We are pleased to reunite the former mini-tour pros Frank Nobilo and Mike Clayton for episode 44, and besides a few stories from the trenches, we talk golf on television, Tiger, Rory, modern instruction and much more.
You can check it out here or below, grab the MP3 here, listen on iTunes or subscribe to the show there. Past episodes can be checked out here.
The placement of any tree, so close to the finish of a shot to the green that it may catch the ball and deflect it to a fortunate or unfortunate finish, cannot be condoned.
We are pleased to reunite the former mini-tour pros Frank Nobilo and Mike Clayton for episode 44, and besides a few stories from the trenches, we talk golf on television, Tiger, Rory, modern instruction and much more.
Jason Sobel has gone back a few months and traced the origins of the viral Ice Bucket Challenge and the role a golfer played in fueling some of the movement. Whether you think it's a breathtakingly beautiful charitable act, a silly sensation with a nice outcome for one charity, or the latest sign of the elite passing off the burden to the less fortunate (after all...dumping ice on your head absolves you of a donation), it's worth having a little background info.
Also worth checking out is this column by Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times on the incredible amount of money being raised for a disease afflicting relatively few compared to others, and what this might mean for other charities or the ramifications of emphasizing these kinds of social media stunts to raise money.
Meanwhile, Alex Myers reports that the U.S.A. Ryder Cuppers took part in the challenge after Tom Watson challenged them. Phil Mickelson did not, however join the group.
He's seen the light! He's on a mission...to repair the damage. And the beauty of Bubba Watson? For all of his peculiar ways and sometimes pathetic ranting, he does good apology!
Steve DiMeglio with Bubba running through the list of mistakes he made at the PGA Championship, starting with the Long Drive championship pouting, and ending with his effort to clear the air.
"Then you look at it from my attitude on the golf course. Because I want something so bad, that's not the reason to do that. You still just bite your tongue and compete at a high level, don't show emotion, and I take it overboard because I want something so bad. I want to be considered a great player. I want to win golf tournaments and I've got to learn on that.
" … And then my language was not good. That's a different topic, and childish again. It's all childish stuff and I'm trying to mature and become a better man. I take it on the chin. It was my fault. Everything's my fault and I should be bigger and stronger and better than that."
Doug Ferguson files several fun notes in his weekly AP column--including Matt Kuchar explaining how his back locked up at the PGA from sitting in traffic looking for a Slip and Slide--but this one jumped out as a fairly unusual stat from the 2014 PGA Tour season.
Camilo Villegas became the fifth player outside the top 200 in the world ranking to win on the PGA Tour this year.
And even though only the FedEx Cup playoffs remain on the schedule, there's a chance to add to that list because 14 players who qualified for The Barclays are outside the top 200. That starts with Andres Romero (No. 201) and ends with Robert Allenby (No. 367).
The others from outside the top 200 to have won this year: Steven Bowditch (Texas Open), J.B. Holmes (Wells Fargo), Ben Crane (St. Jude Classic) and Geoff Ogilvy (Barracuda Championship in Reno).
Villegas became the sixth PGA Tour winner this year who doesn't have another top-10 finish.
We thought it was merely humorous that the current USGA President was innocently snubbed by a rough-around-the-edges U.S. Amateur champion Sunday, but now knowing what we know from Golfweek's Adam Schupak, Gunn Yang should have been hugging Tom O'Toole!
Schupak explains the odd circumstance following Sunday's weather delay when O'Toole, the final match referree, rushed on to the green and interrupted Yang to remind him his caddie Richard Grice could not stand behind him when putting .
With a look of chagrin on his face, Grice moved several steps away from Yang's line. O’Toole apologized to Yang for the disruption and retreated to the edge of the green, near fellow USGA executive committee member Dan Burton, chair of the championship committee. “I’ve told this guy three times he can’t stand behind his player,” O’Toole harrumphed, once he was out of earshot of Yang.
Later, O’Toole would recount one of those earlier situations.
“I noticed it during the first 18 this morning when he pitched on the third or fourth hole,” O’Toole said. "(Grice) was slightly off (Yang’s line). It was close but I didn’t think it was a breach of the rule.”
Schupak then goes on to point out how this could have gone bad in so many ways for Yang, and talks to O'Toole about the philosophy of rules officials trying to save players from rules breaches.
It's quite the conundrum for the official, don't you think?
Tim Schooley of the Pittsburgh Business Times quotes Dick's Sporting Goods CEO Ed Stack about last month's mass layoff of PGA professionals and the company head says the retailer expects golf sales, once at 20%, is now at 15% and will drop to 10% going forward.
He also downplayed no longer having PGA pros in stores.
“We’ve got very good people who are there who can still help people,” said Stack when asked about how the lack of golf pros in the store could impact sales. “We don’t think it’s going to have any impact on the business.”
Along with the golf pro layoffs, Stack and his colleagues again emphasized the company’s shift away from golf merchandise in the Dick’s earnings call for the second quarter, reallocating the capital from golf to more profitable lines of business in athletic wear for women and children.
And there was this...
“I think golf from a participation standpoint and how it translates to retail is in a structural decline,” said Stack. “And we don’t see that changing.”
Thanks to reader Stuart for Roger Blitz's Financial Times story on the same Dick's conference call, reporting on the company taking a $20.4 million write down.
Severance costs will total £3.7m, while there is a $14.3m impairment charge on trademarks and store assets in the golf business and a £2.4m writedown of golf-related inventory.
**Thanks to reader Jim for this Teresa F. Lindeman story that does a better job capturing the mood, describing Flack as sounding like "a star athlete leaving the big game." The call included an analyst questioning the laying off of PGA professionals and Stack's overall negativity toward golf where it sounds like the company set unrealistic expectations on how often people can replenish their golf bags.
An Oppenheimer & Co. analyst noted that having PGA professionals in the sporting goods chain’s stores has long set it apart from competitors and he wondered if Dick’s blinked this summer by eliminating around 500 of those positions.
Edward W. Stack, Dick’s chairman and CEO, didn’t think so. “… As much as we all love golf, the business reality of it is that golf from a retail standpoint is under pressure, and we had to change that labor model to meet the demands and the sales.”
And there was this on Golf Galaxy...
He also said roughly 63 percent of Golf Galaxy leases come due in the next three years, which gives the company flexibility if it needs to close stores.
Wes Gilbertson talks to Kevin Sutherland about shooting 59 last week in a round where the Champions Tour player was 14 under for the round before a bogey at the 18th. It turns out, he had randomly asked Paul Goydos and his caddie if the magical score had ever been shot on the geezers tour.
“Last week, I actually asked Paul Goydos and his caddie, Chris Mazziotti, ‘Has anybody shot 59 out here on the senior tour?’” Sutherland admitted Monday from Seattle, where he’ll tee it up in the Boeing Classic before heading north to Calgary next week for the Shaw Charity Classic at Canyon Meadows Golf & Country Club.
“And they said, ‘No,’ and I was kind of surprised, knowing how low the scores are out here in some of these events … Obviously, I didn’t have a conscious mind that I was going to shoot 59. I was just wondering if someone had, and it turns out later that week that I did.
“I figured people would not believe me if I said that, but Paul will vouch for me, I think.”
You'll have to sit through almost two minutes of painful shilling, but eventually Tiger goes to the "it's a process" lines about his back in a speed-dating session with Gary Williams to launch a new line of vaporizers Vapor irons.
The big surprise is that Tiger reveals it'll be at least a month before he even swings a golf club. This, even though it was the awkward move at Firestone's second hole where Tiger says is "the fall" occurred, you'd think he'd just want to avoid steep bunker faces. But it sounds by this interview that it's all about gym time over the next month.
Pay attention, this one goes fast!
The story of Marley Franklin, a 10-year-old girl "once held captive by excruciating headaches caused by sickle cell anemia" has been cured thanks to a bone marrow transplant from her little sister. Oh, and she's a lefty who played in the Junior World this year and has a killer swing.
Thanks to reader Diane for catching this keeper:
The sisters have a special connection that extends beyond shared blood.
They both share a passion for golf.
Marley’s parents had her play golf during her recovery and she’s proven a natural talent.
“She plays like Phi Mickelson,” her dad said.
Marley has entered quite a few tournaments, collecting plenty of medals along the way.
Earlier this year, Marley played at Torrey Pines, the same tournament Tiger Woods entered when he was a boy. She didn’t win, but Marley now has an international ranking among 10-year-old girls: “I’m 55th in the world.”
Okay, so some rankings are great things!
The whole Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon appearance must have been demeaning for Tiger Woods, not able to hit a ball on a national television show and having Rory McIlroy speak of you in the past tense.
The segment ended with hitting golf balls into glass after a short interview where Rory spoke of the old man in the tight black Jack LaLanne shirt:
I guess this little run that I'm on, it makes me appreciate what he's done in the past. I mean, just phenomenal to keep a run like this going and he's done way more than me. It makes you appreciate how hard he worked and what a dominant figure he was in our game.
I only suggest watching the "Facebreakers" game if you have positively nothing else to do today.
In a separate interview with Sky Sports News transcribed by Brian Keogh, Woods talked about getting back the explosiveness and referred to his "fall" at the WGC Bridgestone.
"I've got to be physically fit when I come back so I'll be explosive again and stable," he said.
"Obviously this year was frustrating in that I didn't really feel that I gave myself much of a chance. I first had that pain in my back and it would go away, and then it would come back, go away, come back, until eventually it never went away...It got fixed, but I took that fall on number two at the (WGC-Bridgestone Invitational) and I hadn't done any agility training yet so my hip got misaligned and everything went into spasm again.
"We got that all calmed down again but then I had to play. Now I need to keep it calm, then strengthen it and then I'll be back. That's one of the reasons I've shut it down. I'll come back in December and be ready for next year."
The most surprising revelation in Luke Kerr-Dineen's September Golf Digest story on player tipping proved to be just how much the PGA Tour hounds players on all tours about tipping locker-room attendants each week.
Oh there's a bunch on Mickelson's big tipping ways, but this about the specificity of the tour policy surprised me...
The PGA Tour is structured similarly to its developmental tour, albeit with the formality kicked up a few notches.
Like the Web.com Tour, players are briefed at the start of the season about what's expected in the tipping department--mainly, in the words of Andy Pazder, the executive vice president and chief of operations, "to conduct themselves in a professional manner that's come to be expected of professional golfers."
At the start of each week, tournament officials give locker-room attendants a list of every player in the field. The tour's official tournament regulations stipulate that players are required to tip locker-room attendants a minimum of $50 for the week. In a 156-player field, that comes to at least $7,800 divided among the handful of attendants clubs usually employ.
I'll admit, I'm jealous.
Who wouldn't love to attend an event featuring some crack mystery writers, including my favorite, Michael Connelly. And to see Jimmy Walker act out clues to a murder mystery even as the burden of losing his ResetCup points lead weighs on him as nerve-crushing pressure of the playoffs loom.
For Immediate Release...and it looks like some of the pricier tickets are still available for those of you near Saddle River...
Ragtime Rendezvous - A Murder Mystery Event
DATE: Tuesday, August 19, 2014
TIME: 6:30 p.m. 10:00 p.m.
PLACE: Private home in Saddle River, NJ
Tickets are limited to 150, and guests are encouraged to register as soon as possible. Ticket registration is available online at http://www.cafsnj.org/Ragtime. Please call Eve Marsan at 201-740-7107 for more information.
EXCERPT FROM THE EVENT INVITATION:
"This Crime Scene Wont Be the Same Without Your Presence
Please join us for a lavish cocktail party that will prove to be an evening full of twists, turns, and gasps that you won't want to miss!
With best-selling author Harlan Coben (a.k.a. Inspector General) as your emcee, you'll join crime-solving teams led by PGA TOUR Wives Association members and their PGA TOUR professional golfer spouses including Jimmy Walker, current FedEx Cup leader, to search for clues in a quest to unravel the mystery of this ragtime gangster-style whodunnit.
Who came up with the Reset Cup algorithm?
Whether you're mingling with mystery writers Mary Higgins Clark or Michael Connelly in the ballroom, carousing in the wine cellar, or toasting in the private theatre, youll need your finest sleuthing skills to be the first to expose the culprit, who could be anyone at this scintillating soiree. Even YOU!"
I wonder how many pro golfers beyond Jimmy Walker, who actually has many interests (including having another cool image featured by NASA), have even heard of these world famous authors?
Folks (including myself) wonder why Ted Scott sticks with Bubba Watson as his boss, despite the constant verbal abuse and the new all-time low at this year's PGA: having to tee a shot up for His Lordship.
But as Scott Tweeted, the boss (pre-playoffs!) gave his luggage-toter a new car AND truck as a bonus for, uh, time served.
Jason Crook at GolfChannel.com reports on the Tweeted revelation by Scott.
It’ll be heavily scripted, Nike will somehow get some mentions for arranging this historic meeting and awkward jokes will be made about the ascension of Rory and the decline of Tiger’s game.
And most of us will watch, then wonder why we gave up those 10 minutes of our lives. Matthew Fitzgerald with quite possibly the first ever Tonight Show segment preview.
11 pm ET on NBC, the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
**This preview may be enough for most. Is Tiger not hitting shots at all?
Rory McIlroy's suit selection for his Manchester United trophy celebration Saturday drew out the retired (six days) Tweeter extraordinaire Ian Poulter, who wore the same suit to Wimbledon earlier this year. Minus the Manchester red socks. The Independent with a round-up of the "jibe" taken by Poulter and Amanda Ferguson reports on the Twitter outrage, which went so far as to blame McIlroy for Manchester's 2-1 loss.
But it was the Telegraph's Frances Burscough who took Rory to task for his fashion sense because as a golfer, he can't be loud on the course and off.
Once he's handed his irons back to the caddy, shaken up a magnum of bubbly and kissed his silverware for the cameras it's time to step away from the clown outfits and slip into something more comfortable.
Instead, he turned up to a personal appearance at Old Trafford on Saturday, doing a lap of honour with his famous Claret Jug looking like he was on his way to audition for the parish hall production of Toad of Toad Hall.
So what was he thinking? Well, I suspect he read somewhere that bold black, white and grey Prince of Wales check was making a comeback in menswear. But, being a golfer and therefore blissfully unaware of the rule that less is more, he just ordered everything in that one design. I wouldn't be surprised if his underwear was checked too.
The Poulter Tweet with the Rory comeback...
**We talked Rory and Ian's suit antics on Morning Drive.
The strange thing about Sunday's U.S. Amateur final featuring two lightly-decorated finalists: the quality of the golf was incredibly good.
On an abhorrent Rees Jones redesigned course with massive mounds, utterly artificial nonsense around everywhere you look and a fake lake thrown in too often to appease the EA video game crowd, the absurdly difficult Atlanta Athletic Club should have been a nightmare for Gunn Yang and Corey Conners. Yet they kept hitting bold and clutch shots, so all five of the people watching NBC's final USGA telecast were having a grand old time. Count me in, I was glued!
Ryan Lavner puts the absurdity of Yang's ascent into perspective:
Consider the odds: 6,803 entrants were whittled down to 312 qualifiers who advanced to the 64-man match-play bracket that was trimmed to two finalists, and the player who emerged victorious was Yang, a little-known 20-year-old from South Korea. This is a player who has played only four college events and lost his golf scholarship at San Diego State because of poor performance; who is only 15 months removed from back surgery; who withdrew from an event only three weeks ago because of shoddy play; and who, incredibly, is ranked No. 776 in the world, the lowest ever to hoist the Havemeyer Trophy.
“Obviously I want to go crazy,” he said, “but I’m doing an interview right now. I can’t go crazy right here. But I’m really happy about it.”
Nick Masuda says the SDSU scholarship issue has already been addressed.
Needless to say, Donovan's tactics worked to the tune of an improbable U.S. Amateur title Sunday afternoon at the Atlanta Athletic Club, holding off Corey Conners, 2 and 1, to become the second Korean-born champion in the last five years.
"Obviously the scholarship will be signed on tomorrow," Donovan said.
"(It) better. Or else I'm going to transfer," joked Yang, who will enter his sophomore collegiate campaign in just two weeks.
Yang is a tad rough around the edges, as this trophy handoff from USGA President Tom O'Toole demonstrated. Though in Yang's defense, once they hand you the trophy and you aren't very accomplished, you do want to keep both hands on it! Not the Billy-Bubba missed shake, but a nice runner-up.
Adam Schupak on winner Yang's bag, which includes a nice mix of clubs.
Dave Shedloski talks to Conners, who has something more closely resembling a golfing resume, about the issues he faces returning to school or turning pro. His part in the Canadian National Team makes it an easy choice and Conners hopes to enjoy exemptions into the Masters and U.S. Open, then start building toward an Olympic berth in 2016.
The telecast, which ended rather meekly on NBC Sports Network, included this farewell to 12 years of NBC-USGA partnership. Thanks to reader Phil for the link to this YouTube clip of the modest send off.
**Excellent game story from Steve Hammer in the AJC on Yang's improbable win. There was this:
“I never heard of him before, I guess, but it didn’t really surprise me because there are a lot of great players out there,” said a resigned Conners.
