Thursday, April 30, 2009

Strong AND Explosive... Apparently

It's been a while. Really. Despite the 6 wins worldwide that Tiger Woods has added since the beginning of last year, today's 65 at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte marks the first time since January 31 of 2008 where Tiger finished the first round atop the leaderboard. He opened the 2008 Dubai Desert Classic with a bogey-free 65, a clubhouse lead which he would never have again until Sunday afternoon.

His post-round news conference included this needling at the expense of CBS Sports' golf writer Steve Elling:

Tiger Woods: ...As I said earlier this week, I'm starting to feel a little bit more explosive, a little more pop in the body in general. I had the strength, but I just didn't have the explosiveness in the body yet, and that's coming, which is very exciting, because I'm starting to feel how I used to feel when I play.

Elling: I can't quite make the distinction between those two...

Tiger: Because you don't play. (Laughter.)

Elling: Because I have no strength or explosiveness?

Tiger: There you go, perfect. (Tiger grinning.)

Elling: Could you separate those two?

Tiger: No, I'm not going to.

Man, nothing like going to work, asking a legit question and then being emasculated by the game's greatest player. Actually, that might be kinda cool.



Monday, April 27, 2009

Lehman and Langer Party Like It's 1995

It's a double-edged sword really. For years the Tour has been encouraging its players to show more emotion and personality on the course, hoping to lure skeptical fans to a sport many say requires little or no athleticism. So then players loosen up, show that emotion, and... well, just watch.

video

Friday, April 24, 2009

And the Worst Title Defense Ever Goes to...

Andres Romero, who returned to the Zurich Classic to shoot 73-75, missed the cut and then signed for an incorrect scorecard to get himself DQ'd. Probably not the way he had drawn the week up in his head.

I've been out of town folks, but I'll be back in fine form this next week for the Wachovia Quail Hollow Championship, to which Tiger has officially committed.

For the tournament's sake, let's just hope quails don't follow Wachovia and become extinct between now and next week, otherwise the event will be down to just calling itself the "Hollow Championship," which is not the ideal name with which to woo prospective sponsors.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Brian Gay Goes Old School...

That, kids, is what we refer to as a clinic.

Brian Gay's 10-stroke victory at the Verizon Heritage Classic was the largest margin of victory on Tour since Phil Mickelson won the 2006 Bellsouth Classic by 13 shots. But any comparisons to Lefty (or Tiger) need end there because Gay played a style of golf with which neither of the game's greats are familiar.

Hit the fairway... hit the green (with a mid or short-iron, not a wedge)... make a few putts... throw in an occasional bomb. Make a solid living.

It's always been a recipe for a long career on Tour, but around the beginning of the 21st century, it ceased being a way to win with. Courses were getting too long, greens were getting too hard and too fast. A guy in the rough with a 60-degree wedge will beat a guy in the fairway with an 8-iron nearly every week of the season.

But Harbour Town is different. It tops out at just 6973 yards. (By comparison, the Ritz-Carlton Course in Tucson that hosted the Accenture Match Play was over 7800 yards, or nearly a 1/2 mile longer.) It's one of only a handful of weeks left on the schedule where the Brian Gays of the world have a chance (average drive this week = 260.1 yards). As do the Briny Bairds (272 yards) and the Tim Wilkinsons (256.9 yards). The driver almost always stays in the bag, but when you need to hit it, you better know how to find the fairway. And Gay did that too, finding the short grass 47 of 56 times -- on holes that from the blimp look like a jogging path through the forrest.

It was old school golf. Or if you're a staunch purist, real golf. But because of the leaderboard and the size of Gay's lead, my guess is few folks were watching. Golf fans can find other footage of the kind of golf that was played Sunday at Harbour Town, but chances are it will be in black and white.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Augusta National Apologizes to Sergio Garcia

The Augusta National Golf Club released a statement today that marks the latest twist in their ongoing drama with Spain's Sergio Garcia. The statement in its entirety begins below:

----

April 15, 2009
Augusta National Golf Club

For Immediate Release:

On Sunday, Masters Invitee Sergio Garcia told the Golf Channel that, in his estimation, Augusta National was “not fair.” While Garcia has since withdrawn his statement and apologized, we wish that he hadn't. In fact, the club would like to take this opportunity to apologize to Sergio.

Sergio was right to accuse Augusta National of not being fair. It's a charge we can not in good conscience deny. Truth be told, the course was setup in a specific way that made it almost impossible for Sergio to win. You see, the course as dictated by this year's Tournament Committee demanded that the winning player must be someone who can putt.

