Protests expected at Senior PGA at Trump National

By Associated PressMay 24, 2017, 8:57 pm

STERLING, Va. – This year's venue for the Senior PGA Championship has made news for reasons that have nothing to do with the tournament or the champion it might produce.

The world's best 50-and-over golfers are competing for the first time at a course owned by a sitting president: Trump National Golf Club, on the Potomac River about 25 miles northwest of Washington. President Donald Trump has already visited the club four times since taking office.

The course has been targeted by vandals and widely mocked for including a plaque commemorating a Civil War battle that never happened. Law enforcement officials on site are anticipating protests along the river, which is the only way to access the property without a ticket.

''I think that's good, as long as it's peaceful,'' Paul Goydos said Wednesday after his practice round. ''They have the right to maybe yell from the river or something. I think that's a healthy thing for our society. We need more people talking.''

When it was announced as the venue in 2014, nobody had any idea that Trump, who was eager to host major championships as he worked to build his golf properties into a global brand, would be elected president two years later. This year's Senior PGA was part of a package deal for Trump, who will also host the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump National in Bedminster, New Jersey.

The deal was considered a win-win for Trump and the PGA of America, former PGA president Ted Bishop said in a telephone interview, and he still feels the association with the president is good for the event.

''I don't see where it would be a detraction or a distraction in any way, shape or form,'' said Bishop, who led the PGA in 2014 when it struck the deal with Trump. ''I think that now the site selection has been enhanced even more by the fact that the facility is in some way under the ownership of the current, sitting president of the United States. I don't see where that's a bad thing, politics aside. Whether you agree with the man or not, I think it's a good thing for golf.''

Trump was known for his dramatic arrivals by helicopter at the World Golf Championships event at Doral in Miami after he bought and renovated that course. The PGA Tour ended up moving that event to Mexico when the title sponsor didn't renew.

Trump is traveling abroad, and the only day he could attend would be Sunday. Goydos said he doesn't anticipate a presidential visit.

''I would hope he had better things to do,'' Goydos said.

Trump has plenty of support inside the ropes. Several players, including defending champion Rocco Mediate and Fred Funk, wear the Trump logo on their shirts. Mediate and Funk said they've occasionally mixed it up with hecklers since Trump took office.

''He's the president of the United States. I think people need to get on his wagon and ride with him let him do what he's doing and leave him alone,'' John Daly said. ''I think he's doing a hell of a job.''

The Senior PGA is played every other year at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Michigan, the corporate home of title sponsor KitchenAid. In the off years, the PGA of America has chosen venerable sites including Aronimink, Bellerive and Oak Hill.

Trump National's history is more checkered. Trump bought the former Lowes Island Club in 2009 and spent $25 million renovating it. He cut down more than 450 trees along the Potomac River to create scenic waterfront holes, a decision that led to protests from environmentalists.

The course has been vandalized twice in recent months - once on election day and again in April. No arrests have been made in either case. In the April incident, vandals spray-painted ''RESIST'' on a fairway, dug up grass and poured chemicals.

Trump's recent comments suggesting that Andrew Jackson could have stopped the Civil War brought fresh attention to a plaque that claims both sides suffered heavy casualties on that section of the Potomac, leading it to be called ''The River of Blood.'' No major battles occurred anywhere near the site, according to historians.

The PGA of America declined to make its current president or executive director available for interviews to discuss the event's association with Trump. Jamie Carbone, a PGA spokeswoman, said the organization was eager to bring the championship to the Washington area for the first time.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.