Kris Tamulis Wins Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic for 1st LPGA Victory

lpgaKris Tamulis won the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic on Sunday for her first LPGA Tour title.

Tamulis played 29 holes Sunday in the twice-delayed tournament, the 186th of her LPGA Tour career. She finished a third-round 67 and closed with a 65 to beat Yani Tseng and Austin Ernst by a stroke.

The 34-year-old former Florida State player finished at 17-under 271 on The Senator Course.

Tseng had rounds of 71 and 67, and Ernst shot 68-69 with the weather clearing up after delays totaling nearly 7 hours the previous two days. Both parred the final hole with a chance to force a playoff.

Tamulis birdied four of the first six holes in the final round before finally making her only bogey of the last three rounds. She hadn’t finished better than fourth on the tour.

courtesy of AP NEWS (

Report: John Daly Taken to Hospital After Collapsing on Golf Course

john-daly-collapseJohn Daly collapsed near the end of a round of golf Saturday and was taken by ambulance to a hospital.

The 49-year-old Daly was playing in a small event at Deerfield Golf Club in Jackson’s northern suburbs.

Daly’s friend, Billy Allen, who was with Daly at the hospital, said the two-time major champion’s vital signs were good but doctors were checking on possible injuries to his ribs and fingers.

Deerfield club pro Leigh Brannan, who was at the tournament, said Daly was having trouble with the heat and had some difficulty breathing before being taken to the hospital. Temperatures were near 90 degrees in the Jackson area.

“He was struggling pretty badly right before he collapsed,” Brannan said. “But we’re all hoping it’s nothing serious and that he was just a little dehydrated. He was even telling (Allen) he still wants to play (Sunday).

Daly’s hard-living ways have been well documented during a colorful career on the PGA Tour. He most recently made headlines after throwing his 6-iron into Lake Michigan during the PGA Championship after hitting three balls into the water.

Daly became a popular figure in the game of golf after coming out of nowhere to win the 1991 PGA Championship at Crooked Stick, which he followed up with a victory at the Open Championship at St. Andrews in 1995. He has struggled on Tour for many years, often making headlines more frequently for his behavior off the course.

courtesy of AP NEWS (

The 6 Coolest Pro-Ams in Golf


When the price tag includes a comma, it better be a special round of golf. The best pro-ams don’t just pair you with the world’s top players, they also shower you with perks. Here are a half dozen that are worth the price of admission.

TPC Lousiana, Avondale, La.
Cost: $6,000

Forget Fat Tuesday. In Nawlins, they party hard on Wednesdays, too. Witness the festivities that unfold midweek at the Zurich Classic, when a host of marquee restaurants set up catering stations around the course, turning a friendly competition into a Creole feast. In 2011, between bites of beignets and crawfish etouffee, Tour pro Jerry Kelly set an unofficial record for oyster consumption, sucking back so many that the scorekeepers lost count. We’ll put you down for a dozen on the first hole, no matter how many shots you take.

Plantation Course, Kapalua Resort, Maui, Hawaii
Cost: $7,500

No chance of getting paired with a no-name pro. Not in a field that features 30 Tour winners from the previous season. Like them, you’ve earned the right to peg it in a 3-D postcard, with palm trees dancing in the foreground and humpbacks breaching in the blue beyond. From the first tee, a downhill par-4 with an ocean panoramic, the course unfolds like a tropical idyll. The tradewinds are blowing and there’s O.B. left. As if that matters. Titleist lost. Paradise found.

TPC Stadium Course, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Cost: $11,000

Over the weekend, the tournament itself takes on the boozy vibe of a campus kegger. But the pro-am’s when you start getting on your buzz. Reach into your swag bag. Aside from Oakley sports sunglasses and Bose noise-cancelling headphones, you’ll find a whiskey flask and a bottle of Platinum Johnny Walker Scotch. Take a swig and soak up your surroundings. Even on a Wednesday, the grounds are crowded, and, this being Scottsdale, land of skimpy outfits and surgical enhancements, the people-watching is unsurpassed.

Pebble Beach Golf Links, Monterey Peninsula CC, Spyglass Hill, Pebble Beach, Calif.
Cost: $18,500

You know you’ve made the A-list when you score an invite to the famous seaside shindig that Bing Crosby called the Clambake, a gathering of screen stars, athletes and entertainers on a stage as grand as any in the game. Like Jack Lemmon and Bob Hope before you, you’ll get to strut your stuff in front of sellout crowds at Pebble. Pressure? Nah. The throngs aren’t watching you. They’re eyeballing Bill Murray, whose loosey-goosey antics and deadpan interactions with the masses embody the event as it was meant to be.

Wentworth, Surrey, England
Cost: $25,000

One week after the British Open, the Black Knight rifles through his Rolodex, and a host of headline names answer his call. Fowler, Couples, Westwood and Kaymer rank among the stars who’ve taken part in this fundraiser, which benefits a children’s charity. But it’s Player who really puts his stamp on the proceedings. The nine-time major winner kicks off the event with an intimate golf clinic, then mills about the course during the competition, hitting shots and trading stories with every group.

St. Andrews, Scotland
Cost: Unknown

Teleport the Pebble pro-am across the pond and give it a windblown Scottish look, and you’d get something like this high-wattage event. Call it the AT&T in tweed. The format pits top pros with headline amateurs from sports and entertainment, such as Michael Phelps, Hugh Grant and Samuel L. Jackson. But the three-course rota might be the biggest star. After rounds on the Old Course, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, there’s a 54-hole cut. Then it’s back to St. Andrews for the finale. It’s an invitation-only affair (presumably for types who don’t shy away from five-figure entry fees), though in 2014 the tournament did put one playing spot up for auction on eBay.

courtesy of Josh Sens (

The Amazing Story of the Only Par-4 Hole-in-One in PGA Tour History

In the history of the PGA Tour, there has been only one hole-in-one to date on a par-4 hole. It happened at TPC Scottsdale, home of the Phoenix Open (then called the FBR Open).

The hole was No. 17, the year was 2001, and the golfer was Andrew Magee. But the circumstances were anything but normal.

Magee, just an average driver of the ball, didn’t think he’d be able to reach the green on the hole, which that day measured 332 yards from tee to green.

So he didn’t wait for the group ahead to clear the green. Instead, he teed up, and – steaming over a double bogey one hole earlier – muscled up. He let loose with the driver, and his golf ball went farther than he expected.

The ball went so far that it ran up onto the green while the group of Steve Pate, Gary Nicklaus (yes, Jack’s son) and Tom Byrum were still putting. Magee’s ball bounded onto the green and caught Pate by surprise, who jumped out of the way and warned Nicklaus a golf ball was coming. But Byrum was squatting down studying the line of his putt and failed to notice.

Magee’s ball ran through Byrum’s legs and struck Byrum’s putter. The ball ricocheted off Byrum’s putter, caromed about eight feet, and dropped right into the cup. Hole in one. Ace. And still the only par-4 ace on the PGA Tour, and surely one of the more unusual aces of any kind in tour history.

The incident also produced a fantastic quip from Nicklaus’ caddie, Rusty Uresti, who said afterward, “It was the first putt Tom (Byrum) made all day.”

Alas, no video exists of Magee’s par-4 hole-in-one hitting Byrum’s putter or dropping into the cup.

