Posted on: February 25, 2012 7:46 pm

Kuchar's comment a pain in his own neck

By Steve Elling

MARANA, Ariz. -- As his past American teammates in international cup competitions can attest, Matt Kuchar can apply the verbal tourniquet as well as any player in golf. Even Phil Mickelson, a master of the craft, has openly expressed his admiration for Kuchar's needlework.

Kuchar's quick wit, displayed in a very public fashion, created a lively bit of discourse for a few moments after he was pummeled by Hunter Mahan, 6 and 5, in the quarterfinals of the Accenture Match Play Championship on Saturday.

Broadcast analyst Nick Faldo had expressed on the air Friday night that he felt long putters gave players an advantage, and after Kuchar raked the ball all over Dove Mountain in his loss, three-putting from everywhere, he said he wanted to whack "Faldo in the neck."

Of course, minus the context, some wondered whether he was serious. Kuchar immediately sought out the six-time major winner to explain himself.

It was a joke that misfired about as badly as his putting stroke. He was trying to suggest that, given the way he putted Saturday with his long model, it was reason enough not to ban the long sticks.

"I think I have a chilly sense of humor," Kuchar explained later. "It was meant to be funny. Nick’s a big boy [physically]. I don’t want any piece of him. I thought it might be funny. 

"It was funny in my mind. I don’t know if it was funny in anybody else’s mind."

It could be worse. A few years ago, an angry girlfriend, Brenna Cepelak, whacked the front of Faldo's Porsche. She wasn't kidding.

Category: Golf
Posted on: February 25, 2012 8:22 am
Edited on: February 25, 2012 11:08 pm

Miller, Chamblee, Faldo take off the gloves

By Steve Elling

MARANA, Ariz. -- They are perhaps the three most pointedly honest guys manning the television towers these days, and for the second straight year, they were placed in a semi-circle and the leashes were removed.

When Johnny Miller, Brandel Chamblee and Nick Faldo get a whiff of blood in their nostrils, it makes for a darned good fireside chat, and that's exactly what transpired at times during the Golf Channel's occasional State of the Game program, staged on the network's Accenture Match Play set on Friday night.

As was the case last year, Tiger Woods was a huge talking point, beginning with Miller's recent magazine proclamation that he thought Woods would win 30-40 more events in his career and make it to 18 major victories, which would tie the record held by Jack Nicklaus.

Boy, did Miller back down quickly from that rosy proclamation. Woods was eliminated in the second round at the Accenture ths week as his putting woes continue to mount.

“That was a best-case scenario," Miller said. "I thought after watching him in Australia at the Presidents Cup, and also seeing him perform the way he did at Sherwood and watching him putt pretty good in both places -– and he hit it unbelievably good, very graceful.  I was thinking, wow, this second career could be really good. He could win 30 or 40 tournaments, and he could win two, three or four majors. 

“The bottom line is, I don’t think he’s going even tie his record, a best-case scenario. So it’s a tough road to hoe.  And like you say, he’s lost his mojo or psyche or power. He had power over everybody and he’s lost that.”

As promised before the session was staged, the trio weighed in on long putters, perhaps the most contentious debate in the game over the past two seasons.

“It’s called a golf swing, not a golf anchor," Faldo said. "The amateurs, for the enjoyment of the game, let them do whatever they like. But for professionals, I think we should start looking at all our rules, or quite a few on the equipment, like the size of the driver face.”

Wow, so Sir Nick wants to back down the horsepower and go for bifurcation -- two sets of rules -- too? Interesting. Suicidal for the game, but interesting.

“I am all for two sets of rules for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is eliminating the long putter in the professional ranks and allows –- to Nick’s point -– to provide a forum which allows you to actually control the motion of the putter without nerves or feel or touch actually affecting the motion," Chamblee said. "So they could make the game simultaneously more interesting at the professional level, more interesting for us to call it and more fun for the recreational golfer if they would do this.”

