Sunday, June 29, 2008

Perry Announces He's Skipping Ryder Cup to Prepare for Ryder Cup

Coming off a backdoor win at the Buick Open, Kenny Perry announced that he has decided to skip the 2008 Ryder Cup in order to prepare for the 2010 Ryder Cup. "I know this is disappointing to a lot of people, but if I play in this year's Ryder Cup, there's a chance I might miss out on the Ryder Cup two years from now, and frankly, I couldn't live with that." The 2010 Ryder Cup is scheduled to be played at Celtic Manor in Wales. "My wife and I have talked for years about wanting to visit Wales, it's been a dream of ours really, and making it on the 2010 Ryder Cup team may be the only way we ever get there."

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Golfers Not Wearing Pants

Yesterday a Minnesota site posted a short piece asking why the LPGA can wear shorts but the PGA players can't. I'll be honest, on more than one occasion I've been watching a tournament and asked, "I wonder what that guy's legs look like..." I'm not proud of it, but I feel like this is a safe community. Think about it, you really believe that these guys wear pants every time they play golf? Why would they? And yet pictures of pros in shorts are darn near impossible to find. Here's the best I could do.Stop judging me.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Buick Open To Give Out Special 3-D Glasses

Faced with the reality that World Number One Tiger Woods will not be participating in this week's Buick Open in Grand Blanc, Michigan, tournament officials have rushed into production on special 3-D glasses that will allow fans to see Tiger Woods, even though he's not actually there. Some fans got a sneak peek at the product on Tuesday and said they're looking forward to using them not just on the course this week, but for the remainder of the PGA season.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Favorite Off-Course Pic from Monday's Playoff

I tried to post something about the Travelers Championship, but I couldn't bring myself to move on from the U.S. Open. So instead let me post this picture from Brian, a reader who judging by all the chemicals in the background of the picture, works in an underground laboratory somewhere. He actually works for "a company that makes products for biopharm labs." Not really sure what that means, but if I suddenly disappear, remember this post.

On Monday Brian said his computer was the only one that could get the feed from USOPEN.COM, so he became the go-to guy for updates on the Tiger/Rocco match. After a while, he just started posting the hole by hole scores on this whiteboard in his cube so he wouldn't have to recap all the action every time somebody new came up.

In other cube news, my friend Mike forwarded me what he deemed "the nerdiest Tiger story this week":

"Many US and Canadian ISPs thought they were under a massive denial of service attack yesterday — traffic spiked by hundreds of gigabits across North America. Turns out that the traffic was due to live streaming of the U.S. Open. and Tiger Woods' nail-biting victory."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

ESPN.com Piece...

Yesterday I'd said I was writing a piece about the Open for ESPN.com. It was about some of the cool Tiger moments of the week that I had a chance to see but that didn't make it on TV. But his big announcement pretty much dwarfed any other Tiger news and at least for now it's on the back burner. But I'll share one of the moments with you here, because healthy or not, it says a lot about the man:

DRIVING RANGE, MONDAY

What You Saw: Tiger on the range, warming up.

What You Didn’t See: How he got there. Every day of the week, Tiger hit balls in one of two spots, both near the far left side of the range. But on Monday the USGA decided to place Tiger and Rocco’s name placards along with two pyramids of golf balls and place them fifteen yards apart from each other on the far right side of the range. It was so picture perfect that a cameraman from ESPN was squatting down to capture the symmetry when Tiger entered the range from the putting green. He walks right past his assigned spot, says nothing, and just points to the left with his putter, toward his old spot on the far end. Two workers spring into action, one grabbing the placard and the other trying to pick up the pyramid without all the balls toppling. It’s too late. Stevie is already crossing in with a basket of balls in his hand, the whole episode a reminder that this isn’t Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf. It’s the U.S. frickin’ Open.

Torrey Pines Reopens, Should Be Back In Terrible Shape By Mid-July

Just two days after perhaps the greatest U.S. Open ever, Torrey Pines reopened for play on Wednesday, with golf course officials confident that the course will be back in its traditional "God-awful" condition as soon as possible. "Rest assured," director of golf operations John Maddern told reporters Wednesday afternoon, "Between firing most of our temporary staff and cutting our water use in half to meet municipal standards, we're confident the fairways will be patchy and the greens will be slow and bumpy in time for peak summer play."

Torrey Pines' non-resident weekend rate for the South Course is $237.

Selfish Request...

Okay, I've moved past Denial (Stage 2 of Grief) to Bargaining (Stage 3). Does anyone out there have Thursday's, Friday's and/or Saturday's coverage of the Open that they would be willing or able to burn for me? Seriously, my Tivo had deleted them by the time I returned home from San Diego.

