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Carolyn Bivens, Courageously Running LPGA Into the Ground

Jun. 22, 2006     By     Comments (13)

Carolyn BivensCarolyn Vesper Bivens has been at the helm of the LPGA Tour for less than one year, and I am hopeful that she won't last long enough to blow out the candles on a second anniversary cake.

Bivens' task was perhaps one of the easiest facing any sports commissioner to date: sell the LPGA Tour to the sponsors, the media, and the fans. She's failed miserably on all accounts.

Her failure comes at a time when the LPGA Tour might not be easier to sell. Annika Sorenstam still dominates, but youthful, energetic, and attractive gals named Paula Creamer, Lorena Ochoa, Morgan Pressel, Michelle Wie, Cristie Kerr, Natalie Gulbis, and Christina Kim have suddenly come about. Se Ri Pak and Karrie Webb have even returned to form this year, taking the first two majors of the year.

Final Round of the 2006 U.S. Open

Jun. 18, 2006     By     Comments (18)

Geoff Ogilvy7:27 - Johnny Miller: "I've never seen such a finish in championship golf."

7:11 - Phil plays the last two holes at the U.S. Open +3 to lose to 29-year-old Geoff Ogilvy.

7:07 - Phil runs his ball into the thick greenside rough from the bunker. I think I've seen a lot of miracles in my day, but holing out here may just top them all. It would top Tiger's 16th-hole chip-in at the 2005 Masters. Barring this miracle, Geoff Ogilvy is the 2006 U.S. Open Champion.

7:05 - Johnny Miller: "Man, he [Phil] got a couple bad breaks on the lies, didn't he?" Uhhmmm, no??? Only the two bunker shots in the last two holes.

7:03 - Phil hits his third shot into the greenside bunker. Par is virtually out of the question now. He has to get up and down to get into a playoff or Geoff Ogilvy will win the 2006 U.S. open. Johnny Miller again: "just crazy shot selection."

Promise Meets Reality: Michelle Wie Fails in Open Bid

Jun. 6, 2006     By     Comments (5)

In what is sure to go down as one of the most over-reported, over-hyped, and over-analyzed golf events of the year, Michelle Wie faltered over the back nine of her second round at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, NJ to finish five shots out of a playoff for a spot in the upcoming U.S. Open at Winged Foot.

That, of course, is the big story. But I had a chance to witness her attempt, watch some of my friends try to qualify, and came away with a different angle on the day.

Michelle Wie Sectional Wide

U.S. Open Sleepers

Jun. 6, 2006     By     Comments (7)

Thrash TalkI want to start off this week's Thrash Talk by congratulating my Oklahoma State Cowboys on winning another national championship in golf. The men's team outlasted the Florida Gators en route to winning their 10th national championship in the sport. On top of that, redshirt freshman Jonathan Moore won the individual title for the Cowboys. Needless to say, it has been a great weekend for this proud Okie.

Now that my personal pride is out of the way, it's time to start the U.S. Open talk. The season's second major championship is a little over a week away, and I'm definitely ready for it. The last time a PGA Tour major was played at Winged Foot, Davis Love III won in memorable fashion. Love's putt on the 72nd hole is still one of my fondest golf memories of all time.

On Furrows, Whining, and Winning

Jun. 2, 2006     By     Comments (5)

There's no whining in golf. Unless, of course, you're a PGA Tour pro at this week's Memorial Tournament. This week, some (most?) pros are busy whining about the furrowed bunkers. They're "unfair." Players "weren't warned." They introduce "luck" to the game. And on and on…

Muirfield Village Range Rake
The golfers at this week's Memorial Tournament will play under the same conditions, so what's the beef?

Memorial Journal, Day Two – Seeing and Being Seen

May. 30, 2006     By     Comments (5)

The Memorial TournamentTuesday at The Memorial is mainly about two things: the induction ceremony for the year's honorees and the clinic Jack Nicklaus and selected PGA Tour golfers put on for the benefit of a small crowd. This year, Bubba Watson pounded drives out of (Jack's) sight and José Maria Olazabal demonstrated his tremendous wedge game.

Of course, neither of those events are particularly newsworth, so I ventured onto the course to take a slew of pictures. A few gigabytes heavier, I returned with a helpful dose. I've hand selected a few for you here. Yes, this version will be light on the commentary and heavy on the imagery, so click through and wait just a bit for the images to load. I hope you find the wait worthwhile…

PGA Tour, Nicklaus Experiment with Furrowed Bunkers at Memorial

May. 29, 2006     By     Comments (13)

The Memorial TournamentI've long argued for making bunkers on the PGA Tour penal. Too many good golfers, particularly on par fives, aim for bunkers and prefer a lie on the beach than any in greenside rough.

That may all change soon if the PGA Tour's experiment this week at Muirfield Village during The Memorial Tournament proves successful. The Tour is trying out a new rake that gently furrows bunkers this year, and the early feedback is that it's working.

The PGA Tour has, to this point, only talked about acting on their threat to do something about the bunkers, but in place of fine-toothed rakes, contestants (and their caddies) will find widely spaced and long-toothed rakes made of wood. The result: less consistent lies and tougher shots.

TPC of Sawgrass Renovation Pictures

May. 18, 2006     By     Comments (5)

 18th Hole @ TPC SawgrassNot long after Stephen Ames putted out on the 72nd hole to win the 2006 Players Championship, bulldozers rumbled onto the famed course and tore down fairways, greens, and even the clubhouse. It's all part of a massive renovation to bring the facility up to world-renowned status.

The fairways renovation includes removing the topsoil, adding extensive irrigation and fresh sand. Five fairways (1, 2, 4, 5, and 9) have already been completed. Every green on the course is having a subsurface mechanical drainage system instealled which will serve two purposes: to hydrate the greens during dry weather and to quite literally suck the water out in wet conditions. These changes should make the course more playable in worse conditions and put a halt to the extensive rain delays the Players Championship - which moves to May in 2007 - regularly sees in its current March calendar slot.

Weekend Struggles

May. 16, 2006     By     Comments (1)

Thrash TalkThis past weekend at the Byron Nelson Championship, Adam Scott had a share of the lead going into the final round. Needless to say, the young Aussie didn't hang on to that lead, enabling Brett Wetterich the opportunity to pick up his first career PGA Tour victory. Wetterich took advantage of the situation en route to victory, but I saw it as more "Adam Scott letdown" than "Wetterich surge."

The Byron Nelson Championship was just another situation where a top-tier golfer had a weekend letdown. It has happened all too often over the past couple months. The top golfers in the world are supposed to dominate on Saturday and Sunday. That's more often than not the way they earned that top ranking. That hasn't been the case this year.

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