Monday, August 22

Remembering Tom Weiskopf: How Did That Final Putt at the 1975 Masters Miss? And More

I WILL REMEMBER TOM WEISKOPF like many others: supremely talented with a beautiful golf swing. A nearly great PGA Tour player and Open champion also seen as an underachiever.

Back in the 1970s it was unusual to see a man of Weiskopf's size (6 foot 3 inches) exhibit such an impressive combination of power and grace. In my memory, there was no one quite like him (tall, smooth and strong) until Ernie Els came along.

Weiskopf struggled with his temperament and putting. I remember the moniker "Terrible Tom."

As a teen, I liked Tom Weiskopf, although not as much as Johnny Miller. One of the best tournaments I ever watched on TV was the 1975 Masters, a duel between Weiskopf, Miller and Jack Nicklaus. I still have a hard time believing that Weiskopf's birdie putt at the last hole to tie Nicklaus burned the right edge. It still seems as if it should have broken slightly left and dropped into the cup.

But the golf gods apparently disagreed.

Weiskopf had a grumpy public persona, but, from what I've read, players and others who knew him liked or loved him. I'm sure I would have enjoyed his company, although I never had a chance or a reason to interview him.

Tony Jacklin, who I did get to know while writing my 1969 Ryder Cup book, was treated as a friend and practice partner by Weiskopf when Jacklin joined the PGA Tour in the late 1960s. It was a different time, when "foreign" players like Jacklin were not welcomed on the tour, as Frank Beard and others told me. But Weiskopf was not like the others.

As I wrote in Draw in the Dunes, "Jacklin became friends with U.S. players Tom Weiskopf and Bert Yancey, and the three young pros put in long hours working on their games. 'We were all trying to become better players,' [Jacklin said]. 'It started to pay off for me.'"

Finally, here's what Jacklin said the other day after Weiskopf passed away.

Monday, July 18

2022 Open Championship: Cameron Smith Races Past Rory McIlroy to Seize the Claret Jug

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CAMERON SMITH IS THE CHAMPION GOLFER OF THE YEAR, as they like to say at the Open Championship. Rory McIlroy, the 54-hole co-leader with Viktor Hovland, finished third. It's another in a long string of major disappointments for McIlroy, who was the clear fan and media favorite.

But what can you do when you play a smart, controlled final round of 70 (you finally get that part right) and still lose?

The only thing Rory is guilty of is not quite shooting low enough. In the 150 years of the Open Championship, 18 under puts your name on the Claret Jug on all but a few occasions, like yesterday.

Starting the final round with at least a four-shot lead on everyone except 54-hole co-leader Hovland, Rory needed a 67 and a record score of 21 under to win at St. Andrews yesterday. That's a big ask. I think he could do it. It's probably in him. But he didn't.

Instead -- and this is the story -- Mr. Smith of Australia played one of the greatest final rounds in majors history. Cam shot an 8-under 64, including a 30 on the final nine. His finish featured a nerveless up and down on the Road Hole for a par and a brilliant little birdie at the last to seal his first major victory by a stroke at the Home of Golf.

(That other Cameron named Young also came within an eyelash of golf immortality, posting a 65 alongside the winner that included an eagle 2 at the last hole, to finish runner-up.)

To use a track analogy, Rory McIlroy ran a very good race. But Cameron Smith finished like Usain Bolt. No one could have beaten the Aussie yesterday without stealing his putter.

Friday, July 15

Tiger Woods at St. Andrews: 'It Felt Like This Might Have Been My Last British Open Here'

THE RECORD WILL SHOW THAT TIGER WOODS missed the cut at the 150th Open Championship played at the Old Course in St. Andrews, the Home of Golf. His rounds of 78 and 75 put him near the bottom of the field, a humbling early finish for the three-time Open champion, two of them coming at St. Andrews.

But even for Tiger, the fierce competitor who expects so much of himself, this week was about more than the state of his golf game. He said as much.

"I have nothing, nothing planned," Tiger said after the walk up 18. "Zero. Maybe something next year. I don't know. But nothing in the near future. This is it. I was just hoping to play this one event this year."

I was just hoping to play this one event ... 

Tiger also commented, "It's hard just to walk and play 18 holes. People have no idea what I have to go through and the hours of the work on the body, pre and post, each and every single day to do what I just did. That's what people don’t understand."

Like other great champions before him, Tiger basked in the glow of the warm reception as he finished another loop at the Old Course, perhaps his last. 

"It's very emotional for me. I've been coming here since 1995, and I don't know when—I think the next one [here] comes around in what, 2030—and I don't know if I will be physically able to play by then. So to me it felt like this might have been my last British Open here at St. Andrews. And the fans, the ovation and the warmth, it was an unbelievable feeling.

"I understand what Jack and Arnold had gone through in the past. I was kind of feeling that way there at the end. And just the collective warmth and understanding. They understand what golf's all about and what it takes to be an Open champion. And I've been lucky enough and fortunate enough to have won this twice here. And it felt very emotional, just because I just don't know what my health is going to be like. And I feel like I will be able to play future British Opens, but I don’t know if I'll be able to play that long enough that when it comes back around here, will I still be playing?"

Wednesday, July 13

2022 Open Championship: Full Broadcast Schedule

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Following is broadcast information for the 2022 Open Championship, as provided by NBC Sports in a press release.

NBC Sports surrounds the 150th Open Championship at The Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland with comprehensive live coverage across NBC, USA Network and Peacock beginning Thursday, July 14 through Sunday, July 17.

In total, NBC Sports will present nearly 50 hours of live championship coverage Thursday-Sunday – and well over 100 hours of live coverage from St. Andrews including featured groups and featured holes.

Broadcast Team
Host: Mike Tirico
Play by Play: Dan Hicks / Mike Tirico / Terry Gannon
Analyst: Paul Azinger / Justin Leonard / Nick Faldo
Tower: David Feherty / Gary Koch / Peter Jacobsen / Steve Sands / Curt Byrum / Tom Abbott
On-Course: Notah Begay III / John Wood / Mark Rolfing / Karen Stupples
Essays: Jimmy Roberts
Interviews: Kathryn Tappen / Cara Banks / Todd Lewis

How To Watch – Thursday, July 14 – Sunday, July 17 (all times ET)
TV – NBC, USA Network
Streaming – Peacock, and the NBC Sports app
DatePeacockUSA NetworkNBC/Peacock
Thursday, July 14*1:30-4 a.m./3-4 p.m.4 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Friday, July 15*1:30-4 a.m./3-4 p.m.4 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Saturday, July 165-7 a.m.7 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Sunday, July 174-7 a.m.7 a.m. – 2 p.m.
*coverage will begin shortly before the first scheduled tee time at 1:30 a.m. ET 

Thursday, June 30

WGA News: Madelyn 'Moochie' Taylor Inducted Into Caddie Hall of Fame

"Moochie is a trailblazer and embodies the gold standard of hard work and professionalism. From personifying the values she learned as a caddie to showing young women everywhere how far the game of golf can take you in life -- and now as the first female African American inducted into the Caddie Hall of Fame -- she is a true inspiration to us all."
Jeff Harrison, WGA senior vice president

WASHINGTON, DC – Madelyn "Moochie" Turner was inducted into the Caddie Hall of Fame on Monday, June 27, in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the game of golf and society through caddying -- and using caddying as a steppingstone to professional success.

Moochie Turner (center), flanked by young caddies.
She is the first female African American to be inducted into the Caddie Hall of Fame (CHOF), which 
highlights the tradition and importance of caddying by celebrating individuals who have devoted their lives to the game of golf through caddying or by supporting the role of caddies, and those who have used their experience as a youth caddie for future professional success.

Past CHOF inductees include Jim Dent, Charles "Chick" Evans, Joe LaCava, Carl Jackson, Jack Nicklaus, Frances Ouimet, Charles Schwab, Peter Ueberroth, Tom Watson and Steve Williams.

Established in 1999 by the Professional Caddies Association, the Caddie Hall of Fame has been administered by the Western Golf Association since 2011. Turner was inducted during a reception at the Renee Powell Clearview Legacy Benefit at East Potomac Golf Course in Washington, D.C. The event included an LPGA pro meet and greet, presentations from the Mayor's Office and National Links Trust, as well as a diversity in golf panel. WGA leaders were on site at the event to present Turner her CHOF plaque.

A Lifetime in Golf

Since she was 7 years old, Moochie Turner has been involved in golf. She notably caddied as a youth for her mother, Vernice Turner, during the late 1950s and early 1960s, because it was difficult to find anyone who would carry a bag for a Black female golfer.

Together, they won numerous United Golfers Association (UGA) Championships around the country with Turner on the bag. They were inducted into the National Black Golf Hall of Fame in 2021 as the only mother-daughter duo to win a UGA Championship in the same year -- Turner won the girls' junior division, then later in the week caddied for her mother, who won the women's division.

Turner caddied for her mother until she went to college, then went on to have a distinguished 34-year career in the FBI as a physical instructor teaching self-defense tactics. Now retired, she spends her summers in East Canton, Ohio, at the historic Clearview Golf Club, helping give instruction to youth, women and veterans.

"Caddying was one of my greatest experiences.
I learned about honesty, sportsmanship, loyalty
and how to play the game.
I hope more females start to caddie
because of all the opportunities it offers."
Moochie Turner

In a letter nominating her friend Moochie for induction into the Caddie Hall of Fame, Renee Powell wrote: "Certainly, her induction will serve as a beacon of light for those who maybe did not realize that golf is for everyone and how being introduced to it through caddying can open many doors."

