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Shag Bag Blog January

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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.
 

 
The entry deadline for the Buick Invitational came and went Friday and, despite tournament director Tom Wilson's best efforts, Tiger Woods' name was not on it.
 
Indications from within the Woods' camp suggest the world No. 1 is back to something approaching a full workout routine, but his much-anticipated return will have to wait. Next month's WGC-Match Play Championship in Tucson, Ariz., has been reported as a possible return while many consider the Arnold Palmer Invitational or WGC-CA Championship at Doral likely openers.
 
Some good news for Wilson. Rocco Mediate, David to Woods' Torrey Pines U.S. Open Goliath, is in next week's field. The Buick also marks the beginning of the Woods 2009 countdown.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Jan. 31

 

 
Here is the LPGA's Thursday response to the Ginn Companys termination of sponsorship in professional golf, including the Ginn Open:
 
We are extremely disappointed and surprised by yesterday's announcement by the Ginn Company that they have terminated all sponsorships in professional golf, including the Ginn Open. While we are keenly aware of the challenges that all businesses are facing in today's economy, we had been led to believe by the Ginn Company that the event would be held as scheduled in 2009. The Orlando community has been terrific throughout the years and the LPGA looks forward to returning to the Orlando market in the future.
 
Here is my response to the LPGA's response: The next time one of these dominoes falls (and we all dearly hope Ginn is the last one), nobody should be surprised.
 
' Brian Hewitt
Posted Jan. 31

 

 
Time is not on Buick Invitational tournament director Tom Wilsons side, despite all the optimism in Del Mar, Calif. Wilson has waged a well-intended texting campaign to draw Tiger Woods off the DL and back to Torrey Pines for next weeks event.
 
Its too early to tell, Wilson said. Were hoping for an early Christmas present, but Im not holding out hope. From what I understand (Woods) is back at his full regimen, but he wont play until he feels like hes 100 percent ready for competition.
 
In practical terms that means Woods will probably not rush his recovery just to return to the scene of last years U.S. Open, and perhaps the greatest victory of his career. But Wilson is not finished trying or texting.
 
Ill text Mark (Steinberg, Woods agent) on Thursday, Wilson said. By then hopefully well have some good news.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Jan. 27

 

 
One last note on Pat Perez' play last week.
 
On Saturday, I followed Pat on the back nine at Bermuda Dunes. His brother Mike, also an accomplished player formerly on the Nationwide Tour, was in the gallery and very excited, if not nervous for his brother. On the par-5 13th hole, Pat couldn't reach the green but hit 3-wood anyway. It went way left and looked for a time as though it could be close to the OB stakes. Mike, on the other side of the fairway asked me if it was safe. Not sure, I told him it looked like it bounced right off the tree and probably safe. Somewhat under his breath, Mike muttered, 'Why in the world does he hit 3-wood? Why not just lay up?' I turned to look at Mike with an amused expression ' as I also covered Mike when he was playing well and he plays exactly like his brother. 'Because he's a Perez,' I said. Mike looked at me, then looked toward where he hoped Pat's ball was, raised his eyebrows under his large aviator sunglasses and softly said, 'Good point.'
 
' Jerry Foltz
Posted Jan. 27

 

 
For all those who were surprised to see third-year Tour player John Merrick make a run at his first title on Sunday, consider the Southern Californians offseason sparring partners.
 
Merrick is among an up-and-coming threesome that works out at Virginia Country Club in Long Beach, Calif., under the tutelage of uber-cool swing coach Jamie Mulligan. A typical December day at Virginia includes some range time, putting drills and perhaps a game with fellow rising star Peter Tomasulo and proven veterans John Cook and Paul Goydos.
 
Its a great mix and good for the younger guys to have someone like John and Paul to learn from, Mulligan said. Its also good for John and Paul to have some young guys to play against.
 
Some spring trainings are better than others.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Jan. 26

 

 
I've done this before and I'll do it again, because it can lead to stories like this one.
 
For all that golf has to offer fans as entertainment and professional players as an unbelievable living, there is more to the game. As Ive said before, golf is not life; its just a part of it. And for many, it is therapeutic. Its a connection with family. Its solace.
 
There are stories out there: stories of inspiration and great spirit; stories of tragedy and heartache. These are stories of life.
 
If you have or know of an inspirational story relating to golf, e-mail me at mbaggs@golfchannelclub.com ' the same if you have one of woe or caution which relates to the sport.
 
I look forward to hearing from you and possibly telling your story.
 
' Mercer Baggs
Posted Jan. 26

 

 
Pat Perez may have been best remembered to the golf masses for his display of temper seven years ago at Pebble, but as he said two days ago, 'I need to win' to put that behind him.
 
