Tuesday, June 8

Guest Column: 'Which Is the Greatest Major?'

By Keith McLaren

Keith McLaren is a 59-year-old fanatical golfer living in St Andrews.

THIS IS THE BIG QUESTION in golf of course and one likely to elicit many interesting responses.

Keith McLaren
The choice is between The Open (British obviously!) and the Masters. And at heart it's a tricky one given the monumental stature of both tournaments in the world of golf. They are both colossal but very different. The Open is mainly played over the old-style links course, while the Masters is only ever played at the incredible Augusta National in Georgia, USA.

So it's a bit of a choice of rough or smooth, old versus new, tweedy traditional taking on the silky modern, the Dad's Army of antiquary up against the vanguard of the American dream. And so I suppose at the final call it's what rocks your boat.

For me it's a no brainer though. That green jacket does it, I'm afraid. The green jacket ceremony and all. And you get to keep it! It's actually tasteful, too. None of your usual garish or dull golfing gear. It's a lovely green. And I expect it's worth a good few bucks as well.

But it's all the rest of the ceremony that is the Masters that I kind of love. You know, the black-tie dinners, the old timers driving-off, the family thing, the nine-hole comp, the pitch-perfect azaleas and all that palatial Macy's window sill stuff. It's a golfers dreamland. I mean Sandy Lyle has been pitching up and playing some very fine golf for the last hundred years. It's quite amazing, to be honest.

Even the journalists are put up five-star style and are treated to bisquit de boeuf, steak tartare, pimento cheese and Crozes Hermitage all week. Not that bad a gig.

However, I don't think I'll ever get there, unfortunately. In any capacity.

I'm far too much of a hacker for one. And as a possible hack? Hmm.

Odds on I'd end up in the caddy shack.

More about Keith McLaren:

"Played on Old twice yesterday!" he told me recently in an email.

"I went to University here in 1980 to 1984, played on the golf team and played at Economics. I have had an eclectic career path to say the least. Finance, school teaching, ski teaching, golf teaching, golf tour operator, kind of writer, ski tour business, insurance, wine sales, florist, cafe and restaurant owner.

"I was pretty bad at most things.

"I am now attempting a standup comic career before I retire!


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Monday, June 7

Yuka Saso Wins U.S. Women's Open in a Playoff After Lexi Thompson Falters

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Just as in the five U.S. Opens contested on the club's Lake Course, the first U.S. Women's Open Championship played over this iconic Bay Area layout wasn't kind to the favored final-round frontrunner.

Olympic's list of past victims includes Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Jim Furyk and Payne Stewart. Lexi Thompson can now be added to the remarkable list of players who have come up short in championship bids here.

Thompson, the 54-hole leader, was five strokes ahead of her closest pursuers on a beautiful early June Sunday with 10 holes remaining, only to play the final eight in 5 over par, including consecutive bogeys on Nos. 17 and 18 that left the 26-year-old Floridian with a final-round 75, one agonizing stroke shy of the playoff between Yuka Saso and Nasa Hataoka  at 4-under 280.

It took three holes to decide the outcome.

Saso converted a 12-foot birdie putt on the first sudden-death playoff hole (No. 9) after both players made back-to-back pars in the two-hole aggregate playoff.

At 19 years, 11 months, 17 days old, Saso joined World Golf Hall of Fame member and seven-time major winner Inbee Park as the youngest champion in U.S. Women's Open history – to the day. She also becomes the first player from the Philippines to engrave her name on the Harton S. Semple Trophy. Princess Mary Superal (2014 U.S. Girls' Junior) is the only other player from the Philippines to claim a USGA title.

"I don't know what's happening in the Philippines right now, but I'm just thankful that there's so many people in the Philippines cheering for me," said Saso, a two-time winner on the LPGA Tour of Japan. "I don't know how to thank them. They gave me so much energy. I want to say thank you to everyone."

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Wednesday, June 2

2021 U.S. Women's Open LIve Broadcast and Streaming Coverage

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The 76th U.S. Women's Open will receive nearly 25 hours of live coverage across NBC, Golf Channel and Peacock from Thursday, June 3 through Sunday, June 6 from The Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif. (See schedule below.)

NBC Sports will also provide coverage of morning and afternoon featured groups streaming live on Peacock, usga.org and the U.S. Women's Open mobile app, and via DirecTV for 30 hours of additional digital coverage in 2021.

Led by Beth Hutter, who will be the first woman to produce a U.S. Women's Open Championship, the network's coverage of the championship will include play-by-play host Rich Lerner with analyst Morgan Pressel, who won the 2005 U.S. Women's Amateur and finished tied for second in the 2005 U.S. Women's Open; play–by-play host Grant Boone with analyst Paige Mackenzie; Tom Abbott in the tower; Karen Stupples, Jerry Foltz and Kay Cockerill, who is a two-time U.S. Women's Amateur champion (1986-87) and a member of The Olympic Club, as on-course reporters; and Amy Rogers providing interviews.

Beginning Wednesday, June 2, NBC Sports will surround the tournament with 13.5 hours of live on-site studio coverage on GOLF Central Live From the U.S. Women’s Open on Golf Channel. Cara Banks hosts the week’s coverage alongside Brandel Chamblee, Stupples, Mackenzie, and Kira K. Dixon.

A full programming schedule can be found here.

Date/Day                    Time (EDT)                  Channel              
June 3/Thursday         5-7 p.m.                      Peacock
                                    7-11 p.m.                    Golf Channel
June 4/Friday              5-7 p.m.                      Peacock 
                                    7-11 p.m.                    Golf Channel
June 5/Saturday         2-5 p.m.                      NBC
                                    5-10 p.m.                    Golf Channel
June 6/Sunday             1-3 p.m.                      Peacock
                                    3-7 p.m.                      NBC
*All Times EDT
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Monday, May 31

Lying Four: 'Why Is Phil Mickelson Popular?'

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YOU MIGHT ENJOY A CONTRARIAN VIEW on Phil Mickelson, the first 50-year-old major champion. You might even agree with a lot of it.

A week ago in a post titled "Why is Phil Mickelson popular?", Lying Four wrote:

For one thing, Mickelson's victory at the 2021 PGA Championship — the sixth major championship of his career, and the first for any 50-year-old — cements his place as the second-greatest player of his generation, and as perhaps the most durable of the all-time greats. His stature in history, at this point, is nearly impossible to overstate.

For another thing, Mickelson is not a nice guy. He has skirted federal law, flirted with murderers, lamented the burden of multi-millionaires, and humiliated his peers. And that's all just in the past decade — which, in a pro career that now spans nearly 30 years, is saying something.

Phil has made most of us cringe, right? And he certainly has done some bad things. Other players (like Matt Kuchar, as Lying Four mentions in the piece) have lost their nice-guy status and popularity over lesser offenses.

So why does Phil get away with it? Why is he so likable?

The comments section is open if you want to chime in.

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PGA TOUR HIGHLIGHTS: Jason Kokrak 'Grinded It Out' Against Jordan Spieth to Win at Hogan's Alley

JASON KOKRAK WON THE CHARLES SCHWAB CHALLENGE at Hogan's Alley (Colonial Country Club) in Fort Worth, Texas. It was Kokrak's second victory of the season after going 233 starts without a win on the PGA Tour.

Kokrak shot an even-par 70 in the final round to beat runner-up Jodan Spieth (73) by two strokes. The final holes were a grim march to the clubhouse. Neither man looked comfortable with their games coming down the stretch, although Kokrak made a few clutch putts while Spieth later said he didn't know what to expect from his golf swing.

"We grinded it out," Kokrak said about he and Spieth not having their "A game." The crowd favorite was the Texan, Spieth, so Kokrak also faced that added challenge.

The Charles Schwab Challenge returned to its usual spot on the calendar and featured a field that included Justin Thomas, defending champion Daniel Berger and PGA champion Phil Mickelson (who missed the cut). 

Past winners at Colonial included Sergio Garcia, Zach Johnson, Kevin Kisner and Justin Rose.

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Saturday, May 29

LPGA Elects Mollie Marcoux Samaan As New Commissioner

News Release

DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. – The Board of Directors of the LPGA has unanimously elected Mollie Marcoux Samaan as its next Commissioner. Marcoux Samaan, currently Ford Family Director of Athletics at Princeton University, will become the ninth Commissioner of the LPGA since its formation in 1950. She will succeed Commissioner Mike Whan who notified the LPGA Board late last year of his intent to step down in 2021. Whan was recently announced as the next Chief Executive Officer of the USGA. Marcoux Samaan will be working with the LPGA Board and the University to transition to her new role in the months ahead.

"Our selection of Mollie Marcoux Samaan as the LPGA's next Commissioner is the outcome of an extensive and deliberate search process. The position attracted a diverse group of outstanding internal and external candidates, all passionate about the LPGA. We concluded that Mollie is the right leader to guide the LPGA’s next chapter of growth, impact and achievement," said Diane Gulyas, Chair of the LPGA Board of Directors and the Search Committee.

"Mollie understands the power of golf to change the lives of girls and women. As a values-centered leader, she's known for her skills in collaboration, managing through complexity and building a winning team culture. In every role, she's had an outstanding record of performance in navigating change, forging lasting partnerships, and seeing – and seizing – new opportunities," Gulyas said.

"The LPGA Commissioner role is one of the best jobs in sports today and the opportunity of a lifetime. I'm passionate about the game of golf and have been an LPGA fan since I was a little girl. I appreciate the LPGA's history and the tenacity of its 13 Founders. I'm truly inspired by our Tour players and teaching professionals. I'm excited to dive into the LPGA initiatives to impact women and girls in the game at every age and ability. And, to learn about and contribute to all aspects of the LPGA's business," said Mollie Marcoux Samaan.

"I believe passionately that sports have the power to change the world. And in this moment in time – with the positive energy around women's sports, women's leadership and society's commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion – I believe the LPGA has an incredible opportunity to use our platform for positive change.

"I've devoted my career to developing character, confidence and opportunities through sports. My mission and the LPGA's mission are fully aligned: providing women and girls the opportunity to achieve their dreams through golf.

"Under the leadership of Mike Whan and the executive team, the LPGA is strongly positioned for continued growth and impact. I'll look forward to working with Mike and the leadership team to meet the many people and organizations that have been so integral to the LPGA's success. With its committed sponsors and fans, talented players and members, and exceptional staff and Board, my role will be to continue the positive momentum and increase opportunities, awareness, impact and respect for the LPGA worldwide," Marcoux Samaan said.

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Thursday, May 27

Q&A: Beverly Bell, Author of 'The Murder of Marion Miley'; the Tragic Death of the Amateur Golfer Was Front-Page News Around the World

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ABOVE: Bridget Newell (left) and Marion Miley compete in a match at the 1936 British Women's Amateur.

By Elizabeth Short

Beverly Bell is a writer, pleasure golfer and author of The Murder of Marion Miley, which was a finalist for the Herbert Warren Wind Book Award, the USGA's top literary prize. Bell was also a consultant on a Marion Miley documentary made by Kentucky public television.

Bell's book recounts the tragic September 1941 murder of 27-year-old internationally-known amateur golfer Marion Miley, a Kentucky native who garnered a reputation on and off the golf course thanks to her outstanding game and magnetic personality. Bell sat down with Armchair Golf Blog to share about Miley's story and her experience telling it. 

Q: What made you gravitate toward Miley's story? 

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BEVERLY BELL: A couple of things attracted me to it. First of all, when I first became aware of Marion, I was in my late twenties -- there was this connection in terms of our ages [Miley was 27 when she died]. The second thing was I had taken up the game five years earlier. I had just moved back to Kentucky from Arizona, where you can play a lot of golf, so I was very energized by coming from that environment. The third thing was I had started some freelance writing work on the side. 

When I came back to Kentucky, my late father-in-law knew about each of these things: I had taken up the game and I was writing. He said to me one day, "I've got a story for you." He went on to tell me about this golfer I'd never heard of. Her murder had occurred when he was a teenager. If you know anything about teens, you know they can get very imprinted by events. I felt like even when he talked about Marion -- even though he wasn't a golfer -- that he had been imprinted by the experience of her very brutal death. He had latched on to that story and then he shared it with me. That's how it started, one step after the other. And I'll tell you, it didn't take long before I was really hooked. 

Q: How can you communicate, in today's terms, how well-known Miley was? I'm surprised more people don't know about her. 

BELL: I think all you need to say in terms of the breadth of her celebrity, was that the story of her very unfortunate death at the age of 27 made the front page -- above the fold -- of The New York Times. How often does that happen? 

When someone young dies, it seems to always catch us off guard. It doesn't matter how many times it happens. It is an affront to the way we think the world is supposed to work, which is that the old die first. Even though we've seen it happen time and time again, it always shocks us, shakes us. So in trying to understand what it was like at that time when Marion died and what the impact was, it's significant that the story hit all over the world. It wasn't just the United States. It was in Europe, Mexico, Australia. You can see how well known she was by looking at the newspapers that were reporting on it. 

Marion was very effective in reaching out to people, in connecting with people. That's one of the things that I came to learn. I think it certainly fed into how her death was reported, as well as the extent of that reporting. 

Q: Marion was an internationally known female golfer, which seems especially significant for the time. How was this possible, and what did it mean?

BELL: There are a couple reasons for that, I think. Women's golf was really, really big. In my understanding of the women's game, it really came into its own in the 1930s. That was attributed, for the most part, to when Bobby Jones decided to retire from golf in 1930. It created this little ebb, and at that point, women who played the game stepped in to fill the role. They provided this game -- some would say this exciting game -- to people who were interested. 

Another factor, in terms of the popularity of the game during that time, was that America was in the Great Depression. People were looking for opportunities for entertainment -- something that didn't cost a whole lot, something to enjoy, where you could attend something and push away the rest of life. I think that was definitely a factor. When you see photographs of some of those games, some of those matches, and you see how many people were attending a woman's match, it's just kind of startling. It was just this unique opportunity of a circumstance presenting itself and a group of women stepping in. 

Marion was one of a large group. I certainly don't want to leave the rest of those women behind because they were very important. She was popular, and she was a woman, and she was a golfer, and had these other circumstances happening in the world. It came together for this perfect picture. 

Q: Hearing you expand on the significance that way illustrates another dimension to the tragedy of her death. Golf was supposed to be this carefree, escapist activity, but the reality of the world we live in comes to meet her smack in the middle of that in a really unfortunate way. 

BELL: The fact that it happened in a beautiful place, at a country club -- these things just are not supposed to happen, like you said, surrounded by this lovely game. How in the world could this happen? There were so many things that came together for that crime and resulting deaths and you just think if we could run back the clock and play it again, it might just take one alteration of something and you change the outcome. But that's not the way life is.

Q: What was the thing that made Marion's story stick with you and haunt you? Would it be that tragic inevitability?

BELL: I couldn't get over how fundamentally unfair it was. I just couldn't get over it, and I carried that for years. I continued to gather pieces of the story, do an interview with someone else, and I had no idea where this was headed. I wrote one small magazine piece years ago, but I knew that was just one thing that I was going to do. Every time I would think about it, that's the thing I always got caught on, that this is so wrong, so unfair.

I'll tell you one other thing that kept me hooked. I was never disappointed when I dug under another rock. I continued to find surprising things that I would literally go, "Are you kidding me? Really?" 

I remember talking to a friend about it and I said, "You know why I keep at this story? Because it just keeps rewarding me. It just goes well, you thought you knew this, but how about this." Something else would happen. I can't even tell you how many times that happened.

Q: You said you didn't know where the story was going. Was that one of the challenges for you of figuring out how you want to tell the story? Is that why you ultimately decided to do a book about it? 

BELL: I ultimately decided to do a book because, one, I was tired of this thing around my neck. I had carried it around for so long wondering what to do with it. I knew that I was gathering this body of information and details of the story that it had to go somewhere. Part of it was me going, "I have got to do something with this." And honestly at the very beginning, I needed to push it off of me, because it had been pushing in on me for so long. I just had to do something with it.

It was when I started getting up early in the morning to start writing the book before my regular job -- I think it was maybe the next year after that -- then I became aware that the state public television network here in Kentucky was going to be doing a documentary on Marion. They put this call out. They were so stuck. Their main program was photographs and materials they could use as part of their visuals because there was no video of Marion anywhere except for one small clip. So they put this call out looking for help and I answered this producer. And I said I know some things about this, and actually I have been collecting photographs for years, so I have a big library. 

I was already working on the book and then the documentary came in and I was a consultant on the documentary. Maybe sometimes things just happen at the right time and place. 

Q: I think a lot of writers can relate to your sentiment about having to tell the story. 

BELL: It was interesting because I was getting up very early, the sun wasn't up, and I was in my little dark place with a couple of lamps on or whatever, no sunlight. All the time I had this thought, "Well, it's just me and this little book." Just like, who's really going to be interested in this? 

I was burning up with it but I didn't have any delusions and just felt like it was just me and this little book. Me and Marion, I'm just going to tell her story. 

