Spy on Golf: Week’s Headliners Span the Globe

A quick trek around the golf galaxy, with stops in South Korea, Oregon and Jupiter on the itinerary.

Your in-flight movie is “Drive,” so we can all figure out how the film inspired a California man to toss a hot dog in the general direction of Tiger Woods last Sunday. Sometimes, truth really is stranger than fiction…

Rickie Fowler

Rickie Fowler

Fowler wins, draws yawns: Much debate this week about Rickie Fowler’s victory at the Korean Open, a stop on the OneAsia tour. Thanks to its remote dateline, Fowler’s first win as a pro was met with a collective so-what by a large chunk of pundits.

But considering he won by six shots over fellow wunderkind Rory McIlroy, we’d say Fowler deserves some credit. Former PGA champion Y.E. Yang finished 11 shots behind despite the home-country advantage.

Prediction: Fowler wins at least twice in 2012. On the PGA Tour, that is.

A-Bandon hope, Pebble Beach: All hail Bandon Dunes, the new king of North American resort golf. So says Golf Digest, and – having yet to make the Bandon pilgrimage -- who am I to argue?

Frankly, I have no desire to debate GD on this one. Given Bandon’s expansion to four courses, all of which rank among America’s 100 best, it was only a matter of time before Mike Keiser’s pure-golf wonderland knocked Pebble Beach Resorts from the top spot.

If you’re thinking of visiting all 75 properties, you’d better be well funded. Nineteen of them feature nightly room rates of $500 or more, including the breathtaking $1,445 commanded by Sandy Lane in Barbados.

At a paltry $250, Bandon’s a relative bargain, too.

Jupiter is the new Orlando: If it often seems the pros’ games are other-worldly, this might be why: A large number of them have relocated to Jupiter.

Sorry, wrong Jupiter. Apparently, Jupiter, Florida, is the hot place to be for the PGA Tour’s elite. Everyone knows Tiger Woods recently moved into his $54 million palace on Jupiter Island, but the likes of Dustin Johnson, Luke Donald and Charl Schwartzel have also set up shop in or near the Palm Beach County golf haven.

As luck would have it, this blog is based in Jupiter as well. Here’s hoping some of that pro golfer mojo rubs off on the locals.

Els supplies belly laugh: We nominate this paradoxical gem from Ernie Els, addressing his use of a belly putter, for Quote of the Year: “As long as it’s legal, I’ll keep cheating like the rest of them.”

Now that honors for the year’s best quote and headline (Saltman wins body weight in ham for hole-in-one) are wrapped up, all that’s left are trivial titles like Player of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Leading Money Winner.

We almost forgot: Brandon Kelly of Petaluma, Calif., the man who threw the wiener at Woods, is our Tosser of the Year.

Golf Claps & Silent Treatment: Frys.com Open

October 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Entertaining News, Golf News, Pro Insider, Spy Blog 

This weekend’s golf tournaments should’ve been broadcast on the Food Network.

With ham and hot dogs flying on the European and PGA tours, we kept waiting for Alton Brown to take over the play-by-play.

Bryce Molder wins the Frys.com Open

Bryce Molder

In case you missed it, the weekend started with Elliott Saltman winning a Spanish ham for his hole-in-one at the Madrid Masters, and ended with some lunatic tossing a frankfurter – bun and all – at Tiger Woods during the Frys.com Open.

Too bad it wasn’t the Fries.com instead.

The unusual spate of food-related news nearly overshadowed Bryce Molder’s clutch playoff victory over Briny Baird. Actually, Woods’ return from a two-month sabbatical did eclipse Molder’s breakthrough, at least in the eyes of media and fans.

But that’s nothing new.

Herewith, our weekly list of the week’s pros and cons. Ketchup, mustard and relish not included:

Golf Claps

Bryce Molder: Since leaving Georgia Tech in 2001, Molder’s career has been one long cautionary tale. A can’t-miss kid who (mostly) missed, Molder was bounced from the PGA Tour in 2002, spent several years kicking around the Nationwide circuit, then played reasonably well on the big tour the past two seasons.

The beauty of golf, though, is that second acts are common. Molder has clearly matured, evidenced by his gritty, six-hole playoff win capped by a cathartic birdie putt. Having waited until the ripe old age of 31 to grab his maiden victory, maybe Molder can finally start living up to all that promise.

Tiger Woods: It’s tempting to stick him on the Silent Treatment list, what with Woods’ ho-hum tie for 30th at 7-under par. But he seemed to get things heading in the right direction after an opening 73, going 68-68-68 and briefly reaching the top 10 on Sunday.

Everyone forgets how well Tiger played at the Masters, where he tied for fourth and appeared to have his swing changes nearly sorted out. If he can stay healthy long enough for Sean Foley’s teaching to really take, we could see something approaching the Tiger of old pretty soon.

Silent Treatment

Briny Baird: We’re loath to relegate the likeable Baird to the jeers column; he did little wrong during the tournament proper or playoff, holing an eagle chip on 17 to send it to overtime. But Baird had the trophy in his grasp twice during extra holes, and couldn’t convert birdie putts from 8 and 12 feet. Still winless after 348 Tour starts, Baird doesn’t figure to get many more chances like that.

Paul Casey: As the top-ranked player in the field, Casey looked like the favorite despite a two-shot deficit entering the final round. A charge never materialized, however, as Casey stumbled with a pair of sixes on the front nine en route to an even-par 71. He was the only player among the top 23 finishers not to break par Sunday.

Golfer Wins $10K Ham and Other Headline News

October 7, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Entertaining News, Golf News, Pro Insider, Spy Blog 

Cruising the web, perusing some favorite sites, using our golf-dar to identify random news items upon which to opine.

It’s relatively quiet, aside from a certain player’s return to action (if not form) after a two-month layoff. We did uncover a few stories worth noting, however, including a contender for the title of: Best. Headline. Ever.

Saltman wins body weight in ham for hole-in-one

When Elliott Saltman, a Scottish pro best known for his three-month suspension on charges of cheating, aced the third hole during the first round of the Madrid Masters, he won something better than a new Cadillac or BMW. He won his weight in cured Spanish ham.

Scottish golfer Elliott Saltman

Elliott Saltman

This fellow is no shrimp -- Saltman tips the scales at 240 pounds --  and this is no ordinary ham. Saltman’s hunk of hog is reportedly worth €8,000, or the equivalent of about $10,600.

“This is going to last me until next Christmas,” Saltman told Reuters, “nevermind this one.”

For that matter, he’s got enough to carve out a nice emergency ham, Homer Simpson style.

Can’t wait for Cantlay

American golf fans, desperately seeking one of their own to challenge the world’s top young guns, may have their man: Patrick Cantlay, the 19-year-old wiz kid from UCLA.

Already verging on household-name status thanks to a brilliant summer, Cantlay added another notch to his belt in the first round of the Frys.com Open. Paired with Tiger Woods, Cantlay breezed to a 2-under 69 while Tiger struggled to shoot 73 in his first competitive round since August.

It was nothing new for Cantlay, the NCAA player of the year as a freshman, low amateur at the U.S. Open, and owner of the PGA Tour record for lowest round by an amateur (60, at the Travelers Championship).

Cantlay will return to UCLA for at least one more season at the collegiate level. Hopefully, he’ll soon challenge Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Ryo Ishikawa et al for world supremacy.

Worst shot in golf? The shank tops them all

Golf Digest recently asked readers to name their most frustrating shots. Not surprisingly, the shank was the “winner,” beating out the humiliating whiff, soul-crushing yip and humbling top.

We didn’t vote, but agree that the shank is the worst of the worst. Unlike a whiff or a top, the hosel rocket often ends up unplayable. And while the yips are equally hard to shake, there’s an easy way around them: just pick it up and call it good.

If your partners/competitors complain, ask them if they really want to watch you miss another 2-footer. The yips are contagious little buggers.

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