Wednesday, August 31

The PGA of America Turns 95

By PGA of America

THE PGA OF AMERICA MARKED its 95th year on Wednesday by returning to the site of its founding, the Radisson Martinique on Broadway in New York City. The world’s largest sports organization and historic hotel celebrated the occasion by opening a permanent PGA history exhibit.

A reception featured PGA of America officials, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Dave Anderson and John Wanamaker-Leas, the great grandson of department store magnate Rodman Wanamaker. Wanamaker hosted The PGA’s first organizational meeting in 1916 and later donated a trophy that became the signature hardware of the PGA Championship.

The PGA of America’s founding on April 10, 1916 took place on the second floor of then-named Hotel Martinique, where a constitution was formed, a charter signed and 78 individuals were elected into PGA membership.

Today, The PGA of America represents 27,000 men and women professionals, upholding the solemn pledge of its founders to be leaders on all levels of golf and to grow interest and participation in the game.

“The PGA of America takes pride in the commitment of its men and women member professionals who after 95 years have elevated themselves by their dedication to a sport that elevates the human spirit on many levels,” said PGA of America President Allen Wronowski.

Opening in 1898 and completing a renovation last year, the Radisson Martinique unveiled a PGA of America photographic history exhibit on its second floor and dedicated the boardroom where The PGA of America founding fathers signed the association’s charter almost a century ago.

More coverage of The PGA of America’s history and 95th anniversary

Tuesday, August 30

NPR: ‘The Best Player You Probably Never Heard Of’

ON FRIDAY NPR’S MORNING EDITION spent three minutes and 57 seconds telling its large audience about a “little-known” golf phenom named Yani Tseng, the world No. 1 player who is dominating the LPGA Tour and crashing the record books.

Reported Tom Goldman:
Tseng has been powering and smiling her way around golf courses—and making history. She has already done something that no one who has swung a golf club has done before: At the relatively tender age of 22, Tseng has won five major championships.

Tiger Woods was 24 when he won his fifth major. The legendary Patty Berg, who holds the LPGA record with 15 Grand Slam titles, was 25. Hall-of-Famer Annika Sorenstam was 32.
Goldman went on to call Tseng a triple threat, possessing accuracy, touch and power. The tour’s longest hitter, she averages nearly 270 yards off the tee. He also explained that while popular in Asia, where she is stopped on the street, Tseng goes largely unrecognized here as a non-American on the U.S-based LPGA Tour.

“Come on, people,” Goldman said. “Five majors.”

Such is ladies’ golf, especially if you’re from Taiwan and still learning English. Tseng seems to take it all in stride. Currently the most dominant player in the game, she deserves all the attention she can get.

Listen to NPR’s report on Yani Tseng

The next tournament on the LPGA Tour schedule is the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship on September 9-11. The defending champion is Yani Tseng.

−The Armchair Golfer

Monday, August 29

Fifth Time Is a Charm for Thomas Bjorn

FIVE WAS THE NUMBER at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in Scotland. Five players—George Coetzee, Bernd Wiesberger, Pablo Larrazabal, Mark Foster and Thomas Bjorn—completed 72 holes at 11 under par. The five men headed back out to the 18th tee to settle the matter in a sudden-death playoff.

It took a while. The men played the 18th, a par 5, five times to decide the championship. The last two men standing were Bjorn and Coetzee, and then it was just Bjorn when his South African opponent couldn’t match his third straight birdie on the finishing hole.

It was Bjorn’s 12th career title on the European Tour and second victory this season.

“I’m delighted,” Bjorn said. “The way I played the last three playoff holes, I couldn’t be more proud. When I’m under the cosh I feel pretty calm and good.”

Foster was not delighted. A bogey at the 72nd hole prevented the Englishman from capturing his first tour win since 2005. Foster dropped out of the playoff after a bogey on the fourth extra hole.

While Hurricane Irene shortened The Barclays in New Jersey, fog and swarms of wasps disrupted play at Gleneagles. But the fog cleared and left a sunny Bjorn to contemplate his first-ever playoff win—and his first win since turning 40.

“If life begins at 40, then I’ve made a pretty good start!” he exclaimed.

It has been a very good year for the Dane, who now finds himself just outside the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Bjorn won the Qatar Masters in February and led the British Open at Royal St. George’s before finishing fourth. Fourteen months ago he won the Portuguese Open, breaking a four-year victory drought.

Indeed, Bjorn, which means bear in Danish, is looking strong at 40.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, August 27

‘Golfing With Dad’ and Other Golf Titles

THE GOLF BOOKS HAVE BEEN piling up in my email inbox and elsewhere. So let’s run through some of them.

Golfing With Dad: The Game’s Greatest Players Reflect on Their Fathers and the Game They Love
By David Barrett
A heartwarming collection of golf’s best players’ favorite memories with their fathers and how those memories shaped them not only as players, but the men they are today. More

Deane Beman: Golf’s Driving Force
By Adam Schupak
The inside story of the man who transformed professional golf into a billion dollar business. More

The Swinger: A Novel
By Michael Bamberger and Alan Shipnuck
The most famous athlete on the planet is a bit off his game. More

FOUR DAYS IN JULY: Tom Watson, the 2009 Open Championship, and a Tournament for the Ages
By Jim Huber
“Jim Huber’s book captures those magical four days superbly.” —Peter Alliss, golfer and BBC commentator. Q&A at ARMCHAIR GOLF

