Monday, May 7, 2018

Tour Confidential: Jason Day wins again, a Tiger-Phil date at the Players and more

1. Justin Thomas needed to finish the Wells Fargo Championship 12th or better to become the No. 1 player in the world, and although he couldn’t quite do it (T21), another former No. 1, Jason Day, won for the second time this season. It was barely more than a year ago when Day was the world’s top-ranked player (projected to jump from 14th to 7th after Sunday), but he’s won twice in the last five months and is reminding us of his five-win 2015 season. Can a healthy Day still be as good as any other player on the planet?

Josh Sens, contributing writer, GOLF (@JoshSens): For sure. As we’ve seen over the past few years, there are a handful of players who can outright dominate when all systems are firing. Day is one of them. He’s got the necessary triple threat of power, touch and resilience under pressure.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, GOLF (@AlanShipnuck): His short game has been sensational during this run but the scary thing is that Day has not been totally happy with his ball-striking. He hit a bunch of clutch shots coming down the stretch today, so lookout.

John Wood, caddie for Matt Kuchar (@johnwould): Absolutely. The key word is “healthy.” Watching a bit of the telecast Saturday and watching his putting (which is wonderfully aggressive; he literally looks like he is trying to make every single putt, like that’s the only thought in his head) and his ability to fly the ball 313 right down the middle while one-arming his follow through was startling. A healthy Day can be as good or better than anyone.

Dylan Dethier, associate editor, GOLF.com (@dylan_dethier): Um, yeah. I just hope “a healthy Day” is a realistic long-term expectation.

2. In Tiger Woods’s first start since the Masters, he battled a cold putter at the Wells Fargo Championship and finished T55. Next up is the Players Championship, a tournament he’s won twice. Are you more or less bullish about Tiger’s chances of winning the Players than you were regarding his chances at Augusta, where he was a favorite but finished T32?

Sens: I never liked his chances much at Augusta, so I guess I like them slightly more at the Players, but only slightly. Tiger’s comeback has been amazing to watch. But this field is just too stout and the course too trouble-filled for a guy still on a quest to find his (warning: Tigerism approaching) A-game.

Shipnuck: He has a much better chance at the Players, if only because ANGC demands so many drivers and Sawgrass so few. Notwithstanding his cold putter in Charlotte, the driver remains the weakest part of Tiger’s game. But as fun as it has been to watch him grinding, as the sample size becomes larger it becomes more clear that Tiger has a looong way to go before he’s ready to win anything, let alone against the deepest field of the year on a treacherous course.

Wood: Broken record time. Tiger can win any week he tees it up. It’s a matter of putting everything together in the same week, like anyone else in the field. But even at this point in his career, there is greatness still in there. I think most of us out here still believe that. It doesn’t go away, it’s a matter of tapping into the seed.

Dethier: I was all in on Tiger pre-Masters, so it’s hard for me to match that same level of confidence as he heads to a course where, besides the two wins (and that is a BIG “besides”) he hasn’t played up to his own standards. But I could see him smoking two-iron around the place and getting hot with the putter on some slippery greens more to his liking — I expect it’ll be a better result than this past week.

3. Woods and Phil Mickelson are grouped for the first two rounds of the Players(Rickie Fowler is also joining the star-studded threesome), making it the first time the duo has been paired together since the 2014 PGA. Who will derive more motivation from this grouping: Tiger or Phil?

Sens: Tiger. Phil has spoken at length about how fired up he gets playing with Tiger. But is there any fiercer competitor on the planet than Woods? I know that this is the kinder, gentler Tiger, but I still think of him as being like one of those characters from a movie who wants to rip the other guy’s heart out and show it to him while it’s still beating. Maybe Phil feels the same and is just hiding it behind the aw-shucks smile. Whatever the case, this should be fun.

Shipnuck: Jim Furyk. Throw in the practice round at Augusta and perhaps all of this is laying the groundwork for a Tiger-Phil pairing at the Ryder Cup. Don’t forget, it’s supposed to be a goodwill exhibition; what could possibly generate more buzz than pairing Woods and Mickelson together on an international stage?

Sens: That would be interesting. Let’s hope it works out better than when Hal Sutton tried it.

Wood: I’d say Phil. I think Phil gains a lot of energy from crowds; the bigger the crowd, the more energy he feels. Tiger is in a bubble, in a good way, and he is going to play the same as he otherwise would in the first two rounds of a tournament.

Dethier: We all lose from this pairing. It’s a curmudgeonly take, but I’m so over these manufactured star-studded pairings on Thursdays and Fridays — it makes it that much less compelling to see the game’s biggest names battle it out on the weekend. Gimme this pairing when it feels like we’ve earned it! Tiger comes out on top (through two rounds).

4. “I don’t care about the U.S. Open or the Open Championship,” Rory McIlroy said prior to the Wells Fargo, when discussing his close call at the Masters last month. “(The Masters) is the biggest tournament in the world. It has the most amount of eyeballs, the most amount of hype. The most amount of everything is at Augusta.” A day later McIlroy clarified his comments: “I didn’t mean it like that at all … I care deeply about those other ones. I’m a proud winner of both of those tournaments.” What did you make of Rory’s remarks?

Sens: I take him at his word that his first words came out wrong. Rory’s a forthright interview. When you speak freely, as he does, sometimes you don’t phrase things exactly as you’d like. What’s fair to take from it, I think, is that the Masters looms the largest in his mind because it’s the one major he’s missing, and because it has tormented him with close calls. That’s not the same as him not caring about the others.

Shipnuck: I agree with everything Josh said — of course Rory is proud of his Opens and venerates those events. The whole thing was a non-event for me except that it revealed the depth of Rory’s Augusta obsession. He wants that jacket so badly I fear he will continue to get in his own way.

Wood: He did not mean he didn’t care about the U.S. Open or the Open Championship. His statement was referring to not caring about the public’s or media’s opinion/perception when it came to the importance of these events. What Rory meant was that in terms of rankings, in terms of what majors most professionals would want to win, the Masters IS the easy choice. It is The Biggest Tournament in the world. Reading it any other way is just trying to stir up a controversy that is not there.

Dethier: Well-covered by my colleagues above. I actually felt like the response to this was fairly measured and appropriate, although there may be some Open Championship diehards seething across the pond that I missed. Rory gives the best pressers in the game — he meant what he said, but he also didn’t mean it like, all the way. Move along now.

5. Day played the dreaded Green Mile — Quail Hollow’s name for its 16th, 17th and 18th holes — in two under Sunday to pick up his 12th career PGA Tour victory. What’s the toughest three-hole stretch you’ve ever played?

Sens: The closing three at Ko-Olau, a sadistic course on Oahu with ball-swallowing ravines and lush vegetation everywhere you look. I know they’ve softened it in recent years, but it’s still not the kind of layout most amateurs can get through with a single sleeve of Titleists. You could easily lose three balls on the 18th alone. That finisher is a 467-yard dogleg right par-4 with a couple of forced carries. And yet some young stud once cut the corner and made a hole-in-one. True story. You’ll be shocked to hear it wasn’t me.

Shipnuck: Is it the Bear Pit or Snake Trap? I can never remember.

Wood: I don’t know about the toughest three-hole stretch, but the toughest four-hole stretch I ever played was the last four holes at The Olympic Club when I was playing there in a tournament in college. What made it especially tough was the fact that I had wrenched my putter around the crook of a tree after three-putting the 14th green, bending it into a beautiful “U” shape like a large horseshoe. I putted with my Ben Hogan sand wedge for the last four. So, self-imposed difficulty, yes, but the toughest nonetheless.

Dethier: I’ve got particularly fond memories of the viciousness of 16-18 at Wild Horse Golf Club in Gothenburg, Neb., which may well be the BEST deal in these entire United States of America. I tend to hit the ball pretty high, which doesn’t work all that well into a 50-mph wind, particularly against two local sticks who never seemed to hit it more than 10 feet off the ground. I paid up after that match.

6. Several stars missed the cut at the Players Championship last year, but many are in form entering this year’s edition. Who is your pick to win and runner-up, and what will the winning score be?

Sens: Rickie at 12 under, with Sergio nipping at his spikes, one back.

Shipnuck: Patrick Reed. He was hot before the Masters win and he’s stayed hot. It’s a position golf course so his lack of pop off the tee is a non-issue. The last nine years every winning score has been between 10 under and 16 under, so I’m gonna say… 13 under.

Wood: Kuchar at 11 under, Fowler runner-up.

Shipnuck: Woody, you’re shameless.

Dethier: One Jordan Spieth at 15 under, with Rafa Cabrera Bello in second. But Matt Kuchar won’t be far behind!

Source: Golf.com

The post Tour Confidential: Jason Day wins again, a Tiger-Phil date at the Players and more appeared first on Bahle Farms.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Watch: Angry turkey chases golfers into a ditch

Consuming Wild Turkey on a golf course isn’t unusual. Being chased by one, however, is.

