The hard lessons Stu Ingraham has learned at Q-School
Thursday, November 19, 2009
By Joe Logan

For Stu Ingraham, the dream of making the Champions Tour next season has given way to reality.


Despite his best efforts at Q-School, currently underway in Scottsdale, Ariz., a Top 5 finish and a full exemption for 2010 is not going to happen, nor will there be "conditional" status for finishing between 6th and 12th in the field of 78.


Tied for 40th through three of four rounds, at best, if he shoots 66 or 67 in Friday’s fourth and final round, he’ll crack the Top 30, meaning he can Monday qualify for Champions Tour events.  It’s not what the six-time Player of the Year in the Philadelphia PGA Section had hoped for but, as he said yesterday, "I didn’t embarrass myself."


Full leaderboard here.


Ingraham, former longtime head pro at Overbrook Golf Club who now teaches at M Golf Range in Newtown Square, got off to a good start this week.  In a field full of graying PGA Tour pros gunning for a new leases of life, Ingraham shot 2-under 69 in his first round at TPC Scottsdale’s Champions Course, tying him for 23rd.


His downfall was the second round, when he shot 3-over 74 and more or less had a meltdown after a ruling by a rules official that he believed was dead wrong and damaging to his chances.


It came at the 10th hole, when his approach shot plugged in its own pitch mark above a bunker – or at least he thought it did.  Before dislodging the ball, Ingraham consulted his playing partner, who wasn’t so sure it was plugged.


They called over a rules official, who also wasn’t convinced the ball was plugged in its own pitch mark.


"I said, "Oh, I get it, my last name is Ingraham, it’s not Curt Byrum or Wayne Grady," he said, naming a couple of Tour pros in the field.  "I was so mad, I couldn’t see straight.  So, now I chunk it, make 5 there, bogey the next hole and lose a ball on 13."


After a night’s rest to cool off, and despite a balky putter the next day, Ingraham managed to shoot 2-under 69 again Thursday, for a 1-under total through three rounds.  But it’s too little, too late.


Still three months shy of his 50th birthday, the obvious question is what Ingraham learned this week that might serve him well in a second run at the Champions Tour next year.


"What I have learned is that when I’m playing good, I am as good as them," he said. "I hit it farther.  But when I struggle with my putter, or when I hit a couple of bad shots, I tend to not score, where they grind it out.


"They’ll  shoot even par or even 2-under when they aren’t doing anything special, where I might shoot 2- or 3-over.  You can’t do that.  That’s what I’ve learned."


Post Script: Ingraham shot 74 in the final round, finishing tied for 46th.









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Would a little candor kill you, Tiger?
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
By Joe Logan

When I read my colleague John Huggan’s screed (see Featured Stories) about Tiger Woods’ lackluster performance in the interview room at the Australian Masters, I laughed out loud.


I agree totally with Huggan, a blunt-spoken Scot.  Sometimes, it’s almost as if Tiger wants to be a bore bordering on boorish.


With a golf club in his hand, Tiger is the best, now or ever.  You’ll get no argument here.   He’s an artist, a magician, a golfing Hercules -- and the hardest-working man I’ve ever seen.


But put a microphone in his hand, or a camera in front of him, and this man of steel too often morphs into a mealy-mouthed muttonhead.  


I cannot tell you how many times over the years I have walked out of a Tiger press conference shaking my head, trying to think of something he said – anything – worth quoting.  The guy can shoot a 64 that is a work of art to seize the lead in a major championship, only to put you to sleep describing it in his post-round press conference.


And that’s on the easy stuff!  Try to pin him down on a truly controversial issue or topic – race, politics or, say, whether he thinks Augusta National Golf Club should admit a woman member and this tiger becomes a lamb.


Contrast that to the closest thing he has to a rival these days, Phil Mickelson. Phil is as bold with a microphone in his hand as he is with a wedge.  He’s smart, quick with a one-liner and he fears no topic.  Ask Phil the tough question, then get ready to take notes.  Best of all, Phil is willing to show you he’s human, whether its talking about his wife’s breast cancer or his often futile efforts to tame Tiger.  That’s part of what makes Phil such an appealing character and fan favorite.


Not Tiger. He’s super-human on the golf course and almost too perfect off it.  Mr. Invulnerable.  Personal stuff?  Don’t bother asking, because you won’t get much.  He is the master of speaking for 20 minutes and revealing nothing.


Of course, from Tiger’s perspective, why should he say or do anything remotely controversial?  To do so would only potentially jeopardize the open spigot of money that pours in from his corporate sponsors -- more than $100 million a year.  But would it kill him to be a little colorful or off-the-cuff?


As Huggan noted, Tiger’s lack of candor and lack of effort wouldn’t be so frustrating if he was just some dumb jock.  But he is not.  He’s quite bright.  He was always an outstanding student, including the two years he spent at Stanford before turning pro.


And if you hang around the golf circuit long enough, you get to see glimpses of Tiger in a more relaxed mode --- enough to know that he does indeed have insights into and fully-formed opinions about things, even if he won’t share them.  He’s nobody’s fool.


He adopted the zipped-lip policy, if you will recall, in the wake of a story in Esquire magazine soon after he turned pro.  The youthful  Tiger told a few off-color jokes, which turned up in the story.  The writer wanted to show that Tiger did indeed have a lighter side; Tiger was more concerned with guarding his image.


Shocked, and apparently feeling betrayed, Tiger learned his lesson.  Never again.  Since then, no more hanging-out-with-Tiger stories.  He does formal press conferences during which he is cordial, if guarded, and never controversial.


That’s not to say there isn’t the occasional lapse or misstep, mainly because Tiger is always "on."  Remember a few weeks ago, at the first of the FedEx Cup playoffs, the Barclays at Liberty National Golf Club in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty?

More than a few of the players made snarky comments about the course, which was designed by former U.S. Open champion Tom Kite.  Tiger was no exception, although his criticisms were not made publicly but rather in a off-the-cuff remarks during to a business executive during the pro-am.


"Maybe Tom did this course before his eye operation," Tiger reportedly joked, referring to Kite’s laser surgery.


When the executive blabbed to the media, Tiger’s joke that was the most cited quote all week.  Everybody loved it.   Everybody except Tiger. 





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Phillies (and Philly) win 
World Series of Golf: Philly vs. NYC
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
By Joe Logan

I was on the phone with my buddy Jeff Silverman this morning when the conversation suddenly turned to one of the stories currently featured on MyPhillyGolf – namely, Links magazine’s World Series of Golf: Philly vs. New York City.


"Totally bogus comparison," sniffed Silverman, who grew up on Long Island but has lived in Chadds Ford for years.


Agreed.  For one thing, where does Links magazine even get off counting Shinnecock Hills or National Golf Links as New York City courses?  They are both so far out on the tip of Long Island, they shouldn’t count.


For that matter, since when is Galloway National, hard by the South Jersey shore, a Philadelphia course?  The South Jersey Shore is a whole separate world of golf.


Another beef.  In its match-ups, why would Links compare an A.W. Tillinghast classic like Quaker Ridge to a modern Tom Fazio layout like Galloway, giving the edge to Quaker Ridge?  That’s comparing apples and oranges?  For a more apt comparison, how about Quaker Ridge vs. another Tillinghast classic, say, Philadelphia Cricket?  Silverman and I agree that’s a draw.


You want more?  If Links is going to call Shinnecock Hills and National Golf Links New York City courses, how about Philadelphia gets to include Saucon Valley in Bethlehem, a  Top 100 course in on everybody’s list, and Lancaster Country Club, a William Flynn gem that’s also a frequent Top 100 course?  Either of those courses would fare well in any comparisons to Baltusrol, Quaker Ridge or Somerset Hills.


Come to think of it, if Links is going to put Shinnecock Hills and National Golf Links in the NYC orbit, why not call Somerset Hills a Philadelphia course?  Somerset Hills, after all, is closer to Philadelphia City Hall (75.2 miles) than Shinnecock Hills is to New York’s City Hall (91.5 miles).


Like we said, it’s a bogus comparison.







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Could ShopRite LPGA Classic return?
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
By Joe Logan

On the day that the LPGA named marketing executive Michael Whan as its new commissioner, I happened to be chatting up a very plugged-in source down at the Jersey Shore.


Any stirrings about bringing back the late, great ShopRite LPGA Classic, a fan favorite 21 years until it died in 2006, I wondered?


As a matter of fact, he said, "It’s within the realm of possibility."


According to my source, nothing is close to being signed, sealed or delivered, but there are ongoing conversations about possibly bringing back the ShopRite.  He said that Seaview Marriott, the ShopRite’s final venue, is apparently willing and able; and ShopRite, which is now a secondary presenting sponsor of the Sybase Classic outside New York City, has been approached and is listening.


If the ShopRite is revived, it would be without Larry and Ruth Harrison, who ran it for years.  They have moved on, as have their old tournament staffers.  This is new blood that is trying to rejuvenate the ShopRite Classic.


All of this should come as good news to Whan, the incoming commissioner.  After the dreadful four-year reign of Carolyn Bivens—she killed the old ShopRite, by the way – Whan is being handed a tournament schedule for 2010 that has fewer than 20 events under contract. 


The situation is so bad for the LPGA that one recent story in a prominent golf magazine reported that an alarming number of players are exploring opportunities on other tours, such as in Japan. 


Again, bringing back the ShopRite is only preliminary discussions, but at least there are discussions.  Details as they develop.










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Limbaugh with phallic cigar 
Please, leave golf out of this.
Monday, October 26, 2009
By Joe Logan

The biggest non-story of the day, maybe the week, was splashed across the bottom half of the New York Times on Sunday, in a box no less.


Under a two-column headline that read: "Man’s World at White House?  No Harm, No Foul, Aides Say," accompanied by a photo of President Obama taking a jumper in a pick-up basketball game, the Times proceeded to foist upon the reading public the following complaint:


Our athletic, sports-crazy president has failed to include a woman in either his "high-level" regular hoops games or any of the 23 rounds of golf he has played since taking office nine months ago.


There is nothing I hate more than reading a story that makes me set aside a newspaper and say to myself, "So this is why people hate the media..."  But I did just that yesterday reading that piece.


Of all the things that President Obama and we citizens have to worry about – you don’t need me to review the list here – the failure to include women in White House basketball games or his occasional foursome is not one of them.


Ironically, this criticism of Obama comes not from the far right, which hammers him on plenty of other matters, but rather from what the Times said were "women’s advocates and liberal bloggers."


Aside from stewing in my own juices that some people actually worry about this kind of stuff, and that the Times saw fit give to give it credence by giving it prominent front page play, I resent seeing golf dragged into this quagmire of petty political correctness/incorrectness.


Golf didn’t do anything wrong.  Once again, our beloved game has been made to look bad by association, like when snooty country clubs snub potential members because they are of a certain race, creed, gender or religion.  Or when we see that repugnant photo of addicted golfer Rush Limbaugh sucking on that enormous phallic cigar.  Or when some yahoo marches confidently to the first tee dressed in bright yellow knickers, a black and yellow striped cashmere sweater and a black Ben Hogan cap, completely unaware that he looks like a bumble bee, not a golfer, and that he is an embarrassment to the game.


Please, leave golf out of this.







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Under new policy, PGA Tour players could be required to eat free food, put on  
Wise up, fool
Thursday, October 15, 2009
By Joe Logan

Every now and then some knucklehead on the PGA Tour says or does something that reminds you of just how out of touch with the real world many of those guys are.


If you’ve seen the Golf Plus section of this week’s Sports Illustrated, you know what I am talking about.  To wit: An anonymously-penned column with the headline: "Bellyache: A new PGA Tour policy is giving rank-and-file players like me indigestion."


In logic so ill-considered and whiny it’ll snap your head back, an unidentified PGA Tour player moans and groans about a new Tour policy intended to appease sponsors at a time when too many of them are heading for the exits.


Each week at tournaments, guys who are so marginally known or successful that fat cat businessmen are not exactly falling all over themselves to fork over $5,000 or $10,000 for the pleasure of their company (or brooding silence) in a pro-am, are going to be on the hook to show up for 90 minutes at a sponsor party on Tuesday or Wednesday.


Are you kidding me?  A party? With icky regular people, even if they do underwrite my lifestyle?  What’s next, high-mileage courtesy cars?


"We know we have a bad economy and have to do something to help the companies that write our checks,"  Mr. Anonymous writes incredulously.  "And it’s not that we don’t appreciate the sponsors.  But to tell guys that 52 of you may play and another 30 are on the hook to visits sponsors – that’s a nightmare."


That’s a nightmare?


He’s not done.  "I can tell you that every player would rather endure a five- or six-hour pro-am round than put on a happy face and hang out at a two-hour dinner."


Wait, there’s more.  "It may not sound like much, but you’re there to entertain, and have to be "on" the entire time," he writes.  "And you can’t no-show or leave early or hide in the bathroom, since I’m sure Commissioner Finchem’s disciples will be taking attendance."


Oh, the horrors of having to show up at a party, where I can assure you the food is free and fabulous, the bar is open, the fat cats are fawning and the women are flirtatious.


And let’s be clear about who we are talking about.  As Mr. Whiny makes clear, it’s not Tiger and Phil and other big name players who have to show up to eat free shrimp and make small talk.  No, those guys are further up the PGA Tour food chain and they are required to play in the pro-am.  The guys who have to come to the parties are they guys who don’t rate the pro-am, the guys who rank between 50th and 110th on the money list.


A quick check of the money list shows that 50th is Paul Goydos, who so far this year has pocketed just over $1.6 million in winnings; 110th is Michael Bradley, who has made $689,147.


Paul Goydos is a very nice guy and way too smart to be the dope who wrote this column in SI. But let’s be honest, if he wasn’t playing on the PGA Tour, Goydos would probably return to teaching school.  I’d tell you what I think Michael Bradley would be doing if it he wasn’t on the PGA Tour, if I wasn’t so vague on who he is. Is he the skinny, red-headed guy?


Either way, if Goydos or Bradley, or anybody in between them on the money list, thinks he can make more money doing something else, without having to make "happy face" or eat free shrimp for 90 minutes a week, they ought to get on with it.    Go. Now.  Don’t waste another moment  in the shackles of the PGA Tour.  Come on, you don’t have to put up with these kind of outrageous demands.


Or maybe they could just take a look at what’s going on in the real world around them and wise up.



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Kevin Walsh[10/16/2009 7:28:55 AM]
Great blog. The PGA Tour is simply fantasyland. Iíd like a guy like Goydos to give a State of the Tour Address to call those prima donnas out on their bs. Sometimes people donít know what an a-hole they are until someone has the balls to call them that.

Vijay Singh 
The mystery of Vijay
Monday, October 12, 2009
By Joe Logan

In all my time covering golf tournaments, one guy I never could figure out was Vijay Singh.


Actually, I never much cared for him.  I admired his talent, work ethic and longevity, but I didn’t admire the guy.


Even at the height of Singh’s career, when he won back-to-back money titles in 2003-’04 and had every reason to be all smiles, he wasn’t.  Or at least he wasn’t around the media.


Singh’s relationship with the scribbler’s was so prickly that whenever his name would rise to the top of a leaderboard, you could almost hear a collective sigh bordering on a groan go up in the media center.  Why? Because it meant we’d have to deal with him.


Dealing with Vijay was not fun.  He’d arrive in the media center, looking sullen and disinterested, like he’d been dragged there kicking and screaming by a media official.  He’d settle into his chair with all the anticipation of a man about to undergo a root canal.


Then the questions would start?  Usually, they weren’t hard, awkward, probing questions -- just basic stuff.  How do you feel going into the final round tomorrow holding the lead?  What’s it going to take to close the deal?  Worried about Tiger lurking two shots back?


More often than not, Vijay would respond in a tone so indifferent it just oozed contempt for the question and the questioner.  Sometimes, he’d glare at the questioner.  If the question came from a prominent writer he particularly didn’t like, Vijay would just pretend he didn’t hear it.


I never could understand why he maintained such an arm’s-length relationship with the media.  Other players didn’t, not even Tiger.


Funny thing is, if Vijay had made even a half-hearted attempt at pretending to get along with the media, he could have skated by on a smile and a song.  As it was, because he seemed to be so deliberately disagreeable, few in the media liked him and few were inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.


From time to time, you’d hear from another player that the media had Vijay all wrong.   He was a good guy, generous and popular with the other players, they’d say.  Which, in my mind, only further begged the question of why he didn’t show that side of himself to the media?  It would have taken so little effort to soothe the relationship and win them over.


Over time I concluded that Vijay either didn’t care about his relationship with the media or, if he did, he wasn’t about to show it.  So he just kept on doing what he did.


Given all this, I have to give Vijay credit when credit is due.  On Sunday at the Presidents Cup, he did a very sportsmanlike thing.  In his singles match against Lucas Glover, on the 18th hole, he conceded a 7-foot birdie putt that halved the match for the American. At that point, the halve didn’t matter.  Tiger had already won the match that clinched the victory for the U.S. six holes back.


What the concession did do was enable Glover, the U.S. Open champion who was having a frustrating week, to salvage a shred of dignity by earning ½ point.  If Glover had missed the putt, he would have gone 0-4 and been the only American to get skunked for the week.


True to form, afterward, Vijay claimed he didn’t realize the concession was for the halve, and that Glover would have made the putt anyway.


"It was great. It was a good gesture," Glover said. "I'm not sure he knew what the score was, because he came up afterward and said, 'I didn't know that was for a halve. I thought I was 1 up.'"


That’s called Vijay being Vijay.

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