World Golf Championships Nice Without the World
Stricker went for the big money after his big year in 1996. That's not unusual. Lots of players have done it. He was offered a small fortune to change clubs. So he dumped the old standbys that had shot him to No. 4 on the money list and agreed to play the new ones. It doesn't matter what the clubs were - golfers have switched from them and taken a huge bath, just like others have switched to them and emptied out their wallets.
Fred Couples, Mark Brooks, Mark Calcavecchia, Lee Janzen, the late Payne Stewart come immediately to mind as millionaires who wanted to become multi-millionaires. They change clubs and then something doesn't work quite the same way. The difference in hitting a ball 15 feet from the pin or 25 feet is enormous. And it takes two or three years to learn that little trick. Meanwhile, you become just yesterday's news when it comes to all those top-10s. Sometimes you lose touch with the flag trying to hit the new sticks, and awaken to find your old skill is gone forever.
Stricker changed not just once, but twice. In the space of three or four short years, he was hitting the ball so wildly he could have done better using a tennis racket. But that didn't apply in Australia. This year, he put together a mixed bag of his favorites and dropped the club contract. He put together Callaways, Cobras, Pings and Titleists along with a putter by Odyssey, and together they made magic.
The venue was one of the World Golf Championships, the one that the big names seemed to ignore. Even Ernie Els, at No. 2 the highest-ranking player attending, wasn't concerned enough to come in for a practice round or two. Ernie enjoyed Christmas and New Year's until the last possible moment, then jumped on a plane and scurried over to Australia to work in a few practice holes the day the tournament started. That was plenty good enough to beat most of the guys. He got by with smoke and mirrors until the semi-finals, when he lost to Pierre Fulke. Then he had to play the consolation match and he didn't like it.
I don't blame a guy who has enough dough already to want to get on to the next stop. That was Els. Please don't make us sit through the antics of someone who doesn't really care who finishes third and who is fourth. It seems as if the only one interested is television, who would be forced to show a ton of replays, old tournaments and commercials if there were only one match. Showing Frick and Frack up head of the real match helps pass the time for the Big Eye.
That would be fine if you were showing Stricker and Fulke in the consolation match. They would be ecstatic playing for third place. But Els - if he is not going to win, what's the sense in going through the motions? Do YOU care if Ernie finishes third, or if he finishes fourth? I didn't think so. Neither does Els.
These World Golf Championships are a success only when they are played in the United States. Here's a little secret - the big dogs wouldn't have been in Australia no matter what time of year it was. The fact that it was New Year's merely fit nicely into their list of excuses.
Oh, I know the guys who were there put on a good show. The matches were tight, etc. etc. The matches for your club championship are probably tight, too. But there was a definite absence of big names. And it's big names that bring the big interest.
The WCG events played in the U.S. are a success because they draw all the top players. Well, cross Jumbo Ozaki out of that equation. He won't leave Japan, regardless. But everyone else in the world will come. They've shown it over and over in the past.
Of course, an American will probably win. Occasionally a Darren Clarke will jump up and score one for the Auld Sod. But by and large, the top Americans aren't going to budge if they have to cross the borders.
There's a very good reason - they have all the money they could ever want. Mister Finchem has only himself to thank on that one. Last year 15 on the U.S. tour made at least $2 million, and that is prize money alone. You can probably say that 15 made at least $5 million, and it is awfully hard to spend more than $5 mil per annum.
World Championships are nice. But they are not really world championships, because they are either played where the world's top players will not attend, or they will be played where the top players have left their games at home. The World Golf Championship is merely the American championship. Or it is really not a world championship.
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.