You’ll recall the high school player who was recently attacked by an angry goose on the course. Well, apparently fowl of the world have united against golfers.

In the video (seen below), an agitated turkey chases a pair of giggling golfers and wins the battle without physical violence. The turkey showcases his mastery over the lay of the land, taking “a shortcut” and running the golfers into a ditch.

Birds, man.

 

Source: GolfChannel

The post Watch: Angry turkey chases golfers into a ditch appeared first on Bahle Farms.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Golf legend Jack Nicklaus gives Tampa students some lessons on golf and life

TAMPA, Fla. — One by one, the Tampa students stood in front of Jack Nicklaus at Rogers Park Golf Course and tried to do what the 18-time champion once did better than anyone on the planet.They tried to hit a golf ball: far, straight, with poise and strength.Freedom High School senior Helena Noel, who hopes to go pro one day, was soaking it all in.“I hit my driver 250, 260 yards,” Noel said. “I wanna ask him how much farther he could have hit it with modern technology.”Nicklaus eventually told her with a chuckle. The six-time Master champ would have hit it farther than anyone else. But the 78-year-old was not just here to give golf tutorials or brag about his illustrious past.As part of his First Tee program, Nicklaus wanted the students to also excel at life.“When they get out here, they blossom,” Nicklaus said. “They find something they like to do instead of getting on the streets and doing something they shouldn’t be doing.”Kids are his focus now. He told them to be bold, brave and believe in themselves.“You can make a lot of putts. But none of those putts are worth what these kids are worth,” said Nicklaus.As he watched the kids laugh, clap, take good swings and bad, the man known as the Golden Bear smiled.“These kids are going to do all right,” said Nicklaus.Source: ABC Action News

The post Golf legend Jack Nicklaus gives Tampa students some lessons on golf and life appeared first on Bahle Farms.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Augusta National creates women’s amateur event

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Masters chairman Fred Ridley announced Wednesday the creation of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship.

The event, set to kick off Masters week in April 2019, will feature the top 72 women’s amateurs from around the world.

The first two rounds of the tournament will be held at nearby Champions Retreat Golf Club. Following a cut to the low 30 players, the final round will be held at Augusta National on Saturday, April 6, 2019.

“This championship will become an exciting addition to the Masters week, and it furthers our effort to promote the sport and inspire young women to take up the game,” Ridley said.

The champion will receive an exemption into next year’s U.S. Women’s Open and the Women’s British Open, as well as any USGA, R&A and PGA of America amateur events for a year.

The field will be comprised of all of the winners from the U.S. Women’s Amateur, Ladies’ British Amateur, Women’s Asia-Pacific Amateur, U.S. Girls’ Junior, Girls’ British Open Amateur Championship, Girls Junior PGA Championship. In addition, the top 30 players in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking not already qualified will receive invitations to the event, as well as the top 30 players from the United States. The Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship Committee will fill the remaining positions.

The new Augusta amateur event could pose an issue for the LPGA. The tour’s first major of the year, the ANA Inspiration, is held the week before the Masters, and the tournament already invites six of the top amateurs in the world, and a seventh qualifies as the winner of the ANA Junior Inspiration.

Ridley said Wednesday that he has already spoken to LPGA commissioner Mike Whan about the conflict and that Whan “understands our motivations for doing this, our motivation to help grow the game. He also agrees wholeheartedly that, from a big picture, this is a win for women’s golf.”

More details about the event – including a global television partner and the winner’s trophy – will be announced at a later date. The club intends to offer a lottery for a “significant” number of tickets.

“This is a dream come true,” said Annika Sorenstam, who attended Wednesday’s announcement. “It’s a carrot for these young girls.”

The Women’s Amateur Championship is the latest grow-the-game initiative by Augusta National Golf Club, which also created the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, the Latin America Amateur Championship and the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship.

 

Source: GolfChannel

The post Augusta National creates women’s amateur event appeared first on Bahle Farms.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson Warm Up Together, and to Each Other

Woods has gotten the better of Mickelson on the course many more times than not, but according to their peers, it is a toss up as to who is ahead in the war of wit.
“It’s pretty even,” said Jordan Spieth, who has heard them up close at Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups.
He added, “Tiger has more accolades than just about anybody in the sport — you know, nobody wants to go out there and just say, ‘I’ve won this or this or this or this,’ and Phil’s kind of better at getting under people’s skin.”
Woods, 42, is an introverted only child. Mickelson, five years his senior, is an extroverted firstborn with two siblings. The one important thing they have in common — a burning desire to win — is probably the primary factor behind their lack of closeness all these years. Remember: Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer became fast friends only after they stopped banging heads on the golf course.
“Oh, man, he’s very, very, competitive,” Woods said of Mickelson. “He’s feisty. He’s determined. He always wants to win.”
Photo

Mickelson’s shirt brought out Woods’s wit. “The only thing that was missing was a tie,” he said.

