Blalock pleads her case with new WGHOF criteria

By Randall MellMarch 26, 2014, 1:45 pm

Sometimes Jane Blalock is introduced at functions and clinics as an LPGA Hall of Famer.

It’s awkward for her, because she isn’t.

“You just sort of let it go,” Blalock told

It’s that name, Blalock. A lot of people hear that name and instantly associate it with women’s golf, with winning golf, with dominant golf. She did, after all, win 24 times in the '70s. She was Rookie of the Year, once made a staggering 299 cuts in a row and won the very first Dinah Shore, before it was designated as a major championship.

A lot of people just assume she’s an LPGA Hall of Famer.

Other people, those who followed the women’s game closely in the '70s, hear that name and think of something else. They think of the accusations that Blalock took liberties marking her ball on greens, claims that she improved her lies around spike marks in the '72 season. They think of the player petition that got her suspended that year. They think of her lawsuit, the temporary injunction that allowed her to keep playing and then the justice system’s ultimate ruling that the LPGA was in violation of antitrust. They think of the confusing, unresolved nature of the entire controversy and how it changed the women’s game. The tour hired its first commissioner in its wake.

Golf’s power brokers will likely be thinking a lot about Blalock again and evaluating what she really meant to the game.

At 68 now, Blalock will tell you that she wishes she were an LPGA Hall of Famer. She will tell you, not intending to be immodest, that she is proud of her career and believes it is worthy of the Hall of Fame.

With Sunday’s news that the World Golf Hall of Fame is creating new criteria for the induction of women, Blalock moves up in any line of players waiting to be enshrined there.

“It would be dishonest not to say it would be the ultimate honor,” says Blalock, now a successful business woman in Boston who runs her own sports management company, JBC Golf.

Does she deserve to be a Hall of Famer? It’s a question the World Golf Hall of Fame is sure to ask with new relevance.

“Yes,” Blalock said. “I’ve looked in the mirror and asked myself that question.

“Did I dominate for a period of time? Yes. Did I have a great impact on the game? Yes. I had great support, great galleries. I won a lot of tournaments. If I look at whether I’ve accomplished things that are significant, the answer’s yes.”

This is a place Blalock has been before, though.

To qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame back when Blalock retired in 1985, a woman had to have won 30 tour titles with two of them being major championships, or 35 tour titles with one being a major, or 40 tour titles without a major.

Blalock retired with 27 tour titles – 29 if you count team events – none of them majors.

In 1999, the LPGA changed its Hall of Fame criteria to a points system that still stands today. A player needs 27 points to be inducted in the Hall of Fame but must also have won a major championship or Rolex Player of the Year Award or Vare Trophy. A player gets one point for a tour title, two points for a major championship, one point for Rolex Player of the Year and one point for the Vare Trophy.

Blalock had the 27 points required, but she didn’t have the major or POY Award or Vare Trophy.

Still, with that new points system, the LPGA also set up a Veterans Committee to examine the worthiness of important players like Blalock, who didn’t meet all the criteria.

The LPGA Hall of Fame’s Veteran's Committee inducted Judy Rankin and Donna Caponi.

Blalock isn’t sure if the committee will ever admit her.

“I have no idea,” she said. “Would that be a wonderful thing? Absolutely, but I can’t dwell on it, or worry about it, because I think it would distract me from the other good things I’m trying to do.”

Blalock’s relationship with the tour is healthy and active. She’s the CEO of the Legends Tour, the women’s version of the Champions Tour. She also runs the LPGA Golf Clinics for Women. Back when the Masters filed suit against the LPGA for starting the “Women’s Masters,” the LPGA asked Blalock to testify for the tour, and she did.

But all these years later, hard feelings toward her still linger, Blalock knows.

“I’m sure there are a few that would not support my going into the Hall of Fame,” Blalock said. “I’m sure there are those, the old guard, that still hold a grudge, for all the wrong reasons, from 40 years ago. There’s ignorance about what happened. I say that in people not knowing the truth. It’s a sad situation, but it’s reality.”

Blalock denies the accusations against her almost 42 years after they were made.

“I filed suit immediately because they were wrong,” she says. “It was a very unpleasant time. It was erroneous. It was like a kangaroo court. The stories about it got bigger and bigger. There was nothing ever to really back up the accusation.”

There’s no denying Blalock made a major impact on the game. It’s why so many people think she’s a Hall of Famer. The ultimate measure of her career, however, is arriving at a new doorstep, before a new panel that will evaluate whether she’s a Hall of Famer.

“I couldn’t have played any harder or any better,” Blalock said. “I look in the mirror and feel really good about my career and everything I gave to it and the difference I made in the game.”

The World Golf Hall of Fame will have to look for itself now.

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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

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

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”