A golf tournament to raise money for tree plantings around Irmo was a “MAJOR” success.
The tournament, held Oct 7 at The Club at Rawls Creek, raised $36,000.
We had almost 100 sponsors this year, which is a record for us.
Local Restaurant provided food for golfers. They Included Catch 22, Alodias Cucina Italiana, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Jersey Mikes, Carolina Wings and Rib House, and Mathias Sandwich Shop. Peanut Vendor Robbie Roberson provided boiled peanuts for the golfers.
Next year’s event will also include a tennis tournament!
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Longtime Kentucky pals Russ Cochran and Kenny Perry have shared a massive gallery the first two rounds of the Senior PGA Championship. Now, they also share the lead.
‘‘It’s been a great couple of days,’’ Cochran said after the pair each shot 5-under-66 on Friday. ‘‘He’s one of my best friends. We had a good time out there.’’
Cochran and Perry had matching 69s in the opening round, they tied for the best score in the second round and are the only players to break 70 both rounds. They bonded in high school in Paducah, a three-hour drive from St. Louis. When they play together for the third straight day Saturday as the final twosome, the following is likely to grow.
‘‘It’s been pretty neat for me to play alongside him for the last two days and for both of us to play tremendous,’’ Perry said. ‘‘We play a lot together.’’
The relationship is tight enough that Perry can joke that at dinners Cochran is ‘‘like a woman’’ with non-stop patter.
‘‘He’s got more stories. He’s hilarious. He’s so fun to be around, and I’m always the guy listening,’’ Perry said. ‘‘He controls everything when we’re out.’’
On the course, Cochran admires Perry’s control, rhythm and power.
‘‘The only thing I have to watch out for is Kenny hits it a long way,’’ Cochran said. ‘‘When someone hammers it you want to jump up and swing a little harder than you should.
‘‘So, I try not to do that.’’
Japan’s Kiyoshi Murota was two strokes back after a 70. Jay Haas and Duffy Waldorf, tied for the lead after the first round, matched Loren Roberts at 4 under. Roberts had a 68, and Haas and Waldorf shot 72.
The 54-year-old Cochran tied for seventh in the 1992 PGA Championship at Bellerive won by Nick Price. Cochran was tied for second after two rounds before falling back with a 76.
The left-hander began play on the back nine and had five birdies in a span of six holes, peaking at 8 under before a bogey on No. 6. He was proudest of a birdie on perhaps the most challenging hole on the course, the 477-yard par 4 at No. 10 with a creek guarding the green, hitting a 5-iron approach to about 4 feet.
‘‘I kind of felt like I hit the lottery a little bit,’’ Cochran said. ‘‘Anytime you birdie that hole, you really feel like you’ve done something good.’’
The 52-year-old Perry had five birdies in a bogey-free round, helped by a handful of 300-plus drives. Though somewhat new to the Champions Tour, he has been impressed by the consistency.
‘‘They don’t back up out here,’’ Perry said. ‘‘You’ve got to keep your foot on the gas pedal, keep making birdies.’’
Waldorf had a rocky round with six bogeys and five birdies, and joked when he was asked for a recap, ‘‘Oh great, my whole card we’re going to go through.’’ Like Cochran, Waldorf was a contender in the ‘92 PGA with a ninth-place finish.
Defending champion Roger Chapman just made the cut at 4 over after a 74.
‘‘I haven’t played very well this week,’’ Chapman said. ‘‘So yeah, if I make the cut it’s a bonus.’’
Bernard Langer made a 12-stroke improvement with a 67 and also was 4 over, rebounding from an opening round marred by consecutive triple bogeys.
Georgia club pro Sonny Skinner, who was a stroke back after the first round, shot 73. He was among 10 players, including Tom Watson, at 2 under.
Peter Jacobsen, who won the 2004 U.S. Senior Open at Bellerive, made a six-stroke improvement with a second-round 69 and is 2 over.
VIRGINIA WATER, England — Rory McIlory was one of five 2012 European Ryder Cup players to miss the cut Friday in the BMW PGA Championship, while Medinah teammate Francesco Molinari took the lead at cold and wet Wentworth. The second-ranked McIlory had a 3-over 75 to finish at 5 over. Two-time defending champion Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell and Paul Lawrie – all members of Europe’s winning team last year at Medinah – also dropped out early. Molinari put himself in position for his fourth European Tour title, shooting a 68 to take a one-stroke lead at 6 under. LeaderboardMolinari sits on top “I am really happy with my two days and while the conditions were quite tough, I’m hitting the ball well off the tee, and the putter is also working well,” the Italian said. South Africa’s George Coetzee, Scotland’s Marc Warren, England’s Mark Foster and Spain’s Alejandro Canizares were tied for second. Foster had a 69, and Coetzee, Warren and Canizares shot 70. Sergio Garcia, the Spanish player whose verbal sparring with Tiger Woods turned ugly this week when he said he would “serve fried chicken” if he had dinner with Woods, was five strokes back after a 71. McIlroy hit only four fairways in the second round, a roller-coaster front nine of four birdies but also five bogeys. He parred the next seven holes, made a double bogey on the 17th after driving out of bounds, and closed with a two-putt birdie. “It was just a tough day and I didn’t get off to the best start to be 2 over through three,” said McIlroy, who also missed the cut last year. “I did manage a couple of birdies to get back to level but it was a grind. I was missing a lot of greens and couldn’t really give myself many chances to make any shots back and obviously try to get into the weekend.” McIlroy was undecided as to whether to travel to Paris to see his girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki prepare for the French Open or travel to Monte Carlo for the Monaco Grand Prix auto race. Donald had a 72 to finish at 6. “Even for England this weather is pretty unseasonal and it made the course play very tough because the last couple of years it’s been very warm and the ball has travelled a lot,” Donald said. “I was 9 over through 21 holes playing pretty terrible golf, really.” Poulter was 8 over after a 76. “I’m fine. I’m fine,” Poulter said. “Don’t worry about me as I will be posting some good scores again, soon.” Lawrie was 3 over after a 72, and McDowell 5 over after a 75. In his last five events, McDowell missed the cut in the Masters, won the RBC Heritage, missed the cut in The Players Championship, won the Volvo Match Play Championship and missed cut in the BMW PGA. “My next tournament is the U.S. Open and I would say my preparation is perfect,” he said, laughing.
FORT WORTH, Texas — Matt Kuchar was hoping he would be able to finish his second round Friday night at Colonial. He ended up with the lead — and a very early wakeup call. Kuchar had only three holes to complete in what so far was a bogey-free round, with his ball already on the 16th green. He was at 10 under and described the conditions as “just perfect right now.” Colonial LeaderboardFive players within 2 shots But Kuchar was among 54 players still on the course when play was suspended at Hogan’s Alley because of an impending storm system. The 18 groups that didn’t finish are scheduled to resume the second round at 7:15 a.m. CT Saturday, just more than 12 1/2 hours after coming off the course. “That’s a bit of a bummer,” said Kuchar, who opened with a 5-under 65. “It’s no fun to wake up at 4:30 to get out here and play three holes.” At least Kuchar has the lead, by one stroke over Graham DeLaet, the Canadian who shot a 67 in a morning round completed before a 2-hour, 10-minute delay just after noon because of lightning. DeLaet was at 9-under 131. Kuchar, No. 13 in the world and the highest-ranked player in the field, took the lead with a 6-foot-birdie putt at 457-yard 14th hole, and recovered from a drive into a fairway bunker on the 15th for a par while clouds darkened and thunder could be heard in the distance. Soon after Kuchar, the WGC-Accenture Match Play winner in February, teed off at the par-3 16th, and his ball landed about 40 feet from the cup, the horn sounded ending play. It was raining heavily about 30 minutes later. First-round leader Ryan Palmer, the Colonial member who had an opening 62, was still at 8 under after an up-and-down 12 holes Friday that he managed to play at even par. Steve Flesch (64), 19-year-old Jordan Spieth (67) from Dallas and Josh Teater (67) finished at 8 under. Flesch’s 64 matched the best completed round of the day and, more importantly, will end his string of 16 missed cuts on the PGA Tour since October 2011. The 2004 Colonial champion missed the cut in all 12 of his PGA Tour starts last year before right shoulder surgery in August, and is playing only his third tour event this year. The 45-year-old Flesch is playing on a non-exempt major medical extension and has to make $647,510 between this weekend and his next three events to prolong that medical extension. “I’m very comfortable here and just glad to actually play on the weekend now,” Flesch said. “I was actually cruising, then I got that rain delay and I kind of lost all of my rhythm. … It’s like starting your whole round over. My swing didn’t feel very well on those last three (holes).” Flesch was on the course trying to complete his morning round when play was stopped for the first time. He had just made a 33-foot birdie putt at the difficult par-4 fifth hole, his 14th hole of the day. The lefty finished with four pars in a row. Palmer hit his opening drive way right at No. 1, a par 5 that is generally among Colonial’s easiest holes, and started with a par. The former Texas A&M golfer with three PGA Tour wins sank an 11-foot birdie putt at No. 3, but hit his drive at No. 5 behind a tree and took a drop in the rough, leading a double bogey. He followed with a bogey at No. 6 after driving into a fairway bunker. “When you shoot 8 under, it’s hard to come back sometimes. … I was calm all day, confident,” Palmer said. “Now I’m even par sitting on 13th tee, I have soft greens and pretty calm winds in the morning, so maybe I can get up there with Kuchar and we can have some fun tomorrow.” In his last three holes before the suspension of play, Palmer made an 8-foot birdied at No. 10 and rolled in a 27-footer at No. 12. He never teed off at the par-3 13th. Kuchar matched DeLaet for the lead after four birdies his first seven holes. Kuchar had a 15-foot eagle chance at No. 1 that came up just short, then his approach at No. 2 stopped inside 3 feet after ricocheting out of the cup. “The front nine, I really got it going,” Kuchar said. “I jarred a shot on 2 that landed in the hole and came back out. … I really got off to a great start. And then I kept playing some good golf.” DeLaet was 10 under after his third consecutive birdie, a 6-footer at the 373-yard second hole that was his shortest putt in that stretch. Then he arrived at Colonial’s famed “horrible horseshoe” as the Nos. 3-5 holes are known because of their layout and the difficulty of the stretch — a 239-yard par 3 sandwiched by the two longest par 4s on the course. “It definitely got me today,” said DeLaet, who bogeyed all three holes. After DeLaet’s tee shot at the 470-yard third hole went into a fairway bunker, the Canadian badly missed the green at the par 3 before his approach shot at the 475-yard fifth hole came up short of the green. But DeLaet finished strong, with consecutive birdies to finish after he had come up just short of a 31-foot birdie at No. 7. “Always nice, and kind of got myself right back in it,” said DeLaet, whose has never finished better than third on the PGA Tour in 69 events. “The main thing for me, I feel more comfortable now if I see my name on the leaderboard. … A few years ago, if I was in 15th going into the weekend, I knew if I could just maintain that position that that would be a `good check’ kind of thing. My mindset now is beyond that. I want to try to win golf tournaments.”
