Brooks Koepka Outpoints Tiger Woods in PGA for the Ages

It was fitting that the 100th PGA Championship was contested on a golf course with all the design variety of a boxing ring. Sunday’s slugfest deserved to be conducted under the Marquis of Queensbury’s rules rather than the U.S. Golf Association’s.

Brooks Koepka confirmed himself as the undisputed heavyweight champion with his second major victory of the year and third in six starts, having sat out the Masters with a wrist injury. His was a decisive win, but it was a win on points.

This was no knockout. The greatest of them all, a man who has been punch drunk and on the ropes for several years, was still on his feet, and until his very last shot was throwing haymakers with a ferocity not seen in a decade.

Screen Shot 2018-10-31 at 10.24.01 PM

Continue reading “Brooks Koepka Outpoints Tiger Woods in PGA for the Ages”

Bland Bellerive Lacks Luster For PGA Championship

There are a few elements essential to the character of a major championship.

It starts with the field. If the world’s best consider it optional, it’s not a major. Injuries or indictments are the only acceptable excuses for a player’s absence.

A weepy Jim Nantz retrospective helps too. Granted, his tendency to wring tears from even the most banal Tour stop has cheapened the currency, but viewers must be persuaded that they’re catching glimpses of a significant tournament between the commercials and fluffing of CEOs.

But nothing contributes more to the sense of a major than the golf course. The venue was a vital character in the plots of 2018’s majors. Augusta National, Shinnecock Hills and Carnoustie were not incidental to the action.

Which may explain why – so far, at least – this major feels decidedly minor.

Blame it on Bellerive.

Screen Shot 2018-10-31 at 5.30.22 PM
The charmless Bellerive, a venue unworthy of the 100th PGA Championship.

Continue reading “Bland Bellerive Lacks Luster For PGA Championship”

Molinari Masters The Open At Carnoustie

Carnoustie’s charms can be elusive, but its cruelties are readily apparent. The old links has scant aesthetic appeal, no alluring views or heaving dunes. Like the village from which it draws its name, Carnoustie is simple and functional, and that function is simple: stress test the world’s finest golfers until just one remains unbroken.

Sometimes not even the winner emerges unscathed from a cross-examination at Carnoustie. Paul Lawrie, the 1999 champion, sought therapy after his victory was widely dismissed as a gift from a clownish Frenchman.

Screen Shot 2018-10-31 at 5.13.26 PM
Francesco Molinari held off a stellar field at Carnoustie.

There’s a reason why the lingering images from recent championships here have been of the vanquished, not the victors: Jean Van de Velde barefoot in Barry Burn, Sergio Garcia doubled over in anguish after his putt to win lipped out.

At Carnoustie Opens, one man’s ecstasy is invariably built on another’s agony.

Not at the 147th Open, however. It was won by Francesco Molinari, not lost by his challengers.

Continue reading “Molinari Masters The Open At Carnoustie”

Phil Now More Major Sideshow Than Major Contender

It’s been exactly two years and two days since Phil Mickelson was relevant in a tournament that matters.

That was his outstanding duel with Henrik Stenson at Royal Troon in the 145th British Open. He missed the cut in the 146th edition, and the 147th isn’t looking very promising either after a first round of 2-over-par 73.

That’s not to say Mickelson hasn’t made news in those two years, during which he accumulated zero top-20 finishes in six majors played. He ended a five-year winless drought at the WGC-Mexico Championship in March, but for the most part his headlines haven’t been so much earned with fine play as extorted with sideshow stunts.

Screen Shot 2018-10-31 at 5.07.35 PM

Continue reading “Phil Now More Major Sideshow Than Major Contender”

Chamblee Back in the Swing

It’s 30 minutes from Carnoustie across the River Tay to Scotscraig Golf Club. Unless you’re Brandel Chamblee, in which case the winding journey takes about 15 years.

On July 23, the day after the 147th British Open at Carnoustie concludes, the Golf Channel analyst plans to tee it up at Scotscraig in an effort to qualify for the Senior Open, held that week in St. Andrews. Scotscraig is where he qualified for the 1995 Open at the Old Course, adding a note of nostalgia to his quest.

 

Continue reading “Chamblee Back in the Swing”

The Open: Rounds 1 & 2 Post-Mortems

I joined Andy Johnson from The Fried Egg, and SB Nation writers Brendan Porath and Richard Johnson for two fun shows after the first and second rounds of the 146th Open at Royal Birkdale. Very few Tour pros were hurt in the making of these shows!

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 9.33.38 PM

You can the Thursday (Round One) show  on Facebook here.

The Friday (Round Two) wrap can be found here.