Notes For Singh Houston Might Be Launching Pad
He missed a cut on the West Coast. He was dismissed early from the Match Play Championship. He was never a serious threat at the Masters, except for whatever went on in the Champions Locker Room during his spat with Phil Mickelson over spike marks.
His dry spell might be cause for alarm, but only if taking a snapshot of his 2005 season.
The big picture shows Singh in the same position he was a year ago when he arrived at the Houston Open.
His only victory was at Pebble Beach. He missed the cut at the Buick Invitational, didn't last long at La Costa and didn't offer anyone much of a clue that he was on the verge of a special year.
Then he won Houston by two shots over Scott Hoch, shot 29 on the back nine the next week in New Orleans for a comeback victory and wound up winning nine times and nearly $11 million when the season was over.
PIGSKINS AND THE PGA
Except for one week in October, the PGA Tour won't have to worry about the NFL getting in the way of its fall tournaments.
Still, that tournament is a big one.
The American Express Championship will be played Oct. 6-9 at Harding Park in San Francisco, finishing the same day the San Francisco 49ers host to the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning.
Otherwise, the tour has no conflicts with the NFL.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are on the road during the 84 Lumber Classic. And the Sunday of the Presidents Cup in northern Virginia, the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens have a bye.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a bye during the Funai Classic at Disney, and the Bucs are on the road the next week during the Chrysler Championship at Tampa. During the one fall tournament in North Carolina, the Carolina Panthers are at home on Monday night -- the day after the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro.
The season-ending Tour Championship is again at East Lake in Atlanta. The Falcons play at Miami that week.
The World Golf Hall of Fame is constantly looking at ways to tweak its induction ceremony. One suggestion was to have LPGA Tour players inducted at age 40, the same age when PGA Tour players are eligible for the ballot.
``That has come up in conversation,'' LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw said recently. ``It came up in our committee meetings, as to whether we would look at that. But I don't think we'll look at it very long. We think our 10-year requirement is reasonable.''
The LPGA requirement for the Hall of Fame is 27 points -- one point for a victory, two for a major, and points for winning the Vare Trophy for player of the year -- and playing 10 years on tour.
Annika Sorenstam was inducted into the Hall of Fame when she was 33. Karrie Webb will be 30 when she is inducted this fall after completing her 10th year. Votaw said their induction, along with Se Ri Pak at age 30 in 2007, is a reflection of three great players who came along at about the same time.
Some found it strange that Vijay Singh was voted the 2004 player of the year on the European tour, even though he played only four times in Europe.
Singh is a European tour member, so that made him eligible.
The same ostensibly holds true for Padraig Harrington. The Irishman was named European tour player of the month for March ``following his superb victory in the Honda Classic.''
Harrington only played three times in March -- all of those tournaments in Florida.
He was selected over a ``strong list of contenders,'' one of those being Ernie Els, who won back-to-back weeks on the European tour in Dubai and Qatar.
DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN
Darren Clarke had a six-shot lead after 36 holes of the MCI Heritage, then closed with rounds of 73-76 and lost to Peter Lonard of Australia.
He became the first player to blow a six-shot lead at the halfway point of a PGA Tour event since Nick Price in the 1984 Canadian Open.
Price also closed with rounds of 73-76 and wound up losing to an Australian -- Greg Norman.
The Magnolia Course at Disney is the latest PGA Tour course to get lengthened.
During a makeover this summer, Disney plans to lengthen 10 holes on the Mag by a total of 300 yards, making the course play about 7,500 yards from the championship tees. Three changes will come on the par 3s, and four of the par 4s will be at least 480 yards.
``When Joe Lee designed our finishing hole, his intention was for players to use a 4- or 5-iron for their approach,'' Disney head pro Kevin Weickel said. ``Now we have some players using a wedge. By adding 30 yards to the length of No. 18, we won't return it to Joe's original intent, but we will make it more interesting and challenging for the players.''
Disney also will be resurfacing the greens on the Magnolia, having done that to the Palm Course last year.
Tiger Woods now has three homes to go along with his boat. The Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet reports that Woods and wife Elin Nordegren have bought a two-bedroom apartment worth $1.8 million in central Stockholm, where his wife's family lives. Nordegren's mother, Barbro Holmberg, is Sweden's migration minister. ... Davis Love III went over $30 million in career money with his tie for second in the MCI Heritage. The others to surpass $30 million are Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson. ... The Wachovia Championship has spared no expense in running a first-class tournament, and that extends to the trophy. The tournament commissioned Waterford Crystal in Ireland to create a trophy that is 20 inches tall and weighs 23 pounds. ... Chick-fil-A will no longer be the title sponsor of the LPGA Tour event after this year. Tournament officials say the tournament will continue with a multiyear commitment from Metro South Golf Charities.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Fourteen of the 16 events on the PGA Tour this year have been won by players who competed in the 2003 Presidents Cup.
``I think the American teams have a tendency to get uptight.'' -- Jack Nicklaus, U.S. captain for the Presidents Cup. The U.S. men have not won a cup competition since 2000.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Fleetwood, with his fancy umbrella, fires 65 on Day 2
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tommy Fleetwood looked like an Open rookie when he set out on Friday under gray skies and a cold, steady rain.
Because the Englishman doesn’t have an equipment sponsor he made a quick turn through the merchandise tent for an umbrella – but at least he didn’t have to pay for it.
“We stole it,” he laughed when asked about his Open-brand umbrella. “We got one given for free, actually. We didn't steal it. We don't always carry an umbrella. So it just so happens this week that we've got a nice Open Championship [umbrella]. It looked quite nice, the yellow and the course.”
It was Fleetwood’s only rookie move on Day 2 at Carnoustie, posting a flawless 65 to move into an early tie for second place at 5 under par.
Fleetwood holds the competitive course record at Carnoustie, a 9-under 63 he shot last fall during the European Tour’s Dunhill Links Championship, but given Friday’s conditions and the difficulty of this course during The Open, his 65 on Friday might have been better.
“It's not a course record, but it's pretty good,” said Fleetwood, who was stroke behind leader Zach Johnson. “If you went out, you wouldn't really fancy being 6 under out there. So I think that's a good indication of how good it was.”
It was a dramatic turnaround for Fleetwood on Friday. He said he struggled with his ball-striking, specifically his tee shots, on Day 1, but he was able to turn things around with an hour-long session on the range following his opening round.
Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship
Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.
Tweets by GCTigerTracker
McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.
McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.
But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.
“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.
“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.
“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”
McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.
“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”
McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.
How The Open cut line is determined
Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.
The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:
• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.
• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.
• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.
The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.