Tuesday, June 30

A 57 With 3 Aces in Virginia

PATRICK WILLS, A 59-YEAR-OLD AMATEUR, had a pretty good day recently at Laurel Hill Golf Club in Lorton, Virginia. Playing in the Summer Solstice tournament with his sons Charlie (29) and Christopher (27) and Matthew Ghormley, the former Marine shot a 57 that included three holes-in-one, two of them coming on par-4 holes.

"When we got to the green I looked down and I don't even know what I felt -- I was dumbfounded," Wills told BBC Sport about recording his third ace of the round. "I don't know if I broke out in joy such was the disbelief. It was unreal. I had never experienced anything like that before."

The odds of making three 1's in a single round are astronomical -- "well into the billions," reported BBC Sport.

Laurel Hill golf director Gene Orrico verified the scorecard.

"I was shocked," Orrico said. "I have been around golf for a long time, read the stories, and to have three [holes-in-one] in one round is incredible. Patrick has been around a long time, he is an honourable man and well respected."

The 57 on the par-71 layout was the middle round, one of three 18s played on the same day. In the first round Wills scraped it around in 68. (Ha ha.) He closed with a 66 for a 14-under total and his 20th victory in the Summer Solstice tournament. He is a plus-4 handicap who has now recorded more than 20 aces, all in tournaments.

BBC Sport has a detailed writeup of Wills' 57.

Monday, June 29

Retired Golf Broadcaster Peter Oosterhuis Has Alzheimer's

A FIXTURE ON GOLF BROADCASTS SINCE 1995, Peter Oosterhuis was not flashy or particularly chatty as a golf announcer and analyst for the BBC, CBS Sports and Golf Channel, which is what I liked about him. Oosterhuis just went about the job without an excess of words or calling attention to himself.

In May, at an event for the Jim Nantz Alzheimer's Center, Oosterhuis, 67, publicly announced that he has Alzheimer's disease. (Golf World released the above video today.)

"It's a horrible disease," said Roothie Oosterhuis, Peter's wife. "It not only affects Peter. It affects me, it affects our children, it affects our grandchildren, it affects our friends.

"It took nine months for us to accept the fact that Peter has this. He is, as always, elegant and amazing in standing up to the situation."

Contrary to what I wrote above, I suppose Oosterhuis is calling attention to himself in this instance, but it's a brave call for the right reasons. Oosterhuis will be openly sharing about his personal challenge with a disease our society needs to understand better, and also helping to raise awareness and perhaps research money along the way.

As you may know, Oosterhuis was a good player -- a member of six European Ryder Cup teams and winner of more than 20 worldwide titles.

"Golf has been a big part of my life ever since I was a little boy growing up in England," Oosterhuis said when he retired in January, "and I thank CBS and Golf Channel for allowing me to continue in the sport after my playing days were over."

Friday, June 26

Looking for Bobby Locke's Famous Hickory-Shafted Putter (Conclusion)

The mystery surrounding Bobby Locke's hickory-shafted putter included a high-profile golf auction. Read Part 1.
John Coyne concludes his two-part series on the mysterious search for the hickory-shafted putter used by Bobby Locke, the South African golf legend who won four British Opens and entered the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1977. Read Part 1.

By John Coyne

Copyright © John Coyne. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

"FROM 1953 TO 1955,"  ACCORDING to Bobby Locke's nephew Alfred Pratt, "Bobby Locke made routine visits to the Slazengers works at Horbury, Yorkshire, for technical and business reasons. Alfred Pratt was also at Horbury and employed by the company.

While at the factory, Pratt says, Bobby was persuaded to switch from using the "Dunlop 65" golf ball to the "Slazengers B51."

Also, Locke agreed to have a replica putter be manufactured by Slazengers as a precautionary measure in case he lost his famous putter. "Bobby agreed that replica proto-types be made," says Pratt, "and the company considered that there might be a market for such replicas and the proto-types could serve to calculate production costs."

Bobby Locke in 1955.
(Image courtesy of Alfred Pratt)
The main problem was that, by those times, stainless steel golf-club heads were all "drop-forged" and not hand-forged, blacksmith style. The slim shafts to fit were exclusively steel. There was, in fact, a steel-shafted, "Bobby Locke Triple Crown" putter already in standard production. The head was shaped on the form of the original, as near as could be. A quantity of suitable heads was obtained for grinding and finishing with special hosels for drilling out to accommodate the thicker, tapered, hickory shafts, secured with the usual rivet pin. The American hickory timber also had to be especially imported for making into shafts.

Six or more hickory-shafted putters were manufactured as specified with shiny stainless steel heads and inscribed/stamped "Bobby Locke" and "Slazengers" for him for testing and choice. After trying out the samples, Locke selected several of these as a gift from the manufacturer. 

Pratt believes one of these came up for sale as part of his memorabilia sale at Christies in 1993. A similar putter belonging to a mutual friend, Wing Commander Derek Graham, was a personal gift from Locke as a token of friendship in the 1950s and 1960s. Pratt thinks also that another replica went to Steve Pyles.

As Pratt states now: "If the head is stainless steel and it has 'Bobby Locke' on the blade, it is a replica without doubt."

On the Internet there is a statement that the famous hickory-shafted putter is in the possession of Des Froneman, "a great friend" of Locke's. However, it has a blade with "Gradidge" stamped on the sole, according to Pratt. It was accompanied by a letter of provenance from Mary Locke. This letter says: "My daughter and I have heard from Colin Taitz that you bought one of our dear Bobby's putters which we had promised to give Colin for his auction before he left us."

The letter does not say that this putter is his antique one but is "one of" his.

Tragic Plight of Locke's Wife and Daughter

Mary Locke was Bobby's second wife. He married her in 1958 and their daughter Carolyn Locke was born in 1960. The two women owned Bobby Locke Place—a section of central city of Johannesburg that had been renamed in Locke's honor. The city complex included 20 apartments and a swimming pool, all built in a 1940s architecture style. 

After Bobby Locke's death in 1987, and the decline of Johannesburg at the end of apartheid, the central city, where the complex was located, was caught up in a wave of crime, drugs and prostitution and white-flight from the city. The character and climate of central Johannesburg changed dramatically and the two women were trapped managing their buildings as that part of the city crumbled around them.

Unable to sell the property, with its value plummeting, the mother and daughter were alone and lost in poverty, and in 2000, shocking the golf world of South Africa, Mary Locke, 80, and her daughter Carolyn, 40, shared a bottle of champagne and then killed themselves.

South Africa had lost its last connection to Bobby Locke, or so they thought. 

However, nephew Alfred Pratt has returned to Cape Town to live out his life and to search for Bobby Locke's most prized possession, the old rusty putter, and to correct the errors in Locke's biography. 

"It would be a real sadness to find that Bobby Locke's old putter has, simple vanished," Pratt says today, "But perhaps it, secretly, went into his coffin with him."

Now that would be a fitting ending to the legacy of Bobby Locke and his hickory-shafted putter. A man who many consider golf's most enigmatic player.  

John Coyne is a bestselling author of three golf novels and more than 20 other books. Pay him a visit at John Coyne Books.

Uncovering the Real Bobby Locke

Thursday, June 25

2015 U.S. Senior Open Fact Sheet

The U.S. Senior Open began today in Sacramento, California. Following is select information from the "2015 U.S. Senior Open Championship Fact Sheet" provided by the United States Golf Association (USGA).

June 25-28, 2015
Del Paso Country Club, Sacramento, Calif. (2015ussenioropen.com)
Twitter: @usopengolf; Facebook.com/USGA; Instagram: @USGA; #USSeniorOpen

Del Paso Country Club will be set up at 6,994 yards and will play to a par of 36-34–70.

Del Paso County Club was designed by Scotsman John L. Black. It was redesigned and renovated by architect Kyle Phillips in 2006. The club was founded in 1916 on property that was part of the original Rancho Del Paso, a historic 44,000-acre area used by 19th-century settlers as a pathway through the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Based on the course setup for the championship, the USGA Course Rating is 74.9. Its Slope Rating is 147.

The starting field of 156 golfers will be cut after 36 holes to the low 60 scorers and ties.

Eighteen holes of stroke play are scheduled each day from Thursday, June 25, through Sunday, June 28. In the case of a tie after 72 holes, a three-hole aggregate playoff will commence immediately after the conclusion of the fourth round on June 28.

The 2014 purse was $3.35 million; the winner earned $630,000.

TELEVISION SCHEDULE                            
The U.S. Senior Open will receive at least 20 hours of live network coverage. Fox will air at least 10 hours of coverage throughout the championship. Fox Sports 1 will air at least 10 hours over the first two days of play.

Date                Network                     Broadcast Hours (PDT)
June 25           Fox Sports 1               11 a.m.-4 p.m.
June 26           Fox Sports 1               11 a.m.-4 p.m.
June 27           Fox                             11 a.m.-4 p.m.
June 28           Fox                             11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Tickets for the 2015 U.S. Senior Open Championship are available for purchase at 2015ussenioropen.com. Weekly tickets are $125 (good Thursday-Sunday with parking). Trophy Club tickets are $250.

This is the 36th U.S. Senior Open Championship. The first U.S. Senior Open, played in 1980, was conducted for golfers 55 and older. The next year, the USGA lowered the minimum age to 50. Miller Barber captured the first of his three U.S. Senior Open titles in 1982 – he also won in 1984 and 1985. The U.S. Senior Open has four two-time winners: Gary Player (1987, 1988), Jack Nicklaus (1991, 1993), Hale Irwin (1998, 2000), and Allen Doyle (2005, 2006). Doyle became the championship’s oldest winner in 2006 at the age of 58 years, 13 days. The youngest champion is Dale Douglass, who won in 1986 at the age of 50 years, 3 months, 24 days.

This is the first U.S. Senior Open Championship and the fifth USGA championship to be conducted at Del Paso Country Club.

1998 U.S. Senior Open: Riviera Country Club, Pacific Palisades, Calif. (Hale Irwin)

Billy Casper (1959, 1966 U.S. Open; 1983 U.S. Senior Open)
Hale Irwin (1974, 1979, 1990 U.S. Open; 1998, 2000 U.S. Senior Open)
Orville Moody (1969 U.S. Open; 1989 U.S. Senior Open)
Jack Nicklaus (1962, 1967, 1972, 1980 U.S. Open; 1991, 1993 U.S. Senior Open)
Arnold Palmer (1960 U.S. Open; 1981 U.S. Senior Open)
Gary Player (1965 U.S. Open; 1987, 1988 U.S. Senior Open)
Lee Trevino (1968, 1971 U.S. Open: 1990 U.S. Senior Open)

Aug. 11-14, 2016: Scioto Country Club, Columbus, Ohio
June 29-July 2, 2017: Salem Country Club, Peabody, Mass.

Wednesday, June 24

Looking for Bobby Locke's Famous Hickory-Shafted Putter

Following up "Uncovering the Real Bobby Locke" published here last month, John Coyne takes us on a mysterious search for the hickory-shafted putter used by Locke, the South African golf legend who won four British Opens and entered the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1977. This is the first of two parts.

By John Coyne

Copyright © John Coyne. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

THE DAY OF BOBBY LOCKE'S near fatal accident, he played golf at Clovelly Country Club, near Cape Town with his nephew Alfred Pratt and two other friends. After the round, Alfred put his clubs and Locke's in the boot (as they say in South Africa) of Locke's Vauxhall Cresta and then the foursome went into the club's bar for a drink. 

At the time, Pratt said, "Locke was heavily involved in drinking," so a few drinks later, Pratt had enough and decided to leave his clubs in Locke's car and just walk home on his own.

Bobby Locke with his
famous flatstick.
Later, he—and the world—would learn Locke and another golf pro, Maurice Bodmer, were injured when Locke's car was hit by a train at a rail crossing. It was February 1960 and both men were taken to the Groote Schuur Hospital. In the accident, Locke's clubs were scattered all over the road and adjacent verges. Bobby Locke's famous hickory shafted putter and his five iron went missing.

"My own clubs," Pratt recalls, "had remained intact in the boot of the car but the bag was stained with Locke's blood. Bobby himself had been flung backwards through the rear windscreen and spread-eagled and bleeding across the boot lid."

After the accident, Pratt put an ad in the local newspaper offering a reward of ten pounds for the return of the two clubs and they were returned.

"It was a relief when the finder gave them to me," he says. "I gave the clubs to Locke and he continued to use them. The famous antique putter was in regular use and I played many rounds with Locke and he certainly had the real putter in his hands in the early nineteen-sixties."

In 1963, Pratt emigrated to the UK and never physically handled or saw the putter again. "However, I have copied photographic evidence of his continued use of the putter into his advancing years." There is evidence, too, of Locke using the putter as seen in his autobiographical and golf instruction book, Bobby Locke on Golf published 1953.

A Misleading Auction

Then, on July 9, 1993, Pratt attended in London Christies' Bobby Locke Memorabilia Sale. He had planned to buy Locke's hickory-shafted putter as an investment and a keepsake until he saw and read in the brochure this description of Lot 120:  "Bobby Locke’s Putter, a hickory shafted putter with silvered head and inscribed on the sole 'Bobby Locke' with lengthened and thickened leather grip, circa 1950” – expected sum £800 to £1000. 

The wording, Pratt thought, implied that the item was his regular putter and not another. It did sell at the auction for £2400 plus Value Added Tax but not to Alfred Pratt.

