Monday, January 30, 2012

Your 2012 Waste Management Open Guide

(This article appeared on DTCC on January 31, 2011, exactly a year from today, and is a great precursor to the start of one of the wildest weeks of the PGA Tour season ... all still hold true, so I figured I'd re-print it for the world to see, with added notes to some of the spots) 

It's Waste Management Open week, and for a guy that lives in Scottsdale, and has for the past few years, it is my one chance to "host" the golfing world. Here are a few pointers on the week; what to do, see, eat, play and some inside notes on the tournament. Read on ...

Where Should You Stay?

This question comes with a few answers, but most of that depends on what you like and how old you are. If you're between the ages of 21-28 and enjoy nightlife, the place to be is in the Old Town Scottsdale area. That is where the nightlife will be exciting for the entire week, and where the young people will be having a good time.

You can always get a room at the Phoenician, but if you're looking to be a bit more thrifty, there is a great Courtyard Marriott just south of Old Town, and a Holiday Inn Express right next to it. Both are great locations where you can walk to bars and restaurants, and both leave you only about 15 minutes from the golf tournament.

If you're a little older, and want a more quiet experience that is closer to the tournament, you can crash up by TPC. Kierland is a nice spot, with a ton to do in their shopping district next door called Kierland Commons, and the crowd is a bit more mature and established, with the Scottsdale Commons across the way that offers tons of great food selections.

Where Should You Eat?

For Sports Bars, I'll give you the following options:

Blue 32 -- A newer spot on Indian Bend and Scottsdale Rd. (about 10 minutes from golf), this sports bar has good food and incredible televisions. It is one of the few sports bars I've been to where you can see a good TV from any seat in the house.

Zipps -- A few locations in Phoenix, the one near Kierland isn't far from the golf course and offers a great menu highlight by the Monaco Focaccia, one of the best things you'll ever eat in you entire life. Also an added bonus for 2012; the location off of Frank Lloyd Wright and the one near Kierland are offering free bus rides to and from the golf tournament all week, so cab it to Zipps, enjoy a big mug of beer, and then head off to the course without the worry of a car. 

Arcadia Tavern -- A little further from the golf (in Arcadia, maybe 20 minutes from TPC), this place is one of my favorite sports bars in Phoenix. It has a neighborhood feel, and a game area for the kids, plus solid food and a great TV setup.

For Dinner Spots:

Sapporo Sushi -- If you're in the mood for sushi, this is about the best in the city, and close to the golf tournament. Also, the waitresses are known to be decently attractive, so there's that.

The Mission -- A high-end Mexican food spot in Old Town Scottsdale, the atmosphere and food are fantastic. Don't forget to get the guacamole that they make at your table, because it'll be the best decision you make all week.

Roaring Fork -- A staple of my diet, this restaurant never disappoints. Sit in the bar and take advantage of a fantastic happy hour, and chow down on the Green Chili Pork at a reasonable price. It also has a hamburger there that was ranked in the top-10 two years ago by Mens Fitness. A place where everything on the menu seems to be awesome.

Where Should We Go Out?

Blue Martini -- A spot up north that will be busy all weekend, Blue Martini is a spot infamous for their massive feline contingent (that is you, reading between the lines).

The Lodge -- A spot in Old Town that is always busy, but not too obnoxious, and has a solid late night dinner menu in case your stomach is a-rumblin'. Get the pretzel. Just do it.

The Vig -- A cool, more chill spot in the Arcadia area that has great drinks, a fun crowd, and a Vig Rig that will drive you back to your place for free, as long as you tip the man.

Where Should We Play?

The Phoenician --  A resort-style golf course that is always in good shape and gives you the best views of any golf course in the valley. It isn't too hard, so you might be able to drop in a birdie or two, but it is fun, and has a few challenging holes. Also, if you're lucky, a celebrity might be playing in the group in front of you.

Southern Dunes Golf Club -- Formerly a private club named Royal Dunes, Southern Dunes is now open to the public, and you won't regret the 40 minutes drive to Maricopa to play it. The course can be challenging if you tip it out, but it has some really awesome holes and is the best new design in Arizona.

Troon North, Pinnacle -- You've heard of this course, but there is no way I could leave it off the list. It's the, getreadyforit, Pinnacle of desert golf, and one everyone should play once before they die. Just a suggestion: toss a bunch of water balls in your bag before you go out there. You're probably going to need them.

Okay, Now Golf Tournament Tips

Friday is the new Saturday: Maybe it's because I'm getting older, and the thought of 150,000 people all in the same place pushes me into panic attack mode, but Saturday has gotten too crazy at the Waste Management Open for my liking. If you can, go on Friday instead, because nobody works that day anyway, it's super fun, and it isn't nearly as packed as it is over the weekend.

