New Orleans: This week’s New Orleans Open is a tournament where I’ll have to wait for a story to develop before gaining much enthusiasm. I suppose my primary rooting interest is Justin Thomas, and among the top dogs, Jason Day. In my opinion, Fowler needs to start winning to avoid the “fate” of Charles Howell III. (That’s not really a slam on CHIII, just a statement about how successful he has been without lifting many trophies.) There are some other stories: If DJ wins, or at least contends, he’ll be continuing a tremendous year, and Rose’s game seems to finally be coming around. But I’ll have to wait to see what develops on the weekend before I start jumping up and down about this one.
WGC Match Play: Part of the reason I am not that enthused about New Orleans is that the Match Play is next week. That’s been my favorite event for several years now. I hate this year’s calendar change, and I am no fan of the format change, but I’m willing to give the latter a shot. The more I think about the new format, the more I am warming to it. I’m not saying it’s better; nothing can top the drama of 32 win-or-go-home matches. However, with the new format, there will be 32 matches for each of the first three days. And while they won’t necessarily be win-or-go-home matches, most of them will matter. (I’m sure we’ll have several pointless 0-2 vs 0-2 Friday matchups.) Monday’s selection of the groupings is the worst kind of gimmickry, but it’s no worse than 99 percent of the hokum in sports these days. I’m actually looking forward to it; it will force the golf media to discuss players they never discuss.
Shackelford and Porter and Tiger, Oh, My: Shackelford is on Morning Drive as I type. His first topic? Tiger Woods. Kyle Porter wrote seven blog pieces yesterday; four were about Tiger Woods. I still go by CBS to see what Porter has posted, but I don’t click on many of the articles any more. It’s pointless. He writes trolling click-bait articles. Even when he writes something of interest, he turns it into Tiger Troll click-bait. Case in point, yesterday’s article ostensibly about the Irish Open. He puts Woods in the headline for trolling reasons. I don’t even bother to open the article, even though it’s something I’m interested in. I have noticed of late that his Woods click-bait articles are getting hardly any comments, which has a pretty tight correlation with the number of readers.
By the way, I watched most of Morning Drive this morning, and I don’t think Jordan Spieth’s name was mentioned even once. Tiger Woods, on the other hand…
The Only Logical Conclusion For Woods “Self-Imposed Hiatus”: How can a thinking person come to any conclusion other than Woods is serving a non-suspension suspension? You know, the kind of move-along-no-suspension-to-see-here suspension Dustin Johnson got.
I bring this up because Morning Drive is repeating a Big Story that Woods told Jack Nicklaus at the Masters he would be playing Memorial. That raises this question: How could Tiger Woods know at the Masters that he would be playing Memorial, but still remain uncertain if he would be at the Players?
The entire premise of this Woods charade is based on him being uncertain if he can play or not. Maybe it’s physical, maybe it’s mental, maybe he just needs a swing tip or two, but it’s not, repeat not, a suspension. Finchem and Steinberg are adamant about there being no suspension. The same way Finchem and DJ were adamant that DJ wasn’t suspended. Wink, wink.
I’m very suspicious of Woods’s case of the “yips.” You see, if Woods was in a period of conditional suspension, he would have to return any money won at tournaments during that time. You can’t return money and stay under the radar. That ain’t happening. Best to develop the “yips” and ensure you don’t win a penny.
Why would anyone do this, you ask? Because Woods and Steinberg knew what a joke DJ’s “self-imposed” exile was, and they didn’t want a repeat with Woods.
What seems logical now is that after those two events, Woods and Finchem met, and Finchem told Woods he was going to have to give him a non-suspension suspension, to end at the Players. Woods would still be able to play Augusta, because that is not an event run by the PGA Tour.
That was when Olsen, the former Tour player, spilled the beans that the players on the PGA Tour had figured out or heard Woods was serving a suspension. Steinberg and Finchem erupted with great indignation because Woods was NOT serving a suspension. He was serving a gentleman’s agreement non-suspension suspension. That’s the point of the non-suspension suspensions: deniability.
If you think all this is far-fetched and a “conspiracy theory,” take a gander at this, from a San Francisco Chronicle article about Barry Bonds:
Team management wondered what exactly he had done to so strikingly reshape his body, but the excerpt suggests owner Peter Magowan and other Giants officials “had no interest in learning” whether he was using steroids.
What is fairness and honesty when there is money to be made! Anyway, that’s how I see it. If Woods skips the Players, that would be very odd indeed. Why wouldn’t he play, and why would Finchem set Woods’s banishment period to prevent Woods from playing in Finchem’s pet tournament? If Woods does play, one thing can be certain: the “announcement” will walk all over either this week’s New Orleans Open, or next week’s WGC Match Play.
Golf Digest in a Nutshell: When I was looking up a factoid pertaining to the above section, I encountered this sentence in a new Golf Digest article:
“Here’s the clip of Jack talking about talking to Tiger at the Masters.”
Maybe now they can show us “the clip of Morning Drive talking about Jack talking about talking to Tiger.”
Swinging Skirts: I like when the LPGA is on the west coast. They make a great television option for evening viewing. Lydia Ko is back in competition this week and is the defending champion.
DiMarco: Good stuff on Morning Drive with Chris DiMarco on as a guest(?) prior to his playing today in the New Orleans Open. A realistic, honest glimpse into the mood/atmosphere when participating at a PGA Tour event. Despite the hushed tones and reverential openings on television, at heart golf is just a game played by guys who try their best and hope for the best. And have fun doing so.