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  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
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    Kindle Edition

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Writing And Videos

The medium of the artist is paint, and he becomes its master; but the medium of the golf architect is the surface of the earth over which the forces of Nature alone are master. Therefore, in the prosecution of his designs, if the architect correctly uses the forces of nature to express them and thus succeeds in hiding his hand, then, only, has he created that illusion which can still all criticism.



"I just feel in certain ways we've kind of grown apart a little bit, especially the players and the Commissioner's office."

Ernie Els opened up to the Western BMW Championship press today and ignited a bit of a firestorm...

Q. It seems like the top players, three in a row is the max where they feel they can give everything mentally maybe more than physically. Do you think maybe scheduling four weeks in a row is just one too many?

ERNIE ELS: You know, as we said, when I announced all the changes at the end of last year, beginning of this year, everybody was like, what do you think, what do you think, and we all said, let's see how it all pans out. Nobody knows exactly how this thing is going to work. Let's see how it works out.

Obviously the way things have been going, I haven't realized really through the year, but since the U.S. Open we've had big events upon big events, right through until now. The guys that play Europe events like myself, we played the Scottish Open before the British Open, so there's another two weeks. And then you come over and then there's the Bridgestone, then the PGA. Then we had a week off, and then before now, and then we get a week off and then we play The Presidents Cup. Next year they have the Ryder Cup. I don't know what they're going to do next year.

As we said, nobody really knew how this thing was going to pan out, and obviously now with guys playing and making up all our excuses, but that's the way we feel. Otherwise we can't give it our best shot, so that's the way it is.

Making up excuses? Hmmm... 
Q. You're one of the star players out here. Did they consult with you before this thing went into effect as far as the schedule was going to be so bunched up, and what did you tell them at the time?

ERNIE ELS: That's a good question. Unfortunately, no, they did not express anything to the players. They asked those questions, but they didn't come out and say, okay, look, this is what we're going to do, what do you think. It was all about -- you know, it wasn't directly asked. And unfortunately, we are in this position now because they didn't either listen or they just went on with the decision, and this is where we are.


Q. Would it work to just have a bye week, maybe have an off week right in the middle of the FedExCup?

ERNIE ELS: As I say, you know, I'm just throwing out a little -- throwing out a bone there. Two in a row, look at stuff that's happened this year and see if we can have a bit of a different way forward. You're putting the world golf players really under strain, guys like myself, guys like Tiger, guys like Phil, guys that play on the world stage because you really want to be up for the majors, and then after the majors are now, now you've got to be up for the FedEx. It's tough physically, mentally, on your family, business, everything, to keep yourself away from so-called real life for nine weeks almost. You know, it's difficult.

That's why you need a G5! Oh wait, you already have one right? Sorry. Continue...

Q. Sorry for the bizarre nature of this question, but if you seem at all lukewarm or not sure about the FedExCup thingy or what have you, and this isn't the only scheduling issue you've had with the TOUR in the last three or four years, why do you keep doing so many commercials for them?

ERNIE ELS: I think we like them. You almost have fun with them, and you kind of meet people. I think a lot of players do a lot for the TOUR. Let's face it, the TOUR does a lot for us, too. I just feel in certain ways we've kind of grown apart a little bit, especially the players and the Commissioner's office. We've grown apart from each other because of these big decisions that were made without the real knowledge of the players, you know?

The $10 million deal was a big deal. I don't think Tiger knew about it, Phil didn't know about it, I didn't know about it, a lot of people didn't know. When we heard about it, we thought, geez, that's unbelievable. It still is, but it's -- we're going to see that money hopefully 20, 25 years down the line.


Q. When did you find out about it?

ERNIE ELS: Kind of when everybody found out about it, the first couple of weeks into the season.
You know, you still want to support the TOUR. We love what the TOUR has done for us, but we just need to get closer to the big decisions because then we won't get into problems down the line, you know? I know there's a board and there's another board. There's two boards. There's a players' board, which I don't think means much. They don't have any ballot. The ballot is all done behind closed doors. That's kind of where we're growing apart.


"I just don't understand why we can't play here year after year."

Tiger Woods at the Western BMW Championship:

Q. Has the format been working out? There were concerns about how many weeks in a row you'd have to play, but it seems like players have been able to schedule a week off at some point.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, a lot of guys are taking weeks off. I took the first week off, Ernie took last week, Phil and Paddy are taking this week off. If you combine the total for the guys who are playing The Presidents Cup, it's seven out of nine weeks, end of the year, end of the summer. Guys are finding it out to play seven out of nine weeks, except for Vijay. He's the only one.

Q. When this things was pitched to you, the idea that the schedule was going to be so bunched, did you express reservations about your ability to play that many in a row?

TIGER WOODS: We all did. We all didn't think it was in the best interest for us as players to play that much. We normally don't play that much, especially towards the end of the year. Most of the guys usually shut it down post-PGA, and maybe the only time you start playing a lot is maybe trying to get ready for the Ryder Cup.
Hmmm, no comment for the moment but weren't you the one who wanted a shorter season?
Q. Should the TOUR maybe have listened a little bit more to you guys instead of scheduling the tournaments the way they are, especially going into next year when you have the Ryder Cup right after that?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it's going to be interesting to see what happens. It's a lot of golf for a lot of guys. These are all big events. It's not like these are small events. They're all big events that you have World Golf Championships follows by a major, and then you have these four events and then you have The Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup.

It's a bunch of big events. It's not like you have events where most of the guys like at Kapalua take it easy out there and go have fun at night, and if they play good golf, great. That's not the case.

And we finally get some clarification where he stands on cash versus deferred compensation. He has been rumored to have been displeased with the latter of the two options. 
Q. The deferred issue, where do you come down on that? I know you talked about how you might be dead by the time you collected it, but how much is it an issue, and could that be solved?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think it is an issue. I don't think -- well, I know a lot of the players weren't aware of it this year, that that's what we were playing for. If the players aren't aware of it, obviously the public won't be aware of it. I think that's one of the major issues for all of us is that it's not the true payout. It's like, how great would it be like in the World Series of Poker, at the first tee starting the first day of the TOUR Championship, that's all you see is it stacked up there and that's what you're playing for. That would create a lot of buzz. But as you said, I may not be around to collect it.

And regarding the Western...

Q. How disappointed are you to not come back to Chicago for two more years?

TIGER WOODS: Hey, I didn't like that idea. I think this is a great town. It's one of the biggest sport towns, if not one of the biggest markets we have in our country. I just don't understand why we can't play here year after year. People have always come out and supported the Western Open. They've always come out in big droves and really supported this tournament, and it's unfortunate that we're leaving here. I have a fondness for this tournament because I used to play here as an amateur, and it's always been near and dear to my heart.

This is interesting...

Q. Would you support either a U.S. Open or a PGA Championship being held here at this course?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's not quite ready for that. It's not up to that level yet. I think after Rees gets a hold of it and makes some alterations to it, I think that it depends on how severe he's going to tweak the golf course, then yeah, you could possibly say you could get a PGA here or maybe a U.S. Open. But probably a PGA, if anything.

So does that mean he thinks a full Rees-toration increases the chances of landing a major? Oh let's hope not.

Now back to the schedule...

Q. Would building in a week off in the playoff schedule, would that address some of the problems? Would that help?

TIGER WOODS: Well, it's the way the schedule is with where you moved the Firestone event, prior to the PGA. Even if you put it post-PGA, it's still there. And then you have these four events, and then next year we have the Ryder Cup in there, as well. That's a lot of events for the guys. As I said, it's not easy events. They're all big events and events that you feel like you have to play well. It is what it is.

And it is what you wanted it to be.

Q. It sounds as if there's really no logical place on the calendar to put something like this.

TIGER WOODS: There really isn't. If the schedule is this short, there really isn't. That's kind of what you're running into.

Q. Does it seem strange that it's early September and the TOUR Championship is like next week already instead of two months away?

