Wednesday, May 28, 2008
"Playing out of the trees gives me the ideal angle to attack the hole, and now apparently I'm not allowed to do that." The 444-yard dogleg right par-4 is routinely ranked one of the hardest on the course. Upon first seeing the tarps, Mickelson was visibly upset (right), and spent fifteen minutes discussing other options with longtime caddy Bones MacKay before finally deciding they had no other choice but to aim for the fairway. "I mean, I'll make it work, apparently I have no choice. But if I lose this tournament this week because I was forced to play a clear shot where the target wasn't at all obstructed, then yeah, I'll probably be pretty angry."
Nicklaus did not comment on the tarps, but is known for trying different things to keep scores down, most recently using modified rakes to create deep furrowed bunkers.
Monday, May 26, 2008
*Also thanks to Google Maps, I now understand why I heard the occasional train blast throughout the week. This is just on the other side of Trinity River from the course. You must click for the larger version to see just how huge this is. Funny how the blimp didn't give the world's biggest train depot a ton of airtime...
*A random highlight for me was when Ian Baker-Finch interviewed the Crown Plaza exec who said how he and everyone else felt like there was something special in the air this week but they couldn't put their finger on it. Really? No idea what it might be? Let me take a stab at this one for you -- perhaps it's that the #2 player in the world is playing in your event for the first time in 3 years and is in contention to win? I don't know, just throwing that out there...
*It's a cliche for me to mention it, but it is cool for the Tour to keep playing a short, tight, classic course like Colonial that favors shorter shotmakers over bombers. Course that didn't stop a bomber from ultimately winning by bombing and gouging his way to victory.
*Finally, hats off to Jason Sobel at ESPN.com for his good tip on Pampling being one to watch this week:
"Though he's missed a curious number of cuts already this season, Pampling has finished 12th or better in each of the past three editions of the Colonial. I'm guessing he comes a lot closer to the T-8 he achieved at the Wachovia than the missed cut he took the next week at the Players."
Nice call, but I just couldn't justify picking a guy for my fantasy team who, best I can tell, is like Brett Wetterich and wears sunglasses on his head for an entire round with no intention of ever actually wearing them.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Other revealing questions and answers on the survey:
How much do you really like Titleist Pro V-1's?
47% -- Okay, I guess.
31% -- What is not to like, Titleist is the number one ball in golf... (said robotically)
13% -- My lawyer has instructed me to respectfully decline to answer.
9% -- If I switch to Callaways, Phil will never let me hear the end of it.
If you could change one rule in golf, what would it be?
81% -- Making it legal to fix spike marks.
9% -- All players besides me should be required to play wearing blindfolds.
7% -- Legal to hit caddy in public when he gives bad yardage.
3% -- Cheating should not be illegal, just frowned upon.
How far do you really hit a 6-iron?
62%--Not sure. I hit my driver so far that I never need to use it.
23% -- 190 yards, but my 6-iron is really my old 4-iron with a "6" stamped on the bottom.
15% -- 155, tops. Wait, what did everyone else say?
What's the best thing about being a PGA Tour pro?
34% -- The money
23% -- The courtesy cars
18% -- Free range balls
16% -- Free tees
9% -- Telling friends you know Tiger Woods even though you really don't
Monday, May 19, 2008
So far this year, Wilson has played in the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, the ATT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the Mayakoba Classic and spent this past weekend playing in the Nationwide Tour's BMW Charity Pro-Am.
Wilson was quick to respond to the charges, pointing out that the film Henry Poole Is Here, in which he plays the title role, is scheduled for a limited August release. The USGA hit back, saying "if independent art house films made you a legitimate celebrity, we'd all know who Miranda July is. Who? Exactly." In response the USGA is asking Wilson to either stop accepting pro-am invitations or start accepting acting roles, going so far as to say they would even be okay with a guest role on Criminal Minds or "that show with Charlie Sheen."
The Screen Actors Guild has also gotten involved, worried that Wilson has developed an unhealthy addiction to the game that is making him pass on leading roles which in turn equals less income from which they can collect dues. Said SAG President Alan Rosenberg, "We get Pebble Beach and I guess the Bob Hope, but when he showed up on the Nationwide Tour this week, it was obviously a cry for help."
Wilson's agent says his client is upset over the controversy, specifically with whether this will affect his tentative plans to play in July's American Century Celebrity Golf Tournament in Lake Tahoe.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Saturday, May 17, 2008
The first step will be about erasing those negative images and replacing them with positive ones. "The best way to do that," Utley believes, "is to help the leaders of Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria remember how much fun their countries used to have together, before things got weird." From there Utley says he'll turn to specific goals: "What do you really want to achieve? How much land is enough land?" Finally, Utley says he's going to have them focus on having them keep their weight on their left side throughout the peace process so they can use their body and not their hands to determine how hard they want to hit their chips.
