After this hole of many disastrous memories, the eighteenth need have no great terrors. We drive over the burn, cross by the picturesque stone bridge, and avoiding the grosser forms of sin, such as slicing into the windows of Rusack's Hotel, hole out in four, or at most five, under the critical gaze of those that lean on the railings. BERNARD DARWIN
Reader David reported that Commissioner Finchem bungled Henrik Stenson's name during the trophy ceremony. Since Kenny G was not part of the proceedings, I didn't pay attention. Turns out, David heard right, as Lulu McGrew reports:
Hey, did anyone else catch the PGA Tour Commish, Timothy Finchem mispronounce Stenson’s name at the trophy presentation? He called him Heinrik…twice. This is not the first time that Stevenson…er, I mean, Stenson has dealt with his name being mangled. It is one of the easier names out there, sounding just like it written. How do you think he was have pronounced Cejka’s name?
Actually, it was Cejka's fault. Finchem was up late the night before practicing his German and he just never recovered from that.
Good to see the PGA of America shoring up their Japanese television rights field by adding 17-year-old Ryo Ishikawa to the 2009 PGA Championshp field after missed cuts at Riviera, Bay Hill and Augusta. Consistency like that must be rewarded.
I finally got around to John Paul Newport's Saturday column on "club life in the Great Recession" and found this interesting about the plight of course GM's in the cost cutting era:
Nothing better illustrates the difficulty of achieving that balance than the matter of on-course refreshment. Montammy spends about $20,000 a year to stock ice chests around the golf course with private-label bottled water. To an accountant, cutting the bottled water looks like low-hanging fruit, but not to members. "It's an upscale perk that members really like," Mr. Claisse said, so the water remains.
But speaking of fruit, the club was also spending in excess of $50,000 a year to provide fresh, cut-up fruit for golfers making the nine-hole turn, a Montammy tradition. Since much of the fruit went to waste, Mr. Claisse suggested offering fruit cups instead and asking members to pay for them. The reaction? "You'd have thought I'd recommended killing somebody," he said. So a compromise was reached. The fruit continues to be free, but whole fruit only, not cut. Such is club life in the Great Recession.
Lawrence Donegan reports that Kenny Perry has been cleared of a possible rules violation that occurred during the FBR Open playoff. Video evidence suggested that Perry had improved his lie. I've seen it. Not good. But also not hard to come away feeling like there was intent of any kind. Then again, the rules of golf don't care about intent.
Rule 13–2 of the Rules of Golf states that a player is not allowed to improve "the position or lie of his ball". Mark Russell, a senior rules official with the PGA Tour, said he had "no problem whatsoever" with Perry's actions, adding that the footage was "inconclusive".
"During the course of the telecast of the FBR Open‚ we received no calls from viewers reporting a potential rules violation involving Kenny Perry. When a question was raised this week, several members of the tournament committee reviewed the videotape of Kenny Perry, and no evidence of any rules violation was found ... We will have no further comment on the matter,'' he said.
The Super Bowl had started at that point so I'm pretty viewership was light to non-existent.
Derek Lawrenson notes in the Daily Mail:
By waving his wedge behind his ball before playing a chip shot during a play-off against Charley Hoffman, Perry raised the question of whether he had improved his lie, and thereby broken the rules. After a further review on Sunday, US Tour rules officials exonerated the personable man from Kentucky, who charmed everyone with his grace in defeat at the Masters.
But will his fellow pros be so lenient, once they have all had a chance to see it? Or will this be like the Colin Montgomerie saga in Indonesia a few years ago, when he was cleared by the referee at the time of wrongdoing, only to be declared guilty a month later by a court of his peers?
I was traveling most of the day and haven't followed the David Feherty situation very closely, but just taking a quick look at the wires it appears that while his apology was prompt, the Wanda Sykes controversy is bringing him back into the national debate over what constitutes tasteless. (You don't say bomb on an airplane and you don't joke about wanting to see die...is that hard enough?)