Getty ImagesTom Watson shares a laugh with Peter Jacobsen on the fifth hole during the Senior PGA Championship
TOWN AND COUNTRY, Mo. — Tom Watson has already won the Senior PGA Championship twice. Even more impressive, he won those two major titles 10 years apart.
Golf’s senior circuit measures time in dog years. It’s accepted that most senior tourists are confined to a five-year window of truly being competitive, between the ages of 50 and 55. There are exceptions, of course. Hale Irwin has won 45 times and is still playing good golf at 67.
Watson is another. Winning the Senior PGA in 2001 and ’11 is a longevity record that may never be broken. (He shares that mark with Jock Hutchison, who won in 1937 and 1947). Unless Watson breaks it himself. Which he may do. On Friday, the 63-year-old Watson put together a solid round of even-par 71, a round that was far more encouraging than his opening-round 69.
On Thursday, Old Tom played like Young Tom. It was a nice example of Watson Golf, as it used to be called, when that Young Watson kid used to get up and down from a ball-washer for par on a regular basis. Watson was in nine bunkers on Thursday, but he scraped it around and stitched together a good score.
“Sometimes, you just have to have a day like yesterday to say you can still do it when you’re playing cruddy,” Watson said, grinning. “And use other tools in your tool box, like your putter, to make it happen. That’s the way I used to do it — hit it all over the lot and shoot two under par.”
On Friday, Watson didn’t miss any of Bellerive Country Club’s lush fairways, which is a key to survival on this track. The greens are big, but if an approach shot ends up in the wrong quadrant of the putting surface, chances for a bogey are good.
Old Tom played like the Old Tom we’re using to seeing in recent years. His swing still has that wonderful tempo, the ball still makes that crisp click at impact. His is a swing to savor, even at 63. His score didn’t reflect his fine play because of a few mistakes.
The second-round errors involved hitting two balls into the water. One of them was a good shot, a seven-iron at the 3rd hole. He misjudged the wind, the ball found the hazard and he made double-bogey. The other was a poor shot. He hit driver off the fairway while trying to reach the par-5 8th green, as he’d done successfully at the par-5 4th.
“I hit a foot behind the ball with the driver,” Watson said with a chuckle. “It was an awful shot.”
That miscue led to a bogey. He also had a pair of three-putts.
“It could have been a decent round if I didn’t make those lousy shots,” Watson said, “but that’s the game.”
Despite posting a higher score, Watson walked off the course on Friday more encouraged about his game going into the weekend. The man is still in contention. First round co-leader Duffy Waldorf shot 72 and finished 36 holes at four over par. Watson was only two off Waldorf’s early clubhouse lead, and the Watson name is still one that opponents tread around lightly when they see it on the leader board.
Bellerive is a ballstriker’s course, and Watson, at his best, is a consummate ballstriker. He’s also got some local knowledge. This is his part of the country, sort of. He’s from Kansas City, this is St. Louis and the cities are only the width of Missouri apart even if they’re rival baseball towns.
“Umpire Don Denkinger was our friend in the 1985 World Series when the Kansas City Royals played against the St. Louis Cardinals,” Watson said. “I still ask people here in St. Louis, ‘Do you remember Don Denkinger?’ And they get angry at me. Yes, they do, they remember Don and that call in the sixth game that allowed us to win that game and then go on and win Game 7.”
Watson is a big baseball fan, especially of his beloved Royals, and he’s already got tickets to games Monday and Tuesday when they host their favorite enemy. “The Royals continue to lose one-run games,” Watson said. “We’re terrible. We’ll see if we can get off the schneid.”
As he walked past the clubhouse toward the scoring area after his round, Watson bumped into former Cardinals great Ozzie Smith, and the two chatted for a minute. They were paired in Wednesday’s pro-am, and their paths have crossed before. “He’s a nice man,” Watson said of Smith, a Hall of Famer. “He does a lot of things for kids and charity here.”
