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Big storms, low scores highlight opening round at Doral

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The above photo tells you all you need to know about today’s first round of the WGC-Cadillac at Doral: It was a slog. A thunderstorm cell ripped through the area just 30 minutes after play had started and delayed things for a while; crews were then forced to clean up the carnage from wind gusts upwards of 50 miles per hour.

The storm knocked over a television tower and leaderboard near the 18th green. Thankfully, nobody was hurt … except for the golf course, which promptly got ripped to shreds by the players in the field just after the weather delay was over. Hunter Mahan was 7-under after 11 holes when play was called due to darkness; seven other players were two shots back at 5-under, including new number one Martin Kaymer and Matt Kuchar. And your obligatory Tiger Woods update for the day: he’s was one-under with three holes to go.

Written by Jonathan Wall

03/10/2011 at 8:01 pm

Posted in PGA Tour

Sean Foley calls out Tiger Woods’ critics: Look how many cuts he’s made!

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As Hank Haney and Butch Harmon can tell you, being Tiger Woods’ swing coach comes with a whole new set of rules of regulations that most coaches don’t have to live by. One of the biggest changes is the media interest, good or bad, that is suddenly part of your every day life.

While Sean Foley was able to deflect most of the questions and talk early on, Woods’ recent run of poor form has the sharks in the water sniffing for blood. And boy does Foley realize what’s going on, because he’s getting mighty defensive with the media and some of his prize pupils biggest detractors. In a recent interview with Golf Canada, Foley went after a number of talking heads and former players who recently tried to poke holes in the Foley swing.

“They don’t know the truth,” Foley said in the interview. “They don’t even have a clue. They just wait until he hits one to the right, then put it on the bizhub (a slow-motion camera) and slow it down. But he might not have committed to the club. He might not have trusted where the wind is and so on.”

Not a clue, huh? I understand Tiger isn’t there just yet, but why not just let the swing speak for itself? I guess Foley feels the need to defend his swing — especially when there are still stories out there questioning if he’s using the Stack and Tilt principles with Woods. That’s an old story, but I’m pretty I’d be defending my player’s honor if rumors like that were floating around.

But that wasn’t even the best part of the interview. Foley also called out Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee and questioned his knowledge of Woods’ swing, right before he used Tiger’s made cuts to finish off the former pro.

“The crap that these guys are writing – golfchannel.com and all these different avenues of pure judgment on Tiger,” Foley said.

“When did (Golf Channel analyst) Brandel Chamblee and (NBC’s) Johnny Miller and guys like that forget how hard golf is when you have conflict and you don’t have clarity?

“Brandel Chamblee made 180 out of 398 cuts on the PGA Tour (in his playing days). Like, when did this become so easy for him? That’s like 43 per cent. You’re talking about a guy (Woods) who’s missed six cuts in his life. It’s just sensational. That’s what they do.”

That’s what we look to call a “burn,” folks. I don’t think there’s anything Chamblee can say to come back from those comments. It’s clear Foley has some pent-up anger, and a lot of that has to do with being in a situation he’s never experienced before. With a high-profile player like Woods in his stall, he’s going to take criticism like this until Tiger wins. One victory and a lot of the criticism goes away.

Written by Jonathan Wall

03/09/2011 at 1:02 am

South Carolina Rep. trying his best to save Heritage Classic

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The Heritage Classic won’t go quietly into the night. Not with South Carolina Rep. Bill Herbkersman leading a push to get a bill in place that would allow the state to lend aide to the tournament, in the event they can’t secure a sponsor for next year. But don’t get too excited; the bill is still in the infancy stage. As the Island Packet noted, the bill offers “no specific proposals; it merely summarizes the economic impact of Hilton Head Island’s PGA Tour event.”

Quite honestly, this isn’t something that should get the tournament committee thinking of an event past this year. There was already talk last year of the state considering the idea of giving the tournament a $10 million lifeline to survive, but it was the PGA Tour that came to the tournament’s rescue at the last second, throwing the event a TARP life vest to help it stay afloat. That was after South Carolina shot down the $10 million proposal before it ever had legs to stand on.

My guess is Herbkersman is proposing something along the lines of what was being considered last year, but this time he’s being clear where the money is going. As the Island Packet mentioned, last year’s $10 million proposal was going to be for promoting tourism, though most knew where the money was really going. I’m not sure it really matters if the bill is spun as something else or brought forward as a way to save the tournament, it’s going to be a tough sell.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has already said she doesn’t want taxpayer money going to help the tournament, so I’m not sure how Herbkersman expects to talk people into buying the bill. It’s wait and see at this point. If the tournament can’t secure the money and can’t find a sponsor, then they better hope the rumors of the WGC-Accenture Match Play moving to Harbour Town come true.

Written by Jonathan Wall

03/03/2011 at 7:30 am

Should we care that Tiger Woods committed to Doral? Probably not

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It’s official: Tiger Woods has decided to make Doral his next tour stop, passing over a chance to get more reps at this week’s Honda Classic to take care of some “existing commitments.” Doral is pretty predictable when you look at how Woods has gone about things in the past. Sure, he may say things are different now, but he continues to stick to his guns and play the same tournaments he played in the past.

While media outlets continue to announce his next tour stop (including this site), you have to wonder when people are going to wise up and just shrug their shoulders when he adds his name to the field. It used to be that Tiger playing a tour event was a big deal. Considering how few tournaments he played per year, every time he teed it up seemed to be a cause for celebration for the fans, and the network that was lucky enough to broadcast his event.

But since his game has gone into a tailspin, his “aura”, as Rory McIlroy called it in his recent SI article, has disappeared. Tiger announcing his next tournament no longer seems like a cause for discussion; it really just seems like a way to fill space and discuss a golfer that continues to disappoint with a new swing and a fragile psyche.

So the big question is: should we even give Tiger his own article when he announces his next event? Probably not. Assuming he gets things in order, then maybe we start talking about his tournaments like we used to in the past. For now, I just don’t see the point. Maybe it’d be better if we just let Tiger do his own thing and took the spotlight off of him for awhile. Yeah right, like that would ever happen.

Written by Jonathan Wall

03/02/2011 at 11:02 pm

Posted in PGA Tour, Tiger Woods

Harbour Town on the verge of losing PGA Tour event

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This would appear to be the end of the road for one of longest running events on the PGA Tour. It’s been a shade under a year since I first chronicled The Heritage’s tournament plight, and the tournament has still failed to secure a tournament sponsor for this year’s event, leading many to believe this is going to be the last tour stop at the famed Harbour Town Golf Links.

After today’s Associated Press story, it would appear the situation is far from positive, after Ty Votaw gave the tournament an ultimatum: find a sponsor for 2012 or risk losing your event. (The The Heritage is going sponsor-less this year for the first time since 1986.)

Tournament director Steve Wilmot said it would cost about $7.6 million for a company to underwrite the event.

Votaw and Wilmot spoke Monday at the Heritage’s gathering in advance of the tournament, which will be played from April 21-24.

While commissioner Tim Finchem and the rest of the Ponte Vedra brass continue to tell everyone that the PGA Tour is positioned to succeed in the future, it doesn’t take much to find some chinks in the armor. The Heritage isn’t a major tour stop like Doral or Torrey Pines, two events that had to look for new title sponsors in the last year, but it’s one that’s been a staple on the schedule.

It’s a damn shame to see one of the tour’s oldest stops fall by the wayside, but it looks like there’s not much else they can do at the moment. There had been talk of the South Carolina legislature helping the tournament out with a $10 million lifeline in 2011; however, you can’t expect the state to help the tournament out on a yearly basis.

Without a title sponsor for this year and in 2012, it looks like the tour will have a gigantic hole to fill on its schedule.

Written by Jonathan Wall

02/28/2011 at 1:28 pm

Kaymer snood, scarf, keffiyah debate settled by a guy in Jacksonville, Fla.

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The great neck wear debate is over! Just one day after Martin Kaymer made headlines with the scarf/snood/keffiyah he wore during Sunday quarterfinal and semifinal, Florida Times-Union golf writer Garry Smits was able to settle the debate by getting the answer directly from the horse’s mouth.

Apparently, the neck warmer that was called every name under the sun wasn’t any of the above. It’s actually called a “Buff” and is used by fly fisherman as a piece of headware to prevent them from getting sunburned. The item, designed by angler Vaughn Cochran, somehow made its way into Kaymer’s hands where he immediately turned it into one of the most talked-about items in Saturday’s telecast.

Turns out Martin Kaymer of Germany, the last no. 1 seed remaining in the tournament and one of the finalists Sunday, was wearing a scarf designed by Cochran, the owner of Jacksonville-based Black Fly Outfitters. Cochran’s business, located on Beach Boulevard in the Strike Zone Fishing Center, sells clothing and equipment for adventure travelers.

“[Cochran] said Kaymer may have stumbled onto another use for the scarf, which has been sold by Black Fly Outfitters for four years.

“It protects against the sun, but it certainly could be useful for protecting against the cold,” Cochran said. “There are a number of ways people could use it. We’re thankful for the attention Martin is bringing to the product.”

Thanks to Garry Smits, we can officially let this debate die. I, for one, couldn’t sleep last night without knowing the official name. /sarcasm

Written by Jonathan Wall

02/27/2011 at 2:11 pm

Posted in Martin Kaymer, PGA Tour

Accenture Match Play’s winter wonderland won’t delay final

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No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you; that’s actually snow on the ground in Marna, Ariz., where Martin Kaymer and Luke Donaldo are expected to tee off on time in Sunday’s final.

The photo, posted by Nick Faldo earlier this morning, shows a winter wonderland of sorts for the Saguaro Desert, a sight you probably don’t see too often. Apparently, the course got an inch of snow overnight, but the good news is it should be gone by this afternoon.

According to the Associated Press, the course is supposed to be mowed prior to today’s 12:25 p.m. final, which means they obviously expect all of the white stuff to be gone by then. I know players wouldn’t have been happy playing in the snow, but how crazy would it have be to have those guys pipe one down the middle and spend the next 10 minutes looking for their ball? Each hole would probably take 20-25 minutes to finish, so maybe it’s not such a good idea.

Written by Jonathan Wall

02/27/2011 at 1:19 pm

Posted in PGA Tour