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July 21, 2006
Volume V, Issue 12
 
Fringe Clippings
 
Finchem didn’t pinch 'em…
 
Oh boy, did I goof! I offer my sincere apologies to Mr. and Mrs. Finchem. Before we noticed the error, some issues of the last Off the Fringe were sent with an article about new LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens that started out , At least with Finchem, you had a chance for a date… We incorrectly identified Tim Finchem as the former LPGA commissioner. It was Ty Votaw who was the former LPGA commissioner. Mr. Finchem is the commissioner of the PGA Tour.
 
Yeah, but will we get to swap jokes with Fuzzy?
 
This is a great idea -- if you have some cash you have uncommitted. Fuzzy Zoeller is offering a trip to the Senior British Open on one of two 757s that he has leased and is inviting the public to go with him and other senior stars such as Jerry Pate, Tom Kite and Dana Quigely. The Senior British Open is July 27-30 at Turnberry in Scotland but the planes leave out of Indianapolis on July 22. Included is five days of links golf, tickets to the tournament, tours for non-golfing spouses, dinner with the pros and accommodations. The tab is in the $12,000 range. If you're interested, check out www.fuz.com.

By coincidence, my birthday is the 22nd, and this reminder is intended for all of those who have not yet found the perfect token of their esteem.
 
American lady wins U.S. Women’s Open, kinda…
 
Just a few weeks before the start of the U.S. Women's Open, Annika Sorenstam was sworn in as a citizen of the United States. The ceremony took place June 14 in her adopted hometown of Orlando. A native of Sweden, Sorenstam will also retain Swedish citizenship. "This doesn't mean I'll be playing for the U.S. in the Solheim Cup,'' she joked. "I'm still European.'' It would have been nice, but Solheim Cup rules would not have permitted it anyway. You have to be born in America to play for America. Still, it was fitting that just two weeks after her citizenship ceremony, Sorenstam went on to win the U.S. Women's Open, her third victory in the event and her 10th major title.
 
LPGA Tour, tour of the whole big world…
 
LPGA Tour, a truly world tour that is being dominated by foreign-born players. When Brittany Lincicome won the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship, she became just the third American to win this year, joining 46-year-old Hall of Famer Juli Inkster and Cristie Kerr. Nine events had been won by South Koreans. When Sweden's Annika Sorenstam won the U.S. Women's Open, it was the eighth straight major won by an international player. Meg Mallon was the last American to win a major, taking home the 2004 U.S. Women's Open title.
 
Foster’s stock rises on Australian Stock Exchange…
 
Adam Scott is one of the best golfers from Australia, but he was well out of contention at the U.S. Open and headed for Europe after the tournament. In fact, he had already boarded a private plane along with Ernie Els and was catching the end of the tournament on one of the plane's televisions. And boy was he glad he did. Scott got to watch fellow Aussie Geoff Ogivly win the tournament. And he wanted to be there for the party. Scott got off the plane, which was on the tarmac at the Westchester County Airport in New York, and headed back to Winged Foot in time for the victory speech -- and did we mention the victory party? Right on mate!
 
It can be such a dirty business…
 
At PGA Tour and LPGA Tour events, the "lift, clean and place'' rule is invoked all the time in the interest of saving time. Often, a golf course gets too wet to play otherwise. But at United States Golf Association events, you'll never see that happen. The heavy rains that hit the Newport, R.I. area, made it a topic of discussion at the U.S. Women's Open. Players were greeted with plenty of casual water and mud on their golf balls. But they were not going to get the break they often receive in LPGA events. "In over 100 years, we've never used the lift, clean and place during one of our national championships,'' said Mike Davis, senior director of rules and competitions for the USGA. "We feel that conducting our national championships that it does change the nature of the game so much that we're not comfortable playing with (it).'' Davis, however, said there is nothing wrong with it -- just not at the Open. "If it was wrong, you wouldn't see it in the appendix of our rules book,'' he said.
 
He’s also lucky they didn’t lose his clubs…
 
Here is one example of an airline delay being a good thing. Ireland's Paul McGinley figured he had missed the cut at the European Open near Dublin. He had shot scores of 75-71 and was in 91st place, with the cut coming for the top 65 and ties. So McGinley headed for the airport to catch a flight to London. And to his good fortune -- this time -- it was delayed. "My wife phoned and said the scores were tumbling,'' McGinley said. "Fortunately, the airline guys were brilliant and took me off the flight with my clubs and clothes.'' McGinley shot 67 on Saturday and followed with a 69 on Sunday to tie for fourth, his best finish of the year on the European Tour.
 
