Thursday, July 31

U.S. Senior Open: Wiebe Credits Son for Comeback

Mark Wiebe

A FEW YEARS AGO, Champions Tour player Mark Wiebe couldn’t break 80. Wiebe had physical problems that included a left elbow that required surgery.

“It was hard on him but I think it was even harder on me,” Gunner Wiebe, Wiebe’s 19-year-old son, told Phillip Howley in a story at USSeniorOpen.com. The son, who occasionally caddies, is credited with helping his father regain his form.

Mark Wiebe began his comeback on the Nationwide Tour, an old guy among the young guns.

“What the heck are you doing out here?” they would say to Wiebe. Later it was, “Hey, nice playing,” as the two-time PGA Tour winner steered his game back into the 60s.

After becoming eligible for the Champions Tour, Wiebe won last year’s SAS Championship. It was the first time Gunner saw his dad win a tournament, pretty special stuff. Wiebe also won earlier this season at the Cap Cana Championship in the Dominican Republic.

Wiebe is a favorite in the U.S. Senior Open, which is underway at the Broadmoor Golf Club in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Eduardo Romero and John Cook hold the early lead.

−The Armchair Golfer

2008 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational TV Schedule


Retief Goosen tees off in The Open Championship.
(Steven Newton/Flickr)


EIGHTEEN HOURS OF TV COVERAGE are scheduled for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational underway at the Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. Retief Goosen has the early lead after firing a 66.

Tune in to the Golf Channel on Thursday and Friday, and CBS on the weekend. All times are U.S. Eastern Time (ET).

Thursday, July 31

2-6 p.m., Golf Channel

Friday, August 1
2-6 p.m., Golf Channel

Saturday, August 2

1-6 p.m., CBS

Sunday, August 3

1-6 p.m., CBS

I read at PGATour.com that the tournament will be broadcast in more than 200 countries, so, wherever you are in the world, be sure to check your local listings.

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, July 30

Lorena Ochoa Pre-Announces Retirement

Lorena at work. (DB/Flickr)

IN AN AP STORY, LORENA OCHOA SAID she plans to retire in five or six years while in her early 30s. She hopes to still be ranked No. 1 when she leaves the game, which would be a monumental achievement considering all the rising talent on the LPGA Tour.

“I'm aware life is too short,” Lorena was quoted as saying. “There are many things I would love to do outside of golf.”

One huge priority is her foundation work in Mexico to help needy children. She may also pursue golf course design and wants to start a family.

I’ve read that Ochoa is the favorite in this week’s Women’s British Open, a title she is defending. I’m not so sure. Her game seems to be coming around after a dry spell, but there are plenty of others who could make a strong run for the title.

Annika Sorenstam, 37, will retire at the end of the current LPGA Tour season. Unless Sorenstam unretires, this week’s Women’s British Open will be her final major championship.

−The Armchair Golfer


Related:

2008 Women’s British Open TV Schedule

2008 Women’s British Open TV Schedule


Lorena Ochoa defends at the Women's British Open.
(Lloyd/Flickr)


SEVEN AND A HALF HOURS OF TV COVERAGE are scheduled for the RICOH Women’s British Open this week at Sunningdale Golf Club in Berkshire, England. (Seven hours and 28 minutes to be exact. TNT signs off at 11:59 a.m. Must be their lunch time.)

That’s not much coverage for a major, but this is the ongoing situation with the lady professionals. It’s tough being the minor attraction in a minor sport.

Tune in to TNT on Thursday and Friday, and ABC on the weekend. All times are U.S./Canadian Eastern Time (ET).

Thursday, July 31
10 a.m. to 11:59 a.m. ET on TNT

Friday, August 1

10 a.m. to 11:59 a.m. ET on TNT

Saturday, August 2

1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET on ABC

Sunday, August 3

1 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET on ABC

I hope you're able to squeeze in some viewing time. It may be the last time you see all-time great Annika Sorenstam compete in a major championship.

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, July 29

The Phil Mickelson Fitness Slideshow

The "before" Phil (Jones/Flickr)

BEN POPPER AT MEN’S VOGUE wrote to tell me about their stories on the new, svelte Phil Mickelson. OK, I’m not sure about svelte, but he does look a lot more fit.

“We ran this piece on how Phil Mickelson shed 20 pounds in three months to regain his stride,” said Ben in an email.

Here’s a slideshow that outlines Phil’s eating plan and workout regimen:

Phil’s fitness program

Now I know why Lefty was seen carrying his clubs around Torrey Pines before the U.S. Open. Nonetheless, I’m sure caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay still has job security on the weekends.

Somewhere along the way, I think Phil, by his own admission, lost his putting stroke in addition to that roll around the middle. Hopefully, he can find it in time for next week’s PGA Championship at Oakland Hills.

−The Armchair Golfer

Sunday, July 27

Chez Reavie Wins First PGA Tour Title

(Rockers/Flickr)

I HAVE NO IDEA how many times Chez Reavie has traveled north of the border, but I have a feeling this was his most memorable trip to Canada by far.

The 26-year-old Reavie won the RBC Canadian Open today at Glen Abbey Golf Club, holding off a sputtering Anthony Kim and others to win by a few shots.

Reavie, who had won a total of about $400,000 on tour, earned a $900,000 check. That’s $917,640 Canadian. (I read that Chez loves math, so I did the conversion in his honor.)

Reavie also won the shiniest golf trophy I think I’ve ever seen. I saw a couple of Royal Canadian Mounties holding the large silver cup before the CBS telecast signed off. I’m not sure, but I think they were wearing gloves.

I had my doubts about Reavie. It’s not like he’s held a lead that deep into a PGA Tour event. The kid was solid, though. He hit all the shots coming down the stretch, and had he made a few putts he would have run away with the thing.

I’m sure Anthony Kim was disappointed after a final-round 75. There was no magic this time. Kim looked like he was trying too hard.

−The Armchair Golfer


Related:

Who Is Chez Reavie?

Saturday, July 26

Who Is Chez Reavie?

Chez Reavie

CHEZ REAVIE IS LEADING the RBC Canadian Open. Chez Reavie. OK, I think we need to do a little homework on Chez.

The 26-year-old Reavie was born in Wichita, Kansas, and attended Arizona State, where he was a three-time All-American. The first time Chez played a full round of golf he shot 106. He was 10. Reavie likes math. Hates writing.

But you want to know about the name, don't you? I did.

“William Chesney Reavie is my full name, and I’ve always been called Chez for short,” he told PGATour.com.

Last year Reavie played on the Nationwide Tour. After several good finishes, including a win at the Knoxville Open, he grabbed a spot on the PGA Tour. This year Chez has made 14 cuts in 21 events, including one top ten, a fifth-place tie at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. He’s ranked No. 362 in the world.

If Reavie wins tomorrow, we’ll learn a lot more about him in a hurry. But Anthony Kim is closing fast. (Actually, now he's tied.) Watch out for AK, Chez.

−The Armchair Golfer


Related:

2008 RBC Canadian Open TV Schedule

Friday, July 25

Angela Park Leads Evian Masters

Lorena Ochoa

ANGELA PARK SHOT A 68 on Friday to take a one-shot lead over Helen Alfredsson heading into the weekend at the Evian Masters in France. Alfredsson fired a nine-under 63 in the second round.

Cristie Kerr is in a five-way tie for third after a 66. The group includes veteran Juli Inkster.

Just four shots off the lead is Lorena Ochoa, who followed her opening 65 with a one-over 73. Paula Creamer and Annika Sorenstam are also within striking distance, but they’ll need solid rounds on Saturday to move into contention.

While I’ve enjoyed the new faces and winners on the LPGA Tour, I’m disappointed that the Lorena-Annika duel hasn’t had any traction so far this summer. Too bad, especially if Annika really is calling it quits for good.

Maybe Ochoa can come out of her funk in time to put on a strong title defense next week at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.

−The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, July 24

How Do Canadians Watch the Canadian Open?

Mike Weir

I POSTED THE TV SCHEDULE for the RBC Canadian Open yesterday, including Canada’s TSN (The Sports Network) coverage on Thursday and Friday. I didn’t find weekend coverage, though.

“Why isn't CBC or CTV providing coverage of our national championship this year?” asked “Picasso,” a commenter at this blog.

“It looks like the Golf Channel and CBS are providing three-hour coverage daily. How pathetic is that? Neither of the major Canadian networks sees fit to cover this event.”

I looked again, at the sites of CBC, CTV and TSN, but could find no weekend coverage of the RBC Canadian Open on a Canadian broadcast network.

So, to my Canadian golf friends, how do you watch the final rounds (without going to Glen Abbey)? I’m stumped.

−The Armchair Golfer


P.S. Currently, Canadian Mike Weir shares the first-round lead with Anthony Kim and Eric Axley.

Related:

2008 RBC Canadian Open TV Schedule

Wednesday, July 23

2008 RBC Canadian Open TV Schedule

TWELVE HOURS OF TV COVERAGE are scheduled for the RBC Canadian Open this week at Glen Abbey Golf Club in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. Tune in to the Golf Channel on Thursday and Friday, and CBS on the weekend. All times are U.S./Canada Eastern Time (ET).

UPDATE:
In Canada, coverage begins at 3 p.m. on Thursday and Friday on TSN.

July 24 (Thu): 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET on Golf Channel
July 25 (Fri): 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET on Golf Channel
July 26 (Sat): 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET on CBS
July 27 (Sun): 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET on CBS

Satellite Radio


XM Satellite Radio will air 34 hours of coverage of the RBC Canadian Open in the United States, as follows:

July 24 (Thu): 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET
July 25 (Fri): 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET
July 26 (Sat): 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET
July 27 (Sun): 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET

Tournament Notes


Jim Furyk defends in a field of 156. Stephen Ames and Mike Weir are the great golf hopes of Canada. The purse is $5 million, with $900,000 to the winner.

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, July 22

I Like Judy Rankin

A HALL OF FAME GOLFER, Judy Rankin began her broadcast career in 1984, a rare female walking the fairways with and reporting on PGA Tour professionals.

“I was quite sure I was going to be a miserable failure,” Rankin told Golf Digest.

That was 24 years ago, and Judy is still walking those fairways, a bright spot in any golf telecast. She is knowledgeable and understated, old school you might say.

Rankin’s good instincts as a player carry over to her commentary. Judy won’t ever over-commentate or call attention to herself in any way. She makes a few incisive comments and is then silent. TV is a visual medium, after all. They’re TV shows, not TV tells.

