Party Time in Palm Desert

By Michael CollinsJanuary 16, 2008, 5:00 pm
2007 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic Editor's note: Michael Collins has been a stand-up comedian for 15 years and has more than seven years experience as a professional caddie. He currently covers the PGA TOUR as a correspondent with XM Satellite Radio and takes his turn on The Turn Mondays on GOLF CHANNEL.
 
PALM DESERT, Calif. -- Its time for the most fun week in California. The Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, hosted by (my friend) George Lopez. Parties every night with celebrities, pros, and caddies hanging out drinking telling stories having a good ole time. Too bad the three of the four golf courses cant be as much fun as the parties. Will someone PLEASE tell the PGA TOUR the thing that made this tournament fun and brought the big names here was the easy golf courses! Its the second full field tournament (its actually a few short) of the year and in years past THIS was where guys could come knock the rust off by playing golf courses that were relatively short and easy. Thats why its a pro-am format.
 
Playing a 7,400-yard golf course in 35-mph winds with amateurs who tee off 100 yards in front of you is not fun for anybody. Of course, nobody wants to see 35 under win a golf tournament every week, but to do it in a pro-am format in the beginning of the year with celebs and amateurs is OK once a year. Sure Phil doesnt want to play in the celebrity rotation and even Ill give him a free pass on that one, but now it seems nobody wants to play here, and boy are they missing out.
 
But I found out why. A player to remain unnamed told me this, It used to be we played on a few 6,800-yard resort courses with a bunch of hacks and celebrity hacks. You could come out, shoot 68 everyday and miss the cut and THAT WAS COOL, because it was the second tournament of the year for most of the guys (the Mercedes is winners only) and they were just trying to get their feet wet again. Imagine being a rookie coming from Hawaii this year Just took the red-eye from Honolulu, slept about three hours on the flight in coach next to some fat dude who wanted to talk golf the whole time. I land in LA or Phoenix, wait two hours and catch another flight or drive to Palm Springs and Ive got 17 hours to learn 4 courses (3 BIG ones), eat 3 meals, and try to sleep a little bit. Hey where are all the veteran golfers?
 
Now flip it back to the past
 
Fly from Hawaii on the red-eye. Get to Palm Springs Monday afternoon. Sleep till 7:30 p.m., get up and go to a party with some celebrities Ive seen in movies and on TV. Get back to the room around 3 a.m. (Im still on Hawaii Time), kiss the model I met goodnight and, sleep till 1 p.m. Wake up, have some lunch at the course, go to the TOUR trailers and get the golf clubs adjusted. Hit balls for an hour, talk to new celebrity friends for an hour, find out where tonights party is gonna to be, call the model back with directions, laugh at the hacks trying to get practice round in at a resort course.
 
Go to party and meet new friends to talk golf and have a few drinks. Exchange funny stories about golf course antics and hear great stories about the Hollywood scene. Drive John Daly back to his bus (hes in NO shape to drive); he tells me he loves me and gives me a big wet kiss on the cheek EEEEEEEWWWWWW!!! Laugh anyway. Get up, get breakfast, warm up, and tell my caddy he has the wrong courses yardage book, giggle at the confused hung over look on HIS face. Go to the tee, meet my three new friends, giggle at the hung over look on THEIR faces, then shoot 68 on a resort course after hitting it all over the place. Do it all over again 3 more times. I make the cut on the number (12 under) and go out Sunday and shoot 67 with some tough pins, but Im hitting the ball great now. Finish in a tie for 47th. Call model and thank her for a great week, hope she had fun hanging out with me, too. Celeb friends call and say, See you next year? Put this tournament on my schedule EVERY YEAR!
 
Is it just me, or does that sound better than another tournament that 11 under wins after 5 days? Dont get me wrong, I love watching guys play tough golf courses and really have to focus on playing good smart golf, but every now and then I wanna see guys having fun on the course, shooting 59, messing around with the celebrities I know (who are hacks just like us) and spreading the love of the game. Is that wrong?
 
So tonight (Tues.) Im at a private party hanging out with some famous friends, enjoying great food, great conversation, and a couple of drinks. Im retelling the story (told to me by the player) of the player whose caddie sold his players rental car, clubs AND clothes for drugs! But Im thinking, this would be even better if he was here to tell the story himself. Then Cheech calls and says he needs a caddie 'cause he hasnt heard from his and I lose my train of thought 'cause I gotta call a friend and tell him to meet Cheech tomorrow morning. BUT I WANNA CADDIE FOR HIM! (sigh) Ps. You can ask who was at the party, but I wont tell. Sorry.
 
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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.

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    Ortiz leads LAAC through 54; Niemann, Gana one back

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 8:15 pm

    Mexico's Alvaro Ortiz shot a 1-under 70 Monday to take the 54-hole lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship in Chile.

    At 4 under for the week, he leads by one over over Argentina's Jaime Lopez Rivarola, Chile's Toto Gana and Joaquin Niemann, and Guatemala's Dnaiel Gurtner.

    Ortiz is the younger brother of three-time Web.com winner Carlos. Alvaro, a senior at Arkansas, finished tied for third at the LAAC in 2016 and lost in a three-way playoff last year that included Niemann and Gana, the champion.

    Ortiz shared the 54-hole lead with Gana last year and they will once again play in the final group on Tuesday, along with Gurtner, a redshirt junior at TCU.

    “Literally, I've been thinking about [winning] all year long," Ortiz said Monday. "Yes, I am a very emotional player, but tomorrow I want to go out calm and with a lot of patience. I don't want the emotions to get the better of me. What I've learned this past year, especially in the tournaments I’ve played for my university, is that I have become more mature and that I have learned how to control myself on the inside on the golf course.”

    In the group behind, Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who is poised to turn professional, unless of course he walks away with the title.

    “I feel a lot of motivation at the moment, especially because I am the only player in the field that shot seven under (during the second round), and I am actually just one shot off the lead," he said. "So I believe that tomorrow I can shoot another very low round."

    Tuesday's winner will earn an invitation to this year's Masters and exemptions into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, and final qualifying for The Open.