And if you know their first names, well, you really are watching way too much of Golf Central.
The audience in the theatre, looking over the footlights, view the play as do most of the gallery following the experts of golf. However, back-stage, there are a few eyes critically regarding the play from an entirely different angle. For many years I have preferred to observe golf shots from backstage, as it were. Seeing a man whack a golf ball is of little interest to me, and frequently it is a performance that had better be missed. That which concerns me most is where the ball lands and what it does after. A.W. TILLINGHAST
And if you know their first names, well, you really are watching way too much of Golf Central.
All times Pacific Daylight Time...
6:31 - Watched the first half hour in bed with Jeeves serving me tea and crumpets. Great to have Faldo-Azinger-Tirico back, what a difference in style. Azinger was wearing his granny glasses when their on camera opening started, creating the first opportunity for ribbing.
6:32 - Is Ivor Robson selling programs on the first tee? I'm not so sure about that podium and umbrella.
6:41 - DiMarco birdies 17, heads to 18 -5 on the day and -3 for the tournament. Writers can feel their "all 4 majors will be over par stories" slipping away.
6:45 - Sergio birdies No. 1, goes to -7 with a three shot lead over Weir, Stricker, Jimenez, Choi.
6:48 - Tiger fails to his his chip close on No. 12, Terry Gannon sounds dejected as they can feel his chances slipping away. Are ABC execs crying in his headset?
6:50 - A UK reader says they're talking grooves on the BBC, with Wayne Grady saying: "18 years ago they said there was no problem. Now they say there is. I could have told you that 18 years ago. Square grooves make it easier to control the ball." Uh Wayne, being able to drive the ball 300 yards with ease also makes it easy to control your second shots a lot better too!
6:54 - DiMarco sticks it on 18, with a chance to get to tie the course record with his birdie putt.
6:55 - ABC's GolfTrack graphic thingy is pretty cool, showing us that weird clump of grass added in the midst of the third fairway. It doesn't look too great.
7:03 - Synergy baby! ABC features Tiger talking about the last four holes at Carnoustie...courtesty of his EA sports game, complete with EA logo and graphics of computer-generated Tiger playing the holes.
7:11 - You know I thought that first hour featured an unusual amount of golf. And now I know why, here comes the commercial catch up. Plenty of time to read the paper. Why now when Alliss is in the booth!?
7:22 - Tirico asks Alliss what he thinks of the setup: "a bit too easy" and he wishes more drivers would be hit, but he doesn't know how you do that without the players using a "softer ball."
7:24 - And it's time for our third commercial break of the hour! Wow, really playing catch up!
7:33 - 1999 flashback and we get to hear Melnyk and Curtis Strange commentating. Oh how they aren't missed.
7:37 - And now it's time for the affiliates to pay their bills. I think we can get two more breaks in before Tiger hits 18 tee!
7:44 - Next commercial break, I think we could two more in before 8 am PDT!
7:50 - Stricker drains a long par putt on 15 (well, he did it like 10 minutes ago). Remains 7 under on the round, course record in jeopardy, all balconies of that ugly hotel behind 18 are shut down as facility goes on a John Philp suicide watch.
7:53 - And guess what, another commercial break! No. 6!
7:54 - Our UK eyes report that Wayne Grady counted 53 people inside the ropes following Tiger as he played No. 18!
7:57 - Azinger counts 34 people and four carts in the fairway behind Tiger!
8:01 - Tiger scraps it around for a 69, Alliss says a lesser man would have been over 80.
8:02 - Garcia and Choi have taken an hour and 30 minutes to play the first seven holes. And we've seen an hour and a half of commercials. Yes, we're taking the first break of the 8 o'clock hour. Think we can match the six breaks last hour?
8:11 - Cool flashback of ABC's 1962 Open coverage at Carnoustie. Arnold Palmer tells Jim McKay that Troon was the toughest course he had ever played.
8:12 - Sergio moves to -8, takes a two shot lead over Stricker who has 18 to par for a new course record.
8:15 - Second commercial break of the hour. Long way to go to catch up with last hour!
8:17 - Uh, I'm going to the mall soon to pick up one of those Sergio caps. Where should I go first? The adidas store or Hot Dog On-A-Stick?
8:28 - And now yet another word from our sponsors.
8:38 - Wow, Steve Stricker is getting choked up in his interview with Tom Rinaldi. Steve, hang in there bud, we need you strong for tomorrow so you can bring the trophy home. Oh wow, and he said "sorry" after Rinaldi passed it back to Tirico. Great to see such genuine emotion from one of our own!
8:42 - Okay, the Jack playing 18 at St. Andrews RBS ad was cool the first time, but the third time and during our fourth commercial break, well, it loses its luster.
8:53 - Back, wanted to really focus on commercial break 5, especially that Titleist NXT ad which has been airing all week. Goose bumps!
8:55 - From our UK eyes and ears, Peter Alliss on BBC talking to Sam Torrance: "I heard your father was a tremendous success the other night at the golf writers' dinner. Brought the house down."
9:08 - The golf course is fantastic [this time], no one could tell." -Stewart Cink on the difference between 1999 and 2007
9:11 - Okay, I'm all for quirk on a links course, but watching John Senden's shot ricochet off the OB fence right, then hit the OB post left of 18 green and then bounce back onto the green, is just a bit much.
9:17 - Garcia -9, Stricker, -6, Weir -4, Choi -4, Jimenez -4
9:18 - Tom Meeks is here, mentioning the movable obstruction cables, was that Azinger snickering in the background? And watching the Tiger drop from early in the week, Meeks noted that the cables seemed movable but the man on the ground determined they weren't. Boy what a difference he got in terms of lie! From thick rough to matted down stuff. Ah, doesn't matter, he's not going to win...right?
9:44 - I'm back, Had a little browswer upgrade to run. I know you were worried that I'd nodded off. How could I with a course letting a great leaderboard play, and doing it all at a reasonable pace? I wish the US Open and Masters moved at this pace.
9:48 - What's with the lukewarm applause for Sergio's incredible shot on 16!? Wow, what a shot. Are they all wearing mittens!?
9:53 - Uh, could those guys pile up a little more gear behind Sergio on 16? Are we setting up camp?
9:55 - Garcia -9, Stricker -6, K.J. Choi -4, Els -3, Furyk -3 and remarkably, ABC doesn't find a way to put Tiger's name on that mini-leaderboard.
9:59 - Azinger: "if it weren't for Steve Stricker shooting 64, this would be a walk."
10:05 - Sergio's second shot to 17 plunks a cameraman, naturally, all of the other photographers start taking a photo of their fallen comrade. Lovely. Sergio looks concerned when checking on the poor lad. Then pulls out a glove to sign. What do you write in a situation like that? "To The Poor Bastard I
Nailed Plunked Hit With A Ball At Carnoustie On Open Saturday, Warmest Regards, Sergio."
10:09 - Whoa, Sergio hits a pretty little lob shot about 3 feet, gets up and down to stay -9. ABC stat: No bogies for Sergio in the last 23 holes, make that 24 now.
10:21 - Sergio calls for his second to "BE GOOD" on 18 and as Faldo notes, one of the rare 100% calls, as he sticks it 10 feet. What a shot. 220 yards, it's dark and rainy and cold with the burn to carry.
10:24 - Why is it that every year the unreserved seating in the grandstands is full, while the reserved seating is always about half empty?
10:26 - Sergio misses, but posts 68, leaving him at -9. Stricker is -6, oh wait, there's Walter Driver shaking hands with Sergio. So glad he was out there to observe the round! They truly will let anyone inside those ropes.
A nice, diversified leaderboard--jeese, I sound like I'm writing about a mutual fund--has assembled at Carnoustie and Doug Ferguson's round two game story captures it better than I did. He also notes who will be missing:
Missing from the mix is Phil Mickelson, who missed the cut for the second straight time in a major.
Lefty figured he needed a par on the final hole to have any chance, then promptly hit a power fade into Barry Burn for double bogey and a 77. It was a setback for the three-time major champion, who lost in a playoff last week at the Scottish Open.
"I thought I was playing better than this," Mickelson said.
For the UK perspective, here's James Corrigan's Independent game story.
Douglas Lowe focuses on Jim Furyk's play and his activities off the course.
Lorne Rubenstein is swooning over the magic of links golf, oh and Mike Weir whose struggles may be coming to an end.
Steve Elling focuses on Sergio's opening hole shank.
Brian Viner looks at Tiger's opening tee shot that ended up in the burn.
Golf.com shares 22 photos from round 2 including our final Monty shot of the week, taken by Fred Vuich...
Kevin Eason gets a few words from Monty on his failed bid to make the cut.
Michael Bamberger ponders the wonders of evening golf in Scotland.
Chris Lewis asks ten burning questions heading into the weekend.
In terms of difficulty, the 18th, with a scoring average in excess of 4.7, was playing the hardest, followed by the 15th, another hardcore par four, which was nearly averaging 4.5. The toughest holes were to be found on the inward nine.
The 18th, though, is the scariest of the lot and only 29 per cent of the field were hitting the green in regulation after the first two rounds. This figure compares to 88 per cent at the 11th.
Gary Van Sickle talks to Arron Oberholser, who not surprisingly has fallen in love with links golf, though he too has doubts about the 18th hole's OB.
"I don't know why they have that fence there, they don't need it," he said. "It would be a shame to have a guy come to the last hole with a one-shot lead, pull his second shot just a little bit and it goes out of bounds, and you've lost the British Open. This is 18 holes of great golf but that last one is questionable."
And notes from the Independent include several fun items, topped off by this, which you had to see on the telecast or later on The Golf Channel to full appreciate (and which I would post on YouTube if I had the capability):
Alliss came up with another cracker when the television cameras lingered on a rear-view shot of a couple of certain age out on course. The woman was repeatedly tapping and tickling her chap's posterior. "Good job the cameras aren't the other side," Alliss said, alluding to the effects of the playfulness. "Or we might get a big surprise."
Did anyone else watching the first two days of TNT's Open Championship coverage here in the States feel that the network had an excellent two days? They announcing mixes were kept fresh, preventing Bobby Clampett from ever being on the air long enough to start reaching into his bag of mysterious comments. Paul Azinger was a nice edition, though it would be nice to let Peter Alliss work alone for his hour. Jim Huber's pre-packaged pieces on Hogan and the Carnoustie 10th tee tea bar were excellent, and despite the BBC's typically wretched production values, the pictures were pretty interesting.
Of course, there were the announcing highlights that I know you all want to relive.
Peter Alliss on Tiger Woods’ second round struggles: “Well the old boy is out of sync. I don’t know if he’s missing mommy or daughter or son or whatever it is. It’s not like him to look bothered. He is looking like the American version of Colin Montgomerie.”
Clampett on Jim Furyk’s second round : “(Jim Furyk) has been so close lately. I look for Jim to continue this run; he’s such a steady player right at the peak of his game. Carnoustie is a golf course that as it dries out more, we can see a little sunshine in the distance, the wind is supposed to pick up, that will favor a guy like Furyk.”
Terry Gannon on European drought of winning a Major : “There are a million reasons that people come up with why the Europeans have not won a Major yet. They (do) win the Ryder Cup. I’m not sure there’s one that really holds water in the end. There’s a guy named Tiger Woods who wins a lot of (tournaments).”
Thankfully, some common sense!
Clampett on Garcia’s cautious play : “(Sergio Garcia) is just tentative and that’s really going to hold him back, because that’s indicative of what’s going on in his mind right now. He knows he has the lead and he’s a bit protective.”
Uh, Bobby it's Friday and the holes were tucked. Cut the kid some slack!
Clampett on Vijay Singh’s out-of-bounds shot on the 18th fairway : “That’s what I feel is unfair about 18. I would prefer them to grow rough over there (instead of bleachers). It just makes the penalty so unfair. I know other players share my sentiments as well.”
Hey, good point!
Johnson on Choi’s successful shot from the “Barry Burn” : “That shot had YouTube (website) written all over it.”
Ernie, uh how do I put this? Not enough people watch golf for items to get posted on YouTube. Sadly. Maybe that'll change one of these days.
Nick Faldo on how he feels after his second round: “I’m feeling old. There are three departments of this game. There’s the swing and everyone’s different. There’s the physical side and everything aches. There’s the mental side and I’m shocked. Apart from that, I’m feeling spot-on.”Ah, glad he's joining the booth this weekend!
Faldo on his son, Matthew, being his caddy : “That’s probably the number one reason why I’m out there doing this because I’m standing there thinking, ‘Why am I doing this?’ He’s great; he was encouraging me all the way. Every time I hit a shot he’d say, ‘Forget it, come on. Stay loose, relax. You can birdie this one.’ And I’d say ‘Matthew, we’re in the ditch.” But he’s always positive.”
Johnson on Woods wearing gloves to warm his hands as the temperature drops at Carnoustie : “The gloves have come out. Tomorrow, the gloves come off in round three.”
TNT asks Tom Meeks to chime in on Alan Holmes's dreadful and unorthodox relief ruling for Tiger Woods, and even the former USGA man had trouble endorsing what was done. Thankfully for Holmes, Peter Alliss was there to rescue the embattled rules, uh, expert. Sort of.
Meeks reported that Holmes picked up the television cables, found "tension" and determined they could not be moved.
"In his opinion they were not readily movable."
Alliss then chimed in: "he tried to lift them. It's none of his business."
Precisely. Which of course was the most unusual aspect of it all. The official taking a proactive approach like that. Right?
So naturally, Alliss then said, "The fact remains that it really doesn't matter," and that Tiger "dropped it in a worse place than he was in before."
Alliss then went on about how the papers have "blown it all out of proportion" as they tend to do with all of these things like Gary Player's remarks.
Come on Peter...either the rules of golf matter or they don't.
During Friday's TNT Open Championship telecast, Peter Dawson sat down with Paul Azinger and Ernie Johnson to tell us what an irresponsible man Gary Player was for not outting someone during his Wednesday press conference. (I'll post the exact remarks when TNT hopefully sends them out.) Peter Alliss chimed in later with the same remark, that Player should have named names.
Dawson had to scold Player for making such a surprise statement and he made sure to let us know that he believes golf is clean. Oh but, by the way, the R&A is initiating a drug testing policy at the same time!
Now, if Player is so off base and out of line and golf is so clean, why would the R&A be establishing a policy?
More perplexing was Azinger, who suggested that a drug testing policy and program was a "risk."
Other than the cost, policy issues and annoyance factor, what is the risk?
That up and coming players might be discouraged from popping an Effexor or injecting themselves with something that won't help their long term health?
What's the risk of drug testing in golf?
Here are the exact remarks from the nice folks at TNT:
Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, joined Ernie Johnson and Paul Azinger in the booth
Dawson on the 2007 Open Championship : “(The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews) could not be more pleased. This is an exciting Open Championship played on the toughest golf course that we have.”
Dawson on the criticism following the 1999 Open Championship : “To be honest, I think anytime you have a championship when the player reaction to a golf course is so negative, you have to be stung by it. What we’ve learned from that is just how important player reaction is.”
Dawson on the fine line of altering a course due to players’ complaints : “It’s a delicate line. The one issue we can never control in the United Kingdom is the weather pattern. We don’t interfere with the golf course as much as what is the norm in the United States. We let nature take its course.”
Dawson on Gary Player’s assertion that some PGA Tour players are taking performance enhancing drugs : “It came as something of a surprise. Just how Gary (Player) has this particular piece of information that nobody else seems to have is bit of a mystery to me. It goes down as another one of the smallest of unsubstantiated rumors about performance enhancing substances in golf.”
Azinger on Player’s claim : “I was blindsided by this as well. I’ve been on the tour 26 years and I haven’t heard anything at all. I don’t know anyone that is (using performance enhancers). Gary may have put his foot in his mouth a little bit. The players are angered by it and they want to hear some names (of users) if he wants to (make the assertion).”
Azinger on drug testing PGA Tour players : “It’s easy to have a knee-jerk reaction to this (claim) and want to test the players. It may be the right thing to do at this point. It’s also a risky thing to do, I don’t know if the sport needs it.”
Dawson on drug testing PGA Tour players : “It’s certainly a complex and costly exercise to introduce a fully-fledges anti-doping policy across the whole world of golf. I think today, golf may have to recognize in these modern times that we have to not just say we’re a clean sport but demonstrate it as well.”
Azinger on performance enhancing drugs versus advances of golf technology : “(Technology) has done a pretty nice job so far. The metal-wood has been the greatest advancement in the sport since I’ve been on the tour (26 years). More so than even the golf ball. If steroids help you make a four-footer, which I don’t think they can do, then I don’t think we have too big of a problem.”
The USGA has posted two more reports on why U-grooves need to be banned. One report, the "Long Rough Height Report," is a reply to former USGA technical director Frank Thomas's suggestion that they should just grow more rough because after 4 inches of the thick stuff, grooves don't matter. They have now proven Frank wrong! Oh joy!
The second report titled
Reductio ad Absurdium PGA Tour Skill Rankings features all sorts of fancy graphs and charts about how driving accuracy means nothing to finish in the top 10 on the PGA Tour money list. After a cursory reading, I could not find one reference or even an acknowledgement of the role narrowed fairway widths have possibly played in chipping away at driving accuracy statistics.
I suppose that would make a big mess of the premise.
What I find most fascinating with both reports is the USGA's astounding determination to protect the integrity of rough. They are willing to ask every golfer to change out their U-grooved clubs so that rough, a cancer upon the game which has only been introduced and harvested through the years to quell distance gains, is preserved.
Meanwhile, a ball rollback would bring distances back in line with the existing architecture of thousands of courses, allowing for the integrity of a course design to be restored via width and shot values. Rough would be a minor part of the game, used on courses looking to save money on maintenance.
Instead, the governing body of North American golf appears willing to do just about anything to preserve a non-architectural element that only adds time to rounds and misery for most golfers. For the good of the game?
Doug Ferguson's round 1 game story on Sergio Garcia's impressive course record 65. And for the UK perspective, here's Lawrence Donegan's take for The Guardian.
Alan Shipnuck offers a decent reason not to root for Sergio.
Paul Kelso tells us more about 18-year-old Rory McIlroy, who beat Tiger Woods.
McIlroy's talent has been an open secret in Northern Ireland for some years and he has been nurtured by support from the Sports Council and the Irish Golf Union, who have funded his career worldwide since he left school aged 16 with "a few" GCSEs.My kinda kid!
He resisted the lure of travelling to America to complete his golf education in the university system - "I didn't really fancy the school part," he conceded - preferring to stay within the amateur fold in Europe and take up the occasional invitation to professional events.
Tan, rested and ready, embattled Carnoustie greenkeeper John Philp finally spoke to a media member and of course, sounds like he really wishes the course was a whole lot tougher, like '99. Graham Spiers was the lucky inkslinger:
“There’s no doubt the course is easier,” Philp said. “There is no longer the intimidation factor on the tee for the players because the fairways are wider and the rough isn’t as dense. This time, the players can definitely feel more comfy on the tee. The course is not as fearsome.”And that's a good thing, right John? I guess not if your ego is all tied up in a high winning score.
Tony Jimenez reports that Retief Goosen didn't take kindly to Gary Player's performance enhancing drug accusations...
"I don't know what Gary was trying to prove," the world number 11 told reporters after launching his British Open challenge with a one-under-par 70 on Thursday. "I am very shocked at his comments.
"I don't know why he said that. I don't know if he is trying to damage the sport. If he wants to come and make these comments, why doesn't he name them?"
And of course if Player named names, he's be roasted even more!
Allan Patullo on Monty's grumpy (I know, shocking) post round demeanor.
No wonder he slammed his putter into his bag at the 18th. There was little surprise, too, when he by-passed reporters afterwards and headed instead for the putting green. Seasoned Monty watchers had seen this movie before, one that might be titled The Changeling.
But it doesn't look like he'll be brandishing a winner's cheque on Sunday, and nor is it likely that Monty the showman will be appearing in front of reporters any time soon. He gave us 3,677 words on Wednesday - golf is the sort of sport where such things are recorded - but we should have known some of these should have been kept for a rainy day.
And Lynne Truss of all people offers Monty a putting tip.
Claire Middleton tracked Ian Poulter down for a fashion compliment and got a revealing reply:
Poulter is usually one of the brightest fellows to follow on the course, but last year's Liberace sequins have been replaced by a more mellow olive check - which sounds pretty revolting, but is actually very smart.
He cheered up a bit when the Diary (feeling a bit blown away by the tirade above) mentioned this. "The clothing is a business and if you think it's smart, that's lovely," he said.
And here I thought he dressed like that because he actually liked wearing pink pants.
Finally, John Huggan talked to Paul Casey about Nick Faldo's remarks that players need to be less chummy. Huggan picked up this SI "They Said It" worthy quote:
"The friendship obviously works well in team matches," said Casey. "But I know a lot of the guys who are friendly when they want to be friendly but can still be extreme competitors. I mean, Geoff Ogilvy is a good pal of mine and I took a lot from his US Open win last year. It hasn't paid off yet, but I've watched and learned. I think I'm as good as him. I don't go around saying it, but I think it a lot."
Uh Paul, you just went around saying it.
Walter Driver Sending R&A Thank You Gifts; Vows To Loan USGA Jet If More Open Boondoggles Are Delivered
Yesterday, however, an R&A spokesman said: "It was mutually agreed, given the media interest in this matter, that Graham Brown would take no further part in this championship."
...the next rules committee chairman, Alan Holmes, bungled a Tiger Woods ruling in ways that even a USGA committeeman could never comprehend (but they surely must be enjoying the other governing body looking so ridiculous!).
Everyone in professional golf knows that if your ball comes to rest against television cables, you mark the ball with a tee peg, move the cables and take a free drop. Woods did not get the chance to carry out this basic procedure after carving his drive into the rough to the left of the 10th fairway.
Like Woods, Roe was aghast at the ruling. He said: "It's perhaps the easiest rule to knowand what really disappoints you is that this guy is going to be the next rules chairman and he can't even get that right."
Just to put this into context, Tiger Woods was playing in Arizona in 1999 when a rules official declared that a 1,000lb boulder was a movable obstruction.
James Corrigan in the Independent says:
On the left side of the 10th, Holmes adjudged that a collection of television cables was an "immovable obstruction" and told Woods he could shift his ball away without penalty. No one was more shocked than the player himself, and he duly capitalised on this widely perceived lucky break by making par. It was a weird drop, I was as surprised as anybody," he admitted. "I've never seen that ruling before. I didn't ask for the drop, the guy told me I could. He tried to move them and said he couldn't. Every time I've played around the world they've picked them up, no problem."
Holmes insisted his decision had been correct and labelled accusations that he had been intimidated by Woods stature "ridiculous". They were levelled most vehemently by Mark Roe, a former professional who was following Woods in his role as a radio summariser. "In 21 years as a pro I've never seen a drop like it," said Roe. "His first lie was absolutely horrendous and he would have struggled to play the shot. I think the R&A official became like a jellyfish because it was Woods. Some rulings are complex; this was not."
Roe proved his point by picking up the cables with one hand and moving them three feet; a respected journalist did likewise. Nevertheless, the R&A backed its man with conviction. Holmes is due to be the next chairman of the governing body's rules committee and, after a week in which one of its high-ranking members was stood down for making racial slurs in a pre-Championship speech, it is the last thing the R&A needed.
And Lewine Mair shares this from the offending official:
Holmes said it was "absolutely ridiculous" to suggest he had given Woods a favourable ruling because of who he was. "I applied the letter of the law," he said. "It was a simple decision and that's it. I couldn't move the cable appreciably so it became immovable."
I've tried reading these backwards, in Spanish and through the Ali G tranzlata, but no luck deciphering the wisdom...
Clampett on the weak spot in Tiger Woods’ golf game: “If there is a weak point in Tiger (Woods’) game, that is his weakest point, the little boring, blasé chip off the green. I don’t think it’s tough enough to get his attention.”
Kratzert: “You had to look deep for that weakness, didn’t you?”
The Martin and Lewis of golf.
Clampett on Ernie Els making a birdie from the bunker on the first hole: “When (Els) was 14 years old and a tennis star and then switched to golf, he asked his dad to blow out the tennis court in the backyard and build a chipping green with a bunker…guess that practice paid off.”
Ha! Good one!
Clampett on the ovation McIlroy received at the conclusion of his round: “What a moment.”
Johnson: “Don’t wake up kid. Wow, what a day.”
Clampett: “(Rory McIroy's) going to be a name to remember for a long time.”
Johnson: “A couple of years ago he stopped playing junior events. He’s with the big guys now and more than holding his own.”
Clampett on Toru Taniguchi (+1): “(Toru Taniguchi) may be the most confident man in the field with back-to-back wins in Japan coming in (to Carnoustie).”
How could you forget Monty!
Gary D'Amato talks to PGA Tour brass about FedEx Cup scenarios (get your pen and paper out) and asks if fans care about the FedEx Cup standings?
"I think they're as confused as some of us players," [Kenny] Perry said. "I think only when it plays out in September will we all have a better feel for it."
Said Goydos: "I have a pretty good idea of what I need to do, but the reality is that I don't think the public has a good grasp. The Tour needs to do a good job of educating. That's their big challenge."
Bernhard Langer is No. 53 in the FedEx Cup points but said he would skip the playoffs because he has committed to play in tournaments on the European and Champions tours. But he thought fans would embrace the FedEx Cup, once they understood how it worked.
"I think the American people are used to playoffs from all the other major sports," Langer said.
Uh except in those playoffs, it's easy to figure out who gets eliminated.
Oh I know there's all that legal mumbo-jumbo at the end of the PGA Tour's junk emails (which I so enjoy receiving) about not being responsible for an "advertiser's content." But I also bet the lawyers and VP's could say no to an ad campaign that puts the PGA Tour in an uncomfortable position.
Apparently the Titleist NXT ads, which were very funny for about a year--unfortunately that was three years ago--do not concern the PGA Tour, even though they are part of a campaign suggesting that proponents of equipment regulation are uh, batty!
After opening with a 2-under 69 to begin his bid to become the first player in a half-century to win three consecutive British Open belts, Woods had to explain his role in a curious ruling that some claimed was caused by preferential treatment by a rules official.
Woods was 3 under when he hit a drive dead left on the 10th hole, which is when everything else started moving sideways as well. Given the sketchy explanation that officials with the Royal & Ancient Golf Club offered with regard to the ensuing free drop he received, the saucy British tabs fast made a federal case out of the questionable ruling.
Actually, since we're overseas, it was more of an international incident. Apparently, the belief abroad is that Woods not only rules the game, he rules the rulemakers.
After Woods yanked his drive into what might be the only stand of trees for miles, his ball came to rest on a line of television cables resting in the thick grass. Ninety-nine times out of 100, rules protocol calls for a player to mark the ball, move the cables, then drop the ball in the same spot with no penalty.
However, Woods said the R&A rules official on the scene, Alan Holmes, instead offered a free drop several feet away in an area that had been trampled by fans, claiming the cables were an immovable obstruction. Mark Roe, a BBC radio reporter and former European Tour player, was shadowing Woods' group and said he moved the cables with relative ease afterward. He more than insinuated that Holmes was intimidated.
"I think the R&A official became a jellyfish the moment Tiger Woods asked for a drop," Roe said on the air.
Roe added later: "I am absolutely disgusted. In 21 years, I've never seen a drop like it. The rules official has made a big mistake."
Woods shrugged and tried to explain what happened.
"It was a weird drop," he said. "I was as surprised as anybody. I've never seen that ruling before."
Here on TNT tape-delay and not long ago we had the segment on Gary Player's comments about steroid use (and kudos to TNT to talking about it, something the American networks might not have done).
Bobby Clampett said he respected Player's views and had heard second hand rumors of experimentation, but no concrete evidence. And then he said it was a sad day for golf, citing the usual and seemingly understandable reasons (the game has been clean, gentleman's game, shouldn't have to come to this, etc...).
How can broadcasters or golf executives ever call this a sad or dark day since the possibility of performance enhancing drug use became a reality when so many made the ridiculous claim that athleticism was largely driving the distance explosion?
Courtesy of the poor folks at TNT PR who have to transcribe the best of the broadcasts, Clampett and Peter Alliss's remarks about Gary Player's accusation:
“Gary (Player's) got so much integrity, he speaks from the heart. As a player, it saddens me that these kinds of reports would be coming out. This is a game of integrity that we have enjoyed being free of any of these kinds of allegations in the history of the game. It looks like we might have to move into drug testing of players, that saddens me.”
-- Clampett on Gary Player’s accusations that professional golfers are using performance-enhancing drugs.
“I have no idea (what prompted Gary Player’s statement) unless he needed the publicity. I don’t know why he waited until he was 70-odd years of age to come out with it and then not tell us who it is. Just taking a stick and stirring a muddy pond for no reason, it’s very stupid.”
-- Alliss on his reaction to Gary Player’s assertion that some professional golfers take performance enhancing drugs
“The USGA has long held to the principle that if it is good for average golfers, and good for the game, then you support the evolution of equipment.” It’s quite apparent that you have determined that “the chickens are out of the hen house” regarding drivers and balls, but altering the way we make wedges is not the solution to this problem.”
So much fun stuff to read what with the R&A stumbling all over itself and Gary Player making news. Oh, and the Open Championship starts today, too.
Regarding the matter at hand, GolfDigest's Mike O'Malley gives us a heads up on the O.B. close to 18 green, which I seem to remember was an issue in 1999 as well (but I still can't picture the all time greatest shot ever that Paul Lawrie spoke of).
The Golf Digest writers make their picks, including Boredom and Giggle who are going semi-retro (2003) by picking Padraig and Els.
James Lawton considers Nick Faldo's press conference and his assertion that today's players are a bit soft.
Paul Kelso in The Guardian notes this from Faldo's media gathering:
Nick Faldo, left, was celebrating his 50th birthday yesterday and, although he joked that he had received only one present, it seems there are some gifts he can do without. After his press conference yesterday he was offered a signed copy of a new biography of Colin Montgomerie, his one-time European Ryder Cup partner. Deciding apparently that the Faldo bookshelves were already full, the six-times major champion neglected to take the book with him when he left.
Speaking of our favorite car washer, Steve Bierley calls Monty the "grand illusionist" in laughing off the Scot's newfound optimism while Lorne Rubenstein recounts some of Monty's classic Jekyl and Hyde moments.
Sergio Garcia wishes things were firmer and faster, but the weather forecast doesn't look like it's going to help matters. And judging by the photos at golf.com, it was a miserable final practice round.
John Huggan considers what things would be like with Ben Hogan returning to Carnoustie in 2007.
John Hawkins wonders what's up with David Duval, updates his whereabouts (should you care) and shares this anecdote from Duval's 2001 Open win:
After he won the '01 British, Duval let me accompany him back to the house he had rented for the week in northwest England. What struck me about that hour was the utter lack of joy exhibited by anyone in the traveling party, particularly the latest owner of the claret jug. They had a plane to catch and bags to pack, but if you had walked into that house 20 minutes into the process, you would have sworn Duval finished tied for 35th.
John Garrity visits Rhod McEwan's merchandise tent bookstore. They sell books? Why, that might compete with hat sales here in the States.
However, Mr Brown, who was attending the dinner in a private capacity, shocked the gathering with a speech described by those listening as "offensive and racist". He joked about Japanese players all looking the same, referring to them as "Nips", and about a black taxi driver in a Deep South accent. Diners were left with their heads in their hands as he launched into another ill-judged story about a deaf golfer playing against an opponent with a cleft palate. "He went down like a lead balloon," said one guest. "It was like a Bernard Manning tribute night," said another.
Sadly, the Principal has not weighed in yet.
James Corrigan offers the best summary of Gary Player's comments on possible drug use along with plenty of player reaction (They're shocked, saddened and of course don't think they know of anyone doing anything sinister because they're family men who are playing a game of honor...yada, yada. Alan Shipnuck thankfully agrees that such a response is getting old.).
In the transcript of Player's press conference, note that he called it a "wonderful question" before beginning his gabfest, so he clearly was waiting to be asked about this.
And finally, Kelso's Guardian account shared this from Ernie Els in response to Player's claims:
Els, who is one of the favourites this week, was surprised at his compatriot's assertion. "Holy shit. I know I'm not. But if he knows it, he knows something I don't. There is a list of substances they ban. I take Advil for pains and discomfort and anti-inflammatories and something for my knee when it gets damp, and I take Guinness."
These R&A buffoons are trying to outdo their USGA counterparts, and I must say, doing a fine, fine job!
Very tasteful choice here in light of his inability to secure a hole location and considering Mr. Brown's behavior the night before:
MARTIN KIPPAX: Hello, ladies and gentlemen. A little bit of humor perhaps to start with. One of our members, Rhodri Price, as you many of you know, on his way home from the course last night at 10:00 decided it would be a good idea to get a pizza, so he got his pizza and he went home to his hotel room, switched on his favorite television program, sat down, had himself apparently a present of some bubble bath.
He decided to have a bath. So there he is, he ran his bath, put the bubble bath in, went next door, 15 minutes later, watched the television program, came in and then decided it was time for the bath. Went into the bathroom, no water in the bath. He had forgotten to put the plug in. So, R&A couldn't run a bath (laughter).
Hardy har, har...banging fist on table here!
On a serious note, look how badly Peter Dawson bungled this question and how Kippax of all people had to mop up for him:
Q. What kind of message do you think it sends out, the image of the game, the image of The R&A, that he's going to continue to serve?
PETER DAWSON: If I can answer that, my understanding is that this was a private dinner held by the Association of Golf Writers. Any image that's sent out to the game is a matter for the people in this room.
MARTIN KIPPAX: I hope that what we're doing is we're saying that The R&A would not want to be associated with anything which is in the slightest bit racist or anything of that nature. And I hope that that's accepted by this room. I mean, that's the way it is. We've had it out with Graeme and that's the way we see it.
PETER DAWSON: Thank you very much indeed, ladies and gentlemen.
"While increasing the economic opportunities for our members, marketing opportunities for sponsors and opportunities for fans..."
Who else could so relentless use the same word in one sentence? Why you know who, the Brand Lady, probably fresh from a downward brand stream integration meeting where they decided this news would be branded as creating "opportunities."
Readers LPGA Fan and Phil sent this news...
LPGA acquires Duramed FUTURES Tour
Women’s professional golf now under one umbrella
NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y., July 18, 2007 – Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Commissioner Carolyn F. Bivens, in conjunction with Zayra Calderon, president and CEO of the Duramed FUTURES Tour, announced today that the LPGA has acquired the Duramed FUTURES Tour effective immediately. The Duramed FUTURES Tour has been the official developmental tour of the LPGA since 1999. The announcement was made at the LPGA’s HSBC Women’s World Match Play Championship at Wykagyl Country Club in New Rochelle, N.Y.
