Wednesday, July 17

The Wall Street Caddy: The Open at Royal Portrush and the Legacy of Allan Robertson

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By Mark Vigil

Guest contributor Mark Vigil is The Wall Street Caddy.


FOR ONLY THE SECOND TIME, The Open Championship, often referred to as the British Open, will be held outside of Great Britain. This year the tournament will be played in Northern Ireland at Royal Portrush, the host in 1951.

The fact that the tournament is being hosted at a venue outside of Great Britain has flamed the annual debate in the golf world, and the related teeth gnashing and Imperial pride as to the tournament's proper name.

Is it the British Open or The Open Championship? A London sportswriter is so aghast the event is not being hosted in Great Britain that he called it the United Kingdom Open!

Royal Portrush originally opened for play in 1891 and was christened a "Royal" in 1895 by the Prince of Wales. The current routing, the Dunluce Links, bears little resemblance to the original layout. From 1929-1932 Harry Colt re-designed the course, bringing to life a classic links challenge which meanders amongst the dunes and is populated with jaw-dropping views of the Antrim coastline.

Harry Colt was the first true golf course designer who was not a golfer; he was a lawyer by trade. In 1919 Colt worked with George Crump to design Pine Valley Golf Club in America, and in 1928 he partnered with Charles Alison, John Morrison and Alister MacKenzie to form Colt, Alison & Morrison Ltd., working their magic on over 300 golf courses worldwide.

Portrush is a quant seaside village located in County Antrim, and home to the Giant's Causeway, a geological wonder comprised of over 40,000 interlocking basalt columns. Despite Colt's gem at the Dunluce Links, it is the Giant's Causeway that brings visitors to Portrush.

According to Irish mythology, the Giant's Causeway was built by two giants, the Irish hero Fion Mac Fionn and the Scottish giant Benandonner. Apparently, Benandonner challenged Fion to a duel and each giant built part of the Causeway over the northern channel to wage battle. Legend has it that Fion defeated Benandonner, and as Benandonner retreated to Scotland, he smashed the Causeway to prevent Fion from pursuing him. There is an identical matching causeway located in Scotland on the Isle of Staffa at Fingal's Cave formed by the same geological lava flow.

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The first time outside of Great Britain was in 1951 when the R&A hosted the Open at Royal Portrush. Max Faulkner hoisted the Claret Jug that year with a winning score of 285.

An interesting side note is the Claret Jug is not the original trophy. Nope, a Challenge Belt was awarded to the winner who was deemed the champion golfer of the year. Upon the tournament's inception, it was agreed that if anyone won the event three times in a row, they could keep the Challenge Belt.

In 1870 Young Tom Morris accomplished this feat (he won four times in a row!) and a new trophy was needed. The three clubs in the Open rota, Preswick, the R&A, and the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, each contributed £10 to fund the cost of a new trophy, the Claret Jug, which is inscribed "The Golf Champion Trophy." It was made by Mackay Cunningham & Company of Edinburgh, and it was first awarded in 1873.

The Open tournament and the Challenge Belt's genesis are due to the unexpected death of Allan Robertson in 1859 at 43 from an attack of jaundice.

His death left unanswered as to who was the best golfer in the land. As such, in 1860 an "Open" tournament was organized and held at Prestwick, a 12-hole gem designed by Old Tom Morris, to crown Allan Robertson's heir as the Champion Golfer of the Year.

Twelve combatants played three rounds. Willie Park Sr. prevailed with a winning score of 174.

Allan Robertson (1815-1859) was Custodian of the Green at the Links of St. Andrews (only called the Old Course after 1895 when the New Course opened for play). Robertson was the preeminent feathery golf ball maker of his day, and without a doubt he was the best golfer of his era.

Allan Robertson
In 1843 Robertson famously defeated Willie Dunn Sr. in a challenge match played over 20 rounds in 10 days. Oral history tells us Robertson never lost a challenge match. For many years he teamed with Old Tom Morris, defeating all comers in foursomes. They were known as "The Invincibles." This partnership enabled both Robertson and Morris to elevate their financial status from near poverty into the Victorian middle class, another amazing feat! Robertson was also the first golfer to break 80 on the Links at St. Andrews.

Unfortunately, many golfers have never heard of Allan Robertson, nor do they appreciate his contributions to the grand game. Thankfully, the R&A has appropriately honored Allan Robertson by naming its new, state-of-the-art research and design center the Allan Robertson House.

However, it is the Open Championship which represents Allan Robertson's true legacy. So, is it the United Kingdom Open this year, the British Open, or The Open Championship?

Personally, I believe it does not matter. If it was up to me, I would call it the Allan Robertson Classic.

Mark Vigil is founder of Class 5 Advisors LLC, an advisory firm. He is a master caddy, and he is also a passionate links golf enthusiast who has traveled extensively throughout Scotland seeking out links courses. He is currently writing a book entitled, Searching for the Spirit of Old Tom Morris. You can follow Mark on Instagram at #golfbyrails

Tuesday, July 16

The 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush Golf Club: Tee Times, History, Course Preview



THE 148TH OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP tees off on Thursday at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland. The only other time the Open was played at Royal Portrush was 68 years ago when Englishman Max Faulkner prevailed. A field of 156 professionals and amateurs will compete this time. Francesco Molinari is the defending champion.

Watch the video to learn more and preview the championship layout.

Following are tee times for the first two rounds. All times Eastern.

