Tommy Bahama Challenge is lighthearted fun - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Tommy Bahama Challenge is lighthearted fun

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Posted: Thursday, November 3, 2005 9:44 am | Updated: 8:42 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Gary McCord and David Feherty form the irreverent onetwo punch at CBS Golf. They’re also the captains for the American and International squads when the Tommy Bahama Challenge at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale tees off Tuesday.

So how have the game’s Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum prepared for this latest clash of young guns that include Ben Crane, Zach Johnson, Arron Oberholser and Ryan Moore for the Americans, and Tim Clark, Kevin Na, Geoff Ogilvy and Justin Rose for the Internationals?

"Funny you should ask that,’’ McCord quipped. "Feherty just emailed me yesterday and it was like, ‘Who have I got (on my team), anyway?’ ’’

That might be funny if it weren’t true. Even McCord is slightly unfamiliar with his troops.

"Yeah, it’s terrible pressure to have to keep track of everyone,’’ he said of his four-man squad.

For the record, the Americans are the defending champs after winning last year’s inaugural TBC in a playoff after both teams each won two matches. But unlike last year’s competition, in which each match was determined by total strokes, this will be strictly match play in its purest form.

Oberholser, who like Clark and Ogilvy lives in Scottsdale, said the new format is good for this "Gong Show"-like exhibition, which will be taped and aired on CBS come Jan. 2.

"True match play is much more exciting for television, because you can blow a few holes and it won’t cost you the match, whereas it would if you were playing medal play,’’ Oberholser explained. "Plus, I think match play is better to watch from a risk-reward standpoint, because whoever trails is going to take some chances.’’

Of course, the biggest risk was inviting back McCord and Feherty, since they determine who will play whom. Dangerous, when your last competition came on the Champions Tour.

"Actually, I think David will be a better captain this year than he was last year,’’ McCord reasoned. "He’s lost a small child off his body — about 50 pounds — since he got off the Bushmills (Irish whiskey), which is a very vile drink, indeed.’’

Seriously, what other international golf competition places the captains center stage? Only the Tommy Bahama Challenge, where the players must adhere to the clothing manufacturers’ mantra that "Life is one long weekend.’’ The TBC starts with a pairings party on Sunday night, has a proam on Monday plus another party that evening, and then the competition on Tuesday beginning at 10 a.m. before the start of the postgame party.

And if you think that’s way too much "Old School,’’ well, Tommy Bahama also has a one-word slogan: "Relax.’’

"Actually, I think this one is going to be better than ever because, on paper, who knows who is going to be better?’’ mused McCord, who always has been the game’s wacky professor despite Feherty’s intrusions.

"Sure, they’ve got Justin Rose and . . . Who else? And we’ve got Arron Oberholser, who hasn’t played since the PGA (Championship) because of an injury. Mr. Crane, a good kid although I’ll probably have to prod him a bit — he’s a little slow.

"Zach Johnson, who hasn’t won in a while but is a nice guy. And Ryan Moore, who will be the next player on Tour to be ordained.’’ If the truth be known, McCord probably couldn’t care less who wins, as long as he and Feherty produce the laughs and they both get paid. And, no, it won’t be from either the winners’ or losers’ shares ($100,000 per player vs. $70,000 per

player).

"After winning last year, I did get a raise,’’ McCord deadpanned. "This year, I get two beers instead of one, even more clothes from Tommy than I got last year, and everything I can steal out of the pro shop at Grayhawk.’’

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