Golf has a problem, and Tom Watson is on the case.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Hall of Famer, eight-time major-winner and Kansas City native began sketching plans for a new kid-friendly, nine-hole course to be constructed alongside Mozingo Lake Golf Course in Maryville, Mo.
"This golf course is short by normal standards," said Watson. "This course is designed for beginners, for kids or anybody, really, to play the game where you aren't forced to play 400-yard par 4's or 500-yard par 5's or 180-yard par 3's ... That's the whole idea for this, to make it fun for them and not too long, where they can hit a shot and get rewarded for it."
As courses stretch to intimidating lengths to keep pace with new technology that can help average duffers drive staggering distances, attracting young players has become one of the sports biggest challenges. In 2010, Matthew Futterman of The Wall Street Journal reported that "the number of golfers age 6-17 dropped 24% to 2.9 million from 3.8 million between 2005 and 2008."
Short courses for beginners, like this one, could be a critical entry point for the game's future players.
Shortly after it was officially announced that Tom Watson will lead the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 2014, Sky Sports published statements from both Bernard Gallacher and Colin Montgomerie on why they believe he is the best man for the job.
Gallacher, Watson's opposing captain in 1993, said:
"The USPGA have conducted a post-mortem after Medinah and decided that, as they look likely to have a young and inexperienced team, they might need a bit of experience over in Scotland to deal with the young players, so Tom, who is probably the most respected figure in the game today and has been there before as a captain and player and won in Europe, is a very clever appointment.
"I also think Watson is the perfect captain to get the best out of Tiger Woods, something we have not seen in Ryder Cups. Tiger only plays with Steve Stricker, but Tom will get him playing with other players ahead of 2014, plus, I think Tiger respects Tom for being very straightforward and criticizing him when he spat and swore on the course."
Monty, leader of the victorious European squad in 2010, said:
"It is a surprise choice but seeing America's failure in the Ryder Cup - Europe have won seven times out of the last nine - they've decided to change things and go with someone who isn't playing alongside the players; if you keep on doing the same things you get the same results, so I think America have been very wise in choosing Tom and have gone back to the future.
"It is also a selection that will keep the Ryder Cup on the front pages in America, more so than some of the other candidates, while as a captain in '93 he was very well respected and he's even more respected now. There's a lot of pressure on him but I'm sure he can handle it - and the egos in the American team."
Tom Watson was officially introduced as the next American Ryder Cup captain on NBC's "Today" show on Thursday morning.
Watson will be 65, the oldest captain in Ryder Cup history, when the matches are held at Gleneagles in Scotland. Watson has won eight majors, including five British Opens, and captained the Americans to a victory in England in 1993, right, their last victory overseas. Since continental Europe joined the competition, only Jack Nicklaus has held the position twice.
Watson made a Broadway analogy in his press conference later in the morning at the Empire State Building. "It's like being a stage manager," he said. "That person has to prepare the stage for the actors, and that's what I do."
Watson is a universally respected figure in golf, especially in Scotland because of his success in the British Open. His reputation as a master of links golf was cemented at Turnberry in 2009, when, just shy of his 60th birthday, he lost in heartbreaking fashion in a playoff against Stewart Cink.
Another interesting wrinkle to Watson's selection is his frosty history with Tiger Woods. Watson was critical of Woods during his infidelity scandal and has also chastised Woods for cursing and throwing clubs on the course. Woods immediately issued a statement in support of Watson, however.
"I'd like to congratulate Tom Watson on his selection as Ryder Cup captain," Woods said in the statement. "I think he's a really good choice. Tom knows what it takes to win, and that's our ultimate goal. I hope I have the privilege of joining him on the 2014 United States Team."
Golf World's Tim Rosaforte reported on Twitter that Tom Watson, who last attended a Ryder Cup when he was captain of the winning U.S. side in 1993, will again lead the Americans in 2014.
Watson was asked this weekend if he'd take the job if it was offered. He said he would, and since then he has become a much-discussed candidate for the job. The PGA of America has not confirmed the selection, and Rosaforte cited only his "reporting" in the tweets. The announcement was scheduled for Thursday morning on the TODAY Show.
