DQ'd and PO'd
The big story this morning is Jim Furyk getting bounced from the Barclays, the PGA's first FedExCup Playoff event, for sleeping through his alarm and missing his pro-am tee time. This is a pretty well-known rule, and it's very closely enforced--I distinctly remember when John Daly was disqualified for the same infraction at Bay Hill (which, in a bizarre turn of events, also got two other Tour players ejected from the tournament). So at least everyone's held up to the same standards, right? Waggleroom's Ryan Ballengee isn't so sure.
The PGA Tour has announced that Jim Furyk - currently sitting in third position in the FedExCup standings - has been disqualified from this week's first round of the Playoffs at The Barclays for missing his 7:30 pro-am tee time by five minutes. The disqualification is the set penalty for tardiness for these pro-am outings...
While I completely understand keeping non-members out of the Playoffs, this seems a bit unjust. Furyk will be impacted for four weeks because of this disqualification and his alarm clock not working. On a regular event, the penalty seems more appropriate - it has just a week's worth of impact (though longer for a guy who is on the verge of certain money list thresholds).
For a Playoff event - a major-lite Tour stop - to have a pro-am seems a little out of whack, but acceptable. To cause a guy to have such a severe penalty in his quest for $10 million, though, seems unconscionable.
Phil Mickelson missed his pro-am tee time for the Byron Nelson Championship in 2007 due to poor weather blocking his plane from making it from Alabama to Dallas-Ft. Worth's Love Field the night prior. Mickelson took his time getting to Las Colinas in time for the pro-am, but was not disqualified by Tour officials. That set off an uproar of anger about the exemption.
Somehow I had completely forgotten about that Phil exception (and how peeved a lot of Tour pros were about it). Unfortunately, I think this is a case where two wrongs don't make a right: the Tour was outrageously foolish to allow Phil to play in that tourney in 2007, and they'd be just as out of line letting Furyk play this week, because, as Dustin Johnson will tell you, a rule is a rule is a rule. That said, this rule is stupid, and they should figure out a way to change it...fast. The Tour relies on pro-ams for support, so I understand why they're so sensitive about players taking their responsibilities seriously, but there are options short of DQs that can keep the players in line. How about a fine, somewhere between $10,000-$100,000, or, even better, a percentage of their earnings from the tournament (so the better they do, the more they lose)? That way if players don't show they'll be plenty hurt, but they'll have the opportunity to earn their keep come the weekend. Still, Furyk might want to consider investing in a travel alarm clock.
Welcome back, Tiger
As a proud son (and current resident) of the Garden State, I take a lot pride in our most prized resources: overflowing cranberry bogs, copious lower-back tattoos and, of course, renowned championship golf courses. The PGA Tour returns to the jewel of Bergen County this week, Ridgewood C.C., and the local media has rolled out the welcome mat to all of the Tour's stars. Well, almost all of them...
Tiger Woods is back in New Jersey — which means certain people should be alerted. Women, in general. Perkins’ waitresses, strippers and porn stars, in particular. And, of course, given the condition of his golf game, any fans at the Barclays Classic standing near a tree along a fairway.
Woods is officially single now, with the price of his freedom — or was it Elin’s? — a reported $100 million. And while that, along with his struggle to right his career, might have the crowd at Ridgewood Country Club abuzz, forgive us if we’re not excited about his appearance in Paramus. After all, the guy has treated the state like it’s one big waste bunker.
When he was playing in the PGA Championship at Baltusrol in 2005, Woods was upset when a local golf pro accidentally parked in his reserved spot. Then at the height of his superstardom, he played most of his practice rounds at dawn, before fans were allowed on the course. When caddie Steve Williams committed an infraction during the first round of the tournament, Woods refused to disqualify himself.
He signed only a handful of autographs that week — when Phil Mickelson won the tournament and the hearts of New Jersey fans — and when his Sunday round was over, Woods high-tailed it out of town. Even though there was a chance he could have been in a Monday playoff, he couldn’t get out of New Jersey fast enough.
Last year, when the Barclays was played at Liberty National, Woods criticized the greens and called the course “interesting” — which is PGA-speak for “What a dump.” Again, autographs, or any interaction with fans, were rare.
And now, he’s back in the Garden State. Oh, joy.
It should be pointed out that the Star-Ledger, while a relatively well-respected journal, may hold a bit of a grudge against Mr. Woods. It was their reporter who tattled on Stevie Williams, saying the caddie stepped on Tiger's ball in the 2005 PGA Championship, an accusation that Woods and Co. vehemently denied. That having been said, there's no doubt that New Jersey is Mickelson territory at the moment, as is the entire Tri-State area. This week will be a good test for the "New Tiger" we've been hearing so much about. If he can keep a smile on his face, keep nodding his head and keep signing his name, he may win back the favor of some of the most boisterous fans in golf. Oh, and shooting under par wouldn't hurt.
Nothing Amateur About Chambers Bay
With all the attention the Barclay's is getting this week, the always fun U.S. Amateur is getting (typically) overlooked. While the tournament itself is great, there's some added excitement this year as it's being held at Chambers Bay, site of the 2015 U.S. Open. Here's a take on the course setup from Golfweek's Sean Martin, who sees danger for the amateurs this week...and the pros in the years to come.
Ten feet. That’s often the difference between a great shot and a bad one at Chambers Bay.
NCAA champ Scott Langley hit 4-iron to Chambers Bay’s par-3 15th hole during Tuesday’s second round of stroke play at the U.S. Amateur. The left-hander pulled it 10 feet right of his target, then watched his ball bound through the green and into a bunker. Had Langley hit his mark, his ball would’ve funneled down a slope and likely ended up close to the hole.
“It’s like playing golf in my driveway,” Langley joked about the firm conditions at Chambers Bay...
Chambers Bay’s fast, firm conditions, and extreme putting surfaces, are driving players wild at the U.S. Amateur. The conditions are exacerbated by the course’s extreme undulations and lack of rough, which can cause balls to bound more than 50 yards away from a player’s target.
Most players are paying the young course compliments, but some are leaving with a bad taste in their mouth. This is an important week for Chambers Bay, the three-year-old links-style course along the Puget Sound. This year’s U.S. Amateur, the first national championship here, is a dress rehearsal for the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.
The scoring average for the 156 players who played Chambers Bay on Monday was 79.87. Three players broke par at Chambers on Monday, with Augusta State’s Patrick Reed leading with 68. Seventy-nine players shot 80 or higher Monday at Chambers Bay. That’s more than 50 percent. Five shot in the 90s, including two 95s.
Martin is quick to point out that, while certainly tough, he's not ready to call the conditions unfair. So far it sounds like the players aren't doing too much complaining either (at least not outwardly), but I think we can all agree that amateurs tend to be a little less ornery than Tour pros when it comes to course conditions. Still, I'm excited about the possibility of a U.S. Open course that really fights back. It's not like Pebble and Bethpage Black are pushovers, but relying on weather and deep rough is old hat at the Open--fairways and greens so hard you can bounce a stone off them? Rough so thin it couldn't stop a feather? Now we're talking U.S. Open golf. Is it 2015 yet?