Hooks and Cuts: Rivalries and revelations


The PGA Tour leaves the West Coast and heads to the Sunshine State for the Florida Swing. Here are a few hooks and cuts as we head down the road to Magnolia Lane.

• The rise of the once forgettable Honda Classic is like the Detroit Lions going to the Super Bowl.

• Charlie Epps, old-school coach to two-time major champ Angel Cabrera, on Tiger Woods’ swing: “He’s trying to bring a muscle car to a Formula One race.”

• Plenty of guys out hit Mark Wilson. Very few out think him.

• Just did a lengthy interview with the legendary Mickey Wright for an exclusive story airing later this year.  Wright detests slow play, thinks Michelle Wie’s too mechanical and says her favorite swing, believe it or not, belongs to Phil Mickelson. 

• The Euros have the top four in the world ranking, but the U.S. has a great shot to win the Ryder Cup.

• If the wind blows at PGA National, announcers go Stephen King with words like carnage and wreckage.  That course in high winds for an average chop can be a couple-dozen-ball experience.

• Wie has gone from can’t miss, to can’t-believe-she-might-never-win-a-major.

• Tiger vs. Phil has rivalry tension. So, too, does Rory McIlroy vs. Lee Westwood.

• Colleague Brandel Chamblee, with a hard twang, on soon-to-be Hall of Famer Dan Jenkins, “Funny lines pour out of that guy like sweat off a fat man on a hot day in Texas.”

• The Match Play weekend, the playoff at Riviera, the Philly Mick Sunday masterpiece at Pebble, the Kyle Stanley made-for-TV movie, the Humana revival – the PGA Tour aced its West Coast Swing.  And with Tiger, Rory and Lee at Honda, and Phil and Luke Donald joining the fun next week at Doral, the Tour’s got big time mojo right now.

• Sadly, Robert Allenby allowed history to be written with one poorly chosen driver on the final hole of regulation in Mexico.  Eight playoff holes later, people were still asking, “Huh?”

• Anthony Kim’s on more commercials than leaderboards these days.

• I liked “The Artists,” but loved “My Week with Marilyn” and “Midnight in Paris.”

• I like when Johnny Miller says “gack.”  As in, “I gacked on that 3-footer.”

• Hunter Mahan talks about not attaching your identity to the scores you shoot. Self loathing is real on Tour. One former major champ once told me that after a wide right 5-iron in a big spot he muttered to himself on the long walk to the next shot, “You’re a miserable human being.”  He got up and down, and eventually won.  Another Hall of Famer, when asked if he ever beat himself up on course replied, “Are you kidding? I made double just yesterday and said, ‘You’re a #@*&in’ #@&*.’”  Fill in the blanks as you wish. The game’s hard.

• Fascinating to watch the boy turn into a man, to watch Rory, a bit more serious, with a sharper edge that the great ones develop.

• Westwood can bench press 240 pounds. He’s strong, able to turn that sturdy frame through the barrel with peerless consistency, wearing out the center of the clubface. But can he feather it, caress it, cozy it and coax it when it matters most? Pete Cowan, his coach, has him standing closer to the ball and using a stiffer wrist action on his chips and pitches. Even a modest improvement should be enough to push Westy over the major hump.

• Just as Phil, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia and so many others were diminished when compared to dominant Tiger, Tiger is now suffering from the same comparison.

• Colleague Frank Nobilo on Mahan: “He drives it straight and may be the best in the game with a 9-iron through a 6-iron in his hands.”

• I’ve loved match play ever since Shim Bennioff coughed up a 4-up lead with five to play against me 30 years ago.  I was on my way to making double at the par-4 17th and thought I was toast with Shim 40 yards short of the green in two.  But Shimmer yip-bladed his wedge over the green and off the property, into the adult book store adjacent to the course. He made triple, opening the door for my heroic comeback.