Notes Tigers Huge Impact Strickers Comeback
Tom Cannon, dean of business at the University of Buckingham, says in his research for HSBC that Woods' presence in England and Ireland over the next three weeks will boost the golf economy by as much as 5 percent. Including press coverage, travel, sales of golf equipment and broadcast rights, Cannon estimated the total value on the core golf economy could be as high as $320 million.
'The size and reach of the Tiger economy is remarkable,' Cannon said. 'Drawing these figures together gives an astonishing picture not only of the impact of a single, outstanding sportsman but of the growing power and influence of sport and sporting celebrity.'
After the World Match Play, Woods will play the Ryder Cup in Ireland, then return to the London area for the American Express Championship.
STRICKER'S STIRRING COMEBACK
Steve Stricker went from desperation to disappointment, a wild swing in emotions that ultimately indicates a successful season.
Consider his toughest adjustment.
'It was weird to change your focus from trying to get into tournaments to trying to get on the Ryder Cup team,' he said.
Having failed to make it through Q-school, the only status Stricker had at the start of the year was as a past champion. That only got him into three tournaments the first 15 weeks of the season. Four months later, he did well enough in limited opportunities to finish 21st in the Ryder Cup standings and get serious consideration from Tom Lehman as a captain's pick.
Like others who got passed over, the disappointment has grown stronger as the Ryder Cup approaches. But at least Stricker has some perspective on how far he has come.
'I couldn't be that upset, not with the year I've had,' Stricker said.
His year isn't over. Stricker shot four rounds in the 60s and finished 10th in the Canadian Open. Not only was that his third consecutive top 10, he moved up to No. 36 on the money list with just over $1.6 million, nearly as much as he earned the last four years combined. An even stronger indicator of his play is that Stricker ranks fifth in scoring average.
Stricker's last victory was the Accenture Match Play Championship in Australia at the start of the 2001 season. He felt his game sliding a year later, and it fell off the map the next two years. The harder he worked, the more it seemed he went backward. The low point was not turning in his application for Q-school in 2004, then falling out of the top 150 by one spot in the final tournament.
'Going back to Q-school was a shot in the gut, a real wake-up call,' Stricker said.
He only made it to the final stage last year, but he was headed in the right direction. He finally broke through with a third-place finish in Houston, then followed that with a tie for sixth in the U.S. Open and a tie for second a week later at the Booz Allen Classic.
He wasn't eligible for any of the majors at the start of the year, but qualified for two -- tops 10s in the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship -- and couldn't qualify for the British Open because the 36-hole qualifier was rained out.
What also might have spurred him on was having another mouth to feed.
Stricker's wife, Nicki, gave birth to another daughter (Isabella) on May 10. She learned she was pregnant about the time he was getting for the second stage of Q-school. Their other daughter was born in August 1998, the year he finished 13th on the money list and was runner-up to Vijay Singh in the PGA Championship at Sahalee.
'Maybe we need more kids,' he said with a laugh.
Stricker and his wife joked during the offseason that he should try to get comeback player of the year, which would mean he at least earned his card for the '07 season. That now seems a lock.
And at 36th on the money list, the Tour Championship isn't out of the question.
YOUTH IS SERVED
The latest teenager to make a splash is Gipper Finau, a 16-year-old from Salt Lake City, who earned a spot in the Nationwide Tour event last week by shooting 63 in the Monday qualifier, then became the youngest player in that tour's history to make the cut with a 67 in the second round.
He finished at even-par 288 to tie for 58th among the 61 players who made the cut, turning heads along the way. Finau averaged 339.3 yards off the tee -- the highest average of any player this year in a Nationwide event -- and led the field with 24 birdies.
Finau, a junior at West High School, was the youngest player to make the cut in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event since 15-year-old Bob Panasik in the 1957 Canadian Open.
Cristie Kerr's victory turned the LPGA Tour's player-of-the-year award into a four-way race. Lorena Ochoa is still in control with 216 points, followed by Annika Sorenstam (194), Karrie Webb (184) and Kerr (174).
Sorenstam has won the award the last five years, and even though she is having to catch up, she likes her position. Sorenstam has finished first and second in her last two events, 'so I would say I'm ready.'
With 30 points available for winning, all it takes is one victory to put Sorenstam into the lead. And with the ADT Championship worth double points, the race could be decided in the final tournament of the year.
