Thanks to reader Cob for this Jim McCabe column on the meaning of golf in the context of bidding farewell to Boston Golf Club's John Minneck.
No matter with what heights he is faced or with what winds assailed, the sportsman in battling with nature makes no complaint. But immediately he is faced with problems of human origin, he feels justified, if he finds them too difficult, in turning upon their creator with murder in his heart.
Thanks to reader Cob for this Jim McCabe column on the meaning of golf in the context of bidding farewell to Boston Golf Club's John Minneck.
Thanks to reader Rob for noting Lorne Rubenstein's column pondering the perfection of Muirfield Village's conditioning and role that such pristine conditions play in the game.
The problem is that golfers, and not only tour professionals, expect perfect conditions in modern golf. They want to know that a ball hit into a spot in the fairway will stay there and not careen madly off a firm slope into a bunker. When they do find sand, they expect a perfect lie. They also expect the sand to be the same in every bunker on the course.
Nicklaus took some action in this regard. He furrowed the bunkers last year so that not every ball that settles into the sand will sit up. Some players whined. The furrows aren't as deep this year, but they're still furrowed. "Bunkers are meant to be a hazard," Nicklaus said. "Why have them otherwise?"
That's a good point. Nevertheless, Muirfield Village and most every PGA Tour course still offers ideal conditions. But golf was never meant to be played on courses so produced and contrived that they might as well be domed. Barring wild weather or stupidly narrow fairways and rough so high that there's no shot to play but a hard thwack out, today's courses are mostly the same and mostly boring.
Monday marks one of the best golf days of the year: U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying.
Stars, former stars and hungry mini-tour pros tee it up on a level playing field and just like last year, here are just a few of the "storylines" to watch out for, courtesy of the USGA Media Department.
Storylines for the 2007 U.S. Open From Sectional Qualifying
Bear Creek Country Club ( Murrieta , Calif. ; 74 players for 4 spots)
- Danny Lee , a 16-year-old amateur from New Zealand , was a semifinalist at the 2006 U.S. Junior.
- Eric Meeks of Las Vegas , Nev. , captured the 1988 U.S. Amateur.
- Mike Sica of La Quinta, Calif., managed to shoot a 3-under-par 69 at his local qualifier at Bermuda Dunes (Calif.) C.C. with borrowed clubs because his did not arrive at the airport following a Canadian Tour event. He played with an old set of clubs, his father’s driver and a putter he never had used.
Columbine Country Club ( Littleton , Colo. ; 20 players for 1 spot)
- Dustin White of Pueblo , Colo. , made it through both stages of U.S. Open qualifying in 2006 to qualify for the field at Winged Foot. He missed the cut.
Walton Heath Golf Club ( Surrey , England ; 72 players for 9 spots)
- Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland has represented Europe on five Ryder Cup teams and defeated Tiger Woods in the final of the 2000 World Golf Championship-Accenture Match Play Championship.
- Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain has also competed in seven U.S. Opens and shared runner-up honors in 2000 at Pebble Beach .
- Oliver Wilson represented Great Britain and Ireland at the 2003 Walker Cup Match.
- Francesco Molinari of Italy is the brother of 2005 U.S. Amateur champion Edoardo Molinari .
- Paul Lawrie of Scotland came from 10 strokes back in the final round to win the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie in a playoff over Justin Leonard and Jean Van de Velde .
- Jean Van de Velde of France is known for his 72nd-hole collapse at the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie when he made a triple-bogey 7. He lost in the subsequent playoff to Paul Lawrie .
- Paul McGinley of Ireland holed the Ryder Cup-clinching putt for Europe at the 2002 Matches at The Belfry.
Jupiter Hills Club ( Tequesta , Fla. ; 47 players for 2 spots)
- Fredrik Jacobson of Sweden is a PGA Tour regular who tied for fifth at the 2003 U.S. Open at Olympia Fields.
Hawks Ridge Golf Club (Ball Ground, Ga. ; 36 golfers for 3 spots)
- Peter Marshall , 15, of Lake Forest , Ill. , is the youngest player to advance to sectional qualifying. He turned 15 on Jan. 10. He is one of two 15-year-olds to make it to the sectional qualifying portion of the championship.
- Dave Womack of McDonough , Ga. , won the 2006 U.S. Mid-Amateur title.
- PGA Tour player Jason Dufner of Auburn , Ala. , made the cut at the 2006 U.S. Open and was the runner-up to Trevor Immelman at the 1998 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.
