Wednesday, October 31

‘Keep Your Job’ Week on the PGA Tour

(Russ Glasson/Flickr)

Today may be Halloween -- Boo! -- but this whole week is scary for certain PGA Tour pros. It’s “Keep Your Job” Week on the PGA Tour. Or for the glass-half-empty types, “Lose Your Job” Week.

The top 125 on the money list after this week’s Children’s Miracle Network Classic in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, will keep their Tour cards. The rest will spend the winter wondering where and when they’ll play next year.

At No. 125 on the money list, Ted Purdy is the final week’s Bubble Boy. Purdy has racked up more than three-quarters of a million in earnings this year. A lot, but not quite enough. Ted’s job is in jeopardy. He blames himself.

“Never was I worried about keeping my card until the last couple of weeks. I’ve played my way into this situation,” Purdy told the scribblers.

Hopefully, Ted can hang on. Of course, if he does it will mean some other Tour pro will not be playing the top circuit next year.

The Armchair Golfer

Monday, October 29

I’m Going to the Ryder Cup

The notification came in the mail on Saturday. By random drawing, I was awarded two daily grounds tickets for the Wednesday practice round at the 37th Ryder Cup at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky.

It wasn’t my first choice. I applied for two week-long tickets. I didn’t even remember my backup selection. I’m not complaining, though. It’s the Ryder Cup, after all.

I guess I’d be a fool not to go. One of the reasons I applied for the random drawing is because I have family I can stay with in nearby Jeffersonville, Indiana. Maybe I can come up with some extra tickets. I’d love to see at least one day of the actual competition.

I like the trip, too. It’s a scenic drive across I-64 from my Virginia home to Louisville. Lush Virginia and West Virginia mountains followed by the foothills of eastern Kentucky and the rolling bluegrass and horse farms surrounding Lexington.

I’ve won the golf lottery twice in the last few months. First, it was four practice round tickets to the Masters at Augusta National. And now a pair of practice round tickets to the Ryder Cup at Valhalla.

I like the way 2008 is shaping up.

The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, October 27

Luke Swilor's Q School Diary: Stage 1, Day 4

(Photo courtesy of Luke Swilor)




Canadian Tour player Luke Swilor's second PGA Tour Q School run ended yesterday at Stage 1 at Dayton Valley Country Club in Dayton, Nevada. Following is Luke's final diary entry.



Stage 1, Day 4

The weather starting the day was perfect to make a comeback: cold and windy. I was feeling good about the day, and I hit two good shots into 10 (my first). Missing the six-foot birdie putt was a sign of things to come.

I then hit a good drive on the par-five 11th, but failed to make birdie. Bogey, bogey, double on the next three pretty much took me out of the game.

I tried to keep my chin up the rest of the way in. After such a bad stretch of holes, that can be tough, especially realizing what was lost. I managed to play decent on the front nine, but still ended with a 76.

The other scores showed just how perfect a day it was to make up ground. The qualifying number actually came down two shots, and ended up at -5.

The opportunity was there, but I didn't take it.

So here we are. It really is crushing to go home after a week like this. Really tough. There are a lot of good players who go home every year with this same feeling.

Getting over this can only make me tougher, but still...

Next year.

−Luke Swilor

More Luke Swilor:
Q School Preview
My May interview with Luke
Luke on the Canadian Tour
His blog, Luke Swilor's Road to the Tour

Friday, October 26

Luke Swilor's Q School Diary: Stage 1, Day 3

(Photo courtesy of Luke Swilor)




Canadian Tour player Luke Swilor has begun his second PGA Tour Q School run with Stage 1 at Dayton Valley Country Club in Dayton, Nevada. Follow along as Luke provides his diary entries.



Stage 1, Day 3

I didn’t play bad today. I didn’t play all that good, either. EVERY hard shot I had, I hit good. It was some of the easier shots I messed up. You’re not going to score well if you mess up the easy ones.

A bad drive on 10 (my first) cost me a bogey. I came back, though, and made birdie on 11 and 12. Nice. I floundered around for a bit after that. Hitting solid shots, nothing special, but solid. I wasn’t making anything, but in control.

Then out of nowhere I three putted on 2 (my 11th). Back to even. Next I made par on the easy par-5 3rd. I got a bit of a bad break on my drive, and I couldn’t get up and down. Missed opportunity. Then I failed to get up and down from the fringe on 6.

