TIME golf

James Hahn Wins Riviera in a Playoff

"I never would have thought I would win this tournament," Hahn said

(LOS ANGELES) — Surrounded by stars in the city and on the golf course, James Hahn turned in the performance of his life Sunday at the Northern Trust Open.

In trouble behind the 10th green at Riviera in a three-man playoff, he hit a flop shot over the back bunker and made a 10-foot putt to stay in the game when Dustin Johnson hit a shot that was even better. On the third extra hole, Hahn remembered the subtle break and holed a 25-foot birdie putt.

He was too nervous to watch Johnson try to match the birdie from 12 feet.

And he was too stunned to dance.

By closing with a tough par for a 2-under 69, and making two birdies in the playoff, Hahn captured his first PGA Tour title and earned his first trip to the Masters.

Until Sunday, he was best known as the guy who did the “Gangnam Style” dance before the crazies on the 16th hole at Phoenix. On Sunday, he was amazed and humbled at what hit him at Riviera just as the Academy Awards was getting started.

His story is fit for Hollywood.

Hahn once sold shoes at a high-end department store to make a living. He was on the verge of giving up on golf in 2008 when he was down to his last $200 and decided then to work a little harder. And he then he won a PGA Tour event in a playoff over Johnson and Paul Casey, weaving his way through traffic on the back nine in which seven players had at least a share of the lead.

“I never would have thought I would win this tournament,” Hahn said.

It looked like it would belong to so many others.

Johnson, in his third tournament back from his six-month break for “personal challenges,” had gone 21 holes without a bogey and was tied for the lead with Sergio Garcia with a lob wedge for his third shot to the par-5 17th. He hit into a bunker and made bogey, and then narrowly missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th to win it. He shot 69.

Casey made a late surge only to bogey the last hole for a 68. Hahn joined with at 6-under 278 with a tough up-and-down for par on the 18th, not even realizing it would be enough to get into a playoff.

Garcia was playing the 17th behind them and had a one-shot lead. But the Spaniard three-putted from 50 feet on the fringe for a bogey, and then chipped weakly to 25 feet on the 18th for another bogey and 71.

“I’ve always been truthful to myself and I didn’t deserve to win this week. It’s as simple as that,” Garcia said.

Jordan Spieth, who four-putted from just off the green at No. 4, thought he needed to be at 7 under to have a chance and nearly chipped in on the 18th. But it ran 6 feet by the hole, and he missed that one for a bogey and a 70 to finish one shot out of the playoff. So did Hideki Matsuyama (67) and Keegan Bradley (68).

So much went right for Hahn, and it was a long time coming for the 33-year-old from Cal, born in South Korea and raised in the Bay Area.

“Hats off to James, making a long putt like that,” Johnson said. “I played with him all day, so I knew he was rolling the putter really well.”

Three pars on the 18th in the playoff sent them to the 10th hole, which was 310 yards of trouble and terror. Casey had the best shot, a 3-wood in the collection area left of the green. He pitched to 15 feet. Johnson and Hahn were in the wet rough behind the green.

“I didn’t think I would have the longest birdie putt after seeing where those guys were,” Casey said. “But those guys played phenomenal recoveries, absolutely brilliant.”

Hahn pitched to 10 feet, and Johnson followed him with a shot into 3 feet.

Johnson had the advantage again on the par-3 14th, the third extra hole, until Hahn poured in what turned out to be the winning putt.

He was even more excited about what happens next, and he wasn’t talking about his first trip to Augusta National. His wife, Stephanie, is expecting their first child the week after the World Golf Championship at Doral. Even if Hahn stays eligible, he said he won’t play.

First, he has to pick out a name for his daughter.

“I’m going to have to talk to my wife about ‘Riviera.’ I think that’s a good name,” Hahn said.

Retief Goosen, the 54-hole leader, held on as long as he could until a horrid stretch on the back nine. The 46-year-old South African, going for his first victory in nearly six years, went from the trees on the left to the trees on the right and made double bogey on No. 13. He followed with two more bogeys. Only a pair of birdies at the end salvaged an otherwise miserable final round and he closed with a 75.

Vijay Singh, who turned 52 on Sunday, was tied for the lead with a beautiful bunker shot to 10 feet on No. 10 for birdie. He didn’t made another birdie the rest of the way, fell back with a bogey on the 15th as the rain started to pound Riviera, and then taking double bogey on the par-3 16th. He shot 72.

Bae Sang-Moon also was tied for the lead until bogeys on the 11th and 12th holes. He closed with a 72 and tied for eighth.

TIME golf

Tiger Woods to Take a Break From Golf

Tiger Woods reacts after playing his shot from the 13th fairway on the north course during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course on Feb. 5, 2015 in La Jolla, California.
Donald Miralle—Getty Images Tiger Woods reacts after playing his shot from the 13th fairway on the north course during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course on Feb. 5, 2015 in La Jolla, California.

"My play, and scores, are not acceptable for tournament golf."

Tiger Woods will leave professional golf until his game gets better, he announced Wednesday.

“Right now, I need a lot of work on my game, and to still spend time with the people that are important to me,” he wrote on his website. “My play, and scores, are not acceptable for tournament golf. Like I’ve said, I enter a tournament to compete at the highest level, and when I think I’m ready, I’ll be back.”

Woods shot a career-low 82 in Phoenix last week, missing the cut for the Phoenix Open by 12 shots. He then withdrew from Torrey Pines on Feb. 5 because of tightness in his back, prompting speculation that the back surgery he had last spring would hurt his long-term prospects. His current world ranking at 62 is his lowest since he went pro in 1996.

“I’d like to play The Honda Classic — it’s a tournament in my hometown and it’s important to me — but I won’t be there unless my game is tournament-ready. That’s not fair to anyone,” Woods concluded in his statement, setting a tentative goal of returning to the PGA Tour on Feb. 23. “I do, however, expect to be playing again very soon.”

 

TIME golf

Tiger Woods Withdraws Because of Tightness in Lower Back

Tiger Woods at the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015, in San Diego
Gregory Bull–AP Tiger Woods at the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament in San Diego on Feb. 5, 2015

"It's just my glutes are shutting off," Woods said

(SAN DIEGO) — New season, same old story with Tiger Woods.

Only it’s no longer a happy tale.

For the third time in his last eight PGA Tour events, Woods got into a cart in the middle of his round and was driven to the parking lot because of back pain. Most troubling about Thursday in the Farmers Insurance Open was he spoke only a week ago of feeling “great” physically, and this was only his second event of the year.

He blamed this one on the weather, which caused his “glutes” to shut off.

Woods walked off the course after 11 holes on the North Course at Torrey Pines, citing tightness in his lower back from standing around for more than an hour in the cool Pacific air during a fog delay in the morning. He never looked comfortable, and Billy Horschel noticed it right away. Woods was reaching for his back at the turn. Horschel tried to help by picking up the tee for Woods on their 10th hole and the ball from the cup when Woods made birdie.

“I was ready to go,” Woods said. “I had a good warmup session the first time around. Then we stood out here and I got cold, and everything started deactivating again. And it’s frustrating that I just can’t stay activated. That’s just kind of the way it is.”

Woods now has gone 12 straight PGA Tour events without a top 10, dating to his runner-up finish in The Barclays in 2013 when back pain dropped him to his knees. This was his first round since a career-high 82 last week in the Phoenix Open to tie for last with a club pro and miss the cut by 12 shots.

“It’s tough to see a guy I look up to, a guy I consider a friend, to have issues with spasms,” Horschel said. “It’s tough to see him go, but he was in quite a bit of pain.”

Nicholas Thompson had an 8-under 64 on the North Course and had a one-shot lead over Michael Thompson when play was suspended by darkness. Brooks Koepka, coming off his victory in the Phoenix Open, had a 66 on the North. The best score on the tougher South Course belonged to Jhonnatan Vegas, who shot 67.

Dustin Johnson, playing for the first time since his six-month leave for “personal challenges,” holed out for eagle on No. 4 on the South Course as his lone highlight. He had five bogeys and was 2 over with one hole remaining.

But this day was all about Woods, which used to be typical at Torrey Pines because he has won the tournament seven times. Thursday was different. Several players came out of the scoring area and said, “What happened to Tiger?”

“It’s just my glutes are shutting off,” Woods said, sound more like a physical therapist than a 14-time major champion. “Then they don’t activate and then, hence, it goes into my lower back. So I tried to activate my glutes as best I could in between, but they never stayed activated.”

It has become a troubling trend for Woods. In his last six tournaments since back surgery last March, he has missed the cut three times, withdrawn twice and finished 69th in the British Open, his lowest 72-hole finish in a major.

“It’s just tough not seeing him have his best, whether it’s with his game or with his health,” said Rickie Fowler, who played in the group with him.

Woods was 2-over par through 11 holes and in a tie for 130th when he withdrew.

He will fall to his worst world ranking since before he won his first PGA Tour event as a 20-year-old in 1996, and he most likely will not qualify for a World Golf Championship for only the second time in his career. Woods is not expected to play again until the Honda Classic in three weeks. Doral is the following week. He did not indicate earlier in the week that he would add tournaments to his schedule ahead of the Masters, which is April 9-12.

The front nine at Torrey Pines was more of the same kind of golf he showed in the Phoenix Open last week, when he missed the cut by 12 shots with a short game that was shocking. On his first hole, the par-4 10th, Woods short-sided himself right of the green and he bladed his chip some 35 feet beyond the hole for a bogey.

He was in trouble again on the next hole, facing the same chip, and this time struck it perfectly. He chipped in to save par.

From there, it was a mixed bag of poor tee shots (he hit only one fairway) and poor iron shots. His tee shot on the par-3 12th wound up on a front tee box at the 13th hole. He missed the green long and right from the 13th fairway.

Woods made a 6-foot birdie on the 16th and he made birdie on the par-5 first hole. The last hole he completed was the most telling.

Horschel and Woods were in the right rough, about 70 yards short of the green. Horschel hit to about 12 feet on the collar of the green behind the hole. Woods went about a yard from a tee box on the next hole, the shot sailing over the heads of the gallery and down a slope. From there, he duffed his flop shot halfway up the hill, hit the next one too hard about 15 feet past the cup and two-putted for double bogey.

Woods won five times in 2013 and was PGA Tour player of the year. He has never looked further from the elite in golf as he does now. Woods took four months off to let his back fully heal and to regain his strength. On Thursday, he headed home early from Torrey Pines to a future as mysterious as fog.

TIME golf

U.S. Golfer and Civil Rights Pioneer Charlie Sifford Dies at 92

Former PGA golfer Charlie Sifford sits in the dining room of his home in Brecksville, Ohio on Nov. 13, 2014
Mark Duncan—AP Former PGA golfer Charlie Sifford sits in the dining room of his home in Brecksville, Ohio on Nov. 13, 2014.

He forced the desegregation of professional golf

Dr. Charles L. “Charlie” Sifford, a man who achieved great success on the golf course but made a much larger impact off of it, passed away on Wednesday night at the age of 92, the PGA Tour of America confirmed.

Born in 1922, the Charlotte, N.C. native is often called golf’s Jackie Robinson. His challenge to the PGA’s “Caucasian-only” membership clause forced the desegregation of professional golf in 1961.

“By his courage, Dr. Sifford inspired others to follow their dreams. The PGA of America extends its thoughts and prayers to Dr. Sifford’s family. Golf was fortunate to have had this exceptional American in our midst,” said PGA of America President Derek Sprague.

On the Tour, Sifford won the Greater Hartford Open in 1967 and the Los Angeles Open in 1969 and was champion of the Seniors Championship in 1975. He was also a six-time winner of what was known as the Negro Open.

Sifford once met Jackie Robinson — the first black player in Major League Baseball — and described their conversation in his autobiography Just Let Me Play.

He wrote, “[Robinson] asked me if I was a quitter, I told him no. He said, ‘If you’re not a quitter, you’re probably going to experience some things that will make you want to quit’.”

In 2014 Sifford became the third golfer (Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer being the other two) to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor an American civilian can receive. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004.

TIME Bizarre

Obama’s Golf Game Prompts Couple to Relocate Wedding Set for Next Day

US-MALAYSIA-OBAMA-NAJIB-GOLF
Nicholas Kamm—AFP/Getty Images President Barack Obama jokes with reporters as he plays golf with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razzak at Marine Corps Base Hawaii on Dec. 24, 2014

The President called the bride to apologize

President Barack Obama’s golf game in Hawaii forced a military couple to relocate their wedding a day before their planned nuptials on Sunday.

Natalie Heimel and Edward Mallue Jr. had just finished their rehearsal at Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course, located on the Marine Corps Base Hawaii, when they were informed they would have to move their planned ceremony at the 16th hole because the President would be playing through the holes, Bloomberg reports.

Wedding organizer Naile Brennan said anyone who plans an event there while Obama is in town is warned ahead of time about the chance of an 11th-hour rescheduling. The ceremony was moved to a “much prettier and much nicer venue,” she said. “It’s more secluded and there are no golfers yelling ‘Fore!'”

Even though the newlyweds knew Obama was in town — they invited him to their wedding but received a congratulatory no-show letter in response — their relocation still came as a shock. After Obama found out what happened, according to Jamie McCarthy, a sister of Mallue, “he apologized and congratulated them” in a “wonderful” personal call to the bride.

[Bloomberg]

TIME Bizarre

Bubba Watson Releases Music Video as Rapping Santa Bubbaclaus

“It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Bubbaclaus”

It’s tough for many great bands to stay together, and the Golf Boys are no different. After two mega-YouTube hits, Bubba Watson officially branched out on his own music video career Wednesday, dropping “The Single” from Bubbaclaus with a note that it’s “Just a little fun for my fans for the holidays!”

The lyrics are less than phenomenal, repeatedly playing off the Superman line with “It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Bubbaclaus,” but the video does earn random bonus points for featuring a dunking Gumby in a Kevin Durant jersey. And it has Bubba’s hovercraft golf cart.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the Golf Boys would not come together again for a third music video. It just means that for now Watson is doing his own thing as a rapping Santa. Which is not a bad way to spend the golf offseason.

This article originally appeared on Golf.com.

TIME golf

Tiger Woods Outraged by ‘Sheer Nastiness’ of Fake Interview

Tiger Woods Dan Jenkins Fake Golf Digest Interview
Warren Little—Getty Images Tiger Woods of the United States hits a tee shot during the first round of the 96th PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on August 7, 2014 in Louisville, Kentucky.

"A grudge-fueled piece of character assassination"

Pro golfer Tiger Woods published an editorial Tuesday slamming a parody interview in Golf Digest between him and the article’s author, sportswriter Dan Jenkins.

“Jenkins faked an interview, which fails as parody, and is really more like a grudge-fueled piece of character assassination,” Woods wrote in a piece titled “Not True, Not Funny” on The Players’ Tribune, a platform founded by Derek Jeter featuring the “unfiltered voices of professional athletes.”

Jenkins’ article, which appeared in the December issue of Golf Digest, involves targeted questions that “Woods” answers, including a question about why he doesn’t tip well, a claim made by fellow sportswriter Rick Reilly.

“All athletes know that we will be under scrutiny from the media. But this concocted article was below the belt,” Woods wrote. “Good-natured satire is one thing, but no fair-minded writer would put someone in the position of having to publicly deny that he mistreats his friends, takes pleasure in firing people, and stiffs on tips—and a lot of other slurs, too.”

Woods also made public a copy of a letter sent by his representatives to Golf Digest publisher Mark Townsend. The document demands an apology and a response to questions about the piece’s journalistic integrity.

TIME Bizarre

Feel Good Friday: 9 Photos to Start Your Weekend

From frizbees in Rome to selfies with Brad Pitt, here's a handful of photos to get your weekend started right.

TIME golf

Watch a Golfer Sink a 226-Yard Hole-In-One

Extraordinary shot put Lee Westwood in the running at the CIMB Classic

Some moments in sports are worth watching on repeat over and over again. On Friday, we got another.

Golfer Lee Westwood hit a spectacular 226-yard hole-in-one on the 11th hole at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club’s CIMB Classic, rocketing him into contention. The Englishman is currently at 3rd place to win the tournament’s $7,000,000 purse, behind Americans Bill Hurley III and Kevin Streelman.

A shot that good is always a pleasure to watch but Lee himself was, of course, more excited than anyone.

MONEY Leisure

How Daylight Saving Time Costs You Money

two women looking in shop windows at dusk
Betsie Van Der Meer—Getty Images Daylight saving: energy conservation measure or Chamber of Commerce conspiracy?

The tradeoff for later sunsets during daylight saving time is that you're more likely to be out and about, dropping cash.

At 2 a.m. on Sunday, November 2, the observation of daylight saving time will end and the clocks will “fall back” to the standard time, 1 a.m. Despite the fact that the shift grants the vast majority of Americans a much-welcomed extra hour of sleep, many would prefer to do away with the twice-annual time change.

Arizona and Hawaii already don’t bother with daylight saving time, and it looks like Utah could be next. In an online survey that collected more than 27,000 responses, two-thirds of Utahns favored staying on Mountain Standard Time year-round, like Arizona does. “Convenience really stood out” as a major reason why folks want to get rid of daylight savings, the leader of a government committee studying the topic explained to the Salt Lake Tribune. “People don’t want to move their clocks forward, backward … They just want to set them and leave them.”

OK, so doing away with daylight savings would make life simpler—but only very slightly so, since our computers and smartphones and other gadgets change their clocks automatically. More important, what’s the argument to keep daylight saving observation in place?

Daylight saving time was first embraced during World War I, when the idea was that the spring shift would help conserve coal because people would need less light and heat since they had more daylight during their waking hours. The concept that daylight saving saved on energy costs persisted for decades but has recently been declared patently false. Later sunsets during the warm months mean a higher likelihood that Americans will spend their evenings driving around and doing stuff, meaning more need for gas and air-conditioning during waking hours.

The ability for Americans to be out and about enjoying the later sunset amounts to an economic stimulus, because odds are we’re spending more money when we’re out. Michael Downing, a Tufts University professor and author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Savings, explained to The Takeaway public radio program that the main beneficiaries of daylight saving include the golfing, tourism, and recreation industries—all of which attract more business when there’s more daylight after the traditional work day is done.

For that matter, all manner of shops and small businesses love what’s perceived to be a longer day, because it pushes consumers outside later into the night. “Since 1915, the principal supporter of daylight saving in the United States has been the Chamber of Commerce on behalf of small business and retailers,” said Downing. “The Chamber understood that if you give workers more sunlight at the end of the day they’ll stop and shop on their way home.”

A Tufts blog post noted that in 2005, daylight saving time was expanded from seven to eight months, including the key step of delaying the “fall back” until the first week of November—a move spurred on thanks to pressure from lobbyists supporting candy manufacturers and convenience stores. Why would they want such a change? Kids would get an extra hour of daylight for trick-or-treating, meaning more candy consumption and more candy purchases. Later sunsets for more of the year also mean more people out on the roads needing to swing by convenience stores to gas up or grab snacks.

As a result of these changes, we somewhat bizarrely now observe daylight saving for the vast majority of the year. “Today we have eight months of daylight saving and only four months of standard time,” Downing said. “Can you tell me which time is the standard?”

To some extent, the autumn return to standard time balances things out. With earlier sunsets, we’re out on the roads less, and therefore there’s less need to gas up the car. So there’s some savings there. Still, for much of the country, people wouldn’t be playing golf or having barbecues or visiting national parks anyway at that time of year because it’s just too cold.

And remember: Daylight saving is eight months of the year, versus only four months for “standard” time. Also: While daylight saving serves as an economic stimulus for two-thirds of the calendar year, standard time has its own epic consumer stimulus, in the form of Black Friday and the ever-expanding holiday shopping season.

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