Monday, March 30

ICYMI: USGA Names U.S. Women's Open Champion's Medal After Mickey Wright



Mickey Wright died in February. This USGA announcement (edited) came earlier this month. The U.S. Women's Open has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. – The United States Golf Association (USGA) announced that the medal presented each year to the winner of the U.S. Women's Open Championship has been renamed in Mickey Wright's honor and redesigned with an image of her iconic swing, ensuring that every future champion is forever linked to one of golf's greatest pioneers and competitors.

The gold medal, which until now has not had a formal name, dates to the 1953 U.S. Women's Open when the USGA first began conducting the championship. Beginning in June with the 75th U.S. Women's Open at Champions Golf Club in Houston, each champion will receive the Mickey Wright Medal along with the U.S. Women’s Open Trophy.

Over the course of her career, Wright, who died on Feb. 17 at the age of 85, won four U.S. Women's Open titles, which ties Betsy Rawls for the most ever. In addition, Wright has seven top-three finishes and 10 top-five finishes in the championship.

She was the first player to win consecutive Women's Opens, in 1958 at Forest Lake Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and in 1959 at Churchill Valley Golf Club in Blackridge, Pa. She added victories in 1961 at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., and 1964 at San Diego Country Club in Chula Vista, Calif.

European Tour Pros Urge Support of 'Real Heroes'

Thursday, March 26

Golfweek's 5 Tips for Safe Golf During Coronarvirus


GOLF COURSES ARE CLOSING ACROSS the United States. But some remain open, including a former country club in my community. Today, as I drove by, I was surprised to see so many cars in the parking lot.

The Golfweek article by Larry Bohannan (link above) offers a handful of tips for playing golf during the pandemic. They include walking instead of riding, riding alone if you must ride, bringing your own disinfectant and more.

Tuesday, March 24

Golf Instructor Pete Cowen: 'I'm Feeling Horrendous and Wouldn't Wish This on Anyone'

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PETE COWEN, A GOLF INSTRUCTOR who works with Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka, Gary Woodland, Graeme McDowell and others, believes he is sick with COVID-19, according to a report by The Telegraph.

Cowen, 69, has been laid low by the virus.

"I'm feeling horrendous and wouldn't wish this on anyone, no matter how young and fit they may be," he said.

Cowen was helping players at The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach before the tournament was canceled after the first round. He hasn't been tested.

"After a few days of self-isolation," Cowen said, "we decided to ring the ambulance and the medics said I ticked every box on the corona sheet.

"They were fantastic, but said they were not allowed to test me unless I was admitted to hospital and then the staff there decided to keep you in."

Cowen delivered an ominous message.

"I don't want to alarm anyone, and I might just have been particularly vulnerable to it, but I'm not sure how anyone with an underlying illness could cope with this."

(H/T GolfChannel.com)

Saturday, March 21

Golfworld: Golf Continues at St. Andrews as Pubs Close Doors Due to Coronavirus

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WHILE THE UK BATTLES COVID-19, the Old Course at St. Andrews remains open to golfers. It's a small slice of normalcy during these surreal days of a global pandemic and what might be the term of the year: "social distancing."

In these difficult times, there remains a soothing constant in the golf world: The Old Course at St. Andrews is open for play. 
That doesn't mean everything is normal at the Home of Golf during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews sent an email to its membership on Saturday morning with the announcement that the club was immediately closing its dining room and drink service, while the locker room would remain open until Wednesday evening, after which it would be closed....
According to data kept by Johns Hopkins University, as of Friday, the UK reported 3,297 cases of the coronavirus, with 168 deaths. The total cases are reportedly the sixth highest for COVID-19 in Europe, behind Italy, Spain, Germany, France and Switzerland.
About half of UK courses are closed, according to Leonard.

The seven courses operated by St. Andrews Golf Links are among the other half that are still open for play (at the moment).

