Monday, February 29

Adam Scott: 'I Hit a Lot of Good Putts'

ADAM SCOTT WON THE HONDA CLASSIC on Sunday with his usual solid long game and -- surprise! -- a trusty short putter. PGA National, with the vaunted "Bear Trap," is a ball striker's layout. Scott and his Sunday playing partner Sergio Garcia are among the best in the business.

But who knew Scott, who hasn't won on the PGA Tour since Colonial in May 2014, would putt so well with a short stick?

During the anchored-stroke debate in recent years, you would have thought from the reactions of Scott and others that their golf careers would be all but over if a ban went into effect. WRONG. Or at least wrong based on recent evidence.

I continue to marvel at the ability of Scott and his tour brethren to adapt.

"I hit a lot of good putts, not as many went in as yesterday," Scott told Golf Channel's Steve Sands after tapping in for an even-par 70 and a 9-under winning total.

"But this is a tough track. It is hard to get it close all the time. I played exceptional yesterday so I had to reel in my expectations today, the pressure of Sunday. I got off to a good start, made one on the first and that definitely relaxed me. I hit a lot of good putts. Some didn't go in, [but] fortunately it was enough in the end."

Runner-up Garcia finished one stroke behind Scott after a 1-over 71.

"He just didn't have it," said NBC golf analyst Johnny Miller. "The pressure got to him, let's face it. That's what it was."

Of course, Sergio didn't see it that way, saying, "Obviously there are a lot of positives. I fought hard. I felt like I stayed quite calm. It's tough; it's never easy. But I gave it my all. Unfortunately a couple of bad shots on a couple of difficult holes and I wasn’t good enough."

The victory lifted Scott to No. 9 in the Official World Golf Ranking, which is not the only thing moving in the right direction, according to the Aussie.

"My game is coming to a really good spot," Scott added, "the back end of last year and now starting out this year. We've been working hard to get it there because it was slipping a little bit. It was a bit loose last year. The consistency wasn't there. I've made some nice progress in all areas, especially on the greens and it paid off this week."

Friday, February 26

Golf in Siberia: 2016 Baikal Ice Golf Festival


For example, from Pavel, who informed me about an upcoming golf event on the other side of the world.

"My name is Pavel," he said, "and write to tell you about unique golf festival, which will go on 15-20 March in the heart of Siberia on Lake Baikal."

So now I know at least two new things. They play golf in Siberia. And they play in March.

This is going to make it much harder to complain about winter golf in the United States.

Check out the photos of ice golf and more at Baikal Ice Golf 2016.

Thursday, February 25

Mutual Admiration: Phil Mickelson and Harper Lee

WHAT DO A HALL-OF-FAME GOLFER and a literary icon have in common?

Karen Crouse tells us in her New York Times story, "Phil Mickelson Never Met Harper Lee, but the Admiration Was Mutual."

Lee's father, a lawyer, introduced her to golf. "Playing golf is the best way I know to be alone and still be doing something," said the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of To Kill a Mockingbird more than a half century ago. "You hit a ball, think and take a walk."

Mickelson, who read To Kill a Mockingbird as a student, hoped to meet the famous author after he learned the Lees rooted for him in the 2004 Masters, which he won. But the meeting never took place.

It was nearly impossible for anyone to get an audience with Harper Lee.

An excerpt from Crouse's article:
[Mickelson] was thrilled to find out his fans included the woman who breathed life into the character of Atticus Finch, modeled after Lee's father. 
What if they could meet? [Crouse] placed a phone call to the Rev. Thomas Lane Butts, a Methodist minister in Lee's hometown, Monroeville, Ala. Butts served as one of the conduits to Lee, who was in an assisted-living center in the town. 
"The good Lord himself couldn't get to her," Butts said of the octogenarian Lee, who largely eschewed cellphones, social media and uninvited social calls at the assisted living facility where she lived.
He suggested that Mickelson write Lee a letter of introduction, which he said he would deliver.
An orchestrated plan ran into roadblocks, so Phil, like the rest of us, will only know and remember Lee through her landmark characters and story.

(H/T Geoff Shackelford)

Wednesday, February 24

Yani Tseng in Thailand: 'Just Grip It and Rip It'

THE LPGA TOUR IS IN CHONBURI, THAILAND, this week for the 10th edition of the Honda LPGA Thailand. Amy Yang is the defending champion, but Yani Tseng, a two-time champion of this event, is "looking for a spark," wrote LPGA Communications.

Yani Tseng (Allison)
The holder of 15 LPGA titles, Tseng is off to a slow start in 2016. She didn't make it to the weekend in the Bahamas and recorded a T60 finish at the Coates Golf Championship. Siam Country Club, where she won back-to-back in 2011 and 2012, could provide the positive jolt her game and year need.

Tseng, obviously, likes the track a lot.

"Just grip it and rip it," she said about the Pattaya Course. "This course is good for the ball strikers but you need a good strategy for the second shots. The greens are really tough."

There will be ample competition. Nine of the top 10 players in the world rankings are in the Honda LPGA Thailand field. Besides Tseng, past champions playing this week include Suzann Pettersen, Ai Miyazato, Anna Nordqvist, Inbee Park and Yang.

