other exclamation point-laden entries about The One. For the uninitiated, Twitter allows you to give updates as to what you're doing at any given moment. Not sure what a blowout alert entails, but the town's tweets only demonstrate the incredible buzz that has spread not only through Arizona, but the sports world.
 
However, the manager at 'Battery City' in Tucson wasn't exactly as charged up as the Town of Marana. In fact, the man who took my phone call said he couldn't care less about the return of the Big Cat to his area. 'Meh,' he answered, 'If Tiger comes in and needs batteries, we'll sell 'em to him. But it's no big deal.'
 
Funny, because after a blow-out of the game's key source of electricity eight months ago, Tiger is the battery that can make golf run at full speed again.
 
' Dena Davis
Posted Feb. 25, 12:43 p.m. ET

 

 
I predict the stock market will rise, the unemployment rate will decrease, and world peace will occur at the precise moment Tiger tees off today.
 
' Erik Peterson
Posted Feb. 25, 10:47 a.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' He may be listed as a betting favorite for this weeks WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, but Tiger Woods doesnt rule this particular event like he does the rest of the lineup.
 
Woods has lost in the first round of Match Play before and if one believes in omens he is playing a B. Jones in the Bobby Jones bracket.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 25, 10:21 a.m. ET

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' By this account, the news conference lasted 21 minutes and ended with the words, that was the only one. That was Tigers response to the question regarding the 2006 U.S. Open and if that was the only tournament hes entered as a professional where he didnt think he was prepared enough to win.
 
Reading between the lines, hes suggesting that he knows hes prepared enough to win here this week.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
Not that the WGC-Accenture Match Play lacks for storylines. But here's a sidebar note that is more than a little interesting: According to Ian Barker of the Official World Golf Rankings, if No. 2 Sergio Garcia wins this week in Arizona and Tiger Woods loses in the first round, Garcia will close to within just a shade over .3 average points. Currently Woods ranks No. 1 in the world with an average of 9.61. Garcia's average is 7.87, making for a difference of 1.74. Woods has held the No. 1 position for a total (not consecutively) of 536 weeks in his career. Garcia has never been ranked No. 1.
 
' Brian Hewitt
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem stopped by to speak with the press Tuesday afternoon and made two key announcements. First, he said that FBR will not sponsor the Phoenix event past 2010. Finchem said that the Tour has already looked into potential sponsor replacements beginning in 2011 and is confident that something will develop over the next year.
 
The second was that Accenture has agreed to sponsor the WGC event here until 2014.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Tiger Woods loves being back, but he loved being at home with his growing family, as well.
 
I didnt realize how much I loved being at home, he said. Its so important. I knew family would be, it has been, but I didnt know it would be to this degree.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' To the untrained eye, Tiger Woods action looked as explosive and powerful as it has ever been. If the 150 mph action has changed only Woods and swing coach Hank Haney know the details.
 
What we do know is that whatever Woods is trying to do, having two good wheels to work with has fueled his confidence and his ability to perfect his swing.
 
Doing the same things Ive been trying to do, but now I have a leg I can do it on, he said.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' The field work done for the day, Tiger Woods opened his post-practice round press conference with jovial observation.
 
Sorry Im a little late. I forgot how long it takes to walk 18 holes, Woods smiled.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' It's 9:48 a.m. local and Tiger Woods has completed his round and is on his way to meet with his buddies in the press. There were several acknowledgments to the gallery along the way, none bigger than when a woman on the 18th tee said congratulations Dad. With those words Tiger showed that megawatt smile.
 
Then, walking down the 18th he gave one final look to the children of the First Tee of Tucson and said, hey guys, how you doin?
 
After that he walked to the green, hit a couple putts and called it a day.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' We are about to put a wrap on this round. Only one more hole to go. Tiger looks like he's ready to pack it in and get out of the Arizona heat but I suspect he knows how important these last two holes could be once this event gets underway.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Tiger Woods and Hank Haney lingered on the 15th green to talk before the world No. 1 moved on. Considering three of his matches during last years championship made it to the 18th hole there was little chance he would cut his practice round short.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Tiger Woods may look like a man easing his way through a casual weekend round, but his caddie Steve Williams is hard at work. On the 13th hole the group came across Damon Green, Zach Johnsons caddie, doing some field work and Williams and Green began comparing notes on yardages and pin positions. Anyone who doesnt think caddying is a thinking-mans job never watched these two professionals at work.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Phil Mickelson on Tiger Woods: Its pretty evident to see what hes done for our sport. Ive never seen so many cameras and photographers, especially that early in the morning. Its amazing to me what hes done for our sport. Its great to have the most recognizable athlete in the world playing our sport.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' An honest Phil Mickelson acknowledged that this is the one WGC event that hes struggled with the most. He knows that perhaps its because of streaky, sporadic play. The days he plays well, hes almost unbeatable. The days he struggles, well . . . those days will be a challenge in this format.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Although he may not be familiar with the Dove Mountain layout, Tiger Woods did spend some time getting accustomed to desert golf before arriving in Arizona.
 
Sources close to Woods said he spent a few days at tony Shadow Creek Golf Club in Las Vegas before arriving in the Tucson area.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' It's 9:30 a.m., Phil Mickelson just began his news conference and, oddly enough, hasnt played a hole yet here. Once hes done with us hacks, hell be out for a mid-morning round in rather obscurity.
 
'Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Tiger Woods made the turn around 9:10 a.m., just ahead of the twosome of Adam Scott and Luke Donald, who were beginning their practice rounds on the back nine. There was little chance the two-ball would catch Woods, who played his first nine in just under two hours.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' The biggest noise was made on nine when Tiger hit his approach to 18 inches. As he has on the previous eight holes, he took some time getting to know the greens.
 
Then, he ended the suspense by heading to the 10th. Apparently he's going nine more holes.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' When Tiger Woods arrived on the Dove Mountain range at around 7 a.m., media types outnumbered fans 10-to-1. By the time he reached the par-5 eighth hole the gallery had swollen to some 500 spectators.
 
As he walked up the fairway, one fan yelled out, We missed you, which prompted a slight smile from the world No. 1. It is, after all, a practice round.
 
Although Woods is playing two balls off of every tee and not putting out, he would probably be 2 or 3 under par depending on how well he was putting the severely slopping greens.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Apparently word is out that Tiger is, indeed, here. The gallery is now up to more than 500 on the seventh green with patrons finally outmatching media.
 
The long par 4 seventh was fairly uneventful. The only drama right now is whether he's going to play nine or go the full 18 holes.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Dove Mountains sixth is a nondescript par 3 and Woods smooth tee shot had a little bit of Ernie Els in it.
 
Swing coach Hank Haney smiled as he walked up the fairway when asked if anything had changed in Woods action. It was a knowing grin as if to suggest one wouldnt believe the answer even if he said it.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' The fifth hole started with a familiar 'not in my swing.' Yup. Those infamous photographers, clicking along every step of the way, caught Tiger in the middle of his backswing for the thousandth time. Now it's official. Tiger is back.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' The par-4 fourth hole at Dove Mountain can be shortened to about 350 yards and rumor is officials will play the up tees during at least one round at the WGC - Match Play Championship.
 
Woods teed off on the back tee, about 390 yards, and moved up to the forward offering, hitting driver just short and right of the green. Expect to see that shot again this week.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' The gallery has grown to about 200 ' 80 percent of which are media. Tiger was short right of the hole on the par-3 third hole but he hit a gentle chip to 2 feet for a gimme par. Tiger spends the next couple minutes practicing on the massive undulating greens.
 
Now, it's off to the fourth like business as usual.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Tiger Woods drive at the par-5 second hole sails into a cactus down the right side of the fairway and he is joined in the dawn frenzy by swing coach Hank Haney.
 
Steve Williams drops Woods golf ball into the fairway and he rifles a long iron from more than 200 yards to 20 feet.
 
All eyes remain on Woods rebuilt left knee, but there is no sign of restraint with his tee shot at the second.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' The eight month wait is over. Tiger Woods just finished his first hole hitting 5 wood, wedge on the opening hole.
 
