Monday, August 31

Golf’s Twilight Zone, Starring Heath Slocum



TIGER WOODS MISSED a seven-foot birdie putt on the final hole of The Barclays that would have tied him for the lead. Meanwhile, Heath Slocum slammed home a 21-foot tournament-winning putt on the 72nd hole.

Welcome to golf’s Twilight Zone.

Did you see it? Slocum’s putt was a thing of beauty. Perfect pace, center cut, as those CBS guys like to say. It reminded me of, well, Tiger. And Tiger reminded me of, well, everybody else, rifling his game-tying seven-footer past the left-hand side of the cup. It didn’t even rim out.

See how weird and other worldly golf’s Twilight Zone is?

Slocum, Mr. 124 in the FedEx Cup standings entering The Barclays, has catapulted to third place in the playoffs points race. Tiger and Steve Stricker occupy the top two spots.

What does this portend for next week?

I think it’s pretty obvious. Ryuji Imada (No. 99) or Daniel Chopra (No. 100) is going to win the Deutsche Bank Championship.

It’s the playoffs, golf’s Twilight Zone, where the Heath Slocums take over the golf world. Hey, maybe Feherty is actually Rod Serling with an Irish accent.

−The Armchair Golfer

Sunday, August 30

Aging Golfers Face Many Challenges


“Old” Tom Watson provided thrills at the British Open.
(scotchollie/Flickr)

Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


MOST GOLF ANALYSTS BELIEVE golfers reach their peak in their 30s. Many pro golfers agree, and there has been statistical data that supports the theory.

That’s why it was such an incredible feat when Tom Watson, who had undergone hip replacement surgery less than a year earlier, almost won the British Open at 59 years old.

Tom Terrific aside, there are a number of challenges older golfers face during a competitive or leisure round of golf.

Loss in Muscle Mass

Over the age of 30, a golfer begins to gradually lose muscle mass. Lipofuscin, also called the aging pigment, moves into muscle tissues, causing muscle fibers to eventually shrink.

The loss of muscle mass ultimately reduces strength and coordination, especially the strength needed to produce a powerful swing. But weakness and reduced strength also cause most back and shoulder injuries associated with golf-related movements. Because muscle tissue takes longer to heal as golfers get older, recovery from shoulder and back injuries also takes longer and pain does not subside as quickly.

Breakdown of Joints


Due to the high number of repetitive motions, golfers are more prone than the average person to joint problems and arthritis at an earlier age. The process can start in the 20s and 30s, and most golfers over the age of 60 have some degree of osteoarthritis, which causes the cartilage in a joint to lose flexibility and make it stiffer.

The cartilage begins to lose its function as a lubricator and shock absorber, causing pain in the ligaments and tendons. Eventually the bones could rub together from the wear and tear of the cartilage.

The rotating motions of the spine during golf cause the joints of the vertebrae to break down faster. Golfers may experience arthritis of the spine, causing limited mobility and pain that can radiate to other parts of the body. Joint breakdown can also affect the shoulders, hips, knees, wrists and elbows of golfers.

Decreased Eyesight

When golfers reach about 50, age-related macular degeneration, which is deterioration in the center of the retina, can gradually produce hazy or blurry vision and a decrease of acuity of central vision. The resulting blurriness and reduced sharpness can affect golfers’ decision-making and accuracy.

Fortunately, older age doesn’t mean golfers can’t enjoy the game, improve their skills and give younger players a run for their money. Tom Watson and other age 50-plus players are living proof.

To help prevent some common ailments associated with aging, older golfers may find it beneficial to engage in strength-training exercises, stretches and a little bit more rest.

With many luxurious Panama hotels in close proximity to great golf courses, rest and relaxation is readily available to golfers of all ages.

(Brought to you by Veneto and the ARMCHAIR GOLF STORE.)

Saturday, August 29

Was Liberty National Better as a Munitions Dump?


(Image: Heritage-Links.com)

Out here, guys bitch about everything. They even bitch about the ice cream.
−Ed Dougherty, former PGA Tour player

I WAS REMINDED OF the above quote (one of my favorites) from reading some of the pros’ comments about Liberty National Golf Club, site of this week’s The Barclays, the first of four FedEx Cup Playoffs events. Many are obviously not fond of Liberty National, including Tiger Woods, who suggested that Tom Kite designed the track before Kite had his eye surgery.

Maybe Liberty National does stink (no pun intended about the former munitions dump and petroleum tank farm); I really don’t know. Decontaminating the land and building a golf club with views of Lady Liberty and Manhattan seems laudable to me. Call me naïve, Pollyanish.

Players will say what they want, which is fine. And I won’t be able to relate. Nor will I have sympathy for their disappointment with “the green complexes” or other course features. How could I? They’re playing for a $7.5 million purse this week. The winner of the FedEx Cup will walk off with $10 mil.

As for me, I don’t have the luxury of bitching about the ice cream. I’m just glad if I get some.

Paul Goydos and Steve Marino share the 54-hole lead. Several players are within striking distance. Tiger is five back.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, August 28

King of Golf Cartoons: ‘Danger’


Copyright © Jerry King. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

What dangerous situations have you encountered on the golf course?

−The Armchair Golfer

Jerry King is an award-winning cartoonist whose credits and clients include Golf Digest, United States Golf Association and Disney. His golf cartoons are regularly featured at ARMCHAIR GOLF.

Thursday, August 27

ARMCHAIR GOLF Blogarama

(Mike Licht/Flickr)

Marci Diehl offers a three-word golf and life mantra: Let It Happen. (Changing Your Grip)

Heather Jones would love the Solheim Cup even more if the TV coverage picked up the pace. (Real Women Golf)

The Golf Girl blogs about her golf adventure in Greece. (Golf Girl’s Diary)

Stephanie Wei wants to appoint Freddie Couples as golf ambassador. (Wei Under Par)

Bob Smiley covers Tiger Woods in his unique way, including in Follow the Roar, which is now out in paperback. (Fore Right)

Robert Bruce has video of the world’s worst golf swing (with a visor tip to Aussie Golfer). No, it’s not Charles Barkley. (Game Under Repair)

Geoff Shackelford reports on the Stewart Cink tweet that upset PGA Tour sensibilities. (Geoff Shackelford)

Phil Capelle writes about Tiger cheerleader Hank Haney. (Capelle on Golf)

Ryan Ballengee on Liberty National, site of this week’s The Barclays, and hiding New Jersey’s trash problem. (Waggle Room)

No majors, but Tiger wins some skins, writes Shane Bacon. (Golf Fanhouse)

Jay Busbee on how Arnold Palmer saved the Senior PGA Tour. (Devil Ball Golf)

Golf Dash Blog on golf’s elusive magic move. (Golf Dash Blog)

Vince Spence on who will bite the dust in the FedEx Cup Playoffs this week. (One-Eyed Golfer)

Charles Boyer writes about Liberty National Golf Club as a symbol of renewal and hope. (Me and Old Man Par)

For more golf buzz, check out the sidebar for links to a bevy of golf blogs, golf media and other golf sites.

