CHARLOTTE - As far as the major sports go, the PGA Tour is pretty benign. The guys all make the same beige comments during interviews, all have political views that range from right to far right, and all list "hunting and fishing" as their "interests" in the media guide.
Follow the Tour closely enough, though, and certain things can start to grate on you.
Best player who hasn't won a major? Who cares? How about the best players who never win, period. It pains me to watch Paul Stankowski and Tim Heron muddle their way through mediocre Tour careers. Neither player is tearing it up this season, YTD, statistically. But Stankowski often flirts with leading the Tour in eagles, and Herron kills the ball off the tee and is a well above average ball striker. If Ben Curtis and Shaun Micheel have majors under their belts, Stankowski and Herron should at least bag a couple nons every year. But Stankowski hasn't won since 1997 and Herron's last victory was at Bay Hill in 1999.
And speaking of the best player who hasn't won a major - how can anyone trot Sergio Garcia's name out in good faith while Colin Montgomerie is still under 50-years of age and actively competing. So what if he isn't a PGA Tour member and plays almost exclusively in Europe these days. The man was one of the top players in the game just five years ago and is still one of the best Ryder Cup performers of all time. He has over 40 wins worldwide to Sergio's 11 (four PGA, six European, and one Asian). Yet just as quickly as we jumped all over him for whining every time he heard a can of beer open in the gallery, we've gotten off his case about this major thing.
For better or worse, the BPWHWM debate has been eclipsed of late by Tiger Talk. There's the increasingly tired "Tiger Slump" subplot which has been the subject of so man golf columns that publishers should refuse to waste the newsprint on any more. I'm not one to root for Woods, but if he wins at Shinnecock, can we put the slump story to bed? But then there's the superfluous "Tiger and Butch" soap opera. If this doesn't smack of media sensationalism, what does? Heck, let's just put them in separate interrogation rooms and have Jack Bauer grill them until they break. Who cares if they lie just to get out from under the torturous scrutiny? At least we'll have a don't-let-the-facts-get-in-the-way-of-a-good-story, story, and we can move on to other pressing trivial matters.
Do you get tired of all the "golf courses on Tour are getting too long banter?" I do. David Duval once said (and I paraphrase) that distance should be considered part of the skill set that players have to master. Of course, Duval and skill set are rarely mentioned in the same breath these days. But I tend to agree. If diminutive players like Zach Johnson and string beans like Charles Howell can average over 285 yards off the tee, golf courses in the 7,200 to 7,400 yard range shouldn't raise any eyebrows. PGA Tour players have access to state-of-the-art fitness equipment, nutritionists and personal trainers. If they choose not to take advantage of these perks, then they are perfectly welcome to spend their time honing their long iron game, short game, or putting - the great equalizers.
Speaking of putting, does anyone else think all the hullabaloo about long putters is just a conspiracy among golf ball manufacturers to draw people's attention away from the small, white objects that seem to fly 50 yards further than they did 10 years ago?
Early U.S. Open picks: David Toms to win, Darren Clarke to place, and Woods to show.
June 4, 2004
Simply select where you want to play, find a tee time deal, and golf now!