About Patrick Gonzalez

A wandered spirit at times, but passionate about family values, interested in world cultures, and taking the journey through life with vigor and no fear in trying something new. Patrick received his FAA pilot’s license in High School before acquiring a driver’s license. He still flies regularly to keep proficient in instrument and multi-engine ratings. Traveled all over the world while in the U.S. Navy and became very appreciative of different cultures. After his military service he grew a passion for golf and became a PGA professional. He authored “Golf’s Deadly Sins” and has over 30 years of teaching experience. Patrick says that experience has shown him that nothing invented by man will ever come at you harder than life itself. "It’s always better to be on the ground wishing that you were flying, than flying wishing you were on the ground."

Sergio is a Father!

Sergio Garcia’s wife Angela gave birth to the couple’s first child, a girl, early in the morning on Wednesday (at 1:54 a.m., according to Augusta Chronicle reporter Scott Michaux). The best part? They gave her an Augusta National-inspired name: Azalea.

Garcia had a momentous year in 2017, both on the course and in his personal life. The PGA Tour veteran finally captured his first major championship victory at the Masters, defeating Justin Rose in a playoff. Garcia was embraced on the green by his then-fiancée Angela Akins. The couple tied the knot in July in Akins’s home state of Texas.

Azaleas are a flowering shrub that can be found all over the grounds at Augusta National, which used to be a nursery before it was converted into the legendary course we know it to be today. The bright pink Azalea blooms are as much a part of the Masters as the CBS theme song for the event. The par-5 13th hole at Augusta, part of the famed “Amen Corner”, is named Azalea.

Garcia will return to Augusta National in just a few weeks to defend his 2017 title, which is now sure-to-be an even more memorable experience for the new father.

Courtesy of Kevin Cunningham (golf.com)

‘I was totally nervous’: The last time Tiger Woods played a tournament at Innisbrook, he had a partner, Kelli Kuehne

Tiger Woods and Kelli Kuehne line up a put during the J. C. Penney Classic at the Innesbrook Country Club in Tarpon Springs, Florida.

When Tiger Woods announced Friday that he would make his first-ever appearance at the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship, at the Innisbrook Resort in Florida next week, memories came flooding back to Kelli Kuehne.

That’s because the last time Woods played Innisbrook’s Copperhead course in competition, it was as Kuehne’s partner — in the 1996 JCPenney Classic mixed-team event.

When reached by phone Friday, Kuehne said she and Woods were both still kids at heart — she was 19, Woods was 20 — and longtime friends who spent as much time goofing off that week as they did playing golf.

“One day we had a contest to see who had the most Nike logos on their clothes and clubs,” said Keuhne, who was then a rising star with a U.S. Girls Amateur and a pair of U.S. Women’s Amateur titles on her resume. “I think I wound up with 21 logos. He had almost that many, but I still beat him.”

“Another day his caddie Fluff [Cowan] spent time showing my brother and caddie Trip how to read a yardage book and how he marked each hole. It was my first event as a professional and I was totally nervous.”

Woods not so much. Though he, too, was a newbie pro, Woods was accustomed to the spotlight. He had already won his first professional event, in Las Vegas, so Tigermania was in full swing when he and Kuehne arrived at the Tampa-area resort.

“We were having dinner one night at the resort and this lady just walks up and hands Tiger her baby and says, ‘Please take a picture with my baby.’ I mean, right in the middle of dinner. I don’t think it even fazed him. He said, ‘Sure, I’ll take a picture.’

“He was just rolling at the time, he was Tiger, and he was the next one.”

Woods was close friends with the Kuehne family and often stayed with them when he was competing in junior events in North Texas. He and Kelli would play together, alongside her brothers, Trip and Hank, who were also serious sticks.

Woods and Kelli finished second in the Innisbrook event, one behind Mike Hulbert and Donna Andrews, but Woods still stole show.

“I remember really fast greens and tree-lined fairways everywhere, which I spent a lot of time chipping out of,” Kuehne says. “He didn’t have any problems — he just blasted it in the fairways, chipped it close and made some putts.”

The galleries lapped it up.

“I saw some big crowds in my career, but never anything like that,” Kuehne says. “I know I will never forget it as long as I live the craziness of the entire scene of people everywhere and just wanting to touch Tiger. I was just totally overwhelmed by the entire circus of the event.”

Kuehne won once on the LPGA tour, in 1999, but injuries ultimately forced her into retirement. She recently moved back to her hometown of Dallas, where she still plays golf with friends and does some teaching.

When Woods returns to Innisbrook next week, she will be watching the telecast.

“Just to relive those fun memories together,” she says. “It’s something I will never forget.”

Courtesy of Art Stricklin (golf.com)

Fred Couples dishes on Tiger Woods, playing with back pain, the Ryder Cup and if he’ll ever earn that captaincy

Fred Couples is back in your earbuds. The 58-year-old is set to host monthly shows for SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio beginning Tuesday with former Super Bowl champions Eli Manning and Justin Tuck joining him on show No. 1. He’ll wrap up the two-hour show with some golf talk, joined by a popular voice himself, Jim Nantz.

Couples joined the GOLF.com Podcast this week to talk about the show, Tiger Woods, his prospects as a Ryder Cup captain and the gravity of the Ryder Cup itself. He attended the 2016 Ryder Cup as a fan and plans to fly to Paris for it again this year, where, as he discussed on the podcast, he expects it to be the the best 24 players ever assembled for the event.

Simply put, why does Fred Couples do sports talk radio? What do you get out of it?

To be honest, I know this is going to sound crazy but I live in L.A. and Newport for my whole life and am not a music person. I listen to talk radio and I’m not big on news, so it’s usually sports. I just enjoy it. When I got the call to do this show, I thought, ‘Wow, can I handle this.’ Golf is what I do, so I thought, ‘Can I do more than golf? Can I do other sports? Can I get athletes that play golf to come on, certainly athletes that don’t play golf.’ It was very intriguing to me. It’s very nerve-wracking.

What is your favorite non-golf sport to play or non-golf sport to watch?

Well, I’m a baseball fan. My dad played baseball. My brother played baseball. I really enjoy everything. As I get older — I’m 58 — everyone knows I love TV but it’s very difficult for me to sit through a full football game. Thirty years ago you couldn’t turn the channel every two seconds and watch golf on one channel, college basketball on another, hockey on another, lacrosse on another…I enjoy just watching people. I like to watch other people. I might go to a basketball game and not even look at the guy with the ball half the time just to see what everyone else is doing. It’s intriguing.

In terms of golf, you’ll have plenty of time to talk about Tiger Woods, who played this weekend at Torrey Pines, another step on the comeback trail. Everyone tends to say the same things about him seeming happy, seeming fast, smiling. What have you seen out of him that hasn’t already been said 100 times?

That’s a great question. He’s someone I have fun texting with. We talk about his kids and golf very rarely comes up. It wasn’t that long ago that we were at the Presidents Cup — I was an assistant, he was an assistant — golf never came up in seven straight days. I didn’t ask him. I don’t know if some of the other team players asked him…my caddie Joey (LaCava) of 20-something years is caddying for him. He never gives out much. All he said is that he’s just very excited. I can see that…Now, is he the player he once was? Of course not. Can he be? Yeah, if he’s feeling good and healthy. There is another thing where you have these little back issues. At the end of the day, you’re exhausted. There was a time where I was miserable. I just couldn’t take it. It’s like having a toothache all day long.

