Monday, December 17, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Isao Aoki.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Lon Hinkle.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Veteran Frank Lickliter opened the six-round event with back-to-back rounds of 62 to finish first. Veterans Duffy Waldorf, a former Q-School medalist, and Jim McGovern also won their cards. Tommy Gainey, a Golf Channel Big Break winner, will take his unique swing and nickname (“Two Gloves” because he wears golf gloves on both hands) to the Big Show next year. The feel good story of the week had to be Todd Demsey, a former Nationwide Tour player who played with Phil Mickelson at Arizona State. Demsey recovered from two operations to remove a tumor in his brain.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Mac O’Grady.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Finchem also announced that there will be no change in the way FedEx points are distributed but did not rule out changes when the Tour Policy Board meets in February.
The Tour’s drug testing program will be phased into the PGA Tour, the Nationwide Tour and the Champions Tour over the next two years. Players will receive information about the program and will be required to attend a meeting in January to learn how it will be administered. Testing is due to begin on July 1 on the PGA Tour. Testing on the Nationwide Tour will begin late next year and on the Champions Tour in 2009.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Steve Spray.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Betsy King.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Dan Sikes.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
I hate losing an hour of daylight, especially during the fall when it’s great to play afternoon golf. I like wearing long pants and a sleeveless windbreaker or a sweater to ward off the cool, crisp air. The red and yellow leaves on the trees sparkle in the sun and by the end of the day the long dark shadows envelop the course, making the bunkers look deeper and more foreboding.
The mythic leaf rule comes into play. Actually, the USGA does allow courses to invoke a local rule making leaf piles or areas covered with leaves temporary ground under repair thus negating the penalty for a lost ball.
But once daylight savings ends, I have to change my whole schedule. Even if I’m lucky enough to play in four hours, I have to tee off no later than 1:30 p.m. to finish in the light. In the coming weeks, darkness creeps across the golf course earlier and earlier.
What is the point of going off daylight savings time anyway? (The grammatical term is daylight saving time without the “s” but daylight savings sounds better.) Yes, I know all about the kids leaving for school in the daylight. But isn’t that offset by the fact that it is likely to be pitch dark when they come home? One of the original theories of daylight savings was that it reduced energy costs. I’m not sure about that except that I have less energy when it gets dark at 5 p.m., or worse yet, 4:30 p.m. in January.
I suppose it could be worse. Arizona, Hawaii and the portion of Indiana in the Eastern time zone never goes on daylight savings time in the first place so they don’t experience the glory of finishing 18 holes of golf about 9 p.m. in the middle of summer.
Former Philadelphia golf pro Benjamin Franklin first conceived daylight savings time in the early 1700s as a means to allow the Founding Fathers time to squeeze in a few more holes after a long day of drafting the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. But it wasn’t until World War I that the concept was formerly adopted in the United States. Alas, in a country with more farmers than golfers, daylight savings was not popular and Congress overrode President Woodrow Wilson’s veto (5-handicap) to repeal the law.
It took a second world war to revive daylight savings and President Richard Nixon (18-handicap) signed the law making it standard across the country from the first Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October. Today, more than 70 nations (almost all of which have golf courses) observe daylight savings time. Jordan is always on daylight savings time.
By the way, I know some of you are still confused on which way to set your clocks. When I was a cub reporter in Texas covering shooting and car wrecks, a woman called the newspaper and asked me how she should set her clock. I repeated the maxim: spring forward, fall back. “Do I have to set my alarm back, too?” she asked. “Uh, only if you want to get up an hour earlier.” “Do I have to stay up until 2 a.m. to set the clock back?” “Well, I wouldn’t risk it if I were you. Space aliens have been known to snatch up people who try to get a head start!”
Farmers, I’m told, hate daylight savings time because they have to get up at daybreak to do their chores regardless of what the clock says. I think it’s time to organize all those farmers who play golf and all golfers to push our political candidates to support all daylight savings time all the time. I have the perfect slogan: “Golfers Unite For More Daylight!” I could get elected on that platform.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to David Frost.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
As if he needs more money, Tiger Woods signed an endorsement deal with Gatorade worth a reported $100 million. Woods makes an estimated $1 billion in endorsements.
Like a rat leaving a sinking ship, Michelle Wie’s agent Greg Nared announced that he has left the teen prodigy. Nared’s announcement comes on the heels of Wie’s next-to-last finish at the Samsung World Championship with rounds of 79-79-77-71. Could she possibly do us all a favor and just disappear?