- Hall of Famer Larry Nelson, 59, of Marietta , Ga. , won the U.S. Open in 1983 at Oakmont ( Pa. ) Country Club. Nelson held off defending champion Tom Watson by a stroke. He holed a 62’ birdie putt at the 70th hole.
- Ryan Hybl of Winterville , Ga. , was the runner-up to Dave Womack at the 2006 U.S. Mid-Amateur and currently serves as an assistant men’s golf coach at his alma mater, the University of Georgia .
- PGA Tour player Heath Slocum owns two tour victories, the last coming at the 2005 Southern Farm Bureau Classic. He has only played in one previous U.S. Open, missing the cut in 2002 at Bethpage State Park .
- Matt Kuchar of Atlanta , Ga. , was the 1997 U.S. Amateur champion and represented the USA at the 1999 Walker Cup Match. In 1998, he made the 36-hole cut at both the Masters and U.S. Open.
Riverside Golf Club ( North Riverside , Ill. ; 45 players for 5 spots)
- Len Mattiace of Jacksonville , Fla. , was the runner-up to Mike Weir at the 2003 Masters.
- Nationwide Tour player James Driscoll of Brookline , Mass. , was the runner-up to Jeff Quinney at the 2000 U.S. Amateur and was a member of the 2001 USA Walker Cup team. Driscoll also was the runner-up at the 1995 U.S. Junior.
- Mike Small of Champaign , Ill. , is the head men’s golf coach at the University of Illinois who has also qualified for several PGA Championships.
- Mario Tiziani of Shorewood , Minn. , is the brother-in-law of PGA Tour player Steve Stricker .
- Jeff Overton of Evansville, Ind., was a 2005 USA Walker Cupper who advanced to the semifinals of the 2004 U.S. Amateur.
- Former PGA Tour player Chip Beck, 50, of Lake Forest , Ill. Beck shared second place at the 1986 and ’89 U.S. Opens.
Indian Hills Country Club ( Mission Hills , Kan. ; 22 players for 1 spot)
- Matt Gogel of Mission Hills , Kan. , is a former PGA Tour winner (AT&T National Pro-Am)
Woodmont Country Club ( Rockville , Md. ; 65 players for 5 spots)
- Jonathan Moore of Vancouver , Wash. , won the 2006 NCAA Division I title for Oklahoma State and was a member of the 2006 USA World Amateur Team. He also qualified for the 2006 U.S. Open.
- Brad Faxon of Barrington , R.I. , will be looking to play in his 21 st U.S. Open. The 1983 USA Walker Cupper owns eight PGA Tour wins, the last coming at the 2005 Buick Championship. He has played in 19 U.S. Opens.
- Jordan Byrd of Clemson , S.C. , is the brother of PGA Tour player and former USA Walker Cupper Jonathan Byrd.
- Peter Uihlein , 17, of Bradenton , Fla. , is one of the top junior golfers in the country and the son of Acushnet CEO Wally Uihlein .
- Conrad Ray of Austin , Minn. , is the head men’s golf coach at Stanford University and a former Stanford teammate of Tiger Woods. He got into the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst as an alternate.
- Fred Funk , 51, of Ponte Vedra , Fla. , has won titles on both the PGA and Champions tours this year. He captured the 2005 Players Championship at the age of 48.
Old Oaks C.C./Century C.C. (Purchase, N.Y.; 58 golfers for 3 spots)
- Nationwide Tour player Ricky Barnes of Scottsdale , Ariz. , won the 2002 U.S. Amateur at Oakland Hills. He has qualified for three U.S. Opens, but none since he turned professional.
- Jon McLean of Weston , Fla. , is the son of noted PGA teaching professional Jim McLean . McLean lost to eventual runner-up John Kelly in the third round of the 2006 U.S. Amateur.
OSU Scarlet G.C./Scioto C.C. ( Columbus , Ohio ; 144 players for 24 spots)
- Rocco Mediate of Naples , Fla. , was born in Greensburg , Pa. , near Oakmont. He was paired with Arnold Palmer for the first two rounds in 1994. He later withdrew due to back problems and subsequently had surgery in July of that year.
- Ryan Moore of Puyallup , Wash. , is the only player to win the U.S. Amateur Public Links and U.S. Amateur in the same year (2004). He also won the 2002 APL and was the 2000 U.S. Junior runner-up. He earned low-amateur honors at the 2005 Masters.
- Jonathan Byrd of Sea Island , Ga. , is a former USA Walker Cupper (1999) who now plays on the PGA Tour (two wins). His brother Jordan also is hoping to qualify for the 2007 U.S. Open.
- Edward Loar of Dallas , Texas , was a member of the 1999 USA Walker Cup team.
- Mark O’Meara of Windermere , Fla. , won the 1998 Masters and British Open titles. He also captured the 1979 U.S. Amateur.
- Michael Putnam of Tacoma , Wash. , was a member of the victorious 2005 USA Walker Cup team and a 2005 U.S. Open qualifier.
- Mike Van Sickle of Wexford , Pa. , is the son of Sports Illustrated senior golf writer Gary Van Sickle . He survived a playoff at his local qualifier in Mequon , Wis. , to get the last available spot.
- Tim Mickelson of San Diego , Calif. , is the brother of three-time major champion Phil Mickelson and the head men’s golf coach at the University of San Diego .
- Boo Weekley of Milton, Fla., won his first PGA Tour event at the Verizon Heritage in April .
- Jeff Quinney of Scottsdale , Ariz. , won the 2000 U.S. Amateur and competed on the 2000 USA World Amateur Team and 2001 USA Walker Cup squad. He is a PGA Tour rookie in 2007.
- Kevin Marsh of Las Vegas , Nev. , won the 2005 U.S. Mid-Amateur and also served as the interim head coach for the NCAA Division I champion Pepperdine men’s golf team in 1997 when Coach John Geiberger contracted chicken pox. Marsh is a Pepperdine graduate.
- Bob Ford , 53, of Oakmont , Pa. , is the head professional at Oakmont C.C., the site of the 2007 U.S. Open. Ford made the cut at the 1983 U.S. Open at Oakmont.
- Steve Jones of Tempe , Ariz. , is the 1996 U.S. Open champion. His 10-year exemption for being champion ended last year.
- Jason Gore of Valencia , Calif. , was the darling of the 2005 U.S. Open when he earned a spot alongside Retief Goosen in the final pairing on Sunday, only to shoot an 84. Gore was also a member of the 1997 USA Walker Cup team.
Colonial Country Club ( Memphis , Tenn. ; 117 players for 15 spots)
- John Daly of Memphis , Tenn. , won the 1991 PGA Championship as the ninth alternate and then added a second major title with the 1995 British Open.
- Mark Brooks of Fort Worth, Texas, won the 1996 PGA Championship in a playoff and lost an 18-hole playoff to Retief Goosen at the 2001 U.S. Open.
- Jeff Maggert of The Woodlands, Texas , owns three top-five finishes in 15 U.S. Open appearances, including a pair of thirds (2002 and ’04).
- Bob May of Las Vegas, Nev., was the runner-up to Tiger Woods in a memorable playoff at the 2000 PGA Championship. He was a member of the 1991 USA Walker Cup team.
- Steve Elkington of Australia won the 1995 PGA Championship in a playoff over Colin Montgomerie .
- Hank Kuehne of McKinney, Texas won the 1998 U.S. Amateur. He is the younger brother of 1994 U.S. Amateur runner-up Trip Kuehne and three-time USGA champion Kelli Kuehne .
- Philip Francis , 17, of Scottsdale , Ariz. , won the 2006 U.S. Junior, a year after being a quarterfinalist in the same event. He is headed to UCLA in the fall.
Northwood Club ( Dallas , Texas ; 30 players for 3 spots)
- Justin Leonard of Dallas, Texas, won the 1992 U.S. Amateur and was a member of the 1992 USA World Amateur Team and ’93 Walker Cup squad. He later won the 1997 British Open and was the runner-up at the 1999 British Open and ’04 PGA Championship. He is looking to play in his 12th U.S. Open.
- Cory Whitsett , 15, of Houston , Texas , is the second-youngest player to advance to sectional qualifying. The left-hander qualified for match play at the 2006 U.S. Junior, where he made a hole-in-one in stroke-play qualifying.
- Corey Pavin of Oxnard , Calif. , is the 1995 U.S. Open champion and a member of the 1981 USA Walker Cup team. He’s played on three U.S. Ryder Cup and two U.S. President’s Cup squads. Pavin owns 15 PGA Tour victories.
Olympic Course at Gold Mountain G.C. ( Bremerton , Wash. ; 20 players for 1 spot)
- Erik Hanson of Kirkland , Wash. , is a former major-league pitcher with the Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays and Cincinnati Reds who has previously qualified for the U.S. Mid-Amateur.
Leonard Shapiro reports in the Washington Post that the TPC Avenel redo is still going to be pricey:
At the moment, the course is getting permits approved. The next step is a meeting before the planning board on July 12.
The PGA Tour, Sullivan said, has set the money aside. They'll pour $8 million into the clubhouse, including expansions to dining areas, upgrading locker rooms and new fixtures and furniture. Another $12 million will go into the course, with what Sullivan described as "significant changes in design of tee boxes, bunkers and green complexes, as well as all new bentgrass on the fairways and greens."
$12 million for an existing course! Amazing.
If you haven't read Eric Adelson's account of the disturbing antics that took place with Michelle Wie's Ginn/Annika withdrawal, you must. While Adelson clearly observed some disturbing behavior on the part of B.J. Wie and agent Greg Nared while making some sad observations about Michelle's state of mind, left unanswered are bigger questions about the LPGA Tour's behavior.
According to Adelson, both LPGA Chief Operations Officer Chris Higgs and Commissioner Carolyn Bivens were present at various points in the round, particularly Higgs just before the crucial moment when Wie's wrist magically became unbearable, coincidentally after Nared happened to have spoken to her!
Reader Four-putt brings up an innocent but vital question, namely, why was agent Greg Nared on a cell phone when they are not allowed? That leads to other more vital questions. Was Nared on the phone with someone clarifying the LPGA's rule Rule of 88 rendering 88 shooter's and higher ineligible for the rest of the year? Adelson writes:
Chris Higgs, the LPGA Chief Operations Officer, soon drove up in a cart and spoke with Nared. Higgs had been talking about the Rule of 88 in the media tent, but he said he came out to Wie's ropeline for "no particular reason."
Was Higgs informing Nared that he could not use a cell phone, or was he explaining the Rule of 88?
"No particular reason" doesn't cut it.
Furthermore, let's say Higgs was explaining the Rule of 88 ramifications, did he suggest that Wie should withdraw if she would like to play in LPGA events later in the year? And if so, was Commissioner Carolyn Bivens, who was on the course at points in her round, involved in this discussion?
There have been questions for some time about Carolyn Bivens' regard for the rules of tournament player, dating back to the events that led to Barb Trammell's ouster and to that bizarre Annika-Paula Creamer incident. But this episode may have more significant ramifications because Bivens and here COO were directly involved in the decision and were directly or indirectly communicating with a player on the course through her agent.
And were LPGA officials involved in the decision to explain the reason for the withdrawal so that Wie would not have to in the post round press conference?
This is of course why Tim Finchem gets the big bucks. He wouldn't have been caught dead within three states of such a debacle.
Anyway, I'm sure you all have more questions for the Commissioner, so please post them. Not that she'll likely step into the press tent to answer any.
I kept looking for Stu to sign online this afternoon to discuss the unbelievable antics at the Ginn, and boy is NBC's crew (producing for Golf Channel) getting off the hook without Golf World's intrepid man-of-all-media to scrutinize the inevitable free pass granted the LPGA Tour and Michelle Wie's posse despite their pathetic behavior.
Anyway, on the original post there are some really wonderful remembrances of Stu Schneider from some of golf's media heavyweights and also a nice blog post from Bob Carney over at GolfDigest.com who tantalizingly tells us that Stu was going to be involved in their future website plans. It's just not getting any easier thinking of all the great things we will lose with Stu's passing, from his friendship to his singular sense of humor and to his love of the sport. Though all of that pales compared to what his boys and Linda have lost.
For his friends in the media, hopefully we'll have some details soon on services and where flowers/contributions be sent.
Reader Four-putt shares this:
From GWAA.com: "Arrangements for funeral services for Stu Schneider have been made. All are welcome to attend.
Friday, June 1, at 2 p.m.
Kraeer Funeral Home
1655 University Drive,
Coral Springs, FL. 33071
Sam Weinman reports that the storied club has 2015 in mind for another U.S. Open.
First Ernie Els changes manufacturers, now, according to Steve Elling, it's his putting grip.
It's a cruel sport.
"Soon after her score ballooned to 12-over on the par-72 course, her parents began consulting with each other and William Morris manager Greg Nared, who had a cell phone to his ear."
Eric Adelson at ESPN.com paints a richly detailed, compelling and ultimately stunning portrayal of the events surrounding Michelle Wie's first round WD from the Ginn/Annika event. Thanks to reader Steve for spotting this fine reporting, which you should read in its entirety.
The highlights. Or lowlights.
Wie landed in the bunker on 14, and then came one of the oddest holes of her brief pro career. She pushed her drive into the trees on the par-3 15th, then searched for her ball. Her mother, father, caddie and a family friend helped look for it before she called an unplayable lie.
Then Wie's father, B.J., said something to her caddie. More than one reporter present heard him say, "What about the tee?" Within seconds, Michelle decided to go back to the tee to hit again. She told her playing partners to putt out as she walked back to the beginning of the hole.
Playing partner Janice Moodie cautioned B.J. about Rule 8-1, which forbids a player from soliciting advice. "During a stipulated round," the rule states, "a player must not ... ask for advice from anyone other than his partner or either of their caddies." The penalty is two strokes. After Wie blocked her second shot and ended up with a triple-bogey, B.J. approached rules official Angus McKenzie and spoke with him for several minutes while his daughter moved to the next hole. McKenzie said later that B.J. had an explanation for the interaction, saying that he was only asking the caddie, "What are the options?"
Technically, there is no rules violation, since Michelle did not actively ask for help. But McKenzie told B.J., "When in doubt, don't."
Sharp had the same concerns. "Anybody can say something from outside the ropes," she said. "But he was too close. He's always so close to her. You're going to get your daughter in trouble. Everyone at the range was talking about it."
Oh but it gets worse. Much worse.
Meanwhile, Wie's body language began to match her game. She slumped her shoulders and sighed repeatedly. She showed little energy, even in the form of frustration, trudging along to her ball and taking less than the usual time lining up putts. She said almost nothing to her playing partners or to her caddie. And no wonder. Her round felt like a geological excursion, going from water to pavement to sand to tall grass.
Then came the bottom: the par-5 third hole. Wie's tee shot veered out of bounds, into a street, and down a storm drain. LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens, who suddenly appeared on the fringe of the fairway, stood by as a little boy got on his hands and knees to peer into the drain in search of the ball. Wie played a provisional and hooked that into a pond. She walked toward the street in hopes of finding her ball, then turned and retraced her steps to the tee for the second time during the round. She eventually carded a quintuple-bogey 10, and stood at 12-over after 12 holes.
Now missing the cut became the least of Wie's troubles. The somewhat obscure Rule of 88 states that a non-member who shoots 88 is forced to withdraw and subsequently banned from LPGA co-sponsored events for the remainder of the calendar season. Wie said later that she never considered the possibility, but soon after her score ballooned to 12-over on the par-72 course, her parents began consulting with each other and William Morris manager Greg Nared, who had a cell phone to his ear. Chris Higgs, the LPGA Chief Operations Officer, soon drove up in a cart and spoke with Nared. Higgs had been talking about the Rule of 88 in the media tent, but he said he came out to Wie's ropeline for "no particular reason."
Wie's score climbed to 14-over, and then, after finishing up on the seventh hole, Nared spoke to Wie briefly before she announced, "We're not going to play anymore."
Wie had a 43 on the front and was at 7-over 35 on the back -- two bogeys shy of 88. She shook hands with her competitors, glumly climbed into a cart, and rode to the clubhouse, where she met behind closed doors with her parents and Nared. The four spoke for 15 minutes, then an ice pack was brought in for Wie's left wrist. Wie then walked to the media tent without the ice pack.
Oh but yes, there's even more.
So why did she withdraw?
An LPGA official answered that question for her, saying, "Michelle, thank you for coming in after your withdrawal from the tournament because of your wrist. Are you optimistic from here on out once your wrist does heal?"
Wie's reply: "Yeah, it felt good when I was practicing but I kind of tweaked it in the middle of the round a little bit. So just taking cautionary measures, and I know what to work on. The only way to go up from here is up, so I'm feeling pretty good about it."
Later, she elaborated: "Well, I think that when an injury is in the back of your mind, you're thinking, 'Oh, this is going to hurt.' The last thing you're thinking about is trying to hit the ball straight.'
That, combined with her stilted follow through, shows that her injury has not healed. And yet Wie did not shake her wrist or show any sign of discomfort during the round. Last season, she grabbed her wrist on several occasions, even during press conferences.
"She wasn't holding her wrist," Sharp said. "I think she just had a bad day. If it was her wrist, why wait until the last two holes [to withdraw]?"
That question will probably never be answered. Nor will the question of what happened with her father and her caddie on the fifth hole. "I don't know," Wie told reporters. "It's a long way back."
And it's a long way back for Wie herself. The withdrawal will not affect her world ranking, but she has not broken par in an LPGA event since last July. That doesn't include all the trouble she's faced in recent men's events. The season's second major awaits next week at the LPGA Championship in Maryland, and -- assuming she plays -- she will face more questions about her withdrawal, her wrist, her swing, and the involvement of her parents. But the most worrisome question may be about her state of mind.
"I kind of felt bad for her," Sharp said. "She didn't seem happy."
"If they want to learn the business, they've got to pay their dues and go and work under some other people."
Thanks to reader Tom for this Lewine Mair piece on Jack Nicklaus criticizing player architects for mailing in designs. Oy vey...Jack. You can't have your son-in-law designing courses under your name and go on rants like this!
The ball, fine. But come on, this?
Jack Nicklaus has let the cat out of the bag. In an interview for CNN, to appear on Saturday, Nicklaus confirms that there are top golfers who have lent their names to courses which they have never clapped eyes on.Nicklaus is interviewed on CNN International's Living Golf on Saturday at 6:30pm.
Nicklaus does not include Tiger Woods, whose first design project is under way in Dubai. Though he begins by saying: "Tiger doesn't know anything about designing golf courses at the moment", he makes it clear that when Woods lends his name to a project, "you know it's going to be good".
It is more the general trend of tour players assuming the role of designers with which Nicklaus is so uncomfortable. "There's a lot of fellas out here who know how to play the game, but they don't really understand a golf course," he says. "If they want to learn the business, they've got to pay their dues and go and work under some other people. That way, they'll not only be able to use their name to produce a facility, but they'll produce a facility they're proud of.
"What you don't want," he continues, "is to have people saying, 'This is a Joe Jones' course' when Joe Jones was probably never there."
Let's hope this isn't serious and was a precautionary move. It's his left, which I can tell you is no fun, having had problems in the equivalent wrist for righties.
I don't know about you, but I'm having a hard time feeling good about B.J. Wie these days.
Asian Tour's executive chairman Kyi Hla Han said: "We have not been informed or approached by the European Tour on its proposed idea.
"The Asian Tour has an existing co-sanction programme with the European Tour. If new proposals are put forward to the Asian Tour, it will be evaluated based on its benefit to the Asian Tour.
"As a member of the Federation of International PGA Tours, the Asian Tour will continue to work closely with other tours to promote the growth of golf throughout the world.
"As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour appreciate the integrity of the other international tours in discussing with us new playing opportunities that may arise in Asia.
"We are fully focused on initiatives to strengthen the Asian Tour where the goal is to create greater playing opportunities for our members.
"We have enjoyed steady growth over the last few years and our forecast is that the Asian Tour will continue to grow in line with the strengthening of the economy in Asia."
Golfweek's Beth Ann Baldry offers this from Wednesday's LPGA media session with Michelle Wie.
Getting information from the Wie camp these days is nearly impossible. Actually, talking to Michelle about her injuries up until this week was not an option. Her agent, Greg Nared, and her father, B.J. Wie, forward all requests to Jesse Derris, the family spokesman who works for Ken Sunshine Consultants. And even then answers about the state of her injuries or upcoming schedule are vague at best.
Tuesday, finally, reporters had a chance to pepper Wie with questions and still, no answers. It’s almost as if the teenager bumped her head in the fall and now suffers from amnesia.
Question: When did you start practicing?
Wie: Well, I mean I’m not really sure. I forget. A lot’s been going on.
Which is funny because Wie frequently talked about how bored she got sitting on the couch when she couldn’t practice earlier this year.
“Truthfully, it kind of sucked,” said Wie of the time off. “Before I was like, ‘Oh God, I don’t want to practice. I don’t want to work out.’ But when I’m sitting on my butt all day watching TV it was like ‘I want to go out and work out and practice.’ ”
Wie is missing her high school graduation to play in this week’s event.
Question: When is that graduation, and what will the time be here when you’re supposed to graduate?
Wie: I don’t really know, actually.
Strange. Most seniors have that epic date etched on their brains. Wie said she gave the school her picture and joked that a full-size cardboard cutout would stand in her place.
Question: Well, now that we can talk to someone other than Derris, can you tell us little bit about the extent of your injuries?
Wie: Well, I don’t really want to go back into the past and talk about the injuries. ... It’s all better now and I don’t think that talking about the injury will help me or anyone.
Glad we got that cleared up.
Thanks to LPGA Fan for spotting the Brand Lady's interview in what seems like ages. From Charleston's Post and Courier (she saves her time for the big platforms!), interviewed by Tommy Braswell:
When you first took over as LPGA commissioner, there seemed to be a lot of controversy. But things have settled down. Are you happy with the LPGA's direction now?
"I'll speak for myself and my staff.
That's right, only you be so presumptuous!
We're very happy with the direction things are going. We made some changes and went through all the bumps in the road last year. We're in a much stronger position this year. We've added three new tournaments. And redoing a little bit of our schedule has made a difference for the players and, I think, the attendance at some of the events. We're very strongly focused on next year, and several of us are working on years 2009 and out. I think not only what you see this year, but what you'll see in 2008, 2009 and 2010, you'll really see the direction the LPGA is headed."
When you first came to the LPGA did you expect it to be a smooth transition?
"I knew that making change wasn't going to be easy. What I did underestimate was how public it was going to be."
And whose fault is that again?
Your thoughts on drug testing?
"We are being proactive for a couple of reasons. Number one is that our sport in Europe already has been testing for several years. We were almost tested at Evian last year. So we need to get into the world in which we compete. Number two, I do believe with a group of women it's a little different in terms of drug testing. From the time women are 17, 18 years old, there are certain hormones one takes until the time they're 50 to 55 years old. So we have a much bigger job of education before implementing drug testing. We wanted the opportunity to do this in the right way and to educate women and be ready as opposed to having to react to something."
Why can't she be that coherent on other issues?
What's your take on the LPGA's TV ratings?
"They're up overall. They're up again, 2005 over 2004, 2006 over 2005, and so far (in 2007) they're up again."
What kind of goals do you have regarding TV ratings?
"We did start from a smaller base, but so did the Champions Tour and so do a lot of other sports. Nonetheless, we're the only ones bucking the trend. Our trend line is in the right direction. The specific numbers for the Ginn Open (an April event in Florida) was 1.3, which is one great rating.
Let's not jump for joy just yet!
And the last three hours going to The Golf Channel, it was 410,000, which again is a very big number. There's no way you can attribute it to anything else but the women and the caliber of play."Jeese, you'd think she just outdrew the final night of American Idol!
Have the young faces helped?
"No question, newness does have an interest. But make no mistake, Juli Inkster and some of the others have very big followings.
I mean, who isn't checking her scores hourly?
I think it's the combination of having the Morgan Pressels and the Juli Inksters still out there and still being competitive. Juli is not out there as a hobby. She's still winning tournaments and finishing in the top 10. It's the combination that makes the product so exciting. There's nothing else like it in sports."
Ah the product. And here we are 400 words into this and not one brand reference!
South Carolina has a mixed history with LPGA tournaments. What's the secret of keeping tournaments?
"The LPGA has done a pretty good job of keeping tournaments. One of the things is matching up the corporate sponsor, a good golf course and a community where you can get volunteers and available TV times. It's a Rubik's Cube, it all has to fit together.
I thought we were going to try to cut down on the metaphors, Carolyn?
Reader Patrick noted this David Davies story on Ernie Els after reading the Morfit piece on Tiger perhaps being overstretched. It's fascinating to hear a player agent go into such detail and so clearly see that his man is taking on too much.
Els, amiable though he is, is hardly the man to ask such a question of, but his manager, Andrew 'Chubby' Chandler, is fair-minded almost to a fault about such matters. And so the question was put and one of the more significant points about his answer was the length of time he took - a good 30 seconds - before starting his reply. If there was no rush to judgment, equally he was not going to deny the validity of the question itself.
'I don't know,' he said eventually. 'His injury [to a knee late in 2005] got him out of the habit of winning tournaments and there's no doubt it's hard to get back. One thing he has got to do is decide how he sees his future and I'll be sitting down with him, probably tonight, to talk about that.
'Part of the problem is that he changes his mind, he's not got a definite policy or plan. He feels that in order to win majors you've got to play at least some of the time in America, but Ernie is a global player and he tries to play in Europe and Asia and America and that's tough. Particularly when he is more and more attached to Wentworth - he's a great family man and he loves it there.'
Els has two children, Samantha, eight, and Ben, four, and it does get harder and harder to leave them. At the start of this week the South African said that he was looking forward to it for several reasons, including a birthday party for Samantha on Friday.
'My wife is hosting the wives and all kinds of stuff, so it's a nice week for us.' Wholly commendable, but is the focus on winning quite as sharp as once it was?
'Ernie is probably the most popular golfer on the planet,' continued Chandler. 'He's in massive demand, so much so that not even I realised when he signed on with us quite how big he was globally. Seven-figure offers come in from all over the place and in some ways he's a victim of his own success.
'Something has got to go and only he can decide what it is. But I don't think he has to play on the US Tour in order to win majors. I think he has already proved that and so have others in the past.
'He's seen as second only to Tiger as the man sponsors want to play in their event. It's flattering and hard to turn down, but he's got to decide where he goes from here.
'Anyway, to come back to your question, I don't think we've seen the last of Ernie. I think he'll win another major and, if he does, he'll go on and win three, or more.'
It is with profound and deep sadness that word comes of Stu Schneider's passing. In recent years Stu was a major contributor to Golf World, bringing new life to the magazine with his humorous and always thorough TV-Rewind column as well as through his epic one-liners in the magazine's "Front Nine." I know many people kept their subscriptions just for the laughs Stu brought them each week.
