Tuesday, January 31

Golf Voices from the Past: Dave Hill on Caddies

PGA TOUR PLAYER DAVE HILL, who died last September, penned his book TEED OFF with the help of Golf Digest editor Nick Seitz in the late 1970s. Hill was a talented and controversial pro who often led the PGA Tour in two categories: fines and suspensions. Following are some of Hill’s thoughts on caddies, including a funny anecdote concerning Orville Moody’s bag man.
Good caddies are more important than jockeys on horses. Also they can adjust from one player to another. Most of the others can’t. They either don’t give you anything but the yardages or else they want to play the game for you. I’d say there are a half dozen real good caddies on the tour. The rest are just bag-toters. The good ones aren’t with the best players in most cases. I don’t think Jack Nicklaus asks much of his caddie....

Golfball is a good caddie and so are Frog and Del. You don’t deal in last names with the caddies, just first names, and they have some beauties. There’s also Turk and Rabbit and Bit Fat Mitch and Ol’ Roy, and they’re every bit as colorful as their names....

The all-time character, though, was a caddie who worked off and on for Orville Moody. He was in the Army with Orville. He had boxes full of cards with yardages that he kept tucked away in safe deposit boxes in a bank. He would practice his pacing stride on a football field by the hour. When he went into a shoe store he wouldn’t buy a new pair of shoes until he was convinced he could pace off an exact yard in them. One time during the Crosby tournament he had a dream that he had a bad yardage on a hole, so he got up at 2 a.m., and drove to the course, and repaced the hole with a flashlight. Another time he informed Orville, dead serious, that a course was 133 feet longer than it had been the year before. Then there was the time at Indian Wells in Palm Springs that he walked through a water hazard up to his neck to get his yardage on a straight line from tee to green.

He was unbelievable. You had to say he was dedicated to his job.
Hill won 13 times on the PGA Tour but no majors and played on three U.S. Ryder Cup teams. After turning 50, Hill collected six more titles on the Champions Tour. His brother, Mike, also had a long pro career, winning on both tours.

−The Armchair Golfer

More Voices:
Frank Beard

Monday, January 30

Bad Headline Entry: Abu Dhabi Do! Rock Doesn’t Turn Into Rubble

Robert Rock
I DECLARE MYSELF THE WINNER of the unofficial Robert Rock bad headline contest. Go ahead, try to find a worse headline. I had many others ready to go. Then I saw them all over the stupid Web. It almost ruined my fun.

Rock, of course, won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship by a stroke on Sunday by shooting a 2-under 70. Tiger Woods, who shared the 54-hole lead with the journeyman from Staffordshire, England, could manage no better than an even-par 72. I know Tiger put a nice spin on this missed opportunity, but it has to be disappointing.

As Alistair Tait wrote for Golfweek, “Tiger was a child prodigy. Rock was a child nobody.”

Not to take anything away from Rock, but he was ranked 100 and change in the world and openly admitted he might soil himself because of the pairing. He hardly slept and grew a beard over night. (OK, he already had the beard.) Still, Tiger losing to a Rock would not—could not—have happened a few years ago, right?

Tiger made two early birdies and momentarily looked like The Man we all remember. But Rock didn’t crumble. (Sorry.) He made two birdies of his own. Then Tiger carded back-to-back bogeys at holes 4 and 5, and that was pretty much it. Balls were flying into the rough and missing the greens. It was a grind all the way to the clubhouse.

I saw some of the Rock-Tiger duel live in the wee hours of Sunday morning. It wasn’t planned. There were five teenage girls at the house for a sleepover. (Isn’t it funny how they call it a sleepover? They should simply call it an “over.” Sleep—that’s a joke.) I awoke at 2 a.m. When I realized I wasn’t going to immediately get back to sleep, I turned on the Golf Channel. I watched the first six holes of the final round and turned back in at 4:30 a.m.

Tiger’s performance does represent progress. It’s a process, as he likes to say. His swing and his game are definitely improving. But they weren’t as solid as a Rock when it counted on Sunday, red and black day. For me, that was a bit surprising. And for Tiger, perhaps a bit troubling.

−The Armchair Golfer

Sunday, January 29

A Personal Glimpse at Kyle Stanley

Stanley as a junior golfer.
IT’S HARD TO WIN ON THE PGA TOUR, especially that maiden victory. Kyle Stanley saw a seven-shot lead fritter away on Sunday afternoon at the Farmers Insurance Open. But three shots is a comfortable cushion with one hole to go, the relatively short but tricky par-5 18th on the South Course at Torrey Pines. All Kyle had to do was put his ball in position and keep his wits and he would walk off with his first of hopefully multiple PGA Tour titles. He is just 24.

Then splash. Or, to be more accurate, ripples. Inexplicably, the golf ball went into the water.

Stanley’s three-quarters wedge shot flew beyond the hole but spun too hard, eventually trickling into the pond that fronts the 18th green. He ended up with a triple-bogey 8. Playoff. Brandt Snedeker bested Stanley on the second hole of sudden death when the PGA Tour sophomore caught the edge of the cup with his par try. It was over.

I couldn’t help but think of Kyle’s parents (Matt and Michelle) as I watched the playoff, how nervous they must be, the agony they must have felt as they watched Kyle stumble at the finish and head back out onto the course for the playoff.

I knew Matt and Michelle from periodic social events at Glendale Country Club in Bellevue, Washington, where my father-in-law, Ed, was a member. Matt and Ed were golf pals and friends. This was perhaps 15 years ago. Kyle was a kid, about 9 or 10. We used to watch him run around on the clubhouse lawn with his sister. There was a group of us that would gather for Memorial Day and Labor Day barbecues at Glendale. I wasn’t a member. I was a guest, a guy in the buffet line and an occasional “son” of Mel in the father-son tournament. It was an opportunity to eat too much and make small talk with people I saw twice a year.

There was Kyle throwing a baseball or football out on the grass with his older sister. Every once in a while he’d make a breathless pit stop at our table to check in with his mom and dad. That kid out on the lawn turned out to be a phenomenal golfer. He was an All-American at Clemson and won the 2009 Ben Hogan Award, the most prestigious award in men’s college golf. He then played on the Nationwide Tour before advancing through Q-School and joining the PGA Tour last season.

