by Jeff Skinner
This weekend didn’t capture the imagination of America as no popular Americans, men or women contended but there was plenty of “great stuff” as my brother likes to say.
1. Every professional golfer that wins has a drastic life change in store. But how about every player that just plays in a tournament? That’s the case for the 81 First Tee participants that were lucky enough to tee it up alongside Champions Tour players at the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. These youngsters get to play at the cathedral of American golf with players that actually take an interest in them. Adam Schupak has a must read piece in the New York Times on the First Tee and how a small gesture can build a bond for a lifetime.
2. Greenbrier owner Jim Justice is out $2.5 million, the fees paid Tiger and Phil to play, but still signed up to host the tournament until 2021. He has the cash to bankroll it but with all the debate about “personal services contracts” he may have kicked the hornets’ nest. The PGA Tour may be forced to look into this…but then again they can always look the other way just like they’ve been doing for years.
3. It took groups six hours to play at The U.S. Women’s Open… in twosomes! Really…are you kidding me? I’d kill myself on the third hole. Someone has to do something in a very big way to stop this.
4. One of the first steps that can be made to reduce slow play is to prevent those caddies from standing behind all those female players. Come on…this is the big time. Paula and the rest…start playing on your own.
5. No Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson on the weekend. It was the first time both were sent packing together. Does Jim Justice get a rebate on that $2.5 mil?
6. At least the fans in West Virginia had John Daly to watch this weekend. And to his credit he played well and was able to finish without a meltdown.
7. Ted Potter Jr. is in for the whirlwind that comes with his first PGA Tour win. He’s set for awhile with his two year exemption, big bank account and trips to the majors. Potter said he didn’t realize that winning The Greenbrier got him into The Open Championship. When it was mentioned to him that he gets to go to The Open and The Masters his response, “It’s going to be fun.” Talk about an understatement.
8. Potter’s life isn’t the only one that changed yesterday. Second place finisher Troy Kelly’s paycheck of $658,800 secures his PGA Tour card for 2013. Now he can rest easy knowing he can tee it up whenever he wants next year.
9. Na Yeon Choi showed some real championship mettle on the back nine yesterday. Her six stroke lead at the start looked insurmountable but after a triple bogey on ten dropped it to a mere two strokes she settled down, birdied the next hole, made a great recovery at twelve and birdied fifteen and sixteen. That’s championship golf.
10. Again we saw the Americans falter and the South Koreans surge on the weekend. Maybe Dottie Pepper had the reason. She related a story about visiting the practice range only to find South Koreans beating balls and no Americans to be seen. There’s no feeling of entitlement by the Koreans. Can we say the same about the American women?
11. Michelle Wie teased us with a 66 on Friday but card an 80 on Saturday. Inconsistent …yes, talented…yes disappointing…yes. Hopefully she can take some positive form this trip to Blackwolf Run.
12. I thought it was great television when Pepper and Annika Sorenstam were paired in the booth with Dan Hicks. Both ladies will face each other as assistant captains at the Solheim Cup. Hicks was quick to ask Annika about the story when she taped a picture of the fiery Pepper to a punching bag in the European Team Room. Yes, she said it was true and the two had a funny moment as they mockingly went for each other’s throats.
13. The best pairing of the week didn’t happen on the weekend. It was this morning on the Golf Channel’s Morning Drive show. Paul Goydos and John Feinstein were behind the desk and there isn’t a better pairing anywhere. They go way back to Feinstein’s “A Good Walk Spoiled” and their friendship is obvious and their bickering is world class. They go at it like an old married couple. Goydos has such an offbeat and insightful perspective and no one is better connected than Feinstein. Then you throw in a report from Tim Rosaforte and you have a threesome for the ages. I can’t imagine what Feinstein’s and Rosaforte’s contact list on their cell phones looks like.
Good stuff, good stuff.