Punch Shot: What's your one wish for 2013?

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 1, 2013, 3:30 pm

Forget New Year's resolutions. How about one wish for 2013? In this Punch Shot, GolfChannel.com writers weigh in with what they want most - golf related - in the new year.


Rory McIlroy vs. Tiger Woods in a final-round, head-to-head duel in a major.

That's my one wish for tournament golf in 2013.

Should a full-fledged rivalry emerge between these two talents this year, the game's electrified in a fresh way. I asked Jack Nicklaus at the Father-Son Challenge a couple weeks ago if he thought this kind of rivalry would be good or bad for Tiger, if it would give Tiger a boost, or if it would make Tiger's path harder. Nicklaus was emphatic that it would be good for Tiger, that it would give him helpful motivation beyond breaking Nicklaus' record for major championship triumphs.

We've learned that what's good for Tiger is usually good for the overall health of the game. A meaningful rivalry will be good for the game.


Like most diets and resolutions of all sorts this New Year’s wish will likely lose some steam before the big payoff, but for sheer parity we’d like to see an International victory at October’s Presidents Cup.

If not a triumph then at least a shootout at Muirfield Village, a close bout to help wrest the event out of the lopsided doldrums it has drifted into since the last outright victory for the Rest of the World squad.

The International side is now 15 years removed from its last victory and has lost five of the last six biennial matches by an average of 5 ½ points. You may enjoy the event, the camaraderie and Fred Couples, but without a little parity the Presidents Cup is in danger of lapsing into irrelevancy.

Every two years the Presidents Cup begins with plenty of promise. In 2011 it was International captain Greg Norman leading a group on home soil at Royal Melbourne that was, at least according to the world golf ranking arithmetic, the favored side.

The International squad fell behind on Day 1, dropping four of the first six foursomes matches, and never recovered. The slow start drained the energy from the home crowd, if not the 12 internationals.

Our 2013 wish would be for a close match, regardless of outcome, or maybe just a fast start for the International team. 


My one golf wish for 2013 is the ability to bomb 330-yard drives, hit towering iron shots that land softly on the green and roll in putts from everywhere – even one-handed and behind my back, Ty Webb style.

OK, so maybe that’s three wishes. But I need 'em all.

As far as the professional ranks are concerned, give me the same thing I always wish for: rivalries.

Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson – two green jacket-clad lefties – going head-to-head at Augusta. Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods facing off at Merion. Adam Scott trying to avenge last year’s loss to Ernie Els at Muirfield. A bevy of potential first-time major winners – let’s say Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose – at Oak Hill.

Is that too much to ask?

Hey, I won’t be too greedy. I’ll settle for just a few of those. Or feel free to mix and match. Phil against Ernie? Sign me up. Rory and Lee? Love it. Tiger and Bubba? Awesome.

Don’t get me wrong. I love a Cinderella story outta nowhere as much as anybody, but in a superstar-driven game, the big names bring more eyeballs to events and get more of us talking around the proverbial watercooler. With more parity at the elite level in recent years, traditional rivals are becoming more obsolete than ever. Let’s hope we see a few more blossom in 2013.


My wish: for the PGA Tour to enact its own rule and ban the anchored stroke in October, at the start of the 2013-14 season.

There is no place in our game for what happened at the World Challenge, where Keegan Bradley was jeered by a numbskull fan for anchoring a putter in his belly. Legally. 

Sadly, we could see more of the same if the proposed rule is not enforced until 2016, when the next edition of the Rules of Golf is published.

The governing bodies may say differently, but this new rule puts players such as Bradley and Webb Simpson in professional limbo, their accomplishments viewed with an asterisk because they used a technique that will soon be illegal.

The PGA Tour should bypass the potential headache and create its own rule: No anchoring, beginning in October 2013.

Getty Images

Kim's missing clubs show up at sporting goods store

By Will GrayMarch 22, 2018, 1:58 pm

More than a month after they were lost on an American Airlines flight, the clubs I.K. Kim used to win last year's Ricoh Women's British Open turned up on the sale rack of a California sporting goods store.

Kim's clubs became lost in late January when she flew from Miami to San Diego, with the airline suggesting she simply rent a new set. A few weeks later, Kim shot a "What's in the bag" television segment which according to a Golfweek report caught the eye of three good samaritans in the San Diego area.

The three men recognized Kim's clubs for sale at a local Play It Again Sports, with the major winner's tools listed at $60 each. The store even had Kim's tour bag, complete with her LPGA player badge. Kim filmed the reunion with her bag - containing wedges and a few hybrids, minus the head covers - at the Carlsbad police station:

Kim was back in southern California this week for the Kia Classic, where she'll begin play Thursday morning at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad.

