Wednesday, November 30, 2005

2006 Nationwide Tour Championship in Houston

The PGA Tour announced today that the 2006 Nationwide Tour Championship will be played in Houston on the Rees Jones-designed track at The Houstonian Golf and Country Club.

Dates for the 2006 event are Nov. 9-12. The Houston Golf Association will be the organizing body.

The Nationwide Tour Championship is the season-ending shebang for the Triple-A tour, limited to the top 60 golfers on the Nationwide Tour money list.

Lajitas Shenanigans

There's been a brouhaha, well, brewing, out in Lajitas over the past few months. Or, according to some, since 2000, when Austin multimillionaire Steve Smith showed up, bought the remote outpost on the Rio Grande River, and set about creating his luxury getaway resort.

We told you a few months back that the golf course at Lajitas, The Ambush, is being converted from a lush, parkland design to a desert course. That's not the only construction going on at the "ultimate hideway," however. Beginning early next year, the State of Texas will re-route FM 170 so that it loops around Smith's swanky resort, rather than bypassing it.

Most of the locals - the hardy group of people who've lived in Lajitas since well before the entire town was purchased by Smith - aren't happy about it. They accuse Smith of using his money to peddle influence, and of various politicians and officials of being influenced. It's a boondoggle, a giveaway of taxpayer money to the local fatcat, according to critics.

The Austin American-Statesman has the latest roundup on the situation. Check it out. (If you're asked for login information and don't have any, try using bugmenot.com.)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Bernhard Langer in Tyler

Bernhard Langer is a noted golf ball-thumper and Bible-thumper. He's also a noted nice guy. This article in the Tyler newspaper tells the story of Langer passing through town to attend a Christian retreat, getting into a conversation in a restaurant, then taking an interest in a young boy struggling with his golf game. Athletes who constantly invoke God, as if the Big Guy is sitting up there in the sky taking sides in some silly athletic contest, are one of my pet peeves. But there's no doubting Langer's sincerity, or his generosity.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Fergus Plays Ways Onto Champions Tour

Keith Fergus of Sugar Land was among the seven golfers to earn full exempt status for the 2006 Champions Tour at the tour's final stage Q-School tournament last weekend.

Fergus, a longtime PGA Tour player, finished the six rounds at 434, tied for third place and five strokes behind medalist Massy Kuramoto.

Fergus was the only Texan to qualify this year. Other Texans in the field included David Lundstrom (443) of Houston; Perry Arthur (449) of Plano; and Doug Higgins (451) of Fort Worth.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

PGA Q-School - More Stage 2 Results

The final three of the six stage two qualifiers for the PGA Tour finished up over the weekend. Here are the Texans who advanced into the final stage (a golfer had to finish in the Top 19 and ties at each stage two qualifier to move on):

Oak Valley Golf Club, Beaumont, Calif.
Craig Kanada, The Woodlands, 288
Full Results

Jay Don Blake won this regional. Other recognizable names moving on included Matt Gogel and Aaron Barber. Among those failing to advance in this qualifier were McAllen's Jaime Gomez, just a stroke out of the Top 19, plus Steve Pate, Rick Fehr, Willie Wood, Dennis Paulson and Duffy Waldorf.

No Texans advanced out of the other two qualifiers, but you can see who did (and didn't) here and here.

Duval on the Upswing?

David Duval finished tied for 7th at the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan, against a very strong international field (Tiger Woods won in a playoff). Duval sort of stumbled to the finished line with a final-round 75, but he was the first-round leader with a 64, and finished at 2-under for the tournament.

Duval made exactly one cut this year prior to the Dunlop Phoenix, and that was in San Antonio at the Texas Open. I recall that at the time, Duval told the San Antonio Express-News something like this: "I'm playing well enough to win tournaments, I'm just not scoring."

He scored in Japan this week. Can Duval be on the way back? Hopefully, the Texas Open being the only place he made a cut in the U.S. this year will at least bring him back to San Antonio in 2006.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

No Comment(s)

Just a housekeeping note: I've had to turn off the "Comments" feature due to too much comment spam. Not a big deal, since we only have a few people who occasionally posted legitimate comments, but my apologies to those folks.

We're working on a new, improved Texas Golf site that will incorporate a few great features in addition to the blog. But the blog will also change, switching to a new platform, one that I hope will allow us to bring back the Comments. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

59 For Former Coog

Aussie Brad McIntosh, a former University of Houston golfer, was playing Down Under last week in the Queensland PGA Championship. That's an event on the Von Nida Tour, sort of the Nationwide Tour equivalent on the Australasian circuit.

Why are we mentioning this? Because McIntosh fired a 59 - the first-ever 59 in a professional event in Australia.

"I knew I had a chance to break 60 with a few holes to go, and my playing partner Peter Senior was telling me he hadn’t seen a 59 before,” said McIntosh following the round. “I hit a beautiful approach shot on the final hole with my (Wilson) Pi5 sand wedge up to about three feet to set up my birdie for the 59. The course was perfect for scoring."

I guess one thing McIntosh learned spending his collegiate years in Texas is how to work in that NASCAR-like mention of the sponsor.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Tommy Two Gloves

Have you been watching "The Big Break" this season? Me neither. Well, except to check it out in a couple early episodes.

There was one guy who stood out, not necessarily for his golf for his approach to golf. Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey, so nicknamed because he wears gloves on both hands. His swing is, well, odd. He describes it as a baseball swing. I'll just say that it makes Jim Furyk's swing look positively Snead-like.

But good on ya, Tommy, for cashing a $50,000 check by winning the U.S. Pro Golf Tour's Tour Championship last weekend. It's the biggest paycheck of Tommy Two Gloves' career. But bad on ya, Tommy, for knocking off a Texan to do it. PGA Tour and Nationwide Tour vet Kelly Grunewald, of Grand Prairie, caught Gainey during the final round before finishing a stroke back.

Calling All Longhorns

... because this note will probably be of interest only to UT grads and fans. The ribbon was recently cut at the UT Golf Academy. The academy is part of the University of Texas Golf Club in Steiner Ranch (which, I once read somewhere, even allows Aggies to join). The women's golf coach at UT calls the new setup "some of the best facilities in the country".

Monday, November 14, 2005

PGA Q-School - Stage 2 Results

Three of the six stage-two qualifiers - including both held in Texas - for the PGA Tour Q-School final were completed over the weekend. Three more are played this week. Here is a rundown of the Texas golfers who advanced from stage two to the Q-School finals:

Deerwood Golf Club, Kingwood
Roland Thatcher, The Woodlands, 285
Jeff Burns, San Antonio, 285
Cameron Beckman, San Antonio, 286
Tom Byrum, Richmond, 287
B.J. Staten, Dallas, 287
Brad Lardon, Austin, 288
Full Results

Golfers had to finish in the Top 19 plus ties to advance. Recognizable names moving on included Bill Glasson, Steve Stricker, Jason Allred, Brian Henninger, Matthias Gronberg, Dan Forsman and Franklin Langham. Some recognizable names who failed to advance from this regional included Craig Bowden, Jim Gallagher Jr., Brendan Pappas, Glen Day, Matt Weibring, Brian Watts and Emlyn Aubrey. David Frost withdrew following the third round.

Stonebridge Country Club, Dye Course, McKinney
Michael Connell, Richardson, 285
Hunter Haas, Dallas, 286
Keoke Cotner, Bedford, 288
Full Results

Top 19 plus ties advanced. Some of the recognizable names advancing: D.A. Points, Brad Adamonis, D.J. Brigman and Jim Carter. San Antonio's Greg Hiller missed by one shot. Among the recognizable names failing to advance: Spike McRoy.

No Texans advanced out of the third stage two qualifying site last week. It was held in California, and the results are here. Recognizable names advancing from that location include: Skip Kendall, Larry Mize, Boo Weekly, Phillip Price and Pat Bates. Recognizable names failing to advance included: Glen Hnatiuk, David Morland IV, Dicky Pride, Scott Gump, Jaxon Brigman of Fort Worth, Paul Gow, John Maginnes, Casey Wittenburg and Dick Mast. Nolan Henke and Mac O'Grady withdrew following the third round.

North Tops South in TGA Texas Shoot-Out Matches

The final event of the Texas Golf Association tournament season wrapped up over the week, with the North team besting the South for the TGA Texas Shoot-Out championsip.

The Texas Shoot-Out is a Ryder Cup-style event. This year it was played at Fort Worth's Colonial Country Club.

Here's the report from the TGA:

The South squad took the early lead in the Saturday morning Four Ball matches by collecting 6.5 points to the North's 5.5 in very windy conditions. The wind continued to blow at 20-25 mph all day, which made the afternoon Foursomes (Alternate Shot format) extremely challenging.

The south squad kept the hot teams of Steve Gill & Ron Schroeder and Terrence Miskell & Jonathon Mathias together for the afternoon matches and it paid off big. Both teams swept all three available points and won an impressive 4.5 points out of a possible 6 for the day. When the dust settled the South expanded their lead by picking up 7.5 points, while the North scraped out some crucial points down the stretch to wind up with 4.5 for their Foursome total. After Saturday's matches the South was once again sitting on an overnight lead of four points.

After losing the first two Texas Shoot-Out events, the North rallied on Sunday. Last-minute changes to the singles match line-up by North Captain Ryan Finn paid off. The conditions on Sunday morning were near perfect for the Singles Matches and the North players came out hot. The first four North players posted nine out of a possible 12 points for their team and the momentum had shifted. Bob Neal, Steve Galko, Chuck Palmer, and Roger Marcincuk all played extremely well, and appeared to relish the singles format. Terrence Miskell was the anchor for the South team, however his 3-point contribution wasn't enough. Single Match total - North Team: 16 points, South Team: 8 points.

Needing only 24.5 points for the trophy and title, the Comeback at Colonial was complete. The North won 26-22 to claim the Texas Shoot-Out for the first time. Hard-fought matches on one of the best classic courses in the world made for an
exciting conclusion to the TGA season.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

SPI Texas Senior Open

Chuck Moran is your winner at the 2005 South Padre Island Texas Senior Open, completed on Friday. Moran posted rounds of 69, 72 and 70 at South Padre Island Golf Club, then survived a three-way playoff against Dean Overturf and David Lunstrom. Steve Veriato nearly joined the playoff with a final round of 66, but fell a shot short and wound up in a fourth-place tie with Denny Stolhand.

The complete results are available here.

A couple items of interest come to mind looking at the results:

• Second-place finisher Lundstrom, of Houston, and fourth-place finisher Veriato, of Marcos, are among a handful of Texas who'll be playing the final stage of Champions Tour qualifying Nov. 16-21. Other Texans in the final field: Perry Arthur, Plano; Keith Fergus, Sugar Land; Doug Higgins, Fort Worth; Garry Rippy, Austin; Tom Strueber, Dallas.

• The golfer who tied for 12th at the SPI TSO was Joe Jimenez. I ran across his name a couple days ago browsing the About.com Golf site. It was an article about age-shooter records - you know, youngest to shoot his age and so on. Jimenez holds the record for youngest golfer on any of the world's major pro tours to shoot his age (firing a 63 in a Champions Tour event when he was 65). That was in 1991, which means Joe is around 79 years old today. Yet there he was finishing 12 at the SPI TSO, shooting rounds of 75, 74 and 72. I played a group behind Joe at The Republic in San Antonio not too long ago, and he still hits the ball a mile (compared to us mere mortals).

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Cribbing the Chronicle

I was going to mention the lead item in Doug Pike's weekly Houston Chronicle golf notebook, but then I read the second item and decided it should be mentioned, too. Then I read the third. And fourth. In other words, Doug's got some good stuff this week.

You can read the column here - if you can get past the login page. (Here's a hint: if you're asked to log in, open a new browser and go to www.bugmenot.com and follow instructions. You can thank me later.)

Doug rounds up the recent Women's Texas Cup Match Play tournament (won by the South); previews the Joe Black Cup Matches, which pits mens teams representing the Northern and Southern Texas sections of the PGA; updates the status of the Village Golf Club in Conroe, until recently known as Panorama Country Club but now a city course; and congratulates Neil Wilkins of Sienna Plantation for being named Southern Texas PGA teacher of the year.

USGA Championship Coming to Texas

Alas, it's not one of the big ones, but we'll take what we can get.

The USGA announced recently that the 2007 USGA State Team Championships will be played at The Club at Carlton Woods in The Woodlands. The dates will be Sept. 18-20, so mark those calendars!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Peachy Kuehne? Nope, Kelli's in the Pits

A few days ago, I was looking through the list of players who will be taking part in the final stage of LPGA Qualifying (starting Nov. 30). One name jumped out: Kelli Kuehne.

I've always loved Kelli Kuehne. She's got that great Texas drawl and, well, look at her. She's darn cute. (Don't tell the wife, Birdie McDuff, that I said that!)