Credit Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Woods, of course, could have been describing the man in the mirror. Justin Thomas, whom Woods mentored while on the mend from multiple back surgeries, played a practice round with him on Monday. Thomas noted a change in Woods’s demeanor as they prepared to compete with each other. Woods, he said, was “a little harder to get stuff out of than when he was hurt and I was asking him questions.”

Mickelson has tour victories in four decades, but younger players like Thomas, the reigning P.G.A. champion, almost universally looked up to Woods when they were growing up.
“He was winning about every other tournament he played in,” Thomas explained.
In some ways, though, Mickelson had the more auspicious start to his career, winning his first PGA Tour title when he was still an amateur. He has won 43 Tour titles, including five majors, while Woods has 79 tour wins, including 14 majors.

He’s covered Jordan. He’s covered Kobe. And LeBron vs. the Warriors. Go behind the N.B.A.’s curtain with the league’s foremost expert.
If Mickelson hadn’t played in the same era as Woods, he might have “10 to 12 majors,” Couples said.
Mickelson isn’t so sure. “It’s very possible that that’s the case,” he said, “and it’s also possible that he brought out the best in me and forced me to work harder and focus to ultimately achieve the success that I’ve had.”
Six golfers in their 40s have won a Masters title. Led by Mickelson and Woods, at least a half-dozen here this week have a chance to become the seventh. The others include the 2007 champion, Zach Johnson, 42; Charley Hoffman, 41, who led after the first two rounds last year; Paul Casey, 40, who has top-six finishes in each of the past three years; and Ian Poulter, 42, who secured the final berth with a playoff victory Sunday in Houston.

The 40-something superstars making the trip over the Hogan Bridge across Rae’s Creek at Augusta National. Credit Tannen Maury/EPA, via Shutterstock
After Mickelson won the World Golf Championships event in Mexico City last month in a playoff against Thomas, Woods described Mickelson’s first victory since 2013 as “very, very cool to watch.”
Woods tied for second a week later at the Valspar Championship outside Tampa, and Mickelson said he sent Woods a text message after he played his way into contention. Mickelson said he had told Woods that it felt “like it was a different time continuum, because I found myself pulling so hard for him.”
This week they are less rivals than two men united against Father Time, a much more formidable opponent than Couples and Pieters combined.
“I find that I want him to play well,” Mickelson said, “and I’m excited to see him play so well.”

At the start of the practice round, Woods teed off first. Someone asked how the group had decided who got that honor. An impish smile creased Mickelson’s face.

“We just went right in order,” he said. “He has four jackets, I have three jackets, Fred, then Thomas.”
Mickelson winked. “It’s a respect thing.”

Source: NY Times

 

The post Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson Warm Up Together, and to Each Other appeared first on Bahle Farms.

Monday, March 12, 2018

He Stuck to Golf: Tiger Woods, Roaring Back, Ties for 2nd

PALM HARBOR, Fla. — The most remarkable aspect of Tiger Woods’s comeback isn’t how quickly his ball-striking rounded into shape after two years of relative inactivity or how well he handled the crucible of contending after being sidelined for so long. To Wayne Gretzky, who watched the weekend telecast of the Valspar Championship with great interest, the most impressive part of Woods’s second-place finish was that he was back competing at all.

Woods, 42, could have limped off the main stage with his legacy secure. After $110 million in career earnings on the course and several times that much off it; after more than 100 worldwide victories, including 14 majors; after two decades of being saddled with a superhero cape that is one loose thread from unraveling into infamy, Woods could have become a full-time chauffeur and cheerleader for his two children, a part-time fisherman and scuba diver and an occasional adrenaline junkie who satisfied his cravings through bungee jumping, sky diving or heli-skiing.

Before carding a final-round one-under 70 to finish tied for second, one stroke behind the Englishman Paul Casey, for his first top-three finish since 2013, Woods could have drifted from the sport. He could have concentrated on his golf-design projects, his restaurant business and his foundation-funded learning labs. That Woods chose instead to rejoin a tour that in his absence had become the domain of players nearly half his age impressed Gretzky, the Hall of Fame hockey player.

