Monday, December 24, 2012

Phatboy Sports Sponsorship Colin Montgomerie's World Golf Hall of Fame induction an early Christmas gift

This being Christmas Eve, Colin Montgomerie has jumped the gun and already unwrapped a pretty sweet gift early, that being induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame instead of the lump of coal that many would give him.

Although I’ve never interviewed Monty one on one, I’ve fired questions to him during news conferences and found him to be engaging and witty, not the frumpy grump some have described from their own experiences.
Many fans also don’t like him, particularly those on this side of the Atlantic, where they came up with unflattering nicknames that needn’t be mentioned for reasons of good form.

That type of response to Montgomerie isn’t isolated to the new world. On a trip to Scotland a few years back, I visited a pub in Troon where the locals weren’t exactly kind to a lad who had spent so much time playing at the renowned and nearby Royal Troon.

Those are the ones who will protest Monty’s selection for the Hall of Fame, which belies the theory that hall of fame induction is a popularity contest, which came up when Fred Couples was selected earlier this year.

Freddie had the hair, the easy-going personality and the Boom Boom power to draw in fans of both genders and there’s something to be said for popularity in drawing eyes to the game.

On the golf course, Couples had 15 PGA Tour wins, including a major at the 1992 Masters and two Players Championships, and five international victories, not to mention eight wins on the Champions Tour, including this year’s Senior Open Championship.

Couples’ 15 overall wins is an admirable total, but not enough to warrant Hall of Fame selection in the minds of critics. The same goes for his one major, even if he did win a couple at Sawgrass.

In volume, Monty lowered the boom on Boom Boom, winning 31 European Tour titles, taking that circuit’s Order of Merit in seven consecutive years and eight overall, and 40 international events.

Montgomerie had an incredible Ryder Cup record that included eight consecutive events in which he went undefeated in singles. Continuing that success as a captain, he was at the helm for Europe’s 2010 victory at Celtic Manor.

Those are highlights from a magnificent career, but the points of contention about his induction for many are that he never won on the PGA Tour and never won a major. That last one, in particular, is a real sticking point for many.

Then again, do you deny Dan Marino a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame even though he never won the Super Bowl?

Argue the point all you want about team sport vs. an individual game such as golf, but should an otherwise outstanding career not be recognized? If Luke Donald or Lee Westwood finish their careers without a major, would you deny them solely for that reason?

Some people think so and Montgomerie got in on the International ballot with 51% of the votes in a weird system that usually requires 65% of the votes. If nobody gets 65%, a player with the most votes, as long as it’s more than 50%, is selected.

Couples also squeaked in at 51%, so neither received a ringing endorsement, which has left their selections open to criticism and will continue to do so for future inductees.

Couples’ nomination has opened the door for players with as many or more wins and majors, but majors may not even be an issue anymore now that Monty is going in.

That may stick in the craws of many, but these are precedents and the table has been set for the future. You can’t go back, once a new standard is set.


If it’s the World Golf Hall of Fame, is it really necessary to have an international ballot? Shouldn’t a player be inducted based on merit instead of where he or she is from, whether American or otherwise? The existence of this category gives the impression that those born outside the United States are outsiders. It seems strange with the global nature of the game these days ... Montgomerie isn’t the only Scot going into the hall of fame as former European Tour secretary and executive director Ken Schofield was named in the lifetime achievement category. Two-time British Open champion and course designer Willie Park Jr., and 1964 U.S. Open champ Ken Venturi, who went on to a successful broadcasting career, will also be inducted ... Toronto’s Albin Choi and Jennifer Kirby of Paris, Ont., have been named Golf Canada’s outstanding male and female amateur golfers, based on the 2012 National Order of Merit. Kevin Kwon of Pitt Meadows, B.C., and Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., finished atop the CN Future Links junior boys and junior girls Orders of Merit, respectively ... Former NCAA champion James Lepp of Abbotsford, B.C., says he feels invigorated about competitive golf after making it to the final of the Golf Channel’s Big Break Greenbrier, where he lost a close match to finish as runner-up. Lepp isn’t sure when he would return to competition. For one thing, he runs a golf business, Kikkor Golf, which he started when golf didn’t seem fun anymore ... Former Nationwide Tour player Brennan Webb of Bracebridge, Ont., has accepted an assistant coaching position with Georgia Tech.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Golf roundup: Davis and Dru Love win Father-Son event

Davis Love III had a nice pitch shot on No. 18 and son Dru finished off the birdie to capture the Father-Son Challenge title Sunday in Orlando, Fla. 

With Larry and Josh Nelson already in at 22-under for the two-day scramble format, both Loves misfired in trying to reach the green in two at the par-5 finishing hole. Dru, an Alabama freshman who won five Georgia state titles in high school, went long and right near the grandstand at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes. Davis watched his ball roll onto the bank of a greenside pond.

But the elder Love found the right touch on his pitch from Dru's position and his son made the winning putt.

The Loves teamed for an 11-under 61 in the final round.

Schwartzel romps to 12-shot win at Alfred Dunhill: In Malelane, South Africa, Charl Schwartzel was the runaway winner for the second straight weekend, coasting to a 12-shot victory at the Alfred Dunhill Championship on the European Tour.

The 2011 Masters champion finished with a total score of 24-under 264 - the lowest at Leopard Creek Country Club. He won by 11 strokes in Thailand last weekend. The South African won for the eighth time on the European Tour.

Schwartzel shot a 69 in the final round. The runner-up was Sweden's Kristoffer Broberg, who finished at 12 under.

Garcia wins in Malaysia: In Johor, Malaysia, Sergio Garcia won the rain-shortened Johor Open, closing with an 11-under 61 for a three-stroke victory in the Asian Tour's season-ending event.

The 32-year-old Spanish star finished at 18-under 198 at Horizon Hills for his second victory of the year and 24th international title. He also won the PGA Tour's Wyndham Championship in August.

Garcia had the lowest final round by a winner in Asian Tour history. He birdied seven of the first nine holes to make the turn in 7-under 29, added birdies on 13 and 14 before a long rain delay, then returned to make it four in a row with birdies on 15 and 16.

American Jonathan Moore also shot a 61 to finish second.

Thailand's Thaworn Wiratchant finished fifth and won the Asian Tour money title.

John Daly finished with a 65 to tie for 15th at 8 under. South Africa's Ernie Els closed with a 72 to tie for 48th at 3 under.

Rookie takes Australian PGA: In Coolum, Australia, Australasian Tour rookie Daniel Popovic completed an improbable wire-to-wire victory in the Australian PGA, shooting a 3-under 69 for a four-stroke victory.

The Australian finished at 16-under 272.

Geoff Ogilvy failed to finish in the top three to ensure a top-50 finish in the year-end world ranking and a spot in the Masters. He tied for fourth.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Gut-putt ban a benefit for the world of golf

The golf industry ought to look at the big picture on this "anchoring" ban by the sport's world governing bodies.

In the short term, of course, it hurts the manufacturers who sunk a lot of R&D money and raw materials into designing and building long putters for terminal yips sufferers, head cases and venal young Tour players bereft of consciences.

And it hurts the retailers and club pros who have stocked their displays with the life-changing implements, and won't be able to give them away now because only the foolhardy would try to learn a method that's going to be illegal in 2016.

Long-term, though, the benefits of a mass return to the shorter, more treacherous, thoroughly unreliable instruments of mental torture are certain to be seen in the worldwide sales of new putters to replace those thrown into the pumpkin patch off the 17th green at Richmond Country Club, dragged behind cars, rusted after being placed in toilet bowls overnight to learn their lesson, broken in a dignified manner over a thigh or otherwise rendered hors de combat.

As long as broomstick and belly putters threatened to take all the mystery out of what happened on the greens, the potential for a single putter to last its contented owner several years - even a lifetime - could have led to a crisis in the golf equipment industry.

But Wednesday, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (R&A) and the United States Golf Association fixed that, indirectly, by ruling that beginning on Jan. 1, 2016, it will be illegal to anchor the putter on the chest, chin, belly or in a hand held against any of the above. Golfers will be free to continue to use the longer putters, but what they'd do with them is beyond me.

Attempts at humour aside, this one small rebellion against game-changing elements in golf represents a fairly big step for the R&A and USGA, because it signals the possibility that they may yet rise up for the real battle ahead - against golf ball and driver technology that begets ever-longer courses requiring ever more water and land and time to play.

It still seems far-fetched to imagine either body, or both, standing up to Titleist and insisting it make balls that don't go as far, but for now, there is this ruling, and - though the R&A/USGA axis of purity has allowed for three months of public submissions in case there's an angle they haven't thought of - no amount of complaining is apt to change their minds.

Golf, in this case, is nearly unique. Maybe unique, period. I can think of no other professional sport where the technique by which the ball/puck/object is struck, thrown, kicked or propelled is restricted by the rules, other than in basic definitions of the sports - like soccer must be played with the feet or head or chest but never the hands, or the hockey puck may not be thrown, or the basketball may not be kicked.

The rules don't say you can only kick the soccer ball with the instep, or you can't tuck your elbow against your body while shooting the puck. They don't say a bunt isn't a real swing.

There are, of course, a million rules governing equipment, but the anchoring ban is emphatically not about equipment. It's about what constitutes a golf stroke. The R&A and USGA say that freely swinging the hands - emphasis on freely; i.e. unaided by a fulcrum - is the crux of it.

They say the new rule has nothing to do with the fact that three majors in the space of 12 months period were won by players with anchored putters: Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Ernie Els. But the professional level is where the fire started.

The growing number of PGA Tour pros adopting the longer instruments, up to 15 per cent this season, higher than 20 per cent at some Tour stops, was alarming. But not nearly as alarming as the 14-year-old Chinese boy, Guan Tianlang, who won the Asian-Pacific amateur title and an invitation to next year's Masters ... using a belly putter.

It meant the governing bodies could no longer shrug off its use as a fad, but had to take it seriously as a coaching tool, for which they had the testimony of noted guru Butch Harmon in Score Magazine a few months back:

"Belly putting is like stealing," Harmon said. "If I was going to start somebody out who never played before I'd start them with a belly putter, no question about it. It takes the hands right out of the stroke."

And therein lies the argument that always made the most sense, when the anchoring ban was floated: that golf is a game which is meant to be influenced, in part, by nerves. And an attack of nerves, in golf, is most apt to rear its ugly head on or near the putting surface.

If modern instructors are saying that anchoring the club reduces or, with enough practice, virtually eliminates the hands factor in putting, is that not circumventing a body part that ought to be involved in the golf swing?
But to me, as a viewer offended when I see a young professional using one of the long putters, it's a rule meant to be applied to elite players - the high-level amateurs playing golf for serious acclaim, or touring pros whose livelihoods are affected by what the other guy, or guys, are doing.

The aspect of the rule that strikes me as wrong-headed is that there seems no good reason to make the 50-60-70-yearold recreational player go back to suffering the agonies that caused him to abandon the conventional putter in the first place, whether it's back pain or poor eyesight or simply lousy putting.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Rory McIlroy: 5 Improvements Needed to Dominate the Golf World for Next 20 Years

Rory McIlroy has a sensational swing and the overall game to dominate the world of golf for many years.

However, it's one thing to look good for a couple of years and it's quite another to become an all-time great player like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer or Tiger Woods.

Physical talent is a given for the 23-year-old McIlroy. He's got bucket loads of ability.

Mental strength, tenacity and desire are not easily measured. If McIlroy has enough of those factors, he will be able to remain on top for years—possibly 20—as the rest of the golf world tries to catch him.

It's not just a matter of maintaining what he has now. He will have to improve if he is going to be the king of his sport.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

PGA teaching legend Flick was always one of golf’s unforgettable servants

Jim Flick never had a problem locating a lesson tee, even those that required a good climb.

When challenged in 1996 in New Orleans during the PGA Teaching & Coaching Summit to host the “world’s highest golf lesson” on the roof of the Superdome, Flick shrugged his shoulders and asked, “When do you need me?”

One of the most insightful and magnanimous instructors in PGA of America history, Flick achieved many summits before losing a battle with pancreatic cancer Nov. 5. He was 82.

“Aside from what he accomplished in developing golf schools,” said 2008 PGA Teacher of the Year Martin Hall of Palm City, Fla., “perhaps the most amazing thing was how Jim could make a 36-handicap player feel just as important as teaching Jack Nicklaus.”

Flick, a 2011 inductee into the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame, taught the game in 23 nations while elevating the business of golf instruction. Elected to PGA membership in 1959, he served as director instruction for Golf Digest Schools, guiding more than 1,000 multi-day programs -- and teaching that memporable lesson atop the Superdome.

PGA Life Member William Earl Morgan, a former Gulf States PGA Section president, recalled that memorable golf lesson with Flick on top of the Superdome nearly 16 years ago.

“People look at the photo of us and think we posed.” said Morgan. “But I quickly correct them and let them know it was a real lesson and that Jim spent 15 minutes with me and I was surprised how much he covered in that time. I later told my wife that halfway up to the roof I was thinking, ‘You idiot, what have you done now?’ I told the maintenance workers that they wouldn’t have to sand the rails that day!

“Jim was such a good teacher, and not the type that didn’t know how to communicate to players who were not Tour or PGA Professionals. I have that photo framed of us on top of the Superdome. It was a day I’ll never forget.”

To reach the next “summit” in his teaching career, Flick had never intended to make a business agreement with Nicklaus. It all happened by accident, and Flick had prepared himself by watching Nicklaus’ famed teacher, Jack Grout, teach the Golden Bear at Frenchman’s Creek in Jupiter, Fla.

“I knew he was a very nice guy, but I didn’t really have much involvement with Jim through the years until he began to come over to Frenchman’s Creek in Jupiter (Florida) and watch Jack Grout and me work,” said Nicklaus. “He would sit behind Jack Grout and me, while Mr. Grout was teaching. He would sit back there for hours, day after day. So, there isn’t anybody who watched more of Mr. Grout teaching me than Jim Flick.

“So, when Jack passed away in 1989, I was looking for somebody to help me. I had gone to a couple of guys and I was sort of struggling to find the right person. I had just turned 50 years old and I was out at The Tradition – my first tournament and major as a senior.

“Jim just happened to be walking around. I think we were walking down the 18th fairway, and he had watched most of the last nine holes, so I turned to him and said, “Well, Jim what do you see? You’ve seen me enough. You’ve seen Jack Grout and how he taught me.’  Jim said, ‘Well, I don’t see Jack Nicklaus.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’

“So, we went to the practice tee and he showed me what he meant. At the time, I was real active with my hips and not using my legs and not using the club. Through a variety of things Jim did and worked on, I won that golf tournament. I had not played very well up to that point, but did that week, thanks to Jim. Every year at The Tradition since then, Jim would come out and we worked together. I’d have to say that he has been my teacher of note ever since.”

Nicklaus said that Flick understood “what was important to me and were instrumental to my success throughout the years. Jim knew and understood those things. Sure, I have asked other fellas different things over the years, but Jim has always been the guy I went back to over the last 15 years of my competitive career.

When he approached Nicklaus in 1990 about his legacy in golf, Flick asked if the Golden Bear was willing to “document and use” that legacy. Nicklaus agreed, and the Nicklaus/Flick Schools became a standard-bearer in the industry.

“Jim and I were together for many years after that,” said Nicklaus. “More important, for decades Jim has been a good friend to me, on and off the golf course. He has not only touched my life and career, but he has influenced hundreds, if not thousands, of people over the years.”

Flick operated the Nicklaus-Flick Golf Schools (1991-2003); operated his own Jim Flick Premier School in 2002; and served as a lead instructor for the ESPN Golf Schools (2003-05). Since 2006, he has served as the ambassador for TaylorMade Golf.

The third recipient of the PGA Teacher of the Year award in 1988, Flick was the ninth instructor inducted into the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame in 2002, the same year that he was inducted into the Southern Ohio PGA Hall of Fame. Flick also was a 1995 inductee into the Wake Forest University Athletic Hall of Fame; and in 1999, Golf World selected him one of the Top 10 Teachers of the 20th Century.
Of the more than 200 Tour professionals among countless amateurs and premier junior players, the list also included 1996 Open Champion Tom Lehman.

Last weekend, Lehman had Flick on his mind in the final round of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship at Desert Mountain, where he closed with a 65 for a six-shot win to become the first player to win the Schwab Cup in consecutive years.

Lehman had always kept in contact with Flick, and had his teacher on Friday and again Sunday morning before his final round. Flick said softly to his longtime student, “Be Tom Lehman.”
As Lehman two-putted for birdie on the final hole Sunday, he paused and bent down and buried his face into his cap.

“The last hole, I know that he was probably watching today,” said Lehman. “I felt quite certain that that was probably the last driver he was ever going to see me hit and I wanted to make it a good one. And the last 7-iron he will ever see me hit, and I wanted to make that a good one. And the last putt, I wanted to make that putt. I didn't want to make it simply because I want to win by six. I wanted to make it for him.”

A native of Bedford, Ind., Flick began playing golf at age 10 through the influence of his father, Coleman Flick, a Bedford City Champion. Flick attended Wake Forest University on a basketball scholarship and roomed six months of his sophomore year with Arnold Palmer, then a junior. Flick turned professional following graduation in 1952 and attempted to play tournament golf before determining that his future was in the club professional ranks.

“Jim Flick and I became good friends during our college days at Wake Forest.  In fact, we were roommates for a short period of time after Bud Worsham died,” said Palmer. “I followed Jim’s activities and fine career as a golf instructor and we communicated through the years quite a lot.  I’m very sorry that this has happened, and extend my sincere sympathy to the Flick family.”

