Friday, December 12, 2008

The golf off season ... no so fast!

I know this is the off season for golf, but this one has had a more activity than most in the recent past. There’s a new Ryder Cup captain, someone shot 59 in Q-School and Michelle Wie actually accomplished something.

First things first and that’s the announcement of new Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin. Huh? Let’s see. The players who were victorious in the Ryder Cup this year were vociferous in their support for the return of Paul Azinger as captain evidently had their pleas fall on deaf ears. Why mess with success? Azinger came up with a brilliant game plan, executed it and won. He would have gladly returned and wasn’t asked. Now we have Corey Pavin.

The worst thing about following a winner is you can’t win. There will be comparisons made and in the often unfair court of public opinion, Pavin is doomed to be found wanting.

As a player, Pavin has won 27 times worldwide including 15 times on the PGA Tour as well as the 1995 US Open at Shinnecock. He accomplished these admirable numbers while being arguably the shortest hitter on Tour and that includes you Fred Funk. In his prime, his short game was impeccable. His competitiveness was unmatched. Hell, for years I thought his name was Corey Pavin, the Gritty Bruin because that was what the TV guys always called him referring to his UCLA collegiate career.

That being said, he still shouldn’t be the Ryder Cup captain in 2010. In 2012? Sure, but not now. We know the players buy into Azinger’s pod system and will follow him through brick walls. Why put Pavin in a situation to fail? It doesn’t make any sense.


Harrison Frasar shot 59 at Q-School. Next you’ll be telling me elephants can fly. Maybe I missed something, but isn’t Q-School supposed to be golf’s ultimate throw up on your shoes event? It’s the tournament you don’t try to win. It’s the tournament you try not to lose. Finish in the top 25 (and ties) and you get your Tour card. Win and you get $50K. That’s tip money to these guys.

It used to be devastating if a player didn’t get playing status. Now they’re just playing for a working address. If a player doesn’t earn his PGA Tour card, he has a fall back position on the Nationwide Tour. Sure, it’s not going to allow him a million dollar year, but he’ll have a pretty good living sitting in front of him for the taking.

Congratulations to the 28 players who earned their playing privileges. Under today’s rules there are more players who finished in the top 150 on the money list last year who will get into 15-20 tournaments due to that status. Add up to seven sponsor exemptions and that’s a pretty full schedule. Sorry, I just can’t feel sorry anymore for the guys who don’t make the grade at Q-School.


After years of unfulfilled promise, Michelle Wie is about to pursue a professional golf career in earnest as she earned her playing privileges by surviving LPGA Q-School. Good for her. Providing that her parents stay out of the way, she’ll be a mega-star. Trust me the LPGA Tour doesn’t deserve this. First, they lose Annika Sorenstam and a month later they pick up a player who will keep the Tour in the news for years.

Wie already has a rivalry waiting with Morgan Pressel. Pressel has been outspoken about how Wie has had U.S Open invitations as well as other exemptions handed to her in the past. This rivalry has nasty potential and should be interesting for years. Pressel will be more frustrated when she realizes that Wie will have considerably more star power regardless of their playing records.


Just a couple of notes from the Del Webb Father/Son (in some cases daughter and grand son) Challenge. I ran into Lee Trevino outside the clubhouse at Champions Gate in Davenport, Fla. He was hobbling along and I asked if he had either hip or knee problems. “No,” he said, “I’m just practicing for when I do.”

I then asked how he was playing? “I’m hitting it so short, I can hear it land.”

I’ve known the man for 30-plus years. I’ve got to believe he stays awake at night dreaming up these lines.

Bartender pour a glass of champagne for Harry Frasar and Michele Wie and their other Q-School graduates. Add one for Corey Pavin. He’ll need it. There was a day when a scotch would be poured for Lee, but he said the morning he woke up and there was still ice in the glass, he decided to stop until his career is over. Put it on ice for a long time. He’ll never stop playing…and we’re better for it.

See you on the first tee.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Golf as an Olympic sport? Daly abroad

This past week the International Golf Federation made a formal proposal to the International Olympic Committee to reinstitute golf into the Olympic Games in 2016. Why?

Correct me if I’m wrong. We already have the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup. Throw in the annual World Cup and I think we have our bases covered. According to the IGF the game is played in approximately 120 countries. The game is expanded to the limit. Grow the game? I don’t foresee anyone in Rwanda dreaming of Olympic gold via the golf route. I do, however, see that same person in Rwanda dreaming of solid gold via the golf route.

Golf is now truly a global game, but is it an Olympic event? Think of it. How many Olympic events are called “games?” I play golf...okay not well, but do I consider myself to be participating in an athletic endeavor? Are you kidding? It’s purely recreational and that’s where it belongs. Golf is a recreational activity and not to be placed in the same category as a decathlon. Alright, I’ll give you synchronized swimming. By the same token, if you screw up there, you could drown. That isn’t going to happen in golf...Woody Austin aside.

It’s not like golf hasn’t been part of the Olympics before. In 1904 there were 77 competitors and only 73 of them were Americans. The rest were Canadians. One of them, George Lyon took the gold medal and earned a spot in the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.

Let’s face it; the Olympic golf is played every week. The best players from every country square off on professional tours around the world. Golf as an Olympic event would just be another tournament. The last thing we need is just another tournament.


Next week in Hong Kong, John Daly is making his season debut on the European Tour. As a former British Open champion he’s an automatic member. Seeing as how he’s pretty much worn out his welcome over here, Europe may be a viable option.

For the most part, it’s pretty difficult to get kicked out of Hooters and even more so when they’re supposed to be your sponsor. Yet, JD did just that and got locked up for the night. To date Hooters hasn’t ended his contract, but you can imagine they’d like him to go away. What better place to go than Europe?

Daly has proved that he can’t compete in the U.S. As big a draw as he still is on the PGA Tour, he’s proving to be more and more of a liability.

Maybe and it is a big maybe, he’ll find his game over there. However, that’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication. Unfortunately, those are two things he’s seemed to have avoided over the last five years. It might do the big guy well to stencil two words on his golf bag and to look at them often. Those words are LAST CHANCE, because that’s what it is. I have a terrible feeling that the next words we read about Daly are going to deal with a tragedy.

Bartender, on that happy note please pour me a tall, cold glass of Diet Coke. That’s the other fluid JD is addicted to.

See you on the first tee,


Friday, November 7, 2008

Miracles in the Children's Miracle Network Classic

It was appropriate that the field of the Children’s Miracle Network Classic, the final event on the PGA Tour schedule would include Erik Compton. No one personifies what kind of miracles can happen better than he.

As a teenager Compton required a heart transplant. He made it through and became one of the top junior golfers in the country. After a full and successful collegiate golf career, he followed his dream of becoming a professional golfer.

Like most pros, Compton started on the mini-tour circuit playing where and when he could. He was learning his trade and eventually made it to the Nationwide Tour. During a week off this past summer, he felt something wrong in his chest. Fortunately, he lives a short drive from his hospital in Miami. He drove himself to the hospital.

By the time he arrived, he knew something was really wrong and he was right. He was suffering a heart attack. It was quickly surmised that he needed another heart transplant. There was no choice. He successfully survived the procedure yet again. It happens, but usually the recipient walks on egg shells for the rest of his/her life. Erik Compton is hardly usual.

Six months later, he was healthy enough to accept a sponsor’s exemption into the classic. It was a different Compton this time around. When he was a kid, he was reluctant to speak about having had a heart transplant. He wanted to just be thought of as another golfer. He didn’t realize that he’d never be “just another golfer.”

Today, he’s a proud spokesman for organ donations and transplants. Thanks in part to the steadfastness of Casey Martin years ago when he took the PGA Tour to court for the right to ride a golf cart in tournament play, Compton just might yet realize his dream of playing golf at the highest level.

I think the only person who cares if he realizes his dream is Compton himself. Sometimes the glory is in the journey and not the destination. His effort and persistence is inspiring.


The PGA Tour has come up with yet another format for the FedEx Cup playoffs. The new plan calls for the season-long points will be reset and the top 125 point earners will play in the first event. That number is down from 144. The next week the top 90 players will be in the field—down from 120.

The third event will feature the remaining to 60 points down from 70. In the Tour Championship finale, the field will be cut to 30 again, but the points will be reset so everyone will have a chance to win. So, in other words, the first three weeks of the playoffs the strategy will be to play to not be eliminated. This could cause some very boring, close to the vest golf.

Even if it does, this seems to make more sense than anything else they’ve tried.


If Erik Compton hadn’t been in the field of the Children’s Miracle Network Classic, the story would have been the play of Jeff Overton. Less than a month ago, Overton underwent an emergency appendectomy and a week and a half later was back on Tour. Such is the life of a PGA Tour player who is on the top 125 money list bubble.

Granted the surgical procedure is a lot less invasive that it once was, but a week and a half? Also, there was one other issue. Because of drug testing, most pain killers are on the banned list, so Overton had to go cold turkey. Finally, he applied with the Tour for a waiver so he could take Percocet. Two days later the Tour granted the waiver. Little did they know that Overton had rolled the dice and took a chance that this wasn’t his week to be tested. As it turned out, he was right.

What this points out is the silliness of drug testing parameters. It wasn’t as if Overton was faking a problem. He had the surgery and I would imagine he was in pain. It should have been an automatic waiver from day one. Kudos for granting the waiver citing that they put a player’s health needs first. Just wondering why it was an issue in the first place.


Rumors that the Sergio Garcia, Morgan – Leigh Norman romance had landed in Splitsville were premature. She accompanied the Spaniard to China for the HSBC Championship. You don’t think she’s giving him putting lessons, do you? His turnaround with the flat stick has been amazing. I wonder that if this relationship continues to develop, Morgan – Leigh’s Dad Greg will insist the Sergio start playing MacGregor equipment?
Bartender, a magnum of your finest champagne, please, Let us raise a glass to Erik and Jeff for two very gutsy performances.

See you on the first tee,


Thursday, October 23, 2008

A trip around the golf world ...

Just some thoughts while contemplating the changes in the FedEx Cup qualifying system for the 2009 PGA Tour season.