"This course is good for long hitters," Tseng added, "but you need to play good on the greens and place the shot on these greens. You need to be patient on this golf course."

Golf Channel will cover all four rounds, beginning on Thursday at 1 a.m. Eastern time.

NPR: 'The Best Player You Probably Never Heard Of'

Tuesday, February 23

Bernhard Langer and the Anchor Police

DESPITE THE ANCHORED-STROKE BAN that went into effect on January 1, Bernhard Langer is still rolling in putts and winning on the Champions Tour. Nothing has changed much, including his putting.

How in the world is Langer doing it?

Jamie Wallace of the USGA explained:
[Bernhard] Langer won the Chubb Classic in dominant fashion, marking his first victory since the prohibition of the anchored stroke took effect. Langer’s chosen method of putting is an excellent example of the many different strokes that can be employed while still using a long putter and conforming with the Rules of Golf. Langer has long used a broomstick putter and anchored it to this chest with his left hand. Over this past weekend, he used a slightly modified version of this stroke in which he simply moved his left hand, putter grip and forearms away from his body so that the stroke was free-flowing and not anchored. Interestingly, Langer actually anchors the club during practice swings and just prior to making his stroke, which is perfectly fine. The Rule is only breached when the club is anchored during the stroke itself.
Pretty clever and not surprising. Langer has always adapted. In this instance, he merely tweaked his putting method, not changing his equipment and barely changing his routine.

As much as some of the fellas belly-ached about the ban, I see many doing well on the greens in 2016. Another reminder that "these guys are good."

Monday, February 22

L.A. Story: Bubba, Jordan and Riviera Sparkle

Steve Timm had a special moment with Jordan Spieth at Riviera Country Club. (Courtesy of Steve Timm)

BUBBA WATSON WON THE NORTHERN TRUST OPEN for the second time in three years on a sun-splashed Sunday at Riviera Country Club. Bubba closed with a 68 to win by 1 stroke, collecting his ninth PGA Tour victory.

"L.A.'s fine, the sun shines most the time and the feeling is laid back," once sang Neil Diamond.

That's true and was certainly the case for Watson after he secured his second L.A. title. And he certainly had his share of adventures during a week in Hollywood that included passing a kidney stone and winning a golf tournament where legends are made.

"The highlight is definitely winning," Bubba said. "When you come to Hollywood, there's a lot of things you can do. It's fun. And winning is the cake."

I think the whole week was cake for Steve Timm, who worked and enjoyed the tournament from the 10th hole starter tent and elsewhere. Timm caught up with Jordan Spieth, who shot a 79 and departed on Friday but didn't disappoint his fans.

"So Jordan Spieth didn't make the cut today," said Steve on Facebook, "but he did sign my Masters flag in my starter tent on 10 tee this morning. Framing and hanging that in my office for sure."

Steve posted several other photos of his week at Riviera, including a picture with Hall of Famer Amy Alcott.

That's all, folks, for the West Coast Swing. On to Florida.

Friday, February 19

In 'EARNHARDT NATION' Jay Busbee Chronicles NASCAR'S First Family

(Another occasional off-golf-topic piece because, after thousands of golf stories, I want to share on other subjects, news and events. Thanks for reading.)

Yahoo sports writer Jay Busbee, who writes about golf among other things, is a friend of this blog and author. Today I want you to know about his new book and remind you (and me) that it's never just about the particular sport, but also about the flawed, driven, larger-than-life people who inhabit the sport, whether it's NASCAR, the PGA Tour, or the NFL.

Available at all the usual places.
From the back cover of EARNHARDT NATION:

A colorful, fearless portrait of the larger-than-life first family of NASCAR, the Earnhardts, and the rise of the world's fastest stock car racing organization.

More than sixty years ago, Ralph Earnhardt toiled in a cotton mill in his native North Carolina to support his growing family. Weekends he could be found going pedal to the metal at the dirt tracks, taking on the competition in the early days of box car racing and becoming one of the best short-track drivers in the state. His son, Dale Earnhardt Sr., would become one of the greatest drivers of all time, and his grandson Dale Jr, would become NASCAR's most popular driver of the 2000s. From a simple backyard garage, the Earnhardts reached the highest echelons of professional stock car racing and became the stuff of myth for fans.

Earnhardt Nation is the story of this car racing dynasty and the business that would make them rich and famous—and nearly tear them apart. Covering all the white-knuckle races, including the final lap at the Daytona 500 that claimed the life of the Intimidator, Earnhardt Nation goes deep into the fast-paced world of NASCAR, its royal family’s obsession with speed, and their struggle with celebrity.

Jay Busbee takes us deep inside the lives of these men and women who shaped NASCAR. He delves into their personal and professional lives, from failed marriages to rivalries large and small to complex and competitive father-son relationships that have reverberated through generations, and explores the legacy the Earnhardts struggle to uphold.

VIDEO: Mini Profile of 'Odd Bird' Andres Gonzales

WHILE WORLD NO. 3 RORY MCILROY pumps iron, Andres Gonzales pumps beers at Foley's on the Green in Tacoma, Washington.

A veteran of many pro tours, Gonzales also swats short irons off the wet turf in the drizzly, gray Pacific Northwest. It's 48 degrees, but it feels colder. Gonzales works on his game through the dreary Tacoma winter to keep up with his PGA Tour competition that toils in sunnier climes such as California, Arizona, Texas and Florida.

