I asked Normoyle to explain Darwin's continued appeal. "I think it lies in his influence," he replied. "What Herb [Wind] said at the end of his profile in The New Yorker was that he thought Darwin knew more about golf than just about anyone, that he was able to get to the soul of the game that golfers experienced, to identify things that people will take for granted about the game. Peter Ryde [Darwin's successor on The Times] said Darwin's thoughts were held to the glare of daily journalism because he wrote for 50 years and he had to come up with a topic other than how to make three-foot putts. I think Darwin's appeal was a little of both.
"To me Darwin was to journalism what Arnold Palmer was to golf on television," Normoyle continued. "He was the right person in the right place at the right time. In The Times and in Country Life he had educated, interested and sophisticated readers who were willing to take the time to read a Darwin essay. They would understand the cultural references and literary allusions to Sam Weller and Pickwick and Holmes.....and if you knew all these things and you saw them applied to a game of golf then you had a connection to that game that you never had before.
"I think the internet would have been good for him. On the internet you are not confined by space and if he wanted to be indulgent then he could be. If he wanted to create a following of people who wanted long, florid essays full of wit and reverence, he could find the space.
"Darwin would hate modern golf because it is all professional. He would deal with the pseudo amateurs of today who are just training ground professionals. I think he would still enjoy the Walker Cup. I think he would be appalled by the standard of golf at the University matches, including my own. I don't think he saw himself as a writer. I think he saw himself as a member of the golf fraternity who happened to write about golf for a living. He was not an ink-stained wretch. He took a great deal of pride in not understanding the ongoings of Fleet Street and the workings of Printing House Square [where The Times was printed]. But were he around today then I think he would take comfort in the fact that in the world of golf there are still places where fireplaces are welcome and where tea is on the menu."
There has been criticism that some professional golfers do not know how to teach. In defense of my competent colleagues in professional golf, I must point out that many pupils don't know how to take a lesson.
Freak setup week continues, first with Larry Dorman reporting on Muirfield Village's greens reaching speeds that have even the PGA Tour's finest in shock.
“Mind-boggling fast,” Joe Ogilvie said after his round of 69. “Maybe 15 on the Stimpmeter.”
“Probably the fastest greens we have played in a long time,” Sergio García said after a 72.
“The greens are so fast you can’t believe it,” Brett Quigley, in the field as the second alternate, added after his round of 67.
Ogilvie was moved to come up with an unusually creative visual image: “You know how dogs will never step on a glass surface because they know they’ll slip?” he said. “Well, if you unleashed a thousand dogs by the 18th green, none would walk on it. They’d all go around it.”
Thanks to reader Rob for noticing this Stan Awtrey piece on Georgia's play at the NCAA Men's Championships, which, when you throw in a coach named Haack and injuries from rough, reads like somethign out of a Jenkins novel.
Georgia did it with a short-handed strategy — Haack called it "a four-legged team" — made necessary after freshman Harris English experienced his worst day of the season. English had two double bogeys and a quadruple bogey en route to a 10-over 46 on his front nine. He finished with an 86."But he can come out and bounce back," Haack said. "Anything can happen."
That's not just Haack-speak, either; English opened with a team-high 74 at the East Regional but rebounded with a 65.
Swafford had a team-best 73, leaving him tied for seventh overall, after making bogeys on the final two holes. But the sophomore birdied the two most difficult holes on the course and nearly holed out for an eagle at No. 18, his ninth hole.
"I just tried to be patient and hit it in the center area," said Swafford, who was wearing a brace on his right ankle, a result of stepping in a rough-disguised hole during Monday's practice round. "I think I can build on it. Eliminate two shots, and I'm under par."
From Rex Hoggard on the Golfweek Tour blog:
Brett Quigley called it “doomsday.” Others had less-than-printable monikers for Jack Nicklaus’ Muirfield Village.
Shaun Micheel was the first victim of greens some players estimate are rolling at 15 on the Stimpmeter. The former PGA champion hit his approach 57 feet past the hole at the par-4 18th. His birdie putt stopped rolling 46 yards down the fairway and Micheel signed for a double bogey-6.
