Tuesday, July 31, 2012

King of the Clown Question

The nearly 30-minute presser took place around 5:30, during a broadcast of the Sports Reporters. And as Reader@CBJinDC pointed out, whether intentionally or unintentionally, Steve Czaban audibly interjected at least twice, complaining of clown questions.

“Robert, serious question here,” WUSA’s Dave Owens said at one point. “Have you upgraded from the Chrysler Pacifica yet, now that you’ve got the contract?”

“THAT’S A CLOWN QUESTION BRO!” Czaban thundered.

“Well, unfortunately my dad sold my Chrysler Pacifica, so I don’t have my college car any more,” Griffin answered. “But I do have a Nissan Armada and an Audi A8, so I didn’t have to spend any money on those. It’s definitely a good deal to have two free cars.”

“Did you have to sing the fight song yet?” another reporter asked later on. (I didn’t recognize the voice.)

“CLOWN QUESTION BRO,” Czaban muttered.

“I have not, other than the pep rally after I got drafted,” Griffin answered.

I kind of like the idea of an ever-present Steve Czaban Voice of God, at every press conference in town, there to judge whether reporters are asking appropriate and/or clown questions.

Thanks to Dan Steinberg for the pub. For the record, YES, I did INTENTIONALLY leave my mic up during the presser and MEANT to overlay the "clown question" taunts on the absurdly silly things being asked.

Now, mind you, I am the KING of the "Clown Question." I have asked them all. Silly questions. Obvious questions. Embarrassing questions.

I once asked Darrell Green whether they had a chance to watch any film on the defending NFL champion St. Louis Rams.

It was the FIRST DAY of training camp. They weren't going to play them until Week 12.


I have asked more than one athlete about a family member who was deceased.

I'm no better than anyone else. But, now that Bryce Harper has introduced the "Clown Question" concept into the sports bloodstream, I'll be happy to be that impartial arbiter of what IS, or is NOT, a "clown" question.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Bloody Horns 2012 - FINAL RESULTS

Neil Sackerson and Josh Sparks win the 2012 Bloody Horns Open by 3 shots, with a 4-under Captain's choice round at The Bull at Pinehurst Farms. Well played, gents!
The 18th hole at The Bull at Pinehurst Farms is an absolute beast.

About the only thing the hole cuts you a break on, is a football field wide, diagonal fairway. It is hard to miss, but also presents an interesting question off the tee: "how much do you want to try to cut off, big boy?" The further left you challenge, the more water you must carry. The further right you bail, the more blind your uphill approach becomes.

Luckily for me and my partner Eric Gitter - the former radio station intern (Class of 1995) of mine from back in the One On One Sports days, now turned pro at Currie Park GC in Milwaukee - we had two balls in the fairway. My 250 yard safety ball, and Eric's 270 yard bomb a bit further left.

With a green that is narrow, angled away from you, and guarded by a country marsh in front, and an impossibly steep hillside behind, you don't want to have more than an 8-iron in your hand.

But at 485 yards from the tips, we were looking at 207 to the pin.

For me and my wheezy groin, that meant hybrid.

I thought: "Just hit a little cutter off the right edge of the big barn in the distance, and let it gently curl up on the safe front left part of the green."

With the two-man scramble format, I told Gitter that "par lives all over that front left part" of the green.

We were 1-under at the moment, having started on hole #1. Our partners were the defending champs, Bill Dawson and Dennis Flipse. A couple of local boys who can really play golf. Last year, they shot 66 with a double bogey! They were just even par after an afternoon of missed opportunities.

The electronic cart scoring system wasn't working that day for whatever reason (software and technology that has glitches. Wow. Who knew?) so we had only heard through the grapevine that the other strong teams were fading, and fading fast. Surely, -1 was gonna get it done this year, I thought.

So I lined up that last approach shot with a few nerve soothing Captain' n' Diets dulling my "choke" senses, and laced into it.

