December 22, 2008

Information, please. A Q&A To Greet The New Year

As we leave 2008 and prepare for 2009, I STAND before you to pose a few questions … whoa! Did somebody just throw a shoe at me?

What will President Obama do for golf?

According to Golf Digest, he will be the eighth best golfer to inhabit the White House. Basketball, he's also got some game, but he probably won't be building any more bowling alleys there. During a campaign stop, Obama rolled a 37. Not bad for nine holes, not good for 10 frames.

What about President Obama and the Olympics?

That's different. Obama's home is Chicago, which is bidding for the 2016 Summer Games. A decision is due in October, and Obama's support of Chicago could be significant. Golf also seeks inclusion in 2016, but His Excellency, Ty Juan Antonio Votaw, says, "Our sport is not unique to the United States, so he would not factor in whether golf is accepted. However, Mr. Obama could have a positive influence about how our country is viewed around the world."

Does golf belong in the Olympics?

We'll know soon. Again, Votaw cites how this year's Beijing Games nurtured a certain enlightenment by the Chinese government concerning freedom of expression. Then again, it was revealed China had a "watch list" for visiting athletes, including four female softball players and a wheelchair racer. Very threatening.

Would Tiger Woods play in the Olympics?

I asked him that, and he gave me the eye roll. "That's a long way off," he said. "It would be great for golf, but I'll be, what, 40? Do you know where you'll be in eight years?" Don't think I want the answer to that question.

‘ football gets more publicity for not having a playoff than the PGA Tour gets for having one.'

Isn't Obama on record for a playoff fix?

He was talking about college football, not the FedEx Cup. Makes you wonder: College football gets more publicity for not having a playoff than the PGA Tour gets for having one.

Speaking of which, why isn't the FedEx Cup as dramatic as NASCAR's post-season?

Wait a minute. Jimmie Johnson won the Sprint Cup by finishing 15th in his last race. All he had to do was show up and avoid crashing into a wall, same as Vijay Singh. Really thrilling stuff.

So, in these trying times, you think golf is fine?

One thing hasn't changed. There are bad teams in baseball, football, basketball and hockey. There is one sport in which the talent pool gets deeper every year. Golf is the toughest league in sports, and if takes three tries to make the playoffs work, so be it. Did you catch TV ratings for the World Series? Miniscule, and that tournament started in 1903. No post-season format is perfect. If it were, there would have been a World Series in 1904. But there wasn't, because baseball was tweaking, and there wasn't one in 1994, because baseball was arguing.

How will we remember Annika Sorenstam?

Not the way she bowed out, by submitting to a drug test from the LPGA. If drug tests are random, why can't there also be random acts of common sense?

Will the economy turn around?

Good question, not to be answered by the Fed, which recently discovered the recession began a year ago. This just in: The Fed predicts a bright future for Tiger Woods.

What will Paul Azinger do in 2009?

He has pondered heading up a union of sorts, prompting one golfer to remark, "looks like Zinger wants to be Jimmy Hoffa, and we all know what happened to him." We do?

Besides the obvious choices, who was golfer of the year?

At tour qualifying school, J.P. Hayes turned himself in after using a non-conforming ball. Hayes was perplexed by all the attention he received for being honest. "This is what golf is about," said Hayes, whose ethics could leave him few places to play. He'll never make it on Wall Street.

Who was runner-up?

Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys' quarterback and a celebrity participant in Golf Digest's U.S. Open Challenge last June at Torrey Pines, recently treated a homeless man to a movie. Romo's first suggestion was that they go to a soccer game together, but the stranger declined. (The sportswriter's name was withheld, out of respect for his privacy.)