Notes: Streb in right place at right time at Sony Open

By Doug FergusonJanuary 14, 2014, 10:11 pm

LONG TRIP PAYS OFF: Robert Streb figured he would be an alternate in the Sony Open, but he bought a ticket to Hawaii, anyway. It was freezing in Kansas City, Mo. He could always try to Monday qualify. And there were worse places he could be.

Streb wound up in the right spot.

He was the second alternate when the final field was announced. He missed out on Monday qualifying by two shots. But the first alternate, Shawn Stefani, chose not to fly to Hawaii from Houston. And when Hideki Matsuyama withdrew after the pro-am, Streb was in.

''I just figured I'd hang around and see if I got lucky,'' Streb said. ''And I did.''

Stefani can't be faulted. As a rookie, Carl Petterson was the first alternate when the field was set. He waited three days, up until the last group teed off Thursday, and headed to the airport.

''It's obviously a lot of money and time to come out here,'' Streb said. ''If you don't feel you have a good chance, it's perfectly understandable.''

Streb closed with a 73 to tie for 68th, earning three FedEx Cup points. That's not much, but keep in mind that a year ago, Streb missed out on the playoffs by 10 points. Without full status, he hopes to get 15 starts this year, including Monday qualifying. If that doesn't go well, he'll try some Web.com Tour events.


HUDSON AND HARRIS: A new season means new faces on the PGA Tour, such as Hudson Swafford.

Or was that Harris English?

The two former Georgia Bulldogs – and residents at Sea Island – have been mistaken for each other dating back to their junior golf days. Both are 6-foot-3 with a languid walk, smooth swing, gracious manners and an easy smile. And they're best of friends. English was late getting to Hawaii because he was in Swafford's wedding on New Year's Eve.

''Larry Penley was the best,'' Swafford said, referring to the Clemson coach. ''I don't think he knows Harris English exists. It was always 'Hudson' to me and him.''

Swafford is two years older, so it was English who most often was called by the wrong name. That's changed in the last few years, especially around Sea Island. English won twice last year and is in his third year on tour. Swafford, always the big brother to English, is a rookie.

''Around Sea Island, I'm Harris now,'' Swafford said.


HIGH ROLLER: Pat Perez might not face greater pressure all year than the final day of 2013.

He got engaged to his girlfriend of two years, Ashley Pendley, on New Year's Eve in Las Vegas. Typical of Perez, this was no ordinary engagement. He was going to a private party at the MGM Grand, where Stevie Nicks was to perform. Perez persuaded MGM officials to give him the stage before the show. All they said was to be ready.

''It was for all their high rollers – and me. Their $280 million in credit and my $500,'' Perez said. ''So they call me. There's 2,000 people in there, and I'm hammered. I know a lot of the MGM guys, and they were giving me fireball shots at 8 o'clock. I'm getting nervous now. I get the microphone and I call her. They walked her over, I somehow get it out and I drop (to a knee), and they go crazy.''

She said yes. Perez knew that. After all, Penley picked out the ring.

The entire setting has a diameter the size of a dime. Perez said the center was 6 karats, and the entire ring was 11 karats. He declined to say a price, only that ''it's more than this bag is worth'' as he pointed to his golf bag.

The wedding is planned for the end of the year, depending on how his season goes.


UP FOR ELECTION: Jason Bohn, Charley Hoffman and Kevin Streelman are on the ballot to join the PGA Tour policy board.

The tour named its 16-man Player Advisory Council for 2014, which advises and consults the policy board and Commissioner Tim Finchem on various issues. Among the newcomers to the PAC is Lee Westwood, who rejoined the two years ago. His selection is noteworthy as one of the PAC member selected by the players on the board.

The players on the board chose Bohn, Hoffman and Streelman to run for chairman of the PAC through an election that ends after Pebble Beach. Whoever is elected will serve a three-year term on the policy board starting in 2015.

The rest of the PAC includes Stewart Cink, Ken Duke, Trevor Immelman, Matt Kuchar, Scott Langley, Marc Leishman, Davis Love III, Will MacKenzie, Geoff Ogilvy, Michael Putnam, Webb Simpson and Brendon Todd.