Game on.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Just past 7 a.m. (MT) and the chip the world had been waiting for, dribbled down the Dove Mountain range. If Tiger Woods went into hibernation with a roar at Torrey Pines, he started his comeback with a whimper that bounced about 40 yards down the practice range.
 
The world No. 1 hit about 10 wedge shots, 10 fairway wood shots and about the same number of drivers, before marching to the first tee. All came without a single wince.
 
He teed off with a fairway wood at 7:16 a.m., splitting the fairway and ending the longest layoff of his historic career.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' After 10 minutes of practice, Tiger is off to No. 1 for a quick nine. Maybe 18.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA Ariz. ' Tiger Woods arrived on the Dove Mountain range at 7:05 a.m. Looks big. Real big. No limp.
 
Golf Channel cameras were on hand at 6:34 a.m. when Woods and Phil Mickelson arrived. Mickelson and Steve Williams, Woods' caddie who publicly criticized Lefty and later apologized, spoke briefly.
 
No word on what was said, but we're guessing they didn't finalize dinner plans.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' At 6:55 a.m, Phil Mickelson is the first on the practice range and announces,'He's coming.'
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
MARANA, Ariz. ' Just past 6 a.m and two dozen media types are waiting in the cold for 'The Moment.'
 
No Tiger yet, but Phil Mickelson's Bones MacKay was the only thing stirring at Dove Mountain.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 24

 

 
Brendan Jones spoke to reporters in Arizona Monday afternoon and sounded pretty relaxed for a man many people think will one day be the answer to a trivia question. Australias Jones, in case youve been ice-fishing off the coast of Newfoundland, is the first round opponent of Tiger Woods in the WGC-Accenture Match Play that begins Wednesday. It will mark the end of an eight-month recovery period from knee surgery for Woods, who is ranked No 1 in the world and seeded first in the event. Jones, a journeyman who plays most of his competitive golf in Japan, is the 64th, and last, seed.
 
Pretty lucky spot, Jones said. I was overjoyed when I found out.
 
Jones did not sound sarcastic or tongue in cheek Monday. He sounded more like a guy who looks forward to having a front row seat with history. Ive never spoken to Tiger Woods, Jones said. Maybe Ill ask him for three a side. Maybe Ill need more.
 
Asked what it would mean for him to actually beat Woods, Jones said, It would mean everything. Bragging rights. Match plays a funny game.
 
Im an Australian, Jones added. So Ive got some sort of chance. He was referring to the fact that three of Woods last four losses in this event were to Aussies. In 2002 the No. 64 seed, Aussie Peter OMalley upset Woods 2 and 1 in the first round.
 
I play my best when Im fresh, Jones said, and Im fresh right now.
 
' Brian Hewitt
Posted Feb. 23

 

 
Although he jumped to third in the World Golf Rankings with his victory at the Northern Trust Open, Phil Mickelson had drifted to fifth when the field for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship was set.
 
Because of the timing, Lefty is on the same side of the draw as Tiger Woods which means the best we can hope for is a semifinals for the ages. That is, however, if Mickelson makes it past 2008 Match Play runner-up Stewart Cink in the Ben Hogan Division.
 
As a consolation, we can always pine for a TW vs. Padraig Harrington-Sergio Garcia final, which, by the by, is a pretty good undercard.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 23

 

 
If youre struggling with your WGC-Accenture Match Play brackets and youre still loving what Phil Mickelson did Sunday at Riviera where he won the Northern Trust Open, a few words of warning: In nine tries at the Match Play, Lefty has never advanced to the Final Four. He has made it to the quarter-finals just once. And in each of the last four years he hasnt advanced past the round of 16. But heres a word of warning about the word of warning: All of this data could add up to ' in the unpredictable world of Phil The Thrill ' his best match play showing ever this week.
 
' Brian Hewitt
Posted Feb. 23

 

 
That first-round 63 was a footnote in a hectic news cycle every golf fan, tournament organizer and Nielsen family was waiting for. Tiger Woods was back...and Phil Mickelson did something or other in L.A.
 
That third-round 62, however, was a standalone headline worth noting. Mickelson seems to have shaken free the accumulated rust and built a four-shot lead at the Northern Trust Open. The competitive landscape needs an on-form Phil, complete with all his thrills and spills, almost as much as it needs a two-legged Tiger.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 22

 

 
Tiger Woods ended the silence on Friday, less than 24 hours after ending the collective wait for his return to the PGA Tour. Some highlights from Woods 25-minute media chitchat:
 
As if it had to be asked, but just for the record one scribe inquired about Woods expectations at next weeks WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship: To win, the man deadpanned.
 
After an ACL surgery and eight competitively quiet months how is golfs most-talked-about knee? My bones arent moving anymore.
 
He may have ended the wait, but he didnt end the speculation going forward: I would like to play certain tournaments, but I dont know how this thing is going to behave in a competitive environment. Translation: Hold off on buying those week-long passes to the WGC-CA Championship.
 
Why did he name his son Charlie? Simple answer, because it fit. But there was more, There is a slight connection (with Hall of Famer Charlie Sifford). But its not the 100 percent reason why we chose the name.
 
After splitting with long-time endorser Buick last year, Woods confirmed he will be sporting an AT&T bag next week. Given the state of the economy, AT&T may have been the only company that could afford that piece of real estate.
 
On the rumor Donald Trump was going to lure his AT&T National event away from venerable Congressional: Donald has always been very aggressive in business, and certainly he likes to make statements. But were under contract with Congressional and were very happy being there. Translation: Don, youre fired.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 20

 

 
There will be no end to the Tiger-mania leading up to next weeks WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship but the speculation over who the world No. 1 may face in Wednesdays first round is far too early.
 
Because of the way the Match Play field always comes together, nailing down a first-round opponent is a moving target. The deadline for entry is 5 p.m. (ET) on Friday.
 
The 64-man bracket will be reshuffled if a player withdraws before Sundays 7 p.m. (ET) deadline. After Sunday, if a player pulls out prior to their first-round match the next alternate ' starting at No. 65 Richard Green ' will move into that players spot.
 
For example, if No. 2 Sergio Garcia withdraws before Wednesdays tee time he would be replaced by Green, who would play No. 63 Charl Schwartzel, and the brackets would remain unchanged.
 
Confused? And they say the BCS is complicated.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 20

 

 
There are four, count 'em, four Johnsons in the field at Riviera this week. Two of them, Zach and Dustin, have already won on the PGA Tour this year. There's also Richard S. Johnson, a Swede who has three top 25 finishes in four starts on Tour in 2009 ' which is one more than all of last year when he missed the cut 11 times in 21 events. Finally, Vincent Johnson, the Charlie Sifford honorary exemption into the field, quietly carded a sparkling, one-under 70 on Thursday.
 
' Brian Hewitt
Posted Feb. 20

 

 
'The important thing,' Wade Dunagan said, 'is he's back playing.' One month ago Dunagan took over as executive director of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship that will be played next week at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain, a course that has been open as long as Dunagan has been on his new job. Thursday Dunagan learned along with the rest of the world that Tiger Woods has chosen his event to return from an injury layoff that has lasted more than eighth months. 'This adds a whole new level to our preparation,' said Dunagan, who formerly worked for the PGA Tour's TPC division and once served as the head pro at TPC Sawgrass. The good news, Dunagan said, is there is much more room for spectators, players and media at the Ritz-Carlton venue than there was at the nearby Gallery at Dove Mountain which hosted the event the last two years. 'Obviously we expect an influx,' Dunagan said, moments after the announcement of Woods' return was made public. 'But honestly this hasn't sunk in yet.'
 
' Brian Hewitt
Posted Feb. 19

 

 
Tucson will become the golf capitol of the world next week when Tiger Woods returns from his long layoff to play in the WGC-Accenture Match Play. Were ecstatic, said Mike McMahon, the general manager of the Ritz Carlton at Dove Mountain where the tournament will take place. McMahon also reported Thursday that the golf course (open for less than a month) is in mint condition and the roughs have been grown out to between three and four inches.
 
' Brian Hewitt
Posted Feb. 19

 

 
The timing couldnt be better. Tiger Woods just injected the best Wednesday on Tour with the perfect stimulus package.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 19

 

 
Hello, America, Ryo Ishikawa smiled in vaguely familiar fashion and the comparisons between Tiger Woods, the absent prince, and Ishikawa, the Shy Prince, poured like Guinness from an Irish pubs tap.
 
Ryuji Imada gushed that Ishikawa had the same tools and more than Woods had at a similar age, never mind that Imada was a 15-year-old high schooler when Woods made his first LA Open appearance in 1992.
 
While the general golf world remains mildly intrigued by Ishikawa and the endless comparisons to the world No. 1, his barnstorming tour of the United States has credited a curious disconnect.
 
Ishikawa will make at least four starts in America on sponsor exemptions (Northern Trust Open, Transitions Championship, Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Masters) this spring and, at No. 67 in the world ranking, has an outside chance of sneaking in for next weeks WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.
 
By comparison, many players with PGA Tour cards ' like Jay Williamson who has played just twice in 09 ' will likely not get four starts between now and Augusta National.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 19

 

 
Ryo Ishikawa has plenty of momentum in Japan, where his endorsements are reported to be worth more than $13.8 million. But despite all the hoopla surrounding his U.S. debut this week at the PGA Tours Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles, the young phenom (who has instructed us to pronounce is name Yo) may be a harder sell to western endorsement partners.
 
[Michelle] Wie makes any major investment risky in young, unproven stars, says Bob Williams, CEO of Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing of Evanston, Ill. His money will only come from Japan until he wins over here.
 
Unlike Wie, who was much heralded but then did not win quickly, Ishikawa won twice in Japan by age 17. He earned $1.1 million on the course in 2008 alone. As for the predicted reticence of U.S. sponsors, its not all his fault.
 
Almost no company here in the states is going to sign him with the [down] economy and the language barrier, Williams says.
 
Other players have eventually overcome the language issue. Se Ri Pak went from distant to charming as soon as her English got smooth. Ryo-san already has loads of charm, even with his elementary English. So perhaps that barrier is only temporary. But hell need to watch out, Williams says, to avoid a common pitfall of young stars: playing too much and practicing too little in an effort to max out his income here. What he really needs to do, Williams says, is play well on this side of the Pacific, and soon.
 
His legend needs to grow here, Williams says.
 
Yo.
 
' Adam Barr
Posted Feb. 19

 

 
David Leadbetter watched Saturdays action from the SBS Open with a keen, if somewhat detached, interest. In Michelle Wies first event as a card-carrying LPGA member her long-time swing coach didnt know what to expect, so by any measure her tie for second was reason to fist-pump the television box.
 
She told me afterwards, Im disappointed, but its so exciting to get back in contention, Leadbetter said. She didnt know how she was going to react because she hasnt been in that position for a long while.
 
Leadbetter said Wie looked as if she became, a little excited and sped up her routine down the stretch against eventual winner Angela Stanford.
 
Wie will likely skip the LPGA event next month in Mexico to complete her schoolwork at Stanford and play next at the J Golf Phoenix LPGA International. Leadbetter also said Wie will focus on the LPGA this season, not the PGA Tour, with her immediate goal qualifying for the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
 
Our goal is to build up her confidence, Leadbetter said. Shes back. The dark days are behind her now.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 18

 

 
Last time we saw likeable Left Coaster Jason Gore he was tenderly making his way around Torrey Pines, slowed by back pain but stubbornly refusing to withdraw from the Buick Invitational or take an injection for the pain.
 
The medical guy wanted to give me a shot. Told the guy, Get the hell away from me, Gore said at Torrey Pines.
 
On Tuesday, we talked with Gores manager, Ralph Cross with Cross Consulting, who said his man had his back reset by a chiropractor after Torrey Pines. The chiropractor found no structural damage and Cross said Gore is feeling fine for this weeks Northern Trust Open, Gores hometown event which he is playing on a sponsor exemption.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Feb. 17

 

 
Three first round match-ups stand out now that the top 64 for the upcoming WGC-Accenture Match Play is set. These match-ups assume Tigers playing and