2014 Newsmaker No. 5: Ted Bishop

By Rex HoggardDecember 16, 2014, 1:15 pm

From the outset, Ted Bishop was going to be a different type of president.

Call it trail blazing. Call it going rogue. However you view the only PGA of America president in 98 years to be ousted from office, he was true to his DNA until the bitter end.

Because from the outset, the dichotomy of Ted was there for all the golf world to see.

Just weeks into the job, Bishop discarded both baby and bathwater when he named then-63-year-old Tom Watson the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, breaking numerous molds with a rare repeat performance from an aging leader. That he failed to notify either David Toms or Larry Nelson, among the other potential candidates for the ’14 gig, was just as telling.

“If they had made a decision a little earlier and let me know, if they had just called us and said, ‘We’re going another direction,’ I’d have been fine. I’m fine anyway,” Nelson said in December 2012.

“The way it’s come down and to have someone say that they did contact me when they didn’t, that didn’t make sense.”

Bishop would contact Nelson, as well as Toms, but not until the damage was done. It would become Bishop’s signature move - bold decisions followed by easily avoidable miscues.

So it was that with a familiar modus operandi that Bishop penned a 101-character tweet in response to Ian Poulter’s criticism of Nick Faldo in his new book “No Limits.”

“Faldo’s record stands by itself. Six majors and all-time [Ryder Cup] points. Yours vs. His? Lil Girl,” Bishop tweeted on Oct. 23.

It was the final blow for the Indiana golf course operator who once again found himself guilty of the wrong execution of the right idea.

Within 24 hours, Bishop was removed from office with less then a month remaining in his two-year term. It was a surreal ending to perhaps the most eventful presidency in the association’s history.

2014 Newsmakers: 6. Wie7. Reed8. R&A9. Bubba | 10. DJ | Honorable mentions

Along the way Bishop proved equally adept at creating enemies and allies alike.

Among the former you can count Peter Dawson, the R&A’s chief executive who squared off with Bishop during last year’s anchoring debate.

According to various reports, during one particularly heated exchange Dawson questioned Bishop’s decision to oppose the ban, telling the PGA president it was not his association’s responsibility to grow the game in America. In response, Bishop publically challenged the R&A’s male-only membership policy, which was discarded this year in an overwhelming vote.

As for the latter, a portion of Bishop’s legacy should note that relations between the PGA of America and PGA Tour have never been closer, a reality that was hammered home during the association’s annual meeting, when Tour commissioner Tim Finchem made an appearance in Indianapolis while executives from the game’s other association’s - the LPGA and USGA - sent taped video messages.

Bishop will be remembered as the PGA’s first, and likely last, activist president, leading the charge against the anchoring ban, sending the PGA Championship to bold new venues (2020 Harding Park) and even suggesting the association’s major could someday be played overseas.

Bishop was also the first, and likely last, PGA president to fully embrace social media, becoming the association’s de facto front-man, a move that he conceded alienated him from some of his internal support.

“One of the things I have been criticized for privately in PGA circles is my propensity to being with the media,” Bishop told your scribe in November. “Since Day 1 with the anchoring situation, because of (CEO) Pete Bevacqua’s former relationship with the U.S. Golf Association, I took the lead. Right out of the box, now the president of the PGA is the most visible spokesperson and that sort of set the stage for the role that I played.”

It also set the stage for the surreal turn of events that cost him his job and a permanent spot at the decision-making table as a past president.

Things began to unravel on Sunday at the Ryder Cup when the press and some players, most notably Phil Mickelson, began to criticize Watson’s captaincy and, by default, Bishop’s leadership. Before the American team boarded the charter flight home the battle lines had already been drawn.

“Tom gave his heart and soul to the Ryder Cup for two years, so when he got attacked in my mind it was standing up for a friend and someone who was serving a similar role as me,” Bishop said.

Less then a month later, Bishop was attending a junior event hosted by Faldo in West Virginia when Poulter’s criticism became public. Bishop crafted his infamous tweet while waiting for a ride a dinner and told GolfChannel.com in November he has regretted it every day since.

In a strange way, Bishop’s presidency had come full circle from those early days in 2012 when he mishandled the captain’s announcement, a high-minded concept that would land horribly off the mark.

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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.