Wednesday, October 31

Pinehurst Caddie Willie McRae Dies at 85; Said 'Everybody's a Celebrity'



WILLIE MCRAE BEGAN AS A CADDIE at Pinehurst in 1943. He was 10. McRae retired from his trade a year ago and died this past Sunday at the age of 85.

Like those TV spots for the insurance company say, McRae had seen a thing or two. He caddied for five presidents and famous athletes like Mickey Mantle and Michael Jordan.

It made no difference to McRae. According to a 2013 interview, the Pinehurst caddie treated everyone the same way.

"[E]verybody's a celebrity," he said. "We can't say well this guy's a celebrity because he played basketball or baseball or golf pro or whatever. But everybody's somebody and that's what you gotta take."

McRae collected $1.75 a round plus a 50-cent tip when he started looping 65 years ago. In the early days, those loops included Pinehurst No. 2 architect Donald Ross and golf legends Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead and Ben Hogan.

Sunday, October 28

VIDEO: Xander Schauffele Wins WGC-HSBC Champions



XANDER SCHAUFFELE PREVAILED IN A ONE-HOLE playoff with Tony Finau to win the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

Schauffele birdied the final two holes in regulation to force extra holes. He shot a final-round 68, the day's lowest score.

"I was definitely in sort of an attack mode," Schauffele said, "and I was hitting good shots all day, making good putts. I was doing everything that I needed to do."

Schauffele, 25, has three tour wins and is inside the top 20 in the world rankings.

Thursday, October 25

VIDEO: ESPN's Michael Collins on Dropped Lawsuit and Happier Caddies



ESPN'S MICHAEL COLLINS REPORTS THAT CADDIES have dropped their lawsuit against the PGA Tour. Furthermore, the caddies are apparently happier with Jay Monahan at the helm of the PGA Tour. Many were not fans of the previous regime. (Tim Finchem.)

I realize the caddies are independent contractors, but I'm glad to hear an increased stipend is probably coming their way. That will help with health care.

And how about Collins' beard?

It's longer than the rough at Le Golf National where Europe bagged another Ryder Cup victory.

Tuesday, October 23

Paul Azinger on Replacing Johnny Miller: 'I'm Just Going to Be Me. It's Got Me This Far, Right?'



IT'S OFFICIAL. PAUL AZINGER WAS NAMED as the lead golf analyst who will follow Johnny Miller at NBC.

Azinger is going to be busy in 2019. He will work the Masters for the BBC, the U.S. Opens for FOX, and the NBC golf telecasts beginning with the WGC-Mexico Championship in late February.

Azinger recently talked to golf writer Jeff Babineau at Gator Creek Golf Club. Here are a couple of Azinger snippets from Babineau's story for MORNING READ:
I'm not trying to fill Johnny's shoes. You can't fill those shoes. I'm different than him. I'm just going to go for being me. It's got me this far, right? I'll stir it up. I'll say stuff. It'll just pop up, like it does when I'm giving a lesson. But I'm not looking to carve my own path. I'm just looking to fit in. They've already established what they've got there. These guys are all experts.
On Johnny Miller:
I talked to him for about 15-20 minutes. I asked him a lot of questions. I asked him about Tommy Roy. I wanted to know about Tommy Randolph [also in NBC production] … What is Dan Hicks like? All that. You've got to high-praise Johnny, because he's done it for a long time, and Johnny would tell it like it is. Johnny had this ability to inflect his voice; he'd be saying stuff you disagreed with, but because of the way he inflected it, you weren't so sure. He was an influencer. We phone-tagged, and we talked. We have a lot in common, really, but I'm not Johnny. I'm different than Johnny. He told me, 'You keep calling it like it is.' And that’s what I plan on doing.
Azinger won a dozen times on the PGA Tour, including one major, the 1993 PGA Championship.

Saturday, October 20

VIDEO: Ian Poulter Explains European Domination in Ryder Cup



WHY DOES EUROPE KEEP WINNING?

It's not that complicated. It can't be solved by a U.S. task force or a pod system. Ian Poulter explains.

Tuesday, October 16

Lead Golf Analyst Johnny Miller to Retire from NBC Broadcast Booth in Early 2019


LEAD GOLF ANALYST JOHNNY MILLER WILL RETIRE from NBC Sports in January 2019. Miller's last event will be the Waste Management Phoenix Open. 

In a statement to Golf Channel, Miller said:

"The call for being there for my grandkids, to teach them how to fish. I felt it was a higher calling. The parents are trying to make a living, and the grandparents can be there like my father was with my four boys. He was there every day for them. I'm a big believer there is a time and a season for everything."

Miller has spent 29 years in the NBC booth after a Hall of Fame career that produced 23 wins on the PGA Tour, including two majors, the 1973 U.S. Open and 1976 Open Championship.

In December 2012 I enjoyed a long dinner with Miller at a Lexus event at Pebble Beach. Following are my notes on a small piece of that conversation:
I asked Johnny if he ever foresaw himself doing TV work. No, he said. He's signed on for three more years with NBC. After that it sounds like he'll be gone, except for an occasional event. He wondered aloud who might take his place. I said, "You must enjoy it." He's still in the tower after 20-plus years. Johnny said he feels like he has something to offer and brings something different to the game. My wife told him how she appreciates his candor. He told me a story about his mom's blackberry pie. He always wondered why it was the best. His mom finally shared the secret: mostly ripe, sweet berries, plus a few select tart ones. An approach that can also work well for golf commentary.
Reports say Paul Azinger will replace Miller.

The 2018-19 PGA Tour Schedule: Events, Dates, Courses, Purses



THERE'S NO OFF SEASON IN GOLF. I expect only the most dedicated golf fans notice or care. Here's what's ahead for the men of the PGA Tour, and those who watch.

OCTOBER
Oct. 4-7: Safeway Open (Kevin Tway); Silverado Resort and Spa North, Napa, CA; $6,400,000
Oct. 11-14: CIMB Classic (Marc Leishman); TPC Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; $7,000,000
Oct. 18-21: The CJ Cup; Nine Bridges, Jeju Island, South Korea; $9,250,000
Oct. 25-28: WGC-HSBC Champions; Sheshan International GC, Shanghai, CHN; $10,000,000
Oct. 25-28: Sanderson Farms Championship; CC of Jackson, Jackson, MS; $4,300,000

NOVEMBER
Nov. 1-4: Shriners Hospitals for Children Open; TPC Summerlin, Las Vegas, NV; $6,800,000
Nov. 8-11: Mayakoba Golf Classic; El Chameleon GC, Playa del Carmen, Mexico; $7,100,000
Nov. 15-18: The RSM Classic; Sea Island Resort, Sea Island, GA; $6,200,000
Nov. 22-25: ISPS Handa Melbourne World Cup of Golf; The Metropolitan Golf Club, South Oakleigh, Victoria, Australia; $7,000,000
Nov. 29-Dec. 2: Hero World Challenge; Albany, New Providence, Bahamas; $3,500,000

DECEMBER
Dec. 7-9: QBE Shootout; Tiburon, Naples, FL; $3,300,000

JANUARY
Jan. 3-6: Sentry Tournament of Champions; Plantation Course at Kapalua, Maui, HI; $7,000,000
Jan. 10-13: Sony Open in Hawaii; Waialae Country Club, Honolulu, HI; $6,200,000
Jan 17-20: CareerBuilder Challenge; Stadium Course, La Quinta, CA; $5,900,000
Jan. 24-27: Farmers Insurance Open; Torrey Pines Golf Course, San Diego, CA; $6,900,000
Jan. 31-Feb. 3: Waste Management Phoenix Open; TPC Scottsdale, Scottsdale, AZ; $6,900,000

FEBRUARY
Feb 7-10: AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am; Pebble Beach GL, Pebble Beach, CA; $7,400,000
Feb. 14-17: Genesis Open; The Riveria Country Club, Pacific Palisades, CA; $7,200,000
Feb. 21-24: Puerto Rico Open; Coco Beach Golf & CC, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico; $3,000,000
Feb. 21-24: WGC-Mexico Championship; Club de Golf Chapultepec, Mexico City, Mexico; $10,000,000
Feb. 28-March 3: The Honda Classic; PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, FL; $6,600,000

MARCH
Mar. 7-10: Arnold Palmer Invitational; Bay Hill Club and Lodge, Orlando, FL; $8,900,000
Mar. 14-17: The Players Championship; TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Verde Beach, FL; $10,500,000
Mar. 21-24: Valspar Championship; Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club, Palm Harbor, FL; $6,500,000
Mar. 27-31: WGC-Dell Match Play; Austin Country Club, Austin, TX; $10,000,000
Mar. 28-31: Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship; Corales Puntacana Resort & Club, Punta Cana, D.R.; $3,000,000

APRIL
Apr. 4-7: Valero Texas Open; TPC San Antonio, San Antonio, TX; $6,200,000
Apr. 11-14: Masters Tournament; Augusta National GC, Augusta, GA; $11,000,000
Apr. 18-21: RBC Heritage; Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head Island, SC; $6,700,000
Apr. 25-28: Zurich Classic of New Orleans; TPC Louisiana, New Orleans, LA; $7,200,000

MAY
May 2-5: Wells Fargo Championship; Quail Hollow Club, Charlotte, NC; $7,700,000
May 9-12: AT&T Byron Nelson; Trinity Forest Golf Club, Dallas, TX; $7,700,000
May 16-19: PGA Championship; Bethpage State Park BK Corse, Bethpage NY; $11,000,000
May 23-26: Charles Schwabb Challenge; Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth, TX; $7,100,000
May 30-Jun. 2: The Memorial Tournament; Muirfield Village GC, Dublin, OH; $8,900,000

JUNE
Jun. 6-9: RBC Canadian Open; Hamilton Golf & Country Club, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; $6,200,000
Jun. 13-16: U.S. Open; Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, CA; $12,000,000
Jun. 20-23: Travelers Championship; TPC River Highlands, Cromwell, CT; $7,000,000
Jun. 27-30: Rocket Mortgage Classic; Detroit Golf Club, Detroit, MI; New tournament

JULY
July 4-7: 3M Open; TPC Twin Cities, Blaine, MN: $6,600,000
July 11-14: John Deere Classic; TPC Deere Run, Silvis, IL; $5,800,000
July 18-21: The Open Championship; Royal Portrush Golf Club, Portrush, NIR; $10,500,000
July 18-21: Barbasol Championship; Keene Trace Golf Club, Nicholasville, KY; $3,500,000
July 25-28: WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational; TPC Southwind, Memphis, TN; $10,000,000
July 25-28: Reno-Tahoe Tournament; Montreux GC & CC, Reno, NV: $3,300,000

AUGUST
Aug. 1-4: Wyndham Championship; Sedgefield Country Club, Greensboro, NC; $6,000,000
FedEx Cup Playoffs:
Aug. 8-11: The Northern Trust; Liberty National GC, Jersey City, NJ; $9,000,000
Aug. 15-18: BMW Championship; Medinah CC, Medinah, IL; $9,000,000
Aug. 22-25: TOUR Championship; East Lake GC, Atlanta, GA; $9,000,000