Campbell Not Being Given his Due

A reader writes in with some poignant thoughts on the 105th U.S. Open and the media reaction to a Campbell victory.

We received an email from The Sand Trap reader Bruce Hardie on Tuesday, and we’d like to share it.

I’m a fan of The Sand Trap and you and the rest of your writers should be congratulated.

I’m surprised, and maybe even a little hurt, by some of the reactions to Michael Campbell’s win. Some of the press seem to think that he was some second rate scrub who got lucky.

Ned Barnett says “Campbell’s win was great for his career, his bank account and his family, but it wasn’t great for golf… The leaderboard was full of little-known international players who are little-known for a reason.”

Pinehurst Pity Party Planned for Vijay

Vijay Singh is one of the best in the world, but does he really believe that nobody else could break 100 on a U.S. Open course?

Pinehurst US OpenAs the world’s best golfers tee off at Pinehurst No. 2 this morning, I’m still chuckling about a wayward shot world No. 2 Vijay Singh fired off in the media tent yesterday. Vijay obviously doesn’t practice humility or common sense as much as he does his golf game.

So Vijay rolls into the media tent. No one ever expects him to have much of interest to say, and he obliges with all the boilerplate comments about the great shape Pinehurst No. 2 is in, etc.

Wie Qualifies to Play Men’s PubLinks

Michelle Wie seems to enjoy losing, but does losing beget losing?

Michelle WieMichelle Wie became the first woman to qualify for an adult male USGA championship two days ago after tying for first place in a 36-hole U.S. Amateur Public Links sectional qualifying tournament in Pennsylvania.

Wie, who finished second Sunday at an LPGA major, tied Artie Fink Jr. at +1 145 in Altoona, PA to qualify. Wie and Fink earned the only two spots available in the 85-player qualifier for the PubLinks, to be held July 11-16 at Shaker Run Golf Club in Lebanon, OH.

Why is Michelle Wie playing against the men again? The Masters. Specifically, the PubLinks champion traditionally receives an invitation to compete in The Masters, and Augusta officials have said that if Michelle were to win the PubLinks, she’d be warmly welcomed to Augusta National next April.

Tour Jackass of the Week: Rory Sabbatini

Ben Crane may play slowly, but that in no way excuses what Rory Sabbatini did to him over the final two holes of the 2005 Booz Allen Classic.

Rory SabbatiniRory Sabbatini plays quickly. Ben Crane, a Tour winner, has a reputation for playing rather slowly. Like oil and water, the two often don’t mix, and when the group is put on the clock, a fast player quickly comes to resent the slow player.

Tour officials put the Sabbatini/Crane group on the clock Sunday at the Booz Allen Classic, but both players had caught up by the 17th hole and were off the clock. When Sabbatini hit his approach into the water, he walked behind the green and prepared to make his drop before Ben Crane could hit his approach shot. Sabbatini was nearly directly behind the flag, standing there, waiting for Crane to hit his shot. As soon as Crane’s ball stopped moving, Sabbatini dropped, played his chip, walked onto the green, marked his ball, and then put his ball down and putted out. He then walked to the 18th tee before Crane finished out. He was booed, and booed again as he approached the 18th green (where Crane birdied from 50 feet away and Sabbatini managed to two-putt).

Ernie Els – Flying High and Altering Course

Third-ranked golfer Ernie Els is replacing everything from the shafts on his Titleist golf clubs to his airplane but he’s keeping his caddy!

ernie_els.jpgThe changes began when Ernie decided to sell his Gulfstream IV jet after arriving at the Byron Nelson Championship. Flying an average of 100,000 miles per year can be exhausting without the right plane and the G-4 can only take a professional tour pro so far. “The Big Easy” bounces back and forth regularly from his home in Orlando to addresses in London, the Bahamas and his native South Africa.

Els then found a buyer for his G-4. “I sold it for a profit, which was very strange in today’s day and age,” Els said. “So that’s why I did it. I got a good deal on the other one.”

The “other one” is the latest G-5 plane. “In the G-5, we can go thirteen or fourteen hours. It’s nine or so in the G-4. With my schedule, that makes a big difference” he said. But Ernie will be traveling like regular folk by charter until next May until the new jet is delivered.

Jack’s Tournament on the PGA Tour Contraction Chopping Block

The Memorial – due to Jack’s reputation with the powers-that-be – may find its neck on the chopping block come “contraction” time.

Memorial Jack Nicklaus HeadshotJack Nicklaus has built a fine career for himself, and one of the crowning jewels in his lustrous golden cap is his own tournament, The Memorial. With one of the strongest fields in non-major golf, Jack’s tournament is regarded by many as one of the best of the season.

That view, I’ve come to learn, may not be shared by the Tour elite. I’m not talking about Tiger, but Tim. Not a guy from Fiji, but a guy named Finchem. PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem and his very astute, very capable team of executives haven’t lost much love for Jack Nicklaus through the years. In fact, it’s safe to say they never really had much to begin with.

In fact, Nicklaus is so far on the outside of Finchem’s camp that, should the PGA Tour season contract this winter, The Memorial may find its neck on the chopping block.

“Insert the Name of Your Company Here” Golf Tournament

Is being a title sponsor really worth it? I think there are better ways to get your company’s name associated with one of the Tour’s.

Golf Sign SponsorIt’s always been a mystery to me how a company can determine that they can get the value out of a $3 million sponsorship deal of a golf tournament (just making numbers up). I mean, I’m positive they don’t get a percentage of revenue. In fact, they’re pretty much covering prize money.

I understand it’s a ton of exposure to millions of fans, and if Tiger’s at the tournament it’s even more of a captive audience, but is it worth $3 million to sponsor the Western Open? Just looking at $3 million for a name recognition seemed weird to me, but an article in Business Week’s Branding the Course piece offered some interesting information.

Player says New Equipment is Ruining the Game

Gary Player wants to take away the metal clubs used by pros and put wooden clubs in their hands. My reaction? Nice knowing you, Gary. Have fun in La La Land.

Gary Player SwingingI’ve got all the respect in the world for Gary Player. His record is spotless. Oh, well, except for that cheating thing. But really, Gary Player, a brilliant guy and a great player with a good head on his shoulders. Oh, well, except for those stupid comments he made last week.

Gary Player is asking governing bodies to impose “drastic” restrictions to the equipment used on the professional tours. Says Player, a short hitter even in his prime, “There’s not even a debate. There must be a premium on driving.” New equipment is “ruining the game of golf.”

Player elaborated, saying “I play on the Champions Tour now, and there are guys on it who are shooting scores that they could never shoot when they were young men. It just doesn’t make sense, and it’s ruining golf.”

Tips for Attending a Professional Golf Tournament

Plan your trip in advance, and you may have the most fun you’ve ever had. Just remember the Gore-Tex and plenty of drinking water.

golf_crowd.jpgI’ve been fortunate to attend many golf tournaments. My first was in 1984 as I watched Bob Tway hole a bunker shot to defeat Greg Norman on the 18th at Inverness for the PGA Championship. Most recently I saw the 2003 British Open at Royal St. George. While I’ve had a blast at every tournament I’ve been to, I’ve always found it difficult to attend a tournament and not feel as though I’ve seen all I could. I’ve finally come to the realization that it’s impossible to see everything – the players, the course, the spectacles – unless you’re there for multiple days.

To make the most of your trip to a professional tournament, I’ve put together a quick “how-to” guide. Take advantage of my experience to make your visit to a professional golf tournament even better.