Friday, October 26, 2007

The Wonderful World of the Wies

You know what the best thing about the off season is going to be? We won’t have any new episodes of “The Wonderful World of the Wies.” This reality program is wrapping up its fifth season on our golf radar.

“The Wonderful World of the Wies” has taken us from watching with amazement as an absolutely phenomenal golf talent named Michelle has been misled to the point of abuse by dominating, meddlesome and manipulating parents. She went from almost making the cut in PGA Tour events and challenging in LPGA majors to a very amateurish 76.6 scoring average at the age of 18.

Like any successful TV show, the final 2007 episode will leave us hanging until the new season. In the finale, Michelle’s business manager Greg Nared left team Wie making it two managers in two years who couldn’t stand the situation. Teaching guru David Leadbetter hinted he might be next when he was quoted as saying, “it’s like rats leaving a sinking ship.”

Ostensibly, the now 18-year old Michelle is off to Stanford to live the life of a college freshman (you know, a real person). Then, in a twisted bit of intrigue, Mom and Dad leave Hawaii (much to the delight of many islanders) and move very close to Michelle’s Palo Alto, CA dorm. Just when you thought the young phenom was going to escape their clutches—THEY’RE BACK!

Now that the Sopranos are off the air, is their any doubt that “The Wonderful World of the Wies” is a mortal lock for multiple Emmys?

News Flash! Greg Norman takes over as Chairman of the Board of MacGregor. After making a sizeable investment in the company to become a large minority owner, Norman engineered a parlay of investors to run former CEO and 51 percent owner, Barry Schneider out of the company. They relieved him of his CEO duties and recently issued a statement that Schneider had left the company to “spend more time with his family and pursue other challenges.” Don’t you just love corporate America? Let’s lay some guilt on the kids for the old man being canned.

Norman refers to this coup as the biggest business deal of his life. That’s mind-boggling when you consider he recently signed over $250 million and a couple of houses in his divorce settlement. As one wag once said, “Why does a divorce cost so much? Because it’s worth it.” In this case it may be. The jury is definitely out on the MacGregor deal.

Just a suggestion, but it might be prudent for the company to lock the doors on their Albany, GA—based company on Sundays. The Chairman has made a few poor decisions on the Lord’s Day, if you know what I mean.

Who is the one person who can bring the Ryder Cup back to our shores? It’s Nick Faldo of course.

Faldo has done yeoman duty in trying to bury the “Nasty Nick” image. His TV work is tremendous, but once he drops his guard, the nastiness comes coursing back.

While captaining the Seve Cup on the European Tour, Faldo called out team member Colin Montgomerie for missing team meetings and said that the often churlish Scot had to be prodded to join his victorious teammates in celebration. Faldo took it one step farther and said that Monty is not a team player.

Hey Nick! In the first paragraph of Golf Team Captain 101, it says don’t piss off your best player. You made the US team’s day. For his entire Ryder Cup career, Monty has transformed himself from a hefty Clark Kent into a chubby Superman every other September. Monty—not you has been the backbone of the Euro’s success. Let’s hope the Earl of Surl festers over these remarks for the next year.

Of course, we could almost see this coming. Paul McGinley, who Faldo had hand picked to be his assistant, quit him in July without public explanation. Keep it up Nick.

Bartender, let me know if Norman expands his Scottish named empire and purchases a Scotch whiskey distillery. Climb up to that top shelf and get me a dram of Malvenie to toast the impending US Ryder Cup victory.

See you on the first tee.


Friday, October 5, 2007

Presidents Cup = Ryder Cup Lite

A post mortem about the Presidents Cup. Folks, it’s still Ryder Cup Lite. If the Ryder Cup is the Oscars, the Presidents Cup is the Golden Globe Awards. It’s pretty much a made-for-television event invented by the PGA Tour to showcase the globalization of the game as well as the dominance of the PGA Tour. (Well, the Euros aren’t invited, are they?)

