RICKIE TO BIG THREE:
NOT SO FAST!!!
“The Fowler is coming, the Fowler is coming!”
— Paul Revere
Under a sunny, late-summer Massachusetts sky, Rickie Fowler served notice to the Big Three. Fowler, who already owned the second-strongest title of 2015, survived some early breaks, then held serve on the 72nd hole to close out a tenacious Henrik Stenson to win the Deutsche Bank Championship, the second leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
5:33 pm Update
Rickie one up with two to go!
5:00 pm Update
Rickie one back with four holes to go in a two-horse race.
2:15 pm Update
There’s a long way to go, but we could end up with a very interesting two man competition between Stenson and Fowler.
Orange Is The New Cablanasian: Joseph Bramlett made the PGA Tour and will begin playing this fall. If you remember him being on Tour in 2011, you were probably as confused as I was when Golf Channel kept insisting he was “the first black player to make it to the Tour via web.com qualifying.” Talk about a stupidstic. Bramlett has already been on Tour, but he go there through Q School. His second time on Tour is, Golf Channel insists, historic because it was via web.com instead of the no-longer-possible Q School route. Hmmm… It’s a historic first, even though it’s his second time. Okay, Golf Channel, if you say so.
Anyway, that was not my reason for bringing up Bramlett. He was recently being interviewed by Golf Channel and was asked what he thought about being an “inspiration to African American kids.” He very politely replied that it was nice, but he hoped to be an inspiration to all kinds of people.
You sense Bramlett wants to focus on golf and keep his card and become a Tour fixture. Golf Channel wants to pigeonhole him as “the black guy who is not Tiger.” I wish him the best, and he will be a fun story to follow this fall. I was sorry to see him lose his card that last time. I hate to use this phrase, but here goes: I think Bramlett is “good for golf.” Having a non-freak-show black golfer on Tour would be a good thing for aspiring black golfers.
I think Bramlett (whose mom is white, by the way) will sidestep much of the “symbolism” that accompanied Tiger Woods. (In fairness to Tiger Woods, I don’t think he was ever really comfortable with that, and he didn’t seem to seek it out. On the other hand, he sure let Nike run with it. The funny thing is, Woods was not at all a trailblazer; blacks had been playing and winning on Tour for decades prior to Woods.) By not being pushed by media as “symbolic,” I think Bramlett has the capacity to be more symbolic. Woods was always ridiculously portrayed by the media as a sui generis uber golfer. You know the routine. “No one else could hit that shot!” “Other players fear him.” “He’ll win 30 majors.” Blah, blah, blah.
Woods was a one-off. An anomaly. Bramlett, on the other hand, could be a modest, workmanlike golfer who quietly goes about carving out an outstanding career.
Thought Experiment: Forget the scandals of Tiger Woods; imagine they never happened. If “boring” Matt Kuchar were black, would he have been better at attracting blacks to the game? His message: You don’t have to be part of an Nike/IMG circus to carve out a great living as a pro golfer. You can do it modestly and mostly out of the limelight. I guess another way to put that would be that if Calvin Peete had had his career concurrent with Woods, Peete would have been a far better role model. (And, remember, for this thought experiment, we are pretending Woods’s scandals never happened.)
Monday Finish: I have mixed feelings about this week’s Monday finish. It makes sense as far as the people attending in person. And I rather like it as the appetizer to tonight’s Ohio State game. On the other hand, it throws off the natural timing of a golf tournament. I didn’t watch much yesterday at all, but I checked the leaderboard last night. I thought, “Aww, too bad, Rickie almost caught Stenson. Oh, well, Henrik has been playing well and deserved the win.” Later, a commenter on here said something about things setting up for a great final round. Only then did I remember the tournament is not over!
Not My Job! I’m shocked at how little coverage the Rookie of the Year race has gotten this year. Berger and Thomas are going deep into the playoffs. Some others, too. I don’t think Brooks Koepka is considered a rookie, but I don’t know why. [Update: apparently last year was his rookie year, even though he didn’t have a card? If you play seven or more events, even if you don’t have a card, that’s considered your rookie year. I think…] Why doesn’t this get discussed on Golf Channel or during telecasts? (Here’s something online that is useful, if rather confusing.)
Speaking of Lack of Coverage… I’m still shocked at how rapidly Davis Love III’s becoming the third oldest PGA Tour winner was swept under the rug by the golf media.
Stray Comment, Apropos of Nothing: I am not a great player. I was never much more than a good, honest bogey player. So interpret this as you will: I don’t think a new ball or new clubs EVER improved my game. There was no correlation whatsoever. That said, I do think there was one equipment-related thing that helped: replacing grips. I was always one of those players who changed his grips once every… never. But the handful of times I changed grips, I could feel a dramatic improvement and had better results.
Semi Living Wage: In honor of Labor Day, Lanny H Golf will pay all our employees a living wage for today.
Sonny and Cher, Brad and Angelina, MD and Tiger: I was watching CNN when I remembered Morning Drive. I flipped to it and was informed it was Juniors Week. Not my cup of tea. I flipped back to CNN. Then, I laughed and thought, “How long until they talk about Woods as a junior”? I got distracted and didn’t pay attention, but there was a Woods mention at seven minutes after. Maybe it was the first, maybe no. Like Old Faithful, you can count on Morning Drive to mention Woods every few minutes. I flipped back to CNN.