Aces on par-4 holes on other tours both preceded and followed Magee’s at the 2001 Phoenix Open. In 2013, Jason Kokrak aced a 409-yard par-4 hole at the PGA Tour’s McGladrey Classic – but not in the tournament itself, rather in the pro-am that preceded the tournament.

On the Hooters Tour (a third-level tour in the United States) in 2006, Andrew Tschudin aced a 357-yard par-4 during the tour’s Bayou Classic.

Perhaps most famously (aside from Magee’s hole-in-one in Phoenix) was a 1971 par-4 ace in Great Britain. Today’s European Tour didn’t come into existence until 1972, so technically, this ace didn’t happen on the Euro Tour. But it did happen in a significant European event of the time, the Martini International, and it was the second consecutive ace – two aces in two holes – for the golfer who made it.

courtesy of Brent Kelley (


NBC Sports Group to televise nearly 100 hours of tournament and news programming surrounding the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup Playoffs

fedexcupNBC Sports Group is gearing up its coverage plans to televise nearly 100 hours of live tournament and news programming surrounding the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup Playoffs, beginning Thursday with The Barclays. The top-125 players in the regular season points standings are eligible to tee it up at Plainfield Country Club in New Jersey, in the first of four events that will ultimately determine the 2015 FedExCup champion and winner of the $10 million first-place prize.

Golf Channel will carry live coverage of the opening two rounds, and weekend lead-in coverage at each of the four events, and Golf Channel on NBC will broadcast third and final round coverage of the final three events: the Deutsche Bank Championship, BMW Championship, and TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller will anchor NBC’s weekend coverage of the final three events, and will be joined by tower analysts Gary Koch and Peter Jacobsen; on-course reporters Roger Maltbie, and Notah Begay, and interviewer Steve Sands. Jimmy Roberts also will serve as an essayist at the BMW Championship and TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Terry Gannon (Deutsche Bank Championship and TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola) and Rich Lerner (BMW Championship) will handle play-by-play duties for Golf Channel’s early round and lead-in coverage, with Frank Nobilo serving as lead analyst. Thirty-time Emmy Award-winner Tommy Roy will produce Golf Channel and Golf Channel on NBC’s coverage.

From an initial field of 125, the top-100 players in the FedExCup standings following the conclusion of The Barclays will travel to TPC Boston in Norton, Mass., for the Deutsche Bank Championship. The top-70 players then will advance to Conway Farms Golf Club outside of Chicago for the BMW Championship, where the top-30 at week’s end will compete in the season-culminating TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

Golf Channel will originate its daily news show, Golf Central, from the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club outside of Chicago, providing wraparound news coverage with interviews, analysis and special features. Reporting on-site from the BMW Championship will be Ryan Burr, Brandel Chamblee and David Duval. Additionally, Morning Drive, Golf Channel’s daily morning news and lifestyle show, will conduct live interviews and reports on-site from both the BMW Championship (Cara Robinson, Gary Williams) and the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola (Damon Hack, Charlie Rymer).

Developing storylines and live tournament coverage surrounding the FedExCup Playoffs can be accessed at any time on any mobile device and online through an authenticated stream using Golf Live Extra. Fans also can stream Golf Channel on NBC coverage with NBC Sports Live Extra.

courtesy of

Tour Confidential: What Can We Make of Tiger Woods This Week?

tiger41. Tiger Woods shot three rounds in the 60s before a triple-bogey on Sunday derailed any hopes of winning the Wyndham Championship and extending his season into the FedEx Cup playoffs. What do you make of his week? What’s the main takeaway: him being in serious contention for the first time in two years or failing to break par on Sunday when it mattered most?

Eamon Lynch, managing editor, (@EamonLynch): This may be Tiger’s new reality: he has the undoubted ability to play sublime golf and shoot impressive scores, but playing around his weaknesses (either off the tee or around the green) is not likely to be a winning strategy. Most of the week when he was faced with short game shots Tiger opted for an airborne option — a flop shot or semi-flop — that allowed him to take a fuller swing. Guys with the chip yips can still execute those shots without flinching. When faced with a required chip shot on Sunday, the yips were exposed anew. Hank Haney made the astute point after the Masters that having the yips does not mean that one yips every time the opportunity presents itself, but the fear and possibility is there. That’s painfully evident in Tiger’s game. In many ways he is much improved since his awful start to the year, but the chipping issue remains and seems more psychological than technical.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated (@AlanShipnuck): If he had made 18 pars today it would feel more like progress, but the triple bogey that took Tiger out of the tourney was so wretched it has to leave more scar tissue. And it’s further proof that the chip-yips live inside of you like a sickness, just waiting to bloom at the worst possible time.

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: He’s making slow progress to a place he has never been before: one of the top-20 players or so in the world, able to win now and again.

Jeff Ritter, senior editor, SI Golf Group (@JeffRitter): Given what Tiger had shown this season, I was completely shocked to see him in contention through the weekend. That was real progress. He still has more work to do to handle Sunday pressure, but it was an encouraging week. It left me thinking that he’ll win a Tour event somewhere in 2016.

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Rapping Miss Texas Asks Jordan Spieth on a Date

miss txLately, it’s good to be Jordan Spieth.

The 22-year-old just secured the world number one ranking, had two major wins this season and twelve other top-10 finishes. His sister and some fans have endorsed his presidential nomination. He threw a mean first pitch at a Texas Rangers game that saw Zach Johnson donate five thousand dollars to Spieth’s foundation as a result of a friendly wager.

And now, Miss Texas wants to take him out on a date.

During a live television interview at the same Rangers game Spieth pitched at, Shannon Sanderford told sideline reporter Jim Knox that her talent for the upcoming Miss America pageant was singing. When he asked her for a sample, he encouraged her to do a little rapping saying: “You know, rap is kind of big right now. This could put you over the top. Can you put something out for us?”

Here’s the freestyle Sanderford performed:

“Yo Ranger fans, Miss Texas in the house. C’mon, y’all. Let me hear a shoutout. I threw the first pitch, got it over home plate. Hey, Jordan Spieth. You wanna call me for a date?”

Here’s the full video:

Maybe she didn’t know this, but Spieth’s girlfriend Annie Verret was in attendance that night. Oops!

courtesy of


Time of Day: Behind the Scenes of Jason’s Major Breakthrough

jason-day1Sean Foley lay on a leather couch in the Whistling Straits clubhouse last Saturday night, telling a story that illustrates just how much Jordan Spieth has gotten into the heads of his peers. Foley, a swing coach to the stars, was on the practice putting green during the wind delay at last month’s British Open when Spieth stroked a midrange putt. The ball stopped a couple of inches from the cup, but then a hard gust blew it in. Throwing up his arms in mock disgust, Sergio García shouted, “Even when you miss it, you make it!”

This is what poor Jason Day had to overcome last week at the 97th PGA Championship in Kohler, Wis. Day, 27, had been become golf’s star-crossed kid, an awesome talent with a disconcerting inability to get it done at major championships. That he had contended until the bitter end at Augusta National (twice), the Old Course, Merion and Chambers Bay was testament to his sublime combination of power and touch, but something was holding Day back; just last month at the British Open he had an 18-foot downhill putt on the 72nd hole to join the playoff but somehow left it short.  He walked off in a haze of what he called “disbelief” and “shock.”

But Day has a flinty resilience that comes from a tough upbringing in Australia. After his father died when he was 12, his mother sent him to a golf academy far from the streets where he was regularly getting drunk and causing trouble. So the week after the heartbreak at St. Andrews, Day picked himself up and rallied to win the Canadian Open, and at Whistling Straits he played some of the best golf of his life across the first three days. Late on Saturday it looked as if Day might have to hold off only lurkers like Matt Jones, Branden Grace and Anirban Lahiri to get his breakthrough. Then Spieth mounted the kind of charge that has already become a trademark.

After a birdie at the 1st, his round had stalled with nine consecutive pars, so on the par-5 11th, Spieth lashed a monster drive. Explaining his technique, he said, “I was pissed so I swung really hard”; after a birdie there, “the holes started looking bigger.” Just like that Spieth turned ravenous, pouring in five more birdies for a back-nine 30 that propelled him from irrelevancy to within two shots of the lead and into the final group, alongside Day. Spieth, who turned 22 in July, lacks Tiger Woods’s seething intensity and raw strength, but his relentless drive and hyper efficiency have made him nearly as feared already. To have to fend off Spieth seemed like just another bad beat for Day, but this test of his fortitude turned out to be exactly what he needed. “I’m going to give him a fight,” Day said following the third round, with some steel in his voice.

On Sunday, Day was so intimidated he birdied four of the first seven holes. That left Spieth four back, and though he fought hard, Day simply refused to let him apply any pressure. The signature moment of this overpowering victory came on the 11th hole. Spieth had birdied the 10th to trim the deficit to three, and it felt like the moment when Day would allow the fates to conspire against him, as they always have. Instead, he mashed a 382-yard drive into the skinniest part of the fairway. When he got to his ball in the right rough, Spieth was thunderstruck to discover he was 80 yards back. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” he yelled down the fairway at the 6-foot, 195-pound Day, who responded by flexing one of his brawny biceps. Day needed only a wedge for his second shot, securing a birdie that restored his lead to four strokes. He roared home with a 67, pushing his four-round total to 20 under, a scoring record for the major championships. Whistling Straits may have been softened a bit by rain, but disaster still lurked on every swing; Day was simply that good. “We play a lot of golf together, and that’s the best I’ve ever seen him play,” said Spieth, whose 17-under total had previously been bettered only by Woods and Bob May since the PGA Championship went to stroke play in 1958.

Day called the victory “one of the best moments of my life,” but the tears that poured out on the final hole were not joy, exactly.

Day’s father, Alvin, was a native of Australia, while his mother, Dening, hails from the Philippines. She describes herself as a “mail bride”—she had a long correspondence with Alvin but did not meet him until he flew to her homeland for their wedding. Jason was born in Beaudesert, on Australia’s Gold Coast. His parents worked at a nearby port, Dening as a clerk and her husband manning the scales.  “There was a big difference between the haves and the have-nots,” she says. “We were on the bottom of the have-nots.”

Jason started playing golf at age six. His father pushed him hard to excel, which created only part of the strain in their relationship; Jason says Alvin was an alcoholic. After he died of stomach cancer, the family fractured. Kim, one of Jason’s two older sisters, ran away from home and lived on the streets for more than a year before returning, while for Jason alcohol became an escape. “He was a lost soul,” Dening says.

Believing that golf was her son’s only road to salvation, Dening sold their house to pull together enough money to send Jason to board at Kooralbyn International School, a seven-hour drive from home. Colin Swatton was the golf coach there, and the two got off to a rocky start. On their first afternoon together Swatton instructed Day to work on his short game. “I told him to f— off,” says Day. “I was still a punk.” He stormed off and played a few holes before having a moment of clarity. “I was out there thinking, Man, my family is sacrificing so much for me to come here. So I went back and apologized.”

“I don’t think we’ve had a cross word since,” says Swatton, 46, who now serves as a caddie, coach and father figure for Day. “From that day forward Jason outworked every other kid at the academy.” Reading a biography about Woods helped Day focus his ambition; just as a young Tiger had done with Jack Nicklaus, Day taped above his bed a time line of his hero’s accomplishments.

After a successful amateur career Day turned pro in 2006, at 18, and moved to Orlando. With Swatton on the bag, he played well enough at Q school to earn status on the Nationwide tour for ’07. He won the 11th start of his rookie year, becoming the youngest champion in the history of that tour. Afterward, Day raised eyebrows, and a few hackles, by declaring his intent to unseat Woods at the top of the World Ranking.

Two days after the Nationwide victory he had his first date with Ellie Harvey, who was working as a waitress at a pub that Swatton frequented. They dined at Applebee’s, withSwatton, ever the loyal wingman, tagging along. After dinner Day sent him home so he could squire Ellie to the movies, and six months later she moved in with him. “Things moved really fast,” Ellie says, “but that’s kind of the story of his life. He had to grow up really fast, so at an early age he knew what he wanted.”

In 2009 they were married in a barn near her hometown of Lucas, Ohio (pop. 602). While most Tour pros are clustered in the Sun Belt, the Days live in Columbus to be near Ellie’s large, close-knit family. In ’12 their son was born—Dash, named for the rambunctious kid in The Incredibles. “Through Ellie and her family, Jason has found the stability he never knew growing up,” says Swatton.

It has not been as easy for Day to find his place between the ropes. Even as he began popping up on major-championship leader boards, he still had only one win, at the 2010 Byron Nelson Classic. His brash comments about being No. 1 were often brought up by the media as a kind of taunt about his underachievement. It took a tragedy to push Day to a different level. In November ’13, Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines. Day was in Australia, relaxing with his mom and two sisters and gearing up for the World Cup, in which he was to play for his home country alongside his good mate Adam Scott. Days went by without any contact with Dening’s family until her brother was able to travel to check on the missing relatives. “They were gone,” says Dening. “Everything was gone.” Her mother and another brother perished in the storm, along with six cousins, among the death toll that exceeded 6,000.

Day was devastated for his mom, but Dening is as tough as Tida Woods—she insisted he compete in the World Cup to honor their lost family, saying, “Go win the tournament. We will cry afterward.” Her son played the most inspired golf of his life, joining with Scott to win the team title and holding off his countryman for individual honors. “It was incredibly emotional,” Day says. “I found something deep inside myself.”

Even after he won the 2014 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and this year’s Farmers Insurance Open, Day has continued to absorb hard lessons. At this year’s U.S. Open he was felled by a bout of vertigo caused by an ear infection, but he bravely played on. Day shared the lead after 54 holes and tied for ninth. “I learned a lot about how far I could really push myself mentally and physically,” he says. “It’s just a matter of how much do you want it. And I really want it. I mean, I’m willing to put my body on the line just to get a taste of that greatness.” He even took some positives from the British Open, saying it was the most calm he had ever felt coming down the stretch of a big tournament. “Unfortunately,” Day said on the eve of the PGA, “some people make it look easier than others. Some people get there quicker than others. We’re humans. We’re not machines out there. It’s very easy to make poor choices and have bad swings every now and then. But we were so blessed with Tiger and Rory [McIlroy] and Jordan, just recently, that winning looks so easy.”

