Hall Pass for the Press

By John FeinsteinMarch 9, 2011, 1:52 am

As sad as Frank Chirkinian’s death was this past week, there’s no doubting that he lived an amazing life. His contributions to golf and to television have been chronicled in detail over the last few days. Suffice to say he got just about everything one can get out of 84 years.

Except he didn’t get to be there when the World Golf Hall of Fame finally got around to inducting him. That ceremony will take place on May 9 since Chirkinian was voted in with the Class of 2011.

Why did it take so long? Here’s the answer: The Hall of Fame doesn’t pay nearly enough attention or give nearly enough credit to members of the media who have played a major role in building the sport. While the Hall has gone out of its way in recent years to induct international players (Jumbo Ozaki, really?) and always bends over backward for anyone famous who has played any role in golf – Dwight D. Eisenhower, George H.W. Bush, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Dinah Shore – it is almost impossible for media members to earn the respect from the Hall that many of them, like Chirkinian, richly deserve.

Dan Jenkins
Acclaimed golf writer Dan Jenkins. (Getty Images)

Herbert Warren Wind is in the Hall of Fame. So is Alistair MacKenzie. That’s the list unless you count players who did TV – Gene Sarazen, Jimmy Demaret, Byron Nelson – as media members. It isn’t likely they are in there for their work with a microphone even though Sarazen was wonderful at it, just as he was at anything he attempted.

Dan Jenkins is not in the World Golf Hall of Fame. Are you serious? Jenkins is to writing about golf what Jack Nicklaus was to playing golf. There’s never been anybody better and, if you trace his contributions to the game through his writing, you can’t possibly make the claim that he doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame.

Jenkins isn’t the only one – although his absence is the most glaring. The late Jim Murray made golf writing an art form in the Los Angeles Times for decades. Murray was so good and so respected that when Curtis Strange was the No. 1 player in the world and looked up and saw Murray following his group one day at the Bob Hope he positively glowed.

“Jim Murray out there watching ME,” he said. “It was one of my great thrills.”

Strange got it – how come the Hall of Fame doesn’t get it?

What about Dave Kindred, who has written so well on the sport for various publications for going on 50 years now or Dave Anderson who was good enough to win a Pulitzer Prize – almost unheard of for sportswriters – while with the New York Times but he’s not good enough to share a Hall of Fame with Jumbo Ozaki?

This isn’t to pick on Ozaki but he was best known for wearing the most expensive clothes in golf history; for leading majors after nine holes and, as ABC once noted in a graphic, “winning 48 titles worldwide – 47 in Japan.” There are other players with credentials that aren’t truly Hall of Fame worthy who are in the Hall, but that’s not the point.

There are plenty of others who come to mind who have made the golf world a better place by writing eloquently. With apologies to others not mentioned these names comes to mind: Leonard Shapiro of the Washington Post; Art Spander of the San Francisco Examiner; Larry Dorman of the New York Times; John Hopkins of the Times of London. What about Dave Marr who made the conversion from player (and a pretty good one, he won a PGA Championship) to TV announcer better than anyone in history? Remember it was Marr who called the Senior Tour, “life’s ultimate mulligan.” For that line alone he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

It should not have taken this long for Chirkinian to be voted in. It’s sad that he won’t be there. It is a CRIME that Jenkins and Murray and others aren’t already there. Other Halls of Fame routinely honor at least one member of the media every year. Heck, call the inductee the winner of the Herbert Warren Wind Award rather than just lumping them with other contributors.

Whatever George H.W. Bush has done for golf it is entirely different than what Chirkinian or Jenkins have done for golf. Make that distinction.

There are lots of golf fans who think the media is a nuisance, that those of us who write about and talk about golf are lucky to be where we are and should kiss the rings of all those who play the sport superbly. We are all lucky, there’s no doubt about that. But there are also a handful who have made major contributions to the game and to the enjoyment of those who love it. They deserve recognition.

Something should be done now. If nothing else Chirkinian’s death prior to his induction should get people’s attention. The Hall of Fame waited too long to honor him. It would be nice if they recognized that mistake and began to honor some of his brethren while they are still here to enjoy that moment.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

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.

Getty Images

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.