Saturday, September 20

Golfweek Review, Matt Adams PGA Tour Radio Interview and More

Yours truly at book party on Thursday.
SHARING MORE OF THE MEDIA on my new book, DRAW IN THE DUNES: The 1969 Ryder Cup and the Finish That Shocked the World.

"I'm really, really enjoying your book, not only for the fact that it chronicles and details what happened in 1969 at that Ryder Cup, but because you provided context and history in essence for ... how we got to there. Very, very well done. I'm very much enjoying the read."
—Matt Adams, host of Fairways of Life on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, during September 18 interview with author

Click link to listen> Interview with Matt Adams, Fairways of Life, SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio

When you click the above link, you'll see Tom Watson. Then scroll at right to my interview (Neil Sagebiel, Golf Author) with Matt.

Golfweek review (September 20):
"In 'Draw in the Dunes,' Neil Sagebiel has authored a faithful account of a match of which only 3 minutes of TV footage exists. By speaking to many of the ’69 Cup participants, Sagebiel has breathed fresh life into the rich story of a competition that had been reduced to that one charitable act." Read entire review

Click link to listen> Interview with Gene Marrano of WFIR News Talk Radio 

Play by Play story (September 22 issue):
"For the non-golf fan, 'Draw in the Dunes' may require a learning curve to read, but the Floyd author does a good job of explaining the Ryder Cup format and the sport's lingo. Then he builds drama throughout 'Draw' as it heads towards The Concession." Read entire article

Friday, September 19

Media Conference Call: Miller, Feherty, Nobilo Preview 2014 Ryder Cup

TODAY NBC SPORTS GROUP HOSTED a media conference call to preview the 2014 Ryder Cup. Golf Channel analyst Frank Nobilo, Golf Channel host David Feherty and NBC/Golf Channel lead analyst Johnny Miller were on the phone sharing their thoughts about the upcoming matches at Gleneagles.

Following are comments I pulled from the transcript.

JOHNNY MILLER: I obviously have to act like I don't necessarily care who wins between the two sides, but I do care. I'd like to see the U.S. finally get a win. Obviously that would be super important. I'm just really pumped to go over there. That's all I've been thinking about.

FRANK NOBILO: It looks like we're going to have another doozy. That's the way it looks from my point of view.

DAVID FEHERTY: Well, it's the greatest event in golf for me. I don't think there's any more stress in any other event because players are used to playing their own ball for their own needs, and all of a sudden you've got 11 guys and a captain and your entire country or continent, as it turns out in Europe.

NOBILO: ... They've [the Europeans] always been the perennial underdog, and even though on paper this year they might look slightly superior, I think the old Winston Churchill attitude comes in, I think they'd like to be underdogs, even if they're not, because they play better that way. There's such a fine line between trying to lose and trying to win, and I think that's always been the difference for the European side. When you have your back against the wall, you just fight, and that's what I think has always made them so dangerous, and they would never be complacent.

MILLER: I just think that all the world when they get a chance to beat the United States, it's a big deal. I'm not trying to sound pompous there, but I just think it's so much fun for Europe to beat the U.S., and it used to be Europe wanted to beat the U.S. but they were scared to death of the players, and then when Europe joined in with Seve and the boys, I just think that they, again, loved to beat the U.S. When they started beating them, they just wanted to beat them right into the ground.

FEHERTY: I think that it's going to be a lot closer than perhaps many people think. If you look at the U.S. Team, only one of their players has a winning record. Only four of the European team have a losing record. But it's been a contest that over the years where the underdog, the team with nothing to lose, if you like, has played so well on occasions that it wouldn't surprise me if this young team of Americans gets really inspired and is really hard to beat.

MILLER: My slant on it is that Europe is definitely more of a family and they love the Ryder Cup matches. They just cannot wait. I mean, the press starts talking about the Ryder Cup the week after the Ryder Cup, and it's two years away. It's just a love fest. It's a team love fest. I think the U.S. -- they like each other and they get to know each other better, but I think it's more of a gotta-win type of -- it's not so much that I love to put my thumb out there and hit it with a hammer.

