The Daily Flogging: SBS notes, Ryan Moore's chipping lesson, Harrington's plans and more
The Flogging is a smorgasbord of news, opinion and occasional grass clippings from around the wide world of golf. Here's what you've been missing, you lucky bastards… The SBS Championship, the artist formerly known as the winners-only Mercedes Championship, kicked off a new season of golf for American TV viewers. Once Thursday's action started, we could put a cork in the Tiger Woods talk and actually check out some fresh golf. Be honest -- who thought we'd start 2010 being sick and tired of hearing about Tiger? Geoff Ogilvy won for the second straight year. He survived a 10-birdie charge by Rory Sabbatini (remember him?) and blew past U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover, who stumbled badly on the weekend, and Sean O'Hair, who finished poorly with a snipe-hook into the jungle. Ogilvy is 46 under par in his successive victories at the season's lid-lifter.
Give this opener an A-minus for the Hawaiian ocean views, if nothing else, since North America is locked down in icicle mode. Plus, the first two weeks of the season, when golf is shown in prime time on Golf Channel, are two of the most enjoyable weeks of the year. You work or play golf during the day, watch golf on TV at night. It's a beautiful thing.
Lorne Rubinstein states the obvious in the Toronto Globe & Mail (and sometimes the obvious needs stating) that hey, these Aussies are really good: "The more anybody is around professional golf, the more impressive is the contribution that Australians have made to the win column." A long line of champions from Down Under pre-dates even Greg Norman, Rubinstein points out, giving mention to Peter Thomson, David Graham, Jan Stephenson and the oft-overlooked Kel Nagle. This is not Earth-shattering stuff but it bears repeating that per capita, Australia may be golf's finest proving ground. (Sorry, Fiji.)
Will this win launch Ogilvy to No. 2 or No.1 in the world and make him a consistent threat in the majors? A lot of observers believe Ogilvy could get there, but he's teased us before. Maybe the this-could-be-the-start-of-something-big column will be the Tuesday follow-up. Larry Dorman in The New York Times picked up on Ogilvy's comments on why he and fellow Aussie Stuart Appleby, who won three straight times at Kapalaua, may have a home-course advantage. "You rarely shoot straight at the pins in Australia, much the same as here," Ogilvy said. "Much of the time you use the slopes to work the ball toward the hole. I feel like now I may have figured it out."
Here's something else that could be potentially significant. Ryan Moore, the former amateur superstar, got out of the blocks fast at Kapalua. And there's a reason for that, according to Rich Lerner on GolfChannel.com. Moore brought in a former Nevada-Las Vegas teammate, Troy Denton, to work on his short game and push him. Moore finished seventh, eighth and third in his first three tournaments last fall after they got together. The information that can help you? "We were doing lots of chipping drills. He just wore me out, especially with one-handed, left-hand only drills… It got me balanced and centered over the ball. Things clicked, started making sense." There's your lesson for the day: lead your chips with your left hand. I'll invoice you later. This could be the year that Moore starts to fulfill his potential. Make a fantasy league note. The best read of the day is Karl McGinty's piece in the Belfast Telegraph that lets us in on what Padraig Harrington is up to:
The new year has brought with it the rich promise of adventure. Even the venues for this season's four Major Championships have a magical ring to them. Augusta National, Pebble Beach, St Andrews and Whistling Straits! Brace yourselves for some real swashbuckling action from these Three Musketeers and their young sidekick d'Artagnan.Pardon me while I quit laughing, but John Daly is ticked off that he didn't get a free pass into the Bob Hope Classic. Let's see if I've got this straight. Daly gets fired by the best teacher in the biz, Butch Harmon, because he lacks a work ethic and then blames Harmon for the ensuing bad P.R. He's played bad golf for a handful of years now, is no longer exempt, hasn't contended anywhere for anything and is usually in headlines for all the wrong reasons, and he's still looking for a handout? "That was kind of a shocker," Daly told the Associated Press. "I felt like I brought a lot of celebrity friends to that tournament. That was kind of a slap in the face. I supported that tournament for all those years… This is a year I really need favors from a lot of tournaments. I need some loving this year. That's why I used to do all this stuff for the tournaments. It was always in my mind that I might need some help someday." Memo to Daly: You want to play on the PGA Tour, try the qualifying tournament like every other real golfer. David Duval, a former No. 1, got an exemption at the Hope. He wasn't too big to try Q-school, even though he came up short. Yogi Berra finally got a promotion. The baseball Hall of Famer played in the last 15 Bob Hope Classics as an amateur partner. This month, he'll move up to the role of Classic ambassador. You know what that job entails, right? Neither does Yogi. "I don't know what I'm going to do," Berra told Larry Bohannan of The Desert Sun. "I can hit that first ball, I know that." I hope the old catcher isn't too busy trying to figure out what he's supposed to be doing to do what he's supposed to be doing, especially if he isn't doing it. (Trust me, Yogi understands that sentence.) Where's Waldo? (Our new code name for Tiger Woods.) No one knows. Incredibly, not even the paparazzi. Or Tiger's ex-coach, Butch Harmon. But Butch has his opinion about what's next for Woods, as reported by The Observer: "The golfing public would like to see Tiger Woods do a press conference. To stand there in front of everybody, take his medicine, be humble, be embarrassed, be humiliated, and answer the questions. But where the hell is he? We could find Osama bin Laden easier than we can find Tiger Woods. How long can you spend on a yacht in the middle of the ocean?... Will he play before The Masters? I think that's the biggest question. I happen to think he will. I have nothing to base that on other than the fact that I know how much he loves to play golf… You look at where the major venues are this year, two of his favorite venues are Pebble Beach and the Old Course at St Andrews. I think he will play in those. But, if he's not ready to win, you won't see him playing golf. He's the strongest person, mentally, that's ever played our game. If there's anyone who can block out this extra stuff that's going on around him, he's probably the guy. The difficult part, in my opinion, is going to be the heckling from the galleries. He's going to get it. If he plays in the Ryder Cup, which I happen to think he will, that's going to be very interesting." Your news from the real world tour, otherwise known as the European Tour: Charl Schwartzel bogeyed the final hole but still won the African Open. Oops, the American readers have already moved on. Who's dying to be the next Nathan Green? OK, nobody we know. Growing up in Australia, Green worked in the family business -- a crematorium. In the Maui News, Green talked about his original day job. "I was pretty useless at that. It was sort of a tough business. You're generally dealing with people who aren't in the best moods or frames of mind." But Green earned enough money at the job to help afford the cost of amateur golf. Now he's a PGA Tour winner. "Luckily, I ended up doing this. Which is good fun." That's two sentences you'll never hear from a worker at a crematorium. It was team match play. It went to the final hole of the final match. Europe wins again. Hold on, the story isn't that familiar, people. This was Europe beating Asia in the Royal Trophy in Thailand, led by player-captain Colin Montgomerie. That's right, Monty already has an edge over American Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin because he's already got experience in the captain's chair, thanks to this. The Euros won the match, 8.5-7.5, when Henrik Stenson sank a six-foot putt for the win. Montgomerie, filling in for the ill Seve Ballesteros as captain, came from behind to salvage a crucial halve in his singles match. "It was a good start for European golf in a very important year," Monty told Reuters. Earlier in the event, Monty lost a singles match to Japanese teen star Ryo Ishikawa.PGA Tour Confidential: SBS Championship, golf's image problem and more(Kohjiro Kinno/SI (Ogilvy); Robert Beck/SI (Daly))
Harrington might not have won on Tour since that famous Sunday afternoon at the US PGA Championship in Oakland Hills, when he captured his third Major title in 13 months, but his confidence and ambition have not been dented by the travails of 2009.
Quite the opposite. The Dubliner (38) is determined to convert the ring craft and experience he has gained into further Major Championship history, with the completion of a career Grand Slam especially prominent on his wish list. Just five players in history, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, have won all four Major titles, and Harrington admits he's inspired by the thought of becoming the first European to join that exclusive club.
"Yes, I do think of winning a career Grand Slam. It's definitely a motivating thing," he admits, adding with a gleam in his eye: "So is the yearly Grand Slam!"
Seriously, Padraig? "Yeah, why not," he replies with a shrug. "Everything is possible. Every day I go and hit a practice shot, I hope it's the day I find the secret (of the perfect golf swing) and I don't mind saying it.
"I saw an interview with Arnold Palmer when he was 70, coming off the course after a Seniors Tour event, and he told the world he believed he'd found the secret that day. I laughed and though 'that'll be me. I'll be just like that in another 40 years'."