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Golf is the Great Mystery. Like some capricious goddess, it bestows its favours with what would appear an almost fat-headed lack of method and discrimination. On every side we see two-fisted he-men floundering round in three figures, stopping every few minutes to let through little shrimps with knock-knees and hollow cheeks, who are tearing off snappy seventy-fours. Giants of finance have to accept a stroke per from their junior clerks. Men capable of governing empires fail to control a small, white ball, which presents no difficulties whatever to others with one ounce more brain than a cuckoo-clock. Mysterious, but there it is.  P.G. WODEHOUSE


    

Friday
Sep222006

"I just wanted to get it out quick."

Gosh, I hope someone got photos or video of this:

Japanese golfer Mitsuhiro Tateyama is likely to shudder whenever he comes across the number 19 in future after a horrific round at this week's Acom International.

Still, though, Tateyama could see the funny side after setting a Japanese record by taking 19 on a par-3 hole at the Ishioka Golf Club on Thursday.

 The 38-year-old found the rough with his second shot before hitting it into bushes where he took 14 shots to hack the ball out -- but at least he avoided three-putting.

It was the worst single-hole score since Norio Suzuki incorrectly signed for a 42, his nine-hole total, at a Japanese tournament in 1987. The previous worst for one hole was 15.

"There were more reporters around me than for the leader," joked Tateyama after his meltdown on the eighth. "That must be a world record or something."

Tateyama added: "My mind went blank. I lost count of the number of strokes I had. I couldn't even see the ball when it was in the bushes. I just wanted to get it out quick."

Tateyama, who has never won a Japanese tour title, finished with a 13-over-par 84 but surprisingly avoided carding the day's worst score after recovering with four birdies.

 

Friday
Sep222006

A Few Mid-Friday Clippings

2006rydercup.jpgJust a moment ago...while we were away...sorry, just brushing up on my announcing skills.

Since some us on the West Coast are still watching the four-ball matches as play has actually concluded, I offer up a few suggested stories without (hopefully) giving too much away about the results.

Oh, and I love the bright yellow billboards and Rolex clocks around the tees. So understated and subtle.

Damon Hack offers a short and sweet NY Times summary of day one.

Doug Ferguson serves up capsules of the morning matches.

Norman Dabell on Tiger's play today.

The Principal has some fun with Chris DiMarco's fist pumping. He also notes the pitiful pace of play during morning play.

Dave Seanor reports on Saturday morning's pairings, which include one rematch.

Sporting Life compiles key quotes from the day. 

For those of you able to watch, any thoughts on day 1 play? 

Thursday
Sep212006

Ryder Cup Clippings, Thursday Edition

2006rydercup.jpgPoor Johnny is already backing off his statements from last week. The link includes other pre-match notes.

Lawrence Donegan analyzes the omission of Donald and Howell from the morning four-ball.  

But who would have guessed that Woosnam would have left out Luke Donald and David Howell, two of his three highest-ranked players?

The word from inside the European camp was that Donald does hit the ball far enough, but this is a drawback on a rain-sodden course that is playing far longer than its 7,335 yards, and Howell, who has been suffering the effects of a back injury for months, is simply not playing well enough. Of course Europe's captain, who has become a dab hand in the art of spin over the past few days, put it a lot more diplomatically. "Luke and David are going to blend beautifully in the foursomes. Really. They look great together. Or they could play with anybody," he said with a straight face. Any more of this and Woosie might find himself with a starring role in The Thick of It.

Alan Shipnuck senses there is an edge to the proceedings already.
The players and captains have taken great pains to be diplomatic, and there is no question that the outpouring of affection and empathy for Darren Clarke is genuine. But all the long run-up to Friday's start of play has been defined by the ugliness of the press coverage. Factor in the specter of a repeat of the deplorable fan behavior at the British Open along with the bad mojo in the European team room, which may yet go public, and suddenly this Ryder Cup is looking like it might be the juiciest since the War by the Shore in 1991.
Sam Bob Torrance tells Mike Aitken that Europe should win easily, and sounds a tad petty...
"You should be saying how many are we going to win by, not are we going to win it?" he grinned. "I definitely think Europe will win. First of all the greens are very slow. Secondly, the fairways are quite hairy, and they are wide. It's a tough course, but the Americans don't have hairy fairways and hairy greens. That's what Sam did at the Belfry. He got the greenkeepers to raise the cutters on the greens."
Wow, that's something to brag about!

 
John Hawkins reassures us that his hotel shower has good pressure while offering a few predictions on the morning four-ball matches.

71961633.jpgGolfDigest.com posted photos from the opening ceremonies in case you want to relive the pageantry.

John Huggan analyzes how the soft, windy and slow conditions will impact play, besides the obvious goofiness of it all.

Peter Kessler writes about the Ryder Cup's early days. You know, back when Great Britain need the rest of Europe's help to win.

The Principal shares a few fun thoughts on the Opening Ceremony.

Tim Carroll in the WSJ looks at the gimme's role in the Ryder Cup. Thanks to reader John for this.

intro.jpgSI.com has photos of wives, life partners and Greg Norman's daughter.

And finally, some sucker, err, "A bettor has staked $465,100 on the United States to win the Ryder Cup -- the biggest bet in golfing history.

 

Thursday
Sep212006

It'll Be Live...Online!

It's not like I was going to get up at 5 am to watch tape delayed Ryder Cup action anyway since I can get up at 6 and be caught up fast forwarding through commercials by 7, but in case any of my fellow Americans have insomnia and want to watch live at 12 a.m. Pacific or 3 a.m EST...

Turner Sports, an industry leader in televised sports programming, today announced an agreement with NBC Sports, the broadcast home of the Ryder Cup, to produce and distribute online streaming video content for the 2006 Ryder Cup tournament.  On Friday, September 22, fans will be able to watch NBC’s live streaming coverage of match play from 3 - 11a.m. (ET), as well as subsequent video highlights, pre and post-round press conferences, and live scoring throughout the remainder of the tournament on Turner’s RyderCup.com website.  Jennifer Mills of PGA TOUR Sunday on USA Network will provide interviews and analysis.

“This deal combines the excitement of the Ryder Cup and NBC Sports’ outstanding product with Turner’s unrivaled experience in seamlessly distributing online sporting events to fans,” said Lenny Daniels, senior vice president of sports production and new media for Turner Sports.  “Both consumers and the sports world have acknowledged the value of video on the Internet as a resource for viewing sporting events, whether at home, at work, or on the go.  We’re happy to continue to provide compelling, robust online content that sports fans continue to crave.”

Key words in the money quote: at work...

In addition to the featured streaming video, fans will be able to access live audio coverage of match play from Friday, September 22 through Sunday, September 24.  Also, fans will have access to message boards where they can post messages for members of both Team USA and Team Europe.

Turner Sports New Media (TSNM), a leading digital interactive sports media organization and a division of Turner Sports, has the Internet rights to the 2006 Ryder Cup which allows them to manage, produce and host the 2006 Ryder Cup Web site.

Why are they just announcing this now? 


Thursday
Sep212006

It's The Shoes, Vol. 2

Now Nike and Tiger are joining Padraig Harrington in claiming his shoes have added distance to a player's game.

BEAVERTON, Ore. (September 20, 2006) - Last month's PGA Championship set the stage for eventual champion Tiger Woods to debut Nike Golf's SP-8 TW Tour footwear, which is available in stores this fall. Since donning the stylish new design, which incorporates Nike's newest ground-breaking footwear technology, the Nike Power Platform, Woods' results have been astounding.

Not only did Woods go home with the Wannamaker Trophy after putting Nike's newest technology on his feet, but his average driving distance has since increased by nearly 10 yards. Prior to wearing the SP-8 TW Tour, Woods averaged 304.3 yards off the tee. Now, since wearing the SP-8 TW Tour, he is averaging 313.8 yards off the tee, according to PGA TOUR statistics. Also, among his recent five consecutive victories, three of them were with his Nike SP-8 TW Tour shoes.

"My right foot is grounded, my left foot has rolled forward and I'm in good balance," said Woods about his new footwear. "I definitely feel like I have more traction at impact."

Take that Hank Haney!

Thursday
Sep212006

Opening Ceremony Live Blog

2006rydercup.jpg7:32 - Oh this looks promising, it's not raining, we have weird characters dressed in costumes, big balloons, bombastic music and a stage setup eerily similar to the Hollywood Bowl. Let the absurdity begin! (All times Pacific.)

7:34 - Okay this music is still going and the we're just watching a bunch of people running around with these balloons. They must be a metaphor for something. 

7:35 - Some hot babe named Ni Bheolain is master of ceremonies. Definitely a step up from Samuel L. Jackson and his newsboy cap.

7:38 - We see the Ryder Cup on the grand stage. It's uh, tiny. Oh, Bheloain just mentioned all of the great links courses they have in Ireland. Too bad we won't see one of them this week.

7:42 - Uh oh, a piper is coming out. I suppose this is where we'd bring out a baton twirler in the U.S., so I won't complain.

7:46 - That piper was way too classy.

7:51 - Let the boring speeches begin. Starting with Phil Weaver of the European PGA. He's glued to his script. This doesn't bode well for Woosie getting to read off of a teleprompter.

7:53 - Former captains are introduced, including the legendary Bernard Hunt and then, the King, Arnold Palmer who no one seems to know where he is. Ooops! Arnold wasn't there? Maybe he had to pee.

7:55 - Here comes the new agey Celtic music, complete with guys wearing tank tops who shouldn't wear tank tops. Where's John Tesh when you need him?

7:58 - The Euro spouses, including Mrs. Woosnam are up and dancing to this stuff, the American wives reluctantly are standing and clapping. Mrs. Lehman included.

7:59 - Bathroom break time, PGA of America's Roger Warren is speaking! Lukewarm applause greets him. Wait, he's either memorized his speech or has a prompter. Good news for Woosie!?

8:03 - Warren wraps it up, finally. Says this week will perpetuate the values of the game.  Let's hope.

8:05 - Introducing former Irish Ryder Cup players. We saw two of them I think. Stellar camera work. Who let the BBC in?

8:07 - Here comes the dance "extravaganza" according to this Ni gal from the Star Trek Enterprise. Oh we have smoke, we have monks, we see people showing their dirty feet and more new age music.  It's no Riverdance. It's worse.

8:12 - Oh no, there's a giant horse with someone on top humping it with flags waving, all set to Celtic hyms. Thank God the children are in school for this. 

8:15 - Executives from the Tours are present in matching suits, so glad they spent money on that. Tim Finchem is muttering to Joe Steranka, "boy we have work to do for the President's Cup opening ceremony. Think we can get Celine for Montreal next year?" 

8:16 - The teams arrive on stage, the Euros going open collar in lime green jackets, the U.S. in their Price Waterhouse suits. The look like Irish pimps in Miami Beach. The Euro team, that is.

8:24 - We wrap up the national anthems and the awkward shots of players and wives trying to sing along to super fast versions. 

8:25 - Uh oh, Captain's speech time. Woosie's Depends are getting some action. But Lehman's first.

8:26 - Lehman's already choked up. He wishes Woosie and the Euros good luck. Woosie looks like he's in pain!!!  

8:30 - And now it's time for the speech he's been working on since February...Ian Woosnam. Wait, the podium is taller than Ian. Someone get a phone book! Oh he's a wreck. "They say it could be over a billion" and he's referring to the size of the audience. Right! Just like the Academy Awards.

8:32 - Did Woosie just say Ireland is famous for its crack? His dye job looks great.

8:32 - We're paying tribute to Arnold Palmer...and again, we have no camera shot of him! Where is The King??? 

8:34 - Woosie has stopped stuttering and is in a groove..wait, he just said Walter Reagan. Oops. Hagen.

8:35 - He's stuttering all over the part about upholding the traditions of the game...not a good sign.

8:37 - Woosie butchers the player intros..going out of order. Nice touch. Keeps 'em on their toes. 

8:38 - Pairings announced, Furyk and Woods vs. Harrington and Monty in the first group.  Cink and Henry vs. Casey and Karlsson. Third  match, Toms and Wetterich vs. Garcia and Olazabal. And finally, Mickelson and DiMarco vs. Clarke and Westwood.

8:41 - Wow, this is a fast ceremony. We would only be on the third bad musical act here in the States!  Wait, uh oh. Here come the great pagan gods playing prehistoric golf. "Let the golf party begin" says the Star Trek gal.

8:43 - Large bubbles with people in them are rolling off the stage. Or Lordy. And they are have jugglers dressed as caveman inside the balls juggling bowling pins!! Take that David Wolper! Meanwhile on the stage, an Irish ho-down has broken out, with men and women in plus fours dancing and swinging golf clubs to really music. The sky is darkening and the wind is up. Gee I wonder why. 

8:47 - It's over...an expensive bubble cover is enclosing the band and won't reopen until the closing ceremony...they're leaving in droves as the Ryder Cup anthem is played. Well, they get points for keeping it short and sweet!

8:48 - Lerner and Nobilo are here, raving about the weather and the thoroughly Irish ceremony.  "What a cracker that is," Nobilo says of the opening match.

8:54 - It's over. No U2 (they got stuck in the epic traffic), no Van Morrisson and no Riverdance.  But a couple of killer matches scheduled starting at 3 a.m. EST. Thank God for TiVo.

Wednesday
Sep202006

Opening Ceremonies Warning: Live Blog

Dave Seanor gives us an idea what to expect for tomorrow's Opening Ceremony, which will aspire to outdo the disaster at Oakland Hills, thus putting me into live blog mode here starting at at 7:30 a.m. Pacific time (at least that's when it comes on The Golf Channel).

Essential Information Dept.: Media briefing notes on the Sept. 21 opening ceremony include . . .

• "It will deliver the visual impact which one would typically associate with the opening of the Olympics."

• "Efforts have been concentrated on creating a visual and aural spectacle."

• "What are we trying to achieve? Establish the benchmark against which all future opening ceremonies and host nations of the Ryder cup will be judged."

Why do I have the funny feeling that the Van Morrison performance they got at the Gala Dinner will not be reported for the public ceremony?  That's right, the public wants to be tortured. I still say Michael Flatley will come spinning out!

Wednesday
Sep202006

Ryder Cup Clippings, Thursday Edition

2006rydercup.jpgBonding boys gone wild took an ugly turn Wednesday. Doug Ferguson reports on the latest example of Tom Lehman taking this team building bonding stuff perhaps a step too far.

Lehman fulfilled a prediction he made in February by creating what was believed to be the first "twelvesome" game in Ryder Cup history, his entire team playing nine holes on a gray, miserable afternoon.

But there was a twist.

They worked on their short game, starting each hole from about 120 yards away. The gallery wasn't aware of this, so when Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and the rest of the Americans walked from the fourth green, past the fifth tee and kept marching down the middle of the fairway, the Ryder Cup got its first dose of booing.

"You don't give a damn about Ireland's public," shouted one man behind the tee, and hundreds of others nodded.

Another man asked Jim Furyk to stop for a picture. He walked over to man's wife, put his arm on her shoulder and posed with a smile.

Walking back toward the fairway, Furyk said, "I guess we're just the ugly Americans."

Lehman later asked for a mulligan.

He realized his squad should have performed at least on the first tee, where the grandstands were packed with people. And when he caught up with his team on the seventh hole, he told them to tee off on No. 9, the only drives they hit all day.

Lawrence Donegan covers the Wednesday events, including Tiger's understandable frustration and Lehman's 150-yards and in stunt.

Another way would be to say it was a chaotic and half-hearted exercise which resembled the kind of self-indulgent knockabout dreamed up after one too many gins and tonics in the bar at the country club.

Somehow I don't think Coach Wooden suggested this idea, or this one reported by Steve Elling today, which apparently was also reported last week. 

Will Barnes polled various writers including yours truly, asking for a predicted outcome, score and comment.

Helen Ross reports on the latest weather related headaches, ranging from today's winds, to Friday's lousy forecast to the possibility of "preferred lies." (Insert your own snarky comment here about Portmarnock weather.)

Mike Aitken raises the dreaded possibility of a Monday finish.

Louisa Nesbit explains how the tight security is working and lack of alcohol sales on site (so can we end the Guiness jokes?).

Mike Vitti uses ShotLink to create some "balanced" pairings.

Lewis Mair writes about the Ryder Cup going from a friendly game to a monster.

In 1927, it took the Great Britain and Ireland team six days to get to America by boat, and they wouldn't have got there at all but for the cash raised from a reader appeal in Golf Illustrated magazine. Three weeks ago, by way of contrast, the Americans stumped up £250,000 simply to pop over for a pre-tournament reconnaisance mission.

There is a check point on every street corner, and it will be a surprise if this year's matches are not accompanied by an armoured troop carrier and a SWAT team. One of the more ludicrous by-products of the suffocating security has been to make the nearest town to the K Club more or less impenetrable other than to the people who actually live there, and the local priest has complained that half his congregation will have to find somewhere else to attend mass.

It will be a relief to everyone when they start playing instead of talking.

The interviews are endless, and, with both teams professing to be closer than Siamese twins, endlessly predictable. "We're having an absolute blast," said Tiger yesterday, before adding mysteriously: "but I'm not going to tell you what we do." Immediately afterwards, though, new boy Vaughn Taylor let the cat out of the bag by revealing that they've all being playing "ping-pong" in the team room, which is not quite your average Irishman's idea of "having a blast".

Careless talk costs points, and Europe will already be planning bingo and shove halfpenny sessions to counteract this cunning American plan.

If there is anything guaranteed to survive all this nonsense, it is Ireland's legendary hospitality. A journalist sitting in a cab looking for his remote B & B accommodation down a series of unsignposted pitch-black country lanes on Monday night was beginning to despair of ever finding it when his driver said to him: "Don't you go worrying yourself now. If we don't find the place soon, I'll phone the wife and have the spare room made up for you."

Sal Johnson compares the monster to his first Ryder Cup in 1979 at the Greenbrier.

Sergio denies making any comment about Tiger and the Ryder Cup..."not even in the team room" where we were too busy bashing Monty. Just kidding.

Rex Hoggard reports that the one-ball rule is out, so we don't have to hear too much talk about players making those really, really tough adjustments.

Joe Passov sticks up for the K Club, joining, well, he sticks up for the K Club.

Since Golf Digest fashion guru Marty Hackel has been silent, Charlie Potter of GQ offers this bizarre take on the U.S. team's Sherlock Holmes outfits:

Before they stepped off the plane for the team photo that resulted in so much humiliation, the American captain Tom Lehman must have been pretty pleased with his choices. They are playing in Ireland, a country known for its tweeds. He has publicly promised his team that they will have fun in the run-up to the tournament on Friday and what better way to do so than in a tank-top? This was before they landed to face the media of a country that only accepts one view of male fashion. Britain seems interested only in men who dress badly.

It is strange how sport continues to insist on the ritual of the uniform for big events, a choice that inevitably leads to lambasting. It's like Miss World: here's the multi-buttoned, uncomfortably coloured blazer round; next up - cagoules; for bonus points, here come the Wags!

Whatever these sportsmen opt to wear, the clothing is then used to emasculate the players, because, after all, caring about clothing is the least red-blooded thing a man can do. To prove your virility, you have to mock. So sport continues to trap itself in these old cycles of machismo. You do something well? Quick, debag him. Anything but be seen to appreciate masculinity.

After yet another intensely lame post about the amount of Guiness they've been drinking, the Golfweek blog has all sorts of great stuff, starting with Jeff Babineau reporting on the Gala Dinner and yes, amazingly, the news that the reclusive legend Van Morrison performed.

I wonder if anyone on the U.S. team knows who he is?

And finally, Rich Lerner offers all sorts of fun notes from The K Club, including this:

Lehman’s charges will watch a video that includes scenes from Patton, Hoosiers, Miracle, and Grapes of Wrath and Gladiator. Just a thought, but given that the U.S. has appeared, in the words of Jim Furyk, constipated at times, could a Three Stooges episode hurt? 

I just want to know, will it include John Ashcroft's "Let The Eagle Soar?

Wednesday
Sep202006

Tiger's Ryder Cup Press Conference

He opened with an opening statement regarding the obviously bogus photo and story purported to be about his wife, and then, a rally killer stepped in.

TIGER WOODS: Well, first of all, if you don't mind, I'll answer that second.

I just want to make an opening statement real quick. That, you know, for me personally, and for my wife, things that have occurred over here, I'm very disappointed, not the fans, not the people here, not the Irish people. But very disappointed in how the article that was written, my wife, yes, she has been a model prior and she did do some bikini photos. But to link her to porn websites and such is unacceptable, and I do not accept that at all. Neither does our team. And I just want to say that that doesn't deter or detract from the beauty of this event.

The people here have been absolutely fantastic. Irish people have come out and supported us, and Europeans, I just want to say, sometimes you shouldn't let I know the media can be a little bit difficult at times, but when you it's hard to be very diplomatic about this when you have so much emotion involved, when my wife is involved like this. I just hope that it was the right thing to do, and overall, as I said, I don't want that to deter from the beauty of this event.

We as a team have come together, we have bonded, it's been an absolutely fantastic week and have had such a great time here. Hospitality has been absolutely fantastic. Last week, as Gordon said, we were watching Chelsea Liverpool football match, first football match I've ever been to, quite an experience, quite a bit of singing. We don't do that in American football, that's for sure. So that was a new experience. And as I said, had an absolutely fantastic time this entire week. That was the last I'll say about that.

GORDON SIMPSON: Thank you very much.

Q. Ian Woosnam was in here and talking about if the weather stays as it is now and gets worse, that should play in favour of The European Team. What are your thoughts about that?

Now I know he said that was the last he would say about the subject, but of course it wasn't. Does that first question deserve a place in our rally killer of the year sweepstakes? I think so.

Doesn't this make you pray for a Tiger-Sergio singles pairing:

Q. A couple of things, Tiger. We know what your record is in these Matches. A, does it bother you what it is, or has it bothered you more now than it has a couple years ago; and B, Sergio some comments in Switzerland a few weeks ago and that your record is not very good and he looks forward to playing you three or four times. Do those comments annoy you?

TIGER WOODS: It's disappointing, I haven't won points on the Cups that I've been on to win points for my team. I've always felt it's a two point swing; winning a point, losing a point, it feels like it's two points going the wrong way. And unfortunately I've gone on the wrong end of it too many times. It's frustrating because you feel like you've not only let yourself down but you've let your teammate down that your playing with, your partner, as well as your teammates that are trying to win this Cup for our captain and our country. It's very disappointing.

As far as the Sergio comments, hopefully we can get together out there and play.

And now for the dumbest question o' the day.

Q. I read this morning that Team USA has been having a good old fashioned sing song and a couple of pints of Guinness?

TIGER WOODS: Say again, this morning we were drinking? You or us?

Nice comeback Tiger!

Here's today's chilliest exchange (at least, on paper):

Q. Do you feel that you intimidate your own playing partners at all, especially in the foursomes?

TIGER WOODS: No.

Q. No?

TIGER WOODS: No.

I take that back, the follow up, was the worst question of the day.

Wednesday
Sep202006

Another Ryder Cup Blog

I've reluctantly posted a link to Golfweek's blog, not because of lines like this from from Alistair Tait:

No visitor worth his or her salt would fly to Ireland to play the K Club. Not at the prices the good doctor is charging (around $500 a round).

No, it's posts like this that make me hesistant:

Golfweek staff Guinness count for the week: 9

What's next, a tour of Golfweek's rental for the week?

Wednesday
Sep202006

Reporting A Tournament Win...

Callaway, Nike, Taylor Made and Titleist report their PGA Tour wins, ball maker Volvik reports their Ladies Member-Member wins.

You'd swear this is fiction, but it's on the Golf Business Wire:

Volvik Golf Balls report's a tournament win with their industry leading Crystal golf ball. The U.S.A. exclusive distributor, FLGolf, Inc. told golf writers of the event today.

The ladies 18 hole Member-Member Golf Tournament was held at the Maryland Golf and Country Club in Bel Air, MD on August 17th and 24th. Play consisted of four nine hole rounds.

The first two rounds played on the 17th had Linda Burns of Bel Air, a golf sales rep for Golfstream Shoes, and playing partner Jan Haddy, of near by Baldwin took 16 ½ points out of an available 20 points. In the second round Linda and Jan took ten more points to win their flight.

A sudden death playoff between four flights as played from the 17th hole a 488 yard par 5 hole. Linda and Jan shut out the other teams with a net birdie to win the overall win.
Tuesday
Sep192006

Ryder Cup Clippings, Wednesday Edition

2006rydercup.jpgIf you don't mind Flash-based stuff (it slows things down here), GolfDigest.com has a couple of nice features posted. The first is the Golf World course map, with some noteworthy hole-by-hole comments from Brett Avery.

Even better is an interactive team analysis, with bios by Avery, U.S. comments by Brian Wacker and European player comments by John Huggan. There's also more than you ever wanted to know about player records in previous matches.

Story wise, thanks to reader Van for this Independent story noting Melissa Lehman's involvement in establishing the team curfew, including the wives shopping hold-out.

In the slow news day category, James Corrigan and several others built their stories around Tiger Woods and Darren Clarke embracing.

This wire story says Tiger was reluctant to join Tom Lehman's sing-your-college-fight-song hazing session. Can't say I blame Tiger for that one. This team bonding stuff is getting a little ridiculous.

Jim McCabe takes a close look at Tiger's Ryder Cup record and says it's not as bad as it looks.

SI has posted the "grid" I compiled on Arnold Palmer's life and design career, along with the text of his Dream 18. Gil Hanse's map of the Palmer course appeared in Golf Plus.

Add Golfonline's Connell Barrett to the list who will not be receiving honorary memberships to the K Club. Or for that matter, fan mail from the European Tour folks. He includes this quote from Peter Alliss:

"A course like Portmarnock would have been a magnificent choice," Alliss says. "I care passionately about this event, so I find this rather sad, losing the Irishness of links golf. An event that was once tough, bloody and wonderful has lost much of its charm. It's all because of money, money, money."

Lawrence Donegan comments on bonding exercises and offers other Tuesday practice round observations.

Sidetracking for a moment, Donegan is mentioned in a story about his former career as a bass guitarist in this Scotsman story about singer-songwriter Lloyd Cole, whose next album "Antidepressant" is due out September 25th in the UK, and October 10 in the U.S.

Regarding Cole and his love of golf:

There are periods, he says, when he's toyed with the idea of giving up music altogether and concentrating on his other passion: golf.

"I love playing it and I have this ridiculous dream that I could design golf courses for a living," he says wistfully. "Apparently, you have to be good at numbers and I was a real maths whiz at school. But my overwhelming feeling is that, if I can keep on plugging away with music and adding to this body of work that I've been developing since the early 1980s, then in the future people might find it something worth treasuring. That's really all I want."

Back to the Ryder Cup. BBC's Iain Carter blogs about the caricature-drawing exercise the Euros undertook, which is only a bit more ridiculous than the U.S. fight song nonsense. Apparently everyone was asked to draw Monty so that their thoughts could be determined by a "mind magician."

Wouldn't you just love to see Jakartagate-skeptic Darren Clarke's rendition?

BBC's Matt Slater blogs about the U.S. team's tweed outfits:

the librarian meets poacher creation was inspired by some old-fashioned view of what the Irish themselves wear when enjoying the great outdoors. The "begorrah, top o' the mornin' ta yer" Ireland of The Quiet Man or Ryan's Daughter or Boston's St Patrick's Day celebrations.

Karl MacGinty considers the dreadful weather forecast and the possibility that remnants of hurricane Gordon could reach The K Club by the weekend.

And finally, SI's E.M. Swift says the U.S. team is historically soft and pretty much says this team is doomed too.

Tuesday
Sep192006

MNF at Sawgrass Follow Up

Check out the video of Finchem-Tirico-Theismann-Kornheiser inaugurating the 17th at TPC Sawgrass. (If the link doesn't work, go to the Tour's video page and scroll down a bit). This Monday Night Football synergy plug fest debuted, well, a 3 inch rough tee and dirt stadium mounding. It also revealed that one of the participants had a nice big Titleist tour bag. Commissioner? 

Tuesday
Sep192006

O'Grady: Euro Tour Developing Courses To Ensure Mundane Ryder Cup Venues Through End Of Century

Bloomberg news reports that:

"European Tour will buy or build golf courses to stage the Ryder Cup from 2018 to increase income from its most profitable event, chief executive George O'Grady has said."
The Tour has guaranteed that the matches, played alternately in the US and Europe every two years, will take place on mainland Europe from 2018 through 2030.

Here's your money quote...literally:

"In future, we'll either build courses ourselves or own them," the 57-year-old Englishman said. "We get cash from the Ryder Cup but we don't get a capital asset gain. In 2018 we'll own at least part of the venue."

Take that Tim Finchem!

Owning and operating the courses would allow the Tour to build and profit from onsite hotels, spas and other leisure facilities.

It could also develop and sell or rent private housing, while retaining income from club membership fees, conferences, exhibitions, retail and catering.

The owner of the K Club, which hosts this year's event, Michael Smurfit, said there's "no question or doubt" that the Ryder Cup has boosted the value of those assets.

The Tour doesn't own any of the K Club, the 2010 host the Celtic Manor Resort in Wales, or Scotland's Gleneagles, which will stage the 2014 contest.

Profit at this year's event may not reach the €14.8m it made four years ago because of extra security and other costs, Mr O'Grady said.

Tissue, anyone?

Revenue may rise to as much as €74m from €52m at the 2002 edition at the Belfry, Mr O'Grady said, declining to give his organisation's annual revenue.

The Tour retains 60pc of the profit, with the remainder split between the UK and European Professional Golfers' Associations.

The 2018 venue may be chosen by the last day of the 2010 edition, O'Grady said, giving the Tour enough time to build a new course if necessary.

"By then we reckon courses will need to be built in a certain way to take the number of spectators that will want to come," he said.

As opposed to now?

Tuesday
Sep192006

"About 86 percent of the passengers on business jets today..."

In Joe Sharkey's NY Times story on the increase in private jet travel, he writes:

For many years after the mid-1980’s, the business-jet industry had to break through cultural barriers largely stemming from the stereotype of a business-aircraft flier as a Master of the Universe commandeering a heavy-metal company jet to take the spouse, children and family poodle on a boondoggle to Aspen, Colo.

But the business is now mostly being driven by demand from customers who maintain a calculated balance between flying commercially and using a business jet.

“About 86 percent of the passengers on business jets today are middle management or sales or technical people, sometimes working in a team and needing to get somewhere and back quickly, often between points with very bad commercial air service,” said Roger Woolsey, chief executive of Million Air, a company that operates 32 terminals at business-aviation airports in the United States.

I wonder if this means that the likes of Mike Davis, Tim Moraghan and Tim Flaherty will get to use the USGA jet?

Tuesday
Sep192006

The Ryder Cup Divide

Bruce Selcraig writes about the religious and political divide between European Tour players and U.S. players. You won't don't want to skip this compelling read, which appeared in the Irish Times.

But there’s still one significant cultural divide that is so sensitive an issue most players simply avoid addressing it when they’re on the other’s turf. Simply put, many Euros and other international players are put off by the overwhelming number of American PGA Tour players who identify themselves as George Bush-loving Republicans who support the US occupation of Iraq.

“Every movie you see, every book you read is like, `America, we’re the best country in the world,’” German Alex Cejka told me in May at the Byron Nelson tournament in Fort Worth, Texas. “When I hear this [from players] I could throw up. Sure it’s a great country...but you cannot say we have the most powerful president in the world, the biggest country in the world...It’s sad that they are influenced by so much bullshit.”

The affable and well-read Australian, Geoff Ogilvy, who won the US Open and has lived in Arizona with his Texas wife for four years, says: “A lot of their conservative views [on tour] are way off the map...I think George Bush is a bit dangerous. I think the world is scared while he’s in office, [but] there’s less tolerance of diversity [in opinions] over here [and] people have more blind faith in their government.”

Various Euros have hinted that they have similar views, but say privately they’ll be crucified in American lockerrooms and newspapers if they publicly oppose Bush, his fundamentalist Christian agenda or the Iraq war.

“That’s the new way of American censorship,” said Parnevik, as he baked on the driving range in Fort Worth. “People get hurt very badly if they speak out.”

And...

Not coincidentally, the American pro golf world, which has been heavily influenced by corporate America and Republican politics for at least 30 years, now has such a strong element of Christian fundamentalists that the entire Ryder Cup leadership – Tom Lehman, Corey Pavin and Loren Roberts – are all self-professed born-again Christians. Roberts was even converted and baptized at a tournament.

In the book, “The Way of an Eagle,” Lehman says: “God has definitely used golf in a great way over the last several years. I think of myself as a Christian who plays golf, not as a golfer who is a Christian. So whatever kind of job I do, there is a way for God to use that as a tool. In society at large, especially the way golf is growing, there is a huge platform for golfers.”

There are now official chaplains and weekly Bible study groups, or “fellowships,” on each of the four American pro tours, and various players either display the Christian fish symbol on their golf bag or wear a popular cloth bracelet that says “W.W.J.D” – What Would Jesus Do. “It’s not seen as so strange anymore for a player to be open about his faith,” former tour pro Bobby Clampett told Golf World. “They’re no longer called `The God Squad’ or `Jesus Freaks’ like we were 20 years ago. Now it’s cool.”

Well, until Bobby shows up.       

David Feherty, the former Euro Ryder Cup member from Northern Ireland who is now a popular TV golf commentator in America, believes the very public display of fire-and-brimstone Christianity is still unsettling to most Europeans. “I think a lot of Europeans find that conservative Christian thing as frightening as conservative Muslims,” he says. “If you find any European pros who are in that Bible thumping category, it’s usually because they’ve been to the United States.”

 

Tuesday
Sep192006

Two More Links...

I've added lefthand links to Tom Mackin's blog for T&L Golf and the Irish Times page devoted to the Ryder Cup.


Monday
Sep182006

Ryder Cup Clippings, Tuesday Edition

2006rydercup.jpgEasily the best read in the various Ryder Cup previews was the anonymous PGA Tour player talking about the teams in SI Golf Plus. You can read his assessments of the European team here and the U.S. team here.

Mark Garrod reports that the Lehman's have brought their own tortillas for chips and salsa. Not exactly the greatest endorsement of The K Club's cuisine.

This report attributes the team's late arrival to too much luggage. Hey, the wives have to pack for all occasions.

Mike Aitken transcribes all of the cliches that Monty rolled out in Monday's press gathering.

Mark Lamport-Stokes says that Tom Lehman already knows his Friday pairings, but after that pretty much anything can happen.

Golfonline's Cameron Morfit offers a graphic assessment of the U.S. team. And I mean graphic.

Would you know Wetterich if you saw him? Perhaps you'd know him if you smelled him, for according to one team insider the broad-shouldered Floridian demonstrated exceptional flatulence on the flight back from Ireland, where the Yanks made a recent reconnaissance trip to the K Club. And so for U.S. Ryder Cup fans still reeling from an 18 1/2-9 1/2 loss two years ago, and fearing the worst from these 36th Cup matches, it becomes official: we stink.

James Finegan's Where Golf is Great includes a K Club chapter, which GolfDigest.com has posted it. I just received the book and it's a beauty...all 10 pounds of it!

Ken Brown chimes in with his thoughts on the matches.

Lawrence Donegan writes about Monty's standing (or lack of) with his teammates.

Karl MacGinty in the Irish Independent talks to Seve, who has high marks for 1999 captain Mark James.

"Ian has a lot of Ryder Cup experience and I have no doubt he will be a good man for the team. He saw Tony Jacklin as a captain, Bernard Gallacher, me, Mark James," said Seve.

Then he paused momentarily, a devilish grin spreading across his face as he went on: "Though I wouldn't pay too much attention to Mark James's captaincy. "To me he did everything wrong."

"He was a disaster," added Seve, who described James' decision to leave three players, Jean Van de Velde, Jarmo Sandelin and even his captain's pick, Andrew Coltart - bizarrely selected ahead of Bernhard Langer - on the sidelines until Sunday in Boston as "just unthinkable, unbelievable."

Ballesteros conceded that Europe had taken a four point lead into the final day's singles but he argued: "Three players did not play one single hole until the singles so they basically were three points down before they started on Sunday.

"And he risked burnout with seven others because they had played both in the morning and the afternoon on Friday and Saturday. He destroyed the team, it's unbelievable what he did."
Monday
Sep182006

Monday Light

img9668469.jpgPGATOUR.com Editorial Coordinator Lauren Deason reports on the mother of all-time lame photo-ops, where a hard-collar sporting Tim Finchem joined Joe Theismann, Tony Kornheiser and Mike Tirico in awkwardly posing for a photo before awkwardly dumping balls into TPC Sawgrass's 17th hole.

All to plug, well, I don't even know what. 

Monday
Sep182006

Whitten On Dismal and Ballyneal

dismalriver18.jpgGolfDigest.com's Ron Whitten takes us around Dismal River and Ballyneal, offering this final assessment:
There is much to admire about both Ballyneal and Dismal River. I cannot and will not favor one over the other. I want them both to succeed, but I do have concerns. I am concerned that Ballyneal may suffer by its refusal to allow golf carts. (It gets hot there in the summer, and golfers need shade and breeze, both of which could be provided by carts.)

I am concerned that both clubs could suffer because of their remote locations. Ballyneal, within driving distance of Denver, is far better situated in that regard, but therein has a lot stiffer competition for members. The folks at Dismal River don't feel they're in competition with Sand Hills, because the latter's membership is reportedly full.

I'm not keen on the idea of Dismal members someday parking their Gulfstreams right at the front door. Part of the experience of a golfing retreat is the gradual decompression from airport to first tee, in the case of Sand Hills, that one hour drive through desolate sand dunes from North Platte. If Dismal River members can jet in, play a quick 18 and jet out again, a crucial element of the experience will have evaporated. Jack "got it" with his design. I hope Dismal River's owners "get it" in their operation. Keep the carts, but lose the runway.