While he may have had a questionable reputation with the golf audience, his peers have a significantly different opinion of Perez as evidenced by the number of players that were out there on the 18th green when he finished at the Bob Hope.
 
PGA Tour veteran Tommy Armour III was there even though he missed the cut a day earlier and could have easily been excused if he wanted to get a head start on the four-hour drive to Phoenix to get ready for next week's FBR Open. So, too, was Jason Gore, who also missed the cut ' and Jason lives less than two hours away in Southern California. Andrew Magee, no longer an active PGA Tour player, drove over from Phoenix to be there for his friend.
 
Typically, a few players are there to congratulate their friends upon winning, but usually only if they happened to have finished around the same time. Rare is the occasion when they hang around an extra day just on the chance their friend pulls through.
 
When you combine his loyal friends with the large number of family and friends on hand, it would be understandable if a rather large party broke out somewhere in the Coachella Valley Sunday night. And it might not stop there. Pat traditionally hosts an annual get together at his home during tournament week in his hometown. And Pat lives in Scottsdale. Maybe the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale has met its match in terms of the biggest party of the year.
 
' Jerry Foltz
Posted Jan. 26

 

 
Steve Stricker went 7-over par in a four-hole stretch Sunday in the final round of the Bob Hope Classic to squander a commanding lead and miss winning a tournament that was squarely in his gunsights. This is the same Steve Stricker who won two Comeback Player of the Year awards in consecutive seasons on the PGA Tour (a record that surely never will be broken).
 
If he wins his next start (and don't bet against it), Stricker will be the 2009 Comeback Player of the Year to date. By the way, there are players people pull for and players people don't. Stricker is near the top of the list of the former.
 
' Brian Hewitt
Posted Jan. 25

 

 
The assembled scribes had waited six days but the payoff would be worth every awkward delay. For five rounds Frank Lickliter II eschewed the press during the final stage of 2007 PGA Tour Q-School. It wasnt until hed put the finishing touches on his four-stroke victory that Lickliter was finally asked if his opening rounds of 62-62 were the best consecutive cards of his career.
 
Thats the best back-to-back rounds anybody has ever shot, Lickliter deadpanned.
 
Seems Lickliter was only half right. On Saturday at the Bob Hope Classic, Steve Stricker completed the back-end of a 61-62 card that was the lowest consecutive rounds in Tour history.
 
Give Stricker credit for posting his 123 two-round total at the games most lucrative putting contest. But we still give the nod to Lickliter for style points. Q-School pressure and the Lickliter presence is a potent combination.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Jan. 25

 

 
To put the birdie-fest known as the Bob Hope Classic into context, when Arnold Palmer ' host of this years 50th tournament ' won his last title in the Coachella Valley (1973) he lapped the field with a five-round, 17-under-par total. By comparison, Pat Perez teed off late Friday, was 1 under for the day and 21 under for the tournament and not in the lead.
 
By all accounts Palmer was fine with the scoring assault. Hell get his revenge in March at Bay Hill.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Jan. 23

 

 
It happened in an uncharacteristically quiet way, at least for Rory Sabbatini. Adams Golf didnt renew the four-time PGA Tour winners endorsement deal. Inside word is that money was an issue, as well as Rorys decision to wear a Callaway hat (he plays a Callaway ball) during a practice round and a TV interview in Decembers South African Open. But the same source said that for most of his year with Adams, Sabbatini was an excellent brand ambassador.
 
On the plus side for Rory: He has a new endorsement deal with Hasbro, the toy maker. Hell change out bags throughout the year, each featuring a key Hasbro product. At Sony, he began with a bag featuring the Nerf line of toys. Which is all well and good, but still: no swinging in the house, now.
 
' Adam Barrr
Posted Jan. 23

 

 
LA QUINTA, Calif. ' Wanted: Weatherman for the La Quinta area. No experience required. No training necessary.
 
Honestly, there can't be an easier place in the world to be a weatherman. The only variable this week has been whether it's going to be partly cloudy or mostly sunny.
 
As the day begins here for the third round, it should be just like the previous two days. 70 degrees with no wind. As my friend, Wayne Grady, would say, 'There isn't enough wind to blow out a match.' Where most players judge a wind as a one-club or two-club wind, here it's more like a one-yard or two-yard wind. Combine the docile conditions with the easy hole locations necessitated by having three amateurs in each group, and the scores will be ridiculously low once again.
 
And if a birdie-bonanza isn't enough to make you want to tune in, then perhaps Arnie will change your mind. Today we turn our spotlight on the King with soundbites from an interview yesterday with the 79-year-old legend that I'm told are fantastic.
 