Kelli's fallen on hard times. Her golf game ain't what it used to be. But then I realized that her LPGA game was never what it was supposed to be. She's won only once on Tour. Sure, she's a 2-time Solheim Cup member, but one win isn't what was expected from her.

Remember: Kelli's amateur career was a spectacular one. She won the U.S. Girls Junior Amateur, then the U.S. Women's Amateur the following year - only the second golfer to win those two titles in back-to-back years. In 1996, she won the U.S. Women's and British Women's amateurs, the first woman ever to accomplish that double in the same year. She was an All-American at the University of Texas.

When Tiger Woods went pro near the end of 1996, and signed a big-dollar deal with Nike, Kelli Kuehne did the same thing. She was probably the most anticipated LPGA rookie since Amy Alcott in the late 1970s. And like Alcott, the buzz surrounding Kuehne led to a lot of resentment from her new peers (LPGA vets boycotted Nike for several years after).

(Aside: Rumors at the time said that Tiger and Kelli were dating. They denied it, and I believed them. Tiger had whipped Tripp and Hank in amateur play. To then turn around and sleep with their sister, well, that kind of domination of one person over an entire family just wouldn't be right.)

Unlike Tiger, Kelli wasn't able to earn her Tour card by winning late in 1996. She had to go through qualifying in 1997. Her one win came in 1999. She's finished in the Top 20 on the money list just once. She's hasn't been in the Top 50 since 2002. In 2005, Kuehne won a paltry $30,419, just 135th on the money list.

Bye-bye card, hello Q-School.

Maybe Kelli should talk to Rosie Jones about how to survive, and thrive, on the LPGA when you're always two clubs short of everyone else.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Cowabunga, Dude

Congratulations to Bart Bryant, pride of Gatesville, Texas, on his Tour Championship victory. A win in The Memorial and the Tour Championship in the same year - not bad for a guy who shares the record for most times making it through Tour School (6).

Bryant is the first person to win the Tour Championship in his first appearance in the event since Tom Watson in 1987. The catch: 1987 was the first year the Tour Championship was played. It was called the Nabisco Championship then, and it was played at San Antonio's Oak Hills Country Club (for many years the site of the Texas Open and now the site of the SBC Championship on the Champions Tour).

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Bad Pants Open

The 2005 edition of the Bad Pants Open is just a couple days away. Forget about who will win the tournament; the only thing that really matters (well, aside from the money the tournament raises for the Texas Childrens Hospital) is who wears the crown by wearing the worst pants.

Pants like these:










These photos appear on the Bad Pants Open website, along with many more from the previous year's tournament. There'll be plenty of cameras out on Tuesday for the 2005 tournament at BlackHorse Golf Club in Cypress. Check the website in a couple weeks to see if the new photos have been uploaded.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

PGA Tour Announcements

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem's touted "state of the game" address before the Tour Championship didn't live up to the hype. Finchem was supposed to provide many more details about the major changes expected to come to the PGA Tour schedule in 2007 (such as a points race, "playoff system," and tournaments being shuffled around the schedule).

Instead, he really just restated some of the minor details that are already known (see story). So we don't know yet whether the Texas Open really is moving from September to May on the schedule, or whether the Colonial, Nelson and Houston Open are staying in their regular slots.

But we do know what's happening in 2006. Which is more of the same. Here are the 2006 dates for the four Texas tournaments:

  • April 20-23: Houston Open
  • May 11-14: Byron Nelson Championship
  • May 18-21: Colonial
  • Sept. 21-24: Texas Open

One minor change: The Houston Open, while remaining at Redstone Golf Club, will be played on the Rees Jones Course that opened this year.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Texas Company Touting New Putter Shafts

You don't hear much about shafts in putters. The putting swing is only about 3-4 mph in speed - how much difference is a shaft going to make?

Fort Worth-based shaftmaker UST says its new Frequency Filtered putter shafts will make a difference in a golfer's ability to perceive where on the clubface he or she is striking the ball. The shaft, in other words, is intended to produce better feel and feedback.

The Frequency Filtered shaft is graphite at the grip end with a steel tip at the head end, and a middle section that is "specifically designed to allow certain vibration frequencies to pass through to the player's hands and block out other frequency ranges from proceeding up the shaft length."

I'm skeptical that any putter shaft will made a noticeable difference for fewer than 5-percent of golfers. But given UST's track record, I'm eager to give this one a try. You can read the press release about the Frequency Filtered putter shafts here.