St. Andrews, Augusta and Royal Melbourne are my three favorite courses in the world. Like St. Andrews and Augusta you can slam it anywhere off the tee at Royal Melbourne and you can still get to the greens but the putting is going to be crazy if you play it that way. It is really so dangerous around the greens and you can make a bogey from anywhere. And when the wind blows it's, "Oh my God! How do I manage this course?" FRED COUPLES
Of course, PGA Tour pairings are a totally random!
Rex Hoggard on today's opening round pairing of Bill Haas and Webb Simpson at the McGladrey Classic. The Wake Forest alums are friends but also the source of Tom Watson's consternation.
Watson ultimately picked Simpson to play on the 2014 Ryder Cup after a texting and early morning phone plea from Webb.
“I don’t know if we will talk about it. I don’t know that it needs to be. He earned his spot,” Haas said. “If you want to see someone get picked, I want a buddy of mine to get picked. The answer to all of this is just play better and earn a spot.”
Haas, who like Simpson attended Wake Forest, said that he learned he wouldn’t be a pick the Tuesday morning Watson made his announcement, but sources have said the captain planned to pick Haas just 12 hours earlier.
Speaking of Captain Watson, he surfaced at last night's Royals World Series win sporting all of his Royals gear.
Leave it to Commissioner Tim Finchem to, like most things, almost-but-not-quite get it right when it comes to something golf-related. This time it's the topic of Team USA's lousy play in Ryder Cup foursomes.
Alex Miceli reports that Finchem was not asked to be on the PGA of America task force Task Force, but sees a "silver lining" in our lousy foursomes play as a way to introduce the format to more Americans who do not understand why UK golfers enjoy playing a faster way. If only he could have stopped there...
“One of the silver linings on these things would be if foursomes golf could develop some traction in the U.S. We are strapped for (open) weeks,” said Finchem, who acknowledged the possibility of “a little side event” that could include foursomes.
Dare I mention restoration of the old Tuesday PGA Tour practice round exhibitions...oh right, we close the course on PGA Tour Championship Management Tuesdays now. Sorry, go on...
Finchem also mentioned the possibility of a special Monday pro-am that would feature a pro and amateur paired in foursomes.
“There are things you can do,” Finchem conceded. “I think that should be an area of focus.”
Ah yes, an alternate shot Monday pro-am with a PGA Tour player and a 15 handicapper is going to button things up for Team USA going forward! Yep, that'll really help! There is that one problem of Monday pro-ams being a place that most Ryder Cuppers tend to not be seen.
Last week there was the video of a majestic eagle at North Bellingham Golf Course picking up a golf ball for the fun of it and I speculated on Morning Drive that this could only have an unhappy ending if America’s bird engulfed the ball.
Thankfully Sam Weinman noticed there was a part two to the video and it shows the stunning creature bringing the ball back before flying off. And he is a big birdie! As always, it’s just great for the world to see that golf courses and wildlife do mix.
Former UNC student and comedian Lewis Black holds back on the obscenities in talking to Alex Podlogar about Pinehurst #2.
The Daily Show contributor and constantly-touring stand-up master was in town for an annual cystic fibrosis fundraiser and while it'd be fun to hear him say Donald Ross's name with R-rated words as only he can use them, it's still enjoyable to hear him riff on the 2014 U.S. Open host.
Debatable is the pure genius it took to commit golf to an exhausting, annoying, neverending wraparound schedule at the expense of the common sense that says every entertainment product needs to go away for a bit. Not debatable was the new calendar year's schedule's discrimination against younger players and the PGA Tour's ever-expanding list of medical exemptions clogging fields each week.
But as Rex Hoggard reports, the PGA Tour has listened to their critics and is working hard to expand fall fields and lessen the role of the medicallty exempt. This doesn't solve the problem of pro golf as a year-round enterprise that annoys in its persistence (especially compared to other sports), but it's at least a righting of the inequity that has arisen for up-and-coming players.
All told, the Tour has added up to 180 new playing opportunities next fall and the circuit’s moves have already started paying off. Last week in Las Vegas 13 more players from the Web.com Tour category received a spot in the field compared to last season and this week at Sea Island 25 more are on the tee sheet.
“We’re looking at everything to get more Web.com Tour guys into tournaments top to bottom,” Finchem said.
