Saturday, October 9

Guest Column: The Unworkable Format at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship

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By Keith McLaren

Keith McLaren is a 59-year-old fanatical golfer living in St Andrews. He writes about golf at The Kilted Caddie.

The Dunhill is over again. The valiant attempt to bring pros and amateurs together playing in a top level tournament.

But does this format work?

In theory yes, but in practice I would say a resounding no.

I didn't go down to watch this year apart from a mere five minutes when I stopped by the 18th to see if the pros were driving the last green with the strong backwind. And indeed they were, which is fairly impressive.

However, that was all that was impressive about the two pros, Haydn Porteous and Jacques Kruyswijk. For as I watched them stride onto the left of the 18th green, I noticed that one of the pro's amateur partner was trying to hit his second shot from just before the road. But the two pros were just not in the least bit interested. They weren't looking. And that is shocking, no matter what stakes these guys are playing for.

I was not in the least bit surprised by what I saw, as I'd had my own first hand experience of this sort of behaviour as I'd caddied for David Walsh a few years ago, when he was paired with the up and coming Matt Wallace. What an eye opener that was.

Mr Wallace swore under his breath at the other amateur on the fifth green of the Old after he thought he'd spoken too loudly while he was playing a shot. I say swore under his breath, he actually cursed the wee chap fairly loud and clear.

Mr Wallace was also pretty ignorant in his behaviour towards his caddie at one point and indeed, when David missed a very short putt, I think in the third round at Kingsbarns on about the 12th after Matt had dropped five shots in three holes and fell off the leaderboard, he openly sighed and walked off the green making his view very clear about David's short miss.

Yuk!

Friendly enjoyable golf? No.

But I suppose it's a tough old world out there and to be honest I'm rather glad I'm not too heavily involved with it at that level. I actually heard that a caddie I know declined to take part this year as he found the whole thing too stressful.

I get that. I would actually cringe at the thought of having to play in it as an amateur. No thanks.

Wednesday, September 15

Ladies European Tour Player Meghan MacLaren on What the Media Won't Say

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AT LPGA.COM, LADIES EUROPEAN TOUR player Meghan MacLaren published a thoughtful essay on the ups and downs of competing at a high level in a professional sport like golf.

MacLaren is a two-time winner on the Ladies European Tour.


Some things seem to get clearer with age, and experience.

Others get more blurry.

I remember overhearing a pro golfer a couple of years ago describe the majority of our profession as "highly functioning depressives," and without wanting to make light of real mental health issues, I don't think it's far off the mark. The customary asterisk fits here – a lot of professional golfers have a very privileged lifestyle, and I don't take for granted for a second the fact I get to do what I love for a living. Regardless of how my writing comes across, I wouldn't change it. But.

Hanging on to the vision is like trying to hang on to a cliff face sometimes.

Read more.

Tuesday, September 14

SI | Morning Read: '11 Reasons the Ryder Cup Is the Most Compelling Event in Golf'

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After a one-sided half century that saw the Americans dominate, the Great Britain & Ireland team expanded to a European team in the late 1970s. Then along came European Captain Tony Jacklin and Spanish superstar Seve Ballesteros. In the blink of an eye, the Ryder Cup flipped.

Now it's a flag-waving, fist-bumping, match-play brawl that Europe wins most of the time.

Hawkins writes, "The Europe-vs.-USA, match-play buffet has become pro golf's most beguiling and compelling event, a source of endless food for thought among the game's primary fan base, many of whom wonder how something so easy to love can be so hard to explain."

And those 11 reasons?

No. 4 stood out:

4. All that handwringing. We search for reasons as to why so many superior U.S. teams have been clobbered by the Europeans. For God's sake, the PGA of America appointed a task force to examine the predicament after the debacle in 2014. Here’s an idea fellas: make more 15-footers. Hole a few putts that mean something. Strap on some guts down the stretch and quit throwing up on the 18th hole. That will solve the problem. Guaranteed. Right? People in high places keep searching for answers, as if to make their concern more overt, which is silly, but silly ain’t a felony. It makes for good copy.

I think Hawkins might be on to something.

The last time I checked, committees can't make putts. (Or task forces.)

Thursday, September 9

Ryder Cup: Strick's Captain Picks and the Two Teams


THE 2021 RYDER CUP IS AROUND THE CORNER.

The matches will be played September 24 through 26 at Whistling Straits, a Pete and Alice Dye creation alongside Lake Michigan in Haven, Wisconsin.

Home-course advantage matters. The Europeans won the last time in France. The Americans were victorious in Michigan in 2016. But, to be honest, Europe has dominated the matches in the 21st century, winning seven of nine Ryder Cups. Another European win on U.S. soil would not be much of an upset based on recent history.

European Captain Padraig Harrington will make his three picks after this week's BMW PGA Championship.

U.S. Team
Captain Steve Stricker
Colin Morikawa
Dustin Johnson
Bryson DeChambeau
Brooks Koepka
Justin Thomas
Partick Cantlay
Daniel Berger
Harris English
Tony Finau
Xander Schauffele
Scottie Scheffler
Jordan Spieth

European Team
Captain Padraig Harrington
Jon Rahm
Rory McIlroy
Victor Hovland
Paul Casey
Tryrell Hatton
Matt Fitzpatrick
Tommy Fleetwood
Lee Westwood
Shane Lowry
Sergio Garcia
(three picks to be named)

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Wednesday, September 8

PGA of America: Jon Rahm Awarded Player of the Year and Vardon Trophy

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Jon Rahm of Spain captured his first PGA of America Player of the Year Award, presented by the PGA of America for excellence by a PGA TOUR professional. Rahm capped the sweep of season-ending PGA of America awards by also claiming the Vardon Trophy, presented annually since 1937 to the touring professional with the lowest adjusted scoring average.

In a unique season that featured six major championships, Rahm tallied a career-best 75 overall Player of the Year points, five more than Bryson DeChambeau. A year ago, Rahm finished second to 2020 PGA of America Player of the Year Justin Thomas by 10 points.

Rahm won just once in 2020-21, but made it count, winning the U.S. Open (and its 30 victory points) in June at Torrey Pines in San Diego. He also split 10 victory points with Kevin Na at the just-completed Tour Championship, as they tied for the lowest score (266) under PGA of America rules that reward the low scorer to determine the PGA Player of the Year.

DeChambeau finished with 70 points for his highest-ever PGA Player of the Year performance, while Patrick Cantlay (60) was third and Collin Morikawa (54) fourth. Rahm, 26, garnered 20 points apiece for winning the season’s money title, based upon events prior to the 30-player FedEx Cup finale, and the adjusted scoring average.

In the Vardon Trophy race, Rahm finished with a 69.300 adjusted scoring average based upon 86 complete rounds. Dustin Johnson was runner-up at 69.619, followed by Louis Oosthuizen (690.714), DeChambeau (69.728) and Cantlay (69.736).

The Vardon Trophy, named by the PGA of America in honor of legendary British golfer Harry Vardon, requires a minimum of 60 rounds, with no incomplete rounds, in events co-sponsored or designated by the PGA Tour. The adjusted score was computed from the average score of the field at each event.

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Tuesday, September 7

Team Europe 'Put Its Foot on the Gas' to Win Second Consecutive Solheim Cup


THE SOLHEIM CUP CONCLUDED MONDAY at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. The underdog walked away with the Cup.


Team Europe, which entered play Saturday as a heavy underdog to Team USA, put its foot on the gas early, winning three of the first five singles matches and earning a half point in another before hanging on late as the Americans did their best to rally.

In the end, Team Europe earned a 15-13 victory, defending the Cup for just the second time in the history of the matches. It was also Europe’s second victory in the last three matches conducted on American soil after an 18-10 victory in 2013 at Colorado Golf Club.

"I think women's golf definitely was the big winner," said Team USA Captain Pat Hurst, "along with Team Europe."

The matches drew more than 130,000 people.

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Monday, September 6

PGA TOUR HIGHLIGHTS: Patrick Cantlay Wins FedEx Cup and $15 Million



PATRICK CANTLAY WON THE TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP and FedEx Cup on Sunday. It was his sixth victory on the PGA Tour.

Jon Rahm finished runner-up at East Lake.

As the FedEx Cup leader coming into the week, Cantlay was spotted at least a two-stroke advantage on the field at the season-ending event. He needed it to edge Rahm by a stroke and collect the $15 million purse.

"It was the longest lead I've ever held," said Cantlay, "but I just tried to stay, day after day, in the present, and I did an amazing job of that this week because the last couple days I made some mistakes I don't usually make and I was able to really center myself and hit a lot of good shots when I needed to." 

He added: "It's such a great honor because it's all year and I played so consistent all year and just caught fire the last couple of weeks."

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Friday, September 3

Patrick Reed on Recent Hospital Stay: 'I Was Battling for My Life'

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PATRICK REED SHOT A 2-OVER 72 in the first round of the season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake. Not great, but nothing compared to his five or six day ordeal in a Houston-area hospital beginning August 19.

According to Reed in media accounts, he contracted bilateral pneumonia, a potentially fatal illness that settles in the lower lobes of both lungs. Vaccinated for COVID-19, it's unclear whether Reed was infected with the virus when admitted to the hospital.

Reed told the media he was tested upon leaving the facility.

"I tested negative," he said.

Hospital personnel encouraged Reed to reach out to his family, although he wasn't allowed to see his wife or others in person.

The Masters champion said, "The only thing that was going through my mind is, I'm not going to be able to tell my kids goodbye. I'm not going to be able to tell them I love them. I'm not going to be able to tell my wife that I love her and give her a hug."

He added, "It definitely puts you in a dark space when you're in there, especially those first two days. I mean, I was battling for my life."

Unable to travel by plane, Reed trekked from Houston to Atlanta in a van and said "no" when asked if he'd be playing in the Tour Championship if it wasn't a Ryder Cup year.

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