Haney Tiger is Better in All Areas

By Brian HewittJanuary 25, 2007, 5:00 pm
A Tuesday conversation with Hank Haney, Tiger Woods' swing coach, confirmed the bad news for everybody else. Woods, Haney told me, is a better player in every phase of his game than the Tiger Woods who finished second to Trevor Immelman at the Cialis Western Open last July 9.
That date also marked the last time Woods lost to anybody in a PGA TOUR event. He's going for seven straight this week at the Buick Invitational.
Tiger Woods and Hank Haney
Tiger Woods and Hank Haney work together during Tuesday's practice round.
'But you never get completely there,' Haney told me. 'That's why it's so much fun working with him. We know that every day there will be a challenge.'
What's left unsaid here is the universal knowledge in golf that Woods is clearly the best player in the world. Since there is nobody to chase down in the world rankings, the only thing left to pursue is perfection. Woods has said he knows he won't ever completely get there but if he keeps getting better, no one will pass him.
Meanwhile the sniping at Haney has died down to a whisper. 'I'm happy for Rex Grossman,' Haney said. 'One or two years ago I felt like Rex Grossman.'
By way of explanation, Rex Grossman is the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears and has been the target of heavy criticism this year. Now the Bears are in the Super Bowl and Grossman is at least partially responsible.
Similarly, Haney came under heavy public attack in his early days of working with Woods. But he has been more than partially responsible for Woods' latest sustained brilliance.
Meanwhile, don't expect to see Tiger Woods making the rounds on the talk shows any time soon. But his absence won't be for any lack of interest on the part of the networks.
According to Woods' sources, Tiger has a standing offer to guest on a number of shows. Included among them are 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.'
Do expect to see Woods on Leno if he wins the Masters, for the fifth time, in April. That victory could conceivably coincide with Woods breaking Byron Nelson's long-standing record of 11 straight PGA TOUR wins.
Eyebrows were raised recently when Vijay Singh and Paul Goydos won the first two events of the PGA TOUR season using a Titleist Pro V1 prototype ball that wasn't listed as such on the USGA's conforming golf ball list.
'Certainly a legitimate question that has a pretty simple answer,' said Dick Rugge, the USGA's Senior Technical Director. 'While the ball may be referred to by Titleist and journalists as a 'prototype', that is not the actual name of the ball. ... Titleist has 13 different 'Pro V' models on our conforming list. All of them are allowed for play under the Rules of Golf.'
Added Rugge: 'The PGA TOUR rules officials have the authority to check whether or not a ball being used is on the conforming list, so it is rather unlikely that any TOUR player--winners or otherwise--could be using a ball that is not on the conforming list.'
A quick check with Titleist officials confirmed that the winning Pro V1s used by Singh and Goydos are, indeed, on the USGA's conforming list.
ROGER THAT: Sources say we shouldn't be surprised if Callaway Golf wedge designer Roger Cleveland puts design plans for a full set of irons into the pipeline. Most recently, Cleveland has been best-known for Callaway's X-Tour wedges. None other than Phil Mickelson helped inspire Cleveland to come up with a PM grind and 'Mack Daddy' grooves for the wedges he uses on TOUR.
COMFORT ZONE: You have to give John Daly, or at least the people who run his website, credit for candor.
Daly's people recently announced a new John Daly clothing line about which the website said this: 'At first glance Big John may seem like an unlikely candidate to headline a golf apparel collection.'
As you might imagine, comfort, not style, is the key to John Daly Apparel
TaylorMade sources say Daly was so enamored with a recent trial of the company's TP Rescue hybrid that he has taken his 2-iron out of the bag. The TP Rescue has a smaller head, a tighter, more compact look and is designed for better players.
On the Monday night version of long-running game show Jeopardy one of the categories was 'A Few Good Men.'
The $600 answer in that category was: 'In 2004 this Fijian set a new record for pro golf winnings in one year, $10,905,166.'
The correct answer, as delivered by one of the contestants, was, 'Singh.'
Memo to any of Vijay Singh's critics who don't believe he belongs in a category labeled 'A Few Good Men': You can't handle the truth.
The LPGA has modified its criteria for sponsor's exemptions. Specifically, a sponsor's exemption is now available (over and above the normal exemptions) to the U.S. Women's Amateur champion if that player is still an amateur and the event is staged in that player's home state.
What this means is that reigning champion, Kimberly Kim of Hawaii, will now have a chance to play in next month's SBS Open at Turtle Bay and the Fields Open in Hawaii.
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Singh tops Maggert in playoff for first senior major

By Associated PressJuly 16, 2018, 12:10 am

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. - Vijay Singh birdied the second playoff hole to beat Jeff Maggert and win the Constellation Senior Players Championship on Sunday.

Singh knocked in a putt from about 2 feet after a nearly perfect approach on the 18th hole at Exmoor Country Club, giving an understated fist pump as the ball fell in. That gave him his first major title on the PGA Tour Champions to go with victories at the Masters and two PGA Championships.

Singh (67) and Maggert (68) finished at 20-under 268. Brandt Jobe (66) was two strokes behind, while Jerry Kelly (64) and defending champion Scott McCarron (71) finished at 17 under.

Maggert had chances to win in regulation and on the first playoff hole.

He bogeyed the par-4 16th to fall into a tie with Singh at 20 under and missed potential winning birdie putts at the end of regulation and on the first playoff hole.

His 15-footer on the 72nd hole rolled wide, forcing the playoff, and a downhill 12-footer on the same green went just past the edge.

Full-field scores from the Constellation Energy Senior Players

The 55-year-old Singh made some neat par saves to get into the playoff.

His tee shot on 17 landed near the trees to the right of the fairway, and his approach on 18 wound up in a bunker. But the big Fijian blasted to within a few feet to match Maggert's par.

McCarron - tied with Maggert and Bart Bryant for the lead through three rounds - was trying to join Arnold Palmer and Bernhard Langer as the only back-to-back winners of this major. He came back from a six-shot deficit to win at Caves Valley near Baltimore last year and got off to a good start on Sunday.

He birdied the first two holes to reach 18 under. But bogeys on the par-4 seventh and ninth holes knocked him off the lead. His tee shot on No. 7 rolled into a hole at the base of a tree and forced him to take an unplayable lie.

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Davies a fitting winner of inaugural USGA championship

By Randall MellJuly 15, 2018, 11:26 pm

Laura Davies confessed she did not sleep well on a five-shot lead Saturday night at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.

It’s all you needed to know about what this inaugural event meant to the women who were part of the history being made at Chicago Golf Club.

The week was more than a parade of memories the game’s greats created playing in the USGA’s long-awaited showcase for women ages 50 and beyond.

The week was more than nostalgic. 

It was a chance to make another meaningful mark on the game.

In the end, Davies relished seeing the mark she made in her runaway, 10-shot victory. She could see it in the familiar etchings on the trophy she hoisted.

“I get my name on it first,” Davies said. “This championship will be played for many years, and there will only be one first winner. Obviously, quite a proud moment for me to win that.”

Really, all 120 players in the field made their marks at Chicago Golf Club. They were all pioneers of sorts this past week.

“It was very emotional seeing the USGA signs, because I've had such a long history, since my teens, playing in USGA championships,” said Amy Alcott, whose Hall of Fame career included the 1980 U.S. Women’s Open title. “I thought the week just came off beautifully. The USGA did a great job. It was just so classy how everything was done, this inaugural event, and how was it presented.”

Davies was thankful for what the USGA added to the women’s game, and she wasn’t alone. Gratefulness was the theme of the week.

Full-field scores from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open

The men have been competing in the U.S. Senior Open since 1980, and now the women have their equal opportunity to do the same.

“It was just great to be a part of the first,” three-time U.S. Women’s Open winner Hollis Stacy said. “The USGA did a great job of having it at such a great golf course. It's just been very memorable.”

Trish Johnson, who is English, like Davies, finished third, 12 shots back, but she left with a heart overflowing.

“Magnificent,” said Johnson, a three-time LPGA and 19-time LET winner. “Honestly, it's one of the best, most enjoyable weeks I've ever played in in any tournament anywhere.”

She played in the final group with Davies and runner-up Juli Inkster.

