2020 Latin America Amateur Headed To Mayakoba Where Caddies Live In Constant Fear Of Being Paid Full Fare

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Poor Matt Kuchar.

Just when you think the story of your substandard payment to your Tour-event winning stand-in caddie was about to disappear from headlines, the good folks at the Masters, R&A and USGA had the gall to announce Mayakoba’s El Camaleon GC as the site of the 2020 Latin America Amateur.

This is the same course where Kuchar won. The news dispelled one mythological view on why Kuchar might have severely underpaid El Tucan after winning last fall’s Mayakoba Classic: because the area is so dangerous that any looper getting a proper 10%-of-$1.3 million-check would be in imminent danger, as would his family.

Apparently, the Five Families don’t agree.

For Immediate Release!

2020 LATIN AMERICA AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP TO BE HELD AT MAYAKOBA

Renowned amateur championship will make its debut in Mexico for the sixth edition

17 January 2019, La Romana, Dominican Republic: The Latin America Amateur Championship (LAAC) will be held in Mexico for the first time next year at Mayakoba’s El Camaleón Golf Club on Riviera Maya, January 16-19, 2020. Championship organizers made the announcement today during the 2019 LAAC currently underway at Casa de Campo’s Teeth of the Dog in the Dominican Republic. 

Founded by the Masters Tournament, The R&A and the USGA, the LAAC was established to further develop amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. The event moves to top courses throughout Latin America and showcases the sport’s rising talent in the region, including Chilean Joaquin Niemann, who competed in the Masters last year as 2018 LAAC champion and is currently playing on the PGA Tour.                                                                                           

Along with an invitation to the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club awarded to the champion, the winner and the runner(s)-up are exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open Championship. The champion is also given full exemptions into The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur Championship and any other USGA amateur championship for which he is eligible. 

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “The Latin America Amateur Championship has quickly established itself as a key date on the golfing calendar for elite men’s amateurs throughout this region. I’m sure there will be many players who will be aiming to secure a place in the sixth staging of the championship next year and play at Mayakoba, which is a fantastic test of golf. We are looking forward to taking the event to Mexico and to a venue with such an excellent championship pedigree.”  

Opened in 2006, Mayakoba’s El Camaleón Golf Club was designed by two-time Open Champion and World Golf Hall of Fame member Greg Norman. In 2007, it became the home of the Mayakoba Golf Classic, the first official PGA Tour event to be contested outside the U.S. and Canada, with notable winners including 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell and top-100 ranked players Matt Kuchar, Charley Hoffman and Pat Perez. The course also hosted the World Amateur Team Championships in 2016.

El Camaleón plays along a stretch of crystal-clear freshwater canals surrounded by mangrove and limestone walls. The 18-hole layout features paspalum grass, two holes along the Mexican Caribbean Sea and distinctive hazards, including cenotes (sink holes) and extensive bunkers. 

“Mayakoba looks forward to hosting the Latin America Amateur Championship and the region’s premier amateur golfers in 2020,” said Borja Escalada, CEO of Mayakoba. “El Camaleón was built as a true test for competitive play and this is a wonderful opportunity to represent Mexico as the backdrop for Latin America’s best and brightest young players. We are grateful to the Masters Tournament, The R&A and USGA for their selection and are excited to deliver hospitality of the highest caliber offered at our resort.”  

Latin America Amateur Reminder: Casa De Campo Again Hosting, ESPN Televising

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Ryan Herrington breaks down who the top hopefuls are in the Latin America Amateur Championship, where a spot in the Masters is on the line.

Ron Driscoll writes about the legendary Pete Dye “Teeth of the Dog” design returning as host of the LAAC.

ESPN’s telecast times:

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You can check out the scoring here.

A nice teaser video of the course:

Amateur Status Update: Mike Davis Talks Lucy Li As USGA Conducts Ongoing Investigation

Those curious about the ramifications for amateur status will learn a lot form USGA CEO Mike Davis’s comments to Golf Central regarding the status of Lucy Li’s case after starring in an Apple Watch ad: she’s adorable, she’s a Curtis Cupper and she’ll be around a long time according to Mike Davis.