The Good News....

I've already moved past Stage 1, Anger, and have safely transitioned into Stage 2, Denial. I can't wait to go see Tiger play next week at the Buick Open in Michigan!!

TIGER: SEASON OVER

As reported by AP...

Monday, June 16, 2008

U.S. OPEN MONDAY: Tell Me You Saw That...

And people say watching golf is boring.

So many great pieces have already been written about today, like:

Pat Forde's ESPN article...

Larry Dorman's NY Times piece...

and Gene Wojciechowski's "Tiger and Rocco save sports" piece...

There's another story I'd love to hear, but only you can tell it -- where did you watch Monday's round?

I heard from a good friend in Dallas who said his 200-employee office came to a complete standstill Monday afternoon. Their CEO had the only TV but, tragically, he's not a golfer. So everyone switched to USOPEN.COM's streaming coverage, a move that completely clogged the company's network. The only solution was to designate a handful of computers as the golf hubs, converging the office into these little clusters of ten or twelve people from upper management to assistants. It did more for office camaraderie than any trust walk or corporate retreat.

I'm guessing his story's not the only one. What's yours?

**As for what it was like for ME, I'm working on a new piece for ESPN.com. I'll link to it when they post it.

**In the meantime, check back this week for some funny and most likely not even kinda true post-Open stories...

**And yes, as a reader pointed out, time to lift the June Gloom backdrop on this site and get something a little brighter up for a few days before reverting back to the standard black.

Champion

When I talk about golf, he doesn't count. He's not normal. He's way above everything.
-- Rocco Mediate

Sunday, June 15, 2008

US OPEN: Round 4.

It's too soon to put today into words, and really the whole week has been a struggle. Which of course makes the point once again as to why I'm not a sports reporter. So to best capture today, let me just string some photos together...
#1

#2
#4
#10

#13


#18

U.S. OPEN: Sorry Andy...

On Thursday night I was picking on reader Andy who didn't take my Kevin Streelman dark horse pick for the Open. Well, I don't look so smart anymore. Check out this quote from the original email Andy sent me before I pushed Streelman on him:

"I like the dark horse out of the blue picks. Is this course just way to long for the short hitter to win? I’m thinking guys like Rocco Mediate."

Nice call, Andy. I responded by saying:

"Rocco? Hmm... he's usually good for a round but then fades."

Selfishly, I can only hope Rocco's been saving that round where he fades for tomorrow.

Of Course He Did.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

US OPEN: ROUND 3 STAGED

The USGA, NBC, and Tiger Woods came clean late Saturday, admitting that the entire, amazing 3rd Round of the U.S. Open was 100% fake. Filmed on a soundstage in Orlando, Florida, a crew comprised of hundreds of people spent months working on the project simply called Round 3. Most of the footage was shot using greenscreen technology, but as USGA President Jim Vernon explained, "since so much of a golf course is already green, it actually made the whole thing pretty simple."

An original draft of Round 3 was written by Emmy-winner and 24 Creator Joel Surnow and called for Tiger to birdie all eighteen holes while uncovering and eliminating a terrorist plot. In the end, NBC thought it was too dark and the USGA felt 18-straight birdies didn't reflect the "fair but tough" test they try to bring to the National Championship.

"I was just told we were just making a new Gillette razor commercial," said Sweden's Robert Karlsson, who was cast to play "Man #1" in Round 3. But Karlsson became suspicious when after three-plus hours on set, no one had mentioned shaving.

In the end, it was Tiger's two eagles and chip-in within six holes that ultimately proved too much for viewers to buy, millions of whom called their friends with the same comment, "That did NOT just happen!" They were right.

In the actual U.S. Open, Kenny Perry currently leads Joe Durant by three strokes heading into Sunday.

US OPEN: Well Said, Sobel...

Found this in Jason Sobel's minute-by-minute live blog from the US Open after Round 3. I think he nailed it:

7:13 p.m.: Look, I'm not one to throw out superlatives and when it comes to overemphasizing a Tiger Woods accomplishment as compared with something else he's done in his career, I think we need to be very careful. But the last six holes of today's round may have been the most compelling six rounds of golf in Tiger Woods' career. Not as groundbreaking as the 1997 Masters, not as dominant as the 2000 U.S. Open, not as dramatic as the 2000 PGA Championship. But compelling? Absolutely.

Also can you find me in the picture on the right from #16? I'm wearing my red TW hat and shielding my eyes from the sun.

Friday, June 13, 2008

US OPEN: My Favorite Picture From Friday...

What were they saying? Nothing, but if they were, I'd like to think it went something like this...

Tiger: "Psst... I didn't really have knee surgery."

or

Tiger: "Seriously, if the Olympics won't take golf, what do you say you and I give synchronized swimming a shot?"

or

Tiger: "You could have just told me what time it was, we didn't have to do this whole complicated maneuver."

Phil: "Just hurry up, I can't hold this position very long."

or

Tiger: "I clearly called 'Green shirt -- Friday.' Why was that so hard to remember?"

3-3-3-3-3-4-4-3-4

30. At a US Open. Expecting any more than that is completely greedy and downright offensive. BUT, as terrifying as this is to write, it could have been a 27. Really.

#3 -- Makeable birdie. Uphill, right to left. Plus he had the read off Mickelson's par putt.
#6 -- Makeable birdie. Uphill, and again had the read off Mickelson. Just short.
#7 -- Downhill, left to right. Had a chance but fell off. The drunk guy in front of me said he was going to run down the hole nude if it went in. On second thought, maybe I should be okay with this one not falling.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I ALMOST Never Know What I'm Talking About...

Last week a reader named Andy emailed me to ask for a good dark horse pick for a pool he was in with some friends. Since you'll never believe me without evidence, above is our original email exchange which you can click on to read for yourself. After Tiger 3-putted 18, I took consolation that somewhere Andy was thanking me for the hot tip till I received this response when I got back to my computer this afternoon:
"Are you serious -2 through 5, I didn’t take him, *** **** IT!!!!"
You can lead a fantasy golfer to water, but you can't make him drink.

US OPEN: Day 1

Back from easily the most insane 5 hours of tailing Tiger (and phollowing Phil) all year. People were passing out, one person was on the ground having a "panic attack," people were getting angry. Without a periscope, I would have seen close to nothing.

**The Bad News: I know ESPN has mentioned this, but Tiger's knee is definitely hurting. On 18, he teed off and it took all the power he had to pick up his tee and walk back to his bag without limping.

**The Good News: Tiger's putting is back. For the first time since the Match Play, putts are falling consistently.

Also, I wrote a piece in today's San Diego Union-Tribune about how to keep up with Tiger and Phil at Torrey. Check it out here!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

US OPEN: Shots From The Practice Round...

I just returned from a fun few hours at Torrey Pines before the insanity that will be Thursday and Friday at the U.S. Open. Wednesdays are the last days to take pictures without getting punched by Steve Williams, so here's a few random shots from the 100 plus I took...

First, TW on the putting green. Yes, he made it. No, that's not his water.







After a few minutes, I looked around to see how crowded it was. I'm now a little nervous about tomorrow...








On the range. No rust on that swing, I promise.














Looking back from the flag at 12 to the tee waaaaayyyyy back there, over the canyon to the right of that radio tower, 614 yards away. What a beast.
I took this one of Charles Howell III while he stood on the forward tee at #14 (the tee that would make it driveable).
After thinking about it for a while, he hit a 6-iron to the middle of the fairway. Not exactly goin' for it, but Vijay was still on the green, so probably a wise move.
More interesting than that was the headcover on his backup driver in his bag. It's like the Bridgestone rep told him, "You break it, you buy it" or something.

It reminded me of The Office episode where Michael Scott wraps his foot in bubble wrap after burning it on his George Foreman Grill. His explanation:

"I enjoy having breakfast in bed. I like waking up to the smell of bacon. Sue me. And since I don't have a butler I have to do it myself... most nights before I go to bed I will lay out 6 strips of bacon out on my foreman grill. Then I go to sleep. When I wake up I plug in the grill. I go back to sleep again, then I wake up to the smell of crackling bacon. It is delicious, it's good for me, it's a perfect way to start the day. Today I got up, I stepped on to the grill and it clamped on to my foot. That's it. I don't see what's so hard to believe about that."
Finally, I ran into Geoff Shackelford. If you've never been to his site, Geoffshackelford.com, you're missing out on some of the best intelligent golf criticism out there. For the less intelligent commentary and flat-out lies purporting to be truth, no need to go anywhere...
More updates to follow throughout the week...

We've Arrived...

I say "we" because for the first time this year, I've brought the family. They won't be on the course, they're along for moral support. My 2-year-old got a headstart on that a few days ago when he saw I was watching this year's Dubai Desert Classic on TV. "Tiger's leg doesn't hurt anymore!" he yelled when he saw TW. Looks like so far he's right. Hopefully with a handful of Advil he can make it through Sunday (I mean Tiger, not my son.)