“I think it shows how much he loves the sport,” Gretzky said in a telephone interview. “That sends a great message that the best athlete in the world in his sport is the hardest working and the guy that loves the game the most and still wants to win the most.”

Gretzky, who still owns or holds a share of dozens of N.H.L. records, added, “The Good Lord blessed us with talent, but to be the greatest you have to outwork everyone, too.”

On the eve of Sunday’s final round at Innisbrook’s Copperhead resort, Notah Begay III, Golf Channel’s on-course reporter and a member of Woods’s small inner circle, gave an illuminating explanation for Woods’s resplendent short game, the aspect of his play that failed him spectacularly in his limited starts the past two years.

Begay, a teammate of Woods’s at Stanford, said that Woods had installed four practice greens in his Jupiter, Fla., backyard, including one that replicates the putting surfaces at the Bay Hill course where he has won eight times. Begay added that Woods employed someone to tend the greens who worked at Augusta National, home of the Masters, which Woods has won four times.

“It is one of the advantages he has by having that practice facility when he walks right outside of his house,” Begay said during the Golf Channel telecast, adding, “It is one of the things he was able to do the most — putting and chipping — throughout all of these injuries.”

The last time Tiger Woods won the Masters was 2005 when Phil Mickelson slipped the green jacket on him. When this year’s tournament begins on April 5 at Augusta National, more than a few people will be betting on Woods to win again. Roberto Schmidt/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Woods and the rest of the field started Sunday chasing Corey Conners, a 26-year-old PGA Tour rookie from Canada who had held the lead since the first round. Conners’s best finish in his first 10 starts of the wraparound season was a tie for 29th.

When Woods was Conners’s age, he had 30 PGA Tour titles. Woods’s 20s were the days when his mastery of courses and his domination of his competition combined to make him seem more machine than man. He commanded awe while appearing only remotely accessible, like a Rembrandt painting hanging in the J. Paul Getty Museum in Woods’s native Southern California.

The public assumed he would be around to admire for years and years. But then came the injuries to Woods’s knees, neck, shoulder, and back. There were also the indignities, including the public unraveling of Woods’s marriage after his indiscretions were made public and a D.U.I. arrest last May for the misuse of prescription medications.

At the Presidents Cup last September, Woods, an assistant captain for the United States team, acknowledged that he could envision a scenario in which he did not return to competitive golf. He was five months removed from back fusion surgery and had not been cleared by his doctors to make full swings. While he took his first tentative shots with his long irons and woods, Justin Rose, who finished tied for fifth Sunday, was winning back-to-back tournaments in China and Turkey.

When Woods said he didn’t know what the future held for him, fans of his golfing artistry were left to face the prospect of never seeing another of his signature masterpieces. Perhaps that explains the wildly enthusiastic receptions that Woods received here and at the first three stops of his comeback tour. In an interview Friday, Begay said it seemed to him as if fans were hungry to show Woods their appreciation for how he changed the game while he was still around to soak it in.

“Everyone loves a comeback story, and the underdog and Tiger became the underdog,” Begay said. “Just two months ago he was ranked outside the top 1,000 and was overcoming multiple back surgeries and sort of was the punch line on late-night comedy because of everything that had gone on. But through all the trials and tribulations, he nonetheless has found a way to persevere and get back to a level of performance that is literally unbelievable.”

Brandt Snedeker, 37, has enjoyed one of the best vantage points for Woods’s comeback. Snedeker has been in the same group for five of the 14 official rounds that Woods has logged. From what Snedeker has seen, the renewed appreciation being shown Woods by the fans is being reciprocated in kind. Woods is making more eye contact, signing more autographs, smiling more.

“I think he’s more at peace with his role in golf,” Snedeker said. “I think there was a time he was so focused on winning, he lost out on the relationships.”

During the Wednesday pro-am here, Woods stopped when he came upon a group of military personnel stationed at one hole. He thanked them for their service and added, “Appreciate it.”

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Woods’s comeback is that his performance has everybody looking ahead, not back. “The excitement going into the Masters is going to be massive,” said Adam Scott, the 2013 champion at Augusta National, “because I don’t know if any of us were really thinking Tiger was a true favorite in there, and he might be.”

Source: New York Times

The post He Stuck to Golf: Tiger Woods, Roaring Back, Ties for 2nd appeared first on Bahle Farms.