Thursday, March 31

2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2011 KRAFT NABISCO CHAMPIONSHIP, the year’s first major on the LPGA Tour, is underway at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California. World No. 1 Yani Tseng edged Suzann Pettersen by a stroke to win last year. The event began in 1972 and became a major in 1983. Mission Hills measures 6,702 yards and plays to a par of 72.

Mika Miyazato and Sandra Gal lead after posting 67s, with the first round still in progress.

UPDATE: Brittany Lincicome and Stacy Lewis are tied for the first-round lead after firing 6-under 66s.

Purse: $2 million
Defending champion: Yani Tseng

2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship Leaderboard

Tournament preview
Final field
Pairings
Kraft Nabisco Championship website


TV SCHEDULE

All TV coverage of the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship is on Golf Channel.

Thu, Mar 31
6:30-9:30 PM ET

Fri, Apr 1
12:00-3:00 PM ET
6:30-9:30 PM ET

Sat, Apr 2

4:30-8:30 PM ET

Sun, Apr 3
4:30-8:30 PM ET

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, March 30

English Open Canceled Until Further Notice

I SAW THIS OVER at BBC Sport. No headline sponsor, no English Open, which was set to be played in August at St. Mellion, where no less than £20m has been poured into the facilities.

Goodness gracious. I know the economy still has a foul odor, but we’re talking about the home of John Henry Taylor, Horace Rawlins, Jim Barnes, Bernard Darwin, Abe Mitchell, Cyril Walker, Samuel Ryder, Archie Compston, Sir Henry Cotton, Peter Alliss, Tony Jacklin, Peter Oosterhuis, Sir Nick Faldo, Mark James, Laura Davies, Darren Clarke, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Luke Donald, Paul Casey and Justin Rose.

The small dimpled ball is an important part of English heritage. Am I right? Who’s with me?

Alas, sponsors are not cueing up.

The English Open has not been on the European Tour schedule since 2002 when Darren Clarke won at Forest of Arden. It was supposed to return in 2009 at St. Mellion but was delayed because of the financial difficulties of developers. Now that the facility is up to snuff, sponsors are scarcer than a Yankee near the top of the world rankings.

Stephen Towers, St. Mellion’s resort director, told BBC Radio that many blue-chip companies are pursuing Olympic sponsorships or simply cutting back on spending.

“It’s a reflection of the trend that we’re seeing in European golf at the moment,” said golf correspondent Iain Carter at BBC Sport, “in that the sponsors are to be found on the other side of the world, not in Europe, not in Great Britain and certainly not in England.”

Last year’s Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor raked in £84.5m for Wales. I know. The English Open is not the Ryder Cup. Still, I ask, how can England not stage an Open?

This is not jolly good.

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, March 29

Phil on ‘PARADE’

THE PHIL MICKELSON INTERVIEW at Parade.com (Phil Mickelson: “I Couldn’t Be Any Luckier”) is a feel-good piece that covers a lot of ground many golf fans already know, with a few new anecdotes thrown in.

Phil says, “I’m much more emotional than Tiger.” No surprise there. And Lefty says he wants to make 2011 the kind of golf year he was expecting to have in 2010. He better get busy.

Following is one of my favorite paragraphs from the Kate Meyers interview. It really sums things up.
In this era of golf, Mickelson’s name will always come after Tiger Woods’s. He is the anti-Tiger, though not because he’s gracefully weathered the obstacles life has thrown at him while Tiger is still stinging from self-inflicted wounds. He’s the anti-Tiger because on the course he plays a mild-mannered, sometimes bumbling Clark Kent to Woods’s Superman. And fans love him for it. He never looks chiseled, never seems invincible, and—despite 38 PGA wins—has never been No. 1 in the world. He’s been faulted for taking too long to win his first major (in his 12th year as a pro) and for making too many suicidal shots at critical moments. But throughout his nearly 20-year professional career, he has had the same caddie, the same manager, and the same wife.
Does Phil have a chance next week at the Masters? You bet he does.

I don’t care how Phil is playing, the place energizes him. It offers the risk-reward shotmaking opportunities he lives for. And, of course, experience is huge at Augusta National.

PARADE’S photo shoot with Phil Mickelson

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Courtesy of PARADE)

Monday, March 28

Paul Lawrie Ends Nine-Year Drought in Spain

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

By Brian Keogh
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


Scotland’s Paul Lawrie ended his nine-year wait for a European Tour victory when he claimed the Open de Andulacia thanks to a brilliant back nine performance at the Parador de Malaga.

Lawrie battled back from bogeys at his first two holes and another dropped shot at the fifth by reeling off four birdies in five holes at the start of the back nine. He bogeyed the last but his level-par 70 and 12-under total were good enough for a one-stroke victory over Swede Johan Edfors (68).

Lawrie, who won the 1999 Open Championship at Carnoustie, was understandably delighted with a win worth €166,660.

