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Books
  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
  • The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Art of Golf Design
    The Art of Golf Design
    by Michael Miller, Geoff Shackelford
  • Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Golden Age of Golf Design
    The Golden Age of Golf Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford
Current Reading
  • The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    by Chris Millard
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • The Early Days of Pinehurst
    The Early Days of Pinehurst
    by Chris Buie
  • Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    by Bill Fields
  • The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    by Gil Capps
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir
    by Dan Jenkins
Classics
  • Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    by Geo. C. Thomas
  • The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    Treewolf Prod
  • Reminiscences Of The Links
    Reminiscences Of The Links
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast, Richard C. Wolffe, Robert S. Trebus, Stuart F. Wolffe
  • Gleanings from the Wayside
    Gleanings from the Wayside
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast
  • Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    by Darius Oliver
  • Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    by Darius Oliver
Writing And Videos

We borrowed golf from Scotland as we borrowed whiskey. Not because it is Scottish, but because it is good. HORACE HUTCHINSON

 

    

Monday
Jun182007

"Woods’s lack of impact on anything other than the marketability of golf has been achieved by virtue of his banality."

The Times' Matthew Syed considers the positioning branding something or other of hot new grand prix driver Lewis Hamilton in the context of Tiger Woods.

Lewis Hamilton will soon become familiar with the rules of this depressing game. Even now the 22-year-old, who was competing to win a second consecutive Formula One grand prix in Indianapolis yesterday, is being schooled in the art of saying nothing. His handlers recognise that by presenting their client as a blank canvas it will be easier to persuade multinationals to emblazon him with their logos. Like Jordan, he will soon become a walking billboard.

Hamilton has been compared with Tiger Woods, but for all the wrong reasons. Many have suggested that his ethnicity — he was the first driver of black heritage to win a grand prix — will inspire a new generation of young black drivers to enter the Formula One paddock in the same way that Woods has transformed the demographics of professional golf. But this is a pipedream — and not just because of the formidable economic barriers to entry in Formula One.

The truth is that Woods has not had anything like the influence on global black consciousness that his cheerleaders suggest. Not one black player has joined the PGA tour since Woods turned professional in 1996 and there has not been a black player in the Ladies Professional Golf Association since 2000. There are today no home players from an ethnic-minority background playing on tour and of the 60 teenagers in the English Golf Union’s elite programme only two come from minorities.

We should not be surprised by any of this. How could Woods become a role model for young people from, say, the ghettos of South Central Los Angeles when his target constituency is across town among those who can afford the mark-up on his red Nike replica shirts?

Woods’s lack of impact on anything other than the marketability of golf has been achieved by virtue of his banality. He has managed to present a public persona of such blandness that few people can remember him taking a stand on anything except the stern of his $20 million yacht. When he was asked to criticise the men-only policies of some private golf clubs he declined, saying that it was a matter for them. His press conferences are a masterclass in insipidness that drain the soul.

Monday
Jun182007

“We’ve got to get back to basics, back to A.W. Tillinghast, to Donald Ross-type courses"

Lee Trevino tells the Boston Herald's Joe Gordon:

“I’m real concerned about golf because we’re losing golfers every day,” Trevino said. “Golf has declined since 2000. The PGA, the USGA - no one is doing a damned thing about it. And I’ll tell you what the (problem) is: It’s too expensive to play and the reason is that these courses they’re building are too difficult and the maintenance is too high. People can’t play them, they lose too many balls. It takes too long to play.”
And...
“We’ve got to get back to basics, back to A.W. Tillinghast, to Donald Ross-type courses,” he said. “They’re 7,000 yards long and tight, but without a lot of water or hazards, so people can get around. I want to get into it full time because I’m 67 and I don’t play much any more. I’ve got nothing but time.”
Monday
Jun182007

2007 U.S. Open Ratings Up

Take that David Stern!

From PGATour.com:

With Tiger Woods back stalking the lead, the U.S. Open's television ratings made a big jump from a year ago.

Sunday's final round on NBC earned a 7.0 overnight rating and a 17 share, up 37 percent from last year's 5.1/12 after Woods missed the cut. It was the best Sunday overnight rating since a 9.3/21 in 2002, when Woods won at Bethpage.

Overnight ratings measure the 55 largest TV markets in the United States, and each ratings point represents about 735,000 households. The rating is the percentage watching a telecast among homes with televisions, and the share is the percentage tuned into a broadcast among those households with televisions on at the time.
It's down to 735,000 households now for each ratings point? Oh right, the changing media landscape...

 

Monday
Jun182007

A Few More Monday U.S. Open Clippings

2007usopen_50.gifThomas Bonk takes on the tricky task of pointing out that Angel Cabrera doesn't exactly seem to slip into that all star cast of winners at Oakmont, while getting to the most important question: is this championship about the course and USGA or about the players?
Somewhere along the way, the venerable layout, the scene of eight historic U.S. Opens and renowned for a power table of winners, might have lost a little bit of its luster. The list includes Armour, Snead, Hogan, Nicklaus, Miller, to name a few, and now Cabrera. Are we sure it's a proper fit?

Next June at Torrey Pines, Woods will be working on a six-year streak since his last U.S. Open title. Mickelson has none, in 17 tries. Yes, Cabrera has more U.S. Open titles than Mickelson.

Maybe that's just the way it is, and even the way it should be. After all, Cabrera didn't do anything wrong, he earned his championship, the only player in the field who had two rounds under par, his opening 69 and his closing 69.

But something just seemed wrong. A total of eight scores under par for four days? Only six players shooting better than 10 over par? A course so brutally difficult that even par doesn't even get a sniff?

And...
At the end of the day, it's getting harder and harder to distinguish the significance of the U.S. Open, certainly if you go by judging the relevance of its recent champions. We've traveled this road before, of course, when Jack Fleck won in 1955 or when Orville Moody won in 1969 or Lou Graham in 1975.

These days, more and more, the extreme difficulty of the courses is the dominant factor of the U.S. Open — not the players.

Bonk also looks at the state of Ernie Els' game 13 years after winning at Oakmont and concludes his knee isn't fully healed and that Els may never be the player he once was.

Gary Van Sickle is alarmed by some of the things happening with Tiger's game.
Forget that stat about never coming from behind to win a major on the last day. At the Masters and at Oakmont, he grabbed the lead on Sunday ... and couldn't hold it either time!

At the Masters, the par 5s cost him. He was spooked by No. 8 and hit 3-wood off the tee (3-wood?), and then he made a rare poor decision to go for the 15th green in two from a bad lie when he didn't need to (he found the water). At Oakmont, he committed a no-no by bunting it over the third green, biffed his third shot across the green, muffed his next pitch and made an un-Tiger-like double bogey. The Old Tiger makes par from the fairway there 9 out of 10 times, and the 10th time, he doesn't make double.

