Friday, February 27, 2009

Kim Jong-Il: The IB18 Interview

In a country where there is a nationally mandated ‘dress code’, radio stations receive only three (3) government-sponsored channels and public executions are held, it’s easy to see why the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK aka North Korea), gets a bad rep.

It’s not everyday that our correspondents get to travel to North Korea. Considering that the country has consistently lobbied against U.S. occupation in the Korean Peninsula, it became even more amazing when IB18 had its visa request granted by the North Korean government.
Moreover, we were allowed to interview the “Great Leader” himself, Kim Jong-Il (no relation to Anthony Kim), for we heard that he is one hell of a golfer.

Kim has claimed to have shot a 38-under par score of 34 on his home course at Pyongyang Country Club (par 72-7,700 yards), the only golf course in the DPRK.

We wanted to know more.

IB18: Good morning, Mr. Kim

KJ-Il: Excuse me, son. What was that?

IB18: Oh right. Sorry. Good morning eternal almighty leader of the DPRK, Master Kim.

KJ-Il: Much better, thank you.

IB18: Before we get to your golfing skills, tell us something about yourself. What should Americans and the rest of the free world understand about the almighty Kim?

KJ-Il: I am the most beloved figure in the history of humankind.

IB18: That’s quite a statement.

KJ-Il: It’s true, though.

IB18: Usually people reserve the term ‘beloved’ for Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King.

KJ-Il: Pussies! Every last one of them.

IB18: They’re still regarded as people who represented the greater good. And for a guy that has a penchant for the torture and starvation of his own people, how do you compare?

KJ-Il: Watch this shit.

Kim Jong-Il heads over to a window overlooking the square of the Kumsusan Memorial Palace. Outside, nearly 500,000 identically dressed North Koreans stand at attention.

KJ-Il: (to the crowd) Who’s your daddy?

Crowd: The almighty beloved great leader! Long live the leader! Long live!

KJ-Il: Damn right! Now stay there and don’t move until I tell you that it’s time to go home.

Kim Jong-Il returns to the salon where we continue our interview.

KJ-Il: (to me) Dig that, you peasant!

IB18: Hey, how can 500,000 brainwashed North Koreans be wrong?

KJ-Il: Exactly. See you’re getting it.

IB18: We hear you play a mean game of golf.

KJ-Il: I routinely average 4 aces (holes-in-one) per round.

IB18: Unbelieveable!

KJ-Il: I once made 11 holes-in-one en route to an 18-hole score of 34.

IB18: Incredible!

KJ-Il: So put that in your capitalist pipe and smoke it, Tiger Woods.

IB18: Mind you, our editors and I are still skeptical about those feats. After all, the odds against two aces in a round of golf are about 9 million to one. I'd be willing to bet...

KJ-Il: (interrupting) Gambling is illegal in North Korea.

IB18: As are cell phones, I understand.

KJ-Il: Correct.

IB18: So much for calling my bookie. Tell us more about that low score.

KJ-Il: It was a blustery, rain-soaked day at Pyongyang Country Club. A 3-club wind was blowing from the Northeast. My caddy and I were the only ones on the course at the time.

IB18: Those conditions would keep most golfers away.

KJ-Il: As well they should. No matter, though. Anyone who showed up on the course that day was imprisoned.

IB18: At least you weren’t held up by slower players.

KJ-Il: Precisely. So I ace the first two holes, a dogleg par-4 and a 550-yard par 5. I was excited to get off to a good start. But then again, it was just another day at the office.

IB18: The 18-hole lowest score record on the PGA Tour is 59 and it has happened only 3 times in history (Al Geiberger, Chip Beck & David Duval) by professionals who spend every waking moment of their lives practicing their game. It just seems unlikely that the busy leader of an industrialized country, such as yourself, has the time…

KJ-Il: (interrupts) Are you calling me a liar?

IB18: I’m just saying…

KJ-Il: You heathen! How dare you insult me! Guards! Seize him!

IB18: Oh, shit!

The author, here, sprints for the nearest exit and vacates the Palace, only to find 500,000 screaming North Koreans chasing him with Kaiser blades and pitchforks. After successfully maneuvering through the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), avoiding every last land mine, the author safely reached South Korea and hit the nearest McDonalds.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bracketology: WGC-Match Play

Let’s start with a correction: From the post on Friday, February 20th, the WGC Match Play will not be at The Gallery this year, but at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club. Same area, different course altogether.

For those that are itchy to fill out a bracket for March Madness, perhaps you can be soothed by filling one out for this week’s Match Play event in Tucson, Arizona, where 64 of the world’s best golfers will battle head to head.

We have our Final Four picks already:

Jones Division Champion: Mike Weir (over Camilo Villegas) – It’s an upset special in the sweet 16 over Tiger Woods (defending champion). Weir’s record in match play is nothing special (13 matches, 6 wins-7 losses), but his putting skills (currently T9 in Putts/GIR) will put pressure on his opponents and his ability to scramble may halve (tie) some holes for him.

Hogan Division Champion: Steve Stricker (over Stewart Cink) – Stricker (11 matches, 7-4) won this event in 2001. He may have the hardest route of all the players in the field. After a missed cut to start the season at the FBR, he’s improved each week he played since (2nd @ NT Open, T3 @ AT&T Pebble Beach).

Player Division Champion: Kenny Perry (over Justin Rose) – A real longshot amongst the rest of the field (9 matches, 3-6), Perry is still the Tour’s leading money winner and at 49 years old, that still counts for something. He’ll show the youngins’ a thing or two.

Snead Division Champion: Anthony Kim (over Jim Furyk) – Based on his success last year at the Ryder Cup, Anthony Kim gets to prove again that he’s a player who can handle the pressure situations. His Birdie average (5.00/round – 2nd on Tour) will help him win holes and his Sand Saves (83.33% - 1st on Tour) will prevent him from losing them.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Thank You, Reuters

A professional journalist has finally digested perhaps what IB18 editors have been chewing on for the last few weeks.

Mark Lamport-Stokes hits the nail right on the head when he writes, “With Woods competing, the media gather like moths around a candle fame. In contrast, a tournament without Woods is almost viewed as a non-event.”

And therein lies the problem… Not with Woods, but with those media members who want an injured, non-playing professional to simply breathe and speak, while other players toil in relative obscurity.

Even as Phil Mickelson, not necessarily an ‘unpopular’ player, successfully defended his title at Riviera this weekend with erratic and exciting play (63-72-62-72), the media still waits for Tiger like a virgin waiting in a whorehouse.

It’s just like Pee-Wee in the movie Porky’s who incessantly says “We’re gonna get laid.” Or like Dragline in Cool Hand Luke spouting off on his well endowed, soaped up ‘Lucille’.

We know! Quit beating it to death.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Are You Happy Now?

Everyone who was waiting for the magic words can now legitimately pucker up (IB18 editors included) as Tiger Woods made his announcement to return to golf at the WGC-Match Play event next week.

IB18 recently received criticism as we complained about Woods’ absence making for brown-nosing writers constantly pondering about when his return would be. Our complaint, if any, was the fact there are/were good stories out on the Tour waiting to be found and written about, but the story remained about a person who was not yet playing.

Now that we’ll get to see him next week at The Gallery, we can actually have reason to kiss Eldrick’s golden tush, as we get to see where he stands amongst a worldwide field of talent. Woods is also the last year’s champion at WGC-Match Play and it goes without saying that he will be primed to defend his title, trick knee and all.

And speaking of defending champions, Phil Mickelson was smoking at Riviera yesterday, firing an 8-under 63 at the Northern Trust Open (Mickelson won this tournament in 2008). He carded 8 birdies and 10 pars for some top notch mistake-free golf.

IB18 can only surmise that once he learned of Tiger’s return, the “oh s**t” light turned on and he upped his game.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sir Charles Gets a Tune-Up

Hank Haney, world-renowned swing doctor and golf professional, has a dilly of a pickle in trying to figure out what in the world is wrong with the golf swing of former NBA star Charles “Round Mound Of Rebound” Barkley. The Golf Channel broadcasts this great undertaking starting on March 2nd at 9PM ET/8PM CT.