' Jerry Foltz
Posted Jan. 23

 

 
Year in and year out, one of the most respected and judicious users of sponsors exemptions has been Clair Peterson, tournament director of the John Deere Classic which will take place, this year, July 9-12. What follows is Petersons response when I asked him where Tadd Fujikawas recent 62 got him on Petersons exemption radar screen:
 
Tadd has been on our radar screen for a couple of years but has not made it to our final exemption list yet. We dont make our final decisions until closer to July and, unfortunately, his star has shined most brightly in January and has dimmed a bit as the year has progressed. If he continues to do exciting things, in the next four to five months, he would increase his chances with us.
 
Last years John Deere exemptions included Webb Simpson, Philip Francis and local Brady Schnell. U.S. Publinx champion Jack Newman, from nearby Des Moines, is getting a long look from the John Deere at the moment.
 
But, Peterson added, no shortage of great players out there. This is the same Peterson who, in the past, wasnt bashful about bringing another Hawaiian, Michelle Wie, into his field as a sponsors pick.
 
' Brian Hewitt
Posted Jan. 22

 


 
Its all who you know, and what you need. A friend of mine from Columbus, Ohio has a buddy who is a pilot. They ' and two other golf junkies ' are coming down to Orlando today to play golf. Just today. In at 9 a.m., quick round, back on the plane to Cold & Snowland. What is it about golf? Well, when winter has been forcing you not to play, what isnt it? All I know is, I dont see people scrambling onto airplanes just to go running or biking or the like. But a taste of golf? For that, theyll burn a vacation day and brave two airports. Rock on, Golf America.
 
' Adam Barr
Posted Jan. 22

 

 
LA QUINTA, Calif. ' Pat Perez once asked me why he's only shown on TV when he's acting up and never at the good moments. Of course we all remember that infamous display on 18 at Pebble when he appeared to be checking to see if there was a well under the sprinkler head. My response was that if you never act up, we would never see it. Truth be told, if Pat ever lost his fiery edge, he'd likely lose a little of what makes him good. Today he was good. An 11-under par 61 that didn't look like it could have been one shot higher. According to his amateur partners, the longest putt he made in his first-nine 8-under 28 (actual back nine at PGA West Palmer Private course), was a 12 footer for eagle at 18. A couple of whiffed 6-iron's on his back were all that stood between him and that magical number of 59.
 
But it was his amateur partners that told the real story of Pat that we rarely see. They had a blast with him and he with them. Nicknames, needling, and smiles all around. And I thought, Pat was right ' we rarely get to see that side of him. While it's easy to be engaging when playing that well, the fact is that Pat is always going to be Pat. And when he gets to be around a group of guys that have a similar temperament, they all thoroughly enjoy it. At the end of the day I was left with two impressions. First, Pat was actually disappointed with 61 when a 59 was so close. And secondly was that I can't recall seeing a group of amateurs enjoy themselves that much in a round of golf with any pro.
 
' Jerry Foltz
Posted Jan. 21

 

 
Numerous reports surfaced last week regarding the legal wrangling going on between Anthony Kim and the wunderkinds former manager Rocky Hambric of Hambric Sports Management.
 
Kim split with Hambric last May and the veteran agent filed a breach of contract lawsuit against the Ryder Cup star later that month. According to the Sports Business Journal, Hambric also has served subpoenas on IMG, Gaylord Sports Management and Kims adviser, Sterling Ball.
 
Lost amid the lawsuits and media reports is the impact an extended legal battle will have on one of the games brightest rising stars. After a hectic offseason, Kim withdrew from this weeks Bob Hope Chrysler Classic with a sore left shoulder. Adding to the uncertainty, Kims endorsement contract with Nike Golf ended last year and he has not resigned with the Swoosh.
 
Although it seems likely Kim will stay with Nike, sources suggest his ongoing legal issues have slowed the negotiations and the longer the deal is drawn out the more it may be negatively impacted by a bear economy.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Jan. 21

 

 
Adam Scott arrived in Qatar late Tuesday night after a 22-hour journey from Hawaii, missing a valuable piece of his luggage. The airline lost Scotts clubs en route to Doha, forcing the defending champion to skip Wednesdays pro-am and walk the course instead in preparation for Thursdays Commercialbank Qatar Masters Presented by Dolphin Energy. Scott hopes to be reunited with his Titleist clubs prior to teeing off on Thursday, but just in case, Titleist UK built him a new set from scratch and shipped them off on Wednesday. Titleist UK built the clubs exactly to Scotts current specs, courtesy of information provided to them by Scotts U.S. tour department.
 
The airline mishap is the latest in a string of unfortunate events for Scott, who dislocated his right kneecap while surfing (running out of the water) in Australia back in December. Scott skipped the Australian Open but returned for the Mercedes-Benz Championship at Kapalua two weeks ago, where he finished tied for 18th. Scott rebounded with a strong showing at last weeks Sony Open in Hawaii, vaulting into a tie for second after a final-round 64. Scott was playing a new driver (Titleist 909D2) and irons (Titleist AP2) at Kapalua, but would go with his previous generation of Titleist clubs on Thursday if neither new set showed up on time.
 
' Casey Bierer
Posted Jan. 21

 

 
OK, since its Bob Hope Classic time it must be Yogi Berra stories season again. My personal favorite: Yogi is working his way up to the front of the reception line on a hot summers night at the Governors mansion in New York. He is wearing a lime green leisure suit...Oooh, Yogi, you look so cool, coos Governor Cuomos wife. Thanks, Mrs. Cuomo, Yogi replies shyly, you dont look so hot yourself.
 
' Brian Hewitt
Posted Jan. 21

 

 
LA QUINTA, Calif. ' I promise you, it's not bragging, but I must share my best lunch story in a long time. The tales that were told were fantastic, the food was probably my favorite ever, and the company couldn't have possibly been more enjoyable for a golfer.
 
The place? The driving range at PGA West Palmer Private course -- probably not what you imagined with that preamble. The stories? Great reminiscence of the old days from the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic -- starting with year one. The food? In-N-Out Burgers supplied by their mobile unit, complimentary to all tournament folk. And if all of that isn't enough to make you want to come to the desert for the 50th Hope, then consider who I sat with: the King, Arnold Palmer. I won't soon forget it, if ever.
 
It was surreal for me, but I think Rich Lerner (also at the table) summed it up best in a brief conversation in passing with Scott Walker. 'I just had a double-double with Arnie.'
 
' Jerry Foltz
Posted Jan. 20

 

 
They say it takes a village to raise a child. In the case of Zach Johnson it takes a committee to focus a champion.
 
Late last year Johnson was putting the final touches on perhaps the most pedestrian year of his career when he gathered Team Zach in search of answers.
 
He knew he was hitting it well, said Dr. Morris Pickens, Johnsons sports psychologist. It was more the impatience of when is it going to come back.
 
Johnson, Pickens, caddie Damon Green, swing coach Mike Bender and putting guru Pat OBrien gathered for an impromptu meeting after the 2007 Masters champion failed to advance past the first playoff event. The payoff was almost immediate, with Johnson winning his next event (Valero Texas Open).
 
Team Zach met again in November for three days at Sea Island (Ga.) Resort and Johnsons 09 start followed the script ' one victory (Sony Open) and a tie for sixth (Mercedes-Benz Championship).
 
The meetings, which Pickens characterizes as passionate, focused on Johnsons smooth putting stroke and featured a healthy amount of friendly competition.
 
Were guys who are in their 30s that are acting like they are 17, Pickens said. Whatever game were playing, I will change the rules to give myself an advantage. Typically, if Im ahead the game is over.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Jan. 20

 

 
From the equipment innovation front: The first modern-era adjustable clubs we saw a year ago were as the Mercury program to this years Apollo generation. Most major manufacturers, driven to compete despite a down economy, will come to market with aggressive designs.
 
A couple cases in point: TaylorMades new driver is called the R9 ' not a new R7, but a new family of clubs. Not only does it feature adjustable weights, but also a highly machined shaft-to-hosel-to-club connection that adjusts the face angle, loft and lie. That affects not only ball flight, but also the all-important over-the-ball look. Combined with the weights, the adjustment scheme offers up to 75 yards of side-to-side latitude, TaylorMade says. The price tag is not for the timid, though: $500 list. Look for it in March.
 
Even outside adjustability, designers are working to innovate within the confines of modern head size regulations. Adams Golfs Speedline driver uses geometry in the form of highly engineered hollows and scoops to improve air flow and reduce drag. That speeds up the driver through the hitting zone, Adams says, and can get you as much as nine more yards. Thats the kind of language recreational golfers listen to. List price will be $400; delivery will be in February.
 
These are just two examples. Callaways I-MIX is now a veteran product in the interchangeable shaft category, and Nikes 360 Fitting System relies on an interchangeable shaft connection. But this year, the innovation has taken a step toward even more variety ' and perhaps complication ' but definitely more interest for the avid player.
 
' Adam Barr
Posted Jan. 20

 

 
HONOLULU ' Its all been carefully orchestrated. Adam Scott being linked to actress Kate Hudson is just a ruse to get people to quit asking when hes going to start fulfilling his potential, challenging Tiger and winning majors.
 
Instead hes being peppered with the really important questions: Are you and Kate really just friends as youve said? When did you meet? What do Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell think?
 
Its also a clever way to expand the golf audience, because this is People Magazine, Entertainment Tonight territory: Handsome golfer seen with Hollywood star!
 
While were at it lets land Camilo Villegas a spot on Dancing with The Stars, and watch the ratings for golf go through the roof.
 
