Notes: The 'needle' for Stricker; POY race

By Doug FergusonSeptember 20, 2011, 11:28 pm

ATLANTA - Steve Stricker is concerned about losing strength in his left arm, and it didn’t help Tuesday at East Lake that he was hitting balls next to Bubba Watson.

He watched Watson pound one drive so far that it hit the net on the back of the range on the fly.

“If my neck didn’t hurt, I could get that,” Stricker said with a grin.

Stricker withdrew from the BMW Championship last week after two rounds because of neck pain that affected his left arm and made it difficult to hold onto the club. He had a cortisone shot on Monday - his first one—and felt he was fine to play in the Tour Championship.

The shot was between the C6 and C7 vertebrae, and he played nine holes in Wisconsin that afternoon.

“I don’t feel better yet,” said Stricker, who was told it would take three to five days for him to feel a difference.

“The crazy thing is there’s no pain. My neck is a little stiff, that’s all. But there’s just a weak, heavy feeling in my left arm.”

He spent most of his time hitting drivers on the range, with his worst miss being a hard draw for not getting through on his left side. He hit four drives on the 10th tee, taking his hand off the club on one shot that sailed into the right rough.

“I feel it here,” he said, rubbing the back of his left shoulder. “I think it affects my move back to the ball.”

Stricker said he first realized something was wrong with his left arm last December when it collapsed while pulling back his bow while deer hunting. He thought he took care of it through exercise, and he won two more PGA Tour events this year. But he noticed his left arm getting weaker as the season went on.

He has not finished in the top 10 in the six events since winning the John Deere Classic.

“The doctors are moderately concerned this is back again,” Stricker said.

His plan is to have an MRI on Tuesday after the Tour Championship and “come up with a game plan from there.”

Still to come this year is the Presidents Cup on Nov. 17-20. Stricker also had planned to play a Fall Series event to stay sharp.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: It’s difficult enough to find a favorite for PGA Tour player of the year going into the Tour Championship. Keegan Bradley has two wins, including the PGA Championship. Luke Donald is No. 1 in the world. Steve Stricker, Nick Watney, Bubba Watson and Mark Wilson all are going for a third win at East Lake.

“I think a win this week would sway a lot of people’s minds,” Donald said.

Tougher still might be finding the player of the year on the European Tour, although its season still has nearly three months left.

Thomas Bjorn has won two times. Rory McIlroy had a record-setting win at the U.S. Open, while Darren Clarke had a sentimental win at the British Open, his second win of the year. There’s also Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and Donald, who has three European Tour wins and is atop the world ranking.

“It’s finding that balance between how important is winning that major compared to the consistency of a year,” Donald said. “What does player of the year stand for? Does it stand for having that one great week in a major, which is extremely important? Of is it weighed by being very consistent week in and week out?

“I don’t know what everyone’s thinking,” he said. “It could a number of different ways.”

Perhaps the real measure is who gets put on the cover of the European Tour media guide for 2012.

“I’m sure they’ll just fill it up with the major trophies again,” Donald said.

BACK TO BERMUDA: The PGA Championship was at Atlanta Athletic Club last month, which should help freshen some memories. Without that tournament, some players at East Lake for the Tour Championship will have gone four months without playing out of Bermuda rough.

Either way, the first three playoff events were played out of a far different grass in northern courses of Plainfield (Barclays), TPC Boston (Deutsche Bank) and the BMW Championship (Cog Hill).

Nick Watney said the biggest adjustment is on getting a flyer out of the rough.

“It’s not a matter of ‘if,’ it’s a matter of how much,” Watney said. “I hit a flyer nine times out of 10. So for me, it’s about trying to play the correct amount of a flyer.”

He did OK the last time, winning a World Golf Championship at Doral.

Dustin Johnson grew up in South Carolina and now lives in South Florida, so he’s accustomed to this strain of golf. That doesn’t make it any easier for him.

“I’ve played it my whole life, but it’s still hard to chip out of,” Johnson said. “It’s just tough to judge chipping.”

DIVOTS: Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer and Natalie Gulbis will represent the LPGA Tour in the Three-Tour Challenge, to be played Nov. 8 at the Rio Secco in Las Vegas. Teams from the PGA Tour and Champions Tour will be announced later. The PGA Tour (Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Boo Weekley) won last year. … Ernie Els has decided to play the Open in two weeks. Els has a sponsorship deal with SAP, whose founder and chairman, Hasso Plattner, owns Cordevalle. … Matt Kuchar is the only player with a mathematical chance of capturing the $10 million FedEx Cup without winning a tournament all year.

STAT OF THE WEEK: For the second straight year, only one major champion (Keegan Bradley) made it to the Tour Championship.

FINAL WORD: “If you’re not in the top 50 in the world golf ranking, this is the next best thing you can do.” - Charles Howell III, on getting to the Tour Championship. That assures of him of playing three majors and one World Golf Championship event next year.

