A case for the PGA as the game's best major

By Jason SobelAugust 5, 2014, 1:50 pm

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – So, I happened to wander into the 19th hole at a local muni the other day, not far from Valhalla Golf Club, site of this week’s PGA Championship. And who do I run into but none other than an old buddy named Shanks McGee, who’s never met a 19th hole he didn’t like.

We shook hands and exchanged pleasantries – and by pleasantries, I mean Shanks hit me up for 20 bucks and I pleasantly declined. I then asked what brought him into town this week.

“Are you kidding me?” he bellowed, nearly tipping over his barstool as he stood to face me. “It’s the PGA Championship, man. Glory's Last Shot, as they used to call it. The best major championship of them all!”

I started to ask him if he’d had one too many, but decided that was a rhetorical question. Instead, bemused, I asked him to explain.

“Think about it,” Shanks implored, shaking a finger just inches from my face. “The Masters? That’s all so ooh-la-la, with their ‘patrons’ and their ‘second cut.’ Sure, it’s a great track, but you can’t even get on there unless you’ve got eight or nine zeroes in your bank account. Too fancy for my taste. I'd rather hang out with Daly down the street at Hooters.”

Maybe the blue-collar, democratic nature of the U.S. Open suited him better?

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“Oh, don’t get me started on that one,” he said while double-fisting two fresh cocktails. “It’s like the USGA doesn’t think golf is hard enough, so they make it ridiculous for four days. Like playing golf on the moon! I bet Mike Davis enjoys doing advanced trigonometry in his spare time, that twisted dude.”

Mentally taking a note to inquire about Davis’ math skills the next time I see him, I wondered aloud how he could disapprove of the Open Championship, but Shanks cut me off.

“Open Championship?” he growled. “What are you, one of them now? It’s called the British Open – and I’m sorry, but they might as well play Bingo to determine the winner of that old jug. I mean, half the guys wind up playing in a freakin’ monsoon, then the other half play in something that looks like Key West without the palm trees. I like my major champions decided by a little more than luck, thank you very much.”

Fine, I told him. You don’t like the first three majors. I get it. But what’s so great about this one?

He stared at me cockeyed, like Keegan Bradley eyeing a birdie putt.

Then he unleashed.

“Have you never heard the term, ‘Save the best for last?’” he roared at me. “Why do you think God or Arnold Palmer or whoever decided to put ‘em in this order in the first place? Because the best one is supposed to go last!”

He was on a roll now, spittle flying at me like a high school team firing shots at the range picker.

“Before DJ didn’t not get unsuspended or whatever, all 100 of the world’s top 100 players were in the field. The others can’t say that! And there are no amateurs taking up spots from the play-for-pay guys here. OK, maybe the 20 club pros won’t contend, but they still deserve to play. I’d like to see Tiger and Phil fold shirts and run the ladies’ nine-hole shamble for the other 51 weeks and see how they’d do.”

Shanks ordered two more drinks – both for himself – and put ’em on my tab.

“There’s more, too,” he grumbled. “You can say the U.S. Open is democratic, but more dreamers win the PGA. Rich Beem? Shaun Micheel? I mean, Y.E. Yang beat Tiger, for goodness sake. Bob May shoulda, too!”

I tried to explain that the last four champions – Jason Dufner, Rory McIlroy, Keegan Bradley and Martin Kaymer – are all world-class players, but he’d already moved on.

“And I love the Wanamaker! Now that there’s a trophy. Sounds like a good drink, too. Or the punchline to a dirty joke. Hey, you Wanamaker…”

I covered his mouth to keep from hearing the rest, knowing it would just get us thrown out. When I took my hand away, he kept on going.

“I was even reading this piece recently – yeah, I can read; don’t look so surprised – and they quoted Ian Poulter. I have it right here,” he barked as he grabbed a crumpled piece of paper from his back pocket. “Poulter said, ‘I don't care which major I win. Hell, give me the PGA Championship.’ What a compliment, huh?”

Again, I tried to correct him, pointing out that the comment was actually the opposite of a compliment, but he’d already turned his back to me, wobbly trying to practice his swing in front of a mirror behind the bar.

Instead, I changed the subject, asking how he’d played that day.

“Lemme tell ya,” he said, turning around to look me in the eye. “I had the round of my life. Shot even par. I couldn’t miss. And still, those lucky stiffs took every dime in my pocket.”

Um … which lucky stiffs?

Shanks gave me the cockeyed Keegan look again. “My brothers. There’s four of us. Those three always beat me in everything. They get more attention. More respect. People like being around ‘em more. They get invited to parties and have celebrations thrown in their honor. Me? It’s like I’m an afterthought. Always been that way, too.”

I gave him a pat on the chest, right across the PGA Championship logo on his shirt. All of a sudden, his favorite major championship made perfect sense.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.