Saturday, December 31

Best of 2011: Be Mine, Pebble Beach Golf Links

Editor’s note: As the year comes to a close, I offer one last post from the 2011 season. This one ran on Valentine’s Day. Happy New Year to you and yours.

D.A. POINTS AND BILL MURRAY won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Yeah, whatever.

The real question on this Valentine’s Day—and as I stared longingly at Pebble on my TV screen on Sunday—is this: When am I going to play America’s majestic golf sweetheart? When will Pebble Beach Golf Links be mine, if only for a day?

I had a goal. The goal was to play Pebble by my 40th birthday. I talked to my pop about it. He would be 70. I lived in Seattle. He lived in Southern California. We could meet in between on the Monterey Peninsula. It didn’t happen. Several birthdays have since passed. Now I live on the East Coast.

At the time, I could get my head around $250 green fees. Now Pebble is up to $495 for 18 holes, among the highest green fees in the galaxy. A caddie runs $75. The suggested gratuity is $50. On the other hand, you can ride a cart for only $35.

I realize my chances of playing Pebble are not improving. Distance and dough are coming between us. Maybe I need to rethink this item on my bucket list. (This is starting to get a bit maudlin. Sorry.)

In an article at PGA.com, PGA professional Danny Elkins wrote, “Pebble Beach is the type of course that every golfer should aspire to visit. It’s not about your score when you play there, it’s more about the experience of playing there. The scenery and setting, the history and the challenge will last you a lifetime.”

I’m a sometimes golfer. So yes, Danny. I still aspire to get there. I haven’t lost hope.

And if I do make it to Pebble, I promise, promise, promise I won’t spit on the greens—or anywhere else, for that matter. I’ll drool uncontrollably. And there’s a very good chance I’ll pee my pants. But I would never spit. ABSOLUTELY NOT.

−The Armchair Golfer

Related:
Best of 2011: The High School Golf Swing of Bubba Watson
Best of 2011: Seve’s Brother: ‘What These Hands Have Done in the World’

Friday, December 30

Best of 2011: The High School Golf Swing of Bubba Watson

Editor’s note: As the year comes to a close, I offer another favorite post from the 2011 season. This one, from late January, addresses the unorthodox golf action of Bubba Watson.

Bubba Watson launches one.
CBS’S PETER KOSTIS DOES A GOOD JOB on swing analyses. While other golf talking heads sound like they’re blowing smoke, Kostis, as I’ve written, hypnotizes me. He just sounds believable.

However, as I learned yesterday watching the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open, even Kostis struggles to put Bubba Watson’s swing into words. I sympathize. Bubba’s action defies explanation. It just works. Watson had all the shots in his bag this past weekend as he cruised to his second career victory at Torrey Pines.

Not long before Kostis and crew took a slo-mo look at Bubba, Kostis analyzed the swing of Bob Hope Classic winner Jhonattan Vegas. Vegas contended to the very end on Sunday before dumping his second shot into the pond that fronts the 18th green. Vegas’s swing looks like it’s out of a golf instruction book. Kostis drew two lines and a triangle, explaining how Vegas was on plane and returned the club to the same position and angle as at address. Kostis was like a college anatomy professor explaining how and why it works.

Hitting It Bubba Long

After Bubba launched a 363-yard drive on the par-5 13th, Kostis took a swing-vision gander at the lefty from Bagdad, Florida. I can’t remember much of what he said. I just remember thinking he was at a loss for words.

Bubba is unconventional, to say the least. It’s fairly easy to see at full speed. He has an open stance and a big loopy swing with a follow through that always has me wondering where the ball is going. In slow motion, it’s crazy. On the backswing—dare I say the longest backswing on tour?—the clubhead is pointing at the ground. And on the downswing, just before impact, Bubba is up on the toes of both feet!

I think I figured out why Bubba can’t be explained with lines and triangles. He has a high school golf swing. It’s not a knock. It means he’s untouched, intuitive and creative. He has never had a lesson or a swing coach. He says he never will.

A high school golf swing is long, natural, athletic. I saw lots of them when I played high school golf in California. They’re raw, loopy, wristy and powerful. High school golfers who advance in the game usually shorten and refine their swings as they grow and mature. They adopt “positions” and shed the untamed golf swings of their youth. (I used to have a backswing as long as John Daly—when I was 14. Now I can’t turn past parallel.)

Bubba is self taught, unchanged. He has refined a one-of-a-kind swing that busts 350-yard drives and curves shots 30 yards to the left or right.

“I’ll never change from that,” he told SI’s Farrell Evans last year. “I’ll keep playing golf the way I know how to play it and hopefully that will keep me on tour.”

I think Bubba is going to be around for awhile.

−The Armchair Golfer

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

Thursday, December 29

Best of 2011: Seve’s Brother: ‘What These Hands Have Done in the World’

Editor’s note: As the year comes to a close, I’d like to offer a few of my favorite stories that appeared here. The following piece about the death of Seve Ballesteros is from early May. Many thanks to Brian Keogh for allowing me to share his words in this space.

By Brian Keogh
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


IT WAS AN ALMOST SACRED RITUAL. Wiping away the tears that streamed down his cheeks, Baldomero Ballesteros undressed his brother Severiano’s body with an almost maternal gentleness and dressed him in his Sunday uniform—the white shirt, the same navy blue sweater and navy blue slacks that he had habitually worn on the final day of his greatest triumphs.

The family had gathered around Seve’s bedside on Friday and cried silent, bitter tears.

“I held his hands and stroked them and thought: what these hands have done in the world,” the eldest of the Ballesteros brothers told the Spanish sports daily Marca.

“He knew he was dying and he did so with total integrity. More than a brother or a son or a father, a glory has left us.

“He said goodbye to everyone one by one. He clutched our hands, he whispered in our ears. I moved in very close and said: ‘I love you’. And Seve replied: ‘I love you too.’”

Baldomero believed that it was “best” to dress his beloved brother in the Sunday uniform that defined him as one of golf’s greats, one of the sport’s true legends.

“I thought it was best and everyone nodded in agreement,” he said.

Baldomero was asked by national and international sporting and political bodies how best to honour Seve after his death and the manner in which they could say their last goodbyes. But Seve himself had already told him how he wanted it to be: his wake, cremation and burial in the lands surrounding his home were to be conducted in absolute intimacy.

“He told us everything. There was to be just a funeral in the town church and nothing more. Everything else was to remain within the intimacy of the family. Seve is a village boy and we thought it was best. His funeral rites will be as simple as for any other neighbour. He will be sent on his way like anyone else. He was born here and he will remain here.”

Seve will be cremated in a secret location, as was his express wish and his ashes will remain on the lands of his Pedreña home.

The funeral will take place on Wednesday at one o’clock at the parish church of San Pedro de Pedreña and the family will then receive his mortal remains and respect his final wishes by burying his ashes under the cool green grass that gave him so much happiness, so much humanity and so much glory.

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, December 28

Add ‘TEE IT FORWARD’ to New Year’s Resolutions

By PGA of America

Courtesy of Lounge!
FOLLOWING THE SUCCESSFUL PILOT LAUNCH of TEE IT FORWARD in July 2011, the PGA and USGA are encouraging golfers to continue to tee it forward and play from distances that match their playing skills in 2012.

More than 1,900 facilities registered in 2011 with an average of 123 golfers per facility (nearly 237,000 nationwide) hitting their golf balls from forward tees during the promotional period. In addition, a survey of more than 3,000 consumers who experienced the program showed that 70 percent found their round of golf more enjoyable. More than 90 percent said they would recommend TEE IT FORWARD to a friend. The survey also found nearly 50 percent of respondents saying the program helped them play faster.

“These golfers told us that they found golf more enjoyable by playing courses at shorter lengths than usual,” said PGA of America President Allen Wronowski. “This initiative also generated incredible buzz through traditional and social media, as well as at golf facilities across the country.”

“We are encouraged by the results of our pilot,” said USGA President Jim Hyler, “and believe this new approach to the game is really beginning to catch on with golfers of all skill levels.”

TEE IT FORWARD was the brainchild of industry veteran Barney Adams, retired founder of Adams Golf. Adams was an ambassador for TEE IT FORWARD in 2011 and will continue in that role.

“I’ve been around the game for more than 30 years and continue to be amazed as golfers make it much harder than it should be by playing golf courses at distances that don’t come close to matching their abilities,” said Adams.

“By playing from forward tees, amateur golfers have the chance to play the course at the same relative distance as a touring professional would over 18 holes. We need golfers to be hitting 8-irons and wedges into par 4s like the pros, not fairway woods.”

Originally highlighted during a specific time period in 2011, TEE IT FORWARD will now be promoted as a year-round initiative. Courses can set up additional tees to provide golfers with more options or simply encourage golfers to use existing forward tees. The PGA and USGA will be developing educational and promotional materials to be distributed to golf facilities across the country.

(Brought to you by Direct Golf U.K.)

Tuesday, December 27

Caddie-less Laura Davies Pulls Trolley at Indian Open

Laura Davies
WITH 81 WINS, INCLUDING 20 on the LPGA Tour and four major titles, Laura Davies is one of the greatest female tour pros to play the game. Yet earlier this month at the Indian Open, an event on the Ladies European Tour (LET), Ms. Davies toted her own golf clubs like a rank amateur.

Her caddie was delayed due to visa problems. When her bag man didn’t arrive in New Delhi, Davies took matters into her own hands, refusing to hire a club caddie, a new twist in a long globetrotting career.

“Ended up having to pull my own trolley around, which is the first time I’ve done that in 26 years on tour,” Davies told the Associated Press. “I shot 3 over the first day. He made it for the second round, but it didn’t work out. I missed the cut.

“The officials were like, ‘You should take a local,’” added Davies. “But I was just irritated. So I just wanted to get out there, try and shoot something that wasn’t going to ruin the week, and I ended up shooting 3 over and the week was over before it got started.”

Davies, who was winless in 2011 after a five-win 2010 season, finished 48th on the LET money list. Whether or not she wins again, she should be enshrined in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Did I mention Davies was the defending champion at the Indian Open?

“These things happen,” she said about the caddie-less first round, “but it was a shame.”

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, December 24

‘Good One’

(From the ARMCHAIR GOLF archives.)

KIRK TRIPLETT IS WORKING ON SOMETHING. Only he and his caddie know for sure. Actually, I’m going to say that his caddie doesn’t know. He’s working the towel. That’s what he does.

If you’ve ever watched Tour pros beat balls, you know that after the initial excitement wears off it’s pretty boring. Pick any guy out there and watch them hit for a while. You’ll see what I mean.

PGA Tour journeyman Kirk Triplett and his caddie.
Here’s what’s going through my mind as I watch them go through the bag—the wedges, the irons, the metals—and slowly dismantle that perfectly stacked pyramid of shiny white golf balls on the practice tee:

“Good one. Good one. Good one. Good one. Good one.” (Player pauses to stare at something or chuckle with caddie.) “Good one. Good one. Good one.”

They might be working on something. They might just be warming up. They might be showing off. I have no idea. All I’ve got is “Good one. Good one. Good one.”

I have a suspicion that I’m not the only one who is unable to detect the subtleties of range work. A couple of Tour pros, Charles Howell III and J.B. Holmes, recently spotted Tiger on the Isleworth practice tee. Holmes said, “It looks like he’s hitting it pretty good.” Howell said, “Seriously, he seemed like he was hitting it the same as he ever did.”

I totally understand that because, one, he’s Tiger Woods, but also because I come to the same conclusion every time I watch players swing the clubs on the range. Maybe I’ll switch things up and use J.B.’s line.

“It looks like he’s hitting it pretty good.” (Next guy.) “It looks like he’s hitting it pretty good.” (Next guy.) “It looks like he’s hitting it pretty good.” (Next guy …

−The Armchair Golfer

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

Friday, December 23

The Rules Geek: ‘New Year, New Rules’ to Air on Golf Channel

Editor’s note: The Rules Geek is an occasional and potentially annoying feature at ARMCHAIR GOLF.

“NEW YEAR, NEW RULES” IS A 30-minute special that will preview rules changes that go in effect on January 1 and are covered in the 2012 Rules of Golf. The program airs on Golf Channel on December 31 (New Year’s Eve) at 11:30 p.m. ET.

The Rules Geek realizes that you’ll probably be busy ringing in the new year. Not to worry. The rules show will run every half hour from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. ET on January 1 (New Year’s Day). It will also be shown that night at 8 p.m.

