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November 18, 2003
Volume II, Issue 18
 
Fringe Clippings
 
Ain't no Sunshine for casey
 
Casey Martin has always been a long baller, but after finishing this season 56th in driving distance on the Nationwide Tour it may be time to re-evaluate choice of profession. Moreover, and more importantly, he did not finish in the top 100 on the Nationwide Tour money list and made only 11 of 22 cuts.
 
Ya play 70 rounds, and whadaya get?
 
Annika Sorenstam won her sixth tournament of the year this past weekend, and she did it running away from the field. She will undoubtedly win player of the year for the LPGA Tour, but because she has only completed 54 rounds this season, she will not claim the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average. The Tour requires 70 rounds be completed to claim this award. Incidentally, Se Ri Pak will almost surely win the scoring average title.
 
White men can jump
 
Chad Campbell, winner of the season ending Tour Championship, is by far the biggest leaper on tour as well. Campbell jumped from 26th in the world rankings to 14th this week! Don’t look now, but Lefty Mickelson – absent for the first time in the Tour Championship field since 1993 – is number 13 and in serious danger of being “Souped” by Campbell!
 
Just do it? Not following their own advice.
 
Nike has pulled out of the 2004 PGA Merchandise Expo booth business. Nike typically displays their wares in a booth the size of a city block at this, the golf industry’s largest tradeshow. This year they will introduce their new products at the new product-testing center, which is also a first for the show. The apparent downsizing of Nike’s participation in this show mirrors similar actions by other golf industry giants.
 
 
Paralysis by Analysis
 
Inspired by low-ball Texans
 
Amateur golfers and professional golfers alike all must battle the challenges of Mother Nature. There are no exceptions to this reality. The trick is to learn how to minimize the negative effects of organic conditions and, when possible, to turn them into an aid.

Typically, the greatest natural weather obstacle for a golfer is wind. Rain, snow and hail certainly can affect ball flight but none are played in as regularly as a mild to wild zephyr, so for the purposes of this dialogue we will be restricting our efforts to the aforementioned.

Typically, golfers in coastal areas are more adept at playing in stiff breezy weather, but even those in the middle ground — Kansas, for example — should be learning how to account for the bedeviling effect of this cruel handicap.

Here are some keys to playing in the wind that should help to keep your scorecard in double digits and closer to par:
  1. Club selection — When facing into a wind (headwind) for every five miles per hour the wind appears to be blowing choose one more club. Use the opposite philosophy for hitting with the wind. Do not trick yourself into believing the wind can help you carry the ball 250 with a four iron either!
  2. Swing plane — Unless you are a single digit handicapper, do not swing any differently than you normally would. If you are an accomplished player, then be sure to always take a simple ¾ swing to avoid getting too much air under that ball.
  3. Look for Tree Tops — Although the wind may appear to be blowing into your face, it does not necessarily mean that it will be doing the same thing 50 feet in the air. Look at the tops of nearby trees to indicate what direction the wind is actually blowing.
  4. Balls — Choose a lower spinning ball when playing in the wind. The new line of low-trajectory, low-spinning golf balls really do perform better in the wind than high-spinning accuracy balls.
The wind can become your friend if you let it. Simply account for it by knowing where it is, how much it is blowing, follow club wind selection guidance, and then trust your judgment.

And for the record if it is snowing, lightning or hailing and you find yourself desperate for advice on how to combat the elements on the course ... seek help immediately at your local 12 step program for golfers anonymous because you have it bad! Of course, when the weather improves, call me. You sound like my kind of wild and crazy golfer.
 
 
Reading the Line
 
For the love of speculation!
 
In an effort to be succinct – which often fails miserably due to my persistent ability to digress into variegated topics like my incurable need for statistical analysis to support the idea that Annika Kournikova is a real tennis player – sorry what was I talking about?

Oh yes, in an effort to be succinct let us look at the player of the year candidates:
  1. Tiger Woods – Scoring leader, most wins, top ten finishes in 2/3 of tournaments entered and overall golf stud to the globe.
  2. Vijay Singh – Leading money winner, top ten finishes in 2/3 of tournaments entered and overall golf workhorse.
Tiger does have more wins. His scoring average is nearly half a stroke better. It took playing in ten more tournaments for any one person to beat his bank account. Even if the accomplishments were even – and clearly they are not – ask any tour player who they fear more in the field week in and week out. The answer has not changed. Tiger is the player of the year.
 
And from across the pond...
 
The Seve Trophy was won the second weekend in November by the England/Ireland Team. The tournament is an affair played each year between a team from the aforementioned against the rest of the Continental European world. Colin Montgomerie heads the England/Ireland team and Seve Ballesteros skippers the C.E. Team.

Two of the most well-liked and well-respected competitors on any tour, Padraig Harrington and Jose Maria Olazabal, are now involved in a soap opera-like controversy that has the European Tour buzzing. Harrington called into question Olazabal’s fixing of divots on a green during their match. When Harrington confronted Olazabal about the possible infraction, Olazabal conceded the hole. The normally jovial and friendly pair played the next 15 holes in “awkwardness” that Harrington acknowledged as “not worth losing a friendship over.” I was not in attendance for said circumstance and cannot speak as to the specifics over who was in the wrong. It does beg an interesting question though, does it not? I mean, did anyone really know that Colin Montgomerie and Seve Ballesteros still played golf?
 
Vegas Show Girls replace male caddies on 2004 PGA Tour...not really
 
Is it sport or show? Money is not everything. It is a lot, and no one will ever deny that. But it should not be everything. The time has now come to approve the power of veto for commissioner Tim Finchem. He does not possess the ability to say that a person can not play in a tournament even if they have not qualified to do so. Perhaps the time has come that he should be able to do so.Michelle Wie,the14 year-old wunderkind, recently accepted a sponsor's exemption to the Sony Open in Hawaii at the beginning of the PGA Tour's 2004 season. Forgive the bluntness on my part, but what in the name of "Enron-like bank account padding" are we really talking about? Michelle Wie is undoubtedly the lottery ticket that every tournament would love to possess, but at what cost? Mr. Finchem and Mr. Wie, perhaps it is time you recalledyour childhood and realized that childhood is a stepping stone of learning events. Baseball does not allow star little leaguers to play in the majors. They work their way up through ever increasing competitive levels. Should Golf not extend the same protective courtesy to Miss Wie?
 
Final thoughts from the 19th...
 
Vijay Singh deserves something to acknowledge his year. If I can get his address would everyone agree to send him a hug? ... While Singh has played Darth Vader in this tour season’s Jedi jousting, Ernie Els has quietly “Obiwan Kenobi’d” himself a stellar season by finishing as the world’s number three player, winning six times world-wide and gaining the European Tour’s Order of Merit for being its leading money winner ... Bring on the President’s Cup and the long awaited matches of Ernie vs. Tiger and Vijay vs. Tiger in mano-a-mano combat. Let’s get ready to rumble! ... Long ball my a--! Hank Kuehne, the PGA Tour's driving distance leader at 321.4 yards, and partner Jeff Sluman won the Franklin Templeton Shootout in Naples this past weekend. Guess what? Kuehne didn't make the winning 4-foot birdie putt with his driver. Lesson for you long ball specialists? Even big Hank has to carry a flat stick.
 
 
 

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