The biggest concerns of Tiger-watchers? Whatever happened to his tempo? It used to be fluid. Now he seems to be trying to hit everything as hard as he can, like he did when he overpowered Augusta National in 1997. Is it possible to have too much muscle? For once, it was his near-flawless play Saturday that looked like the aberration.
Larry Stewart reports on Saturday's ratings, which prove the remarkable impact Tiger has...
Saturday's third round got a 4.6 overnight rating, compared with a 3.2 for the third round last year. In Los Angeles, Saturday's round got a 4.0 and beat the 3.9 for the Dodgers versus the Angels that day on Channel 11.

The 4.6 overnight was the highest for a U.S. Open third round since a 4.8 in 2004. The final round that year from Shinnecock Hills earned a solid 6.3 national overnight rating. Phil Mickelson three-putted from five feet for a double bogey at the 17th hole, and Retief Goosen won by two shots.

When Woods last won a U.S. Open — at Bethpage in 2002 — the overnight rating for the final round was a 9.3.
Monday
Jun182007

What Was Jim Drinking Last Night?

Thanks to a media member who got this email release last week, and which probably answers the question of what Jim Furyk turned to last night for uh, reassurance.

Good afternoon, my name is Lauren from Taylor PR in New York. Diageo has created a new event between Johnnie Walker and Jim Furyk. It is the “Johnnie Walker Jim Furyk Sweepstakes.” From July 5- September 15, 2007 golf fans can enter online for a chance win a round of golf with one of the best, PGA Tour Stars, Jim Furyk! For more information go to http://www.johnniewalker.com/PlayWithJim. Golf fans can also feel like a Pro on the course this summer by sipping on Jim Furyk’s own signature Johnnie Walker cocktail. This round is on Jim!

Furyk’s Best Ball
1.5 oz. Johnnie Walker Black Label
1tbsp. honey
3 oz. Unsweetened tea
1 wedge lemon

Preparation: Add Johnnie Walker Black Label, honey and unsweetened tea; stir and serve over ice: garnish with lemon wedge.

And voila! All of those flashbacks about the 17th hole go away. 

Sunday
Jun172007

U.S. Open Monday Clippings: Angel!

2007usopen_50.gifSo, they made Ernie Els an honorary member at Oakmont. When do you think Angel gets his locker?

Anyway, the game stories first.

Doug Ferguson's AP story, with this note: Woods, a runner-up to Johnson at this year's Masters, played the final 32 holes at Oakmont with only one birdie.

Here's Gerry Dulac's filing in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and Mike Dudurich's account in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.

Rick Starr offers a stat breakdown from the Trib Review while there is this collection of quotes on the BBC's web site.

Robert Dvorchak writes about the successful week numbers wise and operationally, with talk of the club's hope of getting another Open soon.

Extensive notes from the Tribune Review can be found here.  And notes from the Post Gazette are here, and include what appears to be the most accurate quoting of Geoff Ogilvy on the Oakmont setup and bunkers.

"If you miss a shot by a yard, it's just a one-shot penalty," he said. "I mean, there's just no chance. It's the complete lack of chance for recovery, which is no fun. You should get penalized for missing a shot, but I don't know if it should be as black and white as it is. I'm frustrated, so it's a bad time to interview a player."

As for the setup, a few writers took notice in their final stories. From Lawrence Donegan's Guardian effort:

But in the midst of a spirit-lifting triumph for the underdog there was also something of a travesty for the game itself as once again the organisers of this historic tournament laid out a course that bordered on farce. It takes some doing to engender sympathy for golf's pampered millionaires but the USGA somehow managed to do exactly that.

And John Huggan filing for Golfobserver:

And so it went on. And on. And on. Especially the lurking. Until finally only Cabrera the Argentine was left, the only man who could stagger/reel/lurch (take your pick) back to the clubhouse on less than six over par.

 We should have seen him coming, too. The last time a major championship venue was so mindlessly submerged by long grass - at Carnoustie in 1999 - Cabrera finished one shot out of the three-man play-off for the claret jug. Clearly, length has its advantages, even when the fairways are but slivers of short grass amidst a sea of rough. Bomb and gouge lives and, guess what, long grass isn't the answer.

 Come to think of it, maybe the USGA should come up with a different way to muzzle the siege guns that are threatening to dominate the game in the 21st century.

Here's an idea. How about we come back to Oakmont next year and play the US Open with no rough at all? None. Take it from me, the winning score won't be much lower if at all - if that is a problem for the USGA. And think of the benefits. There are some delicious angles out there just begging to be used by someone with a bit of imagination and skill.

In other words, let the players decide for themselves where they want to hit their tee-shots rather than dictating to them what is good and what is bad. Make golf at the highest level a test of flair, strategy and decision-making rather than an endless test of execution. Let's put some fun back into the game.

"I hit a couple of good drives today that were a yard off-line," explained defending champion Geoff Ogilvy, who finished in a distant tie for 42nd. "And I made double bogey off both of them. That can't be right, even if that's what we expect when we get here. It's just no fun when we're doing it."

For fun, Scott Michaux floats a similar idea in the Augusta Chronicle. 

Now would Oakmont and the U.S. Open be better served the next time this major rolls around if the rough that chokes the strategic genius of the property were significantly thinned as well?

"I don't think there would be any doubts," said 2006 U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy when asked if Oakmont and the tournament would be an even better test without the trademark thick rough that greeted players this week. "There should be rough, but more like the kind they have at Royal Melbourne where you can make a shot out of it. I don't like the automatic one-shot penalty."

That's unfortunately the very nature of U.S. Opens. While the rotation of classic venues is as varied as nationalities of players on the leaderbaord, the USGA inflicts a measure of sameness in all of them. Instead of allowing the unique strategic differences of Pebble Beach or Shinnecock or Oakmont or Pinehurst No. 2 or Winged Foot to establish their own championship tests, the USGA has to make them all conform to its own rigid style.

While eliminating rough altogether would probably be too much of a departure from the USGA course set-up philosophy, toning down the rough would be within reason. The organization has expressed that kind of restraint before at venues such as Pinehurst No. 2 and Shinnecock Hills.

Would the USGA would have the guts to try something so radically different?

"No," said Charles Howell. "They enjoy it way too much. There was a smile on every one of their faces when the leader went over par."

june17_tiger11_600x600.jpgStuart Hall looks at Tiger's runner-up finish and notes this about the bunker shot on 17:

"I hit a nice bunker shot, but unfortunately when I hit it, I could tell it caught a rock on my wedge," he said. "And I heard a ‘cling.’ And when it came out, I was hoping ‘Please, still have the spin on it.’ But it didn’t and it released on through [the green]."

By the way, did you notice that when Frank Nobilo went out to show us Tiger's bunker shot on 17, the footprints and explosion mark were still there? Nobilo also showed us just how awful that rough was left of 17. Great stuff. The Nobilo reporting, that is. Not the rough.

