When the script resorts to gently spoofing the CEO, I suppose that's refreshing. Or a signal that it's time to pull the plug on John Cleese's steadiest check in decades.
Golf course architecture is art. You couldn’t learn everything there is to know about it in a lifetime of study. It’s all part and parcel of the learning experience and, like golfers, architects learn more from their mistakes than their successes. BEN CRENSHAW
When the script resorts to gently spoofing the CEO, I suppose that's refreshing. Or a signal that it's time to pull the plug on John Cleese's steadiest check in decades.
Okay sometimes this hiding behind family values stuff gets the best of me. (By the way, did Phil's offspring wait around for him today while he did his corporate outting?)
Anyway, it does seem that Tiger is going to pass on the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, what with Doug Ferguson already speculating on possible replacements.
Don't laugh, but Mike Weir is the third alternate.
It seems Ernie Els is now predicting that Sam's entry into school is going to be an issue in the coming years.
"Wait until Tiger's child grows up, wait another couple of years," said Els, who has children aged 8 and 4. "Wait until it's time for her to go off to school. Those are the things that are important in everybody's lives, and you don't want to miss those. I can assure you, it's going to get even harder for him."
“Some of the holes, you look at them and half the hole has been changed. That side has, but this side doesn’t have the same look,” Waugh said. “The course plays differently, more strategically because of Gil’s work.”Jim McCabe has more from a jubiliant Waugh, comments from Waugh that make it quite clear how little schedule tinkering will go on for 2008, and this update on the much talked about fourth hole:
The fourth hole, which went from a dogleg 435-yarder to a 298-yard par-4, was the hole the players least liked, Waugh reported. The new hole, driveable for virtually all of the players, was much better received.
Among others, Phil Mickelson went 2, 3, 5, 3 on the hole, picking up three strokes on Tiger Woods, who went 6, 2, 4, 4. Because it provides wild swings in scoring, officials are discussing the possibility of setting up new stands behind the green and making it one of the focus holes.
The hope is to continue to modify the course, although now it becomes merely fine-tuning.
“Gil is an artist. Brad is, too. You just let them go paint the picture,” Waugh said.
When all was said and done, the much talked-about par-4 fourth - a 298-yarder that had plenty of skeptics - held its own. No doubt, players took aim and plenty drove the green - 134 of them in four days. Five players made eagles as the hole played to a field average of 3.714 to rank 16th. But as a testament to the devilish nature of the hole, of the top eight players on the leaderboard at the start of the day, only Mickelson made birdie in the final round. Crunching some numbers after 374 scores had been recorded over four days:Cameron Morfit says the Mickelson issue is simple: he hasn't played well at Cog Hill.
Woods never did birdie it. He had a three-putt par yesterday, a par in Round 3, an eagle Saturday, and that unforgettable double bogey thanks to three bunker shots Friday.
Tom Pernice was the only player of the 75 who made the cut to play the hole over par. He made the championship's only triple bogey, then followed with three pars.
Mickelson played it in 3 under.
Sergio Garcia had four pars.
Mauricio, this is Mr. Finchem's office calling, we would like to move up that color session scheduled for next week to this week.
Oh, Mr. Daly acting up again?
Yes Mauricio, you obviously saw the telecast. So how about Thursday, just be at the airport and the Falcon will take you up to Chicago and back, just like in May when you took care of him.
Oh I remember, the drug testing stress. Well tell Mr. Finchem I'll bring the nice light brown he prefers for the summer months.
I will tell him.
Steve Elling pieces together the details of Phil Mickelson
pulling down his pants and turning a positively joyous, downright classic golf tournament into yet more millionaire bickering spilling out on national TV (I knew I should have left for the beach after NBC signed off!).
And you know the way Elling spells it out, as well as Chris Lewis (who transcribes the Jimmy Roberts interview) I think Phil's going to have people feeling sorry for the Commissioner. That's not easy to do!
If you want to read it straight from Mr. Family Man's mouth, here are the key excerpts, with the point misser and rally kill trimmed for your reading sanity. Well, except for that in-house, PGA Tour designed kill...
Q. Based on some comments on TV, is your rival now Tiger or Tim?Can we set this to Schubert? Maybe string quartet No. 14 to really capture the totality of this terrible man making you play so much golf for all that money in between your corporate outtings!
PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, no, no. I don't have a problem, it's just that I'm a little conflicted on some things because I'm trying to -- I want to have a balance in my life, and I certainly feel the obligation to play and support the FedExCup and to support the PGA TOUR, support the game of golf.
And I also want to have balance in my family life, and my family has sacrificed a lot this year because it's been a very difficult schedule. It's not the four FedExCup tournaments; it's the PGA, Akron right before that, only four days off after the British Open before we had to travel and playing two weeks before that, so it's been the last three months having no more than two days off at a time and working to do corporate outings in between.
So our time together has struggled, and I want to have a balance there. They start school next week, so I have that conflict -- or obligation and desire to be there.
My frustration from this past year came from asking for a couple of things in the FedExCup that weren't done and not really feeling all that bad now if I happen to miss. So I'm not really sure how it's going to play out.
Like I said, he's making you feel for the Commissioner isn't he?
Q. You said a couple discussion points with Tim that you were looking for vis-á-vis the design of the Playoff structure.
PHIL MICKELSON: I don't want to go into it. Just I want to support it and I certainly feel the obligation to, but I also have to have a balance both ways.
Q. Did you talk about it this week?
PHIL MICKELSON: Every time I see him this year I bring it up.
And this would be what? Oh right, that's confidential.
Here's a nice endorsement for the playoffs, again, after a thrilling finish that has done wonders for his season, brought great attention to his sponsors, wonderful vibes for Boston fans and in general, boosted the FedEx Cup's profile....
Q. Were you more excited about the FedExCup or more excited about 2008?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm excited about the way this week went. I loved this finish, I loved being able to play three rounds with the best player of arguably all time and certainly the best player in the world today, and to be able to come out on top feels great, and that just leads to excitement for the coming here, as well as I guess the finish of the year. But '08 is when our next major is, so that's kind of what I'm looking forward to.
Q. Are you going to play next week?
PHIL MICKELSON: I was just saying, I don't know.
Q. But you'll be in Chicago --
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not sure. I don't know.
Q. You'll be there tomorrow, though?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'll be there tomorrow. I had already scheduled an outing I was planning on playing, but I'm not sure.
Q. If you were to skip next week, would that mean skipping the last one, too?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, I would end up going to Atlanta.
STEWART MOORE: I believe we've touched on 12 and 18. Can you briefly take us through the rest of your birdies?
Are rally kills by the in-house PGA Tour staff eligible for Rally Killer of the Year? Hmmm...
From Steve Elling's preview of today's Woods-Mickelson pairing:
Mickelson stands two shots behind 54-hole leader Brett Wetterich, who is 13 under, while Woods is three back. The game's two most popular players were paired for the first two days at TPC Boston, along with Vijay Singh, attracting a huge throng. The crowd following the two biggest draws in the game Monday ought to make the mood over the first two days look serene.
"Well, I don't know, there's only two of us this time," Mickelson cracked.
Tad Reeve and Aaron Barber play Hazeltine with retro club and Reeve reports on the round.
Normally, I'd hit a 3-wood off the tee at No. 10. That's a metal 3-wood. This time, I needed all the distance I could get, so I pulled out the driver. You see that little wooden club head behind the ball, and you can't help but think of all the things that could go wrong. It felt clunky. Naturally, I hooked it deep into the woods, but that isn't unusual for me on that hole. Only this time, I was a good 50 yards shorter than normal, about 175 yards out.
Normally, Aaron would hit an 18-degree hybrid here. Instead, he pulled out the driver, too. He was uncomfortable, too, saying it felt heavier than his driver. His shot flared to the right and settled into the edge of the rough 235 yards away, quite a dropoff from the 277 yards he averaged with his driver on the front nine.
"Oh, geez, that's the swing I make with my regular driver," Aaron said after making contact. "I've got to slow things down."
After that, he did. He adjusted quickly. Each of his next three drives went more than 250 yards, and he averaged 244 for the nine holes. But more importantly, he adapted to the nuances of the old clubs.
"All through the back nine," he said, "I only thought about scoring and not about how the shot looked."
He hit the set of Wilson Staff irons as well as the Titleist DCI 962 irons he normally plays with. He lost maybe five yards in distance with each club, but he is used to hitting pro-style irons that have smaller sweet spots, which elite golfers like because of added control and feel. He was quick to admit that he was hitting pretty well that day, and on a day when he didn't feel so much in the groove, the results wouldn't have been so ... well ... groovy.
He had a couple of three-putts on the back nine, caused by poor lag putting, but he didn't feel overly hamstrung by the old-style putter. It reminded him of the putters he had as a kid. And, to be fair, Aaron Barber is good. You don't get to the level he reached without talent.
"Guys who play for a living," he says, "have to adapt real quick."
There was also a video that accompanied the piece online...
Catching up on some other non-PGA Tour stories, I see where a nice little spat is developing in Europe over the consistent selection of dreadful Ryder Cup venues. Darren Clarke spoke up and Mike Aitken reports:
DARREN Clarke, a Ryder Cup regular since 1997, completed his first round on the PGA Centenary course at Gleneagles and admitted it was "beyond his comprehension" why Europe's Ryder Cup committee had chosen to stage the match here against the USA in 2014.
After carding 73, level par, in the first round of the Johnnie Walker yesterday, Clarke described the Jack Nicklaus lay-out as an American style course not up to the standard of championship venues widely available in Scotland.
He said: "I think it is unbelievable they [the Ryder Cup committee] have chosen this course to stage the 2014 match. There's only been one Ryder Cup in Scotland, in 1973 [at Muirfield], and then they choose a course like this one. There are even two better ones here at Gleneagles. Scotland is the home of golf and we should not be playing on an American-style course; it's beyond my comprehension."
Clarke was not against Gleneagles as a venue for the match, if it was played over the adjacent Kings course, which has staged European Tour events, or even the short Queens course.
"Gleneagles is a wonderful venue but this is the wrong course," Clarke insisted.
Muirfield, Turnberry, Loch Lomond and Carnoustie were the other Scottish bidders. But Diageo, the owners of Gleneagles, succeeded because they made the best commercial offer with a venue deemed the most appropriate to host a modern Ryder Cup.
The next day Aitken wheeled out some poor chap (Sandy Jones?) to defend the selection, who made sure to note that the course is difficult, therefore it must be good!
"Even when Bells sponsored the Scottish Open on the King's, there was talk someone might shoot 59 there," added Jones. "The truth is the King's and the Queen's are just not big enough to accommodate today's players. To suggest the Ryder Cup should be played there isn't helpful. If we're going to have a debate about the course, let's have a sensible one."
A sensible one eh? Well then that calls for Monty's take!
But Colin Montgomerie, chairman of the Johnnie Walker championship committee, said: "Gleneagles will be a fantastic venue.
"As far as the staging of the match in Perthshire is concerned, I have no concerns whatsoever."
Spoken like someone who really wants to be captain in 2014.
Jones also stressed the important role Gleneagles had played in the history of the match, hosting the first unofficial contest against the USA in 1921 even before the hotel was built.
Colin Montgomerie also rallied to the defence of Gleneagles and insisted the PGA Centenary course was at least as good if not better than most of the venues chosen to host the Ryder Cup on this side of the Atlantic over the past 25 years.
