Aug 09, 2013 | 06:20 AM

Crashing The PGA's Party

Even during its biggest week of the year, the PGA of America can’t get no respect. On the eve of the PGA Championship, the “largest working sports organization in the world,” whose 27,000 members run shops, give lessons, and promote the game, was upstaged not once, not twice, but three times by other associations. During a press conference on Wednesday, PGA President Ted Bishop announced that the 2016 championship probably will be held in July to avoid conflict with the Rio Olympics. At that same session, Bishop admitted that the old tagline for the PGA Championship—“Glory’s Last Shot”—was changed to “The Season’s Final Major” at the request of PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, who thought “last shot” was taking a shot at the Tour’s season-ending FedEx Cup. Then, in the unkindest cut of all, the USGA used PGA eve to announce its new TV deal with Fox Sports beginning in 2015. Forget the fact that Fox has never covered golf (who will they hire as announcers? Hello? Johnny Miller?) or that Fox is reportedly paying roughly $100 million a year for the rights. Couldn’t they have waited till next week? By the way, there’s still time for Augusta National, the LPGA, or maybe the Miniature Golf Association to chime in with more scene-stealing news.

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Aug 08, 2013 | 11:03 AM

Is Oak Hill Too Oaky?

While “revered for the boldness of his vision and for the clarity with which he designed, shaped, and built golf holes,” according to Discovering Donald Ross by Brad Klein, the Scottish master would not recognize Oak Hill’s East Course—site of the PGA Championship—today. A Dornoch man, he adopted principles of links golf in his work. Ironically, the club’s site, in the suburbs of Rochester, was lightly treed when Ross walked it in 1922. The oaks at Oak Hill came later, thanks to a club member who planted tens of thousands of hardwoods around the holes. Tight, wooded corridors will test the accuracy of the game’s best players this week, but Oak Hill’s preponderance of oaks had no place in Ross’s original plan. Sacrilege to remove them? No less an authority than C.B. Macdonald once wrote, “Trees in the course are…a serious defect.” Ross was no tree-hugger. Were he alive today, he’d show up for the first round with a chainsaw.

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Aug 07, 2013 | 10:19 AM

PGA Primer

Because it lacks a distinct identity, the PGA Championship is like the ugly stepsister of the majors, particularly when it’s at a mishmash of a U.S. Open-wannabe course (circa 1980s) like Oak Hill, with lots of trees and high rough. The latter is extra juicy, too, because of all the rain this summer. Give us Kiawah or Whistling anytime. In five previous majors here, a total of only 10 players broke par over 72 holes. This year the layout will play to a par 70 of 7,163 yards with the ultra tough 17th and 18th par fours both lengthened to pretty much ensure no one birdies them. Despite the slog of a course, all could be saved if the cream rises and the world’s No. 1 and 2 players, Tiger and Phil, are in the final Sunday grouping for the first time in a major since the ’09 Masters. That’s a big if, though, given that a little-known player, Shaun Micheel, outdueled a somewhat lesser little-known player, Chad Campbell, here the last time in 2003. On the good side, at least the weather forecast is good with sunny skies and temps in the 70s.

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Aug 06, 2013 | 08:34 AM

Winsome Threesomes

In keeping with tradition, rounds one and two of the PGA Championship will pair the winners of the year’s three previous majors—Adam Scott, Justin Rose, and Phil Mickelson—at 1:45 off the first tee Thursday. On Friday, that prime-time TV slot belongs to Tiger Woods and fellow long-hitting PGA champions Keegan Bradley and Davis Love III. Although the PGA isn’t as creative with its pairings as is the USGA for the U.S. Open, there are a couple of interesting (albeit PGA-centric) groups: Shaun Micheel, Rich Beem, and Mark Brooks (former champions who haven’t won since); David Toms (above), Padraig Harrington, and Y.E. Yang (former PGA champions struggling to regain form); and Darren Clarke, Tom Watson, and Paul McGinley (Ryder Cup Captains).

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