Thursday, May 3, 2007

These guys are good!

You've just got to hand it to the PGA Tour. First, they run an extensive self-promotional campaign about the players with the catch phrase, "These guys are good!" For once they understated something. They're great. The 200th ranked player is the 200th best player in the world. Think about it. Of all the millions of golfers in the world, he's number 200.

As a guy who thinks the 15th all time home run hitter in baseball should have his credentials for the Hall of Fame carefully examined and never on the first ballot, I'm more impressed with the 200th golfer in the world.

Okay, Timmy Finchem and the boys have me sold on this one. Why didn't they just let it be? Why did they have to bollix the whole thing up?

They did you know. It started on the Florida swing and I'm sure you're going to see it elsewhere through the year. They wanted to prove to the public that in spite of all the new equipment technology and the swing gurus, golf courses wouldn't be torn apart by the rank and file of the PGA Tour.

They started with the Honda Classic that debuted at the Champions Course at PGA National. Mark Wilson captured the title in a four-way play off with a 72-hole score of 275, which they recalibrated it as five under par. The PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup were played on the same course at par 72. Evidently, a car Classic has more integrity than either of those two events. Wilson, et al finished at 13-under par in real-speak.

Let's see. Mark Calcavecchia won the PODS Championship at Innisbrook in Tarpon Springs with a 10-under 274 score. This falls well within the parameters of defending champion KJ Choi's winning 271 and 2005 victor Carl Pettersson whose 275 cashed the big check. The Copperhead Course has never played easily, nor will it ever.

Now, let's go to Bay Hill and the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Oops, that par 72 course you've been playing is just too easy boys; we're going to make it a par 70.

They dared to claim that Vijay Singh's winning minus-eight score proved how tough Bay Hill played. Hellloooo! Singh's 272 score for the championship was two strokes lower than Rod Pampling's in 2006. Tougher? Easier and the numbers prove it.

Everyone seems to be hung up on the under par number. Before TV coverage, this was never a factor. It took CBS golf producer Frank Chirkinian to devise the negative-plus system so viewers would know where everyone stood. The low score still won and the low score will always win. Oh, by the way, birdies sell tickets. They provide ratings. They do all sorts of good things. Golfers want to see birdies. They want to see the best at their best. They want one torture chamber a year for their heroes—the US Open and the PGA Tour doesn't run it. Let's hope they don't try.

Lorena Ochoa is poised to wrest the Best Woman Player in the World from Annika Sorenstam. She can do it with a win at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first LPGA major of the season. It's a pity that their marketing genius of a commissioner, Carolyn Bivens, doesn't get it yet. This is a showcase for woman's golf. There is one other event this weekend now that the Players Championship has moved and they have brackets in every office across America. There aren't any brackets or fantasy pools for the KNC. What are you doing knocking heads against the Final Four?

Missing from KNC this week is Michelle Wie, who is nursing a wrist injury. This could be the best injury she'll ever have. It gets her away from the game and maybe give her some perspective. Better yet, it might give her parents some perspective.

Reports are that thus far, Michelle is still on somewhat an even keel, but Mom and Pop are teetering. It seems their attitude at home doesn't have the natives welcoming them home with leis and alohas.

Word also has it that there's a couple who offered to share their home with the Wies during a previous KNC. The elder Wies wouldn't allow Michelle to mingle with the hosts and insisted that the hosts vacate so they could host a private dinner. When the home owners returned, not so much as a dish had been washed and they were left to pick up for themselves.

There's some installation of proper values in a child. Let’s hope Michelle avoids the trappings of celebrity as well as the Parent Trap.

All that Hawaiian chatter has worked up a thirst. How about a rum and pineapple juice? Hold the umbrella please.



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