Tuesday, July 7

2015 Open Championship Odds: Jordan Spieth at 5/1

WILL JORDAN SPIETH WIN THE OPEN Championship, the third leg of the Grand Slam? It almost seems unthinkable, but so did the U.S. Open at maligned Chambers Bay until young Spieth persevered.

With Rory McIlroy hampered with an ankle injury, Bovada has now installed Spieth as the Open favorite at the Home of Golf, St. Andrews. Following are the current odds.

Odds To Win The Open Championship 2015 - St Andrews, Scotland
Jordan Spieth               5/1 
Rory McIlroy                 9/1 
Dustin Johnson             12/1 
Justin Rose                   16/1 
Adam Scott                  18/1 
Henrik Stenson              20/1 
Louis Oosthuizen           20/1 
Tiger Woods                 22/1 
Jason Day                    25/1 
Martin Kaymer               25/1 
Phil Mickelson               25/1 
Rickie Fowler                25/1 
Sergio Garcia                25/1 
Bubba Watson              28/1 
Paul Casey                   28/1 
Hideki Matsuyama         33/1 
Branden Grace              35/1 
Patrick Reed                 40/1 
Shane Lowry                 40/1 
Brandt Snedeker           50/1 
Brooks Koepka             50/1 
Charl Schwartzel            50/1 
Graeme McDowell         50/1 
Ian Poulter                    50/1 
Jimmy Walker               50/1 
Lee Westwood              50/1 
Luke Donald                 50/1 
Matt Kuchar                  50/1 
Bernd Wiesberger          66/1 
Billy Horschel                66/1 
Francesco Molinari        66/1 
Jim Furyk                      66/1 
Zach Johnson               66/1 
Danny Willett                 80/1 
Hunter Mahan                80/1 
Jamie Donaldson          80/1 
Jason Dufner                80/1 
JB Holmes                    80/1 
Keegan Bradley             80/1 
Victor Dubuisson          80/1 
Webb Simpson             80/1 
Angel Cabrera               100/1 
Chris Wood                   100/1 
Ernie Els                       100/1 
Gary Woodland             100/1 
Harris English                100/1 
Padraig Harrington        100/1 
Stephen Gallacher         100/1 

Monday, July 6

Shane Lowry on Rory's Injury: 'Not the End of the World'

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy via Instagram.
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.


Golf news from Brian Keogh's
Irish Golf Desk.
RORY MCILROY MIGHT MISS THE OPEN Championship and the US PGA but Irishman and world No. 46 Shane Lowry reckons the Holywood star should not be crucified for playing football with his mates. The Clara star, who was speaking at his announcement as the new brand ambassador for Heaton's Irish golfing apparel Kartel, heard the news on Saturday and reckons people should try and keep things in perspective.

Lowry said: "It's not ideal for him because he's wearing that boot and he's going to have everyone in the media on his back now. But should he be playing football? I don't know. He likes playing football, and he likes playing football with his mates. What's wrong with that?

"I mean, he's only 25 or 26. It's a case of, 'let's go out for a kickaround'; 'yeah, no problem'.

"People think because you're good at something you should just do that and focus on that, but that's not what life is about. Obviously his career's after suffering now because of it, but it's not the end of the world. No one's after dying."

McIlroy is a doubt for the Open after totally rupturing an ankle ligament playing football with friends.

The world No 1, 26, wrote on Instagram: "Total rupture of left ATFL (ankle ligament) and associated joint capsule damage in a soccer kickabout with friends. Continuing to assess extent of injury and treatment plan day by day. Rehab already started."

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 3

Course Strategy: When Stupid Is Smart

By Charles Prokop

Copyright © Charles Prokop. All rights reserved. Used with permission.


I GENERALLY TRY TO PLAY A HOLE in the way that makes the most sense to my game. I'm more likely to lay up than try the heroic shot because the long run payoff is higher for me, even if the short run thrill is lower. I'll try to hit the fairway rather than cut distance off in the rough because I feel better about a long shot with a predictable lie.

But I think I've finally found the hole where my rules don’t apply.

(Image via VancityAllie-Flickr)
The 5th hole on my regular course is a 378-yard dogleg left par 4. Trees line the narrow fairway down to the dogleg. Hit the perfect drive down the middle to the center of the dogleg and you have a 100 yard or so wedge into the green. Hit it a little too far, and you catch a fairway bunker. A little too short, and trees block your shot to the green. You can hit it over the trees if you are in the perfect spot, but it's a very small spot. There are also a few places in the fairway you can hit short of the dogleg and then hit a short iron through gaps in the trees, but these are also small spots.

Out of bounds hugs the right side just past the trees, and the ground in the right rough slopes severely toward OB. To the left is a line of trees, a cart path, and a waste area extending to the dogleg. The waste area is dotted with small bushes. To the left of the waste area are more trees.

For years I tried to hit the fairway. Sometimes I had a shot to the green, but I hit a lot of trees, occasional out-of-bounds shots, and many good drives that gave me no shot. I tried irons to safe spots, but the fairway slopes and doesn't hold predictably enough for the ball to stop at a predictable distance, so irons were a crap shoot.

