Wednesday, July 31

Larry Bird Land Gets 2015 Senior PGA Championship

AS AN INDIANA NATIVE AND LARRY BIRD fan, I can get behind this news.

Larry Bird will host the 2015 Senior PGA Championship.
(OK, actually his hometown of French Lick.)
From the PGA of America:
French Lick Resort's Pete Dye Course, which opened in 2009, will be the site of the most historic and prestigious event in senior golf, May 21-24, 2015. The Senior PGA Championship becomes the fourth major championship hosted by the resort, following the 1924 PGA Championship, played on the Donald Ross Course, won by Walter Hagen whose triumph began a remarkable four-year PGA winning streak. The French Lick Resort also hosted the 1959 and '60 LPGA Championships. French Lick's Pete Dye Course also hosted the 2010 PGA Professional National Championship.

The Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid marks its first visit to Indiana, with an international 156-member field competing on the par-72, 7,400-yard Pete Dye Course, designed by its legendary namesake.

"The Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid has demonstrated its ability to attract and establish a tradition of bringing this premier event to many of the premier courses in the country," said PGA of America President Ted Bishop.

"It is exciting to have the opportunity to bring the Championship to French Lick, which most recognize as the hometown of basketball legend Larry Bird, but also became a site of golf history when Walter Hagen, one of our Association founders, enhanced his legendary career. The connection is now alive again in 2015 when the finest senior professionals in the world, including some of legendary status, compete for the Alfred S. Bourne trophy in Indiana."
The question is, will "The Hick from French Lick" be on hand in May 2015 to watch some small ball?

Tuesday, July 30

Keegan Bradley Decided on Golf Career in Kindergarten



SELF-DESCRIBED GOLF NERD KEEGAN BRADLEY told David Feherty that he knew in kindergarten he wanted to be a golf pro. Is that early? Ha!

Some of us are still trying to figure out what we want to do with our lives. (And running out of time.)

Is Web.com Tour Actually 'Wedge.com Tour'?

I SAW THIS IN RYAN LAVNER'S "Stock Watch" column at GolfChannel.com:
Web.com Tour: This season there have been 20 rounds of 62 or better, including a pair of 59s. Last week, 23 under was good enough for only a playoff, and 65 players were double digits under par. It’s time to toughen up the Wedge.com Tour.
Sheesh. I'm used to reading about low scores, but that is a little eye-opening. But, you know, maybe that also helps the Web.com Tour get a little bit of attention.

Does everybody like super-low scores? Will anyone care when 59s become commonplace?

Monday, July 29

LPGA Commish: British Win Equals Grand Slam for Park



I WROTE MORE THAN THREE WEEKS AGO that "FOUR Is Right Number for Grand Slam." I was referring, of course, to Inbee Park, who has won the first three majors championships on the LPGA circuit this calendar season. Park goes for her fourth, the Ricoh Women's British Open, this week at St. Andrews.

Interviewed on Golf Channel's Morning Drive last Thursday, LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan is apparently in agreement.

"I'll call her a 'Grand Slam' winner if she wins four," Whan told Gary Williams.

Good call. And smart.

That's Whan, a savvy spokesperson and marketer who is no doubt extremely pleased that women's golf is getting much more attention inside and outside the sport because of Park's historic season. You could even say that labeling the Evian Masters as a fifth major has stirred up extra media attention because of the controversy surrounding what constitutes a grand slam.

I would guess that Whan is not at all displeased about it. It's been a media and grand slam boon.

And if Park or someone else happens to win all five LPGA majors in one season, what shall we call that new thing?

"I think we've created the 'Super Slam' for five," Whan said.

A super slam, right. If Denny's Restaurants can have multiple slams, why not the LPGA?

(Visor tip: Geoff Shackelford)

Friday, July 26

'Birdies, Bunkers & Bar Stools' By Barry Ward

Available at Lulu.com.
FEW PEOPLE KNOW THE EXTREME GOOD FORTUNE that converts a pastime into a career. Even fewer are those to whom such a scenario brings success and rewards beyond imaginings.

Barry Ward is one of the latter, and after a lifetime in golf writing he is still counting his blessings. He calls it his improbable journey, one which came about through a chain of events that almost defies credulity. Now he is sharing that globetrotting golf journey in a collection of stories and essays called Birdies, Bunkers & Bar Stools: Jottings from a Lifetime in Golf Writing, available in paperback and as an e-book at Lulu.com.

