Monday, March 31

A Masters Minus Tiger and Phil?

I ALWAYS LOOK FORWARD TO AUGUSTA, the year's second major (the Kraft Nabisco Championship is the first, as Hall of Famer Carol Mann pointed out on Facebook). But what kind of Masters would it be if Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson aren't in the field of 99?

Tiger Woods has back issues. (Allison)
The 2014 Masters tees off a week from Thursday on April 10. That's just 10 days away. Both Tiger and Phil are nursing injuries. The Green Jacket men (and two women) and the CBS people might be more than a little worried about "a tradition unlike any other." Because without Woods and Mickelson it will truly be unlike any other in recent years, and not in a good way.

Phil was bullish about his game last Friday at the Valero Texas Open. ""My speed is back, my back feels great, my body feels great and I'm able to hit the ball hard again," Lefty said.

Then, on Saturday, he withdrew from the tournament with a strained oblique muscle. Swinging hard with his driver to get ready for the Masters, Mickelson hurt himself on the 1st tee, his 10th hole of the day.

"I'm going to go back to San Diego for a couple days and have a doctor take a look at it," Mickelson was quoted as saying at, "but there's really not much you can do for a pulled muscle. I hope I'll be OK to play the [Shell Houston Open] but I just don't know."

Tiger's problems are apparently worse. His deal is a bulging disk that won't require surgery, according to an unnamed source as reported by Golfweek. The winner of 14 major championships is uncertain about whether he'll tee it up at Augusta.

"It's too early to know about the Masters," Woods said at his website. "I will continue to be evaluated and work closely with my doctors."

For the players, media and fans, no Tiger and no Phil would be a different kind of trip down Magnolia Lane. I'll make that trip if I have to, but it won't be the same.

Friday, March 28

Friday Photo: Threesome

Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection. (Flickr Creative Commons)

More Friday Photos:
Gene Sarazen at Wollaston Golf Club
Bobby Jones at Oyster Harbors

Thursday, March 27

Golf Channel Analyst Judy Rankin Talks Up Karrie Webb

Karrie Webb
YOU COULD SAY THAT KARRIE WEBB, 39, is already having a great year. Or at least a very good one. And it's still March.

Webb has two early wins, bringing her LPGA career total to 41. Webb was a topic of interest during a Golf Channel media conference call on Tuesday with lead analyst Judy Rankin and on-course reporter and LPGA player Karen Stupples.

Rankin and Stupples previewed the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the LPGA's first major of the 2014 season. They expect Webb to be in the mix and talked about why the Aussie continues to play well and win.
JUDY RANKIN: I can tell you we are all kind of fascinated with how well Karrie Webb is playing this year; two wins already, and she has two wins to her credit there at Mission Hills.

I cannot believe she is not going to be part of the conversation, which I think is really interesting because there is the excellent chance we're going to have a number of teenagers as part of the conversation.

Q. I think at the beginning of the year we would have looked at the two names you mentioned, Inbee Park and Suzann Pettersen having to eventually win at this tournament, but Karrie Webb has kind of taken over and she's a two-time winner at this tournament. What is it about maybe both her game here and her game away from here that has allowed her to continue to be such a force on the Tour for so long?

KAREN STUPPLES: It's an interesting question, and it was something that I wanted to actually ask Karrie last week. But I spoke to her caddie, Mikey, and I asked him that very question. What is it that keeps her going? And he said, it's the winning. She just loves to win, and she wants to win. He says that's really all she's out there for now is just to keep winning.

JUDY RANKIN: I look to some of the really great players in the game, and one thing is different about a handful of players, which is they both take great pleasure in being in the heat of the competition and winning or trying to win, but they also take great pleasure in doing it well. And Karrie is one of those people who gets a lot of satisfaction out of doing it well, and I think that's one thing that has kept her going for a very long time. She just happens right now to be doing it as well as she has done it in the last five or six years.

KAREN STUPPLES: To me as a player it's amazing to watch her because the longevity of her career has been tremendous. She's played at such a high level for such a long time. There has been no burnout, she just keeps on playing, and to me as a player that's something that's phenomenal.

JUDY RANKIN: And the other thing which is evident with so many players, she has, to my knowledge anyway, never suffered a serious injury, and that really does keep people going in a different way than people who are sort of always hampered by things.

KAREN STUPPLES: When I watch her practice and watch her play, she seems to do it in a very sort of constructive, measured manner. She gets the most out of what she puts in, and she's obviously very experienced with that, so I think that helps, too. But you're right, the lack of injury really helps.

