Friday, October 2

Friday Golf Shot: Johnny Goodman

Johnny Goodman at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts.
(Courtesy of Boston Public Library, Lester Jones Collection, via Flickr)

JOHNNY GOODMAN WAS THE LAST AMATEUR to win the U.S. Open. Goodman won at Olympic Fields in 1933, edging Ralph Guldahl by a stroke. He had already made a name for himself. At the age of 19 Goodman beat Bobby Jones in the first round of the 1929 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach. Goodman later won the U.S. Amateur in 1937 and is credited with at least 60 tournament victories, according to Wikipedia.

The son of Lithuanian immigrants and orphaned when he was 14, Goodman grew up poor in Omaha, Nebraska, where today there is a golf course named after him.

Michael Blaine wrote a fine biography of Goodman published in 2006. It's called The King of Swings: Johnny Goodman, the Last Amateur to Beat the Pros at Their Own Game.

Thursday, October 1

Falling: Stock Market, Gas Prices and Elite Golfers in World Rankings


As Golfweek reported, name players are dropping in the Official World Golf Ranking. Obviously, Tiger Woods is the most famous and dramatic example, but there are plenty of others.

"How tough is it to maintain a high world ranking?" wrote Golfweek. "Well, more than 25 percent of those who began the year in the top 50 are now on the other side."

Following are some examples.

Tiger Woods was 32nd and is now 299th.

Graeme McDowell was 15th and is now 71st.

Victor Dubuisson was 17th and is now 57th.

Keegan Bradley was 28th and is now 53rd.

Joost Luiten was 29th and is now 66th.

Ryan Moore was 30th and is now 51st.

Luke Donald was 33rd and is now 60th.

Steve Stricker was 33rd and is now 170th.

Stephen Gallacher was 35th and is now 96th.

Thomas Bjorn was 36th and is now 142nd.

Jason Dufner was 38th and is now 101st.

Miguel Angel Jimenez was 40th and is now 60th.

Mikko Ilonen was 47th and is now 117th.

John Senden was 49th and is now 62nd.

As Golfweek noted, Graeme McDowell's ranking is his worst since mid-2008 and the last time Jason Duffner was outside the top 100 was in January 2011.

No doubt, it's very tough to stay near the top.

Wednesday, September 30

Jordan Spieth to Caddie: 'You Need to Yell at Me'

ABOVE: Caddie Michael Greller (left) with Jordan Spieth.

ESPN.COM'S MICHAEL COLLINS, A FORMER CADDIE, filed another edition of "Caddie Confidential." Only this week, it's not confidential. Michael Greller openly talks about what it's like to be Jordan Spieth's caddie, especially during this milestone season.

"Three years ago I'm literally in my sixth-grade class teaching ya know?" Greller told Collins. "And here I am talking to you guys about my boss that's won two majors, a FedEx and everything else."

This player and caddie have developed a special relationship. Among other things, Collins asked, "When did you feel comfortable enough to give him a verbal kick in the pants?"

Greller said:
Like this year at the John Deere, he told me on Thursday. He said, "Michael, you need to yell at me." And he'll tell me that I need to, in so many words, grab him by the [he's searching for PG rated words] neck. And get his head right. He'll give me permission to. 
And it's weird, like your boss is telling you to yell at him! And it's just a strange thing, but there's times when you gotta do that. You have to have faith and trust in your relationship and know he's not gonna take it personally just like when he is upset with me, I can't take it personally. And that's been something we've both made adjustments to over the past three years.
Read the full Q&A at

Tuesday, September 29

VIDEO: 'Never Say Die – The Jason Day Story'


THIS MINI-DOCUMENTARY ABOUT JASON DAY is nicely done, well worth 10 minutes if you want to learn about Day's background and unlikely climb to the No. 1 ranking in golf.

From Day's sponsor RBC:
Jason Day’s journey to the top of the golf world is unlike anyone else's. From humble beginnings in Australia, Jason overcame adversity to find his path through hard work and dedication. Through exclusive, behind-the-scenes access Jason's story is shared with the world for the first time here. We're proud to call Jason a member of Team RBC.

Monday, September 28

'Major' Week Caps Major Year for Jordan Spieth

"THIS IS INCREDIBLE," SAID JORDAN SPIETH after wrapping up his fifth PGA Tour victory of the year at the season-ending Tour Championship.

In fact, you could say Spieth put a wrap on everything, also winning the FedEx Cup worth $10 million, returning to No. 1 in the world (displacing Jason Day, who was on top for one week), putting an exclamation point on Player of the Year (although it's not official), winning the Vardon Trophy and finishing the season with record earnings.

I could think of other adjectives, but I suppose Spieth's "incredible" will do. As NBC golf anlayst Johnny Miller said more than once, "You just got to keep reminding yourself this guy is 22 years old."

Spieth is hyper-motivated. After winning the year's first two majors, contending in the other two and winning a pair of other tour events, the young Texan could have coasted through the dregs of the PGA Tour season.

But no.

"This is an event where we approach it like a major championship because we know this is possible at the end of it," Spieth said. "We didn't have a great playoffs but we put a lot of hard work into this week. I was out here early Monday morning. We approached it as if it was a major, and mentally we stayed in it even when I didn't have my best ball striking. Boy that putter sure paid off."

The hints of greatness are in that answer. Like the legends, Spieth wins without his best. Hard work, mental approach, competitiveness and "that putter" lift Spieth to greater heights than his extremely accomplished peers.

Poor Henrik Stenson. Did you see the looks on his face as Spieth dropped putts from every distance on East Lake's slick greens?

"I got frustrated," Spieth said about his play in recent weeks.

"I missed two cuts in a row. I had never done that. I lost the number one ranking. I was watching Jason Day just dominate golf. It was frustrating so I got to work. Put my head down a little more right after the PGA knowing we could still peak this week and that is what we did."

"Unreal." That was Spieth's adjective for his year.

"I don't know how we sit down and figure out how to improve on it," he said, "but we are going to try to do that."

That will be fun to watch.

Friday, September 25

Friday Golf Shot: Playing for Trophies

Gary C / Flickr Public Domain

AT THE TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP IN ATLANTA, Rory McIlroy was asked about the pot of gold at the end of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. A cool $10 millon. Rory said:
No, money's never motivated me. It's never been a motivating factor in my life. My dad and mom together probably earned I don't know, 40, 50 grand a year. Combined. That was sort of our household income.

So it was never really a motivating factor to me because we never had that much to begin with. So, I probably don't -- I mean starting off, I started earning money at 18 years old and earning quite a lot, so I probably don't appreciate the value of money like some other people do. It's just never been that important to me. It's nice, it's nice to have it. It's nice to have that security for your future and for your family's future, I guess. But if I wanted to get into golf for the money, I would be in it for the wrong reasons.
Then it must be about the trophies. Of course, Rory is playing for different trophies than the rest of us.

(H/T Bernard Daily)

Thursday, September 24

Golf on TV: TOUR Championship, Nature Valley First Tee Open, Porsche European Open

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

The PGA TOUR’s FedExCup Playoffs conclude this week at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, being contested at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. The field is comprised of the top-30 players in the FedExCup standings, with the top-five in the standings (Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson and Bubba Watson) in position to automatically win the FedExCup and accompanying $10 million prize with a victory this week.

The Champions Tour is in California where 81 professionals will team with junior golfers representing 55 local First Tee chapters throughout the United States. Fred Couples, Tom Watson, Davis Love III and Colin Montgomerie headline the field.

The European Tour is in Germany for the Porsche European Open, with Hunter Mahan, Graeme McDowell and Bernhard Langer headlining the field.

* * *


TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola       
Dates: Sept. 24-27
Venue: East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta, Ga.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         1-6 p.m. (Live) / 8:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. (Replay)
Friday              1-6 p.m. (Live) / 11 p.m.-4 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday          10 a.m.-Noon (Live) / 10 p.m.-3:30 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday            Noon-1:30 p.m. (Live) / 10 p.m.-3 a.m. (Replay)

Tournament Airtimes on NBC (Eastern):
Saturday         Noon-3:30 p.m. (Live)
Sunday           1:30-6 p.m. (Live)

Broadcast Notes

$10 million prize up for grabs: The 30-man field will compete for a chance to win the 2015 FedExCup, and the accompanying $10 million prize. Players sitting in the top-5 in the current standings are in position to automatically claim the FedExCup with a win this week, while those outside of the top-five must rely on how others finish for a chance at winning the title. The 30 players have earned invitations/exemptions into the 2016 Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship. Players in the field also are guaranteed at least $300,000 (30th place).

Headlining the field (current FedExCup rankings): Jason Day (1); Jordan Spieth (2); Rickie Fowler (3); Henrik Stenson (4); Bubba Watson (5); Zach Johnson (6); Dustin Johnson (7); Charley Hoffman (8); Daniel Berger (9); Patrick Reed (10); Rory McIlroy (11); Justin Rose (12); Jimmy Walker (13); Robert Streb (14); Hideki Matsuyama (15); Jim Furyk (16); J.B. Holmes (17); Kevin Kisner (18); Danny Lee (19); Scott Piercy (20); Matt Kuchar (21); Paul Casey (22); Brandt Snedeker (23); Steven Bowditch (24); Brooks Koepka (25); Bill Haas (26); Kevin Na (27); Sangmoon Bae (28); Louis Oosthuizen (29); Harris English (30).

* * *


Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach 
Dates: Sept. 25-27
Venues: Pebble Beach Golf Links; Poppy Hills Golf Course, Pebble Beach, Calif.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday              6-8:30 p.m. (Live) / 4-6 a.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday          6-9 p.m. (Live) / 3:30-6 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday            6:30-9 p.m. (Live) / 3-5 a.m. (Monday replay)

Broadcast Notes

Cook defends: John Cook defeated Tom Byrum by one stroke for his 10th career Champions Tour win.

Headlining the field: Fred Couples, Tom Watson, Davis Love III, Colin Montgomerie, Jay Haas, Vijay Singh, Jeff Maggert, Marco Dawson, Billy Andrade and Kevin Sutherland.

* * *

Porsche European Open
Dates: Sept. 24-27
Venue: Hartl Resort at Bad Griesbach (Beckenbauer Course), Bad Griesbach, Germany

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         5-7 a.m. / 9 a.m.-Noon (Live)
Friday              5-7 a.m. / 9 a.m.-Noon (Live)
Saturday          Noon-3:30 p.m. (Tape delay) / 7-11 a.m. (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Sunday            9-11 a.m. (Live)

Broadcast Notes

Cevaer defends: Christian Cevaer finished one stroke ahead of the field for his second European Tour victory.

Headlining the field: Hunter Mahan, Graeme McDowell, Bernhard Langer, Charl Schwartzel, Ben An, Jamie Donaldson, Morgan Hoffmann, Thongchai Jaidee and Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Wednesday, September 23

First Class Enters Virginia Golf Hall of Fame

I LIVE IN VIRGINIA AND WOULD say it's a good state for golf with a rich history. But until this year Virginia didn't have a golf hall of fame.

"Five legendary Virgnia golfers and a longtime volunteer rules official will be the first class of inducted into the Virginia Golf Hall of Fame," wrote Bill Millsaps in the July/August issue of Virginia Golfer. "Those being honored as the inaugural class include: Sam Snead, Vinny Giles, Curtis Strange, Lanny Wadkins, Chandler Harper and Clyde Luther."

It's a solid list. All five players are major championship winners (I'm counting the U.S. Amateur, which Giles won in 1972). And while you may have never heard of rules official Luther (I hadn't), his credentials are impeccable.

"The first inductees in the Virginia Golf Hall of Fame reflect the tradition of excellence long established in our state and represent elite achievements in golf," said Gib Palmer, president of the Virginia State Golf Association and the chair of the nine-person hall-of-fame selection committee.


Sam Snead. With 82 PGA Tour victories, including seven majors, Snead, of course, is also in the World Golf Hall of Fame. "The Slammer" was the oldest player to win a tour event. He was 52.

Vinny Giles. In addition to winning the 1972 U.S. Amateur, Giles won the British Amateur, three Virginia Opens and seven Virginia Amateurs.

Chandler Harper
Curtis Strange. Strange is the last man to win back-to-back U.S. Opens. He pulled off the rare double in 1988 and 1989. (Ben Hogan won consecutive U.S. Opens in 1950 and 1951.) Strange was also the first tour player to earn more than $1 million in a season. He is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Lanny Wadkins. Lanny's victories include a U.S. Amateur, PGA Championship and Players Championship. He played on eight U.S. Ryder Cup teams and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2009.

Chandler Harper. Born in 1914, Harper was a terrific golfer who won seven times on the PGA Tour, including the 1950 PGA Championship. He also collected a bunch of state titles (11 Virginia Opens) and was a mentor to Curtis Strange.

Clyde Luther. Luther officiated in 120 USGA championships, three Presidents Cups, the Masters and PGA Championship.