Tuesday, February 26, 2008

MATCH PLAY AFTERMATH: Vegas Resets Tiger Grand Slam Odds...

Before the PGA season started, Vegas had the odds of Tiger to win the Grand Slam at 25-1. Amazingly low considering it hasn't been done in 78 years. And when Bobby Jones did it by winning the two Opens and Amateurs in 1930, Augusta National hadn't even been built yet.


After Tiger won the Buick, that number had dropped to 18-1.


A friend was in Vegas this weekend and called me from the Bellagio sportsbook. The current odds on Tiger winning the Grand Slam... this isn't a joke -- 11-2.

ELEVEN to TWO! For those who aren't gamblers or are just bad at math, that's roughly 5-1. Or let's put it this way, Vegas is saying that there's a much better chance of Tiger winning the Grand Slam than of you flipping a quarter and having it end up heads three times in a row.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

RATINGS DREAM!!!: Cink Bows Out, Tiger To Face Himself In Match Play Championship

A big Sunday on NBC Sports just got better when it was announced late Saturday that instead of facing Stewart Cink in the Championship match of the Accenture Match Play, Tiger will be playing himself.

"We've been trying to figure out how to do this for years, but in truth the technology just wasn't there," said an excited PGA Commissioner Tim Finchem. "But finally, thanks to the hard work of scientists working tirelessly in a laboratory buried deep beneath the 17th green at TPC Sawgrass, that day is here."

Finchem would not give too many details on how it was done, but said the technology involves "a combination of mirrors and stop-motion photography... and time travel/human cloning."

Should Tiger win, it will be his 63rd PGA victory.

Friday, February 22, 2008

ACCENTURE MATCH PLAY, DAY 3: Bob Goes In Style...

That extra ticket I gave away yesterday ended up going to my new friend James from Tucson. Not only does he drive a town car for a living, but he insisted on picking me up in it and taking me to the course.

The fact you're reading this means I haven't gone missing somewhere in the deserts of Arizona.

Tiger was amazing, winning in a 20-hole match in which he had 12 birdies and Aaron Baddeley had 10. It was unreal and exhausting, especially since we ran most of the round (and since James is a smoker, this nearly killed him.)

Among the dozens of hysterical highlights was this exchange between a dad and his exhausted, whiny son on the 19th hole of the match:

Son: "I don't want a playoff..."
Dad: "Then go home. Walk."

He stayed and witnessed Tiger make history... again.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

FREE TICKET For Friday's Match Play...

Live within 8 hours of Tucson and want to tail Tiger with me for the day?
I've got an extra ticket and don't feel right about scalping it...

Just two rules:
1) Once Tiger tees off, we're not following any other groups.
2) You've got to keep up. No bathroom breaks, no long beer lines, no "my feet hurt." Tiger doesn't complain, you can't either! (Alright, he sometimes complains...)

First come, first serve... drop me a line!

BREAKING!! -- CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST TIGER WOODS

Fore Right has obtained the following document in conjunction with a class action lawsuit filed against World #1 Golfer Tiger Woods in Florida Superior Court Wednesday evening. The suit can be seen and enlarged BELOW. No comment yet from the Woods camp or how this will affect his efforts at the Accenture Match Play...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Northern Trust CEO Admits He Doesn't Know What His Company Does

During Saturday's 3rd Round coverage of the Northern Trust Open, CEO Rick Waddell revealed that, like most Americans, he too has no idea what Northern Trust is. "Good question," Waddell said when asked about his company by CBS' Jim Nantz. After a long pause, he added: "All I know is we're the best." When Nantz kept pressing, Waddell said there's an anchor on their logo, which makes him think they might be in shipping. "Either that or we sell actual anchors, but that seems too obvious," he added.


The company's website says Northern Trust is "a premier provider of banking, asset management and asset servicing to affluent families and individuals and leading institutions," which explains why after making a hole-in-one on Riviera's 6th hole Saturday, Jeff Quinney was awarded a Qualified Terminable Interest Trust.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Tucson, We Have A Problem...

A few weeks back I posted all the cities I'd be traveling to this year, asked to borrow a COUCH and promised I wasn't weird. Unbelievably this didn't scare off quite everyone and I'm off to a good start with some leads on various events and a place lined up near Miami with a reader and his fiance in Fort Lauderdale who likewise insist they're "not creepy." Yes, I took candy from strangers as a kid.

But as I get set to go to Tucson on Tuesday for the Accenture Match Play, I couldn't believe I was coming up empty till I realized I never included Tucson in my original post.


I was starting to romanticize the trip, imagining myself sitting out in the desert singing to the wild animals like in Three Amigos when my wife brought me back to reality:"You're not sleeping outside."


