October 24, 2004
Volume III, Issue 15
We come from the land down under....
When Andre Stolz won the Michelin Championship in Las Vegas, he became part of an ever-growing group of Australians who won PGA Tour events this year. He joined Stuart Appleby, Craig Parry, Adam Scott, Mark Hensby and Rod Pampling as mates who hoisted trophies. Scott has done so twice this year. That is the best showing by any country outside of the United States. It stands to reason that the U.S. should have the most success since a majority of the players on the PGA Tour are from America. Makes you wonder how the Aussies might do if they took on the U.S. in the Ryder Cup, or the triumphant Europeans for that matter.
Earl didn't raise no fool....
Tiger Woods has made a lot of money and he apparently plans to hold onto it. Why do you think he picked Florida for his primary residence? Sure, Florida has beaches and plenty of golf courses. But so does his native California. Asked recently if he planned to relocate after getting married, Woods made things pretty clear when he responded "We're definitely residing in Florida and I don't see why we should leave -- especially with zero (state) income tax.''
Distance for show, accuracy for dough...
Victor Schwamkrug can crush a ball! He leads the Nationwide Tour -- the developmental tour for the PGA Tour -- in driving distance with an average of 330.7 yards off the tee. He hit one tee shot 404 yards this year. The problem, he has about as much chance of hitting the fairway as the average person has in trying to spell Schwamkrug. He hit only 50.7 percent of the fairways and missed 10 cuts in 16 events. He's earned just $23,884 to rank 133rd on the Nationwide money list. Until he gains control of that driver, watch out. And if he does gain control, well then the Tour players can watch out.
Still more fun than the options....
Annika Sorenstam, all ready an LPGA Hall of Famer. She's accomplished just about everything there is to accomplish in women's golf. But if players keep laying down for her the way Grace Park did at the Samsung World Championship, perhaps Sorenstam can make it to Kathy Whitworth's record of 88 wins. Sorenstam overcame a three-shot deficit with five holes to play to win for the 54th time on the LPGA Tour. "It's just tough to keep motivating yourself and go out there and grind because the competition is so tough now and you have to do it every day. I have a lot of interests that one of these days I want to pursue. . . If someone would have told me if I won 20 times, would you be happy and would you quit I probably would have said yes. But here I am a little later and still grinding and still enjoying it.''
Has anyone seen my Par?
There is no greater penalty in golf (outside of disqualification) than to go OB, Out of Bounds. Especially from off the tee because it's usually your longest shot. The penalty, of course, is stroke and distance.
For instance let's say you stripe one right off the toe and that sucker is screaming through the air and turning, much to your chagrin, left, left, left. Although its total distance traveled is the equivalent of two and a half football fields, the last half was sideways! If the ball should be found on the wrong side of the white stake - used to mark the out of bounds area - you will hit again from the tee box after charging yourself an extra stroke. In other words, you're teeing off with your third shot, and your position is plus or minus 150 - 250 yards behind where you most likely should be! Dang, doesn't that suck?
Let's try, as they say in nautical terms, to keep it between the navigational beacons.
First we must determine our skill level. If every club in our bag goes the same distance and really has no flight orders other than gravity eventually pulling it back to earth, then please, please, please meet us at the 19th hole. However if you can determine common distances that you hit each club, then select your most accurate club for your tee shots, relative to the distance you need it to travel and factoring in the width of the fairway. Note to reader: I said need, not want! Quite often this will mean taking a three wood instead of driver or a five iron instead of a three iron. Hit it only as far as you need to get to make your next shot a playable one. Just because it does not go as far as you are capable of hitting a ball on your best day, does not mean it was not a great shot. It's called golf course management! If you are a little further back on your second shot, what does it really matter? At least you are in play for a change.
Secondly, swing easy for gosh sakes! By swinging easy, the tension that is built up in your body is released and allows your arms, hands and hips to turn away from and then back toward the target without resistance. Ty Webb would call it "being the ball," but we just like to refer to it as not being a tight wad.
Lastly, if you do go OB, don't be the guy who kicks the ball out of the forbidden territory and back in play. There are too many of us ... um, I mean, those guys out there already. Take your Castor Oil as it is served to you! Stroke and distance for each time you go OB.
The Out of Bounds area is designated as such for many different reasons, but I won't go into that here. Just know that you can't change it! That's right, I said you can't change the rules. You can change your socks, though. Try going out with some of those little 80's style shorties with the pom-poms on the back. Those were cool, weren't they?
One last thought: if the guy standing next to your ball is barbecuing, you are almost guaranteed to be out of bounds.
Me? You talking to me?
It takes a lot to annoy the Big Easy, but the PGA Tour managed to do so. It recently sent the South African star, ranked No. 2 in the world, a letter stating that it expects him to play more on the PGA Tour in 2005 and less in Europe. To that, Els said, "Don't put a padlock around me, because that's not going to work.'' At the center of the problem are little known PGA Tour rules. To remain a member of the tour, a player must compete in a minimum of 15 events per year. Els has already met the requirement. In fact, he'll have played 17 events through the Tour Championship. But in order to play any other tournament that conflicts with a PGA Tour event, a player must receive a "release,'' -- in effect, permission -- from the tour. For playing 15 events, you get three releases. But Els plays a full schedule in Europe. He has clinched the European money title. He has played six events, the majors and two World Golf events, that count on both tours, but another nine in Europe. The PGA Tour is saying Els either needs to play less in Europe or more on the PGA Tour in order to secure those releases. Good luck. The PGA Tour runs the risk of pushing Els away. He could simply give up his tour membership, play the majors and world events, get a few sponsor exemptions and play even less in America. Is that what Tim Finchem and the tour want?
Playing like their career depended on it....
The top three finishers at the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro were all ranked outside of the top 125 on the money list entering the tournament. All are now assured of full-time jobs next year on the PGA Tour. Brent Geiberger (144th heading in), Michael Allen (153rd) and Chris Smith (152nd) were each facing a return trip to the PGA Tour's Qualifying Tournament if they didn't make a load of cash in the tour's remaining three weeks. By finishing 1-2-3, they will be among the top 125 -- the magic number for a full exemption. Anyone outside of the top 125 is at the mercy of the size of fields and their priority on the money list. Anyone outside of the top 150 has no status and can only regain it by earning one of 30 tour cards at the qualifying tournament. For Allen, the finish was especially important. He's been to Q-School 11 times, gaining his card six times.
Position means everything...
Vijay Singh has wrapped up the money title and player of the year honors. But there's still plenty of goodies on the plate. Your place on the money list can carry with it some pretty nice benefits. Yes, there are those trying to hang onto their tour cards, but there is also a battle for invitations to the big tournaments. Anyone who is in the top 30 through the Chrysler Championship on Oct. 31 gets into the $6-million Tour Championship, where last place pays about $90,000. Nice week. The top 30 also means a trip to the U.S. Open next year. The top 40 get in the Masters. And the top 20 after the Tour Championship get in the British Open. If that's not enough, anyone within the top 70 gets a spot in next year's invitationals, Bay Hill, Colonial and Memorial.
Less can be more...
The Champions Tour is ending its season, and does anybody notice? The Charles Schwab Cup Championship in California is the final event of the year, a 30-play tour championship that gets lost in the sports shuffle. Golf has a hard time being recognized when the baseball playoffs are on-going, and the NFL and college football seasons are in full force. Why not cut back that senior schedule a bit? The Champions Tour is constantly faced with losing and replacing tournaments. It might be better to simply pare down the schedule to say, 20 - 24 events, making sure the marquee players are in more fields. Start in February and end at Labor Day, and forget the fight against football.