Thursday, August 29, 2013

Where, Oh Where, Is Anthony Kim?

(Note: Later updates appear below)

Aug. 29, 2013: So whatever happened to golfer Anthony Kim? This guy is one of the most talented players in the game, but he's disappeared. Hasn't been seen on golf courses, or anywhere else related to the game, for more than a year. Rumors abound of him giving up golf, turning his back on the game, and living the bohemian life on the beaches of California.

AK's Twitter page hasn't been updated since mid-2010. His website is dead and gone.

What's the deal? Will we ever see Anthony Kim on the PGA Tour again?

The answer is probably yes, because Kim's absence is not because he turned his back on golf and walked away from the game - he couldn't, because he couldn't walk anywhere due to a serious injury. More on that in a minute. First, let's review Kim's long history of injuries.

Kim had his breakout victory at the 2008 Wells Fargo Championship, and was a major part of the Team USA victory at the Ryder Cup that year. He was a budding star. He had two wins in 2008, won the 2010 Shell Houston Open and was third in the 2010 Masters.

Then the problems started. First, ligament damage in his thumb, which required surgery in 2010. He returned from that surgery in August 2010 and had middling results the rest of the season.

Kim played a full year in 2011, with some good results, but started suffering from tendonitis in that left thumb and hand. There were other, general aches and pains as well.

After starting the 2012 season slowly, Kim decided to step away from the tour for a (relatively) short time to give the tendonitis time to heal. This is the last most people heard of Anthony Kim: He left the tour, and hasn't been seen since.

But Kim's intention at that point was not to stay away from golf for an extended period, simply to give his body - particularly the thumb - some rest and time to heal.

What happened instead is that, while running on a beach in San Diego as part of a training regimen, Kim suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in his ankle.

That is a major, serious injury. The best athletes in the world take very long recovery times before turning from that injury; some of them never make it back to their previous levels of achievement.

Kim underwent surgery on the Achilles tendon in mid-2012, with a prognosis that he would be out for 9-12 months - a full year. He had to spend the first four months of that time with his foot immobilized in a boot.

So even if Kim's recovery went according to plan, he was going to miss nearly all the 2013 PGA Tour season. But that's only looking at the physical side of things; what about the golf side? Because in addition to the physical rehab, Kim went an extended period of time without being able to practice or play golf. Even if he recovered on schedule from the Achilles injury, his game likely wouldn't be ready for more than a year.

And that's where we are now. It's been more than a year since Anthony Kim was seen on the PGA Tour, and all that most people remember is that he left the tour in 2012 to rest an achy thumb.

There have been some Kim sightings on various California beaches; he's surfing, so his Achilles must be feeling OK; he's grown his hair long.

There is no public indication from Kim or anyone around him that he's given up golf. He got through the physical recovery; now he has to achieve a recovery of his golf game.

The earliest we could possibly see Kim now back on tour is in October at the start of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, but it could also be a much longer absence.

Update: Obviously, the longer Kim goes unseen, the greater the possibility becomes that we'll never seen him again on the PGA Tour. Are we there yet? No: Early in 2014, representatives with IMG, Kim's management company, indicated that he is still working toward a comeback. What causes increasing speculation that Kim will never return to the PGA Tour, though, is not so much that he hasn't yet gotten back, but rather that he's been completely invisible during his long absence. If you have any updates to share, please do so in comments.

April 28, 2014: John Hawkins of Golf Channel has an update on Kim's status, and Kim fans won't be encouraged by it. Hawkins quotes Kim's agent, Clarke Jones, saying this: "I'm hopeful it will be in 2014. Anything other than that is a guess, and I don't like to guess. He's a marvelous talent, but it has been a long time. There’s no denying that."

Hawkins continued:

I’ve known Jones for much longer; he’s as straight-up a man as anyone in his occupation can possibly be. I sensed his reluctance to answer questions regarding Kim. Not because he’s hiding anything, but because there are no answers, no timetable, nothing to report.

... In search of something resembling context, I asked Jones if Kim was playing any golf, even recreationally.

“No.”

Doesn’t sound like much of a comeback, if you ask me. “He’s not living under a bridge, he’s not living in a box,” Jones added. “I’m going to go see him [in Texas] in a few weeks, and at that point, I’ll get a better definition of where he stands.”

Sept. 17, 2014: The Sept. 22, 2014 issue of Sports Illustrated includes an article about Kim by Alan Shipnuck. Shipnuck quotes several people who've run into Kim at golf courses, such as Phil Mickelson, and who confirm that he is, in fact, playing golf.