Flick served in the U.S. Army from 1953-54, and at the conclusion of the Korean War turned professional in 1955 to become an assistant professional at Evansville (Ind.) Country Club. He followed by being named PGA head professional (1956-60) at Connersville, Ind., and from 1961-74 at Losantiville Country Club in Cincinnati. Flick was treasurer of the Southern Ohio PGA Section as the Section played host to the 1964 PGA Championship at Columbus Country Club, and was Section president (1967-69) when NCR Country Club in Dayton hosted the 1969 PGA Championship.

Flick’s advertisement to invite students to his golf schools underscored his commitment to learning a game that was a constant exercise in learning.

“Although golf is a game of infinite subtlety and possibility, always remember that the door that leads to its inner secrets and rewards is marked fun,” said Flick.

“From the first time I met him, I found him to be a very remarkable man,” said Hall, who first met Flick in 1982 at Turnberry, Scotland. “His commitment to improvement was very much alive throughout his life. The number of players he helped was countless. We traveled around the world together, and he always showed up with a smile on his face and anxious to help others feel better about themselves in golf. I think that Jim continuously tried to elevate his work in his 60s, 70s, and his 80s.

“He was the model of what a teaching professional might be, and he will go down along with a Harvey Penick as one of the most gifted teaching professionals ever.”

From 1986 through 2005, Flick was PGA director of instruction at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, Ariz. A frequent contributor to national golf publications for decades, Flick was involved or authored five books: “Square to Square Golf” (1974), “Square to Square in Pictures” (1974), “How to Become a Complete Golfer” (1980), “Jim Flick on Golf” (1997), and “Swing Analysis by Jim Flick – Jack Nicklaus, Simply the Best” (2007).

Funeral arrangements for Flick are pending. He is survived by his wife, Geri, of Carlsbad, Calif.; four daughters: Jan, Suzanne, Kimberly and Vicki; and a son, Stephen.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Health tips: Create life lessons in everyday activities

Parents often feel frustrated when attempting to get important messages and concepts across to their kiddos, no matter what the age of the children.

 Parents many times resort to “lecture mode” when dispensing thoughts we believe our youngsters need to hear from us in order to survive, or develop into the best people we see them capable of becoming. Parents may want to reconsider changing the method of delivery to a style more appropriately matching the way kids learn best.

Read the full story in our digital edition.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tiger Tale

He has won 14 majors and more than 70 tournaments around the world. He is the first golfer to earn more than $100 million, and held top spot on the Official World Golf Ranking longer than many players have careers on the PGA Tour. 

Yet one thing Tiger Woods doesn't have is a winning record at the Ryder Cup. He sports a mediocre 13-14-2 mark and has only won the celebrated mug once in his illustrious career. 

That's right, Tiger is one for six against the Europeans, and on Tuesday, he took full blame for his play.
"Well, certainly, I am responsible for that because I didn't earn the points that I was put out there for," Woods said. "I believe I was out there for five sessions each time and didn't go 5-0 for our side. So I certainly am a part of that and that's part of being a team. I needed to go and get points for my team and didn't do it. Hopefully I can do that this week, hopefully the other guys do the same and we can get this thing rolling."

Of course over most of that period of time, Woods has been the best player in the game and his opponents no doubt get up anytime they have a chance to face him. There are never any easy matches in the Ryder Cup but the chance to knock off Woods has fueled more than one team. Winning a point is a great achievement; winning one when Woods is on the other team is almost worth two, at least in the Euro team room.
"It's a huge game for an underdog to play a Tiger Woods, and they get up for it," said Graeme McDowell."They are not expected to win. When expectation levels drop, game tends to improve. A guy who plays Tiger Woods, or a player of that calibre, doesn't expect to win so he lets it all go and he plays out of his skin and gets the upset."

It's worth noting that Woods record in singles play is much better than the team portion of the competition. Alone, he's 4-1-1. It's no secret that it's been tough to find a partner for him over the years. He's played with 11 different golfers over the years although just two in his last two Cups - Steve Stricker three times in 2010 and Furyk four times in 2006. Look for Stricker to partner up this week. 

"Yeah, I think with as dominant as he was through most of those years, I think anyone would be a little surprised to see a .500," said Furyk, who along with Phil Mickelson and Woods, are the Old Guard on the U.S. team. "But also that has a lot to do with no one has an extremely good record on our team, would be my guess, and that would be because we haven't won a lot of these matches."

That may be a big chicken and egg thing, but the point is well made. And, as competitive as Woods is, losing again and again is not easy to swallow.

