Tiger Bad for the Game

By Brian HewittMay 23, 2008, 4:00 pm
The Comebacker this week is a decidedly mixed bag. Weve got Sergio in the Publix; a conditional marriage proposal for Annika and a little Tiger bashing of sorts.
Without further ado:
Bryce writes: I heard someone on the Golf Channel comment that Kenny Perry got a bad break when his ball hit the tree. Yes, you are correct that the safe miss is to the right of the green. However, Kenny's ball was 50 yards off line and sailing beyond the safe area when it hit the tree. That was not bad luck, it was a bad shot. Bad shots are seldom rewarded.
The Comebacker
Correct. Any time you hit a ball to a place where a bad break is a possibility, you should not complain about the result. Hogan, you may remember, didnt get too many bad breaks.

James writes: When Kenny Perrys ball hit the tree and rolled over the green into the hazard, why did he drop in the fairway when the ball crossed the green before rolling into the hazard, don't you drop where the ball enters the hazard?
The Comebacker
As it was explained to me, the stakes were yellow which means the player has to drop on the side of the hazard he originally crossed.

Barrie writes: As much as I admire Tiger and enjoy watching him come up with impossible shots, I like tournaments without him. The reason? You never know who will win. I love it when on a Sunday there are seven guys within a shot of the lead. The winner could be anyone. There is often a playoff and there is drama. If Tiger were in the field and within a few shots of the lead, I would assume that he would win. It almost feels inevitable when Tiger is in such a spot and it is that inevitability that destroys any sense of drama for me.
The Comebacker
Blaming Tiger for being a buzzkill is like blaming the Johnstown Flood on a leaky faucet in Altoona.

Esteban writes: Just a quick anecdote of Annika to portray just why she'll be so missed: During a practice round in Bosque Real in Mexico City a few years ago, I caught Annika walking with her head down, completely absorbed in thought and a bit troubled. Since she was coming off the range, I assumed she was thinking about some aspect of her swing. I was hesitant to approach her so as not to disturb her when just then a group of people came up to her, and in stumbling English asked if they could take a picture with her. Immediately she changed her frown to a sunny, sincere smile, and posed for a bunch of photos. She was patient and friendly all the while. They thanked her profusely, and as soon as they were gone, her frown of concentration came back, and she kept walking, staring at the ground. I never got my autograph, but the memory of that moment will stay with me forever!
The Comebacker
Not enough stories like these make the printed light of day.

Michael writes: I try not to judge people until I have seen and talked to them in person. I met Sergio on Monday before the tournament at the Publix store where I work in the Produce department at Sawgrass near the Players club...Nobody but me recognized him as he was pushing a cart and buying his own groceries. I must preface this saying that Sergio is my favorite golfer...Seve was but he retired (not on top of his game like Annika). I introduced myself and we had a great 10-15 minute conversation. He's not used to Americans who appreciate how great a player he is and don't look for ways to criticize his putting or his attitude or the way he has helped the Europeans kick butt in the Ryder Cup over and over again. He could not have been nicer and I told him that the only person he needed to listen to was his father Victor and that he should have confidence after finishing 2nd last year. We talked about bullfighting, winning the Irish Open in 1999, and orange juice. He likes Tropicana Valencia which his roommate Camilo Villegas bought for him later that night. I realized that I had my golf bag in my trunk and so I got my EL TORO bull headcover that I have on my driver and he signed one of the horns.
The Comebacker
Was that orange juice no pulp, some pulp, or lots of pulp?

Wayne writes: I'd be more than willing to quit my current job to become Mr. Mom to Annika's offspring, however, I have a few demands...1) A daily golf lesson while baby is sleeping, in lieu of pay if necessary. 2) I don't cook so take out is mandatory, unless of course she enjoys barbequed steak/burgers/sausages everyday? 3) I refuse to field calls at 2 am from Lorena, who keeps saying No Mas and begging Annika to return so she has some real competition. 4) Includes me in her early Monday morning foursome with Tiger and Stevie so her (sic) and I can and work their wallets (don't forget, she's semi-retired now and will need the cash), while Mr. Sorenstam watches the kid(s). Those are my terms and they aren't negotiable.
The Comebacker
Sorry, Wayner, word out of the Sorenstam camp is that Annika isnt real big on barbecue.

