The PGA Championship - Through the Generations

By David Marr IiiAugust 6, 2002, 4:00 pm
Amateur golf overshadowed professional golf throughout much of the 20th century. Amateurs were educated, gentrified men who didnt need to earn a living by sweating. They made money the really old fashioned way - they inherited it.
 
On the other hand, golf professionals gave lessons during the warm weather, and did yard work during the harsh months. Very few made a living through competition. Most had to have a number of jobs to make ends meet. Bobby Jones epitomized the amateur golfer during the first part of the century. My grandfather epitomized the post-depression golf professional.
 
Times were hard. With a wife and four children, Dave Marr, Sr., worked countless jobs when the golf season slowed down in Beaumont and Houston. My grandmother made beds at a Howard Johnsons, and the kids caddied to help out.
 
Actually, that would be my father. His brothers and sister were too young. Hed contribute a portion of the loose change he could scare up carrying bags bigger than he was. He would also get a chance to work on his game around the caddy yard.
 
At age 14, he lost his father. Now the family was in real trouble. Dad could make decent money caddying, but his mother was now working two jobs, and the two younger kids had to move away and live with relatives. The burden was almost too much for Grace Marr to bear, but she had no choice.
 
Dad went to college at 16 and played golf at Rice Institute (now Rice University) and the University of Houston for one year each. The financial strain was too much. He left to follow his fathers footsteps and become a PGA professional. With his card he could find a job that would pay enough to help the family make ends meet.
 
By the time he got a head professional position, his game had matured significantly and he was an accomplished competitor. Back at the club he was still prohibited from joining members in the bar for a post-round drink. Some of that golf pro/yard man prejudice carried over well into the '50s and '60s, and dad carried bitterness about that treatment longer than he should have.
 
Around this time, competitive professional golf was becoming a bigger business. Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen were Jones professional counterparts in the 1920s. The '40s and '50s saw Hogan, Nelson and Snead focus the limelight on the men who made a living in the game, yet most still needed a club pro job to make sure bills got paid.
 
That all seemed to change as my father was trying to decide which career path to choose. A dashing Pennsylvanian was taking the game by storm, a man whose father was also a PGA professional. Arnold Palmer and my dad became fast friends.
 
In those days, the PGA Championship was equally as important to the players as the British Open Championship or the U.S. Open and probably more significant than the Masters, which was only about 20 years old. It was their championship. It was their fathers championship. It was a championship that belonged to all the men who taught and safeguarded the game, the men who sustained the club while being barred from the clubhouse.
 
As Palmer, and then Nicklaus, brought the game to new heights, club professionals and touring professionals had different needs within the same organization. The PGA of America created the Tournament Players Division, which ultimately split off and became the PGA Tour. Touring pros kept their PGA of America status for a variety of reasons, but ultimately the two bodies drifted apart. The PGA Tour created and promoted its own championship, The Players Championship. What the tournament lacked in tradition it made up for in opulence and spending.
 
Nowadays, a segment of the golf community rates the PGA Championship fourth among majors. Too many club pros, unspectacular venues and similar complaints are the refrain. While there might be some validity, I prefer to embrace the club pros. They pass the fundamentals of the game along to the next generation while keeping it enjoyable for us as well. Whose knowledge of the game, and its rules and etiquette hasnt been touched by a PGA professional?
 
I like looking at that huge loving cup trophy with all the great names etched on it. How proud must my father have been to have put his on his fathers trophy! Names are also noticeable by their absence. Its the only major in which Bobby Jones never competed. I watched through the '70s as an aging Arnold Palmer tried to complete the career slam at so many PGAs. How frustrated must he have been that he was unable to claim his fathers trophy. A PGA Championship will always be the singular hole in Arnolds and Byron Nelsons resumes.
 
The PGA also marks the winding down of the golf season. Its the last major of the year. Tour pros will soon trade in dreams of making history for lighthearted and lucrative competition during the 'silly season.' Kids will soon trade lighthearted competition for their history studies. Theyll swap their clubs for notebooks and backpacks. The PGA pros will again oversee this championship then, after their pupils head back to class, theyll get continue with the business of being modern day professionals. No yard work in the winter months, just seminars and conventions, preparing the shop for spring.
 
The PGA Championship has evolved, and so has the PGA professional.
Getty Images

U.S. captures Junior Ryder Cup

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 26, 2018, 12:29 am

The U.S. defeated Europe, 12 ½ to 11 ½, in the Junior Ryder Cup at Golf Disneyland at Disneyland Paris.

Rachel Heck, 16, of Memphis, Tenn., clinched the winning half-point on the 18th hole with a 12-foot birdie putt that halved her match with Annabell Fuller, 16, of England.

"It was the most incredible experience of my life," said Heck, a Stanford commit who last week made the cut in her second LPGA major, the Evian Masters.

Michael Thorbjornsen, 16, of Wellesley, Mass., the 2018 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, drove the green on the 315-yard 18th hole, the ball stopping within 5 feet of the pin. His eagle putt completed 2-up win over 15-year-old Spaniard David Puig and ensured that the U.S. would retain the Junior Ryder Cup, as the defending champion needs only a tie (12 points) to maintain possession of the trophy.

Singles results

Match 1 - Lucy Li (USA) def. Amanda Linner (EUR), 4 and 3

Match 2 — Rasmus Hojgaard (EUR) def. William Moll (USA), 1 up

Match 3 —  Ingrid Lindblad (EUR) halved Rose Zhang (USA)

Match 4 – Nicolai Hojgaard (USA) def. Canon Claycomb (USA), 4 and 2

Match 5 — Yealimi Noh (USA) def. Emma Spitz (EUR), 3 and 2

Match 6 —  Ricky Castillo (USA) def. Eduard Rousaud Sabate (EUR), 3 and 1

Match 7 – Emilie Alba-Paltrinieri (EUR) def. Erica Shepherd (USA), 2 up

Match 8 — Michael Thorbjornsen (USA) def. David Puig (EUR), 2 up

Match 9 – Alessia Nobilio (EUR) def. Alexa Pano (USA), 2 and 1

Match 10 —  Robin Tiger Williams (EUR) def. Cole Ponich (USA), 2 and 1

Match 11 – Annabell Fuller (EUR) halved Rachel Heck (USA)

Match 12 — Conor Gough (EUR) def. Akshay Bhatia (USA), 1 up

 

TOUR Championship Final Round Becomes Most-Watched FedExCup Playoffs Telecast Ever and Most-Watched PGA TOUR Telecast of 2018

By Golf Channel Public RelationsSeptember 25, 2018, 6:48 pm

ORLANDO, Fla., (Sept. 25, 2018) – NBC Sports Group’s final round coverage of the TOUR Championship on Sunday (3:00-6:19 p.m. ET) garnered a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 7.8 million average viewers, as Tiger Woods claimed his 80th career victory, and his first in five years. The telecast’s TAD was up 212% vs. 2017 (2.5m). Television viewership posted 7.18 million average viewers, up 192% YOY (2.46m) and a 4.45 U.S. household rating, up 178% vs. 2017 (1.60). It also becomes the most-watched telecast in the history of the FedExCup Playoffs (2007-2018) and the most-watched PGA TOUR telecast in 2018 (excludes majors).

Coverage peaked from 5:45-6 p.m. ET with 10.84 million average viewers as Woods finished his TOUR Championship-winning round and Justin Rose sealed his season-long victory as the FedExCup champion. The peak viewership number trails only the Masters (16.84m) and PGA Championship (12.39m) in 2018. The extended coverage window (1:30-6:19 p.m. ET) drew 5.89 million average viewers and a 3.69 U.S. household rating to become the most-watched and highest-rated TOUR Championship telecast on record (1991-2018).

Sunday’s final round saw 18.4 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms (+561% year-over-year), and becomes NBC Sports’ most-streamed Sunday round (excluding majors) on record (2013-’18).

Sunday’s lead-in coverage on Golf Channel (11:54 a.m.-1:25 p.m. ET) also garnered a Total Audience Delivery of 829K average viewers and posted a .56 U.S. household rating, becoming the most-watched and highest rated lead-in telecast of the TOUR Championship ever (2007-2018). Golf Channel was the No. 2 Sports Network during this window and No. 7 out of all Nielsen-rated cable networks during that span.

 This week, NBC Sports Group will offer weeklong coverage of the biennial Ryder Cup from Le Golf National outside of Paris. Live From the Ryder Cup continues all week on Golf Channel, surrounding nearly 30 hours of NBC Sports’ Emmy-nominated live event coverage, spanning from Friday morning’s opening tee shot just after 2 a.m. ET through the clinching point on Sunday. The United States will look to retain the Ryder Cup after defeating Europe in 2016 (17-11), and aim to win for the first time on European soil in 25 years, since 1993.

