Punch Shot: Does British win give Park Grand Slam?

By Rex HoggardJuly 30, 2013, 7:35 pm

All eyes are on Inbee Park this week as she tries to win her fourth consecutive major at the Ricoh Women’s British Open. But what exactly is on the line at the Old Course in St. Andrews? The traditional Grand Slam? Or would she need to also capture the LPGA’s fifth major, the Evian Masters in September, to complete some kind of Super Slam?

We asked our panel of writers: If Park wins this week, would you consider it the Grand Slam?


By RYAN LAVNER

Yes.

Forget what the schedule says. The Evian Masters doesn’t deserve to be a major, not yet anyway, and certainly not just because the LPGA wanted to appease a deep-pocketed sponsor and pushed for a status change. Major status is earned, not bought. The Big 4 in women’s golf are the Kraft, the LPGA, the Women’s Open and the Women’s British, for now and the foreseeable future. Winning all five is a bonus, a Super Slam. Requiring a clean sweep now is a disservice to Park, and the game in general. In Scotland she is attempting to become the first player, male or female, to win four professional majors in a calendar year. Make no mistake: that’s the Grand Slam.


By REX HOGGARD

Let it be told in 50-point bold type, if Inbee Park wins this week’s Women’s British Open it will be the Grand Slam, regardless of what the historians and housekeepers may claim.

With respect to the Evian, a first-year member of the LPGA’s major party, the symmetry of the grand four far outweighs the economic urgency of the one, to pencil whip history would be a disservice to Park and everyone who came before her with the singular notion of winning the single-season Grand Slam.

The LPGA can call it whatever they wish if Park goes on to win the Evian (may we suggest the Super Slam, or maybe the Park Slam), just don’t muddy the major waters with small print or an asterisk.

To put Park’s accomplishment in context, Tiger Woods – the best player of this generation and perhaps all time – has never won the first three legs of the single-season Grand Slam and Phil Mickelson is still a U.S. Open title away from the career Grand Slam ... at 43.

When Bobby Jones collected the single-season slam in 1930 he won the U.S. and British opens and U.S. Amateur and British Amateur championships, there was no footnote on that accomplishment pointing out the PGA Championship, which would later join the major rotation, had been played since 1916.

Similarly, if Park makes history this week at St. Andrews it will be the Grand Slam. Let the historians figure out what to do with the Evian.


By RANDALL MELL

If Inbee Park wins the Ricoh Women’s British Open this week, it will be the grandest feat in the history of professional golf, but it won’t be a slam, at least not a Grand Slam.

I’m with the folks who play bridge, the card game from which the term Grand Slam was borrowed. You've got to sweep all the points in the card game to win the Grand Slam. You've got to sweep all the majors in a single season to win the Grand Slam in golf.

Now, it’s unfortunate, even aggravating, that Park doesn’t arrive at St. Andrews with everything on the line in a Grand Slam bid. It’s such a terrific story, and the drama would be heightened knowing this is it, that a victory makes her the first man or woman to win professional golf's Grand Slam. However, there’s no ignoring the LPGA declaring the Evian Masters will serve as the fifth major this year. While I think the more big events the LPGA has the better, the timing’s unfortunate. It’s the LPGA’s sour luck that a Grand Slam bid would arrive the first year it goes to five majors.

Then again, maybe it’s just the opposite. Maybe it's grand luck. If Park wins the Women’s British Open and next month’s Evian Masters, it’s over-the-top good luck for women’s golf. Then it’s perfect timing. It's not only grand, it's a Grand Slam.


By JASON SOBEL

Poor Inbee Park. Just her luck: On the year when she claims the first three major titles, the LPGA added a fifth one. That’s like knocking out Mike Tyson in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, only to find out you’ve then gotta beat Muhammad Ali or someone like that.

It’s not Park’s fault, but rules are rules. The same executives who smack title sponsorships on major championships and make players compete in pro-ams before they start decided that the Champions Tour must have it right, since they followed suit by adding another major.

It was a bad decision in the first place, but now looks even worse, as debate will continue over whether the first four alone would give Park the Grand Slam title.

I say no. The term Grand Slam in baseball means four, but in golf it includes all major championships. The LPGA has five of ‘em now, so despite commissioner Mike Whan’s plea that Park will hold the Grand Slam with just the first four, he’s made this bed and now he’s got to lie in it. If you want to earn that title, you’ve got to win ‘em all.

Of course, there is a silver lining for Park. If she wins the first four, but fails to claim the Evian Masters, she’ll still hold four majors in one year. It won’t be a Grand Slam, but it’s still pretty damn good.

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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.