Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    by Jim Moriarty
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    by Richard Gillis
  • The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event โ€“ A Complete History
    The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event โ€“ A Complete History
    by Martin Davis
  • A Life Well Played: My Stories
    A Life Well Played: My Stories
    by Arnold Palmer
  • Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    by Kevin Robbins
  • Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    by Ken Bowden

The caddie in golf occupies a position accorded to the attendants in no other game and paralleled only by the relationship of squire to knight in the lists.  ROBERT BROWNING

 

  

Wednesday
May312017

Jack Welcomes PGA Championship Move To May, Floats Muirfield Village As PGA Option

ESPN.com's Bob Harig on Jack Nicklaus' extensive comments endorsing a Players move to March, a PGA Championship to May and the end of the golf season by Labor Day weekend.

Interestingly, in the remarks I saw, Mr. Nicklaus suggested much of the decision-making at this point is in PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan's court, not the PGA Of America's.

Harig writes:

That would make The Open the last major championship and would clear the way for the PGA Tour to conclude its season earlier by moving its FedEx Cup playoff series, with the idea of finishing by Labor Day.

"To do that, [Monahan] has many moving parts,'' Nicklaus said. "But he wanted us to know he wasn't going to slight us in any way, he wants to encourage us and promote us.''

Nicklaus noted the "dismal" Tour Championship ratings and endorsed the new order of the majors, including the tighter window for play.

"It would bring the majors a little closer together,'' he said. "April [Masters], May [PGA], June [U.S. Open] and July [The Open]. I think that's good, too.''

In a suggestion that we could end up with only May PGA Championships in Olympic years, Nicklaus said he has discussed swapping out a Memorial for a PGA with the five families.

Nick Menta writing for GolfChannel.com:

If Muirfield were to host a future PGA, that would necessitate either a temporary change of venue for the Memorial or, as Nicklaus brought up himself, “a year off.”

“If we took a year off the Memorial Tournament, I’m not sure I’d want to do that or not. I’m not sure that’s what we want for our brand, our tournament. But whatever is best for the game of golf and however it works, I’m more than happy to about it and try to do it.”

Pressed on the issue of a PGA Championship at Muirfield later on, Nicklaus clarified, “I said we would consider it.”

Wednesday
May312017

Nicklaus Blames WD's On Entourages, Money

AP's Doug Ferguson reports on Jack Nicklaus's pre-Memorial remarks on player withdrawals due to injuries.

Asked about Rory McIlroy's entry into the 2017 Memorial only to WD to rest an injured rib, Nicklaus said...

“You think I had any injuries when I played? Do you think Arnold had any injuries when he played? Do you think Gary had any injuries when he played? How many tournaments do you think that we entered that we withdrew from during the course of our career?” Nicklaus said.

He put his forefinger to his thumb to signal zero.

“Never entered if I wasn’t going to play,” Nicklaus said.

After mentioning the money in the game, there was this gem about entourages.

“Would they withdraw back 30 years ago? Probably not, because that wasn’t the norm,” Nicklaus said. “We played through it. We had a ton of injuries and I played through it. But that’s sort of the norm today. And the guys … I made my own decisions. I didn’t have an entourage. I didn’t have a fitness trainer. I didn’t have a nutritionist, whatever you all have, somebody to cut my toenails in the morning.

Zing!

"I didn’t have any of that. I did that myself.

“I think that entourage helps make that decision for the player, telling them, ‘We think physically this is probably not right for you to play.’ And that’s what their job is,” Nicklaus said.

Tuesday
May302017

Tiger Faces Legal Issues, Mounting Sympathy

On Morning Drive, Tim Rosaforte reported to Gary Williams that Tiger's DUI arraignment has been set for July 5 and also includes a charge of improper parking.

Besides being asleep at the wheel of his parked 2015 Mercedes, the police reports says his car featured two flat tires and damage to the vehicle. TMZ also features this timeline of erroneous reporting on their end, with splashes of possibly accurate tales.

Brian Wacker at GolfDigest.com talks to lawyers about Tiger's options and much depends on test results.

Given the 41-year-old Woods’ lack of a criminal record (he was cited for reckless driving in the infamous 2009 crash into a fire hydrant outsidehis then-Orlando home), his standing in the community, his cooperation with authorities—which included submitting to a urine test—it seems plausible, according to those contacted by Golf Digest, that the charges could get knocked down to lesser offense. Also working in Woods’ favor is the fact that twice he blew a 0.00 when given a breathalyzer after his arrest.

