Cut Line Swing and Jive
What’s not open to debate is the reality of a bona fide Player of the Year race and the motives of an overzealous taxman that may make this year’s Ryder Cup the game’s most expensive exhibition for some participants.
Corey Pavin. Not sure what to make of Team USA’s uniforms (do pinstripes and pastel sweaters really scream ‘come get some?’), but we do have to hand it to Captain America for staying on topic.
Asked last week if Tiger Woods was a lock to play all five matches at next month’s Ryder Cup, Pavin had no problem shutting down the notion that he would play favorites.
“I am going to treat every player the same. The objective is to try to win the Ryder Cup and if in my judgment I think Tiger is to play five matches, or should play four or three, then that is what I will do – that’s my call as captain,” Pavin told BBC Radio.
“For me, it’s how he’s playing golf. That’s my concern as far as the Ryder Cup goes.”
It truly has been a year of firsts for the world No. 1: he missed the cut at Quail Hollow, finished 18 over par at Firestone, will miss the Tour Championship and may spend a portion of his week in Wales cheerleading.
Player of the Year race. Remember when these postseason awards were a foregone conclusion? Woods, or Vijay Singh, would lop up at East Lake, play four largely meaningless rounds and grab the POY hardware on their way to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson.
Now there are no fewer than a half dozen names that could secure the trophy at East Lake.
You may not like the playoffs, but at least now one can differentiate between the Tour Championship and the Shark Shootout.
Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)
Bye weeks. The lull before the Tour Championship storm is fine, particularly for the handful of players who will jump a charter from Atlanta to Wales on Sunday night to play the Ryder Cup, but why go dark entirely?
It has been a month since many Tour types played any meaningful golf and the circuit has plenty of inventory to plug in this week between all of the Fall Series and opposite-field tournaments.
These events won’t pull any top players, but then they don’t attract from the top of the Tour marquee anyway. Besides, we hear New York (Turning Stone Resort Championship) and Reno (Reno-Tahoe Open) are lovely this time of year.
FedEx Cup playoffs. The Tour’s fourth-year experiment isn’t perfect and, despite the best math and marketing efforts of Camp Ponte Vedra Beach, it may never be. The 2010 edition concludes next week at East Lake without Tiger Woods and, according to many players and pundits, with far too much volatility.
A playoff it isn’t. Nor is it an unequivocal answer to the Player of the Year question. But it is a collection of four solid events in major markets during a time of year that golf is traditionally a sporting after thought.
“It’s called the playoffs, and you have to play well during that time of year,” said Kevin Streelman, considered by some the poster child for a system that is weighted too heavily on the postseason. “It’s just like a wild-card winning the Super Bowl, it’s why we call it the playoffs.”
Tweet of the week: @IanJamesPoulter: “Well another finish in the top 30 on the money list and don’t get in tour championship [sic]. Are the playoffs any good?”
Colin Montgomerie. It’s going to be a sad day when the matches are over and Captain “Doh” rides off into the Welsh sunset. But until then, let’s enjoy the ride.
It seems the Scot has spurned Paul Casey, again. During a press conference recently, Monty was asked who would step in if Lee Westwood, slowed this season by a calf injury, couldn’t play? Either Monty was confused or he should be committed because he said Justin Rose, not seventh-ranked Casey, would get the call.
You want Rose, fine. But why in the world would you lock yourself into a theoretical pick weeks before the matches? Here’s a hypothetical for you, what if Casey wins the Tour Championship, the FedEx Cup, the $10 million lottery and is the last man on earth? Never mind, think we know the answer.
Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. The United Kingdom taxman has suddenly become very interested in what kind of footwear the U.S. team will be sporting at Celtic Manor.
According to reports, HMRC may tax players like Woods and Phil Mickelson for endorsement income from wearing branded products.
In a related item, Sean Foley has Woods hitting golf balls barefooted on the practice tee at Isleworth. No word yet if it’s a balance drill or tax dodge.
Swing wars. Charlie Wi fired a heated volley in the budding row between Foley, Woods’ new swing coach, and Wi’s instructors Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett, whose “stack and tilt” method was all the rage on Tour a few years back.
“There's an article coming out in Golf Digest, and there was a big problem with Andy and Mike and the person that's working with Tiger (Foley) because the pictures that are in Golf Digest are pretty much straight out of their golf book that they have released,” Wi said last week in Chicago.
“Andy approached (Foley) and said, hey, I don't think it's fair that you're using our material. But he goes, well, you know, they asked me a question and said who do you look up to as teachers, and he said that my first teacher is Andy and Mike, the ‘stack and tilt’ guys, so we'll see when the publication comes out if he did say that or not.
For what it’s worth, we’ve interviewed Foley on numerous occasions, before and after he started working with Woods, and he’s always given the “stack and tilt” tandem a healthy amount of credit for the evolution of his own philosophy.
It all reminds us of something another Tour instructor once told us, if you have to tell people how good you are ... well, you know the rest.
Miller to retire from broadcast booth in 2019
After nearly 30 years in the broadcast booth, Johnny Miller is ready to hang up his microphone.
Following a Hall of Fame playing career that included a pair of major titles, Miller has become one of the most outspoken voices in the game as lead golf analyst for NBC Sports. But at age 71 he has decided to retire from broadcasting following the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open.
“The call of being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling,” Miller told GolfChannel.com. “The parents are trying to make a living, and grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer that there is a time and a season for everything.”
Miller was named lead analyst for NBC in 1990, making his broadcast debut at what was then known as the Bob Hope Desert Classic. He still remained competitive, notably winning the 1994 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at age 46, but made an indelible mark on the next generation of Tour pros with his frank and candid assessment of the action from some of golf’s biggest events.