THURSDAY, ROUND 1

1:35 a.m. Darren Clarke, James Sugrue (a), Charley Hoffman

1:46 a.m. Emiliano Grillo, Sung Kang, Thomas Thurloway (a)

1:57 a.m. Andy Sullivan, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Alexander Levy

2:08 a.m. Chan Kim, Zander Lombard, Brandon Wu (a)

2:19 a.m. Richard Sterne, Romain Langasque, Matthias Schmid (a)

2:30 a.m. Padraig Harrington, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Andrew Putnam

2:41 a.m. Bubba Watson, Eddie Pepperell, Rafa Cabrera-Bello

2:52 a.m. Phil Mickelson, Shane Lowry, Branden Grace

3:03 a.m. Alex Noren, Mike Lorenzo-Vera, Sam Locke

3:14 a.m. Webb Simpson, Sergio Garcia, C.T. Pan

3:25 a.m. Ryan Palmer, Andrea Pavan, Dylan Frittelli

3:36 a.m. Kyle Stanley, Robert MacIntyre, Andrew "Beef" Johnston

3:47 a.m. Mikko Korhonen, Oliver Wilson, Curtis Knipes (a)

4:03 a.m. Ian Poulter, Sungjae Im, Kiradech Aphibarnrat

4:14 a.m. Henrik Stenson, Xander Schauffele, Graeme McDowell

4:25 a.m. Haotong Li, Russell Knox, Bernd Weisberger

4:36 a.m. Jason Kokrak, Connor Syme, Austin Connelly

4:47 a.m. Zach Johnson, David Duval, Corey Conners

4:58 a.m. Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau, Adam Scott

5:09 a.m. Rory McIlroy, Gary Woodland, Paul Casey

5:20 a.m. Rickie Fowler, Kevin Kisner, Hideki Matsuyama

5:31 a.m. Jim Furyk, Si-Woo Kim, Jimmy Walker

5:42 a.m. Luke Lista, Alexander Bjork, Paul Waring

5:53 a.m. Shugo Imahira, Nate Lashley, Benjamin Herbert

6:04 a.m. Mikumu Horikawa, Callum Shinkwin, Garrick Porteous

6:15 a.m. Prom Messawat, Matthew Baldwin, Jack Senior

6:36 a.m. Tom Lehman, Joaquin Niemann, Miguel Angel Jimenez

6:47 a.m. Byeong Hun An, Jorge Campillo, Chris Wood

6:58 a.m. Joel Dahmen, Adri Arnaus, Dimitrios Papadatos

7:09 a.m. Stewart Cink, Rory Sabbatini, Innchoon Hwang

7:20 a.m. Erik Van Rooyen, Kurt Kitayama, Jake McLeod

7:31 a.m. Ryan Fox, Shaun Norris, Dongkyu Jang

7:42 a.m. Tyrrell Hatton, Keith Mitchell, Thomas Pieters

7:53 a.m. Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Thorbjorn Olesen

8:04 a.m. Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen, Shubhankar Sharma

8:15 a.m. Billy Horschel, Jazz Janewattananond, Aaron Wise

8:26 a.m. Jordan Spieth, Marc Leishman, Danny Willett

8:37 a.m. Cameron Smith, Adam Hadwin, David Lipsky

8:48 a.m. Paul Lawrie, Chez Reavie, Justin Harding

9:04 a.m. Takumi Kanaya (a), Tom Lewis, Brandon Stone

9:15 a.m. Lucas Glover, Joost Luiten, Nino Bertasio

9:26 a.m. Ernie Els, J.B. Holmes, Abraham Ancer

9:37 a.m. Brandt Snedeker, Lee Westwood, Brian Harman

9:48 a.m. Justin Rose, Tony Finau, Lucas Bjerregaard

9:59 a.m. Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Keegan Bradley

10:10 a.m. Tiger Woods, Matt Wallace, Patrick Reed

10:21 a.m. Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Matt Kuchar

10:32 a.m. Kevin Streelman, Doc Redman, Robert Rock

10:43 a.m. Adrian Otaegui, Yuta Ikeda, Isidro Benitez

10:54 a.m. Patton Kizzire, Sang Hyun Park, Yuki Inamori

11:05 a.m. Yoshinori Fujimoto, Doyeob Mun, Andrew Wilson

11:16 a.m. Gunn Charoenkul, Yosuke Asaji, Ashton Turner

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FRIDAY, ROUND 2

1:35 a.m. Tom Lehman, Joaquin Niemann, Miguel Angel Jimenez

1:46 a.m. Byeong Hun An, Jorge Campillo, Chris Wood

1:57 a.m. Joel Dahmen, Adri Arnaus, Dimitrios Papadatos

2:08 a.m. Stewart Cink, Rory Sabbatini, Innchoon Hwang

2:19 a.m. Erik Van Rooyen, Kurt Kitayama, Jake McLeod

2:30 a.m. Ryan Fox, Shaun Norris, Dongkyu Jang

2:41 a.m. Tyrrell Hatton, Keith Mitchell, Thomas Pieters

2:52 a.m. Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Thorbjorn Olesen

3:03 a.m. Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen, Shubhankar Sharma

3:14 a.m. Billy Horschel, Jazz Janewattananond, Aaron Wise

3:25 a.m. Jordan Spieth, Marc Leishman, Danny Willett

3:36 a.m. Cameron Smith, Adam Hadwin, David Lipsky

3:47 a.m. Paul Lawrie, Chez Reavie, Justin Harding

4:03 a.m. Takumi Kanaya (a), Tom Lewis, Brandon Stone

4:14 a.m. Lucas Glover, Joost Luiten, Nino Bertasio

4:25 a.m. Ernie Els, J.B. Holmes, Abraham Ancer

4:36 a.m Brandt Snedeker, Lee Westwood, Brian Harman

4:47 a.m Justin Rose, Tony Finau, Lucas Bjerregaard

4:58 a.m. Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Keegan Bradley

5:09 a.m. Tiger Woods, Matt Wallace, Patrick Reed

5:20 a.m. Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Matt Kuchar

5:31 a.m. Kevin Streelman, Doc Redman, Robert Rock

5:42 a.m. Adrian Otaegui, Yuta Ikeda, Isidro Benitez

5:53 a.m. Patton Kizzire, Sang Hyun Park, Yuki Inamori

6:04 a.m. Yoshinori Fujimoto, Doyeob Mun, Andrew Wilson

6:15 a.m. Gunn Charoenkul, Yosuke Asaji, Ashton Tur

6:36 a.m. Darren Clarke, James Sugrue (a), Charley Hoffman

6:47 a.m. Emiliano Grillo, Sung Kang, Thomas Thurloway (a)

6:58 a.m. Andy Sullivan, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Alexander Levy

7:09 a.m. Chan Kim, Zander Lombard, Brandon Wu (a)

7:20 a.m. Richard Sterne, Romain Langasque, Matthias Schmid (a)

7:31 a.m. Padraig Harrington, Matthew Fitzpatrick Andrew Putnam

7:42 a.m. Bubba Watson, Eddie Pepperell, Rafa Cabrera-Bello

7:53 a.m. Phil Mickelson, Shane Lowry, Branden Grace

8:04 a.m. Alex Noren, Mike Lorenzo-Vera, Sam Locke

8:15 a.m. Webb Simpson, Sergio Garcia, C.T. Pan

8:26 a.m. Ryan Palmer, Andrea Pavan, Dylan Frittelli

8:37 a.m. Kyle Stanley, Robert MacIntyre, Andrew 'Beef' Johnston

8:48 a.m. Mikko Korhonen, Oliver Wilson, Curtis Knipes (a)

9:04 a.m. Ian Poulter, Sungjae Im, Kiradech Aphibarnrat

9:15 a.m. Henrik Stenson, Xander Schauffele, Graeme McDowell

9:26 a.m. Haotong Li, Russell Knox, Bernd Weisberger

9:37 a.m. Jason Kokrak, Connor Syme, Austin Connelly

9:48 a.m. Zach Johnson, David Duval, Corey Conners

9:59 a.m. Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau, Adam Scott

10:10 a.m. Rory McIlroy, Gary Woodland, Paul Casey

10:21 a.m. Rickie Fowler, Kevin Kisner, Hideki Matsuyama

10:32 a.m. Jim Furyk, Si-Woo Kim, Jimmy Walker

10:43 a.m. Luke Lista, Alexander Bjork, Paul Waring

10:54 a.m. Shugo Imahira, Nate Lashley, Benjamin Herbert

11:05 a.m. Mikumu Horikawa, Callum Shinkwin, Garrick Porteous

11:16 a.m. Prom Messawat, Matthew Baldwin, Jack Senior

Saturday, July 13

Matt Kuchar on Difficult Year: 'An Opportunity to Learn to Be More Generous'

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AS JOEL BEALL WRITES AT GOLFDIGEST.COM, it's been a hard year for Matt Kuchar, despite two wins for the 41-year-old tour veteran and current leader in the FedEx Cup standings.

Kuchar's reputation as a perpetually smiling good guy took a nosedive beginning in January when "Kooch" paid local caddie David Ortiz a pittance after his victory at the Mayakoba Golf Classic. The situation festered until Kuchar eventually wrote a much larger check to Ortiz and issued a public apology.

There were a couple more incidents during this season that challenged the perception of Kuchar as "Mr. Nice Guy."

Kuchar, who isn't on social media, knew things were in a new phase of bad when he started hearing from his grandmother. "Just the fact that she had called me to say, 'I can’t believe what they're saying' was hard," he said, as quoted by Beall.

Beall also quoted Kuchar on the takeaway:

"You know, whether it's home with the family, with the kids, with the wife, with the fans, with you name it, there's just so many opportunities to be more generous," Kuchar said, "and that's one of the things you learn. Sometimes the setbacks are hard, but those are the lessons that you tend to learn from and come out better from.

"You don't learn from victories very often; you learn from your setbacks. And I look at all this as an opportunity to learn to be more generous across the board."

Thursday, July 11

Review: 'Loopers: The Caddie's Long Walk'

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By John Coyne

Bestselling author John Coyne became a caddie at Midlothian Country Club when he was 10 and oversaw the caddie yard as a teenager. Learn about his golf novels at JohnCoyneBooks.com.

CADDIES HAVE FEATURED IN A surprising number of movies, including funny ones (Caddyshack), pretentious ones (The Legend of Bagger Vance), and even sexy ones (Tin Cup, although arguably the golfer in that one, Kevin Costner, is way sexier than the caddy, Cheech Marin).

But there has never been such a serious film about the second most important role in golf as a new documentary, Loopers: The Caddie's Long Walk.

Narrated by Bill Murray, who caddied as a teenager on the west side of Chicago, the film tells the story of golf from the caddie's point of view, beginning with the first royal golfer, Mary Queen of Scots, who is often credited with coining the term caddie.

The role of caddies has changed dramatically over the centuries as reflected in their growing importance. Loopers' director, Jason Baffa, and writer, Carl Cramer, trace this development against the backdrop of the world's legendary courses, including St. Andrews in Scotland, Ballybunion in Ireland, Canterbury in Ohio, Pebble Beach in California and, of course, Augusta National in Georgia.

So the scenery is great, but the focus is on tales of the generations of men, boys and girls who've caddied for a living, starting with Old Tom Morris at St. Andrews and ending with Michael Greller, Jordan Spieth's tour caddie.

Their funny, sometimes heartbreaking stories explain how a gig that once brought in just enough cash to buy another drink became a seven-figure career.

Case in point: Greller. In 2012, as a young, married middle-school math teacher, he took a risky leap and started looping for Spieth. Since then he has earned an estimated $5 million, between his cut of Spieth's winnings and his own lucrative endorsement deals.

Caddies, of course, serve at the pleasure of their players, and the film corrals a number of major ones.

Tom Watson speaks movingly about his longtime caddie, the late Bruce Edwards (what the two-time Masters champion doesn't say: that when Edwards became seriously ill, Watson paid all his medical expenses). Nick Faldo tells the story of how he sought out and hired Fanny Sunesson, the first woman caddie on the PGA Tour.

The film also tips a hat to Chick Evans. While never a caddie, Evans did change the lives of many caddies, young men and women, by creating the Evans Scholars Foundation in 1930. Now supported by private country clubs across the nation, the Foundation has sent more than 10,000 caddies to college.

