Morning briefing

Times Staff Writer

Hazards are par for this course

Despite its location -- a war zone -- the nine-hole Crossed Swords Golf Course in Baghdad is popular among military personnel looking for a golf fix.

The 479-yard layout is closed in by 15-foot concrete blast walls and has dirt "greens," and the holes are emptied baked beans cans sunk into the ground.

There is only one sand trap -- and who would have guessed that? -- but plenty of other hazards: The threat of incoming rockets and mortar is ever present and bursts of gunfire interrupting backswings are far more prevalent than camera clicks at PGA Tour events.

"I would challenge Tiger Woods to a round at the Green Zone course any day," wrote Bradley Brooks of the Associated Press. "Just to see how his steely concentration would hold up when the mortar alarm blares: 'Incoming! Incoming! Take cover!' and shells land nearby."

Trivia time

Since 1986, only two players from Eastern Conference teams have won the NBA most-valuable-player award. Michael Jordan won it five times. Who was the other?


Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Tribune wrote that the Chicago White Sox clubhouse inflatable doll controversy has gotten out of hand. His reasoning: There were no women in the clubhouse when the dolls were on display.

"If two inflatable dolls are in a clubhouse and no one is around to be offended, did it really happen?" Morrissey wrote.

Besides, he wrote, the White Sox have bigger problems -- such as their league-worst .232 batting average.

"Do you want to know the saddest part of the Great Blowup-Doll Scandal of 2008?" Morrissey wrote. "It's that the hitting-challenged White Sox tried to seduce the two female inflatable sex toys and struck out."


Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer, a 22-year major league veteran, won in his 558th career start Monday by throwing a steady diet of low-80s fastballs.

He defeated rookie Max Scherzer of the Arizona Diamondbacks, who was reaching 98 mph with his fastball during his first major league start.

It prompted reporters to ask Moyer what he hit on the radar gun in his 1986 major league debut.

"Back then, I don't think they had radar guns," Moyer said.

Lingering Bonds

Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle recently consulted a feng shui expert to try to pinpoint the cause of Giants pitcher Barry Zito's struggles.

Deborah Gee noted that Zito's locker is in the same row formerly occupied by Barry Bonds and called a pillar near Zito's locker "an obstacle to success."

She also said that Zito and Matt Cain, who now occupies Bonds' former locker, could be suffering from "predecessor chi," which is "bad energy left behind."

Sign of the times

A Tennessee man is facing obscenity charges after he allegedly displayed a sign that read "[Expletive] You, Fulmer" on a car parked in his driveway.

But it turns out the offender has nothing against Tennessee football Coach Phillip Fulmer, who was on the hot seat in 2006 but led his team to the Southeastern Conference title game and an Outback Bowl victory last season.

The Chattanoogan newspaper reported that the sign was directed at a Tennessee police officer named Fulmer.

Trivia answer

Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers in 2001.

And finally

A new LPGA rule that prohibits caddies from standing on the practice putting greens from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at tournaments was instituted reportedly after players who were involved in a putting competition complained to the commissioner about overcrowding.

It's not going over well with everyone, though.

"You know what? It's women," Juli Inkster said. "If you just put that down, everyone will know what you mean. Just capitalize 'women' and you don't need to explain anything else."


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