Seniors Have to Get More Pizzazz

By George WhiteNovember 9, 2006, 5:00 pm
I don't watch the 'senior' tour anymore. When the tour first started it was quite a novelty, watching great names of golf that hadn't been seen in awhile. Now the tour is dominated by 50-year-old mediocre golfers or, even worse, by 50-year-old duffers who never were good enough to play the PGA Tour. Hopefully the Senior Tour will one day simply fade away.
That e-mail, Im afraid, has become all too common to those who look into this space from time to time. The Champions Tour has come to a crossroads. This is not necessarily my opinion ' judging by the majority of comments of you the sporting public, its YOUR opinion.
Arnold Palmer
Arnold Palmer's retirement is a loss for the Champions Tour fans.
Lets face it ' the Champions Tour lives and dies by nostalgia. And lets face it ' Arnold Palmer is gone, Jack Nicklaus is gone, Lee Trevino is almost gone, Chi Chi Rodriguez is gone. The nostalgia is slowly being sapped right out of the senior tour.
The regular tour would be in the same situation if there were no Tiger Woods, by the way. So its not just the seniors who are being met with a vast chorus of who cares And the women, who started the year with all kinds of interest ' theyve slipped back somewhat on the wow meter with the second-half winners. This is not by any means the golfers fault ' it is the fault of the golf equipment manufacturers who have largely removed skill from the game, who have largely reduced it to a sport of bash-it ball. And it is the fault of teachers who have told their students that to succeed, you have to have a grim, no-nonsense attitude with no room for personality.
Which brings us to the seniors ' I still have not grown comfortable calling it the Champions Tour. And the seniors are currently in the midst of an identity crises. The PGA TOUR ' the Champions Tour governing body ' seems to insist that it be an association of the most skilled senior golfers. And the people seem to insist that they want their Arnies and their Chi Chis and Gary Players, scores be damned.
In their place, the tour has instituted players such as Dana Quigley and Allen Doyle , Tom Jenkins and Bruce Fleisher and David Eger. These guys might be real crowd-pleasers, but the sad reality is the people wont buy a ticket to see them if Trevino or Nicklaus or Arnie isnt around. Some are getting too old to participate (Palmer), some are too banged up (Trevino), some simply no longer have an interest (Nicklaus, and to a lesser extent Tom Watson). Slowly but surely, the Champions Tour is running out of Peoples Champions.
A mini-generation was bypassed when Greg Norman declined to play in no more than two or three events and Fuzzy Zoeller proved to be simply too hamstrung by injuries to be more than an also-ran player. The best players this year were Jay Haas and Loren Roberts, and both are great people and extremely capable players for their age. But neither is going to get people excited about hopping in the family sedan and hanging out at the golf course for six or seven hours.
The tour may get some help from next years class of rookies. Nick Faldo and Nick Price will turn 50, and so will Seve Ballesteros. Ian Woosnam and Bernhard Langer join this group, as does Mark OMeara and John Cook. For that matter, so does Italys Costantino Rocca, a real crowd-pleaser in Europe for a period of about five years.
But alas, Faldo probably wont play more than four or five events because of his TV obligations. Ballesteros would like to play, but his spine simply wont let him. Woosnam simply does not enjoy playing outside of the UK. Sam Torrance, who has great crowd presence, played the Champions for half a year and then retreated back to Scotland. And Rocca probably wont survive the stringent Champions rules for players who didnt make much money on the PGA TOUR.
How do you make this tour relevant again? Well, the answer is apparent that you dont do it by selling great golf. You do it by selling great names.
How do you do that? Ill confess, I dont know. But I would somehow arrange to get Chi Chi into the mix, and I would arrange to get Seve out to the tournaments, and I would have Arnold show up at every possible event. Norman has a beef with the commissioner, Tim Finchem, and probably wouldnt be interested in playing more often. But something has to be done to incorporate more of the big names, and that can only be done by acknowledging that all the big names dont necessarily play the best golf. Some are of great public interest by simply being who they are.
Keep the Haass and the Roberts and the Brad Bryants, by all means. But something has to be done to make this tour what it once was. If there isnt, it will one day just pass away, no one interested enough to come out and watch a Bobby Wadkins or a Gil Morgan or a David Edwards.
Is there a way to integrate the names people recognize with the names of the people who play the best golf? For the sake of the Champions Tour, I do hope so.
Email your thoughts to George White
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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.