Shigeki Stands Tall at Byron Nelson

By George WhiteMay 12, 2002, 4:00 pm
IRVING, Texas -- Is he really that short? Is he really that funny? Is he that professional a singer? Is he really that good?
 
Shigeki Maruyama, all 5-foot-8 of him, is the new Verizon Byron Nelson Classic champion. He won it Sunday by shooting 2-under-par 68, finishing with a 14-under 266 and gaining a two-shot victory. In the process, he answered all those questions ' especially showing that he is that good ' with a resounding yes.
 
Not bad for a man who loves to sing karaoke. I was singing, Tears in Heaven, the Eric Clapton song, said a grinning Maruyama through an interpreter. I dont sing English songs too much, but I knew that I would like to do that sometime at the Presidents Cup. Therefore, I studied and practiced quite a bit.
 
Maruyama on his win.

Maruyama hung on rather shakily in mid-round, making a bogey on No. 12 when he hit water on his approach shot, then missed the green with his tee shot on the par-3 13th. But he made par on the 13th to regain his three-shot lead, then scrambled for another par on the par-3 17th after missing the green by 20 feet. The victims Sunday were relative unknown Ben Crane and a charging Tiger Woods.
 
Maruyama won for the second time in the United States in two years. Last year, he got his first victory in the America at the Greater Milwaukee Open.
 
This was a big difference compared to Milwaukee, he said, feet still not reaching the carpet while sitting in the interview chair. I was leading (through so much of this tournament.) At Milwaukee, I remember I was so much like, coming back. This time was completely different.
 
The first time winning, I couldnt believe myself. This time, things are so different. I feel like my effort and my talent came out.
 
The 17th was the critical hole for Maruyama Sunday. He hit what looked like a good tee shot at first, but the ball carried over the back left. It rolled down a slope perilously close to water, but stopped about a yard short of a lake.
 
Facing a very difficult chip, uphill to an elevated green with a pin cut 20 feet from the edge of the green, Maruyama hit a delicate chip to within three feet. He sank the putt, and that par meant he would stay comfortably ahead of Crane, who was having to make par from a pitch shot on 18 to stay within two shots of Maruyama.
 
As soon as I hit the shot, I felt like, Oh yeah, it was good, he said of the swipe at 17. But I could hear the (gallery) going, Oooo. And then I almost fainted when I saw (where the shot had ended.)
 
The wind quieted down somewhat from Saturday. Maruyama saw it and knew he was going to have a more difficult time than if he had been battling the contrary breezes of the day before. I said, OK, the wind has stopped and all the players will start playing really good.
 
The only thing to do, decided Shigeki, was to play well himself. He opened with a birdie on the very first hole and played the front side in 1-under-par. He grimly hung on on the backside, making a birdie on No. 10, making a bogey at No. 11, but then putting brilliantly with clutch saves on the next three holes. As it developed, he would have just enough of a margin of error.
 
Woods rallied to shoot a 5-under 65, but an over-par round Thursday when he struggled with a 71 (par 70) doomed him. Crane, who tied for fifth at the 2001 qualifying school, shot a 65 also and threw a scare into Maruyama.
 
Just to be here and be playing on the weekend, I was so thankful, said Crane. I really had an amazing couple of days. Being in the hunt ' and playing with Ernie Els ' was awesome.
 
Crane is indisposed next week. He is getting married to Heather Heinze in Portland, Ore., May 18.
 
Woods, despite the failure to win, is pleased with where his game is after taking a long vacation since his win at the Masters.
 
Ive gotten better every day, said Tiger. Thats what you want to see when you take some time off. You want to see some progress, and Ive been able to do that. If I could have progressed every day, I feel like it would have been a successful week, which I have been able to do.
 
Final results from the Verizon Byron Nelson Classic

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Randall's Rant: Too much Tiger for his own good?

By Randall MellAugust 20, 2018, 10:00 pm

We could be getting a dose of way too much Tiger Woods.

Yeah, that’s difficult to fathom, given how good his return to the game has been on so many levels, but the man might be too close to winning for his own good right now.

I’m not a doctor, I don’t play one on TV, and I didn’t sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but a reasonable person has to wonder how playing the next three weeks in a row – five of the next six weeks – will affect Woods’ surgically fused spine.

That isn’t to say Woods is actually going to end up playing that much, but it looms as a real possibility.

In fact, dating back to the WGC Bridgestone, it’s possible he could be amid a run of playing seven times in the last nine weeks.

My sacroiliac joint is throbbing at the thought.

Beginning with The Northern Trust this week, Woods is committed to the first three legs of the FedExCup Playoffs, and it’s difficult to imagine he wouldn’t play the final leg at the Tour Championship if he qualifies.

It’s impossible to imagine he won’t be among Jim Furyk’s four captain’s picks to play the Ryder Cup.

So if Woods continues this streak of strong play, what’s going to give?

We hope it isn’t his back.

Or his neck.

Or his knees.

Only Woods and his doctors really know how much the 42-year-old can take physically, but there is more to lose than to gain by overdoing it now.

Yeah, the FedExCup Playoffs are great fun, more meaningful with each passing year, but it’s all about the major championships now for Woods.

Competitively, it’s all that matters.

Nobody but the most anal Tiger fans are going to remember how many FedExCups he won, but we’re all going to remember how many majors he won.

We’re all going to remember him resuming his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus, if that’s where his summer tease is taking us, with Woods’ T-6 at The Open last month and his second-place finish at the PGA Championship two weeks ago.

Whether you are a Woods fan or not, how can you not want to see a historic chase of Jack as Tiger’s last chapter?

The game soars to yet another level with that.

A legion of young, new fans come pouring into the game even if Tiger only gets to 17 major championship titles.

So while the FedExCup Playoffs give us a postseason in golf, make Player of the Year chases more interesting and Ryder Cup captain’s picks more intriguing, they are a mere prelude for Tiger.

The playoffs give him another chance to get ready for next year’s Masters.

They give him a chance to win something before heading to Augusta National.

They give him another chance to rebuild his closing skills.

Woods doesn’t have to win the overall FedExCup to do that.

And he doesn’t have to play every event he commits to playing. He’s 20th in FedExCup points right now. He can get to the Tour Championship without playing all three of the legs leading there.

The tough spot for Woods is withdrawing from a FedExCup event. It’s trickier for him. With all the extra tickets sold when he commits, with all the excitement his anticipated arrival creates, it feels like a broken promise when he backs out.

Yeah, other players WD before big events for reasons beyond injury, but they don’t create the massive disappointment Woods creates.

For somebody invested in wanting to see Tiger vs. Jack reprised, it’s a lot easier to live with seeing Woods pull out of a FedExCup Playoff event to rest than to see him WD from one with an injury.

There’s more excitement in the prospect of seeing a lot of Woods in the majors next year than seeing too much of him now.

Here’s hoping somebody helps Tiger gets his FedExCup Playoff dosage right. His pain could be golf’s pain.

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Watch: Marshawn Lynch's golf game could use some work

By Grill Room TeamAugust 20, 2018, 8:15 pm

NFL star running back Marshawn Lynch is pretty great at driving golf carts, but from the looks of a video that surfaced this weekend, his golf prowess starts and ends there.

"Beast Mode" was in attendance at Klay Thompson's charity event in San Francisco on Sunday, and luckily the Golden State Warriors shooting guard caught Lynch's swing on camera - because it is a sight to behold.

Dressed in a traditional golf hoodie, the former Super Bowl champion who has been thrilling fans with his raw athleticism and power on the gridiron for more than a decade showed off a swing that would make Charles Barkley blush.

Lynch was not questioned about the swing by members of media afterwards, although there's a pretty good chance you already know how he would've answered.

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Stenson (elbow) withdraws from playoff opener

By Will GrayAugust 20, 2018, 5:41 pm

Former FedExCup champ Henrik Stenson will start his postseason on the sideline, as he withdrew on Monday from The Northern Trust because of an elbow injury.

Stenson captured the season-long title back in 2013, when he won two of the four playoff events. At 50th in the current points standings, he's assured of a spot next week at the 100-man Dell Technologies Championship and likely to make the field at the 70-man BMW Championship the following week.

A PGA Tour official confirmed that Stenson cited the elbow injury as the reason for his withdrawal. He was bothered by an injured elbow last month that led him to withdraw from the Scottish Open and limited his prep for The Open, where he tied for 35th.

The 42-year-old defended his title last week at the Wyndham Championship, tying for 20th place after shooting a 6-under 64 in the final round.

"It's fine, I can practice and I can play without any problems as of now, but I can't really go after it in the gym fully," Stenson told reporters last week in Greensboro. "The main thing that we can play and practice without having any problems there, so it's getting better."

The intrigue around Stenson's decision grows when the context of the Ryder Cup is taken into consideration. The Swede has represented Europe in the biennial matches four times, but he's currently 16th in both the European Points and World Points lists with only two weeks remaining in the qualification window.

Even before skipping this week's event in New Jersey, Stenson appeared likely to need a pick from captain Thomas Bjorn, who will round out his 12-man roster with four selections on Sept. 5. Other notable players who are not currently in position to qualify include Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Russell Knox, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Thomas Pieters.

Stenson becomes the fifth player to withdraw from this week's field, which does not feature alternates and is now down to 120 players. Rory McIlroy opted to rest up this week, while Patrick Rodgers is skipping the tournament to attend a wedding. Both Rickie Fowler (oblique) and Bud Cauley (June car accident) withdrew because of injury.

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PAC zeroing in on Tour's secondary cut

By Rex HoggardAugust 20, 2018, 4:29 pm

The season’s final player advisory council meeting will be held on Tuesday at Ridgewood Country Club, and one item of interest on the agenda appears to be gaining traction among the 16-member panel.

The secondary cut - introduced in 2008 to address large fields after the 36-hole cut and pace of play - has become increasingly unpopular. In 2014, the PGA Tour eliminated the secondary cut, which occurs if 78 players make the 36-hole cut, at the first two playoff stops. Following a 54-hole cut at this year’s Players Championship, some suggested it should not be used at the circuit’s marquee event.

The alternative that’s being studied is to reduce the cut at all Tour events from the lowest 70 players and ties to the lowest 65 players and ties. This would allow the circuit to eliminate the secondary cut at all events.

“I think I’m a fan of it, because I’m a fan of trying to play twosomes on the weekends as much as possible,” said PAC member Paul Casey. “In Europe it seems to work all the time. I don’t like the extra cut on a Saturday, never liked that. A guy could have an amazing Sunday, he could go out and shoot 61 or something and get a top 10.”

The European Tour utilizes a 65-and-ties cut, as does the Web.com Tour, which had 78 players or more make the cut in just three of 23 events this season.

The PAC requested more information and is expected to address the proposal at Tuesday’s meeting.