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The GrunkleGuru

Grunkle is a slang term for the thick rough on a golf course that I have been using for many years. Given my penchant for inaccurate tee balls, I have become a bit of a guru out of the thick stuff, hence the name. This is a site for my random thoughts about sports (espeically golf) and life in general. While nothing special, it will hopefully offer a break from the daily drudgery for both you and me.

January 04, 2006

Let's Get It Started

The holidays have come and gone, and the Guru took advantage of the lull in the golf season to play one of his better rounds in a long time (78 with 36 putts), and rest up for what is going to be a long, but enjoyable 2006 golf campaign. Granted it did not get off to a great start as New Years Eve was spent bedridden with an evil and nasty virus that was passed on to me by my loving wife (thanks for the great Christmas present honey), but I am slowly on the road to recovery, and ready for the start of the 2006 season.

It seems like just the other week, we were watching the final event of the 2005 PGA Tour season. Oh wait; it was just the other week. Well, not exactly, the 2005 campaign ended on November 6th, and tomorrow, January 5th, the 2006 season gets underway with the Mercedes Championship. Actually, this is not a full field event, but rather a special tournament for winners from the past year. This year’s event set aside tee times for 32 golfers, including:

Stuart Appleby (1) – Mercedes Championship
Jason Bohn (1) – B.C. Open
Olin Browne (1) – Deutsche Bank Championship
Bart Bryant (2) – The Memorial Tournament, The Tour Championship
Mark Calcavecchia (1) – Bell Canadian Open
Michael Campbell (1) – U.S. Open
K.J. Choi (1) – Chrysler Classic of Greensboro
Ben Crane (1) – U.S. Bank Championship
Brad Faxon (1) – Buick Championship
Fred Funk (1) – The Players Championship
Jim Furyk (1) – Cialis Western Open
Robert Gamez (1) – Valero Texas Open
Sergio Garcia (1) – Booz Allen Classic
Lucas Glover (1) – Funai Classic
Retieff Goosen (1) – The International
Jason Gore (1) – 84 Lumber Classic
Padraig Harrington (2) – The Honda Classic, Barclays Classic
Justin Leonard (2) – Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, FedEx St. Jude Classic
Peter Lonard (1) – MCI Heritage
Phil Mickelson (4) – FBR Open, AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, BellSouth Classic, PGA Championship
Sean O’Hair (1) – John Deere Classic
Geoff Ogilvy (1) – Chrysler Classic of Tucson
Kenny Perry (2) – Bay Hill Invitational, Bank of America Colonial
Tim Petrovic (1) – Zurich Classic of New Orleans
Carl Pettersson (1) – Chrysler Championship
Ted Purdy (1) – EDS Byron Nelson Championship
Wes Short, Jr. (1) – Las Vegas Invitational
Vijay Singh (4) – Sony Open, Shell Houston Open, Wachovia Championship, Buick Open
Heath Slocum (1) – Southern Farm Bureau Classic
Vaughn Taylor (1) – Vaughn Taylor
David Toms (1) – WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
Tiger Woods (6) – Buick Invitational, Ford Championship @ Doral, Masters Tournament, British Open, WGC – Bridgestone Invitational, WGC – American Express Championship

I know what you are thinking. What about Adam Scott? Didn’t he win the Nissan Open? The answer is yes, he did win the event, but since it was only 36 holes (due to rain) it was considered an unofficial event. In other words, he gets the money and the trophy, but that is it. No ranking points, no invitations to events, etc. Basically it is about as useless of a win as you can come up with. Not say I wouldn’t take it, but those unofficial events don’t carry that much weight.

While Scott won and did not get an invitation, four golfers (Goosen, Harrington, Mickelson, & Woods) earned the right to be at Kapalua, but have withdrawn from the tournament for various reasons. While each has their own reason for skipping, and some are more valid then the others (Hawaii is a long way away for Ireland and South Africa respectively), I still have a problem with these four not making the sacrifice necessary to play in this event.

Not only does this event serve as a way for those who had a good year to build momentum for a strong upcoming season what with the guaranteed money, no cut and limited field, but it also helps to jump start the fans interest in the tour. Since the event is in January most of the country is either buried in snow, below freezing, or just not thinking about golf. The event also takes place live in primetime so that you have a more captive audience. I don’t have any exact scientific fact to back up my thinking, but I do believe that good ratings lead to more interest in golf, which leads to more rounds being played, equipment being bought, and general support of the game. When you have four of the top ten golfers in the world, and two of the most popular (Woods & Mickelson) skip an event that really is tailor made for their games, it hurts the game of golf in general.

So, I hope the new television contract being worked out has a contingency that involves the best players in the world being required to participate in these marquee events. It does good for the entire golf industry.
As for a winner, I don’t have a strong feel for anyone, but for some reason I think Garcia is going to figure out how to putt for at least one week and get the victory.

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