Watson, 63, won five British Opens between 1975 and 1983, as well as two Masters and a U.S. Open. His British wins have made him a favorite of U.K. golf fans, which makes him an interesting pick for this Ryder Cup, which will be played at Gleneagles in Scotland. In 2009 at Turnberry, a 59-year-old Watson nearly made British Open history again, losing in a playoff to Stewart Cink.
Watson played in four Ryder Cups and had a career record of 10-4-1.
Fred Couples fired a stellar three-under 67 to win the Senior British Open by two shots over Gary Hallberg. Bernhard Langer played with Couples in the final group, but stumbled to a 75. Tom Watson shot a 69 and tied for 10th
The 2012 Senior British Open was held at the storied Ailsa Course at Turnberry in Scotland, site of the "Duel in the Sun" between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus at the 1977 British Open.
Tiger Woods's niece received an exemption to next week's Wegmans LPGA Championship in Pittsford, N.Y., and John Dell of the Winston-Salem Journal says Woods has the game to compete.
Woods had an outstanding career at Wake Forest, winning twice and setting the school record for lowest career scoring average of 73.71. Last season she averaged 73.69, the fourth best in school history.
She played in the Wegmans in 2009 but missed the cut as an amateur. But her former coach at Wake Forest, Dianne Dailey, said Woods impressed everybody with how she carried herself.
"She missed the cut by one shot, but it was what she did off the course that impressed the folks running the tournament," Dailey said. "She put on a clinic, visited a hospital and was gracious with her time while she was there. I had one of the organizers call me afterward, and she told me Cheyenne was great to work with and was so cooperative."
Cheyenne's famous uncle will also be tuning in.
"It's exciting to see her grow and mature, and I'm just proud of her, and to see her embark on a professional career in golf is very exciting to me," Tiger Woods said, "not only from being her uncle but as a fan."
Member rips club for nude golf, other shenanigans Piedmont Driving Club member John C. Weitnauer is not happy with some of the recent ... "activities" at his club, and decided to write a letter to the club president about it. Somehow, the letter fell into Deadspin's hands, and the rest is history. Here's how the letter begins:
I have heard that, during and after the latest member/member golf tournament, a great deal of — to put it mildly — inappropriate behavior occurred.
I have heard the following:
• several members decided to play several holes with no shirts. I am sure that this is contrary to the rules of the golf course. Had this been the only infraction of good manners that apparently occurred at the tournament, I would not be writing this letter.
• one member decided to play the 14th hole completely naked. I have not researched it, but I suspect this is a crime in Georgia.
• several members urinated on one of the greens, in the presence of the caddie, a female, and one or more of the members deliberately exposed themselves to her while urinating. I suspect that this is also a crime in Georgia.
Believe it or not, the letter actually gets worse from there. You have to read it to believe it.
Video of the Day In case you missed it, Jack Nicklaus got a little choked up introducing his friend and formal rival Tom Watson on Wednesday at the Memorial.
In his new role, Eastwood, 81, will meet with the Back9 brass once per quarter to go over programming and casting choices for the network, which is currently in talks with distributors and is slated to launch later this spring. Back9 executives declined to comment on the nature of those conversations.
“He’ll be a big picture sounding board,” said Back9’s chief executive James Bosworth, who was an assistant pro at Pebble Beach in the mid-1990’s when he first met Eastwood. The pair remained in touch, and continue to play golf together. “It was natural to seek his advice,” Bosworth added, noting that Eastwood, along with his wife Dina, has been consulted and supportive of the Back9 concept since its inception some two years earlier.
“There’s no better guy to go to for a golf media company.”
Eastwood is a longtime golfer who owns Tehama Golf Club in Carmel, Calif., and he is a part-owner of Pebble Beach Golf Links. [Photo: Eastwood waits to tee off at the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am in Pebble Beach in January 1974. Associated Press]
Gary Player says Rory McIlroy has ‘as much talent as I’ve ever seen’
"Rory's swing is so magnificent," purred Player, slowing down his voice for emphasis. "He's got as much talent as anybody I've ever seen," the 76-year-old told Reuters in an interview at a Laureus sports awards event at Championship (second division) soccer club Millwall in south London.
Player said the only imponderable about U.S. Open champion McIlroy, 22, was his desire.
