Crying Times All of a sudden there seems to be a whole lot of griping going on in pro golf circles

March 23, 2004

These days the Odyssey 2-Ball is the hot putter on the PGA Tour,
but perhaps it should be renamed the 2-Bawl. Starting with Tiger
Woods's sob about illegal drivers last July, running right through
Hecklergate--Davis Love III's boo-hoo about a member of the gallery
at the recent Accenture Match Play--and concluding with Craig
Parry's "I'm-telling-Mom" weep to the Tour that Johnny Miller
ridiculed his swing two weeks ago at Doral, the whining and crying
on Tour has reached critical mass. So much so that someone should
consider bringing Tom Hanks to a Tour locker room to reprise his
famous "there's no crying in baseball" speech from A League of
Their Own: In the movie at least, the girls got the message.

Not that all this bellyaching is new to golf. Look at last week's
headlines, in which Ken Venturi decanted his vintage whine about
Arnold Palmer's questionable drop at the 1958 Masters, and you'll
understand that what keeps the fairways so green is a steady flow
of tears. The worst part about Venturi's cry is that he's trying to
sell books by impugning Palmer, while at the same time attempting
to spare the King's rep by hairsplitting the difference between
breaking a rule and cheating. That Venturi still doesn't have the
stones to step on Palmer's toes tells you why he three-putted three
of the last six greens to lose that green jacket.

The current crabfest got started in earnest at last year's U.S.
Open when Tiger, out of contention in his second straight major and
dropping fast on the average-driving-distance list, popped off
about illegal drivers on Tour. "Everyone should be tested, period,
1st tee," said Mr. No. 1. Two weeks later, at the Western Open, he
complained even louder, completing what we'll unofficially call a
two-pout bogey.

Since then both Paul Azinger and Jack Nicklaus have griped about
choosing their playing partners at a pro-am, then backed out of
their respective events. The West Coast swing was rife with
blubbering about course conditions, a favorite topic. The course
was too long. The greens were too hard, the greens were too bumpy,
the rough too high, the crowd too rowdy.

Then came the Match Play, where Love had his
I'm-taking-my-clubs-and-leaving moment after a heckler got in his
head. With the offending Woods supporter removed, Love was free to
turn his full attention to blowing the match.

Then there's Parry, who holed out for eagle on the first hole of a
playoff to win $900,000 and almost immediately kvetched, "Johnny
Miller probably said I swing like a 15-handicapper." When he found
out that, as he predicted, Miller had dissed his swing--"It would
make Ben Hogan puke," Miller said--he ran straight to the
commissioner. Why? He's a golfer, and golfers like to complain. In
fact, last week, Mirasol's Sunrise course inspired so much grousing
that Brad Faxon could only opine, "Whenever there's something new,
it's always roundly criticized."

Other than the public's weariness of it, there's no real downside
to this trail of tears, except this: If the players do all the
whining, crying and carrying on, what's left for us journalists?

COLOR PHOTO: STEVE GRAYSON/WIREIMAGE.COM (WOODS) SOB STORIES Woods, Love, Venturi and Parry (clockwise from top left) have led the whining. COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER (LOVE) [See caption above] COLOR PHOTO: ROBERTO BOREA/AP (VENTURI) [See caption above] COLOR PHOTO: DOUG MURRAY/ICON SMI (PARRY) [See caption above]

Trust Me

The Sunrise course at Mirasol, new home of the Honda Classic, will
evolve into one of the top venues on Tour because it can't be
overpowered and it requires creative shot making.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)