A special presentation also was made as part of the induction, with WGA leaders introducing Moochie Turner to four young female caddies who are working at Langston Golf Course this summer. The WGA and National Links Trust are overseeing a youth caddie program for underserved students who hope to one day earn a college scholarship.

"These young women will be able to follow in Moochie's footsteps and learn the game of golf through caddying," WGA senior vice president Jeff Harrison said. "This is the future of the game -- and it wouldn't have been possible without the path that Moochie created."

Tuesday, June 21

VIDEO: Conor Moore Takes Comedic Aim at LIV Golf and Its New Players

Monday, June 20

U.S. Open Champion Matt Fitzpatrick: 'The Feeling's Out of This World'

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If you watched on Sunday, then you probably agree that it was a great finish to the U.S. Open at The Country Club. Three young players battled down the stretch -- only one of them a major winner -- all hitting terrific shots under U.S. Open pressure and all having a chance to the end. Following is a portion of the USGA recap of the final round, provided to media via email.

MATT FITZPATRICK IS A CHAMPION once again at The Country Club.

The 27-year-old Englishman who triumphed nine years ago at this iconic venue when he claimed the U.S. Amateur, became just the 13th man and the first non-American to also add the U.S. Open Championship to his portfolio.

In winning the 122nd edition of the championship on a chilly New England Sunday by one stroke over past U.S. Junior Amateur champions Will Zalatoris and Scottie Scheffler, Fitzpatrick joined World Golf Hall of Famer and 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus as the only golfers to have won the USGA's two oldest championships at the same venue. Nicklaus accomplished his feat at Pebble Beach Golf Links in 1961 and 1972.

Now 50 years later, Fitzpatrick put himself in rarified company.

"The feeling's out of this world," said Fitzpatrick, who carded a final-round 68 for a 6-under total of 274. "It is so cliche, but it's stuff you dream of as a kid. I can retire a happy man tomorrow.

"Any time you're sharing a record with Jack Nicklaus, it's unbelievable. So for me to have that as well is incredible. He called me up down there just at the presentation to congratulate me. Coming from someone like that, it means the world."

Fitzpatrick put on a ball-striking clinic on Sunday, hitting 17 of 18 greens. The only miss was on the 503-yard 10th, a hole the members play as a par 5 that was statistically the championship's toughest (4.39). Trailing Zalatoris by one, Fitzpatrick's fortunes changed at the par-4 13th when he converted a 49-footer for birdie.

When Fitzpatrick won the 2013 U.S. Amateur title at this venerable venue – one of the five founding clubs of the USGA – he closed out Oliver Goss of Australia on the 15th hole, and he essentially won the U.S. Open on the same hole, making a 19-foot birdie after reaching the green with a 220-yard 5-iron from a spot in the right rough where spectators had matted the turf down.

"It was one of the best shots I hit all day," he said. "To do that and take advantage of the break I had was fantastic."

Zalatoris, whose tee shot on No. 15 landed in thick rough, failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker. That gave Fitzpatrick a two-stroke cushion with three to play, and the cool customer from Sheffield closed with three consecutive pars. On the par-4 18th, a hole he bogeyed on Saturday, Fitzpatrick reached the putting surface from a left fairway bunker, a play some thought was risky.

Zalatoris had one final chance to force a two-hole aggregate playoff, but his 15-foot putt on the 18th green burned the left edge of the hole. It was his second consecutive runner-up finish in a major, having lost a three-hole aggregate playoff to Justin Thomas at last month's PGA Championship.

"Matt's shot on 18 is going to be shown probably for the rest of U.S. Open history," said Zalatoris. "I walked by it, and I thought that going for [the green] was going to be [gutsy], but the fact that he pulled it off and even had a birdie look was just incredible. So hats off to him. He played great all week."

Once the championship was secured, Fitzpatrick first celebrated with his caddie, Billy Foster, and then his parents and younger brother, Alex, who was his caddie here nine years ago. Alex just completed his eligibility at Wake Forest, where Zalatoris played on an Arnold Palmer Scholarship. Fitzpatrick also was embraced by TCC member Will Fulton, with whom he stayed nine years ago and again this week. Fulton was the club’s general chairman for the U.S. Open.

Good karma?

"I love playing this golf course," said Fitzpatrick. "It suits me so well. It suits my game well. I've been playing well for a while, and I think it all just fell into place that this was the place it was going to happen."

Thursday, June 16

2022 U.S. Open: Full Broadcast Schedule

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A full programming schedule for the 122nd U.S. Open can be found here.



Time (EDT)



Thursday, June 16

6:45–9:30 a.m.


First Round

Thursday, June 16

9:30 a.m.–2 p.m.


First Round

Thursday, June 16

2-5 p.m.


First Round

Thursday, June 16

5-7 p.m.


First Round

Thursday, June 16

7-8 p.m.


First Round

Friday, June 17

6:45–9:30 a.m.


Second Round

Friday, June 17

9:30 a.m.–4 p.m.


Second Round

Friday, June 17

4-7 p.m.


Second Round

Friday, June 17

7-8 p.m.


Second Round

Saturday, June 18

10 a.m.–noon


Third Round

Saturday, June 18

Noon–8 p.m.


Third Round

Sunday, June 19

9-10 a.m.


Final Round

Sunday, June 19

10 a.m.-noon


Final Round

Sunday, June 19

Noon-7 p.m.


Final Round

Wednesday, June 15

2022 U.S. Open: An Inside Look at The Country Club (Video)

The following is based on notes provided by the USGA.

The Country Club, in Brookline, Mass., is one of the game's most historic venues, yet it has not hosted a U.S. Open in more than 30 years. In the above video, the USGA's Jeff Hall and The Country Club's Brendan Walsh are on site to inform fans about the historic layout that's hosting the world's best players this week.

  • The 122nd U.S. Open will be the fourth conducted at The Country Club (1913, 1963, 1988)
  • The Country Club will host its 17th USGA championship, which will tie for second all-time
  • The 2022 U.S. Open will be the 59th USGA championship held in Massachusetts
  • In 2022, the U.S. Open Championship will be played in Massachusetts for the 10th time
  • The Country Club is one of the five founding members of the USGA, which was formed on Dec. 22, 1894


The Country Club started as a six-hole layout but was extended to nine holes by Willie Campbell, a Scottish golfer who became the club’s head professional. The Country Club became one of the five founding members of the USGA in 1894, along with Newport (R.I.) Country Club, Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, in Southampton, N.Y., Chicago Golf Club and St. Andrew’s Golf Club, in Yonkers, N.Y. As golf caught on in the Boston area the course was expanded to 18 holes. The 27 holes in play today were constructed at different times with input from several architects. Francis Ouimet won the 1913 U.S. Open on the original course (Clyde & Squirrel), but the modern-day championship layout consists of fifteen holes of the original eighteen, with 3½ holes from the Primrose nine-hole loop that was designed by William Flynn. In 2009, Gil Hanse was asked to deliver a plan for the restoration of all 27 holes. The Country Club has hosted 16 USGA championships, including three U.S. Opens.

1902 U.S. Women’s Amateur: Genevieve Hecker def. Louisa A. Wells, 4 and 3

1910 U.S. Amateur: William C. Fownes Jr. def. Warren K. Wood, 4 and 3

1913 U.S. Open: Francis Ouimet def. Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, 304 (72) – 304 (77) – 304 (78)

1922 U.S. Amateur: Jess Sweetser def. Charles “Chick” Evans Jr., 3 and 2

1934 U.S. Amateur: W. Lawson Little Jr. def. David Goldman, 8 and 7

1941 U.S. Women’s Amateur: Elizabeth Hicks def. Helen Sigel, 5 and 3

1953 U.S. Girls’ Junior: Mildred Meyerson def. Holly Jean Roth, 4 and 2

1957 U.S. Amateur: Hillman Robbins Jr. def. Dr. Frank M. Taylor, 5 and 4

1963 U.S. Open: Julius Boros def. Jacky Cupit and Arnold Palmer, 293 (70) – 293 (73) – 293 (76)

1968 U.S. Junior Amateur: Eddie Pearce def. W.B. Harman Jr., 6 and 5

1982 U.S. Amateur: Jay Sigel def. David Tolley, 8 and 7

1988 U.S. Open: Curtis Strange def. Nick Faldo, 278 (71) – 278 (75)

1995 U.S. Women’s Amateur: Kelli Kuehne def. Anne-Marie Knight, 4 and 3

2013 U.S. Amateur: Matthew Fitzpatrick def. Oliver Goss, 4 and 3

Monday, May 23

Thoughts and Video Highlights: Justin Thomas' Improbable Comeback Victory at the PGA Championship

JUSTIN THOMAS WON THE PGA CHAMPIONSHIP in a three-hole playoff with Will Zalatoris. Thomas began the final round seven shots behind 54-hole leader Mito Pereira. He finished with a 3-under 67 and watched all the leaders come back to him.

Thomas' victory, his second PGA and second major, seemed improbable. But the whole tournament seemed a bit off, even if it did keep everyone in suspense to the end.

This PGA kind of lurched along day to day ... hot weather, cool weather, wind, more wind, low rounds, high rounds, more high rounds, Rory McIlroy up then down (repeat), and the same with Tiger Woods, including a WD before Sunday's final round. His body couldn't take any more of Southern Hills.

Sentimental favorite and frontrunner Mito Pereira grimly hung on to nearly the end on Sunday, with a chance to grab his first PGA Tour title and first major victory on the final hole -- if he could make a par. Alas, his drive leaked into the creek to the right of the fairway.

"I thought I was nervous the first day," Mito said. "Then I thought I was nervous the second day. Then I thought I was nervous on the third day. But the fourth day was terrible. I mean, this morning was tough."

He added, "I just played it through. And actually had a one-shot lead on 18 and that was pretty good and sad to hit it in the water. I wish I could do it again. Just good memories for this tournament. Just taking out the 18th."

Thomas' shot-making was masterful in the playoff. Bones, his caddie, said he didn't miss a shot. (That's the way I saw it from my couch.) Like someone in the golf media said a bit earlier, Justin looked like he was the only one having fun out there.

Sunday, May 22

Report: Jack Nicklaus Sued by Nicklaus Companies for Breach of Contract

I ran across this news on Twitter. I had to read it again. It's real, and has been picked up by several golf media outlets.

REPORTED BY ALEX MICELI OF SI/MORNING READ, Jack Nicklaus is being sued by the Nicklaus Companies. Howard Milstein is the executive chairman of the Nicklaus Companies. Jack Nicklaus II is vice chairman.

Miceli wrote:

On May 13, a complaint filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York against the 82-year-old golf legend alleged a breach of contract with the Nicklaus Companies as well as tortious interference and breach of fiduciary duty.

According to the complaint, Nicklaus was paid $145 million in 2007 to provide exclusive services and property to the Nicklaus Companies, which over time he has failed to live up to or has worked against the company directly.

In a statement through his organization, Nicklaus said, "The claims made by Howard Milstein are untrue."

SI/Morning Read later updated its story to include this statement from the Nicklaus Companies:

We have great admiration and tremendous respect for Jack and his legacy and have tried everything to avoid taking this step. We are asking the court to sort out the legal responsibilities of the parties so that there is no confusion or misunderstanding going forward.

We are saddened to be put in a situation that now requires intervention from a court, but we have a responsibility to Nicklaus Companies and its employees, as well as to our customers and partners, to ensure that nothing disrupts the ongoing business of the company. We are confident that working together we can resolve this quickly and amicably.

Tuesday, May 17

A Primer on the Saudi-Backed LIV Golf League, Including the Threat to the PGA Tour and the Phil Mickelson and Greg Norman Controversy

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THIS IS FOR US, you and me, as I decided to write this piece to document the basics on this evolving golf story.

What is this new Saudi-backed golf league?
Sometimes called the Super Golf League and also known as LIV Golf, it's essentially a rival tour to the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour (European Tour).

How is it financed?
LIV Golf is backed by the Public Investment Fund, which is Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund.

How is Greg Norman involved?
Greg Norman is the CEO of  LIV Golf. He was named CEO in October 2021.

How is Phil Mickelson involved?
PGA Tour star and Hall of Famer Phil Mickelson has been an active and vocal proponent of LIV Golf. In late February some of Mickelson's comments stirred controversy (see below). He has taken a break from playing tournament golf, including the Masters and now the PGA Championship, which he won in 2021. He is one of three PGA champions in the last 75 years to not defend his title. Mickelson has also stayed out of the public eye.

How will the new league work?
The league plans an eight-event schedule called the LIV Golf Invitational Series beginning in June. The no-cut 54-hole tournaments are to be played in England, the United States, Saudi Arabia and Thailand. The fields will be 48 players and include a team and individual component. Total prize money for the series is in excess of $250 million.

Why is the PGA Tour threatened?
The PGA Tour doesn't want to lose any of the world's best players (who are also PGA Tour members) to a rival tour. It could/would impact a lot of things: its golf product and brand; its tournaments, sponsorships, network contracts and charitable work; and perhaps more.

Aren't the players independent contractors who can play anywhere?
Technically, yes.

However, the PGA Tour is a membership organization with tournament regulations. It has denied waiver requests by PGA Tour players who have asked for permission to play in LIV Golf's first event in England.

"We have notified those who have applied that their request has been declined in accordance with the PGA TOUR Tournament Regulations. As such, TOUR members are not authorized to participate in the Saudi Golf League's London event under our Regulations," said PGA Tour senior vice president Tyler Dennis in a memo to players. "As a membership organization, we believe this decision is in the best interest of the PGA TOUR and its players."

The PGA Tour has also threatened suspension and permanent bans for players who defect.

The DP World Tour, in a strategic alliance with the PGA Tour, has taken similar positions with its players.

What's the controversy about?
There's plenty, but here's a start.

The new league is funded and backed by the Saudi government and its crown prince, who are infamous for their human-rights record, including the 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who had openly criticized the crown prince.

In his comments that surfaced before his exile, Phil Mickelson admitted as much. Golf writer and Mickelson biographer Alan Shipnuck reported the following in February:

[Phil] didn’t pretend to be excited about hitching his fortunes to Saudi Arabia, admitting the SGL was nothing more than what he called "sportswashing" by a brutally repressive regime.

"They're scary motherf---ers to get involved with," he said. "We know they killed [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates. They've been able to get by with manipulative, coercive, strong-arm tactics because we, the players, had no recourse. As nice a guy as [PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan] comes across as, unless you have leverage, he won't do what's right. And the Saudi money has finally given us that leverage. I'm not sure I even want [the SGL] to succeed, but just the idea of it is allowing us to get things done with the [PGA] Tour."

More recently, when asked about the Saudis' human rights record and Khashoggi, Greg Norman said, "We've all made mistakes." LIV Golf later issued a statement saying that everyone agrees the Khashoggi killing was "reprehensible," including Greg Norman.

There has been strong public reaction to Mickelson's and Norman's various comments, many finding their words and stances offensive and openly wondering about their motivations related to the new league.

Is it for the good of golf and about providing players more opportunities, or is it simply a new and bigger money grab?

Monday, May 16

2022 PGA Championship Preview: Tiger Showing Up, Phil Sitting Out, and the World's Best Players Vying for the Wanamaker Trophy

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THE 2022 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP begins on Thursday at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In January 2021 the PGA moved its 2022 championship to Southern Hills from Trump Bedminster in New Jersey.

Purse: $12 million
Winner's share: $2 million +
Trophy: Wanamaker Trophy, named for Rodman Wanamaker, who started PGA of America and PGA Championship
2021 champion: Phil Mickelson
Scoring record: 264 by Brooks Koepka in 2018 at Bellerive CC
How to watch: Televised all four days on ESPN and CBS. Streaming via ESPN and CBS Sports apps.

Designed by Perry Maxwell and opening in the late 1930s, Southern Hills has hosted seven men's majors: four PGA Championships and three U.S. Opens. The course was tuned up in 2018 by course architects Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner. They removed trees, decreased rough near greens, increased bunkers and restored the width of fairways.

The par-70 layout will play over 7500 yards, about 300 yards longer than in 2007 when Tiger Woods won his fourth PGA Championship. There are only two par 5s, both in excess of 630 yards.

The PGA Championship always has a strong field. This year's field of 156 players includes 17 PGA champions, 34 major winners, three Ryder Cup captains, 70 points-earning players, and about 20 PGA club pros who qualified in the PGA Professional Championship in April.

The PGA Championship moved to May in 2019, the year Brooks Koepka successfully defended his title. It has worked well. The PGA was formerly played in August, the last and least popular of the four majors. The weather was hot to unbearably hot, and, despite its great field, the championship did not garner nearly as much interest. The crowded golf calendar helped move the PGA to earlier in the year, creating more interest, and the better weather opens up more venue opportunities.

2021 champion Phil Mickleson will not play, only the third PGA champion in 75 years to not defend his title. The other two were Tiger Woods in 2008 and Ben Hogan in 1949, both due to injuries.

Phil also skipped the Masters, and has not competed on the PGA Tour since late February when his controversial comments surfaced about LIV Golf (a Saudi-backed golf series) and the PGA Tour, where he has won 45 times and earned millions.

Tiger is at Southern Hills, "a lot stronger," he said. Woods, 46, made the cut at the Masters, a tremendous achievement considering that it was his first start since a 2021 automobile accident that resulted in serious injuries, including nearly losing his right leg. At Augusta he played well early in tough conditions but struggled on the weekend, especially with the putter.

Much of the field, including these guys:
World No. 1 and Masters champion Scottie Scheffler
Jon Rahm, 2021 U.S. Open champion
Justin Thomas, 2017 PGA champion
Brooks Koepka, 2018 and 2019 PGA champion
Rory McIlroy, two-time PGA champion
Colin Morikawa, 2020 PGA champion
Jordan Spieth, three-time major winner looking for first PGA title
Dustin Johnson, two-time major winner looking for first PGA title

A few more, all looking for a first major victory:
Patrick Cantlay
Xander Schauffele
Viktor Hovland

Americans have won the last six PGA Championships.

Monday, May 9

WGA News: 315 Student Caddies Awarded Full College Scholarships

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GLENVIEW, IL – This year, a record 315 students from across the country have been awarded the Evans Scholarship, a prestigious full housing and tuition college grant offered to golf caddies. The full scholarship is valued at an estimated $120,000 over four years.

Currently, a record 1,070 caddies are enrolled at 21 universities across the nation as Evans Scholars, and more than 11,500 caddies have graduated as Evans Scholars since the program was founded by famed Chicago amateur golfer Charles "Chick" Evans Jr.

Each caddie has a unique story that reflects the scholarship's four selection criteria: a strong caddie record, excellent academics, demonstrated financial need and outstanding character. 