The 16th: If you're going to hit up the 16th, let me make it a lot easier on you; go early, and don't leave. The stadium-style golf hole fills up FAST, and the line can stretch all the way to the 11th tee if you're not careful, so get there early, snag a couple of seats, and enjoy the action.

If you can't get to the 16th early, go before the final groups roll through. Normally the non-golf fans have left by then, and you'll get to see the big boys playing with a lot of the guys in the stands extra-lubricated. A win-win, really.

What other hole should we be watching?: It used to be the 17th, but the new stands closed off the viewing area there, so my suggestion is the green at the par-5 3rd hole and the tee box at the 4th. It's a good spot where you can see second shots flying in and tee balls on the short par-3. It's a fun place to see some cool action, and won't be nearly as packed.

Anything Else?

Just a friendly reminder not to drink and drive while you're visiting. While it is stupid to do anyway, Arizona is the worst state in the world to be landing behind the wheel with a few drinks in you. Trust me, if you do it, you're going to get caught, especially this week.

Also, for 2012, the tournament has come out with a Waste Management App for iPhone and Droid that is really a must have if you're going for the week. Check it out, and have some fun with the caddie races section, that actually could get you to leave with some free tent tickets.

Kyle Stanley Might Not Have Won, But He Got This Big Check Anyway

We have all written a check in our day that we had to void. Wrong name, wrong amount, or just something you didn't need to give anymore, the dreaded "VOID" crosses the top and you then tear it up.

Unfortunately for Kyle Stanley, voiding this bad boy will be a lot tougher. Stanley had a three shot lead heading into the final hole on Sunday at Torrey Pines, and just about everyone in the world thought it was over, but a triple-bogey and a lost playoff later, the only thing he won was a big, used bottle of white-out.

via Shack

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Graeme McDowell has the luck of the Irish on his side

I'm not sure if Graeme McDowell has ever played a game of H-O-R-S-E in his life, but if he hasn't, someone needs to tell him to pull this trick shot out of the bag when the game is on the line. To set the stage for this absurd shot, McDowell, playing in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, thins his approach shot from the bunker on the 18th hole and looks destined to hit the next shot from the grandstand.

But instead of hitting a shot that would have made Happy Gilmore smile, GMac got some seriously good luck -- luck of the Irish, of course -- as the ball ricocheted off the grandstand and onto the green ... only a couple feet from the hole for birdie. And yes, he made the putt.

I hope McDowell at least calls "glass" the next time he attempts this gem, because I'd hate to see him waste a perfectly good H-O-R-S-E shot in the future.

Is This a Huge Blow to Tiger's Big Season?

One of the sneaking things about results is just how little they tell about what happened. In 20 years, people will see that Novak Djokovic won the 2012 Australian Open, but few will realize just how intense his five-set semifinal and final matches were, and how long he battled against Rafael Nadal before he was able to prevail.

Before the week, if you had told me that Tiger Woods would finish third at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, I probably would have told you that such a finish would be a great start to Tiger's year. Face it, he hasn't played his best golf the last few years, and a third place finish in such a talented field at a golf course he has never seen isn't so bad anymore for Woods. He tells us he wants to win, but it isn't 2001 anymore, and top-3s are actually good weeks for Tiger.

But the way he went about his third place finish this week in the United Arab Emirates could actually be a deficient for Tiger's season. Woods entered the final round tied for the lead with Robert Rock, a rather unknown to most of the golf world if not for his flowing locks, and was flat outplayed by the Englishman.

Rock shot 69, good enough for a one-shot lead over Rory McIlroy, while Tiger faded with an inconsistent round of even par.

The thing about Tiger's round wasn't just the score, but the swings. He was wiping shots, pulling shots, and missing mid-irons 15 yards short of greens. He wasn't getting up and down when he needed to. His play was very reminiscent of what has gone wrong the last couple of years to leave him winless in events with more than 18 players.

Tiger will surely tell the media he is going to take positives away from this, as he always does, but will he really? Is being in a position to win and then failing a boost to your attitude or another reminder that you just aren't the same golfer?

I'm thinking that with this, Tiger will definitely be feeling the latter.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

To Australia I Go, I Go

Just a little note to all out there. I will be heading to Australia this weekend to be a part of the LPGA kickoff. Yes, I'll be looping for my friend Irene Cho for a couple of weeks, and getting in good with some of the professional ladies so we can get some interviews, etc. for the season.

While I'm out, you will be in the good hands of Mr. Jonathan Wall, who you have read if you've ever switched over to Yahoo!'s Devil Ball Golf. Mr. Wall is a great writer, and I've encouraged him to have some fun on the site if anything big happens. You'll be pleased, I promise.

I will still be writing, reporting, etc., from Australia, and the best way to follow me is to jump on my Twitter account, so do that before you get lunch.

