Shag Bag Blog March

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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.
 

 
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Dave Stockton, the two-time PGA Championship winner and former U.S. Ryder Cup captain, was known for his putting prowess, a skill he shares today as a teacher.
 
Stockton, who worked Tuesday helping Yani Tseng and Morgan Pressel prepare for the Kraft Nabisco Championship, said he didn’t marvel over Tiger Woods’ latest clutch putt, the 15-footer at the 72nd hole that won the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday.
 
“I knew he was going to make it,” Stockton said. “I don’t think I’m ever going to miss a putt, and I’m sure Tiger doesn’t think so, either.”
 
Stockton said his putting stroke didn’t look all that different from Woods’, but there’s a fundamental difference in their approach. Stockton said his left hand was dominant in the stroke, but Woods’ right hand is dominant.
 
“What I enjoy is the mental imagery you see him going through before he putts,” Stockton said. “You can see that he’s seeing the putt in his mind, that he’s really picturing what the ball is going to do.”
 
– Randall Mell
Posted March 31

 

 
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Beware the Ailing Golfer, Part II.
 
Three weeks after Phil Mickelson won the CA Championship at Doral with a virus, or food poisoning, Paula Creamer is hoping a mysterious intestinal ailment will make her equally dangerous in the LPGA’s first major of the year, this week’s Kraft Nabisco Championship.
 
Creamer has been plagued by recurring intestinal problems since the 2008 season-ending ADT Championship more than four months ago. She was hospitalized and treated for peritonitis before the final round of the ADT, but she says she has never really shaken the problem. She withdrew before the first round of the J Golf Phoenix International last week but is preparing to play this week.
 
“I would like to know what’s wrong with me,” Creamer said.
 
Creamer said she’s scheduled to undergo a battery of tests next Wednesday at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women in Orlando. She says she has lost six pounds in the last five days while struggling to keep food down. She knows what would make her feel better, though. She wants to win her first major this week.
 
“I’ve played my best golf when I haven’t felt well,” she said.
 
– Randall Mell
Posted March 31

 

 
Jason Day withdrew from last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational and reports were the young Australian was having trouble breathing. We contacted Day’s swing coach/caddie Col Swatton early Tuesday who said Day underwent a full physical and an assortment of tests in an attempt to figure out what was wrong with him.
 
No word yet on Day’s status, but following his runner-up finish at the Puerto Rico Open let’s hope more medical woes don’t slow his development. Stay tuned.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 31

 

 
As an employee for a golf television network I want to thank Tiger Woods for returning to the game. Not only is the sport more fun to watch when he's around, but it's good for business.
 
NBC Sports said the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which Woods won with a dramatic final-hole birdie, drew an overnight rating of 4.9 with a 10 share. According to Nielsen Media Research, that's higher than last year's British Open and PGA Championship. In fact, it's the highest since the 2008 U.S. Open, which was also won in dramatic fashion by Woods.
 
People love to say, 'No one is bigger than the game.' But Tiger is.
 
– Mercer Baggs
Posted March 30

 

 
Tiger Woods wasn’t the only Masters contender rounding into shape in time for the season’s first major. Quietly plodding along in the same group as Woods, not that many noticed, Zach Johnson finished alone in third place.
 
It was Johnson’s first top 10 since his victory at the Sony Open and a good sign for a player who spent most of the Florida Swing sick and on his back.
 
“I got sick about five weeks ago, and I think I'm really now starting to get healthy. I was really sick at Doral and Tampa and probably shouldn't have played, but I forced myself to play,” Johnson said. “All in all, you'd like to peak every week, but I'm excited for a week off, and I'm looking forward to Augusta.”
 
Next stop for Johnson is Frederica Golf Club in St Simons Island, Ga., where he will continue a routine he began two years ago prior to his victory at Augusta National. Officials at Frederica dial the club’s greens up to 14 on the stimpmeter and closely crop chipping areas to simulate conditions at Augusta National.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 30

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Tiger Woods was back at the Match Play because it was his first event back since his leg injury. He was back at Doral because it was his first stroke-play event.
 
Now, Woods is officially back, as in back in the winner's circle with a dramatic birdie putt for victory on the 72nd hole of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
 
– Jay Coffin
Posted March 29

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Scratch earlier item. Sean O'Hair didn't wait until the 17th to rinse his title chances, spinning his approach back off the green and into the shallows adjacent the 16th.
 
Tiger Woods played the hole as Arnold Palmer designed it, as a par 5, for his first lead since June.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 29

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – So Tiger Woods makes birdie on No. 15 and heads to the 16th with authority only to wait on the tee box for a couple minutes while marshalls allowed throngs and throngs of fans to cross the 16th fairway. Can you say clueless?
 
The man is on a mission. Get out of his way.
 
– Jay Coffin
Posted March 29

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – The thought just occured, as Sean O'Hair and Tiger Woods inch their way to a dramatic conclusion that the last time O'Hair found himself locked in a duel with one of the game's goliaths it was also at another fearsome Florida track with a demanding par-3 17th hole that is ringed by water.
 
At the 2007 Players Championship, O'Hair misclubed and hit his tee shot into the wash behind the island 17th and lost to Phil Mickelson.
 
The good news this time around? Long at Bay Hill's 17th is a bunker.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 29

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Hunter Mahan just (get this) five-putted the 16th green. Yup. Five-putted.
 
He hit his approach on the par-4 to 43 feet, 10 inches, hit it 6 feet, 11 inches past the hole, then rolled it 2 feet, 9 inches past, hit it 2 feet, 8 inches past, then finally made one from 2 feet, 9 inches for a triple bogey 7.
 
Ouch.
 
– Jay Coffin
Posted March 29

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Don’t know what’s going to happen over the next couple hours here at Bay Hill but it still wouldn’t be a surprise to see Sean O’Hair put together a good score over the last eight holes and win the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
 
Birdies definitely are still out there. Kenny Perry recorded three consecutive birdies on Nos. 14-16 and Pat Perez just birdied the 11th and 12th holes.
 
The par-5 12th will be a key hole for the O’Hair-Tiger Woods duo as it’s the lone remaining par-5 in the tournament.
 
– Jay Coffin
Posted March 29

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – At the turn of Sunday's Bay Hill title bout and, to few people's surprise, the world No. 1 has trimmed three shots off Sean O'Hair's lead.
 
Give the beanpole credit, however. He's had to coax too many 4 footers for par into the hole and still has Woods at arm's length. Just a hunch, but we see this one going to the 18th.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 29

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Well, well, well. The dreaded two-shot swing just jumped up and bit Sean O'Hair.
 
After seemingly holding off an early charge by Tiger Woods, O'Hair three-putted the par-3 seventh hole after Woods made a 4-footer for birdie in the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
 
That takes the lead from three down to one with 11 holes remaining.
 
But as they say – whoever they are – there is still plenty of golf left to play.
 
– Jay Coffin
Posted March 29

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – And just like that Sean O'Hair's five-shot lead over Tiger Woods has diminished down to two after just three holes at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
 
Funny how quickly it can happen. And thing is, O'Hair hasn't played that poorly yet. He's 1 over after a bogey on No. 3, but Woods threw lawn darts in on the second and third holes, making birdie on both.
 
The game officially is on.
 
– Jay Coffin
Posted March 29

 

 
Lucas Glover

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – It’s good sport on PGA Tour ranges to check each player’s divot pattern. Some player’s patterns are normal and haphazard, with divots going in every different direction. Others are clinical, almost calculating, with divots forming a single, perfectly straight line with equal depths.
 
Case in point, Lucas Glover's divot (above). He prepared for his rainy final round Sunday at Bay Hill with a textbook example of perfection.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 29

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Rain has pushed back starting times at the Arnold Palmer Invitational nearly two hours bringing in the possibility of a Monday finish. According to one Tour official, a full two-hour delay does not allow enough daylight for players to finish.
 
As if sleeping on a 54-hole lead and a Sunday pairing with Tiger Woods wasn’t enough, Sean O’Hair now has more idle time. Perfect.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 29

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Tiger Woods simply didn’t want to mar his card any more than he already had with a mood-changing double bogey at Bay Hill’s 18th hole. That his 23-footer earned him a spot in Sunday’s final group was simply a serendipitous twist for television executive and golf writers.
 
Woods played with front-runner Sean O’Hair in the final group last year at Bay Hill, shooting a respectable 69 to finish third to Woods’ closing 66 for his fifth victory at Arnold Palmer’s tournament.
 
Woods lives for a spot in the final round, but if O’Hair’s words and body language late Saturday were any indication he will not show up at the first tee overwhelmed or even overly interested in his playing companions.
 
“I don’t think I can do anything that can make him play worse,” said O’Hair, who begins Sunday’s final round five shots clear of Woods, while last year he started the final turn tied with four others, including Woods. “I just need to focus on me and my game.”
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 28

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Bit of a surreal few moments late Saturday after Tiger Woods dumped his approach shot into the hazard ringing Bay Hill's 18th green.
 
After an extended search by at least 12 people, Woods marched back to the far side of the lake to try it again and floated his fourth shot to 25 feet. Strange stuff, but not as strange as Woods blinking so close to lead.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 28

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – About the only positive of the windy weather today is that No. 12, the longest hole on the course, is playing downwind. Leader Sean O'Hair took advantage and hit a 315-yard drive at this 580-yard hole.
 
The drive rolled about 30 yards, which hasn't been the norm this week. While players have enjoyed perfect greens, the fairways are also lush, and consequently slow by Tour standards.
 
– Erik Peterson
Posted March 28

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – With Robert Allenby's bogey at No. 9, Hunter Mahan is now the only player on the course with an under-par round going (1-under through 14). Four other players are in the clubhouse having shot in red figures today (B. Snedeker, Z. Johnson, C. Campbell, L. Glover).
 
And the morning groups thought they had it rough...
 
– Erik Peterson
Posted March 28

 

 
Tiger Woods

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Bay Hill was rocked Saturday afternoon by the landing of the space shuttle at nearby Kennedy Space Center.
 
The double sonic booms caused many players, including Tiger Woods, to back away from their shots. Many players, accustomed to Woods’ regular runs at Bay Hill, are forgiven for mistaking the boom for another charge by the world No. 1.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 28

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Not often a player misses the cut and draws more of a media circus than some of the contenders. Thus is the world of Ryo Ishikawa.
 
After rounds of 76-71, cards that included a quadruple bogey-9 at the par-5 sixth on Thursday, Japan's teen sensation hung around Arnie's place after his MC, spending extra time on the practice putting green and firmly fixed within the media bubble that always follows him.
 
As the leaders made the turn, no fewer than four photographers and two video crews were focused on the teen, blind to the leaders as they marched by.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 28

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – The round of the day so far has been turned in by Brandt Snedeker, who shot a bogey-free 3-under 67 today. The smiley southern gentleman is now at even for the tournament and has vaulted 37 spots up the leaderboard to T11. He's one of only three players to play the front nine under par so far today, and among those he's the only one without a bogey.
 
– Erik Peterson
Posted March 28

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – As Ben Crane prepared to hit his tee shot at No. 1 the starter confidently proclaimed, 'Next up, touring pro, Ben Curtis.' The gallery unknowingly applauded before Crane smiled, looked back and murmured, 'Curtis?'
 
The starter then corrected himself by re-announcing the two-time PGA Tour winner. Crane proceeded to stripe his three wood down the middle of the fairway. With today's tough conditions it probably won't be the last time he has to rebound after a miscue.
 
– Erik Peterson
Posted March 28

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Oftentimes, an early tee time allows players to make their birdies before tough conditions take hold. On Saturday at Bay Hill that's not the case. If you don't believe me, just ask Jeff Klauk. He made birdie at the par-4 ninth hole yesterday, but with the hole playing into a stiff breeze this morning, he could only manage 237 yards off the tee. With a 3-wood in hand, his approach ballooned and came up short of the green. He went on to make double bogey.
 
The wind is expected to blow all day, with gusts up to 35 mph. Those players who control their trajectory will undoubtedly climb the leaderboard.
 
Easier said than done.
 
– Erik Peterson
Posted March 28

 


 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Tiger Woods found the greens on Friday at Bay Hill Club to be good preparation for the Masters in two weeks.
 
'The greens are getting really fast,' said Woods, who fired a 1-under-par 69 to remain in contention for his sixth Arnold Palmer Invitational title and second in a row. 'They're starting to repel shots. It's a U.S. Open-type feel except the fairways are a heck of a lot wider.'
 
Woods, who recorded six consecutive one-putts during his round on Thursday, had a streak of four in a row (holes 4 through 7) on Friday and finished the day with only 25 putts overall, despite very windy conditions. The greens at Bay Hill are very similar in speed to those just a few miles down the road at his home course, Isleworth. Those greens will be shined and buffed next week in preparation for Augusta National.
 
'They're going to start speeding them up I think next Tuesday,' said Woods with a very large grin. 'I think the putting green is rolling somewhere around 12, 13 [on the Stimpmeter]. But as far as the golf course, it's not quite up to speed yet. They'll get it next week, and I'll be out there every day.'
 
When asked how much he'll be out there, Woods didn't hesitate.
 
'Have light, will play,' he said.
 
– David Allen
Posted March 27

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Count Tiger Woods among those players happy to see Greg Norman back at Augusta. Norman will be making his first appearance at Augusta National since 2002 when Tiger and Co. convene for the season's first major in two weeks. It will be Norman's 23rd appearance overall at the Masters.
 
'I think we're all looking forward to seeing him again,' said Woods, who won the third of his four green jackets in '02 . 'Hopefully, it's not his last time [at the Masters], but it might be.'
 
Norman has come close to owning his own green jacket on several occasions, most notably 1996, when he took a six-shot lead into the final round only to shoot a 78 and finish runner-up to Nick Faldo. Norman has been a runner-up at Augusta National three times and eight times overall in major competitions. Woods has been a runner-up in his last two Masters, but he can't imagine the pain Norman must feel having nearly been fitted for a jacket so many times before only to come up empty.
 
'It's amazing for someone who's had such a great career and come so close, you almost feel like he's won the tournament, even though he hasn't,' said Woods following Friday's second round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. 'He's been so close so many times, and it's hard to believe he's not in the [Champions] locker room. Of all the great champions you would think that he would've won one, especially at that course because it sets up so well for him.'
 
– David Allen
Posted March 27

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Anthony Kim has had his share of medical problems in recent months. Batting practice at Fenway Park last fall strained muscles he had not used in years and an encounter with a horse in New Zealand nearly broke his jaw.
 
On Thursday there was more news from the young American star’s medical file. He withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational due to what sources close to the situation called flu-like symptoms.
 
Kim tried to play, going on an IV to replace fluids and resting, but he could not make his first start at Bay Hill. His plan was to recharge this week and be ready to play next week’s Shell Houston Open as a tune-up to the Masters.
 
If that doesn’t work, we’re trying to dig up a cell number for Dr. Gregory House.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 27

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – On the eve of the Masters cutoff we have more World Golf Ranking fun.
 
Almost until Davis Love III teed off on Thursday he was mulling his Augusta National plight. Love took last week off and moved up a spot in the ranking to 47th. If he stays inside the top 50 the 20-time Tour winner will earn a return trip to the Masters.
 
The rub, however, is that if DLIII skipped the Arnold Palmer Invitational there was a good mathematical chance he would hold his spot in the top 50, while if he misses the cut at Bay Hill – he struggled to an opening 73 and was outside the cut line early Friday – the chances of him slipping increase.
 
Talk about the Ides of March, to play or not to play.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 27

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Check out Padraig Harrington in his second-round pairing with Tiger Woods at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
 
Harrington's more rabbit than tortoise now.
 
Even Woods and his caddie, Steve Williams, noticed the difference in their first-round pairing.
 
“We were talking out there, Stevie and I, about how his routine has changed,” Woods said. “It’s certainly much quicker than it has been in the past. I mean, whatever he’s doing is working.”
 
Harrington also had an observation about Woods. He noticed a difference in how Woods’ swing has changed since undergoing reconstructive knee surgery.
 
“He doesn’t seem to hit the ball as hard, that’s for sure,” Harrington said. “He seems to be concentrating more on his rhythm.”
 
– Randall Mell
Posted March 27

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Vaughn Taylor just completed a crazy front nine to vault to the top of the leaderboard Friday morning. His 4 under 31 included a hole-in-one, four birdies, two pars and two bogeys. The ace came on the par 3, 191-yard seventh hole with a 6-iron.
 
– Jay Coffin
Posted March 27

 

 

People will go anywhere to get a glimpse at Tiger. Maybe these kids should look into Boo's new line of camo golf clothing.

– Rick Currey
Posted March 26

 

 

Despite being in the woods, in a lake and in a bunker, Tiger still finds himself on the leaderboard.

– Rick Currey
Posted March 26

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – I'm not sure why, but at the diabolical par-5 sixth, Tiger took a line off the tee about 50 yards farther left than his playing partners Padraig Harrington and Mark Wilson. As soon as the ball left the club face Tiger looked down in disgust and said a couple words I'd rather not repeat. He re-teed, took a more 'normal' line and hit it through the fairway.
 
– Erik Peterson
Posted March 26

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – A U.S. Postal Service mail carrier got an unexpected perk during her route this afternoon. As she was placing letters in a mail box at a house behind the 5th tee, she stopped to observe Tiger Woods on the tee box. She paused long enough to watch him pull his drive left into the rough. Nonetheless, it's a good story to tell the co-workers.
 