What may spur him on this week is the fact he no longer is No. 1, that he is facing idle chatter that his game is waning and that his time at the top is running out. Nothing would be sweeter for Woods than to secure four or even five points and win the cup.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bo Van Pelt Diary: Despite strong start, there's a lot of golf left

Bo Van Pelt is the world's 27th-ranked golfer and a Richmond, Ind., native who resides in Tulsa, Okla. He shot 8-under-par 64 Thursday and is the BMW Championship's first-round co-leader. Van Pelt, 37, is 20th in the FedEx Cup standings and has agreed to provide a daily diary, as told to Star reporter Phil Richards.

"My starts haven't been that good this year. It's always nice to get off to a good start, but it's a long golf tournament and there's going to be a bunch of guys playing well, and the way the golf course is, you've just got to put the pedal to the metal the next three days.

"I kind of have an idea of how I want to play the holes but things come up and you've got to be able to roll with the punches. Today the ball was going pretty far and the course was soft and you just had that feeling it was going to be one of those days you had to go low. I just tried to stay aggressive.

"I think the biggest thing I learned from Bethpage the first week (of the PGA Tour Playoffs) and TPC Boston the first three rounds last week, I was making too many bogeys from the fairway. There were times I just got too aggressive with my lines and would short-side myself and make a bogey. The biggest thing, I didn't make any bogeys the last round in Boston; I made 16 straight pars and birdied the last two. That was the thing I wanted to do today and I had no bogeys. When you get a golf course like this, a lot of people think you have to be so aggressive, but you're going to make plenty of birdies. The main thing is, just don't go backwards. Don't make a bogey and go the other way.

"It's early and I'm just trying to put myself in position. You never know when the back nine on Sunday is going to be your day. So that's the thing: just put yourself there."


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mike Weir: Optimistic and realistic

By his own admission, Mike Weir doesn’t have many expectations for this year’s RBC Canadian Open. He’s coming in off a year of struggles that’s seen him miss 10 cuts in 10 starts and fall to 1,438th on the Official World Golf Ranking. Weir is now the 34th-ranked Canadian on that global list; many Canadians would have a hard time naming 33 other Canadian professional golfers. 

But Weir is still positive, still confident as he approaches the first tee for the 22nd time at the RBC Canadian Open. 

“The state of my game hasn’t been very good at all,” he stated. “It’s been poor. But I’m a worker. That’s what I do.”

It was one year ago this week that Weir’s already struggling season was ended when he tore a tendon in his elbow trying to extract a ball from the tangle of hay that doubled as rough at the Shaughnessy G&CC in Vancouver. The surgery that followed sent Weir to the shelf for seven months. 

He returned at Pebble Beach after working mostly by himself but never seemed to find a groove, only breaking par twice in 21 rounds. Three months ago, he hit re-set and hired Grant Waite to coach him, which he said has been paying dividends. 

“Grant, being a former player, I think that’s one good thing. He knows a lot,” said Weir. “He’s a very smart guy and he’s able to just relay kind of what I need at the time. And he knows that this is going to be a process.”

By process, Weir means time. As in 2013. It will take that much time but at the very least, the lefthander is seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. And for the first time, it’s not an approaching train. 

In practice rounds this week, Weir has seen some good shots and some not-so-good shots that have rattled into the trees. As has been the case all year, the driver is the club giving him the most trouble. 

“It’s so up and down right now,” he stated. “I’ve played some really nice rounds where I string a bunch of good holes together and then I fall back into some bad habits I’ve gotten myself into. 

“So hopefully I can just string some of the better ones together, because my good ones, I’m hitting a lot of great shots. And my bad ones are bad. I gotta keep shaking those ones out.”

To be sure, the last year hasn’t been easy on Weir. He’s posted some almost embarrassing numbers, been the subject of ridicule on web sites and seen his career flounder. He’s been reduced to looking for sponsor exemptions after losing his status. But through it all, he’s stayed positive. 

He’s peers want nothing more than for Weir to return to form. He is exceptionally well liked on Tour and that was evident yesterday in comments from a couple of other pros who share the same age of 42 with Weir. 
“I went to the grocery store yesterday and a guy wished me well in the tournament,” said Jim Furyk, who won the tournament the last time it was at Hamilton, “and in the very next sentence he said, ‘But I think this is the event Mike Weir pulls out of it and wins.’  I said, ‘I'll be honest with you, I hope you're right.  I think it would be great.’  It would be a great story.  I wish him well, and I know how hard a worker he is, and I believe he'll play better and start playing well again.”

