Friday, July 31, 2009

Yep, Daly Is Back!

A smooth 37-51=88 today for JD in the second round of the Buick Open. Finally, the Daly we know and love is back playing the way we remember.

A few quick stats:

**With a 2-day total of 164, Daly missed the cut by 24 shots.

**He finished the day 34 shots behind leader John Senden.

**Daly's second-nine 51 included one quintuple bogey, one quadruple bogey 7, one triple bogey, and one double bogey.

**His 51 on the front was 21 strokes worse than Tiger's 30 on Warwick's back nine.

**Swing coach Rick Smith followed Daly for his round. Here was his analysis: "I saw a guy I didn't know existed," Smith said. "What I saw today was scary. It was a literal disconnect. He hasn't eaten or slept in a week. His body needs food, and it's going to the muscle, and the muscle is breaking down to the point he's in a toxic state."

Okay, so maybe he should hold off on that Lap-Band commercial for a bit.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

RANDOM THOUGHTS THURSDAY: How Long Before Daly Weighs Less Than Tiger?

A year ago the answer to the above would have been "never," but JD has now lost 81 pounds off his 286-pound frame after undergoing Lap-Band surgery early in the year.

Tiger's listed weight is 185. That puts the two of them a mere 20 pounds apart.

**Keeping with the theme, 225-pound Steve Lowery currently leads at Warwick Hills after a 9-under par round of 63. His average drive on Thursday: 305 yards. But if you believe Steve Lowery owes any part of his length to time in the weight room, you've never seen Steve Lowery.

It makes me wonder just how much of a modern player's driving distance can truly be attributed to fitness. Anytime Hunter Mahan or Charles Howell III bashes a drive 330 yards, someone on TV inevitably drools over their strength. Come on. I'm not saying I'm stronger than either of them, but let's be honest, these guys aren't exactly American Gladiators. If Al Czervik met either of them, he'd hand them a twenty and tell them to put on some weight.

I say flexibility is likely a bigger factor than pure muscle, but even then, I'm going on the record saying that that no more than 5% of today's current distances off the tee have anything to do with what happens in the fitness trailer. Anyone think I'm way off?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lingering Thoughts on Turnberry...

As anyone who has double-bogeyed the 18th hole to shoot 80 knows, there are 5 stages of grief. I've found myself traveling through them this week in the wake of Tom Watson's failure to get up and down. I may have finally turned the corner, but let me share with you how I got here:

1) Denial -- The first 30 seconds after Watson made bogey on 18 -- "Maybe Cink signed an incorrect scorecard... maybe Cink will feel such guilt that he will concede the playoff to Watson... or maybe he'll just throw it?" (I still say that would have been a good idea. As much as everyone agrees Stewart is a class act, for the rest of his career his appearance on any leaderboard will create a Pavlovian response that makes golf fans shake their heads and wonder what could have been...)

2) Anger -- During the playoff -- "You got screwed, Tom Watson! That was bull crap." "But even so, could you have at least scared the cup with your par putt? I mean, really. My wife looks more competent playing mini-golf with a rubber-headed putter!"

3) Bargaining -- During the trophy ceremony -- "Tell you what, if you just win the Open at St. Andrews next year, I'll forgive you. Or maybe you win the PGA at Hazeltine. I mean, you've won 8 majors but never a PGA. Now that would be incredible, career Grand Slam at 59? Yeah, just do that."

4) Depression -- Sunday night thru Tuesday night -- "Who am I kidding? That was Watson's last hurrah. And not just Watson's, that might be golf's last hurrah. Tiger's not getting to 18 majors, Tom's not getting to 9, I'm never going to break 80 again, let alone par. Did I have that mole last week? I'm dying, aren't I? Sorry kids, Daddy's not getting out of bed today. Or any day."

5) Acceptance -- Wednesday -- "Well, it's over. I can't tell my kids that I witnessed the greatest victory in golf history, but I can tell them I witnessed the most painful loss in golf history. That's something, right? And it's golf. It's not like Tom Watson climbed Mt. Everest without oxygen to save an elderly climber, carried her the entire way back down to base camp only to slip and drop her into a 3,000 foot crevice. Now that would have been tragic."

See, there's a positive way to spin everything!

Another positive to come out of the 2009 Open is a renewed commitment to plan a golf trip to Scotland while I still have some semblance of a game. Before this week, I might have skipped Turnberry, but now I can't imagine not playing the Ailsa Course.

A good friend just finished up a 2-year stint working in Europe and managed to cover a lot of hallowed ground while he was there. Last May he had a crack at the Ailsa. He's a low single-digit player and wisely predicted that without the wind, the pros "would kill it" (Thursday). But with the wind, they would have their hands full (Friday-Sunday). He also took this great picture of #16, which shows the slope and severity of drop-off that the TV coverage never accurately showed. Too bad the R&A didn't want to leave those hideous ball retrievers on the slope during tournament play.

I can already picture my perfect day there. I'll wake up in the Watson suite at Turnberry's 100-year-old hotel. I'll summon my inner Tom as I grip my wife's hand and walk down that long flight of stairs to the range. I'll decipher the wind off the firth of Clyde like the world's best meteorologist. I'll make miracle pars from pot bunkers. I'll hit 4-irons that roll 200 yards. And then, if all goes according to plan... I'll have a complete meltdown on the 18th green as a gleeful Stewart Cink tears my heart out and slams it into the cup.

I think I'm slipping back into depression again.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Who Wants $20?

Hello Readers -- My friends at Dick's Sporting Goods want your golf business. Besides a large selection of clubs, they also do custom fitting, trade-ins, golf club regripping and more. You can read about all of Dick's golf services here.

And since Dick's knows that Fore Right readers wisely blame their golf clubs rather than golf swing for all on-course meltdowns, they want to send one of you a $20 gift card to win you over.

To enter, just email me -- -- and tell me which two Tour pros get in a fight in Dick's latest commercial. At the end of the week, I'll throw the names in a hat (might need a big hat) and pull out a winner.

More Pain, Less Gain

I'm still not over the British Open. In fact, now I'm just finding other painful moments to relive from Sunday. Here is the latest cringe-inducing scene from the weekend -- Lee Westwood interrupting his post-round press conference to watch Watson's par putt on the 72nd. If Watson makes it, Westwood's 3-putt on the last is irrelevant.

But if Watson misses, it means Westwood's stumble on 18 just kept him out of the playoff for the major he wants more than any other.

Enjoy! Or, actually, probably not.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

BRITISH OPEN: Thoughts on Turnberry, 10 Hours Later

I've given myself the rest of the day before sitting down to write this, hoping that in time perhaps the pain would dull or, better still, the outcome would change. Neither have happened, of course, and so it is that I'm left with what can only be defined as the greatest disappointment I've ever experienced in a lifetime of watching sports.

And I'm not even someone who had ever called myself a true Tom Watson fan. As a kid, I remember always confusing him with Tom Kite, which I know to an older generation is sacrilege. What I distinctly remember is watching Watson two years ago at Whistling Straits during the 2007 U.S. Senior Open. He carried a three-shot lead into Sunday, shot a 43 on the back nine and lost by a bunch. That was the Tom Watson I expected to show up Friday... and then Saturday... and then Sunday.

But long before he tapped in for birdie on the 71st green to take a one-stroke lead to the last, I was a convert. Tom Watson wasn't just smoke and mirrors this week. He was the smartest man in the field, playing with the sweetest swing.

All he needed was a par at 18. And he hit his first two shots exactly the way he intended. First three shots, really.

The fact that three well-played shots could only get Tom Watson eight feet from the hole was cruel enough. Surely this game that we adore couldn't be so mean as to leave Tom Watson with a putt he had to make. Frankly, his mettle over the first 71 1/2 holes deserved a tap-in for the greatest major triumph of all time.

Tom's old buddy Andy North tried to calm our worst fears by saying, confidently, Tom will make this. And why not, he had done it 32 years ago, on the exact same hole, in one of golf's other greatest moments.

I paused the action and called my three year old to the TV, explaining to him through a trembling voice the significance of what was about to take place.

Instead, what we witnessed was a 59-year-old legend remembering one stroke too soon how old he truly was.

The Open's 4-hole playoff may be the game's most sensible system for crowning a champion, but following that putt it felt unkind, bordering on inappropriate. It was all I could do to fast forward until the inevitable became official: Tom Watson, runner-up at the 138th Open Championship.

