Monday, June 30

Coming Soon: ‘Arnie & Jack’ Author Q&A

MY FAMILY VACATION began yesterday afternoon with a six-hour car trip, so I missed the final round of the U.S. Women’s Open. Between trips to the beach, water park and movies with my kids, I plan to publish a few things this week.

One will be a post on Arnie & Jack, a relatively new book authored by national sports columnist Ian O’Connor about the longstanding rivalry between Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

The book has made the New York Times bestseller list. I’m always glad to see a golf book make the list.

I heard from Ian yesterday, and as soon as I can tidy up our email Q&A I’ll post it for you. Probably in a day or two.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, June 28

Alfredsson Contends at U.S. Women’s Open

HELEN ALFREDSSON. NOW THERE’S A BLAST from the LPGA past. Ranked 116th in the world, the 43-year-old Alfredsson is right in the thick of things at the U.S. Women’s Open at Edina, Minnesota. I doubt that she’ll win, but what a story it would be.

If you watched the telecast today, you saw Alfredsson twist and turn and crane her neck after striking the ball. It could be a good shot. It could be a bad shot. You never know with Helen.

This is exactly the way I remember Alfredsson when she came out on tour, a very demonstrative player. Also, she would talk to herself. Loudly. Often Helen berated herself like a football coach giving his team a tongue-lashing at halftime.

Alfredsson holds the single round and 36-hole records for the women’s Open, once carding a sizzling 63 on her way to 132. She then proceeded to fritter away a six or seven shot lead to lose the tournament. That would definitely have you talking to yourself.

Meanwhile, Stacy Lewis is this year's 54-hole leader at nine under. Just one stroke behind, Paula Creamer is poised to win her first major. Annika Sorenstam is too far back at two under. And, well over par, Lorena Ochoa has completely lost her magic.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, June 27

Everybody Loves Rocco

AS SOMEONE PUT IT, Tiger won the trophy, but Rocco won the hearts. Cliché? Yep. Sappy? Yep. But hey, it’s right on the mark.

Ever since Rocco Mediate went toe-to-toe with golf’s Goliath, Tiger Woods, and nearly brought down the giant in the U.S. Open, golf fans have been sharing the love as if Rocco was that other western PA native son, Arnold Palmer.

Rocco is a PGA Tour rock star, and he’s been soaking it up like solar panels on a sunny day. In fact, the 45-year-old was “toast” after his reception and opening-round 71 at the Buick Open.

Here are some of Rocco's comments (edited) from yesterday’s media conference:

Q. Did you see the banner up there?

ROCCO: I did. I can't believe they did that. It was nice.

Q. Did you find that the banner with the fans was different, were there more fans?


ROCCO:
That was this morning, only probably 200, 300,000 fans following me (laughter). It was great. It was obviously louder.

Q. The whole thing is starting to catch up in terms of energy.


ROCCO:
Yes, I have noticed.

Q. How does it feel to be a fan favorite?


ROCCO:
I think it's cool.

Q. You mentioned yesterday you were tired?


ROCCO: I'm toast. It took a lot out of me. I loved it. But I need to get some rest the rest of the day and tomorrow morning.

−The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, June 26

2008 U.S. Women’s Open: TV Schedule and Viewing Tips

Heeeeere's Johnny!


TEN HOURS OF TV COVERAGE are on tap for the U.S. Women’s Open. It’s ESPN on Friday and all NBC on the weekend.

Friday

3:00-7:00 PM EDT on ESPN

Saturday & Sunday
3:00-6:00 PM EDT on NBC

On ESPN, I think you’ll probably hear Andy North and Judy Rankin. On NBC, Dan Hicks will anchor with Johnny Miller as analyst.

Viewing Tips


1. Stay in the moment.
2. Stay hydrated.
3. Root for Annika in her last Open.
4. Miller: Love him, listen to him.
5. Miller: Hate him, mute him.

−The Armchair Golfer

2008 U.S. Women’s Open: Annika Sorenstam’s Encore?

WOULD ANYONE BE TERRIBLY UPSET if Annika Sorenstam won her fourth U.S. Women’s Open?

Sorenstam is retiring at the end of the season, and as much as I like Lorena Ochoa -- I think she’s awesome, actually -- I wouldn’t mind another shiny National Open trophy for Annika. The Swedish star has been terrific for women’s golf.