Getty Images

Report: Tour close to finalizing Detroit tournament

By Will GrayApril 23, 2018, 7:07 pm

With the final pieces of the 2019 schedule falling into place, the PGA Tour appears on the verge of returning to Michigan for the first time in nearly a decade.

According to a Detroit News report, the Tour is "believed to be close" to an agreement to bring a tournament to the Motor City beginning in 2019, reportedly likely to take place at Detroit Golf Club near downtown.

While the specifics remain undisclosed, the prime candidate for such a move appears to be The National. The Washington, D.C.-area event, which benefits Tiger Woods' TGR Foundation, was sponsored by Detroit-based Quicken Loans from 2014-2017. This year the tournament will be conducted at TPC Potomac without a title sponsor.

According to a Detroit News report in September, Quicken Loans CEO Dan Gilbert was open to continuing his company's sponsorship of the event if it shifted to Detroit.

In addition to The National, the only other current PGA Tour event without a title sponsor is the Houston Open. On Monday Charles Schwab was introduced as the new title sponsor of the Fort Worth Invitational beginning in 2019.

The PGA Tour has not held an event in the state of Michigan since 2009, the final year of the now-defunct Buick Open at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club. While the final details of a revamped schedule have yet to be announced, the Tour is expected to unveil its itinerary for the 2018-19 season at The Players next month.

Getty Images

Inbee Park quietly reclaims world No. 1

By Randall MellApril 23, 2018, 6:44 pm

Inbee Park moved back to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings in about as ho-hum fashion as you’ll ever see a player take the top spot.

It isn’t that she doesn’t care about the top ranking. It just wasn’t a priority in her return to golf this year, after missing big portions of the last two years with injuries.

With an Olympic gold medal and seven major championship titles, the LPGA Hall of Famer isn’t done trying to top the scoreboards that matter most to her.

“To be honest, I never really think about being No. 1 again,” Park said early last week, before tying for second at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open. “If it comes to me, great. If not, it doesn't matter.”

It came to her for the fourth time in her career.

Park, 29, reigned at No. 1 for 59 weeks in her longest run on top, back in the 2013 and ’14 seasons.

Oddly, this run to No. 1 almost comes as a surprise to Park, who didn’t need long to get back to the top spot after returning to the tour. She won the Bank of Hope Founders Cup last month in her second after missing seven months with a back injury.

Park last lost the No. 1 ranking in October of 2015, doing so to Lydia Ko.

In six starts this year, Park has finished T-3 or better four times. She leads the tour in scoring average (69.13) and is second in greens in regulation (77.5 percent).

Just wait until her putter heats up.

Yeah, Park’s not very satisfied with her putting. She’s one of the greatest putters who ever played the women’s game, but she has been frustrated with the inconsistency of her stroke much of this season. Of course, her standards are high. She ranks second in putts per greens in regulation so far this year.

On Sunday, this is how Park summed up her putting in 2018: “Some days, I’ve been really good. Some days, I’ve been really bad.”

Park has led the LPGA in putts per GIR in five of the last 10 years. She switched from her preferred mallet-style putter to a blade earlier this season and won with a Toulon Madison blade at the Founders Cup last month. She was back with an Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball mallet this past week. That’s the putter she used to win the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro two years ago. She used an Odyssey Sabertooth winged mallet in her 2013 run of three consecutive major championship victories.

Getty Images

Goose takes down junior golfer - it's awesome

By Nick MentaApril 23, 2018, 6:33 pm

A goose evidently went into business for itself somewhere in Michigan and took down this high school golfer in dramatic, hilarious, photographed fashion. To the evidence we go ...

Per the Blissfield Athletics Twitter account, "The golfers just finished teeing off and were walking down the fairway. To the left there was a goose nest and the golfers did a good job of avoiding it but the guard goose hanging out on the far right thought differently."

Just so we can all continue laughing, the Blissfield account confirmed the kid was OK.

If you're looking for related content, check out Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" and this video:

Getty Images

It's official: Charles Schwab to sponsor Colonial event

By Associated PressApril 23, 2018, 6:30 pm

FORT WORTH, Texas – The longest-running PGA Tour event still played at its original site has a new title sponsor, one already deeply involved in golf.

The PGA Tour and Colonial Country Club announced Monday that financial services provider Charles Schwab & Co. will take over as title sponsor starting in 2019. The four-year agreement goes through 2022.

Local companies are backing the event after upscale grocer Dean and Deluca withdrew as title sponsor after only two tournaments of a six-year deal. The companies include American Airlines, AT&T, XTO Energy and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway.

Charles Schwab is already a major sponsor on the PGA Tour. On the PGA Tour Champions, the Charles Schwab Cup is awarded to the season's top player.

Next month's tournament at Colonial, which has hosted since 1946, will be played as the Fort Worth Invitational.