A Little Bit of Everything

By Mercer BaggsFebruary 2, 2009, 5:00 pm

SHOW ME WHAT YOU GOT: The PGA Merchandise Show made its annual appearance at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. The 56th edition featured some 10 miles of Show aisles and approximately 1,100 interactive exhibits.
Backspin Multiple choice question ' the PGA Show is: A) a place where people try to convince you that you need to spend $500 on a new driver instead of on your children. B) a place where you can find someone pushing head covers of a skunk's anus. C) a place where beautiful women in skimpy outfits pretend to know golf but couldn't tell you what separates Canada from Mexico. D) All of the above (and then some).

DON'T OVERSTAY YOUR WELCOME: Phil Mickelson made his 2009 debut at the FBR Open, an event hes twice won. Not only did he fail to add a third title to his resume, he missed the cut, shooting 76-73.
Backspin When Tiger Woods was sidelined it was assumed ' naturally ' that Mickelson would benefit the most. Instead, hes slipped to fourth in the world ranking and hasnt won since before the 08 U.S. Open. Maybe the real Lefty will return when Tiger does.

LUCKY 13: Kenny Perry, playing in his 22nd straight FBR Open, made a 22-foot birdie putt on the third hole of sudden death to claim his 13th Tour victory. The 48-year-old, who bogeyed 18 to force the playoff, defeated 32-year-old Charley Hoffman.
Backspin Perry usually doesnt heat up until summer time, but this victory couldnt have come at a better time. His father has had two stents put in his heart. His mother has blood cancer and is in an assisted-living facility. And his wifes mother fell at a fast-food restaurant, breaking her knee cap and two vertebrae. Winning doesnt cure everything, but hopefully it helps a little in the healing.

YOUTH PREVAILS: Rory McIlroy notched his first European Tour victory, taking down one of the best fields of the year at the Dubai Desert Classic. The 19-year-old from Northern Ireland survived not only stiff competition, but myriad weather delays and suspensions of play to win by one over Justin Rose.
Backspin Europe needs young stars and it seems to have one in McIlroy. The best thing for the tour is that if the Race to Dubai is successful it actually has a good chance at keeping their talent on the home tour, instead of having them defect to the U.S.

HE DEFINITELY HAS BETTER HAIR: Mark O'Meara, playing this past week in Dubai, said, prior to his victory, that McIlroy is ahead of where Tiger Woods was at the same age.
Backspin O'Meara said this about Anthony Kim as well. And recently he said this about me: 'Tiger is probably a little more athletic, but Mercer is probably a little more adept at using a remote control than Tiger is at their current age (both 33). Rarely does Baggs get caught for more than a split second on a channel like Lifetime.'

MR. SUNSHINE ... FOR NOW: Colin Montgomerie was named the 2010 European Ryder Cup captain at Celtic Manor in Wales. Montgomerie, who will be 47 when the competition begins, will be Europe's youngest ever captain.
Backspin He will also be the most entertaining and engaging captain ever ' on either side ' until Oct. 3, 2010, when the U.S. comes from behind to repeat as champions. He'll then be asked his thoughts on the outcome and he'll respond as only Monty can, 'No, it feels great to lose. Wonderful, actually. Why did you ask me that question? Why are you even allowed to breathe?'

GINN AND BEAR IT: Ginn Resorts announced that they were immediately dropping sponsorship of all golf tournaments, which includes the LPGAs Ginn Open and the Champions Tour Ginn Championship.
Backspin That's crushing news for the LPGA. The Ginn was one of the tour's most popular and most lucrative events. Maybe they can join in on the lawsuit the PGA Tour has already filed against Bobby Ginn and company for breach of contract. Word of advice, courtesy X-Files, for all professional organizations: Trust no one.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: FBR Open officials announced a weekly attendance total of 470,294. The Buick Invitational field list was released last Friday ' without Tiger Woods on it. Mercedes-Benz signed a two-year deal to become the official car sponsor of the Northern Trust Open. ... The Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl.
Backspin In the words of Judge Smails, Pfff I dont believe it. Theres still talk about Tiger returning at the Match Play. Crazy talk. Good thing. That event would have a tough time attracting a good field otherwise, what with only Riviera, Los Angeles and a $6.3 million purse to offer. ... Santonio Holmes' feet never left the ground on the winning catch. Just like Phil Mickelson's after winning the 2004 Masters.

Related Links:
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    Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'

    By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 3:35 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.

    Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.

    “I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.

    “It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”

    The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.

    “All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”

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    Koepka still has chip on his chiseled shoulder

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 3:06 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brooks Koepka prepared more for this Open than last year's.

    He picked up his clubs three times.

    That’s three more than last summer, when the only shots he hit between the summer Opens was during a commercial shoot for Michelob Ultra at TPC Sawgrass. He still tied for sixth at The Open a month later.

    This time, Koepka kept his commitment to play the Travelers, then hit balls three times between the final round in Hartford and this past Sunday, when he first arrived here at Carnoustie.

    Not that he was concerned, of course.

    Koepka’s been playing golf for nearly 20 years. He wasn’t about to forget to how to swing a club after a few weeks off.

    “It was pretty much the same thing,” he said Tuesday, during his pre-tournament news conference. “I shared it with one of my best friends, my family, and it was pretty much the same routine. It was fun. We enjoyed it. But I’m excited to get back inside the ropes and start playing again. I think you need to enjoy it any time you win and really embrace it and think about what you’ve done.”

    At Shinnecock Hills, Koepka became the first player in nearly 30 years to repeat as U.S. Open champion – a major title that helped him shed his undeserved reputation as just another 20-something talent who relies solely on his awesome power. In fact, he takes immense pride in his improved short game and putting inside 8 feet.

    “I can take advantage of long golf courses,” he said, “but I enjoy plotting my way around probably - more than the bombers’ golf courses - where you’ve got to think, be cautious sometimes, and fire at the center of the greens. You’ve got to be very disciplined, and that’s the kind of golf I enjoy.”

    Which is why Koepka once again fancies his chances here on the type of links that helped launch his career.

    Koepka was out of options domestically after he failed to reach the final stage of Q-School in 2012. So he packed his bags and headed overseas, going on a tear on the European Challenge Tour (Europe’s equivalent of the Web.com circuit) and earning four titles, including one here in Scotland. That experience was the most fun and beneficial part of his career, when he learned to win, be self-sufficient and play in different conditions.

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “There’s certain steps, and I embraced it,” Koepka said. “I think that’s where a lot of guys go wrong. You are where you are, and you have to make the best of it instead of just putting your head down and being like, 'Well, I should be on the PGA Tour.' Well, guess what? You’re not. So you’ve got to suck it up wherever you are, make the best of it, and keep plugging away and trying to win everything you can because, eventually, if you’re good enough, you will get out here.”

    Koepka has proved that he’s plenty good enough, of course: He’s a combined 20 under in the majors since the beginning of 2017, the best of any player during that span. But he still searches long and hard for a chip to put on his chiseled shoulder.

    In his presser after winning at Shinnecock, Koepka said that he sometimes feels disrespected and forgotten, at least compared to his more-ballyhooed peers. It didn’t necessarily bother him – he prefers to stay out of the spotlight anyway, eschewing a media tour after each of his Open titles – but it clearly tweaked him enough for him to admit it publicly.

    That feeling didn’t subside after he went back to back at the Open, either. On U.S. Open Sunday, ESPN’s Instagram page didn’t showcase a victorious Koepka, but rather a video of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. dunking a basketball.

    “He’s like 6-foot-2. He’s got hops – we all know that – and he’s got hands. So what’s impressive about that?” Koepka said. “But I always try to find something where I feel like I’m the underdog and put that little chip on my shoulder. Even if you’re No. 1, you’ve got to find a way to keep going and keep that little chip on.

    “I think I’ve done a good job of that. I need to continue doing that, because once you’re satisfied, you’re only going to go downhill. You try to find something to get better and better, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

    Now 28, Koepka has a goal of how many majors he’d like to win before his career is over, but he wasn’t about to share it.

    Still, he was adamant about one thing: “Right now I’m focused on winning. That’s the only thing I’ve got in my mind. Second place just isn’t good enough. I finished second a lot, and I’m just tired of it. Once you win, it kind of propels you. You have this mindset where you just want to keep winning. It breeds confidence, but you want to have that feeling of gratification: I finally did this. How cool is this?”

    So cool that Koepka can’t wait to win another one.

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    Despite results, Thomas loves links golf

    By Jay CoffinJuly 17, 2018, 2:48 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Despite poor results in two previous Open Championships, Justin Thomas contends that he has what it takes to be a good links player. In fact, he believes that he is a good links player.

    Two years ago at Royal Troon, Thomas shot 77 in the second round to tie for 53rd place. He was on the wrong side of the draw that week that essentially eliminated anyone from contention who played late Friday afternoon.

    Last year at Royal Birkdale, Thomas made a quintuple-bogey 9 on the par-4 sixth hole in the second round and missed the cut by two shots.

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “I feel like I’ve played more than two Opens, but I haven’t had any success here,” Thomas said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I feel like I am a good links player, although I don’t really have the results to show.”

    Although he didn’t mention it as a reason for success this week, Thomas is a much different player now than he was two years ago, having ascended to the No. 1 position in the world for a few weeks and now resting comfortably in the second spot.

    He also believes a high golf IQ, and the ability to shape different shots into and with the wind are something that will help him in The Open over the next 20 years.

    “I truly enjoy the creativity,” Thomas said. “It presents a lot of different strategies, how you want to play it, if you want to be aggressive, if you want to be conservative, if you want to attack some holes, wait on certain winds, whatever it might be. It definitely causes you to think.

    “With it being as firm as it is, it definitely adds a whole other variable to it.”

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    Reed's major record now a highlight, not hindrance

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 2:46 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The narrative surrounding Patrick Reed used to be that he could play well in the Ryder Cup but not the majors.

    So much for that.

    Reed didn’t record a top-10 in his first 15 starts in a major, but he took the next step in his career by tying for second at the 2017 PGA Championship. He followed that up with a breakthrough victory at the Masters, then finished fourth at the U.S. Open after a closing 68.

    He’s the only player with three consecutive top-4s in the majors.

    What’s the difference now?

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “The biggest thing is I treat them like they’re normal events,” he said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I’ve always gone into majors and put too much pressure on myself, having to go play well, having to do this or that. Now I go in there and try to play golf and keep in the mindset of, Hey, it’s just another day on the golf course. Let’s just go play.

    “I’ve been able to stay in that mindset the past three, and I’ve played pretty well in all three of them.”

    Reed’s record in the year’s third major has been hit or miss – a pair of top-20s and two missed cuts – but he says he’s a better links player now than when he began his career. It took the native Texan a while to embrace the creativity required here and also to comprehend the absurd distances he can hit the ball with the proper wind, conditions and bounce.

    “I’m sort of accepting it,” he said. “I’ve gotten a little more comfortable with doing it. It’s come a little bit easier, especially down the stretch in tournament play.”