Joel writes: I haven't seen this slant on Annika's retirement. If this is her farewell tour, think of the crowds that will be at the events. Crafty on her part. Sergio is, was, and will be a chump. When will you in the media stop doing the following: 1. Act as if anyone under 20 who wins is the next Messiah (sorry God). 2. Using the phrase good golf shot. With apologies to Bill Engvall, of course it's a golf shot because you are playing golf. DUH. You never hear a baseball announcer saying it was a good baseball shot or baseball catch. You also never hear a hockey announcer talk about a good hockey shot.
The Comebacker
Actually, the one thats been making me a little crazy lately is when basketball announcers talk about a player having the ability to score the basketball. Hubie Brown, who should know better, is especially guilty of this particularly annoying example of sportspeak.

Steve writes: I call him Garcia, not Sergio, because I don't believe he's earned, and I don't believe he deserves the one-name moniker our beloved athletes are sometimes known by, like Tiger, Annika, Phil, Arnie, Jack, etc. He has a lot to prove to me before I accept him as an athlete worth considering for such sentiment. He is, to put it bluntly a petulant brat and his post-game comments did nothing to sway me..He needs to grow up, humble himself and show respect for the game and his competitors. Until he does, I will root against him.
The Comebacker
So Im guessing, Steve, you wont be asking Sergio to sign your headcover any time soon.
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    Snedeker still in front on Day 3 of suspended Wyndham

    By Associated PressAugust 18, 2018, 11:21 pm

    GREENSBORO, N.C. - Brandt Snedeker held a three-stroke lead Saturday in the Wyndham Championship when the third round was suspended because of severe weather.

    Snedeker was 16 under for the tournament with 11 holes left in the round at the final event of the PGA Tour's regular season.

    Brian Gay was 13 under through 12 holes, and Trey Mullinax, Keith Mitchell, C.T. Pan and D.A. Points were another stroke back at varying stages of their rounds.

    Thirty players were still on the course when play was halted during the mid-afternoon with thunder booming and a threat of lightning. After a 3-hour, 23-minute delay, organizers chose to hold things up overnight and resume the round at 8 a.m. Sunday.

    When things resume, Snedeker - who opened with a 59 to become the first Tour player this year and just the 10th ever to break 60 - will look to keep himself in position to contend for his ninth victory on Tour and his first since the 2016 Farmers Insurance Open.

    Wyndham Championship: Full-field scores | Full coverage

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    The 2012 FedEx Cup champion won the tournament in 2007, the year before it moved across town to par-70 Sedgefield Country Club.

    Snedeker's final 11 holes of the round could wind up being telling: In seven of the 10 previous years since the tournament's move to this course, the third-round leader or co-leader has gone on to win.

    And every leader who finished the third round here at 16 under or better has wound up winning, including Henrik Stenson (16 under) last year and Si Woo Kim (18 under) in 2016.

    Snedeker started the day off strong, rolling in a 60-foot chip for birdie on the par-4 second hole, then pushed his lead to three strokes with a birdie on No. 5 that moved him to 16 under. But after he sank a short par putt on the seventh, thunder boomed and the horn sounded to stop play.

    Gay was 12 holes into a second consecutive strong round when the delay struck. After shooting a 63 in the second round, he had four birdies and an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole. He placed his 200-yard second shot 10 feet from the flagstick and sank the putt.

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    Lexi charges with 64 despite another penalty

    By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 11:07 pm

    Lexi Thompson ran into another awkward rules issue while making a bold charge at the leaders Saturday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

    She hit a speed bump at Brickyard Crossing Golf Course when she was assessed a penalty for violating a preferred-lies local rule.

    Five shots off the lead at day’s start, Thompson birdied six of the first nine holes, making the turn in 30 to move two off the lead, but that’s where she got her second education this season on the implementation of local rules.

    At the 10th tee, Thompson blew her tee shot right, into the sixth fairway. With preferred lies in effect, Thompson picked up her ball, cleaned it and replaced it within a club length before preparing to hit her second shot at the par 5.

    According to Kay Cockerill, reporting for Golf Channel’s early live streaming coverage, LPGA rules official Marty Robinson saw Thompson pick up her ball and intervened. He informed her she was in violation of the preferred lies rule, that she was allowed to lift, clean and place only when in the fairway of the hole she was currently playing. She was assessed a one-shot penalty and returned her ball to its original spot, with Robinson’s help. The local rule was distributed to players earlier in the week.

