OK, Paul Sunshine Goydos atop the Texas Open leaderboard may be a surprise, but some names fit atop the San Antonio marquee like Tex-Mex. Officials could just as well rename the event the Justin Leonard Invitational. The three-time winner is tied for second and three back; John Mallinger is also tied for second after a solid week at TPC Sawgrass.
Then there's Brian Davis.
Davis, tied for seventh after rounds of 65-67, had been slowed in recent years by injuries and swing changes, but said last weeks Players, where he tied for fifth, was a breakthrough for the battered pro.
Things have been getting better all year, said Davis, who had a benign tumor removed from his right side in 2006 and had been slowed by a herniated disc in his neck. (The Players) was the first time my swing was tested since the change.
After everything the Englishman has gone through, the weekend at La Cantera has more of a pop quiz feel.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted May 16, 9:40 a.m. ET
Lance Ten Broeck is pulling double duty over the first two days of the Texas Open. The 53-year-old former Tour player made it into the field after David Berganio withdrew.
Thursday, he stuck to his regular gig, as caddie for Jesper Parnevik, and toted the bag while his boss shot even-par 70. He then used a borrowed set of clubs from Richard S. Johnson, bought some slacks at the mall, and borrowed some shoes and balls to shoot a 71 ' with his son as his caddie ' in the afternoon.
Friday, Ten Broeck went out in the morning and carded a 70, which likely won't be good enough to make the cut. Unfortunately for him, Parnevik, playing in the afternoon, is also headed in the wrong direction of the cut line. In fact, the employer might finish off worse than the employee.
' Mercer Baggs
Posted May 15, 2:47 p.m. ET
A week after finishing runner-up in Italy, John Daly is going to miss the cut in the 3 Irish Open. He followed an opening 4-under 68 with a 3-over 75, and is well outside the projected cut line.
Give Daly some credit, however. Friday was cold, wet and windy. He also started his second round with double bogeys on two of his first four holes, and then played his final 14 in 1 under.
He won't be around over the weekend, but he didn't quit. And that says more about a revitalized Daly than last week's performance.
' Mercer Baggs
Posted May 15, 1:23 p.m. ET
When Paul Goydos qualified for last years British Open, his first Open Championship in a 15-year Tour career, he immediately envisioned a family trip to England for he and his two daughters. One daughter embraced the idea, Courtney, the other, Chelsea, did not because she was concerned there would be no cell phone service in the United Kingdom.
She now is regretting that decision every day and asking me when the British Open qualifier is every week, Goydos said last week at TPC Sawgrass. But she was at that age where her friends were really important to her. She had a chance to go to the beach, and hanging out was more important than going to Liverpool, England. Going to Newport Beach and Laguna Beach and hanging out with your friends, I probably would do that, too, if I could.
Good news for Chelsea. Pop opened with a 7-under 63 on Day 1 at the Valero Texas Open and the top two earners from a mini-money list that began at The Players and runs through the AT&T National earn a spot at Turnberry.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted May 14, 3:07 p.m. ET
Playing alongside one another, Rory McIlroy shot 3-under 69, while Colin Montgomerie had a 2-under 70 in the first round of the 3 Irish Open.
Nothing interesting there, until you consider the fact that prior to the tournament McIlroy said this: 'The Ryder Cup, it's a great spectacle for golf, but an exhibition at the end of the day and it should be there to be enjoyed. I think if I get on it (the European Team), you know, you enjoy the week, and if you win or lose, it's a great experience and you move on from it. In the big scheme of things, it's not that important of an event for me.'
Tell that to Monty. Which, of course, the European press did.
'All I can say to you is you ask me, is the Ryder Cup an exhibition, no, it's not an exhibition, all right,' Montgomerie said. 'So please don't say, and hopefully, that it won't come from me, that Monty and Rory are having a war here. Please don't say that, because I haven't said that, and all I've said is the Ryder Cup is not an exhibition and it never will be.'
Monty added that he was certain McIlroy will one day make the European team, possibly even the team he will captain in 2010. When he does, he will likely have a change in opinion, much like Hunter Mahan had after experiencing the Cup firsthand last year.
' Mercer Baggs
Posted May 14, 1:22 p.m. ET
Weve been asked about, oh, a gazillion times over the last few days whats wrong with Tiger Woods? As if a guy with a portfolio that can match the GDP of a G8 nation thats married to a former Swedish nanny can really have that many problems.
The response has become patented: the sky is not falling in the world of Woods.
Were talking about a guy who underwent major surgery within the last year and a major adjustment to his swing and yet has still posted top-10 finishes in each of his first five stroke-play events and, another, walk-off victory at Bay Hill.
By comparison go back to 1998, when he underwent the first major swing change as a professional, he had one victory and 13 top 10s. Flash forward to 2004, his first year with swing coach Hank Haney, and he has a similar line ' one victory and 14 top 10s. Since 04, the Woods-Haney combo has produced six major victories in 14 Grand Slam stars and 26 Tour titles. Thats almost a .500 record, good on a baseball diamond, crazy good on a golf course.
Simply put, Woods is probably ahead of schedule and, as he pointed out on Sunday at TPC Sawgrass, he will continue to fix it.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted May 13, 4:27 p.m. ET
Mr. (Fred) Couples, and Mr. (Greg) Norman, went to Washington to glad hand for the good of the game this morning. Golf made a full-court press on Capitol Hill earlier today in an attempt to educate Congress on the benefits golf brings to the economy.
Earlier this year U.S. Rep. Barney Frank and 16 other Democrats sent a letter to the CEO of Northern Trust Corp. saying they were dismayed and angered that the bank had spent millions of dollars on the Northern Trust Open.
Since that high-profile haymaker, the chilling effect in corporate America towards golf has been palpable and a Congressional education program seems overdue. Shag Bags only question: Is Couples really the guy we want pleading our case to Congress?
' Rex Hoggard
Posted May 13, 10:38 a.m. ET
The Solheim Cup will attract more eye balls if Michelle Wie makes it.
If youre following, theres a good race shaping up for the summer with Wie having some work to do to make the U.S. team on points.
Wie is 22nd in the U.S. Solheim Cup standings. The top 10 automatically qualify at the conclusion of the Ricoh Womens British Open on Aug. 2.
Wie tees it up at the Sybase this week in one of the nine events left before the teams named.
Natalie Gulbis holds the 10th spot in the standings with 175.5 points. Wie has 58.5 points. A victory in a regular tour event is worth 60 points with the top-20 finishers earning points. There are three majors left, where points are double.
Of the three most celebrated American rookies, Wie is best positioned to make the team. Vicky Hurst is 33rd on the points list, Stacy Lewis 56th.
A few veterans stand in Wies way in the race with Pat Hurst No. 12, Juli Inkster No. 14 and Wendy Ward No. 16.
' Randall Mell
Posted May 13, 10:11 a.m. ET
Tiger Woods isnt a fan of forced carries. He would have been a military man like his father had this golf thing not worked out as well as it has, and theres a certain golden-haired figure he would have like to have played against given the opportunity to go back in time.
This is some of what people tuned into Nikes live Tiger Web Talkback Tuesday night learned.
While there were a lot of equipment questions in a promotion for Nikes new Victory Red irons, Woods was open to other questions, too.
On how his golf course design philosophy as an architect will accommodate average players: Ive always believed in how links golf is played, that you should have an area where you can run the golf ball up. I dont believe in forced carries. I hate bunkers that sit in the front part of the green where a player cant run the ball on the green. I dont think thats right. You dont see that overseas or in links golf.
On what era other than this he would have most liked to have played: I would have like to have gone head to head in Jack Nicklaus prime. I think we would have enjoyed that. He certainly would have gotten me, and I would have gotten him.
On what profession he would have pursued if he werent a golfer: If I wasnt successful on Tour those first few years, I would most likely have joined the Navy and tried to become a Navy Seal.
' Randall Mell
Posted May 12, 8:50 p.m. ET
E-mails have been flooding in from folks with strong opinions about Tiger Woods swing after his finish at The Players Championship.
The most unusual came from somebody named Sumeet with a Vedic Astrology perspective.
According to Sumeet, Woods is in the same transformational phase as he was in 2003-04, a frustrating time of hard work that precedes a dominant run.
Sumeets take, which is published at Vedicforecast.blogspot.com, relies less on Woods swing plane than on Virgos rising in the natal horoscope chart.
Sumeet writes that beginning June 11 ' the week before the U.S. Open ' various raja yogas activate in Woods chart, enabling him to contend strongly at the U.S. Open. Sumeet writes that this builds up through the summer with the stars lining up favorably in September through December for Woods to regain his dominant form.
So there you go.
' Randall Mell
Posted May 12, 3:00 p.m. ET
This is the way its supposed to work. Tournament directors take a flier on an up-and-coming amateur or recently minted college sendoff, phenom hits it big on the big tour and repays the favor with periodic returns to the tournament that gave him an early break.
Anthony Kim returns to the Valero Texas Open for the third time this week. Hes the only player ranked among the top 20 in the field and a loyal San Antonio supporter ever since officials gave him a sponsor exemption in 2006 when he was a relative unknown straight out of the University of Oklahoma.
The great thing about Anthony is we gave him a spot in 2006 (where he finished tied for second), he comes back in 2007 after a good rookie year and we felt like hed met his obligation to us, so to speak, said Tony Piazzi, president and CEO of Golf San Antonio, the organization that runs the Texas Open. But then he turns around and comes back this year. Thats cool.
Piazzi made a similar investment in the future this week, granting invites to Hawaiian teen Tadd Fujikawa and to a pair of young pro prospects from Texas A&M, Matthew Loving and Martin Piller.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted May 12, 1:37 p.m. ET
Lost amid the Sunday comings (Henrik Stenson) and goings (Alex Cejka and Tiger Woods) at TPC Sawrass was some solid play by players in need of a boost.
Aaron Baddeley teed off first and played alone, raced around the Stadium Course before Cejka had his first cup of coffee, shot 66 and tied for ninth for the Australians first top-10 finish since last years BMW Championship.
Tim Clark also put on an early show with a closing 69 that included a 55-foot eagle putt at the 16th to add to what is best described as a rebound year. Following his best year on Tour in 2007 when he finished 22nd in earnings, the South African struggled in 08 with just three top 10s.
It was a particularly pedestrian year for a player who, after years of battling a neck injury, was finally healthy.
Last year was tough, Clark said Sunday at TPC. I mean I can finally practice again. 2007 was my best year on Tour and I didnt hit one ball before a tournament. No practice at all.
Clark said a big key to his turn around has been a new set of Srixon irons he put into play after the Masters. Clark, not one of the longest hitters on Tour, said the new sticks let him hit the ball a club longer and with more accuracy.
Fantasy hawks be aware, the new clubs adhere to the U.S. Golf Associations dialed-down groove policy that begins on Tour in 2010, which makes a player that was already one of the best at hitting fairways even more worth watching.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted May 11, 3:31 p.m. ET