Tiger Woods has leading role in golfs soap opera

By Doug FergusonAugust 12, 2010, 3:04 am

2010 PGA ChampionshipSHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Along the humps and hollows of Whistling Straits, against the magnificent backdrop of Lake Michigan, the stage is set for golf’s final major championship of the year, the PGA.

This year, that could stand for Players Gone Amok.

Tiger Woods is getting grilled like never before, but not about his marriage, his personal life or that fire hydrant his car ran over last Thanksgiving. It’s about his golf, of all things, and it’s not pretty.

Phil Mickelson revealed he’s recovering from a painful bout of arthritis and has become a vegetarian. Lefty is now eating greens in regulation, along with hitting them.

Meanwhile, U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin and Golf Channel reporter Jim Gray nearly hit each other.

Woods, the No. 1 player for a record 270 weeks in a row, hasn’t come close to winning a tournament this year and reached a new low last week at Firestone when he posted the worst score of his career (18-over 298) and finished 30 shots behind the winner.

For a guy who has won 14 majors – that’s one more than his next four rivals combined – the drama at the PGA Championship is not whether Woods can win, but whether he can make the cut. And if he doesn’t, whether he will be picked for the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

“Life in general the last nine months has been very difficult,” Woods said. “But just like my dad always said, ‘Just keep living.’ That’s something I’ve taken to heart quite a bit. And there were quite a few times that I’ve definitely said that to myself.”

Then came the shockers from Mickelson.

Before taking questions Tuesday, he revealed that he has been battling a form of arthritis since the week before the U.S. Open in June and made a special trip to the Mayo Clinic but now is taking medication and headed for a recovery.

The other surprise is his diet.

Mickelson, an investor in the popular restaurant chain “Five Guys, Burgers and Fries,” has become a vegetarian. Make that “Five Guys, Bulgar and Fennel.”

“Can you believe that?” he said. “It’s not really me, but it has been.”

Then there’s Sergio Garcia, the talented young Spaniard who was 19 when he nearly beat Woods in the 1999 PGA Championship.

He had his heart broken by Greg Norman’s daughter last year and has been in a funk ever since. It reached a point last week that he said he was taking a two-month break after the final major, even though that means skipping a chance to play in the Ryder Cup.

With all this commotion going on, clouds gathered over the PGA Championship on Wednesday, the final day of practice, and pounded Whistling Straits with rain so hard that Anthony Kim went barefoot on some holes.

And then another black cloud arrived – or maybe it was Gray.

The Golf Channel’s Jim Gray reported Tuesday evening that Pavin told him he was picking Woods for the Ryder Cup if he didn’t make the team on his own. Pavin saw this Wednesday morning while playing a practice round before the rain arrived, and he put on Twitter that he never said that.

Minutes after Pavin’s news conference, Gray walked into the interview room for a heated exchange with Pavin, and pointed a finger at his chest. According to Pavin – his wife taped the argument on her cell phone – Gray called him a liar and said, “You’re going down.”

In the entry way to the media center, reporters were buzzing over the spat. Pavin was in the back of the room with Colin Montgomerie to sign the Ryder Cup captain’s agreement.

In walked Woods’ chief spokesman, Glenn Greenspan, and hardly anyone noticed.

And it was Woods himself who had sparked the Ryder Cup debate.

Even in such strange times, Woods drives just about every topic of discussion. And to think that just one year ago, at the PGA Championship in Hazeltine, the biggest shock was that Woods finished in second place.

The focus should shift to golf when the tournament gets under way Thursday. What’s missing is a clear favorite, and that can be attributed to Woods, too.

Graeme McDowell won his first major in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, even though the Sunday contenders included Woods, Mickelson and Ernie Els. Louis Oosthuizen won the British Open at St. Andrews with a performance reminiscent of Woods, even though not many knew the 27-year-old South African, and even fewer could pronounce his name.

In some respects, Mickelson was a surprise at the Masters. He had not won a tournament all year, and has not won since. But his wife, Amy, made her first trip to a tournament since being diagnosed with breast cancer a year earlier, and their embrace behind the 18th green at Augusta National remains among the most poignant moments of the year.

What will Whistling Straits deliver? Just about anything.

“The major championship have got a lot more wide open, it seems, in the past couple of years,” said 21-year-old Rory McIlroy, who has as good of a chance as anyone this week.

He mentioned the problems Woods is having on the golf course – Woods has broken par in only four of his last 20 rounds – along with the 78 that Mickelson shot on Sunday when he had a chance to go to No. 1 in the world. The No. 3 player is Lee Westwood, who pulled out of the PGA with a calf injury.

“So there’s going to be a lot of guys here thinking that it’s the right time for them to break though,” McIlroy said. “And I’m definitely one of those guys. You can never write off the likes of Tiger and Phil.”

So who’s the winner?

“Anyone in the field,” Carl Pettersson said. “It’s not like it used to be.”

In many ways.

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Elway to play in U.S. Senior Open qualifier

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 23, 2018, 10:25 pm

Tony Romo is not the only ex-QB teeing it up against the pros.

Denver Broncos general manager and Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway will try to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open next week, according to the Denver Post.

And why not? The qualifier and the senior major will be held in Colorado Springs at the Broadmoor. Elway is scheduled to tee off May 28 at 12:10 p.m. ET. The top two finishers will earn a spot in the U.S. Senior Open, June 27 to July 1.

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Jutanugarn sisters: Different styles, similar results

By Associated PressMay 23, 2018, 10:20 pm

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn play golf and live life differently.

The sisters from Thailand do have the same goal in the LPGA, hoping their shot-to-shot focus leads to titles.

The Jutanugarns are two of six women with a shot at the Volvik Championship to become the circuit's first two-time winner this year. The first round begins Thursday at Travis Pointe Country Club, a course six winners are skipping to prepare elsewhere for next week's U.S. Women's Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama.

''Everybody has a chance to win every weekend,'' Moriya said. ''That's how hard it is on tour right now.''

Ariya competes with a grip-it-and-rip-it approach, usually hammering a 3-wood off the tee.

Moriya takes a more calculated approach, analyzing each shot patiently.

That's perhaps fitting because she's 16 months older than her sister.

''It's funny because when we think about something, it's always the different,'' she said. ''But we pretty much end up with the same idea.''

Off the course, they're also different.

The 22-year-old Ariya appears careful and guarded when having conversations with people she doesn't know well. The 23-year-old Moriya, meanwhile, enjoys engaging in interesting discussions with those who cross her path.

Their mother, Narumon, was with her daughters Wednesday and the three of them always stay together as a family. They don't cook during tournament weeks and opt to eat out, searching for good places like the sushi restaurant they've discovered near Travis Pointe.

Their father, Somboon, does not watch them play in person. They sisters say he has retired from owning a golf shop in Thailand.

''He doesn't travel anymore,'' Moriya Jutanugarn said.

Even if he is relegating to watching from the other side of the world, Somboon Jutanugarn must be proud of the way his daughters are playing.

Ariya became the first Thai winner in LPGA history in 2016, the same year she went on to win the inaugural Volvik Championship. She earned her eighth career victory last week in Virginia and is one of two players, along with Brooke Henderson, to have LPGA victories this year and the previous two years.

Moriya won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles, joining Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam as the two pairs of sisters to have LPGA victories.

On the money list, Ariya is No. 1 and her sister is third.

In terms of playing regularly, no one is ahead of them.

Ariya is the only LPGA player to start and make the cut in all 12 events this year. Moriya Jutanugarn has also appeared in each tournament this year and failed to make the cut only once.

Instead of working in breaks to practice without competing or simply relax, they have entered every tournament so far and shrug their shoulders at the feat.

''It's not that bad, like 10 week in a row,'' Moriya said.

The LPGA is hosting an event about five miles from Michigan Stadium for a third straight year and hopes to keep coming back even though it doesn't have a title sponsor secured for 2019. LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan told reporters he's confident Ann Arbor will be a long-term home for the circuit.

''I can't tell you the specifics about how we're going to do that,'' Whan acknowledged.

LPGA and tournament officials are hosting some prospective sponsors this week, trying to persuade them to put their name on the tournament.

Volvik, which makes golf balls, is preparing to scale back its support of the tournament.

''We're coming back,'' said Don Shin, president of Volvik USA. ''We just don't know in what capacity.''

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Wise: 'No hard feelings' over Nelson missed kiss

By Will GrayMay 23, 2018, 10:18 pm

Aaron Wise left the AT&T Byron Nelson with his first PGA Tour trophy and a seven-figure paycheck. But lost in the shuffle of closing out his breakthrough victory in near-darkness was his failed attempt for a celebratory kiss with his girlfriend on the 18th green.

Wise appeared to go in for a peck after his family joined him on the putting surface, but instead he and his girlfriend simply laughed and hugged. After the moment gained a bit of online notoriety, Wise told reporters at the Fort Worth Invitational that the young couple simply laughed it off.

"Yeah, I have been giving her some s--- about that," Wise said. "A lot has been made about it. It's really nothing. Like I was saying, she was just so excited to surprise me. I was kind of ruining the surprise a little bit that she was shocked, and she didn't even see me going in for the kiss."

At age 21, Wise is now one of the youngest winners on Tour. He explained that while both his girlfriend and mother flew in to watch the final round at Trinity Forest Golf Club, where he shared the 54-hole lead and eventually won by three shots, he took some of the surprise out of their arrival in true millennial fashion - by looking up his girlfriend's location earlier in the day.

Still getting used to his newfound status on Tour, Wise downplayed any controversy surrounding the kiss that wasn't.

"No hard feelings at all," Wise said. "We love each other a ton and we're great. It was a funny moment that I think we'll always be able to look back at, but that's all it really was."

Mmm Visuals / Lancaster Country Club

Giving back: Chun creates education fund at site of Open win

By Randall MellMay 23, 2018, 8:04 pm

South Korea’s In Gee Chun is investing in American youth.

Chun broke through on the largest stage in women’s golf, winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago, and she’s making sure Lancaster, Pa., continues to share in what that brought her.

Chun is preparing for next week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek outside Birmingham, Ala., but she made a special stop this week. She returned to the site of her breakthrough in Pennsylvania on Tuesday and Wednesday, launching the In Gee Chun Lancaster Country Club Education Fund. She announced Tuesday that she’s donating $10,000 to seed the fund. She’s expected to raise more than $20,000 for the cause in a fundraising dinner at the club Wednesday evening. The fund will annually award scholarships to Lancaster youth applicants, including Lancaster Country Club caddies and children of club employees.

“I’m excited to be back here,” said Chun, who put on a junior clinic during her stay and also played an outing with club members. “Winning the U.S. Women’s Open here in Lancaster gave me the opportunity to play on the LPGA and make one of my dreams come true.”

Chun also supports a fund in her name at Korea University, where she graduated, a fund for various “social responsibility” projects and for the educational needs of the youth who create them.

“Education is very important to me,” Chun said. “I would like to help others reach their goals.”

Chun made donations to the Lancaster General Health Foundation in 2015 and ’16 and to Pennsylvania’s J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Trust last year. Lancaster Country Club officials estimate she has now made donations in excess of $40,000 to the community.

“We are grateful In Gee’s made such a wonderful connection to our community and club,” said Rory Connaughton, a member of Lancaster Country Club’s board of governors. “She’s a special person.”