The Nine Tenths Rule
By Stephen E. Mitchell
A Bainbridge Diaries golf themed legal mystery novel (Kindle Edition). More

Brassies, Mashies, and Bootleg Scotch: Growing Up on America’s First Heroic Golf Course
By Bill Kilpatrick
Bil Kilpatrick’s memoir of growing up on golf courses is at once a window on another time—when golf was played mainly with balata balls, hickory shafts, and handmade spoons, mashies, and cleeks—and a ground-level view of what maintaining a golf course meant when artisanship, instinct and experience carried the day. More

The Hershey Hurricane
By Seamus McGee
A biographical account of Henry Picard, a top PGA Tour player in the 1930s and 1940s (26 tour wins) and mentor to Ben Hogan and others. More

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, August 26

Paul Harney, 1929-2011

SIX-TIME PGA TOUR WINNER Paul Harney died this week. You would have to be a student of golf history to know Harney, who played alongside greats such as Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Billy Casper. Along with the legendary Francis Ouimet, Harney is considered to be one of the best golfers to hail from Massachusetts. He attended Holy Cross and was captain of the golf team. Harney joined the PGA Tour in 1955 and played the circuit full time through 1962. His first victory came at the 1957 Carling Open. A second win followed two weeks later at the Labatt Open.

A dedicated family man, Harney became a part-time player in 1963 when his oldest child (he and wife Patricia would raise six children) entered school. He took a club pro job in Northern California and then returned to his native Massachusetts to work for Pleasant Valley Country Club in Sutton.

Harney still managed to compete and win as a part-time player on the PGA Tour. He won three more events, the last trophy coming at the 1972 San Diego Open where he edged Hale Irwin by a stroke. He won no majors but did have six top 10s, including a fourth at the 1963 U.S. Open. He was 0 for 4 in playoffs. Three losses came to Palmer, one to Tony Lema.

Harney’s kids now run the golf course (Paul Harney Golf Club) their dad opened in Falmouth using prize money from his win in San Diego. Son Mike is the head pro. Daughter Erin is the general manager. In 2006, Mike recalled his dad’s days on the winter tour, a family affair.

“The family station wagon was dad’s office,” he said at golholycross.com. “We’d all jump in the car and go to work with him.”

Harney and family would log 10,000 miles in the station wagon driving from event to event. In 1971 the part-time player finished in the money in 14 of 15 tournaments, earning in excess of $40,000. That was good money in those days.

Later, Harney made $436,063 on the fledgling Senior Tour, more than what he collected in 18 years on the PGA Tour.

“I’ve been lucky,” Harney said in 2006. “Holy Cross gave me a tremendous education and the Jesuits gave me a good perspective. Patti gave me six terrific children, and now we have 14 grandkids.”

−The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, August 25

2011 Barclays TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2011 BARCLAYS, THE FIRST EVENT of the FedEx Cup Playoffs is off to a weather-interrupted start at the Plainfield Country Club in Edison, New Jersey. With the rain-delayed first round still in progress, Harrison Frazar is the early leader at 7 under.

The tournament is expected to be threatened by Hurricane Irene as the storm moves up the Atlantic coastline this weekend. PGA Tour officials are mulling their options for completing the first leg of the playoffs. One is to play 36 holes on Saturday and award the trophy before Irene reaches New Jersey. Another option is to finish on Monday or Tuesday.


Purse: $8 million
Winner’s share: $1.35 million
Defending champion: Matt Kuchar (at right)

2011 Barclays Leaderboard

Field
Course
Tee times
Interviews
Tournament overview
Tournament news
Tour report
FedEx Cup guidebook


TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2011 Barclays is on Golf Channel and CBS.

Thursday, August 25
3-6 p.m. - Golf Channel

Friday, August 26
3-6 p.m. - Golf Channel

Saturday, August 27
1-2:30 p.m. - Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m. - CBS

Sunday, August 28
12-1:30 p.m. - Golf Channel, 2-6 p.m. - CBS

SIRIUS-XM broadcast times


−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: Keith Allison, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Wednesday, August 24

Let the FedEx Cup Playoffs Begin




THE FEDEX CUP PLAYOFFS get underway on Thursday with The Barclays at Plainfield Country Club in Edison, New Jersey. The four-event playoff series, which includes the Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW Championship, concludes in Atlanta with the Tour Championship.

After much criticism and formula tinkering, the FedEx Cup points race has slowly gained acceptance. No, it’s not the majors or the Ryder Cup. No, it can’t compete with football. But it’s far better than the days when everyone tuned out after the PGA Championship. With all that cash up for grabs, the top PGA Tour players surely welcome the playoffs and gladly play deep into the month of September. That’s good for core golf fans.

Above are PGATour.com’s top 10 shots from The Barclays. I remembered three of the shots. Four, actually. After seeing it again, I did recall Sergio Garcia’s putt in his 2008 playoff against Vijay Singh. Of course, I also remembered Vijay’s long one that he made on top of Sergio. And there was Matt Kuchar’s iron out of the rough to three feet. That was last year.

I think Heath Slocum got robbed, though. Slocum’s tournament-winning 20-footer in 2009—the biggest putt of his life and the one that beat Tiger Woods—is No. 6 on the list.

Really? Only No. 6?

That’s just wrong.

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, August 23

9 Returning Players on U.S. Solheim Cup Team

U.S. SOLHEIM CUP CAPTAIN Rosie Jones called forming her team “an extremely exciting and difficult selection process.” Jones made two captain’s picks—veteran Vicky Hurst and LPGA Tour rookie Ryann O’Toole. That may have been the hard part, but the rest of the 12-player squad—all automatic qualifiers based on a points system—looks like it was as easy as an 18-inch putt.

This year’s U.S. Solheim Cup team will include nine of the players that won the Cup two years ago at Rich Harvest Farms west of Chicago, Illinois. They are world No. 2 Cristie Kerr, Morgan Pressel, Angela Stanford, Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie, Brittany Lincicome, Brittany Lang, Christina Kim and Juli Inkster. Stacy Lewis, a Solheim Cup rookie, was the other player to make the team on points.

In addition to playing, Inkster will serve as an assistant captain to Jones. Playing will come first said the 51-year-old Inkster, the oldest player to compete in The Solheim Cup.

“I feel like most of my career I’ve worn two hats as a mom and as a player,” Inkster said in reference to her dual Solheim Cup roles, “but it will be a challenge.”

The European Solheim Cup Team will be announced on August 29. Alison Nicholas will serve as captain. Melissa Reid, Laura Davies, Suzann Pettersen and Christel Boeljon have already made the team based on the Ladies European Tour point standings.

The Solheim Cup will be played at Killeen Castle in Ireland on September 23-25.

−The Armchair Golfer

Monday, August 22

God Puts Long Putter in Bag

THE GROWING POPULARITY OF THE long putter has now spread from country club gates to the pearly gates, as God Almighty announced in a statement that he has added the “broomstick” to his set after a few experimental practice sessions. The creator of the universe has watched with interest as players have won with long putters for three consecutive weeks on the PGA Tour.

Adam Scott was the first, rolling to an impressive win at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. PGA Tour rookie Keegan Bradley followed, winning the PGA Championship with a belly putter in his first major appearance. And on Sunday in Greensboro, North Carolina, Webb Simpson claimed his maiden PGA Tour victory using a long putter.

The strong momentum of the long putter among the professional ranks caught the attention of God—who historically is not easy to impress—and was the impetus for the switch.

The Lord admitted that he putted “very well” with a conventional putter but wanted to try the long putter to see what all the fuss was about.

God expected some good-natured barbs from St. Peter, who is part of his regular group, but said with a chuckle, “I can handle Simon Peter. I’ve long known his weaknesses, both on and off the golf course.”

God characterized himself as a recreational golfer, yet declined to reveal how many rounds he has logged this year. Asked how much he plays, God simply said, “More than the Pope and less than President Obama.”

Next up, he added, is one of his favorite golf outings, the annual father-son tournament.

−The Armchair Golfer

Related:
Weary of Golf, God Rains Out Viking Classic

(This is an ARMCHAIR GOLF spoof.)

Saturday, August 20

Win Callaway Golf Clubs in GolfChannel.com Sweepstakes

By Golf Channel

CELEBRATING ITS RECENT RE-LAUNCH, GolfChannel.com has launched an online sweepstakes titled “New Site. New Set.” that will award Callaway Golf equipment to daily and weekly winners. Fans can enter-to-win at www.GolfChannel.com/WinClubs.

A daily winner will be awarded a Callaway driver, hybrid, 3-wood, or wedge. Each week, one winner will be randomly selected to receive a new set of Callaway RAZR X irons (four weekly winners in total). The New Site. New Set. promotion runs through Sept. 11. Fans are eligible to enter the contest once per day.

“More sports fans have been turning to GolfChannel.com every day for breaking news and information,” said Tom Stathakes, Golf Channel senior vice president of programming, production and operations.

“The New Site. New Set. promotion provides another way for us to connect with our existing users, as well as creates a new opportunity to attract new fans to experience everything the site has to offer.”

In June, Golf Channel unveiled a complete redesign of GolfChannel.com. The redesign features enhanced editorial content and video for expanded coverage of the game; integrates the leading online tee-time booking service GolfNow.com; provides easy access to instruction and equipment; and offers a more robust user community experience—all working to help golfers play better, and play more often.

Friday, August 19

A Golfer Looks at 60

By Charles Prokop
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


Copyright © Charles Prokop. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

JIMMY BUFFET LEADS OFF the B side of his 1974 album A1A with A Pirate Looks At 40. The song is the musings of a lover of the sea, looking back on the years so far. I’ve been doing something similar, but much less poetic and smaller scale. I’ve been looking back on my last five years or so of golf, the years that bridge my 60th birthday.

My golf scores have followed a regular pattern. My handicap goes up in the winter, creeping into the double digits by February or so. It then begins a slide down through the warmer weather, reaching a minimum around October. It then holds for a while, waiting to begin its upward creep as the weather cools.

I stayed in single digits all winter this year, and my handicap is sliding down a little faster than usual this summer. So what’s different?

I’m not playing more this year. In fact, I’m playing a little less. That may actually be a good thing, because when I play I’m more eager for the game. I’m not practicing more, either. I haven’t been to the range except to hit a few warm-up balls, and with the exception of a little putting on the carpet, I haven’t worked on my short game.

I’m playing with irons that fit me better. I got my new set last year, and I know I’m hitting them more solidly more often, so that may be some of it.

I’ve lost a few pounds, but not many. I’ve always been in decent shape, and I haven’t done anything serious to get into better shape, so I doubt that’s a significant factor. I have found that oatmeal makes a good breakfast, and it holds me longer into the round than most other meals. (Try it with brown sugar, cinnamon, dried cherries and strawberries. And use the stuff you really cook—not instant. It’s good.)

