Nationwide/Mini-Tours


Is it possible that Jerry Rice is worse at golf than Michael Jordan was at baseball?

In his second Nationwide Tour event, Jerry Rice fired a 92-82 at the BMW Charity Pro-Am. Two weeks ago, Rice shot an 83-76 in his debut Nationwide event. I briefly wrote about that train wreck here.

Yes, those scores are awful. But here’s the kicker, Rice was disqualified in his second event because his caddy used a yardage scope in the fairway. Are you kidding me? The Nationwide Tour should be embarrassed to let this guy use corporate sponsors. Are they that hard up for publicity?

If Rice was competing on some small regional mini tour, then that’s fine. But the Nationwide is a smidgen below the PGA Tour–these golfers are the real deal–so why taint that with some publicity stunt from a guy who couldn’t make a cut if he played in every tournament for five years?

Unbelievable.

You know Rice doesn’t belong on the Nationwide for the mere fact that he said he was pleased with a second round 76 during his debut tournament. Dude, if you’re happy with a 76 on the Nationwide Tour, you’ve got serious issues.

Thankfully, Rice was quoted in USA Today as saying, ““Because I can’t commit to golf the way I want to, this is probably my last Nationwide Tour event.” Let’s go ahead and eliminate that “probably”, Jerry. Save yourself the embarrassment, and keep the range finder in the bag, please.

This Rice debacle leads me to one question: Who was worse at their second sport…was it Rice at golf or Michael Jordan at baseball?

Talk amongst yourselves.

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83-76.

No, those aren’t my two rounds from a local amateur tournament, though my efforts would probably closely resemble that.

Image: Flowski/Flickr

That 159 two-round score was the product of former NFL Great and future hall-of-famer Jerry Rice, who missed the cut in his first professional tournament—the Fresh Express Classic on the Nationwide Tour.

Rice is just another on the long list of former athletes who thought they could make it in golf. Johnny Bench and Mike Schmidt tried. Michael Jordan has always talked about it. Few of them ever even make a cut.

The former San Francisco 49ers receiver got into the Nationwide Tournament on a sponsor’s exemption—of course,  finishing 151st in a 152 man field.

This was nothing more than a marketing ploy, obviously. When he’s quoted as being “happy” with a second round 76, you know he doesn’t belong on the Nationwide Tour, even on a sponsor’s exemption.

It would have been much more sensible for Rice to play on a smaller regional mini tour…in Portugal. Seriously. They have great golf in Portgual. Why not?

If Rice, 47, wants to practice a few years and give the Champions Tour a shot, then more power to him. But, Jerry, stay away from the Nationwide Tour. You’re being ridiculous.

If you’ve read much of this blog, you know I’m a diehard Georgia football fan. So when I read this story today, I thought it’s a perfect fit for my blog…or as my friend Byron puts it, perfect “fodder”.

tony-milton

Image: UGA Sports

Anyway, a former University of Georgia football player is making a run at pro golf. An oddly written, and strangely titled, article  in the Tallahassee Staff Democrat explains that former UGA running back Tony Milton is pursuing his dream of playing pro golf.

Ninety percent of my readers could probably care less about Georgia football, so hopefully I’m not alienating anyone. But it’s an interesting story: former college running back pursuing pro golf. If Milton actually has game, then it would be a great story down the line. But the article tells us nothing about Milton’s golf game; it focuses more on his football time at Georgia.

In what is the longest introduction in the history of journalism, we find out, in the last sentence of the article, that Tony has played in some Hooters Tour events and done “well.” Who knows what that means. The article sure doesn’t tell us.

Milton was Musa Smith’s backup at UGA. When I think of Milton, I think of the toss sweep play on 4th down against Tennessee in 2002 during Georgia’s SEC title run and near perfect season.

It was the play that clinched the game. And, without a doubt, was the loudest I’ve probably heard Sanford Stadium during one single play…that moment he got out into the open and we knew he had the first down.

Anyway, so there you have it, for what it’s worth. A former college football player pursuing his dream. The Hooters Tour, and mini tours in general, are as tough as ever right now. So Tony has his work cut out for him.

I have no idea just how good “well” is, but a 75 isn’t going to get you squat on the Hooters Tour. A 70 average isn’t going to get you squat. You gotta bring it. If I hear any more information about Tony’s pursuit, or just how legit this is, I’ll post it here.

– Went to a lesson over at Richland Country Club last week. Pretty impressed by the pro, Chris Cauthen. Having taken so much time off, I was worried he would just tell me to scrap everything, but fortunately that’s not the case. Few things I’m working on now… 1) standing a little more upright at address. 2) more of a shoulder turn to create more distance, which has always been a problem for me and 3) the most difficult change: I’ve got a bit of a dip on my downswing. My head and upper body tends to drop a bit as I swing downward. The club gets trapped and comes from too steep an angle, causing mishits on the toe and weak fades.  So, no better time to change the swing than when you are starting to play again. I’m hoping it’s easier to get lose the old habits, especially the dip, because that’s going to be the key to making my swing respectable. I’ll definitely be visiting Chris again in a month or so.

My short-term goal is to play, and compete, in some local and state amateur tournaments, beginning next spring. The first step is to get a handicap again, which I’m working on. I’m guessing I’ll be in the 6-7 range, but I’d like to get it down to a 1 or so again within the next year.

– Looks like Phil was just Phil again over the weekend, bogeying 3 of the last 4 to fade out of contention at the WGC Bridgestone. Not a great way to enter the PGA Championship week.  I was watching some of the swings over the weekend, and I’ve got to say that Lee Westwood’s swing is pretty freaking beautiful. So balanced and compact.  Just a great swing. On the other end, Vijay looks so wristy and awkward, but he gets the job done.

– Congrats to my old buddy Bryant Odom for winning the Georgia Open this past weekend.  Bryant shot 14 under to win by 5 shots at Barnsley Gardens in Adairsville.  I think he’s starting to come on and will hopefully make a good run at Q School this year, at least getting back on to the Nationwide. My most vivid memory of playing golf with Bryant was when he shot a course record, 60, at our home course at the time, Cartersville Country Club, about 10 or so years ago. 

– Last thought…a co-worker sent me this video about a five-year-old kid named Kyle Lograsso. Kyle is not only a golf prodigy with a beautiful little swing, he’s overcome eye cancer and plays the game with vision in only one eye.  Just amazing.