Monday, January 28, 2008

Tiger Tears Torrey

Maybe the city of San Diego should rename the course Tiger Pines. In another shocker, Woods won the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines by eight shots Sunday, his fourth straight in that tournament and his third in a row on the PGA Tour going back to last year. It was Tiger’s 62nd career victory, which ties him for fourth place all time with Arnold Palmer. Next on the list is Ben Hogan with 64. Although he hit only about 50 percent of his fairways, Tiger led the field in putting and was second in greens in regulation. With the U.S. Open returning to Torrey Pines this summer, the USGA might as well go ahead and start engraving the trophy. Sure, Rees Jones says it will be a longer, tougher course with faster greens. So what? Think that will impede Tiger, who, by the way, has an excellent shot at winning the Grand Slam this year? He already is the odds on favorite for the Masters, we know what he can do at Torrey Pines, and the last time the British Open was played at Royal Birkdale, he finished T-2, one shot out of a playoff, and he will be the defending PGA champion.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Rafe Botts.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tilghman Back On TV

Kelly Tilghman, suspended for two weeks by the Golf Channel for suggesting that Tiger Woods be lynched in a back alley, opened today's broadcast of the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines with an apology. However, an apparent glitch on my DirecTV broadcast, did not provide any sound for the first 5 seconds or so of her apology. A contrite Tilghman said she understood that her remark about Woods was hurtful and that she reflected on her comment over the past two weeks. "In a recent live broadcast, I used an inappropriate word that was offensive to many. Over the last two weeks I've taken the time to reflect and truly understand the impact of what I said,'' she said. "While I did not intend to offend anyone, I understand why those words were hurtful. I am terribly sorry for any hurt that I have caused. I would like to express my deepest apologies." With that, Tilghman openend the broadcast with highlights of Tiger's round and then appeared at the anchor desk with Nick Faldo.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Betsy Rawls.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

R.I.P. Steve Duplantis

A sad note today out of San Diego. Longtime PGA Tour caddie Steve Duplantis was killed when he stepped off a median in Del Mar and was struck by a taxi. Duplantis, who most recently toted for Eric Axley, was a highly regarded looper whose former employers included Jim Furyk, Rich Beem and Tommy Armour. Some of his exploits are recounted in a book about Beem called Bud, Sweat, & Tees: A Walk on the Wild Side of the PGA Tour by Alan Shipnuck. Duplantis was 35.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Herman Mitchell.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Golfweek Editor Caught in His Own Noose

The publisher of Golfweek magazine fired editor David Seanor, who defended putting a noose on the cover to illustrate the controversy about Golf Channel announcer Kelly Tilghman’s comment about lynching Tiger Woods.

"We apologize for creating this graphic cover that received extreme negative reaction from consumers, subscribers and advertisers across the country," Turnstile Publishing Co. president William P. Kupper Jr. said. "We were trying to convey the controversial issues with a strong and provocative graphic image. It is now obvious that the overall reaction to our cover deeply offended many people. For that, we are deeply apologetic." The magazine pulled the cover image from its website.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem called Tilghman’s comments "inappropriate” and blasted Golfweek. "But we consider Golfweek's imagery of a swinging noose on its cover to be outrageous and irresponsible,” he said. “It smacks of tabloid journalism. It was a naked attempt to inflame and keep alive an incident that was heading to an appropriate conclusion."

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Paul Harney.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Golfweek Makes Tilghman Case Worse

Sometimes the media is its own worse enemy. It was bad enough that Kelly Tilghman of the Golf Channel suggested during the broadcast of the Mercedes-Benz Championship that Tiger Woods’ young competitors should “lynch him in a back alley ,” a comment that earned her a two week suspension. Now comes Golfweek magazine with a cover article on the controversy illustrated by a hangman’s noose. What were they thinking?

The article itself has merit. It examines the timeline from when Tilghman uttered the despicable remark until it was picked up and reported to the Golf Channel’s decision to suspend her. But illustrating the article with a noose only stirs up the racist images of blacks being lynched that got Tilghman in trouble in the first place. "Was it an arresting image?" said Dave Seanor, the magazine's editor. "Yes, it was. We chose it because it was an image we thought would draw attention to an issue we thought deserved some intelligent dialogue." Here’s a novel suggestion. After he apologizes to Tilghman and to Woods, Seanor should be suspended by his publication.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Ron Streck.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Golf Channel Suspends Tilghman

The Golf Channel’s decision to suspect anchor Kelly Tilghman for two weeks for her unfortunate comments about Tiger Woods is appropriate. In case you missed it, during last week’s broadcast of the Mercedes-Benz Championship, Tilghman and analyst Nick Faldo were discussion which young players could challenge Woods on the tour this year. Faldo suggested that several of them “should just gang up for a while" on him. "Lynch him in a back alley," Tilghman replied. Oops. As the Rev. Al Sharpton pointed out, “lynching is not murder in general, it's not assault in general. It's a specific racial term…” Sharpton, of course, wanted Tilghman fired. But Tilghman, who apparently is friends with Tiger apologized to him and to Golf Channel viewers. Mark Steinberg, Tiger’s agent, said Woods accepted the apology. "Regardless of the choice of words used, we know unequivocally that there was no ill-intent in her comments." In this day of political correctness, no perceived racial comment should go unpunished. My only problem with the Golf Channel is that they were very late to note the controversy on their web site even after many other media outlets had reported it. As for Tilghman, I doubt anyone is going to miss her.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Sandra Haynie.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Fujikawa Replay?

When the Sony Open in Honolulu tees off on Thursday, one the most-watched participants will be 17-year-old Tadd Fujikawa who captured the imagination of golf fans with his spectacular play in last year’s tournament. Based largely on his T-20 finish, Fujikawa decided to turn professional, a decision questioned by many golf experts who feared he would become the male version of fellow Hawaii native Michelle Wie. With a pocketful of endorsements (Aloha Petroleum, Kraft Foods), the youngster is embarking on his pro career. Although he does not have any status on the PGA Tour, he has been invited to play the AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach and will play events in Europe and Japan. It will be interesting to see how he fares.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Mike Reasor.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Sabbatini On Mute

Reports out of Kapalua indicate that Rory “The Mouth that Roared” Sabbatini, is not talking to the press. I guess you wouldn’t be able to talk either if your size 10 Foot Joy was always in your pie hole. Sabbatini ducked the writers at the Mercedes-Benz Championship, figuring correctly that they would want to ask him about his unseemly WD from the Target world Challenge hosted by Tiger Woods. Even some of the fans at Kapalua were giving him the business for his graceless exit from Tiger’s event. The big question is how long Sabbatini’s self-imposed silence will last. My guess is that he will be spouting off and making headlines again before the Masters.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Pat Fitzsimons.

Chopra Wins

In addition to qualifying for the Masters, Daniel Chopra’s win at the Mercedes-Benz Championship earned him enough money to keep him in hair care products for the next decade. Chopra, the bleached blonde Swede who grew up in India and played college golf at the University of Florida, held off Steve “Comeback Kid” Sticker with a birdie on the fourth playoff hole to win the opening event on the 2008 PGA Tour. Chopra had at least three putts to win that mysteriously died on the lip of the cut. Stricker, who won back-to-back PGA Tour Comeback Player of the Year awards, fired a final round 64, including a clutch birdie on the 72nd hole, to get in the playoff and starting the final round four shots behind the leader. He might have one the tournament on the first playoff hole had his putt from off the green not hit Chopra’s ball marker and stopped six feet short of the hole. All in all, it was a very entertaining opening event even if Tiger, Phil and Padraig Harrington decided not to make the trip to Maui.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Webb Heintzelman.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Mercedes-Benz Championship Opens 2008

The 2008 PGA Tour opens today with the Mercedes-Benz Championship in Hawaii. Tournament winners from last year will play the limited field event on the Plantation Course at the Kapalua resort on the island of Maui.

As usual Tiger Woods (who hasn’t played this event since 2001) and Phil Mickelson are skipping the event, preferring to start their season at the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines in San Diego January 24-27. Also skipping the event are British Open champion Padraig Harrington and Adam Scott, who ranked seventh in the world standings.

Boo Weekley, who qualified for his first Mercedes-Benz Championship with his victory at the Verizon Heritage, almost didn’t make it to Hawaii after airport security discovered two bullets from a rifle in his carry-on bag. Weekley had taken a hunting trip in the off-season and didn’t see them when he packed for Maui. “I had the cops there (at the airport),” he said. “I thought I was going to jail.” Looks like our boy Boo is off to another entertaining season.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Tommy Jacobs.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

2008 Resolutions

Mr. Fairway is not big on resolutions, primarily because they usually end up like a wooden tee on par three – broken and scattered. However, he will make an exception for 2008.

First, I am going to resolve to pay no attention to Michelle Wie, the overrated former teen sensation. I’m going to get plenty of help ignoring her this year since her camp announced that she will not enter any men’s tour events. It’s about time. I reserve my right to break this resolution if she wins a tournament, but based on her performance in 2007 there isn’t much danger in that.

I also was going to resolve to pay not attention to Rory “The Mouth that Roared” Sabbatini. But the reality is that he is just too entertaining to ignore. Kind of like paying attention to John Daly and car wrecks…you want to see the carnage. His WD at the Target World Challenge was a personal affront to Tiger Woods and I want to see how that plays out over the course of the year.

Finally, I’m reinventing a resolution I have made in previous years with differing degrees of success. I am going to spend more time practicing my short game. All ration and reason indicates that average golfers could improve faster by spending more time working on their chips, pitches, sand shots, putting and other shots from 100 yards to the green. But it’s more fun to use limited practice time bashing balls on the range trying to replicate the amazing distance of Bubba Watson or Tiger Woods. It’s not going to happen for me so I’m going to make the best of it and try to improve by working on the short game. I’ll get back to you this summer on how it goes.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Paul Bondeson.