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, August 26

2009 Barclays TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2009 BARCLAYS begins on Thursday at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Purse: $7.5 million
Winner’s share: $1.35 million
Defending champion: Vijay Singh

FedEx Cup Playoffs preview
Inside the field
Inside the course
Thursday and Friday tee times

2009 Barclays Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

Thirteen hours of TV coverage are on tap for the 2009 Barclays.

Thu, 8/27:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Fri, 8/28:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Sat, 8/29:

CBS 3p - 6p ET

Sun, 8/30:

CBS 2p - 6p ET

PGA Tour radio coverage

−The Armchair Golfer

Monday, August 24

Exclusive Post-PGA Interview with Tiger’s Left Knee

Tiger’s Left Knee in action.
(McAlpine/Flickr)






IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW, Tiger’s Left Knee talked to ARMCHAIR GOLF about the troubling days following the PGA Championship and provided an inside glimpse at Camp Tiger. Tiger’s Left Knee spoke to me by telephone from his home in Windermere, Florida.

Q: As always, thanks for the visit.


LEFT KNEE: Sure.

Q: So, how are things in the Tiger camp after the huge disappointment at Hazeltine?


LEFT KNEE: You don’t want to know.

Q: Actually, I do.


LEFT KNEE: It’s been a bit more tense than usual, if you can imagine that.

Q: Not sure I can. Can you elaborate?

LEFT KNEE: I’d rather not.

Q: OK, we’ll move on. Looking ahead, you have the FedEx Cup, which Tiger leads.


LEFT KNEE: Yeah.

Q: And the Presidents Cup in October, which gives you two big events to look forward to.

LEFT KNEE: Look forward to?

Q: Yes.


LEFT KNEE: The FedEx Cup and Presidents Cup?

Q: That’s what’s on the schedule.

LEFT KNEE:
It’s not about the Cups, mister. It’s about the majors. THE MAJORS! THE MAJORS!

Q: Uh, are you OK?

LEFT KNEE:
I haven’t slept well since August 15.

Q: Sorry to hear that.


LEFT KNEE:
I keep having the same nightmare. An obscure Korean golfer chips in for eagle on the back nine and then birdies the last hole to beat us. If that’s not nutty enough, he lifts his golf bag over his head as some kind of weird victory salute.

Q: And then you wake up and realize it isn’t just a bad dream.


LEFT KNEE
: Exactly.

Q. That was a tough loss.


LEFT KNEE:
Tell me about it. We’ve been playing Burger King golf for, like, forever.

Q. Burger King golf?


LEFT KNEE:
You know, have it your way. We owned Sundays. Owned them outright.

Q. How’s Steve Williams doing?


LEFT KNEE:
Stevie blames himself.

Q. For the missed cut at the British, right?


LEFT KNEE: And Tiger’s loss at the PGA.

Q. How does he figure into that?


LEFT KNEE: I have no clue, but you know Stevie.

Q. How’s he coping?


LEFT KNEE: He hasn’t taken off his caddie bib.

Q. Seriously?


LEFT KNEE:
Says he won’t take it off until we win another major.

Q. For everyone’s sake, I hope that’s soon.


LEFT KNEE:
Only 224 days until Augusta.

Q: Thanks for taking the time.

LEFT KNEE: You got it.

−The Armchair Golfer

Related:
Exclusive Interview with Tiger’s Left Knee
Q&A: Tiger’s Left Knee Carries Weight of Golf World
Tiger’s Left Knee speaks on U.S. Open prep
Q&A: Tiger’s Left Knee Discusses ACL Surgery

(This is an ARMCHAIR GOLF spoof.)

Sunday, August 23

U.S. Wins Third Straight Solheim Cup



I MISSED IT, but the U.S. team staged a back-nine rally to win the Solheim Cup 16-12 over a very competitive European team that came into the matches as a heavy underdog. The teams were tied going into Sunday’s singles matches, and Europe was poised for the upset until a few key matches turned the Americans’ way. Morgan Pressel secured the Cup-clinching point.

Unfortunately, except for watching a few holes from the Sedgefield Country Club pro shop to escape the Friday heat at the Wyndham Championship, I didn’t see any of the Solheim Cup. That’s a shame. I especially would have liked to see Juli Inkster since it was her last appearance as a Solheim Cup player.

Moore Wins Wyndham in Playoff


I did catch the final few holes (including the playoff) of the Wyndham Championship on the tube. Ryan Moore prevailed in a playoff against Kevin Stadler and Jason Bohn to get his first PGA Tour win.

I can tell you from being at Sedgefield that the 507-yard par-4 18th is a mean finishing hole. The approach shot is long (even by pro standards) from a downhill lie to an elevated green. It was giving the players fits, except for Moore, who twice bombed his drives far down the slope, leaving himself just an 8-iron and, later, a 6-iron. It turned out to be the difference.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, August 22

Wyndham Championship: My Notes from the Gallery

ON FRIDAY I ATTENDED the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina. Following are my notes and random thoughts from my day at Sedgefield.

• It was brutally hot. You know how some people say, “It’s not the heat; it’s the humidity”? On Friday it was the heat AND humidity. Not usually a heat wimp, I was definitely slowed by the blast-furnace weather. After walking the front nine, I stood (or sat) around for most of the rest of the day.

• I followed Davis Love, Boo Weekley and Charlie Hoffman for a couple of holes before catching up with David Duval, who I followed for the rest of the front nine. After I caught up with Duval, he went birdie, par, birdie. Unfortunately, he missed the cut (74-70, 144).

• Sedgefield Country Club is a Donald Ross design. It’s a lovely course, not too hard for the pros but surely a challenge for amateurs. There are plenty of doglegs and elevation changes to keep things interesting. The greens are anything but flat.

• The volunteers did an adequate job of quieting the gallery, but they had no effect on the cicadas, which chattered incessantly. That’s normal around here in August.

• I saw CBS commentator Peter Oosterhuis, who was wearing a sling on his right arm. Did he and McCord come to blows?

• It’s 1:30 p.m. and Rocco Mediate tells some young autograph seekers it’s time for him to go to work. Rocco is immensely popular. He drops a bag of balls near the chipping green and goes to work, sweat soaking through his white shirt and melon-colored pants.

• It’s 2:30 p.m. and the other half of the field is about to tee off for the second round. I’m in a deep state of lethargy and park myself in the covered bleachers beside the first tee to watch six groups tee off. Off go Rocco, Corey Pavin, Alex Cejka, Chez Reavie, Johnson Wagner, Mark Wilson, Fred Couples, Brandt Snedeker and David Toms.

• I head back to the practice range, where I find John Daly rapping chip shots. A short while later Daly is standing on the putting green cutting up with Brent Geiberger, a cigarette hanging from JD’s lips. Onlookers study his every twitch.