But the article's bombshell is an assertion by an anonymous "friend" of Kim's that Kim's absence from golf is about a disability insurance policy that could pay off around $15 million if Kim fails to return to Tour within a given time frame (the time frame would, of course, be specified in the insurance policy, but is not specified in the Shipnuck article). Read the article

Oct. 1, 2015 - An article in USA Today included Kim's first public comments in a couple years. He called golf "a distant memory" and rated his physical health a 6 out of 10. But he didn't rule out returning to the tour life at some point.

Follow GSB on Twitter | Like GSB on Facebook

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Rickie Fowler as 'Dick Fowler, P.I.'

Here are some new videos Rickie Fowler has done with Farmers Insurance, in a 1970s/1980s TV detective show style. Episode 1 is titled Backswing Sting:

Episode 2 is Divot Dummy:

Rickie likes turning somersaults. But he hates bad etiquette on the golf course. (Strangely, though, he doesn't mind blowing up greens ...)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Arnold Palmer Gives Kate Upton a Golf Lesson

What's Arnold Palmer up to these days? He's giving lessons to Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue icon Kate Upton. Kate herself tells us so on Twitter:

Kate posted another photo earlier in the year when she was attending the Arnold Palmer Invitationals:

Yes, it's good to be the King.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Headlines That Sound Dirty But Aren't

Here's the headline from PGATour.com's update about Tiger Woods finishing second at The Barclays:

You know, back in the old days when Tiger "spasmed," he usually finished first.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

At Home With Charley Hull

Did Charley Hull just become an international superstar? The 17-year-old captain's pick for Team Europe in the Solheim Cup waxed Paula Creamer in singles, 5 and 4. And then asked Creamer to autograph a golf ball for her.

Here's a video clip of Charley shot by Sky Sports a couple weeks prior to the Solheim Cup. Judging by the wallpaper in her bedroom, Charley might require the help of an interior decorator when she grows up and buys her mansion. But everything else about her is fit.

Earlier post:
Meet Charley Hull, the sexy Brit who's busting out

Dustin Johnson, Paulina Gretzky Get Engaged

Dustin Johnson spilled the beans on Twitter: He and hottie Paulina Gretzky (daughter of The Great One) are no longer boyfriend-girlfriend, they are fiance-fiancee. And the key question that everyone wants to know is: Did he go to Jared?

It was only back in January that Dustin and Paulina came out as a couple. But who needs a long engagement when you're dating Paulina Gretzky? Put a ring on it! And Dustin just did.

Congratulations, and best wishes, to both.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sexiest Golfers on Social Media

The website Guyism.com is released its choices for the 50 hottest female athletes on social media. And, because you are a golf fan who appreciates how many hotties there are on the LPGA, LET, Korea and Japan tours, Futures Tour and elsewhere in women's golf today, you'll be entirely unsurprised to know that multiple golfers made the list.

To save you a little time, we've broken out the golfers from Guyism's list. Here they are, with the number before each name representing her place on the Guyism list:

50. Sharmila Nicollet (Twitter / Instagram: @missnicollet)

48. Paula Creamer (Twitter / Instagram: @paulacreamer1)

42. Maria Verchenova (Facebook)

37. Nicole Hage (Twitter / Instagram: @nicolehage)

36. Blair O'Neal (Twitter / Instagram: @blaironealgolf)

4. Meghan Hardin (Twitter / Instagram: @meghanahardin)

So who do you think Guyism overlooked? You can only nominate additions if you know their social media handles.

Follow GSB on Twitter | Like GSB on Facebook

Jack Nicklaus' Own Rules Controversy (Or: The Time an Official Quit Mid-Match After Arguing with the Bear)

Look hard enough and you can find rules controversies involving every legend of golf. Controversies today are blown all out of proportion by the 24/7 media (and blogging) environment. Past stars of the game, though, are remembered through gauzy filters of legend, lore and memory.

But even Mr. Sportsmanship himself, Jack Nicklaus, was once involved in a rules blow-up that was so nasty the rules official walking with Nicklaus' group quit in the middle of the round.

The site was the Piccadilly World Match Play Championship at Wentworth, the year was 1966. Nicklaus was very early in his career, but he was already a legend in the making.

The Bear was playing in the championship match against Gary Player, a heavyweight matchup indeed. It was a 36-hole final that Player would eventually win 6 and 4. But in the morning session, Nicklaus and Player reached the ninth hole with Nicklaus 1-down.

Nicklaus hooked his drive into a ditch. Under a stroke penalty, Nicklaus was allowed to drop outside the ditch. However, the area in which he dropped was nasty and gnarly, too, and Nicklaus' dropped ball settled into a terrible lie.

But when Nicklaus stood over the ball and looked toward the hole, he noticed a Piccadilly Cigarettes advertising sign about 50 or 60 yards ahead. No sources say just how big the sign was, whether it was quite large or something smaller. The billboard was not, however, impeding Nicklaus' ball flight - it wasn't in the way of the shot. It was, however, in his vision.

Nicklaus called over the rules official and asked for another drop, this time a free drop, for line-of-sight relief.

This is where we have to acknowledge that the sources don't agree on the exact chain of events - even the real-time newspaper accounts differed on some of the details. Plus, rules at the time were far more malleable and open to interpretation by rules officials and tournament and club officials; local rules at different tournament stops were much wider in content and intent. So it's simply impossible to say, looking back from this distance, who was in the right, Nicklaus or the rules official.

But the rules official told Nicklaus no, you can't have a free drop for line-of-sight relief.

Who was the rules official? He was Col. Anthony Arthur Duncan, OBE - Tony Duncan, as he was commonly called - a legend in Welsh golf at the time.

Duncan, according to one account, stood behind Nicklaus' ball and determined that the sign didn't interfere with Nicklaus' line of sight, that it was slightly to one side of Nicklaus' line - that it was not directly between Nicklaus' ball and the pin. (While one of the other sources states that the sign actually blocked Nicklaus' view of the green!)

Other sources state that the crux of the dispute was an interpretation of a local rule in effect that week in which all temporary structures were treated as immovable objects.

What Duncan's ruling boiled down to is this: He though the line-of-sight argument was strained beyond the point of credulity, and that Nicklaus only brought it up because his lie was so bad. Duncan thought Nicklaus was trying to pull a fast one, in other words, to improve his lie.

From Nicklaus' point of view, the rules said what the rules said, and if there was line-of-sight interference, which Nicklaus adamantly claimed there was, that should have been the end of it: free drop.

But Duncan just didn't see the alleged interference the way Nicklaus did, and he ruled no drop. Nicklaus tried to hack the ball out of the rough, then conceded the hole to Player.

But he was fuming over the ruling. Various accounts say the atmosphere during the argument between Nicklaus and Duncan, and in the ruling's aftermath, was nasty.

They continued to argue over the ruling until, on the next tee, an exasperated Duncan asked Nicklaus if he would prefer a new official. One account says that Nicklaus simply replied, "Yes." Another says that Nicklaus' reply was, "I'd like one who knows the rules."

So Duncan quit. "The atmosphere between myself and Nicklaus was such that I could not continue as referee," Duncan told reporters at the time. Some sources says fans on-site thought Nicklaus to be "rude" or "bellicose."

Was Tony Duncan a hard-ass about the rules? An angry man abusing his position as match referee to boss around the young hotshot?

Definitely not. British golf legend and Hall of Famer Sir Henry Cotton thought Duncan's call correct, and called him "as fair, as knowledgeable and as experienced" a referee as could be found.

And we know, beyond any doubt, that Duncan was willing to consider "the spirit of the rules" to overlook a by-the-book violation when the circumstances warranted, because he'd famously done just that years earlier.

Duncan was the captain of the Great Britain & Ireland side at the 1953 Walker Cup. In one of the matches, American team member James Jackson discovered he had too many clubs in his bag.

Under the rules at that time, Jackson should have been disqualified, forfeiting the match. Duncan thought that unfair, and contrary to the spirit of the Walker Cup. So he made a captain's decision: "Britannia waives the rules." (That was a play on the old saw about the British Navy: "Britannia rules the waves." Whether Duncan actually said it, or whether it was just later ascribed to him, is another of those things on which source materials disagree.)

Instead, the teams agreed that Jackson would be penalized with the loss of two holes. (And, in fact, today that is the rule - carrying too many clubs causes loss of hole in match play, up to a maximum of two holes lost.) The irony, of course, is that agreeing to waive the rules is a violation of the rules!

So Duncan was a man who was willing to consider circumstances, sportsmanship, the nature of the competition, the letter of the law and the "spirit of the game," and take all that into account in making his ruling.

Was Nicklaus right or Duncan right? It's impossible to say now, since, as noted, the source materials often differ in the details.