TIGER WOODS: You're right, that does seem different. Plus also, I think a welcome change for all of us, too. Most of us are going to take some time off and shut it down -- some of the guys, Vijay will still continue to play.

But some of the guys it's nice for them to take a break before they head down to Australia and support their Tour or South Africa and support their Tour. You know, Phil has usually built in his break post-Firestone event. But I think it's great for a lot of guys. It's a time for them to take some time off before they have to go out and support their Tours and travel all over.

Welcome change? Ugh...I'm confused.


Ominous Chicago Forecast

Ed Sherman on the lousy weather forecast for the Western Open BMW Championship and the tour's decision to move up tee times in hopes of finishing Sunday.

Flashback: "Woods and Mickelson didn't draw up the plan, they simply were the strongest voices."

Just in case Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods try to put all of the blame on Commissioner Tim Finchem for the shortened season, they might want to read Doug Ferguson's July, 2006 column on how the shortened season came about. It was originally posted here.

"I think for us to compete against football, and for us to continue our season after the PGA Championship as long as it does, I just think it kind of loses its luster," Mickelson said at La Costa in February 2005. "It's just not exciting. I'd love to see a lot less tournaments on tour, so the top players play in a greater percentage of those events."

Woods and Mickelson are not the best of friends, but it sounded as though they were in cahoots on this one. For it was only two days later that Woods also argued for a shorter season.

"End it Labor Day," he said.

A week later at Doral, Woods was more expansive on his wish for an early end to the regular season, which would allow top players to compete against each more often besides the eight biggest events — four majors, The Players Championship and three World Golf Championships.

"It would be more exciting for the fans, and I'm sure the sponsors and TV and everybody, if we did play more often together," Woods said. "The only way you could do that is if we shortened the season, which I've really been trying to get into Finchem's ear about."
And Ferguson ended with this....
Woods and Mickelson didn't draw up the plan, they simply were the strongest voices.

And until the PGA Tour goes through its first season under the revamped schedule, no one can be sure it's a bad idea.

If it is, blame them.



Boston Ratings Nearly Double Westchester

From Tod Leonard's San Diego Union Tribune golf column, writing about Phil Mickelson skipping Cog Hill:

Is it a terrible blow to the FedEx Cup? Absolutely. With Mickelson and Woods battling down the stretch on the Monday holiday, when many people are presumed to be out in the pool, NBC's overnight ratings were nearly double (4.0 to 2.1) that of the previous week's Woods-free playoff opener. And now, with your No. 1 “team” taking a bye in the “semifinals,” what kind of “playoffs” are these?


Larry Craig Stealing Phil and Tiger's Line!


FedEx Cup Reviews, Week 2

fedexcuplogo.jpgGary Van Sickle says Tiger-Phil and TPC Boston was the highpoint of the 2007 season as does Jim Litke. Neither notes that non-coincidence that the dramatic week happened to be carried out on a course with interesting design twists and was set up in a way that allowed the players to play golf. Yes, those awful 63's were possible and even fired, yet somehow the game survived double digits under par.

Van Sickle also offers his second SI piece on remedies for the FedEx Cup, which he says is not looking anything like a playoff. He looks at scheduling issues and finishes with the points.

What do you do with all your FedEx Cup points once you've been eliminated? No, you can't put them toward a flat-screen TV.

Oberholser, who jumped from 67th to 29th in the standings, was asked if he'd prefer FedEx Cup points or Marriott points.

"I'd rather have Marriott points," he said, "but neither one gives you enough for what you expend."
Steve Elling reports from Chicago where they aren't too happy about Phil's WD:
In uncharacteristically blunt terms, tournament director John Kaczkowski said he was both disappointed and surprised when Mickelson --the FedEx points leader midway through the four-week series -- elected to skip the tournament. When the tour approached event officials months ago and pitched the FedEx concept, there were certain assurances made, he said, before the ink had dried.

