Tuesday, June 26, 2007

U.S. Open, Tiger's Cub

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks since we last chatted. An Argentinean won the US Open. Tiger and Elin had a cub. Phil and Michelle are on the DL and that old cutup John Daly was almost cut up.
First, it’s amazing that every once in a while golf provides the setting for a great story and few can match the US Open win by Angel Cabrera. Most Americans can only imagine what it was like for him as a youth. He had to quit school after elementary school to earn money to help feed the family. Golf is fortunate that he chose caddying as his work.
Granted, Cabrera had a lot of help along the way. Eduardo Romero helped back him financially when everyone noticed that he had undeniable ability. Romero was his guide when he first joined the European Tour. When Cabrera finished his fourth round of the U.S. Open, the first call he received was from Romero.
One of the first things you notice about Cabrera, right after the 397-yard drives, is his genuine humility. When he said he was humbled by winning the U.S. Open, you have to believe him. Hopefully, he’ll never change. Hopefully, he’ll go on to emulate one of his countrymen, Roberto DiVicenzo one of the greatest gentlemen ever to play golf.
Okay, call me a skeptic, a cynic, or whatever and I hope Sam Alexis Woods has a long, healthy life. God knows it will be prosperous. It seems a little strange to me that she wasn’t due until next month. Let’s see, what does Tiger have going on during the next month? There’s next week’s Buick Championship in Michigan. Tiger has a personal services contract with…Buick. What’s next? Oh, that’s right; Tiger has his own PGA Tour event in Washington D.C. during the first week in July that will benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation. This you’ll remember was supposed to be the week of the International, but Tiger single-handedly killed the tournament by refusing to play in it and thus making it impossible to get a corporate sponsor.
Then, of course comes the Open Championship, as in British Open where Tiger is the defending champion. As you can see, there was just so much to do and so little time to do these things. If you might want to deduce an inducement here, well, that’s up to you.
Philly Mick and the Big Wiesy have got to be careful. Hefty hurt his wrist in a practice round at Oakmont, a week prior to the Open. Then he tried to play. To his credit, he survived 36 holes and missed being invited back for the 37th by a shot. Instead of just walking away, he had to make one last comment.
He accused the USGA of trying to end his and other careers by making the rough so thick. Usually, I’m in Phil’s corner on a lot of things, but not this one. The plain truth is he shouldn’t have tried to play at all. As a result, he—not the USGA, placed his career in jeopardy. He’s been advised not to touch a club for at least two weeks. I’d be surprised if he returns to form this year. Now I guess I understand a little bit why he’s not the most popular player with his colleagues.
Wie has been the subject of blanket criticism for her quitting on the 16th hole in the opening round of the Ginn Invitational. She blamed her aching wrist. The truth is, if she shot 88, she couldn’t play any LPGA events for the rest of the year. She was definitely headed there. So, she quit.
Evidently, it was a short-term thing because she was on the range that weekend at the site of the McDonald’s Championship that she was in the following week. The truth is, the girl can’t break par and hasn’t for 28 rounds. At least she withdrew from the PGA Tour John Deere Classic citing a lack of strength in her wrists. This is the first smart thing Team Wie has done maybe ever.
File Hefty and the Brat under wrist-reward.
Trust me on this John Daly is a great guy. However, as Fuzzy Zoeller once said, “Find me the craziest woman in the world and I’ll introduce you to John’s next wife.”
This time, it’s dangerous. He got away with just having his face scratched. The next time, he just might get killed. JD isn’t going to practice celibacy anytime soon, but just maybe, he might be a tad selective. Cruising the psycho wards of America hasn’t worked out very well.
In honor of the new U.S. Open champion crack open a cold cerveza and say
Angel, salud y amor y tiempo para disfrutarlo.

See you on the first tee,

Jack O’Leary

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

PGA Tour schedule woes

The massive overhaul the boys in Ponte Vedra Beach gave the PGA Tour schedule is wreaking havoc for the tournament sponsors. Even Jack Nicklaus couldn’t entice Phil Mickelson to play in his Memorial Tournament. The Colonial drew two of the top 20; Jim Furyk (3) and Trevor Immelman (14) are it.
Originally, it was thought that the only casualty was going to be the International and their modified Stableford system that brought relief to the same old—same old. They folded their tent because they could never get Tiger Woods to play. The next day, the Tour awarded the AT&T Championship to Tiger, of all people. Imagine that!
Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem calling upon the wisdom of the ages lined up Fed Ex to sponsor a points race with a $10-million first prize. This is supposed to emulate NASCAR’s “Race to the Chase.” Thus far, no one’s buying it. The idea was to make the better players play more during the season. As the Tour has found out, the top players will never have to worry about making the final field, so they’re actually playing less. They’re saving themselves for the chase—a four tournament series where the player with the most points wins the $10M. Well, almost, you see; it’s a 10-year annuity of a million a year for a decade.
We think Rich Beem’s summation of the Fed Ex Cup says it all. “I really hope that someday a kid is standing over a putt on the practice green and says, ‘this one is for the Fed Ex Cup.’ I’ve got agree with Beemer.
By the way, if you said Tiger and Phil are one-two in the standings, I’ll bet a sleeve of scuffed range balls; you can’t tell me who ranks fourth as of 5-24-07. (Answer below).


It looks like the PGA Tour is turning into a cross between a reality show and a soap opera. It’s been a bad stretch for the Norman clan. First, eldest daughter Morgan-Leigh and Sergio Garcia ended their whirlwind romance. Then Greg and tennis great Chris Evert visited Splitsville as Greg claimed they were “just friends helping each other through a divorce.”

We remember when Greg was blown out of the 1986 PGA Championship when Bob Tway holed out from a greenside bunker on the 72nd hole. He had just recently cashed a huge check when Cobra was taken over by Acushnet (Titleist). When asked about how he felt with yet another disappointment, the reply was, “When you’ve got the $42M, you’ve got the $42M.”

Today he has more than doubled that amount (minus what ex-wife Laura was awarded). He doesn’t play much golf anymore, but he has his money to keep him warm.

Let’s see, Adam Scott is on the short list of tennis star Maria Sharapova. Judging by her picture spread in the SI swimsuit issue, too much of that stuff and he’ll never make a 3-foot putt again.

Evidently, the PGA Tour has been targeted by female tennis stars. If you follow Hank Kuehne during a round, say hello to Venus Williams. The long-hitting Texan and perhaps the most physically powerful female in tennis are an item. They could start a mixed doubles arm wrestling tournament—and win—hands down! (Ouch, I didn’t type that, did I?)

Who is Ryo Ishikawa and why would we care? Well, in the oft rain-delayed Munsingwear KSB Cup, Ishikawa San became the youngest winner on the Japanese men’s Tour. He fired 69-65 on Sunday for a one-stroke win. That’s not bad for lad who has spent 15 years, eight months on this planet. He beat out Seve Ballesteros by a mere four years and 11 months. Rumor has it that Seve has called for a ruling.

Here’s an interesting note on Jack Nicklaus. When asked if he had one round to play, which course would it be. Pebble Beach was the answer. When asked what his favorite courses to play in competition are, the answer was simple. “Augusta National and St. Andrews are tied, followed by Muirfield and Pinehurst No. 2,” answered the Golden Bear. Interesting, considering that Nicklaus has designed hundreds of courses himself. While there may be one or a dozen of his tracks that he has true affection for, he has more respect for the developers who shelled out a million-plus for one of his designs.

Imagine paying out seven figures to Nicklaus and he not thinking it was one of his favorites. Smart move; remember if anyone asks you about your favorite course, you’ll never go wrong with Pebble, Augusta and Pinehurst. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never played them, all that was asked was, what are your favorite courses? Your golf stud rating will soar!

Oh, who is fourth in the Fed Ex points race? Charles (don’t call me Thurston) Howell III


One last note. Word has it that Tiger has beseeched the powers that will run his AT&T Championship to cut back the numbers of amateurs in each Pro-Am group from four to three. At three grand a clip, that’s in the vicinity of $200,000 less for charity. This is a prime example of cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face since the Tiger Woods Foundation is a major beneficiary of the event.

Mr. Bartender, if you please mate, get me a nice bottle of Limestone Coast Shiraz from the Greg Norman Estates and pour me another. When you’ve got the vineyard—you’ve got the vineyard. Know what I mean.