Golfs magic number doesnt seem so magical

By Doug FergusonAugust 4, 2010, 12:26 am
AKRON, Ohio – The PGA Tour used to be so hard that it was boring to play, much less watch.

It was only three years ago at Firestone – Tiger Woods was the only player to break par that week – that Steve Stricker spoke for dozens of players when he said just about every tournament felt like a major.

It sure hasn’t seemed like that lately.

“This is a little different,” Stricker said with a smile Tuesday when reminded of his comments.

Now, every tournament feels like the Bob Hope Classic.
Paul Goydos
Paul Goydos shot 59 at the John Deere Classic. (Getty Images)
Consider the flurry of low scores over the last four weeks on the PGA Tour:

  • Paul Goydos became the first player in 11 years to shoot golf’s magic number when he opened with a 59 at the John Deere Classic. Even more amazing was it only gave him a one-shot lead over Stricker, who shot 60 and went on to win the tournament.
  • Rory McIlroy didn’t flirt with a 59, but he had a great chance to set a major championship record at the British Open until he missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the 17th at St. Andrews. He was mildly disappointed with a 63.
  • Carl Pettersson had to settle for a 60 in the third round of the Canadian Open when his 30-foot birdie putt from just off the front of the 18th green caught part of the lip.
  • D.A. Point had a chance to shoot 59 at the Greenbrier until he three-putted for bogey on the par-5 17th and shot 61. It wasn’t even the low score of the third round – J.B. Holmes shot a 60 that day. Both scores were trumped in the final round Sunday when Stuart Appleby birdied his last three holes for a 59, rallying from a seven-shot deficit to win.

What exactly is golf’s magic number these days?

Ryo Ishikawa might argue that it’s 58, for that’s what he shot in the final round to win on the Japan Golf Tour in May. If you allow Bobby Wyatt to join the conversation, the teenager could lobby for his 57 last week at the Alabama Boys State Junior Championship.

All of which leads to another question.

Has golf become too easy?

“You still have to make the score,” David Duval said. “You still have to hit the shots.”

Duval shot his 59 in the final round of the Bob Hope Classic in 1999, becoming only the third player in PGA Tour history to shoot 59. That was 11 years ago. Two players matched that in a span of four weeks.

“I guess it’s the law of averages. We were due to have a couple of good ones,” Goydos said Monday. “Maybe the bigger story is not why there was an 11-year drought, but why we went more than two weeks without one? Or you could always make the argument that everyone figured that if Goydos could do it, anyone could do it.”

Ernie Els recalls the one time he had a shot at 59.

“At Royal Melbourne of all places,” Els said. “Those Aussies were (beside) themselves. Nobody could shoot 60 at Royal Melbourne. And they were trying to talk on my backswing the last three holes. … I had two chances coming in. Didn’t quite do it. I think I felt embarrassed for them.”

Now, however, Els is searching for reasons just like everyone else.

“I don’t know if the tour is trying to get some people to watch television again because they’re seeing a lot of birdies,” he said with a half-smile that made you wonder if he really was serious. “But I’m not sure what my take is. There’s even two 60s, 61s. It’s starting to look like the Nationwide Tour.”

Theories abound, only because everyone wants answers in a sport that rarely provides them.

Yes, these guys are good. They are better than ever, and there are more of them than ever before. They play with less fear and attack every pin. The equipment is better than ever.

What can’t be overlooked is golf’s greatest defense against low scores – firm greens and wind.

Both have been on holiday of late.

“John Deere was like playing in a vacuum,” said Goydos, who could lift, clean and place his ball when he shot 59. “It was like dome golf.”

Appleby has been playing golf every week since May, so he’s an expert on conditions. He was in the same group when Stricker shot his 60 at the John Deere, and he played with Points during his round of 61.

“There’s a common theme,” Appleby said. “The golfers aren’t any better. We’re getting better each year, but course preparation and weather is everything. … You have to make everything, and you can only do that on basically receptive greens. None of these rounds are shot on firm greens, I can assure you of that.”

Record scoring is not the worst thing to happen to golf in a year when Tiger Woods isn’t driving much interest inside the ropes. And it beats the complaints from 2007, when rough was so thick the only option was hacking out to the fairway.

Tyler Dennis, vice president of competition for the PGA Tour, noted that two of the tournaments over the last month were played on new courses – St. George’s for the Canadian Open, the Old White for the Greenbrier Classic.

He recalls his first trip to the Greenbrier when the staff talked about making Old White an exciting, dramatic course that was fun to play and kept the element of a classic design.

“The score didn’t cross anyone’s mind,” Dennis said. “But that’s been the philosophy when the rules staff sets up a course. We want it to be a great venue and we want variety throughout the year. And we want to provide a competitive and fair test. The words ‘score’ and ‘easy’ and ‘hard’ … don’t play into it at all.”

What to expect this week at Firestone, a 7,400-yard course that plays to a par 70?

“We get to a beast like this … I would hate to see a 59 this week,” Els said. “Because then I’ll know I’m playing a different game.”
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Woods admits fatigue played factor in Ryder Cup

By Jason CrookOctober 17, 2018, 12:35 pm

There was plenty of speculation about Tiger Woods’ health in the wake of the U.S. team’s loss to Europe at last month’s Ryder Cup, and the 14-time major champ broke his silence on the matter during a driving range Q&A at his annual Tiger Woods Invitational at Pebble Beach on Tuesday.

