May
15
2012
Belated thoughts and behind the scenes, post-Players edition
By Stephanie Wei under Behind the Scenes

Pretty in pink at The Players

There are always a bunch of leftover tidbits from talking with players about whatever topic or observing something interesting/weird/funny/sad that I wish I could have shared, but for one reason or another, I didn’t have time to post or write it, or it just didn’t fit anywhere else. Maybe I’m an ultra geek and no one else cares, but that’s too bad. I’m not forcing you to read on…

*I have an opus on the slow play problem on the PGA Tour, which is a post on its own.

*Speaking of which, Kevin Na hit an incredible 5-wood off the concrete cart path on the 18th hole and hit it to about 25-30 feet. From where he was and the water menacing all the way down the left side of the hole, that was very impressive. Na tweeted a YouTube clip of it — if you just want to see the shot and skip his pre-shot routine, fast-forward to the 1:05 mark.

I swear Roger Maltbie let a “sh*t” slip out in reaction to how good Na’s shot was. Oh, there was hardly a scratch on the 5-wood, which means he had to have struck it pretty much perfectly. That’s more than enough for me.

*Rookie Harris English was paired in the second-to-last group on Saturday with Matt Kuchar. Surely already nervous, English hit a drive that hooked and landed splat on top of a man’s hand, knocking him down and causing a visible wound (and blood). Ouch. Well, that kind of shook up Harris and he never quite recovered. Not exactly the start he wanted to make. Add that with rookie nerves and there’s your explanation for the 79 he shot in the third round. Chalk it up to another one of those valuable learning experiences.

*Remember what happened on Thursday morning with the whole crazy incident, where D.A. Points withdrew and officials weren’t alerted until a Shot Link employee noticed there were only two balls in the fairway, and then the chaos ensued because they couldn’t gather the first alternate, Brian Harman, in time — technically DQ’ing him for not being at the tee, but he did everything that was required of him as an alternate and notified the lady he was on-site and ready to play, where he could be found, etc. The PGA Tour officials eventually decided to let Harman in the field and he teed off at 12:20, five minutes before the first threesome in the afternoon wave was scheduled to start.

The only thing left unclear to me about the situation was what Points did on the first tee, what he said to his playing partners, etc., and what transpired from there to the time when Harman was finally fetched…too late.

Well, Robert Garrigus helped clear that up. He told reporters his side of the story after the first round at TPC Sawgrass.

“When we got up to the tee box, D.A. was about to hit, I was third in the group, and D.A. is like, hey, man, I can’t go.  I’m like, well, I tee off and we’ll wait for Brian because I saw him on the driving range.  We didn’t understand what was going on.  We thought Brian was going to come play with us.

“We hit our second shots.  We’re like, okay, what’s going on.  As soon as we finished the hole, we knew Brian was done.  So once he was done, we’re like, well, they just DQ’d all the alternates because he didn’t get to play. So as soon as we finished the hole, we’re like, well, that’s that.

“But the PGA Tour officials should have stepped in and said, hey, wait to finish the hole or we have to do something, and they did something and he’s able to play, which is good, because he should have because he was here, and he notified them where he was. There was no way he should have been disqualified, and they made the right call in my opinion by letting him play this afternoon first off in a single.

“They asked him if he wanted a marker, he said no, so he’s just playing as a single and then first off tomorrow morning, which is the right call because he was here.  He wasn’t on the tee box, and D.A., I think, should have said something, hey, my back is hurt, call the first alternate.  That’s my opinion.”

What happened on the tee:

“I saw (D.A) trying to swing a golf club.  I’m like, how is he going to do this today.  It didn’t look like he was going to be able to swing a club, let alone play golf.  He said it was hard for him to stand up, but he could bend over and pick up a tee, but he couldn’t straighten his back.  So I mean, he had muscle spasms.

“I heard 25 minutes before we teed off that D.A. hurt his back, so there was time for all this to get set up but it never did.  Either he ran to the physio, had someone take him to the physio, or whatever.  Something should have been said or something should have got done before then so Brian would have been able to tee off when we had him there.”

Ridiculous, but Harman made the cut and ended up placing a respectable tie for 51st and earning $22,496.00, which could turn out to be quite valuable at the end of the year or not at all, but there’s always that possibility. Not everyone gets the fair or right call, but good to know it does happen.

Man, it hasn’t been the best few weeks for PGA Tour officials, huh? Mark Russell has probably lost his voice from giving so many press conferences and statements.

*The beloved 2012 Masters champ Bubba Watson took a self-imposed “maternity leave.” Well, I found it interesting to hear Simon Dyson (nice chap, by the way) had just returned the week before after a two-month non-completely-voluntary one:

My wife just had a baby two months ago.  She wanted me at home a lot during her pregnancy, and then she wanted me at home straight after, and it’s tough.  And I’ve missed a lot of good tournaments.  I missed Honda, I missed Bay Hill, tournaments like that, whereas I could have got on a good run.  I’ve been playing one tournament, having a week off, playing another tournament, having two weeks off, and I just haven’t been able to get into a run of tournaments.

I mentioned Bubba’s decision to take a month off, which wasn’t the case for Dyson.

No, he didn’t have to.  My wife just wanted me to, and I wanted to be there, as well.  I would have hated to have missed any part of it because it’s an unbelievable experience.  I’m pleased I did it.  But my golf is suffering a little bit.  Just got to get back in the swing of things.

Unfortunately, Dyson tweaked his back the week prior in Spain and was forced to withdraw after the first round due to the back injury. Good, friendly guy. Hope he feels better soon.

*Vijay Singh’s absurdly amazing drill that I see him do at the range all the time and I find it fascinating that he doesn’t hit either the shaft or the umbrella.

*Robert Garrigus threw in a 60″ TV to the winner of the caddies closest to the pin contest on No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass on the spot, because, well he’s Garrigus. Best coincidence? His caddie Brent Henley was the winner, knocking his shot to 3’7″.

*Curtis Dvorak has served as the Jacksonville Jaguars mascot, “Jaxson De Ville,” since 1996. According to Golf World’s Mike Johnson, Andres Romeros’ caddie Adrian Monteros challenged Jaxson to hit a shot on 17. In full costome, Dvorak grabbed an eight-iron, saying he’d have to club down because of the suit. Brandt Snedeker chimed in and didn’t think he’d make the green. Mike “Fluff” Cowan, Jim Furyk, shot back, “I’ll take the cat for $20.” Sneds left the 17th tee with $20 less in his wallet. I happened to also be on the tee when this happened, but Jaxson hit more than one impressive shot. He was putting on quite the performance. (I’m joking when I say he’s showing off…)


That’s all, folks!

(Getty Images/David Cannon)