Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mayakoba To-Do List: Wear a Visor

I was on the road for two more TOUR events in February.  People often ask me what is my favorite tournament of the year.  The Heritage on Hilton Head Island is always my #1, but I admit that when the weather's nice, the AT&T at Pebble Beach is hard to beat.  With clear skies and a sparkling sun, the golf-lover's vibe on 17-Mile Drive is intoxicating.  Unfortunately, this year one of the best tournaments turned into one of the ugliest.  Sustained 30-40 mph winds with buckets of rain on Sunday and Monday cancelled the final round, and Dustin (Hoffman, see my "Now on the Tee" blog post) Johnson won the gold without hitting a shot for two days.

Did anyone notice this about the CBS telecast on Sunday?  During the delay, Gary McCord and Ian Baker-Finch went out to the par three seventh for a televised three-hole mini-match.  They were battling the gale-force winds with a small crowd of spectators cheering them on.  There was only one problem...the reason none of the pros were playing at that time was because of high winds AND dangerous conditions!  Trash cans were blowing across fairways, tee signs were ripping loose from wooden posts, tents and bleachers were rocking back and forth, even a huge pine tree was uprooted on the third hole!  When TOUR officials saw what was going on, they terminated the match immediately.  That's why you viewers at home were abruptly switched (without explanation) from McCord and Finch hitting tee shots on #8 to a replay of Phil's 2007 AT&T victory.  For the record, IBF won the match 1-up after one hole.

While Geoff Ogilvy was steam-rolling his competition at the WGC-Accenture Match Play, I was working the opposite event, the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico.  This tournament has become another favorite of mine since its inception three years ago.  The Mayakoba Resort and El Camaleon Golf Course are spectacular, and the nearby beach town of Playa del Carmen provides a quaint, tourist-friendly atmosphere to enjoy dinner and drinks every night.  Mark Wilson, this year's champion, and his caddie Chris P. "Crispy" Jones did a generous thing Sunday evening after their victory...they stopped by the popular watering hole and bought everyone in the place a round of celebratory cervezas.  I was glad to see these two well-deserving guys follow up their first win at the 2007 Honda Classic.

I had actually predicted that Mark Wilson would win the tournament on Thursday afternoon, after his opening 66 put him in a tie for fourth.  My reasoning was simple...the inaugural Mayakoba champion was Fred Funk, who wore a visor that week.  Last year's winner was Brian Gay, who also wore a visor.  The only guy playing well after this year's first round one who was wearing a visor?  Mark Wilson, of course.  Once the word gets out about this obvious necessity for victory, expect half of the 2010 field to be sporting visors in Mexico.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Now on the Tee...

While out on the PGA TOUR, I've heard many a player's name pronounced incorrectly on the first tee. These innocent blunders by the volunteer announcers actually provide some of the more comical moments from my life on the road.

Watching 2008 rookie Dustin Johnson win his first TOUR event last week at the Turning Stone Resort Championship reminded me of a harmless goof from earlier this year. Right before Dustin started his final round at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in Palm Springs, the first tee announcer bellowed out, "Now on the tee, from South Carolina, Dustin HOFFMAN!"

The gallery began to laugh loudly, and as I stood beside him (snickering) on the tee, Dustin asked me,"Why is that so funny? So he mixed up my name with Charley Hoffman' big deal."

"Haven't you heard of Dustin Hoffman?" I asked.

"Oh yeah, I think so. Sure." He didn't seem too confident. I guess I need to cut Dustin some slack...he wasn't even born when Kramer vs. Kramer and Tootsie were hits, and he was only four years old when Rain Man was released. But he has to know about the Fokkers, right?

Stay tuned for more interesting "first tee fumbles"!

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