PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Jerry Kelly considers the British Open his favorite major championship of the year.
And he has no plans to play this year.
Kelly has been urging sponsors and fans to do everything they can to save the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee, his hometown tournament. U.S. Bank has said it would not renew as title sponsor this year at Milwaukee, which is held the same week as the British Open.
Then Kelly realized he wouldn’t be doing his part without playing.
“I had my British Open entry,” Kelly said, “and I got a sick feeling in my stomach and I’d miss Milwaukee and it would be the last one. And it better not to be the last one. How can I call out all these people without backing it up myself?”
Kelly has not played in Milwaukee the last two years because he was eligible for the British Open. In the meantime, he criticized Fred Funk and Kenny Perry in recent years for not playing the British when they were eligible.
European Tour member Alastair Forsyth criticized Kelly last week for skipping golf’s oldest championship.
Kelly wasn’t sure who Forsyth was, nor did he care what anyone thought.
“It’s all about Milwaukee. It’s all about securing a title sponsor for Milwaukee,” he said. “It’s what got me into golf.”
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THE PERFECT SPONSOR: Tim Herron did well to secure a corporate endorsement deal in these economic times. It runs through the 2010 season, and it’s significant enough that he wears the corporate logo on his chest.
Besides, few corporate deals are such a good fit.
Herron, affectionately known on tour as “Lumpy,” is wearing “M&Ms” on his chest. One can argue that given the right color shirt, Herron might actually look like an M&M (peanut variety).
“I think they knew I was their type,” he said with a laugh.
But he said this deal also comes with a charity component. He is working on an arrangement in which parent company Mars would match Herron’s contribution for every birdie he makes to “Target House” in Memphis, Tenn., which provides lodging for parents of sick children.
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SLUMPING SINGH: The first goal for the FedEx Cup champion is to qualify for the playoffs.
Vijay Singh is off to his worst start ever and is No. 132 in the FedEx Cup standings entering The Players Championship. When he missed the cut last week at the Quail Hollow Championship, it marked the 11th consecutive tournament that he failed to finish in the top 10, his longest drought since joining the PGA Tour in 1993.
In fact, the 46-year-old Fijian has finished in the top half of any field only once this year, when he made it to the second round of the Accenture Match Play Championship. He has missed four cuts in nine tournaments, and his best results in stroke play were a tie for 27th at Kapalua (against a field of 33 winners) and a tie for 30th at the Masters (where 50 players made the cut).
Singh injured his knee and had surgery to repair the meniscus after the season-opener in Hawaii, and there is some speculation that he tried to return too soon.
Whatever the case, the numbers are startling. In 24 rounds, he has shot in the 60s only twice, and he has made only one putt longer than 20 feet all year.
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TIGER’S PRO-AMS: Tiger Woods isn’t spending much time with amateurs this year.
His Wednesday round last week with Peyton Manning and Quail Hollow Club president Johnny Harris was only his second pro-am this year. There aren’t many more on his plate the remainder of the season.
There is no pro-am at the majors, the World Golf Championships or The Players Championship. The Memorial next month has done away with its pro-am in favor of a skins game involving only PGA Tour players.
The only pro-ams he likely will play the rest of the year are at his own tournament, the AT&T National, and two of the playoff events for the FedEx Cup.
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TEACHERS HALL: Former Masters champion Claude Harmon Sr. and longtime Texas teaching pro Harvey Penick were among eight people inducted Tuesday into the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame at the PGA Village in south Florida.
Harmon was the patriarch of arguably the most famous family of teachers in golf. His sons – Butch, Craig, Billy and the late Dick Harmon – all went on to become renowned teaching pros.
Penick’s long list of famous pupils included Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite.
The other inductees were: former PGA president Brian Whitcomb; former UCLA coach Eddie Merrins; former PGA rules committee member Don Essig III of Indianapolis; former PGA professionals of the year Jim Manthis of Coon Rapids, Minn., and Brent Krause of Montgomery, Ala.; and Harry “Cotton” Berrier of Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
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DIVOTS: Among the walking marshals for Tiger Woods’ nine-hole practice round was Jacksonville Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee. Asked if anyone recognized him, Scobee replied, “Not without my working clothes. Sometimes I’m not even recognized at home.” … Phil Mickelson, who typically plays his final practice round away from the TPC Sawgrass, is planning to play Wednesday with Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow. … Tiger Woods has finished in the top 20 the last 20 times on the PGA Tour dating to the 2007 Players Championship. It is the second-longest streak of his career.
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STAT OF THE WEEK: The Players Championship has five players who are No. 300 or lower in the world ranking – Brad Adamonis (300), Martin Laird (319), Eric Axley (384), Fred Funk (658) and D.A. Weibring (no ranking), who qualified by winning the Senior Players Championship.
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FINAL WORD: “If Tiger never existed, Phil would be Tiger. Phil’s got as much horsepower in his car; it’s just that the lug nuts aren’t always tightened down enough.” – NBC Sports analyst Johnny Miller.