Notes World Missing Out Charitable Choi
And when Tiger Woods walked by, they never took their eyes off him.
Such moments still happen on the PGA TOUR, but not as frequently. Woods has been on tour for 10 years now, and his schedule rarely takes him to new markets except for the U.S. Open or PGA Championship.
And that's why it's a shame the World Golf Championships don't move around the world as they once did.
The American Express Championship used to alternate between the United States (San Francisco, Atlanta, St. Louis) and Europe (Spain, Ireland and England). The Accenture Match Play Championship tried Australia once, but it was too close to the holidays and all the stars stayed home. The Bridgestone Invitational has left Firestone only once, and that was in 2002 for the Seattle area.
For the next four years, all the 'World' Golf Championships will be held in America.
And it really gets strange next year when CA replaces American Express as a title sponsor and the WGC folds into an existing PGA Tour event at Doral. That means Woods essentially will be defending champion at two tournaments in one. This guy really is good.
The PGA TOUR cannot be faulted entirely. There is a business side to running these tournaments, and the tour largely foots the bill. Corporate sponsors who pony up some $12 million a year for a WGC event want the biggest effect, which means TV ratings, and those suffer when the broadcast is not in a prime window for sports.
'We're not entirely happy that all the events are being played in America,' European Tour chief George O'Grady said last week. 'But they are being played.'
PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem relies on television when saying the WGC still has a global impact on growing the game. But it's a shame there can't be at least one played overseas every year, or every other year.
And it's not just Woods.
Stewart Cink made new fans the way he chatted away while signing autographs for the British youth. They called out to Vijay Singh as he walked across the practice green, although not enough to get him to stop.
Television has a broad reach, no doubt. But there is no substitution for the chance to see players in person.
K.J. Choi defends his title at Greensboro this week, and he wasn't the only winner last year.
Choi, who converted to Christianity while dating his wife, tries to go to church on Wednesday night while on the PGA TOUR, and he found a home in Greensboro at the Korean Presbyterian Church.
He also believes in giving back.
So imagine the surprise when the Rev. Jae H. Chung, the senior pastor at the church, got a letter in the mail two months after the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro and found a $90,000 check from Choi.
Choi earned $900,000 from his victory. The note on the check said 'Tithe for CCG.'
'Maybe God will see the blessing K.J. has given us and be with him again on Sunday,' Chung told the Greensboro News & Record. 'Wouldn't that be wonderful.'
NOT SO EASY
Ernie Els showed up at the American Express Championship with a new caddie, hoping to end a slump that has kept him winless on the PGA TOUR for two years. He wound up fifth, only his fifth top 10 of the season.
Els split from longtime caddie and friend, Ricci Roberts, and replaced him Malcolm Mason. The Big Easy described the split as he and Roberts taking a break. It was not clear how long he would use Mason, who used to caddie for Sam Torrance, although Els planned to use him again this week at the Dunhill Championship.
Els' next start on the PGA Tour is the Chrysler Championship in Tampa. He earned enough money at Amex to move up to 28th on the money list, meaning he most likely will have to play well in Tampa to get into the Tour Championship.
BACK TO SCHOOL
Anthony Kim dropped out of Oklahoma to turn pro, saying he never really liked college. Now, he has no choice but to go back to the worst kind of school.
Even though he has earned nearly $340,000 in his first two PGA TOUR events, Kim did not receive sponsor's exemptions to either Greensboro or Las Vegas, and Disney is looking doubtful. The last chance would be Tampa, but that's the first stage of Q-school.
Kim tied for second in the Texas Open to earn a spot in the field last week at the Southern Farm Bureau Classic, and he was one shot out of the lead early in the final round until finishing in a tie for 16th.
Louise Suggs has been selected for the Bob Jones Award, the highest honor by the U.S. Golf Association that recognizes distinguished sportsmanship in golf.
'It's an incredible honor to win this award named for Bob Jones,' said Suggs, 83, who played with Jones on several occasions. 'Being a native Atlantan I admired and respected him immensely, and I even patterned my own game after him. To be honored with this award is the ultimate accolade I could possibly receive.'
She will receive the award Feb. 3 in San Francisco at the USGA's annual meeting.
Tiger Woods twice has made three straight eagles on the same hole -- the first three rounds of the American Express Championship last week (No. 18), and the NEC Invitational in 2000 (No. 2). ... Freddie Burns was back at work last week in England. The longtime caddie and sidekick of Hal Sutton is working for Tom Pernice Jr. the last month of the year, while Pernice's caddie is on the bag of Vijay Singh. ... Professional golf will return to En-Joie Golf Course next year as the Champions Tour. The B.C. Open had been played at course in Endicott, N.Y., until it was bumped off the PGA Tour schedule. The Champions Tour event purse will be $1.6 million. ... Jay Haas, Tom Kite and Craig Stadler will represent the Champions Tour team in the Wendy's 3-Tour Challenge.
STAT OF THE WEEK
For those who think the Europeans only make putts during the Ryder Cup, consider the following week at the American Express Championship. The 11 players from Europe's team accounted for 176 birdies and eagles, while the 10 U.S. Ryder Cup players had 150 subpar holes.
'I don't know if I was named captain tomorrow what I would differently.' -- David Toms, on the Americans getting blown out in the Ryder Cup for the second straight time.
Tiger putts way into contention at The Open
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – When Tiger Woods benched his trusty Scotty Cameron blade putter last month at the Quicken Loans National for a new TaylorMade mallet-headed version some saw it as a sign of desperation, but if his performance on Carnoustie’s greens on Saturday were any indication it could end up being a calculated success.
Woods stormed into contention on Day 3 with a 5-under 66 to move to within shouting distance of the lead at The Open, thanks in large part to his vastly improved putting.
“I hit so many good putts out there today, and this week from distance, I've had really good feels,” said Woods, whose 29 putts on Saturday belies his performance on Carnoustie’s greens. “Even as this golf course was changing and evolving, I've maintained my feels with the putter. I've made a couple of putts from about 40 to 60 feet, which is nice. I just feel like I've been able to roll the ball.”
The highlight of Woods’ round came at the par-4 ninth hole when he charged in a 40-footer for birdie from the front edge of the green to begin a run of three consecutive birdies. Perhaps more impressive, he didn’t have a three-putt, and has only had two all week, which is always a bonus on links courses.
Woods temporarily took a share of the lead with a lengthy birdie putt at the 14th hole and scrambled for a par save at the last after his drive nearly found the Barry Burn.
“I hit a few putts that I think should have gone in from 20, 30 feet today," he said. "So that's always a good sign.”
TT postscript: A 66, he's in contention - awesome
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Here are a few things I think I think after Tiger Woods went berserk Saturday and shot 5-under 66 to vault up the leaderboard at The Open at Carnoustie:
• THAT WAS AWESOME!
At 4:13PM here in Scotland, when Tiger two-putted for birdie on the par-5 14th hole, he held a share of the lead in a major championship. It was once unthinkable, but it happened. I saw it with my own eyes.
• Tiger’s last two weekend rounds in the 60s in The Open both happened at Carnoustie and both happened on July 21. In 2007, Woods shot 69 here. On Saturday, that score was clipped by three shots. Tiger shot 65 in the second round of The Open at Royal Liverpool in 2006. He won his third claret jug that week. Tiger last shoot 66 in a major during the second round of the 2011 Masters.
• This is the sixth time that Tiger has recorded three consecutive rounds of par of better to start The Open. He went on to win three of the previous five times.
• One bad swing, the only bad swing of the day according to Tiger, produced the luckiest of breaks. Standing on the 18th tee with an iron in hand, Tiger pulled his tee shot that hit on the top of the Barry Burn and very easily could’ve ended in a watery grave. Instead it ended in thick rough, some 250 yards from the pin. Tiger punted it up the fairway, but got up and down from 83 yards to save par and shoot 66. “I hit my number,” he quipped about hitting wedge to 2 feet.
• On the other hand, the lone bogey came from one poor putt. On the par-3 16th hole, with half of Scotland screaming his name, Tiger missed a 7-footer for par. It was deflating at the time because the last three holes are so difficult. Pars on the last two holes were stellar.
• Final stats: 12 of 15 fairways, 14 of 18 greens and 29 total putts. Tiger hit six drivers and one 3-wood, proving that he was way more aggressive. He hit four drivers on Friday and only one on Thursday.
• One of the aforementioned drivers that he hit on the ninth hole was well left and in some thick round, 170 yards from the hole. A safe approach to 40 feet set him up for and easy two-putt par. But he slammed the putt home and made an improbable birdie. “I hit so many good putts out there today, and this week from distance, I’ve had really good feels,” he said.
• In his own words about his chances of winning: “It certainly is possible. I’ve shown that I’ve been there close enough with a chance to win this year. Given what happened the last few years, I didn’t know if that would ever happen again, but here I am with a chance coming Sunday in a major championship. It’s going to fun.”
Yes, yes it is.
Watch: Guy sleeps next to many beers at Open
It's Moving Day at The Open Championship for all but one sedentary fan.
Cameras caught this potentially browned-out man having himself a Saturday snooze on the browned-out grasses of Carnoustie:
Browned out. That's a great term. Glad it's in the public domain. We've been using it all weekend. I imagine we'll continue to use it. A lot.
Watch: Tiger makes 6 birdies, 1 amazing par in Rd. 3
Tiger Woods started the third round of The Open at even par, having made seven birdies and seven bogeys over the first 36 holes at Carnoustie.
Following three pars to start on Saturday, Woods went on a birdie binge.
No. 1 came with this putt at the par-4 fourth.
No. 2 with this two-putt at the par-5 sixth.
No. 3 thanks to this 30-footer at the par-4 ninth.
No. 4 after nearly jarring his approach shot on the par-4 10th.
No. 5 when he almost drove the green at the par-4 11th and two-putted, from just off the green, from 95 feet.
And No. 6, which gave him a share of the lead, came courtesy another two-putt at the par-5 14th.
Woods bogeyed the par-3 16th to drop out of the lead and almost dropped - at least - one more shot at the par-4 18th. But his tee shot got a lucky bounce and he turned his good fortune into a par.
Woods shot 5-under 66 and finished the day at 5 under par.