Saturday, February 29

ICYMI: Rory McIlroy's Club Yardages in Mexico


RORY MCILROY HITS IT A LONG WAY. He hit it even farther at the WGC-Mexico Championship, where the elevation was more than 7,500 feet.

According to at least one estimate, the pros hit the ball 10-15 percent farther at that altitude.

McIlroy finished fifth at 14 under.

Thursday, February 27

GQ Profiles Brooks Koepka, Including His Love-Hate Relationship With Golf



NO MORE FRIENDS FOR BROOKS KOEPKA. He's fine.

Think of him as the Larry David of the PGA Tour. (A very young LD.) Nor does he enjoy the culture of golf. Count on Brooks to say what's on his mind, even if it "might come across the wrong way."

This and more in the Brooks Koepka profile in the March issue of GQ.

Here's the news release from GQ:

New York, NY —  "This might come across the wrong way," Brooks Koepka disclaims of the other players in the professional golf circuit, "but I already have enough friends. I don't need anymore. Just 'cause we work together doesn’t mean we have to be friends…You know, I have my friends that aren’t really into golf that much, and the only reason they're into golf is because they follow me. I like to be able to get away from the game."

For the March issue of GQ, Dan Riley profiles Brooks Koepka, the golfer who loves the game and hates the rest.

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In the past, Koepka has been quoted as saying if he could do everything all over again, he'd be a baseball player instead. He isn't a golf nerd. Golf is kind of boring, no action.

Now, he's elaborating on everything he'd change.

"One thing I'd change is maybe the stuffiness. Golf has always had this persona of the triple-pleated khaki pants, the button-up shirt, very country club atmosphere, where it doesn't always have to be that way," he says.

"That's part of the problem. Everybody always says, 'You need to grow the game.' Well, why do you need to be so buttoned-up?"

Koepka is known for being icy on the links. No emotion. And he has no problem with it.

"It's one of those things in golf—you can't be very vocal, and you don't taunt…And so you just find different ways to make guys second-guess themselves."

He's aware of the misconceptions this causes.

"I just think people confuse all this for me not loving the game. I love the game. I absolutely love the game. I don't love the stuffy atmosphere that comes along with it. That, to me, isn't enjoyable."

At only 29 years old, there are only 19 players in the history of golf who have won more majors than Koepka in their entire careers. People suggest he only cares about the majors.

"Yeah," he confirms. "I mean everyone should. Those are my chances to shine."

And he does shine. He’s extremely good, and that's why he plays.

"I love it," he reiterates, "but I know how to break away from it. That's where the confusion lies. Or maybe the misconception of me lies. I absolutely love the game. If I didn't love it, I'd retire right now…I do it because I actually love golf. I love going to practice, to compete, to tournaments, grinding it out even when you don't have your best, trying to figure out a way to get it done—that's fun to me.

But the one thing that I've been very good at is breaking away from the game when I need to."

The full feature, with photos by Brian Finke, can be found here.

The March issue of GQ is on stands now.

Tuesday, February 25

ESPN: Patrick Reed 'Thrives Amid Chaos'



PATRICK REED HAS BEEN BRANDED as a PGA Tour player and college golfer who plays fast and loose with the rules, called a "cheater" by some.

Reed wears his bad-boy image like a suit of armor, and gathers criticism as if it were kindling to stoke his competitive fire. Apparently, no matter what is said by peers like Brooks Koepka or the media (Peter Kostis), Reed keeps competing at a very high level, whether in the Presidents Cup or in a World Golf Championship, like the one he won in Mexico on Sunday.

ESPN's Bob Harig wrote:
For reasons of his own making, that controversy lingers, but Reed thrives amid chaos. We've seen it at the Ryder Cup and throughout the past few months, as he has endured his share of taunting and jeers from spectators, fellow competitors and commentators. 
As such, it was only fitting that Reed emerged from the rubble on Sunday at Club de Golf Chapultepec, outlasting an all-star cast on the leaderboard to shoot a final-round 67 and capture the WGC-Mexico Championship by a shot over Bryson DeChambeau.
It was Reed's eighth PGA Tour victory and second World Golf Championship title.

DeChambeau said, "He's a great player, and he'll be a great player for a long time. And I have a lot of respect for his game."

About the many distractions, Reed said, "Really, at the end of the day, to me it doesn't really matter.

"For me, it's go out there and continue doing what I'm supposed to do, and that's try to play the best golf I can, try to be the best person I can and try to set an example for the younger kids that are out here watching, as well as my kids that are watching back at home."

Thursday, February 20

How Dr. George Franklin Grant's Small Improvement Revolutionized Golf



IMAGINE GOLF WITHOUT THE MODERN GOLF TEE.

That's the way it was until men such as Dr. George Franklin Grant (1846-1910) arrived on the scene in the late 19th century.

Dr. Grant was an African American who, in 1899, patented an improved wooden tee that "consisted of a wood cone with a rubber sleeve to support the ball," according to Wikipedia.

(Dr. Grant was also the first African American professor at Harvard and a Boston dentist.)

Now golf balls fly prodigious distances. But it wouldn't be so without a small improvement conceived more than a century ago.

More from the USGA:
Dr. George Grant and Evolution of the Golf Tee

Wednesday, February 19

Mickey Wright: 'Watching the Earth in Orbit With a Golf Club in My Hands'



BEN HOGAN AND BYRON NELSON said she had the best golf swing they ever saw. That would be Mickey Wright, who died on Monday.

For USGA.org, Lisa D Mickey wrote:
Mary Kathryn "Mickey" Wright, winner of 82 LPGA Tour events and 13 major championships, including a record-tying four U.S. Women's Opens, died from a heart attack on Feb. 17 in Port St. Lucie, Fla., three days after her 85th birthday.
Wright was regarded as one of the greatest golfers in the game's history. In a four-year span between 1961 and 1964, Wright won 44 tournaments, including eight major championships. She finished either first or second in more than half of the events she entered during this stretch. World Golf Hall of Fame member Tom Watson called it "the best run anybody has ever had in golf." 
Wright possessed a swing hailed by legends Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson as the greatest of all-time – male or female. It combined power, athleticism, rhythm and flowing grace, producing maximum clubhead speed and extension through impact. She was one of the longest hitters of her era, producing high, soaring fairway-wood and long-iron shots that separated her from her peers.
__________

"When I play my best golf, I feel as if I'm in a fog, standing back watching the earth in orbit with a golf club in my hands."
Mickey Wright
__________

Wright was among an impressive group of tour pros that hailed from San Diego, including Billy Casper, Phil Mickelson, Gene Littler and Craig Stadler.

Friday, February 14

Rory McIlroy Is Latest in Revolving Door of World No. 1 Players



RORY MCILROY RECENTLY MOVED TO NO. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking, displacing Brooks Koepka, who held the top spot for 38 weeks. Neither McIlroy nor Koepka played during the week they swapped places.

In search of domination in men's golf, it's plain to see that parity rules. Sure, there have been a few perched at world No. 1 for a year or more. But by and large it's been a revolving door over the last decade.

This was apparent when I studied the Official World Golf Ranking, which highlights this era's No. 1 players and length of time in the top spot:

Rory McIlroy, 95 weeks
Dustin Johnson, 91 weeks
Luke Donald, 56 weeks
Jason Day, 51 weeks
Brooks Koepka, 38 weeks
Jordan Spieth, 26 weeks
Lee Westwood, 22 weeks
Justin Rose, 13 weeks
Adam Scott, 11 weeks
Martin Kaymer, 8 weeks
Justin Thomas, 4 weeks

That's a lot of folks, right?

And then there's Tiger Woods. 683 weeks. If my math is correct, that's more than 13 years at No. 1.

Good luck identifying that next dominant male tour pro. I've only seen two in my lifetime.

Harvey Penick's 'Magic Words' for Cutting 5 Strokes Off Your Score

"IMPROVEMENT COMES IN PLATEAUS," says golf legend Harvey Penick (1904-1995) in his classic golf instruction book, Harvey Penick's Little Red Book: Lessons and Teachings from a Lifetime in Golf.

Harvey Penick
It doesn't come stroke by stroke, he adds.

If you want to cut three or even five strokes from your game, Penick has some simple advice. Put the driver back in the bag. Stop pounding golf balls with the long clubs on the driving range.

"The short game. Those are the magic words," Penick says in his chapter titled "How to Knock Five Strokes Off Your Game."

"The higher your score, the faster you can lower it—with the short game."

Penick reminds golfers for the umpteenth time: about half the strokes in a round of golf come within 75 yards of the hole. He taught and observed amateur and pro golfers for seven decades. Penick says this about practice:

"If I ask an average golfer what percentage of his practice time he spends on his short game in comparison to hitting the longer shots, he'll probably tell me he gives the short game 10 or 20 percent. This is usually a fib.

