Golf Talk: Annika Takes a Break, Miller Insults

Thursday, 10 Jul 2008 04:48 PM

By Anthony Pioppi

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  • Annika Takes a Break for Real

  • Rocco Mediate, Pool Cleaner

  • Jay Williamson Comes Close

  • Ken Duke — the Other Man From Hope

  • Mickelson's 'Man Down!'

  • Ernie Els' Bagman Returns


    Annika Takes a Break for Real

    For professional athletes and entertainers, retirement does not always mean "retirement," but sometimes "extended break."

    Basketball great Michael Jordan retired and returned. Muhammad Ali retired from boxing then stepped back into the ring, and rock giants The Who retired from touring at least twice.

    However, Annika Sorenstam insists that her retirement is real — at least for a while.

    "I am definitely not going to play the next few years, I can tell you that," Sorenstam said. "Who knows? Five or six years from now, if I get the urge to play.

    "I know with my status being a hall of famer, I can come back. That's a good thing. We will see. For now, this is what I am going to do."

    Rocco Mediate, Pool Cleaner

    Johnny Miller raised the ire of Italian-Americans for his comment during the U.S. Open playoff between Rocco Mediate and Tiger Woods, saying he "looks like a guy who cleans Tiger’s swimming pool."

    Miller then added, "Guys with the name 'Rocco' don’t get the trophy." Blond-haired, blue-eyed Miller never told his audience what are acceptable golf names, but you can bet "Johnny" is one of them.

    Mediate said Miller apologized later in the week, and that seems to have settled the issue in his eyes.

    "Johnny’s fine," Mediate said. "He shoots from the hip. A lot of us do and try to fix it later. He sent me a voice mail. I’m fine with it."

    Jay Williamson Comes Close

    Jay Williamson was one of the feel-good stories of the 2007 PGA Tour season, and if he could have sunk a putt at the 18th hole at the TPC River Highlands layout he would have been the year’s most unlikely winner.

    The journeyman pro from St. Louis attended Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., where he played hockey, and he almost won the Travelers Championship in nearby Cromwell had it not been for two nearly identical putts on the 18th hole that did not fall — one for the outright victory and one to extend a playoff.

    The second-place finish and the large check that went with it guaranteed Williamson an exemption into this season. Recently he was back at the Travelers.

    In Thursday’s first round he hit his approach on 18 to virtually the exact spot as last year, even though the pin was in another location. Ironically, Williamson jarred the 12-footer for the birdie he so longed for last year.

    "I holed a putt on an 18 and that’s all I care about. It was center-cut," he laughed and said after shooting a one-under 69. "I like to hit it right in that spot" he said, glancing toward the 18th green. "I hit there in the pro-am."

    Williamson later hit it to a different location on the green, some 30-plus feet from the pin and again made the putt. The two birdies, though, were not enough, and he missed the cut.

    Ken Duke — the Other Man From Hope

    Ken Duke made a name for himself on the 2007 PGA Tour after spending the 2006 season on the Nationwide Tour, racking up more than $1.9 million with five top-10 finishes, including two seconds.

    Despite the success, he is still the third-most famous native of the tiny town of Hope, Ark., where former President Bill Clinton is No. 1, followed by former Arkansas governor and former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

    "I’m not even second, I’m down the list," he told WTIC radio in Hartford after taking the first-round lead in the Travelers Championship. Clinton "is still big around there."

    Man Down, Mickelson Sorry

    It was New Zealander Phil Shaw who was felled by a Phil Mickelson drive off the forehead during Friday’s round of the U.S. Open while acting as a spotter.

    For his efforts, Shaw was rewarded with seven stitches and a glove signed by Mickelson with the word, "SORRY."

    "It made a hell of a noise," Shaw told the Otaga [New Zealand] Daily News of the bonking he took. "And there was heaps of blood. The first 30 seconds I just held my head. But it didn't really hurt. It was sort of embarrassing."

    Then the ruckus started.

    "The Americans went a bit overboard yelling out: ‘Man down’, and a guy pushing through saying ‘I'm a paramedic.'"

    Shaw was taken to a hospital for treatment and discovered he was already a celebrity.

    "I was sitting there and they were replaying the shot on the TV. These people were saying: ‘That's him, the guy who is on TV’ and pointing to me."

    Mickelson went on to par the hole.

    Ernie Els' Bagman Returns

    Ricci Roberts, caddie for Ernie Els when the man was winning three majors, is said to be back on the bag of the Big East, starting with the Scottish Open in early July.

    Els has made swing changes this year, so a caddie change seems in order as well. With Tiger sidelined, maybe the No. 3-ranked player in the world can have a go at the top spot.

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