It’s hard to get excited about the PGA Tour now that the Presidents Cup is over. Dallas native Justin Leonard won the Valero Texas Open and somebody named George McNeill won a tournament called the Frys.Com Open in Las Vegas. This week, the tour plays the Fry’s Electronic Open in Scottsdale, Arizona. What is Fry’s anyway?
Is anyone watching the PGA Grand Slam of Golf being played in Bermuda? I saw three minutes of it on TNT while looking for the baseball game. Hardly a compelling event with Padrig Harrington, Zach Johnson, Angel Cabrera, and Jim Furyk, who is filling in for Tiger Woods.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Bruce Crampton.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to George Knudson.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Len Mattaice.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
The International team only has two first-time players, Rory “The Mouth” Sabbatini and former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, compared to four U.S. rookies – Masters champ Zach Johnson, Woody Austin, Hunter Mahan and Lucas Glover. Stricker is playing in his first Presidents Cup since 1996.
Captain Gary Player’s team would appear to have the advantage, especially when you consider the fact that American professionals have not won team competition on foreign soil since the 1993 Ryder Cup at the Belfry in England. The U.S. team lost by nine points in Australia in 1998. But I am going against the odds and will pick the U.S. team in a close match.
One other interesting tidbit. The last time the pros played at Royal Montreal was in the 2001 Canadian Open. Scott Verplank won that tournament and only four other President Cup players finished in the top 25 at the event – K.J. Choi was T-8, Stricker was T-18, Stuart Appleby was T-23, and Woods was T-23.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Mason Rudolph.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to David Duval.
Monday, September 24, 2007
1. Mark Wiebe becomes the first player to win his inaugural Champions Tour event on a sponsor’s exemption. Several golfers have won tournaments in their first attempt, including brothers Lanny and Bobby Wadkins, but until Sunday, no one had who got into the tournament on a sponsor’s exemption had won on his first try. Wiebe’s win automatically qualifies him for events the rest of this year and next year.
2. Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., announced it will forego the 2009 U.S. Amateur in order to renovate the greens on its Blue Course. Is it a coincidence that the announcement comes a couple months after Tiger Woods complained about the speed of those greens during his inaugural AT&T National played there this summer? I don’t think so. Congressional is due to host the U.S. Open in 2011.
3. PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem quietly announced the Tour will implement a drug testing, probably next spring. Details are still being worked out but with other professional sports taking initiatives, golf risked being left behind unless it also started testing.
Finally, the Presidents Cup will be played this weekend in Montreal. On paper, the international team is favored because it has more top players competing. But don’t count out the U.S. too quickly.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Brent Geiberger.
Monday, September 17, 2007
The real story of the Fed Ex Cup has to be Steve Stricker, who held on and finished second despite a middle-of-the-pack finish at the Tour Championship. Has anyone ever come as far back as Stricker has in the past two years? It’s been a remarkable turnaround for the Wisconsin native. By the way, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Stricker paired with Woods at the Presidents Cup. They played the first two rounds of the last two tournaments together, appear to be comfortable with each other and they share the same agent.
Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem has some decisions to make about the Fed Ex Cup before next year. Players want to see a change in the schedule, perhaps two weeks on, a week off, and then the final two weeks. The point system may need some adjustments as well. Tiger and Phil each skipped an event and finished in the top five in the overall standings. Overall, I give the inaugural Fed Ex Cup a B-.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Tommy Aaron.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Despite the Tour’s best efforts to hype the inaugural FedEx Cup, the reality is that only five players -- Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Rory Sabbatini and K.J. Choi – have a chance to win the overall title. Woods, the number one player in the world, and Stricker, who has bounced back from near oblivion, control their own destiny. If either Woods or Stricker win, they take the cup. Mickelson can win the tournament but lose the cup if Woods finishes alone in second place. While Choi and Sabbatini are mathematically eligible to win the cup, they need a lot of help such as Woods finishing 14th or 22nd respectively. In other words, don’t look for them in the winner’s circle.
Mr. Fairway is cheering for Stricker, his fellow Badger, to take top honors.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Bobby Nichols.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Bob Gilder.
Monday, September 3, 2007
In a post-round interview with NBC-TV, Mickelson hinted that he will not play in next week’s tournament in Chicago, noting that his kids start school on Wednesday and one of his daughters has her first soccer game next weekend. He said he owed it to the tour to play but said he tour commissioner Tim Finchem did not follow through on some suggestions Mickelson had. He did not elaborate. Interestingly enough, it was Tiger who skipped The Barclays event last week. The Tiger-Phil pairing made for great drama on Sunday and after both of them birdied the 17th hole, Johnny Miller said, “If you don’t like this, go watch tennis.”
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Deane Beaman.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to David Ogrin.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Rik Massengale.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Bob Brue.
Mr. Fairway would be remiss if he didn’t comment on the Boo Weekley-Sergio Garcia scorecard fiasco. Weekley may have proven that he’s not smarter than a fifth grader when he recorded and incorrect score for his fellow competitor, but the ultimate blames falls on Garcia who overlooked the mistake, signed the incorrect scorecard and got himself DQ’d. Not much sympathy here for either one of them.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Bob May.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Wayne Grady.
Monday, August 6, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Hal Sutton.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
But Open week also was marked by a couple other noteworthy events. First, Seve Ballesteros announced his retirement from competitive golf. Love him or hate him – and I loved him – Seve is one of the outstanding players in the last 20 years. I once followed him years ago at the Kemper Open when it was played at Congressional Country Club. I swear he didn’t hit a fairway on the back nine off the tee. Not only did he miss, but he missed badly. He put on an incredible display of shotmaking and imagination, hitting low hooks and fades from under the trees and shot a remarkable -2. Simply astounding. But in recent years his skills deteriorated and it was sad to watch a great player struggle, reminiscent of seeing Johnny Unitas and Willie Mays at the end of their careers. Farewell to Seve and thanks for the memories.
Meanwhile, Gary Player grabbed headlines with allegations that he knows of professional golfers who are taking performance enhancing drugs. Player is so well-respected in the game that his comments must be given serious consideration. My problem is that he failed to name names, which is not surprising, and failed to offer up any other specifics. His comments put him in the spotlight, which he has never shunned, but did little to convince me that they were based on fact. It’s inevitable that the PGA Tour is going to have to institute a drug testing policy sooner rather than later. But that’s the world we live in today and Tim Finchem needs to make drug testing a priority, just as the LPGA has done.
Finally, former Open champion John Daly made a brief appearance on top of the leaderboard before fading into oblivion. But he did have the best quote of the tournament when he said his diet of “caffeine, plus nicotine equals protein.”
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Richie Karl.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Jean Van de Velde.
Friday, July 13, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Ty Tryon.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
The judges approved several goofy inventions that I doubt many real golfers would purchase. For example, one guy had a golf bag that included a small, canvas fold out seat attached to it. Another guy had an electronic timer that beeped in one-minute intervals so players could keep track of the time elapsed while searching for lost balls. At least they didn’t approve the guy who came up with a notched tee that broke in half at impact and could be re-used on par three holes. They did approve an innovative golf travel bag with an extra set of fold out wheels as well as a device that allows players to check their stance and ball position. Of course, there are the usual nut jobs but their entertainment value is limited. The other problem with the show is that none of the panelists are very compelling personalities and the unctuous Vince Cellini, host of the “Big Break” shows interviews the contestants back stage.
Hitting range balls while wondering what ever happened to Bob Lunn.
Friday, July 6, 2007
Mr. Fairway attended the AT&T National at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md. this week. Here are some random observations:
--Marshals were instructed to make every effort to accommodate children and service personnel. On Friday at the par three 7th, a marshal gave more than a dozen kids in the gallery a special viewing spot at the back of tee so they could watch Tiger close up. The marshal started bringing kids to the spot several groups before Tiger reached the hole.
--The new par three 10th hole is a nice addition that allows the old 17th hole to become a spectacular finishing hole. The 11th is no pushover. One forgettable pro hit his bunker shot into the pond in front of the green and had to go back across to the drop area.
--Two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen continues to struggle, shooting 73-75 to miss the cut. He bladed a shot from heavy rough into the water on No. 6 and made a DB.
--John Daly continues to be a gallery favorite but he doesn’t look like he’s having any fun. Hard to smile when you have a public fight with your wife and you shoot 74-77.
--If you have a chance to attend a PGA event, pay attention to pace the pros putt on their putts. Unless they have a severe downhill putt, the ball almost always is rolling at perfect speed around the hole.
--I also enjoy watching the tempo of their swings and their balance. The ball sounds different coming off the club face when they hit it.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Tom Shaw.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering what ever happened to Sandy Lyle.
Monday, July 2, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Hitting range balls while wonder whatever happened to Steve Melnyk.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Other U.S. Open notes:
Sadly, Aaron Baddeley succumbed to the pressure of trying to win his first major by opening with a triple bogey 7 and shot 80 for the final round.
My major complaint with NBC’s coverage was the lack of leader boards and overall field scores throughout the telecast. It’s OK to show the abbreviated leader board but they should run at least the first two full pages before they break for commercial. Also, they should run the crawl with updated scores for everyone in the field at least once per hour.
The USGA needs to invest in some new ads. The kid making the hole in one is cute, but it’s old. Likewise, let’s ditch the stupid ad about the guys waiting out the rainstorm to play and the one with foursome that shows up at dawn, one of whom is wearing pajamas. How many more years must we endure those things?
Bubba Watson, you win the worst visor award for that sea green number with the red lettering. What’s with the pink shaft on your driver? Very un-Bubba like, I think.
The short par fours and the long par three – all around 300 yards – were quite entertaining, albeit a tad on the ridiculous side, especially the par three.
I guess NBC was so confident that Tiger would win – the best story – that they forget to do some research on Cabrera. Viewers learned very little information about him during the telecast.
Jim Furyk might have won his second U.S. Open had he made a better decision on the 17th hole and not tried to drive the green. He left the ball in the deep rough and could only manage a par.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Bob Rosburg.
Friday, June 15, 2007
- Chris Berman is unbearable on golf telecasts. Watching the early rounds on ESPN is painful as "Boomer" extends his overbearing style, which is OK for football, to golf. For example, his penchant for catchy nicknames falls flat. Nobody calls Jeff Sluman "Seattle Sluman" and nobody with any sense calls NBC commentator Roger "Choclate" Maltbie. Blessedly, he will be off the air this weekend.
- It is getting painful to watch Jim Furyk. How many times can he back away from a putt or shot in the fairway? It's getting worse than watching Sergio Garcia milk the club. By the way, who told Furyk that those new golf shirts are attractive? I don't care how much they are paying me, I'm not wearing those shirts.
- How goofy is it to have the putting green an extension of the 9th green? Steve Elkington's shot ran through the regular green onto the putting green leaving him with a 100-foot birdie putt. Curt Byrum actually had a ball roll into a cup on the putting green in the first round. He was given a free drop from ground under repair and made his par.
- Phil Mickelson's wrist looks more severely injured than he is letting on. He was letting go of the club on some shots in an effort to protect the wrist. He is one swing away in deep rough from endagnering his chance to compete in the British Open. But he may not make the cut, which would give me two extra days of rest.
- I hope there is no more rain for the duration of the tournament. I can't wait to watch all the train wrecks on those greens this week.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happaned to Jack Fleck.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to John Schlee.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Grier Jones.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Hillary Lunke.
Friday, June 8, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Bob E. Smith.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Lou Graham.
Monday, June 4, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Mike Souchak.
Friday, June 1, 2007
By the way, MacKinzie “Mac” Kline, the 15-year-old with a heart condition who was allowed to use a cart in the tournament, shot 86 Thursay.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Carol Ann Creed.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Mickelson told reporters he didn’t think the injury was serious, but he has to be concerned about his ability to prepare for the U.S. Open in two weeks. He said he may have aggravated his left wrist hitting balls out of the deep rough at Oakmont.
Wie, who had not played a tournament since January, suffered wrist injuries early this year. She played with bandages on both wrists.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Bill Glasson.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Tiger was unequivocal in his desire that his tournament continue to be played at Congressional after its inaugural two-year run. However, the club is committed to hosting the U.S. Amateur in 2009 and the U.S. Open in 2011 so his event will certainly have to be played elsewhere those two years. Asked if he would consider having the tournament at the soon-to-be remodeled TPC Avenel course down the road, Tiger said he would but quickly added that Congressional is the most desirable venue because of its history and because it is a classic course that the pros love. The betting here is that it will not be back at Congressional.
Tiger will play in the AT&T National if possible. His expectant wife will be home in Florida. He drew laughs when asked what he would do if he got the word on the 18th hole of the final round. “Well, I’ll have to play real quick won’t I?” he said. “Real quick. A three will win.”
Tiger acknowledged that many top players, including Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els, will not play in the tournament. He said his is recruiting other players including Jim Furyk, Darren Clarke, Charles Howell III, but added that many players already have set schedules in place that they can’t change. Adam Scott, Davis Love, Steve Stricker, Fred Funk and Stuart Appleby also will play. Vijay Singh has not decided yet, Woods said.
He is receiving suggestions for baby names and people have not been shy about sharing their experiences with childbirth. “Everyone has stories,” he said, “sometimes a little more grotesque than I prefer.”
He has no political ambitions. Someone asked if he was interested in running for president, he replied, “Hell no. No. No. No. No. No. Next.”
Tiger believes that three-four hours of sleep a night are plenty.
Is it fair to win your own tournament? “Yes. Always.”
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Ken Venturi.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Barry Jaekel.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Kel Nagle.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Bobby Cole.
Monday, May 7, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Steve Bull.
Thursday, May 3, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Jane Blalock.
Monday, April 30, 2007
Hitting range balls while wonder whatever happened to Don January.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Bo Wininger.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to George Burns.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Green, however, is a different story. Green was selected in the veteran’s category, which like the baseball Hall of Fame, is reserved for players who can’t make it on their own. Green won one U.S. Open in 1977 and a PGA championship in 1985. He also compiled 19 PGA Tour titles and played on three Ryder Cup teams. Green also is remembered for playing the final round of the 1977 U.S. Open after a death threat had been called in against him. I don't think that qualifies you for the Hall of Fame.
Strange dominated the golf world when he at the peak of his game. He should have won a Masters. Strange was voted Player of the Year three times by the Golf Writers Association of America and he won at least one tournament seven consecutive years. He was the first player to win consecutive U.S. Opens since Ben Hogan in 1950 and 1951. That’s Hall of Fame material. Green, on the other hand, was never a dominant player, although he did win three tour events in 1974 and 1976 (four if you count the Disney team championship). Strange won 70 percent of the vote while Green garnered only 52 percent. Strange earned his spot, but Green belongs in the Hall of the Very Good.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Kermit Zarley.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Kenny Knox.
Friday, April 13, 2007
So as much as I like Andy North, I was disturbed to see him hosting an infommercial on the Golf Channel for a product called the SuperStroke, which is an oversized putter grip that claims it will cure yips, shave four strokes off your game, add 100 yards to your drives and improve your sex life. Okay, I exaggerated on the last two claims.
But here is Andy, along with noted golf instructors Randy Smith and Rick Tock praising the SuperStroke as the end all cure to your putting woes. Come on, it’s just a grip for crying out loud. In one of the more laughable infommercials I have ever seen, proponents of the SuperStroke claim (with straight faces) that “the large surface area brings more of the grip into contact with the hands, inhibiting breakdown of the wrists and encouraging use of the preferred arm-and-shoulders putting motion. Scientific tests have shown that the SuperStroke requires up to 32% less grip tension and represents a significant improvement over conventional narrow putter grips. The SuperStroke’s size encourages use of a 'soft hands' technique and ensures a smooth and fluid putting stroke.”
This is almost as bad the golf glove that claims it will increase your driving distance because its patented design keeps your left wrist firm. Yep, and I have some land in Florida I’d like to sell you. I wonder how long it took to get footage of Andy North spouting this with a straight face.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Don Iverson.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
The possibilities for the fresh-faced Johnson might be limitless. For example, a recent article in GolfWeek indicated that former U.S. Open champ Jim Furyk earns an estimated $10 million a year from various endorsements. For example, Furyk commands $25 million over five years from his equipment company, Srixon, for his hat, bag, glove, irons and ball. He gets another $25,000 a year for wearing Ahead hats and $500,000 a year from Marquis Jet for wearing its logo on the side of the hat. Chiliwear Apparel pays him $500,000 a year plus royalties for his shirts; Johnny Walker Collection gives him $666,666 a year to put its logo on the back of his neck; and he gets $1.2 million a year from Exelon for wearing its logo on his chest and sleeve. Throw in $30,000 a year for his shoe deal with Adidas and the fees he receives as a spokesman for Aleve, American Express, Electronic Arts, Furyk Golf Design, and Golf Magazine and you have a walking, talking, golfing conglomerate. No wonder pro golfers look more and more like NASCAR drivers every week.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to R.H. Sikes.
Monday, April 9, 2007
I guarantee you that none of the experts picked Johnson, who won with the highest total score in 40-plus years, to win the green jacket. The 31-year-old Iowan has only one PGA Tour victory to his credit but he tore up the Buy.com tour and earned a spot on the last Ryder Cup team. Give him credit for a gutsy performance.
As for Woods, he is kicking himself for making bogeys on No. 17 and No. 18 in the first and third rounds. But as my old uncle said, “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a very merry Christmas.” In other words, every player out there left shots on the golf course over the four days of play. Retief Goosen looked like he was going to win until he failed to make birdies on the two par fives on the back side. He might be kicking himself for not going for the greens in two. Rory Sabbatini made a phenomenal eagle at No. 8 and then faded down the stretch. Jerry Kelly missed a very makeable eagle putt and Justin Rose could not sustain his brief charge. Stuart Appleby, playing with Woods, hung tough until he rinsed his tee shot on the short par three and took a five. Finally, defending champion Phil Mickelson made triple bogey on the first hole and then blew an eight-foot birdie putt on No. 6 at least six feet past the hole to eliminate any chance he had.
Now it will be interesting to see how Zach Johnson responds to his victory. Will the win at Augusta propel him to greater heights or will he become the next Orville Moody, the unknown who won a major and then disappeared.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Doug Ford.
Saturday, April 7, 2007
Congressional was the site of the 1964 and 1997 U.S. Opens and is scheduled to host the 2009 U.S. Amateur and the 2011 U.S. Open. However, the PGA Tour will have to find a different tournament site after 2008, possibly the Robert Trent Jones Club in Gainesville, Va. (site of three previous Presidents Cup events) or the TPC at Avenel, which hosted previous tour events and will undergo extensive renovation this summer.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Leonard Thompson.
Friday, April 6, 2007
This week, Arnold Palmer agreed to be the tournament’s honorary starter. At 77, Palmer’s days of competitive golf are long gone. But the four-time winner of the Masters is much beloved by Augusta National’s patrons, who were out in force to see him hit a gentle draw down the left side of the first fairway.
It was heartwarming to see Palmer swinging a club at the Masters but it must have bittersweet for the man whose hard charging rounds at Augusta helped increase the popularity of the game. But there he was, basking in the adulation of his fans and golf fans everywhere. Here’s hoping it was not a one-time event.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Bunky Henry.
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
Tiger Woods – Duh, he’s the best player in the world and has four green jackets.
Phil Mickelson – The defending champion who also won in 2004. Needs to avoid a U.S. Open blowup.
Vijay Singh – Has not won at Augusta since 2000 but was T-8 last year and has six top 10 finishes in 13 starts.
Davis Love – Long hitter who has the all-around game to win. Also has six top-10 finishes at Augusta and two top-10s on Tour this year.
Retief Goosen – Former U.S. Open champion was T-3 each of the last two years at Augusta. Ranks 21st in putting average and putts per round on tour this year.
Ernie Els – Great record – six top-10s – and fully recovered from knee surgery. He is first in putting average and first in putts per round on tour.
Arron Oberholser – Finished T-14 in first Masters last year. Could break out in 2007. Finished 9th at Houston last week.
Aaron Baddeley – Young gun has never made a cut at Augusta but his game is on the rise. Is 8th in putting average and 9th in putts per round. Won the FBR Open and has two other top ten finishes this year.
Adam Scott -- Won the Shell Houston Open last week and was T-27 and T-33 in last two Masters.
Steve Stricker – First appearance in five years. Played well in majors last year and one of the leading putters on the PGA Tour ranking 10th in putting average and fourth in putts per round. Also a sentimental favorite as a fellow Wisconsin native.
I had a hard time leaving Jose Maria Olazabal and Fred Couples off the list. Both aging vets always play well at Augusta but Freddy’s back is hurting and I think the young guns will supplant the Spaniard.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Roberto de Vincenzo.
Monday, April 2, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Laura Baugh.
Sunday, April 1, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Rex Baxter.
GolfWorld weighs in with a retrospective on Ben Hogan’s final Masters in 1967 as well as the requisite profile of Billy Payne. There is a nice little sidebar that speculates on the birth of the green jacket – Jones may have taken the idea from a novel by English writer G.K. Chesterton. The magazine also has its own Masters trivia section as well as a look at the town of Augusta outside the tournament grounds. Did you know that one of the city’s major businesses is golf cart manufacturer E-Z-Go?
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Billy Joe Patton.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Bob Goalby.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Our group made arrangements with Tin Cup Golf and Travel http://www.tincupgolf.com/index.html . If you are considering a golf trip to Pinehurst, I recommend you touch base with the nice folks at Tin Cup. The total cost came to $480 per person, which included greens fees, carts, breakfast, and a well-appointed two-bedroom, two-bath condo on one of the Pinehurst Resort courses.
We left Northern Virginia at 5:30 a.m. on Friday morning and had a 1 p.m. tee time at the Mid-Pines Inn & Golf Club. Mid-Pines is a classic Donald Ross design featuring small undulating greens and narrow fairways. Mid-Pines, which has hosted the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur, is lovely course and a nice test. The $10 lunch buffet was a bargain and I loved looking at the black and white photos of golfers and tournaments from the 1930s and ‘40s in the clubhouse.
On Saturday, we played 36-holes at the Foxfire Resort, which has two 18-hole courses. I gained an appreciation for the difficulty of hitting off pine straw, which is unavoidable if you play golf anywhere around Pinehurst. Pine straw is particularly challenging for medium length pitch shots where you have to make sure to strike the ball first lest your wedge digs under the pine needles and the ball moves only 10 feet. Our group suffered sunburn on Saturday, an avoidable circumstance when you are outside all day with eight legs that resemble out of bounds stakes.
We saved the best for last on Sunday morning when we played the Magnolia course at Pinewild Country Club. Pinewild’s greens are huge – easily a one-or-two club difference from front to back pin locations. A recent renovation stretched the course to 7,446 yards from the championship tees, which we wisely did not play. Pinewild has been a qualifying site for U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur qualifying.
We have two restaurant recommendations: Shuckers Oyster Bar in Southern Pines for delicious, inexpensive seafood and The JFR Barn, also in Southern Pines, for steaks. We ate eggs and pancakes every morning at the Track Café, a quaint little restaurant on the grounds of a local harness track.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Rod Curl.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
After three-putting the 13th green, Garcia spit into the cup. A slow-motion replay clearly showed him spitting into the cup. He admitted the dastardly act in a post-round interview on NBC-TV but dismissed it saying his gob went directly into the middle of the bottom of the cup and therefore would not bother a player taking his ball out of the hole. “Don't worry," Garcia said. "It wasn't going to affect anybody." Wrong. Garcia spitting into the cup may be the vilest act witnessed on tour since John Daly got into a parking lot fight with the father of fellow competitor some years ago.
Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem should fine AND suspend Garcia for conduct unbecoming of a professional. But don’t be surprised if we never hear about the incident again because fines against tour players are never made public. Here is a chance for Finchem to take a very public stand and let Garcia and the rest of the players know that he will not tolerate such behavior. As my buddy Robert said after watching the replay on TV, “Garcia should be made to wear that yellow patent leather belt for the rest of the year.” That would be a good start.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Terry Dill.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Here’s my take. The USGA is far too lenient in allowing former pros to become reborn amateurs. I can understand the benefit of allowing someone who technically became a professional by accepting a $50,000 hole-in-one prize to regain his or her amateur status. However, in some instances, these former pros competed on mini-tours and at one time in their life they thought they possessed the skills to earn money from the game. If they were good enough to turn pro with the thought of playing competitive golf at the highest levels, then I believe they should forever be considered a professional. When they enter amateur events, they have a huge advantage in both skill and experience over the true amateur who never went pro. It’s a flat out sham. Instead of bragging about it, the USGA should tighten the requirements for reinstatement of these shamateurs.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Chris Patton.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Forrest Fezler.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to T.C. Chen.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Weekley incurred a two-stroke penalty on the second hole when he illegally tended the flagstick for fellow competitor Tom Johnson. In fairness to Boo, he thought he was saving Johnson from a penalty but it turned his own 67 into a 69. Johnson was on the front of the green 85 feet from the hole and forgot to ask his caddie to tend the flag. After he hit his chip – from the green’s surface – it started running toward the unattended flagstick. Weekley knew Johnson would be assessed a two-stroke penalty if his ball hit the flagstick so he ran over and pulled the pin out of the hole.
That was a big oops! Rule 17-2 states that “If an opponent or his caddie or a fellow-competitor or his caddie in stroke play, without the player’s authority or prior knowledge, attends, removes or holds up the flagstick during the stroke or while the ball is in motion, and the act might influence the movement of the ball, the opponent or fellow-competitor incurs the applicable penalty” which in this case is two strokes.
As luck would have it, a spectator who knew the rules mentioned it to an official, who questioned Weekley and Johnson after the round and assessed the penalty. The penalty dropped Weekley from a tie for 10th place to a tie for 21st place. Maybe Boo can find someone to read the rules to him.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Marty Fleckman.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Now the USGA is making another run at the technology advancements. Published reports suggest that golf’s governing bodies want to reduce groove volume by 50 percent; reduce the sharpness of the edge of the groove; impose new guidelines for clubs manufactured after 2010; and grandfather clubs used by regular golfers for at least 10 years. The USGA plans to accept comments until Aug. 1 and then issue a ruling within three to six months.
Why does this matter? The best explanation I’ve seen equates the grooves on a golf club to the tread on an automobile tire. On the tire, the wider and deeper the tread, the more water it can channel away thus improving the tire’s grip on the road. On a golf club, the shape, depth and sharpness of the groove increases the club’s “grip” on the ball, thereby increasing spin and making it easier for a player to control the flight of the shot and impart backspin. Give that technology to tour pros and they can hit shots out of long rough – the equivalent of water for a tire -- that don’t fly, but spin and stop.
Here’s the question the club manufacturers are asking: how do you cut back on the technological advancements to golf clubs? Is it fair to require golfers to purchase new clubs that meet updated USGA specifications? Tour pros get their clubs free, but everyday golfers would be forced to make a decision whether or not to buy new irons that comply with the new standards – unless the USGA grants an exemption. It will be interesting to see what the USGA comes up with and how the golf companies respond.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Homero Blancas.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Golf Digest has an interesting article on Augusta National caddie Carl Jackson, who was on the bag for Ben Crenshaw’s victories in 1984 and 1995. Jackson holds the unofficial record for caddieing in the Masters, starting as 14-year-old in 1961.
He has some great tales about his experiences with legendary players. Jackson is not shy about taking credit for Crenshaw winning his two green jackets and to hear him tell it, Crenshaw would have won another title – as would have Bruce Devlin and Gary Player – if they had heeded his advice on club selection during their final rounds. Good stuff.
By the way, check out the cool aerial views of Augusta National in Golf Digest.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Art Wall.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
In the interview, McCord asserts that incident propelled his broadcasting career and led to numerous corporate golf outings, not mention a role in the movie “Tin Cup.” He said he would not go back to the Masters even if the ban were rescinded. McCord apparently still holds a grudge against Tom Watson, who wrote tournament officials a letter after his comments suggesting he be punished.
McCord said the bikini wax comment was premeditated as he searched for a metaphor to describe how slick Augusta’s greens were playing. He rejected “they use Nair on them,” “they use electrolysis on them” and “they pluck them.” He also confesses that he wrote the body bags line in advance as he does other lines he utters during the course of his broadcasts.
And one bit of trivia that helps explain McCord’s wackiness is that he went to high school with the original wild and crazy guy, Steve Martin, who inspired him to develop his own unique personality.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Steve Melnyk.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Kris Tschetter.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Calcavecchia has had and up and down career. He is known as a streaky player who can get hot and shoot very low scores. He won the 1989 British Open when he beat Wayne Grady and Greg Norman in the first multi-playoff hole sudden death format. But Calcavecchia also is known for his famous choke job in the 1997 “War by the Shore” Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island. He was four holes up on Colin Montgomerie with four holes to play and needed only to tie any of them to win the match. After losing the 15th and 16th holes, Calcavecchia shanked a 3-iron on the par 3 17th hole and then lost the 18th hole to halve the match. Luckily for him, Bernhard Langer missed a short putt on the final hole to give the Americans the victory.
So congrats to Calcavecchia for hanging on for the victory. He also looks to stand an excellent chance of getting back to the Masters. But Mark, the gray-streaked goatee looks horrible.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Ted Tryba.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
This weekend, Paradise Valley held its annual Icebreaker tournament. It’s called the Icebreaker because the weather should be pretty chilly, if not down right cold. But each of the past two years, competitors in the Icebreaker have been greeted by balmy temperatures in the upper 60s and low 70s. Last year, 25 percent of the field wore shorts. I didn’t see anyone in shorts yesterday but the high was 67 degrees – for an Icebreaker tournament. Earlier in the week, we still had patches of ice and snow on the ground. If this is the result of global warming, then I embrace it. It might be tough on the polar bears and they have my sympathy. But the polar bears aren’t playing golf. So to Al Gore, the Chicken Little of environmental issues, I say, “Turn it up another 10 degrees.”
By the way, Mr. Fairway’s team won the Icebreaker tournament with a score of -33 (two best balls net from foursomes of an A, B, C and D player). In his first serious round of the year, Mr. Fairway hit 11 or 14 fairways.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Willie Wood.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Here’s a true story I tell every year about daylight savings time. When I was a reporter in Fort Worth, Texas in the mid-70s, I answered the city desk phone on the Saturday night before daylight savings time. A woman asked if she was supposed to set her clock ahead or back when she went to bed that night. I repeated the mantra: “Spring forward, clocks ahead; fall back, clocks back.” She found that most helpful and then asked, “Do I set my alarm ahead an hour, too?” “Only if you want to get up an hour later.”
Anyway, I love daylight savings time. Farmers apparently hate it but my response to that is, hey, I’m not a farmer. The best part about it this year is that Congress also extended daylight savings time three weeks later into November. All of which means only one thing: more golf!
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Calvin Peete.