PRESS PASS
Tiger and Stevie 
 
Is Steve Williams a goner?
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
By Joe Logan

If Tiger Woods is true to form, we may have just seen the beginning of the end for caddie Stevie Williams.

 

In you missed it, in his interview after the final round of the U.S. Open on Sunday, in which he shot 75 and failed to mount any kind of charge, Tiger did something he never does:

 

He blamed Stevie.

 

Not totally, of course, but for a crucial club selection and plan of attack when it really mattered, at Pebble Beach’s 10th.

 

"I fired at the pin on 10," Tiger said Sunday. "Steve said take dead aim right at it, and in my heart I said no. There was no chance. I have a sand wedge in my hand, and I can't play at that flag."

 

That quote speaks volumes.  For one thing, Tiger always refers to Williams, his longtime and deeply loyal caddie, in the more familiar "Stevie." For another, no matter what goes wrong in a round, Tiger has never laid so much as a hint of blame at anybody else’s feet.

 

If Williams is indeed out or on the way out, we’ll probably know soon enough – perhaps as soon as next week’s AT&T National at Aronimink GC.

 

It will interesting to see if Williams is on Tiger’s bag at the AT&T.  Even if he is not, an announcement or full and candid explanation is unlikely.  Williams’ absence would more likely be explained away as him taking a week off to take care of some business back home in New Zealand.

 

If Williams is a goner, it would also mean that Camp Tiger, which was already a tiny inner circle of advisors and intimates – most notably agent Mark Steinberg, PR man Glenn Greenspan and Williams -- just got even smaller.

 

The trail of cast-offs in Tiger’s wake is already big.  There was his first agent, Hughes Norton, caddie Mike "Fluff" Cowan and swing coaches Butch Harmon and, more recently, Hank Haney.

 

In the case of Haney, Tiger didn’t even need to officially fire him.  He simply gave him the cold shoulder for a few weeks.  Hank got the message loud and clear and quit by text message.

 

If Stevie senses he’s out, my guess is he would do the same.  He may have earned an image as a gruff bully as he tried to protect Tiger at tournaments, but Williams is his own man.  Nor was he at all happy to learn of the double life Tiger had been leading right under his nose.

 

In 12 years on Tiger’s bag, Williams has made millions and he is presumably financially set.  He also has plenty of other interests, especially auto racing.  He could walk away and live a full life back home, with his fellow Kiwis.


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Tiger at 2000 U.S. Open 
Donít expect a miracle from Tiger at Pebble
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
By Joe Logan

Remember just a year or so ago when it was a foregone conclusion that Tiger Woods would break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors?

 

These days, the only foregone conclusion about Tiger’s future is that his image will never be the same.

 

On the eve of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, the scene of his most remarkable single achievement – his 15-shot victory in the 2000 Open -- the odds makers still say Tiger is a favorite to win, along with Phil Mickelson.  But I don’t see it.  I don’t think his game or his head are in the right place to win major No. 15.

 

Considering how he dominated golf like no one ever before him – not even Nicklaus – this current state of affairs is tragic and almost inconceivable.  For the first dozen years of his career, this guy was the prohibitive favorite to win any tournament he entered, especially the majors, where he somehow managed to find another gear.

 

And yet, when he sticks a peg in the first tee tomorrow, the Open will be only the fifth tournament Tiger has played all year.  If not for his fourth place finish at the Masters, his first tournament back after his self-imposed post-scandal exile, Tiger would be much worse than his current 145th ($405,300) on the PGA Tour money list.

 

In his three other tournaments,  Tiger’s showing has ranged from bad to embarrassing: He shot 74-79 at Quail Hollow to miss the cut, he WD’ed from the Players Championship with a sore and he finished tied for 19th at the Memorial, a tournament he has won four times.

 

Despite his insistence that his game is coming around, most indicators suggest otherwise.  He is spraying tee shots left and right, his putting isn’t what it once was, and, most ominous, he seems to have lost his aura of invincibility.

 

I used to stand on the practice range at tournaments and watch Tiger arrive.  He would stride to the end of the range, past the other pros, without so much as a smile or a glance in their direction.  He was sheriff, the man, and they knew it.  Half the guys averted their eyes, as if they felt unworthy in his presence.

 

Those days are over.  They all know Tiger is human, vulnerable, beatable, from Phil to Steve Stricker to Lee Westwood and beyond.  Many knowledgeable observers are coming to believe that Tiger’s best golf could very well be behind him,

 

In his personal life, the bad news just keeps coming.  Reports of his impending divorce from Elin are as incessant as those vuvuzelas horns at the World Cup.   In his pre-Open press conference at Pebble Beach, when a reporter asked if there was any resolution between he and Elin, Tiger replied testily, "That’s none of your business."

