Monday, March 02, 2009

Quail Hollow cutbacks: Caddies still get valet

Now that we’re all snowed out of golf around here for a while, here’s a Monday morning look at what’s happening in the game. We’ll call it the Front Nine.

1. The West Coast Verdict

So what did we learn during the PGA Tour’s West Coast swing?

We learned that Geoff Ogilvy (above) will be on the short list of pre-tournament favorites at the Masters, Phil Mickelson is as perplexing as ever and Kenny Perry isn’t about to retire.

Despite winning a U.S. Open and two previous World Golf Championship events, Ogilvy has managed to operate just outside the glare of the spotlight. No more.

Ogilvy doesn’t scare and has a game that, while not spectacular-looking, seemingly has no weaknesses. When the subject turns to the game’s best players, he’s one of the subjects.

Mickelson’s west coast performance was schizophrenic, even in his victory in Los Angeles, a pattern that will likely continue.

Otherwise, the west coast swing felt like it usually does – nice to look at from afar while feeling it’s a prelude to bigger moments soon to come.

2. It’s Like Daytona, Only Different

If there’s a problem with the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship it’s that the best day is often the first day.

That’s when there are 32 matches and all the stars are there. The very nature of the event means culling the field, which means cutting out stars as it moves along.

NASCAR starts its season with its biggest race and, unless the Match Play gets Tiger against Phil or Sergio against Padraig Harrington in the finals, it’s difficult to maintain the excitement of the first day throughout the week.

3. Next Time, He’ll Stay Longer

Tiger Woods’ return to the PGA Tour lasted two days – 32 holes to be precise – and felt like a disappointment because he was expected to show up like Superman, win the tournament, save the tour, solve the financial crisis, bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan.

Or something like that.

Woods didn’t win but he left feeling encouraged about his game, understanding he has to knock a little competitive rust off. He’ll play at Doral in two weeks then at Bay Hill but his eyes are focused on the Masters.

Nice to have him back.

4. She’s Still The Man

In case you missed it – which can happen the way the LPGA’s international schedule is – Lorena Ochoa won her first event of the year in Thailand, running down back-pedaling Paula Creamer.
So, nothing has really changed – except Ochoa is engaged to be married. And we all know what marriage did to Tiger’s game.

5. Caddies Will Still Get Valet Parking

The name change of Charlotte’s PGA Tour event – to the Quail Hollow Championship from the Wachovia Championship – means a rush for organizers to change logos and signs before the event arrives in late April but it doesn’t mean the experience will change.

The top players are still going to come (Tiger won’t say yes or no until much closer to tournament time), the course will be superb and the special touches won’t suffer.

Will things be scaled back in places? Absolutely.

Private dinners for big clients with tour players as guest speakers will probably go away as will other corporate-related entertainment events.

But the golf tournament will be just fine.

6. The Miracle Worker

If you get the chance, check out the first episode of ‘The Haney Project, Charles Barkley’ tonight on The Golf Channel if for nothing else than to hear Haney describe a typical practice day for Tiger.

It’ll make you feel bad about feeling good that you hit two bags of balls on the range last week.

7. The Shark’s Suggestion

Greg Norman was quoted recently saying the PGA Tour should roll back prize money by up to 20 percent in light of the on-going financial crisis.

Of course, it didn’t take long for someone to wonder if Norman planned to cut the price of his clothes and wine by 20 percent.

There’s merit to what Norman said, though. Given the PGA Tour’s commitment to charity, it would be a nice move to take 20 percent of the purse money and give it to charity.

It would do two things – help the perception of the tour and help the charities.

8. The No-Bailout Classic

The tour comes east now, starting the Florida swing at the Honda Classic where the talk may center on how to putt Bermuda greens rather than the use of bailout money.

Two players worth keeping an eye on this week – Tadd Fujikawa and heart transplant recipient Erik Compton.

9. The Last Word

“To the airport.” – Tiger Woods, when asked where he was going after losing to Tim Clark.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

TIGER WOODS WILL NOT PLAY IN THE QUAIL HOLLOW CHAMPIONSHIP. MARK MY WORDS. ONE GOOD THING, THE AVERAGE GOLF FAN WILL NOT CARE. THE JOHNNY COME LATELY'S WEARING THIER FUBU WILL MISS TIGER.

Anonymous said...

While all you Tiger worshipers fret over if and when and where Tiger will appear, the rest of us will do the usual watching tv and changing channels if there is nothing worth watching is concerned. One of the most disgusting things that I saw on the Golf Channel last week was the absolute overkill concerning Tiger Woods teeing off on the first hole. The announcers were almost to the point of passing out from excitement at just the thought of having Tiger back so they could go through all of their prepared scripts of past victories and lifetime accomplishments. Poor things did have a letdown when Tig lost his second round.
No one, not even Tig, is bigger than the game of golf. Maybe to the writers and tv announcers he is but the world will go on if Tig doesn't play next week.

Anonymous said...

TIGER WOODS WILL NOT PLAY IN THE QUAIL HOLLOW CHAMPIONSHIP

I bet your wrong. From his point of view, he's defending champ.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous your FUBU comment is almost racist. Where do you get off with htose kind of statements. Is golf your sport? Is it not good for golf to have newcomers interested. Yes my tee times are a little harder to get than they were when I started 30 years ago, but i am all for others enjoying one of lifes great pastimes. All you Tiger haters are ridiculous, he's a great asset to the sport. If you feel the need to bash go find Colin Montogomerie, he hates America. Lay off Tiger.
We know what you meant when you said FUBU, it was hate based.

Anonymous said...

One mans racism is another mans affirmative action. Or should I wait and post these comments in White History Month.

Rob Turner said...

When someone with two Majors, 87 international titles, a large business empire and a wealth of experience on his CV chooses to air his views, surely we must consider it as voice of reason, right?

The PGA Tour plays for 5.8 million dollars, week in and week out, and that is the kind of money that leaves the sponsor shivering in his boots. People often make the mistake of assuming that the prize money is the only thing that the sponsors spend on in a tournament. They forget to take into account the various other areas where the sponsor has to compulsorily shell out money, which ensures that expenditure heads northwards. To maintain such a high prize purse each week becomes quite a task and I don’t think Norman is off the mark when he says that the powers that be must seriously consider rolling back the prize money.

There is also a general feeling that the prize money on the PGA Tour is inflated and it can be attributed to a player who has changed the way people perceive the sport. In Tiger’s absence people felt the pinch. In share market terms, a course correction is due because in this embattled economic environment it would be impossible to continue shelling out that kind of money. Even the great man, golf’s own version of a knight in shining armour, cannot do anything to save the day. Norman suggests the players must answer the call of their conscience. I don’t think the players have much of a role to play anyway. The sponsors will take the steps on their own and I feel the authorities can do nothing to prevent it.