Corning Classic 2005-Corning NY

My player this week is Natalie Tucker.

My computer crapped out again and will be sent in for repairs. A big thanks to Wilksie for the use of his new Dell Inspiron 700m.

Sunday: Made it in time for the pro-am party and shot the bull with a few players. Good food and plenty of drink vouchers made it a pleasant evening. The blind draw had me paired with Joellyn Erdman-Crooks starting on the 12th hole.

Monday: Arrived early for breakfast then headed for the staging area to meet my team. They didn’t seem to pleased to find out I haven’t played since 1996, in that year’s pro-am, but it’s a team event and I was wasn’t too concerned. I was on the winning team in 1997 and had played only six times in the last four years.

Getting Ready to Go

The forecast was for cold, wet and dreary but as usual, it was wrong. No rain and thank the golf gods for that. I was thinking of calling in Fred, last year’s runner-up, if it was dumping. 

Our team was on fire but I wasn’t helping much till we reached number one. It’s a longish par four and I birdied it on my own ball ( all of my shots were used). Then I canned a down-hiller for eagle on number two and fished it off with a tee ball on the 195 yard third within ten feet. That was it for me. Trying to come out of my shoes all day left me with same aching muscles in places I haven’t felt before.

With three to play we were -15 but just ran out of gas. Two pars coming in had us at -16 the same total the last time I played. Unfortunately, it was one shot shy of the winning score.

Knowing we at least had a 2nd or 3rd locked up (they compare cards starting at the 18th and work backwards) we sat for lunch and waited to see what we won.  There were prizes for the fourth place on up but to our surprise, our team was never mentioned! Seems they misplaced our scorecard and we were left out. Joellyn quickly drew the attention of Donna Wilkens, the event organizer, and she admitted the mistake. We should have had sole possession of second place and awarded a digital camera as our prize. The cameras went to Nicole Jeray’s team (my partner in ’96) and a TV to Kate Golden’s for winning it all. Usually only the amateurs win the prizes but here, the pros cash-in also. Embarrassed, and not wanting to snatch the prizes from the amateurs as they left, rectification was promised.

The Team: George, Larry, Dan, Joellyn Charlie and Stephanie

Tuesday: Natalie wasn’t due to arrive till 6:30 PM from a pro-am in Mississippi so I walked the course and helped out with the closest to the pin contest. Jay Rothenberger had the early lead with just under 5 feet but Heather Drew bested it with a shot of 3′ 8″. Caddie after caddie attempted to knock her out  to no avail. With the deadline of  5 PM approaching, Ken Struckman (Rollo) finally found a club worthy of his expertise, he’s a teaching pro in Connecticut, and gave it a go. Some sort of wedge was his weapon of choice but his first attempt failed miserably, well short of the green. Letting his ego get the best of him, he refused to take more stick and , as Emeril would say, kick it up a notch, hammered  the same club landing it above the hole. Seemingly out of the wining range, it started to reverse course. Slowly creeping back towards the hole, as if on a journey of destiny, it finished a mere 3′ 4″  and a new winner of The Talkin Jim Contest was crowned.

Presenting The Winner

Ken (Rollo) Struckman

If your interested, the best I could do was 21′ and will take another year off from golf.

Natalie arrived when she said she would and we headed out on the course. Only had time to see nine holes so we decided on the front. Corning is the most compact track we play so it was an easy go. This is another course that needs to be seen. It’s tough just to follow your caddie’s recommendations on blind faith.

Sunset as We Finished

Wednesday: It was a scheduled 8 AM shotgun start for the pro-am so we arrived before six and headed out on the back. Didn’t hit any shots due to a lack of warm-up but chipped, putted and decided on strategy. This lay-out takes the driver out of Natalie’s hands on most holes due to it’s lack of length and tight fairways. You score here by taking advantage of the short par 5’s and keeping your birdie putts below the hole. 

  • To give you an idea how difficult last week’s greens were, Saturday’s round had a field of 76 players and the 12th hole played 68 over par (including an eagle) and the 16th 40 over. OUCH!
  • You may see a few hot tempers flair up among the ladies but it’s not just reserved for the LPGA. Gary Lukash (Hound Dog), working on the Nationwide Tour last week in Richmond, heard Mike Spoza snapped the shafts on his three through pitching wedge in the parking lot after his round. He finished double, birdie, bogey to miss the cut by one. His caddie managed to save the rest of the set for a later time.
  • A rules meeting was held and and only four of us showed up. Bunker situations were coved and then opened to all other rules questions.

Chip Wall Quizzing Rules Official Robert O. Smith

Thursday: A clear cool morning turned pleasant and breezy making club selection a difficult task. We started off a bit slow but managed to get it back to plus one with three to play. The seventh hole, our 15th, is a two tiered  uphill par three with the pin on the back level today. In between seven and eight we opted with the seven since the win was hurting. Wrong choice! Natalie yanked it left into the parking lot. I think it wound up at the corner of Market and Main in downtown Corning! That cost us a triple and spoiled what would have been a reasonable round. Need to go low tomorrow.

OB Territory

  • A bad back seems to have sidelined our beloved “Barbie”. Danielle Amiee will not be playing Corning.

