Wednesday, December 31, 2008

PGA Tour Suspends Daly

John Daly finally got his comeuppance from the PGA Tour which suspended him for six months for bad conduct. Daly himself announced the suspension just weeks after he spent the night in jail after being found drunk on a Winston-Salem sidewalk. The suspension is just another blemish on a career that also includes two major championships. In recent years, Daly has become a caricature of himself – hard drinking, gambling, fights with his wife, missed cuts, DQs, WDs, and on and on. Daly plans to play in Europe because his five-year exemption as a past PGA Tour champion expires this year. Daly said he wasn’t sure when the suspension started and the PGA Tour does not comment on disciplinary actions. This is not Daly’s first strike. The tour suspended him in 1993 for quitting in the middle of a round in an unofficial tournament at Kapalua and he sat out the last five months the next year after getting into a fight a spectator in Akron, Ohio.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Kent Jones.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Obama Hits the Links

President-elect Obama relaxed in Hawaii today by playing a round of golf. He looked pretty sporty in a white golf shirt, khaki shorts, a Secret Service cap and shades. My deputy managing editor was critical of the cargo shorts but I think he needed the big pockets to store extra balls because he acknowledged to reporters that “I’m not that good.” He did adopt the look of fellow southpaw Phil Mickelson by wearing his watch while playing, something Mr. Fairway never does. I also liked part of his snack at the turn – hot dogs, orange soda, Coke and Powerade. But he also purchased something called a “Spam musabi,” described as a local specialty that features the aforementioned mystery meat and a fried egg on a bed of rice and held together with a seaweed wrap. Yuck. No word what Obama shot on the par 72 Olomana Golf Links, a public course which is only 6,326 yards from the championship tees.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Ken Still.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Harrington Wins Player of the Year Honors

Padraig Harrington, who won the British Open and the PGA Championship, was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year for 2008. Earlier this week, Harrington won the same honor from the Golf Writers Association of America. Harrington beat Tiger Woods who won four of the six tournaments he entered, including the U.S. Open, before being sidelined with a knee injury. Vijay Singh, Camilo Villegas and Kenny Perry also were on the ballot for player of the year. In a vote by tour players, Andres Romero of Argentina won the rookie of the year award and Dudley Hart won comeback player of the year.Bernhard Langer was Champions Tour player of the year and Brendan de Jonge winning the Nationwide Tour award. The golf writers name Jay Haas as the Champions Tour player of the year and Lorena Ochoa as the LPGA Tour player of the year.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Jim Colbert.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tempest in a C Cup

Steve Williams, the bad boy caddie for Tiger Woods who smashes cameras of unruly photographers, gave an interview to The Guardian in which he calls out Phil Mickelson. Williams, at home in New Zealand, said he wouldn’t call Mickelson a great player because “I hate the prick." Nice. With a touch of no class, he followed that comment with a story about fan at this summer’s U.S. Open at Torrey Pines where Woods and Mickelson were paired together in the first two rounds. According to Williams, as Woods and Mickelson were walking down the 17th fairway, someone in the gallery shouted, "Phil," in Mickelson's direction. Mickelson did not respond. But when the fan called out, “Hey, Mr Mickelson." Phil turned and waved. Williams said the fan yelled out, "Nice tits." Naturally, the gallery got a huge chuckle out of that. In an interview the next day with New Zealand-based Star Times, Williams also said, "I don't particularly like the guy. He pays me no respect at all and hence I don't pay him any respect. It's no secret we don't get along either." Mickelson took the high road. "After seeing Steve Williams' comments all I could think of was how lucky I am to have a class act like Bones (MacKay) on my bag and representing me." Shame on Williams for mouthing off. Tiger also issued a statement on Monday. "I was disappointed to read the comments attributed to Steve Williams about Phil Mickelson, a player that I respect," he said. "It was inappropriate. The matter has been discussed and dealt with." Hope Tiger told Stevie to shut his pie hole. It will be interesting to hear what Tiger says at his news conference on Wednesday in advance of his annual Chevron World Challenge event in California.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to J.C. Snead.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Daly Smashes Fan's Camera

Bad boy John Daly did his best Stevie Williams impression in Sydney, Australia Thursday when he smashed a spectator’s camera into a tree. Daley, en route to a 6 over par 78 in the Australian Open, was on the ninth hole – his last of the day – when he pushed a tee shot off the fairway. He stomped into a clump of trees where a spectator tried to take a picture of Daly at close range. Daly snatched the camera and smashed it against the nearest tree, telling the man, "You want it back, I'll buy you a new one." He later released a statement via tournament organizers saying the spectator put his camera within six inches of his face. “My eyes are still burning from the flash of the camera,” Daly said. “I feel it was very rude to put a camera that close to somebody's face in any situation. The guy that had the camera had already taken a dozen shots at close range." Daly took a penalty drop, finished the hole with a bogey and stormed off the course immediately after signing his card. Australian PGA officials are reviewing the incident and could impose a fine or other sanctions against Daly.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Greg Powers.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Azinger Out; Pavin To Leader Ryder Cup Team

Paul Azinger will not return as the U.S. Ryder Cup captain in 2010, opening the door for Corey Pavin to lead the Americans when they challenge the Europeans in Wales. The official announcement will be made by the PGA of America on Thursday in New York. Azinger was praised for breaking the Europeans’ stranglehold on the cup, which they won three straight times. He did it without the services of injured Tiger Woods. Although it was apparent that Azinger wanted to be asked to captain the U.S. team, the feeling here is that he had nothing to gain and everything to lose by taking on the captain’s role again. Pavin, known as the “Gritty Little Bruin” for his determined style of play, had a record of 8-5-0 in three Ryder Cups, two of which were American wins.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Bob Menne.

Q-School Hits, Misses

The PGA Tour Q-School ended Monday with the usual ups and downs that will help determine the futures of 163 professional golfers. Harrison Frazar won the event, helped by a 59. Others who will return to the big money next year include: Notah Begay, Chris Riley, Jay Williamson, John Huston, Glen Day and Mathias Gronberg.

Those not so lucky (hint: it might be time to find a new line of work) included Mark Brooks, Frank Lickliter, Neal Lancaster, Jason Day, Jason Gore, Olin Browne, Chris Smith, Tommy Gainey, Robert Damron, Willie Wood, Bubba Dickerson, Guy Boros, Brad Elder, Carlos Franco, Robert Gamez, Bob May and Kevin Stadler. They will be relegated to the Nationwide Tour.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Brian Watts.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Wie Will Get Card

Barring a final round blow-up (hey, anything can happen!), Michelle Wie will get her LPGA Tour card tomorrow. She shot a 68 on Saturday for a four round total of -14, good enough for second place behind Stacy Lewis and nine shots clear of the top 20 cutoff.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Bruce Zabriski.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Q-School Time

Yes, it's time for Q-School, those stressful rounds in early December that determine whether touring golf professionals will have a job next year. The PGA Tour wannabes will play six rounds with only the top 25 earning cards. The rest of the 163 players in the field will have status of some sort on the Nationwide Tour. Last year, Frank Lickliter finished first at -29. Alas, he only won $548,113 which put him 149th on the money list and he is back at school again. One former major winner, Mark Brooks, is in this week's field.

On the LPGA Tour, entrants will play five rounds. The field will be cut to the low 70 and ties after 72 holes and the top 20 finishers will earn their cards. Michelle Wie is in the field and was T-6 after the first round at -3.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Mike Nicolette.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Skins Game? So What

The annual Skins Game, the first big money silly season event, will be played again this weekend but Mr. Fairway suspects very few golf fans will bother to tune in. Why should they with a field that is low on the excitement scale? Defending champion Stephen Ames, Phil Mickelson, Rocco Mediate and the effervescent K.J. Choi don't excactly make for compelling golf. How did Ames, who is ranked 34th in the world, get into the event in the first place? We like Phil and Rocco, who is living off his dramatic duel with Tiger Woods at the U.S. Open, but will they offer any real excitement? Probably not. In the old days, it was fun to watch Nicklaus and Trevino and Watson compete for gobs of money. Today, these guys can make $250,000 for wearing the patch of a dog food company on the sleeve of their shirt. The format is old and outdated. Perhaps if they were playing for their own money it might be interesting. It's time to pull the plug on this Thanksgiving weekend turkey. Mr. Fairway will be watching football.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Steve Lamontagne.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Buick Bails on Tiger

General Motors announced today that it will end its estimated $7 million a year endorsement deal with Tiger Woods, who was sponsored by Buick for the past nine years. The news should not come as a surprise given that the auto makers were in Washington, D.C. last week looking for a government bailout. Perhaps GM would have more luck asking the largest revenue producer in sports for financial assistance. Or, as my golfing partner John suggests, a reverse sponsorship in which Tiger pays Buick. At least golf fans won’t be subjected to those cheesy Buick commercials.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Russ Cochran.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

J.P. Hayes Calls DQ on Himself

Here’s another example of what sets golf apart from other sports. During the second stage of the PGA Tour’s qualifying competition, J.P. Hayes disqualified himself for using a golf ball not on the USGA approved list. The move ended his bid to obtain his tour card for next season. Hayes unwittingly used the prototype Titleist ball for two shots on the 12th hole in his second round in McKinney, Texas and reported it to a tour official who assessed a two-stroke penalty. After initially thinking he had violated the tour’s one ball rule that requires a competitor to use the same brand and model of golf ball in competition, Hayes realized that the ball was a prototype that was not on the USGA approved list. To that point, Hayes, who shot rounds of 74 and 71, was in good shape to advance to the Q-School finals. Hayes, a two-time winner, played in 28 events last year winning just $312, 152, ranking him 176th on the money list. His best finish was T-9 at the John Deere Classic. I hope tournament sponsors recognize his honesty and that into cnsideration when awarding exemptions next year.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Taylor Smith.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Q-School Update

This is the season when the has-beens and wannabes find themselves at the PGA Tour Qualifying School in attempt to win a coveted pass to big money. Although two more second stage qualifying events are being played this week, quite few former players have already learned their fates by missing the cutoff to advance to the six-round final. The most heartbreaking story -- pun intended -- was that of Erik Compton, who is the recipient of two heart transplants. Compton missed going to the finals by one shot after he hit the 16th green in two in his final round and three putting. He mistakenly believed he needed an eage to make the number.

Among those who might consider finding real work were: Grant Waite, Joel Kribel, J.L. Lewis, Clark Dennis, Omar Uresti, Tom Byrum, J.P. Hayes, Dicky Pride, Skip Kendall, Ryan Armour, Bobby Clampett, Nolan Henke, Len Mattiace, Tom Scherrer, Jim McGovern, David Peoples, Danny Briggs, Trevor Dodds, Jim Gallagher Jr., Mike Heinen, Tipp Isenhour and Billy Andrade.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Wes Ellis.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Golf Industry Tries to Grow the Game

The fact that economy is in the toilet and getting worse with each passing government bailout has not gone unnoticed by those in the golf industry. As a result, a new program was introduced earlier this week with the lofty goal of attracting 700,000 new golfers and enticing them to play 5.7 million rounds in the next five years. The ambitious program is called “Get Ready to Golf” and will enlist nearly 5,000 golf courses across the country that will offer a package of five golf lessons covering basic skills, rules and etiquette for the low price of $99. Cindy Davis, president of Nike Golf, said the program will be rolled out next spring and if successful could generate $700 million for the golf industry. The ambitious program comes at a time when the National Golf Foundation reports that rounds in the United States dropped to 26 million in 2005 compared to 30 million in 2000. The NGF estimates that 3 million people quit playing golf each year and that several hundred of the 3,000 golf courses built between 1990 and 2003 have closed. The core of the “Get Ready to Golf” program is a grass roots effort targeted at getting new golfers out on a golf course and entice them to stay with the game with lessons, golf leagues and family programs.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Tommy Nakajima.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sergio is No. 2

In case you missed it, Sergio Garcia moved into the No. 2 spot in the world golf rankings behind Tiger Woods. Garcia’s victory in the HSBC Champions tournament in China was enough to make him No. 2 and drop Phil Mickelson to No. 3. Garcia’s ranking is the highest of his career. The last European to be ranks as high was Colin Montgomerie in 1996. Wood has held the top ranking for 521 weeks. The rest of the top 10 are: Vijay Singh, Padraig Harrington, Robert Karlsson, Camilio Villegas, Lee Westwood, Anthony Kim, and Henrik Stenson.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Pierre Faulke.

Friday, October 31, 2008

John Daly Arrested

A picture is worth a thousand words.
Here is the mug shot after John Daly was arrested for being drunk and uncooperative outside a (surprise) Hooters in Winston-Salem, NC. 'Nuff said.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Randy Glover.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tiger the Caddie

How cool would this be? Tiger Woods showed up at Torrey Pines on Monday and caddied the back nine of the South Course for a 59-year-old high handicapper from New Jersey. Woods drove up to the 10th tee in a golf cart and told John Abel, "Hey, I hear you're looking for a caddie. I'm Tiger Woods -- pleased to meet you." Abel won a sweepstakes sponsored by Buick, which also sponsored the Buick Open at Torrey Pines, site of Tiger’s U.S. Open victory in June. Woods offered Abel advice, cleaned his clubs and lined up putts. The pin on 18 Monday was in the same place as it was during the final round of regulation at the U.S. Open -- front right -- when Woods made a 12-foot birdie putt to force a playoff with Rocco Mediate. After the round, Woods dropped a ball in the same spot and let Abel attempt the putt, which he missed.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Rives McBee.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Pray For Seve

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Seve Ballesteros who confirmed this weekend that he has a brain tumor. He will undergo a biopsy tomorrow to determine a course of treatment. The swashbuckling Spaniard, known for miraculous recovery shots, faces what he called “the hardest challenge” of his life. "Throughout my career I have been among the best at overcoming challenges on the golf course," the five-time major winner said in a statement released by Madrid's La Paz hospital. "Now I want to be the best confronting the hardest challenge of my life, with all my strength, counting on all of you who are sending me encouraging messages." Ballesteros, 51, was admitted to the hospital Monday after briefly losing consciousness. During his career, Ballesteros won 87 titles worldwide, including nine PGA Tour tournaments. He won two Masters (1980 and 1983) and three British Opens (1979, 1984 and 1988). Seve competed in eight Ryder Cups where he had an overall record of 20-12-5 and was captain of the victorious 1997 team.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Doug Weaver.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hole Outs!

Mr. Fairway isn’t one to brag about his golf game, inconsistent as it is, but he can’t help mentioning two great shots from the season. Earlier this summer, he holed out a lob wedge from about 60 yards for an eagle three on a short par five. Yesterday, playing a great Robert Trent Jones Sr. golf course at Cacapon State Park in West Virginia, he did it again. After badly hooking his drive on the 408 yard 7th hole, Mr. Fairway safely punched an 8-iron back to the fairway 57 yards from the center of the green (according to the marker on the post that indicates where carts must leave the fairway). He pulled out the trusty lob wedge and knocked it in for a birdie three. Alas, because of the configuration of both holes with the cups cut behind mounds, Mr. Fairway didn’t see either shot actually go into the hole. Nevertheless, nothing is sweeter than walking up to the green a finding your Titleist in the cup.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Gary Groh.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Daly Does Europe

John Daly reportedly is considering taking his act – drinking, gambling, missed cuts, high scores -- to Europe next year. One has to believe that his interest in the European Tour is directly related to the fact that he no longer is competitive in the U.S. making just five cuts in 16 tournaments this year and winning a meager $56,017. The former PGA and British Open champion, who is now ranked number 737 in the world, is becoming a caricature of himself known more for his off-course antics. Golf fans still turn out to see him perhaps as much to see his prodigious drives, but also to see if he will have a meltdown. Daly has been living off sponsor exemptions but even those started drying up after he spent part of a rain delay at the Pods Championship in the Hooters beer tent and returned on Saturday after missing the cut. Former swing coach Butch Harmon fired him as a student and he lost his invite to Arnold Palmer’s tournament for missing the pro am. He also showed up playing golf with an Arkansas TV reporter wearing blue jeans and no shirt over his humongous gut, which made for an entertaining You Tube video. It will be interesting to see how Daly’s European vacation turns out.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Ed Fiori.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

PGA Tour Has Heart

The PGA Tour has a heart after all. Erik Compton, who received his second heart transplant four months ago, leaned this week that the tour has approved his request to use a cart during his upcoming Q-School rounds. Compton, who has played on the Nationwide Tour, had his first heart transplant when he was 12 years old. Last October, he suffered a heat attack and doctors told him his survival depended on him receiving another heart. He received his second transplant in May and sought permission from the tour to use a cart for this fall’s Q-School. The tour also approved his use of beta blockers, a banned substance, because they are part of his medical prescriptions. The tour’s approval for Compton is a marked change from the stance it took when Casey Martin, whose diseased leg prevented him from walking the course, had to sue sued the PGA Tour under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Martin played on the Nike Tour and won a tournament in 1998. He earned his tour card in 2000 but did not retain it. The Supreme Court ruled in his favor in 2001. Best of luck to Erik Compton.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Ed Furgol.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tour Championship, Yawn

The first round of the season-ending Tour Championship tees off tomorrow at East Lake in Atlanta. Tim Finchem and the boys at FedEx who paid big bucks to sponsor the culmination of the PGA Tour's playoffs must be apoplectic. Why? First, the tournament is a big yawn. Vijay Singh only has to show up and breathe on a mirror to collect the $10 million first prize. Even with the changes that Finchem made after last year's predictable finish, Singh has a mortal lock on first place. Second, after watching the Ryder Cup -- only the most exciting and compelling golf event since this year's U.S. Open playoff -- last weekend, who is going to tune in to see the rich get richer, especially when the winner in waiting is badly in need of a personality transplant and the best golfer in the world (remember him?) is still recovering from knee surgery? My guess is that college football and pro football will dominate the TV ratings and that the Tour Championship won't come close to drawing the audience that watched the Ryder Cup. Most of Mr. Fairway's golf buddies didn't even know that the event was being played this week. Time for Finchem and company to go back to the drawing board for another round of changes.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Gibby Gilbert.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ryder Cup Grades

Here are Mr. Fairway’s grades for the U.S. Ryder Cup team:

Captain Paul Azinger – A U.S. captain deserves credit for building a solid team, getting them to bond, leading the Thursday night pep rally and sending out a lineup on Sunday designed to putt pressure on the Europeans. Bringing in Payne Stewart’s widow and children was a nice human touch. Is there a precedent for a repeat performance? Yes, actually. Ben Hogan captained the 1947 and 1949 teams.

Anthony Kim – A+ (2-1-1) Not only did he help Mickelson post his only win, he dusted Sergio Garcia in the open match Sunday to set the tone for the victorious U.S. team.

Boo Weekley – A+ (2-0-1) The crowd favorite who impressed with remarkable ball striking and clutch putting, this good ol’ boy can flat play.

Hunter Mahan - A (2-0-3) The brash rookie, a captain’s pick, teamed well with Leonard. He made a huge putt on 17 on Sunday for a 1-up lead and then settled for a halve against Paul Casey when his drive on No. 18 found the water.

J.B. Holmes – A (2-0-1) A controversial captain’s pick, the Kentucky bomber proved up to the task as one of three undefeated Americans.

Jim Furyk – A- ( 2-1-1) Furyk, who never trailed in his singles match against Miguel Angel Jimenez, clinched the U.S. victory.

Justin Leonard – B+ (2-1-1) The U.S. team rode Leonard’s hot putter to first and second day leads. He faltered Sunday against Robert Karlsson.

Kenny Perry – B+ (2-1-1) Built his whole year around qualifying for the team and did not disappoint the home fans. Came up big on Sunday despite taking pain pills for an arm problem.

Chad Campbell – B (2-1-0) Redeemed himself with a singles win over Padraig Harrington on Sunday.

Ben Curtis – C+ (1-1-1) A singles win over Lee Westwood salvaged his Ryder Cup.

Phil Mickelson – C (1-2-2) Poor Phil. He rode Kim to his only victory but couldn’t find another win and lost a singles match on Sunday for an overall record of 2-15. Needs more work with Butch Harmon on the wayward driver.

Stewart Cink – C (1-2-0) Rhymes with stink the first couple days with erratic play and poor putting.

Steve Stricker – C- (0-2-1) His highlight was making a critical putt on No. 18 on Saturday to halve a match for his only half point. Outgunned by Euro star Ian Poulter on Sunday.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Gary Nicklaus.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

U.S. Wins Ryder Cup

The U.S. Ryder Cup team ended nearly a decade of frustration Sunday by defeating Europe 16 ½ to 11 ½ as chants of “USA, USA” reverberated across the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville. U.S. Captain Paul Azinger, who persuaded the PGA give him four captains picks and changed the order of play, gets credit for the win while Nick Faldo, his European counterpart, will get roasted in the British press. The U.S. team was led by unlikely heroes Anthony Kim, who dusted Sergio Garcia in the first singles match on Sunday to set the tone for the Americans, and Boo Weekley, the self-proclaimed good ol’ boy who made seven birdies and an eagle on Sunday after galloping down the first fairway using his driver as a make believe horse. Europe saw its hopes evaporate when the triumvirate of Garcia, Lee Westwood and Pardraig Harrington went a combined 0-7-5 for a measly 2 ½ points. Save for Robert Karlsson and Ian Poulter, the controversial captain’s choice, the Europeans played like girly men. The stirring victory by the Americans over the heavily favored European team, the raucous cheers for Kentucky natives Kenny Perry (2-1-1) and J.B. Holmes (2-0-1), the dramatic shots and the wire-to-wire victory will make this Ryder Cup one for the ages.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Harold Henning.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

U.S. Will Win Ryder Cup

Mr. Fairway is going out on a limb and picking the U.S. team to upset Europe in the Ryder Cup. Yes, he knows that Europe is the favorite and has more top-ranked players than the red, white and blue. Yes, he knows that the U.S. hasn't won the Ryder Cup since 1999. Yes, he knows that the best player in the world a.k.a. Tiger Woods is MIA because of knee surgery. But here some other factors to consider. First, the U.S. has home course advantage with the matches being played at the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky. Two members of the U.S. team, Kenny Perry and J.B. Holmes, are Kentuckians and if Captain Paul Azinger pairs them together, the crowd could be really crazy. Speaking of Azinger, he is going to be a better captain than his counterpart, Nick Faldo, who was never well-like by his fellow pros. Faldo already has drawn criticism for not picking Ryder Cup stalwart Colin Montgomerie and Darren Clarke, who has won three times this year on the European tour. Azinger has some young guns on his team who know no fear and can play lights out. Mr. Fairway predicts that Anthony Kim will beat Sergio Garcia in singles on Sunday to give the U.S. team a 14 1/2 - 13 1/2 victory.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Bob Dickson.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ryder Cup Records

Here are the career Ryder Cup records for both teams:

Paul Casey 3-1-2
Sergio Garcia 14-4-2
Soren Hansen 0-0-0
Padraig Harrington 7-8-2
Miguel Angel Jiminez 1-3-0
Robert Karlsson 0-1-2
Graeme McDowell 0-0-0
Ian Poulter 1-1-0
Justin Rose 0-0-0
Henrik Stenson 1-1-0
Lee Westwood 14-8-3
Oliver Wilson 0-0-0

United States
Chad Campbell 1-3-2
Stewark Cink 3-5-4
Ben Curits 0-0-0
Jim Furyk 6-12-2
J.B. Holmes 0-0-0
Anthony Kim 0-0-0
Justin Leonard 0-3-5
Hunter Mahan 0-0-0
Phil Mickelson 9-12-4
Kenny Perry 0-2-0
Steve Stricker 0-0-0
Boo Weekley 0-0-0

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Bobby Gage.

Ryder Cup Formats

I don’t know about you but every time the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup are played, I get confused about the formats. The Ryder Cup, which starts on Friday, will open with four matches of fourball in the morning followed by four matches of foursomes in the afternoon. On Saturday, the order is reversed with four matches of foursomes in the morning and four matches of fourball in the afternoon. Here’s the difference between the two.

Fourball play is a match in which each member of the two-man team plays his own ball so four balls are in play per hole. Each team counts its best ball against the other team’s best ball. The team with the lowest score wins the hole. If the teams tie their best ball score, the hole is halved.

In foursomes, each two man team play against the other two man team, but each team plays only one ball and they alternate hitting shots with that ball until the hole is completed. Team members alternate hitting tee shots with one player teeing off on the odd numbered holes and the other playing hitting tee shots on the even numbered holes. The team with the better score wins the hole and if the two teams tie, the hole is halved.

The third format is singles in which all 12 members of each team play an 18-hole match against an opponent from the other team. The singles matches will be contested on Sunday.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Brian Barnes.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wie to Q School

Michelle Wie finally wised up. After running out of options to play on the LPGA Tour, Wie is entering Q-school in attempt to secure playing privileges on the women’s tour. Unable to earn enough money to obtain her card through sponsor’s exemption, Wie really had not other choice. Her first round of Q-school is next week in Rancho Mirage, California. The top 30 advance to the final stage in Florida in December where the top 20 finishers and ties earn their cards. Wie’s professional career has been rocky to say the least. She abruptly withdrew from Annika Sorenstam’s event, she was DQ’d for failing to sign her scorecard at the State Farm Classic and she had a wrist injury that kept her out of action. She also drew criticism for repeated attempts – unsuccessful – to make the cut in PGA Tour events. Her agent quit and swing coach David Leadbetter criticized her for accepting sponsor’s exemptions to play with the men. Wie turns 19 in early October.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Sandra Post.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Singh Clinches FedEx Cup

Despite a T-44 finish at the BMW Championship in St. Louis this weekend, Vijay Singh locked up the FedEx Cup $10 million first prize. Singh, who won the first two FedEx Cup playoff tournaments, only has to show up at the Tour Championship in Atlanta in two weeks, play four rounds and sign his scorecard. You’d think that would make the mercurial Singh happy, right? Hard to say because the churlish pro refused to talk to the media after his round Sunday. Mr. Fairway understands that the media can be a pain the rear but Singh should at least have the courtesy to answer a few questions and pretend to be excited about cashing a big check. Perhaps the PGA Tour should institute a rule that players have to meet the media following their rounds. The attitude displayed by Singh is one reason he is not a fan favorite. Not that we would ever wish him bad luck, but how sweet it would be to see him DQ’d and miss out on the big prize.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Steve Reid.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

LPGA Reverses Language Rule

It didn’t take long for the LPGA Tour to reverse course on its plans to suspend players who don’t learn to speak English. LPGA Tour commissioner Carolyn Bivens, who concocted the policy, will present a revised plan at the end of the year. The new plan will not include suspensions, she said, but may include fines for players who can’t speak English. "We have decided to rescind those penalty provisions," Bivens said in a statement. "After hearing the concerns, we believe there are other ways to achieve our shared objective of supporting and enhancing the business opportunities for every tour player." Bivens and the LPGA drew heavy and deserved criticism for the original plan which was viewed as discriminatory against foreign players, especially Asians. The LPGA Tour has more than 120 foreign players representing 26 countries. No major sport has a language requirement in its bylaws. Major league baseball helps foreign players learn English in the minors. She argued that international players who could communicate effectively in English would improve the pro-am experience, sponsor relations and could help land endorsements for the players. However, State Farm, a major sponsor, said it was perplexed by the original policy and the company asked Bivens to review its decision.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Sherri Turner.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tommy Bolt R.I.P.

Tommy Bolt, winner of the 1958 U.S. Open, but better known for his legendary temper, died last weekend in his native Oklahoma. He was 92. “Terrible Tommy” won 15 tournaments in his career which was marked by his propensity for throwing and breaking clubs. Bolt suggested his reputation was a bit overblown but acknowledged that sometimes his temper got the best of him. Bolt often told the story about how he was playing the Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach one year when he had 135 yards left to the 16th hole. He turned to his caddie and asked for a 7-iron, and the caddied replied, "It's either a 3-iron or a 3-wood. Those are the only clubs you have left." Bolt also played on two U.S. Ryder Cup teams and for years was co-owner of the tour scoring record, having shot 60 in 1954 at Wethersfield (Conn.) Country Club in the second round of the Insurance City Open.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Tom Siekman.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tiger's No. 2

Tiger Woods announced on his web site today that he and his wife, Elin, are expecting their second child. Woods, who is recovering from knee surgery, said the baby will arrive later this winter. Their first child, a daughter named Sam, was born the Monday after the 2007 U.S. Open.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Casey Martin.

Azinger Announces Picks

U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Paul Azinger announced this morning that he selected Steve Stricker, Hunter Mahan, J.B. Holmes and Chad Campbell to fill out the team that will compete against Europe in the matches that start Sept. 19. (Mr. Fairway correctly predicted Stricker, Mahan and Holmes.) “We’ve rounded off this team with the best possible players at this time,” he said. Azinger would not talk about players he did not choose but noted that Woody Austin and Rocco Mediate would have been good additions to a squad that will not include Tiger Woods. Azinger said he liked Stricker, winner of consecutive comeback players awards, and Holmes, the only captain’s pick to win a tournament this year, all along. Holmes, a long hitter, is from Kentucky and has played Valhalla hundreds of times. Azinger noted that not having Woods, who is still recovering from knee surgery, on the team is a big disappointment. Woods may visit Valhalla and Azinger will have an open phone line to him during the matches. Here is the U.S. lineup with their world rankings. R = rookie:

Phil Mickelson – 2
Stewart Cink – 7
Kenny Perry – 17
Jim Furyk – 13
Anthony Kim (R) – 16
Justin Leonard –24
Ben Curtis (R) – 32
Boo Weekley (R) – 33
Steve Stricker (R) – 10
Hunter Mahan (R) – 38
J.B. Holmes (R) – 52
Chad Campbell – 61

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Buddy Gardner.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Faldo Adds Poulter, Casey

European Ryder Cup captain Nick Faldo announced Ian Poulter and Paul Casey as his choices to fill out his team. Faldo was criticized in some European circles for passing on Darren Clarke, who is rounding back into form following the death of his wife. Here is a look at Team Europe and their world golf ranking. R = rookie. U.S. Captain Paul Azinger will announce his four captain's picks tomorrow.

Padraig Harrington -- 3
Sergio Garcia -- 4
Lee Westwood -- 12
Henrik Stenson -- 6
Robert Karlsson -- 21
Miguel Angel Jimenez -- 18
Graeme McDowell (R) -- 29
Justin Rose (R) -- 14
Soren Hansen (R) -- 45
Oliver Wilson (R) -- 51
Ian Poulter -- 23
Paul Casey – 35

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Bob Zender.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Berlitz LPGA Tour

Looks like the LPGA is trying to line up Berlitz and Rosetta Stone as its new sponsors. What else can they be thinking with the announcement that the women’s tour is requiring its members to learn and speak English by the end of 2009 or risk losing their playing privileges? All players who have been on the LPGA Tour for two years will have to pass an oral evaluation of their English. LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens informed the players of the policy this week. Clearly, the LPGA is concerned about the preponderance of South Korean players on its tour and how they relate – or don’t relate – to U.S. golf fans. I recall seeing a leader board at one LPGA tournament this summer that read like the Seoul phone book: Kim, Lee, Park, Lee, Kim. Mr. Fairway agrees that the LPGA needs to address the influx of Asians on its tour but making them learn English is a bit much, especially when it’s not clear whether they have any personality in the first place. And what about the Swedes? Do they have to learn English, too? What about those LPGA events in South Africa, Singapore and Mexico? Will players be required to speak the native languages of those countries in order to compete? Will players who don’t speak French be allowed to enter the Women’s Canadian Open? Man, I hope the PGA Tour doesn’t follow suit on this one. There is some question whether Boo Weekley can even speak English, much less Spanish (Mayakoba Golf Class in Cancun), French (Canadian Open) or Arabic (Dubai Desert Classic). Who is going to teach Brad Faxon and Tim Herron to talk Texan so they can play in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio?

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Donna Caponi.

Azinger Has Choices

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger will announce his four choices to fill out the American team after this week’s tournament. The top candidates haven’t exactly distinguished themselves in the weeks since the PGA Championship. Steve Stricker was bumped from automatically qualifying for the team when Ben Curtis had a strong PGA and Boo Weekly finished ahead of him. Stricker bounced back with the 36-hole lead as he defended his Barclay’s championship but ballooned to a 77 in the third round. Sticker should make the team based on his putting and a nice record in last year’s President’s Cup. Woody Austin is next on the points list but his putting is atrocious and Azinger would be wise to look elsewhere. There is a lot of sentiment for Rocco Mediate who stunned himself and the golf world by taking Tiger Woods to a playoff in the U.S. Open. He certainly would be a sentimental choice. J.B. Holmes is a big bomber who could do well at Valhalla. Hunter Mahan got hot briefly and also had a nice President’s Cup where he teamed well with Stricker. If Azinger wants the young guns, Mahan and Brandt Snedeker would be good choices. David Toms can’t be overlooked, either as the veteran has played better of late. Mr. Fairway thinks Azinger will select Stricker, Mahan, Holmes and Mediate.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Bob Duden.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Golf Is Not An Olympic Sport

As the Olympics wind down, it’s time to address the question of whether golf should be included in future games. Mr. Fairway’s view is that golf should not be included in the Olympics. First, golf is not an Olympic sport. I know that those who support putting golf in the Olympics will point out that the games now include tennis, BMX, beach volleyball, gymnastics with a ribbon and a host other questionable “sports.” But how does adding golf to the Olympics add anything to the games and become anything more than just another tournament? How many holes – 36, 54, 72? Would it be a team event or an individual event? How do you qualify? Amateurs or pros – probably all pros as is the case in every other sport in the games including basketball, tennis and swimming. Do you really want to watch four guys from Jamaica play golf? So Tiger Woods would win a golf medal. That’s nice for him. The professionals already complain about having to play in the Ryder Cup and the President’s Cup without getting paid. How do you think they would react to playing in the Olympics? With the major tournaments, the world golf events, international competitions, etc., golf really doesn’t need the Olympics. Just say no to golf in the Olympics.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Simon Hobday.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Handy Dandy Rules Book

Mr. Fairway recently received a nifty little golf rules book that includes simple language and easy to understand illustrations for the most common situations encountered on the course. Golf Rules Quick Reference by Yves C. Ton-That is a plastic-coated spiral bound flip guide that fits easily into your golf bag. The back cover has a nice little chart that illustrates procedures for loose impediments, movable obstructions, immovable obstructions and abnormal ground conditions for questions covering fairway and rough, bunkers, water hazards and the green. The chart purports to cover 80 percent of golfers' rule questions. The inside pages cover most of the rules and procedures including drops, provisional balls, the teeing ground, identifying balls, lost balls, out of bounds, water hazards, unplayable lies, advice, etc. and the situations indicate the penalties in stroke play and match play. Mr. Fairway is putting this in his golf bag and recommends that you invest $9.95 and do the same. Check it out at

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Ted Purdy.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Orville Moody R.I.P.

Orville Moody, the former Army sergeant who won the 1969 U.S. Open, died recently at the age of 74. Moody was one of those unknown golfers who came out of nowhere to claim the U.S. Open and then disappeared into obscurity. Moody's victory over Deane Beman, Al Geigberger and Bob Rosburg was considered a fluke because nobody had ever heard of him. He bounced around the PGA Tour with little success, partly because he was horrible with the putter. One writer recalled that he only needed two putts from 25 feet to win the Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach over Jack Nicklaus and Raymond Floyd in 1973 but three-putted and lost in a playoff. He soon went to the long putter and his career was reborn when he turned 50 and proved he was not just a flash in the pan by winning 11 tournaments on the senior tour, including the U.S. Senior Open. Then he disappeared again and yes, he was one of Mr. Fairway's first "whatever happened to" players.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Mark Hayes.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Match By Mark Frost

Mr. Fairway is at the beach this week and while lolling in the sun finished reading The Match: The Day the Game of Golf Changed Forever by Mark Frost. The book chronicles an 18-hole challenge at Cypress Point between a team of pros Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson and top amateurs Ken Venturi and Harvie Ward. Two millionaires – Eddie Lowery (who caddied for Francis Ouimet) and George Coleman – made the bet on the eve of Bing Crosby’s 1956 pro-am at Pebble Beach. Frost, who also wrote about Ouimet’s 1913 U.S. Open victory (The Greatest Game Ever Played), offers a detailed account of duel interspersed with interesting background on the players and their relationships. Hogan was in his prime and Nelson had already retired to this ranch in Texas. Venturi had yet to turn pro and Ward was the most decorated amateur of the time. This is a great read that was especially interesting to Mr. Fairway because it brought back many memories of his round at Cypress Point a decade ago. Mr. Fairway’s only quibble is that the subtitle is a quite a stretch of literary license. But it’s a wonderfully written book that offers nice historical context to the rise in popularity of professional golf.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Carl Paulson.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Arnold Palmer Wine

The only thing Mr. Fairway knows about wine is that if the bottle doesn't have a screw top or come in a box, it must be pretty good. He was shopping at his local grocery store last week and noticed that the Arnold Palmer Chardonnay (retail $15 per bottle) was on sale. Always a big fan of The King (not Elvis, although Mr. Fairway likes him, too), he purchased two bottles. Arnold Palmer Chardonnay is now the official chardonnay of Mr. Fairway. It's not Chalk Hill by any stretch of the imagination, but Mr. Fairway loves the robust, oaky flavor of Arnie's chard and is looking forward to trying his Cabernet Sauvignon. Try it, you'll like it.

By the way, Palmer is not the only golfer to get into the wine business. Greg Norman, Nick Price, Luke Donald, Ernie Els, David Frost and Mike Weir all have their own wine labels. Mr. Fairway may try them in the future, but for now he is staying loyal to The King.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Bret Ogle.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Wie Shoots 80 for 0-8

Michelle Wie's latest attempt to make a cut in a PGA Tour event ended with rounds of 73-80 at the Legends Reno-Tahoe Open, marking the eighth time she is MC in a men's tour event. Message to Michelle: Enough already; hang it up; end the fantasy that you can play with the big boys. She missed the cut by eight shots in an event that included such "legends" as Guy Boros, Lance Ten Broeck (who most recently has been a caddie), Barry Jaekel, Scott Gump and Spike McRoy.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Danielle Ammaccapane.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tiger Pitches Congressional Members

Len Shapiro of The Washington Post reports that Tiger Woods and PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem met with 500 members of Congressional Country Club in Potomac, Md. last night in an effort to persuade them to host his AT&T National golf tournament for the next six years. Woods, who was limping on his sore knee but did not have crutches or a cane, wants the club to host his July 4 weekend tournament from 2012 to 2017. Congressional will host its third U.S. Open in 2011. Shapiro reports that the club prefers the tournament be held before Memorial Day. Congressional members will vote by mail this summer and a decision will be announced after Labor Day. During his five-minute presentation, Woods expressed how much he and his fellow players respect the golf course. Maybe so, but the question Mr. Fairway would have asked is if that's true, why did so many of those players stay away from the tournament this year? Only three of the top 20 ranked players participated in the event, which had a weaker field than some of the old Kemper Opens at TPC Avenel down the road. Mr. Fairway wonders if the membership at Congressional really wants or needs the annual interruption of a PGA Tour event. Guess we will find out.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Pete Brown.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Norman Passes on PGA

Greg Norman, who failed in his attempt to win the British Open two weeks ago, has decided not to accept an invitation to play in the PGA Championship next week. Darn. We wanted to see if he could lose another major like he did at the PGA in 1986 when Bob Tway holed a bunker shot to beat him.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Dudley Wysong.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wie To Play Reno-Tahoe -- Yawn

Would Michelle Wie please just go away? After failing to sign her scorecard at an LPGA event last week, Wie announced that she will play in the PGA Tour’s Legends Reno-Tahoe Open. That’s right; Wie is going to tee it up with the men again. This will be her eighth time playing a PGA Tour event. She has never made a cut playing with the men and Mr. Fairway lays 10-1 she won’t make the cut in Tahoe. This is a tournament where the guys go low. Steve Flesch won the tournament last year at -15. Wie, who has yet to do anything on the LPGA Tour, should give up this stupid sideshow and try to earn some money playing against her own sex. Shame on the sponsors for letting her in their event.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Shirley Englehorn.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Harrington Wins, Norman Gags Again

Gee, what a shock, Greg Norman failed to close the deal on a major championship Sunday. Norman, known for meltdowns and stunning defeats in golf’s biggest tournaments, had a chance at 53 to become the oldest winner of a major when he entered the fourth round of the British Open leading by two shots. Perhaps he should have watched some episodes of “The Closer,” the TV show that TNT kept flashing those annoying commercials for during its early morning coverage. Predictably, the Great White Shark’s honeymoon ended in disappointment as Chris Evert’s new husband shot a 77 at Royal Birkdale and finished T-3, six strokes behind Padraig Harrington, who successfully defended his championship. Harrington played the final six holes in four under par, including an eagle the 17th hole to cement the win.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Richard Zokol.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Wie Disqualified in Scorecard Dispute

Michelle Wie is back in the headlines for all the wrong reasons -- again. After finishing the third round of the State Farm Classic with sole possession of second place, the troubled teen was DQ’d for failing to sign her scorecard on Friday. Wie reportedly left the scorer’s trailer without signing her card but volunteers ran after her and she returned and signed the card. LPGA officials didn’t learn of the episode until Wie had already teed off on Saturday. After asking her and her caddie what transpired, Sue Witters, the LPGA director of tournament competitions, issued the DQ because Wie apparently had left a roped off area outside the scorer’s trailer. “She was like a little kid after you tell them there's no Santa Claus," Witters told The Associated Press. You may recall that Wie was DQ’d in the 2005 Samsung World Championship (her first tournament as a pro) for taking an improper drop.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Tammie Green.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Weather Dominates British Open

The first round of the Open Championship, a.k.a. the British Open is in the books. The leader is Willard Scott as Royal Birkdale was whipped by wind, rain and chilly temperatures. Just another day in merry old England. This is what I love about the British Open – players battling the elements. You don’t get to see that on the PGA Tour, especially in the middle of the summer. I hope Kenny Perry is enjoying balmy Milwaukee.

Rocco Mediate, last seen as the celebrated everyman who lost the U.S. Open playoff to Tiger “Wounded Knee” Woods, is tied for the lead with Graeme McDowell and Robert Allenby at -1, 69. Phil Mickelson got off to a great start with 79 and Ernie Els, a tournament favorite, shot 35-45 for an opening 80.

Mr. Fairway’s buddy Mark K. of Minneapolis is running a pool. Mr. Fairway’s lineup includes: Garcia (+2); Westwood (+5); Els (+10); Furyk (+1); Rose (+4); Leonard (+7); Romero (+7); and Goosen (+1). Mr. Fairway did not have Mickelson in his lineup.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Brian Watts.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Choking Dogs

Sometimes these guys are not so good. Take Brad “Taco” Adamonis and Jay Williamson, both of whom are winless on the PGA Tour, in the John Deere Classic on Sunday. Adamonis (wearing a visor with "Taco" stiched on it) choked horribly on a birdie putt on the 72nd hole to win outtright and ended up in a three-way playoff with Williamson and Kenny “No Majors” Perry. On the first hole of sudden death, Adamonis cranked a 3-wood into the trees and instead of laying up and playing for par, did his best Tin Cup impression and dunked his second shot into the greenside pond. Williamson, who owns and equally undistinguished record, hooked his second shot from the middle of the fairway into the same pond. Perry, who skipped the U.S. Open and will play the U.S. Bank Championship a.k.a. the Greater Milwaukee Open, next week instead of the British Open, hit the green and two-putted for his third victory of the year. Really compelling golf from players no one has ever heard of and may never hear from again.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Jim Benepe.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Paula Creamer Birdie Machine

Paula Creamer was on fire in yesterday's first round of the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic. The young American made 11 birdies in route to a course record 60. It will be interesting to see if Miss Pretty in Pink can continue that momentum and win the tournament.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Amy Alcott.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

North Donates Hoops Court

Two-time U.S. Open champion Andy North announced recently that he and his wife will donate a new basketball court for the University of Wisconsin. North, who grew up near Madison but attended the University of Florida, is a die hard Badger fan who attends home and away basketball games and other sporting events. University officials estimated the cost of the new floor, which will be installed for the upcoming basketball season, at $100,000. North is one Mr. Fairway’s all-time favorites ever since he competed against him (badly!) in the Wisconsin high school golf state tournament in the ‘60s.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Bob Bruno.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Mr. Marshal, The Finale

Mr. Fairway is now fully recovered from his stint as a marshal at the AT&T National, although it was touch and go for a while. He worked five days of the tournament, including a 1 hour and 45-minute rain delay on Friday afternoon when there were only two groups left to play.

Overall, it was a good experience. Golf fans in Washington are knowledgeable and except for a few of Steve Marino’s old high school buddies, very well behaved. As for marshalling, the best places are at the green and on the tee, especially if you get to use the blaze orange paddle to indicate the direction of the drive. The worst place to be stationed is at the crosswalk where fans can cross the fairway from the tournament entrance. People at the crosswalk are often in a hurry to get somewhere else and hate being kept behind a rope until the players, caddies and officials pass them by. (Mr. Fairway sympathizes with them.)

Being stationed at the landing areas presents special challenges. If a player drives into the rough, you have to find the ball and stand near it so the PGA Tour’s shotlink device can measure the distance. With a high sky, it can be challenging to see the ball from the tee 300 yards away, hence the orange paddle. If a player misses the fairway and lands on the cart path or other area outside the gallery ropes, the marshal must “protect” the ball, clear fans away, take down ropes, etc. Mr. Fairway was a ball magnet at the landing area on Saturday with no fewer than five stray tee shots raining down on the gallery. No injuries reported.

The number of spectators at the tournament was down, due to the absence of Tiger Woods and a weak field (only five of the top 20 players in the world rankings). Anthony Kim won the event – his second of the year. Mr. Fairway may report for duty next year, but that decision won’t be made until he takes some time off.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Sam Randolph.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Marshal Chronicles, Day One

Mr. Fairway survived his “practice” round as a PGA Tour marshal. Tuesday was practice day for the pros playing in the AT&T National. The course was closed to the public and the only spectators were members of Congressional Country Club and their guests, which made for an easy morning. Four of use took our positions by 7 a.m. – one at the tee, one at the crosswalk down the fairway, one at the landing area and one at the green. We later abandoned the crosswalk when we learned the public gate there would be closed all day. The first player through was Ben Crane, playing by himself. Most players chose a driver for the 407-yard, hole that featured three bunkers at the left corner of the dogleg. The caddies, using yardage devices, indicated it was 301 yards to carry the last bunker. Steve Marino, a young gun who grew up in Northern Virginia and played golf at the University of Virginia, hit a beautiful high draw that landed past the third bunker. Charles Howell III hit is drive nearly as far with a 3-wood. Frank Lickliter smashed his drive with an unlit cigarette dangling from his lips.

At the green, most players putted to the hole and then to various spots around the green that their caddies had marked as likely hole locations during the tournament. A few players like Tommy Armour III hit several shots from the greenside bunker. Several players also hit shots from a deep, shaved collection area behind the green. Mark Wilson hit several with his putter and a few with a sand wedge or a lob wedge. Most impressive, however, were the shots he rolled up the steep embankment with his 5-wood. Mr. Fairway made a note to try that on his home course.

Most players were talkative with the exception of Ryuji Imada and Shigeki Maruyama, who only interacted with their caddies and other friends. The All-Midwest group of Steve Stricker and J.P. Hayes (Wisconsin) and Tim Herron and Cameron Beckman (Minnesota) appeared relaxed and having fun on a sunny, cool morning.

After our morning shift, we drifted over to the putting green and watched Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker roll putts. After watching Fluff Cowan crouch down and retrieve Furyk’s putts and roll his golf balls back to him, Marshal Mike asked Mr. Fairway if he would do the same for him. “Sure – dollar a ball.” Dozens of fans congregated around the putting green and Furyk and Matt Kuchar signed autographs while equipment company reps displayed their wares trying to entice players into trying new magic wands. We wandered down to the range and watched some pros hit balls before calling it a day.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Spike McRoy.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Woody's Pesky Putter

Woody Austin earned his lovable reputation when he did an impression of Aqua Man in the recent President's Cup. On the final holes of the Buick Open this weekend, it was his putter that sunk him. Here's a question: What was uglier -- his putter or his shirt? After making a birdie on the 16th hole to take a one stroke lead over Kenny Perry, Austin promptly three-putted the 17th hole with a horrible approach putt. On the 18th, needing only to two putt to get into a playoff with Perry, Austin gunned his first putt at least 15 feet passed the hole and missed coming back. His performance with the flat stack was no surprise. Austin is 141st on the tour in putting average and ranks 185 in putting from 15-20 feet. He also is 140th in three-putt avoidance. That doesn't bode well for the Ryder Cup, where putting is a premium. Austin currently is ninth in the standings to make the team. If he makes it, Captain Paul Azinger should seek a rules change to get a DP -- Designated Putter -- for Woody.
Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Tom Jenkins.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Wie Wobbles

Michelle Wie pulled a Phil Mickelson in the first round of the U.S. Women's Open on Thursday when she posted a quintuple bogey nine on the 9th hole at Interlachen enroute to a 81. (Mickelson made a quadruple nine during the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.) Wie, playing after a series of injuries, came into Interlachen's par four, 413-yard hole at +1 for the tournament before butchering the hole. She will need a miracle round to make the cut.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Vicki Goetze.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mr. Fairway is Mr. Marshal

Mr. Fairway, who will be a gallery marshal at the AT&T National in July, attended the mandatory orientation meeting tonight. (Mr. Fairway plans to keep his loyal followers updated throughout the tournament which runs July 1-6.) In addition to learning the “drop rope technique” for controlling fairway crosswalks, Mr. Fairway learned how to use the “directional paddles” to indicate the flight of the ball to marshals in the landing areas and to address gallery miscreants with a firm, “Quiet, please!” or “Stand, please.”