All this to say -- anyone have a couch, heck, a floor in or near Tucson? I'll make it worth your wild. Great, now I sound creepy.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

L.A. OPEN, DAY ONE: A Morning With Rory and Phil

Is there a better course in L.A. than Hogan's Alley? I've never actually managed to find someone who's willing to invite me to play Riviera, but I have played L.A. Country Club North, the only place Golf Digest ranks above it, but to me it's no contest. And so it's always a pleasure when the Tour arrives and I know I can drive just 10 minutes west of the terrifying 405 freeway and find myself walking a true gem.

Besides, I've been spending a lot of time lately following Mr. Woods, so it was was a nice change of pace to go to an event and not have an agenda. Here's the highlights of my day...

6:35AM -- With Nissan out as the title sponsor and Northern Trust in, the old entryway tents that used to be lined with cars are now lined with... nothing. Just a long wooden reception area that feels like the a hotel lobby but instead of giving out rooms, they're selling tickets. Is it a problem that I spent 6 hours at the Northern Trust Open and still have no idea what Northern Trust is or what they sell?

6:45 -- I head to the 10th hole, the most interesting on the course. At just 315 yards, the par 4 is too tempting for most players to not go for it. But the green is so narrow and well-protected, not to mention fast, that really whether you're 50 yards out or just 5, any number from 2 to 6 are in play here.

6:55 -- I meet four of the marshals on the hole, all part of the same men's club half an hour away in Alhambra. Their club has supplied the marshals to the famed 10th for the last 30 YEARS and they're not giving it up. When Kevin Na from the first group of the day yanks his drive left near the cart path, marshal Gordon Johnson, who's been here for 15 straight, sees one of his friends at work and nods, "they're pulling up poles already..."

With most players hitting driver into this tight green, Gordon and company may be the busiest guys on the course this week.

7:02 -- True to form, all 3 guys in the opening group are within 50 yards of the hole and no one can make a birdie.

7:10 -- The 2nd group comes through which includes Bubba Watson, who hits it hole high just 15 yards from the hole. Birdie looks to be a given. He makes a 5.

7:37 -- When the group of Phil Mickelson, Rory Sabbatini and Hunter Mahan come through, I've found my group for the day. Believe it or not, I've never really followed Mickelson and am curious how it compares to Tiger's throng. Plus are there two personalities on Tour more different than Rory and Phil?

8:30 -- As Phil studies a par putt on the 13th green, a couple in their 40's are busy making out. Yes, I'm serious. If it wasn't Valentine's Day, I would have asked them, for the love of God, please stop.

8:42 -- Phil approaches the 14th green, a par 3, where his shot has missed wide right. He nods to the gallery as if we're all applauding his arrival. No one is. It's awkward.

9:40 -- On the 18th tee (their ninth hole for the day), Rory hits a terrible drive. He calls it a "block, sweep, floater" as he angrily gives the driver back to his caddy. The ball hits a tree on the right side of the long uphill par 4 and ends up just halfway up the steep hill that every other player so far has blown. It's the worst shot I'll see all day. Easily.

9:44 -- Rory has arrived at his ball and is... disgruntled. Rather than hack it back into the fairway, Rory decides to hit it up and over the remaining trees on the right, hoping to end up somewhere near the tee box on the 3rd hole. A cameraman is in his line and Rory's caddy nicely asks the guy to move. As he starts moving, his caddy says, "keep going, keep going..." Rory cuts to the chase and, unfortunately, says what he's thinking: "Just go away."

10:35 -- How are Rory and Phil's approach to a round different? Not only has Phil chatted up every player in his group, he has also had long conversations with every caddy in the group. By the time they get to their 12th hole of the day, Phil has no qualms about throwing his ball to RORY'S CADDY so he can wash it for him. See what a little kindness gets you? Rory on the other hand hasn't said a word to anyone other than his caddy for an hour.

11:41 -- Two deer run down the ditch that splits the 8th fairway. It's majestic for a moment, but there's one problem -- Phil and his caddy Bones are currently standing in the middle of the ditch. As the deer come prancing through, Phil smiles, then realizes he's in their path and starts to slink behind his bag and behind Bones. The deer must be Phil fans, they run out of the ditch and keep going down the left side of the fairway.

12:06 -- Phil and Rory (and Mahan) have arrived at their last hole, the 9th. It's a long par 4 and the pin is back left. And unfortunately for Rory, he's on the green but front and right. The only way to get close to the pin is by using a wedge. As Rory takes practice swings with it, the guy next to me says, "They've got to feel bad about taking a divot..." I turn to him and say, "Rory doesn't feel bad about anything." Rory swings and takes a huge chunk out of the green, hitting it to a couple feet for a great par but a bad +1 round of 72.

And to his credit, he replaces his divot.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My WGA Strike Timeline...

The WGA Strike is officially over. Which for me means, alright, nothing. But for friends who are working on shows, tomorrow it's back to work. This post is not totally golf centric, but I figured I'd at least share a few highlights and lowlights from the past four months...

November 5th, 2007

8:00AM -- The strike begins and thousands of us hit the picket lines. And by "us", I don't mean me. I, embarrassingly, had already committed to playing in a charity golf tournament that day. I might have not felt so guilty about it, but we shoot a scramble score of 67 to not even sniff 4th place.


November 6th, 2007

11:30AM -- While driving to CBS-Radford Studios, the place I worked for over 3 years, I call another writer who had picketed the required 4 hours the day before to see if he has any advice. He says he's so exhausted from one day of picketing that he has already called the WGA and asked, "Is there anything else I can do?" I make fun of him for being a complete wimp.


2:02PM -- Barely halfway done with my shift and I can barely walk. I've already switched from the heavier "Writers Guild on Strike" white sign to the much lighter "Writers Guild of America" red sign. You want me to chant? Forget about it. I ask someone if it's too early to cave to the studios demands. It's amazing, about half the time I play golf, I walk and carry my bag over my shoulder. There's no rational medical explanation, but walking in a circle for the same amount of time is much, much harder.


There and then I decide -- I must find something else to do.


November 7th, 2007

After exchanging emails with ESPN's golf editor Jason Sobel earlier in the year, I drop him another line and ask if with this strike thing there's any chance I could write a piece or two for their site. For some still inexplicable reason, he says sure. Even more amazing, despite ESPN being owned by Disney (one of the companies we're striking against), the Writers Guild gives me their blessing. I hang up before they can change their mind.


November 9th, 2007

Today is the first and biggest rally of the strike. It's truly an amazing turnout -- from writer friends who are barely able to pay their rent to giants in the field like Cameron Crowe. The march ends up shutting down one of LA's main arteries. But before the road is closed, a car drives by and honks support. A friend of mine yells out, facetiously, "We're winning!"


November 10th, 2007 -- January 17th, 2008

We're not winning.


January 22nd, 2008

Negotiations resume after the Directors Guild signs their new deal and the studios inform the WGA we can use that as a platform for our new contract.


January 27th, 2008

Tiger Woods wins the Buick Invitational by eight shots. 2008 might not be so bad after all.


February 9th, 2008

At a big meeting near downtown, the WGA discusses the specifics of the deal they have worked out with the studios. While they've made advances in residual payments for online downloads, they fail to address why Delta Airlines was airing an episode I wrote during my flight to Dubai and I don't get anything for it. Heck, it actually cost me money since they were charging $2 for the headphones to watch it. And yes, I'm a loser, I watched it.


February 12th, 2008

92.5% of the members vote to end the strike. I of course forget to vote because I'm hitting balls at the driving range at the time, a fact that makes me think that, at least for 2008, my heart and my mind are clearly more focused on golf, not TV.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Back From Dubai...

See, I wasn't lying. Here I am with Rashid, my taxi driver for most of the trip. For three days I thought he was like 6'2" until he got out of the car on the last day to take this picture with me.


Biggest Highlight: Watching Tiger shoot-6 on the back nine Sunday to win by 1.


Biggest Mistake: Thinking shorts and a short-sleeve shirt was enough clothes during a winter sandstorm.


Second Biggest Mistake: Eating at a KFC in Dubai.
Overall, an amazing trip. Can't wait to sit down and really write about it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

16th at FBR Admits Problem, Gets Help

After what insiders are calling "an ugly, 4-day binge," the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale checked itself into a Phoenix-area rehabilitation clinic on Tuesday.


Workers arrived at the 16th on Monday after the FBR Open and discovered the hole without its bleachers and covered in a layer of beer, vomit and fertilizer. Head greenskeeper Tim Keever admitted it wasn't the first time he'd seen the hole like this. "We all knew knew she had a problem. But in the end we figured she was just having fun and wasn't hurting anybody. Truth is she was hurting someone. Herself."


Evidence of just that comes from insiders familiar with the hole who say that in 1987 when TPC Scottsdale opened, the 16th was the most beautiful place on the course, but after years of abuse the grass around it had turned dry, patchy and brown. Ryuji Imada played it early Thursday and said it wasn't so much the look of the 16th that bothered him, it was the smell. "It was sort of a... frat celler meets rundown nursing home kind of stink." Imada was so disturbed by it that he bogeyed the 18th to shoot an opening-round 75 and withdrew.


The rehab center, known as the Green Horizons Spa, is located in a quiet neighborhood ten miles southwest of TPC Scottsdale and has treated other famous holes like the 17th at The Players Course, the 7th at Pebble Beach and, though the members vigorously deny it, all of Augusta National's Amen Corner.