December 14, 2006
Volume V, Issue 19
The golf season really never ends
It just kind of morphs into another. Even thought the PGA Tour's official year ended the first week of October, golfers pop up in Silly Season events around the Globe. The European Tour's 2007 season has already begun, even though it is just 2006.
And so, Fringe Faithful, you have to draw the line in the sand trap somewhere, and we are doing it here. Off the Fringe takes a look back at the year in golf.
If you subscribe to the theory that the major championships are the biggest events in the sports -- and we do -- then Tiger Woods inching closer to Jack Nicklaus was again the story of 2006. Woods won consecutive majors at the British Open and PGA Championship to run his total to 12, leaving him six behind the Golden Bear.
Woods climbed the charts with eight PGA Tour titles and now has 54 victories in his career. That leaves him behind just four players: Sam Snead (82), Jack Nicklaus (73), Ben Hogan (64) and Arnold Palmer (62). During the course of the year, Woods became only the seventh player in history to win 50 times, then passed Billy Casper (51) and Byron Nelson (52).
Could Lord Byron's record be next? Woods ended the season winning six straight PGA Tour events, matching his longest stretch from 1999-2000 and also tying Ben Hogan for the second-longest in tour history. Hogan did it in 1948. Even Tiger says that Byron Nelson's record of 11 in a row set in 1945 seems impossible to match, but Tiger could be toying with us.
The game says goodbye to a couple of legendary figures. Golf lost one of its all-time legends in Byron Nelson, who died in October at age 94. Nelson had the sport's greatest professional season in 1945 and what many believed to be one of its greatest swings. He was known as much for his grace and humility as his Hall of Fame career. Nelson won 18 tournaments, including 11 in a row in 1945. He also made 113 consecutive cuts, a record that stood until Woods broke it in 2003. 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.''
The game also lost another prominent person, and although he never hit a shot in a professional event, Earl Woods' impact will never be forgotten. His son, Tiger, is on his way to becoming the best of all time, and it was Earl who guided him down the proper path. He died after a long illness in May.
There was the usual assortment of player-caddie and player-coach breakups, among them teenager Michelle Wie dumping caddie Greg Johnston over the summer despite being just a part-time player. But the biggest divorce was a real one.
John Daly and his wife, Sherrie, filed for divorce in November. Sherrie, who had been indicted on federal charges of laundering drug money and spent time in jail, was his fourth wife. After winning $25,000 on the first hole of the Skins Game, Daly quipped, "That'll help with one of the alimony checks.''
Who would have believed that neither Ernie Els nor Retief Goosen would win a tournament anywhere in the world in 2007? Or that Vijay Singh would win just one? Or that Michelle Wie, for all her talent and hype, would be shut out? Or that Phil Mickelson would not win again after Augusta? Or that Sergio Garcia would dress like a canary during the final round of the British Open (and not win a tournament anywhere)? Or that the Americans would get trounced -- again -- at the Ryder Cup? Or that Annika Sorenstam would win just three times? Or that Mexico's Lorena Ochoa would win six?
There is one and only one gigantic blooper to really talk about: Phil Mickelson's collapse at the U.S. Open. How much different might 2006 have been if Mickelson had been able to make a par at the 72nd hole at Winged Foot. That would have given him two majors in 2006, three in a row and four of the past 10. Instead, he hit a lousy drive that bounced off a hospitality tent. Although that was a grave error, the real mistake came on his second shot, when he tried to pull it off and hit the green. Instead, he hit a tree, leading to a double-bogey 6. Geoff Ogilvy was the beneficiary. Mickelson missed a playoff by a stroke and was never the same the rest of the year.
Steve Stricker didn't even have a PGA Tour card when the year began, and he played well enough to earn consideration for the U.S. Ryder Cup team ... Se Ri Pak was in such a slump in 2005 that she quit the season early, then came back to win a major championship, the LPGA ... Karrie Webb had gone more than a year without winning, but holed a miraculous wedge shot on the 72-hole of the Kraft Nabisco for an eagle, then defeated Lorena Ochoa in a playoff on her way to five victories.
Rules and more rules...
A cart runs over your ball in play, embedding it into the turf. Darn, I just hate that.
Lets look at 4 situations:
- The cart belongs to a rules official.
- The cart belongs to you or your partner
- The cart belongs to your opponent (during a search for the ball).
- The cart belongs to your opponent (other than during a search for the ball).
Do you play the ball as it lies? Do you replay the ball? Do you replace the ball? Do you incur a penalty?
- If this cart belongs to the rules official, you must replace the ball per Rule 18-1 [Ball at Rest Moved By Outside Agency]. There is no penalty, but the original lie has been altered; and Rule 20-3b applies, which states: "If the original lie of a ball to be placed or replaced has been altered: except in a hazard, the ball shall be placed in the nearest lie most similar to the original lie which is not more than one club-length from the original lie, not nearer the hole and not in a hazard ..."
- If this cart belongs to you or your partner (whether it is shared by you or not), Rule 20-3b applies as stated above. HOWEVER, you will be penalized one stroke in stroke play or in match play under Rule 18-2 [Ball at Rest Moved by Player, Partner, Caddie, or Equipment].
- If this cart belongs to your opponent (match play) during the search for the ball, or your fellow-competitor [stroke play] at any time, there is no penalty; and Rule 20-3b applies as stated above.
- If this cart belongs to your opponent, and other than during search for the ball, Rule 20-3b applies as stated above; and the opponent shall incur a penalty of one stroke per Rule 18-3.
Show me the money...
2006 PGA top 10 Money Winners:
2006 LPGA top 10 Money Winners:
- Tiger Woods (15 events) $9.91 million
- Jim Furyk (24) $7.21 million
- Adam Scott (19) $4.97 million
- Vijay Singh (27) $4.62 million
- Geoff Olgilvy (20) $4.35 million
- Phil Milkelson (19) $4.25 million
- Trevor Immelman (24) $3.84 million
- Stuart Appleby (23) $3.47 million
- Luke Donald (18) $3.17 million
- Brett Wetterich (25) $3.02 million
2006 Champions Tour top 10 Money Winners:
- Lorena Ochoa (25 events) $2.59 million
- Karrie Webb (21) $2.09 million
- Annika Sorenstam (20) $1.97 million
- Julieta Granada (30) $1.63 million
- Christie Kerr (26) $1.57 million
- Mi Hyun Kim (30) $1.33 million
- Juli Inkster (21) $1.32 million
- Jeong Jang (27) $1.15 million
- Hee-Won Han (27) $1.14 million
- Pat Hurst (24) $1.12 million
- Jay Haas (21 events) $2.42 million
- Loren Roberts (21) $2.36 million
- Brad Bryant (20) $1.62 million
- Tom Kite (25) $1.64 million
- Gil Morgan (27) $1.52 million
- Scott Simpson (27) $1.34 million
- Jim Thorpe (26) $1.29 million
- Tom Jenkins (27) $1.28 million
- Bobby Watkins (25) $1.193 million
- David Edwards (20) $1.191 million