Translation: she’s not losing her status. Script those Nike outfits, wear that watch and book that flight to Augusta!

ANWA Invitations Have Arrived, Including Lucy Li's

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The glorious (and big!) Augusta National Women’s Amateur invitations have started arriving in mailboxes of the players who have earned exemptions to the inaugural event. Beth Ann Nichols with Anna Redding’s story of opening the big invite.

Of special note is the glee with which Lucy Li celebrated her invitation as the USGA weighs the 16-year-old’s amateur status following an Apple Watch ad appearance.


As ANWA Invites Go Out, What Will Be Li's Post Apple Ad Status?

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As the USGA sorts our Lucy Li’s starring role in an Apple Watch ad, Steve Eubanks of Global Golf Post recaps the story and notes the no-win position faced by the governing bodies.

There aren’t many rocks and hard places much bigger than the ones they’re between.

While he suggests that’s based on past reputation, I’d counter that their biggest hurdle is a society seeing no issues with amateurs taking freebies or payment for endorsements. The lines have certainly been blurred by the Olympics and even things as seemingly innocuous as allowing amateur golfers to wear scripted corporate logo gear.

Still, no matter how you feel Eubanks makes a key point that mustn’t be forgotten in the debate.

But before you jump to conclusions, think about this: Li is listed in the field for the AJGA Buick Shanshan Feng Girls Invitational on Feb. 15-18. She will be playing against girls who know the rules; girls with parents who have shelled out small fortunes to keep their daughters competitive in the junior game. 

How will those girls and their parents look at Li? Will anyone call her a cheater to her face?

Others played by the rules and while they may not have been offered endorsement opportunities, many or most of those players likely would have followed the rules. Li’s parents did not and while it’s a shame, clearly all involved were not concerned with her amateur status. For that alone, it’s time to let her pursue a professional career.

With Augusta National Women’s Amateur invitations going out this week, it will be interesting to see if the good folks in Augusta are holding on to Li’s automatic invite (based on world ranking) until a decision is handed down?

We discussed on this week’s Alternate Shot:


Maybe It’s Time To Re-think "Amateur Status"

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It is a clear-cut violation of amateur status rules, assuming such things matter any more. Maybe they should not in a world that increasingly wants to market to and cash in on the kids. I digress.

To review: Lucy Li, 16, broke onto the national stage at age 10 by qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links, qualified for the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst at age 12, played on the 2018 Curtis Cup team and is the ninth-ranked female amateur golfer in the world.

Li, still an amateur golfer, is the centerpiece of this AppleWatch ad posted on Twitter January 2nd:

There is no grey here. This was a heavily produced piece in which she is wearing scripted Nike outfits, is filmed in a faux social setting, and is shown in golf action wearing her watch while appearing in an ad to promote a product. She is blatantly allowing a third party to use her likeness.

Nothing in the language on amateur status comes remotely close to spinning Li’s behavior as anything other than an obvious violation.

Contacted by Ryan Herrington of GolfDigest.com, Li cited an NDA for not commenting while Amy Li, her mother, is claiming there was no payment for Lucy’s time or image.

Contacted by Golf Digest, Li said she had signed a non-disclosure agreement with Apple that prohibited her from discussing the video. Li’s mother, Amy, said via text message that Lucy and the family did not receive any compensation for being in the video.

We’re looking at either a blatant amateur status violation or a case of poor parenting by letting a child star in an ad without compensation.

The USGA is “investigating” and “thankful for the dialogue.”

But in a sport increasingly desperate for the attention of anyone under 30 with most organizations making decisions with an eye on how younger generations will view decisions, there is little chance the USGA will revoke her amateur status. Besides consistently abdicating responsibility on multiple fronts, they’ve refused to undermined their rules on amateurism by allowing teenagers to receive free clubs and scripted attire. The R&A sadly concurs.

Children are now billboards in golf on a first name basis with company representatives and agents. If the governing bodies of golf are not bothered and society is increasingly fine with pushing people to peak in life by 20, then why do we bother with amateur status.

Look at the follow-up answers to Global Golf Post’s tweet on this news. Starting with GGP’s own follow up post.

