It was nice sleeping late this morning. (Well, later. Ole Lanny always beats the sun up by hours.) After live-blogging tournament action from the Middle East eight of the past ten days, I was ready for a respite. But there is no rest for the weary, and this week we will be live-blogging the biggest tournament of the year to date. The Dubai Desert Classic starts Wednesday and features the world’s best two players: Rory McIlroy (OWGR #1) and Henrik Stenson (OWGR #2). Also in the field: Sergio Garcia (6), Martin Kaymer (12), Graeme McDowell (15), and Victor Dubuisson (17), and eight additional top 50 players. Three of the world’s top six players will be at Dubai; contrast to the American PGA’s event, which has only Bubba Watson from the top six.
I’m not complaining about my lack of sleep, mind you. I gladly miss a few hours of bedtime to watch the best golf action of the first part of the year. The three-week Desert Swing really starts the year off with a bang. With the move of the WGC Match Play to May, the Desert Swing is clearly the crown jewel of the first two months of the year.
Today’s American PGA event, the Bob Hope Desert Classic, promises an exciting finale with four players tied for the lead and four others a single stroke back. I’d love to see Erik Compton pick up his first PGA Tour title. If not Compton, a win by 21-year-old rookie Justin Thomas would be nice to see.
I’m not much of a fan of televised Senior Tour golf (sorry, I don’t call it Champions Tour). I think it’s great to attend in person, but I just don’t care enough about the results to pay any attention to it on television, not even their so-called majors. However, there is one player I like to follow: Esteban Toledo. He was something of a journeyman player on the PGA Tour for eight years. I first heard of him, as did some of you perhaps, from reading Michael D’Antonio’s Tin Cup Dreams, which came out in 2001. Toledo grew up in extremely poor circumstances in Mexico, swimming across a river to caddy at a local golf course. D’Antonio’s chronicle of Toledo shows what life is like on the PGA Tour for the non-stars, the guys just trying to scrape out a living.
So now I find myself following Toledo on the Seniors Tour, hoping he rakes in some of the professional golf money he’s been chasing his entire life. Last night, I stumbled upon Toledo playing his last couple of holes in Hawaii on Golf Channel’s live telecast. He’s unlikely to win, but he might pick up a decent check. To me, that’s the appeal of Seniors Tour golf. Couples and Watson and Pavin and O’Meara, they made a fortune on the PGA Tour. Toledo has a much more concrete need to do well in these tournaments.
After last night’s finish, GC interviewed Toledo. He told how happy he was that day to finally get to play with Tom Watson, and he relayed a story of how as a teenager he had played a round with Ben Crenshaw. Good stuff. Call me crazy, but I’d much rather cheer for a journeyman golfer who once lived in poverty and swam across a river to caddy than a guy raking in the big bucks for making Mitsubishi commercials. (Couples is very much a part of the Golfdashian Clan, so money finds its way to him.)
As I watched last night, they cut to a photo of a post-round Miguel Jimenez eating. He had a beer beside him, which the announcers made certain to mention. I can’t recall such an image being broadcast before. It’s certainly not common. It was just a brief shot, but added to the flavor of the telecast.
As I watched, Golf Channel ran a promotional for today’s final round of the Hope Desert Classic. It featured Phil Mickelson and went something like, “Can Phil Mickelson catch the leader?” I just checked, and Phil Mickelson is T-34, six shots back. We are asked to suspend all disbelief when it comes to the Golfdashian Twins.
Kudos to Feherty. I’m not a Feherty fan. Perhaps when you were young, you owned every album released by some rock band or other. All four of them. When they released their fifth, you immediately bought it. You told yourself you liked it. Then you bought their sixth. You told yourself you liked it, but you knew better. You skipped their seventh and all the others that followed. You moved on to other musicians. I can’t remember whether I ever really cared for David Feherty, but I do know I didn’t always find him as tedious and distracting as I do now.
But, wait, I started this with, “Kudos to Feherty.” Okay, his two nights of live broadcasts this week from Phoenix strike me as a good thing. I won’t watch; I simply have no interest. (Well, I guess I might watch if something so idiotic was planned I thought it might be worth writing about here.) But I thought about the sports of which I’m only a marginal fan, and that if a John McEnroe hosted such a live event as Feherty is doing, I might watch. So maybe there is some demographic — of which I’m not a part — that will find Feherty’s live shows this week worth watching, and, who knows, perhaps rekindle their interest in golf. (By the way, I’m not part of the “we need to grow golf” crowd. I’m the antithesis of that, really; those guys mean “more money in my pockets” and care nothing about the game itself. I’m just suggeseting some guy might benefit personally by pulling his clubs out of the closet for a round or two with his friends or coworkers, or by finding a sport to follow now that football is ending.)