Sizing up the TV coverage from The Barclays ... and away we go.
Golf fans know it's never a good thing when a PGA Tour telecast opens with Slugger White (the PGA Tour's VP for rules and competitions) in the booth. Nothing against Slugger, but when he gets more airtime during a week-long telecast, you know something is up.
The "up," of course, was Irene, a massive hurricane that, at the time, was barreling towards Plainfield Country Club, forcing the PGA Tour to shorten The Barclays to just 54 holes.
Slugger was a mainstay during the week, providing as much information as he could, until he announced at the start of Friday's broadcast that the event was being cut short so players could hop in their G4's and hightail it out New Jersey before the hurricane hit.
It wasn't exactly the start the tour was hoping for at the start of the FedEx Cup. After enjoying the most wide-open season in years, there seemed to be renewed interest in the playoff format.
While the hurricane didn't deter players from going low -- Dustin Johnson's second-round 63 could have been 59 -- it did seem to take the air out of the event, forcing CBS, broadcasting its last tour event of the season, to tape-delay the final round and show the same golf shots from the third round on Sunday.
"It's the smart decision to get everybody out of here," Nick Faldo said. "The course is supposed to get blitzed on Sunday, so that gives the players time to get out of here, and the crews can get everything taken down in time. You just don't know what's going to happen here."
Of course, you can't place the blame on anybody for the first event lacking punch on television. The earthquake earlier in the week, followed by Irene's looming presence, had everyone thinking about far more important things.
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Plainfield loses its teeth
Like most historic courses, Plainfield Country Club prides itself on being a tough test of golf. So when The Barclays picked the course to host this year's event, the membership hoped the course would put its best foot forward.
But a couple of natural disasters had other ideas. With rain plaguing the area leading up to the event, Plainfield was turned into a playground for most of the top players in the game, as Dustin Johnson won the event with a score of 19-under for 54 holes.
While the course wasn't exactly holding the players back, Jim Nantz tried to put things in perspective by letting viewers in on why the course was playing so easy for the week.
"Members weren't expecting players to go this low," Nantz said. "This is a great old course, and this week isn't a great reflection of the teeth of the golf course, because it's lift, clean and place. Plus, the course is saturated from all the rain; that's a big reason why it's target practice for the players."
Nick Faldo said the weather was a big reason why Dustin Johnson was having so much success on the course, despite his less-than-stellar short game.
"The course has some real abrupt slopes that I've never seen before," Faldo said. "Back in my era, really long hitters would have trouble on a course like this that measures under 7,000 yards, because they'd bomb it out there and be stuck with those awkward 40-yard chips. Dustin doesn't have that problem because he can drive the green."
Long putter talk
Next to Keegan Bradley's victory at the PGA Championship and Steve Williams' dig at Tiger Woods at the WGC-Bridgestone, the long putter was the most talked about golf topic in the month of August.
It's not hard to see why, after Bradley, Scott and Webb Simpson made it three wins in a row for the long putter. Not surprisingly, it was one of the first topics of discussion during Thursday's first round.
"First there was [Adam] Scott, then Bradley at the PGA, followed by Webb Simpson at the Wyndham," said the Golf Channel's Rich Lerner. "It used to be that the club was a last resort for 40-somethings who were losing their touch. But now it seems like everyone is giving the putter a try."
Nick Faldo seemed to agree with Lerner's comments about the old stigma attached with the club. But like most players, including Faldo, who also tried out the belly putter, you'll try anything to get your stroke back.
"Exactly, there was always some shame or embarrassment for using one, because you were basically admitting that you'd lost your touch or stroke. But these guys now go to their key brand manufacturers and get on their computers and say 'guess what, you can get your best stroke with whatever length you need.'"
Faldo, Feherty produce comedy gems
Hurricane Irene may have been breathing down The Barclays' back for most of the week, but that didn't keep Nick Faldo and David Feherty from producing some comedy gems early in the week.
Faldo, watching Phil Mickelson hitting balls on the range in white slacks, decided to take a dig at Lefty, who obviously didn't plan for the rain when he packed his clothes for the week.
"Good choice of trousers, Phil," Faldo said. "He went with white on a day like today. I mean, he's just so carefree, isn't he? He probably owns his own dry cleaning company, or something like that. At least he's got his crocodile shoes that are probably waterproof."
Feherty later produced some comedy gold of his own, as he talked about Luke Donald's consistent finishes this year on the PGA and European tours.
"Well there's a lot more going there that most people don't know about ... like the fact that he's a human ATM," Feherty said. "I swiped my American Express card down the small of his back and got 500 bucks out."
- Nick Faldo
- The Barclays
- Dustin Johnson
- PGA Tour