February 10, 2006
Volume V, Issue 3
Love that smile...
Golf fans love Phil Mickelson. He returns their adoration by signing autographs, smiling, posing for pictures and backslapping. His popularity is particularly strong in the New York area, where he was the darling of galleries at the 2002 U.S. Open (Bethpage) and 2004 U.S. Open (Shinnecock) and where he was a huge favorite at last year's PGA Championship (Baltusrol), which he won. Perhaps that is in part why the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association voted Mickelson the winner of its Gold Tee Award, which recognizes outstanding career accomplishments.
Smile looks like a smirk to other athletes...
GQ magazine named Mickelson as one of "The Ten Most Hated Athletes." The magazine polled pro athletes and Mickelson was No. 8, between the NBA's Bonzi Wells and baseball's A.J. Pierzynski. Terrell Owens and Barry Bonds finished first and second. Maybe they're just mad that Phil makes more than $45-million a year and doesn't have to do a single sit up.
Show you the money? OK, here 'tis...
At 76, Arnold Palmer remains a big draw. He probably won't play in a single official event this year, but Palmer managed to rank fourth on Golf Digest's list of the top 50 earners in golf. Tiger Woods, of course, topped the list with more than $86-million in income last year, which includes on-course and off-course earnings. Phil Mickelson was second ($45.2-million), with Vijay Singh third ($30.2-million) and Palmer at No. 4. His income, almost solely from endorsements and course design work, was reported at $25-million, ahead of Greg Norman, Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els and Jack Nicklaus. Annika Sorenstam was the highest woman on the list, at No. 13. Her total income was reported to be $8.6-million. Michelle Wie, who has yet to earn a dime on the course as a pro, was 15th at $8-million.
It was a crime the game was so long...
Golf often takes too long as it is. So imagine the 5 Feb. plight of golfers at the New South Wales amateur championship in Sydney, Australia. A stolen truck crashed through a course fence and onto a fairway, scattering players, which forced play to be suspended as police gave chase. The driver drove into a bunker (I often drive into bunkers), where he became stuck, and fled into a nearby unoccupied house brandishing a shotgun. After a two-hour siege, he surrendered. No word if any golfers decided to beat him with a 6-iron.
Two streaks, one great and one not so great...
When Ernie Els made the 36-hole cut at the Dubai Desert Classic, he set a European Tour record of 70 in a row, breaking the mark of 69 held by Bernhard Langer. Els' streak dates to the 2000 Johnnie Walker Classic. At the same tournament, however, he prolonged another streak that he would prefer to stop. Els lost in a sudden-death playoff to Tiger Woods, the third straight time he has failed to beat the world's No. 1 golfer when they have gone to extra holes.
Repair the course, of course!
OK, you have already forgotten your New Year's resolution regarding the diet. And, you are feeling somewhat guilty, deservedly so. But, we have a solution. Make a resolution you can keep. How bout vowing to clean up after yourself on the course. Come on, you can do this.
In recognition of the divot-ridden fairways at golf courses around the world, we dedicate this instruction article to our good friends in the maintenance shed! They are up at three o'clock every morning trying to keep our fairways lush and inviting (not that we ever use the fairway).
"If I have told you once, I have told you a million times: replace your divots!" Does this sound like anyone you know?
Well, they may be a loud mouth but at least he/she knows how to take care of the course. It's relatively simple course etiquette. It takes just a few moments to adjust the real estate you have marred.
Here are some simple tips for you to remember. (For those with a tendency to forget, write them down!)
