It's time for the weekly 'Front Nine:'
1. GAME ON
When Tiger Woods won at Bay Hill Sunday night, saving everyone from the dreaded Monday morning playoff, he put the last major piece in place for the Masters.
Now the question isn’t whether he’s ready to win. It’s will he win?
Woods will go to Augusta as the clear favorite. Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington have reason to be optimistic but Woods’ victory vanquished any doubts about his place atop the game.
When it gets this close to the Masters, interest always increases but when Tiger won at Bay Hill, the needle spiked.
2. WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?
What do Alvaro Quiros, Prayad Marksaeng, Mathew Goggin and Louis Oosthuiszen have in common?
They each qualified to play in the Masters last week while Davis Love III didn’t.
Love has been up front about his desire and effort play his way back into the Masters and he was maddeningly close to making it.
The top 50 players in the world rankings after Sunday’s action earned spots if they weren’t already in and Love entered last week ranked 47th. His problems started when he missed the cut at Bay Hill. On Sunday, all Love could do was watch and hope players ranked in front of him messed up.
It almost happened. When Hunter Mahan five-putted – yes, five-putted – the 16th green, Love was close to staying inside the top 50. But when Pat Perez escaped Bay Hill’s 18th hole without a disaster, Love was out of the top 50.
There’s still a way for him to qualify for Augusta – win the Shell Houston Open this week.
3. DOES THIS COUNT AS ANOTHER APPEARANCE?
Working under the radar, Tiger Woods recently hosted CEOs from 10 companies that sponsor PGA Tour events for breakfast and a clinic at his home club, Isleworth, in Orlando.
Woods did it at the request of tour commissioner Tim Finchem, who is working to stabilize sponsorship deals in this tough economy.
The world’s No. 1 player told reporters at Bay Hill that he understands the challenges facing the tour right now and was willing to help.
The names of the 10 CEOs have been kept private.
4. THE FIRST MAJOR
The LPGA gets the major championships started this week with the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Over the past 14 majors played, there have been 13 different winners with only Lorena Ochoa doubling up.
Jiyai Shin, an emerging superstar, should be the favorite this week but Karrie Webb’s victory Sunday put her on the ‘players to watch list’ along with Ochoa, Yani Tseng, Suzann Pettersen and, of course, the impossible to ignore Michelle Wie.
5. CHIP SHOTS
Tickets sales for the Quail Hollow Championship are moving well at the new kiosk in SouthPark, according to a tournament spokesman. Tickets are still available for all tournament days…
There’s a nice story on Tom Weiskopf in the most recent ‘Golf World’ magazine with the near-great one talking about his potential, his temper and his drinking…
Who would you not want to have to make a putt for you? Tyler Aldridge. He ranks 200th on tour in putts per greens in regulation. He averages 1.975 putts per green in regulation. Vijay Singh, by the way, ranks 182nd…
6. A NINER IN CHARGE
Darin Spease, a senior associate athletic director at UNCC, is the chairman of the 2009 NCAA men’s golf committee.
When the national championship tournament rolls around, Spease’s 49ers may be left out unless they win the Atlantic-10 title. Under interim coach Adam Pry, who replaced Jamie Green after his departure to Duke, the 49ers have remained ranked among the top 50 while playing a schedule ranked the toughest in the country.
7. WORKING IT OUT
The Golf Studio at NorthStone opened recently giving players another high-quality place to work on their games.
Open to NorthStone members and the public, the Huntersville facility features natural-grass tees, heated practice bays, an interior putting green for bad weather days and a variety of other amenities.
Julee Sovesky is the director of instruction and there will be a junior golf kickoff event Saturday, May 2 at 10 a.m. For more information, visit www.thegolfstudioatnorthstone.com.
8. THE LIST
Of Tiger Woods’ 66 PGA Tour victories, 12 have come in Florida. Half of those have come at Bay Hill. Here’s a list of Woods’ wins in the Sunshine State:
6: Arnold Palmer Invitational (2000-03, 2008-09)
2: Funai Children’s Miracle Network Classic (1996, 1999)
2: Ford Championship at Doral (2005-06)
1: The Players Championship (2001)
1: WGC-CA Championship (2007)
9. THE LAST WORD
“It’s not like it’s The Tiger Show and we’re just out there to watch him. We’re trying to win golf tournaments and he just happens to be that good.” – Sean O’Hair on his feelings watching Tiger Woods beating him on the 72nd hole in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Monday, March 30, 2009
It's time for the weekly 'Front Nine:'