A step backward

By Scott WalkerNovember 5, 2011, 6:21 pm

You don’t need me to tell you what Steve Williams said about Tiger Woods was uncool. Why it is uncool is a more important subject.

At the private Annual Caddy Awards dinner this week in Shanghai, Williams was given an “award” for best celebration, in honor of him carrying Adam Scott to victory (as it seemed by Williams’ post-round comments) at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. The whole event was to be a tongue-in-cheek laugh fest to end the year. But, when Williams said in his acceptance speech that his goal, referring to Woods, was to “shove it right up that black [expletive deleted],” the comment shocked observers in the room. It also has reverberated inside the golf world, and beyond.

Sobel: Williams sticks foot in mouth again

Chiming in: Who's saying what in Williams flap

The reason this situation will not soon be forgotten is that Williams referenced Tiger’s color reflexively when he got angry. The kneejerk reaction from some was to refer to Williams as a racist. Believe me, that only confuses the issue. You and I have no clue whether or not Steve Williams believes he is racially superior to Tiger Woods, me, or any other race. What we do know is that when the anger of being fired by Woods boiled over again this week, Williams decided to reference Woods’ color in using an objectionable phrase. “I now realize how my comments could be construed as racist,” Williams said in a statement on his website. The fact that he didn’t realize it immediately is baffling. However, it illustrates that when Williams wanted to inflict the greatest injury with his comments, he reflexively reached for a colorful adjective to do it.

But Williams’ comments are only part of the issue. The fact that he felt comfortable enough to say such nonsense at that gathering will remind minorities of golf’s exclusive past, of proverbial smoke-filled rooms where decisions were made, and where many of us were absent. There is nothing wrong with having a private gathering where folks can have a good time at the end of a long year. There is something wrong when one of the attendees considered it the perfect time and setting to say what Williams did. Thankfully, enough people in that room decided what transpired there should not remain hidden. But it was a reminder that of the anxiety that comes with the question, “What do they say about us when we are not around?”

Will there be repercussions for Williams’ comments? Adam Scott said after the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions that he wants Williams as his caddie. That is understandable, given the recent success Team Scott has had, as well as the success Team Tiger had with Williams on the bag. But golf as a sport, and an industry, needs to tread very carefully with this situation. If Tiger Woods, golf’s greatest champion since the Golden Bear, is still not immune to racially tinged rhetoric, who is?

What do they say about us when we are not around? It can be tough to grow the game when Steve Williams has provided an answer to that question.

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Garcia leads as Valderrama Masters extends to Monday

By Will GrayOctober 21, 2021, 3:52 pm

Weather continues to be the enemy at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, where Sergio Garcia remains in front as the tournament heads for a Monday finish.

European Tour officials had already ceded the fact that 72 holes would not be completed this week in Spain, but players were not even able to finish 54 holes before another set of thunderstorms rolled in Sunday afternoon to once again halt play. Garcia remains in front at 10 under, having played seven holes of the third round in even par, while Lee Westwood is alone in second at 7 under.

Officials had previously stated an intention to play at least 54 holes, even if that meant extending the tournament to Monday, given that this is the final chance for many players to earn Race to Dubai points in an effort to secure European Tour cards for 2019. Next week's WGC-HSBC Champions will be the final event of the regular season, followed by a three-event final series.


Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters


Garcia, who won the tournament last year, started the third round with a four-shot lead over Ashley Chesters. He balanced one birdie with one bogey and remains in position for his first worldwide victory since the Asian Tour's Singapore Open in January.

Westwood, who has his son Sam on the bag this week, made the biggest charge up the leaderboard with four birdies over his first eight holes. He'll have 10 holes to go when play resumes at 9:10 a.m. local time Monday as he looks to win for the first time since the 2015 Indonesian Masters.

Shane Lowry and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano are tied for third at 6 under, four shots behind Garcia with 10 holes to play, while Chesters made two double bogeys over his first four holes to drop into a tie for sixth.

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Azinger to replace Miller as lead NBC golf analyst

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 22, 2018, 11:00 am

Major champion and former U.S. Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger has been named lead golf analyst for NBC Sports beginning in 2019, replacing Johnny Miller, who announced his retirement last week.

Azinger, 58, will assume the role following Miller’s final event, the Jan. 31-Feb. 3 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Azinger’s playing career included 12 PGA Tour victories highlighted by his victory at the 1993 PGA Championship. He has worked since 2005 as an analyst for multiple television outlets, and in 2008 he successfully captained the U.S. Ryder Cup team to its first win in nine years.

Azinger will regularly appear during all four days of tournament coverage on Golf Channel and NBC when on assignment. His first event as lead analyst will be the WGC-Mexico Championship, played Feb. 21-24.

