Notes Mr Woods Goes To Washington

By Brian HewittMarch 7, 2007, 5:00 pm
What an interesting day for golf in the nations capital.
 
Among other things, Tiger Woods did not rule out politics in his future. The national media got wind of AT&Ts title role in Tigers new tournament on, yes, an AT&T conference call. And PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem didnt dismiss Tigers foundation partnering again with the TOUR somewhere down the road.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods makes his announcement Tuesday. (WireImage)
The focus now is on the new AT&T National Finchem said, choosing his words carefully. But when I asked him about the possibility of future official Tiger tournaments, Finchem said this: If Tiger Woods calls up in a couple of years, we will answer the phone.
 
The 31-year-old Woods has never been a megalomaniac. He has never grubbed for power. But, increasingly, he doesnt shrink from influence either. But, hey, the guy cant legally run for President until hes 35 anyway. Besides, he said, he has a lot on his plate at the moment.
 
According to Greg McLaughlin, the president of Woods' foundation and the interim tournament director of the AT&T National, Woods got one-on-one audiences Wednesday with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
 
CHANGE IS CONSTANT:
Jack Nicklaus fingerprints (Bear prints?) will be all over PGA National for next years Honda Classic; even more than they were this year as drama dominated Sundays storylines and 5 under got you in a playoff.
 
Nicklaus, tournament director Ken Kennerly told me, has already asked for ShotLink data so he can properly determine the best relationship between tee boxes and fairway bunkers to keep the event tough but fair for 2008.
 
Kennerly also said the Honda Classic is looking to extend the green forward at the 488-yard sixth hole so it is more receptive to second shots. We can also expect a new tee box at the par-3 fifth to make that hole play from 205 to 220 yards.
 
ShotLink is a proprietary PGA TOUR data system in partnership with IBM that provides a mountain of intricate statistical information. The concept that golf course architects might now begin using it regularly to aid in design details is a fascinating one.
 
The design arm of the Nicklaus empire has been in charge of architectural updates at PGA National.
 
Kennerly also said the tournament, which just completed the first year of a six-year contract as the host venue, already is in discussions to extend that agreement. If that happens, dont be surprised if Honda follows suit.
 
RAKE GATE II:
The only consistent complaint heard from the players at PGA National was that the sand was too soft in the bunkers.
 
And it reminded many players of how Nicklaus, in their minds, ambushed them last year at The Memorial, his annual tournament at Muirfield Village in Ohio. Players arrived only to find that Nicklaus had ordered the institution of gap-toothed rakes that left the bunkers in a furrowed condition that created a much more penal situation for golf balls finding the sand.
 
A quick check with sources at Muirfield Village this week resulted in this information: Nicklaus and the TOUR are still in contact over whether he will use the same rakes again this year (May 31-June 3) at The Memorial.
 
A tournament official did tell me, however, that if the same rakes are utilized this time, the players will receive ample advance warning.
 
TIME CRUNCH:
NBC-TV and the Honda Classic got stuck between a rock and a hard place Sunday when the tournament ran out of daylight and was forced to postpone its finish until Monday.
 
One alternative was to push the starting times up for the final round which would have ensured more time for the playoff. The problem with that is, what happens if there is no playoff and the tournament ends at, say, 5:30 when Honda has paid for a 3 to 6 p.m. window?
 
What happens, past history shows, is that a lot of people switch dials when the event ends and the title sponsor (Honda) gets stuck with commercials few people see.
 
Another alternative would have been to begin the playoff on a hole other than the long par-5 18th which, with four players in overtime, took agonizingly long to complete.
 
Maybe, in hindsight, you play the 17th (a par-3) first, a tournament official told me.
 
The other part of the tough spot the Honda Classic found itself in was a unique one. It was the first PGA TOUR event of the year in the East Coast time zone. And it was the last one before daylight savings time kicks in this week. Theoretically, the PODS Championship wont have the same problem this Sunday because it will have an extra hour of daylight.
 
GOOD MAN:
Tournament director Gerald Goodman figures it will have been 17 weeks since the final putt dropped in last Octobers Chrysler Championship at Innisbrook and the first tee shot is struck at the same venue this Thursday for the PODS Championship.
 
Goodman says the last day off his staff received was July 4, 2006. It helps, he says, that he once worked as a football coach. The quick turnaround coupled with the change in title sponsors, he says, make this a tough logistical challenge.
 
Meanwhile, he said recently, You cant imagine how many things Im trying to get printed that say PODS on them.
 
COACH:
Honda Classic winner Mark Wilson now ranks seventh on the PGA TOUR money list and will qualify for his first Masters if he remains in the top 10 for three more weeks.
 
Wilson benefited greatly from a 90-minute session on the range the Tuesday before Honda with swing instructor Jim Suttie.
 
Suttie made an adjustment that enabled Wilson to keep the ball lower in the winds that swirl around PGA National. And he reminded Wilson of a putting drill during which Wilson putts at a bottle, not the hole, on the practice green. The idea behind the drill, Suttie told me, is to get the player to stroke the ball more firmly, especially on Bermuda greens.
 
As for Wilsons future now that he is almost a million dollars richer?
 
He needed to get that money thing off his tail, Suttie said. I predict he will be like one of the boys now and when he shows up itll be like, How much money am I gonna make this week.
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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.