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Books
  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
  • The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Art of Golf Design
    The Art of Golf Design
    by Michael Miller, Geoff Shackelford
  • Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Golden Age of Golf Design
    The Golden Age of Golf Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford
Current Reading
  • Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    Professional Golf 2015: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    by Daniel Wexler
  • The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    The Golf Book: Twenty Years of the Players, Shots, and Moments That Changed the Game
    by Chris Millard
  • The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream
    by Dan Washburn
  • The Early Days of Pinehurst
    The Early Days of Pinehurst
    by Chris Buie
  • Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    by Bill Fields
  • The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    by Gil Capps
Classics
  • Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    by Geo. C. Thomas
  • The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    Treewolf Prod
  • Reminiscences Of The Links
    Reminiscences Of The Links
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast, Richard C. Wolffe, Robert S. Trebus, Stuart F. Wolffe
  • Gleanings from the Wayside
    Gleanings from the Wayside
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast
  • Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    by Darius Oliver
  • Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    by Darius Oliver
Writing And Videos

The golf architect, therefore, should look upon himself as an artist; and the colors of his palette are the various types of hazards which he employs to lend interest and bring out the features to holes which he either invents or interprets from the ground. MAX BEHR

    

Thursday
Feb262015

Champions Tour Storyline Pairing To Look For: Vijay & Calc

While Vijay Singh is still showns of life on the PGA Tour--at least until he starts chipping crosshanded--the litigious one is still busy paying lawyers to depose 13 witnesses to date, according to SI's Pete Madden.

Included in the list of those deposed is fellow Champions Tour player Mark Calcaveccia and another unnamed geezer. Though Calc hasn't made a start in 2015, the two are bound to inevitably end up in the same event. Then we'll find out if the rules staff has a sense of humor!

From Madden's report:

According to documents made public this week, Singh deposed two Champions Tour golfers, including 1989 British Open winner Mark Calcavecchia, in his ongoing lawsuit against the PGA Tour alleging "disparate treatment" following his admitted use of deer-antler spray, which contained IGF-1, a banned substance under the Tour's Anti-Doping Program Manual. The PGA Tour said Singh wants to depose as many as nine more players on the senior tour even though the court's Jan. 30 deposition deadline has passed.

Maybe this is why his joy and happiness is out on the regular tour taking up starts from flatbellies? When all of the depositions are in it'll be hard not to be paired with someone your lawyer undoubtedly grilled.

Thursday
Feb262015

Defunct Back9Network's State Loans Were Deferred...

The Hartford Courant's Mara Lee filed a more extensive story on the demise of Back9Network, revealed Monday. To paraphrase Eddie from America's Sweethearts, sometimes you look at a network and wonder, where did the money go?

Back9's state funding is part of the story, and just how little they paid back to Connecticut adds to questions about the supposed $40 million the network claimed to have raised.

Back9 said it has raised more than $40 million in startup capital. That includes more than $5 million from the state Department of Economic and Community Development. It first received a $100,000 grant and $250,000 loan from the Small Business Express program, and then received two more loans under the Manufacturers' Assistance Act program, a program that is open to far more than manufacturers. The first loan was in 2012 for $750,000, and the second loan was in 2013 for $4 million.

The company has not paid any interest back on the largest loan, because payments were deferred until 2017 and 2018. On the smaller loan, it pays $1,850 monthly.

Under the agreements for the loans, if the company defaults, the state can take all its equipment, bank accounts and accounts receivables.

Thursday
Feb262015

Lydia Ko Files: She Funds Volunteer Parties, Too!

Thanks to reader Michael for one final note on Lydia Ko's impressive Australian Women's Open win last weekend.

From the keyboard of Mark Hayes, a confirmed report by Royal Melbourne chief Paul Rak of a professional golfer acknowledging volunteers. Shocking stuff indeed:

Ko wandered up the clubhouse stairs to make her last brief scheduled stop at the champion’s cocktail party, then quietly slipped an envelope containing $500 into the hands of assistant GM Andrea Watson to kickstart the staff’s “after-party”.

It was the New Zealander’s way of saying thanks to all those who almost anonymously helped make her triumph so memorable on one of her favourite courses.

But Rak said it was the ultimate in class acts.

“I’ve worked in the golf industry for 40 years and I’ve never heard of anything like that – especially from a 17-year-old,” he said.

