Ryan Palmer proved it is possible to win three times on the PGA Tour without
getting noticed, but it's not his fault that the big story at the Sony Hawaiian
Open last weekend wasn't his victory, capped by a chip-shot that rattled the
pin on the 72nd hole. The
big news wasn't even the continuing Where's Waldo? search (he's now believed to
be at a rehab clinic in Mississippi -- maybe). No, the hot topic at the PGA Tour's
first full-field event of the year was the new grooves, I mean, uh, the old grooves. Dean
Wilson and John Daly fueled a growing controversy by doing end runs around the
new square grooves ban by using pre-1990 Ping wedges (right), whose square grooves were
grandfathered into legality when the USGA settled a lawsuit with Karsten
Manufacturing in 1990. Reaction
was mixed when word got out that Wilson and Daly had gone retro. Daly, by the
way, has scrounged up eight or nine sets of the old clubs to make sure he's got
an ample supply.
what Paul Arnett reported in The Honolulu
Singh: That's a crazy rule. The Tour should tell the players they shouldn't be
able to do that. The players should initiate it themselves and say, 'That's not
Corey Pavin: "If they say it's legal, then it's legal. I never used it so I
wouldn't. It's not my kind of club."
Ernie Els: "I think it's great. Those clubs were wonderful. They got outdated
with the groove issues but now they're back in style again. I would use them."
Mark Calcavecchia, a long-time Ping player: "I already thought of that. I've
got some old wedges I think I could use. But my L-wedge grooves were so old
that this legal one has more spin on it than I had last year. It's not even an
adjustment for me."
The Daily Flogging enjoyed two
dust-ups caused by this groovy situation. Dust-ups? More like… catfight! The TDF undercard featured Wilson and Bob
Estes. Estes told Cameron Morfit at Golf.com that Wilson's decision was "maybe
a little against the spirit of the game since they passed that rule." Wilson
fired back in The Honolulu Advertiser,
"Bob has not come to me and said anything. But if he asked me, I'd tell him
what I told you. It's not a groove issue for me. It's a comfort issue. I'm not
trying to gain advantage with the grooves. I think Bob is completely wrong.
Maybe he should think about what he says."
Does anybody else think Wilson's comments sound a lot like baseball's Mark
McGwire claiming that steroids didn't help him hit home runs, he was just
trying to stay healthy?
But the main groove bout pitted rookie Aaron Goldberg versus Champions Tour veteran R.W.
Eaks in the Monday qualifier at Turtle Bay. After Goldberger, a 24-year-old
from San Diego State, won the qualifier with 63 (and Eaks shot 65 and lost a
playoff for the last spot), Eaks apparently asked that Goldberg's grooves be
checked. They passed.
"I thought everyone was getting checked," Goldberg said later. "I didn't know
until Tuesday that I was the only one."
Here are four TDF guarantees: One, you'll hear more to come on grooves. Two,
you'll have more players asking to have other player's grooves checked. Three,
someone is going to get caught with non-conforming grooves, probably
accidentally. Four, the value of old Ping square-grooved wedges will go up --
some Tour players are probably rummaging through closets and garages right now
to find some suitable antique Pings to try out. You
still don't know who Ryan Palmer is? That's exactly the point, Dave Reardon
wrote in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin: "I just let them
go," said the new Sony Open in Hawaii champion. "I don't want to ruin
it for them."
On a day when Watson and Nicklaus won in Hawaii, of course Palmer wouldRunner-up
have to come through, too. The game's biggest living and still-playing legends
took care of business on Maui at the Champion Skins Game. And a guy with the
same surname as the fella they named the hybrid drink after did the same here
But Ryan Palmer is as much kin to Arnold The King as
he is to Arnold The Governator. Now, with his third Tour win, even more fans
will be convinced he's the grandson of that other Palmer. "I just let them go," said the new Sony Open in Hawaii champion. "I don't
want to ruin it for them."
Robert Allenby showed some class and didn't blame any of a multitude of
distractions for his finish. More from Reardon:
It's louder than happy hour at Murphy's out at theInsert your own wisecrack here about players who act
14th and 15th holes at Waialae, near Kalanianaole Highway. The concert of
generators (I understand) and bottles being thrown into a dumpster (someone
please explain) was joined yesterday by an ambulance siren and a pack of
motorcycles just as Palmer and Allenby were negotiating the par 4s.
missed a short putt for birdie on 14 that could've changed everything. This
putt was attempted right after he twice acknowledged (with smiles) a crying
baby a few feet away from the green. It was clearly a distraction at the time,
but Allenby said it didn't bother him -- none of the noise did, until 17, where
he and Palmer barely missed birdies.
"Sometimes you hear things that we don't hear. When
you are focused on what you're doing, you don't hear it," he said, but noted
some noises are hard to block out. "I heard all the bottles smash just before I
hit the putt on 17."
Note to Waialae staff: Wait until after the
tournament to throw out the bottles. Note to patrons: Do not bring babies to
like babies. Allenby, in this case, was not one of them. Laugh
off the Wendy's Champions Skins Game if you want. Four two-man teams teed it up
and a funny thing happened. The oldest and most famous twosome came away the
winners -- Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus. The real story? They may have outsmarted
the rest of the field.
event featured nine holes Saturday and nine holes Sunday (yeah, it's a
made-for-TV event). After they finished Saturday's show, Watson and Nicklaus
went ahead and played the back nine, getting a preview of Sunday's action. They
won three skins and $130,000 the final day and went home with $350,000.
told The Maui News, "It's a sign of intelligence. Why not go out there? If
you're given the opportunity to play a golf course and know where the flag
positions are and they say, 'OK, go ahead and play it,' why not?... It's the
old saying, treachery and old age sometimes beats youth and strength."
for his opinion, Nicklaus joked, "Who played? I don't remember. That's part of
being old, isn't it? You don't have to remember what happened five minutes
who'll turn 70 Thursday, did say he and Watson would be back next year, "If Tom
will put up with me." In
the overwrought chase to get a new angle on Tiger Woods, the Associated Press
asked the burning question, will Woods miss another Ryder Cup?
Ryder Cup is the least of Tiger's problems and also eight months away. Captain
Corey Pavin was nonplussed about the topic "There isn't much to think about right
now," he said. "It's a matter of when and if he comes back. As a captain, I'll
just watch what he does."
The Ryder Cup isn't among the top 30 issues that Woods has to worry about. The Los Angeles Times
tapped into what could prove to be a major story in golf in the coming years -- taxes.
In California, many super-exclusive private golf clubs haven't been re-assessed for property taxes because
they haven't changed ownership. Now a county assessor is taking another look at
that policy, since members at those clubs routinely buy and sell their
membership shares. With California facing a big state budget shortfall,
politicians are looking for ways to increase revenue. This could prove to be a
classic tax-the-rich (country clubs) scheme.
If the Board of Equalization advises that a
membership change amounts to an assessable change in ownership, it could be a
boon for cash-strapped local governments. Since voters approved Proposition 13
in 1978, property tax has been capped at 1 percent of assessed value, and assessment
increases have been limited to 2 percent a year. Properties are usually reappraised at
market value only when they change hands. The policy has produced wide
discrepancies in how properties are taxed. At least two homeowners within a
half mile of the Brentwood Country Club, for example, pay more property tax
than the 128-acre club, according to records from the Los Angeles County
assessor's office. A six-bedroom house in the 12000 block of Marlboro
Street had an assessed value last year of $14.35 million, or $737.79 a square
foot of house and land. Another six-bedroom house in the 12000 block of Hanover
Street was assessed at nearly $11.1 million, or $565.92 a square foot. But the
country club, with its 18-hole golf course, tennis courts and pool, was valued
at $9,526,453 -- $1.71 per square foot of land and facilities.
If California pols find a way to squeeze money from golf clubs, the rest of the country's tax boards won't be far behind.
(Photos: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)