Daily Flogging: Ryder Cup hype starts early, actor upset with golfer defections, Bubba Watson stalks Ellen and more

Monday January 25th, 2010

When is it too early to start hyping the Ryder Cup? The answer for the British press is, never. The drooling began in earnest after the stoic young German Martin Kaymer outdueled Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy to win the Abu Dhabi Championship. After all, the Ryder Cup is a mere, um, eight months away. Mark Reason in the Telegraph quoted Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie, who "could scarcely contain himself" (yeah, since he was asked!). "The leaderboard is good. The team will be strong whatever
happens. I'm glad to see Alvaro Quiros [tied for fifth], Kaymer and McIlroy
up there. You add Ross Fisher into the mix and you have four fantastic rookies. The team
is looking extremely strong. They all want to make the team so badly. I know
that. They've told me. It's very exciting. I will have an issue with my three picks. I'm going to have 10 potential
clients for three spots, all feeling that they have a right to be there.
It's going to be difficult. This year I'm going to be talking team set-up
and not trousers, shirts, menus and rooms." Peter Anthony in the Independent:  "If
the rest of this European Tour season turns out to be as enthralling as
this curtain-raiser then the organisers and sponsors should lick their
lips and the Americans had better watch out... How Kaymer reminded of
his countryman Bernhard Langer, holding his nerve to prevail, by a
single shot. He began the last hole level with Ian Poulter but a cool birdie
on that par five was enough to deny the Englishman. Poulter had nothing
to be ashamed of, however, as his 66 matched that of Kaymer. McIlroy,
meanwhile, shot a 67. Hardly shabby."
Anthony also detailed Kaymer's foot injury, the one he sustained while go-kart racing last year. He still has steel plates and screws in one foot. Said Kaymer: "I can
still feel them in there. And I could have them
removed now. But I don't want to risk having to have two or three weeks
off. I shall leave them in until December." Alastair Tait in Golfweek detailed Kaymer's success at Abu Dhabi Golf Club: "Martin Kaymer must wish he could play every European Tour event at Abu Dhabi Golf Club... Kaymer won the €1.5 million Abu Dhabi Golf Championship for the
second time in three years when he edged Ian Poulter in a dramatic
final-round showdown... The victory hardly came as any great shock. The German is a
cumulative 56 under par around the Abu Dhabi course. He won in 2008,
his first European Tour win, and finished second last year."
Tait also talked about appearance fees: "Kaymer earned the €250,000 first-place check and perhaps the same
again in appearance money, as Abu Dhabi spent large wads of cash to
lure one of the strongest fields ever assembled in the Middle East. Money is power in this part of the world, and Abu Dhabi flexed its
large financial muscle to overshadow nearest rivals Dubai and Qatar.
Given the field, the winner and the trio of Kaymer, Poulter and McIlroy
in the last group, the estimated $2 million spent on appearance fees
will look like money well spent."

In defense of Abu Dhabi (William Devane, don't read this sentence!), this tournament wouldn't exist without appearance money. What top players would travel here without it? They certainly don't come to this tournament, in a volatile part of the world, because of the huge crowds. No Hope without hopeNow they've done it. The Bob Hope Classic doesn't have a sponsor or a player ranked among the world's top 35 in the field. And actor William Devane is ticked off about it.
Don't think Devane isn't connected. He played the president of the U.S. in several Stargate episodes, and has starred in other TV hits such as West Wing, 24 and Knots Landing. In films, he's been in Space Cowboys, Marathon Man and the instant classic, Bad News Bears in Breaking Training, among others. PGA Tour players be warned -- do not continue to skip the Hope.

Devane unloaded to Leighton Ginn in the Desert Sun:

“Abu
Dhabi, they're playing with the enemy. Unbelievable, right? They're all right wingers and they're playing with the enemy. I don't get it. That's
what is such an insult to everybody. They went to Abu Dhabi and
no one came over here to play, it's ridiculous. Without Hope and (Bing)
Crosby and guys like that, they wouldn't have a tour. These guys really
got it all started and they should support a tournament like this.”
“Look what happened when Dinah Shore died. They yanked her name off of that
thing so quick, it was unbelievable. And who did more for
the LPGA than Dinah Shore?... I like these guys kept the Hope thing and hopefully the new sponsors will still call it the Bob Hope Classic... It
doesn't have that real Hollywood identity. They tried
with George Lopez, but that didn't work out too good. Like Clint
(Eastwood) is the guy at AT&T. He's identified with it and it has
that feeling. We haven't quite found that person yet.”
Celebrity stalker of the weekThere's a lot of star-kissing at the Hope, but no one was more blatant than Bubba Watson, who seemed as busy trying to get the attention of Ellen DeGeneres as he was in getting his first Tour victory. Tod Leonard reported the obsessive details for the San Diego Union-Tribune:
On Thursday, when play at the Bob Hope Classic was washed out by rain, Watson shot a video that he posted on Tweet Reel in which he hits a trick shot through a door out of his rented house, over a pool and into a bucket. He then takes a victory lap, jumps onto a slide and flops into the pool, fully clothed.
“I can show you this trick shot and you can teach me how to dance!” Watson says in the video.
He also shot another video in which he sings a birthday song to
DeGeneres, and while he was finishing his third round, Watson
looked into the camera and made another plea to Ellen.