The life of a PGA Tour player is uncoventional, to say the least. Compared to his tour brethren, Gonzales is a free spirit, "not your typical" player and "a bit of an odd bird," wrote VICE SPORTS.

Enjoy the above mini profile of Gonzales, who playfully tweets at Tiger Woods and is, in his own words, "half man, half amazing."

Thursday, February 18

Golf on TV: Northern Trust Open, ISPS Handa Women's Australia Open, Maybank Championship Malaysia

ABOVE: Players hit vintage clubs at Northern Trust Open.

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


The PGA TOUR wraps up its “West Coast” swing with the Northern Trust Open, as World’s No. 1 and 3 – Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy – headline the field at Riviera Country Club. Next week, the TOUR will kick off the four-week stretch of “Florida Swing” events beginning with The Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens.

Northern Trust Open
Dates: Feb. 18-21
Venue: Riviera Country Club, Pacific Palisades, Calif.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         5-8 p.m. (Live) / 8:30-11:30 p.m. (Replay)
Friday              5-8 p.m. (Live) / 8:30-11:30 p.m. (Replay)
Saturday          1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 2-6 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday            1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 7:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)

Tournament Airtimes on CBS (Eastern):
Saturday 3-6 p.m.
Sunday 3-6:30 p.m.

Broadcast Notes

Hahn defends: James Hahn defeated Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey with a birdie on the third playoff hole for his first career PGA TOUR win.

Headlining the field: Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Ernie Els, Matt Kuchar and Jimmy Walker.

* * *


The LPGA Tour this week begins a three-week stretch of international events, as world No. 1 Lydia Ko will defend her 2015 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian title.

ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open
Dates: Feb. 18-21
Venue: The Grange Golf Club (West Course), Adelaide, South Australia

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Wednesday     11 p.m.-2 a.m. (Live) / 2 a.m.-5 a.m. (Replay)
Thursday         11:30 p.m.-2 a.m. (Live) / 2-4 p.m. (Friday replay)
Friday              11:30 p.m.-2 a.m. (Live) / 3-6 p.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday          9 p.m.-2 a.m. (Live) / 3-6:30 p.m. (Sunday replay)

Broadcast Notes

Ko defends: World No. 1 Lydia Ko finished two strokes clear of Amy Yang to earn her sixth career LPGA Tour victory.

Headlining the field: Lydia Ko, Brooke Henderson, Charley Hull, Minjee Lee, Karrie Webb, Ha Na Jang, Cheyenne Woods, Jiyai Shin, Laura Davies.

* * *


Maybank Championship Malaysia
Dates: Feb. 18-21
Venue: Royal Selangor Golf Club (East Course), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         5-10 a.m. (Tape delay)
Friday              5-10 a.m. (Tape delay)
Saturday          6-10 a.m. (Tape delay) / 10 p.m.-2 a.m. (Overnight streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Sunday            6-10 a.m. (Tape delay) / 9:30 p.m.-2 a.m. (Overnight streaming on Golf Live Extra)

Broadcast Notes

Inaugural event: This is the inaugural edition of the Maybank Championship Malaysia which replaces the Malaysian Open on the European Tour schedule, and it is co-sanctioned by both the European Tour and Asian Tour.

Headlining the field: Danny Willett, Martin Kaymer, Louis Oosthuizen, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Thorbjorn Olesen, Peter Uihlein, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley.

Wednesday, February 17

Johnny Farrell: Best Golfer the World Has Never Known

IN 1928 THE BEST PROFESSIONAL GOLFER wasn't Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, or Tommy Armour. It was a New York club professional who was the first golfer to receive an endorsement contract for his stylish attire.

Johnny Farrell
He sported fashionable plus-four trousers, long-sleeved shirts, ties and tie clasps, sweaters and two-tone leather golf shoes. Seventy-five years later he would be called the best golfer the world has never known.

His name was Johnny Farrell. Legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice tagged him "Handsome Johnny," and it stuck.

In 1927 Farrell won eight consecutive tournaments and was voted professional golfer of the year. It was a record that would stand for 17 years until a future Hall of Famer named Byron Nelson won an astonishing 11 straight on his way to an 18-win season. But, despite four top-seven finishes from 1923 to 1927, Farrell had yet to win the big one, the U.S. Open.

His chance would come against the world's greatest golfer during that golden age of sport: Bobby Jones, a lifelong amateur.

The holder of seven major golf titles at the time — two U.S. Opens, two British Opens and three U.S. Amateurs — Jones was the favorite every time he teed it up against amateurs or professionals. That was certainly the case at Olympia Fields near Chicago, site of the 1928 U.S. Open.

Paired with Jones for the first 36 holes, Farrell struggled to a 77 and 74 in front of large galleries to trail Jones's lead by seven shots at the championship's midway point. But Farrell rallied with a 71 in the third round, and his final round of 72 caught Jones, who carded a 77 on his last loop of Olympia Fields.

A Farrell-Jones showdown would not have occurred had an obscure North Carolina pro named Roland Hancock not come undone on his way to the trophy presentation. Needing only a bogey and a par on the last two holes to claim the title, Hancock stumbled to the clubhouse with a double bogey and a bogey, never to be heard from again.

