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.