Front 9-Edition 15

April 23, 2017 -
  1. On Wednesday of last week, Tiger Woods had lower right back fusion surgery that will essentially end his 2017 season. Woods hopes that the procedure (his fourth back operation in the last 4 years) will put an end to the ongoing pain that has derailed him for the last several years. On his website woods stated that: “The surgery went well, and I’m optimistic this will relieve my back spasms and pain. When healed, I look forward to getting back to a normal life, playing with my kids, competing in professional golf and living without the pain I have been battling so long.” Woods’ long-time agent Mark Steinberg told ESPN that the procedure was “something dramatically different than he’s done in the past.” Woods will now be 42 years old if he returns to golf at the beginning of 2018 and one has to wonder if we will have the chance to see the 14-time Major Champion ever again inside the ropes.
  2. It took 180 starts on the PGA Tour and several heartbreaks, but 30-year American Kevin Chappell finally won his first tournament today at the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio. Chappell has been a very consistent money winner in his 7 years on the Tour and has been a runner-up 6 times before today’s breakthrough victory. Chappell began the day with the lead and shot an impressive, 4-under par 68, including a final hole birdie to best Brooks Koepka by a single shot.
  3. Earlier last week, World #1 Lydia Ko fired her caddie, Gary Matthews, after her runner-up finish in the Lotte Championship. Ko had a house cleaning at the end of the 2016 season when she changed coaches (leaving David Ledbetter), hired Matthews and changed her equipment. Ko has not been in the winner’s circle since making these wholesale changes and Matthews only lasted 9 events on her bag. Matthews is the ninth man to caddy for the 19-year old superstar in her career, and his early termination is a head scratcher. Matthews has looped professionally for 19 years and has caddied for a lot of great players, including Anthony Kim and Sergio Garcia. Matthews’ reaction was a fairly succinct: “I wish her the best, but she’s gone through so many caddies, she needs to wake up on caddie-player relationships. Otherwise she’ll just keep doing it.”
  4. The newly released movie, Tommy’s Honour, is a must see for all golfers and also movie and history buffs. Set in the late 1800’s at the home of golf, it is the story of two of the games early giants, Old and Young Tom Morris. The movie tells many stories, centered around the relationship between Morris Father and Son, but is also sweeping carriage of the game’s early professional roots and is supported by brilliant acting and sweeping cinematography.
  5. 31-year Austrian Bernd Wiesberger won the European Tour’s Shenzhen International with a birdie in the first hole of a playoff against England’s Tommy Fleetwood at Genzon Golf Club in China. Wiesberger had begun the day with a comfortable 3 shot lead before a hard charging Fleetwood closed with a 9-under par 63 from back in the pack to catch Wiesberger at 16-under par and force sudden death. The victory is Wiesberger’s fourth career title on the European Tour.
  6. With her 3-stroke win at last weekends’ Lotte Championship in Hawaii, 39-year old American star, Cristie Kerr crept ever so much closer to her goal of qualifying for the Hall of Fame. The Lotte win was the 19th of her career and gives her 21 points (a point is awarded for every LPGA Tour win and two for a Major; Kerr won the 2007 US Women’s Open and the 2010 Women’s PGA Championship) towards qualifying for Sports most difficult Hall. Kerr was contemplating retirement last year after a difficult knee surgery left her hobbling, but has enjoyed a resurgence of late with top-10 finishes at both the Kia Classic and the ANA Inspiration. At 39 Kerr is competing against girls almost half her age (the average age of Tour winners in 2016 was 22) but that only serves as further motivation for her to claim her ultimate goal.
  7. 2017 has not been a good year for English star, Ian Poulter. On April 2nd, and after 11 years, he closed down his apparel company IJP Designs because of a lack of sales. Poulter had also missed most of the 2016 PGA Tour season and was playing on a 1-time medical exemption in 2017. Playing in his 10th and final exempted event at the Valero Texas Open, the enigmatic Poulter shot rounds of 75 and 71 to miss the cut and lose his status on Tour, falling $30,624 short of what he needed to win in prizemoney. Poulter has a great many options to play including receiving sponsor’s exemptions for the remainder of the year in the US and playing in as many European Tour events as he would like, given his status there with 13 career wins.
  8. With the Solheim Cup only 4 months away there are two stalwarts of the past decade very much on the outside looking in in an attempt to qualify for the American side. Paula Creamer is 21st and Morgan Pressel 22nd in the standings to make the automatic top 8 in points for the US side. Creamer has played in the last six Solheim Cups, compiling a 14-8-5 record. While Pressel has been a member of the last 5 teams with a 10-7-2 record.  
  9. Rory McIlroy, 27 and Erica Stoll, 29 were married yesterday in a lavish ceremony at Ashford Castle in Ireland. Some of the golfers in attendance among the 200+ guests were Sergio Garcia, Shane Lowry, Paul McGinley, Padraig Harrington and Martin Kaymer. McIlroy and Stoll first met at the 2012 Ryder Cup (he was at the time engaged to tennis star Caroline Wozniacki) when Stoll arranged for a police escort to get McIlroy to his Sunday’s singles match at the Ryder Cup on time (Stoll worked for the PGA of America at the time).

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