Hooks and Cuts PGA West to East Lake


Barring a Phil Mickelson-Tiger Woods, 1 vs. 2 pairing, the Tour Championship will never get the kind of lead-in buzz because of where it stands on the calendar and on the map – right smack in football season in Georgia.

Here are some other Hooks and Cuts from Palm Springs, Calif., to Atlanta:

- When discussing Korean dominance on the LPGA with a friend, he cut through the clutter of “what-to-do-about-it” with this one-liner: “If a country of 300 million can’t produce a couple of golfers to challenge South Korea then too bad.” 

- Ran into a golf magazine publisher who’d just been to a major symposium. The short-term outlook for the sport he told me was grim, without a shred of good news. One-in-five courses he learned will close in the next year in the United States. Truth is, there were too many courses built in the mad rush to cash in on the real estate boom.

- Speaking of football, the big story on the college side has to be the return of the University of Miami. They’re fast again, with a really good quarterback in Jacory Harris. They get Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., on Saturday. And by the way, Sean McDonough’s call on the Hokie’s last-second score to beat Nebraska was absolutely electric.

- Argentine giant Juan Martin Del Potro, who stands 6’6”, pulverized Roger Federer in the U.S. Open final. Wouldn’t it be good for golf if a towering 20-year-old did the same to Tiger?

- Out at the Golf Channel’s Amateur Tour finals in Palm Springs and Fred Funk’s caddie, Mark Long, was asked how his boss manages to stay afloat in a game of long-hitters. “Fred carries it maybe 260,” Long said, “and he owns his own jet.”

- Top five stories of 2009: Tom Watson at the British, Y.E. Yang over Tiger, Phil and Amy, Tiger’s triumphant return, and Bivens and the LPGA.

- Golf design business is all but dead for the moment in the United States. The action is in Asia and, to a lesser degree, in Eastern Europe.

- They teased us, but didn’t follow through: Players champ Henrik Stenson, David Duval and Michelle Wie.

- Billy Andrade is a nice pickup by Golf Channel. I like his buddy Brad Faxon in the booth someday as well.

- They disappointed: Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Camilo Villegas, Anthony Kim and American women (aside from their victorious Solheim Cup performance).

- Of all the perks of being the No. 1 golfer in the world, the best may be access to good seats at good sporting events. Did you see Tiger on the sideline of the Colts-Dolphins MNF game? Throw some pads on the guy and he’s free safety material.

- Charlie Rymer emceed the Amateur Tour dinner and, folks, he’s really funny. A big lumbering guy, he sweats like Rodney Dangerfield, is bawdy like Sam Kinison, quick and fearless.

- I give Peyton Manning a decided edge over Tiger in the TV commercial acting department. And that’s not a slight on Tiger because Manning may be the greatest athlete pitchman in history.

- I know Watson’s final round at Turnberry is the obvious choice for momentous day of the year, but not far behind is the two-act Sunday at Augusta when Mickelson and Woods made the monster charge followed by Kenny Perry’s heartbreak. Of course, Yang beating Tiger packed a historical punch too, didn’t it?

- A fan at the Amateur Tour dinner told me he’s such a golf die-hard that he watched Ryder Cup re-runs at 4 a.m. on his honeymoon. I told him, “Shame on you. It started at 3. You missed the whole first hour.”