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Golf Coverage a la Jersey Shore

When Doctor Christiaan Barnard performed the world’s first heart transplant in 1967, oddly enough the anaesthesiologist in the OR wasn’t swarmed by reporters looking for interviews…except perhaps, the cub reporter from the Gas Passer’s Gazette.

 When Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon in 1969, the NASA tech responsible for fuelling up the Apollo 11 rocket wasn’t swarmed by a media scrum looking for his insights… except perhaps, the cub reporter from the Gas Passer’s Gazette.

And when Billy Jim Joe Bob Merkin set a new Guinness Book record for consuming the most baked beans in a single sitting in 1987, the bathroom attendant at Norm’s Exxon Station and Good Eats didn’t find himself with dozens of microphones shoved in his face…instead, he was faced with just the single tape recorder of the cub reporter from the Gas Passer’s Gazette.

So then, when Adam Scott scores one of the biggest wins in his professional golfing career, why is the “big story” about Scott’s caddy and not about his own very impressive accomplishment?

Sadly folks, that’s exactly the kind of pap the media believes you want; snarkiness trumps substance, controversy trumps clean living, disrespect trumps courtesy, braggadocio trumps achievement.

It’s the kind of thinking that has had your TV listings loaded with bowls full of mindless crap like Big Brother, the Real World, the Real Housewives of (take your choice of cities), Flavor of Love, Bachelor Pad, Hell’s Kitchen, Hoarders and Jersey Shore. 

It’s TV programming targeting the lowest common denominator…a growing, seething mass with an apparently insatiable hunger for all things repugnant.   

Someone toiled for years, developing their skills, paying their dues and finally earned a huge victory?  That’s not much of a story.  Our readers/viewers/listeners want controversy, damn it! 

Go out and find me some repulsive bottom-feeders and get a camera on them, stat!  I want rude, crude, obnoxious, illiterate, grade-10 drop-outs, with loud voices, a poor command of the English language, an abundance of disrespect for everyone else, volcanic tempers and incredibly short fuses.  Find me the dregs of humanity and then find the people they can legitimately look down on!

Now THAT’s entertainment folks!

For some reason, I thought the gentlemanly game of golf was above all that.  To my great dismay, it seems that I couldn’t be more wrong.

All of this isn’t to say that Adam Scott’s caddy is any of those things…because he isn’t.  But the storyline that is being pursued in the media this week is a worthy addition to the mindset permeating the creation and evolution of these types of shows.  And if you think that it’s just a handful of daily newspapers and tabloid TV shows, who generally treat golf like a third-world sport, that are spinning the story in this way, consider this; 6 of today’s top 10 headlines on The Golf Channel’s website are about Steve Williams. Not Adam Scott.

How sad.  How predictable.

For his part, I’ll be the first to admit that Williams bears little responsibility for this overwhelming media attention.  He didn’t seek the interviews, he merely accepted them.  However, what he did when presented with the opportunity to speak was particularly distasteful. 

Rather than thanking his talented new boss for the wonderful opportunity for employment and praising that boss for a remarkable week of skilled golf, it was all about Steve.  “I’m a great front-runner,” “I’ve had 145 wins now,” this is my most satisfying win,” “this is the greatest week of my life,” “I have a great belief in myself.”

If you listened very carefully you could actually hear the directors in the CBS production trailer whooping and high-fiving and congratulating each other on fully exploiting the situation and turning it into a carnival sideshow before anyone else could.  For the sake of my own very high opinion of him, I sincerely hope that David Feherty rushed to the locker rooms and had two showers as soon as the interview was over. 

Adam who?

When I first heard that Williams was going to work full-time for Scott, I admit I had some fixed feelings about the duo.  I’ve always really enjoyed watching Scott play and have a healthy respect, not just his considerable skills, but for the kind of person he is; humble, friendly, courteous, polite and respectful.  Perhaps a new caddy, used to performing at the highest level, could finally help Scott realize his potential as a golfer…a potential no one could argue he’s reached yet.

