Does Score Matter?

Threatening the 80s at the Honda.

The PGA Tour spends most of the year beating up golf courses. You have to push it into the teens to win a lot of events, sometimes even deeper, and there are times like last week when you have to shoot 3 or 4 under just to make the cut.  In recent years, though, the Tour has gotten a harsh reality check about the value of par when the Florida swing kicks in.  The addition of PGA National and Innisbrook to the spring season have put two of the PGA’s toughest tracks almost back-t0-back.  Couple that with Arnold Palmer always trying to make Bay Hill a little more challenging, and the pristine conditions and 64s of  Arizona are quickly forgotten.

Looking at the scoreboard early today, only 16 of the first wave of players are under par, and the leader as I type this is only 3-under.  It’s a pretty safe bet that no one will hit double digits under par this week, and if they do, they’ll probably win quite comfortably.  It’s a different style of golf than what they were playing on the West Coast.  It’s more defensive, more of a grind.  The PGA Tour at one point got to a place where there wasn’t much variation.  The US Open guarded par, but other than that, it was 30-some birdie binges a year.  In recent years, it seems like the Tour is concerned with getting back on quality venues, and challenging the boys a little more often.

The question is, would you rather see a tournament won at 5-under or 15-under?  Do you want to see someone scraping for pars down the stretch, or do you want to see someone birdie the last three holes to win?  I think there is a long-standing belief that more birdies equal more excitement.  A tournament like last week, a close finish with plenty of scoring opportunities down the stretch is usually a good formula for an excitement and interest.  On the other hand, there are people who enjoy watching the pros struggle from time to time.  I’ll include myself in this category.  When the weather turned at the Match Play a couple weeks back, and Sergio hit a shank, and then Paul Casey chunked a 5-iron about 100 yards short of a green, I’ll admit I was fairly amused.  Watching guys struggle is a novelty, but I don’t necessarily want to watch people fold down the stretch.  If they are challenged by hard holes, that is one thing, but I don’t think buckling provides much drama.

I think the final answer for me, my personal preference, is that I don’t really care about the number the guys are shooting, I just want a big name/exciting finish.  Par is just a relative number after all, and I firmly believe you don’t need birdies for great finishes.  The next few weeks in Florida, we’ll see if I can be proven right.

Ran Into A Guy.

Gotta Stay On Top of the Suit Game.

So, you all know me.  Always like to keep things fresh.  And, it is awards season, so I end up stumbling into Boyd’s downtown to pick up a new suit.  I’d like to officially deny the rumor that I needed a new one because my winter physique had blown out the armpit seams on my old one.  My old one, you ask.  Yes, a true baller finds the one suit that fits all occasions, and then tries to avoid those occasions at all costs.  But, much like the dessert pizza at the Pizza Hut buffet, some things cannot be avoided.  So, I went to Boyd’s.  You’ll never believe who I saw.

Now, I walk into Boyd’s, and its like blood in the water.  They smell a big sale, but this is a classy joint so they can’t jump me right away.  I was definitely throwing off a vibe, though.  I was wearing my dress denim, which are actually just my regular jeans the day after I wash them once a month, but regardless they were looking crisp.  I wandered around the shoe section a little bit, gave a Gucci loafer the eyeball, and finally a sales guy approached me.  I could tell he wasn’t their closer by the size of his tie-knot, but what’s a guy to do?  You get who you get.  I wasn’t going to let him off easy.

Sales Mutt:  Can I help you, sir?

ME:  I doubt it, but I need a new suit.  And I know this is swanky place, but I only have ten of these to spend, so don’t think you’re going to fleece me.

(At this point I pull a twenty dollar bill out of my pocket, grab it by both ends and pull it tight, right in front of his eyes.  We hear the telltale pop of cold hard cash.)

The kid gets a look on his face like he just chugged a Keystone Light, and is about to point me in the direction of Men’s Wearhouse when I cut him off.

ME:  I’m just messin’ with you slap nut, I’m about to make it rain Hickey Freeman.

Twenty minutes later I’m sliding into a finely made suit designed to be worn by someone in far better shape than me, but I won’t know exactly how I look until I emerge from behind the curtain, and glance at myself in the mirror.  I feel like I’m looking good, and I’m mildly amused by the fact that I’m already sweating into the dress shirt they gave me to try on underneath my new purchase.  I burst out from behind the curtain with the required flair, but stop dead in my tracks.  Who is standing before the mirror, a team of minion tailors attending to his every need?  Villanova coach, Jay Wright.

Me:  God dang, who’s this tall drink of water?

(Jay can see me in the mirror, and he looks horrified, but then he realizes that yes, I am kind of hitting on him, but only in a joking way.)

Me:  Sorry, I just always wanted to say that.  Jay Wright, what are you doing here?  I always thought your clothes were made by Santa’s elves, or at least a team of silk breathing angels.  This is quite an honor.

(Jay flashes his freakishly toothy grin, and seems to relax a little bit)

Jay:  I’ve been coming here for years.  Tommy always takes care of me.

(Jay nods toward a tiny man fiddling with the cuff of his jacket.  Tommy mumbles something, and goes back to work).

Me:  I see that.  They gave me the kid with training wheels.  I’m going to drop him off at Joe Bank on the way home.  He’s not ready for the big leagues.

Jay: That’s where my assistants shop.

Me:  I can tell.

(I leave Jay alone for a second, and take a look at myself in the mirror.  I’m not quite sure I’m feeling the ensemble.  I look modestly in Jay’s direction for an opinion.)

Me:  What do you think?

Jay: I’d lose 20 pounds.

Me:  Jay, whoa.  Come on, we’re bonding here.  I know it doesn’t look it, but I was a 3-sport intramural star at a D-III college.  That’s about on par with your illustrious career at Bucknell.  This is an athlete’s body.

Jay: It looks like you swallowed the athlete’s body.

Me: W0w, you’re kind of a dick, huh?  Are you upset?  Did I interrupt Tommy’s ball-cupping session?  And, by the way, that tie is hideous.  You look like Michael Irvin.  Why don’t you get out of here and go recruit another guard.

(Jay’s about to fire back for a second, but thinks better of it.)

Jay:  I think I like you.

Me:  I know I like you, you arrogant bastard, come here.

(I shove Tommy out of the way, and lock up Jay in a  real back-slapper.  I try to muss his hair, but it’s impenetrable.)

Jay:  I’m sorry about what I said earlier.  You look pretty sharp.  I used to wear Hickey Freeman before my last extension.

Me:  What’s that you got on now?

Jay:  You wouldn’t have heard of it.

(We both bust up laughing at this, and I turn to Slap Nut who’s just been standing there the whole time taking cell phone pics of himself the mirror, trying to make it look like he’s standing next to Jay)

Me:  Go scare us up a bottle of scotch, mullet.  I need to have a drink with this sumbitch.

(While the lackey scurries off, I return to street clothes, and I’m in such a jovial mood that I decide to buy the shirt I pit-stained.  I pop back out from behind the curtain, and there’s Slap Nut pouring some sweet nectar over some ice, and Jay has already transformed into look #2).

Me:  So Jay, are you gonna go with the pin-stripe, or the pin-stripe?

Jay:  I’m getting ‘em all baby, it’s March Madness.

Me:  Touche.

(I pick up the two glasses of scotch, and hand one to Jay who seems a little distracted with Tommy fiddling around with his inseam.  He takes the glass, and we both take nice reflective sips.)

Me: So, Jay, tell me about these Villanova girls….