Chamblee threw caution to the desert wind. If not into a cholla.

"So they could make the game simultaneously more interesting at the professional level, more interesting for us to call it and more fun for the recreational golfer if they would do this," he said. "The average golfer hits the ball 195 yards; they need bigger heads; they need spring effect; they need long putters. You want to grow the game? Let them have fun and do it."

The group was hardly singing praises for the new PGA Tour proposal, seemingly a done deal to be green-lighted next month by the tour Policy Board, to blow up Q-school in its current form, have a wraparound season starting in the fall, and meld the Nationwide Tour and Q-school into a joint qualifying process.

"Frankly I think it's quite sad," Chamblee said. "Every year there's one or two examples of a guy coming out of school or making it through Q-school and having a huge effect. Case in point, Y.E. Yang was the last guy to get his tour card in 2008 and won a PGA Championship in 2009."

Frankly, while the proposal has some merits, the move is being made mostly for financial reasons. Which makes everybody shudder to a degree. It could slow the number of international players coming to the States, because no established player will want to spend a year as a veritable intern/apprentice on the Nationwide Tour first.
"Another case in point, Sang-moon Bae, he's here, he's playing," Chamblee said. "Now, tip your cap to him, he came over and went to Q-school [last fall]. But would he have come over and gone to Q-school if he knew that it would necessitate a year in the minor leagues [Nationwide] before he could get out and play the PGA Tour?

"He won the Japanese money list last year, that's millions of dollars last year and won his national championship in Korea. Is he going to forego all that to come over here and play the Nationwide Tour? He is a big part of golf, now; and a big part of this tournament, now. You're talking about eliminating an opportunity for players that don't even have a vote on the issue. 

"I understand what the PGA Tour is trying to do, acquiesce to the demands of a sponsor, but personally I think it's short-sighted."

Amen and hallelujah, brother Brandel.

They also tossed a few observations around about the LPGA, including some less-than-flattering aspersions about the work ethic of the American players, who have definitely lost their grip on the top rung of the LPGA ladder. At last season's Solheim Cup, the players on the U.S. team had amassed, what, three victories between them over 2011?

South Florida's Lexi Thompson, the latest teen prodigy, might help in that regard. She already has a couple of wins.

"The last United States lady to be player of the year was Beth Daniel, 1994," Chamblee said. "They are getting out-worked by Lorena Ochoa, Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb, they are getting out-worked."

We tend to agree, but I'm not on the panel. So, continue ... 

"If Lexi Thompson can avoid pitfalls, she has all of the talent to be just as good, if not better, than Beth Daniel was, which is saying a lot because that’s a talented woman,” Chamblee said.

Posted on: August 13, 2011 10:19 am
Edited on: August 13, 2011 10:20 am

Fazio joins Faldo bid to build Olympics venue

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -- You ready for Nick Faldo, lord of the rings?

The six-time major winner on Friday took another step toward bringing an ambitious plan to fruition by convincing course architect Tom Fazio to join his attempt to build the 2016 Olympics course in Rio de Janiero, and to use the game's biggest names in the design.

Faldo told CBSSports.com that he spoke with Fazio, perhaps the most noted designer in the game these days, and gave him an outline of his sweeping plan -- to mirror the Olympic ideal by using multiple designers from several countries to build an audacious design to serve the 2016 stage. Fazio agreed to come aboard.

"This is such a great opportunity," Faldo said. "This could be the ultimate one-off of one-offs. This is the Olympics and it should really be something special, something different."
Faldo said that Fazio agreed to serve as the lead architect, while Faldo will concentrate on pulling together the names of the principle stars involved.

"I'm the heavy recruiter of designers and players," he said.

He's already been making calls. Faldo said he has spoken with the players or design firms of Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Ernie Els, Nancy Lopez and Greg Norman. Fazio wants no part of the cobbling together, or determining the distribution of the workload, to the potential list of alpha males.

"He said, 'You're in charge of egos,'" Faldo laughed.

