Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Golf Headlines For 2009.

Anyone and everyone is rehashing the year of golf in 2008. Lists and top ten moments are as affordable as GM stock. You don't have to be Nostradamus to peek into the past. Predictions are where it's at. Average Golfer reveals 2009's biggest headlines, right here, right now.

  • Wie Wins a Tournament - I don't know which one, but a refocused Michelle will win at least one. Too much game not to break in her finally legitimate pro career in proper fashion.
  • Monty Hatches Senior Women's Tour - In full Mrs. Doubtfire regalia, Colin Montgomerie forms a senior women's golf tour announcing, "This is where I've really belonged all along".
  • Daly Makes a Cut - After hightailing it to the European Tour, John Daly will make at least one cut while serving his 6 month PGA suspension for being an idiot. Take it to the bank.
  • Tiger Woods Wins Another Major - Best bet, the Masters or the US Open at Bethpage Black. Expect Woods to come back stronger than Boo Weekly's drawl. Or is that drool?
  • Finchem Elected International Czar of Golf - Or Tsar if you prefer. The current PGA commish has the only tour with sponsors and purses close to 2008 levels. Expect him to further pursue golf in the Olympics, but with the caveat that each country only have one player.
  • Titleist Trumps Callaway With Square Ball - Whouda' thunk? Rather than contest the ruling on the ProV1, Titleist's R&D department develops a smooth sailing square ball that stops better on greens.
  • Azinger Regains Captaincy in Coup - Stating it's "best for the nation", Zinger wrests the Ryder Cup captaincy from Corey Pavin in a bloodless and swift move. No one seems to have a problem with the act, so it stays.
  • Annika Returns - After conceiving and giving birth in a record number of strokes, Annika Sorenstam declares her "family phase" accomplished and returns to the LPGA with a stroller.
  • Weekly Quits Golf - Citing a need for new challenges, Boo Weekly retires from professional golf and forms the WWPST, the World Wide Possum Shooting Tour. He promptly captures their and his first major.
  • Sergio Forms Support Group - Recognizing a need on tour for an outlet for the downtrodden, unfairly screwed, and just generally unlucky, Sergio Garcia heads a traveling support group that meets weekly in a tour sponsored RV.
  • Mickelson Declares Fitness Unhealthy - Longing for a return to his form of yore, Phil Mickelson admits that his foray into fitness was just plain dumb. Phil dismisses 5 trainers and replaces them all with swing coaches.
There you have it. A snoop into the 2009 golf headlines that will be all the buzz in the next year. I know, and you're welcome.

Til' next,

Happiest Average Golfer Wishes For 2009 !

Monday, December 29, 2008

How Did Average Golfer Miss This One?

Lavatory Links

Forgive me for missing this little item before Christmas, although you could always get the jump on next year's shopping. "Potty Putter", brought to you by the folks at Golf'un. I reckon when you consider how much bathroom time is wasted reading game improvement articles, this baby provides some real practice. Let the puns begin......

My favorite part........"For added fun......... The Golfer's Toilet Roll". Sure, let's maximize the fun factor in the old throne room. I wonder how many sheets you have to go through before it repeats itself?

Til' next,

PS - Is it just me or is that Ian Poulter in the ad photo?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

ADT Golf Skills Challenge Fizzles Against N.F.L.

I tried, I really tried to watch some of the 2008 ADT Golf Skills Challenge to see if it stirred any interest at all. Nope. The unfortunate Stupid Season event was thrown up against meaningful, last week of the NFL season games with playoff implications. At 4 PM in my neck of the woods was aired Jets/Dolphins, and Cowboys/Eagles. Watching the Cowboys get trounced was still better than anything the golf thing could put up.

They messed with the format this year by pairing players with caddies. Well, sort of. Fred Couples and his long time looper Joe LaCava. Greg Norman and his progeny Gregory. (I had hoped Norman would choose Chris Evert). Peter Jacobsen and the infamous Fluff Cowan. Rocco Mediate and his usual, Matthew Achatz. I can't even begin to explain that the caddies had caddies. Trust me, they did. To give you an idea how contrived this spectacle was, keep in mind that Achatz won three of the four "challenges" to position he and Mediate in the final.

In the half hour or so of coverage I watched it seemed like the kind of thing my buddies and I do after a round when there's still a score to settle. Chipping, putting, trouble shot, and approach shot contests are a steady theme in our golf. Fun to do, but observing it is like watching dust settle. The only major difference is that we play for dollars or better yet, beers. They play for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Hey, it is the same. Pocket change for us, pocket change for them.

I must give this atrocity the little bit of credit it deserves though. In the final "approach shot" challenge, from about 110 yards, to decide it all, the younger Norman stuck his shot to one inch. Mediate had five shots to better it, meaning hole it. His final attempt landed a little long and backed up slowly to catch a piece of the cup. It just as easily could have holed for an incredible win. I'm getting excited just recalling it.

Waiting for Jan. 9, 2009. 2009 PGA Tour schedule.

*Oops, almost forget, Normans won.

Til' next,

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas From Average Golfer

“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."

Luke 2:11

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Average Golfer Season Officially Over.

Try as I might, I couldn't extend the golf season much past this in these brutal climes. I suppose being just 20 miles south of the Canadian border had something to do with it. Strangely there have been years when we played in December. The "just right" arrangement of the planets has yielded some 50+ degree temperatures in the past. Not this year. Highs in the single digits have mothballed my clubs for the next 3-4 months. I can't complain though. I spoke to my youngest son, who lives in Bozeman, MT. He had three times as much snow and it was -29 F. That's proverbial brass bra cold.

Lift, Shovel, and Place Rules In Effect Until Further Notice !

Chipping with foam balls doesn't quite have the same allure. Of course it will seem a tad more attractive in March when winter starts to wane. Then the unexpected/predictable April snow dump will discourage us for a few weeks until...........Viola! Spring rises again.

