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Truth & Rumors: Kim hangs tough, the Road Hole expands and Sabbatini complains

Kim toughs it out It's no secret that Anthony Kim's been in pain over the last few weeks with a detached ligament in his left thumb that will eventually require surgery. It's also no secret that he's playing some fantastic golf, including a win at the Shell Houston Open and a T3 at the Masters. Kim will tee off again this week at Quail Hollow, but Hank Gola of the New York Daily News tells us the story behind Kim's eventual surgery and rehab.

"The doctor told me when the pain gets too hard to deal with, that's when I should do it. But as of now, he said it can't get any worse, so I guess that's a good thing. I'm just going to keep playing until I can't anymore."
Kim's doctor is also telling him he'll have to miss between two and three months, including rehab, so he's trying to figure out just when that break should occur. He's No. 3 on the PGA Tour money list and No. 10 in the world. He knows he's not going to be able to make it through the end of the season.
"I don't think I'm going to take that chance because I want to play in the Ryder Cup. ...That's a huge goal of mine," he said. "It was probably one of the greatest moments I've ever had (in 2008). I want to be healthy for that. I just want to time that right.
"But at the same time, I want to play in all the majors, too, so in golf, there's not really a good time to take time off."
I know it's going to sound sappy, but it makes me feel warm and fuzzy hearing Kim talk so emphatically about playing in the Ryder Cup. Ever since Robert Allenby called out the young Californian's fondness for celebration and referred to him as America's "loosest cannon" at the 2009 President's Cup, Kim has been a man on a mission: to prove that he not only loves golf, but that he loves competing for his country. Consider me convinced, and consider Allenby lucky he won't be playing for team Europe.  The long(er) and winding Road Hole Late last year, the Royal and Ancient began coyly suggesting that they would be making some key alterations to the links at St. Andrews in preparation for the British Open. They later confirmed that the most noteworthy modification would be a lengthening of the Old Course's famous "Road Hole." Ryan Ballaengee on the Waggle Room blog takes us through the changes:
As we first told you last October, the R&A had been plotting a forty yard extension of the hole by creating a new teeing ground across the hole's actual road namesake. At a press briefing today at St. Andrew's, Royal & Ancient chief Peter Dawson officially unveiled the new Road Hole at the Old Course.
The new tee, across the road, has been created in an effort to (a) force more players to hit driver off of the tee and (b) require a longer iron shot into the green, thus trying to make the deep pot bunker guarding the green and the actual road behind it more likely to come into play.
Dawson described the diminishing challenge by saying, "We don't see many players on the road these days, and that's because of the distance control they can achieve and the accuracy with these shorter iron clubs. What we're trying to do here is restore the hole to its previous challenge where the players are having to hit into the green with a much longer iron club than they have been in recent times."
The R&A can talk all they want about forcing "more players" to take certain shots, but this is the most clear example of Tiger-proofing since Augusta National hulked-up in 2001. That being said, it's hard to blame the Brits for trying to keep the Tiger at bay. He's won the last two Open Championships that were held at the Old Course, destroying golf's greatest natural treasure to the tune of -19 in 2000 and -14 in 2005. Wie's opportunity In what has become a rare optimistic take on the LPGA after Lorena Ochoa's surprise retirement last week, Jim Brighters of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer claims that there are good things to come for the ladies' Tour and for its most enigmatic star.
Just a few years after Annika Sorenstam walked away from the game, Lorena Ochoa followed suit.
When Sorenstam retired, she left the tour in the very capable hands of Ochoa. The Mexican star was already ranked No. 1 in the world, so Sorenstam's departure, while huge, was not catastrophic for the Tour.

But Ochoa will be gone by Sunday night, which means welcome to the Jiyai Shin era. OK, not really. Shin will assume the No. 1 ranking, but this tour now belongs to one person: Michelle Wie.
Remember a few years back when Wie was just using the LPGA Tour as a warm-up for the PGA Tour? She had won only one USGA amateur event, and only once threatened to make a cut on the PGA Tour, but oh yes, Wie was going to play with the big boys.
Now Wie owns the LPGA Tour, and will do it with just one tour victory.

This actually isn't that far from my reaction to the news in last week's roundup, that Ochoa's retirement is a huge opportunity for Michelle Wie. But Brighters takes a leap that I'm not willing to take...that Wie is actually ready to step into this spotlight. While she seemed to really turn a corner at last year's Solheim Cup, it's impossible to ignore Wie's inability to really come to terms with her past mistakes, something that became abundantly clear with the selective amnesia she showed when asked about pulling out of Annika's tournament in 2007 and the mixed signals about her wrist injury over the years. Frankly, I think she's grown up a ton in a very short period of time, and there's no denying that she has the chance to really do something special. But it seems like when Brighters looks at Wie, he sees a young Phil Mickelson...for the moment, I still see a young Sergio Garcia. Members Only Last, but assuredly not least, the always-awesome Stephanie Wei of "Wei Under Par" has tons of great info from last night's Player's Only meeting at Quail Hollow. An excerpt won't do it justice (just read the whole thing), but my favorite tidbit involves Rory Sabbatini. Rory was up to his trademark complaining, but this time it wasn't just about slow play (his personal crusade). Sabbatini also took golf commentators to task for being too dull, saying something along the lines of, “When I want to take a nap, I turn on the Golf Channel.” I'll tell you what I like about Sabbatini, he's no hypocrite: he plays fast, and he's never boring.

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by Kevin Cunningham