Kenneth Ferrie tells SI's Gary Van Sickle:

"This is the first time I've played a golf course where it didn't rain and the course has gotten softer every round," Ferrie said. "It was like concrete Thursday and Friday. It was softer yesterday and today it was more so.

"It's mind boggling, really. Thursday and Friday you're trying to bounce the ball up onto the greens. Today, I actually had a few shots hit the green and spin back."

The Guardian's Paul Mahoney is skeptical of swing coaches and in particular the Stack and Tilt concept after Sunday's poor round by Aaron Baddeley.

And unbylined Sporting Life story looks at Jim Furyk's decision to go for 17.

"The play I made was the (right) play," he said

"The no-no is to go left. I haven't hit a ball within 20 yards of where that went, so I was shocked to see how far it went. I didn't realize from the tee box I put myself in that poor a position."

Finally, Nancy Armour's AP notes start off with Geoff Ogilvy's remarks on the bunkers and includes this:

Lions and Tiger and oh, my, that really was a bear. The U.S. Open draws golf fans from the animal kingdom as well as the United Kingdom. 

A mother bear and her cub wandered onto No. 7 Sunday morning after play had started, but before any golfers had reached the hole. They roamed around for a few minutes, then jumped back over a fence and disappeared into the woods that line the right side of the par 4.
Sunday
Jun172007

U.S. Open Photo Caption Fun, Vol. 4

Courtesy of golf.com...what's he thinking?

june17_cabrerawin07_600x600.jpg 

Sunday
Jun172007

"If the USGA isn't fixated on par, why does it usually take one or two holes that members play as par-5s, and turn them into par-4s for the U.S. Open?"

Brad Myers in The Journal News wrote this column that appeared on Thursday, but I just stumbled on it and it proves timely in light of this week's U.S. Open. And proves even more timely in light of the media's dismal performance at Wednesday's USGA news conference...
David Fay, executive director of the USGA, recently spoke at a media day for the 2009 U.S. Women's Open, to be held at Saucon Valley in Bethlehem, Pa. If it seems like they're planning a little too far ahead on that one, it's because they are.

Afterward, I asked Fay a few questions about the U.S. Open. The first: Does the USGA strive to have the winner shoot close to even par?

"We're not fixated on par," Fay demanded. In fact, he seemed a little offended.

OK. How would the USGA react if there was a U.S. Open where the winner shot 20-under par, second place shot 18-under, and someone shooting 10-under finished 17th?

If Fay wasn't offended before, he was now. He paused, searching for words, before saying, "It would be an aberration."

The next question: If the USGA isn't fixated on par, why does it usually take one or two holes that members play as par-5s, and turn them into par-4s for the U.S. Open?

"That's nothing new," Fay said. "We've been doing that for years, since at least the 1950s."

That answered how long it has been done. It didn't answer why. But there would be no more questions, because Fay politely, and conveniently, excused himself.

Sunday
Jun172007

First U.S. Open Question

2007usopen_50.gifWinner Angel Cabrera finished second in the field in driving distance and several long hitters were in the top 15.

The USGA contends that these guys attack the course with monster drives because they have U-grooves on their side to help with rough recovery shots.

I've long contended that it's the absurd narrowness of holes that eliminates strategic risk-reward golf.

Geoff Ogilvy contends that shorter, straight hitters like Fred Funk have lost their advantage because some of the fairways are so narrow that no one can reasonably keep a ball on them, so the long hitter gets to use shorter irons for approaches.

So I'm wondering what you think would have a greater impact on rewarding skill in the U.S. Open: V-grooved wedges and irons or fairways at 30 yards wide allowing for players to actually use sides of fairways and to actually demonstrate approach play skill?

(How's that for a leading question!)

Sunday
Jun172007

Sunday Live U.S. Open Blog

2007usopen_50.gifAll times Pacific because this is where the U.S. Open will be played 3 of the next 6 years, meaning they won't have to tee off at 3 to give Dateline a strong lead in audience...

10:06 - Here we go, skies are clear, the trophy is about to burn up in some steel mill and the over-under on reminders about Tiger never coming from behind to win a major is set at 4.

10:08 - Dan Hicks just called the 18th at Oakmont the 18th at Winged Foot. We knew what he was getting at.

10:09 - Oh, first Tiger has never come from behind to win a major mention. 1 down, 4 to go.

10:17 - Dan Hicks: "Vijay Singh is getting ready..." Vijay kisses unidentified woman not resembling his wife...dead silence.

10:27 - Think we could find some money in the USGA budget to clean up those 1973 U.S. Open films? I know, I know...we have presidential jet fuel to pay for.

10:35 - Fred Funk on No. 8 which is playing 300 yards today. "Hard to believe that this is where we have arrived." -Dan Hicks. Funk hits the green!

10:37 - Steve Elling files a Sportsline piece on the USGA's bold and potentially exciting final day setup.

10:43 - Where's Marty Hackel when you need him? Uh that mock Tiger's wearing looks like it was painted on him! And as usual, he pops out of the Buick in his spikes with the glove in the back pocket ready to go.

10:47 - The Bobby Weed design at Glen Mills that NBC is featuring is supposed to be really cool. Uh, why do I have the feeling this feature is leading to...uh there he is, President Driver faking a smile! He is so ecstatic about Glen Mills. We have a grants program for "local champions." Making the game more affordable and accessible. Walter looks down as he says that! Hmmm... And now we go to the graphic with future venues, Pinehurst, Happy Father's Day...he took his 20-month-old to the putting green. Grandson? Son? Wow, that was, thankfully we never have to do that again.

10:53 - Gary Koch makes it two mentions on Tiger never winning a major from behind! 2 down, 2 to go!

11:00 - Oh jeese Jimmy Roberts in shorts after a fun feature on Forrest Fezler wearing shorts in the Open. And you thought the pink sweater vest was bad.

11:06 - Did you know that Zach Johnson is just a midwestern guy from Cedar Rapids, Iowa?

11:23 - Johnny 63 feature: "I would love to see a great round" today. Uh...but not a 63!

11:38 - Tim Rosaforte works through his entire segment without looking at his security blank...his cards.

11:40 - Where's Marty Hackel when you need him, volume 2: Bubba's Shrek visor. Wow.

11:43 - Tiger's hitting practice bunker shots. Doesn't that contradict the whole being positive thing?

12:00 - Tiger is ripped. Tiger rips driver down the center despite Roger Maltbie's call that it's going to miss the fairway right.

12:04 - Johnny: Tiger's Sunday final round, final group scoring average: 69.5 And never shot over par.

12:07 - Wow, Badds triple bogey on 1, Johnny: "Even Tiger feels sorry for him." Well, let's not go too far there Johnny.

12:23 - Tiger carries it 307 and misses holing it by 5 feet! Ends up in the back bunker and now appears to have no shot. Badds lays up, hits a nice approach. Aren't short par-4's great?

12:33 - Cabrera joins Ames and Tiger at +4, Baddelay one back. Dumps 9 iron into front bunker on 6.

12:41 - Tiger from the center of No. 3 fairway hits it over and down the hill, same with Badds. Cabrera bogies 6, and the flags are starting to blow. Stricker lurking at +5 after birdies on 4 and 5. Wild.

12:49 - Johnny notes the proficiency of the Aussie's on bump and run's after Baddeley's brilliant recovery on 3. Tiger then hits a squirrelly skull, leaving a chip coming back for par that he fluffs. Double bogey. Ames and Stricker are your leaders.

1:00 - Dottie notes that the breeze has really started to pick up. The sun's still out at least...what are those colorful blips I see west of town on the radar?

1:15 - Tiger grimaces at fairway lie on 5, but miraculously carries the hazard in front of the green and grinds out a par. Meanwhile Cabrera birdies the 300-yard 8th to take the lead.

1:16 - Casey had to go backwards out of the bunker on 6 and Johnny's wondering why he didn't play it back more toward the tee. Yeah, play right to that knee high fescue maybe!

1:30 - Cabrera's bogey on 9 makes it a 5-way tie for the lead, at least for the moment: Tiger, Cabrera, Ames, Baddeley, Stricker. But not for long. Ames is making a mess of 7.

1:34 - Did you know that Zach Johnson is just a midwestern guy from Cedar Rapids, Iowa?

1:49 - Tiger makes par from the fairway bunker on 7, Badds makes double NOT taking an unplayable from an unplayable. Wow. Stricker is butchering 10. Tiger and Cabrera showdown?

1:57 - Cabrera at +4 after taking forever to hit his birdie putt on 11, Woods at +5, Furyk at +6, Stricker, Rose and Baddeley at +7. 

2:00 - I swing like a girl ads are back! I think the old man and the kid are due next. By the way, did you know that Zach Johnson is just a...sorry.

2:07 - For those of you hoping to see Dateline at it's allotted time, try next week. Tiger and Badds are at 2:10 through the tee shot on 9. 

2:15 - Cabrera hits it 397 on 12, Johnny says it may be the longest drive hit on the PGA Tour this year. Guess we need to tell Johnny about the PGA Tour's Longest Drive stat. 

2:21 - Johnny notes that the last three groups are a combined 25 over par with Badds and Tiger making the turn at a lightning 2:20 pace! Graphic also says that there are 2 rounds under par today, 1 at even and 60 over par.  

2:23 - Cabrera pars 12, stays 1 up on Tiger, three up on Furyk, four up on Bubba, Badds and Verplank.

2:26 - Cabrera sticks 8 iron on the 183-yard 13th about 12 feet away. Tiger close on 10. Looking like a two-man race.

2:32 - Dan Hicks reads plug for Lexus sponsored online post round wrapup. Johnny: "All these players were treated to a Lexus for the week. Really tough." No Johnny, tough is listening to you plug product you are paid to plug! 

2:37 - Cabrera attempts to lay up with a lofted club on 14, hits it in a leftside fairway bunker.  Tiger one ups him by hitting 115 yard approach on 11 into the greenside bunker. Furyk misses par putt on 12 to move to +8. No one wants to win!

2:43 - Tiger bogies 11, Cabrera has a two shot lead.  Breaks out a cigarette after a good tee shot on 15.

2:52 - Cabrera stiffs it on 15! Hicks calls it a "kick in birdie." Rolfing notes how much spin he was able to get out of the intermediate rough. Overheard on USGA walkie talkies: can we ban u grooves retroactively? 

2:56 - NBC300 cam captures Tiger's epic swing on 12 after his 393 yard drive. Furyk birdies 14 to move within 2...until Cabrera drains the birdie on 15!!  He's three under on the day with three to go!

2:58 - Grandstand crowd gives Cabrera a standing ovation on 16 tee. Nice touch.

2:59 - Rosaforte gets Roberto DiVincenzo on the phone for some nice background on his countryman Cabrera.

3:02 - If you want to learn more about Angel Cabrera set to some really cheesy music, check out his web site. Knowledge of Spanish will help. 

3:04 - Cabrera finally gets to tee off on 16, 8 minutes after stepping on the tee.  Gets to see Furyk stiff it on 15. Rolfing and Johnny say go to the center of the green, but Koch says it's a tough two putt. He misses green short. Rolfing calls it a "monster" putt. Koch says it's a 90 footer, Johnny says he could putt it off the green.

3:09 - Hey, I just learned this. Did you know that Zach Johnson is just a midwestern guy from Cedar Rapids, Iowa?

3:10 - Split screen, Cabrera hits the monster putt about 10 feet, Furyk birdies 15! 

3:12 - Tiger misses birdie putt on 13 and Johnny and Hicks say it's just gotten a lot tougher for him to do this. Uh, last I looked, he has more holes to play than Furyk and he's only 2 back after Cabrera's bogey on 16!? 

3:14 - Current stroke average on 16: 3.519! 

3:15 - Koch notes that Cabrera has made two bogies and a par on 17 as he lays up in the fairway on top.

3:20 - Several Oakmont members just called Tim Rosaforte to ask if Angel can be penalized two shots for throwing a burning cigarette into the rough. 

3:21 - Tiger hits uninspired approach into 14. Furyk with the lengthy putt for birdie...almost pulls off a Larry Nelson as the NBC gang noted nicely with video. 

3:23 - Cabrera flubs the chip on 17, as Tiger stands over the birdie putt on 14 two back, Furyk on 17 tee 1 back.  

3:26 - "That's a nervous 5." Johnny Miller after Cabrera's bogey. Tiger drives it in the intermediate cut on 15. Furyk pulls out driver on 17, and goes left. Dottie notes that a cousin of Furyk's is a former club champion and they had talked about conservative lines of play before the tournament. Wow. Cabrera stripes it down 18! Wow!

3:31 - 18 is averaging 4.647! 

3:32 - Bubba birdies 16, moves to +7, two back with two to play... 

3:34 - Cabrera drives it 346 on 18, has 138 left and hits it about 20 feet past the hole. Furyk has horrible lie left of 17, advances it closer to the green but still in rough. 

3:38 - Johnny says Furyk hands Cabrera a "huge gift" by trying to drive 17. Also notes bad break for Cabrera that Appleby is "making a mess" of 18 and taking forever.

3:39 - Split screen, Furyk misses his par putt to go to +6, Tiger makes his at 15 to stay +6. Both trail Cabrera by 1. 

3:41 - Cabrera two putts! HD users get to see it in really jittery definition signal, just slightly jittery and lousy for us digital folks. 

3:45 - The dreaded hole in one USGA ad makes its appearance, the horns as schmatzy as ever! 

