Tiger a silent host with a mediocre field

By Associated PressJuly 7, 2009, 4:00 pm
BETHESDA, Md. ' Tiger Woods is 33 and already has more PGA Tour victories than Arnold Palmer. One of these days, he might have the kind of influence on players that the King can wield with a mere glint in his eye.
 
Consider the case of one player, whom every tournament would love to have in its field. He had no intention of playing the Arnold Palmer Invitational this year, for no other reason than he wanted to change up his schedule leading to the Masters. The young star was at Seminole in early March when he ran into Palmer, who greeted him with a smile, a firm handshake and a question.
 
Are you coming to my tournament? Palmer asked him.
 
Strangely enough, his plans changed that moment.
 
As far as anyone can tell, Woods never had that kind of moment with any of the big names who were somewhere other than his AT&T National last week. Only four of the top 12 players showed up at Congressional.
 
Would it have helped if Woods had done some recruiting?
 
Ive never asked anybody to play, Woods said. I dont I feel awkward doing that. If the guys can find time in their schedule to play, wed love to have them.
 
Congressional managed just fine without them.
 
The golf course, which will host its third U.S. Open in two years, is a classic that rivals any on the PGA Tour.
 
The tournament honors the military over the Fourth of July holiday outside the nations capital. Kids not only get in free, one marshal named Ron Fitzsimmons plucked a dozen of them out of the gallery each day and parked them behind the seventh tee so they could see. Proceeds will go toward building another Tiger Woods Learning Center, this one in the Washington area.
 
In three years, the AT&T National has become a model event.
 
Along with those trappings, it was quite a show inside the ropes. Woods played in the final pairing with the dynamic defending champion, Anthony Kim. He wound up beating another rising star, Hunter Mahan, who threw down a 62 in a final round that some 40,000 fans didnt want to see end.
 
To no ones surprise, the overnight TV rating was up 200 percent from last year.
 
Youve got Tiger and Anthony Kim in the last group, Fred Couples said. Does it really matter whos not here?
 
Even so, it was clear Couples was perturbed by the no-shows, and he wasnt alone. There was plenty of grumbling going on outside the Beltway as tournament organizers quietly took roll.
 
More than 100 players earned over $1 million last year, and most of them owe that to Woods.
 
Was it too much to return the favor by playing his tournament?
 
None of the no-shows would have sold any more tickets. The crowd was estimated at over 160,000 for the week, and that doesnt include Wednesdays pro-am when Woods played with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo in Redskins territory.
 
In a twist of fate, perhaps it was only fitting so much attention was paid to absentees.
 
Strength of field has been a debate since the days of Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, into the era of Couples and Greg Norman, yet no one has brought more attention to it than Woods.
 
Ask tournament directors if they would rather have nine of the top 10 players in the world without Woods, or only one player in the top 10 as long as that one was Woods. If they take Door No. 1, its only because they dont have Tiger.
 
The perception is that if Woods plays, its a great field, even when it really isnt. And when he doesnt play, golf is irrelevant.
 
Four PGA Tour events that Woods missed this year had a higher-rated field than he attracted to the AT&T National, yet there was a story every week, in Los Angeles and Houston, in Fort Worth and Phoenix, about why Woods wasnt there.
 
Remember, the only reason the AT&T National exists is because Jack Vickers folded his tent at Castle Pines after spending a decade trying to lure back Woods to the International (ignoring that he had Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and Sergio Garcia every year).
 
The AT&T National has everything a player could want, much like Quail Hollow and the Memorial.
 
So why dont more top players show up?
 
A strong field starts with a great course and a good spot on the schedule. What once appeared to be a great date ' a week involving the Fourth of July ' is starting to look suspect.
 
Sure, the Western Open rarely suffered when Woods, Nick Price and Tom Watson were winning against a strong field. However, that was when the PGA Tour season ended in early November, not the middle of September in the FedEx Cup configuration. A contracted schedule means more choices, and good events get crammed together in the summer.
 
Plus, more Europeans are in the top 50, and this is when their schedule actually takes them to Europe ' France last week, the Scottish Open this week, then the British Open.
 
Dont be surprised to see the AT&T National move to May if a spot in the schedule opens up in 2012, if not sooner.
 
In the meantime, Woods said all the right things Sunday night.
 
For the guys who have come here over the last three years and played, he said, hopefully theyve enjoyed their time.
 
Thats all he can ask.
 
And as long as Woods is host of the tournament, thats all it needs.
 
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Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 6:30 pm

Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.

On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Web.com Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.

In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids

Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Web.com Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.

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Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.

He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.

McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.

"That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."

Check out the full interview below:

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Bubba gets to drive dream car: K.I.T.T. from 'Knight Rider'

By Grill Room TeamMay 25, 2018, 4:42 pm

Bubba Watson is a known car aficionado.

He purchased the original General Lee from the 1980’s TV show “Dukes of Hazzard” – later saying he was going to paint over the Confederate flag on the vehicle’s roof.

