The Local Knowlege

News & Tours

For Mickelson and Bradley, the needle is their 15th club

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Phil Mickelson is obviously proud that his off-season workout regimen has given him greater clubhead and ball speed and more ammunition with which to needle his friends.


On Wednesday, his friend and Ryder Cup Cup partner Keegan Bradley played just in front of Mickelson in the Waste Management Phoenix Open pro-am and said this about a particular encounter:

“When I outdrove [Mickelson] today by 30 yards [on the 14th hole], I left him a note in the fairway, letting him know the senior tees are not that far off, don’t get too worked up about it.”

Bradley also said to ask Mickelson about it. Mickelson’s response:

“Last week we had an event at the Madison Club [in Indio, Calif.], a fun fundraiser. Keegan and I had a long-drive contest. I flew it by him 25 yards. I have gotten a lot more speed in the offseason. That really bothered him.

“So the 14th hole [at the TPC Scottsdale] is a dogleg right to left. I guess he really hammered one. I had not played the hole before. I just hit a little stock cut just to comfortably put it out there. He was 11 yards by me. If that’s what it takes to stroke his ego, then that’s what it takes. Had I known that he was going to make a big deal about it, I would have swung a fraction harder and put it past him.”

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News & Tours

When football comes to the Phoenix Open and golf goes to the Super Bowl

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Super Bowl and the Animal House of golf tournaments occupying the same town the same week is, what, bedlam squared?

Say this, the events are inextricably linked, notwithstanding the fact that golf and football have nothing in common save for the importance of scoring from inside 100 yards. And the collective enthusiasm in these precincts is palpable.

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer in the Phoenix Open Pro-Am (Getty Images)

For the record, neither the Super Bowl nor the Waste Management Phoenix Open will actually be played in the same town and neither will be held in Phoenix. The University of Phoenix Stadium, site of the Super Bowl, is in Glendale, west of Phoenix. The Waste Management Phoenix Open is played in Scottsdale, northeast of Phoenix. They are 32 miles apart via State Route 101.

Yet the commingling of the events began on Tuesday, when Seattle Seahawks wide receivers and golf enthusiasts Jermaine Kearse and Bryan Walters stopped by the TPC Scottsdale.

On Wednesday, several pro-am participants came from the world of football, including Ohio State coach Urban Meyer (shown above) and Tiger Woods’ pro-am partner Marcus Allen, who was asked by a television reporter about an intimidation factor playing with Tiger.

“I do have a Heisman,” he said chuckling. “I don’t know if it’s a green jacket, but I have an MVP in the Super Bowl and the NFL MVP.”

Touche, Marcus.

A few of the players in the Phoenix Open field do plan to attend the Super Bowl, including Woods, diehard Patriots fan Keegan Bradley, Washington native Michael Putnam, and Spieth.

“I’m planning on taking Michael [Greller, his caddie] who’s a big Seahawks fan,” Spieth said, “and I’m going to root for the Patriots.”

The only thing that could scotch their plans? Winning the tournament. The Phoenix Open will end around 3 p.m. (Mountain Time) and the Super Bowl begins at 3:30. Factor in a winner’s post-tournament commitments, including interviews, getting to the Super Bowl even just for the second half would be problematic.

Bradley was asked whether he’d prefer he win the tournament or the Patriots win the Super Bowl.

“It’s a lot harder than you would imagine,” he said.

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News & Tours

Watch Tiger Woods (maybe) blade a bunker shot into the TPC Scottsdale crowd on purpose

Two questions have swirled around Tiger Woods in his return to the PGA Tour this week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open: What happened to his tooth in Italy? And what happened to his short game at Isleworth?

Related: 7 things to watch for in Tiger's return

Woods gave us his answer to the first question during Tuesday's press conference and tried to quell concerns about the second. But in Wednesday's pro-am, he gave people more reason to wonder what is going on with his wedges -- or did he?

Woods didn't chunk any chips (at least, that we have video of) like he did at an alarming rate at the Hero World Challenge last month, but he did blade a bunker shot into the crowd on TPC Scottsdale's famed 16th hole. Did he do it on purpose, though?

Woods was booed when he missed the green and Golf Channel's Tiger Tracker tweeted that Tiger's shot from the sand was a playful retort to the rowdy fans in the crowd.

Hmm. Isn't that a little dangerous to try, especially for someone who has been struggling with his short game of late?

Related: Tiger's return, "Deflategate" on tour, and first world WAG problems

The AP's Doug Ferguson, who was also on the scene, had a slightly different take:

In any matter, thanks to Arizona Republic reporter Kellie Hwang for capturing the shot in question. Check it out and let us know what you think:

(h/t Kyle Porter, CBS Sports)

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News & Tours

Golf Digest's Ron Sirak wins 2015 PGA Lifetime Award in Journalism

Longtime Golf Digest/Golf World editor Ron Sirak was named the recipient of the 2015 PGA Lifetime Award in Journalism on Wednesday. Sirak is the fifth Golf Digest/Golf World editor to win the award since 2010 and he joins other renowned golf writers like Herbert Warren Wind, Jim Murray, Dave Anderson, and Dan Jenkins.

"The PGA of America Lifetime Achievement Award is more satisfying than any other honor because it recognizes a body of work over a long period of time. I am particularly happy that I was cited for two areas I worked very hard to try to shed light on: The women's game in general and the LPGA in particular, and the business side of the game," said Sirak, who will be honored April 8 at the Golf Writers Association of America's annual awards dinner ahead of the Masters.

Related: Ron Sirak's Golf Digest/Golf World archive

"Ron Sirak has brought readers to the heart of a story, connecting us with many of the amazing personalities in our game while also delivering balanced reporting on issues affecting our industry," PGA of America President Derek Sprague said. "Ron is one of the most trusted voices in golf and a friend to all who play the game."


Sirak is currently a senior writer for Golf Digest. He was formerly executive editor of Golf World, where he came to work in 1998 after an 18-year stint at the Associated Press. At the AP, Sirak showed his love for golf in particular when he took a pay cut to switch from being deputy sports editor to being the news organization's golf writer. Sirak is credited with helping to expand the AP's golf coverage in 1996.

"When the Tiger phenomena happened, the beefed-up golf coverage at the AP made my boss and I both look smarter than we were," Sirak said.

Among the thousands of bylines Sirak has produced since, a few stories stand stand out to him. Payne Stewart's death. A piece on how clubs coped with the tragedy of 9/11. Reporting on golf in the tumultuous Middle East for two weeks. And traveling to Rwanda to tell the story of six LPGA players on a humanitarian mission to help the more than one million orphans in the country of eight million, for which Sirak won a 2008 GWAA award.

Sirak: Hope amid horrors in Rwanda

"I was overwhelmed by a desire -- a need -- to write a good story about those brave people," Sirak said.

Of course, there were plenty of happier events that Sirak fondly recalls. To date, Sirak has covered more than 140 men's and women's championships (he was the first journalist to cover every men's and woman's major in a single year in 2005), 10 Ryder Cups, and seven Solheim Cups. His highlights are being on the scene for what he calls Annika Sorenstam's "Sandy Koufax Years" of dominance and watching an unstoppable Tiger Woods up close in 2000.

Sirak is the president of the GWAA and the author of three books with golf instructors Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott. He's also proof that a successful career path doesn't have to be as straight as a Sorenstam 7-wood.

Related: Ron Sirak's behind-the-scenes story of how the USGA's TV deal with Fox happened

"I didn't become a sports writer until I was 37 -- I was a news writer for 17 years first -- and didn't become exclusively a golf writer until I was 45," Sirak said. "It was a long way around but I ended up exactly where I was supposed to be."

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News & Tours

Does coddling create thin-skinned golfers? Yes, Brandel Chamblee argues

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Robert Allenby’s anti-media tirade on Tuesday brought to mind a recent conversation with Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee.


The subject: coddled golfers.

Allenby blamed the media for the controversy in which he is entangled over his Honolulu incident and the aftermath that has many questioning the veracity of his account. Near the end of his media briefing, he was asked what surprised him the most in the previous 10 days regarding his Honolulu incident and the aftermath that have some questioning .

“I realized that I don’t have any friends in the media,” he said. “Maybe one. That’s it.”

Chamblee, no stranger himself to criticism for opining on golfers, has a theory as to why many golfers are thin-skinned.

“In every other sport, when you mess up a coach yells at you, screams at you,” Chamblee said. “Your teammates let you know. But if you’re good at golf, you are lauded at every turn. You’re written about, told how great you are, every door is open to you. At no point do you get criticized as a golfer.”

When they eventually play their way onto telecasts and hear later they were criticized, “they don’t talk to you any more. They think they are entitled to being lauded at every turn. They’re used to it.”

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Fantasy Golf

Fantasy Fix: Should you take Tiger, Bubba or Rickie at TPC Scottsdale?

A last-minute switch to predicting a Ryan Palmer victory instead of a Bill Haas win looked pretty good on Friday as Palmer got to 10 under through 10 holes and looked on his way to shooting the PGA Tour's first ever 58. But Palmer cooled off and Haas, of course, won, leaving me happy for my fellow Wake Forest classmate but also kicking myself for not having gone with my heart. "Oooh, Billy, Billy, Billy," as Judge Smails would say. At least, keeping Haas in my lineup paid off dividends and hopefully he helped you, too. Who are we tabbing this week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, aka the Tiger Woods makes his latest comeback Challenge? A look at our Yahoo! lineup:

The Grind: A potential PGA Tour link to "Deflategate" and first world WAG problems

Starters -- (A-List): Bubba Watson. You'd think I'd learn my lesson in underestimating Haas, but I'm going with Bubba in this spot. Watson should have won here last year and his firepower at the score-friendly TPC Scottsdale makes him the favorite. Tiger is also listed in the A category, but despite his assurance he's hit "thousands of chips," I can't get those chunks from the last time we saw him out of my memory.

(B-List): Rickie Fowler. A runner-up here in 2010, Fowler has missed the cut in his last two trips to Phoenix. But those were before he fully morphed into Rickie 2.0 under Butch Harmon and started contending basically every time he tees it up. We're banking on win No. 2.0 when this orange butterfly spreads his wings in the desert -- or, something like that.


(B-List): Hideki Matsuyama. It's just a matter of time before last year's Memorial champ wins again. After the Japanese star finished T-4 in his first go-round at TPC Scottsdale last year, this seems like a logical place to do it.

Related: 11 PGA Tour sleepers to watch in 2014-15

(C-List): Brendan Steele. Tough call here over red-hot rookie Justin Thomas, but Steele's TPC Scottsdale track record is just too good. In the last three years he's finished T-5, T-6 and T-6.

Bench/Backups: Bill Haas, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, and Justin Thomas.

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

Knockout/One-and-done pick: Brendan Steele. Belly putters everywhere can look to Brendan for inspiration. He made the switch to a regular putter last summer and he hasn't looked back, including a runner-up at last week's Humana Challenge. (*Looks up Steele's strokes gained/putting to see he only ranks 131st*). Hmm. Well, that is, if you make the switch AND improve everything else about your golf game, you'll be fine. . .

Previously used: Charles Howell III (Sony), Geoff Ogilvy (Hyundai), Ryan Palmer (Humana).

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News & Tours

Missing Links: McIlroy calls his impending court case 'a nasty process'

Stories of interest you might have missed...

“Rory McIlroy has admitted that the multi-million pound case with a former management company is ‘a nasty process’ and has expressed his wish for the experience which will see him take the stand in a Dublin court next week to be over,” James Corrigan of the Telegraph writes. McIlroy is playing in the Dubai Desert Classic this week, then will head home for the trial with his former agency.


