It’s good to see Sean O’Hair making some noise
again.In his first two tournaments
in the new wraparound 2014 season, O’Hair has made two cuts, finishing T-26th
($35,500) at the Fry.com Open and T-15th ($87,150) this past week at
the Shriners Hospital for Children Open.
Just a few weeks ago, it wasn’t at all clear
that O’Hair, who lives in West Chester with his wife and four kids, was even
going to be on the PGA Tour for the 2014 season – not after a dismal ’13
that left him 170th in the FedEx Cup standings, a tumble that potentially
could have cost him his PGA Tour card.O’Hair was so low, so lost, he told the Global Golf Post that he
wasn’t sure he wanted to continue playing the Tour.
To keep his card, O’Hair, the 2005 Rookie of
the Year and a four-time winner on Tour, was forced to play in the
four-tournament Web.com Tour playoff series that has replaced Q-School as the
ticket onto golf’s big stage.
O’Hair began that quest by asking his
father-in-law, Steve Lucas, to return as his caddie.It was Lucas who was on the bag when
O’Hair made it through Q-School in 2004.He stayed on for O’Hai’s stellar rookie and
beyond, before eventually returning home to run his small insurance
agency.Nobody knows O’Hair or his
game better than Lucas, who is a member of the Executive Committee of the Golf
Association of Philadelphia.
At the first tournament of the ’14 season, two
weeks ago the Fry.com Open, AP golf writer Doug Ferguson caught up with O’Hair,
He lost confidence in his swing. He suffered what he called an identity
crisis on the golf course.
''I forgot myself as a player, how I swung and how I played,''
O'Hair said. ''And then taking that on the golf course, I almost forgot how to
act and how to think. I really just got to a point where I just kind of was blank
out there and lost my fight. Anything you could possibly do wrong, I did wrong
this year. I just had to take a step back and had to first ask myself, 'Do I
really want to do this anymore?'''
So far, the results are promising with Lucas by
O’Hair’s side.At the
Fry.com, he shot 65 on Saturday.Last week at the Shriners, O’Hair shot 66 on Thursday and 63 on
Saturday.Equally important, there
were no blow-up rounds, which had become a problem for the past year.
At the Shriners, after his 63, O’Hair was asked
about having Lucas back on his bag:
Yeah, he just makes me real comfortable out
there. Every round of golf I play away from the PGA Tour, I play with
him. He knows my game better than anybody out there. It's just
comfortable. He talks to me when I'm playing bad, and he kind of gets me
pumped up and ready to do. When I'm playing really well, he keeps me
calm. That is what you need out here. I think a good caddie is more
of a psychologist than anything.He
has been a great help for me and I wouldn't‑‑ I
definitely wouldn't be here, I wouldn't be back on Tour, without him.
At a golf dinner a few
nights ago, I sat next to a guy who runs a daily fee golf course at the Jersey
Shore.We touched on a couple
of topics that I thought you might find interesting:
When a course has recently aerated its green and/or fairways, what obligation
does it have to give golfers a heads-up before a round.
dinner companion believes that it’s not necessary to post a warning, front and
center, on the course’s website, or at the cash register in the pro shop.But if somebody asks point-blank before
plunking down their credit card if the course has recently been punched, he
believes honestly is the best policy.
other words, no need to go out of your way, but don’t lie or mislead. Same thing applies when a course has,
say, lost a couple of greens is or undergoing a significant maintenance project
that might affect the enjoyment of a round.
I agree with everything he said, but I think courses ought to go one step
further.On the phone, or
in-person for walk-ups, tell them about aeration/maintenance projects, even if
they don’t think to ask.Just a
friendly oh-by-the-way mention is plenty.If a course has a monthly newsletter, let regular customers know that
me, the logic is obvious and simple:If a daily fee course fails to give golfers fair warning, they
absolutely have it coming if those golfers march into the pro shop after the
round and announce, "Don’t expect to see me back here anytime soon.And I’m telling my friends why."
private clubs, the same rules don’t quite apply.For one thing, the pro shop is more
likely to give members a heads-up in its regular emails. Members of a club also tend to be more
familiar with the rhythms of the annual course maintenance, plus they are less likely
to go play elsewhere during an aeration.
line: There is no such thing as too much information.
-- That same course operator was unsettled recently
when a golfer, hot under the collar, came into the pro shop after his round and
began to complain about the pace of play out on the course.
course operator apologized and even offered to give the guy a replay for a later
date.But that wasn’t enough for
the angry golfer and he began making demands that the course operator found
unreasonable.That’s when the
angry golfer began to threaten to go on the internet and trash his course on
he do that?" the course operator asked.
he can, rightly or wrongly -- at least he can on many websites.
internet has given us all the ability to weigh in an virtually every topic and
every issue in the world, but it has also created something of a lawless, Wild,
Wild West in certain corners of cyberspace.Unfair, unsubstantiated, revenge reviews
(and overly gushy ones) by readers have been around for a while on websites
that review restaurants, hotels and travel destinations; now they are coming to
the comparatively civilized world of golf websites.
the case of MyPhillyGolf, I’ve been lucky. When
somebody posts a comment or review, I get an automatic email alert. I can give it a quick read and if I
decide it is distasteful or profoundly unfair, I can nix it.I can count on the fingers of one hand
the number of times I’ve had to do that since we launched in July 2009.
problem is far worse on websites with millions of daily visitors, where reader reviews/comments
are coming in by the hundreds, even thousands.At dinner that night, a woman at the
table knew of an angry traveler who exacted revenge on a hotel by going on a
major travel website and accusing them of having bed bugs.
Lately, I’ve been reading that websites
such as Yelp, the giant of the restaurant industry, are stepping up their
policing of reader reviews/comments.Good, they need to.Personally,
when evaluating reviews/comments, my rule of thumb is to toss out the highest
highs and the lowest lows.Go for
I was not a big fan of
George W. Bush as president.I
didn’t vote for him, either time.If you gave me a week, I’d be hard-pressed to come up with a single decision
or appointment he ever made that I agreed with.It’s strong, visceral dislike I’ve had for
the man, which I’m not proud of and at times have a hard time rationalizing.
And so, I must confess that I
was surprised last night when I found myself not loathing the guy – almost
warming to him -- as I watched the former president being interviewed on the
season finale of In Play with Jimmy
Roberts on Golf Channel. Maybe golf truly is the great humanizer.
President Bush was a golfer
long before he entered the White House.He told Jimmy Roberts, in a fairly rare post-presidency interview, that
he was introduced to the game as a 12-year-old at Cape Arundel GC, in
Kennebunkport, Maine, at his family’s summer home.
During the first two years
of his presidency, Bush played occasional rounds.He wasn’t very good and he wasn’t very
serious about the game; he played more as a release from the pressures of the
office.He quit playing altogether
during the Iraq war.
"I didn’t want some mother
whose son had died (in Iraq) to see me out playing golf," said Bush.
In the four years since he
left office, Bush has become a more frequent player – three or four
rounds a week– and a more
"I used to go out and hit
balls," he said."Now I’m trying to
be a player.I’m really trying to
get good and learn the game.I
didn’t know the game."
He can now break 80 on
occasion.He shot 77 at Augusta
National during an event for the First Tee.
In response to all yahoos
who attack Obama for playing too much golf, Bush defended the president."I know what it’s like to be in the bubble,"
he said."I know the pressures of
the job.I think it’s good for the
president to be out playing golf."
Finally, something George W.
Bush said that I agree with.
Just when I thought that
nothing about Tiger Woods’ life or career could possibly surprise me, along
comes this whole Wobblegate episode on Friday at the BMW Championship.
Of all the things I thought
we’d have to wonder about Tiger, going fuzzy on the rules of golf was not one
of them.But when I saw the video Saturday morning, I
felt like I’d been called down to the station house by the cops to watch
indisputable surveillance video of my kid shoplifting or my best friend beating
his wife.My heart sank.
Come on, Tiger, that ball moved – not much, but enough. We all saw it.Nobody ever said the rules of golf made
sense, or were especially fair, but they are what they are, we all have to live
by them and they are cast in stone.
By Saturday morning, Brandel & Boys on Golf Channel were shaking their heads
in collective dismay, or disbelief, over Tiger’s...er,
um, failure to readily recognize that the ball did, in fact, move, not
oscillate, as he contended.Truth is, Brandel & Boys walked right up
to the edge of calling Tiger a lying’, cheatin’ dog,
if you will permit me a bit of hyperbole.
They also cut to a report
that said a number of Tiger’s peers had watched the video in the locker room
and that everyone who saw it was "disturbed."