His back injury history is well-documented. So is yours. I understand they’re not the same, but it was reported last week that he might be warming up with driver first, and that that tip came from you. Is that true, and what is the idea there?

It may have come from Joey [LaCava]. There was a time where I couldn’t hit a pitching wedge or a sand wedge. Even when I played OK golf, I would go practice and by the time I would warm up hitting sand wedges and nine-irons, my back would already hurt. I would start out with driver and hit them at 70 percent. It was just a fluid swing and I would stand really tall and it never affected my back. There were some days where I never putted, never hit any irons, just swung drivers to warm up and headed to the first tee. I think there’s nothing wrong with that. Tom Watson for the longest time has warmed up with a three-iron. That absolutely blows my mind.

Obviously, Tiger has been stretched and worked out. When he goes to the driving range, there’s that little time of 20 minutes. Tiger would tell you that if he plays golf and there’s a wait on the tee for two groups, or if someone loses a ball, he stands there for 10 minutes, it’s like you’re starting over. Your back is a very controlled thing and once it gets going, I used to say I could play 36 holes once I started if I never stopped. The problem was if I sat down, if I waited and stood and stood. It was horrible. I think he’s doing this drill. I don’t know if he did it in San Diego, he may be doing at home. But it’s really just something to get your body going where you don’t feel the strain of the bending of your back to hit wedges.

NFL great Brett Favre wants his grandkids to play golf not football

Former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre smiles during the celebrity golf scramble on the 18th hole during the second round of the 2016 Champions Tour American Family Insurance Championship.

The true dangers of football become clearer and clearer every year, and NFL Hall of Famer Brett Favre is joining a growing list of current and former pro football players who want their progeny to look elsewhere to get their sports fix, preferably golf.

Favre appeared on the CBS Sports Pick Six podcast to discuss a new documentary that features interviews with the former Green Bay Packers star. The documentary, called “Shocked,” explores the overlooked concussion dangers from athletes hitting their heads against artificial playing surfaces.

Favre says the movie has opened his eyes to how serious the concussion problem is in the game that made him famous, especially for kids. Favre noted that he has three young grandchildren, and he hopes they find a safer sport to play.

“I’m not going to encourage them to play. I’m not going to discourage [them]. But I say this to everyone who will listen: if my grandsons were to say, and they call me Paw-Paw, if they were to say ‘Paw-Paw, will you be my caddy in golf, I think I’m going to do golf instead of football,’ I would be much more happy, satisfied and excited by that then by them playing football.”

“Every tackle I would be cringing, hoping they get up and not shaking their head and saying they got a headache. But the likelihood of that happening by them playing football is very high. So I’d much rather them choose a safer route.”

Favre is not the only NFL star to feel this way. Earlier this year, current Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger echoed a similar sentiment, saying he hopes his son ends up playing golf as opposed to the ‘violent’ sport of football.

“Shocked” premieres Thursday at 6:30 p.m. ET on WatchStadium.com.

Courtesy of Kevin Cunningham (golf.com)

The Masters had its lowest TV rating in 13 years. Why?

On the surface, the 2017 Masters had all the makings of an engaging, captivating broadcast. A beautiful day in Augusta. The leader board littered with big names. A fight to the finish, one prolonged via sudden death. The enthralling narrative of a maligned soul finally breaking through. Must-see theater, incarnate.

Except, not that many people saw it.

According to Sports Media Watch, the final round of the Masters drew a 7.6 overnight rating. That’s 11-percent lower than last year, a 21-percent drop from 2015 and the tournament’s worst showing since 2004. And Sunday was far from an aberration; third-round coverage was down 19 percent from last spring, with Friday’s broadcast suffering an 18-percent drop. What gives?

Save for a rain delay, there’s rarely a clear-cut answer to viewership issues. However, Neal H. Pilson—the former president of CBS Sports and president of Pilson Communications, Inc.—has some theories.

Pilson’s first assertion involves the weather. Not at Augusta, but across America.

“The weather can be an important factor,” said Pilson, who also teaches at Columbia. “Extraordinarily good weather in parts of the country can bring numbers down. Cumulative number watching could be down for all television audiences.”

This was especially true in the Northeast and the South, the two biggest areas for golf viewership. “Good weather is a killer in swing months. In the fall, people are sneaking in one last trip to the park, and in the spring, it’s more pronounced, going outside for the first time,” Pilson says. “It was a gorgeous day in the Northeast, where 20 percent of America’s households are located. I had to struggle to stay inside myself.”

Then there’s the matter of the aforementioned big names. Or specifically, the lack thereof. While Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose are known entities to golf fans, they’re not recognized outside of the sport.

“To the people that watch only one or two tournaments a year, they’re not well known,” says Pilson. “All due respect to two guys who are very good, they’re not names that leap in front of the casual viewer. One is from Spain, the other England. I don’t think they resonate with the American fan, at least relative to who could have been leading.”

Speaking of which, the play of Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler did the broadcast no favors. Though the pair was in the penultimate group, they fell out of contention—and off our televisions—early.

“No Spieth, no Rory McIlroy or Jason Day,” said Pilson. “Dustin Johnson was not even in the tournament. They are the hottest golfers right now, and were absent on Sunday afternoon.”

However, the Masters’ ever-expanding second-screen experiences should not be chalked up for this decrease. To Pilson, the industry views these platforms as additions to the broadcast, rather than as substitutions. Watching featured groups or the action from Amen Corner doesn’t mean a viewer opts to put something else on the big screen.

“Besides, the people who watch the Masters are not the ones who go, ‘Well, I can watch this on my phone, I guess I can leave the house now,'” Pilson remarks.

Pilson doesn’t think this is part of a growing trend in sports viewership, one which saw a decrease in last summer’s Olympics and the NFL season. “Yes, we are dealing with overall drops in viewership, but this goes in peaks and valleys,” Pilson says. “It’s hard to say from just one tournament.”

It wasn’t all bleak news for the Masters. As Austin Karp of Sports Business Dailypoints out, the last 90 minutes of the telecast grew from 8.0 to 9.1 before peaking at 11.2. And the viewership of the Masters still far outweighs the expected returns from other major champions; last year’s U.S. Open pulled a final 3.4 rating on Sunday.

Courtesy of Joel Beall

Michael Bolton says he would caddie for Tiger Woods

Musician Michael Bolton hits a shot during the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at the Monterey Peninsula Country Club on February 14, 2015 in Pebble Beach, California.

Bolton has been a regular fixture on the celebrity golf circuit for years, getting in rounds with Bill Clinton, Bill Murray and Darius Rucker.

Courtesy of Extra Spin Staff (golf.com)

US President Donald Trump to play golf with Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson

Donald Trump’s list of illustrious golf partners just keeps getting bigger.

Mere weeks after playing a round with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the US President is to take to the course in Jupiter, Florida, with Tiger Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

“Will be speaking to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey this morning about bringing peace to the mess that I inherited in the Middle East,” tweeted Trump.

