Short Takes on Current Issues

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NEWS: Wednesday night on the Sprint Pre-Game we began the show with news that Craig Stadler had been stopped and arrested Monday evening for driving while under the influence. It happened as Stadler was heading from Grand Rapids, Mich., to Dearborn, Mich,. for a media conference to promote the upcoming Ford Senior Players Championship. Stadler is the defending champion. He has withdrawn from this weeks Farmers Charity Classic in Ada, Mich., outside of Grand Rapids and after pleading to a lesser count has agreed to pay a fine and attend classes designed for similar offenders.
 
MY TAKE: Stadler was absolutely in the wrong. He apologized quickly and seemingly has taken the right route on this thing, saying, I take the offense very seriously. Im embarrassed and I can assure you that I will not repeat my mistake. Now, lets be honest about this. Many have taken to the road after a few drinks, and to my knowledge Craig hasnt made habit of failing on-road sobriety tests. So, while I certainly dont offer up a large dose of sympathy, lets not make Stadler out to be some full-blown criminal. I trust hell handle this the right way. I do, however, wonder if Stadlers age might allow for some public leniency. Hes one of the biggest stars on the Champions Tour, not the PGA Tour. If a young PGA Tour star was involved in a similar incident, would his public penalty be stiffer? The Walrus will be hurt by this, and he should. But how much will he? How much should he? Wanna bet his next winners check goes to MADD?
 
NEWS:Hale Irwin wins the Senior PGA Championship on Monday. Thats 40 Champions Tour wins, and seven Champions Tour majors - including four Senior PGAs.
 
MY TAKE: Its high time we all started celebrating this guys every achievement. He turned 59 on Thursday and shows no sign of taking his wins and going home. Hale still finds lightning when the big tournaments come around. And dont think for a minute that holding off the Jay Haas victory speech didnt mean something extra. Bottom line is Irwins something special. Hes set the Champions Tour standard for the future in many ways. He never dodges the interview and promotes the tour as well as anyone has.
 
NEWS:Hal Sutton shows up to Memorial Tournament to oversee some important tailoring. Ryder Cup potentials 1-25 on the current points standings were measured for duds on Monday.
 
MY TAKE: Sutton wasnt even playing this week! But he deemed it important to be there for the meet-and-greet with the guys. Steve Flesch is currently in the top 10 in points and said, 'The fact that Hal was there is awesome. Anybody who doesnt get excited about playing for Captain Sutton is missing the boat.' Sutton is as patriotic as they come. The Ryder Cup is huge to him. And take nothing away from any of the other recent American captains, but Sutton can motivate without saying a single word. So far, hes done everything right. Monday at Memorial was the latest example and I dont see it changing, or for that matter, Europe winning.
 
NEWS:Jack meets with the media at his own event and spends much of his interview holding off the scribes about a decision on his future.
 
MY TAKE: Its not the medias decision to make. Its not the golf publics decision to make. On one side, Im growing a bit weary of listening to Jack talking about when his competitive days will end. More than anything, Im growing frustrated with media members who keep asking Nicklaus about hanging it up. Its his decision. Its his right to decide. And frankly, its his right to bring up the issue - nobody elses. Let Jack go out when Jack wants to go out. Enjoy it when he plays, root for him to play and cherish every round as though it might be his last. He deserves to let us know when enough is enough. Enough said.
 
NEWS:Colin Montgomerie says he wont attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open.
 
MY TAKE: It sounds like they wont, but I wish the USGA would give him a special exemption. Call me crazy, but for all the moments that American fans have found it in them to ride Monty harder than Smarty Jones, this would be a nice opportunity to show a different side. Montys struggling. His marriage is in shambles. His game isnt much better. Wouldnt it be cool to hear some of the New York faithful show some love and support? I think so.
 
NEWS:USGA extends Michelle Wie a special exemption for the U.S. Womens Open and the USGA is catching serious heat from some.
 
MY TAKE: The exemption isnt new news. The USGAs reaction is. In a perfect world, the 14-year-old amateur should have to qualify. Thats if we played things by the book. I think this should be different. Wie top-fived in the years first LPGA major, and if she was able to earn money for her LPGA play this year, shed qualify for the U.S. Womens Open based solely on where shed be on the money list. Some LPGA players are grumbling. Its their right but it doesnt mean theyre right to not think things through clearly. Wie will increase the television ratings, which ultimately is good for all those competing. In turn, it gives stars like Annika, Grace Park, Se Ri Pak, Cristie Kerr and others a bigger stage on which to shine and showcase their tour. It also gives lesser knowns like, gulp, struggling defending champ Hillary Lunke a bigger chance to shine. Also, shouldnt the USGA help its very best amateurs from time to time? Growing the game means taking care of those who look to be difference makers. If you say 'no' now, you only stoke the flames on a burning desire to head toward the mens game.
 
NEWS:Curtis Strange is unable to work things out with ABC. So he heads to the Champions Tour and heads at ABC look for a replacement.
 
MY TAKE: Cmon, Zinger! I dont pretend to know what Paul Azingers thinking about his immediate future. What I do know is that he was awesome at the 1995 Ryder Cup at Oak Hill. His resume speaks for itself and when he speaks, people listen. Fans love his grit and his game. The media loves his honesty. Zingers the best out there. The question is will, he go in there? Just dont take Steve Flesch! In fact, dont even think about it!
 
Quick Hits
1. My 6/4/04 Favorites at the U.S. Open ' Mickelson, Els, Singh, Weir.
2. Annikas won three of six starts in 04. She averages 21 starts a year. You do the math.
3. I firmly believe the belly putter is giving more than just Ernie Els indigestion. This thing has to come to a head soon. If the USGA wont slow down the distance debate, can they get a grip on this one?
4. Who wins first on PGA Tour: Stephen Ames or Tiger Woods?
5. You get one captains pick for 04 Ryder Cup: Haas or Daly?
 
I cant wait for the U.S. Open. I was there in 1995 when the Golf Channel was in its first year on the air. My, how things have changed! Hope to see you there.
 
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann