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Jul 23, 2014 | 12:38 PM

Grand Plan

Rory McIlroy looks like a good bet to become the first player since Padraig Harrington in 2008 to win back-to-back majors when he tees it up at Valhalla next month, but given that he already has a PGA Championship, he now has his sights set on the career Grand Slam by winning at Augusta next year, making him the sixth player to do so after Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Tiger Woods. In an ironic twist, just making the cut on the number at the 2014 Masters might help him win the 2015 tournament. An odd number of players made the cut, so McIlroy, as the first one out, had to play with a non-competing marker, Augusta member Jeff Knox, who also happens to be a two-time Georgia state amateur champion and holds the course record (61) from the members' tees. Knox actually beat McIlroy by a shot (70–71) and the Irish lad said Sunday after winning the Open that he may have to play a couple of practice rounds with Knox before next year’s tournament because “he’s the best I’ve ever seen on Augusta’s greens.” When word of that reached Knox, he said he really didn’t think McIlroy needed his assistance but he’d be happy to help in any way he could. “I think in general there are a couple of greens out there you have to be careful with, or know they break a different way than it might appear. I know that place pretty well, and if I can just help (save) half a shot a day, that could be the difference. I would love to help him win a green jacket.”

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Jul 22, 2014 | 06:10 AM

Raining On Their Parade

So with three majors behind us, we have three different champions and this remains a weird year. Rory’s dominant win at Hoylake affirmed his immense talent, but as at the other two majors, it was a week of comparatively little drama. Adam Scott remains world number one, but there’s no consensus player of the year. (Martin Kaymer, with wins at The Players and U.S. Open, getting the grudging nod.) Meanwhile, Phil (above) has no Top 10s and Tom Watson has more FedEx points than Tiger. The only ones lighting it up are the ladies, who in the past two weeks have continued to shine—first Mo Martin’s shot-of-the-year British Open title at Birkdale, and now 17-year-old Lydia Ko winning her fourth title and becoming the game’s youngest millionaire. This on top of earlier major wins by starlets Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie. Who would have thought there could be a year when the LPGA put on a better show than the men? But that’s exactly what’s happened in 2015. So far.

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Jul 21, 2014 | 09:15 AM

Child's Play

If there is a lesson to be learned from this past weekend of golf, it’s the generational shift at the top of the game. Tiger and Phil? Too old, too injured. No, for the most part, the game belongs to the young like Rory McIlroy, all of 25, along with Rickie Fowler (25), Victor Dubuisson (24), Jordan Spieth (20) and so on. Kudos to the likes of Jim Furyk, who finished solo fourth at 44; Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott, who straddle the worlds at age 34; and, of course, the marvelous 64-year-old Tom Watson, who finds a personal fountain of youth in the British summer. But should there be any question about pro golf’s youth movement, look what’s happening on the women’s tour: You may have missed it, but 17-year-old Lydia Ko won this weekend's Marathon Classic in Ohio, and with the victory becomes the youngest female player to top $1 million in official earnings. Add to the young ladies roster the likes of Lexi Thompson (19) and Michelle Wie (24) and we’re likely to be talking about triumphant teens and 20s on the tee for a long, long time. Now let’s hope these precocious players lead a new group of youngsters to the great old game.

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Jul 18, 2014 | 06:48 AM

Wheezy Ryder?

In what may have been the quietest news flash in golf history, it’s being reported by a number of sources that the PGA of America is working with the PGA and European tours to create a Senior Ryder Cup, and the first matches could be held as early as next year. No idea yet of place yet, but NBC—which would broadcast the event as part of its new TV arrangement with the PGA of America—likes the bye week during next year’s FedEx Cup playoffs, between the Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW Championship in September. And it seems some elements of the format have been agreed upon: 10 seniors from each of the US and European senior tours would play 10 matches a day for three days, with a total of 30 points on the line. No idea yet if they’d be playing foursomes, four-balls, and singles as the “junior” Ryder Cup does, but given that event’s success and excitement factor, it would be unwise to bet against it. By the way, if this new event doesn’t satisfy your need for cups, the Presidents Cup will be a few weeks later, October 8-11, 2015, from South Korea.

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