Twitter: GeoffShac
  • 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 – A Complete History
    The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – 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

As each year goes by I fear the true sporting spirit of match play is less and less in evidence. We find a growing disposition for play to concentrate on the figures that are registered at a hole rather than on the question of whether the hole is lost or won in a purely friendly match. TOM SIMPSON




2009 PGA Clippings, Final Edition Volume 1

This thing's over, right. So why not begin the final edition. At least if you read the stories from round two. Can't say I blame anyone for coming to that conclusion.

Doug Ferguson said it was going along swimmingly until the final hour when everything changed.

Lawrence Donegan writes:

Tiger and Padraig redux, as the novelist and golf lover John Updike might have written. But in truth the two-horse race looked more like a one-man show last night as the world No1 asserted his superiority over his challengers, Harrington included, at 2009 US PGA Championship at Hazeltine and challenged history to prove him wrong.

Jason Sobel says this has "the feel of the Harlem Globetrotters up 30 points over the Washington Generals at intermission" and lists four ways it could get interesting," but he does list ways that Tiger could make this close.

Jeff Rude feels "it’s all but over unless hell or Minnesota freezes over in August."

Steve Elling said the Tiger stare was in play Friday.

When Woods was asked after his round if he felt like he'd ever choked in a major, he uttered not a word, and looked his inquisitor in the eye with a cold glare that said what Woods didn't bother to utter. He made an almost imperceptible shake of his head from side to side.
Uh, that would be an emphatic no, people.

And Thomas Bonk passed along this example of the stare:

He crossed paths with Camilo Villegas, who had stopped to greet Woods with a handshake.
Woods never looked at Villegas and he never stopped walking. He should have hung a "Do Not Disturb" sign around his neck.

Dave Kindred watches Tiger from behind the ropes and surveys the crowd.

I was there for Arnie's Army. I saw Nicklaus win five Masters (though not the last, drat). I never saw as many people then as I saw with Tiger yesterday. Or at least it seems so. They were 10 rows deep practically everywhere that you had might catch a glimpse of him. An hour before he teed off, maybe two thousand people sat in the driving range bleachers and assembled on a hillside to watch him warm up.

Scott Michaux on lurking U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover.

Through his two rounds at Hazeltine, Glover had 10 birdies. He said that the messages from his sports psychologist, Mo Pickens, seem to have finally seeped in and allowed him to play tournaments with the same laid-back attitude he carries on Tuesdays and among friends.

Cameron Morfit tells us how the long ball is winning out while the short hitters are fading. He also makes a case for golf being a tall man's game now. Remember when 5'9" was the ideal height. I wonder what changed? Must be the advent of the personal trainer.

Jim McCabe with this on Alvaro Quiros today:

Even in this world of titanium and megablasts, it sounded a bit much. Driver, 9-iron to the 564-yard, par-5 seventh hole? Was that true, Alvaro Quiros?

The Spaniard shook his head.

And the drive, it went 372 yards?

Again, he confirmed with a shake of his head, but added, “if I must be honest, I did not hit it great, almost on the heel.”

So some quick math determined that the 9-iron was hit from 192 yards? Quiros said it was, then he frowned. “It was too much club.”

On the surface, it sounded crazy, but then again, Quiros’ 9-iron did come to rest plugged in a bunker and he made bogey, so maybe the wedge would have been the proper choice.

Steve Elling tells us that the long putter is always lurking in Vijay Singh's life.

Vijay Singh pointed toward the Hazeltine National clubhouse. What's the old saying? Keep thy enemies close?

"It's in the locker," he laughed. "It's not too far away."

But Singh continued to distance himself from the results of said long putter, which he jettisoned in frustration earlier this month, moving back to a traditional stick that has him back in a familiar position at the PGA Championship.

An unbylined AP story on Phil Mickelson's putting woes, which included 77 stabs for the first two rounds.

Doug Ferguson on even-par shooting Oakmont assistant Grant Sturgeon:

“Expectations coming here … you never know,” Sturgeon said. “I had never played a golf course setup that’s this tough, that’s this challenging, and never played in front of this many people. Never played against the best in the world. That being said, I felt if I played up to my potential, making the cut was a reasonable goal.”

Sturgeon is among 20 club pros who earned a spot into the final major of the year through the PGA Professional National Championship. There used to be 40 teachers among the touring pros, a number that keeps dwindling amid criticism in some corners that the teaching pros are watering down the strongest field of the year.

Mark Reason on Ross Fisher's fourth straight major in contention, notes this about the setup:

So many have alluded to power this week. When Alvaro Quiros - surely the longest hitter in the world - needed just two shots to cover 601 yards uphill and into the wind Tiger chuckled: "That's just stupid long isn't it?"

The PGA is in danger of turning into the macho major. It is possible for the shorter hitters to compete for a while, but they have to be ridiculously good to keep it going for four days. David Toms followed his opening 69 with a 75 as the course began to wear him down.

Dave Seanor gives us this John Paramor update:

Paramor said players have generally been supportive of his action at the Bridgestone.
“If nothing else, it has brought attention to the issue of slow play,” he said.

Paramor said Woods and Harrington walked past him on the 5th hole during Round 1 at Hazeltine, which was the first time he had seen either player since the incident at Firestone. He said Woods and caddie Steve Williams ignored him, but Harrington smiled and gave him a nod.

Jim McCabe writes about Adam Scott's putting troubles and reveals that there's also going to be a change in another component of his entourage.

Compounding matters, Scott confirmed that he and longtime swing coach Butch Harmon, with whom he has worked exclusively since turning pro in 2000, “have taken a little bit of a break.”

Was it a split? Scott shook his head no.

“We need a break to take a bit of the pressure off,” Scott said. “I told him, ‘Let’s have some space.’ We have to figure out how to move forward.”

Weinman and Johnson list their birdies and bogeys, including a breakdown of the club pro performance and this bogey for the fans, making up for yesterday's blatant pandering! You go!

Although nearly everyone standing right of the 15th fairway knew Justin Rose had hit his tee shot out of bounds, a fan tells him it is in play, having mistaken Hunter Mahan's ball for Rose's. When informed his ball is indeed OB, a miffed Rose utters, "That toolbox over there told me it was alright."

Governor Bill Richardson and Lex Luther give us a video preview of Saturday's play.

Mark Soltau compiles the best quotes from Friday, including this from Ryder Cup Captain Pavin.

"I teed off 1 and finished on 18." -- U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin, when asked about his round

And finally, the Jenkins Tweet of the day:


Harrington's Balky Back

Dave Shedloski adds this intriguing note about Padraig Harrington suffering back spasms after yesterday's round. Definitely something to keep an eye on the rest of the way.

"It's ongoing," Harrington said while changing his shoes in Hazeltine's locker room. "I guess I'm paying a little bit for trying to get better."

Harrington said he suffered severe spasms after Thursday's opening 4-under-par 68. At 5:40 p.m. CDT Thursday the three-time major champion was seen getting worked on by two physiotherapy trainers in the locker room.


"Golf says, 'I like Lipitor and white collar crime.'"

The Obama-as-golfer haters can rejoice in finding someone who agrees on the sheer awfulness of the President's love for golf. Of course, it's Bill Maher:

Golf, if you're not familiar, is a pastime where you basically walk outdoors with a bag, muttering and cursing. It's like being homeless in loud pants. Anyway, Time magazine is reporting that since he became president, Barack Obama has taken up golf with a passion, playing almost every weekend for the past few months -- and I feel betrayed. He campaigned as a basketball player. It said to us, "I'm urban and athletic and hip and a team player." Golf says, "I like Lipitor and white collar crime." And it's not just golf -- he's been purposefully eating a lot of hamburgers in public lately, to prove he loves meat. And he said that, unlike before he became president, he prays all the time now and that his Faith and Neighbor Initiatives Director sends him scripture on his Blackberry to start every day. Jesus, is there something about that house that turns people into assholes?


So that's why I'm so worried when I see my president playing golf, because golf is a slippery slope. First comes the golf attire, then the golf stories and pretty soon you're telling black jokes. What's worse is that you know Obama doesn't really wanna be golfing, he's just doing it because he thinks it will relax the white people. "How could I be a socialist, I'm putting!" Well, I've got news for you, Mr. President, the people who think you want to kill their Great Aunt Millie aren't going to be swayed by a photo-op on the golf course. They see those photos, they're not thinking you're just like Tiger Woods, they're thinking, "Here comes the Angel of Death, and he's got a nine iron."


2009 PGA Championship Clippings, Round 1

Two things struck me from Thursday's stories.

One, there's a decidedly smaller media contingent in Minnesota, saving me the pain and agony of reading multiple notes about the great golf fans on the Midwest. Okay, I get it. They're cooped up all winter and so they're excited to be outside.

And two: there was really only one story Thursday. Rightfully so. Prayers may just be answered for a Tiger-Padraig showdown this weekend, with some nice names lurking to possibly hang around to cause problems.

Lawrence Donegan in The Guardian:

Tiger Woods and Padraig Harrington got back yesterday to what they were doing last weekend in Akron, Ohio, before they were so rudely interrupted – leaving the best of the rest in their wake – on the opening day of the 2009 US PGA Championship

James Corrigan writing for The Independent:

On the day golf all but regained its status as an Olympic sport the two pros with the golden touch in majors once again showed their standards to be "higher" and their games to be "stronger" than their rivals.

Steve Elling, like many others, thinks it's hard to envision Tiger not winning this one after an unusually strong start:

The last four times Woods has held a lead at a major, he has marched to a victory. And we all know how he plays when he gets into the weekend with the lead -- like a Gila monster with lockjaw.