The Coolest Picture You'll See All Week

You know how St. Andrews has a sand trap called Hell Bunker, and Pine Valley has one called the Devil's Asshole? Well neither of those have anything on what Luke Donald was in before the start of the HSBC. Yes, that is a mighty fine shot from the set of "Sex of the City 2."

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Thursday, January 26, 2012


The above picture is the first of many you'll see that shows Jim Furyk pitching you 5 Hour Energy. As you know, 5 Hour Energy is that thing you drink that, as far as we can tell, forces you to make really annoying commercials, but the drink has hit our links, and Furyk is the man for the job.

And as Darren Rovell points out, shouldn't Furyk be a little more jazzed if he's trying to pitch an energy drink? Wouldn't this be like a "Why wait" commercial with some dude that has chocolate already planted all over his lips?

Just Tell Him To Download Your iPhone App, Tiger!

Yes, that is Tiger Woods, giving a putting lesson to, ahem, Sheikh Sultan Bin Thanoon Al Nahyan, the chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority. After 34 putts in his first round, maybe Al Nahyan should be giving Tiger the putting lesson, amirite?!

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Trying To Make Sense of All These Q-School Changes

PGA Tour Q-School is dead. It is. A bummer for just about anyone that has ever dreamed of hitting that little round ball in front of a gallery larger than your family circle, it is happening. Read the word "proposal" all you want, but this thing will be different next year and there is no doubt in my mind that is happening.

So first we must find out, why in the world would they change arguably the coolest qualifying thing in sports? Well, I hope you're sitting down, but it is because of ... money. Yes, Nationwide Insurance is most likely going to be ditching out after this year, meaning the minor leagues of the golf world will be looking for a new sponsor to shell out millions of dollars to be the name behind the PGA Tour's little brother, and there needs to be more incentive than, "You'll be that thing that people play in when they can't play in that THING." 

The Nationwide Tour is an incredible tour. It was back when it was the Nike Tour. It still is great. The players on it are arguably more talented today than PGA Tour players were in the early '90s, and it is an incredible place to learn how to play professional golf at a level that will make you richer than you ever dreamed. It's where a ton of big names started, and it is where a ton of big names will come from in the future. The PGA Tour is making sure of that. 

The only drawback of the Nationwide Tour is nobody outside of the guys actually playing in the tour care about it (I did a search online of big Nationwide Tour stories last year, and the ones that people cared about were that Georgia player winning an event last year as an amateur, Erik Compton winning, and that guy making an ace on a par-4 ... that's about it). 

So the problem the PGA Tour has is it has to make the Nationwide Tour more relevant not form a golf side, but from a business side. Why are people going to care? 

And the answer is simple. And complicated. Make playing on the Nationwide Tour more of a big deal.

Right now, 25 guys a year get bumped up to the PGA Tour, not counting anyone that wins three times in a season and is automatically battlefield exempted up to the big leagues. There are plenty of guys on the Nationwide Tour that could make a career on the PGA Tour if they had the chance, and if not make a career, at least vacation there for a couple of years and enjoy the fancy buffets, the nice hotels and not rooming with another golfer that smells like his golf shoes. 

Q-School offers everyone an opportunity to strut their stuff and becoming a PGA Tour member (and a few times a year, a guy goes through all three stages and does just that). 

But, if you are talking about which is a better way to prove you've got the goods, I actually have to side with the PGA Tour on their decision that came out of the mandatory players meeting at Torrey Pines this week. Putting more emphasis on the Nationwide Tour's entire season is the way to go.

Steve Elling of CBS did a great job of explaining the upcoming changes that will eventually take place. Here they are ...

As part of the pitch to attract a replacement for Nationwide, the new plan is for the PGA Tour to run a wraparound season, a La the NBA and NHL, starting after the FedEx Cup series ends in mid-September. The new qualifying series will be contested in the same time frame, at different venues, with tour cards at stake. As it stands, the three-event qualifying series will be include players finishing No. 126-200 on the PGA Tour money list, with Greensboro's Wyndham Championship serving as the last chance to crack the top 125, cement a card and gain entrance to the FedEx sessions. 

Those who missed will be joined by the top 75 from the Nationwide money list for a seeded, three-stop stretch in which the top 50 will earn promotions the following season ... which will start a matter of days later. The three-tourney series will be weighted and college players will have a crack at earning one of the big-league cards, too. In the proposed seeding, the player finishing No. 126 in PGA Tour earnings will start the new qualifying sweepstakes with the same adjusted dollar figure as the player who topped the Nationwide money list in the regular season. 

Likewise, No. 127 in PGA Tour earnings will begin the series with the same money as No. 2 in Nationwide earnings, and so forth down the line. The 50 players with the most combined regular-season and series money will earn a card. Landing a top seeding or winning one of the three events essentially ensures a promotion to the PGA Tour.

