Paddy Shark and Birkdale

By Brian HewittJuly 25, 2008, 4:00 pm
The Comebacker this week is predictably about Greg Norman and Padraig Harrington, the ultimate protagonists at the Open champion.
 
What wasnt predictable, before the event began, was that Norman would be in the mix.
 
Without further ado:
 
Steven writes: Harrington played like Tiger in a major on Sunday and he was two shots back. He played steadily without taking any unnecessary risks or making too many costly mistakes. As other frontrunners fell back he took the lead with determination and confidence. ... Like Tiger Woods, Harrington has become a great golf tactician and a relentless grinder. He has a good plan before every round and executes it well. He knew how to win under pressure. Last year he could have excused himself like Garcia, who blamed the golf gods for bad bounces, after hitting two balls into water at the 72nd hole and walked away happy with a second finisher's money. Players like Norman, Garcia and Mickelson need to learn from Harrington or else they will keep letting those major wins get away.
 
The Comebacker
We can all learn from Padraig Harrington. His golf IQ is extremely high.

 

Matt writes: Greg Norman is a great golfer and an even better person. I remember back in the 1980's when he had a young handicapped boy with him for all 18 holes one day during the Hilton Head tournament. He made the boy feel special and really made his day. I know that Greg had some bad luck at majors and probably could have won more majors. In the end, he will be remembered as a class individual who helped a lot of people along the way and always showed sportsmanship even though luck was not always on his side. He was always exciting to watch and played all out to win, not to come in second.
 
The Comebacker
Plus, hes married to Chrissie Evert.

 

Doug writes: Brother Hewitt, I love your stuff and your no nonsense approach but I think you may be fooling yourself about the Open with no Tiger. I was at a volunteer meeting for the Wyndham Championship on Sunday afternoon so I think that it qualifies as a large group of people (at least 700 people in khaki shorts and golf shirts) who are fairly interested in golf. There was NO buzz about the Open. Most people did not even realize when it ended. There were no more than a couple people reading their Blackberries. I did not see anyone with radios on and even in the pro shop where there was a TV tuned to the Open, nobody was watching.
 
The Comebacker
Then they missed a terrific championship.

 

Steve writes: I get so tired of hearing some folks saying that this year's Open win by Harrington should be annotated with an asterisk. I guess if that's true, last year's win should be accompanied by an exclamation point since Tiger was in the field. Nothing against Tiger - we just need to let Paddy have his due respect and enjoy his win.
 
The Comebacker
Most people cant even pronounce the word asterisk let alone spell it. Which, it seems to me, disqualifies them from deciding when it can be applied.

 

Peter writes: I was amazed by Padraig Harrington's decision to go for the green with that 5-wood on No. 17. I was expecting him to lay up and come in with a wedge on the third shot, because there wasn't any particular need for heroics, given that he had a 2-shot lead. In any case, that great eagle really made a statement. Padraig claimed the tournament with that shot-- he didn't choose to play defensively, and I would think that winning in that fashion is lot more satisfying. I was really impressed with Harrington as a person after watching the GOLF CHANNEL show where he played a links course with Stephanie Sparks. He talked a lot about the nature of links golf-- he seems to understand the metaphysics of that style of play, and the results speak for themselves.
 
The Comebacker
And hes not a bad dancer, is he?

 

Wayne writes: Please stop defending Michelle Wie for violating a rule and being disqualified. If any other player, on any tour, is in violation of a rule of golf, he would receive a too bad, the rules are in effect and followed by the players. That's what makes this such a great game. Because this spoiled teen was disqualified, someone should have made sure this didn't occur. Give it up. Quite a few of the rules are ridiculous, but follow them, or change them.
 
The Comebacker
So tell me, Wayne, just what do you think of Wie playing on the PGA TOUR next week?

 

Joel writes: Did anyone else notice that Tom Watson is a great golf announcer? I sure wish he would do it more often.
 
The Comebacker
I don't think, Norman, criticized much of Sunday by Watson for using his driver almost exclusively off the tee on the par 4s and 5s, thinks Watson is such a great golf announcer.

 

Elizabeth writes: So you think the game of golf did quite nicely at Birkdale without the worlds No. 1 player? Okay, but what adjectives would we be using about Sunday's play if it had been Greg Norman and Tiger Woods in that final pairing regardless of the outcome? If quite nice is good enough, then maybe you have already forgotten the quite magnificent run the game of golf had at the last major. I admit I was a bit intrigued by the play of both Greg Norman and David Duval. But TV ratings and attendance figures don't lie--golf isn't just fine without Tiger. It is just okay. And I guess we are all spoiled, but I want more than just okay.
 
The Comebacker
For now, Elizabeth, you want what you cant have.

 

Joel writes: 1. Michelle Wie should have learned her lesson from before and stay OFF the men's tour. She tortured herself with a DQ, now to finish dead last in a PGA event? Is she a sadist?...2. With respect to my first point, your statement on Sunday about the 'statue of limitations' for some of the violations is spot on.3. The asterisk for this year's Open Championship is for the fact that they played in 40 to 50 mph winds, not that Tiger was not there. As much as I like Tiger, I don't believe he would have been a factor.4. Phil is NOT No. 2 in the world by any stretch of the imagination. He is a chocking chump.
 
