Wednesday, October 29

Playing With Hogan: Fred Hawkins, Part 2

Fred Hawkins often practiced with the most feared player on the circuit—Ben Hogan. “I played a number of practice rounds with [Hogan],” Hawkins told me. “[H]e’d always ask me to come down to Fort Worth a couple of days early so he’d get a little competition [and] practice that way.” In the continuation of this series, you'll learn about Hawkins and his Hogan stories. Read Part 1.

Fred Hawkins and Ben Hogan
prior to their 1959 playoff.
FRED HAWKINS MADE HIS ONLY Ryder Cup appearance in 1957, a rare loss for the Americans during an era when they dominated the matches against Great Britain and Ireland.

“I’ve always felt that was one of the things I enjoyed the most,” he said.

That year, Hawkins was the only man on his side to win in singles, a 2 and 1 victory over Peter Alliss.

“The Ryder Cup in those years was played just two days. The first day was a 36-hole match of alternate shot and then the second day was 36 holes singles. That was all there was to it. In later years they put in more days of play and the better-ball events, too, which I think is a good improvement.

“In those days you could play either ball you wanted. I played the small ball over there [in Great Britain] because I could drive it so much farther. It sat down in the grass a little, and I like the way it putted, too.”

Hawkins missed out two years later when the matches were played at Eldorado Country Club in Palm Desert, California. “I would have been on the Ryder Cup team again in ‘59, I believe, if they had counted [the Colonial National Invitational Tournament] where Hogan beat me in the playoff,” he said.

“But at that time the tour officials were squabbling with the people at Colonial. It was not called an official tournament. Ryder Cup points didn’t count.”

* * *

Hawkins was on the losing end of what turned out to be Ben Hogan’s last PGA Tour victory and his fifth win in his hometown tournament at Colonial. It was the Hawk’s 64th title. He was 47. The two players were tied after the regulation 72 holes.

“It was an 18-hole playoff the next day,” Hawkins said, “and the wind blew about 40 miles per hour. He shot 69. I shot 73, which is a pretty good score. But he said it was the best round he ever played under those conditions.”

Colonial was one of the toughest tracks on the circuit at the time.

“It was always very narrow. It wasn’t all that long. You had to stay straight. Some of the greens were protected by trees on each side and so on. It required that you had to be very straight off the tee.”

TO BE CONTINUED.

Other Installments:
Playing With Hogan: Fred Hawkins, Part 1

Tuesday, October 28

VIDEO: Ted Bishop on Golf Channel Morning Drive

FOR THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING the tragic end to Ted Bishop's PGA of America presidency and the aftermath, Tuesday's extended Golf Channel Morning Drive interview conducted by host Gary Williams might be of interest. Had we heard these comments from Bishop four days ago I expect things would have turned out differently for the former PGA president. Bishop explains why that didn't happen and a lot more.

Ted Bishop Part 1



Ted Bishop Part 2

Monday, October 27

1st Tee — Somewhere in Australia

Australian golf.  (via Residential Golf Lessons)



Friday, October 24

2015 HOF Class Notes: Mark O'Meara



Laura Davies, David Graham, Mark O’Meara and A.W. Tillinghast will be enshrined into the World Golf Hall of Fame as the Class of 2015. Following is a profile of O'Meara.

By World Golf Hall of Fame Communications

Mark O'Meara
Golf fans will remember 1998 as the year Mark O’Meara established himself as one of the game’s greats, when he captured both the Masters and Open Championship. That season, when he birdied the final two holes at Augusta National to defeat Fred Couples and David Duval by one shot, then outlasted Brian Watts in a four-hole playoff to win at Royal Birkdale, made him, at age 41, the oldest player ever to win two majors in one year. It was no surprise when he was named the 1998 PGA TOUR Player of the Year.

His myriad career highlights go beyond those two victories, starting in 1979 when he won the U.S. Amateur at Canterbury Golf Club in Cleveland. O’Meara has more than 20 victories worldwide, and has represented the United States in five Ryder Cups and two Presidents Cups.

“Thanks go out to my family and friends on this incredible day,” O’Meara said. “To have the great honor of being inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame is a dream come true.”

Ted Bishop Authors a Bad Golf Story

Ted Bishop
IT SEEMS TO HAPPEN DAILY. A tweet or a Facebook post or other social media message enters the digital world and wreaks unnecessary havoc.

Yesterday's social media fail was authored by PGA of America President Ted Bishop. Bishop, who was spending time with golf great and former European Ryder Cup captain Nick Faldo, took exception to comments written about Faldo in Ian Poulter's new book, NO LIMITS.

Bishop tweeted to Poulter: "Faldo's record stands by itself. Six majors and all-time RC points. Yours vs. His? Lil Girl."