Low and behold, the stinging hybrid took off right at the edge of the barn, and began peeling back to the right as I had instructed it to in my brain. The kind of shot you hit every now and then in golf that makes you put up with this game's unending humiliations.

Only when we arrived at the green, did we see with amazement that Flipse's 5-wood from the light rough, further back, and totally on the blind and unforgiving angle to the right of the fairway, had somehow clawed to a stop on the green on the RIGHT of the tucked back pin. They had a 20 footer for birdie to tie.

Sonofabitch. Locals.

I lagged up our 40 footer to about 3 feet. Gitter had his on-line and in the throat before it ran out of gas at the 6 inch line.

Par. Well done.

Of course, however, there was still the defending champs' last punch. I knew we might be in big trouble when Dawson stepped up to his putt ahead of Flipse. Hmmm. "This isn't their standard batting order," I thought.

Sure enough, Dawson drilled that sucker, and finished it with a Tiger-like air punch. Well played, champs. Well played.

So driving up to the clubhouse, I was starting to get a little queasy in my stomach, and it wasn't because of the Captains' or the brat at the turn. This was going to be a playoff! Even though Gitter and I are not eligible for our own grand prize of two-nights hotel in Vegas and two-rounds of golf out there during next March's "CzabeVegas 2013", you can bet your sweet ass we wanted to win!

And no doubt, with all the scorecards in, there would be PEOPLE WATCHING during the playoff. Talk about choke-a-geddon!? Oh gawd, what have we done?

The course was in great shape Sunday, especially given the nearly 4 inches of rain they finally got this week after a summer of scorched earth conditions. Course owner Dave Bachman Jr. must have poured motor oil in the superintendant's cereal, because the pin positions were not just "tucked" they were on just about every single spine, ridge, and humpback on the course!

But hey, that's what I wanted. The bloodiest test of golf at 7,314 yards we could deliver. And the course did just that.

So imagine my surprise then, when we rolled into the cart staging area and started asking around about scores. After most pairings just laughed and shook their heads ("we were a million over") I was pretty sure our -1 tie was going to stand.

Then, two lean and mean punks whom I hadn't remembered from last year's inaugural event said: "Oh, that's good. We were 4-under."

Bastards. Really?

Fucking, how, exactly?

Well, turns out they are two good dudes, who can really flat out play golf. Family men too. With kids. Impressive. Good show, champs!

Now, they face their hardest test. Telling their wives: "Honey? Can I go to Vegas in March and play golf with Czabe and gamble on the NCAA tournament? PLEASE? We have a free room for two nights and two free rounds?"

Friday, July 27, 2012

Gone Golfin...

This was last year's festivities. Let's hope the Mighty 20th Edition of the event lives up to the impossible expectations! And of course, thanks to everyone who helped donate to a great cause, the MAAC Fund of Greater Milwaukee.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Paula Creamer IS, The Pink Panther!

Paula, Paula, Paula.

Mmm... mmm... mmmmmm!

Those 176 views of this feature? Yep. All mine.


But back off, because she belongs to me!!!!!!!!!!!!

Czabe vs. Nogueira

I am pretty sure this was 2002, because we staged this little bit of nonsense right around the World Cup. As I recall, my point on the whole matter, was that the penalty kick was too damn easy for real soccer players.

Good clean fun, and yes, I failed in my boast. 4 of 10, is not 5 of 10.

Now, for a little bit of the back story.

1. The crowd was huge. People were ditching their cars on the side of the road and running up to the range, just to catch a look. Amazing.

2. Because I was totally not used to kicking a ball, I completely FUCKED UP my ankle within hours after this was over. I mean, it was TRASHED. For whatever reason that year, I was put up by the station in a hotel room down by the airport. Usually, I crash with Mr. Nelson, but for some reason, I was on my own.

By the time I got back to my crummy little room, the ankle and shin was just SCREAMING in pain.

I hoped that lying down, and resting would help it simmer down. Nope.
I hoped that taking a warm bath, would help it stop the torture. Nope.

Now, it's about midnight, and I have NO CHANCE of sleeping because of the pain.

