At least golf invented the celebrity play-along concept. Lord knows were inundated with celebrity television vehicles these days -- 'Dancing with the Stars,' 'Skating with the Stars,' 'Celebrity Poker.' Theres no limit to the public's appetite for this kind of fare. I cant wait for Home and Garden Networks new offering, 'Lawn Mowing with the Stars.'
I visited Ken Venturi at Rancho Mirage over the weekend. Nearing 75, hes enjoying the desert life with his beautiful wife of three years, Kathleen. His homes a museum of memories, and the takeaway is that from Sinatra to President Reagan to Ben Hogan to Francis Ouimet, Venturi hung out with more legends than Zeus.
The PGA Tours bursting at the seams with ball hitting geniuses. But theres really no sign of a modern day Chi Chi Rodriguez or even a Lee Trevino bounding forth from some happy horizon. So twice a year'here and at Pebble Beach'the sport does well to let down its neatly combed hair.
Saw Paul Azinger at an early week party packed with A-list luminaries like Matthew McConaughey, Justin Timberlake and Samuel L. Jackson. Zinger reported that he overheard a conversation between two women planning to attend the affair that went like this. Whats the dress code? asked the one woman. Competitive, said her friend.
Venturi let me hold the 4-wood that Hogan gave him. Anyone remember playing with a 2-wood, or the brassie as they called it? Kenny pulled that out, too.
I asked Anthony Anderson, the bright young star of 'Hustle and Flow,' whats funny about golf. Charles Barkleys swing, he deadpanned.
I asked MConaughey if hed rather be Peoples Sexiest Man Alive or a scratch golfer. Not lacking for confidence, the 5-handicap replied, Some days Im both.
Why dont we see the likes of Chi Chi or The Merry Mex? The professional grind, for all the riches that lay at the end of the emerald fairways and all the sunshine that greets the players at each dreamy paradise, can be draining. So often a solitary walk, golf breeds more brooders than live wires.
Roger Clemens made an ace this week to go with his seven Cy Young Awards.
If youre sexiest man alive, theres more pressure to perform than if you had 5 feet to win the Masters.
Yogi Berras top salary was $65,000, but claims they still had more fun than the modern millionaires. Now 80 and in the field at the Hope, Yogi says players were close knit in his era because they traveled by train.
Mike Weirs healthy and hungry. He played most of 05 in pain with four compressed discs in his neck area.
Chris Riley withdrew after a third-round 81. A member of the 04 Ryder Cup team, he plummeted to 184th on the money list last year. He and wife Michelle are expecting their second child, and priorities have changed. Normally quick with a smile and easy going, Rileys body language in round 3 was plainly negative. My attitude hasnt been good, he admitted. No excuses, I just have to work my way out of it. People dont realize how tough it is out here. If youre not sharp, you can get run over.
I absolutely love the European Tour. Just as the call for prayer went out across Abu Dhabi in the Middle East, an American dropped in a clinching birdie putt. Chris DiMarco, with wife Amy on the bag, played an 18-hole stretch between Saturday and early Sunday in 14 under par.
If Bob Hope were still here, by now hed have visited the men and women serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. Hed have strolled on stage with his golf club, cracked a few well timed zingers and then thanked the soldiers for their sacrifice. Hed have returned to this beloved Palm Springs area, gathered his pals for his tournament, and reminded one and all that golf is just a game, a game for everyone'comedians, actors, athletes and ball hitting geniuses.
Finally, President Ford was a fixture at the Hope for so many years. Bob Hope used to joke that the President made golf a contact sport and that he was easy to spot because he was the one riding around in a cart with the Red Cross emblem on it! Now 92, President Fords recovering from pneumonia, and we wish him a speedy recovery.