Thursday, February 27

Golf on TV: The Honda Classic and Tshwane Open

By Golf Channel News

The following tournament lineup, TV schedule and other information were supplied by Golf Channel in a news release.

THE HONDA CLASSIC
(PGA Tour)
Dates: February 27 – March 2
Venue: PGA National Resort & Spa (Champion Course),
Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 2-6 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-10:30 p.m. (Replay)
Friday 2-6 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-10:30 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday 1-3 p.m. (Live) / 3-5 p.m. (Live, Spotlight Coverage) / 6:30-10:30 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday 1-3 p.m. (Live) / 3-5 p.m. (Live, Spotlight Coverage) / 7 p.m.-Midnight (Replay)

Tournament Airtimes On NBC (Eastern):
Saturday 3-6 p.m. (Live)
Sunday 3-6 p.m. (Live)

Event Notes

Thompson Defends: Michael Thompson earned his first PGA Tour victory last year, winning by two strokes over Geoff Ogilvy to become the first American winner of The Honda Classic since Mark Wilson in 2007.

Headlining The Field: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Zach Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler and Charl Schwartzel.

* * *

TSHWANE OPEN
(European Tour)
Dates: February 27 – March 2
Venue: Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate, Centurion, South Africa

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (Tape Delay)
Friday 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (Tape Delay)
Saturday 5:30-9:30 a.m. (Live)
Sunday 5:30-9:30 a.m. (Live)

Event Notes

Els' Lengthy Test: Copperleaf is an Ernie Els design that was built on land once lived on by his grandfather. It is the longest course (7,964 yards) and contains the longest hole (685-yard 4th) in European Tour history.

Van Der Walt Defends: Dawie Van Der Walt picked up his first career European Tour win at last year's event, winning by two shots over Darren Fichardt.

Headlining The Field: Thomas Aiken, Rafael Cabrera Bello, George Coetzee, Ross Fisher, David Howell, Edoardo Molinari, Robert Rock, Dawie Van Der Walt and Chris Wood.

Wednesday, February 26

Stacy Lewis Defends at HSBC Women's Champions

A FIELD OF 63 LADY GOLFERS, including 19 of the top 20 women in the Rolex Rankings, will tee it up this week at the HSBC Women's Open at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore. World No. 1 Inbee Park headlines the field. World No. 3 Stacy Lewis, the top-ranked American, will defend her title. Lewis edged Na Yeon Choi by a shot in 2013.

Lewis, who finished T5 at last week's Honda LPGA Thailand, is on a streak of 13 consecutive top 10 finishes. Hall of Famer Karrie Webb set the record of 16 in the 1998-99 LPGA season.

"To have a chance to get close to Karrie, one of her records, is pretty amazing," Lewis said.

Park has struggled in Singapore. Her best finish is T25 in the tournament that began in 2008.

"I love coming here and I love playing in Singapore," Park said, " ... but I've never had really a good result here.

"I'm not going to try to push myself so much this week because obviously the golf course is playing quite tough for me somehow. [S]o I'm going to just go out there with no expectations this week and maybe try to get in the top 20 because I've never been in the top 20 the last eight years."

Lewis sized up the 6,600-yard layout.

"It's a thinker's golf course. You just kind of have to hit it to spots, and when the wind is blowing it makes it twice as hard to hit those spots. It's playing really tough and I hope we're careful with the greens, [that] they don't get too out of control. [A]t the same time, if you play smart around this course, you can make some birdies."

EVENT INFORMATION

HSBC Women's Champions
Purse: $1,400,000
Winner's share: $210,000
Defending champion: Inbee Park
Format: 72 holes

Sentosa Golf Club, The Serapong Course
Singapore
Par: 72
Yardage: 6,600

TV Schedule
(Golf Channel)
Thursday, Feb 26 - 10:30 PM-2:30 AM ET
Friday, Feb 27 - 10:30 PM-2:30 AM ET
Saturday, Feb 28 - 10:30 PM-2:30 AM ET
Sunday, Mar 1 - 10:30 PM-2:30 AM ET

Tuesday, February 25

Is Trump's Doonbeg Acquisition Good for Irish Golf?

By Kevin Markham

Copyright © Kevin Markham. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

The 9th green at Doonbeg. (Kevin Markham)
THERE IS ONLY ONE THING that interests me in the whole media mêlée surrounding Donald Trump's purchase of Doonbeg:

Is it good for Irish golf?

It's good for Trump, no question. An estimated €15 million purchase must be the bargain of the year compared with the €110 million he spent constructing just the Scottish course in Aberdeen.

