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Almost without exception the old seaside rabbitty turf has disappeared and been replaced by grasses entirely unsuitable for golf. The turf near the clubhouse is usually worse than that farther away as on most seaside links there still remain a few rabbits on the outskirts of the course.  ALISTER MACKENZIE



Factory Worker Cleared For Vacation Time To Play The Open!

Open Championship qualifier and factory worker John Singleton has been given the two weeks off he needs to prepare and play in The Open, reports Rob Pattinson of the Liverpool Echo.

Even better, Singleton's co-workers will get the day off to cheer their man on during Thursday play at Royal Liverpool according to his boss.

Mr Tweddle said: “Because we cut John some slack we thought we ought to cut everybody else some. We gave them a day’s holiday and said if they want to take it on Thursday and go to the Open we would buy them tickets.

“I think John’s still got his feet on the ground, he’s such a nice guy, he really is.

“We have the same passion, if only I could play as well as he can!

“It’s just amazing. Who would ever think that the guy from the shop floor would make it to the pinnacle of his chosen sport? I just hope he enjoys it.”

We talked about Singleton on Morning Drive Monday and what a fantastic story this is in the day of dwindling opportunities for genuine open qualifiers.


Must See TV: Tom Weiskopf On Feherty

I don't usually set the DVR for Feherty because of the 47 Golf Channel replay opportunities, but Tom Weiskopf was on tonight and did not disappoint. Jack Nicklaus made a cameo as well, and wasn't shy in his take on Weiskopf.

Check your local listings for the re-airs. The Feherty page previewing.

Here's a nice four-minute snippet of Weiskopf talking about his father's passing and how it inspired his best year in golf.

Weiskopf's Golf Digest My Shot with Guy Yocom remains a classic.


Ratings: People Are Watching Champions Tour!

Courtesy of Awful Announcing, Son of the Bronx lives on no doubt to the mysterious chagrin of some free marketeers who didn't like seeing his weekly breakdown of ratings.

The number he posts for the week of June 23-29th show more strong numbers for preview coverage, for Tiger's second round at the Quicken Loans National (.6, 807,000 average) and most interesting of all, a nice rating for the near-hour of spillover coverage of the Constellation Senior Players (.3, 477,000 average).

In total viewership for Golf Channel was up 29% (125,000 vs. 97,000) from one week earlier and up 19% (125,000 vs. 105,000) from the same week one year ago.


Golf Pro Abandons Lesson To Save Man From Sinking Car

Thanks to reader Mark for Jenna McMurray's Calgary Sun story on Canyon Meadows Golf and CC head pro Josh Gardner abandoning a lesson to go save a driver in danger of drowning after their minivan plunged into a nearby lake.

Gardner writes:

“I heard a bang and then I saw it go airborne, through the air, right into the middle of the pond,” he said.


Gardner told his students to call 911 and yelled at the driver of the vehicle.

“He wasn’t responding so I just made the choice to go into the water,” he said.

“(The minivan) started to go down, I could see the water level rising in it.”

Gardner even went back in to see if there was a second driver. Now that's courage!


Kostis: "If (Finchem's) holding grudges from the past, then that's a sad state of affairs"

Nice catch by John Strege at The Loop of Chris Elsberry's chat with CBS announcer Peter Kostis about Ken Green's struggle to get in Champions Tour events after a tragic accident, event though he's Green's a valiant competitor who would occasionally add an inspiring story to the geezer tour fields.

Kostis says he's "flabbergasted" that the tour isn't "going to bat" for Green. Elsberry writes:

When asked if he felt that Green was being blackballed by the PGA Tour and specifically by commissioner Tim Finchem for past actions -- Green wasn't exactly a model follower of PGA regulations -- Kostis again shook his head in frustration.

"If (Finchem's) holding grudges from the past, then that's a sad state of affairs," Kostis said. "Ken had his issues ¦ for example, at the Masters, he received a letter of reprimand for having his son caddy for him at the par-3 tournament back in the '80s. Now, that's a staple at the Masters, everyone does it.