(Don’t tell me you can’t take a 30-minute break from bowl games and yucking it up with friends and relatives. This is important, golfers.)

The program goes over the new rules you’ll need to know, with video examples and situational analysis from experts such as USGA Executive Director Mike Davis and Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of Rules and Amateur Status. The Golf Channel’s Rich Lerner and Frank Nobilo will provide commentary.

Preview rules changes for the 2012-2015 cycle.

The Rules Geek sez rules were made to be followed. Got a rules-related tip or story? Send it to The Rules Geek at armchairgolfer@gmail.com.

More Rules Geek:
Decision 33-7/4.5 Overhauled for Video Age
Camilo Villegas and the Divot DQ
Bad Behavior Down Under?
Juli Inkster and the Donut DQ
Phil Mickelson and the Proper Drop
Abnormal Ground Conditions Aid Amateur
Hunter Mahan’s Driver Replacement

Thursday, December 22

Rory McIlroy Holes Out on Burj Al Arab Helipad




THIS MAKES ME DIZZY JUST WATCHING it. That’s world No. 3 Rory McIlroy atop the Burj Al Arab Hotel, 700 feet above Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach. McIlroy blasted bunker shots from the helipad with his caddie J.P. Fitzgerald by his side. And, yes, he holed one, just like he did a few weeks ago on the final hole to win the UBS Hong Kong Open.

The Mail Online has an assortment of stunning images of the promotional stunt.

Brian Keogh filed an insightful report at Irish Golf Desk on McIlroy, including how the 2011 Masters was a turning point in his career.

McIlroy tells Keogh:

“It was definitely the point where I reached the crossroads in my career where I could keep going the wrong way or really take responsibility for myself and say, ‘right, this is what I’ve got to do to get better and win, and improve as a player’.

“The Masters was huge for me. It was a huge disappointment at the time but reflecting on it, looking back on it, it was probably the most important day of my career so far.”

−The Armchair Golfer

(Visor tip: Geoff Shackelford)

Wednesday, December 21

Lee Westwood, Golf and Dance Man

LEE WESTWOOD BLISTERED THE GOLF COURSE in winning the Thailand Open last week by seven shots. The Englishman opened with 60 and 64 and cruised home with a 22-under total of 266. It came on the heels of his win at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa and was his third victory of the 2011 season.

Westwood has risen to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking and intends to spend more time on the PGA Tour during the coming season as preparation for winning that elusive first major championship.

But, as I learned from John Huggan’s reporting in The Scotsman, the man from Worksop has a fallback plan of sorts. Whenever it’s time to hang up the sticks, Westwood may just strap on the dance shoes.

Huggan wrote that golf’s world No. 2 “is favourably inclined to give Strictly Come Dancing a try.” (Strictly Come Dancing inspired America’s Dancing with the Stars and several other international dance shows.)

“In retirement I’d love to have a go,” Westwood told Huggan. “My Nan and Grandad used to run an old-time dance school, so I did do a bit when I was a little boy. I was even ‘highly commended’ in a couple of dances: the Lilac Waltz and the Boston Two-Step. And I’ve still got the medals to prove it.

“We’re talking 30 years ago mind. So it’s been a while since I slipped on my patent dancing shoes. I’m a bit out of practice. But I’d have a fair idea going in. Although I’m not too sure how I’d look in those tight sequined outfits. I think I’d have to lose some weight. And the fake tan? I’d have to get the hair-removing cream out first!”

Added Huggan: “Quite apart from any insider knowledge gained in childhood, Westwood would make the ideal Strictly competitor. Given the dedication and discipline he routinely brings to his day job, no one in the starting line-up would take it more seriously and try harder to improve.”

It can’t be any harder than putting those mammoth, undulating greens at Augusta National, right?

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, December 20

Miller and Faldo at ARMCHAIR GOLF Roundtable

WITH THE GOLF CHANNEL’S ANNOUNCEMENT that Johnny Miller and Nick Faldo will share the broadcast booth at the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions, it seemed like an opportune time to take another look at the two men—their thoughts on the game and their legacies.

Please note that the following are real quotes and comments. The questions are made up. Welcome to the ARMCHAIR GOLF roundtable.

Sir Nick Faldo at the 2010 Masters.
At the roundtable:
Johnny Miller – Two-time major winner and NBC lead golf analyst
Nick Faldo – Six-time major winner and CBS lead golf analyst

Q: Gentlemen, welcome to the roundtable. Johnny, let’s start with you. You’re known for speaking your mind, even saying the world’s best golfers choke.

JOHNNY MILLER:
Everyone has his own choking level, a level at which he fails to play his normal golf. As you get more experienced, your choking level rises.

Q: Nick, what’s your take on dealing with the pressure?

NICK FALDO: It’s all about the bottle, the British term meaning the ability to be in a situation and feel comfortable, be in control and have the mental toughness to get the job done.

Q: So when you were playing …


NICK FALDO: The word is control. That’s my ultimate, to have control.

Q: Johnny, what about on the greens? You struggled late in your career. How would you describe the yips
?

JOHNNY MILLER:
Basically, it’s the inability to make your hands obey the commands your mind gives them.

Q: Any other problem areas you see in other players?


JOHNNY MILLER: Too many people carry the last shot with them. It is a heavy and useless burden.

Q: What advice would you give, Nick?


NICK FALDO: Listen to your heart and gut. That small voice inside you. How often have you left the house knowing you’ve forgotten something, and it turns out you have? Intuition is very powerful, and certainly it’s true in golf.

Q: You’ve called the U.S. Open an exam. What did you mean by that?


NICK FALDO:
You’ve got a fairly good idea as to what the questions are going to be. But how to record the best answer is another matter.

Q: Johnny, your thoughts on the U.S. Open?

JOHNNY MILLER:
I think Darth Vader is actually a USGA official.

Q: Still, it’s a …

NICK FALDO:
The majors are what golf’s all about. The other ones you play for the prize money. These you play to get your name on a piece of silver.

Q: Actually, that’s a good segue. Talk a bit about your place in golf.


JOHNNY MILLER:
I try to be semi-humble. If I started going around saying how good I was, everything would go wrong.

Q: Who was the most talented player you ever saw?


JOHNNY MILLER:
I’m not sure the most talented player I ever saw wasn’t myself.

Q: Nick?


NICK FALDO: Years from now I want people to be able to say, “I saw Faldo play.”

Q: Anything else, fellas?


GARY MCCORD: There are two things that guys on Tour do not like: playing in the wind and me dating their sister.

Q: Oh, hey Gary. Thanks for your time, Johnny, Nick and, um, Gary.


–The Armchair Golfer


(Source: The Gigantic Book of Golf Quotations, published by Skyhorse Publishing.)

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

Monday, December 19

LPGA Commish Politely Scolds Golf Magazine

Mike Whan
LPGA COMMISSIONER MIKE WHAN LET GOLF MAGAZINE know what he thought of the publication’s decision to name Rory McIlroy 2011 Player of the Year and put the young Northern Irishman on the cover. The magazine recently published the commissioner’s missive as the lead-off letter in its January 2012 issue.

“I am surprised and disappointed that the editors of Golf Magazine overlooked the 11 worldwide victories and two major championships that Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng has compiled as of November 1 when choosing Golf Magazine’s Player of the Year.”

(As of November 1, Rory McIlroy had one win during the 2011 season, the U.S. Open. Rory has since won the Hong Kong Open.)

Whan continued.

“This season, she [Tseng] became the youngest player in history—male or female—to win five major championships at the age of 22.

“It’s unfortunate I have to write this letter,” the LPGA commissioner said a few lines later, adding, “total wins, total majors, records that transcend sport, and leadership in nearly every statistical category should have been more than enough for Golf Magazine to reach a very obvious conclusion.”

Maybe the editors of Golf Magazine were swayed by their poll on Facebook. On October 25, the magazine asked: “Who should be Golf Magazine’s Player of the Year in 2011?”

Here’s the vote count:

Yani Tseng - 5,300 votes (96%)
Luke Donald - 159 votes (3%)
Rory McIlroy - 56 votes (1%)
Keegan Bradley - 28 votes (--)

Gee, that couldn’t have gone into their thinking. Poor Rory only received 1% of the vote. It must have been something else.

“No question Donald and Tseng had more impressive bottom lines in ‘11,” said senior editor Alan Bastable in an early November chat session about the POY choice, “but neither player generated the rock-star hysteria Rory whipped up this season.”

Ah, rock-star hysteria. Mr. Whan?

“There is absolutely no doubt … that his [McIlroy’s] win at the U.S. Open created positive waves throughout the game. You have to ask yourself one question, though. If Yani’s 2011 season had been achieved by a man, would you have come to the same conclusion on the 2011 Golf Magazine Player of the Year? I think we all know the answer.”

Hmmm.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Visor tip: Waggle Room)

Saturday, December 17

Best of the Best—PGA Tour Q-School of 1971 (Conclusion)

(Editor’s note: This is the final installment of of a six-part series. Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.)

By John Coyne
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


Copyright © John Coyne. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

EARLY ON THE LAST DAY of play, David Glenz from Coquille, Oregon, a June graduate of the University of Oregon with a degree in marketing, came from nowhere with a closing 69 to qualify with 442. David Graham slipped to 78 on his final round, but he was in at 440, good enough to qualify and that was all that mattered.

“It doesn’t matter where you finish,” he told me. “Just as long as you qualify.”

By three o’clock on Saturday, October 16, 1971, with most of the field in, it appeared to Joe Dey that 444 was the magic number, and he drove a cart to the eighteenth tee to tell the finishers.

The tournament was over except for watching the final threesome of Bob Zender, Tom Watson and Sam Adams on 18. They gave the spectators something to applaud.

Zender, putting first, left a 60-foot putt hanging on the lip. He settled for a 69 and finished with 425, three shots ahead of everyone else. He picked up the thousand dollars that a shirt manufacturer had donated for first prize. Then Adams, with a putt nearly as long, dropped his for a 69. It was left to Watson to top that, and he almost did, lipping the cup for his birdie. Smiling under a bushy red moustache, he tapped in for a final par and a 75, and was on his way to a great professional career.

Spike Kelley could not put it together on the last day and faded with 79, a total of 450, six shots too many. His cheerfulness, which had made him a favorite of the few spectators who came every day to camp on the ninth and eighteenth greens or walk a few holes in the sun, didn’t leave him. It hadn’t been a wasted week he told everyone.

“After all,” he said, “I got to play on a great golf course.” And he had plans to return to Q-School the next year when the tournament moved west. “I hope we play in California. I’ve never been to Disneyland.”

I don’t know if Spike ever made it to Disneyland, but I do know, and I regret to say, he never made a splash on the PGA Tour.

John Coyne is a bestselling author whose latest book is The Caddie Who Won the Masters. Learn more at John Coyne Books.

Friday, December 16

Best of the Best—PGA Tour Q-School of 1971 (Part 5)

(Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a series. Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.)

By John Coyne
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


Copyright © John Coyne. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

BACK AT PGA NATIONAL FOR THE fourth round of the 1971 Q-School the pairings changed, but the leaders were still dispersed throughout the groups. There were no galleries to worry about, and the few members around had volunteered to keep the players’ cards and serve as caddies.

Before teeing off on Thursday, a hot, humid day, players began to pause in front of the leader board and silently count off the spots to see where they stood. No one choked Thursday. A few even gained positions under the pressure of the cut-off.

David Graham had his lowest round, a 70. Graham told me late in the evening when he was still on the range, “Here there is no tomorrow. It’s one tournament that means everything for the year.”

Meanwhile Leonard Thompson, who had played poorly the first and third rounds, began to put his game together. On Thursday he shot 73. And John Mahaffey of Houston, a protégé of Ben Hogan’s (whom he telephoned after every round), had another of his consistent par rounds to challenge for the lead.

On Friday, with the pros grouped according to scores for the first time, Bruce Fleisher lost his game and shot his worst round, a 79. Lanny Wadkins lost the tournament lead to Bob Zender when he finished with a 75. Failing to putt well the fifth day, he switched putters in the middle of the round. And Rogelio Gonzales of Colombia, a member of that country’s World Cup team, who had brought along a translator for the two days of classroom instruction, fired a 71, his best round of the tournament.

