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.


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