Golf ClichÃ©s Love Em Hate Em
You know, like never up, never in, those sorts of clichs. There are some we love and some we hate. We hear them from our friends, our playing partners. We read them in the prints and we hear them from the electronic media as well.
I want to hear from you. Keep them to about 10 words or less. Send them to me in e-mails. Let me know the ones you hate. Or the ones you love. In a Comebacker in the near future I will list the best of the best and the worst of the worst in this space. And, of course, I will Comeback on our readers choices.
Meanwhile, without further ado, heres this weeks Comebacker starting out with a couple of follow-up items to the Annika retirement:
Paul writes: Annika will be sorely missed. She is the epitome of class AND dominance of her sport. She is the reason the LPGA competes well with the PGA on non-Tiger weeks. I hope you are right and she does return!
Strangely enough, if Annika starts a family and if she comes back after, say four or five years off, it could be the same time Lorena Ochoa is leaving to start a family of her own.
Al writes: I cant believe you say she respected all her fellow competitors since she lambasted a young star to be , Miss Wie, when she was a child trying to live up to the media promotion of her. I thought Sorenstam was very mean in her assessment of Michele (sic) and the injury she suffered. I hope Michele (sic) haves (sic) a very successful career and wish Sorenstam much happiness in having her family, but given her age difference she could have been more supportive to a young aspiring player.
In the case referenced, Wie did not respect the women of the LPGA. Annika told it like it was. There is not a mean bone in Annikas body.
Tim writes: Garcias ball striking ability is unquestioned. His sportsmanship was, and still is, abysmal. He will win more tournaments and maybe even a major or two but, in my humble opinion, he has lost as a sportsman. I, for one, will not cheer his victories.
There is a lot of sentiment like Tims still out there on Sergio. I believe Garcia is maturing. Its just happening a little more slowly than some people would like. Theres still good Sergio and bad Sergio. Think of it this way, if youre an American golf fan: When bad Sergio shows up at the Ryder Cup its a lot easier and a lot more fun rooting against him. I just think were seeing a lot more of good Sergio these days and thats a good thing.
Boris writes: Sergio has been given a raw deal. As a very young player at a certain PGA Championship that Tiger won, he acted as young men tend to do (cocky and sure of himself). He challenged Tiger, and all of a sudden he is the next person to take down Tiger. The media tried to make him out to be an equal challenger to Tiger, but no one (at least not yet) is a challenger to Tiger, and that is the raw deal. Sergio is a good player who will win maybe fifteen PGA Tour events and maybe one or two majors, but he is not the Tiger killer that people erroneously thought. Could the media have mistaken youthful arrogance for greatness? He is like the lion with a mighty roar, but he is missing some teeth, so he is not as effective is he sounds.
Sergios roar at The PLAYERS was both toothy and loud. That said, he will have to win a major championship before anybody should think about bestowing the mantel of greatness upon him.
Helen writes: All I can say to anyone who has something bad to say about any athlete is WALK A MILE IN THEIR SHOES. Then you can make detrimental and characteristic criticisms.
You wont catch THE COMEBACKER walking a mile in Ian Poulters shoes.
Connie writes: Colonial was great to watch, and I for one, did not miss Woods for a minute. Golf is still great to watch regardless of who is playing because someone always wins and for that week, and for that tournament that person is number one, AND that is important. Sergio at The PLAYERS was wonderful...he won...he was number one that day. Why cannot a win be acknowledged for what it is and who it is without your ruining it with thoughts about Woods?
Woods is, and should be in our thoughts in any serious conversation about mens golf. Anybody who has a problem with that might want to take up bird watching.
John writes: Beth Daniel was an outstanding golfer and is an incredible individual. However, she does not have the vocal chords as an announcer/analyst. Her voice is weak, nasally and annoying.
First of all, thats the voice God gave her. Its what she says that should matter, not how it sounds. Howard Cosell had a nasal voice, too. But he usually had something to say that meant something, even if you disagreed.
Robert writes: I believe the following could easily replace Sanders, Elkington, Kim, Parnevik and Player in the best dressed category. The replacements would be Ben Hogan, Fred Couples, Arnold Palmer, Bernhard Langer, and Grace Park. Ben Hogan was very particular about his clothing and always conservatively well dressed. Fred Couples, Arnold Palmer, and Grace Park always look great and Bernhard's clothing has a European flair that actually fits.
Just curious, what do you think about the clothes Marty Hackel wears? (Remember, style is in the eye of the beholder. I like Martys style but wouldnt dare wear some of his choices. Thats what makes the fashion world go round). The cargo pants Langer wears wouldnt be allowed at many exclusive clubs. The outfits Natalie Gulbis wears, I think, look terrific but also wouldnt be allowed at many exclusive golf clubs. And while were on the subject, why do many exclusive clubs allow the so-called cart girls to wear shorts at a length that would be unacceptably short for women members? I think I know the reason. Nevertheless, this is a double standard.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.
Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.
Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.
“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”
Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.
“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”
But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.
“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”
Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.
Hoylake in 2006.
That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.
So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?
“I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”
With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?
“The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”
How will players game-plan for Carnoustie?
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Thomas took a familiar slash with his driver on the 18th tee on Monday at Carnoustie and watched anxiously as his golf ball bounced and bounded down the fairway.
Unlike the two previous editions of The Open, at what is widely considered the rota’s most demanding test, a particularly warm and dry summer has left Carnoustie a parched shade of yellow and players like Thomas searching for answers.
