Trust Em Woods Drives the Bus
Thats Shuan MicheelPGA Tour winner and major champion all wrapped up into one big week two years ago at the PGA Championship held at Oak Hill in Rochester, N.Y.
How did the quote come about? Simple. Micheel and Ben Curtis were in contention at Cog Hill Golf Club and the questions were coming rapid fire regarding their success, or lack of, since their major championships.
Neither Micheel nor Curtis (who won the Open Championship at Royal St. Georges in 2003) has had a top-10 finish on the PGA Tour since winning the major.
To some, drilling either man with the what in the name of Cinderella is wrong with your game is an unfair question. Another critic might look at such finger pointing as a compliment in the truest sense.
Actually, I think questioning the likes of a Micheel or Curtis, or Todd Hamilton about their lack of contention since winning one of golfs ultimate and precious prizes is nothing more than a great compliment.
We want and expect great things out of them ' which ought to tell them that they can play at the highest level.
On the Sprint Post Game last week my cohort Brian Hewitt asked Curtis (who was a co-leader heading into Sunday) whether a win at the Cialis Western Open might actually be a bigger win for his career than the improbable, yet spectacular, accomplishment among the games best at Royal St. Georges.
Curtis actually paused before giving his answer. Which tells me hes thought about the importance of validation. Curtis said, No. And he should have. The British Open is the biggest win he could have dreamed of as a PGA Tour rookie in 2003. The Cialis Western Open would have been huge, but it shouldnt be bigger than the British.
To me, though, Hewitts question was a darned good one. People have and might never stop thinking of Bens win asdare I saya fluke.
Expecting Curtis or Micheel to play with the consistency of a Woods or a Singh or a Mickelson is absurd for either. Micheel put the notion of it in great perspective and put Woods in his proper place among the PGA Tour members. Theres only one Tiger, according to Micheel.
Just like in basketball, every team has a franchise player, Shaun said. The people around them make em great.
True. Very true.
If I finish 20th every week, I wont be in any World Golf Hall of Fame, Micheel added. But I will make a good living. Isnt that what Im supposed to do?
Professional golf is a business. And the Tiger Woods of the world or the Vijay Singhs or the Phil Mickelsons have to beat somebody. A 20th place Shaun Micheel or a 20th place Ben Curtis makes them quite competitive in todays PGA Tour landscape. It also makes them a whole lot of money at years end. Figure about $80,000 a week at perhaps 30 events if they made every cut. That would equal $2.4 million at years end, which would have a whole lot of people ultimately talking about them and their games.
Following up a major championship isnt easy. But winning one isnt easy either. Go ahead and say Ben Curtis backed into his if you want. But he got some help and he played his way into contention to have the chance to get that help.
Shaun Micheels 7-iron was one of the greatest clutch shots in major championship history. Rich Beem had his great fairway wood, and Todd Hamilton had the great hybrid chip/putt around the green last year at the British Open.
So Micheels message isnt meant to garner support. He and Curtis both told us on the Sprint Post Game that they feel they owe no apologies.
For both, I wish them a victory in the near future. I wish them a week like Bart Bryant had at the Memorial.
If you dont want to give the accolades or the support to the likes of Curtis or Micheel, then pass it toward Tiger Woods.
Woods might not win each week these days. But a win at the Masters, a third at Memorial, a second at the U.S. Open and a second to Jim Furyk at the Cialis Western Open after an opening round of 2-over 73 proves just how great he is.
Woods and Singh, Mickelson and Els are as consistent as they come. Not everybody can be like them. Thats why they are dubbed 'superstars.'
Woods is the best of the best. Seemingly always in it, and hardly ever believed out of it. Applaud the greatness that is. Were lucky to see it.
Micheel counts himself lucky to be a part of a PGA Tour with the likes of Woods, and seems just fine with a career goal of consistent contention, a few wins here and there andby gosha major championship if hes fortunate to somehow find one or two.
Think about it. Golf is a business. Tiger Woods is big business. Thats just the way it is.
Role players are a way of life in sports. And if all goes well, sometimes theyll play a bigger role than others. All that the likes of Micheel and Curtis are looking for is a stage from which to play a role.
Go for it guys, and dont worry about the critics.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
Davies a fitting winner of inaugural USGA championship
Laura Davies confessed she did not sleep well on a five-shot lead Saturday night at the U.S. Senior Women’s Open.
It’s all you needed to know about what this inaugural event meant to the women who were part of the history being made at Chicago Golf Club.
The week was more than a parade of memories the game’s greats created playing in the USGA’s long-awaited showcase for women ages 50 and beyond.
The week was more than nostalgic.
It was a chance to make another meaningful mark on the game.
In the end, Davies relished seeing the mark she made in her runaway, 10-shot victory. She could see it in the familiar etchings on the trophy she hoisted.
“I get my name on it first,” Davies said. “This championship will be played for many years, and there will only be one first winner. Obviously, quite a proud moment for me to win that.”
Really, all 120 players in the field made their marks at Chicago Golf Club. They were all pioneers of sorts this past week.
