Posted on: May 11, 2011 9:16 am
Edited on: May 11, 2011 11:16 am

Woods camp fires back over Bubba critique

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Looks like you can’t make fun of Tiger Woods with impunity anymore.

Bubba Watson, who once played dozens of practice rounds with Woods and still considers him a friend, raised eyebrows last week when he said the fading former world No. 1 is going down the wrong road with his myriad swing changes.

For months, players have offered unbridled and honest opinions of Woods -- a topic  that had them walking on eggshells for 15 years, lest they draw his ire -- but Woods and his camp began fighting back this week at the Players Championship.

On an Irish radio show, Woods' new swing coach Sean Foley quickly mounted a counter-assault when asked about the comments from Watson, who has three victories since last fall to climb to No. 11 in the rankings. Appearing on a Dublin talk show to promote his instructional DVD, Foley fired a sarcastic fastball at Watson's noggin. The comments were first reported on the Irish Golf Desk website.

“He has the right to his own opinion but you probably shouldn’t make comments about a guy who has won 69 more times than you and you are virtually the same age," Foley was quoted as saying. "You know what I mean?”

More excerpts from the Canadian coach: "I would just say, 'Bud, you won three times the last 10 months, I am really pleased for you. You have worked hard and I think it is a great thing that you are playing so well. But why do you feel the need that you have to get the attention? What’s the use in making that comment?"

Foley then took a personal shot at Watson, characterizing him as a publicity hound.

“Let the guy do what he’s doing and you do what you’re doing and it will be fine," Foley said. "There is absolutely zero need for him to make that comment. But you know, Bubba loves the camera anyway so, I mean, whatever.”

Watson already realized the nature of last week's off-the-cuff comments about Woods -- he was never asked about Tiger directly before offering the opinion that Woods is too wrapped up in the mental side of the game and swing changes -- long before he arrived at the Players Championship this week.

"I'll just go ahead and say it," Watson said at the Wells Fargo Championship last week. "I think Tiger is going the wrong way. I think he's so mental right now with his swing. Just go out there and play golf. He used to hit shots, used to bomb it, used to do all that stuff. In 2000 and '97 I think he did pretty good. He won the Masters by 48 shots or whatever he won it by. But I think sometimes he gets carried away on that. And a lot of guys do."

On Tuesday at TPC Sawgrass, Watson said he had spoken with Woods' management about the comments to make sure he hadn't napalmed his bridge with Tiger, who dropped to No. 8 in the world this week.

"I just talked to his agent, and I talked to another person in his camp last week and told them that I didn't say anything wrong. I just said my opinion, and the media runs with it," Watson said.

For context, his Woods comments last week were the result of a query about Sean O'Hair and Foley splitting. Watson has never used a swing coach.

"I just told him [his management] that, look, you know me. I'm good friends with you," Watson said. "I've been a supporter of you the whole time I've been a pro and have known you. So I'm here for you, but I didn't do anything wrong.

"So yeah, the camp says I'm okay, but I haven't talked to the boss yet."

Woods was not doing cartwheels about the comments when he arrived at the Players Championship on Tuesday, and not just because he has a sore knee.

"That was interesting," Woods said tersely when the comments were broached.

Rest assured that the two will speak in person, Woods said.

"We'll talk," Woods said curtly.

Click here for more of the transcript from the Foley radio interview.

Posted on: February 26, 2011 2:59 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2011 3:03 pm

Holmes finds familiar taste of defeat in desert

MARANA, Ariz. -- Unfortunately, J.B. Holmes has been here, done that.

Almost to the letter.

In 2008, he was also the lowest-seeded player in the Accenture Match Play field outside Tucson, so he drew world No. 1 Tiger Woods in his opening match and jumped to a 3-up lead with five to play. Woods, in one of the most memorable rallies of his career, reeled in Holmes and won.

However, Saturday's defeat is going to leave an even bigger mark.

Holmes all but destroyed quarterfinal foe Bubba Watson on the front nine at Dove Mountain, jumping to a 5-up lead after 10 holes, but collapsed in the cactus on the back nine and ultimately lost on the 19th hole in the most prominent weekend meltdown in the tournament's 12-year history.

Holmes, who had been on a terrific run after making the field the day before the event was staged thanks to the withdrawal of two other players, had repeated chances to put Watson away, but spent most of the final two hours of the match meandering through creosote, cholla and other prickly desert plants.

"You've gotta play all 18 holes," Holmes said. "I didn't finish it off."

The last hole of regulation and first hole of overtime took about an hour to complete, as Holmes needed three rulings after hitting shots into the rock-strewn desert.

Holmes conceded the 11th and 14th holes, though he was still comfortably ahead, 2 up. Watson had birdies on Nos. 13 and 1. Suddenly, Holmes was just trying to keep his head above water.

Meanwhile, Watson's caddie Ted Scott was trying to pump up his boss, who seemed as dead as desert carrion about two hours after the match started.

"My caddie kept saying, 'You're playing great, you're playing great all week," Watson said. "Just keep doing your thing. If he beats you, he beats you.  If you make birdie and he beats you, what can you do?'"

Even on the 19th hole, after Watson had sent his tee ball into the desert and Holmes had an opening, he sent another ball sideways into the gunch and had to take an unplayable-lie penalty. Watson won the hole and the match with a par.

Holmes tried to put a happy spin on the week, which began with him kicking back in Orlando, thinking he was getting a few days off.

"It's golf, it happens," Holmes said. "I'll take it as a good week but obviously I'm disappointed by the finish."

Category: Golf
Posted on: February 26, 2011 10:12 am

Watson pumps out bombs, barbs

MARANA, Ariz. -- Bubba Watson is one of the edgiest players in the game, a guy who talks a mile a minute and has a million things careening through his noggin at any given time.

David Feherty once called him, "jumpier than a box of frogs."

So when Watson arrived on the driving range Saturday at dawn before his quarterfinal match in the Accenture Match Play Championship, already talking like he'd ingested a gallon of java for breakfast, it was no surprise at all.

Shooting the breeze freely with fourth-round foe J.B. Holmes, Watson was certainly in rare form as he and Holmes bashed practice balls into the cactus situated at the far end of the Dove Mountain range. For instance, when world No. 2 Martin Kaymer wandered past on the way to the tee for his quarterfinal match, Watson noticed that the Germanator was wearing a scarf around his neck. 

"Is that to keep you cool out there," Watson teased.

"Maybe he pulls it up around his nose," Watson's caddie, Ted Scott, said.

It might prove useful in a sandstorm, it was noted. High winds are in the Saturday forecast.

"I think they give you one of those when you play Abu Dhabi," Watson cracked.

Somehow, Watson ended up talking about the Blue Angels, which are based near where he's from in the Florida Panhandle. He noted that he was given a flight suit by a high school friend who had seen active duty in Iraq.

"I put it on," Watson said. "But he's a midget, so ...."

Watson noted that he stitched put his own surname on the flight suit.

"It's game-used," he cracked. "So it's more valuable that way."

Category: Golf
Posted on: February 25, 2011 6:24 pm

Big boppers Holmes, Watson draw eyeballs, gasps

MARANA, Ariz. -- Those planning on attending the Accenture Match Play Championship on Saturday better pack more than just sunscreen in order to enjoy the day to maximal effect.

Bring your laser rangefinders, too.

While the majority of the biggest names have exited, the biggest hitters have not.

In fact, if what almost certainly will draw the biggest crowds of the day, Bubba Watson and J.B. Holmes will meet in the quarterfinals Saturday.

They rank first and third in driving distance, averaging over 310 yards a bop off the tee.

"It should be fun," Holmes said. "We both move it out there pretty good."

Uh, yeah.

Holmes reached a par-5 this week with a driver and 8-iron, and Watson eagled a par-5 on Friday when he hit a 286-yard 3-iron. Holes laughed when it was playfully asked whether they might get sidetracked by an adrenaline showdown.

"I think we're both past that at this point in our careers," Holmes said. "Maybe when we were 16."

For those who understand the technical side, Holmes (125.3) and Watson (123.8) rank first and second in clubhead speed, well in excess of the tour average.
Category: Golf
Posted on: February 25, 2011 3:52 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2011 5:22 pm

Why bombers own the world (and we are renters)

MARANA, Ariz. -- In terms of the best shots of the week, they must be running 1-2 or pretty close to it.

Having already hit one of the most memorable blows of the year when he hit a scorching slice onto the 18th green at Kapalua with a driver from the fairway, Bubba Watson authored another indelible shot Friday at the Accenture Match Play Championship.

Starrting to pull away from two-time Accenture winner Geoff Ogilvy, Watson hit a scorching 3-iron from 286 yards on the par-5 11th that scooted to within 15 feet for what was eventually a conceded eagle and a 3-up lead.

Fellow ball masher J.B. Holmes hit an equally impressive nuclear approach with an iron from the rock-strewn desert at the par-5 second hole. A 347-yard drive left him with 206 to the green, but there was a small desert plant directly behind his ball.

Holmes and his caddie Brandan Parsons tried for several minutes to figure out which direction the ball might go, since clean contact was going to be difficult. They decided to take dead aim and Holmes blew the ball through a creosote bush and to within 34 feet, where he made an easy birdie.

"When in doubt, play it straight," Holmes laughed as he walked to the green.

With the dry desert air and mountains -- the course is set at an estimated 2,500 feet in elevation -- the bashers are really having fun.
Category: Golf
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