Jul 31, 2013 | 10:49 AM

History in the Making

Maybe the LPGA tour doesn’t excite you as much as the PGA Tour, and certainly the proliferation and success of South Korean players is a bit of a marketing problem, at least here in the U.S., but the Women’s British Open at St. Andrews this week should be pretty stirring stuff. If Inbee Park wins her fourth straight major at the game’s most hallowed ground, she’ll become the first golfer to win a calendar-year Grand Slam since Bobby Jones in 1930—and the first person to win all four professional majors in the same year (Mickey Wright and Tiger Woods won four straight over the course of two years, in 1961–62 and 2000–01, respectively). Which is why it was pretty shocking to hear that she gave a 30-minute press conference yesterday to a half-empty media room. Hopefully that isn’t a reflection on the interest in general because she’s very likely to pull it off for two reasons: Park is a revered name in Scottish golf—Willie Park won four Open titles, including the very first one in 1860, and his son won two—and she can putt the dimples off the ball, averaging a little over 28 putts per round in her major hat trick. That will serve her well on the Old Course’s ginormous double greens. She begins her historic quest tomorrow morning at 2:03 am eastern time. Here are the TV times:

Thursday, August 1: ESPN2 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
 Friday, August 2: ESPN2 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
 Saturday, August 3: ESPN2 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. 
Sunday, August 4: ESPN2 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

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Jul 30, 2013 | 08:47 AM

Team Spirit

Guys, if you can break 80 consistently (and ladies, if you can get it around under 90), you now have a chance to spend a week at a great golf course while competing for a national title. The USGA has just announced the inaugural sites for its brand-new Men’s and Women’s U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championships, and they’re four beauties: The Olympic Club (shown above) and Bandon Dunes will host the men and women, respectively, in 2015; Winged Foot and Streamsong will be the venues in 2016. Any man with a USGA Handicap Index up to 5.4 is eligible, while for women the limit is 14.4. There are no age restrictions and team partners may be from different clubs and states, even different countries. Sectional qualifying will determine the final fields—128 two-man teams for the men, 64 for the women. Each team’s score will be determined using its better-ball score for each hole. Once on site there will be 36 holes of stroke-play after which the field will be reduced to the low 32 teams and match-play competition will determine the winners. So start practicing.

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Jul 29, 2013 | 05:37 AM

The Hole Story

The 15th hole on the East Course at Oak Hill Country Club, site of the PGA Championship that tees off next week, is a long-ish (180 yards) par three that plays downhill to a narrow green with water on the right side and two bunkers on the left. It’s likely to play a role in helping decide the winner of the year’s final major championship, particularly when you, the fans, get to decide where the hole location is cut on that hole in the final round. Showing a flair for publicity—as well as a quirky sense of humor—the PGA of America is running the “PGA Championship Pick the Hole Location Challenge Hosted by Jack Nicklaus,” which gives the public the chance to go onto the PGA’s website between now and Saturday, August 10, and choose where the flag is stuck on Sunday, August 11. According to the PGA, Nicklaus will “lead fans as their host and teacher in understanding the nuances that the greatest players consider and think about regarding course setup and hole locations.” Yeah, yeah, all well and good: Let’s stick it as close to trouble as possible. Make ‘em sweat!

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Jul 26, 2013 | 09:51 AM

Taxing Round

Six months ago Phil Mickelson complained about the amount of money he pays in taxes, particularly because he lives in California where the state tax is 13 percent. After his back-to-back wins at the Scottish and British Opens, he now has a lot more to complain about. According to Forbes, Mickelson will only keep about $843,000 of the $2,167,500 he won—an effective tax rate of more than 61 percent after U.K. and U.S. taxes. The Brits will also take a 45-percent piece on a percentage of Mickelson’s endorsement income (the "duty-day" formula takes his total workdays in the country divided it by his total workdays during the year times the endorsement fee). And when you add in his caddie Jim Mackay’s 10 percent take, along with the expenses for staying in Scotland for two weeks, his take-home pay is closer to 30 percent. The guess here is that the Claret Jug more than makes up for it.

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