NOTES Olympic Push Tiger Trends Whos No 3

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 27, 2008, 4:00 pm
DUBLIN, Ohio -- PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem cant think of a better scenario when the International Olympic Committee meets a year from October. Golf is added to the summer program. Chicago is announced as host city for 2016. And Tiger Woods is going strong and eager to add a gold medal to his trophy collection.
 
Thats still a long way off, but Finchem said Tuesday that golf made a strong first impression in an informal meeting last week with IOC president Jacques Rogge.
 
Finchem was joined by European Tour chief George OGrady, LPGA Tour commissioner Carolyn Bivens, USGA executive director David Fay and Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson. They were told the steps leading to the IOC decision next October and what golf executives have to do to make their case.
 
It was important that the IOC saw the game was united, which I think they were impressed with, Finchem said. That got accomplished. Its a long way, and we have other sports competing for the same spots. We like to think were what they want because were a sport thats universal.
 
Woods gives a boost to any tournament, although any involvement in the Olympics would be short-lived. Woods will be 40 in 2016, the earliest golf could be part of the Olympics.
 
Chicago is the U.S. city under consideration for 2016, and Finchem was quick to note that Woods has a strong history in Chicago, where he has won two PGA Championships and four PGA TOUR events.
 
His knee aside, hes such a good athlete, youve got to believe hes going to be competitive, Finchem said. And theres a lot of interest in whether he plays. But the bigger question is the long-term role of golf in the Olympics.
 
He also mentioned a long list of courses Chicago can offer.
 
The biggest obstacle will be scheduling Olympic golf among the last two majors and the tours FedExCup finale. Finchem suggested one possibility of the men and women competing over separate weeks. The four playoff events for the FedExCup already are being rearranged this year for the Ryder Cup, and Finchem says they will work even into the early part of football season.
 
Were not really doing it for golf in the U.S. anyway, he said. Its for growing the game around the world and something we can all do together. The value for the players is that the more people that play around the world, the more people will be watching. Theyll be paid back eventually.
 
TIGER TRENDS
Golf research guru Tom Ierubino, former managing editor at Golf Magazine, came up with some historical nuggets that dont bode well for Tiger Woods at the U.S. Open.
 
The previous nine U.S. Opens in California (Riviera, Olympic Club, Pebble Beach) were won by nine players.
 
And while no one has won multiple majors in the Golden State, some of the games greatest players have come hauntingly close upon their return.
 
Ben Hogan won in 1948 at Riviera, and the next U.S. Open in California was at The Olympic Club in 1955, where Hogan famously lost a playoff to Jack Fleck.
 
Jack Nicklaus won at Pebble Beach in 1972. The next time a U.S. Open was held in California, he finished second to Tom Watson at Pebble a decade later. After that two-shot victory in 1982, Watson next played a U.S. Open in California at Olympic Club, where he finished second to Scott Simpson.
 
Woods won the most recent U.S. Open in California at Pebble Beach in 2000. Next up is Torrey Pines.
 
For those curious about those other U.S. Open winners'Fleck, Billy Casper, Simpson, Tom Kite and Lee Janzen'none finished in the top 10 upon their Open return to California.
 
MIXED SIGNALS
Jack Nicklaus has been barking about technology for at least a decade, with seemingly no help from the USGA. But he took part in an announcement earlier this month when golfs governing body in the United States and Mexico announced it had signed its fourth corporate partner in the last 18 months.
 
He was asked about any perception that the USGA is more interested in getting corporate support than governing the game.
 
I wish I had a good answer to that, Nicklaus replied. I havent had a good answer from the USGA on it. I think their heart is in the right place. I dont think theyre trying to avoid being a good steward to the game. Theyre probably between a rock and a hard place.
 
Their efforts in the grassroots of the game, being involved in youth, certainly has been good, he said. They do so many good things. Its just the one thing they arent having success at is controlling the length of the golf ball.
 
WHOS NO. 3?
Tiger Woods has rendered moot the argument over whos No. 1, building a lead that is nearly double the points of Phil Mickelson at No. 2. But Mickelson is carving out a pretty strong niche at No. 2.
 
With his victory at Colonial, the points gap between Mickelson and Ernie Els at No. 3 is roughly equal to the gap between Els and Ben Curtis at No. 80.
 
DIVOTS
Steve Stricker has missed the cut six times this year, after missing the cut only six times the last two years combined. Stricker withdrew from the Memorial on Tuesday. Amanda Blumenherst of Duke was won the Dinah Shore Trophy as the female college golfer who has excelled on the course and the classroom. Blumenherst has won 11 times and maintained a 3.8 grade point average while majoring in history. Phil Mickelson joined Ben Hogan (1947) and Sam Snead (1950) as the only players to win at Colonial and Riviera in the same season. The AT&T Classic outside Atlanta, and opposite-field events in Mexico and Puerto Rico, are only PGA Tour events this year where the winner did not automatically qualify for the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone because of field-of-strength requirements.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
In the seven times that a stroke-play major was held on the same course of an official PGA TOUR event, only once was the lower score posted in a major'Steve Elkington (267) at Riviera in the 1995 PGA Championship. Corey Pavin won the Los Angeles Open earlier that year at 268.
 
FINAL WORD
Missing the cut on your home course has to be about as bad as it gets.'Ernie Els, who missed the cut at the BMW Championship for the first time since 1992. Els has a home at Wentworth and redesigned the West course.
 

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    Snedeker joins 59 club at Wyndham

    By Will GrayAugust 16, 2018, 4:19 pm

    Brandt Snedeker opened the Wyndham Championship with an 11-under 59, becoming just the ninth player in PGA Tour history to card a sub-60 score in a tournament round.

    Snedeker offered an excited fist pump after rolling in a 20-footer for birdie on the ninth hole at Sedgefield Country Club, his 18th hole of the day. It was Snedeker's 10th birdie on the round to go along with a hole-out eagle from 176 yards on No. 6 and gave him the first 59 on Tour since Adam Hadwin at last year's CareerBuilder Challenge.

    Snedeker's round eclipsed the tournament and course record of 60 at Sedgefield, most recently shot by Si Woo Kim en route to victory two years ago. Amazingly, the round could have been even better: he opened with a bogey on No. 10 and missed a 6-footer for birdie on his 17th hole of the day.


    Full-field scores from Wyndham Championship

    Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    Snedeker was still 1 over on the round before reeling off four straight birdies on Nos. 13-16, but he truly caught fire on the front nine where he shot an 8-under 27 that included five birdie putts from inside 6 feet.

    Jim Furyk, who also shot 59, holds the 18-hole scoring record on Tour with a 58 in the final round of the 2016 Travelers Championship.

    Snedeker told reporters this week that he was suffering from "kind of paralysis by analysis" at last week's PGA Championship, but he began to simplify things over the weekend when he shot 69-69 at Bellerive to tie for 42nd. Those changes paid off even moreso Thursday in Greensboro, where Snedeker earned his first career Tour win back in 2007 at nearby Forest Oaks.

    "Felt like I kind of found something there for a few days and was able to put the ball where I wanted to and make some putts," Snedeker said. "And all of a sudden everything starts feeling a little bit better. So excited about that this week because the greens are so good."

    Snedeker was hampered by injury at the end of 2017 and got off to a slow start this season. But his form has started to pick up over the summer, as he has recorded three top-10 finishes over his last seven starts highlighted by a T-3 finish last month at The Greenbrier. He entered the week 80th in the season-long points race and is in search of his first win since the 2016 Farmers Insurance Open.

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    Woods' caddie paid heckler $25 to go away

    By Will GrayAugust 16, 2018, 4:05 pm

    Tiger Woods is known for his ability to tune out hecklers while in the midst of a competitive round, but every now and then a fan is able to get under his skin - or, at least, his caddie's.

    Joe LaCava has been on the bag for Woods since 2011, and on a recent appearance on ESPN's "Golic and Wingo" he shared a story of personally dispatching of an especially persistent heckler after dipping into his wallet earlier this month at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

    According to LaCava, the fan was vocal throughout Woods' final round at Firestone Country Club, where he eventually tied for 31st. On the 14th hole, LaCava asked him to go watch another group, and the man agreed - under the condition that LaCava pony up with some cash.

    "So he calls me a couple of names, and I go back and forth with the guy. And I said, 'Why don't you just leave?'" LaCava said. "And he goes, 'Well, if you give me $25 for the ticket that I bought today, I'll leave.' And I said, 'Here you go, here's $25.'"

    But the apparent resolution was brief, as the heckler pocketed the cash but remained near the rope line. At that point, the exchange between LaCava and the fan became a bit more heated.

    "I said, 'Look, pal, $25 is $25. You've got to head the other way,'" LaCava said. "So he starts to head the other way, goes 20 yards down the line, and he calls me a certain other swear word. So I run 20 yards back the other way. We’re going face-to-face with this guy and all of a sudden Tiger is looking for a yardage and I’m in it with this guy 20 yards down the line.”

    Eventually an on-course police officer intervened, and the cash-grabbing fan was ultimately ejected. According to LaCava, Woods remained unaffected by the situation that played out a few yards away from him.

    "He didn't have a problem," LaCava said. "And actually, I got a standing ovation for kicking the guy out of there."

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    Highlights: Snedeker's closing blitz to 59

    By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

    Brandt Snedeker's first round at the Wyndham Championship began with a bogey and ended with a birdie for an 11-under 59.

