Monday, July 19, 2010

King Louis

Some random thoughts in regard to The Open Championship.

1. Louis Oosthuizen dusted the field with class. Seems like a great guy.

2. His wife wears nice boots.

3. Paul Casey handled himself quite well, particularly with his comments at the conclusion of play.

4. Few people outside the ropes gave Louis much of a chance. Where has he been? Will we see this level of driving excellence again? Louis putted great, but I think the driver was the key club. The analysts kept saying that when Louis drives the ball well, the rest of his game follows suit. Obviously.

5. Method or no method, Tiger Woods is officially in the worst putting slump of his life. Karma is a bastid.

6. Golf heads into the fourth quarter. I wonder when we will see Tiger again. He carves up Firestone like an Iron Chef, so that would be my guess. Maybe he will even contend.

7. The Euros look formidable on paper for The Ryder Cup. Revenge is in their hearts, as well. I'm elated that Louis will not be on that team.

8. Retief Goosen and Ernie Els predicted that this was just the start for Louis. I hope so, mostly because The Open Championship seems to allow One Hit Wonders that never return to the charts with another tune.

9. I am not a fan of St. Andrews as it is currently set up. Neither the opening or the closing holes are worthy of a major. Of course, the history is there, but really, when you have a landing area that would serve a 757, it's not exactly the kind of pressure one might have to begin or end a round, for instance at Carnoustie. A great deal of the pressure at St. Andrews comes from the history of the place and the magnitude of the event, not enough from the golf course.

One suggestion is that new bunkers are needed to foil the modern technology, and perhaps a series of unexpected hazards, such as snakes, land mines and clowns.

When you have someone putt for eagle 4 times in a round (as Tiger did), and there are only 2 par 5s, something's not quite right.

The 18th hole is a horrible finishing hole. The drama is on 16 and 17, and those two, in a perfect world in my view, would finish.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Method And Its Madness

I'd say the biggest news early today at The Open Championship is that Tiger has benched The Method, in favorite of his oldest, and perhaps only friend: The Scotty Cameron putter. Those harsh sounds you're hearing are Nike executives shouting spicy epithets that don't belong in a family show.

Weiskopf and Strange are saying it's not a big deal. But I doubt they'd say that to Nike.

Weiskopf said that Tiger has nothing to lose. That's for sure. We've all heard the legendary Tom Kite stories that he would take a putting lesson from anyone. I don't think Tiger has wandered into that house of mirrors. Not yet anyway. Perhaps he truly believes an equipment change is what is needed.

But I'm always suspicious when players at the elite level blame the arrow. In some cases and types of clubs/shafts, it's true: The arrow can hurt you.

My opinion about the putter is similar to the one I have about religion. The truly fortunate have the most faith. There's no decision. No mulling. No pondering. It is what is. You either believe or you don't. Some believe, and most of us wonder. I think this is true for putting.

For most of his career, Tiger Woods had that confidence in his putter. A friend suggested  that Tiger's putting will improve when his off-course life settles down. I don't think he'd mind that I share that insight here, because it seems so true.  Karma is a fickle customer.

Putting. It can make or break you. Ben Hogan, for instance, believed that putting was a completely different animal than golf. I doubt that Loren Roberts or Brad Faxon would agree.  For most of his career, Tiger would not agree, either.  Tiger's comeback is nearly complete with the swing, imo, but his putting has meandered into the mental world.

Harvey Penick once said without a trace of snark, "if you want to be a better putter, make some putts."
Confidence. Confidence. Confidence.

Even Jack had putting slumps, and one was so bad, he had a putter  with a face about the size of a broom in 1986 at Augusta. And we know how that week turned out. But it was just that week.  Still, a bunch of those over-sized clubs were sold in a matter of moments. Imagine the Nike dream on Thursday. They were drinking champagne and mulling the profits on Thursday night after Tiger had a very good putting round with The Method. Today, they're hunting advil and valium. Meanwhile, Scotty Cameron will be watching with renewed interest. His putter has been paroled, and is back in society. But will it succeed?

My opinion is that the evolution of Tiger's putting will echo his work with his swing. He's going to have flickers of Old Tiger, and those flickers will happen more and more, and last longer until he does get the confidence back.

I think it's going to be soon that Tiger wins again. I also believe that once The Ryder Cup and FedEx Cup have been completed, the default reboot will be a huge benefit.  As will more distance and time from last Thanksgiving.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

John Deere Letter


John Deere Classic?

What are the minimum requirements for the use of the word classic?  No offense to that part of the country, or lawn mower fanatics, but I am not exactly wrapping my arms around the notion that this event is a classic.

Yes, there is $4.4 million up for grabs and 500 FedEx Cup Points, not to mention some Christina Kim calendars, three pairs of socks worn by Stevie Williams, a can of STP, a gift certificate to Portillo's, and a map (to get the heck out of there).

I kid Silvis. I kid.

Oddly enough, I was unable to find confirmation of several suspicions in regard to "famous characters" in the region.

Long John Silvis. Our country's first land-locked pirate. "Legend" has it that LJS rustled cows with a souped up tractor, made by none other than the tournament's sponsor. As LJS made his getaway, meandering down 2-lane country roads with his newly acquired livestock. he was heard to yell, "Hi Ho Silvis."

Silvis Pressley:  A young man was working in his garden in East Moline was struck by lightning. He never knew what hit him, but when he woke, he couldn't stop singing "Hound Dog" and "Suspicious Minds." As he recovered, his passions turned from horticulture to fried banana sandwiches and jumpsuits.

The Young And The Silvis: Imagine that Grace Metallious (who wrote PEYTON PLACE) moved to Illinois after the success for her breakout best seller. Steamy stories in the heartland involving man, farming machines and lust. And, of course, women. Let's not forget the women.

The Silvis Chalice: Annually awarded to the do gooder who done the most good. This legendary crystal, so "they" say, was also used to give Madonna a drink of Fanta grape soda one afternoon when her entourage stopped to refuel at The Silvis Truck Centre.

Phil Silvis: As a youth, Phil Perkins was the class clown. His favorite TV show was "You'll Never Get Rich", which was also sometimes called "Sgt. Bilko." Phil loved the show because of the star, who had a snappy delivery, very similar to the speech intensity and pattern that current movie actor Vince Vaughn employs. (But I digress.)

Anyway, Phil legally changed his last name to the name of his home town, and a clever (or so he thought) homage to his favorite actor, Phil Silvers. Eventually, fantasy got the better of Phil Silvis. He  found an Army surplus store and bought a sergeant's uniform and was known to march up and down main street until the soles of his bare feet turned black.

But one day, Phil Silvis met Silvis Pressley at the corner of Main and Not So Main and a partnership was born. They hit the road as what many "historians" insist was the last vaudeville act of the 20th century. They now operate a fruit stand and occasional entertainment complex in Prophetstown, some 35 miles northeast of their home town.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sunday at Aronimink

Seems like we just did this.

Justin Rose perched at the top of the leaderboard before the start of a final round on the PGA Tour.

Rose channeled The Houdini I-Hop yesterday. Lots of escapes and scrambling. He got up and down from maximum insecurity at least four times. Dottie Pepper alert as in here comes what we already know: It was not a consistent ball striking round, but Rose kept his cool, and in a way, was still able to attack the golf course.

Aronimink is worthy of its own post, despite how much CBS (Finch and Faldo in particular) keep trying to sell us how great the place is. I can see that, as you can. Helen Keller could see it. In other words, we get it. Most of the viewing audience will never get the chance to play there, so why all the hype?

Of course, it is in great shape. And yes, the greens were never meant to be set up at the speed we will likely see today. Ron Prichard was mentioned several times. I thought one very interesting nugget was that Prichard studied Aronimink for 18 months before working on the course. That's very strong, imo.

It's really odd how much Terry Gannon has progressed as an on-air personality. He's got a compelling timbre to his voice, which is so much more appealing than Tilghman's steely drone. Gannon also has a sense of humor. I like how he works with Faldo much better than Nantz, who is relentlessly corporate.

The early coverage today will have some Tiger, who is due for a good round. Tiger was actually friendly and receptive in the interview I saw yesterday. Maybe the plus side is that he gets to leave Aronimink early today for his flight to Europe. I believe he's playing in a pro-am tomorrow. That ought to be interesting. But then again, my guess is that Tiger Woods One has plenty of beds.

Hope everyone has a pleasant July 4th.

And that reminds me of David Feherty, who is celebrating his first July 4th as an American citizen. I am impressed with Feherty's devotion to those in (or have been in) the military.

Feherty is the best aspect of CBS coverage, imo. And not because of his wit, but rather his honesty.  The task of being a voice on mainstream TV is to be compelling and corporate. Most of the announcers lean to much to the corporate. Feherty retains his individuality while blending into the mix.

Here's my "all-star" lineup for the "best" TV announce team.

Terry Gannon: lead.
Judy Rankin: Tower analyst with Gannon

Scott Van Pelt: Second choice lead
Andy North: Second choice tower analyst

For an extremely long day, let both groups handle four hours.

I realize many would opt for Scott and Andy, and I would too, except that I have always been very partial to Judy Rankin. She's amazing, and one of the most compelling moments EVER was the day she returned to golf coverage work after a serious illness. Tiger Woods said something to her that we learned later was in the welcome back mode. It clearly made Rankin emotional because of the depth of Tiger's comment.

Roger Maltbie and David Feherty: fairways. These are the two best, and no one else is close.

Johnny Miller: Swing Vision. Johnny knows the swing, and that's what he should discuss.

On various holes:

Peter Oosterhuis, Gary McCord, Scott Van Pelt & Andy North on a pivotal hole together, Renton Laidlaw (love that dude's accent).

We all have our favorites, so I doubt everyone is reading this and agreeing completely. Who's on your all-star golf announce team?

On the other side of the coin voices and personalities I would rather not endure for another second:

Jim Nantz
Dottie Pepper
Gary Koch
Mark Rolfing
CHRIS BERMAN is so obvious it is like saying I would rather not drive off a cliff.
Brad Faxon
Billy Andrade
Ian Baker-Finch is, I am told, a very, very nice guy. But for me, he's like a pound of sugar on Frosted Flakes. Finch states the obvious almost as much as Pepper, which is very hard to do.

"Well, we've got a Saturday. Looks like there will be air. Hope we get enough of it. if not, we're probably going to die."