Tom Fazio: Golf’s Hero or Heel?

Tom Fazio has gained notariety for his golf course designs, just how good are they?

Riviera Country Club 15th HoleThe golfing public seems quite divided over course architect Tom Fazio. Some adore his layouts while others despise his designs. There is no doubt Fazio has tremendous exposure from some high profile clients. Fazio “Tiger Proofed” Augusta National in 2002, he redesigned Riviera Country Club, and he has built several acclaimed courses throughout the country. So why the controversy over Fazio’s projects? Let’s look at Augusta National and Riviera’s redesigns to find out.

Riviera Rain: Round One of the Nissan

Four players didn’t finish round one, and Tiger Woods three putted three times. Brian Davis leads, but Tiger and two-time defending champ Mike Weir are close.

Riviera Country ClubBrian Davis is an unlikely leader after the first round of the Nissan Open, but then again, the first round isn’t quite over yet. Davis, a 2004 Q-School graduate, fired a 6-under 65 to take the early lead at rain-soaked Riviera Country Club.

One back, Luke Donald and Darren Clarke, who recorded a “1” on his scorecard at the “bunker-in-the-green” 6th. Donald bogeyed his last after his drive found a divot and his approach a greenside bunker. Brett Quigley, who’s having a good year so far, also fired a 66.

Stirring Up the LPGA

Where are the Tigers and Phils of the LPGA? I like golf, but the LPGA is boring.

LPGAThe United States Team turned in a disappointing final round of 80 in the Women’s World Cup this past weekend. Young phenom, 19-year-old Ai Miyazato, shot a 6-under 67 to capture the title. The only other sub-par round on Sunday came from Lorena Ochoa of Mexico.

The US finished 14th, with superstars Meg Mallon and Beth Daniel scoring a 78 and 80 respectively. This particular venue is interesting in that the first round was best ball, the second round was alternate shot, and the final round was stroke play with both women’s scores counting toward the total score. The first round allowed the field the lowest scores with many scores below par 73.

So, why am I feeling disillusioned with the LPGA Tour?

Big Break III Episode 1: Tasha Tossed

Tasha Browner can’t stand the heat and is promptly booted out of the kitchen after blading a pitch.

Big Break IIIThe women of Big Break III spent last week being wined, dined, and flown, boated, and trucked across the country, from Orlando, FL to Williamsburg, VA.

In this week’s show, the glitz and glamour came to an end: someone was going home.

Women in the British Open?

Women are technically allowed to play in every men’s major except one: The British Open. But change is afoot…

Royal And AncientThe R&A is considering letting women play in the British Open. Pete Dawson, chief executive of the Royal and Ancient Club responsible for the staging of “the Open,” is in favor of amending the rules to more closely match those seen in the American majors.

The current rules state that the tournament is open to “any male professional or from a male amateur golfer whose playing handicap does not exceed scratch.” The possible change is simple: remove the word “male.”

2005 Nissan Open Preview

Tiger has a chance to regain his #1 status in the world over a resting Vijay Singh. Can lefty dominance keep him from winning his second this year?

Nissan OpenIf you’re not a southpaw, you run the risk of getting left behind in Los Angeles this week. That’s no left-handed compliment to port-siders Phil Mickelson and Mike Weir: it’s simply the state of the PGA Tour. Mickelson has dominated the last two events, outlasting a charging Mike Weir last week at Pebble Beach. Phil’s taking this week off, but Weir will be at Riviera Country Club trying for his third consecutive Nissan Open title. And let’s not forget that the fashionably left-handed Mickelson and Weir are the winners of the last two Masters Tournaments.

Will Weir defend at the Nissan? Is this Steve Flesch’s week to get in on the lefty love?

Sorenstam Bogeys Marriage, Files for Divorce

Annika Sorenstam is filing for divorce from her husband of eight years, David Esch. So much for retiring early to raise a family…

SorenstamAP news sources are reporting that LPGA superstar Annika Sorenstam has filed for divorce from David Esch, her husband of eight years.

“I want to confirm that I have filed for divorce,” Sorenstam said in a statement. “We are working toward an amicable resolution and we appreciate the media’s respect for our privacy. I wish David nothing but the best for the future.” In other words, bug off.

The divorce was filed February 4 in Circuit Court of Orange County. The suit is sealed and no other information is available.

Sorenstam, who has talked in the past about retiring early to start a family, is at this moment formulating a new plan. Will she stay on tour long enough to break Kathy Whitworth’s record of 88 career LPGA victories? We don’t know. Annika currently has 56.

Said David Esch about Annika, “that’s the problem with driven women… sometimes they drive right over you.” Okay, so he didn’t really say that. But it would have been funny if he had. More at

Photo Credit: © Unknown

Staying Power: How Titleist Stays on Top

Titleist is like Wal-Mart… without the low low prices. Think another ball maker can ever challenge Titleist’s crown? Think again.

TitleistThe golf equipment business is competitive and cutthroat. Take a look at the leaders in woods and irons over the last few decades. The dominant brands of the 1950s and 60s were MacGregor and Wilson, who were usurped in the 70s and 80s by Ping and Tommy Armour. Then came the boom of Big Bertha in the early 1990s, which catapulted Callaway to the top for a decade. Now TaylorMade stands poised to take the title of top woods and irons brand from Callaway.

But through all those changes over the years, there’s essentially been one ball on top: Titleist. No other brand comes close at retail or on tour. How long can they keep it up?

Curtis Strange, PGA Tour Great, Joins the Champions Tour

As Curtis Strange makes his Champions Tour debut this weekend, we should all take a moment to remember what a great player he was in his prime.

curtis_strange_1989_usopen.jpgThis weekend, Curtis Strange will make his Champions Tour debut at the ACE Group Classic in Naples, Florida.

Those very new to golf may wonder who Curtis Strange is. In fact, one’s view of Strange probably depends upon how long you have been following golf. If you’ve been following the game for a few years, you probably view him as the lead analyst on ABC golf coverage (Strange filled that role from 1997 to 2004) or as just another losing Ryder Cup captain (2002).

If you’ve been following golf for about a decade, then you may remember Curtis Strange as the player that played a large role in the United States’ 1995 Ryder Cup loss (Strange was a controversial captain’s pick by fellow Virginian and Wake Forest alum Lanny Wadkins).

And finally, if you’ve been following golf for much longer, then you probably remember Strange as the best player on the PGA Tour, if not the world, in the mid- to late-1980s, a player full of fire and determination.