Friday, April 29

Oops! Armchair Golf Misquotes Thomas Jefferson

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Golf.
– (not written by) Thomas Jefferson

Historical note:
Thomas Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence and the third President of the United States.

This misquote brought to you by The Armchair Golfer.
Getting it wrong for the love of the game.

Thursday, April 28

Golf on TV: Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Volunteers of America Texas Shootout, Volvo China Open


By Golf Channel Communications

PGA TOUR

Zurich Classic of New Orleans
Dates: April 28-May 1
Venue: TPC Louisiana, Avondale, La.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         3-6 p.m. (Live) / 8:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m. (Replay)
Friday              3-6 p.m. (Live) / 8:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday          1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 9 p.m.-1:30 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday            1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 9 p.m.-1:30 a.m. (Replay)

Tournament Airtimes on CBS (Eastern):
Saturday 3-6 p.m.
Sunday 3-6 p.m.

Rose defends: Justin Rose finished one shot ahead of Cameron Tringale to earn his seventh career PGA TOUR win.

Headlining the field: Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Charley Hoffman, Billy Horschel, Smylie Kaufman, Steve Stricker, Patrick Rodgers, Daniel Berger and Byeong Hun An.

* * *

LPGA TOUR

Volunteers of America Texas Shootout
Dates: April 28-May 1                                                               
Venue: Las Colinas Country Club, Irving, Texas

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         Noon-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 2:30-5 a.m. (Friday replay)
Friday              Noon-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 3-5:30 a.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday          3-6 p.m. (Live) / 2:30-5 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday            3-6 p.m. (Live) / 2:30-5 a.m. (Monday replay)

Format: This week’s event is unique in that while there is a cut to low-70 players (and ties) following 36 holes on Friday, there is an additional cut to low-50 players (and ties) after 54 holes on Saturday.

Headlining the field: Lexi Thompson, Stacy Lewis, Brooke Henderson, Sei Young Kim, In Gee Chun, Amy Yang, So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng, Hyo Joo Kim, Minjee Lee and Suzann Pettersen.

* * *

EUROPEAN TOUR

Volvo China Open
Dates: April 28-May 1                                                               
Venue: Topwin Golf & Country Club, Beijing, China          

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         12:30-2:30 a.m. (Tape delay) / 2:30-5:30 a.m. (Live) / 6-10 a.m. (Replay)
Friday              5-10 a.m. (Tape delay)
Saturday          6-10 a.m. (Tape delay)
Sunday            6-10 a.m. (Tape delay)

Ashun defends: Wu Ashun defeated David Howell by one stroke to earn his first European Tour victory, becoming the first Chinese player to win a European Tour event in his home country.

Headlining the field: Miguel Angel Jimenez, Thorbjorn Olesen, Peter Uihlein, Bernd Wiesberger, Tommy Fleetwood, Alexander Levy, Y.E. Yang and Joost Luiten.

Wednesday, April 27

Miguel Angel Jimenez Flushes an Iron Off Great Wall of China


THE MOST INTERESTING GOLFER in the world hit yesterday's most interesting golf shot in the world. Maybe the unusual scene gave Pete Dye some diabolical new design ideas.

Tuesday, April 26

FOX Sports Trumpets USGA Championship Broadcast Team


(This might be my favorite clip from the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.)

It's not too early to think about the U.S. Open coming to Oakmont Country Club in June. It should be a dandy. Carnage everywhere.

FOX Sports had a bumpy start as the USGA's new broadcast partner last year. Minus Greg Norman, they're back and trumpeting the 2016 broadcast team. This year should be better. Fingers crossed.

By FOX Sports

With the start of the 2016 USGA championship season less than one month away, FOX Sports announced its complete on-air roster, featuring the addition of several experienced contributors and highlighted by the addition of World Golf Hall of Famer and two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange as an on-course reporter and analyst.

In his new role for FOX Sports in 2016, Strange serves as an on-course reporter and analyst for the 116th U.S. Open Championship at Oakmont Country Club, the U.S. Senior Open at Scioto Country Club, the U.S. Amateur at Oakland Hills Country Club and the Men's Amateur Four-Ball at Winged Foot Golf Club.

When the U.S. Open returns to Oakmont for a record ninth time, special contributor Bob Ford also joins the broadcast, providing insights and analysis of the course throughout the championship. A name synonymous with Oakmont, Ford joined the club's staff in 1975 and became its head professional just four years later, a post he held until 2013 when he was elevated to director of golf.

Five-time Ryder Cup competitor and veteran golf commentator Ken Brown also joins FOX Sports' U.S. Open coverage this year. The final addition to FOX Sports' 2016 U.S. Open roster is Golf World editor-in-chief Jaime Diaz.

Play-by-play announcers Joe Buck and Shane O’Donoghue, analysts Mark Brooks, Jay Delsing, Brad Faxon, David Fay, Steve Flesch, Natalie Gulbis, Gil Hanse, Juli Inkster, Buddy Marucci and Scott McCarron, studio host Holly Sonders and interviewer Shane Bacon return to FOX Sports’ USGA broadcast  team in 2016. Azinger makes his FOX Sports debut on May 24 at the Men's Amateur Four-Ball.

Monday, April 25

Charley Hoffman: 'This Was My Hardest One'



CHARLEY HOFFMAN MADE A 9-FOOT birdie putt on the final hole to win the Valero Texas Open on Sunday.

The 39-year-old Hoffman closed with a 3-under 69 at TPC San Antonio for a one-stroke victory over Patrick Reed. Hoffman finished at 12-under 276 and earned $1,116,000 for his fourth PGA TOUR victory.

"This was my hardest one," Hoffman said after a vigorous fist-pump and drill-team leg kick when the winning putt fell at 18. "Grabbing that lead and holding on to it -- it's tough to keep the pedal down and give yourself birdie opportunities and win golf tournaments."


(Source: Valero Texas Open email)

Olympics Controversy

Adam Scott has dropped out. So has Vijay Singh. And also Louis Oosthuizen. Golf is returning to the Olympics after a very, very long absence, but these marquee players will not be in Rio de Janeiro, according to carefully worded statements.

I've been trying to decide what I think about this. My knee-jerk reaction: They should play; they should represent their countries. It's an honor and a privilege. I've also considered this: Who am I to say what Adam Scott should do? And, does it make any difference that they are professionals rather than amateurs?

I recall when the Olympics was only for amateur athletes, with a focus on sportsmanship while competing for medals, and about promoting goodwill between nations. How do pro athletes enter into the Olympics equation? I still wonder.

Brian Keogh, quoting European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley and others, has penned a thoughtful piece on the "anti-Olympics brigade." The old guard such as Johnny Miller and Jack Nicklaus think Scott's decision is regrettable. Read Keogh.

I cannot begin to fathom what it's like to be Adam Scott. Still, it's hard to understand why he can't carve out time for the Olympics, even if he'd rather not be bothered. Obviously, it doesn't come along often. It's an opportunity to be an ambassador for the sport and his country, a once-in-a-lifetime deal.

Why not play this one time instead of talking about his busy schedule?

I like Scott. I like the way he conducts himself. I don't understand his Olympics decision. I do understand it's his business. Hopefully, he'll understand the disappointment from his fans and countrymen.

Friday, April 22

Stolen in My Youth: Willie Mays, 'The Say Hey Kid'

(Another occasional off-golf-topic piece because, after thousands of golf stories, I want to share other stories. Thanks for reading.)

The coveted baseball card I once had.
THEY CALLED HIM "THE SAY HEY KID" when he broke into major league baseball with the New York Giants in 1951.

Willie Mays, 20, was perhaps the most complete player baseball had ever seen. Mays was a "five-tool player." He could hit, hit for power, run, throw and field.

My goodness, could Willie field. His official position was center field, but he roamed much of the outfield in the vast Polo Grounds.

When a teammate was once asked what position he played, he replied: "Me and Willie Mays play left field."

In the 1954 World Series, Mays made what is arguably the greatest catch in baseball history. The catch robbed Vic Wertz and the Cleveland Indians, which went on to lose the series to the underdog Giants.

People said it wasn't Mays's greatest catch, but it came in the Fall Classic and was televised at a time when the nation was becoming mesmerized by the small screen. Other people said the throw Mays made after chasing down Wertz's rocket was even greater than the catch.



As a boy growing up in Evansville, Indiana, in the 1960s, I was a proud owner of a Willie Mays baseball card. This was no small feat. Mays cards were a rare find. I was the only one of my neigborhood friends who possessed Mays, then of the San Francisco Giants. (The Giants franchise, along with the Dodgers, moved to the West Coast in the late 1950s.)

Each of us bought a box of 500 baseball cards. The top players such as Mays, Henry Aaron, Ernie Banks, Bob Gibson and Roberto Clemente were gold. You dug through your massive box of cards and hoped to get lucky.

My friends wanted to trade for my Willie Mays card. I wouldn't do it. It was the one baseball card that was off limits. Then one day Willie was gone. I looked everywhere but couldn't find him.

Not long after one of my buddies returned my Willie Mays card. He was sorry. It was wrong.

Such was the popularity of Mays. Kids and grownups loved him. I might have stolen Willie, too, if I had thought I could get away with it.

Thursday, April 21

Profile of Henry William 'Harry' Vardon (Conclusion)



Part two of two on golf legend Harry Vardon (1870-1937). Read Part 1.

By John Coyne

Copyright © John Coyne. Used with permission.


WE KNOW HARRY VARDON BEST for his overlapping grip. Some accounts have it first being used by Johnny Laidlay, a champion Scottish amateur player. J. H. Taylor also used it before Vardon, but it was Vardon, who played with the grip in 1890s, who popularized it.

The grip is the most common used one today, that and the interlock grip. As we know with the Vardon grip the right little finger overlaps the left index finger. The overlap grip takes the little finger of the right hand off the shaft. This has the effect of slightly weakening the right hand. Since most golfers are right-handed, the overlap grip tends to balance the strength of the hands so that they function as a unit during the swing. 

Vardon knew that the secret of the golf swing was in the hands. He would hit a series of identical drives, and on each drive he took a slightly different foot position, even though all the drives dropped within a few feet of the target. The consistency lay in his trained hands. He was so unerringly accurate that an apocryphal anecdote has been handed down that when he played a round in the afternoon, his ball would land in the divots he had taken in the morning's round. 

As the great English golf writer Bernard Darwin wrote, "He had a great influence, too, on methods of playing. When he first appeared his notably upright swing, thought so full of grace and rhythm, came as a shock to the orthodoxy of the time, but has long since been accepted."

In The Gist of Golf  Harry Vardon writes how he has no idea why "Isle of Jersey golfers" like himself, used the upright swing. "That compact manner of wielding the club which came as a shock to the people who for years had worshipped the longer and flatter method known as the St. Andrews swing."

Harry writes how his younger brother Tom, and other golfers from the island, "all drifted involuntarily into the habit of taking the club to the top of the swing by the shortest route, whereas the popular way before was to sweep the club back flat at the start and make a very full flourish of the swing. Why we hit upon the other way we do not know."

Never having had a golf lesson, and coming to the game late, Vardon never thought about the swing until his first golf professional job at Ripon, Yorkshire, when he was twenty-one and "began to study and learn golf in real earnest."

That said, it is now generally accepted the modern game we play today was started by Harry Vardon, and he was the best ever. Even Bernard Darwin admitted, "It is impossible to imagine anyone playing any better than Harry Vardon."

John Coyne is a bestselling author of three golf novels and more than 20 other books. Pay him a visit at John Coyne Books.

Wednesday, April 20

Profile of Henry William 'Harry' Vardon

Part one of two on golf legend Harry Vardon (1870-1937).

By John Coyne

Copyright © John Coyne. Used with permission.

HENRY WILLIAM "HARRY" VARDON, who is credited with giving golf the modern swing and the Vardon grip, published a book in 1922 entitled The Gist of Golf. I came across a reissue recently, published in 1999 by the Rutledge Hill Press of Nashville, Tennessee. For this printing, Rutledge added a useful Glossary to explain such names as "baffy," as well as "howk" and "foozling." Now, we all know golf is a difficult game, but so can be golf terminology.

"I'm the best and I'll thank you to remember that,"
Harry Vardon once said.
The book is a delightful collection of reminiscences as well as instructions on how to play the game with hickory clubs.

Vardon first tells how he got into the game as a young boy. He played then with homemade blackthorn sticks were the shafts and a piece of oak as the head. The two were fastened together by boring a hole in the head with a red-hot poker, inserting the blackthorn stick and tightening the joint with the aid of wedges. There were no iron clubs.

"Truth to tell," he writes, "I was not particularly keen on the game, and played very seldom."

He was much keener on going to the beach to collect seaweed which sold for a few pounds that he gave to his parents. He needed to earn money for his family of five brothers and two sisters. At the age of thirteen, he quit school and went to work for a doctor's service as a page-boy to help his family. 

For the next four years he didn't play any golf. Then at seventeen he went to work as a gardener for a man who did play and who gave Vardon a few of his old clubs which Vardon recalled were "very wonderful after the clumsy, homemade things that I had been using."

Vardon actually preferred other sports. He played cricket and football, and also ran. He won 10 prizes as a sprinter.

'Enormous Amount'

All of this changed when he heard his younger brother Tom, who had gone to England to become a professional golfer, had won second prize in a tournament at Musselburgh. The prize was worth 20 pounds. 

"It seemed an enormous amount to me," Vardon said, hearing the news. "I pondered long and intently over it. I knew that, little as I had played, I was as good as Tom. If he could win that vast fortune, why shouldn’t I?"

Vardon was twenty before he took up the game seriously and he would go onto become one of the "Great Triumvirate" with James Braid and John H. Taylor of Great Britain. They ruled the British Open in the early 20th century, winning 16 Opens among them. Vardon alone won six Opens between 1896 and 1914, a record that still stands.

Vardon came to the United States in 1900 for exhibitions sponsored by A.G. Spalding, a manufacturer of sporting goods. He was to play with Spalding's new guttie golf ball, the Vardon Flyer. Spalding offered Vardon a percentage of sales but Vardon accepted a flat fee of $10,000 for 10 months of work, with the chance to augment his income through side purses in matches and fees from $200 to $250 for each personal appearance. It was a wise decision. This was just about the time that the rubber ball was introduced and the gutta-percha period of golf came to an end.

Vardon's tour, however, was no failure. He won the U.S. Open while in America that year.

TO BE CONTINUED.

John Coyne is a bestselling author of three golf novels and more than 20 other books. Pay him a visit at John Coyne Books.

Tuesday, April 19

Report: UK Is Hole-in-One Capital of Golf World

Image courtesy of Sidereal/Flickr.
IF YOU LOVE GOLF DATA, then this is for you.

Hole19 has compiled data from over three million rounds of golf played around the world and found the UK to be the hole-in-one capital of the world. And also the worst when it comes to putting.

Key findings of Hole19's Global Golf Report include:
  • The pace of play globally shows no signs of speeding up with an average time per 18 hole round standing at four hours 15 minutes. 
  • In terms of fairways hit in regulation, golfers in India come out best with a respectable 60.2%. This is followed by: Morocco (58.8%), China (56.2%) and Vietnam (54.2%). 
  • Golfers in Finland boast the average lowest handicap (14.2) followed by fellow Nordic countries Sweden (15.9) and Iceland (16.1). 
  • Golfers in the UK rank much lower down with an average handicap of almost 20 (19.8). Although that is still way ahead of last placed China, which comes in at a maximum of 26. 
(Who knew Nordic golfers were so good? Even with such short seasons.)

Following is the complete news from Hole19.

London, 29th March 2016: When it comes to the most elusive achievement in golf, the UK performs better than any other country in the world. That's according to data compiled over three million rounds of golf by the GPS and scoring app, Hole19, which found the UK has achieved more hole-in-one's than any other country.

The Hole19 Global Golf Report, the first of its nature, has been compiled from users of the app between April 2014 and January 2016, spanning over 50 countries.

It found that, of the 6,400 hole in ones that have been recorded in this time, 15% have come from the UK. This puts the UK at the top of the league table with double that of its nearest rival Germany (7.5%). The other nations making up the top five are: Spain (4.7%), Australia (4.1%) and Ireland (4%).

The report, which will be released biannually, looks at the global state of the game when it comes to on-course performance. It includes stats and information on; popular courses, pace of play, scores, fairways and greens in regulation, handicaps and course length.

Unfortunately for the UK, the report also records information including average putts taken per round. The data found that the UK fares particularly poorly at this aspect of the game, coming in at 25th in the world with an average of 34.9 (putts per round). This is behind countries such as Thailand (34.1), Finland (34.6) and Turkey (34.8). When it comes to putting efficiency, Denmark comes out top with an average per round of 32.8 putts.

Commenting on the data, Anthony Douglas, founder, Hole19 Golf said: "Amazing things happen on the golf course everyday but, without the ability to record and track the stats, individual moments and insights get lost. That is why we compiled the Hole19 Global Golf Report - to connect the world of golf and tell the stories of people, countries and courses that make the game what it is. Sharing experiences is as much a part of the game as the clubs and it's vitally important players, regardless of geography or timezone, have a forum to do that."

Looking further afield, the data also found that the pace of play globally shows no signs of speeding up with an average time per 18 hole round standing at four hours 15 minutes. In terms of fairways hit in regulation, golfers in India come out best with a respectable 60.2%. This is followed by: Morocco (58.8%), China (56.2%) and Vietnam (54.2%). Golfers in Finland boast the average lowest handicap (14.2) followed by fellow Nordic countries Sweden (15.9) and Iceland (16.1). Golfers in the UK rank much lower down with an average handicap of almost 20 (19.8). 

Although that is still way ahead of last placed China, which comes in at a maximum of 26. 

While part of the pleasure of golf may be in the exercise and walking, when it comes to average round distance, think yourself fortunate you are not playing regularly in Mongolia where the average course length is 6,690m. This is ahead of Paraguay (6,077m) and Botswana (6,055m).

Hole19, which assists players on the golf course with GPS distances, hole map imagery, stat tracking, and more, has now amassed over 700,000 users around the world. Its team has mapped over 38,000 courses, which represents more than 95% of golf courses worldwide while it has users and courses in over 154 countries with the largest number of users coming from USA, UK, Germany, Canada and Sweden.

Hole19 is a free to download app and is available on iOS, Android, Apple Watch and Android Wear. For more information, please visit www.hole19golf.com.

Monday, April 18

SI Cover Story: 'Tired of Being Tiger Woods'

THIS MAY BE LIKE A PIECE of cheese that's been in the fridge a little too long, but I intended to get to it when it landed in my email on March 29.

Sports Illustrated published a cover story on Tiger Woods. They sent excerpts before it hit the newsstands. Here are a few.

Read the feature story on Tiger Woods.
PGA Tour player and Tiger pal Charles Howell III told an anecdote about a cage dive with great white sharks:
"We chummed the water for seven or eight hours, but there's not a shark to be seen. Tiger is bored out of his mind. He's wearing a wetsuit to dive into the cage in case any sharks come, and suddenly he just jumps into open water. He's decided to swim over to the island and get up close to the seals. The guys on the boat are going nuts, shouting for Tiger to come back, but he just keeps swimming, through all the chum ... After what seems like an eternity, he swims back and casually gets back on the boat… He's just different from normal people. Completely fearless."
Howell also had thoughts on Tiger's future in golf:  
"He's still Tiger Woods and he has an imprint to play great golf, and he will do it again… He just thinks differently from everybody else, which is why he was so great. If the guy were to get off his couch and show up at the Masters and win I would not be be surprised, because that’s who he is."
I'm only an observer, with no special insight, but I disagree with Howell. At this point, I'd be shocked if Tiger got off his couch and won any major. In a way, I don't think "Tiger" (the one who won 14 majors in about a decade) exists anymore. Physically, he's not the same. In addition, and more importantly, the confidence has evaporated. Can he get it back? I seriously doubt it. I'd be glad to be proved wrong.

Former swing coach Hank Haney mentioned Tiger's "indifference" to surpassing the 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus:
"That was a big wow. I finally understood he really doesn't give a s---. The media has always been so clueless on Tiger. They've always thought that beating Jack's record is the most important thing in his life. If that's your premise, and it's wrong, then all the assumptions you make after that are wrong too. It was obvious in the way his work ethic fell off and his attitude on the course that he had lost a lot of his desire. On some level he was just tired of being Tiger Woods."
While fascinating, Haney's comments didn't surprise me too much. I'd heard similar remarks a few years ago in the media center at a major championship. It was hearsay, but it went something like this: Tiger thought 14 majors was just fine and felt comfortable with his place in golf and golf history.

That surprised me at the time, but upon further thought it didn't, or at least not so much. In my view, Tiger has been the one who has encouraged everyone to believe he's in hot pursuit of Jack. And why not? There's been a lot at stake for him, including a ton of money, his very livelihood.

I hope I don't sound cynical, just realistic. My hunch is that it was (and is) in Tiger's interest to keep his legend alive for as long as he can, even when his game is all but gone.

Friday, April 15

Oops! Armchair Golf Misquotes Charles Dickens

It was the best of tee times, it was the worst of tee times.
– (not said by) Charles Dickens

Biographical note: Charles Dickens was an English novelist.

This misquote brought to you by The Armchair Golfer.
Getting it wrong for the love of the game.

Thursday, April 14

Golf on TV: RBC Heritage, LOTTE Championship, Mitsubishi Electric Classic, Open de Espana



By Golf Channel Communications

PGA TOUR

The PGA TOUR is on Hilton Head Island this week for the RBC Heritage, as World No. 1 Jason Day leads the field, along with newly turned professional (and low amateur at the Masters) Bryson DeChambeau, who makes his professional debut this week. 

RBC Heritage
Dates: April 14-17
Venue: Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head Island, S.C.

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

Tournament Airtimes on CBS (Eastern):
Saturday 3-6 p.m.
Sunday 3-6 p.m.

Headlining the field: Jason Day, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Paul Casey, Brandt Snedeker, Kevin Kisner, Matt Kuchar, Graeme McDowell, Matt Fitzpatrick and Davis Love III.

* * *

LPGA TOUR

The LPGA Tour is in Hawaii for the LOTTE Championship, airing in primetime on Golf Channel from Wednesday-Saturday. World No. 1 Lydia Ko leads the field, along with Inbee Park and Lexi Thompson. 

LOTTE Championship
Dates: April 13-16                                                                      
Venue: Ko Olina Golf Club, Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Wednesday     7-11 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-3 a.m. (Replay)
Thursday         7-11 p.m. (Live) / 2-6 a.m. (Friday replay)
Friday              7-11 p.m. (Live) / 4-7 a.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday          7-11 p.m. (Live)

Kim defends: Sei Young Kim defeated Inbee Park with a hole-out from 154 yards for eagle on the first playoff hole to earn her second career LPGA Tour win.

Headlining the field: Lydia Ko, Inbee Park, Lexi Thompson, Brooke Henderson, Sei Young Kim, Brittany Lincicome, Suzann Pettersen, Cristie Kerr, In Gee Chun and Michelle Wie.

* * *

PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS

The PGA TOUR Champions is in Georgia for the Mitsubishi Electric Classic, with six Masters participants (and former champions) scheduled to compete, including Bernhard Langer and Tom Watson. 

Mitsubishi Electric Classic
Dates: April 15-17                                                                      
Venue: TPC Sugarloaf, Duluth, Ga.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday              Noon-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 2-4 a.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday          3-6 p.m. (Live) / 3-5 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday            3-6 p.m. (Live) / 12:30-2:30 a.m. (Monday replay)

Browne defends: Olin Browne finished one shot ahead of Bernhard Langer for his second career PGA TOUR Champions win.

Headlining the field: Bernhard Langer, Tom Watson, Colin Montgomerie, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Jay Haas, Mark O’Meara, Tom Lehman, Kirk Triplett and Larry Mize.

* * *

EUROPEAN TOUR

The European Tour stages the Open de Espana, hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation. Garcia, along with fellow Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello and major champion Martin Kaymer headline the field.

Open de Espana
Dates: April 14-17                                                                      
Venue: Valderrama Golf Club, Sotogrande, Spain

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         6:30-8:30 a.m. / 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)
Friday              6:30-8:30 a.m. / 10:30 a.m.-Noon (Live)
Saturday          8 a.m.-Noon (Live)
Sunday            5-9:30 a.m. (Live)

Morrison defends: James Morrison finished four strokes clear of the field for his second career European Tour victory.

Headlining the field: Sergio Garcia, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Martin Kaymer, Soren Kjeldsen, Thorbjorn Olesen, Thomas Pieters, Andy Sullivan, Peter Uihlein and Chris Wood.

Wednesday, April 13

Rooftop Putt-Putt Golf in Downtown Miami

HERE'S SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

No, this isn't a sponsor. It just sounded fun and made me wish I was in Miami sipping an Arnold Palmer and knocking putts around the pool.

From a news release (edited):
MIAMI – Need a tee time? Head 50 floors up to the rooftop FIFTY Ultra Lounge at Viceroy Miami for a friendly game of miniature golf. 
Every Wednesday from 5 to 10 p.m. in April, the stylish Downtown Miami hotel invites guests to play putt-putt poolside while enjoying incomparable views of the city and Biscayne Bay, savor a delectable snack from a pop-up taco stand presented by Coyo Taco and sip on Arnold Palmers. Whether a golf or wellness enthusiast, hotel guests can also take advantage of Viceroy Miami's two new sporty packages available April 1-30, 2016.  
"We thought it would be fun to take it up a notch by transforming our rooftop into a happening happy hour scene with miniature golf," said sales and marketing director Tijas Klerx, "as well as feature overnight packages designed to promote wellness or work on one’s golf swing." 
At Miami's only rooftop putt-putt golf experience, Viceroy Miami creates a fun weekly happy hour vibe with the addition of a 9-hole miniature golf course set-up around the nightclub's private pool. Viceroy Miami also serves reduced-priced golf-inspired cocktails, like the classic Arnold Palmer with a twist.