Recipients were interviewed at one of more than 20 selection meetings across the country, from November through March. They will begin college as Evans Scholars this fall, attending one of 22 leading universities across the nation. The Evans Scholarship is valued at more than $120,000 over four years. 

"These young men and women are part of an exceptional incoming class of New Scholars from around the nation," said WGA Chairman Joe Desch.

The Western Golf Association has supported the Chick Evans Scholarship Program through the Evans Scholars Foundation since 1930. Known as one of golf's favorite charities, it is the nation's largest scholarship program for caddies.

Scholarship funds come mostly from contributions by nearly 35,000 supporters across the country, who are members of the Evans Scholars Par Club program. Evans Scholars alumni donate more than $17 million annually, and all proceeds from the PGA Tour's BMW Championship are donated to the Evans Scholars Foundation. In 2022, the BMW Championship will be held at Wilmington Country Club in Wilmington, Delaware, from Aug. 16-21.

Friday, April 29

The Del Monte Golf Course in Monterey Is Turning 125

A 1909 ladies tournament with caddies.
THE DEL MONTE GOLF COURSE (at Pebble Beach Resorts) will celebrate 125 years of golf on its unique premises on Sunday, May 1.

Del Monte opened in 1897, and helped popularize a game that was new to Americans at the beginning of the 20th century. That game called golf took off in the following decades.

Del Monte has been around for it all. It's the oldest golf course in continuous operation west of the Mississippi River. It's also the birthplace of the California State Amateur.

Today, the classic layout still challenges golfers with its old-school greens.

Monday, April 11

The Masters: Scottie Scheffler Adds Green Jacket to His Growing Resume

Embed from Getty Images

UNFORTUNATELY I DID NOT SEE THE END of the Masters. But I did see how leader Scottie Scheffler was handling final-round pressure (very well). And I did see much of Rory McIlroy's charge that culminated in a brilliant 64 and runner-up finish.

A good friend invited me to his birthday party. It was one of those milestone birthdays. I did not want to miss any of it. But I do admit that I checked the Masters app on my phone several times until Scheffler closed it out and donned the Green Jacket.

Scheffler, who finished at 10 under to win by three strokes, has won four times in six starts and was already World No. 1 before he rolled down Magnolia Lane.

Of course, I'm impressed by all his shots, especially his short game, but I'm just as impressed with his demeanor and composure. Judging from his facial expressions, it's hard to tell if he pull-hooked a drive or two (like he did early on) or wedged in for a birdie (generating a small fist pump).

Is the new 25-year-old Masters champion as impervious as he looks?

Obviously, winning the Masters is not your garden variety PGA Tour victory. Being on a hot streak coming into Masters week helps, but it doesn't guarantee a Green Jacket. It's a long, sad list of semi greats who never got it done, like Ernie Els and Tom Weiskopf, to name two.

Scheffler almost made it look easy, winning from the front, carrying the pressure of the lead over a long stretch of the tournament.

And yet there was a lot more to it for Scheffler, as SI Morning Read reported.

You would never know that the guy’s stomach was a pretzel for two days, or that when he woke up, "I cried like a baby this morning. I was so stressed out. I didn't know what to do."

He said he told Meredith: "I don't think I'm ready for this kind of stuff."

She said: "Who are you to say that you're not ready?"

Meredith was right to question him. Her husband was ready and more than able.

Saturday, April 9

The Masters: Scottie Scheffler Leads, Augusta National Is the Star

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SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER IS LEADING THE MASTERS by a bunch in the third round. But Augusta National Golf Club is winning.

The average score in round three is 75, to this point. It's cold, in the fifties. It's breezy. Every shot, it seems, is hard to judge for the best players in the world. Putts of nearly every length are hard to hole. (Tiger Woods four-putted the 5th hole after a pretty good start.)

I'm enjoying the show, sipping hot chocolate on my couch.

Today is moving day, as they say. And some, if not much, of that movement is backwards.

The weather will be better on Sunday. The high will be in the seventies.

Tuesday, February 22

Phil Mickelson's Mutiny Fails; He Apologizes and Will Take Time Off

I ONLY KNOW WHAT I READ in the golf media, so trying to follow and understand Phil Mickelson's recent comments about the evil PGA TOUR and his crusade to save the day by joining forces with a Saudi-backed mega-money league has been perplexing, to say the least.

Yes, even for Phil, who, perhaps too often, is "fire, aim, ready" when it comes to his public and reported statements.

Phil's enormous popularity and contributions to the game have created enormous capital with a lot of folks that matter, including fans, sponsors and others. At times, a portion of that capital has been devoured by small scandals and "Phil being Phil" in weird or unseemly ways. (But then he does stuff like win the PGA Championship at age 51 and charms us all over again.)

However, this time wasn't about gambling, or throwing U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson under the team bus before you could say "press conference," or putting a moving golf ball at the U.S. Open.

