Champion Golfer of the Year

By Mercer BaggsJuly 16, 2008, 4:00 pm
Follow the 137th Open Championship all week on GOLF CHANNEL. Click for our TV schedule!
 
Open ChampionshipDid you know that the asterisk comes in many forms? Theres the six-pronged star, the 16-pronged star, the Arabic star, the Japanese rice star, and so on and so on.
 
Its good to have these many symbols, because the asterisk has many meanings. According to Wikipedia ' the worlds foremost authority on asterisks and everything else (for those of us too lazy to actually do research) ' it was originally intended to indicate ones date of birth. You can now use it to:
 
*Call out a footnote ' Abraham Lincoln loved going to Fords Theatre*
*Avoid offending people (can I write jerk face or do I need to do it j**k face?)
*Offer anonymity ' Mr. ***** Woods (James Woods?)
*Provide emphasis ' I *love* monkeys
*To list silly items like these
 
Justin Rose
Justin Rose is one player who believes this week's winner should have an asterisk by his name. (Getty Images)
'When we think about an asterisk today, however, one thing comes to mind: ignominy. We cant help but associate an * the size of Barry Bonds bulbous head with his 762 home runs. Ford Frick wanted one for Roger Maris 61 in 61. I want one for the entire Ron Zook era at Florida.
 
And now, people ' fans, media, and even some players ' are saying that the winner of this weeks Open Championship should have a * after his name.
 
Two words: total c**p.
 
Now, if youre saying this tournament deserves an asterisk as a footnote, because it was played without Tiger Woods, I can buy that. It will be impossible for us not to remember the fact that this major, as well as the upcoming PGA Championship, will be contested without the greatest player who ever lived, particularly a guy who has finished first or second in seven of the last eight major championships played.
 
But, if youre saying the winner isnt legit, because Woods didnt compete, and therefore is not a worthy champion, again: total c**p.
 
The Champion Golfer for 2008 deserves to hold the claret jug high and chug whatever he wants to out of it without reserve. The player with the lowest score over four rounds (or more) deserves to be regarded as a true major champion, not someone who won only because Woods wasnt present.
 
A debate, however, will persist regardless of who wins as to whether or not a * should be attached to his name.
 
If that name is Phil Mickelson or Ernie Els or some other proven major champion, some will say they wouldnt have been able to add to their major tally had Tiger been in contention. But whos to say that Tiger would have been in contention anyway? He may well have been, but there arent any guarantees.
 
If that name is Peter Hansen or Soren Hanson or some other shocking victor, some will say thats what you get when Tigers not around. Tiger played in 2003 when Ben Curtis won. And Im pretty sure he was there in 2004 when Todd Hamilton prevailed.
 
If that name is Sergio Garcia or Adam Scott or some other player fans have been waiting to claim a maiden major title, some will say theyre not truly major winners until they beat a field which includes Tiger.
 
Hunter Mahan feels this way.
 
Think of Adam Scott and Sergio, said Mahan. But if they do win, there will be an asterisk because Tiger wasn't there. They're going to be the Houston Rockets of the mid-90s when they won back-to-back titles after Michael Jordan retired.
 
Justin Rose shares that attitude.
 
If I was to win the British Open thered be an asterisk next to it: Tiger Woods not in field. You know what I mean? Rose has said.
 
Obviously, Tiger affects a field when he competes, particularly in a major championship. The fact that he wont be at Royal Birkdale means that no one has to search to find his name on the yellow score board, and maybe it frees up certain players to focus on their own games and not worry about what hes doing (see Els).
 
But a major win is a major win, and a major champion should be regarded as such without attaching a big but .
 
Upon winning THE PLAYERS Championship, Sergio Garcia said that he wanted to thank Tiger for not being there. There might have been some truth to that, but the statement was made mostly in jest.
 
Does anyone diminish Garcias victory because he didnt have to beat Tiger? Does it ever cross your mind that Garcia won a Tiger-less PLAYERS?
 
It shouldnt. And it shouldnt cross your mind when you talk about the eventual 2008 Open champion. Tiger not playing is a footnote for the tournament; not an asterisk of Scarlet Letter proportions made to wear by the winner.
 