Asked if he could reprise Smith’s signature move at shortstop, a back flip, Watson laughed heartily.
“Yeah. I tried that one time in the sand when I was younger and was an athlete in those days,” he said, chuckling, “and I didn’t quite make it.”
He’ll be back for the weekend at Bellerive with an eye on the leaderboard. He’s Tom Watson. He can most definitely make that.
The attorney for anchorers Tim Clark and Carl Pettersson is prepared to take the USGA and the R&A to court, pending the PGA Tour’s decision to back the ban or stick with its anti-ban stance.
Tim Clark, worried about his golf-playing future if the PGA Tour ends up backing the USGA and R&A’s impending ban on anchored putting, would rather fight the new law than switch to a short putter.
Clark, whose passionate defense of anchoring helped convince several tour players and commissioner Tim Finchem that prohibiting it made no sense, has banded together with Carl Pettersson and seven others who are prepared to take golf’s governing bodies to court over the issue.
Should it come to that — after the regulators announced Tuesday that an anchoring ban would go into effect in 2016 — and they were to lose, the nine players — and potentially more — could return to court to seek financial damages, according to their attorney, Harry Manion.
While optimistic that Finchem won’t back down from his staunch anti-ban stand, which he went public with earlier this year, Manion outlined a scenario that could keep the acronym-filled organizations in lawsuits for years to come.
“If [Finchem does a 180] and Tim [Clark] tries to continue as a professional and he can’t effectively compete without the stroke he’s used for 18 years, most of his professional career,” hypothesized Manion, who added Pettersson into the scenario, “and they can’t engage in their livelihoods, yeah, I think they have damages to claim.”
Manion, who has been working with Clark, Pettersson, and the others who prefer to remain anonymous, since January, observed that “there are a lot of ‘ifs’ along the way.”
The Boston-based litigator, a founding partner of the high-profile firm of Cooley Manion Jones, spoke with SBNation on Thursday about what could happen if Finchem decided to go along with the rule, which the USGA and R&A announced on Tuesday would take effect on Jan. 1, 2016.
Finchem said in February that his players “did not think that banning anchoring was in the best interests of golf or the PGA Tour.” The tour issued a wait-and-see notice after the rules-makers handed down their pronouncement on Tuesday.
“We will now begin our process to ascertain whether the various provisions of Rule 14-1b will be implemented in our competitions and, if so, examine the process for implementation,” read the tour’s statement.
With the tour’s player advisory council set to meet next week and a policy board confab slated for July, Manion said he expected a decision from Finchem within six weeks.
“We feel that we are going to continue to get a fair hearing at [both meetings],” Manion said. “We are optimistic that the tour will stand by its statement and afford the users of the stroke some form of protection against this rule.”
In the meantime, Clark, a four-time PGA and European Tour winner, has had trouble sleeping, concerned that he may have to revert to a manner of putting he has not employed since college because of physical discomfort maneuvering a short putter.
“A year ago, my future in the game, I could see it. I planned to play until I physically no longer could play,” the 37-year-old South African told the AP. “Now it’s a case of I’ve been told ‘no, hang on, that might change. You’re going to change the way you putt here in a few years’ time’ and now my future is uncertain.”
Manion’s task is to help ensure his clients can continue to work in their chosen field.
“We absolutely hope for the best,” said Manion, “but my job is to prepare for the worst.”
JACKSON, MI – Brian Stuard was well on his way to making another cut at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Friday night before play was suspended due to weather. Thanks to a weather delay earlier in the day, which lasted more than two hours, Stuard didn’t hit the course until 3:43 p.m. Play was suspended at 7:38 p.m. with the possibility of another storm. Stuard started the day on the front nine and was 1-under par through 12 holes before play was suspended. His 1-under par takes him to 4-under par for the tournament. The projected cut line currently sits at 1-under par. Stuard was back and forth through the front nine, answering birdies with bogeys.He opened the day with a birdie on his opening hole, but gave a stroke back with a bogey on No. 3. Following two pars on Nos. 4 and 5, he carded another birdie on the 406-yard, par-4 sixth. But once again, Stuard gave a stroke back with a bogey on No. 9. Following a par on No. 10, the Jackson native collected another birdie on the long 635-yard, par-5 11th.A 297-yard tee shot found the left side of the fairway, which was followed with 226-yard shot that fell 108 yards short of the hole. A nice chip shot to the green left 6 ½ feet to the hole, which Stuard rolled in for the birdie.He finished the day with a par on No. 12 when play was suspended following his putt. Leading the way after suspended play is Matt Kuchar at 10-under par through 15 holes. Sitting one stroke back from Kuchar is Graham DeLaet, who was able to finish his round on the day.Play will resume at 8:15 a.m. Saturday with the third beginning shortly after the second round wraps up. The Golf Channel will carry coverage from 1-2:30 p.m. and 6:30-11 p.m. Saturday. NBC will carry coverage from 3-6 p.m.
