Tag:honda friday
Posted on: March 4, 2011 6:32 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2011 8:31 am

Father of golf broadcasting dies at 84

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- In broadcast circles, Frank Chirkinian was a trailblazer, a rulemaker and groundbreaker.

It's not every day that a television producer-director gets enshrined in a professional sports pantheon, but Chirkinian will receive that rare honor this May at the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Fla.

It will be a posthumous induction.

Chirkinian, the unquestioned godfather of golf broadcasting, died after a long battle with cancer Friday in North Palm Beach, Fla. He was 84.

Only 5-foot-5, Chirkinian was a nonetheless titan in his field and revolutionized sports broadcasting, especially in golf circles. He truly invented the sports as a broadcast entity at CBS Sports, directed a total 38 of Masters Tournaments, plus college football, NFL games and too many other big events to name. He won four Emmys.

Chirkinian was first hired to direct the CBS coverage of the 1958 PGA Championship near his home in Philadelphia. Chirkinian set up six massive cameras on the four closing holes, including one placed in an oak tree, while legendary broadcaster Jim McKay climbed onto the clubhouse roof near the 18th green.

Imagine covering a mobile sport played over hundreds of acres in spotty lighting with stationary cameras -- the mobile handheld units used today were not invented for several more years.

Because CBS didn't have anybody in Manhattan that knew the first thing about televising golf, they hired the Chirkinian and the game would never be the same again.

"They threw a lasso over me and sent me to New York," he said last year.

Though Chirkinian ruled with the brusque discipline of a four-star general, rope burns were comparatively few based on the length of his tenure. In 39 memorable years of barking into headsets and pushing buttons, he invented a broadcast template that to this day remains largely intact.

Thanks to Chirkinian, CBS was the first to use high-angle cameras positioned in blimps and trees. He used roving reporters on the ground, put microphones in tee boxes and in 1960 first listed scoreboard totals of the players relative to par.

He worked with a series of broadcasting icons, especially in golf, including Pat Summerall, Vin Scully, Ken Venturi and Jim Nantz. He broached no foolishness and screamed at stars and young broadcaster alike, earning him the nickname "Ayatollah," a tag he came to enjoy.

"At first he scared the crap out of me when he yelled," CBS analyst Peter Kostis said. "Then I found out beneath all that was a lovable teddy bear. I will miss him."

In his later years, Chirkinian bought a private golf course in West Palm Beach called Emerald Dunes and played nearly every day with his fellow members until his recent illness.

He handed over the reins to one of his assistants, Lance Barrow, in 1996.

"The success of any entity, corporation or company has to do with continuity of management and that was our strength -- and it still is," Chirkinian said last year.

Chirkinian was added to the Hall of Fame roster this spring, but sadly, he didn't make it to the ceremony. His acceptance speech -- the guy never pulled a punch of cared a lick about political correctness -- would have been unbelievable.

Category: Golf
Posted on: March 4, 2011 6:05 pm

Rory roars into weekend with late salvage effort

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Rory McIlroy probably isn't going to win the Honda Classic. But at least he isn't going home early.

One stroke outside the Honda Classic's projected cutline after a bogey on the 13th hole Friday, the Northern Irishman played the last five holes in 2 under and finished with a 1-over 71, which means's he'll play on the weekend after all.

The projected line was fluctuating, but after the bogey on the 13th, McIlroy was on the wrong side of the redline. Fighting to make the cut is a little like battling for a tournament title, though not exactly. It's a different type of stress.

"It's certainl;y different," said McIlroy, ranked No. 8 in the world. "To play the last five holes in 2 under was a good effort. I have played well this week, I just haven't been scoring."

The closing holes at PGA National represent one of the toughest stretches on the PGA Tour, so he definitely picked the right time to rally. McIlroy hasn't had much luck on the greens.

"I feel like I have played pretty well," said the 21-year-old, who is 4 over and 10 shots off the lead. "I'm pretty happy with the way I am hitting it."
Category: Golf
Posted on: March 4, 2011 3:09 pm

Weir bottoms out in final extra event, loses card

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- The greatest player in Canadian history has lost his card on the PGA Tour, sadly, in truly forgettable fashion.

Mike Weir, an icon north of the border for all the right reasons, skidded home with an 85 on Friday at the Honda Classic, at the worst possible time.

Weir, 40, made double bogeys at each of PGA National's so-called Bear Trap holes to finish with the worst score of his career. His previous high was an 84 at the Players Championship 10 years ago, and this was hardly the week for more bad news, since the tournament represented a tour deadline regarding his playing status.

Weir, who had elbow surgery last fall after struggling for much of 2010, was playing this season on a medical extension and had five starts to earn $228,000, or he faced losing his fully exempt status for the rest of the year. Weir, a true professional in every regard, didn't come close and the Honda was his last at-bat.

With his missed cut Friday, he failed to play on the weekend in four of his five starts and earned only $10,778 in the alotted span.

Going forward, the good news is that the former Masters champion, an eight-time winner in PGA Tour play, is expected to receive a liberal number of sponsor exemptions based on his popularity. 
Category: Golf
Posted on: March 4, 2011 2:40 pm

Fowler's cash dash finally comes to an end

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- One of the more impressive streaks for a young player on the PGA Tour ended Friday in blustery South Florida.

Rickie Fowler, the reigning PGA Tour rookie of the year, missed the cut by a good margin after rounds of 76 and 72 at the Honda Classic, ending a feeding frenzy at the money trough for the flashy American.

Fowler, one of the heroes of the Ryder Cup team last fall, had finished in the money in 15 straight starts, although the tour only counts 13 of them, the eighth-longest active streak on tour. It began in the middle of the 2010 season. He'd made the cut in all four starts this year.

Then again, the credibility of the informatrion can certainly be called into question. The PGA Tour website lists Lee Westwood as having the second-longest streak of made cuts (20 in succession) and Andrew Coltart as being tied with Fowler.

Neither is a PGA Tour member. Lovely.
Category: Golf
Posted on: March 4, 2011 2:11 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 3:29 pm

Kuchar back in familiar form -- in the Honda hunt

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Let's just toss it out there on the table and be done with it.

Matt Kuchar has played in five tournaments this season. He has finished seventh or better in four of them, including a third-place finish last week at the Accenture Match Play Championship.

After signing his card following two rounds of the Honda Classic, he was back in the top five and set to contend on yet another weekend. He is the reigning PGA Tour money-list champion, played on the Ryder Cup team, won a FedEx Cup series event last fall and won the prestigious Vardon Trophy.

So with Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk having done next to nothing for months, is Kuchar the best American player in the game?

Outside of Bubba Watson, who has won twice in the past year and lost a major in a playoff, it's hard to present much of a case for anybody else. Kuchar, the 2002 Honda champion, was his typically solid self on Friday, finishing with a 1-under 69 that left him four strokes behind early leader Rory Sabbatini.

He has 18 top-10s in his last 34 starts.

"Yeah, I've played really well for two days," said Kuchar, a Florida native. "This probably has to be one of the hardest courses on tour, and throw in a 20-  to 30-mile-an-hour wind, it becomes really hard.

"I think if you keep it anywhere around par, you're doing well."

Kuchar said playing a tough course can't hurt his chances when the major-championship season rolls around.

"Guys prepare all sorts of different ways," he said. "You don't see Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson here, but I think any time you can play a difficult course, it helps."

Category: Golf
Posted on: March 4, 2011 1:52 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 1:53 pm

Rory doesn't blow lid, scorches Honda with 64

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- No, it's not an homage to the Great White Shark.

It's a tip of the cap to the blazing sun above. Rory Sabbatini had a cancerous melanoma removed from his left sideburn area last year and decided to use a wide-brimmed model similar to the lid worn for years by South Florida icon Greg Norman.

Style had nothing to do with the quotable South African's headware. This was about coverage, pure and simple.

"I had a piece of my face cut out," he said.

Sabbatini was forced to handle an entirely different weather element in the second round of the Honda Classic, when he navigated 30 mph winds to make an improbable seven birdies in a 6-under 64 that might rank as the best round of the year as he moved into the early Friday lead.

A slew of players have already posted scores of 62 this season, but not under the conditions the field has faced this week at PGA National, where scores have soared and tournament records are being threatened. Sabbatini's total represented the low score of the tournament by three strokes. Adjusted for the skyrocketing scoring average of the field, it's 8.5 shots under par.

There are still two guys named Rory playing out here after all.

"He's got an amazing short game," playing partner Rob Allenby said. "Probably the best shortgame out here. He has such great hands."

An overstatement, perhaps, but Allenby had just watched Sabbatini use a total of nine putts on the back nine, so standing up and applauding was a natural thing to do. Sabbatini, who attended college in the States and has been utterly Americanized to the point where few think of him as an international player anymore, grew up playing the game at a course in Durban, located about a mile from the ocean.

In other words, where onshore winds were an everyday occurrence, just like this week.

"I tell you what, I will sit here and enjoy it," he said. "I'm done for the day."

In one blistering stretch, Sabbatini mustered five birdies in seven holes, which is more than some guys have managed over their whole 36-hole week. This despite, on the same nine, he hit a 5-iron and 9-iron from the same 165-yard distance, because of the difference in wind direction at the time.

Sabbbatini was asked whether he thought 5 under would be good enough to win. Allenby predicted 2- or 3-under might be enough to hoist the trophy, given the windy forecasts.

"I would take even par for the next two days for sure," Sabbatini said.
Category: Golf
Posted on: March 4, 2011 12:07 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 12:09 pm

Price, 54, proves he's no 'chop' compared to boys

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Nick Price, one of the most engaging golfers of the past two decades, walked off his final green on Friday at the Honda Classic and saw a cluster of scribes huddled near the PGA Tour scoring trailer.

He had just two-putted from 91 feet for par on the last hole, ensuring that he will be around for the weekend, and was fairly beaming at the accomplishment.

"Hey guys," he said excitedly to the reporters, "I made the cut!"

With that, he raised both hands overhead, causing his caddie, Matt Minister, to laugh.

"He must think he's a chop or something," Minister said.

Forgive Price, who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2003, it he felt out of place this week while making his first PGA Tour start in three years. He plays the Champions Tour these days, and at age 54, wasn't quite sure what to expect. Then when the PGA National course was blasted by winds for two straight days, it made his reunion tour a downright grind.

"It's very hard," he said as the wind whistled around him. "I was a little tired this morning. I woke up and was on the tee at 6:50 [a.m.]. Haven't had one of those for awhile."

After an openng 70 made him the story of the day, Price made a double-bogey on his eighth hole Friday.

"That kind of put me a little bit on the defensive," he said.

By the time he got to his final hole, the provected cut was one shot higher than his score, though it will almost certainly rise as the day continues. He made an 8-footer for par to shot 74. He's a lock for the weekend, where he hopes to play a little more aggressively as the winds die down.

"All in all, 4 over, I'm a happy camper," he grinned.
Category: Golf
Posted on: March 4, 2011 11:05 am
Edited on: March 4, 2011 2:16 pm

Wonderful world of Boo Weekley, part CXLVII

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Where Boo Weekley goes, comedy often follows.

The pride of the Florida Panhandle was on the practice range at the Honda Classic, stationed next to best friend Heath Slocum, when a reporter mentioned that the man arrested for intentionally poisoning the trees at Auburn's famed Toomer's Corner was a Milton High graduate.

So are Weekley and Slocum.

When it was noted that Harvey Updyke, 62, who has been charged with criminal mischief, was a fellow Milton grad, Slocum's caddie almost fell down and questioned the connection. Weekley, hitting balls nearby, overheard the conversation and affirmed the news in his inimitable fashion.

"Oh yeah," Weekly grinned. "He was in the same class with Mad Dog. They were good friends. Still are."

In Weekley's world, Mad Dog is the nickname for Boo's father. In fact, for short, some in the tiny town refer to Boo's dad simply as Dog.

Weekley has a biography coming out this spring, by the way, and if advances galley copies mailed to the media are any indication, it should include a treasure trove of hilarious stories.

Weekley shot 72 on Friday and missed the cut at 8 over.
Category: Golf
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