Stories for June 2002
Saturday, June 29
I woke at 8 a.m. and whisked open the curtains of my room at Sunriver Resort. That’s when I saw her – the giant. Right outside my window, on the practice putting green, this tree-tall golfer was plunking putt after putt.
iger Woods this, Tiger Woods that. Even absent, he dominates conversation. In the pre-tournament days at the Canon Greater Hartford Open, it seemed only people sans larynx were not discussing the specter of one particular 26-year-old golfer. Post-U.S. Open buzz ran rampant. Grand Slam talk filled the air.
Thanks to Brian Quackenbush’s victory at the Northeast Amateur, the purists no longer are restless. Which wasn’t the case earlier this month.
What makes one of America’s more glorious regions so flat-out other-worldly is how everything comes together in Northern Michigan, particularly in the summer.
Fitness centers exclusively for women are nothing new. Karen Martin and Cori Schock, two Montana housewives, started a health club three years ago that focused on women. Soon they had a booming business and a direct link to golf.
Nearly 90 percent of all golfers don’t get the shoulder turn they need. One major reason is poor upper-body posture.
He and Jan Stephenson make up Razor Golf’s team of Open champs.
A fascinating annual side trip for golf aficionados planning to arrive early for the British Open is the auction of rare golf collectibles that coincides with the Championship.
Every now and again the Great American Celebrity Machine grinds its gears, pops its clutch, revs its engine and drag races off after yet another cultural abomination that exceeds all the existing speed limits of good taste.
One of my private adorations is that scene near the end of every PGA Tour broadcast where the sponsor’s CEO stares at the camera and says how happy his company, Engulf & Devour Amalgamated, is today to bring you this wonderful championship. “We are delighted,” they begin, invariably looking as simply delighted as suspects hauled before a police lineup.
As anyone who swings a 9-iron will attest, there is much to love about the game of golf. But it has a dark side, too, something I’ve found at courses and clubs across the land. Mankind is amazingly adept at messing up what is as pure and delightful a recreation as exists in this world.
He’s the architect who listens to no one, yet he has trained more disciples than anyone in the business. Pete Dye infuriates clients, at the same time winning their lifelong friendship.
It doesn’t take long to understand that Cape Cod has two very distinct personalities. You’ll find vast stretches of unspoiled beaches along the 70-mile spit of land in eastern Massachusetts, but the region also is thick with scrubby pines and oaks.
Georgia Tech’s men's coach Bruce Heppler won the Golfweek 2002 Division I Men’s Coach of the Year honor, while UAB’s Graeme McDowell captured the men’s Player of the Year honor after finishing the season No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
One did the talking on the course, the other did the talking to those who were on the course. In both cases, the intended audience got the message loud and clear. For their efforts, Arizona sophomore Lorena Ochoa and Duke coach Dan Brooks have been named Golfweek’s 2002 Division I Women’s Player of the Year and Coach of the Year, respectively.
With a fall deadline to announce the 2003 schedule fast approaching, the fate of the PGA Tour’s less prominent events is in serious question. A multitude of factors – ranging from unfavorable scheduling, weak fields and poor markets, exacerbated by a lingering recession – have made it extremely difficult for tournaments such as the Reno-Tahoe Open, Air Canada Championship and Buick Challenge at Callaway Gardens to land title sponsors and ensure survival.
FootJoy used the 2002 U.S. Open to launch three new lines of golf shoes, including the GelFusion, which features what company president Jim Connor described as “the most significant outsole breakthrough in 10 years.”
Maxfli’s marketing and administrative operations are moving to TaylorMade-Adidas Golf’s headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif. – a clear signal that TMAG is preparing to exercise its option to acquire the ball and club franchise.
For the past year or so, the news out of Spalding has been less about the products it sells and more about its financial ups and downs. But executives at the Chicopee, Mass., company that makes Strata, Top-Flite and Ben Hogan equipment believe that situation is about to change dramatically with the introduction of what they say is the best-performing golf ball in Spalding’s history – the Hogan Apex Tour.
Thanks to a late comeback, Karrie Webb is again a full-fledged member of the LPGA’s “Big Three.” Webb overcame a three-stroke deficit to Mi Hyun Kim in the final three holes at the Wegmans Rochester LPGA on June 18, earning her first victory of the year.
Miles Tunnicliff’s victory at the Great North Open would be newsworthy enough, even without the extenuating circumstances. After all, Tunnicliff, 33, has been on the Challenge Tour the past two years, and his first career European Tour victory June 23 gave him a two-year exemption.
Phil Mickelson had good reason to feel at ease standing over a 108-yard sand wedge shot on the 18th hole. The left-hander simply thought back to the seventh hole July 23 at the Greater Hartford Open, where three hours earlier he drew screams of “Tiger who?” by holing out for eagle from the same distance.
Annie Thurman said she wouldn’t dare compare herself with all the big-name players who have won U.S. Golf Association championships. But whether the 19-year-old is comfortable with it or not, Thurman’s name will be engraved on the sizable silver cup awarded for winning the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship.
When Brian Quackenbush took the lead at the midway point of the 41st Northeast Amateur, many felt his stay at the top would be short-lived.
The middle of Kansas is not exactly well-traveled, even among those searching for fine course architecture. Since seeing enchanting photographs of its par-4 eighth hole in Dan Jenkins’ “The Best 18 Holes in America,” I knew I had to make the journey. And now, having spent two days at Prairie Dunes, I can honestly say playing golf there is a transcendent experience.
When the best women golfers in the world tee it up July 4-7 at the U.S. Women’s Open, most eyes will be focused on the so-called Big Three of women’s golf: Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb and Se Ri Pak. After all, the trio has combined to win 58 titles and 11 majors since 1998.
Saturday, June 8
The Black Course – ranked No. 26 in Golfweek’s America’s Best Classical Course list – is the best-known of a five-course state facility that annually plays host to 280,000 rounds. It opened in 1936, designed by A.W. Tillinghast in conjunction with longtime park superintendent Joseph H. Burbeck. It quickly gained a reputation for being the toughest course on Long Island.
Tiger Woods has won six of the last 10 major championships, and because of that dominance, winning a Grand Slam tournament never has been so difficult for the rest of professional golf. He has been a one-man roadblock.
Zach Johnson is living the dream. No, the 26-year-old graduate of Drake (Iowa) University is not hot on the tail of Tiger Woods for the PGA Tour’s money title. Nor is he fending off sponsorship offers or being touted as a top player to watch at next week’s U.S. Open. In fact, Johnson won’t even be at Bethpage State Park.
On a late September morning atop an old, plushly grassed-in potato farm here in the British Midlands, two clear signs made one attentively aware the long day ahead at the 34th Ryder Cup would be nothing short of extraordinary.
Success has been an infrequent visitor to Gary Hallberg through five Buy.com Tour events, and a 10-shot deficit in the final round of the Northeast Pennsyl-vania Classic didn’t seem to be a welcome mat for victory.
Golf executives rarely agree on anything, but on one issue, there’s little dissent: Consolidation is coming. For Jim Connor, it’s already arrived.
With the introduction of the Hogan Apex Tour ball this summer, it was only a matter of time before Spalding redefined its Strata brand. The multilayer product was the equipment maker’s primary tour ball and also its lone entry in the premium market.
As you might expect from a good Scottish pub, there is a wide variety of Scotch whiskey on the shelves behind the bar at the Dunvegan Hotel. But on the top row, down the line from bottles in a section labeled “Very Fine,” the keen observer will note two small urns that share space with the single malts.
Justin Rose, a young Englishman with a worldful of expectations heaped his way four years ago, is in the process of formulating a season for British fans to remember.
These days, there’s Annika Sorenstam, and there’s the rest of the LPGA. And Sorenstam most definitely is winning.
If you’re thinking about taking a sip out of a freestanding container during a round, it could be hazardous to your health.
If Bob Bettinardi didn’t raise the bar, he certainly raised the price. When he started his little putter company, Bettinardi Golf, in 1999, his putters carried a suggested retail price of $275 to $325. Today his range is $275 to $500. Can the $1,000 putter be far behind?
Has it really been 37 years since Ken Venturi stood on the final green at Congressional Country Club outside the nation’s capital and dropped his putter in sheer exhaustion and jubilation after winning his first and only major, the 1964 U.S. Open?
If Johnny Miller wanted to witness a victory he could truly enjoy, he should have stayed on this side of the pond.
Loren Roberts was facing a pair of fellow 40-somethings just as hungry for a return to the winner’s circle. But instead of making late mistakes like Fred Couples and Fred Funk, Roberts started living up to his nickname.
Austin Eaton’s Cinderella coach finally was turned back into a pumpkin when he lost his quarterfinal match at this year’s U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.
For more than two decades, George Zahringer has been one of the leading amateur golfers in the Metropolitan Golf Association and the New York, New Jersey, Connecticut area.
The two U.S. Mid-Amateur Championships, one for men and the other for women, make up one of amateur golf’s great success stories.
On the Emerald Isle, Paul McGinley suddenly is a national hero. All because he had the good fortune to be in the right place at the right time.
European Ryder Cup victories have a habit of identifying unlikely heroes. Eamonn Darcy in 1987, Christy O’Connor Jr. in 1989, Philip Walton in 1995, Costantino Rocca in 1997. Add Phillip Price and Paul McGinley.
Sergio Garcia’s success at the 34th Ryder Cup surprised no one. The Spaniard went 3-1-1 in his Ryder Cup debut in Brookline, Mass., three years ago and was expected to lead the European team at The Belfry.
Not many people expected Sam Torrance to play Colin Montgomerie and Bernhard Langer, his two most serious campaigners, together again on Saturday morning. But then Torrance did a lot of things in this Ryder Cup that came straight out of left field.
Curtis Strange made good on his promise that everyone on the American side would see action Friday. The U.S. captain was paid back in kind during the afternoon foursomes when his team won two matches, fought back to halve another and trimmed the European lead to one point.
Europe took its first 3-1 Ryder Cup lead since 1971. In doing so, it improved its four-ball dominance over the United States to a 421⁄2-251⁄2 record since 1985.
Early-week tabloid fodder included Sam Torrance’s decision to play The Belfry’s 10th hole all the way back and Tiger Woods’ dawn-patrol practice round on Thursday.
Best thing you can say about the Americans’ performance on the final day of the Ryder Cup is this: They sure can play out of that left bunker at 18. Other than that, Europe did the blasting.
If you caught any of the advance stories on the Ryder Cup anywhere on TV in September, you would have heard such simmering rhetoric as to make you think the matches were nothing less than an opening salvo on Iraq.
Joe Louis Barrow Jr., executive director of The First Tee program, gained respect for Tour de France cyclists after the 16th annual PGA Tour MS 150 Bike Tour Sept. 21-22.
Martha Burk is convinced her campaign to get Augusta National to admit its first female is one step closer to fruition.
Recent history has had a sobering effect on the Ryder Cup Matches. In 1999, belligerent crowd behavior at Brookline, Mass., convinced Ryder Cup organizers that they needed to rethink policies on alcohol sales.
Scottsdale’s unofficial moratorium on new course projects has been lifted for at least two proposed developments, thanks to a soon-to-be-built privately funded water pipeline that will feed the courses.
A few years ago, Doug Buffington had reason to smile. The widespread belief among golf experts then was that the game’s growth would be fueled by women.
As the debate over hot clubs continues, Wilson Golf is set to introduce the newest member of its Deep Red line, an oversized driver that boasts a 425cc head and conforms to current U.S. Golf Association limits for COR (coefficient of restitution).
And the newest growth segment in the golf industry is – envelope please – golf-test machines.
Matt Anderson once skipped his calculus class at Edina (Minn.) High School to watch the 1999 NCAA Division I Men’s Championship at Hazeltine National Golf Club in nearby Chaska. He dreamed of the day he could play in the event as a Golden Gopher.
What the Yellow Jackets program lacked was an NCAA Division I Championship medalist. Not any more. Georgia Tech junior Troy Matteson took care of that June 1 when he shot a final-round, 4-under 67 at Ohio State’s Scarlet Course.
The layout the Open was being contested on was the same place they had been playing for years, the Black Course at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, N.Y.
Hundreds of courses want to play host to the U.S. Open. All are required to send letters of invitation to the U.S. Golf Association.
Once upon a time, private clubs dominated the American golf landscape. Golf was viewed suspiciously as a game for rich, white males. Deservedly so.
The scene is an Italian restaurant in Munich, Germany. It’s late August 1999, two years before Retief Goosen would take the golf world by storm by winning the U.S. Open at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla.