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I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.



"That's why it was a no-brainer for the Buick Open to offer Daly an exemption for this year's tournament when he asked for one."

Carlos Monarrez writes that John Daly deserved the sponsor's invite awarded this week from the Buick Open folks in spite of his recent behavior.

Fans love him for it. After all, it's not about what sports writers, coaches and other pros think of Daly. It's about what he gives fans -- a refreshing dose of honesty among the cookie-cutter world of pro golf.

That's why it was a no-brainer for the Buick Open to offer Daly an exemption for this year's tournament when he asked for one.
Okay fine. And this was a nice touch from Daly:

On the day after Harmon dismissed him, Daly was disqualified from the Bay Hill Invitational for missing his Wednesday pro-am tee time. It was an honest mistake. Daly, who already had played in the Monday pro-am, got the wrong tee information from the tournament office. Daly apologized to tournament host Arnold Palmer and went so far as to track down three corporate representatives from his amateur group and played a round with them Sunday.

pga_g_imada_600.jpgBut here's the problem...

The truth is that Daly's behavior rarely hurts anyone but himself.

Bob Harig notes that Ryuji Imada might not agree with that statement.


"It does not look very good if the captain [Nick Faldo] is qualified to play in the Masters and you're not"

Kind of an odd statement from Monty, whose hope of playing in the Masters is fading...

"I don't want to miss out on the Masters because this is a Ryder Cup year and, if you don't play, you lose out on all the precious points available at Augusta," he said. "If you're not there, you're on the back foot. And it does not look very good if the captain [Nick Faldo] is qualified to play in the Masters and you're not, now does it?



"I first felt a little bit like Michelangelo felt when he worked in the quarry."

I'm sure you know better than I what this means, but here's Robert Trent Jones Jr., talking to Thomas Bonk about Chambers Bay:

"When I saw the land, I first felt a little bit like Michelangelo felt when he worked in the quarry. We can re-craft this, cut the piece of marble into a David or a Pieta.



Tiger Has (Maybe Not**) Nice Place To Stay If U.S. Open Ever Returns To Shinnecock

photo01.jpgThanks to readers Tuco and Smolmania for the New York Post story on Tiger's new $65 million home on the East End, where he too can now enjoy sitting in Hampton's traffic and complain to Punch Sulzberger that Larry Dorman's New York Times articles are too focused on Phil.

 His new neighbors in Southampton include real-estate developer Alfred Taubman, former New York Times publisher Arthur Ochs "Punch" Sulzberger and fashion designer Vera Wang.

Included in the recently renovated 19th-century manor home are six bedroom suites, a music room, a cypress wood-paneled library and staff quarters.
Stevie's got a place to stay too.
The guesthouse, which also features ocean views, includes three bedrooms, each with bathrooms, a den and a kitchen.

"It's one of the oldest and grandest estates on the East End," one broker said. "As soon as something goes on the market on Gin Lane it gets snapped up quickly, even in this slowing economy."

Woods' bid nearly landed in the rough.

"Tiger almost lost the house," a source said.

"Another buyer came in with a higher offer, but the deal was already sealed just hours before."
And I'm still kicking myself for only offering $65.1.
The seller of the estate, known as "By the Sea," is Austrian-born leveraged-buyout specialist, Gerhard Andlinger, 77.

Obviously clever home names was not part of his leveaged-buyout specialties. Now, "Buy the Sea" maybe... 

There is a slideshow of photos too.  


Tavistock Cup News!

Always one of my most cherished naps of the year, there's news on the annual matches between the rich guys from Lake Nona and the richer guys from Isleworth.  

Thomas Bonk wonders how Ernie Els can be too tired to play Bay Hill yet still can find the energy to play in next week's Tavistock Cup.

Speaking of the $3.88 million event, its founder and the lone funder of those carbon footprint killing helicopter rides for Tavistock contestants took a bath on the Bear Stearns collapse.

British billionaire Joseph Lewis made his fortune gambling on currencies. His recent investment in Bear Stearns (BSC, news, msgs) has turned out to be a disastrous bet.

The elusive septuagenarian is one the biggest losers from the New York investment bank's problems. In just a few months, he has lost almost all of the $1.1 billion he spent building up his roughly 9.6% stake in Bear, which agreed last night to be acquired by JPMorgan Chase (JPM, news, msgs) for just $2 a share.


"At this year’s Honda Classic the “Bear Trap” netted an astounding 356 over par, compared with last year’s 254 over par, proving the improvements enhanced not only the quality of the course, but also its difficulty."

I can't say that I can ever recall a press release going out celebrating the increased difficulty of a course, or in this case, the dreaded "Bear Trap." Until now... 

Much-Feared “Bear Trap” Ranks as Toughest Three-Hole Stretch in Professional Golf
Palm Beach Gardens, FL (March 14, 2008) –  South African Ernie Els and his fellow PGA tour players kicked off the Florida Swing at The Honda Classic,  recently taking the stage on “The Champ” course at PGA National Resort & Spa.  After two separate rounds of renovations in as many years, The Champ proved to be as formidable an opponent as the players themselves with the course’s daunting “Bear Trap” – a series of three holes, starting with No. 15 - continuing to test the game and spirit of the best players in modern golf.  At this year’s Honda Classic the “Bear Trap” netted an astounding 356 over par, compared with last year’s 254 over par, proving the improvements enhanced not only the quality of the course, but also its difficulty.
“We are thrilled with the extensive renovations by Nicklaus Design and Superior Golf Concepts,” said PGA National Resort & Spa managing director, Joel Paige.  “The combined scores from holes 15, 16 and 17 have shown that our “Bear Trap” offers professional golfers the toughest three-hole stretch anywhere in the world.”

 I'm booking my trip to Palm Beach Gardens as soon as possible.


"It surprises me a lot of guys don't learn from the way his routine is."

Steve Elling caught up with Tiger luggage handler Stevie Williams in a mood that could best be described as jovial, drawing these quotes out of him:

 "In 2000-01, Tiger was putting unbelievable; his putting was amazing," Williams said. "He didn't hit the ball anywhere near like he hits it now, didn't have anywhere near the array of shots and anywhere near the course management and course control. I don't even compare the two, to be honest with you."
And this is one that has crossed my mind...
 "If he was unprepared, he'd probably withdraw. He doesn't play as much as other players. I've always wondered why a lot of other guys don't take a leaf out of his book and do like he does. It surprises me a lot of guys don't learn from the way his routine is."

Of course in their defense, Tiger does keep his work out and practice programs relatively secret.  


Taking (Dead?) Aim At Bristol

Thanks to reader NRH for John Ourand's lengthy Sports Business Journal story questioning the platformable synergies of ESPN. There isn't really anything golf related here, though somehow I suspect PGA Tour players who question the Tour's 15 year Golf Channel deal may find this in their lockers with a nice note from Tim Finchem that reads, "This is why you overpay me. Love, Tim."


"Great. I love to see the players suffer—52.6%"

maar01_survey.jpgI'll be away for a few days and Internet access appears to be dicey. I'm staying at a five-star hotel that touts their in-room VCR's, so you can imagine why I don't have high hopes for high-speed Internet anywhere nearby. (Bet you can guess what country I'm headed to!).

Should this be my last post through Wednesday afternoon, I thought it would be a nice one to let simmer for a few days. And what better time to kick off the pre-Masters hype?

Now, you've all been subject to my rants about the envy that drives the mentality of "relatable golf," better known as wanting to see the world's best players brought down to a level of mediocrity.

Still, knowing how much criticism there has been of Augusta's par-protecting ways in recent years this April Golf Digest online survey question and reponse blew me away:

8. How do you feel about Zach Johnson's winning score of one over par at the 2007 Masters?

Great. I love to see the players suffer—52.6%
Hated it. I watch the Masters for birdies and eagles—39.2%
Zach Johnson won the Masters?—8.2%

I'm hoping for at least one eloquent explanation why the Masters is better when it's a celebration of suffering, as opposed to a contest of skill where, on occasion, someone might shoot 14-under par for the week. Don't be shy!


"There went $200."

Just how powerful is Tiger? He can distract an online poker player.

From the comments under Steve Elling's story recapping Sunday's final round, a reader named lelandjr posts:

OK. Just how 'wow' was that last birdie! I was sitting at my computer playing online poker and foolishly going all in on a pair of cowboys and was so sure that I would low. Then I look up as El Tigre's putt rolled ever so nonchalantly back towards the hole and I bent over waiting, waiting just to see what it would do. Of course, as always at these big moments, the Golf Zen Master himself soundly rolled the putt over twenty feet into the hole. And then... he gave a resounding celebration, which was well deserved after the comeback he staged this weekend. Anyway, while I was busy watching El Tigre, I thought I had went all in when in fact I still had 30 chips left. Of course my opponent raised me all in and while I wasn't paying attention, I was forced to fold (for taking too much time) and lost. There went $200. So this much I know, don't watch Tiger play golf while playing poker for money... Incredible tournament.



Did You Catch Johnny Miller Keeping Tabs...

Of Sean O'Hair's practice swings during the final round at Bay Hill? Worse was O'Hair not being in position to begin his pre-shot preparations when the 17th green finally cleared after a long wait. He apparently hadn't realizes it was his honor, but did not make up for lost time as Johnny noted that he'd take 1:25 to get to the point where he was over the ball and about to pull the trigger. 

Let's hope Johnny keeps up the slow play watch.


Tiger, Denis Watson Prevent Historic Bryant Brother Wins

tiger64_r1_c1.jpgThat's right, Tiger beats out Bart Bryant and Denis Watson stops Brad Bryant in a playoff on the old geezers tour. Or did Tiger beat Brand Dennis beat Bart?

Anyway, Tiger also happened to match Ben Hogan's all time PGA Tour victory tally while winning his fifth official event in a row, and his sixth or seventh straight worldwide win, depending on whether you count the Target World Challenge.

But really, doesn't that pale when compared to stopping the Bryants?


Palmer Implores Tiger To Low Round...

...probably knowing that with greens that bad, the only way Tiger's only coming back if he's defending.

Steve Elling reports after Saturday's third round at Bay Hill:

Palmer, who sauntered over to Phil Mickelson on the putting range and later visited Woods on the practice range, was a fount of goodwill, and coincidentally or not, the world's No. 1 seemingly took it to heart.

"He came out and watched me hit a few shots," Woods said. "He liked what I was doing with my swing and said, 'Just keep going, you're headed down the right path. Just go shoot a low one today.'"

Yes, your majesty.

Besides, what's not for Palmer to like? The king and the crowned prince have been inextricably tied for a few weeks now, ever since Woods moved past Palmer on the PGA Tour's all-time victory list, moving one peg ahead with his win last month at the Accenture Match Play Championship. It was Woods' 63rd win and he's only 32 years old.

"The way he's playing, he could double that," Palmer said Saturday.


Huggan: WGC's Should Be Out of Finchem's Hands

He's allowed to dream a little. Well, a lot...

Anyway, with Finchem out of the way – no bad thing in any circumstances – control of the WGCs must pass to a committee formed by those who run the four major championships. While far from perfect – the R&A and USGA, for example, have badly let down the game with their neglect of the various technological issues over the last decade and a half – their hearts are at least in the right place.

Besides, in these days of multi-million dollar/pound/euro incomes, the only things capable of exerting any real influence over Tiger and the gang are the game's four most important titles. They certainly don't pay much attention to the pathetic posturings of the various tours when it comes to the currently appallingly slow pace of play worldwide. So it should be that, if a player misses a WGC for any reason other than injury, illness or a family crisis, he will automatically be banned from competing in the next major. You don't fancy that trip to Australia in February? Then don't bother making any plans to visit Augusta in April.
Oh yeah, that'll happen.
Imagine, a World Match Play Championship at, say, Morfontaine or Royal Dornoch, or even the Old Course at St Andrews. I'd love to see a top player chipping to the second green at Dornoch, or, one up with two to play, deciding whether or not to risk all and go for the green at the Road Hole.

The possibilities, of course, are almost endless. But I would expect my committee to come up with an Open Championship-like rota of maybe 20 courses worldwide. Places like Kingston Heath, the Emirates club in Dubai, Barnbougle Dunes, Muirfield, Sunningdale, Fontainebleau, Portmarnock, Royal County Down, the Durban Country Club, Cape Kidnappers, Royal Portrush, Royal Porthcawl and Carnoustie, where the very best players and shot-makers will be suitably inspired rather than bored by their surroundings, never mind the inherent drawbacks of modern clubs and balls.

Yeah, but where are the partner's chalets going to go?



Safeway Pulls Out of Popular Phoenix LPGA Event

Bill Huffman reports that one of the tour's more popular events is about to lose its sponsor, and includes some interesting numbers in the story.
Maletis said it takes about $5 million “on the average” to run an LPGA event.

“But that also depends a little bit on the level of participation by the sponsor, so we wouldn’t necessarily need a $5 million commitment in order for a sponsor to get involved with our tournament,” he said.

Last year, a record 151,000-plus fans turned out to watch Mexico’s Lorena Ochoa, the No. 1 ranked player in the world, win the Safeway International. The tournament also raised $1 million for charity with an economic impact on the East Valley estimated at over $21 million.

Bay Hill Photo Caption Fun, Arnold Palmer Sockless Edition

Uh, Marty Hackel, can you send The King some socks? David Walberg took this shot that's up on What's Arnold thinking?


Mar152008 Interview

logo_top.pngAndrew Brown of the intriguing golf site asked me a few questions. And I answered them.


"Our brand equity has solid footing."

Michael Garten is out as the executive director of the WGC Match Play and Greg Hansen explains the factors that led to a change.

A tepid Southern Arizona economy took a bite out of Match Play's second season. Ticket sales were off by about 8,000 from the 2007 inaugural event. That's roughly $1 million in revenue shortfall. In addition, corporate sales didn't match '07 totals. That should have been predictable and unavoidable.

Moreover, the novelty had faded. Many potential ticket buyers were scared off by reports that The Gallery Golf Club's hilly South Course was decidedly not friendly to spectators. Unlike 2007, this year's tournament was not a five-day sellout.

Some first-year sponsors, such as now-defunct First Magnus, which spent about $100,000 as a Match Play booster, didn't return. The six-figure financial involvement of home-building giant KB Home also diminished greatly. And so on.

The irony is that interest in the WGC event has skyrocketed since it moved from La Costa, Calif., where it was staged for seven years, some of them with fewer than 3,000 fans on the course. This year's TV ratings established records for the Golf Channel (the Tiger Woods factor).

"The event really found a new life in the Southern Arizona market," said Garten. "Our brand equity has solid footing. The future is promising."

I'm wondering, who actually decides when you have brand equity? Is it the brand equity fairy? The Grand Master of brand equity?


Maybe He Picked The Wrong Week To Give Up Playing Golf: Feherty Recuperating From Serious Bike Accident

350066.binDoug Ferguson reports on David Feherty's most severe biking accident yet, which includes a punctured lung and three broken ribs. Thankfully, he's in good spirits and is planning to return in time for the Masters.

In case you missed it, Feherty has given up drinking and golf for his new passion of cycling. He talks about the drinking part here in this Connell Barrett piece, recently chatted with Jeff Rude about the tendency of motorists to hit cyclists, and was featured in this Cam Cole story talking about his beloved bike.

Now, I don't care if you never pray. This is the time to get down on your knees. Send every good thought you can David's way. He must enjoy a speedy recover in time for the Masters.

Why, you say?

I have two words: Bobby Clampett. 


TPC Las Colinas, Err...Four Seasons Set To Go

After rumors that it would not be ready after lousy weather hampered their turf grow-in, it seems the course formerly known as the TPC Las Colinas is not only ready to host the Byron Nelson, it's been rebranded! 


Irving, TX – The completely redesigned TPC Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas will host the 2008 EDS Byron Nelson Championship, April 23-27, according to officials from the PGA TOUR, Four Seasons Resort and Club and the Salesmanship Club Charitable Golf of Dallas, the Championship’s sponsor.

After a thorough review of all aspects of the golf course by PGA TOUR, BentleyForbes, Four Seasons, and Salesmanship Club of Dallas, the PGA TOUR is pleased to announce the TPC Four Seasons will host the 2008 EDS Byron Nelson Championship.

"So many parties have pulled together under challenging weather conditions to get the course ready and make this announcement possible,” said Henry Hughes, Executive Vice President and Chief of Operations for the PGA TOUR. “D.A. Weibring has been the driving force with tremendous support from both BentleyForbes and Four Seasons.  The Salesmanship Club will undoubtedly continue to produce record charity dollars to benefit the less fortunate in Dallas. The PGA TOUR is proud to congratulate all involved in this huge accomplishment."

Immediately following the 2007 EDS Byron Nelson Championship, D.A. Weibring/Golf Resources Group embarked on an $8 million redesign of the TPC Four Seasons.

“In redesigning the course, our goal was to honor the legacy of Byron Nelson,” said Weibring.  “To that end, we created a cleaner, more defined course that incorporates traditional tee, bunker and green elements

Cleaner, more defined. Translation: ugly.

“PGA TOUR players will be faced with more shot options from tee to green, creating additional drama for spectators and TV viewers.  At the same time, for resort guests and Sports Club members, we created a very playable layout for all skill levels,” he said.

Utilizing input from dozens of PGA TOUR players, Weibring and his partner, Steve Wolfard, redesigned every hole on the 76-acre course, including all tees, fairways, and green complexes.  The course is now distinguished by traditional square tee boxes, softer mounding, better sight lines and dramatic white faced bunkers framing the fairway and green complexes. PGA TOUR professionals Harrison Frazar and J.J. Henry served as player consultants on the project.

Bring your sunglasses boys!

“The changes didn’t require us to dramatically lengthen the course.  We added just 200 yards overall,” Weibring said. “Instead, PGA TOUR players will see the biggest impact in the realignment of tee shots and better contouring of bunkers and greens.”

The changes start at a redesigned 20,000 square foot putting and chipping green, designed to meet the exacting standards of PGA TOUR professionals. The course culminates on the beautiful and dramatic 18th hole, highlighted by a series of four lakes with cascading waterfalls and a challenging risk/reward decision by the player.

Not three lakes, but four lakes. Nothing but the best for Las Col...Four Seasons.