Phil, Strix and Pebble Beach in This Week's Top 10

Kathy BissellCorrespondent IJanuary 11, 2012

Phil, Strix and Pebble Beach in This Week's Top 10

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    Ah yes, the PGA Tour has finally returned, and last week was the beginning of two weeks of prime-time golf from Hawaii.  So ignore those reruns on the regular channels and flip over to the golf telecast for whales breeching, waves crashing and surfers throwing caution to the wind. 

    The scenery was tough on golfers this week, too, whether on or off the course. Lucas Glover injured an ankle paddle boarding, and Paul Casey injured his shoulder while snowboarding. This is reminiscent of the 1980s and 1990s when the favorite thing for Tour players was driving race cars and skiing. 

    Media types would say to the golfers, no no, no, you guys have it backwards. Take a cue from skiers and race car drivers. They like to play golf. Pick a safe hobby. Well, at least Rickie Fowler has given up the bikes.   

10. Downhill Golf Rules

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    Jack Nicklaus has said that golf is best played downhill. No place, it seems, has more downhill golf than Kapalua’s Plantation Course, where the slopes make short work of 500 and 600-yard holes, at least for the pros.    

9. Phil Mickelson Enters Humana/Clinton, Aka Bob Hope

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    According to Mickelson, a former champion of the event, he received a letter of invitation from former President Clinton.

    “I'm honored to join President Clinton and the Clinton Foundation for the Humana Challenge,” said Mickelson in a statement released by the Foundation.

    “I admire President Clinton and the charitable work of his Foundation, which helps millions of people around the word, and I applaud him for joining Humana in using the tournament to help promote health and wellness. Some of my best seasons have come after starting at this event, and I'm really excited about coming back again."

    Arnold Palmer once commented that any time a president takes an interest in your sport, it’s an honor.

8. Great Shite Shark Enters Humana/Clinton

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    The charisma factor is way up at what was once Bob Hope's tournament with former President Clinton and Greg Norman both in attendance. 

    “After a conversation with President Clinton and also with my good friend (and La Quinta resident) Scott McCarron's encouragement, I'm all too happy to support President Clinton's commitment to the Humana Challenge and his Foundation,” Norman said in a statement released to the Desert Sun.  

    “I'm confident with the recent changes to the tournament's sponsorship and format, and with the support President Clinton will give, this event, which has been one of the most iconic tournaments for decades, will once again establish itself as one of the tournaments to play in.”

    It is only Norman’s second appearance at the tournament, mainly because in winter, when he was an active PGA Tour member, he was playing and supporting Australian Tour events. He would typically make his annual US debut in at Doral. The release did not mention the time that Clinton visited Norman in Florida, tripped on a step and tore a tendon in his knee.

7. Justin Timberlake Picks the Coolest

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    According to Justin Timberlake, the coolest guys he has played golf with are Arnold Palmer and Fred Couples. Timberlake may be a little late to their fan clubs, but at least he now has something in common with most of the rest of us. 

6. The Bad Thing About Long Putters

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    According to NBC’s Mark Rolfing, the bad thing about long putters is that they are hard to throw. 

5. Roll Time Overtakes Hang Time

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    Forget hang time.The finishing holes at Kapalua have power roll slots, so much so that The Golf Channel invented “roll time.” Some tee shots rolled for 30 seconds after hitting the fairway.

4. Pebble Shrinks Field

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    It’s speculated that the reason Tiger Woods committed for the AT&T Pebble Beach tournament is that the field has been reduced in size, potentially leading to shorter rounds.  Potentially. Don’t hold your breath. There’s probably more to it than that. 

    Woods may have a new sponsor who wants to play in the tournament, and so once we see who he plays with, we will truly have the answer to why he decided to enter.  Poppy Hills, which was often criticized for its undulating greens, was replaced with the Shore Course at Monterey CC a couple years ago. 

3. Chubby Calls the Players Best After the Majors

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    In a turnaround move, sports agent Chubby Chandler said that The Players is the next most important tournament this year after the major championships.  

    His reason? Lee Westwood is playing in it this year. He said it was much farther down the list last year because Westwood wasn’t playing. 

    He smiled as he said it. Welcome to Chubby humor. 

    Chandler also said the US was growing on him. He got a Tom Tom so he wouldn't get lost as often.   

2. Hank Haney’s Book Headed for Bestseller List

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    Well, it will at least get a ton of attention. Haney has written about his six years coaching Tiger Woods. While it’s doubtful that there will be anything scandalous in it, there will likely be great behind the scenes information on what it was like to remake the swing of the world’s former No. 1.

    Anybody who can help Rush Limbaugh, Ray Romano, Charles Barkley and Tiger Woods in the same 10-year span without going completely nuts must have a great story to tell.  

1. Deer Hunting Replaces Offseason Golf Practice

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    Hyundai champ Steve Stricker loves the fall and winter in Wisconsin because he hunts deer.  Just as his offseason practice is done the hard way—out of a heated trailer in the Wisconsin winter—his hunting is done the hard way—with bow and arrow.

    He got involved with hunting through his wife’s family. They are so into it, his father-in-law created a special camo deer hunting cart. According to Stricker in Golf Digest, he’s better with a bow and arrow than with a wedge.

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