5/22/2013 3:33:00 PM
Editor's note: Each week, Megan Padua, a teaching professional at Maidstone Club (East Hampton, N.Y.) and Belfair Plantation (Bluffton, S.C.), and one of Golf Digest's Best Young Teachers, offers tips and advice for women...
5/22/2013 1:58:00 PM
By Bill Fields
TOWN AND COUNTRY, Mo. -- The Senior PGA Championship will always stand out in 50-and-over golf because it is by far the oldest of the senior majors, having begun in 1937 at Augusta National GC.
This year, though, for the 74th renewal, a portion of the older set has chosen to compete about 700 miles from Bellerive CC, in the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial in Fort Worth, where they are past champions. Tom Lehman -- who has won the Champions Tour's Charles Schwab Cup the past two seasons -- David Frost, Corey Pavin and Keith Clearwater are teeing it up at Colonial CC in the PGA Tour stop this week.
Hale Irwin is a sentimental choice to win this week. (Photo: Getty Images)
Combined with the absences of Fred Couples, who withdrew Monday citing his back, and John Cook, who will speak at mentor Ken Venturi's Thursday service, four of the top 15 players on the 2013 Champions Tour money list won't be playing outside St. Louis. Another missing player is Nick Price, victorious in the 1992 PGA Championship at Bellerive, who is still on the mend from arm surgery.
Those golfers who are at Bellerive will encounter a course with which they are familiar -- although one that was adjusted by architect Rees Jones following the 2004 U.S. Senior Open won by Peter Jacobsen. It is a formidable, par-71 design whose first turn in the national spotlight was when it hosted the 1965 U.S. Open won by Gary Player.
An 11-year-old St. Louis boy, Jay Haas, was a spectator that summer out with his uncle, Bob Goalby, a prominent tour pro. As Haas recalled Wednesday in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "I kind of remember being here and being near the 18th green when Jack Nicklaus walked off. There was a lot of people around him, and I remember my Uncle Bob saying, 'Get that guy's autograph. He's going to be a star.' "
Haas got Nicklaus' signature and, if not Nicklausian, eventually fashioned an endurable and solid decades-long career of his own, which is still going well at age 59. If that would seem too old to win the Senior PGA, consider that in 2011 Tom Watson, 61, became the oldest winner of the championship since the advent of the Champions Tour. Hale Irwin was just shy of his 59th birthday when he won in 2004, and John Jacobs was also 58 when he won in 2003.
Irwin, who will turn 68 on June 3 and lived in St. Louis for many years, would be the ultimate, sentimental, golden oldie longshot this week. But consider that he is coming off two years in which he finished fourth and third in the event of which he is a four-time champion. And Irwin was second to Jacobsen in the 2004 U.S. Senior Open, just ahead of Haas and Tom Kite.
A more logical pick would be Bernhard Langer, the only multiple winner on the Champions Tour this season with two titles, and 18 in his career. Kenny Perry, a past Colonial winner who chose to play with his age group this week, will be another golfer to watch. Perry, 52, only has one career senior win, but has great memories from the final round of the 2012 Senior PGA, when he closed with a record 10-under 62 at the GC at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich.
Regardless of who prevails at the end of 72 holes, they will join a who's who of former champions, including Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Julius Boros, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Raymond Floyd. Even without getting presented the huge Alfred S. Bourne Trophy, all of 36 pounds, a winner knows he has achieved a weighty accomplishment.
5/22/2013 12:09:00 PM
(Getty Images photo)
By John Strege
Ignoring the fact that vodka and driving don't mix, Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka, the vodka company co-owned by former U.S. Open and Masters champion Fuzzy Zoeller, sponsors the car that won the pole position for the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.
Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet is owned and driven by Ed Carpenter, who like Zoeller is a native of Indiana. "We wouldn't have a race team if it wasn't for Fuzzy," Carpenter said in an interview with Fox59, Indianapolis' Fox affiliate.
Zoeller was not there for the qualifying, but he will be there for the race on Sunday. He is not entered in the Senior PGA Championship this week.
"All I want to do is kiss the brick," Zoeller said in a 59Fox interview. "I want to see what it tastes like. I'll let him [Carpenter] drink all the milk he wants because I'm lactose [intolerant]. But I want to kiss that brick."
The tradition of kissing the bricks was started by Dale Jarrett after he won NASCAR's Brickyard 400 in 1996. Jarrett knelt down and kissed a brick that is part of a strip of bricks at the start/finish line at Indy left over from 1909, when the racing surface was made of brick.
Fuzzy's Vodka has been a sponsor of the car since 2010. In a promotion that was announced prior to Carpenter earning the pole position, a Checkered Flag Limited-Edition bottle of the vodka commemorating the company's involvement of the Indy 500 was introduced. Rather than golf imagery on the label, it shows turn one at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
5/22/2013 11:37:00 AM
By John Huggan
VIRGINIA WATER, England -- Judged on the sizable amount of evidence the world has gathered over the course of his 14-year career in professional golf, Sergio Garcia is capable of being many things. Emotional. Moody. Immature. Spoiled. Self-absorbed. Pampered. Excitable. A show-off. Those are just some of the more obvious characteristics one can attribute to the gifted 33-year-old Spaniard.