The Duramed FUTURES Tour offers rising stars in the women’s game the opportunity to prepare for a career on the LPGA. For the past eight years, the Duramed FUTURES Tour has operated in a licensee role with the LPGA. In recent years the organizations have worked closely to align business practices to assist the members of both tours with professional development, and to prepare members of the Duramed FUTURES Tour for the transition to the LPGA. One of the biggest examples of the synergy between the two organizations over the years has been the awarding of coveted LPGA Tour cards for the top money leaders on the Duramed FUTURES Tour. In 2003, the LPGA increased the cards from three to five.
“We are absolutely delighted that we have reached an agreement for the LPGA to acquire the Duramed FUTURES Tour,” Bivens said. “This acquisition demonstrates our desire to fortify the LPGA as the home to the best golfers in the world, providing us with a powerful development system for women, while increasing the economic opportunities for our members, marketing opportunities for sponsors and opportunities for fans to enjoy the next generation of future LPGA stars.”
The acquisition will put women’s professional golf in the United States under one umbrella. Together, the tours will bring the world’s best female professional golfers to more markets, resulting in increased exposure for the players, sponsors and tours. Currently the LPGA has 35 tournaments worldwide and the Duramed FUTURES Tour has 19 tournaments in 14 states.
“The Duramed FUTURES Tour has strategically aligned with the LPGA to provide a seamless transition for Duramed FUTURES Tour players to the LPGA,” Calderon said. “This agreement solidifies what all of us have been working toward for years – a cohesive tour system for the best talent in women’s golf. The LPGA Tour features the very best in the game and the Duramed FUTURES Tour offers talented golfers and rising stars the opportunity to prepare for a career on the LPGA.”
Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Notable terms call for Calderon to remain as president and CEO of the Duramed FUTURES Tour and become a member of the LPGA’s senior management team. In addition, the Duramed FUTURES Tour staff will relocate from Lakeland, Fla., to the LPGA headquarters in Daytona Beach, Fla., by the end of the year.
Among the intriguing elements of the match-play event's arrival is it comes on the heels of an extensive renovation to the club - one that has changed not just the aesthetic of the storied course, but how it will play.
By almost every account, those changes are particularly conducive to match play, where golfers have to constantly choose between a conservative or aggressive line. And after the renovations last year by the celebrated design team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, the difference between the two has been brought into sharper focus.
"The biggest difference is there's a lot more strategy involved," said Ben Hoffhine, Wykagyl's head pro. "And in match play, it's a lot more apparent because how you play is dictated by what your opponent does."
Said Chuck Del Priore, one of the club's top players and a member of its greens committee: "A lot of the weaker players will say the course got easier, and the better players think so, too. But what they're also finding is they're getting themselves in more trouble."
That a golf course can simultaneously be more accessible and more challenging is a reflection of the sheer volume of options players are now presented with. Trees have been cut down. Greens and fairways have been expanded. Once a string of 18 wooded holes in which target lines were quite obvious - i.e. just hit it between the trees - the sheer openness of holes means players this week will have new ways to attack them. Which also means they'll have new ways to mess them up.
"It used to be like a one-way street, but now you have tons of different options and lines," Hoffhine said. "And when golfers have options, they also have the potential to make mistakes."
A couple of stories detail the latest bets that can be placed on the Open Championship. Bob Fenton writes:
For those who think Tiger Woods might be blown away in the first two days, can have 9-1 that he does not start the third round for golfing reasons.Now, I hate to be cynical, but I so rarely am. Therefore, I'm entitled. But, headlines and stories like the above which have been fairly common. The theme of these stories is that a Tiger win would be disastrous for the bookies. For some reason it makes me envision some naked bookie with an arrow pointed toward his rear end running out to distract Tiger as he attempts a birdie putt on 18 to win it all. Or to encourage some nut to tackle and injure him en route to his third round tee time.
My point: I'm glad betting on sports is illegal in America (outside of Las Vegas
and Atlantic City). We have too many nutjobs who might read articles like this, place a bet and try to influence the outcome. In Great Britain, they just have stupid old racists who drink too much.
Anyway, I'm curious if anyone else gets the same vibe reading such stories.
On a lighter subject, Paul Lawrie and Monty are definitely going in different directions when it comes to the pre-tournament action:
Aberdonian Lawrie is back at Carnoustie - where he famously won the Claret Jug in 1999 - for The Open which starts on Thursday morning.
Lawrie is priced at 200-1 by bookmakers William Hill, and the biggest bet on him is only £25 each-way to be placed.
However bookmakers say a Montgomerie win at 25-1 would cost more than £1m.
William Hill spokesman Graham Sharp said: "Despite his failure to make the cut in the Scottish Open last week, Monty is the man the punters want to back for The Open and his have odds tumbled to 25-1 from 80-1.
"Every other bet seems to have his name on at the moment, and we will certainly be handing over a hefty seven-figure sum to punters should Monty manage to win.
"The biggest bet is £300 each-way at 80-1, but it's the volume of smaller bets. Monty is to The Open what Frankie Dettori is to the Derby."