• Those old Cup captains can still play. Both Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples and Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin are entered in the Wyndham Championship. Couples drew a good-sized Friday gallery on his way to a second consecutive 66, putting him in contention at 8-under. I watch Freddie birdie the short 8th hole and follow him on the 9th hole to the clubhouse. Pavin amazes me. Always a short hitter (I mean really short), he can still compete on PGA Tour courses. (He finished 19th at ultra-long Hazeltine in the PGA Championship.) On Friday, Corey shot 68 at Sedgefield. And he still uses that Bullseye putter. It’s probably the same putter from his UCLA days. Now that’s retro.

• I can understand why a lot of sports fans think golf is boring. There’s a lot of standing around. I tire of it and I’m a fan. Play is ridiculously slow on Tour. It drove me crazy at Sedgefield. Do you really need to look at an 18-inch putt from every angle, take three practice strokes and stand over it for several seconds before tapping your ball into the cup? What are those players staring at for so long? Yep, that’s the correct green, there’s the pin, you have the correct yardage and right club in your hand, would you just go ahead and hit the thing? There’s a culture of slow play on Tour that probably will never change. It really doesn’t have to be that way. It’s a turnoff.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, August 21

Ken Green Takes First Steps with Prosthetic Leg

TINGLES. GOOSE BUMPS. SOMETHING. I was moved by photos of Ken Green being fitted with a prosthetic leg and trying it out for the first time. Green is the 51-year-old Champions Tour golfer who lost his brother, girl friend and dog in a June highway accident that occurred when his RV blew a tire. Later, his right leg was amputated.

Now Green is trying to put his life back together. Or at least start moving forward again. He will do it with a prosthetic leg, and hopes to play golf again. Click below for photos from The Connecticut Post:

Ken Green Slideshow

“Well, the way I’ve looked at this is, I have a pretty good faith in God and my belief is that if you believe in God you shouldn’t be too upset over the fact that you’ve lost three of your best friends on the planet. They’re having a hell of a lot more fun right now than I am, I can tell you that,” Green told The Connecticut Post.

“I’m assuming that it’s through golf that I have to go out and try to accomplish some things that haven’t been done and make people aware of certain things. So, in that sense, it’s given me a desire and a motivation to do it and I have to do it.”

−The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, August 20

2009 Wyndham Championship TV Schedule and Notes

THE 2009 WYNDHAM CHAMPIONSHIP is underway at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Purse: $5.2 million
Winner’s share: $918,000
Defending champion: Carl Pettersson

Inside the field
Inside the course
Interview transcripts

2009 Wyndham Championship Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

Twelve hours of TV coverage are on tap for the 2009 Wyndham Championship.

Thu, 8/20:

GOLF 2p - 6p ET

Fri, 8/21:
GOLF 2p - 4p ET

Sat, 8/22:
CBS 2p - 5p ET

Sun, 8/23:
CBS 3p - 6p ET

PGA Tour radio coverage

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, August 19

Golf Channel’s Dottie Pepper Talks Solheim Cup

IN A MEDIA CONFERENCE CALL, Golf Channel analyst Dottie Pepper opined on the 2009 Solheim Cup, which begins on Thursday at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois. Pepper was a six-time Solheim Cup U.S. team member who played on four victorious teams. She compiled an impressive 13-5-2 record.

For starters, did U.S. team captain Beth Daniel get the captain’s picks right?

“Michelle Wie, I believe over the course of this year, earned her spot,” Pepper said. “No wins, but certainly among the players who were in contention for a spot, she was playing the best, despite not qualifying for the U.S. Open going into the matches.”

On Juli Inkster, Pepper said, “ … in my mind she was picked for what the Solheim Cup can do, and that’s bring out the very best in golf, and I believe also what she brings to the team room, and that’s a lot of enthusiasm.”

Some think the U.S. team will overwhelm Europe. Not Pepper.

“I do not believe this is going to be as lopsided as some people predict it will be,” she said. “I believe Alison Nicholas [European team captain] has a much stronger and deeper team than most people think.”

Pepper also said she believed this year’s Solheim Cup would have higher than usual visibility.

“With all of the controversy concerning the LPGA over the last few months, the awareness of this tournament is probably higher than it has been in quite some time. It’s coming at just the right time because I think with the LPGA being in the media, this will be a really positive experience for people to look at this tour and say, you know, it is pretty darn terrific.”

Would Pepper ever consider the U.S. team captaincy?

“At this point with the schedule that I have, I think I would break down and cry because there’s no way to squeeze it in. I would be very honored. But at this point in time, I don’t know how it would be possibly manageable.”

−The Armchair Golfer

Related:
2009 Solheim Cup TV Schedule and Notes

2009 Solheim Cup TV Schedule and Notes



THE 2009 SOLHEIM CUP begins on Thursday (with the opening ceremony) at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois. Matches start Friday.

U.S. Team
European Team

Preview
Interviews
Photo Gallery

2009 Solheim Cup home page

TV SCHEDULE

More than 25 hours of TV coverage are on tap for the 2009 Solheim Cup.

Thu, Aug 20:

GOLF 6:00-7:00 PM ET

Fri, Aug 21:

GOLF 9:00-2:00 PM ET; 4:00-7:30 PM ET

Sat, Aug 22:

GOLF 9:00-7:30 PM ET

Sun, Aug 23:
GOLF 11:00-4:30 PM ET

−The Armchair Golfer

Related:

Golf Channel’s Dottie Pepper Talks Solheim Cup

Tuesday, August 18

Jill McGill’s LPGA Tour Diary: British Isles

(Editor’s note: Jill sent me the following dispatch about a week ago.)

By Jill McGill
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


I’m in London waiting for my flight to Kuwait. I’m doing a goodwill trip in Iraq again this summer. It was so rewarding last year I couldn’t say no.

I just finished playing in the British and spending a week in Wales. There was a bright spot in my golf: winning the British qualifier. I think I wore myself out before the actual event started, which was a bummer.

I love playing over here. Not sure I would like to do it 365 days a year, but it is a great change.

This last week the theme was how golf is so rewarding. I found myself staring at the Harlech Castle while playing Royal St. David Golf Course for a week. It is located on the west coast of Wales. The town itself is out of a storybook.

Without golf I know I would never have seen many parts of the world: Southport, Lytham, Harlech, Criccieth and so on. Well, maybe if I was a historian.

Reflecting on the week in Wales, I think part of not playing relaxed had to do with the drive to the course every day. I’ve never experienced roads like the ones from Criccieth to Harlech. The highlight every day was an over-under bet Patrick and I placed on how many cars would come over the one-way family-owned toll bridge while we waited on the other side for the light to turn green. I think the side gap was about two feet on either side of the car.

It would be impossible to count the number of sheep on the way to the course. And we never received an answer on what the color coding on the animals meant.

When the sun was shining, the landscape views were stunning. I imagine that driving the northwest coast of Wales is similar to the California coast drive experience. I would recommend it to anybody. This part of the world is a gem.

You must have patience and a good ear; the accent can be heavy. And I give a thumbs up to the ham and cheese baguette.

For more on Jill, visit JillMcGill.com and follow her on Twitter at Twitter.com/jillymcgilly .

Monday, August 17

Is Y.E. Yang the New Jack Fleck?


Yours truly with Jack Fleck in May.

MIKE LUPICA OF THE DAILY NEWS says Y.E. Yang’s upset of Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship “was Jack Fleck beating Ben Hogan at Olympic in 1955, only it was more than that.”

Comparisons to Fleck’s upset are understandable, which, at the time, was reported by sportswriters as the greatest golf upset since amateur Francis Ouimet beat British professionals Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in the 1913 U.S. Open at Brookline.

Yang’s achievement will certainly go down in golf history. Tiger, holder of 14 major championship titles, was a perfect 14 for 14 when leading a major after 54 holes. Yang did the unthinkable. He flat outplayed Tiger in the final round, overcoming a two-stroke deficit to win the Wanamaker Trophy. It was a jaw-dropping performance.

Through this golf blog and my golf travels over the last two years I’ve become well acquainted with Jack Fleck and his story. In fact, we’ve become friends. I’ve heard Jack’s story first hand and I’ve read most of what has been written about the 1955 U.S. Open.

It’s always difficult to compare golfers from different eras, but here’s what I can tell you.

Coming into the 2009 PGA Championship, Yang had a golf pedigree that easily eclipsed Fleck’s resume. Yang beat Tiger and a strong international field three years ago at the HSBC Classic in China. He also won the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic earlier this year.

And Fleck? “He had never won a caddies tournament,” Tommy Bolt told me last year. OK, a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. An Iowa muni pro, Jack was playing the first of two make-or-break seasons on the PGA Tour in 1955. His best finish in a tour event was eighth. He had played in two U.S. Opens, missing the cut once and tying for 52nd.

Ben Hogan wasn’t Tiger Woods, but he was certainly the Tiger of his era. Coming into the 1955 U.S. Open, Hogan had won four of his previous six U.S. Opens. (He didn’t play in 1949 because of a near-fatal car accident.) After the accident that was supposed to end his career, Hogan — playing in no more than seven events a year — won six majors in five seasons.

As Lupica points out, Hogan was more at the tail end of his career in 1955 than Tiger is in 2009. But Hogan was still the prohibitive favorite in the U.S. Open. When he completed play at the Olympic Club five shots ahead of Sam Snead and Tommy Bolt, NBC-TV and national radio announced Hogan as the winner, the first five-time U.S. Open champion.

Then something other worldly happened. Jack, a virtual unknown who was still on the course, birdied two of the last four holes on a brutal layout to tie Hogan. It included sinking a dramatic 7-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole. The next day the man who had never won a caddies tournament beat Hogan in an 18-hole playoff, 69 to 72, denying Hogan his record fifth U.S. Open. It was front-page news across the country and Jack was an instant celebrity.

Greatest pro golf upset? I still give the nod to Jack, an unproven player who beat the greatest of his era on a bigger golf stage, the U.S. Open.

Neil Sagebiel (aka The Armchair Golfer) is the author of THE LONGEST SHOT: Jack Fleck, Ben Hogan, and Pro Golf’s Greatest Upset at the 1955 U.S. Open, which publishes on May 22 from St. Martin’s Press (Thomas Dunne Books). Learn more and pre-order at book page, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Sunday, August 16

Perfect No More: Yang Takes Down Tiger at PGA

NOBODY’S PERFECT. THAT CLICHÉ didn’t apply to Tiger Woods, who was a perfect 14 for 14 at closing out majors when he led after 54 holes. Until today at Hazeltine National Golf Club.

South Korean Y.E. Yang, a golfer who has won once on the PGA Tour and didn’t take up the game until he was 19, overtook Tiger in a nearly flawless performance at a gusty and crusty Hazeltine in the PGA Championship. Yang had 70 to Tiger’s 75 for a three-shot victory.

It was a historic win, as well as a great upset. Yang is the first Asian-born golfer to claim a men’s major championship.

I knew very little about Yang, but the strengths of his game were immediately obvious. He put his ball in play and hit a lot of quality approach shots. And Yang did it in the most pressurized situation in golf, a final-round pairing with Tiger at a major.

Tiger hit quality shots, too, as expected, but the putts didn’t drop. Many burned the edge. When the putts don’t fall, Tiger doesn’t win. It almost always comes down to the putter in majors.

Yang hit two magnificent shots that turned things in his favor and sealed the victory. The first was the chip-in for eagle on the par-4 14th hole. The second was even more incredible, a pin-seeking hybrid from the 18th fairway that put Yang within close range for a clinching birdie putt.

They were exactly the kind of shots we are used to seeing Tiger hit under the most intense pressure. But today wasn’t Tiger’s day. We have now crossed a new threshold in the Tiger era. He is perfect no more.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, August 15

PGA Press Tent: Will Anyone Catch Tiger?


Padraig Harrington faces a difficult task.
(Mike Davis/Flickr)


TIGER WOODS SHOT A 71 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead into the final round of the PGA Championship at Hazeltine. Tiger is 14 of 14 when leading a major after 54 holes. Can you say fifth Wanamaker Trophy?

Tiger will play with South Korean Y.E. Yang, who is at 6-under-par along with Padraig Harrington. Lucas Glover and Henrik Stenson are four shots back. Following are some player comments.

Q. Is it something you look forward to? Are you nervous? Excited?

Y.E. YANG: Nervous, but I've been looking forward to it. And I've thought about this, playing with Tiger recently, and it came true so fast.

Q. Do you base your strategy going into tomorrow on how many shots off the lead you are?
HENRIK STENSON: Not really. You can play a little bit more aggressive if you have to. But if I can hopefully be up there and be within three when we turn into the back nine, it's time to hopefully make a couple of good putts and see what happens.

Q. Four back going into the final round of Tiger.

LUCAS GLOVER: We all know how Tiger is the last round, so it's going to take something crazy, but you know, I made a bunch of birdies this week. I just need to putt a bunch together in one round.

Q. If you had a choice, would you rather play with Tiger?

PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think I would. I would rather — I think it would suit me better to have that sort of match-play style.

Q. You have a significant shot differential between yourself and your playing partner in the final pairing, final round of a major. Why? How do you explain that?

TIGER WOODS: I just go out and I play my own game. You just go out there and just play and see what happens. You know, the guys, you have to realize, we are fighting for a major championship. We are all nervous out there. I'm in the same boat as everyone else, but you've got to go out there and execute shots, and that's the fun, and that's the rush and that's the thrill of it. That's why you play hard.

−The Armchair Golfer


(Source: ASAP Sports)

Friday, August 14

Tough Day, Tough Tiger


Tiger is the 36-hole leader at the PGA. (Keith Allison/Flickr)

“With a four-shot cushion over his closest pursuers, these players would have a better chance rescuing a steak from a junk-yard dog.”
−Phil Capelle, Capelle On Golf

IT WAS A WINDY DAY at Hazeltine in the PGA Championship, blowing red numbers off the leaderboard and whisking players out of town as the cut line fell at 4-over par. Tiger Woods found the conditions difficult, but by the end of the day it had worked in his favor.

“It was a tough day all around,” Tiger told TNT’s Jim Huber after the completion of his round. Tiger carded a 70 to finish 36 holes at 7-under par and open up a four-shot lead on Vijay Singh, Padraig Harrington, Ross Fisher, Lucas Glover and Brendan Jones.

“It was tough out there; the wind was blustery, the greens were a little bit bumpy and it was just a tough day all around.”

Yeah, it was tough alright, especially on players who have designs on catching Tiger. Three consecutive birdies in the middle of the second nine separated Tiger from the field, and we know how unlikely it is that he’ll relinquish the lead in a major.

Still, there are 36 holes to go and Tiger isn’t taking anything for granted.

“You just plod along and see what happens,” Tiger said. “That’s what I did today. I got off to a poor start but hung in there.”

I have to agree with Phil Capelle. I like Tiger’s chances.

−The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, August 13

Q&A: TNT Analyst Bill Kratzert from PGA Championship

(Editor’s note: I had the opportunity to ask TNT analyst and former PGA Tour player Bill Kratzert a few questions prior to today’s start of the 2009 PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota. TNT has 18 hours of coverage on Thursday through Sunday.)

ARMCHAIR GOLF: How are current course conditions?

BILL KRATZERT: The course is in great shape. It’s unusually hot right now and the golf course is not as bouncy and as fiery as you would think it would be. The greens are running as quick as they can, given the undulations in the greens. A lot of the greens have mounding and many of them are turtle back greens, where it filters off each way. As far as the rough is concerned, it was topped off Sunday afternoon after a huge amount of rain. I don’t think they’re going to touch it again. In my opinion, the rough isn’t all that penal right now. It’s very playable. I think there is ample room off the tee. I don’t think that driving the ball extremely straight is going to be a huge factor. Which plays into a Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson or a Geoff Ogilvy.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: Will shorter hitters be able to compete on such an extremely long Hazeltine?

BILL KRATZERT: A lot of people think the longer player has the advantage. But given the fact that of the par 5 holes where a player like [Tiger] Woods or [Phil] Mickelson should capitalize, only one that is reachable — the 7th hole. The other three are not reachable so the long hitters are not going to have any more advantage on those. When you’re looking at a guy hitting with a 7-iron or a 5-iron, a Tim Clark or Brian Gay or Jim Furyk might be as effective with a 5-iron as the longer hitters are with a 7-iron. I’m not discounting the length of the course, but I’m not placing the shorter hitters off to the side.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: Other than Tiger, which players are on your radar this week?


BILL KRATZERT: Jim Furyk or Steve Stricker, or I would also look at Lee Westwood. His name keeps coming to mind. He’s never won a major championship, but he has the game. Look at the way he played the Open Championship. He’s out of the playoff by a shot and he bogeyed on the last four holes. Yes, had a birdie in there on the 71st hole, a par 5, but he should have a major championship on his resume already. He’s one guy we should take a good, hard look at. Or, maybe it’s a young guy — a [Camilo] Villegas, Sean O’Hair, or Anthony Kim.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: If you were still playing, what would your game plan be this week?


BILL KRATZERT:
I would really concentrate on distance control and, by that, I am referring to the par 5 holes that you can’t reach. Also, the par 3s that are over 200 yards. The 8th hole and 17th hole, they are in the 175, 180 range. Because the rough isn’t that penalizing from what I’ve seen, a lot of it would be distance control. The more times you can put it flag high or just underneath the hole, you’ll benefit from it.

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, August 12

Lee Westwood: ‘I’m All for the Groove Change’

A SNIPPET FROM LEE WESTWOOD’S media conference on Wednesday at the PGA Championship.

Q. This is the last square-groove major that will be played. You know the setup at the four major sites on an annual basis. Could you go through Augusta, the U.S. Open, The Open Championship and the PGA and how the square groove changes will impact, typically would impact each of those events? I know the golf courses will differ year-to-year except for Augusta, but how will each one be impacted by square grooves?

LEE WESTWOOD: Well, I won’t go through all of them, but I will say that the more technically gifted chippers and pitchers of the golf ball will still be the best chippers and pitchers of the golf ball with the groove change. Phil Mickelson will still have a fantastic short game. There will be certain shots he won’t be allowed to play because of the technology. But generally, you won’t see the low-spinning one quite as much. You’ll see players having to stop it more with flight than the low checky one. And when you get in the rough around the greens, it will be a little harder. I’m all for the groove change because I don't miss too many greens on the stats. I tend to be pretty good tee-to-green. It’s the people that miss a lot of fairways and a lot of greens that are going to suffer more.

−The Armchair Golfer

2009 PGA Championship TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2009 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP gets underway on Thursday at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota.

Purse: $7.2 million
Defending champion: Padraig Harrington

Inside the field
Inside the course
Interviews
First round tee times
PGA Championship history

2009 PGA Championship Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

Twenty-eight hours of TV coverage are on tap for the 2009 PGA Championship.

Thu: 2-8pm ET (TNT)
Fri: 2-8pm ET (TNT)
Sat: 11am-2pm ET (TNT), 2-7pm ET (CBS)
Sun: 11am-2pm ET (TNT), 2-7pm ET (CBS)

PGA Tour radio coverage

−The Armchair Golfer

Related:
Q&A: 1959 PGA Champion Bob Rosburg
A Lengthy Hazeltine Is Ready for PGA Championship

Tuesday, August 11

Q&A: 1959 PGA Champion Bob Rosburg

Fifty years ago Bob Rosburg won his only major, the 1959 PGA Championship at the Minneapolis Golf Club. A six-time PGA Tour winner and Ryder Cupper, “Rossie” went on to a long career as an ABC on-course reporter, a role he pioneered. Rossie died in May.

Last October I called Rossie at his home in Palm Springs and we talked for an hour about a range of golf subjects. Following is a portion of our conversation.


ARMCHAIR GOLF: What are your memories of playing the tour in the ‘50s and ‘60s?

BOB ROSBURG: It was great because I liked what they did there. You had to perform. Sixty or 70 guys still made the cut, but they only paid 30 guys. You had to play all four rounds. It’s not like it is today where if you make the cut you’re guaranteed 15 or some thousand. That’s a little different than it was back then. I talk to [Ken] Venturi a lot about it. He says, “Yeah we didn’t have the money to play for, but it was more fun then.” We had more of a group of guys that were very good friends. We traveled together in caravans and stuff like that. All the families knew each other. I just thought it was great. You had friends that are still friends like Venturi and [Gene] Littler and Dow [Finsterwald]. I see those guys a lot. And Arnold [Palmer]. I traveled with Arnold for a couple years. It was fun then. You had to work your ass off to get to the next town to play, but I think that’s what the game is all about. You should have to play well to make any money.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: I’m sure you had the occasion to play some golf with Ben Hogan and develop some opinions about what he was like as a player and a person.

BOB ROSBURG:
I did get a chance to play with Ben a few times. Not a lot, because he was almost finished by the time when I started in ‘54. I did play in the Open at Oakmont in ‘53. I had just turned pro and I was an assistant in Chicago. It was amazing how he played. Of course, that was when he had his great year, ‘53. He was as good as he ever was, even though he’d had some tough times physically. In ‘53, he was as good as it got.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: What would you say your highlights were as a player?

BOB ROSBURG: Of course, winning the PGA changed my whole life because it made you eligible to play the rest of the life on the tour. You were exempt the whole time when you won a major, which is not the case now. It’s 10 years, or something like that. That made a huge difference, because then you could plot your whole year. If you wanted to take a couple of weeks off, you could do it. So that was big. Of course, the same year I won the PGA I played in the Ryder Cup, which was maybe the highlight. I hit the first ball for the United States. We played out here in Palm Springs, which was sort of like my home ground. It was wonderful. At that time, they didn’t have all the parties like they have now. It wasn’t as big a thing. We still had a lot of people. They had all the ceremony just before you teed off the first round. They played “God Save the Queen” and the “Star Spangled Banner” and all of a sudden you were on the tee. That was quite a thrill. And I played pretty well. I played with [Mike] Souchak in the doubles and we won pretty easy. And I won pretty easy in the singles. It was good. The Ryder Cup was a huge thing for me.

Actually, my broadcasting career — I’ll probably remember it more than I did playing. I really had a lot of fun out there. I worked with some great, great guys. I worked for ABC for 33 years. It had to be pretty good. I will probably be remembered more in the game for doing the telecasts.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: It really extended your career in golf, didn’t it?

BOB ROSBURG:
I’ll say it did. It was kind of funny because the Senior Tour had just started. I took the job in ‘75 and we didn’t have any senior tournaments then. Actually, we didn’t start until 1980. I’m not sure if I had realized how big the Senior Tour had got that I wouldn’t have gone back and played. Because I could still play a little then. I finished second two or three times on the Senior Tour. And I won the Legends with Littler. It wasn’t as though I couldn’t play. I didn’t think I could do both. And I don’t think you can. I think you have to play or do the telecast, one or the other.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: That seems like the way it is nowadays, too.


BOB ROSBURG: I think so. Some guys try to do it, but it’s hard to do.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: How did you get into broadcasting?


BOB ROSBURG:
It was kind of just a fly-by-night thing. I had a good friend on the tour named Steve Reid. After he quit playing, he was a good friend of [Deane] Beman’s—Beman gave him a job as the TV coordinator for the tour. When I got through playing in ‘74, Steve came to me and said, “Would you be interested in taking a job in television?” I said, “Geez, I don’t know Steve. I’ve only done it a couple of times.” I had worked in television before, but I didn’t know that I could handle it. He said ABC is looking for a guy to work down on the ground. I thought, “Well that will be better than actually working in the booth.” I only worked in the booth a couple three times. And that really didn’t appeal to me, sitting there all day. I just wanted to go down and tell the people what I thought was happening down there. It worked out well.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: I was in my teens when you started out. I remember all those times they threw it to you. Rossie, what’s he got?


BOB ROSBURG: Yeah, what’s he got. He’s got no chance.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: I know you stopped saying that. I wasn’t going to bring that up.


BOB ROSBURG: Eventually I did. It kind of made me, though. People remembered that. I was right most the time, but I was wrong, too. The people always remember the times you’re wrong. But you got to say what you think. If you wait till the guy already hit the shot, what good are you down there?

−The Armchair Golfer

Monday, August 10

A Lengthy Hazeltine Is Ready for PGA Championship


(Living in Carter County/Flickr)

Contributed by GCM NewsWeekly
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


JAMES NICOL, THE GOLF COURSE SUPERINTENDENT at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn., has polished the historic gem for another major, as the PGA Championship returns this week.

Nicol worked with famed golf course architect Rees Jones to add or move tees on nine holes, bringing the length of the par-72 course to 7,685 yards, the longest ever for a major. Holes 12, 13 and 15 are the longest par 4, par 3 and par 5, respectively, in the championship’s history.

“A reason for the added length is to bring the bunkers into the drive zone,” said Nicol, a 30-year member of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) who is in his 13th year at Hazeltine.

“Length alone is not a big deal to these guys, it’s the green surrounds that are the course’s biggest defense.”

Hole by Hole Changes

Nicol and Jones relocated a bunker on the left side of No. 2 that will make flying it more difficult and forcing golfers to the right, where there are two more bunkers.

No. 5, a par 4 dogleg right, has been extended nearly 50 yards to 455 so that the landing area is now where the bunkers are, and the bunkers on the right have been redone and brought closer to the fairway.

A new cross bunker short of the green enhances the risk-versus-reward aspect of No. 14, a short 352-yard par 4 that the PGA of America will look to push the tee forward at least one day so the players can go for the green.

A new tee box on No. 15 extends the long par 5 to 642 yards, bringing bunkers back into play on both the first and second shots.

A new tee has also been built on the par 5 No. 7 at a slightly different angle, adding 27 yards.

Bunkers were also moved closer to the fairway, pinching the landing areas on holes No. 1, 10 and 18.

Shorter Rough

A dry spring and summer have led to the current drought conditions in the area and therefore the Kentucky bluegrass/perennial ryegrass/fine fescue rough will not be as thick, or even as tall as it was for the 2002 PGA Championship. The first cut surrounding the fairways is 3 1/2 inches high and it is 4 inches tall beyond that. Nicol has the bentgrass/Poa annua greens at championship speeds.

Nicol uses a high-tech irrigation system with moisture sensors to conserve water and present a fast, firm golf course.

Approximately half of the 60 acres of rough at Hazeltine are unmanaged out-of-play natural areas, providing habitat for wildlife while preserving resources and maintenance costs. Nicol’s staff also maintains several bluebird boxes throughout the property.

Next year the PGA Championship will be at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin.

Hazeltine History

Former USGA President Totton Heffelfinger started Hazeltine National Golf Club, originally named Executive Golf Club of Minnesota, in 1961, next to Hazeltine Lake, southwest of Minneapolis in Chaska, Minn.

Heffelfinger charged Robert Trent Jones to design a golf course suitable for national championships. Jones’ son, Rees, has led renovations at Hazeltine, in 1990, again in 2008, and he will work with Nicol on a greens renovation in 2010.

Hazeltine has played host to the 1970 and 1991 U.S. Open, 1966 and 1977 U.S. Women’s Open, 1983 U.S. Senior Open, 1994 U.S. Mid-Amateur, 1999 NCAA Men’s Division I Championship, 2001 U.S. Men’s State Team Championship, 2002 PGA Championship and the 2006 U.S. Amateur. The PGA of America will return to Hazeltine for the 2016 Ryder Cup.

For more information about Hazeltine and the PGA Championship from a golf course management perspective, visit GCSAA.org.


(Brought to you by YourGolfTravel.com and the ARMCHAIR GOLF STORE.)

Sunday, August 9

No One Recovers Like Tiger Woods

TRAILING PADRAIG HARRINGTON by three strokes starting the final round at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Tiger Woods began with par, eagle, par, birdie, birdie to race to a front-nine 30 and a two-shot lead over Harrington.

Paddy must have felt like he was hit by a bus. But he has a lot of grit, and when Wild Tiger (the one who sprays tee shots) started missing fairways, the stubborn Irishman slipped back into the lead. He was grinding hard — and not blinking.

Then came the par-5 16th hole. Both players missed the fairway. Both were well back from the green after their second shots — Harrington was in the rough.

Tiger launched a 180-yard 8-iron over the water that landed like a dart and sucked back to within a foot of the hole. Unbelievable? No. It’s Tiger, folks.

Tough but mortal, Paddy went on to make the dreaded Snowman. Game over.

(UPDATE: Tiger and Padraig were put on the clock on No. 16, which, according to Tiger, probably rushed his rival’s shotmaking on what turned out to be the pivotal hole. Too bad. It was a great duel up to that point.)

Who except Tiger can hit that 8-iron shot? There’s only one guy I can think of — Phil Mickelson — but he doesn’t do it nearly as often in crunch time as the world No. 1.

With the PGA Championship this week, will Tiger make it three W’s in a row?

−The Armchair Golfer

P.S. If you haven’t signed the Tiger Is Believable Petition, I would appreciate your support. Read why.

Saturday, August 8

ARMCHAIR GOLF Briefs


(Josh V-R/Flickr)

A bevy of golf products, services, destinations, events, news and more. Endorsement is not implied.

YourGolfTravel.com is looking for someone to visit golf courses around the world for a year to research opportunities and write reviews. More from TimesOnline.

PGA.com announced the availability of the PGA Championship App at the App Store. The PGA Championship App for iPhone and iPod touch is sponsored by financial services provider ING and will provide live video, live scoring and instant updates to golf fans during the 2009 PGA Championship from Aug. 13–16.

American Express is providing onsite programs and premium benefits for Cardmembers designed to enhance the spectator experience at the 91st PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club.

Turner Sports and The PGA of America announced that now and throughout the PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club, Aug. 13 - 16, all of TNT’s television announcers and PGA.com on-camera talent, as well as local PGA of America Club Professionals, will use the Twitter social networking platform to provide commentary leading up to and throughout the year’s final major.

• For the second consecutive year, The PGA of America and the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) have partnered to present Game Day Experiences featuring free golf instruction from local PGA and LPGA Professionals at selected WNBA games. There are eight Game Day Experiences scheduled so far this season with the first being held Friday (Aug. 7) in Minneapolis, Minn., when the Minnesota Lynx host the Connecticut Sun.

• Mike, The Travelling Golfer, recently talked to Terry Koehler, The Wedge Guy. Check it out here.

Golfsmith announced that it is giving away 25,000 rounds of golf with any purchase of $125 or more in all of its 74 retail locations across the country.

GolfGym® announced that it has entered into an agreement with Bonfit America, Inc., manufacturer of the original bristle tee, Brush-T, to globally distribute their entire line of GolfGym fitness products.

Imperial Headwear (www.ImperialHeadwear.com) announced the introduction of the Oxford Prep style, featured in its new 2010 catalog.

• The Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course, Randy Henry’s Dynamic Golf Academy and aboutGolf’s PGA TOUR Simulators have teamed up to offer unique entertainment and educational golf elements to their repertoire of golf-related services.

PrideSports, the country’s only wooden golf tee manufacturer, and the world’s leading producer of golf tees, has announced an eco-partnership with Portland, Maine-based International Wood Fuels (IWF) to share production facilities at Pride’s Burnham, Maine manufacturing facility.

• Located less than two hours from Seattle and surrounded by the Olympic Mountains, Alderbrook Resort & Spa features a PGA-class golf course, as well as a state-of-the-art spa and on-site restaurant. Alderbrook is currently offering the “Ultimate Golfer’s Escape” Package.

• The newest golf industry player-development program, Get Golf Ready in 5 Days, has exceeded its target number of host facilities in the initial year of the program. Nearly 1,100 facilities are certified to host the program, surpassing the target goal of 700 host facilities for 2009, and more than 2,260 Get Golf Ready events have been posted on line. Aimed at bringing adults into the game in a fast, fun and affordable way, Get Golf Ready, Play Golf America's 2009 featured program, seeks to introduce the game to thousands of golfers in the first year.

• A golf industry career fair will be staged for the first time at the 2009 PGA Fall Expo, Sept. 1-2, in Las Vegas, Nevada, and produced in partnership by PGA Golf Exhibitions, The PGA of America and leading golf industry employers. Dick’s Sporting Goods and Golf Galaxy are announcing recruitment efforts and company informational sessions throughout the two-day industry gathering.

• Endorsed by renowned instructor Butch Harmon, the EEZ-READ is designed to save strokes during a round of golf. The pocket-sized putting aid is a highly accurate “bubble level” that shows how a putt will break. The EEZ-READ received the Seal of Approval from the PGA TOUR Partners Club. More at www.eez-read.com.

Carya Golf Club, Thomson Perrett & Lobb’s heathland inspired course in Belek, Antalya, has been announced as the venue for Turkey’s first European Challenge Tour event in 11 years. The course, regarded as one of the finest on Turkey’s Mediterranean Coast, will stage the Turkish Challenge, the Tour’s opening event of the 2010 season, April 26-29.

LPGA Tour star Cristie Kerr joined with LibertyHealth to announce the founding of the Cristie Kerr Women’s Health Center on the Jersey City Medical campus. The center will offer breast cancer screening programs including free mammograms to women with or without insurance.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, August 7

King of Golf Cartoons: ‘Golf Instructor’


Copyright © Jerry King. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Do you have a golf instructor? Are you enamored with him or her?

−The Armchair Golfer

Jerry King is an award-winning cartoonist whose credits and clients include Golf Digest, United States Golf Association and Disney. His golf cartoons are regularly featured at ARMCHAIR GOLF.

Thursday, August 6

Steve Williams Blames Himself for Tiger’s MC at British Open

“The British Open was obviously frustrating for Tiger, but to be honest with you, I didn’t do a good job that week.”
−Steve Williams

I GOT A NOTE TODAY from ESPN about Tiger Woods bag man Steve Williams and his appearance on E:60 next Tuesday at 7 p.m.

