63: Padraig On Father Time, Knowing How To Get Around A Links

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After an opening 63 and Lahinch course record, Padraig Harrington spoke at length to reporters at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

From Phillip Reid’s Irish Times game story on what could be, with more stellar play, one of the more fan-friendly wins in a long time:

Links golf is in his DNA and Harrington showcased it with a round that brought back old glories, but aware that it was only one step in the right direction on a journey that doesn’t reach its destination until Sunday. But playing on links again has reinvigorated him. “I know how to work my way around this golf course, links courses, clubbing and things like that, picking the right shot at the right time, what to go for, where to play shots. You know, that’s how you get around. That’s my specialty.

“I just was keen to not waste these three weeks (Irish, Scottish and British Opens) and be thinking, ‘oh, well, I always have next year’. I was kind of thinking, ‘well, maybe I don’t, maybe the Ryder Cup will be in the way next year’. That’s part of it. I’ve said I feel I’ll play this year and have a bit of time out next year (with the captaincy), but I’d better go play.”

If there is any doubt about his popularity in Ireland, Harrington had an audience everywhere he went. Well, almost everywhere.


(Mid-Round) Interview: Rahm On Ireland Golf, How Blind Holes Can Simplify Things

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Tim Barter’s mid-round interviews for Sky Sports always remind that players respond well to good questions and that they are capable of sharing wisdom mid-round without threat to world peace or rankings points.

Jon Rahm’s comments about links golf and blind holes added to the immensely enjoyable day one proceedings from the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

Rahm’s comment that blind holes simplifying things for the player could be the best reverse thinking and positivity I’ve ever heard from an elite player. Really neat:


Irish Open At Lahinch: Course Setup And Broadcast Notes

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Brian Keogh at the Irish Golf Desk talked to Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Tournament Director Miguel Vidaor about Lahinch and his course setup options.

In short, Vidaor loves the course and his enthusiasm will only add to your interest in the week. He has no plans to trick up the course, but they have options.

 “If conditions are really calm, we can tuck the pins away and we have some cracking hole locations, like back right on six, long on 13. Nine! We have a 50-yard long green. We have cheeky ones on 10, short ones. We can do all sorts of things.  We can really play with it here.”

Vidaor also notes that the Dell’s left side is just nine paces deep. Old Tom strikes again!

The broadcast times and team, with Golf Channel sending an A-team:

EUROPEAN TOUR

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open

Dates: July 4-7

Venue: Lahinch Golf Club, Lahinch, Ireland

Tournament Airtimes on GOLF Channel (Eastern):

Thursday         5:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)

Friday              5:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Live)

Saturday          7 a.m.-Noon (Live) / 3-5:30 p.m. (Replay)

Sunday            7 a.m.-Noon (Live) / 3-5:30 p.m. (Replay) 

Broadcast Notes:

Three spots available into field at 148TH Open: The top-three finishers (in the top-10) not previously qualified for The Open at Royal Portrush later this month will earn an exemption into the field.

Knox defends: Russell Knox defeated Ryan Fox with a birdie on the first playoff hole to claim his second European Tour victory.

Headlining the field: Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Wallace, Ian Poulter, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen, Eddie Pepperell, Tyrrell Hatton and Padraig Harrington.

GOLF Channel Broadcast Team:

Play by Play: Rich Lerner

Analyst: Curt Byrum

Tower: Tom Abbott

On-Course: Jim “Bones” Mackay / Warren Humphreys

Interviews: Jay Townsend

Garrigus: PGA Tour Should Remove Marijuana From Banned Substance List

After serving a three-month ban after going over the limit in his medical marijuana use, Robert Garrigus tells Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis that the PGA Tour should consider removing marijuana from its banned substance list because it “doesn’t help you get the ball in the hole.”

Worth listening to if you have an interest in the Tour’s drug policy or the debate over what helps a player and what does not.