 

Only today, the New York Daily News reported that porn star Devon James, who claims to have had a 2½ affair with Tiger, also claims that he is the father of her 9-year-old son.

 

I don’t care how strong you are mentally, or how much money you have to insulate yourself, standing up to the pressures and humiliations that hang over Tiger like a dark cloud takes its toll.   Even when he finds sanctuary between the ropes at a golf tournament, it is only temporary – and Tiger surely knows from the hoots, catcalls and thumbs-down treatment that he has alienated half the fans at the tournament and at home watching on TV.  The man has made a mess of his life, and how can it not be eating away at him?

 

If he can ever get his game to the point that Jack Nicklaus’ Mt. Everest of a record once again appears to be scalable, Tiger will have demonstrated himself to be even better than we once all thought.  That’s saying something.

 

I don’t expect it to start happening this week at Pebble Beach.


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The Muni Golfer[6/17/2010 9:08:31 AM]
I couldnít agree more with your comments Joe.
Eric[6/16/2010 5:50:06 PM]
Tiger is toast. His game is gone, his image is shot.

Tom Watson and Bruce Edwards 
Bruce Edwards: Caddy for Life
Monday, June 14, 2010
By Joe Logan

Just got an email from Neil Oxman, frequent caddie for Tom Watson and Philadelphia-based political consultant, reminding me that tonight (June 14) at 9 p.m., the Golf Channel debuts its documentary on the late, great Bruce Edwards, Caddie for Life.

 

Based on John Feinstein’s book of the same name, the documentary chronicles the life of Oxman’s good friend and Watson’s longtime, loyal caddie, who died in 2004 of Lou Gehrig’s disease.

 

Below is the PR release from the Golf Channel:

 

 

Golf Channel’s ‘Caddy for Life: The Bruce Edwards Story’ Goes Beyond the Game

Documentary provides platform to raise ALS awareness

 

ORLANDO, Fla. (June 9, 2010) – The June 14 premiere of the Golf Channel documentary, Caddy for Life: The Bruce Edwards Story, not only will recall the inspirational life of one of golf’s pioneers, but also will shed light on the disease that tragically took his life and how his family and closest friends continue to fight for a cure.

 

Based on The New York Times best-selling book by John Feinstein, Caddy for Life is an amazing and emotional remembrance of the extraordinary relationship between one of history’s greatest golfers, Tom Watson, and his longtime friend and caddy, Bruce Edwards.  It also recounts Edwards’ battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, until his untimely and tragic death in 2004.

 

Watson and Feinstein were inspired to tell their stories to remember a great man, but they knew that participating in the documentary also would provide a great platform to raise awareness for a disease that afflicts one in 100,000 people every year – and one that has no cure.

 

"This gives me the bully pulpit to speak about ALS," said Watson when interviewed about the documentary.  "It took his (Edwards’) life, and still is taking people’s lives.  We need to continue this battle and make sure we’re doing everything we can to slow this deadly disease down."

 

Says Feinstein, "A lot of people aren’t aware of the story and we can educate them about ALS.  If we are able to raise awareness and funds for research, then the documentary has done a major thing."

 

As part of the Caddy for Life documentary project, Golf Channel has donated $25,000 to The Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins.  The Packard Center is the world’s leader in aggressive, collaborative ALS research. The Bruce Edwards Foundation donates 100 percent of its proceeds to the Packard Center, aiming to provide more tomorrows to today’s ALS patients.

 

Caddy For Life:  The Bruce Edwards Story premieres June 14 at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel.


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Hoganís 1-iron shot in 1950 Open at Merion 
Merion GC hosted two of Top 10 U.S. Opens
Thursday, June 10, 2010
By Joe Logan

Plenty of golf fans know that Merion GC has hosted four U.S. Opens, but now comes semi-official word that two of those Opens rank among the very best.

 

At least so says Sports Illustrated in its preview issue for the upcoming 110th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach GL.  In the view of an esteemed panel of SI editors and writers, which included Philadelphia-based senior writer Michael Bamberger, Merion GC hosted two of the Top 10 Opens in history.

 

No. 10 on SI’s list was the 1971 Open, in which Lee Trevino and Jack Nicklaus, the two best players in the game at the time, finished regulation tied for the lead.

 

On the first tee of the 18-hole playoff, Trevino remembered that his daughter had left a rubber snake in his bag.  He proceeded to pull out the snake and toss it  and Nicklaus’ direction, amusing the Golden Bear. Trevino, however, went on to shoot 68, winning by three shots.

