Being Like Mike Weir
Parental discretion is strongly advised. Canadians ' listen up.
I am truly sick of this! Here I am, a member of the golf media, a broadcast journalist who tries his darndest to respect the players, the game and its heartiest of fans, and all I seem to read lately is a steady diet of e-mails and discussion board messages about the lack of respect shown to Canadian hero, Masters champion, and one hell of a good guy ' namely, Mike Weir.
This whole thing hit a boiling point with me the other night as I was watching television in my hotel room in Miami. Im laying around, innocently watching highlights of Weir hitting knockdown wedges to the basket from center court at a BYU Cougars' game and couldnt help but think that while it was really great stuff, there might just be some who were less than satisfied.
Was I right? Cmonyou know who you are. You were saying, If that were Tiger, theyd show him walking out onto the court before he hit the wedges, then theyd show him hit each and every shot, then theyd show him walk off to a loud ovation and sit back down in his seat.
Well, here I am covering the Ford Championship at Doral, actually wishing that Weir was here. Why? His run has been nothing short of spectacular.
For those whove shortchanged a star - here are the facts:
Weir has gone from Q-School medalist (1998) to Masters champion in very short order. Thats a huge story.
In his first full year on the PGA Tour (1999), he won the Air Canada Championship. That was a huge story.
In his second full year on the PGA Tour (2000) he won the World Golf Championship American Express Championship ' beating the best in the world. That was a huge story.
In his third full year on the PGA Tour (2001) he won the Tour Championship ' beating the tours elite money winners. That was a huge story.
In his fourth year on the PGA Tour (2002) he ditched the pre-shot routine that wed come to know and expect, and also found his way out of sync and out of the elite group of PGA Tour winners. You know what, that was also a huge story.
In his fifth year on the PGA Tour (2003) he came back like a bulldog. The pre-shot routine was back, and so too was Weirsy. After winning the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, he was ninth in Phoenix, third at Pebble Beach, a winner again at the Nissan Open and just weeks later he won The Masters.
That was a huge story. Check that. That was a really huge story!
And now, here we are in 2004. Weirs a winner already, having won the Nissan Open yet again, and seems like a pretty solid choice to successfully defend his title at Augusta. Yetall I seem to read is letters about how Mike doesnt get the respect he deserves, and e-mails shouting The networks never show Mike, and chat room catcalls like, Weir just shot 66 and they didnt show him at all on the back nine.
I have to be honest. Im growing very Weiry of it!
I, for one, love Canada. Ive been to Montreal. Ive been to Toronto twice. Ive been to two Blue Jays games at the Skydome and some day I really want to go to Vancouver and Whistler. Heck, I bought my son Trent a Blue Jays jersey which he proudly wears to Little League practice (even though were the Pirates) and he has an autographed Maple Leafs sweater/jersey with No. 7, given to him by Gary Roberts who showed me a great time on his golf course. My kid loves hockey by the way and plays like he was born in Kitchner or a member of the Kamloops team. Ken Hitchcock is one of my favorite coaches in professional sports.
Journalistic ethics aside, I, for one, am also a very big fan of Mike Weir. I was there when he earned medalist honors at Q-school. I interviewed him at Medinah when he made noise at the PGA Championship. I was really happy to see him win the Masters. And you know why? Its because he won it for many more folks than just himself. To quote Stuart Scott of ESPN (which pains me terribly) he represents!
Canadians are a passionate bunch. You make people feel welcome. You say hello, when you might not expect it. You are hospitable when you dont always have to be. And you write e-mails, and call golf talk shows like no other group has ever, or will ever do. And your dedication to the Sprint Pre and Post game shows is unmatched.
Heres my take. Mike Weir is one classy cat. Hes polished, polite and very productive when it comes to golf. But guess what. Hes not the one who has anything to prove! Hes already done it.
Its just my opinion. But I think its up to the networks and the network of golf media to prove to us that Weir is somebody that we ought to take more seriously. Your e-mails are on-target - Mikes airtime isnt on par with others. And there seems to be a certain reluctance to hoist Weirsy up on the same level as the likes of Woods or Els, Singh or Love.
But lets not get overworked about it. Instead, channel that energy into his run toward another major, or two, or more. Remember, golf is a very fickle sport. Dont be mad. Be happy. Realize what a great thing youve got going. Dont feel insecure. Feel safebecause for what its worth, I promise you Mike is a favorite among the media masses.
And, oh Canada, remember one other thing above all - you feisty bunch of golf fanatics - when all is said and done for Mike Weir, no matter whether or not we get to see his 8-iron into No. 11 that led to birdie while we do watch Tiger walking up the fairway at No. 15, only you Canadians can truly call Weir your hero, your role model, and above all, your very own.
We Americans have too many to choose from, which, for the record, makes me envious.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1
They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.
McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.
Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.
On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.
Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:
10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm
12/1: Tony Finau
14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler
20/1: Francesco Molinari
25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner
30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka
40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day
50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar
60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate
80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na
100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman
Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience
Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.
It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.
Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.
A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.
“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.
“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”
Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.
At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.
Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.
“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.
“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”
Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.
“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”
After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.
“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”
Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.
“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.
“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”
On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.
Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.
“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”
Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.
At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.
At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.
Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.
“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”
Her overall assessment of her day?
“It was a great experience,” she said.
Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage
NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:
Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)
Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.
1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.
Knox relishes round with 'mythical figure' Woods
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Russell Knox was expecting the worst and hoping for the best Thursday at The Open.
Playing with Tiger Woods tends to have that effect.
The native Scot received a treat earlier this week when he saw his name on the tee sheet alongside his boyhood idol, Woods.
“Felt good out there, but obviously my swing, it was just like I had too much tension,” Knox said after an opening 73. “I just wasn’t letting it go as normal. First round with Tiger, I expected to feel a little bit different. The way I felt was better than the way I swung.”
Knox said that he was nervous playing alongside Woods, a player he’d only encountered on the range. “He’s almost like a mythical figure,” he said.
But after a while, he settled into the rhythm of the round at Carnoustie.
“I thought it would be worse,” he said, “I feel like I should know what I’m doing. It’s cool playing with Tiger, but I’ve got to get over that. I’m here to win, not just enjoy my walk around the course.”
Knox probably had more interaction with Woods than he anticipated, if only because the third member of the group, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, keeps to himself because of the language barrier.
“It’s kind of a blur,” Knox said. “It’s like, Oh, I’m chatting away with Tiger here like normal. I don’t even remember what I was saying.”
There have been countless stories from this year as the next generation of players – guys who grew up watching Woods dominate the sport – get paired with Woods for the first time.
It was no less special for Knox on Thursday.
“It’s nice for him to say things like that,” Woods said, “and we enjoyed playing with each other. Hopefully we’ll play a little bit better tomorrow.”