Spieth’s finish at the PGA elevated him to No. 1 in the World Ranking, but even before the tournament began he was already acting like the sport’s alpha male. Phil Mickelson has made it a tradition to organize money games on Tuesdays at the majors, and last week he enlisted Rickie Fowler to take on Spieth and his close friend Justin Thomas, a Tour rookie. Spieth woofed publicly that he was going to trot out his U.S. Open trophy, the one thing Mickelson can’t buy with his many millions.

“When I heard that, I absolutely loved it because it’s the kind of crap I would pull,” Mickelson says. Of course, Spieth left the trophy at home, but it was the subject of much trash talk. Spieth’s team was 1 up heading to the 18th hole, where he hit a toe-hook off the tee into a horrendous lie on the edge of a fairway bunker. With one foot in the sand, Spieth summoned a miracle shot to within eight feet of the cup. Fowler poured in a 40-footer for birdie, but Spieth gutted his putt to win the match and ensure a few crisp Benjamins would change hands. “I don’t want to say that birdie was complete bulls—, but it really was,” says Mickelson.

Spieth produced a similar highlight on Sunday—a bunker shot on 16 that prompted Day to say, “It baffles me the stuff that he can prove out there”—but in the end Spieth simply didn’t have the firepower to keep up. Day is now third in the World Ranking and along with Spieth and the 26-year-old McIlroy makes up a telegenic, cross-cultural and immensely appealing neo–Big Three. Reaching No. 1 remains the goal, and Day is willing to pay the price: He has eliminated sugar and alcohol from his diet, and he hits the gym with a vengeance six days a week.

Ellie is due in November with the couple’s second child, and after the baby arrives, the Days will continue to travel the Tour as happy vagabonds in a tricked-out motor coach. Dash is a little ham, and he stole the show during the awards ceremony, but at one point while in his father’s arms he pleaded, “Can we go home now?” He was too young to realize that after a long, hard journey, his dad is finally where he is supposed to be.

courtesy of Alan Shipnuck (


Jordan Spieth has one major flaw in his game and it doesn’t matter

jordan6Jordan Spieth is having one of the best seasons in the history of the PGA Tour with top-4 finishes at every major, including two wins, and more than $10 million in earnings. But that hasn’t stopped some from expressing concern over his one perceived flaw, his driving distance.

Despite all his success, Spieth is amazingly mediocre off the tee in the era of big drives, ranking 77th on the Tour this year with just a 292.3 yard average. Joel Beall of Golf Digest pointed out that the disparity on drives between Spieth (who finished 2nd) and Jason Day (the eventual winner) in the final round of the PGA Championship was “jarring” noting that on some holes, the gap between their drives was 60 yards.

But does it matter? Not according to this chart. While the relationship is not overwhelming, there is a general trend that the longer you hit the ball on the Tour, the lower your score. But as you can see, there is one obvious outlier, Spieth.

jordan-drivesIn other words, the rest of Spieth’s game is so good, it doesn’t really matter how far he hits the ball off the tee.

Things are even more jarring when we pare down the results to just the golfers who average at least 290 yards off the tee. Now the relationship is even stronger (R2 jumps from 0.11 to 0.18) and Spieth is still sitting way out there by himself while most of the other golfers cluster around the trendline.

jordan-scoringAt the PGA Championship, Spieth noted that he works on his distance and has “gotten a little bit longer each year.” He also admitted he is a bit envious of the bombers, noting that players like Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson “are playing a different golf course, I certainly envy that.”

Based on the charts above, it would seem the other golfers should be envious of Spieth.

courtesy of Cork Gaines (

Students Petition to Relocate Senior Prom from Trump Golf Club

donal-trump-golfThe hits keep coming for Donald Trump and his golf courses.

Rising seniors at Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, N.Y., started an online petition to relocate their 2016 Senior Prom from Trump National Golf Club – Westchester in Briarcliff Manor, where it is planned to be held next spring. The students are protesting the Republican presidential candidate’s “bigoted remarks to various ethnic groups” and “history of blatant and unapologetic misogyny,” among other things.

The student organizers left the following press statement on their page:

“As stated in our petition, we believe that public money should not go to an organization which promotes racism, sexism, and other forms of disrespect towards various groups. We have no political affiliation as a group with any political party or organization. We are working with the school administration to come to a solution that benefits the students, parents, and administration. We look forward to continuing to work with the school administration to come to a beneficial conclusion.”

According to a report from the Daily Voice, school Principal Robert Rhodes responded to the students in an email, writing, “After hearing many voices and arguments for and against changing the venue, your Student Leadership Council representatives have been caucusing electronically and believe it is in the best interest of the class to  keep the venue as originally planned,” he wrote. “Their decision was not made lightly; they know that other planning for senior events would suffer should the group need to spend several more months working on relocating the prom.”

This is just the latest in the fallout from controversial comments Trump has made during his presidential bid. Previously, four of golf’s major governing bodies—the PGA of America, PGA Tour, USGA, and LPGA—released a statement condeming Trump’s comments about illegal immigrants. The PGA also chose to relocate this year’s Grand Slam of Golf, which was to be held at Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles.

You can read the Horace Greeley students’ full petition here.

courtesy of Kevin Cunningham  (

Jordan Spieth just became No. 1 in the world. And yet he leaves Whistling Straits in second place

Jordan Spieth celebrates after sinking his final putt to win a three-hole playoff in the fourth round of the 2015 Valspar Championship

Jordan Spieth celebrates after sinking his final putt to win a three-hole playoff in the fourth round of the 2015 Valspar Championship

With his performance at the PGA Championship, Jordan Spieth became the official No. 1 ranked player in the world.

Yet, Spieth’s Sunday will be remembered for falling short.

It seems miscalculated, perhaps even cruel; to catalog Spieth’s play this week as a disappointment. Despite the misfortune of teeing off in harsh conditions on Thursday afternoon, Spieth kept himself in the tournament, a sentiment most of his fellow late-wave competitors could not say. (Oh, the mind wonders what Spieth could have done if he started in the morning.)

Even while Jason Day made a mockery of Whistling Straits, Spieth was very much in the Wanamaker running, his hopes ultimately dashed by Day’s tremendous lag-putt at the 71st hole.

Speith finished with a final-round 68, good for second place. This standing bestowed Spieth his summer-long pursuit of the No. 1 ranking, displacing Rory McIlroy from the spot.

So why does it feel like Spieth is leaving in disappointment?

Because, he is.

“Major championships are what we’re remembered for in this sport,” said Spieth after his round. “It’s what I imagine all of our dreams were as kids, to play professional golf and to compete and try an win major championships.”

Golf is the rarest of sports where the lines of success and failure are tenuous, ambiguous and ever-changing. Brooks Koepka’s T-5 finish will be noted as success. Same for Branden Grace’s third-place showing. Spieth beat both, yet, somehow, leaves Wisconsin with a less-positive connotation.

For the year, Spieth captured two major titles. He tied for fourth in the British Open to go along with the PGA Championship’s silver medal. He was four shots shy of a Grand Slam.

That’s quite the season. Hell, that’s quite the career.

But, as Spieth is finding out, when you’re the face of your sport, anything less than a championship is defeat. LeBron James can attest as much.

“You could look at that from a negative view of what could I have done, or you could look at it where maybe one putt and I would only have one major this year,” Spieth said. He’s right. Just as James is a Ray Allen shot away from owning just one ring.

But history doesn’t count the barely-mades.  It’s the near-misses that are remembered.

And make no mistake, he was close.

Look no further than the 11th hole on Sunday. Day’s tee shot appeared to be headed for deep rough, which would likely negate a chance to reach the par-5 in two. Instead, Day’s ball found the fairway, leading to a birdie.

Spieth, on the other hand, saw his second-shot approach fall just short of rolling into the green, catching a railroad tie and ricocheting into heather. On a hole that was statistically the second-easiest of the day, Spieth took par.

“It’s not easy,” Spieth commented in the media tent. “It takes a lot out of you. I’m tired right now. I mean, I left it all out there. I’m tired from the majors this year because of what it does.”

The FedEx Cup remains on the PGA Tour schedule, as does the fall’s Presidents Cup. Spieth will be a main player in both.

“This year isn’t over; I’ve got a lot of big tournaments coming up. But the four biggest are finished now until April.”

When you’re a golfer of Spieth’s caliber, those are the only four that matter. And the assessment is simple: Did you win?

For Spieth on Sunday, that answer was no.

courtesy of Joel Beall (

Club Pro Diary: Brian Gaffney Upbeat Entering Final Round

brian gaffneyBrian Gaffney is the head professional at Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, New York. He is the first club pro to make the cut at a PGA Championship since 2011 and was the only one to do so in this year’s event after shooting 71-73. Gaffney followed with a 78 Saturday. This is a look at his week so far in his own words.


I was exhausted Friday night, but I didn’t sleep particularly well. Luckily there’s enough adrenaline and electricity here to combat a few restless nights. I teed off at 10:54 a.m. Saturday morning, and I saw Kevin Streelman before my round on the range. He gave me a nod and said, “Nice going.” Now that felt really good.

I played with Chesson Hadley, who is such a nice guy. He conducts himself like a much older player, maturity-wise. On the first hole, we were about the same distance after our tee shots. I said, “Are you away here?” He let me decide, so I hit first. He said, “Show me something good.” Wow. That was just a nice thing to say and set the tone for the rest of the day.

What am I playing for tomorrow? Club pros play in a series called the PGA Cup, which is essentially our Ryder Cup. To get in, you need to qualify as one of the top 10 club pros in the country, and prior to this week I was 17th. Because I made the cut here, I’ll move up in the standings, but I have to finish 54th or better to make the team. The plan, the only plan, was to play the best I can and finish there.

Today I hit really good shots early in the round, but on the sixth hole we were put on the clock. I hit a blind wedge into the green that I thought was perfectly struck. Then Chesson hit and he went way left and the crowd went crazy. Turns out, I had picked the wrong tower as my aiming point. Oof. I hustled up the tee box on the next hole and got a little winded. I took one deep breath and wanted to take another, but I went ahead and hit. I basically lost the ball way right and made bogey. All week long I’ve had that bounce-back birdie. Today, I didn’t have it. I also couldn’t catch any breaks. The train was going so fast, and I couldn’t slow it down. I was away every time. Chesson was just waiting for me. I didn’t mind that he was waiting, but I simply could not slow down the movements. It led to one bad shot after another, and each one had its own crazy consequence. I finished with a 78.

I had 176 emails and 147 text messages when I got to my phone. And I don’t get many messages. It’s an awesome feeling. The only problem is that I wanted to respond to every person that contacted me. But it’s just too many! I called the president of our club and asked him to send a message to the members letting them know I appreciate all of the support and I will try to get back to everyone the best I can, but I just can’t do it all right now.

What a great problem to have.

Day in the lead at PGA as Spieth makes a charge

jason dayThree times this year, Jason Day has gone into the final round of a major with his name atop the leaderboard.

Twice this year, Jordan Spieth has posed with the trophy.

The two hottest golfers face off in the final group of the final major of the year at the PGA Championship, both wanting nothing more than to have their named etched on the Wanamaker Trophy. Both go into the final round relying on a different set of memories.

Day made six consecutive 3s in the middle of his round, lost momentum with a double bogey from a bunker and then steadied himself with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole that sent him to a 6-under 66 and a two-shot lead over Spieth.

“I’m not looking it as a negative,” Day said about his close calls. “You can’t, because you’ve got two shots and I’ve played phenomenal golf leading up to this. But now I’ve got to focus on round four. Everything I need to do is just make sure that I focus and prepare myself for tomorrow.”

Spieth was losing patience with nine straight pars until he blistered the back nine, closed with three straight birdies and shot 65.

He was five shots behind and had two holes to play, hopeful to stay within three or four shots. He wound up only two shots behind and poised to join Tiger Woods (2000) and Ben Hogan (1953) as the only players to win three majors in one season.

Just like his bid for the Grand Slam that ended at St. Andrews, Spieth is more concerned with one trophy than a collection.

“Just to try to get my name on the Wanamaker Trophy, that’s about it. That’s the only history I’ll be thinking of when we step on the first tee is you can hoist that trophy tomorrow and make it happen,” Spieth said. “I’ll go into tomorrow strictly for the history piece of trying to get my name on a different major.”

Day was at 15-under 201.

The abundant sunshine and endless action Saturday might have been a preview for what could be a sensational end to the majors. And while the focus is on Day and Spieth, this was hardly a two-man race.

Branden Grace holed out from the front bunker on the tough 18th hole for birdie and a 64, the low score of the third round that put him three shots out of the lead. The South African was tied for the lead with three holes to play in the U.S. Open until hitting his drive out-of-bounds onto the railroad track at Chambers Bay.

Justin Rose, despite a double bogey on the fourth hole for the second straight day, had a 68 and was three shots behind. And not to be overlooked was Martin Kaymer, the winner at Whistling Straits five years ago. He had a 65 and was four shots behind.

But in this undeniable generation shift in golf, Day and Spieth in the final pairing is compelling.

“You can never count out Jordan right now with hos he’s playing, especially this year,” Day said. “He’s just full of confidence right now. So with my confidence level and his stellar play right now, I feel like it’s going to be an exciting finish tomorrow.”

Spieth, even with a Masters and U.S. Open title in hand, still has a chip on his shoulder the way he lost his bid at St. Andrews. He was tied for the lead with two holes to play and finished one shot out of a playoff at the British Open.

“When I think of this being the last major of the year, it’s a little bit of a sad feeling because I really, thoroughly enjoy playing in majors,” Spieth said. “You want to make the most of it, even though … we’ve won two this year.

“So you look at it as a single major, as a chance to win this major, and there’s enough fight in us to finish this one off tomorrow, I believe.”

The turnaround late Saturday afternoon was stunning.

Looking determined as ever, in control of his swing and putting beautifully, Day was 6 under over a six-hole stretch in the middle of his round. That included an eagle on the 11th hole, where he hit his drive with such force that he hit pitching wedge to 15 feet.

One swing changed everything.

He tugged a 5-iron into a bunker left of the 15th green and was surprised by the amount of sand. The first shot didn’t make it up the slope and rolled back into the sand, and Day wound up with a double bogey right about the time Spieth shifted into another gear.

Spieth made a two-putt birdie on the par-5 16th and then hit 4-iron to 12 feet for a birdie on the 17th. His goal after a slow start was to stay close enough to have a chance on Sunday.

The volunteers were slow to post Day’s double bogey on the large leaderboard on the 18th green, which Spieth couldn’t help but notice as he lined up his 7-foot putt.

“I saw Jason was at 16 under and I said, `You’ve got to be kidding me. When is he going to slow down?'” Spieth said. “I saw that he was 16 under with four holes to go, thinking he could get to 17 (under pretty easily). I need to make this to have a chance within four of the lead. And then I think he’s dropped a couple of shots since then. But I did all I could do to finish off the round.”

It put him in position to sweep the three American majors. But he still was two shots behind Day, determined not to let his great year end without winning his first.

“If he goes out and wins tomorrow from him putting well, then he deserves it,” Day said. “But I’m going to give him a fight.”

courtesy of AP

PGA Championship: Chasing 62, the History Behind the Coveted Number

SHEBOYGAN, WI - AUGUST 14:  Hiroshi Iwata of Japan speaks with the media after shooting a nine-under par 63 during the second round of the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits on August 14, 2015 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

SHEBOYGAN, WI – AUGUST 14: Hiroshi Iwata of Japan speaks with the media after shooting a nine-under par 63 during the second round of the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits on August 14, 2015 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Major championship history was made Friday at Whistling Straits… and Jordan Spieth hasn’t even won the 97th PGA Championship yet.

Hiroshi Iwata of Japan piled up eight birdies, an eagle and one bogey to become the 25th player to shoot 63, still the lowest score ever recorded in a major championship.

Johnny Miller did it first, winning the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont with his 63. Forty-two years later, it remains a record that has been matched but never broken. And of the 26 63s posted since then (Greg Norman and Vijay Singh have done it twice), only Miller did it in the final round and went on to win.

Only five other players who shot 63s went on to win that event—Jack Nicklaus at the 1980 U.S. Open at Baltusrol; Raymond Floyd, 1982 PGA, Southern Hills; Greg Norman, 1986 British Open, Turnberry; Tiger Woods, 2007 PGA, Southern Hills; and Jason Dufner, 2013 PGA, Oak Hill.

After Miller’s record breakthrough round at Oakmont, by 1986 a 63 had been posted in each of the other majors. Bruce Crampton was first to do it in the PGA Championship, in 1975; Mark Hayes was first in 1977 at Turnberry, and he bogeyed the 18th for his 63; and Nick Price did it at the Masters in 1986, breaking Lloyd Mangrum’s course record of 64 that had lasted 46 years,

Iwata, 34, is ranked second on the Japan Golf Tour’s money list. He has already had one victory this year, his second on the Tour, and he posted a 62 in the Thailand Open earlier this year.

Asked to compare Friday’s 63 to that Thailand 62, he joked, “Just one shot difference. Nothing else.”

Iwata eagled the par-5 11th hole, then birdied five of the next six holes and shot 29 on the back nine. “After No. 13, I was thinking I’m going to shoot 27,” Iwata said.

The club of 63-shooters in majors is incredibly exclusive but does include some surprising names such as Jodie Mudd, Thomas Bjorn, Brad Faxon, Michael Bradley and Paul Broadhurst. We’ll add Iwata to that list. The club also includes many of golf’s greatest, including Woods, Nicklaus, Norman, Singh, Gary Player and Rory McIlroy.

When Price shot his 63 at the Masters, he predicted his marker wouldn’t last long because so many big hitters were coming into the game. Nearly three decades later, he laughed about his off-the-mark comments.

“Well, Augusta National adjusted their course for the modern equipment and most of the other majors have done the same,” he said. “There does seem to be some kind of mental barrier at 63. It’s amazing that all four majors have 63 as the low score. That defies logic.”

Miller said his round was a relatively easy 63 and could have been lower as he missed some makeable putts. “It’s just hard to get to 62 under the pressure of a major,” Miller said. “Guys get close, then they sort of drop anchor.”

But it was 63. And it still stands. Bradley, who posted his 8-under 63 in the opening 1995 PGA round at Riviera, said, “It’s not like trying to shoot 59 in a regular Tour event. They’re majors and you’re gunning for history. Mentally, that makes a big difference.”

Miller believes the mental barrier is the hardest part.

“Every guy on Tour knows about 63s,” Miller said. “There is a historical barrier there. The more you think about it, the harder it is to do. I think the Holy Grail is really the U.S. Open because that’s always the hardest test.”

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Spieth playing with a chip on his shoulder

Jordan Spieth celebrates after sinking his final putt to win a three-hole playoff in the fourth round of the 2015 Valspar Championship

Jordan Spieth celebrates after sinking his final putt to win a three-hole playoff in the fourth round of the 2015 Valspar Championship

Jordan Spieth has a green jacket in his closet, a silver U.S. Open trophy on his mantle and a chip on his shoulder.

The world No. 2 is far from content despite having a year most would consider a good career — winning the first two majors at the Masters and U.S. Open and adding two other PGA Tour titles to his resumé and $9.3 million to his bank account. Instead, the British Open has left a bad taste in his mouth that will linger when he tees it up Thursday at Whistling Straits in the first round of the PGA Championship.

On the Old Course in St. Andrews, Spieth’s unprecedented bid to win the modern day Grand Slam came up one shot short of a playoff. He was tied for the lead with two holes to play in the oldest championship in golf but couldn’t close the door on history or clutch the Claret Jug.

Instead of joining Ben Hogan as the only player to win the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open in the same year, the Texan left Scotland with his chili running hot. And it’s still simmering.

“Unlike the first two majors I had a chance to win and I didn’t pull it off. And that was the hardest part to get over for me,” Spieth, 22, said Wednesday at Whistling Straits after wrapping up his final preparations for the PGA.

“My frustration was we were tied for the lead with two holes to go, with one of them being a birdie hole and we didn’t close it out. We didn’t even get into a playoff. That was the hardest part for me and I certainly have a chip on my shoulder off of that that I’m wanting to get off.”

There’s unfinished business to settle. And there is plenty of history Spieth can make this week on the course along Lake Michigan. With a victory — and he’s clearly the favorite — he’d join Hogan and Tiger Woods as the only players to win three majors in a season in the modern era. He would also become the only player to win the American Slam — capturing all three majors played in the United States.

Further, and of no less importance, he has a chance to overtake Rory McIlroy as the world No. 1.

There are other motivating factors. While he’s only played in two, Spieth has not made the cut in the PGA Championship, and that irks him. And while he’s only been a member of the PGA Tour for three years, he hasn’t met his goal of making the cut in all four majors in the same season.

“I still haven’t accomplished that goal set at the beginning of the year that I said I wanted to make the cut in all the majors,” Spieth said. “And you wanted to contend and have a chance to win at least one of them. Certainly they have gone according to plan up to this point, but that first part of that goal has yet to be accomplished. So I got some work to do these first two days, and from there we’ll adjust and work our butts off to try and get a third major this year, which would be a pretty cool place in history to be a part of.”

Spieth certainly worked his butt off Wednesday playing nine holes. As he approached every green, he spent plenty of time finding — and then hitting from — the worst places around the putting surfaces. He even jumped down to the beach of an inland lake bordering the fifth green and hit shots off the sand toward the hole.

In anticipation of the wind picking up in the first round, Spieth wanted to ready himself for anything.

