With all eyes on Arizona for this week’s Super Bowl, the Waste Management Phoenix Open proves to be a compelling prelude with or without Tiger Woods, while Robert Allenby pines for answers ... just not from the media.
Super stop. Perhaps the “greatest show on grass” isn’t your brand of vodka, but there is no denying the reach of this week’s stop at TPC Scottsdale.
In tandem with Sunday’s Super Bowl, which will be played about 30 miles down the road at the University of Phoenix Stadium, the event finds itself at the epicenter of the sports universe.
The convergence of Sunday’s big game with Tiger Woods' and Phil Mickelson’s presence in the field was expected to generate record attendance at an event that rarely struggles to fill seats.
For a sport that largely tries to avoid the vast shadow cast by the NFL, the week’s festivities are a perfect combination of sport and entertainment.
Captain curiosity. While the PGA of America still appears a few meetings shy of naming the 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, the race for the ’16 European captain’s chair also seems to be heating up.
While Darren Clarke appeared to be the front-runner for next year’s matches, word surfaced last week from the Continent that Miguel Angel Jimenez is mounting a late charge.
“At the moment it would look as if it’s down to two of us, between Miguel and myself,” Clark told the Irish Golf Desk. “I’m sure whoever the committee decides will do a great job.”
There had been some who considered Jimenez’s limited English a liability, but it seems the selection committee has other ideas.
Cut Line doesn’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves, but just imagine how entertaining the matches will be with Jimenez on one sideline and Fred Couples on the other – cigars and Merlot for everyone.
Tweet of the week: @RyanPalmerPGA (Ryan Palmer) “Ready for a fun day (at the Waste Management Phoenix Open). Twelve lucky fans on 16 get a beer on me today. Yes, ball wrapped in a $10 bill.”
For his effort Palmer enjoyed a bit of good karma, opening his week with a 64 for the first-round lead.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
The cost of justice. Rory McIlroy has tried to sidestep inevitable questions about his upcoming trial against his former manager, but this week in Dubai the world No. 1 conceded that the proceedings are taking a toll.
“It’s not something that I would want anyone to go through,” McIlroy said. “It’s a very sort of tedious and nasty process ... Yeah, look, I’m going to be heading to the States regardless with it off my mind and not having to deal with it or think about it. That will be it.”
For McIlroy this is a principled stand, but at what cost? He may save himself millions of dollars in commission fees but if he costs himself a green jacket will it have been worth it?
Tiger 4.0h! It’s too early to draw any real conclusions. It certainly seems a tad premature to use the “Y” word (yips), yet that was the consensus among many observers after Woods posted his worst round as a professional (82) and missed the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open on Friday.
Like at December’s Hero World Challenge, Woods’ short game was wildly substandard in his first official Tour start under the Chris Como program. While his ball-striking, and particularly his increased swing speed, was encouraging, there is no way to sugar-coat an 82 that left the former world No. 1 last in the field of 132 players.
Despite his pedestrian start to the Como era, it’s still best to avoid snap judgments. Golf is, after all, a game that defies instant analysis; but a few more weeks like this and Como will discover that some honeymoons can be surprisingly short.
Tweet of the week II: @KyleThompsonPGA (Kyle Thompson) “I battled the putting yips in 2012 on the PGA Tour and understand what Tiger is facing. It’s not something I’d wish upon my worst enemy.”
Robert Allenby. The Australian returned to action this week at TPC Scottsdale and promptly called his own news conference to ask the media to let investigators do their job unraveling an incident that occurred on Jan. 16. Never mind that it was an incident he promptly told the world about via the media on Jan. 18.
“I understand the way the media works,” Allenby said on Tuesday. “You know, at the end of the day, what's happened has happened. The police will come out with the right story, so please, let them do their job, don't get in the way of them, and everything will be great.”
The Australian was angry with the media for attempting to unravel what happened during his harrowing 2 1/2-hour odyssey on Jan. 16 in Honolulu, when he told police he was kidnapped, robbed, beaten and thrown from the trunk of a car.
“What has been blown out of proportion a little bit is I was a victim, and all of a sudden you're putting all the blame on me,” he said.
Allenby is correct, he is a victim. Someone took his wallet, and phone, and has run up some $25,000 in fraudulent charges, according to Allenby. The rest of his story remains a mystery that Allenby, of all people, should want unraveled regardless of who is piecing the night together.