Miller’s broadcasting career has included 20 U.S. Opens, 14 Ryder Cups, nine Presidents Cups, three Open Championships and the 2016 Olympics. While he has teamed in the booth with Dan Hicks for the past 20 years, Miller’s previous on-air partners included Bryant Gumbel, Charlie Jones, Jim Lampley and Dick Enberg.
His farewell event will be in Phoenix Jan. 31-Feb. 3, at a tournament he won in back-to-back years in 1974-75.
“When it comes to serving golf fans with sharp insight on what is happening inside the ropes, Johnny Miller is the gold standard,” said NBC lead golf producer Tommy Roy. “It has been an honor working with him, and while it might not be Johnny’s personal style, it will be fun to send him off at one of the PGA Tour’s best parties at TPC Scottsdale.”
Miller was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998 after a playing career that included wins at the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont and The Open in 1976 at Royal Birkdale. Before turning pro, he won the 1964 U.S. Junior Amateur and was low amateur at the 1966 U.S. Open at Olympic, where he tied for eighth at age 19.
Born and raised in San Francisco, Miller now lives in Utah with his wife, Linda, and annually serves as tournament host of the PGA Tour’s Safeway Open in Napa, Calif.
Randall's Rant: Tiger vs. Phil feels like a ripoff
Usually, you have to buy something before you feel like you were ripped off.
The wonder in the marketing of Tiger vs. Phil and “The Match” is how it is making so many people feel as if they are getting ripped off before they’ve shelled out a single penny for the product.
Phil Mickelson gets credit for this miscue.
Apparently, the smartest guy in the room isn’t the smartest marketing guy.
He was a little bit like that telemarketer who teases you into thinking you’ve won a free weekend getaway, only to lead you into the discovery that there’s a shady catch, with fine print and a price tag.
There was something as slippery as snake oil in the original pitch.
In Mickelson’s eagerness to create some excitement, he hinted back during The Players in May about the possibility of a big-money, head-to-head match with Woods. A couple months later, he leaked more details, before it was ready to be fully announced.
So while there was an initial buzz over news of the Thanksgiving weekend matchup, the original pitch set up a real buzzkill when it was later announced that you were only going to get to see it live on pay-per-view.
The news landed with a thud but no price tag. We’re still waiting to see what it’s going to cost when these two meet at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, but anything that feels even slightly inflated now is going to further dampen the original enthusiasm Mickelson created.
Without Woods or Mickelson putting up their own money, this $9 million winner-take-all event was always going to feel more like a money grab than real competition.
When we were expecting to see it on network or cable TV, we didn’t care so much. Tiger's and Phil’s hands would have felt as if they were reaching into corporate America’s pockets. Now, it feels as if they’re digging into ours.
Last week, there was more disappointing news, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that tickets won’t be sold to the public, that the match at Shadow Creek will only be open to select sponsors and VIPs.
Now there’s a larger insult to the common fan, who can’t help but feel he isn’t worthy or important enough to gain admittance.
Sorry, but that’s how news of a closed gate landed on the heels of the pay-per-view news.
“The Match” was never going to be meaningful golf in any historical sense.
This matchup was never going to rekindle the magic Tiger vs. Phil brought in their epic Duel at Doral in ’05.
The $9 million was never going to buy the legitimacy a major championship or PGA Tour Sunday clash could bring.
It was never going to be more than an exhibition, with no lingering historical significance, but that was OK as quasi silly-season fare on TV on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23), the traditional weekend of the old Skins Game.
“The Match” still has a chance to be meaningful, but first and foremost as entertainment, not real competition. That’s what this was always going to be about, but now the bar is raised.
Pay per view does that.
“You get what you pay for” is an adage that doesn’t apply to free (or already-paid for) TV. It does to pay per view. Expectations go way up when you aren’t just channel surfing to a telecast. So the higher the price tag they end up putting on this showdown, the more entertaining this has to be.
If Phil brings his “A-Game” to his trash talking, and if Tiger can bring some clever repartee, this can still be fun. If the prerecorded segments wedged between shots are insightful, even meaningful in their ability to make us understand these players in ways we didn’t before, this will be worthwhile.
Ultimately, “The Match” is a success if it leaves folks who paid to see it feeling as if they weren’t as ripped off as the people who refused to pay for it. That’s the handicap a history of free golf on TV brings. Welcome to pay-per-view, Tiger and Phil.
Trial date set for drifter charged with killing Barquin Arozamena
AMES, Iowa – A judge has scheduled a January trial for a 22-year-old Iowa drifter charged with killing a top amateur golfer from Spain.
District Judge Bethany Currie ruled Monday that Collin Richards will stand trial Jan. 15 for first-degree murder in the death of Iowa State University student Celia Barquin Arozamena.
Richards entered a written not guilty plea Monday morning and waived his right to a speedy trial. The filing canceled an in-person arraignment hearing that had been scheduled for later Monday.
Investigators say Richards attacked Barquin on Sept. 17 while she was playing a round at a public course in Ames, near the university campus. Her body was found in a pond on the course riddled with stab wounds.
Richards faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.
LeBron's son tries golf, and he might be good at everything
LeBron James' son seems well on his way to a successful basketball career of his own. To wit:
But with just a little work, he could pass on trying to surpass his father and try to take on Tiger and Jack, instead.
Bronny posted this video to Instagram of him in sandals whacking balls off a mat atop a deck into a large body of water, which is the golfer's definition of living your best life.
If you listen closely, at the end of the clip, you can just barely hear someone scream out for a marine biologist.