The Great Divide

By Rex HoggardMay 1, 2010, 3:01 am
Quail Hollow ChampionshipCHARLOTTE, N.C. – There was a time, not that long ago, when golf fans of every ilk celebrated the show. When Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson went Cooperstown on a warm spring morning at Doral in 2005, fans of the game, not the player, rejoiced in the event.

“What a day,” we gushed indifferent to individual loyalties. Whether your guy won or watched, when alpha and omega take their best to the same pitch it’s the show, not the outcome, that really matters.

But on Friday at Quail Hollow on an equally picturesque spring day the reality came like a 6-iron out of the pine straw – bipartisanship, at least on an individual level, has caught the early flight home.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods sits dejected during Round 2 of the Quail Hollow Championship. (Getty Images)
“I want to see Phil win and extend that winning streak over Tiger,” growled one scribe as Mickelson made his way toward the top of the leaderboard with two birdies and an eagle in seven holes.

Another story-teller summed up Sunday at Augusta National as, “The afternoon in the garden of good and evil.” An over simplification to be sure that stretches reason with the notion that Woods’ character is without redeeming qualities of any kind and Mickelson’s is above reproach. It is as dogmatic as it is incorrect.

But in this the newsprint is simply a reflection of the times. Whether it was through Woods’ self-induced fall from grace or Mickelson’s made-for-television triumph at the Masters the chasm between those who cheer Lefty’s brash indifference to consequence or Tiger’s tactical brilliance has never been wider.

At no other time outside of the 212 area code has Tiger-Phil been so polarizing.

Don’t get it twisted, this isn’t Manchester United vs. Chelsea. But not since the days of Arnie’s Army and the Golden Bear’s best have loyalties outside of the ropes been so fractured.

 This is as divisive as sports get, at least our sport.

Make no mistake, Woods is still revered for his body of work, past and future.

“(The fans) are incredible. The fans here all the years I've been here have been extraordinary, and today with it being 50 degrees this morning or 45 degrees, for them to come out there and support us was pretty cool.,” said Woods, who has been almost universally cheered post-Nov. 27.

But Mickelson is loved. Lefty has always held down the top supporting actor role with the occasional cameo from Garcia or Els, but his days as the preeminent understudy began to fade last year at the Bethpage Open.

The combination of Amy Mickelson’s ongoing health issues, a Winged Foot hangover that seemed to linger right up to the moment Mickelson slipped on his third green jacket earlier this month and an engaged populace made Lefty the de facto favorite when Woods opened with 74.

Where that pendulum has settled is a debate for the pollsters, but through two days at Quail Hollow it has been the “Lefty Love-fest,” perhaps a byproduct of the duo’s divergent play over the first 36 more so than an accurate straw poll. But it is unmistakable, here at NASCAR National public opinion is squarely on the left-handed Californian’s side.

Maybe not so coincidentally the divide began to widen at about the same time Mickelson began closing the gap competitively. There was always the notion that Mickelson needed his best stuff to take down Woods, and sometimes even that wasn’t enough. That theory has started to splinter thanks to Dave Stockton Sr. and victories at last year’s Tour Championship and WGC-HSBC Champions in China.

Mickelson’s Masters moment was the third consecutive victory for Lefty with Woods in the field, consider it a series sweep of the Yankees at the Stadium. And whatever Woods had in the tank at Augusta National was slow coming at Quail Hollow and for just the sixth time in 241 Tour starts as a pro he’ll watch the action from his Barcalounger at home following an unsightly 79 on Friday.

The most telling sign of a changing dichotomy came late Friday when Mickelson talked in relaxed tones of confidence and closing on the lead, while Woods talked about missing the cut.

Woods and Mickelson seem to have reached a curious crossroads together, one searching for his game and still in full damage control mode, the other no longer damaged by the ghosts of Winged Foot and seemingly in full control.

The gambler vs. the gamer, and there is no middle ground.

The softer side of Woods is trying. During Wednesday’s pro-am he was engaged with his partners and fans and signed autographs for 25 minutes. But if the new Tiger Woods is a work in progress, the old Phil Mickelson is the finished product.