“Even this morning, just waiting to come out here, I thought, `God, not often do I actually think how lucky I am to do what I do,’” Johnson said.

At 54, Davies still plays the LPGA and LET regularly. She has now won 85 titles around the world, 20 of them LPGA titles, four of them majors, 45 of them LET titles.

With every swing this past week, she peeled back the years, turned back the clock, made fans and peers remember what she means to the women’s game.

This wasn’t the first time Davies made her mark in a USGA event. When she won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1987, she became just the second player from Europe to win the title, the first in 20 years. She opened a new door for internationals. The following year, Sweden’s Liselotte Neumann won the title.

“A lot of young Europeans and Asians decided that it wasn't just an American sport,” Davies said. “At that stage, it had been dominated, wholeheartedly, by all the names we all love, Lopez, Bradley, Daniel, Sheehan.”

Davies gave the rest of the world her name to love, her path to follow.

“It certainly made a lot of foreign girls think that they could take the Americans on,” Davies said.

In golf, it’s long been held that you can judge the stature of an event by the names on the trophy. Davies helps gives the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open the monumental start it deserved.

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Suwannapura beats Lincicome in playoff for first win

By Associated PressJuly 15, 2018, 10:49 pm

SYLVANIA, Ohio - Thidapa Suwannapura won her first LPGA event on Sunday, closing with a 6-under 65 and birdieing the first playoff hole to defeat Brittany Lincicome at the Marathon Classic.

The 25-year-old Thai player is the sixth first-time winner on tour this year. Her previous best finish in 120 starts was seventh at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.

Suwannapura picked up three strokes over her final two holes, making eagle on the par-5 17th and closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th at Highland Meadows to finish at 14-under 270.

In the playoff, Suwannapura converted a short birdie putt after Lincicome hit her second shot into a water hazard and scrambled for par.

Lincicome shot 67. She had a chance to win in regulation, but her birdie putt from about 10 feet did a nearly 360-degree turn around the edge of the cup and stayed out. Next up for the big-hitting Lincicome: a start against the men at the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship.

Third-round leader Brooke Henderson led by two shots after six holes, but struggled the rest of the way. Back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes dropped her out of the lead. The 20-year-old Canadian finished with a 2-under 69, one shot out of the playoff.

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Kim cruises to first win, final Open invite at Deere

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 9:38 pm

Following the best week of his professional career, Michael Kim is both a winner on the PGA Tour and the 156th and final player to earn a tee time next week at The Open.

Kim entered the final round of the John Deere Classic with a five-shot lead, and the former Cal standout removed any lingering doubt about the tournament's outcome with birdies on each of his first three holes. He cruised from there, shooting a bogey-free 66 to finish the week at 27 under and win by eight shots over Francesco Molinari, Joel Dahmen, Sam Ryder and Bronson Burgoon.

It equals the tournament scoring record and ties for the largest margin of victory on Tour this season, matching Dustin Johnson's eight-shot romp at Kapalua in January and Molinari's margin two weeks ago at the Quicken Loans National.

"Just super thankful," Kim said. "It's been a tough first half of the year. But to be able to finish it out in style like this means a lot."

Kim, 25, received the Haskins Award as the nation's top collegiate player back in 2013, but his ascent to the professional ranks has been slow. He had only one top-10 finish in 83 starts on Tour entering the week, tying for third at the Safeway Open in October 2016, and had missed the cut each of the last three weeks.

But the pieces all came together at TPC Deere Run, where Kim opened with 63 and held a three-shot lead after 36 holes. His advantage was trimmed to a single shot during a rain-delayed third round, but Kim returned to the course late Saturday and closed with four straight birdies on Nos. 15-18 to build a five-shot cushion and inch closer to his maiden victory.

As the top finisher among the top five not otherwise exempt, Kim earned the final spot at Carnoustie as part of the Open Qualifying Series. It will be his first major championship appearance since earning low amateur honors with a T-17 finish at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, and he is also now exempt for the PGA Championship and next year's Masters.

The last player to earn the final Open spot at the Deere and make the cut the following week was Brian Harman, who captured his first career win at TPC Deere Run in 2014 and went on to tie for 26th at Royal Liverpool.