Under threatening skies, Farrell and Jones met the next day in a marathon 36-hole playoff, expanded that year from the 18-hole format previously favored by the United States Golf Association.

Jones was the heavy favorite as 10,000 spectators lined the fairways. But it was Farrell who raced to the lead after the morning round, firing a 70, his best round of the championship. Jones posted a 73.

The great amateur rallied after the lunch break. Jones quickly caught and overtook Farrell in a match that had six lead changes and during which the two players combined for 16 birdies on the brutal layout.

But Farrell battled back. He held a one-stroke lead on the final tee after both men birdied the par-3 17th.

Jones went for the green in two on the 490-yard par-5 18th. Farrell laid up in the rough, then hit a wedge to within eight feet of the hole. From the edge of the green, Jones chipped to within 18 inches for a sure birdie and watched as Farrell stood over a birdie putt to win the championship.

With cameras clicking, he stepped away and calmly asked an official to silence the photographers. Then Farrell stepped back up to the putt and stroked it home as thunder clapped in the distance. The crowd roared. Gene Sarazen and four other players carried Farrell away on their shoulders.

"There never has been another golf competition," Grantland Rice reported, "where the drama held its place so long and the tide of battle swung back and forth with such startling rapidity. I have never seen two golfers so physically and mentally weary and worn down after the strain of the championship play such stout hearted golf against all the handicaps that golf brings."

* * *

Although he had runner-up finishes the following year at the British Open and the PGA Championship, Farrell never won another major. And Bobby Jones never again lost at the U.S. Open. His name was etched on the silver trophy in 1929 and 1930, the year Jones won the Grand Slam and retired from competitive golf at the age of 28. After marrying and accepting the head professional job at Baltusrol Golf Club in the early 1930s — a post he would hold for nearly 40 years — Handsome Johnny retired from the regular tournament circuit to start a family and become a golf teacher for the rich and famous.

He instructed four presidents — Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford — and had close friendships with celebrities such as Babe Ruth, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. None of it went to his head, according to his children. Johnny Farrell remained a humble man until his death in 1988 at the age of 87.

Not surprising, perhaps, since he came from humble origins. Farrell was the son of Irish immigrants who sailed for America after relatives frowned upon their marriage. His father died when Johnny was four. Determined to keep up appearances despite the family's poverty, Johnny's mother always dressed Johnny and his siblings in nice clothes.

Farrell was introduced to golf as a caddie in Westchester County, New York. His formal education was limited. Although he never earned a high-school diploma, his life turned out far better than he could have imagined.

Farrell finished his tournament career with 22 PGA Tour titles, although there were several more wins not recognized in the official record. He was inducted into the PGA Hall of Fame in 1953. Thirty years later he was among a group of Hall members not transferred when the financially challenged PGA Hall of Fame merged with the World Golf Hall of Fame.

The late Byron Nelson and others have said Farrell deserves to be in the Hall.

Tuesday, February 16

Ko Plans to Donate Winnings to New Zealand

LYDIA KO WON HER THIRD New Zealand Women's Open on Sunday in the aftermath of a 5.7 magnitude earthquake.

Lydia Ko
It was an emotional victory for the 18-year-old Ko, whose family moved from South Korea to New Zealand after Ko was born. Now she wants to help her homeland.

"I have discussed this with my family and my team and this is something that we all want to do," Ko said about donating her winner's check. "We will seriously think about the best way that we can use this money to help New Zealand."

The expected donation will amount to about $33,000.

The women's world No. 1 golfer, Ko already has 10 LPGA wins, including a major. The ISPS Handa New Zealand Women's Open is an event on the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour.

Monday, February 15

A Taylor Made Comeback


That would be Vaughn Taylor, a former PGA Tour winner and U.S. Ryder Cup team member whose struggling game in recent years has taken him to far flung destinations and dropped him to 447th in the Official World Golf Ranking.

The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am was Phil Mickelson's tournament. Phil hadn't won since the 2013 Open Championship and held the 54-hole lead at Pebble Beach, where he has racked up four victories. That five-foot birdie putt on the 18th green to force a playoff was money. Lefty hadn't missed one of those all week.

But it lipped out.

Wow. Phil hit a good putt. That's too bad. Then you read about Taylor's journey and it doesn't seem so bad.

Vaughn Taylor, 39, hasn't won on the PGA Tour in 11 years and wasn't expecting to win on Sunday. All he wanted was a chance to play after being hooked up to an IV in Bogota, Colombia (at a Tour event), due to a stomach virus. Taylor flew directly from Colombia to Pebble Beach because it was cheaper than stopping off at home. Without a PGA Tour card, Taylor hoped to get into the field as an alternate.

Thus began a sequence of events that led to a surprising miss by a Hall of Famer on the final green and an unlikely comeback victory by a soft spoken journeyman.

Taylor, who nearly lost his life in a boating accident in August 2014, made up six shots in the final round with a 65.

"It was magical out there," he said.

Now, for the first time since 2008, Taylor will return to his hometown of Augusta, Georgia, to play in the Masters. It's been a long road back, filled with a whole lot of hardship, but also with a little bit of magic beside the Pacific.

Friday, February 12

VIDEO: 'An American Golf Journey in Morocco'

GOLF MIGHT NOT COME TO MIND when you think of Morocco. But for 15 golf professionals (and their families), Morocco was an amazing adventure that exceeded their expectations in almost every way this past December.

The trip lasted seven days and included five golf courses, as well as sightseeing and other activities.

"The weather is just exceptional," said one pro. "It's beautiful to play golf in the wintertime and short sleeves. And enjoy all the great stuff."

"All the golf courses we've seen in Morocco have been outstanding," said another pro, who was especially impressed with the architecture.

"I've never been so welcomed to any place I've ever been to," said another participant, "and I've traveled extensively to play golf in different places. This has been the best so far."

Maybe I'll get to Morocco and see for myself. It might happen. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, February 11

Golf on TV: AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Chubb Classic, Tshwane Open

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


The PGA TOUR visits one of the most prominent golf venues in the world this week with the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The field – which is headlined by World No. 1 Jordan Spieth and No. 3 Jason Day – features 156 professionals and 156 amateurs competing across a three course rotation Thursday-Saturday, with the top-60 professionals (and ties) and top-25 pro-am teams advancing to Sunday’s final round. 

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
Dates: Feb. 11-14
Venues: Pebble Beach Golf Links; Spyglass Hill Golf Course; Monterey Peninsula Country Club (Short Course), Pebble Beach, Calif.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         3-6 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-9:30 p.m. ; 9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)
Friday              3-6 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-9:30 p.m. ; 9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday          1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-11 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday            1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 7:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)

Tournament Airtimes on CBS (Eastern):
Saturday 3-6 p.m.
Sunday 3-6:30 p.m.

Broadcast Notes

Snedeker defends: Brandt Snedeker won by three strokes over Nick Watney for his seventh career PGA TOUR victory.

Headlining the field: Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Justin Rose, Patrick Reed, Jimmy Walker, Shane Lowry, Brandt Snedeker, Steve Stricker and Bill Haas.

Celebrities in the field: Mark Wahlberg, Justin Timberlake, Wayne Gretzky, Bill Murray, Toby Keith, Aaron Rodgers, Huey Lewis, Steve Young, Jake Owen, Colt Ford and Carson Daly.

* * *


The Champions Tour is in Florida for the second consecutive week, with the Chubb Classic (formerly ACE Group) in Naples, as Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer headline the field.

Chubb Classic
Dates: Feb. 12-14
Venue: The TwinEagles Club (Talon Course), Naples, Fla.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday              Noon-2:30 p.m. (Live)
Saturday          3-5:30 p.m. (Live)
Sunday            3-5 p.m. (Live)  

Broadcast Notes

Janzen defends: Lee Janzen defeated Bart Bryant on the first playoff hole to earn his first PGA TOUR Champions win.

Headlining the field: Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Rocco Mediate, Jeff Maggert, Jay Haas, Tom Lehman, Kenny Perry, Duffy Waldorf, Corey Pavin and Lee Janzen.

* * *


The European Tour is in South Africa for the Tshwane Open, where major champion Charl Schwartzel headlines the field in his home country.

Tshwane Open
Dates: Feb. 11-14
Venue: Pretoria Country Club, Waterkloof, South Africa

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         3:30-5:30 a.m. / 7:30-10:30 a.m. (Live)
Friday              3:30-5:30 a.m. / 7:30-10:30 a.m. (Live)
Saturday          5:30-9:30 a.m. (Live) 
Sunday            5-9:30 a.m. (Live)

Broadcast Notes

Coetzee defends: George Coetzee finished one stroke ahead of Jacques Blaauw for his second career European Tour win.

Headlining the field: Charl Schwartzel, George Coetzee, Edoardo Molinari, David Horsey, Brett Rumford, Bobby Wyatt, Richard Sterne, Darren Fichardt and Oliver Fisher.

Wednesday, February 10

Called Shot: The Artful Golfer's Fourth Ace

I KNOW HIM AS THE ARTFUL GOLFER, who for many years documented his golf journey at a blog by the same name. And what a journey it has been. A disciple of Fred Shoemaker (Extraordinary Golf) and others, Richard experienced rapid improvement in this difficult game.

He shares some of his golf story below, including how he "called" his fourth ace on a California golf course in November 2013.

The Artful Golfer
Approaching the age of 50, I took up the game of golf. Improvement came quickly, first breaking 80, then breaking par one year after increasing my play to twice per week. I lowered my handicap to 8 in my first year, 4 in my second year, then 2 after two more years. I eventually reached a low index of 1.4 with a low round of 68.

I accomplished this without taking lessons or focusing on technology or technique. Instead, I approached the game creatively, learning to improve my inner game and discover my natural swing. I pursued the game of golf as art.

November 23, 2013.

Standing on the 176-yard par 3 13th tee at San Luis Rey Downs, I turned to my friend's 13-year-old son, Matthew, who was just tagging along with our foursome.

Without forethought, I asked Matthew, "Have you ever seen a hole-in-one?"

He answered no.

So, I replied, "Watch this."

I then teed up my Callaway, hit a solid 6-iron and watched it draw right towards the flag. I could tell it had landed close to the hole, but a front-side bunker hid the ball from sight. We figured I'd have an easy tap-in birdie, but I just I had this feeling!

