GOLF CHRONICLES
Rory McIlroy Photo: John Mummert, USGA 
 
 
Careful with those expectations of Rory
Monday, June 20, 2011
By Joe Logan

Watching Rory McIlroy rewrite the U.S. Open record book and establish himself as the new darling of golf, it was hard not to wonder whether Tiger Woods was watching.

 

Was Tiger at home, lying on the couch, with his bum leg elevated, staring into some 70-inch plasma high-def, knowing that millions of his old fans have found a new fave – a likeable young fresh face, not unlike Tiger in 1997, when he blew minds as he blew away the field in the Masters by 12 shots?

 

Was Tiger lying there gnashing his teeth, aching for the moment when he is healthy again and able to get back out there to re-establish himself as the king of the golfing jungle?

 

Or was he sweating bullets.  He’s 35 now, not the kid he once was, not the same guy that used to cast the long shadow as he strode to the first tee.  With McIlroy’s herculean victory at Congressional, all four major championship trophies are now held by 20-somethings.  Rory McIlroy was 8 when Tiger won the ’97 Masters; Jason Day, the other superstar aborning, was 9. 

 

But as the day wore on and Johnny Miller and the NBC team hailed McIlroy’s amazing performance at Congressional, my curiosity about Tiger was eventually supplanted by concern that the media is already hailing this kid is the new Tiger.

 

McIlroy is obviously a big, big talent, and a terrific and humble young man with a very bright future, but he has won exactly one major.  He hasn’t lost sight of that and neither should we.  Let’s not saddle him with impossible expectations.  Let’s not set him up for failure, if he doesn’t begin winning majors at the rate of a young Tiger.

 

The next major is the British Open, in July.  You don’t have to be a genius to know what the story line will be:  Can this budding superstar deliver again?  Is he as good as we thought? If Tiger is in the field, the British Open will be billed as a showdown between the old star and the new kid on the block – i.e. Old Tiger vs. New Tiger.

 

For the media, the temptation is impossible to resist.  They need a story to tell.  Let’s just hope McIlroy doesn’t turn out to be collateral damage.


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The Muni Golfer[6/21/2011 7:53:34 AM]
This is certainly nothing new. How many young golfers who won majors or big tournaments in the early 1980s were dubbed "The Next Nicklaus"? Hal Sutton and Jeff Sluman come to mind. Both had nice careers, but fell far short of expectations. I agree with you Joe, letís let Rory be Rory...

Michael Tobiasion Jr. Photo: USGA/John Mummert 
A tip of visor for Tobiason
Thursday, June 16, 2011
By Joe Logan

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.

 

When Tobiason, 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 thing. 

 

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.


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Sanity prevails at USGA
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
By Joe Logan

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.

 

When Tobiason, 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 thing. 

 

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.


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Fredrik Jacobson 
All routine, no game
Sunday, June 5, 2011
By Joe Logan

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 Player.

 

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 TV."


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Tom[6/12/2011 9:05:43 AM]
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.
Steve[6/6/2011 5:20:01 AM]
My father always said that if you canít play well, dress well.
Tim[6/6/2011 5:10:33 AM]
It was entertainment!
SteveMG[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.
fran21356[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.

Phil Mickelson 
What does Phil Mickelson still have in the tank?
Thursday, June 2, 2011
By Joe Logan

Every now and then, something happens in golf that makes you wonder, what is wrong with this picture?  One of those things just happened.

 

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 even close.

 

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 Wentworth.

 

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 time.


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Tiger and Mark Steinberg 
What to make of Steinbergís exit from IMG
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
By Joe Logan

There is a chance I am reading too much into it but the fact that IMG has effectively squeezed out Tiger’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 goods.

 

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 him gone. 

 

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."

 

When Tiger’s 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 more.


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Steve[5/25/2011 9:13:49 PM]
TW canít even get a sponsor for his bag. He dropped his price from 8M to 5M and still no takers.

A worthwhile charity pro-am
Friday, May 13, 2011
By Joe Logan

If you don’t mind, please indulge me for a moment as I promote a very worthwhile charity pro-am of which I happen to be the honorary chairman.

 

It’s called the 2011 Tournament of Champions and it’s being conducted by the Lower Bucks County chapter of the American Red Cross on May 24 at Makefield Highlands GC in Yardley.

 

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 impressive.

 

I hope to see you at Makefield Highlands on May 24.


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