Introduced to golf by chance in consequence of an overseas posting, Ward virtually fell into golf writing within weeks of taking up the game and has never looked back. Now, after more than fifty years of travelling the globe reporting on golf, its memorable places and the people who play it at the highest level, he is still playing and writing about the game he adores to distraction. "Envious friends have frequently suggested I find a proper job," he says, "but I can't think of one that would bring such fulfillment and delight. In any event, I think I've left it a bit late to change tack."

Now in his 80th year and as active as ever, Barry decided that the time is right to gather his memories and record them in book form "for my family and friends, and anyone else who loves this wonderful game of ours." Only then did he come to realize the difficulties he faced because "my early material, pounded out on a typewriter for newspapers, had long since gone into oblivion, my files lost for all time after countless domestic moves. Only material produced for magazines in the age of computers and word processors has survived, and indeed not all of that."

So Barry has collated a small selection of the latter, "plus a piece or three dug from the memory bank or plucked from old printed publications that have somehow become fixtures in my golf library."

The chosen pieces were written for various British publications, chiefly Golf Monthly magazine and, in recent times, his website (www.posh-golf-travel.com), but also for Golf Links magazine, the original Golf News, plus a number of trade and consumer publications and newspapers, The Times of London among the latter.

"Like my career, producing the book has been a labour of love," Barry says. "But that applies to anything with golf at its heart. May you enjoy the words as much as I have enjoyed the recollection."

Coming soon:
An excerpt from Birdies, Bunkers & Bar Stools on famed golf course designer Pete Dye

Thursday, July 25

2013 Senior British Open TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2013 SENIOR BRITISH OPEN is under way at Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, England. Gene Sauers leads after shooting a 3-under 67. Only 10 players broke 70 in the opening round. Defending champion Fred Couples carded a 74.

Defending champion Fred Couples
shot 74 at Royal Birkdale. (Bill Spruce)
Purse: $2 million
Winner’s share: $315,600
Defending champion: Fred Couples

2013 British Senior Open Leaderboard

The field
Tee times
Power rankings
Tournament overview

TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2013 British Senior Open is on ESPN2. All times ET.

July 25 (Thursday) 12-2 p.m.
July 26 (Friday) 12-2 p.m.
July 27 (Saturday) 12-2 p.m.
July 28 (Sunday) 12-2 p.m.

Wednesday, July 24

At PGA Championship, Fans Will Pick a Hole Location

HERE'S SOMETHING DIFFERENT. GOLF FANS (including you if you want) will pick a hole location at the upcoming PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, New York. Believe it because it's true. It's called the "Pick the Hole Challenge."

Who came up with this unusual idea?

Jack Nicklaus, in a way. Yes, that golf legend who won five PGA Championships, including the 1980 edition at Oak Hill, which the Golden Bear won by a record seven strokes.

"It really was Jack's idea to get more fan participation in the championship," PGA of America's Kerry Haigh said. "And what better way than to select a hole location in the final round of the PGA Championship?"

More on the hole challenge from PGA.com:
[F]ans are encouraged to visit PGA.com from July 23-Aug. 10, in order to vote for one of four exciting and challenging final-round hole locations for the par-3, 181-yard 15th hole at Oak Hill. Nicklaus, whose final PGA Championship victory occurred at Oak Hill in 1980, collaborated with PGA Chief Championships Officer Kerry Haigh to select the picturesque 15th hole due to the impact it will likely have on the PGA Championship's outcome. As a result, Haigh has identified and selected each of these four distinct Championship hole locations for fans to vote. On August 11, during Sunday's final round coverage on TNT and CBS, fans will be able to see the winning hole position that will be used on the 15th green.
"The chance for golf fans to interact with the PGA Championship and play a role in shaping the outcome of the final round fascinates me," Nicklaus said. "It's like being able to call the shots during the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl."

So there you go. To find out more, or to cast your vote, go to PickTheHoleChallenge.pga.com.

Tuesday, July 23

Henrik Stenson Climbs Out of Slump

By Alan Ewens

Henrik Stenson
Stenson is back. (Bootstrapper)
HENRIK STENSON IS THE LATEST BIG MOVER in the 2013 Race to Dubai and will return to his former “home” for the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai in November after the third top three Open Championship finish of his career.

Season’s earnings of €1,179,710 from 11 events, including the runners-up spot behind Open Champion Phil Mickelson at Muirfield, have moved Stenson up to fourth place in The Race to Dubai and with it a guaranteed place at the end-of season DP World Tour Championship on the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates from 14-17 November.

It’s a spectacular return to form for the 37-year-old Swede who saw his career hit a slump after previously hitting the heights as World Number Four in 2009, the highest ranking ever by a Swedish golfer.

“I'm very pleased with my performance over the week,” Stenson said after finishing three shots behind Mickelson at The 142nd Open Championship. “I’ve got two third place finishes and now a second (at The Open) so we’re getting closer!

“I’ve made some great improvements this season and I’m really getting back to form. Mentally I’ve been in a good place all week but I still feel like I could up it a little bit and be a little bit more confident with my game. I’m going to keep on trying to put myself into these positions going forward, and hopefully we can close the deal in the near future.”

With seven European Tour titles to his name, as well as the 2009 Players Championship, Stenson is no stranger to the winner’s circle. The popular Swede, who spent many years living in Dubai, now has a family base in Orlando, Florida, and appears to be back to his best after free-falling to 230th in the Official World Golf Ranking.

“I found some form on the back end of last year,” he added. “It was great to be back in the winner’s circle at the South African Open in November. I’ve put down some long‑term goals with my game and worked hard at them, and as always, that pays off in the end.

“I've been moving up in the World Rankings and I’m still in a good spot. I have no points to defend for another six months, basically, so everything I add will either stay or make me go higher. I’m kind of looking at trying to get back into the top 15, the top 10 by the end of this year if I keep progressing. I can definitely see top 10 in the world. I wouldn’t say I’m that far off.”

Currently leading The Race to Dubai is England’s Justin Rose, the new US Open Champion, with Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell in second place ahead of exciting 20 year-old Italian sensation Matteo Manassero in third, just €170 ahead of Stenson.

Free tickets to the 2013 Dubai World Championship are available at www.DPWTC.com.

Monday, July 22

How Phil Did It


ON SUNDAY AT MUIRFIELD, IT WAS 43-year-old Phil Mickelson who shot the round of his life, a scintillating 66, to win the British Open for the first time, his fifth major. Not Tiger Woods, or Lee Westwood, or Adam Scott, or Hunter Mahan, or Henrik Stenson.

ESPN's Scott Van Pelt and Andy North break down some keys to Lefty's surprising victory after the crushing disappointment at Merion in the U.S. Open a month ago.

No doubt, if you watched yesterday's action at Muirfield, you witnessed one of the great final rounds in major championship history.

Me?

It was one of the few British Open finales I've missed in the last quarter century. I was touring New York City with my family. I did see "Newsies" on Broadway, though, also a great show.

Friday, July 19

Jimenez Leads, Muirfield Frustrates



MIGUEL ANGEL JIMENEZ, THE CAREFREE, 49-year-old Spaniard, is the halfway leader at the 142nd British Open. Jimenez carded a 71 after an opening 68 to sit atop the leaderboard at 3 under. Four players are one stroke off Jimenez's pace: Tiger Woods, Lee Westwood, Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson.

"I feel relaxed, I play golf for a living and I've been doing the same thing for 25 years," Jimenez said. "I'm going to hit some balls, I'm going to have a nice cigar, have dinner with my girlfriend and with my sons and when the sun comes up tomorrow I will deal with everything."

Jimenez might lead on the scoreboard, but no player is winning.

This from the AP report:
The course was the real winner on this daydry as a bone and firm as a snooker table, giving up only four scores in the 60s. Another warm, sunny day along the Forth of Firth had nearby beachgoers frolicking in the surf, like this was Southern California instead of Scotland, but it made things miserable out on a course that is more brown than green.

There were balls scooting all over the place. They wound up behind grandstands, in knee-high grass, up against the face of pot bunkers. Dustin Johnson had to intentionally hit a sideways shot into the rough just to escape a bunker. Phil Mickelson four-putted a hole. Darren Clarke made a quadruple-bogey. And ... they were all still in contention for the claret jug.
Many of the players are unhappy. Some are vocal about their unhappiness.

Count me among the unsympathetic. I tire of the whining about the golf course. I don't doubt that it's over the edge, especially some of the greens and pin placements. That happens at majors.

But it's the same for everyone, no? And can complaining about the course help the complainer? I wouldn't think so.

BBC golf commentator Peter Alliss said this:

"So many of these players just aren't used to these conditions. Before fairway watering, all links courses were like this and you just got used to it. You played them as a matter of course; you didn't think about them. Now so many players over think. Some great players have played very badly here this week, with a lot of European and British contenders being especially poor. They seemingly haven't even tried to adjust to the conditions .... "

'Brain Dead' McIlroy Struggles at Muirfield

By Brian Keogh

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 is lost in his own haze. (mirsasha)
DAZED, CONFUSED AND ALONE. A stunned Rory McIlroy staggered away from Muirfield and summed up his 79 with a brutally honest description of one of the few really destructive shots he hit all day. “Brain dead.”

Like a heavyweight fighter who hasn’t stepped into the ring for years and ends up on the end of an almighty pummeling after just a few days of sparring, McIlroy’s round was a comedy of silly mistakes, carelessness and pure, competitive rust. Not even the player himself could work out why he hit the pin seeking, suicidal shot to the 12th that led to the double bogey that killed his Open Championship dream.

Forget that his 79 wasn’t even enough to beat a retired Nick Faldo, never mind the rest of the field.

It’s a sad reflection on McIlroy’s mental state that it was almost a positive that he didn’t get beaten by the man who has spent six months telling us why his former Faldo Series protege has made just about every bad decision in the book since he drew a line under one of the greatest seasons of recent years.

It’s not that he swung the club horrendously poorly but that he didn’t appear to make even one good decision.

What was really disturbing about McIlroy’s latest “meltdown” was his lack of answers and they way he was left standing on a dais for eight minutes afterwards, swinging in the breeze, without the merciful hand of a management figure to drag him away from the cold stare of the a press corp that appeared reluctant to intrude too much on some very public grief.

“It’s just so brain dead. Seriously, I feel like I’ve been walking around out there like that for the last couple of months. I’m trying to get out of it. I just don’t quite know why.”

It’s to McIlroy’s credit that he spoke at all but given that most of his ills appear to be self-inflicted, it was probably fair that he made an appearance.

McIlroy’s second round started at 2:45 p.m. (9:45 p.m. ET). Rory is grouped with Phil Mickelson and Hideki Matsuyama.

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, July 17

SURPRISE! Tiger Woods Favored to Win British Open

TIGER WOODS, THE MAN WITHOUT A MAJOR since the summer of 2008, is the man to beat at the 2013 British Open according to oddsmakers. Who do you like?

The following odds are courtesy of Bovada (as of Monday).

The Open Championship 2013 - Outright Winner

Tiger Woods last won the British Open in 2006. (Allison)
Tiger Woods 8/1
Justin Rose 16/1
Phil Mickelson 18/1
Adam Scott 20/1
Graeme McDowell 22/1
Lee Westwood 25/1
Rory McIlroy 25/1
Ernie Els 28/1
Luke Donald 28/1
Sergio Garcia 28/1
Jason Day 33/1
Charl Schwartzel 33/1
Henrik Stenson 33/1
Dustin Johnson 40/1
Brandt Snedeker 40/1
Matt Kuchar 40/1
Rickie Fowler 40/1
Ian Poulter 50/1
Martin Kaymer 50/1
Louis Oosthuizen 50/1
Nicolas Colsaerts 50/1
Padraig Harrington 66/1
Branden Grace 66/1
Hunter Mahan 66/1
Thomas Bjorn 66/1
Matteo Manassero 66/1
Webb Simpson 66/1
Jason Dufner 66/1
Bubba Watson 66/1
Francesco Molinari 80/1
Zach Johnson 80/1
Richard Sterne 80/1
Jim Furyk 80/1
Keegan Bradley 80/1
Thorbjorn Olesen 80/1
Paul Lawrie 80/1
Bill Haas 100/1
Martin Laird 100/1
Shane Lowry 100/1
Nick Watney 100/1
Angel Cabrera 100/1
Billy Horschel 100/1
Alexander Noren 100/1
Jamie Donaldson 100/1
Peter Hanson 100/1

2013 British Open TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2013 BRITISH OPEN, the 142nd edition of golf’s oldest major, begins on Thursday at Muirfield in Gullane, Scotland.

(Courtesy of Richard Carter, Flickr)
Purse: $8 million
Winner's share: $1,405,890
Defending champion:
Ernie Els

2013 British Open Leaderboard

The field
Tee times
Player profiles
Course guide
Open Championship news
The Claret Jug
Past champions
Muirfield website

TV SCHEDULE

Live TV and other coverage of the 2013 British Open.