However, the number one concern of the 750 marshals who make up more than 50 percent of the tournament’s 1,200 volunteers is … parking, a subject that dominated the 90-minute meeting. Tournament officials assured marshals that their parking passes for Lot C (volunteers) will also be honored in Lot V (vendors). The other big issue is the goody bag, which includes a nifty Nike golf shirt (Carolina blue), a white Nike golf cap, a water bottle, a guest badge, and some coupons for Subway and the California Pizza Kitchen. Veteran volunteers were miffed that the $55 fee did not include a belt this year. By the way, the official marshal badge (oval as opposed to a star) carries a warning that it is “a magnetic device” and should not be used with a pacemaker. Mr. Fairway was sure he saw quite a few pacemaker candidates in the audience. But not to fear, he also learned how to use the radio in case he needs to put out an urgent call for “Marshal down.”

Actually, Mr. Fairway is very excited to work the tournament which was started by Tiger Woods last year and will be played at Congressional Country Club in Potomac, Md. The big discussion is whether or not Woods, who is recovering from knee surgery, will make an appearance at the event. Mr. Fairway's fellow marshal Mike guesses he will show up to hand the trophy to the winner.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Trevor Dodds.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tiger's Apple Core

If Mr. Fairway is stunned by the idiot who is auctioning an apple core allegedly discarded by Tiger Woods during the second round of the recent U.S. Open, he is even more stunned by the 103 morons who have bid on it. Mr. Fairway would love to meet the dope who bid $36,000 for an apple core. Here is the description from the auction site: "I was at the US Open this Friday, following Tiger Woods down the 12th Fairway, after his tee shot, he was eating an apple, 30 yards from his ball he discarded his apple core. I asked a photothe (sic) to kick it over my way, and he did, I never touched the core, Scooped it up in a empty beer cup, as not to disrupt the DNA, Ive got lots of witness'...all moneys go to my daughters college fund." You tell me who is sicker -- the guy who picked up the apple core and put it on E-Bay or the people who have bid on it? By the way, if Mr. Fairway is paying $36,000 for an apple core, he damn sure wants to know what kind of apple it is.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Marty Furgol.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tiger's Wounded Knee; Season Over

The wire services are reporting -- and his web site confirms -- this morning that Tiger Woods is going to have further surgery on his left knee and will miss the rest of the season, including the British Open, the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup. Although Woods himself has not issued a statement, sources close to Woods are suggesting that he needs ACL surgery and that he may have suffered a stress fracture on his left leg two week before winning the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. Tiger could be seen grimacing numerous times during the course of the tournament, which he won in a 19-hole playoff with Rocco Mediate. If true, look for golf ratings on television and at tournaments to decline. Woods was due to play the Buick Open next week and his AT&T Invitatitional in Washington, D.C. the following week. Woods already has had three surgeries on his left knee and a fourth one certainly raises the possibility that it will be career shortening. The smart thing to do would be to get some professional advice, determine what he needs to do to get healthy, and go from there. Mr. Fairway has no cartilage in his left knee and bone wearing on bone makes it difficult to walk 18 holes. NFL players who undergo reconstructive ACL surgery often take 9-12 months -- or more -- to regain playing form. The odds of Woods overtaking Jack Nicklaus's record for 18 majors increase significantly.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Mike Heinen.

Kelly Caddies

Here's a nice story for everyone who thinks PGA Tour pros lack personality. Jerry Kelly kept a commitment to a young girl he met at a pro-junior event at the Sony Open in Hawaii three years ago and caddied for her in a practice round and the opening round of the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship in his navtive Wisconsin. Kelly had told Kristina Merkle that if she qualified for the event at Erin Hills, he would caddie for her. She did and he did, putting on a USGA caddie bib and toting her clubs in route to her first round 76. Hats off to Kelly for keeping a commitment.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Patty Sheehan.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Major Playoffs

Mr. Fairway used to be annoyed that the USGA held fast to tradition and insisted on an 18-hole playoff for the U.S. Open even as golf's other major tournaments instituted means to end their events on the last day of play. The Masters goes to sudden death and certainly some of those finishes such as Larry Mize chipping in to beat Greg Norman have been exciting. the British Open developed the unique four-hole cumulative score playoff and the PGA Championship followed with a three-hole format. But the guardians of the game at the USGA where the shirts come pre-stuffed and the blue blazers have dandruff on the shoulders (and in the pockets) steadfastly refused to bow to the god of television or the fans. But after watching all 19 holes of the Torrey Pines playoff, a.k.a. Tiger's victory of wounded knee, between Woods and Rocco Mediate, I quote one my former golf partners whose favorite saying was, "I like you just the way you are and don't you ever switch." That playoff was great for golf ... perhaps not as great if it had been between Rocco and Lee Westwood ... but now the U.S. Open stands alone on a Monday playoff and I, for one, hope they never switch.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Brian Kamm.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tiger Wins Open in Sudden Death

Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in a 19th hole sudden death playoff against sentimental favorite Rocco Mediate. Woods, who recored his 14th major championship victory, had to birdie the 18th hole to force the issue and then won after Mediate drove his ball in the bunker on the first extra hole -- No. 7 -- and hit his second into a grand stand. He pitched to 20 feet and after Tiger left his birdie putt in short in the heart of the hole, Mediate missed.

It was an exciting climax to a great tournament. Woods, who was plahying his first competitive event after sugery on his left knee, forced himself into contention on Saturday and continued to make great shots. One of the best came on Monday when hit 196-yard shot from a fairway bunker to about eight feet. Mediate birdied that hole, Tiger missed. But it was a great display of golf and the drama will make the 2008 U.S. Open remembered as one of the best ever.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Bob Friend.

Mickelson's Nine

After making a quadruple bogey 9 during Saturday's third round, Phil Mickelson cemented his position as the all-time choking dog of the U.S. Open. Mr. Five Wedges was contending for the lead at the golf course where he grew up and he fails not once, not twice, not three times but four times to put the ball on the green from less than 100 yards. The quad essentially ended his chances for a win before a hometown crowd. Fans say they love Phil's gambling streak, but his Tin Cup performance was more idiocy than gambling. Here's a question: where was his vaunted caddie Bones McKay after the first failed wedge rolled back to his feet? Mickelson may never win a U.S. Open but right now he leads in U.S. Opens thrown away with two -- Winged Foot and Torrey Pines.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Jackie Cupit.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Wie Qualifies for U.S. Open

Michelle Wie will be playing in the U.S. Open after all. No, not at Torrey Pines where the men tee off on Thursday, but at the U.S. Women’s Open at the Interlachen Country Club in suburban Minneapolis later this month. Wie survived 36 holes in the heat and humidity in Rockville, Md. on Monday to finish second in the sectional qualifying event shooting rounds of 70-67. Wie, who had a sixth place finish in last week’s Ladies German Open, was one stroke behind medalist Kelli Kuehne.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Mary Beth Zimmerman.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Tiger, Phil Paired Together at Open

The folks at the USGA who make the pairings for the U.S. Open certainly have a sense of mischief about them. How else can you explain the fact that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are playing together in the first two rounds at Torrey Pines next week? Poor Adam Scott, the third player in the group, may feel totally lost. It may be the most high profile pairing since Woods and Mickelson were partners at the Ryder Cup. I wonder if they will have a little $5 Nassau side bet. Yes, this is an attractive pairing for television and for the spectators. But I think it is really unfair to Mark Calcavecchia, Oliver Wilson and Joe Ogilive, who play in the group immediately in front of Mickelson, Woods and Scott, and to Lee Janzen, Steve Flesch and Rich Beem, who are playing behind the mega-threesome. The crush of crowds and media trying to follow Mickelson and Woods will make it difficult for those groups to concentrate on their work. The other star quality pairings for Thursday and Friday include K.J. Choi, Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker; Stewart Cink, Sergio Garcia and Vijay Singh; and Justin Rose, Geoff Ogilvy and Ernie Els. But the emphasis will be on Phil and Tiger.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to John Schroeder.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Wisconsin Girl Competing Against Boys

The Wisconsin boy’s high school golf tournament is underway in Madison and much of the focus is on a young woman named Ellie Arkin from Reedsburg. Arkin is competing against the boys because her school does not field a girl’s team. She is quite an accomplished player and fired a first round 75 at the University of Wisconsin’s home course, University Ridge. Arkin was six shots behind the first round leader. But Arkin, who has will play for the Badgers next year, is the center of a controversy because she is competing from tees that are 15 percent shorter than the boys are playing. All of that is within WIAA rules. Several years ago, a young woman from Northern Virginia named Jenny Suh won the Virginia boy’s title and the Virginia girl’s title. She also played a shorter course than the boys thus sparking a lot of debate about whether she had an unfair advantage. As the father of two daughters (neither of whom demonstrated any interest in golf) I am all for girls playing and competing. But I am not in favor of girls competing with boys or receiving nearly a 1,000 yard advantage. My question is why isn’t she competing in the girl’s tournament?

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to JoAnne Carner.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Perry Wins Memorial; Skips U.S. Open

So Kenny Perry joins Tiger Woods as the only three-time winners of the Memorial Tournament and virtually secures a position on the Ryder Cup team. Perry, 47, has said for two years that his goal was to make the Ryder Cup team because the match against Europe will be played at Valhalla in his home state of Kentucky. Captain Paul Azinger said last week that he wants players who have won tournaments on the team. Perry said that got his attention. All credit is due to Perry for winning, but he also announced that he is going to pass up the U.S. Open to play in Memphis and Hartford in an attempt to rack up more Ryder Cup points. Two factors may have played into his decision. First, Perry is not exempt for the U.S. Open and would have to compete in a 36-hole qualifier. Second, Perry has never played well at Torrey Pines. But are those really valid reasons to skip the national championship, where by the way, Ryder Cup points double? I don’t think so. Can you imagine Memorial host Jack Nicklaus skipping a major tournament? I don’t think so. So good for Kenny Perry winning a good tournament and good for him for achieving his goal of making the Ryder Cup team. But he deserves criticism for not only skipping but not even trying to get into the U.S. Open.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Orville Moody.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Stricker MC, WD

Steve Stricker missed the cut at the Crowne Plaza Invitational after shooting 74-73 (+7). Now he has withdrawn from The Memorial citing an elbow injury. No word on his status for the U.S. Open where he finished T-13 last year.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Scott Gump.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Mickelson Magic

Just when it looked like Phil Mickelson cost himself another tournament with a wayward drive on the 72nd hole, he did his best Houdini impression and claimed a victory in the Crowne Plaza Invitational in Fort Worth. Mickelson, who held the lead after three rounds, trailed Rod Pampling by a stroke until the Aussie drove his ball into a hazard on the 17th hole at Colonial Country Club. But Mickelson, who had birdied the 18th all three days, hit a high cut into the trees on the left side of the hole -- the same kind of drive that cost him the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Mickelson then drew a high wedge up and over the trees to within 10 feet of the hole and made the putt. By the way, the winning wedge was one of five -- that's right, five -- wedges in his bag this week. Driver, putter, 3-9 iron and five wedges. Yikes. Might have to mark Phil down as a favorite for the U.S. Open in his hometown San Diego next month.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Rick Fehr.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Furyk Surpises Family

Jim Furyk is one classy guy. Jimmy Burch reports in Mr. Fairway’s former newspaper, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, that Furyk made a surprise drop-in visit to a family that had a “We Love Furyk" sign in their front yard. Furyk, in town for the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Country Club, knocked on the door of Marlow family that lives near the course. Michelle Marlow said the former U.S. Open champion wanted to express his thanks for the family’s support. Furyk stuck around and listened to seven-year-old Thomas practice for his piano recital and then gave some golf tips to Henry, 5, in the back yard. Furyk saw the sign in the Marlow’s yard last year and meant to stop after the tournament, but wasn’t able to after he lost in a playoff to Rory Sabbatini. But he did send the family an autographed photo. Suffice to say, Furyk has fans for life in Cowtown.

By the way, the family also has a “Welcome Back Phil” sign in their yard in honor of Phil Mickelson who stopped at the kids’ lemonade stand in 2005 and left a $100 bill for a 50-cent glass.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Mark Brooks.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Stricker's Woes

Regular readers know that Mr. Fairway is in the tank for fellow cheesehead Steve Stricker. But after getting off to a great start – second at the Mercedes-Benz Championship and three other top 10 finishes – Stricker has missed the cut in four if his last five tournaments, including the Masters and the Players. In the four events where he was MC, he has not broken 70. What’s been the difference? A check of his stats shows that he is struggling with his putter. Sticker is 44th in putting average (he finished 6th last year); 111th in putting from 10-15 feet; and 163rd in putting from 15-20 feet. That’s not very good for someone regarded as one of the best putters on the tour.

Stricker is entered in this week’s Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial where last year he was T-24. This is an important week for Stricker, who played well the last two summers in winning back-to-back Comeback Player of the Year awards. Last year, he followed up a good finish in Fort Worth with a T-13 finish a the U.S. Open and a second place at the AT&T Invitational on his way to winning the Barclays and a second place finish in the inaugural FedEx Cup. How he plays at Colonial could set the tone for the rest of his season. Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger must be watching closely to see if Stricker, who is a cinch to make the team, can turn things around.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Howie Johnson.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Imada Dry, Perry Wet

Ryudi Imada must have thought he was in a time machine at the AT&T Classic in suburban Atlanta on Sunday. Imada, who attended the University of Georgia, won his first PGA Tour tournament on the first hole of sudden death after Kenny Perry’s second shot to the par five 18th hole hit a pine tree and scooted across the green into the water. Last year, Imada lost the tournament to Zach Johnson when his second shot to the green failed to clear the same pond. After Perry missed a putt for par, Imada, who had laid up after driving his ball in the rough, rolled in a four-footer for the victory.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Jack McGowan.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Langham Labors

Message to Franklin Langham: it might be time to find another profession. Langham WD’d from the first round of the AT&T Classic after putting up a 90 for 17 holes. The former University of Georgia golfer, who toils on the Nationwide Tour, shot a nifty 50 on the back nine at the TPC Sugarloaf course, including a 13 on the par five 10th hole, his first of the day. Langham’s card included four 7s and 40 strokes for eight holes on the front. In seven Nationwide events this year, Langham has six missed cuts and one WD. His stroke average is 79.46.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Fred Marti.

Ty Tryon Wins Money

Ty Tryon, the former phenom, picked up $2,750 at the Nationwide Tour's Fort Smith Classic last week. Tryon shot even par 280 for a T-37 finish after getting into the event as a Monday qualifier. Tryon earned his PGA Tour card at 18 but disappeared after a season of poor play, injuries and illness.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Greg Twiggs.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bush Takes Hiatus From Golf

President Bush said he decided to give up golf during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan "in solidarity" with the solders and their families. "I didn't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf," Bush said. "I feel I owe it to the families to be as -- to be in solidarity with them as best I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal."

Bush was on the golf course in Texas when he received word of the 2003 attack in Baghdad that killed a United Nations official. He also was criticized in August 2002 when he decried terrorist bombings in Israel while playing golf and then told reporters, "Now watch this drive."

Bush and his family have a long history in golf. The president reportedly is a 15-handicapper. One of his friends in the golf community is Texan Ben Crenshaw. When Crenshaw captained the winning U.S. Ryder Cup team in 1999, then-Gov. Bush read the famous Col. William Barrett Travis letter from the Alamo to inspire the team. Bush's great grandfather, George Herbert Walker, was president of the USGA and donated the trophy for amateur competition between the United States and Great Britain.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to George Bayer.