Punch Shots: Lawsuits, Tiger and Charlie Sifford
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. Hat tip to Geoff Shackelford, who curated a good chunk of these stories already.
The Last Punch Shots: Tiger, DJ and Robert Allenby
- Rory McIlroy settles his lawsuit with Horizon (Story by James Corrigan at the Telegraph)
It had the chance to turn ugly, but on Wednesday, Rory McIlroy and his former representatives at Horizon Sports Management decided to settle for a reported £20 million. I suppose we really shouldn’t be surprised that they decided to settle and in all honesty, it’s probably best for both sides that they didn’t end up really going to trial. Conor Ridge and Horizon get to move on and focus on their other clients, while Rory, after a large payout, can put all of his energy into golf.
As it relates to Rory, this definitely had the potential to weigh on him long term, but he certainly didn’t show any ill effects last week when he ran over the field in Dubai. As Corrigan pointed out, even though McIlroy has agreed to pay Ridge and company a ton of money, that total didn’t even reach his earnings of last year when you factor in his endorsements.
- Caddies sue the PGA Tour for $50 million (Story by Darren Heitner of Forbes)
If Rory’s lawsuit had a relatively certain outcome, I have no idea what to make of this one. From Heitner’s article:
The class-action complaint seeks damages from the PGA Tour for forcing the caddies to wear logos of the PGA Tour’s corporate sponsors on their bibs without providing any compensation. The PGA Tour allegedly receives tens of millions of dollars from corporate sponsors in exchange for the advertising on the bibs.
It’s going to shock you to know that I’m not a lawyer, so I’m not going to try and figure out the intricacies of the actual suit itself, but if it’s true that the PGA Tour is making that kind of coin on the bibs, the caddies probably have a right to be upset that they haven’t seen a dime of it, even with them not being employed by the players and not the tour itself. What’s going to be interesting is how the players respond. If a big name player, say Phil Mickelson or Rickie Fowler, comes out in support of the caddies, that could be a pretty significant thing. However, this is a little troubling:
Regardless, I’m sure that the tour wants this to go away as quick as possible. I’m also using this as an opportunity to embed this tweet:
- Lydia Ko moves to number one in the world (Story by the Associated Press)
When I wrote my 2014 Golf Wishes piece in December of 2013, I talked about how I hoped that Lydia Ko knew what she was doing in moving on from her long time swing coach Guy Wilson and joining up with David Leadbetter. It’s clear that the move has worked out just fine as Ko won three times on the LPGA Tour last season and after her runner-up finish in the 2015 season opener, she’s climbed to number one in the world rankings at just 17 years old.
Tiger held the previous mark for youngest player of either gender to be the world’s number one ranked player at 21 years of age, so that should help put this in context. Most people at Ko’s age are busy figuring out what college they want to go to and trying not to get caught doing something stupid by their parents, but Ko’s not only playing professional golf, she’s sitting on top of her sport. The LPGA had a fantastic 2014, and with Ko, Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Lexi Thompson and others, there’s no reason to believe that it won’t continue for the next decade plus.
Even though this only happened this past weekend, I feel like we’re not talking about this enough. The amount of coverage that a teenaged amateur gets when they do well in one tournament on the PGA Tour gets mentioned ad nauseam, but Ko’s ranked as the BEST PLAYER IN HER SPORT AT 17 and it seems like it’s barely getting discussed.
- BBC loses the Open Championship to Sky Sports (Story at the BBC)
This has become a big story in the United Kingdom for obvious reasons, as the R&A has decided to move away from the BBC after the 2016 Open at Troon, ending a partnership of live coverage that has lasted sixty years and moving on to the more financially lucrative deal with Sky Sports. For those who are unaware, the BBC is “free TV”, meaning that anyone in the UK can watch, where Sky Sports is “pay TV”, with a reach of apparently about 30% of households and that has left many people, Lee Westwood included, questioning if it’s the right move when trying to grow the game.
For their part, the R&A has commented and said that the new agreement will allow them to assist more in the development of golf in the UK, which seems like a stretch if you take the cynical approach, but until we see what they do with the extra money, it’s a touch unfair. As far as the actual coverage goes, losing Peter Alliss is a blow to people who have watched the game for as long as I have, but from what I’ve seen of the Sky Sports coverage, it’s really quite good and a little more forward thinking than that of the BBC. If they can push the envelope a little further in terms of digital coverage as well, this could be a very good move for the Open and as James Corrigan pointed out, the BBC will still have two hour highlight recaps at the end of each day, and those could be quite valuable for people who either can’t watch at the time because of other commitments or if they don’t have Sky.
As much as I understand the frustration, times have changed and the move makes sense for the R&A.
- Tiger’s 50-1 at Torrey Pines (Story by Sean Zak at Golf.com)
I think there’s some kind of rule that I have to talk about Tiger in every one of these posts. There was some shock and horror earlier this week when the odds were released for the Farmers and Tiger was listed as a 50-1 shot, the highest price of his professional career. Throw in the fact that it’s at Torrey, where he’s won eight times and it becomes even weirder, but after watching the disaster last week in Phoenix, it probably should have been higher. Vegas knew exactly what they were doing with this line, and it’s working too because it was actually lowered yesterday to around 40-1, meaning that people have started to drop their money on a guy who fired an 82 last week and looked even worse than that.
At this point, I think people would be better off investing in a U.S. Ryder Cup win.
- Phil thinks Tiger will have the last laugh (Story by Ryan Lavner at Golf Channel)
Phil Mickelson isn’t an idiot. When he speaks, he usually says things for a reason and Wednesday was a prime example of that. He knew that when he spoke to the media prior to his teeing it up at Torrey that they would ask him about Tiger and what’s going on with his short game and he wasn’t going to be caught off guard, suggesting that Tiger “will have the last laugh”, but he did suggest that there’s only one way to chip effectively, which kinda flies in the face of Tiger’s comments about patterns and process and whatever else he’s saying to convince himself that he’s going to be just fine.
Phil was never going to throw Tiger under the bus here and he could be correct. I think there’s part of all of us that thinks that Tiger is too good to be this bad, but as I tweeted yesterday, arguably the greatest short game player of all-time went through the exact same thing as well:
- John Daly on Golf Channel Academy (Video at Golf Channel)
When I saw the promos for John Daly’s Golf Channel Academy episodes with Gary Williams, I was intrigued and after watching them (on driving, short game and putting), it really did give some insight into what Daly’s thought process was and is while on the course. Unsurprisingly, he’s very old school in his approach but listening to him talk about the swing and the way he practices was really interesting and I recommend catching any of the replays that Golf Channel is sure to run over the next few weeks. Watching him hit one-handed bunker shots to a few feet was something else.
- David Feherty
I don’t have a link to a story here, but watching the two Feherty Live episodes last week reaffirmed one thought in my head: David Feherty is insanely good at his job. Doing live TV is difficult, and being able to navigate that kind of format with golfers, non-golfers and entertainers while never missing a beat is beyond impressive. He’s quick on his feet and not afraid to be self-deprecating, even though I think he’s a little hard on himself when he talks about how good of a player he was before he had to call it quits.
He’s the most entertaining person in golf, and honestly, it’s not even close.
- Rickie Fowler, BMX and aggressiveness
With last week’s stop in Phoenix, Golf Channel was showing footage of prior years at the Waste Management, and Rickie Fowler’s lay up on 15 back in 2010 was shown as one of the biggest blunders in tournament history. Fowler didn’t go at the green in two, preferring to play his third from about 85 yards. He ended up leaving it short of the green and eventually lost by one to Hunter Mahan despite all four of his rounds being in the 60’s and posting a 15-under par total. We can talk about Fowler’s decision to lay up and how it may have cost him the tournament, and certainly I’m not an advocate of the safe approach, but multiple people on the Golf Channel mentioned that it was shocking to them at the time because as a big motocross guy, Fowler was used to being aggressive.
What? I assume that they had to go to the doctor for rotator cuff soreness after reaching for that one. Librarians must always lay up when they play golf, I guess.
- Richard Green’s ace
You will never see a more ridiculous ace than this from Richard Green in Australia. Apparently, it hit a rake in the bunker.
- Charlie Sifford passes away (Story by Geoff Shackelford)
We’ll end off on a sad note with the news of Charlie Sifford’s passing at the age of 92. If you don’t know Sifford’s story, I highly suggest that you take the time and read up on it, but I’ll leave three links below from the past couple of days that I thought were good reads:
- Joe Posnanski: RIP Charlie Sifford
- Golf Digest: My Shot with Charlie Sifford
- Pinehurst: Willie McRae remembers Charlie Sifford with an Arnold Palmer story