Think about it, the two biggest stories out of the PC were Woody Austin taking a dive on the 14th hole and actually having a lot of fun with it. Trust me, if this was to take place next year at Valhalla there wouldn’t be as much as a grin and if he showed up the next day wearing a diving mask, we’d NEVER hear the end of it. However, at the good ole pc PC there’s grins and giggles.

This is not to disparage Austin’s play, or contributions to the winning effort. He played very well and even better at times. Yet, there are those who are publicly stating that Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger will have a tough time not making sure that Austin is a member of next year’s squad. HUH?

Beyond, Tiger, Phil and Furyk, is anyone ready to concede a spot to anyone? If Woody gets there, it will be because he earned it NEXT YEAR, not this year. Methinks some people who should know better got a little too friendly with the Labatts and Molson while in Montreal.
The other big story was Mike Weir battling Tiger in their final round singles match. A doff of the fedora to Weir for his tremendous effort. Not only did he take a lead, but he lost it and then regained it to win the match.

Taking great risk of sounding derogatory in regards to Weir, if this match had occurred next September in the Ryder Cup and Tiger’s opponent was, oh let’s say Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke or even Sergio Garcia (forget that, Sergio would have wilted on his own) that comeback never happens. Now that I reread it, that is a tad derogatory. Sorry Mike.

The nabobs of Augusta National have issued their changes to the course for the 2008 event.
Four holes have been altered in what seems to be an uncharacteristic softening of the fabled course. According to Masters Chairman Billy Payne the holes that have been changed are the 1st, 7th, 9th and 11th.

They’ve added 10-yards onto the front of the first tee. This will be critical if there’s a strong northeast wind. That yawning cavern of a bunker on the right side of the fairway is impossible to carry from the addition they added to the back a few years ago. They also eliminated some of that addition to give the, ahem, patrons more room to move.

They claim that it’s for agronomical reasons that they added six feet to the left side of the seventh green. The truth is that with the lengthening of the hole a few years ago coupled with a fairway so narrow that it takes the driver out of many hands, the green didn’t fit the hole. They’ve now added two or three new pin placements which the green needed.

Again citing agronomical reasons, they soften the right hand pin positions on the first and middle tiers of the ninth green. In the early 1980s, I saw Lee Trevino at the back right of the ninth green during a practice round. We were talking about the course and he asked do you know what’s wrong with this place? I’ll show you. He reached in his bag and got three balls. He placed them where he stood, took his putter and barely got the three rolling. He then turned and walked to the club house. The balls stopped 85-yards down the fairway.

The last change they made was to remove more trees from the left side of the 11th fairway. The stated reason is better sight lines for the patrons. Well, it has to help in that area, but historically the preferred way to play the hole is to the extreme right side. In fact, Ben Hogan used to say that if he hit the 11th green, he’d pulled the shot—badly. Now, the combatants might be able to use a little more of the traditional strategy. That is if any 500-yard-plus par 4 has a traditional strategy.

One final note. A quick perusal of revealed a story about Maria Hjorth denying Lorena Ochoa’s bid fourth a fourth straight win. Stories about the LPGA have shown up a little more frequently on this Web site.

I’m not saying this will happen, but it wouldn’t be a surprise either. Wouldn’t it make sense for the PGA Tour to take over the running of the tournaments from the LPGA? It would be a tremendous aid to the ladies organization. They would move from often scurrying to fill their tournament schedule to being under the umbrella of the most successful golf tournament organization in the world. The noted LPGA teaching program could be under the wing of the PGA of America bringing new, higher standards to that end of the industry.

Sorry, but I can’t let this idea go. It would be easier if former LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw did take a position as a special assistant to PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem.
Ah, as the golf season winds down, bartender pour me a LSD, that’s Lone Star Draught, a reasonable Texas brew. Maybe it will spark some interest in this week’s Valero Texas Open, but I doubt it.

See you on the first tee.