Standing Up to the Island Green

By Rex HoggardSeptember 29, 2010, 3:30 am

National ChampionshipPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The scariest pitching wedge in the game took a PR hit Tuesday under ashen September skies. In fact, Pete Dye’s 145 yards of watery woe looked downright warm and fuzzy by the time the “Palmer Flight” at the Golf Channel Am Tour’s National Championship was finished.

Your correspondent has watched hardened PGA Tour players blink at the worst possible moment because of an ill-timed gust of wind and a golf hole with more street cred than Snoop Dogg.

In 2007 it was Sean O’Hair. You know him, the Presidents Cup hero and three-time Tour winner who pulled the wrong club on a spring Sunday three years ago and can still hear the splash.

Or Paul Goydos, one of this year’s “59” twins who charmed “Dirtbag” nation in 2008 only to get blown out of a playoff and into Dye’s drainage ditch. Each Wednesday during Players week a parade of Tour caddies take a hack for charity and chuckles and more often than not they’re swimming.

Legend has it the island 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course was actually the brainchild of Dye’s wife, Alice. But, for the likes of O’Hair and Goydos, it’s a tad late to start looking for someone to blame.

With history on our side we camped adjacent “Davey Dye’s Locker” Tuesday morning and waited for carnage and cruelty and more cringe moments than a liquid lunch with Larry David.

What chance did the 111 players of the National Championship’s “Palmer Flight” for handicaps between 4 and 7.9 have on Dye’s deathtrap, which has been known to stir Tour types from a deep sleep?

Yet as morning rain turned to afternoon muggy the lunatic luster of the 17th began to muddy like the waters surrounding the island green.

First there was Tony Scheuerman from Lake Elmo, Minn. An 8-iron to 5 feet for birdie. What’s the big deal?

“I enjoyed it more than I thought I would,” said Scheuerman as he nursed a Michelob Ultra in the palatial TPC clubhouse and enjoyed his week in north Florida, a birthday present from his wife, Zina.

In fact, forget Scheuerman’s third-round 84, he played the Stadium’s fearsome final three in 2 under par – birdie at the par-5 16th hole, birdie at the 17th and an All-Seve up-and-down from 86 yards at the last for par.

Next up was Jon Vanpoucke, who caught a piece of the cup with his pitching wedge tee shot that rolled to less than a foot for a tap in-2.

“Pitching wedge is my money club,” Vanpoucke said. “That green doesn’t scare me one bit.”

Somewhere Dye just spit out a mouthful of lemonade or angrily started diagramming more scruffy bunkers for Whistling Straits. Either way that is one sentence you will never hear in the spring at The Players.

To be fair the Stadium was playing more like it did at the March Players than it does at the May Players, that is to say soft and spongy, and Tuesday’s pin position at the 17th hole was six paces on and four paces from the left edge which in Tour talk is a “go pin.”

Still, by the end of a sultry day the numbers were undeniable. Of the 111 Palmer Flighters, 14 made birdie and 31 came in with more than respectable pars.

Even many of those who were treated to the full 17th did so in style. Matt McCathy from Colorado pitched his tee shot on the green about 10 feet right of the hole and watched helplessly as it spun off the putting surface, over the wooden bulkhead and into the soup. McCathy dropped his next shot into the water in front of the bunker before pitching to 4 feet from the drop zone.

“Solid (triple bogey) 6,” he smiled afterward.

Not everyone found the going as easy as Vanpoucke and company, however, and the consensus was the real-time 17th hole is much different than the HiDef version that is beamed across the globe in May.

If a television adds 10 pounds to people, cameras must tack on an extra acre or so according to Tuesday’s participants.

“The surface area looks a lot bigger on TV,” a wide-eyed McCathy said.

And if Tuesday’s play suggests the 17th hole is a bit overhyped that did little to help those who were playing the game’s most-talked-about 145 yards for the first time.

Scheuerman purchased an “app” for his iPhone for the event with a diagram of the hole and took a long hard look before finally settling on an 8-iron. And what pearl of wisdom did the app offer? “Start praying,” he smiled. “It’s so famous. You watch the pros and I just wanted a par. Please get on the green.”

Whether it is marketing or mind tricks, the 17th hole can get into a player’s head – be it in May playing for TPC glory or September for 19th hole bragging rights.

“It’s the only hole you start thinking about the night before,” said Jim Badovinac, who double bogeyed the 17th on Tuesday. “I called my son last night and said, ‘Be thinking of me a lot at about 11 a.m. because that’s when I should be playing the 17th.’ He was like, ‘Come on dad.’”

Now that’s what Pete Dye likes to hear.

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Miller to retire from broadcast booth in 2019

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 15, 2018, 9:14 pm

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 “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.

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Randall's Rant: Tiger vs. Phil feels like a ripoff

By Randall MellOctober 15, 2018, 7:45 pm

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.

Celia Barquin Arozamena Iowa State University athletics

Trial date set for drifter charged with killing Barquin Arozamena

By Associated PressOctober 15, 2018, 7:28 pm

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

By Grill Room TeamOctober 15, 2018, 5:36 pm

LeBron James' son seems well on his way to a successful basketball career of his own. To wit:

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Finally got it down lol

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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.

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How far, maybe 400 #happygilmore

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If you listen closely, at the end of the clip, you can just barely hear someone scream out for a marine biologist.