Friday, May 29, 2015

News Grab-Bag: 5/29/2015

- 16 players punched their tickets to the US Open via sectional qualifying overseas on Monday. In Japan, Wenchong Liang was the medalist, followed by Masahairo Kawamura, Seuk Hyun Baek, Kurt Barnes, and Hiroyuki Fujita. Liang and Fujita are the experienced ones of the group, having played in majors and won overseas in the past. Fujita won three times last season, and made the cut in the US Open in 2012. Liang was the first Chinese golfer to play in the PGA Championship, and was the first from his country to make the cut in a major championship. Kawamura is an up and coming Japanese player who has played decently well in Asia this season. The Aussie Kurt Barnes has played in two Open Championships, but will be making his US Open debut. Baek is a complete unknown who has never won and has a bunch of missed cuts in Asia and Japan this year.

- The other eleven qualifiers played in England, and the medalist was Alexander Levy, who was the biggest name and highest ranked player among the qualifiers. Other qualifiers include Marcel Siem, 74th ranked player in the world who narrowly missed out on qualifying two years ago. Also qualifying were former PGA Tour pros Garth Mulroy and Tjaart Van Der Walt, two South Africans who play on the European and Sunshine Tours. Van Der Walt is 40, lost his PGA Tour card in '07 and his Tour card in '10, and has only played in one major in his career. This will be a huge moment in his life, for sure.

- The European Solheim Cup team is being lead by an all star cast of Swedes, as captain Carin Koch and vice captain Annika Sorenstam named Maria McBride and Sophie Gustafson as vice-captains. The strategy worked two years ago, as the captain and vice-captains were all Swedes. The Solheim Cup will take place in Europe, where Team Europe is the two time defending champions, but all of their big name stars have struggled in 2015. There is a long time between then and now, however.

- Anthony Kim is golfing again!...just not on the PGA Tour. The former future number one player in the world was recently an auction item for the Toby Keith Charity Auction. Someone paid $24,500 to play a round of golf with Kim. There is no word yet on whether or not that person was a member of the Ryder Cup Task Force.

- Will Tiger Woods ever pass Jack Nicklaus in career major titles? Not only does Ernie Els not think so, but he thinks Tiger's number will be eclipsed sooner rather than later. Speaking in the pre-tournament press conference in Ireland, Els believes that Rory McIlroy will win at least one major every two years, which puts him right around the 14 mark for his career. Seeing as Rory has already proven to be able to win more than one in a season, I think Els' prediction isn't too crazy.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wednesday Preview - Shoprite LPGA Classic

After a week off, the LPGA returns as the ladies head to New Jersey for the Shoprite LPGA Classic. I remember the Shoprite papers that would sit in the lobby of my local BiLo. My grandmother would use them to wrap presents him them. This has nothing to do with golf.

Course: Stockton Seaview Country Club, a 6,100 yard track. This track can be tricky, seen by Karrie Webb's four under par victory in 2013, but for the most part, winning score has been in the low double digits. Stacy Lewis won with -16 last year, but she also won by six shots. Keep in mind, however, that this is over three days, so birdies are a necessity when conditions are ideal.

Strength Of Field: B-. Lydia Ko missing is a huge negative, but she's pretty much the only major player that will not be teeing it up this week.

Extra Tidbits: This is the 27th year of this event, but not consecutive - the tournament was not held from 2007 to 2009. Stockton Seaview has host the event 16 times...Only two players, Betsy King and Annika Sorenstam, have won this event three times. Stacy Lewis is looking to add her name to that list...This is one of the few remaining 54 hole events on the LPGA Tour, and to my knowledge, the last that boasts a full field.

Fantasy Four:

Hyo Joo Kim - She always seems to play three great rounds with one mediocre round, so having only to play three rounds might be an advantage for Kim. She has yet to miss a cut in her LPGA career. Ball strikers course, which is Kim's strength.

Stacy Lewis - Has not played well as of late, but she owns this course. If she can't perform well here, she's in major trouble.

Mika Miyazato - Last week, the favorites didn't show up, so it was up to the mid-level golfers to pick up the slack. The same may happen this week. Mika-chan is just coming off of qualifying for the US Women's Open, and will be looking to carry that momentum into this week. I predict a big week by both Miyazato's, but Mika-chan has the opportunity to win.

Inbee Park - Because it would just be foolish not to add her.

(SLEEPER) Kelly Tan - Coming off a T25 two weeks ago. It has been an up and down season for Tan, but she has shown flashes all season. I bet this week she shows more than just flashes, and we see her name towards the top of the leaderboard.

Wednesday Preview - Around The World

While there are two big tournaments taking place in the US, there is also plenty of action taking place around the world, with big time implications for majors and world rankings. Have clubs, will travel.

European Tour: Irish Open
- The Irish Open will likely be worth more World Rankings points than the AT&T Byron Nelson, as Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler headline a pretty stellar field. Padraig Harrington barely missed out on qualifying for the US Open this week, so a victory will put him in great position based on his world ranking. Byeong Hun An is coming off of his victory at the BMW PGA, the signature event on the European Tour. He has locked up invitations to the US and British Opens, so this week will be a test to see how he backs up his victory. Miguel Angel Jimemez has had a great season, with the only thing he is missing being a victory.

Japan Tour: Mizuno Open
- The Open Championship Series heads to Japan this week, as the top four finishers not already qualified will receive invitations to the Open Championship. We are five events into the season, and a player from Japan picked up their first victory just last week. In fact, it has been an odd season so far, with players such as Koumei Oda, Hiroshi Iwata, and Shingo Katayama, all coming off of a great 2014 season, having a rough start. Masahiro Kawamura is having a good season on both the Japan and Asian Tours, and he is coming off a successful qualification for the US Open. So, too, are veterans Hiroyuki Fujita and Wenchong Liang. Former PGA Champion YE Yang, who is having a pretty good 2015 thus far, will be playing in his first Japan Tour event of the season in hopes to making it back to the Open. Chinese golfer Ashun Wu has a victory on the European Tour, but has not had a good Japan Tour season thus far. 68 year old Masashi Ozaki shot his age in his most recent Japan Tour event.

KLPGA: E1 Charity Open
- Two big returns happening this week, as Shin Ae Ahn, who is considered the most fashionable golfer on Tour, and Ha Neul Kim are playing this week. Ahn is a Korean tabloid sensation thanks to her relatiosnhip (?) with K-Pop singer Yoo Chun Park. Ahn had four top 10's last season. Kim has had a pretty bad season on the JLPGA Tour, so her return to Korea is seen as a possible permanent move to some. Kim at one point was the best player on the KLPGA.

JLPGA: Resort Trust Ladies
- The story has been Erika Kikuchi, who has a win and six top 10 finishes this season. Her missed in her last event was her first of the season. Kikuchi could get herself in position to qualify for some majors with another victory. Teresa Lu is qualified for the US Women's Open, so any starts she makes between now and then will be a warm up for her.

Wednesday Preview - AT&T Byron Nelson

I've been out of commission for the past week, but I'm back to give a full preview of the two events this week, plus a preview of some of the other events with major implications around the world. This week, the PGA Tour players bust out the scuba gear and row boats as they head to soggy Irving.

Course: TPC Four Seasons, measuring at 7,100 yards. Wet conditions will cause the course to play longer, and the long rough will likely be longer because of all the rain. Still, player will probably be playing lift, clean and place, and the greens will be soft, so the final tally could be anyone from mid single digits all the way up to twenty under. Complete unknown at the moment.

Strength Of Field: D. It was much higher until today, as Ian Poulter and Jason Day lead a group of late withdraws thanks to the weather injuries. Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson lead the field, but this will be a battle of mid level professionals.

Extra Tidbits: The rain has caused flooding in the outlining areas, and many parts of the course were said to be under water as of Monday. Who knows condition the course will be in, but the bigger concern are the people living in the area...Christopher Brown, Austin Cook, Creighton Honeck, and Troy Matteson are the sponsor's exemptions. Cook made waves in Austin, holding a share of the lead entering the final round before falling to 11th. Matteson is a two time winner on Tour, his last in 2009, and has been playing out of past champion status. He made one cut in four starts this season, with a T22 in Puerto Rico...Jordan Spieth's first start on the PGA Tour took place at this tournament in 2010, when he was 16. He made the cut and finished inside the top 25...Four of the last five winners of this event made this their maiden victory on the PGA Tour.

