Whaley's ascension began before Bishop's ouster

By Rex HoggardNovember 26, 2014, 3:32 pm

It took just 30 seconds to make history last Saturday in Indianapolis. Or maybe it was 98 years in the making. It’s often difficult to track paradigm shifts.

Some will contend Suzy Whaley’s historic bid began the moment ousted PGA of America president Ted Bishop pressed the “send” button Oct. 23 on his smartphone.

From those watching from 30,000 feet, Bishop’s gender-insensitive tweet – in which he referred to Ian Poulter as a “Lil Girl” – sent the PGA reeling and on a path offering the least resistance.

Of course Whaley would win Saturday’s election for secretary and become the PGA’s first female officer. The alternative would have been another media maelstrom, right?

In the hurried moments following Bishop’s social media miscue, Whaley was one of the few female voices in the game to speak out against the embattled president.

“For me to hear comments that are derogatory about young girls, or insulting, just because you are a girl, is offensive,” she said.

Three days later Whaley seemed to soften her stance on Bishop the man, if not his social media misstep.

“I worked with [Bishop] for three years; he has two daughters; he has a great family; he’s worked hard to make golf 'inclusive,'” Whaley said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that Ted is not sexist.”

In a convoluted way, Whaley’s reaction to Bishop’s actions cost her, at least initially, in her bid to make history. But for those who see Saturday’s vote as a politically expedient way out of a media mess, know that Whaley’s path to the secretary’s post began long ago.

Those who considered Saturday’s vote a fait accompli ignore nearly two years of intense campaigning and what amounted to a commanding lead heading into last week’s annual meeting.

Long before gender became a headline for the PGA, Whaley was on the road to history. She was largely considered the frontrunner before Oct. 23 and her election was as dominant as it was decisive.

Whaley collected 52 percent of the 114 votes and became the first secretary elected on a first ballot with at least three candidates in PGA history.

To dismiss Whaley’s election as an abdication to the urgency of now is a disservice to the candidate and the collective.

“Our theme for this week was driving the game forward and certainly we are looking to be inclusive to all of those who want to play the game,” Whaley said. “As we move forward, I hope we show that and I hope I can be a part of that.”

In his nominating speech for Whaley, Gary Reynolds acknowledged the unspoken undertones of the week and urged voters to, “rise above the fray and return the best candidate and the best person to be the secretary of the PGA.”

Even Bishop, who did not attend last week’s annual meeting, stressed that his legacy - whatever it may be - not impact the PGA's future. “I hope this is decided like all other elections with the best candidate and not by all the external forces,” he said.

It’s not as though Whaley is blind to the gender issues facing the organization. Just four percent of the association’s members are female and if the litany of grow-the-game initiatives are going to be successful, they must start with what some perceive as a gender gap.

“It’s an enormous opportunity,” Whaley said. “If more women see that we have females in our association and if you have more women at golf facilities, people like to be around people that look like them. We want people to know golf is for everyone.”

While Whaley’s election was historic, it was anything but hasty. Although it took just 30 seconds for the assembled delegates to tab the Connecticut club professional as the PGA’s next president-in-waiting, the die for Saturday’s vote was cast long before the association found itself awash in unwanted press.

Beyond how long it took the PGA to come to its gender crossroads is what type of mandate Saturday’s vote sent across the association, if not all of golf.

The buzzwords for last week’s annual meeting were “moving forward.” It was a theme that was set in motion long before Bishop’s tweet, long before Whaley the candidate became Whaley the secretary.

“Electing Suzy today is a big move forward,” said Paul Levy, who preceded Whaley as secretary and ascended to the vice president’s office on Saturday.

Whether it took 30 seconds or 98 years, there was no denying the association is certainly bound for new ground.

Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.