Embeds from Twitter are still a problem with Squarespace, sadly, so just hit the link and see how Bubba Watson's son is already a more entertaining trick shotster than his pretty entertaining dad.
The kid's a keeper!
The second best nine in golf might be the front nine at Pine Valley or the back at Ballybunion or Cypress Point. Or even the back nine at Augusta National. The best, however, is surely the front side at Royal County Down, as exhilarating a stretch of holes as exist in our game.
THE CONFIDENTIAL GUIDE TO GOLF
Embeds from Twitter are still a problem with Squarespace, sadly, so just hit the link and see how Bubba Watson's son is already a more entertaining trick shotster than his pretty entertaining dad.
The kid's a keeper!
Even though he's not a millennial, most eyes are still on Phil Mickelson come U.S. Open time since the perennial contender is severely overdue to break through.
With a new venue in Chambers Bay, Mickelson has been waiting for the course to close to the public so he could play all 18 greens and test out the course in peace.
Todd Milles reports that this finally happened, with a quick nine and an "interesting" declaration following his round.
“A very interesting course,” he added.
Finally, Mickelson was asked if anything about it surprised him. He responded by saying that Chambers Bay, indeed, closely resembled the type of links course found in Great Britain.
And with that, Mickelson sped off into the afternoon.
BTW for those into U.S. Open news, Milles is a good Twitter follow for the latest from University Place, Washington.
The USGA's Executive Director ruffled some feathers by suggesting players had no chance of winning the U.S. Open without some advance preparation.
Although anyone at all familiar with the dynamics of this year's venue understood his point--new course, new grass, unfamiliar part of the country, etc.--suggesting that a player had to make an advance scouting trip to win came off as rude considering the U.S. Open is golf's most democratic championship. The AP even called the position arrogant.
Dave Shedloski at GolfDigest reports on Davis expanding on his thoughts and clarifying his point which, once players catch their breath, they should take to heart if they are serious about contending.
The occasion was the opening of the the Jack Nicklaus Room at Golf House (Max Adler with a report here). Shedloski writes:
“My point was this is really a unique golf course that was going to require a lot of study,” Davis said. “[There’s] more elevation changes than a normal U.S. Open course. It’s wider. It’s all fescue. They had never seen it before. There’s a lot of local knowledge needed.
“This is going to be my 26th U.S. Open, and I’ve noticed that players just don’t play as much golf there [at the Open site]. They’ll play nine holes a day, rely on their caddies instead of coming in early to play three or four rounds the week before like they did in the past … it’s just the way things have become. And what I wanted to communicate is that the advantage really goes to the player who knows the course inside and out. There is so much bounciness to that course that you just can’t learn it quickly. You certainly can’t learn it well from a yardage book. It is not a straightforward test, like, say Oakmont next year, which many of them have already seen.”
Well done and as I've explained to many who were miffed by Davis' comments, local knowledge is a trait we want in our golf courses and championships. How many times have we later found out that a player's extra preparation or attentiveness gave them an edge in key moments? That's a good thing.
The Telegraph's Hannah Furness quotes Eddie Butler, plugging his new book as voice of The Beeb's rugby coverage, suggesting that BBC did not put up a hard fight to keep The Open Championship due to audience size.
Speaking about his new book The Head of Gonzo Davies, Butler, the BBC's voice of international rugby, said: "There is a will to protect the Six Nations, which for most of my working life was not considered jewel by the BBC.
“It was something the BBC did, but rugby was a very arcane, esoteric sport which nobody really understood. Until the BBC did some market research and found ten million people watched it.
"The moment they started to take the Six Nations seriously, they've actually given it their full attention and are going to protect it as best they can.
"They're certainly going to protect it harder than they protected the Open golf, which has gone from the BBC. They didn't defend that with much vigour because not many people watched it.
"All those Sunday afternoons of the Open title being decided, across the land not many people watched it.
"But there are things the BBC will fight hard for."
The Open's rights have gone to Sky Sports, with the American rights current up for grabs in a sudden chase literally out of the blue, even though ESPN is signed through 2017.
Chris Solari in the Lansing State Journal with the amazing story of husband-wife ace-makers Tony and Janet Blundy, who pulled off a 26-Million-To-1 feat of a happy husband and wife golfing together of back-to-back aces. With witnesses.
Around 3:45 p.m. at the No. 16, their seventh hole of the round, 53-year-old Tony went first and one-hopped his 7-iron shot into the cup from 135 yards out. It was the first of his golfing career. The Blundys' hoots and hollers startled the golfers in front of them and on the neighboring fairway.
"You're gonna be really mad at me when I put mine in," Janet told Tony as she stepped to the women's tee box.
Her joke became an even more raucous reality when the 43-year-old planted her pitching wedge tee shot about 6 feet in front of the pin and rolled her shot into the same hole, 110 yards away. Because they caused such a commotion with Tony's ace, they had two strangers (Rose Pfeffer from Charlotte and Diane Knish of Potterville) as their witnesses — an important verification tool to prove their legitimacy.
"We were actually on the other tee box when they hit them in," Knish said. "We went and witnessed the balls in the hole without them even being on the green. That was, like, unreal."
Pfeffer fixed Tony's big divot next to the cup. Pictures were taken. Somehow, the Blundys finished their final 11 holes of their four-hour round.
David Muir of ABC's World News Tonight profiled the couple in the show's final segment. Saying he comes from a family of golfers, Muir seemed genuinely impressed as he talked to the couple on Skype. (Thanks reader Diane for spotting.)
Rory McIlroy did little to dispel the view he is out of sorts on a links with an opening 80 at Royal County Down, leaving him in a tie for an Irish Open tie for last place.
The World No. 1 was a good sport, giving post round interviews to media and to Golf Channel's Tim Rosaforte, but it's hard not to listen and sense he's got any answers to his continued struggles in wind and firm conditions. With the next three majors at exposed, linksy courses, should McIlroy attack this deficiency in his game? Or should he think long term and stick to a swing and game which functions perfectly well on 95% of tournament venues?
Either way, reading Derek Lawrenson's story on the opening day struggles suggest McIlroy was trying to change his ball flight for the windy, rainy morning conditions.
McIlroy blamed his poor score on being caught in two minds on his iron shots.
‘I had a good warm-up on the range hitting knockdown shots with my irons but when I got out on to the course the wind didn’t seem so bad and so I tried to hit normal shots,’ he said. ‘But I didn’t get the ball close and left myself a lot of eight to 10ft putts for par and none of them went in.’
McIlroy was out of luck as well. The last place you wanted to be when a squalling shower hit was the forbidding par-three seventh, and McIlroy duly missed the small target by fully 40 yards, finishing in the middle of the sixth fairway.
The news was better for Rickie Fowler, playing in the same conditions, posting a strong 71 to leave him four back of leader Padraig Harrington.
**Phil Casey's game story focused on the amazing turnaround for Padraig Harrington and his bad shoulder.
Harrington, whose victory in the Honda Classic in March was his first on a major tour since the 2008 US PGA, was one over par after 10 holes before carding five birdies in the next six to finish one shot ahead of former Ryder Cup team-mate Soren Hansen.
"After nine or 10 holes I thought to myself 'C'mon, we've got to hit a good shot, no need to be afraid,'" said Harrington, who lasted just two holes at Wentworth before pulling out with a shoulder injury, but received intensive treatment and narrowly missed out on qualifying for the US Open four days later.
Steve Elling got a rare admission from the European Tour on how high they go in the fine department, meaning we know the max amount McIlroy will have to shell out for last week's club toss.
Providing additional detail on the discipline likely to be levied upon world No. 1 Rory McIlroy for throwing another club last week at Wentworth, the European Tour on Thursday said that the maximum fine for member breaches of decorum is €12,000.
That translates to about $18,400.
Larry Bohannan notes that McIlroy is still the 9-2 favorite to win the U.S. Open, but the bettors will surely start putting their futures bets elsewhere given another poor links golf performance (and considering the style of Chambers Bay)?
It can be no surprise that Rory McIlroy, the No. 1 player in the world and a winner of four majors including a U.S. Open, is the favorite to win the Open at Chambers Bay this month. At the moment – and frankly Las Vegas odds rarely are dramatically different from one sports book to the next – McIlroy is 9-2 to win the championship. That means if you bet $2 on McIlroy to win and he does win, you win $9.
That's not quite the same kind of low payout as Woods had at the peak of his career, when he was at times 2-1 or close to even money to win a major. But McIlroy is a heavy favorite, even over the other red-hot player of the moment, Jordan Spieth. Spieth is 8-1 and the second choice among the bettors who care to put money on the event.
It's a fickle disease. Often hitting players who have little chance of qualifying for an open championship, forcing them to leave their 36-hole qualifier early.
So it's always of note to see WDitis appearing at a regular PGA Tour event. This week's outbreak at the Byron Nelson has seen 12 players forced to WD due to the heavy rains this mysterious plague. Such an unfortunate coincidence!
Steve Elling with the lowdown and the Tweets by some explaining how the disease is striking at their immune system.
Steve Elling at GolfBlot has Ernie Els' take on the latest bit of Wentworth grumbling, namely the condition of the greens in 2015 (once again).
Even though the May date is tough agronomically, it seems greens are headed for at least a re-grassing under the new ownership.
The club owners also are in agreement that some modifications need to be made, he said, to maintain the club’s reputation.
“We feel it should be the Augusta of Europe and we intend to make it that way,” Els said. “So there’s going to be changes made again, and hopefully, we’ll get it really rectified where everybody is going to be pleased.
“I was disappointed because it’s our flagship event and you want to putt in the best possible conditions, and we didn’t quite have that. But we are definitely going to work on that, I promise you.”
On a positive note, Els is handling the criticism much better this time around.
Among the run British Pathe films on YouTube and another sound reminder that people have been playing this game for a very, very long time: this film of the "Women's Open [Amateur] Golf Championship" at Royal County Down won by 19 year-old Mlle. Simone de la Chaume of France. Almost a millennial! (From the previous century.)
Note how much more exposed sand the dunes revealed back then. Dubai Duty Free Irish Open coverage begins soon on Golf Channel and wherever the European Tour airs.
I feel like this is at least the third golden shovel event, but should be the last as Trump Ferry Point is off and running. And receiving favorable reviews.
And based on their comments Tuesday, as reported by Hank Gola in the New York Daily News, majors are still very much on their mind. However the calendar for U.S. Opens appears filled until 2024 and the PGA Championship through 2022. The course does host the Barclays in 2017.
"It's going to stand the test of time and you're going to have some great events here, whether it's a U.S. Open or PGA Championship," Nicklaus said. "You're going to have a lot of events through time. Donald and I will be in a wheelchair, but that's all right, we're going to look down at it and say we had a part in that, proud of it and we did something that is going to be enjoyed by people for a long, long time. I'm very proud of that and very pleased that we had the opportunity to be involved."
Nicklaus is in Far Hills today to open the new Nicklaus Room at Golf House.
Rich Chere with a list of items on loan for the opening, with this accompanying video featuring Mike Trostel discussing a painting anchoring the permanent exhibit hall:
Brian Keogh with Irish Golf Desk preview notes from Tuesday's Irish Open practice, anchored by Paul McGinley's defense of all things McIlroy, including the world No. 1's perceived vulnerability on fast, breezy links.
Even if McIlroy's game has led to some debate over his perceived weaknesses on hard and fast tracks, McGinley can only see positives in the 26-year old's game, and who can argue.
"He’s only in his early 20s and he’s still got a lot to achieve and different conditions to get better at," he said. “But as far as I am concerned he’s way ahead of schedule, that’s for sure. It’s easy to be critical. Debate? There is no debate. He is comfortably the No 1 player in the world.”
As with more and more courses in the age of drop kick drivers rolling 150 yards, the driver won't get much use this week. Keogh notes the thought of Reeve Whitson, a local and former Spanish Amateur Open winner.
“The whole course is playing fast and much shorter than usual,” said the former Spanish Amateur Open winner, now an EPD satellite tour player, who has shot 63 around the course. “I’d hit driver quite a few times out there but today it stayed in the bag on the fifth, eighth, 11th, 12th, 13th, 15th, 16th, 18th… I just hit three woods there today because driver would run into trouble."
If you had the luxury of watching any or all of the NCAA Women's Golf Championships Tuesday from Florida's The Concession, you'll know that the consensus top two teams were knocked off, giving us Wednesday's surprising Stanford-Baylor final. Mercifully, there wasn't too much grousing about the vagaries of match play (at least yet), perhaps because the setup yielded a bit and seemingly let the players win with their skill. Besides, both Duke and USC had their shot at winning and simply failed.
The emotions and athleticism conveyed during Tuesdays grueling 36 holes also served as reminder #459 that team match play of some form would be so much fun in the Olympics, even if it was trimmed from college golfs five players to three and the coaches were famous retired golfers driving carts around for no decent reason.
Either way, the stellar coverage from Golf Channel--including live plane shots of shots and great reactions captured the passion of college golf--sets up what should be another dramatic match play final Wednesday.
Jay Coffin files this roundup of Baylor vs. Stanford and how they got to the finals by beating the season long 1-2 punch of Duke and USC. And here's the video roundup with Golf Channel's team.
But the craziest story of the day was summed up by Ryan Lavner here, covering the 24-hole match between two struggling players who decided the fate of Duke and Baylor. Lauren Whyte of Baylor was not having the best week, yet because of the match play format was vaulted into the national television limelight and ultimately won with a bogey on the 24th hole.
Whyte’s high scores kept piling up at Concession: An opening 81. Followed by an 85. And then a 94. And an 82. Four days of stroke play, and not once did her score count toward Baylor’s team total.
Of the 84 players who finished four rounds here, Whyte was dead last, 54 over par, 57 shots behind winner Emma Talley.
“She was down,” head coach Jay Goble conceded.
“It’s really been hard for her,” Davis said.
The closest to Whyte in the individual standings was Duke freshman Lisa Maguire, who has endured her own struggles this season. And incredibly, both Baylor and Duke’s fates came down to those two players Tuesday during the semifinals of the NCAA Women’s Championship.
The day was spiced up a bit by controversy when Duke's Leona Maguire found herself in the middle of a rules controversy after making gestures to her coach and teammate about a hole location. It turned out she was trying to tell them the committee had the wrong hole location sheet and after an investigation, Maguire was cleared of wrongdoing because the hole location sheet was, in fact, woefully wrong.
From Lavner's report:
After playing her 10th hole at Concession in the afternoon semifinals, Maguire said she motioned back down the fairway that the hole location was in a different spot on the green than what was shown on the pin sheet.
The rules staff had marked that the cup was 21 paces deep and 10 from the right. It was actually cut 9 on and 7 from the right.
“We just screwed that one up,” NCAA director of rules Jerry Lemieux said later. “We just gave players the wrong paperwork.”
Golf Channel airs Wednesday's Stanford-Baylor finale from 3-7 pm ET.
It's the mitzvah of all mitzvahs as Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler will rekindle their Walker Cup days--minus a few pounds of hair and subcontaneous fat--in an 8 am pairing Thursday morning at Royal County Down.
For us USA west coasters, that should have them teeing off at the start of Golf Channel's midnight Thursday live coverage window (3 am ET).
From the Irish Times, on a pairing that also includes non-millenial hope Martin Kaymer, there is also this fun grouping:
There is little love lost between three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington and Sergio Garcia and the two will start together from the 10th tee along with 2014 winner Mikko Ilonen at 12.50pm.
Rickie is on site and spoke to Golf Channel about returning to the site of his team USA triumph. Like many of his interviews, he doesn't say much of interest, but the photos that run as he talks are superb.
I may be less interested than most in the latest technology and utterly bored with the distance chase, but I do want to see our manufacturers prospering while innovating within the rules and making golfers happy.
So reading Mike Johnson's Q&A with the new TaylorMade CEO David Abeles I was hoping for something to get excited about. I didn't find it. But the jargon was fun.
What did you learn in your time that away from TaylorMade? (Abeles left in 2014 to become CEO of Competitor Group Inc., an operator of marathon and half-marathon races.)
I learned that running and golf are different. Running is an inspiring sport to those who run. They run for health and wellness, for charity, for personal records. Golf is a very aspirational sport. When we see Dustin Johnson, Jason Day or Justin Rose hit a shot, we want to hit that shot -- and from time to time we actually do. So we aspire to that level. But the biggest learning for me was the interaction of brands and how it can elevate your business practices. One of the things we'll do at TaylorMade moving forward is build out an experiential platform. To engage golfers on a day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month basis so they can experience our brands and products in new ways.
Experiential platform. Noted.
What is one thing individuals can do to grow the game?
It's incumbent upon all of us as golfers to grow the game. To reach out to people of all skill levels. They're friendships for life and they are experiences that grow the game. There's a responsibility for us to play with those who are less skilled. This will bring more golfers to the sport along with all the formal initiatives. There's a lot of energy surrounding golf now. We need to capitalize on that positive energy rather than the negative things people are saying about the sport.
No disagreement there!
