NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – Erik Compton won’t be around for the weekend at Aronimink Golf Club, but he will have plenty of chances next year as a PGA Tour member after an inspiring Nationwide Tour victory last week that transcends birdies and bogeys; while Bubba Watson also didn’t make it to the weekend in France and couldn’t be happier.
Robert Garrigus. In sport we love reclamation projects – the deeper the abyss the bigger the headline – and no one in golf has completed a climb quite like Garrigus. From drug-addicted “waste” to Tour winner, Garrigus’ rise from pothead to Tour pro was recently documented in a revealing Golf World story.
Among the highlights of the report was this quote from Garrigus that likely didn’t sit well in Camp Ponte Vedra Beach: “Oh yeah, there were plenty of guys on the Nationwide Tour who smoked (marijuana) in the middle of the round. We always talked about it. You could go in the Porta John and take your drags.”
On Thursday at Aronimink, Garrigus didn’t seem overly concerned with the potential fallout from the Tour or his fellow players: “I can handle it,” he said.
If that kind of honesty is a bit too unfiltered for the Tour, all one really needs to know about the 33-year-old is that he’s one of the most engaging and genuine players in the game regardless of his history. “I hit the ball 300 yards and I smile a lot,” he reasoned.
The only difference between John Daly and Garrigus, besides those two majors, is that Garrigus has faced down his demons and is a better person for it.
Erik Compton. “Erik the Great” looked like a two-time heart transplant patient at Aronimink, struggling to matching rounds of 76 to miss the cut less than a week after winning his first Nationwide Tour event in Mexico.
AT&T National was Compton’s fifth consecutive tournament and he was looking forward to some rest, as well as an annual checkup on his third heart next week in Miami. Moreover, at second on the Nationwide Tour money list he was cherishing the idea of not having to play Q-School.
“I’m going to do nothing (in the fall),” he smiled widely. “It’s a great feeling.”
Yes, it is.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
The tournament formerly known as the Bob Hope Classic. Considering that self-deprecation was a Hope hallmark, the late comedian would have likely made a punch-line out of the news that his name had been removed from the tournament’s marquee.
“They wanted to name it the Humana Bob Hope Challenge, but they ran out of vowels.” Ba-da-boom.
Instead, officials went with the Humana Challenge after a lengthy debate according to many reports. Eight years of financial security, not to mention the impact of having former president Bill Clinton involved, is certainly worth the tradeoff, but that doesn’t make dropping Hope’s name from the title any easier to stomach.
“It’s a tough one,” Joe Ogilvie said. “You want to make sponsors happy and Hope was the type of guy who would want what’s best for the event. This makes the tournament go on.”
In short, thanks for the memories.
Barclays, Bethpage and bad courses. First the good news: Barclays signed on for another four years to sponsor the PGA Tour’s stop in metro New York City and, as previously reported, pulled storied Bethpage Black into its rotation of courses.
The bad news: Much-maligned Liberty National will also return to The Barclays lineup in 2013, a course that Robert Allenby was asked to assess after the first round in 2009, “They set it up very well. That's as good as I can go on the course.”
And while the move to Bethpage (2012 and 2016) is an upgrade by any measure, the bigger concern is the fate of public golf in the U.S. Open rota. Former U.S. Golf Association executive director David Fay made it his mission to bring municipal golf to the national championship table, but the USGA continues to balk at a return to Torrey Pines, site of what was arguably the decade’s best Open in 2008, and now Bethpage has sent an interesting message – don’t call us, we’ll call you.
A Bubba in Paris. We regularly hear how shameful it is that more Americans don’t take their games around the globe, but after Bubba Watson’s week in France the globe may change its tune about America’s insular ways.
Following a first-round 74 on Friday at the French Open, Watson appeared to already have one foot on a plane bound for the States. “I think this might be the only time I play in Europe. I miss my home,” he said.
But it wasn’t so much Watson’s homesickness as it was his cluelessness that ruffled French feathers – calling the Eiffel Tower “that big tower,” the Arc de Triomphe “this arch I drove round in a circle” and the Louvre as “a building starting with ‘L.’”
There’s a fine line between charmingly unschooled and ugly American, and Watson seems to have blown through that stop sign.
Tweet of the week: @KipHenley (caddie for Brian Gay) “AT&T in Philly where the fans can be tough. They booed Santa Claus, who boos Santa? What’s wrong with you if you boo Santa?”
Tim Finchem. On the scorecard the commish batted something close to .500 this week following news that Barclays has re-upped to sponsor the playoff opener and he was optimistic that FedEx would remain the umbrella sponsor of the circuit’s season-long playoff race, but his reasoning behind why it may not be best for Rory McIlroy, among others, to play more in the United States sounded more like spin than solution.
When asked if the Tour would consider a rule that would exempt top-10 players in the Official World Golf Ranking into whatever event they wished to play regardless of membership status, Finchem said it was a “possibility.”
But he also reasoned, “We increasingly look at things on a global basis, not just an our-tournament basis. If we’re successful in changing rules so that an international player can play four or five more times here, that’s great for those weeks here, (but) it means that he’s not going to play three or four times someplace else.”
Although altruistic, Finchem’s logic misses the point that the Tour is still battling difficult economic headwinds and is quickly approaching a new round of contract negotiations with the television networks. Having McIlroy & Co. around a little more often could only help those talks.