December 23, 2005
Volume IV, Issue 17
Is it the arrow or the Indian? Or in this case, is it Sasquatch or the Tiger?
Tiger Woods has been gold for Nike, adding the company's new equipment to his bag as he goes, and typically having excellent success with it. But that was not the case when he missed the cut at the Funai Classic, just the third time in his career that Woods failed to advance beyond 36 holes in a PGA Tour event. It was at the Funai that Woods put the Nike SQ driver (Sasquatch) into his bag for the first time. He quickly ditched it in favor of his "old" Nike driver. And he put better spin on the story than on any wedge shot he's ever hit. "The (new) driver, it does work," he said. "Unfortunately, I just didn't have the swing to make it work. I hit it great on the range, and when I make proper swings, I hit it better than my old driver. But my swing was so bad, it was just not working at all. So I went back to something that at least I felt comfortable with and had won a major championship with."
I'll take your money and play your clubs, but don't touch my putter, got it?
Some players change putters every month, every tournament, every day. Not Tiger Woods. Although he has switched equipment in every other part of his game, Woods has used the same Scotty Cameron putter for seven years. Although he tests putters all the time, a change does not appear imminent. "It's just so hard to get my gamer out of there," Woods said recently at a news conference for Nike, which ironically, can't get him to use one of its models. "I won nine majors with it (the Scotty Cameron), and it seems to be working. I have tried other putters, and some of the putts do feel better than mine. But coming down the stretch on Sunday, and I know I need to make a putt, I know the putter has done it. I'm just afraid to get it out of the bag."
That's what friends are for...
On the eve of the recent Presidents Cup, the 12 U.S. team members presented captain Jack Nicklaus with a portrait of his grandson, Jake, who tragically drowned on March 1 of this year. Jake, the son of Steve and Krista Nicklaus, was 17 months old. The painting was done by Maryland artist Kirk Maggio and the Golden Bear was touched by the gesture. "It's the sweetest thing that's ever been done for me," Nicklaus said. "I was crying like a baby. I'm crying thinking about it right now. Half the team was in tears. It was just wonderful." The Nicklaus family wants to have the painting displayed in the Nicklaus Children's Hospital at St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. The team helped Nicklaus end an emotional year in style.
When I heard him called a glutton, I just naturally assumed they were talking food...
Colin Montgomerie is obviously a glutton for punishment. His recent schedule included a tournament in Scotland, one in San Francisco and then a European Tour event in Madrid. He went across eight times zones and back again. But Montgomerie added to the journey by driving home after his win at the Dunhill Links Championship in St. Andrews, Scotland. Although Monty is a Scot, his home is outside of London -- a seven-hour drive away. So after accepting the trophy on Oct. 2, Montgomerie got in his car, drove home, then flew the next day to San Francisco, where he tied for third at the American Express Championship. He then returned to Europe for two tournaments in Spain, where he clinched his eighth European Order of Merit. And if that wasn't enough, after a week's respite, he traveled to China for the HSBC Champions tournament -- the season-opening event on the 2006 European schedule -- followed by the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan. I'm exhausted just thinking about it. Cheers to you, mate.
Wie girl has a big heart and deep pockets...
Michelle Wie made good on her promise to donate $500,000 to hurricane aid when she handed a check to former President Clinton at Southern Highlands Golf Club in Las Vegas. Wie, 16, who turned pro on Oct. 5 and signed endorsement deals for a reported $10-million had pledged the amount that day. After presenting the check, Wie and Clinton played a round of golf. Clinton, in a statement, described Wie as an "inspiration." Although sports figures around the country rallied behind Katrina support, Wie's donation is believed to be the largest among any golfer.
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:
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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Let's get ready to rumble...
You have to love the spat that ensued between Annika Sorenstam and Paula Creamer during the first round of the ADT Championship, the final event of the LPGA season which was eventually won by Sorenstam. The two best players this year were paired together, and the 19-year-old Creamer did not back down to her more distinguished and legendary playing partner when Sorenstam sought to take a drop on the 18th hole closer to the green. Creamer argued that Sorenstam's drive on the final hole had not crossed land; Sorenstam said it did. And a heated argument ensued. First off, Creamer was doing exactly as she should. Any player who has a problem with a ruling should question it. That is called protecting the field. It should happen more in competitive golf -- instead of spectators and viewers calling infractions. But once Creamer made her case to a rules official, that should have been the end of it. Instead, she took it too far, later saying Sorenstam had to live "with her conscience." In essence, she was implying that Sorenstam knew she was getting an unfair advantage. That's a bit much from a teenager. But it made for good fodder nonetheless.
If you think the season is too long, why do you play on and on and on...
If Tiger Woods looked a little tired at the Grand Slam of Golf and the Skins Game. . . well, it's probably because he was wiped out. Woods was in the midst of his most extensive stretch of golf this year, which makes his comments about the golf season being too long ring a bit hollow. And these tournaments don't event count. Woods was among a few prominent players who called for a shorter season on the PGA Tour. And they apparently are going to get their wish starting in 2007, when the tour will conclude with a "chase to the championship" series of events in September, with the Tour Championship being the last one. Events that follow in September, October and November will still count, but the big-money players will have no need for them. And that will make it easier for players such as Woods to globe-trot.
Starting with the Tour Championship, Woods played four straight weeks. From Atlanta, he went to China for the HSBC Champions, a European Tour event. He then won the Dunlop Phoenix on Nov. 20, defending his title. Then came two 36-hole events in Hawaii (Grand Slam) and California (Skins).
Come back David, come back...
He was once the No. 1 player in the world. He's only 34. But he has not won since his 2001 British Open title and has battled injuries and motivation problems since. Duval made only 1 of 20 cuts on the PGA Tour this year. It seems almost impossible that such a beautiful game capability could go south so fast and stay there. At times it has been painful to watch. But then a moment of sunshine brightens everything. Duval opened with a brilliant 64 at the mid-November Dunlop Phoenix in Japan. He faltered a bit on the final two days but managed to tie for 7th. But for one great day in November, David was back. I hope he was as thrilled as I was. My guess is that most who had fallen so far in their field would have been reluctant to showcase their demise in front of a worldwide audience. David has shown willpower beyond reason, unless you can fathom how sweet that 64 must have been. Yes Mr. Gleason, how sweet it is!