Now, the good thing for the PGA Tour is they already addressed the issue of great amateur or college players missing out on a chance to show that they are good enough RIGHT AWAY to go play PGA Tour stuff. Sure, they could still become full-time members the Tiger Woods way by earning enough money to crack the top-125 with sponsors exemptions, but what about the Rickie Fowlers of the world that went to Q-School right after they turned pro and got right into the PGA Tour?

Those players will have a shot at this. If you play in a tournament as an amateur, and play well, your "fake" earnings will be recorded, and those will be included the same way a PGA Tour or Nationwide Tours earnings would be included. That way, they get in the three tournament spread as well.

I know, it isn't exactly "see ball, hit ball," but it's also not the soliloquy that "Tin Cup" spouts out about the golf swing while trying to impress Rene Russo. It makes sense if you really, really focus on it.

Here is the easiest way for me to explain it.

If you're on the PGA Tour and don't get your card, but finish in the top-200 on the money list, you're in a three-week tournament. If you are in the top-75 of the Nationwide Tour money list, you're in a three-week tournament. If you're a bomb amateur that showed that in pro tournaments, you're in a three-week tournament. Finish in the top-50 over those three weeks, and congrats, you're a PGA Tour member for the next season.

Here are the pros, in my opinion:

-- Makes people focus on the Nationwide Tour players over the year to see just who is playing well (not not as much as the PGA Tour thinks).
-- Gives lesser known events a big boost because all that six-day Q-School pressure is on the line.
-- Makes finishing in the top-125 even bigger of a deal, which means the end-of-year events add a ton of pressure.

The cons:
-- I don't think the Nationwide Tour benefits as much as the tour might think it does from this. Yes, playing on it for a season is basically your only way of going about making the leap, but I think people still won't care.
-- Q-School is still one of the coolest events of the season, and a fan favorite amongst big golf fans, and you're killing that.
-- Mini tour golf outside of the Nationwide Tour is basically made obsolete. Listen, I played Gateway Tour golf before, and everyone that was anyone was playing on those tours to get amped for Q-School. Kevin Streelman used to play in our money game, and got through three stages and is now a big shot. Those stories are dead.

So, I guess what it boils down to is what you like. Want the Nationwide Tour, or whatever it will be called, to become the warm-up before the big show, or do you still want the PGA Tour to have something distinctive only to the PGA Tour?

For now, the decision is in the air, but it won't be for long, and I think I'll be the first to say R.I.P. to Q-School.

Video Ben Crane Is Back!

Okay, okay, okay ... I know that some of you might be getting a little tired of the Ben Crane videos. First, it was the hilarious when he showed us his intense workout. And then the funny continued when the slow-playing Crane got us all fired up about pre-tournament preparation. After that, his take on slow play, his dancing ability, and the latest installment takes on his former love, gymnastics.

The latest one might actually be my favorite. I really like his dedication to the craft.

(Also, for every 100K views this video gets, Farmers will donate $1000 to charity, so viewing it actually makes things better)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The New Bubba Watson Pink-Headed Driver

By now you've heard about the Bubba Watson driver from Ping that has a pink head and will donate plenty of money to charity.

If you don't know the details, you can check them out right here. But the above picture is from the great Alan Henry's Instagram account, and it is really, really awesome. That's the driver. Thing is a beaut.

Would you hit a pink-headed driver?

Tiger Woods is Already Annoyed By Your Hank Haney Book Questions

There are plenty of reasons for Tiger Woods to think the Hank Haney upcoming book is ridiculous. He already said how disappointed he was about it, but as with anything in the spotlight, the questions won't stop.

Woods was asked at his Tuesday press conference at the Abu Dhabi event about the Haney book once more, and his answers seemed more defensive about the question than the actual book being released next month.

"Certainly it's something that I have to deal with. I get asked at press conferences what these guys have done, and that's just part of it," he said. "Am I disappointed? Yes. Frustrated? Certainly, because I have to answer the questions. ... So I've answered them and I guess I'll have to continue doing it. Hopefully, this will come to an end." 

Things didn't stop there. Tiger was then asked later in the press conference if he, "ever think Hank could write a book about you?" He simply responded, "No." Then, the reporter followed that up with, "and why not," which he responded, "I don't know."

And the same reporter followed that up with a question on if this forces Tiger to not trust people as much as he used to, which he responded, "One might say that."

The best part? One more reporter stuffed his finger into the bullet wound that is the Haney book, asking what is so wrong about a book about Tiger's golf swing. Tiger answered, curtly, "I think I've answered all the questions already on that."

The thing is, Tiger must understand these questions won't stop. They won't. Like, at all. Expect questions lobbed your way about the Haney book up until the Masters, and maybe after.

The book isn't being released until March 27, so you'll definitely get some at Pebble Beach and then even more will flood your way after people get their hands on this paperback. Don't blame the media. It's your old teacher who is stirring the pot.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

This 'Shot of the Week' Should Probably Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Bill Clinton's Golf Game

You know how ESPN refuses to not show a LeBron James play when the Heat have a game on their Sportscenter Top-10? Every single time LeBron plays, he is in the highlights, even if it's some soft fingerroll in a blowout.

So when Bill Clinton linked his name to the Humana Challenge, and decided to play one of the days, you knew the golf world would focus on anything good he did. And from reports, that wasn't much, but it didn't stop the PGA Tour from making one of his putts a top-5 shot of the week. Don't believe me?! Watch below.

Hey, a two-putt is a two-putt! After the jump is a better description of the Clinton golf game.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Jack Nicklaus is 72 Today

Jack Nicklaus turned 72 today. 72.  A number that most golfers live their life around. A number that, in essence, is everything we sticks base our lives around. Are we under par or over par? Did we shoot even par? What are the leaders at?

Nicklaus is easily my favorite golfer of all time. The guy was everything you would want in a competitor at a time when golf was basically impossible not to watch. He battled Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Johnny Miller and Tom Watson. He showed brilliance at the age of 22 and 46, and put himself in contention at a major when he was 58. He hit the ball far, solid and was one of those rare people that not only wanted to have the last putt at a tournament, but wanted to have it because he knew he'd make it.

Many people have written tons of better tributes to Nicklaus over the years than my little spill here, but it's crazy to think that the Golden Bear is 72 and time just continues to muster on.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Sound Guy Gets Good Sound of Himself Eating It

I know we shouldn't laugh at people falling over. It's cruel, and childish and, frankly, immature. But come on! We always laugh at people falling over! It has been a tradition in this country that dates back to Christopher Columbus. Hell, the "Jackass" guys made themselves rich doing it.

So this sound guy at that Humana Challenge eating it while trying to get behind the players is just another episode of it in our long history.*

* -- Obviously we hope the guy is okay ... and if he is, you are now an Internet sensation! 

TIger Woods on Hank Haney Book: 'Unprofessional and Very Disappointing'

It figured when Tiger Woods first caught wind of the Hank Haney book about him, coming out on March 27, that he wouldn't be happy, but that would be typical for just about anyone hearing of a former coworker writing something about them.

But to hear Tiger speak up so quickly about it, and be so honest, was a real shocker considering his recent track record with revealing anything to the media. Tiger spoke with ESPN's Bob Harig about the book, titled "The Big Miss," and his words were very to the point about just what he thought of his former coach.
"I think it's unprofessional and very disappointing," Woods [said], "especially because it's someone I worked with and trusted as a friend." 
"There have been other one-sided books about me, and I think people understand that this book is about money. I'm not going to waste my time reading it ... I just think this book is very self-serving."
Haney, of course, was Tiger's swing coach for six years before the two split back in May of 2010, and the book he is coming out with is sure to have plenty of tidbits most don't get from outside the ropes of the Tiger camp.

Personally, I think it's complete bollocks that Haney would write this. Yes, making money on something is important, and we all do that with Tiger and his golf game/personal life, but I'm not sitting on Tiger's couch each afternoon chatting with him only to head home to my computer and type up the latest gossip. Haney was in his inner circle, and did hear things that Tiger, or anyone, wouldn't want relayed to the masses, yet he's going to be giving that all away in a book that Woods can't read before or ask for omissions.

I hope the book doesn't dive too deep into the personal stuff. I hope it is about his golf swing and the years as his coach and how Tiger handled certain things with him. Call him names. Poke fun at his personality complexes. Begrudge him for going weeks without contacting you. But I sure hope Haney doesn't break the man code he signed when joining Tiger as a coach and toss out everything he knows about the guy.

Other Golf Posts:
-- The many funny faces of Colin Montgomerie
-- Tiger Woods won't play with Tim Tebow, so which NFL quarterback is he linked with?
-- A blogger gets served by a golf club company

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Don't Mess With Rocketballz

When TaylorMade came out with the Rocketballz campaign, they promised the world that you'd gain 17 yards over your old three woods. It seems silly that they'd pick such a number, but after research from the company, they were confident with their claim, and even went with "Rocketballz" as the club name because they knew golf balls "rocketed" off the clubhead.

A fellow blogger over at MyGolf Spy thought it was ridiculous, and said so, telling the world if he gained that much distance with the club he'd shave a green "T" in the back of his head in honor of the company.

TaylorMade took the man up on his challenge, flew him from New York to Southern California, and after he 40+ yards with the new club, went to working on his 'do. The results are above, and one below. I sure hope they gave him a free cap for his flight home.

