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.


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