Sorenstam has amassed 72 LPGA Tour victories, including 10 majors. She and Ochoa will have plenty of competition in the championship that started today.

Currently, Annika is one under after six holes. Ochoa has completed her first round with an even-par 73. The clubhouse leader is Ji Young Oh with a 67.

U.S. Women’s Open Facts

Dates: June 26-29, 2008
Purse: $3,100,000
History: The U.S. Women's Open began in 1946 and is the longest-running event on the LPGA Tour.
Format: 72 holes
Course: Interlachen Country Club, Edina, MN
Par: 36-37, 73
Yardage: 6,789
Defending champion: Cristie Kerr

−The Armchair Golfer


Related:

My interview with defending champion Cristie Kerr (last August)

Wednesday, June 25

Q&A: Tiger’s Left Knee Discusses ACL Surgery

(Pocketwiley/Flickr)




IN A BRIEF INTERVIEW, Tiger’s Left Knee updated ARMCHAIR GOLF after Tiger’s ACL surgery performed on Tuesday.



Q: Thanks for talking to me again.

LEFT KNEE:
Sure, no problem.

Q: First of all, is there anything you would like to say about the U.S. Open?


LEFT KNEE:
Not really. I think everybody saw what happened and the end result.

Q: Your toughest tournament?


LEFT KNEE:
We went to Torrey to win a trophy. And we did. I’m proud of that.

Q: Alright. By the way, Tiger’s ACL turned down my interview request.

LEFT KNEE: Yeah, it won’t talk to the media.

Q: I’m a blogger.

LEFT KNEE: I know. It’s not you. I don’t like to generalize, but ACLs aren’t a talkative bunch. They can act kind of superior. I don’t know why. It's a ligament thing.

Q: I read the statement, but from your perspective how did the ACL fix go?


LEFT KNEE:
Fine, really. Rosey is great.

Q: Rosey?


LEFT KNEE: Sorry. Doc Rosenberg. Very capable hands. As you know, I’ve seen him a whole lot and just call him “Rosey.” Sometimes I feel like I’ve spent more time in Utah than Karl Malone.

Q: What’s next?


LEFT KNEE:
Rest, rehab, trying to avoid Sam when she’s holding something she can throw or swing.

Q: And the comeback?


LEFT KNEE:
Better than ever. You can count on it.

Q: Are you sure you don’t work for IMG?


LEFT KNEE: Huh?

Q: Just kidding. Thanks again.


LEFT KNEE:
You got it.

Related:
Tiger's Left Knee Speaks on U.S. Open Prep
Q&A: Tiger’s Left Knee Carries Weight of Golf World

Tuesday, June 24

Ben Hogan Interview

IF YOU CAN SPARE seven and a half minutes, I'll point you to a great slice of golf history, a rare on-camera interview with Ben Hogan.

It’s edited, with only Hogan speaking. I’m not sure of the source, but it may be the CBS interview conducted by Ken Venturi in the early 1980s.

Hogan expounds on:

• Why he feels sorry for rich kids
• How he was a “terrible” player
• Why he had to practice and play “all the time”
• A hook so bad he couldn’t get a 4 wood off the ground
• The biggest check he ever received in his life ($385)
• Who told him he couldn’t complete his career without
playing in the British Open

Listen to the legendary Ben Hogan here.

−The Armchair Golfer


Related:
My interview with Ben Hogan’s practice partner

Monday, June 23

John Coyne Swings a Hickory Wood


(Photo courtesy of John Coyne)

OK, HE’S NOT WALTER HAGEN. But he did write a golf novel about The Haig called The Caddie Who Played with Hickory.

John Coyne is an accomplished author and golf friend. He sent me the above photo a few weeks ago. In April, we went to the Masters together, a first for both of us.

In case you missed it, my review of John’s “hickory” book is here.

−The Armchair Golfer

Sunday, June 22

Stewart Cink Closes Out Travelers Championship

Stewart Cink (Doyle/Flickr)

I CAUGHT THE LAST FEW HOLES of the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Connecticut. Mainly, I wanted to see if Stewart Cink could get it done on Sunday. As the Golf Channel pointed out, “Stewie” hasn’t had much Sunday success as the 54-hole leader, with just one win in nine tries.

