Tuesday, July 22

Bad Boy Bobby Locke, Part 5: Trouble at Home and Abroad

I asked John Coyne why he called Bobby Locke a "bad boy." Coyne said, "Locke wasn't liked on the PGA Tour. They blackballed him. Also, he was fired from his first pro job in Johannesburg." In this series, read how the South African golf legend made enemies by beating America's best. Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

By John Coyne

Copyright © John Coyne. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

FROM HIS FIRST DAYS AS A PROFESSIONAL, Bobby Locke had difficulty with the golfing establishment, on both sides of the ocean.

He turned pro in 1938 and immediately ran into trouble with professional golf associations. The South African Transvaal PGA turned him down for membership, saying that he had to be a professional for two years before being eligible. He applied to the British PGA and they turned him down, saying he had to be a professional for five years.

Golf legend Bobby Locke got sacked
after winning his first South African Open.
This was despite Locke winning tournaments in South Africa and Great Britain, and receiving money to play in exhibitions tours in Australia. Also, he took the professional position at the Maccauvlei Golf Club in 1939. (Today, Maccauvlei is the home club of Masters winner, Charl Schwartzel.)

Locke did not last long as the pro at Maccauvlei. He had just won his first South Africa Open held at Maccauvlei when he got the job, and immediately he ran into trouble. In the history of the club, written by member Derek Mocke, it appears that Locke was "forced out" of his position.

Mocke writes: "Problems immediately arose with regard to his appointment. On the 24th February 1940, the committee discussed the proposed arrangement that Locke had with African Theatres whereby he was proposing to tour the country giving a series of golfing demonstrations. The Chairman said that he was strongly opposed to such an arrangement being made by Locke during his period of service to the club, unless he did this during his leave periods. The committee further did not like Locke giving non-members lessons whilst playing with him on the course in preference to merely using the practice tee. In order to curb this, the club instituted a green fee of two shillings and six pence per round.

"At a special meeting hastily arranged and held on the 5th May 1940, Bobby Locke was questioned as to the terms of his employment. In his letter of appointment he was told that if he wanted to play in outside competitions he had to ask permission. Locke never applied for leave of absence but merely advised the Secretary when he had to fulfill his obligations. He also intimated that he proposed making a quick trip to America to play the US Open.

"Locke pleaded forgetfulness when questioned. It was said that Locke was using the Club to suit his own convenience and personal interest, and that the Club would not be used as a stepping stone for Locke to travel around the country, playing exhibition matches purely for his own benefit, at the Club's expense. Locke did not like the arrangement, and after eight months, resigned from the Club by letter to the committee dated 26th July 1940. The rest is history."

Derek Mocke joined Maccauvlei Golf Club years later, in 1967, and has been an active member ever since. He has held every office of the club, having been Captain, Chairman and President.

In 1982, the year of his captaincy, Dereck invited Bobby Locke to play with him at Maccauvlei. Locke arrived with his chaperone, Pine Pienaar, a retired Boeing pilot, who transported Locke everywhere he was invited to go. When they were on the 4th hole, Locke knocked his second just on the green. Walking down towards the green with him, Derek remarked that the putt should be in his compass. Next thing he felt was a mighty kick up his "backside."

"Not knowing what was going on," Derek wrote me, "I later asked Pine Pienaar why he kicked me. The only explanation that Pine could give me was that in his days that would have been an easy putt for him, and nowadays he feels frustrated as his putting touch has deserted him. At the prize giving that evening I mentioned the fact that Bobby had only 30 putts in his round, not bad for someone who felt his better days had deserted him."

Also at that evening's dinner celebrating Locke's return to Maccauvlei, Derek Mocke was to present to Bobby a "club tie" but when he went down to the pro shop to get one the pro told him Locke had already "nicked" one out of the shop without paying. (There was already a rumor in Joburg that Locke was a kleptomaniac.)

Back in the ballroom, another club tie was presented to the former club pro by Derek Mocke. Derek, having been told by his father that Locke loved playing the ukulele, had gotten an instrument from the local music shop and "after a few drinks," handed Bobby the ukulele and they were treated to a singing show.

It was, Derek writes, "an evening that I will never ever forget spending a day of golf and song with a South African legend."

TO BE CONTINUED.

John Coyne is a bestselling author whose latest golf novel is The Caddie Who Won the Masters. Learn more at John Coyne Books.

Monday, July 21

Rory Sets Sights on Career Grand Slam

By Brian Keogh

Brian Keogh is a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a contributor to The Irish Times, Golf Digest Ireland and other golf publications. The following excerpt from Brian’s Irish Golf Desk is used with permission.

RORY MCILROY DEDICATED THE OPEN to his mum Rosie but set his sights on the daddy of them all--completing the career Grand Slam at the Masters next year.

By carding a 71 to win by two shots from Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler at Hoylake, the Holywood star became only the third player after legends Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods to win three of the four majors by the age of 25. He also ended all speculation about his ability to prepare well and execute on a links course.

Now the little boy who used to wake his mother up by banging her on the head with a plastic club wants to go on and complete the set by winning the Masters next April. Not only that, he wants to take up the mantle of Tiger Woods and become golf’s next dominant player.

Dedicating his win to his mother, who saw him win a major for the first time. Rory said: “My mum hasn't been at the previous two major wins. It was just my dad. And it was just great to see her on the back of the 18th there and how much it meant to her. I was trying not to cry at the time because she was bawling her eyes out. The support of my parents has been incredible with the sacrifices that they made for me growing up.

“They're there for me at the worst of times, like this time last year after missing the cut at Muirfield, or the best of times walking off as the champion golfer of the year this year.”

The first wire to wire winner of the Open since Woods in 2005, McIlroy now looks set to become the game’s next dominant figure.

Winning a green jacket would make him that man and he's up for the challenge, declaring: “Golf is looking to someone to put their hand up and I want to be that person. I want be to be the guy that goes on and wins majors and wins majors regularly.

“I've had chances before to kick on as I did after my second major at Kiawah. I kicked on for another six months and played really well. I just want to think ahead and go forward and try and win as many tournaments and as many majors as I can, because I feel like there's a lot more left in me.”

As for Augusta, where he led by four shots going into the final round in 2011 but blew up with a closing 80, he said: “I've always been comfortable from tee to green at Augusta. And it's just taken me a few years to figure out the greens.

“I’ll be going into Augusta next year pretty confident.”

Brian Keogh covers golf for The Irish Sun and contributes to a variety of golf publications. Pay him a visit at Irish Golf Desk.

Friday, July 18

Open Leader Rory McIlroy By the Numbers

EXCEPT FOR A SLIGHT MISSTEP out of the gate on Friday, 36-hole Open leader Rory McIlory has played near-flawless golf.

McIlroy bogeyed the 1st hole of his second round. The Northern Irishman then played the next 17 holes in 7 under par to card his second consecutive 66 and open a 4-shot lead on American Dustin Johnson at the halfway point of the major championship at Hoylake.

So much for the Friday curse.

"My second rounds this year have been terrible and there isn't really any explanation," McIlroy said. "Hopefully I put it to bed today. It was just another solid a round of golf."

Rory by the numbers through two rounds:
  • 66-66-132 (-12)
  • 13 birdies (T1)
  • 16 fairways hit (57.14%)
  • 27 greens in regulation (75%)
  • 19 one putts (T2)

Thursday, July 17

Remembering Tony Lema 50 Years After Open Triumph



USING ARNOLD PALMER'S CADDIE AND PUTTER, and after playing just one full practice round, Tony Lema won the 1964 British Open at the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland. It was his first appearance in golf's oldest major championship. Lema's 279 total was five shots better than runner-up Jack Nicklaus. He famously served champagne to the press after his victories, thus becoming "Champagne Tony."

Lema's career and life were cut short in the summer of 1966 when he and his wife died in a small plane crash on the way to an exhibition near Chicago. Lema had planned to give his fee to a charity that benefited kids. He was 32.

A native of Oakland, California, Tony Lema won 12 times on the PGA Tour, including the one major. According to the above Golf Channel profile, George Clooney is considering a movie project about Lema.

Wednesday, July 16

Freaky Fridays Are Messing With Rory's Head

By Brian Keogh

Brian Keogh is a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a contributor to The Irish Times, Golf Digest Ireland and other golf publications. The following excerpt from Brian’s Irish Golf Desk is used with permission.

Rory McIlroy has never felt more prepared for The Open Championship but he admits his freaky Friday form is getting into his head. The former world No 1 has had seven nightmares this season when he’s shot 40 or more for nine holes.

But with six of those seven disasters coming on Friday--the most recent of them just last week when he followed an opening 64 in the Scottish Open with a horrific 78--he admits he’s got a major mental problem to tackle. Asked if his Friday scoring trend is starting to mess with his head, he said: “Yes, I think it is. And it’s a trend I’d like to stop this week.

“I think I just got it into my head and I may be putting a bit too much pressure on myself, going out on Fridays and trying to back up a score. I have no problem shooting a low one on Thursday, so there should be no reason I have any problem shooting a low one on Friday.

“As I say, I think I just got into my head and I need to go out and pretend like it's a Thursday again.”

McIlroy has the best first round record in golf, averaging 68.15 this year. But his second-round scoring average of 72.23 is one of the worst of anyone on the major tours.

Last week’s disaster in Scotland was not his first reverse of the year. He followed a 63 with a 78 in the Memorial Tournament and adding that 78 to his course record 64 just last week was not what he needed coming into The Open.

To put his performances in perspective, McIlroy is 51 under par in the first round this year, 19 under in the third round and 20 under on the final day. But in the second round he’s an eye-popping nine over par.

At a loss to explain how he can halt the freaky Friday syndrome, he said: “I don't know, but it's more going out and not thinking about it and really trying to get off it to a solid start. You’ve got to just play a few solid holes and get your round underway that way.

“So hopefully this week I can start to turn that second-round thing around and start shooting some better scores.”

Brian Keogh covers golf for The Irish Sun and contributes to a variety of golf publications. Pay him a visit at Irish Golf Desk.

Tuesday, July 15

Open Championship Odds: Rose and McIlroy 14-1 Favorites

TIGER WOODS IS NOT FAVORED to win a major in which he is entered for the first time since, well, eons ago. And yet, as you might expect, he is playing to win.

When asked today about his goal this week at Hoylake, Tiger replied, "First," adding, "That's always the case."

We've heard that many times before. Speaking of "first," I'd say first Tiger needs to make the cut. I expect he will unless the rust is still thick like it was at Congressional.

Here are the 2014 Open Championship odds courtesy of Bovada.

The Open Championship 2014 -
Outright Winner
Co-favorite Justin Rose won the Scottish Open.
(DGW-6455 / Flickr Creative Commons)
Justin Rose 14/1
Rory McIlroy 14/1
Adam Scott 16/1
Henrik Stenson 16/1
Tiger Woods 18/1
Martin Kaymer 20/1
Phil Mickelson 20/1
Graeme McDowell 25/1
Sergio Garcia 25/1
Dustin Johnson 33/1
Jason Day 33/1
Jordan Spieth 33/1
Rickie Fowler 33/1
Bubba Watson 40/1
Lee Westwood 40/1
Luke Donald 40/1
Matt Kuchar 40/1
Angel Cabrera 50/1
Brandt Snedeker 50/1
Hideki Matsuyama 50/1
Ian Poulter 50/1
Paul Casey 50/1
Thomas Bjørn 50/1
Zach Johnson 50/1
Charl Schwartzel 66/1
Ernie Els 66/1
Jamie Donaldson 66/1
Jason Dufner 66/1
Jim Furyk 66/1
Francesco Molinari 80/1
Hunter Mahan 80/1
Keegan Bradley 80/1
Louis Oosthuizen 80/1
Miguel Angel Jimenez 80/1
Mikko Ilonen 80/1
Robert Karlsson 80/1
Stephen Gallacher 80/1
Webb Simpson 80/1
Jimmy Walker 80/1

The rest: Bill Haas 100/1 Brendon Todd 100/1 Graham De Laet 100/1 Harris English 100/1 Jonas Blixt 100/1 Joost Luiten 100/1 Kevin Na 100/1 Matteo Manassero 100/1 Nick Watney 100/1 Patrick Reed 100/1 Shane Lowry 100/1 Victor Dubuisson 100/1 Billy Horschel 125/1 Branden Grace 125/1 Chris Wood 125/1 Danny Willett 125/1 Gary Woodland 125/1 Pablo Larrazabal 125/1 Padraig Harrington 125/1 Ross Fisher 125/1 Ryan Moore 125/1 Thongchai Jaidee 125/1 Bernd Wiesberger 150/1 Brooks Koepka 150/1 Charley Hoffman 150/1 Chris Kirk 150/1 Edoardo Molinari 150/1 Fredrik Jacobson 150/1 Gonzalo Fdez-Castaño 150/1 John Senden 150/1 KJ Choi 150/1 Marc Leishman 150/1 Marc Warren 150/1 Michael Hoey 150/1 Paul Lawrie 150/1 Rafa Cabrera Bello 150/1 Richard Sterne 150/1 Thorbjorn Olesen 150/1 Brendon De Jonge 200/1 Darren Clarke 200/1 George Coetzee 200/1 Gregory Bourdy 200/1 J B Holmes 200/1 Kevin Stadler 200/1 Kevin Streelman 200/1 Russell Henley 200/1 Ryan Palmer 200/1 Ryo Ishikawa 200/1 Stewart Cink 200/1 Tommy Fleetwood 200/1 Ben Curtis 250/1 Ben Martin 250/1 Boo Weekley 250/1 Brendan Steele 250/1 Chris Stroud 250/1 Erik Compton 250/1 Justin Leonard 250/1 Matt Every 250/1 Matt Jones 250/1 Matthew Baldwin 250/1 Oliver Fisher 250/1 Peter Uihlein 250/1 Yong Eun Yang 250/1 Cameron Tringale 300/1 Chesson Hadley 300/1 David Howell 300/1 George McNeil 300/1 Roberto Castro 300/1 Scott Stallings 300/1 Shawn Stefani 300/1 Anirban Lahiri 400/1 Brett Rumford 400/1 Kiradech Aphibarnrat 400/1 Billy Hurley III 500/1 Bradley Neil 500/1 Byeong-Hun An 500/1 D.A. Points 500/1 Hyung-Sung Kim 500/1 Justin Walters 500/1 Tom Watson 500/1 Victor Riu 500/1 Jin Jeong 500/1 Ashun Wu 750/1 Chris Hanson 750/1 David Duval 750/1 Dawie Van Der Walt 750/1 Juvic Pagunsan 750/1 Mark Calcavecchia 750/1 Oscar Floren 750/1 John Daly 750/1 Nick Faldo 1000/1 Sandy Lyle 1000/1

Monday, July 14

Feel-Good Weekend Concludes With Bad Senior Moment

"Mighty Mo" Martin
THEY CALL HER "MIGHTY MO." American Mo Martin was the 99th ranked women's golfer who had never won on the LPGA Tour. Nor had she ever led an LPGA event. But that dramatically changed on a windy Sunday afternoon at Royal Birkdale in northwest England.

On the 72nd hole, Martin smashed a 3 wood that rode the wind to the 18th green. The ball bounded onto the putting surface and struck the flagstick, stopping six feet from the hole. In the dream, you make the eagle putt, and that's exactly what Mighty Mo did.

Martin finished 1 under for the tournament and was the clubhouse leader, a new role for the 31-year-old. She would have to wait 75 minutes as heralded players such as Inbee Park, Suzann Pettersen and Shanshan Feng played the closing holes. With birdie opportunities at 17 and 18, both par-5 holes, surely one of them would catch the smallish leader living her biggest golf moment. One by one, they all fell away, their chances disappearing in the windswept dunes.

"Is this real life?" Martin asked when told she had won. A short while later after being sprayed with champagne, she added, "This is just unbelievable. It's literally a dream come true."

Mighty Mo, major winner.

TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois, proved to be a field of dreams for Brian Harman. The 54-hole leader of the John Deere Classic held off veteran Zach Johnson to capture his first PGA Tour victory and earn a spot in this week's British Open at Hoylake.

Johnson shot a Sunday-best 64, but Harman's 66 and 22-under total nipped the Iowan by a stroke.

"It was very hard, probably one of the hardest things I've ever tried to do in my life," Harman said. "Just trying not to let your mind run wild is the hardest part out there."

Gene Sauers
Gene Sauers, the man who quit the game and nearly died from a rare disease that blackened his skin, was set to make it a threesome of feel-good stories, his arguably being the most inspirational. Nothing against the Hall of Famer Colin Montgomerie, but you wanted Sauers to persevere and clutch the U.S. Senior Open trophy in the end.

Well, I did.

Sauers, the 54-hole leader at Oak Tree National, gamely hung on to the final hole, needing to sink a 5-foot par putt to clinch the most important victory of his life. It rimmed out, and there wasn't enough left in his tank to outlast Monty in the three-hole playoff.

"I'm glad to be here and I'm coming back," Sauers said. "I feel good about my game, and there's always next week."

Anyone might say that afterward, but it definitely sounded better and more sincere from a player who got his life back and was grateful to return to tournament golf.

Friday, July 11

Feherty: Padraig Harrington on Yips, Grooves and More

The Feherty interveiw with Padraig Harrington airs Monday at 10 p.m. ET on Golf Channel. (Golf Channel image)
THIS SHOULD BE A GOOD ONE. Here's the preview from Golf Channel, including a short clip at bottom:
David Feherty engages Irishman and three-time major championship winner Padraig Harrington in, arguably, his series’ most insightful and candid interview to date on the next episode of Feherty, Monday at 10 p.m. ET on Golf Channel. 
Feherty was fascinated by Harrington’s vast knowledge and articulation on a range of subjects from his golf swing to statistics, the yips, the Olympics, Irish politics and the perfect cup of hot tea. 
A scratch golfer by the age of 16, Harrington turned pro at 24 after graduating from college with a degree in accounting (he correctly calculated the withholding from his first winning check at the 1996 Spanish Open). He was one of the hottest players of the last decade, having won back-to-back Open Championships and the PGA Championship in 2007-08. But his game has since declined, which he discusses in detail with Feherty, saying much of the attrition has been due to the USGA’s change to the groove rule. Harrington tells Feherty, “What’s changed my game was 2010, when everything went downhill. The groove rule changed. I used the old groove rule to the absolute limit.” 
Other topics Harrington covers on the show include his major championship victories and how winning majors is a double-edged sword; his view that sports psychologists prey on the vulnerability of golfers; his thoughts about golf’s return to the Olympics in 2016; and how he isn’t happy unless he’s torturing himself to get better.