Not long after Micheel’s odyssey, Justin Bolli fired his approach about 50 feet past the hole and raced his first putt to almost the same spot in the fairway. Bolli added to his woes when his chip from 45 yards stopped short of the pin and spun back down the fairway. Bolli finally two-putted for a triple bogey-7.
“It’s ridiculous,” hissed one player as he walked out of the scoring hut. “You turn a great golf course into a piece of (crap) by making the greens too fast.”
A few interesting snippets from Phil Mickelson's pre-Memorial press conference:
Q. What sense did you get about the rough out there? Any different here than in the past years?On Torrey Pines...
PHIL MICKELSON: It's very long and thick. I'm not a big fan of that. I like what we had last week where if you hit it in the rough you have to take some chances. I think the recovery shot's the most exciting shot in golf. And you have a lot of that at Augusta. You have a lot of that here. We had it at Wachovia where they cut the rough down a little bit just off the fairways so you could hit some recovery shots. That's not the case here. It's wedge-out rough. I'm not a big fan of that. But it is what it is.
Q. Have you thought or heard about the idea of moving 14 up as a drivable par-4?
PHIL MICKELSON: I've read what you guys have talked about. You actually would know better than I would. They would, nobody would tell me what, hey, hey, come hit up here. That wouldn't happen.
Q. What do you think of that?
PHIL MICKELSON: I looked at it. I think it would be cool. There aren't any fun holes there. They're all just long beasts. And to have a fun hole would be fun. I mean it would be cool. It would mix it up a little bit.
The problem with doing it on 14 is, 13's a reachable par-5, if they play the normal tee and you have two birdie holes back to back. I think in a U.S. Open that's not favored.
And this bodes well for a full playoff run by Phil...
Q. You mentioned that you were in New jersey yesterday, can you talk about I think you were at Ridgewood. Can you talk about that since it's going to be a TOUR venue?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I played where we're going to play the Barclays the first FedExCup series events and I think it's a wonderful golf course. It's a Tillinghast design which I'm biased to and it had a lot of same looks a Baltusrol and Winged Foot has and I think the players are going to love it. It's one of the premier courses in the land. It's spectacular.
They held the Ryder Cup there in I think '35 and it's, they have converted a few par-5s, they have integrated from the three nines that they have 18 holes there. They have taken two par-5s, turned them into par-4s, and so the course will play long at 73 plus hundred yards, par 71. It's going to play long and difficult.
Wait, he's sponsored by Barclay's and it's the Barc...ignore me, just typing out loud.
Golf Digest's Matt Ginella, apparently not aware that mini-tour pros live on a tight budget, kicks off his interview of Tadd Fujikawa with a grand question...
Where are you now?
In a hotel room on Sea Island in Georgia.
Are you staying at the Lodge or the Cloister?
Oh, no--I wish. [Laughs.] I'm staying at a Quality Inn place.
"Google 'Olympics' and 'Rogge' and the search engine spits out pages of the kind of bad press golf has so successfully avoided."
In the mean time, golf’s powers may want to convince the game’s rank and file of the benefits of golf in the Olympics.
“Golf may already have enough big events with the PGA Tour and the majors and the European Tour and the Ryder Cup,” Stewart Cink said. “I’m just not sold.”
The Tour season begins and ends with the majors, despite the best efforts of FedEx or Finchem. Toss in the Ryder Cup, which hasn’t smiled on the New World side for a generation, and Presidents Cup, which hasn’t smiled on the rest of Atlas over a similar news cycle, and you have a dance card on the busy side of hectic.
“We play over 36 events a year. How many times do you see ice skating, figure skating, speed skating, track and field on TV in a year?” Jason Gore asked. “We get a chance to show our stuff every week.”
The timing of the games would probably be the biggest hurdle faced by Olympic organizers considering this year’s games get underway on the heels of the year’s final major and just before the FedEx Cup playoffs in August.
“If it was in China or some place right in the middle of the season, I’m not sure I’d go play in it,” Cink said.
Golf’s Olympic trump card is Tiger Woods, perhaps the most marketable athlete of his generation. But in 2016 Woods will be 40 years old, maybe four or five Grand Slam keepsakes past Jack Nicklaus on the all-time list and, by all current accounts, working on his fifth swing change and 10 more majors. However, nowhere on the bedroom wall in the childhood home in Cypress, Calif., did Woods hang Greg Louganis’ gold medal totals.
