Tuesday, August 31

From Parks to Molinaris: Golf’s Greatest Brothers

FRANCESCO AND EDOARDO MOLINARI will be the first brothers to compete on a Ryder Cup team since Bernard and Geoffrey Hunt represented Great Britain in the 1963 biennial matches. Francesco, 28, qualified on points, and Edoardo, 29, was a captain’s pick after a late-season run that included wins at the Barclays Scottish Open and last weekend’s Johnnie Walker Championship.

“I don’t think I have to tell you who his [Edoardo’s] partner will be in the fourballs or foursomes,” said Colin Montgomerie, the European team captain.

The Molinaris are just the latest brother act to make a splash in professional golf. They have three European Tour wins between them, which means they’ll need to rack up a lot more titles before they catch many of the following brother tandems.

(Image: 1961 PGA champion Jerry Barber was a short-game wizard.)

Lloyd and Ray Mangrum
Hailing from the pre- and post-World War II era, the Mangrums have the most wins, 41. Lloyd, the younger brother, was a great player, winning 36 titles, including the 1946 U.S. Open in a playoff against Vic Ghezzi and Byron Nelson. Nelson called Mangrum, a Hall of Famer, the best forgotten golfer. Ray won five times between 1936 and 1946.

Jay and Lionel Hebert
With five PGA Tour titles apiece, the Heberts didn’t come close to the Mangrums. But they did something only one other brother act (that I know of) has done: they both won majors. The younger brother, Lionel won the PGA Championship in 1957. Big brother Jay won the PGA in 1960. How cool is that? Jay, I’ve been told, had a picture-perfect golf swing.

Willie and Mungo Park
Willie Park Sr. won four Open Championships from 1860 to 1875. Mungo, his younger brother, won the Open in 1874. And Jr., Willie’s son, won it twice. Talk about keeping it in the family.

Harry and Tom Vardon
The great Harry Vardon, the namesake of the Vardon grip and Vardon Trophy awarded annually to the PGA Tour player with the lowest scoring average, won the Open Championship a record six times. His older brother Tom played in the Open Championship (but never won) and later went to America to take a job as a club professional.

Lanny and Bobby Wadkins
Lanny, the younger Wadkins, had a Hall of Fame career that included 30 wins, one major and several Ryder Cup appearances. Bobby won once on the European Tour and twice on the Japan Golf Tour, but never won in a long PGA Tour career, racking up six runner-up finishes. He’s won four times on the Champions Tour.

Jerry and Willie Barber
Jerry was a great putter who won seven times on tour, including the 1961 PGA Championship, during which he made 120 feet of putts on the last three holes to tie Don January. Then he beat January in a playoff. Jerry also played on two Ryder Cup teams. Willie, his less-famous brother, was a club professional and very good player who once joined yours truly for nine holes in the California desert.

Bernard and Geoffrey Hunt
Bernard had more than 30 professional wins and played on eight Ryder Cup teams. His brother Geoffrey joined him on the 1963 team, but they didn’t play together in any matches.

Camilo and Manuel Villegas
Camilo, of course, is the rising star who has three PGA Tour wins. Manuel is his baby brother who teed it up with Camilo at the St. Jude Classic and has played sporadically on the Nationwide Tour.

MORE BROTHERS

Following are the 12 brother combinations who have won on the PGA Tour. Four of the seven Turnesa brothers won on tour, as did three Smith brothers, of which Macdonald was the star. (The year of first official victory and career wins are in parentheses.)

Alex Smith (1906/2)-Macdonald Smith (1924/24)-Willie Smith (1899/1)
Tom Kerrigan (1920/4)-George Kerrigan (1922/2)
Al Espinosa (1924/8)-Abe Espinosa (1928/3)
Lloyd Mangrum (1940/36)-Ray Mangrum (1936/5)
Jim Turnesa (1951/2)-Joe Turnesa (1924/15)-Mike Turnesa (1931/6)-Phil Turnesa (1932/1)
Lionel Hebert (1957/5)-Jay Hebert (1957/5)
Dave Hill (1961/13)-Mike Hill (1970/3)
Don Massengale (1966/2)-Rik Massengale (1975/3)
Joe Inman (1976/1)-John Inman (1987/2)
Danny Edwards (1977/5)-David Edwards (1980/4)
Curt Byrum (1989/1)-Tom Byrum (1989/1)
Brad Bryant (1995/1)-Bart Bryant (2004/3)

−The Armchair Golfer

(Sources: PGA Tour Media Guide and Wikipedia)

Monday, August 30

Will Padraig Produce the Goods?

Editor’s note: Brian Keogh is a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a regular contributor to The Irish Times, Golf Digest Ireland and other golf publications. The following piece is excerpted from his blog, Irish Golf Desk. 

By Brian Keogh
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


DESPITE HIS ERRATIC FORM over the past two years and his less than stellar recent record, it was no great surprise to see Pádraig Harrington named as one of Colin Montgomerie’s three Ryder Cup wildcards. The Scot is impressed by many things but major winners come top of the list for a man who never managed to get over the line in a grand slam event in an otherwise impressive career.

“No American wants to play Padraig Harrington. I can assure you,” Montgomerie said at Gleneagles on Sunday.

Edoardo Molinari’s brilliant victory in the final qualifying event, the Johnnie Walker Championship, made him an automatic choice for the captain, who also named foursomes specialist Luke Donald as one of his picks to the detriment of Paul Casey and Justin Rose.