Then the PGA leader took to Facebook:
"Used to be athletes who had lesser records or accomplishment in a sport never criticized the icons. Tom Watson (8 majors and 10-3-1 Ryder Cup record) and Nick Faldo (6 majors and all-time Ryder Cup points leader) get bashed by Ian Poulter. Really? Sounds like a school girl squealing during recess. C'MON MAN!"
In a statement released to Golf Channel, Poulter said:
"Is being called a 'lil girl' meant to be derogatory or a put down? That's pretty shocking and disappointing, especially coming from the leader of the PGA of America. No further comment."
Bishop deleted the tweet and post and the PGA of America called the messages "inappropriate."

This is no way to lead a sport that seeks to be more inclusive. "When will the struggling golf industry realize its sexism is terrible for business?" tweeted USA Today columnist Christine Brennan. Besides that, it's just plain silly to direct post-Ryder Cup frustrations at an opposing player for all the world to see.

Bishop has made himself the story. And that story is bad for golf.

Thursday, October 23

PGA Tour Drives of More Than 400 Yards

Shawn Stefani
AT LAST WEEK'S FRYS.COM OPEN, Shawn Stefani hit a 401-yard drive on a 410-yard hole. There was a caveat: Stefani's smash was a cart-path-aided drive.

"There's no way I could have hit one of those without the help of concrete," Stefani told PGATour.com.

Another thing: "I made par," Stefani commented. "So it is what it is."

These guys who are good are also long off the tee. How long? The tour published the following chart showing drives of 400-plus yards in recent seasons.

SeasonDrives of 400+LeaderEventDistance
2013-141Bubba WatsonWGC-Bridgestone424
201319Phil MickelsonWGC-Cadillac450
201267Gary WoodlandHyundai TOC450
20119Dustin JohnsonDeutsche Bank463
201016Steve StrickerHyundai TOC424
200947Charley HoffmanValero Texas Open467
200812Bob HeintzReno-Tahoe Open435
200726Brett WetterichHyundai TOC437
200630Jason GoreHyundai TOC427
200518D.A. PointsBuick Championship442
200483Davis Love IIIHyundai TOC476

Golf on TV: McGladrey Classic, AT&T Championship, Blue Bay LPGA, ISPS Handa Perth International

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

Chris Kirk will try to defend his 2013 title in his home state this week at the McGladrey Classic in St. Simons Island, Ga., with Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson and Webb Simpson also headlining the field. 

The Champions Tour is in San Antonio for the AT&T Championship, which is the final opportunity for players to try to position themselves inside the top-30 of the season-long Schwab Cup points race, which would qualify them for next week’s season-culminating Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Arizona.

The inaugural Blue Bay LPGA in China begins on Wednesday, with Michelle Wie in the field, coming off her best finish since returning from a finger injury with last week’s T5 finish in the LPGA KEB HanaBank Championship.

Jason Dufner headlines the field in Australia at the European Tour’s ISPS Handa Perth International, making his first start since withdrawing from the PGA Championship in August with a neck injury that kept him out of the FedExCup Playoffs and the Ryder Cup.

* * *

PGA TOUR

McGladrey Classic Dates: Oct. 23-26
Venue: Sea Island Golf Club (Seaside Course), St. Simons Island, Ga.

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         2-5 p.m. (Live) / 8-11 p.m. (Replay)
Friday              2-5 p.m. (Live) / 8-11 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday          2-5 p.m. (Live) / 8-11 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday            2-5 p.m. (Live) / 8-11 p.m. (Replay)

Event Notes

Kirk defends: Chris Kirk finished one stroke ahead of Briny Baird and Tim Clark for his second career PGA TOUR win.

Headlining the field: Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson, Chris Kirk, Harris English, Bill Haas, Erik Compton, Russell Henley, Justin Leonard, Davis Love III, and Brendon Todd.

* * *
                     
CHAMPIONS TOUR

AT&T Championship
Dates: Oct. 24-26
Venue: TPC San Antonio (AT&T Canyons Course), San Antonio, Texas

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday              5-7 p.m. (Live) / 3:30-5:30 a.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday          5-7 p.m. (Live) / 3:30-5:30 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday            5-7 p.m. (Live) / Midnight-2 a.m. (Monday replay)

Event Notes

Perry defends: Kenny Perry defeated Bernhard Langer on the first playoff hole in 2013 for his fifth career Champions Tour victory at the time.

Headlining the field: Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Fred Couples, Jay Haas, Peter Jacobsen, Corey Pavin, Tom Lehman, John Cook, Kirk Triplett, Lee Janzen and David Frost.

* * *

LPGA TOUR

Blue Bay LPGA
Dates: Oct. 22-25
Venue: Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Course, Hainan Island, China

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Wednesday     11:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m. (Live) / 5:30-8 p.m. (Thursday replay)
Thursday         11:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m. (Live)   
Friday              11:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m. (Live)
Saturday          11:30 p.m.-3:30 a.m. (Live)

Event Notes

New event: This is the inaugural showing of the Blue Bay LPGA, the fourth of seven consecutive events being played outside of the United States this fall. The 72-hole event features an 81-player field with no cut.

Headlining the field: Michelle Wie, Lydia Ko, Shanshan Feng, Lexi Thompson, Anna Nordqvist, Cristie Kerr, Azahara Munoz, Mirim Lee, Jessica Korda and Caroline Hedwall.

* * *

EUROPEAN TOUR

ISPS Handa Perth International
Dates: Oct. 23-26
Venue: Lake Karrinyup Country Club, Perth Western, Australia

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         9 a.m.-1 p.m. (Tape delay)
Friday              9 a.m.-1 p.m. (Tape delay)
Saturday          6:30-10:30 a.m. (Tape delay)
Sunday            6:30-10:30 a.m. (Tape delay)

Event Notes

Final opportunity to qualify for the Race to Dubai: This is the final event of the 2014 European Tour regular season, and the last chance for players to qualify for the four-event Final Series and Race to Dubai beginning next week with the BMW Masters in China. The ISPS Handa Perth International also serves as the only event in Australia to be co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the PGA TOUR of Australasia.

Jeong defends: Jin Jeong outlasted Ross Fisher on the first playoff hole to win the first European Tour event of his career.

Headlining the field: Jason Dufner, Victor Dubuisson, Charl Schwartzel, Geoff Ogilvy, Peter Uihlein, Oliver Goss, Thorbjorn Olesen, Stephen Bowditch, Edoardo Molinari and Jin Jeong.

Wednesday, October 22

Playing With Hogan: Fred Hawkins, Part 1

Fred Hawkins often practiced with the most feared player on the circuit—Ben Hogan. “I played a number of practice rounds with [Hogan],” Hawkins told me. “[H]e’d always ask me to come down to Fort Worth a couple of days early so he’d get a little competition [and] practice that way.” In the continuation of this series, you'll learn about Hawkins and his Hogan stories.

Fred Hawkins in 1959.
I MET FRED HAWKINS IN 2007 on the Champions Tour, where he and 15 or so other legends played in pro-am and other events. Hawkins played on the PGA Tour from 1947 to 1965. He won once, the Oklahoma City Open, and had 19 runner-up finishes. One of them was a second-place tie with Doug Ford in the 1958 Masters won by Arnold Palmer, the first of Palmer’s four green jackets. Hawkins finished fourth on the 1956 money list (earning about $25,000) and played on the 1957 U.S. Ryder Cup team.

I interviewed Hawkins in October of that year as part of my research for THE LONGEST SHOT. From my home in Virginia, I called him one evening at his home in Sebring, Florida. We had a lengthy conversation about a range of topics, including Ben Hogan.

* * *

“I started in 1947 and ended somewhere near the end of the summer of ‘65,” Hawkins said.

“I started the first tournament at Tam O”Shanter in Chicago. At the time at Tam O’Shanter, they had the men pros, the women pros, the amateurs—they had a huge field of contestants. I think it was sometime in June, right near the longest days. They had a huge crowd there. George S. May put it on and he had a lot to do in getting the purses on the tour. His idea was just to charge a dollar a person. I think he gave them free parking, so the course was crowded with people. But that’s a little different.

“Basically I played those years and only won two official tournaments.”

(The PGA Tour credits Hawkins with one official win.)

“I won four or five other nonofficial smaller tournaments. By two different counts, I had 27 second-place finishes and then the PGA had several of the fellows re-evaluate the records—some of the records had been lost—they had me at 19 second-place finishes. That’s still a lot of seconds for only winning twice.

“Although once or twice I had a lead and didn’t play well the last round and someone beat me, the rest of the time I had a little trouble getting started and finished with good rounds but someone always beat me. So a lot of things happened. I’ve always said I was lucky in life but not really lucky in golf.”

Hawkins came within a rimmed-out putt of being in an 18-hole playoff at the ‘58 Masters. He had four top-10 finishes at Augusta.

“I was tied for second [with Doug Ford] in the Masters in 1958 the first year Arnold Palmer won. And Doug had won the tournament the year before.

“It was the year that Arnold—there was a question about a ruling on his ball on the 12th hole. They first had him up for a 5. We played two or three holes. Doug and I thought we were leading, but Doug was one stroke ahead of me until we got to the 17th tee. Doug had to make one birdie to tie [Arnold], and I had to make two birdies to tie. I birdied 17 from about 10 feet, and [Doug] had a putt of about 6 or 7 feet and missed it. And then we both hit the green at 18. My putt kind of caught the edge of the hole and came out. That’s the history of the way things go.”

Hawkins’s other best finish in a major was a tie for sixth at the 1951 U.S. Open, where Ben Hogan won his third Open and famously said about Oakland Hills, “I’m glad I brought this course, this monster, to its knees.”

Next time: Hawkins at the 1957 Ryder Cup and facing Hogan in an 18-hole playoff.