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







By USGA

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'


HIDECKI MATSUYAMA IS THE NEW MASTERS CHAMPION.

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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Thursday, April 8

VIDEO: Lee Elder Joins Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player as an Honorary Starter at the 2021 Masters

Wednesday, April 7

Associated Press: Tiger Woods Was Going Nearly 90 MPH; Excessive Speed Caused Crash, According to LA County Sheriff

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TIGER WOODS WAS GOING TOO FAST "on a downhill stretch of road." It was the reason Tiger left his side of the road in the borrowed SUV, crossed two lanes of oncoming traffic and uprooted a tree.


[LA County] Sheriff Alex Villanueva blamed the Feb. 23 crash solely on excessive speed and Woods' loss of control behind the wheel.

"The primary causal factor for this traffic collision was driving at a speed unsafe for the road conditions and the inability to negotiate the curve of the roadway," the sheriff told a news conference.

Woods was driving 84 to 87 mph (135 to 140 kph) in an area that had a speed limit of 45 mph (72 kph), Villanueva said.

Tiger will not be cited. The sheriff's department also said Tiger told deputies he had not had any medications or alcohol before the crash. He was wearing a seat belt.

Tiger issued the following statement on Twitter.

How to Watch the 2021 Masters: TV and Streaming Details and Schedule


ESPN and CBS will offer 18 hours of live broadcast coverage on Thursday, April 8 through Sunday, April 11. The tournament will also be simulcast at Masters.com and on the official Masters app.

All times Eastern Time. 

Tune in on ESPN and CBS TV:
Broadcast:
Wednesday, April 7: Noon - 2 p.m., Wednesday at the Masters on ESPN
Thursday, April 8: 3-7:30 p.m., ESPN
Friday, April 9: 3-7:30 p.m., ESPN
Saturday, April 10: 3-7 p.m., CBS
Sunday, April 11: 2-7 p.m., CBS

Stream at Masters.com / Masters App:
Simulcast:
Thursday, April 8: 3-7:30 p.m.
Friday, April 9: 3-7:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 10: 3-7 p.m.
Sunday, April 11: 2-7 p.m.

A Daughter's Memories of the Masters

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By Elizabeth Short

GROWING UP IN THE SAGEBIEL HOUSEHOLD, if it was a Sunday, dad reserved the TV exclusively for golf.

I remember spending a lot of afternoons stretched out on the couch in front of the TV (not a flatscreen like all the other families had, by the way) half-heartedly watching Ernie Els or Bubba Watson or whoever it was putt their way toward victory. Sometimes I took our family's favorite threadbare knit blanket and watched the screen through its holes to make things more interesting.

Now, if it was a majors weekend, the TV reservation may extend to Saturday. On the one hand this was unfortunate for me as an adolescent girl who was more interested in the Disney Channel. But on the other hand, the gravity of such an event wasn't lost on me. I paid more attention and even became invested in the outcome of the tournament.

This was especially true of the Masters. When I started reflecting on the Masters, I did a Google search to make sure it was the one that's "a tradition unlike any other."

But it was a tradition unlike any other.

If the Masters was on, we had to get home from church early instead of the lingering for what felt like an eternity while my parents caught up with other families.

If dinnertime rolled around and the tournament was still going, we got to leave it on while we ate.

Dad became completely absorbed, which was a rarity. If you know him, then you know he's not the type to become engrossed in TV.

These mini traditions happened around me like clockwork every year, and as a result when Masters weekend rolled around it made me sit up a little straighter on the edge of my seat to see who would pull out a win.

In my mind's eye I can still see Tiger Woods, dressed in what looks like a salmon-colored shirt (but I know it's Sunday red, I'm not that clueless about golf), placing the coveted Green Jacket on Phil Mickelson's shoulders in 2006.

I remember dad telling me Mickelson was always struggling to win majors. A quick look at some stats tells me he did not continue having that problem, unless winning five majors is considered bad. But it introduced me to one of my favorite well-established traditions of sports in general: rooting for the underdog.

Whether or not I will tune in to the Masters this year remains to be seen. "The tradition unlike any other" doesn't have anything to do with the tournament itself as far as I'm concerned. For me, it's the simple act of watching TV on a Sunday afternoon with my dad.

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

Thursday, April 1

LA County Officials Won't Reveal Cause of Tiger Woods Car Crash

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THE INVESTIGATION IS OVER. The cause of the Tiger Woods car crash is known by authorities.

But will the public ever know?


LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles County sheriff said detectives have determined what caused Tiger Woods to crash his SUV last month in Southern California but declined Wednesday to release details, citing unspecified privacy concerns for the golf star....

Sheriff Alex Villanueva has been criticized for his comments about the crash, calling it “purely an accident” and saying there was no evidence of impairment. Woods told deputies he did not know how the crash occurred and didn’t remember driving.

NBC SPORTS: How to Watch the Augusta National Women's Amateur

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By NBC Sports

STAMFORD, Conn. – NBC Sports presents 10 consecutive days of live coverage from Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., beginning this weekend with the Augusta National Women's Amateur (Noon ET, Saturday on NBC), the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals (8 a.m. ET, Sunday on GOLF Channel) and Live From the Masters (April 5-11 on GOLF Channel).

NBC Sports' coverage of the Augusta National Women's Amateur begins this Friday, April 2, with Live From at 10 a.m. ET on GOLF Channel. The second edition of the Augusta National Women's Amateur returns after the event was canceled due to the global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The top 30 players following Thursday's second round will advance to the final round on Saturday at Augusta National Golf Club, with pre-game coverage on GOLF Channel at 10 a.m. ET leading into the final round on NBC at noon ET.

AUGUSTA NATIONAL WOMEN'S AMATEUR 

NBC Broadcast Team 
Play by Play: Mike Tirico
Analyst: Paige Mackenzie / Trevor Immelman
Tower: Kay Cockerill
On-Course: Jim “Bones” Mackay
Interviews: Steve Sands
Reporter: Steve Burkowski

How To Watch
Saturday, April 3 (all times ET) 
TV – NBC
Streaming – NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app

Saturday, April 3 Noon-3 p.m.