Cink bucked the trend with a final-round 67 and one-shot victory over Tommy Armour III and Hunter Mahan. The last hole, a pretty straightforward par-4, was a bit dicey, though. Stewart blocked his drive way right, and then knocked a wedge to just off the back of the green. He got it up and down for the clinching par.

The win moved Cink to third in the FedEx Cup points race, and he’s a lock for the Ryder Cup team. He’s an amazingly candid player who has always struck me as a good guy.

I think many would agree that Stewart’s talent could have produced more than five wins. But, unless you’re Tiger Woods, winning on the PGA Tour isn’t easy. Cink finally broke through after going 97 events since his last title in 2004. Good for him.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, June 20

Is Tiger Woods Already the Greatest?

ARTICLES, POSTS AND COMMENTS that declare Tiger Woods as the greatest golfer of all time are increasing. So here’s an informal Friday survey as I wait to board a flight at LAX.

Is Tiger Woods already the greatest? Or does he need to break Jack Nicklaus’ record for major wins to earn that distinction?

I know what I think, but I want to hear from y’all. Give me your take and rationale.

−The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, June 19

Play Golf, Live Longer

(Glasson/Flickr)

AFTER ALL THE DEPRESSING NEWS about a certain someone’s knee, I want to lighten it up a bit as we head into the weekend. Spend time with your family and play golf if you can. Both are good for your health.

Following are excerpts from Divot Mix, an e-publication of GCSAA, on the longevity benefits of playing golf.

“The death rate for golfers is 40 percent lower than for other people of the same sex, age and socioeconomic status, according to a study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. This equates to a five-year increase in life expectancy said the scientists, led by Anders Ahlbom and Bahman Farahmand at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.

“‘A round of golf means being outside for four or five hours, walking at a fast pace for about four miles, something which is known to be good for health,’ said Ahlbom.”

(It is for people who actually walk the course. I do.)

“People play golf into old age, and there are also positive social and psychological aspects to the game that can be of help.”

I was thrilled to play the last two days with my 81-year-old pops, something I rarely get to do since he lives in California and I reside in Virginia.

I fly home tomorrow, but being on the golf course with my dad has been a special treat and has brought back memories of the many enjoyable afternoons we spent together on a golf course.

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, June 18

Tiger Woods Is Badly Hurt

I DIDN’T REALIZE I was being prophetic when I wrote this pretend flyer on Monday:

LOST: One-legged golfer, missing at last major. Answers to Tiger. And U.S. Open champion.

I heard the jarring news this afternoon about Tiger Woods regarding the severity of his injuries. As you probably know by now, Tiger will undergo surgery and is out for the remainder of the 2008 season. No British, no PGA, no Ryder Cup. It’s a sad day for golf.

Two initial questions come to mind:

1) Given the extent of his injuries and what he endured, where does Tiger’s U.S. Open victory rank in the history of sports?

2) Just how expensive a victory will it turn out to be?

−The Armchair Golfer

Monday, June 16

2008 U.S. Open: The Inevitability of Tiger Woods

(O'Neal/Flickr)

TIGER WOODS CLINCHED his third U.S. Open title today in a 19-hole playoff with journeyman Rocco Mediate. Could we have honestly expected any other result?

It’s like watching a movie. You know how it’s going to end. Well, you think you know. But there’s Rocco representing every journeyman who ever dreamed of winning the U.S. Open. And the guy is playing his heart out. And you think maybe this will be the time it slips from Tiger’s grasp. No one can keep doing this, can they?

Yes, if his name is Tiger Woods.

I didn’t see the playoff, but in 10 years I’ll probably be telling people I was there. Seriously, I had to drive from L.A. to San Francisco this morning. I couldn't stop thinking about the playoff, though. So I called my dad from Coalinga.

“Rocco is hanging tough,” he told me. “He almost aced the third hole.”

In Santa Clara, I called again.

“Tiger is hitting the ball in bad spots, but his putter is keeping him in it, 12 putts in 10 holes,” he said. “Rocco has made up three shots. They’re tied with four holes to play.”

Then I heard the final result I was expecting on the radio news. Tiger won. Of course. Tiger always gets it done. Always.

But Rocco Mediate, in his own way, was just as impressive as Tiger. Let me explain.

We’ve come to expect the impossible from Tiger. Eagle the last hole to take the lead. Birdie the last hole to force a playoff. Hit shots everywhere and somehow find a way to win in the most desperate circumstances. Whatever it takes.