In more analysis of the situation, the sympathy continues for Woods. Rex Hoggard writing for GolfChannel.com:

Only time and an ongoing police investigation will tell if Woods’ version of the events on Monday dovetail with reality, but the mountain of evidence released on Tuesday suggests that Woods made a mistake – a terrible mistake, but a mistake, nonetheless. And not only did he do so, but in a complete break from the norm it appears he has owned that miscue, no excuses, no qualifiers, no subterfuge.

“I understand the severity of what I did and take full responsibility for my actions,” Woods said in a statement. “What happened was an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications. I didn't realize the mix of medications had affected me so strongly.”

Ian O'Connor of ESPN.com is longing for different times.

Yet here we are with Woods in the middle of another ungodly mess of his own design. Some are reveling a bit in his latest downfall, and perhaps that's the price Tiger has to pay for wearing that invisible yet very clear "Do Not Disturb" sign around his neck while becoming the world's most recognizable athlete.

But we all get into the business of watching and caring about sports for a simple reason: We want to see athletes do things physically that were once thought impossible. Their warmth and generosity of spirit along the way is merely a bonus, not a prerequisite.

So yeah, I'd like to see Woods find his way home sooner rather than later. So what if he has spent most of his career as a taker instead of a giver. I just want to fully appreciate the artist at work one last time, in one last tournament, on one last Sunday.

Michael Bamberger of Golf.com suspects Tiger doesn't know what to do with himself these days.

Every chance he gets, Woods talks about the role he plays in his the life of his son and daughter and what it means to him. It's moving and telling. But few 41-year-old men want to be a fulltime dad and nothing else. Woods used to have golf to fill his time, to give him drive, to let him exercise his vast competitive urge. For now, anyway, he doesn't. Still, the time must be filled. Tiger Woods faces the challenge we all do: how to fill that time productively. The answer to that difficult question for him now seems more pressing.

Tuesday
May302017

Beef Qualifies; 23 WD's At Europe's U.S. Open Qualifier

A European Tour story at USOpen.com details how the first U.S. Open sectional went at Walton Heath and in a tradition unlike any other, 23 Euros couldn't be bothered to finish.

Longtime readers know I'm a bit of a WD at Walton Heath connoisseur, so it was nice to see that the current generation is just as disrespectful as recent years when the number usually hovers around 24 WD's.

But please, give a scroll of the scores to take note of those who finished and to the qualifiers that included Richie Ramsay, Alexander Levy, Eddie Pepperell, Andrew Johnston and Thomas Aiken among others.

Well done to all finishers!

Tuesday
May302017

Video: Jack On Tiger, "He needs all our help"

Jack Nicklaus' Tuesday press conference at the Memorial was vintage Jack, but the Tiger DUI situation and state of Tiger's health even has the Golden Bear struggling for answers. He still gives it his best.

The video:



Tuesday
May302017

NCAA Men's Final Set: Oklahoma V. Oregon

The passion of match play has once again made both men's and women's NCAA viewing a real joy for those of us who can have a television on all day. A big tip of the cap to Brandt Packer's Golf Channel crew for all of the great reaction shots, aerial footage and NCAA coverage.

How good was Tuesday's action?

The Nike Star Trek line sported by Oregon, Vanderbilt and others is actually growing on me.

Then again, it helps to see the clothes in school colors instead of the Best Pastels of Key West.

While the Ducks are the defending champs, Oregon's unlikely ascension to the final versus Oklahoma comes after they barely made the team match play portion of the proceedings. Brentley Romine with the Golfweek.com roundup of Oregon defeating Vanderbilt 3-2 and Oklahoma defeating home state hosts Illinois 3½ - 1½ to deprive us of a Pac-12 v. Big 10 match.

Golf Central's highlights of Oregon's win.

And highlights of OU's win over Illinois.

Lance Ringler previews the final match, including the potential decider between each teams' stars:

Match 5: No. 98 Brad Dalke (Oklahoma) vs. No. 366 Sulman Raza (Oregon), 3:50 p.m. ET

Kevin Casey at Golfweek profiles Raza, star of last year's championship match who has struggled as a senior.

And Beth Ann Nichols tells us more about Dalke, who was a finalist in last summer's U.S. Amateur and whose family has incredible ties to OU athletics.

Wednesday's final coverage goes like this on Golf Channel Wednesday:

Golf Central Pre Game        1:30-4 p.m. ET
Championship Match           4-8 p.m. ET
Golf Central                          8-9 p.m. ET

Tuesday
May302017

Video: Erin Hills Seventh Hole Flyover

The 2017 U.S. Open's 607-yard seventh covers some rolling terrain and promises to offer some unlevel stances along with opportunities to reach in two shots.

Fourteen bunkers dot the landscape, yet the green isn't heavily protected by sand. The green is enormous.

The Erin Hills flyover better captures the contours, while the USGA flyover better captures the green and surrounds thanks to some nice drone work.

 

 

Tuesday
May302017

ESPN To Revisit Practice That Improved Tiger's Mugshot

You might have seen my Tweet and many others expressing surprise at the haircut and sudden glow Tiger took on when ESPN posted his DUI mugshot in their lefthand sidebar.

Cork Gaines at BusinessInsider.com explains why the tidying up occurred and chalks it up to unintentional and "sloppy" work.

When selecting part of an image in Photoshop to move it to a different background, the most popular methods are the "lasso" tool, which allows the user to select the portion he or she wants by simply drawing a freehand line, or the "magnetic freeform pen," which is similar to the lasso but assists the user by having the line "stick" to edges.

One problem with the magnetic pen is that it struggles with areas in which there is not a distinct line. In this GIF, I attempt to select Woods' head with the magnetic pen. If not being careful, the pen will easily skip over the thin areas of hair.

Now, that doesn't quite explain the glow Tiger took on, including some nice face smoothing.  Either way, ESPN issued this statement to make clear it's probably not happening again.

“We have utilized a standard template for on-air headshots, which led to the background being dropped for consistency. We will revisit this process to improve it going forward.”

The episode was brought up by Liz Claman of Fox Business News when talking to Brad Faxon about Tiger. Claman seemed to be almost gleeful to have found prime "fake news" but made a fool of herself by interview's end. Seems Claman is covering the U.S. Open in two weeks on site, but still asked Faxon if Tiger would be playing. Faxon's surprise is priceless but because he's a pro's pro, Faxon calmly points out that Tiger's recent back surgery will preclude such an appearance.

Tuesday
May302017

Southern Hills Lands PGA TBD, Senior PGA

The PGA of America is returning to Southern Hills in a big way, awarding the Senior PGA in 2021 and a PGA Championship some time between "now and 2030." The uncertain timing suggests the venue is on standby as a possible replacement course should the PGA Championship move to May, or should they choose to replace an upcoming venue for any other reason. The intrigue!

Too late to replace Bellerive next year? Sorry...

For Immediate Release:

PGA of America to Conduct PGA Championship and KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (May 30, 2017) – The PGA of America announced today that it will host two different major championships at Southern Hills Country Club, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, between now and 2030.

Southern Hills will host the 2021 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship—the most historic and prestigious major championship in senior golf—and also will be the venue for a PGA Championship no later than 2030.

This will be a record fifth time that Southern Hills has staged the PGA Championship, one of golf’s four men’s major championships. In 2021, the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, the most historic event in senior golf, will make its second visit to Oklahoma as it debuts at Southern Hills.

Founded in 1936, Southern Hills has hosted seven previous major championships, beginning with the 1958 U.S. Open won by Tommy Bolt through Tiger Woods’ PGA Championship triumph in 2007, when he captured the Wanamaker Trophy for a fourth time.

Southern Hills also hosted the 1970 PGA Championship (won by Dave Stockton), 1977 U.S. Open (Hubert Green), 1982 PGA Championship (Raymond Floyd), 1994 PGA Championship (Nick Price) and 2001 U.S. Open (Retief Goosen).

“Few American golf venues match the legacy and record of excellence of Southern Hills Country Club,” said PGA of America President Paul Levy. “Some of our sport’s greatest names have walked these fairways and etched their name in major championship history. The PGA of America is proud to once again connect with Southern Hills, its membership and the great sports fans of Oklahoma. We are confident Southern Hills will continue to attract respective world-class fields for both the PGA Championship and the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.”

With the announcement, Southern Hills’ history of hosting major golf championships will encompass more than 80 years. Southern Hills will also become the 13th venue to host both a PGA Championship and a KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.

“We’re thrilled to again partner with the PGA of America and host a pair of championships of this caliber,” said Southern Hills President Craig Bothwell. “Major championship golf is a part of Southern Hills’ heritage, but we could not make this happen without the unending support of our dedicated membership, the sporting passion of the greater Tulsa community and the welcoming spirit of our proven volunteer network.”

The PGA Championship is the only all-professional major in men’s golf. It began in 1916, just months after the birth of the PGA of America and today features one of the deepest international fields in golf. Since 1994, it has perennially featured the most top-100 players in the Official World Golf Rankings of all golf Championships.

The KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, which will celebrate its 82nd edition in 2021 at Southern Hills, was born in 1937 at Augusta National Golf Club, three years after the first Masters Tournament. The KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship is the most prestigious event in the game for PGA Members age 50-and-older.

The current future sites list:

              2017         Quail Hollow Club, Charlotte, North Carolina

              2018         Bellerive Country Club, St. Louis, Missouri

              2019        Bethpage Black, Farmingdale, New York

              2020        TPC Harding Park, San Francisco, California

              2021         The Ocean Course, Kiawah Island (South Carolina) Golf Resort

              2022        Trump International Golf Club, Bedminster, New Jersey

              2023        Oak Hill Country Club, Pittsford, New York

              2024-30* Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa, Oklahoma
              * Date to be announced

Tulsa World's Facebook Live of the press conference:

Monday
May292017

Video: Erin Hills Sixth Hole Flyover

A 208-yard par-3 with multiple teeing grounds, the sixth plays to a green sloping slightly away from the player.

The USGA website suggests front holes will be played from the shorter tees.

The sixth hole original included a Dell option hole that was eliminated.

The flyover:

 

Monday
May292017

Ole Miss' Thornberry Wins NCAA Individual Title, Eight Teams Set

Fittingly, the 2017 NCAA men's individual title was captured by a five-time winner this season who had the season's lowest scoring average.

Beth Ann Nichols
of Golfweek.com on Braden Thornberry, whose unorthodox move scared off a lot of coaches but who used it to edge Arkansas freshman Mason Overstreet for the victory.

Alabama coach Jay Seawell was recruiting at the Future Masters in Dothan, Ala., when someone suggested he go watch this kid from Mississippi. Seawell took a look at 11-year-old Braden Thornberry, noted the uniqueness of his golf swing and thought “that probably won’t last.”

“Boy were a lot of people wrong,” said Seawell. “He’s the real deal.”

The winning putt:

 

#HottyToddy!!! @olemissathletics' @tberrygolf is the #NCAAGolf Men's Individual Champion!

A post shared by Golf Channel (@golfchannel) on May 29, 2017 at 6:05pm PDT

 

The low eight teams from the team stroke play/individual national championship advance to match-play competition starting Tuesday, and as Kevin Casey writes for Golfweek.com, it was a grind for nearly all due to wind, pressure and a tough golf course.
 
The final eight, with a full roundup from Golfweek's Lance Ringer (including predictions and matchups):

Vanderbilt
Oklahoma
Illinois
Oklahoma State
Oregon
Southern California
Baylor
UNLV

Quarterfinal Matchups:

Vanderbilt vs. UNLV
Oklahoma vs. Baylor
Illinois vs. Southern California
Oklahoma State vs. Oregon

Golf Channel / NCAA Tuesday airtimes:

Quarterfinals – Team Match Play       11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. ET
Semifinals – Team Match Play           4-8 p.m. ET

Monday
May292017

Sad: The Operative Word In Assessments Of Tiger's Latest Episode

There is no other way to characterize Tiger's latest driving mishap but sad.

He is blaming the DUI on prescription medication issues and not on alcohol. According to this AP story, that position could be verified as soon as Tuesday when a toxicology report may be released. Tim Rosaforte reported a similar possibility for GolfChannel.com.

Tiger issued this statement, writes USA Today's Steve DiMeglio. The full statement denying he was under the influence of alcohol:

There are other stakes for Woods, including possible loss of driving privileges and imprisonment. From a MorningRead.com staff report:

Under Florida statute 316.193, a first offense for DUI carries a fine of $500-$1,000 and up to six months’ imprisonment.

Celebrity website TMZ.com, citing unnamed law-enforcement sources, said Woods was driving a 2015 Mercedes-Benz “erratically, all over the road,” adding that he was “arrogant” during the stop and refused to take a Breathalyzer test. Under Florida’s “implied consent” law, that refusal would trigger an automatic license suspension.

Jaime Diaz writes that the saddest part of an increasingly sad story may be the news that many would be shocked by the arrest. Nor will they be surprised if his approach to recovery is less than pretty.

It would seem unlikely that Woods will publicly be forthcoming about his inner life, including this latest ordeal, even though some professionals in the mental-health field would advise him that it would be productive. If he follows precedent, after an initial statement he and his camp will never voluntarily mention the DUI, and hope that if and when Woods begins playing competitively again, public curiosity will have dissipated, and even transformed from condemnation to sympathy and forgiveness. Especially, as has been the pattern, if Woods gives indications that he can play well again. His historical greatness is such that the majority of those who love golf will continue to hope that he can again exhibit a genius the game has arguably never seen.

I'm saddened that this is who an entire generation will remember, not the great athlete who gave us so many thrills. Throw in the modern day recency bias and his latest mishaps, and it's hard not to conclude his legacy is tarnished. In an open letter to Woods for Golfweek.com, I suggest that maybe playing the legacy card is a way for those around him could help him change course.

Ryan Lavner also plays the sad card, noting...

Sad because one of the most recognizable athletes on the planet has been reduced to this new low.

Sad because the most dominant golfer ever has been betrayed by his body, and undone by his ego, and his competitive future is a mystery.

Sad because he needs support, and guidance, and it’s unclear who will provide it.

Sad because he has meant so much to so many, because he has touched so many lives, and his fall from grace has been staggering.

Jason Sobel for ESPN.com:

Look at those sunken eyes in that mugshot and we no longer see the mercurial golfer who once seemed so invincible inside the ropes. There often was debate during his prime over whether Woods intimidated his opponents. He wasn't just better than them, the argument stated, he also was tougher. It's difficult to beat a guy who holds not just a physical and technical advantage over the field, but a mental one, as well.

This, though, is Woods at his most vulnerable. It is an image he never wanted to portray to anyone, let alone the entire, gawking world. And it's a sad one, the very portrait of a man who has made mistakes.

Monday
May292017

Tiger Woods Arrested For Driving Under The Influence

WPBF's Terry Parker Tweeted the mugshot and arrest report.

Notah Begay and Mark Rolfing discussed the news on Golf Central. Both were admirably honest about their pasts and hopes that this sets Tiger on a new course.

ESPN ran Tiger's mug shot through a glow filter, combed his hair and trimmed up his beard for their lefthand stories list.


But did run the full shot eventually.

Monday
May292017

Video: Erin Hills Fifth Hole Flyover

The 505-yard par-4 5th features width and classic strategy: turn it over and open up a better view of the green. Bail out right and lengthen the hole/lose visibility.

The width is more evident in the Erin Hills flyover below, though the USGA flyover (not embedable) shows off the hole in better light.

The flyover for this year's U.S. Open 5th hole:

Sunday
May282017

2017 U.S. Open Prognosticating Gets A Little Easier After Wentworth, Colonial

Whew!

If we went another week without some names showing signs of life headed to Erin Hills, the hardest prognostication U.S. Open was not going to get any easier. But, after some pre and post Masters lulls, we can see glimmers of great hope in Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson and yes, Kevin Kisner's game. The Memorial this week should also give us insights into the likes of Day, Johnson, Matsuyama and Mickelson. But first, in Europe...

Noren, four-time winner last year on the European Tour, notched his biggest win yet at the BMW PGA, reports Golfweek.com's Alistair Tait. His stunning final round 62 capped off a nice start to the Pelley/Wentworth era that saw smooth greens and some weird leaderboard twists ultimately crystalize with some of the field's biggest names contending.

Noren's epic 18th hole shot:

A post shared by European Tour (@europeantour) on May 28, 2017 at 7:14am PDT


 And the scorecard for what he says is the best round of his life:

Course record โœ๐Ÿผ #BMWPGA #RolexSeries

A post shared by European Tour (@europeantour) on May 28, 2017 at 7:20am PDT

At Colonial, Kevin Kisner held off a fun array of players (Spieth, Rahm, Simpson) and styles to win the a very entertaining Dean and Deluca. Not only did the historic venue and leaderboard help, but CBS seemed especially on its game with production values and announcing. 

Dan Kilbridge at Golfweek.com with a quick roundup here of the finale that gives Kisner a second tour win just weeks after a near-miss at the Zurich Classic.

Kyle Porter grades the contenders for CBSSports.com, especially helpful if you're starting to narrow down your U.S. Open selections.

The final round highlights:

 

Saturday
May272017

Euro Tour Chief Anticipates PGA Championship Move, Agrees BMW PGA Would Work Well In September

European Tour Chief Keith Pelley visited Rich Lerner and Frank Nobilo during round two of the 2017 BMW PGA and mostly talked his new "product" geared at the kids.

“But golf needs something else, it needs something to attract a younger generation.”

At the 11:00 mark he is asked about the possible impact of a Players/PGA Championship switch on his tour and, specifically, the BMW PGA.

If in fact if the PGA Championship moved to May, which I anticipate that it will, we will have to look where is the best fit for the BMW PGA Championship. But obviously we would do everything around the majors.

Nobilo then made the case for early autumn at Wentworth and Pelley agreed that the conditions would be ideal, but lightly walking back how well the technology of maintenance now makes the current date fine, too. But it was pretty apparent that the European Tour sees an an ideal early fall slot for this event.

The full interview:

Friday
May262017

Obama Plays The Old Course, Checks Out The Claret Jug

Looks like the former President had a grand day on the Old Course.

Note in the Swilken Bridge shot and post-round images how many people are encircling the Home green. BTW, nice outfits from the playing partners!


And checking out the Claret Jug, and given that he's in St. Andrews, this may be the Royal and Ancient clubhouse version (which is the oldest version).

Even @BarackObama is in awe of the Claret Jug!

A post shared by The Open (@theopen) on May 26, 2017 at 9:16am PDT

Anyone know the golf book he's got in hand?

 

Check out the crowd...

 

Friday
May262017

Video: Erin Hills Fourth Hole Flyover

The 439 yard par-4 fourth is heavily bunkered and features an uphill approach with trouble long.

The Erin Hills flyover:

 

Thursday
May252017

Thomas Pieters Will Soon Be Getting A Keith Pelley Gift Basket

Opening with a 68 at the star-depleted BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, one of Europe's rising stars suggested it was a no brainer for him: BMW PGA over The Players.

Thomas Pieters, who skipped The Players to take 7 weeks off with a brief stop at the Zurich Classic, is rested and ready to win the European Tour's biggest event, reports The Telegraph's James Corrigan.

Asked which tournament he would prefer to win, Pieters was unequivocal.

“This one,” he replied. “Why? Because this is our tour, and I look at the history of this event with Seve [Ballesteros] and everything. I see this tournament as the next biggest to the majors. It would mean a lot to be the champion here.”

How Keith Pelley, the European Tour chief executive, would have loved those words.

Thursday
May252017

South Africans Give And Take: Els Penalizes Self, Grace Takes Bold (Referee Sanctioned) Drop

It's never dull with Ernie Els at Wentworth, who turned a 69 into a BMW PGA first round 71 by penalizing himself for not replacing a possible plugged lie properly.

Will Gray for GolfChannel.com on Els' guilty conscience.

"Under the rules you try and put it back the way you think it should be, but I still felt uncomfortable with it, so we took a two-shot penalty," Els said. "I know deep down the ball wasn't quite where it should be and I wouldn't be able to live with myself."

The incident getting more attention involved Els countryman Branden Grace, who took relief from bunker wall material when he had a buried lie. Alistair Tait reports for Golfweek on the drop approved by American official Mark Hill and criticized by commentators and players

Paul McGinley criticized Grace’s action during television commentary and afterwards. “It was ridiculous,” McGinley said. “If you twist your feet enough you’re bound to eventually reach the bunker lining. That means anytime a player wants relief from a poor lie he can simply twist his feet until he reaches the bunker lining. That can’t be right.”

Danny Willett took to twitter to complain. He tweeted: “@EuropeanTour please explain that drop?! Burying feet enough in to get to the base of the bunker???”

Fellow Englishman Daniel Brooks also had reservations about the ruling. “Wow strangest drop I’ve ever seen there,” he tweeted.

Bunkered has a few of the player tweets and a mini-round-up here.

While no video of the moment is online, Grace gives a decent explanation in this Sky post round interview.