Expect to see Tiger Woods take another visit to Oakmont before U.S. Open week. Woods was there a couple of weeks ago for an American Express outing. But according to Woods, the course wasn't really in game shape and he wants to take another look as Oakmont comes into its own with rough and faster greens.
While Woods is unwilling to commit to his schedule before the U.S. Open, it is widely believed he will play Memorial in Columbus, just a short hop for Woods in his private jet from Oakmont.
Greens should be an adventure. The game should not end when the ball is safely on the green. Up to 1953, there was one set of rules for golf. It was called "through the green" and you didn't touch the ball until it was to lift it out of the cup, unless perhaps, it was in somebody's way and you moved it to allow them to putt….Today you hit a ball onto the green, mark it, pick it up, put it in your pocket, wipe it, even change it. Then, when it's your turn, you put it back. If there's a pitch mark, you repair it. None of this happens outside the green and it shouldn't happen on the green. PETER THOMSON
Okay, would Tiger do this at a major? I don't think so.
And then John Huggan gets all cynical in the East Lothian Shopper On Sunday, dismantling many of the romantic notions we had fostered this week (well before the Kenny G announcement).
Real majors have their own identity, they don't copy other majors. They don't start off being the Tournament Players Championship, switch to the Players Championship, then again to the Players, in a feeble effort to sound more like the Masters. Real majors don't have pro-ams, as the Players used to before the PGA Tour noticed that the Masters, US Open and Open manage to get by without shamelessly dipping into the deep corporate pockets of people who can't break 100 on their best days. Real majors don't change their dates because everyone pitches up thinking about the Masters. Only wannabe majors do those things.
Real majors are not run by organisations that claim to have given over $1bn to charity when the reality is that they have done no such thing. Just so you know, it is the tournaments on the PGA Tour that do so much good for those in need, not the Tour itself, a subtle but important distinction.
Oh, one more thing, real majors really don't care how many Fed-Ex Cup points are available for a victory. Or who led the week in the "bounce-back" statistical category. Or who missed most fairways on the right.
10 The bottom line? The Players just isn't a real major. As that master of succinctness, US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, said last week: "It is not a career-defining win." Enough said. Now, can we move on please?
But it was reader JT who had to throw wrench in the whole thing by noticing the subtitle of John Feinstein's new book, where he writes about the fifth major. Only it's Q-School he's calling the fifth of four majors!
Golf Digest's style editor needs to get his hands on Nathan Green's hat collection so that he can replace those gap-backed one with something providing better sun protection. Or at least outfit Green with some Kiehl's Vital Sun Protection. Anything to lose that Mikael Gorbachev-esque tan spot seen during Saturday's Players Championship third round as he shook hands with Phil Mickelson.
Over at golf.com, they're making sure to take in all of the conspicuous consumption in Ponte Vedra. Alan Shipnuck first:
For starters, it appears that having a flossed-out BMW is as standard for Tour players as a significant other who looks like a cocktail waitress. Vaughn Taylor, Stuart Appleby, Richard S. Johnson, J.B. Holmes, Ian Poulter and Chris DiMarco are among those driving Beemers, with all but Taylor's being souped-up Motorsport editions. Bonus points to Poulter for his sweet M5 with chrome rims and an IAN P vanity plate.And Michael Bamberger, writing about the perks as well as the cost to stay and play at Sawgrass:
Another popular genre is the macho truck. Vijay Singh drives a hulking black Dodge SRT-10, Hunter Mahan a Ford that looks like the spawn of Big Foot and Peter Lonard a slammed Lincoln Blackwood. The choice of SUVs is also revealing: Camillo Villegas a sleek Porsche Cayenne Turbo, Frank Lickliter a beefy, politically incorrect Hummer H2, Luke Donald a vanilla Escalade.
Best car in the lot? That's easy: Nick Faldo's Maybach.
As for Tiger and Phil, they toed the company line, rolling SUVs from Buick and Ford, respectively. I guess when you've made tens of millions of dollars endorsing car companies, you don't have to show off.
It's a public course, in a manner of speaking. Not this week - what with the Players Championship clogging up the place - but any other week you can stay at the Ponte Vedra Marriott and play the Stadium Course for $350, which includes your cart, and, get this, your caddie. Tres chic.
The whole thing is about getting the private-club treatment at a semi-public resort course. The new clubhouse is so mammoth that it blocks out the fierce wind for anyone sitting on the veranda. Take the White House, add a few West Wings, top it off with a massive, Spanish, red-tile roof, and you have the new clubhouse. Spiffy.
In the dining room, there's a large fireplace stuffed with faux wood, and above it, an oil painting featuring a scorecard, virgin tees and a bottle of 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon bearing the name Commissioners Private Reserve. There's that word again, private. No half-crushed cans of Miller Lite spoiling this still life.
The Commissioners Private Reserve? Why haven't I gotten my bottle yet Mr. Commissioner?
I walked in late and had other TiVo priorities, so I only caught Johnny Miller's comment about the TPC Sawgrass's much ballyhood "layer of GoreTex" failing on both the fairways and greens.