– Randall Mell
Posted March 26

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – This is no way to work on your putting. With all the talk about his cold flat stick at Doral, Tiger Woods showed he didn't even need it at the first, pitching in from 40 yards. It elicited the first Tiger Roar of the week.
 
Phil Mickelson chipped in four times at Doral. Tiger's off to a great start if he wants to match him.
 
– Randall Mell
Posted March 26

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – It's almost as much fun to listen to Brad Faxon talk about putting as it is watching him putt.
 
With Tiger Woods about to go off in the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, here is a leftover quote from a conversation I had in the locker room with Faxon this week about Tiger's putting stroke, a quote I didn't work into my story on this website about Woods' putting. It relates to how Faxon sees Woods as more 'visual' in his approach than mechanical.
 
'I don't think Tiger is thinking about what's happening with his putter,' Faxon said. 'I think his mind is out there, his mind is out there where he wants the ball to go. I'm not sure, you'd have to ask Tiger, but that's what I think.'
 
I once asked Faxon if he considered his putter to be a tool or a dance partner.
 
Faxon said he didn't consider it to be either. He thought his putter was more like a paint brush. If Woods is as visual in his approach to putting as Faxon suspects, then Woods probably plays with a paint brush, too.
 
– Randall Mell
Posted March 26

 

 
tiger watney

Tiger Woods and Nick Watney discuss the possibility of Watney winning another tournament Tiger usually dominates. Unlike the Buick Invitational, however, Tiger is actually in the field this week...

 
– Golf Guy
Posted March 26

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Even with a driver in his hand, Boo Weekley stepped off his tee shot twice at the eighth hole Thursday morning at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
 
The winds are blowing at 16 mph from the southeast over Bay Hill, but it's the big gusts that are playing havoc with shots.
 
Weekley ended striping his drive at No. 8, but he saw his quick start erased by the winds.
 
After making birdie at the first two holes to take the very early lead, Weekley hooked his tee shot in the water at No. 3, where even a light wind hurt him. His second bogey came after his wedge into the fifth hole ballooned in the wind and fell short of the green into deep rough.
 
The winds are only expected to get worse in the afternoon, with gusts up to 25 mph expected. Controlling trajectory will be key today.
 
– Randall Mell
Posted March 26

 

 

Tiger Woods warms up before his first round. I wonder if in the back of his mind he is thinking, 'Which has more square feet – this putting green or my trophy room?'

 
– Golf Guy
Posted March 26

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Jack Nicklaus has been a long-time proponent of changing the golf ball because it travels too far. According to the man who is chasing his major championships record, the ball is also flying much straighter today, taking away some of the advantage that the best shotmakers have.
 
'I grew up maneuvering the ball, but it doesn't move as much now,' Tiger Woods said during his Wednesday afternoon press conference at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. 'Hank [Haney] and I were talking about this not too long ago. The game has changed with the new golf balls because the ball doesn't move from right to left or left to right as much as it used to.'
 
Woods says that he spends more time today on controlling trajectory than he does shaping his shots.
 
'Shotmaking is more about trajectory now, moving the ball up and down to control your distances, rather than shaping the ball into the wind like you used to,' said Woods. 'It's changed a little bit and, obviously, you have to change with the times.'
 
– David Allen
Posted March 26

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Anthony Kim won't play in his first Arnold Palmer Invitational after all.
 
Kim, who extended his schedule internationally this winter, withdrew Wednesday afternoon due to illness.
 
Here's the statement Kim gave PGA Tour officials:
 
'I am very disappointed to have had to withdraw from the Arnold Palmer Invitational today due to the flu. I was looking forward to playing in this tournament for the first time and am very appreciative of the medical assistance that Mr. Palmer, Tournament Director Scott Wellington and the rest of the tournament staff arranged for me this week as I tried to get myself to the point where I could play. I will return to Dallas to recuperate and continue my preparation for the Masters.'
 
– Randall Mell
Posted March 25

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Bobby Orr played fearlessly all those years as a defenseman for the Boston Bruins, but he confided something to fellow New Englander Brad Faxon on the practice putting green at Bay Hill Wednesday morning.
 
“He said he’s nervous as hell playing with Arnold,” Faxon said.
 
That would be Arnold Palmer. Orr, the youngest player ever inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, teed it up with the King in the Arnold Palmer Invitational Pro-Am. They’ve played together before, but that didn’t ease the tension Orr was feeling.
 
Faxon, 47, who makes his home in Barrington, R.I., has his own story for Orr about nervous encounters on big stages.
 
“When I was 8 years old and playing hockey, there was nobody in the world I wanted to meet more than Bobby Orr,” Faxon said.
 
Faxon was 31 when he finally met Orr at the New England Classic. As the leader going into the final round in 1992, Faxon arrived at the course attempting to block out all the distractions that come with trying to win near home.
 
“I had my head down trying to get in the locker room without seeing anyone, and I see these legs coming up the stairs with all these scars on his knees and I look up and it’s Bobby Orr,” Faxon said. “He says, `Hey, good luck today, Brad,’ and I got so nervous. That was the first time I met him, and we talked a little while. I was so excited to meet him.”
 
By the way, Faxon went on to win.
 
– Randall Mell
Posted March 25

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Steve Marino is not immune to a new look, but even by his standards his Monday touch up was unexpected.
 
Marino had let his mane get to about shoulder length in recent years, something of a signature for the relaxed Tour pro. But he decided earlier this week he’d had enough and shaved his hair down to almost nothing.
 
“I’ve done it before, but this time it had gotten really long and it was tough to cut,” Marino smiled. “I just felt like changing it up and my mom hated it.”
 
Asked if he thought the new look would improve his play Marino laughed and offered, “I’ll tell you (on Thursday).”
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 25

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Arnold Palmer weighed in Wednesday at Bay Hill about myriad issues: the economy, Tiger Woods, Ryo Ishikawa and the condition of his beloved Bay Hill. But nothing got more of a response than when he was asked about the state of his golf game.
 
Palmer says he was talked into playing in the Wednesday afternoon pro-am here for the Arnold Palmer Invitational where he was paired alongside hockey legend Bobby Orr.
 
“My game is – well, I really know what it’s like to have a fun game, because it sure as hell doesn’t have anything to do with the real strategy of playing golf,” Palmer said. “I play here in the Shootout and most of these guys are accountants or stockbrokers or engineers or home builders, and they all beat me.
 
“I hate it, but I still love golf.”
 
And we still love Arnie.
 
– Jay Coffin
Posted March 25

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – One putt, just 16 feet, could have made all the difference. Of course there were 74 other shots in Tom Lehman’s final round at the Transitions Championship, but that will be the one the media and fans, and maybe even Lehman, fixate upon.
 
Lehman tied for eighth at Innisbrook, one shot behind Steve Flesch in seventh place or about $30,000 less than he would have gotten had he holed that 16 footer. That difference, combined with his 2008 earnings, would have pushed Lehman into fully-exempt status.
 
Instead, Lehman’s miss forced him to use a one-time career money exemption to play the remainder of the season and will likely keep him out of the Players Championship.
 
Lehman, who struggled with injuries in 2008 and finished outside the top 125 in earnings and FedEx Cup points, was playing on a minor medical exemption. He had six events to earn about $176,000, but fell a little more than $16,000 short, or one birdie putt at the 72nd hole near Tampa.
 
“The hard part was not getting into the Players. He loves that tournament,” said Andy Martinez, Lehman’s longtime caddie.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 24

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – First double-take of the week occurred on the 18th green Tuesday afternoon at Bay Hill Club & Lodge. No, Tiger Woods was not spotted playing the demanding par 4 left handed – although, let’s be honest, given the man’s track record at Arnie’s place it may be the only thing that slows him.
 
No, we spotted former NBA great Jerry West getting a first-hand look at Bay Hill. No word on why the former Laker was on property, but given the weary look he was offering the water-lined 18th green he may have been thinking that even Wilt Chamberlain didn’t play defense like this place.
 

– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 24

 

 
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The GolfChannel.com crew got a crack at TPC Sawgrass' fearsome 17th. The results? Mixed.
 
Editorial director Jay Coffin hit his shot to 25 feet but three-putted for bogey. Senior writer Randy Mell hit his first attempt into the water on his way to an all-world bogey. Your scribe here lived the dream, playing his tee ball to 60 feet and two-putting for par. One more item off our bucket list.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 23

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Here's one way to get your short game practice in. Johnson Wagner and Lucas Glover are working around the chipping green at Bay Hill, in and out of bunkers and gnarly lies from the rough, playing closest to the hole. Not sure what's on the line ... but not much is outside of 2 feet.
 
Oh, I see. It's an ACC thing: Clemson (Glover) vs. Virginia Tech (Wagner).
 
