Friday, June 27

President Bill Clinton to Receive 2014 PGA Distinguished Service Award

From PGA of America news.

Clinton with Jim Gray in 2009.
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- The PGA of America has awarded President Bill Clinton, founder of the Clinton Foundation and 42nd President of the United States, its 2014 PGA Distinguished Service Award recipient for his lifetime love of golf and his commitment to health and wellness.

Begun in 1988, the PGA Distinguished Service Award honors outstanding individuals who display leadership and humanitarian qualities, including integrity, sportsmanship and enthusiasm for the game of golf. President Clinton will receive the Association's highest annual honor in conjunction with the 96th PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky. Previous honorees include Bob Hope, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, Patty Berg, Jack Nicklaus, and Presidents Gerald Ford (1991) and George H.W. Bush (1997).

"President Clinton's life in public service is a study in making a difference in people's lives. His own journey to achieve wellness has resulted in a passion that involves the game of golf," PGA of America President Ted Bishop said. Read more

Thursday, June 26

Golf on TV: Quicken Loans National, Senior Players Championship, BMW International Open, NW Arkansas Championship

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

Tiger Woods has returned to the PGA Tour this week at the Quicken Loans National, also serving as host of the event outside of Washington D.C. Kenny Perry defends at the Encompass Senior Players Championship, as the Champions Tour begins a five-week stretch that will include three major championships. Martin Kaymer and Henrik Stenson headline the field at the BMW International Open, while Michelle Wie tees it up for the first time as a major champion at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

QUICKEN LOANS NATIONAL
(PGA Tour)
Dates: June 26-29
Venue: Congressional Country Club (Blue Course),
Bethesda, Md.

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

On CBS (Eastern):
Saturday 3-6 p.m.
Sunday 3-6 p.m.

Event Notes

Haas defends: Bill Haas finished three strokes ahead of Roberto Castro to earn his fifth career PGA Tour victory in last year’s event.

Headlining the field: Tiger Woods, Jason Day, Justin Rose, Webb Simpson, Jordan Spieth, Brandt Snedeker, Keegan Bradley, Patrick Reed, Jason Dufner and Bill Haas.

* * *

ENCOMPASS SENIOR PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP
(Champion Tour)
Dates: June 26-29
Venue: Fox Chapel Golf Club, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 12:30-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 2-4 a.m. (Replay)
Friday 12:30-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 3:30-5:30 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday 3-5 p.m. (Live) / 2:30-4:30 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday 3-5 p.m. (Live) / 5-7 a.m. (Replay)

Event Notes

Perry defends: Kenny Perry finished two shots ahead of Fred Couples and Duffy Waldorf in 2013 to earn his first major championship win on any Tour.

Headlining the field: Kenny Perry, Bernhard Lange, Brad Faxon, John Cook, Tom Lehman, Colin Montgomerie, Peter Jacobsen, Mark Calcavecchia, Rocco Mediate and Michael Allen.

* * *

BMW INTERNATIONAL OPEN
(European Tour)
Dates: June 26-29
Venue: Gut Larchenhof, Cologne, Germany

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 4:30-6:30 a.m. / 8:30-11:30 a.m. (Live)
Friday 4:30-6:30 a.m. / 8:30-11:30 a.m. (Live)
Saturday 7:30-11:30 a.m. (Live)
Sunday 6:30-11 a.m. (Live)

Event Notes

Headlining the field: Martin Kaymer, Henrik Stenson, Thomas Bjorn, Paul Casey, Victor Dubuisson, Sergio Garcia, Miguel Angel Jimenez, John Daly and Peter Uihlein.

* * *

WALMART NW ARKANSAS CHAMPIONSHIP
(LPGA Tour)
Dates: June 27-29
Venue: Pinnacle Country Club, Rogers, Ark.

Tournament Airtimes On NBC (Eastern):
Friday 9-11 p.m. (Tape Delay) / 5:30-7:30 p.m. (Live streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Saturday 5-7 p.m. (Live)
Sunday 5-7 p.m. (Live)

Event Notes

Park defends: Inbee Park beat So Yeon Ryu on the first playoff hole in last year’s event for her eight career LPGA Tour win, her fifth of the 2013 season.

Headlining the field: Michelle Wie, Stacy Lewis, Inbee Park, Suzann Pettersen, Lydia Ko, Anna Nordqvist, Lexi Thompson, Na Yeon Choi, Jessica Korda, Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr.

Wednesday, June 25

New Book: 'A DIFFICULT PAR: Robert Trent Jones Sr. and the Making of Modern Golf'

I LIKE TO TELL YOU ABOUT golf books, and here's one that's been out for a month. I haven't read it, but my hunch is that it's a good one. Golf Digest liked it very much. So did Gary McCormick of San Jose Golf Examiner.

Following is some information (edited) on A DIFFICULT PAR provided by the publicist at Gotham Books.
New York Times bestselling author and internationally distinguished historian James R. Hansen has written a definitive account of the life of Robert Trent Jones in his new biography A DIFFICULT PAR: Robert Trent Jones Sr. and the Making of Modern Golf (Gotham Books, May 13, 2014, Hardcover, eBook). 
Hansen tells the life story of the man behind many of the defining forms, shapes, and challenges of the modern golf course. Between 1930 and 2000, Jones designed or redesigned a staggering number of golf courses—over 400—spread over 43 U.S. states and 27 other nations, including such instantly recognizable courses as Mauna Kea in Hawaii, Spyglass Hill in California, Bellerive in Missouri, Hazeltine in Minneapolis, and Ballybunion (New Course) in Ireland. 
A DIFFICULT PAR refers to Jones’s essential design principle that every hole on a golf course should be “a difficult par but an easy bogey.” In meticulously rich detail, Hansen, a veteran course rater for Golfweek magazine and a noted expert on the history of golf course architecture, explains the evolution of Jones’s golf course design from its origins to its becoming the paradigmatic architecture of modern championship golf. 
Carefully examining the remarkable career of golf’s foremost architect, as well as that of his two sons, Robert Trent Jones, Jr., and Rees L. Jones, themselves distinguished golf architects, A DIFFICULT PAR will appeal to golfers and fans of landscape architecture, as well as those interested in life stories that epitomize the American Dream.

Tuesday, June 24

Bad Boy Bobby Locke, Part 3: The Dresser and Crooner

I asked John Coyne why he called Bobby Locke a "bad boy." Coyne said, "Locke wasn't liked on the PGA Tour. They blackballed him. Also, he was fired from his first pro job in Johannesburg." In this series, read how the South African golf legend made enemies by beating America's best. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

By John Coyne

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

Bobby Locke (above) was nicknamed
"Baggy Pants" by Sam Snead.
BOBBY LOCKE WAS TO RETURN to the U.S. in the last week of December 1947 to start the winter tour in Los Angeles, scheduled in those years for the first week of January. The second tournament was the Crosby Clambake and Locke’s amateur partner was the famous Frank Stranahan. They tied for second, and Locke went on to finish fourth on the professional side. It was here that he met and became friends with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. Crosby was a scratch golfer; Hope played to a six-handicap.

On this trip, Locke also began to draw the attention of the media beyond the sports world and his persona was being defined by the press. The New York Times called him "Old Muffin Face." Peter Alliss said he "looked 55 since he was 30." Sam Snead nicknamed him "Baggy Pants" because of what he wore playing golf.

After World War II Locke dressed almost exclusively in grey flannel knickers, white buckskin shoes, linen dress shirts with neckties, and white Hogan caps which he tipped to the gallery after he played a good shot.

Locke’s high fashion for golf was noted early on in his career by Rhodesian pro, Denis Hutchinson, who after being a professional, became known as "the voice of South African golf" for the South African Broadcasting and the European Tour TV. He recalls being a schoolboy in Rhodesia when he first saw Bobby Locke.