Everyone is falling over themselves to say how wonderful it is to have Trump saving Doonbeg, saving/creating jobs, investing millions, creating a world class resort, instigating world peace and saving mankind. Trump is saying pretty much the same thing; he's not shy or modest. But then you don't get to be as powerful and rich as him without stepping on toes and charging around like a bull in a china shop.

Love Me, Hate Me But Don't Ignore Me

Trump is a difficult man to ignore. He's rich and he loves the game of golf. Thanks to his 15 (now 16) golf courses and his 10 (now 11) hotels, Trump is a major force in world golf.

Trump is a difficult man to like. After his antics in Scotland and a subsequent quote that recently appeared in the Irish Times: ("Wind farms are a disaster for Scotland, like Pan Am 103"), he comes across as brash, arrogant and insensitive. But that's Donald for you. (Dear Donald, Pan Am 103 killed 270 people.)

Back to my original question. Is Doonbeg falling into Trump's hands good or not for Irish golf?

Let's start with Doonbeg itself.

Here is a luxury five star resort with a world-renowned golf course designed by Greg Norman. It has received numerous awards from organisations around the globe. It is aspirational, it is exclusive and it is very much aimed at the highest end of the golfing market.

Green fees were in the order of €210 in the boom times (now €60 to €175) and the audience was heavily American. This is unlikely to change now that Trump is involved. If anything, it will become more exclusive. All of his resorts focus on the rich section of society and since the majority of his market is in the United States, that's the audience he will be appealing to most. As an example, the green fee to play the newly revamped Doral Blue Monster course in Miami is $450.

In other words, the humble Irish golfer who found Doonbeg to be beyond his or her reach since it opened in 2001 will see the revitalised resort stretch even further beyond their grasp.

Is that good for Irish golf?

Monday, February 24

McDowell Wants Dubuisson Partnership at Ryder Cup

By Brian Keogh

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.

Victor Dubuisson
"[VICTOR DUBUISSON IS] GOING TO BE a massive part of the Ryder Cup team this year and I am hoping to be there with him and maybe get a foursomes game with him," Graeme McDowell said after his defeat to the 23-year-old Frenchman, who went on to produce some incredible recoveries from the desert to take Jason Day to the 23rd hole in the match play final having coming back from three down after seven holes to beat Ernie Els one up in the semis.

"He's got that little bit of European flair," McDowell added.

"He's the first really, really exciting player that France has produced in a few years. And I think he's one to watch."

* * *

Jason Day defeated Rickie Fowler 3 and 2 to square off against Dubuisson in the final of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship at Dove Mountain. The Australian was three up after 12 and two up with two to play but Dubuisson made an amazing recovery to force extra holes. First he made birdie from a fairway bunker at the 17th to take the match to the 18th, where he got up and down from greenside sand for a winning par after Day had three-putted.

At the first extra hole, Dubuisson looked dead and buried when he flew the green into the cactus. According to Day, on course commentator David Feherty saw the lie and told him, "he's unplayable."

"Oh good," Day recalled saying. But he was stunned to see Dubuisson hack his golf ball out of the cactus, through the rough to four feet.

At the second play off hole, the ninth, Dubuisson hooked his approach into the desert again but somehow managed to slash it onto the green and make a seven footer for a half.

At the 21st—the 10th—Dubuisson missed from 11 feet and Day from eight to send the match to the 14th, where the man from Cannes had a 20 footer for victory but came up short.

It all then ended at the driveable 15th, the 23rd hole of the first final to go into sudden death since Jeff Maggert beat Andrew Magee in the inaugural event in 1999. Dubuisson carved his drive into deep rough right of the green.

"He muttered 'dead' under his breath," Day said.

The Australian's tee shot finished up just off the green and after watching Dubuisson slash his shot 30 feet past the pin to the back fringe, he chipped to four feet and then drilled home the winning putt after his opponent had failed with his long distance birdie try.

The Frenchman took runner-up prize money of $906,000 (€660,000) and a lead of more than 500,000 points over Thomas Bjorn in the European Ryder Cup Points List.

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

Friday, February 21

USGA VIDEO: First Golfer Dwight Eisenhower



IN THIS VIDEO, DON VAN NATTA JR., author of First Off the Tee, talks about President Dwight Eisenhower's love of golf. It includes a lot of footage of Eisenhower in action.

Eisenhower played 800 times during his two terms in office. He installed a putting green at the White House that was a short distance from the Oval Office. His favorite pair of shoes was probably his golf spikes, which he slipped into each day after work. Thanks to Eisenhower and Arnold Palmer, the popularity of golf soared.

Among other anecdotes, Van Natta tells how "Ike" tried to have the large pine in Augusta's 17th fairway removed. He was unsuccessful, of course, and the pine became known as the Eisenhower tree. The famous tree finally succumbed to Mother Nature this past week.

Thursday, February 20

Match Men

IT MAKES SENSE THAT RECENT defending champions of the WGC-Accenture Match Play would have impressive head-to-head records. They include Ian Poulter, Luke Donald, Hunter Mahan and Matt Kuchar.

Poulter, for instance, was 22-11 before going home early yesterday. And Donald was 17-8 before slamming his trunk on Wednesday. With his win yesterday, Mahan is 16-5 (although currently down to Richard Sterne after 14 holes). Rory McIlroy (10-5) and Martin Kaymer (11-6) also had good records coming in.

Kuchar seems like the man to beat. Following was his resume as the week began.

Matt Kuchar (15-3)

Matt Kuchar is reigning match play champion. (Allison)
2010
R1: beat Anthony Kim, 3 and 2
R2: lost to Jeev Milkha Singh, 1-down

2011
R1: beat Anders Hansen, 22 holes
R2: beat Bo Van Pelt, 3 and 2
R3: beat Rickie Fowler, 2 and 1
QF: beat Y.E. Yang, 2 and 1
SF: lost to Luke Donald, 6 and 5
Consolation: beat Bubba Watson, 2 and 1

2012
R1: beat Jonathan Byrd, 1-up
R2: beat Bubba Watson, 3 and 2
R3: beat Martin Kaymer, 4 and 3
QF: lost to Hunter Mahan, 6 and 5

2013
R1: beat Hiroyuki Fujita, 3 and 2
R2: beat Sergio Garcia, 2 and 1
R3: beat Nicolas Colsaerts, 4 and 3
QF: beat Robert Garrigus, 3 and 2
SF: beat Jason Day, 4 and 3
Final: beat Hunter Mahan, 2 and 1

"Kooch" won his opening match and is currently leading his second-round contest against Ryan Moore.

Wednesday, February 19

Golf on TV: WGC-Accenture Match Play and Honda LPGA Thailand

By Golf Channel News

(The following edited content was supplied by Golf Channel in a news release.)

Golf Channel will provide more than 20 hours of live golf coverage of this week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona, showcasing the world's top-64 players in a unique bracket format beginning on Wednesday. The tournament is the only one of its kind on the PGA Tour schedule, offering match play with 64 players seeded in four brackets (1 to 16) by the Official World Golf Ranking.

Golf Channel also will provide tournament coverage of the Honda LPGA Thailand, where defending champion and Rolex Rankings leader Inbee Park will tee it up in her first event of 2014.

WGC-ACCENTURE MATCH PLAY CHAMPIONSHIP
(PGA Tour)
Dates: February 19-23
Venue: The Golf Club at Dove Mountain – Marana, Ariz.

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Wednesday Noon-6 p.m. (Live) / 7:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. (Replay)
Thursday 1-6 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-11:30 p.m. (Replay)
Friday 2-6 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-10:30 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday Noon-2 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-10:30 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (Live) / 7-11 p.m. (Replay)

TV Coverage On CBS (Eastern):
Saturday 2-6 p.m.
Sunday 2-6 p.m.

Event Notes

Match Play Bracket Format: 64 players will tee it up this week in a seeded, bracket-style match play format. Players are seeded (1 to 16) by Official World Golf Ranking, and the field includes winners of all 13 events played thus far on the 2013-2014 PGA Tour season.

Kuchar Defends: Matt Kuchar won last year's event with a 2&1 victory over Hunter Mahan in the championship match for his first career WGC victory, and the first of two wins during the 2013 season.

Headlining The Field: Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Zach Johnson, Jason Day, Matt Kuchar, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Steve Stricker and Jordan Spieth.

* * *

HONDA LPGA THAILAND
Dates: February 20-23
Venue: Siam Country Club Pattaya (Old Course), Chonburi, Thailand

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 9 a.m.-Noon (Tape Delay)
Friday 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (Tape Delay)
Saturday 2-6 p.m. (Tape Delay)
Sunday 1:30-6 p.m. (Tape Delay)

Event Notes

Elite Field: The 70-player field includes the entire current top 10 on the Rolex Rankings.

Park Defends: Inbee Park will make her first LPGA Tour start of 2014, defending her 2013 title, a one-shot victory over Thailand native Ariya Jutanugarn.

Headlining The Field: Inbee Park, Suzann Pettersen, Stacy Lewis, Lydia Ko, So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng, Karrie Webb, Na Yeon Choi, Lexi Thompson and Paula Creamer.

Tuesday, February 18

The Man Who Brought Golf to Chicago and America (Conclusion)

By John Coyne

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

In the closing ceremonies at the 2012 Ryder Club held at Medinah Country Club, it seemed as if everyone in Chicago was thanked for staging, attending, and promoting the sports event in Illinois. But perhaps the most important person in Chicagoland golf wasn't even mentioned at any of the ceremonies. 
This is the second and concluding part of this series. Read Part 1.

Charles Blair Macdonald
IT WASN'T UNTIL 1888 THAT GOLF finally made it to America, and to Yonkers, N.Y. The game then traveled to Lake Forest in Chicago.

It was in the spring of 1892 that Charles Blair Macdonald designed a 7-hole golf course on the lawns of the home of Senator Charles B. Farewell. The course was built for Chicago's World Columbian Exposition of 1893, and the arrival to the city of young college men from England who played the game.

That summer of '92 MacDonald would also lay out the 9-holes of the Chicago Golf Club in Belmont, Illinois, and, the following spring, add another 9-holes to make Chicago Golf Club the first 18-hole course in America. From those humbling beginnings, Macdonald by 1901 proclaimed himself: Father of American Golf Architecture.

With friends Macdonald bought 205 acres in Sebonac Neck, Southampton, and began to design National Golf Links of America. He wanted to build a course in the style of the British links, with the "strategic interest, playability, and charm of the Old Course at St. Andrews," writes Tom Doak in his Foreword to George Babto's wonderful, The Evangelist of Golf, The Story of Charles Blair MacDonald. And that is what he did.

As Geoff Shackelford writes in Grounds For Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design, "he took concepts proven in the British Isles...and allowing those classic design ideas to be recreated…using proven ideas effectively while adding his own distinct twists."

It would take until 1911 before the National Golf Links officially opened, but Macdonald continued to tinker with the course, moving bunkers, tees, and even greens through 1929.

In 1939, he died at the age of 83 in Southampton, close to his masterpiece. Through all those years he was also a central figure in codifying the rules of the game with the Royal and Ancient Golf Club and the American Golf Association, later renamed the United States Golf Association.

No, they didn't remember him at the Ryder Cup in Chicago, but perhaps in 2014, back in Gleneagles, Scotland, where this game all began, and where C.B. Macdonald first learned to play with a baffy and a niblick, they will.

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

Monday, February 17

Karrie Webb Earns Milestone Victory Down Under

Karrie Webb
KARRIE WEBB FIRED A 68 IN WINDY CONDITIONS at Victoria Golf Club on Sunday to win her fifth Australian Open. Webb's other Open victories came in 2000, 2002, 2007 and 2008. Her most recent win was her 40th on the LPGA circuit.

The 39-year-old tour veteran and Queensland native was hopeful when she arrived for the final 18.

"I feel very fortunate to have won today but I liked my chances at the start of the day because of the wind picking up," Webb said.

"If we had another day like we had the first three days, I probably was a little too far back to have a chance, so I was thankful for the weather changing and I played as good as I have in a very long time."

Beginning her round five shots off the lead, Webb carded six birdies against two bogeys to post a 12-under total of 276. Then all she could do was wait, which turned out to be a rather long wait since 54-hole leader Chella Choi was on the 14th hole. When Choi missed a 7-foot birdie putt on the final green an hour or so later, Webb could exhale and celebrate her 40th win.

"I got off to a great start and I just did a great job mentally today," she said. "I can't think of another time when I held myself together as well as that."

It was quite a turnaround after Webb's disqualification for signing an incorrect scorecard at the Australian Ladies Masters.

"It's amazing what happens," she said, "what a difference a week makes. Obviously, this time last week I wouldn't be expecting to be sitting here, so I'm glad things changed around quickly for me."

Webb moved up one spot to No. 7 in the Rolex Rankings.

Watson Wins

Bubba Watson shot 64-64 on the weekend at Riviera Country Club to win the Northern Trust Open, his first PGA Tour title since slipping into the Green Jacket at the 2012 Masters.

Friday, February 14

PHOTO GALLERY: U.S. Presidents Playing Golf

President Calvin Coolidge and his wife, Grace, watch a southpaw with a flying elbow.
This tee shot might not have turned out well. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)





















IN HONOR OF PRESIDENTS DAY on Monday, I'm pointing you to a PGA of America photo gallery of U.S. presidents playing golf. From William Howard Taft to Barack Obama, the 18 images illustrate the presidents' acute interest in the bedeviling game. I suppose it could be no worse than politics.

[PGA Photo Gallery of Presidential Golf]

Pictured above as a spectator, President Calvin Coolidge was an exception. "Silent Cal" was not fond of the game. As the PGA wrote, "[W]hen he left the White House after his term in office, the only thing he left behind was his bag of clubs."

Thursday, February 13

Golf on TV: Northern Trust Open, Africa Open, ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open, Ace Group Classic

By Golf Channel News

The following tournament lineup, TV schedule and other information were supplied by Golf Channel in a news release.

NORTHERN TRUST OPEN
(PGA Tour)
Dates: February 13-16
Venue: Riviera Country Club, Pacific Palisades, Calif.

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 5-8 p.m. (Live) / 8:30-11:30 p.m. (Replay)
Friday 5-8 p.m. (Live) / 8:30-11:30 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday 1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 9:30 p.m.-2 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday 1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 8 p.m.-1 a.m. (Replay)

CBS TV Coverage (Eastern):
Saturday 3-6 p.m.
Sunday 3-6:30 p.m.

Event Notes

Merrick Defends: John Merrick outlasted Charlie Beljan on the second playoff hole in last year’s tournament, becoming the first-ever player from Los Angeles County to win the event.

Headlining the Field: Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Hunter Mahan, Charl Schwartzel, Jordan Spieth, Matt Kuchar, Louis Oosthuizen and Fred Couples.

* * *

AFRICA OPEN
(European Tour)
Dates: February 13-16
Venue: East London Golf Club, East London, South Africa

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (Tape Delay)
Friday 9 a.m.-12 p.m. (Tape Delay)
Saturday 5:30-9:30 a.m. (Live)
Sunday 5:30-9:30 a.m. (Live)

Event Notes

Home Field Advantage: No player born outside of South Africa has won the Africa Open, dating back to 2010 when the tournament became an official European Tour event.

Fichardt Defends: Darren Fichardt won last year’s event by two shots over Gregory Bourdy and Jaco Van Zyl, giving the South African his first European Tour victory in his home country, and his fourth overall.

Headlining the Field: Robert Rock, Thomas Aiken, Peter Hedblom, Darren Fichardt, Soren Hansen, Simon Dyson, Shiv Kapur, Michael Hoey, Gregory Bourdy, Oliver Fisher and David Horsey.

* * *

ISPS HANDA WOMEN'S AUSTRALIAN OPEN
(LPGA Tour)
Dates: February 13-16
Venue: The Victoria Golf Club, Victoria, Australia

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Wednesday 11 p.m.-2 a.m. (Live) / 1-4 p.m. (Thursday replay)
Friday Noon-2:30 p.m. (Tape Delay)
Saturday 5-9 p.m. (Tape Delay)
Sunday 5-7 p.m. (Tape Delay)

Event Notes

Shin Electing Not to Defend: Jiyai Shin earned her 11th career LPGA victory at last year’s event, winning by two shots over Yani Tseng. However, she is not in the field this week, having resigned her membership on the LPGA Tour last month with plans to focus instead on playing in Asia.

Headlining the Field: Lydia Ko, Suzann Pettersen, Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, Beatriz Recari, Azahara Munoz, Cheyenne Woods and Karrie Webb.

* * *

ACE GROUP CLASSIC
(Champions Tour)
Dates: February 14-16
Venue: The Talon Course, Twin Eagles Golf Club, Naples, Fla.

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday 2:30-4:30 p.m. (Live) / Midnight-2 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday 3-5 p.m. (Live) / 2:30-4:30 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday 3-5 p.m. (Live) / 2-4 a.m. (Replay)

Events Notes

Langer Defends: Bernhard Langer won last year’s event for the second time in three years with a one-shot victory over Jay Don Blake.

Headlining the Field: Tom Lehman, Tom Watson, Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Nick Price, Kenny Perry, Mark Calcavecchia, Fred Funk, Jay Haas, John Cook and David Frost.

Wednesday, February 12

Raymond Floyd Named U.S. Ryder Cup Vice Captain

By PGA of America

(The following edited content was supplied by the PGA in a news release.)

Raymond Floyd captained
the 1989 U.S. Ryder Cup team.
CAPTAIN TOM WATSON HAS NAMED Raymond Floyd to serve as a vice captain for the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team. Floyd was announced at a news conference in Pacific Palisades, Calif., prior to the Northern Trust Open. Floyd will serve alongside Andy North, who was appointed a vice captain last July. The United States and Europe meet in the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, in Perthshire, Scotland, Sept. 26-28.

A four-time major champion, Floyd was captain of the 1989 U.S. Ryder Cup team and competed on eight U.S. teams. In 1993, Watson chose Floyd with one of his captain's selections, thus making Floyd the oldest Ryder Cup competitor at age 51. Floyd went on to post a 3-1-0 record that year as the U.S. defeated Europe, 15-13, at The Belfry in Sutton Coldfield, England.