(Photo: Padraig in step with Bradley Dredge / Ciarán Bohane, Flickr)

Experience is key in the Ryder Cup. So is putting. And Harrington fits the bill on both counts as far as Montgomerie is concerned. The skipper warned us in May that he might need to add experience to the nine automatic qualifiers:

“It will be very interesting to see who actually comes through and makes the team on merit and that allows me, as Corey said, for the makeup of my team to see who can fit in with that; whether I have a very experienced team and I can go with some rookies, or I have a very inexperienced team and have to some experience. All depends how the qualifying system works.”

The ball is now in Harrington’s court following his jaded performances at The K Club and Valhalla, where he managed just two halved matches from nine starts. Like Ian Poulter, who was a controversial wildcard in 2008, he will be under pressure to produce the goods.

His back is against the wall, but as Montgomerie said on Friday last: “Pádraig, when his back’s to the wall, has done awfully well in the past.”

Brian Keogh covers golf for The Irish Sun and contributes to a variety of golf publications. Pay him a visit at Irish Golf Desk.

Saturday, August 28

Report: 21 Secrets to Playing Top Private Golf Courses

DID YOU KNOW IT’S possible to play about 90 percent of the private golf courses in the world without becoming, or even knowing, a member?

I can’t say I knew that nearly all private clubs could be played by pretty much anyone until Tom Fitzpatrick of Golf Vacation Insider contacted me and suggested I offer their free report to the readers of ARMCHAIR GOLF.

(Photo: Firestone Country Club. Mentioned in Secret #13.)


The 19-page report explains everything in sufficient detail, but I can tell you this much: You don’t need to be a member to play a private course. Nor do you need to know a member to play. And you don’t need to join a travel club. No strings.

There are many proven ways to get on exclusive golf courses and Golf Vacation Insider is giving away the information in their free report:

“21 Secrets to Playing the Private Golf Courses of Your Dreams”


Actually, the report is available two ways:
(1) A free PDF version
(2) A $27 hard-copy version at Amazon

The report is written by the golf travel experts at Golf Vacation Insider. They know their stuff. They have been writing about golf and travel for a very long time and have had their tips published in virtually every major golf publication.

Recently, I played Ballyhack Golf Club in Roanoke, Virginia. It was just dumb luck. A colleague invited me to play in a member-guest. He even paid for everything! Later I found out Ballyhack was ranked No. 3 in Golf Magazine’s best new private golf courses in 2009. I was impressed, and doubly glad I played it.

This report can be an eye-opener or at least a good reminder of the many ways there are to access the best private golf courses around. If there’s a course you really want to play, you don’t have to wait for an invitation like I did.

Check it out and tell me what you think. Let me know how many of the 21 secrets you already knew.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Brought to you by Golf Vacation Insider.)

(Image: Mark Vitullo/Flickr)

Friday, August 27

Michelle Wie Is Halfway Leader in Canada

MICHELLE WIE HAS A THREE-STROKE lead after two rounds of the CN Canadian Women’s Open at the St. Charles Country Club in Winnepeg, Manitoba. Wie backed up a first-round 65 that included an ace with a 69 on Friday. She’s 10-under par and averaging a lengthy 294 yards off the tee, but has only hit 10 fairways in 36 holes. Apparently, it hasn’t hurt her much.

Asked about stringing together good rounds, Wie said, “ ... sometimes you have bad weeks and sometimes you have good weeks, but I’m just going out there and I’m not thinking tomorrow’s the third round or tomorrow’s the final round. I’m just going out there and focusing on every shot and just playing my hardest.”

Jiyai Shin, Morgan Pressel and Suzann Pettersen are Wie’s closest pursuers.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Keith Allison/Flickr)

Thursday, August 26

2010 Barclays TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2010 BARCLAYS IS underway at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, New Jersey. Tiger Woods and Vaughn Taylor are tied for the first-round lead at 6 under.

Purse: $7.5 million
Winner’s share: $1.35 million
Defending champion: Heath Slocum

The field
Tee times
The live report
The course
Video
Tournament news


2010 Barclays Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

Thirteen hours of weekend TV coverage are scheduled for the 2010 Barclays.

Friday, Aug. 27
3-6 p.m. (GOLF)

Saturday, Aug. 28
1-2:30 p.m. (GOLF) & 3-6 p.m. (CBS)

Sunday, Aug. 29
12-1:30 p.m. (GOLF) & 2-6 p.m. (CBS)

PGA Tour radio coverage

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, August 25

The $4,600 Golf Book

GOLF LINKS OF SCOTLAND is advertised as the most expensive golf book ever published. Only 150 copies will be printed; 145 of this limited edition will be sold for $4,600 apiece (the price increases to $5,000 after January 1, 2011, so you better hurry).

What on God’s green fairways could make a golf book more expensive than a luxury trip to the home of golf?

I came up with a short list.

The book permanently cures a slice for every golfer who suffers with the affliction. It teaches how to make every three-footer for the rest of your life. It guarantees that you’ll break your next scoring barrier (and the next and next and next). It instructs how to build superhuman confidence on the golf course that carries over to every other part of your life.

No, no, no and no. This is not that kind of book. Not at all. What was I thinking?

Instead, this collector’s book (click image to enlarge), a collaboration of golf photographer Iain Macfarlane Lowe and golf writer George Peper, is an ultra-deluxe, hand-tooled, leather-bound tome that’s billed as “the ultimate hole-by-hole tour of the venerable Old Course at St. Andrews, as well as a tribute to 18 other top Scottish seaside links.” (Think Royal Troon, Royal Dornoch, Carnoustie, Turnberry, Prestwick, Muirfield, Royal Aberdeen, North Berwick and Kingsbarns.)

