Michael Whitmer spins around the golf world with tidbits each week during the season:
Player of the week
Tiger Woods. He has been ranked No. 1 in the world before, and he has won Arnold Palmer’s tournament at Bay Hill before. Seven times before, in fact. Victory No. 8 tied him with Sam Snead for the most victories in a single PGA tournament; the Slammer’s feat was accomplished in Greensboro, N.C. The win pulled Woods (77 career PGA Tour wins) within five of Snead’s record 82. It also put Woods back in the No. 1 spot in the world golf ranking for the first time since October 2010. Not an easy climb back.
A lot to like
There are plenty of reasons to like Rory McIlroy: Start with the two major championships among his 10 professional wins, a majestic golf swing that’s given him fame and fortune, a tennis star girlfriend, and a perceived humbleness to his demeanor in victory and defeat. Here’s another reason: McIlroy showed up at a Miami-area municipal golf course on Saturday, unannounced and wearing khaki shorts, brought a bucket of his own golf balls, and quietly worked on his game at the range, setting up shop among some very lucky rank-and-file regulars. Why there, when any course would have gladly opened its doors for him? “You go and you hit balls because you want to and you love the game. That was the closest place, and it’s totally fine for me that I go and practice with everyone else. It was no big deal,” he told reporters this week at the Shell Houston Open, his last start before the Masters. McIlroy will have one more stop to make before heading to Augusta, though. He’s a UNICEF ambassador, and will make his second humanitarian trip to Haiti, to see how the country is recovering from the devastating 2010 earthquake.
Happen to catch one of the commercials for the launch of “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14,” which went on sale Tuesday? It features Woods and Palmer, who take matters into their own hands, literally, when a group of wannabe thieves try to steal some of the major championship trophies collected by the golfing duo. Woods and Palmer proceed to join forces and put down their attackers in a choreographed fight sequence that probably isn’t making Hollywood take notice. But golf fans should; it includes a cameo appearance by Lee Trevino, and is worth a look. Search for “The Rumble” on YouTube.
This week’s schedule
PGA: Shell Houston Open, Humble, Texas. Purse: $6.2 million (winner’s share $1.08 million). Defending champion: Hunter Mahan. Number of top-10 players in field: Five (McIlroy, Brandt Snedeker, Louis Oosthuizen, Steve Stricker, Keegan Bradley). TV: Thursday/Friday 4-7 p.m. (Golf Channel), Saturday/Sunday 1-3 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3-6 p.m. (NBC).
European: Trophee Hassan II, Agadir, Morocco. Purse: 1.5 million euros. Defending champion: Michael Hoey. TV: Thursday/Friday 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Saturday/Sunday 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (all on Golf Channel).
Tweet of the week
“First person to guess the paint color and finish of my new Ferrari will get a signed Ferrari hat. Start your engines. Go.” — Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter), who announced minutes later that a winner had been found. The color? Grigio Silverstone Matte.