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.