Harrington Focused Jack at Augusta
The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am will be only his third tournament in the last 10 weeks, although he is working harder than ever to refine and slightly retool his swing. The Irishman does that every year, and being a major champion didn't change that.
'You would think winning a major would mellow you,' he said. 'It's done the opposite to me. It's made me even more obsessive. There's a huge incentive to push on. I don't think I have that attitude of some guys who are trying to prove they deserved to win it. But I certainly have the attitude that I really want to win another.
'It would have been nice to chill out and take some of the glory of it all and be confident. But that's not the way my system works.'
Harrington at the very least rivals Vijay Singh as the hardest-working man in golf, and this offseason was no exception. He figures that's one reason he came down with shingles toward the end of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship three weeks ago.
He also was exhausted from giving so many interviews in Ireland toward the end of the year. He spent that time to reflect on his playoff victory at the British Open, but the start of 2008 had him looking forward.
What he realized was that a player shouldn't truly appreciate winning a major until he retires.
'I would have thought it would have given me the confidence to be happy where I am,' he said. 'It hasn't at all. It only made me want to work harder. I had a swing that won a major, but there's no element that wants to stay the same as the guy who won the major at Carnoustie, which is odd. I think that's peculiar in my psyche.'
Then again, Harrington might be in good company.
He believes Tiger Woods winning the U.S. Open by 15 shots at Pebble Beach in 2000 was as good as anyone could play. Still, it wasn't long after Woods had captured his sixth major in nine starts that he began rebuilding his swing again.
'If he tried to stay still, it probably would have gone away. He had to try to keep working on it,' Harrington said. 'I would say that as long as he's doing something, he feels like he's moving forward.
Anthony Kim is skipping the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and taking his chances.
This is the final week before the world ranking sets the 64-man field for the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona. Ernie Els already has said he won't be playing, so the top 65 will qualify.
Kim currently is at No. 64, the only player between Nos. 62 and 66 who is not competing this week. J.B. Holmes, who moved up to No. 62 with his victory in the FBR Open, Daniel Chopra (63) and Pat Perez (66) are at Pebble Beach, while Brendan Jones of Australia (65) is playing in India on the European Tour. Simon Dyson (70) also is playing in India.
NICKLAUS AT AUGUSTA:
Jack Nicklaus might be playing at the Masters for the next decade or two -- in the Par 3 Tournament.
'I got into that a couple of years ago, and my son, Jack, said, 'Oh, dad, you're going to play in the Par 3. How about having Charlie caddie for you? It would be a big thrill,'' Nicklaus said.
Charlie is his grandson, and the Golden Bear is a big believer in equal opportunity.
'Once I had one grandchild (as a caddie), I have 19 more, and I'll have 20 more in another month,' Nicklaus said.
Nicklaus stopped playing the Masters in 2005, another reason he can play in the Par 3. The six-time champion conceded to being superstitious, well aware that no one ever won the Masters after winning the Par 3 Tournament.
He also said it cut into his preparations.
'You play a practice round on Wednesday, preparing yourself for a golf tournament,' he said. 'And you go out and play on another golf course, another set of greens, and you're spending energy when you should be resting for the start of the tournament.
'Do you spend a lot of energy? No, you don't. Is it too much to ask the players to play? No, it' s not too much. But in the days when I was competitive and felt like I had a chance, I had so much energy focused on wanting to win that golf tournament that it was a distraction for me and not something I wanted to do.'
HARD TO SEE:
One of the most raucous victories for Tiger Woods came in October 2005 in the American Express Championship in San Francisco, when he rallied to catch John Daly and then beat him on the third hole of a playoff in a rock concert atmosphere.
Among those at Harding Park that week was the future No. 1 -- in women's golf.
And she bought a ticket.
It was the first time Lorena Ochoa said she saw Woods play in person, even if she couldn't see much.
'I was very impressed,' Ochoa said. 'I wanted to be close on every shot, but it's impossible. I was trying to follow him so I could watch, but it was crazy out there.'
Paul Azinger will announce his four captain's picks for the U.S. Ryder Cup on Sept. 2 in New York, a day after the Deutsche Bank Championship and about two weeks before the Ryder Cup. ... Since his first full season, Tiger Woods has won an official tournament overseas every year except 2003 and 2007. ... Twelve of Phil Mickelson's 32 victories have come at PGA TOUR events using multiple courses -- three at Pebble Beach, three at Torrey Pines, three at Tucson, two at the Bob Hope Classic and one at the Byron Nelson Championship.
STAT OF THE WEEK:
Former British Open champion Todd Hamilton tied for 25th at the FBR Open, ending a streak of 38 consecutive PGA TOUR events in which he failed to finish in the top 25.
'What fascinated me about the whole thing was why anyone else cared what another professional golfer thinks about their game.' -- Padraig Harrington, on Ian Poulter's comments he potentially is the only player capable of challenging Tiger Woods.
Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Otaegui wins Belgian Knockout by two
ANTWERP, Belgium – Adrian Otaegui beat Benjamin Hebert by two shots in the final of the Belgian Knockout to win his second European Tour title.
The hybrid format opened with two rounds of stroke play on Thursday and Friday, before the leading 64 players competed in nine-hole knockout stroke play matches.
Otaegui and Hebert both finished three shots off the lead at 5 under after the first two days and worked their way through five matches on the weekend to set up Sunday's final at the Rinkven International Golf Club.
''I'm very happy, very relaxed now after the last nine holes against Ben that were very tight,'' Otaegui said. ''I'm just very proud about my week.
''I just tried to play against myself. Obviously your opponent is just next to you but I just tried to focus on my game.''
Scotland's David Drysdale beat James Heath of England by one shot in the playoff for third spot.
Herbet said he was ''just a little short this week.''
''Adrian is a very good player, especially in this kind of format,'' he said. ''He's already won one tournament in match play last year. This format is fun, it puts you under pressure almost every hole because everything can happen. I think it's a great idea.''
Spieth looking forward to Colonial after T-21
DALLAS – Jordan Spieth finally got a few putts to drop at the AT&T Byron Nelson, but after a frustrating week he’s looking forward to heading across town.
Spieth shot a 4-under 67 amid soggy conditions at Trinity Forest Golf Club, his lowest score of the week but one that still left him in a tie for 21st at 11 under par. His frustrations had a common theme throughout the week, as he ranked seventh among the field in strokes gained: tee to green but 72nd in strokes gained: putting.
“Felt like I played better than I scored,” Spieth said. “Just burned the edges or barely missed, and I misread a lot of putts, too. Overall just struggled a little bit matching line and speed and kind of getting it all together out here.”
Spieth remains in search of his first win since The Open in July, but his results in the interim haven’t exactly been a struggle. This marks his seventh top-25 finish in his last nine starts as an individual.
Spieth is in the midst of a busy part of his schedule, and will play his third of four events in a row next week at the Fort Worth Invitational. With runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2017 sandwiched around a victory there two years ago, Spieth did little to contain his excitement for a return to venerable Colonial Country Club.
“It’s one of those courses where whether I have my A game or not, I seem to find my way into contention, which is really cool,” Spieth said. “It’s one of four or five places I go into, no matter where the game is at, I’m excited to get started and feel like I have a chance to win.”
Razorbacks, Fassi scrambling to recover in NCAAs
STILLWATER, Okla. – We’re not even halfway through this NCAA Championship, and the top women’s player in the country is already worn out.
Indeed, it’s been three rounds of hard work for Maria Fassi as she tries to claw herself and second-ranked Arkansas back into contention at Karsten Creek.
“I haven’t been able to create momentum of any kind,” she said after a third-round 73 left her at 16-over 232, 23 shots off the individual lead and outside the top 90. “I’ve been fighting every single hole. It’s just been exhausting.”
It’s been that way for her teammates, too.
Arkansas entered nationals as one of the pre-tournament favorites. The Razorbacks won the SEC Championship for the first time. They won seven events, including a regional title in which they shot 26 under par on the University of Texas’ home course. They were comfortable knowing that they not only had Fassi, the top-ranked player and a six-time winner this season, but also a strong supporting cast that includes Baylor transfer Dylan Kim and Alana Uriell.
And then the first two rounds happened. The Razorbacks had shot a team score in the 300s just once all season, but they posted two in a row here at Karsten Creek (308-300).
Fassi’s play has been even more of a mystery. In the opening round she shot 81 – with two birdies. She followed it up with a second-round 78, then birdied her last two holes just to shoot 73 on Sunday. She thought she had a smart game plan – taking fewer drivers, putting the ball in play on arguably the most difficult college course in the country – and it just hasn’t worked out.
“I just need to stay really patient, be true to myself and keep fighting,” she said. “I know what I’m capable of doing, and if I play my game it’s going to be plenty good.”
So what’s been the conversation among teammates the past two nights?
“It involved a lot of cuss words,” Fassi said. “We know this is not Arkansas golf. We know this is not the game that we play.”
The top-15 cut line should have been an afterthought for a team as talented as the Razorbacks, and yet they needed a 1-over 289 just to play Monday’s fourth round of stroke-play qualifying.
“Backs against the wall, they had to go get it done and they did an awesome job,” said Arkansas coach Shauna Taylor. “In our locker room we call it ‘Do the Possible.’ It’s doing what you’re capable of doing.”
And now the Razorbacks sit in 11th place, just six shots off the top-8 cut after their two worst rounds all season. They still have a chance to advance.
“You can’t panic,” Taylor said. “We’ve played great golf all year. We’ve put ourselves in a hole and it was time to go to work and dig yourselves out of it.”