The construction of hazards, their place in the scheme of the hole, the artistic blending of their contours with the character of the ground and their relation to the scenery as a background are things of the first importance if a harmonious and satisfactory result is to be obtained. TOM SIMPSON
Last month the R&A made history by splitting Saturday tee times for the first time in The Open to ensure the completion of a round in timely fashion. There were also safety matters to consider because of the severity of the forecasted storms, but the move primarily left time in the day should thunderstorms cause a long delay in play.
The unprecedented move was widely applauded, but some lamented the effect on the outcome, sparing Rory McIlroy of having to play a few holes in a downpour or having to wait out what would have been a delay of no more than an hour. Even most of you felt the leaders got a huge advantage.
Sure, Rory was lucky. And he was lucky with tee time draws at The Open and the PGA. But he capitalized on his luck in both. There is little to lament about his victories other than the unsatisfying sense that Sunday’s rushed finish to the PGA was unnecessary.
Many have looked at this from the perspective of Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler. Neither man looked particularly thrilled with the situation for any host of legitimate reasons—too dark, too chaotic, unfair by putting them on the spot, and worst of all, allowing McIlroy to avoid the 18th tee wait they endured. Rory did not have to stand on that imposing 18th tee for the same amount of time under the pressure of a major. And it's a tee shot where he had flirted with the lake multiple times, including that final tee shot.
So instead of focusing on the peculiarity of the situation for Mickelson and Fowler, consider what would have happened if things had gone the other way: McIlroy gets the approval of PGA officials to hit and his tee shot lands in the water. He loses the PGA after playing a brilliant stretch on the back nine. Maybe afterwards he laments rushing the shot even though it was absurdly dark. He realizes in the chaos of the moment he was not set and cost himself a major. All of this was brought on by delays and a rushed finish precipitated in part by late starting times to get the best possible television rating.
The PGA is not alone in this practice. The Masters, USGA and R&A all push the boundaries of sanity with late starts, but the R&A has now shown they are willing to budge to protect the integrity of their tournament. The others have emphasized the late television window and mostly have escaped a disaster.
Mickelson and Fowler stood to the side of the 18th fairway, short of the landing area, while the final pairing teed off.
“We were cool with them hitting the tee shot,” Fowler said of McIlroy and Wiesberger. “We weren’t expecting the approach shots. Typically if it’s getting dark and they are going to blow the horn, you at least get the guys off the tee, and it gives them the opportunity to play.”
McIlroy said the timesaving idea was his. “I suggested that we play up as a foursome,” he said. “Then I was told we could hit right after them. They didn’t need to do that. They showed a lot of class and sportsmanship. If they hadn’t done that, we might not have gotten it in. It was getting really dark out there.”
So yes, it would have been McIlroy's fault if he had lost the PGA after asking to play up the 18th, but the larger point is this: no player should be put in this position or involved in these kinds of decisions at the major championship level.
Hindsight may seem the lazy way out here, but it was clear very early on that the 8:25 am start was too late with a dodgy forecast. If the integrity of the championship supersedes the needs of television, as I believe the PGA of America feels, this was an easy one to prevent by starting earlier.
Begin the round at 7:25 and here's the worst case scenario: forecasted rain doesn't arrive, CBS has to kill an hour after play and the rating isn't quite as high because some Nielsen families aren't lured into watching something interrupting the show they really wanted to watch.
Isn't that scenario always better than having an epic weekend showdown by McIlroy, Mickelson and Fowler tainted by questions about the circumstances surrounding the finish?
Doug Ferguson breaks down Tom Watson's comments from Monday after the PGA and it sounds like the Team USA Ryder Cup Captain is going to take Tiger Woods to Gleneagles unless he hears otherwise from the prospective pick.
"I can't assess his medical condition and I honestly can't assess how he's playing," Watson said. "It really is going to be having to come from information from Tiger himself. But, again, I don't make this comment loosely. He is Tiger Woods and he brings a lot to the team — if he has the ability to play and he's healthy. He brings a lot to the team. And I'd be a fool not to consider him."
He might not be a fool, but considering Woods has not come close to fulfilling Watson's pre-requisite of playing well and appearing healthy, might this reveal that he had planned to take Woods all along? The comments from Watson today sounded much more open to Woods than he did just last week after Tiger had to leave Firestone Sunday before finishing.
The full transcript of the talk is here.
A new opposite field PGA Tour event for Open Championship week.
