Notes Tiger vs Vijay Match Looming at Presidents Cup
That's what could make the Presidents Cup so appealing.
Instead of a blind draw, Sunday singles matches work like a draft, with the captains taking turns putting their players in the lineup. A good show usually takes precedence over strategy, which leads to compelling matches. Nick Price was No. 1 in the world in 1994 when he played the best American, Fred Couples. Woods faced Greg Norman in 1998 at Royal Melbourne in Australia, and he played Ernie Els two years ago at Fancourt in South Africa.
Now that the matches are back in America, Sept. 22-25 at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in northern Virginia, it would seem logical for the captains to put Woods and Singh together.
``I don't know what the players want to do,'' U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus said. ``We discussed it down there (South Africa) that Ernie wanted to play Tiger, and Tiger wanted to play Ernie. We thought it was the right thing for that venue. We'll have to wait and see.''
There already is one vote for a Woods-Singh match.
``I'd love to have it,'' Woods said. ``That would be fun. I've never been one to back off a challenge. I think he would want to play me.''
They were the featured match at RTJ in 2000, the year Singh won the Masters and Woods won the other three majors. Making that match even more memorable was that Singh's caddie, Paul Tesori, playfully wrote ``Tiger Who?'' on his cap. Woods took it personally.
Both players refused to concede 2-foot putts, and Woods won, 2 and 1.
Tesori is back on the bag for Singh, prompting Woods to say, ``Maybe I should write 'Tiger Who?' on my cap.''
Nicklaus says he usually lets the players decide whom they want to play, although that wasn't the case in Australia, where the International team won handily.
The natural fit was Woods-Norman, but Nicklaus said the Shark wanted no part of Woods that year. Norman had only been playing one month after missing most of the year with shoulder surgery, and International captain Peter Thomson tried to honor the request.
``Tiger told me, 'I want Greg if you can get him,''' Nicklaus said. ``Thomson said, 'Greg asked me to stay away from him, and I said, 'Well, you do the best you can to keep him away, and I'll do the best I can to get him.' That's what my guy asked me to do.''
Woods outlasted Norman, 1 up, although the International team had already won the cup.
Arjun Atwal signed for a 74 in the final round of the Memorial when he was asked about an overseas event he played in March, which was otherwise insignificant except for one detail.
Atwal and Thongchai Jaidee played with Colin Montgomerie during the first two rounds of the Indonesian Open, where Monty failed to mark his ball during a rain delay, then replaced it the next morning in a better position.
Montgomerie conceded it was a bad drop when he review videotape some six weeks after the tournament, donating his prize money to tsunami relief. Some believe he should have been disqualified. Ultimately, his fourth-place finish at the Indonesian Open enabled him to qualify for the U.S. Open by a fraction of a world ranking point.
What exactly happened?
``It was Friday, and he was struggling to make the cut,'' Atwal said. ``The two of us hit it on the green. His ball was not in a bunker, but in the (grass) face of a bunker. His stance was almost in the sand, but in the grass, and he was falling backward when he got over it.
``He stood up there, fell backward once, then saw lightning. They hadn't blown the horn yet, and he just walked off. He was like, 'Forget this, I'm not going to hit this shot.'''
When play resumed the next morning, Monty's ball was gone, and he called over Atwal and Jaidee as he tried to sort out where his ball was in the rough.
``He was like, 'You think right about here?' And we're like, 'Yeah, sure.' I mean, what am I going to say, or Thongchai, to Colin?'' Atwal said. ``I have no idea whether he improved it or not, because I didn't check his original lie. Guys don't look at other guys' lies. We marked our ball, and by the time we turned around, he had left.''
Atwal, in his second year on the PGA Tour, said he would be surprised if Montgomerie purposely improved his lie.
``He knows the cameras are always on him, and people are always watching,'' Atwal said.
Sean O'Hair turned pro a year before he got out of high school, and much has been made of his father's influence on a career that nearly crashed.
Still, the kid always had the ability.
Thumbing through the record books, one can find O'Hair, 16, winning the Junior PGA Championship in 1998 at Palm Beach Gardens, closing with a 67 for a one-shot victory over Nathan Fritz. Also in the field that year were a pair of future U.S. Amateur champions (Bubba Dickerson tied for seventh, Ricky Barnes tied for 14th), and a U.S. Public Links Amateur champion (Brandt Snedeker finished 18th).
``I was the second-ranked junior in the country at one point,'' O'Hair said. ``But my junior career was very short. I stopped playing when I was 16, and just started playing mid-amateur events and qualifiers for the Nike Tour. I still had two more years left.''
The Royal & Ancient accepted a record 2,499 entries for the British Open, to be played July 14-17 at St. Andrews. The previous record was 2,481 in 2000, the last time the Open was played at St. Andrews. ... Mike ``Fluff'' Cowan, the caddie for Tiger Woods when he won the Masters by 12 shots and for Jim Furyk when he won the U.S. Open, will be among five people inducted Sept. 9 into the Maine Golf Hall of Fame. ... Two-time U.S. Open champion Andy North has received a special exemption to the U.S. Senior Open.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Christina Kim is the ironwoman on the LPGA Tour, the only player to have competed in all 12 tournaments this year.
``When I retire, I'm not going to say the trees were bigger when I used to play.'' -- Brad Faxon, on past generations complaining how much tougher they had it in their era.
Phil rubs fan's Donald Duck hat seven times, signs it
There is a case to be made that what Phil Mickelson did on Saturday made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.
There is also a case to be made that the USGA's setup of Shinnecock Hills made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.
Whatever you think about what Mickelson did on Saturday - and how he attempted to justify it after the fact without even a hint of remorse - watch this video.
The next time you hear someone say, "If anybody else had putted a moving ball on purpose and not apologized for it, it would get a different reaction," you can point to this video and say, "Yeah, here's why."
Here's what happened once a still-strident Mickelson was done rubbing Donald Duck hats on Sunday, per Ryan Lavner:
If you’re wondering whether Mickelson would be defiant or contrite on Sunday, we don’t know the answer. He declined to stop and speak with the media, deciding instead to sign autographs for more than a half hour and then offering a few short answers before ducking into player hospitality.
“The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’” he said. “I don’t know.”
The 2024 Ryder Cup at Bethpage is going to be a three-ring circus, and Mickelson, a likely choice to captain the U.S. team, will be the ringmaster.
Separately, shoutout to 2017 Latin Am champ Toto Gana, who does a terrific Donald Duck (skip to end).
We followed our defending champion Toto Gana during his registration! He even did his Donald Duck impression!— LAAC (@LAAC_Golf) January 17, 2018
Acompañamos a Toto Gana, defensor del título, durante todo el proceso de acreditación. ¡Incluso imitó a Donald Duck!#LAAC2018 pic.twitter.com/NGh7hS4cCz
Ryder Cup race: Mickelson out, Simpson in
There's a new man at the top of the U.S. Ryder Cup race following the U.S. Open, and there's also a familiar name now on the outside looking in.
Brooks Koepka's successful title defense vaulted him to the top of the American points race, up four spots and ensuring he'll be on the team Jim Furyk takes to Paris in September. Dustin Johnson's third-place finish moved him past Patrick Reed at No. 2, while Webb Simpson entered the top eight after a a tie for 10th.
While Bryson DeChambeau remained at No. 9, Phil Mickelson dropped two spots to No. 10. Tony Finau, who finished alone in fifth, went from 16th to 13th, while Tiger Woods fell two spots to No. 37.
Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:
1. Brooks Koepka
2. Dustin Johnson
3. Patrick Reed
4. Justin Thomas
5. Jordan Spieth
6. Rickie Fowler
7. Bubba Watson
8. Webb Simpson
9. Bryson DeChambeau
10. Phil Mickelson
11. Matt Kuchar
12. Brian Harman
On the European side, England's Tommy Fleetwood took a big stride toward securing his first Ryder Cup appearance with a runner-up finish that included a Sunday 63 while countryman Matthew Fitzpatrick snuck into a qualifying spot after tying for 12th.
Here's a look at the updated Euro standings, with the top four from both points lists joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn at Le Golf National:
1. Tyrrell Hatton
2. Justin Rose
3. Tommy Fleetwood
4. Francesco Molinari
5. Thorbjorn Olesen
6. Ross Fisher
1. Jon Rahm
2. Rory McIlroy
3. Alex Noren
4. Matthew Fitzpatrick
5. Ian Poulter
6. Rafael Cabrera-Bello
Koepka autographs local kids' 'Go Brooks' sign after win
Brooks Koepka is a two-time U.S. Open winner, but that doesn't mean he's now too big to go sign a couple pieces of cardboard in somebody's front yard in the middle of the night.
Koepka's girlfriend, Jena Sims, posted two pictures to her Instagram story on Sunday of "Go Brooks" signs she says were put up by some local kids in the area where Koepka was staying for the week.
The first is dated prior to Koepka's final-round tee time.
The second is from Sunday night.
And here, separately, for no reason in particular (other than the fact that she posted it) is a video of Sims running over a parking cone at last year's U.S. Open at Erin Hills.
Speaking of kids, just feels those two are gonna make it.
Koepka moves to No. 4 in world with U.S. Open win
After successfully defending his U.S. Open title, Brooks Koepka reached a new career high in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Koepka held off Tommy Fleetwood to win by a shot Sunday at Shinnecock Hills, becoming the first player to go back-to-back in nearly 30 years. As a result, he jumped five spots in the latest rankings to No. 4, six spots higher than he reached with last year's U.S. Open victory at Erin Hills.
Fleetwood finished alone in second place and moved up two spots to No. 10, tying his career-best placement. Patrick Reed moved up two spots to No. 11 by finishing fourth, while fifth-place Tony Finau went from No. 37 to No. 31.
It was a largely quiet week in the rankings despite the fact that a major championship was contested. Outside of Koepka and Finau, the only other player inside the top 50 to move up or down more than three spots was Jason Dufner, who went from 53rd to 48th with a T-25 finish.
Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1 for the second consecutive week, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Koepka and Jordan Spieth. Jon Rahm dropped one spot to No. 6, with Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Fleetwood rounding out the top 10. Hideki Matsuyama fell two spots to No. 12, dropping out of the top 10 for the first time since October 2016.
Despite a missed cut at Shinnecock, Tiger Woods actually moved up one spot to No. 79 in the latest rankings. He plans to play the Quicken Loans National and The Open in the coming weeks, which will be his final two chances to move into the top 50 in time to qualify for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. The event is being held for the final time this summer at Firestone Country Club, where Woods has won eight times.