The implication of both Tweets seems to be that a company that large and that successful excuses Li’s violation because it could benefit the sport having such wealth and influence like golf?

As an Apple fanboy it’s wonderful to see them taking notice, but to suggest ignoring the rules in place for corporate and youth-obsessed marketing agendas means it may just be time to throw out all of the rules.

The image and reputation of the amateur game was already in decline. Looking the other way on Li, as the governing bodies will surely do after checking with their image consultants, won’t stem the bleeding nor will it change behavior of “amateurs”. Players with exemptions to major championships regularly pass them up and turn pro instead of taking once-in-a-lifetime playing opportunities. The mid-amateur world is played in almost complete anonymity while the best amateur tournaments in the United States barely register a blip.

At the U.S. Amateur, a vast majority of spectators are either family, friends, agents or representatives of manufacturers who swarm players and even cheer on those who use their equipment.

The lure of professional golf is the only thing keeping amateur golf relevant. It’s a feeder world for men and women and Li will not be punished for acting like a pro when she’s likely turning pro soon, anyway. The modern USGA will not take on a player in such high profile fashion, particularly a young woman who has been a big part of their events. As Frank Hannigan always lamented, the organization’s decision-making is driven by a desire to be loved and a fear of being seen as having interfered with someone’s ability to make a living. The rules of amateur status are nothing more now than a linked page on a website.

So if we’ve reached this point, why not just accept that by allowing players to be paid for their time promoting products? Let them pay a few bills and live the American dream? The ones who want to be pro golfers look like they are already operating that way because they don’t care what the governing bodies think. A society where every opportunity to profit must be protected will probably side with Li and other players who are just playing golf ultimately just to make a buck.

Trophy Wrap: Leishman Is CIMB Worthy, Pepperell Takes British Masters, Chun Claims The Hana, Langer Wins No. 38 In The SAS And Tennant Wins US Senior Women's Am

Marc Leishmann fended off—who else?—but Justin Thomas along with 54-hole co-leaders Gary Woodland and Shubhankar Sharma to take the CIMB Classic and the solar panel trophy for the winner.

Because it was just too bloody cold for anyone to go back outside, Eddie Pepperell posed inside Walton Heath’s clubhouse to celebrate his Sky Sports British Masters victory. Alistair Tait with details of the win for Golfweek.

In Gee Chun takes the turquoise jacket and a matching lamp base in the KEB Hana Bank:

Bernhard Langer won again on the PGA Tour Champions, his 38th title. This time it’s the SAS Championship and a piece of crystal he can pawn to buy a non-white belt with.

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Trophy No. 38 for @bernhard.langer. 👏🏆

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And it was a few days ago, but congrats to Lara Tennant for winning the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur. The 51-year-old had her father on the bag! Scott Lipsky with the the story of Tennant’s 3&2 win over Sue Wooster.

Trophy Roundup: Tway Takes Safeway, Bjerregaard Is An Old Course Winner, Crowns For Korea, Kanya Claims The APAC

Kevin Tway claims his first PGA Tour title in a playoff over Ryan Moore and Brandt Snedeker at Silverado. As Kevin Casey notes in this Golfweek roundup of notes and quotes, it was Tway’s steadiness that benefitted from Brandt Snedeker losing a five-stroke lead.

For the effort, Tway gets a fantastic foot rest for his mancave:


Lucas Bjerregaard, who attended the Ryder Cup as a spectator, gets to do the Swilcan Burn trophy shot before figuring how to get that shipped home to Denmark. This is his second European Tour title.

Takumi Kanaya is the Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion and highest ranked Japanese amateur currently:

Evian Eve, ANWA And College Golf: State Of American Women's Golf In The Spotlight

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The forces are strong, contrasting and fascinating: no American has won a major in 2018 and barring a miracle, the fifth and final LPGA major teeing off this week will produce just the fourth year ever when at least one American prevailed in a major.

Matt Adams and I debated on this week’s Golf Central and with all due respect to the many fine players, the struggles of American women is the top storyline for me. My expression in the screen capture summarizes the fixed nature of the topic, but I digress.

Clearly, next spring’s Augusta National Women’s Amateur will add another bit of incentive for aspiring American women, and we are about to start seeing if the Drive, Chip and Putt produces elite talent, but there appears to be some disagreement about the role college golf has (or has not) played in developing talent.

With six scholarships available at fully-funded Division I programs, the reports of unused scholarships have raised eyebrows about what we are doing to develop junior girls. Jack Nicklaus brought this up in his Morning Drive appearance this week hosted by Gary Williams and in conjunction with Gary Player and Lee Trevino.

But as Beth Ann Nichols notes in this Golfweek story, the misconception is not a great one given how many programs are not fully or even partially funded.

Or as she writes, “Junior girls can’t pluck a full ride to college like an apple from a tree.”

From the story:

“I think it’s a very common assumption that full rides are readily available,” said Kelly, whose program does not have six full scholarships. “I hear this frequently … ‘You are at a wealthy institution. Your school has the money.’ ”

Brandi Jackson hears it too. For nearly 10 years the former LPGA pro has guided players and their families through the recruiting process.

“There’s a big chunk of your better academic schools who may only have one scholarship among the whole team,” Jackson said. “Eight girls on the team … the majority of those girls are paying to be there.”

Something to keep in mind…

A) when you wonder why Americans are falling behind in a sport they once dominated

B) when donating to the athletic department’s general fund

C) when wondering why your alma mater’s women are not attracting the best players

But hey, on that bright note, the scenarios for a new No. 1 and other highlights going into the fifth (gulp) and final LPGA major played for the last time in September.

Speaking of LPGA majors, one of the American rally killers earlier this century spoke of the new Augusta National Women’s Amateur and it’s potential influence today on Morning Drive:

NBC To Broadcast Augusta National Women's Amateur, Logo And Ticket Applications Unveiled

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Augusta National has announced the broadcast partner—NBC Sports—and other details for the first-ever Augusta National Women’s Amateur, including its very own acronym!

There is a lot to consider in this announcement and surprise choice to have NBC broadcast, but for now…

AUGUSTA NATIONAL WOMEN’S AMATEUR NAMES NBC SPORTS AS BROADCAST PARTNER 

Five Presenting Partners Join Augusta National in Support of Women’s Golf; Ticket Applications Now Available 

AUGUSTA, Ga. – In less than seven months, golf’s best women amateurs will compete in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur (ANWA). Today, it was announced that NBC Sports will produce and broadcast three hours of live final-round coverage of the event, which is being supported by five presenting partners: AT&T, Bank of America, IBM, Mercedes-Benz and Rolex. In addition, ticket applications are now available for those interested in attending any of the championship via www.ANWAgolf.com. 

“Since the announcement of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in April, we have remained determined to organize a competition that will provide a meaningful impact on the development of the women’s game,” said Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament. “While we aim to stage a first-class championship, our motivation goes beyond the scores posted between the ropes. By providing this opportunity and shining a brighter light on this important segment of the sport, we expect role models to emerge who will help inspire a new generation of golfers.” 

Gathering the week before the Masters Tournament next April, the international field of 72 players will compete over 54 holes of stroke play, with a cut taking place after 36 holes. The first two rounds will take place on the Island and Bluff nines at Champions Retreat Golf Club Wednesday, April 3 and Thursday, April 4. The entire field will then play Augusta National for an official practice round Friday, April 5. The final round will take place at Augusta National on Saturday, April 6 and will feature the top 30 competitors who made the cut. 

NBC Sports will provide pre-event promotion across NBCUniversal’s portfolio and live coverage of the ANWA across its television and digital platforms, including live final-round coverage on NBC at Augusta National from Noon – 3 pm EST. Golf Channel will deliver highlights, live reports and news coverage throughout the event, including onsite during the first two competitive rounds at Champions Retreat. Additionally, Golf Channel’s “Live From the Masters” will commence on Friday, April 5 from Augusta National and wrap ANWA coverage on Saturday, April 6 and the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals on Sunday, April 7. 

Golf fans wishing to attend any of next year’s competition rounds can now request a ticket application via www.ANWAgolf.com, the event’s official website. Tickets will be sold in advance, but only after receipt of an online application. Applications will be accepted through September 30. All applicants will be notified in late October when the selection process is complete. 

Based on the qualifications for the ANWA published in April, the following players are currently eligible for invitation: 

♦ Kristen Gillman (USA), U.S. Women’s Amateur Champion 

♦ Leonie Harm (Germany), Ladies’ British Open Amateur Champion 

♦ Atthaya Thitikul (Thailand), Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific Champion 

♦ Yealimi Noh (USA), U.S. Girls’ Junior Champion and Girls Junior PGA Champion 

♦ Emma Spitz (Austria), Girls’ British Open Amateur Champion 

The following criteria will fill the next 60 positions in the field, based on the World Amateur Golf Ranking at the end of the 2018 calendar year: 

♦ The top 30 players from the United States of America not otherwise qualified 

♦ The next 30 highest ranked players not otherwise qualified 

The field’s remaining spots will be filled by special invitation from the ANWA Championship Committee. 

Golden State National: Is This A Bad Time To Mention That We Need More Golf Tournaments In California?

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Let's establish three very simple facts:

--Rain rarely occurs in California from May through October.

--When a golf tournament is played in California, it finishes in prime time for more than half the country and garners a much bigger rating, no matter who is contending

--Golf is played outdoors. It is much better when rain does not interfere with the proceedings.

Ok, technically I've presented four simple facts.

As we were reminded again last week after what has actually been a good-weather season in golf, the sport features many overpaid individuals who continue to sign up their major events on the east coast at times of year when rain can (will) be an issue. The PGA Tour set its playoffs for midwest and northeast venues, with a finish in Atlanta at a boring culmination architecturally that will be even less glamorous in 2019.

(In his defense, Commissioner Moonbeam was said to have been trying for at least one major west coast market in his original playoff plans, but players complained about travel issues and the PGA Tour could not find a sponsor/venue fit out west.)

As you know, ratings have never been very good for the FedExCup Playoffs. The list of reasons is long, from a confusing and unsatisfying format, to the time of year and the time zone of the venues, to overall golf fatigue once the majors have been played. The numbers may not improve next year when the playoffs are contested by late August, soon after the major season has ended and at more eastern venues. 

Meanwhile, the PGA Championship moves to May 2019 and while this meant the PGA of America could open up new regions like Florida or Arizona, they've got mostly a who's-who of venues similar to those they've always gone to--Kiawah, Valhalla, Quail Hollow, Baltusrol, Southern Hills, etc...), with just two California stops scheduled through 2030--Harding Park in 2020 and Olympic Club in 2028. Weather could be an issue for most of the future PGA venues, particularly the New York area stops at Bethpage, Trump Bedminster and Oak Hill. 

So if you like the permutations of weather-delayed event planning, then check out Nick Menta's GolfChannel.com story on the many possibilities for the 2018 BMW Championship as play spills into Monday.

But if you are a dreamer, consider Golden State National. 

It's an as-yet unbuilt (or not-yet-remodeled) facility somewhere south of San Francisco and featuring 36-holes of golf, enough hotel rooms within 45 minutes to support the traveling golf circus, a luxury hotel on property for not-important VIP's, a G5-friendly landing strip, and of course, at least 8,500 yards of golf to deal with the distance explosion.

More vitally, Golden State National can host major events from March to November, deliver ratings and finish on Sundays. The ground will be firm. Fans will enjoy themselves. Television executives won't have digestive issues.

But here's the catch: to build or remodel an existing facility into GSN, it costs money. A lot of money when you have to build a course for the modern game where 250 acres is the new 150, meaning we need 500 acres potentially.

The non-profits of golf, devoted to funneling every penny possible to charity--ok, that's slightly sarcastic--have resisted even considering such a facility due to a lack of vision or a lack of funds, even though GSN could also host some NCAA Championships, LPGA majors and other special events. And hackers the rest of the year eager to pay $250 to play where the pros play. 

It'll probably take about $150 million to pull off the facility from scratch, maybe less if we can find a lesser property where dynamite and architectural ingenuity will be the greatest expenses and a local airport handles the Wheels Up crowd. I can think of two San Diego area properties that fit such a bill, and that's just off the top of my head. 

So how do we go about raising the funds for Golden State National since golf's Five Families resist the desire, vision or courage of convictions to do what is right? Which is, to create a facility dedicated to the modern game, modern weather, and modern sports audience? 

Kickstarter anyone?

Weekend Trophy Roundup: Fitzpatrick Wins, Danes Take World Amateur Team Championship

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We don't have a BMW Championship winner with the event attempting a Monday finish due to inclement weather, making for a light week when the LPGA, PGA Tour Champions and Web.com Tour were all dark.

Which reminds me, those three all finished events last Sunday instead of Labor Day Monday. With the PGA Tour vacating that day in 2019, maybe we can stagger some of those finishes next year?

Here is Alistair Tait on Fitzpatrick's win, just a hair late for this year's Ryder Cup consideration.

In addition to the trophy shot, Fitzpatrick posted this sweet shot capturing the majestic locale:

Captain Thomas Bjorn loves seeing his countrymen winning the World Amateur Team Championship over the Americans. A harbinger of Ryder Cup fortune? Here is Pete Kowalski's story on the win and USA runner-up finish.

The runner-ups from America:

Time For Amateurs To Look Like Amateurs Again

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Stories recommending how to make the U.S. Amateur more relevant have been written for some time now.

Doug Ferguson wrote this one back in 2005 that I blogged about.

I penned a Golfweek story last year suggesting that U.S. Amateur winners retain their U.S. Open exemption whether they turn pro or not.

Once counted as a major by Jack Nicklaus and a vital championship on the golf calendar, the U.S. Amateur has drifted to the back pages and in the ratings division. The amateur game has been weakened by few lifelong amateurs and players turning pro at increasingly younger ages.

But after last week's U.S. Amateur, I'm convinced the event is also undermined by players looking like pros. Maybe it's too subliminal and maybe the trend is irreversible, but I was struck by how many people noted when a player wore a corporate-affiliated hat or looked too much like a professional golfer.

College gear didn't seem to offend even though some of America's finest institutions might as well be corporations. Seeing a player advertising their school reminds us they are still an amateur. But young players looking like PGA Tour pros, down to scripted outfits and an overpolished look envisioned in a corporate meeting room, strips the event of its integrity.

Here is what the USGA's FAQ on Amateur Status says about free equipment and, in particular, clothing:

Yes. Even if you have golf skill or reputation, you may accept a reasonable amount of golf balls, golf clubs, clothing, shoes and other merchandise from a company or source dealing in these types of equipment (e.g., equipment manufacturer or golf shop). However, if you are considered to have golf skill or reputation, you must not advertise or promote the source of the equipment.

The act of wearing a scripted, logoed outfit and hat would seem to fall under the definition of advertising or promoting the source of your free equipment. Particularly the hat. 

The USGA did once try to regulate the logos, according to former Executive Director David Fay, who recalled amateurs at the 1989 event even being asked to cover manufacturer logos with duct tape. The USGA even offered the amateurs who made it to the TV rounds a free host-Club logo hat.  

"But it all started to feel (and look) silly to duct tape “Titleist”, when more and more 15 handicappers started wearing equipment-manufacturer hats and carrying equipment-manufacturer bags and head covers," says Fay.    

Indeed, golf has the equivalent now of cyclists who stumble into Starbucks in the logo-clad tights, as if they'd just finished the Bourg-Saint-Maurice Stage in the Tour De France. Logos are pervasive in our culture and even an attempt to look stylish or to subscribe to some sort of lifestyle brand. 

Nonetheless, amateurs sporting their preferred manufacturer's logos as a thank you for free equipment constitutes advertising as defined by the Rules of Golf. Worse, the look undermines the amateur in United States Amateur.

Bring back the duct tape. 

Putting A Bow On The 2018 U.S. Amateur: Hovland Defeats Bling, Pebble Shines, Jack Provides Link To The Past

Viktor Hovland

Viktor Hovland

Pebble Beach did not disappoint as a venue for the 118th U.S. Amateur and its fifth time hosting dating to 1929.

Viktor Hovland dominated his opponents all week including finalist Devon Bling. Hovland's winning scores in 2018 U.S. Amateur Match Play:

3&2
2&1
7&6
7&6
3&2
6&5

Yowsers!

