Monday, July 21, 2008

Harrington Survives Shark-Infested Waters

Paddy does it again! I thought it was anyone's game as they made the turn on Sunday, but Harrington righted the ship and played crazy-good on those last few holes. I had a weird feeling that the Irishman might make it two in a row, bum wrist and all. If Greg Norman had won, it would've made one of the greatest golf movies of all time...a 53-year old legend comes out of retirement to redeem his past failures with one last major victory. Instead, the best "feel good" story of the year will remain Tiger gutting it out on one good leg to win the U.S. Open.

I haven't dealt with Greg Norman much on the PGA TOUR. He's only played in a handful of events in the last five years, but every time we have interacted, I've been very impressed. It's easy to see why he's been so successful in his multiple business ventures. Norman is very engaging, looks you right in the eye, and makes you feel important, even if just for a few minutes.

The Shark played in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am this year, where he teamed up with his amateur son Gregory Junior. As I've mentioned before, I was stationed at Spyglass Hill all week, and on Friday I got a call on the radio from one of our Rules Officials. "Casey, Greg Norman is out on the course and needs some soft-spike replacements. See if you can grab some in the pro shop and meet him on the ninth tee."

The next thing I knew, I was holding the Shark's left shoe in my hand, frantically cranking one of those crappy little spike-wrenches to replace two missing soft-spikes. Norman sat next to me on a bench as I tried to look proficient in spike-wrenching. "Aren't you the guy in the scoring area?" he asked me. I replied yes, and he said, "Ah, a man of many talents. Thanks for making the trip out here to help me." I told him no problem, and that the two soft-spikes would cost him $5,000 each...he could pay me after the round. He laughed and said sure, but I never saw the money. He must've forgotten.

Good luck this week at the Senior British, Greg, and thanks for a memorable four days at the Open! And of course, congrats to Padraig...AGAIN!

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Monday, July 14, 2008

The Caddie Beats His Pro

The week of the British Open has arrived, and Padraig Harrington will do his best to defend his title. Padraig is a great guy, and even though I'm also a big fan of Sergio Garcia, I was glad to see Harrington come out on top after last year's Open playoff. I created a scoresheet for Padraig to commemorate his major victory, and presented it to him at last year's TOUR Championship in Atlanta (see the photo on my home page at He was very appreciative, and later sent me a signed British Open pin flag and copy of his new book "Journey To The Open".

Back in February at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, I was talking to Padraig and his caddie Ronan Flood on the putting green at Spyglass Hill. Earlier in the week, Padraig, Ronan, and a couple of their Irish buddies were in San Francisco for some fun. The group decided to play a casual round at Harding Park Golf Course, and the weather that day turned out cold, wet and miserable.

Padraig revealed, "That's the first time my caddie has ever beaten me straight up."

"What?" I replied. "Ronan, are you that good? Why are you carrying the bag? If you're beating the defending Open Champion head-to-head, you might want to consider a career change."

"It was a fluke," Ronan admitted. "I'm a pretty good mudder, and I slopped it around in the rain to shoot even par. Padraig finished at 1-over. I need you to do a scoresheet for me to immortalize my win. I'll hang it up in my house, so everyone that visits will see..."

"I don't think so," Padraig interrupted. "The only guys that know about this are the four of us that were there, and now Casey."

And now everyone who reads my blog.

Good luck to Padraig and Ronan this week...I'd love to see another back-to-back champion at the Open. Tiger obviously did it in 2005-2006, but before him it has been over twenty years since Tom Watson won consecutive titles (1982-83).

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Monday, July 7, 2008

The Man with One Black Shoe

Anthony Kim is showing the world that he is for real. With two wins in his last five starts, he is the first American under 25-years old to win twice in the same year since…Tiger Woods.

One of my first impressions of AK came at last year’s
Nissan Open (now the Northern Trust Open) at Riviera Country Club in California. He showed up to start his third round on the tenth tee wearing one black shoe and one white shoe. The fans were snickering, the other pros were rolling their eyes, and I was the first to ask him what was up. “Did you get dressed in the dark, AK?"

“What…you don’t like this action?” he fired back.

“Well, I’ve seen some crazy shoes before, but I can’t say I’ve seen two completely different pairs being worn at the same time. That’s a new one.”

“Exactly. I want to be the first to make the two-shoe statement.”

I realized right there that this rookie is either extremely clueless, or he’s cocky for good reason. He then stepped up and cranked his drive onto the green, 315 yards away. Anthony shot 64 in the final round that week, finished ninth on a sponsor’s exemption, and went on to make $1.5 million for the year (60th on the 2007 money list).

Hey AK, wear any combination of shoes you want (or a huge, five-pound, diamond-encrusted belt buckle). You’re currently fifth on the money list and fifth in FedEx Cup points…by now, you’ve definitely earned it.

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