South Korea’s Kang ruins good recovery in Players
Kang Sunghoon was distraught after opening the Players
Championship with a 75 – not because of the score, but how he got
He opened with a quadruple-bogey 8, going long of the green into
an area of bushes and taking a couple of hacks to try to free his
ball. Ten holes later, Kang was 1-under par. But he finished with
four 5s on his card, including a ball in the water on the
island-green 17th hole for a double bogey.
”I’m right back to where I was after the first hole,” he said
to his caddie, Steve Hulka, as he walked in the tunnel of the
Not quite, but point taken.
It was an amazing comeback from an 8, and it was helped by an
unusual confidence boost from Hulka.
”We walked off the green and Steve said, `There’s a big
elephant, and we’re going to eat it one bit at a time,”’ Kang
On the par-5 second hole, Kang hit a 4-iron to 15 feet.
”I told him, `You just bit off the toe,”’ Hulka said. ”And
when he made the putt for eagle, I told him, `There goes the
Alas, the elephant returned by the end of the round, which
concluded with a three-putt bogey. Kang headed for the range,
trying to remember that there was some pretty good golf in the
middle of his round.
FALDO TALKS BACK: Tiger Woods was sarcastically dismissive of
comments from six-time major champion Nick Faldo that Woods has
lost his self-belief.
Faldo, an analyst for CBS Sports and Golf Channel, made the
remark in a conference call on Tuesday for The Players
Championship. Woods looked bemused and said he finds it interesting
to hear such comments because ”they’re not in my head.”
”They must have some kind of superpower I don’t know about,”
During the telecast on Thursday, Faldo defended his opinion
because of his experience.
”I hated it when analysts and commentators were saying, `He’s
thinking this. He’s thinking that,”’ Faldo said. ”But this
analyst here, I’ve walked the walk. I’ve been there and the bit I’m
trying to describe is self-belief. I’ve had self-belief when I was
playing my best and I also lost self-belief, and that’s obviously
when you get to the end of your career. I can generally recognize
when a player is on the range, striping it, which Tiger’s been
doing basically all season.
”But for a player, if you cannot walk from the practice ground
to the first tee … for me, he doesn’t have the self-belief he
SCHWARTZEL IN SOUTH AFRICA: Masters champion Bubba Watson
skipped The Players Championship to bond with his newly adopted
son. Dustin Johnson is recovering from a back injury. As for former
Masters champion Charl Schwartzel? His agent said he simply didn’t
want to come all the way from South Africa.
Chubby Chandler said Schwartzel faced a trip halfway around the
world to Florida, and then would have to go to Spain next week for
the World Match Play Championship. After that Schwartzel is playing
the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, then Memorial. After a week
off, he has the U.S. Open and then the Travelers Championship.
To be at Sawgrass would mean six tournaments in seven weeks and
an itinerary that went South Africa-U.S.-Spain-England-U.S.
SHRINKING FIELD: The 144-man field at The Players Championship
is shrinking even before the cut is made on Friday.
Five players withdrew from the opening round Thursday, and only
one of them (D.A. Points) did not start and was replaced in the
Angel Cabrera, who made a 9 on the par-3 17th, withdrew for
”personal reasons” after a 78. Simon Dyson withdrew with a bad
back after a 76. Hunter Haas only made it through three holes (he
already was 4-over par) when he stopped with a bad back. Paul Casey
withdrew with a shoulder injury after a 42 on the front nine. Casey
injured his shoulder snowboarding over the holidays and missed the
first two months of the season.
It was the second year in a row that a player withdrew after a
42 on the front nine. A year ago, that was Tiger Woods with a left
Achilles tendon. Odds are Casey will play again before August.
DIVOTS: No one has ever won back-to-back at The Players
Championship, a streak that looks to be intact after K.J. Choi
opened with a 75 and was 10 shots behind. … Gary Woodland,
playing for the first time since he withdrew after the third round
at the Masters with a wrist injury, opened with a 77. … Ryder Cup
captain Davis Love III shot 72.