“After Turkey call I will be heading over to Trump National Golf Club, Jupiter, to play golf (quickly) with Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson.

“Then back to Mar-a-Lago for talks on bringing even more jobs and companies back to the USA!””

Trump has already played golf with Woods, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy and women’s world No. 3 Lexi Thompson during his time at the White House.

The 71-year-old lavished praise on Matsuyama, who branded it “an honor” to be given the opportunity to take to the course with the US President.

“[Matsuyama] is the greatest player in the history of Japan,” Trump told reporters during his maiden diplomatic visit to Asia earlier in November. “Possibly their greatest celebrity … He’s a truly great player, a great athlete.”

During the trip, Trump took time to praise the skill of South Korea’s female golfers.

To applause in Seoul, Trump acknowledged that “Korean golfers are some of the best on Earth,” before referencing their success at the 2017 US Open.

“The women’s US Open was held this year at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and it just happened to be won by a great Korean golfer, Park Sung-hyun, and eight of the top 10 players were from Korea,” Trump said.

“And the top four golfers — one, two, three, four — the top four were from Korea. Congratulations.”

READ: What’s it like playing golf with the US President?

CNN Living Golf host Shane O’Donoghue spent time with the future US President back in 2014 at Trump’s golf course in Scotland.

According to O’Donoghue, Trump “doesn’t possess the prettiest swing,” but is “deadly accurate” from the tee.

Courtesy of CNN

Rickie Fowler, Patrick Rodgers and Patton Kizzire tied for lead at OHL Classic at Mayakoba

A lengthy weather delay saw the second round of the OHL Classic at Mayakoba get cut short on Friday, and the plan was to finish the remainder of the round early on Saturday morning. Instead, more bad weather rolled in, delaying the morning start over five hours. When all was said and done, they finally completed the second round, with Rickie Fowler, Patrick Rodgers and Patton Kizzire sharing the lead at 10-under 132 and a busy Sunday in plain sight.

Fowler, who trailed Rodgers by one heading into Saturday, made three pars on the difficult closing stretch at El Camaleon to card a second-round four-under 67. It ended up being all he needed to catch the former Stanford star, who made two pars and a bogey on his final three holes to post a six-under 65.

“I felt like playing those last three, three pars, was good, that’s probably one of the harder parts of the golf course, the final five holes or so,” Fowler said.

The four-time tour winner has now made 10 straight cuts, and looks to finish at least inside the top 10 for the sixth time during that stretch.

Rodgers, 25, wasn’t thrilled with his short time on the course Saturday, but is still in a good spot to challenge for his first PGA Tour victory on Sunday.

“I didn’t play a very good three holes, but it’s all good,” Rodgers said. “I’m in great position, and we’ll see, I’d love to get in a full 72 holes and keep battling it out, but either way, in great position and looking forward to competing (on Sunday).”

Rodgers, Fowler and Kizzire will begin their third rounds at 7:35 a.m. EST. Kizzire, who didn’t even hit a shot on Saturday, opened with rounds of 62 and 70 in Mexico. He’s also looking for his first PGA Tour victory. The plan is for the remaining two rounds to be played Sunday, weather permitting, creating a marathon day in Mexico.

Like Kizzire, Brandon Harkins and Brian Gay also didn’t need to lift a club on Saturday, and sit one back in a tie for fourth at nine-under 133. They’ll tee off at 7:25 a.m. alongside John Oda, who also is at nine under in his first PGA Tour start as a professional. The former UNLV standout posted a second-round six-under 65 that featured eight birdies and two bogeys.

Charles Howell III was one of the few players in the field who began their third rounds late on Saturday night, and he took advantage, going four under in just six holes to get to eight under for the tournament. Ryan Moore and Russell Knox, while only getting in four and two holes respectively, are also at eight under for the tournament and two under in their third rounds. Martin Piller is also among the group at eight under after he carded a second-round three-under 68.

Courtesy of Christopher Powers (golfdigest.com)

Cameron McCormick Joins Golf Channel And Revolution Golf

Cameron McCormick, 2015 PGA Teacher of the Year and long-time swing coach of three-time Major Champion Jordan Spieth, will become an official member of the team of expert instructors featured on Revolution Golf and Golf Channel. The announcement was made today during McCormick’s guest appearance on Morning Drive.

Watch a clip from McCormick’s appearance on Morning Drive here.

As part of the new multi-year relationship, McCormick will host his own instructional series – featured on both Revolution Golf and Golf Channel – where he will share with golfers the knowledge he has cultivated over a 20-year coaching career, along with his creative approach to incorporating a wider perspective on what it takes to improve golf performance.

McCormick also will join Martin Hall, Sean Foley, Martin Chuck and Andrew Rice as featured faculty members on Revolution Golf, the largest direct-to-consumer digital platform in golf, which was added to NBC Sports Group’s portfolio in August. By connecting golfers of all skill levels to world-class instruction, Revolution Golf will feature the first series of instructional videos hosted by McCormick on the website before the end of the year. An accompanying DVD series is scheduled to be released in November.

“I couldn’t be more excited to partner with Golf Channel and Revolution Golf in their efforts to enhance and grow the way fans receive golf instruction,” said McCormick. “At the core of every golfer is a desire to improve their skill set, Golf Channel and Revolution Golf are allowing us to do just that. I am thrilled to join the team and provide viewers with a unique approach to instruction that they can trust.”

A Texas-based native of Melbourne, Australia, McCormick is the director of instruction at Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas, a Ben Crenshaw-Bill Coore design, which will serve as host of the 2018 AT&T Byron Nelson on the PGA TOUR. After playing college golf for Texas Tech University, he briefly played professionally before beginning a teaching career in 1998. In addition to Jordan Spieth, his renowned roster of students includes more than 13 PGA, Web.com and LPGA Tour players, 10 of the Top-100 players in the World Junior Golf Rankings, and four of Top-100 players in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.

Courtesy of The Golf Wire

A hard way to make a living: Here are the 12 worst jobs in golf

You know what they say: a bad day of golf is still better than a good day of work, especially if your work is one of these 12 gigs.


If there’s anything more awkward than the ham-fisted flirtations of a pudgy middle-aged man with booze on his breath, it’s the wan smile on the face of a patient young woman mixing yet another cocktail for her sloppy suitor and wondering when her shift will ever end.


The way tournaments have been going these days, odds are something’s going to happen—and when it does, you best know the 600-plus pages of the Decision on the Rule of Golf like you do your kids’ birthdays.


Like Mad Max on a fuel run, he heads out in his rickety, jerry-rigged ride, fully aware of the grim fate that awaits him. In an instant he is spotted by club-wielding barbarians with bucket-loads of ammo and brainless ambitions. On the course, these heathens rarely hit a green in regulation. But on the range they unleash screamers with frightening precision, whooping in celebration as they rattle the mesh cage around our hero, who, regardless of what he’s earning, should really be getting paid a whole lot more.


Though it may sound grandiose, “ambassador” is an apt title for a role that strains even the finest diplomatic skills. Pressed by antsy golfers to get things moving, our on-course Kissinger drives ahead for delicate negotiations with a stubborn, sluggish foursome, who remind him haughtily that they’ve paid their $400 so they’ll take six hours if they damn well please. Ever tactful, even in the face of such surly nonsense, our ambassador strikes a statesman-like balance between persistence and politeness. But he has no real power. As the pace of play crawls on, he rides away muttering to himself, “You came out of retirement for this?”


A caddie’s job is to keep up and shut up. That part’s easy. The hard part comes when the player does neither, banging balls all over the planet while droning on incessantly about himself and his game. Being the insufferable fellow that he is, he also blames his looper for misreading putts that he barely gets rolling and misclubbing him on irons that he flat-out shanks. He caps the miserable day by failing to tip.


Forced to wait all day for a single loop, he finally gets one. It turns out to be the guy described above.


As if an eight-hour shift under a broiling sun isn’t hard enough, there’s nowhere to relieve yourself. Well, expect for that Gatorade bottle.


He got into this line of work because he loved the game, not because he dreamed of playing yes-man to a pack of self-important Judge Smails-types who find reason to complain in everything from the speed of the greens and plushness of the fairways to the offending branches of a 300-year-old oak tree they’re bent on seeing removed.


The last time he played, he shot a tidy 67. That was 11 years ago.


On the one hand, we respect the bravery and bull-headedness required to don a wetsuit and plunge into a festering, predator-filled pond in the hopes of recovering some ProV1s, which reliably re-sell for as much as a buck each. On the other hand, we wonder: has your brain gone cloudy from the bends?


Years ago, when life spread out before you like a bright green promise, you dreamed of one day penning the Great American Novel. But now, in the age of Trump and Twitter, your own limited talents, combined with the limited attention span of readers, have reduced you to what you were probably meant to be: the author of a zillion golf-related lists. Hey, let’s see you try to do this.

Courtesy of Josh Jens (golf.com)

UPDATED: Napa fire burns grandstands hours after Safeway Open ends, forces evacuation of Silverado Resort

A tent structure built for the 2017 Safeway Open burns on a golf course at the Silverado Resort and Spa.

A fire early Monday forced the evacuation of Silverado Resort & Spa in Napa only hours after the completion of the PGA Tour’s season-opening Safeway Open.

Mitch Cosentino, a prominent winemaker in the Napa Valley, an avid golfer and friend to many on the PGA Tour, posted this on his Facebook page about 1:30 a.m. (PDT): SILVERADO COUNTRY CLUB IS IN DANGER. THE FIRES HAVE COME DOWN PAST William Hill Winery. Both sides of Hardman Rd are burning across from the driving range at the Country Club. This has passed thru a very good Cab Sauv vineyard just north of the 5th hole. I was supposed to pick Thursday. Likely no good now. Who knows what has happened to William Hill Winery.”

“Several massive wildfires burned out of control in Napa and Sonoma counties early Monday, destroying an untold number of homes and businesses, forcing the evacuation of many thousands of people and shutting down major roadways as firefighters sought to halt the advance of infernos that were driven by powerful winds,” this story in the San Francisco Chronicle said.

“Guests of the Silverado Resort and Spa on Atlas Peak Road said they had been evacuated in a rush as flames approached. The resort had hosted the Safeway Open, a PGA Tour event, which ended Sunday.

“’We were sleeping, but we kept smelling smoke,’ said Chris Thomas, 42, of Kirkland, Wash., who arrived in the Napa Valley late Sunday with his wife, Marissa Schneider, for a wine-tasting trip.”

It is not yet known whether any tour players were still at the resort, though tournament host Johnny Miller has a condominium there. Miller, on Golf Channel’s telecast on Sunday, made note of the strong winds. “This is a very unusual wind. … To have that north wind blowing out of nowhere after three days of just mild little breezes it makes it a lot tougher.”

Courtesy of John Strege (golfworld.com)

Belen Mozo makes ace at New Zealand Women’s Open, but doesn’t win car due to loophole

With the Presidents Cup taking place at Liberty National this week, and Sam Saunders joining the 59 club at the Web.com Tour Finals, it was difficult to keep up with everything in the golf world.

But the ladies are playing a golf tournament as well, all the way in Auckland, New Zealand. The field at the Mckayson New Zealand Women’s Open is quite strong, featuring stars like Lydia Ko, Brooke Henderson and Danielle Kang. But they are all chasing Spain’s Belen Mozo, who fired rounds of 66 and 64 to take a five shot lead at 14-under 130 through 36 holes.

Mozo, 29, was already working on a stellar second round when she reached the par-3 13th Windross Farm Golf Course, but it got a little more special after her tee shot took flight:

If you notice, there is a sleek little Infiniti Q60 in the background that Mozo eventually embraces after her ball finds the cup. There’s just one tiny problem: the rules say the car can only be won on the weekend. Dagger!

While it will surely sting, she can quickly forget about it with two more solid rounds on the weekend as she searches for her first LPGA Tour victory.

courtesy of Christopher Powers (golfdigest.com)

A 9,000-yard course would be nuts, but it’s also fast becoming a necessity

Over the last month, golf’s ruling bodies—the United States Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient—have conducted their most important championships, offering a referendum on their stewardship of the professional game.

At the U.S. Open, Justin Thomas became the first man to post a nine-under round at a major and Brooks Koepka decimated the longest course in U.S. Open history, posting a record 16-under on an Erin Hills layout that played around 7,800 yards. One former champion told GOLF.com, “This is not what the Open is supposed to be. It’s a joke. A highlight show.” At last week’s Open Championship, Branden Grace broke golf’s four-minute-mile barrier,torching Royal Birkdale with a record round of 62. Grace ranks 108th on the PGA Tour in driving distance; on his historic day, Birkdale played less than 7,200 yards and a short-knocker like Grace hit 9-iron or less into 10 greens, with the longest club he employed into any par 4 being a 7-iron. The longest hitters faced even less of a test as the game’s oldest championship had essentially been reduced to a pitch-and-putt.

I have been saying for years that to seriously challenge Tour players—to make them hit long-irons into some par 3s and 4s, and have a few 5s be true three-shot holes—a course needs to be around 9,000 yards. Maybe 10,000. I tweeted this in the wake of Grace’s 62 and it ruffled the feathers of many folks, including various Tour players. “That is complete nonsense!” Billy Horschel replied, with typical understatement. Colt Knost offered a similarly nuanced take: “U seriously have no idea what ur talking about!”

I’m not saying a 9,000-yard course is a good idea, only that it has become a necessity. Luke Donald partially fleshed out the problem with this solution: “SMH & 7 hour rounds, how fun Alan.” It’s true that a course of that length would require an obscene amount of land and water and time to play. But the USGA and R&A have shown no stomach for rolling back the pros’ gear.

The entire equipment industry is built on FOMO; we all want to play the latest and greatest stuff that the pros use. A reduced-flight ball would be a disaster for fan interest: Who wants to watch Dustin Johnson drive it 270 when we can do it ourselves? So while throttling back the ball and driver would be an easy fix to make today’s courses relevant again, I am operating under the premise that it will never happen, despite the pleas of Jack Nicklaus and many other truth-tellers. So where does the game go from here?