(Also, unrelated, if you ever need sports tickets, check out the new LavaTickets ... it's like TicketMaster only you don't have to use TicketMaster)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Who Doesn't Love Funny Colin Montgomerie Faces?!

I sure do ... and these are from his press conference at the Volvo Golf Champions. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tim Tebow a No-No ... Tiger Woods Picks Tony Romo

Oh, the pains of being the most recognizable athlete in the world. Tiger Woods, who has decided to tee it up at Pebble Beach for the first time in 10 years, was speculated to play in the pro-am with Denver Broncos sensation and muscle expert Tim Tebow, but those rumors have been pushed to the sides and Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys' version of Tebow, has stepped up.

Tiger is said to be paired with Romo at Pebble, according to multiple sources, and will definitely be the featured pro-am group Feb. 9-12. As you probably remember, Romo is a stick, and has attempted to qualify for both the U.S. Open and the Byron Nelson over the years.

The two will be a fun pairing, and makes a lot more sense than Tebow and Tiger anyway.

Now, for some other dream sports pairings:

-- Phil Mickelson and C.C. Sabathia
-- Jim Furyk and James Blake
-- Adam Scott and David Beckham
-- Camilo Villegas and Carl Edwards
-- Dustin Johnson and Andrew Bynum
-- Tadd Fujikawa and J.J. Barea

Okay, that's enough! Got anymore?

Related golf posts:
-- What went wrong with drug-busted golfer's interview?
-- What is the best course on tour, according to the players?
-- What did Steve Stricker do to a cameraman? 

Matt Every Was the Story of the Weekend

Normally the Hawaii golf swing brings us little to no breaking news. It's a nice time for champions to go on a vacation (and normally injury something) and rookies to get their season going at a nice course with beautiful weather. 

But the Sony Open provided us with some early season drama. First, came the unfortunate, and unprofessional, interview by one Kelly Tilghman. The go-to pun champion for the Golf Channel grilled first round leader Matt Every about his run-in with the law two years ago about marijuana possession, a crime these days that should be looked at the same as jaywalking. Sure, I know golf is a conservative sport, and any crime is a big deal (hell, Jeff Overton being drunk in public raised the golf world's eyebrows last season), but having weed on your person? That stuff is basically legal in most parts of the country, and while I hate drugs all together, I don't fault people for doing this, and especially someone that got in trouble for it two years ago! 

I thought the interview was a weak attempt at making a headline, and even worse, a terrible character move. You have a few minutes with a young kid happy as hell he's playing some good golf, and that's the place you move to? Could you imagine if Tilghman did this to Tiger Woods this season about the fire hydrant situation? It would never happen. 

On top of that, Every used that above putter all week that looked like he was putting with a dominoes case. Seriously, I nearly tweeted, "How high was Every when he made the decision to use that putter," but figured after the Tilghman stuff people might not catch my obvious sarcasm. 

The sad part about all this Tilghman stuff is that some at the Golf Channel blamed the internet (and Twitter!) for going up against their anchor. I don't mind anyone defending a coworker or friend, but to blame people for being upset that a golfer got bombarded for no reason by an interviewer with what obviously was no pre-interview preparation was very weak by my accounts, and obviously everyone else. 

I'll say this; I take stands on Twitter occasionally and 99.9 percent of the time have about half the people agree and half the people call me a moron. On this one, everyone thought the approach was bad taste. 

(Also, if you want a good transcript of the interview, check out Wall's GolfTube post from Monday.) 

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Thank the Heavens, Tim Tebow and Tiger Woods Pairings Rumors Dashed

Because there is no sport that can't avoid Tebowmaning, rumors started to swirl on Thursday that Tiger Woods and Tim Tebow might, possibly, hopefully, ohmygosh-y! be paired together at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

They started when Brian Hewitt of the Global Golf Post had everyone riled up with "highly placed sources" at the Pro-Am saying the partnership was likely if Tebow committed to the Pro-Am. Luckily for us, and by us I mean "golf writers that don't want to spend 1,800 words on Tebow like some of our colleagues, it doesn't seem like there is a shot in hell (heaven?) that this will happen, according to tournament director Ollie Nutt.

Via The Tour Report* ...
"We’re down to the last couple of spots," Nutt added. "There’s no hard, cast-in-stone date [for a decision] but with Tim still playing we probably won’t get his attention until that wraps up." 
There was also a report Thursday that should Tebow play, officials would like him to be paired with Tiger Woods. Nutt, however, said that is not the case.  
A more likely scenario would see Woods paired with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who is already committed to the tournament and has played with Woods before.

Whew. That makes my weekend just that much better. Also, it will probably be tough for the Super Bowl winning quarterback to make it to Pebble, but we can only hope! Yep, I went there.

* -- It probably says a lot about the Stephen Colbert influence that anytime I read "The Tour Report" I don't pronounce the final "T" in report.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Waste Management Comes out With Tourney App, More Reason Not to Watch Golf

I absolutely love the Waste Management Open like I love people that can ride tricycles; it's a strange little thing that you don't want to see often, but every once in a while is super cool. So when I heard, via the Tucson Citizen, that the WaMo decided to come out with an iPhone and Droid app, and that it was free, I quickly downloaded that bad boy, and am already excited to try it out.

Here are some of the features:

-- Daily features, along with a tab about the Thunderbirds and the tournament (As well as weather, and Coors Light Birds Next info).

-- A car finder tab, that can help you find your car in case you are too stupid/drunk to find it (and again, don't be the one DRIVING your car if you're too drunk, because you will surely get a one-stop ticket to Tent City, and that isn't some cutesy drinking tent near the 14th hole.

-- A link to social media, in case you're into that.

-- A coure hole description tab, always helpful if you're looking for friends.

-- A thing called "Take me There Navigation," that will give you actual walking directions to places in case you need to meet/find/search for someone.

-- And the best feature of all ... 16TH HOLE CADDY RACES INTERACTIVE! Yes, if you've ever been to the tournament, you know that the caddies in each group race to touch the green first. It is awesome, and people are betting all day long in stands on which caddie (defined by the color of their bib) will get there first. It's great to see them take off at a high speed and everyone cheers. Well, the app allows you to "bet" on the caddies, and you could win passes and tent tickets to next year's event. They'll have giveaways each day to the top-10 finishers, and makes it even more fun to sit on 16 and watch the golfers and caddies.

So, just go to the App World and download it. I've already tooled around with it and think it is going to be cool. Oh, and it's free, so that helps.

PGA Tour Players Tell Us Which Really Exclusive Courses Are Their Favorites

Most men that like sports and have ever sat down and churned out a bucket list have printed the words "Augusta" and "Cypress" before. They're the types of golf courses we mortals will never get our hands on, but want so desperately to see. Just once can we play the beauties, sweet golf gods?!

Golf World had a great idea of polling PGA Tour players and getting their thoughts on the best courses they are lucky enough to play each year, and the results are both interesting and satisfying. Here are the top-10, but please, go check out their full list right here.

1. Augusta National GC (Augusta, Ga., The Masters)
2. Harbour Town GL (Hilton Head Island, S.C., The Heritage)
3. Riviera CC (Pacific Palisades, Calif., Northern Trust Open)
4. Pebble Beach GL (Pebble Beach, Calif., AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am)
5. Colonial CC (Fort Worth, Tex., Crown Plaza Invitational)
6. Muirfield Village GC (Dublin, Ohio, The Memorial)
7. Shaugnessy G&CC (Vancouver, B.C., RBC Canadian Open)
8. Aronimink GC (Newtown Square, Penn., AT&T National)
9. Innisbrook Resort - Copperhead (Palm Harbor, Fla., Transitions Championship)
10. Congressional CC (Bethesda, Md., AT&T National)

I'm not totally sure which one of these surprises me the most. Maybe Harbour at number two, just because it is the week after the Masters? Or maybe the Canadian Open getting a nod?

In case you were wondering, Liberty National was No. 50 on the list, the last recorded course the poll did, so lock it up, Lady Liberty.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Video: Steve Stricker Even Gives Love to the Cameraman

Ahh, the cameraman. One of the most forgotten people in sports. They bust humps, give us great pictures, and carry heavy equipment all the time without every getting acknowledged. So when Steve Stricker gave the Golf Channel cameraman a fist bump after his second shot into the 17th hole at Kapalua on Monday, it was pretty special.

Here is the video. Nice move, Strick.

h/t Wallster

Luke Donald Prefers Quickies

The older I get, the more I've realized how much of a time commitment playing golf can be. You get out to the course early, hit balls, pay for the round, get a cart, go tee off, and by the time you're done, you've spent roughly the same amount of time on the links as someone flying from Los Angeles to New York. That, my friends, is a long day.

And for most of us that love golf, the time doesn't really matter. We're all glad to be out on the course, hacking it around, and yucking it up with our friends. But to watch someone play slow? That's another story, and that is what the PGA Tour has become.

Guys like Kevin Na, Ben Crane and Jonathan Byrd have taken an already slow activity and made it frame-by-frame, and a lot of people think it's a terrible thing for golf. One of those people? Luke Donald, world number one, who spent his Monday afternoon complaining about the turtle practice. His above tweet was what started it, but Donald continued, saying, "Can't really blame the officials, not enough of them to govern. Responsibility lies with the players and their caddies ... If u r second to putt, why not read your putt while the player 1 is reading his. 30 secs saved there = 35 mins saved for the round #simple ... I could rant all day long, don't think anything will ever change as the slow players don't realize they are slow."

Ahh, patient X, the slow player that thinks he is fast (luckily, we know that isn't Crane ... he even made fun of his slow play with a video).

Sadly, Donald is right. Nothing is going to change. After Luke went on his rant, Paul Azinger pointed out that since he was a rookie on tour, back in 1982, slow play has been an issue raised in meetings, so this isn't breaking news, but it is nice to see one of those biggest names in the game right now taking offense to an issue.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Steve Stricker Has Been Enjoying The Closing Stretch at Kapalua

If you have watched the 2012 Hyundai Tournament of Champions (or HYTOC for short), you know that Steve Stricker has played himself some solid golf, but how solid has it been?

Well this picture is his closing stretch over the first four days, meaning of the final four holes, Stricker is 11-under after three rounds (or 11-under on the last 12 holes). You know how a lot of people can't close out rounds? Stricker sure doesn't seem to be struggling with that problem at Kapalua.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Look Back at the Tiger Woods-Ernie Els Dustup at Kapalua

Tiger Woods has produced plenty of memorable moments in his career, but one of my favorites happened at the tournament that kicks off today in Hawaii. It was Tiger versus Ernie Els, matching eagle for eagle, birdie for birdie, and fist pump for, well, fist clench? Tiger ended up winning, per the career usual, but it was certainly entertaining to watch.

Check it out ...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

12 Things That Will Happen in 2012 (Which Probably Won't Happen)

Predicting things is dumb. Predicting things in golf is even dumber. So, obviously I'm going to predict some stuff. Take these things to the bank!!

1.) Tiger Woods will win a major. I really actually think this will happen. I like him at Augusta (obviously), and really think he can outthink most of the guys at Olympic Club, so I think he has a good chance. That is, unless he tries to hit a shot from under a tree and breaks his knee again. In that case, I retract this statement.

2.) Bubba Watson will continue to win -- I think he wins three times this season. I just like where he's at with his golf game, and I think he starts this week in Hawaii.

3.) Kyle Stanley will win twice -- I just have a hunch on this one. Plus, Kyle is really, really good. So that helps.

4.) Phil Mickelson will continue to struggle. Oh, and his shirts will continue to be a size and a half too small.

5.) Michelle Wie will have a monster season. Call it a hunch, but I think Stanford being in her rear view will be huge for Michelle, and the second part of the LPGA season will be hers to dominate.

6.) Luke Donald won't win both the money titles. THIS ONE IS A SPOILER ALERT!

7.) The majors will continue to be won by first-time winners. That is, about 75 percent of them. I think Tiger will snag one, as I said above, but I think most of them will be won by guys that have never won before. It's just too hard to win multiple majors right now and there are too many good players that can catch fire and hang on to win.

8.) There will be more 20-somethings winners than any other age this season. That's right, the youngsters are going to dominate!

9.) Sergio Garcia or Adam Scott will win a major. One of the two, just not sure which one. The good news is, stubble rules this one.

10.) The Americans will not win the Ryder Cup this year. The veterans are getting older, and the Europeans are getting tougher. I think this will be another Euro win.

11.) Johnny Miller and Nick Faldo in a booth will cause the moon to shift just a little. Bet on this. Free money.

12.) I will not qualify for the U.S. Open. Bummer on this one, for sure.

Getty Images

Tiger Woods Was A Honorary Captain for Stanford (And They Lost)

At the Fiesta Bowl on Monday, Tiger Woods was asked to be a honorary captain for the Stanford Cardinal, and he did just that, walking out with Andrew Luck and three other guys that aren't nearly as important as the first two. Tiger sported his usual amount of dorky (seriously, a white belt with jeans? What is this, '80s karaoke night?) and wasn't much help on the luck side (heyy-o) as Stanford fell in overtime to Oklahoma State.

The good news is, Tiger wasn't the only big name golfer in attendance. Michelle Wie was also there supporting her squad.

(Photos courtesy of Getty Images)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Jim Huber, RIP

You can always tell the impact certain people have on others during times of loss. People come and go all the time, and when the latter happens, we always reflect positively, but with some people, you just know the people speaking are being honest. When news broke that Jim Huber passed away, media people all around the world spoke of him as a broadcaster, writer and more importantly, friend. Here are a few of the ones I thought I'd share.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Huber's family. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Nike Dunk Now is Golf Appropriate

The trend started when adidas decided to bring their popular Samba shoe line to the golf course, and it has been a hit so far (definitely the most asked about shoes I have ever worn out to play a few holes), and now it's Nike that joins the party.

Their new Nike Dunks are available with spikes, and here is Anthony Kim and Paul Casey (?) to talk them up.