Golf’s Wild Week — Tiger and Wie and a Looming Scandal

published August 29, 2010

It’s been quite a week in the world of golf.  Suffice it to say that Tiger and Elin’s divorce and her interview in People turned out to be maybe the sixth most interesting story of the last seven days.  If you don’t believe me, consider the following:

You Snooze, You Lose: Jim Furyk’s cell-phone battery ran down in the night, and he overslept and missed his tee time in the Wednesday pro-am at The Barclays.  Furyk arrived at the locker room five minutes after the shotgun start, and was informed he would be ineligible to play in the tournament, round one of the four-week FedExCup playoffs.

A significant portion of the money given to charity by pro tournaments comes from pro-am entry fees.  Most players would rather face an uncaged wolverine than a pro-am round, so the penalty has to be something dire to keep them from skipping out.  Forced to miss the week’s competition, Furyk saw his place in the FedExCup standings plummet from third to eighth.  That’ll show him!

He’s Back!  No, He’s Not.  Well, Maybe: Remember Tiger Woods?  He used to be a helluva golfer.  In the first round of The Barclays, he was again, shooting a six-under-par 65 to tie for the lead, triggering ecstatic headlines.  Four bogeys on his second nine Friday dropped him back towards the pack, and an opening triple-bogey Saturday ended any chance of victory and triggered lamentations and despair.  A 67 brought him into a tie for twelfth, a respectable result for anyone not named Eldrick.  He has qualified for the next playoff round, with a good shot at the two after that.

Another Rules Kerfuffle: Even those who think golf’s rules are as picky and finicky as the IRS code will appreciate this one.  Two South Korean players on the LPGA Tour were disqualified this week for signing incorrect scorecards.  The two hit their drives on the 18th hole, then each played each other’s ball to the green and on into the hole.  According to caddie/blogger Larry Smich – who has leveled several cheating accusations against Korean players in the past – the two allegedly spoke to each other in Korean, and one is supposed to have told her caddie, “You did not see anything.”  They turned in their scores without adding penalty strokes, and later sought out an official to admit what they did and accept their disqualification.

Ryan Ballengee, of SB Nation’s “Waggle Room,” reported Saturday that the caddie of the third player in the group was going to come forward and expose the two, and that prompted them to find the official and acknowledge their error.

Unlike the rules violations committed by Dustin Johnson and Juli Inkster (using a weighted donut on her club to stay loose during a long wait during a round), this one, if true as described, would be a serious case of cheating.  The conspiratorial aspect is troubling in both directions: it fuels distrust of players who converse in a language not spoken by the other player in their group or the accompanying officials, and it has already caused some muttering that the charges stem from racism against Koreans on tour.  The LPGA will be looking closely at the matter, reports .  So will its Player Executive Committee.  They had better.

Wie Wins National Open: The nation is Canada, but it’s still an impressive victory for the 20-year-old, who returns to Stanford for her fourth year in September.  She entered Sunday’s action at the CN Canadian Women’s Open tied for the lead with Jiyai Shin, the so-called Final Round Queen, and outdueled her, 70-73, for the win.  This is Wie’s second victory on the LPGA Tour; her road to maturity has been bumpy, but whose isn’t?  There’s still plenty of time for her to fulfill everyone’s expectations.

Smilin’ Kooch Gets a W: Matt Kuchar, who still wears the gee-whiz grin that was so endearing at the 1998 Masters, was given a gift by Martin Laird on the final hole of the Barclays, and he capitalized with a birdie on the first playoff hole.  Laird, who entered the tournament ranked 95th on the points list, needed two putts from 23 feet at the last for the victory.  His first putt steamed seven feet past, and his second never threatened the hole.  After both players drove into the rough in the playoff, Kuchar’s approach ran along the right side of the green, then followed the contours around and down towards the hole, stopping two feet away.  Kuchar had four previous top-four finishes this year without a win.

Captain Monty’s Brotherly Crew: The European Ryder Cup team is set. Colin Montgomerie announced his three captain’s picks on Sunday, choosing Edoardo Molinari, Luke Donald, and Padraig Harrington.  Molinari, the 2005 U.S. Amateur champion, made the selection easy by winning the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles on Sunday, with Montgomerie in attendance.  He will join his brother Francesco, who earned one of the nine automatic spots through his European Tour performances.  The Molinaris will be the first brothers to play on the same Ryder Cup squad since 1963.

Ready For Its Close-up?: Chambers Bay Golf Club, near Tacoma, hosted the U.S. Amateur this week, won by Peter Uihlein, son of the chairman and CEO of Acushnet  (Titleist, Footjoy, Pinnacle).  The championship also served as a test run for the course, which will be the site of the 2015 U.S. Open.  The intriguing layout on Puget Sound played like a true links, with the bounce and roll of the ball being every bit as important as its flight.  The huge fescue mounds surrounding the holes made it a challenge for the galleries, and the long grasses will lead to some big scores in stroke play.  Is it too quirky for the Open?  The USGA has five years to wonder.

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)