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Knockdown Shots: Name the issue, he has something in the bag

by | CBSSports.com Senior Golf Columnist
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Miller and Faldo might get canceled faster than the new 'Charlie's Angels' did. (AP)  
Miller and Faldo might get canceled faster than the new 'Charlie's Angels' did. (AP)  

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Time to bust out the steel wool and lightly scrape the rust off the shafts.

Better grab the sandpaper and rough up those chord grips, too.

Winter has passed as far as the PGA Tour's sunny locales are concerned, and a new season has begun in far-flung Hawaii, which is not only an ideal place to vacation, but to dust off an old set of friends.

Not the golf clubs, per se.

With the winds occasionally howling off the Pacific Ocean in the 50th state, it's the perfect time to bust out Knockdown Shots, which has been gathering editorial cobwebs for a spell. As a consequence, it has been a while since we rifled off any whistling low blows.

The format is pretty simple. Choke up on the club, swing hard and hit a head-high rope toward the intended target -- whatever, whoever and wherever it might be.

No question, it was a busy opening week on the U.S. tour, where players were found to be injured and others watched from the couch rather than play in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, once considered an elite event, but which featured a record-low 27 players at Kapalua.

With a pin sheet and laser rangefinder in hand, the yardages and locations are dialed in, so let's swing away.

Oh, and as for those who might notice that a couple of these wisecracks appeared already on our Twitter feed, well, that medium is akin to a journalism driving range, where we writer types hit practice shots to hone our games before doing actual work.

Or whatever this enterprise might be termed.

News item: Struggling former tour player Parker McLaughlin, a Hawaii native, receives a sponsor invitation to play in Sony Open despite having the second-worst world ranking among American players, according to Golfweek magazine.

Knockdown shot: He still has a higher approval rating than another Hawaiian golfer from the same high school, some dude named Barack Obama.

  

News item: The former Mrs. Tiger Woods, Elin Nordegren, tears down the $12 million house she bought last year to erect a new one.

Knockdown shot: TMZ reports that she is forcing construction workers to sign a non-disclosure agreement, which goes to show that Elin's still a little sensitive about who is nailing what.

  

News item: Lucas Glover withdraws from the PGA Tour season opener after spraining a knee while paddleboarding in the Hawaiian surf.

Knockdown shot: The Curse of Kapalua? Last year, defending Kapalua champ Geoff Ogilvy shredded his hand on Hawaiian reef before the tournament. Of course, the Hawaiian disabled list doesn't even include the most notable injury of all -- Natalie Gulbis, who left town last year after sustaining a broken heart.

  

News item: This week's Sony Open marks the first full-field event of the PGA Tour season and features a slew of fresh faces of Korean extraction, wherein rookies like John Huh and Seung-yul Noh will join veteran Kevin Na on the circuit.

Knockdown shot: Huh, Hoh and Na are not only the surnames of three Korean dudes playing at Waialae, but the answer to the last three questions I asked Tiger Woods.

  

News item: TaylorMade unveils an edgy TV spot on Golf Channel during Kapalua that features players hitting the manufacturer's new line of clubs on the range and commenting. During the spot, tour staffer Sean O'Hair utters an F-bomb that was semi-bleeped.

Knockdown shot: We're not sure which seems more crass, the fact that the company used coarse language to sell equipment, or named the line RocketBallz. Hmmm, RocketBallz commercials interspersed with a million erectile-disfunction ads. Who says golf on TV is boring?

  

News item: In a first-ever poll of dozens of tour players, Augusta National comes out on top as the best course on the PGA Tour in a story to be released next week by the folks at GolfWorld.

Knockdown shot: The reality is, Augusta National isn't a PGA Tour course at all, but a private track and invitation-only event that is run entirely by the club membership. Which sort of makes the palm print across the tour's face even more pronounced.

  

News item: Slow play at the 27-man Kapalua event touches off a brief firestorm of aficionado ranting, including a series of edgy, spot-on tweets from world No. 1 Luke Donald.

Knockdown shot: Play ran at least 20 minutes past the TV window in each of the final three rounds, despite playing in twosomes. Not to pick out any one guy, per se, but Jonathan Byrd was slower than molasses running up a volcano in January. He was so deliberate, his caddie must get paid by the word.

  

News item: Gary Woodland hires Butch Harmon as his swing guru, joining the coach's current stable of Phil Mickelson, Nick Watney and Dustin Johnson.

Knockdown shot: According to every metric the PGA Tour uses to measure power, distance-obsessed Mickelson ranks fourth in that foursome in driving distance. If you think that won't annoy him, you don't know Lefty.

  

News item: Experiment to place multiple major winners Johnny Miller and Nick Faldo in the same booth gets critically panned in the process. At one point on the final hole, Faldo, told the same lame joke twice as Miller cringed. Golfweek opined, "Miller and Faldo had worse chemistry than Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries."

Knockdown shot: The Golf Channel brass was hoping for Martin & Lewis, or maybe Siskel & Ebert. But here's a suggestion for whoever thought it up in the first place -- Smith & Wesson.

  

News item: Hank Haney finally reveals he has written a book, long known to be in the pipeline, on his tenure as coach of Tiger Woods, with a release date set for the week before the Masters.

Knockdown shot: Nice timing on the release date, Henry. Almost as good as Tiger announcing hours after the book news broke that he was playing Pebble Beach as his U.S. opener, immediately knocking the legs from under the Haney story. Coincidence? It marked the first time Woods has committed this early to a regular tour stop in years. Well played, Woody. Tiger leads, 1 up.

  

News item: The name of Haney's book is The Big Miss, a term that has multiple meanings in the Woods camp, the coach said.

Knockdown shot: Really? I had assumed it was code for that chubby Perkins waitress he was, you know, seeing.

  

News item: Lucas Glover's withdrawal from Kapalua left the field with 27 players, none from the world ranking top 5. A total of 11 players skipped the winners-only event for various reasons.

Knockdown shot: How tepid was the field at the worst season opener in professional sports? There was one guy entered who had won a major in the past decade -- Keegan Bradley, who claimed the last major staged in 2011, in his first Grand Slam appearance, mind you.

  

News item: Former world No. 3 Paul Casey confirms he dislocated a shoulder while taking a snowboarding lesson in Vail on Dec. 24, and will be sidelined indefinitely.

Knockdown shot: Over the past couple of years, Casey has seriously injured himself, missing months of combined starts, while practicing with his swing coach and snowboard instructor. Take note, you folks who believe coaching is overrated.

  

News item: PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem says the notion that fans are unhappy with the FedEx Cup system is not totally bad news. "A lot of people hate the BCS, but the BCS has everybody talking about it."

Knockdown shot: Gee, Tim, then I guess that Tiger scandal must have done gangbusters for your business.

  

News item: The Sony Open will be broadcast this weekend in 3D.

Knockdown shot: The number of world top-50 players in the thin Sony field has dropped from 13 to 10 since last year. The best way to watch this broadcast might be while wearing Stevie Wonder glasses.

  

News item: After the profane TaylorMade ad was pointed out to PGA Tour officials on Monday, it seemingly disappeared during the final-round broadcast later that day, prompting some to question whether leverage exerted by the tour was tantamount to "social policing."

Knockdown shot: Knowing how the tour embraces its image, it's more like social storm-trooping, although in this instance, I agree wholeheartedly that the ad crossed the line.

  

News item: The PGA Tour signs a deal with USA Today wherein the tour will buy ads in the paper in exchange for guaranteed amount of newshole dedicated to golf coverage.

Knockdown shot: The editorial conflicts of interest that this deal could create aside -- the tour basically bought itself a newspaper -- it's the content possibilities that are even more interesting. Reworking an old one-liner, the word is that, in order to accommodate USA Today's limitations, tour events next year will be trimmed to nine holes, end on Thursday and be played on multi-colored greens.

  

News item: Finchem says that the often incomprehensible FedEx Cup points system likely will remain unchanged in 2012, and that fan feedback regarding the format remains positive.

Knockdown shot: Yeah? In a story last week on the tour website about 2011 FedEx champ Bill Haas, the first reader comment posted below the story read, "I didn't care then and I don't care now."

  

News item: In a story about sputtering Scottish veteran Andrew Coltart, world No. 2 Lee Westwood notes that Coltart, his brother-in-law, has been run over in the game's power era. "It's a shame that Andrew is having to give up," Westwood said. "But the game at the top level has almost become one for bombers. You can't survive out there if you are short by tour standards."

Knockdown shot: I utterly agree with the general sentiment, but Lee might wanna peruse world No. 1 Luke Donald's driving stats, where the reigning player of the year and leading money-winner on both major tours stands as the lightest-hitting elite player in the game.

  

News item: Veteran Rory Sabbatini is docked two shots for being slightly late for his tee time in Kapalua.

Knockdown shot: Sabbatini is one of the fastest players in the game and has often been an outspoken and demonstrative critic of players who needlessly dawdle. Sabbatini was immediately named as chairman of the tour Policy Board's newest subcommittee, the Department of Gut-Busting Irony.

  

News item: Rising American standout Webb Simpson reveals that his father once offered an attractive Wake Forest classmate $100 to date Webb while the golfer was enrolled in college.

Knockdown shot: "I guess he didn't think I had any game," Webb laughed, writing his own knockdown shot. Turns out, he does -- on two fronts. Simpson ended up marrying the girl and finished T3 at Kapalua, picking up right where his 2011 season left off.

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