As we approached the green, we didn't see my ball. Maybe it went over the back of the green?

With great anticipation, Matthew ran up and looked in the hole. I'll never forget the look on his face when he saw my ball sitting at the bottom!

Just like Babe [Ruth], I called it!

Tuesday, February 9

Bill Scheft Q&A: Treasured Memories of Uncle Herb (Herbert Warren Wind)

BILL SCHEFT WANTS TO TELL YOU about his uncle, who happens to be Herbert Warren Wind, widely considered to be the dean of American golf writers. It's a good time to revisit Wind, who died in 2005. Open Road Media has released seven of Wind's titles as ebooks.

Bill Scheft with Herbert Warren Wind
on Scheft's wedding day in 1990.
(Courtesy of Bill Scheft)
Wind, of course, was the legendary scribe who penned eloquent narratives for the New Yorker and Sports Illustrated, and who collaborated with golf legend Ben Hogan on Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf, the gold standard of golf instruction books. He was also the one who coined "Amen Corner," that crucial three-hole stretch on the back nine of Augusta National Golf Club. Fittingly, the annual USGA book award is named after Wind. And he is also a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.

A stand-up comic, comedy writer, sportswriter and novelist, Scheft could also tell you about himself. There's plenty to tell. He was a writer for David Letterman for 24 years until Lettterman retired. During that time Scheft was nominated for 15 Emmys. There's more.

But I've noticed that Scheft loves to share about his Uncle Herb. One could say Wind's legacy also lives on through his nephew. Read on to discover why.

Q: What made Herbert Warren Wind such a great writer, and a great golf writer, in particular?

BILL SCHEFT: I always found him incredibly generous with his knowledge. Not just golf, it was clear that he wanted you to be as much of an expert as he was. He never left anything in his pocket to pull out at a cocktail party or to impress another writer.

What made him such a great golf writer is how he, and usually this is a bad word, compartmentalized the game between the personal, the journalistic, the technical, the historical and the architectural/ecological. They would eventually intersect. Because he had the benefit of long lead time at the New Yorker, his obligation to the reader (and himself) was to make sure he covered all these areas and put a result everyone knew about in perspective.

Let's face it, golf is the only game where on a given day you or I could skull a chip in flush off the stick for a 2 on the same hole Jordan Spieth gets a 3. So, there must be perspective. And there cannot be perspective without context. That's why you would get 5000 words on Royal Wurlington before 3000 words on the Masters. 

Q: How did he influence you?

BILL SCHEFT: You mean other than the fact I know Royal Wurlington? He was, quite simply, the most influential man in my life. He is the reason I became a sportswriter and eventually an author. Especially after I moved to Manhattan in 1980 and spent a lot of time with him. He showed me the possibilities of living the writer's life in Manhattan. And the possibilities of living a life on your own terms.

Now, for 95 percent of that time, I made a living as a stand-up comic, but I longed to be a writer, just a writer. And he would always say to me, "What you're doing is right. But I hope some day you could get a job writing for a guy like Bob Hope."

And when I got the job with Dave Letterman in 1991, he said, "This is exactly what you need." I spent 24 years writing jokes for Dave, but I also found the time, and courage, to write five novels, and return to sportswriting with regular humor columns, first at ESPN Magazine and then Sports Illustrated. The last time I spoke with Herb, he was fully in the throes of dementia, but he came out the other side for a second to say to me, "I hope you realize all the good work you've done."

I like to think he was saying that to himself, because he never ever gave himself the credit for being such a singular practitioner of his craft. And with rare exception, never let anyone else give him credit.

Q: What is your golf background?

BILL SCHEFT: I grew up with two golf-loving parents. My father, Bill Sr., was a very solid player. At one point he got down to a 6. My mother Gitty, Herb's sister, was a exemplary player. She won club championships at four different clubs. At one point, she was an 8 and I don't think ever hit a drive longer than 180. But I caddied for her, and let me tell you, you never ever ever looked for her ball.

Q: Do you have a favorite Uncle Herb story or anecdote?

BILL SCHEFT: In 2000, when my mother was 77, she shot her age at Sterling Acres in Massachusetts. I called Herb, who had moved into Carlteton-Willard, a multi-level assisted living facility in Bedford. I said, "How about your sister Gitty shooting her age?" There was a long, long, long pause. And he said, "It's great to play alone, isn't it?" 

Q: That's funny. Anything else?

BILL SCHEFT: I've made my living in comedy, but there have been few people wittier than Herb Wind. When my wife and I got married, in June 1990, he came back to New York with my parents. We only had 13 people at our wedding. It was in the Slocum Room at the Harvard Club, which is exactly the kind of room you would imagine. Wood paneled, spare and relentless elite. There was a portrait in the middle of the room, and my father looks at the plate and says, "Hey Herbie, what does this mean? (Russell) Slocum '86?" Without missing a beat, Herb says, "It means he had a bad round."

And a P.S.

BILL SCHEFT: My first novel, THE RINGER (2002), was the story of a 35-year-old New Yorker who makes his living playing softball and how his life changes when he has to take care of his celebrated sportswriter uncle, who has fallen ill. The uncle, Morton Martin Spell, was based almost entirely on Herb, especially his delivery and wit. When the book came out, Dave Anderson left this message on my machine: "Hey College Boy (the lead character's name), I loved the book. And you did a rotten job disguising Herb, which I loved even more."

Bill Scheft's latest novel is SHRINK THYSELF.

Monday, February 8

A Brief History of the Crosby Clambake (Pebble Beach Pro-Am)

By I Love Carmel California

IN 1937 FAMOUS CROONER BING CROSBY decided to get some friends together for a fun golf event that would also raise money for charity. He held the first event with about 60 players at Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club in San Diego. Crosby donated $3,000 for the prize money. It was originally called the Bing Crosby Pro-Am, but many simply called it the Crosby Clambake. Sam Snead was the first winner.

Bing Crosby
(Image via
I Love Carmel California)
The tournament was suspended in 1942 because of World War II. It was revived in 1947 at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Crosby was named honorary police chief for that event. He played in eight of the events at Pebble Beach before dying in 1977 on a golf course in Spain. The event was first televised in 1958, making it one of the longest-running televised sports events.

[A complete guide to the 2016 Pebble Beach Pro-Am from I Love Carmel California]

Crosby's contribution to the popularity of golf is amazing. In the 1940s and 1950s he was often noted as the most admired man. In fact, in 1948 it was estimated that nearly half of radio time was devoted to his music. Crosby's star power was incredible.

Bing was also an avid golfer, with a 2 handicap, who played in both the British and U.S. Amateurs. By starting the Crosby Clambake, he brought a tremendous amount of recognition to the game of golf, as well as tourism to the Monterey Peninsula when the event moved to Pebble Beach Golf Links. Since 1937 the event has generated more than $120,000,000 for charities.

Since its inception, this PGA Tour event has had 5 name changes. It was originally called the Bing Crosby Pro-Am (1937-1952), then the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am Golf Championship (1953-1958), then the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am (1959 – 1985), then the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (1986-2015), and now the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am (2016). When AT&T became the title sponsor in 1986, Crosby's widow withdrew his name from the event.

With an event held in California, you would think the weather would be fantastic. However, this event has been known for inclement weather, including rain, fog and even snow in 1962. The Pebble Beach Pro-Am has been delayed, shortened and was even cancelled in 1996. And in 1998, the final round was held in August.

PGA Tour Highlights: Matsuyama 'Lucky to Come Out on Top'

JUST WHEN IT LOOKED AS IF RICKIE FOWLER was poised for another victory, he stumbled on the way to the trophy ceremony at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

A bold player and closer, Fowler coughed up a two-stroke lead on the last two holes of regulation and was edged by Hideki Matsuyama in a sudden-death playoff that went four holes. It was the second PGA Tour title for the 23-year-old Japanese player, who has the look of a rising star.

"Rickie opened the door for me," Matsuyama said, "and I was able to walk through it."

"The hard part is having all my friends and family and grandpa and my dad who haven't seen me win," an emotional Fowler told the media.

Matsuyama added: "Surprised and sad that Rickie finished that way, but all I can do is my best. I was lucky to come out on top."

Next up is the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Friday, February 5

Rick Bragg: How to Grovel

(This is the first of what may be an occasional off-golf-topic piece because I want to share my other nonfiction writing with more readers. Thanks as always for following this blog.)

Rick Bragg
One afternoon I saw my wife reading Southern Living.

"Hey, can I see that when you're done?" I asked.

Not because I wanted to read about porches and gardens, easy bedroom upgrades, or the South's hottest food towns. (Actually, I did take a peek at the food towns.) No, I wanted to read Rick Bragg's Southern Journal, on the last page.

I love Rick Bragg. The former New York Times reporter wrote a series of memoirs about his family and growing up poor in Alabama and Georgia. Bragg is a wonderful storyteller. Read his books, if you haven't already.

In his Southern Living essay, Bragg tackled groveling. He got help.

"A few months ago, I asked readers for advice on how to grovel," he began. "The alternative -- to do right in the first place -- I rejected from self-awareness."

Bragg shared some of the advice in the column. It was good. A woman named Susan told Bragg not to worry about groveling. As Bragg noted, Susan seemed to imply that he shouldn't expect too much of himself, "being a man."

There was plenty more, including a funny anecdote about Bragg's dog (Woody Bo) eating his favorite shirt. He spilled crab soup on the shirt during a trip to Louisiana and dropped it on the bedroom floor when he returned home.

I was impressed by the groveling advice offered by David of North Carolina. He gave Bragg a three-point plan:
1. Grovel often. It's expected. 2. Admit you're wrong. It's quicker. 3. Don't worry about being sincere. They know.
By the way, asking for reader input is a shrewd strategy for generating essays, columns and blogs. So, if you're a writer, be like Rick. And, if you're a man, grovel often and without shame.

Thursday, February 4

Golf on TV: Waste Management Phoenix Open, Coates Golf Championship, Omega Dubai Desert Classic, Allianz Championship

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


NBC Sports Group will feature more than 25 hours of live programming from TPC Scottsdale surrounding the Waste Management Phoenix Open, including tournament coverage on Golf Channel and NBC. David Feherty is set to make his NBC Sports Group live tournament debut as lead analyst during Thursday-Friday first and second round coverage on Golf Channel.

Waste Management Phoenix Open
Dates: Feb. 4-7
Venue: TPC Scottsdale (Stadium Course), Scottsdale, Ariz.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         3-7 p.m. (Live) / 8 p.m.-Midnight (Replay)
Friday              3-7 p.m. (Live) / 10 p.m.-2 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday          1-3 p.m. (Live) / 8 p.m.-1 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday            1-3 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-11:30 p.m. (Replay)    

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

Broadcast Notes

Largest crowds on PGA TOUR: The event attracts the largest galleries on the PGA TOUR, with a record 564,000 in attendance throughout the week in 2015, including nearly 160,000 during Saturday's third round alone.

Koepka defends: Brooks Koepka finished one shot ahead of Hideki Matsuyama, Ryan Palmer and Bubba Watson for his first career PGA TOUR win.

Headlining the field: Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Zach Johnson, Kevin Kisner, Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka.

* * *


World No. 1 Lydia Ko is set to make her first start of 2016 on the LGPA Tour at the Coates Golf Championship, airing on Golf Channel. Alison Lee and Suzann Pettersen are paired together for the first two rounds, which will be the first time the two will complete alongside one another since their controversial match at the 2015 Solheim Cup.

Coates Golf Championship
Dates: Feb. 3-6
Venue: Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club, Ocala, Fla.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Wednesday     2-5:30 p.m. (Live) / 6:30-10 p.m. (Replay)
Thursday         11 a.m.-2 p.m. (Live) 
Friday              8-10 p.m. (Tape delay) / 3-5 pm. (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Saturday          3-5 p.m. (Live)

Broadcast Notes

Choi defends: Na Yeon Choi defeated Lydia Ko, Ha Na Jang and Jessica Korda by one stroke for her eighth LPGA Tour win.

Headlining the field: Lydia Ko, Stacy Lewis, Lexi Thompson, So Yeon Ryu, Sei Young Kim, Cristie Kerr, Suzann Pettersen, Anna Nordqvist, Brooke Henderson, Charley Hull and Alison Lee.

* * *


World No. 3 Rory McIlroy will look to defend his title at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, an event he has won twice in his career.

Omega Dubai Desert Classic
Dates: Feb. 4-7
Venue: Emirates Golf Club (Majlis Course), Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         11 p.m.-4 a.m. (Live, Wednesday Overnight) / 6:30-8:30 a.m. (Live)
Friday              2:30-8:30 a.m. (Live)
Saturday          4-8 a.m. (Live) / 10 a.m.-Noon (Replay)        
Sunday            3:30-8 a.m. (Live) / 10 a.m.-Noon (Replay)

Broadcast Notes

McIlroy defends: Rory McIlroy won by three shots over Alex Noren to earn his 10th career European Tour victory, and his second time winning the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

Headlining the field: Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Ernie Els, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Martin Kaymer, Bryson DeChambeau (a), Danny Willett and Lee Westwood.

* * *


Allianz Championship
Dates: Feb. 5-7
Venue: Broken Sound Club (Old Course), Boca Raton, Fla.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday              11 a.m.-2 p.m. (Live)
Saturday          5-7 p.m. (Tape delay) / 3-5 p.m. (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Sunday            3-5 p.m. (Tape delay) / 2-4 p.m. (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)

Broadcast Notes

Goydos defends: Paul Goydos finished one stroke ahead of Gene Sauers for his second career PGA TOUR Champions win.

Headlining the field: Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Jeff Maggert, Jay Haas, Kenny Perry, Tom Lehman, Duffy Waldorf, Mark O’Meara, Jesper Parnevik and Nick Price.

Wednesday, February 3

Portugal, an Idyllic Golf Destination and Lifestyle

IN THE SOUTH OF THE SMALL COUNTRY of Portugal, situated in a corner of Europe, is the region of Algarve.

Image courtesy of 360 Golf Holidays.
This paradise is considered to be among the best golf destinations in the world, according to various magazines and international associations. It has marvelous golf courses with breathtaking sceneries and pleasant architecture, both near the sea and the mountains. It is also possible to play golf under sunny skies for nearly the entire year.

Nowadays, Algarve is visited by golf lovers from around the world, including some who come every year. Those who share this passion might want to consider making Portugal their residence and enjoy the great benefits the Portuguese tax system has recently created. 

A Tax Friendly Lifestyle

This tax sets out a new income tax regime for non-usual residents within the scope of personal income tax (IRS). This regime offers a number of benefits and extremely favorable conditions to anyone wishing to settle in Portugal, and is also appropriate for emigrants wishing to return to Portugal. The measure is principally aimed at attracting foreign investments and investors. 

The new arrangement also makes Portugal a tax-free jurisdiction for individuals with pensions. And individuals can also benefit from income obtained through business, professional activity, interest and dividends.

These benefits cover high value-added activities, which can receive a special rate of 20%. The only requirement is to become a Portuguese tax resident.

Investors and retired people from around the world have, in Portugal, the opportunity to create a quality lifestyle for the whole family and also benefit from this new measure, which could allow them to live almost without paying taxes.

To learn more, visit the website of Sandra Gomes Pinto, an attorney with 20 years of national and international experience helping a wide range of clients.

This is a sponsored post for informational purposes and should not be construed as legal, tax, or financial counsel.