Well, it certainly has been a long time between posts. But as the season is finally under way here in Sweden, I think we can safely say there will more activity through the summer. It is shaping up to be a good one.
In what had to be the most ill kept secret in a long time, it has been decided that the R&A and the USGA will be enforcing the ban on anchoring the putter during the motion of putting. Putting, just like every other stroke, must be a swing. Like the song, putting "don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing" (Ellington/Mills).
What does bother me is the manufacturers and pro players whining how this will hinder growing the game with amateurs. Keep us out of this, because it won't affect we hackers UNLESS we play in sanctioned tournaments. Amateurs can and will continue using and anchoring their long putters. Meanwhile, there are some pros, like Tim Clark, who are very disturbed about the ruling. Excuse me, you are one of an elite group of talented golfers. If you are afraid of moving your hands on your putter out an inch from your chest, then its time to start looking for that comfy club pro job.
Sweden's own David Lingmerth put on quite a show at the Player's Championship. The young man certainly made his mark with the golf world, especially with the TV coverage, as they scrambled to find out who he was. David has made his success the old fashioned way. He jumped in the big boy's pool and has found out he can swim and swim very well. There has been some worry about the next great Swedish male player with Swenson, Pettersson and Karlsson on the other side of their careers. Lingmerth seems ready to take over the role. Another young Swede on the tour is Henrik Norlander, who will be coming home to play in the 2013 Nordea Masters.
Speaking of the Masters, this year's field may be the best in a few years. The event went all out the last few years to attract American tour players. Indeed we saw Fowler, Johnson and Bubba play the tournament. This year we will see the likes of Paul Casey, Darren Clarke, Miguel Ángel Jiménez, Matteo Manassero and
José Maria Olazábal. The Nordea Masters runs from 30 May to 2 June, 2013.
Finally, a few words about the Woods-Garcia "feud." Over the past few years, professional golf has gone from being all about the sport to being all about the personalities. This is not the first time we have talked about golfer's s. There was Hagen and Sarazen, Snead and Hogan, Arnie and Jack and Jack and Tom. However heated those rivalries were, the difference is, they were played out on the golf course.
In today's 24 hour news cycle world, microphones, smart phones, Facebook/Twitter and TV coverage is in the player's faces day after day. At the end of the round, Jack could go home to the wife and kids. Today, reporters catch a sound bite of some pro saying something about another pro. "I played with so and so today and I thought his pants were really baggy. I could hear them flap in the wind." Then they run to so and so saying, "What's his name says your pants distracted him. What do you have to say to that?" Then the answers get picked up on the internet and away we go.
As to Sergio/Tiger? Well, at one time Garcia looked like the player who was going to go toe to toe with Tiger. However, Tiger went in one direction while Sergio another. He must look at Woods and asks himself, why isn't that me? Woods is barking in Sergio's brain and, in the words of Don Henley, "Have you noticed that an angry man/Can only get so far/Until he reconciles the way he thinks things ought to be/With the way things are."
Garcia, no matter how popular he is, has always been a whiner. In the 2002 Ryder Cup, he complained about playing in the rain. The New York fans also brutalized him over that waggle thing. Tiger pulled the club out in the SECOND round. I notice that there has been no concession by the Spanish pro that it was the two he dumped in the drink that lost that tournament. It was the two HE hit in the water that lost it, nobody but him. And now, just like he plays, he's letting his demons and feelings get in the way, as he continues to double bogey with the press. Some guys just don't learn
Every year we say, "What a Masters!" Still, you would have to admit that the 2013 Masters was something special, unfortunately, not all positive.
We had two records broken, two penalties called that had as many interpretations as the number of people you asked. We had the People's Favorite play like one of the people. The heir apparent is finding out that the golf game is a fickle mistress and the greatest ever is still not making enough putts when they count. We saw golf at its most callous and at its sportsmanship best. Finally, when is golf going to stop letting TV viewers with no life dictate the play of the game and people's livelihood?
First, a tip of the bush hat to Adam Scott. Not only did he win his first major, removing his name from the list of "best player never to win a major" but he became the first Australian golfer to win the Masters in 77 plays of the event. It was a great win for Scott and his Aussie mates, but now the controversy begins again on the long putter. While there is no scientific evidence of advantage, you must admit that the long putter anchored gives him a better chance of making the putt. Let the debate renew.
The Fan Favorite, Phil Mickelson, played like one of his fans, as his tied for 54th place at +9 showed that he was never in contention. Could Phil need the heat of the summer to limber up his arthritis? Michelson is another year into his 40s and maybe the skill set has begun to show some cracks.
Golf is the great equalizer in it always balancces the scale. You never really conquer it and this year and last year have no correlation. Just ask Rory McIlroy. He can use his Nike deal to pay the bills as he tries to regain his 2012 skills.
The two penalties of interest were the slow play call on the 14 year old from China, Tianlang Guan. After Guan's slow-play penalty on Friday, David Duval tweeted out a list of slow players on the PGA Tour, including regular offenders like Ben Crane and Kevin Na, plus Padraig Harrington, Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods. Considering how slow play is on the Tour, was the penalty on Guan fair? It was the first time in Masters history that a slow play penalty was assessed.
Despite the weekly exploits of the above group of professional players, the Powers of Golf bravely used a 14 year old kid as an example. Way to go guys! The regulators of golf again, like a US congress man, show their complete capitulation to the corporate money. From slow play, anchored putters, equipment advances to the unnecessary reshaping of St.Andrews, the people who traditionally were given the stewardship of the game, have allowed themselves to be rendered purposeless.
As to Tiger Wood’s “penalty,” well, let’s just say the Masters Rules Interpreters stepped on their, uhh, own feet in the acrobatic moves they made between Saturday evening and Sunday morning. I’m sure TV was consulted on the outcome, as well.
The penalty and its outcome are not the point anyway. Replays have shown that, despite what he said in his press conference, Woods did not make the infraction that he was penalized for.
At the time of the “infraction," Wood’s caddy said nothing. Wood’s playing partner nor his caddy saw a problem. A thousand people in the gallery said not one word. The scorekeeper? Not a peep. The television pundits could only talk about how he was robbed. Yet, one guy armed with a TeVo, remote control and a telephone or internet connection turned a whole tournament upside down.
Golf is the only sport that allow its TV audience to make ruling judgements from someone’s couch 2500 miles from the action. While a missed call in any other sport may be fodder for debates at the pub, the golf police on TV effect people’s livelihood. This kind of refereeing only is enforced for only the golfers shown on the screen. That seems to me like the rules are not being applied equally to the field.
Golf needs to allow the action on the course to dictate its out comes and enforce its rulings. Ignore the TV referees beginning NOW.
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