2000 In Review

By Mercer BaggsDecember 15, 2000, 5:00 pm
Majors, milestones and memories. Dial M for the 2000 Senior PGA Tour.
 
Okay, so the 2000 Senior season lacked the suspense of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, but there were plenty of highlights, and no one provided more than Larry Nelson.
 
In his third full season on the 50-and-over circuit, Nelson more than doubled his career victory count. The now-53-year-old won six times this year, good enough for Player of the Year honors and the 2000 money title.
 
Nelson credited a dietary change to his late-season surge, which included four wins and a runner-up finish in a five-start stretch, beginning in late August.
 
In addition to his six victories, Nelson recorded seven second-place finishes and 23 top-10s in 30 starts. He also earned over $2.7 million.
 
Nelson was one of only two players in 2000 to win in successive weeks. The other? Jim Thorpe. Playing in his sophomore season, Thorpe recorded his first career Senior victory at The Transamerica. The following week, he won the Gold Rush Classic.
 
Coincidentally, Thorpe's back-to-back wins came right after Nelson had accomplished the same feat. Nelson won the Bank One Senior Championship and the Vantage Championship in the two weeks prior to Thorpe's Transamerica triumph.
 
Thorpe's first victory broke a 68-start winless drought on the Senior Tour, the same number snapped by Ed Dougherty in 2000.
 
Two-and-a-half years and 68 starts without a win, Dougherty finally stepped into the winner's circle at the Coldwell Banker Burnet Classic. Dougherty joined Thorpe as one of five first-time winners in 2000. The other three were Tom Kite, Lanny Wadkins and Doug Tewell - all of whom were Senior rookies.
 
Speaking of Kite, Tewell and Wadkins, they, along with Tom Watson, were supposed to provide an influx of excitement on the Senior circuit in 2000. Wadkins' year was a bust. After winning in his first start at the ACE Group Classic, the 21-time PGA Tour winner failed to post another Senior victory over his final 22 starts. In fact, he recorded but one other top-10 the remainder of the season.
 
Likewise, Watson only won once this year (IR Tour Championship); though he did collect four runner-up finishes in 13 starts.
 
On the other hand, Tewell and Kite were multiple winners in 2000. Both won a major championship - Tewell at the PGA Seniors' Championship and Kite at the Countrywide Tradition. Kite added the SBC Senior Open to his victory total, while Tewell picked up the hardware at the SBC Championship and the Novell Utah Showdown. Tewell was also voted 2000 Rookie of the Year.
 
There were eight multiple winners in 2000. Aside from the aforementioned, there were Bruce Fleisher (4), Hale Irwin (4), Gil Morgan (3) and Hubert Green (2).
 
Green won both of his events in dramatic fashion, shooting 62 in the final round to win the Audi Senior Classic, and then firing 64 in the final round to capture the Kroger Senior Classic.
 
Irwin's four victories moved him to the top of the All-time Senior Tour wins list. With 29 career titles, Irwin is now tied with Lee Trevino, who won the 2000 Cadillac NFL Golf Classic.
 
Winning at the age of 60, Trevino proved age is just a state of mind. Others proved it could be a number on your scorecard. Gary Player, Miller Barber and Arnold Palmer all shot their age or lower in 2000.
 
Player and Barber did it on the same day. Player shot his age, 64, in the first round of the BellSouth Senior Classic, while the 69-year-old Barber carded a 68. Barber also recorded a quartet of 69s on the season.
 
Palmer shot 69 in the second round of the FleetBoston Classic, two weeks shy of his 71st birthday. He also posted a 70 in the final round of the Utah Showdown.
 
Aside from individual rounds, Palmer also reached a collective milestone in 2000, playing in his 1000th career PGA/Senior Tour event; he did so at the Instinet Classic in July.
 
The King wasn't the only man to reach 1000 in 2000, Dave Eichelberger played in his millennial event at the BellSouth Senior Classic, less than two months before Palmer.
 
Eichelberger and Palmer joined Barber and Gay Brewer as the only men to reach the 1000-event plateau.
 
Dana Quigley has a long way to go before he reaches that magical number, though he's on record pace to get there. For the third straight season, Quigley played in every official event. Quigley now enters the 2001 campaign having played in 129 consecutive events in which he's been eligible for, and 113 overall.
 
Perhaps the biggest accomplishment by any and all over the age of 50 was what they did at the major tournaments - on the PGA Tour.
 