The Comebacker
No. 5: Padraig Harrington will be the favorite next month at Oakland Hills at the PGA Championship. He was 4-1 in Ryder Cup matches there four years ago.

 
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - 137th Open Championship
  • Getty Images

    Watch: Gary Player tires people out with sit-ups

    By Grill Room TeamJune 24, 2018, 11:33 pm

    Well all know Gary Player is a fitness nut, and at 82 years young he is still in phenomenal shape.

    That's why it was incredible to see two mere mortals like us try to keep up with him in a sit-up competition at the BMW International Open.

    Watch the video below.

    The guy in blue makes the smart decision and bows out about halfway through. But give the other guy an "A" for effort, he stuck with Player for about 60 sit-ups, and then the nine-time major champion just starts taunting him.

    Getty Images

    Japan teen Hataoka rolls to NW Ark. win

    By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 11:07 pm

    ROGERS, Ark. - Japanese teenager Nasa Hataoka ran away with the NW Arkansas Championship on Sunday for her first LPGA title

    The 19-year-old Hataoka won by six strokes, closing with an 8-under 63 at Pinnacle Country Club for a tournament-record 21-under 192 total. She broke the mark of 18 under set last year by So Yeon Ryu.

    Hataoka won twice late last year on the Japan LPGA and has finished in the top 10 in five of her last six U.S. LPGA starts, including a playof loss last month in the Kingsmill Championship.

    Hataoka began the round tied with Minjee Lee for the lead.

    Austin Ernst shot a 65 to finish second.

    Lee and third-ranked Lexi Thompson topped the group at 13 under.

    Getty Images

    Tour investigating DeChambeau's use of compass

    By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 10:09 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Bryson DeChambeau’s reliance on science to craft his play on the course is well known, but he took things to a new level this week at the Travelers Championship when television cameras caught him wielding a compass while looking at his yardage book during the third round.

    According to DeChambeau, it’s old news. He’s been using a compass regularly to aid in his preparation for nearly two years, dating back to the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in October 2016.

    “I’m figuring out the true pin locations,” DeChambeau said. “The pin locations are just a little bit off every once in a while, and so I’m making sure they’re in the exact right spot. And that’s it.”


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    But social media took notice this weekend, as did PGA Tour officials. DeChambeau explained that he was approached on the range Saturday and informed that the Tour plans to launch an investigation into whether or not the device is allowable in competition, with a decision expected in the next week.

    It’s not the first time the 24-year-old has gone head-to-head with Tour brass, having also had a brief run with side-saddled putting earlier in his career.

    “They said, ‘Hey, we just want to let you know that we’re investigating the device and seeing if it’s allowable,’” DeChambeau said. “I understand. It wouldn’t be the first time this has happened.”

    DeChambeau won earlier this month at the Memorial Tournament, and the Tour’s ruling would not have any retroactive impact on his results earlier this year. Playing alongside tournament winner Bubba Watson in the final round at TPC River Highlands, DeChambeau shot a final-round 68 to finish in a tie for ninth.

    “It’s a compass. It’s been used for a long, long time. Sailors use it,” DeChambeau said. “It’s just funny that people take notice when I start putting and playing well.”

    Getty Images

    Bubba fires 63 to win his third Travelers title

    By Nick MentaJune 24, 2018, 9:52 pm

    Bubba Watson fired a final-round 63 to storm from six back and steal the Travelers Championship. Here’s how Bubba came from behind once again at TPC River Highlands.

    Leaderboard: Bubba Watson (-17), Stewart Cink (-14), Beau Hossler (-14), J.B. Holmes (-14), Paul Casey (-14)

    What it means: This is Watson’s 12th PGA Tour win, his third of the season, and his third Travelers title. Watson picked up his first Tour victory at this event in 2010 – when he also came from six back – and won again in 2015 in a playoff victory over – guess who – Casey. Thinking he might need a round of 60 to scare the leader, Watson made eight birdies, the last of which came on the 72nd hole, giving him the outright lead by one. A short while later, Casey would bogey the 16th and 17th to end the drama and allow Bubba to breathe easy. With the win, Watson becomes the only Tour player to win three times this season. He moves to third in the FedExCup points race, behind two-time winners Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson.

    Round of the day: Cink’s round was a stroke better, but Bubba earns this title for winning the title. The left-hander made the turn in 2-under 33 and then ripped off five birdies on his back nine to take the clubhouse lead, which he wouldn’t relinquish.

    Best of the rest: Cink looked as though he was going to record the second sub-60 round at the Travelers in the last three years. The 2009 champion golfer of the year played his first 10 holes in 7 under par on the par-70 layout. Cink added three more birdies but also added two bogeys to settle for 8-under 62, tying the round of the week. The 45-year-old has finished T-4 and T-2 in his last two starts.

    Biggest disappointment: Casey (2-over 72) began the day up four and couldn’t close. Even par on his round through 15 holes, he missed a 4-footer for par on 16 and found the water off the tee at 17, ending his chances. The Englishman, who ended a nine-year Tour winless drought earlier this season at the Valspar, is now 1 for 4 with a 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour.

    Shot of the day: Watson’s wedge from 77 yards at the 72nd hole, setting up his eighth and final birdie of the day.

    Quote of the day: “That’s the best shot you ever hit.” – caddie Ted Scott to Bubba Watson on his approach at 18