At this point, I’m starting to get really nervous. I don’t really know why, but I did. I haven’t been too nervous on the course this week, which is a bit odd, but once the tournament was beginning to look out of grasp, I felt it. The final three holes on the front nine are tough, and I’m about to knock myself out of Tour School.

The pressure seemed to bring my game around. I made a good birdie on the tough 7th, then hit two great shots onto the par-5 8th green. I missed the 12 foot putt, but made another birdie. I hit four very solid shots on the tough 9th as well, for a solid par. And a saved round. 71, -1, -2 for the tournament.

Well, I thought I had saved it. Scores were LOW today, though, so I’ve left myself in a tough position. The qualifying number actually moved to -7 today. The weather is supposed to get worse tomorrow, which should push scores up. Still, the number is now going to fall from -7 to -9 (most likely -8). So I have to shoot a very good round to have a chance.

I need birdies, and less mistakes. I’ve learned a lot this week. I may expand upon this later, but in this type of situation you tend to learn more than during a normal tournament. I don’t think I learned as much last year. I have a tough task tomorrow, but I feel like I’m ready for it. My game is better than it has been the last two months, so I’m ready to shoot a good score.

−Luke Swilor

More Luke Swilor:
Q School Preview
My May interview with Luke
Luke on the Canadian Tour
His blog, Luke Swilor's Road to the Tour

Thursday, October 25

Luke Swilor's Q School Diary: Stage 1, Day 2

(Photo courtesy of Luke Swilor)




Canadian Tour player Luke Swilor has begun his second PGA Tour Q School run with Stage 1 at Dayton Valley Country Club in Dayton, Nevada. Follow along as Luke provides his diary entries.



Stage 1, Day 2

My ball striking definitely came around today. There are still some issues, mainly with my 3-wood tee shots, but I’m now back to hitting some great iron shots. A lot of them, actually.

So I had the ball close to the hole quite often. I didn’t make any putts though. After three straight birdies on my front nine, I missed a short putt for par after a great chip. I didn’t hit a good putt, and I really wish I had that shot back.

On my back nine, I gave myself quite a few chances. I only converted one. I was hitting solid putts, but my reads were just a fraction off. Pretty frustrating to finally start hitting it good, and not being able to take advantage.

I made a really good up and down on 9 to end up with a -2 70. That leaves me at -1 after two days, with the qualifying number sitting at -4. So the final number is looking to be -7 or -8. The way I’ve started hitting the ball, that number is by no means too far off.

One more thing. I need to take advantage of the par 5’s the next two days. All four are reachable, but I’m only -1 on them with just one birdie. That is a leak I can’t afford anymore.

−Luke Swilor

More Luke Swilor:
Q School Preview
My May interview with Luke
Luke on the Canadian Tour
His blog, Luke Swilor's Road to the Tour

Wednesday, October 24

Luke Swilor's Q School Diary: Stage 1, Day 1

(Photo courtesy of Luke Swilor)




Canadian Tour player Luke Swilor has begun his second PGA Tour Q School run with Stage 1 at Dayton Valley Country Club in Dayton, Nevada. Follow along as Luke provides his diary entries.



Stage 1, Day 1

It was a tough night before the first round. I felt fine until about 2 am. I woke up, and all the sudden I felt the weight of this tournament. Everything is scarier at night, so it is a bad time to start thinking about the biggest tournament of the year. I managed to get back to sleep, but the morning was more of the same. I left to go to the course 30 minutes early just to be safe. What a kook.

Once I got to the course, I started to feel comfortable again. The golf course has always been the place where I've been most at ease. The pressure on the first tee was there, but it helped get me focused more than anything.

I got off to a solid start, but I never gave myself any chances at birdie. I didn't hit it good enough, so I had way too many 25-foot birdie putts. When I missed a green, my short game was solid. That is a very good sign. I had a lot of putts melt across the edge, too. A couple of those go in, and I shoot a good score. I was able to avoid big mistakes, but I never put myself in a position to get any shots back. So, it was a 73 today. 70 was the “qualifying number” today, but there's a lot of golf left.

My ball striking has not been very good lately. I'm getting closer to fixing that, though, so I think my scores will come down as the week progresses. Every session on the range gets me closer to the groove I'm looking to get in. I'm not worried right now; I just need to make some birdies.