The first thought I have about the FedEx points system is that it might be a moot point. The European PGA Tour has stolen some of the PGA Tour’s thunder with their Race to Dubai. The Euros (with help from the Dubai sheiks) have doubled up on the FedEx Cup by posting a $20 million bonus at the end. By the way, instead of the intricate points system trying to be employed on these shores, the Euros are relying on their Order of Merit (that’s money list). Gee, what a novel idea, but isn’t it too simple?

There’s an unwritten rule in professional golf. If you put $20 million on the table, they will come. The first player of note who said he’d adjust his schedule to attempt to qualify for Dubai was Phil Mickelson. Of course he said something about enhancing his career by becoming more of an international player. Right, and if someone would put up $30 million for a series on the moon, he’d play to enhance his career by becoming more of an intergalactic player.

The problem with being the first to admit he’s succumbed to the golden glow is you take the first hit. There will be others and you can count on it. The system works in favor of the players. The four WGC events count to the 12 event minimum as do the four majors. That leaves four appearances. Since the 2009 season begins in less than a month, look for some PGA Tour players to get a head start in the early part of the European schedule. Many of the Americans travel to Scotland to play the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond the week prior to the British Open, so in effect the PGA Tour members who could challenge in Dubai won’t have to alter their schedule that much. It should be interesting.


This week in the first two rounds of PGA Tour Q-School First Stage competition, Miami’s Erik Compton opened with a disappointing 76 and a 75. Maybe the scores aren’t great, but the effort is out of this world.

Five months ago, Compton underwent heart transplant surgery—his second. He has the spirit of a champion, maybe now he has the heart, or at least one that will last. Hopefully, Compton will be able to recharge his professional career which included a stint on the Nationwide Tour following a successful campaign on the Canadian Tour. Compton turned professional following a successful collegiate career at Georgia.

Will Compton finally realize his dream of making it to the PGA Tour? The odds say no, but I don’t think he reads the morning line. He’s a 28-year old golfer with his third heart. He’s been defying the odds since his first transplant at age 12. How can you tell him no.


This past year was supposedly going to be Annika Sorenstam’s “Retirement Tour.” Now, one of the greatest woman players of all time is hedging her bet. Sorenstam, who will marry in January, had planned to put her clubs into mothballs following a tournament in China. Now, she says she might just go into hiatus.

Her plans as far as marrying and starting a family remain in tact, but now she says that depending how she feels and her situations work out, she may consider a return. Normally, this corner would have untoward remarks about waffling like this. However, given the class and dignity she has brought to the game, we can only wish her the best.

Bartender, a glass of European red wine, perhaps an Italian vintage if you will. It appears I might be spending some time on the continent over the next year.

See you on the first tee,


Wednesday, October 15, 2008


It’s Wednesday Oct. 15, 2008. In a Madrid hospital, Seve Ballesteros is recovering from brain surgery to remove a tumor. You can count on two things on following a surgical procedure. The doctor never says anything other than surgery was successful and he/she never issues a specific time line for recovery.

Realizing this, we can only hope for a complete and speedy recovery for one of the most charismatic golfers of all time. Personally, I fondly remember the day Ballesteros was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Praise for how he won his first British Open championship by hitting a tournament-saving shot from a parking lot, how he almost singlehandedly raised the European Tour from the ashes, how he resurrected the Ryder Cup flowed like fine Spanish wine. I remember that day, but moreover I remember a day, or moreover a week in 1983.

It was March of ’83 and the place was the Sea Turtle Inn in Jacksonville Beach, Fla. It was Tuesday morning and I’d arrived at the hotel the previous evening after driving from 18 miles north of Boston over the weekend. Being that this was the first Tournament Players Championship that I covered, I was placed in the media hotel as far away from the course as possible.

That explained why I was there. I never found out why Seve was staying there. Regardless, as I entered the lobby that morning, the first person I recognized was Seve. He was pacing the lobby waiting for a courtesy car to pick him up and take him to the course. (This was before the players were issued cars to transport themselves). Since I was headed to the course, I introduced myself to the Spaniard and offered him a lift. With a perceptible sigh of relief, he accepted.

Due to traffic, it was a solid 30-minute ride to the TPC Sawgrass. During the ride, I found Seve to be humorous, charming and apparently a great guy. Then something happened. As I turned the corner to head up the road to the clubhouse, it felt as if the temperature in the car had dropped 20-degrees. I pulled up to the front of the clubhouse and as soon as I stopped, Seve bolted from the car. There wasn’t a “thanks for the ride” or even an acknowledgment that I was alive. He just got out and almost ran into the clubhouse. Okay, my ego didn’t demand any acknowledgment, but I thought it strange.

The next morning brought a close duplicate. I saw him in the lobby, offered a ride, was entertained on the ride and then it happened again. The guy who’d been in my car disappeared and was replaced by an iceberg. This time I asked what was up.

“I’m in my office now,” he said. “I wouldn’t come in the press room while you’re writing and bother you. I expect the same.”

I’d dealt with many professional athletes prior to that day and some of them more famous than Seve, but I’d never seen that level of intensity that could be turned on as quickly before or since. Since then, I’ve seen the jovial Seve and I’ve seen the other as well. To be honest, I prefer the former. I can say this. I’ve never seen an athlete who brings more to the table as far as determination to win.

Having said that should he bring that level of determination to his recovery program, he’ll be up and around in no time.

Bartender, a couple of tall, cool glasses of sangria for Seve and myself as I toast his health. Salud mi amigo, salud!

See you on the first tee,


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The value if The President's Cup

If you’ve ever wondered just how important assistant captains are in international matches, or how high the esteem is that the players on the PGA Tour hold for the Presidents Cup, Fred Couples has given you the answer to both questions.

All you ever have to know is that he named Michael Jordan as one of his assistant captains in next year’s President Cup joining Jay Haas. Michael Jordan? What happened? Was Brett Favre booked for that weekend? Did Manny Ramirez throw you over?

This is just the type of leadership that the US team doesn’t need and it’s the type of buzz that the Presidents Cup (better known as Ryder Cup Lite in this corner) certainly doesn’t need. The tremendous show that was the 2008 Ryder Cup did little to enhance interest in the second rate competition. Let’s face it, it’s tough enough to get the players to show up at the Ryder Cup and then to ask them to come back a year later for an event with less history and tradition is courting disaster.

Okay, there was a Presidents Cup in 2007. Who won? Where was it played? What do you remember most about the 2007 Presidents Cup?

The US won because they always win the Presidents Cup because any foreign devil that is eligible for the Ryder Cup can’t play in the Presidents Cup. That leaves a hand full of Aussies, a South African or two and maybe a Central or South American or three. Be sure to invite Mike Weir or Steve Ames from north of the border and round it off with the best Japan has to offer and you have a Presidents Cup team.

The 2007 Presidents Cup was played at the Royal Montreal Golf Club in Canada. As for what was the most memorable moment, there were only two to pick from. There was Woody Austin falling into the water while trying to hit a shot and there was Mike Weir pleasing the home crowd by beating Tiger Woods in a singles match. Trust me on this. Weir doesn’t beat Woods in a Ryder Cup match and no one would have even chuckled at Austin if he fell overboard at Valhalla last month.

The Presidents Cup is what it is, a nice little exhibition. Until it stands the test of time it will be little more than a way for the PGA Tour to throw a bone to their non-European members and make even more money for their coffers. Having said that, why do they have to stunt the growth by making a retired superstar who totes a single-digit handicap feel like one of the boys?


From the file of improbable stats come these beauties. This past season Tiger Woods won $5,775,000 in just six events. During his entire career, Jack Nicklaus won a TOTAL of $5,734,031. What does Anthony Kim, Brandt Jobe and Paul Goydos have in common. They all have won more money in their careers than Nicklaus. Finally, what do Tom Pernice, Jr., Kirk Triplett and Billy Andrade have in common? They’ve all won more than twice the money the Golden Bear won.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Will the economy crisis affect the Tours?

With financial institutions falling by the wayside on a daily basis, the entire country is in an upheaval. I realize this isn’t a political blog and we can all be thankful for that. However, this is a golf blog and mention of failing financial institutions is apropos in this instance.

A quick look at the PGA Tour schedule reveals 10 tournaments that have financial institutions as title sponsors. This number doesn’t include those that are sponsors on a lesser level. In a cliché, “Houston we have a problem.”

This number also doesn’t include the Champions and Nationwide tours who have a couple of title sponsors apiece. In fact, Bank of America that has sponsored a Champions Tour event in Massachusetts and is the longest running tournament (under different titles) on the elder bracket having been on the schedule since year one. They bailed out before this year’s event.

A quick look at the LPGA and the Duramed Futures schedules showed that they also have two financial title sponsors each. While we bet that in the past, they were disappointed that they only had two title sponsors from the financial community; today they must be breathing a sigh of relief.

The truth is title sponsorship carries an awesome fiduciary responsibility that far surpasses the purse. First and foremost, the title sponsor is most often responsible for the TV time. This means they either must fill the commercial time with their own commercials, or make sure the time is sold. In the past, this meant filling the weekend slots. Now, with The Golf Channel and others broadcasting the first two rounds, the financial responsibility has grown exponentially.

While the nuts and bolts of the bailout bill are being hammered out in Congress, you can be sure the midnight oil is being burned in Ponte Vedra and Daytona, Florida. It would be a shock if any of the financial institutions will have the nerve to retain sponsorship of a golf tournament. I think they’ll go the way of Ford, who sponsored the Players Championship on the Champions Tour as well as Doral on the PGA Tour. Not only did they drop those sponsorships, they pulled the plug on a very lucrative deal with Phil Mickelson when they started closing plants and laying off workers.

The cold hard facts are that these financial institutions will have a difficult time justifying these tremendous expenditures. If you couple that with a failing economy it’s obvious that the professional tours have a definite problem. Don’t be surprised if tournament schedules are a bit shorter next year.

The one thing the PGA Tours have going for them in this instance (and I hate to say it) is Commissioner Tim Finchem. If you find yourself in a political turmoil, you need a politician to get you out of it. Enter Timmie. In a past life, Finchem was a lobbyist on Capitol Hill. These skills alone may come in handy in preserving the schedule. However, I seriously wonder if he’ll be able to maintain the purse structure. It should be interesting.


Last weekend was the Tour Championship and the coronation of Vijay Singh as the King of the FedEx Cup and no one except Singh and his accountant and probably his caddie cared. Next year, there will be another version and another system. Maybe they’ll finally get it right if that is at all possible, but I really doubt it. The FedEx Cup was meant to mimic the NASCAR Race to the Chase. Thus far, it’s been nothing short of a monument to greed. It’s tough to justify a $10 million payoff with a faulty product. I would be shocked if FedEx renews the contract.

Unfortunately for the Tour, the FedEx contract expires the same time the current TV contract expires. Those could be dark days for the Tour.

Bartender, make my next one pure H2O straight from the tap. Times being as tough as they are, it’s time to tighten the purse strings you know.

See you on the first tee,


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I thought I'd seen it all in golf ...

I've been around this game for a while and I thought it was long enough to have seen about it all. I followed Jack Nicklaus on the back nine at Augusta National in the final round in 1986. To be honest, everything else has finished second to that. Now, everything else has been put down a notch to third and Jack, well he's currently the runner up.

I hope you all watched it and of course I'm talking about the Sunday singles matches in the Ryder Cup. In fact, the Ryder Cup as a whole was the ultimate in golf drama. Moreover, it wasn't just the drama; it was the incredible quality of the golf being played by both sides that made this the greatest golf show ever. It was absolutely riveting to the point of getting up to get a beer out of the fridge wasn't going to least until the next commercial.

There were a lot of things going on out there and not the least of which was the first declarative step to the changing of the guard in professional golf. For Europe, Darren Clarke and Colin Montgomery were sadly made redundant by the play of Ian Poulter and Paul Casey. Clarke may get back in two years, but Monty's next Ryder Cup appearance will be as the European captain in 2012, or 2014.

On the American side we watched the emergence of Anthony Kim and his play under pressure. As the first match out on Sunday against Sergio Garcia, he whipped the crowd into a frenzy that never subsided. Moreover, he made a veteran decision on the first hole. Both he and Garcia had short par putts for a halve. Knowing that Sergio's putting stroke deteriorates when he doesn't have a teammate and he has to be the man, Kim calmly told the Spaniard, "We'll be putting those today."

Garcia made that short one, but he missed a couple later in the match when it really counted.

To be honest, I thought Boo Weekley would contribute little more than taking the role as the team mascot. Sorry about that. It didn't matter that his Sunday opponent was Oliver Wilson. It could have been Nick Faldo in his prime and Boo would have beat him. When you post six birdies and an eagle in 16 holes, you're going to win that match.

Moreover, yes Weekley was the team mascot and provided comic relief to lift the tension, but he got into the European's heads. By the time he got to the first tee on Sunday, Lee Westwood was mush. He developed rabbit ears and heard every comment made and some that weren't. It rendered him useless. Weekley proved to be the perfect cheerleader and a great player.

I asked a friend of mine who is a sports agent what that week could mean to Boo's financial future and he said it would be as many millions as Boo was willing to earn. The opportunities are going to be there. If he's willing to forgo one hunting and one fishing trip a year, he will be a wealthy man. Good for him. The memory of him riding his driver like it was a stick horse off the first tee on Sunday will last a long time.

I asked this same agent about Kim and his thoughts were a little different than I expected. The agent felt that Kim is already on everyone's radar because you don't win at Quail Hollow and Congressional and not get noticed. However when his equipment contracts come up for renewal, companies will open the vault for him. Also look for a line of belt buckles bearing his name real soon.

Initially, I wasn't a real fan of the JB Holmes pick. In retrospect, it was great. A lasting memory will be how he played the 17th on Sunday. He swung so hard at his drive that he almost fell over. All he did was hit it 372 yards uphill in the middle of the fairway. Then he defied the odds by nestling a 76-yard 64-degree wedge shot 20-inches from the hole. The cameras showed him gasping for air as he waited to putt. It must have been like trying to roll a bowling ball into a thimble when he stood over that putt, but he made it. That experience should be a major stepping-stone for the young Kentuckian.

Speaking of Kentuckians, it was a great week for Kenny Perry. On Sunday he birdied four of the first six holes to take a commanding lead he never relinquished. It was a reward for the determination and hard work that got him to Valhalla.

This victorious Ryder Cup team was also identified by a player who wasn't there as they were by those who were. It will be interesting if this will have any effect on Tiger Woods' legacy. It would be hard to imagine it would, but I've already heard the rumblings. Maybe the next captain will keep Woods out until Sunday. They can't find a partner for him, so why fight it? Let Tiger fly into Wales on Saturday in two years. Let these guys put him in position.

Speaking of captains, Azinger was brilliant in his choices and his matchmaking. Considering the emotion and time he put into this team, it would be difficult to ask him to do it again, but the question has to be asked. In his post match press conference he said that he'll tell what he did and why, but that it would be at some other time and he couldn't say when.

Now that the Ryder Cup is relevant again in the US, maybe people will become more interested in the game. A day like Sunday can have an incredible impact on the entire industry. Let's hope the industry seizes the opportunity.

Bartender, bottles of champagne for the troops and a magnum for the captain. Me? Give me a bottle of your cheapest bubbly. I'm not going to drink it, I'm just going to douse the new golf heroes. I've been in champion's locker rooms where they done it and it looks like a blast.

See you on the first tee,


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Azinger -- "I did it my way ..."

Frank Sinatra would be proud of Paul Azinger. He made his captain’s picks for the U.S. Ryder Cup team and should they should go down in flames at Valhalla, he can always say “I did it my way.”

One of the major criticisms of American teams of recent vintage has been the overall lack of clutch putting. So, with this in mind, Azinger opted for Hunter Mahan, JB Holmes, Chad Campbell and Steve Stricker. As he named his picks he qualified them as tremendous ball strikers; never was there a mention of their putting prowess. With the exception of Stricker, there was a reason for this. They are, ahem, tremendous ball strikers.

Now, in fairness, it must be said that Mahan can get white hot and shoot 62 in any given round. However, don’t ask him to back it up in the next round. He’s recently shown a proclivity to be consistently inconsistent. I don’t think this is what ‘Zinger wants. It’s certainly not what he needs.

Is it just me, or do a lot of people question the putting prowess of anyone who uses a belly putter, ala Holmes. Sure, he’ll hit the ball to places no other human can reach, although at times he’ll put his ball in places no one wants to reach. This may intimidate one or two players, but he’ll have a tough time getting any opponent to concede him a putt once he takes that bad boy out of the bag. No one and I mean no one uses an elongated putter as a first choice. It makes the bag because of an affliction. I can’t see the pressure cooker that is the Ryder Cup smoothing out any putting strokes.

I would think the aforementioned Stricker will give a good accounting of himself. Although he’s a Ryder Cup rookie, he has acquitted himself well in a couple of President Cups, aka Ryder Cup Light. He has the all around game to bring the consistency that’s needed for success.

The real wild card in the mix is Campbell. He finished 20th on the points list. He has Ryder Cup experience; however it’s been on teams that have lost by record margins. He has a pair of top ten finishes in his last four tournaments, but he hasn’t challenged for the lead. It’s usually the early Sunday morning 66 that gives him his T7 finish. At this stage in his career, the word “underachiever” is used more and more when describing Campbell. He hasn’t reached Davis Love III proportions yet, but he’s farther along that trail than he should be. He’s finding that being born under the sign of Potential isn’t always the easiest way to go through life.

When you look at the 12-man lineup Azinger will bring to Kentucky, you can almost see the remake of the movie Dirty Dozen unfolding. There’s not a superstar in the bunch, save for perhaps Phil Mickelson. It has a B movie feel to it, but with solid actors capable of giving a solid performance.

In order for this blue collar bunch to succeed at least three players are going to have to have to play totally out of their gourds and I don’t know if there are three capable of stepping out of the shadows and into the limelight. I could be wrong, but I really don’t think so.

Bartender, a bourbon and branch water if you please and make sure it’s Kentucky bourbon of course,

See you on the first tee.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pick 4 not a safe bet!

You’re Paul Azinger and you weren’t careful about what you wished for, were you? You accepted the post of Ryder Cup captain only after the PGA of America acquiesced to your demands. You wanted four captain’s picks instead of two. Well, now you’ve got them, what are you going to do with them?

You’ve already had Phil Mickelson, Stewart Cink, Kenny Perry, Jim Furyk, Anthony Kim, Justin Leonard, Ben Curtis and Boo Weekley make the team on points. Some might say that with three Ryder Cup rookies in Kim, Curtis and Weekley and one with only one appearance (Perry) that you’re a little thin in experience. Given the recent success of the “veterans,” how could that be a bad thing?

Besides, bringing the newbies to Valhalla will be a good attitude adjustment. They’ll be so excited that they won’t notice how unpleasant this track situated in the rolling hills outside of Louisville, Ky. really is. The fact that the PGA of America is part owner of the course explains why this strange selection and why it’s been the stage of two PGA Championships. Other than that, you wouldn’t have a dog race there.

To date, you haven’t been holding your cards too close to the vest, oh captain, my captain. You’ve openly waxed poetic about the power and intimidation power hitters such as J.B. Holmes and Bubba Watson bring to the table. The problem is, they’re ranked 17th and 26th respectively. Also, you’d have to pass by players like Steve Stricker, Hunter Mahan, Brandt Snedeker and crowd favorite Rocco Mediate. I don’t know about that.

Granted, Holmes also meets your criteria of having won this year (Phoenix), but he has a few other assets as well. Imagine sending out your first match with a team of Perry and Holmes, a pair of Kentuckians to rile up the crowd. Add in a mint julep or four in the crowd and there will be some real excitement.