"When I saw the item and the brochure photograph I did not make a bid. I knew for certain that Bobby Locke's putter was a rusty antique, which I had seen  many times, as given to him by his father or by a friend Bob Weallans."

Locke's putter, an individually hand-made antique, bore no names of the manufacturer. Pratt was convinced Christies was in no way to blame. "They took the item for sale described 'on trust' as authenticated by Locke's heirs, Mrs Mary Locke and her daughter Carolyn," explained Pratt.

Later Carolyn Locke would confess in a golf journal interview that she and her mother had misrepresented the putters for sale. In an article that appeared in the newspaper it stated Miss Carolyn Locke, 33, confirmed that she had kept her father's famous putter, a non-named brand, hickory-shafted rusty-bladed golf stick given to him by his father."

Carolyn and her mother would also donate or sell one of those replica putters to the St. Andrews Museum with a signed provenance that it was the putter used by Locke. The two putters on display there, however, are both shiny headed and inscribed with modern stampings and Locke's name. This means that neither can be the genuine object, according to Alfred Pratt. He might have used them or tested them but they are not the genuine article.

Why is there such confusion and misrepresentation of Locke's famous hickory-shafted putter?

Alfred Pratt knows why.


John Coyne is a bestselling author of three golf novels and more than 20 other books. Pay him a visit at John Coyne Books.

Tuesday, June 23

Those Unruly Trains at Chambers Bay

Nicklaus on Spieth: 'He Has Become One of Golf's Greats'

Jack Nicklaus
JACK NICKLAUS GUSHED ABOUT JORDAN SPIETH after Spieth captured his first U.S. Open and second straight major at Chambers Bay on Sunday.

With 18 professional major victories, Nicklaus set the standard for greatness, but he also sees it in young Spieth, whose record is better than Jack's at the same stage of their respective careers.

"It was interesting to follow the U.S. Open from afar," Nicklaus commented on his Facebook page, "whether it was on the U.S. feed in China or streaming video on the phone or just checking scores occasionally -- because it made you try to anticipate which golfer would hold up under U.S. Open pressure.

"Going into Sunday's final round, there was a certain level of confidence in Jordan. He showed again that he is battle-tested and mature beyond his 21 years. He now has two major championship victories, six wins, and 27 top-10 finishes, and he is still younger than I was when I won my first tournament at 22."

Nicklaus added, "I have always said that winning breeds winning, and that holds true even at the age of 21. This victory further validates that Jordan is not only one of today's great young players, he has become one of golf's greats -- period. Wow."

Monday, June 22

Strange Golf Theater on the Puget Sound

WHAT A STRANGE U.S. OPEN. And I'm not talking about Curtis.

Jordan Spieth has two majors.
(Image courtesy of AT&T)
This one, the 115th, had some firsts. The first U.S. Open in the Pacific Northwest. The first U.S. Open broadcast by FOX Sports. The first U.S. Open (that I know of) that had holes (1 and 18) that changed par according to the whims of the USGA's course-setup guru, Mike Davis.

It might not have been the first U.S. Open to look and play like a British Open (think Shinnecock Hills), but it seemed as if it was. And, although loud complaining about the course is an annual U.S. Open tradition, it may have been the first national championship to provoke a near unanimous rejection of the putting surfaces.

(How many times did you hear about fescue and poa?)

On Golf Channel, Gary Player totally lost it. You'd think he'd spent four days hacking it around Chambers Bay and jabbing putts on those bumpy brown greens. What a spectacle.

In the end, that same kid who slipped into the Green Jacket in April now has his name on the silver U.S. Open trophy. Jordan Spieth was the winner after Dustin Johnson, who at times seemed destined to finally win his first major, three-putted from 12 feet on the 72nd green.

Halfway to golf's grand slam, Spieth, at least initially, couldn't process what had happened. "I don't really know," Spieth replied when asked how he felt moments after it was over.

I could have said the same thing after watching this U.S. Open the last several days. I was trying to figure out what I thought about that bizarre finish, about Chambers Bay, about FOX Sports and about the USGA, the course setup and, yes, those greens. And I've watched a lot of U.S. Opens. Perhaps too many.

About the finish. Some U.S. Opens are won. (Last year's, for instance.) Some are survived. This one felt like the latter. Not to take anything away from Spieth. His 5-under total was the lowest score, and the lowest score wins. But the leaders -- Johnson, Spieth, Branden Grace -- stumbled through the closing holes, hitting sublime shots and then suddenly spraying the ball to ungodly places or nudging tentative putts on those crazy greens.

I'll admit this: I didn't have a good feeling when Johnson settled over that comebacker on the last green. There might have been millions of others who felt the same way.

Spieth simply survived Chambers Bay better than the rest.

Prior to the start of the tournament, I didn't think much about the interchangeable par employed by the USGA on holes 1 and 18. Now that it's over, I'd say I don't like it. It's as if they're trying to be a little too clever, adding yet one more trick to their bag of tricks for golf's toughest examination. I don't think it's necessary.

I do like that the USGA took the U.S. Open to Chambers Bay, a relatively new public links-style course perched beside the Puget Sound. It was a risky move. Yes, the greens were a problem, but the course itself was interesting and a departure from typical Open venues. Maybe Chambers Bay will get an encore. Maybe players will get another crack at it with smoother putting surfaces.

I had an open mind when it came to FOX. By the end of the week, I admit to broadcast fatigue. I expect they'll get better.

The good thing about modern golf telecasts is that we get to see coverage of all the holes and watch virtually the entire tournament. That's also the bad thing. There are hours and hours and hours to fill. That's a curse, I think, especially here in America where more talk, more everything are often considered better.

It's not better, though, especially when quality is absent.

On to St. Andrews.

Friday, June 19

VIDEO: Playing Golf in Seattle-Tacoma Area

UNLIKE CHAMBERS BAY, SITE OF THE 2015 U.S. Open, most golf courses west of the Cascade Mountains (the wet and cool side) are as green as green can be. Of course, Chambers Bay, a links-style layout set up for this week's Open, is meant to be brownish. No problem there. At least not for me.

So, in general, what's golf like in Seattle, Tacoma and the Pacific Northwest?

Yes, it's damp or wet much of the year, but I found the golf to be great during my 16 years as a Seattle resident. There are lots of golf courses and, to my surprise when I first arrived in the area, there are lots of hardy golfers.

I was really into it during my early years there. My rule for winter golf: if it was 40 degrees or higher, I played. And, yes, I played in the rain. There's really no choice because it rains, or at least drizzles, much of the year.

The above video presented by Titleist shows Chambers Bay and the surrounding area, featuring everyday golfers like you and me talking about the game and where they play it.

Thursday, June 18

Golf Journalist John Derr Was a Master Storyteller

Legendary golf journalist John Derr died on Saturday, June 6, the day American Pharoah won the Belmont Stakes to become the first horse in nearly three decades to capture the Triple Crown. Derr's daughter believes he had a heart attack while watching the historic race. He was 97. You can read the New York Times obituary here.

I wrote the following piece about John Derr in 2010.

* * *

For years Lloyd Mangrum and I met on a bench outside the locker room and recalled the early days and did a thorough job of "character assassination" on some old acquaintances. Then one day I found no one to help me remember. So I don't sit there anymore.
John Derr sharing a Masters memory in 2007

I'M CONVINCED THAT JOHN DERR has more golf (and other) stories than any person I've encountered. The 92-year-old sports commentator has included many of them in a new volume titled My Place at the Table: Stories of Golf and Life. The introduction is penned by bestselling author James Dodson.

John Derr broadcasting golf for CBS-TV.
I came to know John through a mutual acquaintance a few years ago. Since then he has shared a handful of his memories with me. Beginning in 1935, John covered 62 Masters as a print and broadcast journalist, including the first 16 that were covered by CBS-TV.

In 2007, John won the prestigious Masters Major Achievement Award. I asked him at the time what it was like to cover the Masters in those earlier days.

"Exacting, frustrating, very rewarding," John said. "I always felt fortunate to be there, seeing the play, and it was my pleasure to try to let others share my joy through my description. I was heard by many, but I always tried to put myself in the position of being a reporter for a shut-in who could not be there in person. I was telling him or her what was happening—that one person.

"My job was reporting it fairly and honestly, even though some of the golfers were especially good and close friends. As a reporter you must be neutral. You are no longer a cheering fan. Communications were critical in the early days, both for a writer and especially for a broadcaster early on. But we found a way to do it."

When John said that some of the golfers were his friends, he was referring to men like Ben Hogan and Sam Snead. John walked every step with Hogan at Carnoustie in 1953 when the golf legend won the only British Open he ever entered.

"John Derr is one of the few people I would trust to get the story right and report it as it happened," Hogan said. Snead commented that Derr "could be counted on to get to the heart of the story."

If you glance at the list of people John knew and covered through the years, it reads like a who's who of the 20th century. John covered far more than golf. His reporting and life travels allowed him to cross paths with Babe Ruth, Bobby Jones, Albert Einstein, Byron Nelson, Grace Kelly, Presidents Herbert Hoover and Dwight Eisenhower, Joe DiMaggio, Billy Graham, Mahatma Gandhi, Babe Zaharias, Bing Crosby, Rocky Marciano, Edward Murrow, Jack Dempsey, Richard Nixon, Henry Ford and every important golfer from Jones to Woods not already mentioned.

"Just color me lucky," John wrote in the prologue of My Place at the Table.

His memory and pen are still agile. The 100 or so stories in the book are told with clarity and a kind of offhanded charm that make the reader feel like that "one person" who is privy to an amazing little tale.

Wednesday, June 17

Greg Instead of Johnny, FOX Instead of NBC

THE 115TH U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP will be different. That's for sure.

First, it will be played on a links-style layout that opened on the edge of the Puget Sound way back in 2007. So much for tradition. Second, this national championship will be broadcast by FOX Sports. Goodbye, Johnny. Hello, Greg (Norman).

I like Chambers Bay. At least I like the idea of it. If the USGA's Mike Davis gets the setup right -- and he usually does -- it should be spectacular. I don't know what to think about FOX, yet. I do know they are revved up for their 38.5 hours of U.S. Open coverage.

So, tomorrow, remember to tune in to FOX Sports 1. Following is the U.S. Open TV schedule. All times Pacific Daylight Time (PDT).

Date                Network                                 Broadcast Hours (Local/PDT)
June 18           Fox Sports 1                           9 a.m.-5 p.m.
                       Fox                                        5-8 p.m.     
June 19           Fox Sports 1                           9 a.m.-5 p.m.
                       Fox                                        5-8 p.m.
June 20           Fox                                         11 a.m.-7 p.m.
                       Fox Deportes                          4-7:30 p.m.
June 21           Fox                                         11 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
                       Fox Deportes                          4-7:30 p.m.
June 22*          Fox Sports 1 & Fox                 Noon to conclusion
*If needed, an 18-hole playoff will be scheduled

Notes: Fox and Fox Sports 1 will air more than 38 hours of live coverage throughout the championship. Seven-time Emmy Award-winning announcer Joe Buck serves as the lead U.S. Open on Fox announcer and is joined by lead analyst, World Golf Hall of Famer and two-time major champion Greg Norman in the 18th Tower throughout the week. Other analysts include former professionals Brad Faxon, Corey Pavin, Tom Weiskopf, Steve Flesch, Juli Inkster, Scott McCarron and Jay Delsing, in addition to course design expert Gil Hanse. Additional members of the coverage team are Charles Davis and Holly Sonders (on-course reporters), Curt Menefee and Shane O’Donoghue (hosts) and rules expert David Fay.

2015 U.S. Open Odds: Rory McIlroy at 7/1

U.S. OPEN ODDS from Bovada. The fun begins tomorrow at Chambers Bay in University Place, Washington.

US Open - Outright Winner
Rory McIlroy                 7/1 
Jordan Spieth               8/1 
Dustin Johnson             18/1 
Justin Rose                   18/1 
Phil Mickelson               18/1 
Rickie Fowler                18/1 
Henrik Stenson              25/1 
Adam Scott                  28/1 
Bubba Watson              28/1 
Hideki Matsuyama         33/1 
Jason Day                    33/1 
Jim Furyk                      33/1 
Jimmy Walker               33/1 
Sergio Garcia                33/1 
Martin Kaymer               40/1 
Matt Kuchar                  40/1 
Patrick Reed                 40/1 
Billy Horschel                50/1 
Brandt Snedeker           50/1 
Brooks Koepka             50/1 
Tiger Woods                 50/1 
Byeong Hun An             66/1 
Keegan Bradley             66/1 
Lee Westwood              66/1 
Paul Casey                   66/1 
Ryan Moore                  66/1 
Zach Johnson               66/1  
Bill Haas                       80/1 
Chris Kirk                      80/1 
Graeme McDowell         80/1 
Hunter Mahan                80/1 
Ian Poulter                    80/1 
J.B. Holmes                  80/1 
Jason Dufner                80/1 
Kevin Kisner                  80/1 
Kevin Na                       80/1 
Louis Oosthuizen           80/1 
Luke Donald                 80/1 
Ryan Palmer                 80/1 
Webb Simpson             80/1 
Danny Willett                 100/1 
Francesco Molinari        100/1 
Gary Woodland             100/1 
Jamie Donaldson          100/1 
Marc Leishman              100/1 
Shane Lowry                 100/1 

Monday, June 15

My Father's Day Gift Recommendations

(Image via Jack Nicklaus on Facebook.)
IF YOU ARE STILL IN NEED of a Father's Day gift, I can recommend my two golf books: DRAW IN THE DUNES: The 1969 Ryder Cup and the Finish That Shocked the World and THE LONGEST SHOT: Jack Fleck, Ben Hogan, and Pro Golf's Greatest Upset at the 1955 U.S. Open.

Both books are published by St. Martin's Press and are available at the usual places in hardcover and ebook versions.

DRAW IN THE DUNES includes a foreword by Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin. I'd like to say Jack recommends it, but instead I'll just say that, well, look at his desk in the above photo. The book received favorable reviews.

THE LONGEST SHOT was named a Top 10 Sports Book of 2012 by Booklist. Charlie Nance of WFNZ The Fan interviewed me last week to mark the 60th anniversary of Jack Fleck's titanic upset of Ben Hogan. Listen to the interview (segment two).

Best wishes to all fathers.

Sunday, June 14

2015 U.S. Open Fact Sheet

Select information from the "2015 U.S. Open Championship Fact Sheet" provided by the United States Golf Association (USGA).

June 18-21, 2015
Chambers Bay, University Place, Wash. (chambersbaygolf.com)
Twitter: @usopengolf; Facebook: facebook.com/usopen; Instagram: @USGA; #USOpen

Chambers Bay will play to a par of 36-34-70 when the first hole is a par 5 and 35-35-70 when the 18th hole is a par 5. The total yardage of the course will be in the range of 7,200 to 7,600 yards. The exact yardage (from tee markers to flagsticks) will be provided on a daily basis for each of the four championship rounds. The setup will depend on weather/wind conditions and matching certain teeing grounds with certain hole locations.

Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., Chambers Bay opened in 2007. The course is built on the site of a former sand and gravel quarry adjacent to Puget Sound. The course is the centerpiece of a 930-acre county park. Pierce County acquired the land in 1992.

Based on the course setup for the championship, the USGA Course Rating is 77.3. Its Slope Rating is 145.

The starting field of 156 golfers will be cut after 36 holes to the low 60 scorers and ties.

Eighteen holes of stroke play are scheduled each day from June 18 (Thursday) through June 21 (Sunday). In the event of a tie after 72 holes, an 18-hole playoff will be conducted on June 22 (Monday), beginning at noon (PDT).

EXEMPT PLAYERS WITH MOST U.S. OPEN APPEARANCES (through 2014): Phil Mickelson (24), Ernie Els (22), Jim Furyk (20), Lee Janzen (19) and Tiger Woods (18).

The benefits received by the U.S. Open winner include:
A U.S. Open exemption for the next 10 years
An invitation to the next five Masters Tournaments
An invitation to the next five British Open Championships
An invitation to the next five PGA Championships
An invitation to the next five Players Championships
Exempt status on the PGA Tour for five years

This is the 115th U.S. Open Championship. The U.S. Open, which was first played in 1895, was not contested for two years (1917-18) during World War I and for four years (1942-45) during World War II. The youngest winner of the U.S. Open is John McDermott, who won in 1911 at the age of 19. He is among eight players 21 or younger who have won the U.S. Open. The oldest winner is Hale Irwin, who was 45 and playing on a special exemption when he won his third U.S. Open title in 1990. Irwin also won in 1974 and 1979.

There are four four-time U.S. Open winners: Willie Anderson (1901, 1903, 1904, 1905), amateur Robert T. Jones Jr. (1923, 1926, 1929, 1930), Ben Hogan (1948, 1950, 1951, 1953), Jack Nicklaus (1962, 1967, 1972, 1980).

Only five players have won the Masters and U.S. Open titles in the same year: Craig Wood (1941), Hogan (1951, 1953), Arnold Palmer (1960), Nicklaus (1972) and Tiger Woods (2002).

The 2014 purse was $8.684 million; the winner earned $1,620,000.

2015 U.S. Open Players Who Competed in 2010 U.S. Amateur (11): Byeong-Hun An (semifinalist), Blayne Barber (Rd. 32), Russell Henley (FQ), Morgan Hoffmann (quarterfinalist), Tom Hoge (FQ), Alex Kim (Rd. 32), Brooks Koepka (FQ), Denny McCarthy (Rd. 64), Cheng-Tsung Pan (Rd. 64), Patrick Reed (Rd. 32) and Jordan Spieth (FQ).

This is the first U.S. Open contested in the Pacific Northwest. The U.S. Open has been played 12 times on the Pacific Coast, including the 2012 championship at The Olympic Club’s Lake Course in San Francisco. Riviera Country Club, in Los Angeles, hosted the 1948 U.S. Open, the first on the Pacific Coast. Ben Hogan won the first of his four U.S. Opens by two strokes over Jimmy Demaret.

U.S. Open Championships on Pacific Coast (12)
1948: Riviera Country Club, Los Angeles, Calif. (Ben Hogan)
1955: The Olympic Club (Lake Course), San Francisco, Calif. (Jack Fleck)
1966: The Olympic Club (Lake Course), San Francisco, Calif. (Billy Casper)
1972: Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links (Jack Nicklaus)
1982: Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links (Tom Watson)
1987: The Olympic Club (Lake Course), San Francisco, Calif. (Scott Simpson)
1992: Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links (Tom Kite)
1998: The Olympic Club (Lake Course), San Francisco, Calif. (Lee Janzen)
2000: Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links (Tiger Woods)
2008: Torrey Pines Golf Course (South Course), San Diego, Calif. (Tiger Woods)
2010: Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links (Graeme McDowell)
2012: The Olympic Club (Lake Course), San Francisco, Calif. (Webb Simpson)

Martin Kaymer: last international winner (2014)
Curtis Strange: last to defend title (1989)
Francis Ouimet: last winner in his first attempt (1913)
Webb Simpson: last winner in his second attempt (2012)
Martin Kaymer: last start-to-finish winner with no ties (2014)
a-Robert T. Jones Jr.: last winner to birdie the 72nd hole to win by one stroke (1926)
Tiger Woods: last winner to birdie the 72nd hole (2008)
Tiger Woods: last winner to birdie the 72nd hole to force a playoff (2008)
Geoff Ogilvy: last winner without a round in the 60s (2006)
Rory McIlroy: last winner with all rounds in the 60s (2011)
Martin Kaymer: last winner between ages 20-29 (29 in 2014)
Justin Rose: last winner between ages 30-39 (32 in 2013)
Payne Stewart: last winner age 40 and older (42 in 1999)
Rory McIlroy: last defending champion to miss the cut (2012)
Hale Irwin: last winner who received a special exemption (1990)
Lucas Glover: last winner to come through sectional qualifying (2009)
Orville Moody: last winner to come through local and sectional qualifying (1969)
John Goodman: last amateur winner (1933)

The U.S. Open will receive at least 44 hours of network coverage. Fox and Fox Sports 1 will air more than 38 hours of live coverage throughout the championship. Seven-time Emmy Award-winning announcer Joe Buck serves as the lead U.S. Open on Fox announcer and is joined by lead analyst, World Golf Hall of Famer and two-time major champion Greg Norman in the 18th Tower throughout the week. Other analysts include former professionals Brad Faxon, Corey Pavin, Tom Weiskopf, Steve Flesch, Juli Inkster, Scott McCarron and Jay Delsing, in addition to course design expert Gil Hanse. Additional members of the coverage team are Charles Davis and Holly Sonders (on-course reporters), Curt Menefee and Shane O’Donoghue (hosts) and rules expert David Fay.

Date                Network                                 Broadcast Hours (Local/PDT)
June 14           Fox Sports 1                           Drive to the Open, 7-8 p.m.
June 16           Fox Sports 1                           Preview, 12:30-1 p.m.
June 17           Fox Sports 1                           Preview, 9-10 a.m.
June 18           Fox Sports 1                           9 a.m.-5 p.m.
                       Fox                                        5-8 p.m.         
June 19           Fox Sports 1                           9 a.m.-5 p.m.
                       Fox                                        5-8 p.m.
June 20           Fox                                         11 a.m.-7 p.m.
                       Fox Deportes                          4-7:30 p.m.
June 21           Fox                                         11 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
                       Fox Deportes                          4-7:30 p.m.
June 22*          Fox Sports 1 & Fox                 Noon to conclusion
*If needed, an 18-hole playoff will be scheduled

The first United States Open Championship was won by Horace Rawlins in September 1895, at Newport (R.I.) Country Club. As the victor, Rawlins earned $150, a gold champion’s medal, and use of the championship sterling silver cup for one year. The trophy was designated for display at Rawlins’ club until presented to the next year’s champion, beginning a perennial rite that has endured for more than a century.

The original two-handled cup was destroyed by fire in September 1946 at Lloyd Mangrum’s home country club, Tam O’Shanter, outside of Chicago. The USGA considered replacing it with a new design, but opted instead to preserve the look of the original with a full-scale replica on April 24, 1947. This replica remained in service, passed from champion to champion until 1986, when it was permanently retired to the USGA Museum. Today, the U.S. Open champion receives possession of the 1986 full-scale replica.

The original U.S. Open Trophy is on display at the USGA Museum in Far Hills, N.J.