Based on today, the qualifying number would be 280, -8. It's way to early to tell, but I see the number falling anywhere from -5 to -9. The weather is supposed to stay pretty good, but if that changes scores will go up. As long as I start to play the golf I'm supposed to be playing, I'll be just fine.

Ready to fight it out.

−Luke Swilor

More Luke Swilor:
Q School Preview
My May interview with Luke
Luke on the Canadian Tour
His blog, Luke Swilor's Road to the Tour

Monday, October 22

Luke Swilor's Q School Diary: Stage 1 Eve

(Photo courtesy of Luke Swilor)



Canadian Tour player Luke Swilor begins his second PGA Tour Q School run tomorrow with Stage 1 at Dayton Valley Country Club in Dayton, Nevada. Follow along as Luke provides his diary entries.



Stage 1 Eve

It’s that time of year again. Make or break. Last year was my first year of Tour School. I played solid golf, eight straight rounds of par-or-better golf, but ended up missing the number by one at first stage.

Bummer.

This year, I go into the tournament in a bit of a slump (similar to last year, actually). After finishing up on the Canadian Tour, I just don’t think I’ve played enough golf. Scoring has become more difficult than it usually is for me, and my results have shown that. I’ve been working hard, though, and I’m looking forward to a good week.

The course (Dayton Valley CC) fits me well. The elevation and turf are the same as Salt Lake, so there is no adjustment to be made. The greens are hard and fast, just how I like it. They’re pure, too. Hit a good putt and it goes in. No worries. My putting stroke is always a little smoother when the greens are this good.

I played very good in practice round number one. Much better than I’ve been playing. I had control of the ball, something that’s been missing. So far so good.

Tour School brings out some strange feelings in the best of us. We’ll see about this year, but I was shocked with the amount of pressure I felt last year. It sneaks up on you, too. Starting with the “Pre-qualifier,” I felt fine all week…until the night before the first round. The magnitude of the tournament came up on me out of the blue. It got hard to sleep. By the time I got to the first tee, it was a shake-a-thon. The pressure kept ramping up all the way through the final putt of the fourth round. I made it through, and I only had 14 more rounds to go. Wow.

The first stage was very similar. Same tournament eve blast of emotions, same first tee jitters. The only difference is that I was coming from behind the last day instead of trying to hold my position. Still, the world was on my shoulders, and it was a serious grind until the last putt. My twenty-foot birdie putt on the last hole was good enough to fall one man short of advancing. ONE MAN. One missed shot from just one of the six guys who finished one in front of me, and I’m in.

Crushing, really, but a few less mistakes from me and I advance (okay, one less mistake).

How will I feel this year?

I don’t know. The stakes are the same. Sure, I’ve been here before, but I haven’t been back again. This year I know what it’s all about. But is that a blessing or a curse? I tend to think that the experience will dull the emotions, especially early on in the week. In my eyes it’s definitely good to have one try under my belt, but I haven’t been here a second time, so we will have to see.

One thing I am sure of is that I am extremely excited, and extremely motivated. Golf tends to turn around very quickly, often at unexpected times. I’m looking forward to a turnaround this week. Everything will change if I get hot now.

−Luke Swilor

More Luke Swilor:
Q School Preview
My May interview with Luke
Luke on the Canadian Tour
His blog, Luke Swilor's Road to the Tour

Sunday, October 21

Oops! Armchair Golf Misquotes Jane Austen

“To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon golf is the most perfect refreshment.”
(not said by) Jane Austen

Biographical note: Jane Austen was an English novelist.

This misquote brought to you by The Armchair Golfer.
Getting it wrong for the love of the game.

Wednesday, October 17

Coming Soon: Luke Swilor’s Q School Diary

(Photo courtesy of Luke Swilor)



Beginning next Monday on the eve of his first stage, Canadian Tour player Luke Swilor will contribute his daily observations as he starts the juggernaut known as the PGA Tour Q (Qualifying) School.


John Feinstein, author of Tales from Q School, refers to it as the fifth major. Indeed it is. In fact, you have to qualify in the “fifth” major to get your PGA Tour card in hopes that someday you’ll have the chance to play in the other four majors.

A hearty thanks to Luke for agreeing to chronicle his “Quest for the Card” here.

Two Stages Plus Finals

I didn’t exaggerate when I called it a juggernaut. To get your card, you have to survive two stages and a six-round (108 holes) finals tournament. Some also have to make it through a pre-qualifier. Hundreds enter Q School. Only 40 get PGA Tour cards.

As an exempt Canadian Tour player, Luke bypassed the pre-qualifier. His first stage will be at Dayton Valley Country Club next Tuesday through Friday (October 23-26).

“I went there last year, and the course fits my game,” Luke said in an email. “It’s similar conditions to Salt Lake.”

A University of Utah grad, Luke hails from Sandy, Utah. Last year Luke missed getting to the second stage by a single shot. He carded his best score in the final round, a 69.

This year’s second stage of Q School will take place at six locations on November 14-17. The finals are in Winter Gardens, Florida, on November 28 through December 3.

But first stage first. That’s the way Luke will be playing it. Follow him here, beginning Monday.

More Luke Swilor:
My May interview with Luke
Luke on the Canadian Tour
His blog, Luke Swilor's Road to the Tour

The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, October 16

More Golf Tidbits from Author John Coyne

Not long ago I published a Q&A with John Coyne, author of The Caddie Who Knew Ben Hogan. You can read it here.

John provided thorough and interesting answers, so I did what any content-greedy golf blogger would do -- I saved some. Below are two more of John’s responses.

Plus, you can read about four of his favorite golfers at Down the Middle.

Armchair Golf: What are your favorite golf events?

JOHN COYNE: The Masters, of course, though I have never been to the tournament. And the Westchester, which I go to every year. It is played near where I live in Westchester County, New York.

But I guess the British Open is my favorite all-time golf tournament. It all started there in Great Britain. Here’s an odd and interesting fact. Years ago when I first visited Scotland -- this would have been in 1964 -- I ended up in a cemetery outside of Edinburgh. (Not sure why now.) But walking around I saw dozens of headstones with images of golfers, comments about the deceased’s love of the game. The Scots love the game so much that they take it with them to the grave.

Armchair Golf: Do you play golf? How is your game?

JOHN COYNE: Yes, I do play, not well. I have never joined a country club but play on some wonderful public courses in Westchester and Columbia counties in New York State. I play to a 7 when the going is good. When I was younger I had it down to around a plus 2 and thought at one time -- this was when I was still in school -- of turning pro, but I didn’t have the personality for dealing with members. I wasn’t the best player in the family. I had an older brother Jim who played on the Western Michigan University golf team. He could have been a pro. He was good and he had the right temperament.

For four of John’s favorite golfers, head to Down the Middle. (See how many you recognize, especially if you're under the age of 50.)

Sometime in the near future I’ll have a preview of John’s next golf novel.

The Armchair Golfer

Sunday, October 14

Ernie Els Wins Seventh World Match Play Title

Ernie cruises. (Brian Doyle/Flickr)


Do you have a favorite course, a track where you always play well and expect to win?

Me neither.

But Ernie Els does. It’s Wentworth, not far from his London home.

On Sunday the Big Easy won World Match Play title No. 7 at Wentworth by putting a 6 and 4 hurt on U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera. (It was a 36-hole final.)

“I wish I could move Wentworth around the world with me," Els was quoted as saying by BBC Sport. "It's absolutely a dream come true. In my wildest dreams, I would not have dreamt I could win it seven times.”

If you read Ernie’s blog earlier in the week, then you knew he liked his chances. An excerpt:
Everyone knows this is one of my favourite weeks of the year, the HSBC World Match Play at Wentworth – a home game, so to speak.

As I was saying earlier in this report, I’m driving the ball great and my game is in good shape. Obviously, I always feel very comfortable on this golf course and if I can just get the putter working then I’ve got a great chance to win my seventh match play title.
Cabrera walked away with a fat second-place check and is still on a U.S. Open high.

“2007 has been a great year for me,” he said. “Winning the U.S. Open has changed my life.”

The Armchair Golfer

Friday, October 12

John Cook Joins Champions Tour

“I went to bed September 4, 1992, and I was old and washed up. I woke up a rookie. What could be better?”
−Raymond Floyd

It’s hard to believe John Cook, an 11-time PGA Tour winner and a top 30 career money winner, turned 50 on October 2. But it’s true, which means he’s the newest rookie on the old guys circuit.

Cook will make his Champions Tour debut this week at the Administaff Small Business Classic at the Augusta Pines Golf Course in Texas. Cook said he still has a lot to prove after a “nice” career that didn’t include any majors.

Like Mark O’Meara, Cook is a longtime buddy of Tiger Woods. Cook was one of the veteran players Woods sought out early on in his pro career.

Tiger will be watching Cook’s progress, Cook said. When asked by AP if there would be texting with Tiger during Champions Tour events, Cook said, “Guaranteed, definitely.”

The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, October 10

Going to the Masters: ESPN and Me

The first two rounds of the 2008 Masters will be televised by ESPN. The USA Network had covered the opening 36 holes for the past 25 years.

(Maybe they just got tired of the theme music.)

“With the worldwide reach of ESPN, and their demonstrated leadership in new media, we think ESPN is uniquely positioned to showcase the Masters and golf to new audiences,” Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said in a statement.

Mike Tirico will host the ESPN telecast. The Masters will be April 7 through 13.

Hey, Mike, Wait for Me!

In other Masters news that you won’t read elsewhere, I’m going.

YES!

And after only four short years in the practice round lottery. I do feel lucky. I got my notification in the mail a few weeks ago –- four practice round tickets for Monday. Anyone else want to go?

If my Ryder Cup ticket application is also accepted, 2008 might be the perfect golf year.

The Armchair Golfer

Get Your FREE 2009 Masters Tournament Guide!
I recently published a 44-page 2009 Masters Tournament Guide filled with need-to-know information, stories, interviews, humor and more. I’d like you to have one. Just sign up for your free guide at above right (under the brown box) and I’ll rush it to your email inbox.

Monday, October 8

Grand Slam Comparison: PGA vs. Denny’s



Now that the Presidents Cup is over, there’s not a lot to look forward to in professional golf. But that won’t stop the staff at the ARMCHAIR GOLF BLOG from trying, really trying.


The men will play the Frys.com Open this week in Las Vegas. The women will tee it up at the Samsung World Championship at Palm Desert.

Next week is the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda. Tiger Woods will not play, which got me wondering …

Which grand slam are you hungrier for?

PGA Grand Slam of Golf
Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, Angel Cabrera and Padraig Harrington.

Denny’s Grand Slam Breakfast
Buttermilk pancakes, eggs, bacon and sausage. Two of each.

It’s a tough choice, I know. I had many Denny’s Grand Slams while in college. I love golf, but my stomach loves cholesterol, too.

The Armchair Golfer

At Down the Middle: Major League Baseball Players Who Are Scratch Golfers

Saturday, October 6

Lee Trevino Unretires

The Merry Mex has apparently ended a retirement that was shorter than his backswing. I'm good with that. I've been feeling a little guilty about not writing my Trevino tribute piece. Now I have more time.

This from Richard Oliver of the Express-News in San Antonio:

World Hall of Fame golfer Lee Trevino, who earlier this year told reporters in Boston that this month's AT&T Championship at Oak Hills would be his last competitive tournament, apparently has had second thoughts.

A Champions Tour official confirmed Wednesday that Trevino, who lives in the Dallas area, has decided to continue playing beyond this season.

The legendary player, who has a large contingent of friends in San Antonio, is still scheduled to play at the AT&T on Oct. 19-21.

It's a hard game to play. It's also a hard game to walk away from. (Or ride away from if you use a cart.)

The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, October 4

Oops! Armchair Golf Misquotes Carl Sagan


“It is far better to grasp golf as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”
(not said by) Carl Sagan



Biographical note: Carl Sagan was an American astronomer and astrochemist.

This misquote brought to you by The Armchair Golfer.
Getting it wrong for the love of the game.

Tuesday, October 2

Going 18 with Orville Moody

This year I’ve attended Champions Tour events where the Grand Champions play – the 70 and older golf legends who played the PGA Tour in the 50s, 60s and 70s. It’s taken me to Savannah, Hickory (North Carolina) and Baltimore.

It began when I became acquainted with Jack Fleck, the man who upset Ben Hogan in the 1955 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. This past weekend I was at the Baltimore Country Club East Course where the Senior Players Championship will be played beginning on Thursday.

It was good golf times as usual, including riding shotgun with Orville Moody. Read about it at Down the Middle.

The Armchair Golfer

UPDATE 8-08-08:

Riding Shotgun with Orville Moody