Saturday, September 29

Bradley Fighting Vehicle Rolls On at Medinah

HOW DO YOU SIT THESE GUYS down? The dynamic duo of Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley won their third consecutive match this morning in foursomes to stretch the U.S. lead at the 39th Ryder Cup, albeit momentarily, to 6-3.

There is apparently no slowing down Phil and Keegan. They recorded seven birdies in 12 holes in the alternate-shot format to dispatch Lee Westwood and Luke Donald 7 and 6.

“I’m just thrilled to get to share this with Phil,” Bradley told NBC’s Roger Maltbie. “It’s brought our best golf out,” said Lefty about the partnership and atmosphere.

Will U.S. Captain Davis Love send out his strongest pair this afternoon, or will he rest them?

Love said his philosophy is to not allow any team member to play every match. (For example, Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker sat out this morning.) But I’m thinking the captain might make an exception in this case. At the least, maybe he puts Bradley out with someone else and lets Phil rest up for tomorrow’s singles.

Friday, September 28

Video Highlights of Morning Foursomes

THE 2012 RYDER CUP IS TIED 2-2 after the Friday Morning Foursomes matches. If you missed all or any part of the action, you can watch the key moments here.

Phil Mickelson may be the most fortunate player on the U.S. team. Why? Because Lefty gets to play with Keegan Bradley. Bradley was aflame this morning.

I watched the end of the Justin Rose-Ian Poulter vs. Steve Stricker-Tiger Woods match. The Englishmen closed out Stricker and Woods on the 17th hole.

Tiger did not look good. Poulter holed some big putts on the final holes to seal the win.

Fourball matches are now on the course. The lineup:

Simpson-Watson vs. Lawrie-Hanson
Mickelson-Bradley vs. McIlroy-McDowell
Johnson-Kuchar vs. Rose-Kaymer
Woods-Stricker vs. Westwood-Colsaerts

Thursday, September 27

Nicolas Colsaerts ‘Back From the Dead’

By Brian Keogh
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF

I had my mid-life crisis at 25, which was a good thing. I got it out of the way.
–Nicolas Colsaerts, lone rookie on 2012 European Ryder Cup team

Nicolas Colsaerts
WILDCHILD TURNED WILDCARD NICOLAS COLSAERTS compared making the Ryder Cup team to coming back from the dead. The big hitting Belgian, 29, is pinching himself at Medinah after going through some massive lows when he felt he wasn’t taking advantage of his talent.

Colsaerts said: “This is quite an achievement. When you look back and you see where I was like three years ago, I’m just the perfect example that if you want something really bad and you put your work into it, if you’ve got the heart and the passion, anything is achievable.

“It’s funny, because I thought about it last night or this morning and it’s almost like I feel like I’ve come back from the dead, which is a bit of a weapon.

“We all go through different phases in our lives, especially when you’re an athlete. You don’t really have a lot of examples that everything goes according to plan.

“I’m certainly not one of them, but I’m kind of proud of my story.”

Colsaerts has confessed that his love of nightlife and lack of discipline left him feeling depressed about his career. After landing a captain’s pick, he said: “I knew I had it in me, but I knew I was going to be a bit of a clown before I got there. I had my mid-life crisis at 25, which was a good thing. I got it out of the way.

“People took me aside to have a word, to tell me to knuckle down a million times, but that decision has to come from you. Everyone is busy doing their own things—no one has time to babysit out here.

Recalling his dark days, he explained: “How about just watching tournament golf on TV and thinking you shouldn’t be on the other side of the screen. It’s pretty difficult when you’re a player and you get to see events that you know you’re not going to be a part of.”

Now the Belgian bomber is on the proper side of the screen, a part of golf’s biggest event.

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

Wednesday, September 26

Lanny Wadkins: ‘Get Ready for a Fight’



FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO REMEMBER the Lanny Wadkins era, his below comments about the Ryder Cup will probably be no surprise. Lanny was a great Ryder Cup player, winning 21½ points in eight appearances. To my knowledge, Billy Casper and Arnold Palmer are the only U.S. players who have won more Ryder Cup points. (I looked it up but may have missed someone.)

Unfortunately, Lannys captaincy in 1995 at Oak Hill did not turn out so well. The Europeans won in gut-wrenching fashion, 14½ to 13½.

Wadkinss following comments are highlights from tonightFeherty Live from the Ryder Cup, which airs at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel.

Just get ready for a fight, No. 1," Lanny said. And No. 2, you know, you have to go out therefriendliness is gone.

“I didnt play Ryder Cups happy. Im not sure I did a whole lot in golf happy.

But Ryder Cups, it was all about how badly can I beat this guy; and if I can beat him that bad, lets beat him worse. They have to take that to heart.

