Olazabal Down But Hes Not Yet Out
If Jose Maria Olazabal has done the merry-go-round for the final time, he is not going to give up without a fight. He is playing this weekend at the Funai Classic at Walt Disney World, he is 148th on the money list ' but he would dearly love to play with a U.S. card for another year.
The Spaniard was one of the brightest prospects on the European Tour as a 21-year-old when he first made a splash in America, playing in the '87 Ryder Cup at Muirfield with Seve Ballesteros as a partner. It was the first time in history that Europe had won in America, and Olazabal and Seve won three of their four partnership matches.
He won the Masters in 1994 before he was felled by a foot injury in 95 that almost ruined his career. Confined to bed for 18 months, he finally submitted in desperation to the radical theories of a German doctor. But ' it worked!
Instead of focusing on his feet for treatment, the doc went to work on his back. The homeopathic specialist discovered a lower back hernia. His therapy included small doses of vegetable matter to pump up the bodys immune system, and within a short time Olazabal was out of bed and winning golf tournaments again.
Another Masters green jacket was his reward in 1999. And in 2002, now as a member of the PGA Tour, Olazabal won the Buick Open in San Diego.
But this year, he didnt make the Ryder Cup team. And he appears lost on the golf course ' he's 172nd on the PGA Tour in driving distance, 182nd in driving accuracy, 177th in greens hit. Only his magnificent putter ' hes fifth in putts per round ' has keep him from completely going under.
The five-year Masters exemption runs out this year. He plans to get in this tournament after being obligated to play in Spain last weekend at a course he designed. And he will play in Tampa next weekend. That gives him two chances to make $200,000, or else the card goes out to window.
He opened with an impressive 65 the first round at Disney. He still doesnt know exactly what he was doing differently. But it doesnt matter. He may be beginning to find his way, even if it is only temporary. Golf has been a series of nothing but trials and tribulations this year.
It's pretty much been consistency, he sighed. I have to say that my iron play has been pretty bad all year long. I've missed a lot of greens, even from the fairway.
And then even a lot of the greens that I hit, I'm quite far away from the hole. So I'm not giving myself really birdie opportunities, and that has been the problem.
That means that too many times, his brilliant putting has been going for one-putt pars instead of one-putt birdies. And thats not the way to make big bucks.
The driver has always been so-so, even during the good times in Europe. But this year the irons have been added to his list of woes. Its a problem that has concerned him all year.
My driver has been on and off like the rest of the season, so I don't think that is any different to what it has been the last four, five years, said Olazabal.
But I'm thinking more about how I've hit the irons all year long.
He didnt look too kindly on his sparkling work Thursday at Disney, either. Its still a struggle, apparently. Hes still searching for answers.
Well, if you look at the scorecard, I hit all the par 5s, he said. And the iron play, I manage to give like four, five good iron shots, and I took advantage of those.
Then the rest was touch-and-go. I didn't put the ball that close to the hole on the rest of the holes. But that's what I'm fighting, anyway.
He shudders to think about what will happen if he doesnt make it. He definitely will not go through the rigors of Q-School, he says ' not at age 38. He will continue working in the off-season, trying to find that magic elixir that has been missing. He will play the European Tour next year where he has a guaranteed life membership. And ' he will rely on individual tournaments in America to come though with the seven sponsors invites. That will be the extent of his play in the U.S. until he regains his card.
I would have to rely on some invitations next year, obviously,' he said. 'I can play San Diego because I won it a couple years ago, and the Masters. But I would have to rely on invitations.
'We'll see what happens.'
It may be over. But if it is, Olazabal will go out like a true Spanish torreador - figthing all the way.
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Chamblee: Like Tiger in '13, Mickelson should've DQ'd self
Two days after Brooks Koepka left Long Island with the U.S. Open trophy, the third-round antics of Phil Mickelson are still garnering plenty of discussion.
Mickelson became a lightning rod of opinion after he intentionally hit a moving ball on the 13th green Saturday at Shinnecock Hills, incurring a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification. In the aftermath, he explained that he made a conscious choice to take the penalty to avoid playing back and forth across the crispy putting surface, and he tied for 48th after a final-round 66.
Speaking Tuesday on "Morning Drive," Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee shared his view that Mickelson would have been well-served to disqualify himself ahead of the final round. He also compared it to Tiger Woods' incident at the 2013 Masters, when he took an incorrect drop and, like Mickelson, received a two-shot penalty but not a disqualification.
"I think Tiger, at least it's my opinion that his year would have been less distracting if he had done so," Chamblee said. "And I think the same of Phil Mickelson. If he had withdrawn from the championship and said, 'Look. This is a little sketchy. It didn't play out the way I thought. I've given it some thought and it's in the best interest of the championship that I withdraw.'"
Chamblee added that Mickelson's antics were "really distracting" on a day filled with drama as the USGA lost control of course conditions, noting that Mickelson and playing partner Andrew "Beef" Johnston were the only tee time where both players failed to break 80 despite the difficult conditions.
But having had time to review the situation and having surveyed a number of peers, Chamblee is as convinced as ever that Mickelson made a mistake by showing up for his final-round tee time.
"What Phil did, I haven't run into a single person that hasn't said he deserved to be disqualified," Chamblee said. "Under any interpretation, a serious breach - if gaining an advantage is not a serious breach, I don't know what is. And he clearly said he was gaining an advantage and doing it for strategic reasons."
Norman to pose in ESPN's 'Body Issue'
Professional golfers have, from time to time, appeared in ESPN's "Body Issue," which features athletes strategically posed in the nude. The list includes: Belen Mozo, Carly Booth, Gary Player, Camilo Villegas, Sandra Gal, Christina Kim, Anna Grzebien, Suzann Pettersen and Sadena Parks.
And now, Greg Norman.
Modesty has never been an issue for Norman, who has an affinity for posing without a shirt (and sometimes without pants) on his Instagram account.
He joins a list of athletes, in this year's edition, ranging from professional wrestlers (Charlotte Flair) to Olympians (Adam Rippon) to WNBA stars (Sue Bird). Click here for a full list of the athletes to appear.
DJ listed as betting favorite for The Open
With the U.S. Open officially in the books, oddsmakers quickly turned their attention to the season's third major.
Minutes after Brooks Koepka holed the winning putt to successfully defend his title at Shinnecock Hills, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook published its first set of odds for The Open. Jordan Spieth, who opened at 14/1, will defend his title as the tournament shifts to Carnoustie in Scotland for the first time since 2007, when Padraig Harrington defeated Sergio Garcia in a playoff.
Joining Spieth at 14/1 is 2014 Open champion Rory McIlroy, but they're both listed behind world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Johnson, who was a runner-up at the 2011 Open at Royal St. George's and just finished third at the U.S. Open, opened as a 12/1 betting favorite. Koepka, now a two-time major winner, is listed at 20/1 alongside U.S. Open runner-up Tommy Fleetwood.
Here's a look at the first edition of odds, with The Open just five weeks away:
12/1: Dustin Johnson
14/1: Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy
16/1: Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas
20/1: Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm
25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods
30/1: Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama
40/1: Phil Mickelson, Branden Grace, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Marc Leishman
50/1: Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Tyrrell Hatton
60/1: Matt Kuchar, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick
80/1: Tony Finau, Zach Johnson, Thomas Pieters, Daniel Berger, Xander Schauffele, Bubba Watson, Shane Lowry
100/1: Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker
Golf Channel, Loch Lomond Partner on Claret Jug Tour Ahead of 147TH Open
Award-Winning Independent Scotcb Whisky Sponsoring Tour to Select U.S. Cities; Will Include Special Tastings and Opportunities for Fans to Engage with Golf’s Most Storied Trophy
Golf Channel and Loch Lomond Group are partnering on a promotional tour with the Claret Jug – golf’s most iconic trophy, first awarded in 1873 to the winner of The Open – to select U.S. cities in advance of the 147TH Open at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland. Loch Lomond Whisky’s sponsorship of the tour further enhances the brand’s existing five-year partnership with the R&A as the official spirit of The Open, initially announced in February.
“We are proud to partner with Golf Channel to support this tour of golf’s most iconic trophy,” said Colin Matthews, CEO of Loch Lomond Group. “Whisky and golf are two of Scotland’s greatest gifts to the world, and following the news of our recent partnership with the R&A for The Open, being a part of the Claret Jug tour was a perfect fit for Loch Lomond Group to further showcase our commitment to the game.”
“The Loch Lomond Group could not be a more natural fit to sponsor the Claret Jug tour,” said Tom Knapp, senior vice president of golf sponsorship, NBC Sports Group. “Much like the storied history that accompanies the Claret Jug, Loch Lomond’s Scottish roots trace back centuries ago, and their aspirations to align with golf’s most celebrated traditions will resonate with a broad range of consumers in addition to golf fans and whisky enthusiasts.”
The tour kicks off today in Austin, Texas, and will culminate on Wednesday, July 11 at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe one week prior to The Open. Those wishing to engage with the Claret Jug will have an opportunity at one of several tour stops being staged at Topgolf locations in select cities. The tour will feature a custom, authentic Scottish pub where consumers (of age) can sample Loch Lomond’s portfolio of whiskies in the spirit of golf’s original championship and the Claret Jug. The Claret Jug also will make special pop-up visits to select GolfNow course partners located within some of the designated tour markets.
(All Times Local)
Monday, June 18 Austin, Texas (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m.)
Tuesday, June 19 Houston (Topgolf, 5-8 p.m.)
Wednesday, June 20 Jacksonville, Fla. (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)
Monday, June 25 Orlando, Fla. (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)
Wednesday, July 4 Washington D.C. (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m. – Ashburn, Va.)
Monday, July 9 Edison, N.J. (Topgolf, Time TBA)
Wednesday, July 11 Lake Tahoe, Nev. American Century Championship (On Course)
Fans interacting with the Claret Jug and Loch Lomond during the course of the tour are encouraged to share their experience using the hashtag, #ClaretJug on social media, and tag @TheOpen and @LochLomondMalts on Twitter and Instagram.
NBC Sports Group is the exclusive U.S. television home of the 147TH Open from Carnoustie, with nearly 50 live hours of tournament coverage, Thursday-Sunday, July 19-22. The Claret Jug is presented each July to the winner of The Open, with the winner also being given the title of “Champion Golfer of the Year” until the following year’s event is staged. The Claret Jug is one of the most storied trophies in all of sports; first presented to the 1873 winner of The Open, Tom Kidd. Each year, the winner’s name is engraved on to the trophy, forever etched into the history of golf’s original championship. It is customary for the Champion Golfer of the Year to drink a favorite alcoholic beverage from the Claret Jug in celebration of the victory.