The Age of Tiger Talking Annika

By Brian HewittMay 31, 2007, 4:00 pm
These days in golf there are 31 flavors. And were not talking about ice cream.
 
Tiger Woods, the undisputed best player in the game is 31 years old.
 
Zach Johnson, the current Masters champion who backed his jacket up with a victory in Atlanta earlier this month, is 31 years old.
 
Rory Sabbatini, unafraid to challenge Woods publicly and victorious Sunday at Colonial in Texas, is 31 years old.
 
Henrik Stenson, the highest-rated European (No. 7) in the Official World Golf Ranking and a winner at the prestigious WGC-Accenture Match Play earlier this year, is 31 years old.
 
Is this is a coincidence?
 
The answer, according to my theory, is that it is not.
 
Woods ambushed his elders when he turned pro in 1996 and players like Ernie Els (now 37), Phil Mickelson (37 next month), and Davis Love III (43) never really recovered from Woods instant success. (Obviously Mickelson hasnt suffered too much, having won two of the last four Masters and the 2005 PGA.)
 
The younger top players'read: Sergio Garcia (27), Adam Scott (26), and Charles Howell III (27) just to name a few'only know Woods as a kind of golfing god.
 
But his contemporaries, the guys his own age, have been aware of Tiger for a long time. Many of them competed against him when they were youngsters. They recognize how good he is. But they have known no other condition of competition other than Woods being the guy they had to beat to win meaningful titles.
 
Vaughn Taylor, a Ryder Cupper and two-time PGA TOUR winner, is also 31 years old. So is Hank Kuehne, an immense talent who hasnt blossomed as a professional mainly because of injuries and personal problems.
 
When I ran this theory past Morris Pickens, Johnsons mental coach, he didnt shoot it down. But, he warned, Any time anybody has success with Tiger, it is only temporary.
 
THE CHASE RESUMES:
There isnt any doubt in the mind of LPGA Hall of Famer Kathy Whitworth that Annika Sorenstam will one day catch'and pass'her on the all-time victory list.
 
Whitworth won 88 times. Sorenstam trails by 19. Its just a question of when, Whitworth told me this week.
 
Amazingly, Whitworth never missed a tournament due to injury during her career. She turned pro at 19 and won for the first time at age 22 at the 1962 Kelly Girls Open. Her last victory, the 1985 United Virginia Bank Classic, came at the age of 45. For her part, the 36-year-old Sorenstam is returning from back and neck problems this week at the Ginn Tribute. Whitworth says she does not see Sorenstam slowing down.
 
Whitworth also says she has never talked about the record with Sorenstam. But, she says, she will be rooting for Annika. There is nothing wrong, Whitworth says, with being someones motivation.
 
This is especially heartening to hear at a time when Barry Bonds is chasing Hank Aarons home record in baseball while controversy surrounds Bonds and frost dances from Aarons mouth every time somebody asks him about Bonds.
 
NOTHING SPECIAL:
If you were waiting for the USGA to announce its special exemptions into next months U.S. Open at Oakmont, you can stop holding your breath.
 
There wont be any this year.
 
No specials last year either, said USGA Executive Director David Fay. As is the case each year, the decision was made after developing a list of those who were not already exempt.
 
One player who deserved consideration was Loren Roberts, still highly-competitive on the Champions Tour at the tender age of 51. Roberts, you may remember was one of three players in the 1994 U.S. Open playoff at Oakmont won by Ernie Els.
 
On the other hand, judging from reports on the golf courses severity emanating almost daily from Oakmont, maybe Roberts is glad he wasnt asked.
 
LIGHTS OUT:
Starting with the final four holes of his second round at Colonial last week and counting the first 14 holes of his third round, eventual winner Rory Sabbatini needed just 17 putts in that 18-hole stretch.
 
NOTES:
The longest putt made on the PGA TOUR this year measured 100 feet and one inch. It was canned by Ben Curtis at THE PLAYERS on the 14th hole. There have been 105 putts of 50 feet or more made on the PGA TOUR this year.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Memorial Tournament
  • Full Coverage - Ginn Tribute Hosted by Annika
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    McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

    By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

    They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

    McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland, to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

    Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

    On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

    Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

    10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

    12/1: Tony Finau

    14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

    20/1: Francesco Molinari

    25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

    30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

    40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

    50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

    60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

    80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

    100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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    Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

    By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

    Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

    It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

    Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

    A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

    “I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

    “I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

    Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

    At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

    Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

    “I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.

    “Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

    Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

    “Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

    After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

    “I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

    Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

    “It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

    “Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

    On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

    Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

    “She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

    Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

    At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

    At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

    Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

    “I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

    Her overall assessment of her day?

    “It was a great experience,” she said.

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    Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

    NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

    Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

    Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

    1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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    Knox relishes round with 'mythical figure' Woods

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 8:48 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Russell Knox was expecting the worst and hoping for the best Thursday at The Open.

    Playing with Tiger Woods tends to have that effect.

    The native Scot received a treat earlier this week when he saw his name on the tee sheet alongside his boyhood idol, Woods.

    “Felt good out there, but obviously my swing, it was just like I had too much tension,” Knox said after an opening 73. “I just wasn’t letting it go as normal. First round with Tiger, I expected to feel a little bit different. The way I felt was better than the way I swung.”

    Knox said that he was nervous playing alongside Woods, a player he’d only encountered on the range. “He’s almost like a mythical figure,” he said.

    But after a while, he settled into the rhythm of the round at Carnoustie.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “I thought it would be worse,” he said, “I feel like I should know what I’m doing. It’s cool playing with Tiger, but I’ve got to get over that. I’m here to win, not just enjoy my walk around the course.”

    Knox probably had more interaction with Woods than he anticipated, if only because the third member of the group, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, keeps to himself because of the language barrier.

    “It’s kind of a blur,” Knox said. “It’s like, Oh, I’m chatting away with Tiger here like normal. I don’t even remember what I was saying.”

    There have been countless stories from this year as the next generation of players – guys who grew up watching Woods dominate the sport – get paired with Woods for the first time.

    It was no less special for Knox on Thursday.

    “It’s nice for him to say things like that,” Woods said, “and we enjoyed playing with each other. Hopefully we’ll play a little bit better tomorrow.”