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Jan 14, 2016 | 10:10 am

Peering into the Cauldron

It is rare that tour players open up and provide a real glimpse into their winning mindsets, let alone their losing thoughts. We see the canned and pre-planned “thank you” and “I love returning to this tournament every year” at press conferences, but rarely do we get substantive insight into the struggles of PGA Tour players, particularly those with demons as prominent as Kevin Na’s.

Alan Shipnuck of GOLF Magazine has conducted an insightful interview with Na in which he provides a look into the conflicted mind of the tour player. The interview addresses Na’s haunting nightmares, the long pre-shot routine that made him infamous, and everything in between. Tour fans will remember Na's struggles. He carded a 16 on a par 4; at times he stands over the ball for 15+ seconds at address; multiple times he has failed to win tournaments after building up a sizeable lead, and all of this while having a swing that is the envy of nearly every golfer.

Na is likeable on a personal level and you find yourself feeling empathetic towards him throughout the interview… that is until you remember his $20.7 million in career earnings and look at his picture perfect swing. I guess life as Kevin Na isn’t all bad! Read the interview here.

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Jan 13, 2016 | 10:25 am

Biting Television

One of the best parts of televised golf is getting to see the golf course, and that's particularly true if it's a famous one we haven't seen before. Such is the case this week with the playing of Latin America Amateur Championship at Casa de Campo's Teeth of the Dog on the southeast coast of the Dominican Republic (broadcast times below). It was the first course Pete Dye built outside the U.S. and is still the consensus No. 1 course in the Caribbean. Dye built the course in 1970–'71, but it might as well have been 1920–'21 given that he didn't have any heavy machinery. He had to employ 300 Dominican laborers with pickaxes to pulverise the coral and wagons pulled by oxen to bring in topsoil from a mile away. The president of the resort wanted to name the course after the cashew trees in the hills ("Cajuil"), but Dye had a better name from what the laborers called the canine teeth-like rocks that line the seven holes on the sea: "diente de perro" or Teeth of the Dog.

First Round ESPN2: Thursday, Jan. 14 – 2 pm ET

Second Round ESPN2: Friday, Jan. 15 – 2 pm ET

Third Round ESPNews: Saturday, Jan. 16 – Noon ET

Final Round ESPN2: Sunday, Jan. 17 – 11:30 am ET

Final Round Highlights ESPN2: Sunday, Jan. 17 – 5:30 pm ET

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Jan 12, 2016 | 09:38 am

A Dis from DISS

Golf may be a game of honor, but at least one organization sees it as a potential hotbed of corruption. Golf.com reports that the Danish Institute for Sports Studies has found the International Golf Federation to be one of the most poorly organized entities of its kind and as such is susceptible to mismanagement and corruption. In a study of 35 such federations, golf ranked 34th with a score of 27.8 out of a possible 100 points. (Soccer’s notoriously corrupt FIFA scored 67.8 and only one organization—the International Shooting Sports Federation—fared worse than golf.) The study focused on four areas—transparency, democratic processes, checks and balances, and solidarity with stakeholders—and found the IGF wanting in terms of a lack of externally audited financials, term limits on officials, and the fact that it is the only federation whose president (currently former R&A chief Peter Dawson) is appointed rather than elected.  

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Jan 11, 2016 | 06:38 am

Christy O’Connor Jr. (1948-2016)

Christy O’Connor Jr., age 67, died last Wednesday while on vacation in the Canary Islands. During a long career on the European Tour, the Irishman won four times, twice won the Senior British Open, and had two victories on the Champions Tour, yet his exploits were overshadowed by that of his uncle, Christy O’Connor Sr., who had more than 40 wins as a professional and played in 10 consecutive Ryder Cup matches from 1955-73. “Christy played in the shadow of his uncle,” said Tony Jacklin, “but he became a legend in his own right, especially in Ireland.” That legend was helped by Jacklin, who picked a 41-year-old O’Connor for the 1989 Ryder Cup team (he had made the team in 1975, going winless in two matches). After losing a foursomes match on the second day in his only team appearance, O’Connor wasn’t expected to bring much fight to his singles battle with a 29-year-old Fred Couples. But they were all square in the final fairway, O’Connor about 230 yards from the hole. “Put this on the green and I promise something good will happen,” Jacklin said to his man, who hit a 2-iron to 3-1/2 feet; Couples hit a poor 9-iron, chipped on, missed his putt, and conceded the hole to O’Connor, who famously looked up at the heavens and cried while being mobbed by his teammates. It was his first and only Ryder Cup point and was instrumental in Europe’s retaining the trophy with a 14-14 tie. His funeral will be tomorrow in Galway.

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