I remember seeing Kyle at the 2009 Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina, pounding balls on a sweltering August afternoon. I had a fleeting thought of saying something to him but quickly reconsidered. He wouldn’t know me. What would I say? I used to eat ribs and corn on the cob with your dad on Memorial Day weekend.

I still get occasional calls from my brother-in-law, John, who was also a part of that Glendale gathering. “Hey, did you hear about Kyle Stanley?” He made the cut at the U.S. Open. Or he’s near the lead in Boise (when he was playing the Nationwide Tour).

I got one of those “Kyle” messages a little more than a year ago from Karen, who along with her husband, Lance, also sat with us and the Stanleys in the Glendale dining room.

“Ever thought about looking into Kyle Stanley?” she wrote in an email. “He is not winning but I see on Sunday reports that he hangs around the 10-30 spot. Big Ed loved Kyle.”

Kyle Stanley will learn from his tragic finish at Torrey. He will win. I’m a believer. He has the talent, work ethic, character and determination. I hope it’s soon, this season. When that first win comes, it will be that much sweeter.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, January 27

Thomas Bjorn Eager to Defend in Qatar

By Alan Ewens

Bjorn cherishes Qatar trophy.
AFTER ENJOYING ONE OF THE MOST successful years in his European Tour career, Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn is fired up to defend his title at the 2012 Commercialbank Qatar Masters presented by Dolphin Energy, being staged from February 2-5.

For the World Number 35 it will be a welcome return to the Doha Golf Club, a venue where his stellar 2011 season took off with a four shot victory over a world-class field. It was a victory that set up the Dane for a year that would see him win twice more and finish the season ranked ninth on Tour.

“Qatar was a turning point for me as it showed that I could get back into the winning frame of mind and close out tournaments,” said Bjorn who has spent the winter months holidaying with his family and working on his game in Dubai.

“I was delighted with the week. I played solid golf—I think I made one bogey in the last 54 holes. On that golf course and in those conditions, that’s good going.”

After notching up his eleventh European Tour title in Qatar, titles twelve and thirteen quickly followed when Bjorn won back-to-back events in stunning fashion in the late summer, first capturing the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, where he won via a five-man play-off, then triumphing at the Omega European Masters by an impressive four shots.

“Winning the third title of the year was probably the most satisfying as the most talked about players on Tour—people like Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer—were all in the field and I still finished above them all,” he said.

Described by respected coach Peter Cowen as one the finest ball strikers in the world, Bjorn is now clearly back to his best and ready for another successful season in 2012—a year when the Ryder Cup will again feature heavily on the sporting calendar. Having tasted victory as both a player and a vice captain, the Dane is looking forward to the challenge in September.

“It’s an event that is all about the players,” added the first Danish golfer ever to play in the Ryder Cup. “When you are working behind the scenes, you do what you can to prepare them and make the event as stress-free as possible. But once they take to the course it is all about the twelve men in each team.”

Organised by the Qatar Golf Association (QGA), the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) and title sponsor The Commercial Bank of Qatar, the $2.5 million Commercialbank Qatar Masters presented by Dolphin Energy will be the second event in the three-leg ‘Desert Swing’ in between tournaments in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

(Photo: Courtesy of Alan Ewens, Qatar Masters)

Thursday, January 26

2012 Farmers Insurance Open TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2012 FARMERS INSURANCE OPEN is underway at Torrey Pines (North and South courses) in La Jolla, California. Four players on the North Course, including Bill Haas, currently lead at 5 under. It’s still way early in the first round, though.

UPDATE: Spencer Levin and Kyle Stanley are in with 62s, 10 under par. Both played the North Course in round one.

Purse: $6 million
Winner’s share: $1.044 million
Defending champion: Bubba Watson

Inside the field
Tee times
Inside the courses
Player interviews
Tournament overview
Tour report
Tournament news
Farmers Insurance Open website

2012 Farmers Insurance Open Leaderboard


TV coverage of the 2012 Farmers Insurance Open is on Golf Channel and CBS.

Thu, 1/26:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Fri, 1/27:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Sat, 1/28:
CBS 3p - 6p ET

Sun, 1/29:
CBS 3p - 6:30p E

SIRIUS-XM broadcast times

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Courtesy of PGATour.com)

Wednesday, January 25

Is Tiger Ready to Roar Again?

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. 

Tiger Woods is fit and determined.
TIGER WOODS IS BACK ON THE PROWL again—fitter, stronger and more determined than ever.

At least, that’s the message he sent to his potential rivals when he gave a trademark, combative press conference before his well-rewarded appearance in this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

Whether he is secretly in agony or on top of the world, Woods will always try and project an aura of confidence and invincibility. But it remains to be seen if the current crop of young guns ahead of him in the world ranking these days will be as overawed by his presence as they once were.

Has he regained his aura? As Graeme McDowell said last year: “Until he starts winning again, he’s not going to get that back.”

Roll on 2012.

The 14-time major winner has been drawn in Abu Dhabi with world No 1 Luke Donald—a player he once dismissed as a “plodder”—and world No 3 Rory McIlroy, the US Open champion, for the first two rounds in the desert. Free from injury and determined to add to his haul of major wins, Woods suggested that he’s back to where he was between 1999 and 2002 when he captured seven of 11 majors he played.

“It’s been quite a few years since I’ve been physically fit,” Woods said.

“So I’m looking forward to getting out there and then playing and give it a full season, which I haven’t done in a while, so I’m really looking forward to it. I don’t know, probably eight, 10, 12 years ago was the last time I felt fully fit.

“I played really well my last three events, so I’m really looking forward to this year, and continuing and building on what we have done towards the end of last year for sure.”

Having ended a two-year victory drought in his Chevron World Challenge shortly before Christmas, Woods is bullish about the year ahead. He’s also aware that he faces a different challenge this time against young generation of players who do not bear Tiger scars on their backs—McIlroy, Martin Kaymer, Jason Day et al.

“The young guys are practising harder, training harder than ever,” he conceded last week, admitting that regaining his world No 1 ranking from his current position of 25th in the world might not be so easy.

“The level of consistency I had a few years ago would see me climb back up the rankings quickly, but there are some pretty phenomenal golfers out there whom I really respect.”

Woods respects McIlroy and made positives noises yesterday about Donald’s feat of winning both the European and US money lists last season. But before heading out for a quick nine holes with McIlroy, he gave the distinct impression that he was laying down a marker yesterday, as if to say: Watch out. I’m back boys and I’m fully fit this time.

The question remains: Is Tiger ready to roar again? Abu Dhabi could provide some clues.

Brian Keogh covers golf for The Irish Sun and contributes to a variety of golf publications. Pay him a visit at Irish Golf Desk.

(Photo credit: Keith Allison, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Tuesday, January 24

Torrey Pines Is Bubba Long

The long par-4 12th hole on the South Course at Torrey Pines. (Courtesy of D.Hilgart)

THERE ARE HORSES FOR COURSES, as the saying goes, so it makes a lot of sense that long-hitting Bubba Watson won last year’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

Of course, Torrey Pines is two 18-hole tracks, the short North Course and the long South Course. How long? At 7,698 yards, the South Course was the longest course on the PGA Tour in 2011. Next was Cog Hill, site of the BMW Championship, at 7,616 yards followed by Congressional Country Club, site of Rory McIlroy’s record-breaking U.S. Open win, at 7,574 yards.

In 2011, Bubba won at Torrey Pines with a combination of distance and accuracy, putting together a near-perfect ball-striking week. He averaged 316 yards off the tee and hit 82 percent of the greens in regulation, leading in both categories. He also led in proximity to the hole (just under 26 feet).

“Bubba Watson was the only 2011 player to lead the field in both driving distance and greens in regulation and win in the same week,” reported PGATour.com.

Bubba did it twice—at the Farmers Insurance Open and the Zurich Classic, which he also won.

At just 6,874 yards, the North Course is as short as the South Course is long. But it has the toughest fairways to hit on tour. Last year driving-accuracy percentage on Torrey North was a shade below 40 percent. The bunkers are no push over either. Sand-save percentage was 37.71, second only to Royal St. George’s (The Open Championship) in difficulty.

The 2012 Farmers Insurance Open tees off on Thursday.

−The Armchair Golfer

Monday, January 23

Els and Goosen Overcome by Grace

Branden Grace
A MONTH AGO SOUTH AFRICAN BRANDEN GRACE was in European Tour Qualifying School. Less than two weeks ago Grace was ranked 258th in the world. Now the 23-year-old sits atop the European Tour money list and is ranked No. 92 in the Official World Golf Ranking after beating boyhood idols Ernie Els and Retief Goosen in a sudden-death playoff at the Volvo Golf Champions, a winners-only event in George, South Africa.

Grace got into the 35-man field by winning the Joburg Open the preceding week in Johannesburg. That makes it two wins in a row for young Grace, who now moves on to the United Arab Emirates for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship where the really big guns come out. The top four players in the world—Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer—will make their 2012 European Tour debut this week. Also in the field is a guy from America named Woods.

Grace closed with a 71 to tie Big Ernie and Retief at 12 under. Els fired a 67; Goosen carded a 70. Grace could have put the tournament away in regulation, but misfired from less than five feet on the final green. But he redeemed himself with a birdie on the first playoff hole, the same par-5 18th, while Els and Goosen could do no better than par.

“It’s a dream come true to win such a big event,” Grace said, “pretty much the best tournament I’ve played in so far.”

Grace is the first European Tour Q-school grad to record back-to-back wins in the year after graduation. He has earned a spot in two WGC events—the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the WGC-HSBC Champions—and is now exempt on the European Tour through the end of 2014.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, January 21

VIDEO: Two Freds (Couples and Funk) Outside of Comfort Zone

FRED COUPLES AND FRED FUNK have spent many years together on the golf course. Now, as shown in this humorous spot, the two competitors are honing their pitches for Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating.

Couples has signed a three-year sponsorship deal with the company, while Funk has received an extension. Commercials with the two Champions Tour players will air on Golf Channel and other cable and network stations.

Couples is a winner of 15 PGA Tour events and six Champions Tour events, including the 1992 Masters Tournament, the 1984 and 1996 Players Championship and the 2011 Senior Players Championship. As captain of the U.S. Presidents Cup team, he led America to victory in 2009 and 2011. Couples was named the PGA Player of the Year in 1992 and was twice named PGA Tour Player of the Year.

Funk is a winner of eight PGA Tour events, including the 2005 Players Championship. He has won six Champion Tour events—half of them majors.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, January 20

Ryan Moore: Par, Bogey, Bogey, 61

Ryan Moore
THREE PLAYERS SHARE THE 36-HOLE LEAD at 16 under at the 2012 Humana Challenge in Partnership with the Clinton Foundation. These guys (all of them, not just the leaders) go especially low in Palm Desert. Ben Crane (63), David Toms (65) and Mark Wilson (62) are at 128, three ahead of a four-player group at 13 under.

But none of the leaders had the low round of the day. That goes to Ryan Moore with a 61. After a mediocre 72 in the opening round, Moore teed off at 9:40 a.m. on Friday with Paul Goydos and amateurs Randy Niederbrach and Pete Knoll. Niederbrach carries a 12 handicap; Noll is a 16.

Moore started out like he was going to put up another 72. He parred the 1st and then made consecutive bogeys. Then he kind of got it going. The Tacoma, Washington, native and former UNLV star played the next 14 holes in 13 under par. That torrid stretch included an eagle at the 4th, six straight birdies on holes 6 through 11, and five consecutive birdies on 13 through 17.

Wouldn’t you love to be at the 19th hole and have someone ask, “How’d you do out there today?”

“I had a 61.”

“Dude! Really?”

Then your buddy chimes in, “And he had two bogeys.”

Actually, a conversation like that probably took place this afternoon at La Quinta. Not only did Moore have two bogeys, he had two amateurs. Boy, their eyes must have been popping out of their sockets.

−The Armchair Golfer

Thursday, January 19

2012 Humana Challenge TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2012 HUMANA CHALLENGE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE CLINTON FOUNDATION is underway at PGA West (Palmer and Nicklaus courses) in La Quinta, California. It’s early in the first round with most of the field still out on the courses, but Camilo Villegas is the leader in the clubhouse with a 9-under 63. That might just hold up as the first-round lead.

