Woods' fading star allows others to shine

By Doug FergusonNovember 30, 2011, 12:32 am

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The pool of young talent in golf has never looked deeper.

Rory McIlroy won the U.S. Open at age 22, the second-youngest player to win a major since The Masters began in 1934. Jason Day, the 24-year-old Australian, was a runner-up in two majors this year. Rickie Fowler, 22, won his first pro event in South Korea and is responsible for all those bright orange Puma hats in just about any gallery.

Matteo Manassero won twice on the European Tour before he was 18. Ryo Ishikawa had 10 wins in Japan before he was 19.

The list gets even longer with budding stars in their 20s – Martin Kaymer, Charl SchwartzelDustin JohnsonKeegan BradleyWebb Simpson and Anthony Kim.

Attribute that depth to Tiger Woods.

It’s not because he set the bar so high and made everyone try to get better. It’s because he no longer wins so many tournaments. So maybe the pool only looks deeper because it no longer has such a big fish.

For the second straight year, nobody won more than three times on the PGA TourLuke Donald was among seven players with two wins this year, while Jim Furyk won his third event last year in his final start at the Tour Championship.

The five previous years, Woods won at least six times in all but one year. The exception was 2008, when he missed the second half of the year with knee surgery. He won four times in six starts.

It’s one thing to talk about this great parity in golf, particularly on the biggest tour. But two questions should be asked: Would that perception of parity exist if Woods had not gone away the last two years? Is it possible that just as many great young players were around over the last decade, only to be overlooked by the overwhelming presence of the game’s biggest star?

Sergio Garcia nearly won the PGA Championship at 19 except that he went up against Woods that day in Medinah. Adam Scott was 23 when he won The Players ChampionshipJustin Leonard was 25 when he won the British Open. Phil Mickelson won as an amateur.

“The talk like there’s parity on Tour is slightly flawed, because there’s always been parity,” Geoff Ogilvy said in a recent interview. “It’s just that there was one guy who made no one notice. The last 15 years you’ve had Phil Mickelson, Ernie ElsDavid Duval, Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia. You had arguably more proven players – lots of them – over the last 15 years. Now it’s the same.

“You have new names, but we notice them now. The media notices them. Fans notice them.”

They used to be looked upon as possible challengers to Woods. Now they are seen as potential replacements.

Woods has gone two years since his last win, which for so many years seemed unimaginable until his personal life unraveled, until he chose to go through yet another swing change, then effectively went four months without being able to practice due to injury. Through it all, his confidence eroded with each setback.

Thirteen players have won the last 13 majors, dating to Padraig Harrington at the 2008 PGA Championship. There was a time when Woods won seven out of 11 majors early in his career, and six out of 14 majors right before reconstructive knee surgery.

If he had kept winning at the rate he did for 14 years, would anyone have noticed this crop of young players?

“Rory McIlroy would still be up there,” Hunter Mahan said Tuesday. “But Tiger played a practice round and it made news. He’s chasing records whenever he plays. How are you not going to write about that? No offense to the young guys.”

Nick Watney also suggested that McIlroy, based on his sheer talent and eight-shot win at the U.S. Open, would get his fair share of attention even if Woods had kept winning a major a year, along with a half-dozen other titles.

“But he would be like Sergio was, like Adam Scott was, like whoever the media tabbed – Charles Howell, at one point,” Watney said.

The question is whether Woods can get back.

The Chevron World Challenge, for an 18-man field in which everyone but the host – Woods – is among the top 50, figures to be a good benchmark. Woods has gone 26 official events without winning. He is coming off two strong weeks in Australia during which he hit the ball where he was aiming for nine rounds in windy conditions.

To win at Sherwood – or even to be in contention – would send expectations for 2012 higher than they have been in two years. But the road back doesn’t start until he’s posing with a trophy.

What happens then?

Only three players at Sherwood are older than Woods (Steve Stricker, Furyk, K.J. Choi), so the challengers he faces around the world are all younger than they used to be. And while none of these guys has won more than three times in a year, they feel a lot better about themselves because no one else has won that much more.

That’s the Tiger effect.

“Golf is a very confidence-driven game,” Ogilvy said. “A lot of these players now have more confidence than if he was winning eight times a year. Because if a guy is winning eight times a year, even if you win three times, you don’t feel like you’re as good of a player because there’s someone who’s so much better than you.”

Donald is No. 1 by a wide margin, courtesy of his work ethic, consistently being in the top 10 and four wins around the world. But it’s not domination that golf saw for the better part of a dozen years.

Golf always has had its share of rising stars. It only looks as if there are more now because no one is that much better than anyone else.

Catch live coverage of the Chevron World Challenge on Golf Channel and NBC: Thursday and Friday – 2:30PM ET on Golf Channel; Saturday and Sunday – 12:30PM ET on Golf Channel, 3PM ET on NBC.

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Lauren Thompson and a giant 'gator eating a turtle

By Grill Room TeamApril 19, 2018, 4:53 pm

Really, the headline says it all.

"Morning Drive" co-host Lauren Thompson was playing the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes on Thursday in Orlando, Fla., when her threesome turned into a foursome, with the appearance of a giant alligator. Techincally, it was a fivesome, as the 'gator had a turtle in its mouth.



Hey, it's a slow news week for Grill Room.

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Sources confirm Charles Schwab to sponsor Colonial event

By Rex HoggardApril 19, 2018, 2:42 pm

Multiple sources have confirmed to GolfChannel.com that officials at Colonial are poised to announce a new sponsorship agreement with Charles Schwab Corporation.

Tournament officials scrambled this year after Dean & DeLuca ended its sponsorship of the event just two years into a six-year agreement, pulling together an assortment of local sponsors and renaming the event the Fort Worth Invitational.

Colonial’s status on the PGA Tour schedule became even more uncertain when the PGA Championship announced it would move from August to May, beginning in 2019 as part of a major overhaul of the circuit’s schedule.

According to the Dallas News, and confirmed by multiple sources at the club, officials plan to announce the new long-term agreement with Charles Schwab on Monday that will begin in 2019.

News of a long-term sponsorship deal would also suggest the event will remain in May in 2019 and beyond. The Tour has indicated it plans to announce the ’19 schedule at next month’s Players Championship.

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PNC Extends Title Sponsorship of PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Golf Channel Public RelationsApril 19, 2018, 1:00 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., April 19, 2018 – IMG and NBC Sports today announced that The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. has extended its contract as title sponsor of the PNC Father/Son Challenge, the tournament that pairs the games’ legends alongside their sons, daughters and grandchildren.

PNC’s multi-year extension as title sponsor keeps the PGA Tour Challenge Event in Orlando reflecting the bank’s commitment to Central Florida. PNC has served as title sponsor of the tournament since 2012. The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando, Grande Lakes will continue to play host to the PNC Father/Son Challenge. The 2018 PNC Father/Son Challenge will take place Friday-Sunday, Dec. 14-16, with television coverage on Golf Channel and NBC.

“The PNC Father/Son Challenge long ago became one of my family’s favorite golf tournaments,” said 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus. “I have had the pleasure of playing with my sons, and last year, partnering with my 15-year-old grandson GT was a thrill. I am delighted the event—a uniquely special one to us fathers and grandfathers, and perhaps to the many fans out there watching from home or outside the ropes—will continue for many years to come.”

“After our victory in 2016, I said that this win was as good as anything I have done in my career,” said former World No. 1 and major champion David Duval, who alongside his stepson Nick Karavites captured the 2016 title. “I felt blessed to have Nick inside the ropes with me and to have our family surrounding us all week. That’s what makes the PNC Father/Son Challenge so special, and I’m pleased to hear that PNC has extended its support of the event. This golf tournament means so much to all of us who are lucky enough to have the opportunity to play in this event.”

The tournament also holds three events in qualifier markets per year. This year they will be in Dallas, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

“The PNC Father/Son Challenge allows fans to see golf’s legends playing the game they love alongside those they love most,” said Alastair Johnston, vice chairman, IMG. “We are grateful for PNC’s ongoing support of this unique tournament and we look forward to returning to Orlando to celebrate golf and family for many years to come.”

Community support is a key aspect of the tournament and PNC’s sponsorship. PNC is committed to donating $150,000 annually to local non-profits over the life of its sponsorship. Across six previous years of title sponsorship, PNC has already donated $900,000 to Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation and the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children to support the “Healthy Families Orange” program. Over the years, PNC has also had the opportunity through this tournament to co-host events for local women in business, to put on clinics and provide free access to the tournament for active military, and even provide a service dog for a local veteran.

"PNC's long-standing sponsorship of the Father/Son Challenge reflects the philanthropic values we share with the PGA Tour and the golf community, as well as our focus on strong relationships,” said Bill Demchak, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The PNC Financial Services Group. “As PNC Bank continues to expand its footprint, the PNC Father/Son tournament helps us gain visibility with new audiences and to strengthen the relationships we enjoy today with more than 8 million retail, wealth, and corporate and institutional banking customers across the country.”

“NBC Sports is extremely proud of our heritage as co-founder for the Father/Son Challenge, one of golf’s most special events that closes out the calendar year on the golf schedule,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports. “Our relationship with PNC Bank elevates this event each year as a must-attend and must-see event for players and fans alike, and we look forward to our continued relationship with PNC Bank for years to come.”

Past winners of the PNC Father/Son Challenge include some of the biggest names in golf including Raymond Floyd (1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001), Jack Nicklaus (1999), Bernhard Langer (2005-06, 2014), Davis Love III (2012) and David Duval (2016).  Masters champion Angel Cabrera and his son, Angel Cabrera Jr. captured the 2017 title.

To qualify for the PNC Father/Son Challenge, participants must have won either a major championship or THE PLAYERS Championship in their career. The professional’s partner must not currently hold a Tour card, and while the majority of partners in the history of the event have been the sons of the golf legends, the family-themed tournament has seen daughters, grandsons and one father – Justin Leonard’s dad, Larry – participate over the years.

The PNC Father/Son Challenge is operated in partnership by IMG and NBC Sports.

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Fire damages National Golf Links of America clubhouse

By Will GrayApril 19, 2018, 12:55 pm

A fire broke out Wednesday at National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y., causing "extensive damage" to a portion of the historic course's clubhouse.

According to a 27East.com report, an initial call was made to the Southampton police department about a fire on the roof of the clubhouse at 11:34 a.m. With the club's gates too narrow to fit a fire truck through, more than 100 firefighters from various departments helped douse the flames by transporting water up a hill to the east side of the clubhouse.

The fire was reportedly extinguished by 2:30 p.m., with no injuries requiring medical attention. According to a Golf Digest report, the club was undergoing construction on its outdoor eating area known as "the Birdcage" and that most of the club's historical documents reside on the opposite end of the clubhouse from where the fire broke out and was contained.

Opened in 1911, National Golf Links of America was designed by C.B. MacDonald and hosted the inaugural Walker Cup in 1922. The biennial matches returned in 2013 to NGLA, which is often rated among the top courses in the U.S. and sits adjacent to Shinnecock Hills, site of this summer's U.S. Open.