Does Team USA Have a Prayer?


IT'S HARD TO BELIEVE THE U.S. Ryder Cup team hasn't won on European soil since 1993. Those matches were played at The Belfry in England, and the man who sank the clinching putt, Davis Love III, is making his Champions Tour debut this week in Hawaii. The U.S. captain was Tom Watson. The final score was United States 16 1/2, Europe 11 1/2.

Winning five of six and seven of nine, it has been all Europe since then. America has won the Ryder Cup just once in the 21st century. That lone victory was at Valhalla in 2008, with Paul Azinger at the helm.

I now have some golf friends across the pond who are unabashed European team supporters. They don't hold back, telling me in no uncertain terms to expect another European victory.

One friend asked me if I was coming to the Ryder Cup. When I told him no, he said, "Personally, I believe it would have been a wasted visit. The USA will definitely come in second...and in a two-horse race that's no consolation!"

I exchanged tweets with another friend.

Me: Asked a friend how he thought the 2014 Ryder Cup stacked up. "The US is going to get killed!" he said. Is he right? #RyderCup

Him: Yes, sorry Neil, he's right

Me: On other hand, no one has ever won the #RyderCup on paper. Being underdogs should help the U.S., maybe free them up a bit.

Him: Maybe indeed but we will soon know the outcome

Asked for my pick in a recent interview, I said, "I know they're underdogs, but I'm going to pick the United States. I think they need to win one, and that would be good for the Ryder Cup after a period of European dominance."

Perhaps it's only wishful thinking.

Thursday, September 18

BBC Sport: Greatest Ryder Cup Moments

A photograph of the 1969 Great Britain Ryder Cup team, including autograph of Peter Alliss (second from left).
Others from left to right: Christy O'Connor Sr. Alex Caygill, Brian Barnes, Captain Eric Brown, Peter Townsend,
Bernard Gallacher, Bernard Hunt, Tony Jacklin, Brian Huggett, Peter Butler and Neil Coles. (Uniquely Sporting)





ON WEDNESDAY BBC SPORT PUBLISHED "Ryder Cup: Pick your greatest moment from our top 10." BBC Sport wrote:
Tense, thrilling, fun, frenetic, sometimes controversial, always absorbing, the Ryder Cup throws up some of sport's most iconic and enduring memories. 
The biennial tussle between Europe and the USA has a back catalogue of classic moments and BBC Sport have selected 10 of the greatest.
Topping BBC Sport's list was the 1969 Ryder Cup and "The Concession" featuring Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin, which is chronicled in my new book, DRAW IN THE DUNES: The 1969 Ryder Cup and the Finish That Shocked the World.

Nicklaus and Jacklin collaborated on a foreword for DRAW IN THE DUNES in which they explain their friendship and the compelling circumstances that led to the iconic moment.

The 1969 Ryder Cup was the closest competition in Cup history, with 17 of 32 matches finishing on the final hole, and five more at the 17th. There was controversy, acrimony, a little bit of everything, including a "shocking" conclusion. The 32 matches at Royal Birkdale ended in the first draw in Ryder Cup history.

In the third edition of his classic book The Story of American Golf, legendary golf writer Herbert Warren Wind wrote, "Many people felt this was the best Ryder Cup Match of all time, and no doubt it was."

Wednesday, September 17

Web.com Tour Championship: 25 PGA Tour Cards at Stake

By Golf Channel Communications

ORLANDO, Fla. (September 16, 2014) – Twenty-five 2014-15 PGA TOUR cards are on the line at week’s end as the 2014 Web.com Tour season concludes at TPC Sawgrass’ Dye’s Valley course with the Web.com Tour Championship. Players will receive cards based on their cumulative play in the four Web.com Tour Finals events. An additional 25 cards will be awarded on Sunday to “The 25”those Web.com Tour players already having secured their PGA TOUR cards for 2014-15 during the Web.com Tour regular season.

20-time PGA TOUR winner Davis Love III makes his Champions Tour debut at the Pacific Links Hawaii Championship, which will air live and in primetime on Golf Channel Friday-Sunday.

Stacy Lewis defends her 2012 title (no event in 2013) at the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic, where she finished two shots ahead of Lexi Thompson for her second career victory in the state of Alabama.

European Ryder Cup team members Lee Westwood, Thomas Bjorn, Jamie Donaldson and Stephen Gallacher are in the field at the ISPS Handa Wales Open as a final tune up before next week’s Ryder Cup at Gleaneagles in Scotland. Third and final round coverage of the Asian Tour’s Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters in Malaysia also will air on Golf Channel on Saturday and Sunday morning.

Golf Auction of Jack Fleck Collection (631 Items)



JACK FLECK DIED ON MARCH 21. At times it still doesn't seem real to me.

Jack called me a lot when I was working on my first book, THE LONGEST SHOT: Jack Fleck, Ben Hogan, and Pro Golf's Greatest Upset at the 1955 U.S. Open. We had great conversations. He told me a lot, some of which was not for publication. I'm glad he reached the point where he trusted me. I also usually saw Jack a couple of times a year at Champions Tour events.

Fleck's Ben Hogan 3 and 4 woods
and Tommy Armour driver.
Jack collected a lot of neat golf stuff during his 70-plus years as a golf professional. Now it's up for auction, including the two Ben Hogan fairway woods and the Tommy Armour driver he used in the 1955 U.S. Open, where he stunned four-time Open champion Ben Hogan in an 18-hole playoff. (In a strange twist, Jack was the first player to win with Hogan clubs, beating the legend himself.) I held those clubs in my hands at Jack's Fort Smith, Arkansas, home. Considering their age, they were in very good condition.

The current bid for the three woods at right is $1,650.

Of course, there's a lot more: Jack's contestant pin for the 1950 U.S. Open at Merion (where Hogan won after the near-fatal automobile accident), a signed letter to Jack from President Dwight Eisenhower, photos, various golf clubs, trophies and a plethora of other golf memorabilia.

The auction closes in 11 days.

UPDATE: Not all 631 items of the Jack Fleck Collection are available in this auction. There will be a total of four auctions leading up to the 2015 Masters. This is the first one.

Tuesday, September 16

Ultra Competitive and Courteous: Explaining Jack Nicklaus

WITH A NEW BOOK ON THE 1969 RYDER CUP and that famous last-hole concession by Jack Nicklaus, I set up Google alerts for the appropriate topics. An article popped up in July that I believe captures the essence of Nicklaus, who I consider to be the greatest golfer of all time.

I've always been fascinated by Nicklaus's dual qualities of extreme competitiveness that led to 18 major championship wins and his unfailing graciousness in the heat of the battle, and just after, whether he won or narrowly lost. His outward appearance and behavior were the same in either situationexemplary.

In an article in The Australian about the win-at-all-costs mentality of footballer Luis Suarez, Matthew Syed shared an anecdote about Jack Nicklaus that explains his greatness. I believe it also explains how a 29-year-old Nicklaus was able to concede a missable putt to Tony Jacklin that decided the outcome of the 1969 Ryder Cup.
I WAS once invited for tea with Jack Nicklaus at a hotel next to St Andrews. He greeted me with courtesy, showed me to a seat, and then poured. He was kind, discursive and humane. Almost old-worldly. This sense of decency characterised the way he played the game, too. He respected the rules, respected his opponents and generally conducted himself with honour. At the 1969 Ryder Cup, he conceded a crucial putt to Tony Jacklin on the final green, an act that has, to many, become synonymous with the elusive spirit of golf. 
Now, here is something else about Nicklaus that is, perhaps, even more striking: he was a winner. In the way he swung his clubs, he was ruthless. He nailed important putts and he rarely missed the green when a major championship was approaching its climax. He ended up winning 18, a record that may not be surpassed for some time. 
Do you see the distinction, here? 
Nicklaus, like Tom Watson and others, was vindictive, but in a wonderfully limited sense. He was ruthless with his clubs rather than with his manner. He wanted to win, but never tried to punch anyone who got the better of him. He was ultra-driven, but grasped the subtle truth that ambition can never be an excuse for betraying one’s values.

Monday, September 15

Weary Rory Regrets Not Taking a Week Off

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
RORY MCILROY'S BRILLIANT US SEASON did not get the fairytale finish he'd hope for as he produced a tired final round performance in the Tour Championship in Atlanta that cost him a chance to win the FedEx Cup and a $10m bonus. Regretting his decision to play all four playoff events rather than take a break last week, five dropped shots in a mid-round six-hole stretch fatally holed McIlroy's title bid below the waterline.

While he birdied three of his last four holes to camouflage the result somewhat and salvage some pride with a one over 71 that left him tied for second with Jim Furyk, it will gall McIlroy that he wasn't a factor coming down the stretch.

Back-to-Back Billy

Billy
A brilliant Billy Horschel won in back to back weeks to claim the FedEx Cup and an $11.44m payday — perfect timing for him and his expectant wife Brittany but bad timing for US Ryder Cup skipper Tom Watson in terms of the captain's picks that went to Webb Simpson, Hunter Mahan and Keegan Bradley. Horschel, or Chris Kirk, who was second in the FedEx Cup final standings ahead of McIlroy and fourth in Atlanta, will be watching the action at Gleneagles on TV, if at all.

"It's been a long four weeks. You know, if I had to do it all over again, I probably would have taken a week off somewhere in this stretch of tournaments," McIlroy said after finishIng three shots behind Horschel, who shot a 68 to win on 11 under. He has now earned $13.48m in three weeks.

Still, the double bogey on the sixth and the bogeys at the ninth, 10th and 11th will leave a sour taste for a few days even if he did finish third in the FedEx Cup standings in the end.

"I just got really frustrated and just couldn’t muster the energy to try and get something going again," McIlroy said. "And even when I was hitting good shots, I was hitting bad putts. I’m happy I made those three birdies coming in. It jumped me up the leaderboard a little bit and at least finished the day respectably."

He admitted on Saturday night that he was "weary" coming into the week but while not playing with his A game, he somehow managed to battle his way into a share of the lead with Horschel with a round to go. After 10 holes, he confessed afterwards, his chance of winning the tournament or the FedEx Cup had gone.

Having won the BMW Championship in Denver last week and finishing runner-up in the Deutsche Bank Championship the week before, 27-year old Horschel turned a modest season into a sensational one in the space of three weeks. He'd had just two top-10s all season as McIlroy swept all before him and even missed the cut in The Barclays, the first of the four consecutive FedEx Cup playoff events.

A putting tip from his coach turned things around and he was an impressive and deserving winner.

Asked about his season overall, McIlroy added: "To win two majors, my first WGC event and give it a real good run in these FedEx events, I'm really proud of myself the way I hung in there and dug deep the last few weeks. When I look back on the year as a whole it's been my best year to date so I can't complain."

Resting for Ryder Cup

"I’m looking forward to a few days off and not seeing my golf clubs for a little while. I've been in the gym every day this week and that’s fine, but mentally I’m a little fatigued. Billy deserved it, he played the best golf all week."

McIlroy should be physically perfect for the Ryder Cup but how sharp he will be remains to be seen after the most successful summer of the is career, FedEx Cup disappointment notwithstanding.

"There's a few guys I'm glad I'm not going to see at Gleneagles: him (Horschel), Ryan Palmer, Chris Kirk. There's a few guys that are playing well that aren't on this U.S. team that obviously had a great chance to make it."

As for FedEx Cup fatigue being a factor in Scotland, he said: "I think a week off will do a lot of us a world of good. It really will."

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