Sports Outside the Beltway

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.


Tiger Woods misses British Open cut

It is only the second time he’s not made the weekend at a major championship. From AP-

Tiger Woods has missed the cut in a major for only the second time in his professional career.

Woods made two double bogeys on the way to a 4-over 74 Friday and won’t be playing the weekend at the British Open, missing the cut by one stroke.

That’s happened only one other time since he turned pro — at the 2006 U.S. Open shortly after the death of his beloved father, Earl.

Woods tried to rally, making birdies on two of the last three holes, but a chip from the back of the green at No. 18 came up short and he settled for par.

The top 70, plus ties, make it to the final two rounds. Woods was at 5-over 145, one over the cut line.

The British Open doesn’t have a 10-shot rule, which allows anyone within that margin of the lead to keep going.

Tiger didn’t play well at all either today or yesterday. If the British Open had the ten shot rule, Tiger was unlikely to have been a factor this weekend.

Steve Marino and Tom Watson are tied for the 36 hole lead with Marc Calcavecchia one shot behind. 28 golfers are even par or better and within five shots of the lead. It looks like a wide open weekend at Turnberry.


Spectator Infiltrates Tiger Woods Press Conference for Autograph

What is the penalty for impersonating a member of the golf media? From Alex Miceli at Golf World:

In one of the best cases of chutzpah in modern media centers, a fan sneaked into Tiger Woods’ news conference Sunday after The Memorial and sat amongst the ink-stained wretches, two rows from Tiger, waiting for a chance to get a Woods autograph.

After 19 questions, the guy could wait no longer.

“Jack’s going to hate me for this,” the interloper said, standing. “Tiger, congratulations for winning The Memorial. I’m a normal person that snuck in here with a patron badge. I was just wondering if I could get an autograph.”

After a lot of stunned media looked at one another, Tiger snickered before red-faced security staff escorted the man out of the interview room.

Nicklaus was classic with his response.

“If he’s got that much guts, he can get it, right?”

And then the patron’s badge was passed up to Woods, who signed it and passed it back to security to deliver to the very gutsy patron.

Since he was so sucessful in the media room, if I was there I would have given the person a chance to impersonate Ron Sirak or Doug Ferguson. Who knows, they may have done a good job of reporting the tournament. Cue the sarcastic laughter.

From personal experience at the two tournaments I have blogged, the security person by the media room door was always the same. After the first day they would recognize me and not ask to see my credential.

At the ADT Championship, there were two ways of getting in the media center. The main entrance where a guard was, and a back entrance door alongside the interview room. This was next to a parking lot that was used by officials and tournament cars. All someone would have to do was walk past the signs warning not to go further (but didn’t have any guards around) and get to the interview room via the parking lot.

If the LPGA ever reads this post, they probably won’t appreciate my sharing these secrets. Well, I could have said something worse. Like what if a woman tried to impersonate….never mind. If you want to keep non media members out of the press area, all exits and entrances need to be covered.


He’s back- Tiger Woods wins Arnold Palmer Invitational

For the second year in a row, Tiger won at Bay Hill in Orlando Florida by making a dramatic birdie putt on the 72nd hole. Last year Bart Bryant was the loser, this year it was Sean O’Hair.

With the win the talk of Tiger not being back to form will end. It will instead be replaced by golf journalists opining on what his chances are of winning the Masters. The first men’s major championship of 2009 begins on April 9th.

Sadly another big golf tournament will get lost in the buzz of Tiger’s win today and all the hype for the upcoming Masters. The LPGA Tour’s Kraft Nabisco Championship begins this Thursday. A few years ago the tournament’s dates were shifted so it didn’t butt heads with The Players Championship any more. The TPC has since moved to May, but the Kraft still gets short changed. Golf writers and the Golf Channel rather talk endlessly about The Masters that hasn’t started yet than a major championship that is under way.

Back to Tiger. He’ll win at least one major championship this year. What a reckless golf prognosticator I am.


Will the Palm Beach Post’s Carlos Frias please pick up the Blue courtesy phone

Craig Dolch left the Palm Beach Post last August and as you could have been expected golf writing there has gone down the toilet-

Since Woods announced Thursday that he would test his reconstructed left knee at the CA Championship, ticket sales at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa have been “though the roof,” said the tournament’s executive director, Eddie Carbone.

Tiger entered the CA Championship last Friday, not Thursday. Apprarently Mr. Frias or his editors don’t read their own newspaper.

I’m not done with this article either.

Tiger can tame the Blue Monster. Padraig Harrington knows that. That’s why the 2008 PGA Player of the Year, who won the British Open and the PGA Championship after Woods won the U.S. Open in July on a bad left knee before deciding to have surgery, would rather not engage in too much Tiger talk.

Tiger won the US Open last June, not July.