But there has been one change that makes the most sense to me. I’m paying attention. As I mentioned in Report to the Sand Crab, I’ve recently been tracking my greens in regulation and number of putts. There’s substantial psychological data that shows that just measuring a behavior is likely to lead to a change. Keep records of your calories, and you’re likely to consume fewer just because you’re paying attention. It’s kind of like the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle—measuring something changes it.

More than that, I’ve been trying to keep my head in the game and not get distracted by stray thoughts or other people’s games. I’m trying to enjoy Stooge Ball at the same time I keep my head in my own game. I’m trying to stay in the moment, whether the moment is ridiculing the Chipping Lizard for his last shot or it’s going into the cone of silence so I can focus on my own shot.

So we’ll see how it goes, and if it holds up. I’m betting it’s the oatmeal.

Charles Prokop is a clinical psychologist who writes about golf at fairwaywords.

(Photo credit: smiteme, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

VIDEO: Caddie Interviews for Former World No. 1



IN CASE YOU ARE wondering how the caddie interviews are going for a certain
former world No. 1 player, above is a sneak peek from ESPN Golf.

Nothing is easy. Nothing.

−The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, August 18

Golf Digest: Are You as Athletic as a Tour Pro?

YOU’VE PROBABLY SEEN THE periodic stories that question whether golf is a sport and whether those fancy-pants tour pros are athletes. They’re good fun, right? Often they’re accompanied by photos of players of the Mark Calcavecchia and Tim Herron variety.

Well, Golf Digest is throwing out a challenge in its September issue: “Are you as athletic as a tour pro?”

It’s no joke. It’s a part of the magazine’s athletes issue. Functional Movements System founder Gray Cook wants to “test your fitness with basic competency, core stability and balance exercises.”

If you can do this stuff, then Golf Digest says “you have the potential for greatness.” And if you can’t, you might not want to make fun of guys who wear white belts and chase golf balls for a living.

TAKE THE GOLF DIGEST COMBINE AND SEE HOW YOU STACK UP

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: Keith Allison, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Wednesday, August 17

The Ladies Return to Action in Portland

IT HAS BEEN A WHILE since the LPGA Tour has teed it up in the United States. It was nearly six weeks ago the U.S. Women’s Open wrapped up at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. The Evian Masters, Women’s British Open and two lengthy breaks have filled the weeks since.

On Friday the ladies will begin play in the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola at Pumpkin Ridge near Portland, Oregon. The event, which began at the outset of Watergate, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

The long-running tournament will have a stellar field, with 48 of the LPGA’s top 50 money winners and the top seven players in the Rolex Rankings. The top seven are world No. 1 Yani Tseng, Cristie Kerr, Suzann Pettersen, Jiyai Shin, Na Yeon Choi, I.K. Kim and Ai Miyazato. Another win for Tseng would be her fifth LPGA title and eighth worldwide victory this year.

Safeway advertises low prices, but will the Safeway Classic have low scores? Perhaps. But the 6,552-yard par-72 Ghost Creek Golf Course at Pumpkin Ridge isn’t necessarily a pushover. Last year’s winning 54-hole total was 11 under by Ai Miyazato.

Golf Channel has the TV coverage (in the evening), 6:30 – 9:30 ET on Friday and Saturday and 7 – 9:30 ET on Sunday.

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, August 16

Keegan Bradley Proud of Irish Heritage

Editor’s note: Brian Keogh is a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a contributor to The Irish Times, Golf Digest Ireland and other golf publications. The following excerpt from Brian’s Irish Golf Desk is used with permission.

By Brian Keogh
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


HEROIC US PGA CHAMPION Keegan Bradley wants to dig up his Irish roots and make an appearance in the Irish Open. And his legendary aunt Pat Bradley—a Hall of Fame player and the winner of six major titles—reckons it was his “Irish toughness” that helped him come back from a 15th hole triple bogey to snatch the Wanamaker Trophy from Jason Dufner after a heart-stopping play-off.

Auntie Pat, whose grandparents hailed from Ballycotton in Cork, insisted: “He showed some Bradley toughness.

“We’re an Irish family and we have that Irish toughness and he showed that today. I am just so very proud of him the way he fought back and brought it home.”

Pat, 60, won 31 LPGA events in a Hall of Fame career including three majors in 1986 alone. Her mother Kathleen celebrated her wins by ringing a cow bell in their home town of Westford, Massachusetts. The cow bell is now in the Hall of Fame but Auntie Pat grabbed a ship’s bell on Sunday night to ring in her nephew’s second tour win and his first major in his first major start.

She said: “It’s a wonderful win to honour his father, who is a PGA pro for many many years and Keegan’s honoured his dad with this win. I’m going to ring the bell after this.”

The Bradley clan are regular visitors to Ireland, where Pat is an honorary member of Kenmare and the Old Head of Kinsale, where some of her major trophies are on display. Three of her six brothers—Chris, Tom and John—regularly tee it up in the annual Brothers International Golf Classic at Kenmare, winning it in 2001.

And that’s why golf’s latest major champion is keen to show his Irish cousins his skills by making an Irish Open appearance some day.

Keegan said: “I’m really proud of my Irish heritage. I have a shamrock on my bag and my logo’s a shamrock too.

“The Bradley family is intensely Irish and my aunt is very proud of her roots in Cork and so am I. She goes over there every year with my uncles when they play in the Brothers Tournament.