    Cockerill said Thompson handled the penalty well, shaking her head when realizing her mistake, and chuckling at her gaffe. She then crushed a fairway wood, from 215 yards, up onto the green. She two-putted from 50 feet and walked away with a par.

    Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

    “Thankfully, Marty intervened before she hit her next shot,” Cockerill reported. “Otherwise, she would have been hitting from the wrong spot, and it would have been a two-shot penalty. So, in a sense, it saved her a shot.”

    Thompson is making a return to golf this week after taking a month-long “mental break.” A year ago, she endured heartache on and off the golf course, with her competitive frustration having much to do with being hit with a controversial four-shot penalty in the final round of the ANA Inspiration. She appeared to be running away with a victory there but ended up losing in a playoff.

    Earlier this year, Thompson got another education in local rules. She was penalized in the second round at the Honda Thailand after hitting her ball next to an advertising sign. She moved the sign, believing it was a moveable object, but the local rules sheet that week identified signs on the course as temporary immovable obstructions. She was penalized two shots.

    In her pretournament news conference this week, Thompson shared how difficult the ANA controversy, her mother’s fight with cancer and the death of a grandmother was on her emotionally. She also was candid about the challenge of growing up as a prodigy and feeling the need to build a life about more than golf.

    Saturday’s penalty didn’t slow Thompson for long.

    She made back-to-back birdies at the 13th and 14th holes to post a 64, giving her a Sunday chance to win in her return.

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    U.S. Amateur final comes down to Devon vs. Goliath

    By Ryan LavnerAugust 18, 2018, 9:45 pm

    PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – On his family’s happiest day in years, Nick Bling stood off to the side of the 18th green, trying to collect himself.

    His oldest son, Devon, had just advanced to the U.S. Amateur final, and he surely knew that, at some point, the question was coming. Of the many members in the family’s boisterous cheering section that came here to Pebble Beach – a clan that includes Nick’s brothers and sisters, his in-laws and the teaching professionals of his hometown club – one person was conspicuously absent.

    So for 22 seconds, Nick couldn’t utter a word.

    “She’s watching,” he said, finally, wiping under his sunglasses.

    His wife, Sara, died in February 2013 after suffering a sudden blood clot that went to her brain. She was only 45, the mother of two young boys.

    The news took everyone by surprise – that day Nick and Devon were together at a junior tournament in southwest California, while Sara was at home with her youngest son, Dillon.

    “That was bad. Unexpected,” said Dillon, now 16. “I don’t even want to think about that. That was a rough year.”

    Sara was a fixture at all of the boys’ junior tournaments. She organized their schedules, packed their lunches and frequently shuttled them to and from China Lake, the only course in their small hometown of Ridgecrest, about two hours north of Los Angeles, where they’ve lived since 1990.

    An engineer at the Naval Air Weapons Station, Nick picked up the game at age 27, and though he had no formal training (at his best he was a high-80s shooter), he was the boys’ primary swing coach until high school, when Devon was passed off to PGA instructor Chris Mason.

    “Devon has world-class raw talent, and there’s a lot of things you can’t teach, and he’s got a lot of that,” said UCLA assistant coach Andrew Larkin. “But his dad looked at the game very analytically. He was able to break down the golf swing from a technical standpoint, and I think that has helped him. His dad is a brilliant man.”

    Devon watched his dad hit balls in the garage and, at 18 months, began taking full swings with a plastic club, whacking shots against the back of the couch. Once his son was bigger, Nick put down a mat and built a hole in the dirt on the family’s property.

    U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos

    Once it was time for the next step, there was only one option in town. China Lake is more than 300 miles from Pebble Beach, but in many ways they’re worlds apart. The course is dead in the winter, picked over by the birds in the spring and baked out in the summer, with 110-degree temperatures and winds that occasionally gust to 60 mph. Devon still blossomed into a well-known prospect.

    “Growing up in Ridgecrest,” Devon said, “some could say that it’s a disadvantage. But I could use the course and take a shag bag and go out and practice. So I used it to my advantage, and if it weren’t for that golf course, I wouldn’t be here today.” 

    Nor would he be here without the support of his family.