– Adam Barr
Posted March 23

 

 
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The highlight of Monday’s Players Championship media day was the unveiling of a “Dress Sergio” contest. Fans will vote online to pick one of three outfits for the Spaniard to wear for the second round this year at TPC Sawgrass.
 
We were among the first in line to vote, but we have to wonder where was the collective wisdom when Garcia showed up on the first tee three years ago at Royal Liverpool dressed in canary-yellow, hardly the power look someone is looking for when they go head-to-head with Tiger Woods.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 23

 

 
Tom Lehman is hardly the first 50-something in search of an exit strategy. The part-time-Champions Tour player was slowed by tendonitis and a game that was is in “shambles” to start the season, but he’s holding out hope that he can end the PGA Tour chapter of his career on a high note.
 
Win or lose on Sunday at the Transitions Championship, Lehman is eyeing a way to leave the Tour on his terms. A victory would be nice, but the perfect storybook ending would come later this summer when the PGA Championship is played at Hazeltine National in Minnesota.
 
“I shouldn't open my mouth. But that to me seems like the way to retire, PGA Championship in my hometown, go play, play well, say bye-bye,” Lehman said.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 22

 

 
“Liked your pick this week,” smiled Sea Island (Ga.) Resort’s Todd Anderson a few days ago.
 
Anderson was referring to our “Fantasy Island” selection for this week’s Transitions Championship - Charles Howell III, one of Anderson’s Tour stable.
 
Truth be told, CHIII was a gut reaction for the “Fantasy Island” crew, in large part based on how he looked at Monday’s Tavistock Cup, while Anderson’s confidence was anchored in fact and function. “He’s been hitting it great. He just needs to hole some putts,” Anderson offered.
 
Through two rounds at Innisbrook, Howell has hit 23 of 26 fairways (88 percent) and rattled off a leaderboard shaking birdie-eagle-par-birdie-birdie-birdie run on Nos. 18-5 on Friday, but ranks 44th in putting. We tried to get Anderson to pick our lottery numbers this week, but he declined.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 21

 

 
During a casual conversation with Dale Lynch earlier this year, the swing coach eschewed his normally reticent manner and gushed, “He is hitting it so good.” Four days later, Geoff Ogilvy, the most high-profile of Lynch’s stable, won his second WGC-Match Play title, his second title of 2009 and a spot in the conversation among the game’s best players. The rub is Lynch wasn’t talking about Ogilvy, who he reckoned was a “6” on a 1-to-10 scale. Instead, Lynch’s praise was for Mathew Goggin and the Tasmanian has quietly been backing up Lynch’s assessment.
 
After closing 2008 with a pair of runners-up in Australia and a third-place showing at the Frys.com Open, Goggin has three top-20s this year, including a tie for sixth at Torrey Pines. He’s back on the leaderboard this week at the Transitions Championship, holding down third place after an opening 67.
 
His resume suggests Goggin’s due for his Tour breakthrough. Lynch’s hyperbole may be a sign of bigger things to come.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 20

 

 
In his quest to return to the Masters, Davis Love III has had to make many decisions regarding his schedule. This week’s Transitions Championship may have been the toughest.
 
Love moved up two spots in the World Ranking last week to 48th thanks to his tie for 28th at Doral. In order to earn another trip to Augusta National, Love must remain inside the top 50 through next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.
 
Like most of us, Love has tried to understand the World Ranking math and failed. Earlier this year Love took a week off and moved up two spots. So instead of playing for the fourth consecutive week, Love went hunting.
 
As best we can tell, Love’s ranking should hold, but only because it was a hunting trip. Had he gone fishing or snowboarding, who knows how far he would have dropped.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 19

 

 
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – Hi! My name is Carling Coffing, a professional golfer on the Duramed Futures Tour with a passion for the camera and high heel shoes. I’m going to be posting videos in the LPGA video section every couple of weeks about my life on tour, because this is quite the experience. It’s a BIG year on tour because they are giving 10 LPGA cards to top money-earners at the end of the year. I want one, but it’s not going to be easy.
 
I’m playing 17 tournaments in 25 weeks across 14 states. I want to show the world how the girls on tour literally LIVE out of their cars, stay in shape during tournaments, keep nutritionally sound while hitting the truck stops and dealing with the same 144 girls from week-to-week. DRAMA?!
 
A little bit about me – I’m 23 years old, a 2008 graduate of Ohio State where I was a football broadcaster for Coach Jim Tressel. My dad is my caddie, former All-American wrestler and No. 1 coach in my heart. With the tough wrestler mentality, things get heated! I plan on doing a lot of push-ups this year. My sweetheart mom will be my camera person and best friend throughout the season. I also have Type 1 Diabetes and will be managing my diabetic pump and blood sugars on a regular basis. I told you it was going to be crazy.
 
I can’t wait to tell my story and the story of my friends on tour. The first video is already posted. Hope to hear from you soon.
 
– Carling Coffing
Posted March 18

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – I've seen Tiger play more than a few times, and this was probably the most pedestrian round I've ever witnessed out of him. He didn't hit many loose shots, but I didn't see him hit any great ones either. Strangely, I still walked away amazed. It's incredible that on a Tuesday the guy still walks, talks, and acts like the No. 1 golfer on the planet all the while keeping as cool as a fresh cup of Lake Nona lemonade.
 
– Erik Peterson
Posted March 17, 5:09 p.m. ET

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – I'm no ballistics expert, but after standing six feet from J.B. Holmes as he hit his tee shot on 18, I must say that the sound of ball-on-club that he creates at impact sounds like some sort of military weapon going off.
 
Playing partners Allenby, DiMarco and Rose were reactionless as bystanders exclaimed, 'Oh my ___,' and 'Holy ___.' I got the impression that his driving prowess has to annoy fellow Tour players, even if only a little bit.
 
– Erik Peterson
Posted March 17, 4:33 p.m. ET

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Perhaps in light of yesterday's loose language, Fairway Feherty has kept it rated G today on-air. This doesn't mean the cheerful lad from Northern Ireland is shying away from the fans. My favorite line out of him today was on the first tee: 'And introducing the only man I've seen smoke a hamburger and eat a cigar – Darren Clarke.'
 
– Erik Peterson
Posted March 17, 3:49 p.m. ET

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – En route from the 10th green to the 11th tee, Tiger one-hopped his golf ball to a 10-year-old boy who was waiting with his palm open. I thought the kid would be shocked at such a gift, until he whispered to his mother, 'That's three in a row!' He reached in his pocket and revealed he was already the proud owner of a Howell III Bridgestone ball and a Stenson Srixon ball. And I thought sleeves of the new Pro-V1s are expensive. I wonder if this kid has an eBay account...
 
– Erik Peterson
Posted March 17, 3:01 p.m. ET

 

 

An incognito John Daly returns to golf a little bit sooner than expected?

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – As Tiger's group makes the turn, one observation of his gallery stands out: The red shirts outnumber the blue ones about 70%-30%. I thought Lake Nona was the home team.
 
– Erik Peterson
Posted March 17, 2:30 p.m. ET

 

 

A party ON their pants: Two festive Tavistock Cup patrons refuse to
have their flair for fashion stifled by the red/blue team-color dress code.

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Looks like I just got shown up by this duo from Loud Mouth Golf, which has managed to prove that the Tavistock Cup and St. Patty's Day are a match made in wardrobe heaven.
 
– Erik Peterson
Posted March 17, 1:24 p.m. ET

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – The loudest roar I've heard today came from the 7th green, where Ben Curtis holed his fairway approach shot. A few moments later, as he walked to the next tee a fan asked enthusiastically, 'Hey Ben, how'd you do that!?' He shrugged his shoulders and laughed. 'I dunno, just hit 8-iron,' he said.
 
– Erik Peterson
Posted March 17, 1:10 p.m. ET

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – In a matchup of Masters champions from years ending in 8, Mark O'Meara holds a two-stroke advantage over Trevor Immelman, with both players birdieing the 431-yard par-4 8th hole.
 
Somewhere, Sandy Lyle just made birdie to keep pace.
 
– Erik Peterson
Posted March 17, 1:03 p.m. ET

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – If you've ever been a volunteer at a golf tournament you know it's one of the biggest piece-of-cake jobs in the sports world. But to be a Tavistock volunteer? Now that's a different story. These people are like air-traffic controllers. When a gentleman was caught walking in the fairway – a big no-no at this open-rope event – a volunteer asked him politely to move to the rough. The man ignored his request. 'Sir, I'm gonna need you to stop walking NOW, and step into the rough.' Rude? Perhaps, but it worked. Word to the wise: Don't mess with Tavistock.
 
– Erik Peterson
Posted March 17, 12:45 p.m. ET

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Two noteworthy quotes from the range Tuesday:
 
Fan: 'Hey Tiger, you still havin' fun?'
 
Tiger: (without looking up) 'Always.'
 

And as Tiger took his driver back for a swing, a photographer's shutter clicked rapidly.
 
Photographer, pointing at his camera lens: 'Sorry guys, I was just trying to focus.'
 
Steve Willams: 'So are we.'
 

Hey, at least he didn't rip the camera out of the guy's hands. Must be a Tuesday.
 

– Erik Peterson
Posted March 17, 11:31 a.m. ET

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – In the spirit of March Madness: I don't know if the Cameron Crazies know this, but the Tavistock Crazies are giving them a run for their money when it comes to showing pride and spirit. In my attempt to preserve my journalistic integrity I showed up to Lake Nona sans a 'Lake Nona Blue' or 'Isleworth Red' shirt. The nice folks at Will-Call told me there was a good chance I'd be turned away at the front gate. In addition, more than a few fans have given me cold stares – as if I was a Tarheel walking into that indoor stadium in Durham. So much for straddling the line...
 
– Erik Peterson
Posted March 17, 9:51 a.m. ET

 

 
Phil Mickelson proved the point, reminding those in his inner circle before teeing off on Sunday to “beware the injured golfer,” and delivering his first World Golf Championship title.
 
With that in mind, watch out for Boo Weekley this week at the Transitions Championship. Weekley had a spot lanced on the upper right side of his chest Honda Classic Sunday. Playing in pain, Weekley finished tied for 61st at Doral. He was feeling better heading into the Transitions, but not 100 percent yet. That’s code for keep an eye on Weekley.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 17

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – For the second time in less than a week Annika Sorenstam was on hand to watch Tiger Woods.
 
Sorenstam, a former Tavistock Cup participant and Lake Nona member, watched the world's No. 1 finish his Day 1 match, a one-stroke victory with John Cook over Henrik Stenson and Chris DiMarco.
 
Marriage and retirement seem to suit the Swede, but this much time near the competitive fray suggests she may be missing her days between the ropes
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 16, 3:51 p.m. ET

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Best line of the day courtesy on-course wordsmith David Feherty. Following Charles Howell III's perfectly balanced, high-octane drive at the first, the Northern Irishman sighed, 'That's one way to do it.'
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 16, 2:15 p.m. ET

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Familiar tale for Tiger Woods at the Tavistock Cup. The world's No. 1, who is teamed with Isleworth bedfellow John Cook, is striking the ball well but can't convert birdie chances.
 
As a result, Woods and Cook are all square in the four-ball medal match play format with Lake Nona's Chris DiMarco and Henrik Stenson.
 
We will avoid a lengthy explanation of medal match play. It would only lead to more confusion.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 16, 1:20 p.m. ET

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – The Tavistock Cup may be an exhibition, but don't tell Retief Goosen that. The Goose was the last one off the practice range Monday, grinding hard on his swing under the watchful eye of Gregor Jamieson, Lake Nona's affable director of golf.
 
'He feels like he's close,' Jamieson said. 'Everything looks good it's just a matter of it falling into place.'
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 16, 1:03 p.m. ET

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – If one was curious as to the intensity of the Tavistock Cup know this, the event will never be confused for the Ryder Cup.
 
Exhibit A: To begin his first-round match against Henrik Stenson Tiger Woods presented the Swede with a pair of unmentionables, a jab at Stenson's delicate disrobing when playing from a hazard last Thursday at Doral.
 
Just a hunch, but we are guessing there was no similar fun and games when Anthony Kim stepped to the first tee for his match with Sergio Garcia at Valhalla.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 16, 11:25 a.m. ET

 

 
ORLANDO, Fla. – Expect an announcement later today that Vijay Singh has withdrawn from this week’s Transitions Championship near Tampa, Fla.
 
Sources say Singh’s right knee, which he had operated on in January to repair torn cartilage after injuring it during last year’s Chevron World Challenge, started hurting him again last week at Doral.
 
Singh, who won the Tampa-area stop in 2004, has struggled this season, not finishing higher than 27th in four stroke-play events.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 16, 10:10 a.m. ET

 

 
DORAL, Fla. – In social circles it’s called owning the space. At the golf world’s most high-profile member-member it’s nothing short of mesmerizing.
 
The crew from rival Isleworth Country Club made the trip to cross-town rival Lake Nona Golf & Country Club for the Tavistock Cup in helicopters, shattering the Monday morning calm as they touched down in the middle of the 18th fairway.
 
It is, we can only assume, the modern take on how golf’s original showman Walter Hagen would set the tone with a grand entrance. It’s all about owning the space.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 16, 10:02 a.m. ET

 

 
DORAL, Fla. – The job of keeping Phil Mickelson hydrated, and upright, has fallen on caddie Bones Mackay.
 
On every hole he is concocting a new mix of water and Gatorade and pushing it on his man.
 
Mickelson has looked anything but weak, building a one-shot lead on Nick Watney.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 15, 4:48 p.m. ET

 

 
DORAL, Fla. – Interesting crowd dynamic this Sunday in south Florida. Tiger Woods, the top draw in first or 40th place, teed off almost an hour and a half before the leaders and pulled the masses around the Blue Monster with him.
 
Camilo Villegas, a huge draw in the Miami Latino community, has caused a bump in attendance, tournament director Eddie Carbone said. Playing in front of the final group, Villegas may be out drawing the leaders, who feature regular crowd favorite Phil Mickelson. And, not that many have noticed, there is Nick Watney, a top draw back home in Fresno, Calif., but not in Miami.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 15, 4:24 p.m. ET

 

 
DORAL, Fla. – Phil Mickelson spent the night rehydrating with an IV, the morning rehabing on the couch, and the first two holes of his final round at Doral rolling.
 
Mickelson birdied Nos. 1 and 2, continuing his hot run with the putter with an 11-footer at the second.
 
And for all those who were worried that three days without a meal would sap Lefty's energy, consider his second drive which flew to within 10 yards of the green on the par-4 second.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 15, 3:19 p.m. ET

 

 
DORAL, Fla. – Phil Mickelson arrived on the practice range at Doral about 40 minutes before his 2:45 p.m. final-round starting time, aptly carrying a half-drank bottle of Gatorade after spending much of Saturday night in a local Urgent Care suffering from a case of dehydration.
 
“I haven’t been able to eat the last three days so I got an IV to get hydrated,” Mickelson told NBC Sports. “Feeling a little weak.”
 
Mickelson hit about two dozen range balls under the watchful eye of swing coach Butch Harmon before heading over to the putting green.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 15, 2:41 p.m. ET

 

 
DORAL, Fla. – There may be too much real-estate between Tiger Woods and the WGC-CA Championship front-runners – his largest comeback at a PGA Tour event was five strokes at the 2000 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and he begins Sunday’s round nine adrift – but he concluded his feast of Doral’s first hole.
 
The world No. 1 went 4-for-4 on fairways and greens hit at the opener and played the hole in 4 under despite not making a putt longer than 3 ½ feet.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 15, 1:59 p.m. ET

 

 
DORAL, Fla. – We have discovered a cure for slow play. Two words: Azuma Yano. The young Japanese pro teed off as an onesome at 8:50 a.m., was 2 under through nine holes and rounded the turn in less than an hour and a half. Take that Pebble Beach.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 15, 10:17 a.m. ET

 

 
DORAL, Fla. – Some say Nick Watney is too quiet. Others suggest he may be too standoffish, and in the name of full disclosure this scribe went so far as to refer to him following his victory at the 2007 Zurich Classic in New Orleans as a librarian on Prozac. And there are even a misguided few who go so far as to say that he might be too nice to become a top-3 player.
 
Know this about Nick Watney: his victory earlier this year in Tiger-esque fashion at Torrey Pines was, by any definition, a clutch performance, and his shot-for-shot duel with Phil Mickelson on Saturday at the WGC-CA Championship offered a glimpse of a player who is as competitive as any.
 
“He’s a fierce competitor,” said Butch Harmon, the swing coach for both Watney and Mickelson. “He said a few weeks ago when he won how much he enjoyed being back in the hunt and wanting to win.”
 
In time, Watney has also grown out his “Rube” nickname, a reference to the straight-off-the-farm catcher in the movie “Major League II.”
 
“It took two years for me to get him to stop calling me Mr. Harmon,” Harmon said. “I mean, I’m only in my 60s for God’s sake.”
 
And as for Watney’s subdued exterior, the co-leader showed a level of reason that seems beyond his 27 years.
 
“Maybe I need to start wearing flashier clothes,” he smiled. “But Tiger doesn’t wear flashy clothes, and he gets noticed.”
 
Touche’.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 14, 7:53 p.m. ET

 

 
DORAL, Fla. – Busy day for rules officials at Doral. Kenny Perry's ball from the rough adjacent the 13th green moved when the Ryder Cup star addressed it.
 
Play was halted for 15 minutes while an official was called. Perry was given a sroke penalty and took double bogey.
 
Earlier in the day, officials had ruled that Aaron Baddeley had sign an incorrect scorecard on Friday and he was disqualified.
 
The wait didn't hurt Phil Mickelson, playing in the group behind, who bounced his tee shot off the flag for a tap in birdie.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 14, 4:46 p.m. ET

 

 
DORAL, Fla. – Trading places at the 11th: Phil Mickelson, prone to the occasional wayward drive, rumor has it, feathered his drive into the swirling wind and the middle of the fairway.
 
Nick Watney, who normally keeps the ball between the ropes, pushed his tee ball so far right he almost played from the 10th fairway. Comparisons ended there, as Watney failed to chip in.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 14, 4:16 p.m. ET

 

 
DORAL, Fla. – Different day, same story for Tiger Woods. His third-round 68 included 31 putts and, according to Woods, seven hit lips.
 
'Think I'm going belly style,' Woods joked after his round.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 14, 3:41 p.m. ET

 

 
DORAL, Fla. – Much is made of the grainy, south Florida greens. Too much, perhaps, considering the two men atop this international field at Doral.
 
Phil Mickelson is a southern California product, while Nick Watney grew up on the other side of the OC in NoCal.
 
Mickelson does have a built-in advantage. His caddie, Jim 'Bones' Mackay, grew up playing similiar Bermudagrass greens in central Florida.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 14, 3:08 p.m. ET

 

 
DORAL, Fla. – Rory McIlroy was as exciting as billed, but the final twosome had posted five birdies through three holes and frontrunner Phil Mickelson's tee shot at the fourth trundled through the green and into the water.
 
Mickelson took a drop, deciding not to follow Henrik Stenson's al fresco lead. His bogey, combined with playing partner Nick Watney's three straight birdies, resulted in a tie atop the leaderboard.
 
McIlroy is entertaining, but Lefty's game should come with a 'not for the weak of heart' warning.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 14, 2:39 p.m. ET

 

 
DORAL, Fla. – We ventured out Saturday, not to join the throngs trailing Tiger Woods or even leader Phil Mickelson. No Rory McIlroy was the attraction.
 
The Northern Irish teen phenom has been dubbed, 'An Irish Seve,' by his manager. By the cheers he received on the first tee it was more like an Irish Elvis.
 
The 19-year-old proved as good as advertised on the first hole when he launched his second shot from the deep rough right of the fairway, through two trees and within 20 feet of the pin on the par 5.
 
ROAR-Y indeed.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 14, 1:58 p.m. ET

 

 
DORAL, Fla. –Tiger Woods is more than halfway home and frontrunner Phil Mickelson is still lacing up his spikes, but the world No. 1 has shaved three shots off Lefty’s lead.
 
Woods could be much closer if not for a balky putter. His birdie at No. 9 from 15 feet, 6 inches is his longest putt of the week and after that bomb he hasn’t rolled in anything longer than 3 ½ feet for his round.
 
Mickelson said it best on Friday when asked about Woods’ slow start, “It kind of sucks.” The growing Miami galleries would agree.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 14, 1:22 p.m. ET

 

 
Tiger Woods placard

 
DORAL, Fla. –Even 10 strokes out of the lead Tiger Woods still draws a crowd and Saturday’s gathering had a special guest for the world's No. 1.
 
Annika Sorenstam, who was on property to promote her new perfume, chatted with Woods for about five minutes while he waited for his 10:55 a.m. tee time.
 
Sorenstam is fresh from her honeymoon, a week-long skiing trip, which was relaxing and, more importantly, uneventful, according to Sorenstam’s husband Mike McGee.
 
“She didn’t fall once,” he smiled.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 14, 11:23 a.m. ET

 

 
DORAL, Fla. –Was a time, not that long ago, that one could learn everything they needed to know about the PGA Tour at the watering hole closest to that week’s golf course. Early Saturday morning it was clear that times have changed.
 
Just past 8 a.m. Geoff Ogilvy wandered into Doral’s fitness center to prepare for his 10:19 a.m. third-round tee time. Pre-round stuff is simple, but essential – stationary bike riding and stretching.
 
One long-time trainer figured that 80 percent of the Tour now works out in one form or another, with intensity ranging from Pat Perez, who has become something of a gym rat working out every day, to Charles Warren, who is considered one of the functionally strongest players, which is trainer speak for Tour strong.
 
“Shag Bag” passed on an a.m. workout, still recovering from a late night.
 
– Rex Hoggard
Posted March 14, 9:56 a.m. ET

 

 
DORAL, Fla. –That second-round 70 was likely more eventful than he had hoped and he may have spotted Phil Mickelson a bit too much of a cushion (10 strokes), but Tiger Woods’ round was hardly reason to pull anchor on “Privacy” and head back to central Florida.
 
Among Friday’s highlights/lowlights:
 
  • Woods’ first two drives travelled a total of 674 yards and perhaps for the first time since he returned from hibernation his swing looked like it used to – powerful and attacking.
     
  • The rust was evident at the turn when he three-putted from 27 feet at the 10th for a sloppy bogey on the par-5. Woods has crafted a Hall of Fame career feasting on par-5s, which makes that particular misstep particularly painful.
     
  • In two days, he’s hit 60 percent of his fairways, a statistical improvement over his 2008 (57 percent) and 2007 (59 percent) totals, and has just a single three-putt, a key statistic swing coach Hank Haney watches closely.
     
  • Although he mentioned a sore ankle after his round, Woods looks comfortable on his rebuilt left knee and is starting to get his tournament legs under him.
     
    “Today felt better than yesterday and yesterday felt better than Tucson (WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship),” Woods reasoned. “I’m starting to get a feel for this environment.”
     
    – Rex Hoggard
    Posted March 13, 7:53 p.m. ET

     

     
    DORAL, Fla. –'Screw it,' was how Phil Mickelson explained his improved driving prowess.
     
    In practice, those words echoed across Doral when he rifled his second shot at the par-5 eighth to 16 feet.
     
    Not exactly a thought one would read in a 'Winning Mind,' but whatever works.
     
    – Rex Hoggard
    Posted March 13, 4:09 p.m. ET

     

     
    RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico – After going off the air today in at 1:30 p.m., I hopped in a cart and went out to watch first-round co-leader Derek Lamely play. Lamely is a rookie this year on the Nationwide Tour and got into the field here as a Monday quailifer. While on the course, I called his dad to get some background info on a player I'd never seen before.
     
    Ralph Lamely is understandably proud and enjoyed, as any father would be, talking about his talented son. During the 30-minute call, I was reporting live to Ralph where his son's shots were going as he was camped out in front of the computer wearing out the refresh button. At one point he asked, 'Would you mind following my son the entire back nine and staying on the line?'
     
    It was a priceless moment from a father who knows a thing or two about having athletes for kids. Derek's brother, Shane, recently retired from a lengthy career as a professional tennis player.
     
    – Jerry Foltz
    Posted March 13, 4:00 p.m. ET

     

     
    DORAL, Fla. – Less an indication of Tiger Woods' play then Shag Bag's attention issues, we peeled off the Woods-watch to catch up with Phil Mickelson on the far side of the golf course and The Thrill paid quick dividends.
     
    At the par-4 fifth hole, Mickelson left his drive on a hill between a cluster of bunkers and dumped his approach into a greenside trap. Not to worry, Mickelson blasted to 7 feet and rolled in the putt. Never a dull moment with Lefty.
     
    In our defense, PGA Tour Network sent it's on-course reporter assigned to Woods to trail Prayad Marksaeng, who was one shot out of the lead, at the turn.
     
    – Rex Hoggard
    Posted March 13, 3:20 p.m. ET

     

     
    When I tuned in to watch last night’s Big East Tournament quarterfinal matchup between my alma mater, Syracuse, and the Connecticut Huskies, I never expected the game would last as long as the final round of the Honda Classic. But there I was at 1:25 a.m. ET this morning, with some four hours, one regulation and six overtimes under my belt, enjoying a celebratory beer after my Orange prevailed in what may have been the greatest college basketball game ever.
     
    Driving into work this morning, half asleep behind the wheel and desperately craving a jumbo Red Bull, I got to thinking: What was the longest golf match ever played? The Syracuse-Connecticut game was the second-longest in the history of college basketball and longest in the shot-clock era.
     
    For this answer, I turned to the Professor of Golf History, Tom Ierubino, a former colleague of mine at Golf Magazine. I figured if anyone knew, he would. Here’s what he dug up – in a mere matter of a few minutes, I may add.
     
    In the 1931 U.S. Open, Billy Burke defeated George Von Elm in a 72-hole playoff. After the first 36 holes, Burke and Von Elm were still tied, and since the rules back then mandated a 36-hole playoff in case of a draw, they did battle for another 36 holes before Burke prevailed by one stroke. Since the U.S. Open was conducted over three days back then with a 36-hole finish on Saturday, Burke and Von Elm played 144 holes in five days, playing 36 holes, three straight days.
     
    Syracuse and UConn played a total of 70 minutes on that court Thursday night (and early this morning) – nearly two combined games.
     
    The longest sudden-death playoff in PGA Tour history lasted 11 holes at the 1949 Motor City Open. At that point Cary Middlecoff and Lloyd Mangrum were still tied and were declared co-winners by mutual agreement.
     
    – David Allen
    Posted March 13

     

     
    DORAL, Fla. – Through one round and some change, it's been Tiger Woods' putting that has cost him birdies, but his ballstriking has been solid, if not spectacular.
     
    In fact, it wasn't until his fifth hole on Friday that Woods missed his first drive to the left. He punched out into a greenside bunker and missed his 13-footer for par.
     
    – Rex Hoggard
    Posted March 13, 2:10 p.m. ET

     

     
    DORAL, Fla. – Tiger Woods got a little revenge on the par-3 fourth hole. After dumping his tee shot in the drink during Round 1 he hit his tee shot to 16 feet and drained the putt for birdie, which may have been the longest putt he's made around Doral all week.
     
    – Jay Coffin
    Posted March 13, 1:39 p.m. ET

     

     
    DORAL, Fla. – Tiger Woods is now 2-for-2 in Round 2. No, not birdie-birdie – the backend of that double was spoiled by a missed 11-footer at No. 2 – but he's 2-for-2 for pounding drives.
     
    After his opening tee ball, Woods came up just short of the second green for the second consecutive day. In football terms, it seems like he's taken that first hit and the knee is fine.
     
    – Rex Hoggard
    Posted March 13, 1:10 p.m. ET

     

     
    DORAL, Fla. – Perception is reality and without the aid of divine intervention we can only reckon that Tiger Woods' opening salvo at Doral on Friday may have been the world No. 1's most attacking since coming back from knee surgery.
     
    If Woods has been rolling along at three-quarter speed then his first drive was at time and a half. The bomb traveled 348 yards and left Woods just 178 yards from the par-5 green.
     
    – Rex Hoggard
    Posted March 13, 12:45 p.m. ET

     

     
    DORAL, Fla. – Tiger Woods and Mike Weir were yucking it up while strolling down the first fairway. Have no idea what they were talking about but it's rare to see Tiger that comfortable with his playing partners. It's not totally surprising in this group however. Weirsy, as Woods calls him, is one of Tiger's BFFs on tour.
     
    – Jay Coffin
    Posted March 13, 12:40 p.m. ET

     

     
    Henrik Stenson

     
    DORAL, Fla. – Henrik Stenson’s al fresco episode on Doral’s third hole on Thursday when the Swede striped down to his unmentionables to hit a shot from one of the Blue Monster’s murky watering holes was a surreal highlight.
     
    “I was only wearing two things when I hit the shot, my jocks and my golf glove. Just the way God created me,” Stenson said.
     
    Asked if he would have sacrificed similar embarrassment, Phil Mickelson sighed: “I’m not sure I would. I have a feeling I would hear about it a few times.”
     
    One longtime observer nailed it early Friday: “Fanny (Sunesson, Stenson’s caddie), two words – rain gear.”
     
    – Rex Hoggard
    Posted March 13, 11:25 a.m. ET

     

     
    DORAL, Fla. – It’s been an eventful few days for England’s Oliver Wilson. After making it to the round of 16 at last month’s WGC-Match Play, Wilson flew home to England to be with his father, Doug, who had been admitted to a hospital with heart pains.
     
    After numerous tests, doctors ruled out a heart attack and Wilson was able to travel back to the United States last Sunday to prepare for the WGC-CA Championship. On Thursday, he opened with a 5-under 67 that included a bogey at the 18th. “I’m quite impressed with how calm I am after that,” he smiled.
     
    The adventures continue for Wilson on Monday, when he is scheduled to have his wisdom teeth removed in Charlotte, N.C.
     
    “The dentist said I need two weeks off after the surgery but I don’t really have two weeks,” said Wilson, who hopes to sneak in a practice round at Augusta National Golf Club late next week before heading to Orlando, Fla., for the Arnold Palmer Invitational. “I figured you guys (Americans) like teeth so I’ll do it here.”
     
    – Rex Hoggard
    Posted March 13, 10:41 a.m. ET

     

     
    DORAL, Fla. – We’ll let Robert Karlsson describe his afternoon around Doral with Tiger Woods and Mike Weir:
     
    “I don’t think I have ever played with him when there has been so little interest in terms of crowd numbers and stuff like that,” the tall, Swede said. “It is a Thursday morning, remember, and the last time I played with Tiger was on the Saturday of the U.S. Open.”
     
    – Jay Coffin
    Posted March 12, 5:44 p.m. ET

     

     
    In his second round at the 2008 Masters, Prayad Marksaeng had such crippling back pain he had to withdraw from the most prestigious golf tournament he'd ever played in. The Thai golf star had been extended a special invitation by Augusta National to participate in the opening major of the year, and was heartbroken to have his career highlight cut short.
     
    'This is my first Masters and it won't be my last,' said a disappointed Marksaeng.
     
    Well, fast forward about 11 months, and it seems Marksaeng's return to the Azaleas in April might be within reach. The Asian Tour veteran sits atop the leaderboard with Jeev M. Singh, Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen at the WGC-CA Championship at Doral after an impressive 7-under 65 Thursday.
     
    The 43-year-old from Hua Hin, Thailand, whose first golf club was made with bamboo and a piece of scrap metal, looks to be healthy again and hitting his stride at the right time. He needs to be in the top 50 before next month's Masters in order to book his trip to Augusta, Ga. He's currently ranked No. 55.
     
    Maybe he will get to stroll down Magnolia Lane again after all. And this time, free of back pain.
     
    – Dena Davis
    Posted March 12, 5:38 p.m. ET

     

     
    WGC-CA Championship

    Tour volunteers hard at work posting numbers on the gigantic scoreboard inside the media room at Doral. Kinda reminds me of playing that game of making words with the letters on the refrigerator. Except my fridge isn't quite that big.
     
    – Golf Guy
    Posted March 12, 5:30 p.m. ET

     

     
    DORAL, Fla. – The skinny on Tiger Woods’ first round at the CA Championship here at Doral Resort:
     
    Seven fairways hit, 11 greens hit in regulation, 28 total putts and 0-for-2 in sand saves. He made three birdies, two bogeys and 13 pars for a 71.
     
    “I have to be a little bit sharper tomorrow,” Woods said. “Hopefully those putts go in tomorrow and the score will be a little different.”
     
    – Jay Coffin
    Posted March 12, 5:21 p.m. ET

     

     
    DORAL, Fla. – The word thrown at Tiger Woods most after his first-round 71 was “frustration.” Between television interviews and interviews with the print media, he was asked about 10 different ways if he was frustrated with the way he played.
     
    Apparently though, he wasn’t.
     
    “It wasn’t like I hit bad putts,” he said. “That’s the thing. If I was struggling on the greens today, then yeah, I would be a lot more frustrated, but I hit good putts and they just didn’t go in. If you continue hitting good putts, they will eventually start going in.”
     
    – Jay Coffin
    Posted March 12, 5:07 p.m. ET

     

     
    WGC-CA Championship

    Deliverance gave us Dueling Banjos. Doral gives us Dueling 'Fros! Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy let their hair down.
     
    – Golf Guy
    Posted March 12, 3:50 p.m. ET

     

     
    DORAL, Fla. – There was a considerable amount of steam emanating from Tiger Woods after another birdie miss on the fifth hole. He's burned the edge numerous times this afternoon.
     
    This time though, he let it out. Caddie Steve Williams went to take Tiger's putter after the hole but Tiger slammed it in his bag himself and angrily grabbed his driver on the way to the sixth tee. There might be a little heat on this next tee shot.
     
    – Jay Coffin
    Posted March 12, 3:28 p.m. ET

     

     
    2009 WGC-CA

    'Tiger tracking' is taken to another level when Jay Coffin wondered if this patron just happened to put on a red Nike shirt, black pants, and a black Nike hat this morning before heading to Doral?
     

     
    DORAL, Fla. – It's getting late in Tiger's round and not a lot is happening. A bogey after hitting his tee shot in the water on the par 3 fourth hole was a bit of a momentum-killer on a day where Tiger has looked good – but not great. If he's able to collect another birdie over the last five holes one would think he'd be happy – but not thrilled.
     
    – Jay Coffin
    Posted March 12, 3:09 p.m. ET

     

     
    2009 WGC-CA

    Crystal Gale? Barely recognized her in the pink shorts.
     

     
    DORAL, Fla. – First real (read: non-match play) mistake for Tiger Woods came at the par-3 fourth. Woods' tee shot landed in the slope short of the green and into the water. Woods rallied for a bogey.
     
    Good news is, he didn't lose the hole or the tournament with that wayward shot.
     
    – Rex Hoggard
    Posted March 12, 3:01 p.m. ET

     

     
    WGC-CA Championship

    Speaking of flair, we probably don't even have to show you his face for you to know who belongs to these pants... ah, it's the always fashion-forward Ian Poulter.
     
    – Golf Guy
    Posted March 12, 2:50 p.m. ET

     

     
    DORAL, Fla. – He's been here before, played the roll of cellophane man to Tiger Woods' Superman. In fact, the last time Robert Karlsson was paired with Woods was at last year's U.S. Open, although few would have remembered him considering Woods' performance on Saturday at Torrey Pines.
     
    To Karlsson's credit, the big Swede's stoic demeanor seems to be a good fit for the circus that follows Woods.
     
    – Rex Hoggard
    Posted March 12, 2:45 p.m. ET

     

     
    WGC-CA Championship

    An avid belt buckle collector – and wearer, Rory Sabbatini dons some flair on his white belt Thursday at Doral. The South African is sponsored by Hasbro, making one wonder if we'll see a 'Transformers' buckle anytime soon.
     
    – Golf Guy
    Posted March 12, 2:10 p.m. ET

     

     
    DORAL, Fla. – Slow start, at least by world No. 1 standards. Tiger Woods is 1 under at the turn, trailing the leaders by three strokes, but don't expect a two-minute offense drill any time soon.
     
    Woods likened stroke play to a marathon and it's clear the format is within his comfort zone.
     
    Tiger truth No. 216: regardless of what he shoots on Thursday short of an unfathomable collapse, he will be as much a factor on Friday as he was on Wednesday. This is the beauty of 72-hole stroke play.
     
    – Rex Hoggard
    Posted March 12, 2:07 p.m. ET

     

     
    WGC-CA Championship

    Phil is not afraid to wear white before Labor Day. Or is it after Labor Day? Either way, he did opt for the black belt, so take note, Marty Hackel.
     

     
    DORAL, Fla. – Love it when the big man stops in the middle of his swing. On the 18th tee, Tiger Woods' ninth hole of the day, something distracted him and he stopped while at the top of his backswing, resulting in a collective sigh from the gallery.
     
    No sign of what the distraction was. Normally it'd be blamed on a trigger-happy photographer. That wasn't the case this time.
     
    – Jay Coffin
    Posted March 12, 1:40 p.m. ET

     

     
    WGC-CA Championship

    Golf stars! They're just like us! Nick Faldo 'brunches' with friends at Doral Resort and Spa.
     
    – Golf Guy
    Posted March 12, 1:07 p.m. ET

     

     

    DORAL, Fla. – A jolt was pumped into the south Florida crowd when Tiger Woods hit his tee shot to 2 feet on the 176 yard par 3 15th hole.
     
    It wasn't an Augusta roar, but it's still early.
     
    – Jay Coffin
    Posted March 12, 1:02 p.m. ET

     

     
    WGC-CA Championship

    A modest gaggle of photographers set Tiger in their crosshairs while Tiger sets a WGC title in his crosshairs.
     
    – Golf Guy
    Posted March 12, 12:20 p.m. ET

     

     
    DORAL, Fla. – There is significantly less hoopla surrounding Tiger Woods' first round than there was two weeks ago at the match play.
     
    The gallery is filling out but still could best be described as subdued on the cloudy, windy, overcast day.
     
    And there aren't the throngs of media types either. Right now there aren't more than 30 members of the media following Woods, down from the couple hundred that watched his season debut in Arizona.
     
    – Jay Coffin
    Posted March 12, 12:13 p.m. ET

     

     
    DORAL, Fla. – We ran into Sean O’Hair’s swing coach, Sean Foley, on Tuesday at Doral and he was asked what his man was working on. After an insightful, if not a tad technical reply, someone asked if he could teach O’Hair, one of the game’s most stoic players, to smile a little more.
     
    Just a thought, but after O’Hair’s eagle-eagle start in Round 1 – that’s right, 6-footer for eagle at the par-5 first and a holed approach shot from 41 yards at the second after a 321-yard drive – he’s doing plenty of smiling.
     
    – Rex Hoggard
    Posted March 12, 12:01 p.m. ET

     

     
    WGC-CA Championship

    All eyes glued to Tiger's ball flight as he tees off in Thursday's opening round.
     

     
    DORAL, Fla. – Seeing thousands of people realize that Tiger is teeing off on the 10th tee and not the 1st is both hilarious and amazing at the same time. Here comes the mad scramble to the 10th!
     
    – Brian Koressel
    Posted March 12, 11:18 a.m. ET

     

     
    DORAL, Fla. – It’s not often LPGA news gets much airtime on a PGA Tour practice range, particularly during a week that features Tiger Woods’ second start in eight months, but news that Michelle Wie had split with the William Morris Agency created a minor buzz.
     
    Sports Business Journal reported Wie’s break with the agency, which she had been with since turning pro in 2005, and Golfweek magazine reported the teen plans to sign with IMG.
     
    But sources familiar with the situation told GolfChannel.com on Wednesday the reports may have been a bit premature and that Wie is talking with numerous agencies.
     
    Contacted at his home in central Florida, Wie’s swing coach David Leadbetter knew nothing of the split.
     
    “Wow,” Leadbetter said. “This is news to me.”
     
    – Rex Hoggard
    Posted March 11

     

     
    DORAL, Fla. – Judging by the number of fairways Tiger Woods hit during his leisurely practice round on Wednesday at Doral Resort – there is no official number but the consensus was he hit many more than he missed – all is well within that billion-dollar left knee. Still, it was nice to hear it from the man.
     
    “The thing with residual soreness in the knee, it’s weird because there really is none,” Woods said.
     
    Woods said there is swelling at night but there is surprisingly little pain, even after rounds. If he keeps hitting fairways like he did on Wednesday, it will be the same for the rest of the field.
     
    – Rex Hoggard
    Posted March 11

     

     
    DORAL, Fla. – Talk about a power putting green. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Camilo Villegas and Bubba Watson are all practicing with the flatstick.
     
    Tiger has been methodically striking mid-length putts from about 15 feet. Phil just finished his close work: 3-foot putts in a circle around the hole, 15-footers, and now lag putts.
     
    The greens this week are likely to be slow by Tour standards – perhaps 11 or 12 on the Stimpmeter. It's been very dry in south Florida, and the superintendent is afraid to cut the greens too tight in their low-moisture condition.
     
    Gotta wonder, though: What does this mean for fairway roll on the tee ball?
     
    Game on.
     
    – Adam Barr
    Posted March 11

     

     
    DORAL, Fla. – Eight English players in the 80-man field this week – Paul Casey, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, Ross Fisher, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Oliver Wilson and Richard Finch – and each one wants to be the first to join Nick.
     
    That's Faldo, of course, and they want to join him as English winners of The Masters. Yes, everyone is focused on the job at hand – winning this event – but the words 'Augusta' and 'Masters' are overheard a lot on the range this week. Many people are thinking ahead – judiciously – about what they'll need to get done to give themselves the best chance at Augusta National.
     
    You'd think putting would be at the top of the list. It's close, but we hear much more talk about driving. The conventional wisdom is that to hit those crucial 'happy zones' on Augusta National's greens (and stop the ball), you must hit it in the fairway first.
     
    And the driver isn't the only tee tool under consideration. Casey plans to add a strong 3-wood to the bag for the year's first major.
     
    – Adam Barr
    Posted March 11

     

     
    DORAL, Fla. – And then there were two. Tiger Woods caught up with Mike Weir on the third green.
     
    Although the twosome drew much more interest then your normal Wednesday practice round, it didn't measure up to the buzz the two created at the 2007 Presidents Cup.
     
    At Royal Montreal, Woods pulled Weir in his Sunday singles match. Although the U.S. held a comfortable lead, the Canadian galleries zealously cheered Weir to victory.
     
    At the height of the excitement, International captain Gary Player gushed, 'This has been over for some time, but it is very exciting.'
     
    – Rex Hoggard
    Posted March 11

     

     
    DORAL, Fla. – Two WGCs, two vastly different scenes. Compared with the circus that awaited Tiger Woods two weeks ago when he ended his eight-month competitive hiatus at the Match Play in Tucson, Ariz., Wednesday's pre-dawn outing was downright tranquil.
     
    At 7:24 a.m. (ET) Woods walked onto a near-empty first tee at Doral for his practice round. Along with a dozen or so volunteers, no more than six media types were on hand to record the hap