Notes TV ratings up Harmon critiques Tiger

By Doug FergusonFebruary 2, 2011, 4:51 am

PGA TourSAN DIEGO – PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said golf doesn’t depend solely on TV ratings, although good news never hurts.

Golf has shown some promise the first month of the year, with significant increases in viewers on Golf Channel, which broadcast the opening three events and the first two rounds of Torrey Pines; and CBS Sports, which had the weekend at Torrey.

Even without Tiger Woods around – he tied for 44th in the Farmers Insurance Open and was on the air for about 30 minutes Sunday – CBS said its national rating for the final round was 3.5 with a 7 share, which was up 59 percent from a year ago.

Golf Channel, meanwhile, said it got a 1.0 with 997,000 viewers for the first round of Torrey Pines, which was up 89 percent from last year. It said the season-opening Tournament of Championship was up 38 percent, and the Bob Hope Classic was up 60 percent, despite the final round going up against the NFC and AFC Championship games.

Finchem described ratings as a “unique animal,” and said golf depends on them less than other television programs. The tour over the last few years has touted “cumulative audience” because it is on TV for some six hours on the weekend.

He also mentioned that golf ratings were hurt last year by a successful Winter Olympics, Woods being out of action for the first three months of the season and having his worst year, and by the NFL having one of its best years.

“We’ll see how we perform this year,” he said last week. “We’re up a little bit early in the year, but it’s way early.”

It might have helped golf its first network coverage came on a weekend when the East Coast was buried under snow.


THE KING IS GROUNDED: After nearly 55 years in the air, Arnold Palmer is leaving the cockpit.

Palmer on Monday flew his Cessna Citation 10 from Palm Springs to his home in Orlando, Fla., a significant trip because it was his last one as the pilot. His license expired that day, and the King chose not to renew it.

“I’ll still be flying in my plane as much as always, just not in the cockpit,” the 81-year-old Palmer told Golf Digest for a story on its website. “Flying has been one the great things in my life. It’s taken me to the far corners of the world. I met thousands of people I otherwise wouldn’t have met. And I even got to play a little golf along the way.”

Palmer grew up about a mile from the Latrobe, Pa., airport. He earned his first license in 1956 (and made his first solo flight after only eight hours of training) and bought his first plane in 1961.

In 1976, he set a record that still stands when he circumnavigated the globe in a Lear 36 in 57 hours, 35 minutes and 42 seconds. His longtime assistant Doc Giffin, told the magazine that Palmer stopped to refuel in Boston, Paris, Tehran, Sri Lanka, Jakarta, Manila, Wake Island and Honolulu.

“The stops were brief,” Giffin said. “But Arnold had time to ride an elephant in Sri Lanka, and in Manila he was given a gift from President Ferdinand Marcos that he still has.”


NO MEXICO: The LPGA, already facing a limited schedule, lost another tournament this year when it decided to postpone the Tres Marias Championship in Morelia, Mexico, over concerns of violence from drug wars.

The tournament had been scheduled to be played April 21-24. Ai Miyazato won last year.

“It won’t be held this year,” LPGA spokesman David Higdon said in an e-mail. “Our security firm determined the safety issues were too severe. We hope to return next year, though things will have to improve dramatically.”


HARMON SPEAKS: Butch Harmon believes 2010 took its biggest toll on Tiger Woods between the ears.

Harmon, the coach for Woods when he turn pro and during the rebuild of a swing that produced four successive majors, said what once separated Woods’ from everyone else was his mental strength. That changed last year, when Woods endured a year of being mocked for his extramarital affairs that ruined his marriage, and a game that was so bad he didn’t win for the first time in his pro career.

“I think his nerves aren’t quite as good as they used to be,” Harmon said on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” show last week. “I don’t think he’s as mentally tough as he used to be.”

Harmon attributed that to a life that “got out of hand.”

“I think that takes a toll on your nervous system, and it takes a toll on your focus,” Harmon said.

Harmon said he expects Woods to have a good year when he gets through another swing change under Sean Foley, and he expects that he will get back to No. 1 in the world.

“I don’t think he’ll ever dominate like he did before,” Harmon said. “I don’t think anyone can in this age.”


OCHOA AWARD: Lorena Ochoa is being honored for her work with underprivileged children in Mexico, including “La Barranca,” which began as an elementary school and last fall opened the high school.

The Golf Writers Association of America selected Ochoa for the Charlie Bartlett Award, given to professional golfers for unselfish contributions to improve society. Ochoa will be honored April 6 at the GWAA’s annual awards dinner in Augusta, Ga.

It will be her second award this year. She is to receive the Bob Jones Award this week from the USGA.


PLAYER COUNCIL AND VERPLANK: The 16-member Player Advisory Council for 2011 has a few new faces this year, such as Justin Rose of England, Jason Day and Kevin Sutherland. This is the group that advises the policy board and commissioner Tim Finchem on tour issues. The other PAC members: Jonathan Byrd, Michael Bradley, Ben Crane, Tom Gillis, Charley Hoffman, Matt Kuchar, Billy Mayfair, Webb Simpson, Paul Stankowski and Mark Wilson.

From that 16, three players are up for election to be the PAC chairman, meaning he will graduate to the policy board. The election is among Jim Furyk, David Duval and Scott Verplank.


DIVOTS: The PGA Tour continues to tweak pairings, serving up the all-South American trio of Jhonattan Vegas, Angel Cabrera and Camilo Villegas. … Robert Garrigus, who won the last tournament of 2010, picked up the tab for the caddies’ meals all week at Torrey Pines. Garrigus wanted to do something earlier, but the caddie trailer does not travel to Hawaii for the first two events. … The PGA Professional National Championship is going Bayonet and Black Horse on the Monterey Peninsula in 2012. … Rickie Fowler becomes the numerical replacement of Tiger Woods in one respect: He’s been signed as a playing editor for Golf Digest magazine.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have combined for only one PGA Tour victory in the last 16 months.


FINAL WORD: “I can’t understand it when people say, ‘Would you swap something?’ Because in golf, you certainly only ever get what you deserve.” – Lee Westwood, on whether he would trade the No. 1 ranking for a major.

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

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Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."