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Archive for September, 2009

It’s the People That Matter

September 30th, 2009 No comments

One of the greatest joys we get from playing golf is the people we get to play with. Spending time on the course with our friends and family is more than just an added bonus of the game. For many of us it’s the people that make the game what it is. Sometimes golf is just an excuse to spend time with the people we love.

When the pros have an off day or two, many of them can be found taking part in some charity events or trying to help out a worthy cause. Working a day or two to raise funds to help out someone in need is standard practice for these guys. This has been an especially emotional week for the guys on tour.

Earlier this week friends of Ken Green took part in an event in Connecticut to help raise money for his medical bills. Green was in his RV when it crashed and he lost his girlfriend, his brother and dog. After the crash he chose to have his leg amputated so he would have a better chance of playing golf with a prosthetic. Green’s contemporaries are trying to help one of their own.

Golf heavyweights Tom Watson and John Feinstein hosted a tournament called “The Bruce,” named after Watson’s longtime caddy and friend Bruce Edwards. The tournament raises money for ALS research and has raised over three million dollars in its five years.

Arnold Palmer is being awarded a Congressional Gold Medal by the White House. You would think that Arnie has been given every accolade in existence, but not this one. Only one golfer has been awarded this previously and that was Byron Nelson. With all the friends Arnie had in the White House you have to wonder what took them so long.

Finally, the pros aren’t the only ones that love playing golf with their friends. Four golf buddies from Philadelphia have been heading down to Myrtle Beach for forty years. This year some fine people in Myrtle Beach decided to pick up the tab for them. That’s what makes this game so special. It’s a great game but it’s the people that really make it special.

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Tiger and Phil: 10 Things We Heard on the Green

September 29th, 2009 No comments

As Tiger and Phil were posing with their trophies on Sunday NBC wasn’t able to pick up all the chit chat going on.  Here’s ten things overheard as Phil and Tiger posed for pictures.

1.    Tiger to Phil:  “Mine is bigger than yours.”

2.   Phil to Tiger: “Trade ya?”

3.    Tiger: “I guess I could use it as a water bowl for my dogs.”

4.   Tiger to Phil: “I told Finchem: If I play all four tournaments, I better get 10 million.”

5.    Phil: “Damn! Even when I beat him he wins something!”

6.   Tiger: “I say we tell Finchem we want 20 mil next year.”

7.   Phil to Tiger: “Too bad it’s not a major.”

8.    Tiger: “Where the hell is Y.E. Yang? I want to shove this up his……”

9.   Phil to Tiger: “Don’t think this means we are playing together at The Presidents Cup.”

10.   Tiger: “FedEx Cup, Presidents Cup, Ryder Cup, who cares? I want another major!”

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Tiger and Phil and Two Trophies

September 28th, 2009 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

It seemed fitting that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson shared the spotlight on the eighteenth green at The Tour Championship. Tiger and Phil stood side by side, Phil with the Tour Championship Trophy and Tiger with The FedEx Cup. They are the two most skilled and popular golfers in the United States and their spotlight sharing could be seen as a vindication of The FedEx Cup Playoff system. The tour finished its regular season with the two biggest stars on the roster. The Playoffs gave us exciting tournaments and Tim Finchem must be thrilled that Woods and Mickelson headlined on the final day.

At the beginning of the season there was hope that that Phil and Tiger would go head to head often enough to make it a real rivalry, but Tiger’s knee was a big question mark. Woods played sparingly to start but was winning by his third start. Phil won in his fourth start on tour and then the two met at The Masters. In a Sunday showdown that paired the two together, they captivated the fans as they traded shots and stole the show from the winner until they faded at the end. But the stage had been set, our appetite whetted, we were ready for an entire season of Tiger and Phil, head to head. And then real life intervened. What’s that line, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making plans.” Life happened to Phil. He was off the Tour to tend to his wife and family as she and his mother received treatment for cancer. Golf was put on the shelf for awhile.

