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March 10, 2003
Volume II, Issue 5
 
Fringe Clippings
 
Dang, even I could have broken 100
 
The season opening Mercedes Championship was a walk in the park for Ernie Els. Apparently several players thought it was just too easy. They complained that the pin positions were not tough enough. Their wish was heard loud and clear, as tour officials have adjusted. Since then, not even Tiger has dominated a course yet. Justin Leonard had this to say: "If we're not going to play tougher courses, we should make the courses we play a little bit tougher." It has long been thought that tougher pins are the surest solution to making a golf course harder.
 
Even Jack will be in awe
 
Jack Nicklaus is set to accept "The Muhammad Ali Sports Legend Award" on March 15 at Celebrity Fight Night IX. Ali himself will present Nicklaus with the award. Actress Halle Berry and Comedian Billy Crystal will also be honored that night.
 
Ah, harmony at last
 
The USGA and R & A have finally agreed to test the spring-like effect of driving clubs at every tournament. It will be a portable testing unit and the new test will require only a low-speed strike to the clubface by a small weight on a pendulum. To have this test available on site would be similar to a service that the tour provides currently for measuring grooves on players' clubs to make sure they conform to the Rules of Golf. The new test will not go into effect until at least the 2004 tour season.
 
Well, you can get anything you want at eBay
 
The new Titleist Pro V1x golf balls won't be available in stores until April 1. That did not stop people with Benjamin's from doing it "eBay." Bidding for a dozen balls reached as high as $200 in four separate Internet auctions. One winner even paid $265.00 for a dozen. Incidentally the going bid on a three-ball sleeve is between $15 and $40.
 
 
Paralysis by Analysis
 
Match play advice
 

Much like the feelings that the boys of summer illicit in the sandlot ball player that lives inside us all, the competitive fires start to burn within our chili dipping souls to experience the one on one thrill of MATCH PLAY! Now since all you weekend warriors will be feeling compelled to challenge all your buddies at the club to a tournament of 16, I have prepared some advice for you. Ignore me at your own risk, but take it from an accomplished first round "exitee", this is what you want to be doing.
  1. Always start the match with your favorite driving apparatus. If you stripe your three wood down the center of the short grass with great consistency but tend to spray your driver, then use your friggin' three wood! Use it regardless of the length of the hole! This will keep your next shot from being a recovery shot and a four iron out of the fairway is always better than a six from behind the halfway house.

  2. Be the first to concede a putt. Now that you have picked yourself up off the floor from laughing at me, hear me out. When you concede the first putt in a match you have accomplished two things. First, your opponent is compelled to give you one later. But more importantly, you have given your opponent one less putt to build confidence upon. Confidence in match play is everything.

  3. Do not talk about the match with your partner until it's over. Play the psychological advantage whether you're up or down. By not talking about the match as it happens, it appears as if your mind is somewhere else — when in reality, of course, you're as bowling ball sharp as you always are.

  4. Know your opponent's game. This advice is somewhat redundant, as it is always good to know your opponent's game in any competitive format, but it is most important in match play. This is because your strategy can change from shot to shot. If your opponent is adept at chipping and regularly misses the green you know you will keep having to two-putt throughout the match just to keep up. However, in the event that your partner plays a fade and certain holes set up for a draw, seize the moment and blast a left turning missile that cuts the corner.

Certainly, there is more strategy to be had in match play format than can be elaborated on here in our short format, but hopefully these little morsels of wisdom will come in handy. Match play can be a hoot. Just don't forget that this is just a silly game. If that's not possible — and for some of you I'm sure it isn't — the first step is admitting it, then please file your epithets under "self-loathing." Golf is, after all, a four-letter word.
 
 
Reading the Line
 
No commercials but plenty of distractions
 
The KKK. The Rainbow Coalition. The NCWO. I haven't watched wrestling in some time, but it sounds like a good lineup is in store for the pre-Masters grappling exhibition in front of the Augusta National entrance. These are the big three organizations that have announced their intention to make their presence known by marching in support of Augusta's first amendment rights or in protest of their lack of women membership. So many radicals, so much wasted time. It's a good thing there will be a good tournament going on that weekend to watch. Ooh la la, I almost forgot to thank ol' Martha. She is the one responsible for the no commercials thingy-ma-bobber. Go figure. Who was the doofus that said, "No good will come of this?"
 
Yes, Martha, they allow women
 
At the end of this month the PGA TOUR will be stopping in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, for a little competition called The Players Championship. Among this event's many fine attributes is the richest purse of any event on tour. Not to mention that, pound for pound, it is the strongest field of any tournament all year.

I mention this not to assume the reader is not aware of these facts, but rather to pose an interesting point to ponder.

If the Masters does turn into the "Big Top over Augusta," then perhaps it is time to give The Players Championship its just due. The Players Championship could become golf's next Major. Its history is not as rich. Its scenery not as spectacular. And its grandeur certainly not as obvious. However, it is one of the most cherished trophies among tour players, and it is Tim Finchem's favorite event. Hmmmm...
 
Don't look like no rangatira I've ever seen
 
Michael Campbell — of European Tour fame and currently ranked 16th in the world — had some insight to lend on the new tattoo adorning the face of the once great pugilist, Mike Tyson. Campbell is of Maori tribal descent, which is the tribe that Tyson indicated his tattoo was derived from. Campbell said, ."The fact that it's on his face is significant. Traditionally only the three or four chiefs of a Maori tribe — the rangatira — have facial tattoos. But they never have the kind of spikes Tyson has. The spikes, which indicate aggression, are something only a Maori warrior would have. So the tattoo is his own personal design, and it really suits him." Umm ... I wonder what that means?
 
Survey says...
 
Recently the online version of a popular golf magazine ran a survey. Surveys are mighty popular these days on the Internet as the results can be tracked in real time. None of this is news, I am sure, to any of you, but the survey's topic — which is newsworthy — seemed rather untimely given the current sensitivity between genders in our beloved sport. The survey asked tour players and readers to rank the PGA TOUR's "best looking" wife/girlfriend. Not most supportive? Not most popular? Not even the mundane, best dressed? You heard me right. The question was BEST LOOKING! In the immortal words of Bart Simpson, "Ay, caramba!" The survey could be found just one click away from both Martha Burke's latest rant and Annika's acceptance press release for the Colonial. Thank goodness I have a bird that talks — at least he makes sense to me sometimes. Oh yeah, and everyone knows that Tiger would win that one too, not that it matters.
 
Golf is just a game
 
Everyone pay close attention now, for what I have to say next is important on a level that is much too easy to forget. Golf is just a game. What is currently happening in our world is real life and should be respected for the threat that it truly represents. I hope that everyone is supporting our troops and their families. We pray that the tournament being played in Dubai this week will be uneventful and that we can get back to the business of concentrating wholly on our beloved pastime.
 
 
 

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