"The average golfer will devote 15 minutes to stroking a few putts before he heads to the first tee, and that's about it for the short-game practice."

What should you do instead?

Penick says spend 90 percent of your practice time on chipping and putting.

"[I]f you want to knock five shots off your game in a hurry," Penick says, "leave your long clubs in your bag and head for the green."

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Harvey Penick was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2002. Penick coached hundreds of golfers, including Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, Mickey Wright, Betsy Rawls and Kathy Whitworth. The annual teacher award presented by the Golf Teachers Association is called the Harvey Penick Award.

Sponsored by Bird Golf Academy. Bird Golf Schools provide the "Ultimate Golf Learning Experience"®.

Saturday, February 8

The Dean of Golf Photographers Receives a New PGA of America Award

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LEONARD KAMSLER. MAYBE YOU'VE NEVER HEARD THAT NAME.

Kamsler is a different kind of golf legend. A golf photographer whose "shots" were as pure as Ben Hogan's.

Peter Morrice of Golfworld wrote:
[T]he "Dean of Golf Photographers," as Kamsler has come to be known. From his first assignment for Golf Magazine in 1959 (shooting a caddie camp) to 40 straight years covering the Masters to sessions with the top players and personalities in the game over the past five decades, Kamsler always got the picture. On Tuesday [January 14], the PGA of America announced that Kamsler, 84, will receive its inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award in Photojournalism.
Congratulations to Mr. Kamsler. Following is more of his work.

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Wednesday, February 5

50-Year-Old Ernie Els Excited About Rookie Status on Champions Tour

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THE BIG EASY IS READY for the Champions Tour (PGA Tour Champions). Hall of Famer Ernie Els has reached that magic age.

John Strege of Golfworld wrote:
Els already has turned 50 and has indicated he is eager to join his contemporaries on the senior tour. He [was] entered in the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai, which start[ed] [on a] Thursday in Hawaii. 
"I've had a great time out here [on the PGA Tour]," Els said last June. "It's been quite a long time out here. And I'll still play some of the events that I'm the past champion of, but I think I'm going to transition well onto the other side and play some golf on the Champions Tour and go see some of my old friends."
(Els finished second in his debut, losing to Miguel Angel Jimenez in a playoff.)

Jim Furyk, who turns 50 in May, might not be far behind.
"If I'm competitive and I feel like I'm knocking on the door and having opportunities to win, I'd like to play some out here," Furyk said of the PGA Tour last year. "If that's not the case, I'll go to [the PGA Tour Champions] and see if I can be competitive out there.

Monday, February 3

Graeme McDowell Ends Long Winless Drought With Saudi International Victory

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By Brian Keogh
Brian Keogh contributes to major golf publications and runs Irish Golf Desk. Used with permission. GRAEME MCDOWELL SURGED BACK into the world's top 50 and the Ryder Cup reckoning when he closed with a gutsy level par 70 to win the Saudi International by two shots from Dustin Johnson on 12-under par. The 40-year old from Portrush had not won on the European Tour since 2014, but he showed all his trademark fighting qualities in blustery conditions to claim his 16th worldwide win, his 11th on the European Tour and a cheque for US$583,330. He is projected to leap from 104th to around 46th in the world, opening the door to all the World Golf Championships and the Majors. "It's special," he said. "I've been working hard the last year and a half. I said I wanted to be back up there one more time just to be out playing against these guys. The game of golf is in such great shape with so many great players in the world. It's so exciting to be a top player in the world and I want to be back up there again."

Webb Simpson Outduels Tony Finau in the Desert



IT'S TOUGH TO WIN ON TOUR.

Talented Tony Finau, who has won a lot of money but not a lot of tournaments, learned that lesson again on Sunday at the 2020 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Finau had the lead, and it looked to me as if he had the tournament with two holes to play. But Webb Simpson had other ideas.

Simpson went birdie-birdie to tie at the end of regulation. Then, on the first playoff hole, the 2012 U.S. Open champion rolled in another birdie for the win. And that was that.

But Finau and Simpson are still the best of friends.

"I definitely didn't give him the tournament,'' Finau said. "Unfortunately, it's how the cookie crumbles. ... I love Webb."

"It's hard," Simpson said. "He is a great friend. Our wives are friends, and he's one of the best guys on tour."