 
Paralysis by Analysis
 
Rules and more rules...
 
Larry hits a shot into a tree and he is certain that the white ball he sees lodged 15 feet up in the branches is his. Can he drop a ball by the tree without penalty and proceed? Is there a penalty? What to do, what to do?

There are three options that can be chosen when your ball gets stuck in a tree: 1. You can play it as it lies. 2. You can declare the ball unplayable 3. You can declare a lost ball.

Play It as It Lies
If you're willing to climb up into the tree and take a swing at the ball, you can play it as it lies. This is usually the wrong choice.

Declare the ball unplayable
USGA Rule 28 allows you to declare the ball unplayable. You would incur a one-stroke penalty and, most likely, drop within two club-lengths of the ball. The spot from which you measure the two club-lengths is that spot on the ground directly under where the ball rests in the tree.

To use the ball unplayable option, you must be able to identify that the ball in the tree is your ball. You can't just assume that it's up there somewhere, or that a ball you see up there is yours. You must make positive identification. You must make sure you identify your ball before continuing under the unplayable option, and make sure you declare your intentions before retrieving or dislodging the ball from the tree.

Declare a lost Ball
If you can’t retrieve and identify the ball as yours, your options dwindle to only one choice. You must declare a lost ball and proceed under USGA Rule 27 (Ball Lost or Out of Bounds). You would incur a stroke-and-distance penalty. You would replay from the previous spot from where you hit and would be assessed a one stroke penalty.

If the ball can’t be positively identified, you have to take a lost ball penalty.
 
 
Reading the Line
 
Think Super Bowl, World Series, World Cup, or Bobby Rigs vs. Billy Jean King…
 
After months of study and debate, the new FedEx Cup series was unveiled in New York. Commissioner Tim Finchem announced that the winner of the FedEx Cup will earn a $10-million bonus in 2007. Players will be awarded points in tournaments from January through August in order to qualify for a season-ending, four-tournament playoff system that will culminate with the Tour Championship in mid-September.
Among the highlights:
  • Each PGA Tour event will award 25,000 FedEd Ex Cup points. The three World Golf Championship events will award 26,250, while the four majors and the Players will offer 27,500. (Tournaments played opposite the WGC events will offer 12,500 points.)
  • Players are awarded points based on finish, with the winner of a regular event receiving 4,500 points down to 50 points for finishing 70th. Only players who make the cut receive points, and the points are weighted toward the top-10 finishers.
  • After the regular season ends in Greensboro, the top 144 players in the point standings will qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs.
  • Those players who qualify will be re-seeded, with the No. 1 qualifier starting at 100,000 points, No. 2 getting 99,000, No. 3 getting 98,500 all the way down to No. 144 receiving 94,700.
  • The playoffs will begin with the Barclays Championship, followed by the Deutsche Bank Championship and the BMW Championship. At each of the events, the total points will be raised to 50,000, with the winner getting 9,000 points. So it is conceivable, although not likely, that anyone who qualifies for the playoffs could end up No. 1.
  • After the first three playoff events, the top 30 points earners will qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship, which will also give 50,000 points.
  • Each of the tournaments will offer prize money, but the overall points winner will get a $10-million bonus, followed by $3-million for second, $2-million for third, $1.5-million for fourth and $1-million for fifth.
 
No matter how bad your year, you might still pull it off in the last two weeks…
 
The new FedEx Cup series that will go into effect next year on the PGA Tour is the first-ever attempt at a playoff system in golf. That's great, except for the fact that 144 players qualify, which is sort of like the NFL playing its 16-team schedule only to have every team make the playoffs plus four from NFL Europe. Or, it's like baseball allowing all 30 teams to advance to the postseason, along with six or eight from the minor leagues.

As the PGA Tour system is currently configured, there are 125 players who earn fully exempt status based on the prior year's money list. The money list and the points list will be different, but similar. So, technically, more players than are exempt will qualify for the postseason.

It is true that there are far more than 144 players who have some sort of PGA Tour status. But it is difficult to argue that more than 100 are deserving of a shot at the big-money purses and ultimate $10-million bonus. What the tour has done is given fans a reason not to pay attention to the points race. Heck, nearly everyone will qualify. For most fans, the points will be immaterial until the third playoff match when the final 30 are ascertained. However the $10 million final match ought to draw quite a crowd!
 
That’s entertainment ...
 
The tournament dates to 1899 and is known as the Western Open. Only the U.S. Open is older in this country. That should mean something. But it apparently doesn't to the PGA Tour, which is moving on with its fancy new FedEx Cup. And not to BMW, which isn’t risking having its name diluted in light of all the money it is putting up. So when the tournament becomes part of the FedEx Cup playoff system next year, it will be known as the BMW Championship, and more than 100 years of history will go down the drain. Making matters worse, the tournament won't stay permanently in Chicago. It only gets an every-other-year date in the Windy City, moving to places such as St. Louis, Indianapolis and Minneapolis in even-numbered years. Nothing against those towns, which also deserve high-level golf, but it is a big slap to Chicago to lose its annual golf tournament. The Western used to move around in the old days, when it was considered a major championship on par with the U.S. Open and PGA Championship. But since 1962 it has been played in Chicago, with Cog Hill the venue since 1991. Change happens, but in this case, it's too bad.
 
Taking a bit of the charm out of the British Open ...
 
Don't feel bad if you didn't notice, but the British Open conducted local qualifying a week before the tournament. An era has passed, and it is too bad. One of the highlights of British Open week had always been the local 36-hole qualifying that was conducted at four links courses near the Open venue. It was quite common to find an unknown dreamer playing alongside an established tour pro. Just seven years ago, both Paul Lawrie and Jean Van de Velde came out of local qualifying the same week they went on to a playoff won by Lawrie at Carnoustie.

Then tournament officials started messing with the qualification system. They felt too many "name'' players were denied a place because they didn't want to travel all the way to Britain for qualifying. So in addition to all the various money list and world ranking criteria, they set up International qualifying tournaments, ones in Asia, Africa and America -- as if qualifying in those places is anything akin to the conditions of a seaside links.

But at least there were still the four local qualifiers, with three spots at stake in each, a total of 12 to get into the Open. Brad Faxon was one of the feel-good stories of last year's Open, where he was the biggest-name American to try it the hard way. He succeeded, then contended until the final day.

And now even that is gone. Oh, there is still local qualifying. It took place on July 10 and 11 -- a week prior to the championship. Ah, the charm is missing.
 
She must have been an exceptional lady…
 
I never met her in person. But she was obviously very special. I talked with her husband every year at the PGA show. Her rather cantankerous 70-something husband always lit up and spoke in softened tones of adoration when he talked of his "bride.” He repeatedly said that she was the best part of his life. This made me know that Charlie is one of the good guys. Unfortunately, Mrs. Mandel lost her struggle with cancer earlier this month. Charlie Mandel will no doubt devote more of his energies to the golf club rating and testing business that he founded some years ago, www.Rankmark.com. Our prayers are with Charlie and the Mandel family.
 
 
Golf Bodies
 
Does putting hurt your back?
 
I’ve heard many golfers say their backs hurt after a golf putting practice. They want to know why this occurs and what they can do about it.

First off … look at the position of your body when you’re putting. You have a big flex in your back (bending forward), which puts a lot of strain on your hamstrings, glutes and lower back muscles.

When you putt, you are in this position for extended periods of time.

If your golf putting muscles which are your hamstrings, glutes and lower back as mentioned above are inflexible and weak, your lower back takes all the pressure.

The remedy!

Stretch and strengthen those muscles. This will not only reduce, eliminate and prevent low back pain when you're doing your golf putting practice, but it will do the same for your full swing. Golf is brutal on the body…and the ONLY way to avoid this is to strengthen and stretch the “machine” involved.

Here’s a little tip when doing your golf putting practice.

After you hit 5 or 6 putts … put your golf putter down and do some easy toe touches to keep your hamstrings, glutes and lower back nice and loose.

Do them gently and slowly to avoid any pulling or straining.

About The Author: Mike Pedersen is a recognized golf fitness expert and author. He is Golf Magazine's golf performance expert. For information on his Golf Fitness System, visit www.performbettergolf.com.
 
 
 

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