With eight major titles, I'd love to believe that Tom Watson will carry on just as he had before he arrived at Turnberry. My gut tells me that he'll relive that 72nd hole for the rest of his life.

I'm a long way from 59, but at that age, it sure seems like you're supposed to be moving past life's regrets, not adding to them.

BRITISH OPEN: Tom Watson's Inbox

During Saturday's post-round press conference, 54-hole leader Tom Watson confessed that he had been inundated with text messages from, well, "everybody." While he 59-year-old was sparring with pot bunkers and crosswinds, his cell phone was working overtime back at the Turnberry Hotel, even receiving the very first text message a certain Golden Bear had ever sent.

With the final round of the Open underway, FORE RIGHT has obtained access to what Watson's friends out there are saying as he attempts to make golf history. Enjoy.

From: Jack Nicklaus

Tom this iS Jack Nicklaus. I am seNding you a "text messAge" from Barbara's cellular telephone. Hope this works. Good luck tod&Ay. Jack.

From: Dr. Neils Brooks, OB/GYN, London
So what's it worth to you if I induce labor on Ross Fisher's wife? Just putting it out there...

From: Mitch Holberg, Agent
Yo Tommy -- Just got the specs on the Flomax deal. 7-figures, 2 years, and you don't have to film any commercials with you running into a port-o-potty. We in or out?

From: T. Woods
If nothing else, glad to see another T.W. out of Stanford on top. FYI, Matthew Goggin is highly allergic to peanuts. Drop a Snickers down his bag on #1 tee.

From: Jean Van de Velde
If you happen to be in the lead on the 72nd hole, grab your wedge, a ball, a putter and toss everything else into the Firth of Clyde.

From: T-Mobile Customer Service
Dear Mr. Watson. This text is to inform you that your phone is not currently set up with an international calling plan and as a result, you are being charged roaming fees for every text sent and opened. Your July bill currently stands at $139,752.

From: Sandy Lyle
Just wanted to let you know that Monty's a cheating bastard. Haven't been following the Open. You make the cut?

From: Steve McPherson, President ABC

From: Gary Player

I know you think you're hot stuff because you might tie me today with 9 majors, but I just ran a half-marathon and followed it up with some antelope wrestling. I say bring it, pansy..

From: Mitch Holberg, Agent
Tommy Boy -- Be honest, how much do you really like Adams clubs?

From: Steve Williams
Watson -- U in the market for a new looper? My guy's leaking oil fast and I'd like a player with some good years ahead of him.

From: Jack Nicklaus
Tom, Jack Nicklaus hereE. Not sure if my previOus message sent via Barbara's phone went thru. I didn't get a confORmation,,, the phone just made a "WHOOSH" sound as the message disappeared. ?? Anyway, good luck my friend. (This is Jack Nicklaus.)

From: Mitch Holberg, Agent
Any desire to be LPGA Commissioner? Just think about it.

From: Frank Lickliter II
For the record, I'm currently leading the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee. It's a PGA Tour event and there are many golfers you're vaguely familiar with playing in it. Just thought someone should know.

From: Harry Vardon
To answer your first question, yes, there is golf in heaven. And, obviously, text messaging. Just want to say that you may very well tie me with 6 Open titles today, but I don't consider any majors valid if they weren't won while wearing a three-piece suit.

From: Old Tom Morris
Ignore Vardon. Majors won in ugly sweaters should definitely count, especially at age 59. Hell, when I played, most golfers your age were already dead.

From: Greg Norman
I consider my thunder officially stolen.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

BRITISH OPEN: Where Would A Watson Victory Rank In Golf History?

Golf Digest's Jaime Diaz gives his breakdown here, comparing the possibility of a Watson win to 10 of golf's greatest triumphs.

What Diaz points out is that this is more than an old guy winning some golf tournament.

-It would be Open win number 6, tying Watson with the legendary Harry Vardon.

-It would be Watson's 9th major, tying him with Gary Player and Ben Hogan.

-And yes, he would be the oldest major winner ever... by 11 years!

As I said yesterday, Waston's mindset is different than Norman's was last year. If he can shoot 69, I say the Claret Jug is his. All depends on the weather, of course, and that putter, but not sure another 71 will be good enough.

Now excuse me while I go position the pins and needles on my couch.