So I got stupid.

I now just bang the ball as far as I can over the trees on the left and down the waste area. If I miss the bushes, I have a little punch and roll shot into the green. My scores have been much better on average. I never go out of bounds, and an unplayable drop from a bush still gives me a chance at a par putt after a decent approach shot.

So what's the lesson here?

I have no idea. I guess I'll keep trying to play my version of smart, but stay ready to welcome flashes of stupidity.

Charles Prokop is a clinical psychologist who writes about golf at fairwaywords.

Thursday, July 2

Golf on TV: The Greenbrier Classic and Alstom Open de France

The following edited content was supplied by Golf Channel in a news release.

PGA TOUR

The Greenbrier Classic
Dates: July 2-5
Venue: The Greenbrier Resort (The Old White TPC), White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         4-7 p.m. (Live) / 7:30-10:30 p.m. (Replay)
Friday              4-7 p.m. (Live) / 7:30-10:30 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday          1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-11 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday            1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 7-11:30 p.m. (Replay)

On CBS (Eastern):
Saturday: 3-6 p.m.
Sunday: 3-6 p.m.

Broadcast Notes

Cabrera defends: Angel Cabrera finished two shots ahead of George McNeil for his third career PGA TOUR win.

Headlining the field: Bubba Watson, Tiger Woods, Patrick Reed, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Kevin Kisner, J.B. Holmes, Russell Henley, Steve Stricker, Webb Simpson and Bill Haas.

* * *

EUROPEAN TOUR

Alstom Open de France
Dates: July 2-5                                                                                        
Venue: Le Golf National (Albatros Course), Paris, France

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         4:30-7:30 a.m. / 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Live)
Friday              4:30-7:30 a.m. / 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Live)
Saturday          8 a.m.-Noon (Live)
Sunday            7:30 a.m.-Noon (Live)

Broadcast Notes

McDowell defends: Graeme McDowell edged Kevin Stadler and Thongchai Jaidee by one stroke to earn his 10th career European Tour victory.

Headlining the field: Graeme McDowell, Martin Kaymer, Victor Dubuisson, Brendan Steele, Lee Westwood, Alexander Levy, Darren Clarke, Jamie Donaldson and Paul McGinley.

Wednesday, July 1

VIDEO: 'A Season of Woe for Woods'



TIGER WOODS IS BACK IN ACTION this week at the Greenbrier Classic in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Tiger will play his first two rounds alongside pal Steve Stricker and David Lingmerth, winner of the Memorial about a month ago.

Judging from the 33-second Golf Channel clip (above) that summarizes Tiger's 2015 season to date, there's only one direction to go -- up.

"We want the old Tiger back," Stricker said yesterday.

I think playing all four tournament rounds this week is a good goal for Woods.

Tuesday, June 30

A 57 With 3 Aces in Virginia

PATRICK WILLS, A 59-YEAR-OLD AMATEUR, had a pretty good day recently at Laurel Hill Golf Club in Lorton, Virginia. Playing in the Summer Solstice tournament with his sons Charlie (29) and Christopher (27) and Matthew Ghormley, the former Marine shot a 57 that included three holes-in-one, two of them coming on par-4 holes.

"When we got to the green I looked down and I don't even know what I felt -- I was dumbfounded," Wills told BBC Sport about recording his third ace of the round. "I don't know if I broke out in joy such was the disbelief. It was unreal. I had never experienced anything like that before."

The odds of making three 1's in a single round are astronomical -- "well into the billions," reported BBC Sport.

Laurel Hill golf director Gene Orrico verified the scorecard.

"I was shocked," Orrico said. "I have been around golf for a long time, read the stories, and to have three [holes-in-one] in one round is incredible. Patrick has been around a long time, he is an honourable man and well respected."

The 57 on the par-71 layout was the middle round, one of three 18s played on the same day. In the first round Wills scraped it around in 68. (Ha ha.) He closed with a 66 for a 14-under total and his 20th victory in the Summer Solstice tournament. He is a plus-4 handicap who has now recorded more than 20 aces, all in tournaments.

BBC Sport has a detailed writeup of Wills' 57.

Monday, June 29

Retired Golf Broadcaster Peter Oosterhuis Has Alzheimer's



A FIXTURE ON GOLF BROADCASTS SINCE 1995, Peter Oosterhuis was not flashy or particularly chatty as a golf announcer and analyst for the BBC, CBS Sports and Golf Channel, which is what I liked about him. Oosterhuis just went about the job without an excess of words or calling attention to himself.

In May, at an event for the Jim Nantz Alzheimer's Center, Oosterhuis, 67, publicly announced that he has Alzheimer's disease. (Golf World released the above video today.)

"It's a horrible disease," said Roothie Oosterhuis, Peter's wife. "It not only affects Peter. It affects me, it affects our children, it affects our grandchildren, it affects our friends.

"It took nine months for us to accept the fact that Peter has this. He is, as always, elegant and amazing in standing up to the situation."