The caddie creed was always, "Show up. Keep up. Shut up." While that is still good advice, this film illuminates how much the club carrier's role has changed as the social gulf between caddies and players has narrowed since the first days of the feathery balls. It also shows that caddies still have a lot of good advice to give their players, and a lot to say after the round about the game of golf and the players who play.

Country clubs and golf organizations can rent the film for private showings as it makes its theatrical conclusion at: www.loopersmovie.com/request-a-screening

The film can also be preordered on iTunes now at: apple.co/2z5i7aV

DVDs are due for delivery in late summer.

Tuesday, July 9

'Never Three-Putt Again!' and Other Golf Marketing Hype

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MAYBE THEY THINK WE ARE FOOLS. Maybe we should be insulted.

I'm referring to the golf equipment and instruction industry and its relentless marketing machine. We're fools if we believe the constant hype, such as more distance, more forgiveness, more whatever.

Perhaps the silliest one  and dare I say an insult to any golfer's intelligence  "Never three-putt again!"

Really?

I can name nearly 50 players on the PGA Tour who have three-putted this year. WITHIN FIVE FEET OF THE HOLE. See for yourself.

Several on the list have three-putted two dozen times or more during the current season.

So go ahead. Buy that putter, that gadget, that lesson. But please don't buy that ridiculous promise. Don't be a fool.

Thursday, July 4

Kids Play Golf Free in Myrtle Beach

By Kingfish Communications

THE MYRTLE BEACH GOLF COMMUNITY is offering families a reason to pack golf clubs along with sunscreen and surfboards when they head to the beach. More than 50 Grand Strand courses, including some of the area’s most prominent, are again allowing kids to play for free when accompanied by a paying adult.

While the Kids Play Free program is in effect throughout the year, area courses see a surge in junior golfers during the summer months when families flock the beach. While the sand and surf continue to the be the primary attraction, parents enjoy the opportunity to play a morning round with their kids, leaving plenty of time to hit the beach in the afternoon.

"Kids Play Free is a 12-month program that allows families to spend vacation time on the golf course, creating memories that last a lifetime," said Bill Golden, CEO of Golf Tourism Solutions. "The Kids Play Free program is one of our most rewarding initiatives because it enhances the vacation experience, and it introduces golf’s next generation of players to Myrtle Beach."

Among the courses participating in the Kids Play Free program are the four layouts at Barefoot Resort, Tidewater Golf Club, King’s North at Myrtle Beach National and Heritage Club, all among the area's most acclaimed layouts. Numerous Myrtle Beach area courses have junior tees, allowing new players to enjoy an introduction to the game without being overwhelmed by the challenge.

A complete list of participating courses is available online.

Wednesday, July 3

GOLF Films to Air 'Tom at Turnberry' on July 8



By GOLF Channel Public Relations


On Monday (July 8) at 9 p.m. ET, GOLF Channel will debut its next GOLF Films project, Tom at Turnberry, commemorating the 10-year anniversary of Tom Watson’s inconceivable run (at age 59) at winning The 2009 Open. In one of the most improbable sports moments in recent memory, the film – featuring commentary from Watson along with other key individuals from the week – will detail the circumstances that led to a magical week that no one could have anticipated.

The film also weaves in flashbacks to Watson's moments of triumph from his wins at The Open during the peak of his career, earning the "Champion Golfer of the Year" distinction a remarkable five times in the span of nine years (1975-'83). It also touches on Watson’s relationship with links golf, which he initially loathed early in his career for its penal nature, and later learned to embrace and ultimately thrive in. Tom at Turnberry is produced for GOLF Films by 13-time Emmy Award winner Israel DeHerrera and Emmy-Award winning producer Erik Rozentals.

"We live in a day where we feel like we have to compare everything. There's nothing that compares to this. It stands on its own merits." – Mike Tirico

THE ULTIMATE LONGSHOT: Despite having won The Open on five previous occasions, Watson was unmistakably a longshot to be in contention – let alone win – in 2009, as the oldest man in the field who was less than a year removed from having his hip replaced. Yet despite the odds stacked against him, Watson (26 years removed from his last victory at The Open) casually alluded to the notion of wrapping his arms around the Claret Jug for the sixth time during his pre-tournament press conference saying, "Now that'd be a story, wouldn't it?"

While it isn't plausible that anyone would have predicted Watson's fate, in many respects, the stars for the World Golf Hall of Fame member were aligned. His vast experience competing on links golf venues offered an advantage on a field that included only 21 players that competed in the most recent Open at Turnberry in 1994. Watson also was returning to the site of the most-celebrated of his five Open titles, where he masterfully outlasted Jack Nicklaus in The 1977 Open in what is famously known as the "Duel in the Sun." Above all, early in the week Watson implemented a slight change to his shoulder positioning with his putter that helped him hit putts more solidly. It led to Watson mentioning to his wife on the eve of the opening round that "he could win this tournament."

"If Arnold [Palmer] put The Open back on the map, Tom [Watson] really was the person who took it into the living rooms of America."
– Ron Sirak, Golf Writer

TURNING BACK THE CLOCK: Thursday's opening round saw Watson take advantage of calm conditions that were ideal for scoring, with an opening round 65 (5-under) that put him in a tie for second place. Beginning Friday's second round at 5-over par through 7 holes, it looked as though Watson might fall out of contention, but he rallied to finish even-par for the round, and was tied for the lead going into Saturday.

Watson's third round (1-over par, 71), put him in position to enter Sunday's final round as the solo leader at 4-under for the week, as Saturday saw only five players with an under-par round. In the film, Neil Oxman (Watson's caddie for the week) speaks to Watson's self-contained nature helping him to stay in contention, essentially blocking the outside noise and the magnitude of what he was attempting to accomplish by ignoring the totality of the situation.

"THIS AIN’T A FUNERAL YOU KNOW": Watson’s two bogeys through 3 holes on Sunday helped contribute to five different men holding at least a share of the lead at one point during the final round. However, when Watson birdied the 17th hole, he walked to the tee on the 72nd hole with a one-shot lead, needing only a par to shatter the record as the oldest major champion ever.

