Hogan's famed 1-iron makes appearance at Merion

By Randall MellJune 11, 2013, 7:47 pm

ARDMORE, Pa. – Merion Golf Club’s rich history became palpable during Tuesday morning’s practice rounds.

Just ask Sergio Garcia, Jose Maria Olazabal, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Jamie Donaldson.

After hitting a tee shot left of the plaque in the 18th fairway that commemorates Ben Hogan’s famed 1-iron shot in his 1950 U.S. Open victory, Garcia was waved over to the other side of the fairway by his playing partners.

“You must come see this,” Fernandez-Costano told Garcia. “You won’t believe it.”

When Garcia heard what it was, he began to sprint.

Standing aside the fairway as Garcia approached, Matt Adams of the PGA Tour Network cradled a historical treasure, the same 1-iron Hogan used to hit the famous shot that set up his playoff victory at Merion all those years ago. The USGA brought the club to the course Tuesday as part of a celebration of the U.S. Open’s return to Merion. Adams got special permission to use the club to pose over the plaque for a photo making the same follow-through Hogan was captured making in Hy Peskin’s iconic photograph. He did so just before Garcia and Co. arrived.

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With USGA officials along, Adams was required to wear white gloves as he pulled Hogan’s prized club out of a black case. He was also asked to make sure nobody else touched it. Garcia desperately wanted to hold it. He wanted to put his grip on it, set it down at address and absorb its magic in a few waggles.

Adams let him do the next best thing.

Adams set up with the club hovering over the grass and let Garcia stand over his left shoulder and look down at the club.

“It’s a testament to Sergio that he wanted to see it that way,” Adams said. “When good players look at a club, they want to see that top line. So, he stood over my shoulder, looking down at it at address, just the way Hogan would have on that Saturday in 1950.”

Garcia was surprised by the club’s dimensions.

“It was amazing to see the iron itself,” Garcia said. “It looks so tiny. Even though irons haven't changed that much, it's still looks really, really tiny. Not a lot of loft on it.

“It was my first time playing the 18th hole, so it was very exciting to be able to see where he hit it from to that kind of green and what he was able to achieve.”

That 1-iron took a remarkable journey back to Merion this week.

The club was stolen from Hogan after his U.S. Open victory and went missing for 30 years. The 1-iron mystifyingly resurfaced in a bag of old irons sold in 1983 to golf club dealer Bobby Farino, who suspected he had come into a treasure and took the club to the Ben Hogan company. Hogan positively identified the club he used to win the U.S. Open at Merion.

Olazabal marveled getting to see the artifact outside the USGA museum.

“It was fantastic,” he said.

Adams marveled at the small, worn spot Hogan had made with so many precise shots in the same spot. Adams said the spot isn’t in the center of the club face, but closer to the heel. He loved seeing how Hogan had ground down the inner hosel of the club to prevent shanks because he did make contact so close to the heel.

“Looking at that, I felt like Ben Hogan was talking to us, seeing what he did to the club for technical reasons,” Adams said. “It’s amazing.”

Adams said the flange of the club was quite narrow and the numeral 1 practically worn off.

“It was my dream to take that club back to the exact spot Hogan hit it,” Adams said.

Standing over the plaque, in that Hogan pose with a 1-iron over his head, Adams got emotional.

“It sent chills through me,” Adams said. “I can hardly describe it.”

History is always palpable at Merion, but especially so in the 18th fairway Tuesday.

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The Social: G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T.

By Jason CrookJanuary 23, 2018, 6:00 pm

Tom Brady compares himself to Tiger Woods, who coincidentally is returning to the PGA Tour this week, Jordan Spieth hangs out with some decent company and kids these days ruffle some feathers with their friendships.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

Well, it’s finally Farmers Insurance Open week and Woods has been spotted practicing for his official return to the PGA Tour on Thursday.

Some thought this day might never come after a 2017 filled with mostly downs for the 14-time major champ.

But as he has taught the golf world time and time again, you just can't count Tiger out.

So even as Jon Rahm attempts to overtake Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world this week at Torrey Pines, all eyes will be on one of the greatest we've ever seen do it, even if that guy is ranked No. 647 in the world.

Speaking of greatness …

There’s not many who can just offhandedly compare themselves to Tiger, but if anyone gets a pass, it’s Tom Brady.

The 40-year-old New England Patriots quarterback led his team back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year despite playing the AFC title game with a cut on his throwing hand.

When asked about it after the Patriots come-from-behind victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady answered, “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”

So there you have it. A 40-year-old Brady is winning AFC Championships with his C game. Good luck, Eagles; you’re going to need it.

Also, if for some reason you wanted an update on Justin Thomas' life, it's still awesome:

Yeah, that's last year's PGA Tour Player of the Year hanging with Cy Young winner Cory Kluber in a suite at the Patriots game and teasing us with a possible #SB2K18 cameo.

Curtis Strange likes his competitive golf straight up, hold the friendliness.

This, according to Curtis Strange.

The two-time U.S. Open champ took to Twitter during the CareerBuilder Challenge to vent his frustration regarding the constant chit-chat and friendliness between Rahm and Andrew Landry:

This, of course, makes sense in theory. But good luck watching golf – or really any sport – from here on out. Sure there will be a few old school guys who buck the trend here and there, but for the most part, it’s really hard to share a private jet/dinners/vacations/(insert awesome thing here) with someone, and then completely turn off the friendship coming down the stretch of a big tournament.

Damn millennials. They ruin everything.

By now you've all seen that poor Philadelphia Eagles fan who lost his battle with a subway station pillar (from multiple angles), so instead here is a video of a man attempting to stand on an egg. Bet you can't guess how that goes.

Tony's gonna stand on an egg

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Seriously if you haven't seen the video of that Eagles fan, here's your last chance in this column. You'll be glad you did.

Jordan Spieth, Michael Phelps and Bryce Harper walk on to a golf course … there’s no punchline, that actually happened last week in Las Vegas.

Was the whole thing just a big advertisement for Spieth’s new Under Armour shoe? You bet.

But that doesn’t make the optics of three of the biggest superstar athletes on the planet teeing it up for a round any less awesome.

Off to the next. #Spieth2 #TEAMUA

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The trio has three major wins, five All Star Game appearances and 28 Olympic medals between them, and there they were over the weekend just fake laughing for the camera and driving around individual golf carts with their own personalized logos on them.

Just guys being dudes. Nothing better than that.

Matt Kuchar. Still good at golf. Still overly polite. This according to European Tour pro Eddie Pepperell who had the privilege of hitting on the range next to Kuuuuuch in Abu Dhabi last week.

That image is burned into your brain forever now, thanks Eddie. From now on when you think of Kuchar you're going to think of those Sketches ads and "oopsies."

Which, I suppose is better than a, "Did you get that?"

Blayne Barber's caddie, Cory Gilmer, collapsed and hit his head while at a restaurant at the Sony Open and has been mostly unconscious in the neurological intensive care unit ever since.

The outpouring of love and support from the golf community has been overwhelming on social media, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the mounting medical costs for Gilmer and his family.

Check out the link below for more info or to donate to a worthy cause:

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Top-ranked amateur wins LAAC, earns Masters invite

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 5:38 pm

Joaquin Niemann walked Augusta National Golf Club as a patron last year. He’ll be a competitor in 2018.

Niemann, the top-ranked amateur in the world, shot 8-under 63 Tuesday at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Santiago, Chile, to win the Latin America Amateur Championship.

And with the title, both redemption and an invitation to the Masters Tournament.

Full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship

Niemann finished runner-up in last year’s LAAC to fellow Chilean Toto Gana. He followed Gana around Augusta grounds, watching as his best friend played two rounds before missing the cut.

Niemann, who was going to turn professional had he not won this week, started the final round one back of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz. Niemann was sluggish from the start on Tuesday, but then drove the 313-yard, par-4 eighth and made the eagle putt. That sparked a run of five birdies over his next six holes.

Niemann was bogey-free in the final round and finished five shots clear of Ortiz, at 11 under.

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Judges Panel, Host Announced for Wilson Golf's "Driver vs. Driver 2," Premiering This Fall on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 23, 2018, 4:15 pm

‘Driver vs. Driver 2 Presented by Wilson Currently in Production; Sports Broadcaster Melanie Collins Returns to Host

Morning Drive: Driver vs. Driver 2 Judges Announced

Golf Channel and Wilson Golf announced today the panel of judges and host for the second season of Driver vs. Driver, the innovative television series that follows aspiring golf equipment designers as they compete for the opportunity to have their driver idea or concept transformed into the next great golf driver from Wilson. The show is currently in production and will premiere this fall.

Joining judge Tim Clarke, President of Wilson Golf, are two newcomers to the series: 9-time National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star and current NHL on NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick – an avid golfer with a single digit handicap and a self-described golf equipment junkie; and PGA Professional, golf coach, equipment reviewer and social media influencer Rick Shiels.

“Golf is a big passion of mine, and personally I enjoy learning about new equipment and concepts,” said Roenick. “To be able to see this side of the business in how equipment is developed first-hand is fascinating. Being a part of the process in reviewing driver concepts and narrowing them down to an ultimate winning driver that will be sold across the country is a tremendous honor.” 

“Jeremy, as an avid golfer, and Rick, as a coach, equipment reviewer and golf professional, bring incredible, real world insights and different perspectives to the show and this process,” said Clarke. “I’m excited to work alongside these two judges to push the boundaries of innovation and bring a next-generation driver to golfers around the world.”

Sports broadcaster Melanie Collins returns as the host of Driver vs. Driver 2. Currently a sideline reporter for CBS Sports’ college football and basketball coverage, Collins hosted the inaugural season in 2016 and formerly co-hosted Golf Channel’s competition series, Big Break.

Production for Driver vs. Driver 2 began in the fall of 2017 and will continue through the summer, including this week at the PGA Merchandise Show. The series is being produced by Golf Channel, whose portfolio of original productions include interview series Feherty hosted by Emmy-nominated sports personality David Feherty, high-quality instruction shows School of Golf, Golf Channel Academy and Playing Lessons and a slate of award-winning films.

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Tiger Tracker: Farmers Insurance Open

By Tiger TrackerJanuary 23, 2018, 4:00 pm

Tiger Woods is competing in a full-field event for the first time in nearly a year. We're tracking him at this week's Farmers Insurance Open. (Note: Tweets read, in order, left to right)