Tuesday, March 31, 2009

If this is an April Fool's joke, it's on me...

If you're in the Boston area, I'm speaking today at the Harvard Business School this afternoon (3:30pm) and at the Harvard Coop bookstore tonight (7pm).

Sunday, March 29, 2009

API: OUTSTANDING!

First, here's the 2-minute clip of Tiger's winning putt at the 2009 Arnold Palmer Invitational and the aftermath. You've all seen it. Doesn't mean you don't want to watch it again.
video

Clutch.
Clutch.
Clutch.

One of the things I think is lost on a lot of Tiger fans who aren't actually golfers is the amount of thought that goes into any of his well-played shots. Just listen to this exegesis about his winning birdie putt on the 72 hole.

"This putt was uphill. The other two [winning putts in 2001 and 2008] were downhill left to right. This one was uphill; not only that, it was into the grain left to right. The other two putts were kind of similar, but this was totally different. I kept telling myself obviously with the temperature getting a little cooler, this putt is going to be a little bit slower because of that. On top of that, the putt is uphill into the grain left to right, make sure you hit it hard to get it up to the hole, and if anything, if you make any mistake, miss it -- over-release the blade and miss it left so at least it has a chance with all the dew on the ground with the grain that it could snag and come in."

The degree of thought at work here is unreal. For most of us, attempting to weigh all this would create such an overflow of information that it would in turn eliminate any actual chance of us dropping the putt. Tiger handles it. Give him all the information you've got, he'll sort it out and act, minimizing risk and increasing his chance of success.

And what's hysterical is that when it was all said and done, none of the minutiae mattered:

"I hit a pure putt. I hit it really solid and it held its line all the way there."

Goodnight grain, goodnight dew, goodnight O'Hair, and goodnight to the quiet old marshals whispering "hush"....

Tour win #66.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Which 4 Golfers Kept Tiger from the Single-Season Grand Slam?

So as I was saying a few days back, only four players finished ahead of Tiger Woods in the 2000 Masters. Mind you, these would be the only four players who would beat Tiger in a major until the 2001 U.S. Open, 14 months later.

Who were they?

Well, the 2000 Masters champ is no secret:

Vijay hit 58 of 72 greens that week to pull ahead and stay ahead, winning by 3 shots over...


Ernie Els. Ernie shot the low round on Sunday, finishing with a 68. It wasn't enough for that elusive Green Jacket, but it did earn him solo second over...



David Duval. Double-D actually had the solo lead heading into the weekend, but shot 74-70 to slip behind Vijay. His 282 total for the week tied him with... come on, there's no way you really knew this...




You might not even know with the picture. But that's none other than Loren Roberts, AKA "The Boss of the Moss." I had always thought Loren's closest call to a major win came in 1994, when he had not one, but three chances to win the '94 Open at Oakmont (once in regulation, once in a Monday playoff, and again in sudden death) before falling to a young Ernie Els.

But Roberts was no slouch in 2000, not even a little. Look at his results:

Masters - T4
US Open - T8
British Open - T7

That wasn't all. Roberts had 5 more top-10's in 2000 and a win at the Greater Milwaukee Open.

So yes, Tiger's bid at a single-season Grand Slam was upended in part by a guy named Loren. A guy who in 2000, at age 44, was playing some of the best golf on Tour.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sure, I Could Write About the Transitions Championship...

...but here's what happened. I was on the couch (my traditional Sunday golf-watching position in 2009) and South Africa's Retief Goosen was striding to the 17th tee having dropped a shot and needing back-to-back pars to win for the first time on the PGA Tour since 2005.

Up on the practice green, perennial bridesmaids Chuck Howell III and Brett Quigley nervously stretched their legs while waiting to see if the two-time U.S. Open winner could close it out... to see if the man who'd been struck by lightning in his youth could muster the calm to negotiate the final hole at the Innisbrook Copperhead Course... wondering if maybe, just maybe, this one time................................................

And then I fell asleep.

One doesn't have to dig very deep in the golf world to find an article saying that the game needs a shot of adrenaline when Tiger is not in the field, and that the future of the sport is in jeopardy because of this same problem. Most of the time I blow off these ideas, sincerely believing there are plenty of interesting younger players on Tour who will carry the torch in the years to come. But with all due respect to Retief, electricity is ironically not one of the elements of his game. No one denies this -- in fact his own mother cites his near-death experience as the reason he is as calm as he is.