“It’s been a long time—2002 seems a hell of a time ago,” he said. “I’ve had a few second places in there, but all of a sudden we’re there again. It was going pear-shaped a little bit, but you’ve just got to keep going—that’s all you can do. I played lovely and the putter behaved better. I got on a nice run at the right time.”

Great Scots

In addition to Lawrie, fellow countrymen Martin Laird and Sandy Lyle have won in recent days. Laird was the first Scot to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational this past weekend. Two weeks ago Lyle won for the first time since 1992, capturing the inaugural ISPS Handa Senior World Championship.

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, March 26

‘Like’ Arnold Palmer and a $1 Goes to Palmer Medical Center

IF YOU LIKE GOLF LEGEND Arnold Palmer, you can make it count in a monetary way during the 2011 Arnold Palmer Invitational. For every “like” the Arnold Palmer Invitational Facebook page (facebook.com/arnoldpalmerinvitational) receives through March 28, MasterCard will donate $1, up to $200,000, to the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies.

The tournament known today as the Arnold Palmer Invitational began in 1966 as the Florida Citrus Open Invitational. Lionel Hebert won the inaugural event. Since then the annual tournament on the Florida Swing has gone through several name changes. It has been hosted by Bay Hill Club & Lodge, owned by Palmer, since 1979.

Palmer was recently named one of the 25 coolest athletes of all time by GQ. He won 62 PGA Tour titles, including seven majors, four of them Masters.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, March 25

How an Invalid Turned Florida into Golf State USA

By Barry Ward
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


Copyright © Barry Ward. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

LIKE THE CHARMING STORY of the founding of Pinehurst as the world’s first golf resort, the history of how Florida became Golf State USA has remarkable beginnings. It all started because of an invalid.

The setting: the Boca Raton resort in Palm Beach, a winter hideaway for film stars and other wealthy celebrities in the years between the wars. In those days it was known as the Cloister Inn and it had one of the few golf courses in the region, one built simply as a hotel facility. It seems that a couple of vacationing New Yorkers decided to try the strange game they saw being played but, being on the wrong side of 50 and unaccustomed to walking farther than a waiting limo, they couldn’t finish the course.

“Pity,” they agreed. “It’s a crazy game but fun.”

That’s when the sight of a friend tootling around the resort in a motor-driven three-wheeled invalid carriage gave them a bright idea. If they could get one of those things converted to carry some golf sticks, they said, their problem would be solved.

Another chum came up with a suitable conversion, and the age of the golf cart was born. Before you could shout “fore,” their rudimentary cart had spawned an industry. Soon there were hundreds of carts zooming around and, to meet the demand, golf courses began springing up like mushrooms in a farmyard, many built on land reclaimed from swamps that covered almost half of the state.

Then along came another bright idea when it was realised that golf courses had lots of unused land just perfect for building second homes for the seriously wealthy seeking some winter sunshine. And so the Florida real estate industry was born.

Soon there were 100 golf courses, then 500, then 1,000. Today there are more than 1,500 courses across the state, each with hundreds of second homes on the fairways. “Gated communities,” they call them, part of the country club set that is synonymous with Florida.

It was the start of the multibillion dollar real estate boom that continues to this day. It all began with an invalid carriage that is now a treasured exhibit in the Pinehurst museum: the world’s first golf cart at home in the world’s first golf resort. Not a lot of people know that, even in Florida.

Barry Ward is a veteran golf writer and the publisher/editor of www.posh-golf-travel.com, a guide to luxurious, family friendly golf resorts and destinations. He lives in golf-gorgeous Rutland, England.

Thursday, March 24

2011 Arnold Palmer Invitational TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2011 ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL is underway at Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, Florida.

Purse: $6 million
Winner’s share: $1.08 million
Defending champion: Ernie Els


2011 Arnold Palmer Invitational Leaderboard


Inside the field
Inside the course
Tee times
Interviews
Tournament overview
Tournament news
Tour report
Live@ Arnold Palmer Invitational
Arnold Palmer Invitational website



TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2011 Arnold Palmer Invitational is on Golf Channel and NBC.

Thu, 3/24:

GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Fri, 3/25:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Sat, 3/26:
NBC 2:30p - 6p ET

Sun, 3/27:
NBC 2:30p - 6p ET

SIRIUS-XM broadcast times

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, March 23

An Orginal Golf Blog Celebrates 7th Anniversary

Editor’s note: This week marks the 7th anniversary of GolfBlogger.com, founded by John Retzer. The first GolfBlogger post appeared on March 22, 2004, making it one of the original golf blogs.

By John Retzer
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


GOLFBLOGGER IS, TO MY KNOWLEDGE, the second oldest golf blog (the other is less than two months older). So when I started there really were no models to follow. I did not want to turn GolfBlogger into a site that simply recycled news on the PGA Tour.

