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 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

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.

Sunday, September 14

'DRAW IN THE DUNES' Reviews: Wall Street Journal and Tampa Bay Tribune

The 1969 Ryder Cup Dinner menu.
Jack Nicklaus's autograph is top right.
(Paul Trevillion)
HERE ARE MORE REVIEWS of my new Ryder Cup book, DRAW IN THE DUNES: The 1969 Ryder Cup and the Finish That Shocked the World. The book, which includes a foreword by Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin, is in bookstores and also available online at the usual places in hardcover and ebook editions.

The Wall Street Journal (September 13):
"Many fans are drawn to sports for excitement, the twists and turns. Some favor the moral underpinnings, the virtues of grit and determination, teamwork and sportsmanship. Still others are inspired by passion, whether for the stakes or for the game itself. The 1969 Ryder Cup, the 18th installment of the biennial competition between the best golfers from the United States and Great Britain, had it all. In 'Draw in the Dunes,' Neil Sagebiel brings the memorable tournament to life." Read entire review

The Tampa Bay Tribune (Bob D'Angelo):
"As he demonstrated in 'The Longest Shot,' Sagebiel is a marvelous story teller, who uses the right pace to build drama. It helps that he had some great characters to work with....Sagebiel takes the reader through every match, and builds to the final climax, in which Nicklaus and Jacklin battled to the final hole....'Draw in the Dunes' is a lively, interesting look at the Ryder Cup, chock full of insight and anecdotes." Read entire review

Other Reviews and Mentions

(Click the below links.)

"A Few of Our Favorite Things" Pick by Sports Illustrated Golf+ Digital

San Jose Examiner, The A Position, Ruthless Golf and Valley Business FRONT

Friday, September 12

Golf Digest: Billy Horschel Swing Sequence

BILLY HORSCHEL IS THE HOT PLAYER on the PGA Tour at the moment. The winner of last week's BMW Championship, Horschel has charged ahead at East Lake Golf Club, where he holds the halfway lead at the season-ending TOUR Championship.

Horschel has posted a pair of 66s to stand at 8 under par, two shots ahead of Rory McIlroy, Chris Kirk and Jason Day.

Golf Digest published a swing sequence of Horschel in October 2013. "Mr. Intensity: Billy Horschel's aggressive action has led to a breakout year," wrote the magazine.

There are two dozen images of Horschel's swing, starting here.

Thursday, September 11

Golf on TV: TOUR Championship, Evian Championship, KLM Open

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

The 45-event 2013-2014 PGA TOUR season will culminate on Sunday, as the 29-man TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola field competes for the FedExCup Playoffs $10 million first-place prize, and the title of 2014 FedExCup champion. NBC Sports Group will air 22 hours of live tournament coverage from East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

Golf Channel will carry live coverage of the first three rounds of the final LPGA Tour major in 2014, and the final round will air on both Golf Channel and NBC (tape delay), as well as streaming live through Golf Live Extra beginning at 6:30 a.m. ET on Sunday.

The European Tour is in Netherlands for the KLM Open.

(PGA Tour)
Dates: Sept. 11-14
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) / 8:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday Noon-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 6:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday Noon-1:30 p.m. (Live) / 7 p.m.-1 a.m. (Replay)

Tournament Airtimes On NBC (Eastern):
Saturday 2:30-6 p.m. (Live)
Sunday 1:30-6 p.m. (Live)

Event Notes

FedExCup contenders: Every player in the field this week has a mathematical chance at winning the FedExCup. However, the current top-5 in the FedExCup standings (Chris Kirk, Billy Horschel, Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy and Hunter Mahan) are the only ones guaranteed to win the FedExCup with a TOUR Championship victory on Sunday. Mahan also is the only player in the field to have competed in all eight TOUR Championships since the FedExCup was established in 2007. Players in the field this week earn automatic invitations to the 2015 Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship. The last place finisher (29th) is guaranteed a little more than $300,000 and the ultimate winner could earn as much as $11.44 million (by winning both the TOUR Championship and the FedExCup).