In addition, Holmes will serve another purpose. His lava-esque pace of play may just destroy opponent’s concentration and hopefully not his partner’s. I think Holmes should be the power pick as Watson seems to be blossoming into the Earl of Surl on the PGA Tour and his attitude wouldn’t be a major contribution to the overall chemistry of the squad.

If you go strictly by the numbers, Stricker, Woody Austin, D. J. Trahan and Mahan will be on the team. But why would you do that, when you lobbied for four picks.

You’ve said that you’re open to pick a player who is playing well at decision time. I defy you to find one. Leader boards have been saturated with names of players either ineligible to play in the event due to birth place, or worse yet, players on the other side. Let’s face it, even the players you’ve been who have made the team aren’t lighting it up.

You’ll have the distinct opportunity to enter the matches as a betting underdog, an honor rarely accorded to American captains. As you will find, it’s a well deserved distinction. Unfortunately, instead of studying the on course chemistry of the team during practice rounds, you may have to be teaching a course on the vagaries of match play. That is, unless Weekley has been taking tutelage on his own. In the Accenture Match Play Championship this year, Boo didn’t understand the concept of a conceded putt and had to be taught by his opponent during a match.

Zinger, you’ve won a major championship, you’ve successfully represented the U.S. in this wonderful event. The question begs to be asked, why did get yourself in this position?

Bartender, pour me a dram of Kentucky’s finest brown liquor and leave the bottle for Captain Azinger. He’s going to need it. By the way, P.A.—Stricker, Mahan, Holmes and O’Hair isn’t the name of a Louisville accounting firm, but they are four golfers who can give a good account of themselves at Valhalla.

See you on the first tee.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Angry Golfer says *** NO *** asterisks

I’ve got to admit that I’m getting pretty damned tired of hearing all this talk about putting asterisk next to Padraig Harrington’s name when listing his British Open and PGA Championship titles this year because those majors were Tigerless. Please show me the written guarantee that Woods would have won, or that he would have been in the mix in the final round. It was never etched in stone.

Having said that, would you ever imagine putting an asterisk next to Tiger’s name in a Major where Harrington wasn’t in the field? Of course not, both scenarios are ludicrous.

One thing that isn’t ludicrous is wondering how much of a factor Woods will be when he returns. Last reports are that he won’t even consider swinging a club until 2009. He’s planning his return at the 2009 Masters. Will he be a factor then? If anyone could be under those circumstances, it would be Tiger, but common sense today says bet on the Irish kid to be wearin’ of the green…jacket that is next April.

The golf world, most notably TV and the PGA Tour must consider the unthinkable. Tiger Woods may return as a mortal golfer. Knees aren’t constructed to withstand the pressure he puts on BOTH of knees in his current swing. The swing has to change. Sure he’s changed his swing before, but the changes were always to add power, not protect his body.

Tiger will always be a great golfer. He has the credentials already that have already cemented his place in golf history. Hopefully, we won’t look back at the 2008 U.S. Open and wonder what he could have been if it hadn’t have been for that knee.


In the past this corner has been somewhat critical of Sergio Garcia and his attitude. He has placed blame for his shortcomings in Majors on everyone but the locker room attendant. Following his runner up finish in the PGA Championship to the aforementioned Harrington, Sergio took full responsibility for his failings.
Normally, we could have counted on him blaming the terrible second shot he hit on the 16th in the final round that crossed the hazard then backed up into the water on any number of things, i.e. poor course setup, a sudden gale in his face, or the ever popular the gallery was against me. Instead, he admitted that he hit a poor shot.
That’s a start. He’s now closer than ever to having a winning attitude needed to succeed in Major championships. Unfortunately, he still can’t putt well enough to win a Major. By the way, I have a long standing rule. If a Major is won by a player using either a long putter or a belly putter, that tournament is no longer considered a Major. Both those style putters are a form of cheating. The only thing that should touch a club is the player’s hands and those hands shouldn’t be anchored by the torso.


Pardon me while I legend drop. I happened to bump into Jack Nicklaus at a function earlier this week and an old subject that we were polarized on was recalled. A decade ago, Jack spoke fervently about the need for the golf ball to be rolled back so that it wouldn’t go as far.

I was adamant that the longer ball was good for the overall game because the longer ball made the game more fun and would help keep people in the game. Ten years ago, I wasn’t totally wrong. Today, ah, mea culpa greatest golfer of all time.
“I could see where it was going and today we’re almost there,” Nicklaus said. “Yesterday, my son Michael, who doesn’t play very much, but hits it nine miles, told me he played a 537-yard par 4 and hated the fact he had to hit a 7-iron for his second shot. That’s not golf.

“The new ball of today doesn’t help the average golfer,” he continued. “If you have a swing speed of 110 miles an hour, you become a better player than you really are. If you don’t have that swing, the ball hurts your chances.”

He’s right. The super balls are for super swing speeds only. The rest of us are left to live with our shortcomings. The moral of the story is, never argue with the greatest golfer of all time (although it was fun being a little burr under his saddle for a little while even if he really didn’t notice).

Bartender, throw some crow into the blender, puree it and I’ll have it on the rocks with water on the side.

See you on the first tee,


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Giving Norman his props

At the risk of sounding hypocritical because I have taken the occasional cheap shot at Greg Norman for all his opulence and sometimes gaudy display of his wealth as well as his proclivity for finding disaster at the most inopportune times, I have to be fair.

Fairness dictates that we tip our tam to the man from down under for one of the most amazing feats in golf since maybe ever. In the space of three continuous weeks, Norman finished T3 in the British Open, T5 in the British Senior Open and a solo 4th in the U.S. senior Open.

For you naysayers out there and I know who you are (you’re people like me), who will criticize the now Great Gray Shark for not winning when he obviously had three chances, there were a lot of factors at work out there.

First, Norman is 53-years old and even if he was more than an occasional part time player, he should never venture onto the PGA Tour. He proved that in the three Tour events he played earlier in the year when he failed to make the cut at Pebble Beach, Atlanta and the Mexican event which was a minor tournament played opposite a WGC event.

Second, until the three aforementioned events, Norman hadn’t competed at all for almost to years. He’d spent more time on the operating table repaying the physical debt with surgery to his shoulder and hip. He also was very far removed from giving anymore than cursory attention to the playing of golf. He had morphed into the undoubtedly most successful professional golfer-turned businessman in history. He has the responsibility of running MacGregor, The Greg Norman apparel line, Greg Norman Estates winery, Greg Norman Golf Course Design and a few other companies as well. With all of this, when would he play golf?

Given the above schedule and let’s throw in an unpleasant divorce that was more public than he wanted and a recent wedding to Chris Evert, he somehow returned from total golf inactivity to have the mental strength and concentration to deal with three Majors in three weeks and compete so well.

The TV commentators, practicing amateur psychology as they usually do, credited Mrs. Norman, nee Evert for Norman’s calmer demeanor without sacrifice of concentration. If that’s the case, ladies I’m available. Maybe then I could tone it down to a Type B personality and people would marvel at my confidant stride instead of referring to my gait as a controlled stumble. Watch out golf world, Jack is coming back.

The truth is, for a wonderful three week stretch we were reminded of what a great player Greg Norman was. We were reminded that he is still one of the most charismatic golfers we’ve ever seen. We also were given a chance to wonder, could he? And we know that we haven’t received an answer. The best of all is we get to see him at the Masters again, the stage where he suffered so many tragedies. Could he? Can he? Would he? We’ll have the chance to find out and let’s face it, we can’t wait.


Let’s take a quick look at the PGA Championship. Phil Mickelson has spent a lot of time working on keeping his driver in play. Last week, he kept it in check until he needed it and blew it out of play on the last two holes. Perhaps a better strategy like using a 3-wood might have made a difference. Unfortunately, he’s let work on his short game suffer. However that will come back.
I like Lefty this week without the shadow of Tiger. His mistakes won’t be so damaging.

Vijay Singh won last week. The record shows he’s never won a Major using his belly putter. The greens at Oakland Hills are a lot more severe than at Firestone. I don’t like the Fijian this week. To be honest, I never like him any week.

Kenny Perry is the anti-Major man having refused to play both the US and British Opens. Some guys win championships, some win tournaments. He did come close to winning the PGA Championship when he lost the PGA Championship in a playoff to Mark Brooks. He’ll hang in, but win? I doubt it.

Lee Westwood has found his game again and has been a factor in majors this year. If gets over the hump and makes the big putt at the big time, the Wannamaker Trophy could be heading across the Atlantic.

Jim Furyk is always hanging around the top of the leader board in Majors. However, he has had an uncharacteristically poor putting year. If he can find the magic wand, he will be a threat.

Bartender, please poor me a large tumbler of whatever will get the taste of the milk of human kindness out of my mouth. I will then raise the glass and toast Greg for reminding me what a great golfer he has been for so long. Yecch, can we get to next week—fast.

See you on the first tee.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

LPGA stars slam Wie, Norman takes a break

I hate to repeat subjects, but sometimes they just won’t go away. This week instead of Greg and Michelle it’s going to be Michelle and Greg.

Until this week, LPGA stars have been mum when discussing Michelle Wie. You know, it’s the old deals that if you can’t say something nice about someone, say nothing at all. This week at the Women’s British Open the gloves came off with a vengeance. Perhaps if it was a Jong, Lee, or any of the non-English speaking golfers who have won this season, it might have been dismissed, but that’s not the case.

Stepping into the ring this week was Annika Sorenstam, Helen Alfredsson and Paula Creamer.

A composite of their reaction includes, “This is a major for us and she should have been here qualifying instead of accepting an invitation to play against the men.”

“She’s got to concentrate on playing on the LPGA Tour. She has the talent, but she’s not going to develop it playing on the PGA Tour.”

“This sounds like her parents meddling again. She has to find someone to rely on and who is looking out for her best interests.”

The remarks aren’t just damning on their own, but are magnified by who is saying them. These three represent a powerful cross section of the LPGA. Let’s just say that when the day comes that Wie decides, or is allowed to sample reality and try to be the best player on the LPGA, she won’t be welcomed with open arms. No one needs the animosity. She may be strong, but no one’s that strong. It’s a tough job out there and team Wie has just made it tougher.