Throw another log on the fire and find the spare pair of long johns.

Til' next,

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Vijay Singh Takes Tiger's Tourney

Vijay Singh stood alone, as the contenders imploded on the back nine, to take the Chevron World Challenge, hosted by, but minus Tiger Woods. Singh sniffed the 1.35 million dollar winner's check and shot a smooth 67 to finish at -11. Anthony Kim had the lead after birdieing the 13th hole, but two double bogeys down the stretch did him in. A similar fate befell Jim Furyk, who bogeyed three of his last five and threw in a double on 18 for good measure. Steve Stricker birdied two of his last three, but Vijay answered with an 18th hole birdie to seal the deal. That capped a back nine 32 for Singh and earned him the moolah.

That's a wrap on the 2008 season and begins the Tiger watch for 2009 to see which tournament he chooses to make his return in after season ending knee surgery. My guess would be Arnie's event in March at Bay Hill, but I certainly don't profess to know anything. I don't care how you feel about Woods, there's no denying it's not the same tour without him. His absence however has created a stage for some young guns, i.e. Kim, Mahan, Villegas, etc., to realize more of their potential. The tour could use them to challenge Woods after his comeback and add some viewers. That storyline will be fascinating and should play out rather quickly. Don't expect Woods to surface until he's confident he can win the event that heralds his return.

It's been an uneven PGA Tour year highlighted by Woods' spectacular US Open win and his winning four of the six events he entered. Padraig Harrington's two major championships and well deserved Player of the Year honors stand out as classic performances. Still, when all the trophies and accolades have been handed out, Vijay Singh went home with the most cash.

Til' next,

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tiger's Tourney - Chevron World Challenge

I guess it's commentary on the current financial climate that Tiger's tournament sponsor went from a mass retailer, Target, to an oil company, Chevron. Thank goodness for Chevron though. Through their auspices sixteen pros get to compete in a silly season event for 1.35 million dollars, (5.75 million total purse). And Woods isn't playing! Woods did reveal today at a press conference that he's been hitting short irons and expects his repaired knee to be better than ever. The sixteen chosen for this year's field better enjoy Woods' hiatus.

Down to brass tacks. Let's see who's playing for the pile of loot and comment on their chances. The boys are at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, CA. Here's the list......

Vijay Singh - Guy who took the 10 million dollar FedExCup has to be a favorite. Bigger the pot, better he plays.

Anthony Kim - Young gun. Won't win. Already in vacation mode.

Camilo Villegas - Young, ripped gun. Tuned up last week with Shark. Can win.

Jim Furyk - Mr. Steady. If he found lost putter, can win.

Steve Stricker - Mercy pick. Not the player of 2007. Won't win.

K.J. Choi - If he treats this as beginning of '09 season he'd have a chance.

Kenny Perry - Tore apart Shark field. Carried Hoch. Should win.

Justin Leonard - Depends if he's been hitting balls. Might win.

Mike Weir - Depends which Weir we get. Probably won't win.

Luke Donald - Repaired wrist. 1st effort since. Won't win.

Stephen Ames - Sneaks up in big events, could very well win.

Ben Curtis - If he's awake, has a chance, albeit slim.

Fred Couples - Buddy pick. Like to see it. Won't happen.

Hunter Mahan - Have no idea. May or may not have stayed sharp.

Boo Weekly - Can win almost any time. Just needs to do it more. Why not now?

Paul Casey - Tough competitor. Better than he appears. Could win.

Average Golfer Picks

1. Perry
2. Singh

Read 'em and weep. Not too late to change yours!

Til' next,

Monday, December 15, 2008

Farväl Annika.

It's arguable that Annika Sorenstam is the best woman golfer of all time given the time she played in and the level of international competition. What's certain is that as great a golfer she is, she's an even better person.

Her career came to an "end" yesterday at the Dubai Ladies Masters on the Ladies European Tour, fittingly the organization she started her career with. Her 1 under 71 gave her 7th place in the event she'd won twice previously. The golf gods deemed it necessary that she birdie her final hole. She acknowledged the crowd, then hugged her long time looper Terry McNamara. “I have had many farewells since I announced my decision some five months back, but this one was special,” Sorenstam said.

Her career achievements are a longer read than War and Peace. 10 major championships, 59 LPGA victories, 16 additional international wins, a 59 in an LPGA event, and member of the Hall of Fame. All of this in a few short years since her pro debut in 1994. Surely her numbers would have only increased should she not have "retired". After all, she won three times this year and is among the top players in almost every statistical category. At age 38 she definitely has great years left as Julie Inkster and Vijay Singh have proven.

The tease is her not actually using the word retirement. Her desire to start a family and tend to her business interests is understandable. Let's assume she and fiance Mike McGee are off to a fast start and the little girl/boy arrives about a year from now. Allow a year to get the new one off to a great start and we could be seeing the reemergence of Annika in the spring of 2011. Just in time to remind the likes of Wie, Tseng, Creamer, Lewis, and Shin who is the rightful throne holder. Musings? Certainly, but possible. If not, relish the memories this great lady has given us over the years.

Til' next,

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Seve Ballesteros Leaves Madrid Hospital

In what has to be some of the best news of the 2008 golf year, golf icon Seve Ballesteros was released from LaPaz hospital in Madrid yesterday after undergoing extensive surgery for a malignant brain tumor. Balllesteros , in a statement posted on his website said of his neurosurgeons, “Thanks to them I will be able to play the mulligan of my life, which I expect to enjoy at my best.”He additionally thanked the hospital staff and well-wishers that responded to his plight 66 days ago.

Ballesteros was stricken on Oct. 6 with a fainting spell at Madrid's international airport. Subsequently he's endured four individual operations to remove the tumor and relieve swelling around his brain. An arduous 6 1/2 hour surgery was performed on Oct. 24 to remove the insidious infiltrator. Ballesteros added, “Occasionally I was a rebel patient and therefore I ask them to forgive me and thank everyone for all the cares received.”

