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July 09, 2005
Volume IV, Issue 10
 
Fringe Clippings
 
Nobody wants to get drunk and get loud...
 
Besides golf, another passion of PGA Tour player Rocco Mediate is poker. That's right folks, he likes to gamble on the cards. Sounds like a man who might even enjoy a shot of hard stuff and a good cigar. I think I like this guy. Hold on folks, Rocco has entered the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Pokerstars.com has put up the $10,000 entry fee for him, and although it will be his first time, Mediate believes he is capable of winning. "A couple of those guys have won it as first-timers,'' he said. Hey wait a second; it's not really gambling if it's not your money, is it? Shoot, he probably doesn't even enjoy sipping the hard stuff or puffing on a cigar. It's ok, I like him anyway.
 
So, if I renamed myself Bogey, how many strokes could I save?
 
To better distinguish herself from all the other Ms. Kims on the LPGA Tour, Ju-Yun Kim this year picked a distinctive nickname: Birdie. Nothing could be more prophetic. The unheralded pro from South Korea lived up to the moniker last week at the U.S. Women's Open, holing an improbable 90-foot greenside bunker shot on the 72nd hole to win. It was a birdie for Birdie. Kim, 23, had just one previous top-10 in her LPGA Tour career. With five other players named Kim on the LPGA Tour, Birdie wanted to set herself apart with a nickname. A major championship helps the differentiation.
 
If I did so well, why do I feel so empty?
 
Catherine Lacoste remains alone. With two amateurs tied for the lead heading into the final round of the U.S. Women's Open, Lacoste was the subject of much conversation. She was the only amateur to have ever won the tournament, doing so in 1967 by two strokes at Cascades Course at Virginia Hot Springs Golf and Tennis Club in Hot Springs, Virginia. Lacoste, of France, also won the Women's British Amateur that year and the U.S. Women's Amateur in 1969. She never turned professional. Now 59, Lacoste, the daughter of French tennis player Rene Lacoste, lives in Madrid, Spain. Michelle Wie, 15, and Morgan Pressel, 17 were tied for the lead. Wie fell back, but Pressel tied for second with another amateur, Brittany Lang, who just completed her sophomore year at Duke. Because they are amateurs, they each missed out on a check of $272,723. Ouch.
 
Wow, it's a good thing he didn't spit....
 
Tiger Woods' temper during the second round of the U.S. Open could have cost him disqualification. At the very least, he could have been penalized. Neither happened. Woods, after missing a par putt on the ninth green at Pinehurst, scraped the surface of the green with his putter. In the etiquette section of the rule book, it says that "Players should avoid causing damage to the course. . . by hitting the head of a club into the ground, whether in anger or for any other reason.'' The tournament committee may disqualify a player under Rule 33-7 for a "serious breach'' of etiquette. The one-time occurrence, according to USGA senior director of rules and competitions Tom Meeks, would not qualify as a "serious breach.'' Rule 16-1 also outlines conditions under which the putting green may be touched by a player for testing purposes. Since Woods' actions did not imply intent, no action was taken.
 
Gone, but not forgotten....
 
There were many players in the U.S. Open field who never knew Payne Stewart, winner of the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst. Payne died just four months later in a freak airplane accident. But Peter Jacobsen remembers. Jacobsen was a close friend of Stewart's. They even played together in a band. Jacobsen, 51, had not been to the U.S. Open since 1996, so qualifying by virtue of his 2004 U.S. Senior Open victory was special. "I've been thinking about him all week,'' Jacobsen said. "It's hard not to. Every time I play a tournament, I think about Payne. He was such a unique character with his personality, his sense of humor, the way he could share with the crowd and he was funny.'' A statue of Stewart posing after his winning putt in 1999 has been erected behind the 18th green of the No. 2 course.
 
 
Paralysis by Analysis
 
A little faster, pretty please...
 
Survey says, number one golf complaint, takes too long. It's torture to either be in or behind a group that takes 5 plus hours to play 18 holes. There are steps that all players can take to complete a round in a more reasonable time.
  • Even though rules state that the person with the lowest score from the prior hole tees off first, and that the person furthest from the hole goes first, "ready golf" is acceptable etiquette within safety guidelines, of course. Unless you're in a tournament, there is no reason why you can't tee off first if you're the first to the tee. It's always good to talk this over beforehand and make sure your playing partners agree.

  • Write your scores down on the scorecard in the cart or at the next tee, not on the green you just finished.

  • Same thing with head covers, put them on in the cart and put the club in the bag on exiting the cart prior to your next shot. The pageantry of replacing the head cover as practiced by some golfers can drive you nuts.

  • If two to a cart, drop the rider off at their ball and have the driver proceed to his/her ball.

  • Always take enough clubs for the shot that might be encountered. If you think it's a 7-iron into the green, take your 6, 7, and 8-iron with you.

  • When near the green, drop off the person furthest from the hole first, then go park the cart on the cart path near the green.

  • When near the green, take your putter, as well as your wedge.

  • Always carry a second ball in your pocket just in case you lose the original ball or need to hit a provisional ball. It saves the time that would be wasted going back to your cart to dig another ball out of your bag.

  • Try to remember at least approximately where you hit the ball.

  • If you can't find the ball rather quickly, drop and press on.

  • Golf is golf, fishing is fishing, on busy days, leave the ball retriever at home and press on. Heck a ball retriever, might as well bring scuba gear if fishing balls is your thing!

  • No more than two practice swings.

  • Develop a quick routine, not a quick swing.

  • Don't try your pick-up lines on the cart girl, wastes time and you have a much better chance of making an eagle.

 
 
Reading the Line
 
When is tough too tough?
 
It is a tribute to Pinehurst No. 2 and the United States Golf Association that nobody ripped the course or the setup in the aftermath of the U.S. Open. After all, the circumstances were not far from what happened at Shinnecock Hills a year ago, when all hell broke loose on the final day, with nobody breaking par and 28 players shooting in the 80s.This year at Pinehurst, only four players broke par on the final day, but just a handful shot in the 80s. Amazingly, the top three players heading into the final round all did so, likely more a product of nerves and tough conditions than anything unfair.

Still, not a single player broke par for the tournament, and only winner Michael Campbell at even par and runner-up Tiger Woods at 2 over managed to finish better than 5 over. Last year, two players broke par for the tournament. The difference seemed to be that the USGA kept a closer eye on the greens, putting some water on them throughout the tournament.

At the U.S. Women's Open at Cherry Hills outside of Denver, the USGA employed a similar philosophy. And it nearly turned to farce during the final round, when no player among the leaders was able to break par and the winning score was 3 over.

In the final analysis, things were tough, but fair. Close to the edge, but not over. Barely.
 
This pale-faced kid wanted to be a Harlem Globetrotter; maybe it was achievable ...
 
The plan has not changed and Michelle Wie is not backing down from the challenge. Her ultimate goal in golf is to one day play in the Masters, whether qualifying as an amateur or doing so by climbing the money list or rankings as a member of the PGA Tour. "Everyone knows this but my goal is to play in the Masters and I am not going to change my goals,'' said Wie, who tied for 23rd at the U.S. Women's Open after a final-round 82. "I think that's realistic for me. I have been working for that goal ever since I started playing and I feel like every day I am getting closer.''

Wie finished second to Annika Sorenstam at the LPGA Championship. She then became the first woman to qualify for a United States Golf Association men's event when she shared medalist honors as a qualifier for the U.S. Amateur Public Links. That would be her immediate path to Augusta National. The APL, which is open to "bona fide public course players,'' is July 11-16 at Shaker Run Golf Club in Lebanon, Ohio. Wie would have to win the tournament, or be a finalist at the U.S. Amateur, to receive a Masters invite.

Why the Masters? "It was the first tournament I saw on TV. That's it,'' she said. "When I saw it, it just felt really special and it was such a really nice golf course. And then the more I learn about it, the more I want to play in it . . . the history, the golf course. Since it's hard to get into, it makes me want to get into it more.''
 
 
 

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