Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A new No. 1? Not really

Let’s take a run around the mid-week Back Nine:

1. A NEW NO. 1?

To borrow a line I heard someone say on The Golf Channel this week, how can a guy who’s a lousy putter and never won a major championship be the No. 1-ranked player in the world?
Computer math, mostly.

If second-ranked Sergio Garcia wins the WGC-CA Championship this week at Doral and His Greatness, Mr. Woods, finishes a Tim Herron-like 27th or worse, Sergio assumes Tiger’s throne.
That, of course, involves two significant assumptions, the larger guess being that Tiger might finish 27th or worse. Don’t count on it.

Even if Garcia moves to No. 1 on based on the numbers, we all know who No. 1 really is.
That’s not meant as a knock on Garcia, whom I’ve been a believer in for years. I still think he’ll win multiple majors and his play last year was evidence of his continuing development.
But Tiger is the king of this jungle.


The best thing about the World Golf Championship events is easy – Tiger Woods usually wins them.

Tiger has won 12 of them.

But he’s only played in 19 of them.

Aside from the obvious reason that he’s just better than everyone else, he also wins because he loves playing against the best competition and he likes playing top-notch courses, such as Doral and Firestone.

The suits who created the WGC did so to create more play among the best golfers in the world. They’ve done that but they’ve also had the extraordinary good fortune of having Tiger there to hoist the trophies.

It makes a difference.


Tiger Woods has always made it a habit of waiting until the last minute to officially commit to tournaments he plays in, leaving tournament directors and fans to wait and wonder if he’ll show up in their neighborhood.

He did it again last week, waiting until late Friday afternoon before announcing he will play at Doral this week.

Why does he do it that way?

He just does. That’s essentially what he said when asked about it Wednesday.

At least he’s consistent.

Other than majors, Tiger almost never announces in advance where he’ll play next. Just ask Quail Hollow Championship executive director Kym Hougham, who’s been through before and likely will go through it again later next month.

It would help tournaments sell tickets if Tiger made his announcement earlier but if you’re going to see Tiger, you’re going whether you find out three weeks before or three days before that he’s coming.


The top 50 players in the world are in the WGC-CA Championship at Doral this week.
So who’s the pick?

Ernie Els.

I know, almost no one trusts Ernie to win any more but he’s played fairly well recently. He now calls south Florida home and he needs a big moment. Maybe this is it.


-- Now that springtime is teasing us, I can hear the sound of greens being aerated. That means two weeks or more of putting on bumpy, sandy greens, hoping your ball hits the right little holes before finding the big hole.

-- Anthony Kim has been awfully quiet this year. He took some time off recently, saying he needed to let some little injuries get better. It will be interesting to see how he plays from here through the Masters.

-- If you’re counting, the Masters starts 28 days from Thursday.


On Thursday, Pine Lakes Country Club – the one that started it all at Myrtle Beach – will reopen after a 20-month, $10-million renovation intended to bring the golf course and its elegant clubhouse back to their former glories.

Pine Lakes opened in 1927, the first golf resort along the Grand Strand, and it occupied a special place in the golf-rich area for years. It also happens to be where Sports Illustrated magazine was created.

Course architect Craig Schreiner was brought in to supervise the course renovation. He kept the essence of the original front nine while creating a new second nine.

Also Thursday, the inaugural class will be inducted into the Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame, which will be housed on site at Pine Lakes.

The inductees include Cecil Brandon, Clay Brittain Jr., Carolyn Cudone, Jimmy D’Angelo, Gen. James Hackler and Robert White.

If you’ve ever played in the Myrtle Beach area, you owe them a tip of the cap.


Taking a look at the PGA Tour money list to this point (I know they want me to use FedEx Cup points instead but I’m old school), there are a handful of names lower than they should be.
Masters champion Trevor Immelman is 124th on the list, British Open and PGA Champion Padraig Harrington is 129th, Justin Rose is 163rd and Brandt Snedeker is way down at 189th.
If things don’t change soon, some of these guys are going to have some ‘splaining to do.


Davis Love III, chasing a spot in this year’s Masters, made it into this week’s WGC-CA Championship at the last minute when he moved to 50th in the World Golf Rankings after his tie for 13th last week at the Honda Classic.

Had Love been ranked 51st, he would not have qualified for the WGC event.

How close did he come?

Brett Quigley missed a six-foot putt on the 18th hole on Sunday, dropping down the scoreboard, allowing Love to pick up just enough points to jump to 50th.


“I think that being No. 1 in the world is great, but I would rather win a major. It’s just the way I feel. If I had to choose between the two, I would rather take both.” – Sergio Garcia to reporters at Doral on Tuesday.