Michael Bolton says he would caddie for Tiger Woods

Musician Michael Bolton hits a shot during the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at the Monterey Peninsula Country Club on February 14, 2015 in Pebble Beach, California.

Bolton has been a regular fixture on the celebrity golf circuit for years, getting in rounds with Bill Clinton, Bill Murray and Darius Rucker.

Courtesy of Extra Spin Staff (golf.com)

Rickie Fowler, Patrick Rodgers and Patton Kizzire tied for lead at OHL Classic at Mayakoba

A lengthy weather delay saw the second round of the OHL Classic at Mayakoba get cut short on Friday, and the plan was to finish the remainder of the round early on Saturday morning. Instead, more bad weather rolled in, delaying the morning start over five hours. When all was said and done, they finally completed the second round, with Rickie Fowler, Patrick Rodgers and Patton Kizzire sharing the lead at 10-under 132 and a busy Sunday in plain sight.

Fowler, who trailed Rodgers by one heading into Saturday, made three pars on the difficult closing stretch at El Camaleon to card a second-round four-under 67. It ended up being all he needed to catch the former Stanford star, who made two pars and a bogey on his final three holes to post a six-under 65.

“I felt like playing those last three, three pars, was good, that’s probably one of the harder parts of the golf course, the final five holes or so,” Fowler said.

The four-time tour winner has now made 10 straight cuts, and looks to finish at least inside the top 10 for the sixth time during that stretch.

Rodgers, 25, wasn’t thrilled with his short time on the course Saturday, but is still in a good spot to challenge for his first PGA Tour victory on Sunday.

“I didn’t play a very good three holes, but it’s all good,” Rodgers said. “I’m in great position, and we’ll see, I’d love to get in a full 72 holes and keep battling it out, but either way, in great position and looking forward to competing (on Sunday).”

Rodgers, Fowler and Kizzire will begin their third rounds at 7:35 a.m. EST. Kizzire, who didn’t even hit a shot on Saturday, opened with rounds of 62 and 70 in Mexico. He’s also looking for his first PGA Tour victory. The plan is for the remaining two rounds to be played Sunday, weather permitting, creating a marathon day in Mexico.

Like Kizzire, Brandon Harkins and Brian Gay also didn’t need to lift a club on Saturday, and sit one back in a tie for fourth at nine-under 133. They’ll tee off at 7:25 a.m. alongside John Oda, who also is at nine under in his first PGA Tour start as a professional. The former UNLV standout posted a second-round six-under 65 that featured eight birdies and two bogeys.

Charles Howell III was one of the few players in the field who began their third rounds late on Saturday night, and he took advantage, going four under in just six holes to get to eight under for the tournament. Ryan Moore and Russell Knox, while only getting in four and two holes respectively, are also at eight under for the tournament and two under in their third rounds. Martin Piller is also among the group at eight under after he carded a second-round three-under 68.

Courtesy of Christopher Powers (golfdigest.com)

A hard way to make a living: Here are the 12 worst jobs in golf

You know what they say: a bad day of golf is still better than a good day of work, especially if your work is one of these 12 gigs.

BEVERAGE CART DRIVER AT BOOZY CORPORATE OUTING

If there’s anything more awkward than the ham-fisted flirtations of a pudgy middle-aged man with booze on his breath, it’s the wan smile on the face of a patient young woman mixing yet another cocktail for her sloppy suitor and wondering when her shift will ever end.

RULES OFFICIAL IN FINAL GROUP OF MAJOR

The way tournaments have been going these days, odds are something’s going to happen—and when it does, you best know the 600-plus pages of the Decision on the Rule of Golf like you do your kids’ birthdays.

DRIVING RANGE PICKER

Like Mad Max on a fuel run, he heads out in his rickety, jerry-rigged ride, fully aware of the grim fate that awaits him. In an instant he is spotted by club-wielding barbarians with bucket-loads of ammo and brainless ambitions. On the course, these heathens rarely hit a green in regulation. But on the range they unleash screamers with frightening precision, whooping in celebration as they rattle the mesh cage around our hero, who, regardless of what he’s earning, should really be getting paid a whole lot more.

COURSE AMBASSADOR AT JAM-PACKED RESORT

Though it may sound grandiose, “ambassador” is an apt title for a role that strains even the finest diplomatic skills. Pressed by antsy golfers to get things moving, our on-course Kissinger drives ahead for delicate negotiations with a stubborn, sluggish foursome, who remind him haughtily that they’ve paid their $400 so they’ll take six hours if they damn well please. Ever tactful, even in the face of such surly nonsense, our ambassador strikes a statesman-like balance between persistence and politeness. But he has no real power. As the pace of play crawls on, he rides away muttering to himself, “You came out of retirement for this?”

CADDIE ON THE BAG OF ARROGANT HACK

A caddie’s job is to keep up and shut up. That part’s easy. The hard part comes when the player does neither, banging balls all over the planet while droning on incessantly about himself and his game. Being the insufferable fellow that he is, he also blames his looper for misreading putts that he barely gets rolling and misclubbing him on irons that he flat-out shanks. He caps the miserable day by failing to tip.

LOWEST RANKING CADDIE IN THE CADDYSHACK

Forced to wait all day for a single loop, he finally gets one. It turns out to be the guy described above.

CAMERA OPERATOR IN CHERRY PICKER

As if an eight-hour shift under a broiling sun isn’t hard enough, there’s nowhere to relieve yourself. Well, expect for that Gatorade bottle.

HEAD PRO AT SUFFOCATINGLY STUFFY PRIVATE CLUB

He got into this line of work because he loved the game, not because he dreamed of playing yes-man to a pack of self-important Judge Smails-types who find reason to complain in everything from the speed of the greens and plushness of the fairways to the offending branches of a 300-year-old oak tree they’re bent on seeing removed.

ASSISTANT PRO WHO HAS NEVER HAD A WEEKEND OFF

The last time he played, he shot a tidy 67. That was 11 years ago.

BALL-HAWKER DIVING INTO GATOR-INFESTED WATER HAZARDS

On the one hand, we respect the bravery and bull-headedness required to don a wetsuit and plunge into a festering, predator-filled pond in the hopes of recovering some ProV1s, which reliably re-sell for as much as a buck each. On the other hand, we wonder: has your brain gone cloudy from the bends?

GOLF LISTICLE WRITER

Years ago, when life spread out before you like a bright green promise, you dreamed of one day penning the Great American Novel. But now, in the age of Trump and Twitter, your own limited talents, combined with the limited attention span of readers, have reduced you to what you were probably meant to be: the author of a zillion golf-related lists. Hey, let’s see you try to do this.

Courtesy of Josh Jens (golf.com)

UPDATED: Napa fire burns grandstands hours after Safeway Open ends, forces evacuation of Silverado Resort

JOSH EDELSON
A tent structure built for the 2017 Safeway Open burns on a golf course at the Silverado Resort and Spa.

A fire early Monday forced the evacuation of Silverado Resort & Spa in Napa only hours after the completion of the PGA Tour’s season-opening Safeway Open.

Mitch Cosentino, a prominent winemaker in the Napa Valley, an avid golfer and friend to many on the PGA Tour, posted this on his Facebook page about 1:30 a.m. (PDT): SILVERADO COUNTRY CLUB IS IN DANGER. THE FIRES HAVE COME DOWN PAST William Hill Winery. Both sides of Hardman Rd are burning across from the driving range at the Country Club. This has passed thru a very good Cab Sauv vineyard just north of the 5th hole. I was supposed to pick Thursday. Likely no good now. Who knows what has happened to William Hill Winery.”

“Several massive wildfires burned out of control in Napa and Sonoma counties early Monday, destroying an untold number of homes and businesses, forcing the evacuation of many thousands of people and shutting down major roadways as firefighters sought to halt the advance of infernos that were driven by powerful winds,” this story in the San Francisco Chronicle said.

“Guests of the Silverado Resort and Spa on Atlas Peak Road said they had been evacuated in a rush as flames approached. The resort had hosted the Safeway Open, a PGA Tour event, which ended Sunday.