Charlie Sifford has been selected to receive the Old Tom Morris Award, the most prestigious honor by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. ... The top five players from the Futures Tour money list earned LPGA Tour cards for 2007 -- Song-Hee Kim, Charlotte Mayorkas, In-Bee Park, Kristy McPherson and Meagan Francella. ... Peter Jacobsen's season on the Champions Tour most likely ended when he had surgery to replace his left hip over the weekend. Jacobsen said he expects to be out six to seven weeks, although he expects to be 'as good as new.' It was the fourth surgery in the last three years for Jacobsen, who said this about his hopes for 2007: 'I like to use 14 clubs, and I don't want one of them to be a scalpel.'
STAT OF THE WEEK, PART I
Paula Creamer used the phrase, 'I mean,' 12 times during her news conference at the John Q. Hammons Classic.
STAT OF THE WEEK, PART II
Michelle Wie used the phrase, 'You know,' 13 times during her news conference at the Women's British Open.
'There have been enormous galleries, which have been difficult to control. But I still think the worst crowd you can have is no crowd.' -- European Tour chief executive George O'Grady after Michelle Wie missed the cut at the Omega European Masters.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Three of world's top 5 MC; not 60-year-old Langer
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three of the top five players in the world missed the cut at The Open.
Bernhard Langer did not.
The 60-year-old, who is in the field via his victory in last year’s Senior Open Championship, shot even-par 71 on Friday. At 2 over through 36 holes, he safely made it under the plus-3 cut line.
"You know, I've played the Masters [this year], made the cut. I'm here and made the cut. I think it is an accomplishment," he said. "There's a lot of great players in the field, and I've beaten a lot of very good players that are a lot younger than me."
Langer had three birdies and three bogeys in the second round and said afterwards that he was “fighting myself” with his swing. He’s spent the last few days on the phone with his swing coach, Willy Hoffman, trying to find some comfort.
Despite his score, and his made cut, Langer the perfectionist wasn’t satisfied with the way he went about achieving his results.
"I wasn't happy with my ball-striking. My putting was good, but I was unlucky. I had like four lip-outs, no lip-ins. That part was good. But the ball-striking, I wasn't really comfortable with my swing," he said. "Just, it's always tough trying stuff in the middle of a round."
Langer, a two-time Masters champion, has never won The Open. He does, however, have six top-3 finishes in 30 prior starts.
As for finishing higher than some of the top-ranked players in the world, the World Golf Hall of Famer is taking it in stride.
"I'm not going to look and say, 'Oh, I beat Justin Rose or beat whatever.' But it just shows it's not easy. When some of the top 10 or top 20 in the world don't make the cut, it just shows that the setup is not easy," Langer said. "So I got the better half of the draw maybe, too, right? It wasn't much fun playing in the rain, I guess, this morning for five hours. I had to practice in the rain, but I think once I teed off, we never used umbrellas. So that was a blessing."
Kisner doubles 18, defends not laying up
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It was only fitting that Jean Van de Velde was there working as an on-course reporter on Friday as Kevin Kisner struggled his way up Carnoustie’s 18th fairway.
Rolling along with a two-stroke lead, Kisner’s 8-iron approach shot from an awkward lie in the rough from 160 yards squirted right and bounced into Barry Burn, the winding creek where Van de Velde’s title chances at the 1999 Open Championship began to erode.
Unlike Van de Velde, who made a triple bogey-7 and lost The Open in a playoff, Kisner’s double bogey only cost him the solo lead and he still has 36 holes to make his closing miscue a distant memory. That’s probably why the 34-year-old seemed at ease with his plight.
“It just came out like a high flop shot to the right. It was weird. I don't know if it caught something or what happened,” said Kisner, who was tied with Zach Johnson and Zander Lombard at 6 under par. “You never know out of that grass. It was in a different grass than usual. It was wet, green grass instead of the brown grass. So I hadn't really played from that too much.”
Like most in this week’s field Kisner also understands that rounds on what is widely considered the most difficult major championship venue can quickly unravel even with the most innocent of mistakes.
“To play 35 holes without a double I thought was pretty good,” he said. “I've kept the ball in play, done everything I wanted to do all the way up into that hole. Just one of those things that came out completely different than we expected. I'll live with that more than chipping out and laying up from 20 feet.”
Wind, not rain more a weekend factor at Open
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – After a half-day of rain in Round 2 of the 147th Open Championship, the weekend offers a much drier forecast.
Saturday at Carnoustie is projected to be mostly cloudy with a high of 62 degrees and only a 20 percent chance of rain.
Sunday calls for much warmer conditions, with temperatures rising upwards of 73 degrees under mostly cloudy skies.
Wind might be the only element the players have to factor in over the final 36 holes. While the winds will be relatively calm on Saturday, expected around 10-15 mph, they could increase to 25 mph in the final round.
Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.
The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.
The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.
This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.
After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.
“I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”