7:20 pm Update: Just read a Daily Telegraph article that has this line about Tiger Woods’s recent 85: “A score that doesn’t win the Wednesday chook run at Dimboola Public.“
No idea what it means, but it’s funny!
6:00 pm Update: Huge win for Fabian Gomez. A life-changing win. He is 36 years old, and this is his third time to make it to the PGA Tour. I’m not sure of his history of playing majors, but he’ll be at Augusta next spring!
- 2011: PGA Tour
- 2012: web.com
- 2013: PGA Tour
- 2014: web.com
- 2015: PGA Tour
- 2016 and 2017: PGA Tour!!!
Congrats to Inbee Park. I was for S.Y. Kim today, but it’s great to Inbee picking up another major.
12:20 pm: Eye on the Women: I am rooting for S. Y. Kim today. After watching her dramatic prime time win at the Swinging Skirts, I became a huge fan. Sorry, Mister Fowler, but I think your drama at the Players was trumped by that finish of S. Y. Kim. Now, if you had aced No. 17…
More from that same Damron article:
It’s doubtful that history will consider him the best golfer of all time, but I can say with absolute certainty that at his best, no one played golf as well as Tiger. Not even close. He came as close to golfing perfection that week as anyone else ever has. If you don’t believe me, all you need to do is watch the highlights from the 2000 U.S. Open, and my case is closed.
If you are basing your case on the Rocki Ishii-ball 2000 US Open, your case is going to be thrown out of court. Oh, well, it’s probably considered daring to suggest Woods “probably” won’t be considered best of all time.
11:00 am Update: More Golf Media Idiocy: Is it required to be brainless to become a mainstream golf reporter? Robert Damron for Fox Sports wrote this:
Brandel Chamblee said Tiger has brought this on himself and that he’s to blame for destroying his game by changing his swing too many times. As another golfer who saw Tiger at his best, I totally agree. I’ll never understand why he changed his game after playing better than anyone in history
(1) He played “better than anyone in history” thanks to having the Rock Ishii ball a year earlier than everyone else, and Tiger Woods well knew that at the time.
(2) You’ll never understand? Here, let’s see if these words from Tiger Woods himself help:
In December 2002, after playing in pain for much of the season, Woods underwent knee surgery in Utah to remove fluid and another cyst. This time during the operation, doctors noticed that Woods’ anterior cruciate ligament was significantly stretched. After being informed of the discovery, Woods told friends in the post-operating room that he had to change his swing. “I really had no choice,” he says today.
So: He really had no choice, due to the injury and operation. There ya go, Mr. Damron, now you understand! To quote Bubba, You’re welcome!
10:45 am Update: Dueling Sabbaticals: From the New York Daily News. Contrast this to the way Woods’s sabbatical was reported. Recall that in both cases, the players’ management and the PGA Tour said there was no suspension:
It’s similar with the ultra-talented Dustin Johnson. His leave of absence, allegedly for drug rehab though repeatedly denied by himself and the PGA Tour, didn’t adversely affect his relationship with the galleries when he won Doral.
For Woods, that would have been reported simply as, “His self-imposed leave of absence didn’t adversely affect…”
7:30 am: OLD GUNS: I’m reading Shane Ryan’s brand new book, “Slaying the Tiger,” and one theme that runs throughout the book is how little access golf reporters have to the players. That was surprising to me. Even reporters for the biggest sports outlets find it difficult to impossible to get interviews.
I knew Tiger Woods was isolated from the world, and that reporters had little access to him — thus, reports from Tim Rosaforte like “a member at Isleworth said Woods played 27 holes and had nine birdies” — but I always assumed Rosaforte or Kelly Tilghman or Steve DiMeglio or any of the national writers could talk to most other players any time they wanted as long as they didn’t interfere with their preparation. I would have thought a Keegan Bradley, say, and his management team would have been elated for him to get any kind of additional media attention.
I can see the logic from the standpoint of a known “star”; his management doesn’t want the golfer to say anything that would undo an elaborate PR push to define the golfer favorably in the public eye. But most players, especially as we leave the All Tiger All The Time era, don’t have much of a public persona at all.
A few thoughts have occurred to me. If these reporters have so little access to the players, whey do they waste their rare opportunities by asking such lame questions at press conferences? Also, many players have quite small turnouts at press conferences. If you are not going to go to a Henrik Stenson press conference, why should he bother with giving you a one-on-one interview?
Shane Ryan, as a “little guy,” struggled mightily to get access to players. Unlike many reporters, he made a point of going to press conferences. He was still regularly rebuked by players when he sought short interviews.
Anyway, the point is that today’s golf reporters have surprisingly little access to players. With that in mind, consider this from Ryan’s book, from an excellent chapter which discusses “needle moving”:
It doesn’t take a genius to see how this becomes a vicious cycle — if you tell casual fans only about Tiger, Rory, and Phil, they’ll only know — and care — about Tiger, Rory, and Phil.
He then writes about why this happens. (He limits his definition of “mainstream outlets” to general sports media — ESPN and the like — but the mainstream golf outlets do the same thing.) He says the advertisers must be placated, so the Nielsen television ratings and pageview metrics must be kept up, so the editors tell the writers to cover “needle movers.” (So much for separation of church and state…) He wraps it up with this:
Jobs are at stake, and making an ethical stand is a poor career move. More than ever before, writers can be replaced, but traffic cannot.
This is where the Old Guns come in. By Old Guns, I mean older people, who are retired or close to it, whose chase for the Almighty Dollar is behind them. They aren’t afraid of losing a job. They don’t want one! Or, at least, they don’t want — and certainly don’t need — a job as a sports reporter. (The Old Guns idea would apply to areas outside of sports, too.)
Here’s what I’m getting at:
- “Real” golf reporters don’t have much access to the golfers they cover; by and large, they get their information from the same places we do. Press conferences, tweets, television interviews, and the occasional player interviews that show up from time to time in print media. They can no more pick up the phone and call Jason Dufner or Matt Kuchar for a quick comment than you or I can. Spieth and Rory? Forget about it.
- Everything they write goes through the filters of Keep My Job, Please My Boss, and Make Advertisers Happy.
Here’s my point: We “Old Guns” — and you don’t really have to be old to be an Old Gun — are not dependent on our golf commentary to put food on our tables. Therefore, advertisers, bosses, and paychecks don’t control our writing. We are able to write the truth about any topic we desire; we don’t care if Nike or TaylorMade likes it. We don’t fool ourselves that one day a Hunter Mahan or Patrick Reed will sit down for a one-on-one interview if only we toe the line. (The “real golf reporters” won’t get the interviews, either, unless the golfer is plugging something and finds the reporter useful in that endeavor.)
To sum up, and this is a topic I’ve just started thinking about, those of us who write serious commentary at golf websites (which often gets deleted by those concerned with advertisers, bosses, and paychecks) or write free WordPress blog entries from 286 DOS PCs in our basements have an advantage over the “real golf writers.”
We have no restraints due to financial considerations; we don’t have to sing for our supper. And we have damn near the same access to the players as any of the writers being paid to cover golf.
So, now and in the future, can’t “hobbyist” sportswriters be expected to provide most of the meaningful journalism? The big commercial outlets have become extensions of the marketing departments of their advertisers and the PR machine of the athletes they cover. The mainstream outlets have been reduced to serving up ever more sizzle — and ever less steak — in an attempt to get the LCD to buy their advertisers’ products.
[Guys like Shane Ryan, for whom I do have admiration, are trying to keep a journalistic separation of church and state, I suppose, but as long as they are writing for money, they are at a huge disadvantage to the Old Guns. Consider someone like Geoff Shackelford. From what I understand, he used to be something of a rebel, but now that he does his weekly bit on Golf Channel, his views are indistinguishable from those of the Tilghmans and Hacks and Rymers.]