3:46 - Bubba gets in trouble in rough left of 17 green. A shame they didn't have more short grass around that green.  

3:53 - Furyk eliminated, Tiger pars 16, stays 1 back. Should he drive 17??? 

3:57 - Jimmy Roberts essay. Uh, what's Tiger doing??? Standing on 17 tee. What club has he pulled. Ugh.

4:00 - Tiger pulls three wood on 17 tee.  Puts it in the front right bunker.

4:03 - Dan Hicks mentions Tiger's never won a major coming from behind. Shoot, I lost count but that's at least the 5th mention by now!

4:04 - Cabrera declines NBC's interview request. Can you blame him? 

4:10 - Tiger's bunker shot ends up in the intermediate cut, settles down. Now has a few feet for par. Meanwhile, Angel sticks his Ping cap in the camera. They make u-grooved irons don't they? 

4:11 - Maltbie says its 5-6 feet for par for Tiger. He nails it.

4:14 - Is it just my cable or is your picture pretty lousy too?

4:17 - Somehow I don't picture the "millionaire's lifestyle" that The Villages is promoting includes rollerskating down a hill with other oldies, or watching a really bad version of Cabaret. 

4:20 - Uh for those of you tuning in to watch Dateline, it's going to be another 20 minutes at least.

4:21 - Stevie says he doesn't have to worry about it flying. The lie looks awful. Sure wish we could see him his this shot without such a goofy lie. He hits a great shot. No spin. Damn v-grooves...oh wait, that's 2009!

4:25 - Did you catch Roger Maltbie sandwiched in between the photographers shaking his head? Ugly scrum out there right now! 

4:28: Tiger's putt never had a chance. Angel wins! He's been on the cusp of so many...well this major! 

4:30 - But hey, Tiger and Badds nailed, 4:30 on the button for a twosome. Good times!

4:31 - NBC notes Angel Cabrera joins the list making the U.S. Open his first PGA Tour win as well. And just think of the FedEx Cup points Angel! 

4:35 - Tiger: "Angel played a beautiful round of golf." "Never really got a bunch of putts under the whole where I could take a wrap at them." "I only had one three putt." 

4:38 - My NBC signal continues to be awful, fine on the other channels. Two more readers confirm the same thing.  

4:40 - Could the club officials behind Cabrera and Driver look any more pissed?  

4:44 - NBC signs off. Just 44 minutes long! 

Sunday
Jun172007

“Corrective” watering was done last night on all 18 greens.

The USGA setup notes for the final round, where the early scoring seems to indicate that the players might be able to attack a few holes...

As we’ve done each afternoon after play, roughs have been mowed.

Firmness reading of the putting greens (drive zones and approaches too) were taken 3 times in the last 12 hours – last night, early this morning pre-watering and water this morning post-watering.

“Corrective” watering was done last night on all 18 greens. Water was applied approx 2 hours before play this morning on all greens, in order – 1-18. Certain greens were given a bit more water than other based on firmness readings. We believe (and desire) firmness will be similar to round 3. Hole 2: 307 yards (30 paces forward of tee sign to entice player to drive green; hole location front right). Hole 6: 188 yards. Hole 8: 300 yards. Hole 10: up teeing ground. Hole 12: back teeing ground. Hole 13: 180 yards. Hole 14: 313 yards (29 paces up from tee sign with front hole location; only round where realistically drivable). Hole 16: 244 yards (Larry Nelson hole location). Hole 17: 306 yards (very front of back teeing ground; hole location is accessible to drive green).

Saturday
Jun162007

Sunday U.S. Open Clippings: Badds and Tiger

2007usopen_50.gifDoug Ferguson's AP game story captures Saturday's round and sets up Sunday's possibilities

Mark Lamport Stokes notes the green watering Saturday. According to Tim Rosaforte on Golf Channel's post game show, Sunday will not get the same treatment unless they determine in the morning that there is a need for some water. Sunday's forecast of humid weather and a chance of thunderstorms is also playing a part in that call.

0O8K0121.jpgJeff Rude at Golfweek says, "Tiger Woods hit the ball better Saturday than he has at any time during his three-plus years working with Hank Haney." Note the interesting top position (left) captured by one of Golf Digest's photographers.

John Huggan likes Europe's chances of continuing to wonder when one of their players will win a major.

"If it is somebody who has been around a while, like Padraig Harrington or Lee or Monty, then I would say he'd stand to make an awful lot. Paul Casey would earn a lot, too, as would Luke Donald. But if it is someone less well known, one who had been slightly off the radar, then he wouldn't make as much in endorsements.

"The strange thing is that it doesn't make that much difference in America. It's everywhere else that would generate the increase in earning power. If you only play the PGA Tour, winning a major isn't going to boost your income a whole helluva lot. Let's say Justin Rose won the US Open this week. If he did, he'd play a lot less in America during his year as holder. He'd be daft not to."

Chris Lewis captures some of the scariest Golf Channel images of the day on his blog where he also notes the similarities between Tiger today and Hoylake Tiger. Oh and can we get John Feinstein a Sharpee for autographing those books instead of some cheapy from the hotel nightstand?

Rex Hoggard talks to Lee Janzen about the state of his game, and the budding architecture junkie and two-time U.S. Open champion says:  “I’d love to play this kind of golf course with no rough. I think it’d be a ball.”

Steve Elling looks at Aaron Baddelay and his faith.

Josh Sanburn talks to Matthew Goggin who teed off first as a single and played in 2:50, leaving a seven hole gap between him and the next group.

Mike Wereschagin talks to volunteers about some of the disallowed items they've confisgated and some of the stuff really does make you wonder about the human race.

Michael Bamberger pens an appreciation of Oakmont and in particular, its fallaway greens.

And finally, Dave Seanor overheard this while visiting the Port-A-John:

Overheard in the Port-A-John (where some of our best material comes from):

“We’re running out of green,” a volunteer, who must have been assigned to one of the on-course scoreboards, said to another guy who was performing the same job.

He was referring, of course, to the green numbers that signify bogeys or worse.

“Yeah, I’ve got tons of reds and plenty of blacks,” replied his buddy. “They need to get us a whole bunch more greens."

Saturday
Jun162007

U.S. Open Photo Caption Fun, Vol. 3

I think Getty Images' David Cannon was envisioning a caption contest with this one, lifted from TheGolfChannel.com...

189322.jpg 

 

Saturday
Jun162007

"That was the first taste I had of his reputation."

colinMOS_468x556.jpgPeter Higgs catches up with Monty's temporary Oakmont caddy, Billy Goddard, who reminds us why there is only one Monty!

The veteran caddie, hired to carry Montgomerie’s clubs after the 43-year-old Ryder Cup star sacked long-term bagman Alistair McLean last week, tried to find a kind word to say about his temporary employer.

"He’s a good guy but he just gets mad at himself," said Goddard. "And he got mad at me, absolutely."

