Shootin’ from the lip: Cash, contradiction and courage

Lee Westwood hits his tee shot on the 18th hole during the final round of the Portugal Masters.

Lee Westwood hits his tee shot on the 18th hole during the final round of the Portugal Masters.

Shooting from the lip...

There will be much talk of failure in the coming weeks. The hard luck stories of guys losing tour cards as they fail to make the top 115 on the European money list and top 125 on the PGA Tour will get a lot of airtime.

I’d like to fail like some of these guys.

Right now the 116th player on the European money list, Boo Weekley, has earned 235,343 euros. Jimmy Walker occupies 126th on the PGA Tour money list with $589,833.

Don’t feel sorry for those players who miss out on cards. There are many people in this world who would love to make the same sort of money playing a game they love. In a world where people are losing their jobs or struggling to hang onto them, these guys have nothing to complain about.

• • •

Anyone who thought the players had bought into the whole Race to Dubai idea only needed to listen to Lee Westwood’s victory speech last week in Portugal. The Englishman is hoping to become Europe’s No. 1 player for the second time in his career. He is currently Europe’s top earner, No. 1 on what the Tour calls the Race to Dubai Rankings.

Westwood still calls it the “order of merit,” a term he used twice in about 30 seconds.

Truth is, no one over here calls the money list the Race to Dubai, just as they never referred to the European Tour as the Volvo Tour when the Swedish car company was the title sponsor.

Sometimes sponsors try to hard and it just doesn’t come off.

• • •

photo

The green on the par-4 17th "Road Hole" with the par-4 18th hole behind on the Old Course in St Andrews, Scotland.

So the R&A is lengthening the 17th hole at St. Andrews, the Road Hole, for the 2010 Open Championship? If that’s not a direct contradiction of the governing body’s stance that new technology is not ruining the game then I don’t know what is!

• • •

Those who carp on about the 17th being built out of bounds should remember that the championship tee for the 14th hole is on the Eden Course. It was added for the 2005 Open at St Andrews.

So going beyond the boundaries of the Old Course is nothing new.

• • •

I read colleague Jeff Rude’s column on the Robert Allenby/Anthony Kim feud with interest. I agree that the world we report on has become so anodyne that it sometimes makes me gag. Wouldn’t it be great if every top player didn’t come with a manager leaning over the shoulder with a PR machine ready to spring in to damage limitation mode every time the player speaks his mind. I’m with Rude: players should have the courage of their convictions.

• • •

Speaking of anodyne, I don’t know how some TV announcers manage to do commentary. Some have so much syrup in their mouths I’m surprised they don’t choke to death.

This thought struck me last week when I watched Scott Piercy snap a club on the final hole of the Justin Timberlake-hosted PGA Tour event in Las Vegas. I waited for either Kelly Tilghman or Brandel Chamblee to castigate Piercy for his childish, unsportsmanlike act. I’m still waiting.

If ever there was a time to lay into a player that was it. Tilghman said something about “frustration.” And that was it.

How about asinine, a bad example to children, behavior not expected of tournament professionals, or many other thought lines?

Why so many broadcasters feel as if they are part of the PR machine for the tour they are reporting on is beyond me. Impartiality and straight talking is just about dead on golf telecasts.

• • •

photo

Martin Laird celebrates after winning the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Hurrah, a Scot wins on the PGA Tour. Martin Laird’s victory last week in Vegas was the first by a Scot since Sandy Lyle won the Greater Greensboro Open back in 1988. Laird accomplished a feat Colin Montgomerie has failed to achieve. The difference is that most Scots wouldn’t be able to pick Laird out of a police lineup.

Everyone knows what Monty looks like.

• • •

Expect a new-look Wentworth next year when the BMW PGA Championship, the European Tour’s flagship event, is staged over the West Course. I hear a pond has been added in front of the 18th green.

All 18 greens have been re-laid, and I hear members were so unhappy they signed a petition in protest. Word is they got a reduction in subscriptions for two years in return for the disruption.

Who says members can’t wield power over course owners?

• • •

I’m glad I’m not involved in policing the new groove rule next year. What a logistical nightmare!

I heard that a player submitted a set of clubs for testing during the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews a few weeks back. Every club was legal except the 6-iron.

Another player had his clubs deemed legal, played and practiced intensely for two days, resubmitted them and they were deemed illegal.

Policing this rule is going to be a nightmare.

• • •

Lastly, great to see Christy O’Connor in the Golf Hall of Fame. “Himself” is a welcome addition. I can only assume Max Faulkner, winner of the 1951 Open Championship and one of the most colourful men in golf, will be inducted next year.

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