Beginning at the Masters, Jack Nicklaus and Tommy Aaron made the cut. Nicklaus playing the weekend at Augusta National is really no surprise, but Aaron? The guy's 63 years old! Aaron, who won the Masters in 1973, finished higher than fellow Masters champions Jose Maria Olazabal, Mark O'Meara, Craig Stadler, Sandy Lyle, Ben Crenshaw and Fuzzy Zoeller. He also bested Lee Janzen and Lee Westwood, to boot.
 
Four Seniors made the cut at the U.S. Open. Irwin and Watson tied for 27th. Kite tied for 32nd. Eichelberger tied for 57th.
 
Watson also made the cut at the British Open. The five-time Open champion tied for 55th. Christy O'Connor (T60) and Kite (T70) also played all four rounds at St. Andrews.
 
At the PGA Championship, only two Seniors qualified for weekend play. However, both made the most of their extended stay. Watson tied for ninth, while Kite tied for 19th. The two men played in the same group together on Sunday - three hours later than Colin Montgomerie! Watson shot 65-68 on the weekend. Kite shot all four rounds at par of better.
 
Next year's rookie crop on the Senior Tour includes, among others, Bruce Lietzke, Mark McCumber and Q-School medallist Bob Gilder. Gilder will be eligible for the season's first full-field event. However, Lietzke and McCumber will have to wait until July and September, respectively, before they officially turn 50.
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Norman to pose in ESPN's 'Body Issue'

By Grill Room TeamJune 19, 2018, 2:05 pm

Professional golfers have, from time to time, appeared in ESPN's "Body Issue," which features athletes strategically posed in the nude. The list includes: Belen Mozo, Carly Booth, Gary Player, Camilo Villegas, Sandra Gal, Christina Kim, Anna Grzebien, Suzann Pettersen and Sadena Parks.

And now, Greg Norman.

Modesty has never been an issue for Norman, who has an affinity for posing without a shirt (and sometimes without pants) on his Instagram account.

He joins a list of athletes, in this year's edition, ranging from professional wrestlers (Charlotte Flair) to Olympians (Adam Rippon) to WNBA stars (Sue Bird). Click here for a full list of the athletes to appear.

 

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DJ listed as betting favorite for The Open

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 2:00 pm

With the U.S. Open officially in the books, oddsmakers quickly turned their attention to the season's third major.

Minutes after Brooks Koepka holed the winning putt to successfully defend his title at Shinnecock Hills, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook published its first set of odds for The Open. Jordan Spieth, who opened at 14/1, will defend his title as the tournament shifts to Carnoustie in Scotland for the first time since 2007, when Padraig Harrington defeated Sergio Garcia in a playoff.

Joining Spieth at 14/1 is 2014 Open champion Rory McIlroy, but they're both listed behind world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Johnson, who was a runner-up at the 2011 Open at Royal St. George's and just finished third at the U.S. Open, opened as a 12/1 betting favorite. Koepka, now a two-time major winner, is listed at 20/1 alongside U.S. Open runner-up Tommy Fleetwood.

Here's a look at the first edition of odds, with The Open just five weeks away:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

14/1: Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy

16/1: Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas

20/1: Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama

40/1: Phil Mickelson, Branden Grace, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Marc Leishman

50/1: Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Tyrrell Hatton

60/1: Matt Kuchar, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter, Francesco Molinari, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick

80/1: Tony Finau, Zach Johnson, Thomas Pieters, Daniel Berger, Xander Schauffele, Bubba Watson, Shane Lowry

100/1: Charl Schwartzel, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker

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Golf Channel, Loch Lomond Partner on Claret Jug Tour Ahead of 147TH Open

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJune 18, 2018, 9:35 pm

Award-Winning Independent Scotcb Whisky Sponsoring Tour to Select U.S. Cities; Will Include Special Tastings and Opportunities for Fans to Engage with Golf’s Most Storied Trophy

Golf Channel and Loch Lomond Group are partnering on a promotional tour with the Claret Jug – golf’s most iconic trophy, first awarded in 1873 to the winner of The Open – to select U.S. cities in advance of the 147TH Open at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland. Loch Lomond Whisky’s sponsorship of the tour further enhances the brand’s existing five-year partnership with the R&A as the official spirit of The Open, initially announced in February.

“We are proud to partner with Golf Channel to support this tour of golf’s most iconic trophy,” said Colin Matthews, CEO of Loch Lomond Group. “Whisky and golf are two of Scotland’s greatest gifts to the world, and following the news of our recent partnership with the R&A for The Open, being a part of the Claret Jug tour was a perfect fit for Loch Lomond Group to further showcase our commitment to the game.”

“The Loch Lomond Group could not be a more natural fit to sponsor the Claret Jug tour,” said Tom Knapp, senior vice president of golf sponsorship, NBC Sports Group. “Much like the storied history that accompanies the Claret Jug, Loch Lomond’s Scottish roots trace back centuries ago, and their aspirations to align with golf’s most celebrated traditions will resonate with a broad range of consumers in addition to golf fans and whisky enthusiasts.”

The tour kicks off today in Austin, Texas, and will culminate on Wednesday, July 11 at the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe one week prior to The Open. Those wishing to engage with the Claret Jug will have an opportunity at one of several tour stops being staged at Topgolf locations in select cities. The tour will feature a custom, authentic Scottish pub where consumers (of age) can sample Loch Lomond’s portfolio of whiskies in the spirit of golf’s original championship and the Claret Jug. The Claret Jug also will make special pop-up visits to select GolfNow course partners located within some of the designated tour markets.

(All Times Local)

Monday, June 18                    Austin, Texas              (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m.)

Tuesday, June 19                    Houston                      (Topgolf, 5-8 p.m.)

Wednesday, June 20               Jacksonville, Fla.        (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

Monday, June 25                    Orlando, Fla.               (Topgolf, 6-9 p.m.)

Wednesday, July 4                 Washington D.C.        (Topgolf, 5:30-8:30 p.m. – Ashburn, Va.)

Monday, July 9                       Edison, N.J.                (Topgolf, Time TBA)

Wednesday, July 11               Lake Tahoe, Nev.       American Century Championship (On Course)

Fans interacting with the Claret Jug and Loch Lomond during the course of the tour are encouraged to share their experience using the hashtag, #ClaretJug on social media, and tag @TheOpen and @LochLomondMalts on Twitter and Instagram.

NBC Sports Group is the exclusive U.S. television home of the 147TH Open from Carnoustie, with nearly 50 live hours of tournament coverage, Thursday-Sunday, July 19-22. The Claret Jug is presented each July to the winner of The Open, with the winner also being given the title of “Champion Golfer of the Year” until the following year’s event is staged. The Claret Jug is one of the most storied trophies in all of sports; first presented to the 1873 winner of The Open, Tom Kidd. Each year, the winner’s name is engraved on to the trophy, forever etched into the history of golf’s original championship. It is customary for the Champion Golfer of the Year to drink a favorite alcoholic beverage from the Claret Jug in celebration of the victory.

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USGA-player relationship at a breaking point?

By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 8:00 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – For seven days each year, the American game’s preeminent governing body welcomes the best players in the world with open arms. They set up shop at one of the premier courses in the country, and line it with grandstands and white hospitality tents as far as the eye can see.

The players arrive, first at a slow trickle and then at a steady pace. And once they’ve registered and clipped their player medallions over their belts, they’re told how this year is going to be different.

How this time around, be it in a Washington gravel pit or on a time-tested piece of land on the tip of Long Island, the USGA will not repeat the mistakes of the past. That the process of identifying the best players in the world will not veer into the territory of embarrassing them.

Like a college sweetheart in search of reconciliation, the powers-that-be preach a changed attitude and a more even-handed approach. Then, inevitably, they commit the same cardinal sins they promised to avoid.

So year in and year out, the scar tissue builds. Charlie Brown keeps trying to kick the football and, for most of the players not named Brooks Koepka, he ends up on his butt in a cloud of dust and fescue.



After letting Shinnecock Hills plunge into avoidable yet all-too-familiar territory over the weekend – before being doused back to life – one thing is clear: in the eyes of many players, the USGA can’t be trusted.

“When are they going to get it right? I just feel like they disrespect these historic golf courses,” said Scott Piercy, a runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open who got swept away this week during a crispy third round en route to a T-45 finish. “I think they disrespect the players, I think they disrespect the game of golf. And they’re supposed to be, like, the top body in the game of golf. And they disrespect it, every aspect of it.”

Piercy, like several players in this week’s field, had a few specific gripes about how Shinnecock was set up, especially during the third round when USGA CEO Mike Davis admitted his organization lost control in a display that echoed the mistakes of 2004. But this was not an isolated case.

Players went with skepticism to Chambers Bay three years ago, only to encounter greens that were largely dirt and got compared to produce. Mismatched grass strains, they were told. Whoops.

The next year the USGA threw a dark cloud over a classic venue by allowing much of the final round at Oakmont to play without knowing the leader’s actual score as a rules fiasco reached a furious boil. Last year’s Erin Hills experiment was met with malaise.

At this point, the schism runs much deeper than a single error in setup. It threatens the core competency of the organization in the eyes of several of the players it looks to serve.

“They do what they want, and they don’t do it very well. As far as I’m concerned, there is no relationship (between players and the USGA),” said Marc Leishman. “They try and do it. They do it on purpose. They say they want to test us mentally, and they do that by doing dumb stuff.”



By and large, players who took issue with the USGA’s tactics had a simple solution: put more of the setup choices in the hands of those who oversee PGA Tour and European Tour venues on a regular basis. While some of those personnel already moonlight in USGA sweater-vests for the week, there is a strong sentiment that their collective knowledge could be more heavily relied upon.

“I know (the USGA) takes great pride in doing all this stuff they do to these golf courses, but they see it once a year,” Brandt Snedeker said. “Let those guys say, ‘Hey, we see this every week. We know what the edge is. We know where it is.’ We can’t be out there playing silly golf.”

That’s not to say that a major should masquerade as the Travelers Championship. But the U.S. Open is the only one of the four that struggles to keep setup shortfalls from becoming a dominant storyline.

It all adds up to a largely adversarial relationship, one that continues to fray after this weekend’s dramatics and which isn’t helped by the USGA’s insistence that they should rarely shoulder the blame.

“They’re not going to listen, for one. Mike Davis thinks he’s got all the answers, that’s No. 2,” said Pat Perez after a T-36 finish. “And when he is wrong, there’s no apologies. It’s just, ‘Yeah, you know, we kind of let it get out of hand.’ Well, no kidding. Look at the scores. That’s the problem. It’s so preventable. You don’t have to let it get to that point.”



But this wound festers from more than just slick greens and thick rough. There is a perception among some players that the USGA gets overly zealous in crafting complicated rules with complex decisions, a collection of amateur golfers doling out the fine print that lords over the professional game on a weekly basis – with the curious handling of whatever Phil Mickelson did on the 13th green Saturday serving as just the latest example.

The gripes over setup each year at the USGA’s biggest event, when it’s perceived that same group swoops in to take the reins for a single week before heading for the hills, simply serve as icing on the cake. And there was plenty of icing this week after players were implored to trust that the miscues of 2004 would not be repeated.

“To say that the players and the USGA have had a close relationship would be a false statement,” Snedeker said. “They keep saying all the right things, and they’re trying to do all the right things, I think. But it’s just not coming through when it matters.”

It’s worth noting that the USGA has made efforts recently to ramp up its communication with the top pros. Officials from the organization have regularly attended the Tour’s player meetings in recent months, and Snedeker believes that some strides have been made.

So, too, does Zach Johnson, who was one of the first to come out after the third round and declare that the USGA had once again lost the golf course.

“I think they’ve really started to over the last few years, last couple years in particular, tried to increase veins of communication,” Johnson said. “When you’re talking about a week that is held in the highest regards, I’m assuming within the organization and certainly within my peer group as one of the four majors and my nation’s major, communication is paramount.”



But the exact size of the credibility gap the USGA has to bridge with some top pros remains unclear. It’s likely not a sting that one good week of tournament setup can assuage, even going to one of the more straightforward options in the rotation next year at Pebble Beach.

After all, Snedeker was quick to recall that players struggled mightily to hit the par-3 17th green back in 2010, with eventual champ Graeme McDowell calling the hole “borderline unfair” ahead of the third round.

“It’s one of the greatest holes in world golf, but I don’t really know how I can hit the back left portion of the green,” McDowell said at the time. “It’s nearly impossible.”

Surely this time next year, Davis will explain how the USGA has expanded its arsenal in the last decade, and that subsequent changes to the 17th green structure will make it more playable. His organization will then push the course to the brink, like a climber who insists on scaling Mount Everest without oxygen, and they’ll tell 156 players that this time, finally, the desired balance between difficult and fair has been achieved.

Whether they’ll be believed remains to be seen.