When asked what she was working on next, Ms. Bell said:

You can only tell a story once. So I usually don't talk about what I'm working on. I will tell you that it's two story lines. One takes place in the 1960s, one in the 1990s, so I am actually getting closer to real time.

Elizabeth Short is a writer who lives in Woodstock, Georgia.

Tuesday, May 25

The Superpower That Made Phil Mickelson a Major Champion at the Ripe Old Age of 50

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WHILE THE WORLD IS MOVING ON, I'm still processing Phil Mickelson's historic victory at the PGA Championship on Kiawah Island.

Unfortunately, I didn't see much of it. Or I'd say fortunately because I was visiting my daughter and son-in-law in Atlanta. (It's wonderful to reconnect with family and travel again.)

Through the years my standard comment on Phil Mickelson is that he always surprises us. Most of them are good surprises. Some are not. The PGA Championship was probably the best surprise of all. Oldest major winner and on and on and on.

On Sunday evening when I was trying to find my way to Breaks Interstate Park on the Virginia-Kentucky border, my phone started chirping. Texts, photos and emails arrived as Phil walked up 18 at the Ocean Course and completed the task of becoming the first 50-something to hoist a major championship trophy. Late that night I opened my laptop and watched the highlights.

Mickelson's win was surely inspirational. And not just for older people, as Twitter affirmed. Phil showed us what's possible at 50 in golf, but I think he has also learned a lot about himself recently, based on his comments and things I've read.

He still loves the game. He still loves to compete. Apparently, he has worked very hard (maybe harder than ever) to stick around and be relevant. He can't coast on talent or experience or his other-worldly short game. It's not nearly enough against today's crop of elite players.

Arguably most important of all, Phil decided he could win another major. At 50. He believed. That's the ultimate superpower. May his achievement spur on others in their small and large endeavors.

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Wednesday, May 19

Golf Course Architect Arthur Hills Dies at 91

News Release

BROOKFIELD, WI – American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) Past President Arthur Hills, ASGCA Fellow, died May 18, 2021, in Toledo, Ohio. He was age 91.

Arthur Hills
A graduate of both Michigan State University (science) and the University of Michigan (landscape architecture), Hills excelled at golf as a member of the MSU Spartan golf team. He formed his golf course architecture firm in the 1960s. Today, Hills * Forrest * Smith, Golf Course Architects continues to, as their website states, "create golf course designs that stimulate the senses, display creativity, and honor the hallowed traditions of the game as they relate to strategy, shot values and aesthetic character."

Hills designed more than 200 new golf courses around the world and renovated more than 150 other courses. His new designs include: Bonita Bay, Naples, Florida; The Golf Club of Georgia, Atlanta; Bighorn Golf Club, Palm Desert, California; Keene Trace Golf Club, Lexington, Kentucky; and Hyatt Hill Country Resort, San Antonio, Texas. Hills-designed courses have hosted a number of distinguished amateur and professional tournaments, including U.S. Opens and the Ryder Cup.

An environmental pioneer, Hills designed the first Audubon Signature Sanctuary courses in the United States, Mexico and Europe. ASGCA Past President Pete Dye dubbed Hills "the Mayor of Naples" for the number of private country club courses that he designed in and near that coastal Florida location.

ASGCA Past President Steve Forrest said, "He started the business by placing an ad in the Toledo, Ohio, Yellow Pages under 'Golf Course Architect' while operating a landscape contracting business. I had the great privilege of learning all aspects of golf course architecture from a distinguished professional practitioner and humble gentleman over 42 years. Arthur became a father-like figure to me who was a mentor, an instructor, exhorter and admonisher while always trying to improve his own skills and increase his personal knowledge every day."

Hills has been inducted into both the Ohio and Michigan Golf Halls of Fame and received a lifetime achievement award from the Michigan Golf Course Owners Association.

He became an ASGCA member in 1971. Hills served as ASGCA president in 1992-93 and achieved Fellow status in 2003.

How to Watch the 2021 PGA Championship: TV and Streaming Details and Schedule

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THE 2021 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP STARTS on Thursday at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. Collin Morikawa is the defending champion.

Following are the broadcast and streaming details and schedule. All times Eastern Time.

Tune in on ESPN and CBS TV:

Thursday, May 20
1-7 p.m. (ESPN)

Friday, May 21
1-7 p.m. (ESPN)

Saturday, May 22
10 a.m.-1 p.m. (ESPN)
1-7 p.m. (CBS)

Sunday, May 23
10 a.m.-1 p.m. (ESPN)
1-7 p.m. (CBS)

Stream at ESPN+ and Paramount+:

Thursday, May 20
7 a.m.-1 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
Featured Groups: All day (ESPN+)
Featured Holes (16, 17 and 18): 8:15 a.m.-7 p.m. (ESPN+)

Friday, May 21
7 a.m.-1 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
Featured Groups: All day (ESPN+)
Featured Holes (16, 17 and 18): 8:15 a.m.-7 p.m. (ESPN+)

Saturday, May 22
8-10 a.m. ET (ESPN+)
Round 3 CBS TV Coverage: 1-7 p.m. ET (Paramount+)
Featured Groups and Featured Holes (15, 16 and 17): All day (ESPN+)

Sunday, May 23
8-10 a.m. ET (ESPN+)
Round 4 CBS TV Coverage: 1-7 p.m. ET (Paramount+)
Featured Groups and Featured Holes (15, 16 and 17): All day (ESPN+)

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Monday, May 17

PGA TOUR HIGHLIGHTS: K.H. Lee Bags First Tour Win at AT&T Byron Nelson

SOUTH KOREAN K.H. LEE got his maiden victory at the AT&T Byron Nelson in his 80th start on the PGA TOUR. It came after a long weather delay at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas.

The 29-year-old Lee shot a 66 on a soggy Sunday to finish 25 under, good for a 3-stroke victory over Sam Burns.

