Command Performance

By Rex HoggardJune 20, 2010, 6:31 am

2010 U.S. OpenPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The game’s greatest closer is trying his hand at middle relief. To be clear, it’s not as though Tiger Woods’ Saturday beige will ever supplant his Sunday red in the hearts and minds of the faithful, but in the legacy of greatness the world No. 1 is making moving day matter.

He did it in 2008 at Torrey Pines, igniting the SoCal masses with a closing nine of 33 that set the stage for a dramatic Sunday which begat an even more compelling Monday. On Saturday he treated the NorCal galleries to an encore, scorching storied Pebble Beach’s final stretch to the tune of 31 strokes.

“It's a U.S. Open. You've got to keep plodding along, all the U.S. Opens, all the ones that I've won, you have to have a nice stretch of nine holes, and that's what I did today,” said Woods, looking much more like the guy who won the last national championship held adjacent Stillwater Cove than a guy suffering through 15 minutes of infamy.

Tiger Woods
Woods made a Saturday surge by posting a 5-under 66. (Getty Images)

But then Woods didn’t start his day like he had a divine nine in him. Bogey-bogey out of the gates under cool, sunny skies Woods found himself nine strokes adrift with 34 holes to play.

When he made the turn he was 4 over and just hopeful he could scratch his way back to even par. He did one better, playing his last eight holes in 5 under for a 66. It was quintessential Woods, fist pumps, fearless shots and unforgettable moments.

Flash back two years to another seaside California cathedral and another sun-splashed Saturday. At the turn on Saturday at Torrey Pines Woods was at even par and going nowhere fast. Nine holes, two eagles, multiple fist pumps and a closing 33 later a one-legged Woods was on his way to the history books.

Saturday at Pebble Beach was déjà vu. At the 17th hole Woods hit a curling putt with his back to the hole. Twenty minutes later he hit a shot with his head in the sand, or at least that was NBC analyst Johnny Miller’s call as Woods pulled 3-wood with his ball stymied by a Monterey pine some 260 yards from the 18th green. Both moments ended well.

Those who have wondered if Woods’ heart and head were in the game following his missed cut at Quail Hollow and withdrawal from The Players Championship got an answer courtesy a cut 3-wood to 20 feet. Miller called the effort a “crazy shot,” but then history is normally the ultimate arbiter between crazy and courageous.

With one vicious cut, Woods ignited the Monterey masses and maybe a career that has appeared on hold since Nov. 27.

“Come on,” Woods barked as his second shot sailed toward the picturesque final green. Come on has been the collective take on the comeback three tournaments in.

What appeared to be indifference at Quail Hollow had the look of intensity on Saturday at Pebble Beach. What could have been interpreted as pained confusion at TPC Sawgrass had a purpose as afternoon turned to early evening adjacent the famed Lodge.

“It's been a while. I hadn't played good enough for anyone to cheer for anything,” said Woods, who will begin the final turn of the 110th U.S. Open five strokes behind leader Dustin Johnson. “It was nice to actually put it together on the back nine and put myself right back in the championship. And everyone was just so excited and fired up that it was just a great atmosphere.”

There will be much talk over the next 24 hours about the most curious competitive cross Woods must bear, having never won a major from behind. But then he’s never had so much to prove.

If the last four majors in his quest to match Jack Nicklaus’ historic haul of 18 Grand Slam tilts truly are going to be the hardest, a bookend Pebble Beach Open could be the difference maker.

Woods will be 43 when the Open returns to Pebble Beach in 2019 and he will get at least two more cracks at St. Andrews before then. That’s good math for a player who may be just now entering his prime.

But that’s getting ahead of the task at hand, and Woods doesn’t do that.

Following his 66 on Friday Phil Mickelson talked about having fun and not wanting the championship to end. On Saturday Woods flashed his toothy grin more than we’ve seen since late last year. The Good Times Open seems to be having that effect on everyone.

On Friday, one longtime Tour swing coach who was watching Woods warm up was asked what he thought of the post-Hank Haney action? “He doesn’t need a swing coach, he needs a friend,” was the answer.

Or maybe all he needed was nine good holes.

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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."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

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, 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.

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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.''

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Watch: Na punctuates caddie tiff with hole-out

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 24, 2018, 11:10 pm

Microphones captured a fascinating and testy exchange between Kevin Na and his caddie, Kenny Harms, on Na's final hole of the first round of the Fort Worth Invitational on Thursday.

Na was in the right rough, 185 yards from the ninth green, which was guarded by water. He vacillated between a hybrid and an iron, but with either club he would have to hit "a 40-yard cut," as Harms termed it.

"Over the green's dead," Harms warned.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"It's not gonna go over the green, Kenny," Na replied.

Na finally settled on an iron and said to Harms, "As long as you're OK with this club."

"I'm not," Harms replied. "I'm not OK with either one of them."

"I'm going with this," Na ended the discussion.

He missed the green with his approach shot, but avoided the water. After taking a free drop away from the grandstand, he had 92 feet 3 inches to the cup and of course, holed the pitch shot for a birdie-3, a 62 and a one-shot lead at the end of the first round.