We apologize to Sergio for the confusion and wish him luck in 2010.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

2009 Masters: (Almost) The Greatest Masters Ever!

Hey golf fans! Want to feel miserable? Well, you're in luck, because the 2009 Masters commemorative DVD will be shipping in August!

It doesn't matter who you were rooting for, the video guarantees you'll come away slightly nauseous about something!
Watch as 48-year old Kenny Perry makes 11 straight pars to start his day, then drains a birdie from the fringe on the 12th, birdies 15, and sticks his approach 4 inches away on the 16th hole to take a 2-shot lead and cause Verne Lundquist to call it the greatest shot of his career!*
*At which point Perry misses four straight greens to lose in sudden death. Quotable Kenny: "Not everybody can be great. I'm just an average guy, and I'm happy to be it."


Not a Kenny fan? No problem, because the 2009 Masters video also includes Phil Mickelson. You'll be amazed as the World's #2 player sculpts the best opening-nine in Masters history, including a shot around a tree on #7 that only a non-existing blimp shot could explain! But wait, there's more! After rinsing a ball on the par-3 12th, enjoy as "Lefty" hits his 2nd shot on the par-5 15th to just five feet! Did we mention he was paired with the Tiger Woods!!! It's a series of events that makes CBS' Nick Faldo and David Feherty compare the day to Jack Nicklaus's '86 Masters!!!!!**

**Mickelson fails to convert the eagle on 15, or his birdie on 16, and bogeys the last to finish three out of the playoff.

Like an underdog? Well, what about Chad Campbell?! Enjoy the ride as the easy-going Texan begins Masters week with 5-straight birdies, the greatest opening in tournament history! After losing the lead on Saturday, the man that the field forgot about works his way into a 3-way sudden-death playoff!!!!***
***At which point he pushes his approach shot 20 yards offline on the first playoff hole and misses an 8-footer for par.

STILL not sure if this is the DVD for you? Dare we mention Tiger Woods is involved in this?!! Watch as Woods acts unphased by Mickelson's front-nine 30 and holds his own for a 33 despite leaving his A-game in Orlando. After surviving Amen Corner, you'll be tickled as Tiger turns it on, going birdie-par-birdie-birdie on #13 through 16 to make every golf fan in the world wonder if he is witnessing Tiger's greatest feat yet!!!!!!****
****Until Tiger plays his final two holes bogey-bogey, nearly felling a tree with a miscue from the pine straw on the last.

And of course there's the lumbering Argentinian Angel Cabrera, whose front nine was so nervy that he actually shanked a shot on the 8th hole! But Cabrera would battle back with clutch putts to push his way into sudden death, where he would smite his opponents in grand fashion***** to become, at age 39, a Masters Champion.
*****Alright, they were just pars, but the first one was ridiculous. Never mind, you win -- twenty years from now, the 2009 Masters will likely be remembered for what others FAILED to do versus what Cabrera actually DID.
Narrated by Jim Nantz, the 2009 Masters DVD promises to (almost) blow you away for years to come.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Masters: Why Tiger Won't, Why Tiger Could...

Why He Won't:
*Tiger has never come from behind to win a major in his 13-year career.
*Realistically, Tiger needs to shoot a 63 (the course record) or 64 to give himself a chance to win.
*Tiger has never shot lower than 68 in a final round at the Masters.
*Tiger has never shot lower than 65 for any round at the Masters.
*Only 8 players left in the field rank below Tiger in putting this week.
*A Masters winner has come out of the final group on Sunday 17 out of the last 18 years.
*Kenny Perry, Jim Furyk, and Angel Cabrera at Augusta are not the same as Sean O'Hair at Bay Hill.

Why He Could:
*The biggest comeback after 54-holes in Masters history is 8 shots, belonging to Jackie Burke Jr. in 1956. The man Tiger Woods shares a locker with in Augusta's Champions Locker Room? Jackie Burke Jr.
*Tiger seems to like breaking Nicklaus's records. When Nicklaus won his last Masters in 1986, he started Sunday 6 shots back.
*He's Tiger Woods.

Bottom line, if Tiger isn't 2 or 3-under par at the turn on Sunday, forget it. At that point, enjoy the great battle sure to play out between Perry and Cabrera.

Masters: Best Non-Golf Moment of the Week

This is from Thursday's coverage, just a few minutes after ESPN went on the air and their first live shot from #12. Your volume needs to be up to appreciate Robert Allenby (or is it Robert Allen-bee?). Let's see if that mike is moved a little farther from the tee box this weekend.
video

Friday, April 10, 2009

Masters: 2008 All Over Again

What's wrong with Tiger?

Well, first here's what happened after his round, courtesy of Jason Sobel's blog over at ESPN.com:

Tiger Woods began his postround practice session by kicking over his golf bag in frustration. He then went at it full bore for 55 minutes, most of which was with his driver. At one point, he handed the club to Steve Williams, who put it back into the bag, but Tiger grabbed it back immediately and started working with it again. Hank Haney was on the scene the entire time, and it appeared the two of them were working on alignment for much of that time.

Yes, Tiger hit some loose shots today (a wild layup on the 13th into the gallery and a missed green on the 18th from only 120 yards). Clearly something needed fixing. But if he can't start dropping some putts, he has no chance. So far this week tiger is 18th in Greens in Regulation. But he's in the bottom 25% in total putts.

It's almost exactly how he played in the 2008 Masters. A few wild shots, a few spectacular shots and a lot of putts that almost found the bottom of the cup.

Last year Tiger was 1-under through 36 holes and 7 shots back of leader Trevor Immelman. This year Tiger is 2-under and 7 shots behind Campbell and Perry.

Can Tiger make up ground? Of course -- and especially on an Augusta National whose greens have clearly been softened this week. BUT there are a number of big name players ahead of him (Perry, Ogilvy, Mickelson, Furyk, Stenson and Singh in particular). I expect a few to slip between now and Sunday, but not all of them. Tiger must make a charge, and unless he wants to fight the history that says he's won all 14 of his majors with the 54-hole lead, Tiger must make that charge in Round 3.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

MASTERS: Lane's Return...

The way Augusta National runs is something I can only compare to one other organization in the world: the Catholic Church. In both cases, decisions are made behind closed doors by men in colorful outfits who generally don't much care what the world at large thinks. And based on our current world, I don't think that's a bad thing.

What guides both groups is a Higher Power. The Church has God, Augusta National has Bobby Jones. Thirty-eight years after Jones' death, he is still the club's President. "In Perpetuity," they add.

But as I was reminded of today, you don't have to be a member of Augusta National to feel this passionately about the place.

This afternoon, I received a text from my buddy Lane. If you remember, Lane was one of the two fellas I stayed with last April when I was following Tiger. Lane is born and raised in Augusta, a golf nut, and a self-described "good ol' boy." Even though he lives within a mile of the National, he hasn't been there since 1997. But if you even casually mention the club, he'll beam like he's the course superintendant.

Well, Lane was back at the Masters today for the first time in 12 years. When he returned from the course, he sent me a text message. He gave Furyk a pep talk, he exchanged a "Go Dawgs" with Ryjui Imada (a UGA alum), and he complimented Phil on his drive on #7. As a Tiger fan, this was hard for Lane, but he knows full well the level of decorum expected from Masters patrons.

My favorite part of Lane's story was not what he saw inside the ropes but what he did outside them. He walked to Founder's Circle (pictured above), bowed his head, and prayed. First, he thanked Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts for creating Augusta National, and then he thanked God for allowing him the opportunity to come back again. Makes me wonder why the heck I didn't try to find Lane a cheap ticket so he could join me last year. Oh yes, because the cheapest tickets I could find were $1,000 a day.

That's okay, Lane's hoping that he'll be back again on Saturday, God willing of course. And then there's Sunday, a day that both the Catholic Church and Augusta National members agree is the most sacred day of the year.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

MASTERS: Jim Nantz Prepares...

On the eve of the Masters, a special treat for golf fans...

You may be under the impression that Jim Nantz's famous Sunday calls at Augusta are spontaneous. In fact, "A win for the ages!" and many others are the product of weeks of advance preparation. For the second straight year (last year's available here), FORE RIGHT has been lucky enough to obtain a working draft of some of Jim Nantz' 2009 Masters calls!