Purse: $5.6 million
Winner’s share: $1.008 million
Defending champion: Jhonattan Vegas

Inside the field
Tee times
Inside the courses
Player interviews
Tournament overview
Tour report
Tournament news
Humana Challenge website

2012 Humana Challenge Leaderboard


TV coverage of the 2012 Humana Challenge is on Golf Channel.

Thu, 1/19:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Fri, 1/20:
GOLF 3p - 6p ET

Sat, 1/21:
GOLF 4p - 7p ET

Sun, 1/22:
GOLF 4p - 7p ET

SIRIUS-XM broadcast times

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Courtesy of PGATour.com)

Wednesday, January 18

Diaz to Receive PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism

By PGA of America

Diaz on Charlie Rose
GOLF DIGEST SENIOR WRITER JAIME DIAZ has been named the recipient of the 2012 PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism. Diaz will be honored April 4 at the 40th Golf Writers Association of America Annual Spring Dinner and Awards ceremony in Augusta, Georgia.

“Jaime Diaz has a gift in providing us with many of the finest, thought-provoking profiles of our industry,” said PGA of America President Allen Wronowski. “We may think that we know all that there is to know about golf’s top performers, until Jaime opens another door that causes us to pause and reflect upon the demands of this wonderful game.”

Diaz is the 23rd recipient of the journalism award. Beginning with the 1985 U.S. Open, he has covered more than 100 major championships. He has been awarded first place six times in the Golf Writers Association of America’s Annual Writing Contest.

“I am extremely honored and very humbled, because I’ve had a lot of help,” said Diaz. “I’ve probably been the luckiest golf writer in terms of where I’ve had the opportunity to work and who I’ve worked with. I’ve been especially fortunate at Golf Digest, where Jerry Tarde and his fellow editors are so supportive in allowing me to write in-depth articles about the important figures and issues in the game.”

Diaz began his professional career in 1975 at the Oakland Tribune as a “copy boy,” an entry position that offered a gritty, ground-level view of journalism. From 1978 to 1983, Diaz was a city-side reporter for the Sacramento Bee. He was then hired at Sports Illustrated, where he covered many sports including boxing, tennis and golf.

In 1989, Diaz moved to Golf Digest and soon after to the magazine’s owner at the time, the New York Times, where he was the golf writer until 1993. He then returned to Sports Illustrated to help launch the magazine’s Golf Plus section. He returned to Golf Digest in 2001, where he has remained a senior writer for the world’s largest golf publication, as well as its sister publication, Golf World.

Diaz’s books include teaming with Raymond Floyd in 1998 on The Elements of Scoring, and with Jack Nicklaus and artist Linda Hartough for Hallowed Ground: Golf’s Greatest Places in 1999. Diaz also wrote An Enduring Passion: The Legends and Lore of Golf in 2002. He recently assisted 1993 PGA Teacher of the Year Hank Haney with The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods, scheduled for release in March.

Tuesday, January 17

The Rules Geek: 20 Seconds Is Too Late for Rory Sabbatini

Editor’s note: The Rules Geek is an occasional and potentially annoying feature at ARMCHAIR GOLF.

IMAGINE ARRIVING 20 SECONDS LATE for a tee time. No big deal, right? Wrong, as Rory Sabbatini found out at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions a couple of weeks ago. Sabo showed up 20 ticks late for his second round tee time and got slapped with a two-stroke penalty.

Nothing against the prickly South African, but The Rules Geek loves it. The rules are the rules. Twenty seconds late is late. So is one second. Zero tolerance.

Here’s the penalty for breach of Rule 6-3a:

“If the player arrives at his starting point, ready to play, withing five minutes after his starting time, the penalty for failure to start on time is loss of the first hole in match play or two strokes at the first hole of stroke play. Otherwise, the penalty for breach of this Rule is disqualification.”

How did it happen?

Rory’s caddie (a cat named Mick) had a watch strapped to his wrist that was running four minutes slow. Player and caddie had the wrong time and apparently gauged their arrival on the first tee based on the group ahead of them.

The late-start penalty was an unwelcome surprise, a first on the PGA Tour for both Rory and his bag man.

Sabbatini took it in stride, chalking up the penalty to “one of those goofy moments.” He made bogey on the first hole, added the two, and marked down a triple. From there, he played 6-under to shoot a 3-under 70.

The Rules Geek sez rules were made to be followed. Got a rules-related tip or story? Send it to The Rules Geek at armchairgolfer@gmail.com.

More Rules Geek:
Decision 33-7/4.5 Overhauled for Video Age
Camilo Villegas and the Divot DQ
Bad Behavior Down Under?
Juli Inkster and the Donut DQ
Phil Mickelson and the Proper Drop
Abnormal Ground Conditions Aid Amateur
Hunter Mahan’s Driver Replacement

Monday, January 16

Hairy Win Spurs Johnson Wagner

Wagner, pre-facial hair.
JOHNSON WAGNER, WINNER OF THE Sony Open in Hawaii, is a big dude. He stands 6’ 3” and goes 230 (according to his PGA Tour profile, although he might be lighter now). His given name is Montford and he is now wearing a moustache that everyone seems to be talking about.

“I was with my wife’s family in Richmond for Thanksgiving and I just didn’t shave the entire week,” Johnson said. “When I got home, I thought I had never had facial hair. So I thought it was too much growth to just let it go to waste.”

Indeed, a moustache is a terrible thing to waste. Or maybe a mind. Something like that.

Wagner closed with a 3-under 67 at Waialae Country Club to claim his third PGA Tour victory. After two bogeys in the first six holes, he played 4-under the rest of the way on a stingy golf course to beat a quartet of players by two shots—Carl Pettersson, Sean O’Hair, Harrison Frazar and Charles Howell III. The win moved him up 100 spots to No. 92 in the Official World Golf Ranking. The 31-year-old who has been back to Q-school too many times is just getting started, motivated by some new goals.

Johnson wants to return to Augusta, climb into the top 50, play in majors and have a shot at the Ryder Cup team. To that end, he hit the practice tee and gym hard in the offseason, returning to the tour 15 pounds lighter. Nothing like an early “W” to make you feel good about the work.

Where does Wagner go from here? And should he keep the ‘stache?

I don’t know, but I think he should stick with the moustache and also grow sideburns. The facial hair might just be the key.

−The Armchair Golfer

Saturday, January 14

Webb Simpson Floats Back Down to Earth

IN CASE YOU HAVEN’T NOTICED, Webb Simpson, the young gun who won twice on the PGA Tour late in the 2011 season, has been making a lot of birdies. Until Friday’s second round at the 2012 Sony Open in Hawaii, Simpson had posted 13 straight rounds in the 60s. (In Thursday’s opening round he put together a 66 and was among the leaders.)

Then on Friday the 13th, the streak ended at 13. Now I’m not superstitious, but that is a little weird.

Simpson slumped to a 2-over 72 at Waialae Country Club to make the cut by two shots. He recorded three birdies, including one at the 12th (see above video), but also carded three bogeys and a double bogey. Starting out his third round, he has two bogeys in four holes.

Matt Every is the current leader at 10 under.

−The Armchair Golfer

Friday, January 13

What Golf Says About Us

By Charles Prokop

Copyright © Charles Prokop. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Courtesy of Sidereal
THERE’S A TYPE OF PYSCHOLOGICAL DIAGNOSTIC PROCEDURE called a projective test. The idea is that what someone makes of an ambiguous stimulus says more about the person than it says about the stimulus. In the Rorschach Inkblot Technique, probably the best-known projective test, the inkblots aren’t really pictures of anything, so what they look like to me is different from what they look like to you. Our differing perceptions presumably say a lot about the differences in you and me.

I’ve always thought golf was a pretty good projective test. Different folks see golf in different ways, from “How can you waste your time hitting that stupid little ball around a pasture?” to “Golf is the new yoga of the supermind.” I’ll say no more about the golf haters and disparagers in our midst. They deserve only our pity and are beyond our help. With my deepest respect and sympathy, I say to them, “Go with God, but go away.” But for us golfers, golf is many things.

For some of us, golf is an addictive spectator sport. We’ll watch a tape delayed broadcast of players we’ve never heard of battling it out for second place in the Upper Volta Invitational while we wonder how many balls John Daly can hit in the water and still collect his appearance money. And how about that bunker shot that What’s His Name holed to nail down second place? And do you have any idea what kind of trees those were lining the 18th fairway? They don’t have those at my local muni, that’s for sure. (I confess I’m guilty of this. When I want to veg out I’ll watch any golf, anytime, anywhere. Give me a crossword puzzle and a boring golf tournament and I’m happy as a clam.)

Golf is a great soap opera for some folks. Did you hear what Stevie said about Tiger, and what Adam said about Stevie saying what he said? And what’s Tiger going to say about what Adam didn’t say about what Stevie said? Inquiring minds want to know. Discussions like this can go on forever on some golf sites, and often degenerate into wonderfully creative suggestions about what other commenters might consider doing with their anatomies to improve their analytic and playing abilities. If I moderated one of those sites I’m afraid my list of banned commenters would be longer than my list of active commenters. The banned list would likely include myself.

Of course, we don’t just watch golf and talk about golf, we play golf. For some of us golf is a skills challenge, a never-ending quest to get better. We work at it whenever we can, bang those range balls, take those lessons, buy that belly putter. A round below our expectations sends us into fits of despair, rage, or existential ennui. We vow to work harder. Or quit. That works, too.

For others, golf is just a way to relax and have fun with friends. We say we don’t care how we play, it’s only a game, we’re not trying to make the tour anyway. I expect that’s a healthy way to be, but I can’t personally vouch for it. I know one (count ‘em, one) person that I actually believe when he says this. If he thought playing well mattered he wouldn’t be the happy-go-lucky guy he is. I try to avoid him—his happiness might be contagious.

I’m sure there are more ways we look at golf, and each way will say something a little bit different about the personality of that golfer.

In the interest of science, I’m selflessly offering myself as a consultant and diagnostician to dedicated golfers. I’ll be happy to study your golf game in it’s natural habitat and spend time in exhaustive interviews with you as we visit the 19th hole after our rounds. I’ll charge nothing for my professional time. You’ll pay only my travel, my greens fees for our evaluation rounds, and you’ll cover the food and drink during our interviews.

I guarantee my satisfaction. Your satisfaction, not so much. But the experience? Priceless, I say. Priceless.

Charles Prokop is a clinical psychologist who writes about golf at fairwaywords.

Thursday, January 12

2012 Sony Open TV Schedule and Tournament Notes

THE 2012 SONY OPEN IN HAWAII is underway at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii. Graham DeLaet of Canada is the early leader with a 7-under 63. K.J. Choi, Carl Petterson and Kyle Riefers are in the clubhouse with 65s. The first round is still in progress.

Purse: $5.5 million
Winner’s share: $990,000
Defending champion: Mark Wilson

Inside the field
Tee times
Inside the course
Player interviews
Tournament overview
Tour report
Tournament news

2012 Sony Open Leaderboard


TV coverage of the 2012 Sony Open is on Golf Channel.

Thu, 1/12:
GOLF 7p - 10:30p ET

Fri, 1/13:
GOLF 7p - 10:30p ET

Sat, 1/14:
GOLF 7p - 10:30p ET

Sun, 1/15:
GOLF 7p - 10p ET

SIRIUS-XM broadcast times

−The Armchair Golfer

(Image: Courtesy of PGATour.com)

Wednesday, January 11

LPGA Adds Five Events to 2012 Schedule

THE LPGA RELEASED ITS 2012 SCHEDULE and, it seems, all meaningful numbers are up. The 27-event schedule features five new tournaments with 100-plus player fields. Four are in North America (three in the United States, one in Canada). The other new event is at Royal Melbourne (site of the Presidents Cup) in Australia, the season-opening ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

Total purse money has risen from last year’s $40 million to $47 million for the 2012 season. It includes a $1.5 million purse for the RR Donnelley Founders Cup, which generated controversy last year in its inaugural run because players were required to donate all winnings to charity.

“The commitment and support of our existing tournament sponsors, the dramatic improvement in our television production and viewership, and the significant growth in marketing partners is really the foundation for our schedule growth,” said LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan at LPGA.com.

Whan said the tour’s message is “See Why It’s Different Out Here.” “We’re hopeful that more people than ever before will take notice and become a part of our growth.”

The tour also reported that TV viewership increased by 38 percent in 2011 and its social media reach more than doubled.

2012 LPGA Schedule

Feb. 9-12, ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, Royal Melbourne (Australia) GC
Feb. 16-19, Honday LPGA Thailand, Siam CC, Thailand
Feb. 23-26, HSBC Women’s Champions, Tanah Merah CC, Singapore
March 15-18, RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, Wildfire GC, Phoenix, Arizona
March 22-25, Kia Classic, LaCosta R&S, Carlsbad, California
March 29-April 1, Kraft Nabisco Championship, Mission Hills CC, Rancho Mirage, California
April 18-21, LPGA Lotte Championship, TBD, Oahu, Hawaii
April 26-29, Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, RTJ GT, Mobile, Alabama
May 5-6, HSBC Brasil Cup, TBD, Brazil (unofficial)
May 17-20, Sybase Match Play, Hamilton Farm GC, Gladstone, New Jersey
June 1-3, ShopRite LPGA Classic, Seaview GC, Galloway, New Jersey
June 7-10, Wegmans LPGA Championship, Locust Hill CC, Pittsford, New York
June 21-24, Manulife Financial LPGA Classic, Grey Silo GC, Ontario, Canada
June 29-July 1, Walmart MW Arkansas Champ., Pinnacle CC, Rogers, Arkansas
July 5-8, U.S. Women’s Open, Blackwolf Run, Kohler, Wisconsin
July 26-29, Evian Masters, Evian (France) GC
Aug. 9-12, Jamie Farr Toledo Classic, Highland Meadows GC, Sylvania, Ohio
Aug. 17-19, Safeway Classic, Pumpkin Ridge GC, North Plains, Oregon
Aug. 23-26, CN Canadian Women’s Open, Vancouver GC, British Columbia, Canada
Sept. 6-9, Kingsmill Championship, Kingsmill Resort, Williamsburg, Virginia
Sept. 13-16, Ricoh Women’s British Open, Royal Liverpool GC, Hoylake, England
Sept. 20-23, Navistar LPGA Classic, RTJ GT, Prattville, Alabama
Oct. 12-14, Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) G&CC
Oct. 19-21, LPGA HanaBank Championship, Sky72 GC, Korea
Oct. 25-28, Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship, Sunrise G&CC, Taiwan
Nov. 2-4, Mizuno Classic, Kintetsu Kashikojima CC, Japan
Nov. 8-11, Lorena Ochoa Invitational, Guadalajara (Mexico) CC
Nov. 15-18, CME Group Titleholders, TwinEagles GC, Naples, Florida
Dec. 9, Wendy’s 3-Tour Challenge, Rio Secco GC, Henderson, Nevada (unofficial)

−The Armchair Golfer

Tuesday, January 10

Steve Stricker Hangs 12 in Maui

Steve Stricker is a master at wedge play.
THE MAN WITH THE VELVET PUTTING stroke captured the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course in Maui on Monday. That would be 44-year-old Steve Stricker, who cruised to a three-shot win over Martin Laird by closing with a 69 for a 23-under total of 269.

It was Stricker’s 12th PGA Tour title and his first island victory. A second-round 63 gave the veteran a lead that he was able to protect the rest of the way, although it was cut to a single shot on the back nine of the final round. Then he birdied two of the last three holes and that was that.

As PGATour.com’s Brian Wacker mentioned, Stricker is looking a bit like that poster child for post-40 success, Vijay Singh. Singh has collected 22 tour wins since turning 40, which helped put him into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Stricker, who turns 45 next month, has notched nine wins in his 40s, eight of them since May 2009.

“I just try to do my own thing,” said Stricker, who knows his game and personality are far from flashy. He tries not to compare his game to the other guys, which he said got him into a funk back in the mid 1990s.

So what does he do?

“I chip and putt well,” Stricks said. “I’m driving the ball well.”

That pretty much sums up how to score in golf. Is it any wonder that this aging Wisconsinite can still fill a trophy case?

“Everybody has got a little bit different game, and that’s the way I just kind of look at mine,” he added.

It looks good to me, Steve. Nine-wins-in-the-40s good.

Last night I got so bored watching LSU try to move the football on Alabama in the BCS title game that I switched to the Golf Channel replay of Stricker’s stroll to victory. I guess some of the putts break toward Molokai. I’ll have to remember that for the next time I’m in Kapalua.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: Keith Allison, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Monday, January 9

BCS Fever: David Toms Records 2½ Hour Round

DAVID TOMS WENT OUT FIRST and will finish close to last at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, but he’ll be ready to watch his LSU Tigers take on the Alabama Crimson Tide for the college football national championship on Monday night. Playing alone, Toms raced around the Plantation Course at Kapalua in a mere two-and-a-half hours.

The LSU alum wore school colors (purple shirt, yellow slacks) during his final 18 in Maui, a respectable 2-under 71, his best round en route to a 4-over total of 296. (He shot 76, 74 and 75 on the first three days.) It should be good enough to keep him ahead of Jhonattan Vegas and tie him with Brendan Steele.

Not that Toms is thinking about that. While relatives, including his parents and sister, and close friends will be attending the BCS title game at the Louisiana Superdome, Toms and his wife and kids will be glued to a television screen in Maui.

The PGA Tour veteran said he wouldn’t make a prediction about the outcome of the big game, but was “hoping we’ll have a little bit of the home advantage. Of course, their 40 percent can sound awfully loud.”

And if his No. 1 Tigers lose to the Crimson Tide?

“We’ll sit around and sulk the rest of the day.”

Third-round leader Steve Stricker is currently hanging on to a slim one-shot lead over Webb Simpson and Jonathan Byrd with the final round in progress.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Visor tip: The Tour Report)

Sunday, January 8

Can 2 Men Shave 10 Strokes in 4 Days?

Pinehurst No. 2 is the site of a unique golf challenge.
TWO MEN. TEN STROKES. FOUR DAYS. With famed Pinehurst No. 2 as the backdrop.

That is the scenario facing Bill Friese and Mike McClanahan in Pinehurst Golf Academy’s “Take 10 Challenge,” a weekly six-part web series that launched last Wednesday with the first episode at www.pinehurst.com/take10.

The two mid 40-year-old, high-handicap golfers (Friese 20, McClanahan 18), who have had limited lessons and have never attended a golf school, are challenged to shave 10 strokes off their first-round scores following four days of instruction at the Pinehurst Golf Academy.

“I always felt like I could be that really good golfer,” said McClanahan. “But I realized that I needed help. It was a real thrill attacking the challenge, and I hope people enjoy watching our journey.”

The 44-year-old McClanahan is a real estate agent from nearby Greensboro, North Carolina. Friese is a hospitality executive from Montana. The series follows the exhilaration and frustration of the two average golfers working to improve their games.

An opening-day round on Pinehurst No. 2 sets the stage for four days of intense instruction at the Academy, which is run by Eric Alpenfels, one of Golf Magazine’s top 100 instructors. The series concludes on February 8 with a pressure-packed final episode, during which the two golfers again tackle No. 2, the home to the 2014 U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open Championships.

“It was a challenge for us, as much as for Bill and Mike,” Alpenfels said. “We wanted so much to help them shave 10 strokes.”

Alpenfels and the Pinehurst Golf Academy team will participate in a weekly Q&A session on Pinehurst’s Facebook page. Followers can ask questions of Alpenfels, who will respond with tips and information related to the previous episode.

(Source: Pinehurst Resort)

(Photo credit: scbluedevil, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Friday, January 6

2012 Hyundai Tournament of Champions TV Schedule and Notes

THE 2012 HYUNDAI TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS is underway at the Plantation Course at Kapalua in Maui, Hawaii. Jonathan Byrd is the defending champion in the 28-player field.

The 11th hole at the Plantation Course.
Purse: $5.6 million
Winner’s share: $1.12 million
Defending champion: Jonathan Byrd

Tee times
Tournament overview
Tournament news

2012 Hyundai Tournament of Champions Leaderboard


TV coverage of the 2012 Hyundai Tournament of Champions
is on Golf Channel.

Fri, 1/6:
GOLF 5:30p - 10p ET

Sat, 1/7:
GOLF 5:30p - 10p ET

Sun, 1/8:
GOLF 5:30p - 10p ET

Mon, 1/9:
GOLF 4p - 8p ET

PGA Tour radio coverage

−The Armchair Golfer

(Photo credit: tobze, Flickr, Creative Commons license)

Thursday, January 5

2012 Masters Field Is Shaping Up

Courtesy of Shannon Hurst Lane
MASTERS TOURNAMENT CHAIRMAN BILLY PAYNE announced on Tuesday that 104 players have been invited to the 2012 Masters scheduled for April 2-8. Of those invited, 92 are expected to compete, including six amateurs and 14 first-time participants.

Two opportunities still remain to qualify for an invitation to the 2012 Masters: 1) win a PGA Tour event that awards a full-point allocation for the season-ending Tour Championship prior to the 2012 tournament; 2) finish in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking published during the week prior to the Masters.

The 2011 Masters had a field of 99 players. South African Charl Schwartzel captured his first Green Jacket by birdieing the final four holes to win by two over Jason Day and Adam Scott.

The 2012 tournament will be the 76th playing of the Masters.

2012 Masters Invitees

The number(s) after each name indicates the basis of qualification. The Masters Committee, at its discretion, also invites international players not otherwise qualified. (See qualifications criteria below.)

Aaron Baddeley (Australia) (15,17,18) # Sang-moon Bae (Korea) (18) Thomas Bjorn (Denmark) (13,18) # Keegan Bradley (4,15,16,17,18) Jonathan Byrd (15,17) Angel Cabrera (Argentina) (1,2,11) #* Patrick Cantlay (6-B) Paul Casey (England) (18) # Kevin Chappell (12) K. J. Choi (Korea) (5,11,15,17,18) Stewart Cink (3) Tim Clark (South Africa) (5) Darren Clarke (N. Ireland) (3,18) Fred Couples (1,11) Ben Crenshaw (1) Jason Day (Australia) (11,12,15,17,18) Luke Donald (England) (11,15,17,18) Jason Dufner (14,15,17,18) Simon Dyson (England) (18) # Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Spain) (18) Ross Fisher (England) (11) Rickie Fowler (18) # Harrison Frazar (16) Jim Furyk (18) Sergio Garcia (Spain) (12,18) # Robert Garrigus (12) Lucas Glover (2,16) Bill Haas (15,16,17,18) Anders Hansen (Denmark) (14,18) Peter Hanson (Sweden) (12,18) Padraig Harrington (Ireland) (3,4) Charles Howell III (15,17) Trevor Immelman (South Africa) (1,11) Fredrik Jacobson (Sweden) (15,16,17,18) Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spain) (18) Dustin Johnson (13,15,16,17,18) Zach Johnson (1,18) Robert Karlsson (Sweden) (14,18) Martin Kaymer (Germany) (4,18) Kyung-Tae Kim (Korea) (18) #* Kelly Kraft (6-A) Matt Kuchar (15,17,18) Martin Laird (Scotland) (15,18) Bernhard Langer (Germany) (1) #* Randal Lewis (10) Sandy Lyle (Scotland) (1) #* Bryden Macpherson (Australia) (7) Hunter Mahan (15,17,18) * Hideki Matsuyama (Japan) (8) Graeme McDowell (N. Ireland) (2,18) Rory McIlroy (N. Ireland) (2,11,18) Phil Mickelson (1,13,15,17,18) #* Corbin Mills (9) Larry Mize (1) Edoardo Molinari (Italy) (11) Francesco Molinari (Italy) (18) Kevin Na (15) Geoff Ogilvy (Australia) (11,17,18) Sean O'Hair (16) Jose Maria Olazabal (Spain) (1) Mark O'Meara (1) Louis Oosthuizen (S. Africa) (3,18) Ryan Palmer (11) Ian Poulter (England) (18) Alvaro Quiros (Spain) (18) Chez Reavie (17) Justin Rose (England) (11,15,16,17,18) Rory Sabbatini (South Africa) (15) Charl Schwartzel (South Africa) (1,15,18) Adam Scott (Australia) (11,15,16,17,18) John Senden (Australia) (17,18) # Webb Simpson (15,16,17,18) Vijay Singh (Fiji) (1,15,17) Brandt Snedeker (11,15,16,17,18) Craig Stadler (1) # Scott Stallings (16) # Brendan Steele (16) Henrik Stenson (Sweden) (5) Steve Stricker (11,15,16,17,18) David Toms (14,15,16,17,18) Bo Van Pelt (11,15,17,18) Scott Verplank (14) Nick Watney (15,16,17,18) Bubba Watson (15,16,17,18) Tom Watson (1) Mike Weir (Canada) (1) Lee Westwood (England) (11,12,18) Mark Wilson (15,17) Gary Woodland (15,17) Tiger Woods (1,2,4,11,18) Ian Woosnam (Wales) (1) Y. E. Yang (Korea) (4,12,17,18).

# Denotes first Masters
* Denotes Amateur

Past champions not expected to participate:

Tommy Aaron, Jack Burke Jr., Billy Casper, Charles Coody, Nick Faldo, Raymond Floyd, Doug Ford, Bob Goalby, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Fuzzy Zoeller.

2012 Masters Qualifications

1. Masters Tournament Champions (Lifetime)
2. US Open Champions (Honorary, non-competing after 5 years)
3. British Open Champions (Honorary, non-competing after 5 years)
4. PGA Champions (Honorary, non-competing after 5 years)
5. Winners of The Players Championship (Three years)
6. Current US Amateur Champion (6-A) (Honorary, non-competing after 1 year) and the runner-up (6-B) to the current US Amateur Champion
7. Current British Amateur Champion (Honorary, non-competing after 1 year)
8. Current Asian Amateur Champion
9. Current US Amateur Public Links Champion
10. Current US Mid-Amateur Champion
11. The first 16 players, including ties, in the previous year's Masters Tournament
12. The first 8 players, including ties, in the previous year's US Open Championship
13. The first 4 players, including ties, in the previous year's British Open Championship
14. The first 4 players, including ties, in the previous year's PGA Championship
15. The 30 leaders on the Final Official PGA Tour Money List for the previous calendar year
16. Winners of PGA Tour events that award a full-point allocation for the season-ending Tour Championship, from
previous Masters to current Masters
17. Those qualifying for the previous year's season-ending Tour Championship
18. The 50 leaders on the Final Official World Golf Ranking for the previous calendar year
19. The 50 leaders on the Official World Golf Ranking published during the week prior to the current Masters Tournament

(Source: Masters.com)

Wednesday, January 4

Bill Clinton’s Dream Sixsome

Former president Bill Clinton in 2009.
WHEN ASKED ABOUT HIS DREAM FOURSOME by a San Bernardino, California, newspaper, former president Bill Clinton named six individuals, making it a sixsome (seven, I guess, if you count Clinton). They included six-time British Open winner Harry Vardon, two Roosevelts (Teddy and Franklin), Abraham Lincoln, Bobby Jones and Sam Snead.

The former president called Vardon a “smart rascal,” noting that he owns two first-edition books by Vardon and has read all the others.

It surprised me a bit that Clinton never played with Snead, who died in 2002 at the age of 89. Apparently there was an offer, though.

“When he was 82, he said he’d play me and take no more than $1,000 from me,” Clinton said. That would have been a rather expensive round, but maybe not by their standards.

I think the ex-president has chosen well in terms of old-time golfers. I would love to tee it up with Vardon, Jones and Snead. Can you imagine the shots you would witness? The things you could learn. Oh my.

Lincoln is an interesting choice for Mr. Clinton. Do you suppose he’d let “Honest Abe” keep the scorecard?

−The Armchair Golfer

(Visor tip: Press Tent blog)

(Photo credit: Golf Channel)

Tuesday, January 3

The Sudden Departure of Jim Huber

Jim Huber
JIM HUBER WAS A MEDIA MEMBER I wanted to meet when I knew I would be attending the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional. It was my first U.S. Open inside the media center. It turned out that Jim was seated in the row directly behind me, just a few feet away. We met, talked and shared a lunch table one day. He was as gracious in person as he came across on the TV screen in his role as an award-winning sports broadcaster and essayist.

Jim died on Monday just days after being diagnosed with acute leukemia. He was 67. He had been caring for his wife, Carol, who was released from the hospital on December 20, when his own health was suddenly in jeopardy. His family, friends and colleagues are shocked and extremely saddened by the sudden loss.

Back to my encounters with Jim at the Open and in the latter half of 2011. I had brought along his book about Tom Watson’s near history-making win at the 2009 British Open, FOUR DAYS IN JULY, which Jim autographed for me at Congressional. I learned we had something in common. Jim and I were with the same publisher (St. Martin’s Press-Thomas Dunne Books), including the same editor, for our golf books.

I stayed in touch with Jim after the Open. I wanted to do something on his book in this space, so in early July I sent him some questions. Less than an hour later the answers arrived in my inbox.

“You’re amazing, Jim,” I replied. “Fastest turnaround ever.”

“It’s the old paperboy in me, Neil,” Jim quipped.

You can read our Q&A here.

Later on, in late summer or early fall, I mailed a copy of FOUR DAYS IN JULY to Atlanta, where Jim lived. He autographed it for my brother and mailed it back, the $10 for return postage still clipped to the dust jacket.

While I only knew of Jim and his broadcast work until this past summer, there are many journalists, players and fans who knew him well through his long career covering golf and other sports. I’ll close with Jim’s main subject in FOUR DAYS IN JULY. Tom Watson said this in a statement at PGA.com:

“We will sorely miss Jim and his Huberization of the events, people, and places in our wonderful world of golf. His grand storytelling and the way he treated his fellow human beings are what I will remember most about this fine gentleman.”

−The Armchair Golfer

Read more:
Huber’s sudden passing is a sad blow (Augusta Chronicle)
Jim Huber remembered (PGA.com)