“’We were sleeping, but we kept smelling smoke,’ said Chris Thomas, 42, of Kirkland, Wash., who arrived in the Napa Valley late Sunday with his wife, Marissa Schneider, for a wine-tasting trip.”

It is not yet known whether any tour players were still at the resort, though tournament host Johnny Miller has a condominium there. Miller, on Golf Channel’s telecast on Sunday, made note of the strong winds. “This is a very unusual wind. … To have that north wind blowing out of nowhere after three days of just mild little breezes it makes it a lot tougher.”

Courtesy of John Strege (golfworld.com)

Hurricane Harvey uproots Houston golf teams

Houston golf coaches Gerrod Chadwell and Jonathan Dismuke used kayaks to rescue their programs’ Trackman, camera equipment and other electronics on Sunday from their home facility at the Golf Club of Houston. Chadwell said the water was 8 to 9 feet deep in the area around the Dave Williams Golf Academy. He sent pictures of the completely submerged championship course, which annually hosts the Shell Houston Open.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Chadwell. “It’s water as far you can see.”

The Houston women were slated to have their annual retreat at Bluejack National this year. Juli Inkster held a similar getaway filled with golf, corn hole and fishing for the U.S. Solheim Cup team candidates last April.

But with weather coming in, the Cougars instead practiced in the rain at their home facility on Friday and then headed to the home of Chadwell and his wife, LPGA golfer Stacy Lewis, for a team dinner. Chadwell said their home, which is located in the Golf Club of Houston community, is safe but lost electricity.

The traveling party of 14 then moved to the home of senior Allie Andersen in The Woodlands, Texas. Andersen’s family has a generator, but so far hasn’t had to use it.

The team got outside and played football in the rain to take their minds off of Harvey and its devastating aftermath.

Hurricane Harvey, now a tropical storm, dumped a staggering 49 inches on the city of Houston. Chadwell loaded up his team on Tuesday afternoon and headed to Dallas. It was still raining when they drove past a line of boat trailers along the side of the road.

“You see these people put their boats in off the highway to do whatever they can,” he said.

Chadwell was grateful to SMU head coach Jeanne Sutherland for gathering support from the Ladies Amateur Golf Association of North Texas to give Houston coaches gift cards to Target and other area businesses to help players buy essentials. Most players left town with only lounge-around clothes. Some don’t even have golf shoes.

Dallas Athletic Club offered to open its doors so the team can practice; they’ll use a gym on SMU’s campus.

“The golfing community is pretty cool,” said Chadwell.

The University of Houston is scheduled to reopen next Tuesday, but Chadwell isn’t sure that’s realistic. When they do return to campus, he sees volunteer work taking the place of practice. The Cougars are scheduled to open the season Sept. 15 in Franklin, Tenn., at the Mason Rudolph Championship.

“Whenever we do go home golf is going to be so secondary,” he said.

Courtesy of Beth Ann Nichols (golfweek.com)

The 10 Best Golf Resorts in North America — Chosen By You!

It’s only fitting that The Broadmoor has climbed to the top of our biennial resort rankings. Though lofty heights are nothing new for the venerable retreat in the Colorado Rockies, this is the perennial contender’s first trip to the summit. In a mild upset, the Broadmoor narrowly edged out the reigning champ, Bandon Dunes.

As always, the quality of the golf was paramount in tabulating the votes. We enjoy puffy pillows and plummy wine as much as you do, but challenging layouts and tee-box panoramas come first in our book. As you cruise through our list of Platinum, Gold and Silver medal winners, warm yourselves with late-winter thoughts of emerald fairways and hot-stone massages. This year, 15 first-time medal winners made the list, including the Grand Del Mar in San Diego, our highest-ranked newcomer.

Oh, and when you call the folks at the reservation desks, ask about special packages — including all-you-can-play deals. You might save a few bucks, or land a bigger room. And during your stay, remember two important things: (1) Never leave a birdie putt short. (2) Never tell your buddies about the mud mask and facial you had at the spa. That’s our little secret.

The Broadmoor
Colorado Springs, Colo. 855-634-7711, broadmoor.com

Since legendary entrepreneur Philip Anschutz purchased The Broadmoor in 2011, management has made impressive renovations to the hotel and its restaurants, and also dramatically upgraded the amenity package. The Broadmoor’s jump to the top spot in our rankings was powered by a runaway win in the Service category and top-5 showings in both Lodging and Food & Drink. True, the golf (three 18-hole tracks) isn’t as spectacular as it is at some iconic resorts. But the East Course — featuring design elements courtesy of Donald Ross and Robert Trent Jones — is strong enough to have hosted both the 2008 U.S. Senior Open and the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open. And, well, the Rocky Mountains will just have to suffice as the backdrop for your on-course heroics.

The American Club
Kohler, Wis. 800-344-2838, americanclubresort.com

Since we introduced the Platinum medal category in 2008, this heartland haven has earned four straight slots in the Top 3. And now the historic hotel has been remodeled, as has the adjacent Carriage House Annex. Good news for beer-and-brat fans: The celebrated Horse & Plow restaurant has reopened. The Golf score is the strong suit at The American Club. The revamped Blackwolf Run course wowed competitors at the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open. And the Whistling Straits track, with its countless bunkers and stunning Lake Michigan vistas, is muscular and demanding enough to host both the 2015 PGA Championship and the 2020 Ryder Cup.

The Greenbrier
White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. 855-453-4858, greenbrier.com

The Greenbrier is an old reliable among our Platinum winners—it just exudes tradition. Yet its golf greatness derives from the fact that it never stands still. Consider the 101-year-old Old White TPC course, one of the few C.B. Macdonald masterworks open to the public. The course was lovingly restored by Lester George in 2006, and more recently it was further toughened up to challenge the big boys on the PGA Tour, in the Greenbrier Classic. Even with its three acclaimed tracks — the Greenbrier Course hosted the 1979 Ryder Cup, Seve’s first — it’s the resort’s top-6 rankings in Lodging, Food & Drink and Service that keep it in rarified air.

Bandon Dunes Golf Resort
Bandon, Ore. 888-345-6008, bandondunes.com

The Oregon gem didn’t take long to become a legend. The oldest of its four full-length courses is only 14, but Bandon Dunes already has a place in our golf psyches. There’s something about its mix of earth and sea and sky that thrills. Although Bandon finished No. 2 overall, it won the coveted top spot in the Golf rankings. And this year, reviewers rave about Bandon’s new small-ball offerings: Bandon Preserve, a brilliant 13-hole par-3 course courtesy of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, and The Punchbowl, America’s most entertaining putting course. This 3.5-acre gathering place — or is it a watering hole? — features drink holders at every tee.

Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Kiawah Island, S.C. 800-654-2924, kiawahresort.com

When Rory Mcllroy lapped the field with his record-setting march to victory at the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah’s Ocean Course, the world was reminded of the track’s character and the resort’s beauty. Four other top-notch tracks lift Kiawah to a Top 10 Golf ranking, and the eco-sensitive resort on the Atlantic Ocean grabs top-20 spots in every other category. The pristine beaches are exquisite, the tennis program world-class, and the Sanctuary Hotel (its decor conjuring thoughts of Gone with the Wind) is a charmer. The Atlantic is a constant companion at Kiawah. As you sip a Dark & Stormy (spiced rum, ginger beer and lime) at the Ryder Cup Bar while you gaze out at the course and the waves, you’ll feel both the energy and serenity of the sea.

Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation
Greensboro, Ga. 706-467-0600, ritzcarltonlodge.com

This boutique-sized property with massive golf offerings slipped out of our Top 10 in 2012. Now under new ownership, Reynolds Plantation is back in the Platinum elite. It boasts a lovely lakeside location midway between Atlanta and Augusta — a stay would be the perfect capper to Masters week. The renovated rooms emphasize gracious Southern stylings, and the restaurant, Georgia’s Bistro — with timber ceiling beams and a baronial fireplace — has been polished up. And they haven’t forgotten the golf. A reworking of the Landing course by original architect Bob Cupp, with former Augusta National superintendent Billy Fuller, has restored The Ritz at Reynolds to its elevated status.