' Rich Lerner
Posted Jan. 19

 

 
You know you're getting there when the people of the United States of America vote you in as their next President. But you haven't officially arrived until Tiger Woods shows up in the nation's Capitol and delivers a speech at your pre-inaugural festivities. Barack Obama: This Is Your Life.
 
' Brian Hewitt
Posted Jan. 19

 

 
HONOLULU ' How big was the hype surrounding Charles Howell III coming out of Oklahoma State eight years ago?
 
When he signed with representative Rocky Hambric, the agent gave him five percent of his company. Callaway handed a four-year deal for better than a mill per year. Tony Navarro, who caddied for Greg Norman and now Adam Scott, said, 'theres nothing this kid cant do.' It's scary to think about. And when Jack Nicklaus was asked who might challenge Tiger? He said Charles Howell.
 
So how is it that the young-gun train left the station in 2009 and Howell wasnt on board?
 
In search of answers, Charles has left David Leadbetter for Todd Anderson. And hes put on close to 20 pounds.
 
Charles once told me hes never been without the video camera on a lesson tee. He feels it would be foolish not to take advantage of modern technology, and thats hard to argue.
 
Hes admitted hes never been a guy who just tees it up and goes. He likes the mechanical side. He likes to take a peek under the hood and tinker.
 
Charles also understands he needs to improve from 130 and in, and concedes that hes probably underachieved to this point with just two wins and little to speak of in the majors.
 
Nick Faldo used mechanics to create feel and didnt win the first of his six majors until he was 30. Howell executed brilliantly at 16 and 17 on Sunday at the Sony Open, giving himself a chance. After he came unglued at 18, he said hell take the positives and not the negatives into the early part of the season.
 
Charles Howell remains a work in progress.
 
' Rich Lerner
Posted Jan. 18

 

 
HONOLULU ' During our post-production meeting/discussion, the thought occurred to me that there are probably a lot of people who, although amazed at what an unproven 18-year-old did on Saturday at the Sony, wouldn't be surprised if the pressure of a PGA Tour final round might be too much for Tadd Fujikawa. While I believe that most are really pulling for this talented young man, perhaps their expectations don't equal their hope. It's understandable. For that matter, I'm not sure what my expectations are for Tadd on Sunday. I do know that, in my mind, his Saturday 62 should erase any question about whether or not the kid is for real ' regardless what Sunday holds.
 
Is Tadd ready to contend? Here's some food for thought: When is the last time you've ever heard a player talk about standing on the practice green until dark, repeatedly hitting putts, all the while daydreaming that each putt was to win the Sony Open? Well dreaming is exactly what kids do, and winning the Sony is something kids from Hawaii might just think to themselves. He just might be more prepared for this than any of us would rationally suspect. I, for one, can't wait to watch.
 
' Jerry Foltz
Posted Jan. 18

 

 
Funny how some of the best work a player can do in the offseason doesnt have anything to do with either a club or a golf ball. Tom Pernice Jr. signed for his bogey-free 63 Friday, a round that left him tied for first place at the Sony Open, and immediately went shaka cool on the gathered scribes.
 
Just trying to have some fun, enjoy life a little bit, a laid-back Pernice said. I have two wonderful girls and a wonderful wife. So I need to enjoy life even when I'm trying to win out there on the golf course a little bit.
 
Pernice added Jim Fannin to his entourage during the offseason. Although Pernice would not characterize Fannin as a sports psychologist, it seems their work focused on goal setting and keeping things in perspective.
 
An island cool attitude to begin the season at the Tours most soulful stop ' how shaka.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Jan. 17

 

 
REUNION, Fla. ' The Shag Bag staff had a Hollywood Insider moment Thursday morning with recently wed Annika Sorenstam. Speaking publically for the first time since her Jan. 10 wedding to Mike McGee, the Swede ' who postponed her honeymoon to fulfill her duties as host of the AJGA Annika Invitational at Ginn Reunion Resort near Orlando, Fla. ' said the ceremony was perfect.
 
The ceremony and reception were held at nearby Lake Nona Golf & Country Club and Sorenstam reportedly provided the highlight of the evening when she began break dancing in her wedding dress. Sorenstams father, Tom, also was a hit on the dance floor and at one point members of the wedding staff joined the revelry.
 
It was like a scene out of Mamma Mia, said McGee, whose father Jerry is a former PGA Tour player and lifelong Pittsburgh Steelers fan. My dad was out there with his Steelers socks on. It was a blast.
 
The party lasted until about 3 a.m., McGee said, but neither the bride nor the groom would say whether Tiger Woods attended the ceremony.
 
We want to protect the privacy of our guests, Sorenstam said. He did get us a big bottle of wine.
 