Woods, who went 0-4 in Paris, admitted he was tired because he wasn’t ready to play so much golf this season after coming back from a fourth back surgery.

“It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season,” Woods said. “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”

The topic of conversation then shifted to what's next, with Woods saying he's just starting to plan out his future schedule, outside of "The Match" with Phil Mickelson over Thanksgiving weekend and his Hero World Challenge in December.

“I’m still figuring that out,” Woods said. “Flying out here yesterday trying to look at the schedule, it’s the first time I’ve taken a look at it. I’ve been so focused on getting through the playoffs and the Ryder Cup that I just took a look at the schedule and saw how packed it is.”

While his exact schedule remains a bit of a mystery, one little event in April at Augusta National seemed to be on his mind already.

When asked which major he was most looking forward to next year, Woods didn't hesitate with his response, “Oh, that first one.”

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Podcast: Fujikawa aims to offer 'hope' by coming out

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 17, 2018, 12:03 pm

Tadd Fujikawa first made golf history with his age. Now he's doing it with his recent decision to openly discuss his sexuality.

Last month Fujikawa announced via Instagram that he is gay, becoming the first male professional to come out publicly. Now 27, he has a different perspective on life than he did when he became the youngest U.S. Open participant in 2006 at Winged Foot at age 15, or when he made the cut at the Sony Open a few months later.

Joining as the guest on the latest Golf Channel podcast, Fujikawa discussed with host Will Gray the reception to his recent announcement - as well as some of the motivating factors that led the former teen phenom to become somewhat of a pioneer in the world of men's professional golf.

"I just want to let people know that they're enough, and that they're good exactly as they are," Fujikawa said. "That they don't need to change who they are to fit society's mold. Especially in the golf world where it's so, it's not something that's very common."

The wide-ranging interview also touched on Fujikawa's adjustment to life on golf-centric St. Simons Island, Ga., as well as some of his hobbies outside the game. But he was also candid about the role that anxiety and depression surrounding his sexuality had on his early playing career, admitting that he considered walking away from the game "many, many times" and would have done so had it not been for the support of friends and family.

While professional golf remains a priority, Fujikawa is also embracing the newfound opportunity to help others in a similar position.

"Hearing other stories, other athletes, other celebrities, my friends. Just seeing other people come out gave me a lot of hope in times when I didn't feel like there was a lot of hope," he said. "For me personally, it was something that I've wanted to do for a long time, and something I'm very passionate about. I really want to help other people who are struggling with that similar issue. And if I can change lives, that's really my goal."

For more from Fujikawa, click below or click here to download the podcast and subscribe to future episodes:

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Davies takes 2-shot lead into final round of Senior LPGA

By Associated PressOctober 17, 2018, 2:00 am

FRENCH LICK, Ind. - Laura Davies recovered from a pair of early bogeys Tuesday for a 2-under 70 that gave her a two-shot lead going into the final round of the Senior LPGA Championship as she goes for a second senior major.

In slightly warmer weather on The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort, the 55-year-old Davies played bogey-free over the last 11 holes and was at 6-under 138. Brandi Burton had a 66, the best score of the tournament, and was two shots behind.

Silvia Cavalleri (69) and Jane Crafter (71) were three shots behind at 141.

Juli Inkster, who was one shot behind Davies starting the second round, shot 80 to fall 11 shots behind.

''I had a couple of bogeys early on, but I didn't panic,'' Davies said. ''I'm playing with a bit of confidence now and that's good to have going into the final round.''

Davies already won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open this summer at Chicago Golf Club.

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Miller's biggest on-air regret: Leonard at Ryder Cup

By Jason CrookOctober 17, 2018, 12:00 am

Johnny Miller made a broadcasting career out of being brutally honest, calling golf tournaments exactly like he saw them.

His unfiltered style is what kept him on the air for nearly 30 years, but it wasn't always the most popular with players.

After announcing his upcoming retirement, Miller was asked Tuesday if there were any on-air comments he regretted over the last three decades. One immediately came to mind.

"I think that I didn't say the right words about Justin Leonard at Miracle at Brookline about he should be home watching it on TV. I meant really - I did say he should be home, but I meant the motel room. Even then I probably shouldn't have said that," Miller recalled. "I want so much for the outcome that I'm hoping for that I actually get overwhelmed with what I want to see. Almost the kind of things you would say to your buddies if you were watching it on TV, you know? He just couldn't win a match."

After struggling on Friday and Saturday in team play, Leonard ended up the U.S. hero after halving his Sunday singles match with José María Olazábal by holing a 40-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole - one of the most famous shots in Ryder Cup history.

"Of course he ended up - after the crappy comment I made that motivated maybe the team supposedly in the locker room, and he ends up making that 45-, 50- foot putt to seal the deal," Miller said. "Almost like a Hollywood movie or something."

Not only did the putt seal the comeback for the U.S., but it also earned Leonard an apology from Miller. 

"I apologized to him literally the next day; I happened to see him. I tried to make a policy when I go over the line that I get ahold of the guy within 24 hours and tell him I made a double bogey, you know. That's just the way I have done it through the years."