Sergio Garcia’s recent “fried chicken” comment about Tiger Woods was in poor taste—but it’s one of the more captivating things that’s happened to golf in a while.
Every week, our panel of sports fans discusses a topic of the moment. For today’s conversation, Hampton Stevens (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic), Jake Simpson (writer, The Atlantic), and Patrick Hruby (writer, Sports on Earth and The Atlantic) discuss the recent dust-up involving Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia, and a bizarre remark about fried chicken.
Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia have never liked each other very much. This week, though, their tiff got weird.
It started a few weeks ago, back at the PGA’s Players Championship. Garcia complained about being distracted on the course, saying that Woods selected a club during Garcia’s backswing. That alone would be a dire breach of golf’s weird, kabuki-like and all-important gentlemanly code.
But this is Tiger Woods we are talking about. Fans on tour will cheer Tiger for burping. The act of selecting a club is always enough to prompt applause. It’s fairly absurd.
Did Woods pull the club and distract Garcia? If so, was it on purpose? Despite investigative reporting to rival Woodward and Bernstein, no one seems to have the slightest clue. Nevertheless, the two have been vaguely insulting each other through the media ever since.
All in good fun, until this week. Garcia was on stage during the European Tour Players’ Awards dinner. A reporter clearly looking to stir up a story asked Garcia asked if he planned to have Woods for dinner. Garcia said he would have Woods over every night and serve fried chicken.
It was creepy and strangely echoed Fuzzy Zoeller’s similarly racist comments way back in 1997, when Tiger stormed to his historic first Masters win. Garcia, of course, has apologized a few times times now—online and before an assembled media throng.
Guys, how bad was Sergio’s remark? Can he be excused? Spanish fans do have a rich history of racism, casually tossing out vicious taunts. Garcia might have grown up just not knowing any better. Now he does. It’s also clear this rivalry is better off the links.
Woods, it seems, will never have a real rival. Sam Snead had his Ben Hogan. Arnold Palmer had Jack Nicklaus. Nicklaus had Tom Watson. Bird had his Magic. Not Tiger. Beyond a few seasons from Phil Mickelson, Woods has never had a rival worthy of his talent. The guy’s best fights have been with his wife and caddies.
The other question if this kind of public sniping is good for the PGA—sans the racism, obviously.
Part of me wants the tour to get with the 21 century, to self-promote by encouraging just this sort of Twitter trash-talk rivalry. (Again, that’s with nobody channeling the KKK.) The secret moralist in me, though, cries at the ugliness of our graceless age and longs for golf at least to remain a silent, stodgy bastion of reserve.
Jake, Patrick, give me your take on the Fried Chicken Incident and the future of golf.
All good questions, Hampton. Let’s take ‘em one at a time.
— No, Sergio should not be excused for saying he would serve fried chicken if a black man—in this case, Tiger—came over to his house. Racist or not, Sergio’s undeniably a moronic, underachieving whiner who’s come up short in every big tournament in his career and is best left alone to cry in the corner.
— Tiger’s never really had a rival, not even when Phil Mickelson was winning three of eight majors from 2004-2006. Mickelson has never beaten Tiger down the stretch in a major, and David Duval and Vijay Singh didn’t either. We can only hope that Rory McIlroy capitalizes on his vast potential and becomes a worthy foil to Tiger for the next few years.
— Public sniping in general is bad for golf, and not only because it comes off as a lame attempt to attract eyeballs and Page Six headlines. Simply put, golf sucks at scandals, at least ones that don’t involve Ambien, broken car windows, and Perkins hostesses. They are invariably nastier and pettier than their counterparts in other sports and often devolve into inappropriate, even racist invective. Take Sergio flipping off the gallery at Bethpage on Long Island during the 2002 U.S. Open after the fans ragged his endless pre-shot waggles, then moaning at a post-second round news conference that the conditions would have been poor enough to stop play had Tiger been on the course. Or the Zoeller incident, which went from “amusing” to “uncomfortable” to “blatantly racist” in about five seconds. The best “scandals” from golf’s last 15 years have come when golf peons (Stephen Ames, Rory Sabbatini) have challenged Tiger’s ability and then been blown away on the course. Honestly, “9-and-8″ is the best controversy-related line uttered in the last decade of golf (Tiger’s off-course dalliances notwithstanding).
Golf sucks at scandals, at least ones that don’t involve Ambien, broken car windows, and Perkins hostesses.
The recent defamation suit against the PGA Tour filed by Singh—he of the Tiger Who? mini-scandal—is a classic example of a scandal done badly. Singh sued after PGA Tour officials botched a test of the Fijian golfer for using deer antler spray, but legal experts have said he has no chance of prevailing. As ESPN’s Lester Munson put it, “As he continues with his career, instead of mentions of his 34 Tour wins including three majors, he will now face in media accounts and in the galleries routine use of the adjective ‘litigious’ and the embarrassing phrase ‘deer antler spray.’”
Until golf can do better than “deer antler spray lawsuit” and “fried chicken racist,” it should keep its scandals as tamped down as possible. Got a different take, Patrick?
Hampton, what’s your take on this?
Before delving into Tiger v. Sergio, a few words about fried chicken. It’s delicious. Delicious hot. Delicious cold. Delicious from franchise fast food joints and hipster localvore gastopubs, from grandma’s kitchen and from convenience store heat-lamp displays. ESPN’s Bomani Jones has things exactly right: fried chicken should unite us, not divide us. Black, white, whatever—our tongues are all pink.
(And man, am I suddenly hungry).
Anyway, the controversy. Garcia deserves to be shamed. No question about it. He was being an ass. Which, frankly, seems to come naturally to him. You know how you can tell that Garcia was out of line? He made Woods—the dullest, least likable celebrity marketing cipher this side of Kim Kardashian—seem sympathetic. Like a victim. At the very least, Garcia’s fried chicken crack was stupid. It was the piece de resistance of a whole bunch of stupid between the two golfers, a catty, passive-aggressive, aggressive-aggressive, he said what?!? tit-for-tat that has played out for weeks on “Pardon the Interruption” and elsewhere; an unstoppable avalanche of stupid that is still going on, with European Tour CEO George O’Grady defending Garcia by saying that “most of Sergio’s friends are colored athletes in the United States.”
O’Grady subsequently apologized for using the term “colored.” He did not backtrack from playing the “but some of my best friends are black!” card, which has only been the subject of standup comedy ridicule for, oh, four decades. Like I said, the avalanche keeps rushing downhill. And unlike you, Jake, I kind of love it. Golf doesn’t need less public sniping. Golf needs more. Golf needs more pettiness, more mouthing off, more rinky-dink disrespect, more ¿quién es mas macho?, more TMZ-ness. Golf needs a garrulous Rex Ryan. A dysfunctional New York Jets. A dithering Dwight Howard. A villainous Nick Saban. It needs to embrace the obvious: half the fun in following sports—more than half, actually—doesn’t come from the sports themselves. It comes from the swirling male soap operas around them.
If the sport ever wants to expand beyond its niche audience, it needs to attract casual fans. People who don’t care about golf, but who might care if golfers give them something human to care about.
Jake, you note that golf sucks at scandals. I agree. But that’s only because golf is obsessed with rules, decorum, order and selling corporate-minded old white men (and everyone who aspires to become those guys) a comforting, fabulistic vision of a world that doesn’t actually exist, complete with somnambulant commentary from Jim Nantz. (See also: The Masters.) If the sport ever wants to expand beyond its niche audience—lucrative, yes, but still niche—it needs to attract casual fans. People who don’t care about golf, but who might care about particular golfers if said golfers give them something recognizably human to care about. There’s a reason Woods’s tabloid-spectacular sexcapade meltdown resonated with the public in a way that Tiger Woods, buffed-edge symbol of bland performance excellence never did. The latter is a good way to advertise a management consulting firm to mid-tier executives sipping cocktails in the first-class cabin, trying to find meaning and affirmation in the pages of a SkyMall catalog; the former is a good way to interest the rest of us in line at the supermarket, looking to have fun, pass time, get outraged, feel something.
Look, the whole hook of sports fandom—the whole hook to following anything in today’s over-saturated attention economy—is emotional engagement. Wins and losses provide that. Extracurriculars provide that and then some. NBC has built its popular Olympic coverage around soft-focus personality features; ESPN has built an entire media empire around live sports augmented by an endless stream of argumentative, provocative jibber-jabber; the reality TV boom of the last decade—of ginned-up competition—is essentially the triumph of sports-style programming for people who don’t like actual sports. The Tiger-Sergio affair brings golf one step closer to professional wresting. And that’s a good thing. Short of Jack Nicklaus emerging from the clubhouse with a metal folding chair as Tiger lines up a major-winning putt attempt, the sport really can’t ask for more.
DUBLIN, Ohio — There isn’t a pro golfer who doesn’t have a story about a “Play That Funky Music” ringtone coming from the gallery during a backswing, or the time a tourist with a flip phone was snapping photos in the middle of a critical putt.The Memorial is the latest tournament to try to do something about it.The event, which tees off next week, allows fans to carry cell phones on the course if they are put on vibrate. For the first time, a cadre of volunteers will follow the most popular groups, hoping to alleviate spectators’ loud rings and the efforts of amateur photographers.Jack Nicklaus, founder and host of the Memorial, applauds (but not during a shot) the steps taken.”The tournament has achieved the balance between giving patrons the ability to use their mobile devices in the appropriate and permitted areas, while giving the players in the field the ability to compete without disturbance, distraction or interruption,” he said.Areas will be set aside to make and take calls. The patrolling volunteers will try to clamp down on any abuses everywhere else.A year ago at the Memorial, Phil Mickelson cited “mental fatigue” for withdrawing after the first round at Muirfield Village. Most believe the real reason was his frustration with a flood of distractions from outside the ropes involving cell phones.”It took Phil out of his game,” said Bubba Watson, who joined Mickelson and Rickie Fowler in that rock-star grouping. “Phil’s a great player and a great champion and it just took him out of his game. It’s sad. It’s sad that cell phones can make or break a championship.”As a result, the Memorial is trying to stave off a repeat.”That group last year made us realize that we had work to do in improving our mobile-device policy,” said Dan Sullivan, the Memorial’s executive director. “It wasn’t isolated to that group.”Nothing is isolated about the problem; it’s everywhere.Se Ri Pak was hitting a tee shot on the fourth hole of the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open when a cell phone rang in the stands. During the Web.com tour event in Panama a couple of years ago, the phone of Alastair Presnell’s caddie went off five times in seven holes. Presnell finally asked his caddie to throw the thing into a bush, which he did.The PGA Tour and others are trying to meet people halfway. Bay Hill and The Players Championship also have volunteers who scour the crowds looking for possible problems.At last year’s PGA Championship, marshals would stop someone who was using their phone improperly and put a red check mark on the back of their ticket. If there was already a check mark there, meaning they had already been warned, the phone was taken away until the spectator claimed it upon leaving the course.The Open Championship allowed cell phones for the first time last year but observers said there were continual abuses of fans using cameras during play. Adding to the confusion, The Open even offers tournament updates to mobile devices for those walking the course.At the Masters, you must leave your phone at the gate. The prevailing opinion is that Augusta National will never, ever permit cell phones for spectators.Just as cell phones have become a part of daily life, they’ve become a necessary evil for players.Tiger Woods has won 14 major championships and is the defending champ at the Memorial, where he’s won five times. He’s grown accustomed to the snaps, clicks and rings — although many of his playing partners have not.”When they’ve played with me on the weekend rounds, they’re not quite used to the amount of movement and … well, now the new thing is the cell phones going off,” he said last year. “It costs them a shot here and there, and that’s what it’s done to me in most of the tournaments I’ve played.”Some places are worse than others for distractions. But not even the world’s No. 1 player has an answer for how to combat them.At Woods’ own AT&T National last year, the crowds were large and particularly loud. Marshals regularly had to collect cell phones from fans caught taking pictures during the tournament.Watson, the 2012 Masters champion, says the situation can be almost unbearable for players.”When they make these marquee pairings, more people are going to follow them and more people want to take pictures. So it makes it very difficult,” Watson said after Mickelson’s upsetting round last year. “Ever since they made that rule that cell phones are allowed, it’s just not fun playing.”It’s an odd predicament for golf’s ruling bodies. After all, the sport’s financial lifeblood is large corporations which buy the most ad time and gobble up tournament sponsorships. Those are institutions run by businesspeople who need to be linked to their office by a cell phone. Yet most governing bodies disdain anyone having cell phones on the course during tournament play.Irony of all ironies, the USGA offers its book of rules as an app for Android devices or iPhones — an app that can’t be used during the U.S. Open by fans because the USGA prohibits phones on the course during the tournament.”We put competition first and foremost,” USGA executive director Mike Davis said in 2011. “We’re focused on fans, but if we were totally focused on fans you’d have the rope lines closer to play. We’re more focused on the competition itself. And until we, as an organization, are convinced that we can conduct a U.S. Open, a Women’s Open, U.S. Amateur, Girls’ Junior, with spectators using cell phones, we’re going to continue to prohibit them.”On the other hand, most public events are a feeding frenzy for those with cameras on their cell phones. Been to a concert lately? Odds are, arrayed in front of you were hundreds of tiny screens all taking video or photos as the music plays.It’s just like that on the PGA Tour, except the players hate loud or sudden noises while plying their trade. They can mentally blot out the sounds of blimps overhead, birds chirping and roars elsewhere on the course but they jump 3 feet when a phone clicks somewhere on the other side of the ropes.”The thing is, everyone thinks the players can’t play with noise,” said Peter Senior, who competes on the The Champions Tour. “They can. But when it’s really quiet and you hear it, that’s the problem. If there’s constant noise — even yahooing — the guys can play as long as it’s constant. But when it’s dead quiet and then something happens, the guys get upset.”In another fitting irony, after Mickelson was angered by all of the cell phone distractions during his first-round 79 a year ago at the Memorial, what did he do? He whipped out his own phone on the sixth fairway and texted a message to PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem about all the distractions on the course provided by … well, cell phones like the one he had in his hand.Even Woods has used his cell phone — during a pro-am, not a tournament — to call one of his representatives to get his 3 wood regripped at Quail Hollow in 2009.So it’s not just parents checking on the babysitter who think that it’s handy to have a cell phone at all times.Muirfield Village hosts the Presidents Cup in October, a team competition pitting the U.S. vs. an International side. Even such major events are immune from cell phone distractions.At the 2009 Presidents Cup in San Francisco, a marshal’s cell phone rang twice while the International team’s Geoff Ogilvy was standing over a putt.Maybe the PGA Tour needs to provide more education about cell phones, informing fans that they want them to stay connected in this digital age. But they also cannot permit the golfers to be bothered.Maybe there should be a spokesman.A recommendation: former PGA Championship winner Rich Beem.Before he won a major or made a living at golf, he used to sell car-stereo equipment and cell phones.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
VIRGINIA WATER, England —
South Africa’s James Kingston shot a 6-under 66 on Thursday at Wentworth to take the lead during the suspended first round of the BMW PGA Championship.Afternoon play was delayed for about 90 minutes because of the threat of lightning and five groups were still on the course when the round was suspended for the day because of darkness.Finland’s Mikko Ilonen opened with a 67, and Scotland’s Scott Henry and Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano shot 68. Austria’s Martin Wiegele also was 4 under with five holes left.
