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Posted on: December 14, 2011 2:59 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 3:10 pm
 

Legendary scribe Jenkins inducted to Hall of Fame

ORLANDO, Fla. – Even at age 82, Dan Jenkins is still delivering the one-liners.

The multi-media sportswriting icon on Wednesday was announced as the newest inductee into the World Golf Hall of Fame Class of 2012, where he will be enshrined alongside Phil Mickelson and Hollis Stacy.

Jenkins, a former newspaperman from Fort Worth, Tex., who has authored bestselling sports books, wrote for magazines and has even become a Twitter practitioner, in May will become the sixth writer to be inducted. He will be enshrined in the lifetime achievement category.

He has attended or covered 211 major championships and counting, starting as a boy, a mark that likely will never be broken.

“I don’t know who’s in second place but they’re a long way back on the track,” he cracked.

Jenkins cut his teeth in golf by tracking the prospects of two local guys named Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson, who learned the game as caddies at the same area golf club. He’s still following them, in a fashion. 

“I’m happy to be the third guy from Fort Worth [inducted],” he laughed.

Jenkins is something of a cult figure at tournaments, where he often stands outside the media center, smoking a cigarette and holding court with younger writers who haven’t heard his treasure trove of stories and homilies. Elements of his writing style can be found in the work of Rick Reilly and many other well-known sports scribes.

Not that Jenkins is anywhere near finished.

“I’ll be around for as long as they’ll have me,” he said. “I’ll be carried out with a typewriter … I am so happy I chose this profession.”

Jenkins’ oft-copied writing style is breezy, occasionally a bit ribald, and even snarky at times. In the past couple of years, he has needled Tiger Woods pretty relentlessly.

“I don’t think I ever wrote a line that I didn’t believe,” he said.

Here’s a compilation of some of his best work at Gold Digest: http://www.golfdigest.com/magazine/
dan-jenkins

Jenkins has seen more golf shots, good and bad, than any other ink-stained wretch and listed his three most memorable events as the 1960 U.S. Open, which featured the trio of Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus – the current, past and future kings of the game; Hogan’s closing 67 at the 1951 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills and Nicklaus’ sixth and final Masters victory at age 46.

It’s a different game now, of course. He used to sit around for hours and shoot the breeze with the likes of Jimmy Demaret, Lee Trevino, Sam Snead and Dave Marr.

“All of those guys were a sportswriter’s dream,” he said. “They needed us as much as we needed them.”

Jenkins was asked where he cultivated his sense of humor and love for sports.

“If you grow up in Texas and don’t like sports,” he said, “they drown you.”

Apparently so. His daughter, Sally, is an award0winning columnist for the Washington Post.

Posted on: December 14, 2011 1:56 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 1:57 pm
 

World ranking: Where 'Yank' is clearly a verb

ORLANDO, Fla. – Tis the season to count your blessings.

Which is a lot easier than counting the top Americans.

Ailing Steve Stricker dropped a spot this week in the official world golf ranking, slipping to sixth, creating the very real possibility that for the first time in 17 years, no American player will be ranked in the top five on the final pecking order of the season.

There has been much written about the American slump at the majors, a record skid that was halted by PGA Tour rookie Keegan Bradley at the PGA Championship in August, but the drought and turnover at the top of the world ranking is becoming increasingly evident.

There are two weeks left in the year. The last time there were no Americans ranked in the season-ending OWGR was in 1994, when international stars Nick Price, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and Jose Maria Olazabal all ranked ahead of No. 6 Fred Couples.

Stricker, bothered by a disc injury to his neck that has left his effectiveness for the 2012 season somewhat in question, turns 45 in February. This week, he is ranked behind Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Adam Scott.

How fast has the landscape changed?

In the final OWGR list of 2010, issued 50 weeks ago, Americans held four of the top seven spots behind Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Stricker. Twelve months earlier, in the Dec. 31, 2009, ranking, the same foursome of Americans held claim to four of the top six spots.

This week, the last member of the group still remaining in the top 10 is Stricker. The last time a season ended without Mickelson or Woods in the final OWGR top-10 of the year was in 1995, when Woods was a sophomore at Stanford.