(Getty Images)

“Royal Troon, one of three male-only clubs on the British Open rota along with Muirfield and Royal St George's, may start allowing women members in time for the 2016 championship,” Reuters Tony Jimenez writes. Royal Troon issued a statement that read in part: “Royal Troon Golf Club announced today it will shortly undertake a comprehensive review to consider the most appropriate membership policy for the future.”


The Troon Ladies’ Golf Club will co-host the British Open in 2016 with Royal Troon, “the first time in 155 years that such a set up will be in place for the world’s oldest major,” Martin Dempster of the Scotsman writes. It is another strong indicator that Royal Troon will be next in “bringing down its men-only barriers.”


“Martin Kaymer has vowed to follow in Rory McIlroy’s footsteps and use a bitter experience as added motivation after suffering the worst collapse in golf history at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship,” Derek Lawrenson of the Daily Mail writes. Kaymer had a 10-stroke lead with 13 holes to play and lost. “The German admits he has been doing plenty of soul-searching. ‘It wasn’t just a big golf lesson it was a huge life lesson,’ he said. ‘It was like what happened to Rory a few years ago at the Masters. But if you deal with it honestly and gain more motivation then you can do what he did and come out a few months later and win the US Open by 20 shots or whatever.”


The individual storylines in the Phoenix area this week have included Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and golfers Tiger Woods and Robert Allenby, for nothing that happened on the field or the golf course. Tom Weiskopf, once known as the Towering Inferno, gets it. "I was no saint," he said in this story by John Davis in the Arizona Republic. "But, you deserve what you deserve, OK? We're in a sensational world today where information is passed so quickly, and it's unfortunate that you have controversy. But there is never going to be a perfect scenario. There's always going to be some kind of controversy."

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News & Tours

Allenby defiantly stands by his account, blames media for the controversy

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Robert Allenby defiantly stuck to his story on Tuesday while blaming the media for creating and sustaining a controversy from his night on the town in Honolulu on Jan. 16.


“There has definitely been a lot of confusion,” he said, while still showing signs of the cuts and bruises he suffered on the night in question. “But I think the number one thing that you should remember is that my story stays exactly the same as the way I told it. I told you what I knew and what someone told me. That’s the bottom line.

“From that, obviously the media have decided that they’re the most amazing experts at investigations. There is a reason why detectives in Honolulu are some of the best in the world. I’d really appreciate it if we’d just let them do their job and maybe we could get to the bottom of it.”

Related: Robert Allenby isn't getting any help from Honolulu witnesses

Allenby’s story included a drugging, kidnapping, beating and robbery and that he was left at a park six miles from the wine bar at which he had been drinking. He also has said that he has no recollection of what happened between “about 11:06 [p.m.] to about 1:27 a.m., no memory in my brain. Nothing.”

The story doesn’t jibe with that has been told by others who have claimed to have witnessed some of it.

“I was in a place having a nice dinner and having a nice night and then I became a victim and now it’s all been turned around. I understand the way the media works. I have been around for 25 years as a professional golfer, and I have endured a lot of different comments from the media. But I’m happy to take it on the chin. I’m a strong-willed character. At the end of the day, what’s happened has happened. The police will come out with the right story so please, let them do their job. Don’t get in the way of them and everything will be great.”

Allenby, 43, from Australia, picked a curious place in which to return to competition. The Waste Management Phoenix Open has the largest, most vociferous crowds in golf.

Related: Allenby gets exposed and a possible link between "Deflategate" and the PGA Tour

“Mentally I’m preparing myself for probably one of the toughest weeks of my life,” he said. “It wasn’t an easy decision. But I thought I needed to get my life back on track. I’m a professional golfers and why should I let controversy put me out of the game I love?”

He said he is hitting the ball well and feeling better. “Obviously there’s a lot going on in my head. “I’m not expecting a lot from this week, but I’m just expecting myself to overcome this ordeal and just try to move on with my life.”

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News & Tours

Tiger Woods has his tooth fixed, but what about his game?

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Tiger Woods can smile again, though whether his golf game will allow him to do so won’t be known until later in the week.

(Getty Images)

Woods made his first public appearance Tuesday morning at the TPC Scottsdale, site of the Waste Management Phoenix Open this week, and the tooth that went mysteriously missing in Italy recently has been replaced. Only the story of how it happened is unchanged.

It occurred in the media melee after girlfriend Lindsey Vonn set the all-time record for World Cup ski victories.

“I had my mask on so no one knew who I was,” he said. “That was the whole idea of the mask. I was looking down and all the camera guys were below me on their knees trying to get a picture [of Vonn]. Dude with a video camera on his shoulder, right in front of me, stood up and turned and caught me square on the mouth.”

Woods said the camera chipped on tooth and cracked a second tooth. “I’m trying to keep this thing so the blood is not all over the place,” he said. He was fortunate that the chipped tooth was the one on which he had had a root canal, he said.

Whether his answer is a satisfactory one apparently is open to debate.

“So many people are not believing your story,” he was asked.

“Dude, you guys, it’s just the way the media is. It is what it is,” he said.

And that’s that. Whether he has restored the teeth to his golf game in the wake of back surgery last year is another matter and a question that won’t be resolved until he tests it in competition.

He last played in his own tournament in December, when he finished 17th in an 18-player field and battled chipping issues. He also was fighting a flu virus, he said, that plagued him for three weeks afterwards.

“I lost a lot more weight,” he said, “but I was finally able to start gaining weight again and started training. I started practicing with Chris (Como, his new instructor). We’ve done some really good work. We have a game plan we need to get to. We’re ahead of schedule on each stage of the game plan. That’s a good sign.

“Overall I’m very pleased to go out there and hit shots. As you saw, I’m cranking up speed. The speed’s coming back up. It’s going to be a fun year. Chipping, I was caught between techniques, between my old release pattern and body movement, when I was working with Sean [Foley, his former instructor], and my new release pattern. We had to basically just hit thousands upon thousands upon thousands of chips and just get it out of there. Now it’s better.”

He has made the quickest progress with his driver. “I’m a lot longer than I thought I ever could be again,” he said. “My speed is way back up and that’s fun. I’m touching number that I did 15 years ago, so that’s cool.”

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The Grind

The Grind: "Deflategate's" possible link to golf, Paulina's baby, and first world WAG problems

Welcome to a special 100th edition (!) of The Grind, where we, well, OK, so we don't have anything special planned. We've been just as caught up in "Deflategate" as everyone else and just hope the PGA Tour isn't implicated in the scandal as well. Remember last year at the Waste Management Phoenix Open when we all marveled at Phil Mickelson's throwing arm? Sadly, we can't say for sure anymore if that football was inflated to the NFL's legal PSI level.


And now, the PGA Tour recently banned the throwing of objects into the stands at this year's tournament. Hmm. Was the move really done as a safety precaution -- or is it part of a larger cover-up?


Bill Haas: After an odd 2014 campaign in which he never missed a cut, but also almost never surfaced on a Sunday leader board -- thanks in large part to a broken bone in his wrist -- Haas began his 2015 with a second win at the Humana Challenge. That gives Haas, a fellow member of Wake Forest's Class of 2004, six PGA Tour titles and $32 million in on-course earnings (if you count that $10 million bonus for winning the 2011 FedEx Cup) by age 32. That means we have combined to make slightly more than $32 million since graduation. Not too shabby.

Related: Pictures of PGA Tour wives and girlfriends

Branden Grace: If anyone has racked up quality wins with less fanfare than Bill Haas in recent years, it's this South African. Grace picked up his sixth European Tour title at the Qatar Masters and he can thank this early shot-of-the-year candidate in the third round:

The only golfer under 30 with more worldwide wins than Grace? Some guy named Rory McIlroy.

Miguel Angel Jimenez: Everybody's favorite "Mechanic" kicked off the 2015 Champions Tour season in style with a win at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship. Jimenez is now batting .666 on the senior tour with two wins in just three starts. Perhaps more impressively, he also survived Hawaii's wine bar scene without a scratch.


Bill Haas in majors: As good of a career as Haas has had, his performance in golf's majors has been puzzling. In fact, he just might be "the best player never to contend in a major." It's not a flattering title, but it's also not the worst thing to happen to someone. Again, six wins and more than $30 million earned. But no top 10s in 21 major starts? C'mon, Billy! We love you, but you're better than that!

PHOTOS: The Year In Golf WAGs

Compton coming up short: As happy as we were to see Haas emerge from the pack in Palm Springs, we realize most viewers were tuning in to see if a man who has undergone two heart transplants could win. But a disappointing Sunday 70 dropped the co-leader after 54 holes into T-10. That's OK, though. Compton, who finished T-2 at last year's U.S. Open, isn't a flash in the pan. He and ticker No. 3 will be back to hopefully write a different ending next time.

Related: 11 PGA Tour sleepers to watch in 2014-15

Robert Allenby's story: So. . . it seems that whole "kidnapping" thing didn't actually happen. Instead, it appears Allenby ran up a $3,400 tab at a strip club (ouch) and passed out on a street corner. Allenby doesn't look good here, but he also doesn't deserve all the blame. There have been way too many "Taken" movies made.


The PGA Tour heads to the Waste Management Phoenix Open, aka that tournament that wraps up on Super Bowl Sunday and where all the rowdy, drunk fans congregate on one hole.

Related: 15 signs you watch too much golf on TV

Random tournament fact: The big game is in the area as well for the first time since 2008. That year, Phil Mickelson, who lost in a playoff to J.B. Holmes, gave away his tickets. This year, Keegan Bradley, a huge Patriots fan, is hoping he doesn't have to do the same. In other words, this would be one time Bradley wouldn't mind having an early tee time on Sunday.


-- The New England Patriots will use an illegally deflated ball in the Super Bowl: 1 million-to-1 odds

Related: The top 25 golf viral videos in 2014

-- Tiger Woods' first round at the Masters will be higher than Julian Edelman's receiving yards total in the Super Bowl: 12-to-10 odds (actual odds of actual prop bet)

-- Keegan Bradley isn't giving his Super Bow tickets away: LOCK


Just go through 11-year-old Matty Duplessis' Instagram feed and pick. Let's just say he looked like he enjoyed his first trip to the PGA Merchandise Show:



Bubba Watson's latest mini-golf antics include a shirtless celebration.

Bubba, we double dare you to do that at Augusta.


Ah, the troubles with multi-course tournaments. And Sergio Garcia's fiancee, Katharina Boehm, needs help finding a protein shake that tastes good:

The struggle is real, folks.


"Being famous on Instagram is like being rich in Monopoly." -- Alicia Carriles, wife of Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. We're not sure if her fellow golf WAGs would all agree, but well said, Alicia.


One Mission.

A photo posted by Russell Wilson (@dangerusswilson) on

That's right, Russell! You've got to GRIND! Thanks for sharing. Like the rest of the civilized world outside of New England, we'll be rooting for you in the Super Bowl.



We are thrilled our favorite golf couple had their first baby, but did the announcement have to come as the State of the Union address was about to start? And couldn't they have given us a bit of a heads up?!



Dustin Johnson announced he'll make his PGA Tour return at Torrey Pines exactly six months after he wasn't suspended by the tour for six months. Hmm. . . . Peter Oosterhuis is retiring from being a golf analyst on CBS. Don't worry, Peter Kostis and that Konica Minolta Bizhub swing camera aren't going anywhere. . . . Congrats to English sports reporter Cara Robinson for being the latest hire by Golf Channel for its "Morning Drive" program. Above is a photo of Robinson conducting an interview with two dog puppets at Wimbledon in the rain. Now that's talent.


Has the PGA Tour launched an investigation into Bill Belichick making the Pebble Beach Pro-Am cut in 2012?

Has any golfer earned more than $30 million more quietly than Bill Haas?

How many photos did Blair O'Neal pose for at the PGA Show?

-- Alex Myers is an Associate Editor for Feel free to email him and please follow him on Twitter since he has self-esteem issues.

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