Sunday, August 31

FedEx Cup Is Better Than Warm Bucket of Spit

IS IT JUST ME, an admitted golf junkie, or are the FedEx Cup Playoffs better than anyone could expect sans Tiger Woods?

In this political season, I’m reminded of what John Nance Garner, No. 2 to FDR, said about the vice presidency: it “wasn’t worth a warm bucket of spit.”

Many have pooh-poohed the playoffs, including yours truly. A warm bucket of spit, you might say. But isn’t this FedEx thing turning out better than expected?

Last week’s opener was contested on a great golf course, Ridgewood Country Club, and produced a dramatic Sergio Garcia-Vijay Singh showdown.

I admit I haven’t seen much of the Deutsche Bank Championship − only 20 minutes today − but judging from the 54-hole leaderboard, another exciting finish is in store. Mike Weir leads, with Camilo Villegas, Sergio Garcia, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and Jim Furyk within four shots on a course that has yielded low scores.

Not bad from where I sit.

−The Armchair Golfer


Related:

2008 Deutsche Bank Championship TV Schedule
2008 FedEx Cup Standings

Friday, August 29

Poulter and Monty Spar Over Ryder Cup Picks

Ian Poulter (Steven Newton/Flickr)

NOW, BOYS. Ian Poulter and Colin Montgomerie are sniping in the press about Nick Faldo’s two captain’s picks for the 2008 European Ryder Cup team. Monty said that Poulter has a “hotline” to Captain Nick.

“There are a lot of comments from players going about that I don't think should have been said, to be honest," Poulter said.

“I don't need to get in the discussion of Monty's discussions. He's got enough work to do this week to try to make the side himself. He should just be getting his head down and trying to play good golf.”

“Nice to be told what to do by one so young and so inexperienced,” Monty said. “Is anyone else speaking to Nick? No. Self-praise is no praise.”

(Quotes courtesy of BBC SPORT.)

I’ve read that Nick’s presumed short list is Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Darren Clarke, Justin Rose and, well, does Monty still have a prayer?

We’ll know soon.

−The Armchair Golfer


Related:

2008 Ryder Cup Report
Q&A: Daniel Wexler on 2008 Ryder Cup
2008 U.S. Ryder Cup Team Takes Shape
2008 Ryder Cup Tickets Arrive

2008 Deutsche Bank Championship Live Leaderboard

Final results:

1 Vijay Singh (-22)
2 Mike Weir (-17)
T3 Ernie Els (-14)
T3 Camilo Villegas (-14)
T5 Tim Herron (-13)
T5 Sergo Garcia (-13)

Tournament comments are welcome.

−The Armchair Golfer


Related:

2008 Deutsche Bank Championship TV Schedule
2008 FedEx Cup Standings

Thursday, August 28

2008 FedEx Cup Standings

Vijay Singh is currently BMOT (Big Man on Tour).


HERE ARE THE 2008 FEDEX CUP STANDINGS through The Barclays, the first event of the playoffs:


1. Vijay Singh 109,500
2. Sergio Garcia 104,375
3. Kevin Sutherland 101,950
4. Phil Mickelson 101,856
5. Justin Leonard 101,830
6. Anthony Kim 101,671
7. Kenny Perry 101,624
8. Ben Curtis 100,917
9. Stewart Cink 100,815
10. Jim Furyk 100,671
11. K.J. Choi 100,521
12. Robert Allenby 100,240
13. Stuart Appleby 100,056
14. Carl Pettersson 100,024
15. Tiger Woods 100,000

Big move: Kevin Sutherland jumped from No. 57 to No. 3 with his runner-up finish at The Barclays.

DNP: Tiger Woods is hanging on in the 15th spot.

−The Armchair Golfer


Related:
2008 Deutsche Bank Championship TV Schedule
2008 Deutsche Bank Championship Live Leaderboard

2008 Deutsche Bank Championship TV Schedule and Notes

Phil Mickelson is defending champ.

THIRTEEN HOURS OF TV COVERAGE are scheduled for the Deutsche Bank Championship this week at TPC Boston in Norton, Massachusetts. It’s the second of four events of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Tune in to the Golf Channel on Friday and Saturday and NBC on Sunday and Monday.

Friday: 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET on Golf Channel
Saturday: 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET on Golf Channel
Sunday: 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET on NBC
Monday: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET on NBC

Satellite Radio

The PGA Tour Network on XM Satellite Radio will air 60 hours of coverage of the Deutsche Bank Championship:

Friday: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET
Saturday: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET
Sunday: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET
Monday: 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. ET

(Note: You can listen to the coverage at PGATour.com.)

Tournament Notes


Phil Mickelson defends. The purse is $7 million, with $1.26 million to the winner. The par-71 TPC Boston measures 7,207 yards. The course record of 61 is held by Vijay Singh. Singh, the event’s 2004 winner, is considered to be a favorite after his two recent wins, including The Barclays last week in a playoff.

−The Armchair Golfer


Related:

2008 Deutsche Bank Championship Live Leaderboard
2008 FedEx Cup Standings

Wednesday, August 27

English as LPGA Langauge

(AP) THE LPGA WILL REQUIRE PLAYERS to speak English starting in 2009, with players who have been LPGA members for two years facing suspension if they can’t pass an oral evaluation of English skills.

(아태지역) 골프 선수들에게 영어를 요구할 것입니다 년부터 2009 년까지, 골프 회원과 선수들이 2 년 동안은 서스펜션에 직면 구두 만약 그들의 평가를 통과하지 못한 영어 실력을 키울 수있습니다.

(AP) LPGA kräver spelarna att tala engelska med början 2009, med spelare som har LPGA medlemmar för två år står inför avstängning om de inte kan passera en muntlig utvärdering av engelska kunskaper.

(AP) LA LPGA NECESITARÁ jugadores a hablar Inglés a partir de 2009, con jugadores que han sido LPGA miembros por dos años frente a la suspensión en caso de que no puede pasar una evaluación oral de Inglés habilidades.

(AP)を、女子プロゴルフツアーの選手が必要に英語を話すの開始は2009年、選手who女子プロゴルフツアーのメンバーが2年間に直面懸濁液に合格することはできません。経口すれば英語能力の評価です.