“If you spend a lot of time and resources getting golf into the Olympics and suddenly one or two players don’t play . . . I don’t know. There are a lot of really big tournaments already. Would the Olympics become a major right away?” Cink asked.
Gaining a spot in the Olympic Games is seen by many as the best way to grow the game. But at what cost?
Google “Olympics” and “Rogge” and the search engine spits out pages of the kind of bad press golf has so successfully avoided.
That's the day one scoring average at the men's NCAA's.
This who midwest values hard-is-good thing is really getting old. Ron Balicki reports here for Golfweek and Ryan Herrington here for Golf World where he notes that the USC-UCLA battle at the top is repeating what happened in the women's final and is making southern California the epicenter of college golf.
Good crops this year in the midwest it seems.
AP's Rusty Miller has the lowdown on Muirfield Village's fresh crop, which Jack Nicklaus says is the same as last year but which players say is more brutal than ever. Wait, let me run to set my TiVo, you know how I love to watch guys chop out.
Meanwhile Ryan Herrington reports that Purdue’s "magnificently maniacal" Kampen Course, which I thought was supposed to be this super environmentally sensitive organic laboratory is spruiced up with a 3 1/2 inch first cut of rough, followed by a 5 inch layer for this week's NCAA Men's Championship.
“They do so many good things. It’s just the one thing they aren’t having success at is controlling the length of the golf ball.”
Jack Nicklaus weighed in on several topics during his Memorial Tuesday chat with the media, ranging from Boo Weekley to furrowed bunkers to the golf ball. For a summary of his lengthy Ryder Cup dialogue, check out Steve Elling's blog summation. Elling also offered this overview of the press conference if you don't want to read the entire transcript. Mark Soltau summarizes a Jack anecdote related to Tiger's decision not to play (it doesn't sound great with his knee) and also on the topic of thank-you cards from players.
And separate of his press conference, Nicklaus offered this to Doug Ferguson in response to a question about his support of the USGA's new deal with RBS.
Jack Nicklaus has been barking about technology for at least a decade, with seemingly no help from the USGA. But he took part in an announcement earlier this month when golf’s governing body in the United States and Mexico announced it had signed its fourth corporate partner in the last 18 months.
He was asked about any perception that the USGA is more interested in getting corporate support than governing the game.
“I wish I had a good answer to that,” Nicklaus replied. “I haven’t had a good answer from the USGA on it. I think their heart is in the right place. I don’t think they’re trying to avoid being a good steward to the game. They’re probably between a rock and a hard place.
“Their efforts in the grassroots of the game, being involved in youth, certainly has been good,” he said. “They do so many good things. It’s just the one thing they aren’t having success at is controlling the length of the golf ball.”
Okay, now the highlights from the press conference.
Q. Furrowed bunkers again this year?
JACK NICKLAUS: We went to about halfway between what we were. I think that the first year we probably were a little severe. Probably the second year we were probably too light and this year we're somewhere in the middle. It's about the same exact same thing that basically I was at Birkdale last week and the rakes are almost identical to Birkdale. So I think it's pretty much the standard rake. It's just not a smooth surface.
And the intention is, as I've said in here many times, the intention is not to make it a penalty, but to have it in a player's mind that it could be a penalty. And so if you're going to hit the ball, you got to challenge a bunker and you're going to say, you know, well, if I hit in there what difference does it make, I'm just going to take my whatever club it is and knock it out and knock it on the green. The players don't worry about it.
But if you got it where you might not get a perfect lie -- and you can get a good lie in the bunkers the way we got them, but you can get a bad lie. And if that's the case, then you're going to think about whether you want to really challenge that bunker in a way that you wouldn't even consider. So it's just forcing the players to strategize, to play the strategy of the golf course.
I came up with it, the reason I did it was we just kept changing bunkers and lowering them and it didn't make that much difference. I always go through what they did at the Masters and there's two bunkers at the fifth hole at the Masters and, you know, you can't hardly shoot a gun out of them over the top, but -- they're so deep. And but Hootie saw that and didn't know if they could get out. And I said, Hootie, I promise you they're going to get out. There will be no problems. The first round Mickelson knocked it in the bunkers, knocked a 9-iron out of the bunker onto the green and made birdie. End of question there, end of subject.
