Misery Loves Company

By Randall MellAugust 12, 2010, 2:48 am

2010 PGA ChampionshipSHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Colin Montgomerie is suspiciously eager to see Tiger Woods make the American Ryder Cup team.

Montgomerie said Wednesday that it will be a “bigger, better event” with Woods, but you can’t help wondering if this might be a case of misery loving company with gossip tabloids poised to pounce on both men in the buildup to the international team event.

Montgomerie looked positively miserable when he was asked uncomfortable questions about personal woes early in the Ryder Cup captains' news conference at the PGA Championship.

Golf.com reported Wednesday that Montgomerie has won an injunction in British courts to prevent an ex-girlfriend from revealing details about their relationship. The news organization reported that Montgomerie sought the order to stop the publication of stories about his relationship with former model Paula Tagg, whom he dated in 2006.

The injunction prevents Tagg from revealing “the private details of a personal, intimate and sexual relationship” between the two. The order prevents the publication of information “concerning acts of a sexual nature” or “any such information recorded in the form of a photograph or still image or moving images.” It also bans Tagg from revealing whether such photographs or images even exist.

Asked about the existence of an injunction Wednesday, Montgomerie was emphatic in his response.

“I can categorically say that there’s no injunction against News of the World,” he said. “I’m really not going to discuss this any further.”

Later, he was asked if there was an injunction against Tagg.

“Excuse me, I’m here to talk about the Ryder Cup, OK,” Montgomerie said. “So please, no further questions on that or any other subject regarding my personal life.”

That’s a snapshot of what Montgomerie is facing as captain with the Ryder Cup seven weeks away.

Personal woes loom as an ugly haze over the European captain with the team coming together in the next three weeks.

“I know a lot of you are having a lot of fun right now at my expense,” Montgomerie said when asked about CBS analyst David Feherty’s comments Tuesday about the injunction during Dan Patrick’s nationally syndicated radio show.

The comment prompted a followup as to whether Montgomerie’s prospective team is having fun at his expense, too.

“None at all,” he said. “I’ve spoken to a number of players, and there’s no issue at all.”

We haven’t even gotten to American captain Corey Pavin’s dust up Wednesday over whether he did or didn’t tell Golf Channel’s Jim Gray that he will make Tiger Woods a captain’s pick if Woods doesn’t qualify for the team, but you’ve got more than a taste for the fog stifling the air in front of this Ryder Cup.

These are personal issues that many will find distasteful aired publicly, but they threaten Montgomerie professionally. His reputation as a player is tied so intricately to the Ryder Cup.

He’s a European Ryder Cup legend. Though he never won a major championship, never won a PGA Tour event, his star shines brightly overseas, where he won 31 European Tour events and led the continent to five Ryder Cup victories in his eight appearances. He’s 20-9-7 in Ryder Cup matches and undefeated in singles (6-0-2).

There’s got to be enormous pressure on Montgomerie to win this Ryder Cup.

His team, by his own admission, is a powerhouse on paper, a heavy favorite over the Americans, who haven’t won on European soil since 1993. Four European players among the top 20 in the world rankings are outside the qualifying standard. Some Europeans with hot hands may not even make the team, that’s how strong they’re looking.

“It’s the first time that a European captain has had such a strong team that hasn’t quite qualified yet,” Montgomerie said. “I’m going to have to leave out winners this year, and this is possibly the first time any European captain has had to do that.

“It’s a headache, and it’s a nice headache to have.”

But there’s that larger headache that threatens to create more tabloid fodder.

In May, a newspaper published a story alleging Montgomerie had an affair with a former girlfriend, Joanne Baldwin, during his marriage to his second wife, Gaynor Knowles. Montgomerie released a statement apologizing for the “hurt I have caused to the ones I love so much” and saying he and his wife were “working through these problems.”

Montgomerie was divorced from his first wife in ’04. The relationship with Tagg was reported to be in ’06. He married Knowles, the widow of a furniture tycoon, in ’08.

All of this brings us back to Montgomerie’s eagerness to answer the question Pavin doesn’t want to answer.

Should Woods be a captain’s pick if he doesn’t qualify for the American team?

With Pavin curiously looking on, Montgomerie was asked just that by a reporter Wednesday.

“That’s a very difficult, dangerous and undiplomatic question,” Montgomerie said. “But, of course, I would pick him.”

Notably, Montgomerie’s interest in whether Woods will play the Ryder Cup dates back to before Montgomerie’s own most recent personal woes came out. In a story Montgomerie wrote for the Telegraph six months ago, he spelled out his thoughts:

“Turning up at Celtic Manor could be one of the hardest things Tiger ever does. He won’t worry about hitting the ball, but he will worry about how the wives of the other players will react to him.

“Some of them will be friends with Elin and they will sympathise with her anger and pain. Some of them might find it hard to welcome Tiger back into the group. I’m sure it is something that the American captain, Corey Pavin, will be giving a lot of thought to.