"Once, he and Mark Calcavecchia got chastised for skipping balls across the lake at 16 (at Augusta National). Now, everyone does it in the practice rounds. So, the times change and if he's being under-represented because of what he did in the past, then I think that's really small."

This struggle goes back four years when Kostis first wrote about it, and Larry Dorman followed up on the Champions Tour's denial of a major medical exemption for Green.


Video: Cabrera's 175-Yard Hole-Out In Greenbrier Win

It was the shot that ultimately helped him get away from George McNeill and win the Greenbrier Classic, Angel Cabrera's first non-major victory in North America. (Golfweek's Bill Zimmerman with the five big takeaways from the Greenbrier.)

The clip:

And the round highlights from PGA Tour Entertainment:


“I’d be over a putt and she’s going through my head.”

Heartbreaking news from Sunday's Greenbrier Classic where George McNeill somehow posted a 61 and nearly stole the tournament, all while playing with the knowledge that his 46-year-old sister Michelle was about to pass away from cancer.

After finishing his round, the bad news came in a phone call to his mom Dorothy, but mercifully, Angel Cabrera won by two strokes and McNeill didn't have to regroup for a playoff. Still, he hung around to talk about Michelle and his family saga of the last year.

Jason Sobel tells McNeill's story. Don't miss it.


Video: Why Players Fuss With Their Lines Files, Stroud Edition

Chris Stroud attempts to convert a bogey putt at the Greenbrier Classic but rolls over a leaf and pretty much comes to a stop, leaving it six feet. Thankfully he makes the putt for double.

I'm not sure why Mssrs. Faldo and McCord act like this leaf just came out of nowhere when it was visible as Stroud stood over the putt, but either way one of the stronger line obstructions you'll ever see...

The clip posted by PGA Tour Entertainment:

Billy Hurley leads going into the final round with Angel Cabrera trailing by two. Four Open Championship spots to those not already in are also up for grabs. John Raby files the AP game story.

The highlights:


Open Qualifier: "I’m just a production person on a shop floor."

Mark Johnson of the Liverpool Echo files a superb story on shock Open Championship qualifier John Singleton, a 30-year-old factory worker making resin who borrowed a friends wedges and made it to Royal Liverpool.

Tip of the cap to John Strege for catching this in his thrice-daily perusing of the Echo.

The 30-year-old said: “I’m overwhelmed by it all. It’s a great achievement. I never thought that I would play in The Open. It’s not sunk in that I’m going to play in The Open in Hoylake. At a local course to me. I can’t believe it.

“It’s every golfers dream to play in The Open and I thought that it would never happen to me.

“I have Mizuno Irons. I had to borrow two wedges to play at Hillside. I was given them by a friend of mine. That’s crazy in itself to borrow two wedges to qualify for The Open. I have a Taylor Made putter – that’s one of the things that I do own.
“My form just peaked at the right time.”

Singleton will learn tomorrow if his bosses will allow him the two weeks off to play in the major tournament.

He said: “I’m just a production person on a shop floor. I start at 8am and finish at 4.30pm. I make batches of thick resin and I made five batches of it last week. It’s three and a half tonnes per batch. I made five batches last week. It’s a resin that goes over wires and it’s used for water proofing. I was just lucky to get the job and I’ve worked there for over a year.


Royal Liverpool Green, But Not Ridiculously So

Anyone who remembers the 2006 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool or who saw the recent Golf Channel replay knows it was an almost blonde shade (apple cider was how Bill Fields put it in this week's Golf World). We've heard it's lush this year from rains, and the fairways even looked pretty lush in this video showing off the grandstand setup, but based on the photo Tweeted by Rory McIlroy playing an advance round at the Open Championship site, it's not overly green. A little sun and not too much rain could have it dried out enough to be interesting. Maybe not 2006's shade, but at least dry enough for great links golf.


Tom Watson (64) Makes Greenbrier Cut, Again

Jason Sobel with the details and various Sam Snead records within reach should 64-year-old Tom Watson move up the leaderboard this weekend at the Greenbrier Classic.

This is pretty amazing for both men...

