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Bob Matthews' Column

TIGER WOODS HOPES TO TURN THE TABLES ON OAK HILL

 
TIGER WOODS HOPES TO TURN THE TABLES ON OAK HILL
Posted July 29th, 2013 @ 9:41am

TIGER WOODS HOPES TO TURN THE TABLES ON OAK HILL


PHILLY FANS WILL HAVE A CHANCE TO SHOW McNABB SOME CLASS


DEREK JETER ADDS TO HIS LEGEND


TRAVERS SHAPING UP AS HORSE RACE OF THE YEAR


Tiger Woods will be the Las Vegas favorite to win the PGA Championship at Oak Hill on August 11. That’s an automatic. But you probably won’t like the short odds if you recall how he played the course in the 2003 PGA Championship.


Oak Hill’s narrow fairways and thick trough chewed up Tiger for four days. He shot 74 on Thursday and never was in contention.  He shot 74-72-73-73 –292. It was only the third time in his 32 career majors that he shot over par in all four rounds. He tied for 39th, 12-over par and 16 strokes behind improbable champion Shaun Micheel, who hadn’t won a PGA Tour event before and hasn’t since.


To his credit, Tiger wasn’t critical of Oak Hill a decade ago.  Quite the contrary. He did say it was “a brutal test” and he that he was glad it was over, but he also said, “This is a very fair test. It’s right there in front of you. It’s just very difficult.”


Woods loves challenges and I’m sure he won’t be intimidated here next week. But he certainly won’t be overconfident.


OAK HILL TOUGH ON MANY MORE THAN TIGER


Woods has plenty of company in being frustrated by Oak Hill. Here are the number of players who broke par-70 (280) in the five majors at Oak Hill:


1956 U.S. Open –None...Winner Cary Middlecoff shot 281 to beat Julius Boros and Ben Hogan by 1 stroke


1968 U.S. Open – Two... Lee Trevino became the first U.S. Open winner to fire four rounds  in the 60s (69-68-69-69—275), but Jack Nicklaus was the only other player to break par (72-70-70-67—279).


1980 PGA Championship – One. Winner Jack Nicklaus toyed with Oak Hill, winning by a tournament-record 7 strokes with a 6-under par 274 (70-69-66-69). But his closest pursuers were over par:  Andy Bean (281) and Gil Morgan and Lon Hinkle (283).


1989 U.S. Open – Four. Curtis Strange won his second straight U.S, Open (and last of 17 career PGA Tour victories) with 278 (71-64-73-70—278). His 64 in the second round tied Ben Hogan’s course record set in the 1942 Times-Union Open).  The only other par-busters shot 279: Chip Beck, Mark McCumber and Ian Woosnam.


2003 PGA Championship – Three. Obscure Shaun Micheel won his first PGA Tour stop with a 4-under 276. Fred Campbell shot 278 and Timothy Clark 279...Micheel hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since.


EAGLES FANS WILL HAVE A CHANCE TO BOO McNABB AGAIN


The Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday announced that former Syracuse and NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb would officially retire Monday as a member of the Eagles.


McNabb will be honored at halftime of the Eagles game Sept. 19 against the Kansas City Chiefs, coached by former Eagles coach Andy Reid.


Many Philadelphia fans booed when the Eagles drafted McNabb  and often jeered him as a player.


McNabb is prepared for the worst Sept. 19. He told reporters, “If I get booed, it wouldn’t be anything new. If they cheer, that would be great. I’ll be out there with my family and the teammates I played with. If there are any boos, I will smile.”


It is difficult to imagine fans in any other city booing during retirement ceremonies for a pro athlete who performed as well as McNabb did in Philadelphia: 92-49-1 record...team records for completions (2,801), passing yards (32,873) and TD passes (216)...led team to five NFC championship games and Super Bowl XXXIX. Losing that game to New England might have cost McNabb any shot he had of being elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the everlasting respect and adoration from Philadelphia fans.


I wouldn’t count on McNabb being favorably received at his retirement ceremony. Too many mean-spirited sports fans in Philadelphia are proud of their collective reputation for being rude.


 JETER ADDS TO HIS LEGEND


Derek Jeter added to his legend Sunday with a home run in his first at-bat since a stint on the disabled and in his second game of the season and he’s one of my all-time favorite pro athletes, but I am not looking forward to his return as ‘The all-time oldest Yankees starting shortstop.” It must have been tough watching washed-up Phil Rizzuto playing out the string at 38. Jeter at 39 coming off a twice-broken ankle could be worse.


The New York Yankees will be among the worst Major League Baseball teams I’ve ever seen with a record above. 500 entering  August 1. They won’t be making a stretch run. Things can only get worse. I fully expect the Yankees to back off their plan to cut back on payroll for 2014. Empty seats and fading cable TV ratings must be addressed before they become the norm.


TRAVERS SHAPING UP AS A GREAT RACE


Add Verrazano to the prospective field for the Travers Stakes at Saratoga Saturday, Aug. 24. The “Mid-Summer Derby” figures to be horse racing’s biggest race so far this year and could determine Three-Year-Old of the year.


The Travers had been billed as a possible showdown between this year’s Triple Crown races:  Orb (Kentucky Derby), Oxbow (Preakness Stakes) and Palice Malice (Belmont Stakes).


Palice Malice won the Grade 2 $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes Saturday at Saratoga. He rallied from slightly off the pace set by Dwyer winner Moreno to beat Will Take Charge by one length. He paid $4.70 as the 6x5 favorite. He was 13x1 when he won the Belmont Stakes in his previous start.


Verrazano, a disappointing 14th in the Kentucky Derby after winning the Wood Memorial, won Sunday’s $1-million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park by 9 ¾ lengths as the favorite. Pace-setter Oxbow faded to fourth. After the race, trainer Todd Pletcher said “he’s as impressive as there is with the three-year-olds right now.” Pletcher said the Travers is a probability if all goes well.


Orb has been training at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., since finishing third in the Belmont Stakes. Trainer Shug McGaughey said Orb will ship to Saratoga in mid-August with the Travers in mind.


SHORT SHOTS


Suggestion to PGA Tour star Hunter Mahan and wife Kandi: the middle name of their infant child should be Canada. Unusual middle name, yes. But it would be very cool whenever the kid were asked why he or she had that middle name: “Dad was leading the 2013 Canadian Open by two strokes through two rounds but withdrew to be with my mother when she went into labor so he could see me being born.”


Baseball’s trade deadline is Wednesday and the best available starting pitcher is Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee. He could be the difference for several  World Series contenders but could any team afford him? His contract calls for $25 million in each of the 2014 and 20-15 seasons.  Add Lee and a healthy Matt Kemp to the roster and the Los Angeles Dodgers would be very tough to beat for the next few years.


Rochester Red Wings slugger Chris Colabello (his first two major-league HRs in his last three games) more than earned his latest promotion to Minnesota and no reasonable Red Wings fan should berate the move.  Rochester pitching ace Andrew Albers also deserves a promotion.


A reader/listener responds that he’d much prefer Robinson Cano over Dustin Pedroia short-term and long-term. But he did concede that a combination of the best of Cano (batting, power and grace) and Pedroia (hustle and steadier defense) would be a brilliant second baseman.


No wonder Tino Martinez was frustrated when he resigned Sunday  as batting coach of the Miami Marlins. The penny-pinching Marlins were last in the majors in batting average (.233), runs (325) and HRs (61).


Optimistic NFL fans in New York City are boasting that they have two chances to become the first city to host a Super Bowl. The Giants and Jets both call MetLife Stadium home, but the Jets have no chance to reach Super Bowl 48 and the Giants have only a slightly better chance.


If Seattle Seahawks multi-purpose weapon Percy Harvin’s hip injury is as serious as it appears, wouldn’t San Francisco become the obvious pick to win the NFC West?


Cheers to the U.S. men’s soccer team for beating Panama 1-0 to win the CONCACAF Gold Cup before almost 60,000 fans Sunday at Chicago’s Soldier Field. The U.S. men are second fiddle to the U.S. women’s team in the minds of most American non-soccer addicts, mainly because Abby Wambach and Co. have been more successful on the international stage. That really isn’t fair because the U.S.  is the world’s dominant power in women’s soccer while the U.S. men still are trying to close the gap against  tougher competition.  They’re making progress with a record 11-game winning streak.


I WILL BE ON VACATION THIS WEEK AND VERY BUSY WITH RADIO ASSIGNMENTS DURING PGA CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK. ...I’LL BE BACK ON LINE AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.THANK YOU FOR READING.

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