Notes Defending Champ Missing Pebble
Oberholser won't be able to defend his lone PGA TOUR victory this week at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am because of a bulging disk in his back, which likely will keep him out until March.
'This couldn't have happened at a worse time for me,' Oberholser said. 'Missing the chance to defend my AT&T title on one of my favorite courses in the world is just awful. I said last year this is my fifth major and I meant it. But right now, I have to focus on the healing process, and that may take some time.'
There were signs that Oberholser might have a rocky start to this year.
He opened with a 70 in the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship, then withdrew before the second round when his back injury flared up. A week later, he went to his locker at the Sony Open and found his name tag missing, replaced by Monday qualifier Scott Piercy.
The locker room attendants at Waialae told a bewildered Oberholser they had heard he had gone home to Arizona.
'I never withdrew,' Oberholser told them.
He was given another locker, punched in the electronic combination and stared into an empty locker.
'Um, excuse me,' Oberholser said to the attendant. 'Any idea who (took) the three dozen Titleist balls in my old locker? Brand new? Not even on the market yet?'
The Pro-Am was only a few hours away, and Oberholser said he had enough golf balls in his bag from Kapalua to get by. Turns out it didn't matter, however, because he withdrew a few hours later when back pains persisted. And he hasn't played since then.
Further proof that a fitness craze has reached golf: Augusta National now has a gym.
Club chairman Billy Payne said in a recent interview that the club has built a gym near the cabins that can be used by members and their guests if they're staying on the property.
'It's just an amenity we wanted to add,' Payne said.
Asked whether Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and other players might use the gym during the Masters, Payne said he hadn't considered that, but figured they likely would stick to their routines by using fitness trailers.
The club does not talk about membership matters, and the chairman didn't elaborate when asked if building a gym was a sign that members were getting younger at Augusta National.
'I think fitness is an increasingly important part of golf,' he said. 'It wasn't any more complicated than that.'
The accolades kept coming when Woods made his 2007 debut by winning the Buick Invitational for his 55th career victory, and seventh straight on the PGA TOUR.
Ron Sirak of Golf World wrote that 'you could cut up Tiger's record and give about a dozen guys pretty nice careers.'
That was a bit of an exaggeration.
But not much.
Woods' career would be equal to the PGA TOUR careers of Paul Azinger, Nick Faldo, Jim Furyk, Tom Lehman, Mike Weir and Fuzzy Zoeller. Combined, they have 12 majors among 55 victories on the U.S. tour.
So it's not a dozen guys. It's only a half-dozen.
Shaun Micheel ended Woods' winning streak by beating him in the first round of the World Match Play Championship on the European Tour last September.
Woods still has a seven-tournament winning streak on the PGA TOUR, and if his next start is the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona in two weeks, there's a chance Micheel might be there to face him in the opening round.
This is the final week to qualify for the 64-man field at Match Play, which is determined by world ranking. Micheel is No. 63 and not playing at Pebble Beach. First, he has to hope enough people don't pass him in the ranking to knock him out of the tournament. Oberholser is not expected to play because of a back injury, so Woods likely will play whoever is ranked No. 65.
Others on the bubble include Brett Quigley (No. 64), J.J. Henry (No. 65) and Dean Wilson (No. 66), all of whom are playing at Pebble.
BAY HILL CHANGES
Arnold Palmer's golf course isn't getting harder, but it might look that way on the scorecard.
Bay Hill Club and Lodge will play to a par 70 for the first time next month in the Arnold Palmer Invitational by converting two holes to par 4s. The 558-yard fourth hole will measure about 480 yards, while the 517-yard 16th hole will play close to 500 yards.
'It's something I've been thinking about for a few years now, and I figured it was time, simply for the way the game is progressing along,' Palmer said. 'Most of the guys are hitting irons into 16. It's play as a par 4, anyway. So I thought we should take a look at this. I think this will make it more interesting for the overall tournament in relation to par.'
It certainly will change the dynamics of the closing holes, a time for players to protect the lead with pars instead of trying to make up ground with birdies. The 17th is possibly the toughest par 3 at Bay Hill, and the 18th is a daunting par 4 with a pond protecting the front and right side of the green.
Walter Driver was elected to another one-year term as USGA president. ... The Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone in Akron, Ohio, won't be the biggest sporting event in the area this year. By moving to the week before the PGA Championship (Aug. 2-5) as part of the FedExCup schedule, the third round Saturday will go up against the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony in nearby Canton, Ohio. ... Scott Hoch has signed an endorsement deal with Adams Golf. Hoch had been playing Yonex since the early 1990s. ... Europe has decided not to change its system of picking a team for the Ryder Cup, which it has won three straight years. Five players will come from world ranking points, five from a European Tour money list with two captain's picks. Qualifying starts Sept. 9 at the European Masters and ends Aug. 31, 2008 at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in Scotland.
STAT OF THE WEEK
For the first time since 2000, the LPGA Tour does not have a major champion from the previous season on the cover of its media guide. It went with Lorena Ochoa (player of the year), Seon Hwa Lee (rookie of the year) and Julieta Granada (ADT Championship winner).
'I really enjoyed my week. It's just that the last 20 minutes didn't work out the way I wanted.' -- Ernie Els, who finished one shot behind Henrik Stenson at the Dubai Desert Classic.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Watch: Na punctuates caddie tiff with hole-out
Microphones captured a fascinating and testy exchange between Kevin Na and his caddie, Kenny Harms, on Na's final hole, No. 9.
Na was in the right rough, 185 yards from the green, which was guarded by water. He vacillated between a hybrid and an iron, but with either club he would have to hit "a 40-yard cut," as Harms termed it.
"Over the green's dead," Harms warned.
"It's not gonna go over the green, Kenny," Na replied.
Na finally settled on an iron and said to Harms, "As long as you're OK with this club."
"I'm not," harms replied. "I'm not OK with either one of them."
"I'm going with this," Na ended the discussion.
He missed the green with his approach shot, but avoided the water. After taking a free drop away from some TV cables, he had 92 feet 3 inches to the cup and of course, holed the pitch shot for a birdie-3, a 62 and a one-shot lead at the end of the first round.
Na (62) leads Hoffman by one at Colonial
Kevin Na leads the Fort Worth Invitational by one over Charley Hoffman following a first-round 8-under 62. Here's where things stand through 18 holes at Colonial.
Leaderboard: Na (-8), Hoffman (-7), Emiliano Grillo (-6), Jhonattan Vegas (-6), Andrew Putnam (-6), Beau Hossler (-6)
What it means: The veteran Na is in search of just his second PGA Tour victory in 367 events played. The 34-year-old's lone victory came at the 2011 Shriners to go along with nine runner-ups, the most recent of which was a tie for second at this year's Genesis Open. Na missed three straight cuts in April but has rallied back with a weekend stay at The Players and a T-6 at last week's Byron Nelson. Ranked 75th in the world, he is not currently qualified for the U.S. Open or the Open Championship.
Round of the day: Na turned in a clean card Thursday with six birdies and an eagle at the par-5 first, his 10th hole of the day. He closed with a chip-in birdie at No. 9 following a friendly disagreement with his caddie (more on that below).
Best of the rest: Hoffman was likewise bogey-free, drawing seven circles. The four-time Tour winner and typically steady performer has yet to register a top-10 finish this season.
Biggest disappointment: Not that a round of 1 under is tragically disappointing, but Jordan Spieth has a pretty solid history of going low at this event and contending for the title. He's seven back through Round 1.
Shot of the day: Satoshi Kodaira recorded the second albatross in tournament history when he holed a 3-iron from 234 yards at the first.
Honorable mention: Na got into a pretty good back-and-forth with his caddie about whether to lay up or try to clear the water from the right rough at No. 9. Na went for it, avoided hazard, and holed this chip for birdie.
Quote of the day: "I told you." - Na, after his chip-in
Golf Channel's NCAA Golf Coverage Continues Mon-Wed., May 28-30 With the NCAA Men's Golf Championships
Two National Championships to be Decided Over a Three-Day Span – Individual (Mon., May 28) and Team (Wed., May 30)
Eight of the Top-10 Ranked Programs in the Country Set to Compete; Reigning NCAA Men’s National Champions Oklahoma and Current Top-Ranked Oklahoma State Paired Together Starting Friday
Buick and Stifel Co-Presenting Sponsors of Golf Channel’s Coverage of the NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships
ORLANDO, Fla., May 24, 2018 – Coming on the heels of Wednesday’s dramatic championship match where Arizona defeated Alabama in a playoff to claim their third women’s golf team national championship, Golf Channel returns to Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla. next week for the 2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf National Championships. Taking place Monday-Wednesday, May 28-30, Golf Channel’s coverage will feature nearly 30 hours of live tournament and on-site wraparound news coverage, showcasing the top men’s college golf programs in the country.
NCAA Men’s Golf Championships Coverage: Coverage begins on Monday, May 28 to crown the individual national champion and to track the teams attempting to qualify for the eight-team match play championship. Golf Channel’s coverage on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 29-30 will include all three rounds of the team match play, ultimately crowning a team national champion.
In addition, Golf Central will surround live tournament action with pre-and post-event news coverage produced on-site at Karsten Creek Golf Club, as well as daily news updates on Morning Drive and online via Golf Channel Digital. News and tournament coverage also will be live streamed on Golf Channel Digital. College Central, Golf Channel’s online home for college golf, will provide comprehensive editorial coverage throughout the championships.
Golf Channel NCAA Men’s Golf Championships Coverage (all times ET)
Monday, May 28
Individual National Championship
4-8 p.m. (Live)
Tuesday, May 29
Quarterfinals, Team Match Play
11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)
Tuesday, May 29
Semifinals, Team Match Play
4-8 p.m. (Live)
Wednesday, May 30
Team Match Play National Championship
4-8 p.m. (Live)
Stifel and Buick Sign on as Co-Presenting Sponsors for Golf Channel’s NCAA Golf Championships Tournament Coverage: New for 2018, Stifel Financial Corp. and Buick have signed on as co-presenting sponsors for Golf Channel’s tournament coverage of the 2018 NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships. In addition, Stifel has extended its partnership with the Fred Haskins Commission, Golf Channel and Golfweek as presenting sponsor of the Fred Haskins Award, given annually to nation’s outstanding male collegiate golfer.Golf Channel will announce the Fred Haskins Award presented by Stifel following the conclusion of the NCAA Men’s Golf Championships, on a live edition of Golf Central, Wednesday, June 6 at 6 p.m. ET. The show will include profiles on the top candidates for the award and a live interview with the winner, who also will receive an exemption to compete in the 2018 Greenbrier Classic on the PGA TOUR. The Haskins Award honors the nation’s most outstanding male Division I collegiate golfer as selected by his peers, coaches and the golf media.
Semifinal Teams in Match Play to Receive Invitations to Compete in East Lake Cup: The East Lake Cup, taking place in late October at historic East Lake Golf Club, will feature the top-performing teams from the 2018 NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships. Invitations for the field have been extended to Arizona, Alabama, Southern California and Stanford – semifinalists in the NCAA Women’s Golf Championships, and also will be extended to the semifinalists in the Men’s Championships. Modeled after the NCAA Golf Championships, the format for the East Lake Cup consists of an opening round of stroke play to crown an individual male and female champion and determine seeding for the following two days of match play competition. Golf Channel will air live coverage of the East Lake Cup Monday-Wednesday, Oct. 29-31.
College Central – Golf Channel Digital Coverage: Golf Channel will provide comprehensive coverage via College Central,Golf Channel Digital’s home for college golf. Led by Jay Coffin, and Ryan Lavner, College Central will be the source for all things college golf, including tournament results and scores, features and columns, video highlights and breaking news.
Country singer Owen shoots 86 in Web.com debut
Country music star Jake Owen struggled in his Web.com Tour debut, shooting a 14-over 86 in the opening round of the Nashville Golf Open.
Owen, who played as a 1 handicap earlier this year while teaming with Jordan Spieth at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, put three balls out of bounds over his first nine holes, including two en route to a quadruple-bogey 9 on the par-5 18th hole. After making the turn in 46, Owen came home in 40 without making a single birdie.
Owen is playing as an amateur on an unrestricted sponsor exemption, the same type used by NBA superstar Steph Curry on the Web.com Tour last year and by former NFL quarterback Tony Romo this year on the PGA Tour. Curry missed the cut after rounds of 74-74 at the Ellie Mae Classic, while Romo shot 77-82 at the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship.
Owen tallied nine pars, six bogeys, two doubles and a quad in his opener and was the only player from the morning wave who failed to break 80. The closest player to him in the standings was two-time major champ Angel Cabrera, who opened with a 79.
While Owen struggled against a field full of professionals, he took the setback in stride and even took to Twitter in the middle of his round to fire back at some of his online critics:
No prob Doug. I’m +11 now and tweeting during my round. I’m playing as hard as I can. I have 8 holes left if you want to come out and kiss my ass. https://t.co/UMeFWFKLVP— Jake Owen (@jakeowen) May 24, 2018