Following an ideal drive in the fairway, Watson's 8-iron rolled over the green and when he failed to get up-and-down, his bogey led to a four-hole playoff that Stewart Cink went on to win. In trying to make light of the situation during a post-round press center visit, Watson declared, "This ain't a funeral you know," in acknowledging the disappointment of coming up just short of the historic victory. "It would have been a hell of a story, wouldn't it?"

Golf Swing Wednesday: Tour Rookie Viktor Hovland and an Odd Double-Pump Swing


I CAN'T RECALL SEEING THIS ACTION, the double-pump swing, at least not done intentionally.

This, of course, is Viktor Hovland, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion who turned pro after a T12 at the U.S. Open. From Norway, Hovland played collegiate golf at Oklahoma State University.

Tuesday, July 2

U.S. Senior Open Notebook: Ageless Tom Watson Sets Enviable Record

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AS YOU PROBABLY KNOW, Steve Stricker won the U.S. Senior Open in record-setting fashion this past weekend in South Bend, Indiana. Good for Steve.

But I wanted to mention Tom Watson.

I continue to marvel at Watson's play as he nears 70. It was a decade ago Watson nearly won the British Open at age 59.

From the USGA's championship notes:
Tom Watson, the 1982 U.S. Open champion who made it a record 17-for-17 in cuts made in the U.S. Senior Open this week, matched or bettered his age (69) for the third time in four rounds. Watson carded a 2-under 68 for a 72-hole total of 278. 
"At this point in my career, I don't know when I'm going to stop playing," said Watson about if he'll play in the 2020 U.S. Senior Open. "But there will be a time when I stop playing, and I can't determine that right now." 
Watson is a poster boy for longevity in major championship golf.

Thursday, June 27

Golf Swing Thursday: Tony Jacklin Drives Across the Thames River in 1969


TONY JACKLIN TOLD ME HIS GOLF SWING came together in 1969, the year he won the British Open and also won five points in the Ryder Cup that ended in a historic tie, 16 all. A year later Jacklin won the U.S. Open at Hazeltine.

Jacklin played practice rounds with Tom Weiskopf, Bert Yancey and other Americans, and mastered his leg action, a departure from the wristy golf swings of many Brits at that time.

About the above...

"That was a publicity stunt," Jacklin said. "... There was a ship in the Thames with a ... light measuring the distances. They made a performance of bringing the golf balls on the silver tray. ... When you swing and looking at traffic down (there), you get this feeling you're going to go with (the ball). So I was on my back foot the whole time."

Wednesday, June 26

Life on the PGA Tour Range: 'This Is Our Office. We're Trying to Get Work Done Out Here'

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AT GOLFDIGEST.COM, BRIAN WACKER WRITES about "The Unwritten Rules of the PGA Tour Driving Range."

If you've attended a tour event or major championship, chances are you've spent time at the range watching the players warm up and work on their long games. Like me, you may have sensed there's a lot more going on than pounding balls.

Wacker reports on the nuances of range life:
Beyond the business of improving their games, there are business transactions being conducted, too, with the range serving as Main Street within the larger neighborhood of tournament golf. Over here is an equipment rep peddling some new magic elixir, over there a swing coach eyeing a potential client. Elsewhere, the media lurking for a hot story. 
"This is our office," says Brandt Snedeker. "We're trying to get work done out here." 
How each guy goes about doing so can be revealing as well, for there are few formal policies for this office. The rules are unwritten ones, tenets everyone who steps foot on the range understands or quickly absorbs so that the office can run efficiently.
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Tuesday, June 25

VIDEO: Rick Woeckener Wins U.S. Hickory Open at Belvedere Golf Club


GOLFER TEND TO FEEL A DEEP CONNECTION to the sport’s storied history. The passion for golf's roots runs particularly deep among the growing number of throwbacks who, for fun and to feel linked to the past, play hickory-shafted golf clubs from the early 20th century.

Just ask Rick Woeckener, who won his second U.S. Hickory Open Championship held at the historic Belvedere Golf Club in Charlevoix, Michigan, located along the shores of Lake Michigan in beautiful Northern Michigan.

"This is a great honor. There's a lot of good players in this field, and I'm just happy that I played well enough to win," said Woeckener. "Belvedere is the best course I have played for the U.S. Hickory Open and the greens are as good as any course I have played in Scotland." 

Woeckener shot rounds of 75-78 for a 36-hole total of 153 in the gross division edging out Peter Lory and Taylor Jones. Rounding out the other division winners were William Ernst in the Senior Division, Michael Shiff in the Super Senior Division and Kate Tomkinson in the Ladies Division.

Woeckener, who is from Ohio, was introduced to hickory clubs by his father when he was young. Now after 13 years, he finds himself winning and walking the same course as legends like Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen and Tom Watson.

"It's a similar feeling when you find these historic clubs and play with them. You wonder who might have had this club or hit this club. Walking in the footsteps of these great players on this historic course and winning with these clubs is really special," said Woeckener.

The U.S. Hickory Open annually attracts an international field of golfers who play with antique pre-1935 hickory shafted golf clubs or authentic replica hickory clubs. Belvedere is the only club in the United States to have as many as 44 antique hickory club players. Competitors dressed in period appropriate apparel, including knickers, ties and jackets.



The Society of Hickory Golfers celebrates and promotes the hickory game of the 1910s to 1930s. Conservative estimates of the total number of hickory players in the world now total about 3,000 and growing.

Saturday, June 22

VIDEO: Hannah Green Leads KPMG Women's PGA Championship; TV Schedule



AUSTRALIAN HANNAH GREEN LEADS by three shots after two rounds of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota.

Green is 7 under for the tournament after a 69 on Friday. Ariya Jutanugarn is second at 4 under.

TV SCHEDULE

All times Eastern.

Saturday, 6/22
NBC 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, 6/23
NBC 3-6 p.m.

Thursday, June 20

Phil Mickelson: 'I Probably Have to Come to the Realization That I'm Not Going to Win a U.S. Open'

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PHIL MICKELSON HAS PLAYED IN 26 U.S. Opens. He has finished runner-up six times. That's a record.

On Wednesday at the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Connecticut, the 49-year-old eternal optimist gave a nod to reality. Here's the quote from Golfworld:

"I really don't have many more chances," Mickelson said at the Travelers Championship, where he is playing for the first time in 16 years. "I probably have to come to the realization that I'm not going to win a U.S. Open."

Phil's 2019 victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am fueled hope for his U.S. Open chances. But U.S. Open Pebble is not AT&T Pebble. Despite the ever-present hype, Phil and Tiger Woods were not factors at the U.S. Open.

Still, don't throw dirt on Lefty.

"When I do play well, I'm able to play at a comparable level to what I played like at the height of my career and I'm able to pick off wins,” Mickleson also said. "I'm just not having as many opportunities....

"But I'm not going to stop trying. You never know."

(H/T Geoff Shackelford)

Tuesday, June 18

Travelers Championship Preview: Interview With 2014 Winner Kevin Streelman

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Jared Kotler hosts a Connecticut sports podcast (@ctscoreboardpod). In advance of this week's Travelers Championship, Jared talked to 2014 champion Kevin Streelman.

This episode features Kevin Streelman, winner of the 2014 Travelers Championship and former Duke University golfer.

Topics include what life is like on the PGA Tour, Kevin's favorite guys to play with, the return of Tiger Woods and what it was like to set a PGA Tour record en route to his 2014 Travelers Championship win.

Listen to Kevin Streelman.

Monday, June 17

2019 U.S. Open Champion Gary Woodland: 'We're Out Here to Win'

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By USGA Communications

GARY WOODLAND NO LONGER HAS TO ANSWER questions about an inability to close or win a major championship.

Entering Sunday's final round of the 119th U.S. Open Championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links, the 35-year-old from Topeka, Kan., was 0-for-7 when holding a 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour, and he had never finished better than a tie for 23rd in eight previous U.S. Opens.

That's now all in the past.

Woodland holed a 30-foot birdie putt on Pebble Beach's iconic par-5 closing hole to punctuate a three-stroke victory over two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka, who was trying to become just the second player to win three consecutive U.S. Opens.

By carding a 2-under-par 69, Woodland became the fourth player to claim the U.S. Open title with four sub-70 rounds. He's also the second Open winner at Pebble Beach to post a double-digit under-par score (13-under 271), joining Tiger Woods (12-under 272) who won the 2000 championship by a record 15 strokes.

"I just kept telling myself that records are meant to be broken," said Woodland. "I'm [actually] more nervous right now than I was playing today.

"I didn't let myself get ahead at all today. Didn't ever let myself think the tournament was over."

Four players – 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose, Chez Reavie, Jon Rahm and Xander Schauffele – shared third at 7-under 277. Rose started the day one stroke behind Woodland, only to fade over the final 11 holes in carding a 74. Major champions Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen tied for seventh (278).

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"He deserves it. He's worked hard and I'm happy for him." 
–Brooks Koepka

"I played great," said Koepka, who was hoping to join Willie Anderson (1903-05) as the only players to win three consecutive Opens. "Nothing I could do. Gary played a great four days. That's what you've got to do if you want to win a U.S. Open, win a major championship and hats off to him. Cool way to go out on 18, to make that bomb. He deserves it, he's worked hard and I'm happy for him."

In the pantheon of heroic U.S. Open shots at Pebble Beach, there is Tom Kite holing out for a 2 on the par-3 seventh in 1992. There's Jack Nicklaus' 1-iron that hit the flagstick and stopped inches away in 1972, and Tom Watson's miraculous hole-out from greenside rough on the same hole 10 years later.

You can add Woodland's 265-yard, 3-wood second shot to the par-5 14th hole to that list. On a hole where most players were laying up, and just one eagle was recorded in the final round, Woodland decided it was time to be aggressive. At the time, he held a precarious one-stroke lead on Koepka and Rose was still in the chase.

The ball barely cleared the front greenside bunker and stopped in the rough just left of the green. His deftly executed pitch stopped 3½ feet from the flagstick, and he converted the birdie putt to extend his lead to two. Koepka never got closer the rest of the way.

"We sat there and thought about it for a while and said let's go, we're out here to win," said Woodland of his decision to go for the green.

"Played aggressive, and it paid off."

There were other momentous shots down the stretch as well. On the par-3 17th hole, his tee shot wound up on the far-right side of the hourglass-shaped putting surface. Forced to pitch the ball to the back-left hole location, Woodland executed a perfect shot from 93 feet to 2½ feet to save par.  

When Koepka missed a 9½-foot birdie putt on 18 that would have gotten him within one of the lead, Woodland could play the closing hole conservatively. With three putts to win the title, Woodland accomplished the feat with a birdie flourish. It was a fitting end to a glorious week for the Kansan, who was 169th in scrambling on the PGA Tour this season, but first this week.

All of his work with instructor Pete Cowen and putting coach Phil Kenyon came to fruition.

Many of his fellow PGA Tour professionals congratulated Woodland as he walked off No. 18 to the scoring trailer, including Koepka. His parents, Dan and Linda Woodland, were also in attendance, but wife Gabby and son, Jaxson, were back at their Florida residence. She is due with twin girls in August.

What a Father's Day it turned out to be. 

Friday, June 14

The Wall Street Caddy: Pebble Beach Is Not a True Links Course

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By Mark Vigil

Guest contributor Mark Vigil is The Wall Street Caddy.

THE MUCH ANTICIPATED 119TH U.S. OPEN is underway. The golf world is filled with anticipation: Tiger Woods continues his pursuit of another major victory; Phil Mickelson will try to complete his grand slam; Brooks Koepka will try to be the second golfer to win three consecutive U.S. Open titles. (More than a hundred years ago, Willie Anderson was the first.)

