Double P Up Bob Hope Down

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2009, 5:00 pm
Bob Hope week is one of the toughest cuts to avoid all year on the PGA Tour. You have to go four rounds, make a ton of birdies and hope for the best to earn a check in the Coachella Valley. Even here at Cut Line we are feeling the pressure.

  • Tiger Woods:
  • The man has avoided political minefields almost as ably as he has sidestepped fairway bunkers and water hazards, but last week he changed course a bit and spoke at the We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration in Washington, D.C.
    Although Woods stayed well clear of any hot-button political issues in his speech, instead honoring the military and the families of those who serve, it was encouraging to see someone who wields so much social influence take part in such a historic event.
    Besides, as best we can figure, Woods will play Tour golf for five more years and collect his 20 or so major keepsakes before starting his own quest for the White House. A little inside-the-beltway stage time in January is good practice.

  • Pat Perez:
  • The Southern Californian once fumed over a headline in a national golf magazine, It said, Why is Pat Perez so angry? Perez seethed. Why am I so angry? Can you believe that?
    Truth is, Perez can be a tad angry, but he can also be very good on the golf course and in the community. The former was proven on Wednesday when he opened the 50th Bob Hope Classic with an 11-under 61 which could have easily been a 59. The latter came to mind last year as we walked Torrey Pines, Perezs childhood track, with the players father, Tony.
    He is so good with the kids. Its amazing to watch him, said Tony Perez, who runs the Pin Pals project which benefits underprivileged kids in San Diego and Operation: Game On for wounded veterans.
    Welcome to the softer side of Double P.

  • Tadd Fujikawa:
  • OK, so he faded on Sunday with an unsightly 73 to bring his total haul as a professional to $29,237. But you have to cheer the Hawaiian teens Sony Open odyssey regardless of finish or financial gain. The wee player with the whale-sized heart played his way through pre-qualifying, Monday qualifying and more pressure and expectations than should ever be cast on a 17-year-old.
    Todd Anderson, Fujikawas Sea Island (Ga.) Resort-based swing coach, said he wanted his pupil to focus on the mini-tours this year to build his confidence and hone his game. Good advice. Lets hope he doesnt follow the lead of that other teen-aged Hawaiian phenom and waste his time chasing sponsor exemptions and more Monday qualifying on Tour. Confidence is a commodity that shouldnt be taken for granted.

  • Flight Time:
  • It was a hook, in all honesty. A roping miss that sailed into the light rough ringing the 15th green at PGA Wests Palmer Course, bounced once and trundled some 50 feet into the cup for an unlikely hole-in-one and an unexpected door prize.
    Retired electronics manufacturer Andy Goldfarbs tee shot at the 15th was one of 88 strokes the 61-year-old took on Day 1 at the Bob Hope, but it was good enough to earn him a $50,000 credit toward flight time on a private Sentient Jet. Of course, $50K doesnt go real far when the going hourly rate on the companys smallest jet is $2,750. And that doesnt include taxes.
    The good news for Goldfarb? Most flights include an in-flight snack and there are no middle seats. The bad news? No word on whether Sentient was going to waive its $100,000 minimum deposit fee for membership.

  • Davis Love III:
  • The 20-time Tour winners name appeared on a ballot to chair this years Player Advisory Council opposite circuit quipster Paul Goydos. This years PAC chair ascends to the Tour Policy Board in 2010. Love, a board veteran, would certainly make a welcome return as a decision maker, but given the current economic situation he may want to take a dive in the chairmans race.
    They asked me to run for the board again and I said, Jeez, I was on the board when everything was good. Why do I want to be on it now? Everybody will be pointing fingers, Love said last month. I took a year off and look what happened.