On the course where he came close to winning the US Open 13 years ago — and 12 months after he blew his best chance of claiming America’s oldest major — Montgomerie’s second-round score of 12-overpar 82 left him languishing in 127th place and facing an early flight home.

After his round Montgomerie declined to offer an explanation to reporters. But Goddard, the genial local man who had been assigned to carry his bag and guide him around the brutal course, had plenty to say about spending two rounds in the presence of a player renowned as much for his grumpiness as for his undoubted golfing talents.

Even though Goddard is so valued that he has caddied for Jack Nicklaus, he was to learn that Montgomerie can be easily upset by what seem innocuous comments.

After a first-round 76 left him with plenty of ground to make up, Montgomerie was unable to cope with the increasingly difficult demands of Oakmont’s penal rough and slick greens as he tossed shots away like a high handicapper having a bad day.

Montgomerie was so distressed by an incident during the front nine of his second round that he walked over to speak to his girlfriend, Gaynor Knowles, on the 10th fairway and was overheard to say: "It’s such a shame. It’s really upset me. It really, really has."

When Goddard was asked whether he knew what had caused Montgomerie to become so agitated, he admitted being responsible, saying: "On the fourth hole he asked me what the yardage was and I said: 'Lay up or go for it?'. He said: 'I’m going for it'. After he made a bogey on the hole, he said to me: 'You should never have said the words lay up'. After that we hardly talked. That was the first taste I had of his reputation."
Poor lad, having to hear those awful "lay up" words! No one should have to hear such vile language on a golf course, especially from their caddie.
Although Montgomerie rallied to play the next four holes in one under par, including an extraordinary 30-foot birdie putt on the 14th which brought no reaction from the dejected figure, his chances of breaking 80 disappeared with three further dropped shots on the final two holes.

On the 18th his drive landed in such thick rough that he could not see the ball and hacked it only 10 yards forward.

When he launched his third towards the green, a youth yelled ‘Get in the hole’ to be greeted by the coldest stare Montgomerie could muster. As the object of his anger was identified, the spectator turned to the rest of crowd and appealed: ‘I was only trying to encourage him.’

Oh but why? 

Saturday
Jun162007

Badds' Post Third Round Press Conference

The third round leader talked about Stack, Tilt and the Lord:

Q. Can you take us through the maturation you referred to of when your swing and confidence kicked in, when you got better, why you're better and so forth?

AARON BADDELEY: I would say in October, November, 2005, I was out working with Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett, and ever since I started working with them, there's really been an upward curve of improvement of driving the ball in the fairway, hitting better iron shots. Yeah, I mean, that's just been a constant improvement, and I feel like every time I go to practice with them or even by myself, I know exactly what I need to work on. And I just feel like I'm going to keep improving because of what I'm working on.

For you Stack and Tilt groupees, don't miss Chris Lewis's new book that includes this chapter on the teaching duo.

On his two wins at the Australian Open and how far he's come...
AARON BADDELEY: That does seem like a long time ago to be honest. What was it, eight years ago? I just look back at that time as like after the Australian Open, I look more at that time of when I struggled and was missing cuts, wasn't playing good. I look at that time as probably the most important time of my life, those two or three years -- probably three or four years when I struggled.
Because if I don't go through that, if I didn't struggle as much as I did -- if I had just struggled a little bit, it would be different. But to struggle as much as I did, that was the most important part of my life. No. 1, my relationship with the Lord grew like beyond anything what I could imagine, which is the most important thing in my life; who I am as a person, my character, everything has developed and become stronger. I feel a lot wiser now because of all that and things I did wrong.
And then I look back at that time, as well, and just say, if I didn't go through that, I wouldn't be sitting here today. I definitely wouldn't be sitting here right here right now leading a U.S. Open, if I don't go through that time of my life.
Good question here...
Q. Sunday is a long day for leaders. It takes a while for the leaders to get out; how do you make the day go by? Do you go to services or do you have a Bible study?

AARON BADDELEY: This morning actually went by really quick. I slept in a little bit until like 8:30, 9:00, got up. Every morning I always like study my Bible and wrote down some stuff and pray and stuff. So I'm just going to do that tomorrow like normal and have breakfast with Richelle, hang out. Probably be 11:00, 12:00 by then and get ready to come out here, come out here two hours before and do my regular routine.

And...

 Q. What prompted you to wait behind the 18th green at Augusta for Zach? Is that from Wednesday nights and those type of things, and would this not be a good time to remind people out there because you're playing with you-know-who that you were actually born in the U.S.?

AARON BADDELEY: Yes, I was actually born in the U.S. I've got dual citizenship.
With Zach, Zach is a fellow brother in Christ, and I know it's very special to -- it's a special time in his life. I mean, he just won the Masters. We were at home watching the coverage, and when he birdied -- I think when he birdied 16, we were like five or ten minutes from the course. We drove straight back to make sure we were there on the 18th.

Hey aren't we all brothers in Christ?!

 Q. Your Web site has daily scriptural readings and the ones for tomorrow don't seem to be particularly pertinent to golf or to competition. Is there one that you key on when you're in a situation like that, anything, favorite verse?

AARON BADDELEY: I always use one verse, I used it at Hilton Head, it's the 2 Timothy 1:7, it says, "For God has give us a spirit of fear but power of love and a sound mind." I constantly quote that verse to myself. But I just enjoy reading the Bible. This morning I was just reading and writing and praying, and that's what is most important to me, every morning.

Did Jesus say anything about dealing with Tiger Woods? 

Saturday
Jun162007

Tiger's Post Third Round Press Conference

Succinct session with the slingers...

 Q. What architectural features did you take from that course that you might want to use?

TIGER WOODS: None. Golf course is hard. I don't think anyone -- I wouldn't have any members.

Not exactly one they'll be adding to the club yardage book.

Ah the important stuff...

 Q. Gloves on 18 -- you switched golf clubs in the bunker on 18, how long had you been using them?

TIGER WOODS: Gloves?

Q. Yeah.

TIGER WOODS: I do that all day. I was sweating.

Q. How long did you use the one previous?

TIGER WOODS: One hole, we switch three, four gloves, and let them dry out and rotate them. Sweat leaks into them.

Glad we got to the bottom of that.

Q. How long has it been since you hit it this good? That was a lot of fairways, 17 straight greens under these circumstances, and in punitive conditions it had to have been a long, long while.

TIGER WOODS: Good question. I really don't know.

Q. When you tapped in at 18, that was a tribute to Arnold Palmer?

TIGER WOODS: No. I said I was pissed. Happy with a 5? (Laughter.)

Uh huh.

 Q. Could you tell right away when you got to the first green that the golf course was receptive?

TIGER WOODS: The greens were holding. It was more receptive, yeah. They weren't anywhere near as hard as they were yesterday afternoon.