(AP) la LPGA, il faudra joueurs de parler l'anglais à partir de 2009, avec des joueurs qui ont été LPGA membres pour deux ans de suspension s'ils ne peuvent pas passer une évaluation orale des compétences en anglais.

(AP) DER LPGA erfordert Spieler, Englisch zu sprechen beginnt im Jahr 2009, mit Spielern, wurden LPGA Mitglieder für zwei Jahre vor Aussetzung, wenn sie nicht durch eine mündliche Bewertung der Englisch-Kenntnisse.

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, August 26

Q&A: Daniel Wexler on the 2008 Ryder Cup

I THOUGHT DANIEL WEXLER would be a great source to turn to for commentary on the 2008 Ryder Cup and a couple of other topics. This from his bio:

“Daniel Wexler is one of America's leading golf historians and writers, having authored five prominent books on classic course design, golf literature and the world’s greatest courses, as well as an encyclopedic volume profiling 1,300 of the game’s finest players, architects and journalists.”

Check out DanielWexler.com for complete coverage of professional golf worldwide. Following is our Q&A.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: Samuel Ryder once said, “It is really a great thing to know that although a man can be paid for playing a game he loves, he can at the same time play for the honor of his team and his country.” Is this a quaint idea in the current age of corporate-sponsored golf and millionaire pro golfers? Or does honor for team and country still have a place in the pro game?

DANIEL WEXLER:
The honor of playing for team and country absolutely still has a place – and I’m not personally aware of any past or present Ryder Cupper suggesting otherwise. The problem the players have had is not with playing golf for their country sans compensation; one only need look at the lengths they’ll go to in attempts at making the team to know that. The problem is the glad-handing promotional work that the PGA of America requires of them during the week – promotional work which allows the PGA to line its pockets by charging an arm and a leg for corporate tents, etc. And it’s not hard to understand why the player’s would want to be compensated for that, even if it comes in the form of charitable contributions.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: What’s wrong with the Ryder Cup?


DANIEL WEXLER:
To my taste, the jingoistic promoting of the event – though thankfully that has eased a bit since 9/11. The notion of demonizing the United Kingdom and Western Europe simply to make more money out of an event intended to celebrate the unique ties between the U.S. and U.K. never sat well with me. Also, the current course selection process is ludicrous. Money seems the sole consideration, which is why we find ourselves with silly sites like The Belfry, the K Club and Valhalla.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: What’s right with the Ryder Cup?

DANIEL WEXLER: The chance to see genuine, meaningful team play is rare in professional golf. No offense to the President’s Cup, but this is the one that really matters. I also personally enjoy the historical connection with the United Kingdom, and the game’s roots – but I doubt that’s much of a consideration for 99% of contemporary viewers.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: Can you provide a brief assessment of each team and its chances?


DANIEL WEXLER:
The European squad looks considerably stronger, deeper and tougher to me. They’ve got the best active player in the world in Padraig Harrington, plus world top sixes Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson, and players who are enjoying super seasons worldwide like Robert Karlsson, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell. I guess it says a lot that only at this point do we get to Justin Rose, who’s the 12th-ranked player in the world.

Tough group.

On our side, losing Tiger obviously is a disaster, and our more experienced Ryder Cuppers – Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk – enjoy 9-12-4 and 6-12-2 career cup ledgers. Then you’ve got players like Stewart Cink and Justin Leonard, whose form peaked back in the spring, and who seem somewhat on the downside now. About the only positive I can see is that by making four captain’s picks at the last possible moment, Paul Azinger can at least draft players who’ve demonstrated they’re on form.

It’s tough for me to see the Americans winning, but if they can hang close until the singles, you never know.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: Have you been surprised by the emergence of Padraig Harrington? Do you think he’ll continue to win majors?


DANIEL WEXLER: I don’t think his emergence is really much of a surprise. He was long considered an elite prospect in Europe, and though he finished second several million times in his early years, he also proved relatively quickly that he could win in America – a frequent stumbling block for European up-and-comers (ask Colin Montgomerie). So as far as winning more majors goes, save for Tiger, it’s difficult to predict that any one player will win one or more, simply because the odds are so great against it. But Harrington showed a rare ability to step on the gas when it most counted at both Birkdale and Oakland Hills, and anyone capable of summoning that kind of final-nine play must be considered a threat every time they tee it up.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: The golf world seems to be constantly searching for the next Tiger or Tiger challenger. Who do you like?


DANIEL WEXLER: None of the above. Tiger was ranked number one in the world in his early 20s. At present, the only under-25s in the top 50 are Anthony Kim (16) and Martin Kaymer (43) – and neither looks like challenging for number one anytime soon. Tiger is a rare talent. We’ll certainly see another dominant player someday, but none appear on the horizon right now.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: What are your working on?

DANIEL WEXLER:
I’ve just finished doing most of the North American section for an entirely new edition of The World Atlas of Golf, which is due out in October. Beyond that I’ve got a couple of things simmering, but as none are sold yet, I’m not yet entirely committed.

−The Armchair Golfer


Related:
2008 Ryder Cup Report
2008 U.S. Ryder Cup Team Takes Shape
2008 Ryder Cup Tickets Arrive

Monday, August 25

Singh Snatches Barclays from Garcia


Vijay Singh is on a late-season run. (Mike Davis/Flickr)

FINALLY. ON THE FIRST HOLE of a three-way sudden-death playoff at The Barclays, Sergio Garcia holed an improbable birdie putt from long range.

It was the kind of dramatic tournament-clinching putt Garcia has had trouble making in the past. But this one was rolling at just the right speed, and instead of missing left like so many of Sergio’s misses, it dove into the cup.

Wow. Game over, right?

Kevin Sutherland was done after making a mess of the 18th. He picked up his ball mark. All that was needed to make it official was for Vijay Singh to wave his broomstick-length putter and miss his 26-footer.

Surely, Vijay, of all people, wasn’t going to roll in THAT putt. Not on top of Sergio. No way.

Way. Singh nudged his Titleist into the cup.

On the next playoff hole, the par-5 17th, Garcia yanked his tee shot into the tree line. Singh split the fairway. After a rules clinic on burrowing animals and a Garcia birdie chip that narrowly missed, the Fijian calmly two-putted for the winning birdie.

That makes four Barclays titles for Mr. Singh and two wins in the last month. Veej is also your FedEx Cup leader.

Meanwhile, Garcia, the heartbreak kid, is scratching his head again. What does he have to do to win?

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, August 23

Ben Curtis’ Caddie Has Conflict of Interest

Andy Sutton (CaddyBytes.com)

ENGLISHMAN ANDY SUTTON IS THE CADDIE for Ben Curtis, PGA Tour player and member of the 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup team. But Sutton won’t be pulling for his boss or the Americans in the 2008 Ryder Cup matches next month in Louisville.

“He's rooting for Europe,” Curtis told USA Today.

“It would just be better to get an American on my side. We were both pretty mutual about it. He said he'd really do it if I really wanted him to, but it would work better if I found an American.”

Curtis and Sutton decided to part ways during Ryder Cup week, but the Englishman will be back on the bag thereafter.

−The Armchair Golfer

Related:

2008 Ryder Cup Report
2008 U.S. Ryder Cup Team Takes Shape

Friday, August 22

2008 Ryder Cup Tickets Arrive

MY 2008 RYDER CUP TICKETS arrived in the mail this week. I was excited to get them, especially after my Masters tickets were mistakenly returned to Augusta this past spring. That could have been a disaster.

I’m sitting at my desk leafing through the official 2008 Ryder Cup Spectator Guide in the hopes of providing you some fascinating nuggets. I’m still looking.

The guide is 66 pages, about half is advertising for Louisville and the state of Kentucky. I did peruse the spectator behavior section. Booing and jeering are out. Sportsmanship and respect are in.

The guide also has a more detailed TV schedule than I’ve seen elsewhere. I’ll post it later. (Now posted − see below.)

−The Armchair Golfer


More Ryder Cup coverage:
2008 Ryder Cup TV Schedule
2008 Ryder Cup: Valhalla Golf Club Preview
2008 Ryder Cup Report
Q&A: Daniel Wexler on 2008 Ryder Cup

2008 Barclays Live Leaderboard

Final results:

*1 Vijay Singh (-8)
T2 Sergio Garcia (-8)
T2 Kevin Sutherland (-8)
T4 Matthew Goggin (-7)
T4 Ben Curtis (-7)
T4 Kevin Streelman (-7)

*Won on second hole of sudden-death playoff.

−The Armchair Golfer

Related:

2008 Barclays TV Schedule
Steve Stricker on Putter Monogamy

Thursday, August 21

2008 Barclays TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

(Birdie93/Flickr)




FIFTEEN HOURS OF TV COVERAGE are scheduled for The Barclays this week at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, New Jersey. It’s the first of four events of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Tune in to the Golf Channel on Thursday and Friday, and CBS on the weekend.


Thursday, August 21:

2 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET on Golf Channel

Friday, August 22:

2 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET on Golf Channel

Saturday, August 23:

3 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET on CBS

Sunday, August 24:
2 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET on CBS

Satellite Radio


The PGA Tour Network on XM Satellite Radio will air 60 hours of coverage of The Barclays:

Thursday: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET
Friday: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET
Saturday: 6 A.m. to 8 p.m. ET
Sunday: 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. ET

(Note: You can listen to the coverage at PGATour.com.)

Tournament Notes

Steve Stricker defends. The purse is $7 million, with $1.26 million to the winner. Hunter Mahan is the clubhouse leader with a sizzling 62.

−The Armchair Golfer


Related:
Steve Stricker on Putter Monogamy

Steve Stricker on Putter Monogamy

Let the playoffs begin. (Birdie93/Flickr)

I’VE READ THAT ARNOLD PALMER changed putters (and other clubs) more often than greenskeepers changed pin placements. Well, almost.

As the defending champion of The Barclays, Steve Stricker was quizzed Wednesday on a number of subjects in the media center, including the putter.

So is Stricker a one-putter guy?

“I am,” Stricks told the scribblers. “I’ve had the same type of putter my entire career.”

And what is the name of his lifelong putter sweetheart?

“It’s all been pretty much an Odyssey,” he said. “But I had a black face and now I have a white face, but it’s the same design.”

And how long has this relationship lasted?

“I’ve putted with the same one for probably the last four or five years,” Steve said. “I may change the grip on there every once in awhile, but that’s about as bizarre as I get.”

Whoa. Don’t get too wild, Stricks.

The first leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, The Barclays gets underway Thursday at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, New Jersey.

−The Armchair Golfer


(Originally published at my other blog, MVN’s Down the Middle.)

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Wednesday, August 20

2008 Ryder Cup: Will Azinger Pick Himself?

OK, I ADMIT TO BEING FACETIOUS in my headline, but there are many ways Paul Azinger could go with his four captain’s picks for the 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup team.

It’s been widely reported that Zinger is willing to think outside the tee box when it comes to making his picks, including going “off” Tour to select a hot Nationwide or Champions Tour player. He might just have the guts (or stupidity?) to do such a thing, but I doubt that it will happen.

As I say in my 2008 Ryder Cup Report (sign up under the blue welcome message), having four picks (instead of the customary two) will mean that more responsibility for his team’s success or failure will rest on his shoulders.

And if Azinger was, in his absolute wildest thoughts, considering himself? (NO! NO! Don’t do it!)

Paul had a 5-7-3 overall record in four Ryder Cups. He was 2-0-2 in singles, including a hard-fought halve with Nick Faldo in 1993 after the Cup had been decided.

Recently, Zinger has made two cuts in eight 2008 events and is ranked 749th in the world. Hot or not, definitely not a good pick. Not that Paul is on anyone’s list.

−The Armchair Golfer

Related:

2008 Ryder Cup Report
2008 U.S. Ryder Cup Team Takes Shape

Monday, August 18

Carl Pettersson Leaps Into FedEx Cup Playoffs

CARL PETTERSSON WON THE WYNDHAM CHAMPIONSHIP with a 21-under total of 259. Pettersson torched the par-70 Sedgefield Country Club in the first three rounds, shooting 64-61-66. On Sunday, Carl coasted home with a 68 and a two-shot victory over Scott McCarron.

It was Pettersson’s third tour title and catapulted him from 58th to 13th in the FedEx Cup Standings.

The four-event playoffs begin next week with a field of 144 at The Barclays in Paramus, New Jersey. The five guys who played there way into the playoffs this past weekend were Rich Beem, Marin Laird, J.J. Henry, Justin Bolli and Lee Janzen. Davis Love III was among the casualties.

Not overly excited about the playoffs? Sorry, it’s all we have left other than the 2008 Ryder Cup. We’ll get through it together. It’s part of the mission.

Here’s some exciting news, at least for me. I’ll be attending the third leg of the playoffs, the BMW Championship at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis. So I’ll have on-course and media-center reports for you.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, August 16

Remembering Orville Moody: A Caddie’s Story (Conclusion)

Photo: Orville and Kim, his caddie and friend.

KIM GREEN WAS A CLOSE FAMILY FRIEND of Orville Moody, who died last week in Texas. Kim also caddied for “Sarge,” a U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open champion, in the early 1990s. She graciously shared many of her memories and stories of life on tour with Orville. Following is the conclusion.


I remember one time in Napa we had played well enough to be on TV.
So we went back to Orville’s condo and watched the coverage. We saw ourselves on the 18th hole and the commentators were making these statements about us. I remember looking at him and he looked at me and we just laughed because they were just making stuff up!

I'll never forget that when I started to caddie
I was in L.A. and going out to the parking lot at the course to get something for Orville. I passed this really nice man alone by his car. He looked up at me, smiled, and said hello. I casually said hello while thinking that I should know who that man is. It took me about five minutes to realize that Arnold Palmer had just said hello to me and I didn't even recognize him!

I also really loved Lee Trevino. He and Orville were two peas in a pod, and when they got together, it was a party. Lee and his caddie, Herman, were like an old married couple. One time in Florida we were walking down a fairway and Lee asked me if I had ever seen an alligator. I said no. So he took a golf club and went over to one of the ponds on the course. He started whacking the top of the water with his club and making strange sounds. I grabbed him and told him to knock it off and we laughed all the way to their second shots!

He also told me this hilarious story about his Rolls Royce
that he brought home and forgot to put in park. The poor car rolled down his driveway and into a lake on his property. The way he told it just made me cry with laughter.

Dave Stockton is another guy that is first class.
I think he felt sorry for me so he let me caddie for him a few times. I thought he'd let me have his bag permanently but he chose someone else. I was really disappointed but I understood. In the meantime I had quite a few tournaments with him and I just adored him. World-class golfer and human being. His whole family is wonderful.

Now I'm a wife, a mom to three boys that I home school, and have given up golf.
I thought I would be better after having been around such greatness. I expected to learn golf through osmosis. It was hard to play after what I witnessed. So I gave up the game. Someday when I have time, I hope to take it up again. I'll do it in honor of Orville.

−The Armchair Golfer


Related:
Remembering Orville Moody: A Caddie’s Story (Part 1)
Riding Shotgun with Orville Moody

Friday, August 15

Remembering Orville Moody: A Caddie’s Story

Photo: Orville and Kim, his caddie and friend.

KIM GREEN WAS A CLOSE FAMILY FRIEND of Orville Moody, who died last week in Texas. Kim also caddied for “Sarge,” a U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open champion, in the early 1990s. She graciously shared many of her memories and stories about Orville and life on tour. Following is the first of two parts.


Orville died this morning. His cancer had returned and I assume that his body just gave out. My father was one of his best friends and he can’t talk about it yet. It is almost a relief because he was not in a good state after the stroke.

Orville was a good ole boy and never tried to hurt a fly. He was generous to the point of enabling and never could say no. Not in his whole life. Even in the Army he was always giving away what little money he had to those around him. Orville was uncomplicated and refreshing. He was fun to be around, except when he wasn’t playing well and wanted to blame his caddie for his yips. (Smile.)

I was his caddie after college, so it was a long time ago. He introduced me to a life that was exciting and challenging, and not for me. But it was so amazing to hear stories and walk down beautiful fairways with the likes of Orville, Dave Stockton, Gene Littler and Lee Trevino. Chi Chi was insane. Really.

Orville helped me heal from a broken engagement by bringing me out on tour afterwards. He helped me to see the world and experience amazing things. I will always be grateful for his many kindnesses and generosity. He didn’t have much in the end because he gave EVERYTHING away. It’s been said of some people that they can never see the bad in others. Orville was truly that way. Or else he just didn’t care. He still gave what he had.

He had his faults, but his kindnesses and love and generosity made putting up with him so easy. He would stay with my parents, and my mom and grandma would cook his favorite Korean food, which would take him back to his Army days. Oh how he loved his mandu!

I was after Michelle.
(Editor’s note: Orville’s daughter, Michelle caddied for her father after he came out on the Senior Tour. It was a popular story at the time.) I had to have a badge made that said, “No, I’m not his daughter.” Everyone would ask me and I would hear it whispered all the time. I got so tired of explaining who I was. I wore it on my hat.

Lots of tournaments stand out, but I don’t have the memory those golf guys have.
They can tell you 100 years later about every shot they hit on every hole at every tournament. It’s uncanny. They probably don’t remember to take out the garbage at home, but they remember every shot.

We had a tournament where we did really well on the first day.
I think it was TPC Tampa. Orville asked me to read the longest putt. It must have been 40 feet. I told him the line, which was like a snake. I was half kidding because I knew that he had no shot. He wasn’t the greatest putter in the world. But, you know, he hit that ball exactly where I told him and made an outstanding putt that got him a standing ovation from the crowd. He was as amazed as anyone.

(To be continued.)

−The Armchair Golfer


Related:

Remembering Orville Moody: A Caddie's Story (Conclusion)
Riding Shotgun with Orville Moody

Thursday, August 14

Tiger Fan Speaks Out as Golf’s TV Ratings Plummet


Many fans don't watch golf unless Tiger Woods is playing.
(Lauren/Flickr)


“WITHOUT TIGER, TV GOLF IS IN A TAILSPIN” said the headline of a recent story at Golf.com.

“Golf's TV ratings have fallen into the abyss,” wrote Sports Illustrated Senior Editor Dick Friedman. “Despite Padraig Harrington’s thrilling victory on Sunday at Oakland Hills, the overnight rating for the PGA Championship was 3.0, down 55% from last year's final round at Southern Hills — an event won by (surely you recall) Woods.”

