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Writing And Videos

You might as well praise a man for not robbing a bank as to praise him for playing by the rules.



"Who Says Golf Writers Aren't Hip?"

Bob Smiley notes that the golf media's hipness Q-rating took a hit with this question of first round FBR Open leader James Nitties, and the golfer's wonderful gentle explanation.


Rory's 64 Underlines His Ryder Cup Potential!

Isn't it just a tad early for a lede, albeit unbylined, like this? Reader Patrick thought so and sent the link in:

Northern Ireland teenager Rory McIlroy underlined his Ryder Cup potential with a timely eight-under-par 64 in the first round of the Dubai Desert Classic before play was suspended due to bad light.

The talented 19-year-old carded nine birdies to open up a one-stroke lead over Sweden's Robert Karlsson, only a day after new Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie named him as a potential candidate for Celtic Manor next year.

How does a 64 on some slab of desert indicate Ryder Cup potential?

Anyway, another legendary Irishman, Long Beach's Mark O'Meara, played with Rory and declared him the Next Tiger. 

Gee, I remember the days when they were the Next Nicklaus.


"Drawing lines in the sand is not going to solve problems, it's going to create problems." **

I doubt anyone was surprised by the news Ginn was pulling out of its two LPGA and one Champions event since word of their bankruptcy hasn't exactly been a state secret. Wait, what was that Ty?

"We were involved in discussions to address whatever issues there may have been in their ability to perform their contract," Votaw said Thursday. "We were disappointed and surprised with the suddenness of the announcement without any forewarning."

Can you believe it? Problems are arising from the PGA Tour legal department's fantasy insistence that their "ironclad" contracts will carry the day even as a company is literally going up in smoke!

Steve Elling reports on Ginn pulling out, the PGA Tour's reaction and he talks to Ginn's man, Robert Gidel, who explains the crux of the problem:

"What gets frustrating at times is that people who are not at the epicenter of the financial and economic crisis lose sight of what's happening to everyone. We're all in the same soup.

"Drawing lines in the sand is not going to solve problems, it's going to create problems."

As reader Chris, who sent the Elling story in notes, it would appear that "Commission Finchem & Company have had the hammer for years, the other side of the table has it now." 


Monty Does Everything But Call Faldo A Blundering Idiot

As quoted by Bernie Mcguire...

The Scot said: "I wasn't in Valhalla but my optimum number is more than last time.

"I will have Olly there with me and other suitable candidates. I have a great understanding and respect for Olly.

"I will have plenty of backroom staff. I think it's very important you have enough help out there.

There's an awful lot going on and I cannot be in two places at once.

"But my goal is to try to gain 14 and a half points."

Monty also revealed his shame for last September's team.

And he insists the disappointment on the faces of the losing players is something he is determined not to see again.

He said: "I watched on TV what was going on. Knowing the players as I did, especially the Harrington and Westwood situation at the end of the matches, I felt ashamed for them to be left at the end there.

"They should have been involved at an earlier stage but I saw enough of what was going on.

"I didn't see the practice days which is important to a team unit. I only saw the match days and when you are so far behind after the first day it's a large hurdle to climb.

"From that very first day it was difficult to see smiles on anyone's faces and I would expect that.

"That was a first-day defeat we hadn't seen for some time. We just need that early momentum as it is very difficult nowadays to pull anything back in a Ryder Cup."


Shock: Thinking Too Much Can Be Bad For Your Game

So good to see that two of the world's great universities are studying the really important stuff...


"I played with so-and-so, and he said four words to us the entire round.'"

The L.A. Daily News is down to five sports writers but they still let Jill Painter file a golf column from time to time, so you can imagine my joy when I got around to my copy last night and read this from new LPGA Tour card holder Anna Rawson, who draws attention for her looks but more importantly, provides interesting fodder with her occasional blog posts at Yahoo and honest assessments like this:

"I was out at Sherwood, and I was disgusted with how the PGA Tour players acted toward fans," Rawson said. "They didn't sign autographs or they'd sign four and walk off. I watched Paula Creamer sign autographs for two hours in Korea.

"Some (PGA) players walked straight past (fans). I couldn't believe it."


Rawson is a model on the side, and if her game continues to flourish, she might be standing for hours signing photographs, autographs and programs, as well as mingling with sponsors at cocktail parties and chatting up pro-am partners more often.

"God, they make so much money (on the PGA Tour). It's disgusting how much more they make than us," said Rawson, who played at USC. "I've heard countless times from people that played in a PGA Tour pro-am and they said, `Wow, you're going to have a conversation? I played with so-and-so, and he said four words to us the entire round."'


Rude On The Demise Of The Golf Scribe

Jeff Rude's excellent piece on the rapid decline in the number of golf writers is not at, but I think you can preview Golfweek digital this way and find it on page 16. And if you haven't seen the classy new redesign of the print edition, here's your chance. Note the expanded Forecaddie too. Good stuff. Subscribe!


Monty Already Greatest Captain In History Of Ryder Cup **

The British Press is doing what it does best...building him up before they inevitably slap him around. Enjoy it Monty, because you know this won't last.

Mike Aitken in The Scotsman:

But Monty's credentials as one of Europe's greatest Ryder Cup players, along with an intimate knowledge of the men he will lead at Celtic Manor, swung the decision in his favour. Following in the footsteps of compatriots George Duncan, Johnny Fallon, Eric Brown, Bernard Gallacher and Sam Torrance, Montgomerie, who lives in Perthshire, had hoped to be honoured with the captaincy at Gleneagles in 2014.

Mark Reason in the Telegraph:

Many in the game believe that Montgomerie will be just as good a Ryder Cup leader as he has been a player. Peter McEvoy, arguably British golf's greatest captain yet, played with him as an amateur at Walker Cups and Eisenhower Trophys in the Eighties and believes that the Scot has everything it takes.

He said: "His enthusiasm and box office appeal will be very good for the Ryder Cup commercially. Monty will never be out of the newspapers. He loves it. But he's also got a really strong winning instinct.

"People always say that Monty should have won a major, but lacked the killer instinct. I think they've got it the wrong way round. I think he has been held back by a one-dimensional game, but has a hugely winning attitude that he will bring to the Ryder Cup captaincy. He will do what it takes. I can't see a negative."

Nope, me neither.

William Johnson reports that Monty has at least one assistant who will put up with him help him stay in touch with today's players.

Indeed, Montgomerie was so impressed by reports of how influential Olazabal had been in Valhalla last September that he has already offered the Spaniard an assistant's role next year. Olazabal has accepted.

Lawrence Donegan is the only one who sounds cautiously optimistic:

Watching Montgomerie handle his newly acquired status as the most popular man on tour, as well as the dynamics of his personal relations with other players – the good, the bad and ugly – will be one of the more fascinating parlour games of the next 18 months...


The Stimulus Bill And Golf

We found out that golf was specifically excluded from the Obama stimulus bill passed by the House Wednesday, but there is good news. There wasn't much infrastructure spending despite projections that far more is needed, meaning we'll probably see more debate about infrastructure.

The current bill's spending:

Infrastructure — $43 billion for transportation projects, including $30 billion for highway and bridge construction and repair and $12 billion for mass transit, including $7.5 billion to buy transit equipment like buses; $31 billion to build and repair federal buildings and other public infrastructure; $19 billion in water projects; $10 billion in rail and mass transit projects.

Of course, as I outlined in Golf World, the game could definitely do a whole bunch with a tiny portion of the "water projects" money!



"I just didn't like the setup there last year. They had 1½-foot rough behind the 11th green."

Bob Verdi files an entertaining Golf World column on the state of Phil Mickelson's game and outlook. I just loved this:

Portions of Mickelson's '09 agenda are established, but there are variables. The Memorial is not among the latter. "I have decided I definitely won't play there," he said. "I just didn't like the setup there last year. They had 1½-foot rough behind the 11th green." Mickelson recalls a sequence when he reached that picturesque par 5 in two with a 3-wood, only to watch as the ball released beyond and into the aforementioned vegetation. Upon hacking out, he was unable to hold his third shot on the green. "On the other hand," Mickelson went on, "Memphis is the week before the U.S. Open. So that's a possibility. I'll wind up with 20 or 21 tournaments, like I usually do."

Jack: he's picking Memphis over Memorial. Is putting the players in place with the tall stuff working for you?


Tiger's Return: The Most Anticipated Event In All Of Sports?

I know it's a press release, but I have a hunch more people will watch the Super Bowl, or for that matter, the World Series of Poker, than Tiger's first round play at Doral. Some nice corporatespeak here for those of you tracking at home:


Comcast Sports Sales to Leverage Networks' New Programming and Live Event Coverage

NEW YORK, Jan. 28, 2009 - Comcast Programming Group launched today the Comcast Sports Sales group to combine the strengths and assets of the GOLF CHANNEL and VERSUS sales teams. The new unit will focus on growing and diversifying sponsorship platforms for the networks and create new opportunities for ownership positions across multiple sports. Comcast Network Advertising Sales President David T. Cassaro will lead the new division.

"The creation of the Comcast Sports Sales unit provides many new opportunities for clients who seek a highly engaged sports audience," said Cassaro. "By bringing together the GOLF CHANNEL and VERSUS sales teams, we are offering the best possible marketing solutions for our advertisers and look forward to building on the networks' ongoing growth and success."

GOLF CHANNEL, currently in 82 million U.S. homes, continues early momentum from a record-setting 2008. Ratings for the first quarter were the highest in the network's history. Trends for tournament coverage outperformed all other networks. And, GOLF CHANNEL garnered its first-ever Emmy Award.

2009 tees off on GOLF CHANNEL with the most anticipated event in all of sports - the return of Tiger Woods. Only in the third year of an exclusive and unprecedented, 15-year agreement with the PGA TOUR, GOLF CHANNEL this year will offer a slate of programming that includes more than 100 tournaments across the world's major tours, incomparable news coverage, groundbreaking documentaries and an entertaining lineup of original shows, like "The Haney Project," featuring Charles Barkley, "Golf in America" and "Big Break."

Offering advertisers one of the best value propositions in television, the network's viewer profile - male, affluent, and hard-to-reach - coupled with the ability to deliver customized, integrated platforms provides partners maximum effectiveness for their advertising dollar. GOLF CHANNEL provides the perfect destination for receptive viewers to pursue their passion.


"Compared to Chrysler, the Buick folks are the shrewdest of opportunists."

Steve Elling takes issue with Bill Dwyre's LA Times piece and the idea of Chrysler not using the Hope to market its products and points out Buick's approach as the more shrewd move to getting the cars out in front of people and the companies back on their feet.


"Congress has moved to prevent money from the proposed $825 billion stimulus package from being used for zoos, aquariums, golf courses, swimming pools and casinos"

Thanks to reader Joel for this:

Congress has moved to prevent money from the proposed $825 billion stimulus package from being used for zoos, aquariums, golf courses, swimming pools and casinos, an effort to ensure the bill funds only what it calls the "highest quality" infrastructure projects.

"The purpose of this bill is to direct funding at projects that are primarily and clearly aimed at benefiting the economic conditions of communities and the public at large," the bill states. "The federal government and all other levels of government are directed to look with a skeptical eye at projects that don't meet that test."
CNN revealed last month that a list of "ready to go" stimulus projects endorsed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors included museum and zoo renovations, aquatic centers, skateboard parks and bike and horse paths. One of the zoo projects in the report is a $4.8 million polar bear exhibit at the Providence, Rhode Island, zoo.

The House Appropriations Committee added those restrictions last week after criticism from watchdog groups like the National Taxpayers Union, which monitors government spending.

"To the people supporting them, these proposals aren't a joke," said Pete Sepp, the group's vice president. "But to the taxpayers funding them, yes this will be a joke for them, only they won't be laughing."

The restrictions in the bill appear meant to address reports about some of the projects endorsed by the U.S. mayors, Sepp said. 

Any followers of politics who know how to find out which fine politician drove the inclusion of this language in the bill? Or is it all done behind closed doors?

Obviously, my Golf World piece was not read by this fine guardian of American values! And clearly, Steve Mona, Bob Combs and the crew down in Florida working to educate our nation's capital have their work cut out for them.


Monty Takes Euro Captaincy Stakes By Two Lengths

And Jose Maria is not named 2012 captain, so we get to do this all over again in two years!


Sergio Refuses To Confirm He's Penciled In As 2029 Ryder Cup Captain

Okay, that's not entirely true but believe it or not, some are already eyeing his possible tenure as the absurd 2010 captaincy debate comes to a head with Wednesday's planned announcement.

Bill Elliott writing for The Guardian:

Ewan Murray, the former Tour player who now is lead commentator for Sky Sports golf, is not alone when he articulates the thought that the Tournament Players Committee is making a mountain out of a molehill by prevaricating on the choice of captain.

"Especially when every­one can see how clear-cut it is, or should be," said Murray. "Monty can't do it in the States because the punters over there would just be into him from the start while Ollie would be ideal for America. The fact is that Gleneagles in five years' time might well be too late for Colin. He'd be too old really so surely it has to be now. Look, it's a different European Tour now. Players are younger, potential Ryder Cup men like Rory McIlroy, Danny Willett and Oliver Wilson, for example, are late teens and very early twenties. They need a connection. The Tour is lucky because there is a logical sequence of potential captains through to 2029. I went through this list with a senior official on the flight over and we ended up filling every spot and ­ending with Sergio García in '29 by which time Sergio will be 49."

I think these people are taking their captaincy talk just a bit far, no?

Mark Garrod weighs the possibilities for both candidates and also lists the endorsement quotes for all of the candidates, including Dennis Kucinich Ian Woosnam.

...the Scot is the one widely expected to be named Ryder Cup captain for next year's match in Wales. Nobody was even guessing such a scenario just a couple of weeks ago.

Both men had expressed their desire to play next year and, if they had stuck to their guns on that, it was almost a given that Olazabal would be in charge in Chicago in 2012, while Montgomerie would lead Europe on home soil at Gleneagles in 2014 and 2010 might have gone to either Sandy Lyle or Ian Woosnam. But they have not stuck to their guns.

