Now that the Tavistock Cup is behind us and Arnie’s event at Bay Hill is just a week away, let’s go around The Back Nine.
1. THE NUMBERS GAME
If you’re wondering how Phil Mickelson has been able to close the gap on No. 1 Tiger Woods in the world golf rankings, there are two factors at work.
Mickelson, obviously, has played very well the past month, winning twice. But Woods is paying the price for missing eight months of competition.
In the computer formula that spits out the rankings, Woods is losing the points he accumulated two years ago (the rankings are based on a two-year window) and doesn’t have many new numbers to add.
That’s why, after being No. 1 since 2005, Woods’ spot is in jeopardy.
2. A NICE TOUCH
Anthony Kim, the defending champion of the Quail Hollow Championship, is scheduled to be in town Monday for media day in advance of this year’s event.
It’s a generous gesture on Kim’s part because many players don’t attend media days. David Toms and Joey Sindelar made it back to Charlotte for media days but other champions have used video or phone hook-ups rather than make the trip.
I’m guessing Kim knows that electric blue blazer he won last May is now officially out of style.
3. PINE NEEDLES UPDATE
General manager Kelly Miller said the damage to the Pine Needles clubhouse from a fire Sunday evening could have been far worse than it was.
While it has caused some major inconveniences, it shouldn’t be long before the resort is fully functional again.
They’re serving dinner for guests at the nearby reception center and across the street at Mid-Pines Resort. There is also a temporary pro shop.
Miller said all the clothing in the shop will have to be replaced because of smoke and water damage.
4. THE PICK
It’s another week on a hard layout – the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook for the Transitions Championship in Tampa.
With consecutive top-10 finishes, I like Jim Furyk, who’s more than overdue to win again.
For the record, last’s week pick – Ernie Els – finished T20 at Doral.
5. A NEW PEBBLE BEACH
According to an Associated Press story this week, the PGA Tour and tournament officials are considering possible changes to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
The potential changes include reducing the field from 180 teams to possibly removing Poppy Hills – the least popular course – from the rotation.
Pace of play has been a huge problem at the Pebble Beach event, often taking six hours to complete a round. Cutting the field to 144 players would ease the congestion.
The story suggested Cypress Point, once part of the tournament rotation, could return now that it meets tour standards for minority membership.
That would be a spectacular improvement.
6. SWING THOUGHTS
-- Watching Nick Watney battle Phil Mickelson on Sunday at Doral offered a glimpse into why swing coach Butch Harmon decided to keep Watney among the small group of tour players he coaches. There’s something about Watney that makes me think he’s going to be around for a while.
-- Sorry, but I just couldn’t get interested in the Tavistock Cup.
-- Teenager Tadd Fujikawa may be answering questions about whether he can play the tour. He’s made three cuts in a row.
7. A NEW MANN IN TOWN
Jan Mann will take over the North Carolina women’s golf program at the end of this season, becoming only the third coach in the program’s 34-year history.
Mann was head coach at UNC Wilmington from 1994 through 2002 then went to Virginia where she started the women’s program and took it to three NCAA tournaments in four years.
She’ll replace Sally Austin, who is stepping down after 16 years.
8. DENT HONORED
The Humble Hackers Golfers Limited, a Charlotte-based group, will give Jim Dent a lifetime achievement award March 28 at the Clanton Park Pavilion.
The public is invited to attend the event – 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. – with several speakers scheduled to participate.
9. THE LAST WORD
“Golf is assuredly a mystifying game. It would seem that if a person has hit a golf ball correctly a thousand times, he should be able to duplicate the performance at will. But this is certainly not the case.” – Bobby Jones in the introduction of the 2009 Masters media guide.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Posted by Observer Sports at 3:07 PM