Saturday, June 30

Two Men, a Golf Ball and a Mercedes Set a World Record



F1 LEGEND DAVID COULTHARD CAUGHT A GOLF BALL rocketing through the air using a speedy automobile. A 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster, to be precise. In the process, Coulthard set a new Guinness World Record. And why wouldn’t he? I mean, how many people are trying this stunt?

The golf ball, struck by pro golfer Jake Shepherd, was clocked at an air speed of 178 mph. Meanwhile, the 571-horsepower Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster was traveling at more than 120 mph. Ball and car met 900 feet down the airport runway in Surrey, England.

(That’s 300 yards, right? Nice poke, Jake.)

One more thing: They did it (and set the world record) on just the second attempt of the day. No sense doddling. Well done, men.

Friday, June 29

U.S. Open Will Return to Olympic ‘at Drop of Hat’

SOME GOOD TIDBITS FROM RON KROICHICK of the San Francisco Chronicle regarding the most recent U.S. Open at the Olympic Club. Apparently, a sixth U.S. Open Championship at the Lake Course is a virtual lock.

Kroichick reported:
USGA executive director Mike Davis said June 17 that he wanted to return to Olympic, and he repeated the desire in a conversation this week with Stephen Meeker, the club’s general chairman for the Open.

Meeker met with Olympic’s board of directors Tuesday night and expects to send a letter to the USGA in the coming weeks.

“I think it will happen soon,” Meeker said. “Mike said they’d come back at the drop of a hat. He said it was one of the best Opens they’ve had in the last 20 years.”
With the U.S. Open scheduled through 2019, the earliest likely return to Olympic is 2022. (The championship will be played at Pebble Beach in 2019, and the USGA and Davis will want a reasonable gap between the next two Opens in Northern California.)

Furyk Followup

Kroichick filed another item about the man who saw his U.S. Open chances snap hook into the rough at the par-5 16th hole on Sunday. Jim Furyk. Back home in and around Jacksonville, Florida, a lot of golf fans are commiserating with Furyk. The grinding tour veteran has been running into them at the grocery store, in restaurants and elsewhere.

Furyk related an anecdote involving PGA Tour commish Tim Finchem, who was questioned by the local dry cleaner about Furyk’s ill-fated drive at the 16th.

“Why did he hit that shot?” Finchem was asked.

Well, he didn’t mean to, Finchem answered. But he shouldn’t have done it, came the reply.

Then Finchem with my quote of the week: “Yeah, no (kidding). I guess that’s why you shouldn’t break the buttons on my shirts, but it happens once in a while.”

(Visor tip: Geoff Shackelford)

Thursday, June 28

2012 AT&T National TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2012 AT&T NATIONAL HAS TEED OFF at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland. Bo Van Pelt is in the clubhouse with a 67. A lot of players are still on the golf course. And it’s hot, and on the way to getting much hotter. Think triple digits.

Purse: $6.5 million
Winner’s share: $1.116 million
Defending champion: Nick Watney

2012 AT&T National Leaderboard

Inside the field
Tee times
Inside the course
Player interviews
Tournament overview
Tour report
Tournament news
AT&T National website

TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2012 AT&T National is on Golf Channel and CBS.

Thu, 6/28:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Fri, 6/29:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Sat, 6/30:
CBS 3p - 6p ET

Sun, 7/1:
CBS 3p - 6:30p ET

SIRIUS-XM broadcast times

(Image: Courtesy of PGATour.com)

Wednesday, June 27

Book Excerpt: The Difference Between Boys and Girls on the Golf Course

By Leslie Andrews
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF

Copyright © 2012 Leslie Andrews. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Leslie Andrew’s new book.
LET’S GET DOWN TO BRASS TACKS here: what really is the difference between boys and girls? We’ve got pink and blue. Barbie and GI Joe. Dora and Diego. The differences start young and they stick for life. They exist in grade school, high school, college and b-school. They translate right into the business world, and darned if those differences don’t rear up on the golf course as well.

On the face of it, one might assume that the challenge of learning to play golf is the same for men as it is for women. Not so. Granted, all new golfers need to master a certain skill set, starting with grip, stance, posture, etc., right on through to learning a cut shot or a knockdown shot. These skills are not gender-specific and can be mastered equally well by men and women.

So what is so different for women in their quest to take up the game of golf?

Simply put, the psychological approach of women is far different from that of men. The mindset of the average woman learning to play golf is, “I can’t do this because I’m just not a good enough player.”

Symptom #1

Boys think they are entitled to play golf if they can find their way to the golf course. Girls think they have to excel at the game before they go out on the course. I’m here to tell you: the boys are right in this instance, without question.

I have had more women than I care to acknowledge tell me that they think they need to be as good as the people they watch on television (that would be PGA Tour and LPGA Tour professionals) before they venture onto the golf course. This is to say, women are saying, “I can’t play golf because I am not as good as the best players in the world.”

Huh?

Name one other endeavor in your life where you expect to do something as well as the BEST IN THE WORLD before you make it a hobby? Would you expect to play the piano like Elton John? To sing like Aretha Franklin? Time to re-calibrate those expectations.

There is a bare minimum knowledge and skill level one should have before going out to play golf:

• You should be able to propel the ball down the fairway with some regularity, preferably in the air more often than not.
• You should have an understanding of basic etiquette, especially an understanding of how to maintain pace of play.
• You should have some clue about the rules, but not much more than a clue because the rules of golf are endlessly complicated.

That’s it. Guys get this. They understand that the real point of golf is to go out and have fun, spend the day with some buddies, hit a couple of good shots, lots of lousy shots, have a few drinks, and go home. Come back next weekend and repeat. Or just show up at the company outing and smack a few balls around for 18 holes. As a result, men are far more likely to reap the business benefits of golf, simply because they are out there, not because they are doing a good imitation of Jack Nicklaus.

I recommend to female students who suffer from this symptom that they spend a half hour near the first tee of a golf course to observe several foursomes as they tee off. In the course of 30 minutes, you are likely to see a wide variety of shots—chances are most of them will go way right, way left, way anywhere but straight, and there will probably be a fair number of ground balls. Mixed in will be the occasional good shot, but the majority of golfers are hackers, which is to say, people out there hacking their way around the golf course. And that’s okay. More than okay—that’s golf!

The exercise of watching other golfers tee off provides women with a much needed context within which they can understand and appreciate their ability vis-a-vis the ability of others. The average golfer is nowhere near as good as the golfers you see on television, not even close.

Moral of the story: golf imitates life in that women feel they need to be “better than,” just to keep up. As it pertains to golf, women need a context in which to develop reasonable expectations—the basic expectation being that you play, not that you play particularly well.

Leslie Andrews is a Class A LPGA Teaching Professional and the author of EVEN PAR: How Golf Helps Women Gain the Upper Hand in Business. Learn more at LeslieAndrewsGolf.com.