Still, Tiger was said to be
"livid" after he watched the video several times with PGA Tour official Slugger
White, who, let’s face it, is not going to come down hard on Tour’s marquee
player and cash cow unless circumstances warrant it.
Tiger’s presser on Saturday:
We didn't get a chance to chat with you yesterday after your round. How
would you best describe what happened there beside 1 green?
TIGER WOODS: Beside 1 green, I
thought it was fine. Afterwards, frustrated.
Do you feel like the two‑shot penalty was warranted?
TIGER WOODS: You know, it's
one of those things where I thought the ball oscillated, and I thought that was
it. I played the shot, played the round, and then Slugger and Tyler in
there, they replayed it and gave me two.
In a situation like that, how would you gauge your frustration level?
TIGER WOODS: I was pretty hot
because I felt like, as I said, nothing happened. I felt like the ball
oscillated and that was it. I played the rest of the round grinding my
tail off to get myself back in the tournament and then go from 5 to 7 behind, that
Was there a sense of, why is this happening to me again in 2013?
TIGER WOODS: Just kind of the
way it's been. I fought back today, which was not easy to do. Today
was a tough round, but I fought and got myself back within striking distance.
was going to say, how hard is it to concentrate when something like that
happens the following day?
TIGER WOODS: It's hard.
You know, there were a lot of thoughts going on last night, but the sun comes up
in the east, and we start a new day.
After seeing the video did you think that you deserved a two‑shot penalty after seeing the video?
TIGER WOODS: After seeing the
video I thought the ball just oscillated, and I thought that was it. I
thought that was the end of story. But they saw otherwise.
Is this one tougher to take than the penalty at Augusta? You seem to have
moved on from that one a little bit easier. This one seemed to linger.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, the one at
Augusta after going through it on Saturday morning, yeah, I did take the wrong
drop. But yesterday I didn't feel like I did anything, and as I said, I
described it in there and I said, I moved the pine cone right behind my
ball. I feel like the ball oscillated, and I just left it. That's
not‑‑ evidently it wasn't enough.
And it didn't occur to you that that was going to be an issue?
TIGER WOODS: No, not at
all. We all have been in the trees before, and things can move and do
move, and I felt like I tested it and felt like it just oscillated left and
stayed in the same position, but evidently it didn't.
Was it a pine cone or a twig?
TIGER WOODS: The pine cone was
behind my ball, but there was a twig in front.
It looked like on the video that it dipped down, but I didn't see it dip back
TIGER WOODS: As I said, from
my vantage point, I thought it just oscillated and that was it.
On the video you didn't see any difference?
TIGER WOODS: They replayed it
again and again and again, and I felt the same way.
It's kind of weird when Slugger would say one thing and you would say another,
and doesn't it usually fall on the side of the player?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know, but
I went from five back to seven back real quick.
Motivationally did that change you coming in here today?
TIGER WOODS: No, today was
going to be hard, just like Saturday at Augusta was hard. When situations
like that happen, I had to fight, and I fought my tail off today, and I'm very
proud of that, and I got myself back in the tournament.
Did you watch it in the trailer before you turned in your card, and then how
many times did you watch it at home last night?
TIGER WOODS: I never watched
it at home.
How much did you argue with them about it? I mean, did you feel that you
didn't get a fair argument with them inside?
TIGER WOODS: No, we had a very
good discussion. I'll end it at that.
This is a completely
different situation from the penalty Tiger incurred at the Masters earlier this
year, when he made a bad drop, then signed an incorrect scorecard.There, blame should be laid squarely at
the feet of Masters officials, who were determined to come up with any
rationale not to have Tiger DQed heading into the
weekend ratings bonanza.
If you don’t believe me,
check out the "My Shot"
by David Eger in the current issue of Golf Digest.Eger, a Champions Tour player and former
PGA Tour rules official, is the guy who saw Tiger’s bad drop at the Masters on
TV and immediately phoned tournament officials.
It turns out that Eger and
Fred Ridley, chairman of the Masters Rules Committee, aren’t each other’s
biggest fans.Here’s a pertinent,
juicy excerpt from Eger’s "My Shot:"
IN 1998, I qualified to play in the U.S. Open
at Olympic. The walking official in my group was Fred Ridley. After Casey
Martin, Ed Fryatt and I finished playing the seventh
hole, I noticed there was a wait on the eighth tee. The seventh tee also was
empty. So, I practiced putting, which is not prohibited at the U.S. Open as it
is at the Masters, the PGA Championship and on the PGA Tour. As I was stroking
the putts, Fred walked over and said practice putting wasn't allowed. It was a
serious objection, because if Ridley happened to be right, it meant I'd incur a
penalty. I suggested to Ridley that he check with another official, which he
went off to do while I continued to putt. On the tee at No. 8, Ridley returned
to inform me that practice putting was indeed allowed. A lot of years passed,
but when it became obvious he blew past my take on the Tiger drop, my 1998
opinion of his rules expertise was reinforced. In my view, Ridley's knowledge
of the Rules of Golf was, and is, suspect.
