Shag Bag Blog Week 23


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

DUBLIN, Ohio ' Not that he wasn't focused on his man's game, but Joe LaCava is a lifelong Yankees fan. Little surprise then that as he walked off the 13th green, which his boss Davis Love III had just birdied to move within three shots of the lead, he asked the score to the New York-Tampa game.
When informed the Bronx Bombers rallied to win, 4-3, LaCava ' who splits his time between Love and Freddie Couples' bag ' looked much more energetic as he headed down the fairway.
Imagine how good his day will be if Love runs down the Memorial title.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 7, 4:49 p.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' Just spotted animal expert Jack Hanna in a cart adjacent the 10th fairway. Seems about right, following eagles by Jonathan Byrd at the seventh and Tiger Woods at the 11th.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 7, 3:57 p.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' The media throng trailing Tiger Woods, who needed just eight holes to grab a share of a crowded Memorial lead, were rocked by a roar that came from behind the world No. 1s pairing.
Must be an eagle, guessed one scribe. He was right. Jonathan Byrd holed his third shot at the par-5 seventh hole for an eagle and the outright lead at 11 under. At this pace there are going to be more lead changes than a NBA Finals game, but then Thursdays Lakers blowout had none of the drama that the final round at Muirfield Village is producing.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 7, 3:31 p.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' Tiger Woods rolled in a 38 footer for birdie at the second hole Sunday at Muirfield Village, his longest putt of any kind for the week by more than 10 yards.
His tumbling cross-country putt ' which moved him to within three shots of the lead ' was not his longest of the season, but it was close. The world No. 1 has rolled in only two putts longer, a 55 footer in Round 2 at Quail Hollow and a 47 footer in Round 3 at The Players.
If he keeps hitting fairways, hes 2 for 2 on Sunday, the world No. 1 could make it interesting.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 7, 2:02 p.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' According to recent studies, the number of rounds played in the United States has taken a hit during the recent economic downturn. Brett Quigley and Ted Purdy are trying single handedly to reverse the trend.
Sixty-one players from this weeks Memorial are signed up for Mondays 36-hole open qualifier. Thirty-four of them plan to play next weeks St. Jude Classic, including Quigley and Purdy.
Adding to the marathon, Quigley is playing his third consecutive event while Purdy is out for his fourth consecutive week.
Its a long stretch, but its a great stretch of golf. Its a lot of golf I like, said Quigley, who has played less than 30 events in a season just twice in his last five years.
For Purdy its less a desire to boost his rounds than it is a chance to secure his future. I dont want to go back to Q-School, he said. I dont have my card locked up. Im playing nicely just not finishing high enough. Fear is an amazing motivator.
Fear must also come with an energy boost. Purdys running total is 18 tournament rounds in four weeks. Who said golfers are not athletes?
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 7, 1:44 p.m. ET


Cristie Kerr's famous for her steely final-round disposition going way back to her junior golf days. When a victory's within reach, she can channel Ben Hogan as the wee ice woman. You can bet she'll be channeling in the final round of the LPGA State Farm Classic.
In South Florida, the folks who run the Dade Junior Golf Association in Miami have a lot of stories of Kerr's intimidating closing persona as the No. 1 junior in the nation. A story they still like to tell is the day a junior introduced herself to Kerr on the first tee, gave Kerr her name and shook Kerr's hand. Upon hearing the player's name, Kerr jarred the challenger by responding with something other than her own name.
'Oh yeah,' Kerr is said to have uttered. 'Well, I'm the player who is going to kick your butt today.'
At 31, of course, Kerr's matured, but she's still a formidable persona out to kick tail in a final round. At the Kraft Nabisco earlier this year, she was almost the outsider in her final pairing with Brittany Lincicome and Kristy McPherson, pals who chatted easily the entire day. Lincicome, who won, seemed to draw strength from the comfort of playing with her friend. In the other extreme, Kerr seemed to relish being the outsider, drawing strength in that role.
The State Farm Classsic's final group offers some intrigue. It pits the Wee Ice Woman against the Final Round Queen (Jiyai Shin) and Kristy McPherson, who could earn her own nickname with a memorable breakthrough.
McPherson, 28, of Golf Channel Big Break VI fame, is a gregarious soul who loves to chat, but she is Kerr's equal in guts, grit and gumption. She just lacks Kerr's and Shin's closing experience. McPherson is seeking her first LPGA victory. Shin is just as gregarious as McPherson and speaks English well, and though just a 21-year-old rookie, Shin has already won four LPGA events, claiming three as a non-member last year.
' Randall Mell
Posted June 7, 12:06 p.m. ET


LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens released a statement saying she isn't advocating players use Twitter to communicate during rounds.
'Comments that I made in a conversation with a writer last week regarding the importance of social media and tweeting have been taken out of context,' Bivens said. 'We have not discussed tweeting or the use of handheld devices during tournament rounds with the USGA, or even within the LPGA, nor do we intend to. Our players will not be tweeting during the rounds of LPGA events.
The statement created a stir amid questions about whether tweeting during rounds would violate the Rules of Golf.
' Randall Mell
Posted June 7, 11:04 a.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' Geoff Ogilvy slipped into Long Island for an early peek at Bethpages Black course on Monday and earlier this week Tiger Woods confirmed he will make a scouting trip to the site of this months U.S. Open before championship week.
It has become standard practice for players to get a jump on their tournament prep work, but New Yorkers shouldnt expect to see Jim Furyk any time soon. The 2003 U.S. Open champion said hell take his time getting to Bethpage, probably getting to the course on the Sunday before the tournament.
I actually went to Bethpage early last time. It was about 47 degrees and raining. It was a dream. I hit a 3-wood in every hole, said Furyk, who opened with rounds of 73-80 and missed the cut at the 02 U.S. Open. It didnt work that time, so Im going a different route.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 7, 10:46 a.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' Geoff Ogilvy has the U.S. Open on his mind and it has nothing to do with that out-of-body 63 he posted on Saturday at the Memorial.
The Australian slipped into Long Island to get a peak at Bethpage Black on Monday before arriving in Ohio. His take on the man-sized muni that will host the worlds best in two weeks?
Predictable, he said. Bethpage, its all green. Bethpage is carry. I dont know if theres any green you can run up on. . . . Its a really long course from the back tees. I mean, its incredible.
That said, Ogilvy figures that if the weather and U.S. Golf Association officials cooperate it will be a really fun Open. Now there are two words that dont always fit: Open and fun.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 6, 5:30 p.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' Geoff Ogilvy, who in his youth was known for his on-course temper, played his last two holes on Friday in 3 over, including a fluffy chip at the 18th, for a 74.
The old Ogilvy would have probably thrown a club, maybe a golf bag and a few not-for-primetime four-letter words. The new Ogilvy, the guy who won a U.S. Open and is second only to Tiger Woods in WGC proficiency, followed his gaffe with a nine-birdie, 27-putt 63 to move from a tie for 57th to a tie for first.
Beware the peaceful golfer.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 6, 2:33 p.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' Normally a Tour locker room goes ghost town after Fridays cut, what with half the field headed home or the next tournament. The Memorial is different, however, because many in the field must hang around for Mondays 36-hole U.S. Open qualifier.
John Mallinger, who missed the cut by a stroke with rounds of 75-74, was working on his putting adjacent the Muirfield Village clubhouse Saturday afternoon. Hed already scouted out the two Open qualifiers (Brookside Golf & Country Club and The Lakes) and was trying to stay sharp for Monday.
Brookside is a good old classic club, Mallinger said. The Lakes is OK.
Some pros are lamenting the loss of Scioto Country Club from the qualifiers rotation. The Donald Ross gem recently underwent a Jack Nicklaus makeover and Shag Bag slipped across town earlier this week for a peek.
Club officials are doggedly trying to land a major event, with a PGA Championship atop the wish list. 2014 is the next open date for a PGA, but club officials would like to host the 2016 event to coincide with the clubs 100-year anniversary.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 6, 2:13 p.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' Saw the power of a good caddie on Saturday. When Tiger Woods stepped to the par-5 fifth tee he asked bagman Stevie Williams for a fairway woods. After a lengthy conversation Woods switched to a driver.
'More about shape, not distance,' Williams said.
Woods pounded his drive into the fairway, hit a 4 iron for his second shot to 25 feet and two-putted for birdie.
For all those who think Woods overpowers every course he plays, remember Williams' words.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 6, 12:51 p.m. ET


You never know what's going through the minds of professional golfers as they walk down fairways, but Kris Tamulis gives you pretty good clues.
Quite often, the fifth-year LPGA pro from Naples, Fla., has music on her mind , and she likes to whistle her favorite tunes.
She could be heard doing so at the LPGA State Farm Classic on Friday as she got herself in contention, tied for third going into the third round.
'I used to get in trouble for whistling when I was in middle school,' Tamulis said, according to the tournament transcript. 'If I just do it randomly ' I could be walking down the fairway ' people turn around and wonder where the bird is. It's something that I've just done my whole life. My goal, actually, is to be in the World Whistling Championships, which I believe are in North Carolina. You have to have a classical and modern piece prepared. I sorted out my classical piece, but I have to work on my modern one.'
Tamulis whistled 'Spring' from Vivaldi's 'The Four Seasons' for media in the interview room.
' Randall Mell
Posted June 6, 11:53 a.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' Heading into the Arnold Palmer Invitational Steve Marino had missed five of his last six cuts and, other than a tie for seventh at his season opener in Hawaii, was mired in his first slump as a PGA Tour professional.
Since then the dramatic changes hes introduced have been matched only by his improved play. Just before Bay Hill he shaved his head, a dramatic makeover for a player whose locks had almost reached his shoulders. He also switched to a new putter, a Never Compromise NCX full mallet model.
Since the extreme makeover, Marino has finished outside the top 20 in just three of his last eight starts, lost a playoff at Colonial and is tied for seventh at Muirfield Village.
Lets hope Marino continues his solid play. Wed hate to think what gets changed if he lapses into another slump.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 6, 11:29 a.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' A lot of commotion around the 18th green in the waning moments of Fridays third round.
From the second cut of rough down the left side of the 18th fairway Vijay Singh caught a flier that drifted over the green, caromed off a cart path, sailed some 60 yards past the closing green and over a green wall adjacent the clubhouse. Or, as one scribed deadpanned, Ground rule double, straight over the Green Monster, er, fence.
Amid gasps from the crowd, Singh stumbled his way to a triple bogey-7. And for those who noticed, playing companion Jim Furyk calmly stepped over a slick 10-footer and eased the birdie putt into the hole for a share of the lead.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 5, 5:58 p.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' That sound you heard Friday afternoon was a collective gasp from sports psychologist all over the world as Mark Wilson explained his winning philosophy.
It sounds weird that Im not trying to get better. Thats what everyone says. Amateurs always want to get better. Whats the next tip? How can I be better? I just want to stay the same, said Wilson, an early leader at the Memorial after rounds of 69.
It may not have quite the ring of a winning mind, but its not a bad lesson for amateurs everywhere.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 5, 3:31 p.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' Perhaps of more curiosity than Tiger Woods swing or driving accuracy, both of which seem to be in the bonus column this week at the Memorial, is the state of his surgically rebuilt left knee.
Of the 19 questions he was asked following his second-round 74, which dropped him into a tie for 29th, seven were about his knee and his rehabilitation process.
Although hes been relatively cryptic when talking about the surgery and subsequent comeback, Woods did offer some telling insight on Friday: They obviously dont want me playing basketball, so I guess its not quite that good yet, he said. When I came back the main goal was to protect it.
This dovetails with Jack Nicklaus assessment of Woods' swing earlier this week: If you look at his golf swing, I don't think he moves out of the way of the ball like he used to. I think that's probably protective, and it's probably a good move on his part. That's probably on purpose. He's probably adjusted his swing to fit that.
For the record, his protect swing produced again on Friday. Hes hit 25 of 28 fairways in two days and 24 of 36 greens. Now, if only he could get his shortest swing (putting) to work he may be able to turn things around on the weekend.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 5, 2:59 p.m. ET


With the McDonald's LPGA Championship next week, Se Ri Pak's game is stirring back to life.
It's been a long time since the Hall of Famer's been in the hunt on the weekend of an LPGA event, but she's positioning herself for a shot at winning her 25th tour event this weekend at the State Farm Classic.
Pak, 31, hasn't recorded a top-10 finish in an LPGA event in almost 10 months, since she finished second at the CN Canadian Women's Open last August. But, she found something in the second round of the Corning Classic in her last start, shooting 66, her lowest score on tour in 108 rounds, since she opened with a 63 at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic in 2007. That, by the way, was her last LPGA victory.
Bulle Rock, next week's site of the McDonald's LPGA Championship, is home to Pak's last major championship triumph. Three of her five major championship titles have come at the McDonald's.
' Randall Mell
Posted June 5, 2:41 p.m. ET


Michelle Wie has more on her mind than just breaking through to win her first LPGA event this weekend at the State Farm Classic.
She's 17th on the U.S. Solheim Cup points list with seven events left before the team's named. The top 10 automatically qualify for the international team event against the Europeans Aug. 21-23 at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill.
'It's definitely one of the biggest goals this year,' Wie said after the first round. 'I would be absolutely honored to represent my country. I just had so much fun doing it at the Curtis Cup. Doing it again at the Solheim Cup would just be phenomenal. This is an individual sport, but at least for one week, week and a half, however long it is, you all become one team.'
Brittany Lincicome holds the 10th spot in the U.S. standings with 181 points. Wie has 87 points. A victory is worth 60 points this week, 120 points next week at the McDonald's LPGA Championship. Finishes within the top 20 earn points.
' Randall Mell
Posted June 5, 2:03 p.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' Mark Wilson got off to a fast start on Friday, making the turn at 4 under and tied for the lead at 8 under.
Familiarity could get partial credit.
Wilson was one of the few players to get in 18 holes on Wednesday, between the rain and the day's marquee group of Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus.
'Going to touch them all,' he smiled as he headed out.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 5, 12:07 p.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' The putter remains cold for the world No. 1 as he makes the turn in Round 2 at the Memorial.
Tiger Woods is 1 over par for the day, two birdies and three bogeys. The good news is he's still inside the top 20. The bad news is it's a perfect day for scoring and he probably will not be by the end of the day at this pace.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 5, 11:04 a.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' Strangest sighting of the day. That lone figure at the far end of the practice range Thursday was not Tiger Woods or even PGA Tour workhorse Vijay Singh. It was Golf Channels Nick Faldo. The Englishman may be a staple to golf telecasts, but the game still calls.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 4, 7:02 p.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' Big talk on the practice range late Thursday. No, not Tiger Woods opening 69 or Luke Donalds 8 under start, but Game 1 of the NBA Finals tonight in L.A.
Steve Marino was needling Chirs DiMarco, an avid Orlando Magic fan, as the two hit balls. When asked if hes a Laker man Marino didnt hesitate, No, its just Kobes (Bryant) time. I know it is.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 4, 6:40 p.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' It wouldnt have been a perfect game, but at the very least Tiger Woods attempt to go a perfect 14-for-14 in fairways hit would have ranked somewhere in the no hitter category.
As it turned out, Woods missed the fairway at his final hole, a slight push that found a fairway bunker on the 18th and led to just his second bogey of the day. It was a victory by any measure for a player who struggled with the two-way miss at The Players and ranks 145th on Tour in driving accuracy.
I hit the ball well all day. A couple of good putts, horseshoed a couple, said Woods, who is tied for ninth after his opening 69. Im starting to feel better. Its taking a while, but as I said Im getting it back.
The bigger question was his putting, he needed 29 swipes on Thursday, and his distance control was slightly off following approach and tee shots that carried over greens at Nos. 12, 14 and 17
Generous fairways helped, as did an extra half degree of loft in his driver. Woods switched to a 10 degree Nike Golf driver this week.
As my release has changed over time with Hank (Haney) Ive needed a little more loft, he said. I dont have all my length back but its getting better each and every week.
Woods also seems to be thinking like the rest of us. He said Thursday that he will take a scouting trip to Bethpage Black, site of this months U.S. Open, before the championship. Getting better each and every week is important, because theres only one week that matters. At least in June.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 4, 6:23 p.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' Tiger Woods three-putted the 13th from about 20 feet to drop to 2 under and less than five minutes later he and his threesome was put on the clock as his group was a hole behind.
At Muirfield Village when it rains it pours.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 4, 4:32 p.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' Word is the rough at Muirfield Village is an inch shorter this year, not that Tiger Woods would know.
So far this Thursday Woods has spent more time in the short grass than Fred Funk. Through 13 tee balls he is a perfect 9-for-9 in fairways hit. Putting, however, is a different story. The world No. 1 is even par on his three par 5s. From the fairway, that's bad math.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 4, 4:13 p.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' Was just asked in a radio interview if I would put Tiger Woods among my favorites when the Tour turns to Bethpage Black and the U.S. Open.
It was just about the time Woods was wrapping up his front nine at Muirfield Village, a turn that included a perfect 6-for-6 in fairways hit on the closest thing the Tour has played this year to a U.S. Open venue. In fact, the Memorial home was probably more of a traditional Open test (deep rough, slick greens, complaining Tour pars) then Torrey Pines turned out to be, with all due respect to the SoCal muni.
Our answer? In a New York minute.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 4, 3:10 p.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' When the dust settles, Davis Love III will have played four tournaments in three weeks, a stretch that includes stops at the Byron Nelson, Colonial, Memorial and two 36-hole qualifiers for the U.S. and British opens.
The activity has taken a toll on DL3s 45-year-old body and he is suffering from an ailing neck this week in Ohio, but ' he admits ' some of his pain is self inflicted.
As my mom always says, You over do it on the golf course and then come home and you dont rest, said Love, who opened with an even-par 72. I dont sit still real well. It hasnt been go home to Sea Island (Ga.) and lay on a beach.
During Loves down town away from the Tour this year hes gone snowboarding in Utah, turkey hunted in south Georgia and ridden his Harley Davidson across America.
Love participated in the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America, a week-long ride that began on May 10 and covered 3,286 miles.
The worst part was parking it, he said. I wanted to just keep going.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 4, 2:16 p.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' After a rocky middle stretch, a bogey-par-double bogey run at the turn, David Duval kept his round together for a 1-under 71.
Duval hasnt finished better than 55th in 11 events this year but hes currently tied for 12th and said, his confidence is building. One scribe mused after Duvals Q&A, His confidence had nowhere to go but up.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 4, 1:04 p.m. ET


Golf Channel and NBC analyst Dottie Pepper didn't mince words when asked Thursday what she thought of LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens' idea of using Twitter to communicate with fans in the middle of rounds.
'I think it's absurd, absolutely absurd,' Pepper said.
Pepper made the comment during a Golf Channel teleconference Thursday promoting next week's telecast of the McDonald's LPGA Championship.
Pepper said she likes the idea of building fan bases with new media, but not with tweets in the middle of rounds. She said the LPGA has made great strides speeding up play but using Twitter during rounds would be a step backwards.
'Competition is competition, time away is time away,' Pepper said.
' Randall Mell
Posted June 4, 12:17 p.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' There is nothing in David Duvals play of late to suggest the former world No. 1 is due for a big week, but his track record at Jacks Place is worth noticing as is his demeanor on Wednesday.
Duval, who finished runner-up at the Memorial in 1996 and tied for fourth as recently as 2002, was among a group of players who lingered around the practice putting green Wednesday afternoon to watch Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods tee off for that memorable skins match.
Not sure the state of Duvals game, although he is 4 under early at Muirfield Village, but as we watched Double D laugh and joke with swing coach Puggy Blackmon it was clear his mind is in the right place.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 4, 10:14 a.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' Stewart Cink said he started his Twitter craze because he wanted the world to know the real Stewart Cink. The masses huddled in around Muirfield Villages 18th green Wednesday during his skins match with Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and others got a glimpse of the real Cink.
The announcer accidentally introduced Cink as Camilo Villegas as the group approached the green. The official quickly correct his mistake and Cink was the first player in a chip-off to decide the skins champion, rolling his attempt to 3 feet.
After the crowd quieted and as Woods settled over his chip, Cink deadpanned, gracias. In a Tweet shortly afterward Cink added, To the fella who confused me with Camilo, Mucho gracias amigo!
Seems the real Stewart Cink has a little Shecky Green in him.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 3, 6:38 p.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' It probably wont go down as his greatest chip-in ' were guessing his Torrey Pines fireworks has that territory covered ' but Tiger Woods chip in to win Wednesdays skins match against Jack Nicklaus, Kenny Perry and Stewart Cink had an instant classic quality to it.
I went first and gave him the line, what do you expect? said Cink, tongue firmly planted in cheek. Nothing he does surprises me anymore.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 3, 4:08 p.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' Last year Tiger Woods survived a 91-hole marathon to win the U.S. Open. As the marquee foursome finishes Wednesday's nine-hole skins match on Muirfield's 18th hole, with the exhibition knotted at two skins apiece for Woods and Jack Nicklaus, it's a curious juxtaposition that the match will be decided by a chip off. Seems about right.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 3, 3:24 p.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' Even as the rain continued its onslaught, Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus kept things lively as only two legends can.
On the group's sixth hole Woods blew his drive over a large tree down the right side of fairway. Nicklaus, next on the tee, didn't even blink: 'I didn't even know that tree was there.'
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 3, 2:47 p.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' Why is golf ageless? Because there would be no way for Lakers legend Jerry West to score an 'H' in a game of horse with current Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, but Jack Nicklaus did Tiger Woods one better at the second hole on Wednesday.
Nicklaus hit his approach to 4 feet for birdie and the four-ball's first skin.
Youth 0, AARP 1.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 3, 1:33 p.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' As exhibitions go, this one is better than most. Jack Nicklaus launched his opening drive high into the gray sky and into Muirfield Village's first fairway.
'One-0-8 (yards),' he smiled.
Tiger Woods hammered his drive considerably further, but right of the fairway. Score one for the old guy.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 3, 1:33 p.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' Wednesdays marquee outing, a skins match featuring Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, promised to take over the golf course, sending players out early for practice rounds or across town.
Gonna touch em all, Mark Wilson said as he headed off the 10th tee early.
Others, like Kevin Streelman, were going to get some practice in at Muirfield Village and then head across town to get a peek at the two courses that will be used for Mondays 36-hole U.S. Open sectional qualifier, Brookside Country Club and The Lakes.
Just a hunch, but were guessing a few hang around Muirfield to get a glimpse at the Hall of Fame two-ball.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 3, 12:53 p.m. ET