Tuesday, June 26

Pounding Balls on 2nd Ave. in Downtown Seattle



IMAGINE STEPPING OUT OF YOUR OFFICE during your lunch hour and hitting range balls under the watchful eye of a well-regarded teaching professional. Some people had that opportunity recently on a busy street in downtown Seattle.

Using a pop-up driving range that closed down 2nd Ave., PGA pro Jeff Coston took his brand of golf instruction to the streets. The unusual experiment was made possible by GoPayment, a mobile credit-card reader and app from Intuit.

“Jeff Coston is a righteous dude,” commented a 49-year-old male. “I’d love to take golf lessons from him at his academy.”

A golf pro and driving range that come directly to where you work. How cool is that? I guess you’d have to eliminate “no time” and “can’t get to the course” from the golf excuse list.

Monday, June 25

Leishman Takes Two Weeks Off—And Wins

Marc Leishman won Travelers. (Allison)
TAKE TWO WEEKS OFF AND QUIT. That’s an old golf joke. But for Aussie Marc Leishman, taking two weeks off was no joke. After sitting out the FedEx St. Jude Classic and U.S. Open, Leishman won the Travelers Championship on Sunday, his first PGA Tour victory.

“I just had two weeks off, actually,” Leishman offered after his breakthrough. “I hardly touched the golf club.”

Yet when he touched it during Sunday’s final round, magical things happened. Leishman carded eight birdies and 10 pars, adding up to an eight-under-par 62. He only needed 24 putts to post a closing round that made up a six-shot deficit on the leaders, many of whom stumbled through the closing holes at TPC River Highlands.

“I didn’t think it [the closing 62] was going to be enough,” Leishman said. “Golf is a funny game, a really funny game.”

That’s gospel, but don’t tell that to Charley Hoffman. There was nothing funny (at least in a laughing sense) about Hoffman’s double bogey-bogey finish that handed 28-year-old Leishman his first win. Hoffman held a two-stroke lead with two holes to play before splashing his drive into the water. Nonetheless, he was still tied for the lead when he stepped onto the 18th tee.

But things went from worse to bad at the 444-yard par-4 hole. Hoffman called his play at the finishing hole “pretty pathetic,” saying it left a “bad taste in my mouth.”

Maybe Charlie needs some time away from the game. Perhaps two weeks.

Sunday, June 24

Two Golf Bloggers Meet in LA, Eat Hot Dogs

BOB SMILEY IS A TALENTED TV WRITER, author and golf blogger who knows a great spot to grab a gourmet hot dog (or burger) in Los Angeles. Bob and I met for lunch on Thursday at The Stand on Ventura Boulevard. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention him before I fly home to Virginia.

(A brief digression: I’m so pleased that the US Airways terminal at LAX has free wireless, which will greatly help me pass the next three hours as I wait to board my red-eye flight to Charlotte.)

Strange and wonderful things can happen when you start a golf blog.

Bob has enjoyed the heady success of writing for popular TV shows and Hollywood projects. He also has experienced times during which he wondered when his next paycheck (or any check) would land in his bank account.

A few years ago, Bob started a golf blog that led to columns for ESPN.com that led to his first book, FOLLOW THE ROAR: Trailing Tiger for All 604 Holes of His Most Spectacular Season. And now his second book is out, an excellent political novel titled Don’t Mess With Travis. Whatever your political leanings, this book is razor-sharp funny and highly entertaining. I’m 98 percent certain that Bob is the cleverest person I know.

I, too, started a golf blog many years ago, and a virtual introduction was made when Bob was making the rounds with FOLLOW THE ROAR. Later, as I pitched and wrote my first golf book, Bob penned a blurb for me. If you have any idea how hard it is to land a book deal these days, then you also might have some idea how much that meant to me. As far as I’m concerned, Bob and I are friends for life.

So, the takeaway is that golf blogging, besides being fun in itself, can lead to surprising opportunities and friendships. If you keep writing and writing and writing, good things can happen and great connections can be made. For some crazy reason, Bob and I both started golf blogs, and now, between us, have written three books. We’re even with the same publisher, Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press.

We’ve now also eaten gourmet hot dogs together on Ventura Boulevard in Encino. That, I’m thinking, creates an even stronger bond (and perhaps a bit of shared indigestion). And, yes, we both had fries with that. I’m glad Bob Smiley is my friend.

Friday, June 22

2012 Travelers Championship TV Schedule and Tournament Notes


THE 2012 TRAVELERS CHAMPIONSHIP is nearing the halfway point at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut. Defending champion Fredrik Jacobson is the current leader at 9 under par. Nathan Green and Charley Hoffman are 1 shot off the pace.

Purse: $6 million
Winner’s share: $1.08 million
Defending champion: Fredrik Jacobson

2012 Travelers Championship Leaderboard

Inside the field
Tee times
Inside the course
Player interviews
Tournament overview
Tour report
Tournament news
Travelers Championship website

TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2012 Travelers Championship is on Golf Channel and CBS.

Fri, 6/22:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Sat, 6/23:
CBS 3p - 6p ET

Sun, 6/24:
CBS 3p - 6p ET

SIRIUS-XM broadcast times

(Image: Courtesy of PGATour)

Wednesday, June 20

Coming to America: Lee Westwood

Westwood
 LEE WESTWOOD, THE WORLD NO. 3 PLAYER who finished tied for 10th in the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club, is moving to America by year’s end, according to BBC Sport.

Westwood, 39, realizes his time as an elite player is running out. He believes a move to the States will increase his chances to become a major champion, something he’s failed to become in 57 attempts. The Englishman has 15 top-10 finishes in majors. Nearly half have been top threes.

“There are a number of reasons,” Westwood said at BBC Sport, “but the main one is I haven’t got that much time left at the top and I want to give myself the best chance of staying there as long as I can.”

He also cited the elements as a factor in the move.

“With our weather it is hard to practise when you want to practise in the UK.”

Westwood will still be a member of the European Tour while joining players such as Luke Donald, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey who have taken up residence on the western side of the Atlantic.

Tuesday, June 19

Why President Obama Should Have Played Midlothian

By John Coyne
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


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

OVER FATHER’S DAY WEEKEND, PRESIDENT OBAMA went out of his home in Hyde Park to play golf at Beverly Country Club on the southside of Chicago. I’ve been to Beverly Country Club, not to play, but to caddie back when I was a kid caddie. We used to call Beverly “a ritzy club.” But, hey, I’ve been around Chicago! Well, at least as a caddie.

Now if I had been advising Obama on where to play golf, I would have suggested Midlothian Country Club, not only for sentimental reasons (my own) but also because it is a better course. And famous in ways that Beverly never has been, never will be. I’ll grant that Beverly has more political types and ex-cons as members, but Midlothian has history and pedigree.

Take history.

Midlothian Country Club was built in 1898; it is one of the oldest golf clubs in America. Members financed their own two-mile railroad from the Rock Island line to the golf course where they also built summer cottages. The first members were among the most wealthy in the Midwest. Also, the elegant club house was sited on one of the highest points in Cook Country (not that that is anything to brag about in Illinois).