Ratings can be a capricious, cyclical and fickle barometer, but age often isn’t. Furyk, Mickelson and Stricker all are age 41 or older and Woods, who has been sidelined by surgery or health issues in three of the past four years, turns 36 in two weeks.

Category: Golf
Posted on: December 13, 2011 4:48 pm
 

Donald named top player by PGA Tour peers

In an age when golf often seems more about the high-flying hare than the steady tortoise, Luke Donald proved that guile and consistency can still beat flamboyance over the long haul.

The 34-year-old became the first player from England to win the PGA Tour’s top-player award on Tuesday, claiming the Jack Nicklaus Trophy by a vote of his playing peers.

Donald won twice this season, including a clutch performance at the season finale at Disney World that surely turned heads. He topped the money list, led the tour in scoring average and top-10 finishes, and last weekend added the money title on the European Tour, too.

No member of both tours has ever topped both earnings lists in the same season. Donald won four titles worldwide this season, a career best.

“It’s been a tremendously consistent year for me,” Donald said by phone from Australia, where he is playing this week.

Vote totals were not released.

 


 

Category: Golf
Posted on: December 7, 2011 2:59 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 3:03 pm
 

Luke takes heat: 'Rory more talented than Tiger'

ORLANDO, Fla. -- If you’ve ever been to the U.K. and dined in a restaurant – and lived to talk about it – you probably noticed a vaguely labeled, mysterious bottle parked near the salt and pepper shakers.

It’s something called Brown Sauce, and the Brits use it liberally to cover up the occasional shortcomings of their food selections.

Effective Wednesday, world No. 1 Luke Donald was sprinkling it on his transcript from the Dubai World Championship and being asked to eat his words.

Locked in a duel for the European Tour money title with world No. 2 Rory McIlroy, Donald said the young Northern Irishman, 22, was more talented than any player he had ever seen. It took, oh, about 10 seconds for those comments to go viral, prompting a barrage of incredulous attacks on Donald – who turned 34 on Wednesday – via his Twitter account.

Donald felt compelled to explain himself, too. First, here's what he said in his interview session on the eve of the European Tour's richest event and season finale.

"I’ve always said that of the guys I've played with, Rory has the most talent," he said. "I see him winning lots of tournaments and lots of majors."

That list of pairing partners would include Woods.

"I believe so, yeah, just in a pure talent," Donald said. "I know Tiger is very, very close and obviously I think Tiger's work ethic has always been tremendous, and his mindset, as well. I think his mindset is what has separated himself from the field when he was really at the top of the game. 

"But in terms of talent, I think Rory has more talent."

Woods, 35, has 71 career victories on the PGA Tour alone. Last weekend, McIlroy won his fourth worldwide title in Hong Kong.

"Rory showed the world how great he can be when he won the U.S. Open," Donald said. "That was an unbelievable way to play in a major event and finish it off like he did. He's young and has a great future ahead of him."

Woods has a more uncertain trajectory, to be sure, but Donald was carved up pretty good and spent some time Wednesday night trying to explain himself on Twitter. In reverse chronological order, so that the Tweets make more sense in written form, Donald defended his statements as some in the Twitter universe came at him with pitchforks in hand.

“A few people aren't understanding what I meant," he wrote. "The word talent and Rory to me means a free flowing swing who makes everything look so easy.

“TW has always been the best at getting the ball in the hole when it mattered the most. That's not just talent [that's] something else too....

“Talent can only take you so far, you need the right attitude (mindset) and application to perform at the highest level....

“… never try to disrespect Tiger in any way. He is still the greatest player I have played with.”

So, if we're splitting hairs correctly, Woods is the greatest because of his mental toughness, but Rory is the most inherently talented and physically gifted.

Truth be told, no matter how Donald’s opinion is parsed, he’s hardly the first guy who has taken a stance on Woods lately, joining Nick Faldo, Greg Norman, Steve Williams and others who have offered less-than-glowing predictions about the former world No. 1’s future.

Posted on: December 5, 2011 5:19 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2011 5:28 pm
 

Rocking tune isn't music to Tiger's ears

ORLANDO, Fla. – A few minutes after Tiger Woods won for the first time in 25 months on Sunday night, he sent out a link to an old YouTube video by aging rap artist LL Cool J called, "Mama Said Knock You Out."

Oddly, he didn’t send out a link to the tune penned and posted far more recently, by a hard-rock outfit called Steel Panther.

For those of you familiar with Woods’ scandal-inducing travails of the past two years, the lyrical content of the song will be every bit as raunchy as his private life, so consider yourself forewarned. Others with a higher tolerance for R-rated material will probably fall out of their chairs in laughter.

Here’s the link, which includes the lyrics

This particular post was made on Nov. 11, or about a month before Woods won the unofficial Chevron World Challenge, his only victory of any kind since late 2009. A few excerpts from the song are listed below. The group has an ‘80s hair band vibe, and sort of sounds like the mythical Steel Dragon band from the Mark Walberg movie “Rock Star” of a few years back, a definite guilty pleasure flick:

Lie through your teeth when things get tough,
Or your balls are going to wind up in the rough.

If the word gets out don’t be afraid,
When a 9-iron’s headed for your Escalade.

Have your best friend book all your flights,
Tell your wife that you’re golfing nights,
Get a call girl or maybe just chill,
Be willing to part with a $100 mil.

Hey, it ain't Lennon and McCartney, but these guys did their homework and got the background part right. The tune actually grows on you, too.

Rapper Ludacris penned a song about Woods shortly after the scandal broke two years ago, making light of his sexting and voicemail messages to one of his alleged extra-marital dalliances.

Category: Golf
Posted on: December 4, 2011 7:37 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2011 7:53 pm
 

Victory at last: Woods ends slump at 25 months

ORLANDO, Fla. – Forget the look of sheer relief, unbridled glee, steely vindication or whatever best describes Tiger Woods' first-blush reaction as it crossed his mug on the 18th green at Sherwood Country Club.

The more interesting expression flashed across the face of his final-round playing partner, Zach Johnson, who was stationed a few yards away.

As Woods cannily rolled in an eight-footer for birdie on the final hole to win the Chevron World Challenge, Johnson looked at caddie Damon Green with something close to a resigned smirk on his face, then shrugged.

Like most, Johnson figured Woods would come back and win at some point, and after 25 mostly brutal months, it finally happened Sunday night, at Johnson’s expense.

The circumstances – the last two seasons notwithstanding – looked all too familiar for anybody who has followed Woods’ career.

One stroke behind Johnson with two holes to play, Woods rolled in birdie putts on the last two holes to win for the first time in a career-long 749 days, signaling that to some degree, he's put his scandal, multiple injury issues and swing concerns behind him.

Sure, it was a no-cut boutique event with only 17 other players. It was unofficial and the money didn’t count. But at this point, winning a four-ball match at his home track would do wonders for his self-esteem and confidence, so the circumstances ought to make for a nervous off-season for his brethren. Has the party started again? In an uncharacteristic move, Woods' camp sent champagn to the media center afterward.


“Any different?” Woods said of the overdue victory vibe. “It feels great. It’s kind of hard for me to elaborate beyond that. I know it’s been awhile, but in some ways it feels like it hasn’t.”

By his standards, it had been forever.

Woods hasn’t won an official tournament since November, 2009, and while the Silly Season win won’t change his PGA Tour total, which still stands at 71, Woods said the best part was that Sunday's back nine felt like the proverbial riding of a bike. Though he has faltered numerous times over the two-year drought, including holding a share of the lead at the Masters on Sunday in April, he hadn’t completely forgotten how to deliver the goods when the familiar pressure mounted.

“It felt normal,” he said. “I felt very comfortable. I have been here so many times, I just feel very comfortable being in that position. Was I nervous? Absolutely. I am always nervous in that position, but I am comfortable in that position.”

Nobody is asserting that he’s all the way back – there were plenty of loose shots and signals on the weekend to insist otherwise -- but for the first time since before his celebrated crash, Woods made meaningful putts as the scrappy Johnson put all sorts of heat on him.

“If the man is healthy, that's paramount,” Johnson said. “I mean, he's the most experienced and the best player I've ever played with. In every situation, he knows how to execute and win.”