“We are doing some things and will watch it for a year or maybe two and see where it comes out.”
The Tour also plans to adjust the major medical exemption category to increase access for the Web.com Tour graduates. Beginning with the 2014-15 season, medical exemptions will be capped at three seasons unless there are “extreme circumstances” which should, over time, reduce a category that has grown to 14 players this season.
Golfweek's Jim Achenbach talks to World Hickory Open winner Sandy Lyle to talk about his love for the retro game and thanks to architect Scott Macpherson, how he first played with them at the great Musselburgh and got hooked.
Among the interesting tidbits, besides just how many great courses he's tested the hickories on and that he has sets on two continents? How much they help him with his game.
Lyle regularly plays with his hickories using modern balls, playing rounds at Prestwick, St. Andrews, Royal Dornoch and Skibo Castle, among others. Last Sunday, Lyle said he played 12 holes with hickories, and he uses them to practice.
The clubs help Lyle get a good feel for his swing.
“It’s really good to help you tune your senses,” he says, “because they can be unpredictable as far as shaping the ball goes. ... I would recommend them for any young golfer who wants to experience playing golf in the raw. The feedback you get is incredible.”
And it's not golf.
Tim Rohan of the New York Times looks at the very serious experiment by Major League Baseball to speed up Arizona Fall League games by experimenting with shot clocks and other proposed rules. While some of the ideas seem extreme, the effort to recognize the pace issues with the sport must be admired.
Thirty years ago, in 1984, a major league game averaged 2 hours 35 minutes. This season, the average game time crept above three hours for the first time (3:02). In the playoffs, the average length of a nine-inning game has jumped to about 3:26 — including a 2-1, nine-inning contest the Baltimore Orioles and the Detroit Tigers played that somehow lasted 3:40.
It is games like those — a long time to complete a contest in which not all that much happened — that has Major League Baseball worried that the sport is losing its appeal to a younger generation more attuned to the immediacy of the Internet.
Bud Selig, who is retiring as baseball’s longtime commissioner, would never publicly admit to that concern, but in September he did appoint what was formally titled the Pace of Game Committee to find ways to quicken the sport. Then came the decision to use the Arizona Fall League — six teams in all — as a laboratory.
**Thanks to reader Phil for reminding me of the NBA's experiment with 11 minute quarters a few days ago. The NY Times story from Andrew Keh.
Thanks to the folks at Augusta National and ESPN, the sublime Royal Melbourne already returns to our televisions a year after hosting the Australian Masters and World Cup in back-to-back weeks and seemingly feeling like the best place to hold an international PGA Championship (but no go).
The Asian Pacific Amateur Championship will be played on the composite course of years prior to the 2011 Presidents Cup, and it'll be interesting to see what the Pacific Rim's finest amateurs do on Alister MacKenzie and Alex Russell's masterpiece (I've heard the greens have been too firm of late...so we'll see if they have found a happy medium.)
Bruce Young with an iseekgolf.com preview of the event.
This unbylined AP story notes that Yang Gunn, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion and master handshake bluffer is playing even though he already has a spot in the Masters. But he has a history with the sandbelt that made the event irresistible.
"This is one of the best tournaments in the world," Yang said. "I'm really excited about being here and kind of competing on my home soil. I grew up here, and I really love the way they play golf here on the sand belt. It's like links golf."
Also in the field is 16-year-old Australian phenom Ryan Ruffels, whose home course is Royal Melbourne. Martin Blake profiles Gunn and Ruffels.
My photos from the 2011 Presidents Cup, an event that sticks with me and those who were lucky enough to attend. Here, here, here, here, here and here.
You can follow the event through it's vibrant Twitter account.
Here are the ESPN telecast hours and channels, all times Eastern:
This is that magical time of year for West Coast viewers when we get the best Australian pro events in prime time, featuring fine telecasts highlighting top quality courses with intriguing fields. Though the pro opener is on tape delay to avoid the Asian Pacific Amateur, the European Tour's first event Down Under should still be worth watching even. And by no means is the ISPS Handa Perth International to be taken lightly as many top Aussies, Europeans and a few Americans (Duf is back!) tee it up at Lake Karrinyup Country Club in the final event to qualify for the Race To Dubai.
Golf Channel times (Eastern) for the ISPS Handa telecasts:
Thursday 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (Tape delay)
Friday 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (Tape delay)
Saturday 6:30-10:30 a.m. (Tape delay)
Sunday 6:30-10:30 a.m. (Tape delay)
Brian Keogh files his usual smart take on the dynamics involved in Rory McIlroy's two week leave from events in China the World No. 1 had committed to, and notes that by citing the trial preparation, McIlroy buys a way out of the early Race To Dubai events without disqualifying himself from the finale.
McIlroy has such a massive lead — he's €3.1m clear of second placed Sergio Garcia — that if it weren't for the small print,. he could probably afford to miss Dubai too and win his second European money title.
Even if he has to take that week off to better prepare himself for the trial, O'Grady has the power to grant him a waiiver for a "Mitigating Circumstance” (injury, serious disability or acceptable personal emergency).
Whether a March court battle could be considered an acceptable personal emergency is a matter of opinion. But it's certainly not good news.
Given how well-controlled his every move has been this year, it's hard to see how he could not have seen this coming.
Ewan Murray is having a hard time seeing how McIlroy's early 2015 schedule is not thrown into chaos heading toward Augusta.
Now there is uncertainty over what the upcoming months will entail. McIlroy would routinely play in Abu Dhabi and Dubai to start the new year before crossing the Atlantic to appear at the Honda Classic. With a trial looming in February, or at the latest early March, his schedule cannot be mapped out with any great certainty. This would not be welcome in any year but with the opportunity to secure a grand slam of major titles at Augusta National in April at the summit of his priority list, there is added cause for anxiety.
Kevin Garside suggests it’s cynical to think McIlroy is using the trial as an opportunity to not unpack his smog mask and stay home.
It is hard to imagine how anyone is well served by this, least of all a man who could, in abstract terms, settle the commissions owed without batting an eyelid. McIlroy obviously has his reasons, the validity of which will be decided by a judge who has already warned of the toxic nature of the revelations he knows are coming.
James Corrigan practically weeps for the plight of the lad who he says doesn't have "a bad bone in his body," even though it’s the lad who goes through agents at a blistering pace, dumped Caroline Wozniacki in less-than-classy fashion and filed the lawsuit that is causing all of this consternation.
He is a decent bloke who, as far as I can tell, does not have a bad bone in his body. The setting will not only be alien to the man, but alien to his reputation. McIlroy should be bouncing down a fairway, not humbly mounting the steps to swear his testimony.
We can only pray that a late deal is struck and McIlroy, and, indeed, golf, does not have to go through this humiliating experience. Details will emerge, his riches will be raked over and the full scale of what many will consider to be the obscene economy of professional golf will become apparent.
Did I mention that McIlroy filed the first lawsuit and there are suggestions the timing was orchestrated to put a damper on Graeme McDowell's wedding? There is no tear to be shed for McIlroy in this instance and a case could be made that whatever damage is done to his game or reputation is entirely self-inflicted.
“Am I an expert with a chainsaw? No, but I know what I’m doing. I don’t have any fear of them.”
There’s a load off.
As a connoisseur of architecture I was thrilled to pore through golf.com's gallery and I see saw all sorts of neat stuff in the design details, including a few really exciting surprises (the wacky 17th green embedded at right for starters).
However, like a bandaged patient pushed out of the hospital in a wheelchair after plastic surgery--or the radically altered Renee Zellwager--a golf course during grow-in should absolutely not be photographed and then shared with the world. (I realize typing this is a bit like when the local news warns you that graphic images are coming. Most make sure not to miss the carnage.)
Unfortunately, these first legitimate images of El Cardonal are not going to leave a great impression unless you can look past the typical construction scars, rough maintenance and overall raw nature of the decidely midday images, I suggest you wait until mid-December when Tiger's first 18-hole design opens and the course can be captured in proper circumstances and light.
Michael Smith of Sports Business Daily offered a roundup of executive moves, including PGA Tour executive and longtime Tim Finchem sidekick Tom Wade moving to the title of Chief Commercial Officer.
That's an upgrade from his current Global Commercial Officer post that sounded a tad too much like a TSA job, not that there's anything wrong with the TSA. Love the TSA!
The item also notes the resignation of Champions Tour president Mike Stevens, who will be replaced by longtime Tiger Woods Foundation President Greg McLaughlin.
And finally, the Back9Network has added former Deutsche Bank CEO and current Florida East Coast Industries Vice Chair (!?) Seth Waugh to its newly created advisory board. Also named were Tony Ponturo and Fran Shea and the "trio will help the startup network develop strategic opportunities and aid with its business operations."
Alex Miceli reports in Golfweek and on Golfweek.com that Suzy Whaley, the second woman to qualify for a PGA Tour event after Babe Didrickson Zaharias, is moving up the PGA of America latter and could be breaking up that steady sea of navy blue and grey hair that traditionally stands in for PGA Championship trophy ceremonies.
From Miceli's report (thanks reader PhilGC), which says Whaley is the clubhouse leader for the secretary job:
If Whaley were to be nominated in mid-November at the PGA’s annual meeting in Indianapolis, she would be on a path to join a small sorority to have led major golf organizations. Judy Bell served as U.S. Golf Association president in 1996-97; Carolyn Bivens oversaw the LPGA as commissioner in 2005-09; and Cindy Davis will retire this month after six years as Nike Golf’s president.
Dottie Pepper currently sits on the PGA of America board.
Instead of the traditional Golf Digest Q&A, John Barton inserts observations, fact-checking and commentary into the November Donald Trump interview now posted in its entirety. I'm sure The Donald won't be pleased, but oddly you come away from it respecting him for partaking in the back-and-forth.
Here's a sampling of the fun that I didn't want to end (even though it's a pretty long piece), picking up midway through the Turnberry conversation.
JB: I saw somebody on your Twitter feed (@realDonaldTrump) said to you, don't mess it up.
DT: And I said, don't worry about it. I will not make any changes to the course without the strict approval of the Royal & Ancient.
JB: You're rebranding it Trump Turnberry. Could you say a little bit about that?
DT: Right, so my brand is a very hot brand...
JB: What does your brand stand for?
DT: It stands for quality and luxury. If I didn't use my name, Turnberry would not be nearly as successful as it can be. This isn't an ego thing; this is business. I've got the hottest brand in the world.
At this point, a somewhat fractious exchange ensues. One Trump tactic is to cite unnamed sources who agree with him. At a press conference in July, for instance, when asked about renaming Turnberry, Trump said: "I actually asked some people that are very important in Scotland, although I won't get them in trouble by saying their name, but I've spoken to very important and very powerful political people, and I said, 'What do you think of the idea of Trump Turnberry?' Everyone said that they would love it."
I decide to employ a bit of trumpery on Trump by citing unnamed sources who disagree with him. I tell him that I asked people in the golf industry what they think the Trump brand stands for, and offer an example of one that was less than flattering.
Trump bristles. He demands to know the source. He says, "If you put that in, it's no longer a good story, it's not even a fair story" and adds that the unnamed person is "gutless" for not going on the record. Trump says, "There is nobody more aesthetic than me."
Derek Lawrenson is one of the first to get a copy of Ian Poulter's autobiography. The Daily Mail writer calls the book a "good stocking filler" and notes that "there’s a certain irony in the fact that a man who has only read one book in his life should have the cheek to come out with one of his own."
Lawrenson says "Poulter’s story is so inspirational it certainly deserves to be preserved in hardcover" but in another bit of irony, says few candid stories or views he shares off the record with scribes are offered "presumably because he can’t afford to fall out with people when he’s in the prime of his career, and a stint as Ryder Cup captain lies on the distant horizon."
Nick Faldo, however, was one of the few not spared.
Steve DiMeglio with the exclusive news that Tiger Woods has taken time away from his duties as part of the Ryder Cup task force Task Force where he is said to not be sitting in the back making paper airplanes, all to start working on his game and listening to his doctors. Whoever they are.
From DiMeglio's USA Today report:
"The doctors said he could hit golf balls again, and he's listening to his doctors and to his body," Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, told USA TODAY Sports on Monday. "He will keep listening to his doctors and body."
Steinberg's text to ESPN.com's Bob Harig also reiterated the "still listening to his doctors" line, which an otherwise skeptical person might believe is not a coincidence.
Woods is targeting a return at his Hero World Challenge in December, where another strong field will be showing up.
On Morning Drive Monday we talked about Jack Nicklaus defending old pal Tom Watson's forgettable Ryder Cup captaincy. Being that they are pals, the Golden Bear's defense of his old pal was certainly understandable.
But then there's Florida State football, where Nicklaus' grandson is on the defending national championship squad, compelling the Golden Bear to defend quarterback Jameis Winston's autograph signing, admittedly, the least offensive of the QB's various actions over the last two years that have seen sexual assault allegations derailed by investigative errors and well, whatever this was about.
Tom D'Angelo reports:
“I just hate to see them hammering a 20-year-old kid,” Nicklaus said. “Has he made mistakes? Maybe. But you’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, I think. Not charged and convicted and sentenced.
“I wonder how many autographs I have out there. Every game I go to I sign, probably 20 or 25 (people) and four or five each. Start adding that up. And he’s a lot more available than I am. He’s not the only kid with a couple thousand out there. A bunch of those kids have to have a couple thousand.”
Here's guessing Mr. Nicklaus passed on the recent NY Times piece on FSU.
An unbylined Irish Independent story says this weekend's mediation failed and therefore Rory McIlroy has decided to take time off for a few weeks to prepare for a trial in February. McIlroy was photographed over the weekend as the mediation unfolded.
Sounds like an excuse to skip an event or two he wasn't in the mood to play, but only he would know.
"I'm going to need time away from tournament golf to prepare for the trial over my legal dispute with Horizon Sports Management," Rory said today.
"The court-directed mediation process failed over the weekend to resolve the issue."
McIlroy will sit out the forthcoming BMW Masters or the WGC - HSBC Champions and is expected to return at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai on November 20.
**Philip Reid notes this on McIlroy's absense and the source of McIlroy's quotes:
Whilst his absence will be a huge blow to the sponsors of both events, McIlroy - who won’t reappear on tour until the end-of-season DP World Tour Championship in Dubai on November 20th-23rd, where he will secure the Race to Dubai title for topping the money list on the European Tour - felt he had to put the trial, scheduled for February, ahead of playing.
In a statement issued tonight through Dublin-based The Communications Clinic, McIlroy said: “I’m going to need time away from tournament golf to prepare for the trial over my legal dispute with Horizon Sports Management. The court-directed mediation process failed over the weekend to resolve the issue.”
**Ewan Murray on the McIlroy news, includes the concern about McIlroy's Masters prep:
This casts a late shadow over what has proved an epic year on the course for McIlroy, including winning two major championships. There will be debate as to how his preparations and playing schedule before the Masters next April will be affected by the possibility of up to two weeks in a Dublin witness box.
James Corrigan has the same concern and also notes that McIlroy is passing up a massive appearance fee in China.
The McIlroy fallout should not begin to reach those depths, but the very fact the 25-year-old – who won the last two majors of the season to re-establish himself as golf’s undisputed best – is already focused on his appearance on the stand in a Dublin court early next year, will cause fears that it could affect his bid for The Masters, which starts on April 9 at Augusta, where he will attempt to become just the sixth player in history to win the career grand slam.
The fee McIlroy might have earned in week one could have compensated any loss in the trial, which suggests this is not all about money. Remember Sonny, it's not personal, it's business.
Gary D'Amato with an update on Sand Valley, the Mike Keiser development in rural Wisconsin where the 165 people who paid $50,000 each got to play some sand golf on Coore and Crenshaw's routing.
The course is not slated to open until 2017 but a second course architect search is already underway and I was fascinated to learn how much of a dunes restoration component is part of the project. I hope more is shared on that going forward.
There is also this on the future...
Plans already are in place for a second course, likely to be designed by Tom Doak, a name that resonates with architecture geeks. There is room for three more courses after that, but expansion will be dependent on the success of the first course.
"We're very deliberate and we're just focusing on making the first course as good as we can make it, because we know if the first one doesn't exceed your expectations, there won't be a second," Keiser Jr. said.
Fully realized, Sand Valley would join a redesigned SentryWorld in Stevens Point, two fine courses at nearby Lake Arrowhead in Nekoosa and Northern Bay in Arkdale to make north-central Wisconsin one of the best golf destinations in the Midwest, if not the nation.
Tiny Rome, population 2,720, would be at the epicenter.
"Wisconsin, we're finding, is very welcoming," Keiser Jr. said. "The Town of Rome has been so supportive. Day 1, they got it. They knew what this could mean for the poorest county (Adams) in Wisconsin."