It is remarkable to see how little roll there is. Did it rain Friday night? Did anyone catch Johnny's exact comment?
Did you notice that Tiger's sunglasses were not worn while hitting any tee or fairway shots during round 2? Ah except for bunker shots from the TPC Sawgrass's (ridiculous) blinding white stuff.
Courtesy of golf.com...
Stephen Ames, you're off the hook!
Tiger, responding to Rory Sabbatini's inexplicably stupid (even for him) comment about Tiger being "more beatable than ever":
Q. Did you have a reaction to what Rory said yesterday about how he thinks you might be more beatable now than ever?
TIGER WOODS: Well, if I remember the quote correctly, he said he likes the new Tiger. I figure I've won 9 out of 12 and I've won three times this year, the same amount he's won in his career. So I like the new Tiger, as well.
Tiger 1, Rory 0.
I bickered today via instant message with one of the game's great scribblers over the merits of Sawgrass's 17th hole about midway through the 50 balls finding "Pete's Pool."
This scribe hates it. I love it as a once-a-year, one-of-a-kind spectacle even if in high winds it gets silly. (Oh, and I'm still not wild about the front hole location, but I love Sunday's back right spot).
On the Golf Channel's Post Game Show, Brandel Chamblee didn't hesitate to call the hole unfair and ridiculous.
Before you weigh in, here's Jeff Babineau on today's spectacle:
A year ago, 57 golf balls plummeted their way to watery deaths at the famed Island Hole. That was over four rounds. Thursday’s opening round at The Players nearly matched it. Playing in the final group of the day, Doug Labelle II and Bo Van Pelt deposited balls 49 and 50 into Pete’s Pool. The scoring average on the hole was 3.699, and there were nearly three times as many double bogeys (23) and “others” (12) as birdies (12).
Debate it at any 19th hole as long as you’d like – is 17 a good hole or freaky sideshow? – but the only thing the 17th lacks on its vast teeing area is a spot for medics to perform EKG tests. Amazing that such a little golf hole can cause such high anxiety.
Is it, ugh...unfair? Silly? Brilliant? A masterful match play hole and lame stroke play hole?
...in our second annual fifth-of-four majors watch. Ken Carpenter of The Golf Gazette has blown by the field to claim the trophy given only to a golf writer so desperate for column material that he declares The Players Championship a major.
At a special ceremony (time and location TBD), Carpenter will receive the bronze statuette featuring a tweed-cap wearing male reading PGA Tour Partners while seated on the toilet of a media center Port-O-Potty.
Pundits, have you ever seen such a clear cut winner?
Since no one else will step up, I guess I’ll just have to say it.
The Players is a major championship.
There. How hard was that?
Who’s to say what is or isn’t a major? By whose authority does a golf tournament earn that distinction? No one’s authority. There is no czar of golf. Old Tom Morris did not pass down some engraved tablets to Francis Ouimet spelling out the requirements for a major.
So, let’s stop all the veiled questions and nonsensical arguments.
The Players is a major championship.
And this is before he found out Kenny G would be serenading the champion Sunday night!
More award winning writing:
In defense of the tournament that offers the biggest purse, the richest winner’s share, and the deepest field in golf, here are nine more reasons why …
The Players is a major championship.
1) There are no amateurs or club pros in The Players. In all of the other so-called major tournaments, a significant portion of the field has no chance to make the cut, let alone win the tournament. The Club Pro champion hasn’t made the cut at the PGA Championship since 1983. The U.S. Amateur champion has made the cut in eight of the past 20 Masters, and eight of the past 19 U.S. Opens. (Quick – Can you name the reigning U.S. Am champ? Answer below.)
2) The Players has a 156-man field. The Masters, which is not much more than a big member-guest outing with good TV coverage, routinely has fewer than 100 real competitors, not counting the amateurs and septuagenarians who clutter up the proceedings.
3) Many major champions have also won The Players. There have been 33 victories distributed among 27 different men at The Players, and 19 of them have also won at least one of the other four majors. So adjust Jack Nicklaus’ major total to 21, Tiger Woods’ to 13 and let’s go play.
And add 1 to Jodie Mudd's total!
4) The Players is played in Florida. Florida has more golf courses than any other state. Florida is home to the PGA Tour, the LPGA Tour, the Duramed Futures Tour, the PGA of America, the World Golf Village, the World Golf Hall of Fame and The First Tee program. The best golf state deserves a major championship, and since the U.S. Open and PGA Championship are played in midsummer – as if Tulsa, Okla., is any cooler than Orlando in August -- and the British Open will go to Dubai or China before it ever comes here, The Players is the choice.
I've always believed that the home of the Duramed Futures Tour offices makes The Players major-worthy! Finally someone listens.
5) The Players has the history and the tradition. Deane Beman’s brainchild has spanned the generations – Sam Snead (born 1912), Julius Boros (1920), Arnold Palmer (1929), Billy Casper (1931), Gary Player (1935) and Tom Watson (1949) played in it. Boros and son Guy played in it, Jack Nicklaus and son Gary played in it, Al Geiberger and son Brent played in it, Dave Stockton and Dave Jr. played in it. This year marks the 34th renewal of The Players, and anything contested in four different decades qualifies as traditional.
