Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Mess That is John Daly

I am no longer surprised by John Daly. Check out the video of the pro from Hooters playing golf with no shirt, no shoes, just a pair of blue jeans and an Arkansas Razorbacks football cap. John, put a shirt on, please. You don't want to sunburn those boobies.


Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Marlene Floyd.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fujikawa Wins

Tadd Fujikawa, the pint size teenager from Hawaii, won his first tournament as a professional taking the Mid-Pacific Open in his native state. Fujikawa, who gained attention with a high finish in the Sony Open in Honolulu two years ago, hasn’t been so lucky on the PGA Tour where he has failed to make the cut in six events. The youngster is spending most of his time playing in Japan and Asia with occasional sponsor exemptions in the United States.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to David Ishii.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Hoch Chokes Again

There was a whole lot of choking going on in the final round of the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am on Sunday. Scott Hoch, who lost the 1989 Masters to Nick Faldo when he missed a two-foot putt in a playoff, did an instant replay Sunday and gave the championship to Tom Watson. After Watson hit his second shot in the water on the final hole and made a bogey, Hoch had a chance to chip in for the victory. Hoch’s shot just missed and as he lined up his two-footer to ensure a playoff, announcers Dan Hicks and Rodger Matlbie mentioned the short putt he missed at the Masters. Unbelievably, his putt lipped out and Watson was a winner.

As bad as Hoch’s performance was, Mark Wiebe’s was even worse. With a three-shot lead and for holes to play, Wiebe made a triple bogey, a double bogey and a bogey to not only lose the tournament but a chance to get into the playoff. He finished T-5.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to David Graham.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Surgery for Woods, Daly

Tiger Woods is having surgery on his knee and John Daly is having surgery on his stomach. Woods announced that he will undergo surgery on his left knee and will be out of action four to six weeks. That means he will miss defending at the Wachovia Championship and also will be absent from the Players Championship. He expects to be ready for the U.S. Open in June and perhaps The Memorial. "I made the decision to deal with the pain and schedule the surgery for after the Masters," Woods said. "The upside is that I have been through this process before and know how to handle it. I look forward to working through the rehabilitation process and getting back to action as quickly as I can." Contrary to some commentators, Woods did not blame his performance at the Masters on his sore knee.

Daly, on the other hand, is blaming his lackluster performance for the past two years on a torn stomach muscle that he will have repaired by a surgeon who treats University of Arkansas football players. Daly, who has eight WDs and14 MCs in 33 tournaments, might consider liposuction on a gut that looks like the result of too much beer and too many dinners at Hooters.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Danny Briggs.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

USGA Revises Stupid Bunker Rule

For once, common sense prevailed at the USGA. Steward Cink was disqualified at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans last month after he stood in a fairway bunker and played a ball that was outside the bunker. After Cink’s shot went into a greenside bunker, his caddie dutifully raked his footprints in the fairway bunker before Cink played his next shot. That act of etiquette was deemed a violation of the rule against testing the condition of a hazard. When Cink asked a rules official about the sequence of events the next day, he was told he violated the rule and should have been assessed a two-stroke penalty. Since he signed an incorrect scorecard, Cink was DQ’d.

The USGA reviewed the rule, which frankly makes no sense. Under the old interpretation, a player would not risk having his caddie rake a fairway bunker or a greenside bunker for that matter, until he had safely holed out. Imagine the delay if caddies were scurrying back down the fairway to rake bunkers. That’s nuts. Now the USGA has determined that players in Cink’s situation would not be considered testing if their ball lies in a similar but different hazard.

The new interpretation saved LPGA player Shi Hyun Ahn a two-stroke penalty at the Kraft Nabisco Championship when her caddie raked a fairway bunker that another member of her group hit from as a courtesy. Sometimes the USGA does get it right.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Don Bies.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Immelman, Yes; Tiger, No

Trevor Immelman winning the Masters is a feel good story and congrats to him for a major accomplishment. No disrespect to the South African, but the media and the public are obsessed with Tiger’s failure to win at Augusta and the derailment of his Grand Slam bid. Oh well, there’s always next year. A few observations on the 20087 Masters:

ESPN did a very nice job showing the par three tournament on Wednesday. Live shots of aces by Couples and Azinger, coverage of Palmer, Nicklaus and Player were interspersed with nice little features. Quick memo to Ian Baker Finch: Never say “fans” at Augusta. It’s “patrons.” Finch caught his mistake and corrected it immediately.

I have a real problem with ESPN and CBS in that they do not show the leader boards often enough during the telecasts. Is there something in the contract that prohibits the use of either an alphabetical scroll (preferable) or a scroll by score? A scroll doesn’t take up much space or much time. They should run it every 15 minutes.

The lack of low scores on Sunday and the lack of drama shows that the Masters is now paying the price for lengthening the course. Yes, scores were down because of 35 mph winds. But the reason the Masters used to be fun and exciting and different from other majors was that players could aggressively attack the course on Sunday afternoon on the back nine. There was great risk-reward in going for those two par fives. The added length has taken that out of the equation. Snedeker was the perfect example. He had to make something happen so he went for the green and rinsed his ball. Certainly watching his fellow competitor hit it in the creek affected Immelman’s decision not to go for it even though he was much closer (that and the wind). The green coats cannot make the course 9,000 yards so now they also are growing rough to defend the course, but they do so forgetting what made the tournament unique. I liked it the old way.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Brian Tennyson.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Azinger Zings Faldo

In case you missed it, Paul Azinger, the U.S. Ryder Cup captain, called his European counterpart Nick Faldo “a prick.” Over the years, there has been no love lost between Azinger and Faldo who competed fiercely against each other on the PGA Tour and in Ryder Cup competition. In an interview with a London newspaper, Azinger said Faldo’s peers don’t want anything to do with him. "Nick Faldo has tried to redefine himself," Azinger said. "Some people have bought it. Some have not. But if you're going to be a prick and everyone hates you, why do you think that just because you're trying to be cute and funny on air now that the same people are all going to start to like you? The bottom line is that the players from his generation and mine really don't want to have anything to do with him." After the story ran, Azinger tried to downplay his comments but he did not claim he was misquoted. Let the fireworks begin.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Dick Mast.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Masters Clothes

Jack Nicklaus is color blind so his wife Barbara often picked out the clothes he wore on the golf course. Now, major equipment companies are doing the same thing. Sports Illustrated’s special Masters preview issue includes a story that shows the outfits that Tiger Woods (Nike) and Sergio Garcia (Adidas) will wear all four days of the tournament. Tiger, naturally, will be wearing red on Sunday. If he makes the cut, Garcia will be dressed in black and tan after wearing orange, lime green and dark red. At least the Spaniard is not scheduled to wear that Tweety Bird yellow outfit or the baby puke green number he showed up in at the British Open. Apparently the equipment/clothing companies see huge jumps in sales following tournaments as wannabes go out and buy the exact clothes the pros wear. Not surprisingly, Tiger’s outfits for all four days of the Masters, U.S. Open and PGA Championship were “scripted” a year ago. (I guess the weather at the British Open is too unpredictable.) That is done to make supplies are manufactured and shipped to retail outlets in advance of the tournament. Good ol’ Nike also scripts Paul Casey, K.J. Choi, Stewart Cink, Trevor Immelman, Justin Leonard, Grace Park and Michelle Wie. Adidas scripts Garcia, Sean O’Hair and Justin Rose. My only question is whether or not Tabasco scripts Kenny Perry and Woody Austin.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Doug Sanders.

Friday, April 4, 2008

ESPN Benches Berman for Masters

Good news for golf fans on several fronts. First, ESPN will televise the Wednesday par-three contest. That will mark the first time that the traditional pre-tournament event has been shown on TV. It should be entertaining. Note the historical fact that no winner of the par-three contest has ever won the Masters in the same year.

Speaking of ESPN, the all-sports network will broadcast the Masters on Thursday and Friday. The good news is that fans will not have to listen to the biggest blowhard on television, Chris “Boomer” Berman and his stupid nicknames at Augusta. Masters officials apparently were appalled at the thought of Berman bellowing, “Back-back-back-back” on Tiger Woods drive. The ESPN coverage will be led by the capable Mike Tirico.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Richard Crawford.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Wie Finds a Boy; Bubba Punks Elk

It’s just too good not to comment. Reports, that is, about Michelle Wie dating Stanford basketball player Robin Lopez, all seven-feet of him. It’s unclear how long the two have been an item but perhaps that explains why the Cardinal lost their NCAA game to Texas last week. Lopez and his twin brother reportedly are headed for the NBA.

Bubba Watson called out veteran Steve Elkington during Friday’s round in New Orleans for walking while he was hitting an approach shot on the 10th hole. “Are you going to stop walking, man?” Watson asked Elk. “Damn. You did it all day yesterday, (expletive). I tell you what, man, veterans can kiss my (expletive).” Golf Channel microphones picked up the comments. Watson and Elkington apparently had a further discussion in the scorer’s tent after the round. Mr. Fairway’s take: Go get him, Bubba. Nothing is more irritating than playing partners who move when you are hitting a shot or worse, trying to putt.

Finally, Tiger is having trouble with clicking cameras again. The PGA Tour has very specific rules for credentialed photographers who are allowed to take pictures during play. If any player, not just Tiger, has a problem then it’s up to tour officials to enforce the rules. If that means limiting access, so be it.

Hitting range balls while wondering whatever happened to Jane Geddes.