  • Ex players all all the rage in the caddie shack this week. Vicki Odegard is working for Laurel Kean and Nicki Larue is looping for Penny Hammel.

  • Speaking of the caddie shack, it has one of the best locations on tour. Situated tween the 10th tee and the 15th tee, we we get to see quite a bit of the action and comment on the like.

The 10th Tee As Seen From The Caddie Shack

  • I reported in Atlanta that Amy Fruwirth has decided to retire. Wrong! She’s playing this week.

  • Diana D’Alessio shot a stellar -5 in the Monday qualifier but reversed it today with a +5 today. Had to feel like a lot higher.

  • Corning is a super venue except for one bug-a boo. The bugs! Every year at this time they’re out in force. Flying into any available orifice at the least opportune moment. The main defense is rubbing  a Bounce dryer sheet onto the underside of your cap or visor and wear it in the back. Bully demonstrates below.

  • Looks like they’re gong to make good on our 2nd place finish in the Dresser-Rand Pro-Am. The camera is in the mail or will be shortly.

  • All the time off I had on Tuesday gave me a chance to take some snaps as everyone passed the caddie shack. Here are a few samples.

Cindy Rarick and Chip Wall

Christian Kim Toting Her Own Sack

Louie Paolini Getting A Smack From Kate Golden

Gary (Hound Dog) Lukash and Wayne Ueida Working The Closest To The Pin Contest

Keith Kennedy and His Loop, Diana D’Alessio

Friday: A major rain delay (boomers) found the afternoon groups still on the course at day’s end. We need to blitz our remaining five holes to make the cut.

  • Seems preferential treatment for Annika extends all the way to the driving range. Corning has the smallest range on tour and after the rain delay space is at a premium. The practice area is closed till the dangerous condition passes so all the players were lining up by the caddie shack for the OK to head for the range. Annika strolled down, sighed a few autographs and headed for the range. As soon as she gets there the all clear is given and the practice facilities are opened. Think she got a heads-up to get there early?

  • Two blasts on an air horn signals the resumption of play and rules official Sue Witters let Kate Golden perform the honors.

  • I’ve mentioned this on the LPGA message boards and I’ll say it again, Corning is the best spectator course on tour bar none. Many holes crisscross at the clubhouse and a short walk lets you view many of the tees and greens.

  • Chris Tamulis was a little lacking in her preparation for today’s round. She ran out of gas on her way to the course but was picked up by another player. Didn’t seem to affect her play though, she currently stands at -3.

  • New York is a “clicket or ticket” state and Angie Rizzo’s caddie, Pete, found out the hard way. The quarter mile trip to the laundromat this morning cost him a citation.

  • A trip to play a practice round at the Weber Golf Course in Rochester on Wednesday ( US Open qualifier) cost Maggie Will and Leslie Spalding dearly. Their car was broken into and many personal items were stolen. Unfortunately. credit cards and checks and Palm Pilots were included.

  • Taylor Made provides a repair trailer for the LPGA for most tournaments but this may come to an end. On their way to the next event, the trailer caught on fire on I81 just South of Binghamton NY. By the time he was hailed down by another truck driver, the fire was well on it’s way and the truck could not be disconnected from the trailer. Both burned to the ground and tied up traffic for three hours.

  • Rico Higashio learned that you never trust anyone else to ID your ball. The ninth hole boarders the diving range and her her first round tee ball was headed that way. A volunteer indicated it as OK and pointed out it’s location. Rico played the ball to the green but then realized it was a range ball instead. After another search, her original ball was found on the range which is OB. Add two for playing the wrong ball and back to the tee for a replay. She took an eight and looks like she’ll miss the cut by one.

  • Christina Kim received a new golf bag this week and looks like her dad won’t be surgically removing the handle this time. See the Caddie Corner for Palm Springs.

  • A dilemma faces Rollo after winning the Closest to the Pin Contest. He was planning to retire after this season to run his new acquisition, The Golf Training Center of Norwalk CT. The rule states he must be on tour next season to participate. The deal doesn’t finalized till November but a letter of intent has been signed.

Saturday: We were the ones that got blitzed. Three over was the cut and we didn’t even sniff it. Off to A.C. to work for A. J. Eathorne.

  • Amy Alcott must have a big pair of brass ones to call Rick Reid to see if he’s looking for work next week. Earlier in the year she hired him for Vegas, withdrew and failed to make good on her commitment. He was stiffed on the paycheck and couldn’t find another bag. I wouldn’t be surprised if she pulls that on someone else.

  • Sitting around after this morning’s play jogged a few memories of days gone by. Jeff Steffler recalled the time he spent working for Elaine Crosby and, after a less than stellar performance on his part, described him as “A pull-cart with a penis”! That spawned uproarious laughter from the other caderos.

  • One last group photo from earlier in the week.

Joe, Andy, Louie, Verne and Gary

(Einstein, Opie, Louie The Lip, Fred and Hound Dog)

Verne is Fred cause, for the longest time, everyone was getting his name wrong. He finally objected and demanded to know “Who the f–k is Fred”? Also, I think that’s as close to a smile as Louie can get. Good enough for a mug shot though.

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