The Primary Cut
SFX meets PETA
It’s a good thing for Tripp Isenhour that we no longer run a ‘Nightmare Clients Of the Week’ column anymore. As you’ve probably already read, Isenhour, represented by John Mascatello and SFX Golf, faces misdemeanor criminal charges (up to 14 months in prison and $5,000, if convicted, per government sources) for his ‘one-in-a-million’ shot that ended up killing a protected migratory hawk at the Grand Cypress Resort in Florida (where a film crew had been busy filming an increasingly irate Isenhour for an instructional video, during which time the hawk began making loud, distracting noises).
Oddly, it took three months for this story to come out, though the details are still freshly sordid. According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer Brian Baine, Isenhour “got into a golf cart and drove closer to the bird and started hitting balls into the sky. When the hawk moved within about 75 yards, Isenhour allegedly said, ‘I’ll get him now,’ and aimed for the hawk. After getting closer and closer to hitting the bird and getting more excited, Isenhour hit the hawk and it fell to the ground and died.”
Much to do about nothing? Isenhour’s fellow pros certainly think so. “It’s a bad break for the bird, but it sounds like there are a lot of other things people should be worried about,” Mark Calcavecchia said later. Tour brass, as expected, took a more diplomatic route. PGA Tour executive VP Ty Votaw called the entire event “unfortunate,” right after the head of the Humane Society faxed Tour commissioner Tim Finchem a letter urging “appropriate remedial action against Isenhour up to and including fines and suspension.” Ultimately, the stiffest penalty Isenhour will pay will be from fans, and perhaps the loss of sponsors. As Michael Vick can attest, you don’t mess with animals and escape public wrath. Jail time, fine, or not, at the very least Isenhour is sure to go down in eternal infamy as a dumbass.
Daly, Butchie and Chucky
Another troubled SFX client, John Daly, got (another) wake-up call this week. Months after losing several key sponsors (TaylorMade, Maxfli, Hooters and 84 Lumber), Daly’s longtime friend and swing coach, Butch Harmon, said that he “was not going to waste his time with a two-time major champion who is more interested in drinking than working on his golf game.”
Daly meanwhile, without a Tour card, has been relying on the largesse of sponsors exemptions (including the ones he’s suing) with which to get by. Even Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden pitched in during last week’s PODS Championship, carrying Daly’s bag en route to a 77 and an 80. A few (dozen) brews at the tournament’s Hooters “Owl’s Nest” put out those flames, and Daly seemed happy as ever, even signing his name to the back of a woman’s pants. But for Harmon, the whole circus of it all was the final straw. “When things don’t go right (for John), it’s back to the alcohol stuff,” Harmon said. “I love this kid. He’s a tremendous talent. But if he’s not going to give 100 percent effort, it’s a waste of my time.” Even the commish seemed taken aback. “We’ve worked with John in the past, and we’ll continue to be available to work with him in the future regarding his issues,” Finchem muttered.
Speaking of time, Daly was a no-show this past Wednesday morning for the pro-am round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational automatically disqualifying him from the tournament itself (PGA Tour rules require those in the pro-am to participate or risk being ineligible for the event. And it applies to alternates, whose job it is to know where they are on the list and be prepared in case someone drops out). Another exemption gone. Another day in the life of John Daly.
Arjun Atwal: Back In The Fast Lane
Things are looking up for once-Nightmare client Arjun Atwal (pictured), represented by Bobby Kreusler and Blue Giraffe Sports. Atwal joined the PGA Tour in 2003 as its first Indian-born player, but lost his card after failing to finish in the top 125. While he was later implicated in a lingering investigation for his role in a fatal car crash that saw the Indian pro getting his ‘Fast and the Furious’ on, Atwal was finally cleared of all charges by Florida prosecutors this past week. Meanwhile, things are improving on the course for Atwal as well. Atwal won the Malaysian Open this past Sunday, and finished second on the Nationwide Tour’s Panama Movistar Championship in January. Asked about his improved play, Atwal credited practice rounds with none other than Tiger Woods.
World’s number-one Lorena Ochoa “likes the way she’s started” 2008, and who wouldn’t? Ochoa cruised in the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore by 11 strokes over second-place finisher Annika Sorenstam, relegating the Swede to “Phil Mickelson status” in the process. Yahoo! Sports Josh Peter weighed in with a nice piece on “the real Lorena,” which features comments from ex-agent Rocky Hambric. Ochoa, at the request of her one-time caddy and brother Alejandro Ochoa, left Hambric in 2005, turning over to him control of her business affairs. Alejandro now oversees Ochoa Sports Management, Ochoa Golf Academy and the Lorena Ochoa Foundation. “He also works hard to protect and shape her public image, and frequently erects a wall that separates the private Lorena from the media,” writes Peter.
Speaking of Rocky Hambric, rumors are swirling that stud client, Anthony Kim, has either jumped ship, or may in fact be in the process of doing so. Hambric Sports Management has been a long time player in the golf management game, and even ‘expanded’ in a way in 2002, when CSS, a British sports-management and marketing company, acquired a minority stake in Hambric. As part of the deal, Hambric became CEO of Stellar Golf, CSS’ golf-management business in North America and Europe. Where could Kim be headed? The smart money, as always, says IMG. If true, one would hope the latest Hambric ‘divorce’ ends a bit more amicably than the last one, when Rocky went to court against IMG and his former client, Charles Howell III.
* The annual Golf Digest Top 50 tracks the leaders in total (on-course plus off-course) income. Remember that their agents don’t make a dime of on-course income, but may make upwards of twenty-percent to one-quarter of their off-course contracts. Do the math on some of these guys.
* More great college golf coverage from Golf World’s Campus Insider Ryan Herrington, including analysis of the recent Stacy Lewis-Amanda Blumenherst duel that I’m guessing had a few prospective agents/managers in attendance.
* Nice piece by The Chicago Tribune’s Ed Sherman regarding Ernie Els, who told Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press that his five-year old son Ben is autistic. The next person who goes on a cliched rant about Els being preoccupied psychologically by thoughts of finishing-second to Tiger Woods should maybe think a little deeper.
* Callaway Golf introduced a stylish, Fall 2008 golf line for women. Pebble Beach meets Paris.
* TaylorMade-Adidas Golf and the Royal Canadian Golf Association announced a new three-year agreement in which TMAG will become the official golf equipment and apparel partner of the RCGA.