It is a wonderful tribute to the game or to the dottiness of the people who play it that for some people somewhere there is no such thing as an insurmountable obstacle, an unplayable course, the wrong time of the day or year.
"It would be silly of us to remove a course like Baltusrol from future
consideration for USGA championships, including the U.S. Open. And we
haven't," David Fay wrote in a letter to the club he's a member at.
"On the other hand, the rest of the country might look at the greater N.Y. metro area having four different courses in the so-called (and definitely unofficial) de facto U.S. Open rota and howl about geographic bias."
Translation: you're fourth in line behind Winged Foot, Shinnecock and Bethpage. Three's a crowd.
Apparently ESPN's "Around the Horn" windbags debated Tiger's decision
to fly home from the PGA Sunday night instead of sticking around in
case of a playoff. I didn't see it, but here's my first thought:
If you're Tiger, don't you stay around Monday, show up in the locker room, hit balls on the range and hang around the practice green while the guys are getting ready? Just to send the subliminal message, "I think you guys are the biggest dogs in golf, I'm looking forward to watching you throw up all over yourselves, and I'll see you on the 4th tee in an hour."
Couldn't have hurt, could it? Weird stuff.
** This Reuters story says a playoff missed by Woods would have been one of the biggest blunders in sports history. Sounds fair to me. You?
Alan Tays in the Palm Beach Post talks to architects about the impact of technology and wonders when we'll see a 700 yard par-5.
"The Walker Cup was a joke," said Alice Dye, wife of fellow architect Pete Dye.
know that Tiger is strong and I know Vijay is strong, but those 21- and
22-year-olds carried a par-4 up there that was 354 yards."
Not all architects feel this way. Just most of them.
"There's a lot of people who believe the game is being ruined by the distance," Tom Fazio said. "I'm not so sure that I fit in that camp. It's really just following the way it always has been. I don't see it being bad for golf, myself.
"Jack Nicklaus used to hit it 300 yards. Now there's just more of them (who can)."
Asked if 700-yard holes could be in the future: "I'm not sure that that will happen. The scientists say the golf ball can't go much farther than it goes now. Of course, I heard them say that back eight years ago."
Regarding Merion at the U.S. Amateur: "They won't be hitting the famous 1-iron," Fazio said. "They'll probably hit 5-iron or 6-iron or 4-iron."
Tays writes that a 700-yard par-5 is nothing new. Just see The International in Bolton, Massachusetts.
stand on that back tee," said head pro Kevin Burnsworth, "you've got to
kill it 250 yards to get it to the fairway, and then 20 yards ahead of
that is the ladies' tee. So if you don't hit it 275, you're behind the
ladies' tee, which is a little embarrassing."
Joe Logan writes about the youth movement in amateur golf. The article also has a link to a nice U.S. Amateur site set up by the club.
Mark Wogenrich in The Morning Call also writes about Merion's desperation to host a U.S. Open.
He picks up this nugget from a recent CBS telecast:
''It's a matter of the USGA sitting down and saying, 'What's important to us,''' announcer Jim Nantz said of Merion and a possible U.S. Open bid. ''Is it more important to sell a lot of hospitality tents or is it important to take our great championship to the best courses in America?''
And here's what the USGA Executive Committee's Craig Ammerman tells Wogenrich: ''We're wary of saying to the corporate community, 'We're having the U.S. Open in Philadelphia, so don't come,''' Ammerman said.
Do you find this a little strange?
Tiger Woods didn't bother sticking around the PGA Championship for the final four holes, even though he was the clubhouse leader with an outside shot at getting into a playoff. Woods didn't see it that way.
He said Tuesday morning he flew home to Florida after he finished at 2-under 278, knowing the five players either tied or ahead of him would not drop shots over the final holes at Baltusrol, including two par 5s at the end.
Looking at USGA.org's news page,
I can't seem to find anything that says the USGA and R&A made
the joint announcement at the Walker Cup about rangefinder. Jim Achenbach at
Golfweek broke the story a couple of weeks ago. Anyone know of an announcement?
To be honest, I just thought it'd be a nice time to run a photo of
the former, never-to-be USGA "city presense." It may become this web
site's official USGA logo.
Golfweek's Jim Achenbach looks into the future and sees a game dramatically changing to accomodate technology. Tongue planted in cheek, sort of.
Why 15 holes?
- Because so many existing golf courses literally were bursting at the seams. Many of these courses wanted to expand to confront the challenge of long-hitting golfers, but expansion often was impossible because no more land was available.
- Because golf at most courses had become a five-hour ordeal. In an effort to speed up the game, the number of holes was shortened by one-sixth.
- Because everyday life had become busier and more hectic, and many golfers wanted to devote more time to their families and less time to golf.
Still awaiting for the post-British Open Golfweek issue. My postman
must really, really love golf. And work for the Pony Express.
SI arrives reliably on Wednesdays, with Golf Plus returning (for now). Golf World has been arriving fairly close to the intended publication dates for a change. They've even put some of the content up on GolfDigest.com and a few things stood out in recent issues.
The August 12 Golf World "bunker" has the amazing news of a lost Claude Harmon instruction book being found. They report that the book comes with Anthony Ravielli drawings and a Ben Hogan "forward."
The August 5 Golf World has this ShotLink note:
Vijay Singh and Tiger
Woods proved once again at the Buick that going for the green when the
opportunity arises often leads to success. At Warwick Hills Singh went
for the green (defined as going for a par 5 in two or a par 4 on the
tee shot) 19 times and played those holes in 10 under par. Woods went
for it 18 times, going 13 under on those holes. ... Speaking of going
for it, the field attacked the 322-yard, par-4 14th hole with a
vengeance as 226 players had a go at the putting surface off the tee.
And while only 25 were successful (11.1 percent), those going for it
produced a scoring average of 3.46 on the hole while those laying up
averaged 3.79. ... Singh hit every green in regulation on the front
nine the last three days. ... Amateur Ryan Brehm was second in the
field in driving distance for all drives, averaging 307.5 yards. His
358-yard poke on the 13th hole Friday was the second-longest drive of
the week. Tiger Woods outdrove him by one yard on the 16th hole Sunday.
In the same issue, Tim Rosaforte writes:
Instead of concern and even dread over the South Korean "invasion" ruining the excitement generated by teenage rivals Michelle Wie, Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel, there should be a reality check--and ultimately an acceptance--of the power the country has in women's golf. The victories of Birdie Kim and Jeong Jang--or "JJ" as players call her--should teach us that beyond the cultural and language barriers are stories and personalities we need to explore and embrace.Oh? And here I thought they were just fluke winners we could write off.
And as Jang alluded in broken English Sunday at Royal Birkdale, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Behind the back-to-back LPGA major-championship winners, several USGA and AJGA champs also hold Korean passports. The danger lies in some of the stories being told of overbearing fathers, but as Sean O'Hair could tell you, they exist in all countries. Kim and Jang: Like the saying goes, these girls rock, too.Nice synergy there, using the new LPGA ad slogan. Super, just super.
CBS's commercial load was a distraction yesterday - even more than on Sunday - creating a disjointed viewing experience during the year's final major. The commercials interrupted the narrative flow of this five-hole event, with 12 golfers finishing their final round, half of them separated by three shots, and half of them paid little or no attention by CBS (except for a note by Jim Nantz, as the camera focused on Vijay Singh, that yesterday was the 60th anniversary of V-J Day).And he offers this quote from CBS's Rob Correa, a CBS Sports senior vice president for programming:
CBS could have reduced the number of commercial blocks it had, or more boldly, eliminated advertising in the final 30 minutes. Perhaps it was waiting to go commercial free for a playoff, which would have caused the network to blow off more than "Guiding Light" and the first half-hour of "The Price Is Right."
But commercial interests won out over golf, even if no crucial shots were missed while CBS was in a break. Peter Oosterhuis, one of CBS's on-course reporters, seemed to believe the action was more important than mercantilism. After Mickelson missed a birdie putt on No. 17, Oosterhuis said, "Let's go to 18," but CBS went to commercials instead.
"The P.G.A. of America is responsible for the scheduling of the tournament," he said. "It's up to them." He said CBS would not have objected to an earlier start "if the weather reports were that severe."
The party lines seems to be: blame the weather reports for not making enough of a fuss. Only, that won't work as the forecasters were on the record with Golfonline's Tom Mackin as early as Friday that Sunday had the potential for severe, course-clearing conditions. Anyone watching the Weather Channel knew Sunday's afternoon forecast was for possible severe storms. As reader Stan pointed out, a simple "we goofed" would make this go away, but as usual, the spin will only prolong the criticism, and unfortunately, may even begin to taint Mickelson's win.
Meanwhile, Sam Weiman in the Westchester Journal News and Robert Lusetich in The Australian review the situation. Lusetich looks at the various "what if" scenarios had play been started earlier and not halted. Even though Steve Elkington says that even though he was the hottest player on the course, the wind shift would have made the finishing stretch brutal. So he was glad play was halted.
Speaking of the man with the best swing in the world, Jim McCabe talks to Elkington about the PGA and the Scenarios that are already keeping him lying awake at night.
Mike Lopresti in the USA Today takes a much stronger stance on the CBS-PGA screw-up than his colleague, and uses the opportunity to look at all sports and the ways they are selling out their integrity in an effort to pander to the networks.
This is old, old news — television forcing a sport to genuflect to its demands, no matter how ludicrous. Buying off nonsense with a check. And yet maybe such a screwball ending will cause some needed reflection.
Television's billions feed the wolves and always will. Fact of life. But there ought to be a line … somewhere.
The folks at the Masters, self-proclaimed guardians of the purity of the game, do the same thing, pushing their Sunday start to the very last telegenic moment. And you know the other handwork of television. The 10 p.m. NCAA tournament games. The bloated NBA playoff format that stretches toward July. The NFL January playoff games in frigid northern cities at night. All for a few dollars more.
John Huggan on Golfobserver looks at the latest behind-the-scenes
antics involving Colin Montgomerie and other European players, namely
Darren Clarke. All of it over Montgomerie's, uh, episode, in Jakarta
earlier this year.
Gosh, and I thought all of these European players had bonded during their victorious Ryder Cups.
Do the President's Cup Captain's picks make a statement about the depth of American golf?
Mind you, these are all great players. But U.S. Captain Jack Nicklaus basically had this group of players to choose from (Captain's picks in italics):
Justin LeonardAgain, all fine players, great patriots, devoted husbands, wonderful humanitarians, etc. But consider Gary Player's options:
Peter LonardBased on recent play, Ogilvy and Sabbatini would be tough to pass up, while Elkington's record in the Cup would have made him a fine choice. Lonard and Immelman aren't exactly slouches, though Immelman was way down the points list.
Truth be told, the only reason I post this is to generate some enthusiasm for the President's Cup. Right now, it's tough to even think about sitting down and watching Robert Trent Jones Golf Club for more than ten minutes.
Jeff Rude has more one-liners from Charles Barkley. Golfobserver's Peter McCleery beats the magazines to the punch and gets to say I told you so after years of warning that a major would not finish on Sunday. Steve Elling looks at Tiger's epic year in the majors and reports on the 14 players who made the cut in all four majors.
George Kimball in the Boston Herald writes about Steve Elkington's sunday shirt reminiscent of his 1995 final day garb and the backdrop on Larry King's set. Sally Jenkins writes about the ugly play on Sunday at Baltusrol.
Here's a Reuters story on Mickelson's request to move Sunday times up.
David Whitley in the Orlando Sentinel blasts the PGA and likens Sunday refusal to move times up to the infamous "Heidi" episode at NBC. Michael Hiestand in the USA Today picks up where Rudy Martzke left off...writing press releases for the networks.
Selena Roberts in the New York Times (reg. required) writes about flogging at Baltusrol and quotes yours truly on the subject.
Somehow golf has gotten to the point where inaccuracy isn't punitive because distance is so highly rewarded. A 330-yard drive into the rough, plus a wedge to the green, is far more attractive to a player than a 280-yard poke and a 5-iron to the pin.Of course we know golfers aren't on steroids, but still, Roberts brings up the point many of us are wondering. How long before such substances do become a part of the new look power game?
But is might always right? There is an aberration on the leader board in Steve Elkington, who was in a tie with Thomas Bjorn for second place when the storms blew across Baltusrol last night. Elkington is the amiable Aussie with a caddie nicknamed Gypsy and a driving distance that ranks him 132nd on the PGA Tour. But his fairway accuracy is No. 14 at Baltusrol. He is not an equipment aficionado like Mickelson and Love or an all-consumed workout fiend like Woods and Singh.
"I couldn't be like Vijay," Elkington told Australian reporters last week. "I admire what he does, but I bet he doesn't even know where the light switches are at home."
In other words, Elkington has a life. But he occupied the space among the leaders as an anomaly. More and more, players like Woods, Mickelson, Singh and Love overpower their errors to find success. "I don't blame them," said Geoff Shackelford, author of "The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back," when reached by telephone yesterday. "Over the course of four rounds, it's a wise thing to do. Power is more important."
It has become an obsession. It's all about the equipment and computer analysis, the balls and the Launch Monitor, which, in essence, is a time-lapse X-ray of a swing to determine factors like ball spin and carry distance in order to match a player to the optimum club.
"Players have picked up 30 or 40 yards on their drives using it," Shackelford said.
What else are players using? Power cravings in any sport can lead to boundary pushing of the chemical kind. There is no whisper of a steroid problem inside the P.G.A., but there is also no drug testing. So how does anyone truly know surges in distance are all about technology and not about the designer steroid THG?
Lawrence Donegan's Monday story in The Guardian has some fun notes on the tournament that hasn't ended. Damon Hack in the NY Times provides a diplomatic take on the PGA debacle. Bob Harig at ESPN isn't so kind, but also isn't has brutal as he could have been. Dave Anderson sums the whole mess up as only a Pulitzer winner can.
Just to not overdo the PGA stuff, Richard Oliver in the San Antonio Express-News writes about how the Texas Open may be impacted by the new Tour television contract. Eh, okay, back to the PGA. What was I thinking?
All of the transcripts for the week are here. Here's Tiger Woods. And Steve Elkington. And Phil Mickelson's press conference, though I couldn't seem to find the part where he was asked about the starting time call. Am I delusional?