SAN FRANCISCO – If there were a cut at the Presidents Cup, nix Geoff Ogilvy and sunscreen before we get to Saturday’s double matinee.
At least on Friday the Aussie pushed Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker to the 15th tee, but no further, and the sun wedged its way through the marine layer, otherwise the week has been a total wash for sunbathers and Ogilvy. The rest of the week’s winners and losers, however, are not so clear cut.
Harding Park. Some greens were burnt to a crisp by a maintenance snafu, traffic would be Draconian (in fact, some scribes thought the gridlock would be so relentless they renamed the muni gem Hard Parking) and the contrived routing would require a GPS to navigate.
Wrong, wrong and wrong.
What the NorCal treasure lacks in groomed perfection it more than makes up for with a series of back-nine half-par beauties that reward risk and have made the closing frames high theater.
As for that traffic, we can only say San Fran’s public stage has got nothing on that Long Island parking lot we visited during the U.S. Open.
Woods/Stricker. The American super tandem has lost one hole in two days, hasn’t seen the 16th tee and will probably spend the rest of the weekend side-by-side. Seems about right, the duo has been paired together regularly for the better part of the last month-and-half in the playoffs.
And in the spirit of Dave Stockton, whose putting tips gave us a resurgent Phil Mickelson, maybe Stricker can offer the world No. 1 a few suggestions with the short stick.
“We had Steve putting on every hole, which, trust me, it's a pretty nice feeling to have Steve putting for us,” Woods said Thursday. “I only hit four putts today, and granted, Steve only had to hit like about six putts and made them all.”
Who said it’s tough to partner with Woods?
Golf’s Olympic bid. Some thought golf was a lock to become part of the 2016 Games. Not PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem.
“I was a little nervous,” Finchem said. “I didn’t expect Chicago to get (just) 18 votes (to host the 2016 Games).”
At 5 a.m. (PT) Finchem got his answer and at 5:10 a.m. (PT) he went back to bed, nervous no longer.
MADE CUT-DID NOT FINISH (MDF)
Greg Norman. Those dubious picks are both 1-1, the International side has not let the eighth Presidents Cup become the familiar landslide it has been in recent outings and the Shark has not been served with divorce papers in the International team room.
All things considered, not too shabby for a captain who seemed to need more mulligans than an 18-handicap before the teams even got to San Francisco.
Michael Jordan. The NBA great delivered everything U.S. captain Fred Couples thought he would – competitive insight, relaxed banter, photo ops. Yet somewhere along the way things got sideways between MJ and the PGA Tour.
Officials reportedly suggested Jordan not attend the opening ceremony, a move that later drew an unofficial apology but not before some American caddies penciled “23' into the hats in protest.
As for Jordan, he slipped across John Muir Drive and played a quick 18 at the Olympic Club on Wednesday, which, all things considered, was infinitely more enjoyable and didn’t take near as long as that opening ceremony.
BALCO and Bonds. The shamed slugger was on hand for Thursday’s opening foursome session at Harding Park, which isn’t far from the infamous Bay Area lab that landed the former Giant in his steroids scandal.
Funny the Tour couldn’t “suggest” Bonds skip the proceedings, particularly on the eve of golf’s crucial Olympic vote.
Thankfully, on Friday Bonds was nowhere to be seen, and, for the record, not a single caddie had penciled his former number (24) into their hats.
European bickering. It’s become a “Cut Line” staple, snarky happenings across the pond that defy reason and common sense. This week’s edition features Thomas Bjorn, the chair of the European Tour players’ committee, blasting Padraig Harrington for the Irishman’s reaction to a possible rule change.
Harrington reportedly reacted negatively to a possible change that would require Europeans play more events to maintain their tour membership. “I don't believe in protectionism – I wonder if there may be a case for the European Union,” Harrington said.
“I don't know where Padraig is coming from, and he always uses the press. He never comes to people on the committee and never will,” Bjorn countered.
Harrington is one of the most honest and well-spoken players in golf, and Bjorn would do well to remember that Harrington is much more important to the European Tour than the tour is to him.