At 64 years and 10 months exactly, Watson is still more than two years younger than Snead when he set the record for oldest player to make the cut at a PGA tour event. Snead was 67 years, 2 months and 21 days when he played all four rounds at the 1979 Manufacturers Hanover Westchester Classic.


"Conflict brewing between PGA Tour, caddie association"

Rex Hoggard with the increasingly tense back-and-forth between the PGA Tour and the Association of Professional Tour Caddies over loopers entering into sponsorship arrangements along with other matters.

Letters have been written...

According to the letter, caddies were also told that any potential sponsor that would conflict with an existing marketing partnership the Tour has would also not be allowed; yet players aren’t subject to the same rules. Lee Westwood, for example, has an endorsement agreement with UPS which would appear to be in direct conflict with FedEx which sponsors the circuit’s season-long points race as well as an annual tournament in Memphis.

Officers with the APTC were also told that any sponsorship agreements involving the caddie bib would not be allowed and that the circuit already has an “exclusive agreement” with Nature Valley for headwear, a deal that also includes a “caddie pool” that awards an estimated $500,000 to caddies based on the performance of their player.

“The caddies have not joined in any ‘exclusive agreement,’” the letter read. “Through the Tour’s actions, caddies have affectively been restrained from competition in the marketplace.”


State Of The Game Podcast 41: Bill Fields

Golf World's Bill Fields has published a collection of his favorite work titled Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History. As with my favorite golf anthologies, Fields has put together a diverse menu of players and interesting times in the game to read about. He follows each piece up with a reflection or two, something not often done in some of the older golf anthologies. The result is a valuable addition to any golf library, but also an excellent gift for someone of substance in learning about some of the characters who've played the game.

Bill joined us to talk about his work, the U.S. Open(s) at Pinehurst and other issues in the game. As always you can listen below, on the State of the Game page, via MP3 download, via iTunes or via iTunes subscription.


Video: "The Pinehurst Effect and Collateral Damage"

Randy Wilson's video's are always enjoyable, but his post-Pinehurst summary is particularly fun considering how much golfers continue to debate what they saw over the two weeks at No. 2.

I highly recommend his latest, especially if you know some doubters.

Oh and Wally do check out the comments at the end. Add Randy to the radar!


The Donald Unveils Turnberry Vision; His Hair Turns Back Gust!

Daily Mail Reporter could only focus on the fact his hair is real (duh!), offering this headline: "Not a toupee! Donald Trump gets windblown in Scotland... and his hair stays ON"

The Donald has revealed he’s going with Trump Turnberry for the name of his latest purchase (stunner!) and that it needs his touch. And Peter Dawson's.

Michael McEwan has all the details at Bunkered (thanks reader Bobby), which include carrying out the R&A dream of redesigning the 10th and 11th holes. The Donald wants to re-work the par-3 9th and turn the Turnberrty lighthouse into the ultimate halfway house, too.

Trump also added that the R&A’s chief executive Peter Dawson had recommended he work with renowned golf course architect Martin Ebert on proposed changes to the course. Ebert previously tweaked the Ailsa Course ahead of the 2009 Open and also worked on preparing Royal St George’s and Royal Lytham & St Anne’s for the 2011 and 2012 Open Championships respectively.

Subject to planning consent and the approval of the R&A, the tenth and 11th holes on the Ailsa Course will be the first to change.

The championship tee on the tenth will be moved further back and to the left from its current position – almost to the lighthouse – creating a much more dramatic and daunting tee shot, which will have a carry of over 260 yards to the fairway.

What could wrong with that?


Captain Watson Invites 20 Potential Ryder Cuppers To Play Gleneagles: "About Four Or Five" Accept!

Jason Sobel with Tom Watson's latest thoughts on shaping his 2014 Ryder Cup team for Gleneagles, a task that's not easy as most aren't too keen on trying to pick up local knowledge on a course the Euros know very well.

Reporting from The Greenbrier, Sobel writes about Watson's attempts to get prospective Team USA members to Gleneagles:

“Some of these players, the European players, have played that golf course in competition, played it four, five, six times, maybe 12 times,” Watson surmised. “That's just the way the Europeans pick their Ryder Cup sites. It's usually a site where they've held the European Tour tournament, so their players are more familiar with the golf course for the Ryder Cup.”

