Tigers Prized Possession Koufax Autograph
There aren't many autographs he wants in return, but Woods recently got a prized possession -- a baseball signed by Sandy Koufax.
'How about that?' Woods said, breaking into a broad smile when asked about the autograph.
Why is Koufax so meaningful to him?
For one thing, Woods said they share the same birthday (Dec. 30), although Koufax arrived on earth 40 years earlier. Additionally, Woods grew up a Dodgers fan, and besides Jackie Robinson, he can think of no other player who better epitomizes his team.
'I've been a Dodger fan my entire life, and Koufax is the man,' he said. 'For pitchers, you wouldn't think of any other player. During those five years (in the 1960s), nobody could touch him.'
Woods asked an official at Upper Deck that if he ever ran into Koufax, would he ask for an autograph. The next time Woods saw him, the Upper Deck rep handed him a baseball.
'It's got a personal inscription,' Woods said. 'It's at home in my bedroom, sitting right there.'
Woods said it was only the second autograph of a sports figure he has sought in his life. The other came about a dozen years ago when he met Muhammad Ali. He wound up getting a signed pair of boxing trunks that Ali wore in a fight in 1977.
'I had never asked for any autograph ever, and I said to him, 'Could you please sign anything, a paper, anything, please?' He was shaking (from Parkinson's Disease) and said, 'I'll take care of it.' All of a sudden, I had a a pair of trunks. He said, 'I won't be needing these anymore.' I've got those hanging on my wall.'
All it took was one tournament for Tiger Woods to be the unofficial winner of the unofficial season.
Woods was among three players who earned more than $1 million in the silly season, comprised of tournaments that did not count toward a money list or the world ranking. His victory in the Target World Challenge was worth $1.35 million.
Despite getting shut out in the LG Skins Game, Masters champion Zach Johnson came in second in the silly season with $1,108,750 in four tournaments, nearly 30 percent of what he earned in 23 events on the PGA TOUR that counted.
Coming in third was Colin Montgomerie, who earned $1.025 million from the World Cup and Target World Challenge.
And fret not for Fred Couples, the unofficial king of the silly season. He only played twice on the PGA TOUR because of a severe back injury, but managed to compete three times after the season ended and finished ninth on the list with $572,500.
LPGA IN FLORIDA
The LPGA Tour finally worked out the details for its new tournament in South Florida, announcing Tuesday that the Stanford International Pro-Am will be played April 24-27 at Turnberry Isle Resort & Club in Aventura, Fla.
The $2 million tournament will be the first pro-am on the LPGA Tour since 2001.
Stanford Financial, the title sponsor, got involved in the LPGA beyond getting its name on the tournament. The company will make a donation to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for every eagle made on the LPGA Tour, a program that it started last year on the PGA Tour when it took over title sponsorship in Memphis, Tenn.
It also signed an endorsement deal with Morgan Pressel, who joins a Stanford Financial stable that includes Vijay Singh, David Toms and Camilo Villegas.
The new event was held up by a scheduling conflict at Turnberry Isle.
The resort already had been booked that week by Presidential Holidays Southeast, which was hosting a Passover event for more than 500 Orthodox Jews. The Sun-Sentinel reported last week that Presidential Holidays received a financial settlement from the resort, and the Passover event will go somewhere else.
Zach Johnson finished a round at the Target World Challenge when a fan asked him to sign a 2007 Masters flag. Johnson asked for the man's name -- Darren -- and wrote it on the flag.
It didn't take him long to learn where most of those souvenir flags go.
'I got to Hilton Head the week after the Masters and signed I don't know how many flags,' he said. 'Later that week, some friends of mine went on eBay and found 40 of them for sale.'
British Open champion Padraig Harrington brought copies of his book, 'Journey to the Open,' to the Target World Challenge, and it includes some interesting notes about his victory at Carnoustie.
He used three drivers during the British Open, going from a 9-degree loft in practice to a 7.5-degree loft in the first two rounds to an 8.5-degree loft on the weekend. The latter, which he used to drive into the Barry Burn on the 72nd hole, is still in his bag.
He had to go to the pro shop to buy golf balls before the playoff because he couldn't find the extra balls he had set aside, although he located them moments before he teed off against Sergio Garcia.
And perhaps the most important piece of information?
His first drink out of the claret jug was John Smith's Extra Smooth bitter, a promise he had made to his manager.
Sophie Gustafson tied for 15th at the Dubai Ladies Masters, earning enough money to capture the Order of Merit on the Ladies European Tour. Gustafson narrowly beat out Solheim Cup teammate Bettina Hauert of Germany. ... Zach Johnson first played in the Mercedes-Benz Championship in 2005, and he had such a great week that he vowed to bring his family if he ever won again. 'It just so happened, they didn't forget,' the Masters champion said. Johnson is taking both sides of his family, a party of 14, to Kapalua. ... The Albertsons Boise Open donated just over $2 million for charity, a record for the Nationwide Tour.
STAT OF THE WEEK
All six continents where golf is played are represented by players in the top 14 in the world ranking.
'For all the people out there who have been extremely successful, they've always loved what they do, from athletes to whatever their job description. If you really do have a passion for it, then you don't ever get burned out.' -- Tiger Woods.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Four players vying for DJ's No. 1 ranking at Open
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Four players have an opportunity to overtake Dustin Johnson for world No. 1 this week.
According to Golf Channel world-rankings guru Alan Robinson, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm each can grab the top spot in the world ranking.
Thomas’ path is the easiest. He would return to No. 1 with either a win and Johnson finishing worse than solo third, or even a solo runner-up finish as long as Johnson finishes worse than 49th.
Twenty years after his auspicious performance in The Open, Rose can get to No. 1 for the first time with a victory and Johnson finishing worse than a two-way tie for third.
Kopeka can rise to No. 1 if he wins consecutive majors, assuming that his good friend posts worse than a three-way tie for third.
And Rahm can claim the top spot with a win this week, a Johnson missed cut and a Thomas finish of worse than solo second.
Johnson’s 15-month reign as world No. 1 ended after The Players. He wasn’t behind Thomas for long, however: After a tie for eighth at the Memorial, Johnson blew away the field in Memphis and then finished third at the U.S. Open to solidify his position at the top.
Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:
The Monday morning headline will be …
REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.
RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.
MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.
JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.
Who or what will be the biggest surprise?
HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.
LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.
BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.
COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.
Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?
HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.
LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.
BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.
COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.
What will be the winning score?
HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.
LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.
BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.
COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.
Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty
Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.
Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.
This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):
While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:
Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.
McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.
Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.
“It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”
McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.
“Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”
He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.