Sorenstam will attend the PGA Merchandise Show in late January then participate in the Annika Celebration at Reunion, a skins game between Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa, Paula Creamer and Natalie Gulbis, before taking time for a honeymoon.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Jan. 15

 

 
Sometimes, you just have to be there. Anyone who was around last year for Kenny Perry's three wins (I happened to have been assigned to all three, plus the AT&T in Atlanta, which he narrowly lost in a playoff to Ryuji Imada) knows that when Kenny says he can win eight more, he ain't whistlin' Dixie or anything else. Face to face with this polite but determined Kentuckian, there is no doubt.
 
Perry, now 48, wants to do this before he's 55. That would give him 20 career PGA Tour wins. Did anyone think he could win one last year, let alone three (Buick in Michigan, Memorial, John Deere)? Don't come between Kenny Perry and a goal, such as making the Ryder Cup team. He'll do what it takes.
 
' Adam Barr
Posted Jan. 15

 

 
HONOLULU ' The Eddie Aikau watch is on for the North Shore of Oahu. Evidently it's a surfing contest that only takes place when the waves are massive and the sports superstars all make their way to Hawaii this time of year in hopes that the conditions are ripe. What this means to the players at the Sony Open is that high winds are possible.
 
Stewart Williams, the official PGA Tour meterologist told me that starting sometime Thursday, the gusts could reach upward of 30 mph. As of now, those players in the late Thursday, early Friday wave are wondering if they drew the short straw in the pairings as they may play their first 36 holes in the worst of it. Of course, as word of the forecast made it's way around Waialae the last two days, things naturally began to get exaggerated. At the pro-am talking with Boo, who is in the fortunate early/late wave, he said, 'Foltzy man, I heard it's gonna be blowin' a somethin' crazy. Like 60 mph.'
 
' Jerry Foltz
Posted Jan. 14

 

 
Tadd Fujikawa spent much of the offseason working with swing coach Todd Anderson but it wasnt the Hawaiian teens iron play or driving that received the most attention. According to Anderson, Fujikawa ' who earned a spot in this weeks Sony Open via Monday qualifying ' focused on his short game and wedge play, particularly shots from 125 yards and closer.
 
He called me after the qualifier and said he hit a wedge to a couple of feet on the last hole for birdie to earn his spot. He said, All that wedge work is paying off, said Anderson, the director of instruction at Sea Island (Ga.) Resort.
 
Anderson said hes trying to convince the teen to focus on the mini-tours this year and prepare for Tour Q-School. If you have to make a 10-footer to win a Hooters Tour event youre learning what you need to learn, Anderson said.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Jan. 14

 

 
Vijay Singh is scheduled to have knee surgery today in Jacksonville, Fla., and the English punters have even money on the Fijian heading straight for the practice range at TPC Sawgrass after the procedure.
 
Actually, Singh may follow Tiger Woods lead and show some restraint. He wont start wearing the grooves out of his irons until this weekend.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Jan. 13

 

 
HONOLULU ' I was struck by the irony of the two surreal settings. The first was Sunday night in the Ritz lobby lounge area at Kapalua; the second was the beachside institution in Waikiki known as 'Duke's'. At the Ritz, it was a very casual evening trading stories with some of the most accomplished players on the PGA Tour in an environment the was devoid of egos and social status implications (kind of ironic considering is was at the Ritz). I kept thinking what a dream spot this would have been for a any golf fan. Everyone was welcome, but for the most part, it was only a few GC employees, a handful of the game's stars, some Tour brass, caddies, and tournament folks just relaxing and watching the sun go down. Evidently, a few almost made it to sun-up.
 
The next night, I walked into Duke's and chatted with about a dozen PGA Tour rookies who were all preparing for the first tournament of their PGA Tour careers -- each with stars in their eyes and full of hope. In a few short days, they'll no longer be chasing their dreams, they'll actually be living them. Very few of them will make it to the Mercedes Benz Championship next year, and odds are that most won't even be back at the Sony Open next year. The reality of trying to beat those odds will intensify later in the season, but for the next few days, the world is their oyster and their new workplace is as scenic as both sunset locales.
 
' Jerry Foltz
Posted Jan. 13

 

 
D. J. Trahan, who will defend his Bob Hope Chrysler Classic title next week, went moose hunting in the off-season and, well, well let him tell the story: ... I shot a nice big bull moose probably 850 pounds. I've got a lot of moose meat in my freezer right now, about 350 pounds' worth ' maybe 300 now because I've given some away. But it was about 350 pounds' worth of meat. It was a sight to see. It was unbelievable, especially after ' obviously when I shot the animal I saw the 'ginormous' size of it. It was amazing to walk up on an animal that big, and then obviously when all the meat came, I was like holey-moley. It was unreal. It's actually quite good to eat, which is even better. Obviously I don't just hunt to kill. I like to ' I enjoy deer hunting and doing things like that as much to harvest the meat as I do enjoying the hunt.
 
