Monday, March 17, 2008

What a great week to be Timmie Finchem

What a great week it’s been to be Timmie Finchem. First, Tripp Isenhour is charged with misdemeanor cruelty to animals for killing a protected hawk during the filming of an instructional DVD. Then it was Timmie’s living nightmare, John Daly being disqualified for missing a Wednesday Pro-Am tee time at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.
Little did Timmie know that Isenhour would gather as much attention as Ike, or that Daly’s ouster would cause such a ruckus as to find its way to lead pages on web servers and have its own slot on ESPN’s Sports Center.

No, it hasn’t been a good week to be Timmie Finchem.

While Isenhour was filming an instructional DVD, production was continually halted because of the loud and boisterous hawk. Isenhour thought that a few well-placed golf shots into the tree would scare the hawk away. As luck (or lack thereof) would have it, one of the shots hit and killed the bird.

No one ever wants to kill an animal (Michael Vick and crew aside) and certainly Isenhour meant no bodily harm to the hawk, but the bird was definitely a hindrance in what is always a costly production. He was trying to scare the hawk out of the tree—period. Accidentally, the hawk got hit and died. Let it be. Now people are talking about $10,000 fines and probation, or time. Why?
I love animals and really wouldn’t want to hurt one, but let me ask you this. If it was a protected snake he hit and killed, would you REALLY be all that upset? Probably not. I know I must have missed the memo about animals having equal, or rights exceeding those of humans. Please everyone—get a life. The word “accident” is in the dictionary for reasons such as this.

Come to think of it, there’s a more rational argument for the hawk’s accidental death. If Tripp Isenhour was really that accurate, would he have lost his PGA Tour card and be relegated to the Nationwide Tour? I think not.

Le problème qui est John Daly. Timmie, you’re silence is deafening on this one and we think we might know why.

At the request of tournament host Arnold Palmer, Daly agreed to play in a second Pro Am for two reasons. First, he’s there on a sponsor exemption. Second, it’s Arnold Palmer and you always help the King—gladly.

Daly had already played in his obligatory Pro Am on Monday and agreed to play in a second. On Tuesday, practicing at nearby Celebration, he called the Bay Hill pro shop and asked for his tee time. He was given his tee time for Thursday’s first round and not the hour earlier tee time for Wednesday. He missed that tee time and under PGA Tour rules was disqualified.

Timmie, this is where you could have been a hero. You could have stepped in and noted that John was doing a personal favor for the tournament host. He was given erroneous information. (Okay, he could have driven over to Bay Hill and found an official to get his tee time which no one ever does). You could have made a decision to include Daly in the field noting he’d fulfilled his Pro Am participation according to the rules. If you had, Nick O’Hern and Ryuji Imada wouldn’t have been DQ’d as well for not being on property to fill in as alternates.

I’m sure Timmie could have done a lot of things that would have pleased the players and the fans, but he didn’t. Let’s face it, JD doesn’t have the clout of, say, Phil Mickelson. It was okay to cut Phil a break but not John Daly. Hmmm. That’s strange.

Last year at the EDS Byron Nelson Championship, Phil had a one-day corporate outing in Arkansas. Rather than fly back to Dallas/Ft. Worth Tuesday night in his private jet, knowing he had a Wednesday afternoon tee time, decided to wait until the morning to return.

As luck would have it, the airport was fogged in Wednesday morning and all flights were grounded. Phil missed his tee time—but he played in the tournament. All it took was a quick mea culpa at the feet of St. Timmie and he was absolved of his sin. To his credit, Phil pounced on the opportunity and finished T3 cashing for just over $300K.

I know golf isn’t fair, but you’d think the PGA Tour might figure that what’s good for one is good for all.

Please don’t dismiss missing his tee time as JD being drunk again. Reliable witnesses say it wasn’t so. Also, to his credit, until Bay Hill, JD hadn’t missed a tee time on the PGA Tour.
Chances are, Arnold felt sincere empathy for JD. In the early 70’s, the King was playing in a Senior Tour event called the Marlboro (MA) Classic. He called into the pro shop for his first round tee time. The assistant who answered the phone mistakenly gave him his second round time. Arnold Palmer was disqualified. JD is sharing angst with one of the greatest of all time, who by the way, never returned to that tournament.

Tuesday wasn’t a great day at all for JD. When he awoke that morning and read the paper. A story about how Butch Harmon had fired him as a student. Harmon was quoted as saying that John was more interested in getting drunk than improving his game. Butch cited the Saturday of the PODS Championship when John appeared at the Hooters Nest, a pavilion behind the 17th green. John signed autographs, ate a lot of wings and drank some beer with the fans. Butch thought John should have been working on his game.

Butch shouldn’t have thrown JD under the bus like that. He could have just said we’ve decided to part ways. By the way, couldn’t Butch have called or sent a text message to John instead of having him read it in the paper? If he doesn’t think JD was acting professionally, what does he call his actions?

While a lot of us would love to spend a Saturday afternoon the same way, John wanted to be there even more. He has an endorsement contract with Hooters and personal appearances are a part of his contract. The chain was founded and the corporate offices are just down the road from Innisbrook. Maybe he should have been in the Hooters Nest doing what he’s paid to do.
There was a very questionable situation JD got into on Thursday during a rain delay at the PODS. Instead of going to the club house, he headed for the shelter of the Hooters Nest. It looked bad, but he didn’t have anything to drink. However, he did change caddies. When play resumed, he had Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden under the straps. This led to a quick seven over par 78 which was followed by a second round 80 and another missed cut. During a round isn’t the time to play games. This was yet another sponsor exemption that he treated with disdain.

There are a lot of reasons for which John Daly should be called on the carpet, however those who gang up on him for this one are taking gratuitous shots. It appears that JD is the one to whom the Pro Am rule applies. There was a day when he would have received the same break as Mickelson. How soon Timmie forgets.

Bartender, pour my friend JD and I another cold Miller Lite and order us a plate of wings. It’s
Saturday afternoon and we want to watch some golf.

See you on the first tee.


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