Under the best circumstances, Carnoustie is every bit the unforgiving participant. But this week promises to be something altogether different, with players already dumbfounded by how far the ball is chasing down fairways and over greens.
Brown is beautiful here at Royal Dark & Dusty.
But then it’s also proving to be something of a unique test.
Where most practice rounds at The Open are spent trying to figure out what lines are best off tees, this is more a study of lesser evils.
Tee shots, like at the par-4 17th hole, ask multiple questions with few answers. On his first attempt, Thomas hit 2-iron off the tee at No. 17. It cleared the Barry Burn and bounded down the middle of the fairway. Perfect, right? Not this year at Carnoustie, as Thomas’ tee shot kept rolling until it reached the same burn, which twists and turns through both the 17th and 18th fairways, at a farther intersection.
“A hole like 17 in this wind, the trick is getting a club that will carry [the burn],” said Thomas, who played 18 holes on Monday with Tiger Woods. “If that hole gets downwind you can have a hard time carrying the burn and keeping it short of the other burn. It’s pretty bizarre.”
The sixth hole can offer a similar dilemma, with players needing to carry their tee shots 275 yards to avoid a pair of pot bunkers down the right side of the fairway. Yet just 26 yards past those pitfalls looms a second set of bunkers. Even for the game’s best, trying to weave a fairway wood or long-iron into a 26-yard window can be challenging.
“Six is a really hard hole, it really just depends on how you want to play it. If you want to take everything on and have a chance of hitting an iron into a par 5, or just kind of lay back and play it as a three-shot hole,” Thomas shrugged.
It’s difficult to quantify precisely how short the 7,400-yard layout is playing. It’s not so far players are flying the ball in the air, particularly with relatively little wind in the forecast the rest of the week, so much as it is a question of how a particular shot will run out after it’s made contact with the firm turf.
As the field began to get their first taste of the bouncy fun, one of the earliest indications something was askew came on Sunday when Padraig Harrington, who won The Open the last time it was played at Carnoustie in 2007, announced to the social world that he’d hit into the burn on the 18th hole.
“This time it was the one at the green, 457 yards away,” the Irishman tweeted. “The fairways are a tad fast.”
Most players have already resigned themselves to a steady diet of mid-irons off tees this week in an attempt to at least partially control the amount of run-out each shot will have.
Jordan Spieth, the defending champion, hadn’t played a practice round prior to his media session, but could tell what’s in store just from his abbreviated range session on Monday. “Extremely baked out,” he said.
The conditions have already led Spieth and his caddie, Micheal Greller, to conjure up a tentative game plan.
“You might wear out your 5- and 4-irons off the tee instead of hitting 3- or 2-irons like you’re used to,” Greller told him.
But even that might not be the answer, as Tommy Fleetwood discovered on Sunday during a practice round. Fleetwood has a unique connection with Carnoustie having shot the course record (63) during last year’s Dunhill Links Championship.
The Englishman doesn’t expect his record to be in danger this week.
In fact, he explained the dramatically different conditions were evident on the third hole on Sunday.
“There’s holes that have been nothing tee shots, like the third. If you play that in the middle of September or October [when the Dunhill is played] and it’s green and soft, you could just hit a mid-iron down the fairway and knock it on with a wedge,” Fleetwood said. “Yesterday it was playing so firm, the fairways really undulate and you have bunkers on either side, it’s actually all of a sudden a tough tee shot.”
The alternative to the iron game plan off the tee would be to simply hit driver, an option at least one long-hitter is considering this week if his practice round was any indication.
On Sunday, Jon Rahm played aggressively off each tee, taking the ubiquitous fairway bunkers out of play but at the same time tempting fate with each fairway ringed by fescue rough, which is relatively tame given the dry conditions. But even that option has consequences.
“It’s kind of strange where there’s not really a number that you know you’re going to be short,” said Fleetwood, who played his Sunday practice round with Rahm. “[Rahm] hit a drive on 15 that was like 400 yards. You just can’t account for that kind of stuff.”
Whatever tactic players choose, this Open Championship promises to be a much different test than what players have become accustomed to at Carnoustie.
Fleetwood: Carnoustie course record won't help at Open
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tommy Fleetwood holds the competitive course record at Carnoustie, but he’s skeptical that his past experience will help him at The Open.
Last fall, in the European Tour’s Dunhill Links Championship, Fleetwood birdied six of his last eight holes to card a bogey-free, 9-under 63, the lowest score ever at what is widely considered to be the most difficult course in the Open rota.
No one expects a repeat this week at Carnoustie – not with the conditions this brown, firm and fast.
“It’s a completely different course,” Fleetwood said Monday. “Shots that you’ve hit have literally no relevance for a lot of it.
“It doesn’t do any harm to have played it for a few years. It doesn’t do any harm to have a course record, but it’s a completely different challenge to what we normally face.”
Fleetwood took a much-needed two-week break after the French Open, deciding to withdraw from last week’s Scottish Open for a bit more time in his own bed. (He said it was his last full week at home until mid-October.) Since his sparkling 63 to nearly steal the U.S. Open, the Englishman said that he’d “run out of steam” but now feels energized.
“There’s not really a good reason why I couldn’t do it (this week),” he said. “It really doesn’t matter what’s happened in the past. The only thing they could do is build your confidence and give you examples of what you can do – examples that you can end up there, and you have the game to compete.”