Gene Wojciechowski on Tiger's opening:

There were a couple of brief encounters with some Hazeltine foliage Thursday, but that was about it for drama. Woods nailed his irons, kept his drives in Minnesota and left a lot of scorch marks on the edges of cups. Do that three more times and he'll win this thing. I'm not saying it will be easy, but it could be.

Gary Van Sickle says Padraig Harrington is the only reason he hasn't declared this one over, and also writes about the highlight of the day.

It never hurts to have Rich Beem, among the funniest men on tour, as your third. With him in tow, there's a guaranteed giggle coming somewhere in 18 holes. The trio even laughed when a ball bounced onto the 11th green while they were still putting. The 606-yard par 5 was into a brisk wind today and thought to be unreachable, but the long-hitting Spaniard, Alvaro Quiros, had other ideas.

"I first thought somebody must have chipped out and hit his third shot up there," Harrington said. "When I inquired who was playing behind us and it was Alvaro, I said that's got to be two of the biggest hits ever in golf. There couldn't be anybody playing competitively who could've knocked it on in two today. It was phenomenal."

Michael Buteau on the incident:

Before putting on the 11th green, Quiros rushed over to the 12th tee to speak with Woods and playing partners Padraig Harrington and Rich Beem. It’s a breach of golf etiquette to hit onto a green when the group in front hasn’t finished the hole.

“To be honest, where I was, I can’t even see them,” Quiros said. “I knew that they were on the green but we thought that they were almost finishing.”

Harrington offered a “nice shot,” while Woods nodded his approval.

“Nothing to apologize for,” said Woods, who is seeking his fifth win at the PGA and his 15th major title. “I mean, that’s just stupid long, isn’t it? To hit it that far into the wind is phenomenal. It’s just absolutely phenomenal.”

Bob Harig does a nice job telling us the Padraig backstory leading up to this week, including some fun anecdotes from Tuesday's champions dinner.

Cameron Morfit touches on the setup, which didn't sound all that exciting in terms of nuance.

The longest course in major championship history at 7,674 yards, Hazeltine played shorter Thursday. PGA officials moved the tees to the front of the tee boxes on the seventh, 12th and 13th holes. More than one player called the wide fairways "generous."

That left the course playable not only for long drivers like Woods and Quiros, but also more modest-to-short hitters like Toms and Paul Goydos (two-under 70).

Jeff Babineau wrote about Tiger and shares this from outside the ropes:

Bob Wood, current VP at Nike who spent many years running and building the company’s golf division, knows Woods as few others do. On the days he walks in Woods’ thick gallery, as he did Thursday, he fills his time with a couple missions. One, he likes to people watch – specifically, to see what people are wearing (especially on their feet). Secondly, he likes to listen to people in the crowd, soak in the comments, the insights, especially in a down-to-earth, Middle America truck stop such as Chaska, which doesn’t regularly get a Broadway production to visit.

“In a place like this, or a British Open, it’s fun to hear the crowd talk about Tiger and how excited they are just to see him,” Wood said. “It’s like they’re watching Babe Ruth, or Michael Jordan ... they know they are getting to see something special. Very, very special.”

Golfweek posted some nice items on the blog but since they don't have permalinks, I can't send you to the best.

Mark Soltau posts his daily lipouts of the best quotes.

Sam Weinman and E. Michael Johnson with Birdies and Bogies. Excellent as always though I don't know who wrote this:

Birdie: Midwest golf fans -- Give 'em credit, Midwest golf fans are among the game's best. Sure, Tiger being out early helped, but fact is there were fans all over the golf course and they were vocal, too, making this Thursday at a major feel more like a Sunday. The PGA and USGA would do well to get to this part of the country as often as possible.

No...majors need to go to places where the courses are great and they don't have 5-inch thunderstorms. Sorry midwest. I know you're doing your best to produce some round 2 winds to dry the place out...

And finally, the Dan Jenkins Tweet of the Day...



Olympic Golf Announcement Clippings

Decidedly different reactions to golf likely making its way into the Olympics. They're far more cynical in Britain as Paul Kelso reports the exciting news Jacque Rogge dropped the sacred, Cialis killer amongst the B-set: the V word! Many times!

In a secret ballot of the 15-strong IOC executive board, rugby sevens, the first discipline to be included in the Games without the main form of the sport, won through comfortably, polling nine votes in the second round.

Golf's progress was far less certain. It was nearly eliminated in the first two rounds, polling only one vote, but benefited from tactical voting from rugby's supporters to win through with a majority in the fourth round.

Owen Gibson in The Guardian:

In a debate that cuts to the heart of questions about what the Olympic movement represents, the IOC executive board plumped for golf and rugby over softball, baseball, karate, roller sports (essentially speed inline skating) and squash.

The International Rugby Board made the astute step of pushing for inclusion for the faster, shorter sevens form of the game as a means of developing the appeal of the sport around the world.

The 72-hole Olympic golf tournament, on the other hand, will look much like any other apart from having a medal rather than a cheque as the prize. Critics have questioned whether top players such as Tiger Woods will prioritise it over the four majors or, indeed, the Ryder Cup.

IOC president Jacques Rogge said the two were selected by the IOC's executive board because ultimately they "added more value" than five less well-established sports that arguably would have had more to gain from inclusion.

Rex Hoggard offers a sunnier game story of sorts. His colleague Kelly Tilghman writes about her lengthy interview with Carl Lewis. Oh they had Peter Ueberroth on too. He got about 90 seconds even though he oversaw the most successful games ever and is head of the USOC. But who wants to hear what he has to say!

John Barton gives us a peak at the potential international impact on golf, until they start seeing what it actually costs to build a golf course to modern standards.

Sam Weinman explains how the date and location of the games could make for some major travel headaches depending on the host site selected.

And Tom Dunne wonders why professionals will interest us, leaving us with this chilling image.

And do we really need to see Vijay Singh walking around the stadium track with Fiji’s flag in a little hip holster?


Monty And Sandy's Totally Coincidental Meeting Was Anything But!

Monty sure made it sound like one of those beer summit deals yesterday, no?

Yes, it's interesting, I didn't realize that Sandy was coming over here to commentate for our British SKY Television here for the tournament. And I had just managed to speak to Sandy just before we came in here, which was good.

Reliable sources tell me that "the meeting was arranged, and mandated by the European Tour, it was not a chance meeting."

Furthermore, I understand Monty confirmed this to Iain Carter on 5Live's coverage of the PGA Championship!


What Olympic Golf Format Would Make For Must-See Golf?

Outside of the world's top players, who we know are paid for their business acumen, creativity, vision and overall love of charity, no one likes the idea of professionals playing 72-holes for Olympic golf.

We know the professional issue is dead. The IOC wants the best, the best is what they'll get even though we know amateurs would bring much more passion. Fine.

I'd love to see something with a 36-hole qualifying and round robin match play, maybe even 9-hole matches in pools to legitimize the 9-hole round to the world, with traditional 18-hole matches for the medal round. It would reward athleticism, it would be very different than anything we see, and we'd witness the kind of emotions that only match play can produce.

What format would make you watch online or pony up for some sort of pay-per-view package in 2016?


Will Golf In The Olympics Deliver World Peace Too?

I understand the euphoria over the Olympic announcement and agree with many that it can only be positive. But the fantasies of massive growth need to be tempered.

Not to sound like Hugo Chavez, but the folks in charge keep forgetting that the game as they see it (7,500 yards, wall-to-wall green turf, USGA greens, 5 hour rounds, massive clubhouse) will be tough to export. Ron Sirak touched on this deep in his column celebrating the news:

While golf faces significant challenges in terms of providing affordable, accessible and timely golf, the very nature of the sport offers every reason to be optimistic about its growth. It can be played alone, without teammates, and with a minimum of equipment.

Well I don't know about the minimum of equipment. A basketball or volleyball is a lot cheaper to export than a set of clubs. And it's a lot easier to erect a court than it is a course, especially when the acreage and accoutrements necessary for "greatness" have swollen.

That said, some of the winners and losers in the Olympic golf push...


Ty Votaw - moved to the top of the replace-Tim-Finchem-whenever-he-retires stakes

Women's golf - a much needed boost in worldwide visibility

Peter Dawson - R&A head man was key to the Olympic push, but inevitable questions about R&A's membership practices will not be pretty

Official World Golf Ranking - system with credibility issues gets a nice boost as the source for determining the Olympic field and will add importance to events where OWGR points are available.

72-hole stroke play - another victory for a format we see way too much of

Players - noted again in the press release that they were the ones behind the decision for a 72-hole stroke play event, even though they are not paid to be visionaries. And you have to figure that player-architects to land some design work in places where they don't know any better.


Match Play - if ever there was a time for match play, Olympic golf was it

Team Play - A shame they couldn't have worked in a two-person team competition, but the Olympics are only two weeks long.

Official World Golf Ranking - Olympics should draw much needed scrutiny.

David Fay - USGA head man was long in favor of Olympic push, but took back seat to Dawson and Votaw; will have to subsist on $700,000 a year from USGA

Equipment manufacturers - fantasies of massive sales boosts worldwide wil die when they are strongarmed into giving stuff away to help jumpstart game in Kazakhstan.

Fans - I've never understood why television or fans will embrace another WGC event and I still don't see Olympic golf receiving much more than a highlight package in prime time.


Golf Likely Into 2016 Olympics Barring Any Scandal, Corruption Investigation Or Last Minute IOC Loopiness

Nice pun in the official release headline.

Golf Makes Cut as IOC Executive Board Recommends Two Sports for Inclusion in 2016 Olympic Games

IOC’s Final Vote on adding sports to take place this October in Copenhagen

Berlin, Germany (August 13, 2009) – Golf is one step closer to being reinstated as an Olympic sport following the International Olympic Committee Executive Board’s recommendation to add golf and rugby sevens to the 2016 Olympic Programme.

The IOC’s final vote on whether to add as many as two sports will take place on October 9 at the 121st IOC session in Copenhagen, Denmark. While the membership of the IOC is not obliged to follow the Executive Board’s recommendation, the Board’s decision is based on an extensive review process of seven candidate sports that has included formal presentations, the submission of a Detailed Questionnaire and responses to questions raised by both the IOC Programme Commission and the IOC Executive Board. The IOC Executive Board announced its decision today following a meeting in Berlin, Germany.

“We’re obviously thrilled that the IOC Executive Board has recommended that golf should be added to the 2016 Olympic Programme,” said Ty Votaw, Executive Director of the International Golf Federation Olympic Golf Committee, which has been coordinating the Olympic bid. “We believe we have presented a compelling case as to why golf should be added and we look forward to the IOC’s final vote in October.”

Golf was last part of the Olympic Games in 1904, when the United States and Canada were the only competing nations.

Throughout the process, the IGF has stressed the unprecedented unified support by international golf organisations – including a commitment by those that conduct major championships to adjust their summer schedules to ensure that their respective tournaments won’t conflict or compete with the Olympic golf competition – as well as the resounding support of golf’s top-ranked male and female players.

Player support has been highlighted in various ways, including short films that have been shown to the IOC Programme Commission and Executive Board, a customised brochure detailing the bid that includes player quotes, a letter campaign in which international players sent the brochure with a personalised letter to IOC members from their respective countries, the participation by Jack Nicklaus and Annika Sorenstam as Global Ambassadors on behalf of the IGF’s bid, and the appearance by Sorenstam and 2010 European Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie at the final presentation to the IOC Executive Board in June in Lausanne, Switzerland. “We made it clear from the outset of the bid process that we absolutely needed support from the world’s leading players to have the best chance of being selected for the 2016 Olympic Games, and we have demonstrated that support,” said Peter Dawson, chief executive of The R&A and joint secretary of the IGF. “We also stressed the united support from the leading golf organisations throughout the world, as well as the universal nature of golf, with 60 million people playing the sport in more than 120 countries.”

The IGF’s Olympic Golf Committee, which originally included The R&A; European Tour; USGA; PGA of America; PGA TOUR; LPGA and the Masters Tournament, has been expanded to 19 organisations. It now also includes The Asian Tour; Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour; Canadian Professional Golf Tour; Japan Golf Tour Organisation; The Ladies Professional Golfers Association of Japan; Korea Ladies Professional Golf Association; Korean Professional Golf Association; Ladies European Tour; Ladies Asian Golf Tour Ltd; PGA Tour of Australasia; The Sunshine Tour and The Tour de las Americas.

The IGF has 121 member federations from 116 countries with the most recent additions of the Guam National Golf Federation and Cambodian Golf Federation.

In terms of Olympic competition, the IGF has proposed a format of 72-hole individual stroke play for both men and women, reflecting leading players’ opinion that this is the fairest and best way to identify a champion, mirroring the format used in golf's major championships. In case of a tie for either first, second or third place, a three-hole playoff is recommended to determine the medal winner(s).

The IGF has recommended an Olympic field of 60 players for each of the men's and women's competition, utilizing the official world golf rankings as a method of determining eligibility. The top 15 world-ranked players would be eligible for the Olympics, regardless of the number of players from a given country. Beyond the top 15, players would be eligible based on world ranking, with a maximum of two eligible players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top 15.

Under this proposal, and based on the current world rankings from both the men’s and women’s games, at least 30 countries would be represented in both the men’s and women’s competitions, from all continents.


Hazeltine Is Here...

The major that has a Rich Beem Village and gets a big endorsement from the Angry Golfer looks like a potential winner in the making. But I think there's a lot more riding on it for the PGA than for the players.

After all, as Larry Dorman notes, Tiger's playing well, Padraig's showing glimmers of his old self, Phil is present and a few of the finishing holes will at least make this potentially more exciting than watching dreary Firestone.

A look at the lineup of future venues--as analyzed by Jason Sobel--inspires little enthusiasm for the coming years if the inland courses are going to be set up like Oakland Hills in '08. Throw in Ron Green Jr.'s suggestion that Quail Hollow is in line for 2017 and I think Hazeltine's setup will tell us a lot about where the PGA is headed. Will we see a gradual slide back into the mediocrity fueled by an excess of narrow, one-dimensional tree-lined courses where conditions are almost guaranteed to be hot and soft...interrupted mercifully by potentially interesting possibilities at Whistling Straits and Kiawah Island?

After last year's disaster--wiped from most minds by the exciting final nine--I've wondered if perhaps the PGA really hasn't changed all that much over the years? Perhaps they just looked so good next to the USGA and the Tom Meeks run of boondogglery?

