Rubenstein: Eyeballs still on golf
There’s no end to the entertainment available these days while driving one’s car, but it’s only recently that I learned that I get Mad Dog Radio on my satellite receiver. I’ve not heard much golf on the show, because I’m usually tuned in to PGA Tour Radio for that. And I didn’t hear much golf early Monday afternoon when I lit on the Mad Dog show, but something did catch my ear that relates. Sort of.
“This is the time of the year when most of the eyeballs are watching football,” somebody said.
That got my attention, because I rarely watch NFL football. My loss, no doubt. But hey, I’m Canadian. Forgive me. (I do watch CFL from time to time, and always catch the Grey Cup). But really, is it true that “most of the eyeballs are watching football” during these fall days, especially Sundays? What about the baseball playoffs? Those I do watch, and they’ve been exciting.
This brings me to golf. I like to think that at least a few eyeballs were watching the conclusion of the Frys.com Open from the CordeValle club in San Martin, Calif. on Sunday. The season isn’t over just because the majors are done and the Ryder Cup has been played. It’s always warm somewhere, right? There’s always a golf tournament, or two, or three, or more, to watch.
The PGA Tour this time of the season is interesting because many players are trying to retain their exempt status for next year by finishing in the top 125 money-winners. These players are worth getting to know in the Fall Series, which is halfway through its four-tournament schedule. Knowing something about where players stand makes watching the tournaments a worthwhile way of spending a few hours on a Sunday afternoon – if you can avert your eyeballs from the NFL.
Let’s see, then. How about checking out how Jeff Maggert is doing? He stood – precariously – in 125th place when he started last week’s tournament. Canadians might remember Maggert because he was in the last twosome with Mike Weir in the final round of the 2003 Masters. Maggert found sand off the tee at the third hole, and then his shot hit the lip and rebounded to hit him in the chest. Two-shot penalty. He finished fifth, five shots out of the playoff. Weir, of course, won on the first extra hole over Len Mattiace.
Maggert made a bit of a move at CordeValle, where he tied for 16th to win $72,500 and advance from 125th to 119th place on the money list. He’ll probably need to play reasonably well at the McGladrey Classic in Sea Island, GA this week, and then at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Nov. 8-11 to maintain his position and avoid returning to qualifying school.
“I feel like I’m playing well enough to do something out here the last few weeks,” Maggert, 48, and a three-time PGA Tour winner, said at CordeValle. “We’ll see what happens.” He added that if he has to go back to Q-school, “so be it. It’s just another tournament.”
Maybe he can say that because he’s been around the golfing block a few times, given his age. Maggert said he feels fortunate to have had as long a career as he had. He had shoulder surgery in June 2011, and had to take the rest of the year off. He’s just happy to be teeing in up in tournaments.
Meanwhile, Jonas Blixt is the poster boy for making something happen in the Fall Series. The 28-year-old Swede finished third at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children in Las Vegas, and then won the Frys.com Open. He was inside the top 125 before Vegas, but the $1,206,000 he’s won the last two weeks has vaulted him to 35th on the money list. His play in the Fall Series has made those people who have checked out golf rather than checked off golf realize that he’s a serious player – one to reckon with.
“So I really can’t believe this is happening,” Blixt said after he won. It happened; well, he made it happen, because he decided to keep playing in the Fall Series.
And how about Tim Petrovic and Jason Kokrak? Petrovic, 46, and Kokrak, 27, tied for second at the Frys.com and won $440,000 each. Petrovic moved from 200th to 132nd on the money list. Kokrak moved from 167th to 117th. Kokrak, by the way, was born in North Bay, Ont. He was there for all of two weeks. His mother is a Canadian and she was visiting family there when she gave birth to him. He grew up in Warren, Ohio. I know all this because my sharp-eyed colleague Jeff Brooke wrote about Kokrak during the RBC Canadian Open in July.
Maggert, Petrovic, and Kokrak are playing at the McGladrey this week. So is Blixt. I’ll be watching to see how they fare. My eyeballs will be on the PGA Tour, and also on the baseball playoffs.
NFL? Not for long. Not for me.
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Lorne Rubenstein has written a golf column for The Globe and Mail since 1980. He has played golf since the early 1960s and was the Royal Canadian Golf Association’s first curator of its museum and library at the Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario and the first editor of Score, Canada’s Golf Magazine, where he continues to write a column and features. He has won four first-place awards from the Golf Writers Association of America, one National Magazine Award in Canada, and he won the award for the best feature in 2009 from the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. Lorne has written 12 books, including Mike Weir: The Road to the Masters (2003); A Disorderly Compendium of Golf, with Jeff Neuman (2006); This Round’s on Me (2009); and the latest Moe & Me: Encounters with Moe Norman, Golf’s Mysterious Genius (2012). He is a member of the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. Lorne can be reached at email@example.com . You can now follow him on Twitter @lornerubenstein