Tuesday, May 31

Profile of Tommy Armour, The Silver Scot (Conclusion)

Part two of two on golf legend Tommy Armour (1896-1968). Read Part 1.

By John Coyne

Copyright © John Coyne. Used with permission.

The Silver Scot
TOMMY ARMOUR, NICKNAMED THE SILVER SCOT, was one of the best known golfers of his day.

Al Barkow in Golf's Golden Grind: The History of the Tour writes about how when Armour "the dour, hard-drinking Silver Scot of American golf, entered '21,' New York City's high-society watering hole, captains of commerce and gurus of government rose at their tables in honor of the man who could hit a five iron with the crispness and surety of an executive dismissal or a bomber strike."

Most of the golf pros attributed Armour's success to his large hands. They were called "carrot size" and as large as "two stalks of bananas."

Author Ross Goodner said of Tommy Armour: "At one time or another, he was known as the greatest iron player, the greatest raconteur, the greatest drinker and the greatest and most expensive teacher in golf."

But back to my favorite instructional book, A Round of Golf with Tommy Armour. This was his second, written in 1959, and published by Simon & Schuster. Written almost like a novel (or a long short story) as it is just 143 pages with illustrations, the short chapters have golf advice and technique interspersed in a semi-fictional nine holes played with a semi-fictional average golfer named "Bill." Armour's advice on strategy, course management and how to play a particular shot, is passed along mostly as dialogue as they play on the thinly-veiled version of the front nine of the West course at Winged Foot.

The playing lesson is told from the point-of-view of Armour himself.

It opens with:

This is a true story. Or so nearly true that you won’t know the difference. So much of the story has happened to you that you may think you are one of the golfers I’m telling about. You may be.

Armour meets up with Bill in the locker room. Bill is disgusted with his game and is about to give up and Armour talks him into playing a quick nine. In those few holes, Armour talks about the course and Bill's swing, and he dispenses words of golf wisdom in casual comments, much as any two players might, walking down a fairway.

The titles of short chapters indicated the problem to be solved on a particular hole: Playing Short and Playing Smart; The Stance Makes the Game Stand Up; A Swing That Can Be Trusted; and finally, back at the 19th Hole, Armour finishes up his round of instruction with Bill in a chapter entitled "Meditations of a Golfer Who Is About to Have a Drink." Here he sums up the four fundamentals of "good golf."

They are:
1) a good grip of the club
2) a proper stance
3) good footwork
4) control and application of power

That, and much more is said in the clubhouse bar, and among Armour's many meditations is one paragraph that, I think, rings true for all players:

The score is important, of course. And the discovery that you are superior to another golfer is satisfying. But when your score is bad and the other fellow beats you, golf still has been a blessing to you. The score isn't the "be all and end all." You play the game by the rules and that in itself is an infallible mark of a gentleman of quality. Nobody ever cheats anybody else at golf. The one who is cheated is the one who cheats.

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

Also by John Coyne:
A six-part series on Bobby Locke
A two-part profile on Harry Vardon

Friday, May 27

My Tribute to Life in the Blue Ridge

After thousands of golf stories, I want to share on other topics. This commentary is autobiographical and appeared in the Sunday Roanoke Times a few weeks ago. Thanks for reading.

THE BLUE RIDGE BECKONS IN A THOUSAND WAYS, many of which are hard to explain in casual conversation with strangers. This ancient region casts a spell on wanderers. People think they're just passing through, but they'll probably be back. Some of them will stay forever.

I know this like I know my own name because it happened to me, and then, years later, it happened to my closest family members. I didn’t see any of it coming, even though now it’s as clear as a mountain creek.

Looking toward the Shenandoah Valley
from the crest of the Blue Ridge.
For a dozen years, I've been having this odd and slightly awkward conversation with new acquaintances. Their eyebrows may rise and they might lean a little closer when they hear me say "Seattle." "Did you say Seattle?" they ask. "How did you get here from Seattle?"

Even after 12 years in Floyd, near the crest of the Blue Ridge, my wife and I marvel about this very same thing. How did this happen?

I still stumble through an explanation when meeting new people. Do I give the short version or the longer story about our move from the "Emerald City" to a one-stoplight town in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains? I never seem to know what to say, so I mumble things such as lifestyle, raising our daughters, friends, slowing things down, adventure and cost of living. Often I'm unsatisfied with my explanation. In those brief encounters, words fail to convey the essence of our family's move from the urban Pacific Northwest to rural life in the Blue Ridge.

And yet this Blue Ridge life constantly explains itself in a thousand wordless ways. Like the misty view of Buffalo Mountain I see when I'm walking along Storker's Knob a mile from my brick house on the edge of Floyd. Or watching a high-school football game on a clear autumn night with seemingly the entire town filling the aluminum bleachers. Or driving along any road in any season, drinking in nature and spotting creatures in every direction—wild turkeys, buzzards and hawks; groundhogs and foxes; deer, always deer; and even the occasional black bear and her cubs.

In 2002 the Blue Ridge enchanted us like it has so many others. It took us a year to plan and make the cross-country move from a city and region we still love to the town and mountains that now feel as comfortable as a handmade quilt. Our daughters have grown up here. Our neighbors and community have accepted us, even though we’ll never be from here and will always be come-latelys.

I've come to realize that life in the Blue Ridge is a feeling, and a sense of place and being, that makes explanations elusive.

Now it has also attracted my brother, who is my only sibling, and his wife. They visited us on a few occasions in recent years. They traveled the Appalachian chain, from Charlottesville, Virginia, to Boone, North Carolina. These mountains still called to them long after they had flown back to the West Coast.

My brother and I are only two years apart in age, but we have been separated in distance by a thousand and more miles for the last three decades — until February 2015. That’s when he, my sister-in-law and our 80-something-year-old parents moved to Waynesboro, Virginia — from L.A! Now, I expect, my brother has to answer that same funny question: "How did you get here from there?"

Whatever his answer, here we are, two brothers and other family members reunited in the lush mountains and valleys of Virginia. What a strange coincidence that both my brother and I now live within a 10-minute drive of the Blue Ridge Parkway, his nearest entry point at Milepost 0 on Afton Mountain and mine at Milepost 165 in Tuggles Gap.

On the other hand, it's not strange at all. The Blue Ridge Mountains, Blue Ridge Parkway and surrounding locales are a magnetic force of nature. They pulled us close — not only to them, but to each other.

This unique place of family re-connection defies a simple explanation, whether to strangers or even to myself. And so, much like looking at Buffalo Mountain in the distance, I just shake my head in silent wonder and gratitude.

Thursday, May 26

Golf on TV: Dean & DeLuca Invitational, Senior PGA Championship, BMW PGA Championship, LPGA Volvik Championship

By Golf Channel Communications


Dean & DeLuca Invitational
Dates: May 26-29
Venue: Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth, Texas

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         4-7 p.m. (Live) / 9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)
Friday              4-7 p.m. (Live) / 9:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday          1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 7-11:30 p.m. (Replay)
Sunday            1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 7-11:30 p.m. (Replay)
Kirk defends: Chris Kirk won by one shot over Jason Bohn, Brandt Snedeker and Jordan Spieth for his fourth PGA TOUR victory.

Headlining the field: Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott, Zach Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen, Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Charl Schwartzel, Steve Stricker and Chris Kirk.

* * *


The PGA TOUR Champions will stage its second major in as many weeks at the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid at Harbor Shores in Michigan. Colin Montgomerie will be looking to win the event for the third consecutive year, while Bernhard Langer will attempt to become the first player ever to win five different senior majors championships. 

Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid
Dates: May 26-29
Venue: Harbor Shores, Benton Harbor, Mich.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         1-4 p.m. (Live) / 12:30-3:30 a.m. (Friday replay)
Friday              1-4 p.m. (Live) / 12:30-3:30 a.m. (Saturday replay)

Tournament Airtimes on NBC (Eastern):
Saturday          2:30-5 p.m. (Live)
Sunday            3-6 p.m. (Live)

Montgomerie defends: Colin Montgomerie defeated Esteban Toledo by four shots at French Lick Resort last year to successfully defend his 2014 title and earn his third-career PGA TOUR Champions major title.

Headlining the field: Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, John Daly, Kenny Perry, Jesper Parnevik, Mark O’Meara, Tom Lehman, Jeff Maggert, Duffy Waldorf and Kirk Triplett.

* * *


BMW PGA Championship
Dates: May 26-29                                                                       
Venue: Wentworth Club (West Course), Surrey, England    

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         5 a.m.-1 p.m. (Live)
Friday              5 a.m.-1 p.m. (Live)
Saturday          7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Live)
Sunday            7:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Live)

An defends: Ben An finished six strokes ahead of the field to earn his first European Tour win.

Headlining the field: Danny Willett, Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Russell Knox, David Lingmerth, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell.

* * *


LPGA Volvik Championship
Dates: May 26-29                                                                       
Venue: Travis Pointe Country Club, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         7-9 p.m. (Tape delay) / 4:30-6:30 p.m. (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Friday              7-9 p.m. (Tape delay) / 4:30-6:30 p.m. (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Saturday          3-6 p.m. (Live) / 3:30-6 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday            3-6 p.m. (Live) / 3:30-6 a.m. (Monday replay)

Inaugural event: This is the inaugural edition of the LPGA Volvik Championship and is the first of two LPGA events held in the state of Michigan in 2016, with the Meijer LPGA Classic in Grand Rapids next month.

Headlining the field: Lydia Ko, Lexi Thompson, Inbee Park, Ariya Jutanugarn, Brooke Henderson, Sei Young Kim, So Yeon Ryu, Suzann Pettersen and Brittany Lincicome.

Wednesday, May 25

VIDEO: Jack Nicklaus on CBS Sunday Morning

THIS IS A GOOD SEGMENT on the Golden Bear, including why he continues to work so hard and fly around the globe at the age of 76.