Based on what Michael Hiestand writes in a thoughtful and surprisingly-long-by-USA Today standards piece, the next few days will determine where the Feherty situation heads and his name being dragged into the Sykes situation may prove problematic. Unlike past CBS announcer brouhahas, Feherty's inflammatory comments were written instead of uttered, ultimately making it hard to see this as a well-intentioned joke gone bad.
Ron Sirak at Golf World comments on the situation, and compared to everything else I've read and the critical emails I've received for daring to touch a golf story making national news, he offers a nuanced and insightful take as someone who has interviewed Feherty. His conclusions ultimately raise more questions than the apology tried to put to sleep.
My first thought was that Feherty, who is known for his humor, may not be as sensitive to this issue because he did not grow up in the United States. But then I remembered an interview I did with him more than a decade ago in which he talked about growing up in Northern Ireland during "the troubles," the political violence between Catholics and Protestants centered around English rule of the North. David should know better. He saw first-hand the bloody results of extremism.
The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto drags Feherty into the Sykes mess and wonders why liberals aren't more upset at her remarks. He'd have a little more credibility if he didn't spell Feherty as if he were some distant relative of Rick Fehr.
Mike Lupica takes the same stance, and several others and I stopped reading because he was going all Nuke LaLoosh on us and I was getting dizzy.
We may have a new diversionary interview tactic! Just label it speculation and therefore it's inadmissible!
The only question: did Tim Finchem come up with this before Tiger Woods? Or the other way around?
Finchem, in a Q&A with Larry Dorman where he didn't like the question:
But this is a speculative question that is focused on a scenario we do not see happening.
Tiger, at Quail Hollow, was posed the question about Hank Haney's status as his instructor. Thomas Bonk writes:
In the meantime, there is certain to be some questions about the status of Haney, who was not with Woods at Quail Hollow or TPC Sawgrass. Woods had a chance to diffuse any hint of a problem last week at Quail Hollow when he was asked if Haney was in trouble.
"That's entirely speculation," Woods said.
That's also not denying it.
Since the Commissioner went to law school I think he's going to have to take the blame for this one.
Meanwhile, Brian Wacker makes the case that Tiger hasn't been nearly as bad as stats suggest.
I expected to look up at the $44 million Chateau Finchem and feel like Shrek gazing at Lord Farquaad's castle and in that swamp brog, “Do ya think he's maybe compensatin' for something?”
Despite how silly it looks on television, it functions decently and features killer memorabilia on the walls, including plenty of architectural and early days reminders. (See the goats story image below.)
A daily Commissioner's Hospitality shindig was erected upstairs, complete with new menu items each day, killer ice cream and for the final round, "the Commissioner's recipe" bread pudding. I'm sure he was up the previous night baking it himself.
Henrik Stenson overcame heat, humidity and greens yellower than an R&A member’s teeth to capture the 2009 Players Championship. Crispy, firm and “icy quick” in the words of runner-up Ian Poulter, the relentless Pete Dye design’s mini-verde bermuda surfaces may have looked dreadful in HD but played better than the PGA Tour ever could have dreamed since committing to a hoped-for fast and firm warm season base three years ago.
“Pretty incredible,” said Tiger Woods of Stenson’s bogey-free 66 that included 13 of 14 fairways, all but one hit with his trusty three wood. A birdie at the ninth put Stenson ahead and he soon pulled away in Mine That Bird fashion with birdies at 11, 13, 15 and 16. Yet even with a four-shot lead the island green 17th loomed like the giant barrier that so many told us strips the course of any world class integrity. However it's late-in-the-round placement is the very thing that makes The Players so intriguing.
Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee was the most visible opponent, calling it gimmicky. The Florida Times-Union's Garry Smits inquired with the tour about Chamblee's record there during his playing career and found that he played the hole 26 times in nine starts in The Players, and averaged 3.46 with six water balls.
Lorne Rubenstein talked to former Dye protege Tom Doak about the moaning.
"As Mr. Dye once described it to me, it's a 130-yard hole with an 8,000-square-foot green -- a target a tour pro would hit 98 percent of the time, if he wasn't scared of it."
It's actually just a shade over 4,000 square feet and by no means is an inviting target. The contours appear to have grown too severe for modern green speeds, yet the hole played to a reasonable 3.025 average, yielding 80 birdies compared to 43 bogies, 13 doubles and 6 triples. 83% of shots hit the green in regulation this week.
The folks it seems to be harassing most are the $375 paying customers. As Robert Lohrer noted on his blog, the number of balls retrieved annually and floated this week was 155,000. A Golf Journal (R.I.P) story from 1998 reported that divers dredge up 120,000 balls, "so, if we take these numbers at face value, the only conclusion -- as the number of rounds is the same in both reports -- is that, collectively, as golfers, we're getting worse."
He didn't quite pull that off, finishing on the front tier where he two-putted from in stoic fashion.
Having survived that test, he striped his tee shot and coasted to a victory that paid $1.7 million and garnered a whopping 0 FedEx Cup points thanks to his non-PGA Tour member status.
Still, the 17th was the crowd favorite, particularly among the coveted 3-12 demo. They were hounding players as they walked down the railroad tie raised ramp. Vets like Kenny Perry and Woody Austin complied but handing their balls to new fans for life, Kevin Na acted like they didn't exist and John Mallinger shined his pearly whites while dishing out high-fives.
Ben Curtis, who hit his tee shot in the water and posted a double bogey 5, entered the fluorescent-lit tunnel on his way to the 18th tee when a young girl yelled out from above.
"Can I have a ball please?"
"I only have two left," Curtis grumbled back.
Her dad offered this consolation: "He still has to play number 18 and there's lots of water."
Okay, so maybe the 17th isn't the only terrifying hole at the other-worldly TPC Sawgrass.
In honor of today's quote from Jenkins, a few real estate developments along the way to the TPC Sawgrass.
And my favorite road:
I sent the photo to former area resident Jenkins, who reports:
That street used to be Gator Food and before that it was Cotton Mouth Alley and before that it was Rattler Court.
Doug Ferguson reports:
“This passage was a metaphor meant to describe how American troops felt about our 43rd president,” Feherty said in a statement. “In retrospect, it was inappropriate and unacceptable, and has clearly insulted Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid, and for that, I apologize. As for our troops, they know I will continue to do as much as I can for them both at home and abroad.”
Larry Dorman talks to Commissioner Tim Finchem who is in great spirits, cracking jokes, employing slang and....oh no, just kidding.
We are off to a terrific start after just two years with the FedEx Cup — way ahead on virtually every metric, starting with fan awareness and interest. Obviously, maximizing this position requires all of our top players playing, starting with the No. 1 player in the world and that didn’t happen for the 2008 FedEx Cup.
Tim, there's room for growth! I suppose the G word is so 2007.
Q. A recent Sports Business Journal report identified Crowne Plaza as “at least the sixth company” not planning to renew its title sponsorship. Will we be seeing a reduced schedule on the PGA Tour after 2010, and what kind of effect would a loss of five or six events have on the Tour’s charitable giving?
A. We do not intend to reduce our schedule in 2010. We are working very hard to ensure that does not happen, and that was evident with the announcement Thursday of our agreement with SBS for a 10-year commitment to take the position of title sponsor at the event at Kapalua, Hawaii, from 2010 to 2019. We had already announced extensions with Travelers, Accenture, Zurich and Liberty Mutual and we’ll have more to come. How much of a falloff a loss of five or six events would generate in charitable dollars would depend on which events were lost. But this is a speculative question that is focused on a scenario we do not see happening.
Objection! That question was speculative! Strike it from the record please.
Q. What do you see as the biggest threat to the health of the competitive side of the game?
A. I do not see a threat to the competitive side of the game, but I am concerned about the ongoing challenge of growing the game. Because of the nature of the sport, the real estate and resultant costs for facilities and an adequate number of golf courses, it is very difficult to fuel access. We are making strides, but golf isn’t like basketball where you can hang a net in a driveway and teach a child to play. We just have to keep working at it.
I smell a new campaign. Together, we can fuel access.
John Huggan admits he's not an impartial observer while filing a strong defense of Hank Haney as Tiger's coach, suggesting that the media's "sustained level of hyperbole and lazy analysis has made Haney less inclined to talk publicly about the relationship he has with Woods and his swing."
...the clock is ticking on David Feherty and if past little brouhahas like this are any indication, the longer you wait and the more stubborn your stance, the worse things get.
I awoke expecting to see a story or inbox release featuring a witty apology from Feherty. Something along the lines of, "Normally my best medium is in the gas passing joke genre and clearly I misfired in my D Magazine story. As evidenced by my efforts on behalf of the troops, I never would imply that those I have met during trips to Iraq would commit an offense punishable by the Uniform Code of Miltary Justice. I love the troops, I love America and I apologize to anyone I may have offended, including Senator Reid, Congresswoman Pelosi and most of all, our brave troops."
MediaMatters.org, a progressive media watchdog, has asked for a simple apology to the troops. It's not as if they are calling for his job.
So for the sake of David Feherty's career (that has brought so much joy to us in the golf world) hopefully he acts quickly to put this to bed by today. Because the longer he waits, the more potential this has to snowball into one of those ridiculous little controversies that ultimately ends poorly.
And now that Feherty is an American citizen, he should know we love the big apology. Just ask Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds. One is still in baseball, one is not. One apologized, one did not. Both committed the same offense.
I arrived at 6:30 a.m. (a stuffy 78 degrees!) to sit in on a course tour of the front nine setup as handled by John Mutch of the PGA Tour.
Not that TPC Sawgrass needs much drama.
The conditioning is superb, however the design would benefit from a lot more mowing of rough and short grass areas around greens. Aesthetically, it's currently lacking some of the elegance a design so rich in texture deserves, much of which I attribute to the clump bermuda mix in the roughs. And the strategic benefits would be obvious: balls reaching hazards more easily, contours retaining even more of a presence and several approaches appearing more intimidating.
To clarify one issue regarding the rough. After being briefed by the tour, Golf Channel and NBC have reported that the fairway roughs are cut at 2-3 inches, last topped off mid-week. Greenside, the rough started in the same range but is now at 3-4 inches. However, because the severity of the surrounds requires the use of rotary mowers (that's a lawn mower) it has not been topped off all week while the fairway roughs have. The PGA Tour's tournament director, Mark Russell, says the situation will be different next year.
The obvious question for anyone who watched Saturday: why the higher scores?
After all it's warm, greens are perfect and the wind never amounted to much. However, it's pretty simple, really. There is enough firmness in the greens combined with a relentless course that quickly wears the player down.
And that's why Alex Cejka's five-stroke lead over Tiger Woods appears so surmountable.
AP's Doug Ferguson files a story on the David Feherty situation, with the quotes posted below from the PGA Tour and CBS Sports along with background on Feherty's efforts on behalf of the troops.
Posting a third round 71 at the TPC Sawgrass on a day the field averaged 72.54, Phil Mickelson shed doubts about the negative impact of that white hide he straps on one day a tournament week to the chagrin of the Age Appropriateness Fashion Police.
Situated in the row before me, I asked Mr. Style (a.k.a. Marty Hackel of Golf Digest) if this ends any doubts about the belt curse.
"While we love the white belt, Phi has never had a round of 70 with the white belt. Score trumps style everytime."
Hackel added in Ali speak, "He hasn't got any help from the white belt."
For more of Hackel's weekend fashion report, check out GolfDigest.com.
From the PGA Tour:
David Feherty is an insightful and sometimes humorous commentator for CBS Sports’ golf coverage. However, his attempt at humor in this instance went over the line and his comments were clearly inappropriate. We hope he will use better judgment in the future.
From LeslieAnne Wade of CBS Sports:
While outside his work for CBS, David Feherty is a popular humorist, we want to be clear that this column for a Dallas magazine is an unacceptable attempt at humor and is not in any way condoned, endorsed or approved by CBS Sports.