This is not the first time a golf coach has been used by the UN. This year marks the 22nd anniversary of Jim Flick's role in the successful coup of former Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos.
Friday, May 16, 2008
To be fair, a source has told me that the reason for the WD is officially listed as "injury." That may be true, but it might be a self-inflicted one he gave himself last night in his hotel.
Until I hear that he really was playing injured, I'll remain disappointed in the guy. When you're given a chance to play, you do it and don't give up no matter what. Am I wrong on this one?
Thursday, May 15, 2008
The point isn't to bag on the guy, so let me just say Frank was a 1991 All-American and member of the Walker Cup team. He has three victories on the Nationwide Tour. And last year at this event he finished tied for 30th after a disappointing final-round 74. He's no slouch. But lately, well, it's been rough...
Last month at the Athens Regional Foundation Classic he opened with a 90. The Athens Banner-Herald had the following to say about it:
With the weight of a heavy scorecard on his shoulders, the former Georgia golfer slumped and hung his head on his way out of the scorer's tent behind the ninth hole.
"It was just a bad day, he said. "You don't want to talk to me."The 90 included four bogeys, three doubles, one triple... and a 12 on the par-5 second when he pulled the ball O.B. left three times off the tree. Remember that last part.
Now fast forward to today to TPC Sugarloaf where Langham started on #10, also a par-5. This time Langham hit FOUR balls out of bounds left before getting one in and according to AP, found himself 340 yards out, lying 9. Four more shots from there led to an opening-hole 13. Langham parred the next hole, improving his bounce-back stats, but then went double-bogey, bogey, bogey and tossed in another double on 18 for a back nine score of 50.
I absolutely guarantee you (as someone who recently shot 94) that standing on #1 tee (his 10th hole of the day) the guy had one thought in his head: "Holy crap, am I going to break 100?"
And did he? Langham parred #1 and #2, giving him some breathing room. But then he went triple-bogey, birdie, triple-bogey, double-bogey before a par on #7. Langham now stood +21 with two holes left. He had to play them in +6 to break 100. And there's no way he wasn't thinking about it.
Langham bogeyed #8. All that was left was the par-4 9th. He could make a 9 on it and break 100. Then something either terrible or heaven sent took place -- it started to rain.
Perhaps this is the best time to insert the following quote from Langham himself on mental game guru Gio Valiante's website:
"I believe fear is the number one mental obstacle we face in the game of golf. Whether you are a 100 shooter, a scratch golfer, or a Touring Professional, fear is something we all deal with. For me, it has been an infinite number of 'What if's' due to the fear of never returning to my previous levels of play on the PGA Tour after elbow surgery. Thankfully though, through my work with Gio, I've gained a better understanding of how the mind works so that I am now equipped to overcome that fear. The results is that three months into the season on the Nationwide Tour, I earned enough money to earn an exemption back the PGA Tour. Gio is the greatest!"
Uh... Valiante might want to pull that quote for the time being. As it currently stands, Langham is +22 WITH ONE MORE HOLE TO PLAY FRIDAY morning. The AP article suggests he might not come back for that last hole. I'd like to think he will because 1) he's on a sponsor's exemption and 2) if he doesn't, how does a guy bounce back from a round where effectively he waived the white flag and said, "That's it, golf. You win"?
I didn't know exactly why I always highlight rounds like this but Langham's situation has made me finally stop and come up with an answer. Here's my analysis -- because this thoroughly scares me. I mean it. If players who are that good can lose it that bad, what chance do you or I have to ever play consistently good golf? Why do we do this to ourselves? I'm pretty good at ping pong. I could make the switch and save a lot of money too. Paddles are super easy to travel with. You almost never lose a ball. The bottom line -- at the end of the day, are all of us just playing golf in vain?
On behalf of all you lost and confused golfers out there, let's hope Langham finishes with a birdie. Not for his own well-being, but for ours.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Professor Mark Sandburg was obviously disappointed in Wie's inability to finish. "We love Michelle and what she brought to our class, particularly her insight on the 1861 abolition of serfdom and early Marxism. We all hope she'll be healthy soon." Some of her classmates weren't so generous, suggesting Michelle faked the injury because she wasn't prepared for the surprise question about the Treaty of Pereyaslav. Said one student who chose to remain anonymous, "It's embarrassing that she would take the place of another student who deserved to be here, or at least one would have known the obvious differences between Tsar Alexey I and Feodor III."