Fantasy Four:

Brandon Todd - Jason Day occupied this space until his late withdraw, so I'm going with the defending champion. Four straight made cuts, with three top 10's this season. Has been mostly quiet, but should get a spark returning to the site of his first Tour victory.

Charley Hoffman - Seven straight paydays, with five top 25s in that stretch. His next PGA Tour victory seems close, and he has a good history in this event. 

Danny Lee - Sleeper pick. He plays pretty much every week, and fatigue should be a factor, but his putting his solid, he is coming off his second straight top 25 with a top 10 last week, and it is a short course that shouldn't be an issue for him. I bet a victory would get him to take some time off, and this is a good spot for him to pick up that first win.

Keegan Bradley - Gets here only because of past history - he has a win and a second, and has never missed the cut at Four Seasons. He has been very quiet the past two seasons, but always tends to find one or two tournaments where he is contending on Sunday. Keegan needs this week if he hopes to make the President's Cup team at the end of the year.

Last Weeks Team:
Jimmy Walker: T65
Zach Johnson: T19
Chad Campbell: CUT
John Senden: CUT

Monday, May 25, 2015

Kirk Enters A New Level Of Players

Happy Memorial Day! I apologize for the lateness of this post. I had Memorial Day obligations all weekend. May we remember the sacrifices of our men and women in the armed forces today and every day.

- Unfortunately for Chris Kirk, he has now entered a new class of professional golfers where victories are no longer celebrated and praised like they used to be. Kirk has now proven to be a very good, if not elite player, and the next thing for him to do is to contend at the highest level. Kirk has three chances this year to improve on his major record, which has seen him notch zero top 10's in his major career, as well as a chance to play for Team USA in a team competition. Right now he is forth in the Presidents Cup standings and looks to be a lock for Korea. The plus side of Kirk's major record is that last year was his first time playing all four majors in a year, so perhaps experience will guide him going forward.

- It is a shame that Jason Bohn's will likely be forgotten about when his golfing career ends, because he is a really good player that has come incredibly close to winning a bunch of tournaments. Somehow Bohn has only won twice on the PGA Tour. He now has two straight top 10's, so I hope win number three comes incredibly soon.

- News flash: Jordan Spieth is very good. A few missed opportunities kept Spieth from winning the Colonial, but his game still looks as sharp as ever. It will be interesting to see how Spieth plays at Byron Nelson's tournament, the same place he made his introduction to the world as a 16 year old.

- It's been an up and down rookie season, but it looks like Adam Hadwin has finally settled in. I had Hadwin as my favorite to win the Rookie Of The Year Award, and he has some work ahead of him, but he is now inside the top 100 in the FedEx Cup standings after a string of four missed cuts put him on the outside looking in. I still believe Hadwin will be a big time player on Tour - it has just taken him longer to adjust to Tour life.

- Danny Lee has played a lot of golf this season, but it seems like he is playing better as the season goes on. Lee has already played in 22 events this season, but is coming off of a T13 and a T10 in his last two events. You would think all this golf would make him tired, but it looks like it is inspiring him to play better.

- If you ever wanted more evidence that golf in Asia is starting to explode, look no further than 23 year old Byeong-Hun An. An, who won the US Amateur title in 2009, has been having a pretty good season on the European Tour, but his victory in the European Tour's flagship event has put An on the map. There is now a chance for An to play on the President's Cup team in his native Europe, and his victory get him an exemption into the US Open, Open Championship, and Bridgestone Invitational. Asian golf is starting to spike. Do not be surprised if a player from Asia walks away with a major championship this year.

- Thongchai Jaidee finishing T2 at the BMW PGA Championship at the age of 45 would be impressive had it not been for Miguel Angel Jimenez finishing in the same spot at 52 years old. The world's most interesting golfer refuses to age, and is starting to look as good now as he did 10 years ago. It is a shame that more people in the US do not know who Jaidee is, and that he never had had success in the majors, but with these two classics still running as strong as ever, there still appears to be time to change that.

- There is a story I am keeping a close eye on, and that story is Y.E. Yang. The 2009 PGA Champion has seen his career falter to the point where he has lost his PGA Tour card, so Yang is attempting to revitalize his career on the European Tour. So far, so good, as he has made the cut in his last six events both on the PGA Tour and European Tour, with his worse finish on the European Tour being a T28. He has risen 300 spots in the World Golf Rankings and is inside the top 100 in the Race To Dubai standings. Here's hoping he keeps up his improved playing.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Abbreviated Wednesday Preview - Crowne Plaza Colonial

I spent all day yesterday working as a Judge of Elections, and today has been spent sleeping, so this won't be a complete preview. Instead, you just get my Fantasy Four.

Fantasy Four:

Jimmy Walker - Quietly having a great season. Always done incredibly well when the pressure to perform isn't on him. A Texas guy with ties to the area.

Zach Johnson - Terrific history. Putter has quickly turned around. 

Chad Campbell - Sleeper pick. Looks to be on track to regain full Tour privileges next season.

John Senden - Terrific putter. Shorter course should play well into his game.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Rory Stands Alone

- If there was any doubt as to who the best player in the world is, Rory McIlroy put an end to that doubt. Rory's course record 61 shot on Saturday was as brilliant a round of golf as has been played this season, and Sunday was nothing more than a victory lap for the World Number One. Rory is peeking, again, right before the US Open. Remember when we were asking if the Rory Era was over? That seems like lightyears ago.

- The feel good story of the week might be Patrick Rodgers, who cashed in on his last sponsors exemption to get within inches of a PGA Tour card. Rodgers will have plenty of opportunities to play over the next several weeks, including Colonial and Memorial, so if he's able to have one more good week, he will wrap up special temporary membership for the year and a PGA Tour card for 2016. The future of golf is looking brighter and brighter every week.

- Lefty done? Not quite yet. Phil Mickelson showed the world something this week with his T4 finish at Quail Hollow. To be completely fair, Quail Hollow is a course where Phil has had plenty of success in the past, so it should be no surprise to see him play well here again. That being said, that's two top 10's this season after only one in all of 2014. There is life still left in the Hall of Famer, and Chambers Bay is right around the corner.

- Every time I'm ready to throw dirt on Geoff Ogilvy's career, he seems to come back when least expected. After failing to do very little all season, Ogilvy finished T7 at Quail Hollow. The days of Ogilvy being one of the top players on Tour are over, but the former US Open champion can still contend from time to time, and another trophy may be in his future.

- Did I mention that this year's rookie class on the LPGA Tour is really good? This time it's Minjee Lee who gets a victory on the LPGA Tour after an excellent final round 65 put her over the edge. Lee was expected to be a contender for Rookie Of The Year honors, but has had a less than spectacular season, at least compared to her fellow rookies. Lee has a great amateur background and victories are expected for her, so perhaps this was her coming out party on the LPGA Tour.

- Another week, another opportunity for So Yeon Ryu that went by the wayside. To be fair, Minjee Lee didn't give her much to work with, but there were still plenty of opportunities for Ryu to make birdies that she was unable to convert. Still, it was a good week for Ryu, who has not had a very good season this year. Normally I walk away with negatives whenever Ryu contends but does not win, but I am feeling more optimistic this time around.

- Alison Lee was unable to close out the tournament, but to her credit, she didn't completely shoot herself out of it. On the contrary, she shot a final round 69 when all the pressure was on her to pick up her first victory. These experiences do a lot to build a player into a contender, and this was Alison's first opportunity. The next time she gets into this position, she will be better prepared to handle the pressure. 

- Rod Pampling looks to be well on his way to retaining his PGA Tour card. The 45 year old former champion has been playing out of past champions status for the past several years, but a top 10 in Puerto Rico and a win this week on the Tour had Pampling in the driver seat for a return to the Tour. Pampling's strong finish in Australia at the beginning of 2015 has him exempt into the Open Championship, and he currently sits 8th on the Tour money list. Great playing, Rod!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Min Young Lee Battles Back From Cancer

In a story that fell under the radar, KLPGA superstar Min Young Lee, who won a few times last season, is playing in her first KLPGA event of 2015. This is because of a mysterious ailment that caused her severe abdominal pain. After some tests, the doctors found a form of kidney cancer in Lee, and she immediately underwent surgery. Luckily for Lee, it appears that they caught the cancer before it spread any further into Lee's body.

This story in itself would be impressive - person fights cancer and wins, but it is not over yet. Lee is teeing it up this week in her first event, less than two months after her surgery, and amazingly, she shot a three under par 69, and is only one shot back of seven leaders. Props to Lee for battling back. I will be keeping an eye on her for the rest of the season. Hopefully she can keep up this fantastic performance.

EDIT: Shout out to HappyFan over at for the heads up on the story. If you can read Korean, you can find the reported story here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wednesday Preview - Kingsmill Championship

After taking a week off, the ladies of the LPGA Tour head to the east coast for the Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg, Virginia. The countdown to the US Women's Open begins this week.

Course: Kingsmill Resort, River Course, a 6,400 yard track. It's not terribly lengthy but it can be tricky in certain parts. The scores generally hover around twelve under par. Annika Sorenstam owns the scoring record at -19, but she also won by seven strokes that year. Look for eleven or twelve to take it.

Strength Of Field: B+. A few players here and there, like Shanshan Feng, prevent this event from being another A class field. Expect another top heavy leaderboard this weekend.

Extra Tidbits: Following the North Texas Shootout, a reshuffle occurred in the priority rankings. Charley Hull and Stephanie Meadow get into the field thanks to their new priority ranking. Expect them to play a ton leading up to the US Open...Brooke Henderson is once again in the field this week. Expect her to receive membership next year after commission Mike Whan accepts her special exemption...This used to be the site of the Michelob ULTRA Open, which always attracted the best fields. The tournament took two years off in 2010 and 2011, and is now back as the re-branded Kingsmill Championship...Lizette Salas won her first LPGA Title last year by four strokes...Only one play has won more than once in Kingsmill. That player is Cristie Kerr, who has won three times.

Fantasy Four:

Inbee Park - Won once again in Texas after finishing runner up in Hawaii. She's Lydia Ko's closest challenger and has been playing incredible golf, again, in 2015. 

Lydia Ko - It will take a lot to be bumped out of the Fantasy Four for Ko, but I do not consider her the favorite this week, thanks to Inbee's stunning play as of late. That means Ko will enter this week under the radar...a dangerous position for the world's top player.

Lexi Thompson - Has been quickly improving and appears to be knocking on the door of her first victory since her major triumph last season. The course should set up for her game, and she could overpower a few holes on this course.

Hyo Joo Kim - After winning a month ago, she has finished either inside the top 10 or just outside in every event. 

(SLEEPER) Stephanie Meadow - Will be looking to take advantage of her new status on Tour. Her only start this season was a T20 at the ANA Inspiration. A lot of people seem to have forgotten about Meadow, who finished inside the top 5 at the US Open, and she will remind some people this week.
EDIT: Stephanie Meadow has withdrawn from the event. My Sleeper replacement will be Brooke Henderson.

Wednesday Preview - Wells Fargo Championship

We are now into the meat of the PGA Tour schedule, as every event should have a decent field on good golf courses. This week, the players head to North Carolina for the Wells Fargo Championship.

Course: Quail Hollow Club, a 7,500 yard track. Quail Hollow is one of the top ranked courses on Tour and a staple of the PGA Tour season. Conditions could make individual rounds difficult, but the winning score has finished between -10 and -15 all but twice in this tournament's history. Expect the same this year.

Strength Of Field: B+. Pretty darn good considering we're just coming off two big golf tournaments. Rory, Jason Day, and Jim Furyk are among the big name players, with players like Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, and Hideki Matsuyama also part of the field.

Extra Tidbits: Scott Gutschewski, Travis Howe, Matt Thompson, and Andres Echavarria are the Monday Qualifiers. Gutschewski is a former PGA Tour player but hasn't played in an event since 2011. He is overcoming injuries and expects to play on the Tour this year...Corey Conners, who was the runner-up at the US Amateur last year, will make his third start on the PGA Tour...Quail Hollow was the site of both Rory McIlroy's and Rickie Fowler's first PGA Tour victory.