Woods continued to get stronger and healthier and seemed to win each time he played. He had six wins and two seconds coming into the Tour Championship but Woods did not have a win in the majors. As much as Tiger says he is content with his season the fact that he did not win a major still eats at him. He says so right after he holed his last putt at The Tour Championship. Tiger’s interview.

The fact that Phil could contend on Sunday was a miracle in itself. Remember on Thursday afternoon when he ping-ponged the ball back and forth across the fourteenth green on his way to an eight on the hole. His tournament could have been over with there, but he persevered and started to make some putts and shot 67, 66 and 65 on Sunday to win; not too shabby for a part time golfer. Afterward Phil spoke of all the help he gets from his team of Butch Harmon, Dave Pelz and newly recruited Dave Stockton. He was quick to share the victory with team of coaches. He also said that all the distractions at home had no effect on his focus on golf. It’s just like Phil not to make any excuses. Phil’s interview.

Both players said they were looking forward to The Presidents Cup and really ready for some down time with their families. They both stated that they have plenty to build on for next year and look forward to starting next year utilizing all they have learned from this year. With Tiger fully healed and Phil’s family in recovery we can’t wait for the two of them to start it all over again.

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Kenny, Tiger, Phil; Three Different Seasons

September 27th, 2009 No comments

At the start of the season if Tim Finchem could have looked into the future and saw the leader board for the final round of The Tour Championship he would have smiled.  With Kenny Perry, Tiger and Phil atop the standings he would have been sure to think the Playoffs were a success. However, none of us, Finchem included would ever have imagined how the season was to unfold.

All the question marks about Tiger and his comeback from knee surgery were put to rest when he started winning almost every time he teed it up. Tiger has had a dominating year on the PGA Tour with six wins but has come up short in the majors. Who could have predicted that of Tiger’s six wins none would be majors?

Phil’s year started out poorly but soon found his game and had two wins before The Masters. When he and Tiger fought it out in a head to head battle that stole the show at The Masters we thought we would see that all season. Then Phil got the news of Amy’s cancer and his season and his life were changed forever. Phil has always put his family above golf and his season took a backseat to Amy and his other family issues. It’s amazing he is able to compete at this level with so little practice.

Kenny Perry won early this season and had The Masters in his grasp with a two stroke lead with two holes to play. After his collapse and loss at Augusta he won over more fans than he would have if he had won the tournament. Perry handled his loss with class, dignity and sincerity and allowed us all to see the character he possesses. Perry also has had many family health issues this season has been given many challenges but he always acted with class and put his family first. Check out Tim Rosaforte and Kenny Perry.

Now Perry sits in first place with a two shot lead on Tiger. He has an outside chance of winning The FedEx Cup, but only a very outside chance. It is fitting that three of the players that set the tone for the season at The Masters will close out the PGA Tour’s regular season, three men of character and skill and all with three very different flavors to their seasons. Who would have imagined that these three would have a season like this? Now they all have a chance to put a special ending on their emotional and unique seasons.

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Tiger Leads The Tour Championship

September 25th, 2009 No comments

Could it be all over at The Tour Championship? Has Tiger taken the lead for good? Are rounds three and four at East Lake just a victory lap for Woods? Tiger’s one shot lead over good buddy Sean O’Hair and constant playing partner Paddy Harrington should have been more. Tiger missed a short putt for eagle on fifteen and a five footer for birdie on sixteen.

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Payne Stewart’s Kids Grow Up

September 25th, 2009 No comments

In addition to the season finale and a ten million dollar payoff the PGA Tour uses The Tour Championship to present The Payne Stewart Award. The award is given to a “player who shows respect for the traditions of the game, a commitment to uphold the game’s heritage of charitable support and a professional and meticulous presentation of himself and the sport through his dress and conduct.” This year’s choice is Kenny Perry and he is very deserving of the consideration. Perry was overwhelmed by the honor, “There is no greater honor for a professional golfer than to receive the Payne Stewart Award,” said Perry. “Payne personified all the virtues the game of golf can teach us; so being recognized as a person who is worthy of an award created in his memory is incredibly humbling. This award is and will always be one of my greatest accomplishments.”