Click below to enlarge... and there's still time before Sunday -- if you have any last-minute pitches for Jim, I can personally see that he gets them.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

MASTERS HEADLINES: Wednesday


Pimento Cheese Sandwich Returned for "Anything But This"



SCANDAL: Cartographer Claims Flag on Masters Logo Pointing to Waynesboro, not Augusta



Cleveland Businessman Becomes Disoriented in Gift Shop, Spends $12,000



Latest Tournament Forecast: Cloudy with a 30% chance of a Zach Johnson or Trevor Immelman Champion

Attention Ernie Els: A Tiger Woods Who Will Melt Under Pressure

Just in time for the Masters, the Hollywood Wax Museum is auctioning off various statues to make some extra cash. I know, can you believe that not even kitschy wax statues are recession-proof?

As someone who has been to a couple of these museums in my day, I'll only say this...

They're creepy.

Because either the statues look exactly like the celebrity (mildly creepy) or they look like a genetically mutated version of the celebrity (very creepy). Put the above statue of Tiger Woods on the outer end of that second category. By wax standards, the face is okay. But everything else is a disaster. From the foot-long neck to the Frankenstein shoulders to the "driver" that stops six inches below Tiger's waist.

Frankly, it's no wonder that the wax museum business is hurting.

FYI, the suggested bid is between $2000 and $3000. I know I have some well-meaning readers out there, but please, if a 6-foot 2-inch crate arrives on my front door anytime soon, I'm sending it back.

Monday, April 6, 2009

MASTERS Headlines: Tuesday

2009 to Be Final Masters for Gary Player, Todd Hamilton



Non-Blooming Azalea Quietly Escorted of Premises



Norman Suspected of Moving Tee Markers Closer to Hole



Security Guard Unamused by "We Don't Need No Stinkin' Badges" Quip

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Beauty of Shot Tracker...

It's pretty amazing, really. With the help of 21st century technology, volunteers at Tour events can simply push buttons on a handheld device and the rest of the world instantly knows how each competitor in the field is playing their current hole.

The problem with this, however, is that not all volunteers at Tour events are super familiar with pushing buttons. Or handheld devices. Hence this breakdown (click to enlarge) of how Freddie Couples played the par-5 8th hole on Sunday.By all reports, Redstone Golf Club was setup like Augusta, but based on the 3rd shot Freddie supposedly hit, the grass on their fairways must have been cut even shorter than their greens...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Transcript: Inside the Tour's Newest Support Group

The following is an exclusive Fore Right transcript from the PGA Tour's new How Come I Still Stink Since Knee Surgery? support group.

Len Mattiace: First let's go around, introduce ourselves, and say what brought us here today...

Brad: Hi, my name is Brad, and I have yet to win a golf tournament since my ACL surgery 4 years ago.

Hi Brad.

Vijay: My name is Vijay, and since my knee surgery, I haven't even had a top-10. And I won the FedEx Cup. (off blank stares) The FedEx Cup! (still nothing) Oh forget it.

Hi Vijay.

Ernie: Hi, my name is Ernie and since I blew out my knee water tubing, I actually have won a PGA event... (scattered applause) ...but it was only the Honda Classic.

Hi Ernie.

Len: Now I'm sure this was a tough week for most of you because of Tiger's win.

Vijay: I don't want to talk about it.

Len: But we have to talk about it, Vijay. That's why we're here. This is a safe place.

Ernie: I'll talk. It's just not fair. I should have won that tournament. I should have been the one shaking Arnie's hand.

Vijay: But you didn't even enter it.

Ernie: What's the point? So I can finish 10 shots out of the lead and be done with my round before Mr. Wonderful even tees off?

Brad: Can I say something?

Len: Yes, Brad, go ahead.

Brad: Ernie, you should really focus on your short game. Hard to beat a hot putter, that's what I always say.

Ernie: Really? And just where did you finish last week, Brad?

Brad: Nine-over.

Ernie: We're doomed...

Len: Now, now...

Vijay: Hey, I just realized, the last time Ernie won a major, Rory McIlroy was only 13.

Ernie: Stop it.

Vijay: Danny Lee was 11.

Ernie: I'm serious.

Vijay: Just saying, maybe next time you'll think twice before letting a boat pull you around in an innertube at 40mph.

Ernie: That's it!

Ernie lunges across the table as Vijay reaches for his Swing Stick.

Ernie: Not my knee!

Vijay:
Mine too! And back.

Ernie: Deal.

They wrestle each other to the ground.

Len: So same time next week work for everybody?

Brad: It will just be me next week. The other guys are going to Augusta.

Len: That's no way to think -- maybe you'll win the Shell Houston Open this week...

Vijay: (from under the table) Yeah, right!

Brad: You're going down, old man!

Brad jumps into the fray.