So if you keep taking the bunkers and keep doing things to them, you just are destroying your membership. The membership can't play out of those bunkers. The membership is having a hard time playing, a hard time playing out of a lot of them over here. So I said basically let's not make the bunkers any tougher. Just one week a year rough it up a little bit. They call it rough raking it. And that's what we have done and that's -- I don't think they will find it to be much of a deal.
It certainly will not be a big deal around the greens. That's not where they have to worry. It's more in the fairways, because the fairway bunkers here have always been fairly easy to play out of because the guys will take whatever club they need and just pop it out of them because we just have them so perfect. And we'll just sort of rough rake them a little bit.
I loved this question. Now if we could just get Jack and the field staff on the same page!
Q. You talked about 14, a couple weeks ago about practicing, preparing your driving for the U.S. Open there. Have you ever thought about maybe one day during the tournament moving it up, moving the tee up just a little bit to put the thought in their head to give it a crack?
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't control the tees. The tees are controlled by the TOUR. Would I object to it if they put it up? Probably wouldn't if we would talk about it ahead of time so I could prepare the hole so it would play for that, as far as the occasional guy who stands back and whacks it today, but I haven't really -- I really haven't prepared and thought a whole lot about the second shot, that landing area up there as relates to receiving a tee shot. And I would bet there are going to be 10 players this week who will take a run at that. If they do, then I probably will prepare the fairway a little differently and probably -- meaning would I probably eliminate any rough that comes along the edge of it. So if you're going to take a run at it and you don't hit it where you're supposed to, you're probably going to get a little bit more -- the water will come into play a little bit more. But it's never been a big issue yet. But that would be what we would probably do.
I went out there, I used to practice from the ladies' tee and it was a perfect tee shot practice for me because it was left-to-right slope hitting up the left edge, and sort of working the ball I could run it up into the green there. And I thought that was good practice. And the guys today, I mean, you know, they could go back on 13 fairway and drive it up there they hit the ball so far today.
And the proverbial technology talk turned interesting when it came to Augusta National.
Q. You were talking about equipment.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well surprise there.
We talk about the game has changed tremendously because of equipment and I think largely the golf ball. And yet we're asked to play the same golf courses.
So I mean obviously if the golf ball goes further and equipment hits the ball straighter, and the guys are bigger, all those combinations would only, common sense would say, duh, scores are going to be lower.
Well, okay. But then you take the golf courses and we keep changing them and changing them and changing them and spend millions of dollars to protect almighty par. Is that really the right thing to do? I think that we're trying to, we try to take today's golf courses and make them -- we take equipment, which has no relevance whatsoever to the equipment that I played or we played versus what Jones played. Yet we want to make the golf course play, to be relevant. Does that make sense?
I mean why would you want to take -- I mean it's a different game, it's different equipment. Why would you worry about that it's relevant? Though we spend millions of dollars trying to make it so. And so that doesn't make a lot of sense.
Augusta is the perfect example. I think Augusta is a, to what it is right now, frankly, I think it's a great golf course. And I think what they have done to it is what they had to do to it if they wanted to protect par. Would Bobby Jones have liked that? Probably not. His philosophy was very much the St. Andrews philosophy. And that's wide fairways, second shot golf, put the ball in the right position, you got the right angle to the hole. You do that, you take advantage of the golf course and you can score it. Okay. Well obviously with today's equipment you just take a golf course apart.
But they have changed the golf course and probably rightly so. I have two thoughts on it. Rightly so. They changed the golf course to fit today's game. But they have taken the golf course away from Jones' philosophy of what the game was to him.
So you got two things happening there. Which do you protect? And they could have had the -- they're the only place that had the option probably to say, okay, we can do, take the golf ball and make them play a certain golf ball there. And they could have gotten away with that.
But I think they did the right thing there again, as I said to you before, in not putting themselves above the game. So I don't know what the answer really is. What was your question? Was that your question?
Nicklaus made similar complimentary comments regarding ANGC to ESPN.com's Jason Sobel in this interview. Well, complimentary if you read it a certain way!
"The time she is going to spend with her child and her family, I don't ever see her ever wanting to come back to the game of golf in that capacity."
A couple of highlights from Tiger's press conference to promote the AT&T National at Congressional.
On Torrey Pines No. 14 possibly moving up as a drivable par-4:
Q. As far as Torrey Pines goes, one of the finishing holes and one of the longer par 4s was a drivable par 4?
TIGER WOODS: I heard the same thing. On 14?
Q. Wonder what your thoughts were on the USGA kind of taking that strategy? Thinking you like the short drivable par 4s. (Indiscernible).
TIGER WOODS: I thought that was very strange as well because they lengthened 14 quite a bit the last three designs. It's been -- generally I've played (indiscernible). It's been a 3-wood and a 7-iron to a 9-iron. But I should have it drivable. Never would have foreseen the USGA doing that.
But then again, that hole, if you landed the ball on the green, you know it will be a little back. I don't know if they made -- if they will keep that as a hazard or whether that's just the unplayable-wise or whatever it may be. I don't know what they are going to do with that.
When I get there -- obviously when you get there, you check it out in the practice rounds and figure out a game plan.
TIGER WOODS: Very surprising. Very surprising. I am glad they took one of our par 5s away, so I guess I don't feel guilty.
And does Tiger know something about Annika that we don't?
Q. What was your reaction when you heard Annika, that she would retire at the end of the season? And have you spoken with her since then? And, if so, what have you spoken about?
TIGER WOODS: I knew that was going to happen. She's done it all. She's been through it all. For men and women, it is two totally different things. Who knows, she might come back or not. I doubt it. I don't see Annika ever doing anything half-ass. The time she is going to spend with her child and her family, I don't ever see her ever wanting to come back to the game of golf in that capacity. What it takes to do that, I don't foresee her doing it. We talked quite a bit after that.
I just -- I'm very happy for her. She sounds happy, very at peace with what she's done and what she's said.
Jon Show reports that the LPGA is pitching a new network TV package of events that might replace the ADT Championship series.
Plans call for a competition series that would exist within the LPGA’s seasonlong calendar of events. The series would consist of eight events, likely including at least one major and one event outside the United States. Players would qualify for a championship event based on their performance in the series.
That championship could be a new tournament scheduled during the first quarter of each year as a lead-in to the LPGA season. Sources said the weekend before the Super Bowl was being considered.
The LPGA-owned ADT Championship could be brought into the fold if the tour decides to scrap the current seasonlong qualifying system that culminates with the season-ending event. ADT’s title sponsorship expires after this year’s event.
NBC and CBS met with the LPGA two weeks ago to discuss the package, which could be split among the two networks. Both already air LPGA events.
Jon Miller, NBC Sports senior vice president of programming, called the package “intriguing.” CBS did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
The New York Times led Monday's edition with this Stephanie Strom story on tax-exempt non-profits facing greater scrutiny all over the country. There was no mention of the USGA or PGA Tour, but I suspect they noticed the story in Far Hills and Ponte Vedra.
Authorities from the local tax assessor to members of Congress are increasingly challenging the tax-exempt status of nonprofit institutions — ranging from small group homes to wealthy universities — questioning whether they deserve special treatment.
One issue is the growing confusion over what constitutes a charity at a time when nonprofit groups look more like businesses, charging fees and selling products and services to raise money, and state and local governments are under financial pressure because of lower tax revenues.
Leonard Shapiro pens an update on the rebranded, rebuilt and re-something'd TPC Potomac at Avenel Farms.
PGA Tour officials say they are putting no pressure on Woods to hold his tournament at their golf course, which is scheduled to reopen in November with a new look as well as a new name, TPC Potomac at Avenel Farms. But after investing so much in the renovation, the tour clearly has high-level tournament golf very much in mind.
According to sources granted anonymity because no plans have been set, the tour also is exploring the possibility of conducting the Senior Players Championship, one of four majors on the Champions Tour, at the newly configured course.
Hey, aren't there five senior majors? Or is it six?