He also auctioned off his 1939 Cadillac LaSalle C-Hawk custom roadster and raised $410,000 for Birdies for the Brave.

He showed off images of his off-road Jeep two years ago.

And he even bought a car dealership near his hometown of Milton, Fla.

While recently appearing on the TV show “Jay Leno’s Garage,” the former “Tonight Show” host surprised Watson with another one of his dream cars: K.I.T.T.

The 1982 Pontiac Trans Am was made famous in the ‘80s action show “Knight Rider.”

Though, Bubba didn’t get to keep this one, he did get to drive it.

Bubba Watson gets behind the wheel of his dream car—the KITT from Knight Rider from CNBC.

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Cut Line: USGA readies for Shinnecock 'mulligan'

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 3:26 pm

In this week’s Memorial weekend edition, the European team adheres to the Ryder Cup secret formula, the USGA readies for the ultimate mulligan at next month’s U.S. Open and a bizarre finish at the Florida Mid-Am mystifies the Rules of Golf.

Made Cut

Cart golf. When the U.S. side announced the creation of a Ryder Cup task force following the American loss at Gleneagles in 2014, some Europeans privately – and publicly – snickered.

The idea that the secret sauce could be found in a meeting room did stretch the bounds of reason, yet two years later the U.S. team emerged as winners at Hazeltine National and suddenly the idea of a task force, which is now called a committee, didn’t seem so silly.

To Europe’s credit, they’ve always accomplished this cohesion organically, pulling together their collective knowledge with surprising ease, like this week when European captain Thomas Bjorn rounded out his vice captain crew.

Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald (a group that has a combined 47-40-13 record in the matches) were all given golf cart keys and will join Robert Karlsson as vice captains this year in Paris.

Perhaps it took the Americans a little longer to figure out, but Bjorn knows it’s continuity that wins Ryder Cups.



Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

The USGA’s mulligan. The U.S. Open is less than a month away and with it one of the most anticipated returns in recent major championship history.

The last time the national championship was played at Shinnecock Hills was in 2004 and things didn’t go well, particularly on Sunday when play had to be stopped to water some greens that officials deemed had become unplayable. This week USGA executive director Mike Davis was asked about the association’s last trip to the Hamptons and, to his credit, he didn’t attempt to reinvent history.

“Looking back at 2004, and at parts of that magnificent day with Retief (Goosen) and Phil Mickelson coming down to the end, there are parts that we learned from,” Davis said. “I’m happy we got a mulligan this time. We probably made a bogey last time, maybe a double bogey.”

Put another way, players headed to next month’s championship should look forward to what promises to be a Bounce Back Open.

Tweet of the week:

Homa joined a chorus of comments following Aaron Wise’s victory on Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson, which included an awkward moment when his girlfriend, Reagan Trussell, backed away as Wise was going in for a kiss.

“No hard feelings at all,” Wise clarified this week. “We love each other a ton and we're great. It was a funny moment that I think we'll always be able to look back at, but that's all it really was.”


Missed Cut

Strength of field. The European Tour gathers this week in England for the circuit’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, and like the PGA Tour’s marquee stop, The Players, the event appears headed for a new spot on the calendar next year.

As the PGA Tour inches closer to announcing the 2018-19 schedule, which will feature countless new twists and turns including the PGA Championship’s move to May and The Players shift back to March, it also seems likely the makeover will impact the European Tour schedule.

Although the BMW PGA currently draws a solid field, with this week’s event sporting a higher strength of field than the Fort Worth Invitational on the PGA Tour, it’s likely officials won’t want to play the event a week after the PGA Championship (which is scheduled for May 16-19 next year).

In fact, it’s been rumored that the European Tour could move all eight of its Rolex Series events, which are billed as “unmissable sporting occasions,” out of the FedExCup season window, which will end on Aug. 25 next year.

Although the focus has been on how the new PGA Tour schedule will impact the U.S. sports calendar, the impact of the dramatic makeover stretches will beyond the Lower 48.

Rules of engagement. For a game that at times seems to struggle with too much small print and antiquated rules, it’s hard to understand how things played out earlier this month at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship.

In a story first reported by GolfChannel.com, Jeff Golden claimed he was assaulted on May 13 by Brandon Hibbs – the caddie for his opponent, Marc Dull, in the championship’s final match. Golden told police that Hibbs struck him because of a rules dispute earlier in the round. Hibbs denied any involvement, and police found no evidence of an attack.

The incident occurred during a weather delay and Golden conceded the match to Dull after the altercation, although he wrote in a post on Twitter this week that he was disappointed with the Florida State Golf Association’s decision to accept his concession.

“The FSGA has one job, and that’s to follow the Rules of Golf,” Golden wrote. “Unfortunately, there’s no rule for an inebriated ‘ex-caddie’ punching a player in a match-play rain delay with no witnesses.”

Because of the conflicting statements, it’s still not clear what exactly happened that day at Coral Creek Club, but the No. 1 rule in golf – protecting the competition and the competitors – seems to have fallen well short.