Contrary to what I wrote above, I suppose Oosterhuis is calling attention to himself in this instance, but it's a brave call for the right reasons. Oosterhuis will be openly sharing about his personal challenge with a disease our society needs to understand better, and also helping to raise awareness and perhaps research money along the way.

As you may know, Oosterhuis was a good player -- a member of six European Ryder Cup teams and winner of more than 20 worldwide titles.

"Golf has been a big part of my life ever since I was a little boy growing up in England," Oosterhuis said when he retired in January, "and I thank CBS and Golf Channel for allowing me to continue in the sport after my playing days were over."

Friday, June 26

Looking for Bobby Locke's Famous Hickory-Shafted Putter (Conclusion)

The mystery surrounding Bobby Locke's hickory-shafted putter included a high-profile golf auction. Read Part 1.
John Coyne concludes his two-part series on the mysterious search for the hickory-shafted putter used by Bobby Locke, the South African golf legend who won four British Opens and entered the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1977. Read Part 1.

By John Coyne

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


"FROM 1953 TO 1955,"  ACCORDING to Bobby Locke's nephew Alfred Pratt, "Bobby Locke made routine visits to the Slazengers works at Horbury, Yorkshire, for technical and business reasons. Alfred Pratt was also at Horbury and employed by the company.

While at the factory, Pratt says, Bobby was persuaded to switch from using the "Dunlop 65" golf ball to the "Slazengers B51."

Also, Locke agreed to have a replica putter be manufactured by Slazengers as a precautionary measure in case he lost his famous putter. "Bobby agreed that replica proto-types be made," says Pratt, "and the company considered that there might be a market for such replicas and the proto-types could serve to calculate production costs."

Bobby Locke in 1955.
(Image courtesy of Alfred Pratt)
The main problem was that, by those times, stainless steel golf-club heads were all "drop-forged" and not hand-forged, blacksmith style. The slim shafts to fit were exclusively steel. There was, in fact, a steel-shafted, "Bobby Locke Triple Crown" putter already in standard production. The head was shaped on the form of the original, as near as could be. A quantity of suitable heads was obtained for grinding and finishing with special hosels for drilling out to accommodate the thicker, tapered, hickory shafts, secured with the usual rivet pin. The American hickory timber also had to be especially imported for making into shafts.

Six or more hickory-shafted putters were manufactured as specified with shiny stainless steel heads and inscribed/stamped "Bobby Locke" and "Slazengers" for him for testing and choice. After trying out the samples, Locke selected several of these as a gift from the manufacturer. 

Pratt believes one of these came up for sale as part of his memorabilia sale at Christies in 1993. A similar putter belonging to a mutual friend, Wing Commander Derek Graham, was a personal gift from Locke as a token of friendship in the 1950s and 1960s. Pratt thinks also that another replica went to Steve Pyles.

As Pratt states now: "If the head is stainless steel and it has 'Bobby Locke' on the blade, it is a replica without doubt."

On the Internet there is a statement that the famous hickory-shafted putter is in the possession of Des Froneman, "a great friend" of Locke's. However, it has a blade with "Gradidge" stamped on the sole, according to Pratt. It was accompanied by a letter of provenance from Mary Locke. This letter says: "My daughter and I have heard from Colin Taitz that you bought one of our dear Bobby's putters which we had promised to give Colin for his auction before he left us."

The letter does not say that this putter is his antique one but is "one of" his.

Tragic Plight of Locke's Wife and Daughter

Mary Locke was Bobby's second wife. He married her in 1958 and their daughter Carolyn Locke was born in 1960. The two women owned Bobby Locke Place—a section of central city of Johannesburg that had been renamed in Locke's honor. The city complex included 20 apartments and a swimming pool, all built in a 1940s architecture style. 

After Bobby Locke's death in 1987, and the decline of Johannesburg at the end of apartheid, the central city, where the complex was located, was caught up in a wave of crime, drugs and prostitution and white-flight from the city. The character and climate of central Johannesburg changed dramatically and the two women were trapped managing their buildings as that part of the city crumbled around them.

Unable to sell the property, with its value plummeting, the mother and daughter were alone and lost in poverty, and in 2000, shocking the golf world of South Africa, Mary Locke, 80, and her daughter Carolyn, 40, shared a bottle of champagne and then killed themselves.

South Africa had lost its last connection to Bobby Locke, or so they thought. 

However, nephew Alfred Pratt has returned to Cape Town to live out his life and to search for Bobby Locke's most prized possession, the old rusty putter, and to correct the errors in Locke's biography. 

"It would be a real sadness to find that Bobby Locke's old putter has, simple vanished," Pratt says today, "But perhaps it, secretly, went into his coffin with him."

Now that would be a fitting ending to the legacy of Bobby Locke and his hickory-shafted putter. A man who many consider golf's most enigmatic player.  

John Coyne is a bestselling author of three golf novels and more than 20 other books. Pay him a visit at John Coyne Books.

Related:
Uncovering the Real Bobby Locke