“It was very emotional seeing the USGA signs, because I've had such a long history, since my teens, playing in USGA championships,” said Amy Alcott, whose Hall of Fame career included the 1980 U.S. Women’s Open title. “I thought the week just came off beautifully. The USGA did a great job. It was just so classy how everything was done, this inaugural event, and how was it presented.”
Davies was thankful for what the USGA added to the women’s game, and she wasn’t alone. Gratefulness was the theme of the week.
The men have been competing in the U.S. Senior Open since 1980, and now the women have their equal opportunity to do the same.
“It was just great to be a part of the first,” three-time U.S. Women’s Open winner Hollis Stacy said. “The USGA did a great job of having it at such a great golf course. It's just been very memorable.”
Trish Johnson, who is English, like Davies, finished third, 12 shots back, but she left with a heart overflowing.
“Magnificent,” said Johnson, a three-time LPGA and 19-time LET winner. “Honestly, it's one of the best, most enjoyable weeks I've ever played in in any tournament anywhere.”
She played in the final group with Davies and runner-up Juli Inkster.
“Even this morning, just waiting to come out here, I thought, `God, not often do I actually think how lucky I am to do what I do,’” Johnson said.
At 54, Davies still plays the LPGA and LET regularly. She has now won 85 titles around the world, 20 of them LPGA titles, four of them majors, 45 of them LET titles.
With every swing this past week, she peeled back the years, turned back the clock, made fans and peers remember what she means to the women’s game.
This wasn’t the first time Davies made her mark in a USGA event. When she won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1987, she became just the second player from Europe to win the title, the first in 20 years. She opened a new door for internationals. The following year, Sweden’s Liselotte Neumann won the title.
“A lot of young Europeans and Asians decided that it wasn't just an American sport,” Davies said. “At that stage, it had been dominated, wholeheartedly, by all the names we all love, Lopez, Bradley, Daniel, Sheehan.”
Davies gave the rest of the world her name to love, her path to follow.
“It certainly made a lot of foreign girls think that they could take the Americans on,” Davies said.
In golf, it’s long been held that you can judge the stature of an event by the names on the trophy. Davies helps gives the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open the monumental start it deserved.
Suwannapura beats Lincicome in playoff for first win
SYLVANIA, Ohio - Thidapa Suwannapura won her first LPGA event on Sunday, closing with a 6-under 65 and birdieing the first playoff hole to defeat Brittany Lincicome at the Marathon Classic.
The 25-year-old Thai player is the sixth first-time winner on tour this year. Her previous best finish in 120 starts was seventh at the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.
Suwannapura picked up three strokes over her final two holes, making eagle on the par-5 17th and closing with a birdie on the par-5 18th at Highland Meadows to finish at 14-under 270.
In the playoff, Suwannapura converted a short birdie putt after Lincicome hit her second shot into a water hazard and scrambled for par.
Lincicome shot 67. She had a chance to win in regulation, but her birdie putt from about 10 feet did a nearly 360-degree turn around the edge of the cup and stayed out. Next up for the big-hitting Lincicome: a start against the men at the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship.
Third-round leader Brooke Henderson led by two shots after six holes, but struggled the rest of the way. Back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes dropped her out of the lead. The 20-year-old Canadian finished with a 2-under 69, one shot out of the playoff.
Kim cruises to first win, final Open invite at Deere
Following the best week of his professional career, Michael Kim is both a winner on the PGA Tour and the 156th and final player to earn a tee time next week at The Open.
Kim entered the final round of the John Deere Classic with a five-shot lead, and the former Cal standout removed any lingering doubt about the tournament's outcome with birdies on each of his first three holes. He cruised from there, shooting a bogey-free 66 to finish the week at 27 under and win by eight shots over Francesco Molinari, Joel Dahmen, Sam Ryder and Bronson Burgoon.
It equals the tournament scoring record and ties for the largest margin of victory on Tour this season, matching Dustin Johnson's eight-shot romp at Kapalua in January and Molinari's margin two weeks ago at the Quicken Loans National.
"Just super thankful," Kim said. "It's been a tough first half of the year. But to be able to finish it out in style like this means a lot."
Kim, 25, received the Haskins Award as the nation's top collegiate player back in 2013, but his ascent to the professional ranks has been slow. He had only one top-10 finish in 83 starts on Tour entering the week, tying for third at the Safeway Open in October 2016, and had missed the cut each of the last three weeks.
But the pieces all came together at TPC Deere Run, where Kim opened with 63 and held a three-shot lead after 36 holes. His advantage was trimmed to a single shot during a rain-delayed third round, but Kim returned to the course late Saturday and closed with four straight birdies on Nos. 15-18 to build a five-shot cushion and inch closer to his maiden victory.
As the top finisher among the top five not otherwise exempt, Kim earned the final spot at Carnoustie as part of the Open Qualifying Series. It will be his first major championship appearance since earning low amateur honors with a T-17 finish at the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion, and he is also now exempt for the PGA Championship and next year's Masters.
The last player to earn the final Open spot at the Deere and make the cut the following week was Brian Harman, who captured his first career win at TPC Deere Run in 2014 and went on to tie for 26th at Royal Liverpool.
Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal
Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.
Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.
Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.
"I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."
Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:
Disappointing. Clearly misunderstood my explanation. pic.twitter.com/YcKHMPf2v7— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) July 15, 2018
Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.