Hawk's Nest: While we're young, Tiger and Phil

By John HawkinsJune 17, 2013, 5:45 pm

When my wife and kids weren’t looking, I spent much of Father’s Day in front of the bathroom mirror, clutching my neck and pleading “While we’re young!” in repeated attempts to sound like Rodney Dangerfield in “Caddyshack.” It was a total waste of time, however. When it comes to impersonations, call me Rich Very Little.

While we’re young?

Are we talking about speeding up pace of play or Phil Mickelson winning a U.S. Open?

That’s six runner-up finishes, of course, this time in Fail-a-delphia, a loss Mickelson described as tougher than any of the previous five. So what if Justin Rose became the first Englishman to win the national championship since 1970? Once again, heartbreak reigns across this great land, but if ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were candy and nuts, some leave us hanging, others show us guts.

Rose rallied to beat Mickelson in a crucial singles match at last fall’s Ryder Cup – the bomb he made for a birdie at Medinah’s 17th was the biggest putt anyone holed all year. Now this. All from a guy who had once blown more 54-hole leads without a victory than anyone on the PGA Tour. A guy who didn’t win in this country until midway into his seventh full season.

What struck me about Mickelson’s latest runner-up showing was the way in which he ended up there. He’s normally a fairly average iron player who converts more mid-range putts (eight to 20 feet) than maybe anybody. At Merion, he hit his irons better than I’ve ever seen – and didn’t take advantage of what seemed like countless scoring opportunities.

While we’re young? Hey, you never know, but only Hale Irwin (1990) has won a U.S. Open at a more advanced age than Mickelson is now. On Lefty’s 43rd birthday, it turns out he couldn’t have his cake and win it, too. And you thought that jet ride back to San Diego for his daughter’s graduation was long …

FOR SOME STRANGE reason, “Caddyshack” has held onto its standing as an American movie classic, a cultish gem despite its pathetically thin script and quadruple-bogey ending. Not just the stupid gopher thing as Carl Spackler blows up the course to rid it of varmints, but the part just before that, when opposing players in the big match are actually seen sharing a putter.

Is that not a violation of Rule 4-4b?

The winning putt is struck by Danny Noonan – take a look at the condition of the green in that last scene. It’s almost totally dirt, leaving me to wonder why they chose such a cruddy spot on which to film this pivotal moment. Wealthy guys like Al Czervik (Dangerfield’s character) would never join such a dump. Spackler should have detonated the place on account of its lousy shape alone.

Don’t tell me rodents were responsible for leaving Bushwood CC in such an awful agricultural state. That would have entitled Noonan to a free drop under Rule 25-1b/19. Not that I’m a stickler for authenticity or anything, but no wonder the sequel was such a bomb.

SERIOUSLY, PEOPLE. DON’T take me seriously. I loved “Caddyshack” the first 77 times I saw it. And if my friends at the USGA don’t show a sense of humor when they set up U.S. Opens, the bluecoats have made some pretty good commercials over the years. The boy who makes a hole-in-one but (almost) nobody sees. The two guys sitting on a bench under cover, waiting out a torrential downpour.

“While we’re young!” is another big winner: a campaign with a purpose, a message delivered with a lighthearted twist. It’s a combination that can leave an imprint, and at last, somebody is trying publicly to defeat slow play. My favorite WWY is the one where the snail heads off to the beverage cart and orders an Arnold Palmer, then runs into the King himself. The one with Tiger Woods and the kids doesn’t really work for me, but at least Woods got involved.

How about we show the entire series of ads to every competitor at next week’s U.S. Women’s Open?

SO ELDRICK ALMIGHTY fails again in his quest to win a 15th major title. If no news = good news then old news ≥ no news, good or bad. I’m not sure we’ll ever get to a point where Tiger’s performance isn’t a primary topic of discussion – he looked out of sorts from the very start at Merion and was quickly felled by an inadequate short game.

On several occasions over the course of the week, it struck me that Woods looked unprepared to pull off shots this difficult venue was asking him to execute. Did he play enough holes during the practice rounds? Did he hit enough different shots on the holes he played? It got me thinking – and looking stuff up.

• Tiger has won 16 times since the start of 2008. All but one of those victories (the ’08 Match Play) occurred on courses where he’d won before.

• Twelve of those triumphs came at places where Tiger has turned winning into an industry: Torrey Pines (three times beginning in ’08), Bay Hill (four), Memorial (twice), Congressional, Firestone and Doral. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with winning the same tournament over and over, but in those five-plus years, only last month’s victory at The Players would qualify as something of a surprise.

• Since he plays a very similar schedule every season, Tiger doesn’t play many events on courses where he’s never competed. The majors are an obvious exception; three of them move around. While Woods could seemingly win three or four times a year with his eyes closed, simply by visiting his favorite haunts, he looks like a different guy at places he hasn’t been.

Merion certainly qualified – Woods had never played the course until just recently. In the old days, Red Shirt was a relentless on-site practice presence. I’m not absolutely positive he isn’t now, but the evidence might help you form a conclusion.

THE GOOD NEWS, at least for Tiger, is that one of his corporate sponsors (Rolex) featured him in a non-golf television commercial for the first time since his personal life unraveled in late 2009. Nike has continued to use him, obviously, and Woods made a cameo in a Swoosh spot for a skateboarding shoe during that stretch, but the Rolex ad represents old ground rebroken.

It’s a cool commercial, too, with Sir Eldrick walking through a museum-like hall adorned with oversized portraits of golf’s greats. Wristwatch companies really love pro golfers, seeing to the compatible demographics and all, and I suppose you could make a case that the Hydrant Era has been over long enough for someone to use Woods to peddle a product.

It’s a much less risky decision than to wear those octopus pants Billy Horschel had on Sunday.

OK, I’LL ADMIT it. There was a time this spring when I found Horschel to be just a few feet higher than over the top. The cocksure disposition, the physical theatrics, the look-at-me factor in general – I’m a golf fan, too, and Horschel got off to a bogey-bogey start with me. Anyone who refers to himself aloud by his real name after a poorly struck shot needs to work on his self-deprecation skills.

Acceptable: “You dumb--s! Why are you hitting in there?”

Unacceptable: “Oh, Billy! Come on….”

Upon further review, two things have become abundantly clear. Horschel doesn’t hit many bad shots. And he’s different, which is a good thing in a league where unemotional, wanna-be stars are produced regularly by the Tour’s cookie cutter. The guy does a lot of things well, and the U.S. Open, where he finished T-4, was another step forward in Horschel’s competitive evolution.

His numbers are crazy-good. The win in New Orleans and six other top-10s, sixth in total driving, sixth in the all-around stat, second in birdie-conversion percentage. Horschel recovers from bogeys well and is very good at saving par after barely missing a green, which isn’t often. I don’t know if he’s ready to win a major, but if he doesn’t win another event in 2013, I’ll get myself a pair of those octopus pants and wear them up to the Little Brown Dog.

WHILE WE’RE YOUNG? Steve Stricker really isn’t anymore, and his performance on Merion’s early holes Sunday was enough to leave you thinking he’ll never win a major, but his “I’m a savage” spot for Avis has already claimed my award for the year’s best TV commercial featuring a pro golfer.

Pretty damn funny if you ask me.

A couple of other potential campaigns featuring our favorite players:

• Tiger and Rory, all buffed up and ready to go in their Swooshies, approach the Merion clubhouse together, only to find the door locked.

• In honor of Camp Ponte Vedra’s streaming app, we find Philly Mick walking into a crowded workplace, climbing up on someone’s desk and unleashing a 2-wood on a replica of the U.S. Open trophy. Unfortunately, the shaft snaps, the clubhead goes flying – and the USGA chalice doesn’t bear a dent.

Jason Dufner hits a little pitch to 10 or 12 feet below the hole, as was the case at Merion’s fourth hole last Friday, then hurls the wedge into a greenfront creek. The offensive club begins floating downstream, and Dufner, whose physical composition does not resemble that of Usain Bolt, begins chasing after it.

“While we’re young!” some ancient guy in a USGA blazer hollers, tugging on his wrinkled neck.

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Wie has hand surgery, out for rest of 2018

By Randall MellOctober 18, 2018, 9:43 pm

Michelle Wie will miss the rest of this season after undergoing surgery Thursday to fix injuries that have plagued her right hand in the second half of this year.

Wie announced in an Instagram post that three ailments have been causing the pain in her hand: an avulsion fracture, bone spurs and nerve entrapment.

An avulsion fracture is an injury to the bone where it attaches to a ligament or tendon.

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I think John Mayer once said, “Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, be strong and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.” A lot of people have been asking me what’s been going on with my hand and I haven’t shared much, because I wasn’t sure what was going on myself. After countless MRI’s, X-rays, CT scans, and doctor consultations, I was diagnosed with having a small Avulsion Fracture, bone spurring, and nerve entrapment in my right hand. After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through. So I made the decision after Hana Bank to withdraw from the rest of the season, come back to the states, and get surgery to fix these issues. It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year but hopefully I am finally on the path to being and STAYING pain free! Happy to announce that surgery was a success today and I cannot wait to start my rehab so that I can come back stronger and healthier than ever. Huge thank you to Dr. Weiland’s team at HSS for taking great care of me throughout this process and to all my fans for your unwavering support. It truly means the world to me. I’ll be back soon guys!!!! Promise

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Dr. Andrew Weiland, an attending orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, performed the procedure.

“It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year, but, hopefully, I am finally on the path to being and staying pain free,” Wie wrote.

Wie withdrew during the first round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open with the hand injury on Aug. 2 and didn’t play again until teeing it up at the UL International Crown two weeks ago and the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week. She played those events with what she hoped was a new “pain-free swing,” one modeled after Steve Stricker, with more passive hands and wrists. She went 1-3 at the UL Crown and tied for 59th in the limited field Hana Bank.

“After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through,” she wrote.

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Wie, who just turned 29 last week, started the year saying her top goal was to try to stay injury free. She won the HSBC Women’s World Championship in March, but her goal seemed doomed with a diagnosis of arthritis in both wrists before the year even started.

Over the last few years, Wie has dealt with neck, back, hip, knee and ankle injuries. Plus, there was an emergency appendectomy that knocked her out of action for more than a month late last season. Her wrists have been an issue going back to early in her career.

“I don’t think there is one joint or bone in her body that hasn’t had some sort of injury or issue,” Wie’s long-time swing coach, David Leadbetter, said earlier this year.

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Woods receives his Tour Championship trophy

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 8:57 pm

We all know the feeling of giddily anticipating something in the mail. But it's doubtful that any of us ever received anything as cool as what recently showed up at Tiger Woods' Florida digs.

This was Woods' prize for winning the Tour Championship. It's a replica of "Calamity Jane," Bobby Jones' famous putter. Do we even need to point out that the Tour Championship is played at East Lake, the Atlanta course where Jones was introduced to the game.

Woods broke a victory drought of more than five years by winning the Tour Championhip. It was his 80th PGA Tour win, leaving him just two shy of Sam Snead's all-time record.

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Garcia 2 back in storm-halted Andalucia Masters

By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 7:08 pm

SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Ashley Chesters was leading on 5-under 66 at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters when play was suspended because of darkness with 60 golfers yet to complete their weather-hit first rounds on Thursday.

More than four hours was lost as play was twice suspended because of stormy conditions and the threat of lightning at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain.

Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters

English journeyman Chesters collected six birdies and one bogey to take a one-shot lead over Gregory Bourdy of France. Tournament host and defending champion Sergio Garcia was on 68 along with fellow Spaniards Alvaro Quiros and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, and Australia's Jason Scrivener.

''It's a shame I can't keep going because the last few holes were the best I played all day. Considering all the delays and everything, I'm very happy with 5 under,'' Chesters said. ''The forecast for the rest of the week is not very good either so I thought I'll just make as many birdies as I can and get in.''

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Caddies drop lawsuit; Tour increases healthcare stipend

By Rex HoggardOctober 18, 2018, 3:33 pm

After nearly four years of litigation, a group of PGA Tour caddies have dropped their lawsuit against the circuit.

The lawsuit, which was filed in California in early 2015, centered on the bibs caddies wear during tournaments and ongoing attempts by the caddies to improve their healthcare and retirement options.

The caddies lost their class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court and an appeal this year.

Separately, the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, which was not involved in the lawsuit but represents the caddies to the Tour, began negotiating with the circuit last year.

“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 APTC.

In January 2017, Jay Monahan took over as commissioner of the Tour and began working with the APTC to find a solution to the healthcare issue. Sajtinac said the Tour has agreed to increase the stipend it gives caddies for healthcare beginning next year.

“It took a year and a half, but it turned out to be a good result,” Sajtinac said. “Our goal is to close that window for the guys because healthcare is such a massive chunk of our income.”

In a statement released by the Tour, officials pointed out the lawsuit and the “potential increase to the longtime caddie healthcare subsidy” are two separate issues.

“Although these two items have been reported together, they are not connected. 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.

Caddies have received a stipend from the Tour for healthcare for some time, and although Sajtinac wouldn’t give the exact increase, he said it was over 300 percent. Along with the APTC’s ability to now negotiate healthcare plans as a group, the new stipend should dramatically reduce healthcare costs for caddies.

“It’s been really good,” said Sajtinac, who did add that there are currently no talks with the Tour to created a retirement program for caddies. “Everybody is really excited about this.”