Asked to comment in his capacity as chairman of the Johnnie Walker championship committee about the suitability of Gleneagles as hosts of the 2014 Ryder Cup match, Montgomerie said: "People are entitled to their opinion, but I feel the course would stand up to any Ryder Cup venue."
"Gleneagles is at least on a par with any of those venues if not an awful lot better than some."
Well and it is such elite company: K Club, Belfry, Celtic Manor. The architectural marvels of our time.
Scott Michaux, writing in the Augusta Chronicle on the lure of college football.
Just how enticing is the lure of college football? Consider that one of the legitimate contenders for the PGA Tour's $10 million playoff all but forfeited his chance to win the grand prize by skipping this week's event in Boston to be in Sanford Stadium on Saturday.
Scott Verplank said he had a harder time convincing his wife to let him come to Athens with fellow OSU luxury box owner Tway than he did to take the week off. Standing 15th in golf's new playoffs points system, he was one of the few considered a viable contender to win the overall FedEx Cup and the richest paycheck in sports history. But the Cowboys were playing the No. 13 Dawgs between the hedges.
"I felt comfortable in the standings to take the week off," Verplank said.
Boy, when the PGA Tour adopted its new schedule to avoid conflicts with football season, here's betting the commissioner didn't have this in mind.
But that says something about the attraction of football on a Saturday. It's irresistible to fans and players alike.
"I'd pay $15 to play El Dump-o-rama down the street with the bowl-shaped greens and the bunkers that haven't been raked in four years. Absolutely. That's fun. That's fun golf."
A fun item from Doug Ferguson's Deutsche Bank second round notes column:
Rich Beem lives the good life on the PGA Tour, playing the best courses with the best players, taking part in pro-ams with the rich and famous. But he still enjoys going back to his roots - a municipal golf course, a few beers, lots of laughs.
Beem was having lunch with his caddie, Billy Heim, on Monday in Rhode Island when he mentioned he was going to play golf and the waitress recommended a course in Providence called Triggs, an old Donald Ross design.
"I played with two police officers from Rhode Island," Beem said. "They had their day off. They finished playing golf, but I don't know how. They were really enjoying their day off."
This wasn't the first time Beem has gone from TPCs to municipal tracks. He was asked if he would pay $400 to play Pebble Beach.
"Oh, God, no," Beem said. "But I'd pay $15 to play El Dump-o-rama down the street with the bowl-shaped greens and the bunkers that haven't been raked in four years. Absolutely. That's fun. That's fun golf. We play these beautiful courses all the time, but what's wrong with going out and playing fun golf now and then, shooting whatever, play in your bare feet."
Heim is more than just a caddie. He lost in the final match of the 1987 U.S. Junior Amateur to Brett Quigley, who happened to play with Beem the first two rounds of the Deutsche Bank Championship.
How does a former PGA champion wind up on a municipal golf course?
"I'm just another guy who took a day off of a work and went to go play golf," he said. "Is that so bad?"
"But he [Harmon] told me a couple of things he [Woods] likes to do, and I was watching for it, and I chuckled throughout the round when I'd pick up on it."
Steve Elling files an entertaining report on Saturday's much-improved performance (19-under-par!!) from the Tiger-Phil-Vijay pairing.
It was gang engorgement, a feeding frenzy. Mickelson, ever the smirking wise guy, suggested that Woods might have been motivated to pick up his pace after Lefty started a torrid run in the middle of the round, when he played an eight-hole stretch in a blistering 7 under.
"I think Tiger got a little upset there when I got on that streak because he started out 6 under in his next six holes," Mickelson said, his math exactly right.
Oh that's good, but here's the buried lede:
Mickelson enjoyed the two days in the premier trio so much he wants more of the same in Monday's final round. Butch Harmon, his swing coach and Woods' former teacher, gave Mickelson some insider information on things to watch when playing with Woods. Mickelson declined to provide specifics, but it must have something to do with Woods' mannerisms or peccadilloes.
Maybe Woods has been demystified a bit.
