Now, it's time for the euphoria to subside. It's back to business and another major - the British Open Championship starting at Hoylake on Thursday. Ogilvy left Melbourne on Thursday and plans to play his first practice round on the championship course this evening.
Before then he will play other links courses in the Liverpool area, anonymously he hopes. "I'll just try to sneak on somewhere, try to hide who I am. Just pay my £40 or £50 green fees," he said. Good luck.
The original charm of golf, its simplicity and naturalness, cannot be too strongly emphasized; and this was in a great measure lost when the demand for fresh courses grew, since it then became necessary to imitate what in the first instance had come into being spontaneously. TOM SIMPSON and H.N. WETHERED
Thankfully the British Open arrives to save us from bickering about the PGA Tour's many questionable moves of late, but many of your comments are worth revisiting. You know, just in case someone in Ponte Vedra cares.
Regarding Scott Michaux's commentary on Tim Finchem, Matt writes: "Finchem definitely created this monster himself when purses rose faster than the market could reliably sustain. And of course the top players are now so rich that they're not going to play any smaller events that could use their support. This FedEx cup mess is going to produce a chorus of snores, guaranteed."
And Martin Del Vecchio commented, "Tim Finchem works for the PGA Tour players, and mostly works for the elite players. He has helped to make them very rich, and they are happy with his service. It's a perfect closed system. The "golf fans" don't matter much any more, unless they happen to run Fortune 500 companies, and can pony up $5 million (or whatever) each year to sponsor a tournament."
On the Western Open's demise, Smolmania writes, "There is one event in this country which has been played longer than the Western Open. . . and that's the U.S. Open. Won't Walter Hagen be proud knowing that he won the BMW Championship? Our only hope is that when the FedUp Cup (with its FECES entry system) falls flat on its face, that we can have our tournament back."
Regarding the Fed Ex Cup, Daryl writes:How does the Charles Schwab Cup points race work on the Champions Tour? Do we even care, it's tape delayed on the Golf Channel now?
And Steve makes this interesting point: On another note related to the demise of Tournaments lately, has Greensboro named a new title sponsor for 2007? Booze Allen's announcement came in March, Chrysler decided in January that they were done in Greensboro as title sponsor but I don't see Finchem holding a press conference to announce the demise of that event. Is it because Tiger's agent was involved in helping that event survive Finchem's guillotine?"
On Doug Ferguson's story about Tiger and Phil being the driving force behind the new schedule and its impact on the Western, Glyn notes, "There's a difference between stating that the season is too long and cutting a tournament that's been around for 100 years."
GeorgeM brings up this point though: "Will the changes we have seen so far benefit PGAT members? I have no idea. Why not wait until December 2007 to evaluate what Tim hath wrought?"
George also had this to say about the FedEx Cup points: "If the PGAT wants something other than the Money List, they should use the OWGR. Points earned by PGAT members in PGAT sanctioned events would do the job."
On the subject of more spontaneous changes in course setup to better test players from day to day (and to keep things fresh), Scott S writes, "I do believe, though, that hole locations should be decided at the crack of dawn on every day they are to be moved, rather than in advance of a tournament. Too much foreknowledge can be a bad (boring) thing."
And Matt again: "If, at the next British Open at St. Andrews, the R&A decides to tee off on the first hole from a new secret tee on the roof of the clubhouse for the second round, that would be neat. Then, for the final round, they could move the tees up to around 280 yards to tempt the players into driving the green and bringing the burn more into play. Surprises are good!"
Scott says: it seems like these sorts of ideas are band aids. They try to chip away at problems and, i believe, will likely create more issues than they solve...The real fix is far more complicated and will take years--equipment."
Lefty brought the subject back to Phil Mickelson (where it originated), and wrote: "I don't think the extent that Mickelson prepares is beneficial. Although going to the course and playing many practice at Winged Foot did aid Phil, allowing him to be in contention at WF despite not hitting the ball well at all, I do agree with those that think that his set decisions on what club he'd use on 18, and his inability to adjust to the situation did hurt him."