For every American and
millions of others around the world, today, Sept. 11, is a date we remember
each year for tragic reasons.For
me, Sept. 11 is also a personal anniversary.
Five years ago today, on Sept.
11, 2008, I walked out the door of The Philadelphia Inquirer for the last time,
after 26 years.When I left, I
wasn’t sure what my future held.All I knew was that the trend lines for newspapers looked bleak, that
the job I had loved so much was no longer fun or rewarding, and that the
Inquirer was looking to trim the newsroom staff by offering yet another round
As I mulled whether to take
the leap, I kept coming back to what one Inky colleague told me when he took an
earlier buyout: "You’ll know when
it’s your time."It felt like my
The idea for a golf website
or blog had been banging around in the back of my mind for a while.Initially, while I was still at the
paper, I had envisioned it as an outlet for golf stories that the Inquirer
Sports section no longer had the room, or inclination, to publish.The new Sports editor at the time
– now long gone – had made it clear he did not share my enthusiasm
Once I left the paper, I
quickly came to see a golf website as an entrepreneurial endeavor – one
that I hoped would fill a need for the local golf community, extend my career
as a golf writer and, let’s face it, make money.
We launched MyPhillyGolf.com
10 months later, in July 2009.Just
over four years hence, MyPhillyGolf is surviving and
growing, still becoming what I imagine it can be.It has changed and evolved over time, as
we have done our best to figure out what golfers and advertisers want and need.
There have been a couple of
major redesigns and too many minor tweaks to mention.We’ve added and dropped features,
welcomed and bid farewell to bloggers and moved stuff around like chess
pieces.I now realize that it is a
never-ending process.Hardly a day
passes that I don’t see something I want to improve or blow up entirely.
Five years after I left the
Inquirer, on what was a somber anniversary for the nation, I am happy to report
(mostly to myself) that there is life after newspapers.Building and maintaining MyPhillyGolf has been one of the most challenging and
fulfilling – and, at times, maddening – experiences in my
life.With your support,
there are many more anniversaries ahead.
When I saw last night that
Bev Norwood, longtime publicist for IMG, had died after a brief battle with
cancer, I sat down to write a tribute.Then I saw "remembrances" by two colleagues -- Adam
Schupak in Golfweek and Ron
Sirak in Golf World -- and decided there really wasn’t much more I could
If you covered the PGA Tour
over the past 30 years, you couldn’t help but know Bev Norwood, and he was very
much worth knowing.Because
IMG managed Tiger until a year or two ago, not only did Bev control much of the
flow of information about Tiger when Tiger was the Biggest Thing in all of
Sports, Bev was just plain fun to know.
He was diminutive man, wiry
and wry, with a drawl from having grown up in North Carolina. He was also the
source of a constant stream of commentary and wisecracks on golf and golfers,
life in general and anybody who happened to wander into his field of vision. At
tournaments, in the media center, Bev wouldn’t so much hold court as he would
walk from one writer of cluster of writers to another, confirming or debunking
rumors, or delivering the latest Tiger news that was suitable for public
consumption, or just catching up on gossip.
One of his best friends was
the legendary Dan Jenkins and the two of them (and oftentimes one or two
others) would find a corner in the dining room of the media center, a couple of
old-timers watching the world go by.You could see them people-watching, then nodding in apparent agreement
over something or somebody, or perhaps just over the absurdity of it all.
At night, Bev and often Dan
and others would repair to the bar in the media hotel, in whatever city it was
that week.They never seemed
to run out of things to talk about.
On any number of occasions,
I would find myself at lunch tables or hotel bars or sitting around the media
center with Bev.It was always a
joy.By virtue of his job, he knew
it all – the people, the places, the dirty laundry, which he was not inclined
to air publicly, and all that was about to happen or not happen, if you know
what I mean.That, and his wry,
running commentary, made Bev a man to know and like.