GOLF CHRONICLES
Tiger at Aronimink 
 
 
A Tiger press conference ainít what it used to be
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
By Joe Logan

I’ll tell you what, sitting through a Tiger Woods press conference isn’t what it used to be.

 

Back in his heyday, the media would assemble early, because seats in Tiger’s audience were at a premium, even at those big-tent major championships.  A back door to the media center would open and in Tiger would sweep, trailed by an entourage worthy of a hip-hop mogul: agents, swing coaches, family, friends, security and at least a couple of people whose purpose and connection were anybody’s guess.

 

Tiger would take his place at the head table and face the media like the royal family looking out from that balcony at Will and Kate’s wedding.  When stirrings in the room settled down, his agent, Mark Steinberg, over in the corner, would offer a slight nod to the interview moderator as a signal to commence.

 

No matter what the event – the U.S. Open, the PGA Championship or some lesser event that he was gracing with his presence – it was merely the stage for Tiger’s superhuman heroics.  Even at Ryder Cups, where Tiger would file in with his teammates, it will still pretty much about him.  We knew that.  He knew that.  It was Tiger’s world and we were just living in it, watching in awe, grateful for a seat.

 

Once the press conference began, Tiger would make an opening statement but he never said anything...Blah, blah, blah. 

 

Even when the floor was opened to questions, Tiger never said anything provocative or revealing.  But he was so smooth in saying nothing, you didn’t much notice until you sat down at your laptop and started going over your notes.  Is there one usable quote here?

 

But it was okay, because Tiger had that aura of invincibility, that ability to leave us shaking our heads in amazement.  He did his talking with his golf clubs.  That gave you all the material you needed.  

 

Cut to now.

 

At Aronimink, Tiger didn’t so much sweep into the press conference as he limped in the side door.  The entourage is smaller, down to agent Mark Steinberg, who recently got axed from IMG; and Tiger’s spokesman, Glenn Greenspan, who left Augusta National for this job shortly before the Tiger Apocalypse.

 

Tiger press conferences are few and far between these days, and the audiences are smaller.  Some of it has to do with the shrinking of the media due to the economy.  More of it has to do with Tiger’s downfall, his disgrace, his loss of popularity – and, of course, with the fact that he is not winning and not even playing.

 

The first question at Aronimink was about when he would return to competitive golf.  The British Open in two weeks?

 

Tiger didn’t know.  Last time, he came back too soon and he ended up quitting after nine holes at the Players Championship.  This time, he is taking no chances, taking his doctors’ advice, setting no timetables.  He’ll come back when he’s ready and no sooner, whenever that turns out to be.

 

He still tries to look and talk and project like the Tiger of old, but it’s not working.  Very unconvincing.  It’s as if the air has gone out of him.  He seems sapped, scared.  There was something approaching sadness in the room, like a funeral.

 

As I sat there, I couldn’t help but think the whole thing would be more interesting and more productive if Tiger had had to answer the "thought bubble" questions hanging over people’s heads, not the questions they actually asked.

 

Say, Tiger, did you see that latest poll where a majority of golf fans think your career is toast?

 

Does it bother you knowing that every 20-something on Tour these days thinks he can kick your ass?

 

One of the financial magazines says you’re still making $70 million a year in endorsements.  I don’t see it.  Other than Nike and EA, who is left?

 

Ah, do you ever lie in bed at night and ask yourself, "How did I manage to screw up my life this bad?"

 

A couple of hours before Tiger’s press conference, I bumped into a powerful agent who represents several top players.  Quickly, the talk turned to Tiger.  We shook our heads, neither of us able to believe the gory details of one of the most spectacular downfalls in the history of sports.

 

"The thing is, I don’t think Tiger or Mark (Steinberg) understands how much the world has changed since he hit that fire hydrant," said the agent. "I don’t think they get it.  But believe me, the world has changed."

 

It has, and it’s a shame for Tiger, for golf and for golf fans.


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Needless worrying by nameless Tour pro
Friday, June 24, 2011
By Joe Logan

I try to keep MyPhillyGolf free of politics.  With all the mind-numbing debate and name-calling that goes on between liberals and conservatives in the country these days, I figure this website ought to be one place where you can take refuge.  You come here for golf, not politics.

 

But then somebody emailed me a link to this column on Townhall.com, a conservative website.  Geez.

 

It didn’t come as news to me that most of the guys on the PGA Tour are conservative.  Talk to one of them for five minutes and you’re likely to hear the gospel according to Rush Lumbaugh or Sean Hannity.

 

Even the Tour pros who grew up cushy, living the country club life in the suburbs, tend to see themselves as lone wolves, survivors, guys who eat only what they kill, metaphorically speaking. Unlike most other pro sports, Tour pros don’t get signing bonuses or no-cut contracts.

 

Still, I was a little surprised to read that the comments of the unnamed pro quoted in this column.  He worries that Golf Channel is going to be influenced, infiltrated, infected by he sees as the too-liberal mothership, NBC.

 

Here’s columnist Douglas MacKinnon quoting an unnamed Tour pro:

 

"I will speak for myself here. As a conservative, one of the things that has most bothered me is The Golf Channel partnering with ultraliberal NBC. CNBC is dominated by the liberal agenda, MSNBC is the liberal agenda and the NBC-controlled Weather Channel is driven by the religion of global warming and believes in smearing all who don't bow down to the 'settled science' of global warming. And now The Golf Channel is being big-footed by those with a liberal agenda, and no one seems to care.

