Notebook: 5 truths about golf that are self-evident

Joe LaCava, left, and Tiger Woods have teamed up for four wins thus far, including the Chevron World Challenge at the end of 2011.

Joe LaCava, left, and Tiger Woods have teamed up for four wins thus far, including the Chevron World Challenge at the end of 2011.

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What better day than today to help tidy up the golf world and to declare that we hold these five truths to be self-evident:

• It should be against the Rules of Golf for a player in competition to get assistance with his or her alignment while setting up over a shot. Nauseating, is what it is. Looks like Little League baseball with coach coming out to little Johnny to show him which side of the plate to stand on. Want to compete? Then stand on your own.

• Any course that has in-course out-of-bounds is committing a serious wrong.

• While it’s wrong to generalize, here’s one I subscribe to: When media center table conversation turns to how mankind cannot move forward until “the ball is rolled back,” it signals time to get another ice cream, go watch Charlie Beljan hit balls or read a dissertation on the theories of aeration. Or, all three.

• Two-stroke penalties to those who claim they hit “great putts that didn’t go in.” That’s akin to saying you made great investments that lost money. Maybe you put a nice stroke on it or rolled it on the line you intended, but if it didn’t go in, it wasn’t a great putt.

• It’s disconcerting enough to hear golfers talk of “traps” when they are bunkers, or “pins” when they’re hole locations, but nothing is worse than a media type telling you “I wrote a piece” as if they were Fitzgerald touting “The Great Gatsby.”

Now, to sprinkle in a little of this and a dash of that . . .

• • •

YOU’RE KIDDING? Talk about delayed-reaction. Heard the news a few weeks ago, but it’s taken that long to settle in. Grace Park has announced her retirement? Stunning. Mostly because I didn’t know Grace Park was still playing.

Wow. Next thing you know, Michelle Wie will announce that she is returning to the game.

• • •

CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS: It’s fashionable right now to argue that Tiger Woods should be ranked higher than fourth in the world, be it third, second or even No. 1. He has, after all, won three of his last seven tournaments, and the trio ahead of him – Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, respectively – in no way can match Woods’ form.

But if the people who would argue on Woods’ behalf now are the same ones who also supported his No. 1 position in the summer of 2010, well, consider them major contrarians.

Winless and riding a season-long roller-coaster of performances, Woods in early August that year was a shell of himself at the Bridgestone Invitational, finishing joint 78th. That came on the heels of a T-46 at the AT & T National and a T-23 at the Open Championship and what followed was a T-28 at the PGA Championship.

None of it was very good, yet at the end of that four-tournament stretch, guess what? Woods was No. 1, ahead of Phil Mickelson, Westwood and Steve Stricker, all of whom were better at the time.

But Woods benefited then, just as he’s more or less being penalized now, from an Official World Golf Ranking system that weighs a wider window of play, not just recent trend.

Should he be No. 1? Who knows and frankly, who cares? Caroline Wozniacki was No. 1, which proves how hollow such computer drivel is. Woods is the hottest and most accomplished player on the landscape, but if that doesn’t parlay into a win at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, it all is for naught.

• • •

THEY CAN DO LYTHAM WITHOUT HIM: Who said PGA Tour guys don’t get much vacation time? David Toms is in the midst of a seven-week break and won't return until the Bridgestone Invitational.

Last seen grinding away at the U.S. Open, where he finished joint fourth, Toms has never had a love affair with the Open Championship, so it’s no surprise he’ll miss the festivities in a few weeks at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

Instead, Toms’ golf focus during the heart of summer will revolve around son Carter and his junior tournaments, mixed in with family time at a lake house.

Currently ranked 32nd in the world order, Toms hasn’t played the Open Championship since 2009. He was T-4 in his debut, in 2000, but in seven appearances since he’s missed four cuts and been disqualified once.

When he tees it up at Firestone CC, Toms will be starting a stretch of six consecutive tournaments, though he’ll have just the Bridgestone and PGA Championship to earn Ryder Cup points. Right now, he’s 25th on that list, so one would have to surmise that he’s a long shot for this year’s team, eh?

• • •

COACH, A LITTLE EXTRA HELP, PLEASE: Zach Johnson will recruit swing coach Mike Bender to carry his bag in the upcoming John Deere Classic because Damon Green has a previous engagement – a spot in the U.S. Senior Open.

Green is eligible via his share of 13th in last year’s tournament, but he knows he’ll have to have a sharper game than what he had a few weeks ago at the Principal Charity Classic in Des Moines, Iowa. Green shot 73-80-70 to finish 73rd, though he came away with one highlight: He was paired with longtime friend and fellow caddie Lance Ten Broeck, who had Monday qualified but shot 70-77-73.

Offering a bit sympathy for the third member of the group, Jim Rutledge, Green quipped, “Imagine that, five caddies and a pro in one group.”

Self-deprecating humor aside, both Green and Ten Broeck can play and they’ll get another chance July 12-15 at Indianwood Golf & Country Club in Lake Orion, Mich., when the senior major gets under way.

Ten Broeck earned his spot by shooting 68 for medalist honors June 18 at Arcola CC in Paramus, N.J.

• • •

THERE’S MORE GREEN IN HIS WORLD: So, do you think Joe LaCava is OK with his decision to go with a new boss and carry a new bag? Tiger Woods thus far in 2012 has earned $4,220,398. LaCava's previous bags – Dustin Johnson and Fred Couples – have earned a combined $2,726,534.

• • •

AH, THE MYSTERIES OF GOLF: He had been down and out of the mainstream for a while, then Nick Flanagan, the former U.S. Amateur king, used his status in the past champions’ category to post a stunning victory in the BWW Charity tournament. Seemingly re-charged for a run of good fortune, Flanagan has instead struggled, missing the cut in each of his three starts since then.

• • •

INFLATIONARY TIMES, FOR SURE: It took until his second start as a professional, but Patrick Cantlay earned his first check: $13,445 for finishing in a tie for 66nd. But he closed with 80? Hey, times have changed and inferior play is richly rewarded like never before. For comparison, Cantlay should know that Tiger Woods closed with a 68 and finished T-60 to earn his first PGA Tour check, but for a mere $2,544 at the 1996 Greater Milwaukee Open.

• • •

TV GUYS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS: Heard this Sunday during the closing holes of the AT & T National, that shooting 77 in the final round alongside Woods would be “good experience” for Brendon de Jonge. It was said as if the man from Zimbabwe was Cantlay. But de Jonge will be 32 in a few weeks, is playing his fifth PGA Tour season, and has been a pro for nine years. When is this experience supposed to kick in, when he’s 40?

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