Whistling Straits Hot Commodity in Golfing World

By Associated PressJanuary 25, 2005, 5:00 pm
For those who like to plan ahead, and we're not talking about putting snow tires on the car in August, the 2020 Ryder Cup will be played at Whistling Straits in the new golfing mecca of Wisconsin.

That's the same year Phil Mickelson is eligible for the Champions Tour.

'It is a long time out,' PGA of America president Roger Warren conceded. 'The last one we had, previous to that, would have been 2016.'

04 PGA ChampionshipMaybe the PGA should take its cue from the Olympics.

The IOC will meet later this year to select a site for the 2012 Olympics, giving the lucky city only seven years to prepare for the biggest spectacle in sports, played out over three weeks at three dozen venues involving thousands of athletes from more than 100 countries.

The Ryder Cup is 12 Europeans and 12 Americans playing golf for three days.

Alas, it wasn't just the Ryder Cup at the center of this scheduling insanity.

The PGA of America also announced that Whistling Straits would get the PGA Championship in 2010 and 2015, the quickest turnaround for golf's fourth major since it waited only four years to return to storied Valhalla.

But the issues run much deeper.

The most compelling competition in golf last week wasn't Tiger Woods against Tom Lehman in a sloppy duel in the fog at Torrey Pines. It was the PGA Championship against the U.S. Open -- one of them stopping at nothing to make Whistling Straits part of its landscape, the other not losing any sleep over it.

Some history on the course, and the competition for it:
Whistling Straits is the dream of Herb Kohler and the creation of Pete Dye. It is a spectacular, links-styled course stretching over 7,500 yards with more than 1,400 bunkers and sensational, limitless views of Lake Michigan.

It opened to rave reviews, and quickly courted the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

The PGA Championship already was booked for the next 10 years, but so what? PGA officials simply took the '04 tournament away from Valhalla and awarded it to Whistling Straits. There wasn't much outcry because the PGA of America owns Valhalla, and no one thinks much of Valhalla as a major championship course, anyway.

Whistling Straits indeed proved to be worth the fuss last year.

There were more than 300,000 spectators, only a dozen or so ankle injuries from walking the cliffside course, and a three-way playoff won by Vijay Singh.

It was so successful that the USGA became interested again.

With the U.S. Senior Open scheduled for Whistling Straits in 2007, the USGA was leaning toward taking the U.S. Open there in 2012. But the blue coats dragged their feet. They postponed the decision at a November meeting until the USGA annual meeting next month.

And that was all the time the PGA needed to swoop in.

First came the announcement that the 2010 PGA would not be played at Sahalee -- it had been on the schedule since 2000, by the way -- because it would conflict with the Winter Olympics behind held in Vancouver.

Sorry, but aren't the Winter Olympics held in the winter?

And if this is about having enough corporate money to go around, remember that the Olympics were awarded to British Columbia two years ago. Did the PGA of America just now figure that out?

'The consensus of everyone involved was that it would be very difficult to compete with the Olympics when you talk about corporate support,' Warren said. 'The decision to compete with the Olympics is not something we wanted.'

That didn't seem to hurt the 1980 PGA Championship at Oak Hill, only 280 miles away from Lake Placid.

Maybe that's because it was an era when the focus was on golf, not money.

And it's interesting that the PGA doesn't want to compete for corporate money with the Olympics. It sure didn't mind taking away from the women when it picked Hazeltine in Minnesota for the 2002 PGA Championship -- after the LPGA Tour had already announced the Solheim Cup would be played a month later at nearby Interlachen.

One can only suspect the PGA carried a win-at-all-cost attitude when it gave the shaft to Sahalee, a pretty, tree-lined course outside Seattle in an area starved for championship golf.

'We want to bring back a PGA event to Sahalee,' Warren said.

The PGA Championship has vacancies from 2012-14, and it's surprising the PGA of America didn't just pick one of those years -- unless it had some other PGA event in mind, like the Club Pro Championship.

Meantime, USGA executive director David Fay said he spoke to Kohler and Jim Awtrey, the outgoing CEO of the PGA, and offered them his sincere congratulations for their trifecta.

'I commend the PGA for identifying Whistling Straits early, taking the bold step of taking the PGA there last year and buttoning it up,' Fay said Tuesday. 'Once they got what seems to be a winner -- clearly, it's a winner in the eyes of the players, press and public -- it was a good move on their part.'

The USGA will move on with no shortage of great courses available.

Then again, the U.S. Open doesn't need a golf course to establish its identity.
Related links:
  • Whistling Straits Course Tour
  • Photo Gallery
    Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

    By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

    MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. He was 88.

    Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

    Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

    The first Australian to win The Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

    On the American senior circuit he won nine times in 1985.

    Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

    He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

    In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

    Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

    Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

    Getty Images

    Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas A&M

    By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

    In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

    Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

    This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

    Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

    Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

    The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

    Getty Images

    Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

    By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

    Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

    Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

    “Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

    Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

    “There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

    Getty Images

    Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

    By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

    Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

    Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

    Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

    “Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

    Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

    “Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

    Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.