    Snedeker made four consecutive birdies on his opening nine holes and then raced home in 27 strokes to become the ninth different player in PGA Tour history to break the 60 barrier.

    A very good round turned historic beginning when he holed a 7-iron from 176 yards, on the fly, for an eagle-2 at the par-4 sixth. Playing his 15th hole of the day, Snedeker vaulted to 9 under par for the tournament.



    With Sedgefield being a par 70, Snedeker needed two birdies over his final three holes to shoot 59 and he got one of them at the par-3 seventh, where he hit his tee shot on the 224-yard hole to 2 feet.



    Snedeker actually had 58 in his crosshairs, but missed an 6-foot slider for birdie at the par-4 eighth.



    Still, 59 was on the table and he needed this 20-foot putt to shoot it.


    At 11 under par, Snedeker led the tournament by five strokes.

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    Rosaforte Report: A tale of two comebacks

    By Tim RosaforteAugust 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

    Comeback (noun): A return by a well-known person, especially an entertainer or sports player, to the activity in which they have formerly been successful.

    Even by definition, the word comeback is subjective.

    There is no question that Brooks Koepka has completed his comeback. With two major championship victories that encompassed wins over Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods, Player of the Year honors have all but been locked up for the 2017-18 season.

    But knowing Koepka, he wants more. A No. 1 ranking, topping his boy D.J., is a possibility and a goal. A Ryder Cup is awaiting. By all rights, Koepka could be Comeback Player of the Year and Player of the Year all in one, except the PGA Tour discontinued its Comeback honor in 2012. Even without an official award, the conversation comes down to the two athletes that hugged it out after finishing 1-2 at Bellerive.

    What Woods has recovered from is remarkable, but not complete. He hasn’t won yet. With triumphs in the U.S. Open and PGA Championship, Koepka has completed his comeback from a pair of wrist injuries that could have been equally as career-ending as the physical issues that Woods had to overcome just to contend in the last two majors.

    “There was a question on whether or not I’d ever be the same,” Koepka said Sunday night in the media center at Bellerive, following his third major championship victory in six tries. “Whether I could do it pain-free, we had no idea.”



    The wrist traumas occured five months apart, with the initial issue, which occured at the Hero World Challenge in December (in which he finished last in the limited field), putting him in a soft cast with a partially torn tendon. That cost the reigning U.S. Open champion 15 weeks on the shelf (and couch), including a start in the Masters.

    His treatment included injecting bone marrow and platelet-rich plasma. When he returned at the Zurich Classic in April, Koepka revealed the ligaments that hold the tendon in place were gone – thus a dislocation – and that every time he went to his doctor, “it seemed like it got worse and worse.”

    Koepka’s second wrist injury of the season occurred on the practice grounds at The Players, when a cart pulled in front of Koepka just as he was accelerating into the ball with his 120-plus mph club-head speed. Abruptly stopping his swing, Koepka’s left wrist popped out. His physio, Marc Wahl, relayed a story to PGA Tour radio in which he advised Koepka before he reset the wrist: “Sit on your hand and bite this towel, otherwise you’re going to punch me.”

    Koepka admitted that he never dreamed such a scenario would threaten his career. He called it, “probably the most painful thing I’ve ever gone through, setting that bone back.” But, testament to Koepka's fortitude, four days later he made an albatross and tied a TPC Sawgrass course record, shooting 63.

    Woods’ physical – and mental – recovery from back surgery and prescription drug abuse was painful and career threatening in its own way. As he said in his return to Augusta, “Those are some really, really dark times. I’m a walking miracle.”

    As miraculous as it has been, Woods, by definition, still hasn’t fully completed his comeback. While he’s threatened four times in 2018, he hasn’t won a tournament.

    Yes, it’s a miracle that he’s gotten this far, swinging the club that fast, without any relapse in his back. As electric and high-energy as his second-place finish to Koepka was at the PGA, Woods has made this winning moment something to anticipate. As story lines go, it may be better this way.

    Coming off a flat weekend at the WGC-Bridgestone, Woods was starting to sound like an old 42-year-old. But instead of ice baths and recovery time, the conversation was charged by what he did on Saturday and Sunday in the 100th PGA.

    A day later, there was more good news. With Woods committing to three straight weeks of FedExCup Playoff golf, potentially followed by a week off and then the Tour Championship, that moment of victory may not be far away.

    Scheduling – and certainly anticipating – four tournaments in five weeks, potentially followed by a playing role at the Ryder Cup, would indicate that Woods has returned to the activity in which he was formally successful.

    There were times post-scandal and post-back issues, that Woods stuck by the lines made famous by LL Cool J:

    Don’t call it a comeback
    I’ve been here for years
    I’m rocking my peers

    Not this time. As he said Sunday before his walk-off 64 in St, Louis, “Oh, God. I didn’t even know if I was going to play again.”