For us west coasters the coverage from Royal County Down starts at midnight Wednesday, but with Golf Channel devoting at least 21.5 hours to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, we should have plenty of opportunity to see one of the world's great courses.
Thanks to Rory McIlroy joining forces with the event, a strong field has assembled to see Royal County Down, relive Walker Cup memories or just collect a nice appearance fee.
Either way, I've assembled a primer on the course and Irish Open week at The Loop. We also previewed RCD on Morning Drive.
Also, do read Ran Morrissett's 2006 review of the course. If you haven't been to RCD in a while like myself, or you just want to know about some of the particulars before the telecast starts, it's well worth your time.
Anyone who has a ticket to the sold out event, please let us know how it all goes.
**Left out of my seven items: the vaunted gorse is in bloom, as I learned watching Stephanie Wei's Periscopes from a practice round with Robert Rock giving great insights into the course. And from Kevin Markham, who shared some images of what it looks like. Those who've made the trek to Royal County Down say the gorse in bloom at RCD is one of the more amazing sites in the game. And now, the world will see it in beautiful high definition.
Screen capture of Kevin's shots (embeds not working, sorry):
The U.S.Open Sectional Qualifying kicked off with the annual Walton Heath/post-BMW Championship qualifier and as longtime readers know I'm obligated to dwell unfairly on the number of WD/DNF's (22 this year).
Though for a change the bigger news out of England may be the misses by Peter Uihlein and Padraig Harrington, two players who, when healthy, would have been more than just showing up hoping to make the cut. Uihlein, the 2010 U.S. Amateur champ at Chambers Bay and by default the de facto host-site defender, missed by two.
Harrington, who has enjoyed a resurgent game and who should embrace the conditions at Chambers Bay, battled through shoulder issues to make a playoff for the alternate spot only to miss after a two-hour wait.
Alistair Tait with all the details from Walton Heath.
The full field scores, including those who had better things to do.
SI's Richard Deitsch sat down with Fox Sports President Eric Shanks to mostly talk about the possibility of Bill Simmons joining the Fox team.
But in his weekly media column, Deitsch includes Shanks' thoughts on picking up golf coverage. His words will be closely followed by those looking to Fox to bid on The Open or PGA Tour coverage should the tour opt out of its current deal with CBS and NBC.
Sure sounds like the The Open fits the Fox approach while PGA Tour golf does not. On the USGA's 12-year-deal:
“It wasn’t necessarily the start of a large golf strategy but we are big believers in broadcasting big event sports on broadcast TV,” Shanks said. “This is a big event that captures the attention for at least a week if not more. It’s a major sports championship where you get to crown a champion at the end of it, and that was the appeal. It fits well with our big-event strategy. It’s not about us getting us into 23 weeks of golf.”
The Morning Drive gang went to Chambers Bay to scout out the course and record some pieces for the upcoming U.S. Open week. And since we'll take all the scouting advice we can for this little seen course, I got to ask the Gary Williams, Damon Hack and Cara Robinson their impressions. The most interesting insight: local caddies and the possibility for players to either employ them during practice, or for the week. Qualifiers take note!
Check it out:
As the NCAA Women's Golf Championship prepares to whittle its field from stroke play to the match play finalists (and gets Golf Channel coverage Monday-Wednesday), Ryan Lavner assesses a course setup that appears to have gotten out of hand. (17 of the 24 teams posted their worst 18-hole score of the year.)
Yes, most of the top teams will advance to match play, but in recent years the NCAA's have suffered from questionable setups (Prairie Dunes bathed in rough for the men last year) and the women facing what sounds like an excessive test at Concession has many worried about what we'll see on TV.
Women’s college golf hasn’t been on national television in years, and everyone hopes to make a good impression when the cameras start rolling for real Monday afternoon. That’s problematic now, Washington coach Mary Lou Mulflur says, because “people will see teams 40 over par in the mix, and it doesn’t make us look very good.”
“This setup is the most difficult I’ve been on,” Alabama coach Mic Potter said. “And I don’t think that’s a bad thing, as long as it doesn’t hurt the perception of our sport.”
Many thanks to MenWorking for Tweeting some photos of the restored 17th green at Pebble Beach.
While there's plenty to quibble with, there's even more to like. And so soon! Considering work started April 29th or thereabouts, they don't mess around. (But when your green fee is $500 you need to get the penultimate hole back into play.)