This is Michelle's first WD of the year, though as a freshman she was DQ'd from Art 128 by her father B.J. when he discovered the class involved sketching nude models.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
A few other thoughts as things played out:
--At one point it seemed there were as many guys in the hunt playing #12-#15 as there were playing holes #1-#5. But all those guys who got TV time as they attempted to post 1 or 2-under were promptly decimated.
A few that came. And went...
Ben Crane -- bogeys 15 and 18
Dean Wilson -- bogeys 17 and 18
J.B. Holmes -- bogeys 13, doubles 15
Tim Petrovic -- bogeys 16, 17 and 18
Jim Furyk -- triples 17, bogeys 18
--With all the shots that rolled through greens and ended up in or around those round green drain covers, expect Tim Finchem to sell some advertising space on them for next year's event.
--Is Sergio's putting really better?
Today -- absolutely. But heading into Sunday he was in last place in putting for all the players who made the cut. In the end he only finished T39th for the week. Sure, part of that can be attributed to the fact he hit more greens than anyone else, but how about we let the guy have a few more good tourneys before pronouncing him rehabilitated and ready to reenter society.
--Speaking of putting, how long is Bernhard Langer's putter anyway? I mean the thing barely fits under his neck at this point. Factor in the natural shrinking of old age, he may be resting that thing on his forehead before long.
Sorry for the posting delay, was in No. Cal doing book research and am just now settling down with the Tivo to enjoy the 4th Round of the Players. Look for some updates soon...
But just briefly, what decade is this? Kenny Perry, Bernhard Langer, Paul Goydos??? It's like the movie Cocoon on a golf course. It is an interesting study though to see who has stepped up these last two tourneys without Tiger (Anthony Kim finally breaking though, Sergio putting up a fight again this week and now the old farts trying for one last hurrah.) I know, Goydos is only 43, and that isn't "old," but think of it this way -- he's 21 years older than the guy who won last week on Tour.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
5) Ernie Els and #17: After cruising toward a solid 2-under round, Els had a little problem at 17 when he made a triple-bogey 6. Els explains:
"Yeah, it was tough. I played so good all day. You know, I really worked hard on my game, and I just felt like I hit a lot of good shots. You know, I felt a bit awkward. Normally I've played 17 pretty well in the past. I think I've only hit it in the water once before. I just felt the greens were so firm, and I had 127 yards to the front and 147 to the hole. If I got the wedge too good it was going to bounce and go through. I had sand iron; I had my 54 sand iron in my hand, then I changed and went back to the wedge and hit it way too soft. I actually chunked it a little bit and it went in the water."
Els birdied 18 to get one back, but again, these are lowlights.
4) K.J. Choi's Front 9:
That's six bogeys, one double and just one par. Human? No, he shot -1 on the back including a birdie on #17 to break 80.
3) J.P. Hayes Shoots an 83:
Honestly, I nearly picked him on my fantasy team this week because he was cheap and last year he finished tied for 6th. But when I saw that he's only made 1 cut in 10 tries this year, I got scared off... Poor guy, without his doubles and triples he shoots 74. Unfortunately he had 3 doubles and 1 triple, saving the big number for the 18th.
2) Trevor Immelman:
Now I was railed on a few weeks ago for picking on Trevor's bad Missed Cut at the Byron Nelson, but it's gone from bad to worse for the Masters champ. After another MC at Wachovia last week, he woke up sick on Thursday and had to withdraw, his agent Jon Wagner for some reason feeling the need to explain that Trevor was both vomiting and had an upset stomach. He probably could have gotten away with "sick" or the always popular "flu-like symptoms," but thanks for the visuals!
1) Shigeki Murayama's Round, AKA "Rollercoaster"
If you throw up easily or are pregnant, avoid reading about this one. Here's how the ride went...
#2 Double-bogey (ugh...)
#3, 4, 5: Par
#6: Double-bogey (queasy...)
#9: Birdie (whew...)
#10: Birdie (this isn't so bad...)
#12: Birdie (it's actually kind of fun!)
#13: Bogey (or not.)
#15: Bogey (make it stop...)
#16: Birdie (thank you!)
#17: Double-bogey (never mind.)
#18: Bogey (I'm getting off.)
If you're keeping score at home, that's:
5 pars, 5 bogeys, 4 birdies and 4 doubles... an 81 -- or enough to make Immelman throw up again. And believe me, if he does, his agent will tell us all about it.