In an effort to dig deeper, ARMCHAIR GOLF interviewed a devoted Tiger fan to get his reaction to the current state of pro golf.

Q: What effect has Tiger’s season-ending injury had on your golf-viewing habits?


WHISKERS: Meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow. Meow, meow meow meow, meow meow meow meow meow meow.

Q: You’re not alone. The ratings are way down. But we’ve been told you’re getting more exercise. That’s good.

WHISKERS:
Meow.

Q: So what have you been doing now that you’re not watching Tiger play?


WHISKERS: Meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow.

Q: Anything else besides spending more time outdoors?


WHISKERS:
Meow meow.

Q: Are you going to watch the Ryder Cup?

WHISKERS:
Meow!

Q: Really? But you would if Tiger played?

WHISKERS: Meow, meow meow.

Q: Sure, I understand. Thanks for taking the time.


WHISKERS: Meow meow.

Wednesday, August 13

2008 Wyndham Championship TV Schedule and Notes

Brandt Snedeker

TWENTY HOURS OF TV COVERAGE are scheduled for this week’s Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina. Tune in to the Golf Channel on Thursday and Friday and CBS on the weekend.

Thursday, August 14:

9 a.m. to 12 a.m. ET on Golf Channel
3 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET on Golf Channel

Friday, August 15:
6 a.m. to 8 a.m. ET on Golf Channel
9 a.m. to 12 a.m. ET on Golf Channel
3 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET on Golf Channel

Saturday, August 16:

3 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET on CBS

Sunday, August 17:
3 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET on CBS

Satellite Radio


The PGA Tour Network on XM Satellite Radio will air 38 hours of coverage of the Wyndham Championship:

Thursday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET
Friday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET
Saturday: 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET
Sunday: 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. ET

(Note: You can listen to the coverage at PGATour.com.)

Tournament Notes

Brandt Snedeker defends. The purse is $5.1 million, with $918,000 to the winner. It’s the last chance for players to earn FedEx Cup points and secure a spot in the playoffs.

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, August 12

News from Tiger

(Mike Davis/Flickr)

I JUST RECEIVED MY TIGER WOODS newsletter. Following are excerpts:
Things are lot better since I last wrote to you. I'm a lot more mobile, which is really nice. I can't catch Sam yet, but I'm getting close. The big thing is I've started my rehab and can ride the bike. I can't ride it hard -- just motion -- but am getting in two or three sessions a day.

As far as swinging a club, that's not going to happen until next year. I just don't have a choice. We simply don't know what type of swelling there would be or if there would be any residual effects the next day once you start wheeling and dealing on the knee. Everyone's body reacts differently. I could putt right now, but I'm not going to do it.

I don't know what the doctors are going to tell me about playing golf down the road. I'm taking it day-to-day, week-to-week. All I'm doing every day is looking forward to my next day.

A lot of guys have checked in with me to see how I'm doing. It's been an unbelievable response and I really appreciate it.
I checked in too, Tiger, but my email bounced harder than a Terrell Owens spike.
Initially, I probably lost about 10 pounds because I wasn't working out. All of that was muscle. I've put about two pounds back on, but I'm still pretty light. I'm eating mostly raw and organic foods that provide the most nutrients.

I didn't watch much of the British Open and saw a little bit of the British Senior Open, because my friend John Cook was in contention.

I watched some of the PGA Championship and want to congratulate Padraig Harrington on his wins at the British and PGA. As a two-time defending PGA champion, it was a lot more frustrating not to be competing and that hurts the most.

The thing I miss the most about not competing is the fight. I've gone through this experience before, so I knew what I was in for. I know I'm in no condition to beat anybody right now, so I don't have a problem with not being able to compete.

I will definitely watch some of the Ryder Cup Matches and will be pulling hard for the American Team. I wish I could do more than root!

That's all for now. Enjoy the rest of your summer and I'll talk to you soon.
−The Armchair Golfer

GOLF BRIEFS

As a service to readers, golf events, products, services and more. (Endorsement not implied.)
GolfGrouper.com is a new golf membership site with lots of features … Highway 18, a reality series, airs Tuesdays on the Golf Channel … Author and fitness guru Ted Vickey has released his new book, 101 Fitness Tips for Golf … Tomi.com has a new putting aid … Pediro.com offers top golf brands … CharityBuzz.com is hosting the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation Auction, which includes the chance to meet Tiger Woods … Getting Into Guinness, a book by golf journalist Larry Olmstead, is now available … The Right Sticks by Tom Wishon with Tom Grundner is a golf instruction book that dispels common myths … the 2nd Annual Patriot Golf Day will be on Labor Day weekend … William Oliver has launched GolfAttractors.com … Peter Post has written Playing Through, A Guide to the Unwritten Rules of Golf … the ClubCorp Charity Classic on September 26 will benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association … FiZGOLF will be at the PGA Fall Expo on September 26-27.
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2008 U.S. Ryder Cup Team Takes Shape

Ben Curtis (Mike Davis/Flickr)

WE NOW KNOW EIGHT of the 12 members of the 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup team. The PGA Championship was the cutoff for earning a spot on the team via the points system. The remaining four team members will be captain’s picks.

Here are the top eight on points:

1. Phil Mickelson (5,342.500)
2. Stewart Cink 4,952.665)
3. Kenny Perry (4,480.700)
4. Jim Furyk (4,423.892)
5. Anthony Kim (4,035.296)
6. Justin Leonard (3,379.274)
7. Ben Curtis (3,120.061)
8. Boo Weekley (2,785.095)

Ben Curtis’ second-place finish at the PGA propelled him onto the U.S. squad. Steve Stricker got knocked off. Boo Weekley hung on, barely.

If you haven’t signed up yet for my free 2008 Ryder Cup Report, it’s just under the blue welcome message to your right.

−The Armchair Golfer


Related:
2008 Ryder Cup Report

Monday, August 11

Sheriff Harrington Wins Shootout at PGA Championship

THERE’S A NEW SHERIFF ON TOUR, and he has an Irish brogue and answers to “Paddy.” Padraig Harrington is his full name, and he’s one cold-blooded major winner, snatching two in a row and three of the last six.