Headlining the field: Chris Kirk, Billy Horschel, Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Hunter Mahan, Jimmy Walker, Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas, John Senden, Patrick Reed, Cameron Tringale, Russell Henley, Morgan Hoffmann, Webb Simpson, Ryan Palmer, Kevin Na, Geoff Ogilvy, Justin Rose, Brendon Todd, Hideki Matsuyama and Gary Woodland.

* * *

(LPGA Tour)
Dates: Sept. 11-14
Venue: Route du Golf (The Evian Resort Golf Club), Evian-les Bains, France Tournament

Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Live) / 2-5 a.m. (Friday replay)
Friday 7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Live) / 2-5 a.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday 6:30-11:30 a.m. (Live) / 1-3 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday 8 a.m.-Noon (Tape Delay) / Live streaming on Golf Live Extra (6:30 a.m.-Noon) 

Tournament Airtimes On NBC (Eastern):
Sunday Noon-1:30 p.m. (Tape Delay) / Live streaming on Golf Live Extra (6:30 a.m.-Noon) 

Event Notes

NBC to air conclusion of The Evian Championship final round on Sunday: Immediately following Golf Channel’s coverage (8 a.m.-Noon ET) of Sunday’s final round of The Evian Championship, NBC will air the conclusion of the event, beginning at Noon ET.

Headlining the field: Stacy Lewis, Inbee Park, Lydia Ko, Suzann Pettersen, So Yeon Ryu, Michelle Wie, Lexi Thompson, Shanshan Feng, Karrie Webb, Anna Nordqvist and Cristie Kerr.

* * *

(European Tour)
Dates: Sept. 11-14
Venue: Kennemer Golf & Country Club, Zandvoort, Netherlands

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 5:30-7:30 a.m. (Live)
Friday 5:30-7:30 a.m. (Live) Saturday 4:30-6 p.m. (Tape Delay) / Live streaming on Golf Live Extra (7-11 a.m.)
Sunday 4:30-6 p.m. (Tape Delay) / Live streaming on Golf Live Extra (5:30-10 a.m.)

Event Notes

Luiten defends: Joost Luiten defeated Miguel Angel Jimenez on the first playoff hole for his third career European Tour win, and his second of the 2013 season. In doing so, Luiten also became the first Dutch player in European Tour history to win twice in the same season.

Headlining the field: Thomas Bjorn, Jonas Blixt, Paul Casey, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Brooks Koepka, Padraig Harrington, Matteo Manassero, Jose Maria Olazabel and Joost Luiten.

Wednesday, September 10

WDBJ7 TV: 'Neil Sagebiel Talks About New Book'

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The above segment is from Tuesday's 6 p.m. telecast. Thanks to sports anchors Brad Zahar and Travis Wells. A snippet:
ROANOKE, Va. - The Ryder Cup gets underway from Scotland in just a few weeks. While the 2014 Cup has plenty of storylines with a lot of American golfers having pulled out, while Europe rides the top golfer in the world, Rory McIlory. 
But a local author, Neil Sagebiel, of Floyd has a new book out Tuesday September 9, about one of the Ryder Cup's best, but strangest events, the 1969 Ryder Cup. 
Sagebiel's second book, “Draw in the Dunes” showcases the 1969 Ryder Cup which ended in a draw.

How Popular Is Arnold Palmer? 422-1

The King.
ARNOLD PALMER, WHO IS 85 TODAY, was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal two years ago in a 75-minute ceremony in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.

“I am very humbled,” Arnold said.

Jack Nicklaus, Palmer’s longtime rival and friend, attended the ceremony.

From Ron Driscoll of the USGA:
If there is one thing both Democrats and Republicans can agree on, it is recognition of Palmer. The bill to award the medal to Palmer passed 422–1 in the House and unanimously in the Senate. 
In addition, chief executives from both parties have honored Palmer: The three-time USGA champion received the National Sports Award from President Bill Clinton in 1993, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush in 2004. 
In a display of bipartisan support, the Congressional leadership of both parties was on hand for Wednesday’s presentation: Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, both Republicans; and Senator Harry Reid of Nevada and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, both Democrats. 
“I’m particularly proud of anything the House and the Senate agree on,” Palmer joked. 