Williams, on the other hand, has done little to endear himself, other than caddying for a series of winning players.  Over the years he has been known to be rude and obnoxious on the golf course, with a few moments of mild violence thrown in for good measure (focused mostly on people with cameras). 

In fairness, I imagine that if I had to work in the kind of pressure-cooker atmosphere Williams has been subjected to over the past dozen years or so, I might just turn into a bit of a prick as well.

Still though, in my mind seeing Scott team up with Williams feels a bit like George Bailey going to work with Mr. Potter in “It’s A Wonderful Life”…or, for the younger readers, Harry Potter partnering up with Lucius Malfoy.

The combination just doesn’t feel right, somehow.

The last word I’ll offer on the subject is this; a message to Adam Scott.  Adam, you played a fantastic week of golf and overcame the very best talent on the planet.  Despite what you’ve heard since, and regardless of how much your caddy may or may not have influenced your play, YOU are the one who made the shots, conquered the personal doubts, proved mentally tougher and more talented than anyone else.  You earned the victory and you should be very proud of it. 

And shame on everyone else for forgetting that…or worse, for ignoring it in favour of the juicier, more salacious story!

THE WGC Bridgestone Invitational – Results

Derek’s Picks D&D (Daughter & Dartboard)
Lee Westwood

T9

 $         152,500 Stewart Cink T45  $              53,000
Steve Stricker

14

 $         100,000 Harrison Frazar T66  $              40,750
Dustin Johnson

T48

 $          49,300 Ryan Moore T23  $              75,250
Matt Kuchar

T19

 $          85,000 Louis Oosthuizen T37  $              58,500
This Week’s Total  $         386,800 This Week’s Total  $            227,500
Season Total  $    14,996,654 Season Total  $         5,299,835

The PGA Championship

The PGA Tour returns to the Athletic Club in Atlanta this week for the playing of the year’s final major…The 93rd PGA Championship.  Readers who are up on their golf history know that this was the home course of a fellow named Robert Tyre Jones Jr. 

That was in the days before he decided to design some track called Augusta something-or-other, of course.  Apparently it’s pretty nice too…but, from what I hear, it’s really hard to get a tee time and you can’t bring a date to play.

Winners of past Major championships at this venue include David Toms (2001 PGA), Larry Nelson (1981 PGA) and Jerry Pate (1976 US Open)…names that don’t really suggest that this course demands great length or heroic, swashbuckling derring-do. 

In fact, I’d be willing to bet big bucks that David Toms has never buckled a swash in his entire life.  Mind you, he did ace the 242-yard 15th on Saturday, which is pretty impressive…but still, nary a buckle was swashed along the way.

And, according to some sources, Jerry Pate hit “the shot heard ‘round the world’ when he sautéed a 195-yard 5-iron to within 3 feet on the final hole to win in ’76.  I must have gone a little “Alzie” somewhere along the line, I guess.  For some reason I always thought that Gene Sarazen’s albatross with a 4-wood on the 15th at Augusta back in 1935 was the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World.”  Shows what I know, doesn’t it?

Derek’s Picks

(I assure you that none of these picks will be based on who is caddying for whom.  I’m going to do it the old-fashioned way…based on the player’s abilities.  What a concept).

Rory McIlroy – After his huge, breakthrough win at the US Open, the eyes of the world were zoned in on McIlroy, as many pundits made him the favourite to take The Open Championship at Royal St. George’s.

After a very respectable 71-69 start to the tourney, McIlroy stumbled on the weekend with rounds of 74-73, to finish T25.  Whether that was in reaction to the enormous pressure he was probably feeling, or whether it was simply just a couple of bad days in challenging weather, is anyone’s guess.  But the bottom line is that he didn’t get the job done on native soil (said with apologies to those who might bristle at the idea of an Irishman being at home in an English tournament).

If you were to go back and review the stats over the past few years, the PGA Championship is the tournament that most people would have picked as Rory’s best chance for his Major win…not the US Open.  In the past two seasons, he finished tied for third twice; at Whistling Straits and Hazeltine.  Last year, in comparison, he didn’t even make the cut at the US Open…a disappointing result after finishing T10 at the event in 2009.

Now that some more time has passed, giving him a chance to adapt to all the hoopla and overblown media expectations, I think McIlroy actually has a great opportunity of scoring his second Major title this week.  His T6 finish in Akron last week was excellent practise to get him in the proper winning mindset too.

And it definitely won’t hurt his chances that most of the golf media will be focused on someone else’s caddy this week, rather than on Rory.

Luke Donald – I intentionally didn’t take Donald last week at the WGC Bridgestone…thinking that his missed cut at The Open Championship, plus his pretty lame T17 finish in Vancouver (I took him in both tourneys) indicated that he was in need of some rest and wouldn’t be in fighting form.

Bright move Derek!  Not only did Donald not show any signs of being in need of a break, he damned near won the thing…finishing T2, four shots behind Adam Scott (and his caddy, apparently).

What I wrote about Donald, prior to Sandwich, is just as relevant now as it was then.  Donald is an absolute machine right now…and he’s been either winning or finishing oh-so-close in some of the biggest events available.  WGC World Match Play #1.  Masters #4.  Player’s Championship #4.  WGC Cadillac #6.  Volvo World Match Play #2.  European PGA Championship #1.  Scottish Open #1.      With 8 top ten’s in 10 starts in America and two wins and a second in only 3 starts on the Euro Tour, it’s absolutely, positively, barking mad not to take him this week!

Add to that last week’s T2 at Firestone and the case for Donald to win this week is just as compelling, if not more so. 

Jason Day – Trolling back through the Majors archives this season there hasn’t been a more consistent and higher ranking performer than young Jason Day. 

He tied for second at Augusta.  He tied for second at Congressional.  His only Major “blemish” so far this season was a T30 finish at Royal St. George’s…a finish that about 100 other golfers who went to Sandwich would have killed for.

He also finished T10 in this event one year ago at Whistling Straits.  Different course, similarly exacting playing conditions.

I think it’d be a bad bet not to include Day in my list of picks this week.  Even though he hasn’t walked off a Major course with a trophy yet, he’s putting himself in contention so many times to do so, that it must be just a matter of time until he finally closes one out.  And with last week’s very encouraging T4 finish at Firestone still fresh in his mind, Jason should be in his happy place and ready to seriously contend for the season’s final Major. 

The PGA Championship has a reputation as being the Major won most often by first-time winners.  Jason Day winning the PGA sounds like a very plausible lining up of the stars to me.

Martin…Laird! –When you saw the first name, you were expecting me to write Martin Kaymer, weren’t you?  After all, this was Kaymer’s really big coming out party last year…his first Major championship.

Nope, I decided to go with the Scotsman over the German defending champ this week.  Some of it is the mojo the PGA has for first-time Major winners.  A lot of it has to do with his excellent T11 performance last week at Firestone. 

It certainly has nothing to do with how he’s performed at the other Majors this season.  He started off respectfully enough at Augusta with a T20 finish.  But his performances at Congressional (cut) and Royal St. George’s (cut) are hardly inspirational.

No, this one is all about a smattering of some strong, fresh performance, combined with some gut instinct that’s hard to define.  To me, Laird just feels like he should do well this week in Atlanta.

No Adam?

You’ve probably noted that the one hot player I didn’t select this week was Adam Scott. 

For the record, I’d love to see him win this event…and dozens more to boot.  But, given the way the past week has gone…and the way the media has conspired to make his win last week page-24 news, while his caddy is splashed across the headlines, I think it might be a tough job for Scott to have his head screwed on properly and regain his focus.

I hope I’m wrong on that score.  I really do.

And now that I’ve had the opportunity to embarrass myself on the public record, let’s head down to the basement and see how my daughter fared with her picks on the dartboard:

D&D’s Picks (Daughter & Dartboard):

  • ·         Gregory Bourdy
  • ·         Faber Jamerson
  • ·         Zach Johnson
  • ·         Kevin Streelman

Hmmm…I’m not sure what to make of these picks, but I’d say she had some bad caddying on at least a few of them!  Time will tell.

That’s it for now folks.  Thanks for reading, have a great week and enjoy the tourney!

Cheers,

Derek

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