Instead, my models were Instapundit, Gizmodo and BoingBoing. Like Instapundit, I decided to offer short, pithy comments and links to (golf) news; as with Gizmodo, I planned to link to new (golf) products and review them; and following BoingBoing’s lead, I would write about and link to (golf related) things that interest me or that I found cool. Finally, as with any blog, I would offer observations on life—in this case, my golfing life.

In the past year, I’ve published 1,300 posts, bringing the grand total to 6,478. In doing so, I continue to avoid the fate of thousands of others who have started a golf blog—that of writing a few pieces and then losing interest. The Internet is littered with the corpses of abandoned blogs. And yet, through it all, GolfBlogger remains a part-time effort. I like teaching high school, and have no intention of turning the blog into a full-time gig.

I’ve kept the blog going because I love to write. Before I changed careers to become a teacher, I was a professional editor and ghostwriter. I also love golf, so the match was a natural. In fact, I find that writing for GolfBlogger has become a compulsion.

I’d like to thank the many, many thousands who make a habit of visiting the site, and the sponsors who make it financially possible for me to keep it going.

Tuesday, March 22

Who Are Those Guys? Gary Woodland Edition



REMEMBER HOW IN “BUTCH CASSIDY AND the Sundance Kid” Butch (Paul Newman) and Sundance (Robert Redford) kept saying, “Who are those guys?” That line reminds me of the PGA Tour some weeks. Like last week, for instance.

Gary Woodland won the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook Resort while much of America was tuned into March Madness. That’s Gary Woodland. Gary Woodland. Gary. Woodland. You see, no matter how many times I repeat the name not much registers.

Here are two things I now know about Gary Woodland: He can hit a 5-iron 220 yards. He made 17 of 17 putts from within 20 feet of the hole on Sunday to shoot his third 67 (the other round was a 68) on the Copperhead course. Gary Woodland getting it done. Sort of like Virginia Commonwealth.

The basketball reference fits. Gary Woodland was an all-state high school basketball player in Kansas. His team won two state titles. Kansas Jayhawks coach Bill Self is in Woodland’s dream foursome. His favorite movie is “Gladiator.” His favorite food is steak. I still don’t know him. I wouldn’t recognize Woodland at a steakhouse, in an airport, or in a Bill Self foursome.

By the way, Webb Simpson and Scott Stallings finished second and third, respectively. Yeah. Simpson has been around but still makes my “Who Are Those Guys?” list. Stallings definitely does.

Cue Newman and Redford.

−The Armchair Golfer

Monday, March 21

Two in a Row for Karrie Webb



KARRIE WEBB RALLIED TO WIN the inaugural RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup on Sunday at Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix. “I love coming out to the desert,” Webb said after closing with a 66 for a one-stroke victory over Brittany Lincicome and Paula Creamer. The Aussie’s scorecard included seven birdies and a bogey.

Webb ended a two-year win drought three weeks ago at the HSBC Champions in Singapore. Now she has claimed back-to-back titles. Impressive stuff. With 38 wins, seven of them majors, the 36-year-old Webb is already in the Hall of Fame.

Webb needed a chip and a putt to save her par on the 72nd hole. She hit a good one and sank the three-footer. Then she waited on the driving range as Lincicome came to the final hole needing a birdie to win, or a par to tie and force a playoff. Like Webb, Lincicome came up just short with her approach shot. Unlike Webb, Lincicome chipped 10 feet by the hole and missed the come-backer to lose by one.

More surprising was the fact that Lincicome didn’t know how she stood as she came to the final green. She doesn’t watch leaderboards—ever. “For some strange reason,” she said, “I had it in my mind that Cristie Kerr was running away with it.”

I can understand not watching leaderboards for most of a tournament—if that’s your mental makeup. But if you’re in contention on Sunday, I think you have to look at some point as you’re playing the back nine. That is, if you’re playing to win. How else are you going to know what you need to do?

After the round, Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez told Lincicome to start looking at the leaderboards. Constant scoreboard watcher Webb needs no such advice.

Webb’s victory total of $200,000 will go to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and Japan relief efforts.

Third-round leader Angela Stanford stumbled to a 75 to finish alone in fifth.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, March 19

You Could Walk Or You Could Ride in This

I STILL LIKE TO WALK a golf course. I realize I’m in the minority. Most people ride. Some of them offer to carry me and my clubs. I usually turn them down. But if they drove up in this cart, I’d probably have to hop in.

As you can tell, it’s no ordinary golf cart. In fact, the company doesn’t like to call it a cart. It’s the Garia Luxury and Leisure Vehicle, “a complete reinvention of the traditional golf cart.” Here are a few features: an extra large cabin, a comfortable, car-like driving position, an innovative golf bag holder and direction selector, a built-in refrigerator, storage options and an on-board charger.

“We set out to build the world’s best golf car,” Garia designer Anders Lynge said, “and based many of the design improvements on in-depth usability research.”