Pebble Beach Resorts
Pebble Beach, Calif. 800-654-9300, pebblebeach.com

We could treat the three resorts — the Lodge at Pebble Beach, the Inn at Spanish Bay and Casa Palmero — as separate properties. But the shuttle system, shared facilities and overall high quality make them feel like one dream-fulfilling package. Always a top-5 scorer in Golf (Those rocks! Those seals! That ocean!), Pebble has upped the ante yet again, this time by tweaking the greens and expanding the practice facility. The biggest upgrade in dining options is The Bench, a new restaurant that overlooks the 18th hole at the Lodge at Pebble Beach. Wood-roasted entrées, relaxed ambience and Instagram-worthy views of the Pacific have already made it wildly popular with both guests and locals. It’s no surprise that Pebble…well, rocks.

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka’upulehu
Kailua-Kona, Big Island, Hawaii 808-325-8000, fourseasons.com/hualalai

As if you needed another reason to visit paradise, this multiple Platinum winner on the dry north Kona coast of Hawaii’s Big Island earned the No. 1 ranking in Lodging. Guests rave about the resort’s roomy, low-slung bungalows, which melt into the landscape and offer a seamless transition between indoors and out. For good measure, the property scored a third-place finish in Service and a fourth in Food & Drink. There’s plenty to tweet home about on the oceanside Jack Nicklaus course; it’s friendly, lava-lined and packed with holes demanding enough to test the Champions Tour pros each year in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship.

Pinehurst Resort
Pinehurst, N.C. 855-235-8507, pinehurst.com

This June, Pinehurst’s fabled No. 2 will make history when it hosts both the men’s and women’s U.S. Opens in back-to-back weeks. Donald Ross’s classic course — and those famed crowned greens — will be ready, having been brilliantly restored by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. Many of the resort’s other golf venues have been polished up as well. They’ve converted the bent-grass greens on courses 1, 3 and 8 to the smoother-rolling ultra-dwarf Bermuda. And they’ve added a new 18-hole putting course, Thistle Dhu, so named because when steamship magnate James Barber first saw the property on which he built his estate — and the first miniature golf course in the country — he is rumored to have said, “This’ll do.”

Sea Island Resort
Sea Island, Ga. 888-732-4752, seaisland.com

If you’re a charter member of Foodie Nation, take note: Sea Island won the resort Food & Drink crown. That’s quite a coup given all the good eats out there. A new dining option, Tavola, merges classic Italian with traditional Lowcountry accents in a casual environment. And Sea Island is also top 5 across the board: No. 3 for Lodging (both for its Lodge and for its historic Cloister), No. 4 for Service, and stellar as to the golf. The Retreat Course was reworked by Davis Love Ill and his brother Mark in 2000. The Plantation course makes magic of marshes, and the links-style Seaside course, host to the McGladrey Classic, is both beautiful and Tour-tough.

Courtesy of Joe Passov (golf.com)

9 things you need to know about British Open host Royal Birkdale

Here’s what you need to know about Royal Birkdale Golf Club, the host of the 2017 British Open Championship.

1. Royal Birkdale, located in Southport, England, has hosted the British Open nine times, starting in 1954. Past winners include Arnold Palmer in 1961, Lee Trevino in 1971, Johnny Miller in 1976 and Tom Watson in 1983. Padraig Harrington was the most recent winner at the course, in 2008.

2. It is one of three courses in northern England that’s in the Open Rota.

3. Birkdale was opened in 1889 and became an early pioneer in women’s golf when club members voted to allow women to play the course for three days each week.

4. In 1890, the first women were elected as members. One of the first tournaments hosted at Birkdale was a ladies’ championship.

5. In the 1969 Ryder Cup, Birkdale was the site of the famous “Concession.” Jack Nicklaus conceded the 18th hole to Tony Jacklin in what the club’s history calls “a gesture of supreme sportsmanship which has never been forgotten.” The match ended in a 16-16 tie. He finished T4 and two off the lead.

MORE: The outrageous and crazy adventures of the Claret Jug

6. Justin Rose burst onto the scene at the 1998 Open at Birkdale. Playing as a 17-year-old amateur, Rose shot 66 in the second round and was tied for second place through 36 holes. He turned professional when the tournament was over.

7. At three over, Harrington’s 2008 score was the highest to par of the nine Open winners to conquer Birkdale. That week the course was blasted by 20-mph winds and driving rain. In the final round, only three players managed to break par.

8. Harrington is the only Irish winner at Birkdale. No Brit has ever won the Open there.

9. You can play where the pros do, as Royal Birkdale is open to the public, but only at certain times. Check the website for more details.

courtesy of Golf Wire

Sergio was golf’s tragic figure; now he’s the champion he was meant to be

In the shadow of Medinah Country Club’s majestic clubhouse, at a PGA Championship long ago, Ben Crenshaw waited for his audience with the boy king. Crenshaw was a month away from serving as captain of the 1999 U.S. Ryder Cup team, so he was closely eyeing the final round of the PGA, watching to see how both teams might gel. Just moments earlier, Sergio Garcia had run out of holes in a thrilling duel with Tiger Woods, failing to claim the Wanamaker trophy but securing a spot in his very first Ryder Cup. “Boy, that kid is gonna be a handful,” Crenshaw said. Finally, the young Spaniard materialized, and Crenshaw offered him a manly hug and some down-home consolation: “You didn’t get this one, but you’re gonna win so many of these you’re gonna get tired of lifting trophies.”

Of course, who didn’t get swept up in the turn-of-the-century Sergiomania? The kid had it all, including a boyishness that transcended borders. But what Crenshaw couldn’t know was that the “99 PGA Championship would propel Woods to the most dominant run of golf ever played. Poor Sergio had his spirit crushed along the way, and by the time the 2002 U.S. Open rolled around, his public image had already curdled, culminating in him flipping the bird to a Bethpage gallery that was mercilessly heckling him. (Sometimes the jeers turned into mockery, as when Sergio showed up for the final round of the 2006 Open Championship, and another showdown with Woods, in an all-yellow outfit. Overserved fans took to calling him both “Big Bird” and “Banana Man.”) Over the next decade and a half, Garcia did indeed manage to lift many trophies, but of course no majors. He had good health, immense wealth and a string of glamorous girlfriends, and yet he somehow became a tragic figure—what the British tabloids liked to call a “nearly man.”

It was when we finally gave up on Garcia that he became the player he was meant to be, winning the 2017 Masters in one of the grittiest, most satisfying performances ever. Decades from now they’ll be singing songs in Spanish taverns about Garcia’s par out of the hazard on the 13th on Sunday, and his flag-hunting approach shots on 15 and 18, to say nothing of the decisive birdie in sudden death. That putt caught a piece of the hole and tumbled in. Back in the old days, when Garcia saw himself as a dogged victim of inexorable fate, his ball would have done a power lip-out and trickled off the green.

Much was made at Augusta of how Garcia has been changed by his fiancée Angela Akins, the former Golf Channel talent. Her father Marty is an underrated part of the story. Just as Dustin Johnson is benefiting from the hard-won wisdom of his future father-in-law, Wayne Gretzky, Garcia has fallen under the thrall of Marty, an All-American quarterback at the University of Texas who was such a schoolboy legend that LBJ personally recruited him on behalf of the Longhorns. On Saturday evening at this year’s Masters, I found Marty on a couch in the Augusta National locker room. He had tired of battling the crowds and was plopped in front of a large TV. “I want to see his eyes,” he said of Garcia. And what did his future son-in-law’s visage reveal? “I see confidence,” he told me. “He’s not afraid of anyone or anything.”

Where does Garcia go from here? Ben Hogan won eight majors after he turned 37. Phil Mickelson nabbed multiple majors at an advanced age. Maybe Garcia will go on a run to secure his place in the pantheon. Or maybe this Masters will be the exclamation point on a very good career. Either way, the man has already been made whole.

courtesy of (golf.com) Alan Shipnuck

U.S. Open 2017: Johnny Miller pours cold water on Justin Thomas breaking his record

As Justin Thomas broke Johnny Miller’s record for low score in relation to par at the U.S. Open, people far and wide made cracks about the NBC announcer not enjoying the moment. Turns out, they weren’t too far from the truth.

Thomas shot a third-round 63 at Erin Hills — punctuated by an eagle on No. 18 — to match Miller’s famed final round score from the 1973 U.S. Open. But his nine-under-par total was one better than Johnny’s eight under at Oakmont.

RELATED: Our favorite Johnny Millerisms

Yet Miller seemed to pour some cold water on JT’s record-breaking round when Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner spoke to him on Saturday evening:

“Taking nothing away from nine-under par — nine under is incredible with U.S. Open pressure,” Miller said. “But it isn’t a U.S. Open course that I’m familiar with the way it was set up.” Hmm. . .

Of course, Miller has a point. Erin Hills, which is hosting its first major championship, has yielded unusually low scores for a U.S. Open. In addition to Thomas’ 63, there have already been four other rounds of 65, and more players broke par on Saturday than during any previous third round at the tournament. But. . . he still comes across as slightly bitter.

RELATED: The winners & losers from Day 3 at the U.S. Open

Although, Miller’s mixed reaction (he did give Thomas credit for going that low under U.S. Open pressure) shouldn’t come as a surprise. NBC booth partner Dan Hicks said during a recent Golf Digest podcast that Miller wasn’t too thrilled about Henrik Stenson shooting 63 in the final round of last year’s Open Championship. Not that we blame him. And he’s certainly not the first athlete to root against young whippersnappers coming after their predecessors’ records.

On the bright side for Johnny, he didn’t have to sit in the booth and analyze Thomas’ round on live TV. And we’re pretty sure this is the first time he’s ever trended on Twitter.

courtesy of Alex Myers (golfdigest.com)

Tiger Woods found asleep at the wheel, didn’t know where he was when arrested for DUI

Fourteen-time major-winner Tiger Woods was found asleep in the driver’s seat and didn’t know where he was when he was arrested for DUI early Monday morning, according to the police report released Tuesday.

The report of Woods’s Memorial Day DUI arrest was released by the Jupiter Police Department Tuesday, and it details an alarmingly dangerous string of events for Woods, who last played professional golf in February.

According to the report, Officer Palladino saw Woods’s black Mercedes stopped in the right lane with the vehicle running, brake lights on and right blinker flashing at 4:22 a.m. The officer reported that Woods was alone in the car, had his seat belt on and was found asleep at the wheel.

“Woods had extremely slow and slurred speech,” according to the report, which listed Woods’s attitude as “sluggish, sleepy, unable to walk alone.”

Woods, 41, blew a 0.000 in two breathalyzer tests. He said in his statement Monday night that alcohol was not a factor, instead that it was “an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications.” According to the report, Woods said he was taking Solarex, Vicodin, Torix and Vioxx (but that Vioxx hadn’t been taken this year).

Woods told the officer he was “coming from LA California from golfing” and that he “did not know where he was. Woods had changed his story of where he was going and where he was coming from. Woods asked how far from his house he was.”

During his field sobriety test, Woods was not able to maintain a starting position, according to the report, and missed his heel to his toe each time while trying to walk a straight line. He stepped off line several times and needed to use his arms to balance himself. After police repeated the instructions, Woods again failed to maintain a starting position. Woods also struggled to maintain a starting position when conducting a one-leg stand and when placing his finger to his nose. During Woods’s one-leg stand test, he didn’t raise his leg off the ground farther than six inches. He placed his foot onto the ground several times for balance.

The officer asked Woods if he understood the Romberg test (reciting the alphabet backwards). He responded, “Yes, recite the National Anthem backwards,” according to the report. Woods eventually completed the task.

According to the report, Woods did take a urine test, but results of that have not yet been made available. Woods will be arraigned on July 5.

Woods last played pro golf on Feb 2., when he shot 77 to open the Dubai Desert Classic. He withdrew the next day citing back spasms. On April 20 he announced he had undergone his fourth back surgery.

courtesy of Josh Berhow (golf.com)

Nate Lashley, who lost his parents and girlfriend in plane accident, is close to earning his tour card

QUITO, ECUADOR – SEPTEMBER 18: Nate Lashley of the U.S. final 18th hole during the final round of the PGA TOUR Latinoamerica Copa Diners Club International at Quito Golf and Tennis Club on September 18, 2016 in Quito, Ecuador. (Photo by Enrique Berardi/PGA TOUR)

Nate Lashley won the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship on Sunday, the first Web.com Tour title in his career. At 34, Lashley is second on the circuit’s money list, in solid position to earn his PGA Tour card. In itself, a minor-league journeyman finally reaching the show, while touching, is not particularly newsworthy. But once you learn what Lashley had to overcome to reach this precipice, he’ll instantly earn your rooting interest.

While he was a junior at the University of Arizona, Lashley’s parents and his girlfriend visited him in Oregon as Lashley competed in the 2004 NCAA West Regional. After the tournament, Lashley returned to Tucson while his parents and girlfriend were set to fly to their hometown of Scottsbluff, Neb. However, he began to worry when he didn’t hear from the trio. He would find out three days later they were killed in a plane crash near Gannett Peak in Wyoming.

“It was a huge part of my life,” Lashley said in a 2016 interview with the Lake County News Sun. “It was pretty tough for quite a while, definitely for a few years. I tried to use golf in college as something to do other than always think about it. Golf is very mental. It was difficult to play and tough because you always are going to think about it.”

Being a mini-tour player is a rough go for any player, let alone one in their mid-30s. But after the tragedy, Lashley realizes golf’s spot in the larger context of life.

“It puts some perspective because you never know what’s going to happen,” Lashley said. “It makes golf a little easier from looking at the perspective that golf isn’t such a big deal.”

Lashley has bounced around the world for almost 12 years, yet is finally catching a break. He topped the PGA Tour Latinoamerica money list last year for an invite to the Web.com Tour. Through a third of the season, he’s fourth in scoring average, with three top-10s and six top-25s.

“It’s unbelievable,” Lashley told the Omaha World-Herald after his Sunday victory. “Words can’t really express it. I’m extremely happy and I feel extremely fortunate to be able to be here and be playing well and get a win this week.”

Lashley needs a few more respectable finishes to secure his PGA Tour card for 2018. Still, for the first time in his career, Lashley’s mini-tour marathon has an end in sight. And what a story it would be if he can get cross that finish line.

courtesy of golfdigest.com

Who has more natural talent: John Daly or Tiger Woods? Daly gives his opinion

Tiger Woods and John Daly joke during the Battle at the Bridges back in 2005 in Rancho Santa Fe, California.

Fresh off his first win in 13 years at the Insperity Invitational, John Daly answered questions about how his talents compare to Tiger Woods’s on the Dan Patrick Show Monday.

“We’re really close on that,” Daly said, after considering the question for a moment. “But I think his feel around the greens when he was winning all those tournaments was a lot better than anybody’s. You could almost say it was better than Nicklaus … Tiger was always one to two, three, four steps ahead of me in this game. His focus and mentality is probably one of the strongest I’ve ever seen in a golfer.”

Daly compared his own approach to the game to Fuzzy Zoeller’s, Arnold Palmer’s and Lee Trevino’s, saying that he’s “loose and fancy free,” and “not a range rat.” Check out the full clip below.

courtesy of (golfwire)

Sergio wears “green jacket” at soccer match

The green jacket tour continues.

Sergio Garcia traded in the golf course for the pitch on Sunday as he took the ceremonial kick-off at the La Liga Clasico match between Real Madrid and Barcelona. And of course, he was wearing his Masters green jacket.