Never one to articulate his feelings, Woods had a hard time expressing what was at the fore of his emotions – be it satisfaction, relief or simple unmitigated joy.

“Whatever it is, it feels pretty good,” he said.

It ought to make Christmas, and his 36th birthday later this month, a bit more endurable. Otherwise, Woods would have faced two more months of scrutiny until his next start with growing doubts about his ability to produce under duress. Last year at the Chevron event, positioned to end his slump at 13 months, he blew a four-shot lead in the final round and lost in a playoff to Graeme McDowell.

McDowell knocked in a birdie on the final hole of regulation and another one on the first playoff hole at Sherwood and Woods couldn’t answer. This time, After Johnson birdied the 16th to take a one-shot lead, Woods was the one who poured in the birdies on the last two holes.

“I pulled it off, from one down with two to go, and to go birdie-birdie is as good as it gets,” he said.

After a season of scheduling fits and spurts because of injury and poor play, Woods seemed to gradually find some semblance of rhythm this fall, just in time to take an offseason seat. In other words, now that he’s won, the final sanctioned stroke-play event of the year in the States is in the books.

He was hardly wringing his hands about putting it in park for a while.

“Actually, I am not [disappointed], because I have pushed pretty hard,” he said. “I have taken very, very few days off. My mind and my body are wanting a little bit of a break. I wanna shut it down for a couple of weeks.”

The bounce from the win, unofficial or not, was more than just emotional. His stock had fallen so precipitously after starting the year at No. 2 in the world, he was in danger of not qualifying for the Chevron tournament – which he hosts -- by falling out of the top 50 at the eligibility deadline. But because the short-field Chevron event receives ranking points, the victory jumped him from 52nd to a projected 21st in this week’s rankings.

“When the pressure was on the most the last two holes,” Woods said, “I hit three of the best shots I hit all week and that’s very exciting for me.”

That was self-evident. When the winning putt rolled in on the 18th green, Woods screamed something the lip readers will have to decipher, conducted a familiar fist-pumping victory celebration, then shook Johnson’s hand.

“Immediate thoughts?” Woods said of the victorious putt. “I wasn’t really thinking. I think I was yelling.”

So was the crowd, which was at least as pumped as he was to have seen progress in his career reinvention, comeback, or whatever it ought to be called. Fans cheered “Tiger’s back” after the victory. Woods laughed when asked about it.

“One of my buddies texted me an old LL Cool J lyric: ‘Can’t call it a comeback, been here for years,’” Woods said.

Well, that’s hardly the unvarnished truth – there had been far more L’s than W’s lately, not to mention some MC Hammers, as he calls missing the cut. Woods has mostly been a non-factor for months, missing tournaments for months at a time and rarely contending when he was able-bodied enough to play. But if the putts on the last two holes are any indication, the 72nd-hole look on Johnson’s face could soon be making a comeback, just like Woods himself.

For the first time in forever, nearly everybody had the feeling that Woods would bury the winning putt, just like old times. It seemed like that old sense of the inevitable end was back.

That certainly would explain the expression on Johnson's face.

“In this game, I'm never surprised with the way the guys are able to execute and hit shots,” Johnson said. “I think he would be the epitome of that example.”

Category: Golf
Posted on: December 1, 2011 12:32 pm
Edited on: December 1, 2011 12:34 pm
 

As game slips, Woods still master of storytelling

ORLANDO, Fla. -- It’s not exactly news that Tiger Woods has credibility issues, especially among those who are really paying attention.

Seriously, outside of some elected officials and a handful of SEC football coaches, few public figures so routinely bend the truth to suit whatever agenda they might have.

With Woods, sometimes it’s as though he is, um, evasive by default -- about the most mindless issues. Case in point: How many golf balls he was hitting as he tried to ramp up his game to his former level of prowess.

Playing this week as host of the unofficial Chevron World Challenge in suburban Los Angeles, Woods said he began practicing without restriction only a few weeks ago, a big reason his play has been so sloppy at times since ending a three-month layoff over the summer.

Hmmm, interesting.