Even better, Hovland is a big personality with a bigger brain and strong all around game that has even more upside. The first Norwegian to win the Amateur now heads back to Oklahoma State with likely spots in the Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship as well as a chance to be a great international ambassador for amateur golf. 

The game stories are worth your time on this one giving the many dimensions to Hovland.

Ron Driscoll gives us the nuts and bolts of a match where Hovland dominated, yet had Bling just been a bit better, would have made very interesting, a compliment to his skill and persistence. 

Brentley Romine for Golfweek takes the college angle and explains how Hovland was an accidental find for OSU coach Alan Bratton, who was on the bag this week.

Ryan Lavner at GolfChannel.com has a wild anecdote about how Hovland killed some time in between the morning and afternoon sessions. If you had reading up on a philosophic debate over affirmative action in the pool, you win!

Dave Shedloski dives a little deeper into Hovland's wit and big personality.

Chris Keane's images from the final capture a bit of everything to perfectly sum up the combatants, the venue and the championship. 

Hovland's highlights in three minutes:

As for Pebble Beach, I believe my views are fairly well documented in past blog posts about some of the lost architectural potential of the course. But in a week that is a big sacrifice for the Pebble Beach Company to give up the course, all in all the assessment is a positive one.

The nostalgic fan of golf history in me welcomes any chance to celebrate the 1929 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach, arguably the tournament I'd most love to go back in time to experience. So check out Joe Bissen's story about the winner back then, Jimmy Johnston, a stockbroker from St. Paul. 

And as The Forecaddie notes, it was a fantastic, amazing and slightly bizarre sight of having Jack Nicklaus walking the course early in the week (and not getting recognized by one player). Also, because of his history at Pebble Beach, here is a little-known link to that 1929 U.S. Amateur that Golden Bear buffs will enjoy

To really bring it full circle, Nicklaus Tweeted his pride at the effort by winner Hovland and runner-up Bling:

U.S. Amateur Final Set: Bling v Hovland For The Havemeyer Trophy

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A 65 by Devon Bling and six-under-through-16 by Viktor Hovland sets up a battle of two prototypical modern stars in the making. The first 18 commences at 7:30 am PT with streaming coverage at USGA.org starting at 9:30 am PT prior to Fox network coverage of the afternoon 18 from Pebble Beach (1:30 PM PT/4:30 PM ET).

Brentley Romine at Golfweek sets up the final match-up for the Havemeyer Trophy.

Ryan Lavner with GolfChannel.com "snapshots" of the two combatants

If Tale Of the Tape is your preferred angle, Mike Trostel breaks down the two finalists by the numbers.

Dave Shedloski with more on Bling playing for his late mother.

If you're in the area, it'll be the best $25 you've ever spent walking the fairways of Pebble Beach watching two players displaying all-around talent.

As I write for Golfweek, it's been another grand amateur at Pebble. (With some architectural quibbling.)

Chris Keane and J.D. Cuban's images from Saturday capture just some of the incredible golf on display.

Hovland's highlights:

Bling's highlights:

Reminder: U.S. Amateur Semi-finals Feature Early Start; Bling v. Salinda and Hovland v. Hammer For Masters Invites

After some late afternoon golf the 2018 U.S. Amateur semi's get under way at 8 and 8:20, with Devon Bling playing Isaiah Salinda, followed by Cole Hammer vs. Viktor Hovland.

The winners earn a spot in the Masters.

Fox coverage begins at 9 am PT. 

My Golfweek story on Bling's remarkable match with Davis Riley where he never led until a bold line of attack at the 18th set up a winning birdie. 

A showdown of top amateurs features Hovland v. Hammer, and as Brentley Romine notes for Golfweek, Hovland is playing stellar golf coming off two straight 7&6 wins.

U.S. Amateur Quarterfinals Set At Pebble Beach, Fingers Crossed Fox Stays On To The Conclusion

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There are several typically compelling U.S. Amateur stories to follow, particularly at sun-splashed Pebble Beach Golf Links.  Ron Driscoll at the official site has a perfect roundup of the close Round of 16 action and a quarterfinal preview. Mike Trostel with more on the players who all earned exemptions to next year's Amateur at Pinehurst.