Garcia, a Real Madrid fan, was promised this opportunity by the club’s president, Florentino Perez, if he ever won a major. Mission accomplished.

courtesy of golf.com

Heading to the Masters? 10 ways to be a proper patron

It’s obvious when you first step foot on the grounds of Augusta National for the Masters tournament that a certain kind of behavior is expected out of the patrons. It’s quieter, except for those birds chirping, and the patrons seem to have a reverent attitude. I mean, this is like going to the Holy Church of Golf. All the caddies are wearing white, many of the women are in their Sunday best, and yes, the golfers do plenty of praying, especially on Sunday.  But if you’ve never been before, how do you know how you’re supposed to conduct yourself as a patron? It’s not like we’re born with this ability; it’s learned. Admittedly, the list below seems to be more about don’ts than do’s, but it’s really not that hard. If you’re fortunate enough to have credentials (i.e. tickets), just follow these guidelines, and you’ll be fine.

par 3 contest

1. Down in front

Okay, there’s an order to things here at Augusta National. Areas for patrons with chairs are even roped off, and patrons get there mighty early in the morning to claim their spot. If you’re wandering the course, trying to follow a particular group, you’ll need to be tall or find a nice hill or bleachers to watch the action. A great viewing area, by the way, is the bleachers behind the 12th tee, where you can see the 11th green, the par-3 12th and much of the par-5 13th, better known as Amen Corner.

Also, it’s a big no-no for patrons to run while on the grounds, whether it’s to get a front row spot to spy Jordan Spieth going for 13 in two or to get in line for a pimento cheese sandwich. You may be lucky to get away with a warning.

2. Leave your cell phones in the car

Or in the hotel room. I mean, they’re adamant about this. Forget the fact that almost all PGA Tour events allow cell phones on the course, even encouraging you to download the tournament app so you can follow the leaderboard, this is a tradition like no other, which means those mechanical scoreboards have done the job in the past and are doing the job today. And if you were planning to use your camera as a phone, fuhgeddaboutit. Even during practice rounds, when you can take your camera, you can’t bring those fancy Androids or iPhones that take better pictures than most $500 cameras.

3. Don’t wear a green blazer

If you’re going to be a good patron, you’ve got leave that green jacket in the car or at home or in the hotel room. Those are reserved for members and past champions. You don’t want to cause any confusion out there, impersonating Doug Ford or Condoleezza Rice. If you must wear a blazer, pick a plaid one from the tournament that follows the Masters.

Be sure to leave the denim at home and, while we’re at it, consider saving the Loudmouth Pants for another week.

4. Smoke the fattest cigar you can find

I don’t know if there’s a better place to smoke cigars than where most of the old legends used to smoke Lucky Strikes and Camels. (There’s a great Frank Christian picture of Ben Hogan and Arnold Palmer waiting on the tee puffing away, during the 1966 Masters.) But please make sure it’s a good one, like a Cohiba, since everyone around you will be smoking it, too.

5. Shop, but not ’til you drop

Okay, if you’re going to the Masters, you have to bring back lots of souvenirs for everyone, but not too many. After all, if you’re one of the those patrons who comes out of the massive Masters merchandise building with $50,000 worth of memorabilia, it’s pretty obvious you’re hitting the secondary market for your own gain, and that ain’t cool.

Just buy your closest friends a gift. They love those $16 coffee mugs. Every golfer who has received one of those from me drinks out of it every day.

6. Save room for Masters Mini Moonpies

I mean, other than the Masters, when do you get to eat these things? I don’t even know where to find regular moon pies in the grocery stores anymore. They’ve had them at Augusta National forever. I think there’s marshmallow in them and there’s chocolate on the outside, a winning combo. It gives you energy to climb all those hills, which look way bigger in person than on TV. So don’t fill up on $1.50 pimento cheese sandwiches or Masters potato chips or Masters trail mix or Masters peanuts; save room for those sweet little saucers.

7. Arrive early and stay at Augusta late

What else are you going to do while in Augusta? Sleep in at your $300-a-night Super 8 crash pad? Breakfast at the Waffle House and dinner at Hooters (two of many blue collar staples on Washington Rd.)? Instead, take it all in. Get there at the crack of dawn and stay until the last putt is holed. And why not? Food is affordable at the Masters.

8. No ‘Mashed potatoes!’ please

No, “You da mans,” “Get in the hole” or any other lame comments. This is the Masters, man. A polite golf clap will do nicely and when they do something really spectacular — like when Tiger Woods holed out that pitch shot from behind the 16th green — you can let loose like any other golf tournament.

9. Adults: Lay off the autographs

If you’re over say, 25, no autographs. Leave that for the kids. We know what those 50-year-olds are likely doing with those autographed flags they’re supposedly bringing back for family and friends: cashing in with the collectible guys.

10. No scalping tickets outside the grounds

Okay, so you’ve got tickets for the whole week and you want to take a day off to play golf at the nearby River Club in North Augusta or Aiken (S.C.) Golf Club just 20 minutes away. Don’t even think about scalping those tickets near the grounds to pay for the green fees. This is punishable by jail, fine or even worse, permanent expulsion from Magnolia Lane.

courtesy of Mike Bailey (golfadvisor.com)

Edward Norton v. Alec Baldwin: Hollywood goes head to head over proposed Hamptons golf course

Actors Edward Norton and Alec Baldwin are the latest high-profile activists on either side of the proposed Hills resort on Long Island.

A proposed golf community in the Hamptons is causing a lot of controversy, and now Hollywood heavyweights are taking sides.

For the better part of a year, actor Alec Baldwin has become an outspoken ally of some Hamptons residents who oppose the construction of The Hills, an 18-hole golf course, clubhouse and 118-luxury home resort plot on 600 acres in East Quogue, New York. The parcel of land is owned by the Arizona-based Discovery Land Company and headed up by developer Mike Meldman, who names actor Edward Norton as a friend.

Though the community on Long Island has been split for years on the development, Norton has only recently come on board to help advise Meldman and his company on how to prevent water pollution, one of the residents’ main concerns. Many worry that the proposed development will prove to be disastrous for the East End environment, while others in support think the project will help bolster the Hamptons economy. Norton is the president of the U.S. board of the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust and a UN goodwill ambassador for biodiversity, and has worked with technology that removes nitrogen from runoff previously.

A report stated that Meldman will employ Baswood waste treatment, of which Norton is the chair of the board, to handle the Hills project.

Baldwin is concerned that companies like Meldman’s have too much leeway in the practices used to develop these land parcels, thanks to an area rezoning legislation known as planned development districts, or PDDs. A PDD’s goal is to encourage more flexibility and creativity in designing residential, commercial, industrial and mixed use areas than is currently allowed under conventional land use regulations. Baldwin, who is an Amagansett resident, released a public service announcement in 2016 in support of repealing the legislation, specifically naming the Hills in his plea.

“The biggest and baddest development on Long Island is The Hills at Southampton proposed mega golf resort on some 500 acres of land that is the largest privately owned Pine Barrens parcel remaining on Long Island,” Baldwin said.

Norton’s involvement comes a few months before the development’s third and final public hearing in June.

“The project represents a much lower density development with much greater retention of open space and ecology than the development zoning allowed for or had originally planned,” Norton said. “Without any doubt, a cutting-edge wastewater treatment system gives the community the opportunity to reduce nitrogen contamination of the inland waterways, which is critical.”

 

Agent: Tiger still undecided on Masters, report that suggests otherwise is “comical”

After withdrawing from the Dubai Desert Classic, Tiger Woods’ status for the Masters is still up in the air.

We’re less than three weeks away from the Masters, and it’s still unclear if Tiger Woods will play or not.

This “will he or won’t he?” isn’t new regarding Woods and the season’s first major. He missed the 2014 and ’16 Masters with reports coming in all along the way about his health and practice regimen. This year appears to be no different.

On Friday, Golf Digest released a report with sources claiming Woods hasn’t been able to play or practice since back spasms forced his withdrawal from the Dubai Desert Classic. Mark Steinberg, Woods’ agent, offered the following rebuttal to the Golf Channel where he specifically mentions the author, Brian Wacker.

“I have no idea who Mr. Wacker’s really close sources are,” Steinberg said. “I can tell you this, nobody spoke to him; so how he could know something that Tiger and I don’t know is comical. I talked to Tiger four hours ago on the phone. We’re not in a situation to even talk about playing in the Masters now. He’s gotten treatments and is progressing and hoping he can do it. There’s not been a decision one way or the other. I couldn’t give you a fair assessment, but to say it’s doubtful is an absolutely inaccurate statement.”

