Grooves and Grammar

By Rex HoggardFebruary 4, 2010, 4:30 am
On Wednesday in Los Angeles, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem made a plea for common sense, asking players to forgo the use of legal-but-nonconforming Ping Eye 2 wedges until the circuit can play legal catch up.

Following one of the most contentious Tour weeks on record many players who attended Tuesday’s players meeting would have settled for a little civility. But in hindsight it seems what the circuit could really use is a grammar lesson.

Even before Groovegate, grammar was a handicap to the modern professional.

How’d you play today?

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson will try to shake off the groove controversy at Riviera. (Getty Images)
'Good.' That would be well.

How’d you hit it?

'Bad.' No, you hit it badly, you non-ball-striking trunk slammer.

Of course, the grammatical crisis reached a crescendo last week when Scott McCarron likened Phil Mickelson’s use of a 20-year-old Ping Eye 2 to cheating. McCarron offered a clarification, of sorts.

“I didn’t say Phil was cheating,” he told a group of reporters adjacent Torrey Pines’ ninth green last Friday. “I said anyone using (a Ping Eye 2) is cheating.”

McCarron, one of the Tour’s brightest and most enjoyable interviews, did little to  help his cause and simply besmirched the other four or five players giving 1990s-era technology a try.

He further clarified in a statement this week that he didn’t call Mickelson a “cheater,” which only pointed out a complete misunderstanding of the verb/noun relationship. Either way, McCarron used the one word in golf that doesn’t wash off and the rest, as they say, is ugly history.

“I didn't care for his words, with using those two words so closely together, cheating and Phil Mickelson. We have enough going on in our sport right now where we don't need any more attention to something like this,” Steve Stricker said.

Mickelson countered last Friday with a less offensive gaffe of his own, claiming he was “publically slandered” by McCarron’s comments. Which begs the question: can one be privately slandered?

And finally the Tour weighed in with a release that used the same word, promulgated, twice in its attempt at damage control. We’re not sure promulgated violates any grammar rules, but it certainly did little to clarify a situation in dire need of a little black and white.

On Wednesday Finchem offered a rare mea culpa, saying the circuit wasn’t prepared for the fallout the grandfathered implement caused.

“The assumption was made last year that very few, if any, players would use that club because they're 20 years old,” Finchem said.

Never mind, of course, that he had a letter from Ping CEO John Solheim on his desk nearly two years earlier warning about exactly that possibility. Nostradamus didn’t have that kind of vision.

But then finger pointing is of little use now. All that matters is that a game that once held itself above all others has now been linked, however incorrectly, to cheating. More than 6.2 million times, according to a simple Google search Wednesday afternoon.

The Tour has a few options. Ignore the issue, hope Solheim has a moment of altruistic clarity and lets the Tour, and U.S. Golf Association, off the hook – both fool’s bets considering the current climate – or let it all ride on a committee of five, a protocol written into the original agreement.

“If the Policy Board were to say, we would like to do X, do you think this is in the best interest of the PGA Tour,” Finchem said. “I think the chances are reasonably good, perhaps more than reasonably good, that that committee would say yes.”

Despite Finchem’s optimism, it’s worth noting the Tour’s record in the court room is below the Mendoza Line, at best. The truth is that if it wasn’t for Doug Barron the circuit would still be on the legal schneid.

But then it seems legal wrangling and poor word choice are why Finchem arrived in L.A. dealing with more broken China than a Massachusetts Democrat.

Maybe reason and simplicity are better options than bombastic statements and saber rattling. On Wednesday Mickelson did his part, telling the assembled scribes he didn’t plan on using the old Ping wedge at this week’s Northern Trust Open.

“My point has been made,” said Mickelson, who met with McCarron in L.A. and accepted his apology.

Without Mickelson leading the way and providing a measure of cover it seems likely many players will avoid the scrutiny that has come with Ping Eye 2 usage, but Lefty’s support was not unconditional.

He warned that if a resolution is not reached soon the bent 64-degree Ping Eye 2 could easily find its way back into his bag.

“I'd need to give them a reasonable amount of time to get things done. They're not the fastest organizations,” Mickelson said. “But I'm hoping that that stuff gets accomplished.”

You have to respect the message, if not the grammar.
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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 17, 2018, 3:00 pm

Tiger Woods teed off at 12:15PM ET alongside Justin Rose for Round 3 of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

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Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play

By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 2:24 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.

As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.

Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.

This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.

The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.

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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.