On Friday on his way to a second-round 68, Mickelson shrugged and smiled and fist bumped his way around the leafy layout. On Thursday riding on fumes and pumped full of IV solution Lefty signed for 20 minutes after his media duties.

It’s a hearts and minds deal, be it by design or DNA, and it has fractured the body golf. The middle ground in golf has become all but extinct, like square grooves and stymies. Destroyed, it seems, by a rivalry that has never been better. That has never been this polarized.
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Hataoka leads Minjee Lee by one at LPGA Volvik

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:54 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - After losing in a playoff last weekend, Nasa Hataoka is making another bid for her first LPGA Tour victory.

Hataoka shot a 4-under 68 on Friday, and the Japanese teenager led by one stroke over Minjee Lee after the second round of the Volvik Championship. Hataoka, who is coming off the first two top-10 finishes of her LPGA career, made seven birdies at Travis Pointe Country Club. She began her round on No. 10, and her best stretch came toward the end, when she birdied Nos. 4, 5 and 6.

''I'm really comfortable playing the LPGA,'' the 19-year-old Hataoka said through a translator. ''I've really got confidence now.''

Hataoka made the cut nine times in 17 starts as a rookie in 2017, and she has made significant strides of late. She tied for seventh at last month's MEDIHEAL Championship and nearly won a week ago at the Kingsmill Championship in Virginia.

Hataoka finished the second round in Michigan at 9 under. Lee (69) was also solid Friday. Gaby Lopez (68), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (70) and Lindy Duncan (70) were a stroke behind Lee in a tie for third.

Hataoka did not make a single bogey in last week's three-round tournament, and she didn't have any in the first round in Michigan. She finally made a few Friday, but that didn't stop her from taking sole possession of the lead.

''I kind of feel like not really perfect, but I just kind of try to (be) aggressive,'' she said.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lee, who lost by one stroke on this course last year, is in contention again.

''I guess the fairways are pretty generous and I think the greens are a little bit on the trickier side to read,'' Lee said. ''As long as your iron shots are pretty solid, I think you're going to be in good position around this golf course.''

Lee birdied the first two holes, and the only blemish on her scorecard Friday came on the par-5 14th. After missing the fairway to the right, she hit an aggressive shot out of the rough that went straight toward a water hazard well in front of the green. She settled for a bogey after taking a drop.

''I thought the ball was sitting OK in the rough, but it must have been a bit funny, or underneath it,'' she said. ''I made a mistake. I thought it was good enough to hit 3-wood there.''

Lee lost last year in Michigan to Shanshan Feng, but Feng will have some ground to make up in her attempt to repeat. She shot 69 on Friday but is still eight strokes behind the leader.

Ariya Jutanugarn was 6 under after a second consecutive 69.

Lopez made only six pars in the second round, tied for the fewest of the day, but her eight birdies and four bogeys put her near the top of the leaderboard.

''It was a little bit of an up and down,'' she said. ''There's so many opportunities out here to make birdie, that the most important thing to do is just to be patient, to be in the moment and not to get ahead of yourself. I think I came back from a couple mistakes that I did.''

In contrast to Lopez, Brittany Lincicome parred all 18 holes Friday and made the cut at 1 under. Paula Creamer (71) triple bogeyed the par-4 13th. She followed that with an eagle on the very next hole but missed the cut by a stroke.

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Childhood rivals share Sr. PGA lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:00 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Kevin Sutherland and Scott McCarron have been rivals since their junior golf days around Sacramento, California. The two old friends were back at it Friday at the top of the Senior PGA Championship leaderboard.

''It's honestly, nothing new for us,'' said Sutherland who played in the third-to-last group and birdied his last two holes for a 5-under 66 to match McCarron at 8 under.

McCarron had a 68 in the morning wave to emerge from a championship record group of six tied for the first-round lead.

Sutherland was last year's Charles Schwab Cup winner with his only senior win coming in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, while McCarron has six PGA Tour Champions wins, including a major at the 2017 Senior Players Championship.

''We are both (Northern California) guys, played in high school, junior golf, on tour and it seems like a lot on the Champions Tour,'' Sutherland said. ''We were in the last group on Sundays a lot last year. Scott played so well and had an incredible year, and I had a great year, too.''

