Friday, January 29

RARE VIDEO: Masked Orville Moody Putting Cross-Handed

I SAW THIS ON TWITTER and had to share it. 1969 U.S. Open champion Orville Moody was a great ball striker, a terrible putter and a great character.

WARNING: It may be uncomfortable to watch Orville putt!

As David Poulton said above, "Plenty going on here." Actually, that caption fits Sarge's entire career.

Wednesday, January 27

USGA Announces Local Qualifying Sites for 121st U.S. Open Championship

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LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. – The United States Golf Association (USGA) has announced local qualifying sites for the 121st U.S. Open Championship. The U.S. Open will be contested at Torrey Pines Golf Course (South Course), in San Diego, Calif., for the second time from June 17-20, 2021. Local qualifying, conducted over 18 holes at 109 sites in 43 U.S. states and Canada, will take place between April 26-May 18.

"Professional and amateur golfers worldwide have a pathway to emerge from the thousands who will attempt to earn a place in this year's U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course by competing in this two-stage qualifying process that was established in 1959," said John Bodenhamer, USGA senior managing director, Championships. "Allied Golf Associations and Golf Canada, with the cooperation of the USGA's five regional offices, are joined in this collaborative effort for both stages. We appreciate their diligence in overcoming the challenging times we confront each day."

In 2020, U.S. Open qualifying was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to an all-exempt field at Winged Foot Golf Club. The USGA accepted 9,125 entries for the 2019 championship at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links. The record of 10,127 entries was established for the 2014 championship on Pinehurst Resort & Country Club's Course No. 2, in the Village of Pinehurst, N.C.

Those players who advance out of local qualifying will join a group of locally exempt players in final qualifying, which will be conducted over 36 holes. Dates and courses will be announced in February.

2021 U.S. Open Championship Local Qualifying Sites (109)

Monday, April 26 (1)
Fox Den C.C., Knoxville, Tenn.

Tuesday, April 27 (3)
Hoakalei C.C., Ewa Beach, Hawaii
Huntington Crescent Club, Huntington, N.Y.
Duke University G.C., Durham, N.C.

Wednesday, April 28 (1)
Waterlefe Golf & River Club, Bradenton, Fla.

Thursday, April 29 (7)
Mission Inn R. & C. (El Campeon Course), Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla.
Mayacoo Lakes C.C., West Palm Beach, Fla.
Oakbourne C.C., Lafayette, La.
Columbia C.C. (Ridgewood/Tall Pines Courses), Blythewood, S.C.
Jackson (Tenn.) C.C.
Amarillo (Texas) C.C.
The Pines C.C., Morgantown, W.Va.

Saturday, May 1 (1)
The King Kamehameha G.C., Wailuku, Hawaii

Monday, May 3 (16)
El Niguel C.C., Laguna Niguel, Calif.
Indian Ridge C.C. (Grove Course), Palm Desert, Calif.
Patterson Club, Fairfield, Conn.
Plantation Bay G. & C.C. (Club de Bonmont Course), Ormond Beach, Fla.
Marietta C.C., Kennesaw, Ga.
Cog Hill G. & C.C. (Dubsdread Course), Lemont, Ill.
The C.C. of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Ind.
Beaver Hills C.C., Cedar Falls, Iowa
Eastward Ho! C.C., Chatham, Mass.
Muskegon (Mich.) C.C.
North Shore C.C., Glen Head, N.Y.
Oak Tree C.C. (East Course), Edmond, Okla.
The C.C. of Sioux Falls, Sioux Falls, S.D.
Escondido Golf & Lake Club, Horseshoe Bay, Texas
Alpine C.C., Highland, Utah
Gold Mountain G.C. (Olympic Course), Bremerton, Wash.