Spike Kelley, who had scores of 80,74,72,74, finally got one under on the fifth day, a 71, and was tied for the twenty-third spot. He needed a 72 or 73 on the last day to qualify, to gain his card and perhaps a few more plane rides.

“Me, on the tour! I’ll have to buy a golf bag.” The one he was using at Palm Beach was borrowed. “A member at my club gave it to me when I qualified so I’d look like a golfer.”

(To be continued.)

John Coyne is a bestselling author whose latest book is The Caddie Who Won the Masters. Learn more at John Coyne Books.

Thursday, December 15

LPGA Player Morgan Pressel Tours Israel

Morgan Pressel rides a camel on goodwill trip to Israel.
LAST WEEK I MENTIONED COLIN MONTGOMERIE and his trip to Afghanistan. This week, it’s Morgan Pressel and her tour of Israel. Golfers as ambassadors, part two.

The LPGA player and major winner is in the midst of an eight-day trip to see Israel’s many historical and cultural sights, meet dignitaries and host golf clinics for local children. She led a roundtable discussion with Israeli and Palestinian youth in the hopes that golf could teach some important life lessons.

Stops along the way have included (or will include) a tour of the Western Wall, a visit to Yad Vashem (Israel’s national Holocaust Memorial Museum) and the Dead Sea. Pressel also planned to meet with various Israeli signatories and leaders, including former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

In an undated report at LPGA.com, Pressel wrote that her most moving experience thus far was her breakfast with Seeds for Peace, an organization that encourages dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian youth.

“The purpose of the organization is not to tell the kids whether they are right or wrong,” explained Pressel, “but is to teach them how to discuss the conflict and create more of an understanding of all sides of the issues.

“[A] young Palestinian woman said the experience had encouraged her to study politics in college, so she could gain an even deeper understanding of the situation, and hopefully one day help to resolve it. They both expressed they learned the other cultures consisted of people with feelings and heart, just as they have, and said they returned home with friends they never imagined they would have.”

With the addition of golf at the 2016 Summer Olympics, Pressel plans to lead more trips to Israel to create additional awareness and support for the game, especially among young children and adults.

Read Morgan Pressel’s Israel trip diary

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: Morgan Pressel Foundation)

Wednesday, December 14

Nike Tour Players Talk About Putting




CONSIDER THIS YOUR WEDNESDAY GOLF LESSON. Nike tour players Paul Casey, Stewart Cink, Anthony Kim, Suzann Pettersen, Charl Schwartzel, Jhonattan Vegas and Tiger Woods offer a few thoughts on putting.

Confidence is important. Pettersen: No doubts. Don’t question yourself. Cink: Don’t dwell on results. Focus on the physical aspects and block out the mental side of putting. Kim: Believe in yourself and what you’re doing.

“There’s only two things,” Tiger sums up. “There’s just the ball and the hole.”

Yeah, exactly. That’s the problem.

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, December 13

The Danger of Fore More Years














THANK YOU, MITT ROMNEY. YOU HAVE warned me that President Obama is playing too much golf on the job. Yes, 1,584 holes since 2009 is a whole lot of small ball. Heck, I’m pretty sure that’s more golf than Tiger Woods played over the same period of time. (To be fair, Tiger had a few distractions.)

You say, “It’s time to have a president whose idea of being hands on doesn’t mean getting a better grip on the golf club.”

Good one!

But you’re not the first to sound the warning about 44’s golf habit and the trouble it creates for America. Michelle Cottle opined about Obama’s golf game nearly a year ago and I completely failed to grasp the seriousness of the problem. Following is my dispatch in early January.

***

Michelle Cottle’s commentary about President Obama’s “dangerous obsession with golf” has alerted me that I may be a hopeless golf addict who exhibits many undesirable attributes. And you might be in the same foursome with me, my friend.

Cottle is a senior editor for The New Republic. She has a problem—several, really—with 44’s affection for the small dimpled ball.

“Why would a leader vowing to shake up Washington—to alter the very nature of politics—sell his soul to a leisure activity that screams stodgy, hyperconventional Old Guard?” she asks.

By carefully reading her article, I learned several things about my favorite pastime and what it might say about you, me and the president of these United States. For instance, she outlines telltale signs of a “creeping golf addiction,” such as:
  • Playing for more than a decade
  • Playing for cash
  • Fretting about form
  • Goading others to leave work early for a round of golf
  • Constantly looking to squeeze in a few holes
Where might it all lead? To dark, risky places, according to Cottle.

“In the popular imagination, golf is the stuff of corporate deal-cutting, congressional junkets, and country club exclusivity,” she writes.

(Clearly, my golf addiction has been short-changing me.)

There’s more.

“And, unless a president is very careful, a golf habit can easily be spun as evidence of unseemly character traits ranging from laziness to callousness to out-of-touch elitism.”

(I definitely think I have the laziness down. But my out-of-touch elitism needs work.)

For the president to revamp his image in the new year, Cottle says “he could start by ditching golf.” If she knew I liked golf as much as the president, she might say the same thing to me.

They say the first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem. I have a problem. I miss too many four-footers. Now excuse me while I groove my putting stroke in the den.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Roberto De Vido/Flickr)

Monday, December 12

Bad Pairing: Rory McIlroy and Dengue Fever

GOLF PHENOM RORY MCILROY HAS BEEN suffering with the lingering effects of Dengue Fever, according to the Associated Press. Consequently, McIlroy has pulled out of this week’s Thailand Golf Championship and said he would not return to tournament golf until late January when he tees it up along with Tiger Woods at Abu Dhabi.

I admit I’m not familiar with Dengue Fever, so I consulted Wikipedia. It’s an infectious tropical disease that’s transmitted by mosquitoes. In all likelihood, Rory picked it up on his recent swing through Asia. Symptoms can include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains and a skin rash that’s similar to measles.

Apparently, Luke Donald has nothing to do with it, but if you’re playing with Dengue Fever, the top-ten, money-hoarding consistency of The Donald can only make you feel worse.

Doctors have ordered the World No. 2 golfer to put away his sticks and get some rest. McIlroy finished 11th at the Dubai World Championship, which was won by Spaniard Alvaro Quiros. World No. 1 Donald finished solo third to capture the European Tour money title, becoming the first player to win both the PGA and European Tour money titles in the same season.

“Luke deserves it,” McIlroy said. “Basically every time he’s teed it up he’s had a chance or he’s finished in the top five or top 10. Mentally you have to be so good just to keep grinding out the scores when you need to.

“But I’ve made great progress this year—with my game, with my results, with everything. I feel like I’m swinging the club as good as I ever have and I feel like my body is as strong as it’s ever been.”

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: Titleist.com)

Saturday, December 10

Best of the Best—PGA Tour Q-School of 1971 (Part 4)

(Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series. Read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.)

By John Coyne
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


Copyright © John Coyne. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

ON ONE OF THOSE RAINY afternoons at PGA National Golf Club, I let the players alone on the course and stopped by the pro shop to chat with head professional Lou Strong who had seen more players come through PGA National than most. I asked him what he thought was key to winning a tour card, or for that matter, what makes a good golfer.

“What makes a professional golfer, whoever they are, or wherever they are, is the ability to score,” he said.

“The pros call this ‘getting up and down.’ And to be able to score, the players must first be able to manage their game. They must know how to play a variety of shots from the same locations as circumstances dictate. They must also know the course they’re playing—know its putting grain, its wind and soil conditions, its distances yard by yard. And they must be able to come back from poor shots and bad rounds. Golf is,” Lou summed up, “a game of misses, not of hits.”

Lou went on to say that very few shots are executed perfectly. Everyone misses shots, but to par or even birdie a hole after an adverse shot is what makes a touring professional. It is, Lou says again, “the ability to ‘get it up and down.’” When Lou judges a new player he looks for the same thing. “A sound golf swing, a repeating swing, a control swing, and the ability to play varied shots.”

Still, not everyone can make it to the tour.

“I have seen players in my time,” Lou continued, “who have had all the shots, all the talent to be great winners, but still couldn’t make it. They lacked the strength of mind to come back from a bad shot or a bad round, to recover the mental quietude needed to execute the next shot, to play the next day. Professionals need to be able to pull themselves together, to eliminate tension, worry and the fear of failure, and perform the shot as if nothing else in the world mattered. And nothing else does matter until the shot is hit.”

To get ready to play, Lou had the same advice for pros as well as club members.

“Don’t go out to the practice area and bang away at balls. Hit twenty or thirty balls before a round, concentrating on the driver and the short iron. All you want to do is loosen up. Save the shots for the course.

“Most professionals spend the majority of their time on the putting green. That’s the right thing to do. If a young pro wants to make it on the tour, he’s going to have to make it on the green. Putting is a game of confidence. If you know you are going to make a putt when you step up to it, chances are you’ll make it.”

(To be continued.)

John Coyne is a bestselling author whose latest book is The Caddie Who Won the Masters. Learn more at John Coyne Books.

(Photo credit: Dave Fayram, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Friday, December 9

Best of the Best—PGA Tour Q-School of 1971 (Part 3)

(Editor’s note: This is the third in a series. Read Part 1 and Part 2.)

By John Coyne
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


Copyright © John Coyne. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

36-hole leader Lanny Wadkins.
IN THE ALL-DAY RAIN of the first round, Ken Harrelson, teeing off first, looking more hawkish than when he was playing baseball, his long blond hair dripping wet, went out in 34, birdieing the fourth and sixth holes. He instituted, for a handful of spectators, the Hawk Walk—strutting forward, arms stretched down, jaw jutting. The two birdie putts he holed were over 40 feet. He had a lot to strut about.

However, he triple-bogeyed number ten, hitting into the trees and the sand, then settled down to birdie the par-3 sixteenth, and finished with 38 and a par round of 72, the early leader in the clubhouse.

Everyone, most of all Ken, was overjoyed with his first round. He hung around the clubhouse telling baseball stories to Lou Strong, the club pro; Toney Penna, golf manufacturer, and others, but kept coming back to stand in the misty rain and read the leader board. His 72 didn’t hold up long. Sam Adams, a left-hander from Boone, North Carolina, was in with 69 and, later in the day, tall and thin and good looking Chuck Thorpe, an African-American from Detroit, Michigan, finished with a low for the day of 68. PGA Tour officials were also pulling for Thorpe and the other two African-American golfers who had made the school. The tournament circuit had only two black golfers playing regularly.

Meanwhile Spike Kelley of Shawnee, Oklahoma, who hadn’t been able to putt all summer because the greens had burned out on his home course, was one of the many shooting in the 80s in the first round. The only thing he had done right, he said, “was buy a Coke on the tenth hole.”

Tuesday morning the sun came out. Harrelson bogeyed his way around the front side—out in 43. He came back in 39 for a thirty-six hole total of 154. There was no Hawk Walk.

Harrelson was to have two more bad rounds—a 75 and an 82—before withdrawing, saying as he left, “I gotta get more experience before trying the school again.”

Other first-round leaders also faded. Left-handed Sam Adams went to 74. Chuck Thorpe to 76. Bruce Fleisher had a 77. But Bob Zender, 6 feet 2 inches and 210 pounds from Skokie, Illinois, a steady, unheralded golfer of twenty-eight, hitting every green, finished one under.

Lanny Wadkins, finished three under and was the second-round leader. Tom Watson, playing carefully, shot another 71.

Even Spike Kelley rallied, finished with a 74 and was philosophical about his chances. “If I don’t quality, at least by coming to Palm Beach I got to ride in a jet and see the ocean.”

(To be continued.)

John Coyne is a bestselling author whose latest book is The Caddie Who Won the Masters. Learn more at John Coyne Books.

Thursday, December 8

2011 Dubai World Championship TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2011 DUBAI WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP is underway at the Earth Course in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Peter Hanson is the first-round leader after an 8-under 64. Paul Lawrie, the 1999 British Open champion, trails by one. Rory McIlroy birdied five of the last six holes to post a 66. World No. 1 and Race to Dubai leader Luke Donald is at level par after a 72.


Swede Peter Hanson leads after a first-round 64 in Dubai.
Purse: $7.5 million
Winner’s share: $1.2 million
Defending champion: Robert Karlsson

2011 Dubai World Championship Leaderboard

Field in focus
Tee times
Venue and course info
Tournament news
Tournament statistics
Tournament history
Dubai World Championship website
Race to Dubai rankings


TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2011 Dubai World Championship is
on Golf Channel.

Friday, Dec 9
3-8 a.m. (Live) / 10 a.m.-3 p.m. (Replay)

Saturday, Dec 10
3-8 a.m. (Live) / 10 a.m.-3 p.m. (Replay)

Sunday, Dec 11

3-8 a.m. (Live) / 10 a.m.-3 p.m. (Replay)

Golf Channel Broadcast Team
Steve Burkowski (Studio Host)
Renton Laidlaw (Play by Play)
Warren Humphreys (Analyst)
Dougie Donnelly (Tower)
Ken Brown (On Course)
Julian Tutt (On Course)


−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo: Alan Ewens, Dubai World Championship)

Wednesday, December 7

Colin Montgomerie Promotes Golf in Afghanistan

CLAD IN BLUE JEANS AND a navy blue sweater, former European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie struck iron shots from scruffy turf as British troops and Afghan children looked on. Montgomerie had helped convert a firing range into a driving range at Camp Bastion, a British military base in Helmand. Then he showed his hosts how it was done.

“It was quite good to get the lads out and have a go,” Monty said of the impromptu exhibition and golf clinic.

The Scottish golf star spent three November days in Afghanistan, a roving golf ambassador of sorts. The trip was arranged by the PGA of Britain and Ireland. Montgomerie donated golf equipment and gave lessons to troops and youngsters. While acknowledging that Afghan youth were growing up in a war-torn land, he hoped golf could be a positive vehicle for the next generation.

“It is great to promote the game here to encourage the Afghans to have a [Olympic] team in 2016,” he said.

Monty offered swing tips to soldiers and about two dozen Afghan kids who had never gripped a golf club. After taking a turn, Masoma Alyari, a 15-year-old girl, said she hoped to play again.

“It’s the first time that I’ve played golf, and it’s really interesting,” Alyari said.

She might just be hooked.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Visor tip: BBC SPORT)

Tuesday, December 6

Can McIlroy Spurt Past Donald in Race to Dubai Finale?

Editor’s note: Complimentary tickets to the 2011 Dubai World Championship are available at www.DubaiWorldChampionship.com.

By Alan Ewens

Luke and Rory covet Dubai trophy.
AFTER THE MOST SUCCESSFUL YEAR in his short but spectacular career, World Number Two Rory McIlroy will go all out for one final push to become European Number One when the Dubai World Championship presented by DP World gets underway at Jumeirah Golf Estates on Thursday. But the 22 year-old star knows he faces a tough battle as Luke Donald, the man at the top of the order in both world and European rankings, is also coming off his most productive twelve months in the sport.

“Winning The Race to Dubai would obviously rank second after winning my first major,” said McIlroy, the reigning US Open Champion.

“I’ve got to win and Luke has to finish outside the top nine or ten—but I’m not really counting on him doing that because he’s only finished outside the top ten about twice this year!

“I need to play very well to beat a top class field—the top four players in the world and the top 60 in Europe are here, so it’s going to be a very tough ask.”

Held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Sports Council, the Dubai World Championship sees many of the greatest players on earth do battle for a share of $7.5 million in prize-money and a large slice of the additional $7.5 million Bonus Pool.

Awaiting the results of a blood test as a result of a virus, McIlroy arrived in Dubai fresh from victory at the UBS Hong Kong Open and is upbeat about being back in the UAE.

“I love it here, I really do,” said the popular Northern Irishman, seen by many as the natural heir to Tiger Wood’s crown. “This is a part of the world where I've done well before and it's obviously somewhere I’ve grown to know and love over the past few years.”

Despite all eyes being on the battle between the World Number One and Two, the field is packed with talent, including 2010 Dubai World Champion and Race to Dubai winner Lee Westwood.

“I think anybody who enjoys golf likes to see the season-ending event go down to the wire,” said Westwood. “You don’t want a foregone conclusion.

“It’s nice to see two people battling it out where somebody could have a putt to win both the Money List and the tournament. Rory’s obviously more experienced now and he did well to win last week and give himself a chance going into this event. But I think the ball is still in Luke’s court.”

(Photo: Alan Ewens, Dubai World Championship)

Monday, December 5

‘Champagne’ Tiger Woods

THAT NEXT WIN BY TIGER WOODS was bound to mean a lot to the maligned former world No. 1 golfer. Even if it did come in an 18-player event in early December. But could anyone imagine the steely Woods having champagne delivered to the media center?

In the words of legendary baseball play-by-play man Harry Caray, “Holy cow!”

Tony Lema, a talented tour pro who died at the age of 32 in a 1966 plane crash, became known as “Champagne Tony” after winning the 1964 British Open at St. Andrews. Lema’s surprising five-stroke win over runner-up Jack Nicklaus prompted a victory celebration that included sending champagne to the press. It was Lema’s first British Open appearance. With just nine holes of practice, Lema barely knew his way around the Old Course.

For at least one Sunday in Southern California, we witnessed Champagne Tiger. Unlike Lema, he knew his way around the course, Sherwood Country Club, where he had won a bunch of these Chevron (and other named) things. His dramatic birdie-birdie finish to disappoint Zach Johnson was certainly the Tiger-esque way to end the most talked about winless streak in the history of the world.

“It feels great,” Tiger said. “I know it’s been a while, but for some reason, it feels like it hasn’t, because coming down the stretch, I felt so comfortable.”

Those putts went in. And the champagne flowed.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, December 3

Best of the Best—PGA Tour Q-School of 1971 (Part 2)

(Editor’s note: This is the second in a series. Read Part 1.)

By John Coyne
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


Copyright © John Coyne. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

THE PGA TOUR Q-SCHOOL IN THE FALL of 1971 was six rounds of stroke play, but it was also two days of afternoon classes. Joe Dey, commissioner of the Tournament Players Division, gave the young pros (and as soon as a player enters the qualifying school he is considered a professional) classroom instruction by tournament players and the tour staff on players’ ethics and conduct, relations with the public, tournament sponsors and the news media, plus a written examination on the PGA Constitution, Tournament Players Division Regularities and the rules of golf.

Tour pros then talked to the students about life on the circuit and the game of golf.

Gardner Dickinson
Gardner Dickinson, a journeyman on the tour who had won over $450,000 in his career playing steady, unemotional golf, told them, “Sensationalism doesn’t get you anywhere. Good golf,” he said, “comes from hours on the practice tee. Learn to score from around the green.”