Looking Like A Light Links Season Turnout From World's Best

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Martin Dempster of The Scotsman says the Irish Open is still a world class event but the absence of top Americans or other top-10 players is a shame and surprising. The Scottish Open features no real big surprises in star power, with the usual suspects (McIlroy, Fowler, Kuchar, Stenson, etc) turning up there to prepare for The Open (and good for them btw).

In comparing the events, he writes:

For the record, the Scottish event boasts the strongest line-up for the second year running, with two top-ten players and 17 from the world’s top 50, compared to none and 12 respectively in Ireland.

However, what actually matters most is that two world-class events are about to be staged in the build-up to the final major of the season and most of the European Tour’s biggest names are teeing up in one or the other

Maybe the players were spoiled (and spent) by that charming stop in Saudia Arabia earlier this year?

Just 12 and 17 of the top 50 for two Rolex Series purses in the build-up to the final major suggests the world of golf may have too many lucrative possibilities in too short a time span.

The European Tour’s five things to know about the Irish Open, including Niall Horan turning up for the pro-am and more.

Thankfully, the setting is the star this week. Richard Fitzpatrick on the stage that is Lahinch while Brian Keogh at the Irish Golf Desk details the interesting (and well-paying) Monday qualifier for the Irish. He also endorses the setup at the Dell:

The Dell is a throwback to golf from another era with players forced to hit to a green completely hidden between two huge dunes — a hole almost untouched since it was laid out by Old Tom Morris more than 125 years ago

Fans will be able to watch the action from a grandstand erected in front of a home on the Liscannor Road. 

And with a whitewashed stone on top of a dune the only indication of the line to the pin, both spectators and the players will be able to see where the ball lands on a big video screen.

We previewed and discussed on Morning Drive.

The setting set by the European Tour:

How Hollis Cavner Got The PGA Tour Back To Minnesota

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The Star Tribune’s Jim Souhan does a wonderful job highlighting the career and efforts of Hollis Cavner, the well-liked longtime tournament director who built the Champions Tour’s 3M Championship into this week’s new PGA Tour event, the 3M Open.

Besides detailing how the TPC Twin Cities has evolved from the first time he showed it to Arnold Palmer, the story largely centers around Cavner and his team’s effort to bring the PGA Tour to Minnesota via his Pro Links Sports.

Cavner ran senior or Champions Tour events in Minnesota through last year, while constantly working to land a PGA Tour stop for Minnesota.

“That actually started back in the ’90s,” he said. “With Arnold and everybody else we worked with, when we were building the TPC we always laid it out for a PGA Tour event. We didn’t need all of this room for a Champions Tour event.”

That spaciousness will come in handy this week. For the last few years of the Champions Tour’s 3M Championship, Cavner didn’t charge admission. For the 3M Open, he has recruited a remarkably strong field and the Zac Brown Band to draw paying audiences to Blaine.

Cavner did so with relentless networking and old-fashioned hospitality. He played host to decision-makers and celebrities at his home in Augusta, Ga., during the Masters, and leaned on his reputation as someone who treats players well at his tournaments.

The field is headlined by Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Phil MIckelson.

Ratings: 1.5 For 2019 Rocket Mortgage Final Round, .6 For U.S. Senior Open

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The numbers sounds pretty low but given that they were competing, the NBA free agency frenzy had drawn a million viewers over to ESPN2, the overnights reported by SBD’s Austin Karp may not be that awful. Nate Lashley had a huge lead in the inaugural Rocket Mortgage and the U.S. Senior Open featured a five-hour final round telecast (why!).

Last week, the Travelers saw steep declines on CBS, reports Paulsen at Sports Media Watch.

Last Sunday’s final round of the PGA Tour Hartford Open earned a 1.4 rating and 2.17 million viewers on CBS, down 30% in both measures from last year (2.0, 3.09M), and down 39% and 38% respectively from 2017 (2.3, 3.50M). It was the lowest rated and least-watched final round of the tournament since 2016 (0.9, 1.42M).

Third round action had a 1.1 (-21%) and 1.53 million (-28%). Lead-in coverage on Golf Channel had a 0.36 (-27%) and 527,000 (-26%) on Saturday and a 0.42 (-19%) and 661,000 (-15%).

Open Coverage Plans: 50 Live Hours, Tom At Turnberry, Irish Flute Takes Over For Bagpipes

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Yanni’s been busy in the studio working with Irish flutists as bagpipers protest outside, as you’ll note in the trailer below. The NBC/Golf Channel plan for the 2019 Open Championship for Immediate Release:      

ORLANDO, Fla., (July 1, 2019) – In partnership with The R&A, NBC Sports Group announced its all-encompassing coverage plans for The 148TH Open, taking place July 18-21 at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland. NBC Sports will dedicate 410 total hours surrounding The Open, the most ever, with 200 hours of linear programming coupled with 210 complementary hours of streaming coverage, including featured holes and marquee groups. Spanning from Thursday’s opening tee shot through Sunday’s final putt, the network’s Emmy-nominated tournament coverage will feature nearly 50 live hours, annually the most live coverage hours from any golf event. 

Having covered The Open for 40 years collectively, Paul Azinger (2005-’15), Nick Faldo (2004-’07 & 2016-’18) and Mike Tirico (1997-2018) will contribute their extensive familiarity in calling golf’s original championship and be joined by the deepest and most-experienced roster of analysts, hosts, reporters and personalities in golf. The network’s live tournament and complementary coverage will feature in-depth perspective on the significance of The Open’s return to Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951, and for only the second time ever. This year, The Open also is being staged as the final men’s major championship of the year for the first time since 1971.

“The tradition that surrounds golf’s original championship takes on added significance this year with The Open returning to Northern Ireland for the first time in 68 years,” said Mike McCarley, president, Golf, NBC Sports Group. “Our extensive approach will feature an unprecedented amount of coverage, with live coverage from the first tee shot early Thursday morning through the final putt on Sunday evening. Leading up to The Open, our coverage will help set the stage with not only the competitive storylines, but also the cultural significance of Northern Ireland as host for just the second time in the 148-year history of The Open.”                                                               

Highlights of NBC Sports’ 410 Hours of Coverage Surrounding The 148TH Open: 

  • “Playing Through” Returns: Enhancing both the viewership and commercial experience, NBC Sports’ popular “Playing Through” split-screen commercial format returns for The Open, ensuring viewers don’t miss key stretches of the action during commercial breaks. During NBC Sports’ coverage of The Open at Carnoustie in 2018, an additional 181 shots of live golf were shown because of “Playing Through”.

  • Comprehensive News Coverage All Week: Called “the best 19th hole in television golf” by Golf Digest, Golf Central’s Live From The Open platform will headline nearly 70 hours of comprehensive news coverage from Royal Portrush, beginning Monday, July 15 at 9 a.m. ET. Morning Drive will complement the network’s news presence, including Midnight Drive, the show’s special 90-minute live pre-game show (Midnight-1:30 a.m. ET) that leads directly into the opening tee shot of The 148TH Open with GOLF Channel’s live coverage kicking off at 1:30 a.m. ET on Thursday morning.

  • GOLF Films’ Tom at Turnberry: Premiering on Monday, July 8 at 9 p.m. ET on GOLF Channel, Tom at Turnberry will commemorate the 10-year anniversary of Tom Watson’s unthinkable run (at age 59) at winning a sixth Claret Jug. On-site coverage during The Open also will feature a collection of GOLF Films “shorts,” to help tell the stories of The 148TH Open and Royal Portrush.

  • Vantage Point with Mike Tirico Originating from Royal Portrush on Tuesday, July 16: Complementing the network’s Golf Central Live From The Open coverage, a new episode of Vantage Point with Mike Tirico will premiere on Tuesday, July 16 at 9 p.m. ET, originating from Royal Portrush. The show will include a GOLF Films short from NBC Sports’ David Feherty on his native Northern Ireland, in addition to a remarkable story on efforts being made to help curb PTSD through golf at Waterville Golf Links in Ireland. Vantage Point also will welcome additional guests alongside Tirico to offer context surrounding golf’s original championship in its return to Northern Ireland for the first time in nearly seven decades. Next month also will mark Tirico’s 23rd consecutive year covering The Open, and in addition to Vantage Point he’ll also contribute to NBC Sports’ live tournament coverage.

