Tuesday, June 30

Ho-Hum: Another Win for Kenny Perry


Kentucky thunder: J.B. Holmes and Kenny Perry at the Ryder Cup.
(proforged/Flickr)


I DON’T CARE HOW WELL you hit the ball, it’s the putter that makes the difference between good scores and great scores, near misses and trophies. Just ask Kenny Perry, who notched his second win this season at the Traveler’s Championship last weekend.

Perry hits it about as well as anybody, and is especially smitten with his TaylorMade golf clubs, including his new R9 driver. But it was the switch to a PING mallet-style putter that enabled Kenny to light up leaderboards.

Case in point: The “old” man, soon to be 49, only needed 258 strokes to tour TPC River Highlands. That’s 22-under par, a tournament record.

Perry has won 14 times on the PGA Tour, 11 since he turned 40 and five events in the last 13 months, making him the winningest player in the last year or so. There was a Ryder Cup in there, too. Dang, Kenny.

Perry was asked on Sunday if the Travelers was his best win.

“Definitely,” he said.

“Good win as I’ve ever had, the way I finished today, on Sunday, my golf was unbelievable. To shoot 22-under par, to break the all-time record of all the great champions that are on this trophy, it’s unbelievable.”

I don’t know about that, Kenny. I’m definitely becoming a believer.

Perry File
Turned pro: 1982
Birthplace: Elizabethtown, Kentucky
College: Western Kentucky University
World ranking: 4
PGA Tour wins: 14
Major wins: 0
Equipment: TaylorMade

−The Armchair Golfer

Brought to you by The World of Golf and ARMCHAIR GOLF STORE.

Monday, June 29

The Tour Era of Bright Blue Bunkers


(Courtesy of SI Vault)

THE YEAR WAS 1969. It was the era of the space program and first moon walk, The Jackson Five with 10-year-old Michael Jackson as front man-child, Richard Nixon and the Vietnam War, and powdery blue bunkers on the PGA Tour. No, really. Just take a look at the cover of the February 17, 1969, issue of Sports Illustrated.

That’s Bob Lunn demonstrating “Golf’s Brash New Look,” following through on an explosion shot from bright blue sand in that year-round golf oasis, Palm Springs.

They played out of blue bunkers at the Bob Hope Desert Classic in the late Sixties. It was a novelty in an age when novelties were normal. Blue bunkers were actually kind of tame in those psychedelic times.

Not buying it? OK, I made up the part about the Hope.

(But I’m still trying to figure out the photo. There was no Photoshop 40 years ago.)

Vince Spence recently posted the above SI cover and mentioned Bob Lunn at his entertaining blog, One-Eyed Golfer. Bob Lunn. Now there’s a name I hadn’t heard in a while.

Never heard of Lunn? He was a big guy, 6’2”, 190 lbs., who won six times on the PGA Tour, sort of a 1960s version of Chad Campbell in terms of wins and talent. Lunn once won back-to-back events and finished third in the 1970 U.S. Open. In 1968, he won more than $100,000 on the PGA Tour. That was big, brash money in those days.

And, as shown, Lunn made the cover of Sports Illustrated, so he was definitely a player.

−The Armchair Golfer

Sunday, June 28

Course News: Pinehurst and Medinah Attract Major Events


(scbluedevil/Flickr)

Contributed by GCM NewsWeekly
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


BETHPAGE BLACK RECENTLY SHARED the spotlight with a couple of other famous American venues − Pinehurst No. 2 and Medinah Country Club.

The big golf course news on U.S. Open weekend was that the USGA and Pinehurst officials had agreed that the Donald Ross masterpiece, course No. 2 − site of the 1999 and 2005 U.S. Opens − will host both the men’s and women’s Opens on back-to-back weeks in 2014.

While the USGA has conducted different championships on the same course in the same year in the past, never have two major events been held at the same venue in successive weeks.

Meanwhile, Medinah, site of the 2012 Ryder Cup, announced that its membership had overwhelmingly approved a $3 million-plus renovation of its No. 3 course in advance of those matches. The Chicago-area club most recently hosted the 2006 PGA Championship.

The back-to-back national championships at Pinehurst (June 12-15 for the men and June 19-22 for the women) will be a considerable cost-cutting move for the USGA, which, among other things, will be able to utilize single tournament and corporate infrastructure for two events, as well as generate immense, almost uninterrupted interest in the game for a long period of time.

In golf course management circles, however, there have been many wondering what the effect of the successive major events will have on the Pinehurst staff, specifically superintendent Paul Jett, CGCS, and his maintenance crew, not only in maintaining championship tournament conditions over a much longer time span, but also in dealing with the nuances between men’s and women’s professional golf.

Thus far, Jett, a 23-year GCSAA member, has taken an upbeat approach to the task.

“I think it speaks to the ability of the entire resort to do what they (USGA) have planned. They would not have even asked us if they did not think we could do it,” Jett told Jeff Bollig, GCSAA’s managing director of marketing and communications.

“Obviously, it speaks well of the golf course management staff. We were brought into the discussion about three months ago and we told them we could deliver what they needed.

“We’ll know more after we talk to Mike Davis [USGA director of rules and championships and responsible for the course setups], but just off the top of my head, we’ll have to reduce the length, maybe knock down the rough a bit and perhaps soften the greens slightly,” Jett added concerning setup changes between tournaments.

Medinah Will Be Ready

The project at Medinah CC, which was established in 1925 and has hosted six of golf’s major championships, was approved by a 4-1 margin of the membership in a time when private clubs across the country are struggling in the down economy. The project will close the No. 3 course from Aug. 15 to next June.

“What this overwhelming vote means is that we now will be able to bring our crown jewel up to the world-class level where we want it to be. It will be ready for the 2012 Ryder Cup for the whole world to see. The membership is happy,” club president John Potts said during the announcement.

The renovation will include a complete remodeling of 11 greens − seven were rebuilt in preparation for the 2006 PGA − and the regrassing of the greens to a new bentgrass. All the fairways and intermediate rough will be regrassed to drive out Poa Annua and new golf car paths will be built.

The project will also be a bonanza for the Medinah director of grounds, Curtis Tyrrell, CGCS, and his staff. They’ll be getting a fully renovated and expanded golf course maintenance facility.

For more information about golf course management, visit GCSAA.org.

Saturday, June 27

ARMCHAIR GOLF Briefs


(Josh V-R/Flickr)

A bevy of golf products, services, destinations, events, news and more. Endorsement is not implied.

GolfTracker.com allows golfers to track scores, interact with friends, find tournaments and events, improve their game and more.

• Short men’s specialty retailer ForTheFit.com has launched the nation’s first and only pro shop exclusively for male golfers under 5’9”.

RotarySwing.com offers videos, clinics and other information to help simplify the golf swing.

VacationRentals.com is giving away a weekend in Las Vegas that includes golf with PGA Tour pro Charley Hoffman. More info at http://traveler.vacationrentals.com/dealscelebritysweepstakes.

Golf’s Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia by Dr. David Cook, a top sports psychologist, will be released on Aug. 1st.

My Golf Book (MyGolfBook.com) is a combination golf accessory, book and training aid, designed to be placed in an individual’s golf bag, allowing golfers to remember and learn from their golf experiences.

Mirimichi, a Memphis-area golf course owned by Justin Timberlake and formerly known as Big Creek, has become the first golf course in the country to receive an official Audubon Classic Sanctuary certification by Audubon International, a non-profit environmental education organization.

The Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa announced that the new Valley Course, an 18-hole, par-71 Nicklaus design championship course, is now open in Victoria, British Columbia.

