Monday, May 4, 2009

Kelly wins, The Players Championship looms, Daly makes cut, and Quail Hollow

Jerry Kelly wins in New Orleans. The Players Championship is on the horizon and John Daly makes the cut in the Spanish Open. Let’s not forget that the people who run the Quail Hollow Championship (nee Wachovia Championship) get it right.

Kelly’s win at the Zurich Championship may not have been one for the ages, but you can score one for the good guys. Kelly had been on a seven year hiatus from the winner’s circle before winning last week. He had become what is known as a “field filler.” That’s the type of player who may not have the chance of a snowball in hell of winning, but in order to have a full field for the tournament, you hope he enters. His biggest plus for the tournament sponsor has always been that he gives good Pro Am. You never have a bad time in Jerry Kelly’s company and that’s a very big deal in the eyes of tournament sponsors.

In addition, he’s also immensely popular with his fellow pros and that can’t be said about everyone on any professional Tour. In fact that can’t be said about more pros than you might think.

The only downside of Kelly’s victory was that it pointed out Charles Howell’s lack of ability to finish the job. Howell should have won. He’s technically the better player, but Kelly has the heart of a hockey player (which he was in college) and he never stops grinding. You have to believe that if he had to do it, he could miss hitting all 18 greens in regulation and still post a sub par round.


It’s a wonderful thing that the PGA Tour has stopped trying to force feed the media and the public that the Players Championship is really the fifth major. Yes, they draw a tremendous field. Yes, the purse is fantastic. Yes, they’re trying to build tradition by holding the championship at the same venue. That might work, but not in our lifetime and that includes the infant in your lap to whom, as a dutiful, parent you’re reading this wonderful piece of golf writing. It just won’t work.

The Stadium Course is like an aging starlet. While it all may look great, the truth is, nothing is real. The land was a swamp before Pete Dye saw something no other human being could have seen and turned it into a quirky, unconventional golf course.

The Players Championship is what it is. It’s a wonderful tournament with three diverse, if not weird finishing holes (there’s really no flow or rhyme or reason why they’re there). Having written that, I fall in line with those who want a three-hole playoff in case of a tie at the top on Sunday. In that context these holes would work.


John Daly, Loudmouth pants and all, made the cut in the Spanish Open. Could this be the start of a comeback for Daly? It could be only if he gets through the next month without incident. Never forget that he’ll always be a train wreck in progress. He’s the next Miller Lite away from disaster and he’s two words (I do) from starting a marriage destined to be his fifth appearance in divorce court.

Much has been said about JD dropping 40-plus pounds after having the Lap Band procedure. However, according to a source who should know, there was no procedure. If this is correct, that’s the best news ever. It shows that somewhere along the road, Daly has acquired a modicum of self control. Who cares what the reason is. The fact he’s done it is a big step towards regaining his life.


May all tournament sponsors take note of the strategy employed by the tournament committee of the Quail Hollow Championship. Maybe it was the fact that until this year the event was known as the Wachovia Championship, but the committee was looking at the added pressure on the discretionary dollar.

They felt that the public would rather cheer for golfers making birdies than golfers sweating out pars. Thus, they reduced the rough from four to two inches giving players a chance to reach greens from the cabbage. In turn, however, they did quicken the pace of the greens and make the putting surfaces firmer, so a birdie still had to be earned but was attainable.

Kudos to a tournament committee that remembered that to the spectators, a golf tournament is still entertainment. By the way, combining the greens of this year and the rough of years past and there sits a U.S. Open course begging to be played. USGA, please take notice.

Bartender, back up an ice cold beer with a shot of brandy (a Cheese Head state favorite spirit) for Mr. Kelly. Please take a can of Slim Fast from the cooler for Mr. Daly. Add a magnum of champagne for the Quail Hollow Championship tournament committee. Also, if you could, reach back into your earlier hippie days and grab a tab of acid for Mr. Dye and maybe he can envision another version of the Stadium Course. Me? Make that two cans of Slim Fast.

See you on the first tee,


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