 

-NBC Sports Group-

Getty Images

Tiger Woods names his Mount Rushmore of golf

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 25, 2018, 6:29 pm
Getty Images

Mickelson savoring his (likely) last road game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 25, 2018, 3:49 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Phil Mickelson lingered behind as his foursome made its way to the ninth tee during Tuesday’s practice round.

He needed the extra practice, no doubt. He’s one of just six players on the U.S. Ryder Cup team with even a modicum of knowledge about Le Golf National, but the likely reason for Lefty’s leisurely tempo was more personal.

The 2019 Ryder Cup will likely be Mickelson’s last road game as a player.

He’ll be 52 when the U.S. team pegs it up at the 2022 matches in Rome. Although there’s been players who have participated in the biennial event into their golden years – most notably Raymond Floyd who was 51 when he played the ’93 matches – given Mickelson’s play in recent years and the influx of younger players the odds are against him.

“I am aware this is most likely the last one on European soil and my last opportunity to be part of a team that would be victorious here, and that would mean a lot to me personally,” Mickelson said on Tuesday.

It’s understandable that Mickelson would want to linger a little longer in the spotlight of golf’s most intense event.

For the first time in his Ryder Cup career Mickelson needed to be a captain's pick, and he didn’t exactly roar into Paris, finishing 30th out of 30 players at last week’s Tour Championship. He’s also four months removed from his last top-10 finish on the PGA Tour.


Ryder Cup: Articles, photos and videos


Although he’s reluctant to admit it for Mickelson Le Golf National looks every bit a swansong for the most accomplished U.S. Ryder Cup player of his generation.

In 11 starts at the Ryder Cup, Mickelson has a 26-16-13 record. Perhaps more telling is his 7-3-1 mark since 2012 and he holds the U.S. record for most matches played (45) and is third on the all-time list for most points won (21.5), just two shy of the record held by Billy Casper.

Mickelson’s record will always be defined by what he’s done at the Masters and not done at the U.S. Open, but his status as an anchor for two generations of American teams may never be matched.

For this U.S. team - which is trying to win a road Ryder Cup for the first time since 1993 - Lefty is wearing many hats.

“You know Phil and you know he's always trying to find a way to poke fun, trying to mess with someone,” Furyk said. “He's telling a story. Sometimes you're not sure if they are true or not. Sometimes there's little bits of pieces in each of those, but he provides some humor, provides some levity.”

But there is another side to Mickelson’s appeal in the team room. Although he’s never held the title of vice captain he’s served as a de facto member of the management for some time.

“At the right times, he understands when a team needs a kick in the butt or they need an arm around their shoulder, and he's been good in that atmosphere,” Furyk said. “He's a good speaker and good motivator, and he's been able to take some young players under his wing at times and really get a lot out of them from a partner standpoint.”

In recent years Mickelson has become something of a mentor for young players, first at the ’08 matches with Anthony Kim and again in ’12 with Keegan Bradley.

His role as a team leader in the twilight of his career can’t be overstated and will undoubtedly continue this week if Tuesday’s practice groupings are any indication, with Lefty playing with rookie Bryson DeChambeau.

As DeChambeau was finishing his press conference on Tuesday he was asked about the dynamic in the U.S. team room.

“We're going to try and do our absolute best to get the cup back,” he said.

“Keep the cup,” Lefty shouted from the back of the room, noting that the U.S. won the last Ryder Cup.

It was so Mickelson not to miss a teaching moment or a chance to send a subtle jab delivered with a wry smile.

Mickelson will also be remembered for his role in what has turned out to be an American Ryder Cup resurgence.

“Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best,” Mickelson said in the Scottish gloom at the ’14 matches. “Nobody here was in any decision.”

If Mickelson doesn’t step to the microphone in ’14 at Gleneagles in the wake of another U.S. loss and, honestly, break some china there probably wouldn’t have been a task force. Davis Love III likely wouldn’t have gotten a second turn as captain in ’16 and the U.S. is probably still mired in a victory drought.

Lefty’s Ryder Cup career is far from over. The early line is that he’ll take his turn as captain in 2024 at Bethpage Black – the People’s Champion riding in to become the People’s Captain.

Before he moves on to a new role, however, he’ll savor this week and an opportunity to win his first road game. If he wants to hang back and relish the moment so be it.