by Jeff Skinner
Henrik Stenson’s strong season continues to pay dividends for the reigning FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai Champion. The number three player in the Official World Golf Rankings has found another source of income.
Stenson, along with Ian Poulter, have signed deals with SiriusXM Radio to host their own radio shows which will air next year. Poulter has the reputation of being an extrovert and certainly likes a bit of flash as he demonstrates with his wardrobe, own clothing line and collection of Ferraris.
Stenson doesn’t have the reputation of Poulter but is thought of as witty, insightful and sharp witted. Among his fellow players he is considered a bit of a wise guy.
“This has been an incredibly thrilling year for me, truly a dream season,” Stenson said. “I’m looking forward to being on SiriusXM and sharing my thoughts on golf and my unique experiences around the world. It will be fun to bring my listeners along for the ride and give them an unvarnished look at life on and off the course.”
Poulter is looking forward to his show also, “Those who know me know I’ve never been shy about sharing my opinions,” Poulter said. “Now to have my own national radio show on SiriusXM will be great fun.”
by Jeff Skinner
Here’s a chance to hear more on “The Failed Coup at the USGA” from the author, Ron Sirak. Gary Williams quizzed Sirak on The Morning Drive with some great questions and Sirak shot straight from the hip. Sirak has unusual access to the USGA and it shows.
And here’s more with Williams, Sirak and the very well connected Geoff Shackelford and former USGA Executive director David Fay. These three probably know more about the USGA and its workings than any three men in golf. It’s a bit long but full of more great info and insights.
by Jeff Skinner
Each time an average golfer tees it hop he has hope that this will be the day he plays like a pro. It never happens. But that doesn’t mean hope is lost because even though we can’t play like them sometimes they do play like us. Well, at least for one hole anyway.
That was the case for world number two Adam Scott at the World Cup of Golf. It seems that Scotty lost it, literally and figuratively on the difficult Royal Melbourne course as he stumbled to a five over par nine on the twelfth hole.
Scott has been on quite a roll with back to back wins since he returned home to Australia but at the twelfth hole it all literally down under.
His first tee ball was lost way right. His second went deep in a grove of trees and he was hitting his fifth shot from the tee. His approach to the green (sixth) went over and rolled down the back of the green. He needed a chip and two putts and a bit of humility as he wrote down a nine on his card.
Even the best in the world can lose it at times. “Just a couple of lazy swings today on 12 and I paid the price,” Scott said.
“I was just away with the fairies on that hole.”
Scott took his spanking in good humor and is nine shots off the lead, “You just can’t play good all the time.”
“If I can plug away at it I’ll maybe claw my way back into it.”
by Jeff Skinner
1. The PGA of America has floated the idea of taking the PGA Championship on the road and Royal Port Rush sounds like it is getting some consideration. But I hope they consider making the move down under to Australia. The Aussies deserve a shot at a major.
2. Speaking of Aussies…was there anything better than watching Jarrod Lyle making his return to professional golf? We all put way too much importance on where that little white ball lands. Seeing a man fight the fight that Lyle has and come out on top is…well, it just doesn’t get any better than that. How he could even hold a club, no less hit the ball on that first tee is beyond me.
3. Staying down under…Watching Adam Scott continue his streak of magnificent play is a joy. He’s a man in full bloom and realizes what he means to his countrymen. He’s not afraid to share a piece of himself with his public.
4. The LPGA’s stop and start season comes to an end this week at the CME Group Titleholders. It’s their version of the Tour Championship and brings a power packed field. It’s been a wild season for the women with Inbee Park dominating early with three majors, Stacy Lewis and Suzann Petersen challenging her and then Lexi Thompson winning twice at season’s end.
5. The women’s professional ranks welcomes a new member this week when 16 year old Lydia Ko makes her debut at the Titleholders. With two LPGA Tour wins and two international wins to her credit Ko has decided it’s time to start cashing checks. She’s a phenomenal talent but there’s more to professional golf than breaking par. So far she’s shown maturity beyond her years and now she’ll need every bit of it.
6. This week we all got to see and hear a bit from Phil Mickelson as he spent an hour with the team at The Morning Drive. Phil was his usual entertaining self and the subjects ranged from golf to travel to education and plenty more. Phil is serious about his charity work and education in math and science is one of his favored causes. You can hear it in his voice and that’s also what we love about Philly Mick…he lets us in, let’s us share his life and gives us a piece of himself. He’s Arnold Palmer in a KPMG hat.
7. The debacle that Glen Nager brought upon the USGA will be felt for quite awhile. And I for one find it unbelievable that they let themselves be taken in by a manipulating carpetbagger. He only had been with the USGA for six years when he was made president. In USGA years he was still a rookie. Maybe the bluecoats were looking for someone to bring them into the “modern age” where profits outweigh purpose. Be careful what you wish for because what they got was a disaster. Nager seems like he would have been a better fit in for the Nixon White House and not the USGA.
8. Stories of redemption abound recently. Of course the tear-jerking Jarrod Lyle comeback from leukemia tops the list. But Henrik Stenson’s spell of great golf continues and for a man that had lost his swing his run in simply astonishing. Is there a man that is hitting it better that Stenson right now? He’s not using clubs…he’s got a laser now. Adam Scott’s Season of Redemption started at Augusta and has continued all season. His Australian Homecoming gets better each week and he’s trying to win four straight down under. How wild is that!
9. Like many golf fans I am addicted to the Golf Channel’s Big Break. It is fun to watch and this season’s NFL Big Break was a bit of marketing genius. But not everything goes as planned when club meets ball. Just take a look as Chi Chi Rodriquez takes one to his own chi-chi’s.
10. There is still some great golf this week with the LPGA CME Title holders taking the top spot. They even get some LIVE television time on The Golf Channel. Adam Scott and Jason Day are looking to bring The World Cup of Golf home to Australia and continue Scott’s winning streak. We can watch it on The Golf Channel. And the European Tour doesn’t miss a beat. Days after ending the 2013 season the 2014 season tees off at the South African Open Championship. And there’s coverage on The Golf Channel. God Bless The Golf Channel.
by Jeff Skinner
It seems that those bluecoats at the USGA have been doing their best imitation of a prime time soap opera. It’s a story filled with inside power plays and backroom deals loaded with manipulation and dirty tricks…hardly what the USGA has represented all these years.
“The Failed Coup at the USGA…Corporate guys vs. golf guys: Glen Nager’s out and Mike Davis wins” is the latest must read from the very well connected Ron Sirak of Golf World. I would say the title says it all but there is so much more, oh so much more.
Sirak, who has amazing access, chronicles Nager’s attempt to take more power away from the traditional “golf guys” and put the USGA under control of a single CEO. Nager used his power to take authority from many established positions and put it in the hand of his handpicked cronies. Finally, many of the old guard at the USGA had seen enough and stood up to Nager’s belligerence and forced him out.
After losing a power struggle to bring broad organizational changes to the United States Golf Association, including what sources say was a bid to create a long-term chief-executive position, president Glen Nager will leave the organization for good when his second one-year term expires Feb. 8, Golf Digest has learned. “I have been involved with the USGA for eight years,” Nager said, “and after I leave I won’t be a part of it again.”
According to sources, Nager, who described himself as a “lame duck” in an interview with Golf Digest, wanted O’Toole removed from the 15-person Executive Committee and passed over as president, and he wanted Davis to report to a chief executive. A high-ranking USGA official says Nager wanted to bypass O’Toole because he considered O’Toole too close to Davis, a longtime USGA ally, to work effectively under a chief executive. “Tom and Mike are almost the same person,” the source said.
Other sources say it was Walter Driver—the chair of the USGA Nominating Committee who served a contentious term as president from 2006-’07—who said to Nager, “You are not going to do this.” Added another source: “The current board just didn’t want to hear anymore from [Nager] on this idea and shut him down completely. He had some very radical ideas, and he got nowhere.” (One former member of the Executive Committee, when told of Driver’s role in standing up to Nager, said: “Gee, I might have to change what I think of him.”)
The good news is that it appears the true roots of the USGA have won out. It prided itself on being in existence for “The Good of the Game” and the golf guys fought back against the corporate guys.
Added another USGA source: “I’ll tell you what, you’re going to see a 180-degree turnaround in terms of our relationship with some other organizations when Tom takes over.”
O’Toole and Davis, who have worked together for more than two decades, emerge in stronger positions. Since being promoted to the executive-director job in 2011, Davis has grown from the best course setup guy in the business to an efficient manager and a reassuring public face for the USGA.
Davis is in a position to reclaim some of the power that was stripped from the executive-director position during the Driver and Fred Ridley presidencies, when David Fay held the job. Fay had the position for 21 years until resigning abruptly on Christmas Eve in 2010 at the age of 60.
Davis is liked and respected, and insiders say the way he handled the attempt to diminish his power only enhanced his stature in the organization.
“There is no question that Mike is sounding more emboldened as a result of this experience,” says a high-ranking USGA official.
The clash ultimately was between what USGA insiders are referring to as “the golf guys” versus “the corporate guys.” The golf guys won, at least for now.
Be sure to click though to read all of Sirak’s fascinating account of the entire episode. It is thorough, full of insider information and Sirak gets down to the nitty gritty.
As far as Mike Dave regaining some of the power usurped from him by Nager I can say it’s well deserved. But then, I am prejudiced. You see last summer I wrote a letter to all the heads of the USGA, Davis and Nager included.
I received a thoughtful response from Davis. And at The Presidents Cup I had a chance to talk to him and he thanked me for my input and I became an even bigger fan of Mike Davis.