    Asked how they survived the tragedy of losing Sara so suddenly, Nick Bling said: “Brothers. Kids. Friends. Half of Ridgecrest. The town. They all came together. What do they say, that it takes a village to raise a boy? It did. Two boys.”

    Devon carried a 4.2 GPA in high school and played well enough to draw interest from UCLA. He played on the team last season as a freshman, winning a tournament and posting three other top-10s. The consistency in his game has been lacking, but the time spent around the Bruins’ coaches is starting to pay off, as he’s developed into more than just a swashbuckling power hitter. He has refined his aggression, though he’s offered more than a few reminders of his firepower. Last fall, the team held a Red Tee Challenge at TPC Valencia, where they all teed off from the red markers. Bling shot 28 on the back nine.

    In addition to his awesome game, Larkin said that Bling was one of the team’s most mature players – even after arriving on campus as a 17-year-old freshman.

    “I think his mannerisms and his charisma really come from his mom,” Larkin said. “It was a super hard time in his life, but I think it helped him grow and mature at an early age. He’s such a good big brother, and he took a lot of that responsibility.

    “There’s a blessing in everything that happens, and I think it made him grow a little young. I think he’s the man he is today because of her.”

    In his player profile, Bling wrote that his mom always wanted him to play in USGA championships, because of their prestige, and she would have loved to watch him maneuver his way through his first U.S. Amateur appearance.

    After earning the No. 41 seed in stroke play, Bling knocked off two of the top amateurs in the country (Shintaro Ban and Noah Goodwin), edged one of the nation’s most sought-after prospects (Davis Riley) and on Saturday traded birdies with Pacific Coast Amateur champion Isaiah Salinda.

    In one of the most well-played matches of the week, Bling made six birdies in a seven-hole span around the turn and shot the stroke-play equivalent of a 65 to Salinda’s 66.

    The match came down to 18, where Bling bludgeoned a drive over the tree in the middle of the fairway, knocked it on the green in two shots and forced Salinda to make birdie from the greenside bunker, which he couldn’t.

    Bling was a 1-up winner, clinching his spot in the finals (and the 2019 Masters and U.S. Open), and setting off a raucous celebration behind the rope line.

    “He played as good as I’ve ever seen,” Larkin said. “The talent has always been there, and I’m glad it’s coming out this week.”

    Another difficult opponent awaits in the championship match. It’s a mismatch on paper, a 36-hole final between Oklahoma State junior Viktor Hovland, ranked fifth in the world, and the No. 302-ranked Bling. Hovland had won each of his previous two matches by a 7-and-6 margin – the first time that’s happened since 1978 – and then dropped eight birdies on Cole Hammer on Saturday afternoon.

    But he’s likely never faced a player with Bling’s resolve – or a cheering section as supportive as his family’s.

    “This means a lot to us,” Dillon said. “It was finally Devon’s time, and I knew one day it’d come down to the finals. He’s been playing awesome. Mom is probably really happy right now.”

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    Report: Fan hit by broken club at Web.com event

    By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 18, 2018, 9:12 pm

    A fan was hit by a broken club and required stiches Friday at the Web.com Tour's WinCo Foods Portland Open.

    According to ESPN.com, Kevin Stadler slammed his club in frustration causing his clubhead to break and it struck a fan in the head.

    The fan required six stiches and was released from the hospital.

    Orlando Pope, a Web.com Tour rules official, spoke with ESPN.com:

    "It was a very freakish accident. Kevin is devastated. He had trouble trying to finish the round. He was quite worried and felt so bad.''

    Former PGA champion Shaun Micheel was in Stadler's group and posted this message on Facebook:

    "One of my playing partners played a poor shot with a 7 iron on the par 3 fifteenth hole this morning. In a fit of anger he slammed his club against the ground and the side of his foot which caused the club to break about 6” from the bottom. I had my head down but the clubhead flew behind me and hit a spectator to my right. It’s been a while since I’ve seen so much blood. We stayed with him for about 15 minutes before the EMT’s arrived. The last I heard was that he had a possible skull fracture but that he was doing ok otherwise. [Stadler] was absolutely shattered and we did our best to keep his spirits up. This was not done on purpose and we were astounded at the way the club was directed but it shows you just how dangerous it is to throw or break clubs. Each of us in the group learned something today!"