But then there was Southern Hills and it's sublime setup. Was it an aberration? More a product of Keith Foster's restoration and introduction of tight turf and superintendent Russ Myers doing such an amazing job, all capped off by PGA of America setup man Kerry Haigh startling us with that 2 1/2 inch flyer lie rough? It's no surprise that despite record heat, Southern Hills produced a great leaderboard and champion.

Based on player and observer Tweets, Hazeltine is ripe for producing a surprise winner if the setup adheres to the banality of the back tee design. If Haigh finds ways to take advantage of different tees to mute the impact of the 7600 yard back tee yardage, I suspect we'll see a varied leaderboard and worth champion. Play it safe, use mostly back tees and do little to introduce some shotmaking and Hazeltine will produce a weird outcome.

Alright, about the course. Bradley Klein explains the plastic surgery that has taken place to get Hazeltine ready but doesn't tell us that there's more on the way! That's right, we're watching a lame duck design. Our second straight major to be played at a course that will be plowed up soon after the championship ends.

Anyway, thankfully the 14th hole now has a driveable option. This could inject some weekend interest based on player comments and hints from Haigh about a possible driveable scenario. So we've got that going for us.

John Huggan talks to Tony Jacklin about his memories of winning at Hazeltine and his thoughts on Dave Hill's infamous criticisms and to Geoff Ogilvy about the fourth major's stature.

"I don't view the PGA any differently," shrugs Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 US Open champion. "But what it doesn't have is the sense of 'uniqueness' the other three majors have. The PGA is a bit like a slightly more liberal US Open or a more amped-up PGA Tour event.

"What helps it is its spot in the schedule. It's the last chance for everyone. So there is a feeling of, not desperation, but that this is my last major for eight months. For me, that's where it gets its prestige.

Glory's last default major.

Rex Hoggard previewed the setup and got this from Luke Donald, which was probably intended as a compliment but is an insult if you prefer architecture with character.

“It’s a typical Midwest course,” Donald said. “Lot of long irons out there, but it’s all right there in front of you.”

And this from a caddie:

Asked his lasting impressions of the Robert Trent Jones Sr. design, one longtime Tour caddie of a top 10 Tour player mulled his answer for five minutes before admitting, “I don’t have any.”

Lorne Rubenstein warns us that this could be a short game specialist/plodder course if they insist on playing the three par-5s at over 600 yards. Intriguing and probably accurate theory. Zach Johnson would love that.

The par-3 13th playing at 250 yards has also been a hot topic and it's something Mickelson touched on in his press conference today.

Surprisingly my favorite hole is 13. I love the new tee box. It's a 250-yard par 3 with water up the left.

The reason I like it is it falls into my strategy or belief that the TOUR, the tournaments, should make the hard holes harder and the easy holes easier, because people want to see birdies and they want to see bogeys. And when you take a hard hole like 13 and you move the tee back to where it's 250 or 260 yards, you're going to see a lot of bogeys and doubles. That gives the better players a chance to make up ground to separate themselves through making par. That's one of the best holes out here.

That's exactly why I don't like moving the tee back on a hole like 7, because I believe the better players have a chance to separate themselves when they can go for that green and try and make an eagle or birdie. When you move the tee back and you force everybody to lay up, it just makes an easy hole harder. And I don't believe in that.

It's this last quote that may be the key point I'll use to justify my cynicism about Hazeltine. From Mark Soltau's Tuesday lipouts and uttered by Rich Beem:

"I hope Mr. (Rees) Jones doesn't take this offensively, but I think Mr. Jones went down to every tee box and looked down every fairway and turned around 180 degrees and just started walking. The thing is just long. I mean, it's just excessively long, and it's nowhere near the same golf course that it was. But it's the state of the modern game, I guess. It order to make it harder, just make it longer."

Add it all up and this week will tell us a great deal about the PGA of America's control over a host venue and their vision for what produces a worthy champion.


Monty And Sandy Bury Hatchet In Totally Accidental Meeting

If they get another Rich Beem winner, maybe the Hazeltine folks can put a plaque on the spot where Monty and Sandy accidentally ran into each other and buried the hatchet. From Monty's press conference:

Q. I'm almost sorry to bring this up, but I couldn't help but notice, Sandy Lyle was out front, and I'm curious if you had an opportunity to speak with him; and if so, can you give us any insight into that conversation?

COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, it's interesting, I didn't realize that Sandy was coming over here to commentate for our British SKY Television here for the tournament. And I had just managed to speak to Sandy just before we came in here, which was good. I can't, unfortunately, say what was said. But that matter is now closed and I personally thought it was closed four and a half years ago; it is now, believe me (smiling).

I spoke to Sandy just, what, about 45 minutes ago.