All this to say, I feel no shame about falling asleep. And considering the resume of Goosen compared to the players within striking distance, I wasn't surprised when I went online to see he had in fact won, even if he needed a side-door putt on the last to do it.

At the risk of this post putting you to sleep too, I'll leave you with some Tiger Woods trivia that surprised me when I realized it this afternoon while doing some research for the Follow the Roar paperback edition...

When Tiger lost the 2000 Masters by six shots, his only major defeat of that unbelievable season, only four players finished ahead of him. Four players that stood between Tiger and the only professional single-season Grand Slam in history. Without looking it up, how many of those four guys can you name? You should at least get the 2000 Masters winner. Two other names shouldn't be shockers. But the 4th name in there might surprise you. If you knew it off the top of your head, consider yourself a bona fide golf nerd.

With the Masters just three weeks away, look for more Augsta-related posts to come (some real, some fake) and later this week I'll post more about this 4th player and the one major Tiger couldn't grab in 2000.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tiger Headed to Australia in November

Australian news is reporting that Tiger Woods has committed to playing in November's Australian Masters, Tiger's first event Down Under in a decade.

John Brumby, the Premier of Victoria, says he expects Tiger's appearance to generate between $12 and $13 million in revenue for his state, which if true would more than make up for the standard $3 million that Tiger typically receives for overseas appearances.

While it's hard to call something a coup when it's costing you that much money, I know Golf Australia (the country's governing body for the sport) has been courting TW for quite a while. No doubt this is a big deal for G.A. and the legion of golf fans who rank Tiger only slightly lower than their own Greg Norman.

And it's not a bad deal for TW, of course, especially when the $3 million he'll likely receive is more than 10 times greater than the tournament's $270,000 first prize.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tavistock Cup: "Ew..." "Ew!"

Chances are you have either a job or a life, which means you weren't glued to Golf Channel's 2-day coverage of this year's Tavistock Cup. Thankfully I have neither, and knew it would be tragic if only a handful of golf fans were able to enjoy this gem from Chris DiMarco today.

To set it up, DiMarco is in perfect position, hitting his 3rd shot into the par-5 15th hole... for the full effect, make sure your volume is on.

video

It's a safe bet that I'm the only golf fan in the world who would download a 3-hour broadcast onto my hard drive for the sole purpose of preserving that, but when a shot earns a double "Ew" from both guys in the broadcast booth, we're watching something special.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Why I Like Tiger AND Phil.

Last June Rick Reilly wrote an article preceding the Tiger/Phil 1st round match up at the U.S. Open and said, "You must choose. You cannot root for both. It's un-American." Most of the golf fans I've met over the last year tend to feel the same way. To be a fan of both golfers is simply unacceptable. After all, each is so vastly different in his on-course personalities and approach to the game of golf. To root for one is to inherantly discredit the methods of the other. At least that's the theory.

But after watching the final round of the CA Championship unfold this afternoon, I think it's possible to like both players, but for very different reasons.

Tiger Woods represents excellence. When you watch him, you're seeing someone completely devoted to his work. He's an athlete who could never be accused of wasting his talent. Even when he's physically broken, he remains mentally untouchable. One can't help but be impressed.

Phil Mickelson is also excellent. About 78% of the time. The other 22%, well, you just never know. He started his year with a MC, a T42 and a T55. He swapped irons and drivers in and out of his bag so much the Tour's Callaway rep may have received combat pay. Phil's early-season shots found water hazards, cacti, iceplant, oceans... But in LA, he rediscovered his swing. Temporarily. And what seemed to be an insurmountable lead on Sunday was suddenly gone, forcing a come-from-behind push on #16 and 17 to secure the victory.

And then Doral, where a Thursday decision to "screw it" and just swing as hard as he could led to his best driving day of the year. But again, this is Phil, and so Sunday, brimming with the confidence of a one-shot lead, Phil hooked his drive on #12 into a bush. And decided a right-handed swing with an upside-down iron was obviously the best option. He took a huge right-handed swing, the ball flew out and after clunking against a tree, the mics picked up Phil's reaction: "Where'd it go?"

And that's why I think all golf fans can (and should) like Tiger and Phil. Tiger Woods represents what we'd all like to be. Phil Mickelson represents a slightly better version of the golfer we already are. Stretches of brilliance, moments of complete idiocy. The mind of Tiger can be hard to crack. With Phil, there's little mystery. He wasn't afraid to sit down after the 2006 U.S. Open, put his hands on his head and say to an entire press corps: "I am such an idiot." I root for Tiger. I empathize with Phil.

When it was revealed earlier today that Mickelson had been sick, was unable to keep food down, and had to be treated at the hospital on the eve of his first WGC victory, I wasn't surprised. Considering the way he wins tournaments these days, it makes me feel a little nauseous too.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Stenson Jockeys For Position at CA Championship

This has been posted all over the golf world since it happened yesterday, but I'd hate to think anyone missed this shot of Henrik Stenson from yesterday's first round, when he decided the only safe way to play from the edge of the water on #3 was to take off his shoes. And socks. And shirt. And sunglasses. And hat. And... pants.

He said afterward that he would have left his pants and shirt on, but that he would have had to play his last six holes covered in muck. Yes, because that would have been so embarrassing.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

CA Championship Thursday: Quote of the Day...

This from Paul Casey on the 38-33 he posted to finish 1-under par for the day:

"It was a good back nine but the front nine was s***. Can I say that?! Can I unquote myself on that?!! I think I was in a bit of a daze after seeing Sean O'Hair start with two eagles. That was the most amazing start to a round I've ever seen."

O'Hair indeed started eagle-eagle, the 2nd one coming on a pitch in on the short par-4 2nd. When I first saw Doral last March, I walked those first two holes and thought, "This is the least scary monster I've ever seen." But it gets harder, and O'Hair could only steal one more shot from par before finishing at 5-under for the day.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

CA CHAMPIONSHIP: Camilo Villegas WD's, Cites Extreme Sexiness

Less than 24 hours before the opening round of the WGC-CA Championship at Doral, PGA Tour player and Miami favorite Camilo Villegas has announced a surprise withdrawl, telling reporters that he woke up Wednesday feeling "too sexy" and the condition only became worse as the day went on.

Sporting white pants, a white shirt and a yellow belt, Villegas completed just five holes in his Wednesday practice round before shaking his head and walking off the course. In the media tent, Villegas explained his departure. "Until recently I've always managed to keep my sexiness under control," Villegas began, "but after missing the cut [at the Honda Classic] last week, I worked out very hard and had my tailor take in my sleeves and pants an extra inch. The combination has made me far too sexy to compete."

Asked to elaborate, Villegas explained that his sexiness had reached a point where it could be a distraction to "less sexy" players like Tim Clark and Jeev Milkha Singh. "The last thing I want to do is have a player not be able to hit the shot he wants because he's thinking 'Man, Camilo is so much more sexy than I am.' I just couldn't sleep if I won like that. Of course, I don't get much sleep anyway. Because of my sexiness."

Villegas said he expects to have his sexiness back at a manageable level by the Bay Hill Invitational.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Bob's Heading East...

Hey folks. Quick FYI that I'll be in New England March 26-April 2 for a couple speaking engagements and book signings. As it stands, I still have a gap or two in my itinerary if your club would be interested in having me come by and share some of my adventures from the past year. Just drop me a line -- forerightbob@gmail.com...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Fore Right Exclusive: Interview with Y.E. Yang

Fore Right was able to catch up with South Korea's Y.E. Yang and talk to him via translator after Sunday's one-shot victory at the Honda Classic:

FORE RIGHT: First off, Y.E., congrats on the win. Must feel good after really struggling for a few years.

Y.E.: Yes, thank you. I'm very happy. I couldn't have done it without the support of Taylor Made, the help of my swing coach and of course my agent/translator, Michael Yim.

FORE RIGHT: Walk us through the 18th hole if you will.

Y.E.: Well, I knew that all I needed was a par to win, which didn't seem so hard, so I was actually just thinking about my agent/translator Michael and how talented he is.

FORE RIGHT: With all the success that Korean women have had on the LPGA Tour, how do you explain that you're only the second Korean man to win on the PGA Tour?

Y.E.: It's hard to believe there haven't been more Korean winners on the PGA Tour, sure. Not as hard, of course, as it is to believe that Michael is still single. I mean, he's handsome, he makes a good living, and he knows how to treat a woman with respect.

FORE RIGHT: In 2006, you won the HSBC over Tiger Woods. Where does this victory rank in comparison?

Y.E.: Michael is also quite a fine dancer. And very funny. He may not seem funny at first, but give him time ladies, and you will see just what a winning personality he has. Sometimes I back off shots during my round because I'm remembering a joke that he told me.

FORE RIGHT: Let's talk about the Masters--

Y.E.: I also sing. I mean Michael sings. Mostly love songs. If he wasn't already such a successful agent, he'd probably be a professional musician. Or a lifeguard. Or a wealthy stock broker. Or all three! He's basically the perfect man.

FORE RIGHT: Thank you -- both of you -- for your time. Congratulations.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Honda Classic: Anybody Have Mathias Gronberg in their Fantasy League this Week?

Let me first say, in Mathias Gronberg's defense, the back nine at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens is the more difficult nine. Of the top 11 guys on the leaderboard at this week's Honda Classic, only Jeff Overton played it better than the front today. Sergio Garcia, who flew out of the gate with a 4-under front nine, wobbled home with a 36 to finish at 3-under.

As for Mathias (pictured above in happier times)... well, he opened with a 4-over 39 on the front, which isn't so hot, but certainly not out of it. However, the 50 he shot on the back nine today is probably going to put his first PGA Tour title out of reach.

Yes, 5-0. On a par 35, no less. How'd he do it? Probably the same way you and I do it. Two bogeys, two bogeys, two double-bogeys, and, wait for it, three triple-bogeys. With three 7's on that scorecard, remind me not to play craps with this guy.


More stats:
*Gronberg hit only 3 greens, which explains the decent total of 29 putts.
*If you take into account his three closing bogeys on the front nine, he played his last 12 holes in 18-over par.
*But it's not all bad -- he is currently ranked first in "others."

What's scary is that Gronberg isn't some no-name guy playing on a sponsor's exemption. This is the same player who shot a 64 at PGA West last year to earn his 2009 Tour card. The guy can play.

Just not today.

So hey, next time you shoot 88 and want to quit the game, just take a breath and repeat after me: better than Gronberg... better than Gronberg...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Fore Right's 2009 Ball Guide

Ever wondered what's inside that ball you're playing? Are you worried that your current ball might not be the best fit for your swing? Me neither. Most of the time, I'm playing whatever I found in the bushes while looking for my actual ball.

Nevertheless, Fore Right tentatively steps into the equipment world with our first ever Ball Guide. Enjoy.


Titleist ProV1x -- $94/dozen.

What Makes It Special: The ProV1's cover is made from the ground up bones of harpooned orca whales.

Perfect For: Golfers who pulled their money out of the stock market last summer.


Srixon Z-Star -- $40/dozen

What Makes It Special: Left in the same sleeve for more than six months, the Z-Star has been know to mate with other Z-Stars.

Perfect For: Players who want to forever be known as "that weird guy who plays Srixons."



Callaway Diablo -- $24/dozen.
What Makes It Special: The ball's core is made from the curdled blood of Callaway engineers demoted by Phil Mickelson.

Perfect for: Golfers who play at least five holes a round with their alcohol level over .10.

Bridgestone B330-RX -- $43/dozen
What Makes It Speical: Its core is made entirely of unchewed gum from packs of 1987 Topps baseball cards.
Recommendation: Extra soft cover is ideal for high-handicappers prone to blading shots off friends' backs.

Nike One Tour Platinum -- $45/dozen

What Makes It Special: The sport's first "green" golf ball, the Nike One Platinum will fully decompose in just 253,000 years.

Perfect For: +10 handicaps with 14 career majors to their name.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Slow-Mo Footage Reveals Subtle Tiger Swing Change

Thanks to Golf.com for this first post-op Tiger Woods photo swing sequence. The change in Tiger's move through the ball is certainly subtle, but can can be seen quite clearly right at impact. Swing experts say the unorthodox move should relieve strain on his reconstructed left knee.