There was just the one rough patch (where he found out he was going to be Vice Captain without actually talking to Monty!), but now they are together now, reports Mark Garrod, assuming Jose Maria Olazabal doesn't play his way onto Colin Montgomerie's 2010 Ryder Cup squad. I can sleep now.
I've been playing the game so long that my handicap is in Roman numerals.
Shockingly I forgot to record round one or round two of the Tavistock Cup, always one of golf's most embarrassing shows of conspicuous consumption. Though I do see that Tiger Woods had to share a helicopter over from Isleworth with J.B. Holmes, so I'm sure the world No. 1's olfactory senses are just now starting to recover. Serves him right for supporting this nonsense.
Golf.com features a gallery of images and I think this one from Marc Serota just begs for some caption help.
With last week's sudden and unfortunately shuttering of T&L Golf, I couldn't help but notice the huge drop in circulation and the likely impact it made on decision-makers who shut it down. Making now a good time to be doing a little begging for our friends in the print world. Yes, this will sound like a PBS pledge drive, but I can speak from the perspective of someone who browsed so many old golf publications and fears a repeat of the late 30s and 40s when there was no more American Golfer or Golf Illustrated to kick around.
I just tossed a T&L renewal form that would have cost $29 for 6 more issues. Now, you might say that's not the greatest value these days but $29 will not even get you a dozen premium golf balls. And just think, for that money you would have gotten this amazing publication arriving in your mailbox filled with lively writing, vital travel tips, beautiful photography and insights into special places you either must see, or may never get to visit due to their remote location.
In a larger historical sense, publications like T&L serve as valuable documenters of golf architecture and important people in the game who may be of great interest to future generations. While I understand it is not your job to prop up a magazine so that future generations have a historical resource, do remember that we live in an information-driven world, and if you job is in anyway tied to your passion for the game, golf magazines provide you with insights that might just bridge some sort of gap between you and your superior. (There, it's all about YOU.! Thankfully, I know most of the people who read this site are not the raging narcissists who gobble such stuff up!).
And yes, most of the golf publications were woefully slow in adopting to the online world and continue to inexplicably ignore digital options (Golfweek fully exempted). They also undermine the value of a subscription by giving away too much content and offering subscribers few online perks like access to PDF's of back issues. I shouldn't complain because this is to the benefit of blogs, thank you very much.
That said, there is still nothing quite like a magazine. You can take it all of these weird places--the beach, the plane, the train, the car wash, the doctor's office, etc...--share it with friends easily and all for a ridiculously low price each month.
So while you may be cutting back on dinners, trips or other expenses, I beg you to think twice before ending your magazine subscriptions. You may not like every piece of writing and you may suffer the occasional paper cut while powering through the instruction drek stuff each month, but I can tell you that golf's major publications have never looked more beautiful and they've never been a better value.
So here's the PBS part. Just in case you aren't a subscriber or were looking for a classy gift...
Subscribe to Golf Magazine for $10.
Subscribe to SI and request Golf Plus and get 28 issues for $24.
Subscribe to Golf Digest for a whopping $12 for 12 issues.
Subscribe to Golf World and get a year's worth of coverage for $32.
Subscribe to Links and get one year for $13.95 or $14 for two years
Subscribe to Golfweek $35 and get a year's worth of coverage.
And this plea is most definitely applied to regional publications or others I've left out. The little guys need even more support than the big guns. Either way, I know you won't regret signing up for one or all of these pillars of the game. I sure don't want to imagine a world without them. Do you?
Gary Van Sickle posts a golf green fee horror story that does not bode well for municipal golf in Miami, or the game in general. Save some time to read the great reader comments. Plenty on the good, bad and greedy of public golf.
"The ivory-toothed Mickelson is Mr Middle America, but it may just be that Rory McIlroy is now the third most popular current golfer in the land."
That land would be...not Ireland...yep, America!
At least, if you see what the Euro press contingent has to say.
Now, Brian Keogh is exempt because he writes for the Irish Times and is expected to report on his man.
But then there's the headline to Mark Reason's final round WGC CA Championship game story: Tiger Woods raves about Rory McIlroy as Phil Mickelson wins
One can't blame the headline writer after reading Reason's story:
It's seldom easy with Mickelson, but the Phillibuster crunched a superlative drive down Doral's brutal final hole and then nearly holed his second shot to close out victory with a touch of class.
The ivory-toothed Mickelson is Mr Middle America, but it may just be that Rory McIlroy is now the third most popular current golfer in the land. McIlroy had slipped out of contention in the final round, but still NBC was showing shots of the 19-year-old. That is the sort of obsessive coverage usually reserved for only Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
Deep breaths people, deep breaths.
Speaking of NBC coverage that featured several compelling moments, including more epic sound crew work capturing the Bones-Mickelson conversation on No. 12, the SI Golf Group files their weekly serial novel and while I think they read way too much into the Jimmy Roberts-Tiger Woods interview, they do highlight what was one of the more uncomfortable Johnny Miller moments in a day filled with them. Damon Hack writes:
Lots to chew on this week, including a juicy on-air back and forth between Johnny Miller and Roger Maltbiegame's best player. Johnny said if Phil is hitting it 300 yards and straight, he's the best player in the world. Roger said he knew a guy who could beat him — last name Woods.
There is a need for entertaining give and take, something sorely missing since the demise of ABC's Faldo-Zinger-Tirico setup). But this was downright awkward, with Maltbie actually making sure to not to let Johnny's comment go. Great TV moment for us at home, yet the tone seemed to say: Johnny, you are really out of touch and I'm not going to let you embarrass the rest of us.
Which was more painful Sunday: Johnny Miller repeatedly citing non-existant "grain," or all of the bracketologists, committee chairs, analysts, experts and other assorted blowhards dropping the dreaded "body of work" phrase to describe the merits of NCAA tourney teams?
Well short of Jesus returning and weighing in on Rory McIlroy's potential, Tiger's comments Saturday should offer the European press contingent a healthier Viagra alternative:
"The guy's a talent," Woods said of McIlroy. "We can all see it, the way he hits the golf ball, the way he putts, the way he can chip, get up and down.
"He has the composure. He has all of the components to be the best in the world, there's no doubt.
"It's just a matter of time and experience in big events. That takes time and I mean he's only 19," Woods told reporters after finishing on 209.
John Huggan says the demise of Americans in the world rankings is long overdue payback for years of European discrimination...
Changed days indeed for the most powerful golfing nation on the planet. Actually, "pay-back time" may be a more accurate description of this still fairly new phenomenon. Not so long ago, before the advent of world rankings and WGCs, America ruled the professional game with a self-interested and insular attitude that served only to distort the history of the sport at the very highest level.
Despite those nasty rumours you may have heard about statistics, the numbers don't lie. Until quite recently, even the very best European players were all but completely excluded from three of the four major championships, those – surprise, surprise – played across the pond.
**John Strege takes issue with one of Huggan's points and posts a response from Huggan at GolfDigest.com.
"But a little bit of dull to his game should have been expected at this point. It just takes some getting used to."
Hey, he might blitz the Blue Monster with 64, 65 or 66 today.
But a better guess is that Woods, who's simply not going to win mired so deep in the pack 10 shots off Mickelson's lead, will manufacture another round much like his first two.
It's not that he's being careful - he says he feels "great" save for a sore right ankle - as much as it's a matter of Woods being unable to sustain anything positive. He says it's a lack of "feel" on the course, which might be true. But it's almost certainly a nicer way of saying he's rusty.
It's as though Woods is in a struggle with his internal clock. He seemed several times to be fighting an urge to hurry between shots. There's a pace to the game - heck, fast or slow play can even be a strategy - and Woods might have to get used to his own rhythms again.
Woods isn't, as he said, "playing for five bucks at home in Isleworth" anymore.
No, he isn't.
And as much good as those social rounds surely did Woods in his physical recuperation, he might also have grown too accustomed to zooming through 18 holes in much less time than it takes to compete on the PGA Tour.
Not content with having put the ex in her place, egomaniacal newlyweds Greg Norman and Chris Evert spoke to Rich Lerner for a future story of undetermined type and share this for Lerner's Hooks and Cuts from Doral:
Spent Wednesday with Greg Norman and Chris Evert for a future story. Norman's taken up tennis in the last two years and is already very good, holding his own with the 18-time Grand Slam champion on the other side of the net. When they were finished, I said to Greg, "Hey you're pretty good and you have a fairly good teacher as well." With his arm around Chrissy he cracked, "Not only do I have a great instructor, but I get to sleep with her when the lesson's over!"
I'm smelling a Greg and Chrissy Cialis commercial: tennis where she's putting him out of his misery with a blistering backhand, Greg showing Chrissy the Vardon grip (from behind of course), dueling bathtubs on the yacht deck watching the sun set, etc...
Ron Sirak, writing about the firing of William Morris Agency:
The 19-year-old Wie, who has been on a rollercoaster ride of a pro career and last won a tournament nearly six years ago, went through three different agents while with WMA. First there was Ross Berlin, who lasted about a year, and then Greg Nared, who served a similar sentence. Always overseeing the operation for WMA was Jill Smoller, who was handling Wie's affairs directly when the relationship came to an end after the SBS Open in Hawaii in February.
"It's all good," Smoller said about the termination of the business deal with Wie. "I and we love Michelle and always will." That's a lot kinder than most of her many ex-caddies would say about a work situation that includes intense involvement by Michelle's parents, father B.J. and mother Bo. In all, Wie has had about 15 caddies since she started playing LPGA events seven years ago.
I don't know if Kyle Auclair is the luckiest snapper at Doral this week, but he certainly captured Henrik Stenson in his most, uh, organic moment. More of a Bert Yancey episode if you ask me, since it's not like he has to pay for these clothes he wears.
Here's his explanation in an AP story. And here is the Getty Images page with the entire Auclair sequence.
I love how Fanny appears to be totally unfazed by the scene. Then again, she worked for Faldo so it would take a lot to shock her.
Jeff Shain looks at the emergence of Doral's 16th as a driveable par-4 and gets this sneak preview for weekend play:
From the middle of the teeing ground, it's about 300 yards to the front of the putting surface. From a front marker, the middle of the green could be as close as 280 yards. That is where Tony Wallin expects to set his lure Saturday. From the front tee box, just about everyone will have the range.
''I think when you make a par-4 go-able, it should be for the whole field,'' said Wallin, the PGA Tour official in charge of this week's back-nine setup. "I'm going to make it as tempting as possible. I usually have a fairly easy hole location as well -- let's see some eagles. If they go for it and pull the shot off, reward them.''
Some, meanwhile, won't need a front tee to give it a try. In the past five Doral stops, there has been only one round in which no one attempted to drive the green.
''If you can reach it, you will go for it,'' Vijay Singh said.
Last year brought 53 attempts. None stayed on the putting surface.
''More often I'd drive it in the bunker around the green,'' Harrington said, "which I'm very happy with.''
A few images I took in Fall 2007 of the 16th:
Michael Buteau confirms Golfweek's report that we have a match made in heaven: IMG and B.J. Wie.
And here we were just thinking that her career guidance had stabilized along with her game.
Teeing off bright and early to the delight of scribes and lens experts, Tiger Woods followed his press conference by answering spellbinding questions about his knee, the match play and his new son. Then he had to duck for these brush back pitches:
Q. Do you have any plans in the future to play in Latin America at all?
Q. I wanted to ask you this in Arizona, but I never got a chance. You've made some really good commercials over the years, but this Sunshine Lollipops Rainbows one, this is outstanding, this one. What is the story on this one, and commercially, do you dig them or are they a pain?
He was asked a few tougher questions.
Q. You alluded to this earlier, that state of the TOUR, with sponsorships and whatnot, are not the best, and early in the season, Commissioner Finchem asked people to be a little more participating, I guess, and asked for cooperation of players. Do you contemplate playing in events that you typically haven't before? Of course, this is assuming the knee is in good shape; or any other kind of contributions?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, well, I can help out as much as I possibly can. I know I'm doing a few things for Tim down the road, but as far as competing in more events, I really don't know.
For Tim? Sounds so...romantic when you put it that way.
And regarding his criticized last minute entry to Doral...
Q. After the Match Play event, I think the assumption was that this would be your next tournament, barring any physical setbacks; why did you wait till the last minute to commit?
TIGER WOODS: Kind of typically what I always do (laughter).
TIGER WOODS: I don't know. I just tend to do things that way. (Smiling).
And on missing Masters excitement:
Q. Do you miss that?
TIGER WOODS: I miss guys being able to go out there and shoot 31 on that back nine and win a championship. You know, granted, we have had bad weather the last two years and that's aided the high scoring. But hopefully we can get some good weather and the ball will be flying again, like it can, and guys will be a little bit more aggressive on that back nine and create a little more excitement on Sunday.
"Tiger shot 18-under at Augusta, everyone was pretty happy with that. That started the problem, didn't it."
Warning: the scribblers are hard at work on timely "how to restore excitement to Augusta" stories this year. You can tell by the questions asked of Tiger Woods and Geoff Ogilvy during Wednesday's Doral press gatherings.
Isn't it nice to see that the folks who defended the madness of Hootie's ways finally coming around?
I thought this was interesting from Ogilvy, answering a question about whether he would have a problem with 15 or 17 under winning a major:
GEOFF OGILVY: No problem at all. I think the majority of guys out here, want to get rewarded for good shots. They understand you've got to get punished for bad shots. And they want the guy who plays the best that week to win the tournament, whether that's 15-over or 15-under, that's not really relevant.
Sometimes you feel like you're playing golf courses, and they get so hard, that it's impossible when you play well to kind of have it show in your score. Oakmont, Tiger had the best round in history tee-to-green on Saturday, and he shot 1-over or something like that or 1-under, and he hit 18 greens. It was ridiculous, because the greens were so crazy, he didn't get to -- we don't now talk about Tiger's third round at Oakmont because he wasn't allowed to do it.
But one of the best majors, probably ten years ago, Bob May and Tiger at Valhalla, it was at least, 16-, 17-under, 18; I mean, how good was that tournament to watch? That was incredible. Tiger shot 18-under at Augusta, everyone was pretty happy with that. That started the problem, didn't it. (Laughter).
It just needs to reward the guy -- I think it needs to reward the guys that are playing the best. Guys are sick of missing by a yard and having to chip it four yards out of the fairway, and the guy who is a yard away is hitting the green and making the birdie. There needs to be a correlation to how you play and how you score, and sometimes when it gets so hard, there isn't.
"Amendment 309 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, introduced by Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma"
Initial disbursements from the $787 billion stimulus package were delivered in late February. Golf won't see a cent. Amendment 309 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, introduced by Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, excludes funding for "any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course or swimming pool."
A putdown was not the intention, said Don Tatro, press secretary for Sen. Coburn. "It was not a slap at golf. It has to be looked at in the larger view of priorities. Nevertheless, we realize there are elements where parochial interests weighed in with the next election cycle in mind."
As decadence took over, the $50 green fee somehow became a bargain. The biggest losers have been kids denied a spawning ground, and the game has become poorer for it.
But there are signs of a reawakening. Youth on Course, a program begun in 2006 in conjunction with the Northern California Golf Association, seeks to facilitate the early connection that is the game's best insurance policy. Donated money, much but not all from the aforementioned rich guys, is used to purchase mostly off-peak starting times--some 28,000 last year--from participating public courses. Those times are then made available to golfers under 18, generally for $2 a round. At facilities with ranges, it's $1 a bucket. More than 100 courses in California--whose managers are more acutely aware than ever that a starting time unused is revenue forever lost--have supplied more than 11,000 kids with the deep discount. Meanwhile, former USGA president Sandy Tatum, that 88-year-old missionary of the public game, is hoping to make the program a national model.
That won't come cheap. Paul Morton, co-founder of Youth on Course, says it will take $1.2 million to maintain the program at current levels.
Any mathematicians care to guess what you think a national program would cost?
In case it disappears with the unfortunate closing of T&L Golf, don't miss Paul Rogers' excellent profile of Boston Golf Club and the late John Mineck.