Thursday, September 26

Golfworld: 'C.T. Pan's Hard Road From Taiwan to the PGA Tour'



LEARN THE INSPIRING GOLF STORY of C.T. Pan, the two-time first-team All-American from University of Washington who won the 2019 RBC Heritage, his first victory on the PGA Tour.

Carrying Pan's byline, the story is written as a first-person account. It begins in Taiwan:
We didn't have much when I was a kid. I was the youngest of six, and we had cousins living with us, too. There was so little room that I shared a bed with my parents and other siblings until I was a teenager. The only way I could play golf was by sneaking on our local course. I'd wake up before 4 a.m. and get in nine before the clubhouse opened, and another nine after it closed. I didn't know until later that the golf shop knew—they always know, right?—but looked the other way. Especially when they found out I was good.
Pan is 27 and has been on tour for three seasons. In 25 starts during the 2018-19 season, he captured that first win and two top-ten finishes.

Read more.

Monday, September 23

USGA Opens Nominations for 2020 Bob Jones Award

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By USGA Communications

LIBERTY CORNER, N.J.  The USGA is seeking nominations from the global golf community for the 2020 Bob Jones Award, the highest honor annually bestowed by the organization.

Presented since 1955, the Bob Jones Award highlights the most noteworthy demonstrations of sportsmanship in golf, and celebrates those individuals who, in the spirit of its namesake, have displayed character, integrity and respect while playing the game. Beyond his playing career – with a record-tying nine USGA championship titles – Jones embodied the game's values throughout his life.

Nomination letters can be sent to the USGA via email to bobjonesaward@usga.org. The correspondence should include support for the submission that references the above award criteria. The deadline for receipt is Friday, Oct. 25, 2019 at 5 p.m. EDT.

The USGA is opening nominations to the entire golf community for the first time in an effort to elevate deserving candidates who might otherwise have gone unrecognized and to draw greater awareness of the process.

Notable past recipients of the Bob Jones Award include Francis Ouimet, Babe Zaharias, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Peggy Kirk Bell, Nancy Lopez, Nick Price, Payne Stewart, Annika Sorenstam and Lee Elder. A complete list can be found here.

The 2020 recipient will be announced in January and will be formally honored during the week of the 120th U.S. Open Championship, June 15-21, at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y.

Sunday, September 22

50th Anniversary of 'The Concession': Peter Busby's Memories of the 1969 Ryder Cup



Peter Busby contacted me earlier this year about Draw in the Dunes, my 2014 book on the 1969 Ryder Cup and the famous concession that linked Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin. Peter graciously shared his memories of that event, published below.

By Peter Busby

Peter Busby is the Captain of Royal Birkdale Golf Club.

IN 1969 I WAS A 'RUNNY NOSED' 21 year old articled clerk training to be a Chartered Accountant with KPMG in my home town of Birmingham.

I recall in the summer of '69 that the British publics' interest in the Ryder Cup was most certainly buoyed by Tony Jacklin's win at Lytham St Annes in The Open after many years of not having a British winner. I had recently taken up the game and can remember the tv coverage and commentary on BBC TV that afternoon delivered by the great Henry Longhurst.

The last British PGA event prior to the Ryder Cup in '69, The Dunlop Masters, was held at Little Aston Golf Club in my City of Birmingham. The professional at my golf club Harborne, a few miles across the city, was Peter J Butler, so my father and I attended. Professional golfers in those days were affiliated to golf clubs and were not independent as they are today, for their main job was 'keeping the shop' and if they were good enough playing the limited tournament circuit as it was then.

My what a host of professionals I saw in action. There was the great Peter Thompson, who won his first and last of five Open wins at Royal Birkdale, among others.

Interestingly returning to Little Aston I think that only one member of the USA Team played being Billy Casper. I recall standing with my father on the practice area at Little Aston watching Casper practice, his accuracy with his irons was so good most of the time his caddie, who has been dispatched half way down the practice area, was collecting his shots with the minimum of movement left or right into a large ball bag 'on the bounce'! Then at the end of the practice session Casper pulled out his driver, unfortunately the practice area was not long enough so Casper's strikes were to disappear deep into the woods, but with a heavy American accent and to the delight of the crowd that had gathered, he yelled 'watch out squirrels these ain't no nuts'.

I also remember as an aside that at the end of the tournament an American trick-shot golfer by the name of Paul Hahn put on his show. Halfway through he noticed that Tony Jacklin was in the crowd watching and he invited Jacklin to come over and hit a golf ball from the top of a three foot high tee peg. You guessed it, he failed on the first attempt but managed to hit it on the second attempt!

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Now turning to the Ryder Cup match itself and my memories
of my day there.

It was Friday night September 19th, my father had returned home from his week's work and as usual he immediately sat down in his armchair, he picked up the Birmingham Evening Mail newspaper and turned immediately to the back page because that's where he could read the latest news about his favourite football team (soccer in the US) Aston Villa. After a few minutes he said to me 'your man Butler is not doing so well in this 'ere Ryder Cup'. Butler had indeed had a bad day on the Friday losing his afternoon fourball match to Casper and Frank Beard, this following on from his foursome defeat on Thursday afternoon to Nicklaus and Sikes. I said, 'I know Dad'.

It was at this moment that Dad suggested that we travel to Royal Birkdale on the Saturday morning in order to support him.

What a wonderful day we had on the majestic links course of Royal Birkdale. There are three distinct memories that I hold, in addition to the main one, that of Jack Nicklaus' concession which has to be the greatest act of sportsmanship ever known in golf if not sport the world over.

The first was reading in the Saturday morning press, on our way north, that it was felt that because of the constant drubbing of the GB&I team by the USA that time may be being called on the event as public interest was on the wane in Great Britain. Oh how important that gesture of Nicklaus was in saving it!

The second was watching the Irish golfer Christy O'Connor Snr putt out. He had attracted a group of six Irish priests in support and if on a count of 1,2,3 all sxi Priests in unison crossed themselves, no doubt seeking godly intervention! It was rather like watching a string of dancing girls in an American burlesque show lined up across the front of the stage demonstrating their 'kicks' in unison!

The third was standing at the 18th hole waiting for the final match of the competition to come down the fairway. Such was the state of the Ryder Cup competition in those days that there were no stands around the 18th, just a picket fence. 

Suddenly there was a terrific roar from the 17th hole and the crowd sensed that Jacklin had won that hole and drawn level with Nicklaus. A few seconds after the roar I felt a sharp tap on my shoulder and in a deep Texan drawl I was asked  'what's going on bud?' It was the young USA team member Ray Floyd who had drifted out of the changing rooms, standing alongside us, in with the crowd, again such was the competition in those days.

What happened to Butler: He won both of his Saturday singles matches defeating Floyd and Dale Douglass, and for my father he dined out for many months to come on the fact that he had assisted in GB&I's 'draw in the dunes'!

And what happened to that 'runny nosed' articled clerk?

Well, I am proud to tell you that on 23rd February 2019 at the AGM of Royal Birkdale Golf Club I become Captain of the Club for 2019.

Who would have guessed that on my fleeting visit from Birmingham to Royal Birkdale all of those years ago in 1969!

What a quirk of fate and luck.

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Tuesday, September 17

MORNING DRIVE VIDEO: Solheim Cup Hero Suzann Pettersen on Her Fairy Tale Finish, Retirement and Fan Appreciation



THIS IS GOOD STUFF, 14 minutes long but definitely worth watching. Suzann Pettersen, known as a fiery competitor, is on top of the world.

What a way to go out.

Monday, September 16

Europe Wins Solheim Cup With Dramatic Birdie by Suzann Pettersen, Who Promptly Retires

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SUZANN PETTERSEN SANK A CLUTCH 7-foot birdie putt on the final hole to clinch the Solheim Cup for Europe. And then Pettersen retired, on the spot.

That's how you do it.

Here's part of the CNN report:
Norway's Pettersen embraced opponent Marina Alex before falling into the arms of her European teammates on the 18th green at Gleneagles, Scotland, after her winning putt gave Europe a 14.5-13.5 win in the biennial team competition. 
It was Europe's first win since 2013 and sixth in the 16 matches that have been held since the competition -- similar to the men's Ryder Cup between Europe and USA -- began in 1990. 
The 38-year-old Pettersen, a two-time major champion, later announced her retirement from professional golf. 
"This is it, I'm completely done," Pettersen -- a controversial wildcard pick -- told reporters at a jovial a news conference with her victorious teammates. 
"I think this is the perfect end for my professional career, it doesn't get any better and to do it with these girls is amazing."

Wednesday, September 11

Rory McIlroy Voted 2019 PGA Tour Player of the Year, Receives Jack Nicklaus Award

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AND THE WINNER IS ... RORY MCILROY.

Here's the announcement from tour headquarters:
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The PGA TOUR announced today that Rory McIlroy has been named the 2019 PGA TOUR Player of the Year as voted by the TOUR’s membership for the 2018-19 season. McIlroy will receive the Jack Nicklaus Award for winning PGA TOUR Player of the Year for the third time in his career (2012, 2014, 2019). 
PGA TOUR members who played at least 15 official FedExCup events during the 2018-19 season were eligible to vote. The balloting process ended on Sept. 6. 
McIlroy, 30, of Holywood, Northern Ireland, won the FedExCup for the second time (2016, 2019), becoming just the second player to win the season-long race multiple times (Tiger Woods), and the first player to win THE PLAYERS Championship and the FedExCup in the same season. With three wins on the season (THE PLAYERS, RBC Canadian Open, TOUR Championship), McIlroy matched Brooks Koepka for the most on TOUR, and marked the third time he collected three or more victories in a single season. McIlroy also won the Byron Nelson Award for Adjusted Scoring Average (69.057) for the third time in his career and led the PGA TOUR in Top-10s (14) and Strokes Gained: Total (2.551).

Monday, September 9

European Ryder Cup Hero Sam Torrance Quit Playing Golf Two Years Ago: 'I've Kind of Lost the Love for It'

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SAM TORRANCE IS A RYDER CUP HERO who has played eight times for the European side and captained his team to victory in 2002. The Scot has also won 21 times on the European Tour (10th all time) and another 11 on the European senior circuit.

Despite this enviable record -- or perhaps because of it -- the 66-year-old golf legend has put down his sticks.

"I've kind of lost the love for it," Torrance told BBC Radio 5 Live. "I'm not very good. The hardest thing … is I'm mediocre compared to what I was."

Torrance decided to quit two years ago after reviewing his tournament results with his manager. His best finish was 35th. And he was an aggregate 200 over par.

"So it was time," he said.

Torrance added: "Even with my mates I'm struggling to find the impetus to get up there and do it."

Torrance made the putt that clinched the 1985 Ryder Cup, which was the first victory for Europe in 28 years. Since then Europe has pretty much owned the Americans, winning 12 of the last 17 contests.

VIDEO: Another Bad Look for Matt Kuchar



MOVING "LOOSE IMPEDIMENTS" IN A WASTE BUNKER. This was the most recent questionable act of Matt Kuchar. I wonder if he even cares.

Apparently, it's within the rules (which I don't get). But as Geoff Shackelford commented at his site, that's a whole different topic.

Nonetheless, how does it look when Kuchar pulls this stuff? Not good to me. In fact, it looks bad, silly, both.

Just step up and hit the ball, Matt. Play it as it lies. Because you did hit your golf ball in that waste bunker. Kuchar went on to miss the cut at the Porsche European Open.

I might need to start a new category at this blog called, "Really, Kooch?"

Friday, September 6

Golf Swing Friday: Curving the Golf Ball


HERE ARE BUBBA WATSON, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed and others, all working the golf ball.

Which way does your ball curve? Is it intentional?

Thursday, September 5

Tiger Woods and Jon Rahm Highlighted in Report on Age in Six Sports

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A NEW REPORT CALLED FINISHING ON A HIGH looks at six sports since 2000 to determine the perfect age to prosper as a sports star and whether age is just a number.

In the section called "Title Winners Beyond Average Age of Retirement," the report mentioned Tiger Woods:
Tiger Woods, golf - An improbable comeback at the Masters was a true sporting fairytale considering everything that had happened in Woods' life. At the age of 43, he proved he can still mix it with the best and since the turn of the century only Phil Mickelson has won a major at the same age. Only five players have won titles in their 40s in the last 20 years so it may be unlikely that we see Tiger win a big one again.
"Already, the age for being at peak is getting older," commented Jacky Forsyth, Associate Professor of Exercise Physiology at Staffordshire University. "Maybe this is more to do with a societal change than a technological/treatment change.

"There have been medical advancements and we have a better understanding of how the body responds and adapts to training. There is also the idea that, for endurance sports, an older age is preferable since, with aging, the body responds more to endurance training in terms of muscle tissue and cellular adaptation."

Don't be surprised if the world's next big golf star is Jon Rahm, according to the report:
John Rahm, golf - Statistics show that male golfers begin to peak at the age of 25 and can enjoy success for around 10 years before slipping away at 35. Rahm turns 25 later this year and has impressed in recent majors without breaking his duck. Expect the big-hitting Spaniard to go on a run of success in the coming years.

Tuesday, September 3

First-Time European Tour Winner Sebastian Soderberg: 'I Was Shaking the Last Few Holes'



A WILD OMEGA EUROPEAN MASTERS in the Swiss Alps ended with a playoff. It was a fivesome. And it included World No. 2 and FedEx king Rory McIlroy.

The other four who tied at 14-under 266 weren't exactly the usual suspects. Their names and rankings were Kalle Samooja (300), Andres Romero (735), Lorenzo Gagli (513) and Sebastian Soderberg (287).

Soderberg of Sweden won with a birdie on the first playoff hole. It was his maiden victory on the European Tour.

Judging from his comments, the Swede might still be in shock.

"This is tough to describe," Soderberg said. "I was shaking the last few holes.

"I calmed down a bit for the playoff, but now I don't know what to say. I actually didn't play my best today, but my chipping and putting was unbelievable. And it was so exciting to play with Rory. This really hasn’t sunk in yet.

"All I really tried to do was just keep going. I didn't really watch the leader board until the last tee. I hit the first putt on 17 too firm, but I'm proud of myself being able to play good when I was shaking so much. On the 18th, I just tried to focus on hitting two more good shots. There was not as much pressure in the playoff. I had nothing to lose. I was way more calm then I was over the last few holes."

Soderberg, now exempt through 2021, called his new status "life-changing."