“I am speaking from some experience here. When I played in the 2004 Ryder Cup I had just gone through a difficult time in my personal life. I wasn’t sure how things would be. I was on my own. I didn’t know how everyone would react.”

Montgomerie is back in the same boat wondering how folks will react, a boat he might find comfort sharing with Woods.

We aren’t sure why Montgomerie’s so eager to see Woods make the trip to Wales. He subtly hinted that it might be the fact that the American team won without Woods. He was clearly trying to be funny.

Whatever Montgomerie’s reason, he appears more eager than anyone to see Woods make the team.
Getty Images

Koepka takes edge over Thomas in race for world No. 1

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 5:50 am

Brooks Koepka got the inside track against Justin Thomas in their head-to-head battle this week for world No. 1.

Koepka shot 1-under 71 on Thursday at the CJ Cup, while Thomas shot 1-over 73.

Chez Reavie leads after 18 holes at Nine Bridges in Juju Island, South Korea, following a 4-under 68.

Koepka, currently world No. 3, needs to win this week or finish solo second [without Thomas winning] in order to reach the top spot in the rankings for the first time in his career. Thomas, currently No. 4, must win to reclaim the position he surrendered in June.

One week after 26 under par proved victorious in Malaysia, birdies weren’t as aplenty to begin the second leg of the PGA Tour’s Asian swing.


Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


In chilly, windy conditions, Koepka and Thomas set out alongside one another – with Sungjae Im (73) as the third – on the 10th hole. Koepka bogeyed his first hole of the day on his way to turning in even-par 36. Thomas was one worse, with two bogeys and a birdie.

On their second nine, Koepka was steady with two birdies and a bogey to reach red figures for the day.

Thomas, however, had two birdies and a double bogey on his inward half. The double came at the par-4 fourth, where he four-putted. He nearly made up those two strokes on his final hole, the par-5 ninth, when a wild approach shot [as you can see below] traversed the contours of the green and settled 6 feet from the hole. But Thomas missed the short eagle putt and settled for birdie.

Getty Images

Watch: Thomas' approach takes wild ride on CJ Cup green

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 5:17 am

Two over par with one hole to play in Round 1 of the CJ Cup, Justin Thomas eyed an eagle at the par-5 ninth [his 18th].

And he nearly got it, thanks to his ball beautifully navigating the curves of the green.

Thomas hit a big draw for his second shot and his ball raced up the green's surface, towards the back, where it caught the top of ridge and funneled down to within 6 feet of the hole.



Unfortunately for Thomas, the defending champion, he missed the eagle putt and settled for birdie and a 1-over 73.

Getty Images

Davies sweeps senior majors with Sr. LPGA Championship

By Associated PressOctober 17, 2018, 10:45 pm

FRENCH LICK, Ind. -- Laura Davies won the Senior LPGA Championship on Wednesday at chilly and windy French Lick Resort to sweep the two senior major events of the year.

Davies birdied the final hole for a 2-under 70 and a four-stroke victory over Helen Alfredsson and Silvia Cavalleri. The 55-year-old Englishwoman won the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open in July at Chicago Golf Club. In March in Phoenix, she tied for second behind Inbee Park in the LPGA's Founders Cup.

''I wish there were more of them to play,'' Davies said about the two senior majors. ''This was a real treat because I've never put three good rounds together on this course. With the wind today and the challenging layout, I think 2 under par was a really good score.''


Full-field scores from the Senior LPGA Championship


Davies led wire to wire, finishing at 8-under 208 on The Pete Dye Course. She birdied three of the four par 5s in the final round, making an 8-footer on No. 18.

Alfredsson also shot 70, and Cavalleri had a 71. Michele Redman was fourth at 1 under after a 73. Brandie Burton, two strokes behind Davies after a second-round 66, shot 77 to finish fifth at 1 over.

Juli Inkster followed an 80 with a 73 to tie for 12th at 6 over.

Davies earned $90,000 for her 86th worldwide professional victory. She won four regular majors.

Getty Images

For Korean women, golf is a double-edged sword

By Randall MellOctober 17, 2018, 10:30 pm

There is always a story behind the tears.

For In Gee Chun, it’s a story about more than her victory Sunday at the KEB Hana Bank Championship.

It’s about the other side of the Korean passion that runs so deep in women’s golf and that makes female players feel like rock stars.

It’s about the unrelenting pressure that comes with all that popularity.

Chun explained where her tears came from after her victory. She opened up about the emotional struggle she has faced trying to live up to the soaring expectations that come with being a young Korean superstar.

Her coach, Won Park, told GolfChannel.com on Wednesday that there were times over the last year that Chun wanted to “run and hide from golf.” The pressure on her to end a two-year victory drought was mounting in distressing fashion.

