Hooks and Cuts Humor and Honesty


DUBLIN, Ohio – I interviewed exiled former CBS announcer Ben Wright for an upcoming story on 'Golf in America.' He’s like the Dos Equis beer “Most Interesting Man in the World.” Wright was a Russian language interpreter for British Intelligence during the Cold War and hung out with Hemmingway at Paris bars. Now 77, he’s married for a fifth time, living in Flat Rock, N.C.

  • One highly ranked player on Tiger Woods: “He’d talk to you for the first few days of a tournament like you were his friend, but Sunday in contention he’d walk right by you without saying hello. It was embarrassing really.”
  • Leftover from Colonial: In 1953, Ben Hogan won the Colonial National Invitational and his older brother, Royal, won the Colonial Club Championship.
  • If I could take you with me to work, I’d let you put on the headsets during commercial breaks to listen to David Feherty. There’s funny – and then there’s Feherty funny.
  • Sometimes, it looks to me like Phil Mickelson plays to amuse himself, as if he’s bored hitting conventional shots.
  • We’re coming up on the 50-year anniversary of perhaps the greatest U.S. Open ever, 1960 at Cherry Hills. Jack Nicklaus was the 20-year-old, reigning U.S. Amateur champion, on his way to Cherry Hills when his father, Charlie, picked up a newspaper and saw a blurb that caught his eye. “Look at this son,” Charlie said. “They have you at 35-1 to win. You want $20 on that?” Explains Jack today: “In my entire life I’ve never bet on a golf match. But I told my dad, ‘Sure, I’ll take that’.” When his dad asked if he wanted a bet on finishing second, Jack snapped, “No, we’re here to win.” He led by one early on the final nine, but balky putting cost him, and Palmer won with 65.   
  • Five months into the season and we still remember Brian Davis at Hilton Head, Rickie Fowler in Scottsdale and Jordan Spieth in Dallas. Five months in and we’ll never forget Phil Mickelson at Augusta and Rory McIlroy at Wachovia.
  • Sergio Garcia needs to get moving or we may not see him in Wales at the Ryder Cup in October.
  • Adam Scott cautions those who would write off Sergio and all those super talented players who might be falling short of expectations. “Golf is a different sport in that history shows us that you don’t hit your peak until your mid-30s,” he said.
  • Plenty of people dismissed Justin Rose as a guy who was good for the first 36 holes, but couldn’t close. Critics criticize. Players keep playing. Justin Rose is a player.
  • Rickie Fowler might want to familiarize himself with Wales.  
  • Tom Kite on the reliance by today’s players on swing gurus and video breakdowns: “I see a lot of pretty swings but not a lot of guys who know how to get the ball in the hole.”
  • I’m headed to St. Andrews Monday to file stories for next month’s British Open. I’ll be interviewing Old Tom Morris. David Joy’s been performing as Old Tom for 20 years and will extend me the privilege. You might remember him from the Titleist commercials with John Cleese of Monty Python fame.
  • The designated tournament idea designed to help struggling, smaller market events is a good one. Kobe Bryant and LeBron James play every year in San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Portland and Toronto. Why shouldn’t Tiger and Phil, if not every year, at least every once in a while?
  • I had the good fortune to participate in the first ever Patriot Cup on Memorial Day in Tulsa, Okla., to raise money for families of fallen soldiers. In my group was a young staff sergeant who was fairly new to golf. Bunkered on the seventh hole, he listened to both the caddie and club pro in our foursome pepper him with instruction. “Open the club at an 82-degree angle, left foot out at 19 degrees, tilt the head, weaken the grip, flex the knees, soften the hands, hit an inch-and-a-half behind the ball and accelerate through.”  Before he hit, he looked up and cracked, “Is this really going to work?’