How about a major tip of the visor to Michael Tobiason Jr., the local club
pro, for his first-round 75 in the U.S. Open at Congressional CC.Okay, he’s not on the leaderboard, but
what he did Thursday was huge.Scorecard.
27, from Wilmington, a teaching pro at Applecross CC in Downingtown, told me the other day
that he had never been to a PGA Tour
event, let alone played in one, I
silently winced on the other end of the phone.Teeing it up in the U.S. Open, arguably the grandest stage in golf, for your first
big-time tournament is to suffocating pressure.
Having seen club pro after club pro shoot 85 in
the same situation, then bury their face in their hands in the locker room, humiliated,
I fully expected Tobiason to wilt under
the pressure at Congressional.To
his credit, Tobiason did no such
As I write this, shortly after 6 p.m., a bunch
of golfers are still on the course for the first round.Tobiason
is currently T-96th and looking better all the time.By the end of the day, he could be
hovering around the cut line.
I don’t know about you but I’m pulling for Michael Tobiason.
In Texas, they have a description for guys who
look and act like authentic cowboys and ranchers but in reality, aren’t: All hat, no cattle.
Yesterday, I played 18 holes behind golf’s
answer to that: All routine, no game.
No kidding, to look at the one guy in the
threesome ahead of us, you’d swear he must have been a PGA Tour pro.He was all decked out in a form-fitting
shirt and a pair of those tight nylon-looking pants favored by so many European
Tour players.His visor was pulled
down low, with his deliberately mussed-up hair sticking out the top in all
directors, making him look vaguely like Fredrik
Jacobson.Of course, the look
was finished off by a week’s worth of stubble.
From a distance, judging from his swing, you’d
figure he was a decent player.From
his routine, you’d figure he had to be no worse than a scratch player, more
likely some kind of touring pro.He
clearly took golf very seriously.
I mean, on every shot and every putt, he had a
full, minute-long routine, which he painstakingly repeated over and over.It was the kind of routine one can only
develop from watching hours and hours and hours of golf on TV.
On every shot, this guy would stand behind the
ball, eying his line or the projected flight ball of the ball.He’d do a false start or two, like
Sean O’Hair, then he’d step into the
shot and take a couple of full, careful practice swings.Finally, he’d look up once or twice,
dialing in on his target.
It was all very understandable and mesmerizing,
right up to the point that he would lay sod, or smash a pull-yanked OB left, or
foozle another stone-cold top.
When he would hit another crappy shot, which he
did pretty much every shot we saw, his head would drop in disappointment and
befuddlement, and he would look to his playing partners for some
explanation.How could such a
perfectly calibrated swing by such a skilled player as himself have produced
such a rancid result?
Hey, you can pull that off once or twice a
round, but after every shot?
My friend Tim and I, who were in a twosome,
first noticed the guy on the second or third hole, because we were waiting on
every shot.After watching him
chunk a 75-yard approach shot into the marsh, Tim said, "I think this guy
thinks he’s a better player than he is."
With all the waiting time on our hands, and to
amuse ourselves, we began to watch him more closely. By the 5th
hole, we were referring to him simply as Tour
On one hole, he pulled his tee shot into the
trees left of the fairway.That was
followed by an exhaustive examination of his recovery options, like something
you’d expect to witness in the final pairing of the U.S. Open on Sunday.Naturally, he topped his next shot,
advancing the ball perhaps 20 yards; his third shot appeared headed OB left.
Next hole: tee shot OB right.
At the 8th, a par 3, Tour Player
once again laid sod, sending his tee ball into the deep junk.He dropped on the forward tee, then
plunked his 3rd shot into the front bunker, needing two tepid
efforts to escape the sand; that was followed by a three-putt – a stylish
quad by my count.
Believe me when I say that none of the carnage
dissuaded Tour Player from an excruciating repetition of his routine on each
shot. Toward the end of the round, Tim’s and my impatience with Tour Player had
turned into enjoying his comedy of errors play out.How bad could it get?How bad could he get?
After the round, as we were head for the
parking car, Tour Player walked by with his bag slung over his back.It was all I could do to resist saying,
"Yo, bro, do us all a favor and watch less golf on
couldnít agree more - I belong to a small private club in Chester County and see this all the time. I would add that etiquette and common courtesy have taken a back seat to look good first play good second.
what happened to letting people play through? i feel like slow players get offended when the group behind them asks to play through. really? you can play as slow as you want so long as you donít affect the group behind you. itís flat out rude to sit there and make the group behind you wait as you stand over a 260 yd shot into a par 5 with your 3 wood that you have 1 out 10000 odds of hitting on or near the green. Just hit, please. you will make the game more enjoyable for yourself and others.
no wonder the game is suffering. no one wants to spend 5+ hrs on the course. itís a horrible epidemic only made worse by watching tour proís creep at a snails pace looking over a three foot putt.
