Below the surface

By Jason SobelNovember 3, 2011, 5:01 pm

Yani Tseng knows Annika Sorenstam. The world’s current No. 1 player lives in the former house of the first-ever No. 1 player. She considers her a mentor. They speak glowingly of each other.

Call it a League of Extraordinary Gentlewomen type of connection.

There’s little doubt that in the wake of being offered a sponsor’s exemption into next season’s Puerto Rico Open on the PGA Tour, Tseng will consult with Sorenstam, who famously competed against the men at Colonial back in 2003. Though she didn’t make the cut, Sorenstam acquitted herself well, posting scores of 71-74, while impacting both the game and her career in ways unseen on the scorecard.

“It wasn’t about the score. It was about the journey to get there and the preparation,” Sorenstam told Golf Channel's “Morning Drive” on Thursday. “I had some great years after the Colonial. I think it prepared me for those things. For me to tee it up at Colonial with all those people there, I told myself that there’s nothing ever that’s going to be like this in my life. If I can handle this, I feel like I can handle anything.”

If Yani can reach even a fraction of the fulfillment that Annika derived from playing in a PGA Tour event, she should do it. Far too often, the biggest question surrounding a woman competing with the world’s best men – whether it’s Sorenstam, Michelle Wie or anyone else – is that of, “How will she fare?” Instead, that should be a secondary query after, “What was her impact?” and “Was she able to measure herself against the best competition?”

It appears Tseng understands that concept already. When asked last week to name her main motivation for such an appearance, she stated, “I wouldn’t care about the results, because I’d just want to enjoy the feeling of playing with guys and learning from them to further improve my skills.”

While it wouldn’t be about the results – let’s face it; we shouldn’t expect immediate success from anyone competing in their first PGA Tour event, regardless of gender – Tseng would certainly want to ensure that she picked a venue on which she could at least show off her talents.

After all, that was a priority for Sorenstam, too.

“Colonial stood out for so many reasons,” she recalled. “I just really felt like that golf course would fit my game. It’s not the longest golf course. It puts a premium on the driving, a premium on approach shots, smaller greens – which is kind of what I like. … Everything just kind of fell into place.”

And therein lies the problem for the current Rolex Ranking leader.

In her prime, Sorenstam was a ball-striker extraordinaire, a fairways-and-greens machine who rarely made unforced errors. Tseng is a much different type of player. She is the LPGA’s resident mad bomber, currently averaging 267.9 yards per drive to lead the tour.

While that number blows away her female cohorts, it would rank two yards behind the last of 186 measured players on the PGA Tour this season and 23 yards behind the mean. In short, her driving distance would go from being her greatest asset to her largest detriment.

Also unlike Sorenstam, Tseng fails to find the fairway on a somewhat regular basis. Her driving accuracy of 64.8 percent would rank 60th on the PGA Tour.

Put those numbers together and you’ll realize that Tseng may need a short, wide open course on which to succeed against male competition. Only one problem: That type of venue hardly exists on the PGA Tour schedule.

Puerto Rico Open host course Trump International Golf Club won’t include the game’s upper echelon, who will instead be teeing it up in a WGC event at Doral that week, but it does measure 7,569 yards, which is more than 1,000 yards longer than the average LPGA track. As if that number alone isn’t enough to dissuade her, there are six par-4 holes of 448 yards or longer and two par-5s that are at least 600 yards, including the 630-yard finisher.

At this year’s edition of the tournament, six players in the final top 10 averaged more than 300 yards per drive for the week, while none was below the 285 mark. Those power numbers simply don’t exist on the LPGA.

Should Tseng decide to compete in a PGA Tour event, her eyes may not be on the winner’s prize, but if she listens to Sorenstam’s advice, then finding a course which suits her game should be of the utmost priority.

It makes perfect sense. Just as a strong result – like Sorenstam’s valiant effort at Colonial eight years ago – can attract more fans to the women’s game, a poor performance can serve as a detractor, a reason for the next woman to rethink such an option when it is proposed.

Of course, just because the perfect venue for her game does not exist, that may not be enough to keep Tseng from giving it a shot. If – or perhaps when – she picks Sorenstam’s brain for guidance, comments like the following may be too impactful to ignore.