That tournament, usually scheduled in the fall, has a contract to play at Baltimore Country Club/Five Farms in Timonium, Md., through 2010, about the same time TPC Potomac should have matured enough for tournament play. But the tour knows a senior major championship in the nation's capital likely would draw bigger crowds and more media coverage.Massive crowds!
David Pillsbury, president of PGA Tour Golf Properties, said that neither he nor the tour is focused on the possibility of Woods's tournament, or any other event, being played at the newly upgraded course.
"We know we're not the ones who will say this is now an 'A' facility," Pillsbury said. "It's not for us to say. It's the players who will tell us. We've tried to take this piece of land and make the best possible golf course we can build and let the golfers decide and tell us how we did. At the end of the day, we'll let the course speak for itself."
I'm disappointed David, I had my MBA bingo board ready to go.
The tour officially will announce the facility's name change this week, emphasizing a new beginning for a previously maligned venue.
Oh good, a press release explaining the rebranding of a once-hated TPC. That's a doublespeak special. I spoke too soon.
Thanks to reader Tony for this Nation piece by Dave Zirin on the possible conflicts with the Tiger Woods Foundation signing up Chevron for five years as sponsor of the December event at Sherwood.
"Chevron has a track record and a commitment to bettering the communities where they operate," Woods said in a press release on April 3. And Chevron's executive vice president chimed in, "Chevron, Tiger and the Tiger Woods Foundation share similar values...as well as a deep commitment to make a difference in local communities."
They have certainly "made a difference in local communities," but it's nothing they should be bragging about, and certainly nothing with which Woods should want his name attached. Chevron is in full partnership with the Burmese military regime on the Yadana gas pipeline project, the single greatest source of revenue for the military, estimated at nearly $1 billion in 2007, nearly half of all the country's revenue. These are the same people who are blocking international aid workers from assisting the victims of Cyclone Nargis. The death toll has been estimated at 78,000, but this number can explode as disease spreads and help isn't allowed through the military lines. Even the US State Department has called the actions of the government "appalling."
Ka Hsaw Wa, co-founder and executive director of EarthRights International, wrote in an open letter to Woods, "I myself have spoken to victims of forced labor, rape, and torture on Chevron's pipeline--if you heard what they said to me, you too would understand how their tragic stories stand in stark contrast to Chevron's rhetoric about helping communities." ERI's request to meet with Woods or someone from the foundation has been met with silence
But while the Burmese junta's crimes are localized in Southeast Asia, Chevron is global. Lawsuits have been issued against Chevron's toxic waste dumping in Alaska, Canada, Angola, California. Then there's the matter of 18 billion gallons of toxic waste the company has been accused of dumping in the Amazon.
In a US District Court in San Francisco, the case of Bowoto v. Chevron, Nigerian plaintiffs have accused Chevron of actually arming and outfitting Nigerian oil security forces to shoot and kill protesters. Judge Susan Illston has refused to dismiss the case because, as Democracy Now! recently reported, "evidence show[s] direct links to Chevron officials."
I wonder if the combination of animosity toward oil companies combined with the deterioraring situation in Burma, and Laura Bush taking it on as a virutal crusade, will send this story onto mainstream media coverage radars at some point?
We learned last week that Tim Finchem let USGA-Executive-Director-in-hiding David Fay and LPGA Commish Carolyn Bivens inside his PGA Tour jet for the low cost, minimal upside trip to Europe to pitch the IOC on the ridiculous notion of golf in the Olympics. I'm sure the PGA Tour's rank and file would be thrilled to see the price tag for this pricey little excursion.
The jet took on extra weight with PGA Tour's Ed Moorhouse and after a stop in London, Euro Tour headman George O'Grady, who joined the braintrust for the final leg to Lausanne, Switzerland.
My NSA sources were able to intercept Blackberry messages sent by three of the passengers after stepping down in Lausanne, starting with Bivens writing to top lieutenant Jane Geddes.
Greetings from Lausanne by way of London by way of Daytona and Teeterboro!!! We just touched down in the tour jet. What a cool ride. Thankfully we had George O'Grady to liven things up on the flight from London to Lausanne. It was just Tim, Fay and Ed Moorhouse on the first leg of the journey. Tim and Ed pretended to fall asleep about an hour into the flight, but I know they were awake because Ed kept kicking Tim's seat every time Fay mentioned the Yankees. Which reminds me, could you look up who this Joba guy is that Fay kept talking about needing to come off the DL? Is this a Star Wars reference I didn't understand?
PS - how did Corning go, are they going to bump up their purse or are we going to have find another sponsor willing to pay full market value?
PGA Tour Commish Finchem wrote to VP of International Affairs, Ty Votaw.
Be grateful you didn't make this trip, even though the bottle of PGA TOUR cab we opened is just stunning. Nice sunny, smoky flavor, probably from the California wildfires? And please thank Chef for the cheese production, very appropriate selection with the cab. Hope the Corning HOF induction ceremony went well. Ed and I got some much needed rest on the flight over. Not much in the way of coterminous interfacing with our guests. Bivens and Fay looked lost when I suggested ways of monetizing and value modulating the Olympic movement. I finally had to take a nap when Fay kept reminding me that he'd love to run the Olympic golf federation if we are successful. I explained that we need to get golf in the games first, then we would codify the resource structuring.
Ed sends his best,
And David Fay wrote to USGA CBO Pete Bevacqua, who apparently has created some fascinating new rules for staff.
Just arrived in Lausanne. Even though this wasn't an official USGA function, I only had two drinks on the flight over from Teeterboro per the new company policy. That okay? Or does the two drink max not apply to me and the XC? Either way it was fine, Tim opened a bottle of the PGA Tour's new cab and it tasted like the fire hydrant runoff from a building fire on the upper eastside. I had to talk to Bivens most of the way. She tried to convince me we needed to hire her branding firm for this Olympic golf movement. She talks about branding more than you do. As I explained to you, President Rogge would not be interested in that at his point. Let's hope she doesn't bring it up at the meeting. Well, that's my update, I look forward to your response in less than two hours, again, per your new policy.
Oberholser was losing a spot or two each week in the world ranking while recovering from injuries to his left hand, falling to No. 45. But he dropped six spots to No. 51 at the worst time – the cutoff for the top 50 being exempt to the U.S. Open.
He wound up .004 points behind Soren Hansen, who already was eligible.
“It’s a goofy system – we all know that. But it’s the system we have,” Oberholser said while waiting on lunch at Muirfield Village. “I probably deserve it. I haven’t played but five events because of my hand. And when I have played, I haven’t played well.”
The contract for this $1.5 million tour stop expires in 2009, and unofficial word is that an event that embraces the community as much as the community embraces it won't be renewed.And...
"I've had a feeling this was going to be coming soon," Sherri Turner, the 1988 Corning champion, said Tuesday as she choked back tears. "We all know things don't come easy here. You have to work for it, and I hate knowing that (the end) could happen."
The players who traditionally spend the week leading into Memorial Day at Corning Country Club are older ones who savor what the city did during the LPGA's lean years.
"It's just such a neat little town, and the community's so close," said 1987 winner Cindy Rarick, now 48, who has played here 23 times in her 24 years on tour. "It's just a lot of fun to go around and see things. ... It's kind of a peaceful place. You know the airport's small. There's not a lot of traffic. It's more quiet, a relaxing atmosphere, and it's more fun."
Fun doesn't seem to rank high on golf's list of priorities these days. It's business. Big business. On the men's side, Tiger Woods is a corporation unto himself. The LPGA has no one of that stature, but Ochoa and Sorenstam, who plans to retire at season's end, are marketable.
"The players today are in it for the money for the most part," Turner said. "There's some that are in it for the love of the game, but they're going to go where the money is. I hate seeing that happen because I know why this event is probably not going to continue."
Turner, merely speculating but carrying the wisdom of a 25-year tour veteran, believes the LPGA soon will elevate its minimum purse to $2 million. That's too deep for the pockets of this community, even with the backing of its loyal corporate sponsor, Corning Glass Works.
The LPGA adopted a rule in 2002 -- intended to help smaller tour stops such as Corning and Toledo -- requiring its players to appear in each stop at least once in a four-year period. That led to Sorenstam competing, and winning, in 2004.
On the eve of the NCAA Men's Championships at Purdue, Mike Carmin talks to coaches about the final NCAA to be played as a 72-hole stroke play event and explains the new format that will debut next year (and which most seem to not care for). I love the new format's attempt to get teams and match play involved, but I'm afraid shortening the individual competition to 54 holes will make it hard for the folks at Augusta National to give a spot to the NCAA champ.
If you didn't see Phil Mickelson's dramatic birdie to win at Colonial, well,
there's good news CBS has posted it online you need to wait until someone posts it on YouTube because the CBS Sports recap mysteriously does not show it. Instead, there's 2 minutes of Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo talking about how miraculous it was. Oh joy! (And they won't let anyone embed the video on blogs...good call suits, you're so savvy!).
Clark, seeking his first PGA Tour title, birdied two of the last three holes to secure his sixth runner-up spot on the world's most lucrative circuit.
"I'm as surprised as anybody I was able to make a three from over there," Mickelson, 37, told reporters of his remarkable shot through and over trees at the last. "I was just lucky.
"It wasn't like it was an easy shot, but it just came off perfectly. It was one of my more memorable ones."
Known for his creative and often bold on-course strategy, Mickelson ranked his wedge approach as "probably top five" among the best shots of his career.
There was this interesting quote from the runner-up, Rod Pampling:
"That's what number twos in the world do," Pampling said. "Those guys make those kinds of shots. I thought I was in great position. I am obviously disheartened."
Mickelson joins Hogan and Snead as the only winners at Colonial and Riviera in the same year (the telecast mentioned Billy Casper but he won at Brookside GC, not Riviera).
There was much grumbling in the locker room at Wentworth during the week over comments made by the BBC commentator to the effect that the golf on display was of a poor standard. A neutral could argue such criticism was slightly unfair given the course had been exceptionally difficult until yesterday morning's heavy rainfall produced conditions more conducive to good scoring. Nick Dougherty, on the other hand, was inclined to a harsher assessment.
"I thought it was very sad. In fact, I thought it was disgusting," the Englishman said of Alliss' criticisms. "He was talking about us being bad putters. I don't know whether it's because he has been out of the game for so long but I didn't think it was right and he ought to show us more respect. I wish we could take him out there and show him how difficult it was."
Needless to say Alliss did not take kindly to being upbraided by a young upstart, albeit one with a reputation for being amiable, and his response will have done little to repair relationships or diminish the broadcaster's image as a 19th hole curmudgeon, forever wailing that it was better in the old days.
"I am not here to do anything but say what is going on and they didn't play well," he said. "I know it [the game] is hard. I won 21 tournaments, played in eight Ryder Cups. If it is not all perfect now they all complain.
"There is too much sand in the bunkers, there is not enough sand in the bunkers, the greens. The courses weren't manicured years ago and you had to make the most of it. Bobby Locke won at Oakdale years ago when the greens were like bloody concrete. He won by 10 shots because he knew how to do things. They are so thin-skinned nowadays. It is quite extraordinary. They all say they can take criticism and they don't mind constructive criticism but they do."
Bill Pennington files a nice profile on the USGA Rules Department and the unsung work they do.
Monday through Friday, 40 hours a week, it is their full-time job to answer the phone calls, e-mail messages and mailings of everyday golfers who are perplexed or confounded by some element in the 181 pages of the Rules of Golf. How perplexed or confounded?
The U.S.G.A. fields and answers about 20,000 rule queries every year.
“They come in year-round but we are busiest from late May to September,” Fahleson said. “When we leave on a Friday, it’s not unusual for the rules e-mail in-box to be empty. When we come back Monday morning, there are several hundred questions in there.”
In most other sports, be it beer-league softball or youth soccer, there is an umpire, referee or official presiding over the action to make decisions and enforce rulings. In golf, 99 percent of the time, the players are on their own trying to figure out what the appropriate ruling should be. And let’s face it, people don’t understand the rules as well as they think. And the rules can be unduly complicated.
“We do try to make the rules as simple as possible, but we’re dealing with a game played across thousands of acres, with so many outside factors like weather and wildlife,” said Bernie Loehr, U.S.G.A. manager for the Rules of Golf. “There are a lot of situations that can happen and so many possibilities to consider.”