Diary from the Buick Invitational
Things I noticed about San Diego:
No matter what the weather is like, it's still breathtaking scenery along the coast.
The local fans cheer for Phil but they follow Tiger.
The lunch spread in the media room at the Buick Invitational is one of the best in the business.
Things I noticed about Davis Love III:
He's a smart man. He rides the wave when it comes his way. Signing up for the Buick Invitational was a good decision. Better late than never.
He's hitting the ball longer than ever. His new driver is his new best friend, even if he doesn't find the fairways all the time.
He's more than likely Ryder Cup bound. Maybe he and Phil Mickelson will be partners. They've played a lot together lately.
Things I noticed about Lefty:
He's a good sport. As poorly as he was feeling all week, Phil was extremely graceful with the media and the fans.
He's the King of San Diego. As a matter of fact, I think he won the Junior World Optimist tournament when I played there in the mid-80s. Yes, I'm dating myself.
He's not one to shun a win just because a few lucky breaks came his way. He knows that double bogeys don't usually bring home victory.
Things I noticed about Frank Lickliter:
He's a tough guy. He expects only the best from himself and nothing less. He'll probably beat himself up for a little while over this one, but I think a win is in his future.
He's a good sport, too. On the last playoff hole, I was surrounded by hundreds of people yelling 'Go Phil.' It had to rattle him a little.
Things I noticed about Tiger:
He's a smart interview. Early in the week I asked him what his first car was and he told me he couldn't say this week. He didn't skip a beat. Buick will be happy.
He's inching back down to his 67 or so scoring average. It shouldn't be too long before he's hoisting another trophy.
He's a patient man. He must have answered the same question from the media this week about a hundred different times. 'How far off is a win, Tiger?'. 'I'm not that far off.' He replied.
It was a good week.
Tour still focused on security after death of suspected Austin bomber
AUSTIN, Texas – Although the suspect in the wave of Austin-area bombings was killed early Wednesday, the PGA Tour plans to continue heightened security measures at this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club.
According to various news outlets, Mark Anthony Conditt has been identified as the bombings suspect, and he was killed by an explosion inside his car in Round Rock, Texas, which is 19 miles north of Austin Country Club.
“We do not comment on the specifics of our security measures, but we are continuing to work in close collaboration with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in Austin to ensure the safety of our players and fans at this week’s tournament,” the Tour said in a statement. “Regardless of the recent developments, our heightened security procedures will remain in place through the remainder of the week.”
Authorities believe Conditt is responsible for the five explosions that killed two people and injured five others in Austin or south-central Texas since March 2.
Play began Wednesday at the Match Play.
Monahan addresses alcohol, fan behavior at events
AUSTIN, Texas – Fan behavior has become a hot-button topic on the PGA Tour in recent weeks, with Rory McIlroy suggesting on Saturday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational the circuit should “limit alcohol sales on the course.”
The Tour’s policy is to stop selling alcohol an hour before the end of play, which is normally around 5 p.m., and on Wednesday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play commissioner Jay Monahan said it’s something the Tour is monitoring.
“When you have people who aren’t behaving properly and they’ve had too much alcohol, then I agree [with McIlroy],” Monahan said. “In those incidences those people who are making it uncomfortable for a player alcohol sales should be cut off.”
Fan behavior became an issue with some players when Tiger Woods returned to competition at last month’s Genesis Open. During the final round of the Honda Classic Justin Thomas had a fan removed when he yelled for Thomas’ tee shot at the par-4 16th hole to “get in the bunker.”
Monahan declined to address Thomas’ situation at PGA National specifically, but he did seem to suggest that as interest grows and the Tour continues to attract more mainstream sports crowds, vocal fans will continue to be the norm.
“I believe that there was more that went into it that preceded and in a situation like that we’re hopeful our players will reach out to our security staff and they can handle that,” Monahan said. “[But] yelling, ‘get in the bunker,’ that’s part of what our players have to accept. In any sport, you go to an away game, in any other sport, and people aren’t rooting for you. Sometimes out here you’re going to have fans that aren’t rooting for you, but they can’t interfere with what you’re trying to do competitively.”
Senden playing first event since son's brain tumor
John Senden is back inside the ropes for the first time in nearly a year at this week's Chitimacha Louisiana Open on the Web.com Tour.
Senden took a leave of absence from professional golf in April, when his teenage son, Jacob, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He didn't touch a club for nearly four months as Jacob endured six rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, a gauntlet that stretched from April until mid-November.
But Senden told PGATour.com that his son's tumor has shrunk from the size of a thumbnail to the size of a pinky nail, and after a promising MRI in January he decided to plan his comeback.
"I haven't really played in 12 months, but in that time Jacob has really, really hung tough," Senden said. "His whole body was getting slammed with all these treatments, and he was so strong in his whole attitude and his whole body. Just really getting through the whole thing. He was tough."
Senden was granted a family crisis exemption by the Tour, and he'll have 13 starts to earn 310 FedExCup points to retain his playing privileges for the 2018-19 season. He is allowed five Web.com "rehabilitation" starts as part of the exemption, but will reportedly only make one this week before returning to the PGA Tour at the RBC Heritage, followed by starts in San Antonio, Charlotte and Dallas.
Senden, 46, has won twice on Tour, most recently the 2014 Valspar Championship.
Added videos shed light on Reed rules controversy
Additional fan videos shed some light on a rules controversy involving Patrick Reed during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, when Reed suggested that Jordan Spieth would have gotten free relief after he was denied a favorable ruling.
Reed had sailed the green with his approach on the 11th hole Sunday at Bay Hill, coming to rest under a palm tree. As the below thread of videos from fan Tyler Soughers illustrates, Reed wanted a free drop because he believed a nearby television tower was in the way of the shot he planned to play.
The initial rules official didn't "see" the shot Reed planned to attempt given the tight confines, and his decision to deny Reed a free drop was upheld by a second rules official. Reed eventually tried to play the ball, moving it a few feet, before being granted relief from the tower from the ball's new position. He ultimately made double bogey on the hole and tied for seventh.
After finally taking his free drop away from the tower, Reed was heard muttering to nearby fans, "What a crock of s---."
Reed and Spieth will have plenty of time to discuss their favorite rulings Friday, when the two players face off on the final day of round-robin play in Group 4 during the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin.