Westwood raising the McIlory issue is the tip. I think this is the iceberg:

The big boy on the block for the past millenium has been the PGA. In 2011 it will host 41 events in 13 countries. The other kid on the block is the European Tour. In 2011 it will host 50 events in 29 countries.

Question: In making pronouncem­ents such as rookie player of the year, does the PGA give a fair shake to non U. S. players? Or, should the PGA consult other tours in making such pronouncem­ents? These are fair questions.

Not that many years ago the PGA and the LPGA were synonymous with golf. But no more. If you want to be kind you could say both tours have been slow to respond to the reality of global golf. If you want to be less charitable you would say they have resisted it.

Case in point: PGA tour commission­er Finchem’s brainchild­: the Fed Ex Cup. A meaningles­s event made meaningful only by throwing an embarrassi­ng amount of money at the winner. Tim Finchem translated into Greek means Claudius Ptolemy. And, no, Tim, the PGA tour is not the center of the golf universe.

By the way, Westwood says he will skip FedEx because it doesn’t mean much to him.
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Golfing legend Gary Player had some advice for rising star Danny Lee after the teenager signed a multi-millionaire dollar endorsement deal arranged by International Management Group of the U. S.

No.  The advice wasn’t about his takeaway, staying on plane on his downswing or how to read putts.  No, the advice was simple:  Smile. 

You see Gary Player has a quaint philsophy about how golfers should conduct themselves.  He thinks the golfing public supports the game and ultimately allows elite golfers to earn ridiculous sums of money for playing the game they love.  Giving back to the fans, says Player, should be a goal of every professional golfer.

We’re not sure how loudly Player spoke that day but obviously it wasn’t loud enough for the players who gathered to compete at the inaugural event of the 2010 LPGA schedule in Pattaya, Thailand.

Smiles were rarer than double eagles, to the point where, if you didn’t know any better, you’d think the contestants were downright grumpy.  To her credit, Karrie Webb didn’t tell the gallery of fans following her this year to shut up as she did the last time she competed in Thailand.   But while she was waiting to play on the 16th tee at Siam Country Club her caddie barked at the gallery to turn off their cameras even though no one was waiting to hit because the previous group was not even close to completing play at the 16th green. 

It seems to this observer that on both the women’s and men’s tours temper tantrums and club throwing are up and smiling and connecting with galleries are down.

Could that be why both the LPGA and PGA are struggling with dwindling live and TV audiences?  We’re fairly certain Gary Player has an answer to that question.

Pattaya, Thailand – February 21, 2010– Everybody knows that golf is a four-letter word. And it doesn’t take much to remind us that trash talk is getting to be a bigger part of both the PGA and LPGA. Case in point: the second round of the season opening LPGA event February 18-21 in Pattaya, Thailand. Morgan Pressel came to the 16th tee of the demanding 186 par three hole. She surveyed a hook wind coming from the right that gusted only to vanish moments later. That and the likely adrenalin rush from having birdied the previous hole added to the intensity of the moment. Pressel chose a line 20 feet right of the flag to allow for the right to left wind. But the shot flew straight and long. It took one bounce off the putting surface and flew the green. In disgust and amazement she turned to her caddie and shrieked, “Are you shitting me?” Retrieving her tee she added, “I don’t fucking believe it!” and stormed off the tee, leaving spectators and this writer more than a little taken aback from a pretty intense tantrum. Fast forward to Sunday and day four of the $1.3 million tournament and the very same tee box. Pressel is paired with Christina Kim. The pair have a about a 5 minute wait to hit their tee shots so they fill the time talking about English football in front of a gallery which probably numbered 50 or 60 people. Pressel, Kim and Kim’s caddy whom she calls Andy are talking about the two football teams from Manchester in the U. K. The talk turns to how some people call Manchester City by another name “Manchester Shitty” Both players and the caddy share a very loud laugh about this and repeat “Manchester Shitty” three or four times quite loudly within easy hearing of everyone in the gallery and, again, this reporter. Whether the players knew or even cared about the fact that Pattaya Thailand is home to many thousands of ex-pats from the U. K. or that the golfing event was carried by the major TV network in Thailand, no one will ever know. But in a week where Tom Watson called out world number one Tiger Woods for cursing and throwing tantrums on the course, it is more than a little ironic that the number one ladies professional tour that is struggling to find an audience doesn’t enforce higher standards of personal conduct at the course. Those who watched the Solheim Cup last year were treated to some exceptional golf, particularly by a resurgent Michelle Wie. But they also got an earful and an eyeful of foul language and club throwing from the microphoned players. And who can forget Suzann Pettersen laying the “F” bomb on a befuddled Roger Maltby during NBCs coverage of the 2002 Solheim Cup? The unconfirmed report is that Pettersen was taken aside by LPGA officials who suggested that when she needed to vent in front of millions of American viewers she might want to do so in her native Norwegian instead of English. It goes without saying that the LPGA tour stop in Thailand in 2010 will always be remembered for the 9 under par 63 shot by the eventual winner Ai Miyazato and not for the purple prose and tantrums thrown by a minority of players. But we’re fairly certain that no spectator or TV viewer would complain if the gansta-rap and the club throwing disappeared from view completely. LPGA, are you listening?

