Groove Moves

Ping: Oh, no--not this old argument
March 11, 2007

"I NEVERIMAGINED this would be coming up again," says Ping chairman John Solheim,whose father, company founder Karsten Solheim, sued the USGA and the PGA Tourin 1989 after they tried to ban the square grooves used in the company's Eye2irons. (The Eye2's were deemed conforming, and both suits were settled out ofcourt.) On Feb. 27 the USGA proposed new regulations on grooves, arguing thatcurrent designs impart too much spin on the ball, especially from the rough,thus de-emphasizing the importance of driving accuracy. Like his father,Solheim is not buying the argument, but the USGA is soliciting feedback on theproposal, so, Solheim says, "we will put in our comments and wait to seewhat they decide." If the USGA stands by the specifications of its newproposal, does he foresee more legal action? Responds Solheim, "I'm notgoing to say anything about that at this time, because I'm praying it won't getthat far."

WHEN JACKNICKLAUS visited the NBC tower during the Sunday telecast of the Honda Classic,he relived the 1978 Jackie Gleason's Inverrary Classic, which later became theHonda. That year Nicklaus won the event by closing with five straight birdiesto beat Grier Jones by a shot. "I'm not sure he ever recovered fromit," Nicklaus said.

Actually, he did.Jones, who has been the golf coach at Wichita State for 13 years, said onSunday evening that getting steamrollered by Nicklaus was not a nail in hiscareer coffin. "I think I might've finished second the next year too,"Jones said. (He did.) "Believe me when I tell you this: Life goes on."Jones continued to play the Tour full time through 1982, when a bad back--notBig Bad Jack--drove him off.

AS THE LPGA'SMasterCard Classic gets under way this week, here's a startling thought: ByJune, Annika Sorenstam (below) may no longer be the No. 1 player in women'sgolf. After the LPGA tweaked its rankings formula last August (Wie-ded themout, so to speak), Sorenstam led the second- and third-ranked players, LorenaOchoa and Karrie Webb, by eight points. As of Monday her margin had shrunk toless than three points (Sorenstam 12.72, Webb 10.77, Ochoa 10.48). The pointsare calculated on combined results over the most recent 104 weeks, with thoseearned in any event diminishing in value every 13 weeks until they drop from aplayer's total. Starting with the 2005 MasterCard Classic, Sorenstam won six ofher next eight starts, including two majors, and also had a tie for second.Barring an almost equally torrid start in 2007, Sorenstam will be losing a lotof points as the weeks go by. Ochoa and Webb, meanwhile, had rather averagestarts in '05, so they're better positioned for a climb. Steady play earlycould catapult either of them right to the top.

SUGGESTED WOODSBABY NAME Congressional.

"What I want is a distraction-free round ofgolf." --MY SHOT, PAGE G24

KEY STAT
10
Consecutive years that Honda winner Mark Wilson attended Q school.

HOT TRACK
This year's Honda had a weak field (two of the top 10 in the World Ranking),but Tom Pernice, who has played the event at four venues, says Jack Nicklaus'sredesigned PGA National is the best layout it has had. "This is like amajor championship course, and that'll bring the good players," he says."In years to come, I think you'll see Jack lean on some people toplay."

• For Gary Van Sickle's Inside Golf column, go toSI.com/golf.

PHOTOAL MESSERSCHMIDT/WIREIMAGE.COM (PGA NATIONAL) PHOTORiverside Golf Course PHOTODARREN CARROLL (SORENSTAM)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)