Pavin Denies Tiger Pick What a difference a day makes. It was widely reported yesterday that American Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin told The Golf Channel’s Jim Gray that he would definitely use a captain’s pick on Tiger Woods if the world No. 1 didn’t make the team on his own. This morning, Pavin’s Twitter feed told a different story:
For the record, @golfchannel and Jim Gray has misquoted me re: picking Tiger. I never said such a thing and will not say a thing until 09/07
At first glance it’s hard to know what to make of this. The Golf Channel item, which was written by John Hawkins but based on Jim Gray’s reporting, seemed pretty clear-cut:
Big news out of Whistling Straits Tuesday afternoon: U.S. Ryder Cup skipper Corey Pavin told Golf Channel contributor Jim Gray that he will add Tiger Woods to the team if Woods doesn’t qualify. …”Of course I’m going to [pick him]. He’s the best player in the world,” Pavin told Gray Tuesday in the Whistling Straits clubhouse.
Needless to say, that’s not exactly an easy statement to misinterpret. Maybe Gray misheard him, or maybe the Ryder Cup captain thought he was speaking in confidence. Regardless, now that Tiger’s admitted that he’d happily take a captain’s pick if offered, it would be pretty interesting if Pavin decided not to offer him one. Can scrapping the cut save the Tour? If Tiger continues to struggle and ratings continue to decline,
there is going to come a time when the PGA Tour needs to do something
to plug the huge leak in viewership. The Wall Street Journal’s Matthew
Futterman brings an interesting idea to the table: shrink the field to ensure that no-name players can’t win.
If recent form holds, Sunday’s final round at the PGA
Championship will serve as a crowning moment for someone most sports
fans—even those who care a lot about golf—have never heard of.
In the past seven major championships, golfers who won had ended
their previous season with a cumulative average world ranking of 46.
But that’s not including Y.E. Yang, who won the 2009 PGA Championship
but wasn’t among the top 300 in the world before that season began.
Despite the obvious nature of the problem, nobody seems to be asking:
Why are these no-names being invited to the party in the first place?
A typical golf tournament is one of the larger fields in sports.
This week’s PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin will
have some 156 entrants, 22% more than the largest professional tennis
tournaments and 3½ times the number of cars in a Nascar race. Unlike
those sports, which favor the strongest competitors with better seeds
and starting positions, every player at a golf tournament starts with
the same blank slate.
So here’s the second seemingly obvious question for golf to ponder:
Couldn’t these tournaments solve this problem by inviting fewer golfers
to participate in the first place?
If any major has weathered the storm better than the others, it’s the
Masters. That’s the most selective major, with a field of 90 to 100
players in most years, who must receive an invitation to compete—and
who mostly are ranked among the top 50 in the world. The Masters cut
allows for only the players with the 44 lowest scores, including ties,
and those within 10 strokes of the lead to survive. Not surprisingly,
the tournament winner is more often a major star. This year’s winner,
Phil Mickelson, gave the tournament a 17% bump in the ratings from last
I was surprised at how often I found myself nodding in agreement as
I read Futterman’s argument (he goes into far more detail than I’ve got
the space for here, so definitely read the whole thing). And while the
PGA has said it’s not looking into doing away with the cut system, we
know that’s not entirely true–some of the Tour’s most popular events
in past years have been the WGC events like last week’s Bridgestone
Invitational, which feature small fields and no cuts (allowing fans to
watch Tiger hack his way through twice as many rounds). I think the
fans appreciate the variety that WGC-style events provide, so rather
than simply doing away with the cut altogether–which could seriously
stifle competition especially from younger players–the Tour should
instead consider one or two more events with smaller fields. And, if
they’ve got any sense at all they’ll add a few more match play events,
which are always fan favorites. Seoul Food Every year there is puff piece after puff piece about the Champions
Dinner at the Masters, but for some reason the equivalent meals at
other majors don’t seem to get the same hype. That ends now! The
well-named theseoulsearcher.com blog has a rundown of the Korean
specialties that defending PGA Championship winner Y.E. Yang served at last night’s dinner, and they sound pretty darn good.
So what’s on the menu?
Well since we all know golfers are all high class gentlemen and use
money for toilet paper, something tells me that the food these
champions are going to eat won’t be coming from Kimbab heaven (a Korean
The meal will come in four courses.
A team of four
Korean chefs led by Mr. Park Hyo-Nam, executive chef at the Millennium
Hilton Seoul, will fly to Chicago to help their peers in the American
Club to prepare the feast of Korean food.
For the appetizer, crepe purses stuffed with vegetables,
brochettes of beef and green onions, shrimp and cucumbers in pine nuts
and pear sauce, and some Korean dried snacks will be served.
The first dish will be jap-chae, a stir fried glass noodle dish with
thinly-sliced vegetables, followed by assorted jeon (mini pancakes),
made of halibut, mushrooms and zucchini.
The main course is bulgogi, Korean barbecued beef. The sauces in which
it has been marinated as well as the vegetables and sauces it is eaten
with make it very distinctive.
Last but not least, steamed rice, and clam soup with spinach will be served alongside banchan (small side dishes).
It sounds like the PGA champions are going to get an exposure to
high class Korean food, and this might actually improve the image of
Korean food amongst champion golfers in the world.
Okay, maybe it’s cheesy, but I love this story. With the way that
South Korea has become an almost instant force in women’s golf, it’s
easy to forget how enormous a deal it was for the small country when
Yang became the first Asian player to win a major last year. And while
part of me will never forgive Y.E. for taking that honor from the
indomitable K.J. Choi (who I still hope will get his major some day),
it’s worth noting that the four chefs sent to prepare this meal went at
the request of Park
Geun-hye, South Korea’s first lady. Winning the Masters may carry a bit
more clout than winning the PGA Championship, but I don’t think Phil
should be expecting a fruit basket from Michelle Obama any time soon.