  • The Men in Blazers Show at The Open Returns, Airing on NBCSN, July 17-21: NBC Sports’ critically-acclaimed The Men in Blazers – Roger Bennett and Michael Davies – are set to return to The Open for the second consecutive year, abandoning their Panic Room studio in the “crap part of SoHo” in Manhattan for a distant corner of Royal Portrush for a nightly show, Wednesday, July 17 through Sunday, July 22 on NBCSN. The nightly show will include featured guests, daily highlights, non-traditional stories and cultural elements from The Open presented in the duo’s signature, unconventional style. In addition to the nightly show on NBCSN from Royal Portrush, Rog and Davo will offer their unique takes on The Open through a series of features for NBC Sports’ overarching coverage.

  • David Feherty Vignettes Highlight Unique Aspects of The Open: A native of Northern Ireland, NBC Sports’ David Feherty will deliver a collection of his signature vignettes to highlight the underappreciated and perhaps overlooked aspects of The Open from a local’s perspective. Excursions for Feherty will include an education on the ancient game of Hurling, a sport of Gaelic and Irish origins; a journey to locate a proper source for traditional Irish music; and a morning spent at sea attempting to catch his breakfast. Other content elements will include a story on the 2007 Walker Cup team, and a recollection of Rory McIlroy’s course record-setting 61 at Royal Portrush as a 16-year-old.

  • Chronicles of a Champion Golfer: GOLF Channel will premiere new episodes of Chronicles of a Champion Golfer, a compelling series featuring first-person narratives of past Open champions. Airing on Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. ET, upcoming episodes include Jordan Spieth (July 2 – 2017 champion), and Johnny Miller (July 9 – 1976 champion). The full library of Chronicles of a Champion Golfer episodes are currently available on GOLFPASS, featuring Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman, among others.

  • Golf’s Greatest Rounds: GOLF Channel will travel back in time with a collection of memorable Open Championships. Golf’s Greatest Rounds will relive the signature moments from past champions Darren Clarke (July 3 – 2011; Royal St. George’s), and Rory McIlroy (July 10 – 2014; Royal Liverpool).

  • AIRTMES FOR THE 148TH OPEN WEEK (All Times EST)

    Monday, July 15

    7-9 a.m.                                   Morning Drive

    9-11 a.m.                                 Golf Central Live From The Open

    11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.                  Sky Sports – On The Range  

    7-9 p.m.                                   Golf Central Live From The Open

    9-10 p.m.                                 The Road to Royal Portrush

    Tuesday, July 16

    6-10 a.m. / Noon-2 p.m.         Golf Central Live From The Open

    10 a.m.-Noon                          Morning Drive

    9-10 p.m.                                 Vantage Point with Mike Tirico

    Wednesday, July 17

    6-10 a.m. / Noon-2 p.m.         Golf Central Live From The Open

    10 a.m.-Noon                          Morning Drive

    11-11:30 p.m.                         The Men in Blazers (NBCSN)

    Thursday, July 18

    Midnight-1:30 a.m.                 Midnight Drive

    1:30 a.m.-4 p.m.                      The Open – First Round

    4-5 p.m.                                   Golf Central Live From The Open

    11-11:30 p.m.                         The Men in Blazers (NBCSN)

    Friday, July 19

    1:30-4 p.m.                             The Open – Second Round

    4-5 p.m.                                   Golf Central Live From The Open

    11-11:30 p.m.                         The Men in Blazers (NBCSN)

    Saturday, July 20

    5-7 a.m.                                   The Open – Third Round

    7-11 a.m.                                 Golf Central Live From The Open

    7 a.m.-3 p.m.                           The Open – Third Round (NBC)

    3-4 p.m.                                   Golf Central Live From The Open

    1-1:30 a.m.                              The Men in Blazers (NBCSN, Saturday Overnight)

