Minnesota offers PGA warmest of welcomes

By Associated PressAugust 12, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 PGA ChampionshipCHASKA, Minn. ' For a state that spends six months of the year frozen solid, Minnesota has given the 2009 PGA Championship the warmest of welcomes.
 
Huge galleries. Immaculately prepared Hazeltine National. Warm, sunny weather. And thats just for the practice rounds. Wait until play begins on Thursday.
 
Golf in Minnesota? Ya sure, you betcha!
 
To have that many people here at a practice round is phenomenal, Tiger Woods said after fans stood five-deep around the tees and greens and lined the fairways to catch a glimpse of the worlds most famous athlete. Even at Bethpage this year, we never saw this many people. We thought that would have been the most that we would have all year.
 
This place has been phenomenal.
 
Hazeltine sets up as the longest course in major championship history. So there is plenty of room for Minnesotas legion of golf fanatics to line the ropes and see their favorite players this week.
 
Its the fifth PGA Championship held in Minnesota, and the first since Rich Beem held off the charging Woods in a memorable finish in 2002. Minnesota also hosted the U.S. Womens Open last year at Interlachen, another event that was hailed as a triumph by golfers, fans and officials.
 
Minnesota only has one annual professional golf tournament ' the 3M Championship senior event in Blaine. So the people here embrace any chance they get to show the rest of the country that golf belongs in the land of wind chills and ice fishing.
 
I think because our golf season is so short, the people in Minnesota love the game of golf and appreciate it more because they dont have as long to play per year, said Doug Dittbenner, a 41-year-old who made the 90-minute drive from North Mankato to take in the practice round on Wednesday. We have winters and falls and limited time. So when the best in the world come to Minnesota, the Minnesota congregation of golfers come together. They have in the past and they did it again here.
 
Congregation is an appropriate word. For a population that suffers from Cabin Fever from October through April and views January highs in the single digits as cause for celebration, spending a day under clear blue skies with green grass under their feet is tantamount to a secondary religion in these parts.
 
The PGA does not take attendance figures for practice rounds, but a single glance into the jam-packed walkways and screaming fans who tried to get autographs from Phil Mickelson was enough to illustrate Minnesotas affection for this game.
 
Certainly looking out at the attendance just these first three days, you would not know that there is an economic downturn here in the Twin Cities, PGA CEO Joe Steranka said. And it speaks to the fact that Minnesota has one of the highest per capita golf participation rates in the entire nation.
 
A 2006 survey by the National Golf Foundation said there were nearly 750,000 golfers in Minnesota. Many of them will be at Hazeltine all week, giving the pros here a hearty dose of that famed Minnesota Nice. The galleries may be large, but players have found the fans to be respectful, polite and gracious.
 
I think from what I saw today, the fans have been supportive of all the players as theyve come through, Mickelson said. And I think this is a great site to hold this championship on because of the way the people are.
 
Well, most of the people.
 
There was an Animal House of sorts just off the tee box at No. 6 on Wednesday. A group of about 10 young adults sat on a deck watching the action and cheering heartily when each golfer reached the tee.
 
After Mike Miles let a drive fly, the peanut gallery went crazy, prompting Miles to look over and ask, What are you doing?
 
One of the young men replied, at about 10 a.m., Just shotgunning a beer for you!
 
Miles simply laughed and headed up the fairway, giving a faux chug of his water bottle to play to the crowd.
 
Its been incredible, the amount of people out here, Steve Stricker said. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. I was out here on Monday and played all 18. And the amount of people out here at that time was incredible.
 
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  • Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

    Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


    Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

    World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

    Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

    Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

    Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

    The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

    Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

    "I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

    Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

    Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

    Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.

    Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

    By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

    Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.


    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


    Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

    Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

    Getty Images

    LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

    The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

    LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

    "The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

    It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

    "He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."