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Jun 09, 2016 | 09:10 am

Major in the Pacific Northwest

The 2016 KPMG Women's PGA Championship begins today Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Washington. The Pacific Northwest course also hosted the 1998 PGA Championship, won by Vijay Singh. The course was originally opened in 1969, but Rees Jones redesigned the course in 1996 prior to the PGA, and many of those changes remain for the ladies today.

Defending champion Inbee Park hopes to claim her title again at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship and cement her spot in the LPGA Hall of Fame, an honor she will receive at the end of this week. “I said the Hall of Fame would be my last goal, but it really came early, and I’ve achieved pretty much everything I set so far in my career,” said Park. “Going into the Hall of Fame is something I've been dreaming of all of my life.”

We wish Park and all of the players on the field luck going into this weekend. Coverage of the tournament will be on NBC and the Golf Channel live from Washington.

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Jun 08, 2016 | 09:53 am

Improper Drop

Want another sign that Olympic golf in Rio is in trouble? Take a look at what this Brazilian bird called a Siriema does with a golf ball. Clearly, he (or she, we're not sure) has no idea that you get relief from cart paths. What kind of bird brain drops it ON the cart path? Sheesh!

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Jun 07, 2016 | 08:58 am

Olympic Uncertainty

To date, four prominent players (Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzl, and Vijay Singh) have announced they will not be representing their home countries in the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and now world number one Jason Day is hedging his bets. Not long ago, Rory McIlroy dithered before saying he would go, but who knows, he could change his mind and back out as could any number of others, the main reason being the uncertainty of the Zika virus. Should that happen, it will not only take some luster off the first gold medal in golf in over a century, it will imperil the future viability of golf as an Olympic sport. The American squad currently consists of Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, and Dustin Johnson, all of whom say they're committed to playing, as do the three leading ladies from the U.S., Lexi Thompson, Stacy Lewis, and Gerina Piller. But five weeks remain before the final qualifiers are announced--and those qualifiers announce whether they’ll be accepting their bids. Stay tuned. 

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Jun 06, 2016 | 06:23 am

A Long Story

Last week, the USGA and R&A jointly published the results of research on driving distance in pro golf based on data from seven worldwide tours, including the PGA Tour, that goes back as far as 1968. And their conclusion? The pros really aren’t all that much longer. While that might go against everything we think we see from the likes of Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, JD Holmes, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day—you get the idea—golf’s two governing bodies are sticking by their findings. Which are, according to their announcement:

  • Between 2003 and the end of the 2015 season, average driving distance on four of the seven tours increased about 1%, or 0.2 yards per year.
  • For the same period, average driving distance on the other three of the seven tours studied decreased about 1%.
  • Looking at all of the players who are ranked for distance on the PGA Tout and PGA European Tour, the amount by which players are “long” or “short” is virtually the same—for instance, the 10 shortest players in that group are about 6% shorter than average, while the 10 longest players in the group are about 7% longer than average. The statistics are not skewed toward added distance.
  • The average launch conditions on the PGA Tour—clubhead speed, launch angle, ball speed and ball backspin—have been relatively stable since 2007. The 90th-percentile clubhead speed coupled with the average launch angle and spin rate are very close to the conditions that the USGA and The R&A, golf’s governing bodies, use to test golf balls under the Overall Distance Standard.

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of the R&A, said “it is important in terms of good governance and healthy for the sport to achieve greater transparency on key issues such as driving distance.” Mike Davis, Executive Director/CEO of the USGA said, “Hitting distance is, and has long been, a constant subject of healthy and spirited debate in golf. We want every0ne in the game to have access to the facts… to ensure that our game is both enjoyable and sustainable for future generations." The entire report is available from the USGA or The R&A.

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