  • Bob Hope Classic officials:
  • Weve covered the last four desert classics, a brief but telling line that stretches from Chad Campbell in 2005 to D.J. Trahan in 08, and still have not fully grasped the temporary lapse that prompted tournament officials to oust George Lopez as tournament host.
    The pre-Lopez years had the look and feel of a tournament on life support, while the Lopez era was full of life, A list celebs and a bright future. Officials wisely enlisted the services of Arnold Palmer for this years event, but were still flummoxed by Lopezs ouster.
    A well-tread Hope one-liner seems apropos: I was out in the garden all day yesterday. I ironed the lawn, smoothed out the grass, put every blade in its place . . . and I still missed the putt anyway.

  • European Ryder Cup captain selection committee II:
  • Seems we wasted a portion of this space last week lamenting the ongoing and convoluted process. Turns out we didnt even have the right cast of characters.
    Reports surfaced last week that European stalwart Colin Montgomerie rushed into the frontrunners spot to captain the 2010 team in Wales. Monty would liven up the proceedings, but it must be pointed out that the Scot can be affable or aloof, it all depends on his mood.
    Were still confused by the committees indifference to Sandy Lyle, who was described as having, one of the best golf minds in the game, by one longtime associate last week.
    Outspoken basketball analyst Stephen A. Smith has a signature line for this: Dont hate the player, hate the game.
    Email your thoughts to Rex Hoggard
    Getty Images

    Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'

    By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 3:35 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.

    Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.

    “I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.

    “It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”

    The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.

    “All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”

    Getty Images

    Koepka still has chip on his chiseled shoulder

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 3:06 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brooks Koepka prepared more for this Open than last year's.

    He picked up his clubs three times.

    That’s three more than last summer, when the only shots he hit between the summer Opens was during a commercial shoot for Michelob Ultra at TPC Sawgrass. He still tied for sixth at The Open a month later.

    This time, Koepka kept his commitment to play the Travelers, then hit balls three times between the final round in Hartford and this past Sunday, when he first arrived here at Carnoustie.

    Not that he was concerned, of course.

    Koepka’s been playing golf for nearly 20 years. He wasn’t about to forget to how to swing a club after a few weeks off.

    “It was pretty much the same thing,” he said Tuesday, during his pre-tournament news conference. “I shared it with one of my best friends, my family, and it was pretty much the same routine. It was fun. We enjoyed it. But I’m excited to get back inside the ropes and start playing again. I think you need to enjoy it any time you win and really embrace it and think about what you’ve done.”

    At Shinnecock Hills, Koepka became the first player in nearly 30 years to repeat as U.S. Open champion – a major title that helped him shed his undeserved reputation as just another 20-something talent who relies solely on his awesome power. In fact, he takes immense pride in his improved short game and putting inside 8 feet.

    “I can take advantage of long golf courses,” he said, “but I enjoy plotting my way around probably - more than the bombers’ golf courses - where you’ve got to think, be cautious sometimes, and fire at the center of the greens. You’ve got to be very disciplined, and that’s the kind of golf I enjoy.”

    Which is why Koepka once again fancies his chances here on the type of links that helped launch his career.

    Koepka was out of options domestically after he failed to reach the final stage of Q-School in 2012. So he packed his bags and headed overseas, going on a tear on the European Challenge Tour (Europe’s equivalent of the circuit) and earning four titles, including one here in Scotland. That experience was the most fun and beneficial part of his career, when he learned to win, be self-sufficient and play in different conditions.

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “There’s certain steps, and I embraced it,” Koepka said. “I think that’s where a lot of guys go wrong. You are where you are, and you have to make the best of it instead of just putting your head down and being like, 'Well, I should be on the PGA Tour.' Well, guess what? You’re not. So you’ve got to suck it up wherever you are, make the best of it, and keep plugging away and trying to win everything you can because, eventually, if you’re good enough, you will get out here.”

    Koepka has proved that he’s plenty good enough, of course: He’s a combined 20 under in the majors since the beginning of 2017, the best of any player during that span. But he still searches long and hard for a chip to put on his chiseled shoulder.

    In his presser after winning at Shinnecock, Koepka said that he sometimes feels disrespected and forgotten, at least compared to his more-ballyhooed peers. It didn’t necessarily bother him – he prefers to stay out of the spotlight anyway, eschewing a media tour after each of his Open titles – but it clearly tweaked him enough for him to admit it publicly.