The five time major champion is one of, if not the most, charismatic golfer of the modern game. His style and panache were unmatched during his playing days, perhaps none more so than his playing a shot from the parking lot on the 16th hole during the 1979 British open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. Seve had a car moved to execute his 2nd shot which landed 15 feet from the pin. Naturally he sunk the putt for birdie and carried on to win his 1st of three Open Championships.

Ballesteros also renewed the rivalry what had been an American avalanche in the Ryder Cup. He was influential in including continental Europe in the proceedings and beat the US in 1985 to start off a European string of dominance in the event.

Seve officially retired from competitive golf in 2007 due to lingering back problems.

Best wishes for a speedy and full recovery to a man that's impacted the sport of golf as few have.

Til' next,

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Stacy Lewis Captures LPGA Q-School Marathon

Stacy Lewis, one of the favorites going in, proved her status by firing a 69 in the 5th and final round of LPGA Q-School to garner medalist honors. Making the tour was a foregone conclusion, but Lewis persisted. She stated yesterday that her goal was to win and she achieved. Lewis finished at -18, three shots clear of Amy Yang at -15. Anna Grzebien ended her week with a strong -7, 65 to wrap up 3rd place. A threesome landed at T4, -13. They were Sophie Giquel, Beth Bader, and Shiho Oyama, the Japanese rising star that flirted with the lead for most of the event. Michelle Wie carded a somewhat disappointing +2, 74, but easily earned her 2009 card, finishing at -12 in a tie with Lisa Strom. Wie earning her card is a boon to the LPGA. Attendance and TV ratings should instantly rise, an effect the LPGA dearly needs. Her full impact however depends entirely on how much she chooses to play. Full field scores, Round 5.

Playoff for Final 2 Spots.

Naturally 90 holes wasn't enough golf to identify the twenty players that would earn full exempt staus for 2009. Chella Choi, Allison Hanna-Williams, Nari Kim, and Leah Wigger trudged back to the 9th hole tee for a three hole, aggregate score playoff. Choi's birdie on 9 gave her the cushion needed to capture her card. The remaining three played the 10th hole in sudden death format. Wigger canned her 10 foot uphill birdie putt to claim the 20th and final spot.

Pay attention to these ladies. They're the future of the LPGA. They have the daunting challenge of reviving an injured tour in difficult times. Should be interesting.

Til' next,

Saturday, December 6, 2008

LPGA Q-School Set for Photo Finish

Stacy Lewis, whose 3rd place finish at this year's US Women's Open should have gained her eligibility on next year's tour, is earning it the old fashioned way. Lewis' -5, 67 gave her a one stroke lead over Michelle Wie, -4, 68 at LPGA Q-School today. Lewis landed at -15 overall going into tomorrow's 5th round. Wie was at -14, Amy Yang, -5 today, was at -13. Shiho Oyama was another back at -12, and yesterday's leader Mollie Fankhauser, +1 today, -11 overall slipped to a tie with Charlotte Mayorkas. All of these women, barring something catastrophic, will earn full playing privileges for 2009. I'd love to see a down to the wire shootout for medalist honors.

The real tension for tomorrow is the women that will be fighting for the coveted 20th spot, ensuring their playing rights. At the end of today's play I counted 19 women between -6 and -3 overall. They're all surrounding the 20th spot like piranha on a T-bone. Truth be told, there's probably 30 women with a shot at the prize. High drama contained in 18 holes indeed. It's a real shame this event isn't televised somewhere. Knowing my luck, bowling will be. Real time scoring will have to do I suppose.

Til' tomorrow,

Full field scores after Round 4.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Changes Atop LPGA Q-School Leaderboard.

Mollie Fankhauser solved the difficult Legends course today at LPGA Q-School with an impressive 66 that gave her the lead after three rounds. The 2007 LPGA Tour rookie made a strong bid to snag her 2009 tour card. Her -12 finish after today's round gave the Ohioan a one stroke advantage. There was minor movement at the top of the leader board. Shiho Oyama's -1 left her at -11 and in sole possession of 2nd place. Michelle Wie and Stacy Lewis followed in a tie for 3rd at -10, Wie posting an even par 72 and Lewis a -1, 71. Within sniffing distance were Amy Yang, -2, -8 and Charlotte Mayorkas, also at -8 after a brilliant 66 today. All of the aforementioned rounds were posted on the narrower, more treacherous Legends course. Go figure.

Big Moves

I suppose in a five round tourney both Friday and Saturday could be considered moving day. Big movers today included Leah Wigger's -6 that moved her from T58 to T10. Sarah Kemp, a blistering 65 on the Champions course that moved her from T88 to T20. Beth Bader's -3 that elevated her from T30 to T15 and especially Alison Walsh's sparkling 64 on Champions that rocketed her to T31 from T115.

Saturday, Round 4, Moving Day #2. Fascinating.

Til' next,

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wiesy Game.

Having Michelle Wie win the LPGA's Q-school tournament would the best Christmas present LPGA Supreme Leader Bivens could ask possibly expect. Michelle skipping her spring semester at Stanford would be the second best. Today Michelle did her best to grant Bivens the former.

Wie stroked a sensational -7, 65 to share the second round lead with 1st round leader Shiho Oyama, 64, 70. Nipping at heir heels was Stacy Lewis, whose quiet 66 today left her one back at 135. Wie played the Champions course, considered to be easier due to expansive fairways. Wie pulled her driver with regularity versus yesterday en route to a 11 of 14 fairways, 13 of 18 greens, and 24 putt round that echoed the Michelle we've hoped to see. She birdied four of her last five holes for a strong finish that should lead well into round three. Her prodigious talent was full on display for the 1st time in a while. Wie's new found approach of not speaking with the media until after the final round is still in effect.