The most interesting takeaway: Even though the opening round of the Masters is 19 days away, Woods isn’t in “a situation to even talk about playing in the Masters.”

Steinberg was also asked about Woods’ practice routine, and he said, “I don’t want to talk about specifics yet. When we’re ready to get into that, we’ll disclose it. He’s working hard at getting better, he’s working hard at progressing.”

Woods will be in New York City on Monday to sign copies of his new book. If you’re in the area, you can go straight to the source and ask him about his Masters plans yourself.

courtesy of Coleman McDowell (golf.com)

UCLA Bruins Have Bel-Air Country Club Edge When It Comes To 2017 U.S. Amateur

The iconic swinging bridge at Bel-Air

A winding five-mile stretch along iconic Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles leads from one historic golf club to another for the 312 competitors who will tee it up in the 117th U.S. Amateur Championship this August.

And the fact that Bel-Air Country Club and The Riviera Country Club will serve as stroke-play co-hosts for the United States Golf Association’s oldest and most prestigious amateur championship is enough to get the adrenaline flowing every time the UCLA men’s golf team practices during the season.

That’s because every UCLA golfer who qualifies for the 2017 U.S. Amateur will have a wealth of course knowledge and strategic advantages over his fellow competitors.

“We play Bel-Air two to three times a week, and we probably play Riviera a couple times a month,” said Derek Freeman, in his 10th season as the Bruins golf coach. “So we know the courses extremely well. . . .I think any of our guys on our team will have a great opportunity (to advance) if they qualify. That knowledge would definitely be an advantage.”

That will be especially true at Bel-Air, which has been the primary home course for UCLA golf teams for more than 50 years, not surprising considering that longtime Bel-Air head professional Eddie (“Little Pro”) Merrins also was UCLA’s golf coach from 1975-88.

Designed by the renowned George C. Thomas and William P. Bell and opened in 1927, Bel-Air Country Club is a 6,729-yard, par-70 layout with world-class routing that expertly weaves through four different canyons. There are tunnels to navigate and a distinctive white swinging bridge leading from the tee box on the par-3 10th hole that traverses a huge ravine on the way to the green. Fittingly, the elevated tee on the par-5 first hole features distant views of UCLA campus buildings across Sunset Boulevard.

The course previously was the site of two other USGA championships – the 1976 U.S. Amateur and the 2004 U.S. Senior Amateur — and has been the scene of colorful history through the years. Katherine Hepburn, Alfred Hitchcock, Conrad Hilton and Ronald Reagan all had homes on the course and, according to published reports, Howard Hughes once landed his private plane on a fairway to impress Hepburn, who was taking a lesson from one of the pros. The next day, Hughes was no longer a member.

“It’s a very interesting place, because you really have to know the golf course well to score well,” Freeman said. “It’s not to say you can’t go there and play well if you’ve only played it one or two times, but it’s got so many nuances because it’s tucked up in the canyons. The poa annua greens are very difficult, too – and that’s the defense of a course that’s not overly long with today’s technology and the way these young guys play.

“The key to the course is you have to drive it in the fairway. And if you do that, you have to control your second shot and hit it on the proper part of the green. . . .If you find yourself in difficult situations on the golf course – the wrong part of the green, the wrong part of the fairway and you miss it in the wrong spot – it just becomes a very difficult golf course really quick.”

UCLA junior Tyler Collier, the most experienced player on his team and a two-time U.S. Amateur qualifier, is looking forward to trying to qualify again, especially because of the familiar venues. He says his Bruins teammates are excited about the opportunity, too.

“It’s a topic of discussion that comes up quite a bit just because everybody wants to make it this year; everybody wants to play Bel-Air and Riviera,” Collier said. “I believe everybody on the team will try to qualify; no reason not to.”

Everyone who qualifies will play one round of stroke play at Bel-Air and one round of stroke play at Riviera, and then the top 64 advance to match play at Riviera. Local qualifiers in Southern California will be conducted in July at courses such as Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles, Oakmont Country Club in Glendale, Mission Viejo Country Club in Orange County and Western Hills Country Club in Chino Hills. Players in the top 50 of the World Amateur Golf Ranking are automatically exempt.

“For anyone on our team who makes it, it’d be a huge advantage, because we get to play Bel-Air a few times a week when we’re home (during the season),” Collier said. “We know the course better than anyone else who’s going to be playing in the championship. We know all the hole locations and all the breaks in the greens, so that would be an advantage for us. Course knowledge off the tee and around the greens is very important at Bel-Air.”

Another advantage for UCLA qualifiers, depending on tee times assigned, is knowing how to play the course under different conditions.

“In my opinion, the draw for the U.S. Amateur is going to be really critical for success,” Freeman said. “When you play Bel-Air in the morning, as opposed to the afternoon, there’s a big difference. In the morning, when it’s cooler, it plays longer and more difficult. In the afternoon it gets much warmer and the ball goes a lot farther, so the course plays much shorter. And so I think there’s an inherent advantage if you get a late tee time at Bel-Air in the afternoon.”

Collier echoed his coach’s sentiments.
“We usually play (practice rounds) at Bel-Air at 7 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when the course plays longer and softer than it does at 1 p.m.” he said. “So if you play a practice round early (in the U.S. Amateur) and then get a late tee time, you’re going to be playing two completely different golf courses.”

The course record at Bel-Air is 61 by USC’s Tom Glissmeyer during a 2008 team qualifying event. Former Lakers star Jerry West still holds the back-nine record of 28 while shooting a round of 63 in 1970. Collier, whose career-low at Bel-Air is 64, says the toughest holes on the course are the 200-yard par-3 10th, which can play as much as 30 more yards uphill; the 442-yard No. 2 and 438-yard No. 4, both par-4s; the 228-yard, par-3 13th and the long and narrow 584-yard, par-5 14th.

“And there’s a creek that runs through the middle of the back nine,” Freeman said. “It comes into play on five holes and can cause you problems.”

Of course, Collier and his Bruins teammates – including sophomores Cole Madey and freshman Hidetoshi Yoshihara — know all of the quirks and nuances at Bel-Air. That’s why they are all hoping for another “home game” in August.

“I think all of our guys will have an extra incentive to qualify,” Freeman said. “Tyler (Collier) works very, very hard on his game, and I think he’s got a great chance to make it and take advantage of knowing the course so well. Cole has been getting better and better each week; he’s going to have a great opportunity to make it. And then there’s Hidetoshi; even though he’s a freshman, he’ really starting to play some nice golf and I can see him having an opportunity.”

Yoshihara previously qualified for the 2015 U.S. Amateur while at Woodbridge High in Orange County, where he won the CIF state championship as a senior. Collier qualified twice for the U.S. Amateur – in 2014 at Atlantic Athletic Club, where he shot 76-81 and missed the cut for match play, and in 2015 at Olympic Fields in suburban Chicago, where he shot 73-77 and missed the cut again.

But Collier, a transfer from Oregon State, says those were beneficial learning experiences for him.

“I’d say I learned about myself and my game,” he said. “In those (championships), I wasn’t far off, but I was putting too much pressure on myself and trying to do too much. The first two days (of stroke play), you’re not trying to win the golf tournament; you’re just trying to get in the top 64 (for match play). I understand that now.”

All of the UCLA players also understand they will have a home-course advantage if they qualify for the 117th U.S. Amateur Championship. They would love to make that familiar five-mile drive down Sunset Boulevard in August (Aug. 14-20 to play for the prestigious Havemeyer Trophy which has been won by some of golf’s greatest players such as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Bob Jones.

U.S. Amateur tickets are available online at usga.org/usam. Tickets are $20 (single-day grounds) and $75 for a weekly pass. Military personnel and students receive free admission with valid ID.f

Courtesy of GolfWire

Colin Montgomerie: I wouldn’t trade my career for Tiger’s

Monty—the one and only Colin Montgomerie, the Hall of Fame golfer from Scotland—is the greatest active talker in the game today. A plus-five. Possibly better than Lee Trevino in his prime. Monty is 53 and playing the Champions tour fulltime and doing some work as an analyst for Sky Sports. In that capacity, he’ll return to Augusta in April. If he ever wanted to make golf-on-TV his main gig, he would immediately become the most insightful and incisive broadcaster in the game. But in the meantime, he enjoys playing too much. He has won three senior majors, and last year he won an event called the Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship, with a first-place prize of $375,000.

