Thanks to reader Scott for catching Dave Andrews' nice bit of reporting on some Duramed Futures Tour players having almost no LPGA Tour status, despite tour press releases to the contrary.
What is the cry we hear today -- this or that is unfair! A golfer comes in from a round, and some bunker or green has spoiled his score, and he proceeds to damn the course and the whole world. And all this because he approaches golf selfishly, with such an exaggeration of ego that he is convinced he is not only equal to coping with nature, but that he should never be humbled by her. MAX BEHR
Thanks to reader Scott for catching Dave Andrews' nice bit of reporting on some Duramed Futures Tour players having almost no LPGA Tour status, despite tour press releases to the contrary.
While Ron Sirak attributes the emergence of teens Rory, Ryo and Danny to Tiger, John Huggan says their success at a young age may be thanks to equipment changes.
Such a phenomenon is relatively new in men's professional golf, certainly in terms of so many new and unshaven faces arriving at once. Where the women's game has long seen wee lassies in their mid-to-late teens capable of contending in the biggest events, it has traditionally taken longer for physically less mature laddies to achieve similar heights.
So it is that, where the separation between good and great used to have much to do with the aesthetically pleasing art form that was shot-making, today the game is more about raw power. Very early – much earlier than before – young players armed with the requisite talent and nerve to survive with the very best begin playing basically the same muscle-bound game favoured by their supposed superiors. Accompanied by squeals of anger and disappointment from purists everywhere, draw, fade and feather have been replaced by crash, bang and wallop.
Which is not to say that there is not a lot of fun to be had from watching this new generation of stars in action.
True, but will the quality of play ultimately be impacted the way a rush of youth in the NBA has affected play, or is this just a natural progression of the sport?
Not a huge shock here, but it looks like Stanford Financial has few assets to pay off investors or "Eagles for St. Jude."
Speaking of that program, it appears that primary sponsor Stanford has been erased from the program website already, even though it had been announced at one time. At least, I can't find their logo anywhere. Not counting Vijay's shirt (left).
John Maginnes weighs the pros and cons of the WGC match play's 36-hole final and can't find any good reasons to keep playing two rounds for the finale.
His piece appears on the Mothership's own website, so maybe this idea is gaining momentum? (Or, for conspiracy theorists, the decision has been made and the idea was merely started in Ponte Vedra and NBC...either way, Sunday semi's followed by an 18-hole final match would be a wise switch for everyone involved.)
I thought Geoff Ogilvy was kind (and insightful) on the subject of what appears to be another Jack Nicklaus design players don't care for. Geoff's typically original analysis:
Q. Tiger earlier in the week said these greens were quite severe. What's the difference between big curvaceous greens like these and big curvy greens like at Augusta National?
GEOFF OGILVY: The greens at Augusta look like they're supposed to -- they look like -- they look right. Most of them are built on the hill that they're on, their natural looking slopes, it doesn't look like people moved too much dirt to make those greens.
These ones look a little contrived. And they're a bit -- Augusta has the bigger sweeping kind of more natural looking hills. These ones have a few little steep things and such.
But it's probably almost genius greens. I mean, all the best golf courses in the world have really slopey greens. So you can see what he's trying to do. Greens are getting too flat probably because greens are getting too fast. You couldn't design Augusta right now, every player would walk off if we walked into Augusta the first time we had ever seen it, played a brand new golf course, we would all quit after nine holes. We would all say, "I can't play this, it's ridiculous."
So you feel for Jack a little bit because you're not allowed to do it any more. But they look -- I don't mind big slopes. I just don't -- they just don't look as natural as Oakmont or Saint Andrews or Augusta like the truly natural slopey ones.
So he's really saying that an architect can still pull off big, sloping greens if the contours are built properly.
Now, the three courses cited by Ogilvy all had one thing in common at the time of their creation: they were not constrained by USGA spec greens. Augusta has since gone to USGA greens and according to the people I trust who played them before and after, have lost a great deal of their character in the way of neat little bumps and rolls.
Not that this is a legitimate defense of poor green design, but it is something to keep in mind as the players pile on The Ritz Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain. (And if they were lukewarm while at the tournament, it only gets worse when they get off property! Playing PGA National this week won't help.)
After reading Steve Elling's lament of the match play format and its impact on attendance, the SI guys suggestion of Sunday morning semi's followed by a Sunday afternoon final really is a great idea.
Last year, Woods played in the Accenture final against fellow Ryder Cupper Stewart Cink and the day drew an announced crowd of 7,500 fans. The tour's turnstile count for Sunday's Casey-Ogilvy tilt was 6,270. Setting aside the meaningless consolation match, for fans, it's essentially an all-or-nothing proposition on Sundays. There are only two players to watch over the course of an entire day, whereas a stroke-play format would have 70 or more guys to eyeball on the weekend.
In match play Sunday, it's a pairing sheet -- as in singular.
The 6,000 are clogged up, all walking on the same hole or two, making sightlines more challenging, too. Match play is a square peg on a round golf hole. That's probably why it's best left for quirky events like the Ryder and Presidents cups. Once a year is plenty.
From Derek Lawrenson's WGC Match Play game story:
But all credit needs to be given to the prodigiously gifted Ogilvy, who had no bogeys and was 12 under for the holes played, a marvellous feat at the end of such a draining tournament.
From Helen Ross at PGATour.com:
Over Ogilvy's last 56 holes, the numbers were even more eye-popping with 22 birdies, two eagles and just one bogey. He mowed down Kevin Sutherland, Shingo Katayama, Camilo Villegas, Rory McIlroy, Stewart Cink and Casey as he ran his record to 17-2.
And PGATour.com breaks all of the numbers down here, including the scorecard.
In the latest edition of the weekly epic known as the SI Golf Plus/golf.com/Golf Magazine/Fortune/Time Inc/AOL "PGA Tour Confidential," the guys and gals kick around poor old Johnny Miller, who apparently had a big dinner date Saturday in Tucson that precluded him from staying on when coverage went to Golf Channel.
It seemed even more bizarre to me that the NBC lead man was trying so hard figure out why Jack Nicklaus scattered bunkers all over the Ritz Carlton GC at Dove Mountain's 4th fairway instead of pinching down the landing area like Johnny on his many wonderful, timeless designs.
After the SI gang seems to decide that the 36-hole final needs to go (I would agree, the morning 18 was the best part and only five spectators saw it), the group debates the merits of Johnny:
David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: Sorry, but I think a big part of the problem was not only 36 holes, but Johnny Miller too. It kills me to listen to him answer his own questions when he is tossing to Maltbie or Koch. He has opinions, and that's refreshing, but it's All Johnny, All The Time, and it gets old fast.
Gorant: Disagree. It's definitely Johnny and the Johnettes, but he still works for me. Koch on the other hand is not my favorite. Hate the "that's a good lesson for you folks at home" tips he's always throwing in. If you see it, describe it. If I can glean something from that, great; if not, OK, but stop talking down to me.
Hack: Johnny at least could have stuck around Saturday night when the golf ran long and NBC gave way to Golf Channel. Johnny was out of that booth at 6:01 p.m. Eastern.
Herre: I'm a Johnny guy. Even after 20 years, he has an unpolished quality that I like. You can tell he's going with the gut. Yes, Koch and Maltbie come off as sycophants, but I don't know if that's Johnny's fault.
For some reason I thought Johnny's lack of genuine passion for golf architecture really shined this week on a new course that needed explaining. One example: The ninth hole appeared to have a really neat bit of strategy where a safe drive left gave the players a blind second shot while a longer, riskier line opened up a view of the green. Nothing original mind you, but great to see Nicklaus at least trying to do something interesting. And Johnny just couldn't get past the blind second shot or the aforementioned swarm of bunkers on the par-4 4th, where Jack actually dared to break up the center line.
I'm not saying the holes worked, but at least there were signs Nicklaus was trying to do something that warranted further explanation beyond the required raves about a new place that players clearly didn't care for.
Having now committed The Haney Project with Charles Barkley spot that Golf Channel aired relentelessly over four days of the Accenture Match Play, I chuckled each time they mentioned "uncensored" and then bleeped out whatever obscenity came from Barkley's mouth.
Yet even after airing number 416, I still missed what a reader picked up when Barkley's driver head flies off and he utters the dreaded profanity: Golf Channel blurs out his headcover to protect the innocent maker of some crappily crafted $500 pile of junk!
A double censoring. But the show is uncensored!
And no, that is not a giant fingerprint on my widescreen:
Sporting a clean shaven face to the delight of the PGA Tour Fines and Overall Appearance staff which tired of writing Kapalua-week emails to the Australian, Geoff Ogilvy polished off the impressive but grooming-challenged Rory McIlroy in the morning's fourth round, then knocked off pace-of-play outlier Stewart Cink in the afternoon semi-final to setup a Sunday showdown with Paul Casey.
Doug Ferguson on the rather astounding match play records of both finalists:
A tournament that no longer has Tiger Woods instead has the best two golfers in match play over the last three years.
Ogilvy is 17-2 in match play dating to his 2006 victory at the Accenture Match Play Championship, the final year it was held at La Costa. That includes a singles victory in the Presidents Cup.
Casey is 16-3-1 in match play around the world, including his 2006 victory at the HSBC World Match Play Championship at Wentworth, when he never trailed over the final 71 holes of that event.
Bloomberg's Michael Buteau looked at golf fallout from the economic crisis and something tells me that this falls into the "needed to happen" category:
Maintenance crews at Atlanta Athletic, where golfing legend Bobby Jones grew up playing the game, will soon start cutting the fairways in a back-and-forth pattern, instead of the more decorative crisscross. The adjustment will save about 100 gallons of diesel fuel a month, or about $2,300 a year, said Ken Mangum, the grounds superintendent.
“You’re looking at every little thing you can to save a dollar,” Mangum said. Fewer flowers will be planted, something “spoiled” golfers will have to get used to, he said.
The WSJ's John Paul Newport on the PGA Tour sponsorship issues from this week:
Golf, with its traditional fat-cat image, is an easy target for abuse, some of it deserved. I'm one who has long believed the game skews too fancy for its own good. But the trouble with this week's rabble-rousing, apart from whatever damage it does to the effective business practices of banks and other troubled companies, such as the automakers, is the chill it casts over the entire microeconomy of golf, and of sports in general.
A few weeks ago I wrote about how the drying up of corporate outings to golf resorts, mostly for fear of projecting the wrong image in the current economic environment, was creating travel bargains for the rest of us. But it is also devastating the golf resort and hospitality industry. The same holds true for the drying up of client entertainment at golf and other sports events.
"It's not the clients and company executives who suffer if companies cancel their events. They'll find other fun things to do that weekend. It's the 20 guys who valet-park cars for minimum wage plus tips, the 15 cooks in the kitchen, the six dishwashers, the rigging guys who put up the stage, the housekeepers who make up the hotel rooms where people stay," said David Israel, a TV producer who is involved in the sports economy as vice chairman of the California Horse Racing Commission and past president of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission.
"It seems to me that if the goal is to get the financial system working normally again, you've got to let businesses do what they know how to do best to make money," Mr. Israel said.
Tom Petruno reports that Northern Trust is laying the ground work to possibly pay back their TARP money and to quiet their critics.
The bank hasn't said so directly, but it most likely didn't need the capital infusion, and went along with it because the government wanted participation by healthy and unhealthy banks alike.
In his letter to Frank, Waddell said: "We understand this is a time of great anxiety and financial distress, and your question regarding our support of an event such as the Northern Trust Open is legitimate.
"We deeply regret that some of the events associated with the Northern Trust Open have distracted from the positive nature of an event that has raised more than $50 million for charity since its inception."
As for repaying the $1.6 billion, which now is earning a 5% annual dividend yield for the Treasury, it isn't clear how easy that will be.
One key question is whether the government will require the bank to raise the same amount in private capital to replace the federal money, a task that could take some time.
Meanwhile SportsMediaWatch reports that the Northern Trust Open was the highest rated golf broadcast since the 2008 U.S. Open.
Highest rated golf events since Tiger Woods' injury.
3.3: Northern Trust Open, Final Round (Sun., 2/22/09, 3 PM CBS)
3.3: British Open, Final Round (Sun., 7/20/08, 8 AM ABC)
2.9: Ryder Cup, Singles Matches (Sun., 9/21/08, 12:30 PM NBC)
2.8: PGA Championship, Final Round (Sun., 8/10/08, 2:30 PM CBS)
2.4: British Open, Third Round (Sat., 7/19/08, 9 AM ABC)
2.4: Ryder Cup, Foursomes/Fourball Matches (Sat., 9/20/08, 9:30 AM NBC)
I can't wait to read the "vagaries" of match play excuses for the latest example of American inferiority at the WGC (well, Phil and Tiger losing before the weekend...here here for Sean, Justin and Stewart!). So far the coverage has focused on Rory McIlroy and his match-up with Geoff Ogilvy Saturday morning.
Lawrence Donegan shares this observation from Ernie Els:
"You are probably looking at the next world No1," said Els when asked to assess McIlroy. He should know what is required to climb the summit, having spent a lifetime in pursuit of the game's ultimate accolade.
And this on the American performance:
Even the American audience, dazed that Woods is no longer among them, was forced to take notice of McIlroy's achievement and it says something of his impact on this side of the Atlantic that he featured prominently during American television coverage of yesterday's play.
American attention was tweaked, too, by the efforts of a quartet of English players on the other side of the draw. "British No-Names Take Course By Storm" declared the morning edition of the local newspaper in Tucson. It was not exactly complimentary, and by the close of play last night it was not entirely accurate.
Of the four, Ross Fisher, who defeated Jim Furyk 4&3, and Paul Casey, who edged out Peter Hanson by a margin of 3&2, progressed into today's quarter- finals, while Ian Poulter went down to Sean O'Hair and Oliver Wilson finally fell to Justin Leonard at the first extra hole. Not so much a British storm, more of a stiff English breeze.
Brian Keogh looks at the handling of Rory McIlroy by agent Chubby Chandler and it's a distinctly un-American way of handling a career, reason #451 that Americans are falling behind the rest of the world.
Determined to treat his new talent with kid gloves, the Englishman has decided that there will be no sponsorship overkill just yet and no move to the PGA Tour either as they eye the golf explosion in Asia and the global attraction of a world schedule that combines the best of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai with the majors and World Golf Championships.
“There’s absolutely no point in him taking out his PGA Tour card,” Chandler said before the start of yesterday’s third round. “Suddenly he has got to play 15 tournaments. Suddenly they start dictating to you.
“Rory’s going to be young for a while yet and he’s going to want to go home and have a bit of time out with his pals. The money’s not an issue. I said to him last night. ‘For me with you there’s a totally different set of rules than there is with anybody else because we’ve got time.’
“I’ve got a couple of deals in the pipeline but we’ve just sort of said ‘yeah we’re interested but we’re all right’ because he doesn’t need more company days, he doesn’t need more commitments, he just wants to play golf.”
Wells Fargo guy on the event formerly known as the Wachovia Championship: “Promoting this event with our brand could send mixed signals about our priorities to many of our stakeholders," which, after run through the MBA Jargonometer, means, "We aren't going to become the next Northern Trust.
First reported by Sports Business Daily and fleshed out by several including Bloomberg's Ari Levy and David Mildenberg, we see the first PGA Tour event going retro. Presenting, the Quail Hollow Championship.
Wells Fargo Chief Executive Officer John Stumpf and Chairman Richard Kovacevich are among executives who won’t receive bonuses for 2008 because Wells Fargo didn’t meet its performance goals, the bank said today in a regulatory filing. Separately, Wells Fargo changed the name of the Wachovia Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina, to the Quail Hollow Championship and said it won’t host client events tied to the tournament. Wells Fargo acquired Charlotte-based Wachovia in December.
“Anyone who is taking any type of TARP money is going to have a harder time sponsoring these kinds of events,” said David Lykken, a consultant at Mortgage Banking Solutions in Austin, Texas. “These are legacy ventures.”
And the spin...
“Promoting this event with our brand could send mixed signals about our priorities to many of our stakeholders,” said David Carroll, a Wells Fargo executive, in a statement.
Wachovia renewed its contract with the PGA in 2008 and extended it through 2014. Wells Fargo still plans to honor sponsorship obligations and hasn’t determined what the tournament will be named in future years, spokeswoman Mary Beth Navarro said in an interview.
Ron Green Jr. quotes the club president and tournament director:
“All of us involved with the tournament have enjoyed the last six years and are looking forward to doing something very special with the tournament over the next six years,” Quail Hollow Club president Johnny Harris said.
“We have been working diligently to do what is necessary to produce the premier stop on the PGA Tour and we feel strongly this will do nothing but strengthen the golf experience for our players and patrons.”
Is that a nice way of saying people really don't like to see corporate logos everywhere?
And this is beautiful...
“This clarifies a lot for us,” Hougham said. “Now there is a name that can stay on the tournament for the next six years. We’ll work with the bank after this year’s event and we hope they stay involved.
“With the new name, it gives us a solid brand to build on for the future, just like we built the old brand.”
Oh yes, this is prime branding 101 textbook stuff!
From Diane Pucin's media column in the L.A. Times:
Tiger Woods is out in the second round of the Accenture Match Play Championship, beaten Thursday by South Africa's Tim Clark. That means Woods won't be playing Saturday and Sunday during live network television coverage of the event, but he'll still be prominent on NBC.
"We'll have to deal with showing what happened to Tiger because this has gone from being a golf tournament to a news event," NBC golf producer Tommy Roy said. "Our weekend telecast will have to deal with showing what happened to Tiger. It will be our duty."
Isn't it wonderful seeing everyone get along, and more importantly, sticking up for the PGA Tour as a viable and reasonable marketing tool. Well, until it has to stick up for itself.
John Powers says Northern Trust should give back the TARP money and keep on sponsoring golf tournaments.
Garry Smits takes Maureen Dowd and TMZ to task for stretching key facts and writes that TMZ should have stuck to what it knows -- Jessica Simpson's weight or whether Jennifer Anniston still pines away for Brad.
Andrew Malcolm says a conservative watchdog group wants to know more about the relationship between Northern Trust and the Obama's.
That there is much reform needed in the U.S. economy seems to be indisputable. The business practices of the financial services industry, in particular, need serious scrutiny. No one can argue with that. But the scope of the problem extends well beyond professional golf tournaments and entertaining at those events. To rip golf is an ill-informed, easy way out -- a smokescreen retarding real reform.
What seems to be happening is that golf has become a convenient scapegoat for frustrated pundits and politicians who rely on the fact that an ill-informed public can be manipulated. Golf is not the enemy here, nor is the PGA Tour. The sport, in fact, is an extremely effective and cost-efficient marketing tool.
It's good to know the R&A is on top of things, as always. Mike Aitken fills us in on Peter Dawson's dire warning:
"I don't think we've seen the bottom of this and I don't think anyone is immune," said Dawson. "I'm no economic forecaster, but it's hard to see the situation turning around quickly. There may be quite a way to go.
"I think people who are members of golf clubs will be thinking twice about their subscriptions. Like everything else which is discretionary (spending], people will ask, 'Do I need to buy a new driver this year?' All these things will contract."
I tell ya, he is a visionary.
Aitken also files this piece on the state of club golf in Scotland, where memberships are not being renewed at a disturbing pace.
Golf Channel reconsiders Friday telecast; Johnny Miller's jet turned around midway from NorCal after Tommy Roy sends him home; Airlines say re-booking fees may first quarter earnings
Seriously, it will be fun to see how many scribblers are fleeing Tucson now that the most anticipated comeback in PGA Tour history is history?
And the dream matchup with Rory? And Phil soon after that? It's match play's fault!
Steve Elling writes:
Given his early departure, the temptation for some will be to exaggerate the gravity of Woods' early defeat, but given the layoff and the caprices of the match-play format, that would be a bit premature and reckless. While he was hardly in vintage form, he made it through the two days without any issues with his knee, which is more important in the grand scheme of things heading into Augusta.