Hagen, Evans, Ouimet, Locke and Casper

It was at Midlothian in 1914 that Walter Hagen defeated Chick Evans by one stroke to win his first U.S. Open and begin Hagen’s amazing professional career. Francis Ouimet defeated a Midlothian Club member (at Midlothian) in 1917 to win the Western Amateur. You remember the movie, The Greatest Game Ever Played; that Ouimet. South African Bobby Locke, in 1948, won the sixth and final Victory National Open at the club by sixteen strokes, still the widest margin of victory ever in a professional tournament. I was a little kid then and I followed Locke for four rounds. Next, Billy Casper won the 1969 and 1973 Western Opens at Midlothian.

My point is that the President would have been wiser to drive past Beverly and travel a few more miles south and play at Midlothian.

Political and Underworld Figures

The news reports said that Beverly is no stranger to political heavyweights. Judges and lawmakers play there. State Speaker of the House Mike Madigan and Aldermen Ed Burke are members. The other day they were seen having a drink in the men’s lounge. Also present was former Aldermen Ed Vrodylak, just released from federal prison, who was playing golf with friends and joking about his prison time.

However, Midlothian did have its own cast of characters. When I was a kid, off the eleventh fairway and back in the trees, was the retirement home of Al Capone’s chauffeur who once told my Dad that he slept with a pistol under his pillow.

We also had our own political types. John S. Boyle, States Attorney for Cook County and, later, Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, was a member. Boyle was politically notorious. The Chicago Council of Lawyers accused him of using the Chief Judge’s assignment power to place politically sensitive cases in the hands of judges who were responsive to the influence of the Cook County democratic machine.

Hey, it’s Chicago!

In my last years working at the club, the son of Antonino Leonardo Accardo, the famous “Joe Batters” (Al Capone nicknamed him that after he killed two men with a baseball bat) was a member. Young Tony wasn’t a bad golfer either. I’m just thinking that the next time Obama is back home, he should come play at Midothian.

And I’ll tell you what. I’ll caddie for the Prez. In my day, I was the No. 1 caddie at Midlothian! No small honor! And as any golfer knows, a good caddie is worth his (or her) weight in gold.

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

Monday, June 18

Another Simpson Wins at Olympic

Editor’s note: I’m at the Olympic Club in San Francisco all week for the 112th U.S. Open Championship.

Webb Simpson
THE FOG AND WEBB SIMPSON ROLLED into the Olympic Club on Sunday afternoon. Simpson rolled away from the difficult Lake Course with the U.S. Open trophy after firing a 2-under 68. Simpson finished at 1-over par for a one-stroke victory over Graeme McDowell (73) and Michael Thompson (67). Meanwhile, several players, including three U.S. Open champions, were lost in a fog of bogeys and missed opportunities.

“I definitely thought about winning and wanted to win,” Simpson said, “but I was just trying to keep my mind focused on the hole that I was playing and just somehow make pars.”

Simpson shot consecutive 68s on the weekend to become the fifth winner at the Olympic Club and the second Simpson. Scott Simpson won in 1987. Jack Fleck (1955), Billy Casper (1966) and Lee Janzen (1998) are the other players who won on the sloping fairways along Lake Merced.

“It hasn't sunk in at all,” Simpson said about his first major victory and third PGA Tour title.

“When Graeme missed on 18 and I realized I had won, I just kind of shook my head in disbelief. I couldn’t believe it actually happened.”

Sunday, June 17

U.S. Open Final Round Need to Know

Editor’s note: I’m at the Olympic Club in San Francisco all week for the 112th U.S. Open Championship.

“You look at people’s faces out there—they’re looking pretty wound up and stressed, aren’t they?” –Lee Westwood

I LIKE THE U.S. OPEN CHANCES OF CO-LEADERS Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk, two gritty competitors who already have their names on the coveted trophy. McDowell was the 2010 champion at Pebble Beach; Furyk captured the national title at Olympia Fields in 2003. I was especially impressed with Furyk’s third round, as the veteran carded an even-par 70 while dealing with the chaotic atmosphere of a Tiger Woods pairing.

Should GMac and Furyk falter, there are plenty of able contenders. Chief among them is Lee Westwood, who is desperate to shed his bridesmaid label. Also lurking are two-time U.S. Open champion Ernie Els, journeyman Fredrik Jacobson, Jason Dufner, Webb Simpson, amateur Beau Hossler and several others.

The Leaders (Tee Times and Scores)
1:50 – Casey Wittenberg (+5), Tiger Woods (+4)
2:00 – Matt Kuchar (+4), Martin Kaymer (+4)
2:10 – Retief Goosen (+4), John Peterson (+3)
2:20 – Jason Dufner (+3), (a)Beau Hossler (+3)
2:30 – John Senden (+3), Kevin Chappell (+3)
2:40 – Webb Simpson (+3), Nicolas Colsaerts (+2)
2:50 – Blake Adams (+2), Ernie Els (+2)
3:00 – Lee Westwood (+2), Fredrik Jacobson (+1)
3:10 – Jim Furyk (-1), Graeme McDowell (-1)

The Course
The Olympic Club, Lake Course
Yardage: 7,170
Par: 34-36–70
Note: Five of the six most difficult holes on the Lake Course are on the opening six-hole stretch.

TV Coverage
Sunday: NBC, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT
Monday (if there’s a playoff): ESPN, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. PT; NBC, 11 a.m. to conclusion PT

The Money
Total purse: $8 million
Winner’s share: $1.44 million

McDowell, Furyk Lead (Wide) Open Championship

By Brian Keogh
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


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.

Jim Furyk (Allison)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Graeme McDowell produced a series of clutch par saves, then played his last nine holes in three under par to grab a share of the lead with Jim Furyk entering the final round of the US Open at The Olympic Club.

After getting up and down for pars at the fifth, sixth and eighth, he followed what he described as “a bit of a Tarzan five” at the par-four ninth—he was swinging from the trees—by playing the back nine in three under par for a 68 that left him tied at the top with 42-year old Furyk, the 2003 champion, on one-under par.

The pair, who played together for the first two rounds, are two shots clear of Sweden’s Fredrik Jacobson (68) with England’s Lee Westwood (67), two time champion Ernie Els (68), Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts (71) and 36-year old American debutant Blake Adams (70) three shots behind in joint fourth on two over.

Tiger Woods slipped from a share of the lead to 14th, five shots off the pace, after a disappointing 75.

“I struggled on the greens today, quite a bit,” Woods said.

“They looked quick, but they putted slow. But they were firmer than they were yesterday. So it was a tough tough feel for me to adjust to and it was amazing how all day I kept getting a half club. Just one of those days where I was right in between clubs on about every single shot. Just never quite had the right number.”

With the top 17 players covered by just five shots, McDowell is taking nothing for granted as he bids for his second US Open title in three years, a third successive US Open win for Northern Ireland and an incredible fourth success for Irish golf from the last nine majors.

“Obviously delighted with my effort today,” said McDowell, who captured the title just 120 miles down the coast at Pebble Beach two years ago.

“Myself and Jim played together the first two rounds, so we’ll have the pleasure of one another’s company tomorrow. It’s wide open. I look at guys at two and three and four over par in this tournament, who I really think they have a realistic shot to win tomorrow.”

Like McDowell, Furyk knows that the tournament is still wide open but he was reluctant to pick a winning score.

“Graeme and I are tied for the lead, but there’s a bunch of people piled up and close to it,” he said. “Obviously I like being up front in the position I’m in.”

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

Saturday, June 16

‘Main Street’ at the U.S. Open

Editor’s note: I’m at the Olympic Club in San Francisco all week for the 112th U.S. Open Championship.

A FEW WEEKS AGO I WAS TALKING to Bill Callan, a longtime Olympic club member and the club historian for about two decades. Callan was amazed as he watched the transformation of his home club into a U.S. Open venue. This isn’t a golf tournament; it’s an event, he said with emphasis. It’s nothing like 1998 (the last time the Olympic Club hosted the U.S. Open), he added.

Callan has been around for each of the five Opens played at Olympic. During the first one in 1955, the historic upset of Ben Hogan by Jack Fleck, 13-year-old Callan was a scorecard runner. He got Ben Hogan’s autograph but later lost it.

On the scene since Monday, I fully understand why Callan marvels at what he sees at his normally sedate home course. This week the Olympic Club is a small city. Bordering the golf course is a long row of small, medium and massive tents where members normally park their cars. Picnic tables dot the area where food and drink are served. People stand in front of giant outdoor screens that televise the golf action, some of which is not more than a solid 8-iron from where they stand.

The thoroughfare—I’ll call it Main Street—adjacent to the numerous tents filled with food, exhibits, information and other stuff is constantly bustling with people. It’s an event, a happening, an experience. If you strolled along Main Street, you’d see these “storefronts”:

Wine Cellar
The Dog House
Olympic Grill
Coffee Café
Chevron Stem Zone (an exhibit highlighting science of golf)
Public Telephones
USGA Survey
Information
Lexus Performance Drive Challenge
American Express Championship Experience
Disabled Services

At the end of Main Street sits:

Merchandise Pavilion
USGA Members Clubhouse
Concessions
Merchandise Bag Check
Shipping
Trophy Club

There is more activity here this weekend than in some small cities across America. Come Monday, or Tuesday, it will be a ghost town. And not long after, it will vanish altogether, becoming, once again, a parking lot for Bill Callan and his fellow members of the Olympic Club.

Survivor: The Olympic Challenge

Editor’s note: I’m at the Olympic Club in San Francisco all week for the 112th U.S. Open Championship.

WELCOME TO “SURVIVOR: THE OLYMPIC CHALLENGE.” This year’s U.S. Open resembles the long-running reality TV show in which a group of strangers are marooned in a brutal, desolate locale, oftentimes a remote island or other undesirable habitat. They must compete in ridiculously difficult conditions that eat away at every fiber of their physical, mental and emotional well-being. In the end, there’s only one survivor.

Host Jeff Probst might not be here, but “survivor” is the apt word for this weekend’s proceedings at the Olympic Club. This, folks, is the U.S. Open, the real deal, not that imposter I witnessed last year at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland. A course softened by untimely rains produced a record score by Rory McIlroy. Congrats, Rory, well played, your name deserves to be on the trophy because you ran away from the field.

But the 2011 edition wasn’t my grandfather’s or my father’s U.S. Open. Heck, it wasn’t even my U.S. Open. A 16-under par winning score? And 18 more players under par? I’m sorry, 2011 U.S. Open, but I don’t know you.

This week is more like it. Much more like it.

At 1-over par after 36 holes, 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell is bidding to add his name to the silver trophy for the second time. Here’s what GMac said after walking off the Lake Course on Friday.

“It’s just tough to have fun out there, I got to be honest with you. It’s just a brutal test of golf.”

After missing the cut, Masters champion Bubba Watson said, “This course is too tough for me.”

The other day Matt Kuchar, winner of the Players Championship, said the first 18 holes are really hard.

And Tiger’s take? “It was hard,” said the tournament co-leader and winner of 14 majors with a shake of his head. “That golf course is some kind of quick.”

Ah, music to my ears.

There’s a reason they call it “Golf’s Toughest Test.” This is the U.S. Open. Whine all you want about how hard it is—it won’t change a thing.

It’s now the weekend. All but 72 golfers have been dismissed from the island, er, the peninsula. The strongest have survived and will trek the vaunted Lake Course along the sparkling waters of Lake Merced in search of pars, and, if they’re very fortunate, an occasional birdie.

By Sunday evening, or perhaps Monday, there will be one lone survivor. Who will it be?

Friday, June 15

An Amateur Is Leading the U.S. Open

Editor’s note: I’m at the Olympic Club in San Francisco all week for the 112th U.S. Open Championship.

SHADES OF HARVIE WARD. AN AMATEUR by the name of Beau Hossler is leading the U.S. Open on Friday afternoon at the Olympic Club. The 17-year-old Hossler is currently 2 under on his second round and the tournament, which gives him a one-stroke margin over Jim Furyk and first-round leader Michael Thompson. From Rancho Santa Margarita in Orange County, California, Hossler fired an even-par 70 in round one.

Ward, an All-American at University of North Carolina, was tied for the lead with Tommy Bolt at the halfway point of the 1955 U.S. Open held at the Olympic Club.

The last amateur to win the U.S. Open was Johnny Goodman in 1933 at North Shore Country Club outside of Chicago.

A 12-Year-Old Golf Fan With a Homemade Periscope

Editor’s note: I’m at the Olympic Club in San Francisco all week for the 112th U.S. Open Championship.

IT DIDN’T MATTER THAT RORY MCILROY was 10-over par and on his way to a missed cut as the defending U.S. Open champion. Corey Cato was rooting for the Northern Irishman. McIlory, last year’s hero at Congressional, was young Cato’s man. The 12-year-old boy was attending the 2012 U.S. Open on Friday with his father.

Cato had fashioned a homemade periscope made of cardboard and held together with masking tape. He peered through his one-of-a-kind viewing device alongside the 7th fairway on a Chamber of Commerce day at the Olympic Club. The boy from Vacaville, California, took up the game of golf at the age of 7. He said he doesn’t bother to keep score. He just plays for fun.

Father and son attended one other U.S. Open, the 2010 championship at Pebble Beach.

McDowell Sparkles While McIlroy Flames Out

By Brian Keogh
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


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.

Graeme McDowell (Allison)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - A grinding Graeme McDowell birdied his last two holes for a one-under 69 that left him tied for second and just three shots off the lead after a punishing opening day at the US Open on a hard and fast Olympic Club.

But while the 2010 champion proved he’s one of the toughest and cleverest operators out there, defending champion Rory McIlroy showed that he’s got a lot to learn about grinding out a score as he slumped to a seven-over 77 that leaves him in danger of missing the cut.

The 23-year old world No 2 promised before the start that he would attack the course with his driver and try to glean as many birdies as possible to offset the inevitable bogeys. But he was never in position to do that and made just one—at the par three 13th—and hit just seven fairways in his worst opening round as a professional for more than five years.

McIlroy also took the option not to face reporters after his round and instead made his comments to a USGA official in private, explaining that he simply could not get himself in position to score.

Playing in the marquee afternoon group with world No 1 Luke Donald and No 3 Lee Westwood, few would have predicted that they would make just three birdies between them. Westwood had two in a three-over 73 while Donald had none in a lackluster 79.

“I didn’t I got off to a decent start and then it’s just so tough here if you put yourself out of position at all,” said McIlroy, who bogeyd the first, fifth, seventh, ninth and 12th before making his only birdie of the day at the 13th. “It’s so tough to make your pars from there.”

McDowell got off to a great start on the tougher front nine when he parred his first six holes and followed a bogey at the driveable seventh with a great par save at the eighth, where he pulled his tee shot well left but holed an 18 footer for his par. A bogey at the 12th left him one over par but he dug deep and finished in style with birdies at the 17th and 18th.

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

Thursday, June 14

A Fast Start for Tiger Woods

Editor’s note: I’m at the Olympic Club in San Francisco all week for the 112th U.S. Open Championship.

THE OLYMPIC CLUB SURPRISED TIGER WOODS this morning. The three-time U.S. Open champion knew the course would get quicker as the week progressed. What he didn’t expect was that the Lake Course would drastically pick up the pace in just 24 hours.

“I was very surprised at how much it had changed overnight,” Woods said after carding a fine 1-under 69 that puts him near the top of the leaderboard after round one of the 2012 U.S. Open, “just how much speed that the fairways had picked up and the springiness of the greens.”

“We knew the greens were going to be a little quicker,” he added, “but I didn't think they would be this firm this early in the week.”

Tiger made the necessary adjustments and had nearly total control of his game on this sunny Thursday while playing partners Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson struggled all the way around the sloping layout in 76 and 78 strokes, respectively.

As subdued as Woods is in interviews and at media conferences—especially early in the tournament—it was evident that he was more than satisfied with his opening 18.

When asked how pleased he was with his round, Tiger said, “Very pleased. I had a good game plan going in and I executed all the way through and ended up with a score under par, which was nice.”

Woods trails clubhouse leader Michael Thompson (66) by three shots. Also in with 69 is David Toms. Meanwhile, Mickelson and Masters champion Watson will be fighting to post a number on Friday that gets them to the weekend.

Win a New Lexus at Lexus Performance Challenge

Editor’s note: I’m at the Olympic Club in San Francisco all week for the 112th U.S. Open Championship.

IT’S MIDDAY THURSDAY AT THE OLYMPIC CLUB. Even though first-round play of the 2012 U.S. Open is underway and the grounds are filled with golf fans straining to get a look at marquee players such as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, there’s a steady stream of people at the Lexus Performance Challenge, a large tent situated not far from the merchandise pavilion.

It’s a worthwhile stop. For one thing, if a person can manage to make a hole-in-one on a fancy golf course simulator, he or she will win a 2013 Lexus. That’s definitely worth a few minutes of time away from the golf action. Several people are lined up. One woman wearing a stylish straw hat tries her luck on a par 3 at The Links at Spanish Bay. She misses the ball on the first try. Then she connects, but the ball flies into the weedy marsh well short of the green.

There are also other activities to entertain golf fans. One man has won the U.S. Open in a pretend kind of way, posing for a photograph or video while holding a replica of the silver trophy with Olympic’s 18th green and Mediterranean-style clubhouse as a backdrop. Others await their chance to hoist the trophy. Later they can post the fun image on Facebook or elsewhere to impress their friends.

Lexus ambassador Natalie Gulbis is scheduled to sign autographs this afternoon. Jason Day, Charles Howell III and Nick Watney also serve as ambassadors for the luxury auto maker. Plus, a 2013 candy-apple red Lexus is on display, but I prefer the jet-black GS 350 I’m driving this week, courtesy of the Lexus folks.

No purchase is necessary to have this bit of fun. Stop by the Lexus Performance Challenge on the way to or from the merchandise pavilion. You might just walk away with a shiny new Lexus.

Wednesday, June 13

2012 U.S. Open Is a Sellout

By USGA

TICKETS FOR CHAMPIONSHIP ROUNDS OF THE 2012 U.S. Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif., are completely sold out, according to the United States Golf Association (USGA). This is the 26th consecutive year that tickets for the U.S. Open have sold out.

“The streak of 26 U.S. Open sellouts began right here at The Olympic Club in 1987,” said USGA Executive Director Mike Davis.

“We thank all the fans who have turned out over the years to support our national championship, and we welcome those who will join us here this week. It should be a great test of golf.”

Tickets for juniors are always available on site at will call and at all admission gates during the championship. Juniors age 12 and younger will be admitted free of charge any day when accompanied by an adult ticket holder. Tickets for juniors ages 13 to 17 will be available at a reduced rate of $15 for practice rounds and $35 for championship rounds. There is a maximum of two junior tickets per one adult ticket holder. Junior tickets permit Trophy Club access only when accompanied by an adult Trophy Club ticket holder. Junior tickets do not permit 1895 Club access.

For more information, visit www.usopen.com.

Jack Fleck Slept Here

Editor’s note: I’m at the Olympic Club in San Francisco all week for the 112th U.S. Open Championship.

Courtesy of Jack Giusto Jr.
FOUR YEARS AGO ON A VISIT to the Olympic Club to research my book, THE LONGEST SHOT, I decided to see if I could locate the small motel where Jack Fleck stayed during that fateful week in June 1955. I’m glad I did.

The El Camino Motel, built circa 1950, is now the El Camino Inn, a family business that has passed through three generations. I stepped into the small retro-looking lobby and inquired if anyone knew of Fleck’s weeklong visit a half century ago. I was put in touch with Jack Giusto Jr., the grandson of the original owner.

Giusto was born a week before Fleck’s shocking Open victory. A few interesting details of the Iowan’s stay had passed from Giusto’s grandfather to father to Giusto. He shared those memories with me a few weeks later on the telephone. Jack Fleck rearranged the furniture in his motel room, Giusto told me. They never knew why. Maybe it had something to do with Jack’s yoga, they guessed.

Later on over dinner in Raleigh, North Carolina, I asked Jack if he moved the furniture in his motel room in Daly City. And, if so, why. Indeed he did, but it had nothing to do with his yoga. Jack turned the bed so his head would face north to benefit from the positive magnetic energy of the North Pole.

Small mystery solved.

Fleck slept like a baby, even on the night before facing the great Ben Hogan in an 18-hole playoff to determine the U.S. Open champion.

In the weeks leading up to this year’s U.S. Open, Giusto has highlighted the 1955 U.S. Open champion’s stay on the inn’s marquee (photo). Julius Boros, U.S. Open champion in 1952 and 1963, also stayed at the El Camino in June of 1955, as did 1957 U.S. Open champion Dick Mayer.

Do I detect a trend?

Tuesday, June 12

Why Phil Loves a Tiger Tee Time

Editor’s note: I’m at the Olympic Club in San Francisco all week for the 112th U.S. Open Championship.

PHIL AND TIGER, TIGER AND PHIL. Together again. Well, at least for the first two rounds of the 2012 U.S. Open that begins on Thursday at the Olympic Club.

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, with Bubba Watson in tow, will go off at 10:33 a.m in round one. Here’s what Lefty said about playing with Tiger at Tuesday’s media conference.

Q. One of your best rounds of the year and one of your best rounds in a long time was the 64 the final day at Pebble. We have the glamor pairing tomorrow, you and Tiger and Bubba. It’s great for the fans. Is it good for you guys?

PHIL MICKELSON: It’s fabulous.

Q. You love it?

PHIL MICKELSON: Fabulous. I’ll tell you why. First of all, I get excited to play with Tiger, I love it. I think we all do. He gets the best out of me. I think when it’s time to tee off on Thursday I’ll be ready to play. One of the issues I’ve had this year I’ve been a little mentally lethargic on Thursday and Friday. I won’t be this week. Second is, the one player I’m most concerned about if I play my best golf that may have a chance to beat me is Tiger. And the fact that we are on the same wavelength, I’m always am in favor of. Sometimes we’ll get a huge advantage in tee times, based on weather conditions or whatnot, if we’re in the same wavelength, neither of us will have a distinct advantage.

Don’t Be Fooled by Olympic’s Lake Course

Editor’s note: I’m at the Olympic Club in San Francisco all week for the 112th U.S. Open Championship.

The Olympic Club-Lake Course
Yardage: 7,170
Par: 34-36–70
Architects: Willie Watson, Sam Whiting
Opened in: 1924
Previous U.S. Opens: 1955, 1966, 1987, 1998

ON THE SUNDAY BEFORE THE 1955 U.S. Open, the San Francisco Chronicle ran an aerial photograph of the Olympic Club with a headline that read, “And here’s the course—a terror, start to finish.” With tall, thick rough, tight fairways and 30,000 trees capable of creating darkness on a sunny day, the 1955 version of the Lake Course was, indeed, a terror. First-round scores averaged near 80 and only 14 men cracked an aggregate score of 300, a whopping 20-over par.

In two days, the U.S. Open tees off at the Olympic Club for the fifth time. The 2012 incarnation of the Lake Course is not a terror. It probably won’t strike fear in the hearts of the world’s best players. But they may be fooled, for this Lake Course could be described with another “t” word—trickster.

I walked the back nine late on Monday. In a short while, I plan to hike the front-nine holes. The rough, said to be four inches long, is not intimidating by U.S. Open standards. And at 7,170 yards, Olympic is a short Open course. So what makes it so hard?

The endless slopes and tilting fairways, for one. As noted in the USGA’s 2012 Championship Preview, it’s critical to position tee shots in the right spots, not just anywhere in the fairway, although finding any patch of the short grass is always a good thing in the pressure-filled U.S. Open.

Two, the greens are small and well protected by deep bunkers. I was here once before in 2008. But I had forgotten just how small the putting surfaces are. Whether off the tee or to the green, players will need pinpoint accuracy around this place. If they’re off the mark on approach shots, they’ll face tricky chips and pitches. And nerve-wracking, slick putts to rescue their pars.

The Olympic Club is a shotmaker’s course. There are doglegs left and right. It helps to be able to curve the golf ball both ways on this picturesque layout that borders Lake Merced. Don’t be fooled by the scorecard either. Due to the cool marine air and the possibility of ocean breezes, the Lake Course always seems to play longer than the yardage on the hole signs. Ben Hogan once called it “the longest short course in the world.”

So even though the rough doesn’t look too tough and the course is not lengthy, beware of this par-70 trickster. Pars will be good. Birdies will be hard-earned. And by Sunday (or Monday if a playoff is needed), like Jack Fleck, Billy Casper, Scott Simpson and Lee Janzen before him, the 2012 winner will have survived a difficult test.

Monday, June 11

2012 U.S. Open TV Schedule

Editor’s note: I’m at the Olympic Club in San Francisco all week for the 112th U.S. Open Championship.

IMPORTANT NOTE: All times are Pacific Time.

Tuesday, June 12
11 a.m.-Noon                                                    SportsCenter@ the U.S. Open, ESPN2

Wednesday, June 13                                      
11 a.m.-Noon                                                    SportsCenter@ the U.S. Open, ESPN2
8-9 p.m.                                                            SportsCenter@ the U.S. Open, ESPN2 (tape)
            
Thursday, June 14
9 a.m-Noon                                                       Live coverage, ESPN/ESPN3.com
Noon-2 p.m.                                                      Live coverage, NBC
2-7 p.m.                                                            Live coverage, ESPN/ESPN3.com
9-10 p.m.                                                          SportsCenter@ the U.S. Open, ESPN2
10 p.m.-1 a.m.                                                  Best of Round 1, ESPN 2 (tape)

Friday, June 15
9 a.m-Noon                                                      Live coverage, ESPN/ESPN3.com
Noon-2 p.m.                                                     Live coverage, NBC
2-7 p.m.                                                            Live coverage, ESPN/ESPN3.com
9-10 p.m.                                                          SportsCenter@ the U.S. Open, ESPN2
11 p.m.-2 a.m.                                                  Best of Round 2, ESPN2 (tape)
             
Saturday, June 16
10:30-11:30 a.m.                                              SportsCenter@ the U.S. Open, ESPN
12-1 p.m.                                                          Live at U.S. Open, NBC
1-7 p.m.                                                            Live coverage, NBC               
9-10 p.m.                                                          SportsCenter@ the U.S. Open, ESPN2
11 p.m.-2 a.m.                                                  Best of Round 3, ESPN2 (tape)

Sunday, June 17
10:30-11:30 a.m.                                              SportsCenter@ the U.S. Open, ESPN
12-1 p.m.                                                          Live at U.S. Open, NBC
Noon-7 p.m.                                                     Live Coverage, NBC
9-10 p.m.                                                          SportsCenter@ the U.S. Open, ESPN2
10 p.m.-1 a.m.                                                  Best of the Final Round, ESPN2 (tape)
  
Monday, June 18*
9-11 a.m.                                                          Live coverage, ESPN/ESPN3.com
11 a.m..-conclusion                                          Live Coverage, NBC

*If needed, an 18-hole playoff is scheduled for Monday, June 18.

The Early History of the Olympic Club

Editor’s note: I’m at the Olympic Club in San Francisco all week for the 112th U.S. Open Championship.

The Olympic Club had a storied sports history long before golf entered the scene.

SIX MONTHS BEFORE ABRAHAM LINCOLN WAS ELECTED as the 16th president of the United States, two German-born brothers, Arthur and Charles Nahl, and Ruben Lloyd formed what would become America’s first athletic club. Students of the Turnverein, a German gymnastics program created by Friedrich Jahn, the Nahl brothers had built an exercise area in the backyard of their San Francisco home where young athletes gathered to work out.

In May 1860, they made it official and a name was chosen: The San Francisco Olympic Club, named for Mount Olympus in Greece, home to the first Olympic Games and its legendary Greek athletes. Arthur Nahl and two other men drew up a constitution and by-laws. Twenty-three men paid a $6 initiation fee and monthly dues of $2.50 to become charter members.

The club’s first location was a small loft above a coal yard at the corner of New Montgomery and Market streets. The monthly rent for the modest premises was $100. With a capacity of 75 people, the club quickly outgrew the space and moved to a location on Market Street, where the membership climbed to 500. The club continued to rent quarters throughout the city until the its first permanent home was built on Post Street in 1893 under the innovative leadership of William Greer Harrison, whose tenure as club president spanned from 1886 to 1907.

During the club’s early decades, the name evolved to “The Olympic Club” and a Winged “O” appeared as the club emblem. The club’s original purpose, according to the by-laws, was “to strengthen and improve the body through gymnastic exercises.” Its early sports were gymnastics, boxing, fencing and wrestling. The club’s athletic and social traditions would soon expand in many new directions.

Famous Members

Teenager James J. Corbett joined as a teenager in 1884 to learn how to box. Eight years later, “Gentleman Jim” knocked out reigning champion John L. Sullivan to become the world heavyweight boxing champion, a title he held for nearly five years. Author and humorist Mark Twain and newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst also joined, beginning a roster of distinguished members that later included two California governors, Hiram Johnson and Earl Warren, who would become Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and baseball Hall-of-Famer Ty Cobb.

By the turn of the 20th century, the Olympic Club was dominant in multiple sports, most notably track and field and boxing. The club sent its first athletes to the 1904 Olympic Games in St. Louis. Two years later it hosted the National AAU Boxing Championship.

The year 1906 was a turning point for the Olympic Club and all of San Francisco. Early on April 18 an earthquake struck the city with cataclysmic force. Thirteen years after Harrison had spearheaded the construction of what he termed “the largest and most perfectly appointed athletic building in the world,” the Olympic Club burned to the ground in the fiery aftermath of the devastating quake. The club would rise from the ashes under new leadership, a 34-year-old attorney named William F. Humphrey.

America’s first athletic club would rebuild at 524 Post Street and attain glorious heights during Humphrey’s long presidency. Its athletes and teams would compete and excel in baseball, basketball, billiards, bowling, boxing, crew, cricket, cycling, fencing, football, gymnastics, handball, ice hockey, polo, rifle and pistol, rugby, soccer, squash, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, volleyball, water polo and wrestling.

They would win often—at National AAU Championships, the Olympic Games, Wimbledon, the Davis Cup and more—and many of the club’s athletes would set national and world records.

In the midst of this golden age of amateur athletics, the visionary and opportunistic Humphrey and his club were destined to add a growing American pastime that would spread Olympic’s influence and fame—the game of golf.

Signing ‘THE LONGEST SHOT’ at the U.S. Open

IF YOU’RE ATTENDING THE 2012 U.S. OPEN at the Olympic Club on Monday, stop by and say hello at the Merchandise Pavilion between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. I’ll be signing my new book, THE LONGEST SHOT: Jack Fleck, Ben Hogan, and Pro Golf’s Greatest Upset at the 1955 U.S. Open. Copies will be available for sale.

And I’ll have a special guest with me. The giant killer himself. I hope to see you there.

Read an exclusive excerpt at Golf.com/Sports Illustrated
Read a Q&A at GeoffShackelford.com

Special thanks to U.S. Open sponsor Lexus for use of a new, jet-black Lexus GS 350 during the championship. Today I drove it from the Los Angeles area to San Francisco. It was one of my best drives in a long time.

Saturday, June 9

Olympic Club Fine-Tuned for World’s Best Golfers

By GCSAA.org

Courtesy of StonehouseGolf


THERE’S A NEW LOOK TO THE GRAND old lady as The Olympic Club’s Lake Course in San Francisco welcomes the nation’s best golfers for the 112th U.S. Open, June 14-17.

Since coming to The Olympic Club as director of golf course maintenance in 2002, Pat Finlen has overseen changes that Mike Davis, USGA executive director, says “offers the hardest start in golf.” Prior to the 2007 U.S. Amateur, a significant amount of brush and trees were removed, opening up the famed golf course and allowing golfers an improved view of the varied topography.

Greens Restoration and Rework

Working with architect Bill Love, Finlen and his team began a renovation in November 2008 (which concluded in May 2009) that called for a total regrassing of the greens with bentgrass, replacing a Poa annua surface that was damaged by nematodes, a plant parasite worm. A cool, dry winter and heavy play tested the young greens earlier this year, but Finlen says the late spring, early summer conditions in the San Francisco Bay area are “perfect for growing bentgrass and providing firm, fast putting conditions.”

Utilizing GPS points ranging from 2,500 to 4,000 for each green, all greens were mapped prior to the project, and 14 were returned to their original size, shape and contours. Greens Nos. 7, 18, 15 and 18 were changed. The No. 18 green, source of much discussion for the 1998 Open, was flattened after the event. For the 2012 Open, a slope of 4 to 4½ percent was created on the 2,400-square-foot green to add some challenge to the hole. A last-minute course alteration was the addition of a 750-square-foot bunker 55 yards short of the 17th green, adding what Finlen calls a “dramatic” change in how the hole will be played.

The course will play 7,170 yards at a par of 70, including the longest hole in Open history, the 670-yard, par-5 No. 16. Finlen and Davis both put a premium on getting the ball in the “tight” fairways off the tee to give players a chance to go for the small greens.

Guest Post: An Ode to Jack Fleck

JACK FLECK, THAT GIANT KILLER from Iowa, has a following. It might not be large, but it could be termed loyal and respectful. One man who recently corresponded with me has written a sonnet dedicated to Fleck. Following, in his own words, Richard Welch Jr. explains how he met the man who engineered one of the greatest upsets in sports history:
In 1997 I was at the PGA West Palmer Course in the desert and was asked if I would like to caddy for a 70-something-year-old by the name of Jack Fleck. I said yes and quickly learned that Mr. Fleck was a U.S Open champion and had beat the legendary Ben Hogan in a playoff at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. The time with Mr. Fleck became a piece of my fabric and gave me a feeling that I was connected to the golf gods of yesteryear. I still have my caddy bib with “Fleck” on the backside in the family basement on Cape Cod.
Richard’s encounter with Jack Fleck inspired this sonnet.

Jack Fleck Sonnet
1955 U.S Open – The Olympic Club
By Richard C. Welch Jr.

Copyright © Richard C. Welch Jr. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

A golfer with humble Iowa beginnings,
Hard working Fleck was not known for his winnings.
An unassuming, well-dressed gentleman,
Modeled his game after the mythical Ben Hogan.

In ’55, the U.S. Open had gone West,
San Francisco’s Olympic Club, a true test.
“Rebel without a Cause” debuted that year,
Like James Dean, Jack Fleck acted without fear.

NBC signed off early before Sunday’s end,
Granting Ben Hogan his fifth U.S Open.
Fleck’s pressure packed putt on the 18th hole,
Forced the two scally capped golfers to tomorrow.

In Brookline, Ouimet shocked Vardon to make history,
Now Fleck startled Hogan in most dramatic victory!

Thursday, June 7

2012 FedEx St. Jude Classic TV Schedule and Tournament Notes



THE 2012 FEDEX ST. JUDE CLASSIC is underway at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee.

Purse: $5.6. million
Winner’s share: $1.008 million
Defending champion: Harrison Frazar

2012 FedEx St. Jude Classic Leaderboard

Inside the field
Tee times
Inside the course
Player interviews
Tournament overview
Tour report
Tournament news
FedEx St. Jude Classic website

TV SCHEDULE

TV coverage of the 2012 FedEx St. Jude Classic is on Golf Channel and CBS.

Thu, 6/7:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Fri, 6/8:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Sat, 6/9:
CBS 3p - 6p ET

Sun, 6/10:
CBS 3p - 6p ET

SIRIUS-XM broadcast times

(Image: Courtesy of PGATour)

Wednesday, June 6

Praying to St. Jude in the River City

By Brian Keogh
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


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.

RORY MCILROY, PADRAIG HARRINGTON AND GRAEME McDowell have been grouped together for the first two rounds of the FedEx St Jude Classic in Memphis this week. But despite the somewhat unpredictable form of the three Irish major winners this season, I doubt they will be making any special petitions to St Jude himself, the patron saint of of desperate cases and lost causes. And why should they.

Like all golfers, the blessed trinity waiting for that time when the stars align, the swing flows effortlessly and the score happens almost by accident. Whether they will get that special delivery this week is anyone’s guess, but all three could do with a dollop of confidence before next week’s US Open test.

Professional sportsmen rarely perform at the very highest level every time they step out into the arena, especially in golf. Some, like McIlroy, have more inspired days that others but the rest of the time it’s a question of achieving an average level of performance that is well above the scope of the journeyman professional.

The tour grind, while well rewarded, is a game of snakes and ladders. For the elite player, it’s a dangerous high wire act. The higher the peaks, the deeper the troughs appear to be. The greater the highs, the tougher the lows are to take.

Watching the dynamic between the three at TPC Southwind will be fascinating.

McDowell, the man in the middle age wise, will talk a confident game before the start, as he always does. It’s a twitchy confidence though, and the mood can swing wildly from utter frustration one day to boundless positivity the next.

McIlroy may well look back on the spring of 2012 with a wry smile and wonder what he got so worked up about. He appears to have outfoxed himself in the early part of the season. Playing so well for so long, he thought he could maintain by playing less and then hit the turbo button as the major season rolled around.

As for Harrington, the Dubliner’s form continues to perplex. If McIlroy has missed his last three cuts, Harrington has missed two of the last three since contending on the final day of the Masters. He says he’s discovered what many have thought was blindingly obvious for months, that he’s been decelerating on his putts.

Hurtling out of the world top 100 at 96th, Harrington badly needs a win. But his form in Memphis has never been great.

He might be a desperate case but he’s far from a lost cause. St Jude can carry on with more important business for now.

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

Tuesday, June 5

Best Tiger-Woods-Is-Back Headline

He’s backagain. (Chase)
TIGER WOODS WON A GOLF TOURNAMENT. Not just any golf tournament, Jack’s golf tournament, The Memorial. How fitting. His 73rd PGA Tour title, Tiger is now tied with Jack Nicklaus. Again, how fitting.

I’m going to say that Tiger has now done more “backs” than some spine surgeons. And so have headline writers. Here are some that have appeared since Sunday’s exciting conclusion in Dublin, Ohio:

“Roller-coaster ride that is Woods’ comeback is on upswing—for now” (PGA.com)

“Tiger Woods Is Back After Winning Memorial Tournament” (HuffingtonPost.com)

“Vote: Is Tiger Woods back at the top of his game?” (CBSNews.com)

“Tiger Woods is back in the winner’s circle, but is he back to being the world’s top golfer?” (Washington Post)

“Tiger Woods: Why He’s Back and Can Still Be Better Than Ever” (Bleacher Report)

“Tiger Woods feels back to his old self after winning Memorial Tournament” (The Telegraph)

And the best?

I say this one from The Onion, America’s Finest News Source:

“Tiger Woods Back Again After Being Back From Being Back”

(Visor tip: Geoff Shackelford)

Monday, June 4

Enter 2012 U.S. Open Tickets Giveaway

Courtesy of StonehouseGolf



UPDATE: The tickets drawing is closed as of Friday, June 8, 2012.

IF YOU’RE A LUCKY WINNER, you will attend the 112th U.S. Open on the championship weekend (June 16 or 17) at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. Lexus is offering hospitality tickets and spectator guides via ARMCHAIR GOLF BLOG, as follows:

• 4 Saturday Lexus Hospitality Tickets
• 4 Sunday Lexus Hospitality Tickets
• 4 U.S. Open Spectator Guides

Tickets and spectator guides will be given away in pairs. (Doesn’t include travel. Winners must get themselves to the venue.)

HOW TO ENTER:
1. Send an email with “U.S. Open Tickets Giveaway” in the subject line to tigersleftknee@gmail.com.
2. Indicate your tickets preference: Saturday, Sunday, or either day.
3. Include your name and mailing address.

DISCLOSURE: Lexus, a U.S. Open sponsor, is supplying a Lexus GS to me during the championship. (Maybe it will help me keep up with California drivers.)

Friday, June 1

‘Bam Bam’: The Long-Hitting Brittany Lincicome

Brittany Lincicome (OGA)
WHILE FRED COUPLES HAS BEEN KNOWN as “Boom Boom,” Brittany Lincicome, another long hitter, has earned the nickname “Bam Bam.” Lincicome, a five-time LPGA winner, is defending her title this week at the ShopRite LPGA Classic in Galloway, New Jersey.

The 26-year-old veteran is averaging 283 yards per drive this season. That puts Brittany in first place in the driving distance category, currently ahead of another long-ball specialist, Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng.

“I have grown up playing men so I never thought of it as hitting it that far,” Lincicome told Ward Clayton at LPGA.com. “It just seemed normal to me, but I do get a thrill out of it. I never hold back because I love to gamble and push the envelope. Working out and technology also have a lot to do with my hitting it far.”

In seven years on tour, “Bam Bam” has never finished lower than third in driving distance. She is currently 1 over through 12 holes in her title defense at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.