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Grouchy Golf Blog

Tuesday, April 19, 2005 at 10:09 AM

Them's Fightin' Words...

Fights seem to be a common occurrence in sports these days. Players vs. players, fans vs. fans, fans vs. players, parents of players vs. parents of other players, players vs. their spouses, Ron Artest vs. everyone; the list goes on and on. We see it in hockey, soccer, baseball, football, basketball; the list goes on and on.

Golf has managed to avoid such pugilistic tendencies. However, there have been recent events that suggest a fight in golf may be just around the corner.

At this year's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Vijay's pal Tom Pernice Jr. took a verbal jab at Tiger's selective playing schedule. Pernice said, "I personally like what Vijay is doing out here, playing 30 or 31 events. We have 43 title sponsors, but Tiger thinks we have 18. Right now, Vijay is doing more for the PGA Tour than anybody."

Like an annoying little gnat, Pernice continued to pester Tiger at the Bay Hill Invitational. This time around, Pernice asked the PGA Tour office to test Tiger's driver because he thought that the club head may be illegal. In baseball, this would be the equivalent of some major league bench warmer asking MLB to test Barry Bonds for steroid use. Can you imagine what Mr. Bonds would do to this guy?

In the April 8, 2005 issue of GolfWorld magazine, John Hawkins penned "Tiger's Teacher," an interesting article on the relationship between Tiger and his coach, . But the most interesting tidbit chronicled in Hawkins' article had nothing to do with Tiger and Hank's relationship, it had to do with that of Hank and Jim McLean's. Quite surprisingly, Hank claimed that Mclean is "...the biggest a------ I've ever met in my life, and that's not off the record." We can only guess what word Hank said, but I doubt that it was "axelrod." Now anyone who receives the Golf Channel is familiar with Mr. McLean. This guy is like the Mr. Rodgers of golf. It doesn't seem that he could harm a gnat, and I mean a real one, not Tom Pernice Jr. It's almost unfathomable that McLean could ever incite the anger and hatred that spawned Hank's comment. Maybe McLean's pleasant and wholesome TV persona is just a front to conceal his true personality.

This leads us to the most recent incident, vs. . During the first round of this year's Masters, Singh complained to rules officials that Phil was leaving overly large spike marks in the greens. On the 13th hole, two officials approached Phil at two different times to inspect his spikes. An infuriated Phil confronted Vijay in the locker room. What was really said or done will probably remain a secret since Phil shifted immediately into damage-control mode to preserve his pleasant and wholesome image. Interestingly, this incident comes about a month after the airing of an episode of HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" where Vijay asked, "Is that the true Phil? Is that the true person? I don't know." Well, it seems that Vijay is intent on revealing the true Phil. Whether this will eventually result in fisticuffs, we can only hope.

So it seems that there have been a number of verbal spars in professional golf recently. But only verbal. A physical fight in professional golf is still about as likely as seeing Gary McCord on a broadcast. Surely, you'll never hear, "I went to a hockey game and a golf tournament broke out."

Blogger Dr. Bloor said...

Haney may think McLean's an axelrod because the latter did an article for Golf Magazine or Golf Digest or some such mag a while back essentially trashing Tiger's swing--this was some time after Tiger started working with Haney.  

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Blogger Jam Boy said...

Maybe this is just wishful thinking, but I don't really see a fight breaking out on the PGA Tour. I mean, you do have a few good points in there. The harsh words are starting. And I love Phil, but there is another side to him. I don't think it's a secret how much he gambles. It's rumored that he's always in and out of debt. But the PGA Tour is a place where you get fined for throwing your ball into the crowd while CELEBRATING. These guys are conditioned to exercise restraint whenever possible, because if they were to completely let themselves go, they would certainly lose all of their composure and start screwing up hole after hole after hole. Golf is also the only sport that normally (perhaps with player's like Tiger there's an exception) doesn't pay any kind of appearance fee. So if you don't make it to the weekend, you're not getting any money. These guys (most of them anyway) can't afford to risk a big fine or lose their card because of a stupid fight. They have all worked too hard to long to see their dreams of playing on the PGA Tour squashed. I think if there were to be a fight, it would be an enraged fan running onto the course and a player defending himself. Crowds can be rough these days.  

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Blogger Bogey McDuff said...

A golf pro buddy of mine used to work with Jim McLean. He thinks very highly of him, but he also says that McLean is one strange dude. Lots of personality quirks and oddities. Maybe my buddy and Hank saw the same behavior, but just reacted differently to it. -- Bogey McDuff, http://texasgolf.blogspot.com  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jam boy was only partly right about appearance fees. They are a common occurance everywhere in the world EXCEPT on the U.S. PGA Tour and major championships. However, it is usually only the top players that get them because they would bring extra spectators. So next time you see Tiger, Els, Singh, Mickelson or Goosen playing in Europe, Asia or bumf*ck, you'll know why.  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

tom pernice should be grateful for Tiger. Tiger has probably doubled the purses on tour. If he does not want to play the Tour Championship, he should not have to. pernice should just go suck up to vj some more. Thank goodness for Tiger.  

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Anonymous Cal said...

Jamboy - Tiger gets paid 3 or 4 million US$ in appearance to play in NZ and Asia - possibly even Dubai.

No one in Australia will pony up that sort of money, so we haven't seen him here for a decade or so.  

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