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In my experience, the decision to increase green speeds has definitely hurt the game of golf. This development has not only caused many of the greens on the great golf courses to be nearly unplayable, but has really hampered the ability of a number of players to negotiate the new speed levels.  PETE DYE


    

Saturday
Jul262008

"The manufacturers got ahead of the USGA and the R&A. That's the bottom line."

John Huggan talks to Tom Watson about the state of game and in particular, the ball and equipment.

"I am very adamant that I think the ball should be brought back," he says, echoing the sentiments of many others of his generation, including Jack Nicklaus. "It goes too far. It also goes straighter and is therefore easier to control in a wind. But there are a lot of factors involved other than just pure distance. The rate at which the ball spins is important. They spin less these days and that is one reason they go farther. A higher spin rate would exaggerate misses and send the ball more off line than at present.
"The manufacturers got ahead of the USGA and the R&A. That's the bottom line. Those companies made balls that conform to rules that unfortunately allowed them to go too far. They're too easy to play. And that is true for all classes of player. Yes, they make less of a difference to the handicap golfer, but they still make a difference. Just not to the degree they do for the better leading professionals."
As you'd expect of a Stanford graduate – his fellow alumnus and close friend, Jim Vernon, is the current president of the USGA – Watson has solutions to the problem that has led to the vast majority of the current generation of players never knowing the joy that comes with perfectly shaping a shot into a stiff crosswind.
"When the ball goes as straight as it does now, you don't have to 'work' it from left-to-right or right-to-left; all you have to do is aim right at your target," continues Watson. "That takes a skill factor out of the game.
"The old guys had that skill factor, but the younger guys don't seem to have that same ability. Yes, they learn how to play that famous Tiger Woods 'stinger' – I saw a few of the kids using it at Birkdale last week – and that is a useful shot to have. But can they hit a stinger from right-to-left or left-to-right? That's what I want to see them doing, but right now I'm not.
"In defence of the young players, they have never had to learn a variety of shots. They have three wedges, for example. They have never had to add loft to their 56-degree wedge to make it play as if it has 60-degrees. I'm sure they understand how to hit the ball a little higher, but it's a lot easier to hit a high lofted shot with a 60-degree wedge than it is to hit one with only 56-degrees."
Saturday
Jul262008

"Yes, designing golf courses do make reading putts a little easier."

Joy Chakravarty in Business 24-7 talks to Greg Norman about his British Open play and other Dubai-related matters.

I can walk away from here being disappointed, but I can walk away from here with my head held high because I hung in there. It wasn't meant to be, and you've got to take that with a grain of salt.
Any cliches he miss?
You are a prolific golf course architect and are also designing three of the four courses at Jumeirah Golf Estates. Do you think your course designing knowledge had any part in the success at the Open this year?

I think it does help, and the one place where it helps the most are the greens. When you are designing a golf course, you've got to take the water off the green, and in most golf courses you have two to three places where you can take the water off the green. So, when you look at the places where the water will go, it gives you a good idea of where the blades of the grass will grow, and about the slopes. Yes, designing golf courses do make reading putts a little easier.
So that's why so many players are getting into course design. And here I thought it was the money.

Saturday
Jul262008

"I have no idea what goes on."

Michelle Wie was peppered with some interesting questions to plug her appearance at next week's Reno event (sorry, no linkable transcript). This exchange struck me as disturbing but not surprising:

Q. I also know the PGA TOUR can't pay any appearance fee, but do you get anything from your sponsors when you play on the PGA TOUR?
MICHELLE WIE:  You know, I don't think I'm the right person to talk about my financial stuff.  I have no idea what goes on.
Q. Is that your dad?
MICHELLE WIE:  Yes.  I just play.
Friday
Jul252008

"So, now that the fertile fields of home have been scorched, we're headed abroad to see if we can fool 'em into making the same mistakes. Shame on us."