    Sunday, July 21

    4-7 a.m.                                   The Open – Final Round      

    7-9:45 a.m.                              Golf Central Live From The Open

    7 a.m.-2 p.m.                           The Open – Final Round (NBC)

    2-4 p.m.                                   Golf Central Live From The Open

    10-10:30 p.m.                         The Men in Blazers (NBCSN)

Q&A With Paul McGinley, Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Host

In recent years we’ve celebrated many venue selections that defied common wisdom about who could host a modern pro golf tournament. From Gullane to Castle Stuart to even places like Detroit Golf Club last week, the game has visited some pretty special spots.

Other than the Old Course, I can’t imagine there is a more unusual golf course in tournament golf history to host than this week’s Irish Open venue, Lahinch Golf Club.

Paul McGinley is the longtime European Tour player and former Ryder Cup captain who will host this week. As a traditionalist and lover of all things Ireland, he’ll be the perfect ambassador. He explains how the idea came about, what will happen to the goats and how he anticipates the blind par-3 Dell will work thanks to an innovative setup.

GS: How did Lahinch’s selection happen?

Paul McGinley: In the South of Ireland, we've always played Lahinch historically. So we're all very familiar with it and we’ve all won around there. The irony is, the only guy of all the Irish guys on tour, other than [Shane] Lowry, that hasn't won there is Rory. All the rest of us have won around Lahinch. So we're all very familiar with it growing up. And the second thing is, everybody seems to love Lahinch.  The fact that the 18th and the golf course goes right up to town, with the town nestling around it, and you’ve got the ocean framing the other side. So when I was asked to host by Rory, I went away and I thought okay, now where are we going to go what venue are we going to? Knowing that The Open was going to be at Portrush and knowing that the commercial market as well as the spectator market was going to be very much gravitated to the south while the top half of the country gravitated towards the Open Championship, we started looking around at potential venues and I thought, “you know what, the one outstanding one here is Lahinch.”

It haven't been held before and I think that's a golf course certainly worthy of hosting. We could make it a par 70, instead of 72, and then the other box that we ticked is of course the people of Lahinch. And there's three people there that I’ve known very well for a long period of time, Padraig Slattery former captain who was very successful in the PR world, John Gleeson who is a retired oil trader and very successful, and Paddy Keane who is the director of golf there.  

I've known these guys personnel for a number of years and I thought, wow, the personnel, combined with the golf course, combined with the opening of the new commercial market, is a package that I believe would work best. Then it was a question of presenting that to the European Tour and the sponsors, Dubai Duty Free, and I became convinced that this is the right place. 

GS: Is there anything comparable that you can think of in terms of design that professional golf has visited in the modern era?

PM: That's a good question, I mean it's old, it's historic and it’s fun.  I always loved Castle Stuart as a Scottish Open venue even though I know it's a modern style golf course,. And I'm a great believer that difficult doesn't mean great.  Lahinch is not the most difficult golf course,  but it's a really fun golf course to play. And that for me is the most important thing. It's a bit like Prestwick, I have to say. In Ireland we refer to it sometimes as the St. Andrews of Ireland. It's quirky in some ways. And then you put in the fact that it's always in great condition and you get quality people down there that will ensure putting on a really good show.

GS: Have you talked to players much about what to expect in terms of holes teeing off across other holes, the Dell and other design elements like that? 

PM: I’m wearing many hats so I’ve put on my players cap and tried to imagine how are player's going to react and how are they going to feel, so the condition of the golf course is important in terms of keeping a close eye and communicating with the R&A as to what they're doing up in Portrush last week. Fairway widths, rough height, green speeds, how the bunkers are going to be raked, the firmness of the greens, really all the things that they’re doing. I'm trying to mirror those down at Lahinch so the players get a really good brief going into Portrush.

GS: So you’ll be involved in the day-to-day golf course set up as well?