“Mike is a grinder,” said Open champion Ernie Els, “and I know he's working hard, and I'd love for him to get back to we know how he can play.  So hopefully it happens this week.”

Weir appreciates the support of not only his fellow players, but the fans, who followed him in a large gaggle during Wednesday’s pro-am. 

“I never get to the point where I think I’m not going to do this anymore,” Weir said, “because I love the game and I love working at it and I love the challenge. I’m still motivated and positive that I’m going to get this figured out.”

Eight years ago, Weir came within a couple of inches of winning this tournament. This week, he said he’d like to make the cut so he can get in four competitive rounds. It’s a long road back, but he’s prepared to walk it. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

UK Open ignites next month, diversity may be a missing aspect at this year’s golf mega event!

UK Open ignites next month, diversity may be a missing aspect at this year’s golf mega event!

The UK Open is about to hit the world of golf and some of this year’s best golfers have failed to qualify for the mega event in golf.

It has been a tough ride for numerous golfers this year. The world’s top-2 Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy were among the biggest disappointments this year.

The US Open was a tournament where McIlroy grasped glory last year. His name was headlining every news paper that was covering the sport of golf.

This year, McIlroy failed to defend his title and left the US Open with shame and misery.

Donald was no different. The world number 1 had the worst US Open of his entire career and was among the worst golfers in the US Open. He blamed the pressure of the entire England fan lot for his misery but clearly, that was not the case.

The BMW International Open saw Danny Willett marking his territory as the top golfer on the European field.

His level of play was of the highest order at the tournament and he seized victory with his passion and conviction.  

Unfortunately, the passion and conviction the world saw at the BMW International Open was not seen at the qualifier round for the UK Open. Willett failed to qualify and took a flight home facing anguish and regret.
Colin Montgomerie also failed to qualify for the UK Open and faced disappointment. Tom Lewis, Jose Maria Olazabal, Rich Beem and Matteo Manassero were among the golfers who will not be visible at the UK Open this year.

All of these names have done remarkably well last year but this time, their lack of consistency has been the major aspect of their failure.

Golf remains and will remain a success for consistent golfers. Big names like Tiger Woods, Lee Westwood and Ernie Els have been victimised by the world of golf just because of a single reason, inconsistency.
The UK Open will lack diversity this year with the exit of prominent names. It is up to the golfers who have qualified to avail the opportunity and add to their career record a win at the UK Open.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Olympic Torch at the home of golf

The Olympic Flame has been taken across the famous Swilcan Bridge on the Old Course in the home of golf, St Andrews.

It was also used to recreate a scene from the film Chariots Of Fire at the Fife town's West Sands beach.
The torch will travel 145 miles on this leg of its symbolic journey around the UK, reaching Edinburgh Castle on Wednesday evening..

A total of 115 torchbearers will carry the flame past some of the country's most recognisable landmarks, including the Forth Bridge, Stirling Castle, the Wallace Monument and the Falkirk Wheel.

The Swilcan Bridge dates back some 700 years and was originally built for shepherds herding their sheep over the Swilcan Burn that now winds through the first and 18th fairways.

The small stone bridge is now one of the most famous spots in the golfing world.

At the Old Course, the torch was carried by Louise Martin, 65, from Dunblane.

Mrs Martin is chair of Sport Scotland. She said: "Now that it's over, it's quite surreal. I can't believe I've actually done it. It's churning inside, just the pleasure and what it meant to me.

"Words can't explain how I feel to have just done what I've done with the Olympic Flame in my hand."

Monday, March 19, 2012

Did Tiger Woods wreck his knee training with the SEALs? Hank Haney thinks so

The Navy SEALs may have been able to do what Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh never could: Take down Tiger Woods.

The Big Miss, Hank Haney's highly touted book on Tiger Woods, hits stores in a couple weeks. And while Haney's story of Woods wanting to join the Navy SEALs caused a bit of a stir a few weeks back, the New York Times brings us a bit of a twist on that story. According to Haney, Woods "tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in an exercise with the SEALs, not while running at home."

Well. That would certainly be of interest, wouldn't it? Think Woods' sponsors and the PGA Tour would be interested in the fact that their cash cow was out participating in activities that could have led to his nine-month sideline stint in 2008-09?

Regardless of cause, Woods tore the ligament in 2007. Initially, it didn't affect him much; he won five of six tournaments to lead off the 2008 season. However, he was clearly wincing in pain during that legendary Torrey Pines U.S. Open win, and shortly afterward shut it down for the rest of the 2008 season.

