Tuesday, October 13

PGATour.com: '10 Best Players to Never Win the Masters'

THIS CAUGHT MY EYE. Check out the above video for the PGA Tour's 10 best players without a Green Jacket. I've also listed them below.

1. Lee Trevino
2. Greg Norman
3. Johnny Miller
4. Hale Irwin
5. Nick Price
6. Ernie Els
7. Tom Kite
8. David Duval
9. Tom Weiskopf
10. Davis Love III

Do you agree with the list? Anyone else come to mind?

I thought of a few who might be long forgotten. One is Gene Littler. Another is Julius Boros. Lanny Wadkins and Curtis Strange are also Hall of Famers who could have won at Augusta. Ken Venturi got his heart broken at least twice there.

Finally, there's the man who started it all. Bobby Jones never won his own invitational.

Monday, October 12

The Happiest Haas of All

IF YOU'RE JAY HAAS, CAPTAIN of the U.S. President's Cup team, I don't know how things could have gone better in Korea. Maybe if the hosts knew how to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for your team. That's all I can come up with.

The Yanks squeaked by the Internationals on Sunday by a point, 15.5 to 14.5. There was drama, choking, clutch play, a little bit of everything. Some folks, including me, thought this one needed to be close and even suggested a win by the Internationals would help the Presidents Cup after so much American dominance.

Well, it was certainly close, which made the matches tense down the stretch, especially for players not used to the unique pressure that accompanies these international team events. In the end, the United States chalked up another victory and the Presidents Cup continues on, perhaps gaining a little more interest and respect, although I doubt it.

I expect the Presidents Cup is, and might always be, the domain of golf diehards.

Getting back to Captain Haas, in the words of Jackie Gleason, "How sweet it is!" Not only did his team hang tough under duress, his picks came through in a big way. And one of those picks was his own boy.

There was plenty of discourse at media outlets on using a captain's pick for the veteran of every Ryder Cup team and Presidents Cup team anyone can remember. I'm referring to Phil Mickelson, of course. I criticized that pick because Lefty hadn't come close to earning a spot with his sticks and I thought at some point it's time to move on and let the next generation lead the U.S. charge.

As it turned out, Phil played inspired golf in Korea and was, as always, full of passion and encouragement on the golf course and in the team room. His young teammates wanted him there. Without a doubt, he was a great pick. Mickelson and his captain deserve much credit.

Lastly, if you're Captain Haas, you saw your other pick, your own flesh and blood (aka Bill Haas), anchor the singles matches and clinch the Cup on the final hole.

"I'm so happy for the team," a choked-up Captain Haas told NBC's Roger Maltbie. "A great bunch of guys."

As a captain and a father, it doesn't get any better than that.

Friday, October 9

Can a Belt Help Your Golf Game?

By Charles Prokop

Copyright © Charles Prokop. Used with permission.

A POST AT THE ARMCHAIR GOLFER about the Hickok Belt reminded me of something I’ve wondered about: Can a belt help your golf game?

I've always thought a belt didn't do a lot more than hold up my pants, but I might be missing something here.

I was looking at the credits in Golf Digest (yeah, I'm one of those guys) and noticed that Phil Mickelson's belt cost $2,050. Now I'm all for someone spending whatever they want on whatever they want as long as they have the cash. Phil certainly has the cash and gives a huge amount of it away to charitable causes. If he wants to wear a belt that costs the same as a Dave Ramsey Special used car, he has my blessing.

But why?

I usually get my belts at Wal-Mart, and I get one about every two to three years when the old one finally wears out. They cost me around $10 and are reversible. I wear the same belt most every day. I won't claim the belt makes a fashion statement, but people aren't usually staring at my waist. (If they are, it's not my belt that I check. I try to find a subtle way to check my zipper.)

I figure I can have a lifetime supply of belts for less than that one belt of Phil's.

I may splurge next time and go for a belt that costs $25. I know I'll never play like Phil, but maybe that extra $15 will shave a stroke or so off my handicap.

It turns out the Hickok Belt was alligator, just like Phil's. So maybe there's a gator skin and sports performance link. Who knew?

Charles Prokop is a clinical psychologist who writes about golf at fairwaywords.

Thursday, October 8

VIDEO: Phil Being Phil at Presidents Cup


Mickelson's holeout for birdie at the par-3 13th gave him and Zach Johnson a 2-up lead on Jason Day and Steven Bowditch of the International team. The U.S. duo went on to win their foursomes match and the Americans won the first session of the Presidents Cup by a commanding margin of 4 to 1.

But is Lefty enjoying himself?

"This is the most fun we have all year," he said, "and to spend and share time with each other, to play with each other, it's just so enjoyable and I'm so appreciative to be on this team, to be a part of the team and now to be contributing with the points."

There you have it.

Day 2 Fourball Matches

The fourball matches begin Thursday night at 8:35 p.m. ET on Golf Channel. The Internationals have a lot of work to do.

Match 6: Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson (USA) vs. Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace (INT) 

Match 7: Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker (USA) vs. Sangmoon Bae and Danny Lee (INT)

Match 8: Zach Johnson and Phil Mickelson (USA) vs. Adam Scott and Jason Day (INT)

Match 9: Bubba Watson and J.B. Holmes (USA) vs. Marc Leishman and Steve Bowditch (INT) 

Match 10: Bill Haas and Chris Kirk (USA) vs. Charl Schwartzel and Thongchai Jaidee (INT)

Wednesday, October 7

Presidents Cup TV Schedule and Event Notes

The following edited content was supplied by Golf Channel in a news release.

NBC Sports Group will feature more than 25 hours of live event coverage of the Presidents Cup, the biennial international event being held this week at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea in Incheon, South Korea. Golf Channel will feature live, primetime and overnight coverage beginning Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET and continuing through early morning SundayGolf Central’s Live From the Presidents Cup will offer insight and analysis to preview and recap event coverage of the matches throughout the week. 

The Presidents Cup
Dates: Oct. 7-11
Venue: Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea, Incheon, South Korea

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Wednesday     10 p.m.-3 a.m. (Live) / 2-7 p.m. (Thursday replay)    
Thursday         8:30 p.m.-3 a.m. (Live) / 10 a.m.-3 p.m. (Friday replay)
Friday              6 p.m.-4 a.m. (Live) / 3:30-8:30 p.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday          9:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m. (Live) / 7 p.m.-1 a.m. (Sunday replay)

Tournament Airtimes on NBC (Eastern):
Saturday          Day Three Re-Air (Noon-3:30 p.m.)
Sunday            Final Day Re-Air (Noon-6 p.m.)

Broadcast Notes

Format: The biennial match play event will feature five foursomes matches contested on Day 1; five four-ball matches on Day 2, four morning foursomes and four afternoon four-ball matches on Day 3, and 12 singles matches on the Final Day. The total number of matches this year has been reduced from 34 to 30, and a team must earn 15 ½ points to win the Presidents Cup. Each player must compete in at least two of the four sessions of play prior to the singles matches on the final day.

United States Team: Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Jimmy Walker, Zach Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar, Chris Kirk, J.B. Holmes, Bill Haas and Phil Mickelson.

International Team: Jason Day (Australia), Louis Oosthuizen (South Africa), Adam Scott (Australia), Hideki Matsuyama (Japan), Branden Grace (South Africa), Marc Leishman (Australia), Anirban Lahiri (India), Charl Schwartzel (South Africa), Thongchai Jaidee (Thailand), Danny Lee (New Zealand), Steven Bowditch (Australia) and Sangmoon Bae (South Korea).

Golf Channel / NBC Broadcast Team:
Play by Play: Dan Hicks / Terry Gannon
Analyst: Johnny Miller / Frank Nobilo
Tower: Gary Koch / Peter Jacobsen / Tom Abbott / Curt Byrum (Days 1-2)
On-Course: Roger Maltbie / Notah Begay / Jerry Foltz / Curt Byrum (Day 3-Final Day)
Interviews: Steve Sands

Tuesday, October 6

Does the Presidents Cup Need a U.S. Loss?

THE UNITED STATES HAS WON EIGHT of 10 Presidents Cups. For the sake of the event, do the Americans need to tank this week in Korea? Do the Internationals need to get in the win column for a change? It would be their first victory since 1998.

Golf.com's Cameron Morfit suggested as much in his column.

"When the Presidents Cup began in 1994," Morfit wrote, "the idea was that the event would grow in stature every couple of years until it began to rival, at least a little, the Ryder Cup. Instead, the opposite has happened, with the Presidents Cup getting less and less relevant with every passing red, white and blue blowout."

Whether the Presidents Cup or the Ryder Cup, one-sidedness is definitely not a good thing. After a while, people think or say, "Who cares?" In fact, folks already say that about the Presidents Cup. ("Not interested in this fake Ryder Cup copy," said one Golf.com reader.)

On the plus side, two dozen of the world's best golfers will be facing each other in match-play formats this week, which has compelling possibilities, especially for the diehard golf fan. Two of those opposing players are golden boys Jordan Spieth and Jason Day. We would all like to see them go head to head at least once at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea.

Meanwhile, International Team Captain Nick Price understands the gravity for his side.

"I will tell you guys," Price said, "this is a really important Presidents Cup. I'm not going to say, 'What if?' But this better be closely contested. I'll let you guys figure out the repercussions."

Day just came out and said it: "Everybody knows we need to win."

U.S. captain's pick Phil Mickelson said, "I think this is going to be an extremely close, difficult match decided by one or two points."

That might help, especially if Day and his mates somehow pulled out a rare victory.

U.S. Team
Jay Haas (captain)
Jordan Spieth
Rickie Fowler
Dustin Johnson
Zach Johnson
Chris Kirk
Matt Kuchar
Patrick Reed
Jimmy Walker
Bubba Watson
J.B. Holmes
Bill Haas
Phil Mickelson

International Team
Nick Price (captain)
Jason Day
Adam Scott
Sangmoon Bae
Steve Bowditch
Branden Grace
Thongchai Jaidee
Anirban Lahiri
Danny Lee
Marc Leishman
Hideki Matsuyama
Louis Oosthuizen
Charl Schwartzel

Monday, October 5

The Twenty-Two Million Dollar Man

JORDAN SPIETH WON IT ALL in the 2014-2015 season, including $22,030,465. That's $22 million for a 22-year-old. Nice symmetry. On Friday, to no one's surprise, Spieth was named PGA Tour Player of the Year.

From PGATour.com:
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The PGA TOUR announced Friday Jordan Spieth as the PGA TOUR Player of the Year and Jack Nicklaus Award recipient, and Daniel Berger as PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year, as voted by the TOUR's membership for the 2014-15 season. 
PGA TOUR members who played in at least 15 official money events this past season were eligible to vote. The balloting process ended on October 1. 
The 22-year-old Spieth became the youngest PGA TOUR Player of the Year since Tiger Woods won the award at the age of 21 in 1997. 
"The PGA TOUR enjoyed a sensational season from every perspective as our young stars shone brighter than ever before, but none brighter than the PGA TOUR Player of the Year Jordan Spieth," said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. "He captivated us throughout a memorable year that included the FedExCup and five victories, highlighted by two major championships. And the sportsmanship he displayed in both victory and defeat was a stirring indication of the role model and ambassador he has become in a very short period of time."
Who's Hungriest?

The season started with Rory McIlroy on top, but that changed when Spieth won the Masters and U.S. Open. Rory missed the Open Championship as Spieth narrowly missed the playoff at the Old Course, where Zach Johnson prevailed. Then Jason Day made his incredible late-season spurt that included his first major victory, the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.

All of the above has sparked McIlroy.

"It's motivating to see what these guys [Spieth and Day] are doing," he told BBC Sport. "You want to work harder, hit more balls, and try to keep getting better."

Rory added: "It has definitely given me that sense of hunger again."

That's good for the Northern Irishman, but I can't imagine Spieth and Day easing off the accelerator, even after breakout seasons. They don't strike me as players who will lose their focus or rest on their laurels.

And there are others out there. Fowler showed more than promise with a couple of impressive wins. There's a lot of young talent and hunger on the PGA Tour, which bodes well for the coming season and this new era in golf.

Friday, October 2

Friday Golf Shot: Johnny Goodman

Johnny Goodman at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts.
(Courtesy of Boston Public Library, Lester Jones Collection, via Flickr)

JOHNNY GOODMAN WAS THE LAST AMATEUR to win the U.S. Open. Goodman won at Olympic Fields in 1933, edging Ralph Guldahl by a stroke. He had already made a name for himself. At the age of 19 Goodman beat Bobby Jones in the first round of the 1929 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach. Goodman later won the U.S. Amateur in 1937 and is credited with at least 60 tournament victories, according to Wikipedia.

The son of Lithuanian immigrants and orphaned when he was 14, Goodman grew up poor in Omaha, Nebraska, where today there is a golf course named after him.

Michael Blaine wrote a fine biography on Goodman published in 2006. It's called The King of Swings: Johnny Goodman, the Last Amateur to Beat the Pros at Their Own Game.