As for contestants at Royal Birkdale worried that a possible triumph might forever be tainted by Tigers absence, here are two more words for you:
 
Go home.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Open Championship
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
  • Getty Images

    Goat visor propels Na to Colonial lead

    By Will GrayMay 25, 2018, 1:29 am

    Jason Dufner officially has some company in the headwear free agency wing of the PGA Tour.

    Like Dufner, Kevin Na is now open to wear whatever he wants on his head at tournaments, as his visor sponsorship with Titleist ended earlier this month. He finished T-6 at the AT&T Byron Nelson in his second tournament as a free agent, and this week at the Fort Worth Invitational he's once again wearing a simple white visor with a picture of a goat.

    "I bought it at The Players Championship for $22 with the 30 percent discount that they give the Tour players," Na told reporters. "It's very nice."

    Perhaps a change in headwear was just what Na needed to jumpstart his game. Last week's result in Dallas was his first top-35 finish in his last six events dating back to February, and he built upon that momentum with an 8-under 62 to take a one-shot lead over Charley Hoffman after the first round at Colonial Country Club.

    While many sports fans know the "GOAT" acronym to stand for "Greatest Of All Time," it's a definition that the veteran Na only learned about earlier this year.

    "I do social media, but they kept calling Tiger the GOAT. I go, 'Man, why do they keep calling Tiger the GOAT? That's just mean,'" Na said. "Then I realized it meant greatest of all time. Thinking of getting it signed by Jack (Nicklaus) next week (at the Memorial)."

    Marc Dull (Florida State Golf Association)

    Golden: Dull rude, caddie 'inebriated' at Florida Mid-Am

    By Ryan LavnerMay 25, 2018, 1:03 am

    Jeff Golden has offered more detail on what transpired at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship, writing in a long statement on Twitter that Marc Dull’s caddie was “inebriated” before he allegedly sucker-punched Golden in the face.

    In a story first reported by GolfChannel.com, Charlotte County Police responded to a call May 13 after Golden claimed that he’d been assaulted by his opponent’s caddie in the parking lot of Coral Creek Club, where he was competing in the Mid-Am finals. Golden told police that the caddie, Brandon Hibbs, struck him because of a rules dispute earlier in the round. Hibbs denied any involvement, and police found no evidence of an attack.

    Golden posted a 910-word statement on the alleged incident on his Twitter account on Thursday night. He said that he wanted to provide more detail because “others have posed some valid questions about the series of events that led to me withdrawing” from what was an all-square match with two holes to play.

    Golden wrote that both Dull and Hibbs were rude and disruptive during the match, and that “alcohol appeared to be influencing [Hibbs’] behavior.”

    Dull, who caddies at Streamsong Resort in Florida, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    “I’ve never seen an opposing caddie engage in so much conversation with a competitor,” Golden wrote. “On the eighth hole I had become extremely frustrated when my opponent and caddie were talking and moving. I expressed my disappointment with their etiquette to the rules official in our group.”

    On the ninth hole, Golden informed the official that he believed Hibbs had broken the rules by offering advice on his putt. Golden won the hole by concession to move 2 up at the turn, and Hibbs removed himself from the match and returned to the clubhouse.

    Golden wrote that after the penalty, the match “turned even nastier, with more negative comments from my opponent on the 10th tee.” He added that he conceded Dull’s 15-foot birdie putt on No. 10 because he was “sick of the abuse from my opponent, and I wanted the match to resemble what you would expect of a FSGA final.”

    Though there were no witnesses to the alleged attack and police found little evidence, save for “some redness on the inside of [Golden’s] lip,” Golden wrote that the inside of his mouth was bleeding, his face was “throbbing” and his hand was also injured from bracing his fall. X-rays and CT scans over the past week all came back negative, he said.

    Golden reiterated that he was disappointed with the FSGA’s decision to accept his concession in the final match. He had recommended that they suspend the event and resume it “at a later time.”

    “The FSGA has one job, and that’s to follow the Rules of Golf,” Golden wrote. “Unfortunately, there’s no rule for an inebriated ‘ex-caddie’ punching a player in a match-play rain delay with no witnesses.”

    Asked last week about his organization’s alcohol policy during events, FSGA executive director Jim Demick said that excessive consumption is “highly discouraged, but it falls more broadly under the rules of etiquette and player behavior.”

    Dull, 32, was back in the news Wednesday, after he and partner Chip Brooke reached the finals of the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship. They lost to high schoolers Cole Hammer and Garrett Barber, 4 and 3.