- After striking your ball off the tee or ground, be sure to:
After striking a shot out of the fairway, rough, hazard or other solid ground on which your shot may have fallen, replace your divot with the sand provided, and using your foot, firm up said sand and flatten it to level ground. When hitting from a sand trap, bring the rake out of your cart, use the rake in the bunker or at the very least brush the sand even with your spikes. Bad karma will come back to haunt you if don't live cleanly! Put a divot tool in your pocket before each round. If you don't have one, then borrow one. Your marks on the green, should you hit it, are the most virus-prone part of the golf course. They will also interrupt putts and increase greens fees should you leave them and force the golf course staff to deal with them. Of course, these little tips are not the beginning and end of golf course maintenance, but if you have these down pat while you are on the course, then at least you're a leg up on Joe Duffer. Don't forget, though, that your responsibility is not limited to you but extends to every golfer in your group. So when you start to shake your head because someone has not raked a bunker, bring the rake to your partner! If he refuses, express your disgust and rake the stinking bunker for him. Then, when he is not looking, loosen his bag from the accommodating straps on the back of your cart so his clubs can fall in peril on the next inclined path.
- Replace the divot you chunked up
- Pick up your tee
Perhaps the guilty party will get the hint. If not, they are probably too brain dead to waste your time explaining it to them. Next time play with a woman. An informal survey of golf pros reveals that women seem to care and acknowledge these little nuggets of golf course maintenance wisdom better than men, on the whole.
He smelled in the playoffs, and now we know why...
Nathan Green is a first-year PGA Tour player from Australia whom nobody seemed to notice despite a tie for fifth at the Sony Open. But when he was in contention at the Buick Invitational near San Diego, everybody found out about him. That's because Tiger Woods was in the field, and eventually went on to defeat Green and Jose Maria Olazabal in a playoff. Green hung around the lead all weekend and actually went ahead by two shots when he holed a fairway shot for an eagle on the back nine. "I think getting the lead was the beginning of everything coming apart," he said, "I was pretty much (soiling) myself in the last few holes coming in." He played miserably in the playoff. He had the best tee shot, and the only one with a chance to be on the green in two. But he flew over the hole and proceeded to make two of the ugliest chip shots one could imagine. We could read his lips, but let's just say he was not happy. Green's consolation? He has won enough money in two tournaments to all but secure his PGA Tour card for 2007.
I just love stupid rules...
Brandt Jobe is the latest victim of golf's rulebook. Jobe noticed on Feb. 5 during the final round of the FBR Open that his 6-iron was bent in the grip area. Jobe called for a rules official and learned he would be disqualified. "I hadn't used the club and I didn't bend it during the course of play," Jobe said. "In that case, I thought I could just declare it out of play, but he (the rules official) said it was disqualification. . . I have no idea how it got bent. I didn't hit it all day, so maybe it happened (Saturday) and I never noticed until I pulled it out of the bag." Jobe would not have been disqualified had he noticed the club was bent before the round began. The same rule snagged Kevin Stadler at last year's Michelin Championship.
This is another one of those rules where common sense should prevail. The game allows players to call infractions on themselves, and expects them to do so. Jobe said he didn't use the club, and he should be believed. As long he or any player takes it out of play, what is the harm?
Truth or sour grapes?
17-year-old rookie Morgan Pressel has said Michelle Wie should have to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open instead of getting an exemption.
Pressel said. "I don't think she (Wie) needs an exemption. I've been through qualifying. Everybody who doesn't make it on the money list, other amateurs, other professionals that aren't members of the tour, they all have to go through qualifying, too. I don't see why she shouldn't, or why she should be afraid, or expect an exemption."
Wie is the biggest draw in women's golf. Don't bet against her being at any LPGA event that she wants to play.
He keeps going and going and...
Vijay Singh is golf's iron man, but even this is a bit too much. He started the season at the Mercedes Championship on Maui, followed by the Sony Open on Oahu. From there, he traveled to the Middle East for two European events, the Abu Dhabi Championship and the Qatar Masters. While there, he snuck in a visit to a course where he was doing design work. After that, Singh traveled back to the United States for the FBR Open near Phoenix and then the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. That's some six-week start to the season. And that's not all. After taking a single week off, he was scheduled to play the Match Play Championship, then all four Florida events, before another week off and then the Masters. So that's 12 tournaments in 14 weeks, an unbelievable number even for Singh. We're not sure if that is the best way to prepare for the Masters or if it is even wise for any player, let alone one who is celebrating his 43rd birthday this month. The proof will be in the results.