Wednesday
Feb252015

It’s Come To This Files: Golf On Bikes In Spandex

Hanging around the Golf Industry Show this week I've been heartened to pick up some positive energy at a convention that has been fairly subdued the last five years.

So it is with some confidence about the fundamentals of golf that I can tell the cycling lovefest to pick another sport to demolish.

Monday we heard from a millionaire entrepreneur
on why golf is dying and how  cycling is cool, even if the logic didn't make a bit of sense. But now we get to see what the cyclists would do if they were given access to a course."Peter Sagan’s post-ride golf match" is as horrifying as you'd imagine.

Wednesday
Feb252015

Rory Thinks The U.S.A Is "Overdoing" Ryder Cup Revamp

Rory McIlroy isn't exactly the type to drop insults so you can only imagine what he and the rest of his European teammates think of the Team USA task force Task Force "Task Force" findings.

ESPN.com's Bob Harig reports.

"It came as a huge shock when they announced Davis [Love III] as the next U.S. captain," McIlroy said Wednesday at the Honda Classic, where he is making his first U.S. start of 2015. "But then I'm also surprised, and I feel they're overdoing it, with the setting up of a task force and talking about all the changes they want to bring in."

McIlroy stated confidently on the Honda Classic eve that he very much wants to be the man to front the game going forward. That kind of confidence might not go over well, but after the last few years of players not looking comfortable with a lead down the stretch, McIlroy's confidence sounds good.

Brian Wacker on the state of Rory on the eve of his 2015 PGA Tour debut.

Every decade or so there’s a new star for the game to hang its hat on -- from Arnold Palmer to Jack Nicklaus, from Greg Norman to Woods, from Woods to McIlroy. It’s a position McIlroy says he is comfortable with.

“Yes,” he said. “Because it's what I've always wanted to do. I would be wasting my time if I was out there practicing as much as I do and putting as much into it if I didn't want to be in this position, and wasting the people's time around me, as well, that helped me get to this point.

“Of course I want to be that guy.”

Wednesday
Feb252015

Wraparound Blues: Ryder Cup Refusal Edition

Twenty-four hours later, the one shocker of the Ryder Cup news conference continues to be the decision to pronounce the PGA Tour's wraparound schedule non-conducive to creating a Cup team.

Thanks to reader Tim for highlighting Phil Mickelson's answer to the question.

Q. Why the switch from just strict money that Azinger had installed to counting them as points?

PHIL MICKELSON: I'll take that. Because it was very confusing when the Tour, after having players play major championships, the PGA, the World Golf Championships and the FedEx Cup, who then played nine out of 11 weeks, let's say, then stopped, the Tour's next season starts a week later. If you count money for those last three or four months, you're giving the bottom half of the Tour a three month head start over ultimately the top guys. So you wanted to start that money in 2015 but the Money List on the PGA Tour list starts in September or October. So it was getting confusing. That's why we ended up with the points system of points per $1,000 or $2,000 made.

Just last week at Riviera Bubba Watson talked about pretending the fall events in the year-round PGA Tour calendar do not exist and that he schedules accordingly.

In light of the Ryder Cup switch, it would seem the wraparound is about one bullet from losing any relevance it might have had (remember, Rory and Tiger are required to play this fall's Frys.com, but after that they'll never be seen there again).

If the Masters no longer granted exemptions to post-playoff event winners, the fall schedule could lose even more relevance. Nothing against those fine events, of course. Not their fault the schedule is bloated.

Wednesday
Feb252015

Eh: Quail Hollow Gets 2021 Presidents Cup

Because they don't have enough events (Wells Fargo Championship, 2017 PGA Championship), Quail Hollow will be on our televisions almost every year for a long time.

And perhaps twice in 2021 if the Wells Fargo event is extended beyond 2019. Because apparently no other above average golf course in the south (A) was available or (B) wanted to host the Presidents Cup.  Stock up on pillows now before it's too late.

“We’re thrilled to add Quail Hollow Club to the growing list of exceptional venues to host The Presidents Cup,” said Finchem.  “Charlotte is a major hub of business in the Southeastern United States with a growing economy and broad base of sports fans, and The Presidents Cup matches perfectly as we look to bring it to exciting, emerging markets and allow a new fan base to experience the competition, pageantry and international goodwill that the event represents.  Quail Hollow Club has been a player favorite since the PGA TOUR returned there in 2003, and we’re confident players, fans and sponsors from around the world will find Charlotte, the Carolinas and the course itself a remarkable setting for The Presidents Cup.

We'll let you know six years from now.

“I’d like to thank Johnny Harris, who played a key role to attracting the PGA TOUR back to Charlotte in 2003, and the Quail Hollow Club membership for their support and partnership.  It’s obvious this club has high expectations and wants to deliver the world’s best to the Carolinas. We will certainly help them achieve that goal with The Presidents Cup 2021.”

Tuesday
Feb242015

May The Task Force Be Never Heard From Again!

I've entered full Ryder Cup burnout mode, so under doctor's orders, my reading to Task Force's self-congratulatory press conference announcing Davis Love as 2016 Ryder Cup captain.

There is good news in this drama. The Task Force is done. Gone! No mas. It's tied with the PGA of America Hack Golf Task Force for most Task Force meetings in organization history (2).

No more conference calls, no more pretending to care, no more taking Tiger and Phil away from their short game practice and no more wondering if Team USA should go back to four picks (they did!).

The PGA of America Ryder Cup task force unveiled unanimous captain for 2016 in Davis Love and best of all, moved swiftly so that we can return to not worrying about the Ryder Cup for 18 months. Or so we hope.

It was another a fine day for the Golf Cart Industrial Complex, as the task force has decided lock in four vice captain’s. Tom Lehman goes into 2016 as one of the four. Nothing screams excitement like two losing captains to turn this ship around!

Dave Shedloski at GolfDigest.com got a groupthink vibe from the whole thing, which is good when it comes to restoring the fourth pick and fixing the deadline to qualify. But when the new/old captain is dropping MBAspeak, it's hard to get excited unless that new business model means not sucking every penny out of the event possible? I know, we can dream.

“It's a new business model, a new team building model that comes from being given an opportunity by the PGA of America to come together and use all of our veteran experience to build a new team culture and consistent plan for the future,” Love added. “So 2016 will be a collaborative effort of many individuals from the task force, past Ryder Cup Captains, veteran players of the Ryder Cup to create the best environment for our team to be totally prepared to compete at Hazeltine National.”

Steve DiMeglio notes the biggest qualifying change, which we'll call the Horschel Rule.

Eight of the 12 members of the team will be named on points earned following the conclusion of The Barclays, which is two weeks later than in the past. A new timetable for the captain's picks was announced, too. Three of the four picks will be announced after the conclusion of the BMW Championship, affording an extra two weeks for the decisions. And the final captain's pick will be made at the conclusion of the Tour Championship the following week.

Rex Hoggard explains the new qualifying process and reveals easily the best statement the Task Force ever made:

Lost in that structure, however, are the fall events in the PGA Tour’s wrap-around schedule. Money earned in events like the McGladrey Classic, which is hosted by Love, will not count toward the Ryder Cup selection system.

Bob Harig notes that the real takeway here is that Phil Mickelson, criticized for calling out Tom Watson at Gleneagles, got his way with the changes in qualifying, captain’s picks and captaincy strategy.

The full press release and qualifying details.

Tuesday
Feb242015

Final Follow Up On Riviera's 10th: "Fun to watch. Tough to play."

I know, I know, you're in full Bear Trap mode. But before we move to four weeks of Florida golf, a few last things to consider about the much-discussed and dare I say beleaguered 10th at Riviera.

On Morning Drive we discussed the reaction from those who watched the CBS telecast and the criticisms of their announce team, and as I tried to explain, there was a combination of dry conditions, excessive green speed and the tacky changes by the Fazio design team to help Riviera not get a U.S. Open. The perfect storm exaggerated certain misfortunes. Sadly, the hole's reputation seems to have taken a bit of a hit, but don't blame George Thomas and Billy Bell.

In his weekly notes column, AP's Doug Ferguson tackled the question, quoted Ryo Ishikawa (see headline above) and talked to Riviera superintendent Matt Morton.

With all the chatter about so much sand from so many bunker shots building up the green, Morton said the real culprit was a long drought creating firm conditions.

"The main difference is three firm years in a row," he said. "During the Northern Trust Open, it's usually wet and you deal with rain. We're in a drought. You're seeing three years of dry, firm conditions. We've been able to showcase the hole the way members play in the summer."

It began to rain heavily on the back nine Sunday, and when Dustin Johnson and James Hahn reached the 10th hole in the playoff (the second extra hole), it helped slightly to be able to get their flop shots on the green. That said, they were flop shots of the highest quality.

They were indeed. Softer conditions helped, but some mighty young nerves also held up.To confirm that things were a tad silly for a 311-yard hole, here are the day-by-day scoring averages, hole locations and green-in-regulation percentages.

Thursday (back left): 4.201 47%
Friday (middle left): 4.007  60%
Saturday (middle front): 3.880  43%
Sunday (back left): 4.227  57%

All rounds: 4.087 52%

Note that the easiest of the hole locations on Saturday and the one most unprotected by bunkers but also most tempting to players, had the lowest green in regulation percentage.

Tuesday
Feb242015

Instant Poll: Long Term, What Happens To Tiger's Game?

While the Tuesday talk at the Honda Classic will be distracted by Davis Love's second Ryder Cup captaincy, the absense of Tiger Woods in what is now his hometown event is the topic on everyone's mind. And as noted in recent stories, the main question in golf centers around his future game (or lack thereof). Undoubtedly, many in the press are in denial about how serious the issues are that Tiger faces, as are many of his biggest fans.

So with that in mind, put your long term vision caps on and vote how you see the greatest player of the 21st century evolving from his current struggles. For what it's worth, I voted for answer 3.

Long term, what is going to happen with Tiger's game?
 
pollcode.com free polls

Tuesday
Feb242015

USA Players Better Get Used To Seeing Davis Love

The press conference to re-introduce Davis Love starts at 4:30 pm ET Tuesday, with Golf Channel carrying it live from PGA of America headquarters. As the excitement builds for this thrilling moment in American golf history, prepare to see lots of Love over the next few years.

Tim Rosaforte, reporting that Love was a unanimous choice--amazing how that happens when the choice is Davis Love or None Of The Above on the ballot!). And this...

As part of the bigger picture plan, Love will only captain the team that will host the Europeans in 2016, but will also be locked in as a vice captain for the 2018 Ryder Cup in France. Along the way, Love will maintain a strong tie to the PGA Tour by taking on another term on the PGA Tour Policy Board, and is expected to be an assistant captain to Jay Haas on the U.S. Presidents Cup team in Korea.

Monday
Feb232015

Lydia Ko Only Missed Eight Royal Melbourne Greens

It's entirely wonky but I don't care: big hat tip to Golf Channel's Michael Breed for highlighting on The Golf Fix the incredible achievement of Lydia Ko, who not only won the Australian Women's Open, but did it missing just eight of Royal Melbourne's elevated, contoured and not-easy-to-hit greens.

After hearing Breed say this on Golf Channel I ran a quick search and sure enough, the trusted Mark Hayes and Martin Blake covered the 17-year-old world No. 1's amazing feat in their post final round notes covering Ko's win.

Lydia Ko hit more greens in regulation than any other player in the field, 64 of 72, which tells you a lot about her method.

Keep in mind that while not a "hilly" course, there is never a flat stance at Royal Melbourne. Many of the greens are elevated, heavily contoured, firm and incredibly fast. After watching PGA Tour pros struggle with Riviera's firmer-than-normal greens, I can only marvel at Ko's consistency at such a demanding course.

Speaking of Ko's win, Fred Woodcock noted this about her addition of body art that some might have noticed during the telecast from Royal Melbourne.

There are the obvious ones, such as prizemoney of about $4 million, the addition of four LPGA Tour wins, a rise from No 4 to No 1 in the world rankings, winning the LPGA Tour's season-long points race, and ditching her spectacles for contact lenses.

And there are the less obvious ones, such as a new Callaway driver (it's going well), some subtle swing changes (they are going well, too), more focus on physical training, and even the addition of some ink on a wrist.

Yes, the teen is "tatted up". The date of her first LPGA Tour win as a pro, at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic in April last year, is now inked on her right wrist.

"My parents were there and I felt like it was a very memorable win so I got that tatted up."

Monday
Feb232015

Fan To James Hahn Before NoTrust Open Playoff: "It's Dustin Johnson, Paul Casey and some other guy."

The golf knowledge of last week's Northern Trust Open fans left a lot to be desired. Pretty much any shot not holed from the fairway earned a light applause (at best), even if it was to three feet on the 240-yard fourth.

Sadly the tournament had nice momentum fan-wise until this year, when fewer everyman's promotions and light local advertising/non-existent local television coverage combined with LA's viewing Super Bowl (the Oscars) to sport tiny crowds. And all at the best spectator viewing course on the PGA Tour. Such a waste, especially with the antics that true golf fans would have found so appealing Sunday.

Either way, the ignorance did have its benefits, as noted by Bill Dwyre in his LA Times wrap of the event. Before the fan ignorance part, there was also this from Hahn, a breath of fresh air who moved from 297th in the world to 86th:

After college, he couldn't make it in golf. So, much of 2006, he sold shoes at Nordstrom in Walnut Creek and Pleasanton.

"I was pretty good at it," he said. "Sold a lot."

He was asked if he is a shoe guy.

"I don't think we can afford Nordstom's," he said. "We are more Foot Locker kind of people."

And there was this from Hahn about his post-round autograph signing and question to a fan, noted by Dwyre and the PGA Tour's DJ Piehowski, and Instagrammed by the tour(!):

A video posted by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on Feb 23, 2015 at 8:06am PST

 

Though Hahn's trophy ceremony speech isn't available, AP's Mark Terrill captured a tremendous image (embedded above) to capture the fun that witnesses said was evident.

Golf Central aired this from the post round presser:

Monday
Feb232015

Butch On State Of Tiger: “I have no idea what biomechanics is"

I read with a hearty chuckle Butch Harmon’s claim that the elite instructor is willing to spend “a couple of hours and give” former pupil and world No. 70 Tiger his opinion. I’ll give you a moment to regroup after letting out a laugh.

Harmon, who has vehemently denied being contacted by Team Tiger in the recent past, told Golf World’s Tim Rosaforte that after 13 years, he’s open to assisting even though he says “Tiger probably wouldn’t ask.”

It’s all nonsense. The band won't be getting back together because neither side can stand the other. But, still worth a read in the context of the forthcoming poll I’ll be posting later today and which I hope you'll contribute to.

Also of note is Karen Crouse’s New York Times story talking to various folks about the future of golf with a wounded or defunct Woods brand.

Of note was this from Mark Loomis of Fox Sports, the entity that paid the USGA handsomely for U.S. Open rights and now faces a future without Woods approaching anything close to his prime. Loomis noted that the post-Jordan NBA is thriving and his point is probably a sound one. Still...

“When we were negotiating the contract, it had been five years since Tiger won the U.S. Open,” Mark Loomis, Fox’s coordinating producer for golf, said, referring to Woods’s last major victory, in 2008. “The good thing about what Tiger has done is there’s been a real influx of young, talented golfers. Our job is to make sure the public is interested in the next wave of players and becomes invested in their stories.”

Monday
Feb232015

Back9 Network "Suspends" Operations

According to an unbylined Hartford Business Journal story, Back9 Network has "suspended operations" due to a "temporary shortfall in capital.

From the item:

"Management and the board of directors are planning next steps and will continue their efforts to secure long-term, operating capital," Back9 said.

A spokesman said Monday morning that the company would not comment further on its situation.
The announcement comes after a slew of challenges the fledgling media company has faced since its programming went on the air at DirecTV in September.

It cut its workforce by 40 percent in late January.

Sunday
Feb222015

Entrepreneur (Tries) To Explain Why Cycling Is The New Golf

The headline is the same old thing we've read ad nauseum over the last few years: "Millionaire entrepreneur explains why cycling — and not golf — is the new sport of choice for young professionals."

Business Insider's Daniel McMahon takes on the various articles pointing to cycling as the new golf for young professionals with money and energy to burn. He profiled PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, who has some fun takes on the difference between the two pastimes.

The sport of choice where deals are made and ideas are thrown around and relationships are forged is definitely traditionally golf. That's where you don't have to sweat — you just walk around with people you like,

Sometimes...go on...

and occasionally pretend like you're doing something physical [...] but it's not very quantified. It's just kind of aim, hit the ball, and pray. I'm sure the skills involved eventually remove the prayer necessity, but it's pretty open-ended.

Apparently he's never heard of a scorecard.

So you have this current generation of young executives, and they're not particularly interested in walking around slowly. They want to do something physical, especially outdoors. They are very quantified, because that's definitely a thing now: It's not so much fitness as they are interested in fitness that they can measure. So the blooming of the Fitbits and Misfits the Jawbones of the world is all about people saying, 'I don't have to go to the gym, feel crappy for an hour, and be thankful that it's over.' You can actually see what you've done. The quantified-self stuff has perforated the popular conscience.

Good thing we have nothing like that in golf!

There's also the combination of quantified and social, and — for better or worse — the showing off of the equipment, which for cyclists is basically road jewelry. For golfers, it's about having clubs of some special alloy or whatever craziness. It's definitely very out of fashion to have an amazing house to show off, at least I feel that. The real-estate showiness is fading, and showing off your fitness and your fitness equipment is increasing.

Sure, cycling is expensive. You can easily spend 20 grand on a bike and full set of kit, but it's easier for me to justify than spending 20 grand on a set of golf clubs I'll never use.

If you spend $20,000 for clubs, I sure hope it's for a couple of foursomes.

Let's face it, golf just doesn't have the allure of corporate logoed-spandex for too many of these young professionals. Or the latte-sipping sessions. Put that way, kind of makes you feel good about golf, doesn't it?

Sunday
Feb222015

James Hahn Salvages The 2015 NoTrust-A-Lead Open

Riviera was tough. Major tough. The firm greens almost reached 13 feet on the Stimpmeter after morning mowings. The poa was turning grey. The old girl required intense precision like never before.

Granted, some of the 2015 Northern Trust Open difficulty came from contrived elements. The fairway widths were down to nothing, with a few laugh-out-loud-to the naked eye landing areas (1, 3, 5, 8, 12, 15, 17, 18), no doubt the club's desperate last attempt to compensate for not getting the U.S. Open it so wanted and won't get by presenting bacon strip fairways.

That said, the rough surrounding those fairways was entirely manageable and rarely the hack-out stuff we saw at Torrey Pines a few weeks ago. But with all sorts of elite and rising players fighting for the lead and a chance at history, the same story of late emerged: elite players unable to hold leads. Or even elite players unable to make 5 on par-5s from the fairway...with a wedge for their third shots.

There is no nice way to encapsulate the 2015 Northern Trust Open antics as anything but a mix of choking and punitive defensive golf wearing the lads down. After three days of defensive golf, names like Garcia, Goosen, Furyk, Singh, Cabrera, Spieth, etc... flirted with taking command but ultimately fell victim to the many perils of Riviera's setup. For lovers of last-car-standing golf it must have been gratifying. But knowing the history of many events at this storied event, the inability for anyone to take hold of Riviera and separate themselves will make James Hahn's win a peculiar one in L.A. Open NoTrust Open lore, salvaged by his clutch playoff birdies to edge Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey.

Mark Lamport-Stokes, writing for Reuters:

Best known for his "Gangnam Style" moves at the 2013 Phoenix Open, James Hahn announced himself to a much wider audience by winning his first PGA Tour title at the Northern Trust Open on Sunday.

Doug Ferguson of AP added an Academy Award component to his lede:

Too nervous to look, too stunned to dance, James Hahn won the Northern Trust Open for his first PGA Tour title Sunday by holing a 25-foot birdie putt on the third extra hole at Riviera.

In a wild finish off Sunset Boulevard just as the Academy Awards was getting started, Hahn wound up with the trophy against a field of far bigger names to earn his first trip to the Masters.

Jason Sobel tries to answer the inevitable question: who is James Hahn?

Hahn was the tournament’s low-budget indie answer to those blockbuster hits. He’s never won a major, isn’t romantically linked to any starlets and didn’t jump straight to the PGA Tour from college.

No, less than a decade ago, this dude was a shoe salesman.

True story.

He was 24 years old and waiting for his golf career to take off. Before it did, he took a job working in the salon shoe section at two Nordstrom’s stores – one in Walnut Creek, the other in Pleasanton.

“I sold a lot of shoes,” he says now with a smile. “I was pretty good at it.”

It won't mean much to non-Angelenos, but back nine leader Sergio Garcia hit quite possibly one of the worst drives I've seen a professional strike in some time, leaving himself 10 paces behind Dave Stockton's infamous drop-kick hit in 1974 with a tiny persimmon driver. Stockton roped a three-wood in to the green and made birdie to beat Sam Snead. (Sergio did see the plaque but as you might surmise, did not stop to read what it said.)

The video highlights...starting with Golf Central's report.

Hahn's gutsy wedge shot and birdie on the second playoff hole that reminded us these guys are good.

And the clutch winning putt from the third playoff hole.

Saturday
Feb212015

Can Retief Goosen Survive One More Day Of Riviera's Major Test?

Since Riviera will never get a U.S. Open again, the ownership that sends governing bodies running for the hills can take heart in watching the 2015 Northern Trust Open field struggle. Retief Goosen's 22-putt third round was a thing of beauty if you enjoy watching persistent patience pay off. Goosen took body blows at the 12th, 13th and 15th, but cashed in with a nifty holed wedge at the 16th followed by an exhibition of his sneaky power in reaching the par-5 17th in two.

As Doug Ferguson writes, that final birdie at 17 meant Goosen made only two back nine pars, leaving the two-time U.S. Open champion at -8 and two clear of Graham DeLaet.  But with U.S. Open style golf the hoped for field separation did not happen Saturday, meaning 13 players lurk within four shots, including Sergio Garcia, J.B. Holmes, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Jim Furyk, Dustin Johnson, Ryan Moore and Angel Cabrera.

The combination of Riviera's greens playing as firm as anyone can remember and speeds around 12.5 feet on the Stimpmeter after mowing means the course has players on the defensive. As happens on such a grueling test, some appear to be imagining trouble that doesn't even exist on Riviera's largely straightforward design.

Goosen's closest pursuer is aware of the continued patience that will be required Sunday. Jason Sobel at GolfChannel.com reports:

On a course he calls the best non-major venue all year, he could be primed for that first victory – not that he’s getting ahead of himself.

“Patience more than anything, not getting ahead of myself,” he said of what he needs to do. “I've slept on either leads or final-group pairings before and I know laying in bed, you're thinking about what a win can do and this and that. I'm past that now in my career.”

The many third round highlights from PGA Tour Entertainment:

Saturday
Feb212015

Video: Sergio Garcia's "Top 3" Recovery Shot

Usually recovery shots aren't worth your time and this one may have been a lot more magnificent in person than it appeared on television. Still, the only thing more shocking that Sergio Garcia's ball dropping down in Riviera's 10th green bunker as Ryan Moore about to play: Sergio pulling off a recovery and par faced with no obvious opening along with a hanging bunker lie. And a three-iron in his hand.

His Northern Trust Open post-third round comments:

Q.  Have you ever had a better 4 than the one on 13?

SERGIO GARCÍA:  Yeah, I would put it in my top three.  I would say so. I've had some beauties I guess.

Q.  Your caddie said you had a 4‑iron out of the trap ‑‑

SERGIO GARCÍA:  3‑iron.

Q.  How would you describe the gap you had to hit?

SERGIO GARCÍA:  Unfortunately I had the TV tower, which if I would have been off the bunker, it would have been nice.  It would have given me a better angle.  But because I was in the bunker ‑‑  if I took full relief off the TV tower I was going to be up against the lip so I had pretty much no shot.

I probably had a couple yards, I would say between the TV tower and the trunk of the tree.  The difficult part about it was that I was in a little bit of a downslope in the bunker, ball a little bit above my feet, having to hit like a low, low cut that went underneath the branchs.  So it just clipped one little branch.

But I was thrilled to, I mean, I would have been happy with five, so four was a bonus.

Adam Sarson Tweeted a drawing to show off just how improbable the par was.


The video:

Saturday
Feb212015

Video: Ryan Moore Almost Aces Riviera's 10th

Ryan Moore came very close to the first par-4 hole-in-one since Andrew Magee at TPC Scottsdale.

Several of you noted that CBS's Ian Baker-Finch criticized the reaction of the ball after clipping the cup. He was referring to the 2009 changes to the hole by the Fazio Design crew that deepened the run-off and which have tainted the hole's reputation this week when combined with the amazingly firm, fast conditions. I wrote about the changes back then.

Anyway, what's done is done. The shot can still be savored: