Chicago deserves a regular PGA Tour stop

By Rex HoggardSeptember 11, 2013, 5:12 pm

The City of the Big Shoulders has given us big-time sports icons like Wrigley Field, the Monsters of the Midway, Michaels Jordan and Ditka and now, Conway Farms, about an hour up the Skokie Highway from downtown in the cozy enclave of Lake Forest.

If that sounds a bit harsh know that the dig isn’t directed at either the Tom Fazio design or the North Side faithful. By all accounts, the site of this week’s BMW Championship is a fine country club course.

“It’s great in the fact it’s a golf club,” said Luke Donald, a member at Conway Farms and the de facto host of this week’s BMW. “There’s no carts, no tennis courts. It’s all walking. It’s a great membership, a lot of low single-figure handicaps. People are very passionate about their golf here.”

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Good for Donald, a transplanted Chicagoan via Hemel Hempstead, England, for taking an active role in his community and with the PGA Tour, whom he lobbied to bring the penultimate playoff stop to Conway Farms. But with apologies to the former world No. 1, his statement sounded more like a membership drive campaign than a Tour endorsement.

While “no carts” and “great membership” may work in some towns, in Chicago – arguably the nation’s best golf city – it leaves one feeling as if something has been left on the table.

Following a largely successful two-decade run at Cog Hill, the BMW went on the road in 2008 (Bellerive in St. Louis, Mo.) and again in 2011(Crooked Stick in Carmel, Ind.). Since those road shows, it seems the Second City has become second class when it comes to Tour golf.

Next year’s BMW Championship heads west to Cherry Hills in Denver – which, as a logistical aside, will be quite a haul for players coming from the Monday finish at the Deutsche Bank Championship – furthering a disturbing trend.

How is it possible that the nation’s third-largest market has become a part-time Tour player? Steve Stricker plays more than that.

If the Tour and the Western Golf Association, which runs the BMW, are married to the event’s vagabond existence, may we suggest the circuit not stray too far away from the 312 area code.

A town that enjoys an embarrassment of classic golf riches – from Chicago GC to Medinah to Olympia Fields – seems to have become mired in a mediocre lineup of “fine” golf courses and misplaced motivations.

Like The Barclays, the playoff opener, the BMW should rotate, but only within the confines of Chicago-land, nothing else makes sense.

And just to show that Chicago’s relative irrelevance when it comes to high-profile golf is not limited to the Tour’s short-sightedness, consider that the U.S. Open bolted Olympia Fields in 2003 and has never looked back. And no, Wisconsin’s Erin Hills – site of the 2017 Open – is not greater Chicago.

Only the PGA of America, which held last year’s Ryder Cup at Medinah, seems inclined to keep Chicago in the major championship rotation.

Maybe Olympia Fields isn’t the U.S. Golf Association’s cup of coffee and Butler National’s membership policies are too archaic for the folks in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., but considering the scope and scale how does that leave the Windy City persona non grata on the golf calendar?

Rees Jones’ redesign of Cog Hill 2009 dropped the Dubsdread layout out of favor with many a Tour frat brother.

“I thought I was pretty done here. It worked out. I get rewarded with a trip to Cog Hill,” Geoff Ogilvy dryly opined at the 2011 Deutsche Bank Championship after earning a trip to the BMW.

But that’s no reason to settle for something safe (Conway Farms) or to relegate Chicago to a supporting role on the Tour landscape. There are too many classic golf courses, too many passionate fans – these are, after all, the same folks who flock to Wrigley more than a century removed from the Cubs’ last World Series victory – to over react in such a way.

Every Tour stop has a charitable story to tell, but the BMW’s beneficiary is particularly rooted in golf. The WGA supports the Evans Scholars Foundation, which currently includes 840 caddie scholars and 14 scholarship houses at universities across the Midwest.

More importantly, the foundation has more than 9,800 alumni. If you’ve spent any time in the golf business you’ve met someone whose life has been profoundly impacted by the Evans program.

What the WGA does, primarily through the BMW, is a true feel-good story, which is why the event deserves better. The Evans Foundation deserves better. Chicago deserves better.

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Garwood (64) leads Dick's Sporting Goods Open

By Associated PressAugust 17, 2018, 9:53 pm

ENDICOTT, N.Y. - Doug Garwood birdied the final three holes for an 8-under 64 and the first-round lead Friday in the Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

The 55-year-old Garwood had nine birdies and a bogey, playing his final nine holes - the front nine at En-Joie Golf Club - in 6-under 31.

''Drove it well, hit the irons well, pitched well, putted well, thought well,'' Garwood said. ''I got to a point I was just making birdies and I kind of lost track of how it was going,'' Garwood said. ''That's always a good thing.''

He won the 2016 SAS Championship for his lone PGA Tour Champions title.

Full-field scores from the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open

"I haven't been playing great this year, but I've been working hard on my game and things I've been working on are paying off,'' Garwood said. ''My golf, I take it a shot at a time, don't think about too far in advance because you really can't control, you know, the 13th hole tomorrow. It's just about the tee shot on No. 1.''

Michael Bradley and Marco Dawson shot 65, Woody Austin and Clark Dennis followed at 66, and Bob Estes and Tom Gillis were at 67.

''It was a good day,'' Bradley said. ''I've traditionally not driven the ball well here and you've got to drive the ball good here to shoot a good score. I drove the ball well and made a few putts, so that was that.''

Kenny Perry, the 3M Championship winner two weeks ago in Minnesota, had a 68. Bernard Langer and Miguel Angel Jimenez each shot 70. Langer won the 2014 tournament. Jimenez is coming off a victory at St. Andrews in the British Senior Open.