The old adage that 'From something bad, comes something good' came to mind last weed as golf fans worldwide were saddened and scared by the news that Amy Mickelson had been diagnosed with breast cancer. And we're collectively relieved to hear that the prognosis looks good for Phil's wife. The irony in the aforementioned adage is that a couple of good things resulted from Amy's condition.
First, and most important, awareness was raised and I'm sure many women quit putting off their overdue exams, and ultimately, lives will be saved.
Secondly, I'm sure it was very reaffirming, if not surprising, for the Mickelsons to see just how treasured and admired they are by their peers. For Phil, a player who has often been the subject of jealous locker room innuendo and gossip, to see the support of his peers in such an unprecedented manner, it let him know that it's not just the fans who truly care about him.
' Jerry Foltz
Posted June 3, 11:08 a.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' It may be a sign of the times, but the first question Tiger Woods received in his first tournament since The Players was about his loyalties for the upcoming NBA Finals between the Orlando Magic and L.A. Lakers.
I live in Orlando and root for the Magic. But Im from L.A. It is hard, said Woods, until pressed further for an answer. Im from L.A., he smiled.
L.A. it is, then.
' Rex Hoggard
Posted June 3, 11:13 a.m. ET


DUBLIN, Ohio ' One of the highlights of Memorial week, if not the season, is Jack Nicklaus media scrum on Wednesday. The fact his press Q&A preceded his afternoon skins match with Tiger Woods only added to this years allure.
  • On the course changes (which include raising the 18th green about 3-4 inches): Couple of guys putted their putts off the 18th green, they werent good putts, incidentally.
  • On Woods comeback from surgery: Hes won once, finished in the top 10 every other time. Thats a terrible comeback, he deadpanned. Hes going to take a while to heal and hes probably protecting that. He moves out of the way of the ball like he used to. Thats probably protective.
  • Wednesdays skins game pairing with Woods: They had me paired in the other group and I said, uh ah. I want to play with Tiger. Ill throw my 98 mph club speed at him.
  • On Woods closing on Jacks major championship record: Even if he doesnt play well, hell break my record. He is such a focused young man I suspect he will pass it in the next three years or so.
  • On the speed of the greens during last years event, which was played under unseasonably dry conditions: How many dry years do we have at Muirfield? Take a picture of this place and it has an umbrella over it.
    ' Rex Hoggard
    Posted June 3, 10:50 a.m. ET


    DUBLIN, Ohio ' Even a dialed-down Muirfield Village is still a handful. Officials reduced the height of the rough this year, removed the furrowed rakes from bunkers and rebuilt some troublesome greens, but the Jack Nicklaus gem still has plenty of teeth.
    As groups headed out into a cool, cloudy morning Wednesday players mused about an easier golf course. Those are the best greens weve played all year, Johnson Wagner said. May be the best we have all year.
    ' Rex Hoggard
    Posted June 3, 10:31 a.m. ET


    DUBLIN, Ohio ' Caught up with U.S. Golf Association set-up man Mike Davis on Tuesday fresh from his final scouting trip to Bethpage Black. The beloved muni closed to the public on Monday and Davis said other than a few tweaks to the set-up that everything is in place for this months U.S. Open.
    Weve gotten the right amount of rain so far, Davis said. It will be up to Mother Nature at this point.
    Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, et al will also have something to say about the national championships second trip to the New York gem.
    ' Rex Hoggard
    Posted June 3, 8:31 p.m. ET


    Funny how a few weeks can change ones perspective. Not more than a fortnight back the mood around tournament HQ at the St. Jude Classic was something less than festive.
    But then in rapid fire order John Daly revealed that his PGA Tour-mandated, six-month suspension would end next week in Memphis and reports surfaced on Monday that Phil Mickelson ' whose wife, Amy, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer ' would play the event as a tune-up for the U.S. Open.
    Its certainly been a rollercoaster ride, said Kevin Krisle, executive director of the event which will likely lose embattled title sponsor Stanford Financial. But we never doubted the 2009 tournament.
    Krisle said there has been a boost in ticket sales the last few days as well as a 10 percent bump in media requests.
    Not bad for a tournament that some considered on life support not that long ago.
    ' Rex Hoggard
    Posted June 2, 4:51 p.m. ET


    Midway through his second round last week at Colonial Country Club Chad Campbell was trying to swipe his ball from an awkward lie in a bunker when he felt something snap in his left calf. A few moments later he was on the ground, his face twisted in pain.
    Initially doctors were concerned Campbell had torn his calf muscle, an injury that could end his season, but he met with doctors on Saturday who determined there was no need for an MRI and no muscle tear.
    Campbell, who came up just short earlier this year in a playoff at Augusta National, was advised to ice and stretch the ailing muscle and doctors will reevaluate the injury on Thursday. He could be ready to play in time for next weeks St. Jude Championship, but Bethpage is a more likely candidate for his return.
    He said his calf muscle had been sore for a few days before this, said Dennis Harrington, Campbells manager with Orasi Sports. Right now hes looking toward the U.S. Open.
    Thats good news for fans of the unassuming Texan, who didnt have the look of a major contender when he was carted off property last Friday.
    ' Rex Hoggard
    Posted June 2, 4:23 p.m. ET


    Steve Strickers victory Sunday at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial helped him move to No. 1 in scoring average on the PGA Tour.
    So did the fact that Tiger Woods didnt play.
    Strickers 69.46 adjusted scoring average tops all Tour players in the newest stats update. Woods adjusted scoring average is better at 69.13, but Woods hasnt played enough rounds to qualify. The minimum rounds required to qualify was bumped to 24 this week. Woods has played 20 so far this season. Stricker has played 41.
    Stricker has four rounds of 63 or better this season. He shot 61 and 62 in back-to-back rounds at the 50th Bob Hope Classic and had back-to-back rounds of 63 in his start at Colonial. Stricker also leads the Tour in top-10 finishes (6).
    ' Randall Mell
    Posted June 1, 3:40 p.m. ET


    Tiger Woods will be going for his third Arnie-Jack Sweep this week.
    Woods won Arnold Palmers event at Bay Hill and Jack Nicklaus Memorial event in 2000 and won them both again in 01.
    Whats significant about that? Woods was playing the best golf of his remarkable career when he swept the Palmer and Nicklaus events. He also won the Tiger Slam over the 2000-01 seasons, becoming the first player to win four consecutive professional major championships.
    ' Randall Mell
    Posted June 1, 2:04 p.m. ET


    A friend of Michael Allens ran into the newly minted Senior PGA champion last week and asked the fresh-faced 50-year-old what his playing plans were going forward?
    Allen said he wanted to add to his trophy collection with his first PGA Tour, making him perhaps the first player to ever win his first Champions Tour title before his maiden Tour tilt.
    If you pull that off Im going to rename you Benjamin Button, the friend smiled.
    ' Rex Hoggard
    Posted June 1, 2:03 p.m. ET

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