Sports Outside the Beltway

Tiger Woods seriously hurt in auto accident

He hit a fire hydrant near his Orlando Florida home early Friday morning. From the Orlando Sentinel-

Professional golfer Tiger Woods was seriously injured in a car accident early this morning, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.

Woods, 33, pulled out of his driveway in the Isleworth community about 2:25 a.m. when he struck a fire hydrant, and then drove into a tree at his neighbor’s property, FHP reported.

Alcohol is not related to the accident, FHP said.

Woods was transported to Health Central Hospital in Ocoee in serious condition, FHP said. No other information about his condition has been released.

A Health Central hospital employee said at 2:30 p.m. that Woods was not a patient. A hospital operator would not say if Woods had been treated and released.

Hippa prevents hospitals from giving out patient information. I’ll update the post when more information is made available.

Update- Woods agent says he is fine.

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PGA Tour suspends Doug Barron for positive drug test

He won’t be allowed to play in a PGA or Nationwide event for one year. From ESPN-

Doug Barron became the first PGA Tour player to be suspended for violating its performance-enhancing drug policy.

Barron, 40, a veteran who played just four times this year on the developmental Nationwide Tour and once on the PGA Tour and failed to make a cut, will begin his suspension immediately — although his status was in limbo because he was playing the Nationwide Tour this year on a medical exemption.

“I would like to apologize for any negative perception of the tour or its players resulting from my suspension,” Barron said in a statement released by the PGA Tour. “I want my fellow tour members and the fans to know that I did not intend to gain an unfair competitive advantage or enhance my performance while on tour.”

It is unclear what substance Barron took or what he did to produce a positive drug test. The tour said it would have no further comment on the matter.

Barron has never finished better than 3rd at the 2005 EDS Byron Nelson Championship. More recently he has struggled on the Nationwide tour. In 2008 he only made 5 cuts in 17 tries. The drug use certainly didn’t help Barron’s play.

Jason Sobel at ESPN writes-

That said, let’s hold off on the witch hunt for the time being. In a twisted way, it’s actually a good thing that Barron got caught, as it proves the PGA Tour’s ongoing efforts toward wiping out any potential PED use weren’t fruitless nor a waste of time and money. It also discredits the theory that Tim Finchem and the folks at the Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., headquarters would cover up any positive tests to keep suspicions to a minimum.

I’m not naive enough to believe no PGA pro would ever use PEDs. I will be surprised if one of the sport’s better known players get caught. A former winner who has fallen on hard times but not to the extent of Barron has is the type of player who may get caught.


PGA Tour cancels Viking Classic due to weather

The last time this happened was over a decade ago. From AP-

PGA Tour officials canceled the weather-stricken Viking Classic on Saturday because of unplayable course conditions.

There will be no makeup date and players will move on to the final event of the season, the Nov. 12-15 Children’s Miracle Network Classic in Orlando, Fla.

Annandale Golf Club received 1.75 inches of rain overnight Friday and Saturday, completely soaking an already marginal course that had areas of standing water and large tracts of mud.

Madison has received more than 20 inches of rain in the past six weeks.

“I told them this was closer to a FEMA disaster site than a golf course,” tournament director Randy Watkins said. “Somebody asked if you could play somewhere else. I don’t think you could play golf within 150 miles of here.”

Officials postponed, then canceled play Thursday and Friday mornings after nearly constant rain. There had been hope officials might shorten the tournament to 54 holes and play next week or weekend, but groundskeepers didn’t believe the course would dry that quickly.

Slugger White, PGA Tour vice president for rules and competition, said commissioner Tim Finchem had asked the board for permission to play a 36-hole tournament as early as Monday but was unsuccessful.

“We just couldn’t get there,” White said.

This is the first time a tournament has been scrapped outright because of weather since the 1996 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, which was canceled due to unplayable conditions. The last rainout came in Houston in 1991, though that tournament was rescheduled.

The Viking Classic was important to players who wanted exempt status in 2010. Now it will come down to the Children’s Miracle Network Classic in Orlando for about a dozen players. Honestly I think 125 is a way too high number for exempt players. There are players who have entered hundreds of tournaments and not been able to win. Even in a weak Fall Classic field. I think there should be a bigger turnover of players every year to avoid just that. Bring back the Top 60 days? Maybe not, but 80 or 90 has a better feel.


Troy Matteson sets new 36 hole PGA Tour scoring mark

The previous mark of 123 had only been established earlier this year. From AP-

Troy Matteson had never shot a 61 until this week. Now he’s done it twice in a row to set a PGA Tour record.

His second straight 9-under round at the Open on Saturday gave him a three-shot lead at 16-under 194 heading into the final round.

Matteson’s 122 score in consecutive rounds broke the tour record of 123 set this year by Steve Stricker in the third and fourth rounds of the Bob Hope Classic.

Ron Streck shot 124 at the Texas Open in 1978. I don’t recall if anyone else equaled that mark before Stricker broke it.

Streck won in Texas but Stricker failed to bring home the Hope. Matteson, who won the Frys in 2006, I predict to win tomorrow.


PGA Tour player follows double eagle with a hole-in-one

It was done by Nicholas Thompson, who has never finished better than 2nd in a PGA Tour event. From AP-

Nicholas Thompson gained five shots in quick fashion with a double eagle and a hole in one to storm into contention at the Open.

Thompson, using a 3-wood, sank his shot from 261 yards on the par-5, 562-yard 11th hole on the Raptor Course at the Grayhawk Golf Club.

After a par on No. 12, Thompson’s tee shot with a 7-iron went in on the par-3, 199-yard 13th. In three holes, he moved from 6 under to 11-under par.

It was the fourth double eagle on the PGA Tour this year.

I think four may be a record for one year. Double eagles were seldom seen in tournaments when par 5′s were only reachable with a driver and a wood. Club technology has made many unreachable holes now only a driver and mid-iron away.

BTW Thompson stands -11 after 3 rounds and four shots behind the leader, Troy Matteson.


Verizon ends sponsorship of S. Carolina PGA Tour stop

Not just the LPGA Tour is having difficulty retaining sponsors in present economic climate. From AP-

The Verizon Heritage, one of the PGA Tour’s most popular spring tournaments, is losing its longtime, namesake sponsor after 2010.

Verizon Business’ move came less than week after commissioner Tim Finchem discussed the potential loss of PGA Tour marketing partners and tournaments because of continuing problems with the economy.

“It’s never good news, but again what makes it tougher, is the economic climate,” Steve Wilmot, the Verizon Heritage tournament director, told The Associated Press by phone Tuesday.

Verizon Business, then MCI, first came on as a sponsor at the Hilton Head Island tour stop in 1987. Verizon Business marketing vice president Becky Carr says the company decided to restructure future involvement with the PGA Tour to focus on select events it feels offer more opportunities for development.

The PGA Tour has promised to look for a new sponsor so the tournament can continue on past 2010. Heritage has survived difficulties on the past. It severed ties with the bankrupt Worldcom corporation after the 2002 edition of the tournament.

Some interesting facts about this tournament beneath the fold.


Steve Stricker wins the Deutsche Bank Championship

It was his third PGA Tour win in 2009. From AP-

Given another chance to win a playoff event, Steve Stricker delivered back-to-back birdies to cap off a wild Labor Day finish and win the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday, moving past Tiger Woods to the top of the FedEx Cup standings.Stricker

One week after missing a 10-foot par putt to force overtime, Stricker rolled in a 15-foot birdie on the 17th hole, then hit a delicate chip to tap-in range on the par-5 18th for a 4-under 67 one-shot victory over Jason Dufner and Scott Verplank.

The victory was his third of the year, and moved Stricker to a career-high No. 2 in the world ranking.

Better yet, he has a 909-point lead over Woods in the FedEx Cup with two tournaments remaining. Because the points will be reset after next week in Chicago, Stricker is assured of being no worse than the No. 2 seed and will have a chance at the Tour Championship to go after the $10 million prize.

Stricker’s other triumphs in 2009 were at Colonial and The John Deere Classic. He also came close to winning the Barclays just a week ago and the Bob Hope early in the season.

Stricker has had a very interesting career with some great peaks but some deep valleys also. 2009 is his second multi-win year. His first was in 1996. He had three wins by 2001 but didn’t win again till 2007. A crazy fact about Stricker- he won consecutive comeback player of the year awards. How can a player come back two years in a row?

The Fedex Cup is playing itself out and my apathy for this contrived gimmick is no less strong than it was when PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem first announced it in 2006. Golf doesn’t have playoffs, it has major championships.


Declawed- Y.E. Yang wins the PGA Championship

He made a birdie at the 18th hole to beat Tiger Woods by three shots. Just unbelievable but Yang played great today and is a deserving winner.

After taking the lead at 14, Yang matched Woods stroke for stroke on holes 15-17. That didn’t mean the holes were without drama. On 16, Yang pushed his 2nd shot perilously close to Lake Hazeltine. The ball missing the hazard by a couple of feet at most.

At 17, Woods flew the green after Yang put his on about 30 feet from the hole. Woods pitch to the green wasn’t very good and Yang looked certain to pick up a stroke. Then Yang hit probably his worst shot of the day. His first putt came up eight feet short. He and Woods both ended up bogeying the 17th hole.

Yang hit his drive on 18 down the left side. Which gave him a problematical 2nd shot. This because the pin was on the left and there were trees between Yang and the hole. Woods was in the fairway and the pressure was on. Yang then almost holed his second shot before the ball settled seven feet past the hole. This forced Woods to try making a miracle shot. It wasn’t even close. Woods made bogey at 18 and Yang a birdie. A golfer who I a self admitted golf nut hadn’t heard of before March 2009 when he won the Honda Classic, had just won the PGA Championship by outdueling Tiger Woods on Sunday. What a finish to the last major of 2009. Now I have the Fedex(puke) and Solheim Cup to look forward to.

I blogged about Yang’s victory in progress at a post here if anyone is interested in reading it.


Tiger Woods to be fined for criticism of official

This for comments he made after winning last weekend’s Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio. From AP-

Tiger Woods will be fined by the PGA Tour for his public criticism of a rules official after winning the Bridgestone Invitational, a tour official said Monday.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the tour does not publicize fines.

They certainly don’t. Tour player Jonathan Kaye was suspended from the tour for two months for a 2001 incident. A security guard wouldn’t allow Kaye entrance to the player locker room without seeing his player ID badge. At some point Kaye attached the badge to his zipper or something else would caused the guard to take offense. Kaye was fined and suspended from playing the PGA Tour for two months.

Woods was bothered after his four-shot victory Sunday because he and Padraig Harrington were put on the clock at the par-5 16th. He said that caused Harrington to rush three difficult shots, leading to triple bogey.

Harrington is the defending PGA Champion this weekend in Minnesota. He also won back to back British Opens in 2007 and 2008.

Honestly a player as good as Harrington shouldn’t allow a rules official to ruin his tournament. It is an excuse in my opinion.

European Tour chief referee John Paramor told Woods and Harrington they were being timed.

Woods said he told Harrington after it was over, “I’m sorry that John got in the way of a great battle.”

Paramor said the final pairing was well behind most of the back nine, but officials gave them time to catch up. They were still 17 minutes out of position on the 16th tee, when they were put on the clock.

Woods and Harrington had the entire par 5 16th hole, Firestone’s signature hole, to themselves. The hole measures well over 600 yards.

The PGA Tour has rarely taken slow play seriously. To be truthful, no player has gotten a meaningful penalty in over a decade. This is unlike the LPGA Tour who has shown no hesitancy giving out two stroke penalties to even to players in contention. Angela Park was penalized two strokes during the final round of a 2008 Hawaiian tournament where she eventually finished fifth three shots behind the winner.

Were Harrington and Woods out of position on the course? Yes, without a doubt. That the PGA Tour doesn’t enforce its slow play policy doesn’t mean the official was wrong in his actions. Ryan at Waggleroom gets it right

Selective enforcement of the Rules of Golf is unacceptable. Just because the final group had no chasers, were Tiger and Paddy, and were playing for a huge first prize check does not mean that the rules should be ignored. Play slow and the players involved should be penalized.

Timeliness is a part of golf, but many players seem to ignore that part of the rule book – including Woods and Harrington. When the press questioned JB Holmes in 2008 about his lethargic manner around the course, Holmes best summed up the attitude of many players when he said, ““A lot of old habits kick in when you’re under pressure. You’re playing for $1 million. If somebody thinks I’m slow, or taking long, I don’t care. … I would rather be slow and win than rush something, hit a bad shot and not win.”

That kind of attitude is why players should be put on the clock. They should not be allowed to disrespect the rules governing the sport just because of the money on the line. Players should not get a free pass just because of their name.

No one, including Harrington and Woods, should be above the rules. I have said that before. Woods open criticism was also wrong, and under Tour rules makes him subject to a fine for what he said. The PGA Tour is again right. The rules if they are have any meaning are to be enforced against all players and under any circumstances.


Mark Calcavecchia sets PGA Tour record with 9 straight birdies

The previous streak of eight consecutive birdies had been done by six separate individuals. From AP-

Mark Calcavecchia birdied nine straight holes Saturday in the Canadian Open to break the PGA Tour record.

In perfect morning scoring conditions at rain-softened Glen Abbey, Calcavecchia opened the delayed second round with two pars, then reeled off the nine straight birdies. His nine birdie putts were from 15 feet or closer.

With 15-year-old son Eric working as his caddie, Calcavecchia shot a 7-under 65 to finish two rounds at 8 under. He was five strokes behind leader Jason Dufner entering the third round, postponed until Sunday after heavy afternoon rain.

The round was played using the lift, clean, and place rule. That will always optimize the chances for birdies.

In the 2001 Phoenix Open, Calcavecchia broke the PGA Tour’s 72-hole record with a 256 total — shooting 65-60-64-67 to finish 26 under at TPC Scottsdale. Tommy Armour III broke that record in the 2003 Texas Open, finishing at 254.

Calc, who lives a half hour up the road from me and has 13 career tour victories, has always had a knack for shooting lights out. His early days as a professional golfer were more of a struggle. One year he played in the Honda Classic after working the previous Honda as a caddie.

Calcavecchia broke the record set by Bob Goalby in his 1961 St. Petersburg Open victory and matched by Fuzzy Zoeller (1976 Quad Cities Open), Dewey Arnette (1987 Buick Open), Edward Fryatt (2000 Doral-Ryder Open), J.P. Hayes (2002 Bob Hope Classic) and Kelly (2003 Las Vegas Invitational). Hayes played alongside Calcavecchia on Saturday.

Out of those players, only Goalby won the week they made tour history. Due to rain, there will be a 36-hole finale tomorrow. That gives Calcavecchia, who stands five shots back at this moment, a chance to join Goalby as a winner.


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