Wednesday, March 26

The Late Frank Hannigan Spoke His Mind

Frank Hannigan (USGA)
FRANK HANNIGAN, THE FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR of the United States Golf Association (USGA), died last weekend at the age of 82. Hannigan was employed by the USGA in 1961 and became executive director in 1983, serving in that capacity for five years. Hannigan said one of his proudest achievements was bringing the U.S. Open back to Shinnecock Hills in 1986.

There will be a memorial service for Hannigan on April 26 in Saugerties, New York.

The USGA man was famous for speaking his mind. "Frank" was a fitting name for the former newspaper columnist. Here are a few excerpts from an April 2013 GOLF WORLD interview by Bill Fields.

Getting the job

"I was interviewed by Joe Dey at USGA headquarters at 40 E. 38th Street. He asked me if I knew the Rules of Golf. I said, "Sure." I had been endorsed by two big newspaper writers, Lincoln Werden of the Times and Dana Mozley of the Daily News. Mr. Dey told me very quickly I was hired."

Growth fallacy

"Contrary to what people may think, the USGA has no responsibility to grow the game. There has never been a successful attempt by any entity that really caused more people to play golf.

"The country has changed dramatically. There was a time on Saturday morning the father of the house would throw his clubs in the trunk at 8 o'clock and say, "See you for dinner." Not now, because the wife has worked all week too."

USGA's greatest success?

"I think of the Rules of Golf as probably the USGA's greatest success. They have no power to enforce anything. All they can do is make sure the rules are used at their national championships. Everybody else can do whatever the hell they want. The fact that they don't speaks well for the USGA."

Hannigan also called Byron Nelson "the sanest golfer I've ever met."

Maybe that was because Byron was smart enough to retire from this crazy game when he was 34. Once he had earned enough money for that ranch, he was gone.

Tuesday, March 25

New Criteria, Decision Makers for 'Hall' Pass

VIDEO: Geoff Shackelford discusses Hall of Fame changes on Morning Drive.

By World Golf Hall of Fame

(The following edited content was supplied by the World Golf Hall of Fame in a news release.)

The World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum will introduce a new process for individuals to be inducted beginning with the Class of 2015, in an announcement made on Sunday by PGA TOUR Commissioner and chairman of the World Golf Foundation Board of Directors Tim Finchem. The changes are the result of an extensive review of the Ballot and Nomination process announced last fall. The review included an evaluation of the ballot system and voting body, along with criteria such as tournament victories and age, and the changing dynamics of the game and its constituents.

The Induction process will now be governed by a Selection Commission made up of 16 individuals who will be responsible for electing candidates into the Hall of Fame, with each Inductee needing at least 75 percent of the vote to gain entry. The Selection Commission will be Co-Chaired by Hall of Fame members Nancy Lopez, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Annika Sorenstam and will include the members of the World Golf Foundation Board of Directors and a mix of institutional and at-large seats.

"The Hall of Fame has established itself as the place to celebrate golf's greatest players and contributors, and this process will ensure it maintains that place as the game continues to grow and evolve," said Finchem.

"This is a great step for the Hall of Fame," said Palmer.

"Golf is a global sport with a rich heritage that's centuries old," said Sorenstam. "I am honored to have been asked to play a role in determining which men and women have made the greatest impact and deserve the ultimate honor of enshrinement in the Hall of Fame."

In addition, a Selection Sub-Committee has been established to oversee the qualification and vetting process and is responsible for submitting finalists for consideration to the Selection Commission. The Selection Sub-Committee will be comprised of 20 individuals, including six Hall of Fame members and a mix of institutional and at-large seats.

Four Categories

The new process will include four categories under which an individual may be considered for Induction: Male and Female Competitor Categories and the Veterans and Lifetime Achievement Categories.

The Male and Female Competitor Categories will have similar criteria for qualification: a player must have 15 or more official victories on approved tours or at least two victories among approved major events. Each player also must be at least 40 years old at the start of the year selections are made or at least five years removed from active competition. The Veterans Category will include players whose careers were primarily completed before 1975, and the Lifetime Achievement Category will continue to be made up of individuals who contributed to the game from outside of the competitive arena.

The new process will begin with the Selection Sub-Committee meeting this spring to debate the candidates in all four categories. It will then present five finalists in the Male and Female categories and three each in Veterans and Lifetime Achievement to the Selection Commission. In the summer, the Commission will discuss the merits and vote on the 16 finalists. Each new member of the class must receive at least 75 percent of the vote. Each class will include no more than five inductees. The Class of 2015 will be announced later this fall.

Starting with the 2015 event, the Induction Ceremony will become a biennial celebration with the following Ceremony taking place in 2017.