Getty Images

New dad Garcia removes shoes, wins match

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 12:48 am

AUSTIN, Texas – In one of the day’s most explosive matches, Sergio Garcia rolled in an 8-footer for birdie at the 18th hole to defeat Shubhankar Sharma, 1 up, at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

The duo halved just nine holes on Day 1 at Austin Country Club, with Garcia going from 2 up through four holes to 1 down with five holes to play.

But the Spaniard rallied with five birdies over his final eight holes and pushed his record to 20-17-1 in the Match Play. He also gave himself his best chance to advance out of pool play since the format began in 2015.

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

The victory continued what has already been a memorable week for Garcia, whose wife, Angela, gave birth to the couple’s first child last Wednesday.

“I already feel like I’m a winner after what happened on Wednesday,” Garcia said. “Obviously, it's something that we're so, so happy and proud of and enjoying it as much as possible.”

The highlight of Garcia’s round on Wednesday came at the 12th hole when he took a drop on a cart path. After considering his options, he removed his shoes and hit his approach from 212 yards to 29 feet for a two-putt birdie to halve the hole.

“I have spikes. So if I don't take my shoes off, I'm going to slip. It's not the kind of shot that you want to slip,” Garcia said. “I had tried it a couple of times on practice swings and I was already slipping a little bit. So I thought I would just take my shoes off, try to get a little bit in front of the hole and it came out great.”

Getty Images

On a wild Wednesday, DJ, Rory, Phil saved by the pool

By Rex HoggardMarch 22, 2018, 12:39 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Call it black Wednesday, but then the one-and-done aspect of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play was dulled three years ago with the introduction of round-robin play that assures every player at least three matches in pool play.

Otherwise Wednesday at Austin Country Club would go down as one of the championship’s darkest hours for the top of the dance card. In order, world No. 1 and defending champion Dustin Johnson dropped his Day 1 match, 3 and 1, to world No. 56 Bernd Wiesberger; last week’s winner Rory McIlroy lost to PGA Tour rookie Peter Uihlein, 2 and 1, and Phil Mickelson, the winner of the last WGC in Mexico, dropped a 3-and-2 decision to Charles Howell III.

All told, 11 lower-seeded players pulled off “upsets” on Wednesday, although it’s widely held that the Match Play is more prone to these types of underdog performances than the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

But if it wasn’t March Madness, it was at the least March Mayhem, particularly for those who shuffled around Austin Country Club in a state of mild confusion.

Although there were plenty of matches that went according to plan – with top-seeded players Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama and Sergio Garcia all winning – it was still a tough day for chalk with three of the top 10 players in the world ranking either losing or halving (world No. 3 Jon Rahm halved his duel with Keegan Bradley) their matches.

At least McIlroy made things interesting after finding himself 5 down through 13 holes. The Northern Irishman played his last six holes in 5 under par to push the match to the 17th hole, but Uihlein closed out the bout with a par.

“If he birdies seven straight on you, hats off to him. It is what it is,” Uihlein said of McIlroy’s late surge. “I felt like if I just kind of kept giving myself a chance, I didn't want to give him any holes. He made me earn it, so hats off to it.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Articles, photos and videos

Johnson couldn’t say the same thing.

After not trailing in any match on his way to victory at last year’s Match Play, Johnson hit a ball in the water, two out of bounds (on the same hole, no less) and began to fade when he made a double bogey-5 at the 11th hole. Although scoring is always skewed at the Match Play because of conceded putts, Johnson was listed at 9 over through 17 holes before his day came to a merciful end.

“We both didn't have a great day. I think we only made three birdies between us, which is not a lot out here,” Wiesberger said. “Obviously it wasn't his best day. It wasn't the best of my days. I think we both have to do a little bit of work this afternoon.”

Although not as scrappy as Johnson’s round, Mickelson has also seen better days. Lefty made just a single birdie and played 17 holes in even par to lose just his second match in pool play.

But then this event hasn’t exactly been kind to Lefty, who has advanced to the weekend just twice in 13 starts.

“I was fortunate today, obviously, to get past him,” said Howell, who is the second-lowest seeded player to advance out of pool play when he did it in 2017 as the 61st player in the field. “But with this pod play the way it goes now, you never know. You've got to keep playing good. Last WGC we had, he won. So he's never out of it.”

That will be the solace those high-profile players who find themselves on the wrong side of the round-robin ledger now cling to. There is a path back.

Since pool play began, just four players have lost their Day 1 matches and went on to win their group. One of those players is Johnson, who lost to Robert Streb on Wednesday in 2016 but still advanced to the quarterfinals.

But if that helps ease the sting for those who now embrace the Match Play mulligan, it did little to quiet the crowds on what turned out to be a wild Wednesday.