“I have great admiration for both the quality of NBC Sports’ coverage and commitment to great storytelling, as well as the network’s deep commitment to the game I love,” Azinger said. “It is a great honor to cover a tremendous slate of PGA Tour and marquee events, including The Players, The Open, Ryder Cup and Tokyo (2020) Olympics.”

In addition to offering his views from some of the biggest events of the year, Azinger will also contribute to various instructional, documentary and news platforms on Golf Channel. He will retain his current roles broadcasting the Masters for the BBC and the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open for Fox Sports.

Azinger was selected to replace Miller, 71, who last week announced plans to end an iconic career after nearly 30 years in the booth.

“Following Johnny Miller is a tall order,” said Golf Channel executive vice president Molly Solomon. “However, we’re confident in Paul’s ability to serve our viewers with candor and sharp insight, pulling from his decorated professional golf career and extensive broadcast experience.”

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Austin wins Champions tour's playoff opener

By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:35 pm

RICHMOND, Va. -- Woody Austin knew Bernhard Langer was lurking throughout the final nine holes, and he did just enough to hold him off.

Austin shot a 3-under 69 for a one-stroke victory Sunday in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Langer, the defending tournament champion and series points leader, made the turn one shot off the lead, but eight straight pars kept him from ever gaining a share of the lead. Austin's birdie from 6 feet on the closing hole allowed him to hang on for the victory.

''It seemed like he couldn't quite get it over the hump,'' Austin said about Langer, who also birdied No. 18. ''I'm not going to feel bad for the guy. The guy's kind of had things go his way for the last 12 years. Now he sees what it's like to have it happen.''

The 54-year-old Austin finished with an 11-under total for three rounds at The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course. He won his fourth senior title and first since 2016, and said windy and cool conditions that made scoring difficult played to his advantage.

''I was happy to see it. I really enjoy a difficult test,'' he said. ''... I enjoy even par meaning something. That's my game.''

Langer closed with a 70. The winner last week in North Carolina, the 61-year-old German star made consecutive birdies to finish the front nine, but had several birdie putts slide by on the back.


Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic


''I made a couple important ones and then I missed a couple important ones, especially the one on 16,'' Langer said. ''I hit three really good shots and had about a 6-footer, something like that, and I just didn't hit it hard enough. It broke away.''

Austin dropped a stroke behind Jay Haas and Stephen Ames with a bogey on the par-3 14th. He got that back with a birdie from about 5 feet on the par-4 15th and then got some good fortune on the final hole when his firmly struck chip hit the flag and stopped about 6 feet away.

''I always say usually the person that wins gets a break on Sunday,'' he said. ''That was my break.''

The 64-year-old Haas, the second-round leader after a 65, had a 74 to tie for third with Fran Quinn (69) and Kent Jones (70) at 9 under. Haas was bidding to become the oldest winner in the history of the tour for players 50 and older.

''Disappointed, for sure,'' Haas said. ''Not going to get many more opportunities like this, but it gives me hope, too, that I can still do it.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 move on to the Invesco QQQ Championship next week in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

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After Further Review: American success stories

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 8:35 pm

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the global nature of Koepka's rise to No. 1 ...

Brooks Koepka is an American superstar, and a two-time winner of his national open. But his rise to world No. 1 in, of all places, South Korea, emphasizes the circuitous, global path he took to the top.

After winning the CJ Cup by four shots, Koepka was quick to remind reporters that he made his first-ever start as a pro in Switzerland back in 2012. He cracked the top 500 for the first time with a win in Spain, and he broke into the top 100 after a good week in the Netherlands.

Koepka languished on the developmental Challenge Tour for a year before earning a promotion to the European Tour, and he didn’t make a splash in the States until contending at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

It’s a testament to Koepka’s adaptability and raw talent that he can handle the heights of Crans-Montana as well as the slopes of Shinnecock Hills or rough of Nine Bridges. And as the scene shifts to China next week, it highlights the global nature of today’s game – and the fact that the best in the world can rise to the occasion on any continent. - Will Gray


On the resurgence of American women  ...

American women are on a nice roll again. Danielle Kang’s victory Sunday at the Buick LPGA Shanghai was the third by an American over the last five events. Plus, Annie Park and Marina Alex, emerging American talents looking for their second victories this season, tied for second. So did American Brittany Altomare. Two years ago, Americans won just twice, their fewest victories in a single season in LPGA history. Overall, women from the United States have won seven times this season.

The Americans are making their move with Stacy Lewis on maternity leave and with Lexi Thompson, the highest ranked American in the world, still looking for her first victory this year. Yes, the South Koreans have won nine times this season, but with four LPGA events remaining in 2018 the Americans actually have a chance to be the winningest nation in women’s golf this year. With all the grief they’ve received the last few years, that would be a significant feat. - Randall Mell