But the downhill putts were just as fast, but I think the nice thing was if you hit shots with a 6-iron or 7-iron. The ball was going to hold. It wasn't going to be repelled.
Saturday
Jun162007

The Difference Between Davis and Meeks

As much as I hate seeing the course artificially softened on day three of a major, it's great to see Mike Davis err on the side of common sense by watering the greens prior to play today. Despite David Fay's declarations that the course was right where they wanted it yesterday and today, Davis clearly realized Friday was on the edge of goofy and made the call to throttle things back.

A few years ago such measures would not have been taken to such an extent and that's how we got fiascos like Shinnecock.

Now if Davis could just widen out those landing areas so they don't need to be slowed down, we'd really be making progress.

Saturday
Jun162007

Saturday Live U.S. Open Blog

2007usopen_50.gifAll times Pacific Standard Time...because I feel like it.

10:55: I return from a workout and visit to the farmer's market to turn on the television and find...the house organ blaring! Nice Jimmy Roberts narrated puff piece on the USGA's square groove rule change that will put a premium back on accuracy! Ya, you go girl!

11:02: I've rewound the Tivo ad Johnny drops his first 63 mention at 10:12. And at 10:14 Pablo Martin power rams a 4-footer for birdie and has 35 feet coming back. Nice putt Pablo! Oh and then he goes back and forth on No. 3! Fun times!

11:11 - Still catching up, reaching the "what the USGA does" contractually obligated package, complete with plenty of schmaltzy horns and strings.  Dick Rugge on the USGA groove study: "exhaustive research to determine if the challenge of the game has changed and we determined that yes indeed it had changed. And the culprit may indeed be the grooves." And this is beautiful. The implication being, the players wanted this: "These are the best players in the world and they like the challenge to be able to show their skills because they are the best and the like that opportunity to show themselves."

11:23 - David Fay on the golf course: "Right where we want it to be." And on Phil's comment on the hazardous nature of the rough: "that was a new one to me." 

11:31 - Just about caught up, Tiger tries to drive No. 2, NBC tries to find the ball but the glaring white sand makes that impossible.

11:44 - Ah our first Tim Rosaforte visits breaks up the coverage of apparently the only twosome on the course, Tiger and Nick Dougherty. Bob asks about the ditches. Tim tells us about Fazio's restoration work with a rivetting anecdote about the members. I wonder if Tim can submit his little game show host cards to Golf House for future generations to study?

11:52 - We interrupt our coverage of Tiger Woods to show Angel Cabrera walking. Oh, back to Tiger. He makes birdie, he's "nailed" it here, we're really, really begging he stays in this at NBC because we know the rating depends on him! 

11:57 - Tiger hits it 334 on No. 4, has 275 left. Hits iron, lands on the green and finishes pin high. It's the grooves! Dan Hicks: "he looks really good today" ... doesn't he Dick Ebersol

12:02 - Johnny notes there is a "clinical" feel to Tiger's play after his near eagle on 4 and flawless play from the tee so far.

12:08 - Casey flies it over on No. 2 that Tiger drove it in, setting up a birdie. Uh, I don't know about you, but the course looks A LOT softer today.

12:14 - A reader notes this from today's USGA course setup notes: "Greens were watered last night. Firmness readings were taken last night after the watering and first thing this morning. The firmest greens (2, 3, 5, 6 and 13) were watered early this morning. Later this morning, all 18 greens have been watered in order (1-18) approximate 2 hours before play. Greens should not get firmer at point today that what we saw very late in the day yesterday. Translated: We should be firmer than Thursday, but not any firmer than yesterday."

12:18 - Dottie Pepper says the first green was also one of the greens given extra water, according to Mike Davis. Interesting that square grooves are such a problem, yet we're watering greens to make them more receptive. Hmmm...

12:43 - Casey two putts No. 4 for birdie and is looking like a likely winner. More importantly, the NBC gang hasn't asked Johnny to address the Paul Goydos remarks about Casey's 66 being better than Johnny's 63. Boo! 

12:47 - Did you know Zack Johnson is just a midwestern guy from Cedar Rapids, Iowa? 

12:51 - Bubba hits driver 370 yards down the pipe on No. 3, so naturally with that great contouring it rolled into the rough. 58 yards left and he missed the gree. But remember, he played the hole that way not because he could hit it 370, but because of the grooves!  

12:53 - Johnny gets choked up talking about his 63 outfit...wait, false alarm, it was that cherry danish he just snacked on making its way back up.  Get this man some tea.

12:55 - Niclas Fasth makes his first appearance of the day on NBC despite starting only 2 shots back. He makes eagle on 4 to move to within 1 after a poor start.  

1:00 - Reader Hawkeye reports that the interational feed isn't working. So an update: Cabrera and Watson at +1, Casey, Fasth and Ames at +2, Tiger at +2.

1:03 - Johnny says the greens appear softer today than they were Thursday, which followed Wednesday's rain. 

1:04 - Stephen Ames is one shot back and I don't think we've seen him hit a shot yet! But we've seen every shot Tiger has hit.

1:08 - Cool crain shot of no. 9 from NBC showing off the contours, bet it looks really cool in HD.  I wonder how Johnny's makeup look on HD?

1:10 - 2 hours and 5 minutes for Tiger's twosome to finish the front nine.  Imagine how slow it would be if they hadn't drenched the place.

1:14 - We have our first Villages ad!  Just as I was about to doze off too.

1:19 - Johnny says No. 10 fairway "too narrow" in his view. Oh I don't know, two golf carts could pass each other, looks wide enough to me. 

1:33 - Did you see Ben Hogan and Bobby Jones in that Lexus ad? I knew the brand dynamics were strong, but sheesh. I want to run out and buy one now. 

1:35 - Cabrera hits an awesome flip shot off the bank at 5. Think he's here to stay.  Oops, he missed the par putt. Oh well, at least NBC's showing him, which is more than we can say for poor Stephen Ames who reportedly was just two back! Wait, he just moved to +5...they're saved!

1:42 - That man of the people, Vijay Singh, bogies 18 for a 70. There's always hope. 

1:51 - Tiger drives is 389 - because he knows he has square grooves - with 243 left and hits a squirrelly short right shot.  

1:53 - Bubba birdies 7 and is takes the lead by himself. Angel is one back, Tiger, Casey and Fasth 2 back. But finds Sahara on 8. Meanwhile Tiger hits it 7 feet on 12. Will be tied for the lead by 2:00 PST? Scratch that, Tiger missed the birdie putt.

2:02 - Fasth flinches after putt because of a bug bite, Johnny wonders if he's emulating who else, but Johnny's stroke. It's all about Johnny! At least he was self depricating this time! Meanwhile Tiger hasn't missed a green in regulation and Bubba just got up and down on 8. And I'm getting woozy.