Course setup seems like an easy answer. As Knost tweeted at me, “They can’t help that there is no wind and soft greens [at Birkdale]. Deep rough firm greens [is the answer]. Course can be 6800 yards and play tough. Look at Olympic club.” The same thing was said of Erin Hills: It would have been a totally different test if it had played tournament and fast. But it often rains during the Open Championship, and every U.S. Open and PGA Championship in the Midwest or East is likely to get wet, just as so many Masters weeks have been touched by storms. To bank on dry, fiery conditions to give a venue its teeth is foolish.

Links courses have always used wind as a primary defense and still conditions led to good scoring, but nowadays no wind means these 19th-century playing fields will be destroyed by modern athletes who optimize their performance with trainers, nutritionists, osteopaths, sports psychologists, putting gurus, stats experts, Trackman, Swedish nannies and a host of other modern advances. Unless every major moves to California (home of the Olympic Club), firm and fast will remain a mirage.

So what about deep rough and narrow fairways? No doubt that setup is a deterrent to low scoring. But it also leads to a tedious, constrained style of golf, where shotmaking is diminished. A very penal setup off the tee means power players will simply leave the big stick in the bag. Driving it long and straight is the toughest task in golf, and those who can do both deserve to be rewarded; if there is no room to hit driver, the sport has been diminished and the venue is not offering a true test.

I should state here that I don’t really care about the concept of protecting par. Whether the winning score at a major championship is six under or 14 under is of little interest to me; what I care about is how the score was accomplished. Laying up off the tee with 3-woods and hybrids and hitting short irons into most greens simply makes the game too easy. Birdiefests at everyday Tour events are fun, but the majors should test every aspect of players’ games while pushing them to the brink spiritually.

Jordan Spieth described his third-round 65 at Birkdale as “stress-free.” I’m sorry, but trying to protect a lead in the final group on Saturday at a major should involve some stress. At the U.S. Open last month Dru Love, son of Davis and a college-aged amateur who was playing in his first Open, described Erin Hills, after a first-round 71 as “pretty easy,” while Matt Kuchar’s caddie, John Wood, noted that “nobody’s playing with any fear.” Wood was right. During the final round there was never a sense of imminent danger, the rain-softened course was simply too short, even at 7,800 yards. Erin Hills had been built to accommodate drivers but in the end was bludgeoned to death by them.

This is the point where I should offer a brilliant solution but, alas, there isn’t one. The USGA and R&A have begat a mess that can’t easily be cleaned up. Golf’s most important events now need the perfect mix of sunbaked greens and stiff wind to offer the right challenge. This will happen only occasionally, so in a doomed effort to protect the reputation of the courses (and ruling bodies) you can expect more silly setups like the dead greens at Chambers Bay or shaved greens at the Old Course in 2015, which led to a suspension of play due to wind (even though every other nearby course was open for play), or what we saw at Merion, with crazy pin positions and players hitting irons off the tee at many/most of the par 4s, which is about as boring as golf gets.

Every sport evolves, and golf has done so rapidly this century, which began with the solid-core ball revolution. In response to my original tweet a few folks pointed out that basketball players have grown bigger and stronger and more skilled but the NBA hasn’t raised the rims. That’s because those bigger, stronger players also play defense, keeping the game in balance. The only defense golf courses have today is the weather, with all of its capriciousness, or extreme setups, with all of their flaws. The equivalent of 6’11″ point guard is a 9,000-yard golf course. Like it or not, the time has come.

Courtesy of Alan Shipnuck(golf.com)


Lydia Ko regains form, ties Lexi Thompson for Indy lead

Lydia Ko delivered a clear message to her LPGA Tour rivals Friday.

She’s having fun again – and she’s ready to start winning again.

The 20-year-old New Zealander shot an 8-under 64 and grabbed a share of the lead with Lexi Thompson at 15-under 129 with a round left in the Indy Women in Tech Championship. If Ko puts together one more solid round Saturday, she could finally pick up her first win since July 2016.

“I know I’ve still got a whole, full 18 holes tomorrow to go, but I think really the key was that I’ve just kind of enjoyed being in this position and being able to hit some good shots and give myself some good looks at birdie,” Ko said. “When you start doing that, it builds your confidence and you’re not dwelling on, ‘Hey, am I going to hit a good shot or a bad shot.’ I think that’s kind of the mindset that I’ve kind of gotten into the last few months.”

After a summer full of frustration, the 14-time tour winner has shifted gears at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s golf course.

Ko started the season with four top-10 finishes in seven events, but hasn’t finished higher than 10th since. She even missed the cuts in two of her last three tournaments.

Somehow, amid the intermittent sounds of chirping birds, jet engines, sirens and car horns while playing in the shadows of the racetrack’s grandstands, Ko found some serenity.

While playing partners Anna Nordqvist and Stacy Lewis, the winner last week in Portland, Oregon, struggled, Ko took advantage of the wide fairways and receptive greens and started playing like the world’s No. 1 player- a title she held for more than 80 consecutive weeks.

Now No. 8 in the world, Ko started on the back nine and opened with consecutive birdies to tie Thompson at 9 under. Ko finally broke the tie with a birdie at No. 15, then took charge with five straight birdies on the front side to reach 16 under. The only glitch came on No. 8 when Ko missed the green to the left and slid her par putt to the right for a bogey.

“It was a little disappointing to finish off with a bogey on my 17th hole, but I felt like I played the toughest hole out there,” she said while Thompson prepared to tee off nearby. “Sometimes you have those mistakes but you need to move on from that. To me, it’s just nice to play some solid golf and put myself in a good position.”

Ko also understood her score might not hold up for the outright lead.

Thompson made sure of it, following her opening 63 with a 66.

The 22-year-old Florida player closed out the front nine with three birdies on the final four holes then adding birdies at Nos. 13 and 14 to tie Ko. But Thompson’s birdie putt at No. 16 missed just to the left of the hole and she wound up scrambling for par on the final two holes when her approaches went through the greens.

“Actually, I didn’t hit one bad golf shot today,” Thompson said. “I feel great about it, I’ll never complain about a 6-under round.”

The final threesome Saturday might not need to do much scoreboard watching.

Candie Kung made nine birdies and shot a 64 to reach 14 under.

“Luckily, I was able to hit some really close ones and have some 3-footers and 5-footers for birdies and I pretty much made all of them except the last one,” Kung said.

Ashleigh Buhai was fourth at 11 under after a 66, and Cristie Kerr (67) and Amy Olson (68) were 10 under.

Kerr has more than golf on her mind.

“We live in Scottsdale, Arizona, right now, but my whole family is there (in Florida) and tons of friends and I’m just really, really worried for everybody,” Kerr said as her home state braces for Hurricane Irma.

Sandra Gal was tied with Kung at 14 under, then bogeyed the par-3 15th and hit two drives into the water on the par-4 16th en route to a 10. She finished with a 73 to drop eight strokes behind the leaders.

Amateur Erica Shepherd was 5 under after a 68.

Lewis made the cut on the number at 2 under with rounds of 72 and 70.

Nordqvist failed to advance, shooting 74-71 to finish at 1 over.

Courtesy AP NEWS

Hurricane Harvey uproots Houston golf teams

Houston golf coaches Gerrod Chadwell and Jonathan Dismuke used kayaks to rescue their programs’ Trackman, camera equipment and other electronics on Sunday from their home facility at the Golf Club of Houston. Chadwell said the water was 8 to 9 feet deep in the area around the Dave Williams Golf Academy. He sent pictures of the completely submerged championship course, which annually hosts the Shell Houston Open.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Chadwell. “It’s water as far you can see.”

The Houston women were slated to have their annual retreat at Bluejack National this year. Juli Inkster held a similar getaway filled with golf, corn hole and fishing for the U.S. Solheim Cup team candidates last April.

But with weather coming in, the Cougars instead practiced in the rain at their home facility on Friday and then headed to the home of Chadwell and his wife, LPGA golfer Stacy Lewis, for a team dinner. Chadwell said their home, which is located in the Golf Club of Houston community, is safe but lost electricity.

The traveling party of 14 then moved to the home of senior Allie Andersen in The Woodlands, Texas. Andersen’s family has a generator, but so far hasn’t had to use it.

The team got outside and played football in the rain to take their minds off of Harvey and its devastating aftermath.

Hurricane Harvey, now a tropical storm, dumped a staggering 49 inches on the city of Houston. Chadwell loaded up his team on Tuesday afternoon and headed to Dallas. It was still raining when they drove past a line of boat trailers along the side of the road.

“You see these people put their boats in off the highway to do whatever they can,” he said.

Chadwell was grateful to SMU head coach Jeanne Sutherland for gathering support from the Ladies Amateur Golf Association of North Texas to give Houston coaches gift cards to Target and other area businesses to help players buy essentials. Most players left town with only lounge-around clothes. Some don’t even have golf shoes.

Dallas Athletic Club offered to open its doors so the team can practice; they’ll use a gym on SMU’s campus.

“The golfing community is pretty cool,” said Chadwell.

The University of Houston is scheduled to reopen next Tuesday, but Chadwell isn’t sure that’s realistic. When they do return to campus, he sees volunteer work taking the place of practice. The Cougars are scheduled to open the season Sept. 15 in Franklin, Tenn., at the Mason Rudolph Championship.

“Whenever we do go home golf is going to be so secondary,” he said.

Courtesy of Beth Ann Nichols (golfweek.com)

Mickelson credits Tiger for helping him reach his ‘level of success’

Tiger Woods’ impact on the game of golf is undeniable. According to one of Woods’ biggest rivals, however, his impact on the games’ players was equally indelible.

On Tuesday, Mickelson was candid about the influence Woods had on his game, fitness, and overall success.

“I feel as though had Tiger not come around, I don’t feel I would have pushed myself to achieve what I ended up achieving,” Mickelson said, according to Golf.com’s Kevin Cunningham. “He forced everybody to get the best out of themselves. He forced everybody to work a little bit harder.”

Tiger’s dedication to fitness and his commitment to staying in the best shape possible led Mickelson to change his own approach on the physical side of the game, leading Lefty to a career littered with trophies.

“I don’t think I would have had the same level of success had he not come around.”

Thursday’s opening-round action of the PGA Championship from Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C., will mark the 100th major tournament of Mickelson’s storied career.

courtesy of Flip Livingstone (The Score)

The 10 Best Golf Resorts in North America — Chosen By You!

It’s only fitting that The Broadmoor has climbed to the top of our biennial resort rankings. Though lofty heights are nothing new for the venerable retreat in the Colorado Rockies, this is the perennial contender’s first trip to the summit. In a mild upset, the Broadmoor narrowly edged out the reigning champ, Bandon Dunes.

As always, the quality of the golf was paramount in tabulating the votes. We enjoy puffy pillows and plummy wine as much as you do, but challenging layouts and tee-box panoramas come first in our book. As you cruise through our list of Platinum, Gold and Silver medal winners, warm yourselves with late-winter thoughts of emerald fairways and hot-stone massages. This year, 15 first-time medal winners made the list, including the Grand Del Mar in San Diego, our highest-ranked newcomer.

Oh, and when you call the folks at the reservation desks, ask about special packages — including all-you-can-play deals. You might save a few bucks, or land a bigger room. And during your stay, remember two important things: (1) Never leave a birdie putt short. (2) Never tell your buddies about the mud mask and facial you had at the spa. That’s our little secret.

The Broadmoor
Colorado Springs, Colo. 855-634-7711, broadmoor.com

Since legendary entrepreneur Philip Anschutz purchased The Broadmoor in 2011, management has made impressive renovations to the hotel and its restaurants, and also dramatically upgraded the amenity package. The Broadmoor’s jump to the top spot in our rankings was powered by a runaway win in the Service category and top-5 showings in both Lodging and Food & Drink. True, the golf (three 18-hole tracks) isn’t as spectacular as it is at some iconic resorts. But the East Course — featuring design elements courtesy of Donald Ross and Robert Trent Jones — is strong enough to have hosted both the 2008 U.S. Senior Open and the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open. And, well, the Rocky Mountains will just have to suffice as the backdrop for your on-course heroics.

The American Club
Kohler, Wis. 800-344-2838, americanclubresort.com

Since we introduced the Platinum medal category in 2008, this heartland haven has earned four straight slots in the Top 3. And now the historic hotel has been remodeled, as has the adjacent Carriage House Annex. Good news for beer-and-brat fans: The celebrated Horse & Plow restaurant has reopened. The Golf score is the strong suit at The American Club. The revamped Blackwolf Run course wowed competitors at the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open. And the Whistling Straits track, with its countless bunkers and stunning Lake Michigan vistas, is muscular and demanding enough to host both the 2015 PGA Championship and the 2020 Ryder Cup.

The Greenbrier
White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. 855-453-4858, greenbrier.com

The Greenbrier is an old reliable among our Platinum winners—it just exudes tradition. Yet its golf greatness derives from the fact that it never stands still. Consider the 101-year-old Old White TPC course, one of the few C.B. Macdonald masterworks open to the public. The course was lovingly restored by Lester George in 2006, and more recently it was further toughened up to challenge the big boys on the PGA Tour, in the Greenbrier Classic. Even with its three acclaimed tracks — the Greenbrier Course hosted the 1979 Ryder Cup, Seve’s first — it’s the resort’s top-6 rankings in Lodging, Food & Drink and Service that keep it in rarified air.

Bandon Dunes Golf Resort
Bandon, Ore. 888-345-6008, bandondunes.com

The Oregon gem didn’t take long to become a legend. The oldest of its four full-length courses is only 14, but Bandon Dunes already has a place in our golf psyches. There’s something about its mix of earth and sea and sky that thrills. Although Bandon finished No. 2 overall, it won the coveted top spot in the Golf rankings. And this year, reviewers rave about Bandon’s new small-ball offerings: Bandon Preserve, a brilliant 13-hole par-3 course courtesy of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, and The Punchbowl, America’s most entertaining putting course. This 3.5-acre gathering place — or is it a watering hole? — features drink holders at every tee.

Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Kiawah Island, S.C. 800-654-2924, kiawahresort.com

When Rory Mcllroy lapped the field with his record-setting march to victory at the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah’s Ocean Course, the world was reminded of the track’s character and the resort’s beauty. Four other top-notch tracks lift Kiawah to a Top 10 Golf ranking, and the eco-sensitive resort on the Atlantic Ocean grabs top-20 spots in every other category. The pristine beaches are exquisite, the tennis program world-class, and the Sanctuary Hotel (its decor conjuring thoughts of Gone with the Wind) is a charmer. The Atlantic is a constant companion at Kiawah. As you sip a Dark & Stormy (spiced rum, ginger beer and lime) at the Ryder Cup Bar while you gaze out at the course and the waves, you’ll feel both the energy and serenity of the sea.

Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation
Greensboro, Ga. 706-467-0600, ritzcarltonlodge.com

This boutique-sized property with massive golf offerings slipped out of our Top 10 in 2012. Now under new ownership, Reynolds Plantation is back in the Platinum elite. It boasts a lovely lakeside location midway between Atlanta and Augusta — a stay would be the perfect capper to Masters week. The renovated rooms emphasize gracious Southern stylings, and the restaurant, Georgia’s Bistro — with timber ceiling beams and a baronial fireplace — has been polished up. And they haven’t forgotten the golf. A reworking of the Landing course by original architect Bob Cupp, with former Augusta National superintendent Billy Fuller, has restored The Ritz at Reynolds to its elevated status.

Pebble Beach Resorts
Pebble Beach, Calif. 800-654-9300, pebblebeach.com

We could treat the three resorts — the Lodge at Pebble Beach, the Inn at Spanish Bay and Casa Palmero — as separate properties. But the shuttle system, shared facilities and overall high quality make them feel like one dream-fulfilling package. Always a top-5 scorer in Golf (Those rocks! Those seals! That ocean!), Pebble has upped the ante yet again, this time by tweaking the greens and expanding the practice facility. The biggest upgrade in dining options is The Bench, a new restaurant that overlooks the 18th hole at the Lodge at Pebble Beach. Wood-roasted entrées, relaxed ambience and Instagram-worthy views of the Pacific have already made it wildly popular with both guests and locals. It’s no surprise that Pebble…well, rocks.

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Ka’upulehu
Kailua-Kona, Big Island, Hawaii 808-325-8000, fourseasons.com/hualalai

As if you needed another reason to visit paradise, this multiple Platinum winner on the dry north Kona coast of Hawaii’s Big Island earned the No. 1 ranking in Lodging. Guests rave about the resort’s roomy, low-slung bungalows, which melt into the landscape and offer a seamless transition between indoors and out. For good measure, the property scored a third-place finish in Service and a fourth in Food & Drink. There’s plenty to tweet home about on the oceanside Jack Nicklaus course; it’s friendly, lava-lined and packed with holes demanding enough to test the Champions Tour pros each year in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship.

Pinehurst Resort
Pinehurst, N.C. 855-235-8507, pinehurst.com

This June, Pinehurst’s fabled No. 2 will make history when it hosts both the men’s and women’s U.S. Opens in back-to-back weeks. Donald Ross’s classic course — and those famed crowned greens — will be ready, having been brilliantly restored by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. Many of the resort’s other golf venues have been polished up as well. They’ve converted the bent-grass greens on courses 1, 3 and 8 to the smoother-rolling ultra-dwarf Bermuda. And they’ve added a new 18-hole putting course, Thistle Dhu, so named because when steamship magnate James Barber first saw the property on which he built his estate — and the first miniature golf course in the country — he is rumored to have said, “This’ll do.”

Sea Island Resort
Sea Island, Ga. 888-732-4752, seaisland.com

If you’re a charter member of Foodie Nation, take note: Sea Island won the resort Food & Drink crown. That’s quite a coup given all the good eats out there. A new dining option, Tavola, merges classic Italian with traditional Lowcountry accents in a casual environment. And Sea Island is also top 5 across the board: No. 3 for Lodging (both for its Lodge and for its historic Cloister), No. 4 for Service, and stellar as to the golf. The Retreat Course was reworked by Davis Love Ill and his brother Mark in 2000. The Plantation course makes magic of marshes, and the links-style Seaside course, host to the McGladrey Classic, is both beautiful and Tour-tough.

Courtesy of Joe Passov (golf.com)

9 things you need to know about British Open host Royal Birkdale

Here’s what you need to know about Royal Birkdale Golf Club, the host of the 2017 British Open Championship.

1. Royal Birkdale, located in Southport, England, has hosted the British Open nine times, starting in 1954. Past winners include Arnold Palmer in 1961, Lee Trevino in 1971, Johnny Miller in 1976 and Tom Watson in 1983. Padraig Harrington was the most recent winner at the course, in 2008.

2. It is one of three courses in northern England that’s in the Open Rota.

3. Birkdale was opened in 1889 and became an early pioneer in women’s golf when club members voted to allow women to play the course for three days each week.

4. In 1890, the first women were elected as members. One of the first tournaments hosted at Birkdale was a ladies’ championship.

5. In the 1969 Ryder Cup, Birkdale was the site of the famous “Concession.” Jack Nicklaus conceded the 18th hole to Tony Jacklin in what the club’s history calls “a gesture of supreme sportsmanship which has never been forgotten.” The match ended in a 16-16 tie. He finished T4 and two off the lead.

MORE: The outrageous and crazy adventures of the Claret Jug

6. Justin Rose burst onto the scene at the 1998 Open at Birkdale. Playing as a 17-year-old amateur, Rose shot 66 in the second round and was tied for second place through 36 holes. He turned professional when the tournament was over.

7. At three over, Harrington’s 2008 score was the highest to par of the nine Open winners to conquer Birkdale. That week the course was blasted by 20-mph winds and driving rain. In the final round, only three players managed to break par.

8. Harrington is the only Irish winner at Birkdale. No Brit has ever won the Open there.

9. You can play where the pros do, as Royal Birkdale is open to the public, but only at certain times. Check the website for more details.

courtesy of Golf Wire

Sergio was golf’s tragic figure; now he’s the champion he was meant to be

In the shadow of Medinah Country Club’s majestic clubhouse, at a PGA Championship long ago, Ben Crenshaw waited for his audience with the boy king. Crenshaw was a month away from serving as captain of the 1999 U.S. Ryder Cup team, so he was closely eyeing the final round of the PGA, watching to see how both teams might gel. Just moments earlier, Sergio Garcia had run out of holes in a thrilling duel with Tiger Woods, failing to claim the Wanamaker trophy but securing a spot in his very first Ryder Cup. “Boy, that kid is gonna be a handful,” Crenshaw said. Finally, the young Spaniard materialized, and Crenshaw offered him a manly hug and some down-home consolation: “You didn’t get this one, but you’re gonna win so many of these you’re gonna get tired of lifting trophies.”

