8:05 am Update: Here we go! Rory’s first shot is long and in the fairway. Rickie hits one past him. Kaymer may have passed both of them. It’s a par-5. I wouldn’t mind seeing three eagles.
6:00 am: I think I’ll start the day with an embedded Friday Thoughts:
Sleeping Beauty: Glad I slept in this morning. I thought GC’s early coverage of the Irish Open today was going to be live, but it’s a repeat of Rory from yesterday. Shows Golf Channel/ETP are at least somewhat Rory-centric, which is a good thing, I suppose, if it inspires them to provide additional live coverage. Live starts at 8:00 am EDT today.
Rock ‘n’ Woods: I recently stumbled upon an interesting hometown (so to speak) piece about Rock Ishii, the man who engineered the six-to-eight-yard-longer — as well as straighter — golf ball Tiger Woods used to win three majors in 2000. (Other golfers did not get the ball until the following year.) “The Man Behind Nike Golf’s Transformational Golf Balls – Rock Ishii, OGA Member.”
Ishii designed the first Nike golf ball which was used by Tiger Woods in his 15-stroke victory at the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. “That was an historic and transformational moment for the golf ball industry,” says Ishii. It was also the year the wound ball would disappear; more than 100 years after it (the Haskell ball) was invented.
A huge deal was made out of the “Tiger Slam” — I remember Woods himself arguing (increduously) that it qualified as a Grand Slam — but now it just seems bogus and corrupt. It was the period when the fawning golf media acquired their “when, not if” certainty that Woods would blow away Jack’s majors record. Frankly, they were insulting to Nicklaus and the legacy of the game. Now we know that period of “dominance” was tainted. Not illegal or outside the rules, but tainted. The storyline at St. Andrews should have been how the Rock Ishii ball gave Woods a startling advantage over the field; instead, the storyline was Woods’s “greatness” and “dominance.”
The Worst of Times, The Worst of Times: Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but it seemed like many of my favorites played like crap yesterday. Front and center is Rory, but he was not the only one. I tipped Patrick Rodgers to play well at the Byron Nelson two weeks ago; it looked good for a while, but then he turned a -2 into a +2. In my defense, how was I to know this Stanford product would be unable to avoid the water on the left on No. 10? I mean, hit it right and your “hazard” is the 15th fairway. So he pulls one left into the water… Spieth didn’t exactly shoot lights out, but he did no harm, either. Grillo is up near the top on the Euro leaderboard; I hope he can eliminate his weekly bad round and contend all the way through Sunday. Roberto Castro got into the Nelson as one of the replacements for the twelve pros who withdrew; he played decently, finishing at -1 and T-33. Fleetwood continuing his recent good form.
Beards: Shane Lowry has the best beard in pro golf. There aren’t many beards, though. Lucas Glover played well a few seasons ago when he had one. Graeme McDowell has one, but it doesn’t dominate his face, being light in color and neatly-trimmed. There’s Molinari and who else? Not many others. Anyway, it’s a great look for Lowry, reminiscent of Old Tom Morris’s era. Like distinctively-colored clothes, a beard can help with player identification.
So much for thoughts, Irish Open live coverage just started. Semi Live Blog time!