"So now professional golf, where at least a majority of the U.S. players still believe in traditional values, is falling under the same control of the far left much like the entertainment world, the mainstream media and our colleges and universities. It's a disgrace, but many golfers are simply afraid to speak up.

The pro is not finished:

"Now The Golf Channel is using the NBC-employed or -approved likes of Jimmy Roberts, John Feinstein or Tim Rosafortenonathletes that many of us believe have a liberal agenda or openly espouse their liberal beliefs or allegiance to the Democratic party."

Okay, I have no idea what Jimmy Roberts’ politics are, and I don’t think anybody else does either, at least not from watching what he does and says on NBC and Golf Channel. 

As for John Feinstein and Tim Rosaforte, if the unnamed Tour pro doesn’t like them, don’t blame NBC. Both were working for Golf Channel long before Comcast, which already owned Golf Channel, bought NBC and joined them at the hip.

I know Feinstein and Rosaforte and I can tell you that both of them are smart enough to know that viewers of Golf Channel, like visitors to MyPhillyGolf, aren’t tuning in for their personal takes on politics.

Smartest of all in that regard is Philadelphia’s own Brian Roberts, chairman of Comcast and therefore the boss of NBC and Golf Channel.  Word is, last Sunday, when NBC aired the package with the edited version of the Pledge of Allegiance, Roberts was not happy and he was quickly on the phone trying to find out who approved this bone-headed move.

I’m betting he found out.


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Acer3x[6/27/2011 3:25:16 PM]
"Traditional values?" How about "Freedom of speech?" If this conservative golfer doesnít like NBC,CNBC, MSNBC or even The Weather Channel, then donít watch them. Geez....The Golf Channel has already had that doofus Rush Limbaugh on Hank Haneyís show. Maybe Glenn Beck will be the next politico there. That should be fair and balanced enough for him.
Steve[6/24/2011 3:10:52 PM]
Even if the whiner were right about the liberal bias, surely there are worse things than being, Heaven forbid, liberal.

David Feherty 
Check out Feherty on Golf Channel
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
By Joe Logan

If you missed last night’s premier preview of Feherty on Golf Channel, you’ve got another chance to watch it tonight from 9-10 p.m., when it officially debuts.  It’s worth checking out.

 

For candid, insightful golf commentary, Brandel Chamblee has overtaken Johnny Miller in my book.  But when it comes to wit, humor and entertainment value, nobody on the scene today can touch David Feherty.

 

Except for the over-the-top intros that have the star acting and looking goofy, Feherty is the freshest thing on Golf Channel.  In the span of a half-hour, the CBS and Golf Channel analyst is funny, brutally candid, somber, loosey-goosey and reverential.

 

Most of the premier episode is devoted to Feherty interviewing and essentially kneeling at the alter of Lee Trevino.  That’s okay, because Trevino is also an engaging character, with a great story to explore.  Besides, during his prime, Trevino never quite got the attention and respect he deserved, laboring in the shadows of Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and the still competitive Arnold Palmer.  Feherty readily admits that he is perhaps Trevino’s biggest fan.

 

For years, Feherty was clever but largely unseen foot soldier for CBS, spouting hilarious one-liners as he walked the fairways.  Then, out of the blue, the funnyman revealed that he had spent years hiding the fact that he was a drug addict, a barely functional alcoholic, not to mention fighting a losing battle to depression.   Those close to him surely knew, but not the rest of us.

 

We didn’t find out until after the fact, when Feherty sobered up, lost what must have been 40 pounds, grew a goatee that makes him look like a smiling Lucifer – and reintroduced himself as a more complicated and compelling figure.

 

These days, Feherty can still do goofball quite handily when he wants to, but he can turn on a dime, growing serious as he lays bare his demons to the point you feel awkward watching from the distance and safety of your easy chair.

 

When I heard the news that he was a reformed alcoholic, I immediately recalled one night several years ago at Masters.  Each year during Masters week, CBS rents a big house with a sprawling yard in the Augusta suburbs; one night of the tournament, they throw a party for the media, network types, golf officials and all manner of movers and shakers. 

 

One year, a small cluster of us writer types were out in the yard, sipping beers and shooting the bull, when Feherty walked up and joined the conversation.  He probably had a beer in his hand, I don’t recall, but he certainly didn’t appear to be drunk.

 

Then, for whatever reason, he launched into an story about a well-known player (not Tiger) that was so out-of-school and raunchy that it made a bunch of hardly prudish middle-aged sportswriters blanche.  I remember thinking the CBS brass would croak if they knew he was out working the party with stories like that. 

 

A couple of years later, when he went public with his problems, it all made sense.  Feherty must’ve been in the tank that night, even if he hid it well.

 

These days, Feherty is a different guy.  I’ve got to believe he has removed that story from his repertoire.  Today, he would shake his head at the embarrassment of it all.

 

Feherty was a far better golfer during his career than he lets on today – self-deprecation is part of his shtick; he’s a hell of a golf commentator now, and he’s a polished and funny writer.  He’s also got a weekly show of his own that will likely get better by the week.


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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.


 
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