Wednesday, May 22

USGA: 26 Additional Players Exempt for 119th U.S. Open Championship


LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. – The United States Golf Association (USGA) announced that 26 additional golfers, including 2003 U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk and U.S. Amateur champions Matthew Fitzpatrick and Byeong Hun An, have earned full exemptions into the 2019 U.S. Open Championship, to be played June 13-16 at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links. These exemptions bring the number of fully exempt players to 76.

All 26 exemptions were awarded to players who earned a place in the top 60 of the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) as of May 19. Furyk, who won the U.S. Open at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club and is a three-time runner-up (2006, 2007, 2016), is ranked No. 51. It will be Furyk’s 25th U.S. Open. Fitzpatrick, who is competing in his fifth U.S. Open, won the 2013 U.S. Amateur and is ranked No. 33. An, who claimed the 2009 U.S. Amateur, is ranked No. 57 and will play in his sixth U.S. Open.

The other players who earned full exemptions through the current Official World Golf Ranking are: Abraham Ancer, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Lucas Bjerregaard, Rafael Cabrera Bello, Branden Grace, Justin Harding, J.B. Holmes, Charles Howell III, Kevin Kisner, Haotong Li, Luke List, Shane Lowry, Keith Mitchell, Alex Noren, Thorbjorn Olesen, Louis Oosthuizen, Cheng Tsung Pan, Eddie Pepperell, Ian Poulter, Chez Reavie, Adam Scott, Brandt Snedeker and Matt Wallace. Reavie (2001) and Snedeker (2003) are past U.S. Amateur Public Links champions.

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Brooks Koepka Can See Double-Digit Major Wins in His Future

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AFTER RAINING ON BROOKS KOEPKA'S major victory parade yesterday, I was reminded of what he thinks.

Koepka made the following statements on May 14, or a few days before he won the PGA Championship, his fourth major win in the last eight played.

"I don't see why you can't get to double digits," Koepka said. "I think you keep doing what you're supposed to do, you play good, you peak at the right times. Like I said, I think sometimes the majors are the easiest ones to win. Half the people shoot themselves out of it, and mentally I know I can beat most of them, and then from there it's those guys left, who's going to play good and who can win."

Here's a more detailed breakdown of how Koepka views majors.

"One hundred and fifty-six in the field, so you figure at least 80 of them I'm just going to beat," Koepka said. "From there, about half of them won't play well from there, so you're down to about maybe 35. And then from 35, some of them just, pressure is going to get to them. It only leaves you with a few more, and you've just got to beat those guys."

"I think one of the big things that I've learned over the last few years is you don't need to win it, you don't have to try to go win it. Just hang around. If you hang around, good things are going to happen."

Hanging around is a good strategy. Always being in contention is the key to winning a LOT of majors.

I like Koepka's thinking, his confidence. If he makes it to double digits, he'll join an elite group: Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus.

His present task is to win his fifth. Will it come at Pebble Beach next month?

I'd say all eyes will be on Koepka at the U.S. Open, but then there's Tiger, who always seems to suck all the oxygen out of the golf world. That might actually help Koepka.

Tuesday, May 21

How Long Will Brooks Koepka's Major Victory March Last?

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TWO DAYS AFTER BROOKS KOEPKA closed out his fourth major victory at the PGA Championship in what seems like a nanosecond (23 months), I'm here to remind us that golf is a fickle game.

There's no way to know how long Koepka's major victory march will last. He might have a few more in his pocket, whether they come fast or over several years. Or it could be over, as improbable as that might seem.

Remember Rory McIlroy? Remember Jordan Spieth?

Both young men were on the cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. For Spieth, it was "JORDAN RULES" and "The Spieth Era Begins Now." Well, that era didn't last very long.

Sure, Rory and Jordan are far from done. But, no, they aren't the second coming of Tiger Woods, that special player who would dominate the game for a decade or more. Nor is Brooks Koepka, in my estimation. There's only one Tiger. There was only one Jack.

I like Koepka. I like his toughness. I like that big chip on his muscular shoulder. If he can win a third consecutive U.S. Open at Pebble Beach next month, he, too, will be on the cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and probably on the cover of other major publications. It will be a monumental achievement.

But it's still a long majors road to 8 (Tom Watson), 9 (Ben Hogan and Gary Player), 11 (Walter Hagen), 15 (Tiger Woods) and 18 (Jack Nicklaus).

A lot can happen. Like those four consecutive bogeys late on Sunday. Because golf is a fickle game. That's why we love it and hate it ... and keep coming back for more.

Friday, May 17

Remembering Great Caddies, Including Old Tom Morris, During the PGA Championship

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By Mark Vigil

ALL CADDIES WATCHING THE PGA CHAMPIONSIP this weekend are encouraged to skip watching Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson or one of the young guns. Rather, carefully study the actions and protocols of caddies like Joe LaCava and Mike "Fluff" Cowan, and recall the work of Jim "Bones" Mackay and Bruce Watson.

I offer this encouragement because today many loopers think they have deserved to be well paid because they toted a bag, scoped the yardage to the flag sticks and read a few putts.

This expectation would have Old Tom Morris rolling in his grave.

For those of you who have not heard of Old Tom Morris, he is the godfather of the modern golf game. He learned his craft at the heel of Alan Robertson, the Custodian of the Links at St. Andrews until he died in 1859.

Old Tom is a voice of authority on caddying. He grew from a 10-year-old toting hickory shaft clubs across the links above the St. Andrews Bay to become the trusted advisor and golfing consigliere for the captains and members of the R&A for over 35 years.

The keys to Old Tom's success were his ears. He was a good listener. By listening, in the moment, he would know what he needed to do to prepare his player for the next shot, be it a phrase, a confident smile, or steely silence.

Old Tom had a heart the size of Secretariat's, and it made him a sensitive soul. He felt the joys of the made putt for par on the Road Hole, and the pain and disappointment of the poor shot, causing a big score or a loss of a hole. And regardless of the emotions felt, he transitioned his player to focus on the next shot. He was an ally.

Old Tom earned the player's trust, enabling him to dispense honest assessments, like one's mother, speaking the hard, true words one needs to hear, like "You know better?"

Lastly, Old Tom was a first-class negotiator, and I bet he would be able to out-negotiate any modern day Goldman Sachs banker. This skill wisely deployed allowed him to lead his player to see the correct shot, to attack the right target line, and to select the proper club over his players objections.

So, all you caddies, if you want to become a true caddie and become like Old Tom Morris, a trusted advisor and golfing consigliere, watch today's professional caddies deploy their tools of the trade, which I call L.E.A.N—listen, empathize, ally, negotiate.

Mark Vigil is founder of Laurus Capital Advisors LLC, an advisory firm. He is also a passionate links golf enthusiast who has traveled extensively throughout Scotland seeking out links courses. He is currently writing a book entitled, Searching for the Spirit of Old Tom Morris.

Thursday, May 16

VIDEO: A.W. Tillinghast, Master Architect of Bethpage Black, Baltusrol and Many More

AS THE PGA CHAMPIONSHIP BEGINS, here is a look at A.W. Tillinghast, the man who created this year's championship course, Bethpage Black on Long Island.

Tillinghast was flamboyant in nearly every way, earning a million dollars designing golf courses across the United States in the Roaring Twenties. He outspent his vast earnings and was more or less broke when the Great Depression rocked the United States and the world.

The PGA of America gave Tillinghast a job that helped save himself and rejuvenate golf. The golf organization sent him around the country to help PGA pros improve their golf courses during a time when money was scarce. Driving a jalopy on primitive highways, Tillinghast visited more than 250 golf courses.

Jack Whitaker, the longtime CBS sports announcer, is the voice of Tillinghast in the video.

(H/T Geoff Shackelford)

Tuesday, May 14

2019 PGA Championship TV Times and Tournament Information

THE PGA IN MAY? I'm still not used to the idea. Nor will I be next year. I've been watching the PGA Championship in August since rocks were young.

I asked what others thought on Twitter.

"Good move," said one.

"Don't like," said another. "It means that the PGA Champ will never come to the courses in the midwest. Whistling Straits, Medinah, Oakland Hills, Hazeltine. It was 35 degrees last night here in Madison, WI, frost on the ground this morning."

The 2019 PGA Championship begins on Thursday at Bethpage Black, site of the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens.

The field has 156 players and is touted as the best field in major championship golf. The defending champion is Brooks Koepka. The winner will hoist the Wanamaker Trophy.


The PGA Championship will air on TNT and CBS. All times ET.

Thursday, May 16
TNT: 1:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Friday, May 17
TNT 1:00 – 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 18
TNT: 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
CBS: 2:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, May 19
TNT: 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
CBS: 2:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Live streaming

Friday, May 10

Heavenly Conversations: Bobby Jones Comforts Byron Nelson

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This week's PGA Tour event got me thinking about golf great Byron Nelson. So I searched this blog for all the Nelson articles. What follows is from April 2007.

"I'M DISAPPOINTED IN MY TOURNAMENT, Bobby. It wasn't the same this year."

"I know how you feel, Byron. It's hard when all that’s left of you down there is your name."

"All of the finest players showed up for my tournament last year. They came up to me and shook my hand."

"Last year you were alive, Byron."

"I guess it turned out well enough. I'm glad Scott Verplank won. I've known him since he was a junior. He's a great kid."

"That was special."

"Bobby, do all the changes to Augusta National and your tournament ever bother you?"

"Sure, but you get used to it. They mean well for the most part."

"You're still a gentleman, Bobby."

"So are you, Byron."

"By the way, Bobby, what's that sound?"

"That's Hogan hitting balls."

"Ben practices up here?"

"Some things never change, Byron."

Wednesday, May 8

Tiger Woods on Presidential Medal of Freedom: 'This Has Been an Unbelievable Experience'

TIGER WOODS WAS AWARDED the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Monday at the White House. reported:
"This has been an unbelievable experience," said Woods, who then fought back tears as he thanked his family and all those who have supported him throughout the years.
"I’ve battled. I've tried to hang in there," Woods continued. "I've tried to come back and play the great game of golf again. I've been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to do it again …
"The amazing Masters experience I had a few weeks ago was certainly the highlight of what I've accomplished so far in my life on the golf course." 
Woods is the fourth golfer to be awarded the Medal of Freedom, joining Arnold Palmer (2004), Jack Nicklaus (2005) and Charlie Sifford (2014), the latter of whom Woods called “the grandfather that I never had” and named his son after. 
"To have been chosen as the next golfer after Charlie is truly remarkable," Woods said.