What We Learned: Titleholders


Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from recent tournaments and news developments. This week, our writers weigh in on the never-ending sport that is golf and some impressive weeks from Na Yeon Choi, Michael Campbell and Miguel Angel Jimenez.

I get so bored during golf's offseason. There's just such a lack of anything worthwhile taking place this time of year. Take this past week as an example. Luke Donald won in Japan to pass Tiger Woods as No. 2 in the world. Ho-hum. Oh, and Adam Scott held off Ian Poulter to claim the gold jacket in Australia. Yawn. And Na Yeon Choi, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Henrik Stenson each won titles. Big deal. Second stage of Q-School? Only the most important week of some players' careers. Blayne Barber shakes off his recent DQ to win again on the NGA Tour? Just a terrific story, that's all. Toss in continued underlying subplots such as Rory McIlroy fleeing to Nike and the USGA's expected decision on anchored putters to break the downtime monotony. Well, guess what? These all add up to one definitive conclusion about golf's offseason: It doesn't really exist. – Jason Sobel

Kimchi is apparently like Popeye’s spinach.

For Na Yeon Choi, Korean cabbage cooked by her mother has the same mystical effects.

Choi won the CME Group Titleholders Sunday with her mother making the trip from South Korea. It marked the first time Choi's mother, Jeong Me Song, saw her daughter win outside South Korea. Her mom cooked Galbi, Korean barbecue, on the eve of the final round. She cooked kimchi all week with dinners.

“I had kimchi every day,” Choi said. “Whenever I hit my driver far, my caddie always says, `That’s the kimchi power.’” – Randall Mell

We might be witnessing Michael Campbell’s slow, long-awaited climb back to relevance. The latest example was this week’s UBS Hong Kong Open, where the New Zealander shared the 54-hole lead before finishing joint eighth. This, after a solo third last month in Portugal.

No, this isn’t to suggest that Campbell will top the Order of Merit in 2013. And no, this isn’t to suggest that Campbell will even win another European Tour event. But you can’t help but marvel at the man’s perseverance.

It’s been 2,618 days since his last victory, the 2005 World Match Play. That’s the year he won the U.S. Open, when he was ranked 23rd in the world. Seven years later, at that same event, he was 893rd.  

Campbell has eight European Tour victories, a combined career earnings of more than $15 million. So why continue to battle, to tee it up every week when he went 84 starts without recording a top 10? Maybe it’s pride. Maybe it’s the belief that the winning form is in there, somewhere. Maybe it’s about the money, or the respect. Maybe – probably – it’s because competing is the only thing he knows.

Whatever the reason, seeing Michael Campbell’s name on a leaderboard has never been a more welcome sight. – Ryan Lavner

Rory McIroy and Tiger Woods operate on desire. The difference is, Tiger never turned his off in his prime. When Rory's head and heart are engaged fully, he's a clear-cut No. 1. When they are not, he's a guy with weekends off. Woods never got out of Superman mode. Sometimes McIlroy just wants to be Clark Kent. – Mercer Baggs

In one of the pictures showing Miguel Angel Jimenez hoisting his third UBS Hong Kong Open trophy, he is also wielding a cigar between two fingers of his left hand.

Jimenez’s smile is a mile wide.

Can you blame him?

On Sunday, Jimenez became the oldest winner in European Tour history at 48 years and 318 days, beating back a strong field for one of the more unexpected wins in 2012.

It had been more than two years since Jimenez’s last European Tour victory. Of late, he’d warranted camera time more for his pre-round stretching routine than his golf. On Sunday, El Mecanico reminded the world that he still had a few good swings left.   It was the 19th European Tour victory of his career.

Jimenez will probably fall short of the World Golf Hall of Fame, but the exhibit could do worse than to honor him in some way. I have a suggestion. In one of the rooms place a glass box with an amber lock from his ponytail, a large wine glass and a burnt cigar. – Damon Hack