Tuesday, May 4 (12)
Hot Springs C.C. (Arlington Course), Hot Springs, Ark.
El Macero (Calif.) C.C.
Andalusia C.C., La Quinta, Calif.
The Club at Ruby Hill, Pleasanton, Calif.
Collindale G.C., Fort Collins, Colo.
Cherry Blossom G.C., Georgetown, Ky.
Northwest G.C., Silver Spring, Md.
Legends Club, Prior Lake, Minn.
Green Brook C.C., North Caldwell, N.J.
New Mexico State University G.C., Las Cruces, N.M.
Beechmont C.C., Cleveland, Ohio
Whitestone G.C., Benbrook, Texas

Wednesday, May 5 (5)
Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Silver Lakes (Backbreaker/Heartbreaker Courses), Glencoe, Ala.
The Preserve G.C., Carmel, Calif.
Arroyo Trabuco G.C., Mission Viejo, Calif.
Orange Tree G.C., Orlando, Fla.
Butler (Pa.) C.C.

Thursday, May 6 (11)
Sewailo G.C., Tucson, Ariz.
Bermuda Dunes (Calif.) C.C. (Classic Course)
La Purisima G.C., Lompoc, Calif.
Classic Club, Palm Desert, Calif.
Hobe Sound (Fla.) C.C.
Bear's Paw C.C., Naples, Fla.
Bay Point G.C. (Nicklaus Course), Panama City Beach, Fla.
Buckhorn Springs G. & C.C., Valrico, Fla.
Hillendale C.C., Phoenix, Md.
River Landing G.C. (River Course), Wallace, N.C.
The Federal Club, Glen Allen, Va.

Sunday, May 9 (1)
Palmer (Alaska) G.C.

Monday, May 10 (25)
Phoenix (Ariz.) C.C.
Dragonfly G.C., Madera, Calif.
Peach Tree G. & C.C., Marysville, Calif.
Walnut Creek Golf Preserve, Westminster, Colo.
Shuttle Meadow C.C., Berlin, Conn.
Shingle Creek G.C., Orlando, Fla.
The Plantation at Ponte Vedra Beach, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
The Club at Weston Hills (Tour Course), Weston, Fla.
Cantigny G.C., Wheaton, Ill.
South Bend (Ind.) C.C.
Barton Hills C.C., Ann Arbor, Mich.
Medina (Minn.) G. & C.C.
Spencer T. Olin G.C., Alton, Mo.
The G.C. at Creekmoor, Raymore, Mo.
Beatrice (Neb.) C.C.
Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, Stateline, Nev.
UNM Championship G.C., Albuquerque, N.M.
Whippoorwill Club, Armonk, N.Y.
Mohawk G.C., Schenectady, N.Y.
Ravenwood G.C., Victor, N.Y.
Willamette Valley C.C., Canby, Ore.
Indian Valley C.C., Telford, Pa.
Long Cove Club, Hilton Head Island, S.C.
The Club at Comanche Trace (Valley/Hills Courses), Kerrville, Texas
Gamble Sands, Brewster, Wash.

Tuesday, May 11 (4)
Ironwood C.C. (South Course), Palm Desert, Calif.
Ledgemont C.C., Seekonk, Mass.
Missoula (Mont.) C.C.
The Bridges G.C., Gunter, Texas

Wednesday, May 12 (5)
Ak-Chin Southern Dunes G.C., Maricopa, Ariz.
Wichita (Kan.) C.C.
The Steel Club, Hellertown, Pa.
Hidden Glen C.C., Cedarburg, Wis.
Riverton (Wyo.) C.C.

Thursday, May 13 (4)
The Grand G.C., San Diego, Calif.
CommonGround G.C., Aurora, Colo.
RedHawk G.C., Nampa, Idaho
C.C. of York, York, Pa.

Monday, May 17 (12)
The C.C. at DC Ranch, Scottsdale, Ariz.
The C.C. of Winter Haven (Fla.)
Callaway Resort & Gardens (Mountainview Course), Pine Mountain, Ga.
Illini C.C., Springfield, Ill.
Crumpin-Fox Club, Bernardston, Mass.
Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort (Sun Course), Las Vegas, Nev.
Pinewild C.C. (Magnolia Course), Pinehurst, N.C.
Maketewah C.C., Cincinnati, Ohio
Catawba Island Club, Port Clinton, Ohio
Kinsale G. & F.C., Powell, Ohio
Elmhurst C.C., Moscow, Pa.
Lakeside C.C., Houston, Texas

Tuesday, May 18 (1)
TPC Toronto at Osprey Valley (Heathlands Course), Caledon, Ontario, Canada

Monday, January 25

PGA TOUR VIDEO: Si Woo Kim Wins in the Desert After a Bad Night's Sleep

SI WOO KIM SHOT AN 8-UNDER 64 in the final round to win The American Express by a stroke over Patrick Cantlay (61). Kim's winning total of 23 under was good for his third victory on the PGA Tour.

The South Korean earned the trophy despite a rough Saturday night.

"So every year I had a chance to win," Kim said, "but I couldn't make it, so I had a lot of thoughts in my mind last night.

"I tried to sleep but I couldn't sleep, so I even took melatonin last night, but still I didn't sleep very well."

The American Express in La Quinta was the first event on the U.S. mainland after the tour opened the calendar year with two tournaments in Hawaii.

This year's event had a new look with will only two courses being used and amateurs staying home. The field included defending champion Andrew Landry, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Patrick Cantlay, Matthew Wolff, Sungjae Im and tournament host Phil Mickelson. 

In total, 13 players ranked in the top 50 teed it up in the desert.

Next up is the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California.

Thursday, January 21

Tiger Woods After 5th Back Surgery: 2021 Schedule and More Are Big Question Marks

THE YEAR 2021 LOOKS UNCERTAIN for the competitive career of Tiger Woods, who recently turned 45. A fifth back surgery has put golf on the shelf for now. Tiger's return will depend on another recovery and training period of unknown duration.

Tiger took advantage of the time he bought from 2018-20 by winning three times (including the Masters!). He ascended the mountain again, and now the cost of that surgery is starting to creep back in. The cost was already high as rehabilitation and physical therapy were no doubt incredibly painful, but the future cost was unknown ... until now.

And while the nature of this most recent surgery seems relatively minor compared to the spinal fusion, questions remain. One, when will he return, and what kind of shape will he be in when he does given that he'll be 46 this calendar year? Two, his game was already pretty mediocre in 2020 with (apparently) decent health, so where will it be at after this? Three, how many more surgeries will there be in the future?

As in the past with Tiger Woods, there are far more questions than answers.

Tuesday, January 19

Golf Channel VIDEO: Annika Sorenstam Explains Accepting Presidential Medal of Freedom After 'Dark Day in American History'


HALL OF FAMER ANNIKA SORENSTAM HAS SURFACED after receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Trump the day after the U.S. Capitol was attacked and occupied, leaving five people dead.

Sorenstam, the new International Golf Federation President, talked to Golf Channel's Steve Burkowski. Here's an excerpt:

Asked about the timing of the event in the wake of the deadly attack, and with Trump on the verge of getting impeached for a second time because of his instigation, Sorenstam said, "Well, I'm not one to second-guess. It was supposed to be in March 2020, and looking back at it, it's just really about the people who have received it through history. I don't want to spend any energy looking back, I like to spend energy looking forward, continue to open doors, create opportunities for the young girls around the world."

If golfers qualify for the award -- and apparently they do if recent history is any indication -- then Sorenstam is certainly deserving. That's not at issue. Nor are politics. This doesn't have to be about whether one supports or doesn't support President Trump.

The fact is January 6 was truly a "dark day in American history" (her words), one that won't be forgotten. There's no diminishing the tragic reality that the seat of U.S. government came under attack.

To use a golf analogy, accepting a medal in a private White House ceremony the next day was a really bad read by Annika. The same goes for Gary Player.

It was awful timing. Especially for Sorenstam as a new international leader in golf.

Whatever Sorenstam says for public consumption, I hope she actually does second-guess herself. That's what good leaders do. They acknowledge mistakes and errors in judgment. It helps them get better and inspires more confidence in those they lead.

Monday, January 18

PGA TOUR VIDEO: Kevin 'Aggressive Coming Down the Stretch' Na Wins Sony Open in Hawaii

KEVIN NA FIRED A CLOSING 65 to win the 2021 Sony Open in Hawaii by a shot over Chris Kirk and Joaquin Niemann. Na birdied three holes in a row beginning on 13 and also birdied 18 to finish 21 under for the tournament. It was his fifth victory on the PGA Tour.

"I was playing maybe a little bit more aggressive coming down the stretch," Na said, "not worrying so much about second or third, more focused on just that -- winning."

Na is now ranked No. 23 in the world. It's the fourth consecutive season he's won on tour.

The Sony Open in Hawaii was the first full-field event of the calendar year. Defending champion Cameron Smith returned to Oahu and major champion Collin Morikawa and 10 of the top-25 golfers in the world also teed it up at Waialae Country Club.

The next stop is The American Express at the PGA West Stadium Course in La Quinta, California.

Friday, January 15

Steve Marantz's Championship Stories Podcast: The 1955 U.S. Open (Jack Fleck vs. Ben Hogan)

I WAS PLEASED TO RECEIVE an email earlier this week from Steve Marantz, who covered the 1955 U.S. Open recently in Episode 17 of his Championship Stories podcast. (In Steve's words, it's a podcast about "famous, infamous and almost famous champions and their moments in history.")

Episodes cover baseball, hockey and basketball, plus three on golf, including the latest one telling the story of Jack Fleck's titanic upset of Ben Hogan at the Olympic Club in June 1955.

"I couldn't resist an episode about Jack Fleck," Steve said in his email. He used my book THE LONGEST SHOT as a primary source.

You can listen above. It's relatively short.

Journalist Steve Marantz is a former researcher/producer for ESPN and an author of four sports books, including his 2019 title, CITIZEN AKOY: Basketball and the Making of a South Sudanese American. He also writes for the Boston Globe.

Tuesday, January 12

The R&A Statement on Trump Turnberry: 'No Plans to Stage Any of Our Championships at Turnberry' for 'Foreseeable Future'

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YESTERDAY'S R&A STATEMENT was brief and blunt:

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A:

"We had no plans to stage any of our championships at Turnberry and will not do so in the foreseeable future. We will not return until we are convinced that the focus will be on the championship, the players and the course itself and we do not believe that is achievable in the current circumstances."

Trump acquired the famous Scottish links and resort in 2014.

Turnberry hasn't hosted the Open Championship since 2009. That was when Stewart Cink defeated sentimental favorite Tom Watson in a playoff.

Monday, January 11

PGA of America Statement (VIDEO): Board of Directors Vote to Move 2022 PGA Championship From Trump National Golf Club Bedminster

ON SUNDAY THE PGA OF AMERICA distanced itself from President Donald Trump.

In the above video, PGA of America President Jim Richerson said:

"It has become clear that conducting the PGA Championship at Trump Bedminster would be detrimental to the PGA of America brand and would put at risk the PGA of America's ability to deliver our many programs and sustain the longevity of our mission. Our board has thus made the decision to exercise our right to terminate the contract to hold the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump Bedminster. It was a decision made to ensure the PGA of America and the PGA professionals can continue to lead and grow our great game for decades to come."

"We have had a beautiful partnership with the PGA of America and are incredibly disappointed with their decision. This is a breach of a binding contract and they have no right to terminate the agreement. As an organization we have invested many, many millions of dollars in the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump National Golf Club, Bedminster. We will continue to promote the game of golf on every level and remain focused on operating the finest golf courses anywhere in the world."

PGA TOUR VIDEO: Harris English Wins Sentry Tournament of Champions in Playoff: 'I've Gotten Out of My Valley'

HARRIS ENGLISH WON THE 2021 Sentry Tournament of Champions in a sudden-death playoff in beautiful and breezy Maui. English birdied the first playoff hole to defeat Joaquin Niemann after the two players finished at 25 under par.

English shot rounds of 65, 67, 66 and 69 at the Plantation Course at Kapalua. He was emotional about his third PGA Tour victory.

"It feels amazing," English said. "All the hard work that has gone into this, all the highs and lows of golf that it brings over a career and I feel like I've gotten out of my valley and getting back to the tournaments and some of the quality of golf that I know I can play."

This edition of the Sentry Tournament of Champions featured a different field. Because of the reduced number of events in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all qualifiers for the 2020 TOUR Championship were eligible to play in Hawaii.

Friday, January 8

LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan on 2021 Departure: 'Enormous Pride and Satisfaction at What We've Accomplished'

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Jan. 6, 2021 – After completing his 11th year as LPGA Commissioner, Mike Whan has notified the LPGA Board of Directors that he has made the difficult decision to transition out of the LPGA in 2021. While no firm date has been set for his departure, this announcement begins the start of a thorough and thoughtful Commissioner succession process.

Whan shared his decision today with LPGA staff, Members and sponsors in the attached letter, including the following messages:

"When I first joined the LPGA, I told the Board it would be a four-year term, giving me time to help the organization achieve its immediate goals. Now, as the longest-serving LPGA Commissioner, I look back on these 11 years with enormous pride and satisfaction at what we've accomplished together to provide opportunities for women to achieve their dreams in golf.

"You may be wondering why I've made the decision to step down – and why now? In many ways, this past year – with all the pandemic challenges – was also the LPGA's most triumphant. We are entering 2021 on a wave of momentum – a strong schedule with record purses, new events/sponsors, double-digit viewership growth, and a talented team that demonstrated exceptional skill, resilience and capability to lead through challenging times."

Thursday, January 7

NPR: 'Resignations, Golfers and (Twitter) Radio Silence'

WHAT A SURREAL DAY TO PICK UP a Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House. Hall of Fame golfers Annika Sorenstam and Gary Player are reportedly both supporters of President Trump. Babe Didrickson Zaharias, the other recipient, died in 1956.

The nation — and world — continued to reel, looking for answers after an angry and violent pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Wednesday....

Meanwhile, at the White House, the president prepared to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the nation's highest civilian honor – to three professional golfers: Annika Sorenstam, Gary Player and the late Babe Zaharias.

It's the kind of event that Trump, in normal times, would invite White House reporters to witness. But there was no expectation that would happen on Thursday.

Instead, there were rumblings of staff resignations, with more potentially on the way.

Gary Player's Twitter account is currently silent regarding the medal ceremony. The ANNIKA Foundation tweeted yesterday.

Friday, January 1

Lee Westwood 'Bucks Trend Towards Youth' in Remarkable 2020 Season

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IN A SPORTS YEAR DOMINATED by a devastating global pandemic, it would be easy to overlook what Lee Westwood accomplished. The 47-year-old European Tour veteran won the Race to Dubai in early December.

Then a cherry on top: Westwood was named European Tour Golfer of the Year for the fourth time. (His last time was 2009.)

When Westwood stuck his tee in the ground at the season finale, the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, it was start No. 567 on the European Tour. When he finished four days later, he was the winner of the tour's annual points race.

"I had no expectations," Westwood was quoted as saying. "I had hit balls for about 45 minutes, maximum, at any one period of time for the previous two and a half weeks."

It took pluck, perseverance and talent for the [European Tour] to stage a genuinely worthwhile schedule in this Covid-ruined year. Those same qualities can be attributed to Westwood, the player who emerged top of the pile last Sunday.

His longevity and continued excellence in a sport that grows ever more youthful is quite staggering. The average age of a top 50 player is just under 33, more than 14 years younger than the Worksop-born veteran, whose world ranking matched his age last week.

Age is just a number. And the golf ball certainly doesn't care.

Westwood said, "[I] must admit it is nice to beat kids who weren't born when I won my first tournament."

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