It’s real fancy. Exquisite photography, the press release said. One hundred seventy pages of text and images and transparent overlays. Did I mention it’s oversized? Golf Links of Scotland is also graced with 23-carat gold leaf inlay on the binding that includes four thistles on the cover corners. And ... and ... ready? ... it comes in a handmade clamshell case.

The book publishes on September 14. Lowe has signed and numbered an exclusive, unpublished photograph that is bound into each book.

By the way, that $4,600 price includes shipping.

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, August 24

LPGA Statement About Erica Blasberg

FOLLOWING THE NEWS THAT Erica Blasberg’s death was ruled a suicide, the LPGA issued a statement from Chief Communications Officer David Higdon at LPGA.com:
We are saddened to hear the news that Erica Blasberg’s death was the result of suicide, as she had so much to live for. Our deepest condolences go out to Erica’s family and loved ones. The LPGA is a family, and as a family, we mourn together. This is uncharted territory for us as no one here recalls a case of suicide in the 60-year history of the LPGA.

We will continue to honor the life of Erica Blasberg as we have since we first heard about her death in May. As a player, Erica was a talented, fierce competitor and a dedicated athlete. Away from the competition, she was passionate about doing whatever she could to help others. She established a golf tournament to benefit the Foundation for Community and Family Health. It provided shoes, school supplies, vaccination shots and much more for less fortunate families in her hometown of Corona, California. Erica not only loved to play on the LPGA Tour, but she also played in more than 20 pro-ams a year that helped raise awareness and money for numerous charitable causes.

Through the LPGA medical services team, the LPGA is helping all our members who are coping with this tragic loss.
Golf writer and blogger Shane Bacon was a friend of Erica’s who also caddied for her at an LPGA event. Shane wrote a heartfelt remembrance of her in May at Devil Ball Golf.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Keith Allison/Flickr)

Monday, August 23

The Rules Geek: Juli Inkster and the Donut DQ

Editor’s note: The Rules Geek is an occasional and potentially annoying feature at ARMCHAIR GOLF.

JULI INKSTER UNKNOWINGLY BREACHED Rule 14-3 at the Safeco Classic over the weekend and was disqualified after completing her round. The Hall of Famer was three strokes off the lead when she used a weighted device known as a “donut” on her 9 iron to warm up on the 10th tee.

A TV viewer who watched Inkster on Golf Channel emailed tournament officials who in turn alerted the LPGA rules folks. After being informed of the DQ, Inktser left the course without speaking to reporters. She later issued this brief statement:

“It had no effect on my game whatsoever, but it is what it is. I’m very disappointed.”

If you read 14-3. Artificial Devices, Unusual Equipment and Unusual Use of Equipment on pages 48 and 49 in the 2010-2011 The Rules of Golf, you might be scratching your head as to the Inkster rules breach. That’s because the infraction pertains to a USGA decision related to 14-3:
14-3/10 Use of Training or Swing Aid During Round

Q. During a round, may a player make a stroke or a practice swing using a club with a weighted headcover or “donut” on it, or use any other device designed as a training or swing aid?

A. No. The player would be using an artificial device to assist him in his play in breach of Rule 14-3, but see also Decision 4-4a/7 for use of a weighted training club.
Inkster clearly violated the rule. Case closed. Should she have known the rule? You might already know how The Rules Geek feels about that.

That said, The Rules Geek doesn’t like TV tattletales. It’s weird. Stop it, OK? Unless you can stake your life on iron-clad proof of intent.

The Rules Geek sez rules were made to be followed. Got a rules-related tip or story? Send it to The Rules Geek at armchairgolfer@gmail.com.

More Rules Geek:
Phil Mickelson and the Proper Drop
Abnormal Ground Conditions Aid Amateur
Hunter Mahan’s Driver Replacement

(Image: Keith Allison/Flickr)

Tiger Woods-Elin Nordegren Divorce Is Final



















FOLLOWING IS A PORTION of today’s divorce statement at TigerWoods.com:
We are sad that our marriage is over and we wish each other the very best for the future. While we are no longer married, we are the parents of two wonderful children and their happiness has been, and will always be, of paramount importance to both of us. Once we came to the decision that our marriage was at an end, the primary focus of our amicable discussions has been to ensure their future well-being. The weeks and months ahead will not be easy for them as we adjust to a new family situation, which is why our privacy must be a principal concern.
Now back to golf.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Truthout.org/Flickr)

Saturday, August 21

Stuart Appleby Shoots 59 and Loses His Shirt

STUART APPLEBY MAY NOT make it into the World Golf Hall of Fame as a player. With nine PGA Tour wins and no majors, Appleby currently falls short of the numbers that have put other players in the Hall.

But after shooting a PGA Tour record-tying 59 on August 1 at the Greenbrier Classic, a final round that also earned the Aussie a victory in the inaugural event, Stuart’s attire is on display at the museum in St. Augustine, Florida. Items include a purple Cutter & Buck shirt, black pants and a white Callaway visor.

Journeyman Paul Goydos, who shot his 59 at the John Deere Classic 23 days before Appleby, did Stuart one better. In addition to contributing his hat, shirt and pants to the Hall, Paul donated his Titleist golf ball. (Maybe Appleby is keeping his 59 ball for his own trophy case. I wouldn’t blame him at all.)

Bobby Wyatt, an 18-year-old University of Alabama signee, has also donated gear after his 57 at the Alabama Boys State Junior Championship in late July. On display are Wyatt’s pink Ralph Lauren shirt, his Titleist hat, FootJoy glove and Titleist Pro V1 golf ball.

Even if you can’t play your way into the Hall, Appleby, Goydos and Wyatt have demonstrated how you can play your equipment and clothing into the shrine. But you’ll have to go low. Real low.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Daren Eilert/Flickr)

Friday, August 20

‘Ultimate Fan’ Will Attend and Cover THE TOUR Championship

Editor’s note: Following is an edited message from the folks in Ponte Vedra Beach about a special opportunity for a special fan.

By PGATOUR.COM

PGATOUR.COM IS LOOKING FOR the ultimate fan to help cover the finale of the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Ga., on September 22-26.

Fans nationwide can upload a self-produced video or photo essay describing why they are a fan of the PGA TOUR. Contest entries will be posted to PGATOUR.COM/fancontest to be voted on by the public through September 6. The top 10 entries that receive the most votes will be judged by a PGA TOUR panel and a grand prize winner will be announced on September 10.

Winner’s Package and Role

The winner will receive air travel to and hotel accommodations in Atlanta for THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola, as well as a media badge good for Wednesday and Thursday of tournament week, where he or she will work alongside a PGATOUR.COM staff member to cover events like the Wounded Warrior Clinic, The First Tee Clinic, practice rounds, player press conferences and first-round play. The winner will post to Twitter via a new fan account, @PGATOURfan, and contribute content to the Live Report on PGATOUR.COM, PGA TOUR Facebook page and YouTube channel during those two days.

The top 10 entries will be judged on the following criteria: evidence of being a PGA TOUR fan; experience working with digital media, including blogs, Twitter, social networking and/or video; and originality of entry.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a scratch golfer, high handicapper, an aspiring blogger or Steve Stricker’s No. 1 fan—this contest allows our fans to use their creativity and personalities to show their love of golf and the PGA TOUR,” said PGATOUR.COM Executive Producer Scott Gutterman.

“The winner will have a unique opportunity to ‘take the mic’ and get a one-of-a-kind, behind-the-scenes look at THE TOUR Championship.”

Thursday, August 19

2010 Wyndham Championship TV Schedule and Tournament Notes




























THE 2010 WYNDHAM CHAMPIONSHIP is underway at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina. Arjun Atwal is the first-round leader after firing a 9-under 61.

Purse: $5.1 million
Winner’s share: $918,000
Defending champion: Ryan Moore

The field
Tee times
The live report
The course
Tournament website

2010 Wyndham Championship Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

Nine hours of weekend TV coverage are scheduled for the 2010 Wyndham Championship.

Fri, 8/20:

GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Sat, 8/21:
CBS 2p - 5p ET

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

PGA Tour radio coverage

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: peiflickr/Flickr)

Wednesday, August 18

Rory McIlroy Wants Tiger Joust at Ryder Cup

Editor’s note: Brian Keogh is a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a regular contributor to The Irish Times, Golf Digest Ireland and other golf publications. The following piece is excerpted from his blog, Irish Golf Desk. 

By Brian Keogh
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


RORY MCILROY WOULD LOVE a singles showdown with Tiger Woods in October’s Ryder Cup. Recovered from his US PGA disappointment, McIlroy said: “I’m sure we’ll probably see him in Wales. I would love to face him. Unless his game rapidly improves … I think anyone in the European team would fancy their chances against him.

“There are a lot of American players playing better than him at the minute but it’s always an advantage to have Tiger Woods in your team.”

US skipper Corey Pavin hinted Monday that he would be handing Woods one of his four wildcards on September 7.

McIlroy said: “I think he’ll [Pavin] pick him. I don’t think it would go down too well in the States if he wasn’t picked.”

When asked about the pros and cons of picking Woods, Pavin said: “Well, he’s the No. 1 player in the world. Obviously I’m considering him highly, no doubt about it. He’s playing better. I think we have all seen that and he wants to play, he wants to be a part of the team. But it’s going to be my judgment whether I pick him or not. I don’t think there’s any cons.”

Padraig Harrington will need a Ryder Cup wildcard and Pavin knows that Colin Montgomerie also faces some tough wildcard choices.

Referring to his dilemma over Woods when asked about Harrington, Pavin said: “I guess you can flip that question around to someone on our side, too. Golf is a funny game. The game goes away, comes back; it waffles.

“I think Pádraig is a great player. The guy’s won three major championships. He would be a very good pick, but I don’t pick for that side. So it’s a tough choice for him.”

Brian Keogh covers golf for The Irish Sun and contributes to a variety of golf publications. Pay him a visit at Irish Golf Desk.

(Image: Chase McAlpine/Flickr)

Tuesday, August 17

VIDEO: Martin Kaymer and Bernhard Langer Yuk It Up (in German)



THIS STILL IN: MARTIN KAYMER won the 92nd PGA Championship on Sunday at Whistling Straits. The Dusseldorf native defeated Bubba Watson in a three-hole playoff. I’m just reminding myself after getting buried in the bunker controversy. I figured it might take a day or two to get out. I’m playing out sideways.

The video shows Bernhard Langer and Kaymer (pronounced as if the “a” is silent) instructing some German golf prospects at the 2009 BMW International Open. Miguel Angel Jimenez and Colin Montgomerie also appear in the video. I don’t understand any of it. (Except the chuckles.)

I expect the German major winners will have another good laugh next time they see each other. Langer won the Senior British Open and U.S. Senior Open in recent weeks. And Kaymer, well, you know.

Again, Martin Kaymer won the PGA Championship. Glory’s last shot. Tell a friend.

−The Armchair Golfer

Monday, August 16

Q&A: Sandy Lie on Bunker Controversy at PGA Championship

IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW, Sandy Lie spoke to ARMCHAIR GOLF about the bizarre ending to the 92nd PGA Championship.

