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October 20, 2006
Volume V, Issue 17
 
Fringe Clippings
 
Remember the kid who took his bat and ball and went home?
 
Good thing everybody has their own clubs and balls. We know that the competitive golf circuit and all the travel can be strenuous and deserving of rest after a long season. But 19 tournaments? That's apparently enough for Phil Mickelson, who decided to shut it down for the rest of the year. Mickelson never performs particularly well after the PGA and has admitted as much. And next year's schedule will conclude earlier, so perhaps he will work out his mental hang-ups about the end of the year. But 19 tournaments? Nice life. It is hard to tell anybody who gets two weeks vacation a year that playing 19 weeks out of 52 is exhausting. Yeah, we know he prepares like no other for the majors, and he was rewarded with another Masters and a near-miss at the U.S. Open. But something is not right when the second-best player in the world can't win a single point at the Ryder Cup.
 
Six in a row, priceless...
 
Tiger Woods' win at the American Express Championship in England has matched his career-best winning streak, six straight on the PGA Tour. Only Byron Nelson in 1945 (11) has won more in a row. Ben Hogan won six in a row in 1948 and Woods did so in 1999-2000. Those six straight victories are more than Tom Lehman (five) and Chris DiMarco (three) have won in their careers. Woods also became the first player in PGA Tour history to win eight or more times in three different seasons. He has done so in 1999 (eight), 2000 (nine) and 2006 (eight). Just those three seasons alone would tie him for 23rd on the all-time victory list at 25, with Johnny Miller and Tommy Armour.
 
Tom Watson remembers, we should also...
 
Bruce Edwards, the former caddie for Tom Watson who passed away two years ago after battling ALS, will have his name on a new foundation created by Watson and author John Feinstein. Called the Bruce Edwards Foundation for ALS Research, all proceeds to the non-profit organization go directly to research dedicated to finding treatments and a cure for what is commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Watson and Feinstein hosted a fundraiser on Sept. 11, the second annual Bruce Edwards Celebrity Golf Classic, which raised $600,000. Edwards caddied for Watson for the better part of three decades and Feinstein wrote a book about them. Please visit www.BruceEdwardsFoundation.org for more information.
 
If golf were a team sport, Sergio would be chasing Jack for the records...
 
Since leaving Tiger Woods with a sincere scare at the 1999 PGA Championship and being anointed the next great rival for the game's best player, Sergio Garcia has seen a steady stream of less-heralded players walk away with major championship hardware while he has yet to claim his first. But nobody has been better at the Ryder Cup. The Spanish star showed that again in Ireland, where his 4-1 record was the best of any player and where he shined in the team competition. Meanwhile, he remains 0-for-the majors, which sort of begs the question of why Garcia is so good in the Ryder Cup and so shaky in the game's biggest individual tournaments. "Everybody complains that he's not a good putter everywhere else,'' said U.S. Ryder Cup team member Chris DiMarco at the Ryder Cup. "But he sure made a lot of putts.'' Garcia is now 14-4-2. Garcia, 26, has been a top 10 player in the world for several years. A winner of six PGA Tour titles and six in Europe, he figured to have notched a major championship by now after finishing second to Woods at the 1999 PGA Championship when he was just 19. But since then, he's seen players such as David Duval, Rich Beem, Mike Weir, Ben Curtis, Shaun Micheel, Todd Hamilton, Michael Campbell and Geoff Ogilvy win majors. Woods has won 10 majors, Mickelson three, Retief Goosen two in that time.
 
She's just 17, you know what I mean, and the way she plays is...
 
Happy Birthday Michelle. Also congratulations on your one year anniversary as a pro. In ladies events, you entered 7, and won over $700,000 which placed you #14 on the women's money list. (Of course your endorsements make you #1). So, all in all, good show. Now as for your play against the men, well it is your birthday week, so as a gift, I will make no comment.
 
Hope he didn't use the rent money...
 
The U.S. team left with another lopsided defeat after the Ryder Cup, but it could have been worse. An unidentified person wagered more than $460,000 on a U.S. victory at the K Club, according to British bookmaker William Hill. Betting is legal in the United Kingdom. "The biggest (bet) we or anyone else have ever taken on a golf event, let alone the Ryder Cup,'' said William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe in an interview with Reuters. Since the European team went off as 5-to-6 favorites, the bet would have paid $558,000 had the U.S. team won.
 