And Charlie Bell writes, "The downside of this, which no one has mentioned, is that the USGA et al could be accused of setting up a course on Sunday in order to favor or penalize particular individuals in contention. Imagine if Corey Pavin and Tiger were in the final pairing... So, from this angle (which escaped me previously) perhaps the USGA's preplanning is defensible. Still, they should keep the darned information secret."
Finally, on the subject of Dick Rugge's latest remarks about the USGA having plenty of time to research things because the distance surges have slowed down, Chuck writes: "And there is this statement: 'This stability might mean Rugge and his staff have caught up to changing technology.'
"Caught up? What does that mean? Even Mr. Rugge and Mr. Rich say publicly that their testing and study are still in process. And they haven't changed any regulations or testing protocols that have arrested any new technology. So no one should claim that the USGA has "caught up" in recent years. They haven't actually done anything yet, by their own admission, other than to study the issue. I'm not critical of those efforts; I am all for the USGA basing its actions on the best information there is. But they haven't done anything, yet, and the real question is what action will be taken as the study is completed."
Looks like the PGA Tour's Joan Alexander attached the wrong Henry Hughes statement on Michelle Wie's John Deere WD due to heat stroke:
Comment from the PGA TOUR on Michelle Wie making the cut at the John Deere Classic:
“The PGA TOUR congratulates Michelle Wie on her historic accomplishment in making the cut at the John Deere Classic, the first female in more than 60 years to do so on the TOUR. Her quality of play over the first two rounds is a testament to her high level of performance and individual achievement. The PGA TOUR wishes her well in her play this weekend.”
Senior Vice President and Chief of Operations PGA TOUR
And Alliss dismissed the criticisms of Ron Whitten, the golf architecture editor of the world's biggest selling golf magazine Golf Digest, that the Royal Liverpool Golf Club course was not up to the modern game.
The magazine caused a furore when it published the article by Whitten, one of its senior writers, who claimed the course was not up to the standard needed for modern professional golfers.
Mr Whitten later told the Daily Post: "I do not feel it's worthy any longer of being host to the Open.
"I'm not saying it's a bad golf course, but I'm saying it's not a course which in my opinion should be hosting the Open."
He added: "For its history, it's a great old club, and for everyday members I'm sure it's a delightful place to play, but there is a different standard for the best golfers in the world."
But Alliss, who said he had not seen the original article, said: "We will just wait and see.
"If the wind blows we will see if this man knows anything about the game.
"It's a wonderful course, and all our links championship courses are made by the wind conditions. If there is a wind, it's a very formidable golf course."
Reader JPB passed along this Reuters story by Brooks Boliek on the FCC's obsenity crackdown:
In its continuing crackdown on on-air profanity, the FCC has requested numerous tapes from broadcasters that might include vulgar remarks from unruly spectators, coaches and athletes at live sporting events, industry sources said.
Tapes requested by the commission include live broadcasts of football games and NASCAR races where the participants or the crowds let loose with an expletive. While commission officials refused to talk about its requests, one broadcast company executive said the commission had asked for 30 tapes of live sports and news programs."It looks like they want to end live broadcast TV," said one executive, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity. "We already know that they aren't afraid to go after news."
"The 16th/18th gives you a real eagle opportunity," contends European Tour pro Nick Dougherty, a native Liverpudlian who has played Hoylake countless times. "At the same time, if you leak your drive [on the last hole] just a little you can easily one-hop the drive out-of-bounds given the way they have cut the rough back there. So lots of numbers are possible. That makes it a great finishing hole. On the real 18th, not much was going to happen.
"And I have never minded the internal O.B.," Dougherty adds. "It's done in the right way at Hoylake. On some courses it looks strange, but the humps they have there work somehow. It looks natural because it is--and every time it makes the hole better."
Dougherty, an eloquent and engaging young man, makes a valid point. Is a slightly unusual internal out-of-bounds any more outlandish than some of the stunts that have been pulled at other great old courses over the last few years? The list of previously unthinkables is growing steadily: the sudden proliferation of rough and trees at Augusta National; the new tees (that were on other golf courses) at St. Andrews for the 2005 Open; the carnage that was Carnoustie in 1999 or Bethpage in 2002, where one tee was placed so far back many players could not reach the fairway.
John Barton writes about those legendary sons of Hoylake, Harold Hilton and John Ball.
Dave Shedloski looks at the demise of ABC golf and how the team is dealing with the final year of coverage. The network insists that it is staying on until 2009, the year its deal ends with the R&A.
And don't miss Geoff Russell's mid-year report, which included the astounding handling of Bob Tway's request to attend a funeral and other information.
Well, not really, but Steve Campbell in the Houston Chronicle did find a tournament director who is happy that 10th place in the Houston Open is the same as 10th at the Memorial. Yep, that's the extent of the positive feedback to date.
...because his Thursday evening rant describes just about every USA Network telecast...
I wish I’d kept track of all the dim-witted, apologetic, banal and otherwise unlistenable comments uttered by Bill Patrick and Jim Gallagher during USA Network’s first-round coverage of Michelle Wie this afternoon. Such a list surely would have reached several dozen—no small chore given that Wie was midway into her back nine when the telecast began.
For the next hour, neither Patrick nor Gallagher managed an original thought or even a syllable of brazen analysis as Wie chopped her way to an opening 77. It was TV golf at its worst, at least five strokes higher than Wie’s own performance, full of inapt pity for the young lady and every she’s-just-a-girl excuse a couple of cliché machines could borrow from a manual.
Sorry I missed this one!
Apparently Carolyn Bivens is determined to make Tim Finchem's handling of Washington D.C. and Chicago look good, as Ron Sirak reports on the latest head scratcher from LPGA headquarters:
According to sources familiar with the situation, the LPGA will announce next week a new event in South Carolina and sponsored by Ginn Clubs & Resorts, which debuted as a sponsor this year with a $2.5 million stop in Orlando. That's the good news. The problem is the date discussed with the new tournament is the week before the McDonald's LPGA Championship--a spot currently occupied by the ShopRite LPGA Classic, won this year by Seon Hwa Lee (pictured). Larry Harrison, general chairman of the Atlantic City event since its inception in 1986, says he'll sue if his date is given away.
"We have a letter from the previous administration guaranteeing us that date in '07 and '08," Harrison told Golf World. "Our lawyers think we have a very strong position. We told [the LPGA] if they announce this date we will pursue legal action."
Ginn has confirmed only that it has an LPGA-related announcement scheduled for July 17. The Post and Courier of Charleston, S.C., says the new event will be held at the Ginn property at RiverTowne CC in the nearby suburb of Mount Pleasant.
In a Reuters story by Miles Evans:
"It's my favorite tournament of the year, without a doubt," the 29-year-old told reporters after returning to his native Australia following his one-shot victory at Winged Foot last month.
"I love the challenge because we don't get to play that kind of golf that often. It's like riding a bike, as soon as you get out on a course like that you just remember how to play.
"I won't expect to win, but I'll feel like I can win. My goal each week is to have a chance on Sunday and that will be my goal at Hoylake.
"We only play courses like that once a year. It's nice to see the ball rolling on the floor when it lands. You never really forget how to play like that."
The double bogey that followed Montgomerie's momentary mental lapse will go down as one of the sadder moments in recent memory, although he has since spent time with his sports psychologist Hugh Mantle and the pair have analysed exactly what went wrong. Part of their discussion focused on the moments before he struck the ball, when he was forced to wait while his playing partner Vijay Singh sought a ruling from officials.
"I'm convinced that, if I was to go up to that ball at my usual pace and hit it, I'd have probably won. But you have to play according to your playing partner and the rules. If I'd been in the tent he would have had to wait on me. It's amazing what runs through the mind at that stage," Montgomerie said.
The USA Today's Jerry Potter looks at this year's driving distance numbers, setting up Dick Rugge to lay the groundwork for some good ole red-white-and-blue USGA spin.
Twelve players, led by Bubba Watson at 318.5 yards, average 300 yards on their drives, but that's not even close to the record 26 who ended 2005 as 300 hitters.
Just wait, however, says Dick Rugge, the senior technical director for the U.S. Golf Association. They're on their way.
"It's a natural year-to-year variation," says Rugge, who notes that there were 11 players at 300-plus last year at this time.
Wet conditions in the winter made for soggy courses that held down distances. As the hot summer progresses, fairways will harden and golf balls will roll. And tournaments coming up in high-altitude areas, where drives carry farther, such as The International in Colorado and the Reno-Tahoe Open in Nevada, should increase the totals.
"My expectations are that the number of 300-yard drivers this year will be pretty much the same as last year," says Rugge, who points out that there are 14 players between 298 yards and 300.
That in itself is a bit of an upset, however: The number has been steadily climbing in recent years — one in '02, nine in '03, 15 in '04 and 26 in '05.
The overall average also might have hit a high.
The average distance has been relatively stable in recent years after a jump from 273.2 yards in 2000 to 279.4 yards in 2001. The average climbed again from 278.8 in '02 to 286.3 in '03. Advancements in driver technology and club fitting are credited for those changes, but the USGA's recent restrictions on drivers have helped level off that average. Since '04, the number has been about the same: 287.3, 288.9 and 288.0.
This stability might mean Rugge and his staff have caught up to changing technology.
"The train has not pulled out of the station," he says. "We're in about the same place we were three years ago. We have time to be careful with our research and thorough with our investigation."
Ah yes, notice he says three years ago.
Because we want to focus on that lack of change since 03.
After all, if we go to '02, that means having to abide by that pesky Joint Statement of Principles where they say no more distance increases will be tolerated. If you haven't read them in a while, you'd be wise to do so.
Vartan Kupelian paired up the LPGA and Champions Tours in a comparison story, primarily to see if Carolyn Bivens could outdule Rick George in the inane quote department. You be the judge.
"We don't compare ourselves to them at all because what we do is unique, the way we've positioned our tour, hitting a different group of people who are going to watch this," George said.
But that doesn't necessarily mean a single demographic.
"We're always trying to hit different demographics to grow our fan base," George said. "It's important for us to continue to look at different demographics it's not all geared to one segment of the population."
Demographics. Yawn. The Brand Lady offers slick analogies.
"We appeal to a totally different audience, different sponsors," Bivens said. "It's as different as the NBA and professional bowling."
Oh but this is may be her best.
Bivens compares the bumps off the course "to changing tires on a car going 100 miles an hour."
That's why she gets the big bucks.
We've heard this nonsense before, but it's still breathtaking.
Bivens' goal is to "monetize the success and interest" in the LPGA and making money often means rubbing people the wrong way.
"Somebody has to stand up and say, 'This is what we're doing and where we're going,' " she said.
"I didn't take the job for the money. I didn't take the job to be voted Miss Congeniality. I don't like the controlling person I read about -- it's not who I am."
And just to show he's in his own unique world too, George says...
"Our attendance continues to get better, not as much as we'd like but better," he said. "The sponsor base is stronger than it has been. We're in terrific shape and with an eye toward the end of the year when seven prominent PGA Tour players are coming out."
Coming out? Oh right, you mean...gotcha.
Kupelian spoils George's optimism pretty quickly.
That's not always the perception. Television images show small crowds more often than not, and exposure of the Champions Tour is well down the pecking order in newscasts and newspapers unless the over-50 set is in town. It's easy to reach the conclusion that the Champions Tour is floundering until someone stops to consider that the seniors are divvying up $52.7 million in prize money annually -- a veritable windfall of lottery proportions -- and sponsors continue to pony up.
"An endorsement of what we're doing is that we've had eight (contract) renewals in 10 months," George said. "And we anticipate more. The perception should be that the Champions Tour has really solidified its position and our opportunity now is to grow."
They're growing! And they're interacting...
"If you look at the Champions Tour today, the way our players go out of the way to interact and engage, is better than any sport, not just golf.
"We think we're one of the best business-to-business marketing opportunities in all our sports. We haven't lost focus of one of the integral pieces of our business -- interaction with sponsors' guests and clients and the fans who come out."
Hmmm...George wins with that last minute run that is sure to give Champions Tour players chest pains.
I've read about some pretty silly things coming out of the golf executive suites in recent years, but nothing shocked me more than this from Geoff Russell's "Mid-Year Report" in the Golf World British Open preview.
Under Most Disappointing (off-course), Russell lists a series of PGA Tour miscues, but this is beyond belief:
"most extraordinary, the refusal to allow Bob Tway to miss the BellSouth Classic pro-am to attend the funeral of Bradley Johnson, 17, who lost the 2005 U.S. Junior Amateur final to Tway's son, Kevin."
John Hawkins offers some great suggestions on fixing the clearly broken FedEx Cup. (And since they're good ideas, they have NO chance of flying.)
But I'm not in agreement with his idea of padding points for strength of field to encourage more play from top players.
Problem: Making the Players Championship worth the same number of points (27,500) as the four majors is yet another example of the tour’s petty arrogance. Please. It’s an excellent tournament, but the Players is not worthy of such status, and the harder Camp Ponte Vedra tries to ram the notion down our throats, the less credible it becomes.John, be nice to the fifth of golf's four majors! They have a new logo that really...oh forget it.
Solution: The tour’s point-allocation formula is as follows: 27,500 for the majors and Players; 26,250 for World Golf Championships and 25,000 for “regular” events. My scale is 30,000 for the majors and 27,500 for the Players/WGCs. Weekly tournaments start at a base of 24,000, but for every player in the top 50 of the World Ranking in the field, the total increases, with a maximum value of 26,000.
This changes the distribution values as well. The tour will pay 4,500 points for a regular win, 4,725 for a WGC victory and 4,950 for a major title. My numbers are obviously slightly higher, which spreads the field and has a positive effect on player incentive. All I know is, the guy who wins Memorial should get more points than whoever wins Hartford. That’s just common sense.
Fair point, but as we've learned with MacDuff's points system, awarding equal points throughout the year actually rewards those who play well and play often.
The PGA Tour held a teleconference to unveil yet another new THE PLAYERS logo and to announced another presenting sponsor. Some nice Finchemspeak for your files.
One of the most important things about next year's tournament is the telecast. To think that we're going to have later air times, that's important, but we're going to have limited commercial inventory, with only four minutes of commercials an hour.Limited commericial inventory. Is that why we have all of those The Villages ads?
So over the years we have been blessed in the last few years with our relationship with Price Waterhouse Coopers and also with UBS. And today we're delighted to announce that Jeld-Wen, which is the largest manufacturer of reliable doors and windows in the world, will become our third sponsor.Underpin...nice verb choice Tim.
That is particularly important to be able to generate the kind of television presentation that we want to present. It's also important to help underpin all the changes and presentation that will occur with the players going forward.
Jeld-Wen is -- why Jeld-Wen? Not just that we have a relationship with Jeld-Wen that goes back several years, when Jeld-Wen has been sponsoring a major championship on the Champions Tour, the Tradition. The Jeld-Wen Tradition has quickly become a fixture on the Champions Tour.
Is that like one of the nine majors in a row they're currently playing?
But the nature of the people at Jeld-Wen, the executive team at Jeld-Wen are a group of people that believe in the game of golf. They believe in what the game can do for a brand. They have demonstrated in their relationship with the Tradition out in Portland, a commitment to charity as well, a million dollars have been raised for charitable causes in the Portland area. So they are a natural, big company, global brand to align not just with The PLAYERS, but in association with The PLAYERS with Price Waterhouse Coopers and UBS. So that rounds out our charitable mix and gives us the basis where we can move forward and have the security to know that we can accomplish the things we need to accomplish to create a better PLAYERS and bring it to our fans.
So many words, and yet so little actually said.
Ah but here's the best part, the report on course and clubhouse renovations from David Pillsbury.
DAVE PILLSBURY: Well, first, I can assure you that the windows and doors are in fact Jeld-Wen through and through. We are very proud to say that. A great product for a great clubhouse, building a platform really for the next 25 years.
And you wonder why I'm cynical?