On a personal note, Stu was one of the first people to give me a chance in the writing world when he hired me while he was the editor at Golfweb. He was also tremendously influential in my recent writing work, particularly this blog. You may also recall that Stu was the first subject of an instant message interview here. And for me, though I hadn't actually talked to Stu on the phone in a couple of years or seen him in even longer, we "talked" almost daily via instant message. I leaned on Stu for his thoughts on whether I'd gone over the top with a post, and I'd like to think on occasion that a few of our always enjoyable exchanges inspired a few of his lines.
In recent weeks he'd suffered a relapse of the colitis bout he'd had over the holidays. During The Players Championship he was not online and I later learned from him that he pretty much watched the entire thing in the hospital and filed his column from bed. He did it for his family. I can't tell you how many times he had to cut short an IM conversation for "the best part of the day." Putting the kids to bed.
Having not seen him online the last few days I grew concerned and learned of the sad news from his editor and dear friend Geoff Russell, who he thought the world of and to whom he was incredibly loyal and grateful for giving Stu an opportunity to bring an edge to the otherwise staid world of golf coverage.
He will truly be missed. And as Stu would always say at the end of an IM, cya.
"Certainly it won't be a World Tour--that's far too grand for me to come up with--but there might be a name change."
It looks like a couple of startling developments on this idea of the European Tour becoming a World Tour.
First this, thanks to reader Four-putt, which I missed over the weekend and was certainly a lot more interesting from George O'Grady's mouth than his Tiger-comes-to-Dunhill nonsense:
"The idea of amalgamating with other tours to put on a really attractive schedule, by whatever name we call it, is one that we are in the final stages of refining," European Tour executive director George O'Grady said Sunday.Fast forward...
"Certainly it won't be a World Tour -- that's far too grand for me to come up with -- but there might be a name change."
"We're the European Tour and we're working with all our partners to make, I would say, a hugely strong alternative to the PGA Tour," O'Grady said.AP's Doug Ferguson then looks at the escalating rhetoric between the Tours and drops this:
Ed Moorhouse, co-chief operating officer at the PGA Tour, recalls preliminary talks about a WGC event the week before or after the British Open, but it never got beyond that.Whoa Nellie! Yes, Mr. Ferguson just declared the federation of Tours co-sponsorting the WGC's dead in the water.
"It's fair to say we didn't go into a lot of details because it was fairly obvious they didn't want to entertain a WGC in Europe," Waters said in a telephone interview. "It was most disappointing."
The tournament that got most of the attention was Loch Lomond, home of the Barclays Scottish Open held a week before the British Open. Loch Lomond was interested, and Waters said he was certain Barclays would have been willing to up the ante.
One reason the PGA Tour balked was it had obligations to the John Deere Classic, held the same week in Illinois.
That's why the federation has run its course. It's hard to take it seriously when Finchem, who heads up the federation, has too many competing interests.
Is it conceivable thatl the Euro/World Tour will pull out of the WGC sanctioning?
Frankly, I can't see how the WGC's are good for the game in any way at this point other than for making the top players a lot more money.
And frankly part 2, wouldn't this all have been avoided if the WGC events were actually played outside of the United States on occasion?
After Tiger's pre-AT&T National press conference today where he talked about the setup of Congressional, golf.com's Cameron Morfit wonders if Tiger is taking on a bit too much at the expense of his game.
And he's hip-deep in the first project of Tiger Woods Design, a lavish golf course in Dubai called Al Ruwaya. The project has been such a challenge that he hesitated when asked Monday if he'd consider building a track to host his tournament, like Nicklaus did.
"I don't know," Woods said. "I'm still working on my very first golf course, and it is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I don't know how Jack has designed over 250 golf courses around the world. It's mind-boggling because this first one is very difficult."
All of which could explain why Woods has looked so "beatable," to use Rory Sabbatini's word, at the sport that made possible the extracurriculars. Even after he won Wachovia in his second-to-last start, his third victory of 2007, all anyone could talk about was how un-Tiger-like he looked. The effect was unmistakable when he donned mirrored sunglasses while finishing in the middle of the pack at the Players two weeks ago; Woods was suddenly just another golfer.
Is his peripatetic schedule taking its toll? Only Woods knows for sure. "It's hard," he said Monday when asked how he's been able to focus on his golf. "Still got to have my workouts, my daily workouts, as well as practice. It's certainly been tested. Thankfully, I don't sleep much."
My alma mater missed by two, so like any good intensely self involved American, my interest is already fading. Because it's all about me.