All very creative, but here’s a thought: winning a golf tournament might help.

tr_id="16644"; The Other WatsonOne Watson still knows how to win. That's ol' Tom, who took center stage Sunday at the senior circuit's Mitsubishi Electric Championship. A good title since the finish was electric.
Senior "rookie" Fred Couples had just missed a 14-footer for birdie, leaving Watson with a five-footer for the victory. Never mind that putt he missed on the British Open's final hole last summer. Never mind that he was oh-for-33 playing in tournaments in Hawaii. Never mind that he's creeping up on his 60th birthday. Paul Arnett described the scene for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin:
It was a surreal setting, similar to that of Bagger Vance, vog in the air, giving
it an eerie movie-like quality, a dream come true. All around were members of
the Champions Tour, quietly hoping that Watson would sink this putt and send
home a crowd happy that might have watched Watson win for the final time in a
storybook career.
With a wry smile on his face, Watson walked up to the putt, studied it one last time and then rapped it in for the 13th win of his career on the senior circuit, but
more importantly, chasing away the demons that kept him from capturing more
than the eight majors he did.
What was he thinking as he stood over that putt?
"I was thinking don't make a stroke like I did with the 8-footer at
Turnberry," Watson said. "Make a good stroke like I thought I was
going to do at Turnberry. I said, I can do this. I can make this."
Dr. Doom and his assistant, Mr. GloomThe Wall Street Journal paints a bleak outlook for the PGA Tour, courtesy of writers Matthew Futterman and Douglas A. Blackmon. The suits at PGA Tour headquarters won't like this well-researched story, but they ought to read, ingest and memorize every word.
Here's the nut of the WSJ story, which called this week's event at Torrey Pines "a harbinger of what the PGA Tour may be like without its most popular
player." The reporters continued: "Three of the Tour's 46 tournaments scheduled for 2010 don't
have a lead corporate sponsor, nor do 13 of next year's tournaments.
Television viewership of the first two events of this year's Tour
tumbled... Without his (Tiger Woods) unmatched star power, the
value of Tour sponsorships, through which companies cover most
tournament prizes, could be sharply lower. And without a rich flow of
cash from those sponsorships, the PGA Tour's economic model is cracked." It never rains in southern California...The Bob Hope Classic was pushed back to a Monday finish due to heavy rain and storms last week. Luckily, it wasn't this week's rechristened Farmers Insurance Open field that was trying to play at Torrey Pines, where 3.7 inches of rain fell and 55-mph winds took out trees and blew down tournament tents. Ed Zieralski of the San Diego Union-Tribune has the weather report and the clean-up details, plus this quote from Jon Maddern, the City of San Diego's operations manager: “The storms put us four days behind, but we’ve made some great
progress. Luckily, this all hit this week and not next week. Had it been next week, we would have been in big-time trouble. The tournament probably would not be occurring had that happened.” Tiger Speculation, Chapter 27An interesting and original column from ESPN.com columnist Jason Sobel, who thinks Tiger Woods doesn't like golf anymore. A very interesting premise. Possible? Sobel writes:
I've had this theory about Tiger Woods for a few years -- and it has nothing to do with mistresses, sex rehabilitation or other tabloid fodder. From
temper tantrums after sprayed tee shots to profanity-laced tirades... Finally, I understood what was eating at the man, why he looked so miserable while he so often dominated. Tiger Woods no longer enjoys playing golf.
Don't get me wrong. Tiger doesn't dislike everything about the game. In fact,
he has thrived on performing in the competitive arena throughout his career. He loves winning, adores being better at a singular pursuit than every other person on the planet. He is driven to not only break every record, but to put each one out of reach for the next phenom who comes along.
That's not all. For better or worse, Woods might have also become dependent upon the luxuries that emanated from his status. Fame. Power. Money. If we are to believe the tabloid stories of his sordid affairs, each one fits this unraveling addictive personality. The game itself, though? The actual act of swinging the club and strategizing his way around a course and trying to get the ball into the hole in as few strokes as possible? That novelty wore off long ago.
Sobel goes on to compare Woods to Andre Agassi and his revelations of lost love for tennis in his autobiography. It's a pretty good point. His conclusion: "This should serve as a warning sign for those who wish to see him return to the competitive arena in the short term. If Woods doesn't need the money and no longer
feels genuine passion for his craft, then his recurring self-query might mirror that of an actor playing a role: What's my motivation?" What I learned from watching TV over the weekend - Phil Mickelson is getting the Tiger treatment until further notice. Have you seen Golf Channel's promos for the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines this week? Looks like it'll be all Phil, all the time.
- It's funny that the folks trying to sell videos of the Stack & Tilt swing method are still using the commercial featuring Aaron Baddeley, who slumped so badly last year that he junked it and moved on. (So has Mike Weir, not seen in the commercial.) I guess the schmoes buying the video don't need to know that.
- I learned that sex addiction is way too sexy a topic to ignore. NBC did a piece on it and so did CBS on its Sunday Morning show. CBS asked if sex addiction is real but didn't answer the question. Patrick Carnes, who popularized the term "sex addiction" in the 1980s and now runs the Gentle Path program in Hattiesburg, Miss., where Tiger Woods is allegedly holed up, said it is serious and should not be dismissed. A New York psychologist disagreed, likening the sex-addiction-made-me-do-it excuse to comedian Flip Wilson's old punchline, "The devil made me do it." What did I learn? If you're a TV show, you've got to finagle a way to get a story about Tiger Woods and sex on the air. It still sells.
- The best way to ruin a golf telecast, in my opinion, is to not show golf. This is what happened when I tuned in Friday to watch the Bob Hope Classic on Golf Channel. I was treated to some amateur hack hitting balls on the range while animated instructor Michael Breed (the Jim Cramer of golf teachers, who's hard not to like) gave him tips. It went on interminably. I guess I was supposed to learn to stick a business card in my golf glove to fix my takeaway. Instead, I reached for the remote. Golf Channel is already oversaturated with instruction and swing talk, so I don't understand why it would cut away from the single best thing it has going for it -- PGA Tour golf.

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