But wait, Mr. Frias isn’t done yet.

He played his first event since the June surgery two weeks ago at the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona, where he won his first-round match, but lost in the second round to South Africa’s Tim Clark.

He won the US Open in July but had surgery in June! Tiger truly is Superman!

The error prone inconsistent golf writing by Mr. Frias has me reaching for some dramamine. I’m getting a case of motion sickness because he is all over the road in the same golf article.


Tiger Woods to return next week at Match Play

He’s back.

Eight months after winning the U.S. Open on one good leg, a healthy Tiger Woods is returning to golf. Woods said on his Web site Thursday that he will defend his title next week in the Accenture Match Play Championship, believing his reconstructed left knee and his game is good enough to win.

“I’m now ready to play again, Woods said.

The Match Play Championship in Tucson, Ariz., begins Wednesday, where Woods will end his 254-day break from competition.

This is great news for golf fans. For golf fanatics like myself, it is also welcome news. Now I won’t shake my head at yet the 108th article is written about-

Will Tiger be better when he comes back?

When will Tiger come back?
Will fatherhood make Tiger a better player?

Actually of those three, only the ‘When will Tiger come back articles’ are certain to end. The lemming mentality of the golf media still astounds me though it shouldn’t.

I’ll be watching next week.


Johnny Miller apologizes in NBC statement for comments on Mediate

This because of comments Miller made in last Sunday’s golf broadcast.

NEW YORK — NBC Sports golf analyst Johnny Miller apologized for his description of U.S. Open runner-up Rocco Mediate , saying the comments had “absolutely nothing to do with his ethnicity.”

Mediate, a 45-year-old Pennsylvanian of Italian heritage, held a one-stroke lead over Tiger Woods during the fourth round Sunday. Miller said Mediate “looks like the guy who cleans Tiger’s swimming pool.” He also said, “Guys with the name ‘Rocco’ don’t get on the trophy, do they?”

“I apologize to anyone who was offended by my remarks,” Miller said in a statement Friday through NBC. “My intention was to convey my affection and admiration for Rocco’s everyman qualities and had absolutely nothing to do with his ethnicity. I chose my words poorly and in the future will be more careful.”

Miller be more careful? Like when he claimed to win the City Championship of San Francisco in a book he authored. Something he has never done. Miller has had a long history of making idiot comments during the broadcasts he works. The trouble is, the man is a liar too.

The apology by Miller is bogus. He didn’t feel Mediate’s name belongs on a trophy his name is on, pure and simple. Miller also could have apologized on the air Monday, but didn’t. A written statement of apology five days later is as bogus as most of the facts in the book ‘I call the shots’. I never knew Tiger Woods lost a playoff to Ed Fiori. Neither does Ed Fiori, the PGA Tour, and any golf writer/announcer around with the exception of Miller.

Johnny Miller is a disgrace to golf and television announcing. If Miller had any class he’d never work in the TV booth ever again.


Tiger Woods may not play the rest of 2008

This news comes two days after Woods defeated Rocco Mediate in a playoff.

Tiger Woods will miss the rest of the season because of a left knee that will require more surgery, a person with knowledge of the decision said Wednesday.

Woods had surgery to clean out cartilage April 15, but later suffered a stress fracture while preparing for his return to golf. That’s what caused his pain during the U.S. Open, which he won in a 19-hole playoff Monday over Rocco Mediate.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement had yet to be made. Woods was expected to discuss his future on his web site later Wednesday.

Woods was last seen in public late Monday afternoon walking with a pronounced limp across Torrey Pines toward the parking lot, the U.S. Open trophy in his arms. Upcoming surgery makes his 14th major title even more staggering — despite the stress fracture, he managed to win a U.S. Open that required 91 holes over five days.

If the report is true, Woods would miss this year’s Ryder Cup.

Tiger was in obvious pain at times on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I also heard a report that Woods was advised by doctors not to play last week. If Tiger needs to rest for 6 months, the PGA Tour will still be there when he comes back. I just hope no long-term damage was done by Woods playing in the US Open.

On a semi related note, last Sunday’s broadcast got a 13.5 rating.(Hat tip- Ryan at GNN) Too bad for NBC the US Open isn’t played on the west coast every year, for 2009 the tournament is being played at Bethpage Black on Long Island before going to Pebble Beach in 2010.

Also note Tiger won the last US Opens played at Bethpage Black(2002) and Pebble Beach.(2000) What are the odds he could win 3 in a row?

UPDATE (James Joyner):
It’s true. Woods has confirmed the story on his official site:

“I know much was made of my knee throughout the last week, and it was important to me that I disclose my condition publicly at an appropriate time. I wanted to be very respectful of the USGA and their incredibly hard work, and make sure the focus was on the U.S. Open,” said Woods. “Now, it is clear that the right thing to do is to listen to my doctors, follow through with this surgery, and focus my attention on rehabilitating my knee.”

A date for the knee surgery, as well as the necessary rehabilitation schedule, has not yet been determined.

“While I am obviously disappointed to have to miss the remainder of the season, I have to do the right thing for my long-term health and look forward to returning to competitive golf when my doctors agree that my knee is sufficiently healthy,” said Woods. “My doctors assure me with the proper rehabilitation and training, the knee will be strong and there will be no long-term effects.”

It’s simply amazing that he managed to play 91 holes at the U.S. Open, including a 19-hole playoff, in that condition. And win.

Bill Jempty update- It is amazing Woods managed to play 91 holes. He has both ACL(Anterior Cruciate Ligament) damage in addition to a double stress fracture of his left tibia. I hope Woods didn’t permanently cripple himself by foolishly playing last weekend. Another US Open trophy wouldn’t be worth ending his career.


Tiger Woods, Rocco Mediate, A US Open playoff, and 13

There will be an 18 hole playoff tomorrow to determine the US Open Champion. 64-time PGA Tour winner, 13-time Major Champion, maybe the greatest golfer ever to play the game Tiger Woods versus five-time PGA Tour winner, Zero major champion tour journeyman Rocco Mediate. The playoff has the smell of a rout in the works for tomorrow, doesn’t it? I’ll get back to this later.

Just yesterday I wrote I was pulling for Rocco, but at the same time gave him little chance to win the US Open. Rocco, who comes off as a very nice person(at least he did when I followed him at a tournament 20 years ago) had people pulling for him this weekend. Fans shouting Rocco. He played good golf, better on Saturday than Sunday I think, and has put himself in position to win a major championship.

Except that Rocco is up against Tiger Woods. An injured, but formidable Tiger. I wasn’t surprised when Woods birdied 18 to force the playoff.

A playoff that shapes up much like the 1929 US Open did. Then it was Bobby Jones, arguably the greatest player to tee it up prior to 1950, against Al Espinosa a 7 time PGA winner. Because Espinosa was a devout Catholic, the tee-time was pushed back on Sunday in order for him to go to mass.

I’ll save you looking up how that playoff ended. Jones won it by 23 shots, 141-164. In those days a 36-hole playoff took place to determine who the Open champ was if a there was a tie after 72 holes.

Which reminds me, the USGA should finally eliminate the 18-hole playoff format they use to determine the US Open champ. A four-hole playoff like used at The British Open is a fair test, besides the USGA has dumped the 18-hole format for their other events.

Note- I always thought it dumb that once the 18-hole playoff was over, and if there was still a tie, the USGA suddenly thought sudden death was acceptable for a major championship. If it isn’t acceptable at the end of 72 holes, why should it be at the end of 90?

I looked at other playoffs that may compare to Woods vs. Mediate. On the men’s side of the equation, you have 1990 where Hale Irwin faced Mike Donald and 1994 where Ernie Els faced Loren Roberts. Irwin and Els are three-time major winners, Donald and Roberts were journeyman.

A better comparison may be the 2006 US Women’s Open where Annika Sorenstam faced off against Pat Hurst in a 18 hole playoff. Annika and Pat’s win totals 67 to 5, is almost the same as Tiger and Mediate’s 64 to 5. Annika was the #1 player in the world, maybe the best woman to play the game ever. Hurst is a career journeywoman(but unlike Mediate, Hurst has a major to her credit. The 1998 Kraft Nabisco)

Annika won the playoff in 2006 70-74.

So what do I predict tomorrow.

First what’s that 13 I mention in the title of the post.

Tiger has 13 majors

Tiger has almost 13 wins to every one of Rocco’s.(12.8 to be exact. I think that’s close enough to be called 13 to 1).

The Par 5 13th hole was pivotal in this weekend’s play. Tiger making an eagle three on Saturday compared to Rocco’s bogey six. Then on Sunday, Tiger bogied the 13th, opening the door for Rocco Mediate to win the tournament in regulation which he nearly did.

Now for my prediction- Most people will say Rocco Mediate hasn’t a prayer just like Al Espinosa did when faced with Bobby Jones. Tiger has a bum knee, and Rocco is playing well. I think the playoff will be close with Tiger coming out on top 71-73.

One last thing- I’m surprised tomorrow’s playoff isn’t in prime time also like play had been over the weekend. Instead Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate will begin their playoff at 9 a.m.

Also note Tiger is 10-1 in playoffs according to the 2007 PGA media guide book(I don’t have 2008′s) and Mediate is 2-0. Tiger has won the San Diego Open, also played at Torrey Pines, in a playoff. That was in 2006.

Tiger’s only defeat in a playoff happened up the road at the Nissan LA Open in 1998 to Billy Mayfair.


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