Thursday, May 29, 2008

Stricker MC, WD

Steve Stricker missed the cut at the Crowne Plaza Invitational after shooting 74-73 (+7). Now he has withdrawn from The Memorial citing an elbow injury. No word on his status for the U.S. Open where he finished T-13 last year.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Scott Gump.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Mickelson Magic

Just when it looked like Phil Mickelson cost himself another tournament with a wayward drive on the 72nd hole, he did his best Houdini impression and claimed a victory in the Crowne Plaza Invitational in Fort Worth. Mickelson, who held the lead after three rounds, trailed Rod Pampling by a stroke until the Aussie drove his ball into a hazard on the 17th hole at Colonial Country Club. But Mickelson, who had birdied the 18th all three days, hit a high cut into the trees on the left side of the hole -- the same kind of drive that cost him the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Mickelson then drew a high wedge up and over the trees to within 10 feet of the hole and made the putt. By the way, the winning wedge was one of five -- that's right, five -- wedges in his bag this week. Driver, putter, 3-9 iron and five wedges. Yikes. Might have to mark Phil down as a favorite for the U.S. Open in his hometown San Diego next month.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Rick Fehr.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Furyk Surpises Family

Jim Furyk is one classy guy. Jimmy Burch reports in Mr. Fairway’s former newspaper, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, that Furyk made a surprise drop-in visit to a family that had a “We Love Furyk" sign in their front yard. Furyk, in town for the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Country Club, knocked on the door of Marlow family that lives near the course. Michelle Marlow said the former U.S. Open champion wanted to express his thanks for the family’s support. Furyk stuck around and listened to seven-year-old Thomas practice for his piano recital and then gave some golf tips to Henry, 5, in the back yard. Furyk saw the sign in the Marlow’s yard last year and meant to stop after the tournament, but wasn’t able to after he lost in a playoff to Rory Sabbatini. But he did send the family an autographed photo. Suffice to say, Furyk has fans for life in Cowtown.

By the way, the family also has a “Welcome Back Phil” sign in their yard in honor of Phil Mickelson who stopped at the kids’ lemonade stand in 2005 and left a $100 bill for a 50-cent glass.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Mark Brooks.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Stricker's Woes

Regular readers know that Mr. Fairway is in the tank for fellow cheesehead Steve Stricker. But after getting off to a great start – second at the Mercedes-Benz Championship and three other top 10 finishes – Stricker has missed the cut in four if his last five tournaments, including the Masters and the Players. In the four events where he was MC, he has not broken 70. What’s been the difference? A check of his stats shows that he is struggling with his putter. Sticker is 44th in putting average (he finished 6th last year); 111th in putting from 10-15 feet; and 163rd in putting from 15-20 feet. That’s not very good for someone regarded as one of the best putters on the tour.

Stricker is entered in this week’s Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial where last year he was T-24. This is an important week for Stricker, who played well the last two summers in winning back-to-back Comeback Player of the Year awards. Last year, he followed up a good finish in Fort Worth with a T-13 finish a the U.S. Open and a second place at the AT&T Invitational on his way to winning the Barclays and a second place finish in the inaugural FedEx Cup. How he plays at Colonial could set the tone for the rest of his season. Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger must be watching closely to see if Stricker, who is a cinch to make the team, can turn things around.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Howie Johnson.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Imada Dry, Perry Wet

Ryudi Imada must have thought he was in a time machine at the AT&T Classic in suburban Atlanta on Sunday. Imada, who attended the University of Georgia, won his first PGA Tour tournament on the first hole of sudden death after Kenny Perry’s second shot to the par five 18th hole hit a pine tree and scooted across the green into the water. Last year, Imada lost the tournament to Zach Johnson when his second shot to the green failed to clear the same pond. After Perry missed a putt for par, Imada, who had laid up after driving his ball in the rough, rolled in a four-footer for the victory.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Jack McGowan.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Langham Labors

Message to Franklin Langham: it might be time to find another profession. Langham WD’d from the first round of the AT&T Classic after putting up a 90 for 17 holes. The former University of Georgia golfer, who toils on the Nationwide Tour, shot a nifty 50 on the back nine at the TPC Sugarloaf course, including a 13 on the par five 10th hole, his first of the day. Langham’s card included four 7s and 40 strokes for eight holes on the front. In seven Nationwide events this year, Langham has six missed cuts and one WD. His stroke average is 79.46.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Fred Marti.

Ty Tryon Wins Money

Ty Tryon, the former phenom, picked up $2,750 at the Nationwide Tour's Fort Smith Classic last week. Tryon shot even par 280 for a T-37 finish after getting into the event as a Monday qualifier. Tryon earned his PGA Tour card at 18 but disappeared after a season of poor play, injuries and illness.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Greg Twiggs.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bush Takes Hiatus From Golf

President Bush said he decided to give up golf during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan "in solidarity" with the solders and their families. "I didn't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf," Bush said. "I feel I owe it to the families to be as -- to be in solidarity with them as best I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal."

Bush was on the golf course in Texas when he received word of the 2003 attack in Baghdad that killed a United Nations official. He also was criticized in August 2002 when he decried terrorist bombings in Israel while playing golf and then told reporters, "Now watch this drive."

Bush and his family have a long history in golf. The president reportedly is a 15-handicapper. One of his friends in the golf community is Texan Ben Crenshaw. When Crenshaw captained the winning U.S. Ryder Cup team in 1999, then-Gov. Bush read the famous Col. William Barrett Travis letter from the Alamo to inspire the team. Bush's great grandfather, George Herbert Walker, was president of the USGA and donated the trophy for amateur competition between the United States and Great Britain.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to George Bayer.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Annika Sorentstam To Retire

Can it be that the best woman professional golfer (no, not Michelle Wie) will retire at the end of the season? Annika Sorenstam announced that her career as a competitive golfer will come to a close at the end of 2008.

Sorenstam is unquestionably one of the best women ever to play the game. The 37-year-old Swede has recorded 72 victories on the LPGA tour, including 10 majors and another 18 international titles. She also fired a 59 in LPGA competition. The Hall of Fame member struggled with injuries in recent years but she won in impressive fashion at last week’s Michelob Ultra Light Open in Williamsburg, Va.

She saw Lorena Ochoa overtake her as the top-ranked woman in the game. Sorenstam also will be remembered for playing against the men in the 2003 Bank of America Colonial Invitational in Fort Worth. She grew up playing tennis and was nationally ranked in Sweden as a junior player. She also was an excellent skier who didn’t take up golf until she was 12.

Sorenstam said she wants to start a family and devote more time to her business interests. She cited Green Bay Packers QB Brett Favre, who said he retired because even though he loved the competition, he was tired of the daily grind. Let's hope that after some time off Annika makes a comeback. Hats off to a classy lady.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Carol Mann.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Playing to Your Handicap

The guys I play golf with always talk about our handicaps and how accurate they are. It’s a topic of interest because handicaps determine how many strokes each player receives when we compete, usually for $2 matches in which we change partners every six holes. I saw a recent article in Golf Digest which suggested that most players should average three shots higher than their handicap. In other words, if you are a 12-handicapper (my current number) your average score should be 87, not 84. The reason is that the USGA’s handicap system is calculated using 96 percent of the differential between your best 10 scores and par out of your last 20 rounds. Statistics show that most golfers beat their handicap only 20 percent of the time and beat it by three strokes only once in 20 rounds. The USGA says that average golfers will play to their handicap less than half the time. The odds of a 16-handicapper breaking 80 are one in 1,138 and to do it twice would take him700-plus years. The point is that golfers should not be discouraged because they didn’t play to their handicap on any given day. The other point is that golfers should record ALL scores, even 9-hole scores, so they will have an accurate handicap.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Butch Baird.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Garcia Wins Players

Sergio Garcia won The Players Championship when he parred the devilish island green 17th hole at Sawgrass in sudden death. Paul Goydos opened the door for Garcia’s victory by dunking his wedge tee shot into the water and making a double bogey five. Garcia two-putted from 4’ 5” for the victory. Garcia, who has struggled with his putter since losing a playoff for the British Open, made a bunch of key putts on Sunday, including a three-footer on No. 17 for a par and a seven-footer for par on No. 18 to secure a spot in the playoff. It was his first victory since the 2005 Booz Allen Classic. "I want to thank Tiger Woods for not being here," he said in his acceptance speech. "That always makes things a little bit easier." Garica played well leading the field in fairways hit and tied for first in greens in regulation. Now it will be interesting to see if he can challenge Woods when the world's best player returns from knee surgery in a few weeks. Goydos, a self-described journeyman, had a chance to win the tournament in regulation. He led by three shots with six holes to play and needed only a par on the 18th hole to seal what would have been the biggest victory of his career. But he drove it in the rough, laid up, pitched on and missed a 9-foot par putt on the 72nd hole. Once again, the Pete Dye designed golf course provided high drama for the tournament, which many pros consider the fifth major. Given the drama of the final round and the conditions, it's hard to disagree.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Craig Perks.