"I (didn't) want to look on the leaderboard," Lee said after the long round. "I'm very excited and happy."

In a sense, Lee came out of nowhere. He was 137th in the Official World Golf Ranking coming into the tournament and had only contended once this season at Phoenix.

Now Lee will head to the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island to play in his first PGA Championship, which starts on Thursday.

Played at TPC Craig Ranch for the first time, the tournament included Dallas native Jordan Spieth back in action after a month off. He finished T9.

Spieth won the Valero Texas Open in April, his first victory since 2017.

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Sunday, May 16

Update for Followers: Some Housekeeping at ARMCHAIR GOLF BLOG

Hi. Thanks for reading ARMCHAIR GOLF BLOG.

1. If you've visited here in recent days, you may have received a security warning about this site (url address: https://armchairgolfblog.blogspot.com/). I did on Friday. I have since made adjustments to ensure this site's url is secure. Please continue to read ARMCHAIR GOLF.

2. In the next few days, I'll be changing my subscription service from Feedburner to follow.it. Why? Because Feedburner (by Google) is going away soon.

Please note: If you're already a subscriber, you will be moved to follow.it. You may receive notifications from both services for a short time as I go through the process of migrating to follow.it and deactivating Feedburner. Please hang in there with me. Thanks in advance for your patience.

3. If you're new, I invite you to follow by entering your email in the green box at right →

That way you won't miss anything here at ARMCHAIR GOLF!

Tuesday, May 11

6 Little-Known Historical Facts About Torrey Pines Golf Course, Site of the 2021 U.S. Open

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By Julio Sanchez

WITH THE U.S. OPEN RETURNING to Torrey Pines this June, I thought it would be fun to take a deeper look into the little-known history of this Californian golfing gem.

For those of you that may not know, Torrey Pines Golf Course is located in La Jolla, California, in the Torrey Pines Natural State Reserve, a gorgeous coastal setting. The bluffs overlooking the Pacific offer the most stunning ocean views. If you are planning a vacation, this course is definitely worth a visit and the area offers some of the nicest ocean view vacation rentals in California.
It has quite an interesting history and has gone through some changes before becoming the great golf course we know today. Here are some facts you may not know about the Torrey Pines Golf Course.
1. It is named after a rare type of pine tree.
The name Torrey Pines comes from the rare pine trees that grow in the state reserve. In all of North America they can only be found here and on Santa Rosa Island south of Santa Barbara.
The trees are remnants of a prehistoric mountain range that got submerged in the Pacific. The Torrey Pines Reserve is on the south end of the mountain while Santa Barbara is on the north end of the submerged mountain.
2. It was first a military base.
Before the birth of the Torrey Pines Golf Course, the area was first a military training center named Camp Gallan. The military camp opened in January 1941 and operated until 1945 when it was declared surplus, less than three months after the Japanese surrendered in August 1945.
During the time the camp was operational the area had become like a small city of 15,000 people with paved streets and nearly 300 buildings.
3. It was also used as a racing track.
After the military base closed, the buildings were sold to the city of San Diego and removed from the site but the streets remained. Races were usually held at Del Mar but a last minute disagreement with the Del Mar organizers left racers without a place to race in, and so, the Torrey Pines Race Course was born in 1951.
In 1955 the city of San Diego decided to build a 36-hole golf course on the site of the track. The last race was held in January 1956.
4. The city credited the wrong architect for its design.
Near the Torrey Pines golf shop, there are a series of plaques that honor the ones responsible for the present day course. One of them honors “William P. Bell Son” as the original architects. But the course was actually designed only by the son, William F. Bell. The father had been dead for four years when the design started.
The misconception comes from the fact that the city of San Diego first signed a contract in 1950 with the “William P. Bell and Son” co-partnership for the design of an 18-hole golf course to be constructed on the city-owned land in the Torrey Pines mesa. Due to a series of delays including his father's death in 1953, William F. Bell didn't manage to receive approval for his final design, which included 36 holes, not 18, until 1955.
Out of respect for his father, Bell didn't change the name of the company so the plaque got the name of the company right but not the one of the actual designer.
5. It was not a very good course initially.
The Bell family was a very popular choice when it came to designing golf courses between the 1920s and the 1950s. William P. Bell had worked on the Bel-Air, Riviera and Los Angeles CC layouts, alongside the legendary George C. Thomas Jr. But, as the father focused on quality, the son instead focused on quantity, mass producing courses efficiently and inexpensively after the death of his father. However, the quality of the courses built by William F. Bell is superior to the ones his father built.
6. It underwent multiple renovations.
The Torrey Pines Golf Course went through a series of renovations to reach its present state. The most recent one was in 2019-2020 when it was prepared for the 2021 U.S. Open.
In 1968 the San Diego Open moved to Torrey Pines and was renamed the Andy Williams San Diego Open. It was ranked among America's Top 100 Most Testing Courses by Golf Digest. But in reality it wasn't -- it was just not in the best shape. When the pros played there it was wet and windy, and its greens were nearly impossible, soaking wet in front, and rock hard on the back edges.
By 1973 the city of San Diego realized the course had to be rebuilt, and the contract went to local designer Billy Casper who had a design partnership with the golf architect David Rainville. It took them four years to redo all 36 holes while keeping the course open to the public.
Most of Rainville's renovation was swept away by the 2001 remodeling of the course by Rees Jones. But there is one contribution that remained untouched: the pond in front of the 18th green.
The Torrey Pines Golf Course surely is a special course with a unique history and I think that everyone is eager to see what this year's U.S. Open will add to the course's collection of memorable events. If it is anything like the previously hosted 2008 U.S. Open, won in dramatic fashion by Tiger Woods, it will most definitely not fail to impress.
Julio Sanchez is the owner of Cardiff Vacations, a luxury vacation rental business in Encinitas, California. 