Monday, March 16

Golfworld: Advice From an Infectious Disease Expert on Playing Golf During Coronavirus

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I'VE BEEN MENTALLY PLANNING a golf outing at my semi-deserted municipal course in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

Golf is played outside. What could be healthier?

Especially when there are no crowds. In fact, practically no one around and only a few cars in the parking lot. That's the norm where I play, even before the coronavirus.

Golfworld asked an infectious disease expert, "Can you play golf amid coronavirus concerns?"

The answer: "With proper precautions, yes."

An excerpt:
According to Dr. Catherine Troisi, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, golf as it's normally played—outdoors, with natural social-distancing built in—"would be fairly safe." 
Generally, the key is to be more than six feet away from others. Stay out of gimme distance. 
"As much as we know anything for now, we know that if you're more than six feet from somebody, they're not going to spread it to you. So even within your foursome, you just stay a little bit farther away than you might ordinarily," Troisi said.
Read the entire article.

(H/T Geoff Shackelford)

Friday, March 13

Goodbye Golf: PGA TOUR Statement on Canceling PLAYERS and Other Tournaments



FOR A BRIEF MOMENT, I THOUGHT maybe there will be professional golf to watch. This thought flashed after seemingly every other sport cancelled or postponed games and seasons. It began with the NBA on Wednesday.

This golf thought was short-lived, though.

Yesterday the PGA TOUR slammed the trunk on its flagship event, THE PLAYERS Championship, and more. Here's the Tour's statement:
It is with regret that we are announcing the cancellation of THE PLAYERS Championship.
We have also decided to cancel all PGA TOUR events – across all of our Tours – in the coming weeks, through the Valero Texas Open. 
We have pledged from the start to be responsible, thoughtful and transparent with our decision process. We did everything possible to create a safe environment for our players in order to continue the event throughout the weekend, and we were endeavoring to give our fans a much-needed respite from the current climate.  But at this point – and as the situation continues to rapidly change – the right thing to do for our players and our fans is to pause.
The Masters isn't cancelled ... yet. It's postponed.

Today, PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan said: "As we step back and we think about when we're going to play, we need to do all the things that led us to this decision. We need to continue to understand what's happening on the ground in the markets where we would be returning to play, continue to work with our partners in those markets, continue to understand what's happening with the CDC and the World Health Organization, and then ultimately that will guide our decision.

"We're going to make sure that we protect the safety and well-being of all of our constituents as we make that decision."

Friday, March 6

NBC Golf Analyst Paul Azinger Responds to Criticism From European Players

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ON SUNDAY WHEN ENGLISHMAN TOMMY FLEETWOOD was trying to win the Honda Classic, which would have been his first PGA Tour victory, NBC golf analyst Paul Azinger said this:

"These guys know, you can win all you want on the European Tour, the international game and all that, but you have to win on the PGA Tour. They all know that, and I think Tommy knows that. And it's put a little pressure on Tommy, but this is where they want to be. They want to come here and prove they can make it at this level."

Fleetwood needed a birdie on the 18th hole to force a playoff. He dunked his fairwood metal in the water, finishing third.

Meanwhile, some European players took exception to Azinger's comments. Namely, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, and maybe others.


And Lee Westwood said this:

"One minute Paul walks down the range wishing you good luck before you play, the next he's condescending (sic) to the tour you play on and disrespects the tournaments you've won around the world. I've won in 19 different countries over 4 decades. That is disrespecting a lot of people!"

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On Monday Azinger told Golfweek he meant no disrespect. And then he said a little more.

"I wasn't trying to be malicious. I didn't mean to disrespect anyone," Azinger said. "But professional golfers choke for two things: cash and prestige. And the PGA Tour has the most of both."

Azinger has a point.

Besides that, I hope NBC hired Azinger to say what he thinks. If he never rankles at least some of the players, maybe he's not doing his job.

Tuesday, March 3

My Quick Trip to the World Golf Hall of Fame

I VISITED THE WORLD GOLF HALL OF FAME on Sunday. We're in Florida for a couple of weeks, first in the Jacksonville/Ponte Vedra Beach area and then on to Destin in the Florida Panhandle.

It was a bright sunny day at the World Golf Hall of Fame, just north of St. Augustine. I spent about three hours there.

I enjoyed the history exhibits, putting on a late 19th century green (simulated) with the requisite ancient putter and golf ball, and also putting on an artificial green that stimped at 12 to 15, which is PGA Tour speed.

I also browsed the lockers of the Hall of Fame members and got one shot at the island green that fronts the main entrance.

The shot was 132 yards, with a crossing breeze, not helping. I made the island, landing my one and only ball just off the right-front edge. A decent shot, I decided, considering I hadn't hit a ball since December.

Here are a few more photos.

"Yes sir!"
Jack Nicklaus sinks one as you enter the museum.



Women playing golf in the 19th century.

President Dwight Eisenhower's golf cart.

World Golf Hall of Fame Announces Finalists for 2021 Induction Class, Including Tiger Woods

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The World Golf Hall of Fame released the names of 10 finalists who will be considered for enshrinement in 2021. The list of finalists includes Male and Female Competitors and Contributors.

Below is the list of finalists (listed alphabetically by category):

Male Competitor (4)
Johnny Farrell, United States
Padraig Harrington, Ireland
Tom Weiskopf, United States
Tiger Woods, United States

Female Competitor (4)
Susie Maxwell Berning, United States
Beverly Hanson, United States
Sandra Palmer, United States
Dottie Pepper, United States

Contributor (2)
Tim Finchem, United States
Marion Hollins, United States
 
The finalists were selected by the Nominating Committee comprised of 26 individuals, including six Hall of Fame Members: Juli Inkster, Hale Irwin, Meg Mallon, Colin Montgomerie, Mark O’Meara and Karrie Webb. Before gaining consideration, each finalist met the necessary qualifications in his or her respective category by way of on-course accomplishments or significant contributions to the game.
 
"The Nominating Committee has selected 10 finalists who represent the highest caliber of golfers and contributors," said Greg McLaughlin, CEO of World Golf Foundation. "The recent enhancements to the World Golf Hall of Fame Induction criteria provide a great process to ensure the most worthy of candidates are being considered. We are grateful to the Nominating Committee for their work and anticipate the Class of 2021 being one of our strongest to date."

The World Golf Foundation Board of Directors recently approved changes to the eligibility include lowering the age of a Male or Female Competitor from 50 to 45 years of age or three years retired from the game. Additional changes included retiring the Veterans category and changing the name of the former Lifetime Achievement category to the Contributor category.
 
The Selection Committee, a 20-member panel comprised of Hall of Fame Members, media representatives and leaders of the major golf organizations, will be tasked with discussing the merits of each finalist and ultimately selecting the Class of 2021.

The 2021 Induction Ceremony date, location and class will be announced in the coming weeks. For more information on the Induction process, visit www.worldgolfhalloffame.org.

Class of 2021 Nominating Committee

Chairman
Greg McLaughlin, World Golf Foundation

Hall of Fame Members
Juli Inkster
Hale Irwin
Meg Mallon
Colin Montgomerie
Mark O'Meara
Karrie Webb

Institutional Seats
World Golf Foundation Board Organizations
Heather Daly-Donofrio, LPGA
Steve Ethun, The Masters
Angela Howe, The R&A
Rand Jerris, USGA
Allison Keller, PGA TOUR
Guy Kinnings, European Tour
Julius Mason, PGA of America

At-Large Seats
Media and at-large selections chosen by World Golf Foundation Board
Ron Green, Jr., Global Golf Post
Bob Harig, ESPN
Nicki Hirayama, International Golf Federation
Alastair Johnston, IMG
Derek Lawrenson, Daily Mail
Rich Lerner, Golf Channel
Lewine Mair, Global Golf Post UK
Randall Mell, Golf Channel
Jimmy Roberts, NBC
Dave Shedloski, Golf Digest/Discovery
Reiko Takekawa, Golf Digest
Kelly Tilghman