PGA to Honor Renton Laidlaw
Laidlaw, 63, will be honored April 9, at the 31st Golf Writers Association of America Annual Spring Dinner and Awards Ceremony in Augusta, Ga.
Laidlaw, who has residences in Drumoig, Scotland, and Sunningdale, England, has been the original anchor for European professional golf since The Golf Channel began in 1995. From 1973 to 1998, Laidlaw was golf writer for the London Evening Standard. He has been covering golf continuously in print or through broadcasting since 1959.
'The PGA of America is proud to present this award to Renton Laidlaw whose professional career best exemplifies the global reach of golf,' said PGA of America President M.G. Orender. 'Few journalists today can match Renton's lifetime travels in golf. Beyond his love for people, Renton communicates his sincere passion for the game through an entertaining and insightful delivery.'
Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Laidlaw spends most of his time at his Scotland residence 15 minutes from legendary St. Andrews. His career spans nearly 45 years in covering golf in print, radio and television.
'I'm overwhelmed by this honor,' Laidlaw said. 'When I look at the impressive list of previous winners it makes me both proud and humble. I never believed that I could ever be considered for such a prestigious award, far less chosen to receive it.
'I've had an amazing life traveling the world doing something I enjoy. I've been very lucky. Golf is a great sport to be involved with. I have been in the right place at the right time and when The Golf Channel came along, I was fortunate enough to be selected by them to front the European golf each week. I just try to be myself and say what I think.'
Laidlaw began his professional career in 1957 as a junior reporter for the Edinburgh Evening News, where he was first given the opportunity to cover golf. A decade later, while working in a freelance capacity for Reuters covering golf worldwide, he switched to television. He began as sportscaster for Scottish Television in Glasgow, and later with Grampian TV in Aberdeen where he became an evening news anchor. Later, the BBC recruited Laidlaw to return to his hometown of Edinburgh as news anchor.
Laidlaw returned to print journalism in 1973 when he was offered a golf writer position with London's Evening Standard. By 1975, he was combining television and BBC radio assignments on weekends. For 15 years, he was BBC Radio's golf correspondent. In 1990, Laidlaw was spending his full time in broadcasting with British Satellite Broadcasting, which was later taken over by SKY.
In 1995, Laidlaw broadcast his first European Tour event for The Golf Channel from Dubai, site of the Desert Classic.
In November 1997, at the conclusion of the golf season, Laidlaw underwent double bypass heart surgery but was back on assignment by the following January at the Johnnie Walker Classic in Australia.
'I was hardly gone and nobody had missed me,' laughed Laidlaw. 'I had gone in to have my gall bladder removed and the specialist discovered that I had an 85 percent blockage. I never had a heart attack, but it must have been close. I consider myself lucky to have been able to continue covering events worldwide.'
Laidlaw, a former longtime secretary and past chairman of Great Britain's Association of Golf Writers, is also editor of The Golfer's Handbook, a popular publication that originated in 1899.
'I think that everyone in Europe has benefited from the tremendous working relationship between the golf writers and the various ruling bodies over the past 25 years,' said Laidlaw. 'Because of the close cooperation, the working conditions for journalists covering golf are superb and that helps us all cover the game to the very best of our ability.'
The PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism honors members of the media for their steadfast promotion of golf. Past award winners include: Dick Taylor, Herbert Warren Wind, Jim Murray, Frank Chirkinian, Bob Green, Dan Jenkins, Furman Bisher, Jack Whitaker, Dave Anderson, Ken Venturi, Jim McKay, Kaye Kessler and Nick Seitz.
The award selection committee is composed of representatives from The PGA of America, PGA Tour, USGA, LPGA Tour, Champions Tour, European Tour, Golf Superintendents Association of America, National Golf Course Owners Association, American Society of Golf Course Architects, the National Golf Foundation and past recipients.
Rahm (62) fires career low round
The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:
Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)
What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.
Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.
Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.
Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.
Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.
Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.
"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."
Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.
Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.
"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.
Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.
Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.
Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.
The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.
Mickelson starts fast, fades to 70 at La Quinta
Phil Mickelson got off to a fast start in his first competitive round of 2018 - for six holes, at least.
The 47-year-old is making his first start since the WGC-HSBC Champions this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and only his third competitive appearance since the BMW Championship in September. Four birdies over his first six holes indicated that a strong opener might be in the cards, but Mickelson played his subsequent holes in 2 over.
It added up to a 2-under 70 at La Quinta Country Club, typically the easiest of the three courses in rotation this week, and left Mickelson eight shots behind Jon Rahm.
"It was fun to get back out and be competitive," Mickelson told reporters. "I for some reason am stuck on 70 here at La Quinta, whether I get off to a good start or a bad one, I end up shooting the same score."
Mickelson stunted his momentum with a tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 eighth hole, but he managed to save bogey and otherwise drove the ball relatively well. Instead, he pointed to his normally reliable iron play as the culprit for his back-nine backslide on a day when more than 120 players in the 156-man field broke par.
Mickelson will now head to the Nicklaus Tournament Course with the Stadium Course on tap for Saturday's third round. While there were several low scores Thursday at La Quinta, Mickelson remains bullish about the birdie opportunities that still lie ahead.
"This isn't the course where I go low on," Mickelson said. "I feel more comfortable on Stadium and Nicklaus. Neither of them are nearly as tight and I tend to score a lot lower on those other two than I do here, historically."