Monday, June 9, 2008

June Gloom Hits Fore Right...

I wanted the site to be blue for U.S. Open week at Torrey Pines, but I just can't shake June Gloom -- the Southern California phenomenon caused by inland heat pulling dense fog off the ocean. So until further notice, Fore Right is grey. Let's keep our fingers crossed that it burns off by Thursday afternoon.

The Week's Most Exciting Pairing?

It's the 8:06am pairing and it might be the most electric group to follow all year. Believe it or not, I'm not talking about Tiger and Phil. While #1 and #2 go off on the first hole, over at the 10th you can find something that might be even more entertaining -- Woody Austin, Pat Perez and Thomas Levet.

Pat's most famous for giving his ball the finger a few years ago, one of many not so friendly incidents that have limited the amount of TV coverage producers are willing to risk on him.

Woody is well, animated as well. There's this famous you tube worthy moment back in 1997... And this one too...

At first glance Levet, a Frenchman, doesn't quite fit the mold of these two. But a little research revealed he's no monk. This story about Levet from the UK Guardian tells of a few blow-ups, the best being this one:

"His finest explosion on a golf course came when Levet hit a wedge to 10 feet, marked and cleaned his ball, studied the line and then missed the putt. Patiently he went through the routine again and missed again. And again. And again. After the fourth time he went up to his ball with malice in his heart and whacked it back down the fairway. He took the new yardage from his caddie, pitched back on to the green and eventually found the hole with his tenth shot."

Yes, that's Levet being sprayed down after winning the Andalucia Open. Maybe officials should have a little bubbly on hand in case this group gets out of hand.

U.S. OPEN: Attention All Spectators...

USOpen.com has posted a list of what items are prohibited for spectators at Torrey Pines this coming week. My favorite is "No Bicycles." Considering it doesn't also say "No Skateboards" or "No Mopeds," I can only assume that at some point, some doofus has shown up at the US Open with their bike and been livid that they weren't allowed in. Maybe it was the person who invented this. It would certainly make keeping up with Tiger a little easier, especially if it had a bell. "On your right!" Ring ring... "Coming through!" Ring ring... Maybe I can ditch the bike but still bring the bell. Better check the list... all it says is "No noise-producing electronic devices." A loophole! If anyone hears a bell ringing while Adam Scott is putting out for par on Thursday or Friday, I'm just trying to stay ahead of the crowd.

U.S. OPEN WEEK... HAS BEGUN

For Masters week, Fore Right went green. For the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, resting above the beautiful Pacific, I'm going with aquamarine...

I'm heading down to the Open on Tuesday and hoping to be on the course a bit Wednesday. If you don't hear anything from me, I've been swallowed alive in the graduated rough.

Also, I should have a short piece in the San Diego Union Tribune mid-week sometime. I'll link to it when it's up.

Golf Digest Challenge...

I know it already took place on Friday, but out of respect for all of you, you won't find me writing about it till after it airs on Sunday. No reason to ruin the fun. If you have no self-restraint, go ahead and click here.

Friday, June 6, 2008

USGA Adds Pope Benedict to Woods/Mickelson/Scott Pairing

Concerned they hadn't yet generated enough buzz for next week's U.S. Open, the USGA has invited His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to join the 8:06AM group of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott.

Despite the Pope being one of the planet's most recognizable figures, the USGA's Mike Davis is not concerned that his presence might clog an already crowded golf course. "If anything, we believe the Pope will bring a sense of peace and calm to the Open."

Father Federico Lombardi, official Spokesman for the Vatican, talked about the Pope's golf game at a Friday morning press conference, saying that "His Holiness is definitely a finesse player but has the strength to pull off more of a bomb 'n gouge approach when he feels it's justified." Lombardi also noted that Benedict won the principality's annual 4-ball event last fall. Asked who he was paired with, Lombardi looked toward the heavens.

Tiger, for his part, said he is looking forward to meeting the Pope and finding out why God has refused to damn his ball despite his repeated requests to do so on the course.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

WHOA. -- 11:30PM Update

9:02PM PST: Tiger and Phil paired for first two rounds of U.S. Open. More to come...

11:17PM PST: A couple of personal reactions to this news:

First, if I can't land some free tickets, I probably just lost another $500 for Thursday and Friday.

Secondly, how in the world am I going to navigate that crowd and keep up with Tiger? I mean, is it insane to think that if there's 60,000 fans there each day, that 45,000 of them will be trying to get a look at that group? Just imagine trying to watch a Dodgers game where every half inning they moved to a different field.

Third, what an obvious stunt by the USGA. #1, #2 and #3 (I didn't mention Adam Scott is rounding out the group). One of my first posts last year was about the not so accidental pairings the USGA traditionally puts together, and while this isn't as funny as putting Boo, Bubba and Nobu together for last year's first 2 rounds, it's a lot more noteworthy. As a golf fan, I love it.

But it leads me to 4. As a Tiger fan, I hate it. Tiger is intimidated by no one golfer. But can he be intimidated by two? Especially when they're both taught by his old coach who knows his tricks? And when the last time Scott played with him (at the CA Championship), Scott got him by 3? And when the last time Phil played with him (at the Deutsche Bank), Phil got him by one?
Besides, isn't there something more magical about the #1 and #2 meeting naturally on the weekend of a major in a head-to-head match up they've both earned by playing well? Course if they do play well, that just might happen too.

Now if you don't mind, I have to go sell my car for U.S. Open tickets.

G.D. Open Challenge Update: Romo Hurt...

Those 3/2 odds on Romo breaking 100 might be going up. The Dallas Morning News reported just a few hours ago:

"For a brief period of time Wednesday quarterback Tony Romo was knocked out of practice when a defender tripped over him and stepped on his left hand.

Romo appeared to have two fingers taped for precautionary reasons after being examined by head athletic trainer Jim Maurer. He took some snaps from center Andre Gurode before returning to work for the final parts of seven-on-seven and team drills.

Romo did not speak after the practice, but he had the cuts cleaned out. It didn't look to affect his play at all."

Sure, getting your left hand stepped on doesn't affect your play so much as a right-handed quarterback, but he might need it at Torrey Pines...

Will They Or Won't They...

Even though Tiger played his first full round of golf (or first round in the public eye) since knee surgery today, I'm more interested in the Golf Digest U.S. Open Challenge.

In case you've missed GD's nine-month publicity push on this, last year at Oakmont Tiger said that a 10-handicapper couldn't break 100 under real Open conditions. The mag decided to challenge the statement and have put together a foursome of 3 celebs (Tony Romo, Justin Timberlake, and Matt Lauer) along with a no-name (cancer fighter John Atkinson) to put Tiger's statement to the test.

Golf Digest has a breakdown of the celebs and their chances, here, but a not-so-close look reveals one glaring problem -- none of these celebs are 10-handicappers. In fact, Romo is nearly scratch and actually attempted to qualify for the Open. Golf Digest editor Bob Carney defends their choice to field better players, admitting that the critique is "a fair one," but ultimately argues:

"The only pretty sure bet to break 100 in the foursome is Tony Romo."

So from this can we assume Carney has confirmed that Jessica Simpson will not be in the gallery?

As for the no-name 8-handicapper John Atkinson, Carney says they "wanted a bit of drama in this," a comment that seems to say they have serious doubts that anyone higher than an 8 could even stand a reasonable chance of pulling it off.

Or they're giving Tiger an out so that when they all do it, he can come back and say, "I said TEN handicap."

But bookies seem to be siding with Tiger. Here's the latest odds:

Odds of Breaking 100:
John Atkinson 3/1
Tony Romo 3/2
Matt Lauer 3/1
Justin Timberlake 5/4

John Atkinsons Score:
Over 109.5 5/6
Under 109.5 5/6

Tony Romo's Score:
Over 105.5 5/6
Under 105.5 5/6

Matt Lauer's Score:
Over 109.5 5/6
Under 109.5 5/6

Justin Timberlake's Score:
Over 104.5 5/6
Under 104.5 5/6

Will Anyone Break 100?
Yes 5/1

I'm no gambling wiz, but how can the odds be 3/2 for Romo to break 100 but 5/1 that ANYONE will break 100?

Anyway, the point is that the general belief seems to be this will be as big of a feat as Tiger claimed it would. And really, at this point shouldn't be know better than to question something Tiger says?

FYI, the U.S. Golf Digest Open Challenge is scheduled to air on NBC on Sunday of Open Week from 2-3PM.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Perry Reveals Real Reason He Skipped U.S. Open Qualifier

Despite earlier reports that Kenny Perry skipped U.S. Open qualifying in Columbus because he wanted to focus all his efforts on making the Ryder Cup team, it turns out the Memorial winner's real reason was that he "just had" to catch the Sex and the City movie on opening weekend. Spotted outside the Star 3 theaters in Franklin, Kentucky late Sunday, Perry admitted, "I just wanted to experience S.I.T.C. in the big theater surrounded by a few hundred other real fans." Perry knew the decision would be seen as impulsive and something he might later regret, but chalked it up to "the Samantha in him."