Blogging the Presser (starting 3:00 pm EDT)
3:11 pm Update Golf Channel puts up a graphic with Tiger Woods in it.
3:10 pm Update Asking what major winners drink out of trophies is a question which has jumped the shark.
3:01 pm Update Tim Rosaforte has mentioned Tiger Woods (who is not even playing) four times in the first minute!
3:00 pm Update Here we go! Hold onto your seats!
12:30 pm Update: Looks Golf Channel has press conference coverage planed to 3:00 pm EDT, 2-1/2 hours from not. Maybe they’ll have Spieth on. I need a little something to up my pre-tourney interest level a little bit. To be honest, I’m kind of looking forward to fall football and a little break from golf. Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally fired up about Jordan going for his third major this year at Whistling Straits — and I love that course — and I inevitably follow the FedEx Cup playoffs even though football has started, and I’ll follow the fall season events if one interests me. However, that said, I’ve felt burnt out on golf a few times in the last month, and I think I’m ready for an extended vacation from the sport. Then, when January rolls around, I’ll read a book about, I don’t know, the origin of the old Clam Bake, way back in the day. And set my clock for the middle of the night to get up and watch Rory play Abu Dhabi and Dubai. And start counting the days until Jordan defends at Augusta.
Missing Rory: I think Rory is missed more in the WGC events than in majors. Majors are majors. Put Patrick Reed or Rickie Fowler in the running, and it’s a huge story. Rose or Adam Scott, and you have a guy looking to add to his total. An older guy, or an “unknown” having a great week, and it might be his one and only chance to win a major. Maybe you have a Kuch or Sergio trying to finally break through.
The attraction of these WGC events is the star-studded field, but they have limited fields without a cut. Reed or Fowler in the running isn’t the same as if it were a major. Bottom line: Without Rory, we are robbed of the game’s biggest name, and of a bunch of storylines, not the least of which is, as they pair by rankings, so Rory and Jordan would have been in the same grouping.
Limited-field events, by their nature, sacrifice quite a bit of excitement/buzz in a couple of ways. The limited field means play doesn’t cover the entire day. One thing I love about golf is how you wake up in the morning and guys are already on the practice range, teeing off when people are thinking about breakfast and coffee. Then there is the lack of a cut, which always adds a little spice to Friday. Also, the lack of a cut means guys completely out of the picture are still around, needlessly cluttering things up on the weekend.
But, then, these events are kind of scammy, anyway. Reality in golf doesn’t fit the Great Man theory. The fact it, the most-talented player isn’t going to win every week. If you don’t get the breaks, or if someone else gets more than his fair share, a less-talented player can win. What this means is that OWGR #300’s can beat all the players ranked above them during any given week. Leading us to this point: the size of the field has a huge impact on the difficulty of a tournament. A tournament of the top 70 players is easier to win than a tournament of the top 156 top-ish players.
These points lead us to the real Tiger Effect. The idea behind these tournaments was to make it easier for the “stars” to win events — weaker events that would be, ironically, sold as some of the strongest. And these events would ensure that Tiger Woods would be there all four days, where the golf media could put him on TV, in their obsessive manner, even when he had no bearing on the outcome. Thinking about that, it’s funny Woods isn’t even qualifying for the WGC events this year.
Olympics, Things a Man Would Never Say Department: A woman golfer, Cristie Kerr, just said on Morning Drive that winning the Olympics would be the pinnacle of her career, topping the two majors she has won (one of them a U.S. Open).
Prez Cup, What Does Tiger Need to do to Get a Captain’s Pick? Replace Jay Haas with Freddie Couples.
Wow, Jay Haas is actually still mentioning Woods’s name along with Mickelson’s. It will be refreshing to have a Ryder/Prez Cup team without Woods or Mickelson either one. I assume it would be the first time in a long time. On the downside, it’s a splash of cold water in the face telling me that some 20 more years of my life are behind me.
Olympics, Growing Golf, Tiger Woods, Etc. We hear about the exposure of the Olympics growing golf. This is supposed to be a universal good we all accept. But there are some contradictions in the narrative. Asian women are dominating the LPGA Tour, and the Power Elite are not all that happy about that development. The American golf media consistently pushes the big Nordic-type women in their promotions. (Michelle Wie is kind of a weird exception, in that she is Asian genetically, but quite tall, and pretty much the All-American girl in her personality and mannerisms. And, above all, she’s incredibly composed and well-spoken.) The point is that “growing the games” internationally via the Olympics is not likely to produce more Paula Creamers.
[A stray thought occurs: Is the PGA Tour’s ever-growing emphasis on distance a way to protect American/European Caucasian-type players since they tend on average to be somewhat physically larger?]
Of course, “growing the game” really means “the big manufacturers selling more gear to improve their bottom lines.”
Then the Morning Drive commentary about the Olympics bring casual sports fans to golf, well, that, to me, is a claim filled with holes. Are “sports fans” really even the audience for the Olympics? Isn’t a high percentage of the audience watching because the Olympics are presented as a kind of Hallmark Movie Channel offering? “Here’s little Kimmy, her mother drove her 85 miles every morning at 4:00 am to take her to gymnastics practice, and now there’s her mother in the stands, watching Kimmy go for a medal in the Olympics, thousands of miles from that dark and cold of old Highway 52.”
I’m a sports fan, but I hardly watch the Olympics. All I can remember in the past decade or two is watching is curling. Why? Because I watch CNBC (NBC’s financial channel a fair amount, and during the Olympics, NBC uses the channel to show some of the “off” sports. And isn’t that going to be golf’s fate, to be shown on a secondary or tertiary channel of the NBC family? Is some theoretical “casual sports fan” going to watch golf on CNBC rather than women’s gymnastics on NBC? Oh, and by the way, even though I have seen a lot of curling over the past decade, I’ve yet to develop a hankering to play.
I’m sure some will say, Lanny, you are always so negative about everything. You even criticize the Olympics! But the thing is, if you are positive about everything, you are positive about nothing. The focus should be on things like Jordan Spieth going for the Grand Slam. On the majors. How about taking this publicity wasted on the Olympics and put it toward restoring the West Coast early year events to prominence? The Masters are a big deal in golf. The Olympics are not.
Vagina Watch: I notice Bailey Mozier wears “cave woman” skirts almost every day. For some reason, they are cut uneven at the bottom, the cuts slanting from side-to-side. I guess the purpose is to make the eye notice something out of the ordinary and bring the focus to her vagina — in case the short skirt alone didn’t do it. The NBC family of networks seems to have full-force gone into this vagina focus. On CNBC this morning, Michelle Cabruso-Cabrera was filling in for Andrew, and they had a three-person panel discussion shot with Michelle in the middle. There was no table, just the three of them sitting in chairs and the camera was level with the seats of the chairs. In other words, it was perfectly placed so people would watch to see if Michelle, sitting with uncrossed legs, might offer a beaver shot.
NBC’s legitimacy is in total freefall. Their content is so awful they are fighting tooth-and-nail not to lose their final constituency: peeping Toms.
One Last Olympic Golf Thought: For rank-and-file Americans, is any amount of flag-waving over golf in the Olympics going to undo two decades of nonstop Only Tiger Matters propaganda from the media? “We were just kidding with our Tiger obsession. What really golf interesting is an unknown 5-handicap from Malaysia.”