Some of the press release:
Barbasol Championship to Debut on PGA TOUR in 2015 Tournament near Opelika, Alabama will be held the same week as the British Open
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (August 11, 2014) – A new PGA TOUR tournament sponsored by Barbasol, the No. 1 shaving cream brand in the U.S., will debut in 2015 at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Grand National near Opelika, Ala. A four-year agreement establishing the Barbasol Championship was announced today at the Alabama State Capitol by Governor Robert Bentley and representatives from the PGA TOUR and the Robert Trent Jones Trail Foundation, which will serve as the tournament host organization.
The Barbasol Championship will be held at the Grand National - Lake Course July 13-19, 2015, the same week as the British Open.
“We are excited to announce the creation of the Barbasol Championship and to present an outstanding new playing opportunity for our members beginning next season,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “Barbasol has been a leader in the industry for more than 90 years and we are delighted to forge this new relationship with such an iconic brand. We are equally pleased to partner with the Robert Trent Jones Trail Foundation and to bring this tournament to the renowned Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail and Grand National’s exceptional Lake Course.”
The Barbasol Championship will become part of the FedExCup competition, awarding 300 points to the winner.
“We are extremely pleased to be partnering with the PGA TOUR and the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail,” said Tom Murray, President and CEO of Perio Inc., the parent company of Barbasol. “As we approach Barbasol's 100th year, bringing together two of America’s most respected, iconic brands is further proof of our long-term commitment to expanding our sports partnerships.”
Fivethirtyeight.com's Benjamin Morris looks at a few different stats and presents graphs both fascinating and above my pay grade.
Thanks to reader Steve D for passing along a piece that asserts "McIlroy has built up one of the best starts to a career in modern golf history, essentially matching the Golden Bear through age 25, and each day Woods moves farther away from his prime."
The last three PGA Championship final round overnights: 4.4 2013 (Dufner Oak Hill), 3.9 2012 (Rory Kiawah), 4.3 (Keegan Atlanta). Sunday at Valhalla was up 30% (6.0) according to Deadline (thanks reader Pat). The refusal to move up tee times and finish into east coast prime time was a huge help, as was the dynamic finish.
For Immediate Release from CBS:
ESTIMATED 30.9 MILLION WATCH ALL-OR-PART OF CBS SPORTS’ 2014 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP, UP 30% AND HIGHEST IN 5 YEARS
Estimated 26.3 Million Watch All-or-Part of Sunday Coverage, Up 48% and Highest in Five Years
An estimated 30.9 million viewers (Persons 2+) watched all-or-part* of CBS Sports’ two-day coverage of the 2014 PGA Championship according to Nielsen Media Research, up 30% from last year’s 23.8 million; and up 42% from 21.8 million in 2012 when Rory McIlroy won his first PGA Championship. The 30.9 million was the highest number of viewers to watch all-or-part of the Network’s weekend coverage in five years (2009; 35.7 million).
CBS Sports’ coverage of the 2014 PGA Championship on Sunday, Aug. 10 was viewed in all-or-part by an estimated total audience of 26.3 million (Person 2+), up 48% from last year’s 17.8 million; and up 58% from 2012’s 16.6 million.
This year’s 26.3 million marks the highest number of viewers to watch all-or-part of the Network’s PGA Championship Sunday coverage in five years (2009; 29.0 million; Y.E. Yang won with Tiger Woods finishing second).
CBS Sports’ coverage of the 2014 PGA Championship on Saturday, Aug. 9 was viewed in all-or-part by a total audience of 12.9 million.
Oddly, I don't think this was what he should be remembered for, nonetheless plenty of laughs from a creative genius who leaves us way too soon. Warning, bad words...
A few of the first PGA related reads worth checking out, until I sleep, talk about this wacky day on Morning Drive at 8:10 a.m. ET, and have a chance to do a better wrap up WiFi permitting on the way home.
Dave Kindred on the untidy finish, salvaged by Rory McIlroy.
Todd Lewis on Rory's post-PGA party plans (video), which include no major media appearances in New York, just a few days of fun. What could go wrong for Rory in New York City! Tim Rosaforte also weighs in on Phil Mickelson.
Sam Weinman with a GIF of Rory McIlroy saving the Wannamaker Trophy lid after it slipped off during the hand over from PGA President Ted Bishop.
Jay Coffin on Rickie Fowler actually finding himself disappointed with Sunday's finish after leading at one point.
Rex Hoggard talks to players who were not pleased with the playing conditions Sunday at Valhalla.
SI/golf.com's photo gallery has some stellar shots by Fred Vuich, which also illustrate how dark it go Sunday night.
Dave Shedloski reports on the flak CBS's David Feherty has received for helping Australia's Jason Day find his ball Saturday while battling Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy.
From Shedloski's GolfDigest.com item:
“I got some crap on social media about it, that I shouldn’t have been helping him,” Feherty said, shaking his head. “And then I caught some flak from the Northern Ireland people asking me why I should help Jason against Rory. The reason is because I would help anybody. That’s how we do this in this game. That’s the spirit of it.”
Jay Coffin reports that Rory McIlroy's iPhone password was stolen...courtesy of a CBS camera and translated by the Twittersphere.
As CBS went to a commercial during break late in the delay it showed a clip of McIlroy inside the clubhouse. At the very end McIlroy picked up his iPhone and tapped in his passcode. Within mere seconds Twitter was abuzz with the fact you could tell his passcode was 4589, which happens to be his birthday – May 4, 1989. (Note: Europeans record dates differently than Americans and list it by day, month, year.)
McIlroy got word and sent out a tweet: “Passcode changed… Now time to play some golf!"
Passcode changed... Now time to play some golf! 😉💪⛳️— Rory Mcilroy (@McIlroyRory) August 10, 2014
And Darren Rovell's report on the McIlroy ball from The Open going for a whopping $52,000 at Green Jacket Auctions.
The auction company's co-founder, Ryan Carey, said that the price paid for the ball is the second-highest ever paid for a golf ball, narrowly missing what a collector paid in April 2011 for a vintage Bobby Jones autographed ball ($55,865).
"There was a lot of interest in this ball," Carey said. "We had 22 different bidders from countries across the world, including Ireland, Australia and countries in Asia."
Carey said the buyer wanted to stay anonymous, but did disclose that it was won by an American.
The ball, which has the word "RORS" printed on it, was confirmed to be McIlroy's ball by his sponsor Nike.
**Luke Kerr-Dineen with the mutual admiration society meeting breaking out on Twitter between Rory and Rickie.
As a lot of you have abused my wife over my poorly worded tweet. Best thing is to not tweet. Goodbye for now.— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) August 10, 2014
Poulter assessed his Ryder Cup chances after the PGA final round. Gene Wojciechowski reports.
Mickelson makes a big move, Dufner drops out and likely not on the team due to injury, while Ryan Moore's rough Sunday at Valhalla probably cost him an automatic spot on the team.
Mine is pretty simple: a great finish and performance by the players unnecessarily marred by a silly stubborness to not learn from the 2005 tee time mistake and move the start up from Sunday's 8:25 scheduled beginning.
Your thoughts please...
Valhalla received another downpour Sunday morning, leaving the course even more saturated for a diverse cast of characters to make a run at the year's final major.
With 500 votes, 47% of you think Rory is going to win, 30% think it'll be Rickie and 12% voted for Phil. Looks about right but crazy things happen.
Saturday's third round action will be hard to top, especially with more tucked holes and no apparent freebies like yesterday's fourth hole setup.
Rory McIlroy's finish Saturday helped mask a day of so-so shots, as Derek Lawrenson highlights in his game story focusing on McIlroy's powerful birdies at 16 and 18. Sam Weinman isn't sold that McIlroy will have it easy Sunday. The video isn't available, but Frank Nobilo had some interesting analysis last night on Live From of Rory's post-round "no matter what happens" remarks, which could be taken either as that of a confident golfer willing to put himself on the line, or of someone who isn't quite as confident in his game as the rest of us are. Weather willing, we should know around 6:50 p.m. ET.
Jason Day's second hole par Saturday continues to be the talk of the tournament, as was David Feherty's role in helping him find the ball. Luke Kerr-Dineen with the GIF's of the search and creek crossing. GolfChannel.com with the compilation of Saturday's best, including Day's shot.
I wrote a little about Bernd Wiesberger so you know a little more about this classy Austrian whose third round 65 has him in the final pairing.
John Strege on the Live From guys practically declaring their unrequited love for Rickie Fowler, who does seem due to win one of these after the year he's had in majors.
Phil Mickelson showed up early Sunday and to use that final lesson in the series he bought from Butch Harmon, Golf Channel's Todd Lewis reports. Here's Matthew Rudy on another Phil Mickelson finish to set up a shot at the Wannamaker Trophy. Rex Hoggard thinks the Sunday pairing with Rickie Fowler will be great for both Phil and Rickie.
Separate of the big name leaders, Jeff Babineau notes that Brooks Koepka has another stellar tournament in the book heading into Sunday.
Here's the leaderboard.
Live online video options including marquee group, par-3 and network coverage.
**After more downpours, the current plan as of 2:20 PM ET:
Play will resume at 2:40 p.m. today and the last group will tee off at 4:19 p.m.
Approximately 1 inch of rain has fallen today.
After Bubba Watson was called out yesterday in spectacular fashion by Dave Kindred (and many others in print, online and on Twitter) for his swearing and general moping, the Masters champion declared himself deserving of the criticism. Today at least.
Kindred recounts his chat with Watson today and shares some shocking comments from Watson who, a month ago at The Open, said he pays no attention to the media or golf telecasts.
"I need to be held accountable," he said following a third-round 73 that left him at two-over-par 215. "The Bible says you don't act that way, and I did." So he thanked "all the people on Twitter, all my supporters, and the media. I love it. I'm glad people called me out."
Besides his comments to the media, Bubba took to Twitter to say he was sorry...today. Reports Jason Sobel.
A more exciting than normal Saturday has set up a possible thriller Sunday at Valhalla and while we'd love to see a little more leaderboard separation at this point, golf deserves some excitement.
Here's a simple question...
That's the question I pose and try to answer in this item for GolfDigest.com's The Loop.
Short version...eh, not many tempting qualities, not enough drivers hit, too much reward and not enough risk. And yet, the numbers say otherwise.
After the last two majors seemed over by Friday, the 2014 PGA has the makings of a grand finish with a great mix of players and playing styles atop the leaderboard.
Unfortunately the weather is doing its best not to cooperate, with more rain Saturday morning and misty, humid conditions since.
More chances for thunderstorms are forecast for later. Advantage mudders!
Here's a link to PGA.com live feature group coverage until TNT and CBS start coverage.
Former Tiger Woods instructor Butch Harmon said he was "upset for lack of a better word" with Tiger for continuing on at Valhalla Friday where woods missed the cut. Video accompanies the story where you can see Harmon's comment.
“I was surprised he played the back nine,” admitted Harmon, who formerly coached Woods. “He looked really sore on the front nine; he looked like he was in a lot of pain.
“I think Tiger wanted to show ‘I came here to play, I’m going to finish my round’. Quite frankly he swung at about 70 per cent on the back nine and hit a lot of good shots.
“I hope he goes home and gets healthy and comes back because the game is in a better place when Tiger Woods is at the top of the leaderboard.”
Dave Shedloski's GolfDigest.com reports includes a few stats and Tiger's explanation of his back issues.
He found nine fairways but only eight greens in regulation, which resulted in three bogeys and a double bogey against just two birdies. That’s one more birdie than he scored on Thursday.
“I couldn’t make a backswing,” Woods said. “I can’t get the club back. Coming through is fine [but] … it throws everything off. I can’t get anywhere near the positions that I’m accustomed to getting to.”
Jason Sobel’s report focuses on Tiger’s comments that the re-injury of last week’s issue happened before the round, which does call into question why Tiger didn't have his physio but the bone back in place, as he said happened when he came home. I watched Graeme McDowell receive treatment on the course yesterday, including an odd looking chiropractic move that seemed to help him.
Jeff Rude says Tiger just isn't Tiger anymore.
The back issues make it difficult to analyze the state of Woods’ game. Clearly he needs time to recover from the surgery and the “sacrum” issue.
“I need to get stronger,” he said. “I need to get my glutes strong again, my abs and my core back to where I used to have them. … You can’t develop strength the same time as you are playing a lot. I need to get back in the gym and get stronger.”
His swing is shorter because of the surgery and his timing has been off. His driving and putting aren’t as good as they once were. He has been a shell of himself in the four tournaments he has played since the operation.
I followed Woods on the front nine and some of the backswings were shockingly short, validating his view but also raising questions about why he did not get the treatment that fixed the issue and allowed him to make a recovery from his dramatic Sunday WD at Firestone.
Also, why he continued playing on a severely mounded, muddy, wet course where slipping was all too easy to do, just seemed excessively stubborn, even by Tiger standards. Yes, leaving early would have created a spectacle, but long term there was no need to finish. Then again, as Butch Harmon noted, he played pretty well on the back swinging 70%.
The post-round video:
**John Strege noted the comments of the TNT/CBS crew as Woods appeared injured at times during the second round.
“You’re to the point now, what are you doing, why are you playing?” McCord said. “He’s trying to prove to Tom [Watson, U.S. Ryder Cup captain], I guess, that he’s not hurt. But to me he looks like he’s hurt. He can’t quite get in the FedEx Cup [playoffs] this year. So I don’t really know why he’s doing this at this point. I can’t find one reason why he’s playing.”
Ian O'Connor makes a case saying it's time for Woods to tell Tom Watson he's shutting down for a while, including Ryder Cup week.
Woods should call Watson today, not tomorrow, and tell him to go get 'em in Scotland without him.
This has nothing to do with the fact that Woods isn't exactly Ian Poulter in the Ryder Cup anyway, or that the last time the U.S. beat Europe -- in 2008 here at Valhalla -- Woods wasn't part of the parade; he was recovering from the leg injuries he overcame in beating Rocco Mediate in their epic U.S. Open playoff for his 14th and last major title.
**John Strege on Paul Azinger's reaction to the state of Tiger's game, expressed during a Golf Channel Live From appearance.
“Tiger used to hit those short putts like his life depended on it. And you have to believe that he’s not in the same place mentally that he was. There was a convergence of the physical and the mental. That’s what made Tiger great. He’s gone from the artist to the engineer. And it’s difficult to watch a Vincent van Gogh paint by numbers.
Rex Hoggard on players complaining that the PGA of America decided to play the ball down despite the forecast. Naturally players did not agree.
Play was stopped for 45 minutes just after the first groups set out because the course had become unplayable, and although the rain let up throughout the day the course at Valhalla Golf Club remained soggy.
It was particularly hard for the early starters who had to deal with wet grips as well as mud balls.
“It was so wet to start that it was easy to go bogey, bogey, bogey and your tournament could be over,” Henrik Stenson said. “I was inside watching the early guys and felt for them. They potentially made one or two bogeys out there, and I’m not talking about the players.”
I had mixed feelings on this one. Valhalla was pretty soft after the rains and there was certainly some mud. But it's nice to see a little rub of the green come into play. And besides, it may be the places last defense against players armed with clubs and balls too good for its measely 7,400 yards.
Hard to believe being single and not jetting around the world to watch Caroline Wozniacki lose again in the first round of a tennis tournament was not a positive, but that's what Rory McIlroy says.
Derek Lawrenson reports:
‘I think what happened has been for the better in terms of my golf,’ he revealed.
‘I’ve put a bit more time into it and it has refocused me. I mean, what else do I have to do now?
'I go to the golf course, I go to the gym and it’s just my life at the minute.
'I worked pretty hard before but the past couple of months I’ve really just buried myself in my game. It obviously works pretty well, so I am going to keep doing it.’
**A few reader right complained that the Daily Mail and my headlines were a little exaggerated and I agree. Sorry for any broken links or hearts!
If you watched PGA.com's featured group coverage online or through apps, you know that Bubba Watson lost his puppy dog worse than ever Friday as rain dared to mess with his grip, his clubface (it's wet!) and his mind.
Alex Myers with a round-up of the social media reaction and also the tweeted photo of Bubba caddied teeing up a ball for his boss.
And Dave Kindred considers Bubba's advertised faith and how he behaved Friday.
A 35-year-old grown man from the panhandle of Florida could be making a decent living at long-haul trucking. Instead, this torture. Country clubs, chartered jets, chauffeured Mercedes, million-dollar paychecks. And, sometimes, if you can believe it, he has to do it in the rain. To protect himself from the rain, he once held an umbrella and asked his caddie, Ted Scott, to set his ball on a tee.
After a bad drive early in the round, Bubba said to Scott, and television's boom mikes sent it across America, "It don't matter what I do, man. It don't matter. It's f*cking horsesh*t."
Maybe Noah said something like that in about the 37th day of that storm, and maybe Job expressed himself colorfully after lightning killed his livestock. But some readers of the Bible took to Twitter immediately to say they could not find those words in either the New or the Old Testament. Those twitterers were moved to append hashtags such as: "#quityerbitchin," and "#helpbubbajebus."
Bubba took to Twitter after his round to apologize for his whining.
Sorry for my actions today! Trying to get better as person. Thanks to all who support me. #YallDontGiveUpOnMe— bubba watson (@bubbawatson) August 8, 2014
And the forever legendary shot of caddie Scott teeing up Lord Grantham's tee ball so that he could keep himself dry.