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
Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.
Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.
“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”
The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.
“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”
Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.
Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder
LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.
Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.
''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''
It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.
''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''
Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.
''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''
After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.
''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''
He's making his first start in the event.
''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.
Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.
''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''
Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.
''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.
The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.
''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''
Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.
''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.
Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.
Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.
Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.
John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.
Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years
Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.
He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.
How rare is his missing the cut there?
The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.
The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.
The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.
Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.
Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.
Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur
Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.
The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.
They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.
It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.
“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”
The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.
The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.