Notebook: The curious case of Bubba & Horan’s new directionFebruary, 2016 News & Tour
A round-up of the stories of the past week
Bubba’s course review – “I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all”
Ask Bubba a simple question and you generally get a simple (of sorts) answer.
Ahead of the Waste Management Phoenix Open the two-time Masters champion, a runner-up here in the last two years, was asked ’Why do you like the golf course?’
The answer: “I don’t like it. I’m not going to PC it. I don’t like it at all. I just mentioned why I’m here. I’ve got three beautiful sponsors that love it here.”
The left-hander, who is sponsored byPing, Stance Socks and Oakley, supposedly isn’t a fan of the changes made to the course by Tom Weiskopf.
He was booed on Thursday when he played the famous 16th and promptly made birdie.
Later in the week he backtracked, insisting the words that came out of his mouth didn’t reflect what was happening in his head.
“I used the wrong words. I have nothing against the fans and the tournament. The fans have been great. I love coming here. I’ve lived here every winter for eight years. This is a beautiful place. And the reason why I’m here is because of the excitement around this golf tournament.
“I used words that I shouldn’t have used,” he added. “I didn’t explain myself well. My wife says that, too, when I go home. I don’t communicate very well.”
NB: On the Saturday in Phoenix 201,003 people walked through the gates. The previous one-day record was 189,722 set in 2014. Other than the Indy 500, where 385,000 fans attended, this was the highest-attended day at an American sporting event.
New direction for Horan
Watch out Chubby Chandler and IMG, there’s a new sheriff in town.
Niall Horan, yes that Niall Horan (the blond one from One Direction), wants to have a go at player management.
He is supposedly a 12-handicapper and caddied for Rory McIlroy at Augusta’s Par 3 contest, and now he as set up Modest Golf Management while the ’band’ is taking a break.
The company has brought on board Mark McDonnell, a former account manager with TaylorMade, and will look to unearth some talent with Great Britain and Ireland.
Gimmegate pair reunited
The organisers of the Coates Golf Championship had a bit of fun with the opening threeballs when they put together Suzann Pettersen and Alison Lee, five months after the infamous ’Gimmegate’ incident at the Solheim Cup.
All went fine on the course but there was blood spilt before they teed off. Lee had a sudden nose bleed as she was getting ready on the putting green and it only just stopped before she got her round underway.
As for the scores Lee shot a level-par 72, Pettersen 73 and Lewis 74.
Pettersen played down the hype, saying afterwards: “I felt very comfortable out there. Enjoyed the company. We are all pretty good friends. What happened back five months ago, I can barely remember.
“I think you guys are the ones thinking about it. First of all, we’ve played a hundred rounds since what happened. I think we all squared up pretty good and moved on. I think it’s taking too much attention away from the golf. So, it’s time to move on.”
The American’s mother put it down to her exams, Lee had her mid-term exams at the time.
“I think it’s all the stress,” Mrs Lee said.
Meet The Girls: Alison Lee
Bradley clubs up in Phoenix
There were shades of Ian Woosnam (not really but you know what I mean) when Keegan Bradley was penalized two shots for carrying a 15th club.
The American made what he thought was a par on the opening hole when he discovered that he still had both his 3-iron and hybrid in the bag. His four turned into a six.
The penalty for carrying too many clubs is two strokes per hole, up to a maximum of four strokes.
“I don’t know what we missed to not catch that,” said Bradley who signed for a 68 instead of 66. “It sucks.”
"I didn’t explain myself well. My wife says that, too, when I go home. I don’t communicate very well" – Bubba Watson Mrs Forman’s still standing
Anyone who has played the Old Course on Musselburgh Links, recognized as the oldest course in the world, will be familiar with Mrs Forman’s bar which sits behind the 4th green.
Old Tom Morris and Willie Park senior are all thought to have dined here and it was a popular haunt for players and spectators when the Open was played here in the 1870s and 80s. It staged the Championship six times in total.
Last year the site was sold by Punch Taverns to an Edinburgh-based property firm and it was going to be demolished to make way for new housing.
But now the pub, which has stood on Ravensheugh Road since 1822 and was named after its landlady, will remain standing and will likely be converted into a private house.
Robot makes one
The week at No 16 at TPC Scottsdale got off to a flying start when a robot, named Eldrick after Tiger, made a hole in one.
On ’his’ fifth attempt he knocked it in and the trademark celebrations of showering the green in beer could begin. The player remained unmoved and was struggled to put into words how he felt.
Westwood hoping for better things
When Lee Westwood finished second in Thailand just before Christmas it helped him to qualify for both the Masters and Open Championship. The Augusta spot was earned courtesy of finishing the year in the world’s top 50, one week before and one week after he was in 51st place.
A season to forget had finished on a high and, though 2016 has got off to a poor start with missed cuts in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, he is hopeful of a brighter year ahead.
In an interview with ESPN he said: “I’m going through a divorce and found it nearly impossible to concentrate on golf, so I understand what happened in terms of my results last year. How I played didn’t really concern me, but now I’m back living in the UK permanently and trying to factor in when I see my kids and which events I play around that.
“I just want to get some consistency back in game and start to enjoy it again and being able to concentrate on what I’m trying to do.”
As for the passing of time Westwood, now 42, doesn’t see that being a problem.
“I don’t regard age as a factor these days. In our sport, as long as you keep yourself in shape, you can play good golf for as long as you want. I haven’t lost the appetite or the competitiveness. I don’t want bad knees, bad hips and joint pains in a few years’ time. That’s as good a reason to work out now but I think it’s more in the mind than the golf.”
Caddy legend Renwick passes away
One of the European Tour’s most recognizable faces Dave ’Buddy’ Renwick died this week after a battle with cancer.
The 62-year-old Scot caddied for three different Major winners, a claim only Dave Musgrove could also make.
Renwick was on the bag for Jose Maria Olazabal (1994 Masters), Steve Elkington (1995 PGA) and Vijay Singh (1998 PGA, 2000 Masters, 2004 PGA).
He split with Olazabal shortly after the win at Augusta, the Spaniard actually flew to Edinburgh in an unsuccessful attempt to change Renwick’s mind.
The Scot was then on Elkington’s bag when he beat Colin Montgomerie in a play-off but it was with Singh that he was most successful. The pair won nine times on the PGA Tour as the Fijian moved to No 1 in the world.