“I went over when I was about eight in 1994 but I can’t remember too much about it so I really want to go back again. I’d really love to return to Ireland and play in the Irish Open some day. That would be really cool.”

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

Monday, August 15

‘Rapid Rewards’ for Keegan Bradley at PGA Championship




PGA TOUR ROOKIE KEEGAN BRADLEY won the 93rd PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club in his first appearance in a major.

Back in a moment.

Did you know that FedEx will ship your golf clubs to most any destination? We understand. Nothing’s more important than your clubs.

Bradley, who earlier this year won the HP Byron Nelson Championship, birdied two of the last three holes after carding a disastrous triple bogey on the par-3 15th to force a playoff with front-runner Jason Dufner. Dufner stumbled on the closing four-hole stretch, making three consecutive bogeys.

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On the first hole of the three-hole aggregate playoff, Dufner nearly holed his approach shot.

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“I’m disappointed now,” Dufner said, “but there’s a lot of good things to take from this week.”

Don’t go away.

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“I just kept telling myself, ‘Don’t let that [15th] hole define this whole tournament,’” said Bradley, the nephew of LPGA Hall of Famer Pat Bradley.

A quick timeout.

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Bradley won the three-hole aggregate playoff by one stroke to win the year’s final major, “Glory’s Last Shot.”

Back to wrap up after this.

It’s Bridgestone or nothing.

“Oh, it feels unbelievable,” Bradley said.

That’s it until next time.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, August 13

Fluff and Bones to Appear on Next ‘Feherty’




By Golf Channel

THE NEXT EPISODE OF ‘FEHERTY’ on Golf Channel (Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET) will feature two of the best caddies in the game: Mike “Fluff” Cowan and Jim “Bones” Mackay.

David Feherty will chat with the two loopers about what it has been like to tote the bag for Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk during careers that have combined nearly a half century of heavy lifting and thousands of miles of walking the world’s best golf courses.

With all that wear and tear, Feherty chose a spa setting for the shared interview, and does his best pampering with a hilarious pedicure scene.

Player-caddie relationships often last no more than a few years, but Mackay has been on Phil Mickelson’s bag for nearly his entire career. Feherty finds out how the two became acquainted and what makes their relationship the exception to the rule.

Currently working for Jim Furyk, Cowan also has caddied for Peter Jacobsen and Tiger Woods. He talks about his experience as Tiger’s caddie and explains how being a good friend with a player can lead to success.

The two caddies also talk about how often their bosses want to hear their opinions or just confirm their own; describe some of the best shots they have ever witnessed; show some caddie hand signals; and discuss what they think is right and wrong with the game.

‘Feherty’ debuted in June as Golf Channel’s most-watched original series premiere in its history.

Friday, August 12

Captain Love Contending at PGA

U.S. RYDER CUP CAPTAIN DAVIS LOVE III is playing good golf this summer. On Thursday Love fired a 2-under 68 in the opening round of the PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club, a round that included five birdies. Love won the 1997 PGA Championship at Winged Foot, his only major.

Love, who is currently 1 under on his second round, is grouped with Tiger Woods and Padraig Harrington. Both Woods (77) and Harrington (73) are struggling to regain the form that won them multiple major championships.

Meanwhile, Love is a motivated 47-year-old veteran. Yes, he is the Ryder Cup captain. But he also wants to be a Ryder Cup player.

“I made 12 (Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup) teams in a row,” Love said, “and I’ve been frustrated ever since. I want to make another Ryder Cup team.”

Love made his first Ryder Cup appearance in 1993 at The Belfry. That was the last win for the Americans until 1999. He played on that ‘99 squad, as well as the U.S. teams in 1995, 1997, 2002 and 2004. Last year Love was an assistant to U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin at Celtic Manor.

Except for the Masters, it has been a solid year in the majors for the new American Ryder Cup skipper. Love finished in a tie for 11th at the U.S. Open and recorded a ninth-place finish at The Open Championship. He has made 10 cuts in 16 starts and is 86th in the FedEx Cup standings.

While Love is sharpening his game in the hopes of making his team, he will also be keeping a close eye on the other talent. He will have four captain’s picks to make next summer.

“What I’m going to be looking for are guys that are hot and that are putting good,” he said.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Brought to you by YourGolfTravel.com, the online destination for UK golf and golf Europe.)

(Photo credit: Keith Allison, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Rodman Wanamaker: The Man Behind the Trophy

(Plucked and updated from the ARMCHAIR GOLF archives.)

HERE’S WHAT THEY’RE PLAYING FOR in the 93rd PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club. (Plus $1.35 million, plus exemptions and endorsements galore, plus getting the major monkey off their back, if they’re Steve Stricker, Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, or others.)

Ladies and gentlemen, behold the Wanamaker Trophy. Shiny, isn’t it?

Of course, as with anything that’s 93, there’s a story behind it. It’s named after Rodman Wanamaker, a Philadelphia-born man of means who took up the cause of professional golfers when they were considered to be lowly working class and not allowed in the clubhouse or locker room. Think Walter Hagen era.

Wanamaker thought the treatment of pro golfers was wrong, so he spearheaded the formation of the PGA of America and its pros-only tournament, the PGA Championship. He launched the effort with $2,500 and ordered the silver cup. Every pro who teed off on Thursday playing for the $7.5 million purse should say a word of thanks for Rodman Wanamaker, a Princeton grad who owned the Philadelphia Evening Telegraph newspaper and financed designs for experimental seaplanes that made aviation history.

The original Wanamaker Trophy was huge—more than two feet tall and two feet wide (handle to handle) and weighing 27 pounds. That’s a lot of silver to hoist. Today the PGA of America awards a smaller replica to the winner.

Multiple Winners

Beginning in 1916, the PGA Championship was a match-play tournament until 1958 when TV helped dictate the move to stroke play. With Walter Hagen and Jack Nicklaus topping the list, following are multiple winners of the PGA Championship.

Walter Hagen 5
Jack Nicklaus 5
Tiger Woods 4
Gene Sarazen 3
Sam Snead 3
Jim Barnes 2
Leo Diegel 2
Denny Shute 2
Paul Runyan 2
Byron Nelson 2
Ben Hogan 2
Gary Player 2
Dave Stockton 2
Raymond Floyd 2
Lee Trevino 2
Larry Nelson 2
Nick Price 2
Vijay Singh 2

Notable majors winners who didn’t win the PGA Championship and wish they had: Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Nick Faldo.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: kompuder, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Thursday, August 11

2011 PGA Championship TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2011 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP is underway at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Georgia. With the first round still in progress, Steve Stricker (photo) is the clubhouse leader after carding a 7-under 63. Jerry Kelly, who shot 65, is two back. Scott Verplank finished with a 67. Tiger Woods shot a 77, his highest round ever in the PGA Championship.


Purse: $7.5 million
Winner’s share: $1.35 million
Defending champion: Martin Kaymer

2011 PGA Championship Leaderboard

Field
Course
Tee times
Live report
Tournament overview
Tournament news


TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2011 PGA Championship is on TNT and CBS.

Thu, 8/11
2-7 pm ET, TNT

Fri, 8/12
2-7 pm ET, TNT

Sat, 8/13
11 am - 2 pm ET, TNT
2-7 pm ET, CBS

Sun, 8/14
11 am - 2 pm ET, TNT
2-7 pm ET, CBS


−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: Keith Allison, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Wednesday, August 10

Did PGA Identity Crisis Spawn ‘Glory’s Last Shot’?

WHEN DID THE PGA CHAMPIONSHIP become known as “Glory’s Last Shot”? Did someone in Palm Beach Gardens come up with that, or maybe an ad agency?

It’s a serious question. I’ve been watching all four majors for many years and I can’t recall when I started hearing the PGA slogan. Now I hear it all the time. Too much, really.

I took to Google to investigate, a cursory research effort, I’ll admit. I didn’t come up with much. Within the first two pages of search results there are references to “Glory’s Last Shot” dating back to at least 2006. That’s as far as I looked.

A 2008 Associated Press story titled “Disrespected PGA Remains ‘Glory’s Last Shot’” touches on the issue.

“Ever since scrapping match play as its format 50 years ago, the PGA Championship has suffered an identity crisis,” reads the opening sentence.

Ah, yes. If you were picking majors the way you choose teams on a school playground, the PGA would be standing self-consciously against the chain-link fence while the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship were fought over. Those three don’t have nicknames or mottos. They don’t need them.

The Masters is associated with Augusta National and Bobby Jones. The U.S. Open is often thought of as the game’s toughest challenge. The Open Championship is the world’s oldest major and the only one played on a links course.

“And what does that make the PGA Championship?” asked the AP story.

“The other one,” Geoff Ogilvy answered with a grin.

Ogilvy was quick to add that it’s still some pretty good competition, which is a bit of an understatement. The PGA Championship often has the best field in golf. And the players certainly want their name on the Wanamaker Trophy, engraved alongside Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

Any major is a career-defining or career-enhancing victory, including the PGA Championship, which went from match play to stroke play in 1958. Dow Finsterwald won that year, his only major. Bob Rosburg won the next year, his only major. Jay Hebert and Jerry Barber won the following two PGAs, their only majors.

So, yes, it’s an important major, even if it does have an identity crisis and is propped up with a slogan. I liked the PGA Championship long before it was tagged with “Glory’s Last Shot,” a phrase that I expect to hear too often this week.

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, August 9

My Non-Golf Vacation to Charleston

I’VE BEEN OUT OF THE golf loop for the last several days. I did catch the last 15 minutes of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday. I saw Adam Scott sink the birdie on the 72nd hole for an impressive four-shot win and I heard caddie Steve Williams declare that it was the greatest week of his life.

The vent was wide open. Steve Williams and Tiger Woods will not be exchanging Christmas cards.

Meanwhile, I was in Charleston, South Carolina, also known as “The Holy City” for its tall church steeples and sometimes called “Chucktown.” It was family vacation, our last summer fling before the kids saddle up for another school year.

(Photo: Charleston National Golf Club)


We did the historic Charleston market and what we call “fancy lunch,” a white-tablecloth dining experience at Slightly North of Broad, my oldest daughter’s pick, and a good one. We spent a day at Isle of Palms beach and took an evening stroll along the Battery and Charleston Harbor and gawked at the lovely centuries-old homes. We joined a Gray Line city tour from Charleston’s first-rate visitor’s center and ducked in and out of the many shops on King Street.

(Shopping is not my forte, but as the lone male in the family I go along and am a good sport, for the most part.)

It was all excellent, great family fun, even with record heat. It didn’t include any golf for the only golfer in the family, but I didn’t expect any.

I did spy one golf course in our wanderings. The City of Charleston Golf Course, Charleston’s lone muni, is situated on James Island. Maybank Highway bisects the old course. We drove by on the way to Johns Island and I reaffirmed my interest in teeing it up on the 1920s layout where they play the city amateur. It looks like my kind of muni track.

There are a variety of other golf courses in the Charleston area, some of which I’ve listed below. I read about them in the handful of guides and brochures I collected on the trip.

Charleston-Area Golf Courses

Charleston National Golf Club / Semi-Private / Par 72
Coosaw Creek Country Club / Semi-Private / Par 72
Dunes West Golf & River Club / Semi-Private / Par 72
Kiawah Island Golf Resort / Resort Public (90 holes)
(Cougar Point, Oak Point, Ocean Course, Osprey Point, Turtle Point)
Legend Oaks Plantation Golf Club / Semi-Private / Par 72
Patriots Point Links / Public / Par 72
Pine Forest Country Club / Semi-Private / Par 72
Rivertowne Country Club / Semi-Private / Par 72
Shadowmoss Plantation Golf Club / Semi-Private / Par 72
The Links at Stono Ferry / Semi-Private / Par 72
Seabrook Island Restort / Stay & Play (36 holes)
(Crooked Oaks, Ocean Winds)
Golf Club at Westcott Plantation / Public (27 holes)
Wild Dunes Resort / Resort Public (36 holes)
(Harbor Course, Links Course)
Berkeley Country Club / Semi-Private / Par 72
City of Charleston Golf Course / Municipal / Par 72
Crowfield Golf & Country Club / Semi-Private / Par 72
Plantation Course At Edisto / Public / Par 70
Miller Country Club / Semi-Private / Par 71

And to the not-so-distant north and south lie Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head. There’s plenty of golf in the South Carolina coastal area. Where have you played? Any recommendations?

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: butler.corey, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Saturday, August 6

28 Vaults Piercy Up Leaderboard in Reno

SCOTT PIERCY MADE A ROUTINE PAR on the first hole in the third round of the Reno-Tahoe Open. Then Piercy went crazy, making eight straight birdies at the Montreux Golf & Country Club. The San Diego State grad carded an 8-under 28 on the opening nine to go from after thought to leader. (He started the day seven shots off the pace.)

Piercy calmed down for a while. He notched pars on 10, 11, 12 and 13. Then back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15 put him at 10-under for his round with three holes to play. His lone bogey slowed him down at the 17th. But Piercy finished like a champ, sinking an eagle at the final hole for an 11-under 61. He currently holds a three-stroke lead on Pat Perez and Josh Teater with the third round still in progress.

Piercy, whose best finish this year is a T6 at the RBC Canadian Open, is looking for his maiden victory on the PGA Tour. If he can hang on, he’ll join the growing list of first-time winners this season.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo: Courtesy of Gaylord Sports)

Friday, August 5

The Skeet-in-Dubai Golf Shot




FOUR EUROPEAN TOUR PROS arrive in the desert, the glimmering skyscrapers of Dubai not far in the distance. Thongchai Jaidee, David Horsey, Johan Edfors and Simon Khan attempt to hit a fast-moving clay pigeon. Only instead of shotgun and shell, they are using a golf club and golf ball of choice.

Easy? Hardly. But can it be done?

“It could be a while,” says one.

“Can’t leave here without doing it,” says another.

Different ball flights and timing are tried. There are a few near hits until ... well, watch and see.

Want more? See the European Tour’s every shot imaginable.

−The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, August 4

The Rory McIlroy Guessing Game

Editor’s note: Brian Keogh is a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a contributor to The Irish Times, Golf Digest Ireland and other golf publications. The following excerpt from Brian’s Irish Golf Desk is used with permission.

By Brian Keogh
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


THERE’S A NEW GUESSING GAME in golf—what’s Rory McIlroy going to do next. In June he surprised nearly everyone when he followed his implosion at the Masters with an eight-shot US Open win. Fast forward six weeks and he’s overshadowed the return to Tiger Woods to PGA Tour action this week by announcing that he’s seriously considering rejoining the PGA Tour next season.

Nearly nine months ago, McIlroy gave up his card and said:

“I found myself in America last year, especially in the FedEx Cup play-off series, just not wanting to be there…. If you’re not playing well in the States it can be a lonely place. But if you’re not playing well on the European Tour you still have plenty of mates to hang out with. Holly also has another two years at university and we have two dogs, a nice house and I love my life back in Ireland. I don’t ever want to give that up.”

Fast forward to the eve of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron and the story is very different. Holly is history, he’s playing well and life in Ireland has become more of grind since his went from golf star to public megastar in the space of a few weeks.

“I spoke to a couple of the guys from the PGA Tour today about it, and I’m leaning towards taking my card up again definitely,” said McIlroy, who is involved a burgeoning romance with the Danish world tennis number one Caroline Wozniacki.

“I feel as if I play my best golf over here. I’m very comfortable in this country. I’m going to look at a few houses down in Florida after the (US) PGA.

“I might go and stay with G-Mac (Graeme McDowell) for a night at Lake Nona and see what that’s like and then down in West Palm Beach and Jupiter, around there. I’m definitely looking towards coming back and playing a full schedule over here.”

McIlroy fired a 68 in the first round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and trails leader Adam Scott by six shots. Scott blistered Firestone Country Club with an eight-birdie, no-bogey 62.

