Too Spoiled For a Good Walk
As it currently stands, beginning next year only players who are qualified under the Americans with Disabilities Act will have the use of a golf cart during tournament play. And as the story goes, many of the Champions Tour's finest are more than a bit grouchy about the possibility that come January 1, 2005 the 'free ride,' if you will, is over.
Before I go any further let me set the record straight. I think the Champions Tour is seeing some of its finest days. Forget the fact that The Golf Channel is the home of the Champions Tour - I think things are really in 'overdrive.'
Actually, I don't see any way things could be much better when looking at what's out there for the taking. Unless my recently lasiked eyes are suddenly blurred, I saw where a 7-way tie for 19th at Aprils Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf paid a paltry $27,928. Darned the luck! That alone has to be worth a few years in the slammer for thievery, unless this cart issue goes away and players fall in line with what I can't help but think is best for the Tour's image.
Tom Purtzer is among the most vocal of the disgruntled cart-riding cavalry whose mission is to keep things 'status quo.' And believe it or not, amidst this exhaustion of fumes, lawsuits are being threatened if things go against the group.
I have nothing against Purtzer personally. Far from it. He's always come across as approachable and more than willing to share his thoughts. In short, a good soldier to say the least. But I bring him up for the sake of this argument 'for or against the use of a cart in competition' because of his current physical status.
The sweet-swinging Purtzer amassed five PGA Tour wins in a very respectable career before turning 50. But now, he's saddled with a very bad back. He claims that without the use of a cart he simply cant compete on the Champions Tour week to week. And in fairness to Tom, hes not alone by any means. But the 52 year-old Purtzer, who won the Toshiba Senior Classic this year and has now amassed more than $2.4 million in his brief Champions Tour career is the guy who seems willing to put pedal to the floorboard on this issue.
Youre messing with my livelihood, Purtzer gassed. And it just isnt right.
And thats where I slam on the brakes. Maybe I'm wrong, but I just don't seem to be able to 'come around' to that side of thinking.
As I view it, this game at the highest of levels should be about the walk. A man or woman who wants respect as an athlete, and wants to reap the generous rewards that this game provides to its most skilled players, should be able to see the grass below his or her feet and not out of the rear view mirror.
Endurance, as well as shot making ability, should be a must in determining each weeks Champion. Shouldnt it? If taking a cart away from the professional is taking away from the players livelihood, then maybe it's just not the best livelihood.
Im not trying to make Purtzer out to be the bad guy. In looking at his Champions Tour earnings, his take of $2.4 million in little more than two years is a darned good livelihood. And you can see where you'd agree with his line of thinking if the vehicle needed to reach that livelihood is taken away. And again, he's hardly alone in this drive to let the good times continue to roll.
But, if its good for the truest of Champions, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, to walk given their ailments over the years or the likes of Gil Morgan (No. 1 on the 2004 money list), Bruce Fleisher (No. 2), Craig Stadler (No. 4), Larry Nelson (No. 5) or Hale Irwin (No. 6) to hoof it as well, then shouldn't it be good enough for cart-riding caballeros like Purtzer (No. 3 with $634,735) or Tom Jenkins ($451,497) or Ed Fiori ($431,820)?
Ill never forget the line I was once told: Some times people dont realize how good they have it, until they dont have it anymore. I suggest some of those fighting this fight step out of the cart and step back a bit to consider the great thing they have going. Heck, when it comes to the money available these days, some would term the Champions Tour as the 'hotbed for looting!'
Sorry fellas, I must applaud Commissioner Tim Finchem for apparently standing firm on a decision that might just serve to increase the level of fan-player interaction and decrease the number of critics who say this tour is too much of a 'free ride.'
But, here's a suggestion. If, and only if, a compromise is necessary to avoid another cart-court controversy then I propose the following rule to go into effect in 2005. It's not what the players currently have, but it might decrease the level of 'wear and tear' for players who compete on a Tour driven by weekly Pro-Ams in addition to weekly competition.
Use of a cart is prohibited during official Champions Tour tournament competition - with the exception of those qualified under the Americans with Disabilities Act. A cart is allowable to all professionals during Pro-Ams. However, if a player chooses to use the cart on Pro-Am days, then the Champions Tour professional must allow one of his amateur partners to ride along.
Fair? I think so.
Please guys, dont put the cart before the competition. Casey Martin is a completely different scenario. So, dont act spoiled. Enjoy the good walk that others like Martin wish they could.
Purtzer, for all his talent, might just win himself a Champions Tour major or two this year and end up as Player of theYear. But here's a final note to Tom (whose back issue causes disks to slip out of place, causing spasm) and others who've taken advantage of the four-wheelin' fun on a free-wheelin' Tour filled with cash. Ive actually dealt and suffered with two herniated disks (low back) myself. And aside from understanding the fact that its tough enough to swing, let alone shake hands with a few spectators along the way, each and every doctor I saw told me to walk as much as possible. Sitting was not advised.
Im sorry to say, but somebody needs to convince me otherwise on this issue. Because the way I feel, 'Champion Driver' status belongs to guys like Mario Andretti. If the carts must go, and if a group of 'Champions' feels like it then must go too, then packing a travel bag with all the money already earned and riding off into the sunset doesn't seem like the worst thing in the world.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open
When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.
Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.
Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.
While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.
Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.
Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai
Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.
Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.
"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."
But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.
With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.
Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.
The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.
"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."
Battling mono, Kaufman tied for lead at CME
NAPLES, Fla. – Kim Kaufman’s bout with mononucleosis might leave fellow tour pros wanting to catch the fever, too.
A couple months after Anna Nordqvist battled her way into contention at the Women’s British Open playing with mono, and then thrived at the Solheim Cup with it, Kaufman is following suit.
In her first start since being diagnosed, Kaufman posted an 8-under-par 64 Saturday to move into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. It was the low round of the day. She’s bidding to win her first LPGA title.
“I’ve been resting at home for two weeks,” Kaufman said. “Didn’t do anything.”
Well, she did slip on a flight of stairs while recuperating, hurting her left wrist. She had it wrapped Saturday but said that’s mostly precautionary. It didn’t bother her during the round.
“I’m the only person who can take two weeks off and get injured,” Kaufman joked.
Kaufman, 26, left the Asian swing after playing the Sime Darby Malaysia, returning to her home in South Dakota, to see her doctor there. She is from Clark. She was told bed rest was the best thing for her, but she felt good enough to make the trip to Florida for the season-ending event.
“We had some really cold days,” Kaufman said. “We had some snow. I was done with it. I was coming down here.”
How does she feel?
“I feel great,” she said. “I’m a little bit shaky, which isn’t great out there, but it’s great to be here doing something. I was going a little bit stir crazy [at home], just kind of fighting through it.”
Kaufman made eight birdies in her bogey-free round.
New-look Wie eyes CME Group Tour Championship title
NAPLES, Fla. – Michelle Wie is sporting a new look that even has fellow players doing double takes.
Bored during her six-week recovery from an emergency appendectomy late this summer, Wie decided to cut and die her hair.
She went for golden locks, and a shorter style.
“I kind of went crazy after being in bed that long,” Wie said. “I just told my mom to grab the kitchen scissors and just cut all my hair off.”
Wie will get to sport her new look on a big stage Sunday after playing herself into a four-way tie for the lead at the CME Group Tour Championship. With a 6-under-par 66, she is in contention to win her fifth LPGA title, her first since winning the U.S. Women’s Open three years ago.
Wie, 28, fought her way back this year after two of the most disappointing years of her career. Her rebound, however, was derailed in late August, when she withdrew from the final round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open to undergo an emergency appendectomy. She was out for six weeks.
Before the surgery, Wie enjoyed getting back into contention regularly, with six finishes of T-4 or better this season. She returned to the tour on the Asian swing in October.
Fellow tour pros were surprised when she came back with the new look.
“Definitely, walk by people and they didn’t recognize me,” Wie said.
Wie is looking to continue to build on her resurgence.
“I gained a lot of confidence this year,” she said. “I had a really tough year last year, the last couple years. Just really feeling like my old self. Really feeling comfortable out there and having fun, and that's when I play my best.”