2:15 -  Oh boy Bubba's flipping out. Flubbed wedge in the crop left of 9, then hits the next one right away and then hits a home run with his fourth shot. And now he's hitting the next one. It's okay Bubba, you aren't on the clock! Wow, just like that, triple bogey. And all of that with U-grooves! 

2:18 - Fasth birdies the impossible 10th gives it a fist pump. He moves to +3. The excitement is overwhelming me here.  

2:24 - Anyone know what course that is in the Lexus ad where the dude plays the par-3 over the bay inlet?

2:35 - Tiger, Cabrera, Fasth and Baddelay tied for the lead. Casey, Watson one back, Pettersen and Ames two back. Gee I wonder who is going to win!

2:48 - Whoa just nodded off, I'm back. This is SO rivetting. Oh good commercials coming, something to liven things up. And at least we get to see how Tiger plays 17.

2:50 - Did you know that Zach Johnson is a just a midwestern guy from Cedar Rapids, Iowa? 

2:54 - We finally get to see Stephen Ames! He's one back. Okay back to golfers we care about. Tiger...driving 17... 

2:58 - How beautiful is that scene on 14 with the 18th hole and grandstands as a backdrop? 

3:05 - Johnny informs us that he kind of picked new leader Badds on that first hole. Uh huh! 

3:09 - Yes, I'm bored and stumbled on this explanation behind those cool tee markers at Oakmont. This from Steve Elling at CBS Sportsline:

The club was formed 104 years ago by a Pittsburgh steel magnate named H.C. Fownes, who originally used a device called a "piercer point" as the first markers at his beloved course. They were heavy, bullet-shaped pieces of metal used in the manufacture of seamless pipes, club historian John Fitzgerald said. The piercer points were shoved through pieces of metal to make the tubes.

Eventually, the markers needed replacing. So, during World War II, the club began using similarly shaped artillery shells from a Pittsburgh ordnance factory instead. Since 1940s-era artillery shells no longer are readily available, obviously, a specialty foundry makes cast-iron replacements for the club as needed, said Fitzgerald, a club member since 1962.

3:13 - Hey the promo says the USGA hosts the largest golf archive in the world. But can you make a photocopy? 

3:15 - Badds takes a two shot lead and Tiger is going to have to get up and down on 18 after plunking it in the fairway bunker.  The NBC guys act like it was a horrific shot, looks like a pretty deep bunker to me!

3:17 - Johnny on Tiger at 18: "He likes bogey free rounds." What a revelation! I know I don't! 

3:24 - Badds takes a three shot lead over Woods, Ames, Watson, Cabrera, and Casey.  Praise the...sorry.

3:42 - Tiger joins Bob Costas for the post round interview. We learn nothing. He has work to do on the range after hitting 17 greens.

3:48 - The hole-in-one-the-drinks-are-on-me-kid ad!! This just in, the kid has announced plans to enter Champions Tour Q-school this fall.  

3:52 - Johnny loves Badds and Stack and Tilt...well he likes the swing, says "forget all that" when Dan Hicks mentions the name. 

4:00 - Badds lays up on 17 into sideslope of bunker. Nice 5 inch lie awaits. Love this risk reward golf! What an amazing recovery though to the left fringe! How great does that rear camera view look with the skyline green, the lone flagstick with nothing around it! What an improvement over the 1994 look with trees.

4:12 - Stephen Ames eeks out a bogey at 18 to stay at +5 and retain some momentum as he prepares to defend his Skins Game win this fall. 

4:15 - What was that symbol Badds just flashed us walking off 18 tee? Bloods or Crips? Or Church of Nazarene? 

4:25 - Badds birdies 18 and gets Tiger in the final pairing.  

4:35 - The final group finishes, 4:30 later! The weary fans are filing out in droves. And you get to do it all over again tomorrow, with a forecast high of 87! Don't forget to stop by the Lexus trophy to pose with that replica trophy.  

Saturday
Jun162007

"The U.S.G.A. is just as much about money, big-time profits and corporate connections.”

Ah just when you think the sportswriters simply don't care enough about the game to ask a few questions of the folks governing it, along comes Selena Roberts of the New York Times to shake things up.

Her issue? Uh your basic hypocrisy deal with the USGA, which I'm sure will include images this weekend of Walter Driver teaching young, poor, non-white children the joys of leveraging brand equity the game of golf. Some highlights for those of you who can't get behind the pay wall:

The private politics of the U.S.G.A.’s leaders say so. On the cover of this week’s Golf World magazine, the headline reads, “Can the U.S.G.A. Survive Walter Driver?” He is the corporate cowboy with luxury tastes who is forcing a Wall Street approach on a nonprofit organization.

The U.S.G.A.’s grassroots slogan is “For the Good of the Game.” Yet Driver projects what’s good for him as a member of at least three private clubs with reputations for discriminatory practices: Pine Valley in New Jersey, Augusta National and Peachtree Golf Club in Atlanta. Why join one cabal of bias when you can learn secret handshakes at all three?

Fast forward... 
Driver did not respond to a message about his contradiction of conscience. Fay, however, did concede the conflict. To his credit, Fay dropped his membership at Pine Valley, although he pleads guilty to playing the course on occasion.

There is a game of spin the bottle for U.S.G.A. officials when deciding whether they will A) choose memberships at open clubs or B) give in to the siren song of the great American course, which, as it happens, is often run by prejudiced elites in crested blazers.

“How do you square it?” Fay said. “Everyone has to deal with it on a personal basis. Everyone has to sort it out his own way. I’ve had to sort it out.

“It’s a struggle. That may sound like a cop-out. I can’t argue with that.”

Fay is honest. But the arbitrary scruples of executives poke holes in the U.S.G.A.’s credibility as a builder of culture clubs for all.

So nice to see there's an issue that even David can't and won't spin his way out of! There's hope yet for the man!

Oh and this is fun. I'm sure several of our leading scribes would like to have known this before Wednesday's press conference so they could not ask about it.

“Its leadership has never looked like America, with hardly any blacks or Latinos in its top positions, no matter for all the ‘Kumbaya’ multicultural ads it has run promoting itself with smiling kids of all backgrounds out on the course,” said the Duke professor Orin Starn, author of “Caddying for the Dalai Lama: Golf, Heritage Tourism and the Pinehurst Resort,” who is researching a book on golf and American society. “The U.S.G.A. has wanted to style itself as upholding a democratic, open-to-all version of golf, including picking public courses like Bethpage and Torrey Pines for the Open and those promos featuring golfers at folksy little starter shacks. The reality is that the U.S.G.A. is just as much about money, big-time profits and corporate connections.”

Saturday
Jun162007

Weekend Live Blogging

We need to get through this together, so just like last year, I'll be live blogging for those of you watching the weekend U.S. Open coverage. Well, I'm not sure about that first hour, but probably around 2 EST.

So don't hesitate to comment or email me questions or comments and we'll survive this thing they call the national championship together!