Garcia met with European Tour Chief Executive George O'Grady and PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem on Wednesday. (Photo: Getty Images)
What there has been no indication of in Garcia is even a hint of racism, latent or otherwise. Which is why, even after cracking a clearly unthinking, ill-judged and rather silly "joke" stereotypically linking a black American, Tiger Woods, and the daily digestion of fried chicken, the former Players champion deserves to be rated on his previously unblemished (at least in terms of racism) overall record, not one moment of madness. His lame attempt at humor -- which recalled Fuzzy Zoeller's notoriously intemperate "collard greens or whatever the hell they serve" remarks in the wake of Woods' 1997 Masters victory -- was just that, nothing more or less.
Related: Golf's most regrettable interviews
Still, although his brain had clearly been temporarily out-of-order, it didn't take long for the potential and probable repercussions of his actions to dawn on Garcia.
"As soon as I left the dinner, I started getting a sick feeling in my body," he said to a packed press conference one day after what many will view as the ultimate faux pas. "I wasn't able to sleep at all last night. I felt like my heart was going to come out of my body. Today it was difficult to hit a shot without thinking about it. Unfortunately, I said it. I wish I didn't do it but the only thing I can say is sorry."
Which is what he did, repeatedly, throughout his 10-minute mea culpa.
"I want to send an apology," had been his opening line. Followed by, "I didn't mean to offend anyone. I was caught off-guard by the question. But don't get me wrong, I understand that my answer was stupid and out of place. I can't say sorry enough about that.
"Most importantly, I want to apologize to Tiger. I feel sick about it. I'm truly, truly sorry. I hope that we can settle things down and hopefully move on."
All of which, of course, is exactly what Sergio should be saying in the wake of such an ill-advised utterance. But hang on a minute. Before the wave of self-righteousness raining down on this suddenly wretched individual builds up even more momentum, some perspective please. An off-the-cuff comment regarding fried chicken -- while brainless almost beyond belief -- wasn't as damaging or hurtful as Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman saying Woods' nearest pursuers should "lynch him in a back alley." And, last time I looked, Ms. Tilghman was still on the air.
While Garcia is clearly guilty of crass stupidity, to condemn and categorize him solely on the basis of a single phrase uttered during an adrenaline-charged interview alongside his 2012 Ryder Cup teammates would be wrong. Just as no sensible assessment of a golfer's worth can be made after only one shot or one round or one tournament, the same criteria must surely apply to any assessment of a man's character.
Related: Garcia, Woods have spat at the Players
Already, of course, there have been predictably outraged calls for suspensions and heavy fines, none of which will apparently be used as punishment. In a brief meeting after his pro-am round at Wentworth, European Tour chief executive George O'Grady reportedly accepted Garcia's clearly heartfelt apology.
That result will assuredly not be nearly enough to satisfy that growing body of men and women "professionally offended" seemingly by anything and everything. But it is appropriate here. Because of the typically brutal and sometimes uncomfortable honesty with which Garcia responds to inquiries relating to his non-relationship with the world's best golfer, he should be allowed to move on from this latest episode. Indeed, just hours before his ill-fated quip made headlines around the world, Garcia faced the media gathered at Wentworth for the BMW PGA Championship and gave a series of frank answers to questions regarding Woods.
Asked why he "doesn't like" the 14-time major champion, Garcia was refreshingly open. "There's people you connect with and people you don't," he said. "It's pretty much as simple as that. He doesn't need me in his life and I don't need him in mine. Let's move on and keep doing what we're doing. It doesn't mean I cannot play with him."
Such remarks are, perhaps perversely given what followed, worthy of praise. Unlike so many of his contemporaries, Garcia did not take the easy way out. He did not hide behind the depressingly familiar mixture of obfuscation and blatant lies that these days pass for "comment." Instead, he told us exactly what he thinks. And it is his forthrightness that makes him deserving of a break. Were his dislike of Woods based on skin color rather than a simple personality clash, he would surely have revealed himself long before now.
"To even suggest Sergio is racist is ridiculous," agrees one prominent European Tour professional. "I've played within many times and never has he even come close to saying anything that would suggest he holds views like that. Yes, he can be a bit of an attention-seeker, especially in front of a crowd. Which is why he sometimes speaks before he thinks. But that's hardly a crime is it?"
Related: Sergio not on Tiger's list of buddies
The greater sadness here is that Garcia running off at the mouth in such a high-profile manner will do nothing to dispel the widely held image of a cosseted world of golf largely populated by a distasteful collection of closet racists, complimented only by those who are openly misogynistic. Indeed, that is a notion sometimes hard to argue with.
It is, after all, still less than 40 years since the first black man played in the Masters. Only just over half a century ago the PGA of America removed the caucasian clause in their membership policies. And, until this year when Augusta National welcomed two female members, the PGA Tour blatantly ignored its own rules regarding the sanctioning of tournaments held at clubs discriminating on the grounds of color, creed or gender. None of the above, it goes without saying, did the game any credit.
So let's be clear. For inadvertently and thoughtlessly perpetuating those shameful but now hopefully outdated stereotypes, Garcia deserves criticism. But only for that. To those who would have him banished from the game for mere stupidity, Londoners have an appropriate phrase: Do me a favor mate.