January 11, 2010

Notes from the final day of the 2010 Royal Trophy Chonburi, Thailand –January 10, 2010. By Dennis Kobe

If team golf is a war. Then the final day singles competition must surely be considered hand-to-hand combat.

At the final day of the Royal Trophy in Thailand, Asia got off to the best start it could ask for as Charlie Wi ranked world #147 defeated Simon Dyson world #43. For the second day in a row Wi won a pivotal match. In the second round fourballs, Wi’s team was the only Asian team to earn a point and avoid the dreaded sweep that would have likely extinguished all hope of an Asian victory. A year ago here, it was a courageous performance by Wi in the 2009 Royal when he and his fourball partner recovered from a shaky start that proved to be the emotional turning point for the winning Asia side. Of all the Asian team players, it seems that Charlie Wi’s dogged and determined performance in back to back Royal Trophy events is becoming the standard for Asian team players.

Japan’s No. 1 golfer and the world #30, Ryo Ishikawa appeared to gift his match to Sweden’s Peter Hanson ranked #54 in the world. The 18 year old sensation with a reputation for poise after appearances at the Masters, the Open Championship and the President’s Cup in 2009, appeared out of sorts throughout this Royal Trophy. Losing to a #54 ranked player is not the story. But an Ishikawa who beats himself with a erratic putting and a 134 yard tee shot that found the water on the par 3 8th hole at Amata Springs is the story. The question is, which Ishikawa will show up at the Masters and other showcase events in 2010?

Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng (#117) lost to Spain’s Pablo Martin (#240). Beating one of Thailand’s hometown heroes must have been big to Martin, particularly when that player is more than 200 world ranking positions higher. But Martin came off the day 2 fourballs with memories of nervous swings and wayward putting. The consensus was that Marksaeng would feast on the Royal Trophy rookie but the young Spaniard found a way to stay off the menu.

Also going into the final day with a serious case of the wobbles was Japan’s Kouemi Oda, world #72 who faced Alexander Noren , world #55. For the first two days Oda appeared to be fighting either his nerves or his swing as he airmailed greens with wedges from the fairway. Noren on the other hand came off the day 2 fourballs with the confidence that comes with controlled play. Perhaps Oda felt he needed birdies to win his match so he went flag hunting from the very start. Fortunately for him he had the swing to match his on-course strategy.

More than likely the epithet to the 2010 Royal Trophy will be the captaincy debut of Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie. Montgomerie will lead the assault by Team Europe to regain the Ryder Cup from the U. S. later this year in Wales. But the captaincy debut wouldn’t have happened without Montgomerie the player. In the day 3 singles, the world #254 player earned a crucial ½ point from his match with China no. 1 Liang Wen-chong ranked #82 in the world. The victory had a lot to do with nerveless putting on the final four holes of the match. But it also had a lot to do with Montgomerie’s ability to withstand the crowd noises and disturbances that have plagued the man’s career at the most critical times. There was no sign of this tendency on the final day nor throughout every moment on the golf course this week and in the press conferences that followed play. His self control, on and off the course, the exemplary management of his side, spell bad news for the U. S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin in Wales this October.

January 10, 2010

Notes from the 2010 Royal Trophy: January 9, 2010

Day 2 from Amata Springs Golf Course, Chonburi Thailand

As Colin Montgomerie led the European side to Thailand this week as player captain, everyone wondered when it would happen. When would Montgomerie’s fall prey to the camera click, the movement from behind the green or the bad bounce from the golfing gods that invariably find him or that he finds on the course.

But if the huge galleries of Asian fans that track his every move have been an annoyance, you’d never know it from the Scotsman’s demeanor. Or if questions at press conferences have been silly or impertinent you’d never know it from his thoughtful and thorough responses.

The golfing world has never questioned the intelligence of Colin Montgomerie. But it has at times questioned his ability to overcome distractions and pointed to that shortcoming as a factor in his resume which shows zero major victories.

So far, at least, the intelligent Colin Montgomerie is in control over the emotional Colin Montgomerie.

January 8, 2010

Notes from Day 1 of the 2010 Royal Trophy

January 8, 2010 – Bangkok, Thailand – Day 1 of the 4th edition of the Royal Trophy consists of 4 foursomes. There were no sustained periods of electrifying golf although the pairings from India and Thailand played fairly steadily throughout.

Ishikawa’s 20 foot chip in on the 9th was the only highlight moment of the day. The moment was a good one for the 60 registered media from Japan who make up fully 1/3 of the media attending the Royal Trophy.

Team Asia takes a 2 ½ to 1 ½ point lead after the foursomes of day 1. European playing/captain Colin Montgomerie made his Royal Trophy debut a losing one. Pablo Martin looked nervous and shaky through most of his round as did Simon Dyson who struggled with his long game. Korean Charlie Wi at time seemed to be pressing and playing aggressively. His was the only club throwing incident captured by the TV cameras from ESPN.

Tiger Woods’ yacht is a perfect metaphor for him. It’s a 155 foot yacht called PRIVACY. In essence it says, yeah I’ll take your money as a role model as a man who lives by family values but what I do in my private life is none of your business. I don’t owe you any explanations and I don’t need to answer your questions. And right now I don’t need golf either.

He has turned his back on his family, his fans and golf, the one sport that values honor above else.

So if he can come back, he’s not only the greatest golfer but also the greatest magician.
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