Tuesday, April 12

VIDEO: Interview With Masters Champion Danny Willett



BEFORE MOVING ON FROM THE 2016 MASTERS, here's a Golf Channel interview with the newest owner of a Green Jacket, Danny Willett.

A lot of you are Jordan Spieth fans, and for good reason. Nonetheless, I think you might enjoy Willett's chat with Todd Lewis. He sums up Sunday at the Masters extremely well, including his and Spieth's roles in the drama. You also may still be disappointed that Jordan finished second, but it's impossible to miss the sheer joy for this Englishman, who played flawlessly over the closing holes at Augusta National.

Monday, April 11

No Amen for Jordan Spieth

JORDAN SPIETH WAS HARRY HOUDINI at Augusta National Golf Club, but even he couldn't escape two balls in the water at No. 12, the world's most famous par-3 hole, a watery grave for so many on their quest for a Green Jacket. And it will happen again. You can be sure of it.

Spieth made the turn in 32 after four straight birdies. He had a five-shot lead with nine holes to play. But after two bogeys and two poor swings on the 12th, the centerpiece of Amen Corner, there was no "amen" for Jordan, only the worst kind of misery in major championship golf.

"Buddy, it feels like we're collapsing," the 22-year-old defending champion said to his caddie, Michael Greller.

From Friday on, it looked as if Spieth's game was held together with bailing wire, duct tape, super glue and unspoken prayers. His tempo was off, he was fidgety and he was missing both left and right, but mostly right.

Yet his immaculate short game saved him again and again, and, as one person commented, he putted like God himself. That Spieth could lead the Masters by five strokes after 63 holes seemed like a miracle. Bogeys at 10 and 11 cut the margin, but the gutty Texan was still in control as he strolled to the 155-yard 12th, where the shot was a stock 9-iron, he later said.

My last thought before that fateful swing on the 12th tee was this: "Whatever you do, don't hit it in the water!"

Inexplicable as it seemed late on Sunday afternoon, Jordan Spieth had finally put himself in a position from which he couldn't escape. His putting could not save him this time. It could not undo the transgression of aiming at a right-hand pin on 12 when you have the Masters lead. As much as the golf gods had smiled on young Spieth, they had to be frowning at that play.

Up ahead, Englishman Danny Willett was playing the golf of his life while Spieth was drowning in Rae's Creek. The world No. 12 player birdied 13, 14 and 16. His par save at 17 displayed nerves of steel and a textbook par at 18 completed a 67, the best round of the day. Willett had done everything necessary to give himself a chance at a Green Jacket. It was a stellar performance.

So, did Jordan Spieth give away the Masters or did Danny Willett win it?

That's an easy one for me. Both.

Saturday, April 9

Masters Flag Signed by Arnold Palmer

THIS IMAGE CAME FROM READER and friend Howie Karasick, whose golf hero is Arnold Palmer.

"To Harpoon. Best Wishes, Arnold Palmer - 1958, 1960, 1962, 1964."

("Harpoon" is a nickname.")

Rory McIlroy: 'I Sort of Feel That Augusta Owes Me Something'

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.

RORY MCILROY FEELS SOMEWHAT AGGRIEVED that he didn't win the 2011 Masters but rather than feeling he's owed a green jacket, he will have go out and rip it off Jordan Spieth's back over the weekend.

The game's two young turks will go head to head on Saturday with Spieth's 74 leaving him a shot ahead of McIlroy, who played his last six holes in three under par to post a joint best of the day 71 in treacherous swirling winds.

It was surprising to hear McIlroy admit what he'd denied previously and confess that he feels the Masters owes him.

"I sort of feel that Augusta owes me something and I have come with that attitude," McIlroy said. "I have come here to get something that I should have had a long time ago. You need to be so focused and in control of your emotions here. It's about not getting fazed and mentally I have been good the last couple of days. I need to keep that going for the next two days."

McIlroy insisted the wasn't thinking too much about his duel with Spieth. But the American got any doubts about what it means when he said he'd be somewhat intimidated by the man from Northern Ireland.

"No, I don't think it's a comfort level," he said when asked about being paired with a player he likes. "I'd rather be playing with someone less threatening to be honest. He's certainly proven himself in majors.  But I think it's going to be fun, a really fun challenge."

With the top 22 on the leaderboard covered by five shots it promises to be an exciting weekend with more carnage forecast on Saturday as the west wind is expected to blow hard once more.

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

Thursday, April 7

VIDEO: 2016 Masters Underway, Player Outdrives Nicklaus


HERE WE GO. THE 2016 MASTERS is underway on a breezy Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club. Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player struck the ceremonial opening shots while Arnold Palmer watched from a folding chair.

The Black Knight outdrove the Golden Bear, according to Geoff Shackelford.

If you don't think Player cares, you don't know the hyper-competitive 80-year-old South African. Following is my recap of the ceremonial tee shots at the 2012 Masters.

* * *

The greats are competitive forever, looking for any possible edge, more distance, more anything. Just ask Gary Player.

The Black Knight fiddled with his driver in anticipation of last Thursday’s ceremonial tee shot alongside fellow Masters winners and Hall of Famers Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Gary wanted to put his best hit forward to open the 2012 Masters. Maybe he could rifle his drive on “Tea Olive” past the Golden Bear.

Jack, of course, used a Nicklaus driver. Arnie and Gary wielded Callaway Razr Fit drivers. The South African was looking for more distance, so he worked with the Callaway people early during Masters week to perfect his driver setup. The end result was a setup with more loft to hit the ball higher and also included tweaks to the clubhead that would allow him to turn it over a bit and get some extra roll down the lush 1st fairway.

Apparently, Gary was pleased.

“Player’s caddy came to the truck Wednesday to confirm that the Black Knight was getting longer distance and wanted to get a Razr Fit 3-wood to match the driver,” said a Callaway spokesperson.

On Thursday morning, with Masters Chairman Billy Payne serving as master of ceremonies, Palmer stepped up first and knocked one down the middle. Player was next, and cracked a drive that had a nice little draw. Then Jack belted one that also found the fairway, making it three for three.

The Big 3 had come through once more.

Wednesday, April 6

VIDEO: Jack Nicklaus Drives Down Magnolia Lane



Watch from behind the scenes what happened when I arrived to Magnolia Lane and the Masters this afternoon! 󾰬
Posted by Jack Nicklaus on Tuesday, April 5, 2016

2016 Masters: Thursday Tee Times

THURSDAY TEE TIMES at Augusta National Golf Club. Are you ready?

8:20 a.m. -- Jim Herman, Steven Bowditch

8:31 a.m. -- Trevor Immelman, Robert Streb, Derek Bard (A)

8:42 a.m. -- Larry Mize, Bernd Wiesberger, Kevin Streelman

8:53 a.m. -- Sandy Lyle, Ben Crane, Vaughn Taylor

9:04 a.m. -- Webb Simpson, Chris Wood, Thongchai Jaidee

9:15 a.m. -- Tom Watson, Charley Hoffman, Lee Westwood

9:26 a.m. -- Zach Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Cheng Jin (A)

9:37 a.m. -- Louis Oosthuizen, Jason Dufner, Patrick Reed

9:48 a.m. -- Jordan Spieth, Paul Casey, Bryson DeChambeau (A)

9:59 a.m. -- Justin Thomas, Emiliano Grillo, Dustin Johnson

10:21 a.m. -- Vijay Singh, Hideki Matsuyama, Chris Kirk

10:32 a.m. -- Harris English, Andy Sullivan, Kevin Na

10:43 a.m. -- Phil Mickelson, Marc Leishman, Henrik Stenson

10:54 a.m. -- Justin Scott, Jamie Donaldson, Daniel Berger

11:05 a.m. -- Adam Scott, Kevin Kisner, Brooks Koepka

11:16 a.m. -- Mike Weir, Cameron Smith, Sammy Schmitz (A)

11:27 a.m. -- Ian Woosnam, Troy Merritt, Byeong-Hun An

11:38 a.m. -- Darren Carke, Billy Horschel, Matthew Fitzpatrick

11:49 a.m. -- Mark O'Meara, David Lingmerth, Paul Chaplet (A)

12:00 p.m. -- Keegan Bradley, Brandt Snedeker, Kiradech Aphibarnrat

12:22 p.m. -- Charl Schwartzel, Davis Love III, Rafael Cabrera-Bello

12:33 p.m. -- Danny Lee, Russell Knox, Smylie Kaufman

12:44 p.m. -- Bubba Watson, Branden Grace, Ian Poulter

12:55 p.m. -- Bernhard Langer, Hunter Mahan, Romain Langasque (A)

1:06 p.m. -- Jason Day, Matt Kuchar, Ernie Els

1:17 p.m. -- Graeme McDowell, Fabian Gomez, Scott Piercy

1:28 p.m. -- Jimmy Walker, Soren Kjeldsen, Anirban Lahiri

1:39 p.m. -- Danny Willett, Sergio Garcia, Ryan Moore

1:50 p.m. -- Angel Cabrera, Shane Lowry, J.B. Holmes

2:01 p.m. -- Martin Kaymer, Bill Haas, Rory McIlroy

Tuesday, April 5

2016 Masters Odds: Jason Day at 13/2

2016 MASTERS ODDS COURTESY of Bovada.

Odds to win the US Masters 2016
Jason Day                                13/2
Rory McIlroy                             15/2
Jordan Spieth                           15/2
Bubba Watson                          10/1
Adam Scott                              11/1
Rickie Fowler                            16/1
Phil Mickelson                           20/1 
Dustin Johnson                         22/1 
Louis Oosthuizen                       28/1 
Justin Rose                               28/1 
Charl Schwartzel                        28/1
Henrik Stenson                          30/1 
Hideki Matsuyama                     35/1 
Brandt Snedeker                       45/1
Patrick Reed                             50/1 
Paul Casey                               55/1
Sergio Garcia                            55/1 
Marc Leishman                          55/1 
Daniel Willett                             55/1 
Brooks Koepka                         60/1 
Branden Grace                          65/1 
Justin Thomas                           65/1  
Zach Johnson                           66/1  
Matt Kuchar                              70/1 
Jimmy Walker                           80/1  
Jason Dufner                            100/1  
Bill Haas                                   100/1 
J.B. Holmes                              100/1  
Shane Lowry                             100/1 
Tiger Woods                             100/1*

*You might not want to take Woods. He's not playing.

VIDEO: 'My First Time at Augusta National'



IT'S MASTERS WEEK. THIS VIDEO helps set the mood.

Mark Wahlberg, Wayne Gretzky, PGA Tour players Geoff Ogilvy, Jerry Kelly and Patrick Reed, and sportscaster Jim Nantz reminisce about their first trip to Augusta National, including what makes it the most revered venue in golf.

I especially liked how Kelly described it.

Monday, April 4

Lydia Ko: 'It Is Unbelievable'



LYDIA KO IS THE MOST DOMINANT tour golfer on the planet. Tiger Woods? Ko is piling up more wins, including majors, at a younger age than Woods.

The New Zealand teenager collected her second consecutive major yesterday in Rancho Mirage when she birdied the 72nd hole at the ANA Inspiration, the year's first major. Ko shot a final-round 69 to finish at 12-under par.

"This is an unbelievable moment," Ko told Golf Channel's Jerry Foltz before the traditional jump into the greenside pond.

"I've always walked out on the bridge and have seen Poppie's Pond and said, 'Wow that is super clear and how amazing would it be to just jump in there.' Earlier this week, Abby [Wambach] jumped in there after Danielle [Kang] chipped in for eagle. I thought, 'Hey, how do you beat that kind of jump?' It is an amazing moment. Being here with the team makes it even more special."

A few moments later she spoke to Golf Channel's Karen Stupples.

"This has been a long week," Ko said. "I am proud that I was able to make those clutch putts, especially on the back nine."

It's hard to put Ko's accomplishments in perspective since there has been no one like her. She is Michelle Wie, in a sense. This kind of success is what the golf world was expecting from Wie years ago. Interestingly, she has the same coach as Wie, David Leadbetter.

"It has always been my dream to play on the LPGA Tour," Ko added. "For these amazing things to be happening, it is unbelievable, but it also motivates me to work harder and try to put myself in good position and contention whenever I can."

To be continued.

Friday, April 1

Slow Texas Golfer Hospitalized With Heat Exhaustion

SAN ANTONIO, TX – What began as a leisurely game of golf at a municipal course turned into an epic round that stretched over three days and ended with a trip to the hospital for a local man. With plenty of fluids, a couple of days' rest and time in an air-conditioned environment, Ellis Connor will make a full recovery, doctors said.

Friends, however, are more concerned about Connor's golf habits that led to the hospitalization. "Ellis has always been a slow player," said a member of his regular foursome, "but, frankly, this even shocked us."

It began normally enough when Connor joined a twosome on last Tuesday afternoon to take advantage of the cheaper twilight rates. The twosome reportedly left Connor when the group took an hour to play the opening hole and Connor said he felt "rushed."

The authorities are still trying to piece things together from interviews with golfers, course staff and medical personnel. Here's some of what they believe transpired over the next 62 hours.

Yardage Mystery

Sometime on late Tuesday afternoon Connor abandoned his cart and began pacing off every shot from the fairway to the green. This would slow down any golfer considerably. For the already tortoise-like Connor it was a major contributing factor to his three-day golf odyssey.

No one is exactly sure why Connor left his cart behind, but authorities did find a SkyCaddie in a pond near where the lone golfer was seen retrieving golf balls for two and a half hours.

"If he dropped his rangefinder in the water, that would explain why he was stepping off his yardage the rest of the way," said the head pro, "although it's puzzling why he walked off everything up to the green instead of using the sprinkler heads."

One of Connor's golf friends later confirmed that Connor didn't trust the course yardages.

Bedded Down in Bunkers

Course personnel believe that Connor slept in bunkers on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Players spotted him raking traps at daybreak on Wednesday and Thursday and he was mistaken for a member of the grounds crew. 

Sometime on Wednesday, after spending nearly an hour trying to line up a 10-foot bogey putt on the 12th hole, Connor phoned a golf friend at work for guidance on how much the putt would break. After finally deciding to play it two balls outside the right-hand side of the cup, Connor left the putt short.

Around noon on Thursday a dehydrated and severely fatigued Connor finally succumbed to the heat. An empty vitamin water bottle was found in his golf bag, along with some granola bar wrappers and two sticks of Juicy Fruit gum. 

During the marathon round, course personnel estimate that 79 groups played through Connor, a sure sign of a golfer in trouble. "I did think it was kind of weird when our fivesome played through him," said one course regular who asked not to be identified. "I wish now I would have done something, but at the time he just looked like your average hacker."

Connor declined to be interviewed for this story. But, according to a friend, he wanted to finish his round when he was released from the hospital.


"I was just starting to figure some things out," Connor said.

Happy April Fools' Day.