 

Trevino also went on to win the Canadian and the British Opens over the next three weeks.

 

No. 4 on the SI list was the famous 1950 Open at Merion, which saw Ben Hogan, 16 months removed from a near-fatal head-on collision with a bus, with his legs heavily wrapped, limped his way to the second of his four Open titles.

 

It was the ’50 Open, of course, that was immortalized in the Hy Peskin photo of Hogan lacing a 1-iron into the 72nd green, setting up a par that led to a three-man 18-hole playoff with Lloyd Mangrum and Philadelphia’s George Fazio.

 

If you’re wondering which Open SI ranked as the No. 1 Open of all time, it was the 1913 Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., where 20-year-old amateur Francis Ouimet whipped the Tiger and Phil of their day, Brits Ted Ray and Harry Vardon.

 

The most memorable Open in recent history, 2008 at Torrey Pines, in which Tiger Woods, wincing from  broken leg, prevailed in a playoff over Rocco Mediate, was ranked No. 3.


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BJ[11/21/2011 9:09:41 PM]
Hoganís shot to the 72nd at Merion, 1950. You claim it was a 1-iron. Everyone claims so. Hogan said it was a 2-iron. Read his book.

No. 6 at Commonwealth National GC 
Subtle signs of a golf recovery
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
By Joe Logan

Count Terry Tumolo, longtime general manager at Commonwealth National GC, as among those who believe the private club side of golf is beginning to climb out of the doldrums.

 

"I would say we are recovering," Tumolo, a former board member of the Philadelphia chapter of the Club Managers Association of America with a big-picture sense of the club scene.  "At times I would almost call it vibrant."

 

Tumolo’s optimism, however, does come with a measure of caution.  "It’s fragile," he said the upturn.  "This could all blow up and the positive momentum that a lot of us are enjoying could stall, if there is another dip in the economy or a world event."

 

At Commonwealth National, which is one of several clubs in the area that offer corporate memberships, it’s that side of their business that is slower to recover.

 

"It’s tough to depend on that segment of the market to energize your club," said Tumolo.  Instead, he said, it is the "core golfers" who had been forced to drop their memberships in the past year or two, who are beginning to return to the club.  ‘A lot of those folks are either back or motivated to get back," said Tumolo.

 

Surprisingly, perhaps, Tumolo believes junior golf is driving at least part of the recovery at Commonwealth National and at other clubs with junior programs.

 

"We didn’t lose one member to attrition – not one – whose kids play golf," he said.  "Families are joining so their kids can play.  And we’ve had a bug surge in female junior golf."

 

Even with these encouraging signs, Tumolo is also quick to point out that many clubs have decreased or altogether dropped their initiation fees and that only a handful of clubs currently have waiting lists, even among top-tier clubs.

 

"Those clubs with $70,000, $80,000, $90,000 initiation fees, there’s no market for that right now," said Tumolo.


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Unplayable: Tawdry tale of the Tiger in í09
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
By Joe Logan

If you’re not still battling a severe case of Tiger Fatigue, let me recommend a new book I just finished.

 

It’s called Unplayable: An Inside Account of Tiger’s Most Tumultuous Season, and I think most any golf addict or Tiger-ophile will find it to be something of a page-turner.

 

Author Robert Lusetich, golf columnist for FoxSports.com, spent the entire 2009 season tailing Tiger; the result is a mother lode of insights into life on the PGA Tour, the World No. 1 golfer and the small, tight circle of intimates that constitutes Team Tiger.

 

Of course, when he pitched the book to Simon and Schuster, Lusetich had no idea about the whole other secret life Tiger was living in the shadows.  He sold the publisher on a book about Tiger’s incredible return from knee surgery to repair a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, enabling him to resume his quest of surpassing Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major titles.

 

Like virtually all other Tiger-watchers in the media, and most of Tiger’s inner circle, Lusetich was oblivious to the infidelities.

 

Indeed, having journeyed to his native Australia, where Tiger won the Australian Masters in November, Lusetich was at home in Los Angeles, putting the finishing touches on his manuscript, when the news broke of that fateful car crash in the wee hours after Thanksgiving that changed everything.

 

As shocking and unseemly as the revelations about Tiger’s "other life" have been, Lusetich did not completely rethink and rewrite the narrative of the book.  He still told the tale of Tiger’s ’09, only with a new final chapter entitled, "The Reckoning."

 

Like most members of the media, Lusetich, who is a colleague and pal of mine, was embarrassed to have to admit that he knew nothing of Tiger’s secret life, nor had he ever seen anything that gave him reason to be suspicious. 

 

"My view of Woods – admittedly from observations made at the distance of press conferences or media scrums after rounds but also interspersed with the occasional brief off-the-record conversation – was that even though he is flawed, he is essentially a good guy," writes Lusetich.

 

Tiger did not cooperate with the book.  Lusetich did seek his cooperation through agent Mark Steinberg, but "Steiny," as Tiger calls him, said, "No."

 

Lusetich has no idea if Steinberg, who routinely rejects similar requests out of hand, ever bothered to discuss the matter with Tiger.  Lusetich now can’t help but wonder if Steinberg perhaps had concerns about what a book of this type might eventually turn up.

 

Official cooperation or not, Lusetich duly notes that over the course of 2009, Tiger was both "kind and generous with me."

 

What I especially enjoyed about Unplayable were some of the details about Tiger’s relationships, with caddie Steve Williams and other players, that Lusetich picked up over the course of the year. A few examples:

 

On Phil Mickelson:

 

-- ...(Steve) Williams confirmed what most inside golf’s highest circles long knew: Woods didn’t like Mickelson.

 

-- After Williams got in hot water for calling Mickelson a "prick" during a trip home to New Zealand, swing coach Butch Harmon, who had been fired by Tiger years before and now works for Mickelson, remarked that golf was a game of "honor" and said he didn’t believe Williams’ comments reflected Tiger’s feelings about Mickelson.

 

Writes Lusetich:

 

Harmon’s nose presumably grew after making that last remark.  He, perhaps more than anyone, knew that Woods had had worse – much worse – to say about Mickelson, who Woods considered to be a phony whose public and private personas didn’t exactly gel.

 

 

On the Masters:

 

After shooting a lackluster 70 in the third round, Tiger was furious, and he headed straight to practice tee at Augusta National, trailed by his small entourage.  First, he chewed out his caddie, Williams, who slipped away to find a sandwich, leaving swing coach Hank Haney alone with Tiger.

 

Writes Lusetich:

 

Haney, however, remained and bore the brunt of a tirade.  "Tiger was just livid and Hank had to sit there and take it," said Williams.

 

Witnessed by a handful writers, Lusetich writes, The incident led to stories that angered the admittedly thin-skinned Haney.  Haney would over the next week send text messages to several writers admonishing them for stories suggesting he was on thin ice with Woods.

 

On Hank Haney:

 

Among top swing gurus, the long knives were often out for Haney.

 

Writes Lusetich:

 

"My philosophy as a teacher," Haney writes, "is to teach my students to become their own best teacher by getting them to understand the flight of the golf ball and how it relates to the swing, with emphasis on swing the golf club on their own correct swing plane."

 

Innocuous enough, except that virtually every swing guru in golf believed Haney’s ideas were wrong.  (Butch) Harmon became the chief antagonist, telling anyone who’d listen that Woods was ruining his career, though he was hardly alone in that belief.

 

A Tour winner, a disciple of 1980s swing guru Jimmy Ballard, told me that Haney had cost Woods countless majors and "should be strung up for what he’s done to the kid.

 

On Tiger’s awareness of fans around him:

 

Writes Lusetich:

 

One of the misconceptions about him was that he was robotic on the golf course.   The image served him, se he perpetuated it, but it was a myth.  Woods knew precisely what was happening around him and was extremely observant.  When an Asian man with a very effeminate voice called his name several times from outside the ropes at a tournament, I’d assumed Woods was too far away to have heard.  Later, I discovered that he’d not only heard him but described him perfectly.

 

On Tiger’s sexcapades:

 

None of Tiger’s infidelities shocked Lusetich any more than the one that occurred at during the Buick Open, which he won thanks to shooting 63-65 on Friday and Saturday.  As it happened, the whole thing was going on while Lusetich and Tiger were staying just a few doors apart in the same Marriott Courtyard in Flint, Mich.

 

Writes Lusetich:

 

The sometimes pornographic actor, Joslyn James, whose real name is Veronica Daniels, alleged that she had been having a three-year affair with Woods.  Perhaps that was true, perhaps it wasn’t.  But after reading text messages she said were from Woods, I had no doubt that she’d spent Thursday night a few doors down from my room in that Flint Courtyard.

 

Woods was indeed in room 201, as her text messages alleged.  He’d flown her in, as he often did with women during tournament weeks, for a brief rendezvous, most of them lasting two or three nights.  James said Woods warned her he needed to get up at 4:15 a.m. for the following day’s round, yet she said after they’d had sex earlier in the evening, he’d had trouble falling asleep and called her back to his room for another tryst just a few hours before he had to wake up.  She estimated that he’d had perhaps two hours of sleep by the time the unsuspecting Williams drove their car to the hotel’s side entrance.

 

On Fartgate:

 

Contrary to YouTube legend, it was CBS golf analyst/jokester David Feherty, not Tiger, who launched the fart heard millions of times on the internet.  Lusetich knows because he was out on the course at the Buick Open, standing under a shade tree with Feherty, when the whole thing went down.

 

Writes Lusetich:

 

Feherty then gave me the news that he’d eaten beans for lunch and his stomach was grumbling.  "I’ve got one locked and loaded in the chamber," he said, like a proud parent.  Feherty and Woods had long engaged in farting contests on the course...

 

Feherty sensed that it was his moment to pounce.  While Woods bent over to stretch, Feherty launched a sick-sounding fart from nearby, so long and loud that both Woods and Williams immediately looked over to him and began laughing.  Unfortunately, Feherty had forgotten to turn his microphone off...

 

The reckoning:

 

In the days and weeks after Tiger’s car crash that brought his world crashing down around him, Lusetich was busily trying to piece together the story that was being kept largely under wraps by IMG, the golfer’s management group.  Where was Tiger?  Why wouldn’t he talk to the cops?

 

Writes Lusetich:

 

Woods, meanwhile, sank to his lowest ebb.  His wife, whose financial security had been sweetened in the immediate wake of the scandal in a desperate attempt to keep her from leaving then and there, was devastated by his betrayal.  She consulted divorce lawyers and didn’t want him under the same room.  All of her husband’s golf trophies, which had filled the family home, were removed.

 

Woods moved into another home at Isleworth and changed his phone number.  He was in "the fetal position," according to none source, and didn’t want to talk to anyone.  Long-standing friends, including Charles Barkley and Mark O’Meara, publicly lamented the fact that they could not reach Woods.  Steinberg drew much fire from many of Woods’s friends who were unable to get through to him.  "He became very reclusive, he was depressed, devastated, and most of all, I think, embarrassed," said a source close to Woods.

 

On what might have motivated Tiger to cheat:

 

There is some speculation among Tiger’s circle that, unable to control his sex addiction, he essentially self-destructed, almost deliberately allowing himself to get caught.

 

Writes Lusetich:

 

But the friend also offered another view, one echoed by others I’d spoken with about Woods’s marriage: that it was never the idyllic union it seemed.

 

"He was a late bloomer.  Even when he was at Stanford, he was kind of nerdy.  Then suddenly his body changed and he matured into this confident guy and he made up for lost time.  What I’ve always wondered is, Did he get married too early?  I think he just got caught up in the idea of getting married.  I think he jumped into it too soon."

 

 


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Muni Golfer[6/3/2010 10:36:40 AM]
Funny, the people who call Phil a phony then defend Tiger. Anyways, seems like a interesting book and a fascinating take on the whole situation.
Bill[6/1/2010 7:48:53 PM]
Good stuff. I agree, Phil is a phony.

Why I Play Where I Play
Thursday, May 27, 2010
By Joe Logan

Today, MyPhillyGolf launched what I hope will become a popular new feature: Why I Play Where I Play.

 

It is intended to be an occasional essay whose purpose is obvious from the title.  Let me be the first to admit that I totally appropriated the idea from Esquire magazine, which years ago had a similar feature called, "Why I Live Where I Live," featuring essays by some of my favorite writers.

 

To get "Why Play Where I Play" started, I cast out a line to several well-traveled golfing friends.  Steve Shaffer, a semi-retired lawyer and hopeless golf addict, was the first to take the bait.  He dubbed himself The Vagabond Golfer.

 

There are many reasons to favor a certain golf course or courses.  Quality, conditioning, price, proximity, the status of the club or course, difficulty (or ease) of the course, friendly staff and tasty hotdogs are only a few.  For some golfers, "Why I Play Where I Play" no doubt boils down to force or habit or lack of curiosity about what else is out there.  You might have different ideas of your own.

 

While I will seek out "Why I Play Where I Play" columns from golfers I think you might enjoy reading about, the feature will only reach its full potential if ordinary readers of MyPhillyGolf also get into the spirit.  Half the fun of being a golfer is talking about golf and golf courses.

 

All it takes is 500 or so words.  If you can write, terrific.  If you’ve got a good story to tell but you’re not so confident of your writing skills, I can help you with a little editing and ghostwriting.

 

One of my biggest goals for MyPhillyGolf is to help create sort of a virtual golf community in cyberspace.  "Why I Play Where I Play" can help.

 

If you’re game, drop me an  email.


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The Muni Golfer[5/28/2010 9:14:06 AM]
Joe, Great idea!


 
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