Steve Elling weighs in on the FedEx Cup and he's not excited either:
It has been a fortnight since the PGA Tour raised the curtain on its new money misdirection play, a cash-rich contrivance called the FedEx Cup. Or maybe that's pulled back the curtain, because Commissioner Tim Finchem is starting to look like the Wizard of Blahs.And...
The innovative notion of a seasonlong points race has generated mostly yawns of indifference. Whenever fans pass at examining, if not exhuming, a plan that purports to change the DNA of a decades-old pro sport, that's not a good sign.
Those who bothered to delve into the details, however, have come away picking SPAM out of their teeth. They chewed on it but aren't quite sure what it was. Sure, it's different, but is it any good?
Philosophically, though, it's about the money, stupid -- keeping the big-gun players rich, propping up purses, capitulating to TV and title sponsors while allowing Finchem to fill his increasingly fat wallet.
What's thrilling about seeing the roughly 240 players with tour status being culled to a list of 144? That means less than two-thirds of the tour roster, including players who will be losing their cards at year's end, qualify for the FedEx "playoffs." What is this, hockey?
Finchem says players have been "incentivized" to compete in all four FedEx Cup series events to win the $10 million. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will play all four this year, yet do you really think Woods regularly will play six times in seven weeks under the FedEx Cup scenario? Me, neither.
The galling go-for-the-green attitude of the modern tour was never more in evidence than when the plan was unveiled June 28 in New York City, when Finchem shamelessly trotted out corporate shills from the four title sponsors of the FedEx series. Worse, the announcement was held on the first day of the most important event in women's golf, the U.S. Women's Open. That's just bad karma.
The Washington Post's Leonard Shapiro on the PGA Tour pulling out of Washington:
I think the commissioner heard loud and clear that Washington was not about to accept a second-class golf event played at what has become a second-class venue at TPC Avenel. He heard it from his own players, from the press, from talk radio, from letters to the editor, from e-mails on the internet and other correspondence to his office in Ponte Vedra. And finally, I believe he got the point.
Now it seems as if the tour may also finally be getting serious about fixing up Avenel, ostensibly the reason there will be no tournament here in 2007, and probably 2008 as well. If the tour is going to spend what they say is $18 to $20 million and what others say likely will balloon to the $25 million range, they want to do it right.
They really can't re-route the golf course, but they can certainly move enough earth to make it a more challenging venue, and perhaps also upgrade the infrastructure Avenel never has had to support the thousands of golf fans who have flocked to the course year after year.
So does anyone know if these $20 and $25 million figures represent just what is being spent on the course, or also include a clubhouse redo?
Golfweek's Alistair Tait makes some good points about the Open Championship qualifying, which is down to 12 spots after all of the exemptions.
Here are the recent qualifiers according to the R&A, with two spots remaining:
Qualifiers for The Open
Recent qualifiers for The Open through exemption categories 8, 15 and 16 and at Local Final Qualifying are: -
8. The leading player, not exempt, in the first 10 and ties of the 2006 Open de France, the 2006 Smurfit European Open and the 2006 Barclays Scottish Open. *
Marcus Fraser (Australia)
Anthony Wall (England)
15. First 2 USPGA Members and ties not exempt in a cumulative money list taken from the USPGA Tour Players Championship and the five USPGA Tour events leading up to the 2006 Western Open.
JJ Henry (USA)
Billy Andrade (USA)
16. The leading player not exempt having applied 15 in the first 10 and ties of the 2006 Buick Championship, the 2006 Western Open and the 2006 John Deere Classic. *
Hunter Mahan (USA)
Matthew Goggin (Australia)
* Still to be played
Local Final Qualifying
Jon Bevan (Wessex Golf Centre)
Warren Bladon (Unattached)
Mikko Ilonen (Finland)
Jim Payne (Southport & Ainsdale)
Andrew Marshall (Unattached)
Darren Parris (North Foreland)
Danny Denison (A) (England)
Gary Day (Cookridge Hall)
Marcus Brier (Austria)
Nick Ludwell (Selby)
Gary Lockerbie (Unattached)
Adam Frayne (St Mellion)