By the way, in the article that we’ve randomly quoted here, it was mentioned that Michelle’s parents are managing her career. First, when they decided to get her an agent, they went to the Morris Agency and because they wanted to earn an entrée into golf, were willing to give the Wies a heavily discounted representation deal. They first tried IMG, but they wanted to actually be paid. The elder Wies thought that just having the honor of handling Michelle’s career was payment enough. Yeah, right.

As a result, the first person assigned to the Wies resigned out of frustration in dealing with the elders. As did the second, etc. Realizing that no one was going to fit the pro forma they’re looking for have taken the reigns themselves. Unfortunately, watching a career plummet to the depths of hell isn’t attractive.

At age 13, Michelle is wonderful story as she tried to make the cut at the Sony Open. At age 18 trying to make the cut at the Reno Tahoe Open is a stale story. It’s not a big deal anymore as Michelle is on the border of irrelevance. Someone whose expertise is resurrecting careers could reverse this. Instead, she’d being guided by people whose only expertise shown thus far is ruining them.

Greg Norman refused an invitation to play in the PGA Championship. Good for him. Norman is a part-time senior golfer. He knows what he can and can’t do. His remarkable run at the Open Championship and strong finish at the British Senior Open are enough for a while.

Norman says he’s tired and also has a lot of business situations that have to be tended to. You’ve got to believe him on all counts. He says he’ll play in the U.S. Senior Open. He hasn’t ruled out a return to the Masters next year and who could blame him if accepts the invitation.

Although the added length to Augusta National might not work in Greg’s favor, no one has had as much heartbreak at any one tournament. Although premature, we’re wondering which would be the least tasteful scenario. Greg miraculously is given three doses of water from the fountain of youth. As in the past he needed four and shoots 76 on Sunday to finish second by two shots. Of course he bogeyed 17 and 18 on Sunday.

The other is that he plays to his age and shoots a pair of 78s and vows never to return the former nursery.

In truth, it would be great just to see him roam the fairways with his swashbuckling swagger again. Like Greg or not, no one in the history of golf can buckle his swash as he does.

Hopefully, this is the last we’ll hear from Michelle and Greg for awhile.

Bartender, pour three tumblers of Red Bull please. The two for Greg and I should be self-explaining. We’re old. As for Michelle, hopefully it will give her the energy to put her foot down and make her own decisions before her career ends up in an abyss.

See you on the first tee,


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Two sides of Greg Norman

For three days we were amazed. Greg Norman was leading the British Open. No sir! This was certainly not the old Greg Norman. It was just a Greg Norman who was older and it appeared wiser as well. The 35 mile per hour winds weren’t gnawing away at his psyche as it appeared was happening to his younger competitors.

Norman’s ball striking was superb. The distance control of his iron shots to greens defied the laws of nature. To say he was putting on a clinic was like saying Van Gogh could draw. The closest a word came to describing his first 54 holes was brilliant. Moreover, the simmering intensity over every shot, long a Norman trademark was gone. He appeared to be a man at peace with himself and the world.

Broadcasters credited his new wife, Chris Evert, for being the calming influence in his life. All the while Norman kept saying he had extremely low expectations of himself. After all, he kept reminding us, he is a part time golfer now. We didn’t want to hear that, never mind believe it. We wanted just one more round. We wanted him to hold it together for just 18 more holes. We wanted him to remember that pars were his best friends. Mistakes were for the younger, less experienced players. Greg just had to grind for 18 holes and then present Chrissie with the Claret Jug.

We forgot who were talking about here. After all it was a Sunday and it was a Major Championship. We forgot that this was a man who in 1986 led all four Majors after the third round and won just The Open Championship. We forgot that this is a man who extracted greatness from his opponents in these situations ala Larry Mize, Bob Tway and Raymond Floyd and if the field wasn’t equal to the task, Norman would melt down on his own.

For some unknown reason, that Greg Norman appeared on the first tee at Royal Birkdale on Sunday. On a day, when par was his best friend, Norman courted birdies and was rebuffed. When a long iron from the tee was the play; out came the driver followed shortly by a bogey. Maybe it’s the Sunday thing. The Bible says, “On the seventh day, God rested.” Evidently so does Norman’s head. At least this time, you can’t say he choked again because there aren’t any other 53-year old men who could have gotten in the position.

In the end, the right player won. Padraig Harrington outplayed and out thought all the rest to become the 13th player to win back-to-back Open Championships and the first European since James Braid in 1905-06.


Unfortunately, another all too familiar story unraveled this past week when Michelle Wie was disqualified for not signing her scorecard before leaving the scoring area after her second round. I know that it’s ultimately the responsibility of the player, but in this instance I’m not going to hang it on her.

This one hangs around the collective neck of those little cutups from Daytona, Fla.—the LPGA. What were they thinking? On the PGA Tour they ask players not to leave until the scorer checks the card for two signatures. It’s a common courtesy that the LPGA probably has never heard. Then to top it off, they don’t tell Wie until after the third round when she had played her way to second place! I ask again, what were they thinking?

All it cost her was a chance to make enough money to avoid tour school in the Fall. If she maintained her position in the final round, she would have made it.

Evidently, her parents aka The Parents from Hell took the financial loss to heart because it was announced at the start of the week that Michelle is playing in another PGA Tour event at the Reno – Tahoe Open. When will they ever learn?

Bartender, please look in the wine cellar for a decent wine of a 1986 vintage for Greg and please pour two glasses of water for TPfH to wash down their stupid pills.

See you on the first tee!


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The British Open - "Champion Golfer of the Year"

This Week we’ll find out if there really is “Life Without Tiger” as the British Open, or the Open Championship as the Brits haughtily call it becomes the first Major Championship sans Tiger since Woods started his professional career.

Trust me on this, the tournament will be played. It will last a minimum of 72 holes and the player with the lowest score will be declared the “Champion Golfer of the Year.” The only difference there is that it’s guaranteed the winner won’t be Tiger.

There has been some bollix (a British term roughly translated as BS) about putting an asterisk beside the winner’s name because Woods is in absentia. That is truly bollix. The winner is the winner—period. His accomplishment is no less than if Tiger was in the field.

A quick visit to, the official bookie of the PGA European Tour has installed Sergio Garcia as a 12/1 favorite followed by Ernie Els at 16/1. Personally, I’d put a bob or two on Ernie way before I’d think about Sergio. The Spaniard’s melt down at last year’s Open is too fresh in my mind to even think about him. Rounding out the Top 10 and ties, Lee Westwood and Phil Mickelson are 20/1 Geoff Ogilvy, Jim Furyk and defending champion Padraig Harrington are installed at 25/1. Adam Scott, Justin Rose, Stewart Cink and Vijay Singh at 33/1 round it out.

Westwood is making a nice comeback, but his putting might get shaky in the clutch. Mickelson hits the ball too high for a true links course. There’s just too much wind. Out of the rest of the Top 10 the names that stand out are Ogilvy and Rose. Ogilvy can usually be found hanging around the lead in a Major and Rose has matured into a fine player in his own right. Also, as a teenager Rose exploded on the world golf scene in the Open on Royal Birkdale 10 years ago finishing fourth.

There were some interesting odds posted. Greg Norman and John Daly are 500/1 which is better than Mark O’Meara’s 1,000/1. Rocco Mediate the hero of the U.S. Open is a 200/1 pick. Watch for Miguel Angel Jimenez at 40/1. The Tour’s new glory guy Anthony Kim at 50/1 is a bit over valued. He may have the game, but he doesn’t have the experience. Boo Weekley and Camilo Villegas are teeing off at 100/1.

Regardless of who wins, he deserves it whether Tiger is there or not.


The New York Times ran a story this week about how much cheating goes on in golf. It didn’t focus on professional golf, but by the rank and file average golfers. They said that most of it is changing the lie from bad to good. They’re probably right. The USGA and the R&A could alleviate this problem with just one rule. DON’T TOUCH THE BALL. Think about it if the only times you touch the ball are to tee it up and clean it on the green, everything else is simple. If you do touch the ball, it’s a two stroke penalty. It eliminates any misunderstandings.

While they’re at it, there are a couple of other changes that should be made. Stroke and distance is double jeopardy. When a ball is hit out of bounds the golfer should be able to drop a ball within two club lengths from the spot the ball crossed the out of bounds marker and penalized one stroke. The same goes for a lost ball. Once it is agreed by all players in the group where the general area a ball was lost, the player who lost the ball should be able to drop a ball with a one stroke penalty. I think this is fair and I know it would cut down the time it takes to play a round.

I would like to think that most golfers follow the rules. In truth, the rules help the golfer more than they hurt him. Follow the rules and maintain your integrity. Bend them and lose it.

Bartender a pint of Watneys if you please, it’s British Open week and one must have a pint of British ale to get in the mood for the proceedings.


See you on the first tee.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The wonderful world of drug testing

Welcome to the wonderful world of drug testing. In knee jerk reaction to the misconduct of athletes in other sports, the ruling class of the PGA Tour, the European Tour and the LPGA Tour decided that golf needed to show the world just how clean professional golf is.

What they produced was a bad joke. If any of these guys or ladies walks the aisles of Walgreens and CVS they’re liable to be suspended. It appears that if a professional golfer takes ANYTHING that relieves in any measure an ache or a pain, they’re going to get some time out.

If you’re wondering if the U.S. Open had been played this weekend instead of Father’s Day weekend, would Tiger Woods have been disqualified? If it was his week to be randomly tested, he would. Realistically, they wouldn’t even think of testing him on a week like that—no matter how obvious it was that he was taking something. Remember, there are rules for the rank and file of the PGA Tour and then there are rules for Tiger and they’re not very similar. Before you raise your indignity level, it’s called self preservation.

As we are seeing now, the PGA Tour is paying the price the NBA did when they built the league around Michael Jordan and he retired. The league floundered for a few years and is just now on the road to recovery, but did they learn from their mistake? I give you LeBron James.

