Wester Receives Babe Zaharias Award
Wester, better known as Big Al to his fans and colleagues, will receive the award at the Golf Writers Association of America annual awards dinner, April 9, at the Masters in Augusta, Ga.
Al Wester is a legend in radio, said LPGA commissioner Ty M. Votaw. His deep baritone voice has been illuminating radio waves for more than 50 years, and fans of the LPGA have been benefiting from his knowledgeable and insightful coverage for decades. He was a natural choice for the Babe Zaharias LPGA Journalism Award and joins what is becoming a distinguished list of recipients who embody the very best their respective fields have to offer.
Westers talent and diverse sports knowledge have allowed him to broadcast some of the most important sporting events of the past five decades, and golf has been an integral part of this history. In 1983, Wester founded the U.S. Championship Golf Network (USCGN), one of the largest radio golf networks whose broadcasts are heard over Westwoods Mutual and NBC Radio Networks. For years, USCGN has been solely devoted to producing network radio programming from tournament venues of the top professional golf events.
Wester has covered more than 330,000 rounds of professional golf in the United States and abroad. Many of those rounds have come at LPGA Tour stops, including The Solheim Cup, which Wester has covered since the events inception in 1990. He has also been a long-time supporter of the Safeway PING Presented by Yoplait in Phoenix, Ariz., which Wester has covered from his radio booth in the media center for 15 years.
He is a familiar sight at the LPGA majors as well, going back to his first U.S. Womens Open at Salem Country Club where, fittingly, Babe Zaharias was crowned champion.
That was my first womens tournament, and I was amazed at the athletic ability of Babe from the moment I saw her, said Wester. So, it is truly a great thrill for me to receive an award that was named after The Babe. I am both humbled by and delighted in receiving it. Ive received a number of awards in my career, and this is another instance of being honored to be in the company of such fine people'not only the awards namesake, but also past recipients like Jim Murray and Dick Taylor. I deem it one of the great honors of a broadcast career.
In addition to golf, Wester has made a name for himself in many other sports, namely college football and professional baseball, basketball and football. He spent 16 seasons, two of which were national championship seasons, as an icon in the broadcast booth of Notre Dame football games.
One highlight of years broadcasting NFL games was Westers play-by-play of the 1970 game between the New Orleans Saints and Detroit Lions. Westers call of Tom Dempseys record 63-yard field goal that won the game is permanently installed and played daily in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Other highlights from the last half-century of sports include play-by-play coverage of numerous World Series, Super Bowls, NFL Monday Night Football, the Indianapolis 500, Kentucky Derby, Olympic Games and 16 Muhammad Ali championship fights.
The Babe Zaharias Journalism Award was created in 2000 under the direction of Votaw and is presented annually to both a print and electronic journalist. The 2002 award for print journalism will be announced at a later date. In conjunction with the award, the LPGA will donate $2,500 in each of the recipients names to the Golf Writers Association of America scholarship fund. Jim Murray, Los Angeles Times (posthumously), and Bob Rosburg, ABC Sports, were the first recipients of the Babe Zaharias LPGA Journalism Award in 2000, followed by Dick Taylor (posthumously), and Jack Whitaker, ABC, in 2001.
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?
McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever
With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.
The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.
Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.
"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."
McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.
But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.
"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."
What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire
Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.
Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft
Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft
Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft
Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts
Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x