Golf likes a certain regal air about its winners. Tiger has it. Nicklaus had it. Davis and Phil and Ernie also have the good looks, pure pedigree and unhurried manner that puts them comfortably in the game's royal family. Jonathan Kaye looks like the kid who throws tomatoes at their windows and then takes off down the street.
Chris DiMarco reeled of six birdies in a row to start the back nine Sunday, stumbled at 16 with a misclub, and though he came up short he did unfurl one more perfectly played shot after the round when talking about the small percentage of unruly Phoenix fans: 'I'd like to get myself a six pack, go to their offices and heckle them while they make sales calls.'
Commissioner Tim Finchem pulled a small group of reporters away from the Super Bowl pre-game and some tasty chicken cacciatore to say among other things that he's comfortable with the atmosphere at the FBR Open, adding, 'It says to a national TV audience that golf is exciting, that it attracts a lot of different people, that it's a big sport.'
In a solid cameo on Golf Central on Saturday, Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Chronicle compared the FBR Open to a 'Girls Gone Wild' video.
Hal Sutton is settling in at ABC and could develop into a good listen. The job was initially offered to Paul Azinger, but he turned it down because, after a terrible year in which he finished 169 on the money list, he's excited to play again.
Sutton, by the way, likes Jonathon Kaye. Kaye demonstrated the kind of smarts and stones that could serve the Ryder Cup captain very well when the heat is turned up at Oakland Hills in September. He's a street fighter who grew up on the Phoenix area munis where he learned, in his words, to hustle. Four times on Sunday he played a game of 'can-you-top-this' with Chris DiMarco, and don't forget that when he won his first PGA Tour title last year at Westchester he raked a wood to nine feet on the first playoff hole and made eagle to win.
The AT&T is struggling to attract players, so much so that the tour specifically asked a number of competitors to consider entering. Six and a half hour rounds, bumpy greens and rough weather are keeping guys away.
Speaking of jaw-dropping, heart-melting California views, San Francisco is on the verge of becoming a tour stop. The PGA Tour partnered with the City by the Bay to re-furbish the legendary public track, Harding Park. It's in downtown S.F. and has a First Tee component. A deal is close, but not done yet.
Amy Mickelson told me her man is as focused as he's been in a long time and as excited to play the game as he's been in a long time.
Hard to believe Ricky Barnes was 5-foot-9 and 225 pounds as a high school freshman. He discovered weights, and today he's cut like a Greek statue. The girls go berserk everywhere he goes. And he's no aimless rookie. He's got handlers who take care of media requests, as well as lucrative deals with Callaway and Oakley to take away the financial pressure. Barnes already has invitations to play in Tucson where he starred at Arizona, The Ford Championship, New Orleans and The FedEx.
I watch a lot of golf, and at the risk of sounding like a beginner, I'm still blown away by how good these guys are. I followed Mickelson, Calc and Zinger on Friday and it's a joke what they can do with a golf ball. Blade, chunk, quack, hood--all the terms of endearment which describe our games - I'm assuming you've hit a few like me - are just not in their bag. But the following are, in waves: stiff, stone, check, bust, pure, nut, center-cut, spin and tight. This is a hard, hard game. And they can make it look real, real easy.
Was that the Super Bowl halftime show featuring Janet Jackson, or as one Arizona wiseguy said a 'Got Milk' commercial? How does the Carolina kicker hook that ball out of bounds in that situation? How do they actually get those pictures back from Mars? And is it possible to go 24 hours without hearing someone mention the word 'carbs'? Get back to me if you have the answers. In the meantime, greetings from Scottsdale.