If I was going to tell the American team something right now, it would be to get ready to step on their neck and twist your foot. I mean, thats what I want to see happen ... You’ve got to be mean.

Its a whole different attitude. It only comes along once every two years. Youve got to want to just take care of business. 

Wadkins also weighed in on the four picks by U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love.

“I really like what Davis did with his picks. I think he went for guys that are putters.

“I played on eight teams and captained one and I can tell you every single Ryder Cup I played in, it comes down to putting. This is the best putting American team Ive seen in a long, long time. 

The question is, will it be the best putting team on Friday, Saturday and Sunday?

Besides Wadkins, other guests that appear on the special Ryder Cup edition of Feherty Live include former Ryder Cup captains Paul Azinger and Sam Torrance, Olympian Michael Phelps and NBA great Michael Jordan.

Tuesday, September 25

2012 Ryder Cup: Win a Mercedes at Medinah

IF YOU’RE GOING TO THE RYDER CUP (or already there), PGA and Ryder Cup sponsor Mercedes-Benz is offering a number of perks. It includes a 2013 GLK 350 if you sink a hole-in-one.

Performance Drive Hole-In-One Challenge

Make a hole-in-one, win a brand new Mercedes-Benz. Located just inside the main gate is the 16th hole on Medinah #1, a 150-yard par 3 with a carry over water. Step up to a raised tee box, grab a Nike club and ball and take your shot. Every fan who makes a hole-in-one receives the keys to a 2013 GLK 350. (One shot per day.) In addition, everyone who registers receives a $500 credit toward the purchase of a Mercedes-Benz.

PGA Performance Center Presented by Mercedes-Benz

The Performance Center is a 6,000 square foot interactive fan experience located inside the main entrance that highlights performance and technology in the automotive and golf industries.

Receive a complimentary putting stroke analysis from a PGA teacher using the same system favored by professionals, or step into the simulator for a strobe photo that captures every aspect of your swing from address to follow through.

On Thursday, September 27 from 2-3 p.m., the Performance Center will host an autograph session with Bernhard Langer, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and eleven European Ryder Cup teams.

The latest 2013 Mercedes-Benz models will be on display. Information about Mercedes-Benz can be accessed from a seven-foot tall touch screen iPad wall located inside the Performance Center.

Monday, September 24

Trigger Man Brandt Snedeker Pulls Off FedEx Job

THERE ARE SEVERAL THINGS I LIKE about Brandt Snedeker. But I guess if one thing comes to mind, especially after watching him this past weekend, it’s how he pulls the trigger. Snedeker sizes up the shot, takes a couple of quick practice strokes (if it’s a putt), steps in and—bam—away he goes. The putt’s rolling. The ball’s in the air.

Brandt Snedeker (Allison)
No muss, no fuss. Whatever’s going to happen, happens quickly with Sneds. I like that about him. Heck, I actually get a little nervous watching him play, thinking he’s rushing the shot. But that’s because I’m so used to watching those other guys, the sloooooowpokes.

I guess Snedeker has been playing ready golf since he was a teen, according to the anecdote I heard on the NBC broadcast. As he was finishing out his final round at East Lake on Sunday—a performance that earned him both the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup, good for $11.44 million—Dan Hicks (I believe) said Brandt’s father used to tell him to hit it quickly so as to not hold up the players following behind.

No one was following Brandt on Sunday in Atlanta. He was in the last group with Justin Rose. As is his trademark, he pulled the trigger with little hesitation and carved out a gutty 68 to win after sharing the 54-hole lead, a first in his career.

While others faded or succumbed to the pressure, Sneds, 32, closed it out, beating the big names on the weekend: Rose, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, Luke Donald and others. With his name engraved on the FedEx Cup, the Ryder Cup this week and a baby due next month, Brandt Snedeker has a lot to smile about.

Saturday, September 22

When Pros Played for Peanuts (Conclusion)

By John Coyne
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF

Copyright © John Coyne. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

(This is the second of two parts. Read Part I.)

George May, circa 1950
GEORGE MAY’S INVOLVEMENT WITH BIG-TIME PRO golf began in 1936. May had been a member of Tam O’Shanter for 10 years when a fire broke out at the club’s annual spring party. Within hours the clubhouse was destroyed. It was rebuilt.

Then, in 1938, water from the north branch of the Chicago River, which wound through the course, rose to flood stage and completely inundated the grounds, particularly in the vicinity of the clubhouse. It was at that point, when the country club was going under financially, that May stepped up and purchased 84 percent of the stock; the remaining stock was divided among 80 other members.

May’s credo was that the club should be operated the same as any other business.

“There’s no reason why a private golf club should not be run successfully if it is treated as a business,” May declared. “You have to spend money to make money, and that is going to be our plan at Tam O’Shanter.”

And May was willing to spend money.

He made his clubhouse thoroughly modern, with dining rooms, bars, outdoor food and drink stands. He improved the course, and then he put on his tournaments where players had a chance to win more money in one event than they could win all year in PGA tournaments.

But May did more. He paid for full-page ads in newspapers, drawing to the tournaments people who had never seen golf played. He was the first person to erect bleachers at vantage spots at the course. He built a press room in the clubhouse overlooking the 1st, 16th, 17th and 18th greens. He had parking for everyone. He kept down the price of hot dogs, hamburgers and drinks. He had scoreboards erected around the course and kept them updated throughout the tournaments.

May attracted the best players from around the world. He had tournaments for amateurs and pros. All Americans, even African-Americans who weren’t allowed in PGA events, were welcomed at Tam with the best players from the rest of the world. May would say in 1942 that the words “National” and “All-American” implied and assured that the two tournaments would be open to any American who was willing and able to qualify. There would be no segregation at Tam. The PGA organization’s “Caucasian only” clause wasn’t lifted until 1960.

By the end of the Tam O’Shanter era (1958), pros were playing for a quarter of million dollars. Yet May changed golf in many ways besides money. He was a country club member, but he brought golf to the sports fan who didn’t know a wedge from a spoon. He invited networks to televise his tournaments and, as luck was always part of George’s MO, Lew Worsham would in dramatic style eagle the final hole of the 1953 All-World Tournament with a fairway wedge that, according to George B. Kirsch, in his recently published Golf in America convinced “television network executives they could sell advertisements to sponsors for future tournaments.”

The following year the USGA began authorizing network telecasts of the U.S. Open. Television discovered golf just when young Arnold Palmer came to play and George S. May faded into history.

Today’s pros play for $10 million and a FedEx Cup but few have any idea who George May was, or how he changed professional golf and made it possible for them to live the lives they live and play the game they love.

John Coyne is a bestselling author whose latest book is The Caddie Who Won the Masters. Learn more at John Coyne Books.

Friday, September 21

When Pros Played for Peanuts, Part 1

By John Coyne
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF

Copyright © John Coyne. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

George May, at far right.
READING ABOUT THE FEDEX CUP FINALE, with $10 million of $35 million in prize money going to the winner, I got to thinking of George S. May from Tam O’Shanter Country Club in Niles, Illinois.

Ask any older time playing pro who changed golf and they’ll say “not Palmer or television, corporation sponsors, or even their own professional organization, the PGA.” They’ll say “George S. May.” He was the man who made it possible for touring pros to make a real living from the game of golf. George made golf a business, often working hard against the PGA to make that happen.

May was a management consultant, or back then in the 1930s and 1940s, a “management engineer.” He was the first sponsor of big-time, big-money golf. He was also an unpaid and long-suffering advisor to the PGA until the late 1950s when he finally told Lou Strong, the pro at his Tam O’Shanter Country Club, that he was through with golf.

“I’m just tired of fighting the whole thing,” May said, meaning the PGA organization.

It was May, according to Herb Graffis in his entertaining and informative official history of the Professional Golfers Association, who “talked to the professionals on the urgency of applying business principles to the pro shop in ordering stock and in display, advertising, and record keeping,” and then went on to instruct the PGA on running a professional golf tournament by showing them how it should be done.

At the time tournament golf was only a handful of special events: the U.S. and British Opens, the Masters and the PGA Championship, plus some low paying, local and regional PGA tournaments. May raised the ante, for golf in more than one way, beginning in 1941 with the All-American golf tournament and the All-World Championship at his Tam O’Shanter Country Club on the northwest side of Chicago.

The legendary golf writer and author Al Barkow was a caddie at Tam in those early days when golf went big time under the guiding business principles of George May. Writing in a 1965 magazine article, Barkow said, “The World was the first of the really big money tournaments in professional golf. Actually, there were four tournaments at once, each at 72 holes of medal play. There was a men’s and a women’s pro event, and a men’s and a women’s amateur tournament.”

May not only organized and staged the All-American and All-World championships, he promoted the events. A July 24, 1942, newspaper advertisement read: “Don’t miss this season’s greatest sports event. It is your opportunity to see a great show and help a great cause.” And he did that by charging $1 a day admission.

TO BE CONTINUED.

John Coyne is a bestselling author whose latest book is The Caddie Who Won the Masters. Learn more at John Coyne Books.

Thursday, September 20

2012 Tour Championship TV Schedule and Tournament Notes



THE 2012 TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP, the finale of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, is underway at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia. Justin Rose is the clubhouse leader after a 66. The first round is still in progress.

Purse: $8 million
Winner’s share: $1.44 million
Defending champion: Bill Haas

2012 Tour Championship Leaderboard

Inside the field
Tee times
Inside the course
Player interviews
Tournament overview
Tour report
Tournament news

TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2012 Tour Championship is on Golf Channel and NBC.
All times ET.

Thursday, September 20
1:00 pm - 6:00 pm Golf Channel, Live Coverage

Friday, September 21
1:00 pm - 6:00 pm Golf Channel, Live Coverage

Saturday, September 22
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm Golf Channel
1:30 pm - 2:00 pm NBC, Golf Central Live Pro Game Show
2:00 pm - 6:00 pm NBC, Live Coverage

Sunday, September 23
11:30 am - 1:30 pm Golf Channel
1:00 pm - 1:30 pm NBC, Golf Central Live Pro Game Show
1:30 pm - 6:00 pm NBC, Live Coverage

SIRIUS-XM broadcast times

(Image: Courtesy of PGATour.com)

Wednesday, September 19

Steve Stricker Receives Payne Stewart Award

Stricker: time for the Payne (Allison)
IF NICE GUYS ARE SUPPOSED TO WIN the Payne Stewart Award, then Steve Stricker certainly qualifies. Stricker follows David Toms, Tom Lehman, Kenny Perry and U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love, among others, as a recipient of the award named for three-time major champion Payne Stewart, who died in a plane crash in 1999.

“It’s very humbling and an honor that I never thought would be possible,” Stricker said at the Tour Championship.

More from Doug Ferguson’s AP story:
Steve Stricker ran into PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem outside the East Lake clubhouse Tuesday morning and already was worried about having to give a speech that night to receive the Payne Stewart Award.

“Can we just do a Q & A?” Stricker said. “I don’t know if I can make it through without crying.”

He couldn’t even make it through a news conference without shedding a few tears.
I’m not making fun of the tears, by the way. Emotion is good, and I’ve always been a Stricker fan.

The Payne Stewart Award is given to players who demonstrate respect for the traditions of the game, are involved in charity work and conduct themselves in a professional manner.

Tuesday, September 18

You Need a Machine Gun to Play This Golf Course



FORGET A CART OR A CADDIE. To play this golf course, you need a machine gun more than you need a hybrid. Which means you better have a highly skilled guard, someone who can spot a different kind of trouble and take it out of the equation in a hurry. It gives a whole new meaning to “tough golf course.”

Welcome to Kabul Golf Club in Afghanistan. It opened in 2004 after the fall of the Taliban—and after they removed the landmines, an unfair hazard to be sure. The EU ambassador is playing the course in the above clip. He calls it the most challenging golf course.

And the greens? They’re actually browns.

“I feel like BBC has taken a bit of liberty calling this arid plot of land in Kabul a golf course,” wrote Golf Digest contributor Derek Evers, “but then again, if you’re willing to play a round with armed guards in the middle of the desert, you can call it anything you want.”

To recap, it’s probably the most dangerous and worst-conditioned golf course on the planet. On the bright side, there’s no wait. So if you can find your golf ball and, of course, make it around alive, you’ll be done in no time.

(Visor tip: Local Knowledge)

Monday, September 17

Jiyai Shin Completes Asian Majors Sweep

RORY MCILROY WON THE PGA CHAMPIONSHIP by eight shots. Jiyai Shin did Rory one better, winning the Ricoh Women’s British Open by a record-setting nine strokes. Wow. Shin posted 9 under at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in foul weather. No one else got into red numbers. Shin’s 64 in the second round created the separation. Her steady rounds of 71 and 73 on the final day only widened the gap.

It was Shin’s second British Open title, a phenomenal achievement considering she underwent hand surgery in May and coming less than a week after she beat Paul Creamer in a nine-hole playoff at the Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg, Virginia.

The win was historic in another way. Shin’s victory marks the first time in LPGA history that Asian-born players have won all four major titles in a season. It’s beginning to sound like a broken record, but the Asian ladies are easily the world’s most dominant golfers. They have grabbed nine of the last 12 majors, and they currently hold eight of the top 10 spots in the Rolex Rankings.

People are searching for an explanation. Shin said this:

“I think so many Asia players are playing at the moment on the LPGA Tour, so it makes a lot of chance to win….Well, I work so hard, I guess that’s why I get this trophy, but, I don’t know, I know all the other players doing their best and they work hard, too….”

I don’t know the question or the context, but Shin’s statement comes across as diplomatic, even humble. The fact is, the Asian players are clearly a lot better right now. The usual explanation that I read is that they work harder, that they’re tougher.

As LPGA.com reported, South Korea’s Se Ri Pak, although a sensation and an inspiration when she won two consecutive majors in 1998, wasn’t the first Asian to win on the LPGA Tour. That distinction is held by Japan’s Chako Higuchi, who won the LPGA Championship way back in 1977.

Saturday, September 15

Senior Moment in Hawaii



THE 2012 PACIFIC LINKS HAWAI’I CHAMPIONSHIP is having a Senior moment. Australian Peter Senior is the first-round leader at the Champions Tour event after putting together a 7-under 65 at Kapolei Golf Course in Kapolei, Hawaii.

“It was a good hitting round and I putted extremely well for the first 15 holes,” Senior said.

After five second-place finishes (including three playoff losses) on the 50-and-older circuit, Senior is certainly overdue for his maiden victory. Bill Glasson and Jay Don Blake, the recent winner of the Boeing Classic, are one shot back.

There are two rounds to go in the $1.8 million event. The winner will receive $270,000 and probably have a lei put around his neck.

Friday, September 14

Ryder Cup: Will Ferrell as Assistant Captain?

Ryder encompasses spirit.
WILL FERRELL DISHED ON THE 2012 RYDER CUP in a featured video at Golf.com.

The man obviously knows his golf and is as outspoken as Paul Azinger. A taste of Ferrell’s thinking: Winona Ryder encompasses the spirit of the Ryder Cup. Clint Eastwood (with the empty chair) and Chad Ochocinco would be outstanding in the locker room.

Eastwood would really get the team going with a rambling, bizarre speech.

Captain Love, are you listening? Pearls, all of them. My thought: Get another golf cart, Davis. Ferrell has made an extremely strong case for assistant captaincy.

Thursday, September 13

2012 Ricoh Women’s British Open TV Schedule and Tournament Notes



THE 2012 RICOH WOMEN’S BRITISH OPEN is underway at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Wirral, United Kingdom. Haeji Kang and So Yeon Ryu are the first-round leaders after shooting 2-under 70. Defending champion and Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng is two shots off the pace after an even-par 72.

Purse: $2.75 million
Defending champion: Yani Tseng
Course: Royal Liverpool Golf Club, 6,660 yards, Par 72

2012 Ricoh Women’S British Open Leaderboard

Tournament overview
Final field
Pairings
Course information
Tournament news
Ricoh Women’s British Open website

TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2012 Ricoh Women’s British Open is on ESPN2. All times ET.

Thu, Sep 13
9:00 AM-12:00 PM ESPN2

Fri, Sep 14
9:00 AM-12:00 PM ESPN2

Sat, Sep 15
9:00 AM-12:00 PM ESPN2

Sun, Sep 16
9:00 AM-12:00 PM ESPN2

(Photo: Courtesy of LPGA.com)

Wednesday, September 12

Overwhelming Bipartisan Support for Arnold Palmer

“I’m particularly proud of anything the House and the Senate agree on.”
–Arnold Palmer

Arnold Palmer
ARNOLD PALMER, WHO CELEBRATED his 83rd birthday yesterday, was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal today in a 75-minute ceremony in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.

“I am very humbled,” Arnold said.

Jack Nicklaus, Palmer’s longtime rival and friend, attended the ceremony.

From Ron Driscoll of the USGA:
If there is one thing both Democrats and Republicans can agree on, it is recognition of Palmer. The bill to award the medal to Palmer passed 422–1 in the House and unanimously in the Senate. In addition, chief executives from both parties have honored Palmer: The three-time USGA champion received the National Sports Award from President Bill Clinton in 1993, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush in 2004.

In a display of bipartisan support, the Congressional leadership of both parties was on hand for Wednesday’s presentation: Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, both Republicans; and Senator Harry Reid of Nevada and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, both Democrats.

“I’m particularly proud of anything the House and the Senate agree on,” Palmer joked.

The five athletes who previously received the Congressional Gold Medal are baseball players Roberto Clemente and Jackie Robinson, track and field standout Jesse Owens, boxer Joe Louis and 1939 U.S. Open champion Byron Nelson, who received the honor posthumously in 2006.
The Congressional Gold Medal honors those “who have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized as a major achievement in the recipient’s field long after the achievement.”

Tuesday, September 11

Johnny Miller Said No to Coaching Tiger

NBC LEAD GOLF ANALYST JOHNNY MILLER was asked to help Tiger Woods with his short-iron play, according to the October issue of Golf Magazine, as reported by media outlets.

Johnny Miller (Callaway)
“Not many people know this, but when Tiger had been on Tour for two or three years, his people called and asked if I would give him lessons on short irons,” Miller was quoted as saying. “Jack Nicklaus told him I was the best short iron play ever—a pretty great compliment.”

(It’s true. Johnny was a great iron player, even if he is sometimes bombastic in the booth.)

Miller turned Tiger down, “which I don’t think many people have done,” Mr. 63 added.

Johnny, of course, was working for NBC at the time and wanted to spend time with his grandchildren. Miller said he was also tired. But, if asked, Johnny would take the reins now. “He’s the guy I’d like to help most … I know all the swings he’s had.”

Well, Tiger, what do you say?

Woods, as reported, has had three coaches since turning pro: Butch Harmon, Hank Haney and his current coach, Sean Foley.

But as a longtime observer of the golf world, I submit that Tiger Woods has had hundreds (or maybe thousands) of coaches, most all of them unpaid and totally ignored. From reading The Big Miss, this isn’t entirely different from the experience of Haney, who pointed out that Tiger often only heard and did what he wanted to.

Monday, September 10

Rory McIlroy Show Heads to East Lake

RORY MCILROY MADE IT TWO IN A ROW on Sunday, snatching the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick in Carmel, Indiana, the third leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

McIlroy’s final-round 67 secured his fourth win of the season, all of them coming on the PGA Tour. It was another come-from-behind victory as the PGA champion overtook 54-hole leaders Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh. In fact, Rory beat several of the biggest names in golf that had risen to the first page of the leaderboard heading into the final round. Besides Mickelson and Singh, other legit contenders were Lee Westwood, Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott, Zach Johnson, Jim Furyk and Ian Poulter.

It looked like anyone could win on Saturday night. But in the end maybe it could only have been McIlroy, who, unfazed by any one name or names on the leaderboard, has come into his own late in the 2012 season and is clearly better than everyone else.

“I’m just on a great run at the moment and trying to keep it going,” Rory said.

Now the points reset as the top 30 FedEx Cup players travel to East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta for the Tour Championship beginning September 20. However, any of the top five players (McIlroy, Woods, Nick Watney, Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker) can automatically win the FedEx Cup with a victory in Atlanta.

Playoff Standings / Tour Championship Field

1. Rory McIlroy, 7,299
2. Tiger Woods, 4,067
3. Nick Watney, 3,586
4. Phil Mickelson, 3,420
5. Brandt Snedeker, 3,357
6. Louis Oosthuizen, 3,167
7. Dustin Johnson, 3,097
8. Lee Westwood, 2,726
9. Zach Johnson, 2,576
10. Jason Dufner, 2,575
11. Bubba Watson, 2,377
12. Sergio Garcia, 2,043
13. Steve Stricker, 2,028
14. Keegan Bradley, 2,007
15. Luke Donald, 2,005
16. Matt Kuchar, 2,002
17. Carl Pettersson, 1,976
18. Jim Furyk, 1,966
19. Bo Van Pelt, 1,950
20. Robert Garrigus, 1,945
21. Adam Scott, 1,923
22. Ernie Els, 1,922
23. Hunter Mahan, 1,899
24. Justin Rose, 1,791
25. Webb Simpson, 1,782
26. John Huh, 1,640
27. Rickie Fowler, 1,600
28. Ryan Moore, 1,568
29. John Senden, 1,512
30. Scott Piercy, 1,499

Friday, September 7

Golf as Uniter: The Obama-Clinton Round

LIKE THEY NEEDED IT, THERE’S ANOTHER REASON why Barack Obama’s political foes should crack on the President for playing too much golf. This time it could help them (Republicans) lose the election. The golf course, apparently, is where 44 made nice with 42.

In The New Yorker, Ryan Lizza writes:
The reconciliation began in earnest late last summer. Patrick Gaspard, the former White House political director, who has moved to the Democratic National Committee, approached Douglas Band, Clinton’s closest political adviser and longtime gatekeeper, with some suggestions about how the former President might help with Obama’s 2012 reĆ«lection campaign. Band, who, by reputation, has an acute sense for moments of political advantage, tried to explain that you don’t just call up Bill Clinton and tell him to raise money and campaign for you. Band recommended that the two Presidents begin by playing golf. The next day, Obama phoned Clinton and invited him out for a round. Several Clinton associates say that this was the moment they realized that Obama truly wanted to win in 2012.

Why else would he spend hours on a golf course being lectured by Clinton?

The Presidential round was played at Andrews Air Force Base on September 24, 2011, and since then Clinton has become a visible and vigorous champion of Obama’s reelection.
Golf. It brings people together. Especially if they’re in the same party and an election looms.

(Visor tip: Press Tent blog)

Thursday, September 6

2012 BMW Championship TV Schedule and Tournament Notes



THE 2012 BMW CHAMPIONSHIP, the third tournament of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, is underway at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana. Rory McIlroy shares the lead with three others, including Webb Simpson, after posting an 8-under 64. Tiger Woods is one back.

Purse: $8 million
Winner’s share: $1.44 million
Defending champion: Justin Rose

2012 BMW Championship Leaderboard

Inside the field
Tee times
Inside the course
Player interviews
Tournament overview
Tour report
Tournament news

TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2012 BMW Championship is on Golf Channel and NBC.
All times ET.

Thu, 9/6
3-6 pm GOLF

Fri, 9/7
3-6 pm GOLF

Sat, 9/8
12-3:30 pm NBC
3:30-6 pm GOLF

Sun, 9/9
12-2 pm GOLF
2-6 pm NBC

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Wednesday, September 5

Ben Hogan: Lessons at Century Country Club

By John Coyne
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


Copyright © John Coyne. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

I HAVE MADE A LIFETIME HOBBY of mine researching Ben Hogan’s history, and even based one of my novels, The Caddie Who Knew Ben Hogan, on the Hawk. Since I live in Westchester, New York, a few years ago I went searching for his early career, when he was the home pro at Century Country Club in nearby Purchase.

What I learned was that in 1938 Century went searching for a professional golfer to work as the teaching assistant to Dan Mackie, then the club’s home pro. Someone mentioned Ben Hogan as a possibility. It was decided to check out Hogan through Frederick Hellman, brother of former member Marco “Mickey” Hellman, of the Wells Fargo Bank, when the fledging PGA tour reached California.

According to records kept at the club, in February of 1938, Ted Low wrote Hellman, thanking him for his help, “I received your telegram saying that you had seen Ben Hogan and that he made a nice appearance.”

Hogan was hired and that summer of ’38 he went back east to take over as the teaching pro at Century. His salary was $500 a year, plus food and lodging.

It was also that year, in September 1938, that Hogan, paired with Vic Ghezzi, won the Hershey Four-Ball, his first pro victory.

Hogan always admitted he was not a gifted teacher of the game. In his classic book, Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf written with Herbert Warren Wind and published first in 1957, a book that still sells nearly 100,000 paperback copies a year, Hogan wrote, “I didn’t and don’t have the ideal temperament for teaching.” In this book he also notes, “Quite early in my career when I was serving as the professional at the Century Country Club in Purchase, N.Y., I did a great deal of teaching.”

When he wasn’t teaching, he was practicing.

“He lived on the practice range,” says Nelson Long, the club’s current and long-time head pro. “We had a member here who passed away a few years ago but remembered Hogan from his time at the club. He said that whenever Hogan gave a playing lesson with a member, however, he had the habit of looking away when the member swung, so as not to be influenced by a bad swing.”

Hogan did draw on his lessons at Century in writing Five Lessons. “There was a young businessman at my club, Fred Ehrman, who had this ability to learn, and we did a very satisfying job together. He was a 90-shooter in April. Five months later he was playing the 70s and won the club championship.”

It was while giving lessons at Century that Hogan began to develop his understanding of the dynamics of the golf swing, which, he said, he fully understood by 1946, his first great year on the PGA tour.

“Beginning in 1946,” Hogan writes, “I was able to win some of the big championships, and being able to win was the proof I needed that what I felt was correct was indeed correct.”

Hogan would win 13 times in ’46, including his first major, the PGA.

In 1940 Dan Mackie was pensioned off at Century and Hogan became the head pro. He was 28 years old. Hogan would stay as home pro only that summer. He moved next to Pennsylvania and replaced Henry Picard at Hershey Country Club. Also in 1940, Hogan would win his first PGA tournament on his own, the North and South Open.

Ben Hogan would play onto greatness. In all those years to come everyone asked: Would anyone ever surpass Hogan’s ability?

Hogan answered that question himself.

In 1940 he said, “It is my conviction that in the years ahead there will be many changes in style and form, just as there have been in the past. We never come anywhere near reaching perfection—there is always something left to improve.”

John Coyne is a bestselling author whose latest book is The Caddie Who Won the Masters. Learn more at John Coyne Books.

Tuesday, September 4

Man at Work: Rory McIlroy Grinds Out a Win on Labor Day

By Brian Keogh
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


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 excerpt from Brian’s Irish Golf Desk is used with permission.

RORY MCILROY SURVIVED A LATE SCARE to win the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston and move into pole position to snatch the $10m FedEx Cup bonus. The world No 1, who was three strokes behind leader Louis Oosthuizen starting the day, closed with a four under par 67 to win by a shot from the South African on 20 under par and soar to the top of the FedEx Cup standings thanks to his third win of the season.

Three clear with six holes to play, the 23-year old went to the par-five 18th just one in front of the overnight leader, who birdied the 13th and 15th to set up a nail-biting finish in the second FedEx Cup play-off event. The 2010 Open champion, who failed to produce the fireworks that saw him shoot 63 on Sunday, had a chance to level matters going to the last.

Oosthuizen went for the green in two but sprayed his approach short and right into greenside rough from where he pitched to 12 feet after McIlroy had wedged to 20 feet in three from the fairway. The Holywood star had a chance to win the title with a birdie but his 20 footer stopped on the lip, leaving Oosthuizen with a slippery putt to force a play-off. Fortunately for McIlroy’s hopes, his 12 footer slipped past the edge and he signed for a level par 71 to become the 14th overnight leader to fail to win on the PGA Tour this season.

After pocketing a cheque for $1.44m, a relieved McIlroy confessed that it was a case of surviving a nervy finish. Delighted to win for the fifth time in the US and match Tiger Woods with three wins this year, McIlroy said: “That was all about survival. I didn’t finish it off the way I would have liked but I got there in the end.

“I am very happy. It’s the third victory of the year, great to get a victory in these playoffs and it sets me up by putting me in a great position going into the next two weeks.”

While it wasn’t McIlroy’s biggest final round comeback to win on the PGA Tour—he was four behind at Quail Hollow in 2010—the 23-year old superstar produced a grinding performance that confirmed his status as the best player in the world.

Tiger Woods was never really a threat, despite finishing two shots behind at the finish to become the first man to earn over $100 million in prize money on the PGA Tour. Six behind at the start, the 14-time major winner made four birdies in his first nine holes before the birdies dried up on the back nine. Yet while he gave himself a 23 foot eagle chance at the last to get to 19 under and put pressure on the leaders, he missed it and finished third on 18 under after a closing 66.

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

Monday, September 3

Name Change Controversy in Augusta

IT MIGHT NOT BE CONDI RICE and Darla Moore breaking the gender barrier, but there’s more news out of Augusta, Georgia, home to the Masters, and also those back-to-back NCAA Men’s Division I golf champions, Augusta State. Here’s the deal. Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University are in the process of merging. The resulting school is set to be named Georgia Regents University.

Folks are not happy about this, to put it lightly. You can be sure it’s a topic of heated conversation at Augusta’s 10 or so Waffle Houses and elsewhere.

“I grew up in Augusta, and I had great pride playing for Augusta State,” golfer Carter Newman told Golfweek. “I can tell you right now, I wouldn’t have stepped foot on campus if it was named Georgia Regents University.”

According to Sean Martin’s reporting, there was “a lack of public input” and the new name did not do well in polling. “Georgia Regents University” didn’t crack the top three. “University of Augusta” got the most votes. Martin wrote:
Meanwhile, the ire of students, alumni and Augusta citizens builds. William S. Morris III, publisher of The Augusta Chronicle and a former chairman of the state’s Board of Regents, has resigned from a board at Georgia Health Sciences University, expressing his disappointment with GHSU president Ricardo Azziz and calling for the school to be renamed with “Augusta” in the title. Morris also is an Augusta National Golf Club member.
Josh Gregory, the school’s former golf coach who led them to consecutive NCAA titles in 2010 and 2011, said the Augusta State name was “a huge recruiting tool” and called Augusta “perhaps the most famous small town in the world.”

“I don’t know how they could have messed it up any more,” Newman added.

The team will compete as Augusta State during the 2012-13 season. Then, unless something changes, it’s goodbye Augusta, hello Georgia Regents.

Go Jaguars.

Saturday, September 1

2012 Ryder Cup: Free Junior Tickets for Practice Days

By PGA of America

The PGA of America will provide free junior tickets for the 2012 Ryder Cup practice days scheduled for Sept. 25-27 at Medinah (Ill.) Country Club, host venue of the 39th Ryder Cup.

For the first time in Ryder Cup history, juniors age 17 and under will be admitted free of charge to the grounds on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of Ryder Cup week if accompanied by a ticket-bearing adult. A maximum of two (2) junior tickets may be obtained per Ryder Cup ticketed adult on these days at the Admission Sales/Will Call Office. Junior tickets will be available on these days regardless of a sell-out.

“The PGA of America is pleased to provide free Ryder Cup practice round tickets to juniors ages 17 and under during Ryder Cup week,” said 2012 Ryder Cup Director Michael Belot.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for young golfers to experience the Ryder Cup atmosphere and to see some of the greatest golfers in the world preparing for Ryder Cup action. We hope many of our adult Ryder Cup ticket holders will take advantage of this no-cost offering and bring young golf fans to Medinah.”

To enter the grounds on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the Ryder Cup, each junior must have a paid ticket.

For more information about the 2012 Ryder Cup, visit www.RyderCup.com.