“Just the experience – interacting with the guys, interacting with the fans – everything was just amazing,” she said. “And that’s why I think about it a lot. It really changed my career, changed me as a person and I have a lot to feel thankful for from that week.”

Yani Tseng has the opportunity to feel the same way. It won’t be an easy decision – one that may be exacerbated by a lack of the ideal scenario – but let’s hope she comes to her conclusion for the right reasons, not the wrong ones..

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Watch: Is this the up-and-down of the year?

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 3:30 pm

Play away from the pin? Just because there's a tree in your way? Not Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. Watch him channel some Arnie (or, more appropriately, some Seve) with this shot in the Valderrama Masters:

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Cut Line: Farewell to the mouth that roared

By Rex HoggardOctober 19, 2018, 2:06 pm

In this week’s edition we bid farewell to the most outspoken and insightful analyst of his generation and examine a curious new interpretation that will require players to start paying attention to the small print.

Made Cut

Here’s Johnny. After nearly three decades Johnny Miller will hang up his microphone following next year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Miller called his first tournament as NBC Sports/Golf Channel’s lead analyst in 1990 at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and he told Cut Line this week that at 71 years old he’s ready to relax and spend time with his 24 grandchildren.

“I was the first guy with an open microphone,” Miller said. “That requires a lot of concentration. It’s not that I couldn’t do it but the handwriting was on the wall; it would be more of a challenge.”

Miller will be missed for his insight as much as his often-blunt deliveries, but it’s the latter that made him one of a kind.

A long ride to the right place. After nearly four years of legal wrangling a group of PGA Tour caddies dropped their class-action lawsuit against the circuit this week.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in early 2015 in an attempt by the caddies to secure marketing rights for the bibs they wear during tournaments as a way to create better healthcare and retirement benefits.

The district court largely ruled against the caddies and that ruling was upheld by an appeals court earlier this year, but better healthcare options may still be in the cards for the caddies.

“I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the Association of Professional Tour Caddies.

Sajtinac told Cut Line that the Tour has offered a potential increase to the longtime stipend they give caddies for healthcare and in a statement the circuit said talks are ongoing.

“The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.

It’s rare when both sides of a lawsuit walk away feeling good about themselves, but this particular outcome appears to have ended with a favorable outcome for everybody involved.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

A long haul. Tiger Woods acknowledged what many had speculated about, telling a group this week at his annual Tiger Woods Invitational at Pebble Beach that his season-ending push and his first victory in five years took a physical toll at the Ryder Cup.

“It was just a cumulative effect of the entire season,” Woods said on Tuesday. “I was tired because I hadn’t trained for it. I hadn’t trained this entire comeback to play this much golf and on top of that deal with the heat and the fatigue and the loss of weight.”

Woods went 0-4 for the U.S. team in France and appeared particularly tired on Sunday following the European victory at Le Golf National.

For Woods the result was worth the effort with his victory at the Tour Championship ending a five-year drought, but his play and concession that it impacted him at the Ryder Cup does create some interesting questions for U.S. captain Jim Furyk, who sent Woods out for both team sessions on Saturday.

Tweet(s) of the week: @BobEstesPGA (Bob Estes) “I spoke to a past Ryder Cup captain yesterday. We both agreed that there should be a week off before the [Ryder Cup] to adequately rest and prepare.”

Given Woods’ comments this week it seems likely he would agree that a break – which may become the norm with the Tour season ending three weeks earlier – would be helpful, but Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts had a slightly different take in response to Estes’ tweet. “I’m afraid a different schedule wasn’t gonna make the fairways wider. On that particular course with how we played, [the United States] had absolutely no chance. Hasn’t more than half the euros played playoffs too?” Colsaerts tweeted.

It’s never too early to get a jump on the 2020 trash talking.


Missed Cut

By the book. The USGA and R&A’s most recent rulemaking hill involved the use of green-reading materials. On Monday the game’s rule-makers unveiled new interpretations on what will be allowed starting next year.

Out will be the legal-sized reams of information that had become ubiquitous on Tour, replaced by pocket-sized books that will include a limited scale (3/8 inch to 5 yards).

While the majority of those involved were in favor of a scaled-back approach to what to many seemed like information overload, it did seem like a curious line to draw.