DIVOTS: Mark Loomis returns to golf as the coordinating producer for golf production and studio programming at Fox Sports. His experience should come in handy when Fox begins its 12-year deal with the USGA to broadcast the U.S. Open and the rest of its championships. Fox currently does not broadcast any golf tournaments. Loomis previously worked for ABC when it covered PGA Tour events. ... The Champions Tour gets underway this week on the Big Island in Hawaii with the Mitsubishi Electric Championships open to winners the last two years, senior major winners the last five years and eight special exemptions. The exemptions went to four major champions, along with Esteban Toledo, Mark Wiebe, Willie Wood and Kirk Triplett. Vijay Singh did not get an exemption. ... Rory McIlroy plans to play the Scottish Open this year the week before the British Open.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Seven of the eight winners on the PGA Tour this season have shot 66 or better in the final round. The exception was Ryan Moore, who closed with a 70 and won a playoff in Malaysia.


FINAL WORD: ''I feel like to play well in the Masters and U.S. Open it's important to start the year right and get in contention, because you don't want to be in the final group on Sunday of a major having not been in that position earlier in the year.'' – Phil Mickelson.

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First-tee grandstand 'biggest you'll ever see'

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 8:27 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – The first-tee nerves could be even more intense this week at the Ryder Cup.

If only because of the atmosphere.

The grandstand surrounding the first hole at Le Golf National is unlike anything that’s ever been seen at this event – a 6,500-seat behemoth that dwarfs the previous arenas.

“It’s the biggest grandstand you’ll ever see at a golf tournament,” Tommy Fleetwood said.

“It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t had to hit that tee shot before,” Ian Poulter said. “When I think back (to my first Ryder Cup) in 2004, the stand is nothing like what we have today. So it really is going to be quite a special moment Friday, and it’s going to be very interesting to see.”

Poulter said it’ll be his job to prepare, as best he can, the team’s rookies for what they’ll experience when the first ball goes in the air Friday morning.

“The No. 1 thing I’ve pictured since the Ryder Cup became a goal is that first tee shot,” Fleetwood said. “But nothing prepares you for the real thing. The grandstand is pretty big – there’s no denying that.

“It’s something that everybody wants in their career, so as nerve-wracking as it is, and whatever those feelings are, everybody wants that in their life. So you just have to take it on and let it all happen.”  

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Impressionist Moore creates 'hilarious' video for Euros

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 7:54 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – The European Ryder Cup team began its week by laughing at itself.

Noted impressionist Conor Moore made a 10-minute clip in which he took turns poking fun at the 12 team members in a press-conference setting.

The video has not, and probably will not, be made public.

“It was extremely funny, I have to say,” Ian Poulter said. “Clips like that, they can help the team get together. Although we’re taking the mickey out of one another, it’s quite a good way to start the week off.”

The best impression, apparently, was of reigning Open champion Francesco Molinari.

“I think Fran’s has made me giggle for about 10 hours now," Tommy Fleetwood said. 

"Just how deadpan he was – just trying to make how excited he was with his deadpan tone. It was perfect, really. It was absolutely spot-on."

Even the typically stoic Molinari found the video hilarious.

“I’m actually thinking of it all the time now answering questions, trying to smile a bit more,” he said, laughing.

So is this the new, more lively version of Molinari?

“Can’t you tell the difference?” he said dryly.

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Woods' final round is highest-rated FEC telecast ever

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 24, 2018, 9:05 pm

We've heard it a million times: Tiger Woods doesn't just move the needle, he IS the needle.

Here's more proof.

NBC Sports Group's final-round coverage of Woods claiming his 80th career victory in the Tour Championship earned a 5.21 overnight rating, making it the highest-rated telecast in the history of the FedExCup Playoffs and the highest-rated PGA Tour telecast in 2018 (excluding majors).

The rating was up 206 percent over 2017's Tour Championship.


Final FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Coverage peaked from 5:30-6PM ET (7.19) as Woods finished his round and as Justin Rose was being crowned the FedExCup champion. That number trailed only the 2018 peaks for the Masters (11.03) and PGA Championship (8.28). The extended coverage window (1:30-6:15 PM ET) posted a 4.35 overnight rating, which is the highest-rated Tour Championship telecast on record.

Sunday’s final round also saw 18.4 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms (up 561 percent year-over-year), and becomes the most-streamed NBC Sports Sunday round (excluding majors) on record.

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Randall's Rant: Woods' comeback story ranks No. 1

By Randall MellSeptember 24, 2018, 8:40 pm

We’re marveling again.

This time over the essence of the man as much as the athlete, over what Tiger Woods summoned to repair, rebuild and redeem himself, after scandal and injury so ruinously rocked his career.

We watched in wonder Sunday as Woods completed the greatest comeback in the history of sport.

That’s how we’re ranking this reconstruction of a champion. (See the rankings below.)