Lawrence Donegan reminds us that when you lock grown men in a room and call them a committee, just about anyone has a chance to be named captain.

George O'Grady, the chief executive of the European tour, thought carefully when asked to describe the tenor of debate during a meeting in Abu Dhabi of players and officials – a body formally known as the tournament players committee – two weeks ago to discuss the captaincy of Europe's Ryder Cup side for next year's contest against the United States in Wales.

"Statesmanlike," he said eventually. Two weeks later, not a lot can be said with certainty about the Abu Dhabi meeting but it is safe to say this: it was far from ­statesmanlike. One of those in attendance, a former Ryder Cup player, was overheard the day after telling colleagues it was a shouting match, while another described the experience of sitting in a basement room of a hotel, albeit the seven-star Emirates Palace hotel, for three hours debating the whys and wherefores of the 2010 Ryder Cup captaincy as "exhausting".

Mike Aitken makes a convincing case that the death of Sandy Lyle's bid rests on Nick Faldo's shoulders. Just one more reason the Masters Champions Dinner should be televised.

Karl McGinty believes we have Paul McGinley to thank...assuming Monty gets picked.

Steve Elling and Scott Michaux debate the logic behind each leading candidate.

And Tony Jimenez says it'll be a joint announcement with Monty and Ollie getting the next two jobs.


"It was just apathy out there."

Gary D’Amato analyzes the demise of U.S. Bank's role in the Milwaukee event and gets a pretty frank analysis from the bank's Bill Bertha.

"We're not blaming anybody," Bertha said. "Other companies didn't see the value of entertaining clients. No revenues were being generated above operating costs, other than what we were subsidizing.

"Nobody cared. A very good analogy is that we threw a multimillion-dollar party for Milwaukee and Wisconsin, in a park with tents, refreshments and entertainment - all the bells and whistles - and nobody showed up.

"It was just apathy out there."

Tournament officials do not release attendance figures, but the galleries were noticeably smaller in 2007 and '08 than they had been in previous years at Brown Deer Park, the host venue since 1994.

One reason is that the PGA Tour shifted the tournament dates in 2007 so that the Milwaukee event was played the same week as the British Open, a major championship televised by ABC.


R.I.P John Updike

Nice work by the USGA communications staff for posting the lone golf-driven obituary of the legendary writer, with a quote from David Fay and text of his 1994 address at the USGA Centennial dinner.

At they've posted a list of his contributions to various anthologies and Updike's USGA centennial essay "The Spirit of the Game."


Finally, A Reason To Play L.A.!

The chance to play Riviera before its George Thomas design is completely gone? That's nothing compared with the Northern Trust Open's new player perk for helping with those 90-minute drives back to the hotel room east of the course that you should never have booked.

Mercedes-Benz Named Official Car Sponsor of Northern Trust Open
Two-year agreement includes Mercedes-Benz 2010 GLK 350 as hole-in-one car at 14th hole

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif., January 27, 2009 – Mercedes-Benz has been named Official Car Sponsor of the Northern Trust Open. Under terms of the two-year agreement, Mercedes-Benz will provide a hole-in-one vehicle at the 14th hole each year and hand over the keys to a new Mercedes-Benz courtesy car for every player to drive during the tournament. For 2009 the all-new Mercedes-Benz 2010 GLK 350 will be the hole-in-one vehicle and the players will be driving Mercedes-Benz vehicles consisting of a variety of BlueTEC clean diesels, S-Class sedans, and GLK SUV’s.

“We are delighted to establish this partnership with Mercedes-Benz,” said Northern Trust Open Tournament Director Tom Pulchinski. “Mercedes-Benz has a wonderful reputation for building outstanding motor vehicles and its brand is a perfect fit with the rich history of the Northern Trust Open.”


Golf House Blues

I hate to overshadow the release of the USGA's annual report (kind of amazing to see those total liabilities and net assets down $101 million from last year). But after much contemplation and legal consultation (well, not really), I've decided to share the satirical newsletter that's been circulating around the USGA's cheery Golf House. Apparently the satire, sent to me anonymously, has not been appreciated by some in upper management (shock!) even though it could have been so much worse.

While much of the material is of the inside baseball variety, it speaks to the toxic environment created by the Walter Driver era. I doubt similar newsletters are floating around the PGA Tour, PGA of America or R&A. Then again, they probably don't have lifted-from-the-Goldman Sachs playbook initiatives named PAR...Proactive, Accessible, and Relevant.

Because it's a large document in small type, it's presented here in two windows. Click to enlarge:



U.S. Bank Is Out...

A shame for any number of reasons, but especially since it sounds like the bank had tried some innovative things to increase interest.