"Raymond Floyd has had a tremendous amount of Ryder Cup experience and has been successful as a Ryder Cup player," said Watson. "I played for him in 1989 and in 1993 he performed admirably."

"I'm flattered and it's going to be a thrill to have his back. I think it will be a lot of fun," said Floyd, who also served as a vice captain for the victorious U.S. team in 2008.

A native of Fort Bragg, N.C., who now lives in Palm Beach, Fla., Floyd turned professional in 1961 and went on to earn 22 PGA Tour victories. He captured the 1969 and '82 PGA Championship, the 1976 Masters and the 1986 U.S. Open.

The Man Who Brought Golf to Chicago and America

By John Coyne

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

IN THE CLOSING CEREMONIES at the 2012 Ryder Club held at Medinah Country Club, it seemed as if everyone in Chicago was thanked for staging, attending and promoting the sports event in Illinois. But, in my opinion, perhaps the most important person in Chicagoland golf wasn't even mentioned at any of the ceremonies, though he had a direct connection to 1) golf in Chicago and 2) Scotland, the site for the 2014 Ryder Cup to be held at Gleneagles.

Charles Blair Macdonald
Not only did this man first learn the game as a teenager at golf's historic St. Andrews, he was the person most responsible for the game being played in the Midwest before the turn of the last century. His name was Charles Blair Macdonald.

Macdonald was born in 1855 and raised in Chicago, but he learned the game as a student at St. Andrews University in Scotland. He was, in fact, taught the game by Old Tom and Young Tom Morris. Later, in the early 1890s, he would help organize the Chicago Golf Club, the American Golf Association, and in 1895 win the first official U.S. Amateur Championship. He is rightly claimed as the father of American golf architecture. Indeed, "golf architecture" was a term coined by Macdonald.

Macdonald was the son of a wealthy Chicagoan. At sixteen he was sent to Scotland to earn his college degree. There, his grandfather introduced him to Old Tom Morris, bought him a few hickory clubs, and got him a locker in the pro shop as juniors (like the golf pros) were not allowed inside the Royal and Ancient clubhouse.

Soon Macdonald was spending all his time in the Morris's pro shop, listening to tales told by the pros, and playing the game with seven woods and four irons. He carried a driver, a grass club, the middle spoon, a short spoon (a baffy), a wood niblick, a mid-iron, a lofter, an iron niblick, and a wooden shafted putter.

Macdonald's years at St. Andrews were filled with school and golf—the university is less than a wedge from the club house—but when he returned to Chicago in the fall of 1875 there was no golf; no place to play. Once, when a Scottish classmate visited they started to talk, as all players will, of matches played and won, and then hunted up some of Charles's old clubs and went out onto an old Civil War campsite, and as Macdonald wrote, "we cut in a few holes and utilized some old tin cans left behind by the troops years before."

Macdonald was only able to play golf on a real course when he traveled on business to Europe, but in the coming years that would change. Macdonald would see to it himself, first in Chicago and later far beyond the Midwest.

TO BE CONTINUED.

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

Monday, February 10

Jimmy Time at Pebble Beach



AFTER GOING 0 FOR 187, JIMMY WALKER has won three of his last eight starts on the PGA Tour. On Sunday Walker frittered away a six-shot lead before holing a bumpy five-foot par putt on the final green for a one-shot victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

People say it's hard playing with a big lead. Walker seemed to agree after it was over. "[I]t's a different feeling when you have a lead like that," he said.

Walker shot a 2-over 74 in the final round, finishing at 11-under for the tournament played on three Monterey Peninsula courses. Dustin Johnson (66) and Jim Renner (67) tied for second.

About 15 minutes after missing a short par putt on the par-3 17th, Walker was not looking like a cinch as he rolled his first putt an uncomfortable distance past the cup on the 18th green. He described his approach to the last stroke.

"I tried to blank everything out that was going on. I just ... tried to go about it as businesslike as possible. Don't watch the putt, keep your head down, stuff I probably should have thought about the last couple holes."

The clinching putt drifted left but fell in. Huge relief.

"I made it a little more dramatic than it needed to be," Walker admitted.

Later he tweeted: "Not my best but a win is a win!"

All three Walker victories have come out west: the Frys.com Open in California last October, the Sony Open in Hawaii a month ago and now Pebble Beach.

With his third win, Walker is leading important stuff. Money list ($3,605,833). FedEx Cup. Ryder Cup points. OK, actually he's seventh on the U.S. Ryder Cup list. And the 35-year-old Texan has climbed to No. 24 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Yes, Jimmy Walker. No joke.

Friday, February 7

VIDEO: Pebble Is Peyton's Place This Week



"FOR ME, IT'S A GOOD GETAWAY."

That's what Peyton Manning said earlier this week at Pebble Beach in advance of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Manning added that golf is a great escape from the day job. He enjoys the "fellowship."

Manning had an especially tough day at the office last Sunday. After a licking like that, Pebble isn't such a bad refuge, although Manning will still be in the spotlight to some extent. He always seems to handle that part of it pretty well, though.

The Denver Broncos quarterback will tee it up with PGA Tour pro Scott Langley.

Thursday, February 6

Golf on TV: AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Joburg Open, Allianz Championship

By Golf Channel News

The following tournament lineup, TV schedule and other information were supplied by Golf Channel in a news release.

AT&T PEBBLE BEACH NATIONAL PRO-AM
(PGA Tour)
Dates: February 6-9
Venues: Pebble Beach Golf Links, Monterey Peninsula Country Club (Shore Course), Spyglass Hill Golf Course; Pebble Beach, Calif.

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-9:30 p.m. (Replay) / 9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)
Friday 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-9:30 p.m. (Replay) / 9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday 1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-11 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday 1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 7 p.m.-Midnight (Replay)

Event Notes

Team Format: PGA TOUR professionals will team up with celebrity amateur golfers this week, with each team of professionals/amateurs playing one round at all three of the course venues Thursday-Saturday: Pebble Beach, Monterey Peninsula (Shore Course) and Spyglass Hill. The top-60 professionals (and ties), along with the top 25 pro-am teams will play one additional round at Pebble Beach for Sunday’s final round.

Last Chance to Qualify for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship: This week is the last opportunity for players to attempt to qualify for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona later this month, needing to break inside the top-64 in the Official World Golf Rankings to guarantee an invitation.

Snedeker Defends: Brandt Snedeker won by two shots over Chris Kirk in last year’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for his fifth career PGA TOUR victory.

Headlining the Field: Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker, Dustin Johnson, Hunter Mahan, Graeme McDowell, Jordan Spieth, Jim Furyk, Nick Watney, Patrick Reed and John Daly.

* * *

JOBURG OPEN
(European Tour)
Dates: February 6-9
Venue: Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club, Johannesburg, South Africa

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (Tape Delay)
Friday 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Tape Delay)
Saturday 5:30-9:30 a.m. (Live)
Sunday 5:30-9:30 a.m. (Live)

Event Notes

Largest Field on the European Tour: This week’s event has a field of 210 players, the largest on the 2014 European Tour schedule.

Multiple Course Setup: Formerly two separate entities before merging in 1998, Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club combine to account for one of only two events on the European Tour schedule that require more than one 18-hole facility (Alfred Dunhill Links Championship is the other).

Open Championship Qualifying up for Grabs: The event serves as a qualifier for the 2014 Open Championship, with the top three finishers this week (not already in the field) qualifying to compete at Royal Liverpool in July.

Sterne Defends: Richard Sterne outpaced the field by seven shots to win last year’s event for his sixth European Tour win, his first since 2008. Sterne, along with Charl Schwartzel both look to become three-time champions of the Joburg Open with a win this week.

Headlining the Field: Charl Schwartzel, Alvaro Quiros, Thomas Aiken, Branden Grace, Richard Sterne, George Coetzee, Robert Rock, Tom Lewis and Simon Khan.

* * *

ALLIANZ CHAMPIONSHIP
(Champions Tour)
Dates: February 7-9
Venue: Broken Sound Club (The Old Course), Boca Raton, Fla.

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday 12:30-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 1-3 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday 3-5 p.m. (Live) / 11:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday 3-5 p.m. (Live) / 12:30-2:30 a.m. (Replay)

Event Notes

Andrade Makes Champions Tour Debut: Four-time PGA TOUR winner Billy Andrade will make his first career start on the Champions Tour when he tees it up this week.

Mediate Defends: Rocco Mediate won by two shots in last year’s event, in large part due to an 11-under 61 in the second round en route to becoming the 16th player to win in his inaugural Champions Tour start.

Headlining the Field: Tom Lehman, Kenny Perry, Rocco Mediate, Fred Funk, David Frost, Mark Calcavecchia, Mark O’Meara, Billy Andrade, John Cook, Jay Haas and Hale Irwin.

Wednesday, February 5

New Dave Stockton Golf Instruction Book

TWO NEW GOLF INSTRUCTION BOOKS will be out in March. The following descriptions were provided by Gotham Books.

* * *

OWN YOUR GAME: How to Use Your Mind to Play Winning Golf by Dave Stockton with Matthew Rudy. Available March 13.

Stockton draws from his experience as a champion tour player and a revered coach. Stockton does for readers what he does for his private clients and what he's done for everyone from Annika Sorenstam to Phil Mickelson to Rory McIlroy: he helps them make better decisions, lower their scores, and enjoy the game more. The hallmark of Stockton’s coaching is “trying doesn’t work”and OWN YOUR GAME focuses on mental techniques that can make or break your game.


* * *

EVERY SHOT COUNTS: Using the Revolutionary Strokes-Gained Approach to Improve Your Golf Performance and Strategy by Mark Broadie. Available March 4.

Mark Broadie uses ideas from the world of finance to help readers understand how anyone, from amateur to pro, can become a better golfer. Strokes gained goes well beyond the strokes gained putting stat that was adopted by the PGA Tour in 2011 and has become the gold standard for measuring putting performance. EVERY SHOT COUNTS is unique in using detailed golf shot data and scientific analysis to show how every golfer, from weekend sportsmen to tour pros, can save strokes by making better decisions on the course.

Tuesday, February 4

Phil's Back Specialist: 'He Needs to Rest and Let It Heal'

Phil Mickelson (Flickr)
AMID CONCERNS ABOUT HIS BACK, Phil Mickelson teed it up in last week's Waste Management Phoenix Open and went the distance. Lefty finished in a tie for 42nd and announced that his back felt great. Tom Boers, Mickelson's back specialist, wasn't as chipper, according to a report by Steve Eubanks in Global Golf Post.

"Phil feels good right now," Boers said, "which means absolutely nothing. I'm worried about how his back will feel two weeks from now. There are no tricks to the healing trade. I restore function, and he needs to rest and let it heal. That's a two-week process for Phil Mickelson and everybody else."

Boers knows his stuff. He's been treating athletes for decades. He's knowledgeable about the spine. He's an expert on treating pain.

Apparently, Lefty isn't taking the doc's advice. There's no rest for this golfer. At least not this week. After withdrawing from the Farmers Insurance Open and coming back last week, Mickelson will make his fourth consecutive start at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

As Ryan Lavner reported at GolfChannel.com, Phil will take a two-week break after Pebble Beach. In the meantime, Boers will fret.

"There is a likelihood that he might tweak it again," he said. "Only then the injury will be compounded because the new injury will layer on top of the old one. If that happens, more drastic measures will be necessary to work this thing out."

(H/T Ryan Lavner at GolfTalkCentral)

Monday, February 3

Victory at Last for 'The Smallrus'



KEVIN STADLER, SON OF CRAIG "THE WALRUS" STADLER, had been toiling on the PGA Tour for a number of years without a win. But that changed when "The Smallrus" (as the AP called him) outlasted Bubba Watson at TPC Scottsdale on Sunday. Now the new champion of the Waste Management Phoenix Open will join his pop at the 2014 Masters.

"It's going to be great for me because it's really my last one," said the elder Stadler, who won the 1982 Masters and a dozen other titles on the PGA Tour.

Wearing Denver Broncos orange and blue for the final round, Kevin Stadler had one persistent thought as Watson stood over a 5-foot par putt on the 18th green that would force a playoff.

"How long the playoff was going to take and how long until I can watch the football game?" he said.

Thankfully, the win came in regulation for the 33-year-old journeyman and Broncos fan. Bubba missed his tying putt. The way the Broncos played, Stadler might not have minded missing some (or all) of that big game.

I watched the last five or six holes of the tournament before heading out to a Super Bowl get-together. Stadler was hitting it OK, for the most part, but missed some short putts. Meanwhile, Watson was erratic. (I later read that Bubba was frustrated with the slow pace of play and, at times, he seemed distracted, irritated, or both.) There were moments when I wondered if one of the trailing players such as Hunter Mahan or Graham DeLaet was going to steal the trophy.

Both Stadler and Watson drove the green on the par-4 17th hole. And then both two-putted from about 90 feet for birdie to go to the last hole tied at 16 under. The Smallrus piped a 344-yard drive down the 18th fairway. Bubba deposited his tee shot into the right-hand rough, which pretty much doomed his chances.

A few moments later it was over. And not long after that, so was the Super Bowl.

Malcolm Smith, a Seattle Seahawks linebacker and the Super Bowl MVP, is going to Disney World. While that may be an unhappy thought for Kevin Stadler, he gets to go to Augusta. His Sunday could have turned out much worse.

As CBS reported during its telecast, the Waste Management Phoenix Open set another attendance record. More than 560,000 people showed up during the week. What a crazy event. In a good way, mostly.