Defending champion Scott McCarron had a 72. Kevin Sutherland also had a 72. He shot the only 59 in PGA Tour Champions history in the 2014 event. John Daly, the winner of the PGA Tour's 1992 B.C. Open at En-Joie, opened with a 73.

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Kaymer: Don't deserve Ryder Cup spot even with win

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2018, 9:50 pm

Martin Kaymer is one of the most decorated Europeans of this generation, and one of the most thoughtfully honest as well, as he is demonstrating yet again at this week’s Nordea Masters.

Kaymer, a two-time major championship winner, has helped the Euros win three of the last four Ryder Cups. He won the singles match that clinched Europe’s historic comeback win at Medinah in 2012.

But with his run into contention Friday in Sweden, Kaymer told Sky Sports TV he didn’t believe that even a victory would make him worthy of playing for captain Thomas Bjorn’s Ryder Cup team in Paris next month.

“Do you think I deserve to be on the game after the way I've been playing, and with just one win in Sweden?” he said. “Is that enough? I don't think so.”

Kaymer shot a 3-under 67 at the Nordea Masters, leaving him tied for seventh, five shots off the lead and in position to make a run at his 12th European Tour title. He is hoping to capitalize on the opportunity in a season that has left him unsatisfied. He missed three of his previous four cuts coming to Sweden and has just two top-10 finishes this year.

Kaymer made some thoughtful observations about the nature of golf’s challenges in the same week that LPGA star Lexi Thompson opened up about a personal struggle to build a life about more than golf.

At 33, Kaymer said he feels as if he’s still just beginning to understand the game’s effect on him. Here is what he shared with reporters about that on the eve of the Nordea Masters:

“I'm on the seventh hole, hopefully. You need some time to get to know and place yourself in the world of golf.

Full-field scores from the Nordea Masters

“In the beginning you can't know, you have zero experience. Then you play around the world and measure your game with the best in the world. Then you see good results and in my case underestimate yourself a little.

“All of a sudden you win a major. You play a vital role in Ryder Cups. You win your second major. Then you need to adjust, because it's sometimes overwhelming and not understandable. It cannot only be talent, you need to ask yourself how you actually got here.

“That realization took me a long time. That's why I would say I'm on the seventh hole, maybe seventh green.

“It's just understanding who you are, what you do, what kind of life you live. For example, when you try to have a relationship with anyone -- it doesn't matter what kind of relationship -- people see you not for who you are as a person but as the athlete, what you have, what kind of success you had.

“I never understood that, because I don't want to be treated that way, but I also understood by now that is who I am, because I am that athlete. I am the guy who makes a lot of money.

“I never wanted to be seen that way, because I was raised different, and I wanted to be normal. But you are not normal when you do what I did. It took me a long time to understand, but now I can handle it better.”

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S.H. Park eyes Indy title, LPGA awards after 'best round of year'

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2018, 9:20 pm

Sung Hyun Park’s hot finish Friday gives her more than a chance to win the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

It gives her a chance to keep Ariya Jutanugarn from running away with the LPGA’s most important awards and honors heading into the final third of the season.

Park’s 9-under 63 left her tied for the lead with Lizette Salas (69) at 13 under overall in the rain-suspended second round at Brickyard Crossing Golf Course in Indianapolis.

“My best round of the year,” Park said through a translator.

Jutanugarn, the Rolex world No. 1, put up a 65 and sits four behind the leaders.

Park is No. 4 in the world rankings and feeling good about her weekend chances.

“I’m going to do really well,” she said. “I feel really good about my game.”

Jutanugarn has won an LPGA best three times this season, including the U.S. Women’s Open. She is dominating, statistically. She leads the tour in money winnings ($2,161,185), Rolex Player of the Year points, scoring average (69.44), putts per greens in regulation (1.72) and birdies (327).

Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

Park is looking to equal Jutanugarn’s victory total for the season. Park won the Volunteers of America Texas Classic and also a major this year, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

Park could overtake Jutanugarn as Rolex world No. 1 with a victory, depending on what Jutanugarn does this weekend.

Park shared Rolex Player of the Year honors with So Yeon Ryu last season, with Jutanugarn winning the award the year before.

Notably, Jutanugarn is giving her driver a rare appearance this week, putting it in her bag in both the first and second rounds at the friendly confines of Brickyard Crossing.

“I like the way [the holes] set up, because I’m ab le to hit driver a few holes,” Jutanugarn said. “I missed some, but I hit a few pretty good ones, too.”

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Podcast: Welcome our guest - Tiger Tracker

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 17, 2018, 7:47 pm

Host Will Gray calls him “The man, the myth, the legend.”

GCTiger Tracker, aka “TT,” makes his highly anticipated first guest appearance in a Golf Channel podcast, pontificating on everything from Tiger Woods’ run at the PGA Championship at Bellerive to the overall nature of Tiger’s comeback and what breakthroughs may lie ahead.

Tiger Tracker, Golf Channel’s mystery man, continues to rigorously protect his identity as the foremost Twitter tracker of all things Tiger, but he does open up on his intense relationship with his growing legion of followers and his “trigger finger” when it comes to blocking those unworthy of his insight.

“I’m more of a lover than a hater of Tiger Woods, but I’m a tracker,” TT tells Gray. “I call it like I see it.”

Tracker goes deep on what he sees as his role in continuing to document Tiger’s comeback, including a sense of kinship in this journey.

“I had 142,000 followers on the Monday of the Bahamas [late last year], and as we speak now, 296,000, more than double in that short span,” Tracker says. “That shows you what he’s been able to do, what we’ve been able to do together. Let’s be honest about that.”

Listen in below: