In the End More Claret Jugs or Green Jackets

By Associated PressJuly 25, 2006, 4:00 pm
135th Open Championship HOYLAKE, England -- Jack Nicklaus might have been right about Tiger Woods, even if he was looking at the wrong place.
 
Nicklaus cranked up the hype about Woods on the eve of the 1996 Masters, after he and Arnold Palmer played a practice round with the 20-year-old amateur. Nicklaus called him 'absolutely the most fundamentally sound golfer that I've seen at almost any age.'
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods now has three claret jugs to go along with his four green jackets.
Combine the Masters victories of those two legends -- that's 10 green jackets -- and Nicklaus said the kid should win more than that.
 
But imagine if that practice round had been in 1995 at St. Andrews instead of a year later at Augusta National.
 
The conversation might have been different.
 
'This kid is absolutely the most creative shotmaker that I've seen at almost any age,' Nicklaus might have said. 'Take my three British Opens and the five won by Tom Watson, and he should win more than that.'
 
It could happen.
 
By the end of his career, Woods might be identified more by the silver claret jug than the green jacket.
 
The Masters was thought to be Woods' domain ever since he set the course record (18-under 270) and won by a record 12 shots in 1997. Woods now has four green jackets, not quite halfway there to Nicklaus' prediction.
 
Augusta National is all about power, and Woods no longer holds exclusive rights in this game.
 
The British Open is about imagination, and he showed Sunday at Royal Liverpool he has no peer.
 
Woods was whisked away to the clubhouse late in the evening to sip champagne with the Royal & Ancient, where he regaled committee members with the shots he played -- only one of them with a driver out of his 270 strokes -- on his way to a two-shot victory over Chris DiMarco.
 
In his previous tournament, a tie for second at the Western Open, Woods had what swing coach Hank Haney described as his best week with the driver in five years. But after one trip around the firm, fast links of Hoylake, Woods realized he was better off playing it safe.
 
The course measured 7,258 yards, but it felt like 6,000 yards because of the crusty conditions.
 
Even though he easily could have taken the bunkers out of play by blasting driver over them, Woods continually laid far back by hitting iron off the tee, leaving him long irons into the green. He reasoned that, even with a shorter iron, getting close to the pin was no bargain.
 
It paid off so many times over four days.
 
On the second hole Sunday, he hit iron off the tee and played his second shot to about 25 feet. Sergio Garcia hit a driver over the bunkers and had only a flip sand wedge to the green, but he could get it no closer than 30 feet.
 
Ernie Els found out what can happen with a driver, hitting into a gorse bush Saturday on the seventh hole. Garcia found a bunker on the par-5 fifth hole Sunday that made him scramble for par. Woods played back with a 3-wood, then hit 5-iron into 25 feet for eagle.
 
'One of the most fascinating things of the week was to see the different strategies employed by different players,' R&A chief executive Peter Dawson said Monday morning. 'The vast majority of players hit far more drivers than Tiger did. He chose to play his way, and it actually resulted in him playing a longer golf course than he does most weeks.
 
'Tiger found the way to suit his game.'
 
Els played with Woods on Saturday and was skeptical about his decision not to hit driver.
 
'At times I didn't think it was the right plan because he is so long off the tee he could have hit very short irons into some of the holes,' Els said. 'But he stuck to his plan, and it really worked out for him. He knows how to win these things, and it's going to be tough to beat him now.'
 
But the brilliance of Woods went beyond leaving the driver in his bag for all but one hole.
 
Every shot was designed for a specific hole, whether that meant a towering shot or low and boring. His 4-iron from 190 yards to 12 feet on the 12th hole Friday was a low fade, while his 4-iron on the 14th hole that he made for eagle was a slight draw.
 
His caddie, Steve Williams, said he missed only three shots over 72 holes.
 
'It was probably one of the best ball-striking weeks I've ever had as far as control,' Woods said. 'That's shaping the ball, moving my trajectory and different heights and controlling my spin going into the greens. It wasn't getting away from me. If I wasn't hitting it well, it would have been pretty difficult around here.'
 
Woods led the field in driving accuracy -- that might be a first -- by missing only eight fairways all week. He was tied for second in greens in regulation (80.5 percent), and missed only one green Sunday. That led to his only bogey in a 5-under 67, which matched the best score of the final round, rare for the guy in the last group.
 
He now has three claret jugs, halfway home to the record six by Harry Vardon, one less than his collection of green jackets.
 
But a closer look at the record, and the constantly changing course at Augusta National, makes it even more likely that the British Open might prove to be his best major.
 
He has finished out of the top 10 only three times at the British Open, and one of those was at Muirfield in 2002 when he was two shots behind until getting caught in the whipping wind that sent him to an 81.
 
Woods came within one shot of a playoff at Royal Birkdale in 1998, and he was two shots away at Royal St. George's in 2003.
 
He will go for his third straight British Open -- Peter Thomson in 1954-56 was the last player to do that -- next year at Carnoustie, reputed to be the toughest links course in the world. Woods probably won't be able to leave driver in the bag.
 
But odds are, he'll find another way.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - 135th Open Championship
  • Course Tour - Royal Liverpool
  • Full Coverage - 135th Open Championship
     
    Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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    Club apologizes for calling cops on black women members

    By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 11:07 pm

    YORK, Pa. - A golf club in Pennsylvania has apologized for calling police on a group of black women after the co-owner and his father said they were playing too slowly and refused requests to leave the course.

    “I felt we were discriminated against,” one of the women, Myneca Ojo, told the York Daily Record. “It was a horrific experience.”

    Sandra Thompson and four friends met up Saturday to play a round of golf at the Grandview Golf Club, where they are all members, she told the newspaper.

    At the second hole, a white man whose son co-owns the club came up to them twice to complain that they weren’t keeping up with the pace of play. Thompson, an attorney and the head of the York chapter of the NAACP, told the newspaper it was untrue.

    On the same hole, another member of the group, Sandra Harrison, said she spoke with a Grandview golf pro, who said they were fine since they were keeping pace with the group ahead of them.

    Despite that, the women skipped the third hole to avoid any other issues, she said.

    It’s part of golf etiquette that slow-moving players let groups behind them play through if they are holding things up, and often golf courses have personnel who monitor the pace of play, letting golfers know when they are taking too long.

    The five are part of a larger group of local women known as Sisters in the Fairway. The group has been around for at least a decade, and all of its members are experienced players who have golfed all over the county and world, Thompson said. They’re very familiar with golf etiquette, she said.

    After the ninth hole, where it is customary to take a break before continuing on the next nine holes, three of the group decided to leave because they were so shaken up by the earlier treatment, the women told the paper.

    Thompson said the man from the second hole, identified as former York County Commissioner Steve Chronister, his son, club co-owner Jordan Chronister and several other white, male employees approached the remaining two women and said they took too long of a break and they needed to leave the course.

    The women argued they took an appropriate break, and that the men behind them were still on their beer break and not ready to tee off, as seen in a video Thompson gave the newspaper. The women were told that the police had been called, and so they waited.

    Northern York County Regional Police arrived, conducted interviews and left without charging anyone.

    “We were called there for an issue, the issue did not warrant any charges,” Northern York County Regional Police Chief Mark Bentzel said. “All parties left and we left as well.”

    A phone listing for Steve Chronister rang busy on Monday. He told the York Daily Record he didn’t have time to comment on Sunday.

    Jordan Chronister’s wife and co-owner of the club, JJ Chronister, said Sunday she called the women personally to apologize.

    “We sincerely apologize to the women for making them feel uncomfortable here at Grandview, that is not our intention in any way,” she told the newspaper. “We want all of our members to feel valued and that they can come out here and have a great time, play golf and enjoy the experience.”

    She said she hopes to meet with them to discuss how the club can use what happened as a learning experience and do better in the future.

    Thompson said she’s not sure a meeting is what needs to happen.

    “There needs to be something more substantial to understand they don’t treat people in this manner,” she said.

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    Randall's Rant: Augusta has the power to strengthen LPGA

    By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 9:57 pm

    Augusta National Golf Club is turning women’s golf upside down.

    If you care about the LPGA, that should be your hope, anyway.

    Your hope should be that the investment made in the new Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship announced at the Masters three weeks ago will eventually filter up the women’s ranks.

    While the new amateur event comes with significant challenges for the women’s tour - with its first major (the ANA Inspiration) in a tough spot the same week as the Augusta National Women’s Amateur - there is LPGA seed money being planted in Georgia

    There’s an investment that may grow the women’s game beyond fueling new interest among girls.

    “I just hope corporations start recognizing the value of investing in the women’s game, the way Augusta National does,” two-time major champion Cristie Kerr said. “There are so many corporate sponsors in the men’s game who don’t invest a single dollar in the women’s game. Obviously, that’s their prerogative, but we have a lot of value as a tour.”

    And there’s your hope.

    Augusta National is a collection of power brokers, CEOs and leaders now invested in growing the women’s game.

    They’re taking a special interest in watching these young female amateurs emerge, and it’s only natural to expect they’ll become emotionally invested in where these young players go.

    And a lot of these young players will go on to the LPGA.

    The LPGA is thriving under commissioner Mike Whan’s leadership, with Whan seeing opportunities where others didn’t. He saw Asian interest in the tour as an asset, not the liability so many thought a decade ago.

    The LPGA had withered to 23 events in 2011 with $40 million in total prize money. This year, it's up to 34 events with a tour-record $68 million in prize money. Whan did that with a lot of Asian backing.

    Of the 10 tour events the LPGA has staged so far this year, including this week’s tournament in San Francisco, nine have Asian-based title sponsors. Even the LPGA’s domestic events are thriving on Asian money. 



    All six of the U.S. events staged so far this year have Asian-based title sponsors. You have to move into May and next week’s Volunteers of America Texas Classic before finding an American corporate title sponsor of an American LPGA event.

    That starts changing with summer approaching, but overall there will be 17 Asian-based companies or organizations as title sponsors of LPGA events this year, with 14 American-based entities sponsoring or owning events.

    Whan says that’s a good thing.

    “The diversity of sponsorship on the LPGA makes us a stronger business,” Whan said. “Since I’ve been in office, we’ve worked through recessions in different parts of the world. None of those recessions were crippling to our overall schedule, because we have so many sponsors on board, from so many different places.”

    Whan says American corporate interest is growing considerably, with more American marketing partners joining the LPGA this year. The next steps players would like to see are increased purses and endorsement opportunities for women.

    The winning two-man team at the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic this week will take home a combined $2,073,000. This week’s LPGA Mediheal Championship features a $1.5 million purse for the entire field.

    “The income gap in golf is as much a concern to me as the corporate income gap is to working women,” 12-time LPGA winner Stacy Lewis wrote in an essay earlier this year for the World Economic Forum.

    U.S. Solheim Cup captain and LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster started wearing a San Francisco Giants cap this year with no endorsement deals on her bag or shirt. She has become more outspoken about the lack of corporate support for all female golf pros.

    “I'm going to say it right now, and I probably shouldn't say it, but I just don't understand how all these companies get away with supporting PGA Tour events and not supporting the LPGA,” Inkster said at the last Solheim Cup. “It makes me a little upset, because I think we've got a great product. We deserve our due.”

    With Augusta National investing in young amateur women, it may only be a matter of time until corporate America significantly steps up support. The game’s greatest power brokers appear ready to grow with the young women they will begin investing in next year. That should be the hope for anyone who cares about the LPGA.

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    Report: Tour close to finalizing Detroit tournament

    By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 7:07 pm

    With the final pieces of the 2019 schedule falling into place, the PGA Tour appears on the verge of returning to Michigan for the first time in nearly a decade.

    According to a Detroit News report, the Tour is "believed to be close" to an agreement to bring a tournament to the Motor City beginning in 2019, reportedly likely to take place at Detroit Golf Club near downtown.

    While the specifics remain undisclosed, the prime candidate for such a move appears to be The National. The Washington, D.C.-area event, which benefits Tiger Woods' TGR Foundation, was sponsored by Detroit-based Quicken Loans from 2014-2017. This year the tournament will be conducted at TPC Potomac without a title sponsor.

    According to a Detroit News report in September, Quicken Loans CEO Dan Gilbert was open to continuing his company's sponsorship of the event if it shifted to Detroit.

    In addition to The National, the only other current PGA Tour event without a title sponsor is the Houston Open. On Monday Charles Schwab was introduced as the new title sponsor of the Fort Worth Invitational beginning in 2019.

    The PGA Tour has not held an event in the state of Michigan since 2009, the final year of the now-defunct Buick Open at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club. While the final details of a revamped schedule have yet to be announced, the Tour is expected to unveil its itinerary for the 2018-19 season at The Players next month.

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    Inbee Park quietly reclaims world No. 1

    By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 6:44 pm

    Inbee Park moved back to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings in about as ho-hum fashion as you’ll ever see a player take the top spot.

    It isn’t that she doesn’t care about the top ranking. It just wasn’t a priority in her return to golf this year, after missing big portions of the last two years with injuries.

    With an Olympic gold medal and seven major championship titles, the LPGA Hall of Famer isn’t done trying to top the scoreboards that matter most to her.

    “To be honest, I never really think about being No. 1 again,” Park said early last week, before tying for second at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open. “If it comes to me, great. If not, it doesn't matter.”

    It came to her for the fourth time in her career.

    Park, 29, reigned at No. 1 for 59 weeks in her longest run on top, back in the 2013 and ’14 seasons.

    Oddly, this run to No. 1 almost comes as a surprise to Park, who didn’t need long to get back to the top spot after returning to the tour. She won the Bank of Hope Founders Cup last month in her second after missing seven months with a back injury.

    Park last lost the No. 1 ranking in October of 2015, doing so to Lydia Ko.

    In six starts this year, Park has finished T-3 or better four times. She leads the tour in scoring average (69.13) and is second in greens in regulation (77.5 percent).

    Just wait until her putter heats up.

    Yeah, Park’s not very satisfied with her putting. She’s one of the greatest putters who ever played the women’s game, but she has been frustrated with the inconsistency of her stroke much of this season. Of course, her standards are high. She ranks second in putts per greens in regulation so far this year.

    On Sunday, this is how Park summed up her putting in 2018: “Some days, I’ve been really good. Some days, I’ve been really bad.”

    Park has led the LPGA in putts per GIR in five of the last 10 years. She switched from her preferred mallet-style putter to a blade earlier this season and won with a Toulon Madison blade at the Founders Cup last month. She was back with an Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball mallet this past week. That’s the putter she used to win the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro two years ago. She used an Odyssey Sabertooth winged mallet in her 2013 run of three consecutive major championship victories.