Who won the first-ever Donald Ross Memorial Invitational boys individual title?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Who says we need Tiger

***DISCLAIMER - Before anyone comments that this is the same-old rant about the PGA Tour needing Tiger Woods as a money-making force, realize this is a post on players not named Woods, who can carry the tour's banner. There's tips on how to watch an event, too.

PALM HARBOR - It's my day off, but that didn't steer me away from sports, or golf. So, I drove up to watch the third round of the Transitions Championship on a gorgeous sun-splashed Florida afternoon. Watching PGA Tour players grind it out in their office is quite the experience.
I'd been to several Champions Tour events, but this was my maiden voyage to see the younger guys.
Rule No. 1 - Wear the most comfortable shoes you can find, and put on light-colored clothing with lots of sunscreen for the skin.
There's lots and lots of walking involved under the scorching sun, especially if you plan on following one group around.
Rule No. 2 - Leave the cell phone and camera in the car or at home.
You won't be allowed through the security checkpoint, and you won't anger the players with all that clicking during their backswings, if you can manage to smuggle it in. It's just easier and better for all parties if you don't bother bringing the PDA or digital camera to the gate - remember, there was a time when we all got along just fine without needing to constantly call, text or google on the cell phone.
So those are the two major rules when heading to a PGA Tour event for the first time. Now, there's several options once you arrive - head to the hospitality tent for some relaxing, follow one group for the entire round, set up shop at one particular hole to watch all the players come through it or follow a couple groups for a few holes.
They make it easy by giving you a pairings sheet upon entering the grounds.
I've followed one group before, but today I decided on watching several groups - each for a few holes.
I planned on getting there a bit early to watch the guys warm-up, but after a minor snafu with the directions, I didn't arrive until the last few groups were ready for No. 1. So, I ended up watching the Steve Stricker/Retief Goosen pairing and quickly realized just how tough the Copperhead Course at the Innisbrook Resort is.
Stricker and Goosen combined to hit just one green in regulation (GIR) in the first three holes, yet they showcased some stellar short game shots and they holed some lengthy par-savers. The PGA Tour's motto "These guys are good" is definitely true.
When Stricker and Goosen teed off the par-5 fifth, I decided on hanging back to watch the next group tee off that hole.
That's because Bubba Watson was in the next group, and it was a real treat watching the pink-shafted driver smash the dimpled golf ball so far from Watson's lanky frame.
Then, I cut right through No. 6 and headed toward No. 16, which wasn't that far away.
I did this and timed it based on the pairings sheet (a spectator's life-saver), so I could watch John Daly.
I wasn't disappointed, nor was the enormous gallery following Long John.
He was struggling for most of his round, but had dropped about a 10-footer for birdie on No. 15, then tattooed about a 290-yard drive with a 3-wood that wowed the people surrounding the 16th tee box.
I moved over to the tee at No. 18, because the par-3 17th had a giant grandstand, so getting near the green or tee to watch Daly seemed impossible.
David Duval's group was just ahead of Daly, so I was able to see Double-D tee off.
Daly hit a decent tee shot on the 17th, and dropped the putt for birdie to set off a raucous celebration with waving towels.
The bleachers between the 17th green and 18th tee were dubbed the "Blue Collar Bleachers."
They were loud to the point that I almost forgot I was at a golf tournament, because it felt like a football game.
Arnold Palmer has his supporters. They're called Arnie's Army.
Daly's supporters wear the same colorful pants as he grip-it-and-rip-it two-time major winner.
Call them Daly's Duffers - aka the Average Joe.
The support for Daly is undeniable, a golfer that attracts so many, no matter what course he elects to play.
One fan yelled out, "It's your world, we're just living in it."
That's the aura that Daly has developed through all the personal demons he's battled through. He wanted to quit after the dismal showing in San Diego at the Farmer's Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.
That wouldn't have looked good for the reality show, "Being John Daly," airing on The Golf Channel.
So he's fighting through the bad play, and plugging along. Sure, he said on The Golf Channel it's like playing at home this week.
But that's not why people come out in droves to watch J.D. hit the long ball.
Duval, has had personal problems that derailed his playing career during a stretch where he fell off everyone's radar.
Yet, he doesn't captivate an audience the way Daly does.
Nobody seems to do that aside from Tiger Woods.
The Woods Effect, where the tour generates tons of ratings and cash, has been one where the PGA Tour has panicked since the Woods affair saga started.
But all commissioner Tim Finchem needs to look at is Daly.
He closed with three birdies in his final four holes on Saturday.
If he can get it all back, then good things abound for the tour and a Tiger/Daly pairing would generate the most buzz and rowdiest crowds the PGA Tour might ever see.

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