Memo to Bullwinkle: Youre not safe.
 
' Brian Hewitt
Posted Jan. 13

 

 
This just in from Michelle Wies agent, Jill Smoller of the William Morris Agency: As of now Wie plans to start her season at the SBS Open at Turtle Bay which also happens to be the LPGAs season opener. Smoller warned that Wies participation in the event, close to her home in Oahu, is not yet confirmed. Meanwhile, Wie has enrolled for the winter quarter at Stanford University. If she plays at Turtle Bay, she will miss classes. But, as Smoller likes to say about schedule-juggling, She (Wie) has been doing this all her life.
 
' Brian Hewitt
Posted Jan. 12

 

 
It was reported Sunday that Anthony Kim was experiencing slight shoulder pain near the end of his round at the Mercedes-Benz Championship where he finished runner-up to Geoff Ogilvy. Kims agent at IMG, Chris Armstrong, was aware of the report but told GolfChannel.com Monday that he had talked to Kim and Kims trainer, Craig Davies. There is no cause for concern, Armstrong said. There was no immediate word on whether Kim cancelled his scheduled surfing lesson Monday.
 
' Brian Hewitt
Posted Jan. 12

 

 
This weekend, published reports stated that Adam Scott and actress Kate Hudson were spotted in Maui canoodling, dining together, and hopping into the same luxury car together. (The indisputable hat-trick of dating evidence!) And just to ice it, another report quoted a shared friend saying that the two had been 'flirting electronically' prior to this (alleged) first meeting at Kapalua.
 
Hmm. Ive flirted electronically before. And I can tell you, Match.com never paired me with a young, sexy Australian professional golfer, and I certainly have never had that first date in Hawaii. (I want my money back, Dr. Neil Clark Warren!) My bitterness aside, though, if these two crazy kids do end up together ' based on the 283,849 proven dimensions that matched them as soul-mates, of course ' then I cannot wait for his awkward E-Harmony commercial with the Oscar-nominated 'Almost Famous' starlet: Kate saw me as a winner, even though Ive never won a major. I never thought I could find unconditional love like that.
 
Listen, after a tumultous 2008 season replete with missed cuts, mental fatigue, nagging tonsillitis, flu bugs and a dislocated knee, Scott could use something positive in his life. And Penny Lane might just be what the doctor ordered. No, she can't surgically repair his kneecap, but taking a cursory glance at her recent love life, it seems she can have quite the influence on her former beaus. After ending a romance with Hudson last summer, Lance Armstrong was suddenly able to father children. Following their divorce over a year ago, Black Crowes lead-singer Chris Robinson mounted a career comeback releasing his bands first album in seven years. And look at Owen Wilson. Their break-up last year forced the 'Wedding Crashers' star to deal with his depression and get the help he needed. Granted, it required him ending up in a hospital after a suicide attempt, but still
 
The moral of this story is that this new 'electronic flirting' interest for the Aussie could be an auspicious sign for Scott's career. My advice to him? Turn this new friendship into a fling through the Hawaiian/West Coast Swing ' or as long as her new 'Bride Wars' film stays in the theaters (guessing the latter would come sooner). Then break up and watch the majors roll in!
 
' Dena Davis
Posted Jan. 12

 

 
Strolling through the Rolex Womens World Rankings Monday morning, I noticed that Annika Sorenstam is not listed. Last week, she was No. 3 behind Lorena Ochoa and Yani Tseng. We all know that she retired but that doesn't mean that past results shouldnt remain in the system.
 
An educated guess says that someone (either from the LPGA or Sorenstams camp) suggested that the Swedes name be deleted so it wouldnt continue to fall in the rankings when previous results drop out of the two-year ranking window. The LPGAs Web site says those eligible for the rankings are any professional or amateur woman golfer who has completed in at least 15 official events over a two-year rolling period is eligible to be ranked. Under this criteria she ought to stay in the system until she falls out, which would probably be later this year. Also, what happens if she wants to return for an event this year or next? Will the LPGA then place her back into the rankings? Odd.
 
I understand wanting to save Sorenstam from embarrassment, but this doesnt pass the smell test. If she did remain ranked, and her name did fall, everyone would know the reason.
 
An e-mail to the LPGA seeking comment was not immediately returned.
 
' Jay Coffin
Posted Jan. 12

 

 
Ryan Palmer finished 31st at Kapalua, his second start in the lucrative season opener, but his card of 78-75-72-66 only told half the story. Six weeks ago Palmer had surgery on his right shoulder to shave down a bone spur. Palmer, who won the Ginn Sur mer Classic in the fall, probably could have used more time on the DL, but he wasnt going to pass on a trip to Maui.
 
Palmer planned to return to Texas after the Mercedes-Benz to rest his shoulder, likely playing again at the FBR Open.
 
' Rex Hoggard
Posted Jan. 12

 

 
KAPALUA, Hawaii ' I bumped into Boo Weekleys mom in the clubhouse at The Plantation Course. Youre not surprised that her name is Patsy, are you? In our Friday night interview on Golf Channel, I asked Boo if he had sushi for dinner the previous evening. Without hesitating he said, Nope, pork chops. Said Patsy, I dont know how he thinks so quick and talks so slow. Boo did more for his image signing autographs and sharing some laughs with Golf Channel after a four-putt double on the 18th than he could have ever done making double-eagle. The fans see it and say, He gets it; hes a good guy. The Tour should use the episode as an example to every young player coming through the ranks.
 
' Rich Lerner
Posted Jan. 12

 

 
Whenever Tiger Woods returns, it can't be soon enough for him. At the unveiling of the design for his Cliffs Communities golf course near Asheville, N.C. in early November, he rolled his eyes over a hang-dog frown when asked off-camera how it was going, all this waiting. Doctors, family members, others in his entourage had all been counseling Tiger to use restraint in his rehab ' a hard sell for the admitted workout junkie. And Tiger is not just any workout addict ' he adds that otherworldly focus to it. His natural inclination is to push it and get back to what he loves most about his day job: competition at the highest level ' a level he sets himself, by the bye.
 
Still, Woods is too smart to risk the entire second half of his career by coming back too fast on less-than-completely-healed stilts. So when he comes back, it will be on better legs. A more sobering thought, though: In seven, 10, 15, however many years, whether its injury or ennui that does it, what will golf do when Tiger stands down? Have Kobe, Carmelo, and Lebron, despite their immense talent, managed to bring the NBA back to those glory days when we wouldnt dream of missing an MJ-Magic matchup?
 
' Adam Barr
Posted Jan. 11

 

 
KAPALUA, Hawaii ' We dont know the exact date of Tiger Woods return, but when the big cat does come back Nikes prepared with what Im told is a home run ad that has already been shot. A source tells me that the spot features several players, including Anthony Kim, chatting happily in the locker room. Theyre discussing just how well its been going for them on Tour. Suddenly, Tiger walks in and greets the guys. Their enthusiasm drains away as they realize the partys over with Tiger back. Word is that its vintage Nike: very funny, and a definite buzz generator.
 
' Rich Lerner
Posted Jan. 10

 

 
KAPALUA, Hawaii ' Geoff Ogilvy hit the longest drive of his PGA Tour career Friday on the par-4 17th hole, a 415-year bomb. Through the years, ridiculously long drives on the final two holes have become a Kapalua tradition. Of course, if it ever snowed here, both holes would be black diamond runs, but nonetheless it's fun to watch.
 
Here's the statistical anomaly of 2008: The Plantation course averaged the shortest on Tour in driving distance ' a mere 255 yards for the field. That was a full 53 yards shorter than the driving distance averages for both Tour events held in Nevada.
 
' Jerry Foltz
Posted Jan. 10

 

 
KAPALUA, Hawaii ' On Friday our Golf Channel spotlight player of the week Ernie Els told us the story of landing to refuel his jet on some remote runway in Africa. Evidently, he had to barter with the locals in order to refuel his jet so Els traded them some vodka.
 
Mark Rolfing then related a similar story of having been on a flight that required a similar amount of deal making to secure some vodka. All I could think of was how happy I am that this never happened to me. Most of my flights run out of vodka.
 
' Jerry Foltz
Posted Jan. 9

 

 
KAPALUA, Hawaii ' Having followed Geoff Ogilvy for the entire round, I understand his frustration with finishing with two consecutive three-putts (albeit from very long range both times).
 
The irony was that earlier in the broadcast, my on-air colleagues had documented how Ogilvy was once a self-admitted hot-head on the course and now he seemed to be as cool, calm and collected as anybody. Well, consecutive three-putts could drive Ghandi to the brink, so it wasn't a huge surprise when he blew by the interview area and hopped in a cart destined for the clubhouse.
 
To his credit, Ogilvys uncharacteristic behavior lasted a short time and the smile on his face let us all know that the underside of this newly turned leaf in his demeanor could be permanent. When he came over to me to do the interview, an interview in which he demonstrated his immense likability, he sheepishly grinned and said, 'Once in a while, everybody needs 10 minutes.'
 
' Jerry Foltz
Posted Jan. 9

 

 
Have to admit we were a tad surprised to hear the report that Tiger Woods may return to Tour life at next months WGC-Match Play Championship. To be clear, were surprised but very thankful.
 
It is curious, however, that Woods would pick the Match Play to make his much anticipated 2009 debut. The Dove Mountain layout is hardly the most user-friendly walking course and the weather in the Tucson, Ariz., area can get p

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