Monday, March 24

VIDEOS: Paying Tribute to Jack Fleck

JACK FLECK WAS STILL A VITAL MAN when I first met him in March 2007. It's hard for me to believe he's gone. In fact, Jack was a young man of 85 when I picked him up at the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport and took him to the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort for the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf. We hopped in a golf cart and headed out to the course, where I watched in amazement as an octogenarian hit silky smooth 260-yard drives.

For the next several years, I followed Jack into tour locker rooms and dining rooms. Sometimes I caddied for him. (Once, by chance, I caddied for Orville Moody, but that's another story.) Along the way, I met several of Jack's peers, all legends. In May 2010 I spent several days with Jack in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he lived, and even hit balls with him on the range at Hardscrabble Country Club. He let me use his clubs and told me I had a good swing. "You should play more golf," he said.

The USGA published these videos of Jack on the weekend.

While I hope you enjoy them, I also need to keep them here, on this site, archived. This is how I remember Jack, and how I want to remember him. I also got to know the 33-year-old Jack while writing the book. In a way, they're two different people, and, in a way, they're not.

There are a couple of things to mention about the above video that recreates the putt that tied Ben Hogan.

One, I was there, standing on the 18th green at the Olympic Club, as Kay Cockerill and Jack had their moment. If I remember correctly, it was on the Tuesday before the start of the 2012 U.S. Open. It was so cool to be there.

Second, about the putter in the video. It's the same Bulls Eye putter Jack used to sink the tying putt on the 72nd green of the 1955 U.S. Open. He made it when he was 33. Then he made it again 57 years later when he was 90.

That a way, Jack. Godspeed.

(Courtesy of USGA)

One more for the blog archives. This is Jack (and Billy Casper) being interviewed by Bob Costas before the final round of the 2012 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club.

Friday, March 21

RIP Jack Fleck, 1955 U.S. Open Champion

Jack Fleck at Hardscrabble Country Club
in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in 2010.
JACK FLECK DIED TODAY at the age of 92. My condolences to his wife, Carmen, his son, Craig, other family and his friends. I hadn't spoken to Jack in a couple of months. He was in good spirits the last time we talked.

Jack was born in Bettendorf, Iowa, on November 7, 1921. He became a golf professional at the age of 17. He served in the Navy during World War II and was part of the Normandy invasion.

Jack beat his idol Ben Hogan in an 18-hole playoff to win the 1955 U.S. Open, one of the greatest upsets in the history of sports. When Hogan died in 1997, Jack decided not to attend the funeral because he didn't want his presence to detract in any way from the remembrance of his idol.

I met Jack in March of 2007 and he opened up to me and allowed me to tell his story. I was very fortunate to know him. Thank you for letting me tell your story, Jack.

Thursday, March 20

Golf on TV: Arnold Palmer Invitational and Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic

By Golf Channel News

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

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will provide 23 combined hours of live tournament coverage of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard this week from Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Fla. The Champions Tour heads south for the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic Presented by C Spire, with Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie teeing it up in the event for the first time. Three-time PGA TOUR winner Jeff Maggert also makes his debut on the over-50 circuit this week.

(PGA Tour)
Dates: March 20-23
Venue: Bay Hill Club and Lodge, Orlando, Fla.

TV Schedule On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 9 p.m.-Midnight (Replay)
Friday 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 9 p.m.-Midnight (Replay)
Saturday 12:30-2 p.m. (Live) / 2-5 p.m. (Live, Spotlight Coverage) / 9:30 p.m-3 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday 12:30-2 p.m. (Live) / 2-5 p.m. (Live, Spotlight Coverage) / 9:30 p.m.-3 a.m. (Replay)

TV Schedule On NBC (Eastern):
Saturday 2-6 p.m. (Live)
Sunday 2-6 p.m. (Live)

Event Notes

NBC Sports Group Rolling Out Comprehensive Coverage in Honor of "The King": NBC Sports Group will dedicate more than 40 total hours of news and tournament action.

Golf Channel Weekend Spotlight Coverage: Bay Hill's final three holes will be the focus of this weekend's Golf Channel Spotlight coverage, including the signature 18th, one of the more dramatic finishing holes on TOUR with its trademark kidney-shaped green fronted by rocks and water.

Headlining the Field: Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Jason Day, Graeme McDowell, Bubba Watson, Brandt Snedeker, Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson and Harris English.

* * *

(Champions Tour)
Dates: March 21-23
Venue: Fallen Oak Golf Course, Saucier, Miss.

TV Schedule On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday 12:30-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 12:30-2:30 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday 5-7 p.m. (Live) / 3:30-5:30 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday 5-7 p.m. (Live) / 3:30-5:30 a.m. (Replay)

Event Notes

Maggert Makes Champions Tour Debut: Three-time PGA TOUR winner Jeff Maggert makes his Champions Tour debut this week, after turning 50 years old in January.

Allen Defends: Michael Allen finished one shot ahead of Bernhard Langer in 2013 for his fourth Champions Tour victory, after finishing runner-up to Fred Couples at this event in 2012.

Headlining the Field: Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer, Kenny Perry, Tom Lehman, Colin Montgomerie, Nick Faldo, John Cook, Fred Funk, Jay Haas, Jeff Maggert and Michael Allen.

Wednesday, March 19

Exclusive Q&A With Tiger’s Left Knee

Tiger Woods's withdrawal from the Arnold Palmer Invitational due to back problems brought back distant memories of an earlier injury that resulted in ARMCHAIR GOLF'S series of exclusive interviews with Tiger's Left Knee. Here is one of the first ones, a Q&A from the archives. Maybe we can get an interview with Tiger's back ...

IN A REVEALING Q&A, TIGER Woods's Left Knee told ARMCHAIR GOLF about its recovery from a third surgery and the multiple pressures that come with supporting the world's greatest golfer.

Tiger's Left Knee in action. (Phelps)
Q: First of all, how are you feeling?

LEFT KNEE: I have my good days and bad days, but overall I think I'm getting stronger.

Q: This was your third surgery. Did the fist-pump celebration during the final round of last year's PGA Championship exacerbate the problem?

LEFT KNEE: No comment.

Q: It really looked like Tiger was limping after that.

LEFT KNEE: I was told there wouldn't be any fist-pump questions.

Q: Can you talk about Tiger's swing and how it affects you?

LEFT KNEE: You've seen him. Tiger has the mother of all golf swings. The torque is absolutely incredible. It gives me a sharp twinge just thinking about it. No knee is designed for that.

Q: What's the hardest part about being Tiger's Left Knee?

LEFT KNEE: There's the physical aspect, certainly, but there's also the weight of everyone's expectations. He's playing for the record books and immortality. That's a pressure very few knees ever experience.

Q: Do you ever wish you were just a normal left knee for, say, a claims adjuster or a florist?

LEFT KNEE: I think all knees of great athletes have moments when they dream of a normal life. Look at Mickey Mantle, Joe Namath, Larry Bird. The list of greats with highly pressured knees is very long. I'm not the first, nor will I be the last. But in the end you have to work with the person you're given.

Q: How do you keep going? Where does your inspiration come from?

LEFT KNEE: I take it a day at a time. Do the PT. Get my rest. I really hope Tiger is done with the running. That's a killer. As far as inspiration, I look to the greats. In golf, all of us lower extremities worship Hogan. I mean, my God, his legs were totally mangled from that car accident and he came back and not only walked again but won six majors. It's incredible (sniffling). Sorry, I promised myself I wouldn't get emotional.

Q: It's OK.

LEFT KNEE: Are we about done?

Q: One last question. When will you be back? At the Memorial or the U.S. Open?

LEFT KNEE: Not sure. That’s Tiger's call. But I hope Memorial.

Q: Why sooner?

LEFT KNEE: It's always great catching up with Jack's hip. The right one, not the replacement.

Q: Thanks for taking the time.

LEFT KNEE: You got it.

(This is an ARMCHAIR GOLF spoof.)

Tuesday, March 18

Ladies Celebrate LPGA Founders in Phoenix

THE JTBC FOUNDERS CUP, THE FIRST U.S. EVENT of the 2014 LPGA season, tees off on Thursday. World No. 3 Stacy Lewis defends her title in the $1.5 million event played on the par-72 Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix. Also in the 132-player field are the winners of the season's first four LPGA events: Jessica Korda, Karrie Webb, Anna Nordqvist and Paula Creamer.

The tournament celebrates the 13 founders of the LPGA Tour. A portion of the purse will be donated to the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf Program. Besides Lewis, past champions are Webb (2011) and Yani Tseng (2012).

Creamer's Amazing Putt

The LPGA is calling Paula Creamer's 75-footer to win in Singapore the "putt heard 'round the world." And why not? The above video highlights the global coverage, including the various languages (English, Korean, Japanese) and the excited voices.

* * *

Wildfire Golf Club at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort
and Spa in Phoenix, Ariz.

