Front 9-Edition 8

February 1, 2015 -

1. Tiger Woods made his highly anticipated return to the PGA Tour this week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, AZ. Playing his first PGA Tour event since missing the cut in last year’s PGA Championship, Woods probably wishes that he had stayed home. After opening with a 2-over par, 73, Woods carded a second round 82 to finish last in the field. The 82 is his highest ever score on Tour and up until now he had never suffered the ignominy of finishing last. Wood’s “new” swing is starting to look like his “old” (when he was coached by Butch Harmon) in that it is more rounded and he is creating a lot more width. This helps him generate club-head speed which he hasn’t had since 2008. But that can be the only positive for the game’s former dominant force. His ball striking was erratic but his short game was abysmal, witnessed by chunked chips, bladed bunker shots, and a flinch at impact that would have once been unthinkable (that will surely evoke the dreaded, “yips”, commentary).

2. 17-year-old Lydia Ko had a truly topsy-turvy day in the final round of the LPGA Season opening, Coates Championship. Ko had built a four shot lead early in the final round before a disastrous double bogey- 6 on the par 4-17th hole handed the tournament to South Korea’s Na Yeon Choi. Ko would finish tied for second with Jessica Korda and South Korean rookie, Ha-Na Jang at 15-under par for the week. All was not lost however, as Ko’s finish would see her ascend to the #1 position in the Rolex World rankings becoming the youngest player (male or female) in history to do so.

3. The current Men’s #1 ranked golfer, Rory McIlroy, cruised to a 3-stroke win at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic DUBAI, in United Arab Emirates. McIlroy tied the lowest tournament score in the history of the desert Classic with a 22-under par total. This is the second Desert Classic win for the Northern Irishman following his first coming in 2009 which was also his maiden victory on the European Tour. Further cementing his position as the world’s best golfer, the last seven events have seen McIlroy finish 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 1.

4. In an about to be released book covering the new breed of young PGA Tour players by author Shane Ryan, 24-year old star, Patrick Reed, is cast in a very unsavory light. According to Ryan, Reed was a conceited child prodigy who treated anyone with whom he competed with disdain and rudeness. Even more damning are the examples of cheating and stealing while Reed was at the University of Georgia about which the book documents several quotes from his teammates at the time.

5. Miguel Angel Jimenez won the first event of the year on the Champions Tour last weekend at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hualalai. The 51-year-old Spaniard (aka Golf’s Most Interesting Man) closed with a final round 6-under par 66 to beat Mark O’Meara by one. It was only Jimenez’s third start on the 50 and over Tour, but his second victory. Logic would suggest that Jimenez would dominate the Champions Tour if he were to play a regular schedule, but he is still very competitive on the European Tour and prefers to focus on those events.

6. The quote of the week comes from 21-year old Jordan Spieth who was paired with Tiger Woods for the first two days in Phoenix: “It was painful to watch, because you know his short game was once as good as anybody’s will ever be.” Ouch.

7. In South Korea it is mandatory for all men between the ages of 18-35 to do a 2 year military commitment. For 28 year old Sang-Moon Bae that has become a very big problem. Bae’s request to extend his overseas travel visa (which had expired at the end of last year) was denied by the Military Manpower Administration meaning that Bae would be required to report for duty in the coming months. Bae’s attorneys have filed an administrative suit on his behalf to delay his conscription, but there is a very real chance that Bae may have to report for duty. The 2-time Tour winner is currently the highest ranked South Korean player in the world and is 4th in FedEx Cup points.

8. Michelle Wie has gone yellow. Or volt as Nike calls the color (sure looks like yellow). Playing in the LPGA’s Coates Championship, Wie unveiled her new look by using Nike’s Vapor Speed driver and played a Nike RZN Black ball-both volt in color.

9. Another one of the seemingly endless young stars on the PGA Tour broke through for his first Tour win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open this weekend. 24-year old American, Brooks Koepka, made an eagle-3 on the par-5 15th hole and a clutch birdie on the 17th hole at the TPC of Scottsdale to prevail by one shot over Bubba Watson, Ryan Palmer and Hideki Matsuyama. Stardom is predicted for the long hitting Koepka who was the European Tour’s “Rookie of the Year” in 2014 and the winner of the Turkish Open. Koepka earned his 2015 PGA Tour card by virtue of a handful of wild card starts in 2014 in which he played superbly, headed by a fourth place finish in the U.S. Open. Koepka has been on our radar for a while http://www.birdgolf.com/year-early/ and we think that this win will be the first of many

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