On Sunday at Oakland Hills, Sheriff Harrington again shot that Spanish gun named Sergio Garcia right through the heart. Padraig holed three killer mid-range putts on the last three holes. (And I thought there was only one golfer on the planet who did this stuff.)

The new sheriff posted 66-66 in the final two rounds. Bam bam! You’re all dead.

(By the way, I must have completely missed the day Tiger Woods deputized Padraig Harrington and gave the Irishman instructions to run things until he, Sheriff Woods, returns.)

I’ve been traveling the last day and a half, so I’m late to the post-PGA party. But I did see the final nine holes yesterday afternoon at Oakland Hills. I was transfixed. Ben Curtis, Garcia and Harrington were slashing away, up one minute, down the next.

Sergio’s closing 69-68 was very good, but not good enough. Curtis played himself on to the U.S. Ryder Cup team. And what can you say about Harrington?

Padraig made history and maybe, just maybe, there’s finally a guy not named Tiger who can win majors on a regular basis. I’m impressed.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, August 9

It’s Saturday Night and J.B. Holmes Still Leads PGA

J.B. Holmes (Gordons/Flickr)

WHEN I PLAYED ON my high school golf team, I was in high school. J.B. Holmes played on the Taylor County (Ky.) High School golf team when he was in third grade.

Are you kidding me? A nine-year-old!

Holmes played No. 1 as a fifth-grader and eventually won the state title as a tenth-grader. (Gee, J.B., what took you so long?)

The 26-year-old Holmes, a University of Kentucky product who hopes to make the Ryder Cup team so he can play in his home state, is the only man under par at the PGA Championship.

Saturday’s third round at Oakland Hills was a washout. That wasn’t so bad because I got to see parts of that amazing Tiger Woods-Bob May duel at the 2000 PGA Championship. That was as good as it gets.

As for Sunday, it will be 36 nerve-wracking holes for Holmes, who has never finished higher than 25th in a major. We’ll see how the young two-time winner holds up.

One last thing. His first name is John, but he likes to go by J.B. That means he’s also bidding to be the best tour pro with initials as a first name. So watch out D.J. Trahan, D.A. Weibring, J.P. Hayes, T.C. Chen, R.H. Sikes and any others I can’t remember.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, August 8

Riding Shotgun with Orville Moody

ORVILLE MOODY, THE 1969 U.S. OPEN CHAMPION, died today in Texas. He was 74. Reports didn’t give a cause of death, but he had been in poor health for most of the year after suffering a massive stroke.

A former caddie informed me of Orville’s death via email before the news hit the wire. I hope to have more later, but now I bring you a story I published last fall at MVN’s Down the Middle. I spent time with Orville in Baltimore, which I’m pretty certain was his last competitive event on the Grand Champions circuit.


(October 2, 2007)

“You want to ride with me? It will be easier to keep up.”

Sure, I said to Orville Moody.

I was at a Grand Champions event in Baltimore, the prelude to this week’s Senior Players Championship. Since befriending Jack Fleck in March I’ve been on the golf legends circuit throughout the year, attending events at Savannah, Hickory (North Carolina) and, this past weekend, Baltimore.

I’ve had unique access to many golf legends — players I watched or knew of while growing up. Thanks to my association with Jack, I’ve eaten in the players’ dining rooms, hung out in the locker rooms and shuttled back and forth to hotels where I’ve rubbed elbows with several former tour pros. You can bet I’ve heard plenty of golf stories, too.

‘Sarge’

Back to Orville Moody or “Sarge,” my companion for 18 holes at the Baltimore Country Club East Course, a rolling, old-style layout with sloping greens created by famed architect A.W. Tillinghast.

Nicknamed Sarge because of his Army days, Orville Moody was the last local qualifier to win the U.S. Open, coming from virtually nowhere to claim the trophy in 1969 at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas. It was the only tour win for a sweet ball-striker who couldn’t putt.

About the time the Champions Tour (called the Senior Tour at the time) was cranking up in the mid 1980s, Sarge turned 50 and started winning tournaments in bunches, thanks, in large part, to his long putter, considered a novelty in those days. Moody won 11 times on the senior circuit and is one of only four men who has won both the U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open.

This past weekend Sarge was partnered with Jack Fleck in a best-ball tournament that featured several legends — Jim Feree, Fred Hawkins, Gene Littler, Don January, Billy Casper, Bob Goalby, Dow Finsterwald, Doug Ford, Doug Sanders, Lee Elder and Billy Maxwell, to name most of them.

Caddie by Default

Many of the legends don’t hire caddies for these events, so as we rolled down the second fairway I realized I could play caddie for Sarge, although I would steer clear of yardages, club selection and reading greens. I’ve been around golf, but I’m not going to pretend to be a “real” caddie. Still, for 40 or so years Moody has been accustomed to handing his golf ball and clubs to somebody. On Sunday, I was that somebody.

There was some chit-chat, mostly initiated by Orville. I was not going to yap at him or do anything to possibly distract him from his work, which I could tell he took seriously even if it was “just” a legends best-ball for a quarter-million dollar purse.

How serious?

On the 8th hole Sarge removed his shoe and sock to have a go at a ball in a greenside pond. He slipped on the bank and almost fell in the drink. Then he slashed at the ball with his 60-degree wedge, splattering mud on his dark slacks and pale green shirt.

There I was on the green toweling off his muddy, grassy bare foot. I know it might sound weird, but it seemed like the right thing to do. (Orville’s lower back bothers him and I figured bending over to towel off and slip on his sock and shoe might be a problem.)

Sarge was a mess and, I think, a bit flustered, too. It was awkward. Yet my instinct was to help my player.

I enjoyed watching Moody’s shot preparation. I did, in fact, give him yardages off sprinkler heads, adding and subtracting based on the pin placements. Once Sarge pulled a club and got over the ball there was no hesitation. His compact swing produced low straight shots with the hint of a fade. His speed on the slick, sloping greens was good. Determining the correct lines was another matter.

After coming off the 18th hole, I thanked Orville for allowing me to ride along. “I’ll probably see you at the Legends in Savannah next April,” I told him.

I knew Sarge wasn’t thrilled about his play — especially on the back nine — but he said I made the day more enjoyable. I felt good about that.

