Truth and Rumors: Jack says it's not U.S. Tour anymore, Harrington refracts and Golfsmith has another giveaway

Jack's back at itAs I noted last week, Jack Nicklaus has been anything but shy lately
about discussing how the PGA Tour handles (and should handle) its
business. At yesterday's press conference for his Memorial Tournament,
Jack was asked about requiring players to compete in a certain amount
of tournaments. Nicklaus was pretty clear about his feelings on the subject (transcript courtesy of ASAP sports):

is happening on the Tour today is you have got your four major
championships. You have got your world championships. You have got your
other significant events. By the time you get done with it, and it's
not a U.S. Tour anymore. This is World Tour, whether you think it is or
not. The players from around the world, if they're going to come here
-- let's say they're required to play 12 events here. That is a lot of
events for them to play. They have got to go home and support their own
Tour. So that is a lot of golf for these guys. So you start designating
them to play more, it really becomes a difficult situation.
While it's hard to argue with Jack's response, I can't help but feel
a little disappointed in it. As is often pointed out (even by Jack
earlier in his response), golfers are independent contractors. They
don't have contracts with teams or owners, and they are responsible for
themselves. At the same time, the PGA Tour (like nearly every other
business) is struggling right now, and it seems like common sense that
the more that players contribute to (read: play in) less prestigious
tournaments, the more likely those events are to stay up and running
through the tough economy. As entitled as Nicklaus is to his opinion,
it's also important to remember that he's got a bit of a skewed
perspective on this issue: the top players actually show up to his
tournament. TMI?Needless to say, the PGA Tour is in an era of unsurpassed physical fitness. The Tiger revolution has spurred even the most laid back Tour pros to try Yoga, resistance training and any assortment of high energy diets. As Karl MacGinty of Ireland's The Independent reports, 3-time Major winner Padraig Harrington is taking things just a bit further to get out of his current slump, including using a device known as a refractometer.
Every day, Harrington will use a hand-held refractometer to determine if he is properly hydrated. He simply places a drop of urine on the prism and forwards the results to his health and fitness specialist Dr Liam Hennessy for analysis.
On the 15 to 20 weeks per year that Dr Hennessy travels with the Irishman to tournaments, the medic himself will conduct daily blood, urine and stress testing on Harrington to ensure he is in peak physical condition, especially going into that crunch time at tournaments -- Sunday afternoon.
Until recently, the fitness director at the IRFU, Dr Hennessy, played a key role in the success of Irish rugby entering the professional era, helping to develop the speed and mobility of our players at a time when others opted for brute strength.
Yet his work on Harrington's physiology is just one facet of the Dubliner's 24/7 devotion to the pursuit of further success at the Majors. If it is within reason (and, of course, the rules) he is willing to give anything a try.
I highly recommend reading the rest of that article, as MacGinty also goes into some of the other (and more conventional) methods that Harrington is using to get himself back to top form. But let's not kid ourselves, the real news here is that Harrington has his urine checked every day for optimal hydration levels. Listen, I know these guys are professional athletes and that they want their bodies performing at the highest possible levels, but...really? If John Daly can win two majors with more Diet Coke than water in his bloodstream, I think we can assume that there's a lot more to winning golf tournaments than peak fitness. What surprises me most about this story is that I always think of Harrington as an old-school player. In fact, we chose Harrington to test some 50-year-old equipment for our 50th Anniversary Issue for that exact reason. Is this sort of reliance on fitness technology playing it smart or just plain desperation? Only the leaderboards will tell us that. Giving it all awayApparently Golfsmith's Phil Mickelson Master's giveaway was a smashing success, because they're doing it again. From the Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch:
Just months after Phil Mickelson's Masters win resulted in Golfsmith giving away a $1 million in golf clubs, the nation's largest specialty golf retailer, hopes to have a repeat performance with another million dollar golf club giveaway.
Golfsmith is teaming up with TaylorMade and a trio of golfers, two-time U.S. Open Champion Retief Goosen, Sergio Garcia and Sean O'Hair with a new national promotion tied to the U.S. Open Golf Championship.
"Pick a Pro and Win" gives customers an opportunity to win new TaylorMade drivers, free of charge, if Garcia, Goosen or O'Hair, is victorious at Pebble Beach. Now through June 16 golfers who purchase one of three new TaylorMade drivers -- the R9 Super Tri, Burner SuperFast or the R9 460 driver -- at any Golfsmith store across the country will have the purchase price of their TaylorMade driver fully refunded by Golfsmith if the player they choose -- Garcia, Goosen or O'Hair -- wins the U.S. Open. Like the Phil Mickelson promotion, Golfsmith has purchased an insurance policy to cover the promotion.
Talk about a no-lose situation. The free press alone was well worth whatever insurance premiums Golfsmith has paid on these promotions in the past. Those premiums must be pretty steep though, as Golfsmith keeps making this giveaway more and more likely. The first time they ran the promotion in 2009, customers had to pin their hopes on perennial major disappointment Garcia. After the goodwill provided by Lefty's Masters victory, Golfsmith had the sense to make the goal more attainable, adding Goosen and O'Hair into the mix. Expect a slight spike in TaylorMade sales over the next few weeks, and a bunch of white-knuckled spectators at your clubhouse bar come the Open. Still, as my colleague Mike Walker told me, "If they really wanted to get people excited, they'd just give away the million dollars."

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by Kevin Cunningham