In an article for South Africa Golf Digest, written by Dan Retief, Hutchinson said, "It was in 1948 when this figure came walking up to the club house. He had dark blue plus-fours on, pale blue stockings his mother always used to knit for him, and a pair of casual golfing shoes, the first pair of casual golf shoes I had ever seen, brown-and-white, no laces, and holding a pair of white golf shoes by the heels. I had never seen a pair of white golf shoes at that stage, and I’ll never forget one shoe had a loose spike and he went click-click-click as he walked."

Locke was also well-known for his deliberateness. His emotionless expression never wavered. He always displayed a calm, steady concentration. Also, he got quickly over any shots that didn't work: "I just blame the human element and leave it at that, after all, I may hit a few exceptionally good ones later. If you give it a chance, things balance out in the end."

But what surprised most people was that Locke had another side to his personality.

While he hardly practiced, he loved to party. He always had his ukulele nearby, one that he had purchased in Augusta in 1947. "I've never been very good, but after six or seven Pabst Blue Ribbons, I begin to sound reasonable."

What America also appreciated, Locke discovered, was the value that his English accent had in the U.S. "Again and again, at tournaments when I was in the prizes, I was asked to speak, usually by the crowd, just because they wanted to hear my accent." Playing in the ‘48 National Capitol Open, in Maryland, he lost the lead to Skip Alexander because, as he writes, "it began to rain. I have never seen rain like it, even in tropical Africa."

Coming into the presentation at the club, he received a tremendous ovation and he noticed a dance band was also in the room. "I edged close to the band leader and asked him if he knew the tune Sioux City Sue. He nodded, so I said to him, 'When I receive my prize, I plan to say a few words. When I give you the cue, play that tune for me.'"

Locke received his prize and sat down, and as he expected, the crowd chanted, "speech, speech."

Locke got back up and began to talk. He thanked the crowd for being so loyal to stick it out with him in the rain. He told them how much he had enjoyed Sam Snead’s tour in South Africa the previous year. Then he said. "We went to a night club in Durban where they played Sioux City Sue and the crooner substituted the words Sue Sammy Snead. It goes like this."

He had hardly spoken the cue before the music began and to the astonishment of the crowd and the officials around the presentation table, he started to sing Sue Sammy Snead. The crowd cheered for five minutes and would not let him go.

"Do you know Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone?" Locke asked the band leader. He nodded and Locke sang that too.

The next day the newspapers were full of news about Bobby Locke, the singer, and Bob Hope telephoned and invited him onto his television show, saying, "I hear, Bobby, you’re a great singer."

Locke had arrived in America, but he still wasn’t home when it came to the PGA Tour.

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, June 23

'The Big Wiesy' Finally Delivers

Michelle Wie (Allison)
MICHELLE WIE MIGHT BE THE OLDEST 24-year-old in the history of the world. OK, I say that facetiously, but my oh my has she been through a lot during an amateur and professional golf career that seemingly spans her whole life.

She was the second coming of Tiger Woods, oozing with talent and equipped with a golf swing that so closely resembled Ernie Els's action that, at 14, she was dubbed "The Big Wiesy."

We have all lived through a long decade of ups and downs (too many of them downs, many might say) of Wie's golf career. Then, at last, came a major breakthrough on Sunday evening at the home of American golf.

Perhaps a bit like the man whose fist-thrusting statue graces Pinehurst No. 2, Wie persevered on Sunday for a redemptive victory at the U.S. Women's Open, the biggest prize in golf for the player often thought of as the biggest unfulfilled talent in golf.

Perseverance could be Michelle's middle name. It took her 38 majors and 11 appearances in the Open to claim a trophy that matched her huge ambition and talent. She did it by fixing the biggest flaw in her often jaw-dropping game. Her putting at Pinehurst was exceptional. Wie had no three-putts in 72 holes. That's how you win the Open.

When Wie ran into trouble at the par-4 16th (Stacy Lewis was in the clubhouse at even par after a clutch 66), she took her medicine and walked to the 17th tee with a smile on her face. She still had a 1-stroke lead and good vibes about the upcoming par 3. Nothing, it seemed, was going to get her down.

Then, eyeing a possible birdie to pad her slim lead, Wie stroked what she called "one of the best putts I've ever hit in my life. It was really fast. It was a double breaker." And that was that. She was able to enjoy the stroll down the 18th hole and into golf history, a grin creasing her face.

Somehow Wie smiled all week, despite carrying the pressure of leading this major from start to finish, just as she had somehow managed to smile throughout a career packed with the pressure of enormous expectations. On Sunday evening, she strapped the prized trophy into the passenger seat of her car and tweeted a picture to the world.

"All buckled in!!!!!" Wie said about the shiny new hardware before she climbed into her Kia and drove off.

The long ride for Michelle Wie is suddenly much better.

Friday, June 20

Tiger Woods Announces His Return

Here comes Tiger. (Chase McAlpine)
A SHORT WHILE AGO (ON FRIDAY), Tiger Woods announced his return to tournament golf and the PGA Tour. Woods plans to tee it up next week at his own tournament, the Quicken Loans National at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland.

Here's what Tiger said on his Facebook page:

"After a lot of therapy I have recovered well and will be supporting my foundation next week at the Quicken Loans National. I've just started to hit full shots but it's time to take the next step. I will be a bit rusty but I want to play myself back into competitive shape. Excited for the challenge ahead."

Formerly named the AT&T National, Woods has won his own event in 2009 and 2012.

Michelle Wie Leads at Pinehurst

Michelle Wie fired her second consecutive 68 on Friday. (Keith Allison)
IT'S NOT QUITE MARTIN KAYMER'S record-breaking 65-65 start in the men's U.S. Open, but a pair of 68s looks mighty good to Michelle Wie and has propelled her into the lead of the U.S. Women's Open at Pinehurst No. 2. Her halfway total of 136 is 4 under on the par-70 course.

Playing early, Wie recorded 14 pars, three birdies and a lone bogey on the Donald Ross layout, which measured 6,291 yards on Friday. She hit 10 of 14 fairways, 14 of 18 greens and had 29 putts.

"I can't complain," Wie said. "I remember thinking when I finished yesterday, 'If I can do this tomorrow it will be nice.' It's definitely one of the majors I want to win, but Sunday is a long, long way away. I just need to take it one shot at a time and know that we have 36 holes to play."

"I think this is the third stage of her professional career," said Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee.

"I think what we are seeing in Michelle Wie is that for the first time since she was a child, she can devote all of her energy to her professional career. She has made improvements in every aspect in that regard."

"What a great way to finish off her round," Golf Channel's Karen Stupples said about Wie, who birdied 8 and 9, her final two holes of the second round.

"Her stroke looks really good. I just hope she can continue that and keep it going. As the pressure increases, that is going to be the hardest thing for her."

First-round leader Stacy Lewis is currently 2 over through eight holes of her second round and trails Wie by three strokes.

Thursday, June 19

2014 U.S. Women's Open TV Schedule and Championship Notes


ABOVE: Lucy Li, 11, eats ice cream and talks with the media after her opening round of
the U.S. Women's Open at Pinehurst No. 2.

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

The U.S. Women's Open began today in Pinehurst, North Carolina, with Inbee Park looking to defend her title on the course that's hosting its second major in as many weeks after the completion of the men's U.S. Open last Sunday. Stacy Lewis is the clubhouse leader after shooting a 67.

NBC Sports Group is providing more than 20 hours of tournament and news coverage, including third and final round coverage on NBC from 3-6 p.m. ET on the weekend.

* * *

U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN
Dates: June 19-22
Venue: Pinehurst Resort, Pinehurst, N.C.

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

Broadcast Notes

Golf Channel and NBC are providing more than 20 hours of tournament and news coverage throughout the week, featuring top tournament storylines, analysis and interviews within the network's Morning Drive and Golf Central programming, in addition to weekend tournament coverage on NBC.

Hall-of-Famer Annika Sorenstam will serve as an analyst during NBC's weekend coverage, joining NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Gary Koch and play-by-play commentator Dan Hicks in the broadcast booth.

Park defends: Inbee Park finished four shots ahead of the field in the 2013 U.S. Women's Open to claim her third consecutive major championship.

Headlining the field: Stacy Lewis, Inbee Park, Suzann Pettersen, Michelle Wie, Lydia Ko, Jessica Korda, Lexi Thompson, Anna Nordqvist, Paula Creamer and Ai Miyazato.

NBC Broadcast Team
Play by Play: Dan Hicks
Analyst: Gary Koch / Annika Sorenstam
Tower: Mark Rolfing / Steve Sands
On Course: Roger Maltbie / Kay Cockerill / Jane Crafter
Interviews: Steve Sands

Wednesday, June 18

'Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History' By Bill Fields


ABOVE: Bill Fields talks about his new book on Morning Drive.

I WANT TO ALERT YOU to a new book by Golf World senior editor Bill Fields. It's called Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships. Ben Crenshaw wrote the foreword. Esteemed golf writers and authors such as Dan Jenkins and James Dodson have high praise for Fields.

Jenkins says, "Nobody knows the game of golf and many of the quaint people who have inhabited it better than Bill Fields, and I've never read anyone who gets them down on paper better than he does."

Dodson calls Fields "the modern poet laureate of golf."

I'm a big fan myself, and have enjoyed Bill's wonderful storytelling for many years. More recently, I've had the pleasure of getting acquainted with him when I show up for the U.S. Open. As I said on Facebook the other day, "Read everything Bill Fields writes, including this book."

Buy at Amazon / Barnes & Noble
Here's a description from the publisher, University of Nebraska Press:
In a long, award-winning career writing about golf, Bill Fields has sought out the most interesting stories—not just those featuring big winners and losers, but the ones that get at the very character of the game. Collected here, his pieces offer an intriguing portrait of golf over the past century. The legends are here in vivid profiles of such familiar figures as Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Mickey Wright, and Tiger Woods. But so are lesser-known golfers like John Schlee, Billy Joe Patton, and Bert Yancey, whose tales are no less compelling. 
The book is filled with colorful moments and perceptive observations about golf greats ranging from the first American-born U.S. Open champion, Johnny McDermott, to Seve Ballesteros, the Spaniard who led Europe's resurgence in the game in the late twentieth century. Fields gives us golf writing at its finest, capturing the game's larger dramas and finer details, its personalities and its enduring appeal.
Read an excerpt of Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History

Tuesday, June 17

Bad Boy Bobby Locke, Part 2: 'The Worst Swing They Had Ever Seen'

I asked John Coyne why he called Bobby Locke a "bad boy." Coyne said, "Locke wasn't liked on the PGA Tour. They blackballed him. Also, he was fired from his first pro job in Johannesburg." In this series, read how the South African golf legend made enemies by beating America's best. Read Part 1.

By John Coyne

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

WITH SAM SNEAD'S ENCOURAGEMENT, and seed money from his wealthy South African sponsor, Norbert Stephen Erleigh, that following April 1947 Arthur D'Arcy "Bobby" Locke arrived in Georgia for the Masters.

In his book, On Golf, Locke would write about Augusta National.

"I was quite over-awed by everything at Augusta. The course was a vivid green, the people were gaudily dressed, the atmosphere bristled big-time golf. When the sports writers saw my swing, they wrote it off as 'the worst swing they had ever seen.' My reply to that stinging criticism was, 'I can't help it; that's the swing I was born with.'"

The truth was that much of what Locke knew about the golf swing, he had learned from Bobby Jones himself. In his book, Locke writes, "When I was a youngster he was my idol. I read and re-read the book he wrote in 1931 after his grand slam of victories."

His swing was put together by exaggerating everything which the American pros had come to regard as anathema, according to Charles Price in his classic 1962 book, The World of Golf.

"He employed a long, meandering backswing," writes Price, "at the top of which he collapsed his left side. By the time he had gone into his downswing, the clubhead had described an almost perfect figure-eight. He slapped the ball into a long, sweeping parabola that started out far to the right and then, as though guided by some personal radar, hooked unerringly back to the target. Locke hooked every shot in the bag, including his putts."

Locke finished 14th in his first Masters. He then went onto win four of the next five tournaments he entered. He stayed only through that summer's tour. Altogether in 1947, he played in 15 US tour events, winning a total of six, finishing 2nd twice, 3rd once (in the US Open), and top-7 four other times. In total, Locke played full time on the American PGA tour for only 2½ years. In 59 events, he won 11 times, finished second 10 times, third 8 times and fourth 5 times (34 out of 59 tournaments in the Top 4).

So much for the wisdom of golf writers.

With the exception of meeting Bobby Jones at Augusta, Locke appears to have been most intrigued and impressed by George S. May at his Tam O'Shanter Club in suburban Chicago. It was also there, according to Locke, that "feeling against me started to grow among the American pros."

Locke had intended to leave the States for the British Open in '47, but May gave him a guarantee of $5,000 and all expenses if he would stay and play in his Tam O'Shanter All-American Tournament.

In that tournament Locke tied his good friend Ed "Porky" Oliver and then won a thirty-six-hole play-off by six shots. First prize was $7,000, at the time the biggest money prize in golf.

Locke played twice more that summer, winning again at the Columbus Open, and finished the season with winnings second to Jimmy Demaret, who had played both the winter and summer tours and earned $200 more than Locke.

Locke recalls in his book how early in the summer he had heard another pro quip in the locker room that "Locke’s trouble is that his left hand is weak." Locke writes, "I turned and said, 'Don't worry about that. I take the cheques with my right hand.'"

And indeed he had taken the cheques all right, to the sum of $27,500.

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, June 16

Let's (Not) Hear It For Martin Kaymer

(©USGA/John Mummert)
I LEFT THE MEDIA CENTER at Pinehurst on Saturday afternoon. It was promptly after my last radio show appearance. I had been there since Wednesday, and, like last year, I departed before the final round because I wanted to be home with my wife and two daughters for Father's Day. So I shuttled to the Best Western, hopped in my car and drove to Virginia.

After church and brunch on Sunday, I would watch the final round of the 2014 U.S. Open in the comfort of my living room. I would see if Martin Kaymer could win the U.S. Open wire-to-wire. I wondered on Saturday morning as I talked to other golf writers and various radio shows if Kaymer might crack under the pressure. Or if Pinehurst No. 2 might deal him some bad bounces or other misfortunes that would allow his fellow competitors to close the gap and challenge his quest for a second major title.

None of the above. As we saw on the weekend, Kaymer was magnificent.

After opening with a pair of 65s, a record-breaking start, Kaymer shot 1 over on the last 36 holes, posting 72 and 69. His 9-under total and 8-shot victory obliterated the field. Only two other players finished in red numbers, runners-up Erik Compton and Rickie Fowler.

The men who finished a distant second offered a succinct assessment of what occurred in the North Carolina sandhills.

Fowler: "Martin was playing in his own tournament."

Compton: "No one was catching Kaymer this week."

I'll add one word for Kaymer: Bravo.

I've watched a lot of U.S. Opens, including many long before Tiger Woods arrived on the scene, and this was one of the most impressive and dominating performances in the U.S. Open or any major, period. In my mind, only Tiger's 2000 masterpiece at Pebble Beach surpasses it. That's no disrespect to Rory McIlroy's romp at Congressional in 2011, but that one didn't play like a normal U.S. Open, so, fairly or unfairly, I put an asterisk by it.

