I spent an enjoyable few hours walking the back nine with Geoff Ogilvy, Luke Donald and Sean O'Hair. All three are impressive ball strikers. Donald's swing is particularly graceful and he is still aided by his Northwestern coach, Pat Goss, who was in town to check up on his pupil.
Ogilvy has plenty of interesting things to say about the state of the Tour. I finally found someone who agrees that the Tour's course setup philosophy leaves a lot to be desired. I know you all were worried. Elsewhere...
- The greens actually are not nearly as good as they were last year. Tee to fringe, Riviera has never been better, but apparently the lack of rain and a late fall aerification set the greens back a bit. They are certainly fine, especially compared to 10 years ago.
- I sat in on J.B. Holmes' press conference, which included some great questions from the scribblers (well, Steve Elling did most of the dirty work):
Q. Are you a weights and/or conditioning guy?But don't forget, it's the athleticism and working out!
J.B. HOLMES: Not really.
Q. I'm guessing not really.
J.B. HOLMES: No, not really. I ride the bike a little bit or whatever. I'm not really big on the weights and stuff. I probably need to do a little more running or biking or something like that. I'm strong enough, I really don't need to hit the weights.
Q. John, with the way that you have been piping it out there the last few years, now that you are out here with the big boys, and blowing it passed all of them, there has been sort of a negative side to it to, people are saying he hits it too far, they need to rein that in. What's your response to all of that? You can become the poster boy for the USGA making rules changes.Get this young man some talking points!
J.B. HOLMES: I mean if they knock it back 20 yards, I'm still 50 yards ahead of the guy. So I don't see any point of changing. Everybody says that golf is changing. It's a new sport, the distance, everything like that. I really don't believe that truly. Look at all of the great players; Palmer, Woods, because he was hitting it past everybody. Nicklaus hit it a long ways. So technology made the distances further, but it seems like all of the great players that you see back in history, they hit it passed everybody. Even Tiger, Tiger hits it past everybody. So technology is making the distances further. But I mean the courses are getting longer too, so I really don't think that it's changed the game that much.
Q. You don't think there has been a lessening of the skill factor because you only have to hit your 3iron, 4iron, 5iron a couple of times per tournament? It's mostly a wedge, 9iron. These are some of the points that have been raised. You are just overwhelming golf courses?
J.B. HOLMES: You know, they are starting to make them longer. I can see the distances, some of the advantages on some of the courses. Like they said, say they do dial the ball back 20 yards back, instead of hitting a wedge, I'm hitting a 9iron or 8iron. The people that are hitting 6iron or 7iron, now they're hitting 4iron and 3iron.
I'll take anybody with my 8iron or 9iron when they're hitting 3iron and 4iron. I almost think that will be a bigger advantage because you can hit a 7iron and 6iron close. It's hard to dial in a 4iron and a 3iron.
Q. J.B., you said that you're not much of a weights guy, but I'm curious if that's the case, do you think there is even more distance out there for you if you really got on a program, could you add 10 or 15 yards to what you already have?
J.B. HOLMES: I don't know, maybe. There is not really any sense of it. I think I hit it far enough. If you get into the weights it can change your swing, if you got too big something like that. All in all I got real strong legs, quick hips, pretty strong upper body and big forearms. So I don't think there is really any need of me getting stronger.
I can see riding a bike, something like that, doing a little more conditioning, maybe strengthen my core a little more. But as of weightlifting just to get stronger, I could. I don't think it will do anything. It might, it might not. I might get stronger with the weight and tighten up a little bit and hit it shorter, you know.