UNITED STATES

Thursday, July 18:
4 a.m. - 3 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Friday, July 19:
4 a.m. - 3 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Saturday, July 20:
7 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Sunday, July 21:
6 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

UNITED KINGDOM

Thursday 18 and Friday 19 July
- Live on BBC Two HD & online, 09:00-20:00
- BBC Radio 5 live 09:00-19:00

Saturday 20 July
- Live on BBC One HD & online, 10:00-12:00 & 12:10-17:15 and BBC Two 17:15-19:40
- BBC Radio 5 live 11:00-19:30

Sunday 21 July
- Live on BBC One HD & online, 11:00-12:30 & 12:30-19:00
- BBC Radio 5 live 11:00-19:30

CANADA

Thursday, July 18
First Round - Part I 4am et/1am pt TSN
First Round - Holes 1, 18 4am et/1am pt TSN.ca
First Round - Holes 7, 8, 9 4am et/1am pt TSN.ca
First Round - Part II 7am et/4am pt TSN

Friday, July 19
Second Round - Part I 4am et/1am pt TSN
Second Round - Holes 1, 18 4am et/1am pt TSN.ca
Second Round - Holes 7, 8, 9 4am et/1am pt TSN.ca
Second Round - Part II 7am et/4am pt TSN

Saturday, July 20
Third Round - Part I 7am/4am TSN
Third Round - Holes 1, 18 7am et/4am pt TSN.ca
Third Round - Holes 7, 8, 9 7am et/4am pt TSN.ca
Third Round - Part II 9am/6am TSN

Sunday, July 21
Final Round - Part I 6am/3am TSN
Fourth Round - Holes 1, 18 6am et/3am pt TSN.ca
Fourth Round - Holes 7, 8, 9 6am et/3am pt TSN.ca
Final Round - Part II 8am/5am TSN

AUSTRALIA


(Australian TV times via Aussie Golfer.)

Live on FoxSports 3
Thursday: 6pm – 5am
Friday: 6pm – 5am
Saturday: 9:30pm – 4:30am (FoxSports 1)
Sunday: 8pm – 4am

Tuesday, July 16

Jordan Spieth, 19, Holes Out and Makes History



By Matthew Wurzburger

AT 19 YEARS OF AGE I AM studying history in college. Jordan Spieth, also 19 years old, insists on writing it himself. Spieth bested David Hearn and defending champion Zach Johnson in a grueling five-hole playoff to win the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Illinois.

Sunday’s victory was 82 years in the making as young Jordan became the first player since Ralph Guldahl to notch a PGA Tour win before the end of his second decade of life.

The victory and history came within inches of being swept away. On the final hole of regulation Spieth’s third shot came from a greenside bunker 44 feet away from the pin. The ball came out hot, took a fortuitous hop, and found the bottom of the hole for a birdie three.

“The shot on 18 was the luckiest shot I ever hit in my life,” Spieth said following the round.

Spieth’s hole out set the stage for an epic playoff. Each participant had a shot at victory, but neither Johnson nor Hearn could answer the call. Following an errant drive on the fifth playoff hole, Jordan was able to tap in a two footer to save par and seal the deal.

To win the John Deere Classic at this point of the season was momentous for the 19-year-old. Spieth, not a full time member of the PGA Tour, needed a victory to earn full membership and the opportunity to compete for the FedEx Cup. Spieth’s FedEx Cup aspirations are legitimate ones as the points retroactively awarded from past finishes this season place him in 11th place.

Winning the John Deere Classic also punches Spieth’s ticket to Muirfield, Scotland, for this week’s Open Championship, his first major championship as a professional.

Sunday could not have turned out more positively had it been scripted. A very young and very talented player makes history, earns his membership, and a chance to compete in the next major tournament. All indicators point to a long and successful career for Spieth, but currently he is basking in the glory of his recent accomplishments and fretting over the Scottish climate.

“Just got so lucky. That’s what it is. But right now I’m extremely pleased, and a little worried about only having short sleeves going to Scotland,” Spieth said.

Matthew Wurzburger is a University of Virginia student who covers sports for The Cavalier Daily.

Friday, July 12

Colin Montgomerie Visits New Cancer Center Named After His Mother



COLIN MONTGOMERIE LOST HIS MOTHER TO CANCER 22 years ago. Recently, a new cancer center named after Elizabeth Montgomerie opened in Aberdeen, Scotland. The famous Scottish golfer and Ryder Cup captain paid a special visit.

The Aberdeen Press & Journal:
He may be one of Scotland's greatest living sportsmen – but when Colin Montgomerie stepped through the doors of Aberdeen's new cancer center yesterday it was as a loving son, humbled by what had been achieved in his mother's name. 
The 2010 Ryder Cup captain, who lost his mother, Elizabeth, to the disease in 1991, has spearheaded the £3 million pound campaign to bring a Maggie's center to the north-east. He paid a special visit to the building at Foresterhill with his family yesterday and thanked some of the supporters whose hard work and generosity had made it possible.
"The relationship with my mother was a very close one," Montgomerie said in the above video. "She was, of course, my mum, but she was also a very good friend."

The new center will provide "practical and emotional" support for cancer patients and their families and friends. About 800 people are projected to use the center in the first year, increasing to 1,600 by 2017.

Thursday, July 11

2013 U.S. Senior Open TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2013 U.S. SENIOR OPEN is under way at Omaha Country Club in Omaha, Nebraska. Four players are currently tied for the lead at 3-under 67: Jay Don Blake, Michael Allen, Kenny Perry and Gary Hallberg. The first round is still in progress.

Purse: $2.6 million
Winner’s share: $500,000
Defending champion: Robert Chapman

2013 U.S. Senior Open Leaderboard

The field
Groupings and starting times
The course
Championship overview
Championship news
Power rankings

TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2013 U.S. Senior Open is on ESPN2 and NBC. All times ET.

July 11 (Thursday) 4-8 p.m. ESPN2 First Round
July 12 (Friday) 4-8 p.m. ESPN2 Second Round
July 13 (Saturday) 2:30-3 p.m. NBC Live From Senior Open (Pre-game)
July 13 (Saturday) 3-6 p.m. NBC Third Round
July 14 (Sunday) 2:30-3 p.m. NBC Live From Senior Open (Pre-game)
July 14 (Sunday) 3-6 p.m. NBC Fourth Round

Wednesday, July 10

Nick Faldo Returns to Muirfield—as Player

Nick Faldo
CBS AND GOLF CHANNEL ANALYST Nick Faldo talks a lot about golf. Next week the Hall of Famer with six major victories will play. Faldo, exempt as a three-time Open champion, will tee it up at Muirfield in the British Open. It will be his 35th appearance. Nick will turn 56 on the first day of the championship.

In a GolfChannel.com story by Doug Ferguson, Faldo recalled his fondness for Muirfield, the Scottish links overlooking the Firth of Forth.

"Memorability is important, isn't it?" Faldo told Ferguson.

"And then I suddenly I thought, 'Muirfield.' That green, the 18th hole, I won two Opens, which is pretty darn cool. That probably woke me up and I thought, 'This is really an important place to me.'"

Faldo's last Open was St. Andrews in 2010, when he shot an 81 in tough conditions and missed the cut. Of course, the British Open and tough conditions are synonymous. Faldo is no longer a player. He is a talker.

"It will be the last walk at Muirfield," he said.

"If I could just get in the right frame of mind, if I hit the golf ball solid, that's as good as it gets. If it goes sideways, if I can't put a score on the card, you're going to have to accept that."

I'll accept it. How will Sir Nick feel about it?

Tuesday, July 9

Why Gary Player Posed in ESPN Body Issue

GARY PLAYER: Age: 77 Height: 5'6" Weight: 148 lbs.
































GARY PLAYER: Very few people do what I'm doing at my age. I want to show the world how fit you can be at this age and not just accept being old. I still work on my ranch, I represent a lot of companies, I do golf course design, I'm traveling seven months a year. You've got to keep moving. If you sit and watch TV on your backside all day, you're going to die.

Read the entire Gary Player Q&A at ESPN Golf

Monday, July 8

'Hard Year' Turns Victorious for Jonas Blixt



WHEN I READ IN THE ROANOKE TIMES that no 54-hole leader had won The Greenbrier Classic, I thought uh-oh. That didn't sound good for Johnson Wagner, the local story since he played collegiate golf at nearby Virginia Tech. Sure enough, Wagner faded in the final round with a 3-over 73 and Swede Jonas Blixt rallied to claim his second PGA Tour victory.

Blixt was a model of consistency at The Old White, shooting 66-67-67-67 for a 13-under total of 267 and a two-shot win over a quartet of players that included Wagner. A final-round 67 got it done on a golf course on which someone usually goes low (or very low) to steal the prize. It meant a lot to Blixt, who came into the week ranked 139th in the world. He'll move up to about 50th when the new rankings come out.

"It's just been a hard year," Blixt said.

"I just haven't played that well and it just feels really weird, missing the cut last week and I felt like the ball was going everywhere, trying to find some stuff going into this week and kept working on it, never really felt that I got, you know, that slot in my swing where I can just rip at it. It was kind of constant work.

"I don't know what it was; someone must have looked down on me and said the ball's going to go in the right direction."

Not only did Blixt collect a check for $1.34 million, his second tour win will get him into this year's PGA Championship and next year's Players Championship and Masters. His first win was at the 2012 Frys.com Open.

Friday, July 5

FOUR Is Right Number for Grand Slam

Inbee Park (Allison)
A GRAND SLAM IN BASEBALL has always been a bases-clearing home run. That is, driving in FOUR runs. A "Grand Slam" in golf has always been winning FOUR major championships.

In the days of Bobby Jones, those cherished four were the two Amateurs (United States and British) and the two Opens (United States and British). Jones won all four in 1930, and sometime after that the term "Grand Slam" was born.

The Grand Slam resurfaced after Arnold Palmer won the Masters and U.S. Open in 1960. Palmer wondered aloud if winning the British Open and PGA Championship would be considered a modern "Grand Slam," and the press ran with it. That's where we are today. Everyone accepts it.

Which brings us to the women's game.

The LPGA decided to make the Evian Championship, an LPGA event since 2000, a major beginning this year. Now there are five women's majors: the Kraft Nabisco Championship, Wegmans LPGA Championship, U.S. Women's Open, Ricoh Women's British Open and the Evian Championship.

That's one too many, in my opinion, especially with Inbee Park chasing the slam. In a historic season, Park won her third consecutive major last weekend.

ESPN.com's Bob Harig recently addressed the dilemma:
The Old Course would seem the perfect place for the pursuit of such history. So much of it has occurred there already. And so rarely has even a glimmer of hope existed in terms of the Grand Slam. 
The LPGA's muddled history of major championships makes putting it into context all the more difficult. Over the years, the tournaments deemed majors have changed. And it gets worse this year as the Evian Championship in France has been added as a fifth major. 
That appears an unfortunate decision now, one borne out of economics. To retain a valued sponsor and a big purse, the LPGA decreed a tournament with a modicum of history would suddenly be ordained a major -- not replacing a tournament but adding it to the existing roster. A shame, really, because majors typically take time to evolve. 
So does Park get credit for a Grand Slam if she wins the Women's British Open but not the Evian? There will surely be debate about that, just as there has been conjecture over the evolution of the Grand Slam. (It is interesting to note that Park won the Evian last year, when it was not considered a major.)
I'm sorry, but I can't accept the idea of winning FIVE, not four, but FIVE majors to complete a Grand Slam. It's hard enough to win four. The four have history.

What if the men suddenly added the Tour Championship as a fifth major? It would be ludicrous, right?

Inbee, if you win the British, I'm calling it a Grand Slam. As a major and as a tournament needed to complete the Grand Slam, the Evian doesn't hold water.

Thursday, July 4

2013 Greenbrier Classic TV Schedule and Tournament Notes


ABOVE: Tommy Gainey talks about his 62 in the first round.

THE 2013 GREENBRIER CLASSIC IS UNDER WAY at The Old White TPC in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Tommy Gainey and Johnson Wagner are the clubhouse leaders at 8-under 62. The first round is still in progress.

Purse: $6.3 million
Winner’s share: $1.098 million
Defending champion: Ted Potter Jr.

2013 Greenbrier Classic Leaderboard

The field
Tee times
The course
Tournament overview
Tour report
The Greenbrier Classic website

TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2013 Greenbrier Classic is on Golf Channel and CBS.
All times ET.

Thu, Jul 4
3:00-6:00p GOLF

Fri, Jul 5
3:00-6:00p GOLF

Sat, Jul 6
1:00-2:30p GOLF
3:00-6:00p CBS

Sun, Jul 7
1:00-2:30p GOLF
3:00-6:00p CBS

SIRIUS-XM PGA Tour broadcast times

Wednesday, July 3

Andy North Named U.S. Ryder Cup Vice Captain

Andy North won the
1978 and 1985 U.S. Opens.
U.S. RYDER CUP CAPTAIN TOM WATSON has chosen two-time U.S. Open champion and former Ryder Cup player Andy North to serve as vice captain for the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team. The announcement was made at the Greenbrier Classic in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

"Andy knows what it takes to close the deal and that's what we need on the Ryder Cup Team," Watson said. "We need players who can close the deal. We've been discussing the players already back and forth and the types of young players who might make the team, the types of players that actually I hope make the team.

"I'm certainly happy to have Andy on my side and in my ear helping me make the decisions that will bring this Cup back home from Europe this time. It's been way too long."

An ESPN golf analyst since 1993, North, 63, lost all three of his matches in the 1985 Ryder Cup won by Europe at The Belfry.