BRITISH OPEN: Tom Watson's Courtesy Car

TURNBERRY, Scotland -- Tom Watson arrives for Round 3 of the British Open. Watson claims to be 59 and is tied with Steve Marino through two rounds. Sources say it is the same car Greg Norman used in last year's Open.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Why Watson '09 Trumps Norman '08

Every year at the Open, the golf world tells plenty of tales about an Old Tom, but it's always Morris, not Watson. Now at 59 years, 316 days, and 4 hours old (dear Granny Watson was kind enough to give me her son's actual time of birth) the 5-time Open winner finds himself tied for the lead through 36 holes.

His wilting seems inevitable and through seven holes of Friday's round, I thought I was witnessing it. Shots from the weeds went nowhere, makeable putts never had a chance, and one began to fear that Tom might join Ben Curtis as a fellow Thursday leader who would ultimately miss the Friday cut.

Instead, of course, Watson played his closing 10 holes in 4-under par, closed with a 32 and ended the day right back where he started at 5-under. This from a guy who had a hip replaced last October.

For as much as the golf world was pulling for a Greg Norman triumph at Birkdale last year, for me a Watson victory in 2009 would easily be the better tale. After all, Watson is at his core a golfer. He keeps a busy playing schedule, rarely misses majors, and appears to love the added challenges that come with playing well at an age when most golfers are edging closer to the forward tees.

Norman, on the other hand, considers himself a king, splitting time between his winery, his design projects and canoodling with his superstar wife. Golf is an afterthought, though I suspect this is as much a defense against facing his demons as it is true disinterest.

While Watson wants to win as badly as Norman wanted it last year, the difference is that Tom Watson truly believes he can. Last year all we heard from Norman inbetween rounds was how low his expectations were. After Watson's second-round 70, TNT cut to him gazing lovingly at the Claret Jug, inspecting his name in its 5 different places. When he was asked if he thought his name could land on there a 6th time, he smiled warmly and said, "I wouldn't be here if I didn't think it could."

If the self-described "old fart" believes he can do it, it makes it that much easier for us to hope for the same.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

BRITISH OPEN: Adam Scott WD's Because of "Bitchin' Swell"

TURNBERRY, Scotland -- Passionate surfer and occasional pro golfer Adam Scott withdrew from the 138th Open Championship on Thursday before sprinting off the course after seeing what he thought was a "massive set" building on Turnberry Bay.

Excusing himself from playing partners David Duval and Nick Dougherty, Scott picked up his ball and scrambled down the rocks near the 10th hole, yelling "Dude!" excitedly and removing his clothes as he went.

Upon reaching the Bay, however, Scott realized the set was merely the wake from a passing fishing boat.

BRITISH OPEN: Sergio's Putters Mistaken for Taylor Made Demo Day

TURNBERRY, Scotland -- A late-night British Open practice session turned sour Wednesday evening when dozens of players mistook Sergio Garcia's lineup of potential putters as a Taylor Made demo day, sources report. Justin Rose began reaching for a 35" Rossa Spyder when Garcia let out a "Don't touch that!" from the other side of Turnberry's putting green. Mike Weir had a similar experience when he
picked up a belly-length Rossa Monza.

"Hey, I might use that!" Garcia barked.
"But it's left-handed..." Weir pointed out.
"Just put it down!" the Spainard answered.

Included in the array of flatsticks were a Spalding Bulls Eye from the 1970s, an original Ping Anser and what appeared to be just a cutdown R7 Driver.

BRITISH OPEN: Tiger Seeks Low Profile at Turnberry

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Stricker Celebrates Win By Shooting John Deere Trophy

Six-time Tour winner and avid hunter Steve Stricker "couldn't help [him]self" on Sunday as he shot and fatally wounded the metallic deer that was perched on top of the John Deere Classic winner's trophy.

"If it had been a doe, I would have let her go, what with her having to care for her babies and all," he explained. "But this was a buck and he just had that look on his face, one of those 'I'm-better-than-you-because-I'm-on-a-trophy' kinda grins." The hunting rifle, which Stricker keeps in his bag under a headcover marked "9-wood," was retrieved by his caddy shortly after the completion of the trophy ceremony.