Just a couple of weeks of the World Without Tiger and the PGA Tour is churning the PR mill and the world has been presented with 22-year old Anthony Kim as the heir apparent. Don’t get me wrong, Kim is a nice player with a tremendous upside, but he’s just 22. At 22, young adults are still making poor decisions. For instance, I got married at 22 and that was at least 30 years too soon. You still have to file Kim and his two wins this year under “potential.”

There are other players who could carry the load until Tiger returns, but unfortunately, they’re on the shelf as well and as of July 1st that was the Tour’s fault. Wouldn’t you think that Vijay Singh might want to take some anti-inflammatory medicine for his myriad of muscular ailments? Adam Scott might want to take the edge off the discomfort he has in the slight break in his right hand, but he can’t even think about it. There are others who are hobbled and could have helped themselves, but will have to weather the storm cold turkey costing them money and quality golf.

I know that part of golf is focus and stamina, but somewhere common sense has to be acknowledged. The people at the Titleist Performance Institute regarded as the best golf fitness group in the business thinks this policy to be ridiculous citing that there are no steroids or human growth hormones that could help a golfer. In fact, any effect would probably be counterproductive.

This is just a façade for the real purpose of the drug test. By “joining” the other sports in keeping their game clean, Timmie Finchem and the boys can go to the International Olympic Committee with a proposal to put golf into the summer Olympics in four years.

Me? I go along with the European Tour executive who said, “We really only have to test one player, don’t we? If he’s not using anything, what difference will it make with the rest.”

Bartender, please pour me a whiskey and water and hold the whiskey. I don’t want to chance Timmie taking my laptop away for violating any of his foolish tests.

See you on the first tee.


Monday, July 7, 2008

Take a trip around the golf world ...

Let’s take a little tour around the world of golf while we await the British Open Championship or The Open Championship as the Brits refer to it. I wonder if we can withstand a Tigerless major. Trust me, all is not lost. Golf will survive even if the golfer formally known as Eldrick doesn’t return until the 2009 Masters.

News item. Chris Evert and Greg Norman swap I do’s on a beach in the Bahamas. Cost of the Saturday night wedding was reportedly in the $2 million range. It was the third for the tennis great who has been known to the public as Chris Evert-Lloyd and Chris Evert-Mills and the second for the swashbuckling Norman. I’m thinking this time it’s not going to be Chris Evert-Norman. In a battle of egos, I’m always picking the Aussie.

However, in a report on the nuptials, it was reported that the two combined for 20 major titles. That was 18 for Chris and a scant pair for Greg. That’s always a boost in confidence for a guy over 50 on his wedding night. I can just imagine the pillow talk.

“Gee Greg, I remember all those final round matches at the U.S. Open and Wimbledon where I felt the pressure of the whole world of tennis on me and how great it felt to not only survive that pressure but prevail!” Chrissie might have said. “Yeah Chris, I certainly remember my Open Championships. It was great; here I was a guy from a country they regard as a prison colony winning their Claret Jug … not once but twice dear … very nice.”

Then Chris comes back with, “so Greg dear, I always heard that the Masters should have been your playground, er what happened there? Wasn’t there something about a meltdown against Nick Faldo? Then there was the 1986 PGA at Inverness when Bob Tway. That was his name wasn’t it? Oh, that Robert Gamez thing at Bay Hill, holing out for an eagle to rob you of another title, but that wasn’t a major, honey.”

I’m thinking Greg wins the battle of the names. When it comes to success on Sunday afternoon, ah not so much. I hope Saturday night was better mate. You don’t have the best track record on Sundays.


Inbee Park, at the age of 19 becomes the youngest winner in history of the Women’s U.S. Open. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? It’s a great story, a 19-year-old winning and all. It sucks for women’s golf in the U.S. Now this kid might be charming and all, but her victory is injurious to the LPGA Tour.

South Korea is developing these female golf automatons and shipping them here by the boxcar loads. They now have dominated the LPGA Tour by sheer numbers. It’s easier when your country recognizes athletic ability and has the funding to prepare it for the world stage. The Orient isn’t the only player. The Aussies are culpable as well. Then again maybe we should stop bitching and develop programs of our own.

By the way, I have two personal standards for major champions. If you putt with a long putter and win, that event is no longer considered a major. If you win a major championship and cannot utter the appropriate thank you in English … even if in broken English; you’re taken off the board like in a horse race and placed at the back of the pack. This also goes for Americans who win in other countries as well.


No Tiger, huh? I’ll visit Ladbrokes (official bookie of the European PGA Tour … isn’t that a wonderful concept?) and place a nice wager on Justin Rose. He’s ready and he’s had success here finishing T4 as an amateur. I always have liked Ernie Els and Retief Goosen in this championship. Ernie has won before and now that Woods isn’t playing may be the favorite. Goosen has had monumental struggles. I’ve never worked my way through Retief’s being struck by lightning as a junior and having Ernie, who is certainly no slouch in this department, saying that Goosen had been the party animal. It has to have had a profound effect on his life and way of thinking. Maybe we should be glad having witnessed his surgical precision in winning two U.S. Opens and be happy with that.


For all of you who favor the “plan your work, work your plan” philosophy, rejoice with Kenny Perry this month. Kenny had a plan to play the golf courses he plays best. His goal was to win a spot on the Ryder Cup team for the competition to be played this September at Valhalla in his native Kentucky.

Perry passed on the U.S. Open even though he was playing well at the time having won the Memorial, a couple of weeks prior to the major. The truth be known, there’s more than a little extra incentive to make this year’s Ryder Cup team.

In 2000, Perry appeared to have the PGA Championship won at Valhalla and after signing his scorecard, headed directly to the network TV booth at 18. He extolled the virtues of Kentucky and Kentucky golf with great largesse. When Mark Brooks birdies the 72nd hole, Kenny’s in a playoff. The only things he had prepared were his vocal chords. Mark Brooks is the 2000 PGA Champion.

Kenny, it’s time to get it back. At 48, go get ‘em. The Ryder Cup will be a fitting crown for a fine career of a true gentleman.

Bartender, pour a dram of your finest Kentucky Bourbon for the states favorite son and one for myself while you’re at it.

See you on the first tee.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Week 2 PT (post Tiger)

Welcome to Week 2 PT (post Tiger). Thus far, Timmy Finchem et all who ride roughshod over the PGA Tour have been firing smokescreens about the fact that the Tour will have to survive without Woods for nine months.

This means that their Fed Ex Cup tournament run for millions in cash will have TV ratings analogous to a softball tournament on ESPN. Attendance will be down at each Tour stop until he returns. Sponsors will be apoplectic and will threaten to withdraw their sponsorship even if they have to break a contract.

I have one question about all of this, WHY?

Look at Woods’ playing schedule when he’s healthy. He never plays 20 times in this country, so the chances of him being on the field at a tournament are negligible at best. If you’re not in San Diego, Augusta, Georgia, Ponte Vedra, Florida, Miami, Akron, Ohio, the site du jour of the U.S. Open and PGA Championship, Washington, D.C. for the tournament he stole from Colorado, you’re not going to see him anyway. Just by his attitude, you can tell he really doesn’t care a whole lot about the PGA Tour. It’s time he’s treated in like kind.

Oh yeah, the Ryder Cup, I almost forgot about that. Right, it’s like they don’t already have enough guys with losing records like his to take his place. Sorry for the lack of tears.

It’s time people realize that the PGA Tour isn’t a one man band. Tiger may win a heavy percentage of the tournaments he enters, but he doesn’t win them all. In fact, he doesn’t win half of them, but he gets all the credit.

This year heroes were made of Paul Goydos and Rocco Mediate and they lost. Honest folks, there are a lot of guys out there just as worthy of your attention. Anthony Kim should blossom into a great player. Boo Weekley, the Tour’s version of Larry the Cable Guy is a great story and he plays almost every week. You can actually follow him and not wait around until he shows up. Camilo Villegas is about to bloom as a wonderful player. I guess if you don’t like a bit of a swagger and a lot of charisma, he may not be for you.

Then, there’s the rest of the Top 20. Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and company are great players in their own right. I think it high time we all realize there’s more than one player on the Tour and Timmie and the boys would be well served to address that fact.


There’s one thing for sure, very few people if any are on the fence when they think about NBC golf analyst Johnny Miller. I’ve almost always been in the former camp, although a recent apology he issued has caused some misgivings.

During the US Open coverage, Miller referred to Rocco Mediate as “Tiger’s pool boy” and that “guys named Rocco don’t get their names on the trophy.” It seems that a couple of Italian anti-defamation groups thought those remarks were aimed at Mediate’s heritage.

I don’t know about you, but I have never heard of any stigma attached to being a “pool boy.” Come to think of it, I used to play golf with a guy that owned a pool maintenance business. He wasn’t Italian, but I would have loved to swap paychecks with him. Also, for the record, no one named Rocco has ever won the U.S. Open, ergo the name Rocco isn’t on the trophy. He didn’t win the playoff so there still isn’t.

What is the big deal here? Even Rocco said he wasn’t the slightest bit offended by what Miller said. The thing that bothers me is that he had to apologize and sadly he apologized on the day the world learned of the death of George Carlin, a brilliant comedian who personified free speech. The irony is just dreadful.

Bartender, just a draught beer please. Make it a Miller Lite, because that’s what Johnny’s words are when the network makes him apologize for them.

See you on the first tee,


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Was Tiger's bid for another Major too costly?

Was it ego, stupidity or heroism? Regardless of the answer (and it’s most likely a combination of all three), Tiger Woods put his historic career on the line for the sake of one championship.

IMG, his management company issued a statement that Tiger has shut it down for the rest of the year and will have reconstructive surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and will spend the rest of the year rehabilitating his left leg. Oh, they also added that he played on a double stress fracture of his left tibia. The latter was discovered during the week of the Memorial Tournament.

During the week, Tiger alluded to the fact that he went against doctor’s advice when he teed it up at Torrey Pines. Let’s see, do I jeopardize my billion dollar career for one Major? Do I risk permanent damage for one more try for the brass ring? Evidently, he thought it was and played. He overcame the pain and persevered for not 72, but 91 holes. This speaks volumes for his tolerance of pain, but not a whole lot for his common sense. At the age of 32, he has a lot of Major championship appearances left and the odds of him winning six more to become the all time leader aren’t significantly less than winning five.

One thing that will certainly happen is that Tiger’s swing guru, Hank Haney, will be charged with developing a less violent swing that will reduce the torque on the knee. Perhaps this will call for a strategy that relies less on overpowering a golf course and more on shot making and use of his tremendous short game. He certainly has the talent to dominate using those attributes.

I think we can look for a change in Tiger’s future schedules. It might look like the four Majors, three WGC events, a couple with Buick in the title, his tournament in Washington, D.C. and two or three FedEx final events. He’ll probably add a couple overseas like Dubai where he’s designing a course and another where he picks up a design job. He can spend the rest of the year pursuing other trivial challenges like bringing peace to the Middle East and stopping global warming.

Hopefully, Tiger will realize that he’s not bulletproof and that he’s susceptible to the frailties of the human body. With any luck, over the next six or seven months, Tiger’s body will totally heal and that his thought process will include tomorrow and not just today. If it does, he may come back better than ever.

While trying to recover from the sheer excitement of the U.S. Open, some random thoughts crept into my cranium. Now they’ve worked themselves down my arms and are pouring out of my fingers. Here we go.

The professional golf season is now half over and the two most endearing characters from this unfolding tale are two guys who lost in playoffs, Paul Goydos in The Players Championship and Rocco Mediate in the U.S. Open. They were the ultimate underdogs and wore their emotions on their sleeves. America always has a soft spot for the underdog and if that underdog has a bit of personality (in the case of professional golfers, this means the ability to say a simple hello), they become instant heroes. The fact that in the end both came up short didn’t tarnish their luster.

Having the U.S. Open in prime time certainly gave golf a much needed shot in the arm. The ratings were the highest since the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach when Tiger won by double figures. Even the playoff numbers were through the roof for a Monday afternoon and this didn’t count all those who watched it on their computers while at work. One would hope the USGA would consider returning to the left coast more frequently. Who knows maybe the industry will get off their collective butts and seize the opportunity to use these occasions to grow the game? Probably not. They haven’t done before, why change now?

When people think of Callaway, they usually think of drivers. Having said that, they must have been apoplectic during the Open when their premiere poster boy, Phil Mickelson, made a big deal about taking his driver out of the bag because he wanted to hit more fairways. He then took down Callaway’s fairway wood program when he couldn’t find the fairway with his 3-wood. He also didn’t shed a positive light on the company’s wedge program when it took four tries to get his ball on the green from 40-yards in the middle of the fairway on the 13th hole on Saturday effectively knocking him out of contention. Callaway gets all this for a paltry $8 to $12 million a year. They recouped some of their reputation on Monday every time Rocco’s bag flashed on the screen, but the Mickelson travesty had to be embarrassing particularly in their own back yard. The least he could have done is carry the driver and not use it.

Being a cynical curmudgeon, I have a couple of questions. If the USGA is so puritanical and steadfast about an 18-hole playoff, why did the Open end in sudden death? For the first time in history, sudden death didn’t start on the first hole. Instead they created a three hole loop with hole 7, 8 and 18. Couldn’t they have used this loop on Sunday as a playoff site? Better yet, instead of sudden death, they could have had the players play the three holes with low aggregate score winning the title. In a championship of this magnitude, sudden death in any form sucks.

In closing, a final reflection on the Open—the right guy won. I get the feeling that if Rocco made an extra good shot, Tiger would have made an extra great one. If Rocco made one more putt, Tiger would have made two. Rocco was a worthy competitor. Tiger was and is destined.

Bartender, please break out a bottle of 2003 Altesino Brunello di Montalcino Cru Montosoli and pour a glass for my paisans Rocco and Paul and leave the bottle. We’re going to toast battles hard fought and victories found in the ashes of defeat.

See you on the first tee,


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What is with the pairings for the U.S. Open?

It looks like the boys at the USGA may have gotten a little too deep into their tonics and gin just before they made the pairings for this week’s U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego.

On the surface, the pairing of the top three ranked players in the world, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott for the first two rounds seems inspired. A little deeper look into it and you have to wonder what they were thinking about.

First, these guys are as serious competitors as you can find. In addition, there’s also the personal rub between Phil and Tiger that just won’t go away. Over 36 holes they just might be so focused on beating the other that the Championship becomes secondary. Given Scott’s ineptitude in Majors, he’ll be little more than an observer and the residual effect won’t be as harsh.

However the fall out on the group ahead, Mark Calcavecchia, Oliver Nelson and Joe Ogilvie and the group behind of Lee Janzen, Steve Flesch and Rich Beem could be catastrophic, given that 80 percent of the people on the course will be crowding into watch the group between them. You can bet the overflow will be uncontrollable. Count those six out of the tournament.

Back in the days when Frank Hennigan was the executive director and P.J. Boatwright and Tom Meeks were his henchmen. Great care was given to the pairings at the U.S. Open. Nicklaus, Palmer, Player and Watson had to earn the right to be paired with each other and it was on the weekend when the title was on the line.

This wasn’t to say that they didn’t have some fun doing the pairings. If Lee Chill a journeyman tour player at the time qualified for the US Open, you could count on him being paired with South African David Frost. Hennigan also had a “Mystery Pairing” every year. He would find some obscure commonality two or three players had and paired them together. Then he would challenge the media to find the commonality. Sometimes, even the players weren’t aware of it.

This year, the pairings are as subtle as a brick wall. Miguel Ángel Jiménez is paired with Boo Weekley and Shingo Katayama. I figure that Boo doesn’t speak a lot of Spanish or Japanese and they might not be versed in Red Neck. Boo will probably have a few stories to tell about the conversations during lulls in the action.

The pairing of Trevor Immelman, Zach Johnson and Mike Weir contains the last three Masters champions not named Tiger or Phil. The Craig Parry, Tim Clark, Robert Karlsson trio contains the tallest player in the field, Karlsson with the two shortest.

The scoring might not be great, but the fireworks generated by Bubba Watson, JB Holmes and Brett Wetterich, three of the longest hitters in professional golf should be interesting even if their best ball score each day is 76.

Mild mannered Frenchman Thomas Levet could be headed for a nervous breakdown should playing partners Woody Austin and Pat Perez go into meltdown. The same could be said for David Toms. If he keeps the peace between Rory Sabbatini and Colin Montgomerie, there’s a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in his future.

Of course the all-England grouping of Ian Poulter, Paul Casey and Luke Donald could back up the course should they stop at four o’clock for a spot of tea. This also is possible if Swedes Carl Peterson and Daniel Chopra along with Dane Soren Hansen representing Scandinavia break for a sauna.

In closing, I can honestly say I don’t have the foggiest idea who will win the U.S. Open. But I can say it won’t be Tiger, Phil or Adam. They’ll punch themselves out before Saturday morning. Of course, I could be wrong. I know that’s hard to believe, but they are the three best players in the world and well…. All I know is, I wish I was at this pairing party. I wondered if they had a giggle the next morning when the hangover cleared.

Bartender, set me up a Harvey Wallbanger, a Rob Roy and a Tom Collins and you have to tell me what those three have in common.

See you on the first tee,


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Seve snorts about Ryder Cup competition .. or lack there of

He comes around every two years and makes his bi-annual attempt to draw attention to himself. Even in retirement Seve Ballesteros just can’t avoid putting his two Euro cents in when it comes to the Ryder Cup. It seems Seve finds the competition (or lack of same) boring.

“They need to win badly,” Seve said of the American team. “I hope the Americans win this year in all seriousness.”

I think Seve has been into the sangria a little too much lately. Here’s the guy who traded cheating accusations with this year’s U.S. captain Paul Azinger wanting the U.S. to win. Huh?

“I see the Ryder Cup getting very boring because we are beating them so badly,” said Seve. “Everybody is losing interest. I think it will be good if they win the next one. It would give the Ryder Cup a lift.”

The irony of this kills me. The same things were being said 25 years ago … in the other direction. Those were the days when this competition was between the U.S. and Great Britain & Ireland. Then a pain-in-the-butt Spaniard whined and whined about he being one of the greatest players in the world and he couldn’t play. He couldn’t get it through his skull or massive ego, or both that he was neither a Brit nor a Harp. Finally, to shut him up more than appease him, the rules were changed to all the GB & I boys to recruit throughout all of Europe. Today, he’s complaining about something that was his fault. Way to go Seve!

In all fairness, he has made some valid points. Since 1985, the U.S. has shown up once and won the Ryder Cup. The last three have been record setting defeats. The golf fans seem to be more interested than the players. I guess the old “it’s not important until we get beat” theory is out the window.

To his credit, Azinger pushed for some changes in the team selection process and received them. The principal change is the U.S. captain now has four picks instead of two. This has to help unless he drafts his team worse than the Miami Dolphins of the past few years.

I think it’s incumbent upon us to suggest more changes that might put the U.S. over the top, or at least rekindle some interest.
1. Give the Americans strokes. The amount will be negotiated on the first tee by the players. I will offer up the services of Doc O’Keefe an old golf buddy to teach the Americans the fine art of first tee gamesmanship. He’s the best I’ve ever seen at negotiating a match only he could win.

2. Two-down automatic presses. This gives the Americans a chance to add points, or save some during the match. It may throw the point totals out of whack, but it will retain interest as the “magic number” has been eliminated.

3. The U.S. team plays from the front markers, the Euros from the tips. The edge is obvious—particularly is Azinger has any say in the course set up crossing hazards? No problem. Front markers are placed on the other side while the tips are 150-yards behind.

4. Make one day medal match play. The Americans beat these guys like a drum in individual stroke play events. What’s home course advantage if you can’t make your own rules.

5. Enlist some help. Make it Europe against North America. I know, you don’t think Stephen Ames and Mike Weir will add much to the American effort—but think about Lorena Ochoa!

Bartender pour Seve a cup of your strongest espresso, I think he really needs to sober up.

See you on the first tee,


Thursday, May 15, 2008

One Man’s Opinion -- Will big win spur Sergio to Major win?

For years, PGA Tour Commissioner Timmie Finchem has looked at NASCAR as a marketing model for his band of gypsies.
Last week, his annual clambake at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, The Players Championship, had more wrecks than 10 NASCAR races combined. Once a golf ball was airborne, it no longer belonged to the golfer who launched it. It belonged to the wind and the ground where bounces described as peculiar at best broke the hearts of many.

This combination of pain and chaos produced a champion who has caused all of the above for his fans and detractors alike during his 10-year career, Señor Sergio Garcia. He arose from the ashes to defeat the overwhelming fan favorite, unheralded and previously unknown to the casual observer, Paul Goydos. The record would have it that Serge defeated Goydos on the first hole the sudden death playoff with a par following Goydos dunking his tee shot just short of the 17th hole’s island green.

There are many who would suggest (and I being one of them obviously) that Serge won in spite of himself. He won because he gave himself the most chances to win—not because he seized it. That’s just not his style. History tells us that not only will he not seize the moment, he will find a way to lose and will be jackrabbit quick to tell you it wasn’t his fault. He has more excuses than Halliburton has lawyers.

The clinic Garcia gave for four days was as impressive as any you’ll ever see. No one, absolutely no one came close to striking the ball as well as Serge. He was first in driving accuracy (on Saturday, he hit the fairway on all driving holes in steady 25 mile an hour wind). He was first in Greens in Regulation by a mile. It seemed that everytime you looked in, Serge was standing over a makeable birdie—and then tapping them in for par a stroke later.

With ball striking statistics such as these coupled with the weather conditions, he should have blown away the field by double figures and he finished in a playoff? The reason is, he finished T39 in Putts per Green in Regulation and T69 in Total Putts Per Round. This is becoming known as the Garcia Gap where hands turn to cast iron when feet reach the shortest grass.
Now, this is the most amazing thing. Time after time when asked about his putting, Serge was quick to say that he putted well, but didn’t make anything. At least he was half right.
I think he’s living in the world of denial and has renewed the lease a few times. Think back to last year when he had a six-foot putt to win the British Open and missed. Not only did he miss, but the putt broke the opposite way than he thought. Come to think about it, there was quite a bit of that at The Players Championship as well. Serge, just a thought here, Helen Keller had Anne Sullivan to teach her to read. Can’t you find someone to teach you?
To his credit, on the final nine, Serge did make some crucial putts. The biggest, of course was the 12-15 footer on 18 to get into the playoff. With the guys I was watching with, you couldn’t get a bet that he’d make it. Of course, we all had to laugh on the playoff hole. With absolutely no pressure on him, he couldn’t hit the hole from four feet for what would have been a classy birdie.
One might think this could propel him to vacate the top of the List of the Best Golfers to Not Have Won a Major. In a fashion, I hope so. Then the golf world won’t have to listen to him whine about how unfairly he’s treated and that he leads a “Me against the world” existence. However, I don’t think it will.

They say that Tiger Woods owns a condo inside Ernie Els’ head. Tiger must also own a two-bedroom loft in Serge’s. The first thing out of Serge’s mouth at his trophy reception was, “I want to thank Tiger Woods for not being here this week.”

Here’s a guy who just won the biggest tournament of his life and he wants to thank a player for not being there? Huh? In Sergio’s seven PGA Tour wins, Tiger has been in the field three times. Of course Sergio has been there for a lot of Tiger’s wins as well and frankly, that’s been a more common scenario, but every player can say that. Also, in spite of his 2001 win, Tiger hasn’t been a force around the Stadium Course very often. I think that rather than search out putting guru Stan Utley, Serge would be best served looking up Dr. Phil. It appears that Serge lead the field in another statistic last week—neurosis.

This should make the rest of the season very interesting. My advice to you is stock up on a lot of cheese, because you know Serge will be serving copious magnums of whine this summer when he’s not leading the field in ball striking and has to rely on his flat stick.

Bartender, let’s get the party started. Stow Serge’s Michelob Ultra Light beer from his TV commercials and stir up a pitcher of cold, homemade Spanish Sangria. I think I’ll pass on the flamingo dancing this time around though. I’ll leave that to Serge.

See you on the first tee,


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Players the 5th Major ... Not a chance

It officially started on May 6th, but in truth it’s carried out at least subliminally every day of the year. It’s Timmie Finchem’s campaign to have The Players Championship declared a Major Championship.

Timmie, I hate to be the bearer of bad news (not really), but 2008 will be like every year before it. It ain’t gonna happen now and it ain’t gonna happen in the future. Let me put it this way. When baseball changes it’s rules to having five bases and someone hits a bases loaded home run and a grand slam scores five runs; we’ll consider it. Remember Timmie, it was the media who wrote in 1969 that the major focus of Jack Nicklaus’ schedule was the Masters, US and British Opens and the PGA Championship that the word Major was used.

When The Players Championship first appeared on the schedule in 1974, Nicklaus had ample opportunity to anoint it as being worthy of his major focus. Maybe because it was first played on that combination hell hole and wind tunnel, Sawgrass CC that forced he and others to regard it as a survival mission rather than a golf tournament. Then when they moved to the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, the design was so weird for the day that for awhile few took the tournament seriously.

There were a few other things that tarnished the image as well. For instance, they had a Pro Am—a definite no-no for Major status. The tournament primarily was a vehicle for the Tournament Players Clubs, a network of golf real estate developments owned by the PGA Tour. The success they had with the then Tournament Players Championship successfully branded the network. As a result, the players’ pension fund will make more money for the retired players than they made on the PGA Tour. Name me a current Major that was used to sell house lots. Both of things are history now, but that’s just it. It’s part of The Players Championship’s history.

Don’t get me wrong. The Players Championship is a nice tournament, perhaps a great tournament, but not a major. Justin Leonard put it in perspective. “The Majors are the apples and The Players Championship is an orange—a big orange maybe, but it’s still an orange,” he said.

Having said that and believing it, full disclosure demands that I admit that I am in a pool where you draft in order to pick your team for The Players Championship. Four of eight players have to make the cut and the low four-player team after 72 holes wins. This is the first year The Players Championship has been accorded this status. It now joins the, ahem, four Majors

Hey Timmie, it may only be a local sports bar in Central Florida, but it’s a start. Why don’t you stop by some weekend afternoon? They’ll have your golf tournament on at least one of their hi-def TVs. Buy, a round of dollar draughts and you’ll have a public groundswell on your hands. That my friend is the only chance you have to have an opportunity for The Players Championship considered a Major by anyone.

Bartender, please pour a draught beer for the Commish. It’s an acquired taste and I’m sure he’ll find it different from the fine wines and scotches in his wet bar. Timmie, if you’re going to be a man of the people, this is where we live.

See you on the first tee,


Monday, May 5, 2008

Another day in the life of John Daly

From the Department of You Can’t Make That Up, comes the incredible linkage of John Daly and Roger Clemens. It seems that Clemens, who is suing his former personal trainer Brian McNamee for defamation of character. In response McNamee’s legal team is trying to show that Clemens has little character to defame.

This brings us to the fact that the once first ballot lock for the Baseball Hall of Fame has been romantically linked with Paulette Dean Daly, number two on the list of Daly’s ex wives.

This woman must have a rather eclectic taste in men. While both Clemens and Daly are golf enthusiasts, that’s about where the comparison stops. Clemens is married. Currently Daly is not. Clemens is known for his rigorous physical training regimen (possibly steroid-enhanced). The most rigorous workout Daly does is a series of one 12 ounce curls. Repeat curls weigh less than the first one because Daly is draining Miller Lite by more than an ounce every curl. Clemens has a history of shattering the English language (his “misremember” to the House Committee investigating major league baseball was tame. When he pitched in Boston, one daily paper ran a feature called The World According to Roger that highlighted his malapropisms following every pitching performance.) Daly has as well, particularly during and following a particularly long workout, but remains comparatively coherent when not working out.

You would have thought the second Mrs. D would have been perfect for JD. She organizes lavish parties for the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and parties are what Daly is about. Evidently, the hotel wrecking binge in Ponte Vedra Beach in 1997 wasn’t the type of party Paulette favored. She allegedly, however, favors the type where a guest (Clemens) dances the night away with an eight-foot boa constrictor around his neck. What some guys will do to impress a woman.

If the Daly linkage in l’affaire Clemens, is odd, it’s hard to follow Daly’s appearance at the Murder Rock GC a Daly-design under construction in Branson, Mo. A local FOX-TV station sent a crew to the site to talk with John and perhaps play a hole with him.

Always accommodating, Daly did just that—sans shirt and footwear. The things you see when you don’t have a harpoon! If you think Daly looks hefty when covered by a golf shirt, it’s Jabba the Hut time when he takes it off. Shoeless? Okay. Bare-chested? Not in this lifetime.

Later in the past week, it was learned that Daly and his former instructor Butch Harmon spoke by for the first time by phone since Daly learned Harmon had dumped him by reading it in the newspaper. Daly reportedly asked Harmon to go on the Golf Channel and retract the things Harmon had said about him publicly when he dumped Daly.

Even though Harmon has since learned that the reason Daly was in the Hooters tent during Saturday’s third round of the PODS Championship to help a charity by appearing and socializing with the guests, he refused to retract a word. The reason Daly had requested the retraction was the damage Harmon had done to his bank account by lost endorsements. Harmon refused, but offered help for Daly if he attempts to get on the straight and narrow.

Let’s face it, Daly is the type of guy who when he tries to do something right, it invariably turns out wrong.

Maybe a change of venue might help. Proclaiming to be fit following rib surgery and able to swing the club better, Daly, the 595th ranked player in the world will be entertaining European Tour fans the next two weeks with appearances in both Spain and Italy. Let’s hope it’s his golf that makes the news over the next fortnight.

Bartender, please pour a pitcher of Sangria for Mr. Daly and give him a bottle of Chianti to go, so he can practice for his two week European adventure. Maybe he can find some peace and his golf game and return with a future--not just a past.

See you on the first tee,