I decide to attempt a "limp down" to the lobby, in hopes of scoring some aspirin, as I had none in my bag.

I made it to halfway to the ice machine, and turned back. I almost had to crawl.

Finally, I just picked up the phone and called the front desk for an airstrike. I need several Tylenol, a bag of ice and 2 bottles of water.

Thankfully, the hotel delivered. And I managed to fall asleep at about 3 a.m.

Go ahead, call me a pussy. I've heard worse. But let that be a lesson kids. Just kicking a ball - and I presume, kicking it WRONGLY - can really tear the piss out of your ligaments.

Given a re-match with more training and proper soccer cleats, I like my chances.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Oh... the HUMANITY!

How did Curt Schilling lose $50M of his hard earned baseball fortune - basically all of it?

A: By trying to turn that into a BILLION dollars en route to being the Bill Gates of video games. This story about the demise of Curt's ill-fated 38 Studios is a real forehead slapping head-melter. Not saying Curt's a "bad guy" per se, but geezuz, what a MORON. No sense of how throwing a baseball really, REALLY hard, is just that: an ability to throw a baseball really hard. It does not make you an especially gifted "man of success" or a sudden post-retirement "titan of industry."
Everything at 38 Studios was not, however, perfect. It quickly became apparent that Schilling was new not just to video-game development, but to the basic concept of working in an office. 
In December 2009 — months before Rhode Island signed on to the $75 million deal — Harvard Business School published a case study about the company titled “Curt Schilling’s Next Pitch.” 
Brett Close, who joined 38 Studios as president in 2007 and soon after became its first CEO, put Schilling’s inexperience into perspective for the study’s authors, Noam Wasserman, Jeffrey Bussgang, and Rachel Gordon. 
“He really needed Company 101,” Close told them. “For example, the whole concept of vacation was foreign to Curt. He actually said, ‘People get weekends off, right?’” Schilling at one point suggested that people work 14 straight days and then take five days off. It jibed with his baseball experience.
That was just ONE key chunk of the lengthy piece. It is more than worth your 15 minutes to read it all. Sadly for most pro athletes, it doesn't matter HOW you do it, but eventually the story ends with... "... and he lost all of his money."

Monday, July 23, 2012

Penn State Pity Party

Like teenagers who have been told they aren't going to the prom.

Boo hoo.

Put on your big boy pants, WeAre Nation, and gear up for Indiana and Northwestern - they are your best shot at wins for a while.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Get Ready For The NCAA To Get All Fake-Ass "Tough Guy" on Penn State

Soooo, this should be amusing.

Monday morning, at 9 a.m., the NCAA bell will toll for Penn State football. And of course, you know one thing is a lock: The Ohio Bobcats will still run out of that Beaver Stadium tunnel on September 1st.

"Unprecedented" sanctions, say the reports?

Oooohhhh. Can't wait, as Bart Scott would say.

Matt Hayes of the Sporting News, absolutely NAILS the way I feel about the NCAA and how they do business these days.

Excuse me if I can't get excited about an organization that saw Ohio State players accept cash in envelopes after coach Jim Tressel's lies and illegal benefits for players were exposed, but said lack of institutional control wasn't an issue.

If I can't get excited about an organization that knew Cecil Newton was shopping his son, Cam, to Mississippi State — yet let him continue to play at Auburn (and eventually win a national championship) — because it had no rule prohibiting parents from shopping their offspring to the highest bidder.

If I can't get excited about an organization that knows street agent Willie Lyles was paid $25,000 by Oregon for useless recruiting information; that knows Lyles was the "mentor" for five-star recruit Lache Seastrunk; that knows Oregon coach Chip Kelly lied when asked by a newspaper if he knew Lyles (Kelly later said, we call him 'Will'); that knows Kelly told Lyles he needed more recruiting information from Lyles after the fact, yet we're more than a year into the Oregon investigation with no end in sight.

If I can't get excited about an organization that looked at quite possibly the worst case of NCAA infractions in the history of the sport at North Carolina — in its depth and breadth of clear, indisputable illegal benefits and academic fraud issues — and decided it wasn't as destructive as a Southern Cal assistant coach who the NCAA claimed "knew or should have known" Reggie Bush was getting illegal benefits.

What happened at Penn State is the single greatest tragedy in sports history. Whatever penalties the university receives from the NCAA — whether or not the sport's governing body and Penn State agreed on them — isn't the point. If it were up to me, I'd shut down the program for the exact number of years the university hid the child abuse.

But this isn't about the penalties; it's about NCAA process.

You should read the whole piece by Hayes, because he acutely points out how this "wing it" approach by Emmert and the NCAA is going to come back and bite them on the ass, big time.

And guess what?

Penn State will likely be back after these sanctions, before you realize it. At which time, the conclusion will be obvious: the crime was worth the punishment. Just ask any other big time college football program.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Peter Aliss Rains Down Brutal Honesty

"Well, welcome back to a few crazy people here at Lytham. This is our summer, although you wouldn't think so. You might be in Alaska on a wet Sunday. But they're enjoying it, believe it or not. We're a funny, masochistic lot, getting more and more overweight as the years go by, with all the sitting in front of the television and playing with the whatever they play with. Some of the kids will stay sleeping... Son, one day you'll be overweight and out of work... like 90% of the world these days..."

Tirico: (laughing): "You're a classic..."

Friday, July 20, 2012

Snicky du Jour: Kristen Wiig

Finally saw "Bridesmaids" at the urging of, well, many of you people.

Thank you. Good stuff.

Especially, Ms. Wiig, who is much more smokin' hot than I ever really realized. 

Being damn funny, is just "icing on the gravy" (or is it gravy on the icing?") as Brian Nelson likes to say.

So enjoy this pics, while I provide for you one of the many classic exchanges in the film.

Lillian: You remember my cousin, Rita.

Annie: Rita!

Rita: [hugs Annie] Annie, I haven't seen you since you graduated high school.

Lillian: She has three kids now.

Rita: Three boys.

Lillian: They're so cute.

Rita: They are cute, but when they reach that age, ugh. Disgusting. They smell, they're sticky, they say things that are horrible, and there is semen all over everything. Disgusting. I cracked a BLANKET in half. Do you get where I'm going with this?

Annie: I do, yeah.

Rita: [gesturing] I cracked it in HALF.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Yeah, Sure. What Could Go Wrong?

The fun thing about doing a Google Image search, is that you never know what the ol' internet fish net is going to drag up.

 For example, I just wanted a picture of... "Bull goes man"... and what do I get but... WHOA! FLAMING BULL HORNS on the loose!

 "Man gored to death." "Tradition of lighting horns on fire shall continue." "Black ribbons as condolence to his famil."


Now, let me use this as a segue to remind ya'll that there are just about 4 or 5 team spots left in the second annual Bloody Horns Open at The Bull.

We're talking Sunday July 29, at 10:00.
 Format: 2-man scramble. (Max score: 7)
Tees: Every bloody inch of this monster!
Winners: 2 nights lodging, 2 rounds of golf at CzabeVegas 2013.

We've got prizes for 2-5th place (game used pin flag). Long drive prizes courtesy of Cover 5. (More on them soon!) Everybody gets a cooler bag with chilled libations for a Vodka-RedBull, and a Captain n' Diet. Banquet BBQ grub afterward, and you can give me all the crap you want in person for torturing

Plus, a sweet-ass logo Bloody Horns hat!

All for the STILL LESS THEN RETAIL rate of $125 per player. (Normal rate at the Bull is $135 per player!) So here you go.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Zombies: Run For Your Lives...! Sorta....

Once upon a time, I thought about running a marathon. Then I realized, I don't even run one mile without stopping, so who's kidding who?
Well, now I have my cause!

Zombie Racing.

Obstacle-course races and zombie-themed events—from proms to marches to film festivals—have been spreading across the country like a flesh-eating bacteria. Now, a series of races called "Run For Your Lives" are bringing the two together.

(Source: Run For Your Lives)Runners wade through pools of fake blood, duck under electrified wires and try to avoid letting zombies steal their "health flags" worn on a belt around the waist. A runner with no flags left is ruled dead—or is it undead?—and isn't eligible for awards at the end of the five-kilometer race. Crossing the finish line alive is no small feat: Only about 20% of racers make it with at least one of their three flags left.

The most amazing part of the story, is that the zombie race organizing company, is flat out RAKING IT IN! Somehow, they get the runners to pay $87 each, and the zombies to pay $25 each, just to be a part of it.

And other than some fake blood, flag football belts, a rented 70 acre plot and some cheap prizes, their costs have to be almost zilch.

Oh, and insurance. Lots and lots of insurance.

Because it's all fun and games, until a guy playing a zombie, chases some 24 year old receptionist into a vertebrae snapping tree limb.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Let's Save Future Robbie Cano's From This "Horror"

"Into each life some rain must fall."
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

File this under the ongoing pussification of American sports.

Bud Selig is "concerned" about how Robbie Cano got booed by the hometown Royals fans for not selecting hometown slugger Billy Butler for the HR derby. As such, he's considering ANOTHER new "rule" in which a hometown player MUST be in the derby, so as to avoid these millionaire ballplayers the horror of hearing 10 minutes of mild public displeasure.

As Longfellow said: "Put on a helmet, daisy. Life is rough."

If you missed it, here's Deadspin's take, with a great cut-up of every single one of Cano's NON-home runs.

Dude took a freaking BAGEL in the contest, and was booed straight out of the chalk box. Fabulous.

It's the best boo-job since "Booooooo, Ben Konop!"

Why Erin Andrews Does Not Move The Needle

Erin Andrews makes her debut on Fox Sports tonight for the MLB All-Star Game.

What can I say? I'm a fan.

Super talented? No. Brilliant? Hardly. A bit of a publicity schemer to advance her career? Sure.

It won't make me watch any MORE baseball, or football come this fall, but if we are still going to have largely irrelevant sideline reporters, then please make mine tall and blonde.

My friend Skip Oliva, however, makes the case on Saturdays Down South, that television talent moves and hirings like this one, are almost entirely tailored to the so-called "professional market" - not the fans.
The continued presence of attractive sideline reporters like Andrews is not based on any proof of increased viewership. Rather, it’s a reflection of the sports media’s introverted culture, one that actually separates it from the consumer market it purports to serve. When we talk about sports, we’re really talking about these two distinct markets—the consumer and the professional.

The professional market produces content for its own consumption. That’s become even more apparent since 2009 with the proliferation of staged debate programs featuring know-nothing pundits like Skip Bayless. The objective is to generate controversy that in turn increases mentions on social media, which reaffirms the social status of the network as an important arbiter of “public” opinion. None of this serves the sports consumer; it’s all for the benefit of other sports media outlets.

Yet ESPN and other broadcasters continue to cram more and more of these analysts into the picture. This, again, is about the distinction between the professional and consumer markets. The professional market sees a big set with half a dozen ex-players and coaches as a sign of how “important” the pre-game show is. It’s programming executives justifying their budgets to themselves.
Good points, Skip. Now, here's more eyeball watering digital jpg's of Ms. Andrews in all her glory. Mmmmm. Internet....

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Face The Bull, Take The Horns!

Spots are rapidly filling up, so this week is probably your last chance.

If you wanted to see some pics from last year's event, and see what it might take to WIN the whole thang, well then, here's your website!


Flushing Our Brains Down the Wormhole

This is not good. Not good, at all.

If our connected world can make SMART people crack up, what is it doing to people about as smart as Khloe Kardashian?

Here's a money paragraph. The rest is just plain depressing....
Questions about the Internet’s deleterious effects on the mind are at least as old as hyperlinks. But even among Web skeptics, the idea that a new technology might influence how we think and feel—let alone contribute to a great American crack-up—was considered silly and naive, like waving a cane at electric light or blaming the television for kids these days. Instead, the Internet was seen as just another medium, a delivery system, not a diabolical machine. It made people happier and more productive. And where was the proof otherwise? 
Now, however, the proof is starting to pile up. The first good, peer-reviewed research is emerging, and the picture is much gloomier than the trumpet blasts of Web utopians have allowed. The current incarnation of the Internet—portable, social, accelerated, and all-pervasive—may be making us not just dumber or lonelier but more depressed and anxious, prone to obsessive-compulsive and attention-deficit disorders, even outright psychotic. Our digitized minds can scan like those of drug addicts, and normal people are breaking down in sad and seemingly new ways.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Home Run Derby Rules: Let's Make It MORE Complicated

I will enjoy watching the Home Run Derby tonite. Yes, even with Berman. You see, this is the ONE time Berman is actually IN HIS ELEMENT!

When you have a carnival barker of minimal talent, this is exactly the kind of event Berman is perfect for. If you complain, well, that's like saying: "Mmmm. This cotton candy seems undercooked."

Okay, so here I am, locked and loaded and.... WHERE ARE THE DAMN RULES!?

Finally, after much searching, MLB.com "comes to the rescue."

A rules refresher, for those in need: 
Each player will get 10 "outs" -- or, any swing that doesn't result in a home run -- per round, with the top four homer hitters moving on to the second round and the players with the two top combined totals for rounds one and two advancing to the finals. 
And once again, the sluggers involved in the Derby will not only inspire some "oohs" and "aahs" from the audience but also go to bat for several worthy causes. 
Following the format introduced a year ago, the Derby will be a charity competition between the AL and NL. Each team's captain has selected a charity, with $150,000 going to the winning team's charity and $100,000 going to the Boys & Girls Club of America (BGCA) in the name of the winning captain. The losing team's charity will receive $25,000. All remaining charity money generated by the event will go to BGCA on behalf of State Farm and MLB. 
When a player gets to nine outs, the "Gold Ball" will be put in play. For each Gold Ball home run, State Farm and MLB will donate $18,000 to designated charities. State Farm will also donate an additional $3,000 for every non-Gold Ball home run hit throughout the Derby. 
Last year, the Derby raised $603,000 for various charities. 
This event has also become social media savvy, with social media stations set up on both sides of the field so that players can log into their Twitter accounts and upload photo and video shot on their mobile phones. The hashtag #HRDerby will once again be heavily employed.
REACT: Oohhhhhhkahhhhyyyyy. Clear as mud. Sorta. Just tell me who is in the final two. And advise the fans in the stands not to risk falling off the railing to their death just because somebody hit a spray painted gold baseball.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Bloody Horns Open 2

It's baaaack!

Jump on it kids, because spots are filling up fast!

See ya'll at The Bull!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Snicky du Jour: Jamie Lynn Sigler

If you thought Ms. Sigler was not a smokeshow anymore, you're wrong. Dead wrong.

I mean, crikey.

Just look at her.

/closes office door.

Talk About "Premature" Climax!







  video platform

  video management

  video solutions

  video player

A good fireworks show, not unlike another certain exciting activity, has a proper length.

15 to 20 minutes.

Too long, and it starts to become rather mundane.

Too short, and it leaves you aching for more.

But 15 seconds?


That's like Andy Samberg's epic opus: "Ji**ed In My Pants."

Monday, July 2, 2012

Czabe v. Furyk II - TPC Potomac

Jim Furyk, with Steve Czaban and ESPN980 contest winners Dick and Rick McClure.
Sometimes, my life is just absurd.

Absurdly lucky, of course.

A year ago following the US Open at Congressional, I had what I thought was a "chance of a lifetime" to play a full round of golf with 2003 US Open winner and 2010 FedEx Cup Winner Jim Furyk.

For free.
At a PGA Tour caliber facility.
With a $240 bottle of Johnny Walker Blue, thrown in just to sweeten the deal.

He was in to help his sponsor fulfill a nice little "special clients" outing of about 40 guys, with two lucky stiffs who won our radio contest, getting to join me in our foursome with Furyk.

So how did that go?

I shot 77 on my own ball, and crushed Jim 7&6 in our friendly little match.

And yeah, we're gonna forget the fact he played the tips, and I played the golds. And yeah, as an 8 handicap, and with Jim being a Tour pro +4, I was getting 12 shots.

Forget all that.

I shot 77 on my own ball, as an 8 handicap.

Boom. Roasted.

So anyhoo.... with that awesome experience to take to my grave, I was approached by our radio station ESPN 980 to REPEAT the whole thing, because well, Diageo and Jim and TPC Potomac liked the event so much, they said "how about same time this year, after the AT&T National."

Like I said. My life is ridiculous.

Well, here's what I have to report from this year's round.

I did NOT shoot 77 again.

Nope. A herky-jerky, good hole-good hole - DISASTER - good hole round of 87.

Worse yet, Jim announced on #18 he "just wanted to make his 20-footer for birdie to see me sweat" over my 3 footer for par, that would have let me win the match, 1up.

Sure enough, his putt motored into the hole as calmly and easily as you pulling your car into your garage.

My 3-footer was a weak push that didn't even catch the lip.

Still, the experience was awesome, despite the underwear melting heat, and amazing constellations of bugs which inhabit TPC Potomac's low-lying swampy-streamlands in early July.
A massive, double-trunked oak at TPC Potomac which got slayed in the storm.
Jim is such a regular guy, and such a pro's pro, if you ever meet him, you'll be an instant fan.

So anyway, a few things from the US Open. (Yeah, I dove right in, after giving him one hole out of respect to not bring up bad memories. Aren't I such a sport?)

1. The USGA claimed they told all players to play practice rounds from "every set of tees" on each hole, because you never know what tees they might use on a given day. Then, on Sunday, they used the up tee on #16, some 99 yards in front of the way-back tee, and pushed tight to the left side of the hole. SURPRISE! Ha ha! To which I call bullshit, because that was tantamount to putting the pros on the red tees on that hole. Jim said even though he hit an un-disputedly bad shot, he and Fluff just had to guess as to both their line and distance. It obviously threw Jim off-kilter mentally.

2. They were not technically "on the clock" down the stretch, and were not even "officially warned." Jim said the rules official said "please, if you could...." and Jim asked "so you are BEGGING us, right?" The rules official said yes, we're begging. Jim said had he been put on the clock in the final few holes, he would have said: "Fine, you do what you need to do, and ignored them." I said well why did McDowell RUN up the 18th hole? Very odd. Most players don't like to get out of their smooth, even paced rhythm by RUNNING, especially at that moment. I thought it was a speed of play thing, Jim said Grahame must have just been excited.

3. Jim said he really likes McDowell. Very genuine. Very good to be around. This made me happy. I have a man crush on McDowell.

4. Jim said the 4-iron approach to #17 was the right club, but the ball didn't jump and carry like he thought it would from the right side of the fringe cut of fairway where he was. Then Jim went into a detailed discussion about how his new Calloway irons have different grooves than his old Srixon irons, and they spin the ball differently, and he still hasn't got read on those distances because he changed clubs less than a year ago, and blah, blah blah. It amazes me how Tour pros will go to any length rather than just say: "Yeah, hit the wrong club."

5. We talked about long putters. He said the PGA Tour has approached the players advisory panel, and hinted that they were prepared to make some sort of clarification, or recommendation on them before the calendar year is out. Nobody knows what the TOUR is thinking, and what they might do, or advise, or suggest. But heads up, something's coming. I told Jim how I tried the ol' belly putter this past fall. Fell in love. Swore it was the holy grail. Started missing putts again. Now it's in the closet, soon to be on e-bay. Jim too, tried it at the end of last season, and has gone back to putting with a "normal" putter, cross handed like he's always done. I said I would have no problem if the Tour, or the ruling bodies effectively banned them, because hey, they make the rules. We just need to adjust. Plus, they can always rescind the ban. That said, I think the long/belly putter is a fad, and will subside over time. Jim claims he knows 70 year olds at his home club, who "couldn't play the game" without them. I said: bullshit. "They CAN'T PLAY THE GAME, without a long/belly putter? C'mon!" Jim said their hands shake too much, and without them, they would three putt every green. I was skeptical. I don't think a 70 year old who can still get a golf ball airborne and produce a solid dump the morning would ever WALK AWAY from golf, just because he had to putt with a regular putter. Jim, however, was pretty adamant. This issue is not going to just go away.

The newly revamped TPC Potomac is absolutely sensational from a visual and conditioning standpoint.

It is also hard as hell.

The revamped TPC Potomac, 2nd hole. Lovely, but lethal.
There are deep and contoured bunkers guarding every corner of most greens. More deep and oddly angled bunkers crimp your line and play tricks with your head off of the tee. There is water/stream/swamp in play on 11 holes, with several holes (#4, 6, 10 and 11) having the swampy creek area hug an entire side of the driving area, making those misses tantamount to a lost ball.

The greens are firm, lively, and full of humps, pockets, and ridges.

From the back tees, where Jim played, it is 7,124 yards, to a Par-70, which makes it a very heavy load in relation to par.

Jim is admittedly "average" on Tour in terms of length (his driver carry is 'only' about 270 yards) so you might think TPC Potomac would stretch him out pretty good.

Well, so much for that.

First of all, there is something amazing about actually PLAYING with a TOUR pro, more than just WATCHING them from close range, yet outside the ropes. The balls they hit are absolute rocket-ships, and they compress and fly with a "pfft!" and a "whizzzz" that even your best golfing buddy who is a "scratch" can't duplicate.

Furyk's driver just screamed into the distance like fighter jet at low altitude. And when he wanted to move it one way or another, it didn't so much as curve like yours or mine, it more or less yawed. On one hole, #8, Jim is his customary 50-60 yards behind us on the tips, when he launches and then starts urging his ball loudly to "stay left, stay left."

I look up in time to see the ball make a routine landing in the middle of the narrow 15 yard neck of the fairway between two bunkers, a cool 285 yards away. "Gee, Jim, you kinda micromanged that one just a bit, didn't ya?"

That drew a laugh.

I had to explain that when ME and MY BUDDIES shout "stay left", our immediate focus is on the right TREE LINE, and we go from there.

That's why they do what they do for a $10 million prize at the end of the year, and we subscribe to Golf Digest.

So anyway, Jim is there without his trusted caddy Mike "Fluff" Cowan. He's got a moron radio guy talking his EAR OFF about all kinds of things, starting good-natured devils-advocate golf arguments, and mixing in a dollop or two of smart-assery. He's graciously engaging our other two members of our group about their job and family.

We're riding a cart. We're playing out of turn. He is taking just a cursory glance at every putt he rolls.

After about 5 holes, you just stop saying the usual "great shot, Jim" because, well, they are all fucking great shots. They are shots so common in their awesome-ness to us mortals, that you start to wonder: "Wow. What WOULD a truly great shot from Furyk look like? Would angels break into song in the sweltering heavens above? Would a live rainbow unicorn come galloping across the fairway?


We get to the back nine, and we are winding up our round. I honestly haven't looked at our scorecard, or our match to this point, because hell, who cares? He's playing at least 700 yards more golf course than I am, and I'm getting 12 shots.

After Jim rope-a-doped me with the "I just wanna make this to see him sweat" episode I described to begin this post, we plopped back into our cart and Jim put the final official touches on my 87.

He then calmly tallies his back-nine 32, which coupled with a sorta-fucking-around front nine of 35, adds up to a ho-hum 67.

Sixty. Seven.

A sixty-fucking-seven on a course like this, just jackanaping around, NOT EVEN TRYING.

It just hit home with a thud when I saw that 67 get etched into the final little square at the end of his scorecard line.

These guys aren't just "good" as the Tour's tagline reads. They are un-real.