Monday, May 10

PGA TOUR HIGHLIGHTS: Rory McIlroy Satisfied to See Work Is Paying Off After Winning Wells Fargo Championship for Third Time

RORY MCILROY SHOT A 68 in the final round of the Wells Fargo Championship to finish 10 under and win by a stroke. It was his third Wells Fargo victory (2010, 2015 and 2021) and 19th title on the PGA TOUR.

Abraham Ancer (66) finished second.

It was like old times. The Wells Fargo at Quail Hollow, which was cancelled last year due to the pandemic, featured large galleries on Sunday that cheered McIlroy to victory. Rory loves playing in Charlotte and winning on Mother's Day was a sweet bonus.

He said, "Ever since I first set eyes on this golf course, I loved it from the first time I played it, and that love has sort of been reciprocated back. I've played so well here over the years."

It had been 553 days since Rory's last tour win at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions, according to PGATOUR.COM.

He added: "I felt good about my game coming in here, but I wasn't expecting to come and win first week straight out again. It's satisfying to see the work is paying off, but it's just the start. There's so much more I want to achieve and so much more I want to do in the game."

McIlroy will soon have a major chance to build on his success. The PGA Championship begins on May 20 at Kiawah Island in South Carolina, where Rory won his first of two PGA titles in 2012.

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Thursday, May 6

Golf Digest Cover Story and Interview: 'Who Is the Real Patrick Reed?'

PATRICK REED SAT DOWN WITH GOLF DIGEST to answer questions about his image, his critics and more.

When asked if he felt like the media had treated him unfairly, Reed said, "I do. I think a lot has been miscontrued, unwarranted."

As for explaining himself as a player and a man, he told Golf Digest

There are three types of players on tour. The chatty guy who's always smiling and waving because that's how he plays his best. There's the guy who wears emotion on his sleeve, lets everyone know when he’s playing well and throws clubs when he’s not. The third guy has tunnel vision and blocks out everything around him. That's how I’ve tried to be, and this ability to flip the switch and focus is why I've been successful. But it's led to this false narrative that I don't interact with other players.

Wednesday, May 5

MOVIE TRAILER: 'Walking With Herb'; New Film About Golf and Second Chances in Theaters May 7

News Release

LOS ANGELES, CA – The uplifting, new film WALKING WITH HERB takes audiences on an 18-hole rollercoaster ride as one man discovers how the impossible can become possible through faith, family and second chances . . . and with the help of God’s motorcycle-riding messenger. In theaters nationwide on May 7, WALKING WITH HERB will inspire and entertain audiences. 

WALKING WITH HERB features global star Edward James Olmos and comedy legend George Lopez.

"It was one of the best experiences I've ever had working on a film," said Olmos, who plays the lead character, and is an executive producer. "An amazing script and an excellent cast combine for a heart-warming, funny story about golf, belief and second chances."

In addition to Olmos (Academy Award® nominee, Golden Globe® and Emmy® winner, Battlestar Galactica, STAND AND DELIVER) and Lopez (George Lopez show), WALKING WITH HERB stars Kathleen Quinlan (Academy Award® nominee, APOLLO 13).

"This is Edward James Olmos' best performance since STAND AND DELIVER," said Sid Ganis, former President of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science. 

Joe Amable-Amo is a bank executive and former amateur golfer struggling with his faith after an unexpected tragedy. Faced with doubts about himself, his purpose and his belief in God, Joe is stunned when God tells him that he’s been chosen to inspire the world and play in a world championship golf tournament. Guided by God’s eccentric personal messenger, Herb, Joe learns that the seemingly impossible is possible…through faith, family and second chances.

WALKING WITH HERB premieres nationwide May 7. Find tickets at WalkingWithHerbMovie.com.

Produced by Optimism Entertainment and Rio Road Entertainment, WALKING WITH HERB is directed by Ross Kagan Marks and written by Tony® winner and Academy Award® nominee Mark Medoff. 

WALKING WITH HERB is based on the book of the same name by Las Cruces, New Mexico, banker and golfer Joe S. Bullock. It was filmed in Las Cruces.

Friday, April 30

Western Golf Association: A Record Number of Student Caddies Awarded Full College Scholarships

By Western Golf Association / Evans Scholars Foundation

GLENVIEW, IL – A record 300 students from across the country have been awarded the Evans Scholarship, a prestigious full housing and tuition college grant offered to golf caddies, this year.

Each caddie has a unique story, reflecting the scholarship’s four selection criteria: a strong caddie record; excellent academics; demonstrated financial need; and outstanding character. A full list of winners can be found in the accompanying document.

Recipients were interviewed at one of more than 20 selection meetings held virtually across the country from this past November through March. Winners will begin college as Evans Scholars this fall, attending one of 19 leading universities nationwide that is an Evans Scholars partner school.

"These deserving young students epitomize what our Program has been about since its creation in 1930," said WGA Chairman Kevin Buggy. "Their dedication, hard work and sacrifice is inspiring, and we are honored to be able to help them pursue their dreams."

The Western Golf Association, headquartered in Glenview, Illinois, has overseen the Evans Scholars Program since1930. One of golf’'s favorite charities, it is the nation's largest scholarship program for caddies.

Currently, a record 1,045 students are enrolled in 19 universities across the nation as Evans Scholars, and more than 11,300 caddies have graduated as Evans Scholars since the program was founded by famed Chicago amateur golfer Charles "Chick" Evans Jr. 

"These young men and women have shown excellence in the classroom, in their communities, and on the golf course," said John Kaczkowski, WGA/ESF President and CEO. "We welcome them to the Evans Scholars family."

The support of local golf and country clubs and partnering golf associations nationwide has been an integral part of the success of the Evans Scholars Program. 

Scholarship funds come mostly from contributions by more than 33,000 golfers across the country, who are members of the Evans Scholars Par Club program. Evans Scholars Alumni donate more than $15 million annually, and all proceeds from the BMW Championship, the third of four PGA TOUR Playoff events in the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup competition, are donated to the Evans Scholars Foundation. In 2021, the BMW Championship will be held at Caves Valley Golf Club outside Baltimore from Aug. 23-29.

Wednesday, April 28

VIDEO: Mini-Tour Player Michael Visacki Qualifies for Valspar Championship; Tearfully Tells Father on Phone, 'I Made It'

THE ROAD WAS VERY LONG, but Michael Visacki will finally be in a PGA Tour event on Thursday when he tees off at 9:07 a.m. in the Valspar Championship.

A longtime mini-tour player who said he has logged some 170,000 miles in a 2010 Honda Accord over the past several years chasing his golf dreams made it into the $6.9 million Valspar Championship when he holed a 20-foot birdie putt Monday in a sudden-death playoff to gain the last spot in the field.

Asked why he believed his story resonated so much, he again got emotional during a conference call with reporters.

"Just a lot of people give up on their dreams, probably because they can't afford it," Visacki said. "But I've been lucky enough to be with my parents and be able [for them] to help me out sometimes to keep living it."

Monday, April 26

MORNING READ: 'Only Little Guys Get Slapped for Slow Play' on PGA Tour

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AT HARBOUR TOWN SI WOO KIM waited a minute or so to see if his 15-foot birdie putt would fall into the hole on the 2nd green. It hung on the edge. The hesitating putt did finally drop.

But the PGA Tour didn't hesitate at all. It penalized Kim a stroke for violation of Rule 13.3a.

Veteran golf scribe John Hawkins wrote about the incident at MORNING READ, as well as the larger issue of how the PGA Tour polices (but mostly doesn't police) slow play.

From Kim's playing partner, Hawkins added:

"It definitely exceeded time," fellow competitor Matt Kuchar explained, "but as I go up there [to the hole], I go, 'This ball is moving.' You could tell it was moving. You can't hit a moving ball, correct?"

Hawkins wondered about "Kim's marvelous birdie turned back into a par."

He wrote, "Would a rules official have taken the same action if Tiger Woods had been the offender? Hmmm."

We probably know the answer to that one.

There is a glaring inconsistency to the Kim penalty that warrants further review. Justin Thomas took more than three minutes to hit his tee shot at Sherwood Country Club’s par-3 15th at the Zozo Championship last fall. J.B. Holmes needs 90 seconds just to put on his glove. The big names and tour veterans get a free pass when it comes to pace of play. Kim takes a minute and change on a Saturday, gets the happy ending he was waiting for – and the Camp Ponte Vedra police decide to enforce an ambiguous rule because a ball is declared to be "at rest" when it obviously wasn't?

It's enough to leave you thinking a pro golfer has been made into an example. Kim is from South Korea, who at age 21 in 2017 was the youngest man ever to win the Players Championship, although he recently acquired a huge new batch of fame for busting his putter earlier this month at the Masters. He is not a star, at least in this country, and when you process the fact that Tour referees have called a grand total of two actual slow-play penalties since 1995, the sudden call to action during the third round at Harbour Town smells a lot like a dumpster in Jersey City. 

Tuesday, April 20

USGA to Welcome a Limited Number of Fans in June at 2021 U.S. Women's Open and U.S. Open Championships


LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. – The USGA announced today that the 2021 U.S. Women's Open and U.S. Open Championships will be played with a limited number of fans in attendance. The 76th U.S. Women's Open will be held at The Olympic Club (Lake Course), in San Francisco, Calif., from June 3-6, and the 121st U.S. Open will be held at Torrey Pines Golf Course (South Course), in San Diego, Calif., from June 17-20. 

"Last year, we missed the energy that fans bring to our U.S. Open championships," said John Bodenhamer, senior managing director, Championships. "We are grateful to our local and state health and safety officials in California to be in a position to welcome some fans back this year to witness the greatest players in the world contending for these prestigious championships, while working to maintain the health and safety of all involved."

Those who have already purchased tickets to the U.S. Open will receive a direct communication from the USGA with additional details.

Information on tickets for each championship is available on uswomensopen.com and usopen.com

The USGA will continue to monitor developments and guidelines in California and will update local policies and procedures on the championships' respective websites as required.

For both championships, the following guidelines will be in place:
  • Face coverings will be required for fans, staff and volunteers, and must be worn at all times, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status;
  • All fans, staff, and volunteers will be required to abide by social distancing guidelines;
  • State of California residents must show proof that vaccination against COVID-19 has occurred at least 14 days prior to the championships or that a negative test result has been received;
  • It will be mandatory for all out-of-state fans to provide proof that vaccination against COVID-19 has occurred at least 14 days prior to the championship;
  • Information regarding COVID-19 testing and vaccination verification will be made available on uswomensopen.com and usopen.com;
  • Sanitization stations will be available throughout the grounds, and spectators will be permitted to bring hand sanitizer.
  • The U.S. Women's Open will be held at The Olympic Club for the first time in its 76-year history. The storied venue has hosted five U.S. Opens, as well as five other USGA championships. Torrey Pines will host the U.S. Open for the second time; in 2008, it was the site of Tiger Woods' memorable Monday playoff victory over Rocco Mediate.
The U.S. Women's Open and U.S. Open will be the 84th and 85th USGA championships to be played in California. The two Opens were previously held in the same state during the same year only twice before, in 1971 and 2014.

Fifty years ago in Pennsylvania, Lee Trevino won the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, and JoAnne Carner won the Women's Open at The Kahkwa Club in Erie.

Seven years ago, the Opens were contested on the same course in consecutive weeks at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club (Course No. 2), in the Village of Pinehurst, N.C., where Martin Kaymer and Michelle Wie West were victorious.