But how often have we seen a worthy, head-to-head competitor for Woods in the majors? Hardly ever.

The easygoing Rocco played an amazing tournament and didn’t wilt in a toe-to-toe confrontation with the ultimate intimidator. We all knew Rocco was a good guy, but who knew he had so much heart?

I haven’t had a chance to fully digest this major championship, but it must go down as one of the greatest ever. With the bum knee there was a Hoganesque quality to Tiger’s long 91-hole march for the U.S. Open trophy.

Tiger will disappear for a while now to rest the left knee and may skip the British. If he does, it may be necessary to post a flyer:

LOST: One-legged golfer, missing at last major. Answers to Tiger. And U.S. Open champion.

−The Armchair Golfer

Sunday, June 15

2008 U.S. Open: Tiger Woods Is the Drama King

I DIDN’T SEE IT. I’m in California for a family wedding and reception that took place during yesterday’s entire third round of the U.S. Open.

So I didn’t see the drama of Tiger Woods’ painful march across Torrey Pines unfold. I didn’t see the errant drives and the frequent grimaces. The knee is clearly overstressed. Even the stoic Woods can no longer hide it now.

I didn’t see the downhill bomb for an eagle on 13, or the one-hop birdie chip on 17. I missed the final dramatic stroke on 18, another eagle that gave Tiger a one-shot lead heading into today’s final round.

What can possibly happen today? What can the gimpy Woods do for an encore? I wouldn’t begin to try to guess.

One thing is certain: I’ll be watching.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, June 14

2008 U.S. Open: ‘Tin Man’ Tiger Woods Comes Alive

REMEMBER IN THE WIZARD OF OZ when the Tin Man was all rusty and creaky? Then Dorothy squirted him with the oil can and he started moving, smiling and, finally, dancing.

Tiger Woods was the Tin Man today, all rusty and gimpy. Not doing a whole lot, just sort of there.

Then, faster than Dorothy could click her heels, the rust vanished. This “Tin Man” was draining 20-foot birdies like they were $3 gas. Tiger shot an astonishing 30 on his second nine for a round of 68.

The Tin Man with the creaky left knee is just one shot off the 36-hole lead. Heeeeee’s back.

Lastly, inspired by The Wizard of Oz and dedicated to Phil Mickelson, I leave you with this:

(To the tune of “If I Only Had a Heart”)

I would not be just a nothin’ my head all full of stuffin’
My heart all full of pain.
I would dance and be merry, life would be a ding-a-derry,
If I only hit a fairway.


−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, June 13

Tiger Woods: ‘I Guess I Don’t Need a Cart Yet’

Geoff Ogilvy is lurking.

EIGHTEEN DOWN, 54 TO GO. Round one of the U.S. Open is in the books, and two non-household names share the lead at three-under 68, Nationwide Tour player Justin Hicks and 29-year-old Kevin Streelman, who seems to emerge on visits to Torrey Pines.

Streelman was a big story at the Buick Invitational in January when he slipped into the field and then played his way into Tiger’s pairing at the midway point.

I’ve never heard of Hicks, who is your stock obscure first-round leader out of central casting. I sometimes hope these types shoot a good second round just to cause a stir, but usually they post 83 and barely make the cut.

When Tiger was asked what he found out after his first competitive round since the Masters, he replied, “Oh, I can walk 18 holes. I guess I don’t need a cart yet.”

Woods shot a one-over 72 with two doubles. Fellow glam grouping players Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott had 71 and 73, respectively.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see much of the first round because I was flying from Charlotte to LA. But I did see Stricker streak to four under on his opening nine, shooting a 32.

Stricker. Now there’s a guy who could do well this week, I thought. Straight ball hitter, excellent putter. Later I saw a 73 by his name. Stricks shot 41 on his second nine. That’s the Open for you.

There are plenty of big names at the top, including Geoff Ogilvy (69), Stuart Appleby (69), Ernie Els (70), Lee Westwood (70), Luke Donald (71), Vijah Singh (71) and Andres Romero (71).

Today is survive-the-cut day. And, if you’re one of those players near the top, position-yourself-for-the-weekend day.

−The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, June 12

2008 U.S. Open: TV Schedule and Viewing Tips

TWENTY-ONE HOURS of TV coverage are on tap for the U.S. Open. It’s ESPN, NBC and ESPN on Thursday and Friday. It’s all NBC on the weekend.

Thursday & Friday

10 a.m. - Noon PDT (1 - 3 p.m. EDT) on ESPN
Noon - 2 p.m. PDT (3 - 5 p.m. EDT) on NBC
2 p.m. - 7 p.m. PDT (5 - 10 p.m. EDT) on ESPN

Saturday
1 - 7 p.m. PDT (4 - 10 p.m. EDT) on NBC

Sunday

NOON - 6 p.m. PDT (3 - 9 p.m. EDT) on NBC

Viewing Tips

1. Don’t peak too early; it’s a long, grueling tournament.
2. Stay in the moment.
3. Take it one shot at a time.
4. Eliminate all distractions (work, chores/errands, family members).
5. If you like Johnny Miller, you’re golden.
6. If you dislike Johnny Miller, consider the mute button.

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, June 11

2008 U.S. Open: Glam Pairing Injury Update

Adam Scott

AT 8:06 A.M. LOCAL TIME, the world’s top three golfers will tee off in the 108th U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California. That would be Eldrick “Tiger” Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott.

And these elite golf warriors are playing hurt.

In case you’ve just returned from another galaxy, Tiger is recovering from surgery No. 3 on his left knee. Despite more knee speculation than Ping has putters, Woods says he’s ready to rumble.

“I'm good to go,” Tiger said on Tuesday. “I plan on playing competitive. Come game time on Thursday I'll be ready.”

Not to be outdone, Adam Scott also has an injury. The Australian star broke his right pinkie finger several weeks ago. No worries, mate. Adam is up to this week’s task.

“Broken finger won’t stop Adam Scott,” announced The Sydney Morning Herald. (But he’ll have to lay off pinkie wrestling for a while.)

And Phil? He’s an inch taller, in case you haven’t heard. It’s all that stretching he’s been doing. I know, I know − it’s not an injury. But the unplanned growth did cause Lefty to go to a 37-inch putter.

How does that factor into Mickelson's game and U.S. Open chances? I haven’t a clue.

−The Armchair Golfer

2008 U.S. Open: Who Won't Win

Defending champ Cabrera

FIRST OF ALL, AN APOLOGY. I'm not usually a negative guy, but it's just too hard to pick a major winner. Last year at Oakmont I picked Tiger and he lost by a shot. I was crushed. (OK, not really.)

Anyway, this year I thought I'd try something different. I'm picking the losers. I don't like it any more than you do, but I don't know what else to do.

As for Tiger, I'm just not seeing it. The knee, the layoff, Torrey on steroids, U.S. Open rough − I think it's too much to overcome, even for Tiger Woods.

Not Winning List

Tiger Woods
Angel Cabrera
Trevor Immelman
Sergio Garcia
Adam Scott
Ernie Els
Colin Montgomerie
Retief Goosen
Zach Johnson
Ian Poulter
Anyone Who Went Through
a Qualifier
Any Amateur
Gene Sarazen (Bobbio)

Might Win List

Phil Mickelson
Jim Furyk
Stephen Ames
Justin Leonard
Anthony Kim
Aaron Baddeley
Mike Weir
Padraig Harrington
Justin Rose
Andres Romero
Geoff Ogilvy
Vijay Singh
Random Guy

No heavy analysis or stats. All from my gut. Chime in. It's U.S. Open Eve, and I don't want to be wrong by myself.

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, June 10

A U.S. Open Player Even Matt Lauer Would Beat

BY NOW YOU'VE SURELY HEARD the results of Matt Lauer’s trip around Torrey Pines, site of this week’s U.S. Open. The NBC anchor, a single-digit handicapper, shot an even 100 on the brutal setup.

Playing partner Justin Timberlake did slightly better, shooting a 98. And Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, a fine amateur golfer, had an 84.

But wait. There’s a guy who actually played in the U.S. Open that Lauer would have beaten handily. His name was J.D. Tucker, who teed it up in the 1898 U.S. Open. He shot a 157. Yes, you read that correctly. 1-5-7.

J.D. improved by 57 shots in the next round, carding a 100. Then he quietly withdrew.

Fred Herd was the 1898 winner, with rounds of 84, 85, 75 and 84 for 328, a scoring record until the following year when Willie Smith came home in 315 strokes.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Source: The Telegraph)

2008 U.S. Open: The Winning Score? 284

BEN HOGAN WAS FAMOUS for sizing up a U.S. Open setup and determining what score would win the pressure-packed 72-hole marathon. And then he would go out and shoot it. Hogan won a record four U.S. Opens, and could easily have won five or six.

What will it take to win this year at Torrey Pines? Even par, according to the course superintendent.

“Somewhere right around even par could very well hold up,” Mark Woodward told World Golf.

Based on what I’ve read about Torrey, 284 (the 7,600 yard layout will play to a par 71) sounds like a fantastic score. I’m guessing almost every player in the field would take even par today if you offered it to them, including Tiger Woods.

In the last two U.S. Opens at Winged Foot and Oakmont, the winning score was five over. The USGA has been in the habit of favoring the plus-side of par. Red is their least favorite color.

−The Armchair Golfer

Monday, June 9

No Happy Meal for Ochoa and Sorenstam

(Yani Tseng)

THE MCDONALD'S LPGA CHAMPIONSHIP had a full menu of golf drama, including a playoff and 19-year-old rookie winner named Yani Tseng, but it was no happy meal for Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam. Both finished one shot back in a tie for third.

Ochoa’s bid for the Grand Slam fizzled in the searing Maryland heat due mostly to a balky putter. Sorenstam also struggled on the greens.

“It was a strange day,” Lorena said. “Almost like … it wasn’t my time.”

“I am not ashamed. I'm proud of my finish. And I guess, you know, now I move on and continue and try to win the next few tournaments.”

“I felt good all week,” Annika said. “I thought this was going to be my week. So close and not being able to finish.”

The next major is the U.S. Women’s Open in two weeks at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minnesota.

−The Armchair Golfer

Derr: ‘Better Luck on the Back Nine, Jim ’

(Jim McKay)

JOHN DERR COVERED 62 MASTERS and was a colleague and longtime friend of Jim McKay. I asked him for his thoughts following McKay’s death on Saturday.

“Jim was a trusted colleague at CBS,” wrote Derr in an email, “where he was at home with any microphone, regardless of the sport, regardless of the venue.

“He was an associate covering the Masters the day ABC offered him a staff assignment, expected to last only a few months. We thought Jim would be back with us by next April at Augusta.

“No. Jim became the voice of ABC and did a darned good job of telling his listeners and viewers what he was seeing and feeling. His tragic Olympic news coverage is most remembered, but I recall days sitting around with Jim as we prepared to do a broadcast. He was a font of information about many sports but I always suspected he liked horse racing best of all.

“That's why the Belmont upset only hours after McKay died made June 7th a tragic daily double. There will be other horses and maybe some day there will be a Triple Crown winner, but we said goodbye to a great reporter and friend. Better luck on the back nine, Jim.”

−The Armchair Golfer

Sunday, June 8

Remembering Jim McKay



LEGENDARY SPORTS BROADCASTER Jim McKay died this weekend. He was 86.

Something I didn’t know: His real name was James McManus, but he legally changed it after hosting a program a CBS executive dubbed “The Real McKay.”

Some of us grew up with McKay, who covered virtually every sport, from the Olympic Games to motor racing to golf.

McKay reported the action at the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and other tournaments during the Palmer and Nicklaus eras when professional golf began to appear on small black-and-white and color screens across America.

His favorite sport? Horse racing. McKay passed away just hours before the running of the Belmont Stakes.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, June 7

Memphis in the Meantime

“Let’s go to Memphis in the meantime, baby.”
−John Hiatt

This week definitely reminds me of the above lyric from the John Hiatt song.

I admit I’m looking ahead with a full shag bag of anticipation to the U.S. Open. Can’t wait. I think most golf enthusiasts feel the same way, especially anticipating the pairing of the world’s top three players: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott.

The PGA Tour is in Memphis in the meantime, with a logjam of players at three under. Tough conditions, apparently. Three under after two rounds? In Memphis? Surreal.

In Maryland at the McDonald's LPGA Championship, Lorena Ochoa is bidding for the second leg of the Grand Slam and her third straight major. She has a one-shot lead heading into the third round.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, June 6

Arnold Palmer Center Opens at USGA Headquarters

(Photo: Taylor PR)

TUESDAY WAS THE GRAND OPENING of the USGA’s new Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History.

“I've received a lot of honors, but this may top them all,” Palmer told attendees.

The centerpiece of the new center is the Hall of Champions, which includes all 13 original USGA championship trophies and has the name of each champion inscribed on bronze panels.

“The USGA Museum and Archives has worked diligently to preserve the rich traditions and history of the game for more than 70 years,” USGA Museum Director Rand Jerris told me last year.

“The new Palmer Center will allow us to showcase these artifacts properly for the first time in our history.”

If you’re in the area (or not), it’s worth a trip to Far Hills, New Jersey, which is about a J.D. Holmes drive and 9-iron from New York City.

Palmer was also on hand at a nearby Callaway facility (see photo) to promote Callaway Performance Center custom-fitting locations.

−The Armchair Golfer

Related:

USGA Arnold Palmer Center interview, Part 1
USGA Arnold Palmer Center interview, Conclusion

Thursday, June 5

A Fellow Scotsman Defends Colin Montgomerie

MY FRIEND, BRIAN, who supplies photography for this blog, is sticking up for Monty after my post about the most overrated tour players. This is bumped up from the comments section, with Brian’s permission:

Sorry, I know it’s not your list but a Scotsman is about to defend another Scotsman!

Colin Montgomerie is not and could never be considered “overrated.” In fact, I am not sure any of those guys could. Maybe not lived up to their expectations, or, as another said, underachieved. Yes, maybe.

Someone who topped the European Tour eight times cannot be overrated!

What about golfers who have freak wins at majors of whom we hear very little or see winning again consistently at the highest levels? Surely, they are the overrated ones. I can think of Paul Lawrie as an example close to home. I am sure there are other closer to home for you. Ben Curtis, maybe?

Monty was a consistent winner and, yes, never cut it in the United States. But then again he never did a Sergio, or a Rose, or a Parnevik, and moved over and tried to make his living on the PGA Tour. He stayed loyal to the European circuit.

To call him overrated seems typical of the disrespectful attitude towards him from certain parts of the American media and public, who, let’s face it, don’t like him. Hence the Mrs. Doubtfire tag.

No one needs to remind him he has never won a major. Believe me, he gets reminded about it every day over here. Would he swap his eight European Order of Merits for one U.S. Open and golfing obscurity thereafter? Not sure.

Winning a major does not get you guaranteed respect over here. Who do you think is more respected in golf, Montgomerie or Lawrie?
I’ll take that last question. Monty. It’s a no brainer.

−The Armchair Golfer


Related:

Will Faldo Pick Montgomerie for Ryder Cup Team?
Colin Montgomerie Is Feeling Old

Wednesday, June 4

Tiger’s Left Knee Speaks on U.S. Open Prep


Tiger's Left Knee at the 2007 Masters.
(Pocketwiley/Flickr)


ARMCHAIR GOLF recently caught up with Tiger’s Left Knee during a break between practice sessions.

Q: In Monday’s conference call, Tiger said, “I feel like I'm getting there. Hopefully, it'll be close to 100%. If not, no big deal.”


LEFT KNEE:
Yeah, I know. I was there.

Q: Is there anything you would like to add?


LEFT KNEE:
Nope.

Q: Do you agree with the “no big deal” part?


LEFT KNEE:
Next question, please.

Q: What do you think of Torrey Pines?

LEFT KNEE:
Love Torrey. Love it. Tiger and I have played there since he was a tyke. Absolutely gorgeous place. Of course, it looks different to me.

Q: How so?


LEFT KNEE:
I’m a lot closer to the ground. It’s a whole different vantage point.

Q: Got it.


LEFT KNEE: Still, a great place for me. The terrain is not real up and down, so that’s good, especially coming off surgery.

Q: What’s your biggest concern going into next week?


LEFT KNEE:
I want Tiger to play well, of course. We’re so due to win a U.S. Open, and I don’t want anyone to think I’m holding him back from his goals.

Q: Anything else?


LEFT KNEE:
I hope we can stay out of that insane U.S. Open rough. That’s probably my biggest personal fear. I mean, when Tiger goes after it in the rough, hide the women and children.

Q: Does it hurt?


LEFT KNEE:
Does Titleist make golf balls?

Q: Understand.


LEFT KNEE:
Anyway, maybe Stevie will encourage Tiger to keep the driver in the bag a little more than usual so we can keep our dimpled friend on the short grass most of the time.

Q: How are we on time?


LEFT KNEE: I gotta go. We’re working on the short game this afternoon, which I enjoy much more than those 124 M.P.H. swings on the practice tee. Lot less stress on me, if you know what I mean.

Q: Thanks, and best of luck next week.


LEFT KNEE:
Yep. We’ll see what happens.

Related:

Q&A: Tiger’s Left Knee Carries Weight of Golf World

Tuesday, June 3

U.S. Open Homecoming for Pat Perez

WHEW. HE MADE IT.

Last month Pat Perez told ARMCHAIR GOLF, “This year it’s all about the U.S. Open. I have to get in there. That’s the biggest of the bigs for me. Back home in San Diego, that’s my main goal in life right now.”

When I asked him what it would mean to play the U.S. Open in his hometown, he replied, “Everything. Seriously.”

There was a catch. Then ranked No. 58 in the world, Double P needed to climb to No. 50 to avoid the perils of sectional qualifying. Despite a strong Colonial and Memorial, Pat only got halfway there, to No. 54.

On Monday Perez teed it up with 140 or so players in the Columbus, Ohio, sectional qualifier to vie for 23 spots. Pat's 71-67-138 made it by a shot.

Now that’s pressure, especially for someone who said he’d rather qualify to play in the U.S. Open in his hometown than win his first tournament.

Also in through the Columbus qualifier are PGA Tour players Carl Pettersson (medalist), Davis Love, Bart Bryant, Ben Crane, Jesper Parnevik, Rocco Mediate, Chad Campbell, Nick Watney, Dean Wilson, Joe Ogilvie, Robert Garrigus, Steve Marino and Fredrik Jacobson.

Alas, Fred Couples didn’t make it.

-The Armchair Golfer

Monday, June 2

PGA Tour Considering New Slogan

ACCORDING TO SOURCES, the PGA Tour is close to launching a new slogan and accompanying advertising campaign to replace the longstanding, “These guys are good.”

“The current slogan has served us well,” a Tour insider said on condition of anonymity. “But it’s time to re-position the product. We’re moving on.”

What about the brand equity accrued over the years?

“Very few of the world’s golfers are televised and collect a million dollars for winning a tournament,” he explained. “Of course, these guys are good. People get it.”

The new slogan process has taken months, beginning with an extensive agency search. The selected firm assembled a large in-house creative team and cadre of freelancers who have brainstormed thousands of possible slogans based on in-depth product and market research.

But at the 11th hour the apparent winner was rejected when it drew a lukewarm response in a series of focus groups.

It’s now completely out of the running, said the Tour source about the one-time favorite, “These guys are really good.”

The new favorite set for approval will take the Tour in a whole new direction and, in effect, re-brand the product. It’s the right time, noted the source.

“We feel at this juncture it’s critical to differentiate ourselves from other sports and reaffirm the integrity of our terrific players and great game.

“That’s why we’re truly excited about the launch of ‘These guys are drug-free.’”

−The Armchair Golfer


(This is an ARMCHAIR GOLF spoof.)

Sunday, June 1

Kenny Perry Collects Third Memorial Win

OK, KENNY. Nice work. You were due.

The old man (47) by PGA Tour standards finally broke through at the Memorial Tournament after coming close the last few weeks at The Players Championship and AT&T Classic.

With his third Memorial victory, Kenny Perry is also in rare company. Only one other man has three victories at Jack’s tournament: Tiger Woods.

Woods claimed his three consecutively in 1999, 2000 and 2001. Perry, on the other hand, has spread his Memorial titles over 17 years, beginning with a playoff win over Hale Irwin in 1991.

Perry played near flawless golf in the final round, fashioning a 69 on a U.S. Open-tough Muirfield Village course that befuddled most of his young challengers. Eight under won the thing, the highest winning score on tour this year.

What could have been a breakthrough win for a Matthew Goggins or a Justin Rose, or a resurgent win for a Mike Weir or a Jerry Kelly, was instead the 10th tour win for an “old” man who wants one more shot as a Ryder Cupper. Perry has now moved up to fifth in Ryder Cup points and has a great shot at making Azinger's team.

Way to go, Kenny.

−The Armchair Golfer