Hate to be Rude: Rededicated Daly
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
• Barack Obama played his first round of golf as President Sunday at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. Just before heading to the course, he got an update on the swine flu virus.
And you thought you took a mind full of worries to the first tee. The swine flu, on top of war and recession, is never a good pre-shot thought.
• Obama, too, had his BlackBerry clipped to his khaki shorts. Texting and cell phone calls don’t do much for the focus or scorecard, either.
But then considering the down economy and the countless people it has negatively touched, I’m a bit surprised the prez can even draw the club back.
• Hey, at least Obama filled out a foursome. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get a game these days?
Let’s take last Saturday. A friend of mine – let’s call him Roscoe – and I got a tee time at a nice course. Then each of us asked about 5-6 people apiece in trying to fill out a foursome. That’s about a dozen invitations total. And we ended up playing a twosome.
Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking: Who would want to play with Roscoe and me?
But I’ve got other questions:
What, no one plays golf on Saturday morning anymore? Nobody has time? Everybody is that busy? Everybody is waiting to play when retired or dead? Are people tired of dialing daily-fee courses for tee times? Does everybody have three young kids at home?
Golf has a problem other than the matter of taking too long and costing too much and being too hard. It’s called getting a group together.
Bob Ford, the renowned club professional out of Oakmont and Seminole, told Roscoe not long ago that golf’s biggest problem is putting foursomes together.
Doesn’t surprise me.
In 1998, I had the privilege of playing Cypress Point with a wonderful member. During the round, the member said, “You’ve got to call around all day to get a game together here because only about 50 members are local.”
I responded, “You and I have a similar problem. I spend all day calling around just to get a Saturday tee time at a daily-fee course.”
• After returning home to Argentina, 39-year-old Masters champion Angel Cabrera said, “Now I’m going for the third major and I’m not going to stop until I win at least five.”
I don’t mean to spoil the party, but I’ve seen people drunk with euphoria after major success before.
After Mark O’Meara won his second major of 1998 at Royal Birkdale, his affable and giddy caddie, Jerry Higginbotham, was spewing forth about his man’s prospects in future majors, even though O’Meara was 41 at the time.
“We’re going to win a bunch more of these majors,” Higgy crowed behind the 18th green.
Not only did O’Meara not win another major, he didn’t win another PGA Tour event.
Point is, it’s nice to dream, but winning a major is not easy, particularly in the Tiger Woods Era. And winning majors in bulk is rare. In the last 50 years, only eight players have won more than four majors.
• Word is a slimmed-down John Daly will play a few events in Europe, starting with this week’s Spanish Open, and come off his PGA Tour suspension at Memphis in June.
I wish him the best because he’s good for golf and I happened to like him. But whether he succeeds is questionable. He’s 43, hasn’t competed this year, hasn’t won since 2004 and hasn’t finished better than 188th in earnings since 2005.
It’s the same story with JD: If he practices, and I mean really practices, he can excel. His good years have come when he has applied himself. But in recent years he hasn’t dedicated himself.
Maybe the fact he has lost about 40 pounds means he’s getting a little more serious about it.
• Don’t look now, but we’re at the halfway point of the PGA Tour regular season – 16 weeks into the year. There’s plenty of time to turn a bad season into a good one or a good one into a great one. But keep in mind this: six of the top 10 at this point last year ended the regular season in the top 10.
• Charles Howell III didn’t get the job done down the stretch in New Orleans, coughing up a lead on the last four holes, but I think the mechanical man is getting better and will get even better upon improving his finesse wedge play. There are worse things than two runner-up finishes in the last five weeks.
• The $7 million HSBC Champions tournament in China, Nov. 5-8, has been elevated to World Golf Championships status.
With a few asterisks. The money will spend, but it’s unofficial on the PGA Tour. The win is unofficial. The winner gets a pass to the Mercedes Championships but will not receive a two-year exemption.
And the eligibility is a bit different. Eligibility category No. 11 reads thusly: Four Chinese players.
Here’s the deal: It’s great to grow the game globally. But when a new tournament gets WGC status and attracts elite players (Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia are among those who have committed), it pushes long-standing PGA Tour events farther down the food chain.
Where’s the loyalty?
If you’ve had a Tour event for years and years, shouldn’t that count for something in return?
Here’s a quick fix: Rotate some dates and WGC designations to spread the wealth and assure that some traditional events get great fields now and then. If players don’t want to play a certain tournament one time in 4-5 years, then move some dates and designations.
At any rate, don’t shove the Byron Nelsons and Colonials and Bay Hills of the world farther from the top.