Sutherland's lone PGA Tour victory came at McCarron's expense in 2002 at La Costa in the Accenture Match Play Championship, when he beat McCarron 1 up in the 36-hole final. As youngsters they played on opposing high school teams located about an hour apart and met often in state tournaments as well as on the California junior circuit.

''It's been happening for 30 years, wait 35 years now, I guess,'' Sutherland said. ''Playing together on a Saturday is a little different. We're both still trying to get in position to win.''

Jerry Kelly shot a 65 to join Tim Petrovic (69), Chris Williams (68) and Joe Durant (67) at 7 under. Durant tied for second last week in the Regions Tradition, also a major championship.

Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

McCarron feels like he is just starting to warm to the task this year. He had to replace his clubs, including a favored putter damaged beyond repair in air transit two months ago.

''I've been putting with a back-up putter I had, but it just didn't feel quite right,'' he said. ''I changed last Sunday at the Regions Tradition and started putting better on Sunday. So I'm using this one again this week and seem to be putting pretty good with it.''

McCarron said the Harbor Shores course played a little tougher in light winds in the second round. He made six birdies and three bogeys.

''I would just like to have a couple of those bogeys back,'' he said. ''But we're in a good position going into the weekend.''

McCarron came to the press center after his round and walked in on a press conference where course-designer Jack and Barbara Nicklaus were being honored by sponsoring KitchenAid with the establishment of a local college scholarship program in their name.

McCarron, who said he has idolized Nicklaus since his youth, played media and asked Nicklaus what he ate when he was near the lead going into the weekend of a major championship.

Nicklaus said if you play well one day, eat the same thing the next day.

''But no hamburgers, or you will play like hamburger,'' he said.

Stuart Smith, the Reno, Neveda, club pro who was tied for the lead after the first round, missed the 36-hole cut with a second-round 83.

''I'll take the 66, 83 and enjoy the 66 yesterday,'' he said. ''You put this one down to just plain old golf. It's a nasty game we play sometimes. Glad I have a day job.''

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Wise, Simpson both miss cut at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 11:34 pm

The two most recent winners on the PGA Tour, Aaron Wise and Webb Simpson, missed the cut at the Fort Worth Invitational on Friday.

Wise and Simpson both came up short of the 2-over total by a shot following rounds of 70-73.

Wise was safely inside the number before playing his last four holes in 4 over par with two bogeys and a closing double following a trip into the water at the par-4 ninth.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Simpson, making his first start following his Players triumph, similarly struggled coming home, bogeying three of his final six holes.

Other notables who won't be around for the weekend at Colonial include Xander Schauffele (+4), Jason Dufner (+5), Patrick Cantlay (+6), Smylie Kaufman (+13), and Sam Burns (+13).

This is Kaufman's 11th consecutive MC and his 15th in his last 16 starts.

Jason Seaman and Kristi Hubly Seaman

Sr. PGA caddie learns of nephew's heroism in school shooting

By Tim RosaforteMay 25, 2018, 10:33 pm

Tracy Hubly caddied for her husband, club pro Chris Starkjohann, on Friday at the KitchenAid Senior PGA and learned after their round that her nephew was credited with helping stop the school shooting at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana.

Jason Seaman, a 29-year-old science instructor and seventh grade football coach at the school, took three bullets but survived as what his aunt called a hero.

“You hear the stories about these shootings and I think about Parkland and the officer that was trained but didn’t go into the school,” Hubly said. “It’s really shocking to think it comes close to your family, but it does."

It’s not unusual for Hubly to caddie for her husband, a teacher at Carlsbad Golf Center and coach of a PGA Junior League program in Southern California. Hubly, who works in the pro shop at Emerald Island Golf Course in Oceanside, Calif., was on the bag when he was low golf professional at the 2009 Senior PGA Championship held at Canterbury GC. 

Starkjohann, 61, missed the cut at Harbor Shores with rounds of 76-79—155 and was heading to the Colorado State Open.

 “I didn’t hear about it until after my round was done,” Starkjohann said. “Everything happened after I got in.”