Hello Friends and Family,

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Common Cold

Well, this was a week of sneezing and coughing — yes, I caught a cold. Nothing serious but I have found the best thing for me to do is just take it easy for a few days, pop a few meds to reduce the symptoms, let my immune system work and I'll be back on my feet shortly. And I am back to about 90% of normal.

But if you are going to have a cold, the timing could not have been better for me. No major plans. And plenty of golf on TV. In fact, this week was the Accenture Match Play Championship. The reason this tournament is of interest is that only the top 64 ranked players in the world are invited — so you have the best golfers in the world — so you expect some good golf.

A second reason is that this tournament was just moved to a new course in the Tucson area — which gives a golf fan like myself an opportunity to see the best 64 golfers in the world live and in person. Now this is not a tournament like the Phoenix Open where 165,000 people show up on one day to watch — the number of tickets is strictly limited. Earlier I had investigated tickets and found them to be expensive. The price for the first few days was $50 — compared to $25 (or $20 if you know where to look) for the Phoenix Open. However, there were no single-day tickets for Saturday or Sunday — the days that would be most interesting to attend. If you wanted weekend tickets, you had to shell out $1250 for a full week pass! Too rich for my blood.

But serendipitously, my cold kept me at home anyway (not sure I would want to stand out in the cool (and Friday cold-rainy) weather when I'm sick). And since, I wanted to take it easy, I was able to lie in bed and watch the action while I healed.

Of course, the TV coverage focused on Tiger Woods. He had won seven straight PGA tournaments — which is pretty impressive — and was going for number eight. For you non-golfers, you should know that the record of 11 straight tournaments is held by the late, great Byron Nelson. So Tiger was on the hunt. And the TV hype was dripping from my television set.

The other thing you non-golfers must know is that this tournament is a match-play format. That means that two players are paired and compete on each hole — the golfer with the better score wins the hole. If they tie, they just on to the next hole. The player who wins the most holes wins the match. The loser goes home. So the first day of competition, there were 64 players in 32 matches — the winners move on to play the next day (where there are 32 players in 16 matches). Thus each day, half the field is eliminated — single elimination. This process continues until there are only two golfers left standing and they play for the championship.

The tough thing about match play is a single bad day or a single lucky shot by your opponent and you go home. Some really big name golfers went home after the first day. Some more on the second day. Then Tiger lost on the third day. He played poorly early then came back Tiger-style to tie. In fact, he had a chance to win on the first sudden-death hole and missed a four-foot putt. He did not notice a ball mark and it changed the direction of the ball. On the next hole, his opponent Nick O'Hern won the hole and thus the match — no more Tiger for this tournament — no more win streak.

There was also an LPGA tournament from Hawaii being played at Ko`olina (the Ladybug) on the leeward side of Oahu. This is my favorite course on Oahu — I try to play there every trip to Oahu.

What can I say — a heavenly golf course (in my favorite part of the world), talented female golfers and me with time to watch and savor the experience.

What is that old saying about inside every dark cloud there is a silver lining? My cold turned out that way for me — a great time to veg out and watch some great golf.

By Sunday, I was feeling a lot better and played golf with my golf-buddy, Pat, down at Casa Grande south of Phoenix. This course is part of the Francisco Grande Resort which was, at one time, the Spring Training home of the San Francisco Giants. The sun was bright with temps in the low 70's — chasing those last few germs out of my body (I hope).

Well, I've rambled on and on but there was one more bit of news this week. HP announced that they are terminating the old retirement plan — this was the defined benefit plan where the payout was determined by your years of service and the highest five years of salary. Previously they had kept this in place for older, longer-tenured employees while younger, newer employees had to depend on the 401K (with enhanced matching). For employees covered under the old plan, the benefit will be frozen and the new 401K plan is the basis of any future growth in their retirement payout.

At the same time, HP is offering a new early retirement incentive program for any affected employee. The company has not announced the details but several of my friends who felt they could not afford to take the previous offer are thinking quite seriously about this one. Anyone want to guess if this is the last one ever? Or at least the last generous one (assuming it is similar to the previous offering)?


Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com