Monday, September 1

How 1969 Changed a Boy's Life and the Ryder Cup

The publication of my new book (in sidebar at right) is a week away. Players I interviewed included Jack Nicklaus, Tony Jacklin, Raymond Floyd, Peter Alliss and Billy Casper. Following is a preview of my article that will appear in my publisher's (St. Martin's Press) history blog and newsletter later this month to coincide with the start of the 2014 Ryder Cup. More to come.

1969 was a big year in my life and the life of my family. Natives of Indiana, we moved from the Hoosier state to "The Golden State."

California, here we come!

A cross-country move is a significant life event for anyone, and especially for a boy of 11. I said goodbye to my friends and traveled 2,000 miles to a strange new world in the back seat of our blue 1965 Plymouth Belvedere, my older brother alongside.

The changes were extreme: from the Ohio River Valley to the Mojave Desert, from a brick house with a walk-out basement to a one-level home made of stucco painted yellow, from neighborhood buddies to the new kid on the block who, I later found out, was supposed to get beat up not long after arriving in Palmdale. I somehow dodged that fight.

My few memories of the summer of '69 are blurred. They include a trip to Disneyland in Anaheim. The third week of July also stands out. That was when Neil Armstrong became the first man to step onto the surface of the moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission. My family watched the historic moment in black and white on our Zenith television.

Armstrong famously said, "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind." The "a" wasn't audible, but an audio analysis nearly four decades later confirmed that he did, in fact, say the "a."

The astronaut with whom I shared a first name also was quoted as saying, "It's good country for golf up could drive a ball 2,000 feet."

I don't recall any of Armstrong's words from that long-ago summer.


That was a game my dad sometimes played on his day off. My sports were basketball and baseball. But within two years of moving to California, I was playing golf with my dad and brother. And now, 45 years later, I've written a golf story that took place during the summer of '69 and involved Hall of Fame players such as Jack Nicklaus, Tony Jacklin, Lee Trevino, Peter Alliss, Raymond Floyd, Neil Coles and Billy Casper.

That would have seemed far-fetched to the 11-year-old boy, but so did a moon walk until that other Neil visited the lunar surface on July 20, 1969.

Eight days before Armstrong walked on the moon, Tony Jacklin, a 25-year-old from the industrial town of Scunthorpe in northern England, became the first British golfer to win the British Open since Max Faulkner in 1951.

It changed his life and it changed golf, for Jacklin would go on to lead his British teammates that September against the mighty Americans in the 1969 Ryder Cup at Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, England. 

Great Britain had lost 14 of 17 Ryder Cups dating back to the official beginning in 1927 when English seeds tycoon Samuel Ryder donated the gold trophy. In September 1969, few people, British included, held out much hope for the 12 men playing for Great Britain, even though they were the home team playing a familiar style of golf on a seaside links course.

Just like America was first to the moon, it was also first in golf. In fact, at the time, the United States was seemingly first in everything.

This time, however, led by new Open champion Jacklin and fiery Captain Eric Brown, the British players didn't bow to American supremacy. What followed, according to many who witnessed it, was the most controversial and compelling Ryder Cup ever played.

Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin on September 20, 1969.
(Bob Thomas/Bob Thomas Sports Photography/Getty Images)
All tied up after three days and 31 matches, the 1969 Ryder Cup came down to the last two men in the last match putting out on the last green. The matter would be decided by Jacklin and Nicklaus. That's when one of the most famous moments in golf occurred, a rare act of sportsmanship that sealed the first tie in the 42-year history of the Ryder Cup.

Great Britain rejoiced, for a draw was nearly as sweet as a victory. The United States was far from enthusiastic about the stunning outcome. Yet, in the ensuing years and decades, most would agree the 1969 Ryder Cup had a perfect ending.

Eight players from those two 1969 teams went on to become Ryder Cup captains, including Jacklin (four times) and Nicklaus (twice).

The summer of '69 that changed one boy's life also forever changed the Ryder Cup.

The epic battle at Royal Birkdale breathed life into the matches during a period when they were struggling to survive. It also helped make the Ryder Cup what it is today--the biggest event in golf and a biennial sports event that attracts worldwide attention.

Neil Sagebiel is the author of DRAW IN THE DUNES: The 1969 Ryder Cup and the Finish That Shocked the World (September 9, 2014). It includes a foreword by Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin. Sagebiel is also the founder and editor of Armchair Golf Blog. He lives in Floyd, Virginia, with his wife and daughters.

Friday, August 29

Golf on TV: Deutsche Bank Championship, Portland Classic, Shaw Charity Classic, Italian Open

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

NBC Sports Group will provide tournament coverage of nearly 25 hours of the Deutsche Bank Championship from TPC Boston, which will contribute to the network’s more than 100 hours of live tournament and news programming of the final three FedExCup Playoffs events. Golf Channel will air early round Friday-Saturday coverage in addition to lead-in coverage on Sunday-Monday, while NBC will broadcast third and final round coverage on Sunday and Monday.

The LPGA Tour’s Portland Classic airs in primetime on Golf Channel, with Suzann Pettersen defending her 2013 title. Bernhard Langer headlines the field at the Shaw Charity Classic, the first of two consecutive events held in Canada on the Champions Tour. On the European Tour, the Italian Open will serve as the final opportunity for players to secure an automatic bid to compete on captain Paul McGinley’s European Ryder Cup team, with nine players earning a place on the team at week’s end.

(PGA Tour)
Dates: Aug. 29-Sept. 1
Venue: TPC Boston, Norton, Mass.

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday 2:30-6:30 p.m. (Live) / 11:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday 3-6:30 p.m. (Live) / 11:30 p.m.-3 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday 1-3 p.m. (Live) / 11:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m (Replay)
Monday 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live) / 8 p.m.-2:30 a.m. (Replay)

Tournament Airtimes On NBC (Eastern):
Sunday 3-6 p.m. (Live)
Monday 1:30-6 p.m. (Live)

Golf Channel Spotlight Coverage (Eastern):
Sunday 3-5 p.m. (Live)
Monday 1:30-5 p.m. (Live)

Event Notes

Friday start: Due to the holiday weekend with Labor Day falling on Monday, September 1, the Deutsche Bank Championship will begin on Friday, and conclude on Monday.

Stenson defends: Henrik Stenson finished two shots ahead of Steve Stricker for his third career PGA Tour victory in last year’s event, before eventually going on to win the 2013 FexExCup title and the $10 million prize.

Headlining the field: Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jim Furyk, Jason Day, Matt Kuchar, Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth.

* * *

(LPGA Tour)
Dates: August 28-31
Venue: Columbia Edgewater Country Club, Portland, Ore.

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 6:30-9:30 p.m. (Live)
Friday 7-9:30 p.m. (Live)
Saturday 7-9:30 p.m. (Live)
Sunday 7-9 p.m. (Live)

Event Notes

Pettersen defends: Suzann Pettersen won by two shots over Stacy Lewis for her 12th career LPGA Tour victory.

Headlining the field: Suzann Pettersen, Na Yeon Choi, Shanshan Feng, Anna Nordqvist, So Yeon Ryu, Ai Miyazato, Charley Hull, Mo Martin, Sandra Gal, Morgan Pressel and Marissa Steen.

* * *

(Champions Tour)
Dates: August 29-31
Venue: Canyon Meadows Golf & Country Club, Calgary, Canada

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday 9:30-11:30 p.m. (Tape Delay) / (Live streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Saturday 9:30-11:30 p.m. (Tape Delay) / (Live streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Sunday 9-11 p.m. (Tape Delay) / (Live streaming on Golf Live Extra)

Event Notes

Mediate defends: Rocco Mediate finished seven shots clear of the field for his second career Champions Tour win in last year’s event.

Headlining the field: Bernhard Langer, Fred Couples, Rocco Mediate, John Cook, Jay Haas, Tom Lehman, Corey Pavin, Brad Faxon and Woody Austin.

* * *

(European Tour)
Dates: August 28-31
Venue: Circolo Golf, Torino, Italy

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 5:30-7:30 a.m. / 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Live)
Friday 5:30-7:30 a.m. / 9:30 a.m.-Noon (Live)
Saturday 7-11 a.m. (Live) Sunday 7-11:30 a.m. (Live)

Event Notes

Last chance to qualify for European Ryder Cup team: This week marks the final opportunity for players to automatically qualify for the European Ryder Cup team. Nine players will earn an automatic place on the team at the conclusion of play on Sunday and captain Paul McGinley will select the final three members of his 12-man team on Tuesday, September 2, airing live on Golf Channel during Morning Drive, the network’s daily news and lifestyle program.

Quesne defends: Julien Quesne won by one shot over David Higgins and Steve Webster for his second career European Tour win.

Headlining the field: Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Darren Clarke, George Coetzee, Nicolas Colsaerts, Stephen Gallacher, Padraig Harrington, Joost Luiten, Matteo Manassero and Edoardo Molinari.

Thursday, August 28

Sean Foley, Tiger and Today's Golf Coaches

MOST OF US DON'T KNOW SEAN FOLEY, but I suppose it's easy to have opinions about him because he worked with Tiger Woods. And we've all had our fill of Tiger since the mid 1990s. There are a lot of Tiger experts.

I still don't understand why Tiger did such an extensive swing overhaul with Foley. I figure it had a lot to do with building something that would protect the knee. Tiger's line about getting better was, and is, tiresome. You don't get better at his age, especially after what he achieved from 2000 to 2008. No one has had a run like that.

Still, I don't think Foley is the bad guy, or to blame, for Tiger's decline. There have been many factors. As others have pointed out, Foley has some other thoroughbreds in the coaching stable. To name two, The Barclays winner Hunter Mahan and 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose. Those fellas have fine golf swings.

I like this snippet from Foley in a 2011 Golf Digest "My Shot."
THE IDEA that any teacher is so great, his method so perfect, that a player is suddenly going to never miss a shot, is crazy. I don't even think a terrific swing is the main goal. The great coaches--Vince Lombardi, John Wooden, Phil Jackson--are not remembered for how they drew up Xs and Os. Their players never talk about those things. What they remember are the good values they instilled, the strong work ethic and the productive approaches to life. My role to my guys, first and foremost, is to be part of their support system, to act out the things I believe in, and be there for them. That's every bit as important as what I do for their golf swings.
I think Foley is right on.

So, it makes me wonder about all the swing talk, the mechanics and such. It often seems to me that Tiger and other players get so focused on technical issues that they forget they're playing a game, swinging a club, walking a course. At a younger age, they just hit it, found it, hit it again. They swung the club with feel and athleticism. They played golf, not golf swing.

These golf and swing coaches ... aren't many of them enabling this nonsense? Foley included?

That's the way it often looks to me.

Wednesday, August 27

Stephen Ames Inducted Into Canadian Hall of Fame

Stephen Ames
STEPHEN AMES, A FOUR-TIME WINNER on the PGA Tour, was inducted into the Canadian Hall of Fame on Tuesday, reported the Champions Tour. Ames is the 74th member.

"It's hitting home a little bit now for me. It is a real honor," Ames said at the Shaw Charity Classic, an event Ames helped start.

"It's the highlight of my career right now, an added trophy to the career that I've had, which is wonderful. At this stage right now, it's something to relish."

Ames is a citizen of Canada and Trinidad and Tobago, where he was born. He still has family there. Ames's grandmother was a golf champion of the twin island country.

"The Canadian Golf Hall of Fame seeks to recognize excellence as golfers, contributors and supporters of the game," said Ian Clarke of the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame Selection Committee. "Stephen Ames has excelled on the biggest stage in our sport and it is fitting that he will be recognized for his respective accomplishments."

Ames turned 50 in April but has continued to play events on the PGA Tour, without much recent success. His four tour titles included the 2006 Players Championship, an impressive six-shot victory over runner-up Retief Goosen.

Tuesday, August 26

Dufner Is Done

JASON DUFNER IS OUT FOR THE REST of the FedEx Cup Playoffs after his withdrawal from the Deutsche Bank Championship, reported on Monday. Don't expect to see Dufner on the U.S. Ryder Cup team either. Tom Watson will announce his three captain's picks on September 2.

Jason Dufner is hurting. (Allison)
The 2013 PGA champion has been hampered by bulging disks in his neck. He received an epidural in order to play at Valhalla in the PGA Championship, but only completed 10 holes. The Auburn product was No. 74 in the FedEx Cup rankings.

"I'll play golf again when I'm healthy," Dufner said after withdrawing from the PGA Championship.

"That could be at The Barclays, that could be next year, that could be 2016. I refuse to be out here and not be healthy and not give myself a chance to be competitive."

It's looking like next year at the earliest.

Paul Casey and Graeme McDowell also dropped out of the second leg of the playoffs. McDowell became a father. "Happiest moment of my life hands down," he tweeted.

There are currently 94 players in the Deutsche Bank field. Seventy will advance to the BMW Championship at Cherry Hills in Englewood, Colorado, a Denver suburb.

Monday, August 25

Full Statement on Tiger Woods-Sean Foley Split

A coaching change for Tiger Woods. (Keith Allison)

TIGER WOODS ANNOUNCED TODAY AT TIGERWOODS.COM that he and swing coach Sean Foley have ended their professional relationship that began in 2010.

"I'd like to thank Sean for his help as my coach and for his friendship," Woods said.

"Sean is one of the outstanding coaches in golf today, and I know he will continue to be successful with the players working with him. With my next tournament not until my World Challenge event at Isleworth in Orlando, this is the right time to end our professional relationship."

"My time spent with Tiger is one of the highlights of my career so far, and I am appreciative of the many experiences we shared together," Foley said.

"It was a lifelong ambition of mine to teach the best player of all time in our sport. I am both grateful for the things we had the opportunity to learn from one another, as well as the enduring friendship we have built. I have nothing but respect and admiration for him."

"Presently, I do not have a coach, and there is no timetable for hiring one," Woods said.

Friday, August 22

Jimmy Walker: 'The Sun Will Kill You'

THE FEDEX CUP PLAYOFFS, WHICH BEGAN on Thursday with The Barclays in Paramus, New Jersey, are critical for PGA Tour players looking to solidify their playing status, collect sizable checks, or be considered for one of Tom Watson's captain's picks for the U.S. Ryder Cup team. But as Jimmy Walker knows, their importance can be suddenly diminished with a recurrence of skin cancer.

Walker, 35, is ranked second in the standings behind Rory McIlroy. He recently spent time at home recovering from minor surgery rather than getting ready for the playoffs.

The New York Times' Zach Schonbrun wrote about Walker's other on-course challenge:
Walker has a new mission, though. It is about protection and awareness, and for a fair-skinned Oklahoman with a family history of skin cancer, those elements are essential. 
“I watched what Aron Price went through, and he had melanoma, and that was bad, really, really, scary bad,” Walker said after his even-par round. “He had that removed and he’s doing great, but we’ve all got to be diligent about what we wear. The sun will kill you.” 
Price, an Australian golfer, developed the disease in different spots on his shoulder in 2011. Likewise, Walker said, he had a spot on his lip removed in 2004. That served as a reality check, and he said he thought he had been conscientious about wearing skin protection since then. 
Apparently it was not enough. During the Bridgestone Invitational this month, a biopsy on a nodule just below his left eye returned positive for basal cell carcinoma, requiring minor surgery Aug. 11.
Walker said it's a genetics thing.

His sunscreen mantra? Reapply, reapply, reapply.

Thursday, August 21

A Fun Email From Amazon

Dear Readers,

The below email from Amazon landed in my inbox a week ago.

I'm really looking forward to the Ryder Cup. I'm also really looking forward to telling you more about my new Ryder Cup book that focuses on 1969, Jack Nicklaus, Tony Jacklin and more.

Stay tuned.

All the best,

Having trouble viewing this email? Click here to see this recommendation 
Coming Soon from Neil Sagebiel for
Draw in the Dunes: The 1969 Ryder Cup and the Finish That Shocked the World

Improve your recommendations
Draw in the Dunes: The 1969 Ryder Cup and the Finish That Shocked the World 
Neil Sagebiel 
Release date: September 9, 2014
Kindle Edition$11.04 


 Learn more 
You've bought books from this author before, and you won't want to miss this new release.