Tuesday, September 9

Publication Day: Why 'DRAW IN THE DUNES'?

Now available at usual places
where books are sold.
Today is the official release of my new book, DRAW IN THE DUNES: The 1969 Ryder Cup and the Finish That Shocked the World (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press).

Where to start?

There's a lot I could tell you about this project, including the enjoyment of talking to most of the players on the 1969 U.S. and Great Britain Ryder Cup teams.

Maybe a good place to begin is to explain, at least in part, why I chose to tell this story. So, drawing on a portion of the book's author's note, here goes.

In search of a follow-up to THE LONGEST SHOT, my first book, I rediscovered the 1969 Ryder Cup and the famous moment in which Jack Nicklaus picked up Tony Jacklin's ball mark on the final green in the final match. That brief clip had flashed across my screen during golf telecasts on more than a few occasions. It was a dramatic and unusual moment in golf--a conceded 2-foot putt that resulted in a 16-16 tie, the first deadlock in the history of the Ryder Cup.

Ties are uncommon and mostly unwanted in sports, and yet many people would come to agree that Jack Nicklaus's concession to Tony Jacklin was a fitting and inspiring result for the Ryder Cup during an era when the event was struggling to survive. That first tie, assured by a climactic display of sportsmanship, reignited hopes for competitive matches in the future, although the Ryder Cup would continue to wobble along until the British side was expanded to become a European team.

As I delved into the 1969 Ryder Cup and the two captains and twenty-four players on the Great Britain and U.S. teams, I uncovered the compelling circumstances and the external and internal human conflicts that made a 2-foot putt matter so much. I also rediscovered the history and significance of the Ryder Cup, and how it progressed to being the huge international sports event it is today.

Following is the table of contents. You can read an excerpt here or here.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin


1. Mutiny
2. Champions
3. Tour Divide
4. The Big Ball
5. Jacko
6. The Teams


7. Royal Birkdale
8. The Campaign
9. Thursday: Morning Foursomes
10. Thursday: Afternoon Foursomes
11. Friday: Morning Fourballs
12. Friday: Afternoon Fourballs
13. Saturday: Morning Singles
14. Saturday: Afternoon Singles
15. Aftermath
16. New Era

Appendix A: 1969 Ryder Cup Results
Appendix B: Ryder Cup Results, 1927 to 2012
Author’s Note

Monday, September 8

A Special Note to Readers

MY SECOND BOOK, WHICH STARS THE MAN in the photograph, will officially release tomorrow (Tuesday, September 9). The book also stars Tony Jacklin, other Hall of Fame golfers and a diverse cast of Ryder Cup players, captains, journalists and others. I've already been talking about DRAW IN THE DUNES: The 1969 Ryder Cup and the Finish That Shocked the World. I will be talking about it a lot more in the weeks leading up to the 2014 Ryder Cup, both here and elsewhere.

Golden Bear Plaza, North Palm Beach, FL.
I hope you're interested as I tell you more about the project and why I chose to spend the last three years working on this book, which overlapped my debut title, THE LONGEST SHOT. (As I was getting ready for the first one to publish, I was researching and beginning to write this new one.)

My honest hope is that you're interested enough in this work to order a copy for yourself or someone you know. If you're a regular reader of this blog and feel as if you know me, I also hope that you might cheer me on, or celebrate with me. Publishing another golf book is a major milestone. None of this was planned when I started this blog nearly nine years ago. It has been an amazing adventure.

If, on the other hand, it's hard to get on board, or it seems a little too promotional, I simply ask that you bear with me (no pun intended). It will pass.

A big reason this blog still exists is because of the books. Not only have I written nearly 2,600 posts, the blog enabled me to attract a major publisher and become a golf author. Now it's time for me to pipe up about the newest book.

Thanks, all.