Every week GOLF senior writer Michael Bamberger identifies — and ranks — the absolute, undeniably, very best things in golf right now. This week, a special edition focused around this past weekend’s PNC Father/Son Challenge.
7. Best use of profanity
Courtesy of Lee Trevino. Watching the man remains a thrill and a joy. How cool, to see him playing golf with his lean ponytailed son, Daniel, who has a terrific swing that is nothing like his father’s. Lee Buck looks great, by the way, newly 79. He looks like a star and a legend, and of course he’s both. The silver hair and perfect haircut. The hard-collar Texas-made golf shirts with his emblem on them. Everything he does has style. He played for keeps, put his meaty arm around Big Jack at appropriate times, talked and told stories while signing autographs, did a Saturday-night military thing with John Daly on the driving range. When he was done with that, he plopped himself down in the passenger seat of a golf cart and said to his caddie, “I’m f—ing exhausted.” It’s hard, being a star all day long.
6. Best John Daly quip
“I gotta great future behind me.”
5. Best news out of the caddie yard
To generalize, the Tour caddies did not consider Tim Finchem to be a friend. By contrast, the newish guy, Jay Monahan, has been warmly embraced by them. Could be his upbringing. Caddies have high standing in the clubs around greater Boston, where Monahan grew up in a golfing family. (There are all manner of people working in Boston’s Financial District who had been Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund recipients as college students.) For years, the Tour caddies, as independent contractors, received no medical subsidy of any sort. In response to a lawsuit in the Finchem years, the Tour introduced a $2,000 annual contribution toward health coverage for Tour caddies. Since Monahan has become commissioner, that number has increased to $7,500. Bravo.
4. Best player-caddie partnerships
Matt Kuchar and his 11-year-old son, Cameron, keeping right up and doing a great job. Damon Green, recently fired from Zach Johnson’s bag, carrying Mike Furyk’s bag for the event. (That is, Jim’s father.) The junior Furyk, with Fluff, just like forever. Greg Norman and Tony Navarro, just like the old days.
3. Best future Father/Son dream team
Alastair Johnston is the 70-year-old vice chairman of IMG. The Father/Son event is his baby. In 1997, when Tiger won the Masters, he and Johnston were neighbors in Isleworth, the Orlando golf-and-housing development. “I saw him the next day and said, ‘Congratulations, you have now qualified for the Father-Son,’” Johnston recalled. Back then, you had to have won a major to get invited. (Now a Players win qualifies you, too.) “He looked at me and said, ‘What?’ He had no idea what I was talking about.” Now Johnston is counting the years until Tiger’s son, Charlie, who is 9, is ready to play. Unless Tiger’s daughter, Sam, 11, is ready first. It’s Father-Son in name only, really.
2. Best Ryder Cup insight from Jim Furyk
Furyk said that Patrick Reed knew “for weeks” before the Ryder Cup that he would be playing with Woods in Paris. “Tiger, as an assistant captain at the 2016 Ryder Cup and the 2017 Presidents Cup, had seen Patrick on a team. He said, ‘This kid’s tough as nails. I’d roll with him anytime.’ I’m asking all the players, who do you want to play with, who don’t you think you should play with. I knew how much Tiger likes Pat, how he admired his grit. My guys had a real good idea going to the Tour Championship who they would be playing with. They knew well in advance, weeks in advance, who they would be playing with. I thought Pat would embrace it, and he did.”
1. Best Tiger Woods insight from Nick Faldo
Sir Nick, winner of three green coats and the CBS golf analyst at the Masters, was asked at the Father-Son if he thinks Woods can win a fifth green jacket. “I had said no all the way, but now you have to give him a glimmer of hope. At Augusta, it’s your own mental pressures, hitting shots you don’t like. I don’t know if he can deal with that. You have to do the right thing because many of the guys will do the right thing. It’s not like the old days where you have to beat one or two guys.”
Michael Bamberger may be reached at [email protected].