March 25, 2006
Volume V, Issue 6
To hair is human; they haired with this bet
If you have seen Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott and Tim Clark, you may have noticed their hair a bit on the long side. That's because the trio has a bet dating to last year's WGC-American Express Championship. They made an undisclosed wager that the first one to cut his hair loses. It doesn't appear to be a huge gamble, but it is one they are serious about. So far, nobody has given in. Another part of the bet is that the first to shoot 80 has to shave his head. It's not hard to figure out which would look better.
Its Johnny being Johnny and all that that implies
NBC's Johnny Miller suggested during Tiger Woods' recent victory at Doral that, deep down Woods wishes he had a true rival. Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen make infrequent runs at him, but nothing is sustained. And it's not like Jack Nicklaus, who had the likes of Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Arnold Palmer and Miller, among others, pushing him. "It's Johnny being Johnny,'' Woods said. "All I can do is beat whoever is in the field, and that's it. That's all I can do. I'm trying to do my part by putting myself there and winning tournaments and trying to improve each and every week and each and every year.''
Lee. Should be easy to remember
Seon Hwa Lee is one of five players on the LPGA Tour with the last name of Lee, but she is doing a good job of distinguishing herself from the rest. Lee, 20, is a rookie from South Korea who finished runner-up to Annika Sorenstam at the MasterCard Classic in Mexico. She started the year with a tie for 13th at the SBS Open, her first event as a member of the tour. She subsequently lost in a playoff to another Lee, Meena Lee, at the Fields Open. Seon Hwa Lee turned pro in 2000 at age 14 and won three tournaments in five years on the Korean LPGA. Last year, she had 12 top-10 finishes on the Futures Tour. (For the record, there is a Sarah Lee on the LPGA Tour; she changed her name from Jung Yeon after the 2004 season. And she finished second to Juli Inkster at the Safeway International.)
Its good to be the King, or at least related
The Bay Hill Invitational routinely gives some 18 sponsor exemptions to its tournament, and one of them this year went to teenager Sam Saunders, who happens to be the grandson of tournament host Arnold Palmer. Saunders won the Bay Hill club championship by 17 strokes and is considered the top high school player in Orlando. But he was bound to hear some grumbling from pros looking for a break. "Let people think what they want,'' Saunders told the Orlando Sentinel. "I understand that my grand dad being who he is played the major part in this happening, but I think I have done some good things in my career so far. I don't think my grand dad would let me play if he didn't think I was ready. Yes, there will be some talk, but so what?'' Saunders has a plus-4 handicap and a scholarship offer to Clemson. Although he dominated the Bay Hill course during the club championship, it was a bit of a different story during the PGA event, as he shot 76-82 to miss the cut by 13 strokes.
The $396,000 oops
Seventeenth hole, you’re up by one with a 10-footer. Your name is Owen, you're playing Bay Hill Invitational, and you have never before won a PGA Tour event. The field includes Tiger, who finishes 20th. The man one behind you is Rod Pampling. You’re almost home. Pampling misses his par put on the 17th. If you make yours from 10 feet, you’ll be up by 2. Just get this putt, finish off 18, and celebrate like crazy.
You line it up, stroke it ... Aw, @&$#! It shoots past the cup and stops 39-point-something inches from the hole. You walk up, and tap it in. Oh no, it lips. Three putts in 10 seconds and you go from what should be two up over Pampling with one hole to play, to even. Alas, the golf gods are not kind to you on 18, and you lose a final stroke. The difference between 1st and 2nd: $396,000. Congratulations to Mr. Pampling on his 1st place $ 990,000 victory. Greg Owen's 2nd place earned a respectable $594,000. The agony of defeat becomes real, but is soothed with lots of moola.
Rules and more rules
My competitor, the “rules czar” of Georgia, is driving me nuts. My ball was on the green, and he was off by about 30 yards. He was adamant that I mark my ball because it was “in his way”. I really think that he was just upset because I was on in regulation and he wasn’t. Anyway, he raised such a ruckus that I obliged, as usual, and marked my ball. I guess I was not totally happy, and I wanted him to know that I was not a pushover, so on the next hole, here is what happened. He was back to normal and was on the green in regulation. I was about 110 yards back. So you guessed it, I insisted that he mark his ball. He protested. I insisted. He said I would regret it. I stood my ground on principle. He obliged. However, at the conclusion of the hole he said I needed to add 2 strokes to my score. He claimed my insistence needlessly delayed the game, and therefore I would be obliged to take a two-stroke penalty. Besides being obnoxious, is my golf partner a nut?
Hey Georgia Boy,
You are a patient man. In this instance the “rules czar” is technically correct and your lack of rules knowledge got the best of you. Yes, your competitor was within his rights to request that you mark your ball when he was 30 yards from the green and he had a reasonable belief that his pitch and run might strike your ball. He had the right to ask for marking, and you were obligated to oblige. However, with your request, when you were 110 yards out, there was not a reasonable expectation that your ball would strike his. Without a reasonable possibility of interference, your request was unreasonable. Rule 6-7 addresses undue delay of game and awards a two-stroke penalty for such an infraction. That was your infraction. You boys apparently take your golf very seriously in Georgia.
Shark meets Shark
Greg Norman has not been shy about his disdain for PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, dating back to the days when Norman's idea for a series of world tournaments was squelched by the tour -- then later re-invented by Finchem as the World Golf Championship events played today. It is said to be one of the reasons why Norman has been cool to the idea of supporting the Champions Tour. Now it has been learned that Norman is considering suing the tour because he wants to be able to view financial records he says players, as members of the organization, should be allowed to scrutinize, including minutes of all the meetings. "It's their fiduciary responsibility,'' Norman told GolfWorld magazine.
One aspect always seemingly lost in these discussions is what Norman was proposing more than a decade ago. He had in place a plan for a series of up to 20 world events per year, with minimum payouts and no cuts. Players would have had to forego PGA Tour events in order to play in those world events. What was Finchem supposed to do? Sit by and watch his stars maybe flock to a different circuit? Instead, he borrowed from the idea and helped institute a series of three world events. Norman, as successful as he has been in business, ought to recognize that.
Whats in a name?
Speaking of Tim Finchem, last week he announced that the Bay Hill Invitational has been renamed the Arnold Palmer Invitational. This makes sense, not just in the fact that a great golfer and gentleman is honored for his contributions to the sport, but also in the corporate sponsorship payoff that will no doubt reach out to be co-branded with the reputation of Mr. Palmer. Think of it, The BMW Arnold Palmer Invitational or some other corporate branding. If this works the way I think Mr. Finchem thinks it will work, we will no doubt see other name changes down the road.
Save a cart, ride a Harley
They're allowing carts again on the Champions Tour, and what a pity that is. In an attempt to clean up the look of tournaments and promote the idea of competition, Champions Tour president Rick George last year was able to implement a plan that banned carts. Most of the top players were in favor. They walk anyway. They thought it looked better. And they understood there was a natural weaning of players who could no longer be competitive without riding. But enough players balked, and the carts will come back. Maybe that's fine, especially if it allows the likes of Lee Trevino, Chi Chi Rodriguez or any number of name players to perform more often. But don't sell the Champions Tour as anything but an exhibition. That is, in essence, what they are saying by allowing carts.