Sergio Garcia, the Spanish player whose verbal sparring with Tiger Woods turned ugly this week when he said he would “serve fried chicken” if he had dinner with Woods, opened with a 72.Second-ranked Rory McIlroy bogeyed five of the last six holes for a 74, and playing partner Graeme McDowell, coming off a victory Sunday in Bulgaria in the Volvo World Match Play, also had a 74.McIlroy had 33 putts.”I feel as though I am playing well enough, but it is just not being reflected on my scorecard,” McIlroy said. “I played the first 12 holes really not missing a shot, but I just feel at the minute I am not getting that much out of my rounds. … I’m not sure what the problem is because, as I said, the first 12 holes was really good golf and very solid, but I just got on a run of bogeys and couldn’t get off it.”Ian Poulter finished with a 76, and two-time defending champion Luke Donald had a 78.”It is disappointing to be this far back after one round, but then that’s just golf, again,” Donald said. “Today was quite different to how the course has played in the past, but I just didn’t do very well in adjusting.”The 47-year-old Kingston got into the field through a sponsor invite after losing his European Tour card at the end of last season.”I never felt like I played poorly enough to lose my card and that’s what makes it even more frustrating,” said Kingston, who won the 2009 Mercedes Benz Championship for the last his two tour titles. “I felt like I played half decent throughout the whole season, but just never managed to put a score on the board. It does make it a little harder to accept. Getting an invite into this event, what a great feeling to be back here. I think I’ve made the most of it today.”There also was a brief hail shower.”It was pretty nippy when we started and stayed that way,” Ilonen said. “All day I was thinking, ‘Can I get these waterproof trousers off?’ and never managed it. We even had hail on the ninth tee. I said to a friend last night it was going to snow today and she laughed at me. It’s British summer and we have proof of that.”
Seeking his first victory on the seniors circuit, Duffy Waldorf gets off to a good start. (USATSI) ST. LOUIS — Jay Haas’ familiarity with Bellerive Country Club was plain to see as he shot a 5-under 66 on Thursday to take a share of the lead in the Senior PGA Championship. Haas, who grew up in nearby Belleville, Illinois, and Duffy Waldorf shared after a round played in breezy, cool conditions. The 59-year-old Haas, the winner of the major championship in 2006 and 2008, had a bogey-free round. The 50-year-old Waldorf had six birdies and one bogey. “I didn’t expect it going out,” Haas said about shooting a low round. “I wasn’t very sharp today, but managed to … my misses were in the correct spots and I took advantage of a few good iron shots and just kind of kept it between the ditches, I guess you would say. But I’m very, very pleased.” Haas has 16 Champions Tour victories after winning nine times on the PGA Tour. Waldorf is winless in 11 career starts on the 50-and-over tour after winning four times on the PGA Tour. “Tee to green, it was a very good day,” Waldorf said. “All in all, I hit the ball really well. I really liked my iron play. I had quite a few birdie putts. I didn’t make them all so I feel like I still had some more out there.” Sonny Skinner was a stroke back along with Japan’s Kiyoshi Murota. “I’m not going to adjust my goals because I did have a good day today,” Skinner said. “My main goal coming into this tournament was to just try to stay within each shot and each moment. A lot of times when you’re on the outside looking into a big stage like the Champions Tour, it’s real easy to get excited and your eyes wandering all over the place at how wonderful it is. “You lose sight of the fact that, ‘Hey, I got to play golf.’ ” Australia’s Peter Senior and Taiwan’s Chien-Soon Lu shot 68, and Tom Watson, a two-time Senior PGA champion, was another stroke back in a 12-player group that included Kenny Perry, Fred Funk, Rocco Mediate, Russ Cochran, Dan Forsman, Gil Morgan and Bill Glasson. Defending champion Roger Chapman opened with a 72. Peter Jacobsen, the 2004 U.S. Senior Open winner at Bellerive, had a 75. Haas finished third in the 2004 U.S. Senior Open at Bellerive. He said he has played about 30 rounds at the country club. “I’m certainly very excited about shooting 5 under here,” Haas said. “Probably my lowest score ever at Bellerive, no matter what age I was.” His uncle, Bob Goalby, the 1968 Masters winner who stills lives in Belleville, followed him on the back nine holes. “He was happy for me,” said Haas, who was going to have dinner with Goalby and other family members. “He’ll try and get over when he can. The last time he walked nine holes, I don’t know when that was.”
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