Watson knows he can’t replicate playing the course in tournament conditions, but he’s put together a little fact-finding mission next weekend. He invited “about 20” potential team members to join him there next weekend in an effort to acclimate them to the site.

So far, “about four or five” have accepted the invitation.


Hank: "I saw Tiger's drive diminish as early as 2006."

Matthew Rudy with Hank Haney's take on Tiger's quick comeback, now on hold as he vacations prior to The Open Championship.

Haney says...

"A lot of athletes continue to have a lot of drive. I mean, you can't question Peyton Manning's drive," says Haney. "But I saw Tiger's drive diminish as early as 2006. That's speculation and observation, but you can't deny that he doesn't practice as much. It could be because of his kids. It could be because of injuries. It doesn't matter what the because is. It's reality. The question is what happens now."

Woods hasn't said if he'll play again before the British Open July 17-20. He isn't in the field at the Greenbrier this week, which leaves the John Deere and the Scottish Open the week before Liverpool.

"He's basically practiced one week out of the last six months," says Haney. "Tony Romo had the same surgery in December, and he told me that Tiger would come back much quicker than anybody thought because his core was so strong. But Tiger said last week that his swing wasn't explosive yet because he hadn't been able to do some of his weightlifting program. That means he still has some restrictions."

Bob Harig suggests at that Woods add the Scottish Open before the deadline, as have others. But does Tiger have the drive to play a new (and really sensational links) course and do it a week before The Open, breaking his routine of coming in on the Sunday prior?


Day Of Firsts: Harding Park Gets Its Major, PGA's Unite! 

The Kumbaya vibes were off the charts as the PGA Tour, PGA of America, the San Francisco Mayor's office and everyone else with a hand in the deals harrumphed all things Harding Park. Confirmation came of a 2015 WGC Match Play, a 2020 PGA Championship and a 2025 Presidents Cup, assuming that last event hasn't succumbed to the diseases of Korea and Liberty National and whatever almost ideal place they take the Cup.


"Today is an announcement of a lot of firsts," Finchem said during Wednesday's ceremonies. "The first time that the PGA TOUR and the PGA have announced a series of events that are coordinated in this kind of fashion. It's the first time that these three particular events will be played at the same venue."

“TPC Harding Park is a world-class facility and San Francisco is a mecca of the best sports, cultural and entertainment events the world has to offer, so today’s exciting announcement only serves to further the City’s stature in that respect, and is a wonderful extension of our long-standing partnership with the PGA TOUR,” Lee said.

Ron Kroichick explored the possibility of the Match Play becoming a regular thing and the city sounded skeptical it could handle the excitement, while the PGA Of America hopes to make Harding a once-a-decade stop if things go well. First off though, getting Mayor Lepetomaine to get the tournaments straight would help.

Today’s news conference survived one awkward moment, during Mayor Ed Lee’s opening remarks. He referred to the “Players Championship,” not the PGA Championship, coming to Harding in 2020. Casual fans might not realize the difference, but Lee’s misstep caused PGA of America president Ted Bishop — standing only a few feet away — to squirm.

While I didn't see a month mentioned for the 2020 PGA and no one cares about the 2025 Presidents Cup, the match play timing could have been interesting but now (thankfully) appears to be a one-off.

David Scott explains how the Wells Fargo Championship and host Quail Hollow will go after The Players in 2015 to accomodate a one-time match play in May.

It is unclear when the Match Play, which will take place at San Francisco’s Harding Park municipal course April 29-May 3 2015, will be scheduled in future years.

The switch means the Wells Fargo will be played the week after the Players Championship, the tour’s most prestigious non-major tournament, rather than the week before the Players as it has since 2007.
Hougham said he didn’t expect the change to adversely affect the Wells Fargo’s field.

“It just means there are going to be three great weeks of golf – the Match Play, the Players, the Wells Fargo – leading up to the U.S. Open,” said Hougham.

Commissioner Moonbeam made pretty clear that May 2015 is a one-time deal for the Match Play and that  anchoring the West Coast Swing is still the priority, as it should be for the health of the swing that gets the biggest ratings and needs the Match Play to cap off the early part of the season.

Jeff Rude had all sorts of good stuff in this roundup of the announcement, including this about the robust month of May, 2015.

2. The May schedule on the 2015 PGA Tour is so packed with important tournaments, there’s no way everyone can be happy, particularly when considering the European Tour’s flagship event (BMW PGA) is in the mix. Not that anything this side of inner peace or free money can make everyone happy.

It has been held on Week 8 of the Tour schedule, ending the West Coast Swing. The Tour is said to want to return to that date again starting in 2016.

Kroichick also explored how all of this came together and as with most things in high-level golf, good wine, great views and a politician's visit went to their heads. Oh, and the awareness that it’s really time to stop taking the PGA Championship to midwest sweat boxes.

They joined tour executives for dinner in May at Epic Roasthouse, along the Embarcadero. The group sat outside on a warm, glorious night and talked about Harding’s revival. Pete Bevacqua and Kerry Haigh, high-ranking officials from the PGA of America, had seats facing the bridge. The mayor stopped by to say hello.

Meetings the next day included views of the Golden Gate Bridge on another sparkling spring day. Then came a drive on the Great Highway, to take a first-hand look at the course.

It's a romantic comedy! Execs drink, dine, see the sun in San Francisco, drive PCH and get hitched with Harding Park. Coming to a theater near you in May, 2020.

As for the format, this story tells us what we mostly already knew, with some clarifications:

Going forward, the 64-player Match  Play Championship field will be divided into 16 four-player groups. Each group will play round-robin matches within their group on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The player with the best record in each of the four groups advances to the Round of 16 for single-elimination match play (in the event of a two-way tie in a group, head-to-head results will be used as the tiebreaker; a three-way tie will require a sudden-death playoff). The Round of 16 will be played Saturday morning, followed by the Quarterfinals Saturday afternoon. The Semifinals will be Sunday morning, followed by the Championship Match and Consolation Match on Sunday afternoon.


Happy 100th To The Eden Course!

Though just eleven of H.S. Colt's original holes remain on St. Andrews' Eden Course, it's still a lovely place to play or tee off from every five years when The Open is played on the Old Course.

Big thanks to reader Brian for Laurie Watson's wonderful look back at the creation of the course and opening day 100 years ago on July 2, 1914.

The land for the course was owned in part and leased from Mr Cheape of Strathtyrum House. The Town Council leased two fields adjoining the Goods Railway Station, where the sheds on the 17th are today plus three fields to the north of Pilmour Cottage and on the northside of the railway. The final agreement which was set out in writing on papers dated the 7th and 10th of November 1913, was to last for 25 years. For the land the Council paid Cheape £130 per annum.

As part of the agreement Cheape and his tenants were allowed to graze their sheep on the course. He also reserved the rights to shoot for game, be it rabbit or hares, ‘subject to the shooting being exercised in such a way as shall not interfere with the use of the fields for purposes of a golf course.’

Okay, so Mr. Cheape having one out of two wasn't bad. Oh how Dr. MacKenzie was right about the rabbits!

And oh how we wish we could have been there for this moment:

For the construction, the Town Council set aside £3,000. Mr C.D Harris of Sunningdale was taken on to manage the construction but as part of his contract he had to employ local labour.  Golf course architect Mr Harry S. Colt was a member of the R&A and was deemed the right man for the job.

The Eden officially opened on 2 July 1914 after storm clouds cleared away in time for the opening ceremony. All the local dignitaries including Provost Herkless were there and course designer Harry Colt. The Provost spoke first saying that golf had been played in St Andrews for centuries and that the Old Course remained the first and greatest of courses in the world. His words were greeted with applause.


R.I.P. Errie Ball

The man who saw everyone from Harry Vardon to Tiger Woods and was the last living person to have played in the first Masters, died Wednesday morning at 103.

John Strege with the details and links to some nice past stories on Ball.

Golf Channel producer Scott Rude put together a superb profile of Mr. Ball earlier this spring.

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