Faldo sent a letter to the International Golf Federation a couple of weeks ago, pitching the proposal of using top designers and players from a broad list of countries as a means of doing an inclusive property that would generate global interest. Almost overnight, rumors began to circulate t hat he was attempting to use 18 different designers, with each drawing up one hole.

Not the case. Never was.

"It's always frustrating when people make fast assumptions," he said.

Speaking of speed, Faldo said the consortium needs to draft a formal design proposal in a hurry. The IGF has indicated it plans to select a designer by year's end. The hope is to ideally have a course built by 2015 so that a professional tour event can be staged as a dry run in advance of the Games.

From a course-development standpoint, since various forms of land-use permitting still needs to be done on the selected parcel in Rio, that's not a lot of time.

"ASAP," Faldo said of the rush to submit a formal plan.

Faldo gets nearly giddy when he talks of the project.

"Think about it," he said. "With all of these players and designers from various parts of the world, that's what the Olympics are all about."

The idea just sort of popped into his head out of nowhere.

"It was one of those 3-o'clock-in-the-morning things," he laughed.

Joe Steranka, the chief official with the PGA of America and a member of the IGF board, said he was intrigued by the plan.

"There's not a lot of time," he said.

Category: Golf
Tags: faldo, fazio, olympics, rio
Posted on: August 6, 2011 9:51 am
Edited on: August 6, 2011 10:59 am

Faldo's Olympian effort: Big course, by big names

AKRON, Ohio -- Golf is an individual sport. So is course design, in many fundamental ways.

Something about too many cooks in the kitchen comes to mind.

Which is why the Olympics proposal that Nick Faldo has floated to the International Golf Federation is more than a bit unusual, if not completely heretical.

With golf set to make a re-appearance at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, the host venue hasn't yet been built and several big names have offered to design the course, including Jack Nicklaus, Annika Sorenstam and Greg Norman, among others.

Faldo, a six-time major winner and a designer himself, has pitched an altogether different plan in a letter to the IGF, which is in charge of the game as an Olympic sport.

At first blush, it sounds as though it could produce the biggest clash of egos in the history of the sport. It might even require a referee.

But if handled properly, it could certainly achieve Faldo's intended result -- to create a slew of publicity around the world about the Olympics push, because big-name players and designers from every corner of the world would potentially be involved in building the crucial host venue in Rio de Janiero.

Here are some excerpts from Faldo's letter to IGF brass:

"It is my hope that with this letter you might consider a genuinely international collection of player-designers, comprising major champions from all around the world working in the ultimate Olympic spirit as a design collaboration. What a tremendous, ongoing, global and historic story we could write for our sport as a truly international team of men's and women's champions create the venue for golf's return to the Olympics in 2016. Certainly some of the most-respected course designers in the world come from a global pool of the most-recognized champions.

"It is understood that the complexity of the site and the demands of the Olympic event would necessitate a unified and experienced process architecturally; as they say, egos should be checked at the door, but please imagine the worldwide interest and appeal this Olympic course as the truest collaboration of men's and women's champions -- from every continent.

"Consider for yourself, the major-champion designers from the continents of Africa, Australia, Europe, North America, South America and Asia. The announcement of this collaboration alone would generate true and positive worldwide interest and press in a truly Olympic story."

Faldo did not mention in the letter if he had spoken specifically to any players, nor did he identify any designers who were interested in the idea. In Faldo's mind, a lead architect would likely need to be appointed, but he believes that designers would leap at the chance to be involved in the project.

Just throwing around random names here, but if player-designers like Nicklaus, Palmer, Woods, Mickelson, Els, Faldo, Norman and their design ilk jumped in with both feet, it's undeniable that the interest in the project and Olympics push would increase overnight, and give several countries the feeling that their nation had participated in the outcome.

The site for the course in Rio has been identified, but no designer has been named.

Category: Golf
Tags: faldo, olympics
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com