As he tours America, playing the senior tour out of his BMW 750 Li, he pontificates daily, with playing partners, with pro-am participants, with his longtime caddie, Alistair McLean, with the young woman behind the front desk at the Hampton Inn or the Ritz-Carlton or wherever he may find himself. His themes change from day to day and hour to hour. His subject one day might be what he discovered at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson. The plains of West Texas. Brexit. Anything and everything.

On Wednesday, the same day that Tiger Woods canceled his pre-tournament press conference at the Genesis Open at Riviera, Montgomerie’s subject, at least for the better part of an hour, was Tiger Woods. Twenty years ago, Monty played with Woods in the third round of the 1997 Masters.

Through 36 holes Woods was leading at eight under and Montgomerie was second, three back. After Woods shot a Saturday 65 to stretch his lead to nine shots, Montgomerie, asked by a reporter if Woods could be caught, famously said, “There is no chance. We’re all human beings here. There’s no chance humanly possible.”

You don’t really interview Colin Montgomerie. You simply let him talk, which is what he does here. Ladies and gentlemen, in all his suigeneris glory, here is Colin Montgomerie:

“You have players out here, everywhere in golf, they are trying. Trying this, trying that. Tiger Woods, in his heyday, was different. He knew the putt was going to go in. His caddie knew it. We knew it. Our caddies knew it. The whole crowd knew it. The belief was massive. There was never a time you thought, Oh, he’s had it here. No.

“Everyone vilified me for the comments I made that Saturday night at Augusta. What I was saying is that we’ve just seen something very special here, that Saturday 65, to establish a nine-shot lead. The press was hesitant to believe that it was over, because [Greg] Norman had lost a six-shot lead the year before. Because now here’s this young lad, without Norman’s experience, he’s nine ahead, but you can lose from there. The press is thinking, It can happen again. Norman did it, and he’s a better player than Woods. And I was saying, ‘No, you don’t understand it—this guy’s different. Not only is he not going to lose, he’s going to win by more than nine.’ And he won by 12.

“It was something I had not witnessed. It was something nobody had witnessed. Golfers usually back into their first major. They don’t win by 12, in their first major as a pro. After shooting 40 on the front nine on the first day! I was trying to be as honest as I could with the press. I was saying that we are seeing something very special. And over the next 15 years that was proven to be correct. The talent, the focus, the vision.

“His caddie, Mike Cowan, was in amazement too. I said to Fluff on Saturday, `This is something else, isn’t it?’ And he agreed. That was on the front nine. On Saturday on the front nine I knew he was going to win.

“The length was only part of it. Tiger hit a driver and a 9-iron over the green on No. 2. I was short with a driver and a 4-wood.

“The pin was in the back left. Par-5. You go big on the 2nd, you have nothing. He had nothing. I said to Alistair, `He’s had it here, Al, hasn’t he?’ Because you can make 6 from back there in a hurry. The chip shot he played there! It was sublime. The press was focused on his length. I was focused on how he scored, how he got around the golf course, how he played chess around the golf course. How he got around it was different from how anybody else did. I had never imagined a second-shot 9-iron into the 2nd green. I was trying to leave myself an uphill chip shot for my third. Not flying a 9-iron to the flag!

“So I was trying to be honest with the press on that Saturday night. And they didn’t really quite take me up on it. But if I said to those reporters today, `Do you believe me now?’ They would all say, `You were right.’

“I do hope Tiger can come back. Everybody benefited from his run. I saw it in my life. How the game went from Palmer to Nicklaus to Trevino. Then Seve and Norman. But then it was taken to a whole different level by Tiger. And the marketing of the game has been hurt by Tiger being sidelined. Yes, we have a good set right now. Don’t get me wrong. The Jason Days, the Jordan Spieths, the Rory McIlroys, the Justin Roses, the Henrik Stensons, the Rickie Fowlers. They are good at what they do. But Tiger? Different, different. People talk about being A-list, about moving the needle. Well, he moved the needle. It would be good if Tiger could come back and contend. Just contend. Never mind win. Just to contend would be great.

“The economy was staring to hurt just at the time Tiger was losing his dominance, in 2008, ‘09, ‘10. The economy was slackening off and Tiger was slackening off and golf went through a bit of an odd time. It’s pulled out of that, but it needs that to continue.

“Before Tiger, I never thought about golf and injuries. I didn’t think about Arnold Palmer ever having an injury. I’ve never missed a round of golf for injury in my life. Everybody said it couldn’t last, the way Tiger went at it. The way he went into the rough and recoiled after the shot. If you spoke to any orthopedic doctor, they would tell you, `This is madness, what he is doing here. Madness! This can’t continue.’ And it didn’t. He broke down. He was an absolute stallion, on the edge. You see some football players in our game who pull up with a hamstring injury because they are right on the edge of fitness. With Tiger, the fitness thing got to a level where it was a wee bit too much.

“It hurt him, and it’s hurt a number of people. McIlroy is out for two months. Jason Day has had injuries. A good friend of mine on the European tour, David Howell, picked up Vijay Singh’s weighted club on the range and six months later he played golf again. He broke a rib or some such thing.

“All sports—save darts and maybe snooker—have a foundation, and it is the legs. The thought is, Let’s get our legs as strong as they can possibly be. You can’t get your legs strong enough. To me, we leave the upper body alone. A golfer has to turn his upper body. You have to be supple. You have to have feel in the upper body.

“Tiger became the best athlete in the world as a golfer. That had never been done. That sounds great. You certainly can’t knock his 14 majors. But as a sustainable entity, as a lasting entity, everybody said it was going to go, and it did.

“At that ’97 Masters, he was 6-1, maybe 170. Perfect. With that flexibility? That ability to turn? Thank you very much! What was wrong with that? He won the Masters by 12!

“I’ve spent a lot of time with Butch Harmon over the years. We do Sky Sports together at the majors. And I’ll say, `That’s the best I ever saw, Tiger in 2000, 2001, when he won his four majors in a row. And Butch says, `He tried to change things to get better.’ But he was at the top of the tree! Yes, you feel like you have to get better to stay there. But you have to be careful how you do it. It’s easy to be critical, but what he had was so fantastic. Look at the swing he had at the L.A. Open when he was 16 years old [in 1992]! Fantastic! But he was trying to stay ahead of the game in every way. He felt fitness was the key to this game. And people copied. Nick Faldo copied. Faldo got big through the chest. Suddenly, he couldn’t turn. No speed. The guy I think, in a God-given way, fell out of the cradle ready for golf was Dustin Johnson. His arms are three inches longer than they should be, which is great. But he’s so flexible. Flexibility is our key. Lack of flexibility is what stops you from playing. It stopped Faldo. It stopped Seve. It stopped Norman.

“What might Woods have done had the game never moved off the balata ball and the wooden wood? Many golf fans would say he would have won less. I believe he would have won far more. He has the 14 majors. Without the equipment changes, I believe he’d have well into his 20s now. Because now everybody has clubs where they can do what he could do.

“Two others lost out hugely to technology. Greg Norman was one. He was the best driver of the ball with the wooden club ever. He lost out when drivers went to metal and suddenly we could do what he did. He lost his asset. And the other was Seve. When Ping developed its L-wedge, with box grooves, we could suddenly do what Seve could do with a 52° club. He lost his asset too. Tiger had all that, in spades. And then we were given equipment that allowed us to do what he could do.

“I never won a major. Tiger won 14. But would I trade my career for Tiger’s? No. I started out this game a pretty good golfer and finished in the Hall of Fame. I feel I have overachieved. So how could I say I wish it were better? People will say, `Well, he didn’t win a major.’ And, yes, I would have liked to shut them up by winning one. But that’s my only regret, really. Great that I have won senior majors, which has quieted the odd person.