• Two luxurious Palm Springs hotels, Agua Caliente Casino • Resort • Spa and Spa Resort Casino, offer great deals, including golf at Indian Canyon Golf Resort. The 36 holes of golf feature a championship course that was redesigned by Casey O’Callaghan in 2004 along with consultant Amy Alcott, an LPGA Hall of Famer.

The Antigua Group, Inc. recently completed a four-year extension of its license agreement with Tournament Sports Marketing of Waterloo, Ontario - Canada. The extension continued an 18-year partnership in the Canadian market between the two companies.

• Jim McLean and Back9Fitness® have opened Fitness Fare Cafe, a 52-seat restaurant located at the Jim McLean Golf Center in Fort Worth. Open to McLean¹s students and clients as well as the general public, Fitness Fare Cafe, according to Chef Eric Tonips, will feature healthy, well-balanced, nutritious meals and smoothies made from the freshest ingredients.

PUMA® Golf athlete and newcomer to the LPGA tour Anna Nordqvist won her first major at the McDonald’s LPGA Championship at the Bulle Rock Golf Course in Havre de Grace, Maryland.

The Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau (SLCVB) is introducing the Golf Salt Lake Super Pass, featuring 10 of Salt Lake’s top golf courses.

• The 2009 Hill Billy Terrain electric golf caddy features a 200-watt motor, light-weight frame and options for different battery sizes that allow golfers to go 18 or even 36 holes on a single charge.

Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club on Cape Cod is offering an unlimited golf package. Play endless golf on Cape Cod’s Only Nicklaus Design Course. One-bedroom villa and daily breakfast from $235/golfer nightly.

• Championship golf is back in the Catskills with the re-opening of “The Monster” at the Concord Resort & Golf Club. The world-famous Monster golf course has been rated by Golf Digest as one of America’s 100 Greatest Golf Coursess.

• The PUMA Golf 2009 Golf Special Edition Collection makes a bold statement in pearlized black and white.

• The historic Thayer Hotel is offering its Quadricentennial Golf Outing at the West Point Golf Course and delicious barbeque dinner on Tuesday, July 7. Built in 1926, the Thayer Hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the only full-service hotel on the Hudson River from the George Washington Bridge to Albany, New York. It has hosted a long line of dignitaries and celebrities, including General Douglas MacArthur, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, President John F. Kennedy, singer Luciano Pavarotti, actors George C. Scott, James Earl Jones and Gregory Peck, and many others.

GOING FOR THE GREEN (Sterling Publishing/July 2009) provides a unique insider’s look at the world of top-level golfing to help golfers master three important aspects of the game: the mental, physical, and technical/mechanical. Swing coach Gary Gilchrist, golf fitness trainer Susan Hill, and sports psychologist Jeff Troesch unite in this guide to unveil the cutting-edge technique periodization, an optimal training method popularized by Tiger Woods.

• Throughout July, golf facilities nationwide will offer free and affordable activities for families during the fourth annual Family Golf Month. More info at PlayGolfAmerica.com.

• Former Super Bowl XXXV Champion quarterback Trent Dilfer has been named recipient of the 2009 Brodie Award, recognizing an individual’s accomplishments in both a chosen profession and in the sport of golf. It’s given each year by organizers of the American Century Championship (TahoeCelebrityGolf.com) celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, June 26

2009 Wegmans LPGA TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2009 WEGMANS LPGA is being played at Locust Hill Country Club in Pittsford, New York. Jiyai Shin currently leads at 11 under.

Purse: $2 million
Defending champion: Eun-Hee Ji

Tournament preview
Tournament interviews
Final field

2009 Wegmans LPGA Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

Four hours of TV coverage are on tap this weekend for the 2009 Wegmans LPGA.

Sat, Jun 27 : ESPN2
3:00-5:00 PM ET

Sun, Jun 28 : ESPN2
5:00-7:00 PM ET

−The Armchair Golfer

Golf Destinations: Houston’s La Torretta Del Lago Resort and Spa


(Jason Pearce/Flickr)

THE NEW REDESIGN of the resort golf course at La Torretta Del Lago just outside of Houston, Texas, incorporates something for everyone. It challenges the experienced golfer while being fair and playable for the casual player.

In the spring of 2007, La Torretta Del Lago management hired local golf course architect Jeffrey D. Blume to oversee the redesign of a golf course that had fallen into some disrepair. Not only was Blume asked to bring the golf course back to life, he needed to make certain the redesigned layout fit in with the rest of the resort area and locale.

Blume lengthened the course by more than 100 yards by moving tee boxes and greens. La Torretta Del Lago now measures about 7,000 yards. Par was changed from 72 to 71.

Blume’s redesign incorporated a smart combination of bunkers, water hazards, hills, natural hazards and the play of light to create an enjoyable and scenic golf experience. Each hole includes hazards that will challenge experienced golfers, yet also allow for lay-up shots. The greens are expansive and challenging, not difficult to reach in regulation and certainly a good short game test for players of all abilities.

La Torretta Del Lago fairways and greens are Tifdwarf Bermudagrass. Those who venture into the rough will find their golf ball among native Texas grasses and wildflowers.

In addition to a redesigned golf course, La Torretta Del Lago has comfortable golf cottages and a full-service spa.

To learn more about the golf course, including a hole-by-hole description, visit LaTorrettaDelLagoResortandSpa.com.

Brought to you by La Torretta Del Lago Resort and Spa and ARMCHAIR GOLF STORE.

Thursday, June 25

Umbrella Man to Caddie at Travelers Championship


(Courtesy of Travelers)

“WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING?”

Anyone who has watched a recent golf telecast has probably heard Travelers’ umbrella man ask that question to the kiddos in the insurer’s TV spot. The friendly man sporting a snappy bowler also helps some stranded circus performers cross a lake and gives a pair of kids a ride on his umbrella when their bike breaks down.

Apparently, the whimsical commercial gave one PGA Tour player an idea as he waited out long weather delays last week at the U.S. Open.

“I could use a cheerful man like that on my bag,” he told ARMCHAIR GOLF, “especially if it rains. I like the part when he and the kids fly away on his umbrella. That’s so cool.”

The player asked not to be named, in case the new arrangement didn’t work out. Although he admitted it would be hard to miss the pair on the course.

“He’s still learning how to read a yardage book and rake a bunker,” the player said. “But if we have buckets of rain like at Bethpage last week, my little gray-suited friend has me covered in a big way.”

−The Armchair Golfer


(This is an ARMCHAIR GOLF spoof.)

2009 Travelers Championship TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2009 TRAVELERS CHAMPIONSHIP is underway at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn.

Purse: $6 million
Winner’s share: $1.08 million
Defending champion: Stewart Cink

Inside the field
Inside the course

2009 Travelers Championship Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

Twelve hours of TV coverage are on tap for the 2009 Travelers Championship.

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

Fri, 6/26:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Sat, 6/27:
CBS 3p - 6p ET

Sun, 6/28:
CBS 3p - 6p ET

PGA Tour radio coverage

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, June 24

The Greatest Golfer to Never Win a U.S. Open

SO WHO IS THE GREATEST golfer to never win a U.S. Open? That’s easy. Samuel Jackson Snead. Snead was a bridesmaid four times in what was often called the National Open in an earlier era.

Snead won a record 82 PGA Tour events, including seven majors. Sam’s last victory came at the 1965 Greater Greensboro Open at the age of 52, also a record. But, like Phil Mickelson (to date), the Slammer never broke through at the U.S. Open.

Ben Hogan (4) and Byron Nelson (1) won five between them. It surely haunted Snead, who had several near misses at the national championship.

The late Bob Rosburg played with Snead in the 1955 U.S. Open.