Woods didn’t play for three months because of a knee injury, and when he returned for the Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship during consecutive weeks in August, he was specifically asked about ball-count limitations in practice and his expectations for the week.

“No [ball count], and same as always, hasn't changed, expectation level,” he said on Aug. 2.

So, when he again alluded to his diminished practice regimen at the Chevron event Wednesday, he was asked about when he was released from any ball-count restrictions.

“It was probably two weeks after the PGA,” Woods said.

It’s not exactly a trick question, is it?

Woods has issued so many half-truths, evasions, misdirections and outright canards -- particularly about his physical condition -- it's become a subject of levity among the beat writers. What purpose do his latest fact-or-fiction exercises serve? To provide more wiggle room as to why his game hasn't improved more quickly?

Beats me. And that's the truth.

Category: Golf
Tags: tiger woods
 
Posted on: November 28, 2011 2:54 pm
Edited on: November 28, 2011 8:28 pm
 

Alternate-shot with twist: Allenby, Ogilvy vent

Pairing partners at the Presidents Cup a little over a week earlier, Aussie stars Geoff Ogilvy and Robert Allenby squared off in an animated exchange before dozens of dinner guests after the Australian PGA Championship on Sunday night, looking more like sparring partners than countrymen and mates.

Allenby, who earlier had lost the PGA title in a playoff, has been taking plenty of heat for being the only pointless player at the Presidents Cup, so to speak, where he had a record of 0-4. Frustrated over being singled out for the defeat, he since has countered by explaining that he was hampered at times by his pairings partners, including Ogilvy, who hit three tee shots into the trees during their match.

Which might be true, though it's certainly bad form to blame your mates in a team defeat, as was pointed out last week in the Aussie media, which made the point clear at Allenby's expense. It's also a fact that Ogilvy can read, and caught wind of Allenby's remarks.

When Allenby sat down at a Hyatt Regency banquet table Sunday where Ogilvy was seated, the two began an exchange that surprised those in attendance. According to an Aussie newspaper account, Ogilvy accused Allenby of throwing him under the bus with regard to their pairing at the Presidents Cup, then questioned his character, which reportedly sent Allenby into a fury.

It was reported that Allenby accidently broke a wine glass and asked Ogilvy, “Do you want to have a go?” Allenby, who a couple of hours earlier had lost the playoff to Greg Chalmers, eventually left the banquet area. 

Another characterization surfaced Monday in which it was said that Allenby was booed out of the room by those in attendance and that the wine glass might not have been broken by accident.

Talk about an alternate-shot match.

''Look, it wasn't TV Ringside or anything,'' Paul Galli, Ogilvy's manager, told the Sydney paper. ''I wasn't there, but from what I've been told, it's a storm in a teacup. There were a few words spoken. They will be fine. I've got no doubt they can come together at the [Australian] Masters in a few weeks, have a beer and move on.''

Since Ogilvy is considered the more thoughtful, introspective and sensible of the pair, Allenby was quickly painted as the villain, which isn't exactly a simple truth. While he shot his mouth off about the Presidents Cup, that's often part of his charm.
 
Allenby is rarely afraid to offer an opinion -- just ask Anthony Kim – and in turn gets a bad rap. But Allenby has a magnanimous side, too. He broke down crying on the course two years ago at an Aussie event as his terminally ill mother watched him struggling to win the title for her. He sponsors a fishing tournament for leukemia victims in the Jupiter, Fla., area. Years ago, as teenage Aussie Jarrod Lyle was ill in the hospital with leukemia, Allenby dropped by for a visit. Lyle recovered and plays on the PGA Tour, too.

As for the caddie issue, Alllenby threw a lifeline to current bagman Robert Floyd earlier this year after the latter had been arrested on a DUI charge, not his first, and gave him a job. Floyd’s dad is Hall of Famer Ray Floyd. There might not be a better guy than Allenby to hang out with on weekends, for those who enjoy an adult beverage. When Allenby turned 40 earlier this year, the whole family went to Key West, where they partied so hard, a couple of family members needed, shall we say, medical attention.

So, as the old saying goes, regardless of who started the verbal fracas, it takes two to tango.

Category: Golf
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com