Yani's year

By Randall MellNovember 25, 2011, 2:49 pm

Yani Tseng’s shadow moved over Suzann Pettersen.

You could not see it, but you could feel it with Pettersen assessing her year going into the season-ending CME Group Titleholders Championship in Orlando, Fla., last week.

Pettersen won three times in 2011, twice in LPGA events and once on the Ladies European Tour. She’s No. 2 in the Rolex World Rankings. She was a Solheim Cup star, helping the Euros win for the first time in eight years.

Still, there was no escaping Tseng’s towering presence in Pettersen’s final evaluation.

“It’s been a very nice year, but when Yani has won seven events, it makes you feel not so great,” Pettersen said.

Tseng’s shadow fell over the entire women’s game with her rise as its dominant, new force. With 11 worldwide titles, the seven LPGA titles, including two majors, Tseng separated herself from the pack that was battling to succeed the retired Lorena Ochoa as the game’s best female player.

There were other highlights in 2011, of course:

• The Europeans didn’t just win the Solheim Cup, they transformed it. They made it matter more than it’s ever mattered with their dramatic late charge to upset the Americans at Killeen Castle in Ireland. Pettersen, Caroline Hedwall and Azahara Munoz engineered late comebacks that made for the most exciting final 30 minutes in Solheim Cup history. The Euro victory was the continent’s first since 2003.

• American Stacy Lewis broke through to make her first LPGA title a major championship, staring down Tseng in a final-round pairing to win the Kraft Nabisco in March.

• Lexi Thompson became the youngest winner in LPGA history, claiming the Navistar Classic in September at 16 years, 7 months and 8 days old. She made more news shortly after when LPGA commissioner Mike Whan granted her a waiver of the tour rule requiring members be at least 18, opening the door for Thompson to claim an exemption to become a full-time LPGA member next year.

Karrie Webb won the inaugural RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, a unique event where tour pros played for designated charities, donating all their winnings to causes special to them. The week – the invention of second-year commissioner Whan – was a tribute to the women who created the tour 61 years ago. In a special setting, three of the founders – Louise Suggs, Shirley Spork and Marilynn Smith – sat in a box beside the 18th green at Marriott’s Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix greeting players as they finished their rounds.

• Pettersen (Sybase Match Play, Safeway Classic), Webb (HSBC Women’s, RR Donnelley Founders Cup) and Brittany Lincicome (Shoprite, CN Canadian Women’s Open) each won two LPGA events.

So Yeon Ryu defeated Hee Kyung Seo in a U.S. Women’s Open playoff at the Broadmoor featuring two more rising young South Korean stars.

• Commissioner Whan made perhaps the boldest stroke of the year, announcing the Evian Masters in France would become the LPGA’s fifth major championship beginning in 2013.

Still, there was no trumping Tseng in 2011.

When the year opened, Tseng was No. 5 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. She didn’t wait long to make her move, winning her first three worldwide starts, the Taifong Ladies Open in Taiwan, the Women’s Australian Open and the Australian Ladies Masters. She seized the No. 1 ranking a week before the LPGA season opened and then won the LPGA opener, the Honda Thailand.

The year ends with Tseng at No. 1 having doubled the world-ranking points of Pettersen, her nearest pursuer.

Tseng’s dominance could be seen between the ropes as well as in the season-ending stats. Tseng won her second consecutive Rolex Player of the Year award and her first Vare Trophy for low scoring average (69.66). She also led the tour in birdies (4.7 per round), driving distance (269.2) and greens in regulation (75.1 percent).

Opponents noticed a difference even in Tseng’s body language this year.

Na Yeon Choi said she can see the growing confidence in the way Tseng walks now.

“She walks like this, with chest like this,” Choi said, throwing her shoulders back and chest out. “I can see her confidence, when she’s doing her routine. She smiles when she walks to the ball, in her setup. It’s kind of scary.”

Tseng might have smiled more than any other player this past year, but she left a lot of frowns in her wake with fellow tour pros like Pettersen trying to figure out how to catch her.

Getty Images

Miller to retire from broadcast booth in 2019

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 2018, 9:14 pm

After nearly 30 years in the broadcast booth, Johnny Miller is ready to hang up his microphone.

Following a Hall of Fame playing career that included a pair of major titles, Miller has become one of the most outspoken voices in the game as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports. But at age 71 he has decided to retire from broadcasting following the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

“The call of being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling,” Miller told GolfChannel.com. “The parents are trying to make a living, and grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer that there is a time and a season for everything.”

Miller was named lead analyst for NBC in 1990, making his broadcast debut at what was then known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic. He still remained competitive, notably winning the 1994 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at age 46, but made an indelible mark on the next generation of Tour pros with his frank and candid assessment of the action from some of golf’s biggest events.

Miller’s broadcasting career has included 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, nine Presidents Cups, three Open Championships and the 2016 Olympics. While he has teamed in the booth with Dan Hicks for the past 20 years, Miller’s previous on-air partners included Bryant Gumbel, Charlie Jones, Jim Lampley and Dick Enberg.

His farewell event will be in Phoenix Jan. 31-Feb. 3, at a tournament he won in back-to-back years in 1974-75.

“When it comes to serving golf fans with sharp insight on what is happening inside the ropes, Johnny Miller is the gold standard,” said NBC lead golf producer Tommy Roy. “It has been an honor working with him, and while it might not be Johnny’s personal style, it will be fun to send him off at one of the PGA Tour’s best parties at TPC Scottsdale.”

Miller was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998 after a playing career that included wins at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont and The Open in 1976 at Royal Birkdale. Before turning pro, he won the 1964 U.S. Junior Amateur and was low amateur at the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic, where he tied for eighth at age 19.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Miller now lives in Utah with his wife, Linda, and annually serves as tournament host of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in Napa, Calif.

Getty Images

Randall's Rant: Tiger vs. Phil feels like a ripoff

By Randall MellOctober 15, 2018, 7:45 pm

Usually, you have to buy something before you feel like you were ripped off.

The wonder in the marketing of Tiger vs. Phil and “The Match” is how it is making so many people feel as if they are getting ripped off before they’ve shelled out a single penny for the product.

Phil Mickelson gets credit for this miscue.

Apparently, the smartest guy in the room isn’t the smartest marketing guy.

He was a little bit like that telemarketer who teases you into thinking you’ve won a free weekend getaway, only to lead you into the discovery that there’s a shady catch, with fine print and a price tag.

There was something as slippery as snake oil in the original pitch.

In Mickelson’s eagerness to create some excitement, he hinted back during The Players in May about the possibility of a big-money, head-to-head match with Woods. A couple months later, he leaked more details, before it was ready to be fully announced.

So while there was an initial buzz over news of the Thanksgiving weekend matchup, the original pitch set up a real buzzkill when it was later announced that you were only going to get to see it live on pay-per-view.

The news landed with a thud but no price tag. We’re still waiting to see what it’s going to cost when these two meet at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, but anything that feels even slightly inflated now is going to further dampen the original enthusiasm Mickelson created.

Without Woods or Mickelson putting up their own money, this $9 million winner-take-all event was always going to feel more like a money grab than real competition.

When we were expecting to see it on network or cable TV, we didn’t care so much. Tiger's and Phil’s hands would have felt as if they were reaching into corporate America’s pockets. Now, it feels as if they’re digging into ours.

Last week, there was more disappointing news, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that tickets won’t be sold to the public, that the match at Shadow Creek will only be open to select sponsors and VIPs.

Now there’s a larger insult to the common fan, who can’t help but feel he isn’t worthy or important enough to gain admittance.

Sorry, but that’s how news of a closed gate landed on the heels of the pay-per-view news.

“The Match” was never going to be meaningful golf in any historical sense.

This matchup was never going to rekindle the magic Tiger vs. Phil brought in their epic Duel at Doral in ’05.

The $9 million was never going to buy the legitimacy a major championship or PGA Tour Sunday clash could bring.

It was never going to be more than an exhibition, with no lingering historical significance, but that was OK as quasi silly-season fare on TV on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23), the traditional weekend of the old Skins Game.

“The Match” still has a chance to be meaningful, but first and foremost as entertainment, not real competition. That’s what this was always going to be about, but now the bar is raised.

Pay per view does that.

“You get what you pay for” is an adage that doesn’t apply to free (or already-paid for) TV. It does to pay per view. Expectations go way up when you aren’t just channel surfing to a telecast. So the higher the price tag they end up putting on this showdown, the more entertaining this has to be.

If Phil brings his “A-Game” to his trash talking, and if Tiger can bring some clever repartee, this can still be fun. If the prerecorded segments wedged between shots are insightful, even meaningful in their ability to make us understand these players in ways we didn’t before, this will be worthwhile.

Ultimately, “The Match” is a success if it leaves folks who paid to see it feeling as if they weren’t as ripped off as the people who refused to pay for it. That’s the handicap a history of free golf on TV brings. Welcome to pay-per-view, Tiger and Phil.

Celia Barquin Arozamena Iowa State University athletics

Trial date set for drifter charged with killing Barquin Arozamena

By Associated PressOctober 15, 2018, 7:28 pm

AMES, Iowa – A judge has scheduled a January trial for a 22-year-old Iowa drifter charged with killing a top amateur golfer from Spain.

District Judge Bethany Currie ruled Monday that Collin Richards will stand trial Jan. 15 for first-degree murder in the death of Iowa State University student Celia Barquin Arozamena.

Richards entered a written not guilty plea Monday morning and waived his right to a speedy trial. The filing canceled an in-person arraignment hearing that had been scheduled for later Monday.

Investigators say Richards attacked Barquin on Sept. 17 while she was playing a round at a public course in Ames, near the university campus. Her body was found in a pond on the course riddled with stab wounds.

Richards faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

LeBron's son tries golf, and he might be good at everything

By Grill Room TeamOctober 15, 2018, 5:36 pm

LeBron James' son seems well on his way to a successful basketball career of his own. To wit:

View this post on Instagram

Finally got it down lol

A post shared by Bronny James (@bronnyjames.jr) on

But with just a little work, he could pass on trying to surpass his father and try to take on Tiger and Jack, instead.

Bronny posted this video to Instagram of him in sandals whacking balls off a mat atop a deck into a large body of water, which is the golfer's definition of living your best life.

View this post on Instagram

How far, maybe 400 #happygilmore

A post shared by Bronny James (@bronnyjames.jr) on

If you listen closely, at the end of the clip, you can just barely hear someone scream out for a marine biologist.