Field: 132 (all professionals)
Par: 72
Yardage: 6,583
Purse: $1,500,000
Winner: $210,000
Defending Champion: Stacy Lewis

TV Schedule
All coverage on Golf Channel.
Thur, March 20 6:30 p.m. - 9 p.m. ET
Fri, March 21 6:30 p.m. - 9 p.m. ET
Sat, March 22 7:00 p.m. - 9 p.m. ET
Sun, March 23 7:00 p.m. - 9 p.m. ET

Monday, March 17

Another Toshiba for Fred Couples

FRED COUPLES FINISHED BIRDIE-BIRDIE on Sunday to win the Toshiba Classic in Newport Beach, California, by a shot. Bernhard Langer missed a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th green that would have forced a playoff. Joining Langer in second place were Steve Pate and Colin Montgomerie, who fired a 62 on the final 18.

"I made some putts and when you do, you have a chance," Boom Boom said after collecting his 10th Champions Tour title.

Couples calmly sank a pair of four-footers on 17 and 18 and then waited for Langer to finish. He called his up-and-down from behind the 18th green "kind of miraculous."

Freddie shot rounds of 65, 67 and 66 for a 15-under total on the par-71 Newport Beach Country Club. He also won the Toshiba Classic in 2010, joining Hale Irwin as a two-time winner of the event. Irwin was the champion in 1998 and 2002.

Friday, March 14

More Signs You Watch Too Much Golf on TV

AFTER WRITING ON WEDNESDAY about signs that you might be a golf TV addict, I asked for more on Twitter and elsewhere.

And one more from blog comments:

The Golf Channel logo is burned into the bottom corner of your TV.

Golf Digest: '15 Signs You Watch Too Much Golf on TV'

Thursday, March 13

Golf on TV: Valspar Championship, Trophee Hassan II, Toshiba Classic

By Golf Channel News

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

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will provide 20 hours of live TV coverage of the Valspar Championship this week from Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club outside of Tampa, Fla.

The European Tour is in Morocco this week for the Trophee Hassan II, where Marcel Siem will look to defend his 2013 title.

The Champions Tour returns after a three-week hiatus with the Toshiba Classic in Southern California, featuring 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson and three-time-winning U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples grouped together for Friday's opening round, airing live in primetime on the East Coast.

* * *

(PGA Tour)
Dates: March 13-16
Venue: Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club (Copperhead Course), Palm Harbor, Fla.

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-9:30 p.m. (Replay) / 9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)
Friday 3-6 p.m. (Live) / 9 p.m.-Midnight (Replay) / 12:30-3:30 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday 1-3 p.m. (Live) / 3-5 p.m. (Live, Spotlight Coverage) / 9:30 p.m-2:30 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday 1-3 p.m. (Live) / 3-5 p.m. (Live, Spotlight Coverage) / 9 p.m.-1 a.m. (Replay)

Tournament Airtimes On NBC (Eastern):
Saturday 3-6 p.m. (Live)
Sunday 3-6 p.m. (Live)

Event Notes

Streelman Defends: Kevin Streelman earned his first career PGA TOUR victory last year, thanks to weekend rounds of 65-67 to finish two shots clear of Boo Weekley.

Headlining the Field: Justin Rose, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Brandt Snedeker, Webb Simpson, Jim Furyk, Ernie Els, Luke Donald, Graham DeLaet, Bill Haas and Harris English.

* * *

(European Tour)
Dates: March 13-16
Venue: Golf du Palais Royal, Agadir, Morocco

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)
Friday 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)
Sunday 2:30-6 a.m. (Tape Delay, Late Saturday night)
Monday 1:30-5 a.m. (Tape Delay, Late Sunday night)

Event Notes

Siem Defends: Marcel Siem went wire-to-wire last year, capitalizing on an opening-round 64 en route to a three shot victory.

Headlining the Field: Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Chris Wood, Ross Fisher, Shane Lowry, George Coetzee, David Howell, Marcel Siem, Robert Karlsson, Jose Maria Olazabal and Paul McGinley.

* * *

(Champions Tour)
Dates: March 14-16
Venue: Newport Beach Country Club, Newport Beach, Calif.

Tournament Airtimes On Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday 6:30-9 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-8:30 a.m. (Saturday, Round 1 replay)
Saturday 7-9 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-8:30 a.m. (Sunday, Round 2 replay)
Sunday 7-9 p.m. (Live) / 5-7 a.m. (Monday, Final round replay)

Event Notes

Frost Defends: David Frost won last year’s event by a comfortable five shots, a wire-to-wire win kick-started by an opening-round 63.

Headlining the Field: Fred Couples, Tom Watson, Bernhard Langer, Kenny Perry, Colin Montgomerie, Rocco Mediate, Mark O’Meara, Fred Funk, John Cook and Jay Haas.

Wednesday, March 12

Golf Digest: '15 Signs You Watch Too Much Golf on TV'

ARE YOU A GOLF TV WATCHING ADDICT? Find out. Check out the Golf Digest slideshow "15 Signs You Watch Too Much Golf on TV" by Alex Myers. It's funny.

Here are a few of my favorites:

"Hello, friends."
"You greet everyone by saying, 'Hello, friends.' Even if they aren't your actual friends. Even if it's just one friend."

"You often start whispering like Roger Maltbie for no reason."

"You actually know who is leading the FedEx Cup standings before September."

"You often forget to shower during weeks of major championships." (Has this ever happened to you ... Shane Bacon?)

"When you check into a hotel, your first question is, 'What channel is the Golf Channel?'"

"The Masters theme song is your ringtone—and was the first dance at your wedding."

My Turn, Your Turn

You know, we could think of more "signs" that didn't make Alex's list. Try some. Here are a few of mine:

You know the names and roles of the broadcast team for European Tour events. (And you pull all-nighters watching some of those events live.)

You talk to the TV, making comments, and two seconds later you hear what you said on your TV. (Actually, this happens frequently to me. My wife just shakes her head, if she happens to be in the room.)

You know every golf cliche, golf saying and famous golf quote since the beginning of time.

You wish you could caddie for some of the young players because you know the golf courses (from seeing them on TV for a million years) far better than they do.

OK, your turn. The comments section is open.

My Golf TV Habit

I try to peak during the majors. That's when I watch a lot. I really bear down. (Sometimes I feel like I need to take off the Monday after the Masters.) But, overall, I've cut back on watching golf on TV. Now excuse me because I gotta see what's on Golf Channel.

Tuesday, March 11

2014 Masters Odds: McIlroy and Woods at 6/1


Odds To Win The US Masters 2014
Rory McIlroy 6/1
Tiger Woods 6/1
Adam Scott 14/1
Jason Day 14/1
Phil Mickelson 14/1
Henrik Stenson 18/1
Dustin Johnson 20/1
Bubba Watson 25/1
Justin Rose 25/1
Zach Johnson 25/1
Jordan Spieth 28/1
Brandt Snedeker 33/1
Charl Schwartzel 33/1
Lee Westwood 33/1
Matt Kuchar 33/1
Hunter Mahan 40/1
Jason Dufner 40/1
Louis Oosthuizen 40/1
Luke Donald 40/1
Sergio Garcia 40/1
Graham DeLaet 50/1
Ian Poulter 50/1
Keegan Bradley 50/1
Jimmy Walker 50/1
Angel Cabrera 66/1
Graeme McDowell 66/1
Harris English 66/1
Hideki Matsuyama 66/1
Rickie Fowler 66/1
Steve Stricker 66/1
Thorbjørn Olesen 66/1
Webb Simpson 66/1
Nick Watney 75/1
Bill Haas 80/1
Jim Furyk 80/1
Ryan Moore 80/1
Ernie Els 100/1
K.J. Choi 100/1
Marc Leishman 100/1
Martin Kaymer 100/1
Nicolas Colsaerts 100/1

Monday, March 10

A Mixed Weekend for Red and Black

THE MAN WHO ARRIVED AT THE FIRST TEE on Sunday as the 54-hole leader of the WGC-Cadillac Championship wore red and black. He was brimming with confidence. Just look at what he said on Saturday night.

"I firmly believe, as well as my swing coach and my whole team that's behind me, I'm a top five player in the world," he told NBC, according to John Strege.

"I just got out there on tour and it takes awhile to get your spot all the way up there. But I have that confidence that I'm a top five player in the world. I feel like if I do what I'm supposed to do and play how I'm supposed to, if I'm playing the best I can that week I can't be beat."

Reed: "I'm one of the top five
players in the world."
He is not 38-year-old Tiger Woods. He is 23-year-old Patrick Reed.

On Sunday afternoon, after proclaiming his greatness, Reed battled his way to a 72 on Trump National Doral and a one-stroke victory over Bubba Watson and Jamie Donaldson. Reed is the youngest winner of a World Golf Championship. His wire-to-wire victory at the Blue Monster was his third PGA Tour title since last August.

As Doug Ferguson pointed out in his AP story, Reed has now racked up three wins in 14 tour starts and moved to No. 20 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He is not quietly confident.

Reed afterward: "I don't see a lot of guys that have done that besides Tiger Woods and the legends of the game. I believe in myself, especially with how hard I've worked. I'm one of the top five players in the world. I feel like I've proven myself."

Meanwhile, the man who made red and black fearsome on Sunday struggled to a final-round 78 in the pairing directly ahead of Reed and Jason Dufner. Woods nursed an ailing back during a final 18 that included no birdies. Tiger's status is uncertain, but he hopes to be ready for the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.


In other red and black news, San Diego State (my alma mater) beat New Mexico on Saturday night to win the Mountain West in basketball. The Aztecs are ranked No. 8 as they head into the conference tournament this week. Sorry to veer off topic, but I couldn't help it. Actually, I could help it, but I didn't want to.

Friday, March 7

USGA Exhibit Highlights William Powell and First African-American Golf Club


(The following edited content was supplied by the USGA in a news release.)

William "Bill" Powell
THE UNITED STATES GOLF ASSOCIATION (USGA) is honoring African-American golf pioneers as part of the USGA Museum's newest exhibit, "More Than A Game," which focuses on how the creation of African-American golf clubs positively impacted the community despite the prejudice and racism of the Jim Crow era. The exhibit opened on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, and will run for two years.

The centerpiece of "More Than A Game" is the story of the late William "Bill" Powell and the Clearview Golf Club. Founded in 1946 in East Canton, Ohio, Clearview is the only public golf course in the United States designed, built and owned by an African American.

Curated by Susan Wasser, the USGA Museum's assistant director, the exhibit is one of the initiatives surrounding the African-American Golf History Archive, which was formed in 2010 by the USGA and the PGA of America to collect, preserve and celebrate the history of African Americans in golf. "More Than A Game" is the third exhibit in the USGA Museum since 2010 to celebrate minorities in golf.

"Our exhibition reflects on the lives of the pioneers in African-American golf history and how their courage and convictions changed the game," said Wasser.

A former LPGA Tour player and the head professional at Clearview, Renee Powell explained how her father was able to buy and build a golf course nearly seven decades ago.

"He taught two black doctors the game of golf and they each put in one third to purchase the first 78 acres of property," Powell said. "He borrowed his third from his older brother who mortgaged his house for my dad's share. He then began to build the first nine holes himself."

To further highlight Bill Powell's inspirational story of passion and social justice, the exhibit includes a short film produced by Dan Levinson of Moxie Pictures, whose previous work includes the award-winning documentary "Uneven Fairways," which premiered on Golf Channel in 2009.

As part of the exhibit, the USGA is also honoring other clubs that have made significant contributions to minority golf, including Shady Rest Golf and Country Club in Scotch Plains, N.J., the longtime home course of John Shippen, the first African American to play in a U.S. Open, in 1896; Langston Golf Course in Washington, D.C., home to the Wake-Robin and Royal Golf Clubs, the oldest African-American clubs still in existence; and Freeway Golf Course in Sicklerville, N.J., home course of National Black Golf Hall of Fame member Bill Bishop.

Thursday, March 6

VINE: Henrik Stenson and a Stone Cold Shank

I DON'T NORMALLY POST BAD MOMENTS, but I guess I'm feeling a little ornery today. I first saw this shank mentioned at Geoff Shackelford's site. When I clicked to watch it, the video was blocked. Instead, this message:

This video contains content from the PGA TOUR, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.

I thought, "Really? Is it that big of a deal?" So, here's a Vine.

Everybody, and I mean everybody, hits an occasional ugly shot, shanks included. Even the No. 3 player in the world. I think Henrik Stenson can handle it. Stenson is currently 1 over after seven holes at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

You might not want to watch this too long. In fact, I might take it down later. Or I might not.

Wednesday, March 5

Johnny Miller's Secret to Winning Majors

Johnny at Pebble Beach. (Lexus)
LAST WEEK NBC SPORTS HOSTED a media conference call in advance of the PGA Tour's Florida Swing. Sportscaster Dan Hicks, analysts Johnny Miller and Frank Nobilo, and on-course reporter Notah Begay discussed a range of topics.

On winning majors, here's Johnny unedited and unfiltered:
The secret to majors, let's face it, we've made such a big deal out of major championships, that it's really about handling pressure. Some guys, including me with the putting, I justthe pressure got me. I was lucky to win two of them. I had three seconds in the Masters, but I would have won a Masters or two if I had just putted reasonably well, but I justit's all about handling pressure and dealing with pressure even on Thursday, right off the get-go.

You can get that in practice rounds a little bit. But if guys win majors it's by accident. But there's not a lot of guys that basically just go in and play a great major and be dominant and win. It's almost an accidental win, within reason. Obviously they've got to perform, but like Tiger would do it systematically and take it all apart and leave everybody. Phil could do it a little bit. But it is just all about pressure.

We've made such a big deal with the majors, starting with Jack Nicklaus, and of course Tiger taking the ball and bringing it to more of a crescendo. It's pretty amazing. 
If you win a major you've got to deal with a lot of choke-y type putts and shots and handling the pressure of it and knowing it's going to change your life. It's hard to do.
I think Johnny might be on to something. I love "choke-y type putts and shots."