“Just so some little group of the bourgeois and the petit-bourgeois can go and play golf"

So I guess based on Simon Romero's story about Venezuelan socialist dictator Hugo Chávez taking on golf for its capitalistic bourgeois tendencies and therefore closing courses because it's not a sport of the people, this means avid golfer and alleged socialist Barack Obama is not by definition a real socialist? At least not yet?

“Let’s leave this clear,” Mr. Chávez said during a live broadcast of his Sunday television program. “Golf is a bourgeois sport,” he said, repeating the word “bourgeois” as if he were swallowing castor oil. Then he went on, mocking the use of golf carts as a practice illustrating the sport’s laziness.

Well, he's not entirely wrong about the cart part.


“We are right-sizing our hospitality for the current environment"

Leslie Wayne pens a New York Times business story on the new low-key approach to corporate hospitality, using the recent U.S. Open at Bethpage as a barometer. More importantly, you know nothing makes me happier than to pick up some new MBA jargon.

Joseph L. Goode, a spokesman for Bank of America, said that the bank decided to operate almost anonymously at the U.S. Open because it was sharing a suite with other companies, rather than pitching a tent of its own.

“Symbolism matters,” Mr. Goode said, adding that the bank’s decision not to promote its brand at the tournament was deliberate. “We are right-sizing our hospitality for the current environment and tone and mood of the country, with fewer bells and whistles.”

Right-sizing. Got that Ponte Vedra? Ah heck, they probably picked that up from you.


Clockgate Clippings

Tim Rosaforte on Tiger's defiant press conference Tuesday at Hazeltine:

There is a Machiavellian side to Woods. He wants to take the power, but he doesn't want the power given to him. And this one was given to him. As he pointed out, had Harrington enough time to think this one through, slowed down a little, made no worse than bogey, it's still a golf tournament -- a one-stroke lead for Woods going to the 17th tee box.

Thomas Bonk on the rapid fire events surrounding Clockgate, notes:

As it turns out, the PGA Tour was quick to issue a four-sentence statement Tuesday after Woods' press conference at Hazeltine National. PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw said that after reading what Woods had to say on Sunday, there was no disciplinary process started. Votaw also said the tour didn't find anything that was unreasonably disparaging in Woods' comments.

Connell Barrett gives us a flavor of the lively Tiger press conference and wonders, "Who was that Swooshed man?"

Steve Elling also points out Tiger's uncharacteristic "sarcasm and cynicism" and notes this:

The last player known to have been zapped with a penalty stroke was Dillard Pruitt, now a rules official himself, in 1992. Conversely, the European Tour is much more diligent about hitting tardy players where it hurts most -- on the scorecard.

European Tour rules official Andy McFee, also on the rules staff this week at the PGA, said his tour has assessed a total of 18 one-stroke penalties over the past 11 years.

"Not a lot, but it sends a message," McFee said.

And Jim McCabe uses the occasion to point out how this episode reminds us that the PGA Tour could adopt the USGA's pace of play policy for 12 10 of its 13 championships.

Of course, they are not truly addressing the pace-of-play issue and won’t be until they explore the successful “checkpoint system” that is in place at U.S. Golf Association amateur events such as the U.S. Junior, Girls’ Junior, Men’s and Women’s Public Links.

Competitors are told what their pace-of-play is expected to be, and there are checkpoints at the fourth, ninth, 13th and 18th holes. Miss a checkpoint, and you’re warned; miss two, and you’re penalized.


"We're in unchartered territory"

Brian Murphy in the Pioneer Press looks at the state of the golf economy and notes this about sales at Hazeltine this week:

Yet as of Friday, fewer than 500 ticket packages still were available, with free admission to anyone younger than 17, for a tournament that sold out almost two months in advance in 2002, when Hazeltine last hosted the PGA Championship. Corporate hospitality sales are down almost 25 percent, and more corporations this year opted to schmooze clients around less expensive tables and chairs instead of in temperaturecontrolled chalets.

"We're in unchartered territory," acknowledged Shannon Loecher, regional director of sales for the PGA Championship.


Phil Kosin, R.I.P.

It was with great sadness that I learned Phil Kosin passed away today. Chicago golfers will remember him as a passionate advocacy of all things Chicago golf via his radio show and Chicagoland Golf. And readers of this site will know him as Four-putt. Not only was he helpful and rarely shy in setting me straight when I had something wrong, he contributed so many astute posts and insights about important issues related to the game and the ever-changing media world.

Ed Sherman broke the news and Tim Cronin filed a wonderful remembrance of the man, which included this compliment from Frank Jemsek.

All of that made Mr. Kosin a ubiquitous figure on the Chicago golf scene. His presence made a tournament press room more interesting, and his coverage of the game usually found an angle those on daily deadlines had not pursued.

"He had lots of unique ideas about golf and the business of golf," said Frank Jemsek, owner of Cog Hill and Pine Meadow. "He wasn't afraid to write something that would cost him advertising."

Here is Phil's blog and his bio page. He will be missed.


"I knew what I was up against with Tom Watson, because with the crowd pulling for him so much that I didn't want to be on the tee standing there when he walked up"

Because I was under doctor's orders to pay attention to as little of the WGC Bridgestone last week, I only perused the transcripts looking for profound "it's all right in front of you" references about the wondrous Firestone. But for our gamesmanship connoisseurs, you'll get a kick out of this and a few other items in Steve Elling's weekly Up and Down column.

One of the nicest guys on the planet, it appears that Stewart Cink has a diabolical, wily streak we never knew existed. Last week, Cink finally came clean as to why it took him several extra minutes to reach the first tee for his playoff with Tom Watson at the British Open last month. He was freezing the 59-year-old, to use the NFL term. "I knew what I was up against with Tom Watson, because with the crowd pulling for him so much that I didn't want to be on the tee standing there when he walked up," Cink volunteered. "I wanted to be the last on the tee, because if anything, I wanted him to hear some applause for me walking up there instead of the other way around. So I didn't really have to go to the restroom, but I decided to go anyway, just take a few extra seconds to go down there and then walk on the tee." For those who believe there isn't much room for gamesmanship on the PGA Tour, consider yourself corrected.


"Don't Have Sex With the Caddies"

If Paige Mackenzie doesn't make it as a player, she appears to have a future as a writer in this very funny guest blog spot at Stephanie Wei's site about the life of a single woman on the LPGA Tour.


"The most persistent criticism of Harrington has related to his pace of play. Depending on your point of view, he is either slow, very slow or a man who takes an hour and a half to watch '60 Minutes.'"

Nice work by John Strege to dig up some past references to Padraig Harrington's slow play issues.


"Unfortunately I guess we had to finish by 6 o'clock."

While we await the working press reactions to Tiger's press conference Tuesday, it's quite clear he's sticking to his story and his views on the Paramor situation. He'll probably be roasted by the commenters here, but I admire his stubborness here.

TIGER WOODS: The way I understood it, we were the only two in contention to win the event. We had separated ourselves. The winner was not going to come from the groups ahead, even though Robert played just a great round ahead of us. It was going to come from our group. And we were having a great battle.

You know, I just thought that even after Paddy had pitched the ball in the water, he then walked all around the lake, taking the drop, hit his shot over the green and pitched back up, we got on the 17th tee, hit our shots down the fairway and as we were arriving at the ball, the group ahead of us was now entering the 18th fairway. So we were not that far behind, maybe five minutes or whatever it may be from the group ahead of us.

If Paddy does not hit the ball in the water, we play up, we are right behind the group in front of us. So that's why I was -- that's why I said what I said, because that certainly affected how Paddy played the hole, and how the outcome of the tournament, he was in control of the event. He was 1-up with three holes to go and he had a par 5. And you know, when we were put on the clock, it certainly changed everything.


Q. Just to go back to Bridgestone for a moment, Padraig was saying that he was not able to sleep Sunday night. I wondered if you had a lasting sense of frustration and whether you also felt that it was perhaps sending out the wrong message to supporters, to spectators who had been enjoying what was a pretty compelling duel.

TIGER WOODS: Absolutely. We had a great battle. Unfortunately I guess we had to finish by 6 o'clock. I guess that was that important. You know, we finished three minutes late, I think it was, so unfortunately we didn't get in in time and unfortunately that influenced the outcome of the event. Having a battle like that with Paddy when we go one-on-one like that and when we separated ourselves on the front nine, we were enjoying that battle, and that's why I think Paddy feels the way he does and that's certainly one of the reasons why I've said what I said because we were having such a great battle going head-to-head like that, and it got influenced from outside.

The 6 o'clock part interests me. Anyone else getting the vibe that someone actually mentioned that time to Tiger and Padraig either on the course or after the round?

Q. Going back to the timing issue last Sunday, do you in any way regret personalizing the issue by naming John Paramor in your criticism of --

TIGER WOODS: No. Because he's the one who did it.

Q. And secondly, do you have any sympathy for what he has to do and officials like him have to do under these circumstances? And thirdly where does discretion begin and end in the discussion of slow play which is really strangling the game?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, that's why I thought they would have used better judgment on that considering that, as I said, we were the ones that were probably going to win the golf tournament in the last group. We separated ourselves.

And after what Paddy went through, we were still right there behind the group in front of us. So I don't know if the group in front of us was being timed or not. They didn't look like they were rushing. But it certainly influenced us in how we played and influenced the outcome of the tournament, which that's not how you want to have the tournament come to an end.

Q. Where does discretion begin and end on the subject of slow play, which is strangling the game?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, you're right. But then again, we were in the last group, and you know, we finished at 6:03.

He probably could have taken the bait on the slow-play-strangling-the-game component to the questions, no? After all, Tiger is the one who prefers limited field sizes and did take over 4 hours in just such an event even if it was Padraig.