Of course, who didn’t get swept up in the turn-of-the-century Sergiomania? The kid had it all, including a boyishness that transcended borders. But what Crenshaw couldn’t know was that the “99 PGA Championship would propel Woods to the most dominant run of golf ever played. Poor Sergio had his spirit crushed along the way, and by the time the 2002 U.S. Open rolled around, his public image had already curdled, culminating in him flipping the bird to a Bethpage gallery that was mercilessly heckling him. (Sometimes the jeers turned into mockery, as when Sergio showed up for the final round of the 2006 Open Championship, and another showdown with Woods, in an all-yellow outfit. Overserved fans took to calling him both “Big Bird” and “Banana Man.”) Over the next decade and a half, Garcia did indeed manage to lift many trophies, but of course no majors. He had good health, immense wealth and a string of glamorous girlfriends, and yet he somehow became a tragic figure—what the British tabloids liked to call a “nearly man.”

It was when we finally gave up on Garcia that he became the player he was meant to be, winning the 2017 Masters in one of the grittiest, most satisfying performances ever. Decades from now they’ll be singing songs in Spanish taverns about Garcia’s par out of the hazard on the 13th on Sunday, and his flag-hunting approach shots on 15 and 18, to say nothing of the decisive birdie in sudden death. That putt caught a piece of the hole and tumbled in. Back in the old days, when Garcia saw himself as a dogged victim of inexorable fate, his ball would have done a power lip-out and trickled off the green.

Much was made at Augusta of how Garcia has been changed by his fiancée Angela Akins, the former Golf Channel talent. Her father Marty is an underrated part of the story. Just as Dustin Johnson is benefiting from the hard-won wisdom of his future father-in-law, Wayne Gretzky, Garcia has fallen under the thrall of Marty, an All-American quarterback at the University of Texas who was such a schoolboy legend that LBJ personally recruited him on behalf of the Longhorns. On Saturday evening at this year’s Masters, I found Marty on a couch in the Augusta National locker room. He had tired of battling the crowds and was plopped in front of a large TV. “I want to see his eyes,” he said of Garcia. And what did his future son-in-law’s visage reveal? “I see confidence,” he told me. “He’s not afraid of anyone or anything.”

Where does Garcia go from here? Ben Hogan won eight majors after he turned 37. Phil Mickelson nabbed multiple majors at an advanced age. Maybe Garcia will go on a run to secure his place in the pantheon. Or maybe this Masters will be the exclamation point on a very good career. Either way, the man has already been made whole.

courtesy of (golf.com) Alan Shipnuck

Thanks for the memories: the 14 greatest Phil-Bones moments

May 26, 2017; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Phil Mickelson gets direction from his caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay before teeing off on the 9th hole during the second round of the Dean & Deluca Invitational golf tournament at Colonial Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-327610 ORIG FILE ID: 20170526_pjc_si4_894.JPG

Twenty-five years and 41 Tour wins later, one of golf’s most enduring relationships is over. As Phil Mickelson and his longtime caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay part ways, we look back at 14 of their most memorable moments together.


As in a Hollywood bromance, the two meet cutely during a practice round at the 1992 Players Championship. Bones is caddying for Scott Simpson, who is playing with Gary McCord and a certain four-time All-American out of Arizona State. Phil has his father, Phil Sr., on his bag. After the round, Phil is signing autographs when he turns to Bones. “Are you interested?”  Um, you think?  “I mean, everybody was,” Bones recalls.


Their first on-course action together takes place during the sectional qualifiers in Memphis for the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Qualify, schmalify. Phil shatters the course record with Bones at his side.


Phil already has one Tour win to his name: the 1991 Telecom Open, which he captured as an amateur. His first victory with Bones, though, comes soon enough. It’s at the 1993 Buick Invitational at Riviera, where Phil closes with a 65 to win by four.


Mickelson swings left but he throws right. A reminder comes before the final round of the 2001 PGA Championship, where he and Bones, like father and son, play catch in the parking lot.


“Caddying at a molecular level,” David Feherty calls it, after microphones capture a not-atypical conversation between Bones and his man at the 2012 Northern Trust Open in L.A. Should Phil hit a normal hook? A rounded hook? A standard “Pelz”? What about the wind? The ball could come it hot, or “side-slash” toward the flagstick. On and on it goes. Their chat is catnip for golf nerds. As for the shot itself? Ho-hum. Six feet from the cup.


It’s 2008, and Mackay’s brother, Tom, is getting married in Vermont—on the Saturday of the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston. Phil tells Bones to take the week off. Yeah, right. Instead, Mackay attends the morning wedding, then charters a flight back to Boston so he can loop for Phil that afternoon.


After 12 years together and many close calls, it finally happens: trailing by three on the back nine on Sunday, Mickelson puts on a closing charge that culminates with a dramatic birdie bid on 18. The putt drops. Phil and Bones embrace in celebration of Mickelson’s first major win.


In announcing their split, Mickelson emphasized that no single incident led to the decision. But you know the Internet: people speculate. One moment commentators have zeroed in on took place on the 17th tee at TPC Sawgrass during the second round of this year’s Players Championship, where Phil and Bones engaged in a testy exchange over club selection. (“I understand what I need to do,” Phil said at one point. “I need numbers right now.”) Mickelson wound up hitting a hard wedge. Bones had reportedly suggested nine-iron. The ball found the water behind the island green.


If caddies could take mulligans, Bones says he would like to take another crack at reading Phil’s birdie putt on the 17th hole at Pinehurst during Sunday’s final round. Bones thinks it will roll straight. The ball breaks right. Bye-bye, birdie. Mickelson winds up losing to Payne Stewart by one.


On the cusp of winning the U.S. Open, Phil pulls driver on the 18th tee and blasts an errant shot into the trees. A failed attempt at an aggressive recovery shot later, and Mickelson is on his way to a double bogey, his title hopes dashed. “I’m such an idiot,” Phil says afterwards. Asked about the incident later, Bones says that given a second chance, he wouldn’t advise his man any differently.


Sunday at the 2010 Masters. Phil’s tee shot finds the pine straw to the right of the 13th fairway. Two-hundred seven yards from the pin. A narrow gap between the trees. Rae’s Creek awaiting a sloppy shot. Bones raises the possibility of laying up. Mickelson is having none of it. “So I back off,” Bones recalled later, “and now we’re waiting for the green to clear.” The rest is history. A six-iron rifled to four feet, and a shot that lives on in Masters lore.


Is Phil kidding? No, he’s not. During the second round of the 2017 Masters, Mickelson asks Bones to tend the flagstick for him as he plays a 61-yard wedge shot on the 13th hole, something he also famously did on the closing hole at Torrey Pines in 2011.


Under ordinary circumstances, Mackay would no sooner miss a tee time than John Daly would miss a meal. But circumstances aren’t normal at the 2017 WGC-Mexico Championship, where a stomach virus strikes Bones before the start of play on Friday. Bones starts the round but is too ill to finish. “You can’t replace somebody like Bones,” Phil says. But in what looks in retrospect like foreshadowing, Phil’s brother, Tim, fills in for Bones on the bag.


There’s not a dry eye on the 18th green at Muirfield as Mickelson captures the Claret Jug. After an emotional embrace, player and caddie walk off the course together, arms over each other’s shoulder. Phil is obviously choked up. Bones is shown on camera, wiping away tears. You were probably dewy-eyed, too.

  • Courtesy of Josh Sens (golf.com)