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

Wednesday, August 3

2011 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2011 WGC-BRIDGESTONE INVITATIONAL tees off on Thursday at Firestone Country Club (South Course) in Akron, Ohio. Tiger Woods returns to action after an 11-week injury layoff. Woods will be paired in the first two rounds with British Open champion Darren Clarke. A field of 76 players will compete for an $8.5 million purse. The event has no cut, assuring Woods of four competitive rounds in advance of next week’s PGA Championship.


Purse: $8.5 million
Winner’s share: $1.4 million
Defending champion: Hunter Mahan (at right)

2011 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Leaderboard

Field
Course
Tee times
Tournament overview
Tournament news
Tournament video


TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2011 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational is
on Golf Channel and CBS.

Thu, 8/4
2-6 pm ET, GOLF

Fri, 8/5
2-6 pm ET, GOLF

Sat, 8/6
2-6 pm ET, CBS

Sun, 8/7
2-6 pm ET, CBS

SIRIUS-XM broadcast times


−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: Keith Allison, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Tuesday, August 2

Who Are Those Guys? Scott Stallings Edition




Editor’s note: In “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” Butch (Paul Newman) and Sundance (Robert Redford) kept saying, “Who are those guys?” That line reminds me of the PGA Tour some weeks, including this last one.

ON SUNDAY I WAS FLIPPING from the U.S. Senior Open to the Greenbrier Classic. I hoped Olin Browne would hang on to win his first major. I also was curious to see who would kiss the trophy at The Greenbrier at Old White.

As it turned out, it wasn’t Anthony Kim or Webb Simpson or Bill Haas. The Greenbrier Classic winner in a sudden-death playoff was PGA Tour rookie Scott Stallings, the sixth rookie to win on the circuit during the 2011 season.

So this bears repeating: Who are those guys? Or, rather, who is this guy? More on that in a moment.

Playing with AK, the 54-hole leader, Stallings knocked his drive out of bounds on the 71st hole and made a bogey that could have put an end to his hopes. But the 26-year-old rookie sank a dramatic birdie on the par-3 finishing hole to crash the playoff with veteran Bob Estes and Haas.

Then, like a relief pitcher running in from the bullpen in the late innings of a tight ball game, the excited Stallings sprinted into the playoff after signing his scorecard. Yes, he actually ran. Crazy fun stuff.

“Running from the back of the green to the tee to go to the playoff is something I’ll never forget,” said Stallings. “I’ve been working with a trainer for about a month, so he should be proud.”

The pumped-up rookie lofted another beautiful short iron on the 168-yard par 3 and the ball landed in nearly the same spot as before. After Haas and Estes missed their longer birdie putts, Stallings sank the seven-footer for his first PGA Tour win and high-fived and bear-hugged his caddie.

If you’re in the dark on Stallings like I am, here’s the sheet on him.

Stallings was an all-state high-school golfer who went to Tennessee Tech, where he won seven tournaments and was an All-American in 2006. He played the mini tours and missed making it through PGA Tour Qualifying School by a single shot in 2009. After finishing 53rd on the Nationwide Tour money list in 2010, Stallings went back to Q School last fall and walked away with his PGA Tour card after a T11 finish.

The rookie missed his first five cuts this season. A breakthrough came at the Transitions Championship, where Stallings finished third after Kenny Perry helped him get into the event with a sponsor exemption. (Perry and Stallings have the same agent.)

Now, with his first tour win, Stallings is in Akron this week for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and in Atlanta next week for the PGA Championship. He has gone from 562nd to 119th in the Official World Golf Ranking and from 88th to 26th in the FedEx Cup standings. That’s quite a sprint.

−The Armchair Golfer

More ‘Who Are Those Guys?’:
Keegan Bradley
Gary Woodland

Monday, August 1

Ghosts of Jean Van de Velde Spook Yani Tseng

THE TOURNAMENT WAS SEEMINGLY OVER. Yani Tseng stood on the 18th tee at Carnoustie Golf Links with a three-shot lead over Brittany Lang. In a matter of minutes Tseng could claim her second consecutive Women’s British Open and fifth major title at the age of 22 years, six months and eight days. No one had won five majors so soon, not even Tiger Woods.

That’s when she was visited by ghosts of the past, if just for a moment.

In 1999 French golfer Jean Van de Velde walked to the 72nd hole of The Open Championship with a comfortable three-stroke lead. Then he strolled into history, but not at all like he or the aghast onlookers expected. Van de Velde splashed into the Barry Burn with his approach shot. All he needed was a double-bogey six and his name would be etched on the Claret Jug. He made a seven and lost the four-hole playoff to Paul Lawrie.

Tseng thought of Van de Velde as she walked to the final hole on Sunday. Maybe that was a good thing. She still had to take care of business. It was no time to get sloppy.

“When you come on this golf course, you’re going think about him,” Tseng said. “But I did think about it a little bit.

“I had a three-shot lead so I’d better hit a good drive here to win the tournament. I thought, okay, let’s hit a good drive, finish here.”

And she did, leaving herself about 135 yards to the hole. Still, the ghosts beckoned.

“I hit a 9-iron, and I was thinking about Jean Van de Velde.”

But Tseng isn’t Van de Velde. The Taiwanese star flew that “juiced” 9-iron straight at the flagstick and sank the short birdie putt for a four-shot victory.

Tseng is the new dominant force, not just in women’s golf, but all of golf. With the LPGA Tour adding a major to put five on the annual calendar, Tseng is looking like a serious threat to catch Tiger Woods and even Jack Nicklaus. She is already on a record pace.

−The Armchair Golfer