Wie is certainly not unchallenged this week. Playing the more difficult Legends course, Oyama scored an excellent -2, 70 that coupled with yesterday's gem gave Wie company at the top. Also on the Legends course, Stacy Lewis provided the round of the day, an impressive 66. These three seem to be pulling away from the field leaving lots of interesting action in the middle as these women battle for 2009 LPGA playing privileges. Tomorrow will significantly narrow player's options heading into the weekend. Be there!

Til' next,

Full 2nd round results.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

LPGA Q School - Oyama Leads, Wie on Way With 69.

90 grueling holes for 20 coveted spots is the MO for LPGA Q School at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, FL. It's a personified pressure cooker as women golfers try to attain life long dreams or keep an existing dream going. The down side of 90 holes is the endurance required. The upside is you could have an iffy round and still survive. One iffy round, not two.

Shiho Oyama and Mika Miyazato, an amateur, started their rounds on fire with front side 31s. Oyama took the first 18 hole lead with a scorching 64. Miyazato was two behind in solo second with a 66. Both of their rounds were carded on the statistically easier Champions course, one of two being used in the event. Mollie Fankhauser and Amy Yang shared joint 3rd with 67s. Jeehae Lee held 4th place alone with a 68 and Audra Burks, Stacy Lewis and Michelle Wie split 6th place with 69s, Wie's coming on the narrower, more difficult Legends course. Full 1st round scores.

The 1st round can't win you one of these things, but it can lose it for you. LPGA veterans Vicki Goetze-Ackerman and A.J. Eathorne found this out with 1st day +4, 76s. Naree Song struggled to a 75 and Patricia Meunier-Lebouc trod perilous ground with an opening 74.

The first three rounds figure to be positioning for the last two days on the weekend. Think of it as a horse race with five turns. Stay tuned. Pure excitement and butterflies in the stomach are hallmarks of Q School.

Til' next,

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Average Golfer Quandry: Double the Size of the Golf Hole?

My great friend Dean Miller is a thinker. He thinks more than anyone I've ever met. His thinking results in ideas, some of which are labeled "Gee, that's interesting", the rest labeled, "Huh?". He recently suggested to me that golf would be more interesting to watch and certainly more satisfying for amateurs to play if the size of the hole was doubled. At first this sounds a little like a lunatic fringe rant, but if you really think about it.....

The standard size for a golf hole was determined in 1891 by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews. They felt it was finally a time for standardization of the hole size, as they were in the process of standardizing everything else about golf, short of trouser selection. The decided size landed at 4.25 inches. A prevalent rumor is that a nearby club, Musselburgh Links, had invented a hole cutter derived from a piece of pipe that was, you guessed it, 4.25 inches in diameter. True or not, it's definitely convenient. With golf ball size mandated at no less than 1.68 inches, the ball is 39.5% of the hole size. Compare that to basketball where the ball is exactly 50% of the hoop size. Would that suggest that sinking a 15 foot putt should be easier than making a free throw? Maybe for Shaq.

Assuming the hole size was doubled putting would obviously be easier. That means quicker rounds for amateurs and half of the discouragement that forces some beginners to quit the game out of frustration. "Gimme" distance would increase and "inside the leather" would be outdated.
From a professional perspective we'd spend much less time watching pros agonize over every putt as if their very lives depended on it. Great ball strikers and accurate approach shots would finally receive their due reward. No more three putt pars on par fives after hitting a green in two. TV air times could be reduced and golf tournaments would cease to seem as long as a trip to the dentist. Maybe, just maybe, we would see the demise of the ridiculous plumb bob, which is as confidence inspiring as a divining rod. Anyone ever see Tiger Woods plumb bob? More chip-ins, pitch-ins, and shots holed from the fairway. What's not to like? Golf tournaments would at last become a staple on SportsCenter, a continuous highlight reel.

Of course if you doubled the size of the hole all current tournament scoring records would be rendered obsolete. Hey, that wasn't a problem for Major League Baseball when their record books were assaulted by steroid munching superstars. Hmm, 500 yard drives and 10 putts per round. Someone could shoot in the 40s.

Til' next,

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tiger Woods, Buick Part Company

Let's all be realistic for a cotton pickin' second. Does anyone really think that Tiger Woods has been driving a Buick for the last nine years? I'd bet his gardener, nanny, personal assistant, etc. may be driving them, but Tiger, no way. Too stodgy.

Susan Docherty, GM vice-president for Buick-Pontiac-GMC said in an email to dealers today, “It’s with great emotion that I wish to inform you that the time has come for our long term relationship with Tiger Woods to end.” On his end Woods issued the following statement, “I am very proud of the long-standing partnership I’ve had with GM and have enjoyed being a part of the company’s dramatic product evolution.’’ In other words, thanks for the memories.

Woods had one year remaining on a five-year deal worth $40 million, according to Advertising Age magazine. So, one less year cost him and saved GM eight million dollars. I don't expect Woods will have much of a problem replacing that endorsement money if he chooses. It seems like a pittance in savings on GM's part, but it's a statement of austerity that reflects the collapsing domestic automobile business and an effort to save money that GM sorely needs to portray as they pitch the corporate bail out idea to Washington.

You would think that Woods would be the ideal pitchman for anything, even hemorrhoid cream, but I never saw the Buick marriage as made in heaven. Buick's demographic was and is the 54-75 year old somewhat affluent guy with golf being a common denominator. I'd picture Arnie or a Jay Haas type as carrying more weight with those consumers. I'm certain Buick tried to lower their median purchaser age by hiring Woods, but they never built the product that was desirable to a younger audience. I'd fancy Tiger as more of a Toyota or Lexus spokesperson. That said, I'm sure he didn't hurt them, I just think it was a round peg in a square hole.

Coincidentally, I spent twenty five years in dealership management, a number of which were in GM dealerships during the Tiger era. We were feasted with Buick/Tiger promo material and more than a few ProV1 s with Buick logos came my way. I decided to leave the business exactly one year ago. Sadly, my brethren still in the business have much more to worry about now than just the loss of free golf balls.

