Chip Shots: McGinley, Woods, McIlroy, Mickelson & Player
by Jeff Skinner
The European Tour did the right thing in naming Paul McGinley to captain the 2014 Ryder Cup. The Europeans have won four of the last five matches so why deviate from their usual selection method. They didn’t over react to the U.S. appointment of Hall of Famer Tom Watson and named McGinley who was next in line. In naming McGinley they also regained the slot they always flourish in: underdog. I know many will disagree but with the relatively unknown McGinley going up against the icon Watson the Euros have another rallying point to play the underdog card. And I am not the only crazy person that sees that…Gary Williams of the Golf Channel echoed the same sentiments this morning.
So Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy open the season side by side in Abu Dhabi wearing their matching Nike swooshes. Well, there looked to be a bit of rust on the two of them as Tiger actually topped a ball of the tee, yes topped it. He hit behind the ball and it travelled 150 yards well short of the fairway. Rory choose a duck hook for his biggest misstep of the day. His three wood went way left into the stands. Tiger finished the day with an even par 72 and Rory Stumbled to a three over 75. The odd man out in their group, a resurgent Martin Kaymer carded a one under 71 with no tops or duck hooks recorded.
Phil Mickelson starts his 22nd PGA Tour Season today at the Humana Challenge. Philly Mick is under the weather and battling the flu but this tournament may be just what the doctor ordered. Mickelson has two wins here, back when it was the Bob Hope and he thrives on the west coast: 18 of his 40 PGA Tour wins have come from the west coast swing. This could be a crossroads year for Lefty. He has been dealing with family health issues for a few years and his own arthritic condition seems to take a toll on him at times during the year. He’ll turn 43 on the final Sunday at this year’s U.S. Open. Maybe Phil could finally snag his first Open title on his birthday.
No one can ever say that Gary Player lacks enthusiasm. A day doesn’t go by that Player does not affect something in a very positive way. It was a smart move by Bill Clinton and the folks at the Humana Challenge to get the pioneer of physical fitness in golf to be involved with this tournament. Player,77 who still starts his day with 1,000 sit ups feels very strongly about the mission of this tournament. “This is probably the most important contract I’ve had,” Player said Wednesday, “because I’m now involved in saving peoples’ lives.” Like I said, you have to love his enthusiasm.