Both sides of the distance debate continue to await which way the rule-makers will go on this front and, at least in the United States, participation continues to be a challenge.

Banning the oversized green-reading books may have been a positive step, but it was a micro issue that impacted a wildly small portion of the golf public. Maybe it’s time for the rule-makers to start looking at more macro issues.

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S.Y. Kim leads Kang, A. Jutanugarn in Shanghai

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:24 am

SHANGHAI  -- Sei Young Kim led the LPGA Shanghai by one stroke at the halfway point after shooting a 5-under-par 67 in the second round on Friday.

Kim made six birdies, including four straight from the sixth hole, to move to a 10-under 134 total. Her only setback was a bogey on the par-4 15th.

Kim struggled in the first half of the year, but is finishing it strong. She won her seventh career title in July at the Thornberry Creek Classic, was tied for fourth at the Women's British Open, and last month was runner-up at the Evian Championship.

''I made huge big par putts on 10, 11, 12,'' Kim said on Friday. ''I'm very happy with today's play.''

Danielle Kang (68) and overnight leader Ariya Jutanugarn (69) were one shot back.


Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


''I like attention. I like being in the final group. I like having crowds,'' Kang said. ''It's fun. You work hard to be in the final groups and work hard to be in the hunt and be the leader and chasing the leaders. That's why we play.''

She led into the last round at the Hana Bank Championship last week and finished tied for third.

Brittany Altomare had six birdies in a bogey-free round of 66, and was tied for fourth with Bronte Law (68) and Brittany Lincicome (68).

Angel Lin eagled the par-5 17th and finished with the day's lowest score of 65, which also included six birdies and a lone bogey.

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'Caveman golf' puts Koepka one back at CJ Cup

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:12 am

JEJU ISLAND, South Korea – Brooks Koepka, recently named the PGA Tour Player of the Year, gave himself the perfect opportunity to become the No. 1 player in the world when he shot a 7-under par 65 to move to within one shot of the lead in the CJ Cup on Friday.

At the Nine Bridges course, the three-time major champion made an eagle on his closing hole to finish on 8-under par 136 after two rounds, just one stroke behind Scott Piercy, who was bogey-free in matching Koepka's 65.

With the wind subsiding and the course playing much easier than on the opening day when the scoring average was 73.26, 44 players – more than half the field of 78 – had under-par rounds.

Overnight leader Chez Reavie added a 70 to his opening-round 68 to sit in third place at 138, three behind Piercy. Sweden's Alex Noren was the other player in with a 65, which moved him into a tie for fourth place alongside Ian Poulter (69), four out of the lead.

The best round of the day was a 64 by Brian Harman, who was tied for sixth and five behind Piercy.


Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


The 28-year-old Koepka will move to the top of the world rankings when they are announced on Monday if he wins the tournament.

Thomas, playing alongside Koepka, matched Koepka's eagle on the last, but that was only for a 70 and he is tied for 22nd place at 1 under.

Koepka's only bogey was on the par-5 ninth hole, where he hit a wayward tee shot. But he was otherwise pleased with the state of his ''caveman golf.''

''I feel like my game is in a good spot. I feel like the way I played today, if I can carry that momentum into Saturday and Sunday, it will be fun,'' Koepka, winner of the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship, said.

''My game is pretty simple. I guess you can call it like caveman golf – you see the ball, hit the ball and go find it again. You're not going to see any emotion just because I'm so focused, but I'm enjoying it.''

Piercy, who has fallen to No. 252 in the world ranking despite winning the Zurich Classic earlier this year with Billy Horschel – there are no world ranking points for a team event – was rarely out of position in a round in which he found 13 of 14 fairways off the tee and reached 16 greens in regulation.

''Obviously, the wind was down a little bit and from a little bit different direction, so 10 miles an hour wind versus 20s is quite a big difference,'' said Piercy, who is looking for his first individual PGA Tour win since the Barbasol Championship in July 2015.

''It was a good day. Hit a couple close and then my putter showed up and made some putts of some pretty good length.''

Australia's Marc Leishman, winner last week at the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, shot a 71 and was seven behind. Paul Casey's 73 included a hole-in-one on the par-3 seventh hole and the Englishman is nine behind Piercy.