Friday, November 30, 2007

Q-SCHOOL: Clarification...

In response to something a friend of mine who knows nothing about golf asked -- No, Q-School is not where Q from James Bond went to get his training in gadgets. Back to our coverage...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Q-SCHOOL: Day 2


Well, last night I wrote that Frank Lickliter wasn't going away but that I wasn't sure he could repeat that opening-round 62 every day. Well he's repeated it at least once, shooting another 62 to put him NINE shots ahead after just two rounds of Q-School.

No one on the Tour this year came close to having that big a lead after two rounds. Alright, I don't know for sure this is true since that would require energy to look it up, so let's assume it is unless someone wants to check for me. Just for reference, when Tiger won the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble by a record-setting 15 shots, he was only up six after two rounds. Of course Frank Lickliter isn't Tiger Woods. But maybe he looked more like Tiger back when he had hair...




Nope.


Other notes:

**Tommy Gainey holding strong, T7th after a 68 today. They say if you can handle the stress of the Big Break, you can handle Q-School. Alright, no one said that but let's hope Gainey believes it.

**Biggest Move of the Day: Alejando Canizares, it's okay, I hadn't heard of him either, who followed his even par 72 yesterday with a 62 today that moved him from 92nd to 4th. He was 7 under through his first 10 holes.

**Battle of the Duffs Update: DUFFy Waldorf pulled away from Jason DUFFner today as Waldorf shot -3 while Jason is sitting in last place after a 75/76 to put him at 7 over.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Q-SCHOOL: Day 1

A few quick notes about the scores coming out of Florida after the 1st round at Q-School.

**Frank Lickliter II leading the pack with a sweet little 62. That included 6 straight birds on the front en route to a 30. Not sure he can repeat that every day, but the guy visited the troops in Iraq earlier this year -- I don't think he's scared of Q-School.



**Tommy Gainey, former contestant on The Golf Channel's "Big Break", is tied for 7th after a 67. Not surprised? The guy wears a golf glove on his left hand. And his right hand. I'd love to see a proper gent like Davis Love get paired with him next season.


**Carlos Franco T15th with an opening 68. Six rounds in six days may be too much for Franco, who famously doesn't hit range balls because in his words, "I no like."


**Guy I'm most surprised to see had to go back to Q-School: Kenny Ferrie. The guy was paired with Mickelson in the final group at Winged Foot in '06. Poor chap not only has to erase the memories of his own awful 78 that day but has to forget about Phil's too.




**Greg Owen, T28th at -3. Man, the guy just makes a 4-footer on #17 at Bay Hill in '06 and he doesn't have to be here this week.


**Hunter Haas: T41 at -2. It wouldn't be Q-School unless one of Jay Haas's sons was playing.


**Chris Riley: T92 at Even. He always gains energy as the week goes on. Right? Chris, wake up.


**Colt Knost: +3, T152. Won both the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Public Links this year, earning him an invite to Augusta AND the U.S. Open... until he decided to go pro this fall at which point they were no longer valid. I'm already feeling queasy and it's only Wednesday.

Q-SCHOOL: Sick Bag Located in Seat Pocket in Front of You

Q-School is my kind of tournament. PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem can have his FedEx Cup with its $10 million dollar payout, but those stakes don't come anywhere near what's happening this week down in Florida. 164 guys playing six rounds for 25 spots on the 2008 Tour. If you thought Mickelson choking on #18 at Winged Foot in 2006 was hard to watch, stay away from the Golf Channel this Monday.

Just imagine how nervous you get when you've got a 4-footer on 18 to break 80. Now imagine that instead of that putt being for 79, it's for the world's greatest job, for a way out of debt, for the respect of family and friends who, just like you, have secretly been wondering if you really are good enough.


The FedEx Cup is about a pot of gold. This is about something even more precious: hope.


Stay tuned -- if you can stomach it...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Couples Quote...

Not sure how many people caught this one during Sunday's Skins Game coverage, but I went back twice to make sure I heard Couples right. After he won $250,000 with a birdie on #10, Judy Rankin asked him about his charity (California Wildfire Victims) that would be taking 20% and in classic Freddie fashion, he said... "If it can help a lot of people, that's great. And if it can only help a few, even better." Well said. Wait, what?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ames Wins Again, Skins Game Removed From 2008 Schedule

The Skins Game was canceled Sunday afternoon just moments after defending champion Stephen Ames rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt, won $675,000 and by Skins Game rules guaranteed himself a spot in next year's event.

"I think we all agree the time has come to say goodbye to the Skins Game forever, " a spokesman for the tournament announced as Ames' putt came to rest in the bottom of the cup. While he insisted nothing has been decided, the spokesman did say they'll likely be replacing the Thanksgiving staple with another "exciting event" that will feature "top golfers like Fred Couples" playing for "large sums of money in the greater Palm Springs area." When a reporter suggested this in fact sounded exactly like the Skins Game, the spokesman said it would be different because Stephen Ames won't be there.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

SKINS GAME DAY 1: Couples calls LG's Tee Markers "Worst Idea Ever"

A relatively unexciting Day 1 of the LG Skins Game is becoming more interesting by the second as news has leaked that "King of Skins" Fred Couples is refusing to play tomorrow's back nine unless event sponsor LG agrees to remove the six-foot tall refrigerators they're using as tee markers. "It's stupid on about every level," he said about the fridges after finishing the day with three skins and $75,000.

Couples' problem with the tee markers began on the third whole when one of them began dropping ice in his backswing. Things got worse on the sixth when he nearly hit one on his follow-through, something that would likely have re-injured his famously fragile back.
But it wasn't just the players who were annoyed by them. Throughout the day cameramen found themsleves unable to get unobstructed shots of the players while fans, many of whom had waited hours to watch big hitters like Couples or Brett Wetterich tee off, came away having seen nothing.

While a spokesman for LG said they will likely spread the fridges further apart on Sunday, they're as of now refusing to remove them, saying that each of the high-end fridge's built-in TV's were tuned to the Skins Game so that "those who couldn't see the golfers in person should still have been able to watch them on one of our clear, crisp state of the art 15" screens."
Developing...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Silly Season: SKINS GAME Preview (part II)

Time to handicap the field for this weekend's LG Skins Game -- which is tricky when one of the players is almost literally handicapped these days with a bad back. Here are the latest odds from the sportsbetting world...

Stephen Ames: 9-4

Zach Johnson: 9-4

Brett Wetterich: 11-4

Fred Couples 7-2

And since we're on the subject, here are some of other things we'd like to be able to bet on...

Brett Wetterich wearing his sunglasses during the event: 200-1 (see post below)

Stephen Ames getting deported by INS: 300-1

Total TV viewership topping a million: 400-1

Couples still winning despite playing from a gurney: 3-1

LG floating refrigerators in the lakes on the par 3's: Even money






Friday, November 16, 2007

Silly Season: SKINS GAME Preview (part I)

In case you missed it, my article about Silly Season for ESPN.com can be found here.

But I wanted to get a jump start on Skins Game coverage with one quick thing I just read and remain baffled by.

See that pair of sunglasses on top of Brett Wetterich's hat?

Apparently he never actually wears them. His explanation is that he put them up there before playing one time and it became a habit.

Huh?

This makes him either the most superstitious golfer in the world or those shades are actually small solar panels that are illegally heating the golf balls in his pocket. Hey, all I'm saying is the technology's there -- just check out this fashionable little thing you can get online for $30.

Bottom line is I'm on to you Wetterich. You can run but you can't hide. Especially when you're not wearing sunglasses.

The Day Good Tempo Died...

Former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Rick Rhoden has finished first at the Champions Tour Qualifying School. For Rhoden this means he now qualifies for non-invitational Champions Tour tournaments.

For me this means I can no longer watch non-invitational Champions Tour tournaments.

I've said it before but Rhoden's swing makes me physically uncomfortable. My grandfather would have called it "herky-jerky." That's generous. The truth is, had Rhoden not qualified for the 50 and over Tour, I'm convinced he could have made a fine living hitting golf balls off a mat down in Guantanamo Bay to get Al Qaeda prisoners to talk.

I've included a picture of his follow-through (above) but it's likely been doctored. I'm sure there are more offensive shots to be had, I just didn't have the courage to take my google filter off "safe search" and find one.

But congratulations, Rick. You're probably out celebrating right now. Just know that when you fall asleep, I'll still be awake, partly out of fear of seeing your downswing in my dreams, but mostly wondering why you can shoot 69 and I can't even come close.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Countdown to L.A. Country Club: 7 Days


There's only a few big moments in a man's life. His wedding day, holding his first born and the day he gets to play the most exclusive country club in his hometown. For me this is L.A. Country Club, a course that when supposedly asked by the USGA if they'd be interested in hosting a U.S. Open, replied by saying, "However you got this number, lose it." For all I know even telling someone I'm going to play it jeopardizes my chance to do so. How intimidating is this place? See this crest? It's not even the real LA Country Club logo. I was too scared to include it for fear my invite will disappear. In fact I should just stop talking. But if anyone has any good stories about the most exclusive club they've ever played, I'd love to hear them.

Hip Hip Hooray! I'm back!


Sure, Ian, that's worth drinking to (though I'm not sure the guy needs a lot of encouragement).


For all those who sent flowers, thank you, but no, I'm not dead. I wrote for the Half Hour News Hour for two months before it was canceled, then my wife had a baby girl a month ago, then I pitched a pilot with Conan O'Brien's production company to Fox and ABC and last and definitely least the Writers' Guild went on strike so I've been putting my time in picketing four hours a day. Imagine walking 18 holes except you never stop to talk, go to the bathroom or play golf.


Now that we're all caught up, you guys should know I didn't return empty-handed. I just wrote a column for espn.com. When it gets up, I'll link to it HERE. I met Jason Sobel, the site's golf editor, via this blog and hope to continue to write things for them in the future barring this first piece completely exposing my lack of talent.


Alright, I think we've got all the administrative stuff out of way, time to get back to what really matters on this site -- golf!