Big Names Miss Big this Week in Golf

The big news this Friday evening is not who the leaders are at the two major golf events going into the weekend but the big names that missed the cut — Martin Kaymer and Phil Mickelson.

Martin Kaymer missed the cut at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Open. This is shocking because he is ranked #4 in the world and has won the Abu Dhabi HSBC three times in the last four years.  Many of the “golf experts” predicted he would win. Boy, am I glad I did not select him as a fantasy golf pick.

The big shock for me was Phil Mickelson.  I knew he was struggling and unfortunately had a sinking feeling when he shot a 77 on Thursday.  In his post round interview, Mickelson called his round on Thursday “pathetic.”  That’s what I like about “Lefty” — not shy about calling it like it is (good or bad).

One thing the pros always talk about is how important it is to be focused on the course. According to a San Diego Union-Tribune one of Mickelson’s daughters had a “health scare” last week.  To his credit, in the interview I watched, he did not say anything about his daughter.  He just said “Yesterday’s round was shocking to me just because my expectations were so high because I knew I was playing well.”

I will always be a big fan of Phil Mickelson and cheer for him. Hopefully he will find his game again because viewing weekend golf coverage just isn’t the same when “Lefty” is not playing.

Is Johnson Wagner’s mustache more important than winning the Sony Open?

The only thing I knew about Johnson Wagner prior to the Sony Open was that golf commentators were talking about his mustache; and the comments were not exactly flattering.  Some compared his mustache to that of the sleazy private detective, Pat Healy (played by Matt Dillion) in the movie “There’s Something About Mary.”  By the way, a movie that I cannot stand.

Wagner was just one of many golfers who grew Mustache’s in November. Many grew them because of a campaign called Movember which was created to raise awareness of Men’s Health issues.  Wagner said he just didn’t shave over the holidays and decided to try a mustache. Regardless of the reason, folks teased Wagner about the “new look.”  Given it provided additional banter and color commentary for the golf media, I suppose it should not be a surprise that the commentary continued the Monday morning after he won the Sony Open.  But it seems to be “the story” about Wagner.  Now folks are comparing him to Magnum PI (Tom Selleck).

When asked about it, Wagner said his friends think he looks like a “Latin Lover” and, oh yeah,  his wife hates it.  Wagner won the Sony Open and in an interview, Wagner says he is keeping his mustache at least until he plays the Masters. He even said it adds to his confidence.

It got me thinking about personal brand.  Personal brand is certainly important for professional athletes. And I wonder if Wagner’s mustache is going to become part of his personal brand? If personal brand is about making yourself stand out from the crowd, or in this case on the golf course during a tournament, then I think the mustache might actually be more important than winning the Sony Open.

I can honestly say that prior to this week if Wagner was on the TV screen I would not recognize him. But last night during the telecast, I could recognize him in an instance because of his Mustache.  In the future will I remember who won the Sony Open in 2011, maybe.  But if Wagner still has his mustache will I recognize him on TV, definitely.

“I’m not running for President; I’m a Golfer” — Matt Every

Professional Golfer, Matt Every, is leading the Sony open after the third round but unfortunately that is not the big story hovering over Every.  The big story is how he handled himself and what he said in an interview with Kelly Tilghman of the Golf Channel. 

To make a long story short, back in 2010 Every was at the John Deere Classic and was suspended for 3 months. He was suspended because he was arrested for possession of marijuana (he pleaded no contest and charges were later dropped). So as part of her interview, Tilghman, asked about that time.  Instead of just saying something like it was a learning experience and I’ve moved on, Every just went on and on saying some really stupid (for lack of a better term) things.  For example, “Honestly, man, I know more people who smoke marijuana than who don’t smoke marijuana. I know that’s probably not the politically correct thing to say, but it’s the truth.”

When I saw this interview, I felt sorry for Every because I assumed his “management” had done him a dis-service by not giving him any PR training on how to answer questions.  Some online chatter blamed Tilghman for asking a personal question but what many may not have realized is that Matt Every was on a Golf Channel “reality” show called The Big Break and they ask lots of personal questions to get the back story on the contestants. Tilghman did her job and Every should have known how to answer quickly and move on.

He lost my sympathy vote the next day during the press conference. When asked about the interview with Tilghman, Every went on and on again and at one point he said ” I’m not running for president; I’m a golfer. So I’m really not trying to, you know, piss anyone off.”  The word that he excluded in his statement was “just” (I’m just a golfer) but it was implied (in my opinion).

When someone says (with all seriousness/not joking) “I’m just a [fill in the blank]” it is a cop-out. They are basically removing any ownership or responsibility for their own words and actions.  That just doesn’t cut it for me; especially with professional athletes because they are role models and so at a minimum should think before they speak.

Hopefully Every will learn from this experience but I will not be cheering for him to win the Sony open. I’m cheering for Jeff Maggert, the co-leader after the third round, not just because I am not a fan of Every’s but because I am a fan of Maggert’s. After all, he is one of my golf fantasy picks.

Phil Mickelson: My Favorite PGA Player

You know you are a big fan when you can remember where you were when a player had something big happen in their career and I can remember being at my mother’s home watching The Masters in 2004 and hoping Phil Mickelson might finally win.

Watching it was nerve-racking and I actually felt on-edge because “Lefty” (that’s his nickname) had come so close to winning a major so many times and had not won a major since his career began in 1992.   So in 2004, at that point in his career, he was known as the best player to have never won a major. When he won, I remember feeling actual joy — cheering & clapping & yelling “finally” out loud.  He went on to win two more green jackets (2006  and 2010) and I hope he wins another before his career ends.

By the way, it is not easy to win multiple jackets — Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods have four and the legendary Jack Nicklaus has six green jackets. Not many people think anyone will break Jack’s record; especially given the number of young players challenging seasoned pros that have been playing poorly.

So why am I a “Lefty” Fan?  Originally he caught my eye because he was so creative and daring in his sort game (I love to watch him hit a flop shot) and he can be very inconsistent with wild shots of the tee (so that adds drama to his game).  He was the one player during the height of Tiger’s era that really was a “rival” of Tiger’s and that made the game exciting.  Over the years he has not only been entertaining on course but in watching him “off course” (with fans and the press) he just seemed like one of the “good guys.”

In recent years, he has had adversity in his personal life — both his wife and mother were diagnosed with breast cancer (something that hits home for me because my mother had breast cancer) and in 2010 he announced he has psoriatic arthritis.  Sounds awful but he says it is “treatable” and is now a spokesperson on TV and has lent his name to a website, On Course With Phil.

By the way, Callaway Golf sponsors Phil and I guess I am a marketer’s dream because I am a Callaway consumer (so much so that my friends gave me a new Callaway golf bag as a gift). I even have GalCallaway as my user name for Fantasy Golf and Twitter.

So needless to say, I am a huge fan and will be cheering for “Lefty” in 2012.