Here’s a look at what Hank will have to deal with… and it’s not pretty.

The editors of IB18 are not swing experts by any stretch of the imagination, nor will we try to be, but we know a bad golf stroke when we see one and can only surmise as to what ‘mental blocks’ exist inside Sir Charles’ shiny, bald dome.

It’s probably sounds something like this:

“Aw, s**t. My shot again? Glad it’s not a pro-am. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. This ball better go somewhere other than O.B. NO NO NO NO NO NO. Swing it easy, not hard, no easy, because there’s a little wind. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. Maybe I’ll have a B.L.T. for lunch, only 4 holes until the turn. NO NO NO NO NO NO. Okay, here’s the takeaway. Who farted? NO NO NO NO NO NO,”

“Okay now downswing, wait, pause, is that MJ behind me? NO NO NO NO NO. Shift feet, or is it don’t shift my feet? Oh wait… It was me who farted. NO NO NO NO NO. Quit being a baby and just hit the ball. Impact! Damn… I’m O.B. again. Someone have an extra ball I could use?”

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sorry Mr. Phelps, You Can’t Smoke It.

Among the most endearing qualities to the golf course at Riviera Country Club (host for this week’s host the Northern Trust Open) aside from its scenic beauty and countless number of celebrities who have graced its fariways, is the grass.

In 1934, Kikuyu grass (Pennisetum clandestinum) was planted after inclement weather threatened to destroy the course. A strong type of grass similar to Poa Annua (wintergrass), Kikuyu is arguably what makes Riviera a challenge as much as joy to play.

Because of it’s strong roots, the Kikuyu rough makes it hard for any club to get through cleanly. Kikuyu fairways, when cut correctly (usually through a process known as Verticutting), can leave a course with a plush, smooth surface, allowing for a better ball-roll. Kikuyu also has great tolerance for hot temperatrues as well as frost, making it a good, low maintenance option for golf course greenskeepers as well as homeowners with their own lawn.

However, its tendency to overgrow may prevent other plant species from flourishing and can damage small trees, as well as grow within cracks of stone and mortar.

Thus, it can be classified as a weed, but not the type you’d want to put in your bong.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Easy Money. More Respect?

Normally, you don’t hear much about a professional golfer’s criminal past, as it usually doesn’t exist or in this case, rear its ugly head.

But in the case of Dustin Johnson, perhaps time has healed the wounds.

After inclement weather forced officials to cancel the final round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the 24 year-old Johnson (the leader after 54 holes) was declared the winner, notching his 2nd career tour victory.

But it can be argued that Johnson’s victories may have been easier to obtain than his freedom.

In 2001, he was caught up in a burglary/murder in his home state of South Carolina. Johnson was 16 years old at the time and was intimidated by his brother’s friend, Steve Gillian, who coerced Johnson and four others to aid him in his crime spree.

Johnson ended up testifying against Gillian (now serving a life term in prison) and was forced to pay restitution for the burglary.

The editors at IB18 are happy to see that Johnson’s career is on the up-and-up and hopes that his success on Tour continues… for it’s hard to focus on making birdies when you’re a prison punk.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Curses Are For Losers, Not For Newborns

Since none of the editors here at IB18 have children of their own, it’s hard to make any sort of commentary regarding the reasoning behind naming a child.

A suburban Plainfield, Illinois couple decided to name their newborn child Addison, which for all intents and purposes, is a nice name. However, when your last name is Clark and you’re a Cubs fan to boot, you flirt with retardation and loser-dom.

Brian and Lauren Clark thought it would be a novel idea to name their newborn daughter, Addison N. Clark, thus proving their loyalty to the most futile sports franchise in U.S. history. IB18 editors won’t wish anything bad upon young Addison; her parents have already cursed her with the moniker of a street corner.

Brian, Lauren, nobody doubts that either one of you are rabid Cub fans and we won’t question your loyalty, but you might as well name your kid B.J. and put a stripper pole in the nursery. You’re no more creative or smarter than rest of the sheep that put a positive mystique upon losing and keep going to the crumbling beer garden known as Wrigley Field.

May Addison grow up to be a White Sox fan and change her name to 35th & Shields.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day…

So anyone that’s still concerned with Tiger’s return to the PGA can kiss IB18s collective ass from here to Pebble Beach.

It’s your turn today, Mike Lopresti of Gannett News Service.

“Tick, tick, tick,” Lopresti writes. “The sport has been a table without a centerpiece.”

Considering Woods’ larger than life persona, even as he recuperates from knee surgery, it’s safe to say that golf’s biggest centerpiece is blocking the middle of the table, hindering our vision of other golfers who sit right across from us.

Lopresti also writes, “You can imagine football without a Manning, basketball without a Kobe. Not golf, circa 2009, without a Woods.”

Sorry, Mike. The editors at IB18 can imagine plenty of other good golf stories, perhaps not worth the hype that you place upon Woods return (as if anyone knows when that will be). Some examples:

Charley Hoffman’s season has been very impressive, with 3 cuts made in as many starts. His two top-10s and a top-25 have been good enough to put him 6th on the money list (he finished 110th last season).

49 year-old Kenny Perry, ever a “money” golfer, picked up right where he left off last year with a victory at the FBR Open.

And there's a youth movement with guys like Rory McIlroy and Ryo Ishikawa, 19 and 17 years old respectively, who have both won their first professional events at a younger age than Tiger. They'll be playing at the Masters this season for the first time in their young careers

Tiger may make the trip to Augusta, but will be bring his sticks?

So, Mike Lopresti, aside from kissing our ass, feel free to keep your nose well up Tiger’s keester too, even when he doesn’t play. For you represent the fair-weather golf fan who can’t bring themselves to admit that golfers with fresh knee ligaments and without a recent birth of a child can make for good stories too.

But with your head so far up Tiger’s ass, it’s no wonder you can’t see.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

For J.P. Hayes, Honesty Was The Only Policy

If no good deed goes unpunished, then kudos to the PGA and professional golfer J.P. Hayes for providing the anomaly.

As IB18 reported some time ago, J.P. Hayes had turned himself in to PGA officials regarding the use of a prototype ball that was not approved by the USGA and thus, not allowed to be used in tournament play. In addition, the infraction occurred during Q-school, where golfers vie for the last few remaining spots on the PGA Tour.

As a result, J.P. Hayes’ was disqualified from the second stage of Q-school and his chances at returning to the PGA Tour simply vanished.

But Hayes’ honesty paid the most unlikely of dividends this past week when it was announced that the 43 year-old Wisconsin native would receive exemptions to participate at 5 PGA Tour events, including this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

In regards to all of the attention he’s received over the last few weeks, said Hayes, “[It] kind of felt like one of those things that we all do and we all expect each other to do.” He added, “… I would say that almost, I would hope, anyway, that 100 percent of us play by those standards.”

What is even more interesting (and welcomed by IB18 editors) is the fact that Hayes’ has shunned the limelight in regards to his noble act, and has turned down offers to give speeches about ethics to corporations and groups. Hayes doesn’t want to capitalize on a moral value, which should ultimately, not have a price tag. For ‘honesty’ is virtue that should be inherent present in all humans and should not be compromised in the name of greed.

This is the positive example that J.P. Hayes has set for himself. May we all learn from it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Who’s Next To Step Up?

Veteran PGA Tour pro Paul Goydos said it best this past week at the Buick Invitational, “The next Vijay Singh could be in this field, and we just don't know it. That's the story that needs to be told. We get caught up in the negativity of who's not here, as opposed to the positive of who is here.”

It’s accurate to state that the lack of ‘stars’ like Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia and Vijay Singh, all of whom weren’t part of the field at Torrey Pines, were part of the tournament’s drop in TV ratings. It also wouldn’t be surprising if these absences also contributed to lower attendance at the venue.

For those that thought the tournament was boring, Camilo Villegas came millimeters from sinking an eagle putt, which would have tied him for the lead on the 72nd hole, and Nick Watney still needed to sink a 3-footer to finish out for the win… so there was still excitement to be had late in the tournament.

The advice of the editors at IB18 is to keep watch the tournaments and start putting names to faces that weren’t so recognizable, because Vijay Singh is coming off an injury, Sergio Garcia may still have putting woes.

And as we channel hoops coach Rick Pitino… Tiger Woods isn’t walking through that door anytime soon.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Famous Sports Ouchies

Tiger Woods (who’s a father again… mazel tov) will soon be returning to the PGA Tour, repaired knee and all. Aside from the hoopla surrounding his return, it will be interesting to see what effect, if any, that the knee will have on his golf game. Tiger’s patellar region will always be at risk and thus beckons the question, how much longer can the knee sustain Tiger’s kinetically powerful swing?

It got the editors here at IB18 thinking about other famous sports injuries:

Tommy John (MLB Pitcher) –Tommy John’s season was cut short in 1974 due to a damaged ligament in his pitching arm. So in a revolutionary surgical procedure, Dr. Frank Jobe replaced the damaged ligament in his pitching arm (his left) with a fresh, undamaged ligament from his right arm. In 1976, John went 10-10, but won the NL Comeback Player of the Year and went on to pitch for another 13 MLB seasons. His career literally saved by the procedure, the surgery would forever be linked to his name (thus known as Tommy John surgery), with countless MLB pitchers following suit to this very day.

Joe Theismann (NFL QB) – Mr. ‘Rhymes With Heisman’ had his career effectively end on Monday Night Football thanks to his leg literally snapping in two during a large pile up. Off of a flea-flicker, Theismann dropped back and was sacked by Lawrence Taylor along with the rest of the NY Giants defensive front. Taylor, in an ambiguously magnanimous act, called out furiously to the Redskins sideline, knowing the severity of the injury that had just occurred.

Clint Malarchuk (NHL Goalie) – Blood on the ice never looked so scary. In what is probably the most graphic injury in sports history, Buffalo Sabres Goalie Clint Malarchuk had his throat slit from a player’s skate. Enough said… watch the video if you dare.

Dave Dravecky (MLB Pitcher) – Having just overcome a tumor in his pitching arm, Dave Dravecky was a true success story on August 10th, 1989, when he returned to the majors and logged 8 innings in a victory over the Cincinnati Reds. However, in his next start, while pitching to Tim Raines in the 6th, the humerus bone snapped in his pitching arm, felling Dravecky to the ground. A sad ending to an awe-inspiring comeback.

Tom Brady (NFL QB) – Not that this injury was totally out of the ordinary, but the editors at IB18 laughed at this injury for the following reasons:
1) It happened in Week 1 of this season and sent every last Patriots fan to the gas pipe.
2) It probably screwed the season of every last dummy who took Tom Brady in the 1st Round of their Fantasy Football draft.
3) It happened to a Bill Bellichick-coached Patriots team and it’s always easy to hate both.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Fiscal Responsibility = Good Enough

Good job by Forest Preserve District of Lake County to crunch the numbers and give raw facts to the people currently living in Fort Sheridan (just North of Highland Park) that a golf course is not the best of ideas right now.

Residents claim that the Forest Preserve District has a ‘legal and moral’ obligation to restore the golf course that was previously on the grounds. However, officials with the Forest Preserve claim that a project of this magnitude would be a costly effort and greens fees would be in the neighborhood of $140-$170 per 18-hole round.

"It isn't Pebble Beach, but it's close," said Dick Huey, a Ft. Sheridan resident referring to the majestic beauty of the now-decommissioned Army base.

It’s too much when you consider the number of golf courses in the area that offer cheaper and challenging golf. Even the Forest Preserve owns and operates golf gems like Thunderhawk and Countryside, so they’re not amateurs, nor are they trying to shirk any responsibility. Moreover, doesn't the Forest Preserve have a ‘legal and moral’ obligation to be in the black and operational?

The editors at IB18 would also like to remind Mr. Huey that if he wanted Pebble Beach, he should have bought there in the first place.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Things Are Tough All Over

There’s a frightening undertone to this week’s Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines.

The first of which is Phil Mickelson coming off a terrible showing at the FBR Open this past week (T121-Missed Cut). Lefty has won the Buick three times in his career and is always a favorite in his backyard of La Jolla, CA. A poor showing here would be a step in the wrong direction this season.

Aside from tournament play, more economic woes have set into the business fabric of the PGA with the news of Ginn Resorts pulling all of its golf-related sponsorships. This accounts for 2 PGA-sanctioned events (1 on LPGA, 1 on Nationwide) and LPGA Tour member Cristie Kerr, who wore the company’s apparel.

A resort & real estate development company, Ginn Resorts boasts a plethora of golf getaways throughout the United States & Caribbean.

Between GM reducing its exposure and releasing Tiger from his Buick endorsement contract, U.S. Bank dropping the GMO and the aforementioned Ginn Resorts, it’s easy to see that the PGA’s immunity from our floundering economy will not improve anytime soon.

Make no mistake; Tiger’s comeback from knee surgery will be a great draw at the box office and on Television. According to what Woods wrote in his monthly newsletter, he states, “"A lot depends on the baby, which is due pretty soon. That takes precedent over anything I do golf-wise.”

We, the editors at IB18, cannot argue with this, for we know an ultimate good when we hear one. Moreover, recovery from a knee injury is no trip to Detroit.
And even though we have yet to read Barack Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope” and very much want to… we are still not sure if Tiger’s return to Pro Golf, in and of itself, can or will save the sport from its current malady.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Wanting But Not Kneeding

The Buick Invitational is the next stop on the PGA Tour this week and last year’s champion Tiger Woods will not be able to defend his title. Since his season ending knee surgery this past June, golf fans has waited for Woods to utter “I’m back and I’ll start my season at event XYZ on this date.”

That date has yet to be revealed and golf fans wait.

Thus leaving doors swung wide open for younger, first-class talent to rise to the top and perhaps make Tiger’s job that much harder once he returns. The editors at IB18 have already extolled the virtues of Ryo Ishikawa, the 17-year old Japanese phenom. Go ahead and add another name to the list.

Rory McIlroy, age 19, jumped up from 39th on the OWGR (Official World Golf Rankings) to 16th with his most recent win at the Dubai Desert Classic. He’s no stranger to a big stage either, having been the low Amateur at the 2007 Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Both McIlroy and Ishikawa will be making it to Augusta National for this year’s Masters and it would seem like the perfect opportunity for Woods to make his comeback at that time. The hype, albeit unbearable and unnecessary, would certainly make for great television and put a lot more ‘human’ interest into the sport.

But perhaps above everything, it would seem just, gentlemanly and poetic (are we tearing at your heartstrings, yet?) for Woods, at the very least, to make an appearance at Augusta and be an ambassador to the global future of the game.

Especially if the knee isn’t what it used to be.

Monday, February 02, 2009

My Primate Wishes Were Granted, Somewhat

First of all, great game last night. Even though the Cards lost, Larry Fitzgerald is a stud and should have been the MVP anyway. Let’s move on.

As you may or may not know, the editors here at IB18 are serious connoisseurs of funny and any primate thrown into a commercial regardless of species is guaranteed to get a laugh.

A year to the day after we complained about the lack of monkeys during Super Bowl commercials, the people at Castrol (America’s leader in fighting viscosity and thermal breakdown in your car’s engine block) heeded the ha-ha call and went with some SAG chimps for its $3 million-30 second advert.

However, this time is wasn’t the monkeys that made us laugh. It was the final line of “Strange days indeed,” uttered by the flannelled dude sitting in the recliner.

For we, the editors at IB18 are also aware of when a line is being stolen… we steal them all the time.

For those that may be wondering what we're onto, here are the lyrics to John Lennon’s posthumous release of “Nobody Told Me.”

Most peculiar, mama.

And the monkeys, this time, were admittedly not so funny.

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