Steve Elling considers Tim Finchem's "grow the game" argument for making the push to get golf in the Olympics and writes:

Costs for players skied as daily fee courses commanded triple-digit payouts. Courses became too hard to play in under five hours. The cost of a new driver, needed to handle the 7,000-yard tracks being built, rose to $400. A legion of folks was priced out of the game because of time and money. For every new customer, another one quit.
The number of rounds played each year in the U.S. stagnated. Now, alarmingly, it has begun to drop in some parts of the country. Worse, more courses have closed over the past three years than have opened. People bought homes in golf communities in good faith, only to see the developer-owner of the courses bolt when the land was sold.
The economic model of the game in the States pulled a hammy chasing after money. Now that some cities are cracking down on water usage, which will affect course conditions and desirability, it's likely going to get even worse. Crude prices have driven up fertilizer costs markedly.
So, now that the fertile fields of home have been scorched, we're headed abroad to see if we can fool 'em into making the same mistakes. Shame on us. Granted, it's a slight leap of faith to hold the PGA of America or USGA responsible for the general direction of the game and current economic climate, but in golf, most of the parts are somehow linked.
And of course, regarding the format, which in a sport full of potentially emotion-rich team formats is 72-holes of individual stroke play...

 

Besides, is there really a great appetite for golf in the Games among the public, especially if it results in yet another four-day stroke-play event? I'm not feeling the love.

Friday
Jul252008

Chrissy On PGA Decision: She Just Wants Greg To Be Happy

John Garrity caught up with the lovely bride who reports that the happy couple has until Monday to decide whether they will sweat off five pounds stomping around muggy Oakland Hills.

“He has until Monday to decide,” his bride Chris Evert said this afternoon as she followed Norman in the second round of the Senior British Open at Royal Troon
“He has a lot to consider,” said Evert, who has faced a few roadforks of her own since retiring from competitive tennis. “What are your motives for playing? Do you play just because you’re flattered that you’ve been invited, or do you play because you feel good about your golf and really want to play?”
And this just warmed my heart...
“I’ll give my opinion, but it’s entirely his decision,” Evert said of the PGA invite. “If he wants to play, I want him to play. I just want him to be happy.”
Friday
Jul252008

Phil Holds Ground In Testimony; Tells Congress That His Charity Efforts Are Working Wonders

Not included on the YouTube edition were tough questions from our hard-working Congressmen.

Thursday
Jul242008

“Andrew played harder than some of the other boys wanted to play.”

Thanks to readers Ari and John for these stories related to Andrew Giuliani suing Duke University over coach O.D. Vincent dismissing the senior from the golf team.

Ellis Henican in Newsday:

Late yesterday, his attorneys filed a federal lawsuit in North Carolina, contending the university has violated its obligations to him as a student-athlete and demanding he be invited back to Duke's state-of-the-art golf-training facility.

It's obviously been a tense few months on campus.
On Feb. 11, the lawsuit says, men's golf coach "O.D. Vincent announced to the team that he was unilaterally canceling Andrew's eligibility to participate in the University's Athletics Program immediately and indefinitely. Andrew and his teammates were shocked. Andrew had no prior notice of what was about to happen. At no time was Andrew ever given an opportunity to defend himself; instead he was summarily dismissed."
Dan Slater posts these details on the WSJ's blog. Unfortunately for Vincent, it reads like satire.
The suit claims that incidents of misconduct that Vincent cited in his reasons for expelling Giuliani were not appropriate reasons for expulsion, such as:
    •    On Feb. 2 Giuliani flipped his putter a few feet to his golf bag.
    •    On Feb. 3, Giuliani leaned over his driver and it broke, and “in O.D. Vincent’s telling, this became ‘throwing and breaking’ a club.”
    •    On Feb. 3, Giuliani walked ahead of his playing partner at Treyburn Golf Course and later that day “gunned the engine” of his car and “drove fast while leaving the golf course parking lot.”
    •    On Feb. 4, during a golf-team football game, “Andrew played harder than some of the other boys wanted to play.”
    •    On Feb. 10, while Giuliani was eating an apple, a teammate twice hit the golfer’s hand and knocked the fruit to the ground. After that same teammate “slammed a door hitting Andrew’s face,” Giuliani “tossed the apple at a teammate, glancing off the side of his face.”
Thursday
Jul242008

"She was like looking at a little kid after you tell them there's no Santa Claus."

Now I should know that when the Brand Lady looks to smooth over something, it warrants further investigation. Especially when we have videotape contradicting her written statement. And for the life of me, why the LPGA is trying to spin this, I have no idea (unless the emails are coming from parents with crying children who have just found out there is no Santa Claus).

According to her "Message from Headquarters" Carolyn Bivens writes:

...there has been some misunderstanding about comments made by Sue Witters, LPGA director of tournament operations and the lead official in this situation.  The initial AP story that ran misquoted Sue. Acknowledging the error, the AP ran a corrected story.  However, for those who only viewed the original story, it is important to know Sue’s comments in the press conference were referencing her own emotion when she had to notify Michelle; the comments were not directed at or describing Michelle.
Here's what the corrected AP story says:
Sue Witters, the LPGA’s director of tournament competitions, disqualified Wie in a small office in an LPGA trailer at the course after asking her what had happened.
“I felt like I was telling somebody that there was no Santa Claus,” Witters said.

Courtesy of Springfield's WAND TV's video viewable here (and below), Witters told the assembled media:

"She was like looking at a little kid after you tell then there's no Santa Claus. She was upset, I don't blame her. We forget how young she is because how well she plays. We gotta remember, she's a kid."
The AP had the quote correct the first time, so I'm not sure why the LPGA sought to have the story retracted?


Wednesday
Jul232008

"The rules are the rules."

Thanks to the reader who forwarded this letter from the Brand Lady regarding the most recent Michelle Wie incident, which went out to friends of the LPGA Tour and LPGA members. Bloggers were not included.

While Commish Bivens clarifies several key points related to timing and the circumstances, I'm surprised she had to clarify the comments of Sue Winters as not being a put down of Michelle Wie (must have been a big part of the fan email?).

The fundamental question still has not been answered: why does the LPGA lack an official in the scoring tent like other
major tours?

Here's the letter, minus the fully branded e-stationary announcing a "A Message From Headquarters."

Carolyn F. Bivens
LPGA Commissioner 

July 23, 2008

Dear LPGA members:

Since the LPGA disqualified Michelle Wie from last weekend’s LPGA State Farm Classic for not signing her second-round scorecard, the LPGA has been the subject of countless feedback e-mails, blogs and phone calls to LPGA headquarters.  Many of these have had varying and inaccurate accounts of what happened and why the various steps were taken when.  All of this has confused and angered individuals, when in fact we enforced a very clear-cut rules infraction.  I also understand that many of you have experienced first-hand the emotion that this decision has created.

 With this in mind, I would like to share with you the details and timeline of the events relating to the rules decision so you will have all of the information relating to the events at the LPGA State Farm Classic, and be as informed as possible to share the information with anyone you may come across.

Timeline/details

Friday, July 18

-          After the second round, Michelle turned in her score card and left the roped scoring area without signing her card. A scoring volunteer noticed that the card was missing Michelle’s signature and caught up with her approximately 40 yards from the tent. The volunteer asked her to sign the card, which she did.

-          When LPGA Officials were verifying cards and scores on Friday evening, they had a fully signed card. They did not know that Michelle left the scoring area without signing her score card.  They had a signed card – for all players – and proceeded with the daily round verification.

Saturday, July 19

-          While the third round was underway – and all players were on the course -- an LPGA staff member overheard volunteers discussing the events from Friday re: Michelle’s card and the staff member asked the volunteers to recount the situation.  Realizing there was an issue, the staff member alerted an LPGA Official.  The LPGA Officials gathered the facts and interviewed various individuals – some of whom were onsite and some who were not working the event that day -- and all repo rted the same story.  LPGA Officials decided not to disrupt the pairing and determined they would speak with Michelle when she completed her round.  It was important to get Michelle’s side of the story, but interrupting the round would have impacted Michelle’s fellow competitors as well.  When the round was complete and she was advised of the situation, Michelle confirmed the details and the LPGA imposed the disqualification effective with the end of the second round.

-          LPGA Officials were in contact with the USGA as soon as the incident was reported. The on-site officials proceeded cautiously and correctly.

 Rules infraction

-          Rule 6-6b. – Signing and Returning Score Card governed the situation:  After completion of the round, the competitor should check his score for each hole and settle any doubtful points with the Committee.  He must ensure that the marker or markers have signed the score card, sign the score card himself a nd return it to the Committee as soon as possible.

-          The 2008 LPGA Rules of Play define the scoring area as the roped area defining the boundary of the scoring tent.  Supplementary rules of play stipulate that the scoring area boundary may instead be defined by a white line, which has the effect of decreasing the size of the scoring area.  The white line was not deemed necessary this week and was not put in place, and as a result the boundary is the scoring tent.  Prior to signing her card, Michelle left the defined scoring area.

I addition, there has been some misunderstanding about comments made by Sue Witters, LPGA director of tournament operations and the lead official in this situation.  The initial AP story that ran misquoted Sue. Acknowledging the error, the AP ran a corrected story.  However, for those who only viewed the original story, it is important to know Sue’s comments in the press conference were referencing her own emotion when she had to notify Michelle; the comments were not directed at or describing Michelle.  In fact, Sue represented the LPGA in a way that we can all be proud of. She handled the situation with the utmost care and attention.

In the end, we should all hold our head up high knowing that our organization upheld the rules of golf and administered them with Michelle the same way they have been applied to every player since the LPGA’s founding in 1950.  The rules are the rules.

Should you have any questions about this or need additional clarification, please let me know.


Best regards,

Carolyn F. Bivens

Let's not pat ourselves on the back too much here CB. This would not have happened on the PGA Tour. Where, incidentally Michelle will be teeing it up soon.
Wednesday
Jul232008

Greg And Chrissy To Discuss PGA Championship Appearance Over Dinner

For the sake of golf fans in Detroit, they might want to hope it's a really good bottle of red. Because a PGA appearance would be four weeks in a row, and following four days (presumably) at The Broadmoor/altitude, so I'm going to guess Greg Norman is going to decline the PGA of America's invite to tee it up at Oakland Hills, especially reading his comments about all of his injury issues.

He may not look like an old man, but he's starting to talk like one.

Tuesday
Jul222008

"But Wie’s sponsors have a lot invested in her, and time is running out this year on them getting any returns for the $10 million they gave her to celebrate her 16th birthday."

Tim Dahlberg nails it with this point regarding Michelle Wie's latest sponsor's invite:
But Wie’s sponsors have a lot invested in her, and time is running out this year on them getting any returns for the $10 million they gave her to celebrate her 16th birthday. She has only one sponsor’s exemption left on the LPGA Tour, and if she doesn’t make $80,000 or so in the CN Canadian Women’s Open next month she would face having to go to qualifying school to try to get on the tour next year.
And she had better get on tour soon, because her novelty act has long since worn thin. Wie might some day be a fine player, but she is no longer a precocious child playing against grown-ups and she still has yet to win a tournament.
Joe Logan isn't too excited about the invite either. And this blog post lists the previous Wie debacles. Anyone excited about her appearance in Reno?
Tuesday
Jul222008

"The British Open will be an all-cable major beginning in 2010"

From Thomas Bonk's LATimes.com column, reporting on the 2008 British Open television ratings:
The overnight ratings for ABC's final round coverage Sunday fell 14.6%, from a 4.1 to a 3.5.
And this is surprising, particularly the dollar amount, which sounds awfully high.
The British Open will be an all-cable major beginning in 2010 and be carried only on ESPN, ending a 50-year association with ABC, according to SportsBusiness Journal. The seven-year deal is not yet finalized but reported to be around $25 million a year.
Tuesday
Jul222008

"It was not the great disaster it was built up to be - and I didn't think it would be."

Thanks to reader Chris for Peter Dawson's post-Open thoughts, which include this regarding No. 17 green at Birkdale:

The new 'skateboard park' contours of the 17th green had been a hot topic of debate coming into the event, but it will be remembered for Padraig Harrington's winning eagle there rather than any calamities.
"We will pause for reflection on it now, but we have nothing to announce about it this morning," stated Dawson. "It was not the great disaster it was built up to be - and I didn't think it would be."
Well, I guess we know who calls the architectural shots at Birkdale!



Tuesday
Jul222008

"This is another step in the process of making me a better player.''

Whatever sympathy I had for Michelle Wie and her clan following the weekend DQ was lost with the announcement that she's going to play the Reno PGA Tour event. Doug Ferguson reports.

Tuesday
Jul222008

Open Championshp Question 2: Reinforcing The Beauty Of Flexibility?

Coming off the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, I'm wondering if the R&A's lack of first round flexibility, along with the clear lack of planning during architectural alterations only makes the USGA's Mike Davis and PGA of America's Kerry Haigh look that much more shrewd when it comes to getting the most out of a course's architecture by varying tees. 

Or do such course setup contrivances only belong in America where we don't have the weather to liven things up, and where such variety delivers the surprise and spontaneity that is already inherent in links golf?

Personally, I don't see how you can ever go wrong mixing things up in a game that is entirely too predictable, even on the great links during a windy Open Championship.  I guess that's my nice way of telling architect Peter Dawson to throw in a few more tees next time he renovates a rota venue, especially on those into-the-wind par 5s they convert to 4s. (Well, but please, no more tees at St. Andrews.)

Tuesday
Jul222008

Congress Calls Phil To Testify; Expected To Assert Fifth Amendment Rights If Torrey Driver Decision Comes Up

Phil and Amy Mickelson will be hosting an education-related town hall before Phil heads up the hill to testify at the request of Exxon-Mobil's lobbyists   Exxon Mobil's PR department  Congress. He will be talking about the state of math and science education in the United States.
"Amy and I are thrilled to be working with our partners to give teachers the tools they need to help improve math and science education in this country," said Phil Mickelson. "Through our series of Town Hall Forums, we can also raise awareness, focus attention and dedicate additional resources toward solving the growing crisis in math and science education."

Joining the Mickelsons on the panel will be Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, president of Spelman College in Atlanta; Dr. Gerry Wheeler, executive director of the National Science Teachers Association; and James M. Rubillo, executive director of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Dr. Emlyn Koster, president and chief executive officer of the Liberty Science Center, will open the Town Hall Forum by addressing the important role science centers play in energizing young minds in math and science. Ken Cohen, vice president of public affairs with ExxonMobil, will moderate the panel and encourage additional discussion of key topics in math and science education.
Monday
Jul212008

Open Championship Question 1: Did Padraig's Shot Save The 17th Green?

Birkdale17greenrear.jpgBy nearly all accounts the R&A/Martin Hawtree green installed at Royal Birkdale's 17th was out of character and disrespectful to Birkdale's architectural flow.

But did Padraig Harrington's final round eagle set up by a brilliant hybrid shot (and help from a brilliant bounce) save this green cause?

Since we're dealing with the stiffest of the stiff upper lips here, I'm voting that the green will not be touched between now and the next Open at Birkdale.

Thoughts?

Sunday
Jul202008

Light Posting This Week, Possible Disruptions

I'll be on the road and checking in from a place where the Internet is better at night than during the day (yes, there are still places with connections like that). But it's awfully pretty and will be a great place for golf.

That said, I have several Open Championship issues that we must chew on, so it'll be a good week for posing questions and hearing what you all have to say.

Also, my web host Squarespace is uploading a new version of its software so the site will be down and possibly going through a few hiccups Sunday night into Monday morning. Apologies for any disruptions this might bring to your blog reading.

Sunday
Jul202008

Open Championship Clippings, Monday Edition

july20_harringkiss_600x399.jpgPerhaps everyone was just a bit worn out by four days of wind and cold, but the Monday filings struck me as a bit uninspired.

Or maybe after a week of good storylines and odd antics Sunday was just a nice, solid finish that warrants simple, respectful coverage. (Padraig Harrington photo to the left is courtesy of golf.com's final round gallery.)

Anyway, here goes...starting with the lede's from key papers:

Doug Ferguson for AP:

Turns out Padraig Harrington's wrist was strong enough to hit all the right shots in the British Open. Better yet, it was strong enough to lift the silver claret jug.

Lawrence Donegan filing for The Guardian:

On a day at Royal Birkdale when the game of golf never seemed tougher, the toughest competitor in the field prevailed to win his second successive Open championship.

James Corrigan in the Independent:

Budge over Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, Bobby Jones, Old Tom Morris and all you other legends on the Open Championship's top table. There is a new champion to join you in that exclusive club who have retained their title. Step forward, Padraig Harrington, the pride of all Ireland.

Mike Aitken writing for The Scotsman:

The first golfer from this side of the Atlantic to successfully defend the Open championship since James Braid last pulled off the feat at Muirfield in 1906, Padraig Harrington was acclaimed by history yesterday as Ireland's greatest ever golfer.

As for Harrington, the wrist was the story. Ryan Herrington talks to Bob Rotella who explains why Padraig's wrist injury was the best thing that happened to him last week. And as Steve Elling writes, Padraig completely agrees.

img10903932.jpgJeff Babineau offers this Padraig backstory:

“I spend at least one session a day in the gym, every day, and I don’t enjoy doing that, but I do it because of the golf. I used to be a lot heavier than I am now; I would like to eat all the puddings and the pies, believe me. These are the sacrifices you’ve got to make, but the reason you do it is because you enjoy the end results, and you’re staying focused. It all leads to winning Open trophies.

An American friend who once stayed at Harrington’s spacious home in Dublin found himself wrestling with a six-hour time change, and unable to sleep, got out of bed in the middle of the night to check his emails. It was then he heard the loud, piercing thud of metal hitting something, as if some car accident had occurred nearby. The visitor then heard it again. And again. It was Harrington, who’d awoken with a new swing thought in mind, climbed out of bed, and was hitting balls.

“No, I don’t wake up in the night to hit balls,” Harrington said of his life these days. “But I have often snuck down there at 12 o’clock at night before I’ve gone to bed to hit golf balls. I did this wrist injury after winning a tournament last week. I did it at 10 o’clock at night hitting drivers.”

As for the Shark, Martin Johnson says Greg Norman beat himself.

"So, who do you think will win the Open with Tiger not playing?" It was a question everyone was asking before the tournament began, and if anyone had ventured: "How about a semi-retired 53-year-old, who squeezes in the odd round between business meetings, and has a severe history of choking," they'd have been quietly led away to one of those establishments where they take away your shoelaces and feed you with a plastic spoon.

It so nearly happened, but Greg Norman was undone by the man he has always feared most in the final round of a major championship. Himself. The Great White Shark has a history of turning into a fish finger when the pressure is on, and although old age is supposed to make you forgetful, Norman once again managed to remember how not to win from the front.

Damon Hack shares this Chrissy anecdote:

"Ready for a fun day?" Evert was asked by a reporter as they headed to the first tee.

"I don't know if fun's the word," she replied before disappearing into a gallery of thousands.

glover-Chris-Wood_39577t.jpgTim Glover considers the epic week of amateur qualifier Chris Wood, silver medal winner and 5th place finisher did not get in the Masters, no matter how many times Tom Watson says it.

The celebrity and the attention will not go to Chris Wood's head. After all, his sister Abi, who is travelling in Europe, sent him a text at the weekend: "Are you at that Open thingy?" she asked. He most certainly was in that Open thing and the West Country was on high alert.

Peter Dixon calls the week "miraculous" and offers some numbers:

This was golf of the attritional variety, four days of it. Those wanting to see huge numbers of birdies and eagles at Royal Birkdale would have gone away disappointed, but they were not in the majority. In all, there were 12 eagles and 823 birdies, which compares with 5,015 pars, 2,310 bogeys and 391 double-bogeys or worse.

John Hopkins flips for this Open:

Unlike recent Sundays at the Masters, Sundays at the Open have been thrilling, drawn-out demonstrations of the virtues of this old game played out in front of the most knowledgeable spectators. This year's was not just thrilling, it was one of the most thrilling. There were so many players involved in the denouement. Throughout a long afternoon, when the wind was gusting up to 40mph, it seemed less like a golf tournament that had been founded deep in the recesses of the 19th century and more like a grand prix around, between, over and under the magnificent dunes of this famous course. At one point, there were 11 competitors within five strokes of the lead; later, there were ten within four. Rarely have so many disparate characters been involved.

John Huggan pens a column that I'll be taking issue with once the Open dust has settled.
 
Mike O'Malley compiles final round player reactions.

And finally, Clair Middtleton shares a note about Nick Faldo's "jibe" at Monty and shares this says-it-all item on the state of the R&A's priorities...

The chaps at Bentley will get a call from the R&A today when the term "ambush marketing" will be used. The Open has a lucrative deal with Lexus and officials were not best pleased to see a row of Bentleys being prominently displayed at Hillside golf club. "It's not the sort of thing one expects from a brand like that," sniffed an R&A spokesman.

 

 

Saturday
Jul192008

Open Championship Clippings, Sunday Edition

openlogo.jpgThose stories about all of the other players can wait another day, well most of them. This is about the Shark and the potential for something truly amazing to happen. I like his chances, because as Brian Hewitt noted the other night on Golf Channel, this has been the summer of extraordinary sports stories, so why not one more?

gwar01_080719norman.jpgAnyway, the Greg Norman stories, starting with Doug Ferguson:

This sounds familiar: Greg Norman goes to the final round of a major with the lead.

And, no, we're not talking about 1996.
Wow, forgot about that. Steve Elling writes:
If Norman gets it done at this age, at this stage, it would read like the greatest work of English fiction since Shakespeare was writing plays at the Globe Theater. All that remains to be seen is whether Sunday presents a comedy or tragedy for public consumption.
Paul Forsyth in The Times:
They were right when they said it wouldn’t be the same without Tiger Woods. It’s been even better, in a funny kind of way. Apart from a fading legend who refuses to see sense, and an Asian who is trying to become the continent’s first major winner, the defending champion is clinging for dear life to the Claret Jug. Add to that a leading Englishman who isn’t even the most famous sportsman in his family, and this 137th Open Championship has had just about everything.
John Huggan offers this, along with some thoughts on Norman's legacy from Jack Newton:
In an often one-dimensional world where the vast majority of tournament professionals have the imagination and individuality of the average lemming, Norman provided a tantalising glimpse of days gone by with some beautifully crafted shots. His control of trajectory and distance in what were extremely trying conditions was at times the equivalent of a post-graduate thesis written amidst primary school pupils content to colour between the lines. The little punches under a wind that gusted to 35mph were a particular joy.

Larry Dorman's lede in the New York Times:

The last time a golfer did what Greg Norman has a chance to do in the British Open, this name was Old Tom and the American Civil War had recently ended.

Damon Hack shares this from Nick Faldo:

"How come he still has that putting stroke at 53?" Faldo asked. "Where's the fairness in life?"
John Hopkins likes Norman's chances in this analysis:
First and foremost he is a superb athlete. He has, as Justin Rose said on Friday, "the body of a 23-year-old and the mind of a 53-year-old." He won't suffer from fatigue. Second, he is a magnificent striker of the ball, one of the best drivers the game has seen in recent years. On top of this he is excellent in bad weather. It is as if the wind has to be blowing hard and there to be a hint of rain in the air for Norman to come into his own. "Greg Norman is the best bad weather player I have ever seen," Tom Watson, the five-times Open champion said.
Jaime Diaz fleshes out the Linn Strickler story and shares this:
Taking a break from a year of short-term gigs for players like Robert Gamez, Tommy Armour III and Phil Blackmar, Strickler was "raking traps for 150-handicappers" this spring at posh Sebonack Golf Club in Long Island.

One day in May, "Today" show host Matt Lauer showed up with a guest, his good friend Greg Norman. Strickler had caddied for Norman in practice rounds a couple of times in the early '90s when filling in for Bruce Edwards, but he was surprised when Norman started inquiring about his availability.

"I'm holding my sand-divot filler and my rangefinder, and the Shark asks me if I want to caddie for him at the British," said Strickler. "When he wondered if the club would let me go, I said, 'I don't care if they let me go or not. I'm going.' "
Alistair Tait wonders if Norman is producing the greatest golf fairy tale story ever, and though that seems a bit excessive, as Tait notes, "Norman plays more tennis these days than he does golf."

Bill Elliott in The Guardian says it'll be the greatest Open win ever.

Michael Buteau writes that "Greg Norman has been in this position seven times before and managed to win once."

Mike O'Malley lists key player reactions, documents Saturday's tweaks to the course setup and looks at the long wait on No. 10 tee which prompts the question, do they not have the ability to throw a little water on them?
Rickman, asked whether officials were considering suspending play, said, "It's difficult; it's a judgment call. . . . Mainly based on the greens. They've dried out in the sun, and if we get situations where we get balls consistently moving, are not staying where they came to rest or players can't replace them having marked, lifted and cleaned, then they would be indicating signs that if they became consistent problems then we would have to suspend play."

Kim wasn't the only player experiencing difficulty on Saturday. Part of the backup came when Simon Wakefield, who shot a 70 and is three strokes out of the lead, watched his sand-wedge approach to the eighth hole finish off the green, only to see the wind move the ball. "The wind blew it three or four inches onto the green, so I was obviously able to mark it but then was not comfortable with playing the putt or hitting the putt because we were getting gusts," Wakefield said, concerned that the ball would move after he addressed it. "I spoke to one of the referees who called in, and they had had the same situation on the 10th, so we just sort of hung on and basically waited for the wind to die down."

Geoff Ogilvy writes about four holes that might make a difference in Sunday's final round, including No. 17 where the green is "pure Disneyland."

John Barton says the bookies like Padraig and lists the odds of other contenders.  Gary Van Sickle likes K.J. Choi. 

Bob Harig
tells us who the heck Simon Wakefield is.

Michael Bamberger
on what joy he's getting out of reading the local papers.

John Garrity
talks to Davis Love about Kenny Perry and player who pass on the Open.
“I’ve got myself in trouble over the years chastising players,” Love told reporters behind the 18th green. “If you don’t want to come, don’t come. Kenny Perry is a great friend of mine, a great guy and a great Christian, and he’s doing what he wants to do, and he’s not complaining. That’s the way to do it. If you don’t like it, don’t come. If you don’t like the Masters, don’t play."
An unbylined Daily Mail story catches up with Seve Ballesteros:
Ballesteros, troubled by back problems and a serious lack of form, said from his home in the village of Pedrena, northern Spain: 'Birkdale was where my name started to be popular and I can't explain all the feelings I keep in my heart of that time. But I wasn't tempted to come back.

'Everyone knows that I have retired for good. I will watch on TV and avoid yearning for the past. I won't ever play again in a major championship or on the Seniors Tour. When a player like myself quits competitive golf, he is gone for good. To participate as any other player does not appeal to me.'
And finally, ESPN posts the video of Rick Reilly's enjoyable end-of-telecast essay from Saturday's ESPN on ABC commercialfest.