Til' next,

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tiger Woods Played 604 Holes in 2008 - Be There.

Follow The Roar
By: Bob Smiley

Average Golfer Book Review

I first became acquainted with Bob Smiley's work by reading an article he published on Anything that makes me chuckle out loud, while reading alone, is worthy of investigation. That led me to Bob's website,, and another window into this man's singular take on the golf world.
I've mentioned that he's the funniest golf guy in cyberspace, a claim I still stand by.

In his fir
st attempt as a book author he took on the Herculean task of following Tiger Woods for all 604 holes of his now legendary 2008 season. The logistics involved in this quest are such that if you examined them in hindsight, you'd never attempt it. The beauty is Bob did it the way the common fellow, you or me, would have been forced to do. No private jets, no chauffeurs, an accidental press pass, and the wile and guile needed to just gain access to some events. Bob tells you exactly what it would have been like if you'd have tried the same itinerary. From Torrey Pines to Dubai and back again, Smiley truly gives you the sensations of witnessing every single solitary stroke that the icon Woods took in 2008. Most will be familiar with the headlines of Tiger's year, but witnessing the dissection of it just adds to the appreciation of his exploits.

The book has a secondary theme that I enjoyed immensely. Smiley is particularly adept at observing the people around him. His riotous and dead- on descriptions of the characters he encountered during his journey were a welcome surprise that kept me page turning to see how the relationships played out. This makes it sort of a book within a book. This read will grab you from the get go and you'll find it difficult to bookmark, instead plowing onward as to not break the mood.

In case you hadn't guessed, Average Golfer gives Follow The Roar an unqualified thumbs up. Take the time from your busy life to escape into the world of Woods via Smiley. You'll wished you'd done it sooner. Here's an exclusive excerpt from Follow The Roar as released by the publisher, HarperCollins. Buy It Now At....., Barnes & Noble, Borders.

Shin Win at ADT

20 year old Ji-Yai Shin, veins packed with ice water, bested the rest to capture the ADT Championship. Shin's -2, 70 was one better than Karrie Webb and earned her a cool million dollars, the largest purse in women's golf. That converts to 1,505,797,300 South Korean won if you're interested. Ji-Yai, (pronounced G.A.) is rated #6 in the world and winner of this year's Women's British Open. Shin should be a fixture in women's golf for a long time.

Paula Creamer gamely wrestled with an intestinal ailment all week, but her +2, 74 today was just good enough for a tie for 3rd with Seon Hwa Lee. Lee doubled the par three 17th to end her chances. Eun-Hee Ji's 75 gave her solo 5th. Angela Stanford's impressive run came to an end with a 78 and Jeong Jang and Suzann Pettersen shot themselves in the feet with 79s.

Professional golf in the US had come to an end for 2008. Stay tuned to Average Golfer for news of interest. If there isn't any golf news, we'll make some up.

Til' next,

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Final 8 in Shoot-Out at ADT Championship for $1,000,000.00.

In the LPGA's version of Survivor, 8 women survived the test today at the ADT Championship. Whatever you accomplished in the first 36 was for squat. Prime example, 36 hole leader Katherine Hull, playing the best golf of her career, was sent packing after an unfortunate 79. Instead, Suzann Pettersen was in the driver's seat today after a sizzling 68 in tough, windy conditions. Angela Stanford stayed white hot with a 68. Seon Hwa Lee and Paula Creamer were the next to make Sunday's field with -2, 70s. Creamer was observed doubled over in pain, suffering from an unknown ailment rumored by the talking heads to be appendicitis. Without discounting her obvious pain, and revealing the fact that I'm no doctor, I'd guess more on the side of an intestinal virus. Paula claimed she'd been in pain since Wednesday. Appendicitis probably would have forced her out of the event by now. Regardless, let's hope she's fine for tomorrow's million dollar grab. Jeong Jang and Ji-Yai Shin shared identical 71s to safely make the shoot out. Karrie Webb and Eun-Hee Ji bested Sun Young Yoo in a 1 hole playoff for the 8th and final spot.

Helen Alfredsson birdied the difficult par three 17th hole to remain right in the thick of things. She splashed two balls on 18 however for a triple bogey 7 that ended her chances. Universally loved Christina Kim and In-Kyung Kim struggled to a 79 and 80 respectively.

Pressure packed should be the word of the day on Sunday. Bath tub slick greens may decide the eventual million dollar baby. Be sure to tune in. It's riveting. NBC 3:00 - 6:00 PM, EST.

Til' next,

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hull Hangs Tough at ADT - Annika Exits.

Fairytale endings are great, just not something that can be relied upon. Annika Sorenstam was hoping to add just one victory to her fairytale career when her putter stepped in her way at the season ending ADT Championship. She took 33 putts yesterday en route to a 74. Needing a low round to make the 16 player Saturday field, her putter again rebelled and she was forced to use it 36 times. 69 putts in two rounds does not a cut make. As much as I'm sure she wanted to finish her LPGA career on a high note, this does nothing to tarnish her unbelievable record. Thanks for the memories Annika. Gee, that would make a great song title.

Katherine Hull's -1, 71 was just enough to maintain her lead, albeit over different faces. By contrast, Hull has putted 56 times over two days compared to Annika's 69. Her shadow today however was white-hot Angela Stanford. Stanford's 67 today was the best round of the day by two strokes. That propelled her from 17th to 2nd, one back of Hull. Paula Creamer and Christina Kim inched closer with identical -1, 70s and a tie for 3rd at -2. In-Young Kim backpedaled a tad with a 73 that left her locked with Creamer and C. Kim. Jeong Jang and Angela Park reached red numbers for the tourney, both with 70s today and -1 overall. Seon Hwa Lee treads water at level par and Ji-Yai Shin lost ground with a 75 that placed her tied with Lee in 8th position. 5 ladies were tied for 10th spot and a +1 total.

+3 was the cut mark and Karrie Webb hit it on the number. Karen Stupples survived at +2. Big names didn't make the cut included the aforementioned Annika, Laura Diaz, Maria Hjorth, Cristie Kerr, Lorena Ochoa (reversed Annika's two days, 75, 74), Nicole Castrale, Morgan Pressel, and Yani Tseng.

Wow, this tournaments not for the timid. It's sort of like playing "3 card guts", a game that by the time I had it figured out, I was broke. On Saturday the slate is wiped clean. Everyone's equal. The top eight scores will advance to Sunday's 1 million dollar payoff. Saturday ties for the final spot would be broken with a playoff. That should separate the women from the girls!

Better watch. I have no idea who to favor, but I guarantee drama.

Til' next,

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Katherine Hull Leads ADT, Annika 6 Back

My JV football coach frequently told us saps to "Get our rears in gear". Of course this was the same coach that told me I ran like I was carrying a piano. Annika Sorenstam is 6 shots off the pace at the ADT Championship and she needs to get her rear in gear to avoid flaming out in the last LPGA event of her storied career.

Katherine Hull, coming off a 4th and a 2nd in her last two starts, leads the pack with a 68, a round that featured six birdies. She leads by one over In-Kyung Kim and Ji-Yai Shin, both with 69s. The trio of Na Yeon Choi, Ji Eun-Hee, and Ji Young Oh are knotted in 3rd with matching 70s. Christina Kim, Karen Stupples, and Paula Creamer finish the under par set with -1, 71s.

Sorenstam needs a great round on Friday to avoid the cut that lops off the field of 32 to 16. “I was a little nervous. I feel like I’m playing good. I’m excited about the week,” Sorenstam said. “But I’m telling you, nothing went my way today. You just have to be patient, just fairways and greens,” she added, “It’s worked in the past for me, so I’m not really going to change it. I just have to make a few more putts.”

Notables inhabited the lower portion of the standings. Lorena Ochoa stood T26 after a 75. Cristie Kerr was T29, tied for last after a 78.

Hull said she planned to stick with her game plan and have fun. Hard to argue after day #1.

Til' next,

*Average Golfer Quote of the Day. When asked what she thought of the difficult ADT course set up, Ji-Yai Shin deadpanned, “I think it’s very tough, it is, I think, very funny. Yeah, very funny.”

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

2008 ADT Championship - 32 Go In, 1 Comes Out.

The last event of the 2008 LPGA schedule, the ADT Championship, will be a series of good byes. Good bye Annika. Good bye ADT. Good bye LPGA economic model. Annika's final US event will be bittersweet. I hope she can focus well enough to be in contention. If last week was a prelude, that isn't a problem. ADT says adios to tour sponsorship. This could be part of a string of withdrawls unless the world economy ticks upwards. Soon. Every company, even the few profitable ones, are reexamining their expenditures like Santa with his list. Realistically there's no reason to expect that pro golf will emerge unscathed while many of their business partners are contemplating survival. The LPGA especially, without the gravitas of it's PGA brethren, is treading on thin ice. OK, enough doom and gloom.

Thirty two women start on Thursday. (Full Field list). The field is culled to sixteen after the second round. After round three there's eight women left standing. The final eight play on Sunday with the winner emerging a cool million richer. How's that for a season ending playoff? Beats the FedEx Cup like a rented mule.

Who does Average Golfer like in this baby? Well, can't really go wrong with any of the 32. I'd like Brittany Lang, but she's just an alternate at this point. Ochoa defends. Annika's playing great. Yani Tseng's having a superb year. Angela Stanford is the hottest player in the field. Inbee Park loves big tourneys. So, it's basically a pick 'em.

Trump International Golf Club is the host. The Golf Channel broadcasts the first three days with NBC taking over for the final round. Check here for broadcast times. Be there for the final US event of the pro golf year.

Til' next,

*For in depth insight on the 2009 LPGA scheduling possibilities check out The Constructivist's latest post.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Angela Stanford Eeks Out Win at Ochoa Invitational

Angela Stanford survived a course record by Brittany Lang and a 17th hole bunker shot birdie by Annika Sorenstam to chalk up her 3rd LPGA victory at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational. It was a three woman show on the back nine. Stanford held a tentative two stroke advantage throughout most of the last nine holes. Lang's stellar 65 put her in the clubhouse at -12, one stroke behind Stanford. Annika's bunker shot on 17 sailed directly into the cup. If it hadn't she would have faced at least a 20 footer for par. In is in though and that got Sorenstam to -12, one back, heading to the par five 18th. Sorenstam and Stanford both hit decent drives and laid up nicely with their second shots. Stanford got her approach pin high, but it spun back below the hole leaving her about a twenty foot birdie attempt. Annika had 99 yards for her 3rd shot. She landed it just right of the pin, it spun left, and missed going in by the width of the ball! It settled about 10 feet for her birdie chance. Stanford's birdie try moved a tad left and gave her a gimme par. Annika's putt would force a playoff. The ball caught the right side of the cup, but lipped out to deny her a chance for her 73rd LPGA win.

It was truly as exciting a finish as Average Golfer's seen this year. Great golf, classy players. What's better? Lorena birdied the 18th in front of a huge hometown crowd to finish with a 70.

Up next week is the final event of the LPGA season, the ADT Championship at Trump International in West Palm Beach, FL. It's a must see. Annika's last tournament, a $1,000,000.00 first prize and an elite field. It's the tour's 32 best golfers with guess who defending? Lorena Ochoa.

Til' next,

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Annika in Position to Grab Lorena Ochoa Invitational

If golf was NASCAR then Annika Sorenstam is drafting behind Angela Stanford and setting her up for a final lap pass and a checkered flag at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational at Guadalajara Country Club. She gained 5 strokes after an excellent 67, -9, that left her a solitary stroke behind after Stanford's even par, -10. After bogeying 16 and 17, Annika stuck her 3rd shot approach on the par five 18th to two feet for a tap in birdie. Stanford's uneventful round included two bogeys and two birdies for a hum-drum 72 that allowed Annika back in the tournament. Stanford's reputation for overly protecting a lead may have reared it's ugly head once again. She still has tomorrow to shake that demon.

Also picking up ground on the water treading leader were Jee Young Lee, -7, Sun Young Yoo, -6, and In-Kyung Kim at -5. Brittany Lang equaled Sorenstam's 67 and sat tied with Kim at five under, still within striking distance. Gracious host, Lorena Ochoa, shot 70 today leaving her 8 strokes off the pace. Understandable considering her hosting responsibilities and the impact this event has on Mexico. Lorena's a huge star and philanthropist in her home country and willingly carries a lot of weight for Mexico in the eyes of the world. Guadalajara is also her home course and where she learned the game, so I'm certain she has a ton of distractions to handle. The players were gladly remarking what a wonderful course this was and how well they've been treated all week. Consider yourselves to be on the ground floor watching a tournament that will continue to grow in importance and stature.

It would have been great to see Lorena win on her home course, but it would be equally satisfying to see Annika prevail in the next to the last event of her illustrious career. Watch tomorrow. Won't disappoint.

Til' next,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mike Austin, Record Holder, Longest PGA Drive, 515 Yards.

Never heard of Mike Austin? Neither had I.

The scene was the US National Seniors Open Championship in Las Vegas in 1974. Egged on by his partner that day, Chandler Harper, winner of the 1950 PGA Championship, to "really let one go", he did just that. It was 450 yards to the pin on the par four 5th hole. They found Austin's golf ball 65 yards past the pin. Guess he should have hit three wood. 515 yards was, and still is, the longest recorded drive in professional history. Here's the best part. Mike Austin was 64 years old! He was aided by a 35 mph tail wind, but keep in mind that the hole was relatively level, and Austin had a steel shaft, persimmon head, and balata balls.

His golf exploits just scratched the surface of this prodigious man. He was a WWII war hero. He shared an apartment with Errol Flynn. He gave secret golf lessons to Howard Hughes and played against Hogan and Snead. He'd been noticed as a youngster by no less than Bobby Jones, who remarked about the young Austin's 300 yard drives at East Lake.

Born in England, but raised in the southern US, Austin was a cantankerous sort. His gruff presence was as intimidating as it was natural. He taught golf in southern California, L.A area, for many years and hosted what else, The Mike Austin Golf Show. His exploits and character are detailed in a fantastic book by Philip Reed called In Search of the Greatest Swing. I recommend it highly for an inside look at this legend.

Mike passed away in 2005 at age 95 but his legacy continues to this day. Mike Dunaway is a well known advocate and teacher of Austin's swing, ( I'd rather have you, the reader, dissect the basics of the Mike Austin swing. It's not radically different from the current idea of a golf swing. It's much simpler and uses just a few "basic" concepts to get the fundamentals across. My best friend, Dean Miller, a legit 8 handicap, watched half of an Austin video, took it to the course, and proceeded to nail 14 of 14 fairways. I'm prepared to "Austinize" my swing over the long winter. If I gain some length great. What I really want is accuracy and I'm convinced that Austin's ideas are sound.

Why aren't these incredible concepts taught in the mainstream? Austin, a PGA member, claimed that when he presented his ideas to the PGA they had already decided on what the model of an ideal golf swing should be in order for their teaching pros to have some continuity, i.e. two plane swing, forearm rotation, etc. Mike professed to have been "blackballed" from teaching his methods. You be the judge. After all, 515 yards is still 515 yards.

Til' next,

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tiger Woods on President-Elect Obama.


Tiger Woods, usually carefully silent on potential hot button issues, offered his opinion of Barack Obama's milestone presidential victory. Woods was questioned by CNBC at the groundbreaking ceremony at a new golf course design of his in North Carolina.

"I think it's absolutely incredible," Woods told CNBC's Jane Wells. "He represents America. He's multiracial. I was hoping it would happen in my lifetime. My father was hoping it would happen in his lifetime, but he didn't get to see it. I'm lucky enough to have seen a person of color in the White House." When asked what his father's reaction would have been Woods offered, "He would have cried. Absolutely. No doubt about it." Full story on

I suppose it's easier for Tiger to comment on the election after Obama won. Still, it's refreshing to see that he has more of a human side than he usually lets on.

There's no truth to the rumor that Michael Jordan was quoted as saying "I'm pleased Mr. O'Bama (sic) was able to be elected as our 2nd Irish-American president."

Til' next,

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Davis Love III Over Tommy "Two Gloves" in Thriller at Disney.

Davis Love III shot his second consecutive 64 to hold off a back nine charge by Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey and win the 2008 Children's Miracle Network Classic at Disney World Resort. Gainey's 30 on the back nine almost had the victory he needed to retain his card. Instead it's back to Q school for the two-time Big Break contestant. Love III finished at -25, one stroke better than Gainey, and knocked a treacherous bunker shot on the 18th to within three feet and sealed the victory. $828,000.00 was pocketed by Love III for the triumph.

It was a two man battle as the nearest finishers were Steve Marino and Scott Verplank, each at -20, 4 strokes in arrears. Joe Durant's superb 65 in the final round gave him solo 5th place. The trio of Scott Sterling, Kevin Streelman, and Troy Matteson finished at -18, T6.

Average Golfer was pulling for Gainey, the every man's representative. His 2nd place finish moved him 40 spots on the money list from 208 to 168, but it was a win he needed to secure his card for 2009. In the glass half full category, he'll have a confidence boost going into Q school. I'm certain we'll see more of Gainey. Everyone refers to his work ethic and drive. That's a huge part of the battle on the tour.

Bubble News

The results are in after this, the last tournament of the season. The "Thank God" spot, #125, belongs to Martin Laird. Those keeping their jobs by a whisker were Brad Adamonis, 124, Jason Bohn, 123, Angel Cabrera, 122, Nick Watney, 121, and Brett Quigley, 120. Those wishing they'd played better earlier in the year included Shane Bertsch, 126, Bob Estes, 127, Patrick Sheehan, 128, Joe Durant, 129, and Charles Warren, 130. $11,504.00 separated Laird and Bertsch, the difference between 126 and 125. Here's the final 2008 money list for your perusal.

Now is when writing on a golf site separates the men from the boys. Two months of "not much" will test Average Golfer's imagination. Maybe I'll start doing a series of reviews on golf tees. Perhaps throw in a contest with the winner receiving a free tee! Gotta nice ring to it.

Til' next,

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Eclectic Bunch Atop Children's Miracle Network Classic Leaderboard.

Someone for everyone. A certain Hall -of-Famer, a grizzled veteran with many wins and Ryder Cups in his pocket, a young upstart, a Big Break contestant, the man with the shortest putter, (28 in.), a rookie of the year candidate, and the group of veterans you'd expect heading into the last lap of the 2008 season, the final round of the Children's Miracle Network Classic.

Steve Marino is bogey free for the tournament and his 66 today left him tied with Scott

Children's Miracle Network Classic presented by Wal-Mart - Round Three
Verplank, who slipped with a 69. Hard to believe that a 69 would get you going backwards, but it did today. Both are tied at -19. Davis Love III shot 64 today to claim solo 2nd place, -17, going into Sunday. Tied for 5th spot at-16 were Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey, Robert Garrigus, he of the midget putter, and Troy Matteson, whose 69 today backed him up from 2nd to 5th. Locked in 8th position at -14 were Ken "Of Hazard" Duke, Robert Gamez, last spotted at the Hope, Jason Gore, and Kevin Streelman.

Notables that didn't make the weekend were Steve Elkington, Daniel Chopra, Jesper Parnevik, Bubba Watson, Brad Adamonis, Charles Warren, Ryan Moore, Jay Williamsom, and Fred Couples. Adamonis, Warren, and Williamson shot themselves in the foot and out of the chase for their 2009 Tour card. Spots 126-150 have some provisional status though, especially in the lesser events that play at the same time as the big tournaments. Still, I'm sure they're all crestfallen. I've been just dying to use crestfallen in Average Golfer.

The back nine tomorrow will show you how PGA players do or don't handle pressure. Anyone that's near the magic 125 has to be trying to figure what he has to shoot to be in the club. Geez, as if golf's not head game enough.

Til' next,

Thursday, November 6, 2008

2009 Augusta National Changes Announced.

On Tuesday, November 4th, the Greenjackets formally announced the physical changes to Augusta National that will affect the 2009 Masters. Average Golfer had hoped they would steer the layout away from the "world's largest green bowling alley concept" that's been all the rage. Reviving the phrase "The Masters begins on the back nine on Sunday" has also been bandied about. You be the judge.

Here's a list of the changes that we think will make a difference in the venerable event;

Til' next,

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

PGA Pros' Last Shot at 125 - 2008 Children's Miracle Network Classic

Let me preface by saying I'm an advocate of the Children's Miracle Network. Kind of hard not to be, but my interests are parochial. My brother is a pediatric trauma physician in Hartford, CT. His immense concern and actions have made me aware of all sorts of children's health issues. Thank you John.

Back to the action. the Children's Miracle Network Classic at Walt Disney World Resort this week is the penultimate in pressure cookers for pros on the bubble. Stephen Hawing might struggle to explain all the mathematical possibilities and permutations, so I won't even attempt. We'll clue you in on numbers 120-130, the players with the immediate needs. Here we go.....

  • 120 - Brad Adamonis - Has had a nice year. Needs a decent finish to stay in top 125.
  • 121 - Tim Petrovic - 39th in birdies. At a birdie fest course.
  • 122 - Nick Watney - Best finishes were early in year. Better regroup.
  • 123 - Michael Allen - T3 at Timberlake. Needs that magic at Magic Kingdom.
  • 124 - Shane Bertsch - 20 of 28 cuts. Just one top ten.
  • 125 - Jeff Overton - Bubble Boy himself. Appendectomy recently. Waiting for medication approval from last week by PGA.
  • 126 - Martin Laird - Scotsman shouldn't be in this position. 3 top tens in '08.
  • 127 - Charles Warren - The other Charles. 3rd in FBR, T10 at Turning Stone.
  • 128 - David Toms - Has career exemptions to fall back on. Don't worry, you'll see him in '09.
  • 129 - Patrick Sheehan - Never won. Can make birdies in bunches.
  • 130 - Mark Calcavecchia - Didn't expect him here. Lots of nagging injuries.
Find the up to date money list here.

Notables with a chance.....

136, Jason Gore, Needs to be the Gore of old.
138, Jason Day, Remember, he's 19 years old!
139, Rich Beem, Hard to picture tour without him. Larger than life.
142, Jesper Parnevik, See Beem.
144, Chris DiMarco, Injury train. Pulling for him.
148, Todd Hamilton, Open Championship seems eons ago.
149, John Huston, Perhaps can ride last week's momentum.
157, Aaron Olberholser, Another injury plagued year.
163, Chris Riley, '06 Ryder Cupper. Taken big fall.
168, Carlos Franco, White hot for a while. Love to watch his game.
217, David Duval, Win might not even get him in.

Plenty of drama on a birdie laden golf course. Should be a great way to see the PGA Tour for the last time in 2008. So, unless the Silly Season is your bag, tune in for this one.

Til' next,

*Average Golfer tidbit......The Children's Miracle Network was founded in 1983 by the Osmond family and John Schneider.