Remembering Ouimet: Why Vardon and Ray?

By Al TaysJune 5, 2013, 11:55 am

Harry Vardon was one-third of the Great Triumvirate of British professional golfers around the turn of the 20th century, but only the most ardent golf fans in the United States would likely be able to name the other two members, James Braid and J.H. Taylor.

"When we talk about the greatest players ever, of course we talk about Jones, Nelson, Nicklaus and now you put Tiger in there," said Golf Channel historian Martin Davis. "We tend to forget Vardon."


 Remembering Ouimet
Baggs: Who was Francis?
Baggs: Search for Ouimet
Tays: Anatomy of upset
Tays: Turning point in U.S.
Mosier: Eddie Lowery story
Timeline | Trivia | Bag | Photos
The Country Club
Vardon and the Titanic
Inspiring other writers
Full Coverage



The British were eager to recapture the U.S. Open trophy in 1913 after John J. McDermott had become the first American to win the title, in 1911, and successfully defended it in 1912. Those victories, coupled with the fact that Walter J. Travis, an Australian-born naturalized U.S. citizen, had in 1904 become the first American player to win the British Amateur, still peeved the British.

Writing in The American Golfer in January 1913, English golf writer Henry Leach looked down his nose at American golfers and golf courses. "I am sure that we are appreciably better than their best, and I believe we shall always be so because the Americans have to play the game under inferior conditions and such as hardly permit of their developing the finer shades of skill," Leach wrote. "The Americans play a rather plainer game than we do. The country may and probably will produce an occasional golfing phenomenon, and it may win our Championship again, but it will never be really superior to us at golf."

Why put most of their hopes in Vardon and Ted Ray and to a lesser extent, Wilfrid Reid? Were they really the best men for the job?

Harry Vardon, Ted Ray, James Braid and J.H. Taylor

(Harry Vardon, Ted Ray, James Braid, J.H. Taylor (Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

In 1913 Vardon had won one U.S. Open, in 1900, and five British Opens. But before his most recent British Open win, in 1911, he had not won one for eight years. He was also 43 years old and had spent quite some time way from the game while suffering from tuberculosis. The disease still made his hands twitch, and his putting suffered considerably.

Taylor, an Englishman, was a year younger than Vardon and had won five British Opens, his fifth, and last, coming in 1913. He had played in only one U.S. Open, finishing second to Vardon in 1900.

Braid, a Scot, was three months older than Vardon. In 1913 he had won one more British Open than Vardon, five to four, Braid's most recent having come in 1910.

So why Vardon for the U.S. tour and not either of the others? Taylor did play in the 1913 U.S. Open, finishing T-30, but he made the trip to America at his own expense. Braid never played in a U.S. Open.

"I'm not sure that Vardon was considered the 'premier' player in 1913," said British golf author/historian Dale Concannon. "I think both Braid and Taylor would have been considered over him – perhaps even Ray as the 1912 Open champion) – but Vardon was by far the best known to the wider golfing public."

Americans had become familiar with Vardon during his 1900 tour of the U.S., during which he had won his first and only U.S. Open, and during the time when he was recovering from tuberculosis and playing less than usual, Vardon increased his public profile by writing books, making appearances, etc.

"The problem with Braid," Concannon said, "was that he suffered from terrible travel sickness, which is why he never played abroad. Taylor was the most in-form player at the time – shown by his 1913 Open win, but was considered abrasive and 'uncommercial,' unlike Vardon.

"That's why Wilfrid Reid went on the trip. He was a well-mannered English golfer."

As for Ray, he was seven years younger than Vardon, also from the Isle of Jersey, and a popular player because of both his personality and his bomb-and-gouge style. He had won the Open Championship in 1912, but he had contended in several others, finishing in the top 10 seven times before 1913. He would go on to win the U. S. Open in 1920, becoming, at age 43, the oldest U.S. Open champion until Raymond Floyd, older by only a few months, won in 1986.

Ray also was a different character than the one portrayed in the Disney movie, says Concannon, calling his portrayal "a disgrace. He was a soft-spoken and intelligent golfer who Vardon trusted through his entire life."

In the end, Vardon and Ray were the best men for the job – they simply didn't get it done. They came up a single shot shy of winning back the trophy for Britain in regulation, and were decisively beaten in the playoff.

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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-

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Tiger Woods names his Mount Rushmore of golf

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 25, 2018, 6:29 pm
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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.