Monday, August 24, 2009

Julie and Julia

I just saw the movie Julie and Julia. Why would I write about that in a golf blog you ask? Good question!!! The way I saw this movie, Julies life in the kitchen was just like my life on the golf course… She decided to cook 524 Julia Child recipes in 365 days. She started a blog about it which eventually led to a book and then a movie (I do not have a movie deal).
Meryl Streep was fantastic as Julia Child and this was a thoroughly entertaining movie as it moved from flashbacks of Julia Child’s life and her dream of getting published to Julies dream of completing her very long-term goal of cooking all this food. To me it was a reflection of my life lived out in the kitchen rather than a golf course. She was tenacious in her goal!! There were several sacrifices to achieve it!! She had her ups and down and came close to quitting more than once!! And finally came a book and notoriety in the press. Like me she felt like she was writing in the blogesphere and no one was reading it, but eventually they were. It’s a wonderful story and I recommend it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

In Korea they are singin “Everybody Yang Chung Tonight”

In Korea they are singin “Everybody Yang Chung Tonight”
Hazeltine National Golf Club, Chaska MN

Y.E Yang pulled off quite the upset today, beating Tiger Woods in the final round of the PGA Championship. He took home the Wanamaker trophy and 1.3 million dollars. Not bad for a weeks work for a man who came to Chaska MN ranked 110 in the World Golf Rankings, and didn’t take up the game of golf until the age of 19. He has moved to Dallas TX but at his press conference on Sunday, it became clear that he can barely speak English. He conducted this press conference (the longest of his life according to him) through an interpreter.
He played in the last group with Tiger, facing not only Tigers intimidating demeanor but the intimidating crowds and media that follow Tiger.
He became the first ever to beat Tiger Woods in 15 tries in the final round of a major championship when Woods either held or shared the lead after the third round.
He also records the largest comeback ever to win a PGA Championship, rallying from nine strokes back of Woods after the fifth hole of the second round this week.

This man is no longer “a regular Joe” and the media spotlight will shine brightly on him for the next year. It would not surprise me if he gets a "Ticker Tape parade" when he returns to Korea. The demands on his time will be extraordinary from every direction that you can possibly imagine.
Is he a “one hit wonder” a term they would use in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? There are several examples in recent years of people who could not get used to having their lives so seriously turned upside down, which was followed by a fall from grace. I hope he handles it well. As a player he deserves to continue standing on a great championship stage.

One more interesting note, the media guide that is issued by the PGA lists the player’s biographies in alphabetical order. The final two in the guide are the same two as in yesterdays final pairing. Woods and Yang.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

More from the PGA Championship

American Express has a promotion here at the PGA Championship. If you have an Am Ex card they loan you a portable TV for the day. The video feed is from Kangaroo TV and it has several channels: leader boards, XM radio coverage, weather, tee times, TNT, CBS coverage, marquee channel (following Mickelson in the morning and Tiger in the afternoon) and it even has a find a player feature: enter their name and you can find their exact location on the course. I have always said “ Golf is a wonderful TV sport. It’s better to watch golf on TV rather than live, because you have to be lucky to be at the right place at the right time if you are on the course” This gives the patron the best of all worlds.

Two interesting stories are being followed closely here in the media room in addition to Tigers dominance. Ryo Ishikawa, from Saitama Japan is 17 years old and 5’7” and 140 pounds sopping wet. He ranks 59th in the world, made the cut and shot 74/74/ so far. On Friday he wore the brightest lime green pants I have ever seen, you almost needed sunglasses to look at him.

The other is Alvaro Quiros from Cadiz, Spain. The media guide calls him “a player clearly licensed to thrill” He is as handsome as they come, also made the cut with 69/76 and on the first two days his driving average is 328 yards, the longest in this field, 12 yards longer than Tiger. If he ever decides to give up professional golf, he could probably make a fortune endorsing clothing.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

91st PGA Championship at Hazeltine

I am covering the PGA Championship at Hazeltine Golf club in Chaska MN. I have written about golf travel, but this is my first time covering tournament golf.

I just attended a press conference with Tiger Woods, commenting about the “on the clock” issue he was involved in last week. He said that he has heard from the PGA and there will be no fine. Thank goodness for that, because I feel like that was a call by an official who was just seeking his 15 minutes of fame. He seems to have gotten it, unfortunately.
Some of the questions the media ask Tiger are ridiculous. One man asked “You are known for a strong finish in golf tournaments. In college when you ran cross country, did you have a strong kick at the end?” Really what kind of question is that and who cares? But Tigers answer was clever. “That poor kick, is one of the reasons I took up golf”

I played Hazeltine several times, and of course it is on the Golf Digest Top 100, so I wrote about one of my experiences in my book “A Golfers Dream” They have lengenthed it to 7674 yards now and even Tiger said today after his practice round how tough and long its playing. “But its in great shape.” For the first time in major championship history, three of the par-5s this week will stretch at least 600 yards. The third hole at Hazeltine National Golf Club measures 633 yards; No. 11 is 606 yards; and the 15th hole covers 642 yards. The 572-yard seventh hole at Hazeltine National is the lone par-5 of less than 600 yards. You can’t mention this without noting that #12 is a 518- yard par 4

Of course when I played it, I did so at 6400-6500 yards and I can’t even imagine trying to conquer this at a beastly 7600. I will say, however that a few weeks ago I played the new Pete Dye Golf Club at French Lick IN and it plays 8102 from the tips. Is this length thing ever going to stop? It puts many courses out of tournament range and brings havoc to course maintenance budgets.

The clubhouse at Hazeltine will be torn down and replaced this year. I guess when you have the revenue of the PGA Championship behind you, a club has many options. It is a pretty worn out bldg, but I hate to see the locker room go. With the several championships that have been played here, many greats of golf have sat, changed clothes, and showered in that lockeroom. That makes it a very special place, like the lockerooms at Augusta, Shinnecock, Winged Foot. I wish there was a way to keep the lockeroom and build a new clubhouse around it, but I certainly do not expect that to happen
98 of the top 100 players are in this field, making it the strongest field of the season. There were 99 but Trevor Immelman withdrew today with a wrist injury.
More later

Aquafina a sponsor of the PGA Championship

I am a working member of the media for th PGA Championship at Hazeltine this week. This is a privlidge and an honor to be working with some of the best golf writers in the world.
Aquafina water is a sponsor of the PGA Championship here at Hazeltine GC. Aquafina, as you may know, is owned by Pepsi Cola. They are the official water of the tournament. If you bring a plastic bottle of water onto the championship grounds, they require you to tear off the label if its not Aquafina. Pepsi says it is not a contractual requirement of the sponsorship and that it is a courtesy extended by the Championship, but I think that this restrictive policy is generating bad vibes for both the tournament and Aquafina. Whoever made this decision should reverse it. The publicity they are getting makes them both look foolish.