In the interview with E:60 correspondent Lisa Salter, Williams describes how he blames himself for Tiger’s poor performance in the British Open, speaks frankly about his disparaging remarks against Phil Mickelson last December and of Woods’ remarkable win at the 2008 U.S. Open.

“The British Open was obviously frustrating for Tiger, but to be honest with you, I didn't do a good job that week...I take the blame to be totally honest,” Williams was quoted as saying by ESPN.

“I made some poor decisions and gave him some poor advice and because of that he missed the cut.”

Interesting. And just what were the poor decisions and advice? Don’t know. Maybe we’ll find out next Tuesday.

Do you think Stevie really screwed up, or is he just being a good caddie and taking one for the team?

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, August 5

2009 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational TV Schedule and Notes

THE 2009 WGC-BRIDGESTONE INVITATIONAL starts on Thursday at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.

Purse: $8.5 million
Winner’s share: $1.4 million
Defending champion: Vijay Singh

Inside the field
Course notes
Interviews

2009 Bridgestone Invitational Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

Sixteen hours of TV coverage are on tap for the 2009 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Thurs, 8/6
GOLF 2pm – 6pm ET

Fri, 8/7
GOLF 2pm – 6pm ET

Sat, 8/8
CBS 2pm – 6pm ET

Sun, 8/9
CBS 2pm – 6pm ET

PGA Tour radio coverage

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, August 4

‘Golf, Naked’ Excerpt: Whacking the Snake

(Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from Golf, Naked: The Bare Essentials Revealed. Posted with permission of Pick It Up Publishing. Copyright 2009.)

By Greg Rowley, PGA
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


MOST OF THIS BOOK teaches you about the 99 percent of golf that has nothing to do with technique. On the other hand, a graceful swing can do wonders for your confidence. Understanding the swing will give you confidence. Build the right swing, and you’re ready to take on the world.

During the countless hours of hard work I’ve put into my own game, I’ve made some surprising discoveries. Although at first glance the golf swing seems very complex, its essentials are few and well within your reach.

Another note: I believe self-discovery is the most important component to understanding the swing and improving your game. Analyzing golf on TV and reading complicated self-help books will only take you so far. It’s up to you to do the rest.

Story Time: I was a terrible player at the beginning of my career. Frankly, no one was more surprised than me when I passed the P.A.T. However, I’ve come a long way since then, and I’ve been fortunate enough to celebrate some real successes. I even set the course record at Black Rock (65). It was subsequently broken by the unstoppable Troy, and then again by PGA Tour star Rich Beem, but my name was on the board for a few months – something I’m very proud of. It’s nothing short of a miracle when you consider the first swing advice I ever got from my Dad. He told me, “Imagine the ball is a snake sticking its head out of a hole, and whack it.”

The Pre-Swing Basics

You don’t need to understand every muscle contraction, sphincter squeeze and anatomical micro-movement of the golf swing to build a proficient motion. What you do need is a grasp of the basic pre-swing principles. This is the stuff your teacher will be talking about when you go take a lesson. Knowing the vocabulary, or better yet, understanding the fundamentals, will help you communicate more clearly and quicken the pace of your improvement.

Attitude


It’s good to have lofty goals – but get real. Keep your expectations realistic. Understand the length of the improvement process, enjoy the challenge, and learn to laugh at yourself – because you will make lots of mistakes.

Posture


When taking your stance, let gravity dictate where your arms hang – which should be straight down from your shoulder sockets. Most people tend to reach out and get their hands too far from their body. This causes many swing flaws and compensations. If your swing looks or feels like you’re pulling a dead cat out of a rose bush, it might be a posture problem.

Get a Grip


The grip is the most important aspect of the pre-swing fundamentals. After all, your grip is the only thing that attaches you to the club. Here are the two most common mistakes:

Very few amateur golfers position their hands strong enough on the club. This means for a right-handed player the crease made between the right forefinger and thumb must point to the right shoulder, not to the chin. This is critical because it keeps the radius and ulna bones of your forearms – and hence your clubface – from immediately over-rotating as you begin your swing.

The other common grip flaw is a left hand that isn’t anchored properly. With irons and woods, the thick meaty pad (the hypothenar eminence) at the base of the pinky side of the palm must rest on the top of the club. This creates leverage and an important angle between the club shaft and your arms.

The frustrating thing about golf is that sometimes understanding doesn’t translate to execution. When that happens, and all of your best efforts fail, just remember to rear back and whack the snake.

Monday, August 3

Lucas Glover Day Passes Quietly

JULY 26 WAS A BIG DAY in Greenville, South Carolina. It was Lucas Glover Day, honoring the native son who won the 2009 U.S. Open about a month ago at Bethpage Black. The recent major winner is a graduate of Clemson University, where he was first team All-American in 2000 and 2001.

“Glover’s high school and college coaches were in attendance along with the president of Clemson, a South Carolina state senator and the Greenville mayor, who presented Glover with a key to the city,” wrote Golf World’s Tim Rosaforte.

Glover is a no-fuss kind of guy: soft spoken, unfailingly polite and maybe a bit invisible, even after winning the U.S. Open. The major title might change his golf career, but you get the feeling it won’t change Glover one bit. He’s a yes sir, no ma’am fella all the way.

“It’s hitting home today,” Glover told The Greenville News a week ago Sunday. “I’ve only been here [at Lucas Glover day] half an hour, and I’ve already seen 80 people I’ve known since I was 7.”

Wow, 80 people. Actually, that’s a lot in a relatively small place. It was a big deal to Glover, just like his U.S. Open title.

The golf world didn’t take much notice of Lucas Glover Day, only (as far as I can tell) Rosaforte, oobgolf and Glover’s hometown newspaper. I’m sure that’s fine with Lucas, who wouldn’t want to cause much of a fuss.

−The Armchair Golfer

Sunday, August 2

Crooked Stick Gets Mugged

MIDDLE-AGED MEN WIELDING CLUBS beat and slashed away at Crooked Stick this past weekend, leaving the Carmel, Indiana, golf club bruised and battered. The course, a major championship venue, was considered to be a tough customer, but the gang of well-dressed codgers—led by a fellow named Fred Funk—scored with blow after blow. And they smiled a lot while doing it.

Seriously, when was the last time you saw 20-under win a U.S. Senior Open—or any USGA championship? Correct answer: never.

Congratulations to Fred Funk, a very good player and a good guy, too. Fred hit 47 of 56 fairways and 55 of 72 greens. With rains during the week and little wind, Crooked Stick was pretty much defenseless. (Sorry, Pete Dye. Sorry, USGA.)

Watch out next year, old guys. The USGA will remember the pummeling you gave poor, old Crooked Stick. In 2010, Sahalee may just kick your collective butt.

Tiger Romps

Twenty-under par was also the winning score at the Buick Open, where Tiger Woods romped to a three-stroke victory. Catriona Matthew won the Ricoh Women’s British Open. Karrie Webb finished alone in second.

−The Armchair Golfer