The deer was not felled on one shot, however, as Stricker's first attempt went wide, leaving a sizeable crater in the 18th green. The second shot was a direct strike to the abdomen, and Stricker assured concerned fans that the buck went quickly and felt no pain.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

BREAKING: Tour Players Pay Tribute to Michael Jackson

EAST MOLINE, Illinois -- In a touching nod to the King of Pop, nearly all the PGA Tour pros at this week's John Deere Classic plan to sport gloves on just one hand. Tour commissioner Tim Finchem would not comment on the matter.

UPDATED: 5:00pm EST -- The one-glove tribute to Michael Jackson has really caught fire and is extending beyond the PGA Tour to all major world golf tours, a source has confirmed. "They're all doing it... PGA, LPGA, European, Nationwide, Futures, Asian... even the Sunshine Tour!!"

UPDATED: 5:30PM EST -- In a story that will not stop gathering momentum, I'm now getting reports that ALL GOLFERS, professional and amateur, have taken up the torch and can be seen wearing just one glove. From the public driving ranges to the most prestigious country clubs, golfers around the world are uniting in what Jackson fans are calling the "single most touching tribute yet." According to my sources, the lone holdouts at this point are current U.S. Open champ Lucas Glover (no glove), 1992 Masters champ Fred Couples (no glove) and Former Big Break star Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey (two gloves).

Saturday, July 4, 2009

AT&T: How Big is This Matchup? Bigger Than You Think

It's late Saturday night, fireworks can be heard booming in the distance and I'm as excited as I've been all year about Tour golf. Make no mistake, this final round pairing of Anthony Kim and Tiger Woods is a very big deal, and not just because CBS says so.

It is this simple: what transpires tomorrow in Woods v. Kim could have a very big impact on the trajectory of Tiger's next ten years on Tour. And here's why:

If AK can beat Tiger tomorrow, it won't just catapult Kim, it will give every other 20-something the evidence they've been waiting for to believe it can be done. Tiger is the greatest, but he doesn't blow fields away like he once did. Young players are getting better, stronger, longer. They are not scoffing at Tiger's book, they're memorizing it. And more and more Tiger is being helped by one very useful weapon -- the perception that he can not be beaten with a lead on Sunday.

And for good reason, of course. The last time he lost with a 54-hole lead was the 2004 Tour Championship, before many of those 20-somethings even had their Tour card.

Tiger may talk of how he can only control his own game, but as the son of a Green Beret, he is well aware of his biggest threats. And he has quite the history of eliminating them.

Early on, it was Ernie Els who seemed most poised to challenge him, but at the 1998 Johnnie Walker Classic, Tiger came from eight back on Sunday to beat him. The defeat stung. And so did all the defeats that followed, with Tiger was once heard saying that if he could just step on Els one more time, maybe he wouldn't get up. Ernie hasn't won a major in 1997.

At the 1999 PGA, it was a young, bouncy 19-year-old Spainard named Sergio Garcia who was not particularly seem scared of Tiger, laughing his way around Medinah while Tiger scowled. Tiger held him off too, then flat out destroyed him at the 2007 British Open. Now 29, Sergio is still majorless.

Kim has Sergio's old spirit, twice the bounce and none of the spite. And when AK says he's excited about playing with Tiger tomorrow, I actually believe it. The last thing Tiger wants is for a guy like this to have more confidence.

The question of course is Will He Do It? I expect Kim to be down a shot after the first few holes. But I'll put myself out there and say yes, tomorrow will be something special.

If I'm right, it might just be a bellwether moment for the game, with Tiger's march to 20 majors suddenly a lot tougher.

A little blood in the water can change things in a hurry.

Updated, Sunday 6:30PM: Alright, fine. I was wrong. Very wrong. I still say Kim's mentality is one that will spell some long term trouble for Tiger, but in playing the tactician, Woods showed a maturity that AK doesn't have. He beat him by 4, but it felt like 8. I guarantee there are a lot of younger players out there who are currently asking themselves: If Anthony Kim can't do it, how can I?

One thing I forgot to consider last night was the Federer Factor. Across the Atlantic, just before Tiger would tee off, his shaving buddy held off Andy Roddick to win his 15th Grand Slam title, and Tiger sent him a text from the range which said, "Great job. Now it's my turn."

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Groove Rule Forces Titleist to Rebrand Technology

Spurred by the PGA Tour's decision on Tuesday to go ahead with U-groove rollbacks starting in 2010, Titleist has unveiled new packaging for its Pro-V1 golf ball.