USGA Announces 2006 Championship Schedule
Beginning in June, the USGA visits 13 different states and returns to eight familiar venues, including Newport (R.I.) Country Club, one of the original five founding member clubs of the USGA. The season concludes in late October with the World Amateur Team Championships in South Africa, where more than 60 men's and women's teams are expected to participate.
Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y., will kick off the USGA season June 15-18 when it hosts its fifth U.S. Open, but the first at the site in 22 years. Michael Campbell of New Zealand will look to defend his title against a field of the world's best players, including two-time champions Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Tiger Woods.
The Women's Open, set for June 29-July 2, comes to historic Newport Country Club, site of the inaugural U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur in 1895. The club did not host another USGA competition for 100 years until Woods won the second of his three consecutive Amateur titles there in 1995. Birdie Kim of Korea will try to defend the Women's Open title. Last June, she won in dramatic fashion at Cherry Hills Country Club outside Denver, Colo., when she holed out a bunker shot at the 72nd hole to defeat teenage amateurs Brittany Lang and Morgan Pressel by two strokes.
Meanwhile, Kevin Tway of Edmond, Okla., has the opportunity to become just the second golfer to win two U.S. Junior Amateurs. His 18th birthday falls a day after the U.S. Junior at Rancho Santa Fe (Calif.) Golf Club concludes this summer (July 17-22), giving the son of 1986 PGA Championship winner Bob Tway a rare chance to defend in an event that is only open to male players under the age of 18.
The U.S. Girls' Junior, to be held July 17-22 at Carmel Country Club in Charlotte, N.C., will crown a new champion as 2005 winner In-Kyung Kim of Korea will be too old to compete. The competition is open to females who have not yet reached their 18th birthday.
Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan., the site of seven previous USGA competitions, hosts the U.S. Senior Open from July 6-9. Allen Doyle is the defending champion. He earned his win in 2005 after a marvelous 63 in the final round at NCR Country Club in Kettering, Ohio.
Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn., which has also hosted seven previous USGA events, will have the U.S. Amateur for the first time in its rich history from Aug. 21-27. The club has hosted two Opens, a Senior Open and a Women's Open. Now the world's best amateurs will get an up-close look at the Robert Trent Jones Sr. layout.
Another club returning to the USGA championship scene is Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, Ore., which hosts the Women's Amateur Aug. 7-13. It will be the sixth time the USGA has visited the club, the first coming in 1996 when Woods concluded his three-year Amateur victory run. Pressel, the 2005 champion, has turned professional and thus will not be eligible to defend her title.
Oregon also will be the scene of the Curtis Cup Match between female amateur teams from the USA and Great Britain & Ireland. Bandon Dunes Golf Resort hosts the two-day competition from July 29-30, with the USA looking to win the biennial event for a fifth consecutive time.
Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Ga., has hosted a USGA competition seven times before. The site gets an eighth opportunity Oct. 7-12 when the USGA Senior Women's Amateur, a competition for females 50 and over, will be played there for a record sixth time. Jamaican-born Diane Lang of Weston, Fla., will attempt to defend her title, while 2005 runner-up Carol Semple Thompson will seek a fifth victory.
Both USGA mid-amateur championships are returning to sites that have hosted one previous competition. The U.S. Mid-Amateur, for amateur golfers 25 and older, heads to Forest Highlands Golf Club in Flagstaff, Ariz., Sept. 9-14. The club hosted the 1996 Junior. Kevin Marsh of Las Vegas, Nev., returns to try to defend his title. Meanwhile, Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Miss., which hosted the 1999 U.S. Women's Open, welcomes the U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur from Oct. 21-26, where Canadian Mary Ann Lapointe is the defending champion.
Three other championships will be contested at first-time USGA venues. The U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship will be played June 20-25 at Walking Stick Golf Course in Pueblo, Colo. Gold Mountain Golf Club in Bremerton, Wash., hosts the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship July 10-15.
The USGA Senior Amateur, for golfers 55 and older, goes to Victoria National Golf Club in Newburgh, Ind., Sept. 16-21.
The biennial World Amateur Team Championships for men and women are scheduled for October at De Zalze Golf Club and Stellenbosch Golf Club in Cape Town, South Africa. The 72-hole womens competition will be played Oct. 18-21. The men's 72-hole event will be contested from Oct. 26-29.
McIlroy: Ryder Cup won't be as easy as USA thinks
The Americans have won their past two international team competitions by a combined score of 38-22, but Rory McIlroy isn’t expecting another pushover at the Ryder Cup in September.
McIlroy admitted that the U.S. team will be strong, and that its core of young players (including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler) will be a force for the next decade. But he told reporters Tuesday at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship that course setup will play a significant role.
“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said, referring to the Americans’ 17-11 victory in 2016. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”
At every Ryder Cup, the home team has the final say on course setup. Justin Rose was the most outspoken about the setup at Hazeltine, saying afterward that it was “incredibly weak” and had a “pro-am feel.”
And so this year’s French Open figures to be a popular stop for European Tour players – it’s being held once again at Le Golf National, site of the matches in September. Tommy Fleetwood won last year’s event at 12 under.
“I’m confident,” McIlroy said. “Everything being all well and good, I’ll be on that team and I feel like we’ll have a really good chance.
“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that. The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
Floodlights may be used at Dubai Desert Classic
No round at next week’s Dubai Desert Classic will be suspended because of darkness.
Tournament officials have installed state-of-the-art floodlighting around the ninth and 18th greens to ensure that all 132 players can finish their round.
With the event being moved up a week in the schedule, the European Tour was initially concerned about the amount of daylight and trimmed the field to 126 players. Playing under the lights fixed that dilemma.
“This is a wonderful idea and fits perfectly with our desire to bring innovation to our sport,” European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said. “No professional golfer ever wants to come back the following morning to complete a round due to lack of daylight, and this intervention, should it be required, will rule out that necessity.”
Next week’s headliners include Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.
Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas
Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.
Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.
Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.
McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.
Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?
Memo to the golf gods:
If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?
Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?
It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.
With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.
It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.
We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.
We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.
Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.
Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line. Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.
We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors.
In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.
While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.
Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.
Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.
Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.
While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.
Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.
So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?