PRESS PASS
Rickie Fowler 
 
Golf moves on
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
By Joe Logan

The longer Tiger Woods is missing in action, the less I miss him.  My curiosity about him, the condition of his leg/knee/Achilles, the state of his game and, of course, the timetable for if and when he ever returns, stir very little interest or me these days.

 

If he shows up again, okay.  If he doesn’t, that’s okay, too.

 

Meanwhile, golf moves on, and I am finding other people to watch and like.  I like this Rickie Fowler kid.  I hate his hat.  I hate the flat brim, and I hate the way he pulls it down over his ears and his goofy haircut.  I’m not crazy about those Kandy Kolored Kool-Aid Klothes he wears, either.  But, hey, Rickie could probably find a few nits to pick with in my golfing ensemble, too, so I suppose it’s a wash.

 

What I like about Rickie is that he is exciting to watch.   He’s got flare and style and he goes for broke, like Phil Mickelson at that age.  I also have to admit I was very wrong about Rickie.   At the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, when he was still a hot-shot college amateur, I stood behind Rickie on the range for 30 minutes watching him balls. I turned to my friend and said, "With that whippy, home-made swing, no way he makes on the PGA Tour.  Rickie hasn’t won yet, but Rickie appears to be making it.

 

I also like Rory McIlroy.  Gorgeous swing, hard-working, ambitious, humble.  Once he learns how to handle all the fame and success that is going to come his way, Rory McIlroy could easily settle in for a long run as No. 1 in the world.

 

Dustin Johnson I like watching but I cannot figure out him out.   He is perhaps the best athlete on the golfing scene today, and he kills it the ball.  Obviously, he has been at or near the top of the leaderboard at most every major for the past couple of years, biding him time for his big breakthrough.

 

But I don’t know what to make of that almost vacant-look on Dustin Johnson’s face so much of the time.  I wonder what he is thinking, if he is thinking.  I’ve sat through three or four of his press conferences and I come away yearning for some of the intelligence and sophistication you hear from the Australian players, like Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy.

 

I don’t know who is going to winner a major sooner, Dustin Johnson or Jason Day.  My money is on Day.

 

It’s good to see Matt Kuchar finally coming into his own, after a major swing change a couple of years ago.  It’s also good to see Steve Stricker, who is one of the most earnest guys on the planet, become one of the top players in the world.  I never would have guessed Stricker had it in him.

 

If you didn’t smile when Darren Clarke won the British Open, then you haven’t followed golf or you haven’t been following Darren Clarke.

 

I’m also rooting for Phil Mickelson to remain competitive and maybe win another major, preferably a fourth Masters.

 

John Daly?  I lost interest.

 

If Tiger ever returns and starts to mount some kind of career comeback, I might even find it in my heart to pull for him.  It would help if he would stop acting like a complete ass.


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SteveMG[8/4/2011 8:05:45 PM]
I would still root for Tiger Woods to get it back. The PGA Tour is more fun with him around. There may be a few hot players right now, but McIlroy is the only one with legs. It seems like every week the commentators of the Golf Channel are touting this weekís winner as the guy about to break through and contend in every major. It seems to me that the last few years, most of the major winners are guys that leapfrogged the "best contenders". (McDowell and Kaymer wouldnít fit that description, but they are mostly European players, not PGA Tour players). When I would look at a typical leaderboard, there arenít that many players I really care about. Take a look at the WGC leaderboard. Of the first couple dozen names, there arenít that many I really can get into. Some good guys, Iím sure, but does it really matter whether Jason Day or Adam Scott win? Adam Scott won The Playersí a couple years ago. Didnít make him a more compelling player one bit. Stewart Cink (cheater) won (I mean Tom Watson lost) the British Open 2 years ago. Yawn. Y.E. Yang took down Tiger (though now we know that Tiger was unravelling). Since then, anything?
acer3x[8/4/2011 9:15:03 AM]
The WGC event at Firestone is on TGC today at 1:30pm. Strangely enough, TWís tee time today is at 1:40pm.
Ben M.[7/28/2011 6:59:06 AM]
I am so over Tiger.
Ben DíAntonio[7/28/2011 6:17:33 AM]
Feeling the same way about Tiger. Never thought it would come to that but it has. Iím even using non Nike products which in the past was tantamount to sacriligeous. Unfortunately, for me, no one has stepped up in both game and wardrobe.

Aronimink board room 
It happened at Aronimink
Thursday, July 21, 2011
By Joe Logan

The AT&T National might be gone from Aronimink GC, but never let it be said that important developments in the life of Tiger Woods didn’t take place on the premises.

 

We learned after the fact that in 2010, the first of the two years Aronimink hosted the AT&T, Tiger finalized the divorce agreement from ex-wife Elin from his cell phone, supposedly in the Aronimink locker room.

 

Now, in the wake of Tiger axing long-time, loyal looper Steve Williams, we learn that the actual face-to-face firing took place in the board room at Aronimink after the final round of the 2011 AT&T.

 

Perhaps a couple of it-happened-here plaques are in order.


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My old pull cart 
Ode to a pull cart
Monday, July 18, 2011
By Joe Logan

I was cleaning out the basement late Sunday afternoon as I pondered what I might write about the British Open and Darren Clarke’s heartwarming and long-overdue victory, when I made a pleasant and unexpected discovery.  Back in the corner, under a pile of junk, I came across my old pull cart.

 

When was the last time I saw this thing, let alone used it?

 

My immediate reaction was to set it aside for the trash truck on Monday morning, which I did.  But as I returned to my cleaning and rummaging, I kept thinking of the history this old cart and I have together. 

 

It’s old and creaky and layered with crud.  But when I stretched out its legs and extended its arm, I could see there was still life in the old pull cart.  A touch of arthritis, maybe, but no serious sprains or broken bones.  A cleaning rag here, a drop of oil there, and it would be practically as good as new.  When I laid my son’s golf bag into its waiting arms and gave it a whirl around the basement, I realized there was no way I was parting with this valued relic from my golfing past.

 

I say it is mine, because it has been for the past 40-plus years.  Originally, it was my late father’s.  He passed it on to me when I was in high school and he got a new one for himself. 

 

My father was a firm believer in pull carts.  He loved golf, and he played with a passion until he was almost 90. But to him, the game was as much about the walk and the exercise as it was about hitting the ball – he walked briskly and with a purpose.  In all our rounds together, I saw him ride in a cart maybe a half-dozen times, and it was always at some fancy resort or vacation spot where carts were mandatory.  He endured it like he was wearing a hair shirt.

 

I didn’t quite inherit my father’s insistence on walking, although I did put thousands more miles on that pull cart.  Why I have hung onto it for all these years, through six states and 20 or more moves, I can’t say.  Truth is, I wasn’t even aware I still had it. 

 

Sad to say, but I rarely see a pull cart these days.  Most courses want the revenue from the carts.  And young golfers, if they walk, prefer to sling one of those new ultra-lite bags over their shoulder.  Who can blame them?  Those bags are way cooler than a pull cart.

 

It’s different in the UK.  In all the golf I’ve played in Scotland, England and Ireland, I can recall riding in a cart no more than three or four times, usually at an Americanized resort such as the K Club.  Many courses over there don’t even have riding carts.  Golf is a walking game over there, and more than likely with a pull cart, or "trolley," as they call them.

 

I’m glad I found my old pull cart.  I intend to nurse it back to health with a cleaning and some oil, then take it for a spin.  Like in the old days, I’ve got a feeling my old cart and I are going to be spending a few late afternoons together.


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Dave C.[7/20/2011 3:07:16 PM]
I am a member of a club where pull carts are allowed in the late afternoon. That works for me because I like to play 9 holes after work. I never ride. I always walk with my pull cart. It is the best way to play golf. As far as I am concerned, it is the only way to play golf.
Joe Logan[7/19/2011 8:18:12 AM]
Acer3X, thatís what they do in the UK. Outside the golf shop, there is a fleet of trolleys, owned by the club/course, that rent for a pound or so.
Acer3x[7/19/2011 5:35:41 AM]
The use of pull/push carts at private clubs is limited to those clubs that really donít what care others think- Merion West & Sunnybrook come to mind. Iím sure there are others in the area that allow them.Other clubs that allow walkers want them to carry their own bag if no caddies are available because of the "image problem"- that is that pull/push carts present a public course image. Why not have a uniform fleet and charge a modest rental fee to use them as Merion does at their West course?
Eleanor Thompson[7/18/2011 11:25:15 AM]
Daddy would be proud that you kept it. I think the biggest fight I ever saw our parents have was over his refusal to rent a golf cart for them to ride and play in a Scotch foursome. He was serious about his walking, but then, maybe thatís why he lived to be almost 93.