PM:  I've overseen it with Miguel Vidaor, who is one of our best tournament directors, of the European Tour. Miguel and I have been keeping an eye on what the R&A have been doing at Portrush. Not that what we’ll do is an exact copy because obviously hole designs are different. But particularly in terms of green speed, we’re trying to mirror it. But I also don’t want to break the guys’ back. I don't want a level par or two or three or four under par winning. I expect a winning score hopefully between ten and fifteen on the par with good weather conditions. If the weather conditions are poor it'll be five to ten under par. That's really good prep in my mind for the guys who are going on to play the Open two weeks later. And also would provide a great champion on a true links course with the really good quality field that we have.  

GS: Will you be camping out at the Dell to see who the guys deal with a hole unlike anything they’ve played in the world of golf?

PM: I've been a bit worried about that, and I’ve been thinking a long time about what are we going to do with the Dell. How am I going to convince the players that this is not a bad idea?  A par-3 where you hit over a stone on top of a hill to a green that is about eight yards wide. So what we've done is with the European Tour’s ok, is rent the house behind the tee box. And there's a huge big front garden where we've put a grandstand in there and to the right of the tee box we've put a huge big TV screen.

So as the players hit the shot, they’l see the ball taking off and their heads will then move to their right hand side, they'd be looking away from where the ball is. The ball will be tracked by a TV camera as it goes over the hill and whether it’s on the green or not. So if they have a hole in one they will know before they leave the tee that it's been a hole in one. So it's just creating a little bit of showbiz around a very traditional hole in the golf course, and also taking away a little bit of the edge of the criticism they might have.

GS: Last thing, will the famous goats roaming the property be present during the tournament?

PM: Unfortunately not. With twenty 25,000 people a day out there and hopefully sellout crowds, their safety would be in question. It would have been nice to have them and we inquired about that, even maybe corralling them just to have them there, but the animal rights groups said no, lets not go there with the crowds. Because if something were to happen it would be a travesty.

GS: And the town will play a major role in the week?

PM: It’s a town and golf course everyone loves. It’s your favorite aunt. And more than anything I wanted to unite the two of them and make it a fun festival for families. Sure, there’s going be a few pubs and the lads like to drink, but there's also going to be lots of fun activities to make it a family day out. The local council have been great, as have the local police in terms of one way systems around the town these small quirky Irish roads. The local council have agreed to close down the town each evening from four o'clock to eleven o'clock for pedestrians only, so you can walk to town where there’ll be a stage with Irish music and food outlets on the street, face painters for the kids and just a real festival with golf being in the middle of it all.

A preview Tweet on the Dell, playing as the 5th this week:

And one more photo…

U.S. Senior Open: Stricker Grabs 18, 36, 54 And 72-Hole Scoring Records In One Week; Watson Betters His Age Three Of Four Rounds

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Mike Berardino filed a fantastic game story here on Steve Stricker’s soul-searching en route to South Bend and what turned out to be a week for the record-scoring U.S. Senior Open for the ages.

But more impressive are a few items in David Shefter’s USGA game story and Brian DePasquale’s notes from the Warren Course at Notre Dame:

Obliterating the 36- (126) and 54-hole (192) championship scoring records and matching the 18-hole mark with a first-round 62 on Thursday, Stricker finished off his historic week with a championship-tying, six-stroke margin of victory over good friend Jerry Kelly and defending champion David Toms. Gary Player and Fred Funk also won by six in 1987 and 2009, respectively, the latter also in Indiana at Crooked Stick Golf Club (Carmel).

Although his Sunday effort over the 7,004-yard layout was the highest of the week (69), the 52-year-old Madison, Wis., native still set a new 72-hole scoring mark of 261, and his 19-under total was one off the record by Funk.

And then there was this on 69-year-old Tom Watson.

Tom Watson, the 1982 U.S. Open champion who made it a record 17-for-17 in cuts made in the U.S. Senior Open this week, matched or bettered his age (69) for the third time in four rounds. Watson carded a 2-under 68 for a 72-hole total of 278.

Here is a slideshow of images from the week, with artistic-license interruptions that also happen to showcase USGA corporate partners. These artists today!

Maria Fassi: Can She Inject Women's Golf With Star Power?

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I’m a believer after watching her remarkable play at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, but she also just missed the cut in her “home” debut in Arkansas.

As Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols writes in an excellent look at Fassi’s prospects, the talent and star qualities are there. Read it all. As a side note, I found two things here interesting:

On Tuesday in Arkansas, she spent three hours working on her wedges with Estes-Taylor, who did the same for Lewis years ago.

It was Lewis who insisted that Fassi get out of the 100-plus degree heat at the U.S. Women’s Open in Charleston, S.C., and save her body. She’ll need truth-tellers like that in her circle.

Fassi missed her first cut as a professional at her “home” event, the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, but handled the disappointment with class.

Whan points to the “long string of can’t-miss college kids that missed” and hopes the degree-toting Fassi puts together a blockbuster career. Lewis remains the only four-year college player to rise to No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings.

Nate Lashley Leads In Detroit: Some Six-Stroke Leads Are Much More Compelling Than Others

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You might see a six-stroke lead by the world no. 353 and pass on the Rocket Mortgage Classic final round, where Nate Lashley is 23-under-par after his second 63 of the week. (Full coverage times here.)

But anyone remotely familiar with his story—or those with a pulse—will be pulling for the 36-year-old who tried to Monday qualify for this event, only to get in on his status. Though as Bob Narang’s story and interview with Lashley from three years ago details, it’s been an understandably complicated journey for the former All-American since losing his parents and girlfriend in a plane crash.

His youthful appearance belies some of the hardships Lashley has endured since his parents died. Competing in tournaments where the majority of the competitors are younger than him, Lashley said he's learned many lessons along the way.

"It puts some perspective on life because you never know what's going to happen," Lashley said. "It makes golf a little easier from looking at the perspective that golf isn't such a big deal.

"That never seems to be the case. It never seems to get easier. I try not to let it daily affect my life and be as difficult, but you have to fight through it. It happens to a lot of people. You have to keep fighting."

Darren Clarke's Caddy Needs To Get Up To Snuff On How Birdhouses Work

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With Steve Stricker likely coasting to victory in a birdiefest at the Warren Course, Saturday’s incident with Darren Clarke’s penalty at least provides a teaching moment from the U.S. Senior Open.

Brentley Romine on the the effort to get relief, the decline and then the caddy attempt to move and immovable obstruction, causing a penalty.

According to Rule 15.2, free relief is allowed from movable obstructions but not from immovable obstructions, which is what bird feeders are considered at the Warren Golf Course. Also, Rule 16.1 allows free relief from immovable obstructions and other abnormal course conditions but only if it interferes with lie, stance or a ball on the putting surface.

Needless to say—or not—moving birdhouses would defeat the purpose of said house. Apparently Team Clarke did not get that memo.

The full report from Golf Central includes highlight footage:

Muirfield (Finally) Extends Membership Invitations To 12 Women

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This took way too long for the Honourable Company of Edinburgh golfers to join the 21st century and now the course can actually rejoin The Open rota.

As Alistair Tait writes for Golfweek, the men of Muirfield dragged their feet “too long” especially now that it’s a non-issue for the membership.

This time 80% of membership voted in favour of women becoming members. Today’s announcement is the result of that vote.

It’s about time, too. It beggars belief that a club with “honourable” in its title has taken nearly 300 years to do the honorable thing.

State Of The Game 96: Paul McGinley And The Irish Open At Lahinch

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Rod Morri, Mike Clayton and yours truly chatted for a bit with longtime European Tour player and 2014 Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley about the upcoming Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Lahinch Golf Club.

This is arguably the boldest venture yet by the European Tour to an exotic and historic work of architecture, surpassing even Gullane in terms of sheer audacity. McGinley and his foundation host this year.

The iTunes link or you can listen below, or wherever you get podcasts.

Nine Things To Know About Detroit Golf Club...