    That feeling didn’t subside after he went back to back at the Open, either. On U.S. Open Sunday, ESPN’s Instagram page didn’t showcase a victorious Koepka, but rather a video of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. dunking a basketball.

    “He’s like 6-foot-2. He’s got hops – we all know that – and he’s got hands. So what’s impressive about that?” Koepka said. “But I always try to find something where I feel like I’m the underdog and put that little chip on my shoulder. Even if you’re No. 1, you’ve got to find a way to keep going and keep that little chip on.

    “I think I’ve done a good job of that. I need to continue doing that, because once you’re satisfied, you’re only going to go downhill. You try to find something to get better and better, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

    Now 28, Koepka has a goal of how many majors he’d like to win before his career is over, but he wasn’t about to share it.

    Still, he was adamant about one thing: “Right now I’m focused on winning. That’s the only thing I’ve got in my mind. Second place just isn’t good enough. I finished second a lot, and I’m just tired of it. Once you win, it kind of propels you. You have this mindset where you just want to keep winning. It breeds confidence, but you want to have that feeling of gratification: I finally did this. How cool is this?”

    So cool that Koepka can’t wait to win another one.

    Getty Images

    Despite results, Thomas loves links golf

    By Jay CoffinJuly 17, 2018, 2:48 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Despite poor results in two previous Open Championships, Justin Thomas contends that he has what it takes to be a good links player. In fact, he believes that he is a good links player.

    Two years ago at Royal Troon, Thomas shot 77 in the second round to tie for 53rd place. He was on the wrong side of the draw that week that essentially eliminated anyone from contention who played late Friday afternoon.

    Last year at Royal Birkdale, Thomas made a quintuple-bogey 9 on the par-4 sixth hole in the second round and missed the cut by two shots.

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “I feel like I’ve played more than two Opens, but I haven’t had any success here,” Thomas said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I feel like I am a good links player, although I don’t really have the results to show.”

    Although he didn’t mention it as a reason for success this week, Thomas is a much different player now than he was two years ago, having ascended to the No. 1 position in the world for a few weeks and now resting comfortably in the second spot.

    He also believes a high golf IQ, and the ability to shape different shots into and with the wind are something that will help him in The Open over the next 20 years.

    “I truly enjoy the creativity,” Thomas said. “It presents a lot of different strategies, how you want to play it, if you want to be aggressive, if you want to be conservative, if you want to attack some holes, wait on certain winds, whatever it might be. It definitely causes you to think.

    “With it being as firm as it is, it definitely adds a whole other variable to it.”

    Getty Images

    Reed's major record now a highlight, not hindrance

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 2:46 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The narrative surrounding Patrick Reed used to be that he could play well in the Ryder Cup but not the majors.

    So much for that.

    Reed didn’t record a top-10 in his first 15 starts in a major, but he took the next step in his career by tying for second at the 2017 PGA Championship. He followed that up with a breakthrough victory at the Masters, then finished fourth at the U.S. Open after a closing 68.

    He’s the only player with three consecutive top-4s in the majors.

    What’s the difference now?

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “The biggest thing is I treat them like they’re normal events,” he said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I’ve always gone into majors and put too much pressure on myself, having to go play well, having to do this or that. Now I go in there and try to play golf and keep in the mindset of, Hey, it’s just another day on the golf course. Let’s just go play.

    “I’ve been able to stay in that mindset the past three, and I’ve played pretty well in all three of them.”

    Reed’s record in the year’s third major has been hit or miss – a pair of top-20s and two missed cuts – but he says he’s a better links player now than when he began his career. It took the native Texan a while to embrace the creativity required here and also to comprehend the absurd distances he can hit the ball with the proper wind, conditions and bounce.

    “I’m sort of accepting it,” he said. “I’ve gotten a little more comfortable with doing it. It’s come a little bit easier, especially down the stretch in tournament play.”