Bert Yancey, another tour winner, gave the young hopefuls a few basic principles for the circuit:

• Stay with one teacher
• Get a golf tempo
• Learn to putt all kinds of putts
• Practice difficult shots

He also told the kids to get plenty of rest every night, keep themselves in good physical condition, do exercise and eat the right food.

Throughout the lectures the young professionals were quiet and attentive, dressed neatly in slacks and sports jackets (required). Some jotted down notes, but all of them, I’m sure, were thinking ahead to the six rounds of golf that was where the real tests would be held.

The number of players who would pass onto the tour itself would be the top twenty-three, plus ties. That number was determined by Dey, and was based on the total number of golfers at the school and Dey’s estimation of how many new golfers the tour could support.

The tournament began on Monday in the rain, the first day of rain in months for Florida. It was a rain the pros were not disappointed to see, as it would help to slow the hard, fast greens of the championship East Course at PGA National.

In the long week of golf there was drama and excitement as many of the also rans, local pros such as Spike Kelley from Shawnee, Oklahoma, an assistant at a nine-hole course, tried to make the cut. Many private dreams of glory faded in the sun. It was all over for the majority until the next school in the next year, and another 108 holes of golf.

The first to fall was baseball’s great Ken Harrelson, the Hawk.

(To be continued.)

John Coyne is a bestselling author whose latest book is The Caddie Who Won the Masters. Learn more at John Coyne Books.

Friday, December 2

Best of the Best—PGA Tour Q-School of 1971

By John Coyne
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


Copyright © John Coyne. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

READING ABOUT THE PGA TOUR Q-School played this week at PGA West in La Quinta, California—that six-day, 108-holes annual rite-of-passage where pros qualify for next year’s tour—got me thinking about my one time I was up close and personal with some of the greats of the game. It was back in 1971 when the Q-school was staged for the last time at the PGA National Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Ken Harrelson traded his baseball bat for a golf club.
I wasn’t a player. There were no six days of qualifying for me. I had gone to Florida to interview the young players and then write a golf instructional book featuring these future professionals. My narrative was: what would these young guys have to say about the golf swing to improve one’s game? The book, Better Golf, was published that spring by Follett of Chicago. It also included dozens of photographs of the pros demonstrating techniques taken by the well respected sports photographer, Richard Raphael. Dick, who did 41 Super Bowls and shot nine Sports Illustrated magazine covers, has only this book to his golf credit.

In the fall of 1971 when I flew to Florida, everyone thought it was the 1967 Q-School that had featured the best young golfers. The Q-School was relatively new. It has started in 1965 as a way to systematically bringing new blood and talent into the game.

Lou Strong, who had head professional and managing director of the PGA National Golf Club for seven years, agreed that the ’67 class was the greatest. They were: Tony Jacklin, Bob Murphy, Orville Moody, Deane Beman, Gibby Gilbert, Lee Elder, Bobby Cole and Peter Townsend.

And they were the best for good reason. Graduate Bob Murphy would win two tournaments and earn $105,595 that next year. Orville Moody, two years later, won the U.S. Open Championship. And in the same year, 1969, Tony Jacklin won the British Open. The following year, he won the U.S. Open!

New Crop

But over time, it was proven that the ‘71 class was indeed the best of the Q-Schools. They were a new crop of young kids. And kids with a lot of talent.

Of the 357 players who started in regional tournaments across the country, only 75 made it to PGA National. That class included three former U.S. Amateur champions, the last two U.S. Public Links titleholders, two former NCAA champions, a co-holder of the World Cup team title and the current British Amateur champ.

Trying to qualify for the professional golf tour that fall was Lanny Wadkins, who was the 1970 U.S. Amateur champion and a member of the 1969 and 1971 U.S. Walker Cup teams. Steve Melnyk, then the British Amateur titleholder; John Mahaffey of Texas, the 1970 NCAA champion; Allen Miller and Bruce Fleisher, both Walker Cup players; and Tom Watson of Kansas City who had just graduated from Stanford University with a degree in psychology. The most experienced player at PGA National was David Graham, already an international star, having won the 1971 World Cup.

But what did made that year so special?

For one thing, that year’s crop was mostly composed of all young, bright and well-educated players. The average age was twenty-four. Sixty-six had attended college and had played on college golf teams. Thirty-five had already graduated.

That year was special, too, because it was the first time six rounds of golf were played in the final event. Two extra rounds had been added to make it a greater test of golf.

The Hawk

The Q-School also had a “class stand-out.” Trying to qualify that week was the famous baseball star Ken Harrelson, the Hawk, who had quit baseball in midseason because, as he said, “nothing could be worse than playing for the Cleveland Indians.” The Hawk had qualified regionally at Tanglewood Golf Club in Winston-Salem, shooting 288 and making the cut by two shots.

Ken was well liked by the other young pros, many of whom were eight years younger than he. The Hawk had time for everyone, was outgoing and friendly. Everyone was pulling for him, most of all the PGA tournament officials. An attractive, volatile personality, Harrelson, at the Massachusetts and Philadelphia classics, had already proved he could draw crowds. He could even out-gallery Arnold Palmer.

Well, six days in the rain and sun of Palm Beach would show the golfing world why The Hawk and the Class of 1971 were so special.

(To be continued.)

John Coyne is a bestselling author whose latest book is The Caddie Who Won the Masters. Learn more at John Coyne Books.

Thursday, December 1

2011 Chevron World Challenge TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2011 CHEVRON WORLD CHALLENGE is underway at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California. K.J. Choi is the early leader at 5 under with the first round in progress. Tournament host Tiger Woods is one back.


Tiger Woods and his former caddie Steve Williams.
Purse: $5 million
Winner’s share: $1.2 million
Defending champion: Graeme McDowell

2011 Chevron World Challenge Leaderboard

Field
Course
Tee times
Interviews
Tournament overview
Chevron World Challenge website


TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2011 Chevron World Challenge is
on Golf Channel and NBC.

Thu, 12/1:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Fri, 12/2:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Sat, 12/3:
NBC 3p - 6p ET

Sun, 12/4:
NBC 3p - 6p ET


−The Armchair Golfer

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