We all remember Stewart’s fist pump on the eighteenth at Pinehurst when he won The US Open and claimed his third major. He then hugged Phil Mickelson who was waiting for the birth of his first child. Stewart told Phil that there will be more Opens, but you’re going to be a father and there is nothing as special as that.

When Payne Stewart died he left his wife Tracey and two young children. His daughter Chelsea and her brother Aaron have grown up and started to live their adult lives. Chelsea works for the Tour Championship in Atlanta and Aaron is playing golf at his dad’s school. It seems fitting that his children would have a connection to the game he loved. Check out the videos and see how Payne’s little ones have grown up.

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The FedEx Cup Works, Just Don’t Call it a Major

September 24th, 2009 No comments

by Jeff skinner

The PGA Tour’s big finish starts today. Tim Finchem (Dr. Finchemstein) is happy with the “volatility” of this year’s FedEx Cup and is sure the ending will be a scenario that no one has thought of yet. Tiger Woods and the boys are back from a week off, the East Lake course is dried out, The Golf Channel and NBC are all set to broadcast hours and hours of coverage. It almost feels like a major, but not quite. The first three tournaments were exciting, The Tour Championship is a good way to finish off “The Playoffs” and the ten million check adds a great hook to the FedEx Cup but all of this hype doesn’t make it a major.

I’ll admit that these Playoffs have been the best yet with jammed packed fields and interesting finishes. Anytime we can watch the all the top golfers on The PGA Tour it is a bonus. The FedEx Cup got all the top players to play every playoff event, something that didn’t happen the first two years. Finchem and his tinkering with the points system has worked to the extent that he got full participation. The three winners gave us plenty of drama. Heath Slocum was a great upset story. Steve Stricker’s win went right down to the wire. Tiger’s win was Woods at his best, most dominating self. All great stories, all great tournaments. Still not a major.

The majors are the majors and The FedEx Cup is an interesting sideshow, but it is a long way from a major. The ten million dollar winner’s share is a huge carrot on a stick. The players are playing for the money here.  They would play any of the majors just for the trophy. Maybe the next generation of golfers will treat this like a major. If they grow up watching the world’s best golfers win The Fedex Cup and kiss the trophy and say that it is a major, just maybe they will be brainwashed enough to believe it.

I think they’ll be wise enough to realize that The Masters, The US Open, The Open Championship and The PGA Championship are the only majors that will ever matter. The Players is great, The Memorial is special and The FedEx Cup is fun, but none of them are majors. We’ll enjoy the FedEx Cup Playoffs for what it is: a good ending to the PGA’s season.

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FedEx Cup Winners, Hot Clubs and Bobby’s East Lake

September 23rd, 2009 No comments

All right, so we all know that if any of the top five guys in the FedEx Cup win the The Tour Championship, they will win the FedEx Cup also. So all Tiger, Stricker, Furyk, Johnson and Heath Slocum have to do is win to be the FedEx Cup Champion. That’s the simple part. How does number thirty, John Senden win The Cup? Here’s how; Senden must win the Tour Championship, Tiger Woods must finish 30th; Steve Stricker must finish seventh or worse; Jim Furyk must finish fifth or worse; Zach Johnson must finish fourth or worse; Heath Slocum must finish third or worse; Padraig Harrington must finish third or worse. Piece of cake…right? Want to know the scenario for your guy, if it’s not Tiger? Check out the winning possibilities on PGATour.com.

Be careful where you buy your golf clubs. English authorities have arrested a bunch of guys who were selling counterfeit golf clubs. They estimate that millions of dollars worth of fake clubs were sold on EBay. Better check those new sticks, they may be bogus imitations. News from BBC News Channel.

The weather near Atlanta has finally cleared and allowed the grounds crew to get the East Lake Golf Club back in shape after torrential rains flooded the area. The PGA Tour Championship starts on Thursday and after fifteen inches of rain in the past week the course superintendent will be working day and night to get it into championship shape. Bob Harig on ESPN.com.

East Lake Golf Club is the home course of Bobby Jones and loaded with history. It has been host to seventeen major championships and the 1963 Ryder Cup. One of the oddities of East Lake is that it finishes with a par three. Not many tour stops end with a par three but this one is no pushover. It plays at 235 yards to a well bunkered green which should give us plenty of thrills on Sunday. Check out East Lake Golf Club.

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Monday Night Golfer

September 22nd, 2009 No comments

by Jeff Skinner

Over the last the last four decades Monday Night Football has occupied a significant spot in the sporting consciousness of America. From the first telecast in 1970 of the Jets at the Browns, to Howard Cosell, O J Simpson, Joe Namath and Dandy Don Meredith, Monday Night Football has been a staple for any football fan. The uniqueness of nationally televised night games has been worn away by the proliferation of NFL games on multiple networks. ESPN now carries Monday Night Football and that has given us the chance to see one of the best football analysts at work. Ron Jaworski is the best analyst on television. Jaworski, “Jaws” as he is called by everyone, offers a top notch analysis of the game each and every Monday night. No one in television breaks down a play with the skill of Jaws. He can break up a play into isolated parts and explains all the working parts of the action with plain, understandable English.

His career in broadcasting started by doing radio games for the Eagles but he was snapped up by NFL Films and did such a great job breaking down tape he has his own office at NFL Films. Many younger fans of MNF may not know how good a player Jaworski was in his day. He played for seventeen years in the NFL with four teams, but really made his mark with the Philadelphia Eagles. In 1980 he was the NFL MVP when he led his Eagles against the Oakland Raiders in the 1980 Super Bowl.

About the same time Jaws started buying and running golf courses. He started playing golf as a kid and never lost his passion for the game and keeps his handicap in the single digits. In 1979 he bought his first course, The Abington Club, a nine hole operation in Jenkintown Pa. He has owned or operated thirteen different courses at one time or another and now operates three courses, one each in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Now this would be a dream come true for many a sports fan: owning golf courses and having a night job calling NFL games. Tell me who wouldn’t want a piece of the “Life of Jaws.”

He has been known to stroll onto his Valleybrook Country Club in Blackwood New Jersey and play a round or two with the regulars. He would spend some time working the grillroom in the clubhouse on occasion too. He has combined his passion for golf and his natural born leader personality into his management company, RJM, Ron Jaworski Golf Management. His company will manage all aspects of running a golf course. Jaws and his management company believe that the success to a good club operation lies in all the little details and provide services for every facet of course operation. Check out  Jaws’ website.

If Jaws runs his company with the same skill that he uses to breakdown a Cover 2 defense, his courses must be great places to play. Golf by day and football on Mondays nights: not a bad way to spend your retirement.

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Tiger and Haney are a Perfect Team

September 21st, 2009 No comments

The PGA Tour starts up again this week with the final round of “The FedEx Cup Playoffs” at The Tour Championship. Tiger and the other twenty nine golfers who qualified used the past week to rest up, tweak their games and maybe watch a little football. As swing coach to the world’s best player, Hank Haney is charged with keeping him on top and to Tiger that means being willing to change. Haney says Tiger is always willing to try something to get better. That’s scary; he is already the best in the world and will do whatever it takes to improve. The difference between Tiger and many other golfers is that he doesn’t just talk the talk. He walks the walk. No one works harder on getting better than Woods and Haney is a huge part of his plan. Haney sounds as low key as a coach can be, but whatever his methods are, Tiger seems to think he found the right coach. Listen to Hank and don’t think you can get better without practicing and trying something new.

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