And I've always said, if both Dave Sr. and Dave Jr. have played in your event, it's a major!
6) The most famous hole in golf often decides The Players. Love it or hate it, No. 17 on the Stadium Course is the single most recognizable hole in the game. Mention “the island green,” and every golf fan instantly knows what you’re talking about. It’s also offers best spectator viewing area, where the average fans sit in front of the skyboxes. Now, name the signature hole at Oakmont Country Club, host of this year’s U.S. Open? In this year’s PGA, which of the 18 will be the most dramatic hole at Southern Hills Country Club? Not even the members can say for sure.
7) The PGA Tour deserves at least one major. Why should the United States Golf Association, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (Scotland), the PGA of America and Augusta National Golf Club have dibs on the majors when they stage just one event a year? The PGA Tour is the entity that has changed the game, and the Tour is made up of its players. The Players is a major championship, for the players.
8) International stars build their schedules around The Players.
Eh...not so sure about that one Ken.
Especially now that the tournament dates have been changed, the world’s top golfers can plan their preparation for The Masters in April, The Players in May, the U.S. Open in June, the British Open in July and the PGA in August. Beautiful synergy.
9) The golf course is great. Once decried as “tricked up,” and even ridiculed for its spectator-friendly design, the Stadium Course has evolved into an outstanding track that the players love. Some of Pete “Diabolical” Dye’s hard-edged design has softened over the years, but the course remains a very solid test of shotmaking, from the first tee to the 18th green.
Do you need more reasons why The Players is a major championship? There’s the front nine, you come up with the back nine.
Oh, let's not.
...PGATour.com more specifically. It seems that in the event of Tropical Storm Andrea making landfall Sunday evening, the Tour has enlisted Kenny G to serenade the champion, thus ensuring that all but close family and friends will stick around for this low point in
major championship The Players history.
Thanks to reader Robert for this April Fool's Day worthy item:
In the first year of a new tradition, immediately following THE PLAYERS Championship closing ceremony on the TPC Clubhouse event lawn on Sunday, May 13, internationally-renowned musician and avid golfer Kenny G will perform a salute to the 2007 PLAYERS champion.
Does this mean he's going to do this every year? Or is there still hope they might enlist Celine Dion for year two? Fingers crossed here...
"It's a year of firsts for THE PLAYERS, and we looked for opportunities to enhance the Closing Ceremony to give guests a special finale to the tournament," said Executive Director Brian Goin. "We hope the crowning of a new champion coupled with a musical performance by Kenny G will be an ideal conclusion to a very special PLAYERS Championship on Mother's Day."
By the way, whose idea was it to end this thing on Mother's Day?
This was buried deep in the story...
Jones' involvement is no guarantee, though, that Cog Hill will get its coveted U.S. Open.
''I wish the USGA was talking to us,'' Jemsek said, ''but they're not.''
Thanks to reader Jordan for noticing this bizarre plan for the Old Course and this summer's Women's British Open...
At the last men's British Open, the course was stretched to more than 7,000 yards. For the women, it will be a tournament-record 6,638 yards with a par of 73. The 17th hole, known as the Road Hole, will be stretched to 453 yards as a par-5.
So for the men in 2005, the fairway contour juts in to stop the men from hitting wedge in (see aerial to the left), while the hole is too long for the women? I don't think so.
The 17th hole "Pipeline" on PGATour.com is working very well and seems to be a much slicker telecast than Amen Corner Live. Non-annoying announcers, multiple camera angles and few commercials. Oh and great sound on the tee too so that you can hear some of the pre-shot discussions.
Tod Leonard reports on the cash cow that the Torrey Pines U.S. Open is becoming and boy just in the knick of time to help pay those pesky USGA employees who expect things like...health benefits! Damn people!
“It has gone extremely well,” Griffin said. “We are at or beyond any other Open in terms of general inventory sales and gross dollar sales. People were really starved for something like this, and they have really embraced the opportunity.”
We're moving inventory! That's what happens when you have good product. Just ask Tony Montana.
“It has been terrific, as good as it gets,” said Pete Bevacqua, the USGA's managing director for all U.S. Opens.
The Open by which all other Opens will be judged – at least before Torrey Pines – is the 2002 event at Bethpage Black on Long Island that generated enormous interest because it was the first Open to be staged on a state-operated facility where everyday golfers regularly played.
Bethpage smashed attendance records, drawing 297,500 fans for the week, and Golfweek magazine reported the gross earnings likely exceeded $100 million for the nonprofit USGA, which uses the money to stage all of its other championships and support its golf programs.
There was an enormous city of 78 hospitality tents at Bethpage that cost as much as $175,000 apiece.
At Torrey Pines, the first municipal course to host an Open, there will be about 60 tents in three villages on the North Course (many of them going for $210,000 each for the week), but there are 11 other hospitality areas, mostly situated in the Lodge, that well exceed $175,000.