August 12, 2005
Volume IV, Issue 12
Bet against Tiger, yeah, sure...
When Tiger won the British Open, he didn't do much for the British bookmakers. Gambling is legal in Britain, and healthy sums are usually put forth on the game's oldest tournament. But because of Woods' win, bookmakers were reported to have lost $18 million (ouch, mate), a record for golf. "It was an absolute mauling,'' said Robin Hutchison of Ladbrokes, one of the top betting agencies. "No matter how short we made the odds on him, the betters just kept on coming.'' By the final day of the tournament, many bookmakers had taken Woods off the board, giving odds on who would finish second.
The phones are louder than his trousers...
England's Ian Poulter has been known to sport some colorful attire. Some might say garish, but I'll be nice today and just go with colorful. Along with spiked hair, Poulter is not afraid to speak his mind, and he's none too pleased with the abundance of cellular phones at golf tournaments. He recently became quite annoyed when one of the phones rang as he was about to putt at the Scottish Open. "You answer it and I'll wait until you finish your call,'' Poulter yelled to the offending phone user. Later, he called for tougher rules keeping phones off the course. "Obviously, today's phones are becoming too complicated for simple minds because they don't seem to be able to put them on silent,'' Poulter said. "This happens everywhere, every week.'' Can you hear me now? Yeah you, dummy! Can you hear me now?
What's a wie wittle girl to do?
Michelle Wie and her handlers have an interesting decision on their hands, although to many, it's no decision at all. Wie, who has spent the summer playing in LPGA events and turning heads at men's events, is said to be done with tournament golf until the Samsung World Championship in October. That happens to begin two days after her 16th birthday, and the teen prodigy from Hawaii is said to be seriously considering turning pro. Now she won't get a free ticket to the LPGA Tour, which has been denying teen entries this summer and sticking to its 18-year age minimum. No problem for Wie. Once she turns pro, she'll ink endorsement deals worth mega-bucks, certainly a few million dollars. She can play in a limited number of LPGA events on sponsor exemptions, pick off a few PGA Tour and Nationwide events, finish high school, and have some spending money for weekends.
Teeny boppers are the newborn LPGA queens, uh huh, and the beat goes on...
Morgan Pressel will have to wait until she is 18 to play the LPGA Tour full time, even though she nearly won the U.S. Women's Open in June and would have earned more than $350,000 to date in limited appearances this year on the LPGA had she not been an amateur. Pressel, 17, can still go to the LPGA's qualifying tournament later this year to secure her card, play a few events on sponsor exemptions until she turns pro in May, and then go at it full time. No big deal, but it is. Because she won't be a member of the LPGA until her birthday, none of Pressel's earnings will count. That will make retaining her card all that more difficult. Then again, she has proven she is good enough to get the job done in limited chances. Makes you wonder what would happen if Michelle Wie did petition for membership at age 16. Would the LPGA give in?
Hey, check the ears under that hat, he just keeps going and going and going...
Dana Quigley finally took a week off. A hip injury combined with the travel difficulties of getting to Scotland for the Senior British Open persuaded Quigley to stop a streak that spanned some nine years. He had played in 264 consecutive Champions Tour events, 278 straight if you count only those for which he was eligible. "It's the hardest decision I have ever had to make,'' Quigley said. During the streak, Quigley played 855 rounds and 59,978 strokes and won 10 times. He earned more than $11-million. Quigley actually plays more golf when he is not on tour, and while the seniors played in Britain, Quigley still played four times during his week off.
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 your 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.
White or grey, a shark can be a wonder...
You can insert your Greg Norman jokes here. Sure, he finished third and fourth in his first Champions Tour events, missing out on a playoff at the Senior British Open by one stroke and by two at the U.S. Senior Open. Didn't Norman make a career out of such close calls? Oh yes, but he's still one of the most compelling figures in the game. People forget that before Tiger Woods, Norman held the longest streak atop the world rankings. He was the player every tournament had to have. Sure, he had his major meltdowns, the only player to lose all four majors in a playoff, but he won 20 times on tour, including two British Opens. He is 50 now, and some have jokingly referred to him as the Great Gray Shark. But he showed he still has some game. Back surgery in March has Norman feeling better than he has in years. And he took some mighty rips at the ball. Norman said you won't see him in senior events much, other than the majors. He apparently is still having some back issues, but perhaps he just pushed things a little too quickly after surgery. He still thinks he can compete with the young guys. Good for him. Great to have you back, Shark. I, for one, have missed you.
How 'bout some scheduling sanity...
The Champions Tour has enough problems without the added burden of playing three major championships in a row over a four-week period. Adding insult to injury is having the U.S. Senior Open the week following the British Senior Open. It is enough of a problem anyway to get to a tournament following a major. But to try to make it across five time zones is a little too rough. The powers that be don't like it either. They know the situation is less than ideal. Scheduling concerns and a smattering of other issues led to the situation which had the Ford Senior Players Championship followed by a week off and then the British and U.S. Opens. But somehow, the golf organizations that are involved in these events need to come together and make it work so that they are not on top of each other. Spreading the majors out to a tune of one per month is far easier on the players and better for spectators. Here's hoping they figure it out.
What if Michelle Wie was your daughter, how would you advise her?
Wow, everyone has an opinion. Some say she should play with the other 15-year-olds. On the other hand, decked out in Nike apparel, one has to believe that some tempting endorsement offers are being made. One might also argue that her endorsement value will never be higher than in the next 4 years, ages 16, 17, 18, 19. A model looking teen age girl that can hit drives with the men is a hot commodity that most advertisers would love to have carry their brand in front of the impressionable and highly valuable preteen and teen market. Capture them today, and gain consumers for a lifetime. Her value as a 20-something might be less as an endorser of products. Interestingly, 2003 figures showed that a good number of golfers made more money off-course than on-course. Tiger's $77 million off-course dwarfed his $6.7 million on course income. Sergio earned $8 million off and $2.1 million on course. Annika earned $3.9 million off and $2.4 million on. Karrie Web earned $2 million off and $830,231 on course. Methinks that Wie can out pull Karrie in endorsements. So mom and dad, if Michele was your daughter, how would you advise her? Not so easy any more, is it?