Q: What did you make of the controversial ruling involving Dustin Johnson?

SANDY LIE: That’s golf. It can ruin your life. It has mine.

Q: Can you elaborate?

SANDY LIE: The game is run by people obsessed with arcane rules and played on alien landscapes designed by men who like to push massive amounts of dirt around and shovel me into odd-shaped holes of all sizes. Look, I feel sorry for Dustin Johnson, but he chose to be on the golf course. I sure didn’t.

Q: How has golf harmed you?

SANDY LIE: You mean, besides not knowing who or what I am? Everywhere else in the world I’m just Sandy, but in golf they’ve put all kinds of crazy labels and definitions on me. Two words: identity crisis. The players don’t even read the rules. They admitted it on TV! What kind of game is that?

Q: What do you think of Whistling Straits?

SANDY LIE: Don’t get me started.

Q: How about Pete Dye?

SANDY LIE:
I wish he’d leave me the hell alone. I’ll bet he never got to play in a sandbox growing up.

Q: So how do you deal with it?

SANDY LIE: I’m in therapy.

Q: How’s that going?

SANDY LIE: I make some progress, then something like Whis … Whis … Whis… sorry, I can’t say the words. Then I regress. It’s a process.

Q: Do you think Dustin Johnson got a raw deal?


SANDY LIE: Hey, did you hear the PGA has a new headliner at their Las Vegas show this week?

Q: No. Who?

SANDY LIE: The Blue Dot Men Group.

Q: Pretty funny.

SANDY LIE: Thanks. Saw it online today. I don’t what it means.

Q: Getting back to the Dustin Johnson thing, David Feherty said he, Feherty, didn’t know it was a bunker.

SANDY LIE: Who?

Q: Feherty.

SANDY LIE: The burrowing animal?

Q: No, that’s a ferret. Nevermind.

SANDY LIE: Are we about done here?

Q: Pretty close. Do people get you mixed up with Sandy Lyle?

SANDY LIE: Our names are somewhat alike and we’re both involved in golf, but that’s where the similarities end.

Q: Sandy Lyle’s Masters victory was directly from a sandy lie on the 72nd hole. Coincidence?

SANDY LIE: You’re overreaching.

Q: Do you prefer to be raked or unraked?


SANDY LIE:
This interview is over.

−The Armchair Golfer

(This is an ARMCHAIR GOLF spoof.)

(Image: rsutton 198/Flickr)

Saturday, August 14

PGA Championship: Young Guns Dominate at Birdie Straits

NICK WATNEY PUTTED AND GRINNED his way to a 66 at the PGA Championship to take a three-shot lead into the final round at Birdie, er, Whistling Straits. The Pete Dye track had no defense against the precocious genius of the young guns. The wind was down, the greens were soft, and the scores were low.

Tied in second place, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy are Watney’s closest pursuers. Three more of the youth movement—Martin Kaymer, Jason Day and Wenchong Liang—are T4.

(Photo: This is going to hurt, ball. Dustin Johnson tees off at the Quail Hollow Championship / Ed McDonald, Flickr)

The young guns rode into Whistling Straits on Saturday and loaded up on birdies like it was the dessert buffet at Golden Corral. Leader Watney carded eight on his way to a 66. Johnson had five and no bogeys for a 67. McIlroy had six in his round of 67, as did Kaymer (67) and Day (66). And, with eight birds on his card, Liang set the course record of 64.

There are fossils in contention: the ancient Steve Elkington, a 47-year-old former PGA champion; world No. 5 Jim Furyk, 40; and Masters champion Zach Johnson, 34. Yes, even Mr. Johnson is an old man. I’m telling you, anybody over 32 on this leaderboard is old, old, old.

Which of the boys will pass the examination tomorrow? Nick? Dustin? Rory? Martin? Jason? One of the fossils?

This is going to be fun.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, August 13

Dark Conditions Halt Play at 92nd PGA Championship

WIDESPREAD DARKNESS HALTED PLAY around 8:30 CT at the 92nd PGA Championship. Many players were in the middle of their second rounds when they began squinting in the dimming light at Whistling Straits. Not long after PGA officials halted play as darkness enveloped the championship venue on the shores of Lake Michigan.

(Photo: Dark conditions forced players from the course in Kohler, Wisconsin / anderssporring, Flickr)

Darkness has stopped play at all prior PGA Championships. Officials were not concerned about the interruption, noting that the previous 91 PGAs had been scheduled and played during daylight hours.

Most players left the course and returned to their hotels to wait out the darkness delay. Play is expected to resume early on Saturday morning when light returns to the skies above the Pete Dye-designed golf course.

−The Armchair Golfer

Name the Player at the PGA Championship

























UPDATE: OK, this one must be pretty hard. I’ve added a photo of the same player below, which isn’t cropped. (I slightly cropped the above photo.) See if this helps you with your guesses. If not, I’ll start dropping hints.

WELCOME TO ANOTHER EDITION of “Name the Player.” I think this might be an easy one, at least for some of you. Take a look at the above tour pro in mid swing at the 2008 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills. Does he look familiar? Anyone recognize him?

No hints. Who do you think it is?

−The Armchair Golfer



Other “Name the Players”:
Name the Old-Time Players
Name the Player Practicing in the Bunker
Name the Player Along on the Range
Name the Player at the LPGA Championship
Name the Player Signing the Deal in 1971
Name the Player at TPC Sawgrass
Name the Player Based on the Shoes and Footwork

(Image: JW/Flickr)

Thursday, August 12

The Land of 1,000 Bunkers, But Who’s Counting?

AS YOU CAN SEE at left, Whistling Straits, site of this week’s 92nd PGA Championship has sand fairways. This player’s ball has split the middle, and he looks to have a decent lie from which to hit his next shot to the green.

OK, Whistling Straits doesn’t have sand fairways. But it does have sand, lots and lots of sand, and it’s on display in countless (and I do mean countless) configurations, including furry little baby traps that want to be scary cavernous bunkers when they grow up. This former army base along Lake Michigan has a 1,000 bunkers, give or take ... well, no one is quite sure.

Why so many bunkers?

Because billionaire Herb Kohler wanted a wild-looking Irish links course on the Wisconsin shore. And what Herb wants, Herb gets. Just ask course architect Pete Dye. Although, in actuality, Dye’s handiwork more resembles a Scottish links. (When Herb or Pete can’t sleep, there’s no need to count sheep. They can count bunkers on Whistling Straits. There are more than 50 per hole. Sweet dreams.)

“The bag drop at Whistling Straits is more heavily bunkered than the greens at Augusta National,” wrote SI’s John Garrity.

“I feel bad for the fans,” Hunter Mahan was quoted as saying, “because it seems like you could be walking and all of a sudden you’re falling in a hole of sand and don’t even know it.”

Garrity had a solution for that very real possibility: lugging along a hamper with charcoal, lighter fluid, hot dogs, buns, marshmallows and two sharpened sticks. From watching on TV, it does look like a perfect spot for an afternoon picnic or late-night bonfire.

Seriously, who’s counting every last bunker at Whistling Straits? Apparently, no one. Call it a 1,000. Or 1,200. Close enough. You see, the task is far too tedious, only slightly less difficult than taking the U.S. Census or fixing Social Security.

Besides, if someone did come up with an authoritative bunker count, how would we know it was authoritative unless someone checked it?

No one would want to do that.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Dan Perry/Flickr)

Wednesday, August 11

Whistling or Dire Straits for Harrington’s Ryder Cup Hopes

Editor’s note: Brian Keogh, a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a regular contributor to The Irish Times and Golf Digest Ireland, writes about the dilemma of five-time Ryder Cupper Padraig Harrington.

By Brian Keogh
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


PADRAIG HARRINGTON ADMITS THAT this week’s US PGA is his last chance to avoid the need for a Ryder Cup pick. The Dubliner plans to skip the final qualifying event at Gleneagles to play in the clashing FedExCup play-off tournament in New Jersey in two weeks’ time. And that means he must grab a top-four finish at Whistling Straits to ensure that he is not relying on one of skipper Colin Montgomerie’s three wild cards on August 29.

Confessing he could be in dire straits instead of Whistling Straits on Sunday night, Harrington said: “It’s very precarious. No one who doesn’t qualify automatically deserves to be in the team. If you don’t make it on merit, you are asking for a little bit of a favour.”

Ian Poulter sparked a massive controversy two years ago when he decided not to travel to Gleneagles despite the fact that he could still qualify for the team. It was alleged that Poulter had been given “the nod” by skipper Nick Faldo, who later handed him a captain’s pick.

But Harrington will have safety in numbers this time as Paul Casey and Justin Rose, who are also outside the qualifying places, also intend to skip the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in favour of The Barclays.

Harrington said: “It is a very awkward situation, there’s no doubt about it. I saw the last time round that one of the players [Poulter] didn’t come to play the last event and I thought he should have. Now I am in the same situation because I have a Special Olympics clinic at The Barclays and I don’t want to let them down.

“I have talked to some of the other guys who will be looking for a pick and they are all saying they will be playing The Barclays. So at the moment I am committing to the Special Olympics and I’m going to try and qualify this week and have nothing to worry about.”

Seventh in the race for four places from the World Points List and just over €13,245 behind Miguel Angel Jimenez in the battle for the other five places from the European Points List, Harrington knows he needs a massive week in Wisconsin.

“The goal is to get in on the world ranking points because that ends in a week’s time. Even if I pass Jimenez in the money, he can jump by me in the last event in Gleneagles so the goal is to play well this week and sort it out.”

Brian Keogh covers golf for The Irish Sun and contributes to a variety of golf publications. Pay him a visit at Irish Golf Desk.

(Image: Mike Davis/Flickr)

Tuesday, August 10

Phil Mickelson Reveals Arthritic Condition at PGA Championship



PHIL MICKELSON HAS PSORIATIC ARTHRITIS, a potentially debilitating condition that first appeared before the U.S. Open. The world No. 2 golfer experienced pain in his ankle, left index finger and right wrist, which he treated with ibuprofen. But then the aches worsened and spread to his hips, ankle, elbows and shoulders.

“Every joint in my body started to hurt to where I couldn’t move,” Lefty said. “I would just lay down and couldn’t roll over.”

Mickelson has improved in the last two weeks after Mayo Clinic doctors prescribed a drug called Enbrel. He gives himself the weekly injections and said, “Things have been much better.”

Lefty also changed to a vegetarian diet since beginning the drug treatment.

−The Armchair Golfer

Monday, August 9

‘Lost,’ Starring Tiger Woods

After all, this was more than just Pavarotti missing the high “C.” It was Houdini locking himself out of his own house. It was Michelangelo falling off the scaffold. It was Shakespeare splitting all his infinitives.
Global Golf Post, on Tiger Woods’s debacle at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

TV’S “LOST” ISN’T OVER. It’s just shifted from a tropical island to a championship golf course, from an adventure-drama-fantasy to a grim reality show, from a cast of many to a cast of one—Tiger Woods.

“Lost,” the one-word headline I saw on this morning’s Global Golf Post, is the perfect adjective for Tiger Woods. “Unable to find one’s way” is one definition. It fits Eldrick at the moment, certainly on the golf course. Tiger can’t find a fairway, a green, or even his masterful putting stroke. First Tiger lost control of himself; now he’s lost control of his golf game. He’s stranded on an island of his own creation with no rescue in sight. It’s stunning. And it isn’t.

“Tiger seems lost with no way out” was the headline of an opinion piece penned by Tim Dahlberg of The Associated Press. “Woods is lost,” wrote CBSsports.com’s Steve Elling. “His game is in tatters. His personal life is even worse. There is no refuge for the guy at the moment.” “Has Tiger Woods lost his mojo for good?” asked FoxNews.com. Former swing coach Butch Harmon also used the “L” word.

“I think people have figured out he’s just a human being,” Hunter Mahan, the player who rallied on Sunday to win the Bridgestone, said in January. Mahan also mentioned that “No one is scared of him [Tiger]” since Mr. Kryptonite, Y.E. Yang, killed off golf’s Superman at the 2009 PGA Championship.

You and I might be shocked by Tiger’s 298 at Firestone, but Tiger wasn’t. “No, it doesn’t surprise me at all actually.”

Only Swede Henrik Stenson spared Tiger the ultimate indignity of finishing dead last in a prestigious WGC event Tiger had won seven of nine times.

Lost. The most damaging four-letter word of all for Tiger Woods.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Keith Allison/Flickr)

Saturday, August 7

Mark Calcavecchia: When 50 Is Younger Than 47

WHO LOOKS FORWARD TO turning 50? Those rookies on the Champions Tour, that’s who. Mark Calcavecchia is one of them. Calc couldn’t wait to jump off the PGA Tour and have his ticket punched for the Champions Tour, a transcontinental gravy train for golf’s graying set with shorter back swings and thicker waistlines. Mark fits right in.

“I started thinking about 50 when I was 47,” Calc told The Associated Press in May.

The context was that he was joking. He might have chuckled when he said it, but it sounds about right to me. Except for late bloomers like Kenny Perry and Fred Funk, I would think a lot of those mid-40 players who have been grinding on the PGA Tour for years dream about the Champions Tour most nights.

Calc could really play, too, into his late 40s. He was 49th in the OWGR in 2007 and won just shy of $3 million. Still, 28 years on the PGA Tour will put an ache in your step and a twitch in your putting stroke.

The Champions Tour has so much to offer a frisky 50-year-old: Shorter courses. Fifty-four hole events. Going against Frosty instead of Lefty.

After shooting 64 and 66, Calcavecchia is poised to get his first Champions Tour win at the 3M Championship in Minnesota. He’s tied with David Frost at 14 under. He left the course mad today because he bogeyed the last two holes. He still shot 66. Tomorrow might be his day. If not, it’s coming because for Calc and those other freshmen on the old guys circuit, 50 is younger than 47.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Steve Newton/Flickr)

Friday, August 6

Catching Up on ‘The Stones’
















HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND, all. A quick update on “The Stones”:

Bridgestone
Phil Mickelson is going for No. 1. Lee Westwood is going home. Tiger Woods is going everywhere except in the fairway. South African Retief Goosen leads the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational after two rounds at 7-under par. Mickelson and Justin Leonard are one shot back. A win by Phil will knock Woods off his No. 1 pedestal in the Official World Golf Ranking. Lefty has long been Avis but never Hertz. Westwood withdrew and will miss next week’s PGA Championship because of a torn calf muscle. Anthony Kim is struggling in his first tournament back after a three-month layoff due to an injured left thumb.

Firestone
In person, and on television, Firestone Country Club looks stunning.

Turning Stone
After rounds of 66 and 68, Alex Cejka is the 36-hole leader at the Turning Stone Resort Championship in Verona, New York. Rory Sabbatini and Chris Tidland are lurking, just one back.

The Rolling Stones
Mick Jagger recently turned 67.

The Flintstones
Fred, Wilma, Barney and Betty are still going strong on TV Land. Nothing says fun quite like “Yabba-Dabba-Doo!” Fred’s famous catchphrase was derived from the ad jingle for Brylcreem (“A Little Dab’ll Do Ya!”).

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: stonehousegolf.com/Flickr)

Thursday, August 5

2010 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2010 WGC-BRIDGESTONE INVITATIONAL is underway at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. Bubba Watson is the first-round leader after firing a 6-under 64.

Purse: $8.5 million
Winner’s share: $1.4 million
Defending champion: Tiger Woods

Tee times
The live report
Notebook
The course
Tournament website

2010 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

More than 12 hours of weekend TV coverage are scheduled for the 2010 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Fri, Aug 6

GOLF CHANNEL 2–6pm ET

Sat, Aug 7
CBS 2–6pm ET

Sun, Aug 8

CBS 1–6pm ET

PGA Tour radio coverage

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, August 4

Tiger Woods on Putting, Practice and Kids

TIGER WOODS WILL RESUME his tumultuous (and winless) season on Thursday when the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational tees off at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. Tiger spoke on a range of subjects in today’s media conference, including the state of his game, the Ryder Cup, the one time he shot 59, and, of particular interest to me, his putting woes.

Following are excerpts concerning his putting and related issues.
Q. What’s your sense on what’s plagued your putt?
TIGER WOODS: Speed. My speed has been off all year. I’ve three-putted quite a few times, which I don’t do normally. Just had to go back to basics and practice a little bit more. I haven’t worked on my putting probably as much as I should have, probably the last couple years actually, so had to go back to that.

(Photo: Tiger hopes to break out of the worst putting slump of his career / Keith Allison, Flickr)


Q. I’d like to follow up on the putting question. Have your putting problems filtered at all into the rest of your game? Sometimes guys, when they’re not putting well press, they try to hit it closer or whatever. I’m just wondering if you’ve noticed that happen to you at all or think back if it has. And also, where are you, on which putter? Have you been experimenting?
TIGER WOODS: As far as pressing, no, I play the game for what it gives me on a particular day. Ironically I said to you guys at the British Open this is the best I’ve driven it in years and this is the worst I’ve ever putted. What a game. But as far as my putter, I’ve gone back to my old one. I know all the numbers show that the Method putter does roll the ball better, technology, just does. But I went back to something that I’m familiar with and had good results with.

Q. When did you stop practicing as much putting?

TIGER WOODS: I haven’t had time. I haven’t had as much time to practice overall with the kids. Life has changed.

Q. You kind of made it sound as though whatever your practice session is, you’re devoting more to the full swing.
TIGER WOODS: No, I haven’t practiced as much as I used to, nor should I. My kids are more important.
Tiger will be paired with Lee Westwood in the first two rounds, and said he looks forward to it. “I’ve always enjoyed playing with Westy. He’s a great guy.”

I don’t expect a win from Tiger this week. I realize his record at Firestone is phenomenal. I just don’t sense that his game and head are there yet.

−The Armchair Golfer

(All quotes courtesy of ASAP Sports)

Tuesday, August 3

Bubba Watson Just Wants to Have Fun



WHEN BUBBA WATSON ISN’T COMPETING against the world’s best golfers, he’s relaxing at his lakefront home in Lexington, North Carolina. And having about as much fun as he can handle. It’s part of his life mission. Drop in on Bubba (above) and watch him play all out on the water. Then ride shotgun as he takes you on a quick tour of the small town he now calls home. (Lexington has at least two of life’s necessities: good coffee and good ice cream. Three, if you count barbecue.)

Bubba is very active on Twitter. Reply to his tweets and there’s a good chance you’ll hear from him.

−The Armchair Golfer

Monday, August 2

Why David Duval’s 59 Is My Favorite

IT MUST BE SOMETHING they’re spraying on golf courses, because 59s, a once-rare score (for 18 holes), are spreading like kudzu. And their even-rarer cousins—the 58 and 57—are also popping up from Asia to Alabama. What gives?

I thought I would take inventory of the 59s before they start appearing every week at some pro or amateur event. It’s getting ridiculous, and I’m not sure that anyone can care much longer. There were only three in 33 years on the PGA Tour. Now there have been two in a month. (Sorry, 59, but you’re just not that special anymore. You were much more exciting when you were so elusive. I’m afraid it’s nearly over.)

(Photo: David Duval and Davis Love / Camflan, Flickr)


The Original 59

Al Geiberger, Danny Thomas Memphis Classic, 1977
Al Geiberger was the first, and for years was called Mr. 59. Al shot it with ancient wooden and steel clubs in 102-degree heat. He went on to win the tournament, too. After losing the lead to Gary Player, he shot 32 on his final nine to win by three. Al’s 59 rates high in my book.

The “Easy” 59

Chip Beck, Las Vegas Invitational, 1991
Some have said Chip Beck’s 59 was tainted because it was on a new course in perfect condition and therefore “easy.” (Easy or not—and I’d say not—Beck got a million-dollar bonus.) What I remember is that Chip finished off his 59 on the 9th hole because he started on 10. That’s not his fault, but it doesn’t win “cool” points with me. Another thing I remember from seeing a clip is that there was no one there. That’s sort of like making a hole-in-one when you’re playing by yourself.

The Fist-Pump 59

David Duval, Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, 1999

I like Geiberger’s because his was the first, but David Duval’s 59 is the Rembrandt among the bunch as far as I’m concerned. Duval came from seven back to win the tournament. And he eagled the final hole. Eagle. Can you imagine telling people that for the rest of your life? “Yeah, I needed to eagle the last for 59. Got it.” Another thing: Who knew Duval had a fist pump in him? The guy looked like he went to fist-pump school. Apparently he was saving it for something really special. Mr. Shades was jacked up when that putt dropped. I also remember David bringing out the fist pump at the Ryder Cup. And I believe he once fist-pumped at a Waffle House after polishing off a double order of hash browns, but I’m less certain about that.

The Unlucky 59
Paul Goydos, John Deere Classic, 2010
Paul Goydos shot the first 59 in 11 years, a sparkling 13-under effort, including birdies on the last three holes. And then a month later Stuart Appleby rolls in his 59 on top of Goydos’. That’s why I call it the unlucky 59. It’s like rolling out your vintage 1953 Corvette at auction and 10 minutes later there’s another one.

The James Bond 59

Stuart Appleby, Greenbrier Classic, 2010
I saw the last several holes of Stuart Appleby’s 59 at the Greenbrier and I can tell you this: he seemed totally unimpressed. Appleby was James Bond. Cool and collected in his purple Cutter & Buck polo, Stuart flagged his approach shots and rolled in birdie putts like it was 2008 and he still had his tour card. He cut out Jeff Overton’s heart, won the tournament and barely cracked a smile. When Appleby strolled off the 18th green, it was like he was saying, “Applaud if you must. I’m not sure which was harder, shooting a 59 or lacing up my golf shoes.” The name’s Bond, James Bond. Agent 59.

Here’s what I’ve noticed: four of the five 59s have been shot at “Classics.” The next “Classic” on the PGA Tour schedule is in October, the Viking Classic in Mississippi. Just remember you heard it here.

−The Armchair Golfer