Friday, August 8, 2008

"Major" Disappointment

The round was a big disappointment not the adventure though...Wish I could describe this course to you but I couldn't do it justice on the toughness (bite) it has. For the golfers out there reading along you know how a bounce one way or another can make or break you. On this course both landing areas and the greens have humps and bumps to navigate. Not only are you trying to get the correct yardage to the pin or aim at a certain distant marker off the tee but you also need to take into account how the fairway slopes or how the green will receive your shot. Very humbling this game we play and it is just a game for us. I saw a lot of very good players struggle with the conditions today as you probably noticed on the Internet or even the tv.
I"ll try to sum this all up by saying this; golf as we know and play it is simply advancing the ball to the target or flag stick. Professional golf is played slightly different. In professional majors it's played even more differently in that the target is RARELY the flag. You are constantly aiming away from it almost literally on every shot. When you've played the game long enough you are brainwashed to take dead aim at the flag hoping to hole every shot! Ok I promised myself not to complain or make excuses only trying to vent a little.
I would like to say this about J.J. Henry, a Ryder Cup participant in '06 by the way, he's 10 days away from having a second child. Playing in a major is stressful enough but being on the bubble to make the cut while watching a playing partner struggle like me I think would put me on TILT. No, he takes time out to give me a little pep talk after the first nine today. I was coming off a horrendous 3-putt on #1 our 10th hole of the day. As we walked to our tee shots on #2 he saw my disappointment and let me know how different tournament golf will be for me in the future. To paraphrase a bit he described the difficulty of playing in his first major leading to his regular tour events success. Make sense? Kind of like learning to drive in a car without 3rd gear (hey it was my big sister's Mustang). every car after that was a piece of pie. Can't wait for my next tournament.
Hi lights would be the up and down on the 7th today in front of a good size crowd (sandie)for par. An up and down from 105 yards (playing almost 115) in front of another gallery for par. An up and down from very deep rough on the 2nd hole for par (putt was from 12 feet). An up and down on 16 from behind the green for par. Are you getting the gist of my round today? Nerves are shot, gonna rest up from an early tee time.
BTW- Len Shapiro's article in today's post was outstanding although I probably needed to keep my observation of V. Taylor to myself. Go Boys!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Round # 1 or What happened was...

Already in the books and sad to say it probably could only have been three shots better if I had made a two footer on 16 and a three foot slider on 18 after an 1:25 minute weather delay. The third shot I chalked up to a 3 putt bogey to start the day. As you noticed when following the live scoring it was an up and down day. For some unknown reason I've lost confidence in my driver and only my driver. What once was the reason I got to this holy place, I now have to tell my self to just let loose and when I do it goes forever. What looked to be a very good shot suddenly found it's way into trouble. Evidence of this can be found early on the second hole when my 240 yard hybrid out of the primary rough miraculously soared just below the Metlife blimp hovering above, landed just in front of the green and ran 38 (the depth of the green) yards over and down into a shaved "catch all" behind the green. The third hole played 203 into a slight wind. After watching N. Thompson (71) balloon his tee shot into the front bunker we decided to hit a 4 iron. I hit what looked like a Sportcenter highlite only to watch helplessly as it ran through the green and lodged itself up against the primary rough. Now it's resting on the "courtesy cut" up against the primary (4.5") exactly 3 feet off the green about 20 feet from the hole. The higher rough behind my ball mad the lob wedge jump into the middle of the ball other wise known as a skull and it raced by the hole onto the courtesy cut on the opposite side. Two putts later and a bogey on the card.
Highlites: I know this will be hard to believe but my short game was outstanding in so many ways. I believe I got up and down for par or bogey at least three times and because I missed a two footer on 17 it would have been four times. I had a putt on 13 which is a par three from about 40-45 feet. The difficulty for this putt wasn't the length but the direction it needed to be played (cue the circus music). The first half was a L-R curler slightly downhill and to the crest of a hill where it made a right turn down more slope. I finally got a reaction from the crowd as it came to a stop a mere three inches from the hole. And then proceeded to out drive Thompson on the next hole 345 yards to 340. That was not a typo...
Lo-lights included missed putts and bad driving that even a policeman should have pulled me over for. But the biggest letdown was the missed 2-footer on 17 that was left after an all-world chip shot aimed 20 feet left of the hole because it had nestled into deep greenside rough. Oh and not making any birdies.
One last note worth mentioning during the weather delay. I'm sitting in the player's lounge minding my own business when Vijay asks Tommy Armour III why the PGA changed the course from one day to the next. Basically the whole week the greens were running about 10 or so on the stimp meter which means they were average speed for these greens. Well, the weather dried out the greens and they cut them without watering and today they were easily 12 or so. Oh yea and made of concrete! This from Vijay S. Guess these guys complain just like the rest of us.
A quick shout out to P. Moylan for making the trip to MI. Thanks for the support! Day 2 will be one to remember- DL

Pregame warmup-Thursday

Betcha didn't expect this early edition? Yeah not ready to do anything just yet so I thought I would give a few shout outs before this whole thing is over...but it really won't be over not as long as I have anything to do with it, hmmmm. So without further delay, the man responsible for me looking my best Mr. George Clayton (a.k.a Onetime) as his business states. I have received too many compliments to count on the slacks Monday-Wednesday and today's will be the navy blue pair with a white pin stripe and topped off with a Callaway Golf white shirt. Of course the shoes are FJ tour classics that have a navy blue and red saddle with a white base. Hope the cameras find me! Got to thank the Donnelly family for getting me a practice round last month. For those who don't know, Tim and Dennis are members at Woodmore and their cousin Terry is a member at Oakland Hills who gave great insight on the course that day.
I have to mention Chris and Cathy Doerrer who made the trek from Kohler, Wisconsin to be here and take Sheri off my hands Wednesday as they played the TPC Michigan course (27 holes). I want to mention I have 10 family members that arrived last night eager to see what the heck Uncle Dave is up to here in Bloomfield Hills. Not sure mom has a grasp on the situation here but that will soon change when she sees the "patrons" as they say in Augusta.
Alrighty then it's time to suit up cya on the links! Fairways and greens!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Wednesday- early edition

These days tend to be 9 hole days or more short game practice. In general a more relaxed atmosphere- yeah right! For who? Them maybe. We decided to do some work ourselves and headed out to the practice green (away from the now overflowing mob awaiting anyone going onto the range. Nicholas Fasth, Rich Beem, Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly were doing some fine tuning as well. after a few hundred putts (slight exaggeration) we headed over to sign some flags, balls etc. The irons seemed to be going in the right direction today as my back began to loosen up some a little earlier than yesterday. The woods were a little erratic but manageable. Lots of distractions out there like instructors, managers, swing gurus, Anthony Kim's girlfriend, spectators, girlfriends ya know just things you don't normally encounter when practicing. It's awkward enough in front of these huge grandstands and girlfriends I mean spectators...You could hit the worst shot of your life forty yards offline on the range and you would here the ooohs and ahhhhs! It's great! So back to the first tee and through the gauntlet.
I inquired with J.J. Henry about playing a few holes but he being the veteran had already played at 7:00 am so after a few minutes pretending to wait for another player (a.k.a. stalling) we decided to go it alone. I mean literally thousands of people come to a standstill because this pro in a bright orange shirt with wh/orange shoes and a pair of Oakley's to match, wants to hit off the first tee. Love to oblige. Bombed it right down the middle and I mean BOMBED. The hole is 436 yards long, slightly down hill and had the wind behind me. Our next shot was from 114 and five feet later an easy birdie. First time the crowd had seen a close shot on that hole all day. How did I know this you ask? They all told me! Awesome stuff. Another club pro had already caught up to me on the green (Brad Martin) so we decided to play in together. Some good shots and some not so good but the fans don't care because they are there to get an up close and personal look at the best of the best (and a few club pros). Time for some down time and thanks for all of the feedback cya soon! DL

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Teaser Post ...part deux!

Soooo...did i mention riding down a floor with Chris Dimarco and his son in the elevator this morning? Anyway Cheech, I mean Bryan liberated a few iX Callaway balls from the range...j/k and as we made our way through the autograph gauntlet we turned left to roll a few putts on the 9th green of the North course. The North course is being used to supplement the need of a driving range and practice green so there you have it. We stroll up and there holding court on one of those portable seats is none other then Butch Harmon. For those of you in the know, he is Phil Mick's swing coach and standing there is Phil testing some new putters. Minding my own business I continued my practice while slowly changing holes to get a closer look, say 30 feet away. All of a sudden out of no where comes Anthony Kim. They begin a retort that makes mention of $5 bills vs. $20 bills at certain kinds of establishments and ends with a practice round pairing of those two plus Rory Sabbatini. In the meantime Team Long needed to make arrangements to get a round in and time was ticking. No tee times here only first come first serve. I ended up with Vaughn Taylor and Rory somehow because Anthony became restless waiting and jumped up which made me think Phil was going to join us...not to be. Vaughn was self absorbed and Sabbatini was a riot. After bombing my tee shot on the first hole he asked what my last name was, in actuality he hit it 2 yards by mine. That was the last time he got me! (chest is now sticking out). Vaughn by PGA standards is a bit less then average in length and usually hit first. Nothing to dramatic through nine holes except for the 9th hole which played 261 yards today with a slight L-R breeze. Taylor hit his powder puff somewhere and Rory pretended to hit his 2 hybrid farther then humanly possible (short). I quickly pulled my 3-wood and went through my routine and just before I could pull the trigger Rory in a low voice but loud enough for the hundred or so spectators to hear says,"that's a very pretty shaft, do they make that for men?" Now anybody that knows me knows I love a challenge on the golf course so I replied while still over my shot that he should "play nice". the 3-wood will land on the front of the green only 25 feet below the pin, perfect he would admit .
The back nine Bryan and I had to ourselves as they were intimidated and promptly left to go back to the range, or so I imagined...The driver is slowly getting in play more and the putts are getting closer but not happy with direction yet and will grind more on Wed. More to come tomorrow-DL

Teaser Post...Practice Rd. #2

Ok, so everyone who enjoys golf must have seen or heard of the movie Tin Cup right? The scene where Cheech Marin and Kevin Costner are at the practice range before playing in the big tournament with all the big names already hitting balls, remember? That's exactly the first thing that hit me squeezing between Bob Tway and Ruiji Imada (sp.) sorry but his bag was tilted the wrong way and he didn't appear to speak english that well so I couldn't ask him to spin it around :). Back up a few minutes and breakfast was with all the boys and Sheri...Justin Leaonard, Scott Verplank (who I shoved out of the way to toast my english muffin for Pete's sake, Steve Stricker who ate with Rod Pampling and so on. No locker room drama just a Davis Love III sighting and David Toms in the boys room but I digress...The spectators were in full force on Tuesday morning as Kenny Perry and I strode up the hill with autograph seekers lining both sides. Fortunately he took most of the rush (go figure!?) and got sloppy seconds. Oh yea and Phil was lurking...stay tuned gotta go eat with the board member from Oakland Hills. I'll be back later.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Practice round #1- Oh My!

So much to talk about, WOW! Ok, so reality check here people because this is a Major. Of course you will see the likes of Angel Cabrerra (U.S. Open winner 2006), Adam Scott, Camillo Villegas etc...all on the range. On the course I got to see others like John Daly (yes, he's that large but no cigarette?), Charles Howell III, Woody Austin a.k.a. Aquaman and so on. I wasn't concerned with the fact I played a practice round with Tommy Armour III (remember him from the airport?) and Pat Perez. I wasn't in awe of the name plate on the range behind me to let the thousands of spectators know who was the guy (very well dressed I might add) hitting those squirters off to the right and left. No, see the reason I was a touch skiddish was the tens of thousands already there to watch a Monday practice round! That's right "tens". Bleachers full, fairways lined and tees surrounded by autograph seekers of all ages!!! I can't stress to you how many signatures I signed on caps, golf balls (very tough to sign), flags with the Oakland Hills logo, tee shirts, badges, magazines and the list goes on. Kids were not the only ones seeking as adults routinely jammed their way in. I began suspecting an E-Bay moment here with some of the adults but I'll let that go.
I won't bore you with details of practice round only to say the back didn't hold up too well from carrying all those bags in and around airports. That coupled with the stress to hit a practice ball in front of all those people made for an interesting round. My approach shots to the greens were outstanding... when I hit the fairways. The rough is deep and requires LOTS of club head speed to extricate. Best advice given was from Tommy Armour III, "don't hit practice balls 'til your hands bleed just have a great time. Hit twenty balls after the round, take her to a movie, walk around the mall and have a coffee." He knows.
Kenny Perry and Corey Pavin had an interesting exchange in the locker room concerning the rough and length of the course so I'm not alone...
Things are beginning to speed up around here as the first day is now over. Can't wait 'til tomorrow. Please let me know if this is too much info. Just trying to tell all!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sunday at the Majors

Sorry I'm getting a late start to this but we had to wait for those dang courtesy cars! They pull out a Buick (PGA sponser alert) Enclave otherwise known as a hybrid which had a grand total of 7 miles on it...I mean excuse me?? How am I supposed to live like this? Any way they give me two sets of keys, yeah like Sheri's gonna drive, and we're off to the hotel. BTW, I met Tommy Armour III at the transportation desk waiting impatiently for someone to "chew out" for not having his keys readily available. As he's fidgeting around along comes another potential golfer whom T. A. asks if he's there to get his car or "are you a player?" I'm trying not to notice and grab our 5 bags (where is sheri?) and head out to our vehicle. I must admit that Sheri has been my biggest supporter through all of this dating back to Georgia where she walked all four agonizing rounds.
Dinner was, where else, Famous Dave's for some baby back ribs and a few cold ones. Oh yeah I had an opportunity back at the airport to plug the 20 PGA club pros to a member of the CBS team so after mentioning my name he said we'll see you on Saturday...I hope so stay tuned

Friday, August 1, 2008

Countdown begins

Golf enthusiasts, welcome to my first official PGA blog. Since you've made it this far then I'll assume you are interested in all the juicy details that go on behind the scenes of a Major. I do solemnly swear to keep posting through the good times and...not so good. To give a quick update on happenings, caddying for me will be Bryan Koslosky, not Ronnie Lagana who's decided in our best interest to watch from the other side of the ropes. Bryan has been a friend whom I got to know within the PGA while he was working at Crofton C.C. a few years ago. He now resides in Oregon after living in Huntington Beach, CA the previous 4 or 5 years.
Schedule of events is practice rounds Mon.-Wed. followed by range time on the things that we didn't like about the round itself. Oh yeah and plenty of putting. We are staying at the Hotel Baronette in Novi which is about 15 miles from the golf course, spa included...Stay tuned for the next update on Sunday. DL