"I was giddy, absolutely giddy over the opportunity to not only hopefully have a role to get the Cup back, but also to be able to help a dear friend," North said.

"I'm looking forward to it. There's a lot of excitement to the Ryder Cup, and it means an awful lot to me. I've been lucky enough to cover it for ESPN, and I get emotional covering it. It's going to be a great experience, and the bottom line is we get a W at the end of the week."

The United States and Europe will play the 40th Ryder Cup in Gleneagles, Scotland, on September 23-28, 2014.

Tuesday, July 2

PGA Tour Agrees to Anchoring Ban

Keegan Bradley will be impacted by the anchoring ban. (Secret in the Dirt / Flickr)
AFTER ALL THE RUCKUS OVER THE USGA and R&A anchoring ban, the PGA Tour has decided to go along with it. The PGA of America will fall in line, too. I think it's a good thing. I know many disagree.

Following are the key excerpts (roughly the first half) of Monday's official statement from the PGA Tour:
The PGA Tour Policy Board today acknowledged that the USGA’s ban on anchored strokes, known as Rule 14-1b, will apply to PGA Tour competitions beginning on January 1, 2016. In making this acknowledgement, the Policy Board also passed a resolution strongly recommending, along with the PGA of America, that the USGA consider extending the time period in which amateurs would be permitted to utilize anchored strokes beyond January 1, 2016.

PGA Tour competitions are conducted in accordance with the USGA Rules of Golf. However, the Policy Board reserves the right to make modifications for PGA Tour competitions if it deems it appropriate.

“In making its decision, the Policy Board recognized that there are still varying opinions among our membership, but ultimately concluded that while it is an important issue, a ban on anchored strokes would not fundamentally affect a strong presentation of our competitions or the overall success of the PGA Tour,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. “The Board also was of the opinion that having a single set of rules on acceptable strokes applicable to all professional competitions worldwide was desirable and would avoid confusion.”

The USGA and R&A jointly announced the proposed ban on anchored strokes in November 2012; then, following a “comment period,” the governing bodies announced on May 21, 2013 that the ban would go into effect on January 1, 2016.
Player Impact

Many PGA Tour players will now have to adopt a non-anchored putting technique in less than three years, including several recent major champions: Adam Scott, Ernie Els, Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley. And there's also Tim Clark, one of the most vocal critics of the anchoring ban.

How will these and other players adjust?

I think Ernie will be fine. He's already in his mid forties. Scott might be OK; he putted conventionally for a long time. But the long putter, anchored, has been a big part of his recent success. Simpson and Bradley are young and have built their tour careers on anchored putting. They might struggle with the change. Clark, I think, has more or less said it will ruin his livelihood. He'll have to figure it out or get a job at Golf Channel.

It will be interesting.

I expect players will develop new techniques for using the long putter. Think Bernhard Langer, the poster boy for putting survival.

Monday, July 1

Inbee Park Another Step Closer to Grand Slam



THREE MAJORS, THREE WINS FOR INBEE PARK, who is as surprised as anyone about her history-making 2013 season. Park cruised to a four-shot victory at the U.S. Women's Open at Sebonack Golf Club on Long Island. Placid on the golf course, Park admitted to a nervous Saturday night as she contemplated tying the legendary Babe Zaharias, the last player to win the season's first three majors. That was in 1950.

Park not only did it, she made it look easy. The elusive Grand Slam, winning all five women's majors in the same season, suddenly doesn't seem so far-fetched.

"I am just very honored to put my name by someone like Babe Zaharias," she said. "I don't know what I just did today; it's something very great. It's scary to think about what I am capable of doing.

"Believe it or not, I was very calm out there. It was weird; I didn't feel much pressure when I was on the golf course. I was nervous last night, but on the golf course, somehow, I felt very calm."

Park will go for four straight majors in a month at the Ricoh Women's British Open, which will be played at the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland. She said she doesn't want to think about that possibility just yet.

By the Numbers

LPGA.com posted the impressive numbers and statistics for Park's three major wins.

Park is a collective 28 under par:

Kraft Nabisco Championship: -15
Wegmans LPGA Championship: -5
U.S. Women’s Open: -8

Park has played nine of twelve rounds under par, including seven in the 60s. She has hit 75 percent of the fairways, 70 percent of the greens in regulation and averaged 28 putts per round.

Park won the both the Kraft Nabisco Championship and U.S. Women's Open by 4 strokes. She won the Wegmans LPGA Championship in a playoff.