U.S. Open, 1995 Style: I thought I’d watch a few minutes of last night’s replay of the 1995 U.S. Open on the Golf Channel; I wound up watching the full two hours. Impressions: the galleries following Norman were massive; there was none of the idiotic screaming after tee shots (and this was New York!); focused coverage without distractions, i.e., very few graphics and no meaningless stupidstics; Mickelson put a long lag put up to about a foot from the hole… as the putt slowed and came to a rest, someone shouted, “Nice putt, Phil,” a shockingly sensible thing to shour; Mickelson, playing hatless, referred to as “young Phil Mickelson”; Tom Lehman, a big guy who played basketball in high school, two decade’s before “today’s new athletes in golf” who are generally smaller and have played only golf seriously; a reference to a target pace of three hours and 40 minutes; Pavin’s joyous celebration — unscripted and non-demeaning to other players — after his shot into No. 18.
Ofttimes, we think, Has it really been twenty years? Watching the tournament last night, it felt like it had been more than twenty years. I guess it’s because golf coverage has changed so much — and not for the better. I wish Golf Channel would show a lot more of these classic tournaments; I much prefer those to the reality show contests that seem to dominate their evening programming.
Wei Over Europe: Don’t forget to follow Stephanie Wei as she covers the European PGA Championship and the start of the Irish Open. She’s making a big deal out of being able to use Periscope with the blessing of the European Tour. Predictable, but only slightly annoying. More important is having an American who generally covers stateside events expanding her territory and giving us bonus coverage of these next two Euro events.
BMW Euro PGA Championship Coverage: Have you seen how much time Golf Channel is devoting to this event? Eight hours of live coverage on both Thursday and Friday! It starts at 5:00 am EDT on those two days. There’s weekend coverage, too, of course. Morning Drive has semi-disappeared this week; I applaud Golf Channel for putting live coverage ahead of everything else. Rory tees off 1-1/2 hours before coverage starts on Thursday; his Friday round should be shown in full.
Colonial: Colonial is the best course on the PGA Tour. It’s really great that Jordan Spieth is from Texas and intent on playing the Texas events. They had losing their luster — especially the Hogan and Nelson — and Jordan’s rise to prominence and loyalty to the events is a real boost to them. Watch Patrick Rodgers these next two weeks: I don’t expect much out of him at Colonial, but I expect him to contend next week at Las Colinas.
Reed: I was sorry to see Patrick Reed will not be playing the Irish Open (nor the European PGA Championship) after all. The illness of a relative is keeping him on U.S. soil. He has entered the Colonial (and the Nelson next week?) instead. I wonder if Spieth did any arm-twisting.
Rory’s Apparel: I have very little interest in clothing, and it is distressing how much attention is given to what a player is going to wear weeks before big events. It’s obviously advertising for the clothing manufacturers, and yet the golf media propagates it as if it were news. That said, I have noticed Rory has taken to wearing a lot of light colors and often has white pants. I heard this referred to as “European look” by one of the announcers last week. I like it for a couple of reasons: (1) It makes him easier to identify when NBC/Golf Channel show him only milliseconds before he plays a shot; (2) It is symbolic of a purer, fresher vibe surrounding the PGA Tour these days. It seems like very few other players wear white pants. There are exceptions, of course; I think Billy Horschel wears white pants a lot. My thinking is: the more variation, the better, as it makes player identification much easier. Patrick Rodgers’ bright yellow shirt made him instantly recognizable last week.
ESPN Inaccurate? I’m shocked, I tell you: From an ESPN article:
Twelve months ago, to the very day, Rory McIlroy cut a forlorn figure as he addressed the world’s media ahead of the 2014 BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, fumbling through a poorly pieced-together reasoning for breaking up with tennis ace Caroline Wozniacki.
McIlroy was, at that point, winless in 18 months. Relationship issues, off-course differences with his management and a much-scrutinised switch from Titleist to Nike equipment seemingly rendered him ineffective from tee to hole. Many questioned whether we had seen the best of McIlroy.
Of course, McIlroy had won the Australian Open the prior December. And it was a victory that really enlivened and encouraged him:
“I had a terrific experience last year in front of great crowds. They really loved the showdown between myself and Adam. And it proved to be a really important win for me. I believe my return to form was given real momentum in Australia last year.”
What ESPN wrote makes for a good tale, but, I’m sorry, you just can’t make up facts to improve your story. While there is something of the true-ish about the article, it’s not true. Aside from the deletion of the Australian Masters win, Rory had also finished T-2 at Dubai and lost the Honda in a playoff, two results which also undermine the ESPN story.