Haney also contends that Woods' interest in building muscle worked to the detriment of his game and caused injuries. He blamed Woods' weightlifting for injuries to his right Achilles tendon, which Woods tore in 2008 and reinjured several times in 2009.

(Of note: Haney said Sunday afternoon on Twitter that he was "very pleased" with how the book turned out, "but not about the one sentence out of context excerpts.")

As the New York Times tells it, the book has plenty of anecdotes but nothing too surprising or devastating. Woods liked to text and talk on his cell phone; Woods joked around with former wife Elin Nordegren but remained even more committed to winning than he was to her. Haney coached Woods during six major wins but resigned via text message in May 2010. And moments like The Popsicle Incident were probably part of the reason:

"When we were watching television after dinner, he'd sometimes go to the refrigerator to get a sugar-free popsicle," Haney writes. "But he never offered me one or ever came back with one, and one night I really wanted one of those popsicles. But I found myself sitting kind of frozen, not knowing what to do next. I didn't feel right just going to the refrigerator and taking one, and I kind of started laughing to myself at how hesitant I was to ask Tiger for one. It actually took me a while to summon the courage to blurt out, 'Hey, Bud, do you think I could have one of those popsicles?'" (Haney would eventually get his popsicle ... though, apparently, at the cost of some of his dignity.)

"The Big Miss" streets on March 27.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Paul Lawrie back in world top 50 after second win in Qatar

PAUL Lawrie may have been a tad embarrassed to hear he’d been likened to Nick Faldo in his prime but the Aberdonian certainly produced a final-day performance the six-time major champion would have been proud of in winning the Qatar Masters for a second time yesterday.

“If you win that many majors, you are a legend – I don’t think I’m a legend,” commented Lawrie as he typically downplayed a display that had the Sky commentators, led by fellow Scot Ewen Murray, almost purring like never before.

One ahead at the start of play – that advantage would have been double but for the penalty Lawrie called on himself when he inadvertently dropped his ball on his marker in Saturday’s second round – the 43-year-old closed with a flawless seven-under-par 65 for a 15-under total and a four-shot success in an event reduced to 54 holes due to strong winds on Friday.

It lifted him back into the world’s top 50 – he leapt from 78th to 45th – for the first time since July 2003 and also secured spots in three of this season’s WGC events, starting with the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona in just over two weeks’ time.

If Lawrie can stay in the top 50 until the beginning of April, he will be heading back to Augusta National for a first Masters appearance since 2004. And, if he can even come close to maintaining the sort of form that has now seen him record four top-10 finishes on the European Tour for the first time in his career, he will also be in with an excellent chance of bridging another 13-year gap – he also won in Qatar in 1999 before going on to be crowned as Open champion at Carnoustie a few months later – by earning a Ryder Cup return at Medinah in September.

Based on this effort, European captain Jose Maria Olazabal would surely love to have Lawrie on his team as it was a vintage performance from the Scot, who opened with a birdie but had been caught by the resurgent Sergio Garcia by the time he boarded the tee at the par-5 ninth. After two mighty blows, Lawrie chipped in there from just short of the green for an eagle and displayed his short-game prowess once again when he repeated the feat at the 17th, this time for a birdie-2.

In between, he produced a masterclass from tee to green to leave the chasing pack with a forlorn cause. Swinging the club in textbook fashion, he had decent chances at almost every hole on the back nine, converting the ones at the 11th, 14th and 16th to give himself a handy advantage before slamming the door shut with his fifth birdie of the round at the penultimate hole.

That gave him a four-shot cushion playing the last and, though Kyle Stanley had blown a similar lead seven days earlier on the PGA Tour, there was no danger of Lawrie doing likewise. He took the danger out by laying up with his approach at the par-5 and was so relaxed that he was whistling and talking to a cameraman as he walked up the fairway. “I don’t think I can play much better than that,” said Lawrie, whose closest challengers on 11-under were world No 10 Jason Day and Peter Hanson. “I’ve been playing well for a long, long time, but it’s nice to come out one ahead and shoot seven- under.

“I was hugely disappointed in Abu Dhabi as I played phenomenal there and finished eighth, which was a bit of a kick in the teeth. So to come here and keep playing how I was and knock a few putts in was very special.”

After keeping his calm all day, it was no surprise that Lawrie was close to tears when he was asked if he’d been dedicating the win – the seventh of his European Tour career – to Adam Hunter, his long-time coach and friend who died last October following a battle with leukaemia. “Yes” was all he managed in reply.