Thursday, April 15

VIDEO: A Brief History of Caddies at the Masters; the Black Men Who Carried for Hogan, Palmer, Nicklaus and Others

I KNOW THE MASTERS IS OVER, but I just ran across this video produced by NBC Sports. It's good.

"We were the best caddies in the world at the time."

USGA: World's Best Set to Compete in 76th U.S. Women’s Open at The Olympic Club

LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. – Eleven U.S. Open champions and 19 of the top 20 players in the world are among those exempt into the 76th U.S. Women's Open Championship, which will be conducted by the United States Golf Association from June 3-6, 2021 at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif. Championship entries closed at 5 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 14. 

"Worldwide interest in competing in the U.S. Women's Open Championship remains incredibly high and contributes to a strong and competitive field," said John Bodenhamer, USGA senior managing director of Championships. "We look forward to the return of qualifying, and to hosting the U.S. Women's Open at such a historic venue as The Olympic Club."

This marks the seventh consecutive time the U.S. Women's Open has received more than 1,500 entries, with the USGA accepting 1,595 entries for this year's championship, the most since 2017. The 2015 championship at Lancaster (Pa.) Country Club holds the entry record with 1,873. The USGA accepted entries from golfers in 47 states, 249 entrants from California among them, and a total of 57 countries. 

To be eligible for the U.S. Women's Open, a player must have a Handicap Index® not exceeding 2.4, or be a professional. Qualifying will be conducted over 36 holes between April 26-May 13 and will be held at 22 sites in the United States, as well as in Japan. Qualifiers typically held in England, the People's Republic of China, and the Republic of Korea were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and exemption categories were added in their place.  

A Lim Kim, of Korea, who won the 2020 U.S. Women's Open just four months ago at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas, is one of 11 fully exempt U.S. Women’s Open champions. Kim is joined by Jeongeun Lee6 (2019), Ariya Jutanugarn (2018), Sung Hyun Park (2017), Brittany Lang (2016), In Gee Chun (2015), Michelle Wie West (2014), Inbee Park (2013, 2008), Na Yeon Choi (2012), So Yeon Ryu (2011) and Eun-Hee Ji (2009). 

The championship's youngest entrant is 10-year-old Bella Campos, from Honolulu, Hawaii. She will compete at the qualifying site in Oahu, Hawaii on May 10. Laura Baugh, 65, of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., the 1971 U.S. Women's Amateur champion, is the championship's oldest entrant. She will attempt to qualify in Bradenton, Fla., on May 3.  

Two-time U.S. Women's Open champion and three-time U.S. Women's Amateur champion Juli Inkster, 60, will attempt to qualify in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on April 26. Inkster has the most appearances (35) in U.S. Women's Open history. 

Tuesday, April 13

'I Flushed It': Xander Schauffele Explains the Tee Shot That Drowned His Hopes at the Masters

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JUST WHEN IT GOT INTERESTING late on Sunday at the Masters, when Xander Schauffele pulled within two shots of Mr. Steady, Hidecki Matsuyama, when he had the honors at the par-3 16th and could cozy a short iron within birdie distance and apply more pressure, the worst thing happened. Water.

Who hits it in the pond on 16? The CBS broadcast team mentioned it was a rare occurrence these days.

As I remember, Schauffele's ball seemed to be flying directly at the pin, not the safer line of right of flag to let it catch the slope and funnel to the hole. Plus the shot came up short. Had it been hit farther right it would have stayed dry.

What happened? Was it a pull? Was it a mishit?

No, not according to Xander. "I flushed it."

I was coming in hot, I was feeling good. Hideki surprisingly went for the green on 15. I felt like he gave me a little bit of hope there, and maybe a little hyperaggressive there on 16. I've been told so many things by so many veterans. Play the winds you feel. Austin [his caddie] and I, it was 184, we felt down cut at the moment. I hit an 8-iron, and I flushed it. It was not down cut.

No, I hit a perfect shot. I told Austin I flushed it, which makes it even worse. We can share the misery together. I fought hard. It was a messy start. Hideki was robot-like for 13 holes, didn't make a mistake. I felt like I gave him a little bit of run and a little bit of excitement to the tournament there at the end. Unfortunately, hit it in the drink there.

Schauffele is moving on. At least that's his story.

"I hit a good shot. I committed to it. It turned out bad. I'll be able to sleep tonight. I might be tossing and turning, but I'll be okay."

Monday, April 12

Pioneering Masters Champion Hidecki Matsuyama Hopes 'Many More Will Follow'


Shooting a 1-over 73 in the final round to win by one stroke, Matsuyama is the first player from Japan to earn a Green Jacket, as well as the first to claim any major championship.

Afterwards Matsuyama acknowledged his "pioneer" role and hopes "many more will follow."

He said, "It's thrilling to think there are a lot of youngsters in Japan watching today. Hopefully, in five, 10 years, when they get a little older, some of them will be competing on the world stage."

The Japanese star began the day with a 4-shot lead after firing a 65 in a third round disrupted by a weather delay. But he only hit five fairways on Saturday, according to the CBS broadcast team.

How would Matsuyama and his game hold up under final-round pressure? And who among the pack of chasers would exert additional pressure on the Asian golfer trying to make history?

Except for a shaky tee shot and a bogey at the first, Matsuyama was in control most of the way. Xander Schauffele made a run on the final nine to pull within two shots. Then he rinsed his tee shot in the pond at 16 and recorded a triple bogey. (I imagine that's nightmare material for many days to come.)

Matsuyama had just enough cushion to finish it off.

As I told a new viewer (he said "golf can be quite entertaining") in a text:

"Yes, the Masters usually delivers plenty of drama. There were some messes on the final nine, not one of the best, most-watchable Masters. But I'm glad Matsuyama hung on. It's good on many levels."

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