Week In Review, March 26-April 1: The Bivens Brand

WeekInReview2.jpgAnother weird week in golf, kicked off by the Sabbatini-Faldo feud and debut of Amy Sabbatini's Spring Collection t's for Tour wives. Faldo took the early lead for 2006's funniest quote in response to Amy's "Keep Up" t-shirt.

Besides the painful fifth major debate, The Players Championship brought attention to the concept of rough and whether it works at all, especially on courses not intended to have tall grass lining the fairways (hint: no well-designed course uses rough as a design ploy). The TPC mess prompted reader Carl to write, "lets face it, the golf ball has taken all of the imagination out of the game, and has taken the imagination out of golf course design. The high quality of different shot selections and the high quality of course design is bending over backwards to accomedate a golf ball."

Tom Kite's comments in Golfweek's Forecaddie prompted the debut of The List, which is a look at recent statements from well known figures in golf on the distance issue.

MacDuff provided us another updated look at a mythical FedEx Cup points race. It's becoming clear that someone like Vijay will win it by playing often and playing well. MacDuff suggest that the Tour consider "putting a cap on the number of events to score, but not weighting upward for those that play fewer events. Base it on your top 20 performances of the year, and winner take all."

Martin Kaufman blasted the Ohio Golf Association's retro ball invitational, prompting reader Hannibal Smith to ask "Why don't they let one of the more talented writers like Brad Klein or John Steinbreder who are more traditional when it comes to the ball issue write an opposing viewpoint?"

And Smolmania noted, "The best players want the ball reigned in, so that talent will prevail over athleticism. Us bunters want it reigned in so that the game played at the highest levels isn't simply irrelevant to the game we play. The only people who don't want these changes are the manufacturers, and people who don't have a clue. . . in my patently 'unbalanced' opinion."

After watching players struggle out of the TPC Sawgrass' rough-on-steroids, I floated the possibility of a player getting seriously injured by such a harvest. That prompted reader RM to question my sanity: "Your imagination is running wild today. Must be Bellsouth week."

Ned Ludd made me feel a lot better by not completely shooting down the possibility: "There are two parts to every lawsuit: liability and damages. Assuming a player like Woods could prove liability ( as in the Tour created a foreseeable risk of injury by implementing such rough ), and that he could survive an incurred risk defense (that he willingly and voluntarily took the swing knowing the probability of injury), IMAGINE the number his lawyers would blackboard and that a jury could award with respect to his damages, especially if the injury had any permanency to it. Even the South Park 'Chewbacca' defense would not carry the day."

Andrew Both wrote this week about the Tour's astounding pension projections. Reader Carl responded that it's "quite interesting that the Tour would be rolling out the big numbers again with regard to retirement, especially with players like Sean [Murphy] questioning the whole process."

Ryan Ballengee chipped away at Tim Finchem's eye-opening new 6-year, $27 million deal. Reader Brett noted, "Now we know why Greg Norman is asking for the minutes to every meeting. There is a lack of accountability involved here. Who is making all the decisions on the Fed Ex Cup? I've read where Paul Azinger said that the membership to his knowledge had never been asked for any input. That would mean that the Commissioner is making all the decisions. Scott are the players working for Commissioner Finchem or is Commissioner Finchem working for the players?"

Reader RThompson wondered, "Is it just the handpicked independents that are setting (staging) Commissioners Finchems contract, salary and benefits, or do the 4 player directors on the 9 member policy board have a say in the Commissioners agreements. If it is only the independents, and Commissioner Finchem has hand picked them, then this would basically be justified as self-dealing."

Golf World's "Big Bang" story on flogging and working-out prompted an interesting discussion on shotmaking between JohnV, Sean Murphy, J.P., Steven T. and Smolmania.

The Australian Open will now be headed by Paul McNamee, who made some Bivens-like comments in his first interview with The Age. But as reader Hux noted, "have a talk with Mike Clayton before judging McNamee. Mike has been pushing for this appointment for years, which is good enough for me. Give him a chance."  Alright, alright, I can't argue with that!

Bill Huffman wrote about a recent speech given by Jim Vernon, another encouraging sign that the USGA is laying the groundwork for doing something about regulating distance.

And finally, LPGA ommissioner Carolyn Bivens' first major and the ensuing coverage has not been pretty.

Doug Ferguson looked at an LPGA major and wasn't impressed. Reader Scott Stearns noted, "you know its a major when you see members hitting balls on the practice tee right next to the players."

Leonard Shapiro of the Washington Post and Peter Yoon of the LA Times devoted significant space to evaluating the Bivens era.  Frank Hannigan weighed in too.

Bivens talked to the media and it wasn't pretty. Her April Fool's Day-worthy comments, while entertaining, also means that there are ramifications for the emerging LPGA Tour. Reader Pete the Luddite noted: "she is singlehandedly setting back the development of the game, women's golf, and dare I say feminism in general with this powderpuff approach."

Augusta here we come...