Rankin, a 26-time winner on the LPGA Tour, also knows how to talk to players. At the completion of the British Open, she handled the Greg Norman interview with her usual grace.

Rankin was raised by her father and is at ease in a male-dominated environment.

“I like being one of the guys,” Judy has said. “I like to be treated well, but not special.”

−The Armchair Golfer


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Sunday, July 20

Harrington Wins British, Norman Continues Honeymoon

Padraig Harrington

YEARS FROM NOW, someone might ask Greg Norman what he did on his second honeymoon.

“Let’s see, we traveled, did some sightseeing, shopped a little, I almost won the British Open, stuff like that.”

So Norman didn’t win The Open Championship today at Royal Birkdale. I’m not surprised. The Shark winning would have been like a Disney movie ending. And major championship golf is rarely like a Disney movie. It’s more like a horror flick.

Greg hiccupped through the first three holes: bogey, bogey, bogey. No amount of baling wire or duct tape could hold his game together during the final round, especially with Padraig Harrington hitting one solid shot after another.

Beware of a tour pro who knows how to close out a major. Harrington has that look, at least at the British Open.

Englishman Ian Poulter, who posted a splendid 69 on his way to his best finish in a major, thought he had a chance. Then Harrington found a new gear, finishing birdie, par, birdie, par, eagle, par on his way to a back-nine 32 and a four-shot win.

Take that. I think I’ll hang on to the Claret Jug, thank you very much.

(Does the engraver get paid the same if the defending champion repeats? It’s not like he has to spell and engrave a new name.)

As for the rest, many of the favorites did not have a good Open Championship: Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia (44 strokes over the final nine holes) and Justin Rose, to name a few.

K.J. Choi, the 36-hole leader, had a disappointing weekend, shooting 75-79. After opening with an 80, Ernie Els tied for seventh, not bad. Part of that seventh-place logjam, Anthony Kim had a successful British debut. Finishing fifth, Jim Furyk was the top American.

Phil Mickelson tied for 19th with Masters champion Trevor Immelman, Scottish Open champion Graeme McDowell, Rocco Mediate, Davis Love, Simon Wakefield, Jean Van de Velde and a few others.

Finally, after blowing to an 83 in the third round, David Duval closed with a 71, a pretty gutsy performance. He certainly didn’t mail it in after shooting himself out of contention.

Maybe we haven’t heard the last of David Duval.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, July 19

Greg Norman Displays Greatness at British Open

I HAD FORGOTTEN. Or, perhaps more accurate, I might not have truly appreciated Greg Norman. This British Open at Royal Birkdale has re-opened my eyes to the enormous talent of the Great White Shark.

To be the 54-hole leader at The Open Championship at age 53 is nothing short of phenomenal. His third-round 72 in high winds was masterful. Norman’s performance in the Open, after virtually no practice and tournament play, is one of the most impressive things I’ve witnessed in professional golf in a long time.

I admit it. I was never a big Greg Norman fan. I knew he was the best player of an era, or part of an era, but I always thought of him as an underachiever who choked in the majors. To be fair, Greg was just plain unlucky in a couple: the PGA Championship he lost to Bob Tway and the Larry Mize chip-in that broke his heart at the Masters.

I hope Norman wins this one. I’m sure a lot of people are pulling for him now, just as they were rooting for Rocco Mediate last month at the U.S. Open. Tomorrow could bring the sweetest victory of the Shark’s career.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, July 18

David Duval in Contention at British Open

(Honeyfield/Flickr)

I WAS STILL TRYING TO GET USED to Greg Norman being in contention at the British Open, someone who now plays more tennis than golf, when another ghost from golf’s not-too-distant past appeared on the British Open leaderboard.

David Duval? Is that you? Are you kidding me?

This is like a British Open funhouse where you stare into the TV screen and everything is distorted.

Former world No. 1 Greg Norman, a 53-year-old newlywed who considered this a tune-up for the Senior British Open, is one shot off the 36-hole lead held by K.J. Choi. Then there’s Duval, who had made one cut in 12 events coming into The Open Championship. If Duval’s opening 73 on a foul weather day wasn’t surprising enough, he backs it up with a nifty little 69.

Can anybody tell me what’s going on here? Am I in some sort of alternate golf reality? Are my TV and Internet playing tricks on me?

I was getting ready to leave this afternoon when I spotted Duval on the closing holes of his second round. I stuck around. I had to see this.

Wearing wraparound shades on a gray, misty day, it was the same David Duval, an expressionless and robotic golfer. Only he’s bulked up in new places. There he was saving pars out of pot bunkers and thigh-high rough. I blinked. He was still there.

First-round leader Rocco Mediate is still hanging around at plus two. Phil Mickelson rebounded with a 68 after an opening 79. Lefty will be around for the weekend, but I don’t see him getting back into this thing. But who knows in this bizarre British Open?

Unlike Sandy Lyle, who walked off the course during round one when he was 11 over par, John Daly completed his disastrous second round, an 89.

If anybody thought golf couldn’t be interesting without Tiger Woods, they might want to tune in this weekend.

−The Armchair Golfer


Related:
2008 British Open TV Schedule

Thursday, July 17

Rocco Mediate Leads Brutish Open

Defending champion
Padraig Harrington
(Doyle/Flickr)


RAINY, WINDY, CHILLY. Welcome to Royal Birkdale and the 137th Open Championship. The Brutish, er, British Open.

Old Man Par and Royal Birkdale won today as 156 players donned long sleeves and rain gear to brave the elements along the Irish Sea. July 17. Yeah, right.

But a few of the world’s best golfers got into red numbers, including one with a creaky back and long putter. Rocco Mediate is back for an encore after co-starring in last month’s U.S. Open, an epic battle with Tiger Woods.

Mediate posted 69, and leads along with Graeme McDowell and Robert Allenby. You have to wonder how Rocco’s achin’ back will hold up in 50-degree weather. But he likes tough conditions –- when par is a good score −- and hits a straight ball. Wouldn’t it be something if the 45-year-old hung around to the end?

Some of the marquee names, especially the ones who played early during the foulest weather, got worked over pretty good by Royal Birkdale. Ernie Els and Vijah Singh shot 80. Phil Mickelson had 79.

Nursing an injured wrist, defending champion Padraig Harrington came in with a 74, as did Justin Rose. Sergio Garcia and Anthony Kim shot 72. The 53-year-old Greg Norman had an even-par 70. So did Adam Scott.

Did you know Norman is married to Chris Evert? Sheesh, it seemed like they mentioned Evert each time Norman played a shot. I exaggerate, but not much.

The wind is expected to blow hard the next three days, so look for more of the same. The way Day 1 went, even par is looking good, real good.

−The Armchair Golfer


Related:

2008 British Open TV Schedule

2008 British Open: The Claret Jug

ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-SIX GOLFERS will be playing for it over the next four days. It’s been accidently struck by the golf swing of five-time champion British Open Tom Watson. It’s held various libations consumed by winners over the decades. And it once sat on Ben Curtis’ television for a week so the unlikely Open Championship winner could see it every time he sat down to watch the tube.

I’m referring, of course, to the silver Claret Jug, the most prized and recognizable trophy in all of golf. And, by far, the oldest. The Claret Jug has been awarded to the British Open winner since 1873 when it replaced the Championship Belt.

(The Open Championship has been contested since 1860, in case you were wondering.)

A golfer named Tom Kidd was the first Open winner to receive the new trophy; however, Tom Morris Jr., the 1872 winner, was the first to have his name engraved on the Claret Jug.

Following the 1927 Open won by Bobby Jones at St. Andrews, The Royal and Ancient Golf Club decided to keep the Claret Jug and present future winners with a replica. (The original Claret Jug is on display at The Royal and Ancient Golf Clubhouse.)

Walter Hagen was the first to receive a replica Claret Jug in 1928, one of his four Open titles. Harry Vardon holds the record with six British Open wins. Vardon was a phenom.

If you watch the final round on Sunday, you’ll probably see the engraver as he prepares to etch the winner’s name on the Claret Jug.

I wonder if he ever gets the yips. If so, does he have to go to a longer engraving tool?

-The Armchair Golfer

Related:

2008 British Open TV Schedule
Fox Sports Columnist Picks Westwood in British Open
Johnny Miller's British Invasion
Stunner: R&A Moves British Open to Milwaukee

Wednesday, July 16

Fox Sports Columnist Picks Westwood in British Open

Lee Westwood

I THOUGHT I’D GET SOME HELP figuring out the British Open, so I turned to the scribes, a few national golf writers and sports columnists. I dashed off an email to three and heard from one, Ian O’Connor, a FoxSports.com columnist and the New York Times bestselling author of Arnie & Jack.

(Ian was a recent guest at ARMCHAIR GOLF BLOG. You can read the Q&A here.)

“I’m soliciting your thoughts on the British Open,” I wrote Ian.

He wrote back a couple of days ago. Here’s what he told me.

“Obviously the British Open isn't going to be quite the same without Tiger Woods in the field, but I don't buy the argument that the winner needs an asterisk next to his name.

“Tiger's won the Open three times in 13 starts, a remarkable feat. But he didn't go 13 for 13. He was hardly a gimme winner at Royal Birkdale before the injuries and the surgery knocked him out of the event.”

Fancying Lee Westwood


“On the other hand, with Tiger out, it's a great opportunity for the major-free likes of Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott and Lee Westwood to finally break through the way Padraig Harrington did last year,” Ian continued.

“I'm going with Westwood. He played great at Torrey Pines in nearly winning the U.S. Open, and the guy's just got too much talent to go without winning a major for the balance of his career.”

Mickelson: Great Mystery of the Universe


“As for Phil Mickelson, he just never plays well in the Open, with only one top 10 finish in 15 starts,” Ian mentioned.

“It's one of the great mysteries of the universe. Phil's got a great imagination for the game, and the Open requires imagination as much as anything else. I don't see him being a factor, if only because he's had a hard time being a factor in any Grand Slam event since his meltdown on the 72d hole at Winged Foot.”

OK, my turn. The usual names come to mind at the majors: Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, defending champion Padraig Harrington (although he has a wrist injury), Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott and more.

Frankly, after just checking it, Westwood’s record at The Open Championship isn’t very good. There’s also added pressure to win for British golfers.

I can see Els winning another British, especially with Tiger out of the picture. And I keep expecting Garcia to break through. Among the majors, I think the British Open is Sergio’s best opportunity. Maybe he redeems himself at Royal Birkdale.

Then there’s the chance of a surprise winner, a Todd Hamilton, Ben Curtis, or Paul Lawrie.

Dark horse choices? Perhaps Anthony Kim in his first British Open or the revitalized Justin Leonard, the 1997 winner.

The 137th Open Championship tees off tomorrow.

−The Armchair Golfer


Related:

2008 British Open TV Schedule
Johnny Miller's British Invasion
Stunner: R&A Moves British Open to Milwaukee

Tuesday, July 15

2008 British Open TV Schedule

FORTY-PLUS HOURS OF TV COVERAGE are on tap for the British Open this week at Royal Birkdale in Southport, England. It’s TNT on Thursday and Friday, and a combination of TNT and ABC on the weekend. All times are U.S. Eastern Time (ET).

Thursday, July 17

7 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET on TNT

Friday, July 18

7 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET on TNT

Saturday, July 19

7 a.m. to 9 a.m. ET on TNT
9 a.m. to End of play ET on ABC

Sunday, July 20
6 a.m. to 8 a.m. ET on TNT
8 a.m. to End of play ET on ABC

Broadcast Team

Here’s what I dug up on the announce team. Mike Tirico will anchor. U.S. Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger and five-time British Open champion Tom Watson will serve as analysts. The hole announcers will be Peter Alliss and Terry Gannon. Andy North, Judy Rankin and Bill Kratzert will be the on-course reporters. There will be essays and interviews by Tom Rinaldi and ESPN’s Rick Reilly will provide commentary.

Satellite Radio


XM Satellite Radio is airing the British Open in the United States. XM’s live broadcast will begin at 3 a.m. ET, followed by highlights from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET, on July 17 and 18. The live broadcast will begin at 4 a.m. ET, with highlights from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET, on July 19 and 20.

−The Armchair Golfer


Related:

Johnny Miller's British Invasion
Stunner: R&A Moves British Open to Milwaukee

Sunday, July 13

Stunner: R&A Moves British Open to Milwaukee

IN AN UNPRECEDENTED ACTION by The Royal and Ancient Golf Club, the British Open will be contested this week in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, an R&A official told ARMCHAIR GOLF why the world’s oldest golf championship will be played for the first time on American soil.

Q: Can you explain this last-minute decision to move The Open Championship to Milwaukee?

R&A OFFICIAL:
It is really quite simple. Kenny Perry is the hottest player in golf at the present time, and everyone agrees that Mr. Perry should be playing in The Open Championship. However, as Mr. Perry has explained often in recent weeks, he is firmly committed to playing in Milwaukee this week. So, you see, there was only one solution.

Q: But it’s the British Open.


R&A OFFICIAL: Yes, you are quite right. I won’t deny that it was a terribly difficult decision, but it was one we thought was in the best interest of golf. With Tiger Woods out of action, it is imperative that The Open Championship have the best-possible field. At this point in the current golf season, that would include Kenny Perry.

Q: So the Open will be contested in Milwaukee.


R&A OFFICIAL:
Milwaukee, yes.

Q: At Brown Deer Park?


R&A OFFICIAL: At Brown Deer Park, site of the U.S. Bank Championship in which Kenny Perry is entered.

Q: What does Kenny Perry think?


R&A OFFICIAL:
Knowing how principled Mr. Perry is and how strongly he feels about playing in the U.S. Bank Championship, we have decided not to inform him until after the conclusion of the Open. We are asking for cooperation from all golf fans, players, sponsors and the media to keep it under wraps.

Q: Speaking of players, this can’t be a very popular decision with UK and European players? What are you telling them?


R&A OFFICIAL:
That they will gain six hours.

Q: Is that it?


R&A OFFICIAL:
And that Milwaukee is famous for beer.

Q: What about all the golf fans who planned to attend the Open at Royal Birkdale?


R&A OFFICIAL:
We hope they will understand. If all goes as expected, The Open Championship will return to Great Britain next summer.

Q: And if Kenny Perry wins?


R&A OFFICIAL: We will present Mr. Perry the Claret Jug and hope for the best.

Q: Oh, I almost forgot. Where is this week’s U.S. Bank Championship being played?

R&A OFFICIAL:
Fargo.

Q: Thank you for your time.


R&A OFFICIAL:
My pleasure.

(This is an ARMCHAIR GOLF spoof.)

Saturday, July 12

Sorry I Missed You, Mike Souchak

LAST MONDAY NEAR THE END of an hour-long phone conversation, a retired West Coast sportswriter who shares my interest in the old-time PGA Tour players said what I often think: They won’t be around forever.

Three days later 15-time tour winner Mike Souchak died in Florida, an ex-Duke football player who hit the golf ball long distances and threatened to win several majors, including the 1960 U.S. Open. Souchak held the tournament scoring record (257) for decades until Mark Calcavecchia broke it in recent years.

Along with players such as Gene Littler, Dow Finsterwald and Bob Rosburg, Souchak was considered one of the new guard of tour pros in the mid 1950s. It was a Wake Forest grad named Arnold Palmer who emerged as the superstar of the group.

Mike Souchak was on my call list, someone I hoped to talk to soon. The last year and a half I’ve had the good fortune to talk to many of the legends, some at Champions Tour events and some on the telephone.

Most recently, I talked to Tommy Bolt, a very good golfer with a legendary temper. It was a thrill to talk to a player who routinely sat in the locker room and cussed at and cut up with Ben Hogan. Bolt was a colorful character who didn’t walk on egg shells around the great Hogan. I think Hogan appreciated that.

Others, like Souchak, have passed away or are now in poor health. Masters champion Gay Brewer, who I met in Savannah, died last year. U.S. Open champion Orville Moody, who I rode shotgun with at the Senior Players Championship in Baltimore last summer, is now in a nursing home. Orville had a massive stroke and can no longer play golf.

So I’m sorry I missed you, Mike Souchak. I’m sure you had great stories and anecdotes to share about your life in pro golf. I just didn’t pick up the phone in time to hear them.

−The Armchair Golfer


Related:

Gay Brewer Loved Augusta National
18 Holes with Orville Moody
Legends of Golf: Still Great

Friday, July 11

The 60 Club: Paula Creamer and Mike Souchak

Souchak on SI cover.

PAULA CREAMER WAS BLAZING HOT yesterday at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic. The Pink Panther fired a course-record 60, including a seven-under 27 on her second nine. Paula birdied nine of her last 11 holes.

At the 1955 Texas Open, PGA Tour player Mike Souchak shot a record-tying 60 the same way as Creamer, going out in 33 followed by a 27. The 81-year-old Souchak died yesterday in Florida.

A 15-time winner on tour, Mike Souchak was considered one of the rising stars in the 1950s, but he never broke through in the majors. Souchak had 11 top tens in majors, and was the 54-hole leader at the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills, the only national title won by Arnold Palmer.

−The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, July 10

Johnny Miller's British Invasion

AS I WATCHED HIM STRIDE UP the 72nd fairway at Royal Birkdale, the thought occurred to me, “Why didn’t he win another major?”

I flipped on the Golf Channel last night as they were airing one of their classic highlight programs, the 1976 British Open at Royal Birkdale, also this year’s Open venue.

Johnny Miller’s final-round performance in that Open was phenomenal. Johnny fired a 66 to overtake 19-year-old Seve Ballesteros and leave the great Jack Nicklaus and Masters champion Raymond Floyd in the dust.

In true Ballesteros fashion, Seve was knocking the ball all over England. Paired together, Nicklaus and Floyd played well, though, closing with 69 and 70, respectively. But Miller looked like he was playing in Tucson, taking dead aim at flagsticks and running in birdies with his Bulls Eye putter and jabby stroke. He even chipped in for an eagle on the 13th hole.

Johnny won going away, by six shots, the largest winning margin at the British Open since Arnold Palmer at Royal Troon in 1962. Wearing a red shirt and a pair of those awful golf slacks from the 70s, a beaming Miller hoisted the Claret Jug. He looked like he could win a bunch of them. He was only 29.

That was the end, his second and final major victory, although he did win seven more times on the PGA Tour. It’s still hard to believe Miller didn’t win another major. He was such a good player.

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, July 9

What Kenny Perry and I Have in Common

YOU’RE DYING TO KNOW, RIGHT? OK, here it is: Neither of us is playing in the British Open.

Ba-da-bum. (I’m glad you can’t throw tomatoes at me.)

But seriously, Kenny is taking more heat than Phoenix asphalt. Why? What am I missing? Somebody tell me.

It’s Kenny Perry skipping the British, not Phil Mickelson or some other marquee player. I understand Perry might have a good chance to win at Royal Birkdale –- he’s playing great –- but so what?

It’s his schedule, and he committed to Milwaukee and racking up Ryder Cup points. He’s sticking to his goal and his word. Did anyone care before he won a couple of events? I say let him be.

Here’s one more thing Kenny and I have in common: We’re both going to the Ryder Cup. I’ll be there as a spectator. And I’ll be rooting him on.

Get ‘em, Kenny!

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, July 8

Asterisk Weighs in on Tiger’s ‘Major’ Absence

Asterisk, looking fit as ever.

AS USUAL, ASTERISK WAS MINDING its own punctuation business when stories recently broke suggesting winners of upcoming golf majors may deserve Asterisk by their names because of the absence of Tiger Woods.

“I’ve been doing a lot of academic work,” Asterisk told ARMCHAIR GOLF in a telephone interview. “To be perfectly honest, I don’t pay much attention to golf.”

Although the punctuation mark did admit that the sports world often does flock to it, sometimes to stir up controversy, sometimes to edit record books.

“Let’s just say sports folks can get a little carried away,” Asterisk chuckled.

One prominent memory was when Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s single-season home-run record. Asterisk was suggested because Maris hit his record-setting 61 home runs in 162 games instead of the 154-game season of Ruth’s era.

“Maris wasn’t very popular,” Asterisk remembered. “That was the crux of it all.”

Does being at the center of sports controversies ever bother Asterisk?

“Hyphens and parentheses never go through this, so, yeah, it’s a distraction,” the punctuation mark said. “But I guess it goes with the territory. I can handle it.”

And what did Asterisk think when PGA Tour journeyman Paul Goydos said that maybe Jack Nicklaus should have Asterisk by all 18 majors since Tiger Woods didn’t play?

“Touché. I like that Goydos guy a lot.”

−The Armchair Golfer

Monday, July 7

Hold the Tiger Comparisons, Please

Anthony Kim

ON TODAY'S GOLF MENU, I’d like a well-done Anthony Kim story. But hold the Tiger comparisons, please.

For anyone, say, over 40, do you remember how many “next Jack Nicklaus” stories there were? A bunch. Every time someone won a big tournament, had a good year, or grabbed a major, the ink would fly. Especially if the dude had blond hair. (Think Hal Sutton, for instance.)

There was only one Jack, though.

That’s why I say, “Stop it, y’all.” Yes, Anthony Kim is young, talented and has won twice this year. But that doesn’t mean he has earned a spot in the same sentence with Tiger Woods. Not even close.

Leave Anthony alone. That “next Jack” or “next Tiger” kind of talk has crushed players. Just let him play. If he keeps winning, there will be plenty of time to fit him with a crown.

-The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, July 5

These (Old) Guys Are Good

Tommy Armour III

HEY, HAVE YOU NOTICED? Old is the new good on the PGA Tour.

The magic age might just be 48. I mean, 48-year-olds are coming out of the woodwork.

You have your Kenny Perry, winner of two 2008 events and a lock for the U.S. Ryder Cup team to take on the Europeans in Perry’s home state of Kentucky.

And, as I check the AT&T National leaderboard heading into Sunday’s final round, you have another pair of 48-year-olds. One is the leader, Tom Pernice, Jr. The other, two shots back, is Tommy Armour III, who nearly won a couple of weeks ago at the Travelers Championship.

Is somebody spiking these guys’ Smart Balance? Has the throwback, TA III, discovered a new putting stroke or puffing strategy – or both? Is the grumpy Pernice poised to bag his third tour win?

You gotta throw Rocco into the old guy mix, too. The 45-year-old Mediate is hugely popular after standing up to The Man at the U.S. Open. And while on the subject, let’s include another fan favorite, the 44-year-old Paul Goydos, who finished second to Sergio Garcia at The Players Championship.

It makes me wonder if old guys might be a part of the story line at the year’s last two majors and the Ryder Cup. I hope so.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, July 4

The PGA Tour’s Rodney Dangerfields

Larry Nelson

Consider it a Rodney Dangerfield list. They’re PGA Tour players who don’t get the respect they deserve. Here’s Golf.com’s most underrated players of the last quarter century:


Larry Nelson
John Daly
Jose Maria Olazabal
Mark Calcavecchia
Tom Kite
Bernhard Langer
Rory Sabbatini
Calvin Peete


Larry Nelson. OK, I’m on board. Nelson won three majors. Yes, three. Probably the stealthiest Hall of Famer around.

John Daly.
Huh?

Jose Maria Olazabal.
Fine player, with two Masters and 27 worldwide wins. Agree.

Calc.
I don’t know. He’s had many good moments, including a British and 13 tour wins but I don’t think of him as underrated.

Tom Kite.
No.

Bernhard Langer. Golf.com makes a good case for Bernhard. Two Masters, 61 worldwide wins (wow, did you know that?) and a Ryder Cup record of 21-15-6. I give him the nod.

Rory Sabbatini.
Not buying it.

Calvin Peete. Definitely. Some of you may not even know him, but Peete was the most-successful African American on the PGA Tour (pre-Tiger) and one of the best players of the 1980s with 12 tour wins. The straightest driver of the golf ball in PGA Tour history.

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, July 2

Q&A: Ian O’Connor, Author of ‘Arnie & Jack’

WHEN IAN O'CONNOR CONTACTED ME in May and offered to do something on his new golf book, Arnie & Jack, I said, “Great.” The book was doing very well and already on my radar. Then the author emails me. Perfect.

Besides, growing up, Jack Nicklaus was my Tiger Woods. Arnie & Jack was right in my golf wheelhouse. A review copy soon arrived and I dug in.

Honestly, there’s not much I could say that hasn’t already been written in the many fine reviews. The rivalry angle hadn’t been done, and O’Connor’s reporting skills made this a book. The guy can write a sentence, too.

O’Connor is a nationally recognized sports columnist for FoxSports.com and The Record of New Jersey. He answered my questions between filing columns about major league baseball and the NFL.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: What drew you to this project?


IAN O’CONNOR:
I was always fascinated by how the Augusta National crowds reacted to Arnie and Jack in different ways. It didn’t matter that Jack had won six Masters, and Arnie four – it was clear who was king there and who was not. But the first seed for the book was planted seven years ago, at the 14th green. Jack had nearly won the Masters in ‘98, at age 58, just before going into hip replacement surgery, so he wasn’t at all happy that Augusta’s elders had paired him with Palmer and Gary Player for another Big Three reunion. At 61, Nicklaus still thought he could win the damn thing, and here he was part of a ceremonial group. Jack hates the ceremonial stuff.

Anyway, as he’s about to putt at 14, Arnie walks toward me and sits down among a circle of fans and starts engaging them in conversation. Jack hears the commotion, backs away from his putt, and stares daggers at Arnie. Arnie tips his cap, the fans laugh, and Jack just can’t believe Palmer’s behaving like this while he’s trying to grind it and make the cut. It’s a small-picture scene, but it told me a lot of big-picture things about their relationship and just how different they are as golfers and human beings.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: You did a ton of reporting – was it a long haul to get this story published?

IAN O’CONNOR:
Two years of blood, sweat and tears. I did 200-some interviews and spent countless hours reviewing old magazine and newspaper clips in the hope of producing the defining account of the rivalry. The time actually passed quickly, as I found it to be incredibly rewarding work. It’s so difficult to do a book (especially when you keep your day job, as I did, as a newspaper columnist) that you have to be passionate about the subject matter. I can’t imagine doing a book on something I wasn’t all that interested in.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: I read somewhere that you used the Arnie-Jack rivalry as leverage to get face time with them. Tell me a little bit about that.

IAN O’CONNOR:
At first, Nicklaus and Palmer both declined to cooperate with the book. Their reps contacted me with word that they had some vague agreement with Gary Player to possibly do a Big Three book in the future, and that they couldn’t cooperate with a competing project. I ended up sitting down with Arnie, anyway, for a few minutes just to plead my case, and at the end of that brief conversation he mentioned that he might agree to help if Jack changed his mind and agreed to help. It sounded grade schoolish to me, but again, said a lot about their relationship. So I knew I had to work on Jack to get Arnie.

Nicklaus agreed to see me in his North Palm Beach office. He was familiar with my work; I had a weekly column at USA Today at the time, and he was a regular USA Today reader. I sat down with him and just appealed to his work ethic (Jack's an incurable workaholic), just told him I'd work as hard on this book as he ever did on one of his golf course design projects. And he said, “OK, I’ll help you.”

Once I was through with my first Jack interview, I got back in touch with Arnie, told him Jack was on board, and voila, Palmer signed on as well. Both men and their families couldn’t have been more accommodating or accessible, and I’m indebted to them all for that.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: From reading Arnie & Jack, Tiger’s large galleries and intimidation factor have nothing on Arnie’s Army. Yet Jack’s focus, even as a young pro, was other-worldly. Do you think Tiger (or anybody) could intimidate Nicklaus on a golf course?


IAN O’CONNOR:
I can’t imagine anyone intimidating Nicklaus on a golf course, Woods included. Jack was quite an intimidating presence himself. Many players told me that Nicklaus could stare a hole through them with those cold blue eyes of his. Like Tiger and unlike Arnie, Jack never spent any clubhouse time fraternizing with the other players. He never wanted his opponents to be comfortable around him. Jack wanted them to feel uncomfortable in his presence on the tee boxes, on the greens, and in the locker room.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: I learned a lot about the wives and how they enabled Arnie and Jack’s success. Anything surprise you? I'm guessing you unearthed new family material.

IAN O’CONNOR: I was surprised by just how close Winnie Palmer and Barbara Nicklaus were as their husbands were warring on the golf course and in the boardroom. It’s amazing to think that Winnie and Barbara could walk together at Oakmont in ‘62 while Arnie’s Army was unleashing a vicious verbal assault on Jack, but their bond was air-tight. As I wrote in the book, Winnie and Barbara deserve credit for preventing the Arnie-Jack relationship from ever getting to Defcon 1.

On another front, Peg Palmer, Arnie’s older daughter, is probably the most candid person I’ve ever interviewed. She had no problem talking openly about some painful experiences within the family, and about the burdens she carried as the child of an American icon.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: As a national sports columnist, you cover many sports. Where does golf rank for you?


IAN O’CONNOR:
I find golf to be one of the most fascinating sports to write about. I love the man-versus-nature, man-versus-himself element to the game, and I think it lends itself to lively prose. Golf is all about mental challenges, and those demons and doubts within every player – Tiger Woods excluded – inspires a lot of drama.

ARMCHAIR GOLF: What's next?


IAN O’CONNOR: My wife is demanding some time off before I start another book. I’d think about doing a Tiger book, but I can’t believe my chances of getting him to cooperate would be within a long par-five of my chances of getting to Arnie and Jack.

Tuesday, July 1

Golf Photographer Sets Off Apology Chain Reaction

A SIMPLE APOLOGY from a golf photographer to Tiger Woods for snapping a photo before impact has been pinpointed as the cause of an onslaught of apologies sweeping the golf world.

The exact order is uncertain, but sources seem to agree that an apology from Retief Goosen to Tiger Woods came next. When Woods informed Goosen that an apology was unnecessary, the South African reportedly called the world No. 1 the following day and apologized for apologizing.

Soon after, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem apologized to corporate sponsors for Tiger’s season-ending injury.

Then Tiger-sponsor Nike got into the act when retired CEO Phil Knight apologized for controversial labor practices in the Far East factories where Nike shoes were made. The Nike founder also apologized for the “K” in his last name remaining silent through the years.

Wendy’s, a longtime corporate golf sponsor, also apologized, saying the Wendy’s 3 Tour Challenge wasn’t really that challenging.

Goosen wasn’t the only player to offer an apology. Phil Mickelson apologized to his fans for losing the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Lefty also apologized to Butch Harmon and Callaway for not being able to hit more fairways.

A veteran PGA Tour caddie, who wished to remain anonymous, apologized for all the wrong yardages he had given to players since the 1980s.

The USGA apologized for the penal U.S. Open setups that have embarrassed the world’s best golfers over the last six decades. The organization retracted the apology later the same day.

From the broadcast booth, Dottie Pepper apologized for calling her terrier a “choking freaking dog” after a pet toy lodged in its throat.

Meanwhile, Johnny Miller apologized for his entire broadcast career. The two-time major winner also reportedly apologized to his pool boy for telling the young man he would never go very far in his pool-cleaning career with “that grip.”

−The Armchair Golfer

(This is an ARMCHAIR GOLF spoof.)