John Strege reports that former LPGA star Helen Alfredsson was "removed from the OSN Sports telecast of the Ladies European Tour's Omega Dubai Ladies Masters for an "inappropriate remark pertaining to a helicopter crash that killed nine people in Glasgow, Scotland, last week."
One should be careful with [naming holes], however, so many set the teeth on edge even in Scotland. Others are inappropriate and smack of the PR man's guile or lack of it. Names like Wee Bairn's Burn, Blink Bonnie Bog, and Jack Peterson's Revenge, cloy quickly. As Churchill indicated when he recommended appropriate names for assaults in World War II, no parents would like their son killed on a raid named "Brassiere"!
Bob Carney reports on Jim Nantz accepting the Metropolitan Golf Associations Distinguished Service Award and sharing a story about the late, great Ken Venturi's determination to order Diet Dr. Pepper along with a great round with Tom Brady and two former Presidents.
This is beautiful:
Nantz remembered "as many as 70 dinners a year" he had with Venturi when his partner would inevitably ask the waitress for a Diet Dr. Pepper. 'We don't have Diet Dr. Pepper,' every waitress would reply, and Kenny would go, 'Oh, Okay, give me a Crown Royal.'
Here's the video after a pretty long intro from Lance Barrow who mostly talks about himself. Nantz starts at the 7:00 minute mark.
While much of the focus was on Tiger and his meeting with the late Nelson Mandela in round one coverage of the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, on the topic of his golf Tiger revealed he's very much in search of some much needed distance this off-season. And he thinks he's found it with a club switch.
Jason Sobel, reporting on Tiger's driver switch, reminds us that Tiger finished 49th in driving distance at 293,2 yards, ranking 49th on the tour.
After an opening 71 leaving him four shots back of Zach Johnson, Woods was asked about the new driver and while he won't admit he needs distance, it's pretty clear in his comments that the switch aims to have distance as the main improvement.
Q. How would you describe the comfort level with this new driver you have right now?
TIGER WOODS: It feels pretty good. You know, it's coming off probably a little bit faster. I drove it really well in Turkey, and I felt like I was on the right track of what I was working on, and drove it pretty well again today.
Q. Do you feel like you've got pretty good control with that? Do you move it a little better?
TIGER WOODS: I wouldn't say move it, but it's certainly getting out there. I think that the last driver I had, it was just a touch spinny. I think maybe I was probably 200 or 300 rpms a little bit too much, and I think we got it down a little bit and I was penetrating the ball into the wind a little bit better today, and it was a little bit better sign.
Meanwhile Sobel reports on first round leader Johnson meeting with his "team" at year's end to discuss how "we" could do better in 2014.
I know what you're thinking: Zach Johnson has a team?
“We had our end of the year summit, which is essentially a day and a half of discussion and formulating and planning and that sort of thing,” he explained. “I like doing that out here.”
One of the main areas where they discussed needing improvement was in par-5 performance. Perhaps ironically – or maybe by design – Johnson played the five par-5s at Sherwood Country Club in 4 under on Thursday, helping him claim an opening-round lead with a 5-under 67.
Son of the Bronx makes his usual great contribution to charitable causes (like this blog) and to Tylenol sales in greater Ponte Vedra Beach, posting Golf Channel's ratings from November 24-December 1st 2013.
And in another reminder for PGA Tour players who get chippy with courtesy car drivers all because they labor under the delusion that what they do is important and watched by millions, look no further than another week of steady Big Break ratings and even some healthy numbers for re-runs of October's World Long Drive Championship.
More eye-opening is the second place finish by a movie re-run on Thanksgiving morning when people were clearly so desperate to avoid talking to family that they watched a golf-themed film (.1, 156,000). The film drew a bigger number than all but one round of the PGA Tour's "wraparound" events this fall.
The Wednesday-Saturday night airings of the Australian Open (listed as "Misc. Tournament") also did well, with Saturday's finale drawing 122,000 viewers for the live final round telecast, with more via the subsequent re-airing. And all a smidgen of the rights fees Golf Channel pays for lesser performing PGA Tour events!
Morning Drive's Architect Week showed timelapse footage of Keith Foster's restoration work at Philadelphia Cricket Club.
The A.W. Tillinghast course has long been screaming out for a dusting off and reconnection to its past, and so it was heartening to see the progress being made.
The segment from Morning Drive:
Jack Nicklaus was on Morning Drive's Architect Week and I learned all sorts of new things about how he got his start with Pete Dye. He shares far more detail than I recall from his books and it's pretty interesting to hear how Dye approached him.
Here is the video:
Certainly the most expensive spikemark tap in the history of golf (I think):
Decision of the European Tour Disciplinary Panel in the matter of Simon Dyson
1. This is a summary of the decision reached by the Disciplinary Panel following a hearing at the offices of the European Tour on 5th December 2013.
2. Simon Dyson was charged by the European Tour with a Serious Breach of the European Tour’s Code of Behaviour, the facts alleged being that he intentionally tapped down a spike mark on the line of his putt on the 8th green at Lake Malaren Golf Club during the second round of the BMW Masters on 25th October 2013, and that in doing so he deliberately interfered with the line of his putt, contrary to Rule 16-1a of the Rules of Golf.
3. The Panel held that charge to have been made out by the Tour. In particular, it found that:
(a) Mr Dyson’s action in touching the line of his putt was a deliberate one;
(b) that act was committed by him in the knowledge of the Rule forbidding such an act; and
(c) his purpose in so acting was to improve his position on the green by pressing down a spike mark.
4. As to sanction, the Panel bore two matters particularly in mind:
(a) the extreme seriousness of the offence committed. The Code of Behaviour starts with these very important words:
“On becoming a Member each person voluntarily submits himself to standards of behaviour and ethical conduct beyond those required of ordinary golfers and members of the public. The European Tour has been the hallmark of honesty, fair dealings, courtesy, and sportsmanship and each Member is bound to honour and uphold that tradition at all times whether on or off the golf course.”
It is essential for the integrity of the professional game that all its participants adhere rigidly to this aspect of the code. Conduct such as that committed by Mr Dyson is a very serious matter, which in the appropriate case would warrant an immediate suspension from the Tour;
(b) the particular circumstances of the present offence. Specifically:
(i) there is no history of misconduct on the part of Mr Dyson during his 14 years on the Tour;
(ii) the fact, as the Panel found, that Mr Dyson’s conduct on the occasion in question involved a momentary aberration on his part, not a premeditated act of cheating; and
(iii) the fact that his conduct and the Panel’s decision will have caused and will continue to cause detriment to Mr Dyson.
5. Accordingly, the Panel decided as follows:
(a) to impose upon Mr Dyson a period of suspension from the Tour of two months, but to suspend its operation for a period of 18 months. The effect of this is that, if during that 18 month period, Mr Dyson commits any breach of the Rules of Golf, his case will be referred back to the Panel to determine whether in the circumstances the suspension should immediately become effective. If, however, at the end of that period, he has committed no such breach, then the threat of a suspension will fall away;
(b) to fine Mr Dyson the sum of £30,000;
(c) to order Mr Dyson to pay the sum of £7,500 towards the Tour’s costs of these proceedings;
(d) Mr Dyson is to make such payments within 56 days.
The Disciplinary Panel will in due course give detailed written reasons to the Tour and to Mr Dyson. These detailed reasons will remain confidential to the parties.
No further statement by the Panel or any of its members will be made.
Euro Tour Alternate Shoots 66 Carrying Own Bag, And That's The Least Bizarre Thing About The Hong Kong Open's First Round
Now, I know a lot of you are not too impressed that a member of the white belt set posted a 66 in the Hong Kong Open lugging his bulky tour bag. But the circumstances around Lam Chih Bing's 66 were rather extraordinary and will not go down as the finest in European Tour operations history.
Alvin Sallay of the South China Morning Post story merely touches on the oddity of Bing's round, which left him in a tie for third, two shots behind David Higgins.
Higgins leads by one from Italy's Andrea Pavan and by two shots from a bunch of seven players, including Singaporean Lam Chih Bing, who was second on the reserve list, but found himself suddenly in the thick of the action after Finland's Joonas Granberg was disqualified for not making his tee-off time after his caddie had gone to the wrong tee.
Lam still might not have made it if not for his friend Anthony Kang, the first alternate, deciding to caddy for Unho Park thinking that no place would open up. All this added to the surreal surroundings on the opening day.
But GolfCentralDaily's Donal Hughes (Twitter: golfcentraldoc) reports that the situation was far more bizarre, with Joonas Granberg the victim of a DQ and Jeppe Huldahl trying to replace Granberg before getting stopped from starting because he's not an Asian Tour member, opening the door for Lam.
It kicked off when Joonas Granberg was left standing on his first tee box, the 11th, about to start. His caddie had gone to another tee (presumably the first or tenth) with his clubs, leaving Granberg holding his putter and panicking as the clock ticked up to then past the official tee off time. With several referees scrambling about, Granberg’s caddie eventually made it to the tee, three minutes too late. The luckless Fin was summarily disqualified and sent on the long journey home. “It was like something out of a nightmare,” the fellow player who witnessed the entire incident said.
Had Granberg had his wits about him, he could have teed off using his putter, but such was the calamitous scene, the moment passed. Understandably he took his frustration out on his golf bag before leaving the tee.
And then the fun began!
Then first reserve Jeppe Huldahl is called to the tee, gets there and is about to drive off when he is stopped mid swing and told to step aside. The Dane turns around in shock as he too is ushered off the tee and told the first reserve must come from the Asian Tour.
With that player, Chih Bin LAM, nowhere to be found, officials scurry off to find him and the other two players drive off. Eventually LAM is found and runs onto the tee in a sweat carrying his own bag. He smashes one away then runs down the fairway to catch up with his playing partners who were preparing to hit their second shots.
And a good time was had by all!
**Here's a great European Tour video interview with Malaysian Open winner-turned caddie Anthony Kang and Bin Chih Lam, talking about the "debacle" with all smiles! Lam revealed that on top of carrying his bag, he had only old balls in his bag and no yardage book. And still shot 66!
Jason Sobel talks to Dustin Johnson about a variety of issues, including fiance Paulina Gretzky and his name coming up in the lawsuit filings by Vijay Singh's attorney.
From Sobel's story:
A: There’s nothing I can really say. I don’t know why he would call me out. Obviously, he’s in a situation where he’s looking to better himself somehow, but there’s nothing there.
Q: Have you ever been punished or reprimanded for any kind of violation?
Q: Does it anger you to see your name in connection with that story?
A: Not really. I don’t care. He’s in trouble, not me.
Not one, but two all-new Grey Goose 19th Holes air Thursday and Friday nights. They feature former USGA Executive Director David Fay, author John Feinstein and yours truly all gracefully refereed by Golf Channel's Steve Sands.
The first show airs Thursday, December 5th and the second show on Friday, December 6th at 8:30 PT, 11:30 PM ET.
Earlier this year, the trio debated Bethpage as a Ryder Cup venue back in August before it became official. A similar discussion this time around will include places we'd like to see golf return to ala Merion and The National Golf Links.
Hope you'll tune in!
Encouraging to see Sirius/XM adding some golf programming to its PGA Tour Network, especially when it's this.
For Immediate Release:
"Crenshaw on Golf" will feature the World Golf Hall of Famer's musings on the game every other week starting Dec. 11
NEW YORK, Dec. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- SiriusXM announced today that World Golf Hall of Fame member Ben Crenshaw has joined the fast-growing roster of superstar hosts on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio (channel 93 on XM, channel 208 on Sirius Premier).
The two-time Masters winner will host Crenshaw on Golf, a one-hour show airing every other week on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, with the first episode debuting Wednesday, December 11 at 1:00 pm ET. Crenshaw and co-host Ed Clements will talk about today's game and its players, share stories from Crenshaw's many years in the sport and discuss golf course design and his favorite venues around the world.
"As a regular listener to SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, I'm looking forward to launching my new show and having the chance to discuss golf architecture, history, instruction and current events on the Tours," said Crenshaw. "I'll also have some special friends join me on the show from time to time."
"Few people can offer a more experienced and enlightened perspective on golf than Ben Crenshaw," said Scott Greenstein, SiriusXM's President and Chief Content Officer. "From his many distinguished years as a player and the dramatic Masters and Ryder Cup wins, to his knowledge of courses and design, listening to Ben talk about the game is a great treat for anyone who loves golf. We're very pleased to give SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio listeners access to his many excellent stories and thoughts on the sport through its history and today."
Tiger Woods seemed pretty neutral on the topic of the USGA/R&A Decision that hopes to cut down on the number of rulings created by viewers spotting possible violations in the HD era.
From today's World Challenge press conference:
Q. As I'm sure you know, a couple of weeks ago the USGA and R&A came out with a bunch of decisions in the rule book that will go in effect on January 1. The one big one, of course, having to do with video and how it relates to calling in rules violations, et cetera. That one itself might have helped you greatly had it been in effect at the BMW. Can you talk about that rule and also if you think they went far enough?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that I talked to Tim at length about this, actually ironically enough, over the course of the year. He wanted to make a change a little bit sooner, but couldn't quite get the wording how he needed to get the wording correctly. So he was on board with it long before. Same thing with Peter Dawson. They were on board even before this year.
So I think the ruling is such that there is that it certainly is going to help players, but certainly it's not going to save all the players.
My translation: it still doesn't solve the issue of call-ins or player DQ's for signing incorrect scorecards.
Woods addressed many other topics, from the Sochi Games, to 2014 to some increasingly perceptive and spot-on comments about technology aiding lesser players (Tiger is too nice to point out that this comes at the expense of superior players like himself...whereas I have no problem saying it).
Tiger Woods spoke to the assembled scribes in the friendly confines of Sherwood's cart barn and said he expects it to be an emotional Sunday as the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge bids farewell.
"It is going to be emotional," he said. "There is no doubt about it. Sherwood, the board here, all the volunteers that come out and support us in sunshine or rain, wind, cold or perfect sunny So Cal days. They come out to support our event and have made this event as special as it has been."
Woods answered questions about the event's move, noting the difficulty of landing a sponsor and that "it's harder to get good players to play, quite frankly," just moments after having noted that "we've got an amazing field over here this week."
Jason Sobel called Woods' words "less a love song than a polite break-up. One of those 'it’s not you, it’s me' kind of break-ups."
More revealing where tournament director Greg McLaughlin's quote, which makes pretty clear the move was sponsor driven and partly inspired by Tiger's desire to be closer to his home in Florida.
“It was just a lot of factors, but certainly title sponsorship is a key part of it,” explained Greg McLaughlin, president and CEO of the Tiger Woods Foundation. “So definitively, if we had someone who said, ‘You have to stay here,’ then we’d stay here. But that wasn’t the case.”
The truth is, this move was a long time in the making.
“Had there not been a partnership with Tavistock, we were considering a separate parallel path in the area where he lives,”McLaughlin continued. “Not Medalist or anything like that, but in that region. We’ve been talking about this since last year. So the Tavistock thing just evolved from a bunch of conversations.”
Pete Madden of golf.com says PGA Tour lawyers have refused to grant Vijay Singh's discovery requests related to drug policy violations by other PGA Tour members.
In a letter to Justice Eileen Bransten of the New York State Supreme Court, the Tour's attorney, Jeffrey Mishkin of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, called Singh's discovery requests "overreaching" and "irrelevant," arguing that "these individuals have nothing to do with this litigation. Mr. Singh cannot and should not be permitted, in the guise of discovery, to engage in a fishing expedition that risks further harm to the interests of these and any other third-party golfers."
Architects week on Morning Drive continued with several segments featuring Gil Hanse and a sitdown with Tom Doak.
Hanse talked career and Rio politics, but the two segments going through plans for the Trump National Doral redo and the Rio Olympics 2016 projects were even more interesting and are embedded below.
Like the rest of the viewing public, it's great to see that PGA Tour Entertainment ignored the wrap-around schedule flop and chose to use the traditional end the season to put together the top 10 moments of the 2013 season.
Not surprisingly, the forgettable "calendar year" events didn't make the list because there were just too many great moments from the real calendary year to savor.
Henrik Stenson's FedExCup win didn't really fit into this group, but people do need to keep their jobs and I get that. But pretty much everything else here from Sergio's tree climbing to Patrick Reed's win to Tiger's umpteenth win at Firestone to Phil and Adam's unforgettable major triumphs, it's all here in a nice tight package:
Ogilvy: "Journalists and broadcasters should not be mere cheerleaders. There's too much of that in golf right now"
There's a super Golf World column by Geoff Ogilvy now posted at GolfDigest.com that starts with his take on the Brandel Chamblee v. Tiger showdown ("To my mind, Brandel is one of the best things on Golf Channel").
But the real meat is found in the 2006 U.S. Open Champion's take on the state of golf coverage.
Maybe tour players are just too spoiled. Because we are pampered in so many areas of our lives, we perhaps have unrealistic expectations when it comes to the media. In general we'd be better off not being so precious about what appears in print and on-screen. Our relationship with the media should be similar to what we have with our parents or closest friends: one where absolute frankness is best for all concerned. We all watch Golf Channel and read magazines like this one -- or at least I do -- in order to be more informed about what is going on in our little world. If that material is clouded by a need to give only a sanitized view, then the whole thing is failing in its intent.
I like the notion that the press in all its forms exists to hold tour players accountable for their actions. Journalists and broadcasters should not be mere cheerleaders. There's too much of that in golf right now, to be honest. And not nearly enough untainted honesty. If correspondents do nothing more than claim how great everything is, any semblance of reality is lost. Good things happen on tour every day -- and bad things too -- which is how it should all be reported.
Just a reminder Geoff, any calls today from the 904 area code you can just send on through to Voice Mail.
Ogilvy goes on to offer some thoughts on how the entire episode might not have escalated and puts much of the onus on Tiger.
Sentimental vibes have begun to overtake the lavish Sherwood Country Club grounds, as reality sets in that the final west coast World Challenge is about to be played in Tiger's home region.
Interestingly, Lee Westwood tells Mark Lamport Stokes that one of the reasons the event has drawn such an incredible field (in a year when players had so many playing options) is the beautiful Sherwood.
"Sherwood is a lovely place to come to, and California this time of the year is a great place to play," England's Lee Westwood told Reuters on Tuesday after an extended practice session in bright sunshine with his swing coach Sean Foley.
"There only being 18 players, you know you have to be at the top of the world rankings to play in the event."
Asked what he felt was the single best thing about qualifying for the elite 18-man field, Westwood replied: "I think the exclusivity really, that and Sherwood."
He'll say the same thing about Isleworth, right? Or the Bahamas in 2015, assuming the event survives.
Because as Doug Ferguson notes, the move to Florida next year may be short lived, with the Bahamas a likely stop in 2015 if a sponsor signs on to the World Challenge.
In the meantime, Ferguson uses the likelihood of this as the final LA-area appearance by Tiger to remember some of the more eclectic career moments in Woods' hometown.
Of all the memories from Tiger Woods' roots in Southern California, it's easy to overlook the time he made an appearance in the Tournament of Roses parade.
OK, so he wasn't the grand marshal. And he had just turned 18.
Woods, coming off his first U.S. Amateur title, rode on the Chiropractic Centennial Foundation float that required seven tons of flowers to build. He wasn't the only celebrity on the float on Jan. 2, 1995. Also riding were singer Lee Greenwood, Hall of Fame baseball player Joe Morgan and Olympic champion speedskater Cathy Turner.
The majestic float was toward the end of the order, trailed only by the Icelandic Horse Adventure Society and the International House of Pancakes.
For sure, there were far greater moments with a golf club in his hand.
Ferguson goes on to list some moments far more historic but so much less fun than that Rose Parade appearance, and it does make one wonder why he would move his tournament away from home. Perhaps he will clarify in Wednesday's press conference, expected to be carried live by Golf Channel at 5 pm ET.
Interestingly, it's not a golf ad but some of the Manchester United stars' kicks are pretty cool.
No kicks this amazing, but still...
Jordan Spieth made his way into the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge media center Tuesday as a replacement for Brandt Snedeker in the 18-man field, and yet arguably one of the biggest draws for the event.
As Steve DiMeglio notes, "Spieth remains grounded and brags as often as he has four-putt, knowing last year at this time he was taking his finals at the University of Texas."
At 19, Spieth hasn't been on the tour long enough to treat these sessions as agony, or, more likely, he's just solid enough of an individual that he doesn't treat these sitdowns with us scribblers as something akin to a dental office visit.
Spieth revealed some wonky, Inside-the-Beltway stuff about his preparation for next year, which prompted me to ask some follow-up questions. Considering that Spieth is not as analytical as some players, it seems even the naturals have to take the wealth of information provided by Shotlink to look at their games once the season is over.
From the press conference, and worth remembering heading into the 2014 season:
Q. Jordan, you mentioned the majors and knowing that you have your schedule set now. We've seen the last few years guys now go to the venue the week before. Some people like to play the week before. Now that you have this mapped out, what is your philosophy going to be in preparing for the majors?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, throughout last year, I had never played -- before last year I had never played more than two weeks in a row. Last year I saw what it was like to play four in a row a couple of different stretches. It's amazing my best golf was always played the second, third or fourth week in a row. Even more so, the third and fourth week in a row is when I was hitting the ball best and making the best decisions. I would have never known that before this year. So, yeah, I will be planning my schedule to definitely be playing and peaking at those tournaments which looks like it would be playing in a week or two or both of them prior to the majors.
Q. You mentioned you sat down and looked at stats with your instructor, what kind of -- what stats interest you to look at? What are the things that stood out for you?
JORDAN SPIETH: Yeah, overall, I was extremely happy with the all-around stat, whatever that is called, encompassing all of them. Two major things, well, one, putting. My putting the second half of the year strokes gained versus the first half of the year was significantly different getting used to the greens and I putted a lot better.
But the two things that I really need to focus on this year are my long-iron play, and I just need to hit some more pitches around the greens. Par-5s, I would get around the green in two and even in smart places. That 20- to 40-yard range, pitching the ball, it just wasn't getting it close enough. So luckily that's something that is based on how many reps you hit and just getting the feel of the grass each week. So I think if I had the same kind of routine and put a little extra time into those two departments, I'd just improve from last year.