The host venue is the fabled Pebble Beach Golf Links. Pebble Beach is rated the top public golf course in America; however, I would argue this honor goes to Bethpage Black. But that is a subject for another day.

Pebble Beach Golf Links has lived in the imagination of golfers and non-golfers since Bing Crosby's clambake was first televised in the early 1960s. It was forever branded into golfers' brains as they watched telecasts of U.S. Opens in 1972, 1982, 1992, 2000 and 2010. And for those golfers who have played a round at Pebble Beach, the experience is unique.

The layout tucks itself comfortably into the Carmel Bay, like one's head on a soft cool pillow on a sultry summer night. It was designed by Jack Neville and Douglas Grant, two amateur golfers.  (Neville won the inaugural California State Amateur and Grant would move to England where he assumed captain duties at Royal St. George.) 

Jack Nicklaus famously remarked that if he had one round to play, "I'd play Pebble Beach." Nicklaus would also argue that the approach shot to the 8th green over the chasm is the best second shot in all of golf. It is hard to argue with Jack on his latter comment.

Pebble Beach's beauty resides on the eight seaside holes which begin with the approach shot to the 3rd green and last until the tee shot away from the sea at the 11th hole. The walk along these holes makes one wonder if these holes would have been espied by Adam in the Garden of Eden.

The glory of Carmel Bay remains in the golfer's vision as he plays the inward nine holes on top of the plateau overlooking Carmel Bay. Mother Nature's full beauty re-emerges for the golfer as he departs the 16th green and walks west to the famed 17th tee box.

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In 1972, it was on the 17th tee box where Jack Nicklaus knifed a 1-iron to kick in range to secure his second U.S. Open victory. A decade later Tom Watson would chip in on the famed hour-glass green to defeat Jack Nicklaus by 2 strokes, winning his only U.S. Open.

The 18th hole was originally a 379 yard par 4. In 1921 William Fowler redesigned the 18th hole, transforming it into the best finishing hole in golf. The 18th tee box juts out into Carmel Bay and on most days the waves crash up onto the teeing area spraying golfers with the bay's holy water. 

Frankly, the tee shot is a tribute to the famed first tee shot at Mcahhanarish Golf Club designed by Old Tom Morris and considered to be the best opening hole in golf.

To be sure, Pebble Beach Golf Links deserves its iconic status and it truly represents one of golf's "hallowed grounds."  However, I must inform everyone that Pebble Beach is not a true links golf course. In fact, the only true links golf in the western United States is located on the Oregon coast at Bandon Dunes.

Nope, the only similarities between Pebble Beach and a true links golf course are the unpredictable weather and the natural beauty.

The word "links" is from the old English word "hlic," which means rising ridge or an area of coastal sand dunes. Links topography rests on a raised beach or on a marine platform which rises no more than 50 feet above the sea. Links topography resembles lunar landscapes due to centuries of howling winds racing across these plateaus creating dune ridges and land valleys, and protective nooks and crannies, known today as bunkers, which in earlier times provided the sheep herder and his flock a small hovel of protection from the raging storms.

The sandy soil on these raised beaches allows for superb drainage and it is ideally suited for vegetation of long wispy natural grasses like fescue and heather, beloved by sheep; and of prickly gorse bushes, which bloom spectacularly in spring and which provide a safe haven for birds and other small animals from various predators.

The turf is a good source of food for sheep, small rodents and scurrying leporidaes, and totally useless for any other agricultural purpose.

Thankfully, the bored ancient sheep herders tried to get a round object into an old rabbit hole using crooked sticks.

I encourage all golfers to closely watch the U.S. Open on a good HDTV so the true glory of Pebble Beach can be enjoyed. Just remember, it is a seaside course and not a true links course.

Mark Vigil is founder of Class 5 Advisors LLC, an advisory firm. He is a master caddy, and he is also a passionate links golf enthusiast who has traveled extensively throughout Scotland seeking out links courses. He is currently writing a book entitled, Searching for the Spirit of Old Tom Morris. You can follow Mark on Instagram at #golfbyrails

Wednesday, June 12

2019 U.S. Open TV Schedule and Live Streaming Coverage

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THE U.S. OPEN WILL HAVE more than 46 hours of network coverage on FOX and FS1.
                                     
Date             Network                                   Broadcast Hours (Local/EDT)
June 12        FS1                                           Wednesday, 12:30-3 p.m.
June 13        FS1                                           First Round, 12:30-7:30 p.m.
                     FOX                                          First Round, 7:30-10:30 p.m.
June 14        FS1                                           Second Round, 12:30-7:30 p.m.
                     FOX                                          Second Round, 7:30-10:30 p.m.
June 15        FOX                                          Third Round, Noon-10 p.m.
June 16        FOX                                          Fourth Round, 2-10 p.m.

LIVE STREAMING COVERAGE
There will be 117 hours of live streaming coverage on usopen.com and U.S. Open app channels.

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Tuesday, June 11

If You Go: Visit the Lexus Performance Experience at the 2019 U.S. Open

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THE U.S. OPEN IS BACK at Pebble Beach Golf Links. So is Lexus, the longtime partner and official vehicle of the United States Golf Association (USGA).

This week at Pebble Beach, Lexus is providing golf fans a range of activities at the Lexus Performance Experience tent. They include:
  • Autograph sessions with Lexus golfers Jason Day, Peter Jacobsen and Johnny Miller
  • A chance to win a two-year lease on a 2019 Lexus UX with a simulated hole-in-one challenge
  • The Lexus Epic Putt opportunity to win a golf clinic with Lexus Golf Ambassadors
"From thrilling racing simulators to rewarding hole-in-one challenges, we connect with golfers of all ages in memorable and unique ways throughout the tournament," said Lisa Materazzo, vice president of Lexus marketing.

The Lexus Performance Experience is located near the main entrance in Fan Central. Following are more details about the various activities.

With the Lexus Racing RC F GT3 Driving Simulator, fans have the chance to step into the driver's seat of an RC F GT3 racecar for an exhilarating experience.

Attendees are also invited to hone their golfing skills with the Lexus Hole-in-One Challenge. The fan that sinks the ball in this simulated replica of the famous par-three 7th hole from the Pebble Beach Golf Links will win a two-year lease on a 2019 Lexus UX, the automaker’s first-ever luxury compact crossover.

Additional activities include the "Putt Like a Pro" simulation, photo opportunities with the U.S. Open Trophy and autograph sessions with Lexus Golf Ambassadors*Jason Day, Patrick Cantlay and Charles Howell III, among others.

For the first time, fans are also invited to take part in the Epic Putt presented by Lexus. Located at the bottom of the hill in Fan Central, the Epic Putt gives fans the opportunity to attempt three putts on a Pebble Beach putting green. Fans who make the third and final "epic putt" will win a prize and exclusive access to a golf clinic with Lexus Golf Ambassadors.

Lexus will also offer 100 VIP parking spaces for owners driving their Lexus vehicles to the U.S. Open on a first-come, first-served basis. Additionally, Lexus Hotel Partner Pebble Beach Resorts is offering a complimentary shuttle in Lexus vehicles to all hotel guests during the championship weekend.

Over the course of the championship, Lexus will provide more than 300 courtesy vehicles to players and officials. Several Lexus vehicles will be displayed throughout the grounds, including the 2020 RX F SPORT prototype, ES 300h, LS 500 F SPORT and NX 300 F SPORT. The LC 500 Inspiration Series and the RC F Track Edition can be viewed in the Lexus Performance Experience tent. Also located within the Epic Putt experience, fans will find a modified Lexus UX with a golf theme.

*Current Lexus Golf Ambassadors include: Jason Day, Patrick Cantlay, Charles Howell III, Wesley Bryan, Jamie Sadlowski, Lydia Ko, Annika Sörenstam, Natalie Gulbis, Johnny Miller, Peter Jacobsen, Mark O'Meara and Mark Pfeil.

Monday, June 10

2019 U.S Open and Pebble Beach Fact Sheet




This is the 119th U.S. Open Championship.

PAR AND YARDAGE              
Pebble Beach Golf Links will be set up at 7,075 yards and will play to a par of 35-36—71. The yardage for each round of the championship will vary due to course setup and conditions.

Pebble Beach Golf Links Hole By Hole
Hole123456789Total
Par44443534435
Yardage3805164043311955231094285263,412
Hole101112131415161718Total
Par44345443536
Yardage4953902024455803974032085433,663

ARCHITECTS
Jack Neville and Douglas S. Grant designed Pebble Beach Golf Links, which opened in 1919.

CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD
The starting field of 156 golfers will be cut after 36 holes to the low 60 scorers (and ties) 

SCHEDULE OF PLAY            
Eighteen holes of stroke play are scheduled each day from June 13 (Thursday) through June 16 (Sunday). In the event of a tie after 72 holes, a two-hole aggregate playoff will take place following the completion of Sunday's final round.

TITLE DEFENSE
Brooks Koepka is attempting to become the second player to win three consecutive U.S. Open Championships after his victories at Erin Hills in 2017 and Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in 2018. Willie Anderson, a Scottish professional, won his third in a row at Myopia Hunt Club in South Hamilton, Mass., in 1905, a two-stroke triumph over Alex Smith. Anderson and Koepka are among seven players to win in consecutive years. The group includes John J. McDermott (1911, 1912), a-Robert T. Jones Jr. (1929, 1930), Ralph Guldahl (1937, 1938), Ben Hogan (1950, 1951) and Curtis Strange (1988, 1989).

WHAT THE WINNER RECEIVES
Among the benefits enjoyed by the U.S. Open winner are:
  • A U.S. Open exemption for the next 10 years
  • An invitation to the next five Masters Tournaments
  • An invitation to the next five Open Championships, conducted by The R&A
  • An invitation to the next five PGA Championships
  • An invitation to the next five Players Championships
  • Exempt status on the PGA Tour for five years

QUALIFYING FOR THE OTHER MAJORS        
The top 10 finishers (and ties) are exempt into the following year's U.S. Open. The top four finishers (and ties) are invited to next year's Masters Tournament.

PURSE
The 2018 purse was $12 million; the winner earned $2.16 million. The 2019 purse will total $12.5 million, highest among golf’s major championships.

PEBBLE BEACH GOLF LINKS NOTES
  • Pebble Beach Golf Links has hosted the U.S. Open Championship in five consecutive decades
  • The 119th U.S. Open is the 13th USGA championship to be conducted at the resort
  • The 2019 U.S. Open will be the 13th played in California and sixth at Pebble Beach Golf Links
  • Pebble Beach Golf Links will also host the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open and the 2027 U.S. Open
  • The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, a PGA Tour event, has been held at the resort since 1947
  • Pebble Beach Golf Links has served as host of a PGA Tour Champions event since 2004
  • Pebble Beach Golf Links is celebrating its centennial in 2019

PEBBLE BEACH HISTORY
Pebble Beach Golf Links is part of the famous 17-Mile Drive, which was originally designed as a local excursion route for visitors to the Del Monte to take in the historic sights of Monterey and Pacific Grove and the scenery of what would become Pebble Beach. The course was designed by Jack Neville and Douglas Grant and opened on Feb. 22, 1919. Neville's objective was to place as many of the holes as possible along the Monterey coastline and he accomplished this by using a "figure 8" layout. The first professional tournament held at Pebble Beach was the 1926 Monterey Peninsula Open. In 1929, the course hosted the U.S. Amateur Championship for the first time. In 1947, Pebble Beach became one of the host courses for the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am, which is currently known as the PGA Tour's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Pebble Beach has hosted 12 USGA championships, including five U.S. Opens and five U.S. Amateurs, and was the site of the 1977 PGA Championship. The course has also hosted the PGA Tour Champions' PURE Insurance Championship since 2004.