Joe Bausch, chemistry professor/photographer 
Bausch Collection adds three courses
Saturday, July 2, 2011
By Joe Logan

Just a heads-up that three new courses have been added to the Bausch Collection of course photo galleries: Applecross CC, Bellewood GC and Plymouth CC.  Skippack GC is not far behind.

 

If you are new to MyPhillyGolf or need a refresher on what the Bausch Collection is and who is behind it, here is a blog I wrote some months ago on Joe Bausch, introducing the him and his photos.

 

Enjoy the new course galleries.


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Andres Romero 
Another day at the golfing office
Thursday, June 30, 2011
By Joe Logan

I was out walking the course at the AT&T National on Thursday when I happened to witness up close one of those shots that serves a reminder as to why I type for living and those guys inside the ropes play golf for a living.

 

Technically, I suppose, Andres Romeo was outside the ropes when he hit the shot in question, which is why I and a few others were so close. But you get my point.

 

It happened at the 18th at Aronimink, a 436-yard uphill par 4, where Romeo had hit his tee ball 296 yards, according to ShotLink.  But he had sprayed it to the right, and it come to rest in the trampled, light rough between the 18th and the adjoining 9th fairways.  Romeo, an Argentinian with one win on Tour, had 156 yards to the hole, and he was hemmed in by trees, plus there was a bunker in the distance to negotiate.

 

I’m no PGA Tour pro, but I’m a not half-bad amateur, and over the years I have watched my share of PGA Tour pros hit roughly a million golf shots in all kinds of situations.  So I feel like I have a pretty decent feel for what they can do, as opposed to I (and most amateurs), can do in these situations.

 

To me, standing five feet from the ball, Romeo’s options appeared limited.  Trying to go for the green by hitting the ball up and over the trees was out of the question.  The trees were way too close and too tall.  Tiger in his heyday, at his best, could not have hit that ball over those trees.

 

I also quickly dismissed the likelihood that Romero would try to thread the needle of trees in the distance.  For one thing, they were too far off, and they were too close together.

 

(Don’t be fooled by the accompanying photo.  I shot it with a telephoto lens, which makes the trees appear closer than they really were.)

 

In my judgment, the only high-percentage chance for Romero to save par was to take his medicine and pitch back to the fairway to the left, at a 45-degree angle, leaving him maybe 50 yards to the green.  From there, he would have a decent chance of getting up-and-down for par, or at least avoiding double-bogey.

 

If I or most amateurs I know were to attempt some kind of hero shot from where his ball lay, the outcome would likely be one lf the following:

 

(1) Bounce it off one of those trees, sending it careening to the right, into the 18th fairway

 

(2) Hit it too high, straight into the trees, whereupon the ball would drop straight down, most likely behind a tree trunk

 

(3) If I tried to thread the needle, in the unlikely event that I kept it between the tree trunks and beneath the canopy of limbs and leaves, I would have hit it directly into the bunker, which is 20 or 30 yards short of the green. No way I could hit a frozen-rope shot 125 yards, eight feet off the ground.

 

As Romeo and his caddie talked among themselves, it was clear from where they were looking that my recommended safe play was not on their radar screen.  At first, I thought Romeo was considering playing it out to the right, up the 18th fairway, which didn’t make much sense to me.  But no, as he settled in over the ball, it became clear he was going for broke – he was going to try to thread the needle of trees.

 

This should be good, I thought.  Or bad.  I gave him a 5- or 10-percent chance of pulling it off.

 

Romero had what appeared to be a 7- or 8-iron, and he hit a kind of punch shot.  It only it took off like a rocket, low, beneath the trees, and it was bending from right to left.

 

To my amazement, the ball split the trees perfectly, and it had the oomph to clear the bunker in the distance; when it hit the ground, it took off running, coming to rest in the rough behind the green.

 

I was stunned.  So were the guys watching with me.  Did he just do that?  There was zero chance I or any of us could have hit that shot. I would never even have attempted it.  Plenty of Tour pros wouldn’t have chanced that shot. Yet, Romero shrugged at the result, as if it came off exactly as he expected.

 

From there, he pitched to within six feet of the hole and sank the putt to save par.

 

I watched in awe.


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The Muni Golfer[7/3/2011 2:39:33 PM]
Like the PGA Tour slogan says, "These guys ARE good!" I was there on Saturday and you really donít get the perception of how easy they make it look watching on TV.

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.


 
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