Glen Nager…I never heard from him. Maybe that says something about the two of them.
The USGA will be better off without Nager and so will Mike Davis.
Lexi Thompson displayed nerves of steel during the final round of the Lorena Ochoa Invitational as she sank a 5-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to clinch her second LPGA Tour victory this season. The Floridian fired rounds of 72-64-67-69 to claim a one-stroke victory over Stacy Lewis.
It was head-to-head battle between Thompson and Lewis throughout the majority of Sunday’s final round. After both players made the turn at 2-under-par for the day, Lewis dropped three strokes behind Thompson with a bogey at the par-4 12th.
Despite the untimely bogey, Lewis quickly recovered with back-to-back birdies at the par-4 12th and par-3 13th to pull even with Thompson. The string of birdies would continue for Lewis at the par-4 14th and for the first time this week, she found herself atop the leaderboard by one stroke.
While Lewis quickly made her way to the top of the leaderboard, she saw her lead dwindle with a bogey at the par-3 17th to drop into a tie with Thompson.
“Stacy is an amazing player,” said Thompson. “I knew she could make a run at me anytime during that round. When she made the two shot swing on me, I think on number 12, it brought it back to all squared. I knew I had to make birdies on top of her because she gets on a roll and she doesn’t stop. She’s an amazing player and played great today.”
Both players headed into the par-5 18th at 15-under par and left themselves with knee knocking birdie putts for the victory.
First to play, Thompson calmly rolled in her birdie putt while Lewis’ putt skimmed the edge giving the young 18-year-old her third career LPGA Tour win.
“First off, I had like a 50 to 60 footer for the first one, which was interesting getting up there within a few feet,” said Thompson. “You know on the second putt, that’s what it all came down to thinking I can make it and went up to it confidently. Just knock it in.”
by Jeff Skinner
Henrik Stenson finished his PGA Tour season with a bang as he won the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup. Not to play favorites, the Swede did the same thing at the European Tour’s DP World Tour Championship and with it also won the Race to Dubai.
Stenson’s last few months have marked a comeback of historic proportions as he had developed a case of the “swing yips” and fallen below 230th in the world rankings in 2012. Now with three world wide wins a top finishes whenever he plays, Stenson has placed himself among the elite golfers in the world.
Ian Poulter, who finished second in the Race to Dubai standings, says Stenson is playing better than anyone. Poulter added: “I have to take my hat off to him, unbelievable. I tried to run him down as hard as I could but even with a sore wrist he has pressed on and I just could not get close enough.
“Henrik has not made a mistake all week and I just had to make sure of second place and some valuable Ryder Cup points.
“I have thrown a lot at him and given him so much stick, but he is the best player on the planet right now.”
Stenson is the first player to capture both the Race to Dubai and the FedEx Cup in the same season. It caps an extraordinary run for the 37 year old who now looks forward to continuing his success and claiming his first major championship next season.
“It has been an incredible summer for me, the fall in America was great and now this,” said Stenson, who was second in the Open at Muirfield and third in the US PGA Championship before his FedEx Cup triumph. “It has been a dream season.”
“I played so well this week. I knew the guys would try to catch me, especially Ian who never gives up. I wanted to stay ahead of him and I managed to do that.
“I don’t know how I am going to be able to top this next year but I am going to give my best in the majors and that (to win one) would be the icing on the cake.”
by Jeff Skinner
Adam Scott is making his Australian homecoming something to remember. Scott scrambled to victory at the Australian Masters to defend his 2012 title and earn his second down under win in consecutive weeks.
Scott who had played impeccable golf for the first three rounds fell back on Sunday with an even round of par and needed a bit of help from Matt Kuchar.
Kuchar had overtaken Scott and had a two shot lead on the fourteenth hole after Scott couldn’t manage a plugged lie in a bunker and took double bogey.
But the two stood even as Scott played the eighteenth and Kuchar needed two strokes to get out of a greenside bunker on eighteen. That led to a double bogey and gave Scott his margin of victory.
Scott joined his hero and mentor, Greg Norman as the only players to win back to back Australian Masters titles. Scott realized the help he got from Kuchar today, “Sometimes you kind of win a little bit ugly. All the good stuff I’d done in the first three rounds counted for a lot.”
The 2013 Masters champ will try for a “Scotty Grand Slam” of sorts as he tries to win in four straight weeks in Australia. He’ll pair with Jason Day in the World Cup and play Royal Melbourne this week and then try for a clean sweep at the Australian Open in Sydney.
“I’ve been lucky enough to win at home a couple of times back here,” Scott said.
“But to come home this year with the amount of support that everyone has given me last week was amazing.
“This week was just incredible; so many people came out to watch.
“Hopefully they’re all going to come out again to watch next week as well. Just it’s overwhelming the reception I’ve received.”
“Looking forward to next week. Jason and I are going to get right into it, and what a chance – we get another week at Royal Melbourne.”