"Yes, absolutely, it was an understanding that all the top players were committed to play, and going to play," he said.
And he shares this, which based on the degree of eloquence, comes from a Notre Dame grad... 
But for those who watched the bedlam in Boston on Monday, when Mickelson outdueled Woods mano-a-mano for the first time in the same final-round pairing, the prospects of the two being again paired in the first two rounds at the BMW must have been enticing.

However fleeting it proved to be.

"It's a joke," said Larry Polanski, 42, a fan from nearby Rockford who watched the practice rounds on Tuesday. "You buy a ticket assuming these guys are going to be here, then they're not. It's like false advertising or something."

Golf World's John Hawkins takes a stab at reasons for Phil's little spat with the Commissioner:

Why was Mickelson, one of golf's straightest shooters, being so cryptic? More than one top-tier player, according to a source, is unhappy with the tour's decision to defer payment on the $10 million grand prize awarded to the postseason champion (see accompanying story). It's not the idea of waiting on the money that irks them, but the prevailing notion among several superstars that officials at PGA Tour headquarters make crucial decisions without consulting the players.

Mickelson also mentioned the season-end cluster that asks the top-tier tour pros to play seven important tournaments in nine weeks -- a stretch that began with the British Open and concludes next week with the Tour Championship in Atlanta. It was a strange way to end such a big day, but then, Lefty had been just as vague after firing a second-round 64 while paired with Woods and Vijay Singh, when he awoke a half-slumbering press gathering with one of his vintage riffs.

And Doug Ferguson on Mickelson:

Anyone who thinks this FedExCup finale isn't working because one player stays home hasn't been paying attention. These "playoffs" are bringing together a great collection of players and producing exciting golf. Through two weeks, there is no denying that.

No one remembers that Woods skipped The Barclays. No one knew Els was missing last week at the Deutsche Bank. And the BMW Championship will get by just fine without Mickelson.

For some reason, though, Mickelson wanted to make it personal.

Fast forward...

Mickelson doesn't like that the $10 million payoff for the FedExCup champion is deferred -- and he's not alone on that point. He has argued that the TOUR should designate 20 tournaments a year in which the top players must compete, and he has never been a big fan of being required to play in pro-ams. He doesn't believe the TOUR should subsidize the purses at events opposite the World Golf Championships.

Which issue became the trigger, only Mickelson knows. The surprise was the shot across the bow, especially considering how guarded Mickelson is when the lights come on.

For a guy who fiercely protects a polished image, Mickelson risked that by taking a sucker punch at Finchem on national TV.

His statement Tuesday didn't help, particularly when he said that withdrawing from Chicago "in no way is meant as disrespectful to the TOUR or 'sending a message' to anyone."

Mickelson said he's looking for balance, and that his family has sacrificed a lot this year because it's been a very difficult schedule. But this is the same guy who said at the PGA Championship last month that he was excited for the FedExCup because of all the time he lost this summer with a wrist injury.

It probably didn't help that when Mickelson announced he was pulling out of the BMW Championship, he was a half-hour away at Medinah Country Club playing in a corporate outing. The outing was planned long ago, but it didn't look good. 


"Phil's imagery is interesting"

Tim Rosaforte looks at what appears to be a developing theme: elite player dissatisfaction with the details surrounding the deferred compensation package for the FedEx Cup.

The confusion stems from the tour's business plan of taking $19 million of FedEx money, adding it to their pool of resources (which according to former policy board member Tom Pernice Jr. includes $16 million from the tour's retirement fund) to make a total of $35 million -- with an eye-popping $10 million to the winner. "[The message] the tour wants to get across is that [the playoffs are] more about winning the FedEx Cup than the money," Pernice said. "But they've made it a money issue [by making the prize money] deferred."
Some players -- Davis Love III and Jim Furyk, most notably -- have been outspoken proponents of the deferred payment idea. The griping has come as a surprise to tour officials. Tour executive vice president Ty Votaw explains that the deferred plan went through all the proper channels, from the PAC to the board of directors, which includes both players and four leading businessmen. Votaw also noted that Woods, Els and Mickelson were asked for their input during the process (although a representative for one of the Big Three told Golf World that the tour received some opposition and not support for the deferred concept).

"Phil's imagery is interesting," Votaw said. "We could still roll out $10 million in a wheelbarrow. The difference is the $10 million is being deposited into an account. An annuity is different. The $10 million starts growing the day it goes in."

As compelling as the idea of cash is for the average fan, Votaw and players like Joe Ogilvie are able to make a compelling case that the deferred compensation is great for the rank and file players. What I'm not understanding is why the elite players like Mickelson and Woods may be so against it. Unless they are simply looking at this from a fan perspective and realizing that "deferred compensation" is a lot less sexy than cash.

This is interesting...

As for Pernice's claim that a portion of the $35 million came from the retirement fund, Votaw told Golf World the FedEx payout, which includes $32,000 for last place, was part of the tour's overall budget. "I'm not going to get into sources of revenues, but there's an allocation of resources that takes place, and that takes place every year," he said. "Our job is to create as many economic opportunities as possible for our players."


Says former policy-board member Olin Browne, "It's a lot easier to tuck the money in a safe corner rather than hand somebody a check. It stands to have much greater value down the line. In the meantime, nobody's on the hook for the cash. It's in there somewhere. It's on the books. But I don't know the whole thing seems a little convoluted to me."

"These wedges he's designed have really paid off for him this week."

Did you catch when Johnny Miller said that during the final round telecast of the 2007 Deutsche Bank Championship after yet another of Phil Mickelson's miracle up and downs?

I couldn't help but think of our beloved old pal Stu Schneider, who not only would have been all over Example 492 of Johnny's blatant Callaway conflict of interest (I know, I know, he mentioned the Sasquatch after a Tiger drive...yada, yada).

But it should also be said that Stu might have noted the telecast as perhaps NBC's best of the year and a classic example of how good NBC's golf coverage can be when given a compelling finish and course. 


Murray Blames Golf For His Cart Driving DUI

We can only hope he's prepping for a reprisal of the Spackler role with talk like this. Apparently the cart was used during a pro-am and he just kept on driving with it until...

I ended up stopping and dropping people off on the way like a bus. I had about six people in the thing and I dropped them off one at a time and as the last couple were getting out, who wished to be dropped off at a 7-Eleven. ... I didn't know they had 7-Elevens in Stockholm," said Murray, who turns 57 on Sept. 21.



So Nice To See John Cleese Working...

When the script resorts to gently spoofing the CEO, I suppose that's refreshing. Or a signal that it's time to pull the plug on John Cleese's steadiest check in decades.


2011 FedEx Cup In Doubt If Woods Decides To Walk Sam To First Day of Pre-School

Okay sometimes this hiding behind family values stuff gets the best of me. (By the way, did Phil's offspring wait around for him today while he did his corporate outting?)

Anyway, it does seem that Tiger is going to pass on the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, what with Doug Ferguson already speculating on possible replacements.

Don't laugh, but Mike Weir is the third alternate.  


Phil Refuses To Let Nanny Take The Kids To School, Will Skip BMW

It's official...



That's Padraig's explanation for pulling out of Chicago and the rest of the playoffs.



Deutsche Bank Wrap Up

Paul Kenyon and Kevin McNamara on reaction to the TPC Boston changes and the possibility of more work to come, with this from Deutsche Bank's Seth Waugh:
“Some of the holes, you look at them and half the hole has been changed. That side has, but this side doesn’t have the same look,” Waugh said. “The course plays differently, more strategically because of Gil’s work.”

The fourth hole, which went from a dogleg 435-yarder to a 298-yard par-4, was the hole the players least liked, Waugh reported. The new hole, driveable for virtually all of the players, was much better received.

Among others, Phil Mickelson went 2, 3, 5, 3 on the hole, picking up three strokes on Tiger Woods, who went 6, 2, 4, 4. Because it provides wild swings in scoring, officials are discussing the possibility of setting up new stands behind the green and making it one of the focus holes.

The hope is to continue to modify the course, although now it becomes merely fine-tuning.

“Gil is an artist. Brad is, too. You just let them go paint the picture,” Waugh said.

Jim McCabe has more from a jubiliant Waugh, comments from Waugh that make it quite clear how little schedule tinkering will go on for 2008, and this update on the much talked about fourth hole:
When all was said and done, the much talked-about par-4 fourth - a 298-yarder that had plenty of skeptics - held its own. No doubt, players took aim and plenty drove the green - 134 of them in four days. Five players made eagles as the hole played to a field average of 3.714 to rank 16th. But as a testament to the devilish nature of the hole, of the top eight players on the leaderboard at the start of the day, only Mickelson made birdie in the final round. Crunching some numbers after 374 scores had been recorded over four days:

Woods never did birdie it. He had a three-putt par yesterday, a par in Round 3, an eagle Saturday, and that unforgettable double bogey thanks to three bunker shots Friday.

Tom Pernice was the only player of the 75 who made the cut to play the hole over par. He made the championship's only triple bogey, then followed with three pars.

Mickelson played it in 3 under.

Sergio Garcia had four pars.

Cameron Morfit says the Mickelson issue is simple: he hasn't played well at Cog Hill.

Where's Mickelson's Beef?

Looking at his frank remarks to Mark Rolfing late in 2005, I thought I might get a better feel for what it is that has Phil Mickelson so upset with Tim Finchem. Instead, I'm more confused than ever. Read this, then read his comments after the Deutsche Bank and he comes across as irrational.


Mickelson's "Intent" Revealed: To Drive Finchem Batty

Mauricio, this is Mr. Finchem's office calling, we would like to move up that color session scheduled for next week to this week.

Oh, Mr. Daly acting up again?


Mr. Woods?


Mr. Mickelson?

Yes Mauricio, you obviously saw the telecast. So how about Thursday, just be at the airport and the Falcon will take you up to Chicago and back, just like in May when you took care of him.

Oh I remember, the drug testing stress. Well tell Mr. Finchem I'll bring the nice light brown he prefers for the summer months.

I will tell him.

Steve Elling pieces together the details of Phil Mickelson pulling down his pants and turning a positively joyous, downright classic golf tournament into yet more millionaire bickering spilling out on national TV (I knew I should have left for the beach after NBC signed off!).

And you know the way Elling spells it out, as well as Chris Lewis (who transcribes the Jimmy Roberts interview) I think Phil's going to have people feeling sorry for the Commissioner. That's not easy to do!

If you want to read it straight from Mr. Family Man's mouth, here are the key excerpts, with the point misser and rally kill trimmed for your reading sanity. Well, except for that in-house, PGA Tour designed kill...

Q. Based on some comments on TV, is your rival now Tiger or Tim?

PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, no, no. I don't have a problem, it's just that I'm a little conflicted on some things because I'm trying to -- I want to have a balance in my life, and I certainly feel the obligation to play and support the FedExCup and to support the PGA TOUR, support the game of golf.

And I also want to have balance in my family life, and my family has sacrificed a lot this year because it's been a very difficult schedule. It's not the four FedExCup tournaments; it's the PGA, Akron right before that, only four days off after the British Open before we had to travel and playing two weeks before that, so it's been the last three months having no more than two days off at a time and working to do corporate outings in between.

Can we set this to Schubert? Maybe string quartet No. 14 to really capture the totality of this terrible man making you play so much golf for all that money in between your corporate outtings!
So our time together has struggled, and I want to have a balance there. They start school next week, so I have that conflict -- or obligation and desire to be there.
My frustration from this past year came from asking for a couple of things in the FedExCup that weren't done and not really feeling all that bad now if I happen to miss. So I'm not really sure how it's going to play out.

Like I said, he's making you feel for the Commissioner isn't he?

Q. You said a couple discussion points with Tim that you were looking for vis-á-vis the design of the Playoff structure.

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't want to go into it. Just I want to support it and I certainly feel the obligation to, but I also have to have a balance both ways.

Q. Did you talk about it this week?
PHIL MICKELSON: Every time I see him this year I bring it up.

And this would be what? Oh right, that's confidential.

Here's a nice endorsement for the playoffs, again, after a thrilling finish that has done wonders for his season, brought great attention to his sponsors, wonderful vibes for Boston fans and in general, boosted the FedEx Cup's profile....

Q. Were you more excited about the FedExCup or more excited about 2008?

PHIL MICKELSON: I'm excited about the way this week went. I loved this finish, I loved being able to play three rounds with the best player of arguably all time and certainly the best player in the world today, and to be able to come out on top feels great, and that just leads to excitement for the coming here, as well as I guess the finish of the year. But '08 is when our next major is, so that's kind of what I'm looking forward to.

Q. Are you going to play next week?
PHIL MICKELSON: I was just saying, I don't know.

Q. But you'll be in Chicago --
PHIL MICKELSON: I'm not sure. I don't know.

Q. You'll be there tomorrow, though?
PHIL MICKELSON: I'll be there tomorrow. I had already scheduled an outing I was planning on playing, but I'm not sure.

Q. If you were to skip next week, would that mean skipping the last one, too?
PHIL MICKELSON: No, I would end up going to Atlanta.
STEWART MOORE: I believe we've touched on 12 and 18. Can you briefly take us through the rest of your birdies?

Are rally kills by the in-house PGA Tour staff eligible for Rally Killer of the Year? Hmmm...


"Well, I don't know, there's only two of us this time"

From Steve Elling's preview of today's Woods-Mickelson pairing:

Mickelson stands two shots behind 54-hole leader Brett Wetterich, who is 13 under, while Woods is three back. The game's two most popular players were paired for the first two days at TPC Boston, along with Vijay Singh, attracting a huge throng. The crowd following the two biggest draws in the game Monday ought to make the mood over the first two days look serene.

"Well, I don't know, there's only two of us this time," Mickelson cracked.


"I've got to slow things down."

Tad Reeve and Aaron Barber play Hazeltine with retro club and Reeve reports on the round.

Normally, I'd hit a 3-wood off the tee at No. 10. That's a metal 3-wood. This time, I needed all the distance I could get, so I pulled out the driver. You see that little wooden club head behind the ball, and you can't help but think of all the things that could go wrong. It felt clunky. Naturally, I hooked it deep into the woods, but that isn't unusual for me on that hole. Only this time, I was a good 50 yards shorter than normal, about 175 yards out.

Normally, Aaron would hit an 18-degree hybrid here. Instead, he pulled out the driver, too. He was uncomfortable, too, saying it felt heavier than his driver. His shot flared to the right and settled into the edge of the rough 235 yards away, quite a dropoff from the 277 yards he averaged with his driver on the front nine.

"Oh, geez, that's the swing I make with my regular driver," Aaron said after making contact. "I've got to slow things down."

After that, he did. He adjusted quickly. Each of his next three drives went more than 250 yards, and he averaged 244 for the nine holes. But more importantly, he adapted to the nuances of the old clubs.

"All through the back nine," he said, "I only thought about scoring and not about how the shot looked."

He hit the set of Wilson Staff irons as well as the Titleist DCI 962 irons he normally plays with. He lost maybe five yards in distance with each club, but he is used to hitting pro-style irons that have smaller sweet spots, which elite golfers like because of added control and feel. He was quick to admit that he was hitting pretty well that day, and on a day when he didn't feel so much in the groove, the results wouldn't have been so ... well ... groovy.

He had a couple of three-putts on the back nine, caused by poor lag putting, but he didn't feel overly hamstrung by the old-style putter. It reminded him of the putters he had as a kid. And, to be fair, Aaron Barber is good. You don't get to the level he reached without talent.

"Guys who play for a living," he says, "have to adapt real quick."

There was also a video that accompanied the piece online...



Deutsche Monday

Doug Ferguson on what figures to be an exciting Monday in Boston. I wonder if Phil is going to get some chuckles watching Tiger do whatever it is that Butch told him to watch for?