 
Paralysis by Analysis
 
Rules and more rules...
 
In stroke play, a player's ball is embedded in its own pitch-mark in a closely mown area through the green. He takes relief under the embedded ball Rule, but, before dropping the ball, he repairs the pitch-mark. What is the ruling and why?
  1. There is no penalty
  2. One stroke penalty
  3. Two stroke penalty
  4. Disqualification, loss of game


There is a two stroke penalty.  Although rule 25-2 allows that a “ball is embedded in its own pitch-mark in a closely mown area through the green” may be lifted, cleaned and dropped without penalty,  the error is in fixing the area to be played before taking the drop and swing.  Rule 13-2 prohibits a player from improving the position or lie of their ball, the area of swing or stance, the line of play, and the area where their ball will be dropped or placed. Infraction of these rules results in a 2 stroke penalty. Ouch!
 
 
Reading the Line
 
Class and talent, what a combination...
 
Byron Nelson's resume was filled with numerous victories, but one usually does not show up in the record books. That's because it occurred when he was just 15 years old when he won the Glen Garden's annual caddie championship in 1927, defeating a guy named Ben Hogan by a single stroke. Think about that.

Nelson, who passed away on Sept. 26 at age 94, and Hogan, who died in 1997 -- two of the biggest legends in golf, both having caddied at a club in Forth Worth, Tex., before embarking on professional careers that were as different as they were extraordinary. They have often been referred to as rivals, although that is not really the case. Nelson's success came first. He won all five of his major championships before Hogan won the first of his nine.

Nelson won 31 of 54 tournaments in 1944-45, then quit playing competitive golf after the 1946 season at age 34. He finished with 52 PGA Tour victories, a number that Tiger Woods surpassed this year but immediately recognized as a total that could have been much larger. "He retired at a very early age, and if he would have kept playing another 10 years, kept playing to the longevity that the guys do now, I'm sure he probably would have even eclipsed Mr. (Sam) Snead,'' Woods said. "To (have one more victory) -- it's very misleading because his span of success was pretty impressive.''

Nelson is most known for his record 11 straight victories and 18 overall in 1945. The accomplishment is often downplayed because it was during World War II and fields were considerably weaker. But Hogan and Snead had both returned from tours of duty and played in a good number of those tournaments. And often forgotten is the number of opportunities to win majors Nelson lost because of the war. He won the Masters in 1937 and 1942, the U.S. Open in 1939 and the PGA Championship in 1940 and 1945. But because of the war, 14 majors were not played during the early 1940s. His 1945 PGA win was the only major contested that year.

Nelson is considered the father of the modern golf swing and was one of the first players to successfully make the transition from hickory shafts to steel.

"You can always argue who was the greatest player in golf,'' former U.S. Open champion and CBS analyst Ken Venturi once said. "But Byron Nelson is the finest gentleman this game has ever known."
 
If we didn't play every other Ryder Cup in the U.S., we could maybe blame the water...
 
You can quibble with the picks and the pairings, debate the merits of the qualification process, wonder about the commitment of the players, or consider dozens of other reasons why the United States Ryder Cup team is having so much trouble in an event that it used to dominate. All of it neglects one single fact: the top U.S. players need to play better.

It has been the story for three straight defeats to the Europeans, including the latest fiasco in which the Americans were drubbed 18 1/2 to 9 1/2 in Ireland, matching the worst defeat ever two years prior at Oakland Hills. Simply, the top Americans did not get the job done. Again.

Yes, No. 1-ranked Tiger Woods went 3-2, his best showing in five Ryder Cup appearances. But he was an ordinary 2-2 with No. 2 Jim Furyk in the team competition. Furyk then lost his singles match. No. 3 Phil Mickelson was not on the winning side of a single match, going 0-4-1. David Toms, ranked 15th in the world, was 0-3-1, same for No. 16 Chris DiMarco. That means those five players -- the heart and soul of the U.S. team -- managed to factor in 4 1/2 of the 9 1/2 points the U.S. team won. Or, not nearly enough.
 
 
 

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