We marveled over the admiration that flooded into the final scene of his victory at the Tour Championship, over the wave of adoring fans who enveloped him as he marched up the 18th fairway.

This celebration was different from his coronation, when he won the Masters by 12 shots in 1997, or his masterpiece, when he won the U.S. Open by 15 shots in 2000, or his epic sweep, when he won at Augusta National in ’01 to claim his fourth consecutive major championship title.

The awe back then was over how invincible Woods could seem in a sport where losing is the week-to-week norm, over how he could decimate the competition as no other player ever has.

The awe today is as much over the transformed nature of the rebuilt man.

It’s about what he has overcome since his aura of invincibility was decimated in the disgrace of a sex scandal, in the humiliation of a videotape of a DUI arrest, in the pain of four back surgeries and four knee surgeries and in the maddening affliction of chipping yips and driving and putting woes.

The wonder is also in imagining the fierce inventory of self-examination that must have been grueling, and in the mustering of inner strength required to overcome foes more formidable than Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and today’s other stars.

It’s in Woods overcoming shame, ridicule, doubt and probably some despair to rebuild his life outside the game before he could rebuild his life in the game.

Woods may never let us know the detail or depth of those inner challenges, of what helped him prevail in his more spiritual battles, because he’s still fiercely private. He may never share the keys to rebuilding his sense of himself, but he’s more open than he has ever been. He shares more than he ever has.

As a father of two children, as a mentor to so many of today’s young players, there’s more depth to the picture of this champion today. There also is more for fans to relate to in his struggles than his success. There’s more of the larger man to marvel over.



The greatest comebacks in the history of sports:


1. Tiger Woods

Four back surgeries and four knee surgeries are just part of the story. It’s why Woods ranks ahead of Ben Hogan. Woods’ comeback was complicated by so many psychological challenges, by the demon doubts created in his sex scandal and DUI arrest. There was shame and ridicule to overcome on a public stage. And then there were the chipping yips, and the driving and putting woes.


2. Ben Hogan

On Feb. 2, 1949, a Greyhound bus attempting to pass a truck slammed head on into Hogan’s Cadillac on a Texas highway. Hogan probably saved his life throwing himself over the passenger side to protect his wife, Valerie. He suffered a double fracture of the pelvis, a cracked rib, a fractured collarbone and a broken ankle, but it was a blood clot that nearly killed him a few weeks later. Hogan needed 16 months to recover but would return triumphantly to win the 1950 U.S. Open and five more majors after that.


3. Niki Lauda

In the bravest sporting comeback ever, Lauda returned to grand prix racing 38 days after his Ferrari burst into flames in a crash in a race in Germany in 1976. Disfigured from severe burns, the reigning Formula One world champion was back behind the wheel at the Italian Grand Prix, finishing fourth. He won the world championship again in ’77 and ’84.


4. Greg LeMond

In 1987, LeMond was shot and nearly killed in a hunting accident. Two years later, he won his second Tour de France title. A year after that, he won it again.


5. Babe Zaharias

In 1953, Babe Zaharias underwent surgery for colon cancer. A year later, she won the U.S. Women’s Open wearing a colostomy bag. She also went on to win the Vare Trophy for low scoring average that year.


6. Monica Seles

Away from tennis for two years after being stabbed with a knife between the shoulder blades during a match in Germany, Seles won in her return to competition at the 1995 Canadian Open. She was the highest ranked women’s tennis player in the world at the time of the attack.


7. Lance Armstrong

After undergoing chemotherapy treatment in a battle with potentially fatal metastatic testicular cancer in 1996, Armstrong recovered and went on to win seven Tour de France titles. Of course, the comeback wasn’t viewed in the same light after he was stripped of all those titles after being implicated in a doping conspiracy.


8. Mario Lemieux

In the middle of the 1992-93 season, the Pittsburgh Penguins star underwent radiation treatment for Hodgkin disease and missed 20 games. Making a start the same day as his last treatment, Lemieux scored a goal and assist. The Penguins would go on a 17-game winning streak after his return and Lemieux would lead the league in scoring and win the Hart Trophy as league MVP.


9. Peyton Manning

Multiple neck surgeries and a spinal fusion kept Manning from playing with the Indianapolis Colts for the entire 2011 season. He was released before the 2012 season and signed with the Denver Broncos. He won his fifth NFL MVP Award in ’13 and helped the Broncos win the Super Bowl in the ’15 season.


10. Bethany Hamilton

A competitive surfer at 13, Hamilton lost her left arm in a shark attack in Hawaii. A month later, she was surfing again. Less than two years later, she was a national champion.