Green Jacket Required
Truthfully, Howell said, I have no idea.
But Howell admitted, Its the only thing I have on Tiger and I remind him of it quite often.
Asked how Woods responds to the LA needling, Howell said, He mentions all of his green jackets quite quickly ... and that has a very quieting effect on me.
(If youre counting, thats Woods four green jackets, Howell zero.)
MEET THE FOCKLERS:
Yes, they made it to the game on time.
Actually, 11-year-old Drew Fockler and his father, John, were in their seats at Super Bowl XLII 40 minutes ahead of kickoff during a whirlwind day that started at the FBR Open with the pair in search of a Phil Mickelson autograph.
Their original efforts were rebuffed at the putting green before the start of the final round. But Mickelson and his caddie, Bones Mackay, stopped the pair after Phil had completed the third hole. Thats when they presented the Focklers with two tickets to the game that was 30 miles away in Glendale.
Drew Fockler is an 11-year-old junior golfer from Flagstaff, Ariz., who aspires to play high school, college and professional golf one day. He plays a junior tour near his home. His mother, Rebecca, says his handicap is 13.
The end zone tickets had a face value of $700 apiece. The Giants winning fourth quarter touchdown took place right in front of the Focklers seats. Rebecca Fockler was keeping her husband and son apprised of Mickelson progress via text messaging.
Once inside the stadium they were able to see the playoff, in which J.B. Holmes defeated Mickelson on the first extra hole, on a stadium television monitor near their seats.
Drew Fockler hung around Phoenix for part of the day Monday to do a local television interview. But he didnt miss any school because Monday was a school snow day in Flagstaff, located in northern Arizona.
Rebecca Fockler said all the members of her family are avid GOLF CHANNEL watchers including Drews younger sister, Alyssa. Alyssa is 20 months old and, according to Rebecca, was so happy with the plastic golf clubs she received for Christmas that she didnt want to open the rest of her presents.
I think, Rebecca Fockler said. Drews taking it all in stride. But hes at an age where this is a lifetime deal.
The Super Bowl tickets, if youre curious, included a valet parking pass.
The golf course design tandem of Bill Coore and former Masters champion Ben Crenshaw has completed their first work in Florida. Sugarloaf Mountain, near Orlando, is situated in the rolling hills above Lake Apopka and its another home run for Crenshaw and Coore who have been in high demand ever since conceiving and building Sand Hills Golf Club in Nebraska.
Sugarloaf Mountain, which officially opens for play Friday, is a classic design that plays 7,057 yards from the tips. It is owned by Hampton Golf, whose president is former PGA of America president M.G. Orender.
Adjoining residential real estate is planned for the future at Sugarloaf Mountain which will eventually go private. Not a bad hole out there, said two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen, who recently set the course record of 70 at Sugarloaf Mountain. That mark lasted until Tour pro Garrett Willis carded a 68 just minutes later.
MORE DESIGN NEWS:
The Toronto Globe and Mail is reporting that Johnny Miller and Stephen Ames, who has adopted Canada as his home country, are collaborating on a golf course in Calgary that could one day host the Canadian Open.
The name of the course will be The Legacy at Harmony and is scheduled for completion in 2012. Reports say the course could be stretched to 8,100 yards. No Calgary golf course has previously hosted a Canadian Open.
Meanwhile, Tom Doak, who designed Pacific Dunes in Oregon, was in Bandon last month for four days on a site visit for Old Macdonald.
Old Macdonald is an 18-hole homage to Charles Blair Macdonald, the seminal early-American golf course designer. Old Macdonald is located 400 acres north and east of Pacific Dunes. Its scheduled to open in July of 2010.
Macdonalds most famous design is the National Golf Links in Southampton, N.Y.
Among the perks provided at Riviera next week by first-time title sponsor Northern Trust, will be courtesy cars for all players (only half the field got courtesy cars last year); three ams (down from four) per group in the Pro-Am; and an exclusive brunch for companions and spouses with celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis.
The Northern Trust is a multibank holding company based in Chicago. But when in L.A. ... Hence the chef. And, yes, culinarians, thats the same Giada De Laurentiis who has dueled Rachel Ray on Iron Chef.
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Stunner: Inbee Park steps aside for Int. Crown
There was a big surprise this week when the LPGA announced the finalized lineups for the UL International Crown.
Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park won’t be teeing it up for the host South Koreans Oct. 4-7 in Incheon.
She has withdrawn, saying she wanted another Korean to be able to experience the thrill of representing her country.
It’s a stunner given the importance the LPGA has placed on taking the UL International Crown to South Korea and its golf-crazy allegiance to the women’s game in the Crown’s first staging outside the United States.
Two-time major champion In Gee Chun will replace Park.
"It was my pleasure and honor to participate in the first UL International Crown in 2014 and at the 2016 Olympics, and I cannot describe in one word how amazing the atmosphere was to compete as a representative of my country,” Park said. “There are so many gifted and talented players in Korea, and I thought it would be great if one of the other players was given the chance to experience the 2018 UL International Crown.”
Chun, another immensely popular player in South Korea, was the third alternate, so to speak, with the world rankings used to field teams. Hye Jin Choi and Jin Young Ko were higher ranked than Chun but passed because of commitments made to competing in a Korean LPGA major that week. The other South Koreans who previously qualified are So Yeon Ryu, Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim.
Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.
Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.
“I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”
Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.
“It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”
The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.
“All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”
Koepka still has chip on his chiseled shoulder
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brooks Koepka prepared more for this Open than last year's.
He picked up his clubs three times.
That’s three more than last summer, when the only shots he hit between the summer Opens was during a commercial shoot for Michelob Ultra at TPC Sawgrass. He still tied for sixth at The Open a month later.
This time, Koepka kept his commitment to play the Travelers, then hit balls three times between the final round in Hartford and this past Sunday, when he first arrived here at Carnoustie.
Not that he was concerned, of course.
Koepka’s been playing golf for nearly 20 years. He wasn’t about to forget to how to swing a club after a few weeks off.
“It was pretty much the same thing,” he said Tuesday, during his pre-tournament news conference. “I shared it with one of my best friends, my family, and it was pretty much the same routine. It was fun. We enjoyed it. But I’m excited to get back inside the ropes and start playing again. I think you need to enjoy it any time you win and really embrace it and think about what you’ve done.”
At Shinnecock Hills, Koepka became the first player in nearly 30 years to repeat as U.S. Open champion – a major title that helped him shed his undeserved reputation as just another 20-something talent who relies solely on his awesome power. In fact, he takes immense pride in his improved short game and putting inside 8 feet.
“I can take advantage of long golf courses,” he said, “but I enjoy plotting my way around probably - more than the bombers’ golf courses - where you’ve got to think, be cautious sometimes, and fire at the center of the greens. You’ve got to be very disciplined, and that’s the kind of golf I enjoy.”
Which is why Koepka once again fancies his chances here on the type of links that helped launch his career.
Koepka was out of options domestically after he failed to reach the final stage of Q-School in 2012. So he packed his bags and headed overseas, going on a tear on the European Challenge Tour (Europe’s equivalent of the Web.com circuit) and earning four titles, including one here in Scotland. That experience was the most fun and beneficial part of his career, when he learned to win, be self-sufficient and play in different conditions.
“There’s certain steps, and I embraced it,” Koepka said. “I think that’s where a lot of guys go wrong. You are where you are, and you have to make the best of it instead of just putting your head down and being like, 'Well, I should be on the PGA Tour.' Well, guess what? You’re not. So you’ve got to suck it up wherever you are, make the best of it, and keep plugging away and trying to win everything you can because, eventually, if you’re good enough, you will get out here.”
Koepka has proved that he’s plenty good enough, of course: He’s a combined 20 under in the majors since the beginning of 2017, the best of any player during that span. But he still searches long and hard for a chip to put on his chiseled shoulder.
In his presser after winning at Shinnecock, Koepka said that he sometimes feels disrespected and forgotten, at least compared to his more-ballyhooed peers. It didn’t necessarily bother him – he prefers to stay out of the spotlight anyway, eschewing a media tour after each of his Open titles – but it clearly tweaked him enough for him to admit it publicly.
That feeling didn’t subside after he went back to back at the Open, either. On U.S. Open Sunday, ESPN’s Instagram page didn’t showcase a victorious Koepka, but rather a video of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. dunking a basketball.
“He’s like 6-foot-2. He’s got hops – we all know that – and he’s got hands. So what’s impressive about that?” Koepka said. “But I always try to find something where I feel like I’m the underdog and put that little chip on my shoulder. Even if you’re No. 1, you’ve got to find a way to keep going and keep that little chip on.
“I think I’ve done a good job of that. I need to continue doing that, because once you’re satisfied, you’re only going to go downhill. You try to find something to get better and better, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Now 28, Koepka has a goal of how many majors he’d like to win before his career is over, but he wasn’t about to share it.
Still, he was adamant about one thing: “Right now I’m focused on winning. That’s the only thing I’ve got in my mind. Second place just isn’t good enough. I finished second a lot, and I’m just tired of it. Once you win, it kind of propels you. You have this mindset where you just want to keep winning. It breeds confidence, but you want to have that feeling of gratification: I finally did this. How cool is this?”
So cool that Koepka can’t wait to win another one.
Despite results, Thomas loves links golf
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Despite poor results in two previous Open Championships, Justin Thomas contends that he has what it takes to be a good links player. In fact, he believes that he is a good links player.
Two years ago at Royal Troon, Thomas shot 77 in the second round to tie for 53rd place. He was on the wrong side of the draw that week that essentially eliminated anyone from contention who played late Friday afternoon.
Last year at Royal Birkdale, Thomas made a quintuple-bogey 9 on the par-4 sixth hole in the second round and missed the cut by two shots.
“I feel like I’ve played more than two Opens, but I haven’t had any success here,” Thomas said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I feel like I am a good links player, although I don’t really have the results to show.”
Although he didn’t mention it as a reason for success this week, Thomas is a much different player now than he was two years ago, having ascended to the No. 1 position in the world for a few weeks and now resting comfortably in the second spot.
He also believes a high golf IQ, and the ability to shape different shots into and with the wind are something that will help him in The Open over the next 20 years.
“I truly enjoy the creativity,” Thomas said. “It presents a lot of different strategies, how you want to play it, if you want to be aggressive, if you want to be conservative, if you want to attack some holes, wait on certain winds, whatever it might be. It definitely causes you to think.
“With it being as firm as it is, it definitely adds a whole other variable to it.”