This news just in from Copenhagen: The Garia has been awarded an Honourable Mention in the red dot design award. Dating back to 1955, the red dot design award is billed as one of the most renowned international design awards in the world.

How much does it cost? The base price starts at $17,499.

The Garia will be on display from July 5 to August 1 at the red dot design museum in Essen, Germany.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Courtesy of Garia)

Friday, March 18

Where to Golf in 14 March Madness Cities

IF YOU’RE ATTENDING MARCH Madness sites and bracket fever turns into golf fever, the GolfChannel.com Team has done the homework on where to play in NCAA hoops hotbeds such as Dayton, Anaheim, Charlotte, Denver, New Orleans and Tulsa.

Check out “Hoops and Golf” for all the information, including the average March temperatures in the 14 cities.

The early spring climates of Tampa, San Antonio, Anaheim, Charlotte, Tucson, New Orleans and Houston beckon with mid- to high-70s warmth. Chicago, Cleveland, Dayton and Newark, on the other hand, not so much. Unless you thrive on mid-40s golf.

As NCAA basketball announcer Gus Johnson might say, “Cold blooded!”

−The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, March 17

2011 Transitions Championship TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2011 TRANSITIONS CHAMPIONSHIP is underway at Innisbrook Resort-Copperhead in Palm Harbor, Florida. 2010 Player of the Year Jim Furyk defends his title in a field that includes 25 of the top 60 players in the world, including king-of-the-hill Martin Kaymer.

Purse: $5.7 million
Winner’s share: $972,000
Defending champion: Jim Furyk

Inside the field
Inside the course
Tee times
Interviews
Tournament overview
Tournament news
Tour report
Transitions Championship website

2011 Transitions Championship Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2011 Transitions Championship is on Golf Channel and NBC.

Thu, 3/17:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Fri, 3/18:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Sat, 3/19:
GOLF 1p - 3p ET

Sun, 3/20:
GOLF 1p - 3p ET

SIRIUS-XM broadcast times

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, March 16

Yani Tseng Set to Play for Japanese Children

THE INAUGURAL RR DONNELLEY LPGA Founders Cup, which tees off on Thursday in Phoenix, has a $1 million purse. But none of the 134 players will dip into it. All the purse money from the new tournament that honors the 13 founders of the LPGA will be directed to charitable causes: $500,000 to the LPGA Foundation and $500,000 to the designated charities of the top-10 finishers.

One player who will likely be near the top when the tournament winds down on Sunday is Yani Tseng, the 22-year-old LPGA star who sits atop the Rolex Rankings as the women’s world No. 1 golfer. After winning three times in 2010, including the Women’s British Open, Tseng captured the season-opening Honda LPGA Thailand. She is a force.

This week she’ll be playing for Japan. After researching charities online, Tseng selected the UNICEF Tap Project, which is raising funds to aid Japanese children affected by the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami.

“I have a soft spot in my heart for children,” Tseng said at LPGA.com, “so I hope my play in Phoenix can help this great cause.”

The concept and implementation of the new tournament have stirred plenty of debate in recent weeks. But now that the players are on board and it’s time to tee it up, many are sharpening their focus on charitable causes. At the moment, none loom larger than the relief efforts in Japan.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: Keith Allison, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Tuesday, March 15

Fast Times for Anthony Kim and Jeff Overton

IS FAST PLAY INCOMPATIBLE with the modern tour player and big-money tournament golf? Apparently not.

I just read in Brian Wacker’s Monday Backspin column that Anthony Kim and Jeff Overton flew around the Blue Monster last weekend. Maybe they stole carts from the Champions Tour because they really got around in a hurry.

Admittedly, both Kim and Overton weren’t anywhere close to being in contention at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. Kim opened with a ghastly 80, followed by a 74. Overton shot 75 and 77 in the first two rounds.

But here’s where it gets interesting. Playing at warp speed (at least by PGA Tour standards), both players actually shot lower scores on the weekend.

How fast did they go? The pair clocked a brisk 2 hours and 51 minutes in Saturday’s third round. Kim carded a 68, which is pretty impressive. Overton had a semi-respectable 73.

They were just getting started. On Sunday, they left skid marks at Doral.

AK fired an even-par 72 for a 6-over total of 294. Overton posted another 73 for a 10-over total of 298. Unfortunately, Kim and Overton finished 60th and 66th (which was dead last), respectively. But they didn’t agonize over yardages. They didn’t count blades of Bermuda. They didn’t plumb bob. They didn’t ask for a ruling and chat with an official for 15 minutes. I seriously doubt if they even stepped into a porta-potty.

No, they played their final round in a little more than two hours. TWO HOURS. I don’t care who you are, that’s fast. Some people have never played nine holes in two hours.

Now they need to shoot lower scores. Kim, for example, is 14 over in his last three stroke-play tournaments. That’s not good.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: Global Voyager, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Monday, March 14

Identifying Golf’s True Young Guns

NICK WATNEY RALLIED AT DORAL with a final-round 67 to win the WGC-Cadillac Championship by a shot over Dustin Johnson. It was Watney’s third and most significant PGA Tour victory. He faltered in the final round at last year’s PGA Championship. This time Watney struck the clutch shots and, more importantly, sank the clutch putts to close it out.

The young talent is highly touted—and for good reason. With Watney and Johnson dueling at Doral—and players such as Martin Kaymer, Hunter Mahan, Rory McIlroy, Matt Kuchar, Francesco Molinari and Rickie Fowler in the mix—the youth movement is on the rise. In Miami, another title went to a young gun.

(Photo: Dustin Johnson)

But here’s what I realized. Nick Watney isn’t that young. He’s 29. And he’ll be 30 shortly after he makes his last loop through Amen Corner at the upcoming Masters. He seems young because we haven’t noticed him much until the last two years. Just like Sergio Garcia seems ancient at 31, a mere 16 months older than Watney.

It’s easy to be enamored with the fresh faces, but the winners in this year’s first dozen events are closer to Tiger’s age. Here’s a list of the winners and their ages:

Hyundai Tournament of Champions: Jonathan Byrd, 33
Sony Open in Hawaii: Mark Wilson, 36
Bob Hope Classic: Jhonattan Vegas, 26
Farmers Insurance Open: Bubba Watson, 32
Waste Management Open: Mark Wilson, 36
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am: D.A. Points, 34
Northern Trust Open: Aaron Baddeley, 29
Mayakoba Golf Classic: Johnson Wagner, 30
WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship: Luke Donald, 33
The Honda Classic: Rory Sabbatini, 34
WGC-Cadillac Championship: Nick Watney, 29
Puerto Rico Open: Michael Bradley, 44

The average age of winners thus far this PGA Tour season is 33. Think Luke Donald. Toss out the 44-year-old Michael Bradley and it’s still 32. Think Bubba Watson.

So here’s what I’m thinking about this young-gun business: You have to be young in a golf sense. (Not just younger than Tiger.) I don’t think Nick Watney fits, even though he’ll probably get carded at Safeway until he’s 47. I’m arbitrarily making Martin Kaymer and Dustin Johnson the cutoff. If you’re their age (26) or younger, you’re a young gun. It you’re older than Kaymer and Johnson, you’re just a gun.

That includes you Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Camilo Villegas, Aaron Baddeley, Adam Scott and Molinari brothers. But don’t feel bad. At least I didn’t call you old guns.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: zzazazz, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Saturday, March 12

Louis Oosthuizen Fires 67 With Eye Closed

ON SATURDAY MORNING IT seemed doubtful that Louis Oosthuizen would tee it up in the third round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship. The reigning British Open champion has been sick for a while. Last week he withdrew from the Honda Classic after the second round. Antibiotics had helped, but the infection had moved from his left eye to his right, which was swollen shut.

“It looked pretty bad,” Oosthuizen said at PGATour.com. “It was swollen badly and I couldn’t really see through it. I just iced it and got some eye drops put in.”

The eye felt OK an hour before his tee time, so the South African decided to start the round. But he also suspected he would hang it up after a few holes. “I just wanted to give myself a chance,” he said.

Putting five birdies on his card, Louis recorded a 31 on the opening nine. “The first seven holes I could have been seven under.” He took dead aim and didn’t worry about a thing, even though his right eye was swollen and watery, blurring his vision.

Oosthuizen got to 7 under on his round at the 16th before making a pair of closing bogeys to notch a 67. Still, not bad for a player whose right eye was described as a slit when he finished. Beware the ailing golfer.

Dustin Johnson (13 under) leads by two over Luke Donald, Hunter Mahan and Matt Kuchar heading into the final round at the Blue Monster.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: Bob Stapleton, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Friday, March 11

Golf’s Greatest Streak Started on This Day

On March 11, 1945, Byron Nelson won the Miami International Four-Ball with Harold “Jug” McSpaden as his partner. It was the beginning of an extraordinary win streak that has never been matched on the PGA Tour and is one of the greatest individual streaks in the history of sports.

Byron Nelson’s 11-Tournament Win Streak
Miami International Four-Ball
Charlotte Open
Greensboro Open
Durham Open
Atlanta Open
Montreal Open
Philadelphia Inquirer Invitational
Chicago Victory National Open
PGA Championship
Tam O’Shanter Open
Canadian Open

Nelson earned just under $35,000 during the streak. “I was almost in a trance,” he told Golf Digest in 1970. That year, he won 18 of the 30 tournaments he entered, including the PGA Championship, a match-play event until 1958. He finished second seven times.

A month after Nelson’s death in 2006, President George W. Bush approved a resolution to honor the golf great with the Congressional Gold Medal for his numerous contributions to the game.

Read more at USGA.org: Museum Moment: Byron Nelson’s 11-Tournament Win Streak

How Nelson Ranks: Sports’ Greatest Individual Streaks
(From the Page 2 editors of ESPN.com)
1. Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak (1941)
2. Glenn Hall’s 502 consecutive games played by a goaltender (from 1955 to 1962)
3. Cal Ripken Jr.’s 2,632 consecutive games played (May 30, 1982 to Sept. 20, 1998)
4. Byron Nelson’s 11 straight PGA victories in 1945
5. Wilt Chamberlain’s seven straight games of 50 or more points (Dec. 16-29, 1961)
6. Johnny Unitas’ 47 straight games with a TD pass (1956-60)
7. Wayne Gretzky’s 51-game points streak (1983-84)
8. Edwin Moses’ 122-win streak in the 400-meter hurdles (1977-87)
9. Tiger Woods’ four straight major pro golf titles
10. Harry Broadbent’s 16-game goal streak (1921-22)

−The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, March 10

2011 WGC-Cadillac Championship TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2011 WGC-CADILLAC CHAMPIONSHIP is underway at TPC Blue Monster at Doral in Miami, Florida. A strong wind storm delayed first-round play, which will be completed on Friday. Hunter Mahan leads at 7 under par.


Purse: $8.5 million
Winner’s share: $1.4 million
Defending champion: Ernie Els

The field
The course
Tee times
Interviews
Tournament news
Shot Tracker
Video
Photo Gallery


2011 WGC-Cadillac Championship Leaderboard


TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2011 WGC-Cadillac Championship is on Golf Channel and NBC.

Fri, 3/10
GOLF 2pm – 6pm ET

Sat, 3/11
GOLF 2pm – 6pm ET

Sun, 3/12
NBC 3pm – 7pm ET

SIRIUS-XM broadcast times

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, March 9

Good Old Days: Tiger and Phil’s Duel at Doral



REMEMBER THE GOOD OLD DAYS when Tiger Woods was the No. 1 golfer in the world and always seemed to win at the Blue Monster? (Doral, that is. White-sand bunkers, lots of water.) Tiger collected hardware on three consecutive visits, from 2005 through 2007.

The above highlight package from the 2005 tournament is a case in point. Tiger chased down Phil Mickelson in a thrilling final-round duel that wasn’t decided until Lefty rimmed out his birdie chip on the 72nd green.

Times have changed. Boy, have they changed. The automobile sponsor has gone from Ford to Cadillac. Tiger’s game has gone from Cadillac to Ford.

Tiger, now world No. 5, and Phil, now world No. 6, will be grouped in the first two rounds of this week’s Cadillac Championship, a World Golf Championship event featuring 69 of the best players from around the globe. The top 21 players will be grouped according to world rankings, which means Tiger and Phil will be joined by world No. 4 and reigning U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell. The top three of Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald will also tour the Blue Monster together on Thursday and Friday.

Can Tiger or Phil reprise their mid 00’s dominance and swagger? The question hangs in the air like a weak approach shot in a stiff Florida breeze.

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, March 8

Remembering Frank Chirkinian and My Massive Heart Attack

Editor’s note: John Derr was a CBS-TV golf announcer from 1958 to 1973. Derr answered to the man known as the father of televised golf, Frank Chirkinian, who died last week after a long battle with lung cancer.

By John Derr
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


I KNEW FRANK CHIRKINIAN WELL. Frank was one of a kind. He was a genius in many ways. Rough, gruff, with a warm spot, lightly hidden in his chest. For some reason, I did not receive as many “yells” from him as the others, but I got my share. Maybe he liked them better than he did me.

When I was in Greensboro, North Carolina, doing the Greater Greensboro Open, I had chest pains early one morning. My own appraisal of the discomfort was I had indigestion, even though I was sweating and feeling pain. CBS colleague Ray Scott called Frank to my motel room. Frank immediately told Ray to call for an ambulance to get me to the hospital.

I resisted, saying, “No. It’s indigestion. I ate fish at the Press dinner last night.”

Frank said, bellowing, “Be quiet. I am calling the shots on this show. You are on the way to the hospital. Relax. Be quiet.”

At 7:47 a.m., I was at Cone Hospital and being sedated.

At 11 a.m., I was feeling better and asked to be released to CBS rehearsal.

At 11:10 a.m., Dr. Townsend said, “You must stay a few more hours. You did indeed have an infarction [heart attack]—not indigestion.”

Reluctantly, Townsend and Chirkinian kept me against my will.

At 1:14 p.m., two hours later, I had the big boy, a blowout job.

At 1:18 p.m., the nurses activated the “blue alert” call.

At 1:33 p.m., Dr. Townsend arrived, only to learn an earlier responder had determined further treatment was not useful and ordered the coverage of my body.

Nurse Nancy Fulton noted these times. She was the nurse who asked permission to do sternum massage. Back then CPR was a primitive thought, not yet endorsed. She did it herself.

A year later, Dr. Townsend confirmed I had had an out-of-body experience. And if Chirkinian had not over-ruled my preference, who knows?

I guess you could say Frank was another friend who was good to me. In my life, he was a shining star. He was a self-proclaimed hero, but we all agreed. Frank was just Frank, and that was good enough for me.

John Derr is an award-winning golf journalist who covered 62 Masters and the author of My Place at the Table. He lives in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

Monday, March 7

My Happy Ignorance of Delayed Honda Coverage

ON SUNDAY AT 4 P.M. Eastern Time I tuned in to final-round coverage of the Honda Classic. This is pretty typical for me. I’m a lot like the guy who tunes in to the final quarter of an NBA game. I’m most interested in the back nine on Sunday, especially from 14 or so to the clubhouse. Besides, most weekends I’m just not able to invest long hours in front of the tube (unless it’s the Masters or U.S. Open or British Open or Ryder Cup). If I could devote that much time to golf viewing, then my daughters would already be at college and I’d be pondering my Medicare prescription plan.

I read this morning that some people were miffed about the tape-delayed coverage of the final round. As Mostly Harmless pointed out, this has been the case for most of the last decade at Palm Beach Gardens. The sun sets at around 6:30 p.m. in early March in Florida. Tournament organizers want to make sure the event concludes on Sunday. NBC has other obligations and wants to stick to the normal 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. time slot.

It had no impact on this armchair golfer. I wasn’t online so I didn’t know ahead of time that Rory Sabbatini held off Y.E. Yang to win his sixth PGA Tour title. I try to unplug on Sunday, a digital day of rest.

I was totally ignorant as the gentler, kinder “Sabo” survived the Bear Trap and his orange friend, Yang, to claim a one-stroke victory. I thought I was watching live television when Rory tearfully told Dottie Pepper how much he looked forward to Maui in January. (I, too, would shed crocodile tears if I could go to Hawaii in the dead of winter.)

I watched the Jackfest (Jack Nicklaus in the booth with Johnny Miller and Dan Hicks). That was nothing new. Johnny and Jack are like my golf uncles. I feel like I’ve heard every one of their stories many times. (Which must mean I’m really old.) It’s like a golf family reunion with Uncle Johnny and Uncle Jack.

Those shirts threw me, though. Johnny and Dan were wearing polo shirts adorned with Golf Channel logos. I know about the new partnership between NBC and Golf Channel. And I’ve seen the “Golf Channel on NBC” tagline. But I guess I still don’t get it. Not entirely. I certainly didn’t expect to see Johnny Miller and Dan Hicks wearing blue Golf Channel shirts.

Maybe I need to re-read that Golf Channel press release.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, March 5

The Edinburgh Airport Taxis Golfing Society

















I DISCOVERED THE EDINBURGH Airport Taxis Golfing Society this past week when they began following me on Twitter. The name grabbed me, so I checked out their site. The society consists of about 40 Edinburgh-based cabbies who love the small ball. It was started in the mid 1990s by a cabbie named Jimmy Hopper, who thought golf was the perfect respite from the airport taxi trade.

The boys play eight annual events from March through September. All are Stableford (a points system) competitions. The golfer with the highest point total at the end of the season is “Player of the Year.”

Many of the members are profiled on the site, including nicknames, handicaps and strengths and weaknesses. The society has a five-man committee and conducts an annual meeting at the season’s final event.

I can tell these blokes have fun on the links. If I’m ever in Edinburgh, I’d like to hop in one of their cabs and ride to the course for a friendly round and a pint.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo: Courtesy of EATGS)

Friday, March 4

George S. May, Hero of American Golf (Conclusion)

Between 1941 and 1958, some of the greatest golf tournaments in America were staged just west of Chicago at Tam O’Shanter Country Club in Niles, Illinois. The man behind them was the country club owner and tournament organizer, George S. May. Golf Magazine would name May one of the “100 Heroes of American Golf.” And Senior Golfer magazine said of May, he “singlehandedly lifted golf to prominence.”

Following is the conclusion of a two-part story on May. You can read Part 1 here.


By John Coyne
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


GEORGE MAY’S GREATEST MOMENT in golf came in July 1953 when The Tam O’Shanter World Championship became the first golf tournament to be nationally televised. By now, the winner’s share of the tournament had grown to $25,000, an amount higher than the total purse of every other professional tournament.

Fledgling network ABC became interested in the event because of the large prize and offered to do a one-hour broadcast of the final round if May paid $32,000. May understood the publicity value of televising the tournament, both in terms of the people watching and the print coverage of the broadcast.

(Photo: John Coyne)


It is said that an estimated one million people watched as a single camera located above the grandstand on the 18th green followed the conclusion of the tournament. There were only ten minutes left in the broadcast when golfer Lew Worsham, trailing by one shot, made a 115-yard eagle to win the tournament and the $25,000. It was great television and immediately showed the potential for golf on the medium. Not to be upstaged, May stepped onto the green to announce that the first-place prize for the 1954 tournament would be doubled to $50,000, plus the winner would also have the opportunity to play 50 exhibitions to promote his consulting company at $1,000 each.

Following in May’s footsteps, the U.S. Open was nationally televised for the first time in 1954 and the Masters in 1956.

The end of professional golf’s association with May would come a few years later, in 1958, when he refused to meet the PGA’s demands for even more money. So furious was he at professional golfers, he put a sign outside the club’s main entrance banning any PGA pros from coming on the grounds.

May continued to operate Tam O’Shanter Country Club until his death in 1962. His widow eventually sold the property to a developer in the late 1960s. Today, a few of the old holes are still part of the public course run by the town of Niles, and George May lives on in the memory of those who were lucky enough to be around when he turned golf into a television sport.

John Coyne is the author of The Caddie Who Knew Ben Hogan and The Caddie Who Played with Hickory. His next book, coming this spring, is The Caddie Who Won the Masters. Learn more at John Coyne Books.

Thursday, March 3

2011 Honda Classic TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2011 HONDA CLASSIC is underway at PGA National Champion Course in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Spencer Levin is the early leader with a 3-under 67. There are a handful of 68s in windy conditions.

Purse: $5.7 million
Winner’s share: $1.008 million
Defending champion: Camilo Villegas


Inside the field
Inside the course
Tee times
Tournament overview
Tournament news
Interviews
ShotLink: PGA National Champion Course
Honda Classic website



2011 Honda Classic Leaderboard


TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2011 Honda Classic is on Golf Channel and NBC.

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

Fri, 3/4:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Sat, 3/5:
NBC 3p - 6p ET

Sun, 3/6:
NBC 3p - 6p ET

SIRIUS-XM broadcast times

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, March 2

Robert Karlsson: ‘What Can I Contribute?’

DO YOU EVER FEEL cynical about today’s sports-celebrity culture? Yeah, me too. There are all too many examples of selfish, spoiled, entitled, money-grabbing players in all sports.

But I just read a Global Golf Post column that makes me feel good. It’s titled “Karlsson’s Changed Life Is Changing Lives” by Ron Green Jr.

Nine years ago 11-time European Tour winner Robert Karlsson was thinking about quitting the game. Married and father of a 1-year-old, the constant travel and pressure were hard to bear. His management company handled his finances and, in essence, controlled his life. The tall Swede couldn’t send an email because he had never learned to type.

Karlsson’s life and approach to golf turned around after meeting Annchristine Lundstrom. She enrolled him in a typing class where he learned the keyboard alongside an 8-year-old and 6-year-old. Lundstrom told Karlsson to write about each golf round, including his feelings.

“I started to grow as a person,” he told Green. “I took small steps.”

Instead of changing his swing, Karlsson changed himself. Today he’s a different person with a different approach to golf stardom. The man ranked 17th in the Official World Golf Ranking says, “Instead of what can I get out of it, it’s what can I contribute?”

He takes that thought further.

“If I were a kid in the crowd, what would I like to see in me? How can I become a role model?”

This may seem quaint in our modern sports world. But it’s working for Karlsson. Now that he’s giving back in small and big ways (Karlsson started a foundation), he’s happier. And, at 41, the former European Ryder Cup player is still collecting trophies, winning twice last year, in Qatar and Dubai. A next step is to contend at the majors. He had three top 10s in 2008.

If Karlsson somehow manages to win a major, he’ll find ways to share that success with others. In a take-and-take sports world, he wants to give and give some more.

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, March 1

The Stats on Luke Donald’s Desert Romp

LUKE DONALD, THAT UNASSUMING, polite Englishman, humbled the world’s 63 best golfers in the wind, cold and hail on the southern Arizona desert. The former Northwestern University golfer was a one-man bracket buster at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Now he’s ranked No. 3 in the Official World Golf Ranking, just behind fellow Brit Lee Westwood.

I’m still processing Luke’s victory at Dove Mountain. I didn’t fully realize how dominant it was until I read some of Donald’s stats at Geoff Shackelford’s blog.

Luke set a record for fewest number of holes played to win the event: 89. That’s in six matches, folks, or a possible 108 holes. None of Donald’s matches reached the 18th hole. Only one reached the 17th. He made 32 birdies on his 89-hole romp, hitting 74 percent of the greens. He one-putted 46 times.

Scores of Donald’s six matches: 6 and 5. 2 and 1. 3 and 2. 5 and 4. 6 and 5. 3 and 2.

Any questions?

“Kind of one of those weeks where a lot of things went my way,” understated the one-putting machine.

If he keeps playing like he did last weekend in Tucson, we might want to call Luke “The Donald” instead of Trump. Or Sir Donald. Or, as some have already suggested, Cool Hand Luke.

That fits. Especially considering the way he rolls it on the greens. Tell me you wouldn’t bid on that stroke if it was auctioned on eBay.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo: Courtesy of Polo Ralph Lauren)