It looked to me like Phil was leading a mutiny, or at least he thought he was.

By Sunday, if Phil was still counting heads, he must have realized it was over. Player after big-name player, many of whom might be seen as Lefty's buddies, pledged allegiance to the flag of Ponte Vedra.

Now I guess "Captain" Phil is going down with the ship.

"Although it doesn't look this way now given my recent comments, my actions throughout this process have always been with the best interest of golf, my peers, sponsors, and fans. There is the problem of off record comments being shared out of context and without my consent, but the bigger issue is that I used words I sincerely regret that do not reflect my true feelings or intentions. It was reckless, I offended people, and I am deeply sorry for my choice of words. I'm beyond disappointed and will make every effort to self-reflect and learn from this.

"Golf desperately needs change, and real change is always preceded by disruption. I have always known that criticism would come with exploring anything new. I still chose to put myself at the forefront of this to inspire change, taking the hits publicly to do the work behind the scenes.

"My experience with LIV Golf Investments has been very positive. I apologize for anything I said that was taken out of context. The specific people I have worked with are visionaries and have only been supportive. More importantly they passionately love golf and share my drive to make the game better. They have a clear plan to create an updated and positive experience for everyone including players, sponsors, networks, and fans.

"I have incredible partners, and these relationships mean so much more to me than a contract. Many have been my most influential mentors and I consider all to be lifelong friends. The last thing I would ever want to do is compromise them or their business in any way, and I have given all of them the option to pause or end the relationship as I understand it might be necessary given the current circumstances. I believe in these people and companies and will always be here for them with or without a contract.

"I have made a lot of mistakes in my life and many have been shared with the public. My intent was never to hurt anyone and I'm so sorry to the people I have negatively impacted. This has always been about supporting the players and the game and I appreciate all the people who have given me the benefit of the doubt.

"Despite my belief that some changes have already been made within the overall discourse, I know I need to be accountable. For the past 31 years I have lived a very public life and I have strived to live up to my own expectations, be the role model the fans deserve, and be someone that inspires others. I've worked to compete at the highest level, been available to media, represent my sponsors with integrity, engage with volunteers and sign every autograph for my incredible fans. I have experienced many successful and rewarding moments that I will always cherish, but I have often failed myself and others too. The past 10 years I have felt the pressure and stress slowly affecting me at a deeper level. I know I have not been my best and desperately need some time away to prioritize the ones I love most and work on being the man I want to be."

Apologies these days always seem to lean heavily on things taken "out of context," which Phil says more than once in the above apology.

Sorry, but I don't buy it.

His apology is a plea for forgiveness and mercy. Remember fun Phil, sign-every-autograph Phil, major-winner Phil.

The time away?

A really good idea. And perhaps also his penance to the PGA TOUR for his recent folly.

Tuesday, January 11

A Goodbye to a Father and a Golfer

I LOST A FATHER AND GOLF LOST an enthusiastic player and fan on November 30. James "Ralph" Sagebiel was 94 when he died.

L to R: Kent, Dad (88) and me.
One of dad's goals was to play golf when he turned 90, but he took a bad fall that hospitalized him at 89 and never played again. It did not dampen his enthusiasm for the game. He replayed a lot of rounds in his mind and through conversations as he lived his last five years in assisted living.

A longtime sports lover who played basketball and softball as a young man, dad took up the game relatively late. He was invited to play with borrowed clubs in his mid 30s and caught the golf bug. A Methodist minister in the 1960s, he'd play free on public courses in Southern Indiana on Mondays, his day off.

Later, when we moved to California and dad changed his career to education, he played a lot more golf, especially in the summers when school was out. I started playing, too, and through my teen and adult years we spent countless hours together on golf courses.

At dad's memorial service in December, my older brother, Kent, captured our father quite well -- especially through a golf lens -- during the time we both shared remembrances.

Here's what Kent said:

"Dad loved playing golf and was good at it. He was still playing at 89.

"But in his early 80s he lost his golf game. It simply disappeared. He couldn't hit the ball in the air to save his life. He'd just dribble it down the fairway.

"This didn't go on for a few weeks or a couple of months. It went on for a year, then another, and then a third year.

"It was painful to watch. A lot of golfers would have hung up their spikes and quit. Not dad. He never cussed, never complained, never threw a club.

"He just kept playing the game he loved, often with the people he loved. He rooted for them, complimenting their shots and games. For him, the glass was half full.

"Then one day I saw him hit one in the air, and then another and another. The California sun began to shine again on dad's golf game.

"Dad lived his life like he played golf. He never gave up. The glass was always half full. And he never stopped playing.

"I'm going to really miss dad. But I'm going to keep playing, because that's what he taught me and that's what he would want us all to do. And I know in my heart that he is still playing and that we'll all play together again."