“There are a lot of tricky spots in the rough, because you have changing rough around the greens, from some of it being blue grass to some of it being a fescue-type grass. It plays extremely different, depending upon where it lies, so I wanted to get a variety of shots,” Spieth said.

“You have to be prepared for the worst. … So that’s what we tried to see today, rolling balls off of greens and around greens.”

As far as rolling balls on the greens, the game’s best putter said the surfaces are pure — which doesn’t bode well for the other 155 players in the field. He also likes the layout and knows all about the hundreds of bunkers, each a difficult challenge.

And he’s coming off a final-round 66 in the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational that vaulted him into a tie for 10th and gave him momentum heading to the Badger State.

He will be a force to handle just as he has been all year. And his year isn’t over. He will play with Zach Johnson, who won the British Open, and McIlroy in the first two rounds. McIlroy is returning to play after missing two months due to an injured ankle. But he didn’t stop watching Spieth.

“Whenever you see someone put together a season like this, of course you become motivated,” McIlroy said. “But as well you’re inspired. I think the performances that he put in at the Masters and the U.S. Open and even at St. Andrews when he was so close, they were inspirational performances. That’s something really, for him, to be proud of, especially how he handled everything at St. Andrews going into all the Grand Slam talk. I think even though I’m not that much older, I probably wouldn’t have handled it quite as well as he did.”

Spieth is set to go once more. He is confident and in form, running a bit hot and chasing the Wanamaker Trophy and the No. 1 ranking in the world.

“I did not have a time frame set (to become No. 1),” Spieth said. “When that was a goal that was just a career goal, that at one point in my career I would like to be No. 1.

”Given everything that’s happened, I believe now that I would like it obviously to be sooner rather than later, and then to be able to hold on to it. That’s a whole other animal as I’m sure Rory knows, Adam Scott knows, Luke Donald knows, there’s Tiger … there’s a number of them that understand what it’s like. I don’t know what that feels like yet. That will be a new goal.”

courtesy of  Steve DiMeglio, USA TODAY Sports

Phil Mickelson, Spieth Play Money Game to Spice Up PGA Practice

Jordan Spieth let out a very large ”Whooooooo” after watching the 20-foot putt hit the bottom of the cup.

Sunday on the 18th green at the PGA Championship? Not quite.

But still very satisfying. And it wasn’t even Spieth’s putt.

Rather, it was rookie Justin Thomas making the long twister on No. 16 at Whistling Straits to give himself and Spieth a 2-up lead over Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler in their Tuesday best-ball match. Mickelson has been setting up these practice-round games – just for fun and a bit of cash – for years.

”It feels good for everyone,” Spieth said. ”That’s why Phil gets them together.”

Two-down with two holes to go, Mickelson and Fowler pressed Spieth and Thomas on the 17th tee box, setting up a new bet that covered only the last two holes. Mickelson responded by hitting his tee shot pin high, to 8 feet, on the 223-yard par 3, then making the putt for birdie to win the hole.

That set up some drama on 18, when Fowler drained a 20-foot birdie putt, forcing Spieth to knock one in from about 5 feet to halve the whole, keep the lead in the overall game and end up even in the betting.

Which, of course, is what really counts on days like this.

”You don’t want to lose and have to hand those guys whatever you play for,” said Spieth, who goes for his third major of the season when the `real’ golf starts Thursday. ”There’s a little bit of nerves strictly because of bragging rights. And also because it means something.”

Nobody reveals the stakes. Suffice to say it’s not a $2 Nassau. The combined career earnings of the four players is more than $135 million.

Thomas, a 22-year-old tour rookie making his second appearance in a major, has won only $2 million of that. His entry into this game is another longstanding tradition of Mickelson’s. In addition to getting sharp for the grinding week ahead, Mickelson sets up these games to give the young players the taste of pressure – and, specifically, pressure in a team game, the likes of which they play every year on the U.S. side in the Presidents or Ryder Cups.

”If I go out and play on a Tuesday, I don’t get much out of it,” Thomas said. ”You lose focus. You kind of hit shots that don’t mean anything. Every shot means something on a day like today. The nerves can get going.”

Anticipating the showdown with Mickelson, Spieth suggested last week that he might bring the U.S. Open trophy he won at Chambers Bay and place it on every green. It’s the only major trophy Lefty has yet to win. ”It’s the first time I have something on him,” Spieth said.

But it never came to that.

Less is more, Spieth said, when going against Mickelson, a Grade A trash talker who once made copies of the $100 bills he won off Tiger Woods, drew smiley faces on them and placed them in Woods’ locker, along with a note telling Tiger the Benjamins were very happy in their new home.

”He doesn’t like it if you’re quiet,” Spieth said about Mickelson. ”If you give it back to him, that’s when he knows it’s bothering you.”

And so, after Thomas made the 20 footer on 16 to go 2 up with two to go, he passed Fowler and gave him a nice slap on the butt. That, along with Spieth’s shout, were the winning team’s most outward displays of emotion.

With money still on the line on the 18th green, Fowler made his long putt, then high-fived and shared a Ryder Cup-esque hug with Mickelson. Then, they stood almost directly behind Spieth as he lined up a fairly simple 5-footer to ensure he and Thomas would break even.

Spieth made it. Never a doubt.

”Me making (my) putt was to save some money,” Fowler said. ”And it was nice to walk away with that.”

After his final make, Spieth simply offered a meek bow toward Mickelson, who brought him into these games a few years back.

The four posed on the green for some pictures. A friendly close to a bloodless, but still-entertaining day.

”It was a great match,” Spieth said. ”We had a good time with it. And we kept Phil quiet most of the day.”

courtesy of AP News (

Shane Lowry Throws His Name In The Ring For Best Irish Golfer

shane-loweryForget what the world rankings say, maybe we just discovered the new Best Irish Golfer on the Planet.

His name is Shane Lowry, he’s 28, he chips and putts like a young Craig Stadler (that’s a compliment) and has a similar waistline (not as much), he made clutch shot after clutch shot on the closing holes and won the Bridgestone Invitational here Sunday.

And, oh yeah, he beat that other kid, Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, the No. 1 player in the world, in the World Match Play two years ago. It was such an upset at the time that Lowry’s mother cried on the phone when he called her.

Since McIlroy has been out with an ankle injury—he’ll try to play next week’s PGA Championship at Whistling Straits—Lowry should rank as the best Irish-flavored player in the world, at least for the moment.

Lowry’s third win, his second as a pro to go with his Irish Open victory as an amateur, was the title that McIlroy wasn’t able to defend at Firestone Country Club’s South Course. That ought to make it extra-Irish special, right?

“I really don’t care who won last year,” Lowry said with a laugh. “I won it this year and that’s all that matters to me right now.”

Lowry was the only man to finish in double digits under par—he was 11-under and only five players finished better than five under par for four rounds at the mighty South Course. And he won the Bridgestone impressively, a closing 66 with no bogeys and outlasted the three major champions who were chasing him—Bubba Watson, Justin Rose and Jim Furyk.

This win was unexpected, obviously, maybe even as his approach shot was in the air on the 72nd hole. Lowry pulled his drive into the left rough but caught a good lie and had a window under a tree in front of him but then had to get his 141-yard approach over the trees guarding the left side of the green. Lowry jumped on a sand wedge, the ball appeared to rustle off a few leaves, then it landed pin high and stopped 11 feet from the cup. A bogey would have dropped him into a tie with Watson, who was in the clubhouse at 9-under.

