Friday, February 27, 2009

Down Goes Tiger

Turns out Tiger is not invincible. Tim Clark, ranked 33rd in the world, ended Tiger’s comeback story with a 4 & 2 victory Thursday in the second round of the Accenture World Match Play Championship. Clark played nearly flawless golf building a three-up lead on the back nine. Woods holed a 50-foot bunker shot on to win the 14th hole and cut Clark’s lead to 2-up. But his tee shot on No. 15 hit a cart path and went OB. Clark closed Woods out when he hit his tee shot to four feet on the 16th and Woods failed to chip in for a birdie. So Woods looked human in the match and was simply outplayed by the South African. Mr. Fairway liked Tiger’s response to a report who asked him where he goes from here. “To the airport,” Woods said.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Terry Wilcox.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tiger on Cruise Control

Any questions? Looked like the same old Tiger Woods on Wednesday who knocked off Brendan Jones 3 & 2 in the first round of the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona. In his first competitive round since recovering from ACL surgery, Woods turned in a solid performance with moments of brilliance. He won the first two holes of the match after hitting irons close to the flag for an easy birdie and conceded eagle (after a 235-yard 4-iron to four feet) respectively. He bogeyed three of his next five holes and watched his lead slip to 1-up but then birdied No. 8 and didn’t allow Jones to get closer. He hit eight of 12 fairways and nine of 16 greens. The Golf Channel did a nice job of dialing up slow motion videos of his swings prior to last summer’s U.S. Open, during the Open at Torrey Pines, and during his Wednesday round. I’m no doctor or swing coach, but Tiger looked better than ever. He had a few misplayed shots along the way but for the most part looked pretty sharp. After the round, Woods told reporters, “It felt like nothing changed. Walking down the fairway, and it felt like business as usual. Go out there, I thought I would be more nervous on that first tee, but when it comes right down to it. … it just came back down to just playing the game again, and that felt good." Woods will play Tim Clark of South Africa on Thursday.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Mark Hensby.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Stricker Gags Again

Don’t get me wrong. Mr. Fairway is in the tank for fellow Wisconsinite Steve Stricker. But his failure to close the deal at the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles on Sunday was an out and out choke job. Sure Phil Mickelson was putting up bogeys on the scoreboard and Stricker’s final round 67 was five shots better than Phil’s 72. But when it came to crunch time, just like at the Hope, Stricker couldn’t close the deal. It was deja vu as his driver, long his Achilles heel, failed him again when he pulled his drive on the 18th hole into the left rough and made bogey. At the Hope, he hit two drives OB and one in the water to watch his chances of winning his first tournament since the 2007 Barclays evaporate. A wayward driver is nothing new to Stricker, who is 145th on tour in fairways hit percentage (56.25 percent). A balky driver caused the several year slump before he won consecutive comeback player of the year awards. Stricker, known for his prowess with the flat stick, also missed two makeable putts on the 17th and 18th holes that would have ensured a victory. On 18, Nick Faldo called his miss noting that Stricker very rarely hits his putts firm enough. Faldo also noted that Phil would hit his putt on 18 hard enough and he did. Perhaps Stricker, reputed to be one of the nicest guys on tour, needs get some toughen up pills from Badger football coach Bret Bielema.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Mario Tiziani.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

He's Back!

It’s official. Tiger Woods announced today that he will enter next week’s WGC-Accenture Match-Play Championship in Arizona. It will be his first tournament since he won the U.S. Open last June and had surgery to repair a torn ACL. Woods is the defending champion of the event, defeating J.B. Holmes last year. He also won the tournament in 2003 and 2004. Woods, who remains ranked number one in the world, will be the top seed. If no one withdraws, he would face Brendan Jones of Australia in the first round. In a statement posted on his web site, Woods said, “Elin and our new son Charlie are doing great. I’ve enjoyed my time at home with the family and appreciate everyone’s support and kind wishes.” TV execs are praying that he makes it to the weekend to boost ratings.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Bruce Fleisher.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The blue blazer and dandruff crowd at the USGA has offered up yet another silly proposal to take the fun out of golf. These guys, who buy their shirts pre-stuffed because it saves time, already have banned U-shaped grooves on wedges and irons starting in 2010 for professionals and amateurs in USGA events. Now, they want to outlaw wedges with more than 60 degrees of loft. Several pros, including Padraig Harrington and Phil Mickelson, have used the high-lofted wedges around the greens. At this point, the USGA honchos are only studying the wedges and their effect on the game. It’s a good thing for golf that these clowns weren’t active when Gene Sarazen invented the first sand wedge in the 1930s.

Hitting range balls while wonder whatever happened to Caesar Sanudo.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Golf Channel Disciplines Magee

The PC police made another arrest. The Golf Channel suspended analyst Andrew Magee for two weeks over a comment he made during coverage of the FBR Open two weeks ago. Magee, who was a roving course reporter, thought he was off air when he told fellow analyst Gary McCord that he had just seen someone wearing a T-shirt that said, “I got kicked out of Boy Scouts because I ate a brownie.” That’s pretty funny. Unfortunately for Magee, his microphone was live and the remark broadcast. McCord did not respond and Magee’s comment was followed by dead air. After the Golf Channel received complaints from views, Magee was disciplined although he appeared on his regular Tuesday night show, “The Approach,” last week. Magee was scheduled to play in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and won’t be on tonight’s show. Mr. Fairway likes Andrew Magee and hopes he does well Magee’s gaffe comes a year after Golf Channel anchor Kelly Tilgman uttered a racially insensitive remark about Tiger Woods.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Ronnie Black.

Monday, February 9, 2009

It's a Boy for Tiger

Tiger Woods and his wife, Elin, announced the birth of their son on Sunday. "Elin and I are thrilled to announce the birth of our son, Charlie Axel Woods, who was born on Sunday February 8, 2009," Woods said on his web site. "Both Charlie and Elin are doing great and we want to thank everyone for their sincere best wishes and kind thoughts. Sam is very excited to be a big sister and we feel truly blessed to have such a wonderful family. I also want to thank our doctors, nurses and the hospital staff for their personal and professional care. We look forward to introducing Charlie to you at the appropriate time, and again thanks from all of us for your kindness and support." Charlie joins sister Sam who was born in June 2007. Woods, who is recovering from knee surgery last summer, has not set a date for his return to tournament action, but most observers expect him to play in the Masters this spring.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Scott Dunlap.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Phil in Fighting Shape?

Mr. Fairway’s Laguna Beach correspondent Mike B. went up to Torrey Pines for the Wednesday pro-am at the Buick Invitational and reports that Phil Mickelson is looking good. Mike reports that Mickelson, who shot 76-73 for a +7 missed cut in his 2009 season debut at the FBR in Scottsdale last week, might be down as much as 30 pounds. It will be interesting to see how he fares at a tournament he has won three times (1993, 2000 and 2001) on a course he played a kid growing up in San Diego. If you ever get to Torrey Pines, check out the photos of young Phil (and a young Tiger Woods) in the pro shop.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Lindy Miller.