Punch Shots: Lee Trevino on Phil, Lydia Ko and Butch would help Tiger
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.
The last Punch Shots: Lawsuits, Tiger and Charlie Sifford
- Lee Trevino on Phil: “I’d keep my mouth shut.” (Story by Golf Channel Digital at Golf Channel)
When Phil Mickelson decided to throw Tom Watson under the bus and back up over him faster than Jean van de Velde at Carnoustie, opinions were split on whether it was the right thing to do or not, and while he might be a little late to the party, we shouldn’t be surprised at Trevino defending Watson. Trevino spent years doing battle with Watson at the highest level and obviously has a great deal of respect for him, as he should and as I’m sure Mickelson does as well just like he has a ton of respect for Trevino, but make no mistake, Mickelson knew exactly what he was doing at Gleneagles. Everything he says is calculated and done with a purpose. He knew that if someone with his stature, regardless of his Ryder Cup record which Trevino pointed to, spoke up publicly, that things would change and even though I’m still trying to figure out the point of the Ryder Cup Task Force, at least they made some changes that should give them a better chance at winning this thing every two years.
Does Trevino have a point though about Mickelson’s record making a difference in what he should be saying? I don’t think so. Sure, he’s got a below .500 record at the Ryder Cup, but outside of Jim Furyk and Tiger, I doubt that you’ll find someone with his experience and knowledge about the event, plus you know that he actually cares about what’s being done. Also, this is probably the first and last time that we’ll ever hear Lee Trevino say that he would keep his mouth shut.
- Anirban Lahiri, the OWGR and Euro Tour bias (Story by Jake Nichols at Golf Analytics)
Jake Nichols has been doing some absolutely tremendous work at his blog, and the piece linked above on how the OWGR is biased towards the European Tour was fascinating. Anirban Lahiri has won two of the last three tournaments on the European Tour, taking the Malaysian and Indian Opens, and allowing him to move to 34th in the OWGR, past names like Brandt Snedeker and Ian Poulter. Assuming that Lahiri doesn’t fall off the map completely in the next month, he’s going to be in the Masters for the first time as well, and that’s great for him. I’m all for new players becoming exempt into tournaments, but as Nichols accurately outlines, it’s crazy how much better the PGA Tour is when compared to the European Tour on a weekly basis, at least in terms of field depth.
The OWGR being a flawed system isn’t exactly breaking news, but when you look at the breakdown from Nichols, it’s pretty obvious that something needs to change either with the rankings, or with how tournaments fill their fields based on its criteria.
- Back9Network comes to an end (Story by Golf News Net)
Ryan Ballengee dropped this story earlier in the week, and man, this sucks. In situations like this, there’s always a lot of good people behind the scenes that we don’t hear about that lose their jobs along with bigger names in front of the camera. As I mentioned in a previous Punch Shots when the company was apparently cutting staff, I really do believe that there’s room in the market for a secondary “competitor” to Golf Channel with a more progressive thought process and digital focus, and I really had some high hopes for Back9 but it just never seemed like they figured out who they were and what their focus was, especially when they got the TV deal with DIRECTV.
- Lydia Ko wins at Royal Melbourne (Story by Geoff Shackelford)
At this point, there really isn’t much to say about Lydia Ko that hasn’t already been said. She’s incredible and watching her win her sixth LPGA Tour event and ninth as a professional at just 17 years old was special. The fact that it came at Royal Melbourne, one of the world’s greatest courses, made it even better. Apparently she’s already talking about retirement at age 30 to become a psychologist, which might seem crazy to people in the game, but if she keeps on this path, there’s going to be nothing left for her to accomplish when she’s 25, much less 30 and it’s nice to see someone with ambitions outside of golf. Speaking of Ko…
- Geoff Ogilvy wants a mixed tour event (Story by Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press)
We all know that Geoff Ogilvy is really, really smart and he’s always thinking about ways that golf can improve, and this one makes a lot of sense at the pro level. When I talked about suggestions to improve the unwatchable Pebble Beach Pro-Am, one of the things that I mentioned was that golf legends could take the place of celebrities in the field, but Ogilvy’s idea that there should be some kind of mixed team tour event might be even better. The quality of play would be high and it would be a good thing to get the LPGA Tour some extra exposure, especially if it comes at a place that they don’t usually get to play. Let’s do it.
- The Vijay Singh/PGA Tour lawsuit (Story by Rex Hoggard at Golf Channel)
When Vijay was doing well at Riviera last week, I tweeted this:
The thought of Vijay winning a PGA Tour event, which would guarantee him starts wherever he wants for two years, is probably Tim Finchem’s worst nightmare aside from Tiger announcing that he’s going to retire and the lawsuit which already looked like a mess has now gotten even more hectic with Hoggard’s updates. I don’t really have a vested interest in this fight because Vijay’s career is largely over and paying much attention to him seems like a waste of time, but I see why he’s going after the Tour if he really thinks they’ve wronged him. He’s not giving up and I can’t imagine that Finchem and Co. are going to either.
In other words…
- Darren Clarke: Ryder Cup captain (Story at the official Ryder Cup site)
Golf’s worst kept secret came out recently when Darren Clarke was named as the captain of the 2016 European Ryder Cup team at Hazeltine, acting as the successor to Paul McGinley and unlike the U.S. captain, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who disagrees with the decision to appoint Clarke. Miguel Angel Jimenez was apparently the only other person who was seriously considered, but Clarke was the obvious choice and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Jimenez plays in 2016 at the age of 52. Clarke loves the Ryder Cup, is articulate and gets along with everyone who he runs into. It’s a perfect ft.
- Davis Love III was a unanimous choice? (Story by Tim Rosaforte at Golf Digest)
When I touched on this decision last week, I mentioned that I was surprised initially by the selection of Love to the U.S. captaincy but that once I thought about it, it started to make some sense. Then Tim Rosaforte dropped that piece of knowledge on us and I’m back to being confused again. I still have no problem with Love being the guy, but I really do struggle with the idea that Fred Couples, or someone else wasn’t even really talked about in those PGA of America Task Force meetings. I never understood the point of that group in the first place, and now that it’s come out that the only guy they really talked about was someone who had recently held the post, but was also in the room at the time, doesn’t exactly lend much credence to the idea that they were trying to fix whatever problem they think they have. The biggest problem of course is that the guy who sets the lineups every day can’t do a damn thing if the players keep playing like shit.
- Changes to the Ryder Cup selection process (Story by Coleman McDowell at Golf.com)
In addition to naming Love as the captain, the PGA of America announced some changes to the selection process which you can read about above. Let’s take a look:
No more Task Force
Instead of a task force, the PGA of America will now use a six man committee to handle all things related to the Ryder Cup, which is probably for the best even if it still sounds like a task force. Lee Westwood summed it up best:
Extending the deadline for qualification
Several people have referred to this as the Billy Horschel rule and it makes sense. The Americans were at a severe disadvantage ahead of Gleneagles because of their deadlines, which came three weeks earlier than the Europeans. Graeme McDowell qualified during the last week for Europe, knocking out Luke Donald who hadn’t played well enough in months to deserve a spot outright, and didn’t get selected with a pick either. Donald wouldn’t have caused them to lose if he had played, but having the best players available is what’s best and it’s good to see the PGA of America come to their senses and not have to hide behind excuses like family and travel arrangements when trying to justify their roster.
Ryder Cup assistant captains will be picked from groups
Four vice captains will join the captain going forward, with two of them being ex-captains and the other two having “extensive” Ryder Cup experience, with the intention that the guys in the second bucket will be groomed in the future for captaincy. This I don’t get in the least. You shouldn’t be pigeonholing yourself when it comes to your team or your captains, and this is exactly what they’re doing and what does “extensive Ryder Cup experience” even mean? More than one? At least four? Just seems strange to limit yourself.
Automatic qualifying has changed
Points being earned in the wraparound schedule have been eliminated, with 2016 points starting in January, while majors, the WGC’s and the PLAYERS Championship from 2015 will count as well. I’m fine with this because it should eliminate guys like Robert Streb (sorry, Robert) from getting a leg up on players who are better than him.
- Rory to consult with Jeff Knox
There’s no one out there who knows the grounds of Augusta better than Knox, who apparently is a super nice guy on top of being a really good player. I don’t know how much this’ll help Rory’s pursuit of the career grand slam, but it can’t hurt.
- Butch would listen if Tiger called (Story by ESPN)
We’ll end off on a story about Tiger because, of course we will. This really should have been a non-story but it became one for obvious reasons and in reality, Butch had to say this. Think about what his options are:
- Butch says he wants nothing to do with Tiger, like he has hinted at in the past.
- If he does this, he either looks like he’s scared to work with him because he thinks there’s nothing he can do to help him, or he looks like an ass for refusing to help one of the greatest players of all-time.
- Butch says he would take Tiger’s call.
- One of two things happens if Tiger and Butch reunite. Tiger gets it together and he goes on another run, where Butch will get a ton of credit for helping turn him around or Tiger keeps going down the same path he’s been on for the past few years and nobody blames Butch because he was given damaged goods in the first place.
There’s literally no downside in Butch saying he would talk with Tiger, and that’s still true if the two started working together again but he also knows that the chances of Tiger calling are about the same as Kate Upton calling me. This way, Butch still comes off as squeaky clean and the reunion offer is on the table. It’s a win-win.