Punch Shots: Tiger, DJ and Robert Allenby
Punch Shots is a collection of stories that I didn’t get around to earlier or didn’t fit into another article. I’ll give a link to a larger story and have some quick thoughts below. It’s actually been over a year since I posted one of these, but I’m going to try and make it a weekly thing going forward.
The last Punch Shots: Moving The Match Play
When this story broke last week, as with anything that revolves around Tiger, it blew up. Then the explanation came for how it happened, and it blew up again because honestly, no one believed that Big Cat lost a tooth by getting hit with a camera in Italy. As you would expect though, Tiger and his team are sticking with the story and in his pre-Phoenix presser yesterday, he gave a detailed account of how it all went down, so maybe it happened? I don’t know, and moreover, I really don’t care how he lost it either. The important thing is that he’s back on the course and he seems to be healthy for the first time in over a year.
The whole thing was just another example of our obsession with a man who has towered over the sport for so long that even as he turns 40, and with all of the talent around us these days, he’s still the guy that matters most.
SI had the exclusive story on Johnson’s impending return to golf at Torrey Pines, and outside of the Jostens header photo, Pete Thamel does a pretty good job of relaying Johnson’s side of things. The timing of course is dubious at best because much like Tiger, I don’t think there’s really anyone that believes Johnson wasn’t suspended by the PGA Tour just over six months ago for a drug violation.
Making it even harder to believe is Johnson’s sit down with Tom Rinaldi at ESPN, who asked the 8-time PGA Tour winner point blank about the rumoured cocaine suspension and the answer he gave was less than convincing:
Gleneagles press conference aside, you won’t see a golfer more uncomfortable with the press than that. The point really though is that after watching the birth of his first child, Johnson will be back in a couple of weeks at the Farmers Insurance Open to try and resume what still looks like a promising career, assuming he can stay on the course.
I’m not really sure where to begin with this one. All of the details are available in the link above in case you’ve been living under the rock that Allenby allegedly smashed his face against, but as Jason Sobel accurately pointed out yesterday in his piece for Golf Channel, I’m not sure what Allenby’s plan was here with going to the media.
If he had just kept quiet for a couple of weeks, say by pulling out of a couple events with an injury, and came back in a month, no one would have said anything but he’s the one who showed up on the weekend of the Sony Open and talked with Steve Sands. He’s the one who called the presser yesterday to, I guess, air his grievances with the media and ask that everyone just let the investigation continue as if anyone was actually getting in the way of the proceedings in the first place. He was the one who complained about not having any friends in the media and that we should be cognizant of the fact that he has kids who are still growing up. When the story first broke, Allenby was rightfully garnering sympathy because if the story that he told turned out to be true, it’s a really shitty thing to have happen to someone but now that the story has started to crumble, Allenby has gone on the offensive and it makes no sense. Australian broadcaster Luke Elvy chimed in on Twitter last night:
Note to Allenby: it’s not the job of the media to befriend the players. Their job is to report on what’s going on in and around the golf world, and thanks to you bringing it to their attention, this story falls under that definition. You can’t tell go on live TV and tell a story and then blame the people for following up, especially when the details that you can’t fully remember, are sketchy at best. By the way, have fun this week on the 16th.
- Broadcast changes
Golf broadcasts have come a long way over the years and they’re about to get even smarter too with expanded roles for both David Duval and Frank Nobilo. Duval, who will still be playing from time to time and has previously worked for ESPN, has joined up with Golf Channel to provide his insight on a more regular basis and his work has already been solid. He’s smart, articulate and because he’s still seen fairly regularly on tour, he should have more insight than most into what’s going on with the pros.
Nobilo has been a fixture on Golf Channel for the last few years, doing studio shows and colour commentary for certain events, and while that will continue, he’s moving on to CBS as well to take over for the retiring Peter Oosterhuis. Nobilo might be the smartest ex-player we have doing commentary, so I’m happy to see him get a chance with a wider audience at CBS, but more than just being smart, he’s funny and when the situation calls for it, he has no problem being critical of the players or anyone else involved in golf. His “discussion” with Brandel Chamblee from last year, while bordering on the slightly nerdy swing mechanics side of things, was great television.
- Relying on the numbers
Not going to take too much time on this, but that tweet from Richie Hunt is a good example of the narrative versus numbers debate that has been happening for a while in other sports and is just now starting to creep up in golf. Just something to keep in mind.
- Recognizing the Champions Tour
For the longest time, I’ve looked at the Champions Tour as a place for guys like Michael Allen to prolong their careers, but the Champions Tour has assembled quite a fun roster over the last few years and it’s honestly worth watching if you’re a golf fan. Miguel Angel Jimenez is a must watch whenever he tees it up, and when he’s going against Bernhard Langer, Fred Couples, Colin Montgomerie and others, it’s a good time and I think you can make the argument that in some cases, the fields are nearly comparable to some of the events on the PGA and European Tours.
Admittedly it’s a tough thing, but there should be some way for the people behind the OWGR to credit tournaments on the Champions Tour, even if it is at a lower rate. If some random Asian Tour event winner can get points, surely Miguel should get something for his win last week, right?
- How good is the European Tour?
It should come as no surprise that I’m a big fan of the guys at NLU, but this is a valid point that’s worth discussing: When Branden Grace won last week, the field was pretty good in Qatar, but for the most part, the European Tour struggles to get the players out at the level of the PGA Tour because of a variety of factors, namely money. I think Grace is a great example of a player that should be playing in North America because of his skill level but doesn’t for whatever reason, and it sucks because it would be great to see the best players at the best tournaments and the only way to really do that is to get that much talked about “global golf tour” off the ground. Eventually I figure we’ll get there, but there’s obviously still a lot of hurdles to jump over before anything like that can be discussed.
When the R&A finally decided to step out of the 1800s and allow women to join the organization, the focus turned to places like Muirfield and Troon, two clubs that have staunchly refused to allow women in the past and who still host the Open Championship as part of the rota. The fact is that these clubs have a much bigger responsibility to equality based on their visibility in the golf community, and I’m betting that the R&A hinted in their direction that if they didn’t change their policy, that the possibility existed that the Open, and the money that comes with hosting the event, would disappear from their club.
- Phil’s schedule
Much has been made about the schedule that Phil Mickelson will be running this year, dropping two of his favourite events in Pebble and Riviera so he can spend more time with his family while his kids are on break. He mentioned that he will likely add events later in the year to make up for it, and you can bet that he’ll still get to around the twenty starts that he made in 2014 while giving a boost to the tournaments he adds sometime after the Masters. It’s going to be interesting to see how often he plays before the U.S. Open though, as we pretty much know that’s the most important thing on his schedule for 2015.
- John Peterson
Just wanted to point out how great that tweet was. Moving on.
The story from Ryan Ballengee linked above is tough because to me, there’s a need for an alternative news source covering golf and Back9 has the potential to be that source. So far, I’ve found that they’ve kinda struggled in trying to define who they are, and what content they’re trying to deliver, at least from a digital perspective. Hopefully everything works out there for everyone involved.
- Golf Channel turns 20
Last week, Golf Channel had their 20th anniversary, which is pretty incredible after hearing and reading all of the stories about how badly they were lampooned from the genesis of the network. Many people, including myself, have taken them to task in the past over their coverage and some of the things they do, but in all honesty, they’ve helped grow the game exponentially and I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be as big of a fan of the game as I am if it wasn’t for Golf Channel.
- What can we expect of Tiger this week?
We’ll end off on the big one. PGATour.com did a great job with this oral history of Tiger’s ace at Scottsdale in 1997, so read that when you get a chance.
Feel free to disagree, but Tiger’s latest comeback feels different to me. The much talked about swing changes under Chris Como look good and while I’ve always thought that his “dull” press conferences were a little overblown, he was engaging and fun when he did he pre-tournament presser on Tuesday. The fact that he’s actually changing his schedule, sans appearance fee, should be a sign of things as well, at least in the sense that he knows things needed to change if he wanted to keep progressing in his career. He knows he needs more reps, and the only way to really get them is by playing tournament golf.
It’s hard to believe that later this year he’ll be turning 40. In the field in Qatar last week, there was a player that at just 14-years old, wasn’t alive to watch Tiger win his first THREE majors and save for a few names, most of the best players in the world weren’t getting trampled on when Tiger was at his peak. The “fear factor” that everyone always talked about, whether it was real or not, is definitely not present anymore but as I’ve said in the past, the last time Tiger was healthy, he won five times. If he’s healthy again, there’s no reason to believe that he’s not going to turn it around like he does every single time he’s been counted out. I’m not telling you that he’s going to come out in Phoenix, make another ace, win by twelve and set himself up for a grand slam season but for the first time in years, and truth be told, I’d be surprised if he contended for the win after being off for the last little while, but he’s never been one to do what was expected.