Fantasy Four:

Phil Mickelson - A superb record here, which includes a T11 last year during his roughest stretch of golf. Missed the cut last week while flying under the radar, so there are still questions about his game, but showed at Augusta that he can play well in certain venues. Lefty has never missed a cut at Quail Hollow.

Jim Furyk - All time money leader at this event enters with a boost of confidence after winning in South Carolina. Winner in '06 and came up just short last year. Furyk is comfortable here, and should have another monster week.

Ryo Ishikawa - Sleeper pick. I know, he's driven me off the bridge before, but I feel really confident after his T8 last week. Cashed in on six paydays in eight weeks. He seems to be turning things around, but struggles with consistency. Quail Hollow has been known to be the break out event for many young players.

Kevin Kisner - Two playoff losses to two superstars have quickly put Kisner on everyone's radar. While he has no experience in this event, he does not seem to be afraid of the stage in any event. Another one that fits the "young player" mold that Quail Hollow loves to reward.

Last Weeks Team:
Jordan Spieth: CUT
Hideki Matsuyama: T17
Danny Willett: CUT
Rory McIlroy: T8 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Rickie. Friggin. Fowler

- They said he was over rated. They said he couldn't win. They said he was done, and that a new batch of young superstars was about to jump him. The world had buried Rickie Fowler, but he did all he could and then some to silence those critics and win for the first time in three years. Fowler's win is impressive, not for everything surround him entering the tournament, but HOW he was able to pull it off - going birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie during one of the toughest stretches of holes on Tour, waiting over an hour for other groups to finish, and then birding the 17th hole twice in a playoff. He wasn't going to let this one get away from him.

- Now that Rickie has his second win on the PGA Tour, will the trophies start to flood to him? It's possible. Sometimes, you chase that next victory so much that it gets further out of your reach. Rickie has proven to people how great he is, so he should be able to relax a little more and just let it come to him.

- When Kevin Kisner lost to Jim Furyk at the Heritage, I didn't write anything about him. After all, I thought he might have been a flash in the pan - someone who contends for one week at a golf courses that suits his game only to turn around and never contend again. Kisner really proved me wrong, as the stage was not too big for him and he found himself right in the middle of the action all the way until the end. Kisner may, in fact, be a superstar in the making. The shots he hit down the stretch and in the playoff show that he's not afraid of anything.

- I'm glad to see Kevin Na getting rid of the demons of a few years ago and contending once again at The Players. Na is another one of those young players, like Fowler was and like Jason Day was a few years ago, that just needs another victory to really start achieving up to his potential. I think he is really close, and it may come sooner rather than later.

- Speaking of beginning to achieve to their potential, Ryo Ishikawa's top 10 finish is leaving this super fan incredibly optimistic. This was Ishikawa's first time playing TPC Sawgrass and he was able to maneuver the course with four under par rounds. The thing holding back Ishikawa the last couple of weeks is the fact that he has had a tough time putting together four solid rounds. If he is able to start playing more consistently, he could finally become the player people expected him to be.

- I'm going to have to start taking John Senden more seriously. A week after making it to the quarterfinals of the Match Play, Senden played well on the weekend in Sawgrass to put him into the top 10. Senden remains one of the best putters on Tour, so if his iron play and his driving are at least decent, he is a threat to win.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Calvin Peete And Pete Brown Pass Away

Last week, the golf world said goodbye to two more influential players, as Calvin Peete and Pete Brown both passed away.

Calvin Peete took an unusual path to the PGA Tour. While other players were excelling at the game as kids and playing among their peers as amateurs, Peete didn't start playing golf until his 20's. Peete grew up incredibly poor, and made money peddling goods to migrant workers in the Rochester area. As a kid, he suffered a severely broken arm that was never properly set. This didn't hurt Peete's chances at success, however, as he joined the PGA Tour in 1975 and immediately became one of the most accurate drivers of the golf ball. Peete lead the Tour in driving accuracy for ten straight years in the 80's. 

Peete won twelve times, all between 1979 and 1986, when he was picking apart golf courses with his brilliant accuracy. His greatest victory came at TPC Sawgrass when he won the Players Championship in 1985. Peete played on two Ryder Cup teams, and while he never won a major, he made a run at the PGA Championship in 1982 and 1984, finishing T3 and 4, respectfully. Peete won the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average in 1984. Peete was the most successful African American to play on the PGA Tour prior to Tiger Woods, and is considered a borderline Hall of Famer by many.

Pete Brown grew up in Mississippi in the 40's and 50's during a time of racial tension in that state. He worked as a caddie as a child until taking up the game competitively. His career was halted in the late-50's when he suffered from polio, but recovered and came back stronger than ever. In 1963, Brown was the second African American to receive his PGA Tour card after Charlie Sifford, and in 1964, he became the first African American to win on the PGA Tour. He would win again in 1970 for his last of two PGA Tour victories over a 17 year career. He also served as the head golf pro at Madden Golf Course in Dayton, Ohio for over 20 years.

Coupled with the loss of Sifford earlier this year, the African American community has lost three of their most influential members within the sport of golf. They left behind a legacy of tearing down barriers and opening the game of golf to everyone, something the sport still tries to do but struggles with from time to time. The game of golf is better because we had these men competing in the game, and they will be missed.

2015 has not been kind to us.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Wednesday Preview - The Players Championship

From one high quality event to another, the players go from a World Golf Chanpionship to the Player Championship, otherwise known as the PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP. Actually, I think it's stylized as just THE PLAYERS, but whatever.

Course: TPC Sawgrass. Probably the most well known golf course outside of Augusta, Georgia. While the course as a whole can play pretty easy, the final three holes can absolutely sink someone's tournament. 17 isn't a hard hole, but the stadium nature can cause a lot of pressure. The 18th is an absolute bear, and par is a good score on that hole. I expect the winning score to hit ten under.

Strength Of Field: A+. No complaints here. Everyone who's anyone is here. This actually might have a better field than the majors, because it's a full field that doesn't have a bunch of open qualifiers.

Extra Tidbits: Tiger Woods is playing this week. His world ranking is at 120, the worst in his professional career...Victor Dubuisson has withdrawn from the tournament for the second straight year with no explanation. The explanation is likely that Dubuisson just doesn't want to play this tournament...The Seniors Players Champion receives an exemption into this tournament. This year, that distinction belongs to Bernhard Langer, who could actually contend considering how well he has played the last couple of seasons.

Fantasy Four:

Jordan Spieth - Got eliminated from the Match Play after cruising through his first two matches. Hasn't finished worse than 11th in his last five stroke play events, a streak that includes two victories.

Hideki Matsuyama - Might be the best ball striker on the Tour right now. Finished inside the top 10 at The Masters, and looked good at the Match Play until he ran into Rory. He's never intimidated by the golf course. 

Danny Willett - Sleeper pick. Finished a surprising third place at the Match Play after playing well at The Masters. He is proving to be a better commodity than just someone who plays well in Europe. 

Rory McIlroy - The number one player in the world is playing like it. When he gets on a run, he is unstoppable. Has taken over for Jordan as the favorite in every tournament he tees it up in.

Monday, May 4, 2015

King Rory And Queen Bee Rule On Sunday

- Only Rory McIlroy could be the number one player in the world and be completely overlooked in a tournament. Entering this week, a lot of people were talking about Jordan Spieth and how far he can go, as well as some of the other players in the field and whether or not they are great for Match Play. In the end, though, talent will win out over anything else, and Rory McIlroy has more talent than anyone else in the world. The Age Of Jordan? I think Rory has a few things to say about that.

- The PGA Tour changed the format to try and add more intrigue to the Match Play. The result, however, was more of a detriment than it was helpful. Instead of one incredibly exciting day for the opening round, we were treated to three relatively boring days until someone moved on. Unfortunately for the Match Play, the tournament fell in the middle of the NBA playoffs, the Mayweather fight, and the Kentucky Derby, so it was going to be difficult to attract attention in the first place. Still, they need to do more tinkering to make this the excitement they expect it to be, because even with the World Number One playing all the way until the final match, it was hard to really keep my focus on this event the entire time.

- Is this tournament the beginning of Danny Willett as a world class player, or is he just good at this format? We will find out more next week when he plays in his first Players Championship, but he looked good this week, and he was not intimidated by Augusta National a few weeks ago. Between Willett and Tommy Fleetwood, I'm sure David Love III is not happy to see so many young Europeans excel this format.

- Earlier this season, I may have declared that the Lydia Ko Era on the LPGA Tour would last for a very long time. I still think Ko is the player to beat, but Inbee Park seems to be counter punching any time Ko makes a statement. One week after Ko defended her title at the Swinging Skirts, Queen Bee won the North Texas Shootout by three strokes, and honestly it didn't seem that close. While other players got within shouting distance, none of them played as solidly as Inbee did all week. If a few more putts would have dropped, Inbee would have won this tournament on Saturday. When Inbee plays well, she is scary good. The US Women's Open is going to be incredibly exciting.

- The Big Four is quickly turning into the Big Three. Hyo Joo Kim notched yet another top 25 finish with her T11 in Texas, but she doesn't seem to have the ability to finish like Inbee or Lydia have, and she has the tendency to struggle with her putter from time to time. Stacy Lewis finished in the top 10 for the 400th time in the past two seasons, but she hasn't been able to put four rounds together and is always forced to make a charge on Sunday. Lewis and Kim are both incredible players and the best of the next group, bur right now, Lydia and Inbee are sprinting away from them right now.

- What was the most impressive "comeback" performance of the week? Was it Maria McBride, formally Maria Hjorth, who won five times on the LPGA Tour and played on five Solheim Cup teams, but hasn't has a top 10 in years, or was it Juli Inkster, the Hall of Famer and Solheim Cup captain that turned the clock back and gave her Solheim Cup players an inspirational performance? Take your pick - they're both amazing stories. This is the second week this season that Inkster has played well, this a year after she thought she was going to step away from the game completely. There's still a lot of life left in the legend.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Stephanie Wie Gets Credentials Revoked For Modernizing Golf

In the strangest news of the week, blogger and media personality Stephanie Wei, operator of Wei Under Par, got her media credentials from the PGA Tour removed for using the mobile app Periscope during a Monday practice round. Periscope, for those of you unaware, is an app that allows a user to live stream directly from their phone. Anyone who downloads Periscope can watch video taken from another Periscope user's cell phone. Essentially, it allows users to see the world through the eyes of other users. By activating the app, Wei was allowing users to see on the course coverage of the Monday practice round.

Allow me to say, off the top, that if this were to happen during an official round of a tournament, then media credentials should absolutely be taken away. Television companies and sponsors pay a lot of money for coverage of a golf tournament, and one member of the media allowing viewers to bypass that coverage would be incredibly detrimental to the Tour. It would give those particular media members all the power, and would cut into the profits of the Tour. It's similar to the issues internet live streaming causes for television programs.

This is not the issue at hand, however. Wei was using the app during a practice round, which are not televised. The only way for someone to watch a practice round would be to purchase a ticket and watch it in person. That's great for a couple thousand people in the area, but for someone like me, who lives in Northeast Pennsylvania, it would be pretty difficult to attend a practice round in San Francisco, California.

Stephanie Wei didn't do anything to the detriment of the Tour. If anything, she unlocked a new way to open golf up to a large mass of individuals who do not normally watch, and to be able to view events and watch parts of the tournament that are normally invisible to the general audience.

This speaks to an underlining issue within the PGA Tour and the world of golf in general, and that is the inability of anyone to modernize and to reach out to a younger audience. Tour executives only know what they are used to - TV ratings and contracts. It's this same "blinders on" mentality that lead to no one being able to watch the dramatic finish of the RBC Heritage, as the final round was moved up to avoid incoming weather and the TV coverage was already set for 3 PM, long after the tournament ended. If the PGA Tour would have allowed itself some room in their contract, or if they embraced the new internet age, people would have been able to actually witness Jim Furyk winning his first tournament in five years, instead of having to watch it live blogged over Twitter.

The problem with the PGA Tour and the other Tours and agencies within golf is simple - they lack young leadership to keep them in the know about current trends. If you're constantly trying to play catch up with the rest of the world, the world will eventually leave you behind. Removing Wei's credentials sends a really bad signal that the PGA Tour is tone deaf.