#17, PGA West Stadium Course - La Quinta, CA
Another Pete Dye killer. They used to hold the Skins Game here till supposedly the players complained it was too tough. Unlike the 17th at Sawgrass, here you tee off from an elevated tee down to the green 147 yards away from the tips. That's an extra 15 yards on Sawgrass.
The elevation I guess makes the target look bigger, but the green is protected by a ring of jagged dark gray boulders that look like teeth waiting to swallow your ball. The first time I played here I actually blew my shot long and right near the bridge and dry. Whew. Then on my 2nd shot I knocked it in the water.
#14, Couer D'Alene Resort -- Couer D'Alene, ID
First off, this one is a legit island which I appreciate. But it's movable which I find disconcerting. No matter how much I may be moving during my swing I'd like to think that at least my target never is. The 14th ranges from 100 to 175 yards depending on how punishing the greenskeeper feels that day, but the course website also says it is moved out to 267 yards for winter storage. Now there's a long par-3 I can legitimately see the pros having complaining about.
#3B, Four Seasons Golf Club Punta Mita -- Punta Mita, Mexico
Nicknamed "the tail of the whale," this thing is truly a beast. At 199 yards, (calling it 200 would just be too intimidating) you tee off from the mainland out to a natural island in the Pacific. If the tide is up, your only option is to hop on an amphibious golf cart and try to stay dry. If the wind is blowing, forget about par. Or bogey. Which is probably why Jack Nicklaus didn't have the guts to actually make this one of the required 18 holes and instead just made it an optional one instead of the normal #3.
All things considered...the hardest island green in golf.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Sobel's new piece on ESPN.com tracks down the winner...er, loser? to ask him about the day and more specifically -- his famous score of a 66 on #17. That's not a typo.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Voice: Hey Butch.
Butch: Oh, Phil, hi... wasn't expecting to hear from you.
Phil: Just checking in after my practice round. Overall my ball striking is in good shape but still under pressure I'm fighting that occasional... (sound of club hitting ball) What was that?
Phil: I heard someone hitting a golf ball.
Butch: I didn't hear anything.
Phil: Okay, anyway, I don't know if I'm just getting too loose again at the top or...
Butch: (muffled) That one looked good.
Butch: Yeah. Go ahead, Phil.
Phil: Are you on the range with another player again?
Butch: What? No! I'm just... sitting in the hotel... watching... the Nationwide Tour. (sound of someone hitting a ball) Good one there...
Phil: What tournament is it?
Butch: Uh... the Hasbro... St. Petersburg...Classic?
Phil: No one watches the Nationwide Tour! You're with Adam again, aren't you?
Butch: I don't know what you're talking about.
Phil: Or is it Ernie?
Mens Voices: Butch...
Phil: It's Adam AND Ernie?
Butch: Look, Phil, we had a lot of fun together... you won the Players, the Deutsche Bank... LA...
Phil: I have to see you again.
Phil: I miss you.
Another long pause. A sound of two golf balls being hit.
Butch: Good ones there...
Butch: Fine. Look, I can fit you in between 1:15 and 1:30 if you want...
Phil: In half an hour?
Butch: I actually meant 1:15 AM.
Phil: I'm calling Hank Haney.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Show me all the stats you want, but I'm going to my grave saying that belt buckle was the real difference between Kim and his chasers. Which is why I'd suggest the following for the players who came close but just couldn't catch AK...
2nd place -- Ben Curtis:
I don't think this is officially-licensed NFL apparel, but it does double as a bottle opener.
3rd place -- Jason Bohn:
4th Place -- Robert Allenby:
A little geeky...
T5th Place -- Heath Slocum:
A lot geeky... yes, that's a web browser. Which I think is legal as long as you don't use it to get advice from people besides your caddy.
T5th -- Dudley Hart:
Embrace the belly, Dudley...
Friday, May 2, 2008
While Nicklaus started by pointing out new tee boxes at the 14th and 15th holes and a reshaped bunker on the first, what was most noticeable were the moving walkways and escalators that have been placed on every single hole, a change Nicklaus shrugged off as something "they're just testing out this year" to see if it eases the "walkability of the course for fans and maybe certain players." The steepness of Muirfield Village has been cited as a possible reason Tiger may not return to the Tour until the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
In case you missed it (apparently airing the show 5 times a day isn't accommodating enough for you), here's my Golf Central interview from Tuesday.
A couple things I've learned from watching this a few times now...
1)When did I get so old?
2) For doing this on just one take, it's not completely embarrassing.
3) Neither Todd nor I made it entirely clear I'm writing a book, which makes me sort of seem like I am just some nutjob.
Either way, cool stuff. Enjoy...