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.



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