    Getty Images

    D. Kang, M. Jutanugarn in four-way tie at Volvik

    By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:50 am

    ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Amy Olson crossed paths with her coach, Ron Stockton, on her walk to the 18th tee at the Volvik Championship.

    ''Make it another even $20,'' Stockton said.

    The coach was already prepared to give his client $35 for making seven birdies - $5 each - and wanted to take her mind off the bogey she just had at 17.

    Olson closed the first round with a 6-under 66, putting her into the lead she ended up sharing later Thursday with Moriya Jutanugarn , Caroline Masson and Danielle Kang.

    Do small, cash incentives really help a professional golfer?

    ''Absolutely,'' said Olson, who graduated from North Dakota State with an accounting degree. ''He'll tell you I'm a little bit of a hustler there.''

    Olson will have to keep making birdies - and petty cash - to hold her position at Travis Pointe Country Club.

    Jessica Korda, Minjee Lee, Nasa Hataoka, Lindy Duncan, Morgan Pressel, Megan Khang and Jodi Ewart Shadoff were a stroke back at 67 and six others were to shots back.

    Ariya Jutanugarn, the Kingsmill Championship winner last week in Virginia, opened with a 69.

    The Jutanugarn sisters are Korda are among six players with a chance to become the LPGA Tour's first two-time winner this year.

    Moriya Jutanugarn won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles.

    ''What I feel is more relaxed now,'' she said. ''And, of course I like looking forward for my next one.''

    Olson, meanwhile, is hoping to extend the LPGA Tour's streak of having a new winner in each of its 12 tournaments this year.


    Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


    She knows how to win. It just has been a while since it has happened.

    Olson set an NCAA record with 20 wins, breaking the mark set by LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, but has struggled to have much success since turning pro in 2013.

    She has not finished best finish was a tie for seventh and that was four years ago. She was in contention to win the ANA Inspiration two months ago, but an even-par 72 dropped her into a tie for ninth place.

    If the North Dakota player wins the Volvik Championship, she will earn a spot in the U.S. Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama. If Olson finishes second or lower in the 144-player field, she will enjoy an off week with her husband, Grant, who coaches linebackers at Indiana State.

    ''I'll make the best of it either way,'' she said.

    Olson was at her best in the opening round on the front nine, closing it with four birdies in a six-hole stretch. Her ball rolled just enough to slowly drop in the cup for birdie on the par-3, 184-yard 13th. She had three birdies in five-hole stretch on the back, nearly making her second hole-in-one of the year at the par-3, 180-yard 16th. A short putt gave her a two-stroke lead, but it was cut to one after pulling and misreading a 6-foot putt to bogey the 17th.

    Even if she doesn't hold on to win the tournament, Olson is on pace to have her best year on the LPGA Tour. She is No. 39 on the money list after finishing 97th, 119th, 81st and 80th in her first four years.

    ''Two years ago, I started working with Ron Stockton and whenever you make a change, it doesn't show up right away,'' Olson said. ''That first year was tough, but we've turned a corner and I've just found a lot of consistency in the last year. And, it's a lot of fun to go out there and play golf a little more stress free.''

    Stockton helped her stay relaxed, walking along the ropes during her morning round.

    ''Maybe some people feel a little more pressure when their coach is there,'' she said. ''I'm like, 'Great. If he sees the mistake, he knows what can go wrong and we can go fix it.' So, I like having his eyes on me.''

    Getty Images

    Club pro part of 6-way tie atop Sr. PGA

    By Associated PressMay 25, 2018, 12:04 am

    BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Nevada club professional Stuart Smith shot a 5-under 66 on Thursday for a share of the first-round lead in the Senior PGA Championship.

    Smith closed his morning round with a double bogey on the par-4 18th, and Scott McCarron, Tim Petrovic, Wes Short Jr., Barry Lane and Peter Lonard matched the 66 in the afternoon.

    One of 41 club pros in the field at Harbor Shores for the senior major, Smith is the director of golf at Somersett Country Club in Reno.


    Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


    McCarron won the Senior Players Championship last year for his first senior major.

    Defending champion Bernhard Langer is skipping the event to attend son Jason's high school graduation, and Steve Stricker is playing the PGA Tour event in Texas.