Posted on: February 15, 2008 5:02 pm

Insert punchline here (I know I will)

In major industry news, manufacturing giant TaylorMade-adidas on Friday announced the sale of its storied Maxfli brand, including the highly successful and popular Noodle ball, to the Dick’s Sporting Goods chain.

The latter immediately announced it would be rebranding the super-soft ball as “Noodle Dick.”

Category: Golf
Posted on: February 14, 2008 2:32 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2008 2:51 pm

Ernie plays with matches after all

Ernie Els has had a change of heart. When you own your own jet, you can do flighty things at the last minute, perhaps.

Reversing his field, if not his flight plans, he'll start his PGA Tour season next week at the WCG Accenture Match Play event in Arizona after all.

Why not, right? There's no cut, everybody gets paid, and he was going to open his U.S. season the following week at the Honda Classic anyway. Besides, Els has had some success in match-play formats before, winning the event staged at his home track in Wentworh, England, a record seven times, including last fall.

Els is expected to be seeded fourth in Tucson. His record at the U.S. match play tournament has mostly been horrific, having been bounced in the first round a total of four times in his seven appearances.  In two other instances, he was defeated in the second round.


Category: Golf
Posted on: February 13, 2008 4:23 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2008 4:27 pm

Gender Blenders

For the first time, the high-powered Tavistock Cup exhibition matches in Orlando will include a sprinkle of estrogen among the testosterone. In fact, that's just what this thing needs.


As always, the matches March 24-25 will pair the big-named tour members of Orlando's two wealthy private enclaves, Lake Nona and Isleworth, in a format which has often provided some fun storylines. Like three years ago, when a playoff featured Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Lee Janzen, who all have won two U.S. Open titles apiece.

This time around, in the fifth year of the competition, LPGA stars Annika Sorenstam and Paula Creamer have been added to the Lake Nona and Isleworth rosters, respectively. Sorenstam has played in the past as the lone female competitor, her schedule permitting, but Creamer, who bought a home at Isleworth last year, is a rookie.

The two have had scrapes in the past. Three years ago, Creamer, then an LPGA rookie, accused Sorenstam of taking an improper drop on the 18th hole of the ADT Championship in West Palm Beach. That took some major brass Titleists, for lack of a better term.

In another event first, tournament officials are requiring that fans admitted to the invitation-only event dress in red or blue, the team colors for Nona and Isleworth. No word yet on whether they have found a blue dress for Nona's Sergio Garcia. Or whether teammate Ian Poulter will wear anything at all. Just making sure you were paying attention, folks.

The matches are at Isleworth this year with Mark O'Meara and Ernie Els again serving as playing captains. While the event is almost entirely for fun and crosstown ragging rights, there's a jaw-dropping $3.88 million purse this year (the biggest purse in women's golf is $3.1 million) and each player on the winning team gets to designate $100,000 to the charity of their choice.

Creamer, the defending champion at this week's LPGA season opener in Hawaii, said she ran into Woods on the Isleworth range recently and the Tavistock topic came up.

"Right now, we're talking a lot about the Tavistock Cup because that event is in March and we'll be on the same team, which is pretty exciting," the 21-year-old said.

Category: Golf
Posted on: February 13, 2008 2:07 pm

Not That I'm Counting or Anything

Butch Harmon is biased, of course.

The former swing coach to Tiger Woods believes that Adam Scott, another of his clients, is the lone young player capable of someday dethroning Woods atop the world rankings.

"Adam Scott is the best player under 30 in the world by far," Harmon said. "You may get an argument for Luke Donald or Sergio Garcia, but I just think Adam Scott is above them. He's a truly great talent."

No possible argument here on at least half that point. Donald turned 30 in December.

Category: Golf
Posted on: February 13, 2008 7:52 am
Edited on: February 13, 2008 8:00 am

Bright Lights, Big City

Charles Howell, the defending champion this week in Los Angeles, is getting a huge dose of life in the Southern California fast lane, though it has little to do with his status as one of the game's best young players.

Howell's uncle lives in Beverly Hills, where certain neighbors have been known to attract unwanted attention like horse flies.

"Right down the road, David Beckham lives there," Howell said. "I didn't know that was his home until I saw this line of paparazzi last year, which was around the time that he came here. I had no idea. I mean, we don't do this stuff Georgia.

"But there's cars lined up everywhere outside this house, all of these guys with cameras, I figured Tiger Woods lost his ball over there or somebody lived there, and come to find out it was David Beckham. So, yeah, he's a little more important. He gets recognized a little bit more than I do."

That's just the beginning of the list of celebs who show on on his neighborhood Map to the Stars' Homes.

"He's at the bottom of the hill and at the top is a girl, Britney Spears," Howell said, deadpan. "I don't know if you've heard of her and she gets a lot of attention, too. Not the attention I want, either. I don't think my partnership with Lexus would be going on very long if I acted like that."

Howell recently signed an endorsement deal with Lexus and earlier this week in Southern California filmed a TV commercial for Bridgestone, the company that makes his clubs and ball. That was another Hollywood experience in itself.

"The (union) crew that was there yesterday was amazing," Howell cracked. "I know nothing about the movie business, but it's just,  all the people involved -- you know there's a guy to move a light and there's a guy to help a guy move the light and there's a guy to watch him do it and they are all protected by another guy. And if they don't like the food they can walk away and leave."

And readers wonder why Howell is one of the most frequently quotes guys on tour?





Category: Golf
Posted on: February 11, 2008 8:32 pm

The, Uh, Shape of Things to Come?

Fans who watched the final holes of the PGA Tour event at Pebble Beach on Sunday might have been surprised at the outcome. Vijay Singh, a former world No. 1, fell apart on the back nine and was reeled in by the rather potbellied veteran, Steve Lowery.

Under most circumstances, you'd always expect Singh to win a battle of attrition against an older player who is nowhere near in the same physical condition. Singh, of course, is a workout fiend who added a two-story weightroom to his home.

Players felt similarly, too.

"Not everybody’s in great shape on the Champions Tour or the regular tour," said Fred Funk, appearing at media day Monday for the Ginn Championship in Palm Coast, Fla. "I’m going to throw Steve Lowery under the bus. Yesterday, I came back from practicing, and I got home just in time for the playoff, and here’s Vijay Singh, who works out who knows how many hours a day plus hitting balls how many hours a day – 12 hours of his day is some sort of working out or practicing.

"Steve Lowery looks like he might do 10 minutes of breathing exercises or something. Steve is a great player, but it just doesn’t mean a whole hill of beans all the time."

Category: Golf
Posted on: February 8, 2008 2:52 pm

Is the USGA Going Public?

To borrow a term used by an insuferable snob in Caddyshack, let's hear it for the hoi polloi.

That means the little guy, the working man, the proletariat.

The USGA, long the exclusive province of guys named Muffy and Chip, has finally begun to acknowledge that the general public is part of its national base, too.

The news on Friday that Chambers Bay has been added to the U.S. Open lineup for 2015 was surprising on several levels. Firstly, the course is seven months old and has zero credentials as a tournament venue. Yet a particularly appealing part of its selection is that it's a county-owned facility located outside Seattle.

With public tracks like Bethpage Black and Torrey Pines already in the Open pileline, that means that 8 of 17 courses used to stage the Open from 1999-2015 will have offered access (the total includes Pebble Beach and Pinehurst, which are open to the public with restrictions) to the working-day stiffs like you and me.

Glad to see, finally, that the USGA has recognized that there are quality courses that, firstly, don't have $300,000 initiation fees, and secondly, are located outside New York and New Jersey. 

The blue blazers have embraced the blue collars.

I'm going to buy an Old Milwaukee draft, a stale hot dog and a sleeve of X-out balls just to celebrate.







Category: Golf
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