It was Georgia Tech’s Ollie Schniederjans, the world’s No. 1-ranked amateur, who put it a little more succinctly after Yang eliminated him Thursday: “Who is this guy?”
Yang was the guy who packed only three pairs of shorts and four shirts for this trip, which would seem to indicate even he didn’t think he’d be make it very far past two practice rounds and two days of stroke play. Either that or he really likes to do laundry.
“I didn’t want to make my luggage too heavy. Yeah, that was it,” Yang said.
**Yang receives a sponsor's invitation to the 2015 Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego, less than 24 hours after winning.
“When you look at the field assembled at the U.S. Amateur Championship including the top collegiate players and now the world’s top amateurs through the USGA’s format, to win is an incredible accomplishment. To have a Torrey Pines High School alum and now a San Diego State Aztec makes it even more special to our community. The Century Club’s goal is to identify the world’s top players to compete in the Farmers Insurance Open. U.S. Amateur champion fits that criteria, as does Gunn Yang in his victory. We are pleased host Gunn next February for the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines,” added Peter Ripa, Farmers Insurance Open/Century Club Chief Executive Officer
Bob Harig reports on the rather remarkable act of sportsmanship by Cameron Tringale, who felt he may have broken a rule at the PGA and called in to report himself a week after the championship.
Ryder Cup standings would not have been impacted by his DQ.
"We are very appreciative of Cameron coming forward to inform us of this situation," said Kerry Haigh, chief championships officer of the PGA. "It again shows the great values and traditions of the game and the honesty and integrity of its competitors."
Thanks reader Jim A for John Paul Newport’s WSJ column where he considers the recent run of high-profile injuries in golf and wonders if the modern workout ethos of top players is catching up to them. But he also considers the impact of wraparound golf and the modern swing which I respectfully nominate over the number of bulked up athletes in golf.
This from Greg Rose of the Titleist Performance Institute stood out:
The new wraparound schedules that top international pros follow don't help, either. Even if they don't play in many more tournaments than they used to, many pros now have essentially no off-season and continue to train year-round.
Rose at TPI has worked extensively with professional long drivers like Jason Zuback. Their swings, designed for maximum distance, more closely resemble old-fashioned swings. They lift their left heels off the ground, rotate their hips more, and "jump" at the ball, relying far less on the lower back for power.
"The modern swing, with fewer moving parts, is designed primarily for accuracy," Rose said. "When you take that technique, and add power to it, as the modern pros have to do, you put extremely high stress on the body."
One shot off Nick Watney's Wyndham Championship lead, Brad Fritsch used the opportunity of the last regular season event to point out that as a Web.com Tour Finals grad (14th), he's gotten just 18 starts with absolutely no rhyme or reason to them and as with many players who've tried to make it to the PGA Tour this way, he's wondering how his year would look with just a few more starts. Or getting in an event after a top ten but finding no room because of the PGA Tour's incredible number of major medical exemptions.
Will Gray reports.
“Felt like I played one on, off three, played one, off four,” Fritsch said. “I think if the field sizes were the same as they were last year I would have gotten in four, five more events. That’s just frustrating.”
This week marks Fritsch’s 18th start of the season, and he is vying for his third top-10 finish of the year. While he began the season No. 14 out of 50 on the priority list among Web.com Tour Finals graduates, he is now No. 162 on the FedEx Cup points list and likely needs at least a top-three finish Sunday to secure playing privileges for 2015.
The lowlight for Fritsch came back in February, when a T-10 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open failed to gain him entry into the following week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open. A top-10 finish typically earns a player an automatic spot in the subsequent PGA Tour event, but a limited field and an influx of players using major medical extensions meant Fritsch never got to tee it up at TPC Scottsdale.
**Commissioner Leno says all is well, except that minor issue with new graduates not even getting in the fall events that were meant to be a great place for the rookies to get their headstart.
Will Gray reporting from the Wyndham Championship.
The one shortcoming Finchem identified is one that has been brought up by players throughout the year: a lack of playing opportunities for players coming out of the Web.com Tour Finals.
“The only weakness, if you could call it that, is that with all the fall events strengthening, it’s put a little pressure on access for the Web.com Tour graduates,” Finchem said. “That’s kind of a good problem to have, actually, but we’ll watch that because we want to make sure we’re providing enough access to players coming off the Web.com Tour.”