Summer of Love

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Here we are, mid-July, more than half way through golfs official season. So far, theres no reason to be disappointed. Theres plenty to love, in fact, about what has happened thus far.
 
Think about it. Love Tiger or not, hes given us plenty of great moments, and the feeling that ' dare I say it ' his best might yet be on the way. Woods has climbed back to the top of the money list on the PGA Tour with four wins in 14 starts on the season.
 
Bogeys on the 16th and 17th holes at the U.S. Open aside, Woods might have given us the single season slam we could only dream about ' no matter who the player.
 
No question, Woods is the story to love above all others this season. Victories aside, the one thing I am loving more than anything about Woods these days is his regard for the spotlight.
 
Look, its easy to just make good for the cameras when the interviews are rolling, but Tiger seems to be opening up more than ever. Did you see his interview (post Open Championship) with Kelly Tilghman of The Golf Channel? The smile, the body language ' it all adds up to a Woods whos learned plenty from the likes of Nicklaus and Palmer about dealing with the big world hes created for himself. Some (readers of this column and others) like to tear Tiger down for his on-course behavior - and it has been justified (Ive been vocal about it as well). I think Woods has earned the right to be praised of late.
 
And remember, over the last few years, hes always been at the podium in the press room answering the questions - whether hes been winning majors or not.
 
Tiger is feeling good about his golf and good about his life it appears. Thats good news for the PGA Tour, for its players and for its future business.
 
Some other things to love as of July:
 
Big Names
Woods, Singh, Els, and Mickelson have all had their moments of victory. Els needs a few here in the States to cement a solid year. The Dual at Doral might have been the years best PGA Tour event for final round, edge of the seat drama.
 
Michelle Wie
While not yet an official tour winner, she has proven herself to be a winner in my book. Ask yourself how many other women (LPGA professionals) let alone girls could have posted the numbers she did at the John Deere Classic. She didnt win the U.S. Amateur Public Links, but her reaction to our Mike Ritz about qualifying for a return trip was priceless. Surprised that by reaching the final eight shed earned a return in 2006, she couldnt have been happier. Proof right there that shes just a girl who can enjoy the moment.
 
Sean OHair
He has been such a bright spot for the PGA Tour. His rookie season that now includes a John Deere victory, a runner-up at the EDS Byron Nelson Championship and a top 15 finish at the Open Championship is one of the best in recent memory on any tour given the family circumstances he has overcome.
 
Great Finishes
Padraig Harringtons eagle putt at 18 at Westchester was the best finish in a regular PGA Tour event this year. Birdie Kims birdie from the bunker is the best finish in any major this year. perhaps the best finish to any tournament depending on your perspective.
 
By the way, whats the best birdie of the year thus far? Is it Tigers masterful and miraculous chip at 16 at Augusta? Is it Kims hole-out from the bunker to win the Womens U.S. Open? Or might it be Jack Nicklaus at the 18th at St. Andrews last week? A birdie to finish a major career isnt all bad is it? Great debate? Or is it simple?
 
Annika
Sorenstam is right on schedule to continue her run of Rolex Player of the Year awards. Six wins thus far including two majors. Not bad, just expected.
 
Hey Beer Man!
Fifty-year-old Mark Johnson, who won the Qualifying Tournament, makes his first victory among the most memorable on the Champions Tour this year. He made eagle at 15 in the final round and then holed an 89-yard wedge for eagle at the final hole to win by four shots. The former beer truck driver could be the fan favorite if he can muster any more of that magic.
 
Obviously Im forgetting some things. Thats where you can help. Go ahead, refresh my memory.
 
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