“I’ve made mistakes. We all make mistakes. But I’ve had a long career. I don’t think Tiger will be out here at 53. He might say, `I don’t need the money.’ But it’s not just money. It’s self-esteem. Self-esteem is huge in life. You walk a wee bit taller, having done something well. I like this life. I like meeting new people. I like the travel. I love the life. Whether it’s for everybody, I can’t say.

“If Tiger loved the life, I can’t say. For Tiger, I think there was a certain record in the back of his mind: 18, 18, 18. Or 19. Got to get to 19 majors. Whether he enjoyed the tour life, I don’t know. But that number was there—19. To be seen as the best ever. And really, he’s well beyond 19. There are the 14 majors, plus the 15 World Golf Championship events. In those, he’s beating 60 of the best players in the world! So to me, his number is 29. And then compare his 79 Tour wins to Sam Snead’s 82. Number 100 in Sam Snead’s day was a club pro who could beat Snead for a day, but never over four days. Today, No. 100 can win any week.

“Nineteen has been such a focus for him. If Tiger had his children with him fulltime, a wife, a settled home, he could have gotten to 18, to 19. I know from my own life how hard it is to play golf when your life at home is not settled. After that Thanksgiving night changed everything, he no longer had a private life. A private life by the term itself is a private life. You have a public life and a private life. And when the private life becomes public, it’s dangerous. It hurt. It hurt him. It hurt the game of golf.

“I know how difficult it is, when you’re not living with your children. I speak for myself, and I’m sure I speak for others. It’s hard to come out here and focus. Every par becomes a bogey. Every bogey becomes a double. You just about manage to get from a green to the next tee if you make a birdie. You make a bogey, and it all floods back. And you’re not focused on what you’re doing. You’re not focused at all. I feel for him that way. I do. I feel for any man in that situation. Whether it’s self-inflicted or not.

“I’m sure Tiger wants to be a committed father. His father was a committed father. And when you’re not under the same roof as your children, it’s damn near impossible. You make the most of it, but it’s not easy. I remember at the back of 18 green on Saturday at the ’97 Masters, Earl and Tiger. Tiger had just shot 65 by hitting a sand wedge into 18. There was a definite feeling of, We can do this.

“With my father, it was different. My father wasn’t as involved in my golf. Earl was about the focus golf took, the focus on winning, on getting to 19. My father was happy if I just made the cut. He still is! He’d say, `Oh, well done. You’ve beaten a lot of your peers.’ But when you win, you’re 10 feet tall. Your self-esteem is through the roof. That’s how it was for Woods after he won that Masters by 12. Being given an opportunity is one thing. But taking it is another. And he took the opportunity with two hands and he ran with it. Ran with it! Ran with it for 15 years.

“Now, Tiger’s sneezes, we all catch a cold. Every shot he hits is analyzed and over analyzed. And it must be difficult for him, because he knows that in his prime, he could beat these guys with one arm. To miss a cut by four or five shots must be painful for him.

“Going into the third round of the Open, at St. Andrews in 2005, I was paired with Tiger. The press said, `You’ve got a difficult pairing, you’re going out with Tiger.’ And I said, `Yeah, I’m not going to beat him driving the ball. He’s a better driver than I am. I can’t beat him with my iron play. I can’t chip and putt as well as he can.’ `Then what chance have you got?’ ‘The only chance I’ve got is that I can score lower.’ And I did. I shot 70, and he shot 71. And I did it playing my game. But he won that Open. Won it by four.

“The only win possibly greater than his ‘97 Masters was the U.S. Open in 2000 [at Pebble Beach], when he won by 15. But I put ’97 ahead of it. At age 21, by 12, in his first major as a pro, at Augusta? The world was like, What just happened here?”

Courtesy of Michael Bamberger (Golf.com)

Jordan Spieth clashes with ‘scums’ seeking autographs at Pebble

Jordan Spieth didn’t appreciate the language some adults used in front of kids at Pebble Beach on Wednesday.

Jordan Spieth ripped professional autograph seekers after clashing with a few at Pebble Beach on Wednesday.

Spieth was coming off the 18th green and while he was signing a few autographs for kids he heard complaints from a few adults when he didn’t sign for them as well. Spieth later said he thought they were professional autograph seekers who would sell their the memorabilia online.

“So I turned around and one of them dropped an F-bomb in front of three kids, so I felt the need to turn around and tell them that that wasn’t right,” Spieth said at his press conference Wednesday. “And a couple of them were saying, ‘You’re not Tiger Woods, don’t act like you’re Tiger.’ I mean, it’s just like, Whatever, guys. You’re still trying to benefit off me and I’m not even Tiger Woods. So, you know, what’s that say about you?”

Spieth, who will tee it up alongside Jake Owen, Dustin Johnson and Wayne Gretzky to kick off the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Thursday, doesn’t think much of those would seek to capitalize off his signature.

“I’m not appreciative of people who travel to benefit off other people’s success. And just, we’re out here to — I enjoy signing and sign for kids whenever we get the chance,” he said. “And when these guys have these items that you’ve already seen online and people, we have — our team keeps track of that kind of stuff. And these guys that just have bags of stuff to benefit from other people’s success when they didn’t do anything themselves. Go get a job instead of trying to make money off of the stuff that we have been able to do. We like to sign stuff for charity stuff or for kids or — and if you ask anybody universally it’s the same way, it’s just, they frustrate us.”

Spieth said normally he would let caddie Michael Greller handle situations like this but his frustrations got the better of him.

“I was just a little frustrated at the end and I didn’t appreciate the language that was used and just some scums that just, it just bothered me,” he said.

This isn’t the first time Spieth expressed his frustration with professional autograph seekers. During last year’s U.S. Open at Oakmont, he called out “eBayers” he saw crushing kids in the crowd while hunting for autographs.

courtesy of Josh Berhow (Golf.com)

 

Poll results: Answers to golf’s 18 toughest choices

Masters or Ryder Cup? Our readers overwhelming would rather head to Augusta than a Ryder Cup.

Every golfer loves a good debate: Tee high or tee it low? Jack or Tiger? Scotland or Ireland? But where do GOLF.com readers come down on these age-old questions? Over several days last week we polled you on 18 choices that golfers face, with the hopes of better understanding the psyche of the American golfer. More than 3,800 of you voiced your opinions, and some of the results might surprise you. (Zach Johnson over Dustin Johnson?!) The envelope, please!
1. In your ideal round, you are…

Walking: 64%
Riding: 36%

2. If you have time for one, your pre-round warm-up is at the…

Driving Range: 53%
Putting Green: 47%

3. When it comes to the rules, you play…

By the book: 60%
Fast and loose: 40%

4. Which of these two events would you rather attend?

The Masters: 81%
Ryder Cup: 19%

5. The greatest golfer of all time is:

Tiger Woods:  38%
Jack Nicklaus: 62%

6. With driver in hand, you prefer to…

Tee it high: 70%
Tee it low: 30%

7. If you can only carry one or the other…

Hybrid: 81%
3-iron: 19%

8. Would you rather drive it…

As long as Dustin Johnson: 49%
As accurate as Zach Johnson: 51%

9. If you could get one lesson, it would be from…

Butch Harmon: 74%
Hank Haney: 26%

10. Your dream golf destination is…

Scotland: 70%
Ireland: 30%

11. From the apron of the green, you’re pulling a…

Wedge: 30%
Putter: 70%

12. During a round, you’re…

Boozing: 24%
Abstaining: 76%

13. At the course your cell phone policy is…

In your pocket: 14%
In your bag: 73%
In your car: 13%

14. The ideal number of holes in one day is…

9: 3%
18: 72%
36: 25%

15.  In most rounds you prefer to…

Tee it forward: 65%
Play the tips: 35%

16. The most iconic par 3 in America is…

No. 7 at Pebble Beach: 30%
No. 12 at Augusta: 70%

17. When facing a risky approach to a par 5, you’re most likely to…

Go for it: 36%
Lay up: 64%

18. The most important question of all: At the turn, you’re gabbing a…

Burger: 24%
Hot dog: 68%
Wheatgrass smoothie: 7%

courtesy of Extra Spin Staff