−The Armchair Golfer


Related:
Remembering Orville Moody: A Caddie’s Story (Part 1)
Remembering Orville Moody: A Caddie’s Story (Conclusion)

Thursday, August 7

2008 Ryder Cup Report

WHILE THE 2008 RYDER CUP BUZZ has been growing, I’ve been burning up the keyboard to bring you something new from ARMCHAIR GOLF: a free 27-page report on the 2008 Ryder Cup.

This is the first of what I hope will be many special reports. Just sign up at right and I’ll send you an email with a link to download your free copy.

(NOTE: Sign up in the right-hand column, just under the blue welcome message. If you’re reading this via email, through a feed, or at a news site, click through to the ARMCHAIR GOLF BLOG.)

What, exactly, will you get? Here's the table of contents for my free 2008 Ryder Cup Report:

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Ryder Cup History
Who for the Love of Golf Was Samuel Ryder?
The Ryder Cup (Trophy)
Ryder Cup Results
All-time Ryder Cup Records
Ryder Cup Snapshot: 1957

2008 Ryder Cup Venue and Format

The Course: Valhalla Golf Club
Ryder Cup Match Format
Ryder Cup Order of Play
Ryder Cup TV Coverage

2008 Ryder Cup Teams
How to Make the U.S. Ryder Cup Team
2008 U.S. Ryder Cup Team Standings
U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Paul Azinger
Captain Paul’s Picks
How to Make the European Ryder Cup Team
2008 Ryder Cup World Points List
2008 European Ryder Cup Points List
European Ryder Cup Captain Nick Faldo
Captain Nick’s Picks

About The Armchair Golfer
Sources


After you sign up for the 2008 Ryder Cup Report, be sure to drop me a line and tell me what you think. Plus, keep stopping by here for 2008 Ryder Cup updates.

−The Armchair Golfer

More Ryder Cup coverage:
2008 Ryder Cup TV Schedule
2008 Ryder Cup: Valhalla Golf Club Preview
Q&A: Daniel Wexler on 2008 Ryder Cup

Wednesday, August 6

Tiger Woods Will Win the 90th PGA Championship


I'm picking this guy to win the year's last major.
(Marcia Cirillo/Flickr)


AFTER NOT PICKING TIGER WOODS at Torrey Pines because I reasoned a crippled person couldn’t win in U.S. Open conditions, I vowed to never go against him again. NEVER.

So I’m picking Tiger Woods to win the PGA Championship that begins Thursday at Oakland Hills.

I know what you’re thinking. He’s not entered. But if anyone could win a major without being entered, it would be Tiger Woods.

Maybe all 156 players will withdraw or be DQd and the PGA of America will decide that Tiger can hang on to the trophy for another year. Or maybe the player who wins just won’t feel worthy and decide to give the silver cup back to Tiger.

After all, who really wants an asterisk by his name?

−The Armchair Golfer*


*Blogging about golf while Tiger Woods is injured.

The Wanamaker Trophy

(Mike Davis/Flickr)

HERE'S WHAT THEY'RE PLAYING FOR in the 90th PGA Championship. (Plus $1.26 million, plus exemptions galore, plus getting the major monkey off their back, if they’re majorless.)

Ladies and gentlemen, I present the Wanamaker Trophy. Shiny, isn’t it?

Of course, as with anything that’s 90, there’s a story behind it. It’s named after Rodman Wanamaker, a man of means who took up the cause of professional golfers when they were considered to be lowly working class and not allowed in the clubhouse or locker room. Think Walter Hagen era.

Wanamaker thought this was wrong, so he spearheaded the formation of the PGA of America and its pros-only tournament, the PGA Championship. He launched the effort with $2,500 and ordered the silver cup. Every pro who tees off on Thursday to play for the $7 million purse should say a word of thanks for Rodman Wanamaker.

One more thing. The original Wanamaker Trophy was huge –- more than two feet tall and two feet wide (handle to handle) and weighing 27 pounds. That’s a lot of silver to hoist. Today the PGA awards a smaller replica to the winner.

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, August 5

Dow Finsterwald Photo Gallery

AS A FOLLOW-UP TO MY PIECE on Dow Finsterwald, I want to point you to a photo gallery I ran across at PGA.com. There are a lot of neat photos of Dow, from his playing days to the present day:

Dow photo gallery

I failed to mention in my previous post that Finsterwald played on four U.S. Ryder Cup teams and was captain of the 1977 team.

−The Armchair Golfer


Related:
1958 PGA Champion Dow Finsterwald
2008 PGA Championship TV Schedule

2008 PGA Championship TV Schedule

TWENTY-EIGHT HOURS OF TV COVERAGE are scheduled for the year’s final major, the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Township, Michigan. Tune in to TNT on Thursday and Friday, and TNT and CBS on the weekend. All times are U.S./Canada Eastern Time (ET).

Thursday, August 7:
1 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET on TNT

Friday, August 8:

1 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET on TNT

Saturday, August 9:

11 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET on TNT
2 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET on CBS

Sunday, August 10:
11 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET on TNT
2 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET on CBS

Satellite Radio


The PGA Tour Network on XM Satellite Radio will air 39 hours of coverage of the PGA Championship:

Thursday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET
Friday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET
Saturday: 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET
Sunday: 1 p.m. to 12 a.m. ET

(Note: You can listen to the live radio coverage at PGATour.com.)

Tournament Notes


Defending champion Tiger Woods is not entered due to recovery from knee surgery. A field of 156 will compete for the Wanamaker Trophy and a purse totaling $7 million, with $1.26 million to the winner.

−The Armchair Golfer


Related:

Tiger Woods Will Win the 90th PGA Championship
The Wanamaker Trophy
Oakland Hills Is Ready to Humble World’s Best Golfers
1958 PGA Champion Dow Finsterwald

Monday, August 4

1958 PGA Champion Dow Finsterwald

FIFTY YEARS AGO AFTER A LONG HISTORY as a match-play tournament, the PGA Championship became a stroke-play event. The 1958 PGA Championship was also the first major to be televised (although parts of other majors had been televised).

The winner of that first stroke-play PGA Championship, which was played at Llanerch Country Club in Havertown, Pennsylvania, was Ohio native Dow Finsterwald.

Before Arnold Palmer was Arnold Palmer, Finsterwald, along with players such as Gene Littler and Mike Souchak, was considered to be a rising star. Dow and Arnie became (and remain) close friends.

Finsterwald’s victory at the PGA Championship turned out to be his only major win, although he had several close calls in a career that produced 11 PGA Tour titles. He is the retired director of golf at Broadmoor Country Club, site of this past week’s U.S. Senior Open.

Golf Talk with Dow

I’ve gotten acquainted with Dow on the legends circuit in the past year or so. Last fall I called him at his home in Orlando to talk about life on tour in the 1950s. Following are some snippets.

“What do you remember about your first tour win at the 1955 Fort Wayne Open?” I asked.

“Certainly, it was a big step to win your first tournament,” Dow said.

“At that time it entailed an invitation to the Tournament of Champions. I don’t remember if that was a full-year exemption or not at that time. But it put me pretty well into position where I was going to finish on the money list in such a way that I would be exempt. It was a big step in my golfing tournament career.”

“What are your recollections of playing the tour in the 1950s and early 1960s?”

“I think the players then were probably a closer knit group in that there was a lot of travel by car,” Dow said.

“There weren’t the outside opportunities to do outings, and we all showed up at the golf course for practice rounds. A lot of times, we shared cars for driving. We even shared rooms. I don’t think you see much of that out there now. And because of that situation, some very close friendships were developed.”

And I asked him about Ben Hogan. I always ask these guys about Hogan.

Said Dow: “I think the best description was he was a very private person. An example I try to give to exemplify that is we were invited to his home, maybe five or six players, Palmer, Souchak, to dinner at his home at Shady Oaks, which was in the late 50s. It was about a 4,000 square foot home, as I remember. He had one bedroom. One bedroom.”

−The Armchair Golfer

Sunday, August 3

Singh Survives Yips to Win WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

Adventures in putting for Vijay Singh.
(Gordons/Flickr)


I DON’T REMEMBER WHO VIJAH SINGH is working with, but he better get on the phone with him in a hurry. I can’t recall ever seeing a tour pro beat a world-class field without making a putt outside of three feet, but that about sums up Singh’s victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Hey, a win is a win. I’m not trying to be overly harsh. Still, Singh has serious issues with the flatstick. As fine a ball-striker as the Fijian is, I can’t see him contending on those Oakland Hills greens in next week’s PGA Championship.

Vijay got some serious help on Sunday from Lee Westwood and Phil Mickelson. I listened to the last four or five holes on XM Satellite radio, so I didn’t actually see it. I know this: Phil bogeyed three of the last four holes, and left –- what? –- two putts short that were dead in the hole.

It was as if all three 54-hole leaders were trying to give the tournament away. And Tiger was nowhere near Akron. He's home playing video games. It's time to step up, fellas. Uh, fellas?

Nonetheless, the people at Firestone would not be thwarted. They were adamant about handing the trophy to somebody, which turned out to be Singh. Score another victory for a 40-something.

−The Armchair Golfer

Ji-Yai Shin Claims Women’s British Open Title

MAYBE ANNIKA HAS THE RIGHT IDEA. She is leaving the game for her own reasons, but the surge of young talent in women’s golf might have me thinking about hanging up my cleats.

Exhibit A: 20-year-old Ji-Yai Shin. The world No. 10, who plays the South Korean LPGA Tour, put on a clinic in the final round of the Women’s British Open at Sunningdale Golf Club on Sunday. Shin shot a bogey-free 66 en route to a three-shot victory. She made it look easy. Fairways, greens, birdies, pars. It was a yawner.

Honestly, I’d never seen Shin play, so I suppose it could be that she just had a really good week. But she must have a lot of good weeks if she’s won something like 10 of her last 19 starts.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, August 2

The Mechanic, Part II: How to Make a 1

HERE'S THE MECHANIC (Miguel Angel Jimenez) demonstrating how to make a 1 at the Dubai Desert Classic.



I like the way he hit it in on the fly. It takes the guesswork out of judging the hop, spin, break and speed of the green.

−The Armchair Golfer

WGC-Bridgestone Invitational: The Mechanic


Miguel Angel Jimenez launches one at The Open Championship.
(Steven Newton/Flickr)


THEY CALL HIM THE MECHANIC. I’m referring, of course, to Miguel Angel Jimenez, and today on the CBS telecast Faldo and crew were wondering aloud about the nickname. Were they serious?

One of them said Jimenez got the nickname because he used to look like a mechanic when he played on tour, carrying a rag in his back pocket to clean his ball.

C’mon guys. It says on his European Tour bio that he got the nickname because he prefers driving (not repairing) his red Ferrari. The pony-tailed Spaniard also has a penchant for cigars, red wine and espresso.

If you think some of the old guys on the PGA Tour are having a good year, check out the 44-year-old Mechanic. Jimenez is leading the European Tour Order of Merit, has two wins, and finished in the top 10 at the Masters and U.S. Open. I think he’s a lock for the European Ryder Cup team.

The Mechanic is in a five-way tie for sixth at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, four shots off the pace set by Lee Westwood, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, August 1

Oakland Hills Is Ready to Humble World’s Best Golfers

THE MONSTER IS READY. Oakland Hills, site of next week’s PGA Championship, is groomed and sufficiently gnarly as it awaits the arrival of the world’s best golfers.

This monster, as Ben Hogan famously called it after his 1951 U.S. Open victory, will be a severe test for the field of the 90th PGA Championship, according to course superintendent Steve Cook.

“We’ve made our par 3s longer and tougher, narrowed the fairways, and really paid attention to the landing areas,” Cook said in a news release.

Oakland Hills is 7,439 yards and plays to a par of 70. The greens are Poa annua and will roll at 12 on the Stimpmeter. The bentgrass fairways are narrowed and many of the 135 bunkers have been redone and relocated.

“It places a premium on tee shot accuracy,” Cook said. “We've also tried to make our bunkers more penal and very hazardous. Plus, it’s difficult to get to the right spots on the greens — the hole locations shrink them because of the undulations and shelving.”

Words such as “penal,” “very hazardous,” “undulations” and “shelving” are a strong tipoff. Oakland Hills is going to be a brute. The PGA Championship doesn’t normally play as tough as the U.S. Open, but this year might be an exception.

−The Armchair Golfer