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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    Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

    KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

    The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

    Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

    ''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

    Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

    First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

    ''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

    David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

    Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

    The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

    ''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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    The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

    By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

    Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

    Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

    I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

    One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

    So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

    You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

    Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

    I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

    This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

    Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

    On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

    The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

    “What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

    Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

    Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

    Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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    Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

    Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

    Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

    In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

    Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

    After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

    Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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    Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

    Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

    “I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

    Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

    Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

    The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.