"Nobody knows what's inside of the man, how much passion he has," said the nine-times major winner. "Is he prepared to go through the pain barrier?"
Tom Watson’s chip-in at 1982 U.S. Open named best shot in Pebble Beach history
1. Tom Watson's chip: This might be the most famous shot in golf history. Watson arrived at the 71st hole of the 1982 U.S. Open tied for the lead with Jack Nicklaus, who already had completed his round. Nicklaus sensed he might win when Watson's tee shot on No. 17 sailed left and settled in thick rough.
The pin was tucked close to that side, so Watson didn't have much room to maneuver. Caddie Bruce Edwards encouraged him to "get it close," prompting Watson to reply, "Get it close? I'm gonna make it!"
He dropped the shot softly onto the green -- and the ball zoomed downhill and into the hole. Watson skipped onto the green in celebration, pointing at Edwards and saying, "I told you!"
"I say what it was: a lucky chip," Watson said in a 2010 interview. "I took dead aim and fortunately it hit the pin and went in.”
Spoiler alert: Kevin Costner did not make the list. [Associated Press photo]
It was announced this morning at the PGA Merchandise Show that Meg Mallon will captain the U.S. Solheim Cup team in 2013 as they look to extract revenge on the European side when they meet at Colorado Golf Club.
Mallon is an 18-time LPGA winner, including four major championships, and played on eight U.S. Solheim Cup teams, sporting a 13-9-7 career record. She served as an assistant captain to the victorious 2009 team and also captained a winning American side at the 2011 PING Junior Solheim Cup.
"It's an absolute honor to be selected as the 2013 U.S. Solheim Cup Team Captain," said Mallon. "I've participated in The Solheim Cup on nine occasions and each has been a proud moment for me, but to represent the United States as team captain definitely caps off my career. I look forward to working hard on getting the Cup back in U.S. hands."
Back to school Rory McIlroy, the scholar. That’s right, the U.S. Open champ is set to receive an honorary degree from the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. According to the Irish Times, McIlroy will be awarded a Doctor of Science degree for his contribution to golf.
The university said: “Rory McIlroy has quickly established himself as a major force in international golf as a Major winner and Ryder Cup hero.”
Compatriots Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke have also been honored by the university in the past.
Other notables to receive honorary degrees from the University of Ulster this year include Manchester United skipper Sir Alex Ferguson, Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody and actor Sir Ian McKellen, among others.
Golf’s Oprah Looking to build on a successful first season, Golf Magazine contributing writer David Feherty’s hit talk show, Feherty, will expand to a one hour time slot, beginning February 27. Due to viewer demand, Golf Channel has also ordered more episodes for season two and has pushed the original series back to the 10 p.m. time slot. In a press release, Golf Channel stated:
“We were blown away by the positive reaction our viewers had to this show and their appreciation for the truly heartfelt moments David was able to pull from each interview,” said Golf Channel President Mike McCarley. “People know David as funny and a bit irreverent, but they never knew how much emotion would come from this series. The one comment we heard repeatedly from viewers was ‘give us more’ -- so that’s exactly what we plan to do in season two.”
If you can’t hold out an entire month for your weekly dose of Feherty, don’t fret. Before season two airs, viewers will be treated to a special from the Super Bowl with Feherty performing before a live theatre audience, armed with a slew of guests from the world of sports and entertainment.
Additionally, Golf Channel will be airing bonus footage shot for two of the most popular Feherty episodes, including never-before-seen interviews with Johnny Miller and Tom Watson. The episodes will be re-aired in a one-hour format on February 13 and 20, respectively.
Speed golf Ben Crane isn’t the only one pumping out viral videos; rally driver and drifting champion Rhys Millen has teamed up with Hyundai to bring the largely underground world of Formula D to the golf course. Millen, who will race the 500bhp Hyundai Veloster in the US Rallycross championship, shows just how fast he really is, terrorizing the Purangi Golf & Country Club in New Zealand with his turbocharged golf cart.
PGA Tour, take notice. We just solved your pace of play problem.
Tweet of the Day
Steve Sands @ Golfchannel reports from Abu Dhabi that Tiger Woods took off his undershirt on hole 4 yesterday.... #tigersyearhasstarted