[6/6/2011 5:20:01 AM]
My father always said that if you canít play well, dress well.
[6/6/2011 5:10:33 AM]
It was entertainment!
[6/5/2011 11:16:18 PM]
Iíve been lucky never to be in a slow group. (Usually I get paired up with random people.) Just today I was stuck behind a slow group. It took awhile before I could get a chance too look ahead of them and I finally saw that there was noone in sight. I was so furious I walked off my green and up to their tee box and asked them if they could play the last two holes in under 45 minutes. They did! Odder still, the group that was behind us couldnít keep up with us in spite of the excruciating pace we were making. At one point the other cart went back a hole to pick up a club and still they didnít catch up. Is it too much just to keep up with the group in front of you? FWIW, I HATE playing through. And if Iím on a crowded course, I will refuse somebody who asks.
[6/5/2011 5:33:16 PM]
Thatís a riot to read, but so stinking frustrating to live through especially on a hot day. Weíve all had those experiences. You want people to enjoy themselves on the course but at the same time you want them to play like they realize they arenít the only people on the course. Plum Bob square pants lives! Later at the 19th hole he transforms into Buzz Light beer.
Every now and then,
something happens in golf that makes you wonder, what is wrong with this
picture?One of those things just
It hit home for me as I was
reading today’s story
by Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press about Phil Mickelson yearning to win this
week’s the Memorial Tournament,
where living legend Jack Nicklaus is
the host.Other than the U.S. Open, the Memorial is about the only significant title in golf on American
soil that Mickelson has yet to win.
Deep down in the story, we
are reminded that ever since Tiger Woods
arrived on the scene, Mickelson has
been relegated to the second most-dominant player on the PGA Tour, perhaps the
world.He has 39 PGA Tour titles
and four majors.Nobody else is
Yet,for all his accomplishments, Mickelson has never won a money title,
never been voted Player of the Year and never been the No. 1 player in the
world golf rankings.
We note this on the very
week when the new No. 1 player in the world is Luke Donald,
a nice man and fine player, but one who has never won a single major and won
only three times on the PGA Tour and three times on the European Tour, most
recently the BMW PGA Championship in
I note this not so much to
disrespect Donald or to criticize
the methodology of the world golf rankings; Donald has, in fact, been a hot and steady player in the past year.
My point is more the
absurdity of what has been denied Mickelson
over the course of his career.No
golfer has labored in the shadows of Tiger
more than Mickelson.If not for Tiger, no golfer could have won more tournaments, more majors, more
money and more respect than Mickelson.
At 41, Mickelson is entering a crucial stretch of his career.He’s still very competitive, but there
is no denying that the buzzer has sounded to commence the fourth quarter.And with distractions such as his own
health issues (arthritis) and his wife’s breast cancer, it’s hard to know how
much Mickelson has left in the tank.
It’s had not to notice that
even with Tiger missing-in-action
for the past 18 months, Mickelson
has been unable to take advantage and finally rise to No. 1 in the world.If he is ever going to do it, now is the
There is a chance I am reading too much into it
but the fact that IMG has
outTiger’s longtime agent, Mark Steinberg, would
seem to speak volumes: specifically that the international management company’s
sense is that the most famous golfer in the world is now irredeemably damaged
IMG, the 800-pound gorilla of
sports management companies, had to know that when Steinberg walked, there is a very good chance Tiger would be right
behind him.In fact, no one should
be surprised if Steinberg hangs his
own shingle starting next week, with Tiger
as his first client.
If you missed it, the news broke Tuesday that Steinberg, the head of IMG’s golf operations in North America,
could not come to terms on an agreement to extend his contract, which expires
in June.Steinberg has been a huge player at IMG for years, with a stable of clients that includes Tiger, Annika Sorenstam and Steve Stricker.Even more intriguing is that word leaked to a couple of well-connected writers
that IMG pretty much offered Steinberg a deal they knew he would
refuse.You know, they wanted
To appreciate the magnitude of Steinberg’s departure, it would help to
have seen him and Tiger interacting
at tournaments over the years.Tiger calls him "Steiny." All smart and smooth, Steiny was never
more than an arm’s length away at all times.
At press conferences, it was a slight nod from Steinberg that would give the okay to commence
the questioning.Another nod from Steinberg was the cue to bring down the
curtain.He advised Tiger on all things in golf and in
life, and his fingerprints are on every endorsement deal Tiger has done for the past 12-plus years.If Tiger
becomes the first billion-dollar athlete, Steinberg deserves his share of the credit. Not surprisingly, he
guarded Tiger like a mama guards her
cubs, controlling any and all access.More than a few golf writers thought of Steinberg as "Dr. No."
personal life went into a tailspin, it was Steinberg
who managed the damage control from behind the scenes – or at least he tried
to.If anything, it was what many
regard as Steinberg’s failure to
control any damage, his bungling of Tiger’s
sordid crisis, that might have made IMG
believe he had become expendable.
Even so, when keeping Tiger Woods as a client hangs in the balance, it’s hard to believe
that IMG wouldn’t have kept Steinberg on so long as Tiger’s career continued to throw off a
steady stream of huge commissions.IMG is not known for leaving money on
the table.However, with his
reputation in tatters and the future of his golf career uncertain because of
one injury and ailment after another, the days of Tiger gushing million-dollar commissions for IMG or any other agent might be entering a downward trend.
All of this is speculation, of course.But the fact is, Steinberg has been the golden boy – dare we say the Tiger Woods of IMG -- for the past decade.If nothing else, his departure is further proof that nothing about Tiger or his career is the same any
You’d have a hard time finding an organization
anywhere in the world that does more valuable or better work than the Red Cross.Buy a sponsorship, a spot or a foursome in the pro-am and you
can feel like you’ve done something worthwhile.If you haven’t played Makefield Highlands, you’re also in for
a treat of a round.
In these tough times, I don’t have to tell you
how charities have to struggle to maintain their levels of contributions.It is not easy for anybody or any
organization, including the Red Cross.
A bunch of area club pros are pitching in to do
their part, offering their time to play.The list of pros is
I hope to see you at Makefield Highlands on May 24.
I don’t have any great stories about Seve Ballesteros.I wish I did.
When I started covering golf full time for The Philadelphia Inquirer, in 1996, the
best years of Seve’s
remarkable career were already behind him.He won the last of his three British Open titles in 1988 and the
latter of his two Masters in 1983.
By the time I began traveling the tournament
wasn’t officially retired but his appearances were few and far between.As a former Masters champion, however, he did enjoy returning to Augusta to
play each year, even if he had become something of a ceremonial golfer.It was there, at one of his final Masters, that I had my only Seve "enocounter," if you want call it that.
I don’t recall the story I was working on that
day; all I remember is that I was trying to get a quote from every big-name
player I could as they made their way from the Augusta National clubhouse to the first tee or the practice putting
green, a distance of about 50 yards.
Getting quotes from players can be a dicey
business, depending on the player (jerk or not a jerk?), the question (can you
tell me about that triple-bogey?), whether they are late and so on and so
forth.Getting blown off by a guy
who never breaks stride or pretends not to hear your question is not uncommon.
What I remember about that particular day is
that I was not having much luck.I
had a few weak quotes in my notebook and a deadline that was looming.I was starting to get a little
Suddenly, there was Seve coming out of the locker
room, headed in my general direction.As always, Seve
had that air about him, that dignity, that look of purpose and he oozed that charisma
that made him popular with other players and especially with the ladies.
I made my move. "Seve," I said, practically blocking his
path."Got a second?"
He stopped, looked me in the eye and listened
as I asked my question.For a
moment, he said nothing, just looked at me.I thought to myself, oh, great, he’s about
to blow me off.But Seve surprised
"Walk with me," he said."I’m going to putt."
We walked together from the locker room, across
the back lawn of the Augusta National
clubhouse, through the thicket of patrons, all the way to the putting green,
talking every step of the way.When
we reached the practice putting green, Seve paused again, speaking for another minute or two,
completing his thoughts and filling my notebook in the process.
When he was finished, I thanked him. He smiled
and nodded and ducked under the ropes to go putt.
I had what I needed.Elated, I hustled off to the media
center.I remember thinking, What a
gentleman, what a class act.
With the demise of two
publications that used to list charity golf events in the region, MyPhillyGolf is trying to do what we
can to fill that void.If you look
down the left rail of our home page, you will see a link called Charity Event
Nothing would make us feel
more valuable and useful than to fill that page with a long list events from
around the region.All you need is
a charity event and a webpage we can link to.It’s free, no charge.
If you are running a charity
golf event, or you know a friend or a colleague with a charity event to
promote, please alert to our Charity Event