Kaymer is German, of course, the first player from Continental Europe to win a U.S. Open. He is only the eighth wire-to-wire winner in 114 U.S. Opens. He is also the first player to win The Players Championship and U.S. Open in the same season, leading both events from start to finish.

'Buzz was anti-buzz'

And yet, as Fox Sports columnist Robert Lusetich wrote (h/t to Adam Fonseca), the applause for Kaymer's historic performance was tepid at best.
Had Tiger Woods done this, they'd be hailing it as one of the greatest triumphs in golf history. 
Winning the United States Open by eight shots -- a margin eclipsed only once, by Woods in 2000, in the modern era -- and winning wire-to-wire -- achieved only eight times in more than a century -- is the stuff of legend. 
But, sadly, there was barely more than tepid, if polite, applause on Sunday as Martin Kaymer put on a master class in how to dominate a major championship from start to finish at Pinehurst No. 2. 
The buzz was anti-buzz. 
Boring, they called Kaymer's cool, clinical closing of his second major on social media. 
He was certainly guilty of sucking the drama out of the final round -- ably assisted by the chasing pack, who stumbled over their ambitions -- but isn't that what great champions do?
I'll answer that question. YES.

Kaymer is a great champion. American, no. Flamboyant, no. Tiger Woods, no. But, without a doubt, a great champion.

Saturday, June 14

All Eyes on Martin Kaymer

Martin Kaymer is on a record-setting pace at the U.S. Open. (©USGA/Fred Vuich)
WITH A RECORD-BREAKING START to the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, Martin Kaymer has a six-shot lead on Brendon Todd, his playing partner for today's third round. The last twosome tees off at 3:25 p.m.

Kaymer was near flawless with a pair of 65s in the first two rounds. Following are some USGA notes about Kaymer's performance thus far:
  • Kaymer's 36-hole total of 130 is the lowest score for the first 36 holes in a U.S. Open. The previous record was held by Rory McIlroy, who shot 131 in 2011 at Congressional. 
  • His six-stroke lead tied the largest 36-hole lead in U.S. Open history. Tiger Woods (2000, Pebble Beach) and Rory McIlroy (2011, Congressional) also had six-stroke leads.
  • Kaymer is the first player to open a major championship with consecutive rounds of 65 or better.
  • He ranks in the top five in all three major statistical categories: Fairways Hit (T-2, 25/28), Greens in Regulation (T-5, 26/36), and Total Putts (T-4, 54).
  • Kaymer has held a 36-hole lead on seven occasions. He has gone on to win four times, including the 2014 Players Championship.
The question is, how will Kaymer play this weekend with a prime opportunity to become a U.S. Open champion?

3rd Round Pairing: the Tortoise and the Hare

Kevin Na is in contention at the U.S. Open. (©USGA/Darren Carroll)
HEADING OFF IN SATURDAY'S 3:25 p.m. pairing at the U.S. Open are Kevin Na and Brandt Snedeker, both at 3 under par for the championship. Na is a notoriously slow player. Sneds plays fast, really fast. This pairing might not be so good for Brandt as he tries to close the gap with leader Martin Kaymer, who enters the third round at 10 under.

Na, playing in his fourth U.S. Open, shot 68 and 69 in the first and second rounds. Making his eighth appearance in the national championship, Snedeker fired 69 and 68. Snedeker has putted well, with just 56 putts through the first 36 holes.

Friday, June 13

Martin Kaymer Is Field of One

Martin Kaymer is dialed in. (©USGA/Darren Carroll)
MARTIN KAYMER MUST HAVE LIKED SLEEPING on a 3-shot lead Thursday night, because he came out early on Friday morning and picked up where he left off. Five hours later Kaymer turned in another 5-under-par round. His 65-65 for a total of 130 after 36 holes is a U.S. Open record.

When asked about doing what no one else had accomplished in 113 previous U.S. Opens, Kaymer was matter of fact, as if his historic play had not registered with him.

"Somebody has to do it at one stage," he said about establishing a new scoring standard.

Kaymer is known for his soft-spoken demeanor. He quietly expresses confidence in his play, but is far from cocky.

"I didn't make many mistakes today," he said about a round that included five birdies. Kaymer has stockpiled 11 birdies in the first two rounds.

When pressed to say more about his second round and record-breaking start, the former world No. 1 called it "very very satisfying" and said the quality of some of his shots has been surprising. "[I'm] just hitting the ball very solid."

The 2010 PGA champion and winner of this season's Players Championship departed at 8:02 a.m. with Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner. He promptly birdied the par-5 10th, the group's first hole, and picked up two more birdies to fire a 3-under 32. Kaymer then added birdies on holes 3 and 5. He had no bogeys on Friday's scorecard, and only one through the first two rounds, which is hard to fathom on a brutally tough Pinehurst layout.

Kaymer is alone, a field of one, on a golf course that makes the other 150-plus golfers look like they're playing in the U.S. Open. One of those other golfers is Bradley, who played with Kaymer the first two days and is 2 under for the championship after a pair of 69s.

"It's fun to watch," Bradley said about the Kaymer display. "If you can hit the fairway, you can score out here....He's dialed in. He's very steady."

Still, Bradley likes his position and said "[Kaymer] doesn't change anything I do."

There are 36 holes to play. A lot can happen. "There's a double on every hole," Bradley said about the potential for trouble on No. 2.

Steve Stricker called Kaymer's 10-under total "crazy" but also felt that the tournament is not over.

"There's still a long way to go," Stricker said. "He has a lot of things to battle."

But for now Kaymer can rest and enjoy a titanic lead and a spot in the record books.

2014 U.S. Open: Round 2 Course Setup

By USGA

Course setup for Round 2 of the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.

Green Speeds – Due to roughly 1 inch of rain last night, today’s green speeds will average just shy of 12 feet on the USGA Stimpmeter. This will be approximately a half-foot slower than the last four days.

Weather Affecting Course Setup – Three rain gauges on property measured (1) 0.64 inches, (2) 1 inch and (3) 1¼ inches. The rain fell very quickly, causing a great deal of washouts in bunkers and the sandy native areas. Due to a great deal of debris, fairways and closely mown areas around greens were not mown this morning. The likely net result is that players may opt to putt less when they are in the closely mown areas. Green firmness readings have dropped to their lowest (softest) readings in more than a couple of weeks.

Total Course Yardage for Friday (tee marker settings to flagstick) = 3,635 yards out; 3,793 yards in = 7,428 total yards

Hole-by-Hole Information:

Hole 1 – 399 yards; the hole location is in the center-right portion of the green.

Hole 2 – 513 yards; the hole location is in the challenging right quadrant of the green.

Hole 3 – 315 yards (307 yards lasered on a straight line from tee markers to flagstick); tee markers have been placed on the forward teeing ground; the hole location is in the front-right portion of the green; putts from the center of the green to the hole are relatively fast.

Hole 4 – 523 yards; tee markers have been placed on the back teeing ground; the hole is located in the front-left portion of the green.

Hole 5 – 563 yards; tee markers are placed on the middle of the three back teeing grounds; the hole location is in the back-left portion of the green, bringing the severe left fall-off into play.

Hole 6 – 245 yards; tee markers have been moved to the front of the back teeing ground; the hole location is in the back center, allowing for run-out on tee shots; this is one of the rare occasions on Pinehurst No. 2 where shots missed over the green leave the player with a reasonably good chance of saving par.

Hole 7 – 412 yards; the hole location is in the front-left portion of the green near the “bowl;” putts coming from the back half of the green are very fast; a miss short of the green in some cases might be preferable to hitting the green in regulation past the hole.

Hole 8 – 496 yards; the hole location is in the center-back portion of the green, bringing the severe fall-off behind, left and right of the green into play.

Hole 9 – 169 yards; tee markers are moved 17 paces forward of the tee sign; the hole location is in the lower-right half of the green; putts played from the upper left half of the green are very fast.

Hole 10 – 627 yards; the hole location is in the back center of the left quadrant of the green.

Hole 11 – 473 yards; the hole location is several paces over the front-left false front.

Hole 12 – 494 yards; tee markers are on the back teeing ground; the hole location is two-thirds of the way back on the right side.

Hole 13 – 383 yards; the hole location is just over the bunker that fronts the left side of the green.

Hole 14 – 480 yards; the hole location is two-thirds of the way back on a plateau on the right side of the green.

Hole 15 – 158 yards; tee markers have been moved up 37 paces on the far left side of the teeing ground; the hole location is in the front right of the green, just a few paces past the pronounced false front; even with the slower green speeds today, putts are very fast coming down to the hole from most parts of the green.

Hole 16 – 532 yards; the hole location is in the left portion of the green, roughly two-thirds deep in the green.

Hole 17 – 191 yards; the tee markers are placed on the front of the back teeing ground; the hole location is just over the front-right bunker.

Hole 18 – 455 yards; the hole location is in the left portion of the putting green, about two-thirds deep in the green.

Thursday, June 12

Martin Kaymer Breaks From Pack With 65

Martin Kaymer leads at Pinehurst. (©USGA/Hunter Martin)
THE FIRST-ROUND LEADERBOARD OF THE U.S. Open looked like the Pinehurst off ramp on I-73. It was jam-packed, backed up and bumper-to-bumper with 68s, 69s, 70s and 71s. Then along came a resurgent Martin Kaymer on Thursday afternoon.

Kaymer's 65 that included six birdies quite possibly will be the low round of the tournament. The recent winner of The Players Championship will take a three-shot lead into Friday's second round at Pinehurst No. 2.

Needing only 25 putts on No. 2's notorious greens, Kaymer made his afternoon's work look relatively easy compared to his fellow competitors who grinded their way to rounds in the vicinity of par.

"It was very playable," Kaymer said about No. 2. "[I]t's quite nice when you play late on Thursday, that you can watch some golf in the morning and try to adjust mentally because you know going into the first round. Last night I thought that it's going to be very, very firm in the afternoon....But actually it was more playable than I thought. I think that made a big difference mentally that you feel like that there are actually some birdies out there, not only bogeys."

Four players are at 2-under 68: Kevin Na, Brendan de Jong, Graeme McDowell and Fran Quinn.

Quinn is a 49-year-old who hasn't played in a U.S. Open for eighteen years. "It was a dream start," he said. "It was everything I could want and more."

McDowell, the 2010 champion, also liked his start, saying he was "very pleased" with a non-stellar ballstriking round during which he still managed to put his golf ball in acceptable positions for the most part.

Ten players carded 69, including Brandt Snedeker, Henrik Stenson, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Keegan Bradley.

Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson, two of the favorites, were both content with even-par 70.

Calling it "a solid day," McIlroy figured he only missed one fairway and was on 14 of Pinehurst's greens in regulation. After talking to the media, Rory headed off to work on the pace of his putts.

Mickelson's 70 included three birdies and three bogeys. "I played well today," Lefty said, adding that he didn't make any putts.

Masters champion Bubba Watson said "the golf course is better than me right now" after a 76. Former world No. 1 Luke Donald struggled to a 77.

It will only get harder. Unless it rains. A lot.

Fowler Channels Payne

A stylish tribute to Payne Stewart.  (©USGA/Steven Gibbons)
RICKIE FOWLER REMEMBERS WHEN HE HEARD about the untimely death of Payne Stewart. Fowler was 10 years old and sitting in the back seat of a car with his mom and sister. He was a big Payne Stewart fan. The terrible news hit the boy hard.

"I started crying in the car," Fowler said on Thursday at Pinehurst.

Stewart dressed for and played the game with style. The same can be said for Fowler, especially today.

In a tribute to one of his golfing heroes, Fowler was outfitted in white knickers, a light blue shirt and argyle-patterned stockings. Rickie looked good and played well, just like Stewart did on this spot 15 years ago when he claimed his second U.S. Open title.

Mickelson liked the gesture when he saw Fowler in the locker room. Fowler characterized it as a "great reaction." The spectators also appreciated the attire, he noted.

The Oklahoma State product finished with an even-par 70. He was happy with his opening round.

"I played really well today," Fowler said. "[That was] probably the worst I could have shot."

His inventory of the round included hitting 12 fairways and 15 greens in regulation, which constitutes fine ballstriking on the Donald Ross layout.

Fowler from the fairway. (©USGA/Michael Cohen)

Amateur Hour at the 2014 U.S. Open

Amateur Matthew Fitzpatrick. (©USGA/Hunter Martin)
RIDING IN TO PINEHURST THIS MORNING, I was thinking about the "Open" part of the U.S. Open. Technically, it's correct. Anyone, amateur or pro, can attempt to qualify to play in the U.S. Open. It's definitely "open" in that sense, but, in truth, the era of top amateurs being able to compete with tour pros is long gone.

The last amateur to win the U.S. Open was Johnny Goodman in Chicago. When? 1933. Or 81 years ago.

When I arrived at the media center, a young man was on the large screen flanked by two leaderboards. The boyish-looking 19-year-old wore a navy blue shirt and looked like he should be carrying a scoreboard. Instead, he was standing in the fairway assessing his next shot from Pinehurst's bermuda fairway.

Matthew Fitzpatrick is from Sheffield, England, and playing in his first U.S. Open. He is the reigning U.S. Amateur champion.

Beginning on the back nine, Fitzpatrick carded three birdies against two bogeys to post a 1-under 35. He added a birdie at the par-4 2nd hole to reach -2 for the championship, one stroke off Matt Kuchar's lead at the time. Now a bogey has dropped him to -1, but he's currently just a shot off the lead shared by Kevin Na, Kuchar, Graeme McDowell and Phil Mickelson.

There are 12 amateurs in the U.S. Open field. Some, like Fitzpatrick, may play well and make the cut. For any to hang around until Sunday and contend for the championship would be surprising. And a U.S. Open win by an amateur in this age of international tour pros would be a monumental and wholly unexpected achievement.

It's a fanciful thought on a Thursday.

As I write this, the U.S. Amateur champion has made two consecutive bogeys. Johnny Goodman is safe for now. Although I expect Goodman would like to see another amateur hoist the silver trophy. It's not going to happen in this modern age of the U.S. Open, except maybe in young men's dreams and made-up stories.

Wednesday, June 11

Images From Pinehurst

Two-time champion Ernie Els. (©USGA/Fred Vuich)


Jordan Spieth. (©USGA/Fred Vuich)


Bubba. (©USGA/Darren Carroll)
Jim Furyk at work. (©USGA/Darren Carroll )

Billy Andrade meets a fan. (©USGA/Fred Vuich)


Lone spectator. (©USGA/Fred Vuich)

The New Old Look of Pinehurst No. 2

The 13th hole at Pinehurst No. 2. (©USGA/John Mummert)
WHEN PEOPLE TUNE IN TO THE first round of the U.S. Open on Thursday, many might look at Pinehurst No. 2 and say, "Fire the superintendent and put some water on that course. It's brown, for gosh sakes." But they would be misguided.

The crispy brown look around the edges (and in some cases in the fairways) is, in fact, an intended characteristic of the restored No. 2. It may look strange on television, but it's part of the effect, a rustic golf landscape that harkens back to the mid 20th century.

Now that I've walked a portion of the course, I can tell you that it's interesting and attractive in a way that can't be appreciated through a television screen.

I made the hike from the media center to the practice area, where I caught a glimpse of Stewart Cink lofting wedges at a red flag and spied Sergio Garica working on those delicate little pitches that will be crucial this week on No. 2's bedeviling greens. Then I walked a few holes to see what No. 2 looks like up close.

I've never seen a U.S. Open course like this one. It resembles a links course, but with no rough, instead featuring native areas (wire grass, sand and other vegetation) that act as "rough." In his media conference, asked about the course, Rory McIlroy said, "I think it looks fantastic."

I agree.

I walked the 14th hole, a 473-yard par 4, watching Geoff Ogilvy, Joe Ogilvie and Kenny Perry. From the fairway, a puff of dust kicked up when one of the players hit his second shot. A puff of dust! That was interesting. It must have been the sand underneath, and perhaps also because the ball sat in a brownish portion of the fairway. There is green on these bermuda fairways, too, but they are not lush. Without any considerable rain this week, the fairways will play firm and fast.

McIlroy said long hitters will have an advantage because of No. 2's length. Regarding approach shots, the 2011 champion said, "Anything in the middle of the green is a good shot."

It's the U.S. Open and it's Pinehurst, with those treacherous undulating putting surfaces, which means players will be hitting fewer greens with their approach shots, maybe 10 or 11 a round if things go well. So the short game will likely be the beginning and end of many players' hopes this week.

(It seemed that every time I looked up at the giant TV screen in the media center Phil Mickelson was practicing his chipping.)

I watched Perry, Ogilvy and Ogilvie tee off at the par-3 202-yard 15th hole. One man left his tee shot short, which I learned may be an intentional strategy for some of the holes. Don't go long, mentioned Rory. Better to leave approaches short of the greens. From there, pars are still difficult but more likely than over the back.

I walked by the 16th tee, a monster par 4 of 528 yards that bends left. How is Jim Furyk going to reach that hole in two? I thought. A drive and a wood or hybrid, I suppose. The 13th isn't long, but it has an elevated sloping green that will be difficult to judge and putt.

I walked back to the media center.

Don't be fooled by what you see on television. Pinehurst, with its green and brown hues, is in perfect condition for the U.S. Open. By and large, the players like what they see in front of them, a unique Open setup that will severely test their abilities and patience.

Arriving at Pinehurst

BOILED PEANUTS AND PORK SKINS, read the sign. There's no mistaking I was in the Carolinas headed for the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2. I traveled from the north and the westI-74 and I-73 from High Point this morning, then 211 East for the last 18 miles to Pinehurst.

It was early. I wanted to get there. I passed the turnoff to the Village of Pinehurst and drove a bit farther, looking for the Lot H sign, the media parking lot. There. Good. I turned in. No one stopped me to look at my pass.

First-day logistics are always a bit of an unknown, but this is my fourth consecutive U.S. Open and everything went smoothly this morning. I know the USGA routine, and it hasn't changed much. Getting onto the historic property and collecting my media badge and other information were a breeze. I'm in.

It's fun to be back. I don't show up much on the media circuit, but some media members know me, recognized me, chatted with me, as I grabbed breakfast and headed to a meeting of the Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA) with the sports editor of the Augusta Chronicle.

"Is this an open meeting?" I asked him. "I'm not a member."

"You should join," said the sports editor.

Media conferences today: Adam Scott, USGA, Webb Simpson, Rory McIlroy. But first I will head out onto the golf course and get a look at the storied Donald Ross design.

$$

The U.S. Open has a large economic impact, pumping $69 million into the local and regional economy, according to a public radio report I listened to as I traveled the interstate. The report also said 400,000 people will attend the event this week, or maybe that's for both the men's and women's Opens these next two weeks. No matter, that's a lot of folks and a large sum for this corner of the Tar Heel state.

Tuesday, June 10

Bubba, Phil, Others Size Up Pinehurst No. 2

IT'S TUESDAY NIGHT, LESS THAN 48 HOURS until the start of the 114th U.S. Open. And I'm much closer to Pinehurst, just an hour away, and looking forward to my arrival at No. 2 on Wednesday morning.

We're also closer to the complaining about the U.S. Open setup. No, it doesn't usually happen during the practice rounds. The players say things such as, "It will be a stern test. It will require patience." And the like.

But after the numbers go up on the scoreboard on Thursday and Friday, the grumbling will begin. There will be embarrassing shots and embarrassing scores. There will be four-putts, maybe five-putts. It has to be this way. If it isn't, then it's not the U.S. Open, the toughest examination in golf.

Reigning Masters champion Bubba Watson offered his perspective on No. 2 in today's media conference.

"The U.S. Open brings out challenges we only see once a year," Watson said. "If we saw them every week, we'd all find new jobs."

That might be especially true for Bubba, who has only broken par once in 22 U.S. Open rounds, according to commentator Steve Flesch on Golf Channel.

Bubba also said he wasn't worried about his score, calling No. 2 a second shot golf course and labeling the greens "unfriendly."

In search of his first major victory, Matt Kuchar offered a stock quote: "Patience plays a lot in playing the U.S. Open. Good shots aren't always going to be rewarded and you have to make the most of what that shot's given."

Defending champion Justin Rose pointed out that players who can hit high, soft approach shots to No. 2's difficult putting surfaces will have a distinct advantage. Harris English called the Donald Ross masterpiece a cross between the British Open (links style golf) and the Masters (those undulating Augusta greens).

Meanwhile, Phil Mickelson has gone to the claw grip, hoping to find his touch on the roller-coaster greens so he can break out of the bridesmaid role at the national championship.

"I feel as good about my game today as I have all year," Lefty said, "which doesn't say a lot because I haven't had the best year!"

At least one oddsmaker considers Rory McIlroy the favorite, a 10/1 choice, then Adam Scott at 12/1, then Phil at 14/1.

But Mickelson has to be the sentimental favorite. Could there be a more storybook finish and winner?

Monday, June 9

2014 U.S. Open Spectator Guide and 'Know Before You Go'

ARE YOU GOING TO PINEHURST? The USGA has plenty of guidance:
Please note the following helpful information in advance of the 2014 U.S. Open Championship at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club in the Village of Pinehurst, N.C. 
We suggest you review the general spectator information at: http://www.usopen.com/pdfs/Spectator_Guide.pdf or www.usopen.com/knowbeforeyougo.
Links:
Spectator Guide
Know Before You Go

2014 U.S. Open Groupings of Interest

THE USGA HAS ANNOUNCED THURSDAY AND FRIDAY GROUPINGS for the 2014 U.S. Open. Measuring 7562 yards, Pinehurst No. 2 will play to a par of 70.

"Out here it's going to be even more difficult to stay patient, which has been the biggest thing that's led me to be successful in [the Masters and the Players Championship]," Jordan Spieth said today in his media conference.

"This is the hardest tournament to be patient in, in the world." Nonetheless, Speith said, "I believe that I can win this golf tournament. I feel comfortable on this golf course. I think it fits my game. And when I step on the first tee that's what I'm trying to do."

With more than 150 players in the field, following are groupings of interest, or at least some that stood out to me.

Thursday (June 12), hole #1 / Friday (June 13), hole #10

7:18 a.m. – 1:03 p.m. – Sergio Garcia, Spain; Jason Day, Australia; Brandt Snedeker, Nashville, Tenn.

7:29 a.m. – 1:14 p.m. – Henrik Stenson, Sweden; Matt Kuchar, St. Simons Island, Ga.; Lee Westwood, England

7:40 a.m. – 1:25 p.m. – Webb Simpson, Charlotte, N.C.; Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland; Graeme McDowell, Northern Ireland

7:51 a.m. – 1:36 p.m. – Ian Poulter, England; Miguel Angel Jimenez, Spain; Thongchai Jaidee, Thailand

Thursday (June 12), hole #10 / Friday (June 13), hole #1

7:40 a.m. – 1:25 p.m. – Zach Johnson, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Angel Cabrera, Argentina; David Toms, Shreveport, La.

7:51 a.m. – 1:36 p.m. – Justin Rose, England; (a) Matthew Fitzpatrick, England; Phil Mickelson, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

8:13 a.m. – 1:58 p.m. – Jordan Spieth, Dallas, Texas; Hideki Matsuyama, Japan; Rickie Fowler, Murrieta, Calif.

Thursday (June 12), hole #1 / Friday (June 13), hole #10

1:03 p.m. – 7:18 a.m. – Dustin Johnson, Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Jimmy Walker, Boerne, Texas; Victor Dubuisson, France

1:25 p.m. – 7:40 a.m. – Bubba Watson, Bagdad, Fla.; Adam Scott, Australia; Charl Schwartzel, South Africa

1:36 p.m. – 7:51 a.m. – Ernie Els, South Africa; Darren Clarke, Northern Ireland; Louis Oosthuizen, South Africa

1:47 p.m. – 8:02 a.m. – Jason Dufner, Auburn, Ala.; Keegan Bradley, Woodstock, Vt.; Martin Kaymer, Germany

1:58 p.m. – 8:13 a.m. – Hunter Mahan, Dallas, Texas; Francesco Molinari, Italy; Jamie Donaldson, Wales

Thursday (June 12), hole #10 / Friday (June 13), hole #1

1:03 p.m. – 7:18 a.m. – Jim Furyk, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.; Steve Stricker, Madison, Wis.; Bill Haas, Greenville, S.C.

1:14 p.m. – 7:29 a.m. – Brendon De Jonge, Zimbabwe; Kevin Stadler, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Shane Lowry, Republic of Ireland

1:25 p.m. – 7:40 a.m. – Luke Donald, England; Harris English, Sea Island, Ga.; Paul Casey, England

1:36 p.m. – 7:51 a.m. – J.B. Holmes, Campbellsville, Ky.; Gary Woodland, Topeka, Kan.; Graham DeLaet, Canada

1:47 p.m. – 8:02 a.m. – Retief Goosen, South Africa; Geoff Ogilvy, Australia; Lucas Glover, Sea Island, Ga.

Friday, June 6

Donald Ross Masterpiece: A Look at Pinehurst No. 2

BEGINNING NEXT WEEK, PINEHURST NO. 2, often called the home of American golf, will host the 2014 U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open in consecutive weeks. Here's a preview of the famed layout.

(Courtesy of scbluedevil-Flickr)
Course Information

Opened: 1907
Course Designer: Donald Ross
Redesigns/Restorations:
1974 - Robert Trent Jones
2010 - Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw
Director of Golf: Ben Bridgers
Director of Grounds: Bob Farren
Course Superintendent: Kevin Robinson

No. 2 (including scorecard and hole-by-hole tour)

Course Characteristics

Acres: 196
Tees: Tifway Bermuda
Fairways: Tifway Bermuda
Rough: N/A
Greens: A1/A4 Bentgrass
Square Feet of Greens: 115,000
Number of Bunkers: 111

Overview

Donald Ross statue
(cmiked-Flickr)
Pinehurst No. 2 is one of America's most revered golf courses, the site of a slew of prestigious championships throughout its storied history. Amateur and professional golfers can pay homage to Donald Ross, a Scottish golf professional who arrived in the United States in 1899 with $2 to his name.

Employed by Pinehurst founder James Tufts in 1900, Ross, after redesigning No. 1, went to work on his first original course design, No. 2. The Scot imagined and carved 18 holes through the North Carolina sandhills, longleaf pines and wire grasses, creating a layout that would become known as his masterpiece.

The Bermuda fairways of No. 2 are generous in width, especially after a 2010 restoration by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw that removed 35 acres of Bermuda rough. Golfers can say a silent prayer of thanks for this abundance of short grass, for up ahead are Ross's most notable design feature—the massive, crowned, undulating greens that add so much to No. 2's fame and also to golfers' agony.

Ross called No. 2 "the fairest test of championship golf I have ever designed." By his death at Pinehurst in 1948, Ross had designed or redesigned more than 400 golf courses in North America, but No. 2 rises above them all, first in a vast body of work that put him in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Noteworthy Pinehurst golfers: Harry Vardon, Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Watson, Tiger Woods, Glenna Collett Vare, Babe Zaharias, Patty Berg, Louise Suggs.

Historical Buzz

"The fairest test of championship golf I have ever designed." –Donald Ross

"There's something about Pinehurst that tops even the position which it naturally occupies as the St. Andrews of golf. And that is the people you find there, play golf with, and exchange reminiscences with…who always make you feel happily at home." –Bobby Jones

"My number-one course." –Sam Snead

"I've always thought Pinehurst No. 2 to be my favorite golf course from a design standpoint."
–Jack Nicklaus

Tournaments and Championships

2014: U.S. Open
2014: U.S. Women's Open
1999, 2005: U.S. Open
1951: Ryder Cup
1936: PGA Championship
1991, 1992: TOUR Championship
1994: U.S. Senior Open
1962, 2008: U.S. Amateur
1989: U.S. Women's Amateur
1973-1982: Hall of Fame Classic/World Open
1901-present: North and South Men's Amateur Championship
1903-present: North and South Women's Amateur Championship
1902-1951: North and South Open Championship

Thursday, June 5

TV Schedule for 2014 U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open

The following edited content was supplied by the USGA in a news release.

NBC, ESPN and Golf Channel will air 49 hours of live coverage of the 2014 U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open Championships from Pinehurst No. 2 in the Village of Pinehurst, North Carolina.

U.S. Open

NBC and ESPN will combine to air 35 hours of live 2014 U.S. Open coverage.

Round 1: ESPN will air the first round (June 12) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. EDT, followed by coverage on NBC from 3-5 p.m. EDT. First-round coverage will return to ESPN2 from 5-6 p.m. EDT and ESPN will finish the day's coverage from 6-7 p.m. or until conclusion.

Round 2: For the second round (June 13), ESPN will again be live from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. EDT, with NBC broadcasting from 3-5 p.m. EDT and ESPN2 will finish the day's coverage from 5-7 p.m. or until conclusion.

Rounds 3 and 4: NBC will provide coverage of the third and fourth rounds (June 14-15) from noon to 7:30 p.m. EDT.

Playoff: If necessary, a playoff will be contested on Monday, June 16, starting at noon EDT. ESPN will cover the first two hours and NBC will provide coverage through the playoff’s completion.

U.S. Women's Open

The first two rounds of the 69th U.S. Women's Open at Pinehurst No. 2 will be televised on ESPN2 from 3-7 p.m. EDT on June 19-20. NBC will air the third and fourth rounds (June 21-22), from 3-6 p.m. EDT.

Golf on TV: FedEx St. Jude Classic, Manulife Financial LPGA Classic, Lyoness Open, Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf

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

The PGA Tour stages the FedEx St. Jude Classic this week in Memphis, Tennessee, the final tune-up before next week's U.S. Open gets underway at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina. The LPGA Tour is in Ontario, Canada, for the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic, its final event prior to the U.S. Women's Open in two weeks at Pinehurst. The European Tour is in Austria for the Lyoness Open, and the Champions Tour reintroduces the Legends of Golf with the Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf in Branson, Missouri.

FEDEX ST. JUDE CLASSIC
(PGA Tour)
Dates: June 5-8
Venue: TPC Southwind, Memphis, Tenn.

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

On CBS (Eastern):
Saturday 3-6 p.m.
Sunday 3-6 p.m.

Event Notes

English Defends: Harris English finished two shots ahead of Phil Mickelson and Scott Stallings last year to earn his first career PGA TOUR win.

Headlining the Field: Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Harris English, Graeme McDowell, Rickie Fowler, Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Chesson Hadley.

* * *

MANULIFE FINANCIAL LPGA CLASSIC
(LPGA Tour)
Dates: June 5-8
Venue: Grey Silo Golf Course, Waterloo, Ont., Canada

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday Noon-2:30 p.m. (Live)
Friday 12:30-2:30 p.m. (Live)
Saturday 3-5 p.m. (Live)
Sunday 3-5 p.m. (Live)

Event Notes

Park Defends: Hee Young Park edged Angela Stanford on the third playoff hole last year to grab her second career LPGA Tour victory.

Headlining the Field: Stacy Lewis, Inbee Park, Suzann Pettersen, Michelle Wie, Anna Nordqvist, Lydia Ko, Na Yeon Choi, Shanshan Feng, Cristie Kerr and Ai Miyazato.

* * *

LYONESS OPEN
(European Tour)
Dates: June 5-8
Venue: Diamond Country Club (Diamond Course), Atzenbrugg, Austria

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 5-7 a.m. / 9 a.m.-Noon (Live)
Friday 5-7 a.m. / 9-10:30 a.m. (Live)
Saturday 7-11 a.m. (Live)
Sunday 6:30-11 a.m. (Live)

Event Notes

Luiten Defends: Joost Luiten finished two strokes ahead of Thomas Bjorn for his second career European Tour win, becoming only the second player from the Netherlands (Robert Jan-Derksen was the first) with multiple victories on the European Tour.

Headlining the Field: Miguel Angel Jimenez, Joost Luiten, Jose Maria Olazabal, Soren Hansen, Anders Hansen, Thomas Pieters, Robert Rock, Peter Hedblom, Thomas Levet and Peter Lawrie.

* * *

BIG CEDAR LODGE LEGENDS OF GOLF
(Champions Tour)
Dates: June 6-8
Venues: Buffalo Ridge Golf Course (18 holes); Top of the Rock (9 hole par-3 course) Branson, Mo.

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Live) / 4:30-6:30 a.m. (Saturday Replay)
Saturday 9-11 p.m. (Tape Delay)
Sunday 9-11 p.m. (Tape Delay)

Event Notes

Hall-of-Fame Field: The Champions division will comprise of 24 former major winners, while the Legends division will include 10 of the Champions Tour’s most influential figures including: Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Bruce Fleisher and Larry Nelson.

Notable Teams in the Champions Field: Bernhard Langer/Tom Lehman, Tom Watson/Andy North, Fred Funk/Jeff Sluman, Mark O’Meara/Nick Price and Peter Jacobsen/D.A. Weibring.

Wednesday, June 4

VIDEO: Phil Smitten With Pinehurst No. 2



PHIL MICKELSON IS IN MEMPHIS THIS WEEK trying to find some game before he heads to Pinehurst for the 114th U.S. Open. Mickelson has no top tens in 13 starts this season. In addition, he has been dogged in recent days by allegations of insider trading. Lefty has professed his innocence.

In the above video, after walking off the 18th green, he professed his love for Pinehurst No. 2.

"I think everybody loves it," Phil said about the Bill Coore-Ben Crenshaw restoration of the famed Donald Ross design.

Today, in advance of the FedEx St. Jude Classic and as quoted by GolfChannel.com's Ryan Lavner, Mickelson expressed confidence in his ability to compete on the long and tricky layout. No surprise there, I suppose.

"Not many people are going to hit greens," Phil said. "But I liked it, because short game became a factor. If we all miss every green, I feel like I've got the best chance."

If we've learned anything by this late stage of Mickelson's career, it might be don't count him out. After all, who thought he had a chance at Muirfield last July? And now his name is etched on the Claret Jug.

Tuesday, June 3

Bad Boy Bobby Locke, Part 1: 'The Man From the Jungle'

I asked John Coyne why he called Bobby Locke a "bad boy." Coyne said, "Locke wasn't liked on the PGA Tour. They blackballed him. Also, he was fired from his first pro job in Johannesburg." In this series, read how the South African golf legend made enemies by beating America's best.

By John Coyne

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

South African great Bobby Locke
It was Gary Player who suggested I call Bobby Locke when I was in Johannesburg. It was the winter of 1969. I was traveling through Africa and I found Gary's name in the phone book and called him without an introduction and asked if I might interview him for an American golf magazine.

Player graciously invited me to his ranch on the outskirts of Johannesburg for tea on a Sunday afternoon. It was there, sharing with his father and stepmother their normal weekend visit, and sitting on the patio of his lovely home overlooking acres of brilliant, exotic flowers, that I mentioned how as an 11-year-old I had followed Bobby Locke for four days when he won the last Chicago Victory National Golf Championship, played at Illinois's Midlothian Country Club in the summer of 1948.

The Victory Opens began during World War II when the U. S. Open was suspended. By 1948, Midlothian was already famous as the site of the 1914 U.S. Open, when Walter Hagen defeated Chick Evans to win the first of his 11 majors.

I told Player that my family's farm bordered the country club and my five siblings and I had all had jobs there, so I'd become a caddie at an early age.

"Bobby would love to hear that story," Player told me, then added, "He's not in good health since the accident."

He was referring to the day in 1959 when Locke's car was hit by a train at a railway crossing. After that, Locke was never able to play top-flight competitive golf again. He suffered migraines and eye problems for the rest of his life, dying in 1987 at the age of 69. But first he had a big career, in America as well as Europe and Africa.

Bobby Locke first came to the U.S. in 1947. It happened this way.

After Sam Snead won the 1946 British Open, the first one played since 1939 because of the war, wealthy South African financier Norbert Stephen Erleigh, who had befriended Locke in '35 when the golfer was a teenage amateur, sponsored a tour for Snead in South Africa. Locke, who had finished second in the Open, would be Snead's competition, and Erleigh promised Locke that, when the tour was over, he would pay Locke's way to America.

It was not Bobby Locke's first invitation to the U.S. In 1936, Walter Hagen and Joe Kirkwood played with Locke during a six-week exhibition in South Africa and when it was over, Hagen, so impressed by the then-19-year-old amateur, asked him to come to the U.S. Locke's parents, however, said no, and while disappointed, Hagen advised Locke, "Young man, your golf might stay still or you may become a great golfer, but remember that your golfing education will not be complete until you have played golf in America."

Bobby Locke never forgot and 10 years later he was playing another American in South Africa, Sam Snead. The two dueled in 16 matches throughout the country. Snead won two, they tied two, and Locke won 12.

The U.S. golf world couldn't understand how America's greatest player was being beaten regularly, and as the sports reporters wrote, "by the man from the jungle."

Later Snead would say of that South African exhibition, "In some of the matches, my ball was inside his from tee to green on 15 holes, yet Locke would win, one up. He dropped 30 and 40 footers without thinking twice. He made me so nervous that in one match I missed eight putts of less than two feet."

Locke credits Snead with teaching him a lot during those matches.

"I learned to play not for the green but for the pin," Locke wrote in his memoir, On Golf, published in 1953. "Snead's long irons during the visit were a joy to watch, but my putting and my short game and my knowledge of local conditions gave me the edge."

What Locke never mentioned in his book is a story told to me by Dereck Mocke, the club historian at Maccauvlei Golf Club in South Africa. It was a story Dereck heard from his father, who followed the Snead-Locke exhibition matches.

In a bit of golf gamesmanship that foreshadowed his cleverness later in his career, Locke had his caddie switch the wood covers in his bag. In one match, Locke hit his tee shot very close to Sam's drive. Bobby played first, took his wood and smacked it onto the green.

Sam's caddie glanced into Locke's bag to see which club had been played, then handed Sam what he thought was the same club Locke hit only to have Snead's ball come up short. Bobby won the hole, the match, and Snead's respect. Sam, too, like Hagen, would tell Locke that he was good enough to play in the U.S. and so Bobby was.

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.