by Kevin Sylvester, Buffalo Sports Page
No Name Champion? That was the Palm Beach Post Headline for Honda Classic Champion Keith Mitchell following his clutch victory at PGA National. Mitchell defied the stats and trends (had only made 2 all week outside of 15 feet, to drain a putt of that distance to avoid a playoff with Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka and win his first tournament. The paper was trying to be clever and perhaps follow the twitter comment from Mitchell where he stated that he could be called Kevin (Dan Hicks made that easy mistake and corrected himself on Saturday) as long as Keith was written on the check. The headline was at best a bad attempt at humor, but I think very disrespectful. The media’s job, especially a printed newspaper is to inform the public. This WAS the opportunity to let readers know just who Keith Mitchell is and headlines exist to make one want to read more. Instead, that headline translated to ‘some guy won the tournament, no need to learn who’. It’s really too bad, because Mitchell is a very nice kid, and he deserved better.
I like this new Brooks Koepka. If you haven’t been following along this season, The 3 time Major champion has been excellent and outspoken during interviews, and has given fans more access via social media. Some of the videos he’s appeared in are funny or eye popping with his gym prowess. It’s a 180 from what seemed to be a quiet and reserved player. He has said that we’re seeing the real Brooks now and he will not be afraid to voice his opinions going forward.
-Tiger Woods has withdrawn from this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitation due to a neck strain. He hopes to be back for The Players next week, but did not make any promises. I did not see any signs of any discomfort when I followed Woods at the Mexico Championship, just fatigue. I don’t doubt there’s something there, and hope it get’s fixed soon because the buzz is different when Tiger’s in play.
-I do like the new schedule on the PGA Tour even though we haven’t gotten to The Players Championship yet. The 5th Major is next week and will begin what I think will be a “time flies” season on the PGA Tour. It’s going to go fast with a each month through August containing a Major or marquee tournament. What will be interesting is to see how players approach the week before the Majors. Phil Mickelson stated that he may not play any of the weeks before the Majors this year because of the schedule change and the courses that will be played prior to the Majors. He didn’t feel TPC San Antonio (Valero) was the right fit before the Masters as far as conditions, and the same with Hamilton CC (Canadian Open) prior to the US Open. The 3M is prior to the Open Championship and will be a new venue in Minnesota, but he usually plays the Scottish Open anyway. It will be interesting to see how many players follow suit.
-The new rules have caused quite a bit of controversy already with penalties being handed down. Here’s my brief take on the rules: Rules are rules and it’s vital that all players and caddies learn the rules or ask if they don’t know. I also think the turbulence was expected and things will be adjusted going forward. The governing bodies need to see how the adjustments are impacting the game before they change things back or again. The one rule that is garnering the most attention is the caddie alignment rule, and I do think that needs to be adjusted.
-Hang in there WNY golfers, this stuff will melt and we’ll be on the courses soon! In the meantime, make sure you sign up to be a Tee 2 Green Club Member. You’ll get a weekly newsletter from the Tee 2 Green Hosts and be eligible to win some great golf prizes all season long. More details can be found on the website (tee2green.golf) or during the radio show Saturday mornings on WGR 550 AM from 7-8 AM.