Profile of Tommy Armour, The Silver Scot

Part one of two on golf legend Tommy Armour (1896-1968).

By John Coyne

Copyright © John Coyne. Used with permission.

TOMMY ARMOUR, NICKNAMED THE SILVER SCOT, is today perhaps best known, if he is remembered at all, as a teaching pro, having written, with Herb Graffis, one of the great instruction books on the game, How to Play Your Best Golf All the Time (1953).

Armour offered little theory that was new or different for golfers, but for one piece of advice. He was among the first pros to advocate aggressive, all-out use of the right hand in generating power. This book when it was first published in '53 sold 400,000 copies in its first year, an impressive number of sales.

He wrote (or co-authored) several others books. One, A Round of Golf with Tommy Armour, is my favorite.

Born in Edinburgh, and educated at the university there, Armour left school to fight in World War I. A machine gunner, he transferred to the new Royal Scots Tank Corp and was caught in a mustard gas attack and lost his eyesight. Surgeons had to add metal plates to his head and left arm. During his convalescence, he regained the sight of his right eye, and also began playing golf again. Like U.S. Open winner Ed Furgol, Armour overcame a serious physical handicap to become a tour winner.

Coming to the United States, Armour turned professional in 1924. He would then go onto win three Canadian Opens as well as the U.S. Open (1927), PGA (1930) and the British Open in 1931.

His steady income, however, came from being a home pro. In 1929 he took over as the golf professional at the Boca Raton Club, in Florida, a job he held for more than 25 years building up the reputation as the best teaching pro in the United States. He also was pro at Medinah Country Club outside of Chicago, and a member of Winged Foot in Westchester where he would spend his summers.

Armour said he would rather teach than play, and his approach, at times, was different from your usual home pro. They tell the story of when he was at Medinah he was famous for firing at chipmunks on the practice range with a .22 rifle while giving lessons.

One day a member grew impatient with him and demanded, "When are you going to quit that and take care of me?" Armour swung the rifle around toward the member and commented, "Don’t tempt me."

More typically, he gave his lessons (for as much as $100) sitting in a lawn chair nursing a drink, saying very little while he watched the students hit away. Then he would declare something like, "Hit the hell out of it with your right hand."

That said, Armour is known to have helped pros like Julius Boros, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Patty Berg, Lawson Little, and others.


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

Also by John Coyne:
A six-part series on Bobby Locke
A two-part profile on Harry Vardon

Monday, May 23

Rory Snatches Irish Open With Two Flashes of Genius

By Brian Keogh

Brian Keogh is a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a contributor to The Irish Times, Golf Digest Ireland and other golf publications. The following excerpt from Brian’s Irish Golf Desk is used with permission.

FAIRWAY TO HEAVEN. RORY MCILROY choked back tears of joy as he produced not one but TWO perfect shots to seal a Dublin Duty Free Irish Open victory for the ages and ONE MILLION EURO for charity.

One behind Scottish warrior Russell Knox with just three holes to go, it looked like a soggy event would end up as a damp squib in front of 25,270 fans at The K Club. Instead, McIlroy hit a heart-stopping, career three wood into the heart of the 16th that set up a birdie that changed the destiny of the title and raised a roar that could be heard from The K Club to Cahirciveen.

As Knox three putted under pressure to go from one ahead to one behind, McIlroy then hit a Roy of the Rovers style five wood to 30 inches at the 18th to set up a tap in eagle three.

In the space of half an hour he went from zero to hero, carding a three under par 69 to win his first Irish Open by three shots from Knox and Welshman Bradley Dredge on nine under par. If Carlsberg are doing any ads about Irish Open climaxes, this one is the template.

Rating the win as high as a World Golf Championship, an emotional McIlroy said: "I don't normally cry over victories but I was trying to hold back the tears on the 18th green, just looking up and seeing all my friends and family and the support I have had this week.

"To win in front of them -- I don’t get a chance to play in front of my him fans that often -- to play like that and finish like that today, I will never forget it."

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

Saturday, May 21

SEC Chart: Phil Mickelson and Alleged Insider Trading

PHIL MICKELSON WASN'T CRIMINALLY CHARGED in an insider trading case that lasted five years. But he doesn't fare as well in the court of public opinion.

From ESPN:
The Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday alleged that golfer Phil Mickelson made $931,000 after purchasing stock on an insider trading tip from sports gambler Billy Walters and then used some of the money to pay back Walters, to whom he allegedly owed money. 
The SEC on Thursday said Mickelson, who was not criminally charged, has agreed to pay back "all ill-gotten gains," which, including interest, totals $1.03 million.... 
"Simply put, the money Mr. Mickelson made was not his to make," said Andrew Ceresney, director of the SEC's enforcement division.

Thursday, May 19

Bothered Spieth Leads Jason Day Chase Pack

ONE OF THE THINGS I LIKE about Jordan Spieth is that he's pretty darn transparent. Ask him a question and he answers it, for the most part. He lets you know what he thinks.

Like everyone else, Spieth has been watching and admiring Jason Day on his run of seven victories in his last 17 tournaments. Day now has a firm hold on the World No. 1 ranking. Spieth is No. 2.

Spieth spoke about Day at the AT&T Byron Nelson on Tuesday.

"There's some motivation there," Spieth said. "He's playing his game. He believes his game is better than anybody else's, and he's on his game and so it is better than everybody else's. What he's doing right now, I think I can win the next two events and I'm still not going to surpass him in the world rankings. He's separated himself, and that bothers me and it motivates me."

Spieth missed the cut last week at The Players Championship while Day picked up another big win. The 22-year-old Texan has been struggling after a huge 2015 season during which he won the Masters and U.S. Open and contended in the Open Championship and PGA Championship. Spieth has determined he needs to lighten up a bit, to have more fun on the golf course.

"When I say get back to having fun, I mean it's not like I'm still not going to get frustrated with myself because that's healthy, you should," he said. "If you don't execute a shot that you feel that wasn't that hard to execute, there should be some frustration, but no lingering or negative talk is really what I'm talking about. Just eliminating that."

Hopefully, for Spieth, the home crowd in the Dallas area will spur him on as he tries to regain his form and catch the world's hottest player.

Wednesday, May 18

Golf on TV: Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, AT&T Byron Nelson, Regions Tradition, Kingsmill Championship

By Golf Channel Communications


The famed K Club (2006 Ryder Cup) will serve as the venue for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation this week, with World No. 3 Rory McIlroy and reigning Masters champion Danny Willett headlining more than 20 hours of live tournament coverage on Golf Channel. 

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation
Dates: May 19-22                                                                       
Venue: The K Club (Palmer Ryder Cup Course), Straffan, County Kildare, Ireland           

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         7:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (Live)
Friday              4:30-8:30 a.m. / 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (Live)
Saturday          8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Live)
Sunday            8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (Live)

Kjeldsen defends: Soren Kjeldsen defeated Eddie Pepperell and Bernd Wiesberger with a birdie on the first playoff hole for his fourth career European Tour win.

Headlining the field: Rory McIlroy, Danny Willett, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Padraig Harrington, Russell Knox, Martin Kaymer, Shane Lowry, Lee Westwood and David Lingmerth.

* * *


The PGA TOUR shifts to Texas for the AT&T Byron Nelson, with World No. 2 and Texas native Jordan Spieth in the field along with Dustin Johnson. 

AT&T Byron Nelson
Dates: May 19-22
Venue: TPC Four Seasons Resort & Club Las Colinas, Irving, Texas

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         4-7 p.m. (Live) / 11:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m. (Replay)
Friday              4-7 p.m. (Live) / 11:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday          1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 10 p.m.-2:30 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday            1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 10 p.m.-2:30 a.m. (Replay)

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

Bowditch defends: Steven Bowditch finished four shots ahead of Charley Hoffman, Scott Pinckney and Jimmy Walker for his second career PGA TOUR victory.

Headlining the field: Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Zach Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen, Bryson DeChambeau, Ernie Els, Matt Kuchar and Charl Schwartzel.

* * *


The PGA TOUR Champions stages the first of five majors in 2016 this week with the Regions Tradition in Alabama, the first of three majors over the next four weeks.

Regions Tradition
Dates: May 19-22
Venue: Greystone Golf & Country Club (Founders Course), Birmingham, Ala.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         1-3:30 p.m. (Live) / 2:30-4:30 a.m. (Friday replay)
Friday              1-3:30 p.m. (Live) / 2:30-5 a.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday          5-7 p.m. (Live) / 2:30-4:30 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday            5-7 p.m. (Live) / 2:30-4:30 a.m. (Monday replay)

Maggert defends: Jeff Maggert outlasted Kevin Sutherland with a par on the first playoff hole for his second career PGA TOUR Champions win, and first major.

Headlining the field: Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, John Daly, Kenny Perry, Jesper Parnevik, Mark O’Meara, Jay Haas, Tom Lehman, Jeff Maggert and Lee Janzen.

* * *


The LPGA Tour is in Virginia for the Kingsmill Championship, featuring the return of the top-3 players in the world  -- Lydia Ko (1), Inbee Park (2) and Lexi Thompson (3) -- after extended breaks and will be grouped together for the first two rounds. 

Kingsmill Championship
Dates: May 19-22                                                                       
Venue: Kingsmill Resort (River Course), Williamsburg, Va.

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

Lee defends: Minjee Lee finished two shots ahead of So Yeon Ryu for her first LPGA Tour win.

Headlining the field: Lydia Ko, Lexi Thompson, Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis, Gerina Piller, Brooke Henderson, Sei Young Kim, So Yeon Ryu, Suzann Pettersen, Anna Nordqvist and Brittany Lincicome.

Tuesday, May 17

RIP Irish Golf Legend Christy O'Connor Sr.