In his 1980 encyclopedia The Who's Who of Golf, Peter Alliss wrote that "a present judgment might be that Duncan was following the spirit of the rules, Nicklaus the letter."

There is one thing that we can say with certainty: Had such an incident, involving an angry dispute between a young hotshot and a veteran, respected rules official, in a big tournament, happened today, it would be dissected over and over and over again on Golf Channel, in golf publications, by bloggers. Fans would pore over clips of the argument on YouTube and battle one another in comment sections of websites. The legends of the game never had to deal this type of media environment, and the possible effects it can have one one's reputation.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

PGA Tour Bans Caddie Races

The PGA Tour says no more caddie races at tour events. Caddie races are probably most associated with the Phoenix Open, but they actually started at Colonial. They've shown up at a couple other tournaments in recent years: caddies racing each other to reach the green on a par-3 hole after all the players in the group have teed off.

Andy Padzer, the tour's executive vice president and chief of operations, explained to Golf Channel: "We have advised the folks at Colonial and out in Phoenix to discontinue the caddie races. It was a situation where we developed a little concern about caddies’ safety. Running 150 yards puts caddies at risk for injury. I had caddies come to me in Phoenix and at Colonial saying, 'This is ridiculous, it's like we are a carnival show.' "

That implies that caddie complaints about the practice are what spurred the PGA Tour to take a look at the practice. But any caddie who doesn't want to run doesn't have to run. Still, maybe the fear of litigation really does justify cracking down on caddie races. Maybe they really are inappropriate during a golf tournament. After all, they don't earn the PGA Tour any money, they just entertain fans, and money always trumps fans.

Never seen a caddie race? Here's a video:

OK, watching that video, maybe it's players who complained and asked the tour to look at caddie races. As Peter Jacobsen says in the clip, "Hope he didn't break a club."

A couple more:

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Golf-fu? Golfjitsu? Tae Kwon Driver?

Just call it a kung-fu golf shot. That's the title of the video that's making the rounds - this golfer has a way of hitting his driver that is as unique as Happy Gilmore's:

And cooler than Happy Gilmore's, methinks.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Inside Rory McIlroy's House

Back when Rory McIlroy bought his Florida house, I posted some photos of the exterior and lot and suggested that it wasn't all that impressive.

Rory, I aplogize. Your house is beautiful and wonderful - on the inside. Here's a tour:

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Golf Course Drunks, Rejoice! And Then Blow Into the Golfalyzer

For many, golf and booze go hand in hand. Golfers are probably evenly split between those who play because they really love the game, and those who play because they love spending a few hours with buddies drinking beer and ogling beer cart babes. (Of course, you can love the game AND ogle babes!)

Every golf course has its drunks and, frankly, they are damn annoying. Often stupid. And sometimes dangerous. Those guys are probably too dumb to care whether they are in any kind of shape to drive a golf cart - much less, to drive home after the round.

But social drinkers who play golf might be interested in a gadget called the Golfalyzer. It's a Breathalyzer clone aimed at golfers - blow into it, and it will tell you your blood alcohol level. Want to monitor your level throughout a round to make sure you're not crossing the line? After downing a few more in the clubhouse after the round, want to check your level before getting behind the wheel of a car?

Here's a video, and the guy in it looks like a guy who might need to check his blood alcohol level:

Just remember: Don't drink and drive. The Golfalyzer might tell you you're "legal" to drive home, but any drinking before driving compromises your safety and that of others on the road. Be smart.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Jennifer Johnson Misses Solheim Team, Doesn't Like It, and then Christina Kim Butts In

Here is what Jennifer Johnson, who has one win on the LPGA in 2013, was ninth on the Solheim Cup points list entering the Women's British Open, and is ranked No. 54 in the world, tweeted after finding out she was passed over for a captain's pick for the Solheim Cup:

No one who fails to automatically qualify "deserves" to be picked, and while I think Johnson has a good case that she should have been picked, I can't argue too much with the ones who actually were picked (Gerina Piller and Michelle Wie - but all the "controversy" is around Wie).

But after Johnson posted the tweet above, Christina Kim butted in (as she often does) and got into conversations/arguments with other commenters, and was, well, quite patronizing to Johnson. Click on the date beneath Johnson's tweet to read Kim's comments and others.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Don't Blame Networks for Scant LPGA Broadcasts

I've noticed quite a bit of chatter on Twitter this morning and yesterday complaining about the TV coverage of the Women's British Open. Specifically, that the first two days of ESPN's coverage was "only" three hours long. Obviously, men's majors are given much longer coverage. Three hours seems to be the maximum for an LPGA tournament, even majors.

And also, this morning ESPN aired a re-run of last night's NFL Live and the network's golf broadcast began an hour later. Rather than starting at the same time, going one hour later, and providing an extra hour of coverage, ESPN chose to go one hour later but also start one hour later, inserting a re-run ahead of the WBO.

So the network is getting bashed on Twitter for not treating a women's major the same as it would a men's major, for not helping women's golf to grow and attract new fans.

Hey, I wish every LPGA tournament got six hours of coverage a day on a major network. But ESPN doesn't deserve any criticism for its broadcast schedule at the WBO, nor does any other TV network deserve criticism for the way it broadcasts LPGA.

TV networks aren't charities. It's not their responsibility to subsidize the LPGA or women's golf. That's getting it backwards. It's the tour's job grow the LPGA and widen the appeal of women's golf.

It's the network's job to put programming on the air that will attract advertisers willing to pay high enough fees to make that broadcast profitable for the network. Period.

Unfortunately, that leads to some pretty awful stuff winding up on TV - monster and ghost shows on the History Channel, for example (is there a more mis-named network on the air today than the History Channel?) - and some pretty good stuff either not being broadcast at all, or getting less airtime that its fans believe it deserves.

So if ESPN believes a re-run of NFL Live will be more-watched than the Women's British Open in that timeslot, will be more appealing to advertisers; or if the Golf Channel thinks a re-run of a PGA Tour tournament (or a teaching show) will get higher ratings than live LPGA tournaments; it's because that's what their market research tells them. They are protecting the bottom line, not doing charity work.

If you're mad about the poor TV coverage that women's golf generally receives, then go out and talk to your golf buddies and to your friends and co-workers and convince them that they need to get interested in the LPGA. Convince them that women's golf and LPGA golfers are worth getting interested in. Go out and convert some naysayers, go out and recruit new fans. That's what the LPGA needs. Not rote whining directed at the networks.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Auction of Sam Snead Memorabilia Tops $1 Million

The family of Sam Snead is auctioning off some of his memorabilia in a series of sales conducted by Heritage Auctions over the next year. The first auctions took place Aug. 1-2, 2013, in conjuction with the National Sports Collector's Convention in Rosemont, Ill.

And those first 14 lots, collectively, sold for $1,106,868.

You'll understand why when you hear what some of those items were. A Claret Jug, for example. The Masters Trophy. The Wanamaker Trophy (not the originals, obviously, but the copies given to Snead for him to keep after those victories). Snead's three major championship trophies plus a Ryder Cup trophy were the "big four" in the first round of auctions. Here's what they went for:
  • Claret Jug presented to Snead for winning the 1946 British Open: $262,900
  • Masters Trophy presented to Snead for winning the 1954 Masters: $191,200
  • Ryder Cup trophy presented to Snead as captain of the American 1959 Ryder Cup team: $179,250
  • Wanamaker Trophy presented to Snead for winning the 1951 PGA Championship: $119,500

The other 10 items sold in this initial phase were:
  • 1939 Masters runner-up silver medal: $23,900
  • 1942 PGA Championship winner's gold medal: $50,787.50
  • 1947 U.S. Open runner-up silver medal: $26,290
  • 1949 Masters winner's gold medal: $50,787.50
  • Plaque presented to Snead by Augusta National for his three Masters wins: $38,837.50
  • Putter Snead used in winning 1954 Masters: $41,825
  • 1969 Ryder Cup captain's jacket: $31,070
  • Golf Hall of Fame plaque given to Snead at his induction in 1974: $26,290
  • 1998 PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award: $23,900
  • Tournament-used Snead golf bag autographed by Masters champions: $40,331.25

Meet the Fairway Darlings

I don't know who the Fairway Darlings are, but I do know that they are a) hot; b) and I'd like to play golf - or anything else - with them:

OK, actually, I do know who the Fairway Darlings are. Or rather, is. Fairway Darlings is the name of a pro-am that takes place in Las Vegas every year. It's an invitational, you have to sign up on the website to receive an invitation. The multi-day event includes golf (with a rotating bevy of golfing beauties) plus after-golf parties and dinners.

If you follow women's golf (or watch The Big Break), you'll probably recognize quite a few of the "Fairway Darlings" in the video above. For example, Sara Brown, Mallory Blackwelder, Anna Grzebian, Meghan Hardin. I can think of worse ways to spend three days and $3,500.