Instead, Lowry rolled in a curvy right-to-left putt for the best 72nd-hole birdie in this tournament since Tiger Woods made that infamous birdie in the dark.

Runner-up Watson wasn’t sure whether to be impressed or chagrined. Asked what he remembered about next week’s PGA in 2010, Watson said, “I lost. At least I got into a playoff. Here, I didn’t even get into a playoff. Through the tree and make birdie!” He shook his head and grinned.

That was only half of it, Bubba. Lowry came up big throughout the final nine. At 17, nursing a one-stroke edge, his ball came to rest up against the deep edge of the rough just off the green, a finicky shot at best. He chipped to six feet, then holed the putt like he’s been doing it all his life, although the fist pump that followed told you how much it meant. “Yeah, that was massive,” he admitted later. Lowry hit a 6-iron pin-high at the par-3 15th for a smooth par, and at 14, he drove it in a fairway bunker, laid up and then drained a clutch 18-footer to save par.

He got up and down for par at the 13th, stiffed it from the greenside bunker to save par at the 11th and pulled off the runner-up shot of the week (next to his approach at 18) at the 10th. He yanked his drive into the left rough, then swung just about out of his shoes with a sand wedge and flew it over the trees guarding the green. He pulled the shot left a bit but when it landed just off the fringe, it kicked hard right, caught a slope and trickled to within two feet for a kick-in birdie.

Is this guy just lucky or is he good? Well, once is lucky. Twice is good.

“I couldn’t believe I was seeing the ball coming down from there on the green,” Lowry said of his miracle recovery at the 18th. “The ball was in a bit of a hole and I was trying to get it to the front right of the green, but I pulled it a little bit. Obviously, it went through the tree and the rest is history.”

He asked his caddie if he could two-putt and win and his caddie answered in the affirmative. Then Lowry dropped the putt for birdie and a two-shot edge, closing out Rose and Furyk, who were three shots back before they each bogeyed the 18th to tie for third. Rose and Furyk, who shared the 54-hole lead, shot 72s. Watson shot 66.

“I played as good a golf as I’ve ever played the last four days,” said Lowry, who got into the field by being ranked 48th in the world. “I managed to hole a few putts and get a bit of luck. To shoot 11 under on this course, this is one of the toughest courses we play. I thought eight under would probably win earlier this week. It doesn’t get any better than this.”

This is the second time Lowry won’t get full credit for a victory. He won the 2009 Irish Open as an amateur, a fantastic effort, but he saw runner-up Robert Rock collect the 500,000-pound first prize. Lowry’s mother, Bridget, picked up more than 15,000 pounds in winnings because she wagered on her son to win at 250-1 odds. “She had a nice check, more than me, anyway,” he said then.

Lowry snags $1.57 million for winning the Bridgestone, but because he was not a fully exempt PGA Tour player, he won’t collect FedEx Cup points for this victory. Lowry said he hopes to play both the PGA Tour and the European Tour now that he’s a member on the tours.

“The future looks OK as of now,” he said with a wide smile.

He’s planning to get married next year to his fiancé, Wendy. Asked if this is payday going to allow for a more extravagant wedding, he joked, “Wendy probably thinks that.” But no, he said, it won’t be a fancy wedding, just a nice Irish get-together with family and friends. Lowry said he is not interested in moving to America to live, as many European players have done. He’ll stay in his home country.

Lowry was two years older than McIlroy when they grew up and Rory, Lowry said, was playing in men’s events when he was still young and Lowry, as a late-bloomer, was still playing boy’s events. So their paths didn’t cross much early, although they were teammates on a few occasions in some amateur team events.

“Yeah, I’ve knocked around with Rory for the last few years,” Lowry said. “To see what he does in the game and how he plays—when you hang around with him and Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell, guys who have done well and won majors, it definitely helps you.”

McIlroy beat Lowry in the European match-play event last year at Wentworth so they’re kind of even in that sense. “I’d love to go down the stretch with him again someday,” Lowry said. ”You want to test yourself against the best players in the world. So if I find myself in a battle with Rory next week with nine holes to play, I’ll be very, very happy.”

So would most of Ireland. The party after Lowry’s victory here might almost be winding down by then.

courtesy of Gary Van Sickle (

McIlroy plays practice round at Whistling Straits without apparent discomfort

rory3Rory McIlroy, the defending champion in next week’s PGA Championship, played a practice round at Whistling Straits on Saturday, and did so without any apparent discomfort from the ankle injury he suffered two weeks before the British Open, according to one report.

Gary D’Amato, golf writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, was a witness, and wrote, “He did not seem to be favoring the left ankle he injured in early July while kicking around a soccer ball with friends. McIlroy hit driver on the longer holes, jogged up and down a couple small hills and seemed to have a bounce in his step.

McIlroy was unable to play in the British Open and hasn’t played competitively since tying for ninth in the U.S. Open in June.

courtesy of John Strege (


Louise Suggs, 91, dies; one of 13 LPGA founders

Louise Suggs and Stacey Lewis during the final round of the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup at Wildfire Golf Club on March 17, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Louise Suggs and Stacey Lewis during the final round of the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup at Wildfire Golf Club on March 17, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona.

 RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup

Louise Suggs, one of the 13 women who founded the LPGA in 1950, died Friday from complications of melanoma. She would have been 92 on Sept. 7. “Her mind was as sharp as a tack to the end,” her friend, former LPGA player Meg Mallon told me. “But the body just couldn’t go on.”

With 61 career LPGA victories – trailing only Kathy Whitworth, Mickey Wright and Annika Sorenstam – and 11 major championships – third behind Patty Berg and Wright – Suggs was recognized by her peers as one of the best ever to play the women’s game.

In the eyes of the public, however, Suggs was often lost in the more flamboyant shadow of Babe Zaharias, a rival Louise was never fond of, saying the Babe “wasn’t a golfer; she was  a showman.”

A member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, Suggs had a Hall of Fame career even before the LPGA was founded in 1950, winning the Western Open in 1946, ’47 and ’49; the Titleholders in 1946 and the U.S. Women’s Open in 1949. She also won the 1947 U.S. Women’s Amateur and the 1948 British Ladies Amateur.

Until this year, Louise would attend the Masters every year – she grew up in Georgia and was one of the last people to play a round of golf with Bobby Jones – and sit in a chair outside the back door of the clubhouse. Many of the players in the Masters field would stop by to pay their respects.

Louise, who will be cremated and have her ashes spread on the graves of her parents in Georgia, loved a good scotch and she loved the LPGA.  “This is my baby,” she would say to new players on tour. “Don’t screw it up.”

Of the 13 founders – Alice Bauer, Patty Berg, Bettye Danoff, Helen Dettweiler, Marlene Bauer Hagge, Helen Hicks, Opal Hill, Betty Jameson, Sally Sessions, Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork, Louise Suggs, and Babe Zaharias – only Smith, Spork and Hagge are still alive.

In Suggs, the game of golf has lost one of its greatest advocates – and one of its greatest players.  And the LPGA has lost one of its fiercest fighters for respect of the women’s game.

courtesy of Ron Sirak (