HALL OF FAMER AND IRISHMAN Christy O'Connor Sr. died over the weekend at the age of 91. O'Connor played on 10 Ryder Cup teams and "won more than 20 important British and Irish tournaments," said the Irish Independent.

Billy Casper lavished praise on O'Connor when I interviewed him for my book about the 1969 Ryder Cup.

"Christy could do more with a 4-wood out of the rough than any man I've ever seen," Casper said.

Irish golf writer Brian Keogh wrote this about O'Connor:
The death at 91 of Christy O'Connor Snr in the small hours of Saturday morning marks the end of an era in world golf and the loss to Ireland of one of its greatest ever sportsmen. 
While he never attained the major championship glory that has come to so many of the modern Irish players from Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke to Graeme McDowell, his achievements were ever bit as great and he leaves a huge mark on the history of the Irish and the world game. 
He was also a modest man. 
"I still can't believe it, and I really in my heart, I am a gentleman and I am absolutely stumped for words," he said at Baltray in 2009 when he gave a press conference to mark the news that he had been voted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Read Keogh's complete remembrance of O'Connor.

And from my book, a snapshot of O'Connor in the fall of '69:
O'Connor, 44, the oldest player on either [Ryder Cup] team and the lone Irishman, was continuing a Ryder Cup run that began in 1955 at Thunderbird Ranch & Country Club in Palm Springs. He and Peter Alliss were the most seasoned Ryder Cup Players on the British side....O'Connor was regarded as one of the game's best bad-weather players; despite his advanced age, he was still a force in 1969. Although winless [that season], the Irishman was a serious contender at the British Open after a record-breaking 65 in the second round. He finished fifth. Royal Birkdale would be welcome ground for O'Connor, where in 1968 he won the Alcan International.

Monday, May 16

Separation at the Top: Jason Day Adds Players to Win List

WITH HIS WIRE-TO-WIRE VICTORY at The Players Championship, Jason Day has won seven of his last 17 starts and solidified his position as the top-ranked golfer in the world. But, if you listen to the 28-year-old Aussie, you realize he's not entirely satisfied and that he won't rest on his laurels.

"I just wanted to win this so bad," Day told Golf Channel's Steve Sands. "I'm very motivated to stay at No. 1. This definitely gives me that extension on the gap between 1 and 2 and I'm very pleased with how everything has been progressing this year. But the year's not over, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the year."

Day opened with a record-tying 63 and closed with a 1-under 71 to finish at 15-under par, winning his 10th PGA Tour title by 4 shots. He didn't always have his best stuff, but he did have plenty of grit and determination, which he needed on Sunday.

"I was really nervous on the front side and it showed," he said. "And then coming and playing the way I did on the back side, just really bearing down and knuckling down… I’m going to hold this memory for a long time."

Fifth major or not (and I say not), The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass is a tough week with a great field. Day and others like Rickie Fowler add an important accomplishment to their golf resume when they emerge victorious at Ponte Vedra Beach.

"This championship is a bit of a gauntlet for everybody," said NBC golf analyst Johnny Miller. "It really is the ultimate pressure test."

Day has now passed that test on the Pete Dye horror chamber that some have said is not particularly well suited for his power game. With his putting sharp and confidence as high as his world ranking, Day looks ready for punishing Oakmont. The U.S. Open is just a month away.

Friday, May 13

A Mother's Love and Jason Day

WITH JASON DAY CONTENDING AT the Players Championship, I'm pointing you to a Karen Crouse feature story on Day that published ahead of the Masters in the New York Times. Consider it a belated Mother's Day tale. (No pun intended.)

Jason Day is leading the Players Championship.
(Keith Allison)
Day's background and journey to world No. 1 in golf are astonishing, no matter how many times I read about it. And Crouse is a wonderful sportswriter.

Here's the opening of "Jason Day's Long Rise to No. 1 Began With a Mother's Save":
BRISBANE, Australia — Jason Day’s rise to No. 1 in the world began with a rusted golf club retrieved from a Queensland junkyard. 
His mother worried that if not for golf, Day would end up like his father, Alvyn, whose potential was corroded by alcohol. Alvyn Day’s drinking left a scrap heap for Day, his mother and his sisters to sift through. It would take them years to see the beauty that can sprout from the rubble like a red poppy pointing toward the sun.... 
"With everything that went on, for me and my sisters to come out pretty normal on the other side, I think a lot of that has to do with our mom," Day said. 
From his father, Day, 28, learned to play golf and fear failure. From his mother, he learned how to work as if failure were not an option.

Thursday, May 12

Jason Day Leads Players After Record-Tying 63

ABOVE: John Swantek and Kelly Hawkins take an in-depth look at the field teeing it up at the 2016 PLAYERS Championship.

THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP IS UNDER WAY at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Thus far, the scoring is low, low, low. 

Jason Day fired a record-tying 63 in his opening round to take the early lead. Justin Rose and Bill Haas are part of a group that shot 65. Ernie Els is one of several players with a 6-under 66. Phil Mickelson had 70. Jordan Spieth carded an even-par 72, which included a double bogey 7 on his last hole. The first round is still in progress.

Of course, scoring conditions will toughen. There's a long way to go.

Wednesday, May 11

VIDEO: David Feherty Takes Aim at 17th Island Green

Golf's court jester hits a tee shot at the famous par-3 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass. Will it stay dry?

Former PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman demonstrates a special historical moment at the Players Championship.

Tuesday, May 10

Gene Sarazen: Making a Name (and a Club) for Himself

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

By John Coyne

Copyright © John Coyne. Used with permission.

GENE SARAZEN CREATED WHAT HE NEEDED to get the job done. He began with his name. Given the name Eugene Saraceni and thinking "Saraceni" sounded too much like a violin player, not a golfer, he took the pseudonym Sarazen. And, in doing so, he made Gene Sarazen one of the great names in golf history.

His next challenge was his bunker play. Early in his career he had to fix his disastrous bunker play. Tournament after tournament was being lost because of his inability to get out of the sand.

Then in the winter of '31, taking flying lessons in Florida, he noticed how the tail fins made a plane go up and down. Charles Price in his book The World Of Golf: A Panorama of Six Centuries of the Game's History writes, "When a pilot wants to take off, Sarazen reasoned, he doesn't raise the tail of the plane, he lowers it. So Sarazen wanted to lower the 'tail,' or sole of his niblick to produce a club whose face would come up from the sand as the sole made contact."

In a machine shop in New Port Rickey, Florida, Sarazen added solder to his 9-iron and began to experiment. He practiced endlessly from the sand only pausing to readjust and reset the solder on his iron.

Charles Price in his history points out that other players were searching for clubs to use in bunkers. Bobby Jones, for example, used a sand iron during the British Open in 1930, a club he got from Horton Smith, who in turn, Price writes, "had received it, and a copy of it, from a Texas amateur named McLain. The club had a rounded sole and a concave face." But by 1932, the USGA declared that club illegal.

Price also points out that a sand iron went back to the early days of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, but Sarazen wanted something better. Perhaps it was because he was the son of a workingman. Gene, in his teenage years, had apprenticed to his father as a carpenter but contracted an almost fatal case of pleurisy and doctors ordered him to seek less strenuous work, so he started to caddie and play golf and brought to the game his workman skills.

Sarazen created an inclined flange on a flat face, so the front edge of the clubhead sat a fraction of an inch off the ground and permitted the clubhead to slide through the sand rather than dig into it, as he was experiencing with the niblick.

Price also writes that Sarazen "best displayed the technique of the shot that went hand-in-glove with the club, one utterly different from the technique of other irons. Sarazen discovered that he shouldn’t swing the clubhead away from the ball. Rather, it should be raised abruptly and then dropped behind the ball." Sarazen also took the club outside the line and then flicked it down, the way he might swing an ax when chopping wood, never breaking his wrists with the wedge.

The next year he would take his new sand club to England and win the British Open.

Then, as many know, at the '34 Masters he would implant the name "Sarazen" forever in the history of the game, not with a wedge, but a 4 wood that is often called the most dramatic single shot ever struck in a major tournament. Sarazen not only gave us the modern sand wedge, but also, with his double-eagle, "the shot heard around the world."

Not bad for an apprentice carpenter.

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

Also by John Coyne:
A six-part series on Bobby Locke
A two-part profile on Harry Vardon

Monday, May 9

James Hahn: 'I Am Good Enough and Belong Out There'


That, friends, is James Hahn's last nine starts on the PGA Tour. Yes, eight straight missed cuts, and then victory, in a sudden-death playoff. It happened yesterday at Quail Hollow Club in the Wells Fargo Championship. Hahn finished 9 under along with Robert Castro, and then edged Castro with a par on the first hole of the playoff.

It was Hahn's second PGA Tour title, his first coming at the 2015 Northern Trust Open at Riviera.

''You have to keep believing in yourself and keep grinding," Hahn said. "I constantly remind myself that I am good enough and belong out there."

A former shoe salesman, Hahn didn't want to go back to the Web.com Tour. He won't have to. The victory was good for $1.3 million and two more years on the PGA Tour.

Castro was philosophical about his near win.

''Sure it hurts to let this tournament specifically slip away," he said, "but there are 154 guys that didn't have a chance in that playoff and I feel grateful to have had a chance.''

Next up is the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

Friday, May 6

Oakmont, the Poster, Not Quite as Scary

By golf artist Lee Wybranski.
AT RIGHT IS THE OFFICIAL POSTER for the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club. It's the ninth consecutive U.S. Open poster painted by golf artist Lee Wybranski.

More information from the news release:

For Oakmont Country Club in western Pennsylvania, the 116th U.S. Open—to be held June 16-19—will be its ninth men's Open since 1927. For Wybranski—a native of the Philadelphia area who now makes his home in northern Arizona—this year he has painted his ninth consecutive U.S. Open poster, a string that began in 2008 when the championship was held at Torrey Pines.

The poster will be sold in the merchandise tents at Oakmont for $32 unframed, as well as on the websites of the USGA and Wybranski, www.leewybranski.com. It will be available unframed, framed and autographed.

Wybranski's work on the new poster began last fall when he spent a couple of days at Oakmont, walking the grounds and talking with the superintendent and others about changes made by the club to bring its famed course back to the vision of its founders, Henry Clay Fownes and his son William, at the beginning of the 20th century.

"The biggest change is that the club has been taking out trees," Wybranski said. "I was there in 2010 to paint the poster for the U.S. Women's Open, and by then they'd already removed thousands of trees. But the contrast from then to now is even more stark: It's really changed!"

Thursday, May 5

Golf on TV: Wells Fargo Championship, Insperity Invitational, Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic, Trophee Hassan II

By Golf Channel Communications


World No. 3 Rory McIlroy will defend his title at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, with Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson and Adam Scott in the field as well. Jim Furyk also is scheduled to return to the PGA TOUR for the first time since last September after being sidelined with a wrist injury. 

Wells Fargo Championship
Dates: May 5-8
Venue: Quail Hollow Club, Charlotte, N.C.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         4-7 p.m. (Live) / 8-11 p.m. (Replay)
Friday              4-7 p.m. (Live) / 10:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday          1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 8 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday            1-2:30 p.m. (Live) / 8 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (Replay)

Tournament Airtimes on CBS (Eastern):
Saturday 3-6 p.m.
Sunday 3-6 p.m.
McIlroy defends: In last year’s event, Rory McIlroy separated himself from the field to win by seven strokes for his 11th career PGA TOUR win.

Headlining the field: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott, Branden Grace, Justin Rose, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama, Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson.

* * *


Two-time major champion John Daly will make his PGA TOUR Champions debut at the Insperity Invitational, after celebrating his 50th birthday last week.

Insperity Invitational
Dates: May 6-8                                                                      
Venue: The Woodlands Country Club (Tournament Course), The Woodlands, Texas

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Friday              7-10 p.m. (Tape delay) / 3:15-6:15 p.m. (Streaming on Golf Live Extra)
Saturday          5-7 p.m. (Live) / 1:30-3:30 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday            5-7 p.m. (Live) / 1:30-3:30 a.m. (Monday replay)

Woosnam defends: Ian Woosnam defeated Tom Lehman and Kenny Perry with a birdie on the first playoff hole for his first PGA TOUR Champions win.

Headlining the field: John Daly, Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Tom Lehman, Jeff Maggert, Woody Austin, Mark O’Meara, Fuzzy Zoeller, Peter Jacobsen and John Cook.

* * *


Stacy Lewis headlines the field at the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic in Alabama, along with Brooke Henderson and Gerina Piller. 

Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic
Dates: May 5-8                                                                           
Venue: RTJ Golf Trail at Capitol Hill (Senator Course), Prattville, Ala.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         12:30-3:30 p.m. (Live) / 2-4 a.m. (Friday replay)
Friday              12:30-3:30 p.m. (Live) / 4:30-6 a.m. (Saturday replay)
Saturday          3-5 p.m. (Live) / 3:30-5:30 a.m. (Sunday replay)
Sunday            3-5 p.m. (Live) / 3:30-5:30 a.m. (Monday replay)

Tamulis defends: Kris Tamulis finished one shot ahead of Yani Tseng and Austin Ernst for her first LPGA Tour win.

Headlining the field: Stacy Lewis, Brooke Henderson, Amy Yang, So Yeon Ryu, Minjee Lee, Gerina Piller, Anna Nordqvist, Brittany Lincicome, Jessica Korda, Charley Hull and Michelle Wie.

* * *


Trophee Hassan II
Dates: May 5-8                                                                           
Venue: Royal Golf Dar Es Salam (Red Course), Rabat, Morocco    

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):
Thursday         6:30-8:30 a.m. / 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Live)
Friday              6:30-8:30 a.m. / 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Live)
Saturday          10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (Live)
Sunday            9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (Live)

Event returning to familiar venue: After being played for five years at the Royal Palace at Agadir in 2011-2015, the Trophee Hassan II returns to its longtime home at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Rabat for the first time since 2010.

Headlining the field: Tommy Fleetwood, Alexander Levy, Paul Dunne, Matteo Manassero, Alvaro Quiros, David Horsey, Arjun Atwal, Dean Burmester and Javier Ballesteros.

Stewart Cink Steps Away as Wife Fights Cancer

STEWART CINK WITHDREW FROM the Wells Fargo Championship on Tuesday. The 2009 British Open champion announced on Twitter that his wife Lisa has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Here's the (above) note Cink tweeted:
Last week my wife, Lisa, and I received some unfortunate news. Lisa has been diagnosed with breast cancer -- a startling and unexpected revelation for everyone in our family. 
We are still in the process of figuring out exactly what she is fighting, and the uncertainty continues to be very difficult. However, we serve a great God, and our friends and family have been and will be by her side every step of the way. 
In order to assist Lisa in meeting this challenge, I will be stepping away from competitive golf until circumstances improve for her. Hopefully that day will come quickly for her. 
Please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers as we move forward.
I interviewed Stewart Cink in 2011. He was candid and personable. Read those conversations here.

Tuesday, May 3

Mr. Grinder Returns to the PGA Tour

LOOK WHO IS BACK ON the PGA Tour. It's Jim Furyk.

The tour veteran returns this week in the Wells Fargo Championship after a long layoff due to an injured left wrist that required surgery. Furyk's last appearance was at the 2015 Deutsche Bank Championship.

"My wife joked it was kind of the first day of school," Furyk said. "She wanted to know if I had my best outfit on." 
Furyk admitted to being rusty following a nine-hole practice round with Davis Love III n Tuesday at Quail Hollow, but said his wrist is healthy enough to withstand Tour conditions. 
He was encouraged by his abbreviated practice round on Tuesday where he tested the injury by playing shots from Quail Hollow's thick rough. 
"I know I can't hit 100 balls every day and go out and play 18 holes and then go practice again," Furyk said. "I've got to pace myself a little bit."
Maybe going around Quail Hollow with Love made Furyk, soon to be 46, feel like a youngster. The U.S. Ryder Cup team captain who won in Greensboro last summer is 52.

Furyk hopes to play four of the next five tour events, and then head to Oakmont for the U.S. Open, where he nearly won his second national title in 2007.

Monday, May 2

Are Golf and the Olympics a Good Match?

Much has been written about marquee golfers dropping out of the Olympics, including at this blog last week. Irish golf writer and author Kevin Markham offers additional perspective on the controversial topic.

By Kevin Markham

Copyright © Kevin Markham. Used with permission.

Kevin Markham has played every
18-hole golf course in Ireland.
ON AUGUST 11, 2016, THE BATTLE for golf's Olympic gold medals will begin. The re-introduction of golf is widely seen as a blessing for the sport but not everyone agrees on its inclusion or its format. 

Is the Olympics good for golf?

Four billion people watched some part of the London Olympics. What an enormous audience for golf to reach, influence and inspire. As the biggest sporting spectacle on earth the Olympics is an unprecedented opportunity for golf to grow on a global scale and golfing bodies are falling over themselves to tell us about it.

Paul McGinley, who will lead the Irish golf team, says "It is the biggest sporting event in the world and to have a seat at the top table in sport is a big deal for golf."

That's very true, but the recent withdrawals of Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Vijah Singh signals that not all is as peachy as it seems.

Consider this: Of the billions who tuned in to the 2012 Olympics, how many people who watched the water polo were inspired to take up the sport?

A more relevant comparison is Tiger Woods' success in the 1990s and 2000s. Figures for African-American kids taking up golf show little improvement as a result of Tiger's phenomenal success. In other words, success and exposure do not equate to an uptake at the grassroots level.

Is golf good for the Olympics?

When golf was offered a place at the Olympics table, the International Olympics Committee (IOC) specified that competitors must be professional golfers. The IOC hopes and expects golf to reach a vast audience including underdeveloped parts of the world.

It clearly – and cynically – shows why the field will comprise many of the richest sports personalities on the planet, because golf's superstars mean more people will watch, which will mean more sponsors… and more money for the IOC. So yes, golf is good for the Olympics, but there is an elephant in the room.

Is a professional strokeplay event the right format?

Do we really need another 72-hole strokeplay tournament? This was a massive opportunity to make Olympic golf a riveting event. If you want non-golfers to watch a sport that takes five hours to complete, you need a matchplay format that makes every individual hole a battle, every putt a possible victory. There will also be a winner after each match… not after four days. That's what creates excitement. Just look at the Ryder Cup. 

"To grow the game of golf we need to invite amateurs to compete at the Olympics, instead of the current format of 60 (edited) top professionals," Adam Scott said last year.

For those who agree with Scott, consider who non-golfers want to watch: leading amateurs or McIlroy and Spieth? How many of us took up the game because we saw Seve, Jack or Tiger playing so many magical shots? If the Olympics is to be a showpiece for golf, then shouldn't those players who youngsters aspire to be, be the ones who play?

And finally, there's the issue of whether golf should even be in the Olympics when a gold medal is not the absolute pinnacle of a golfer's career?

Graeme McDowell has said that the Olympics is the pinnacle of sport. But is it the pinnacle of golf? A gold medal or a Green Jacket?  

The arguments regarding golf's inclusion, who should play and in what format will rage on, but for now golf and the Olympics are entwined. By the end of August that relationship might have tightened, or simply snapped. And given baseball's exclusion in 2016, we know how severe that snap can be.

Kevin Markham is the author of Hooked: An Amateur's Guide to the Golf Courses of Ireland and writes about Irish golf courses and other golf topics at his blog.