Not a Five Families meeting…

Not a Five Families meeting…

Fine research and listicle-ish reporting from Ben Everill at PGATour.com to get you in the mood for this week’s new PGA Tour stop at Detroit Golf Club, with its fine history and relatively unknown place in the game.

This one blew my mind…

Due to World War II, the Ryder Cup was put on hold. But before the 1939 matches were officially cancelled, most of the U.S. team captained by Walter Hagen had been selected. Gene Sarazen, a member of Hagen’s first six Ryder Cup teams, was not on the list, and he took it as a slight. Hagen said his team could not be beaten; Sarazen said he could pick other golfers who could beat Hagen’s crew. The challenge was accepted and the two “teams” of Americans played a series of matches for charity. The first one, in 1940, was at Oakland Hills, with Hagen’s team (that included Byron Nelson and Sam Snead) winning.

In 1941, the challenge matches were held at Detroit Golf Club. Sarazen was determined to beat Hagen, and so he called in a “ringer,” managing to coax 39-year-old Bobby Jones out of retirement.

Who knew!

"Can this woman save Detroit’s public golf courses from extinction?"

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Great to see Golf.com’s Max Marcovitch use the opportunity provided by the Rocket Mortgage Classic to highlight the sad (and endangered) state of Detroit muni’s.

In particular, the Donald Ross-designed Rackham is in danger and Karen Peek is working to keep it going.

Rackham is six miles north of Detroit Golf Club, site of this week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic. It doesn’t get the attention that DGC does but it has rich history of its own, extending back to its opening in 1923. Ben Davis, the first black head pro at a municipal course in the U.S., taught there for 50 years. Among his students was famed boxer Joe Louis, a Rackham regular. The two would play money matches. In the 1940s, Louis hosted an annual golf tournament at Rackham, aimed at showcasing talented black players.

Rackham is also where Peek fell in love with the game. As a kid, she convinced her best friend to attend a youth golf clinic with her at the course. Volunteer pros — Davis among them — painted small circles on the 1st fairway and had the juniors swing their clubs back and forth for one carefree hour. Peek was hooked. She recounts excitedly slinging her golf bag over her shoulder and riding her bike down to the course.

Fifty years later, the details flow with a nostalgic yearn. The clinics were a staple in a vibrant golfing community. For Peek, they were the gateway to her livelihood.

Report: PGA Tour Players On A Random Clock And It's Not Ideal (Kisner Exempted)

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Nice work by Andy Johnson at FriedEgg.com to time one grouping at the U.S. Open for nine holes.

While it’s still not as powerful as the visual of watching the difference in how these players work, anyone with any imagination can easily envsion the agony of watching some of the longer debate sessions that took place. As other professional sports fret about the length of their games, the PGA Tour has made clear slow play and the slowest players are just not a a big deal. Even the USGA, which has had amazing success with time par systems, backs off at the U.S. Open out of fear of upsetting the most important people on the planet.

Given that players have 40 seconds to play a shot, the regularity with which they break the rules is, frankly stupefying given how rarely penalties have been dished out. And we know how hard it is to watch in person.

Unless Kevin Kisner is playing or Justin Thomas is hitting a tee shot…

As DeChambeau, Kisner, and Thomas worked their way through Pebble Beach’s front nine, I recorded the amount of time it took each player to hit each shot from the moment that it became clear the previous shot had ended. I also noted the order in which they played their shots within the group. To determine the exact start time for each shot, I simply used common sense. On approach shots, I started the clock when both caddie and player had arrived at the ball and the group ahead had vacated the green. On successive shots within the group, I started it when the previous shot had clearly ended—that is, when the previous player had picked up his tee, or when the preceding putt or chip had been marked, etc.

The results are below. The numbers in the left column—1, 2, and 3—represent the order in which the player hit the shot within the group. 1* signifies shots for which a player was first in the order but had to wait on the group ahead or called for a ruling. Finally, I have color coded the times: green = a time under 40 seconds; yellow = a time between 40-60 seconds; and red = a time over 60 seconds.

Oh and the red flows…