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Tiger Woods chips onto the 5th green during weather delayed third round play at the Farmers Insurance Open (MIKE BLAKE/REUTERS)
Tiger Woods chips onto the 5th green during weather delayed third round play at the Farmers Insurance Open (MIKE BLAKE/REUTERS)

Dowbiggin: No final round pairing with Tiger might be best for Brad Fritsch Add to ...

Canadian PGA Tour members playing in a group with Tiger Woods have not always had the best luck. There was Stephen Ames getting fricasseed 9 & 8 by an irate Woods at the 2006 WGC-Accenture Match Play. Then there was Mike Weir’s final-round 80 in the 1999 PGA Championship when paired with Woods.

So you can understand why Ottawa’s Brad Fritsch was probably just as happy to play one group ahead of Woods as the weather-delayed final round began at the Farmers Insurance Open Championship at Torrey Pines. Minding your own business is probably the best idea when you have fewer starts on the PGA Tour than Woods has wins in the San Diego area.

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The anonymity part worked for Fritsch, who trailed Woods by four as Round 4 began. CBS showed the Alberta native line up a par putt on No. 2; all the while Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo were talking like magpies about the preparations being made offscreen by Woods and his caddy for his next shot. Claude Rains never disappeared that fast in the Invisible man.

Unfortunately, missing the Tiger spotlight did not help Tour rookie Fritsch get the fast start in Round 4 as he challenged for his first Tour title. Fritsch took bogeys on Nos. 3 & 4 before getting one back with a birdie on the sixth. His –9 after 7 is still impressive, but several galaxies back of vintage Woods at –17. Still, it’s a fine showing for the 35-year-old who just jumped from the Web.com Tour to the big boys last winter.

Sadly, fellow Canadian Adam Hadwin flew a little too close to the sun at –7 after Round 3. The 25-year-old’s big week (coming from Monday qualifier to sniffing the lead) hit a brick wall as he dropped 12 strokes in Round 4. Ouch.

“@kathleenmadigan Canadian Brad (Fritsch‘s) caddie smokin cigs. Luv it.”

NORTH OF THE 49TH

Is there a rule that when an American TV announcer talks abut a Canadian athlete that he has to butcher the locator? When CBS anchor Jim Nantz talked about Fritsch he was from “Ottawa, Canada”. That’s as opposed to the announcers who say Stephen Ames is from “Alberta, Canada”. Really, it’s not that complicated.

If Nantz would just haul his sorry butt to CBS’ coverage of the Canadian Open once in a while he might have an idea what happens north of the border besides hockey (we learned Fritsch’s dream is to drop a puck for an NHL playoff game). It’s not like there haven’t been Canadian teams in MLB, NBA and NHL since Nantz was Fred Couples’ wing man back at Houston.

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT

There are a lot of things Don Cherry has been called the past three decades. Never thought that boring would be one of them. After having almost four months to scrape up material during the lockout, on Saturday Cherry could only obsess about his stale-dated recipe of goons, goal celebrations, and linesmen who won’t drop the puck..

Saturday was 1990s boilerplate about linesmen breaking up fighters too late, keeping roster spots for enforcers like Colton Orr, exuberant rookies needing a good pounding for celebrating too much and having knuckleheads on the top line to protect skill players. Zzzzz. That’s all ya’ got, Don? People will stop hating you if you just throw your plaid suit out there.

Hockey Night in Canada has limited Bob Cole’s workload as he slowed down. Will it do the same if Cherry doesn’t step up his game in the next while? Think we know the answer to that.

DESK DUTY

With Ron MacLean in Calgary, we had an awkward turn with a new panel hosted by Elliotte Friedman back in Toronto. Friedman has been getting some occasional experience hosting on Sportsnet Radio The Fan 590, but he’s still morphing from reporter to the man who asks questions.

In Saturday’s discussion of the Markham arena project, Friedman had the most intel, leaving panelists P.J. Stock and Kevin Weekes looking like valets waiting for him to hand over the keys. Glenn Healy needs no invitation to jump in, but the dynamics of time share and spreading the focus require Friedman to keep all the plates spinning. That’s presuming Stock has something gripping to say, which seems to be a tall order these days.

GO WEST YOUNG MAN

Nice to see Calgary get all dreamy over Cherry and Alberta boy Ron MacLean on Saturday. The HNIC Glitter Twins drifted west to show the CBC flag in a market where its TV product, at least, is down to close friends and family. (Local CBC Radio, incongruously, is No. 1 in both its morning and afternoon drive segment.)

The Flames went weak in the knees for Ron ‘n Don’s schtick, allowing the pair to drop a ceremonial opening faceoff. We look forward to James Duthie and Bob McKenzie being extended the same honour when the TSN Two head west themselves.

WHO’S WATCHING

As Novak Djokovic’s third straight triumph at the Australian Open proves, men’s tennis has never been more compelling. There are a half dozen identifiable stars who command the screen whenever they meet.

Then there’s women’s tennis, which has descended to Aussie ladies champion Viktoria Azarenka escaping to the dressing room to avoid a panic attack in her semi against American upstart Sloane Stephens. There is no glory without honour, and Azarenka’s ploy of faking an injury or illness when her opponent was about to beat her (leaving Stephens to cool out on-court) was unworthy of a champion.

Unless Serena Williams is playing, ladies tennis is a snooze these days. With champions who flaunt the integrity of the sport and officials who countenance such behaviour, why bother watching?

dowbboy@shaw.ca / @dowbboy

 

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