Who on the call said this about Tiger Woods?
I think his game has come back down to earth a little bit. I do think he has the ability to create that separation, and he doesn't necessarily have to have his "A" game, but it used to be that he could be somewhat off of his game and still finish in the top 10. I think that if you just look at his top-10 performances over the last two or three years, they're not as high of a percentage as they were prior to the scandal.

I think that those are two things that you just really need to look at, and so prior to everything that's happened away from golf, if you were to pace your game according to Tiger Woods, you knew you were going to be around the top 10 and probably most likely near the lead. And I don't think that's the case right now.
Multiple choice:
A. Notah Begay
B. Johnny Miller
C. Frank Nobilo

Tuesday, March 4

Is Trump's Doonbeg Acquisition Good for Irish Golf? (Conclusion)

By Kevin Markham

Copyright © Kevin Markham. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Following is the final installment on Donald Trump and Doonbeg. Read Part 1.

Changing Doonbeg's Fairways

The rugged beauty of Doonbeg. (Kevin Markham)
Greg Norman's course will be updated. No question. Trump likes to fiddle and he’ll find things he doesn't like about this course. He's also in the position to do something about it. The question is, who will get the call to upgrade/redesign? Will it be Martin Hawtree, fresh from the Aberdeen project, or will he bring in an American who is less familiar with natural linksland? Waterville brought in Fazio, a move that delivered, despite initial scepticism.

Is that good for Irish golf?

Broadly speaking, yes. It will employ people while the changes are being made, and it may well attract golfers who have already played it and wish to play the revised course/layout.

The Environment

Trump hasn't a clue what the environment is. For starters, he is a climate change denier. He also proudly boasted that at his Aberdeen resort he had anchored a major dune system, which just happened to be one of the last moving, shape-shifting, natural networks of sand dunes in Europe. And he thought this was a good thing.

What will he do/change at Doonbeg? The tiny snails (Vertigo Angustior) that caused such controversy in the early years and were subsequently protected should be safe… should! So should the right-of-way across the course.

But now that there's a million Euros-worth of storm damage to the coastline, he has an opportunity to make changes repairs that might not otherwise have been possible. The local council, the Department of the Environment and the EU will be hard-pressed to stop him if he sets his mind on a particular change repair.

Is that good for Irish golf?

No. The environment should never be jeopardised for the sake of a golf course.

Doonbeg's Saviour

Has he ‘saved’ Doonbeg? No, of course not. He saw a bargain to add to his empire and he snatched it up. Who wouldn't at that price? And that's the point—Doonbeg would have been purchased regardless. The receivers said they had 12 interested parties. A world class resort would have remained a world class resort with or without Trump, so jobs would have been saved, the local economy would have ticked over and visiting golfers would continue to be pampered.

Is that good for Irish golf?

On the basis that he brings more money and a big golf brand to the table, yes, it should be good for Irish golf. But he's no saviour.

An Irish Open

Could he, should he, would he hold an Irish Open given the chance? Of course he would. If Ballybunion can host it, why not Doonbeg?

Is that good for Irish golf?

Monday, March 3

VIDEO: Paula Creamer Sinks 75-Footer for Win

AT A CONFERENCE IN RICHMOND, I didn't watch a lick of golf this weekend. So when a friend asked me what I thought about Tiger Woods and has back problems, I told him I was out of the loop. I didn't see Rory McIlroy stumble to the clubhouse with a closing 74 at the Honda Classic. Nor did I see any of the four-man playoff won by Russell Henley.

I just watched the surprising video (above) of Paula Creamer at the HSBC Women's Champions, so I'm sharing it with you. The Pink Panther was on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff with Azahara Munoz. Creamer was putting for an eagle, but she was miles away (75 feet). The announcer in the clip said it would be a miracle if she made it.

She made it.

With the unlikely eagle, Creamer earned her 10th LPGA title and first victory since the 2010 U.S. Women's Open, snapping a winless streak that had stretched to 79 tournaments. She moved up three spots in the Rolex Rankings to eighth.

Creamer talked about THE PUTT afterward.

"I could stand there all day long and hit a putt there, and charting it, it was saying five, six feet, and you know, it hit the back of the hole and went in. I really didn't even watch the last four feet of it. I was just hoping it would slow down when it was near the hole and then it disappeared.

"I looked at Colin [her caddie]. He said this has been coming, you've been working so hard, and things haven't gone your way in certain situations and finally kind of had a bit of luck with that one, and it did and it went in. I seriously cannot tell you the way I felt. It was like somebody just knocked the wind out of me. It was pretty amazing."