“He said nobody can win the Open that’s missed as many putts as I have,” Rossie told me last October. “He had a phobia about the Open and I think that’s why he never won.”

One of those missed putts − a two-and-a-half footer − was on the final hole of an 18-hole playoff against Lew Worsham in the 1947 U.S. Open at St. Louis Country Club. Both players had short par putts.

“The putts were very close to the same length,” wrote veteran golf writer and Snead biographer Al Barkow in the New York Times.

“Snead thought he was farther away, and prepared to play. But when he was standing over his ball and just about to make his stroke, Worsham stopped him and called for a measurement to see who, in fact, was away. It was his right to do so, and so officials brought out a tape measure. As it happened, Snead was farthest from the hole − 30 1/2 inches to Worsham’s 29 1/2.

“After the delay of some five minutes, Snead missed his slippery downhill putt. Worsham made his, an easier uphill putt, and Snead was once again denied the only major championship he never won.”

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, June 23

Jim McLean Golf Instruction: Tee-In-Grip Drill

By Jim McLean
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


(Editor’s note: This is the sixth of a seven-part series on spring, er, now summer, practice drills.)

Problem:
The golfer’s overactive, improper use of the hands causes the clubhead to rotate dramatically over and well inside the target line. In turn, the golfer’s arms and body are not in sync.

Result:
In order to hit a powerful shot, he or she must rely on some kind of miraculous manipulation with the hands. The chances of success? Slim and none.

Goal: To learn to blend body movement with the actions of the hands and arms. When these factors are in sync, no mid-swing compensations are needed, and a repeatable good swing is easier to attain.

Practice procedure:
Using a five-iron or longer club, place a tee peg in the vent hold of the grip. Choke down on the grip slightly. Now, make a very short mini-backswing, keeping the distance between the tee and your belt buckle constant. Repeat and you should feel zero hand action.

Next time: Swish Drill

Jim McLean is the instruction editor for Golf Digest and the Golf Channel, and an author of numerous, top-selling golf instruction books. For a free intro DVD to his new Building Block Approach, visit Jim McLean Golf School.

Copyright © Jim McLean. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Monday, June 22

Welcome Back, David Duval

LUCAS GLOVER WON THE TROPHY, Phil Mickelson won the hearts, and David Duval won newfound respect.

I disagree with those who may want to place an asterisk by Glover’s name for winning the bizarre, waterlogged U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. Lucas’s long game was solid most of the week, he only had one three-putt green, and he handled the pressure better than more-experienced players have in the past.

I’ll leave Phil for others, but his family vacation would be much more enjoyable if he had not bogeyed two of the last four holes. It was Lefty’s fifth second-place finish at the U.S. Open.

(Image: Newton/Flickr)

But I’d much rather discuss Mr. 764 in the world, one David Duval (at left). As I watched Duval coax in a birdie putt on the 16th hole to close to within one stroke of the lead, it occurred to me that he might pull off one of golf’s greatest comebacks. A birdie and a par and the man who fell into golf’s black hole eight years ago could actually hoist the Open’s silver cup. It would be, dare I say, “unbelievable.”

Duval’s final round was a parallel of sorts for his desolate years in golf. Things went terribly wrong on the opening three holes, which included a bogey and triple bogey. It looked hopeless, but David refused to give up. He kept battling to the end, hitting solid shot after solid shot with his Nike golf clubs and holing pressure putts that reminded us why he was once the best golfer in the world.

Duval is a soft-spoken determined man with a healthy ego. Of course, I don’t mean ego in the usual puffed-up sense. He has been completely humbled by this cruel game. Yet he still believes in himself and his ability. I’m not a quitter, he has said. That’s a healthy place to be.

As Duval also said just the other day, there’s not anything that can happen on the golf course or in a golf tournament that’s likely to fluster him. He has experienced both the highs and the lows − the lowest of the lows − and he’s still out there swinging and believing.

Today that belief almost won David Duval his first U.S. Open. It certainly won him the golf world’s respect.

Duval File

Turned pro: 1993
Birthplace: Jacksonville, Florida
Residence: Denver, Colorado
World ranking: 764
PGA Tour wins: 13
Major wins: 1
Equipment: Nike

−The Armchair Golfer

Brought to you by The World of Golf and ARMCHAIR GOLF STORE.

Sunday, June 21

Final Round of U.S. Open Is Underway

Lucas Glover

IT’S 6 P.M. ON SUNDAY EVENING and the final round of the 109th U.S. Open is underway at Bethpage Black. How the grounds crew has enabled 54-plus holes of championship golf to be played the last four days is beyond me. The rains have been epic and the grounds crew’s water redistribution skills have been extraordinary.

In fact, since the grounds crew is so talented I wish they would just erect lights at Bethpage Black and we could finish this thing. Let’s play Sunday night until it’s over. We need to crown a U.S. Open champion, and Phil, Amy and family need to go on vacation, as scheduled.

Seriously, the U.S. Open will not be completed until Monday. Like everyone else, I’m wondering how the newbies at the top of the leaderboard will hold up under final-round pressure and which players back in the pack might make a move.

History tells me that Ricky Barnes will not get it done. It’s a lot of pressure on someone who hasn’t even been in contention in a regular PGA Tour event.

Lucas Glover, on the other hand, has a legitimate chance. No, Glover hasn’t been in this position before in a major, but he has a four-shot cushion on the rest of the field (other than Barnes) and has been hitting a lot of fairways and greens. That will be absolutely critical in the fourth round.

Then you have the man from oblivion, David Duval, plus Mike Weir, Ross Fisher, Phil Mickelson, Sean O’Hair, Hunter Mahan, Bubba Watson, Todd Hamilton and Retief Goosen all lurking in red numbers.

Tiger Woods is nine back and needs to go really low to have a snowball’s chance.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, June 20

A Father’s Day Message from Jim Colbert

FORMER PGA TOUR and Champions Tour player Jim Colbert has an important and potentially life-saving message for men age 40 and older: get screened annually for prostate cancer. It’s simple, quick and painless.

“Early detection is the key,” Colbert told me earlier this week. “There’s no reason to die from this disease in this day and age.”

Colbert is a prostate cancer survivor. The 68-year-old golf analyst saw his doctor at the urging of good friend Arnold Palmer in the mid 1990s shortly after Palmer was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer affects one in six men. Approximately 192,000 will be diagnosed with the disease this year. Colbert is working with Depend and ZERO: The Project to End Prostate Cancer to launch a four-month prostate cancer awareness program culminating with National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in September.

I also talked to Colbert about the U.S. Open at Bethpage, where he was set to do commentary for DIRECTV.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, June 19

Bethpage: Not Your Normal U.S. Open


Look who turned up on the U.S. Open leaderboard.
(Robert Gusick/Flickr)


DON’T ADJUST YOUR SET. That was the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black you were watching today, even if it didn’t quite look like a U.S. Open with all those dart-like approach shots and red numbers on the scoreboard.

Yes, the guy in the photo, aka David Duval, did shoot a 67 in the first round of the U.S. Open and remains in contention midway through his second round. Yes, Tiger Woods did crash and burn on the last four holes of his first round to shoot four over. And yes, a different, short-hitting “Lefty” (Mike Weir) led after the first round with a 64.

That’s on a U.S. Open course that was supposed to play way too long for short knockers, especially after being under water on Thursday. (By the way, Weir’s 64 included a double bogey.)

It’s all just so crazy.

If that weren’t enough, this U.S. Open might not finish on Sunday. This isn’t your father’s or Father’s Day U.S. Open. There’s nothing normal about it. Not one thing.

−The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, June 18

ARMCHAIR GOLF Blogarama: U.S. Open Edition

Shane Bacon interviewed Scott Van Pelt of ESPN. Topics included Tiger, Twitter and more. (Golf Fanhouse)

The Aussie Golfer previewed the nine Down Under golfers who tee it up this week in the U.S. Open. (Aussie Golfer)

Jay Busbee featured the dean of golf writers, Dan Jenkins, who is now on Twitter. (Devil Ball Golf)

Bob Smiley has a photo of Camilo Villegas’s yardage book. Not all the numbers pertain to golf. (Fore Right)

Dave Lair is featured on camera in a Fox News item for Father’s Day golf deals. (Orlando Golf Blogger)

Stephanie Wei talked to PGA Tour player Ryan Moore earlier this week at Bethpage Black. (Wei Under Par)

Ryan Ballengee has the exclusive sock puppets preview of the 2009 U.S. Open. (Waggle Room)

Geoff Shackelford is filing live tidbits and reports from Bethpage throughout the week. (Geoff Shackelford)

For more golf buzz, check out the sidebar for links to a bevy of golf blogs, golf media and other golf sites.

−The Armchair Golfer

2009 U.S. Open TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2009 U.S. OPEN is underway at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, New York. A weather delay has interrupted the first round.

Purse: $7.5 million
Winner’s share: $1.26 million
Defending champion: Tiger Woods

U.S. Open field
Bethpage Black course info
Audio tour with Jim Furyk
Preview: Golf analyst Jim Colbert

2009 U.S. Open Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

Twenty-six hours of live TV coverage are on tap for the 2009 U.S. Open.

Thu, 6/18
10-3 pm ET ESPN
3-5 pm ET NBC
5-7 pm ET ESPN

Fri, 6/19
10-3 pm ET ESPN
3-5 pm ET NBC
5-7 pm ET ESPN

Sat, 6/20
2-8 pm ET NBC
(UPDATE: NBC announced it will come on
at 10 am ET)

Sun, 6/21
1:30-7:30 pm ET NBC

−The Armchair Golfer

FREE Drawing for ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
Enter the free drawing at above right (or ARMCHAIR GOLF BLOG) for a hardcover edition of ARE YOU KIDDING ME? The Story of Rocco Mediate’s Extraordinary Battle with Tiger Woods at the U.S. Open. The book is by Rocco Mediate and bestselling author John Feinstein.

Wednesday, June 17

U.S. Open Preview: A Conversation with Jim Colbert


Jim Colbert (Photo: Taylor PR)

JIM COLBERT was an eight-time winner on the PGA Tour. His second career on the Champions Tour was even more fruitful: 20 victories and two player-of-the-year awards. Colbert played in nine U.S. Opens. His best finish was a third-place tie in 1971 at Merion, where Lee Trevino beat Jack Nicklaus in an 18-hole playoff, 68 to 71.

This week, alongside Jim Kelly, Colbert will be providing commentary on the U.S. Open for DIRECTV. Following are excerpts from our Tuesday conversation.

The Return of the Driver


JIM COLBERT:
If you recall last year they widened the fairways a little bit at Torrey Pines. The first cut of rough was a little lighter and a little wider. And, of course, the second cut was real Open rough. That was in an effort to put the driver back in the game. I like that idea. I don’t like seeing guys hit irons and hybrids and 3 woods on every tee. So I’m pretty sure they’re going to do the same thing here at Bethpage Black and put the driver in.

Soft Versus Firm Fairways

JIM COLBERT:
It’s about 7400 yards, but right now it’s a little bit soft, which is an asset for the players. Everybody’s concerned with length, but most of these guys are long enough if they hit it straight enough. And everybody’s concerned with firm, firm greens. That’s not the real problem for a golf pro. The real problem for a golf pro is real firm fairways. That’s why you see them hitting irons because the ball runs so far. It’s not that they can’t land their driver in the fairway; it just runs through and they can’t keep it in the fairway. So I think you’re going to see a lot of drivers this week with the length, and if the fairways stay reasonably soft without the ball rolling 50 or 60 yards, that favors the player.

The Wedge Rules


JIM COLBERT: The longer the course, the more important the wedge is. If you get in the Open rough, very few times can you get it on the green. A lot of times you throw it out in the fairway, 80 yards short, 50 yards short, 40 yards short, requiring a wedge shot in. Or the greens firm up a little bit, you hit a good shot, it bounces over in the long grass or in the bunker. What club do you use? You use a wedge. So the longer the golf course is and the more difficult, the more the wedge comes into play. Or all series of wedges, however many you’re carrying, three or four. Now that sounds like it favors someone other than Tiger. That’s not necessarily true. Tiger and Phil might be the two best wedge players I’ve ever seen. And they’re also the long hitters.

‘Par Is First’


JIM COLBERT:
Par is the score you’re looking for in the Open on every hole. Believe me, I don’t care if it’s a 105-yard 3-par or 530-yard 4-par. Par is first. That will be the mindset of everybody.

‘That’s Some Start on 10’


JIM COLBERT: On the actual playing of the course, you get one early time and one late time in the first two rounds. You start on 1 one time, and you start on 10 one time. The one that looks not too good to me at this time, not knowing the weather, is starting on 10 in the early morning − 7:30, 8, 8:15. Those first four holes are a pretty big order starting on 10. You could be a couple over par and only played four holes starting out. I don’t like the setup on the back nine, especially early in the morning for the people that draw that 10th tee. But for most of them it might not be a problem. Maybe they’re early morning people.

How He Approached U.S. Open as a Player


JIM COLBERT:
The Open was always the biggest tournament for me. That was the one I grew up thinking was the championship of the world, certainly the championship of the United States. Five or six weeks in advance, I was hitting shots pretending like I was at the Open, which also helped me in those tournaments leading up to it because I was really working on my game. Even if you’ve never seen the course, there’s not a lot of mystery to it. It’s high rough. You better hit it straight. You better get it on the green. You better know how to play out of the high rough. But I was hitting shots, practicing for the Open, getting ready, so I was pretty keyed up by the time I got to the Open, knowing what it would take.

1971 U.S. Open: ‘Daggers in My Heart’


JIM COLBERT: I lost at Merion to Nicklaus and Trevino when they tied. I think they shot 280. I think Rosburg and I shot 282. That was one of the daggers in my heart. I couldn’t think of a shot I could have saved. I didn’t get any terrible bounces, bad luck. It’s probably the only tournament in my life I felt like − I didn’t hit all good shots − but I maxed it out. I didn’t waste any. I lost. That was kind of hard to take. Colbert, you’re just not good enough. Overall in the Open, for a big part of my career, I didn’t drive it straight enough. In that Open was the first time I ever used a PING 3-wood. I only hit nine drivers in that whole tournament. That was the first PING in my bag. Later on, I played with all PINGS. I hit all 3 woods off those tees with the exception of 2 and 18. The last day on 16 it was kind of into the breeze − that’s the only nine drivers I hit in the whole tournament at Merion.

‘You’re Pretty Keyed Up’

JIM COLBERT: But the preparation − most of the guys have been thinking about it, hitting shots. You’re pretty keyed up. I always took Wednesday off or maybe played nine holes, or maybe hit a few balls, or maybe did nothing. I wanted to be really fresh mentally and physically, try to stay off your feet, be ready to play. You’ve seen Phil and Tiger come in last week. They’re not going to spend a whole lot of hours actually on their feet on the golf course.

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, June 16

Audio Tour of Bethpage Black with Jim Furyk


Jim Furyk preps at Torrey Pines for 2008 U.S. Open.
(Gordons/Flickr)


GET A PLAYER’S PERSPECTIVE on all 18 holes at Bethpage Black from 2003 U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk.

Furyk shares his thoughts on each hole, including opportunities and challenges players will face beginning on Thursday when the 109th U.S. Open gets underway. It’s presented by American Express and it’s free.

Audio Tour with Jim Furyk


−The Armchair Golfer

Superintendent: Bethpage Black Is Ready for U.S. Open


Various cuts at Bethpage Black for 2009 U.S. Open. (2Eklectik/Flickr)

Contributed by GCM NewsWeekly
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


THE U.S OPEN RETURNS THIS WEEK to Bethpage State Park’s Black Course in Farmingdale, N.Y., for the second time in seven years. GCSAA Class A member Craig Currier is just the second superintendent to host more than one U.S. Open at the same facility.

“I think it’s going to be even better than the last time,” said Currier, who has directed golf course management operations at Bethpage’s five courses for the past 12 years.

“We’ve had another seven years to get everything ready and just the way we want it. In addition to the actual playing surfaces, the entire facility is dialed in.”

The Setup

The USGA has set up the Black Course at par 70, 7,426 yards, with the Kentucky bluegrass/perennial ryegrass/fine fescue rough cut at graduating heights starting at 1 1/2 inches closest to the fairway, 2 1/2 inches six feet out, and four inches 20 feet out.

Currier will have the bentgrass greens rolling at 14 feet on the Stimpmeter. And the Black Course will boast three of the longest par 4s in U.S. Open history this year. The 525-yard seventh will be the longest par 4.

The Black Course was merely tweaked in preparation for this year’s U.S. Open. The changes amount to about 225 yards of added length in the form of new championship tees on seven holes, some re-contouring of fairways and new or renovated fairway and greenside bunkers on seven holes. Currier also attempted to make the rough less thick by reducing fertilizer and overseeding.

“No. 4 is a great short par 5, but not a lot of guys went for it in two because the collection area behind the green fell straight away from you,” Currier said.

“If you hit it long, you were down over the road. We kind of rebuilt that area to hopefully hold shots a little better with the thought (that) guys will actually go for that in two now. On 10, we actually added a new collection area behind the green, so now anything long is going to end up 30 to 40 feet from the green.”

Bethpage History and Renovations


Bethpage State Park became the first publicly owned facility to host the U.S. Open in 2002. Built in the mid-1930s, Bethpage State Park was designed by famed golf course architect A.W. Tillinghast.

The first tee at the Bethpage Black Course touts a sign stating it is “an extremely difficult course which we recommend only highly skilled golfers.” The Black Course was refurbished in 1982, again in 1987, and then the USGA spent $2.7 million in 1997 to have Rees Jones renovate it in anticipation of the 2002 U.S. Open.

“I can't say enough about the guy,” Jones said about Currier. “He’s no excuses and all solutions.”

The greens and tees were rebuilt and laser leveled as part of the 1997 renovations. A new irrigation system was installed, as well as additional drainage, and the bunkers were restored to reflect original Tillinghast design and style, including all new sand. A new maintenance facility was also constructed, using state funds, to replace the one built in the 1930s.

“Last time [2002], people were wondering if a state park could actually pull it off,” Currier said.

“Now that we’ve been there, done that, I think everyone is a bit more comfortable.”

For more information about Bethpage Black and the U.S. Open from a golf course management perspective, visit GCSAA.org.


(Brought to you by YourGolfTravel.com and the ARMCHAIR GOLF STORE.)

Monday, June 15

The U.S. Open: Always Exciting, Always Open


Shane Bacon attempted to qualify for the 2009 U.S. Open.

FORTY YEARS AGO THIS WEEK, ex-Army staff sergeant Orville Moody stood over a 14-inch putt on the 72nd hole of the U.S. Open at the Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas.

It was no gimme. “Sarge,” as he was nicknamed, was an awful putter. But he was a sweet ball striker. PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman later said, “He was the best shotmaker in the world at the time.”

Nonetheless, Moody had never won a tour event − much less a major − when he took his stance and tried to steady his hands over the biggest putt of his life. Somehow Orville nudged the ball into the cup and was crowned U.S. Open champion. It was his first and last victory on the PGA Tour.

How Moody won that U.S. Open is a part of tournament lore. It’s also a testimony to what makes the U.S. Open great. You see, above all, the U.S. Open is an “open” championship. You can earn your spot in the field, whether as an amateur (1.4 handicap index or lower) or professional.

Sarge was the last local qualifier to win the U.S. Open, meaning he had to advance through both local and sectional qualifying to earn his spot in the field. In April 2007 at the Legends of Golf in Savannah, I sat nearby as Orville told stories about his qualifying juggernaut in ’69. I admit I’m fuzzy on the details, but I believe it included holing out a chip or short pitch to make it on the number during one stage.

Later that year in Baltimore I again hooked up with Sarge at the Senior Players Championship. In fact, I rode with Sarge as he and Jack Fleck partnered in a best-ball event. I believe it was the last tour outing Sarge played before a massive stroke put him in a nursing home until he died in August 2008.

Within hours of Sarge’s death, former caddie and longtime family friend Kim Green contacted me and shared some of her favorite stories.

“He [Orville] had his faults, but his kindnesses and love and generosity made putting up with him so easy,” she said.

Golf Blogger Attempts to Qualify


Because it’s an Open, AOL Fanhouse golf blogger Shane Bacon stepped up to the first tee at Tucson Country Club for a local qualifier in May. Nearly 100 players were vying for six spots. The six qualifiers would face similar or worse odds in the sectional qualifier that followed.

Shane is legit. He played college golf and once shot a 68 in a Gateway Tour event. Still, this was a U.S. Open qualifier.

“I won’t lie,” he wrote. “I was very nervous.”

Shane birdied the first hole, the highlight of his failed attempt. But it’s conceivable he could have posted a qualifying number and advanced to the sectional. He’s good enough. He took a shot at it.

That’s what’s great about the U.S. Open. A golf blogger can qualify.

Can a Qualifier Still Win?

Yes. Michael Campbell won in 2005.

And last year journeyman Rocco Mediate − yes, a qualifier − almost did the unthinkable. He went toe-to-toe with Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines and nearly completed one of golf’s greatest upsets.

Mediate was having a mediocre 2008 season until he reached the Memorial Tournament and notched a top-10 finish. The following day, bad back and all, Rocco grinded for 36 holes in a Columbus, Ohio, sectional qualifier. He squeaked into an 11-man playoff for six spots. Rocco birdied, and he was on his way to La Jolla.

That’s what’s still great about the U.S. Open. If you play well enough, you can get in. And once you’re in, you have a chance to win.

−The Armchair Golfer

FREE Drawing for ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
Enter the free drawing at above right (or ARMCHAIR GOLF BLOG) for a hardcover edition of ARE YOU KIDDING ME? The Story of Rocco Mediate’s Extraordinary Battle with Tiger Woods at the U.S. Open. The book is by Rocco Mediate and bestselling author John Feinstein.

Sunday, June 14

Ken Green: ‘Take It Off So I Can Play’

“I don’t know if I will ever play on the Tour again. But I do know this: I am so proud to have been a professional golfer for 30 years. I am proud of my five Tour wins and to have represented my country in the 1989 Ryder Cup. That will never be taken away from me.”
−Ken Green

JUST WHEN PGA TOUR and Champions Tour player Ken Green was getting his life back in order, a right-front tire on his RV blew out on a Mississippi interstate highway. Green and passengers went down an embankment and struck a large oak tree, killing everyone except Green − his brother, his girl friend and his dog, a German Shepard that Green once rescued from an alligator attack in Florida.

And now due to seemingly irreparable damage, Green will also lose his right leg below the knee. He is set to have surgery on Monday at University of Mississippi Medical Center. In all likelihood it will end Green’s playing career.

However, Peter Kostis said on Sunday’s CBS golf telecast that one of the reasons Green elected to have the leg amputated was because it offers the best chance for Green to return to competitive golf.

“If it’s not going to work, then take it off so I can play,” Green told a
close friend, according to GolfDigest.com’s Local Knowledge.

I hope Ken Green can still play golf. He already has lost way too much.

−The Armchair Golfer


FREE Drawing for ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
Enter the free drawing at above right (or ARMCHAIR GOLF BLOG) for a hardcover edition of ARE YOU KIDDING ME? The Story of Rocco Mediate’s Extraordinary Battle with Tiger Woods at the U.S. Open. The book is by Rocco Mediate and bestselling author John Feinstein.

Saturday, June 13

ARMCHAIR GOLF Briefs


(Josh V-R/Flickr)

A bevy of golf products, services, destinations, events, news and more. Endorsement is not implied.

GOLF CHANNEL’s Live From the U.S. Open, produced in high definition, will take viewers inside the ropes at Bethpage State Park’s Black Course in New York with 25 hours of live news reports, inside analysis and compelling features in delivering comprehensive, wrap-around live news coverage of the men’s second major championship of 2009.

• Onsite during championship play at the 2009 U.S. Open on June 18-21, American Express is providing CourseCast TV and radio devices to enhance the viewing experience, bringing golf fans even closer to the game they love.

• Between now and June 22nd, golf fans can enter AT&T’s “Favorite Foursome” Sweepstakes through AT&T’s Facebook page or by texting to win. One lucky winner will receive four VIP tickets to the final two days of the 2009 AT&T National Tournament, four round-trip flights, two hotel rooms, transportation passes, access to the Grey Goose® Lounge, and more.

• The World Golf Hall of Fame will open its doors to everyone on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 21 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for its annual Community Day, presented by AT&T Yellow Pages and Last Minute Golfer. The museum will offer complimentary admission to every guest with the opportunity to see the Hall’s featured exhibit, “Bob Hope: Shanks for the Memory.” All dads also will receive a complimentary round on the Hall of Fame’s 18-hole, natural-grass putting course and half-priced admission to one film at the World Golf Hall of Fame IMAX®.

Gaia Napa Valley Hotel & Spa (GaiaNapaValleyHotel.com) has announced some special golf packages for golfers who want to play the links and stay at America’s greenest hotel.

Imperial Headwear (ImperialHeadwear.com) carries a full line of sun protection headwear, including its GT01 and GT08, and the recently acquired Watership by Imperial line. The majority of these products are rated SPEC 50+, and offer technical features that perform exceptionally well in warm weather.

• Now in its 20th year, the American Century Championship, a celebrity golf tournament, will be played at Edgewood Tahoe on July 14-19. The combination of two decades of memories plus sports and entertainment superstars including Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Tony Romo, Ray Romano, Mario Lemieux, Dale Jarrett, Dan Marino, John Elway and Jerry Rice, has made it network television’s longest running celebrity golf tournament. (NBC will have the TV coverage.)

• The golf movie The Greatest Game Ever Played will be released June 16 on Blu-ray.

• The G-4 Swing Trainer (G4SwingTrainer.com) is a lightweight, portable swing trainer that uses a combination of light resistance and repetition to dramatically improve any golfer’s swing.

John Donnelly, vice president of golf media at Golf Channel, will represent Golf Channel on The Environmental Institute for Golf Advisory Council.

• The Maverick National Amateur Championship is a 64 team match-play amateur tournament in North and South Carolina beginning on the first weekend in October. AzaleaGolf.com for more information.

• The Hamptons Golf Classic on June 29th at the Hamptons Hills Golf & Country Club will be the foundation’s fifth anniversary, spearheaded by its founder Zev Norotsky, along with New York Giants’ Justin Tuck and New York Knicks’ Chris Duhon. Each year, celebrities and Hamptonites come together for the daylong golf tournament. This year all proceeds will benefit The Stand Tall Foundation, an organization started by Chris Duhon to help rebuild basketball courts ruined by Hurricane Katrina in Duhon’s home state of Louisiana.

Dynamic Brands recently donated hundreds of AMF junior and adult golf clubs, Bag Boy golf bags, Bag Boy travel covers and practice accessories to The First Tee® of Richmond & Chesterfield.

Tiger Woods PGA TOUR is now available for iPhone & iPod touch (http://bit.ly/TigerWoodsiTunes).

ProStance (Pro-Stance.com) is an inflatable balance aid that ensures weight is concentrated through the center of gravity of the golfer’s body.

• The 2009 PGA Fall Expo in Las Vegas will include exciting Show Specials and new products from some 300 golf vendors; some 20 education and professional development seminars offered on the show floor at no cost; a completely redesigned show floor focusing on buyer interaction, education and networking; plus, lower costs across all participation levels.

• Newly published by the Bodleian Library in Oxford and distributed by the University of Chicago Press, The Original Rules of Golf features the original thirteen Edinburgh rules as written in 1744, as well as the St Andrews rules of 1897. Both sets of rules are reprinted alongside images of the game throughout the centuries.

• The Cady Shaft (CadyShaft.com) is a durable lightweight tube that holds two to four golf clubs, and is designed for use when approaching the green.

−The Armchair Golfer


FREE Drawing for ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
Enter the free drawing at above right (or ARMCHAIR GOLF BLOG) for a hardcover edition of ARE YOU KIDDING ME? The Story of Rocco Mediate’s Extraordinary Battle with Tiger Woods at the U.S. Open. The book is by Rocco Mediate and bestselling author John Feinstein.

Friday, June 12

2009 St. Jude Classic TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2009 ST. JUDE CLASSIC is being played at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee. Brian Gay leads after a rain-shortened second round.

Purse: $5.6 million
Winner’s share: $1.008 million
Defending champion: Justin Leonard

The field
TPC Southwind info
St. Jude Classic interview transcripts

2009 St. Jude Classic Tournament Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

Twelve hours of TV coverage are on tap for the 2009 St. Jude Classic.

Thu, 6/11:
GOLF 3:30p - 6:30p ET

Fri, 6/12:
GOLF 3:30p - 6:30p ET

Sat, 6/13:
CBS 3p - 6p ET

Sun, 6/14:
CBS 3p - 6p ET

PGA Tour radio coverage

−The Armchair Golfer

FREE Drawing for ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
Enter the free drawing at above right (or ARMCHAIR GOLF BLOG) for a hardcover edition of ARE YOU KIDDING ME? The Story of Rocco Mediate’s Extraordinary Battle with Tiger Woods at the U.S. Open. The book is by Rocco Mediate and bestselling author John Feinstein.

What Women Want: A Guide to ‘Women-Friendly’ Golf Facilities


(The Image Group/Flickr)

(Editor’s note: June is Women’s Golf Month, and the Executive Women’s Golf Association has several well-researched ideas on how golf facilities can make the game more accessible and enjoyable for women. Headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, the Executive Women’s Golf Association was founded in 1991 and has 18,000 members.)

Contributed by EWGA
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


WHAT MAKES A GOLF COURSE “WOMEN FRIENDLY”?

It starts with the right attitude and a sincere commitment to reach out to women golfers, according to Pam Swensen, CEO of the Executive Women’s Golf Association (EWGA).

EWGA offers a program to earn an official designation as a women-friendly facility, open to all golf facilities participating in the EWGA Golf Club Network. To merit the special designation, a facility must meet certain criteria rated on playability of the course and customer experience.

Golf courses, resorts, practice facilities, golf academies and other instructional facilities can join the EWGA Golf Club Network, which is designed to increase rounds and revenue while encouraging more women to play golf.

“At the golf course, women don’t want to feel they are being treated differently, they just want to be taken seriously,” says Swensen.

“This recognition program is a way for us to distinguish golf courses and companies who understand the value of providing women-friendly facilities.”

Providing women-friendly facilities also can make good economic sense for golf-facility operators.

A 2008 survey of EWGA members conducted by the PGA of America found that the average EWGA member plays 32 rounds per year. And EWGA members spent an average of $4,296 on golf activities, merchandise and golf-related travel.

Playability


What do women want? A golf course that presents a fun, challenging playable option for women of all golf-skill levels. Following are some playability criteria:

At least two sets of tees rated for women.

Tees should fall in the following range:
• 4,600 – 5,300 yards for the 1st set
• 5,300 – 5,800 yards for the 2nd set
• Extra credit for having a 3rd set of rated tees with one 5800 yards or longer

Carries from the forward tees are limited to 50 yards or less for the majority of holes.

Drop areas provide for carries over 50 yards from the forward tees and more than 100 yards from the 2nd set of tees.

Slope and rating data and course handicap conversion tables for women are in an obvious and easily accessible area.

Distance markers are available inside 100 yards.

Customer Experience


What do women want? To have a positive experience at the facility, feeling they are welcomed and their needs are being met. Following are some customer experience criteria:

Staff has a consistent approach to all players regardless of gender; this includes all staff from the pro shop to the bag staff and the marshals.

At least 10 percent of the golf course staff are women.

Equal services are provided to men and women:
• If club fitting is offered, staff is well trained to fit equipment for women and offers equipment for women golfers if various skill levels
• If clothing is sold, an adequate selection of women’s clothing is available in a variety of styles and sizes.

Facilities are relatively equal for men and women:
• Tee boxes are maintained in equal condition and have similar basic amenities (ball washers, trash cans, etc.)
• Clean, pleasant restrooms are available at least every six holes on the golf course.
• Women are not barred from any area of the facility with the exception of a men’s locker room.

“Clean bathrooms on the course, tee boxes that are not an after thought, mirrors in the fitting room − it’s really very basic what can make a significant difference in a woman’s golf experience,” says Swensen.

“And a satisfied woman customer means more business − it’s the power of the purse.”

To learn more, including how to join the EWGA Golf Club Network and earn the women-friendly designation, visit EWGA.com.

Thursday, June 11

2009 McDonald's LPGA Championship TV Schedule and Notes

THE 2009 MCDONALD’S LPGA CHAMPIONSHIP, the year’s second major on the LPGA Tour, is underway at Bulle Rock Golf Club in Havre de Grace, Maryland.

Purse: $2 million
Defending champion: Yani Tseng

Tournament preview
Pre-tournament interviews
Complete field

2009 McDonald’s LPGA Championship Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

Twelve hours of TV coverage are on tap for the 2009 McDonald’s LPGA Championship.

Thurs, Jun 11
12:30-3:30 PM ET GOLF CHANNEL

Fri, Jun 1
2
12:30-3:30 PM ET GOLF CHANNEL

Sat, Jun 13
4:00-7:00 PM ET GOLF CHANNEL

Sun, Jun 14
4:00-7:00 PM ET GOLF CHANNEL

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, June 10

Tseng Defends at McDonald’s LPGA Championship

(Keith Allison/Flickr)

SHE DIDN’T PLAY LIKE a rookie. First-year LPGA Tour player Yani Tseng shot 65-68 on the weekend and outlasted Marie Hjorth in a four-hole sudden-death playoff to win the 2008 McDonald’s LPGA Championship at Bulle Rock.

It was quite a twofer for Tseng − both her first LPGA Tour win and first major. And it helped propel Tseng up the women’s world golf rankings, where she now sits at No. 2 behind Lorena Ochoa. She went on to be selected as the 2008 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year.

Recently coming off her second LPGA Tour win at the 2009 Corning Classic, Tseng is primed for her first title defense. Uncorking tee shots with her Adams Golf driver, Tseng is the longest hitter on the women’s circuit, averaging more than 275 yards. This week she returns to the same course where her power game helped separate her from the field.

The year’s second major, the McDonald’s LPGA Championship appears to be wide open. No player has dominated the season thus far. Ochoa is the only multiple winner, but she hasn’t shown the same form as in the past two seasons.

In a media conference call last Thursday, Golf Channel’s Beth Daniel and Dottie Pepper both wondered if Cristie Kerr might grab her second major. With a win at the Michelob ULTRA Open and other top finishes, Kerr is definitely having a good season. She narrowly missed winning the Kraft Nabisco Championship when she stumbled on one of the closing holes.

On another note, this will be McDonald’s final year as the sponsor of the LPGA Championship, more bad news for the LPGA Tour.

“There’s so many tournaments up for renewal,” Kerr said. “It can be pretty overwhelming thinking about it.”

“It’s unfortunate,” Paula Creamer said. “McDonald’s has been a wonderful sponsor for the LPGA Tour and it’s sad that we have lost them.”

As for her chances this week to win the final McDonald’s LPGA Championship and her first major, Creamer said, “I feel like I’m a tough competitor and I feel like it’s about timing. Hopefully, I can put four good rounds of golf together.”

Tseng File

Turned pro: 2007
Birthplace: Taiwan
Residence: Orlando, Florida
World ranking: 2
Professional wins: 4
LPGA Tour wins: 2
Major wins: 1
Equipment: Adams Golf

−The Armchair Golfer

Brought to you by The World of Golf and ARMCHAIR GOLF STORE.

Tuesday, June 9

ARMCHAIR GOLF Blogarama

(Mike Licht/Flickr)

Stephanie Wei talks to LPGA Tour player Christina Kim about Kim wearing a mike during the first round of next week’s McDonald’s LPGA Championship at Bulle Rock. (Wei Under Par)

Ryan Ballengee interviews Mike Davis of the USGA, the famed U.S. Open setup man. (Waggle Room)

Heather Jones fires a 37 and posts her scorecard as proof. (Real Women Golf)

Shane Bacon blogs about what it would be like to live next door to Dwight Howard and Chris DiMarco. (Golf Fanhouse)

Jay Busbee covers U.S. Open sectional qualifying at Devil Ball Golf.

Bob Smiley has a “photo exclusive” of Tiger Woods prepping for the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. (Fore Right)

Robert Bruce begins a golf pet peeve series. (Game Under Repair)

Geoff Shackelford passes along news on the president’s frequent golf outings. (Geoff Shackelford)

For more golf buzz, check out the sidebar for links to a bevy of golf blogs, golf media and other golf sites.

−The Armchair Golfer

Monday, June 8

Help Me Ban ‘Unbelievable’ from Tiger Vocabulary


Tiger Woods is believable. (Keith Allison/Flickr)

LISTEN UP, GOLF WORLD. I heard it again yesterday on the golf telecast, although I can’t recall who said it. Someone used the word “unbelievable” to describe something Tiger Woods did en route to a final-round 65 and a come-from-behind victory at the Memorial Tournament.

Oh, really?

Because I no longer find anything Tiger does on a golf course to be unbelievable. Why? Because I’ve seen it − oh, I don’t know − about a GAZILLION TIMES since the mid 1990s.

So yesterday when Tiger chipped it in from out of the cabbage for eagle on the 11th hole, when he birdied the last two holes to win by one stroke, and when he hit his approach shot on the final hole to 14 inches, I didn’t jump out of my armchair. I didn’t pump my fist. I didn’t shake my head in disbelief. I didn’t even raise an eyebrow.

Not unbelievable, believable. It’s Tiger.

Still, there are those who insist after all these years that Tiger is “unbelievable.” Not to single anyone out, Jim Nantz. (And the entire CBS golf crew, NBC golf crew, Golf Channel, other golf media and basically everybody.)

And how about you, Google? You’re in on this, too. “Tiger Woods unbelievable” returns more than 100,000 results, including this headline and story from today’s Calgary Herald:

Tiger ‘unbelievable’ in Memorial rally

People, where have you been?

I’ve been watching this for 15 years. Just how many chip-ins, monster putts and stuffed iron shots do you need to see from Tiger for it to be “believable”? How many times does Tiger have to spook the other players and snatch the trophy?

(For those counting, yesterday was Tiger’s 67th PGA Tour victory, including 14 majors. And at 33, he’s still in his prime.)

Can we just drop “unbelievable” from the Tiger vocabulary starting today?

Sign the Tiger Is Believable Petition


You can help by signing the Tiger Is Believable Petition. It’s a simple show of support that only takes a few seconds.

I admit I’m new at this petition thing. In fact, this is my first one. But sometimes you have to wait for the right cause to come along, something that’s truly important. I hope you’ll join me in this worthy cause. I think if I can collect three signatures, the momentum will really start to build.

−The Armchair Golfer

Sunday, June 7

Free Drawing for Rocco’s Book, ‘ARE YOU KIDDING ME?’

“NEVER IN MY WILDEST DREAMS did I ever think I’d be involved in a book like this one,” says Rocco Mediate in the Foreword of ARE YOU KIDDING ME? The Story of Rocco Mediate’s Extraordinary Battle with Tiger Woods at the U.S. Open.

I’m currently reading the book and have learned a lot about Rocco and all that led up to his amazing showdown with Tiger at Torrey Pines last June. I also have some great news for you. The publisher has told me that I can give away up to five copies of the book.

So, I invite you to enter the free drawing at right (or ARMCHAIR GOLF BLOG) for a hardcover edition of ARE YOU KIDDING ME? The Story of Rocco Mediate’s Extraordinary Battle with Tiger Woods at the U.S. Open. The book is by Rocco and bestselling author John Feinstein.

I plan on leaving the drawing up through the U.S. Open, but I encourage you to enter right away. And tell a friend, too.

UPDATE: The drawing is now closed. Sorry if you missed it, but please continue to visit ARMCHAIR GOLF for future drawings. Thanks.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, June 6

Getting to Know Memorial Leader Matt Bettencourt

I SAW NONE of the third round of the Memorial Tournament. So when I checked the leaderboard my first thought was, “Matt who?”

Matt Bettencourt, a 34-year-old PGA Tour rookie, shares the 54-hole lead with Mark Wilson at nine under par. A posse of name players are on their tail.

Bettencourt can play. You don’t get in Jack’s tournament or lead on Saturday night unless you know your way around the golf course. Bettencourt carded eight birdies today en route to a 68.

Last year Bettencourt won the 2008 Nationwide Tour Championship. In 16 PGA Tour events in 2009, he’s made seven cuts and had just one finish in the top 25. Not exactly the kind of numbers that would indicate he’s ready to win on golf’s biggest stage. Still, Matt’s leading the golf tournament and I’m writing about a guy I’ve never heard of.

Bettencourt is from California and attended Modesto Junior College. Michael Jordan, Payne Stewart and his dad are his heroes. He has a twin sister named Michelle. That’s all I know about him.

Bettencourt has a lot of work to do on Sunday. It will be a nerve-wracking day at the office. I wish him the best.

−The Armchair Golfer


FREE Drawing for ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
Enter the free drawing at above right (or ARMCHAIR GOLF BLOG) for a hardcover edition of ARE YOU KIDDING ME? The Story of Rocco Mediate’s Extraordinary Battle with Tiger Woods at the U.S. Open. The book is by Rocco Mediate and bestselling author John Feinstein.

Friday, June 5

2009 LPGA State Farm Classic TV Schedule and Notes

THE 2009 LPGA STATE FARM CLASSIC is underway at Panther Creek Country Club in Springfield, Illinois. Se Ri Pak and Suzann Pettersen are the 36-hole leaders.

Purse: $1.7 million
Defending champion: Ji Young Oh

Complete field
Tournament Web site

2009 LPGA State Farm Classic Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

More than eight hours of TV coverage are on tap for the 2009 LPGA State Farm Classic.

Jun 06 : NBC
3:00-5:00 PM ET

Jun 06 : ESPN2
5:00-7:00 PM ET

Jun 07 : ESPN2
1:00-3:00 PM ET

Jun 07 : NBC
4:00-6:00 PM ET

−The Armchair Golfer

King of Golf Cartoons: ‘Nasty Slice’


Copyright © Jerry King. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

What is the nastiest slice or other off-line shot you’ve ever hit? Where did the ball end up?

−The Armchair Golfer

Jerry King is an award-winning cartoonist whose credits and clients include Golf Digest, United States Golf Association and Disney. His golf cartoons are regularly featured at ARMCHAIR GOLF.

Thursday, June 4

2009 Memorial Tournament TV Schedule and Notes

THE 2009 MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT, hosted by Jack Nicklaus, is underway at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.

Purse: $6 million
Winner’s share: $1.08 million
Defending champion: Kenny Perry

Inside the field
Inside the course
Memorial Tournament Web site

2009 Memorial Tournament Leaderboard

TV SCHEDULE

More than 12 hours of TV coverage are on tap for the 2009 Memorial Tournament.

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

Fri, 6/5:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Sat, 6/6:
CBS 3p - 6p ET

Sun, 6/7:
CBS 2:30p - 6p ET

PGA Tour radio coverage

−The Armchair Golfer

Wednesday, June 3

Tiger Woods: ‘I Just Need More Repetitions’


Tiger Woods. (Keith Allison/Flickr)

OK, HERE’S SOMETHING I LIKE about Tiger Woods. Tiger writes a pretty good newsletter. I know it gets delivered to the email inboxes of a gazillion other people, but I’m alright with that.

The one I received yesterday from Tiger was particularly newsy. He sounds like he’s ready to play this week.

“I’m looking forward to competing again at the Memorial Tournament,” Tiger wrote. “I’ve been working hard on my game since The Players Championship, although we’ve had a lot of rain recently in the Orlando area.”

Typical Tiger, he sounded an upbeat note about his play thus far in 2009, saying, “I just need more repetitions.” You can bet he’s looking ahead to Bethpage, just two weeks away.

“The U.S. Open will be here soon. I’m definitely going to try to go to Bethpage to play and take a look at the course. They’ve made a few changes since I won there in 2002 and I want to check them out.”

Notice how he mentioned “since I won there.” With the Masters in his rear-view mirror (and no win), I’m sure Tiger is committed to a strong defense of his U.S. Open title and anxious to add to his major wins count. He needs five to break Jack’s record. It’s time to get those Nike golf clubs clicking.

The newsletter also covered Tiger Jam, Amy Mickelson’s breast cancer diagnosis, the death of Bob Rosburg, World Golf Hall of Fame inductee Jose Maria Olazabal and the Lakers-Magic matchup in the NBA Finals.

Tiger, I have one suggestion: Get off the fence on the Lakers-Magic series. You’re for the Lakers. It’s OK. Just say it.

Woods File

Turned pro: 1996
Birthplace: Cypress, California
College: Stanford University
World ranking: 1
PGA Tour wins: 66
Major wins: 14
Equipment: Nike

−The Armchair Golfer

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