Coulda Woulda Shoulda

By Rex HoggardDecember 2, 2009, 6:32 am
Chevron World ChallengeTHOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – The room was empty, save for the random busy work of tournament week. It was 1:45 p.m. (PT) and what should have been the center of the golf universe, if not the apex of an intense 15 minutes, was as sparse as Charlie Wies’ head coaching credentials.

Instead of surreal, the scene was subdued. Thirty seats – as if that would have been enough for the fourth estate circus that would have descended on this posh community 45 minutes north of LAX – sat empty. A single microphone remained silent. The cart barn turned media center at Sherwood Country Club, the place that just over 13 hours earlier had a “ground zero” feel to it, suddenly was cold and quiet.

What could have been. What should have been.
Tiger Woods billboard
A billboard promotes a Tiger Woods return that won't be happening. (Getty Images)
No, we’re not talking about a potential Tiger Woods mea culpa. Truth is that wasn’t going to happen this week in these California hills or in two months amid the California hills just south of here when he likely returns for the 2010 season at Torrey Pines. To Woods, privacy is much more than simply a name etched into the back of a yacht.

Padraig Harrington, perhaps the PGA Tour’s most forthright, offered the best, if somewhat ambiguous, comments on the fender bender that rocked the sports world last week and Woods’ subsequent withdrawal from this week’s Chevron World Challenge.

“I’m like every other person. You get drawn into it. We are intrigued by other people’s lives I guess,” Harrington said. “But I’ve been on the other side and you realize how far from the truth you can get in situations like this.”

But this “situation,” as it applies to an event that stands above all others during the game’s “silly season,” is that for the second consecutive year the host with the most will not be playing for his own trophy.

A season that should have been celebrated at Sherwood, if not for Grand Slam accomplishments than for consistency and tenacity given the uncertainty of Woods’ return from knee surgery, will now come and go with all the intensity of . . . well, a Skins Game.

Sure there are world ranking points on offer, a first for an event not offering official winnings. Sure there are 14 of the top 25 players in the world to take Woods’ place, but as players marched in and out of the converted cart barn there was just one question that anyone seemed interested in asking.

“Want to know what they are going to ask you?” Harrington smiled at Lee Westwood as he made his way to the interview room.

Will Woods be missed this week?

“I think there will be a lot of disappointed people,” Westwood said. “I’m sure Tiger Woods himself will be disappointed. An event means a bit more when he’s playing.”

There was a measure of closure for Woods on Tuesday. The Florida Highway Patrol pulled the plug on its investigation of the car crash that has turned Orlando’s Isleworth community into a punch bowl.

“It was a four-helicopter day at Isleworth,” said fellow Isleworth resident John Cook of last Friday’s media frenzy at the gated community.

Never has there been so many talking about so little. Careless driving, a ticket and $164 in fines are the answer to the strangest episodes.

For the folks at Sherwood, there will be a tournament played this week, or so the rumor goes.

Maybe it’s best Woods’ injuries forced him to skip the Chevron, otherwise a stellar event for a first-class charity would have been background noise to a media buzz that would make cicadas sound angelic.

According to tournament organizers there are normally about 150 requests for media credentials at the Chevron. That number was doubled for this week’s event prior to Woods’ Monday WD. But on Tuesday, the converted cart barn was more than half empty, or half full depending on your point of view.

Officials offered refunds to ticket holders, and tournament director Greg McLaughlin said 2 to 3 percent normally cash in on those types of rebate offers. Given the intensity of this week’s gathering, that may be a low estimate.

Chevron is now 0-for-2 in the Tiger lottery. The company took over title sponsorship last year when the most famous left knee in the game was still mending. Now this.

“Chevron is very supportive,” McLaughlin said. “Clearly they would have rather he be in the field but they respect his decision.”

This time Woods is again on the mend from his injuries sustained during last Friday’s car crash, to say nothing of the blows he continues to take in the mainstream and entertainment media, and the converted cart barn is quiet.

The golf world has been dragged into something entirely foreign and the Chevron is collateral damage. A refugee of circumstances.

All that remains now is an empty interview room. What could have been. What should have been.
American Junior Golf Association

Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

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McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.

“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.