If Tiger Woods’ image is at a rock bottom, you wouldn’t know it from
the reception he is getting at the AT&T
National at Aronimink GC.
Not only did Tiger have the largest following during
Wednesday’s pro-am, around the golf course he was greeted with applause and
pre-scandal respect and awe.No
catcalls, no hoots or hollers, no thumbs-down, no embarrassing banners being towed
overhead behind airplanes.
It almost feels like Tiger is still the host of the
tournament, despite the fact that he was famously dumped by communications
giant AT&T at the wake of his
personal life meltdown and his name was scrubbed from the tournament.
On Tuesday, Tiger was ushered into the media center
for his pre-tournament press conference, which felt no less official than when did
them as the host of the three previous AT&T
Nationals at Congressional CC in
And late yesterday morning, Tiger was seated front and center at
the tournament’s opening ceremonies on the back lawn behind Aronimink GC’s ornate clubhouse.He was right there with PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and rocker Jon Bon Jovi.
So confusing is his role
here this week that earlier today CBS
Sports, which willbroadcast
the tournament Saturday and Sunday, issued a press release headlined:
WOODS HOSTS AND AIMS TO DEFEND TITLE IN "AT&T NATIONAL" ON
JULY WEEKEND, JULY 3-4 ON CBS SPORTS
Minutes later the network
sent out a corrective press release:
PLEASE NOTE PREVIOUS RELEASE ...."TIGER WOODS HOSTS AND AIMS
TO DEFEND TITLE AT AT&T NATIONAL" .....
TIGER IS DEFENDING TITLE, NOT HOSTING
Of course, whether Tiger is hosting or defending doesn’t
seem to much matter to golf fans.All they seem to care about is that they’re finally getting to see the
No. 1 golfer in the flesh.
For reasons that never made much
sense to me, golf, which often gets lumped in with polo and yachting as a
frivolous pursuit of the rich, took a major public relations hit during the
nation’s financial meltdown a few months ago.
Remember the outcry over Northern Trust,
which took bailout money, having the audacity to sponsor the Northern Trust
Open in Los Angeles? And don’t forget the fallout when AIG was discovered to be entertaining clients at a golf resort.
Suddenly, from coast to
coast, companies and corporations that had long used golf to lubricate the
gears of commerce were distancing themselves from the game, for fear of being
portrayed as fat, rich and wasteful.
At the U.S. Open
many corporations tried to get out of their contracts for hospitality
tents.Of those who stuck it out,
many opted not to display their corporate logo.
And nothing sums of the
state of things any better than the recent departure from the game of Buick, once
the sponsor of four PGA Tour tournaments, not to mention Tiger Woods.
So it was a pleasure, and
a surprise, to pick up yesterday’s New York Times and see a positive story about
golf, accompanied by photo, occupying a large chunk of page 1-A.
In a nutshell, the story
said that in areas such as the arid Southwest and drought-ridden Southeast,
nobody has figured out how to stretch a gallon of water more efficiently than
your average golf course super.
"In Georgia, golf course
managers have emerged as go-to gurus on water conservation for both industries
and nonprofit groups," said the Times story, which carried an Atlanta
The story recounted the
horrific drought in the Southeast of a couple of years ago, and described some
of the creative measures golf courses adopted in their misery use of water.
They mowed less frequently and more selectively, found grasses and plants that needed
less water to survive and, of course, reduced irrigation, to name a few
president of the Georgia Water Wise Council, told the newspaper that her group had
relied heavily on golf course superintendents in drafting guidelines for
homeowners and industries.
As somebody who has hammered Michelle Wie with criticism over the past couple of years, let
me be the first to say, "Welcome back, Wie."
Did you see that U.S. Solheim Cup captain Beth Daniel made Wie,
who is still only 19, as one of her two captain’s picks for the upcoming match
(The other pick was eight-time Cup veteran Juli Inkster.)
And did you see and hear young Wie
when they handed her the microphone at the press conference?
"I am so honored and so
thrilled," she said. "I'm just so excited to be wearing this jacket and this
hat and to be representing my country; it's such a thrill for me. I'm just so
honored and so thankful that Beth picked me and I'll do my best not to let her
so...poised, so...grown-up, so...likeable.
the sullen attitude Wie had shown in recent years, replaced
by a new reality-based view of herself and the world around her.Can it be only a year or so ago that Wie was careening from one bad
decision to another?
she did seemed to be wise or right back then: playing injured, firing caddies
or agents, making yet another ill-advised and failed attempt to play against
the me in a PGA
Tour event.It was beginning
to look like the erstwhile promising young phenom
from Hawaii was going to implode or, more likely, simply fade into
something happened once she got to Stanford.Maybe it was because she was a little older, a little wiser
– or maybe she discovered life not being under the thumb of her
began to blossom, or blossom once again. You never see or hear about her
parents these days.She seems to
have taken control of her own young life and, frankly, her life and career
appear to be on an upward trajectory.
Now, having earned her way onto the LPGA tour
via Q-school, Wie is a rookie in good standing.She still hasn’t won a tournament since
Women’s Amateur Public Links, when she was 13, but victory will come sooner
rather than later.So far this
year, she has five top 10 finishes in 13 tournaments and ranks 17th
on the LPGA
If she didn’t earn one of the 10 Solheim Cup spots
on points, it was only because she ran out of time. Wie was 13th on the points list, an
impressive feat considering she did that in only one year.Everybody ahead of her earned their
points over two years; if they had gone by only this year’s points, Wie
would have ranked 6th and made the team on her own for the Cup, set
21-23 at Rich
Harvest Farms outside Chicago.
The bottom line is that the Michelle Wie we all rooted for several years ago looks like
she’s back.Good.Here’s hoping she does well in the Solheim Cup, gains
a ton of confidence and truly sets her young career on the fast track once
The idea for this
site has been kicking around in the back of my mind for more than a year, since
before I left The Philadelphia Inquirer in September 2008. I had
hoped to launch it early in the golf season, in March or April; so much for my
timing. To do it the way I wanted – to do it right – took
longer than I expected.
The key was finding
the right business partner, who I found in Craig Ammerman,
golf man, former newspaper editor, entrepreneur, CEO. (For more on Craig,
click on "About Us" on the Home
page menu bar.) Next, we had to come up with designers who could bring to life
the website I saw in my head.
Now, we’re up and
running, but I hope you’ll bear with us in the early going. I’m still learning
how to fly this state-of-the-art baby. Every time I open the back end,
I’m as awed as a rookie pilot sliding into the cockpit of an F-14 Tomcat.
Our goal for MyPhillyGolfis simple in concept, difficult in
execution. Here, in one of the great golf cities and regions in the country,
we want to become the single most dominant source of golf news, views,
information, conversation, debate, course and equipment reviews and tips from
pros. We want to come as close as we can to one-stop shopping, regardless
of whether you’re a daily fee golfer or a member of a private club.
We obviously have our
own ideas about what myphillygolf.com should be, as you can see. We’re
born but not yet fully developed. Some features are still to come; more on
those as we implement them. No doubt there are also good ideas that haven’t
occurred to us. If you’ve got a suggestion, please let me hear it at firstname.lastname@example.org
or Craig at email@example.com.
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