Chun, 24, burst onto the world stage when she was 20, winning the U.S. Women’s Open before she was even an LPGA member. When she won the Evian Championship two years later, she joined Korean icon Se Ri Pak as the only players to win major championships as their first two LPGA titles.

Following up on those victories was challenging, with Chun feeling as if nothing short of winning was good enough to satisfy Korean expectations.

After the victory at Evian, Chun recorded six second-place finishes, runner-up finishes that felt like failures with questions growing back home over why she wasn’t closing out.

“There were comments that were quite vicious, that were very hard to take as a person and as a woman,” Chun said. “I really wanted to rise above that and not care about those comments, but I have to say, some of them lingered in my mind, and they really pierced my heart.”

Chun struggled going from the hottest star in South Korea to feeling like a disappointment. She slipped from No. 3 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings to No. 27 going into last week’s KEB Hana Bank Championship. Maybe more significantly, she slipped from being the highest ranked Korean in the world to where she wasn’t even among the top 10 Koreans anymore.

“Some fans and the Korean golf media were hard on her, mostly on social media,” Park wrote GolfChannel.com in an email. “It caused her to start struggling with huge depression and socio phobia. She often wished to run away from golf and hide herself where there was no golf at all.”


Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


Socio phobia includes the fear of being scrutinized or judged by others, according to the Mayo Clinic’s definition of conditions.

Though critics of South Korea’s dominance have complained about the machine-like nature of some those country’s stars, we’ve seen quite a bit of emotion from South Koreans on big stages this year.

After Sung Hyun Park won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in July, the world No. 1 with the steely stare uncharacteristically broke into tears.

“This is the first time feeling this kind of emotion,” Park said back then. “It’s been a really tough year for me.”

It was the second of her three victories this season, a year in which she also has missed seven cuts.

“A lot of pressure builds up,” said David Jones, her caddie. “That’s just what happens when you’re that good, and you’re Korean.”

While American players admire the massive popularity Koreans enjoy in their homeland, they see what comes with it.

“Koreans really do elevate their women players, but at the same time, they put a ton of pressure on them,” American Cristie Kerr said. “There’s pressure on them to not only be good, but to be attractive, and to do the right things culturally.”

So Yeon Ryu felt the pressure to perform build as high as she has ever felt with Koreans trying to qualify for the Olympics two years ago. The competition to make the four-woman team was intense, with so many strong Koreans in the running.

“This just makes me crazy,” Ryu said back then. “The biggest thing is the Korean media. If someone is going to make the Olympics, they're a great player. But if somebody cannot make it, they're a really bad player.”

Ryu didn’t make that team, but she went on to share LPGA Rolex Player of the Year honors with Sung Hyun Park last year. She also won her second major championship and ascended to world No. 1.

LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park was under fire going to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. She was coming back from injury and there was growing criticism of her. She was hearing clamor to give up her spot to a healthy player, but she went on to win the gold medal.

“I almost cried on air,” said Na Yeon Choi, a nine-time LPGA winner who was doing analysis for Korean TV. “Inbee had so much pressure on her.”

After the Koreans won the UL International Crown two weeks ago, there was as much relief as joy in their ranks. Though viewed as the dominant force in women’s golf, they watched the Spaniards crowned as the “best golfing nation” in the inaugural matches in 2014 and then watched the Americans gain the honor in 2016. There was pressure on the Koreans to win the crown at home.

“There were some top Koreans who didn’t want to play, because there was going to be so much pressure,” Kerr said.

Chun got the nod to join the team this year after Inbee Park announced she was stepping aside, to allow another Korean a chance to represent their country. Chun was the third alternate, with Sei Young Kim and Jin Young Ko saying they were passing to honor previous KLPGA commitments.

Chun went on to become the star of the UL International Crown. She was undefeated, the only player to go 4-0 in the matches.

“In Gee made up her mind to devote herself to the team and played with an extremely high level of passion and focus,” Won Park wrote in an email interview. “She took the International Crown as a war in her heart. She did not play, but she `fought’ against the course, not against the opposing team . . . During all four winning matches, she gradually found her burning passion deep in her heart and wanted to carry it to the LPGA KEB Hana Bank.”

Park explained he has been working with Chun to change her focus, to get her to play for herself, instead of all the outside forces she was feeling pressure to please.

“She was too depressed to listen for a year and a half,” Park wrote.

So that’s where all Chun’s tears came from after she won the KEB Hana Bank.

“All the difficult struggles that I have gone through the past years went before me, and all the faces of the people who kept on believing in me went by, and so I teared up,” Chun said.

Park said Chun’s focus remains a work in progress.

“Although it will take some more time to fully recover from her mental struggle, she at least got her wisdom and confidence back and belief in her own game,” Park wrote. “This is never going to be easy for a 24-year-old young girl, but I believe she will continue to fight through.”