"In the past I haven't really played that well with Tiger, per se," Mickelson said. "But he [Harmon] told me a couple of things he [Woods] likes to do, and I was watching for it, and I chuckled throughout the round when I'd pick up on it."
Mickelson stubbornly wouldn't offer more, other than Harmon's insight seemed to work.
"It's really helped because I find myself chuckling at it now and played much more relaxed and had a good time today," Mickelson said.
I think that pretty much eliminates any hope of a Butch-Tiger reunion.
A few other nuggets from Mickelson's press conference:
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, figuring out how the slopes on the greens are going to take it. I love the design and I love the setup. I love the way the greens are, around the greens, the way the rough is where you can actually play shots, and I think that I'm going to plan on making this a permanent stop. This is the first time I've been here, and I can't believe I haven't been here earlier. This is a wonderful tournament for us.
Guess Phil likes fescue rough.
And on the FedEx Cup...
Q. When you first heard about the FedExCup, what was your sense then, and has it changed at all since you've started to play in it?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not sure. I mean, I think that I won't have a good comment for you on the FedExCup for a couple years. I think that I've got to give it a fair chance to play out and see how the individual events go and see how the overall chase for the Cup goes. The first year we're going to need to do a few tweaks, you can tell, and I'm curious to see how next year's scheduling is going to be.
There's a lot of little areas in there that are critical I think in the first couple years on whether it makes it or not.
I guess he hasn't heard that the schedule is set for next year.
This is funny and it leads into the stuff Elling quotes above...
Q. At a normal TOUR event you three guys wouldn't play together. Would it be good to do this more often?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I think it would. I mean, I think it would. Certainly the last three years this random computer pairings has randomly had us on opposite tee times every day for three years (laughter).
Q. Funny how that works out.
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, anyway, but I enjoy it. This was actually a really interesting day because I've been working with Butch Harmon, as you know, and in the past I haven't really played that well with Tiger per se. But he told me a couple things that he likes to do, and I kind of was watching for it, and I chuckled throughout the round when I'd pick up on it. And it was just -- I think that working with Butch has really helped me understand how to get my best golf when I play in the same group as Tiger, and I'm hoping I have a chance to do that on Monday.
Q. Anything you can tell us, the things you look for?
PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, no, I'm not about to tell you. I'm not even going to go there. But just a couple things that have been very interesting, and certainly the stories have been great (laughter). But just a few things to watch for. And it's really helped because I find myself chuckling at it now and played much more relaxed and had a good time today.
Q. Kind of demystified the guy for you?
PHIL MICKELSON: I wouldn't say that. That's all I'd really care to go for. I'm sharing with you a little piece and you keep asking for more.
Q. Are you hoping you guys get paired together again next week?
PHIL MICKELSON: Absolutely. I'd like to play well tomorrow and I'd like him to play well tomorrow, so hopefully we both have a chance on Monday and maybe get paired together. That would be fun.
"You might think making the same nine-hole loop time after time would grow tedious, but nothing could be further from the truth."
John Paul Newport celebrates the beauties of nine-hole rounds with his Saturday WSJ column. And yes, I supplied the image of Marion's 9th that accompanies the piece.
As always, thanks to reader John for sending the link.
"One week into the much belly-ached FedEx Cup "Playoffs," the howls from the golf scribes can be heard from here to Madagascar."
The Commissioner has mentioned the many positive fan and blog entries commenting on the FedEx Cup, though I don't know if I've found one yet. Here's one he probably won't like because like others, it points out that the season-long points race has made a mess of things. However, FedEx wouldn't have anything to do with it if the "race" was not being mentioned each week.
From Jim McCabe's Boston Globe round one notes column:
The pot bunker that's been added into the middle of the layup area at the par-5 18th offers a quaint look. The only thing is, does it come into play? "It definitely did for me," said Kuchar, who only drove it 240 yards and was left with about 290 yards. For sure, Kuchar had to consider the deep pot bunker on his layup, but he executed it perfectly. "I don't have much good to say about 18," he said. . . Tim Herron told Gil Hanse, who led the redesign efforts, that he didn't like the pot bunker. It was right where he would want to lay it up, Herron told Hanse, who nodded and replied that's why it was put there, to force guys to be precise with their second shots . . .
FYI, the sprinkler head on the back side of the bunker, closest to the green, is 95 to the center of the green. The nearest head short of the bunker is marked 117. Yes, they might have to hit an easy pitching wedge instead of a full SW.
Oh, and there's a good 15 paces of fairway on either side of this little bunker.
What a menace to society!
At least Rocco, who actually gives this stuff serious consideration, likes what he sees.
As for the overall changes to TPC Boston, Rocco Mediate is a big fan. "Fax did a great job," said Mediate, a reference to PGA Tour colleague Brad Faxon, who consulted with Hanse on the redesign. "Then again, I knew he would. He's old-school, so he wasn't going to force some new-fandangled goofy stuff."
...the brand platforming experts down in Ponte Vedra will note TPC Boston 4th hole's impact on day one Deutsche Bank play. Tiger Woods's double bogey 6 and Phil Mickelson's eagle 2 were run on sports highlight shows across the country.
I did notice that TGC/NBC showed it quite a bit more than any other front nine hole.
Here's what first round leader Camillo Villegas said about the hole:
Q. You talked about the new hole at No. 4. Can you give me your general impressions of that hole beyond the birdie?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Tricky one. It's a tricky one. There's obviously -- the green just goes away. I think we should play that hole from the front tee all week, just because from the back tee it's a little too funky. You're going to be hitting maybe a 5-wood into a very narrow space, and it's going to be hard to even hold the green from 100 yards, and then if you hit driver and you get it up there where you have 50 yards, you can be in the middle of the fairway and I don't think you're going to be able to hold the green.
It's a tricky one. It's a good hole from the front, I believe, and I'm just trying to get it over that green somehow and just chip it back up.
Here's what Tiger said about his surprising double...
Q. Can you talk about the 4th hole?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, the 4th hole I was telling Stevie, we've got to be committed to hitting the ball right of the green. I could hit the ball 50 yards right of the green. I was just trying to hit the ball right, right, right, and I just pulled it about five yards left of the flag. I was in the bunker, the only place you can't be.
Q. We couldn't see it from where we were standing. What were you trying to do with that shot?
TIGER WOODS: I was just trying to keep the ball on the green. Trying to keep it on the green.
Q. Runs away from you?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, big-time. I wasn't even trying to get cute with it. I said, well, if I make a mistake, make this mistake long, hit the ball over the green, chip back and try and make par that way. It just came out soft and buried under the lip.
Q. Still in the sand?
TIGER WOODS: It was actually underneath the lip, so I couldn't get it out.
And here's what Mike Weir said after his 65:
Q. So you liked everything?
MIKE WEIR: I liked everything, yeah (laughter).
I heard that No. 4, that that was kind of a narrow tee shot and a big -- I like the drivable par 4s because you miss it in the wrong spot with these firm, fast greens, and you're going to be struggling for par. Good risk-reward hole.
Q. As an example, and I could ask this of someone who had an eight-foot eagle putt, where could you miss it where you do get in some deep doo-doo?
MIKE WEIR: Left. I played with J.J. and he hit it left, and he had to hit it just right to get it barely on the green, and he hit a good shot and it rolled all the way down the hill and he had to make a really good up-and-down for par. That's a really good hole. If you miss it in the wrong spot, even though he was in the fairway you don't have much. Even if you miss it right, you can pitch it up the green.
Mark Rolfing, trying a wee bit hard to push the FedEx Cup, alerted us that the playoffs are so volatile that had Camillo Villegas made his birdie putt on No. 16 to get to -7 and take the FIRST ROUND lead, Camillo would have moved to 4th in the projected FedEx Cup standings.