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March 25, 2005
Volume IV, Issue 5
 
Fringe Clippings
 
Stuck among the unwashed...
 
Instead of taking his private plane from South Africa to a tournament in Dubai, Ernie Els offered the plane to his wife and daughter so they could fly to London. Els booked a first-class commercial ticket to Dubai. But after saying goodbye to his family, he decided to watch a rugby match on TV with some friends. Els lingered, however, and made it to the check-in counter late. His first-class seat had been given away. The only way to board was to take an economy seat, 32F, in the middle -- a place the good-natured and tremendously wealthy Els had not visited in some 10 years. Airline staff, knowing of Els' fame and size -- he is 6-foot-3, 210 pounds -- did offer him first-class service in coach. Els said he would only accept if everyone else around him got the same treatment. Els, of course, was no worse for wear. He won the event in Dubai, then followed up with a victory in Qatar, and again leads the PGA European Tour's money list.
 
I'll wager Tiger won the wager...
 
The NFL's MVP got to play with golf's biggest draw during the pro-am for the Bay Invitational. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and Tiger Woods had so much fun, they decided to do it again later at Woods' course, Isleworth. "That's a pretty cool offer,'' Manning said. "I don't know how I can reciprocate with Tiger. I'm not going to invite him to (football) practice.'' Manning has an endorsement with MasterCard and seemed as giddy about playing with Woods as he does in the commercials. "It's just so much fun watching him hit the ball,'' Manning said. "It's fun watching him play, and he gives you a few tips now and then. It was pretty special. It was a neat day.'' Manning said the tips ended, however, once a wager was in place.
 
Maybe #1 was just being generous, nah!
 
Vijay Singh, notorious for his work habits and love for the practice tee, made an uncharacteristic gaffe on the second playoff hole at the Honda Classic. He missed a 2-foot putt, meaning victory for Ireland's Padraig Harrington. "It was a shock, and it took me a couple of seconds for it to sink in that I had won,'' Harrington said. "I wouldn't have given that putt, but I thought it was a gimme.'' A week later, Singh did it again at the Bay Hill Invitational, splashing a 7-iron approach at the final hole when tied with Kenny Perry, who won by two shots. "I was shocked,'' Perry said. "It was a big break for me.'' The difference for Singh was nearly $1 million in prize money. Not that a guy who has won some $40 million is counting. Nonetheless, Singh still regained the No. 1 ranking from Tiger Woods.
 
Like wrapping limburger cheese in a Twinkie...
 
In the moments after the Ford Championship at Doral, Phil Mickelson looked like a beaten man. He openly relished the challenge of going head-to-head with Tiger Woods. And he was unable to get it done, shooting 69 to Woods' 66 during an epic final round. But as the time passed, Mickelson seemed to come around. "With all of the feelings I have about losing, this was probably the best thing that could have happened to me heading into the majors,'' he said. "I felt like I was playing better than anybody, and I just knew that I was going to win. And when I didn't, it's a great slap in the face. I'm going to go work my tail off to salvage a couple more shots, because when I come back to the Players Championship and the Masters, I'm going to be ready.''
 
Arnie's Army receives furlough pass...
 
After 50 straight years of playing in the Masters, Arnold Palmer will go cold turkey this year -- sort of. While he will attend the past champions dinner on Tuesday of tournament week, Palmer, 75, said he will not play a practice round at Augusta National or compete in the Par-3 Contest, which is open to all invitees."I am going to give it a rest this year,'' Palmer said. "I'm going to Augusta on Tuesday and (do) what I call socialize, I suppose. . . I have no intentions of going on the golf course. For 50 straight years I played and I loved it. I enjoyed it tremendously and I would still enjoy it, but I just want to get the feel for not doing anything.''
 
 
Paralysis by Analysis
 
Try real hard to relax!
 
My goodness, how many times have you been told to relax on the golf course? If you had a way to measure this advice and how often it is dispensed your brilliance as a mathematician would be greatly sought after by NASA.

There is no need to have uptight golfers filling the courses, but I do think that trying to relax is a tad on the oxymoronic side! Golf is not and never will be Yoga or Tantra. It requires focus, concentration, physical agility and controlled aggression. Relaxing requires beach sand and a frozen umbrella drink.

Here is a different thought to carry in your bag the next time you tee it up: Be at ease. This was the advice of the late, great Harvey Penick. He felt that if you tried to relax too much, you would either become very tense trying to relax or fall over from drowsiness.

The idea of golf is to be at ease. Although there are some exceptions to this rule, not many people play good golf when they are not at ease. Again, golf is a game of controlled aggression. We are striking a ball and sending it screaming through the air at great speeds and it must drop from very high altitudes! This is not a relaxing act. It can be manipulated to a certain extent, however, through being at ease with yourself and your game.

Here are some tips to help play at-ease golf:
  • Stretch for at least ten minutes before teeing off.

  • Try not to consume caffeinated beverages before or during a round.

  • If you had a very bad day at work, just hit balls for a while to clear your mind before teeing off and help get you in golf mode.

  • Do not play for money if you cannot keep your mind off the bet.

  • If you hit a bad shot, think of the best things (spouse, kids, car, really great smoker in your back yard!) in your life to get you smiling again.

  • Play with people you like!
Each golfer will vary to some degree in figuring out what it takes to put them at ease. As long as no laws are broken and you still enjoy the game, do what you need to do to prepare to play at-ease golf.
 
 
Reading the Line
 
Just the appearance is wrong...
 
In golf, at least on the PGA Tour, if you don't play, you don't get paid. And if you play poorly, you can walk away with nothing. That makes the sport quite different in a world of guaranteed contracts and under-performing athletes. Sure, the big names have big deals. They can have a bad year and still reap a huge windfall. But those deals evaporate if the level of play falls off.

That is why International Management Group's (IMG) new idea to market players through corporate outings is the big buzz on the PGA Tour. A few weeks ago, Ford paid Vijay Singh, Padraig Harrington, Retief Goosen and Sergio Garcia -- all IMG clients -- a reported $150,000 each to participate in a Monday outing preceding the tournament. All then played in the Ford Championship at Doral.

The PGA Tour signed off on the deal, even though appearance fees to play in tournaments are prohibited. But the Tour has taken a difference stance now that word is out that IMG had sent a letter to tournament directors proposing the idea of an early-week pro-am with five top players, each of whom would be paid between $50,000 and $200,000 to participate. Those players would then look "favorably upon staying for the tournament,'' the letter said.

This is dangerous territory. What if tournaments cannot afford to pay such fees? What if players are content to take the easy cash and not give it their all when the purse is on the line? What if players won't show up unless they get an appearance fee? This is very dangerous territory than can lead to tournament purses being reshaped to pay premiums for "big name" appearances leaving a smaller purse for the competition. The rich will get richer and the struggling player will have to scramble after what will most likely be a smaller prize purse. This one looks as if IMG made an end run play around the PGA Tour. Who's in charge here, anyway? Here's hoping the PGA Tour puts an end to such paydays.
 
I screwed up and picked Chi Chi...
 
Last week I participated in a survey. One of the questions: who is your favorite golfer? I thought about Tiger, thought about Annika, and many other talented golfers and finally decided the favorite for me combines entertainment along with skill. I narrowed it down to Chi Chi Rodrigues and John Daley. Wish I could vote again! There he was, just like Roy in Tin Cup. It was so bad, it was wonderful!

Long-hitting John Daly added to his lore during the final round of the Bay Hill Invitational, making an 11 at the par-4 18th hole after four times trying in vain to hit his ball from the rocks beside the green. Ah, you have to love John Daly. In 1998, Daly recorded the highest score in Bay Hill history at the par-5 sixth when he repeatedly failed at driving the ball over the water. He eventually recorded an 18 on the hole. Now he's in the record book for the highest score at the 18th.

Playing the back nine first, Daly was even par for the day when he hit his tee shot into the right rough and then pitched short of the green. That is where the adventure began. Daly hit a poor third-shot approach which came to rest between the green and a lake which is surrounded by rocks."I went over and looked. No way,'' said playing partner Billy Andrade. "You could barely get it out with your hand. . . I marked my ball and heard one whack. I didn't know what it was. Whack, whack, whack.''

Daly tried four times to hit the ball out with no luck. After finally deciding take a drop, the penalty being his eighth stroke, he chipped onto the green and then two-putted for 11. He declined to comment after finishing with an 80. "The legend grows,'' Andrade said. "You guys will write about it and glorify it, and everybody out there thinks it's great. You shake your head and walk away. It's John being John. Not a shock. He's done it before.''

It was at least the eighth time that Daly has recorded a double-digit score on one hole during a PGA Tour event. And yet, as erratic as he is, he still has it in him to win a tournament. He's just so darn much fun to watch! So, who's your favorite golfer?
 
 
 

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