The lead quarterfinal match at 2:30 pm PT and features Davis Riley v. Devon Bling.

Brentley Romine at Golfweek has the Riley angle, while I penned this story on Bling's recent rise and play for his late mother.  Both are playing well and for a lot, so it should be a good one. 

Ryan Lavner reports on Isaiah Salinda's win over former US Mid-Amateur champion Stewart Hagestad. Salinda cracked a driver head but helpful technicians on hand were there to help with a replacement.  Stanford's Salinda recently won the Pacific Coast Amateur and is from South San Francisco.

Lavner reports on the unfortunate round of 32 loss by Akshay Batia thanks to a mistake ride taken by his caddie from what he thought was a rules official.

Mercifully, the Riley-Bling match starts off the afternoon and should finish inside Fox Sports 1's allotted broadcast window. The network signed off on Thursday's action with two matches All Square to rack up a tape of some sort of U.S. Women's Open mini-documentary.  I'm told an on-time sign off with action still going also occurred Wednesday.

So to recap: do you go with prime time match play golf from Pebble Beach or save an hour of overtime pay?  Fox execs went the save-money route for their USGA partners. 

It's little wonder then that fans do not make an effort to find USGA-Fox broadcasts. Overnight ratings for Thursday's Round of 16 coverage were down 29% from last year's Thursday play at Riviera, drawing a .05 despite the prime time slot and Pebble Beach. 

The quarterfinal matches starting late in the day for Fox

Today's coverage on FS1 starts at 4 pm PT.

Round highlights from the USGA social squad and Fox:

Round Of 64 At Pebble: Upsets Galore, Hole-Outs, Hammer Wins And Hagestad Finally Wins One

Stewart Hagestad (JD Cuban/USGA)

Stewart Hagestad (JD Cuban/USGA)

The 118th U.S. Amateur got underway after a 24-for-1 playoff (Ryan Lavner reports) Wednesday morning at Pebble Beach.

Brentley Romine of Golfweek on the top three players losing in round one.

Cole Hammer continued his great play, surviving a round one match by chipping in for eagle at the 18th, beating Alvaro Ortiz. The Western Amateur champion's highlights:

Zhen Kai Bai aced the 7th hole and his mom caught it on her cell phone!

Pepperdine's Clay Feagler holed out at 15 en route to a Round of 64 win.

Stewart Hagestad finally made it to match play in the U.S. Amateur, defeating the dapper Harry Hall of England and his strong fisherman's hat. My story for Golfweek.

Thursday's round of 32 tee times and other info.

Jack Returns To A Pebble Beach As A U.S. Amateur Spectator

My account for Golfweek on Jack Nicklaus' return to the scene of a U.S. Amateur and a U.S. Open win to watch his 49-year-old son Gary play the 2018 U.S. Amateur.

While there are so many great stories at the U.S. Amateur, seeing the greatest ever walking 36 and treating the other competitors with his usual touch of class, added something special to this year's U.S. Amateur. 

A few of my shots of the Golden Bear out spectating where he won this championship 57 years ago:

U.S. Amateur Primer: Pebble Beach Hosts For Fifth Time

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Here's a great look, with old film footage of the 1929 U.S. Amateur, of Amateur golf's history at Pebble Beach where stroke play qualifying begins Monday.

This photo gallery of 1929 is a real keeper

And as John Fischer reminds us, Bobby Jones losing early in match play led to golf at Cypress Point and Pasatiempo, and an affinity for Alister MacKenzie's work. 

As for 2018, Golfweek offers this look at players to watch.

Here is Amateurgolf.com's list of players they're watching.

Brian DePasquale's USGA.org full breakdown of the field.

Tee times.

You can follow scoring at USGA.org.

And their page devoted to event schedule and Fox television times.

Jack Nicklaus, whose son Gary qualified as a reinstated amateur, attended the event dinner Saturday and posed with some current Buckeyes. Nicklaus won the 1961 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach. 

Here is the USGA's mood-setter on Pebble Beach: