Archive for September, 2009

Winning the Tour Championship should mean more

I’d say that, in the long run, Sean O’Hair said it more succinctly.

The Tour Championship was done. Phil Mickelson had not just won, he had blitzed the field. Eighteen holes with five birdies and nary a bogey, a round of 65, five strokes better than Tiger Woods, who finished second.

But in the winner’s circle there were two champions to crown.

O’Hair had spent the day partnering Mickelson — he shot 69 and finished third — and he was trying to answer questions about how the day had gone. You see, not a lot of us, including the players, have a clear idea of how the FedEx Cup competition works.

“Did Tiger make a par there?” he asked, speaking of the 17th hole.

Assured that Tiger had, he said, “So he won the FedEx Cup then.”

Yeah, Phil won the battle, but Tiger won the war, meaning that Mickelson had won the Tour Championship, but Tiger had won the oddly designed FedEx Cup, and the loot.

“I’d prefer, I think, to have the $10 million dollars in my pocket,” O’Hair said.

Phil …

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Perry inches closer to big payday

Kenny Perry is about as country as a pair of bib overalls. (Which he occasionally wears.) He lives in the country, no reflection on Franklin, Ky., where he has always been home. He decided Franklin needed a golf course, so he built one, bought 142 acres and borrowed $2.5 million to foot the bill. Naturally, he named it Country Creek.

Rees Jones and Tom Fazio and all those other designers of golf courses are safe. Kenny won’t be horning in on their trade. Country Creek looks nice from the interstate, makes you want to stop and play nine. But I’ll tell you, the little course will weary your limbs. It’s not, I might add, the kind of club that invites wedding parties and frou-frou fandangos.

But that’s not what we’re here to talk about today. We’re talking about Kenny Perry, who would be the club pro, if Country Creek had one. He’s busy on the road, has been since 1987, and going into this season had earned $26-million-plus playing the PGA Tour. He has contributed mightily to the …

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Welcome to East Lake!

Gentlemen, start your bateaux! We hope you enjoy another year at East Lake, whose waters have been refreshed by seasonal rains. Blushingly, we welcome the imposing figure of Tiger Woods back into the field. To say he has been missed is to say that we have no appreciation for the 71 percent increase his presence has meant to Tour events.

Look at the PGA Tour roll out all those percentages it has in its book. It can bounce the Tour Championship around from one date to another, to avoid NFL kickoffs, tight major league pennant races, Georgia and Georgia Tech football weekends — and let me warn all ye outlanders that when you dally around with Bulldog and Yellow Jacket conflicts, you have trouble, my friend — and in the long run, only the presence of Tiger Woods can make a real difference.

Sorry, but such is the economic tightrope the Tour Championship walks. And frankly, in this part of the sporting world, it isn’t likely to change. Then this week, the rainmaker goes on a drunk. …

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Cox can’t walk away from richly stocked Braves

It comes to my attention that there has been widespread discussion on the matter of the Braves and just who might be their manager next season. Of course, isn’t that always the case when one guy had been in command long enough to have raised a family? Such may be said of Bobby Cox, who has managed the Braves since 1978, interrupted by four years across the Canadian border, then a return of five seasons preparing to resume the chair that Ted Turner had kept warm for him.

It was Turner himself, never given to shyness, who said at the press conference when Cox was being fired, that if he was hiring a manager to succeed Cox, it would be — well, Bobby Cox. So the two Rover Boys were reunited until Turner himself eventually took leave.

So it is that when a manager is of Social Security age, and his team has gone one October after another without a booking, people wonder. People talk. People wonder if he might not be ready for the farm. They forget that Casey Stengel managed until he …

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Tech’s Johnson ranks with the greatest

If I had to go to a football game — and I’ll say this with all honesty — I’d pick one in which Paul Johnson is coaching. This is not some overnight observation. This comes from a guy who has seen Neyland, Dodd, Blaik, Wade and Lombardi coach, not to mention having sat for hours with Bob Zuppke. You know, the guy who coached Red Grange at Illinois.

Of course, they’re all gone now, so I’m left with the new fella at Georgia Tech, like it or not. I bring this up after an evening of watching him on “white-out night” Thursday — and let me add, that I despise mid-week night football games. This may or may not appeal in the least to the present-day students in the stands.

(Though, did you notice that during the Georgia Tech-Clemson game, a synchronized cheer of “Fight, fight, fight” broke out in the quite intelligent home-team section? That’s old-time Ivy League stuff that you don’t hear any more, drowned out by that dreadful pregame ear-splitting stuff.)

On the subject of coaching, I …

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Where does Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game go from here?

You kiddin’ me? Georgia and Georgia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game? Surely, they jest.

I swear I heard it being bandied about on one of those sports radio shows the other morning. Just the thought of Georgia and Georgia Tech doing their annual conflict any place but on campus is a serious case of mental illness. In the first place, the whole city of Athens would rise up in rebellion, especially the merchants and the chamber of commerce.
They already miss out on the stimulus they might have if Jacksonville hadn’t monopolized the Florida game. And that one is locked in, as is the Texas-Oklahoma game in Dallas. Not only that, but the Georgia-Georgia Tech game is on campus. It ain’t budging.

They played once at old Ponce de Leon, the baseball park. Right now, though, let Atlanta Sports Council have its day, and let the city feast on these Alabama and Virginia Tech guests who feed our municipal coffers, and blessings be to Gary Stokan and his industrious confreres. What this …

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